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

Save the Date

Connecting to Country grants program now 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

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: COVID-19 vaccine take up and hesitancy

Feature tile - Thu.10.6.21 - COVID-19 vaccine take up and hesitancy

COVID-19 vaccine take up and hesitancy

Dr Dawn Casey, Deputy CEO NACCHO and Co-Chair Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Advisory Group on COVID-19 spoke on NITV-The Point on Tuesday 8 June about the latest rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine, its take up and hesitancy, and the Victorian lockdown.

“There are just over 65,000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who have been vaccinated with their first dose so far. There was hesitancy when the announcements around the issues that AstraZeneca was not suitable for under 50s, but the numbers have started to pick up.”

“There has been no blood clots for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people recorded.”

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are now eligible to receive the vaccines, including those aged 16 and over. Speak to your healthcare worker to find out more.

You can view the interview below or by clicking here.

or information on the vaccines, visit the Australian Government Department of Health website.

#OurJobToProtectOurJob   #GetVaccinatedToBeProtected   #HaveYouHadYourShot

Sugar tax will cut disease and save lives

The AMA has today called for a tax on sugary drinks as a key plank of its plan to tackle chronic disease and make Australia the healthiest country in the world.

In his address to the National Press Club in Canberra yesterday, AMA President Dr Omar Khorshid said that Australia lags behind comparable nations in health outcomes and disease prevention, and it was ‘time for action’ to reduce consumption of sugar-filled drinks.

More than 2.4 billion litres of sugary drinks are consumed every year in Australia. That’s enough to fill 960 Olympic sized swimming pools,” Dr Khorshid said.

“Diabetes, obesity and poor vascular health are huge contributors to the burden on our health system. The tax could save lives, and save millions of dollars in healthcare costs,” he said.

The tax proposed in the AMA’s report released yesterday would raise the retail price of the average supermarket sugary drink by 20%. This would be an important first step towards tackling obesity and raise revenue to take further steps.

The AMA’s call for a tax on sugary drinks is part of its new blueprint for a robust, sustainable health system – beyond the pandemic – with high quality, patient-centred care at its heart. The Vision for Australia’s Health, also launched yesterday, calls for reform around five policy pillars – general practice, public hospitals, private health, equity and innovation.

View The Vision for Australia’s Health plane here.

View the A tax on sugar-sweetened beverages: Modelled impacts on sugar consumption and government revenue report here.

AMA - Vision for Australia's Health report - 5 pillars.

AMA – Vision for Australia’s Health report – 5 pillars.

Restoration to guide health reforms

The Aotearoa New Zealand Government has announced sweeping reforms for the nation’s health system.

They have been welcomed by the Royal Australasian College of Physicians (RACP) ‘as a health system structure seeking to live its commitments’ to the Treaty of Waitangi and refusing any longer to ‘tolerate the health inequities experienced by our Māori and Pasifika whanau’.

Dr Sandra Hotu, Chair of the RACP Māori Health Committee, and Dr George Laking, RACP Aotearoa New Zealand President, outline the changes and their implications for improving health and health systems, for both Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand.

Together with an ethic of restoration, Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand must look to a practice of partnership informed by the stories and experiences of our First Nations. Partnership must be tangible. It must be expressly lived as a solution space lead by Indigenous voices, rather than a problem space. Partnership is informing the refresh of Closing the Gap 2019–2029, as described in the partnership agreement between the Community Controlled Peak Organisations and the National Federation Reform Council.

As Alex Brown and Eddie Mulholland wrote on Croakey in 2020, the agreement for power-sharing represents a “critical moment for genuine engagement between Australian governments and Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations (ACCHOs)”.

The vision of the ACCHOs – Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people enjoy quality of life through whole-of-community self-determination and individual spiritual, cultural, physical, social and emotional well-being’ resonates with the intent of the Māori Health Authority. This is because the rationale for each is so closely aligned: racism in healthcare as well as the need for culturally safe services to address health inequity.

You can read the article at Croakey Health Media here.

Aboriginal kids washing their hands. Image credit The Conversation.

Aboriginal kids washing their hands. Image credit The Conversation.

Better health literacy for better equity

New survey findings show a significant number of consumers need to be supported to feel more in control of their health care. The report, commissioned from the Consumers Health Forum (CHF) by NPS MedicineWise, defines and measures health literacy in Australia. It also identifies gaps which are preventing people from accessing the best possible health care.

Health literacy is core to us delivering more equitable health outcomes,” said Leanne Wells, CEO of CHF.

The survey of more than 1,500 respondents found that approximately one in five consumers:

  • Rarely or never felt comfortable asking their doctor, pharmacist or nurse when they needed more information.
  • Rarely or never felt comfortable asking the health professional to explain anything they didn’t understand.
  • Found the information a health professional gave them always or often confusing.

“We need to increase consumers’ capacity to manage and feel in control of their health care, including around medicines. It’s really important that we strive to improve medicines literacy because we know people at higher risk of medication-related harm are people with multiple conditions, people who are taking lots of medications and people with English as a second language,” said Ms Wells.

You can view the New survey results shine a light on health literacy in Australia media release here.

You can read the Consumer Health Literacy Segmentation and Activation Research Project report here.

Health_literacy_image

Copyright NACCHO.

Artwork competition: ear and hearing health

Calling all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists aged 13 years or older!

NACCHO invites you to design an artwork about how important ear and hearing health is within Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

The winning artwork will receive a $500 voucher prize and will be used across Australia for NACCHOs National Ear and Hearing health program.

The winning artwork will be used on merchandise, stationary and promotional materials to celebrate current Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander achievements, across Australia.

Click here to submit your artwork and for conditions of entry.

All entries must be submitted by: 21 July 2021. 

NAC National Ear Health Poster Competition

NDIS Ready grant round closing soon

Attention all Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations!

NDIS Ready Indigenous Business Support Funding (IBSF) ACCO round grant applications are CLOSING SOON! 

Grants are available to help up to 100 eligible ACCHOs and ACCOs address the basic establishment costs, and business and technical challenges in registered and delivering services under the NDIS and to equip themselves to operate more effectively long-term under the NDIS model. 

Information on the grant and how to apply can be found on the IBSF website.

Please contact the NDIS Ready team if you have any questions.

Applications close on Friday 11 June 2021.  

NDIS Ready - Applications closing

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: First Nations people 16 years+ eligible for COVID-19 vaccine

Feature tile -Tue 8.6.21 - 16 years+ eligible for COVID vaccine

First Nations people 16 years+ eligible for COVID-19 vaccine

From today 8 June 2021, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples who are 16 years and older are now eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine. This news was announced following the National Cabinet meeting last Friday by the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Advisory Group on COVID-19 (Taskforce) co-chaired by NACCHO and the Australian Government Department of Health.

Also included in today’s expanded eligibility are all NDIS participants aged 16 and up, as well as NDIS carers.

The AstraZeneca vaccine is preferred for adults aged 50 years and over. The Pfizer vaccine has been approved for adults 16 years and older. Vaccines are available through Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations (ACCHOs), Commonwealth vaccine clinics, general practices, state and territory health services and clinics.

The extended approved storage period of the unopened thawed Pfizer vaccine vials at 2–8°C of up to one month enables much greater flexibility in the distribution of the vaccine and will have a significant positive impact on the roll out of the vaccine across Australia, including to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and remote communities.

The Taskforce has convened a working group to provide advice on supporting ACCHOs to deliver Pfizer and other future vaccines as they become available to the program.

The Commonwealth Government will work closely with the ACCHO sector to ensure all ACCHOs currently participating in the COVID-19 vaccination program will have the option to administer Pfizer vaccine.

To book your COVID-19 vaccination, contact your health clinic or find a vaccination site near you through the Clinic Finder.

You can read the announcement here.

Health worker Keinan Keighran receiving the Pfizer jab at Katherine's Wurli-Wurlinjang Health Service.

Health worker Keinan Keighran receiving the COVID-19 vaccine at Katherine’s Wurli-Wurlinjang Health Service. Image source: ABC News.

New model for rural and remote health care

The National Rural Health Alliance (NRHA) is proposing a new model of care for rural and remote Australia primary health care.

Australians living in rural and remote areas have shorter lives, higher levels of disease and injury and poorer access to and use of health services compared to people living in metropolitan areas. Governments have pursued a range of strategies to address these poorer health outcomes over many years. However, trend data reveal that these interventions are having limited success.

There are a range of drivers for the poor health outcomes for rural and remote Australians:

  • difficulty in attracting and retaining health professionals to rural areas
  • lack of access to services due to distance, lack of transport, income, health literacy and attitudinal barriers
  • social determinants of health issues including low socio-economic status, lower education outcomes, higher levels of disability and chronic disease and older population.

What are the barriers to attracting and retaining a rural health workforce?

  • Professional – career limitations, networking opportunities, clinical experiences, supervision, professional isolation and lack of support from peers, work life balance issues
  • Financial – practice financial viability, need to work across multiple settings, multiple sources of funding both government and private, administrative burden, business acumen requirements
  • Social – family and friendship networks, social isolation, cultural and recreational limitations, partner’s concerns including careers and children’s education

Models of care which work for metropolitan areas do not work in rural Australia. NRHA is proposing a locally-based model of health delivery aimed at addressing the key barriers to attracting a rural workforce.

You can read more about the NRHA proposal here.

The case for better health care - infographic by NRHA

Image source: NRHA.

Barriers in obtaining birth certification

In Australia, the birth certificate is of fundamental importance as the document that unlocks all the rights and privileges of citizenship. While the national rate of birth registration and certification is very strong, this is not the case for a number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. In Queensland for example, births are under-registered and under-certified at a rate of 15–8% compared to non-Indigenous births at 1.8%. WA’s statistics are similar, with almost one in five Indigenous children under 16 years of age having unregistered and uncertified births.

Birth under-registration and under-certification are generally most prevalent in disadvantaged and minority groups, such as Indigenous Australians, children in out-of-home care, and children from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds. It is also more likely in births occurring in rural hospitals; where the mother smoked or had an alcohol-related diagnosis during pregnancy; and where the mother’s own birth was unregistered, and she had no private health insurance.

To reduce the rates of birth under-registration and under-certification, especially within minority and marginalised communities, the government must improve awareness and education surrounding the important purposes formal birth registration serves. It must also work to increase its accessibility, and broaden exemptions, such that birthplace, skin colour and parent circumstances cease to be barriers individuals cannot overcome.

You can read the full story in Lawyers Weekly here.

Map of Australia with pins on locations.

Map of Australia with pins on locations. Image credit: Layers Weekly.

ORCHID Study: diagnostic criteria for GDM

Following a large international study on Hyperglycaemia and Adverse Pregnancy Outcome (HAPO) diagnostic criteria for gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) were changed in WA in 2015. The ORCHID Study (Optimisation of Rural Clinical and Haematological Indicators of Diabetes in pregnancy) was designed to help simplify screening for GDM in rural and remote WA. Their first paper showed that it can be difficult to do this test. Their second paper showed that two-thirds of women with GDM who do the test are missed due to blood glucose sample instability. The third paper showed that this glucose instability means that they miss identifying women at risk for large babies.

Now that the issue with glucose stability has been sorted, this paper looks at the utility of glycated haemoglobin (HbA1c) in early pregnancy for identifying women at high risk for large babies. The study found that:

  • Almost three-quarters (71.4%) of Aboriginal women with early HbA1c ≥5.6% went on to have a positive OGTT. These women may have had prediabetes going into pregnancy.
  • There were clear differences between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal women: 16.3% v 5.2% had elevated HbA1c (pre-pregnancy prediabetes) whereas 12.4% v 29.6% developed GDM during pregnancy. This suggests fewer non-Aboriginal women had prediabetes going into pregnancy compared to Aboriginal women.
  • The risk of having a large baby was twice as high in women with an early HbA1c ≥5.6% compared to women with an early HbA1c <5.6% and without GDM (21.4% v 10.5%). This suggests that women with prediabetes in early pregnancy have high-risk for a large baby.

For more information on this study you can download the following documents:

  • Download Prediabetes and pregnancy: Using early pregnancy HbA1c to find Aboriginal women with high-risk of diabetes in pregnancy (GDM) and having babies that grow too big.
  • Download Prediabetes and pregnancy: Early pregnancy glycated haemoglobin identifies Australian Aboriginal women with high-risk of gestational diabetes mellitus and adverse perinatal outcomes.
  • Download Prediabetes and pregnancy: Early pregnancy HbA1c identifies Australian Aboriginal women with high-risk of gestational diabetes mellitus and adverse perinatal outcomes.
  • Download Supplementary tables.

The plain language report and links to the papers are available on the KAMS research website here. For further assistance with your enquiries please contact ORCHID Study coordinator, Emma Jamieson.

Aboriginal pregnant woman.

Image source: knowpahology.com.au.

Indigenous policy codesign: risks and opportunities

In a discussion paper by the Centre for Aboriginal Economic Policy Research, Australian National University (ANU), Canberra, the mainstream literature on co-design and collaborative governance is surveyed and considered, as a means of identifying the essential characteristics of effective co-design policy and program processes.

In recent years, the requirement for First Nations participation through co-design has emerged as a key prerequisite of policy legitimacy in the Indigenous policy domain. In this discussion paper, the mainstream literature on co-design and collaborative governance is surveyed and considered, as a means of identifying the essential characteristics of effective co-design policy and program processes. The literature survey identifies two strands: one that asserts the merits and opportunities inherent in policy and program co-design, and a second that highlights the risks and challenges.

Two nationally significant current and ongoing Indigenous policy development processes that have been described as co-design processes are then analysed and assessed. The paper concludes that co-design involves more than consultation, and ideally requires shared decision-making. Further, in relation to policy co-design processes, the literature and cases studies suggest the core design features that are required to ensure the processes contribute to creating public value and maintaining trust in democratic public policy institutions.

You can read the paper here and for more information about the Centre for Aboriginal Economic Policy Research at ANU, visit their website.

ANU image

ANU image from report cover.

Remote Health: Going the extra mile

The National Rural Health Alliance (NRHA) has an upcoming webinar on Remote Health: Going the extra mile.

Remote Australia features some of the most stunning landscapes in the world. However, delivering health services in this environment brings with it unique and challenging circumstances. With a small and geographically dispersed population base, ensuring remote Australia has access to high quality healthcare, requires an innovative and flexible approach.  This webinar explores the challenges and opportunities in delivering health services to these unique communities, including the experience of working remotely, the critical role of aeromedical support, and how to enhance the medical workforce training experience through remote placements. Get a better understanding of the remote health delivery experience – register for this webinar today.

Date: Thursday 17 June 2021
Time: 12:30 – 1:30 pm (AEST)
Cost: $45.00 (complimentary for NRHA Board, Council and Friends members)

Click here for more information and to register for the webinar.

NRHA Webinar - Remote Health: Going the extra mile.

NRHA Webinar – Remote Health: Going the extra mile.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: ACCHO to reduce diabetes-related vision loss in mob

Feature tile - Fri 4.6.21 - ACCHO to reduce vision loss in mob

ACCHO to reduce diabetes-related vision loss in mob

Diabetes Australia has launched a new partnership with Carbal Medical Services, a Toowoomba and Warwick based Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health organisation, to reduce diabetes-related vision loss and blindness in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Diabetes is a leading cause of vision loss and blindness but only about 50% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with diabetes are having their eyes checked within recommended timeframes.

The Diabetes Australia – Carbal partnership involves the promotion of KeepSight, an eye check reminder program run by Diabetes Australia which encourages people with diabetes to have regular eye checks. The program will use locally developed, culturally appropriate resources and information.

KeepSight is free and registration only takes a minute. People then receive regular reminders when their eye checks are due.

You can read more about the partnership in Mirage News here.

KeepSight - Look after your eyes, look after your mob image.

KeepSight – Look after your eyes, look after your mob image.

Cancer patients encouraged to get COVID-19 vaccine

A new Cancer Australia initiative is encouraging Aboriginal people who have been impacted by cancer to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

The Facts on the Vax campaign is being rolled out to both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal healthcare workers, across social media, and on the Cancer Australia website. The campaign includes a short, animated video and easy-to-understand factsheets about vaccination for Aboriginal people with cancer, their loved ones and health workers working with Aboriginal people.

Cancer Australia chief executive Professor Dorothy Keefe said the campaign hopes to cut through misinformation and answer frequently asked questions about the vaccine.

“The evidence is really strong that having the vaccine is a good thing,” Professor Keefe told NIT.

Every year approximately 1,400 Indigenous Australians are diagnosed with cancer, and as part of the COVID-19 roll out, many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with cancer are eligible to receive a free COVID-19 vaccine.

Dr Jason Agostino from NACCHO says Aboriginal people impacted by cancer are very vulnerable to the virus.

“It’s really important that we give them all the protection we can and vaccines are a part of that,” said Dr Agostino.

You can read the full story in the National Indigenous Times here.

The Facts on the Vax campaign by Cancer Australia.

The Facts on the Vax campaign by Cancer Australia.

Extra support for SA patients

Aboriginal patients travelling long distances for specialist medical treatment will be entitled to advanced subsidies and automatically have travel partners approved for reimbursements, as part of a range of improvements being introduced to the Patient Assistance Transport Scheme (PATS).

Announcing the changes on National Reconciliation Week, Minister for Health and Wellbeing Stephen Wade said the changes are part of a new PATS Aboriginal Engagement Strategy which has been developed to engage more Aboriginal patients in the scheme.

“A review found that despite Aboriginal South Australians in regional areas having relatively low health status, only one percent of Aboriginal patients applied for subsidies through PATS, which clearly shows we are missing opportunities to reimburse patients,” said Minister Wade.

“The strategy has identified key areas to ensure the scheme is more accessible, more flexible, easier to understand and provides better support for Aboriginal patients travelling for medical treatment.

You can read the media release here.

Patient transport by MAF Australia.

Patient transport by MAF Australia.

AMA calls for reform to public hospital funding

With ambulance ramping occurring in our public hospitals because of a lack of doctors, nurses and beds, the AMA is calling on National Cabinet to urgently address public hospital funding to pull hospitals ‘back from the brink’.

Record-breaking ambulance ramping in Perth, a delay in elective surgeries in WA due to overwhelming demand, disturbing incidences of hospitals unable to cope across the country, questions raised in this week’s Senate estimates, and stories coming from NSW Parliament’s inquiry into hospital services in rural and regional areas, has forced the issue on to the national agenda.

“Our public hospitals are at breaking point and patients are suffering as a consequence,” AMA President Dr Omar Khorshid said.

The AMA says the National Cabinet must urgently move to shared 50 – 50 Commonwealth–State funding for public hospitals, and remove the artificial cap that stops our system meeting community demand.

Read AMA’s media release here.

“Our public hospitals are at breaking point and patients are suffering as a consequence,” AMA President Dr Omar Khorshid said.

Aboriginal child is sedated while leaving surgery, at Katherine Hospital.

Share your vaccine story

The Australian Government Department of Health has developed this easy-to-use template for social media tiles showcasing a photo and story of why you want to get or have been vaccinated against COVID-19. It’s a PowerPoint template that includes a square tile for use on Instagram and Facebook and a landscape tile to be used on Twitter or LinkedIn.

The aim is to share as many stories as possible on social media showcasing everyday people and their reasons for wanting to get the vaccine.

You can download the template here.

Alternatively, you can email: nacchonews@naccho.org.au with your photo and brief story together with your first name(s) and if you chose to, your identification(s) (example of identification: grandmother and granddaughter of the Yuin Walganga people, Mogo NSW) and we can share your story on NACCHO’s social media channels.

COVID-19 Vaccination - Image frame.

COVID-19 Vaccination – Image frame.

More doctors recruited to rural and remote communities

A unique national GP training program that enables doctors to gain their specialist qualification in General Practice – while living and working as a doctor in a First Nations, rural or remote community – has assisted the recruitment of an additional much-needed doctor for St George in Queensland.

Dr Gary Wood is among 32 doctors who will be training with the Remote Vocational Training Scheme (RVTS) this year. He was recruited under a collaborative approach by RVTS (through its Targeted Recruitment strategy), Health Workforce Queensland and Goondir Health Services.

He will be working at Goondir Health Services – a health service for local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people – while continuing his specialist GP training in the RVTS program.

The appointment is a major win for the St George community, as Dr Wood will work there for the duration of his specialist GP training, and hopefully for many years beyond.

“For their community, this means continuity of medical services and patient care. It really is a win-win situation for the doctors and their communities,” said RVTS CEO, Dr Pat Giddings.

Dr Wood said the benefits of working and training as a doctor under the RVTS training model were significant.

You can read the media release here.

Dr Gary Wood and Floyd Leedie CEO Goondir Health Services.

Dr Gary Wood and Floyd Leedie CEO Goondir Health Services.

RVTS Round 1 applications now open

The Remote Vocational Training Scheme (RVTS) is currently promoting their first round of applications for the 2022 intake. Round 1 Applications are now open – until Sunday 4 July 2021, for training to commence in February 2022, with positions available in both AMS and Remote training streams.

In addition to the AMS stream MMM2-7 location eligibility, RVTS is also offering Targeted Recruitment locations for 2022 (there are currently 5 Aboriginal Medical Services as approved Targeted Recruitment locations) as listed on the RVTS website.

For more application information click here.
For more information about targeted recruitment locations click here.

RVTS - Targeted Training Locations.

RVTS – Targeted Training Locations.

Webinar: Supporting the journey of women birthing Aboriginal babies in NSW

Supporting the journey of women birthing Aboriginal babies in NSW

The AH&MRC is hosting a maternal health webinar. We will hear from the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (ACCHO) sector as well as the Aboriginal Maternal Infant Health Strategy (AMIHS) on programs running in communities to support women birthing Aboriginal babies in NSW.

Hear from:

  • Waminda – Melanie Briggs and Hayley Longbottom
  • NSW Ministry of Health – Elizabeth Best
  • Riverina Medical and Dental Aboriginal Corporation – Kristy Williams, Annika Honeysett, Rachel Fikkers and Megan Elliot-Rudder

We are inviting people working in the maternal and child health space as well as women in communities across New South Wales.

Date & time: 10:00am until 11:30am, 16 June 2021.
For more information about the event and how to register click here.

Supporting the journey of women birthing Aboriginal Babies in NSW - event image.

Supporting the journey of women birthing Aboriginal Babies in NSW – event image.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Mabo Day

Feature tile - Thu 3.6.21 - Mabo Day.

Mabo Day

Today, 3 June is Mabo Day.

Eddie ‘Koiki’ Mabo was a Torres Strait Islander who believed Australian laws on land ownership were wrong and fought to change them. He was born in 1936 on Mer, which is also known as Murray Island, in the Torres Strait.

In 1982 a legal land ownership case was lodged with the High Court of Australia by a group of Meriam from the Eastern Torres Strait Islands, led by Eddie Mabo.

The Mabo decision was a legal case that ran for 10 years. On 3 June 1992, the High Court of Australia decided that ‘terra nullius’ should not have been applied to Australia.

Sadly, Eddie Mabo passed away in January 1992, just five months before the High Court made its decision.

The Mabo decision was a turning point for the recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ rights because it acknowledged their unique connection with the land.

It also led to the Australian Parliament passing the Native Title Act in 1993.

For more information about Mabo Day visit the National Museum of Australia website here.

Eddie Mabo NACCHO graphic. Original photo by: Jim McEwan

Eddie Mabo NACCHO graphic. Original photo by: Jim McEwan.

 

Mandatory reporting of influenza vaccinations

The National Immunisation Program (NIP) wants to remind all Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services about the importance of checking expiration dates of vaccines, disposing of out of date stock and reporting accurate data to the Australian Immunisation Register (AIR).

It is mandatory under the Australian Immunisation Register Act 2015 for all vaccination providers to report all influenza vaccinations administered on or after 1 March 2021 to the AIR.

A recent incident reported by a General Practice, where some 2020 influenza stock was found among 2021
influenza stock, prompted the Australian Government Department of Health (the Department) to investigate a range of circumstances that may have led to this, including checking data reported to AIR.

This investigation concluded that there was no 2020 stock in state and territory vaccine warehouses, however there were a high number of vaccines, with 2020 influenza batch numbers, reported to the AIR as being administered this influenza season (2021).

We ask that you remind all staff to double check expiration dates of vaccines prior to administration, dispose of out of date stock appropriately and that you encourage all staff at your practice to double check the information being reported to the AIR is correct prior to submitting it to AIR.

A letter with a copy of the above information can be downloaded here.

Please download a fact sheet outlining the mandatory reporting obligations for vaccination providers, and helpful tips for reporting to the AIR here.

 

Women living remotely must travel for birth

Heavily pregnant women living in remote and regional areas across Australia are being forced to pack their bags and head to hospital to wait for the birth of their babies, far away from family, culture, community, and connection.

Women’s health experts say this experience is traumatic for expectant parents and expensive for governments, but that the answer is simple: open more culturally safe birthing centres outside of big cities.

Women who live outside of the four major birthing hubs in the NT (Darwin, Alice Springs, Katherine and Nhulunbuy) need to travel to the nearest hospital at 38 weeks to wait for their baby to be born. For most of these women, English is not their first language, and some don’t speak English at all. Most women travel alone and although they are offered a translator in hospital, one is not always available.

Charles Darwin University professor of midwifery Sue Kildea labelled Northern Territory Health’s remote birthing policy as “outrageous”.

“Why do they send women by themselves? We don’t even let them take their kids with them,” she said.

“It’s the one thing that we should be so ashamed of.”

Experts are calling for more regional birthing hubs to fill the gap.

Read full story by ABC News here.

Judy Mununggrruitj lives in Galiwin'ku, a remote community in East Arnhem Land.(ABC News: Emma Vincent).

Judy Mununggrruitj lives in Galiwin’ku, a remote community in East Arnhem Land.(ABC News: Emma Vincent).

 

Expanding birth centres to remote NT 5+ years away

Northern Territory Health Minister Natasha Fyles says the government is looking at returning birthing facilities to remote and regional locations, and hopes to do so within the next decade.

“It’s a huge step to take forward, but I think it’s an important step,” she said.

Ms Fyles said investing in birthing on country services was a “priority” and NT Health was working toward developing a Territory-specific birthing on country model.

But not everyone’s convinced returning birthing to remote locations is the way forward.

Worimi woman Marilyn Clarke is the chair of the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists’ Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Women’s Health Committee.

She said returning low-risk birth to remote communities could “be a bit tricky”, because if there was an unexpected complication, mother and baby were far away from emergency care.

Dr Clarke also said staffing remote hubs would be challenging and the NT had long-running issues recruiting and retaining health workers.

Instead, she said governments should invest in strong, Indigenous-led pre- and post-natal care in remote and regional locations.

You can read more about this story on ABC News here.

Remote NT. Image source: Croakey Health Media.

Remote NT. Image source: Croakey Health Media.

 

Remote ENT service delivery model

The Rural and Remote Health journal has done a rapid literature review aimed to inform the development of a new sustainable, evidence-based service delivery model for ear, nose and throat (ENT) services across Cape York, Australia. This work seeks to investigate the research question ‘What are the characteristics of successful outreach services which can be applied to remote living Indigenous children?’

A comprehensive search of three major electronic databases (PubMed, CINAHL and MEDLINE) and two websites (HealthInfo Net and Google Scholar) was conducted for peer-reviewed and grey literature, to elicit characteristics of ENT and hearing services in rural and remote Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the USA. The search strategy was divided into four sections: outreach services for rural and remote communities; services for Indigenous children and families; telehealth service provision; and remote ear and hearing health service models. A narrative synthesis was used to summarise the key features of the identified service characteristics.

In total, 71 studies met the inclusion criteria and were included in the review, which identified a number of success and sustainability traits, including employment of a dedicated ear and hearing educator; outreach nursing and audiology services; and telehealth access to ENT services. Ideally, outreach organisations should partner with local services that employ local Indigenous health workers to provide ongoing ear health services in community between outreach visits.

The evidence suggests that sound and sustainable ENT outreach models build on existing services; are tailored to local needs; promote cross-agency collaboration; use telehealth; and promote ongoing education of the local workforce.

View the full article here.

On Duty: Kelvin Kong treats a patient in Broome in 2015. Picture: Simone De Peak.

On Duty: Kelvin Kong treats a patient in Broome in 2015. Picture: Simone De Peak.

 

Soft drink ads hit ‘vulnerable’

What keeps consumers hooked on high sugar soft drink? Advertising, of course. But why are some consumers more adept at ignoring these cues than others?

A new study from Flinders University, has found participants with an automatic bias towards soft drinks – or difficulty resisting sweet drinks compared to non-sweetened control beverages (e.g., water) – are more responsive to the advertisements than those without these tendencies.

The Australian study compared the ability of 127 university-age students (18-25 year olds) to withstand or succumb to the urge to reach for a soft drink when viewing television advertisements.

Not only can regular soft drink consumption lead to weight gain and tooth decay, with a typical 375ml can of soft drink contain about 10 teaspoons of sugar, but so can these ’empty’ calories reduce intake of calcium, fibre and other nutrients in a healthy diet.

Australian Bureau of Statistics (2015) research estimated 50-60% of adolescent and young people consume soft drink every day.

“The cognitive vulnerabilities exposed in our study is an important lesson to future possible regulation of television advertising or public health campaigns,” says co-author Amber Tuscharski.

“After all, their exposure to soft drink cues will continue as manufacturers and marketers advertise their products in multiple locations – from TV commercials to in-store, service stations, public transport and billboards.”

Read full article in Science Direct here.

Lead Researcher Flinders University Professor of Psychology Eva Kemps on fizzy drinks.

Lead Researcher Flinders University Professor of Psychology Eva Kemps on fizzy drinks.

 

Ways to support healthy foods in remote stores

Monash University invites you to join in their HEALTHY STORiES = GOOD FOOD inaugural event to share remote community stores and takeaway advances through film for improved health. This live online series features stories from remote communities and leaders on ways to support healthy foods in remote community stores.

HEALTHY STORiES = GOOD FOOD addresses the issue of food security and aims to foster critical discussion towards health-enabling stores. It is a celebration and sharing of initiatives, whilst acknowledging barriers and having a focus on a food secure future for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander remote communities.

Please share with other remote store owners, community leaders and members, government policy-makers, health workers, academics, and practitioners who have a passion for thriving and healthy community stores. 

You can download the event poster here.

The event themes and scheduled times are:

3 June (11:30am – 12:30pm AEDT) Webinar 1: Remote Stores: Healthy Takeaways I Employment opportunities
15 June (12:30 – 1:30pm AEDT) Webinar 2: Food supply, delivery, local food economies
16 June (12:30 – 1:30pm AEDT) Webinar 3: Food affordability and pricing for healthy food
17 June (12:30 – 1:30pm AEDT) Webinar 4: The 4P’s of marketing for healthy food in stores

Facilitator of the online series:
Ms Nicole Turner, Indigenous Allied Health Australia & NSW Rural Doctors Network

Please submit any questions to coordinator: stacey.holden@monash.edu

FREE registration here.

Food Dreaming by Jarrod Stain, Gamilaroi Artist

Food Dreaming by Jarrod Stain, Gamilaroi Artist.

 

BRAMS – May Newsletter

After a busy start to the year, Easter provided Broome Regional Aboriginal Medical Service’s (BRAMS) staff with the opportunity to take a break and refresh. BRAMS continues to offer the COVID-19 vaccine to the local community, and more than 150 patients have received the jab so far, with no side effects being reported. We strongly encourage all our patients to come into the clinic to discuss their vaccine, particularly if you have concerns or questions.

We are excited to announce yet another expansion of our disability services, through a supported mobile playgroup program for children aged 0-14.

We have also commenced the recruitment process for our Chronic Disease Program, and we look forward to updating you in our next newsletter on the newest members of the team.

Finally, look out for us on your TV screens – we recently filmed our first television advertisement, and can’t wait to see the final product. A big thank you to all staff and patients who took part in the filming.

Please view the latest edition of the BRAMS newsletter here.

BRAMS_newsletter_May_2021

BRAMS Newsletter – May 2021.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Health will improve when housing improves

feature tile text 'Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health will only improve if we improve housing', image of a boarded house near Alice Springs

Health will improve when housing improves

University of Melbourne academics Laureate Professor Hugh Taylor AC, Senior Research Fellow Mitchell D Anjou AM and Research Fellow Emma Stanford have written an article To Improve Indigenous Health, We Must Improve Indigenous Housing. In the article they say the recommendation of the recent Senate report to re-establish the National Partnership Agreement on Remote Indigenous Housing is to be applauded, but more importantly, it should be implemented as a matter of urgency.

Trachoma is blinding eye disease spread repeatedly between young children which causes scarring in the eyes, leading to blindness in adults. Sometimes called “Sandy Blight”, Trachoma disappeared from mainstream Australia more than a century ago. But actually, Australia remains the only developed country to still have trachoma, along with some 44 low-income countries.

Last week, the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared Gambia to be the latest country to eliminated trachoma. Australia had made a declaration in 2009 to eliminate trachoma by 2020 – a target the country missed.

Trachoma is spread by the frequent exchange of infected eye and nose secretions from one child to another. The key to stopping this terrible blinding disease is to stop the spread of infected secretions by keeping the children’s faces clean. In order to do this, they must have access to safe and functional bathrooms. Although some good progress has been made, the process has stalled for lack of safe and functional housing. Inadequate housing has a critical impact on health, including Indigenous health.

To view the article click here.

Aboriginal adults hands holding arms of young Aboriginal child. guiding soapy child's hands under a tap of running water

Photo: Indigenous Eye Health. Image source: The University of Melbourne Pursuit webpage.

Perinatal healthcare gap a priority

Health researchers across the globe are pushing for better Indigenous perinatal care with a focus on Indigenous-led, community-based solutions.

Yvette Roe is a Njikena Jawuru woman and an Indigenous health researcher at Charles Darwin University is one of about 50 names from Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the United States on a recently published paper in Women and Birth, the official journal of the Australian College of Midwives. They are all demanding better perinatal care for First Nations women to better support mothers from the start of their pregnancies through their infants’ first 12 months of life.

Dr Roe said the mainstream health system routinely failed Indigenous mothers, “What we know is the current system of maternity services is not working for our people,” she said. According to Dr Roe, when compared to non-Indigenous Australians, Aboriginal women were more likely to have pre-term births, more likely to die during childbirth, and more likely to have their babies die during their first year of life.

For Dr Roe and her peers, Indigenous-led, community-based solutions are paramount to closing the perinatal healthcare gap, “Each community comes with its own historical context,” she said. “[The key is] local people being engaged with local solutions.”

To view the article in full click here.

Aboriginal hands holding baby's hands against baby's chest, baby is lying in a coolamon on a cloth, leaves bark seed pods surround coolamon

Photo: Bobbi Lockyer. Image source: ABC News.

Establishing national First Nations researcher network

A team of 91 researchers, led by four experienced First Nations Australian leaders have come together to establish the National Network for First Nations Researchers. This represents the largest cohort of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander researchers (97%) ever assembled with a single goal of growing the next generation of research leaders. This initiative is a critical part of the National Health and Medical Research Council’s (NHMRC) framework for improving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health through research.

One of the researchers who will lead this innovative project, Chairperson of the Lowitja Institute, Dr Pat Anderson AO, says “The National Network’s vision is embedded in the principles of self-determination with activities led by First Nations Peoples for First Nations. It will build on the extensive legacy and ground-breaking work led by the Lowitja Institute over the last 23 years. Our lead investigators will spearhead the establishment of strong and dynamic governance structures that will ensure an inclusive, transparent, equitable and collaborative approach to achieve our commitment to building Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander national research network.”

To view the Menzies School of Health Research media release click here.

portrait shots top L clockwise Dr Pat Anderson AO, Professor Gail Garvey, Professor Sandra Eades & Professor Alex Brown

Researchers leading the National Network for First Nations Researchers project, clockwise from top left: Dr Pat Anderson AO, Professor Gail Garvey, Professor Sandra Eades & Professor Alex Brown. Image sources: National Indigenous Times, Bupa, Burnet Institute, and NHMRC CREATE.

Resilient NSW First Nations people

Indigenous supporters of reconciliation came together last week to take part in a Q+A panel discussing the resilience of First Nations People in NSW with Members of Parliament. In its 12th year, Reconciliation in Parliament is a program of events hosted by Reconciliation NSW to continue the bi-partisan commitment of the NSW Parliament to Reconciliation. This year’s theme, ‘A case of resilience for the First Nations People of NSW’ highlighted Aboriginal communities’ successful responses to COVID-19 global pandemic.

Panellists praised the actions of ACCHOs in communicating clear information about the global pandemic very early to Aboriginal communities to keep them safe. Comments made included:

  • ACCHOs were prepared earlier than much of mainstream Australia, and because of the need to protect culture, understood the risk and took steps to mitigate any risk by closing off communities.
  • Communities worked together embracing covid measures – not complaining or resisting the limitations of the COVID Guidelines promoted by ACCHOs…and provided practical help to each other, networking and sharing what was working.
  • One of the key strengths is our culture of connectivity which served us during the pandemic as we were all communicating / connected / informed.

The panel also warned of new health epidemics looming – even higher trends of intergenerational trauma, overrepresentation of kids in out of home care and juvenile justice.

To view the full article click here.

blurred background of green hill & people, clear image Aboriginal man with Aboriginal flag mask, ochre beanie, denim jacket, strap of black backpack looking serious

Image source: SBS NITV website.

Vaccinating 3,500 across 75,000 sq kms

Five hours’ drive from Darwin, Barunga laundromat manager Frederick Scrubby, 55, is not convinced that he should get the COVID-19 vaccination. Mr Scrubby, a community leader, said COVID-19 affected people far away, in Sydney and Melbourne. “None of my mob is infected,” he told Aboriginal health practitioner Raelene Brunette. She is going door to door in Barunga and nearby Beswick to address fears and explain how important the vaccine was to keeping elders — and their culture — alive. Sitting on a chair in the red dirt outside his laundromat, Mr Scrubby said he would have the jab if Ms Brunette had it first. Agreed, she said.

With a total of 149 cases and no deaths, Indigenous Australians have done so well at keeping COVID-19 at bay — many remote communities closed the gates to outsiders last year — that many people think it is no longer a threat. Some Aboriginal people have told Ms Brunette they’d rather go bush and hide instead of risking a blood clot from the AstraZeneca vaccine. The Therapeutic Goods Association has reported 18 cases of thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome, including one death, from the first 1.8 million doses of AstraZeneca given in Australia.

Senior Indigenous health leaders meeting in Katherine expressed serious concerns about increasing resistance to getting vaccinated. John Paterson, the chief executive of the Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance of the Northern Territory (AMSANT), said members were reporting community hesitance “because of the media around blood clotting [associated with AstraZeneca vaccine]“. AMSANT represents 26 Aboriginal-controlled medical services.

To view The Sydney Morning Herald click here.

Binjari man Christopher Frith, 62 (red black white grey polo shirt, long grey beard & hair on balding head) get's covid-19 vaccine at Katherine's Wurli Wurlinjang Health Service, looks worriedly to the side as the vaccine is injected

Binjari man Christopher Frith, 62 gets the shot at Katherine’s Wurli Wurlinjang Health Service, Photo: Rhett Wyman. Image source: Brisbane Times.

Family violence supports discriminate

The fact that many Australians recognise the names of people like Hannah Clarke and Rosie Batty and little Kobi Shepherdson, the fact that strangers march in the streets calling for justice on their behalf, is a reflection of the increasing consciousness of domestic and family violence in this country. But for all the hard-fought gains in putting this issue on the national agenda, a stunning lack of attention has been dedicated to one of the most critically impacted groups: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women.

Have you heard of Tamica Mullaley and her son, Charlie, for example? What about Jody Gore? They have endured family violence so shocking you’d imagine their names dominating front pages and news bulletins. But, no. Their names are barely spoken, their stories little told. There are no nationwide vigils or street-filling marches.

To view the full article click here.

Aboriginal woman with hand out-stretched in front of face with the word enough written palm of hand

Image source: SBS NITV website.

What GPs can expect from the Budget

Responding to the 2021–22 Federal Budget, RACGP President Dr Karen Price said additional funding for primary care, aged care and mental health is welcome, but the finer details ‘make all the difference’. RACGP newsGP have prepared a summary of the major measures affecting GPs, under the headings: primary care, COVID-19 response, Medicare, aged care, rural health, mental health, and disability.

To view the article click here.

copies of cover of 3 Budget 2021–22 budget paper

Image source: RACGP newsGP.

Kidney Disease Webinar TOMORROW

Kidney Health Australia is hosting a Health Professional Webinar Chronic Kidney Disease & Acute Kidney Injury presented by Professor Karen Dwyer tomorrow evening Tuesday 18 May at 7:30 PM AEST. You can view a flyer here.

If you have not registered and are interested in attending, you can register up until the day here.

Kidney Health Australia logo large letter 'K' with elongated half circles in white either side of the join of the 'K', blurred image of Aboriginal man in the background & blood flowing through dialysis machine

Image of dialysis patient from SBS NITV website.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: 2021–22 Federal Budget – Plenty of good news for Aboriginal health, but plenty of questions remain

NACCHO responds to the 2021-22 Federal Budget 

The National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) welcomes the Budget initiatives targeting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health. These include funding for the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, point-of-care testing, rheumatic fever strategy, bowel cancer screening, workplace training packages for health professionals in rural and remote areas, changes to the Midwife Professional Indemnity Scheme and changes to the Practice Incentives Program (Indigenous Health Incentive). These all seem to be very positive announcements. Also pleasing is the focus on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the substantial aged care and mental health packages.

While these announcements are most welcome, there needs to be more clarity concerning implementation. It is important that Aboriginal community-controlled organisations are closely involved in the new initiatives to ensure success.

In Cairns this morning, Donnella Mills, the NACCHO Chair, said ‘These Budget measures are very welcome, but we will need to work through the detail before we can be sure that what is proposed will work.’

‘It is pleasing to see that the NACCHO members are referred to in the Budget Papers in relation to a new role in the aged care sector and other areas. Certainly, the measures announced in the Budget won’t work unless Aboriginal people and organisations are fully involved in the design and delivery.’

The pandemic has proved the success of the model. The network of Aboriginal community-controlled health organisations in combatting COVID-19 shows what happens when local people are empowered to take local action.

Ms Mills said ‘We have shown the world what can be done to keep First Nations peoples safe during a global pandemic. In the USA, the Navajo had the highest death rate of any ethnic population. In Australia, not one Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander person has died.’

NACCHO welcomes the aged care package. The identification of $630m to improve aged care access largely for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders is a significant investment (about 3.6 per cent of the overall package). However, more will need to follow for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders to receive their fair share of aged care (estimated at 7 per cent on population and eligibility).

Ms Mills said ‘All Australians welcome the overdue investment in aged care. We all want our elders to be loved and cared for with dignity and respect. But Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders would like to see the specific details about how the measures will be tailored to our people and our communities and what role our services can play in all of this. We are keen to work with governments to ensure that the new funding is effectively invested. Governments need to start talking to us now, so that these good intentions deliver solid results on the ground for our elders.’

To read the full media release click here.

Coalition of Peaks responds to the 2021-22 Federal Budget

Positive start but First Nations must wait and see for promised Closing the Gap investment

Significant Budget measures announced by the Commonwealth Government provide a foundation for investing in the National Agreement on Closing the Gap. As expected, detailed funding relating to Closing the Gap was not announced in the Budget last night, so the full scope of funding commitments remains to be seen.

“I’m pleased to see the funding laid out in this Budget contains promising investments in crucial areas that affect our people,” said Patricia Turner AM, Lead Convener of the Coalition of Peaks.

“We are encouraged to see significant funding in areas of aged care, Indigenous skills and jobs, mental health and women’s safety; but this is very much a ‘wait and see’ budget as the majority of funding directed towards Closing the Gap won’t be announced until later in the year,” she said.

The federal government will announce more specific funding on Closing the Gap after Cabinet considers the Commonwealth’s Jurisdictional Implementation Plan mid-year.

“Our main concern with every Commonwealth Budget is how the funding will trickle down and benefit our people on the ground. Too often, our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled organisations, which are responsible for delivering many of the services in our communities, have been left with inadequate funding to service our people. My hope is that our community-controlled organisations are not just left with the crumbs from the Budget table.”

“Given the massive new investments seen in this Budget, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have a legitimate expectation that there will be a significant boost in funding in all areas of Closing the Gap — including implementation of the Priority Reforms in the National Agreement that we believe will accelerate the closing of gaps,” Ms Turner said.

“We look forward to an announcement of funding in the Closing the Gap measures to support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander participation in the Justice Policy Partnership in particular and all policy and place-based partnerships to be established under the National Agreement”.

“It is also vital that meaningful proportions of the new funding initiatives in the Budget for the broader population that are critical for closing the gaps, such as in childcare and preschool, are allocated to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations, particularly community-controlled organisations”.

“This is a commitment made by the Commonwealth in the National Agreement on Closing the Gap, but it is still uncertain and risky whether our community-controlled sector will receive the funding it needs to deliver much better services to our people,” Ms Turner said.

Finally, the Government’s new investment into our Family Violence Prevention Legal Services to address the severe problem of family violence is welcomed but more funding is needed to keep our women and children safe.

To read the full media release click here.

Family Matters National Week of Action Sun 9 – Sat 15 May 2021 #OurMobsMatter

Next week join the Family Matters National Week of Action, SNAICC’s campaign to create awareness of the over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in out-of-home care. Build your skills and knowledge and be part of our work to ensure all our children and young people grow up strong and safe in their families, cultures, and communities.

You can also register your own events, and access our resources page so you can download our Family Matters National Week of Action digital resources (including social media tiles, an email signature, and customisable posters for your own events) to help you promote the Family Matters campaign next week. Please share content including the Family Matters handle and using the hashtag #OurMobsMatter

The Family Matters leaders would like to remind non-Aboriginal organisations to support the campaign through your annual sponsorships – please check sponsorship information here and email familymatters@snaicc.org.au to arrange an invoice as soon as possible.

Wednesday 12 May (12-1.30pm AEST) – National commissioner call to action

Join SNAICC CEO Catherine Liddle and Family Matters Co-Chair Dr Paul Gray as they lead a discussion by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children’s commissioners and deputy commissioners around the continent as we continue to call for the creation of dedicated, independent Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children’s commissioners in each state and territory and at the national level.

Speakers include: April Lawrie, Commissioner for Aboriginal Children and Young People (South Australia); Justin Mohamed, Commissioner for Aboriginal Children and Young People (Victoria); Natalie Lewis, Commissioner for the Queensland Family and Child Commission; Richard Weston, Deputy Children’s Guardian for Aboriginal Children and Young People (New South Wales), and Nicole Hucks, Assistant Children’s Commissioner, Office of the Children’s Commissioner (Northern Territory).

Join this key call for accountability and in defence of the rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and their families.

Register here.

Thursday 13 May (12-2pm AEDT) – Ways to connect children back to their family, culture and community

This conversation will be led by Family Matters Co-Chair Sue-Anne Hunter.

Speakers include: Jo-Anne Kelly, Project Manager Community Initiatives with Kinchela Boys Home Aboriginal Corporation; Jacynta Krakouer, Family Matters National Leadership Group and University of Melbourne; and Jennifer Parsons, QATSCIPP Sector Development Officer.

Engage and learn from this fascinating discussion among four expert Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander practitioners in child and family services. Build your practice skills and learning through Aboriginal-led engagement, awareness, and ideas for skill development.

Register here.

Friday 14 May (12-2pm AEST) – Ensuring our babies get the safest start

Learn about how birth is a key point of removal from their families for too many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander babies, and what we can do to stop this entry point from happening. Hear about how we can work to keep babies with their parents and families. This conversation will be led by Family Matters Co-Chair Sue-Anne Hunter.

Speakers include: Professor Megan Davis, Emma Buxton-Namisnyk and Dr Althea Gibson (all UNSW); Associate Professor Catherine Chamberlain (La Trobe University, Healing the Past); Birri O’Dea (Molly Wardaguga Research Centre, Charles Darwin University); Alison Elliott, The Bouverie Centre; and Debra Bennet (Executive Lead Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Engagement and Cultural Advisor, Relationships Australia Queensland).

Register here.

The Family Matters Report 2020 was launched in November 2020. It reveals that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children continue to be removed from family and kin at disproportionate rates – disrupting their connection to community and culture. The report identified a concerning trend towards permanency and adoption that is driving separation of children from family, community, and culture.

Keep an eye out for the Family Matters National Leadership Group members on @IndigenousX on Twitter, from Thursday 6 May to Thursday 13 May.