NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Time’s over for thinking about the vax

Feature tile: Elder Don Rowlands, Photo: Bruce Atkinson, ABC Sunshine Coast. Image source: ABC News.

Time’s over for thinking about the vax

Dr Aleeta Fejo (GP and Larrakia traditional owner) said opening borders would be a concern for the NT. “Our people are already vulnerable because we are a long way away from the hospital, because we don’t have a lot of staff at our clinics or the resources needed to look after everybody, because many of us are sick, and because we live in overcrowded conditions,” she told ABC Radio Darwin’s Late Breakfast. “It’s very concerning. “The time for thinking about it is over. The time for action is now.”

To listen to Dr Fejo’s interview click here.

Dr Aleeta Fejo

Larrakia traditional owner, elder and general practitioner Aleeta Fejo.

Minister issues warning to unvaccinated

As the NT government struggles to increase vaccination rates in Indigenous communities, Health Minister Natasha Fyles has issued a stern warning to those who refuse to be jabbed. “A large outbreak in an unvaccinated community would be devastating,” she said. “Let’s be frank about that. People will tragically pass away.”

Ms Fyles said people who refused to be vaccinated could potentially add pressure to the NT’s health care system. According to the NT Department of Health website, the Alice Springs Health Service catchment area covers approximately 42,000 people and covers a distance of more than 1 million square kms — extending into the bordering areas of SA and WA.

Ms Fyles said the Alice Springs Hospital had only 10 intensive care beds. “The more people that are vaccinated, the less impact on our hospital system,” Ms Fyles said.

To view the story in full click here.

NT Health Minister Natasha Fyles getting covid-19 vax

NT Health Minister Natasha Fyles. Image source: NT News.

Need to see my own mob getting vax

Noongar woman Charmaine Councillor, from Bunbury in WA, is fully vaccinated but understands why almost 80% of her community is not. “We don’t actually see it on television. We always see other communities from other places (getting vaccinated); we don’t know these people,” she said.

“But [it would help] if we could see our own local people … maybe nurses that are Aboriginal, that we do know of, or health workers that are actually delivering the vaccine and people that are actually saying ‘yes, I’ve had my vaccine’.”

To read the article in full click here.

Aboriginal woman receiving covid-19 vax

Photo: Samantha Jonscher, ABC Alice Springs. Image source: ABC News.

ANAO immunisation coverage audit

The audit objective was to assess the effectiveness of the Department of Health’s approach to improving and monitoring immunisation coverage. The DoH’s approach has been largely effectice, as reported immunisation rates have been improving.

You can view the report in full here and access the ANAO website here.

baby in mother's arms getting a vaccination in thigh

Image source: Australian Childcare Alliance NSW.

Bidgerdii runs SEWB Program

The Bidgerdii Community Health Service run a nationally funded Social and Emotional Well Being (SEWB) Program providing generalist counselling services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who are experiencing issues and concerns that affect their everyday emotional wellbeing.

The SEWB Program undertakes individual supported case management to empower clients to feel healthier through counselling therapies that relate to specific cultural healing practices, as well as facilitating the Bringing Them Home (BTH) component of the SEWB Program. The program also conducts specific counselling to members of the Stolen Generation and their families to ensure that individuals who access BTH counselling services have access to family tracing and supported referral options to other agencies working in the area of BTH, such as Queensland Link-Up services.

The SEWB Program covers the Rockhampton region of Queensland, including (Capricorn Coast, Blackwater, Central Highlands, Mount Morgan and Woorabinda.

For further information about the program click here.

$55m Amazon Web Services grants

Amazon Web Services (AWS) wants to make telehealth and telemedicine available to remote and marginalised communities around the world through a $55m grants program.

Director of Australia, NZ and Oceania, public sector for AWS Iain Rouse is encouraging Australian organisations to apply. That includes Indigenous health providers and providers of services to the disability community who may struggle with funding. “We would like to see grant applications from non-profits, start-ups, research institutions, universities and public companies.”

For further information visit the AWS website here.

vector images of computer screen, doctor & patient talking, background computer data, blue, white

Image source: AWS website.

OOHC service transferred to ACCO

One of Australia’s largest providers of out-of-home care (OOHC) will transfer services for Indigenous children to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community controlled services. Life Without Barriers (LWB) currently delivers services to around 25,000 people per year across 400 communities and is partnering with the Secretariat of National Aboriginal and Islander Child Care (SNAICC) to guide the transition.

LWB CEO Claire Robbs said though the organisation provided cultural support for Indigenous families, there was no substitute for the children being in the care of community. “We have been providing services to children and families in OOHC for decades now and we absolutely believe that if we are to be an organisation that really acts on our commitment to Reconciliation, this is a very critical step we must take,” she said.

Ms Robbs continued, “The ongoing intergenerational impact of children and families being separated is well documented and distressing. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and community have clearly stated how important it is for children to grow up connected to culture and in community and we simply must heed this call.”

To read the article in full click here.

bright Aboriginal painting of man, girl & boy

Image source: AbSec 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.

Cairns COVID-19 pop-up clinic TOMORROW 

A COVID-19 vaccination walk-in clinic will be held tomorrow 2-6PM Saturday 2 October 2021 at Barlow Park, Cairns. You can access these promotional materials poster, banner and a square tile for the event.

banner text 'COVID-19 vax pop-up clinic walk-in Cairns Barlow Park Sat 2 Oct 2-6pm'

Electronic Prescriptions for Consumers Q+A Session

As electronic prescriptions become more widely available across the country, the Australian Digital Health Agency invites you to join a “Electronic Prescribing Q+A Session for Consumers and Carers”. The purpose of the session is to provide you with a platform where your questions will be answered directly by an expert panel.

Ask any questions you might have related to your experience with using electronic prescriptions. Is there anything that wasn’t clear or left you wondering how it works? We welcome all your questions and there is no requirement to have used electronic prescribing prior to joining a session.

You will be able to participate by speaking directly with our subject matter experts, or by submitting questions anonymously through our questions platform. If you would like to submit your questions prior to the session to ensure they are addressed, please use the registration form below.

These sessions are open to consumer peak organisations, members and consumer advocates, carers and advisors.

Event title: Your questions answered: Electronic Prescriptions for Consumers

Dates: 
12-12.30pm AEDT Thursday – 7 October 2021  (Sydney, Melbourne, Canberra)
12-12.30pm AEDT Thursday – 14 October 2021 (Sydney, Melbourne, Canberra)
12-12.30pm AEDT Thursday – 21 October 2021 (Sydney, Melbourne, Canberra)

Register here (select preferred date from drop-down menu).

hand holding iPhone with electronic script on screen

Image source: Victoria Harbour Medical Centre.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Pregnant women eligible for COVID-19 vaccine

feature tile text 'pregnant women or women trying to fall pregnant eligible for COVID-19 vaccine' torso of pregnant belly with Aboriginal body painting

Pregnant women eligible for COVID-19 vaccine

All pregnant women or women trying to fall pregnant are now eligible for their COVID-19 vaccine.

You can hear Dr Marilyn Clarke explain why it’s important to get a COVID-19 vaccine to protect both you and your baby during pregnancy in this video.

For more information speak to your local health care worker or visit the Australian Government Department of Health website vaccine eligibility page here.

 

Make an informed vaccine choice

“Make an informed choice after speaking to a trusted Aboriginal medical professional.” That’s the advice Andrew Birtwistle-Smith has for people who are on the fence about the COVID-19 vaccination.

Birtwistle-Smith is a Boandik Meintangk man from southeast SA and the CEO of South Australian medical service, Pangula Mannamurna Aboriginal Corporation in Mount Gambier. Birtwistle-Smith is fully vaccinated and said he made the choice to get the jab after weighing up the pros and cons.

“I just got myself informed [by] speaking to my medical professional and my local GP in regards to the role of the vaccinations, what it means, and what the pros and cons were,” he told NIT. “The benefits far outweigh the negatives. If I got COVID and I wasn’t vaccinated, based on statistics, I could be in serious trouble.”

“Even with the vaccinations … I might not be 100% covered and I still might get the virus, but based on research around hospitalisations, death, and long-term effects from COVID, if I’m vaccinated, there’s less likelihood that will happen to me.”

He said it’s important to be aware that not all information available about the vaccinations will be reliable. “Try and avoid taking things from Facebook or from your particular websites that have no evidence about whether that information is accurate or not,” he said. “I know it’s difficult to do, particularly when it’s coming from family or family’s Facebook pages, but I still say that may not necessarily be accurate information. What’s best is to go and speak to medical professionals.”

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

Andrew Birtwistle Smith.

Andrew Birtwistle Smith: Image source: National Indigenous Times.

COVID-19 resources for carers

The current COVID-19 restrictions are affecting many among us in Australia, particularly family carers caring for a person at the end of life. To support them in their caring role, a  range of information resources have been developed by CarerHelp, including factsheets on:

  • Caring for a person at the end of life at home during COVID-19
  • Caring for a person at the end of life in hospital during COVID-19
  • Funerals and grieving during COVID-19
  • Using telehealth
  • Can I trust this information
  • Caring during COVID-19 infographics

You can access all of these resources on the CarerHelp website here.

CarerHelp logo & male & female Aboriginal elders

Image sources: CareHelp website and CarerSearch website.

COVID-19 task force commander interview

Lieutenant General John Frewen, the COVID-19 task force commander, was interviewed by Leigh Sales on ABC 7.30. In response to to Ms Sales question “In the race between cases spreading through the population and vaccination spreading through the population, vaccination is winning, but is it moving fast enough that when lockdowns and case numbers inevitably move into much higher figures, that death and serious illness will remain low?” Lieutenant General Frewen replied:

“Leigh, so as you’ve mentioned, I’m glad you’ve seen that the momentum in the vaccine rollout is really picking up speed, but of course, this Delta variant is- it’s really- it spreads rapidly. It’s really concerning. So we do have to have two arms at play. We’ve got to have the lockdowns, the testing, the tracing, the isolation. And then we also need to be vaccinating as quickly as we can. And I’m committed to a national vaccine rollout because I think for the very reason you’ve described about outbreaks moving around, that we do need to make sure that the vaccine rollout is happening as consistently as we can.”

“Ideally in some areas we’ll manage to get to those high rates of vaccination before further outbreaks. But in situations like we’ve got in Sydney right now, which you know are very, very challenging, we’ve got to do the two concurrently. So we’re working to get those vaccines into the highest priority areas as fast as we can. But all of those other measures we’ve got to persist with until we get the spread under control.”

To view a full transcript of the interview click here.

Leigh Sales ABC 7.30

Leigh Sales ABC 7.30. Image source: ABC iView.

COVID-19 vaccine update for GPs webinar

The latest in the Australian Government Department of Health’s series of COVID-19 vaccine updates for GPs webinar will be held from:

11:30am–12:00pm this Thursday 26 August 2021.

Joining Professor Michael Kidd AM will be Dr Lucas de Toca, First Assistant Secretary, COVID-19 Primary Care Response, Department of Health.

At this webinar, you’ll be provided with the latest information on the vaccine rollout. GPs and all health professionals are welcome.

When you’re ready to join, use this link.

tile light blue background text in navy 'Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update for GPs' pink vector virus cells

All-Aboriginal police station brings huge change

Senior Constable Wendy Kelly helped make history when she transferred to the Aboriginal community of Warakurna: it became Western Australia’s first entirely Indigenous-run police station.

In a video produced by Isabelle Rodd, Senior Constable Kelly explains how a new policing approach had a dramatic effect in the community.

Senior Constable Wendy Kelly, her colleague Revis & Daisy Ward, Ngaanyatjarra Elder standing against police vehicle in outback setting

Senior Constable Wendy Kelly, her colleague Revis & Daisy Ward, Ngaanyatjarra Elder.

Child immunisation rates continue to rise

The Australian Government invests over $450 million each year though the National Immunisation Program, providing free vaccines to protect against 17 disease groups for eligible Australians, including children, adolescents, the elderly, pregnant women and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Among two-year olds, the coverage rate has increased to 92.63% for the 12 months to June 2021. One-year old children have a coverage rate of 94.85%. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children at five years of age continue to have the highest coverage rate of any group at 97.12%. The coverage rate for two-year old Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children increased to 91.96%, while the rate for one-year olds is 93.36%.

To view the media release in full click here.

young Aboriginal child on mother's knee getting vaccinated

Image source: The North West Star.

If you see disrespect, unmute yourself, speak up

As parents and influencers of our young people, we want the best for them, and for our community. You may have seen the Stop it at the Start campaign’s ‘Unmute yourself’ advertising over the past few months. Stop it at the Start is the Australian Government’s national campaign to reduce violence against women.

While not all disrespect results in violence, all violence against women starts with disrespect. We all want our young people to be healthy and proud of who they are. We want them to understand right and wrong, and to respect others and respect themselves. Our young people learn from us — what we say and do tells them what kind of behavior is OK.

Stop it at the Start aims to unite the community to help break the cycle of disrespect and violence against women by:

  • setting positive role models for respectful behaviour
  • unmuting ourselves to ‘speak up’ about disrespect when we see it
  • yarning with young people about respect.

There are simple ways we can all make a positive change. By speaking up about respect, we can make our communities better, stronger places for our future generations.

You can access a range of resources, including the video below, developed especially for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the Australian Government’s Violence Against Women – Let’s Stop it at the Start website 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.
dice spelling JOBS resting on keyboard

Wear it Purple Day

Wear It Purple was founded in 2010 in response to global stories of real teenagers, real heartache and their very real responses. As the world saw the faces of precious young lives lost, some young people found a new sense of conviction and purpose to ensure that young people everywhere would know that there were people who did support and love them. Wear it Purple was established to show young people across the globe that there was hope, that there were people who did support and accept them, and that they have the right to be proud of who they are.

Since 2010, when Wear it Purple was founded Wear it Purple has developed into an international movement. New generations of rainbow young people continue to be dedicated to promoting the annual expression of support and acceptance to rainbow young people.

What started out small has now grown; however the message remains the same. Everybody has the right to be proud of who they are.

For more information you can access the LGBTIQ+ Health Australia website here.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Kids roll up sleeves to protect community

feature tile text 'ATSI kids roll up sleeves to protect community' arm of Aboriginal male youth with Aboriginal flag in Australia map tattoo on arm getting vaccinated

Kids roll up sleeves to protect community 

For Aboriginal 17-year-old Kaidyn Wright, getting vaccinated against COVID-19 was a no-brainer. The Thungutti teenager and his younger brothers – aged 12,15, and 16 – got the jab at Airds in SW Sydney on Thursday morning so they could better protect their Aboriginal community.

“I just think it’s important we get vaccinated, so we don’t spread the disease to our elderly and to my younger brothers, who have weaker immune systems,” Kaidyn said. The boys were vaccinated as part of a drive aimed at 12 to 18-year-olds run by the Tharawal Aboriginal Corporation (TAC), now that First Nations people over 12 can get the jab.

The organisation said it had vaccinated around 160 Aboriginal teenagers on Thursday, and Kaidyn said the turn-out had already made him feel safer in his community. “Yeah it’s great, so we can all get back to normal soon,” Kaidyn said.

Kaidyn’s father Lachlan Wright who is the operations manager at the TAC said he was thrilled with the numbers, and said that it was important for young Aboriginal people to protect themselves, “We know that it’s a hard time for them not being able to socialise with family and friends, and to go out and see their mates from school, and they’re all doing school from home which is even harder.”

The TAC advertised its event to young people by inviting Aboriginal Tik Tok stars with around 150,000 followers to promote the jabs last week, “We’ve got them to come in and have their jabs with us and then promote it on their Tik Tok … so we’ve found that’s really helped to get our youngsters,” Mr Wright said.

“If [COVID] gets out to our community then it could ravage us because we like to have a lot of people in our houses, we like to spend time with our families, we’re very social mob. So we want to get back to that way of living and the only way we can get back to that is if we all pitch in together and get our vaccination rates up,” he said.

To read the full article in the Sydney Morning Herald click here.

young Aboriginal woman getting vaccine

Image source: Student Edge website. Feature image: Kaidyn Wright, 17, getting his first COVID-19 jab in Sydney on Thursday. Photo: Nick Moir, SMH.

Wilcannia contacts must get tested, isolate

The Centre for Aboriginal Health at NSW Health have become aware of some risks relating to Wilcannia in the past week and have important information for community members and organisations. They strongly suggest that:

If you have recently been in Wilcannia on or after Thursday 12 August 2021, or you have spent time with someone who has been in Wilcannia, you should immediately get tested and self isolate until you receive a negative result.

If you or someone you know has any symptoms of COVID-19 (runny nose, cough, fever or body aches and pains) you must self isolate until you receive a negative result.

For those across NSW, you must stay at home unless you have a reasonable excuse to leave your home. We understand this may be challenging and wanted to make you aware of the following services that may support you and your community to stay safe:

For community members identified as positive, close or a casual contact will be directly referred by NSW Health and will be supported by Resilience NSW.

For community members not being directly assisted by NSW Health in health directed isolation and are in the Public Health Order to stay at home you can be supported by Service NSW by calling 13 77 88 who can support with a range of services including food relief.  You can access information on a range of support services available on the Supporting NSW through COVID-19 page of the NSW Government website here.

Alternatively, you can also search for local support services via this link.

The NSW Government and the Australian Government also offers financial assistance and support if you have been impacted by COVID-19 and are experiencing financial difficulty. You can find out about the various types of payments here.

Some community information is also available here.

sign text 'keep our Wilccania community health - good health and hygiene stop the spread of COVID-19'

Community representatives say the town is doing all it can to look after each other while staying home. Photo: Bill Ormonde, ABC Broken Hill. Image source: ABC News.

In a related news article, Sam Brennan, the director of the Victoria-based Mallee District Aboriginal Service (MDAS), said “a lot of our mainly Aboriginal community from both sides of the border attended the funeral. We do believe there are people who have attended that actually live in Mildura [in Victoria], but the main focus is on the Dareton-Wentworth area [in NSW],” she said.

“So we’re using our social media platforms and any other avenue to say if you’ve been [to the funeral], come and get tested and stay at home until you’ve got that test result.”

You can read the ABC News article in full here.

front of MDAS Mallee District Aboriginal Service building & MDAS logo

Image source: ABC News.

AMA warns ‘don’t mess with Delta’

Australia’s peak medical association has called on National Cabinet to immediately strengthen the national approach to preventing the spread of the Delta virus, especially in the states and territories where there is currently no community transmission.

AMA President Dr Omar Khorshid said the key to fighting Delta was to get ahead of the virus and stay ahead, “We can’t be complacent in those places that don’t have Delta because once we find it, it’s often already spread significantly.”

“We need a buffer to curb the spread that happens before we detect it, especially until we get vaccination rates up, in the form of sensible restrictions – things like caps on numbers in stadiums and nightclubs, mask wearing on public transport and social distancing. We can’t take any chances with Delta. We need this short-term strategy of pre-emptive measures and a reasonable level of restrictions around the country, at least until the end of the year. We’ve seen in NSW and overseas that once the Delta virus takes hold, it is very hard to contain.”

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

grey storm clouds, yellow signs 'COVID-19' & 'DELTA' black text, same pole

Image source: AZCentral.

Darwin and Katherine’s COVID-19 lockdown

It takes about three and a half hours to drive from Darwin to Katherine, which is the trip the town’s local MP made as soon as a snap lockdown was declared and parliament cancelled on Monday. Member for Katherine Jo Hersey said she has since observed quiet streets as well as residents following the rules during the town’s first lockdown.

“Most people I have seen are all doing the right thing by wearing masks when they are out in public, and I hope this continues so we can come out of lockdown as soon as it is safe,” she said.

Wurli-Wurlinjang Aboriginal Health Service CEO Suzi Berto said during lockdown the service had been out in communities promoting safety measures and vaccination among residents. “We have been really busy since we received the news of the positive case in Katherine,” she said. “Our people are now looking to be vaccinated, which is a good thing.”

Ms Berto said the service had delivered an increased number of shots since the lockdown. “Everything is going really well … we have been operating a vaccine clinic since May, and through the lockdown we are triaging clients that are coming through.”

You can view the article in full here.

The Katherine community was enjoying a busy tourism season before lockdown hit.(ABC News: Mitchell Woolnough). Image source: ABC News.

SA’s rural Aboriginal health workforce plan

SA faces many challenges in recruiting, training and developing the health professionals and skilled volunteers needed to deliver public health services in rural areas. A draft plan to strengthen and grow the Aboriginal health workforce, part of the state government’s Rural Health Workforce Strategy, has been released for consultation. The draft Rural Aboriginal Health Workforce Plan explores strategies to attract, recruit and strengthen the regional Aboriginal health workforce.

Health Minister Stephen Wade said the aim was to continue to deliver a high level of care in rural areas. “The Aboriginal health workforce in rural and remote SA is integral to delivering culturally responsive health services and improving the health and wellbeing of our Aboriginal communities,” he said.

“Our draft Rural Aboriginal Health Workforce Plan aims to increase the Aboriginal health workforce in regional areas and provide culturally appropriate and supportive health care for Aboriginal people, closer to home. Consultation with Aboriginal communities, regional Local Health Network leads, the Aboriginal health workforce and key stakeholders will occur across the state until October, [and] feedback will be brought together to ensure we can secure the workforce we need for the future.”

You can view the draft plan here and the Transcontinental Port Augusta article here.

yellow road sign outback text 'clinic 10 km'

Image source: newsGP website.

Headspace’s Take A Step campaign

Brisbane-based social change agency Carbon Creative has developed the Take a Step advertising campaign to promote mental health and reduce youth suicide in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

The campaign launched this week and was co-created with headspace, the National Youth Mental Health Foundation, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people from around the country who had lived experience of mental ill-health.

Research shows Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples aged 24 and under are three times more likely than other young people to die by suicide.

The campaign encourages Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people to recognise the signs that something’s not right and provides small, practical steps towards feeling better, such as ‘doing something that makes you feel good.’

Carbon Creative Managing Director and Birri Gubba manvWayne Denning said they understood the sensitivities of the campaign. “We spent a lot of time working with headspace, community elders and young people before any creative was developed to ensure we not only understood the challenge but could co-create something real and meaningful with them that would really resonate.”

You can view the videos here.

Aboriginal student resting on desk with two rocks one with the word 'lonely' & one with the word 'sad'

Stroke support for survivors, carers and families

Jude, from StrokeLine, says “While most people ask StrokeLine practical questions about stroke, many conversations turn to mental wellbeing. Survivors of stroke, carers and families are finding the uncertainty and the isolation are taking a toll.

Everyone has their own ways to cope. People know what works for them and their families. When you’re finding it tough, you may need to refresh what you are doing. What worked yesterday might not work today.

It’s a good time to focus on the people and things that make you feel good. Text or call people who lift you up. Do things you enjoy. The point is to feel good. If you can, be physically active every day. You don’t need to be Jane Fonda – just do whatever works for you. Eat more fresh food. Take time to rest and if your sleep is being affected speak with your GP.

The StrokeLine team are here to help. “When you’re feeling overwhelmed, it’s hard to look after yourself. That’s when talking with someone can be helpful. On StrokeLine (1800 787 653), we take the time to listen and we know which services and strategies may help. You’ll come away from a call, or email conversation, with a plan that works for you.”

You can access the recently released Stroke Foundation EnableMe newsletter here.

StrokeLine counsellor, text 'STROKE is Australia's leading cause of disability' map of Australia with wheelchair vector symbol

New process for job advertising

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Why Adam Goodes got the COVID-19 vaccine

feature tile text 'Adam Goodes tells us why he got the COVID-19 vaccine' drawing of syringes

Why Adam Goodes got the COVID-19 vaccine

Adnyamathanha and Narungga man Adam Goodes has explained (see video below) why he chose to get the COVID-19 vaccine and the importance of understanding the risks of COVID-19, and the benefits of vaccination. “Having my first injection does give me a peace of mind that I am doing my part and helping our families and our communities. To be honest, I have put a lot of thought into getting the COVID vaccination.”

“The obstetrician told us that my wife was able to get vaccinated to protect her and our baby. That made it very clear to me that is was very safe and it’s something that not only I, but all of us should really have a think about. Understand the risks involved in contracting COVID-19. I think it’s very important that all of us here in Australia should get vaccinated to protect our family and friends.”

“To my Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander brothers and sisters, it’s just as important for us to know the risks of COVID-19. But more importantly, the benefits of being vaccinated and the benefits to our mob and all of us going out there and getting that jab. Now that I’ve had my first injection, being vaccinated, it’s definitely something that I feel really proud about, not only to help protect myself and my family, but for me to do my part. By getting vaccinated, it’s helping us all move closer to getting back to normality. I’m arming myself against COVID-19 to protect myself, my family and the community.”

For COVID-19 vaccine information refer to state/territory health advice, ATAGI, Commonwealth.

Illustration in feature tile: Heads of State. Image source: WIRED website.

Boost in COVID-19 vaccines for ACCHOs

With COVID-19 numbers growing across NSW the AH&MRC has advocated for increased COVID-19 vaccines for ACCHOs to ensure the safety of Aboriginal people and communities. AH&MRC is proudly supporting 46 clinics across 29 ACCHOs in NSW to deliver the COVID-19 vaccine, with 8 clinics set to receive record numbers of vaccine doses.

Outbreaks of COVID-19 in regional NSW over the last two weeks have seen COVID-19 cases emerge in areas such as Dubbo and Walgett with close contact locations including Maitland, Mudgee, Bathurst and Orange. As the Aboriginal Health Peak Body in New South Wales, the AH&MRC has played a central role in supporting the ACCHOs to roll out the COVID-19 vaccines.

ACCHOs have delivered safe and effective COVID-19 responses to their communities for nearly 18 months now since the pandemic began. Strong communication around social distancing, isolation and quarantine have led to small numbers of Aboriginal cases of COVID-19. The current outbreak in the Greater Sydney area is now seeing cases move out into regional areas with high populations of Aboriginal people. ACCHOs that were receiving up to 120 doses of the Pfizer vaccine per week are now set to receive up to 600 doses per week in high-risk areas.

“In order to keep our people safe, it is essential that the ACCHO sector, including the AH&MRC, have the support of the Ministry of Health and other NSW Government branches. We are a priority population and we need action. We’re seeing workforce fatigue because we haven’t been resourced to be the leaders of the vaccine rollout for Aboriginal people. We can’t continue to foot the bill for this.” said Jade Hansen, Manager of Service Performance and Quality at the AH&MRC.

To view the AH&MRC’s media release in full click here.

vaccine being injected into arm

Image source: UNSW Sydney.

Pleas for Mob to talk about COVID-19 risks

The Mayor of Dubbo has pleaded with the Aboriginal community to speak up about the risks of COVID-19 as the cluster in Western NSW significantly increased.

Dubbo Mayor Stephen Lawrence again reinforced the health advice to stay at home and called upon members of the cities’ Aboriginal community to speak up. “Really, really important for the Aboriginal community to be strong advocates, as they have been, on this issue,” he said.

“If you are Aboriginal in West Dubbo, you can help by contacting your family and friends, especially people that might not be hearing these important health messages. Speak to your family, explain to them the urgent need to stay home. There’s been great reactions from leaders, Elders, sportspeople making social media videos, contributing to media, speaking out loudly to their community.”

To view the SBS NITV article in full click here.

Dubbo aerial view

Dubbo has seen a rise in COVID-19 cases. Image source: Nine News website.

Don’t believe the myths

As country and state leaders set their sites on vaccination goals to lift current COVID-19 restrictions, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are being urged to bolster the efforts and protect our communities.

On the frontline of the call to action is Gurdanji-Arrernte woman and head of NACCHO, Pat Turner OAM. In a high-risk category, Ms Turner described the process of receiving two doses of the Astra Zeneca vaccine as uneventful. “I had no reaction apart from a very sore arm and a bit of a headache,” she told NITV’s The Point. “I went home, took a panadol, went to bed – I woke up fine.”

As of 10 August about 150,000 First Nations people have received a dose of a COVID vaccine – equating to 27.9% of our population. 75,000 have been fully vaccinated, which is 13.6% of our people, figures that are well behind the wider population.

It’s a major concern for ACCHOs across the country, that have recently ordered 197, 246 doses of both the Pfizer and Astra Zeneca. Ms Turner wants First Nations peoples to take advantage of the supply.

“Don’t listen to all the myths, listen to the medical advice, listen to our health services,” she said. “Speak to the doctors if you have any concerns, but be rest assured you will have 99.9% protection if you get vaccinated against getting seriously ill and hospitalised.”

To view the article in full click here.

NACCHO CEO Pat Turner speaking on NITV The Point

Head of NACCHO, Pat Turner, is calling on mob to take advantage of vaccine supplies heading to ACCHOs. Image source: NITV.

Spreads as quick as a grass fire

Coonamble Aboriginal Medical Service CEO Phil Naden said a case there had seemed inevitable. “The reality has now hit home that this spreads as quick as a grass fire,” he said.

A 27-year-old man, released on bail from Bathurst prison, travelled six hours home to Walgett in the state’s north-west, passing through Coonamble on the way. At the time, the man had no inkling that a COVID-19 test he had taken in jail would soon come back positive.

The news was greeted with alarm in towns like Walgett and Coonamble, where around a third of the population is Aboriginal.

You can view the ABC news article in full here.

Coonamble AMS CEO Phil Naden portrait shot with green trees in background

Coonamble Aboriginal Medical Service CEO Phil Naden says the region was expecting a COVID case. Photo supplied: AH&MRC. Image source: ABC News website.

Calls for Indigenous vaccine data release

Under the current roll out plan, Indigenous Australians aged 55 and over have been classified as a 1B priority group since March. In June, it was expanded to all Indigenous people aged 16 and over.

But there is growing concern the vaccination rates of First Nations people are lagging behind the rest of the nation. Just 14% of First Nations people nationally are fully vaccinated compared to the overall national rate of 25%.

Figures released by the federal government show vaccination rates in WA’s Kimberley and Pilbara regions are lagging at 8.6%. It’s among the lowest in the nation.

Unlike NZ, the Australian Government does not provide a breakdown of vaccination rates for our First Nations people. It’s something that opposition Indigenous Australians spokesman and Wiradjuri woman Linda Burney insists must change. Labor is calling on the government to release daily data on local First Nations vaccination rates and on the availability of vaccines.

“The lockdown of Walgett Shire has exposed the low vaccination rates among First Nations people, in particular in regional and remote communities,” she said. “But the issue of First Nations vaccination now as it stands must begin with accountability and transparency. And that means publishing their data and being able to identify the areas that lack supply, and ensuring they don’t get left behind.”

It follows a similar call from NACCHO, who last week demanded greater transparency amid fears the lack of vaccine data could leave big gaps for communities to be exposed to the virus.

You can read the article in full here.

Linda Burney MP

Linda Burney has urged the government to release vaccination data daily. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Gaye Gerard. Image source: The Australian.

Walgett Elders’ COVID-19 fears

Uncle Victor Beale hoped COVID-19 would never reach his hometown of Walgett. But as NSW’s outbreak worsens, remote and regional communities like Walgett and Dubbo are now experiencing the same fear and uncertainty that has gripped cities around the country, and the world, for the past 18 months.

“I thought Walgett is one of the safest places on earth, we’ve been very lucky… [but now] there’s a lot of anxious people,” the 66-year-old Gamilaroi elder said.

The north-western NSW town and seven surrounding areas were plunged into a 7-day lockdown last Wednesday {11 August 2021] after a local man tested positive following his release from Bathurst jail.

“People just don’t know what’s gonna happen. They’re very tough these people out here, they handle just about everything, but when something sneaks up on you like this, it’s a whole different ball game,” Mr Beale said.

According to the 2016 Census, more than 40% of Walgett’s population identify as Indigenous, and many of them suffer from multiple chronic health conditions. The town has a four-bed hospital, and the nearest larger hospital is a three-hour drive away in Dubbo. Concerns are mounting about the strain on local health facilities if things get worse.

“We’ll be doing the best we can. We want to try and keep people on country if we can, but at the same time it’s going to be what’s best for them for medical treatment,” acting CEO of Walgett’s Aboriginal Medical Service Katrina Ward said.

To view the news article in full click here.

Katrina Ward, Acting CEO of Walgett Aboriginal Medical Service

Katrina Ward, Acting CEO of Walgett Aboriginal Medical Service. Image source: ABC News.

New process for job advertising

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

Click here to go to the NACCHO website where you can complete a form with job vacancy details – it will then be approved for posting and go live on the NACCHO website.
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NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: NACCHO CEO talks about COVID-19 vaccination rates

feature tile text 'NACCHO CEO talks about COVID-19 vaccination rates in ATSI communities' photo of back of Aboriginal man in outback receiving vaccine

NACCHO CEO talks about COVID-19 vaccination rates

NACCHO CEO Pat Turner AM spoke with journalist John Paul Jenke (Wuthathi from Cape York and from Murray Island in the Torres Strait) on NITV’s The Point last night about COVID-19 vaccination rates. Mr Jenke asked Pat Turner why we aren’t further along with the vaccinations in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and whether this is a supply issue or vaccine hesitancy.

Pat Turner said the vaccination rates are worrying but 96 of NACCHOs [143] member services around Australia are now delivering the Pfizer vaccine and 16 ACCHO Commonwealth vaccination centres (formally the respiratory clinics ) have commenced delivering Pfizer and 13 ACCHOs are being supported by the RFDS. In total have 197,246 doses have been ordered by ACCHOs, 75,486 of Pfizer and 121,760 of AstraZeneca. Pat Turner emphasised that COVID-19 is a very dangerous virus and to avoid getting seriously ill and ending up in hospital and possibly dying you must get vaccinated.

You can watch the interview with Pat Turner at 19:43:40 here.

tile text 'NITV NACCHO CEO Lead Convener Coalition of Peaks Pat Turner AM COIVD-19 Vaccine rates National Agreement on Closing the Gap View Episode 15, Season 2021: The Point, NITV' & photo of Pat Turner smiling in very colourful shirt

Image in feature tile from The Conversation.

GP COVID-19 update for GPs TOMORROW

The latest in the Australian Government Department of Health webinar series of COVID-19 vaccine updates for GPs is tomorrow Thursday 12 August from 11:30am-12pm (AEST). Dr Lucas de Toca, First Assistant Secretary, COVID-19 Primary Care Response Department of Health and Dr Chris Harrison, General Practitioner, Canberra will join Professor Michael Kidd AM on the webinar this week.

At this webinar, you’ll be provided with the latest information on the vaccine rollout.  GPs and all health professionals are welcome.

When you’re ready to join the webinar, use this link.

Mental health fastest growing hospital admission

The Australian Medical Association (AMA) has warned that despite additional investment in the last Budget, chronic underfunding of existing frontline services and a lack of psychiatrists is besetting a mental health sector struggling to cope in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. The AMA has told the House Select Committee on Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Australia’s mental health system is suffering from underfunding at all sector and government levels, and services are not coping with demand, even before the impact of COVID-19 is felt.

Calling for more investment into mental health care, AMA President Dr Omar Khorshid said that although extra funding in the last Budget was welcome, the providers of existing mental health services received no additional support despite overwhelming demand. The situation in public mental health is even more dire, landing more people with severe mental health conditions in already over-stretched hospital emergency departments.

“There are not enough psychiatrists in Australia and there is likely to be increased demand for their services generated by the pandemic. We urgently need an alternative to emergency departments treating people experiencing acute mental ill-health. We know that mental health admissions to hospitals are the fastest growing of any hospital admission, increasing at an average rate of 4.8% each year from 2013–14 and the five following years, so that’s a total growth of 26.4% over five years from 2013.

“People with mental health conditions are also staying longer in hospital – up to twice as long as people with heart conditions, for example, according to data from AIHW. “Australia also has a serious shortage of child and adolescent child psychiatrists and we need a serious commitment to grow this cohort of the mental health workforce to support early detection. We need to understand there is very high demand for mental health services in regional and rural areas and getting the workforce into these places requires urgent attention,” Dr Khorshid said.

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

Image source: Australia247 website.

First Nations census inclusion only 50 years ago

It’s been half a century since Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people were included in the national headcount. It’s more important than ever. The national census rolls around every five years, like just another item on life’s to-do list. But this year is special.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the 1971 census, the first ever to count Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. It followed the successful 1967 referendum to change Australia’s constitution, allowing First Nations people the right to be counted as citizens in their own country.

While many may see the quinquennial event as just another piece of government administration, a glorified headcount, it’s a significant moment. It’s a chance to get a clear picture of the country: where we come from, how old we are, what languages we speak, our health, and so much more. It’s why this anniversary is important: it gives us a snapshot of where we are as a community.

“The census is the largest time where our voices are heard as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people,” says Haidee Allan, a Census Spokesperson for 2021. “The census tells us things like housing, education, who’s living at home, and those things are really important for the services that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders need so vitally.”

To view the article in full click here.

Census Engagement Officers. Image source: NITV News.

Funding boost for FASD diagnosis and care

The diagnosis and treatment of children with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) is set to be strengthened with the announcement of $3.68 million in funding from the Federal Government’s Drug and Alcohol Program awarded to Griffith University researchers.

Led by Professor Sharon Dawe and Associate Professor Dianne Shanley from Menzies Health Institute Queensland, the projects worth $1.88 million and $1.8 million respectively, will help further the development of diagnostic and family support across south-east Queensland and establish new diagnostic facilities in rural and remote Queensland with a focus on supporting First Peoples communities.

In collaboration with Associate Professor Doug Shelton (Queensland Health), Dr Andrew Wood (University of the Sunshine Coast) Dr Gerald Featherston (Kummara Association) and Associate Professor Paul Harnett (Griffith) Dr Dawe’s project will help establish a specialist neurodevelopmental clinic at Griffith’s Logan Campus. It will also assist ongoing collaboration with the Gold Coast Child Development Clinics, Kummara Association, Institute of Urban Indigenous Health, University of the Sunshine Coast and Coastal Developmental Paediatrics, Sunshine Coast.

“The expansion of these clinics allows us to provide services to younger children aged 3–7 and embed a pathway of care that support children at a key developmental phase,” Professor Dawe said. She said early diagnosis and support was essential for children with FASD, “Early to middle childhood is a time when children learn important foundational skills around managing their own behaviours, learning to plan activities and follow more complex instructions. These skills are essential for success in school and life.” “Children with a FASD need extra help in developing these skills and there is growing evidence that supporting children and their families at this critical time can help reduce some of the damage that has occurred due to prenatal alcohol exposure,’’ Associate Professor Shelton said.

“This grant will expand the capabilities of health professionals in primary care, by using our co-designed, culturally sensitive, tiered assessment process to identify and support children who are developmentally not-on-track. Our project involves true partnerships between community Elders, health practitioners and university researchers whereby multiple world views have been genuinely valued and integrated,’’ Dr Page said.

To view the full article click here.

Image source: Australian Government AIFS website.

Build ’em up podcast

The Build ’em up podcast series which aims to inspire communities to build the health, social and mental wellbeing of rural, regional and remote communities around Australia.

In the first episode of Build ’em up Elsie Seriat OAM, a Torres Strait Islander Elsie Seriat, an inspirational mum of two young boys, talks about her life and her involvement in Deadly Runners an Indigenous marathon project involving her participation in the New York Marathon. Elsie talks about why she took up running to self-manage her weight problems, the role models in her life and how important it is to inspire others in her community to make positive changes and not to be shame or ashamed.

You can listen to the Build ’em Up Elsie Seriat interview here and access the Build ’em Up website here.

TSI mum Elise Seriat holding two young sons - a baby & toddler

Torres Strait Islander Elsie Seriat. Image source: National Rural Health Alliance website.

Solving rural health workforce shortages

Three local government areas (LGAs) in north-western NSW have been selected to participate in a research project to address their long-standing health workforce shortages. Glen Innes, Gwydir Shire and Narrabri LGAs will work with a research team headed by Dr Cath Cosgrave to establish, fund and manage a Health Workforce Recruiter & Connector (HWRC) position.

“We have had a fantastic response from interested communities to establish the Health Workforce Recruiter and Connector (HWRC) positions,” said Dr Cosgrave. “The successful towns should be congratulated for their commitment to ensuring their residents have access to a range of health professionals needed to keep people healthy.” The purpose of the HWRC is to build networks to better identify and successfully attract health professionals (allied health, doctors and nurses) who are a ‘strong fit’ for the local community.

To view the media release click here.

Image source: 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.
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NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Changes to chronic disease incentive program

Feature tile - Tue.10.8.21 - Changes to chronic disease incentive program

Changes to chronic disease incentive program

The Practice Incentives Program – Indigenous Health Incentive (PIP IHI) encourages general practices and Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services to appropriately and effectively meet the health care needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with a chronic disease.

Chronic disease is responsible for 70% of the health gap between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and non-Indigenous Australians. The PIP IHI seeks to address this gap.

The Australian Government announced changes to the PIP IHI as part of the 2021–2022 Budget following a national consultation process. From 1 January 2023, the following will change:

  • Eligibility will be expanded to include children under the age of 15.
  • GP Mental Health Care Plans will be added as eligible items for the purposes of outcomes payments.
  • The requirement to deliver a certain number of services in a calendar year will be replaced with a 12-month rolling window, starting from the date the first eligible service is delivered. This will give practices more time to deliver the services required to achieve outcomes payments.
  • The program will start moving towards a back-ended payment structure. This means the majority of the payment will be provided after a threshold level of care has been provided. A transition period – where registration is gradually reduced, and the Tier 2 payment is gradually increased – will give practices time to adjust to this change.

You can read more about the PIP IHI on the Australian Government Department of Health website.
You can also download a fact sheet with information about the changes to the PIP IHI here.

Artwork from factsheet on Changes to the Practice Incentives Program – Indigenous Health Incentive.

Artwork from factsheet on Changes to the Practice Incentives Program – Indigenous Health Incentive. Feature image credit: Unsplash.

 

Yarrabah fighting to stay COVID-free

The Aboriginal community in Yarrabah, about an hour’s drive from Cairns has about 350 homes. With serious overcrowding, high rates of ill-health, low rates of vaccination and the fact five of the community’s seven GPs have been forced into isolation, it is clear why Jason King and the 110-strong team at Gurriny Yealamucka Health Service are desperate to keep COVID-19 from their side of the hill.

“It does leave us a little short-staffed, but we’ve got a great team around us,” said Dr King, director of clinical services. The community are responding really well and following all the directions for the lockdown,” he said.

“We’ve had a fantastic response, both testing and vaccination.”

On Monday, which was the first day the centre could start giving Pfizer doses to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children aged 12 and above, parents began bringing in their teenagers, Dr King said. “We’ve had to restock our vaccines early with assistance from Queensland Health stocks, just to be able to provide [shots] ongoing until we receive our next shipment on Friday,” he said.

Read the story in the Brisbane Times here.

Yarrabah residents casting netting for prawns in far north Queensland. Credit: Rhett Wyman.

Yarrabah residents casting netting for prawns in far north Queensland. Credit: Rhett Wyman.

 

Vaccination data essential to protect communities

Aboriginal health organisations are calling on the federal government to release more detailed data on vaccination rates in Aboriginal communities, with concerns “big gaps” in coverage have emerged that need to be urgently addressed.

NACCHO said detailed data was essential to the successful rollout to vulnerable remote and suburban communities. NACCHO’s senior medical adviser, GP and epidemiologist Dr Jason Agostino, said it was “hard to understand” why detailed data about Indigenous vaccination rates was not publicly available, as it is Canada, the USA, or New Zealand which publishes weekly data on Maori vaccination rates.

“Priority reform number four of the closing the gap agreement is about data for health services planning, and at the moment I think I’m the only person in the Aboriginal community controlled health sector that has access to really detailed data,” Agostino said. “Unless we’re paying attention to those small levels of geography and those individual communities, we might find islands of poor vaccination coverage that leave those communities vulnerable.”

You can read the story in the Guardian here.

A man gets a COVID jab in Maningrida. Photograph: Mala'la Health Service Aboriginal Corporation.

A man gets a COVID jab in Maningrida. Photograph: Mala’la Health Service Aboriginal Corporation.

 

TGA approves fourth COVID-19 vaccine

On 9 August 2021, the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) granted provisional approval to Moderna Australia Pty Ltd for its COVID-19 vaccine — Spikevax (elasomeran) — making it the fourth COVID-19 vaccine to receive regulatory approval in Australia.

This messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccine is provisionally approved and included in the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods for active immunisation to prevent COVID-19 in individuals 18 years of age and older. It is recommended that the vaccine is given in two doses that are administered 28 days apart. The Moderna COVID-19 vaccine has shown strong efficacy preventing symptomatic COVID-19 and severe COVID-19 in clinical trials.

Provisional approval of this vaccine in Australia is subject to certain strict conditions, such as the requirement for Moderna Australia Pty Ltd to continue providing information to the TGA on longer-term efficacy and safety from ongoing clinical trials and post-market assessment.

Read the full media statement here.

The Moderna vaccine is an mRNA vaccine. Image credit: Cameron Schwartz via ABC News.

The Moderna vaccine is an mRNA vaccine. Image credit: Cameron Schwartz via ABC News.

 

Complete your Census tonight

The Census will count each person and household in Australia TONIGHT Tuesday, 10 August 2021.

Adrian Dodson-Shaw a proud Yawuru, Arrernte and Kaytetye man and Assistant Director at the Australian Bureau of Statistics, Centre for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Statistics is encouraging everyone to participate.

“We need our mob to be counted in the Census to ensure that we’re heard. Census data is used to help create a better future for our younger generations,” Adrian said.

“Census data is used to help plan services for our families and communities. Make sure you include everyone in your home on Census night. This includes Elders, babies and visitors.

In remote areas, the Census is conducted between July and August. This allows time for remote teams to cover large areas and visit households to help people complete.

View the Australian Bureau of Statistics‘ media release here.
Visit the Census website here.

Census

 

Are zero-alcohol beverages harmless?

Zero-alcohol beverages are becoming increasingly popular in Australia with major brands now stocked on supermarket shelves. Consumption of zero-alcohol products increased by 2.9% in 2020 and is expected to increase by 31% by 2024.

A new paper in the Drug and Alcohol Review by Menzies School of Health Research (Menzies) and The George Institute for Global Health (George Institute) raises questions about if these beverages are giving Australia’s young people a taste for alcohol.

Menzies and George Institute researcher and lead author Mia Miller said that zero-alcohol beverages are often packaged identically to alcoholic beverages and can be indistinguishable in taste. Miller says that further research is needed to assess whether the ease of availability of zero-alcohol beverages may lead to a gateway effect, where children who consume them would be more likely to consume alcoholic beverages underage.

You can read the media release by Menzies here.
View the Zero-alcohol beverages: Harm-minimisation tool or gateway drink? commentary here.

Image credit: Hindustan Times.

Image credit: Hindustan Times.

 

Health impacts from climate change

Torres Strait Islander peoples intend to live on their traditional country long-term. Living on the northernmost islands of Queensland allows these “saltwater people” to maintain their cultural responsibilities, identity and kinship connections. Caring for country and keeping these connections can also bring health benefits. However, climate change increases the risks of negative health impacts.

“If our connection to these lands disappears, our Indigenous culture disappears”

An emergency call for increased attention to climate change and health impacts on Torres Strait Islander peoples was made in 2019 by 22 medical professionals working in the Queensland government’s Torres and Cape Health and Hospital Service region. They stated that climate change is a health emergency.

“We are concerned about the immediate effects of heat stress and extreme weather events as well as the long-term effects. Vulnerable populations are disproportionately affected by climate change and unabated climate change will only steepen this social health gradient.”

You can read the article in The Conversation here.
Below is a video outlining the issue called Our Islands, Our Home | Torres Strait Climate Justice Case.

 

New process for job advertising

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

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


dice spelling JOBS resting on keyboard

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Delta outbreak would devastate remote communities

Delta outbreak would devastate remote communities

In an article in the ABC News, outback doctors warn that the COVID-19 Delta variant makes a regional outbreak even more dangerous. They said they do not have enough staff, let alone ventilators, to cope with a Delta outbreak.

NACCHO medical adviser, Dr Jason Agostino, said to ABC News that talk of abandoning any attempt to control COVID-19 would be dangerous.

“In remote Australia and across all of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australia, we only have around 22 per cent of people [who] have received a first dose of any vaccine, and that’s much lower than in the non-Indigenous population.

“We know that COVID-19 causes more serious disease in people with chronic conditions, [such as] diabetes and heart disease and [that] it spreads easily among crowded houses.

“Unfortunately, many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have these chronic diseases from younger ages and also live in crowded houses.

Dr Agostino agreed it was important for Australia to find vaccines that were safe for Indigenous children and said that, until a much higher rate of vaccination had been achieved, “lockdowns are going to be a way of life”.

You can view the article in ABC News here.

Kids playing in remote community. Image credit: Brisbane Times.

Kids playing in remote community. Image credit: Brisbane Times. Feature tile image credit of University of Queensland website.

Successful place-based pandemic approach

Pandemics such as COVID-19 are a serious public health risk for Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, yet primary healthcare systems are not well resourced to respond to such urgent events. At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, a federal government advisory group recommended a rapid, tailored Indigenous response to prevent predicted high morbidity and mortality rates. This paper examines the efforts of Gurriny Yealamucka Health Service (Gurriny), which in the absence of dedicated funding, pivoted its operations in response to COVID-19.

Gurriny is the only primary healthcare service in the discrete Indigenous community of Yarrabah, Far North Queensland. They responded to COVID-19 by leading with local solutions to keep Yarrabah safe. Four key strategies were implemented: managing the health service operations, realigning services, educating and supporting community, and working across agencies.

The success of the locally led, holistic, comprehensive and culturally safe response of Gurriny suggests that such tailored place-based approaches to pandemics (and other health issues) are appropriate, but require dedicated resourcing.

You can read the paper in the DocWire News here.

Gurriny Yealamucka Health Service

Gurriny Yealamucka Health Service.

Eye health inequity

A recent study published on Science Direct provides a critical realist analysis of eye health inequity among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians.

The prevalence of diabetes among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians is three times greater than non-Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, contributing to a greater risk of blindness from treatable and preventable ocular conditions, most prominently cataract and diabetic retinopathy. In rural and remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, blindness prevalence is higher, and ocular treatment coverage and uptake are lower. In collaboration with Aboriginal Community Based Researchers, this study explored complex contingent factors that shape access to eye health services among rural and remote Aboriginal Australians living with diabetes.

The paper highlighted that:

  • Sociocultural contingencies shape eye health outcomes among Aboriginal Australians.
  • Linguistic, economic, and cultural marginalisation underpin eye health inequity.
  • Differences between Western biomedical and Aboriginal cultural norms form tensions.
  • Supporting linguistic and cultural sovereignty in clinical spaces is needed.
  • Cultural responsivity training and an expanded Aboriginal health workforce are key.

Read the full study in Science Direct here.

close up image of face of elderly Aboriginal stockman with felt hat, blind in one eye

Image source: The Fred Hollows Foundation website.

Bridging the Gap in homeownership

Owning your own home has long been part of the Aussie dream, however for some indigenous Australians this pursuit is difficult to achieve for a number of economic, social and cultural reasons.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics 2016 Census, 38 per cent of indigenous people owned their own home compared to two-thirds of non-indigenous Australians.

According to AIHW, “not having affordable, secure and appropriate housing can have negative consequences, including homelessness, poor health, and lower rates of employment and education participation – all of which can lead to social exclusion and disadvantage”.

Acknowledging this fact, Nicheliving has established a new division called Kambarang, created to bridge the gap for indigenous people and their communities, providing access to affordable housing opportunities to make their homeownership dreams a reality.

“The unit’s main goal is to support homeownership through providing open discussions, cultural support, credit assistance, communication and process support, affordable housing options, loan support and an end-to-end experience, including settlement,” said Nicheliving Managing Director Ronnie Michel-Elhaj.

You can read the story in The West Australian here.

Nicheliving - Willetton

Nicheliving – Willetton. Image credit: Julius Pang via The West Australian.

NSW Implementation Plan for Closing the Gap

The NSW 2021-2022 Implementation Plan for Closing the Gap is focusing on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander self-determination. The starting point in 2021-22 is to focus on the five Priority Reform areas as they know that transforming the way governments work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities is key to creating positive change. They have also identified a few focus areas under each Priority Reform.

They are working in partnership to bring together expertise from across Aboriginal communities, Aboriginal organisations and government agencies to develop further detailed and ambitious actions. To do this, they need your voice. Get involved and tell them what will make the biggest difference to you and your communities here.

You can view the 2021-22 NSW Implementation Plan for Closing the Gap here.
Visit the NSW Government Aboriginal Affairs website for more information here.

School students from St Francis Xavier School in Daly River, Southwest of Darwin in the Northern Territory. Image credit: The Herald Sun.

School students from St Francis Xavier School in Daly River, Southwest of Darwin in the Northern Territory. Image credit: The Herald Sun.

Winnunga Newsletter

The Winnunga Newsletter June – July 2021 edition is now available here.

Winnunga News June-July 2021 banner

Red socks for kidney support

Kidney Health Australia’s Red Socks Appeal is back and better than ever. Grab your friends, family, your work buddies, even your beloved pooch and either join Kidney Health Australia on one of their Red Socks Walks, set yourself a challenge or buy yourself a pair of red socks to show people living with kidney disease you care.

Wondering what Red Socks have to do with kidney disease? People on dialysis are strapped to a machine for 60 hours a month on average while it cleans their blood. While having dialysis treatment they often get cold, especially their feet. This is why Kidney Health Australia is asking you to go bold this October and wear Red Socks to show people living with kidney disease that you care.

Read more about the appeal and how you can show your support here.

Kidney Health Australia Red Sock Appeal

New process for job advertising

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

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


dice spelling JOBS resting on keyboard

Connecting to Country grants program open

The Connecting to Country grants program is now open, providing support to culture and arts projects and initiatives that renew links between community, Country and culture.

Aboriginal people and organisations can apply for up to $25,000 for activities on-Country that encourage sharing of cultural knowledge and skills between generations, preservation of culture and strengthening of communities.

Applications close: 26 August 2021.
For more information visit the Government of Western Australia Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries website here.

Connecting to Country program image.

Connecting to Country program image.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Reform to butt out smoking rates

Feature tile - Tue.20.7.21 - Reform to butt out high Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander smoking rates

Reform to butt out smoking rates

A recent report from a health committee formed to advise the government on tobacco control shows Territorians are more likely to smoke than people anywhere else in Australia, and that half of Aboriginal adults in the NT are daily smokers. Research shows the smoking rate for people in remote and regional areas has not changed, although nationally fewer Aboriginal people are smoking.

“There needs to be more investment if we are serious and fair dinkum about reducing the number of Indigenous Australians who are smoking”
Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance NT Chief Executive John Paterson

The Australian Medical Association (AMA) NT Branch President Robert Parker urged the Chief Minister and his colleagues to introduce new laws which would help people in the NT quit smoking. While his letter did not flag any specific legislative reforms, Dr Parker told the ABC he wanted stronger surveillance on the sale and supply of tobacco, especially in remote areas.

You can read the full story by ABC News here.

Half of Aboriginal adults in the Northern Territory. are daily smokers. Photograph: Dave Hunt/AAP.

Half of Aboriginal adults in the NT are daily smokers. Photograph: Dave Hunt/AAP. Feature tile image credit: Raul Lieberwirth (Flickr).

 

Delivering 50,000 remote COVID jabs

The Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS) has vaccinated more than 5,000 people against COVID-19 in remote communities across Australia.

“We’re expecting on the back of the plans we’ve worked up to be delivering some 50,000 vaccines to some 500 vaccine clinics between now and the end of the year,” said RFDS Federation Executive Director Frank Quinlan.

The RFDS has been brought in to help federal, state, and territory health services and ACCHOs rollout the vaccine.

“The remoteness of some communities has been both their protection but also their risk because we know that those communities are often protected by distance but at the same time they experience poorer health by distance, and we know if COVID was to get into communities the impact would be devastating,” Mr Quinlan said.

In some areas, the RFDS are just delivering vaccine doses to medical centres. In others, they’re also deploying support staff to help local health workers. Elsewhere, they’re supplying the vaccines and all the health care staff required to administer the jabs.

Read the full story in The Sydney Morning Herald here.

A Royal Flying Doctor Service of Australia plane on the job in 2019. Image credit: Royal Flying Doctor Service of Australia.

A Royal Flying Doctor Service of Australia plane on the job in 2019. Image credit: Royal Flying Doctor Service of Australia.

 

More patients eligible for PBS

The Closing the Gap (CTG) Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) Co-payment program has expanded. From 1 July 2021, there is a new national registration database and more patients are eligible. To support providers register patients they have included three new exciting education resources on the Health Professional Education Resources Gateway:

eLearning module – the customised e-Learning module provides a clear overview of the CTG PBS Co-payment program, including patient access and prescriber eligibility. It also explains CTG PBS prescription requirements and the PBS Safety Net.

How to register a patient for CTG – the simulation demonstrates how to register a patient for CTG PBS Co-payment. It is easy to register patients using the new national registration database. You can access it through Health Professional Online Services (HPOS). To use HPOS, you need a Provider Digital Access (PRODA) account.

How to create a PRODA account – if you do not have a PRODA account, you can check out the new simulation on how to create a PRODA account.

You can read more about CTG PBS Co-payment program on the Australian Government Services Australia website.

Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme medicines

Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme medicines. Image credit:. healthstaffrecruitment.com.au.

 

National Anti-Racism Framework

The Australian Human Rights Commission has launched a plan to develop a National Anti-Racism Framework. The Commission is working with all levels of Government, peak bodies, human rights agencies and community organisations to progress the Framework. A Commission Concept Paper available on their website provides an initial overview of the Framework’s key principles, outcomes and strategies.

The Commission is in the early stages of scoping this proposal and is undertaking a series of targeted consultations and roundtables to identify stakeholders’ priorities and build a strong foundation for the Framework.

For more information and if your organisation is interested in participating in this process, please visit the Australian Human Rights Commission website.

Anti-racism image

Anti-racism. Image Credit: http://www.australiansagainstracism.org.

 

Meningococcal B Vaccination Program continues

The Marshall Liberal Government’s world-leading Meningococcal B Immunisation Program will continue indefinitely after proving it’s been incredibly effective at preventing the illness in high-risk age groups.

“This landmark vaccination program is saving lives and protecting lives.”

The landmark immunisation program was initially a three-year commitment, but the recent State Budget committed $3 million in 2021–22 and $5.3 million ongoing from 2022–23 to embed the program indefinitely for SA babies and young people. That’s on top of the $30.7 million allocated in the first three years of the program.

It comes as a joint Women’s and Children’s Hospital and University of Adelaide study found the program has been key in a 60% reduction in cases among infants and a 73% drop in cases for adolescents.

Minister for Health and Wellbeing Stephen Wade said given the program’s success, it will now be ongoing.

Read the media release by Steven Marshall Premier of SA here.

Meningococcal B Vaccination campaign image. Credit: healht.gov.au.

Meningococcal B Vaccination campaign image. Credit: healht.gov.au.

 

New dashboard on Closing the Gap

The Australian Government Productivity Commission have been populating a new dashboard on Closing the Gap. From this Dashboard, you can access available data on the targets agreed as part of the National Agreement on Closing the Gap.

Baseline data are available for the targets under the 17 socioeconomic outcome areas and more recent data are available for seven of these targets. Data are not yet available for the targets under the four Priority Reforms.

You can read more about how to access and interpret the data on the Australian Government Productivity Commission’s website.

view from waist up of two Aboriginal children one with arm around the shoulders of the other facing away from the canera

Image source: National Indigenous Times website.

 

Know Your Country campaign

We love our country but how well do we really know it? Closing the knowledge gap about First Nations people and cultures start at school.

The Know Your Country campaign asks principals, teachers, organisations and individuals to sign the petition to employ First Nations Cultural Educators in every primary school.

  • Give every kid a better education about local First Nations people and culture.
  • Ally with local First Nations communities and their right to share the wisdom of their own culture in school.
  • Back all parliaments to commit proper funding before their next elections.

Know Your Country is an open source, coalition advocacy campaign calling for locally approved First Nations Cultural Educators in every primary school across the continent.

The campaign policy was written and convened after 12 months of extensive consultation by Wiradjuri Man and World Vision Senior Policy Advisor Dr Scott Winch but it is being led by a First Nations Advisory Panel which includes Professor Tom Calma. The campaign is supported by a growing list of ally organisations.

Visit their website to sign the petition and download a range of great educational resources.

Know Your Country campaign 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.


dice spelling JOBS resting on keyboard

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: First Nations communities on high COVID-19 alert

feature tile test 'First Nations communities on high COVID-19 alert' circle images or Pat Turner & Dawn Casey having covid-19 vaccine, Pat with orange Aboriginal art dot on one edge of circle & Dawn with blue dots

First Nations communities on high COVID alert

NACCHO CEO, Pat Turner has an opinion editorial published in today’s The Sydney Morning Herald. The below is an excerpt from Pat Turner’s article.

‘The Granites gold mine COVID outbreak is a reminder that we continue to be one spark away from a COVID-19 wildfire in Australia’s Indigenous communities. We know that COVID hits the elderly and those with underlying health conditions hardest. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are more likely to live with cardiovascular disease, kidney disease or cancer and almost one-quarter have two or more of these chronic conditions.

These COVID risks are compounded by where we live. One in eight Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples live in overcrowded housing, which means COVID-19 could spread rapidly through our communities. And overcrowding poses real challenges for isolating suspected cases. Poor health outcomes and overcrowding are worse in remote settings, making the Granites mine outbreak all the more dangerous.

It has been because of the leadership of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and our community controlled health organisations that our peoples have been relatively unscathed by COVID-19 to date, with 153 cases nationally and no deaths. We need governments to step up on the vaccine roll out to keep it this way.’

To view the full opinion editorial click here. Note the 173 cases mentioned in the article should be 153.

clinic setting with man in mask holding cotton ball to arm, health professional in mask to front of photo

Image source: The Sydney Morning Herald.

Earlier this morning Dr Dawn Casey, Deputy CEO of NACCHO spoke with Fran Kelly on ABC Radio National Breakfast. Fran Kelly introduced the interview saying “as the highly contagious Delta variant of COVID-19 threatens to cause a national outbreak, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities are on high alert, particularly in the NT and north Queensland. Lockdowns in the NT and now parts of Queensland, including the Aboriginal community of Palm Island, have highlighted the vulnerability of First Nations people as vaccination levels remain low.”

Dr Casey responded saying that ACCHOs are very worried however are on high alert and have been since March last year. You can listen to the interview here.

screen shot ABC RN Breakfast with Fran Kelly audio Dr Dawn Casey Deputy CEO NACCHO being administered the COVID-19 vaccine at Winnunga ACT

Dr Dawn Casey, Deputy CEO of NACCHO. Image source: ABC RN Breakfast with Fran Kelly website.

RACGP calls for nation-wide COVID-19 campaign

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) is strengthening its calls for the federal Government to urgently ramp up a campaign to boost vaccine confidence in the community. The RACGP has previously stressed the importance of national targeted messaging and advertising for specific cohorts to clear up mixed messages and encourage more eligible people to get vaccinated. This is particularly important in the context of recent changes to AstraZeneca vaccine eligibility and patient concerns about vaccine safety.

To view the media release click here.

red stop sign, grey background & black chalk font writing 'COVID-19'

Image source: WA City of Swan website.

No-fault vaccine injury compensation

Today during the National Immunisation Conference held by the Public Health Association of Australia (PHAA), Professor Paul Kelly, Australia’s Chief Medical Officer, confirmed the introduction of a no-fault Vaccine Injury Compensation Scheme (VICS) for COVID-19 vaccines administered in Australia, a move that is strongly welcome to assist in Australia’s COVID vaccine roll out and boost public trust in the program.

A no-fault vaccine injury compensation scheme compensates individuals who have a vaccine injury following the correct administration of a registered vaccine. It is considered a vital component of a strong immunisation program by public health experts. PHAA CEO Adjunct Professor Terry Slevin commented, ‘This is a very welcome announcement.”

To view the media release click here.

medical professional with mask & gloves, in scrubs, drawing COVID-19 vaccine

Image source: Sharp Health News website.

New Minister for Regional Health welcomed

The Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (PSA) warmly welcomes the Hon Dr David Gillespie MP as Minister for Regional Health, and extends its gratitude to the Hon Mark Coulton MP for his service in this portfolio. PSA National President, A/Prof Chris Freeman, welcomed Dr Gillespie back to the portfolio and thanked Minister Coulton for his exceptional service to regional Australia.

“PSA congratulates Dr Gillespie on his appointment as Minister for Regional Health. His past experience in the portfolio, and as a clinician, will help drive innovation in the portfolio. PSA looks forward to working with him to improve health care and health outcomes for people in regional Australia.”

To view the PSA’s media release click here.

Dr David Gillespie blue shirt, elbow on wooden fence post in paddock with white black cow in the background

Dr David Gillespie. Image source: Port Macquarie News.

CoP priority reform video animations

The Coalition of Peaks has announced that all four Priority Reforms video animations are complete and available for Coalition of Peaks members use and community engagement. All members are encouraged to use the animations to help build awareness and ownership for the National Agreement and the Priority Reforms. The animations are available on the Coalition of Peaks website under resources or by using the below links.

Priority Reform One – shared decision making partnerships

Priority Reform Two – building community controlled sector

Priority Reform Three – improving mainstream services

Priority Reform Four – ensuring access to relevant data

snapshot from CoP priority 1 shared decision making partnerships animation 6 Aboriginal people, 4 women, 2 men, 2 children (boy & girl; centre Aboriginal woman shaking hands with an offical; top right CoPs logo

Image source: CoPs website, Priority Reform One – shared decision making animation.

$12.9m for PHC research

$12.9 million is to be invested into seven new research projects around Australia to use data to improve health outcomes for Australian patients. Funded through the 2020 Primary Healthcare Research Data Infrastructure grants, a number of research institutions will receive funding to undertake projects that use new and existing data sets to improve access, quality, safety and efficiency of our primary health care (PHC) system.

As part of the program, the South Australian Health Medical Research Institute Ltd will receive around $2 million for its Registry of Senior Australians (ROSA) project, which aims to expand the existing platform to understand emerging issues and continue ground-breaking research on key, and currently unknown, residential aged care impacts. ROSA’s efficient model leverages existing information, bringing together diverse datasets collected by different organisations throughout the country, to provide a whole picture of the ageing pathway.

The research will use new data gathered on immunisation, rehabilitation and social welfare to further research and embed ROSA as the only national data solution for policy and practice change in residential aged care.

To view the full article click here.ROSA logo text 'ROSA' in dark blue' Aboriginal dot art 6 circles yellow, aqua, yellow linked to inner circle

Hearing Loss Responsive Communications Training

Up to 40% of Indigenous adults in urban areas and 60% in remote communities have some degree of hearing loss. In some specific populations it is higher and in prison inmates over 90%. 79% of those affected are not aware they have hearing loss. Early onset hearing loss means bigger life impacts and unknown hearing loss has more impacts.

Below is a video giving information on Hearing Loss Responsive Communications Training for health professionals:

New process for job advertising

NACCHO have introduced a new system for the advertising of job adverts via NACCHO’s communication platforms.

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

National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children’s Day

SNAICC’s latest campaign National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children’s Day will be held on Sunday 4 August 2021.

Children’s Day is a time to for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families to celebrate the strengths and culture of their children. It is an opportunity for all Australians to show their support for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, as well as learn about the crucial impact that culture, family and community play in the life of every child.

The Children’s Day 2021 theme, Proud in culture, strong in spirit, highlights the importance of supporting strong family and community connections to help children achieve strong spiritual and cultural wellbeing and to form proud cultural identities.

SNAICC has produced and will distribute 15,000 fun Children’s Day bags to communities across Australia to help local communities and organisations celebrate. These bags, containing resources and activities for preschool-age children, are now on sale at the usual price of $6 per bag. Each bag will contain the Children’s Day 2021 Activity Sheet which you can also download.

contents of SNAICC Children's Day 2021 4.8.21 activity bag

Contents of the SNAICC’s Children’s Day 2021 activity bag.

Through SNAICC’s social media, website and email communications, they will also support people with online resources and ideas on how to celebrate and acknowledge this year’s Children’s Day. SNAICC also encourages people to register their events to showcase here.

SNAICC would love you to get involved in their promotions as they build momentum for Children’s Day on 4 August!

poster of National ATSI Children's Day 'Proud in Culture, Strong in Spirit - 4 August 2021 - SNAIC logo & Children's Day logo #ProudInCulture, #StrongInSpirit - Aboriginal boy with ceremonial pain & lap lap,& feather headdress standing on sandstone rock against blue background

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Yarning about managing pain

feature tile text 'asking painful questions - yarning about managing pain' image of multiple coloured tablets & capsules pouring from a brown medicine bottle

Yarning about managing pain

Living with pain can be challenging and everyone experiences pain in a unique way. Opioids are commonly used for pain management. However, their role in the management of chronic non-cancer pain is limited and the potential for harm, particularly with long-term use and with higher doses, is significant.

In the new Asking painful questions video series Australians living with chronic non-cancer pain and health professionals experienced in pain management provide honest answers to questions about pain, opioids and other options for management. The videos were developed with funding from the Therapeutic Goods Administration, Australian Government Department of Health and in collaboration with Consumers Health Forum of Australia (CHF) and NACCHO.

banner text 'asking painful questions - yearning about managing pain, NACCHO logo & background Aboriginal dot art, 'NPS MEDICINEWISE Independent. Not-for-profit. Evidence-based.'

Deputy CEO NACCHO, Dr Dawn Casey said, “We aim to secure the best health outcomes for our people, providing a culturally safe healthcare experience. Ensuring Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people use pain medicines, including opioids, safely and effectively is really important – sometimes these medicines can have big risks. Finding the best possible pain management option for our people can be challenging, especially considering when complex comorbidities. But our ACCHOs are best placed to understand the issues clients face and can provide overall health and wellbeing services that are culturally safe and meets clients’ needs, including pain management” Dr Casey further added, “The administration of effective and appropriate services provided by ACCHOs for managing pain is well demonstrated in these videos.”

Lisa Briggs, CEO of Wathaurong Aboriginal Cooperative Limited, said, “Managing pain is a complex and important issue for our clients.  Chronic pain can be confronting and debilitating and sometimes unfairly stigmatised.  The videos in this project have really highlighted these issues and the way that ACCHOs and culture are central to managing pain for many Aboriginal people. Through accessing holistic services and support through ACCHOs, such as Wathaurong, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have the best chance of managing their pain effectively.”

Watch the video of two Aboriginal men living with pain, a pharmacist and a GP talk about their experiences with chronic non-cancer pain, opioids, non-medicines approaches and pain services here.

 

ACCHOs get the results

When Kristie Watego gave birth to my third son, Luke, in 2018 her experience was vastly different to that of her previous pregnancies: “Throughout my second pregnancy I had felt categorised and disempowered. For my third pregnancy I chose to receive my care through the Birthing in Our Community (BiOC) program, offered to women pregnant with an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander bub booked to birth at Mater Mothers Hospital in Brisbane. I was surrounded by a team who took the time to hear me and to listen. When it was time for Luke to be born my extended family were there and were able to be involved in this magical and sacred time. The difference for me as an Aboriginal woman birthing my baby surrounded by support from a program that has been designed by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people was astounding.

Kristie Watego’s experience is backed up by research. A paper published this year in Lancet Global Health has confirmed that babies born through the BiOC program are 50% less likely to be born premature and more likely to be breastfed – and their mothers are more likely to access antenatal care.

BiOC was established by the Institute for Urban Indigenous Health (IUIH) and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community Health Service (ATSICHS), Brisbane in 2013 in partnership with Mater Mothers’ Hospital. It is a unique example of what can be achieved through genuine partnership in an Indigenous-led setting. The program was designed by Elders, mums and dads and community.

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

photo of Kristie Watego holding her sleeping son Luke to her chest

Kristie Watego, with baby Luke. Image source: Croakey Health Media.

New Medicare funding for vaccination

The AMA has welcomed the Government’s announcement of new Medicare funding for GPs to vaccinate patients against COVID-19 during home visits and visits to aged care facilities, but warned more is needed to address vaccine hesitancy in those patients over 50 years of age.

AMA President Dr Omar Khorshid said “It is critical we complete the job of vaccinating the most vulnerable in the community as soon as possible. This measure will help plug the current gaps in COVID vaccination in aged care facilities. However, the biggest issue right now is vaccine hesitancy in the over 50s. AMA has been working with the Minister for Health and his Department to allow vaccine hesitant Australians time for a proper discussion with a GP about COVID vaccination.”

“Current Medicare funding only supports brief consultations. Yet GPs may need to spend up to 30 minutes for some patients to discuss their specific circumstances and ensure they understand the benefits of COVID vaccination. When this occurs, most Australians decide to go ahead and get vaccinated.”

Dr Khorshid said GPs had done “a wonderful job in lifting vaccination rates across the country, with the vaccine roll out accelerating significantly since general practice became involved. But the job is nowhere near done and GPs need the Government’s support to take our over 50s vaccine program to the next level. The Government needs to assure patients that if they need to spend more time with their GP discussing COVID-19 and vaccination, Medicare will cover this extra time with a GP in the interests of all Australians.”

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

collage of 3 images Medicare cards, vaccine being drawn, gold dollar symbol

Image sources clockwise: The Australian; Medical Economics; AMA.

COVID-19 posters for health clinics

The Australian Government Department of Health have produced a collection of materials created for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander vaccine providers to download and print to utilise in their health clinics and practices. These materials include posters, social media resources, handouts and web banners.

A recent inclusion to the suite of resources is a printable posters stating they are a COVID-19 vaccination site, and what vaccines they have available for the public.

To view the range of resources including the poster click here. DoH poster 'We are a Pfizer and AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccination clinic Talk to reception to make an appointment. health.gov.au/covid19-vaccines COVID-19 vaccination'

Protect your little one from flu

Influenza in kids can be serious. This year getting vaccinated against flu is more important than ever. It is the best way to protect your child and others from flu. The influenza vaccine is available free for children aged 6 months to under 5 years under the National Immunisation Program. Flu (influenza) is a highly contagious viral infection that can cause widespread illness and deaths every year. It is a leading cause of hospitalisation for children aged under 5 years. Vaccination is our best defence against flu viruses and is free for children aged 6 months to under 5 years under the National Immunisation Program.

Increased hand washing and social distancing helped to stop the spread of flu viruses last year. However, flu could recirculate this season as we relax restrictions. Vaccinating yourself and your child against influenza this year is more important than ever as we lead into the colder months. For further information on influenza in kids click here.

Last week the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) announced that the time between COVID-19 and flu vaccination has been reduced to 7 days.

NSW Government poster text 'Protect your little one from flu - FREE flu shots for all Aboriginal children - Ask you health worker of GP - It's in your hands' image of Aboriginal hand held up palm facing camera, 2 fingers turned down, thumb black ink child, one finger face & syringe, other finger happy face

Image source: NSW Government Aboriginal children flu poster.

Community liver cancer rates rise

The Australian study just published in international Lancet journal EClinicalMedicine reveals the survival difference was largely accounted for by factors other than Indigenous status – including rurality, comorbidity burden and lack of curative therapy. The study of liver cancer, or Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), included 229 Indigenous and 3587 non-Indigenous HCC cases in SA, Queensland and the NT.

“The major finding was important differences in cofactors for HCC between Indigenous and non-Indigenous patients, with Indigenous patients more frequently having multiple cofactors for HCC such as hepatitis B, diabetes and alcohol misuse,” says Flinders University Professor Alan Wigg, who led the investigation.

While cancer care is difficult to deliver to remote Australia, he says HCC is preventable with surveillance. “What is needed is a culturally appropriate model of care that in rural communities that screens for liver disease and identifies at risk patients,” says Professor Wigg, who also is Head of Hepatology and Liver Transplant Medicine Unit at the Southern Adelaide Local Health Network in SA.

To view the Flinders University media release click here.

blue gloved hands holding surgical instruments removing pieces of red jigsaw puzzle of a liver

Image source: Johns Hopkins Medicine website.

Age of criminal responsibility – national action needed

ACOSS CEO Dr Cassandra Goldie, says CEOs of the national COSS Network, ACT Attorney-General Shane Rattenbury MLA, and ACT Minister responsible for Youth Justice Emma Davidson MLA will call for the Commonwealth, states, and territories to follow the ACT’s lead and raise the age of criminal responsibility. There is overwhelming medical consensus that locking away children as young as 10 can cause lifelong damage to their mental health and cognitive development. However, despite this evidence the only jurisdiction to commit to raising the age of criminal responsibility is the ACT. There is nothing stopping states and territories from acting in the best interest of children and of the community. The time to raise the age is now.

To view the ACTCOSS media alert click here.

blurred image of youth with arm outstretched and palm facing camera obscuring face

Image source: The Conversation.

SA Elder abuse campaign

Respecting the rights and safety of older Aboriginal people is the focus of a new video series being unveiled today, to coincide with World Elder Abuse Awareness Day. Minister for Health and Wellbeing, Stephen Wade, said Office for Ageing Well has launched the set of videos as part of its Respect.Connect awareness campaign, which will target Aboriginal communities over the next five years. “Office for Ageing Well has joined forces with Aboriginal community representatives for the first time, to develop the videos featuring Aboriginal ambassadors talking about the importance of keeping Elders safe,” Minister Wade said. “The Respect.Connect campaign emphasises that valuing and respecting Aboriginal Elders and their wisdom is the pathway to maintaining culture and building a better future.”

To view the Government of SA media release click here. and to view the Respect.Connect. campaign for Aboriginal communities click here.banner text 'respect connect #stopelderabuse' golden yellow background, purple text with Aboriginal art blue, purple, pink, lavender, golden yellow