NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Reconciliation Barometer shows heightened racism in 2020

feature tile reconciliation barometer 2020 and feet below marchers with flag we can health together

Reconciliation Barometer shows racism heightened in 2020

The 2020 Australian Reconciliation Barometer—a national research study conducted by Reconciliation Australia every two years—shows that the global and local Black Lives Matter movements have challenged  experiences and understanding of racism in Australia. “This year’s Barometer shows more Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people reporting an incident of racial prejudice than the 2018 barometer,” said Reconciliation Australia CEO, Karen Mundine. “Just over half of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander respondents reported to have experienced at least one form of racial prejudice in the last six months.”

“More Australians now agree with the statement that ‘Australia is a racist country’, a rise across the board in understanding how racism operates. In 2020 we have seen increasing political and social polarisation due to uncertainty and disruption from COVID-19. Through the 2020 Barometer we hear many more people speaking up, speaking the truth, asking the hard questions, seeing the hard facts, and moving from a space of safe to brave on issues affecting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.”

You can view the full 2020 Reconciliation Barometer report, including a summary of the report, by clicking here.

group of Aboriginal girls with Deadly choices t-shirts

Image source: Reconciliation Australia website.

Permanent telehealth model being developed

The AMA will work with the Federal Government to make Medicare-funded telehealth a permanent part of the Australian healthcare system. Health Minister Greg Hunt announced the partnership approach during a joint media conference with AMA President, Dr Omar Khorshid. “The AMA has been working with the Government on how to embed telehealth into the Australian healthcare system for months,” Dr Khorshid said. “The AMA has long advocated for telehealth consultations to be subsidised under the Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS). “The temporary COVID-19 arrangements have allowed us to test the model, and shown where refinements can be made. MBS-funded telehealth has been embraced by doctors and patients alike.”

To view the AMA’s media release regarding the model click here.

man on mobile phone pointing to Aboriginal hand on computer screen

Image source: The Medical Journal of Australia.

Nurses support public drunkenness decriminalisation

Victoria is close to the decriminalisation of public drunkenness, three decades since the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody first made the recommendation. The Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (Victorian Branch) has welcomed the Andrews Government’s decision to review all recommendations of its Expert Reference Group’s report Seeing the clear light of day. The report reinforces that no one should be in a police cell just because they are intoxicated. ANMF supports the two-year implementation period which will enable the Andrews Government to develop a public health model response to replace the jail cell. The implementation period will include trial sites before rolling the approach out across the state.

To view the ANMF (Victorian Branch) media release click here.

Daughters Apryl Watson and Kimberly Watson with photos of their mother Tanya Day outside Coroners Court.

Daughters Apryl Watson and Kimberly Watson with photos of their mother Tanya Day (who was arrested under the public drunkenness law in Victoria and latter died in custody) outside Coroners Court. Image source: The Age.

Mental health lessons from 2020

Menal Illness Education ACT will co-host a stimulating panel discussion on Wednesday 2 December 1.00pm–2.20pm (AEDT) to unpack how paid and unpaid workloads have changed in 2020 and the impacts on wellbeing, particularly for women. The discussion will cover the following topics:

  • We will look at the positives and challenges coming out of the current environment. 
  • Discuss how roles have changed from a range of perspectives and how we have and can respond to those changes as individuals, partners and organisations.
  • Provide strategies and resources on how to identify and respond to the shifting balance.

This session is for everyone, whether you are single, in a couple, a parent or a carer.

The event will be held on Teams. To register pleas click here.tile Lessons from 2020 strategies to balance the mental load

Stolen Generations bus back on healing mission

Bus operator CDC NSW has committed to a partnership in support of Australia’s indigenous people’s ‘Stolen Generations truth telling’. In cementing its partnership with Kinchela Boys Home Aboriginal Corporation (KBHAC) during its first KBHAC Mobile Education Centre (MEC) community visit post COVID-19, CDC NSW driver Mikhail Mikhail steered the MEC bus to a Healing Session at Aboriginal Health and Medical Research Council (AH&MRC) in Little Bay, where it was unveiled to a group of Kinchela Boy’s Home survivors and AH&MRC staff. The MEC – a converted commuter bus nicknamed ‘Benny’ featuring an audio-visual system and printed historical information on Stolen Generations – is the first of its kind and integral to helping KBHAC members tell their stories in a range of locations. To read the full article click here.

Stolen Generations bus

Image source: Australasian Bus & Coach website.

Urgent need to close digital divide

New analysis commissioned by the Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN) shows that urgent action is needed to address the digital divide in remote Indigenous communities in the wake of COVID-19 lockdowns. While much of the nation turned to digital services such as videoconferencing and telehealth during the rolling lockdowns put into place during the COVID-19 pandemic, very few remote Indigenous communities were able to work or learn from home, or access government and health services online.

With access by service providers limited by travel restrictions, many people were left without access to essential services. In some remote communities, the Wi-Fi hotspot, the only point of access, was switched off to avoid people congregating. “COVID-19 saw communities without food and necessities of life because of the lack of access to adequate, reliable, and robust telecommunications,” said ACCAN Board Member and proud Torres Strait Islander, Dr Heron Loban.

To view the full article click here.

3 Aboriginal women and two Aboriginal children with iPad outdoors sand

Image source: sarahharroldblog wbsite.

Pius X win training awards

In a first for Moree, staff of Pius X Aboriginal Medical Service (AMS) have made a clean sweep of GP Synergy’s New England/North West GP training awards, taking out all three regional awards on offer. Pius X’s practice manager Ros Rose was named Practice Manager of the Year, GP supervisor Dr Hamze Hamze was named Supervisor of the Year and GP in training Dr Nada Abu Alrub was named Registrar of the Year in GP Synergy’s New England/North West GP training awards.

To read the full article click here.

3 Pius X staff holding bunch of flowers each and award certificates

Pius X’s GP in training Dr Nada Abu Alrub, practice manager Ros Rose and GP supervisor Dr Hamze Hamze. Image source: Moree Champion News.

COVID-19 vaccination survey

Do you provide immunisations? Do you transport vaccinations or receive them in your workplace? Do you work in rural or remote settings?

Finally, some good COVID-19 news, there have been some positive outcomes in the race outcomes in the race for the COVID-19 vaccine. Nurses, midwives, doctors and Aboriginal Health Practitioners working in primary health care will be very busy in 2021. They will be at the coalface of health promotion, allaying people’s fears, and organising the immunisation logistics to protect their communities. The focus will be on those most at risk, the elderly, men, and the health workforce.

Scaling-up rapid mass immunisation means more trained staff will be needed to administer the vaccinations and provide transportation logistics. The cold chain is only as effective as its ‘weakest’ link. There are many people involved in vaccine cold chain to rural and remote communities, some of whom do not routinely receive training in relation to medicines storage, such as transport drivers, Aboriginal Health Workers, and administration staff.

Central Australian Rural Practitioners Association have made a training video, telling the story of a vaccine’s journey from a supply centre to administration in a remote Aboriginal community, and would like your feedback. Please view the video here and then take 2–3 minutes to complete the 13 question survey here.

image from vaccine journey video. cartoon of cold box being handed between people

Image source: CARPA Inc. Vaccine Story video slide.

60% in remote communities have hearing loss

Chronic ear disease contributes to widespread hearing loss among Indigenous people in Australia. In 2020 it was found 40% of Indigenous people have hearing loss, 60% in remote communities with 79% of people with hearing loss not knowing they did not hear as well as others. Dr Damien Howard and Jody Barney have produced a new video on Indigenous hearing loss. To view the video click here. To take the 13 question survey (approved by the NT Department of Health and Menzies School of Health Research) click here.

cartoon of Aboriginal woman trying to hear on a telephone

Grow Local Cert IV in Mental Health

Despite the challenges this year due to COVID-19, Grow Local participants have worked hard towards completing their Grow Local Certificate IV in Mental Health, meaning communities throughout Western Australia will have additional mental health support available to those who may be struggling. The program has proven to not only be an effective way of meeting these community needs, but also a popular one, with more than 60 participants graduating in towns throughout the state in the coming weeks. The training is provided to community in partnership with the Australian Medical Association (WA), along with support from local organisations including Milligan House, who offered the use of their meeting rooms for the monthly workshops.

To view the WA Primary Health Alliance media release click here.

The World AIDS Day Parliamentary Breakfast is tomorrow

Event begins tomorrow at 7:20am AEDT (for 7:30am start) via Zoom https://us02web.zoom.us/j/81494660983

Each year we ask international and Australian HIV/AIDS experts to share their perspectives on HIV/AIDS in the world and our country, and the outlook for the future. We hope you will find their articles interesting and informative.

Please see the link to the World AIDS Day booklet here.

SA – can be based anywhere across SA – Nunyara Aboriginal Health Service Inc.

Systems Implementation Coordinator Aboriginal disAbility Alliance

SA West Coast ACCHO Network (SAWCAN) is a consortia supporting 4,976 Aboriginal people in a region that stretches from Whyalla in the east, right over to the WA border. Nunyara is acting as the lead agent of the consortia and is seeking to employ a suitably qualified person as the Systems Implementation Coordinator to apply a systems-focused approach in the capacity building of Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (ACCHO) staff to ensure the seamless integration of NDIS within the comprehensive primary health care model.

To view the job description click here.

Applications close 5.00pm Wednesday 9 December 2020.

SA – Whyalla – Nunyara Aboriginal Health Service Inc.

FT Community Activator – 12 month contract

The Nunyara Aboriginal Health Service is an RACGP accredited service that provides culturally appropriate health care, health promotion and education programs for the Aboriginal community in Whyalla. Nunyara is looking to engage an energetic and motivated person to work as a Community Activator within the Aboriginal disAbility Alliance project. This position will provide assertive outreach and advocacy to Aboriginal people living with a disability, their families and carers in a culturally sensitive manner, breaking down barriers to accessing the NDIS and developing trust and rapport.

To view the job description click here.

Applications close 5.00pm Friday 11 December 2020.Nunyara Aboriginal Health Service Inc. logo

ACT – Canberra – Bimberi Residential Services

FT Family Engagement Officer – temporary

Bimberi Residential Services is seeking an experienced, committed and suitably qualified person to fill the Family Engagement Officer role.

The Family Engagement Officer is designed to assist with the engagement of young people and their families and to promote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander practices and perspectives, in the day to day functions across Bimberi Residential Services. The role also is involved in promoting initiatives and developing innovative approaches to meeting client and program needs.

To view the job description click here.

Applications close Friday 11 December 2020.

external view of Bimberi Youth Dentention Centre ACT

Image source: ABC News website.

NSW – Dubbo – Coonamble Aboriginal Health Service

FT Psychologist – 2 year contract, possibility of extension

Coonamble Aboriginal Health Service (CAHS) is seeking an enthusiastic and committed person to fill a full-time position of Psychologist within the highly successful Aboriginal community-controlled organisation Dubbo Regional Aboriginal Health Service (DRAHS) Social & Emotional Wellbeing Department. This is a busy clinical role working with clients to prevent, diagnose and treat psychological issues within a health clinic in NSW.

To view the job description click here.

Applications close Friday 11 December 2020.

ACT – Canberra – OzChild

OzChild, an organisation established to support vulnerable children and young people by providing healing, preventing abuse and neglect, and strengthening families so all children and young people are safe, respected, and nurtured, and reach their full potential, is looking to employ a Family Practitioner and a Team Leader in their Functional Family Therapy (FFT) program. Both roles will strengthen the benefit of services to children, young people and their families in specified areas utilising an evidence based program. This evidence-based program has been developed to support families, with children and youth aged 12 to 18 years, in the home and the community. To view the position descriptions for the roles click on the role titles below.

Family Practitioner – Functional Family Therapy (FFT)

Team Leader – Functional Family Therapy

To apply, please contact the OzChild HR advisor Paul Ridley by phone 03 9695 2243 or to email click here.two Aboriginal young girls, one kissing the other on the cheek, OzChild logo

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: COVID-19 vaccine promising but safety is key

feature tile 11.11.20 COVID-19 vaccine promising but safety is key, image of needle going into an arm

COVID-19 vaccine promising but safety is key

Early results of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine trial are promising, and highlight the unprecedented levels of cooperation around the world to defeat the virus, AMA President, Dr Omar Khorshid, said today. Releasing a new AMA policy statement, Dr Khorshid that winning the trust of the public will be key to the successful rollout of any COVID-19 vaccine in Australia. “Regulators are working hard to streamline approval processes so that any successful vaccines can be distributed as quickly as possible,” Dr Khorshid said.

“Australia has a strong record on vaccine safety, due in great part to the rigour of the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) in assessing all medications before they are released to the Australian public. While we support the TGA’s efforts to speed up its approval processes in this case, given the scale of the pandemic, it must still apply its usual criteria to assess the safety, quality and effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines. This is critical to winning public confidence. Instead of making any COVID-19 vaccine compulsory, extensive efforts should be made to foster trust in the community and encourage its voluntary uptake.”

To view the AMA’s statement on vaccination for COVID-19 click here and to view the AMA’s media release relating to the new COVID-19 vaccine click here.

Right Tracks program promotes health

In Central Australia, the Right Tracks program is helping local young people in Alice Springs and surrounding areas to keep their health in check and create positive change. The Aboriginal-led program, originally founded by Ian McAdam and Rob Clarke, and now run in partnership between Central Australian Football League, Central Australian Aboriginal Congress (Congress), Australian Drug Foundation (ADF) Goodsports Program is designed to support young people through a targeted intensive support environment using sport as a key hook.

“There’s two parts to our program: one is sport and the other side is about health. During the day, we concentrate on getting our football teams that are lined up with our program to start thinking about doing a lot of health programs with our participants,” says Ian. As part of the program, participants complete a 715 health check with Congress, the local Aboriginal community controlled health service, or their local health clinic in some remote cases.

The annual health check is designed to support the physical, psychological and social wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and is free at Aboriginal Medical Services and bulk billing clinics nationally.

For further information click here.

Aboriginal man with Right Tracks Program shirt holding football, standing on football field

Ian McAdam, RIght Tracks Program coordinator. Image source: 33 Creative.

Doing things ‘the Aboriginal way’ crucial

Dr Finlay has taken heart from the “great successes” in the fight to restrict the spread of COVID-19. “The theme of NAIDOC Week is Always Was, Always Will Be … but this is not just about land, it is about doing things in an Aboriginal way,” she said. “We’ve seen particularly with the COVID virus, when things have been done in an Aboriginal way that have been led by Indigenous people, we’ve had massive success.

To view the full article click here.

portrait shot of Dr Summer May Finlay, vice-president for Public Health Association of Australia's ATSI Health

portrait shot of Dr Summer May Finlay, vice-president for Public Health Association of Australia’s ATSI Health. Image source: Illawarra Mercury.

Lifeline supports suicide monitoring system

John Brogden, Chairman, Lifeline Australia, has welcomed the launch of the NSW Government’s state-wide monitoring system as a significant step toward saving lives. “The introduction of a suicide and self-harm monitoring system will greatly improve the way suicide prevention services can respond to suicide risk. Quite simply, access to this information will help us save lives.” Mr Brogden said. “This is a hopeful step, especially for communities who are grappling with rising loss of life. It will give us greater insight into where the immediate and heightened risk is occurring, enabling us to put in place preventative measures that will reduce the risk of harm as soon as it is identified.”

Suicide Prevention Australia, CEO, Nieves Murray has also welcomed the monitoring system “this is a significant moment in suicide prevention for NSW. Organisations working directly with people in crisis will benefit from the NSW Suicide Monitoring and Data Management System as they will better understand why suicides occur and how to prevent them.”

To view Lifeline’s media release click here and to view the Suicide Prevention Australia’s media release click here.

Aboriginal woman sitting on wooden bench in garden, head in hands

Image source: SBS website.

NT liquor legislations ill-conceived

The NT Government has introduced legislation that gives Woolworths the power to circumvent the independent Liquor Commission and build one of the largest bottle shops in the country within walking distance of three dry Aboriginal communities, Bagot, Kulaluk and Minmarama. The Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance NT (AMSANT) has expressed deep concerns that landmark NT alcohol reforms will be undermined by ill-conceived liquor legislation.

To view AMSANT’s media release click here.

Aboriginal hands holding can of Bundaberg Rum & cigarette

Image source: ABC News website.

Health sector employee pandemic entitlements extended

On 8 April 2020 the Fair Work Commission issued a decision on pandemic leave for Health Sector Awards, inserting additional measures (known as “Schedule X”) during the COVID-19 pandemic. Schedule X was incorporated into the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services Award 2020. Unpaid pandemic leave and annual leave at half pay has been extended under this Awardsuntil further order of the Fair Work Commission.

For further information click here.

Sunrise Health Service worker checking heart of patient

Barunga Healthcare worker Desleigh Shields. Image Source: ABC News website.

Medical research priorities 2020–2022

Legislation has been passed detailing the Australian Medical Research and Innovation Priorities for the period 2020-2022. Included among the priorities is Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health, specifically Indigenous leadership and Indigenous-led priority setting to drive health-related research to improve the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians and to close the gap on health mortality and morbidity. To view the legislation click here.

image from a clip about the role of Lowitja Institute, words 'good decisions grow from great research' Aboriginal dot painting

Image source: Lowitja Institute website.

Calls for environmental health research

Animal Management in Rural and Remote Indigenous Communities) recently used the occasion of International One Health Day (4 November) to call for further research and understanding into the complex and interconnected relationships between human, animal, and environmental health. One Health is both an international movement and approach to designing and implementing programs, policies, legislation and research in which multiple disciplines collaborate to achieve better health outcomes for humans, animals and the environment. 

Recent events such as the COVID-19 pandemic, which is believed to have originated as a virus carried by bats, have highlighted the important role that changing interactions between people, animals and the environment can play in the occurrence of new diseases, and the vital need for improved understanding of these relationships.

To view the full article click here.

vet operating on dog, two additional medical staff and 4 Aboriginal children looking on

Image source: Vet Practice website.

Web-app to combat ICE use

The South Australian Health & Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI) has developed a web-app designed to combat harmful methamphetamine (ice) use among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and is asking for help to promote the web-app. The web-app, called We Can Do This is part of a study entitled Novel Interventions to Address Methamphetamine Use in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Communities (NIMAC). To view the study click here and to view SAHMRI’s media release about the web-app click here.

shadow of person smoking drug ICE

Image source: SBS website.

Midwife program incorporates smoking ceremony

Thirty babies have taken part in an Indigenous smoking ceremony on the Gold Coast — the first time the traditional event has been held for infants in the city. The ceremony is part of a new program at Gold Coast University Hospital that aims to dismantle institutional racism and help First Nations families connect with their culture.

It is also leading to better health outcomes for newborns. Bundjalung woman Purdey Cox and her husband David, who are proud parents of six-month-old son Boston, said the smoking ceremony was a special moment for them. “It’s really important for us because you don’t always get to connect with community,” Mrs Cox said.

To view the full article click here.

smiling face of Aboriginal baby being held by mother

Six-month-old Boston Cox at the Gold Coast’s first smoking ceremony for Indigenous babies. Image source: ABC News website.

Healing Our Way podcast for youth

The Healing Foundation has  launched a new podcast series on intergenerational trauma from an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspective to tell the story of the healing needed for all Australian communities. The podcast touches on sensitive and confronting themes around trauma and gives young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people a chance to share their thoughts about intergenerational healing and the concept of truth telling.

In launching the first episode, The Healing Foundation Chairman Professor Steve Larkin said it would provide listeners a chance to hear the real stories and lived experience of Stolen Generations survivors and their descendants as they discuss their journeys and thoughts about how we can continue to heal our communities. “Historical injustice is still a source of intergenerational trauma for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and we see it playing out in families and communities across the country,” Professor Larkin said. “Truth telling has an impact on every aspect of the lives of our Stolen Generations survivors, their families and communities and this podcast will help people to understand the stories and experiences, the real stories of our people.

To view the full article click here.

painting of 10 Aboriginal figures with outline of red heart on chests against landscape

Image source: ABC Education website.

2021 Indigenous Medical Scholarships

Applications are now open for the 2021 AMA Indigenous Medical Scholarship, a program that has supported Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students to study medicine since 1994. Previous recipients of the $10,000 a year scholarship have gone on to become prominent leaders in health and medicine, including Associate Professor Kelvin Kong, Australia’s first Aboriginal surgeon. “This Scholarship is a tangible step towards growing the Indigenous medical workforce,” AMA President, Dr Omar Khorshid, said today. “At the end of 2019, there were just over 600 Indigenous doctors in the medical workforce, which is about 0.5 per cent of the workforce. This is a slight improvement on previous years, but to reach population parity of 3 per cent, the number should be closer to 3600.”

To view the AMA’s media release, including details of how to apply for the scholarships click here.AMA Indigenous Medical Scholarship banner, Aboriginal dot painting top right of image

NSW – Newcastle – The University of Newcastle

The University of Newcastle is seeking to recruit for the following roles within the School of Nursing and Midwifery teaching team:

FT Senior Lecturer in Nursing

FT Lecturer in Nursing

FT Lecturer in Midwifery

For job descriptions click on the title of the role above and for applications click here.  Applications for all three positions close Wednesday 25 November 2020.University of Newcastle logo white on black vector of horse head and external image of the uni

ACT – Canberra – Tjillari Justice Aboriginal Corporation

Family Support Case Worker

Tjillaria Justice Aboriginal is recruiting a Family Support Case Worker (FSCW) to deliver services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families through an intensive case management process. The FSCW will provide information and support to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families to develop strong family relationships through engagement with community service providers and arrange trauma counselling in the community.

For more information about the position  click here. Applications close COB 25 November 2020.Tjillari Justice Aboriginal Corporation logo, vector image of pick lollipo surrounding by coloured dots yellow, red, blue, orange, purpleAustralia-wide – CRANAplus

On-call (after hours) Psychologist – flexible, work from home opportunity

CRANAplus is currently seeking psychologists to join its ‘pool’ of contractors to support on-call rosters available with CRANAplus’ Bush Support Line. The Bush Support Line is a flagship service provided by CRANAplus and offers phone counselling (psychological services) 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, to Health Professionals and their families across Australia, working in remote or rural communities.

The CRANAplus Bush Support Line service structure allows its on-call psychologists to be located anywhere in Australia. Rosters are forecasted for three-month periods that offers advanced notice and flexibility regarding shifts engaged. There are no minimum or maximum requirements and employees can nominate shifts as they suit.

CRANAplus advocates for, and serves, a diverse Australia, and genuinely encourages applications from CALD backgrounds and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island people. To discuss this opportunity or provide your resume contact Katherine Leary via the CRANAplus website. CRANAplus logo & image of 4-wheel drive in outback

Aboriginal hand with cannula on edge of hospital bed

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: AMA says COVID-19 shows a need to reset health spending

COVID-19 shows a need to reset health spending

According to AMA President, Dr Omar Khorshid, Australia needs to reset it attitude to health expenditure, with a fundamental reassessment of the priority put on real increases to health spending. “The COVID-19 pandemic has challenged us to rethink many of our assumptions about the functioning of society. Absolutely fundamental to this is our understanding of what a health system that is fit for purpose looks like,” Dr Khorshid said. “The pandemic has shown the strains on so many parts of our health system, particularly aged care, mental health, and protections for our frontline healthcare workers, as well as the need to keep this deadly virus out of our Indigenous communities. There can be no avoiding it. A serious investment in health with a substantial real increase in spending is required.”

To view the AMA’s media release click here.

Sunrise Health Service worker checking heart of patient

Barunga Healthcare worker Desleigh Shields. Image Source: ABC News website.

Diagnosing otitis media with telehealth

Each year 650,000 Australian children suffer from recurrent or chronic ear infections called otitis media (OM). OM can cause permanent hearing loss but is entirely preventable when treated early. Aboriginal children are disproportionately impacted by middle ear disease with OM affecting one in four children in Australia – but one in every two Aboriginal children. The current average wait time of two years for assessment is too long for children who are in crucial key stages of language, behavioural and educational development. Struggling to understand what is happening to them, many may face long-term social or mental health impacts.

Paediatric audiologist Dr Chris Brennan-Jones is committed to finding solutions for ear health – like changing assessment wait times from two years to 10 days. Dr Bennan-Jones is working with an ear health partnership in metro Perth called Djaalinj Waakinj – ‘Listening, Talking’ in Noongar language. In a program that is the first of its kind in Australia Djaalinj Waakinj fuses telehealth technology with support from local Aboriginal health workers to facilitate remote diagnosis of OM.

To view the full article click here.

Dr Chris Brennan-Jones sitting outside with laptop

Dr Chris Brennan-Jones. Image source: Particle website.

Puggy Hunter Memorial Health scholarships

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students studying, or intending to study, entry-level health courses could receive life changing financial assistance to follow their passion thanks to the Puggy Hunter Memorial Scholarship Scheme (PHMSS). The PHMSS is designed to encourage and assist undergraduate students in health-related disciplines to complete their studies and join the health workforce. The Australian Government established the Scheme as a tribute to the late Dr Arnold ‘Puggy’ Hunter’s outstanding contribution to Indigenous Australians’ health and his role and Chair of the NACCHO.

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

Applications for the PHMSS are now open and will close on Sunday 8 November 2020. For more information click here.

portrait of Ashleigh Ryan PHMSS recipient

PHMSS recipient Ashleigh Ryan. Image source: Australian College of Nursing website.

NCCRED Clinical Research Scholarship Program

The National Centre for Clinical Research on Emerging Drugs (NCCRED) has developed a Clinical Research Scholarship Program to build the scope and capacity of clinical research on emerging drugs across the drug and alcohol sector. This is a national program open to clinicians at all levels, anywhere in Australia. NCCRED is opening TWO new competitive rounds which will give financial and research support allowing recipients to conduct a new research project. The rounds will have a focus on the following areas:

  • Practicing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health professionals (clinicians, nurses, allied health workers) in the AOD sector.
  • nursing and allied health professionals preferably practicing alcohol and other drugs nurses and allied health professionals, though applications are open to all clinicians working within the AOD sector.

For more information about the NCCRED scholarship program click here. 

Applications are now open and close on 6 November 2020.

Aboriginal health professional sitting in from of Aboriginal D&A banner

Image source: ABC News website.

National COVID-19 Clinical Evidence Taskforce Communique

You can read the full National COVID-19 Clinical Evidence Taskforce Communique #25 here.

National COVID-19 Clinical Evidence Taskforce logo

Image source: National COVID-19 Clinical Evidence Taskforce website.

COVID-19 transmission in educational settings

Since March 2020, the National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance (NCIRS) has joined forces with the NSW Ministry of Health and NSW Department of Education to investigate COVID-19 cases in schools and early childhood education and care (ECEC) services.

You can view the webinar Learning together – Transmission of SARS-CoV-2 in NSW educational settings covering COVID-19 transmission in NSW educational settings, what the latest data show and how a multi-disciplinary approach has helped people learn together by clicking here.

Nawarddeken Academy school - 14 Aboriginal students sitting at a table

Nawarddeken Academy school. Image source: The Conversation website.

Melbourne workers of concern to Tennant Creek health groups 

Up to 10 gas pipeline workers from a coronavirus hotspot have begun quarantining in a Tennant Creek hotel under a Government-approved plan that Indigenous health groups are demanding be shared with them. The group from Melbourne has also been given permission to leave the hotel under an arrangement organised for maintenance work on Jemena’s Northern Gas Pipeline, which runs from Tennant Creek to Mt Isa. The vast majority of people arriving in the NT from coronavirus hotspots are ordered into a fortnight of supervised quarantine at designated facilities in Darwin or Alice Springs at a cost of $2,500.

Indigenous health groups are concerned the alternative arrangement risks coronavirus spreading to Tennant Creek’s majority Indigenous population and that of nearby communities. Barb Shaw from Anyinginyi Health, the region’s major Indigenous health service, said she had requested to see the company’s COVID-19 management plan early last week but never heard back.

To read the full ABC News story click here.

portrait of Anyinginyi Health CEO Barb Shaw

Anyinginyi Health CEO Barb Shaw. Image source: ABC News.

Keep Our Mob Safe from COVID-19

The latest update on COVID-19 for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander households, communities and organisations is available click here. Things can change quickly so it is important to stay up to date.

Keep Our Mob Safe, Stop The Spread banner

Image source: Australian Government Department of Health.

2021 seasonal influenza preparation required

During 2020 there was a significant demand for seasonal influenza vaccines in light of the evolving COVID-19 pandemic. It is anticipated that this demand is likely to continue and also be evident for future seasons. To this end, the Commonwealth Chief Medical Officer is encouraging key stakeholders to turn their minds to their preparations for next year’s season. To view the Commonwealth Chief Medical Officer’s letter to stakeholders click here.

text flu season syringe inserted in vial

Image source: 1011 Now News website.

PBS changes a win for palliative care

The Australian Medical Association (AMA) welcomes much needed improvements to the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) listings for opioids, which will clarify their important role in alleviating suffering for palliative care patients. AMA President Dr Omar Khorshid said the Association supported important reforms to reduce the inappropriate use of opioids in Australia. Dr Khorshid said the original PBS changes implemented on 1 June 2020 caused significant confusion and concern from prescribers and their patients, unintentionally making prescriber access to opioids more difficult for palliative care patients with a legitimate clinical need. This was particularly difficult for non-cancer palliative care patients.

The AMA has been advocating to the Department of Health and the Therapeutic Goods Administration, providing feedback from AMA members on the 1 June 2020 changes. “The Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee (PBAC) has reflected this feedback in the 1 October 2020 PBS listing changes, so it’s pleasing that the vital advocacy work of the AMA has been heeded,” Dr Khorshid said. “Patients will be exempt from the 12-month pain management review by a second doctor or palliative care nurse practitioner if their clinical condition makes the review not possible. “This is an important change for palliative care patients who may be too unwell for this to occur.”

To view the AMS’s media release click here.

Aboriginal man with arms around Aboriginal woman looking out across river in Australian landscape

Image source: Palliative Care Victoria.

Social enterprise to tackle remote NT food inequities

An urgent food crisis is threatening remote Aboriginal communities across the country, with an estimated 1.2 million Australians unable to regularly access culturally appropriate, safe and nutritious food from a non-emergency source. Kere to Country, a new First Nations-led social enterprise, hopes they can make a difference, starting in Alice Springs/Mparntwe. Kere means ‘food from animals’ in Arrernte.

Three young Indigenous entrepreneurs—Jessica Wishart, 31, Jordan Wishart, 25, and Tommy Hicks, 24 (pictured below) —were inspired to do something about the crisis after visiting Alice Springs/Mparntwe. The trio saw Aboriginal communities couldn’t afford essential products that were necessary to keep their families healthy and safe. “It’s an urgent crisis—one that has been going on for a really long time, but it’s gotten worse since the pandemic,” CEO Jessica Wishart said.

The concept is simple: Kere to Country will provide remote communities with access to meat through bulk purchases or smaller packs. Aiming to eventually expand to all of central Australia, the team will distribute packs to Alice Springs/Mparntwe, both in and out of town, and the Tennant Creek region.

To visit the Kere to Country website click here.

Kere to Country entrepreneurs Jessica Wishart, Jordan Wishart, Tommy Hicks

Kere to Country entrepreneurs Jessica Wishart, Jordan Wishart, Tommy Hicks. Image source: National Indigenous Times.

Palkyu descendent 2020 Australia Mental Health prize finalist

Professor Helen Milroy is one of seven finalists in the running for the 2020 Australia Mental Health prize. The Prize, now in its fifth year, recognises Australians who have made outstanding contributions to the promotion of mental health or the prevention and treatment of mental illness.

Professor Milroy is recognised as the first Indigenous Australian to become a medical doctor, completing medical studies and specialist training in child and adolescent psychiatry. She is passionate about combining Aboriginal and western knowledge systems to improve outcomes. Her work and research in the areas of holistic medicine, child mental health, recovery from trauma and grief, application of Indigenous knowledge, and cultural models of care have made a significant difference to the lives of children and young people, particularly those with a trauma background. Her efforts in developing and supporting the Aboriginal medical workforce and cultural safety in health and mental health through curriculum development, education and training, implementation and evaluation, has had a lasting impact on Aboriginal health and mental health across Australia.

To view the full article about the 2020 Australia Mental Health prize finalists click here.

portrait of Professor Helen Milroy

Professor Helen Milroy. Image source: AusDoc website.

Breast cancer survivor fears many others won’t

Breast cancer is still the most commonly diagnosed cancer in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women, but what’s more concerning is that not a lot of these women survive. It’s a hidden disease that shows no symptoms until it has developed into a lump some time down the track.

Aunty Joy was diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer at the age of 48. She had a single mastectomy and says “I am a survivor and still a sufferer. Around the time of my diagnosis, there were no radiographers where I was. But if I had waited, who knows what the end result would’ve been? I went through the experience alone and it was traumatic, something that I don’t want to see other Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander women go through. Every two weeks I would take myself to chemotherapy, the most grueling and horrible experience with side effects that were harrowing.”

portrait photo of Aunty Joy

Aunty Joy. Image source: MamaMia website.

To read the full article about Aunty Joy’s breast cancer journey click here.

ACT – Canberra

Social Media Communications Coordinator

NACCHO is seeking a Social Media Communication Coordinator to manage and maintain NACCHO’s social media presence and daily blog. The position requires working cohesively with the NACCHO Communications team towards the creation and delivery of social media campaigns and driving key Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health sector new content across channels. To view details of the position click here.

Applications close at 9.00 am Friday 16 October 2020.

AFL Indigenous All Stars coach Michael O'Loughlin with the “Aboriginal Health in Aboriginal Hands” app

AFL Indigenous All Stars coach Michael O’Loughlin with the “Aboriginal Health in Aboriginal Hands” app. Image source: Australian Government NIAA website.

Feature Image - Aboriginal boy head in hands

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Survey to review mental health youth services

Mental health youth services survey

If you work or volunteer with an Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisation or other Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander organisations you are invited to participate in a short headspace online survey and share your views on issues of access, engagement and cultural safety of mental health supports for young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. All participants go into the draw to win a $100 voucher!

To view a survey flyer click here and to access the survey click here.

Young Aboriginal girl crying

Image source: newsinmind.com

NT outreach services improve hearing impairment

Ear and hearing health is vital for overall health and quality of life. Ear disease and associated hearing loss can have long-lasting impacts on education, wellbeing and employment. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children are more likely than non-Indigenous children to experience ear and hearing problems.

An Australian Institute of Health and Welfare report has shown positive results are being achieved by hearing health outreach services provided to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young people in the NT. The report shows that in 2019, 2,156 audiology; 770 ear, nose and throat teleotology; and 1,119 Clinical Nurse Specialist services were provided. Among children and young people who received treatment, 61% had improved hearing loss and 71% had improved hearing impairment.

To access a more detailed summary of the report click here.

Health professional checking ear of Aboriginal boy

Image source: Menzies School of Health Research website.

National cancer screening health worker engagement project

The University of Melbourne is undertaking a project to understand how the primary healthcare workforce engages with the national cancer screening program (bowel, breast and cervical). Findings from the study will lead to the development of materials and initiatives to assist in boosting cancer screening participation.

During the first phase of the project the researchers are interested in interviewing nurses, GPs and Practice Managers to understand more about their role, their go-to-resources when they need more information about the screening programs and resources they would like to have access to.

Everyone that will be interviewed will be reimbursed with a $50 Gift Card. We intend to carry out interviews during the month of September. The interviews will be recorded with your permission.

For information about how to become involved in the project please contact Ebony Verbunt, Research Assistant, University of Melbourne email ebony.verbunt@unimelb.edu.au or phone 0429 928 039.

Aboriginal male & female cartoon figures with ages for breast, bowel, cervical cancer screening tests

Image source: Cancer Council Victoria website.

COVID-19 information to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities survey

Since the coronavirus outbreak began, it has been extremely important to make sure health information about the virus reaches people in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. The Australian Government Department of Health has worked with Indigenous communications agencies to produce a range of communications materials to help share information about the virus and inform communities about how they can stay safe.

You can provide feedback on how effective these campaign materials have been in reaching Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities by taking this survey.

7 Keep Our Mob Safe resource images e.g. posters

Image source: Australian Government Department of Health.

Residential aged care risk assessment urgently required

The AMA has warned urgent improvements in aged care and a coordinated response from all levels of government are needed to prevent the pandemic outbreak in Victorian aged care homes spreading into residential aged care nationwide. The AMA has called for every residential aged care home in Australia to be urgently and comprehensively assessed for its ability to safely care for residents during the COVID-19 pandemic.

To view the AMA’s media release click here.

Elders hands in carer's hand

Image source: Aged Care Guide.

ACT paves way for raising incarceration age

The Australian Capital Territory’s Legislative Assembly has voted to raise the age of criminal responsibility from 10 to 14, paving the way for other jurisdictions to reform an outmoded law which disproportionately affects Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children.

To read the related Amnesty International Australia media release click here.

Aboriginal child's hands on jail barred overlaid with Aboriginal flag.

Image source: Amnesty International Australia.

COVID-19 vaccine will not be compulsory

Health Minister, Greg Hunt has confirmed that although any potential coronavirus vaccine will be strongly encouraged, it will not be made compulsory.

To read a transcript of Minister Hunt’s interview with David Koch on the Sunrise program click here.

QLD – Cairns or ACT – Canberra

PT Cultural Lead x 1 (Identified Position)

CRANAplus, the peak professional body for health professionals working in remote and isolated areas across Australia, has a vacancy for a Cultural Lead. This identified position, available to Aboriginal, First Nations, and Torres Strait Island people, will collaborate closely with internal and external stakeholders to develop and drive priorities supporting CRANAplus’ Organisational Strategic Plan.

You can view the CRANAplus website here and find details of the Cultural Lead position here.

CRANAplus logo & image of 4-wheel drive in outback

ACT – Canberra

FT Flexible Education Classroom Teacher  x 1 (Identified Position) – 6 months with the possibility of permanency

The ACT Education Directorate is seeking a reflective practitioner who: is able to create dynamic learning environments and authentically personalised education programs for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students; has a demonstrated understanding of trauma and neuroscience informed education practices; and is passionate about inclusion, social justice, innovation and equity. Flexible Education is a community of schools/settings for students with complex and challenging needs including Murrumbidgee Education and Training Centre, Muliyan, Boomanulla, the Hospital School, the education program at The Cottage and Distance Education.

For more details about the position click here.

Aboriginal youth and teacher against graffitied wall

Image source: School News Australia.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Childhood immunisation rates reach record high

Childhood immunisation rates reach record high

Australia’s childhood immunisation rates have risen to record levels, according to new immunisation coverage statistics. The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander at five-years immunisation rate continues to improve and is now above the 95% target and higher than for non-Indigenous children. Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations (ACCHOs) have played a significant role in achieving this result.

To read the media release from the Minister for Health, Greg Hunt click here.

Being medicinewise during COVID-19

The poor health status of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population means for most medicines are part of life. Being medicinewise means a person knows all the medicines they take and why; understands the instructions for taking their medicines; checks with their health professional before taking any new medicine; and asks questions if there is anything they don’t understand about their medicines. During the COVID-19 pandemic it is especially important people are medicinewise. The National Prescribing Service (NPS) MedicineWise has a wide range of resources to help individuals, community groups and health services to promote being medicinewise.

To view the NPS MedicineWise website click here.

2 images; Aboriginal finger diabetes finger print blood test & Aboriginal hand holding two sheets of tablets

Images sources: The Medical Journal of Australia & the Australian Medical Student Journal.

Winnunga Nimmityjah AHCS Newsletter

Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health and Community Services (WNAHCS) have released the WNAHCS Newsletter July 2020 edition.

Click here to access the newsletter.Winnunga News banner, 3 WNAHCS staff in gowns, gloves, masks, WNAHCS logo

Closing the Gap prescriptions now possible

Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association (AHHA) Strategic Director Dr Chris Bourke, Australia’s first Aboriginal dentist, says an announcement by the Commonwealth Department of Health that hospital doctors will be permitted to write Closing the Gap prescriptions is long overdue. “It will be a welcome support for many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients, often hundreds of kilometres from home and their usual GP, to be able to get the medicines they need when discharged from hospital. The risks of medical conditions relapsing, and the need for readmission to hospital, will certainly be reduced by this much needed change.”

For further information regarding this reform click here.

doctor's hands writing a prescription

Image source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: New funding for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled sector to close the gap

 

New funding for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled sector to close the gap

NACCHO welcomes a joint funding pool being established by Australian governments to strengthen the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled sector to deliver vital services to communities and help deliver on the commitments of Priority Reform Two under the new National Agreement on Closing the Gap.

The Commonwealth Government has announced an initial contribution of $46.5 million over four years, with the Victorian Government adding an additional $3.3 million.

This funding comes on the heels of the unveiling of the new National Agreement on Closing the Gap which was signed last week.

Lead Convener of the Coalition of Peaks, Pat Turner AM, said that the Coalition of Peaks welcomes the leadership of Ken Wyatt, the Commonwealth’s Indigenous Australians Minister, in establishing the fund.

“The Coalition of Peaks fought hard to put Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled organisations at the centre of the new National Agreement on Closing the Gap. They deliver better services for our people, get better outcomes, protect our cultures and employ more First Nations people in their home communities,” Ms Turner said.

“This new funding for the initial delivery of Priority Reform Two will help strengthen and build the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled sector to deliver additional services to First Nations people, including in new areas like housing and early childhood.” Ms Turner said.

“The joint funding pool complements the commitments in the National Agreement on Priority Reform Two which will also bring additional funding to community-controlled organisations over time and provide more jobs for First Nations people.”  Ms Turner said.

To read the full media release click here.

To view the full new National Agreement on Closing the Gap click here.

 

Culturally safe cancer care guide released

Cancer Australia recently released A guide to implementing the Optimal Care Pathway for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with cancer (the Guide), a companion guide to the Optimal Care Pathway for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with cancer (OCP).

The Guide is designed to support health services and clinicians in the planning and delivery of culturally safe and responsive cancer care. Using the OCP as the foundation for best practice, the Guide contains priorities for consideration at a system level, practical strategies to help health services plan for improvement and guidance for health professionals to consider in relation to their own practice.

Click here to view the Guide.

 

ATAGI Secretariat EOI request

The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) Secretariat recently published a request for Expressions of Interest (EOI) to fill a vacant role on the ATAGI, to provide expertise with respect to the delivery of health services to and for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, commencing 31 August 2020.

The EOI deadline for this Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Representative member role on the ATAGI has been extended – EOIs must now be received by midnight 12 pm 6 August 2020.

EOIs can be submitted to ATAGI.Secretariat@health.gov.au

For more information on the role click here.

Syringe drawing from a vial

Source credit: AMA Website.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health #WorldHepatitisDay News Alerts : #LetsTalkHep editorial contributions from @NACCHOChair Donnella Mills, Dr Jason Agostino , Dr Mark Wenitong , Troy Combo : Plus link todays @HepAus event

“We are so proud of the work done by our members and affiliates in preventing the spread of COVID-19, but we cannot lose sight of the need to reduce our viral hepatitis rates.

We are concerned about the harm caused to our communities from the spread of Hepatitis B and C and I encourage our people to get vaccinated and continue ongoing treatments.

Keep in touch with your local Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations.”

NACCHO Chair Donnella Mills

The National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) is spreading the message to all Australians that while the rates of hepatitis in Australia are declining, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are being left behind.

Read / Download full NACCHO World Hepatitis Day press releases HERE .

“Great work has been done in improving immunisation rates against Hepatitis B and on treatment for Hepatitis C, yet the prevalence of viral hepatitis and subsequent liver damage remains high amongst Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

What is particularly concerning are rates of viral hepatitis in remote and very remote communities are five times higher compared to metropolitan areas.

In the COVID-19 environment, we want to urge everyone to continue their regular health care. This involves getting childhood immunisations and for those on treatment for Hepatitis, don’t change or stop treatments unless advised to do so by your treating doctor.”

NACCHO Medical Adviser, Dr Jason Agostino

“At Apunipima we provide screenings for Hepatitis in our clinics and work closely with prison screening programs to help control the disease being transmitted within communities when prisoners are released.

Hepatitis in our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities is a preventable disease, but with both short-term and potentially chronic implications, Hepatitis has a significant impact on our mob’s health.

We need to work together to ensure we practice prevention in our communities, but also that we get tested, detect the disease early and have access to best practice treatment and management.”

The Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (ACCHO), Apunipima Cape York Health Council’s Public Health Medical Officer, Dr Mark Wenitong

” In recognition of the inequitable burden of hepatitis C amongst Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, EC Australia has developed an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples Strategy (The Strategy) that will inform and guide the activities of EC Australia.

The Strategy will cut across the four key components of EC Australia: health promotion, workforce development and health services delivery, implementation research and evaluation and surveillance.

This will ensure a holistic and comprehensive approach to accessible and culturally appropriate hepatitis C care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.”

Troy Combo EC Australia as the Program Manager for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan see Part 1 below

 ” Leading organisations unite to discuss COVID-19 impact on hepatitis C elimination in Australia on World Hepatitis Day

Australia’s leading drug and infectious disease organisations will join forces to call for a re-engagement in elimination of hepatitis C in an online event on World Hepatitis Day, Tuesday, 28 July 2020. “

See Part 2 Below for link todays event 

Part 1 EC Australia, Partnering to Eliminate Hepatitis C

Firstly, I would like to introduce myself, Troy Combo, I have a joint appointment with the Burnet Institute and am employed and based at University of Queensland, School of Public Health and have recently been appointed as the Aboriginal Program Manager for EC Australia.

I have worked in the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health sector since completing my Diploma in Aboriginal Health at Redfern AMS in 1994. I have held positions with local AMS’s, State Affiliates (AH&MRC & QAIHC) and I have also worked for NACCHO (2013-2014). More recently I was employed at Bulgarr Ngaru Medical Aboriginal Corporation (2015-2020).

Australia can be one of the first countries to achieve the World Health Organization’s target of eliminating hepatitis C as a public health threat by 2030.

In 2016 an estimated 188,951 Australians were living with the hepatitis C virus resulting in up to 630 deaths from liver cancer and liver failure each year. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people experience a disproportionate burden of hepatitis C and account for 10% of all people living with the virus in Australia.

As a priority population in our own right, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are also overrepresented amongst people in custodial settings, people who currently inject drugs or previously injected drugs and people accessing drug treatment programs; all of which increases a person’s risk of contracting hepatitis C.

In 2017 notification rates for hepatitis C were 4.4 times higher than non-Indigenous Australians (168.1 per 100 000 vs 38.4 per 100 00) and the rates for newly acquired (evidence of acquisition in the prior 24 months) hepatitis C was 13.7 times that of non-Indigenous Australians (24.6 v 1.8 per 100 00 respectively).

In 2016, direct-acting antiviral (DAA) medication was made available on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) to most people living with hepatitis C, regardless of disease stage. DAAs have revolutionised hepatitis C care making elimination of hepatitis C possible; they are highly effective with efficacy rates over 95%, have minimal side effects, and require only 8-12 weeks of once-daily tablets. While initial uptake of DAAs was positive, by 2018 the number of people commencing treatment started to fall. If Australia is to achieve its elimination targets, it is crucial that testing remains high and that DAA treatments are provided to people with hepatitis C to cure people of hepatitis C and prevent further transmission.

Eliminate Hepatitis C Australia

Eliminate Hepatitis C Australia (EC Australia) is a nationwide, multidisciplinary project with the aim to achieve a coordinated response to eliminate hepatitis C as a public health threat by 2030. The project brings together researchers and implementation scientists, government, health services and community organisations, peak and other non-government organisations to increase hepatitis C testing and treatment in community clinics.

The specific goals of EC Australia are to:

  • Ensure that 15,000 Australians with chronic hepatitis C are treated and cured
  • Ensure that people identified with cirrhosis related to hepatitis C infection are treated and cured, and regularly reviewed to monitor for liver
  • Establish a national collaborative framework to facilitate a coordinated response to the elimination of hepatitis C as a public health threat from

In recognition of the inequitable burden of hepatitis C amongst Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, EC Australia has developed an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples Strategy (The Strategy) that will inform and guide the activities of EC Australia. The Strategy will cut across the four key components of EC Australia: health promotion, workforce development and health services delivery, implementation research and evaluation and surveillance. This will ensure a holistic and comprehensive approach to accessible and culturally appropriate hepatitis C care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

My experience working within the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health sector has shown how the model of care provided by these services is well suited to take up the challenge of the EC Australia goals. At EC Australia, we believe the “test and treat” model required to increase treatment uptake for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people is an achievable goal at a local service delivery level.

We will be convening an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Leadership Group in late 2020 that will provide expert advice and cultural governance for all EC activities as part of the Strategy. Our aim is to build strong networks and work closely with the viral hepatitis and the Aboriginal Community Control Health sectors. We seek to build on successful models of care and workforce development programs within these sectors, to expand and inform other areas.

Over the coming weeks we will be contacting organisations to participate in a mapping of current and/or past hepatitis C health promotion, workforce development and service delivery activities.

If your organisation would like to participate or learn more about the EC Australia Partnership and Aboriginal and Torres Islander Peoples Strategy you can contact Troy Combo at t.combo@uq.edu.au or by phone on (07) 3346 4617.

For more information please visit the below link:

https://www.burnet.edu.au/projects/410_eliminate_hepatitis_c_australia_partnership_ec_australia

 Part 2 Leading organisations unite to discuss COVID-19 impact on hepatitis C elimination in Australia on World Hepatitis Day

Australia’s leading drug and infectious disease organisations will join forces to call for a re-engagement in elimination of hepatitis C in an online event on World Hepatitis Day, Tuesday, 28 July 2020.

Australia is on track to become one of the first countries to eliminate hepatitis C, which is part of the global goal from the World Health Organisation (WHO) to eliminate hepatitis C as a public health threat by 2030.

However, the COVID-19 pandemic and related social isolation has impacted drug use, drug and hepatitis C treatment services, and the health of people who use drugs. This puts an increased risk on new hepatitis transmission, access to treatment, and the elimination goals for 2030.

The Australian Injecting and Illicit Drug Users League (AIVL), Hepatitis Australia, the Australasian Professional Society on Alcohol & other Drugs (APSAD), the Kirby Institute and National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre (NDARC) at UNSW Sydney, have partnered to address what COVID-19 will mean for hepatitis C elimination in Australia.

CEO of Hepatitis Australia, Carrie Fowlie said, “Hepatitis C is a blood borne virus and people who inject drugs are a crucial priority population.”

“Not only is there a risk that the WHO 2030 elimination goal could be set back, but more immediate negative impacts could be experienced by people at risk of contracting hepatitis or seeking hepatitis treatment in Australia due to current and future social, health, and policy changes.”

CEO of AIVL, Melanie Walker said some of the new regulations and social requirements are impossible for people who use drugs to abide by.

“People who use drugs need to attend needle and syringe programs (NSPs) and be able to have ongoing access to the full range of harm reduction, pharmacotherapy and other drug and hepatitis treatments,” said Ms Walker.

“If people who use drugs cannot access these services, we could see an increase in sharing of injecting equipment, which could lead to increased cases of hepatitis C and compound the negative health outcomes already experienced by this group.”

In the newly released National Drug Strategy Household Survey 2019, illicit drug use was responsible for 75 percent of Australia’s acute hepatitis C burden of disease.

Professor Greg Dore, Head of Viral Hepatitis Clinical Research Program at the Kirby Institute, UNSW Sydney, said there had been encouraging recent data from the Australian Needle Syringe Program Survey on prevalence of active hepatitis C infection in people who inject drugs which had declined from 51 percent to 18 percent between 2015 and 2019.

“However, despite these declines in number of people with hepatitis C, continued declines in numbers being treated through 2019 and into 2020 compromises the achievement of WHO elimination goals,” said Professor Dore.

“More strategies are needed to raise awareness of the need for testing and availability of new hepatitis C treatments to eliminate hepatitis C by 2030.”

In a new NDARC study of 702 people who used drugs during COVID-19 restrictions and lockdown, it was found only 24 percent were able to avoid sharing drug injecting equipment.

Professor Michael Farrell, Director of NDARC, UNSW Sydney, said the research shows that people who use drugs want to limit their risk of contracting viral diseases like COVID-19 and hepatitis C, but this can be challenging due to a range of factors.

“We need to continue to find solutions that support people who use drugs to ensure hepatitis C elimination remains a priority.”

About the online event

Facilitated by health reporter Dr Norman Swan, this event brings together affected communities, doctors, scientists, health and community workers, researchers and the public to discuss the immense challenges COVID-19 brings to hepatitis C elimination and the health of people who use drugs, and to discuss strategies to ensure Australia stays on track to become one of the first countries in the world to eliminate hepatitis C.

Date: Tuesday, 28 July 2020

Time: 12:30pm – 2:30pm

Book here.

Speakers

  • Jude Byrne, National Project Coordinator, Australian Injecting and Illicit Drug Users League
  • Sione Crawford, Chief Executive Officer, Harm Reduction Victoria
  • Greg Dore, Head, Viral Hepatitis Clinical Research Program, Kirby Institute, UNSW Sydney
  • Carrie Fowlie, Chief Executive Officer, Hepatitis Australia
  • Jules Kim, Chief Executive Officer, Scarlet Alliance, Australian Sex Workers Association
  • Andrew Lloyd, Head, Viral Immunology Systems Program, Kirby Institute, UNSW Sydney
  • Stuart Manoj-Margison, Director, BBV, STI and Torres Strait Health Policy Section, Australian Government Department of Health
  • Amy Peacock, Senior Research Fellow, National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre, UNSW Sydney
  • Melanie Walker, CEO, Australian Injecting and Illicit Drug Users League
  • Michael Farrell, Director, The National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre (NDARC), UNSW Sydney

NACCHO Aboriginal Health Research Alert : @HealthInfoNet releases Summary of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health status 2019 social and cultural determinants, chronic conditions, health behaviours, environmental health , alcohol and other drugs

The Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet has released the Summary of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health status 2019

This new plain language publication provides information for a wider (non-academic) audience and incorporates many visual elements.

The Summary is useful for health workers and those studying in the field as a quick source of general information. It provides key information regarding the health status of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people across the following topics:

  • social and cultural determinants
  • chronic conditions
  • health behaviours
  • environmental health
  • alcohol and other drugs.

The Summary is based on HealthInfoNet‘s comprehensive publication Overview of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health status 2019. It presents statistical information from the Overview in a visual format that is quick and easy for users to digest.

The Summary is available online and in hardcopy format. Please contact HealthInfoNet by email if you wish to order a hardcopy of this Summary. Other reviews and plain language summaries are available here.

Here are the key facts

Please note in an earlier version sent out 7.00 am June 15 a computer error dropped off the last word in many sentences : these are new fixed 

Key facts

Population

  • In 2019, the estimated Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population was 847,190.
  • In 2019, NSW had the highest number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people (the estimated population was 281,107 people, 33% of the total Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population).
  • In 2019, NT had the highest proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in its population, with 32% of the NT population identifying as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islanders
  • In 2016, around 37% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people lived in major cities
  • The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population is much younger than the non-Indigenous population.

Births and pregnancy outcomes

  • In 2018, there were 21,928 births registered in Australia with one or both parents identified as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander (7% of all births registered).
  • In 2018, the median age for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mothers was 26.0 years.
  • In 2018, total fertility rates were 2,371 births per 1,000 for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women.
  • In 2017, the average birthweight of babies born to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mothers was 3,202 grams
  • The proportion of low birthweight babies born to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mothers between 2007 and 2017 remained steady at around 13%.

Mortality

  • For 2018, the age-standardised death rate for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in NSW, Qld, WA, SA and the NT was 1 per 1,000.
  • Between 1998 and 2015, there was a 15% reduction in the death rates for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in NSW, Qld, WA, SA and the NT.
  • For Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people born 2015-2017, life expectancy was estimated to be 6 years for males and 75.6 years for females, around 8-9 years less than the estimates for non-Indigenous males and females.
  • In 2018, the median age at death for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in NSW, Qld, WA, SA and the NT was 2 years; this was an increase from 55.8 years in 2008.
  • Between 1998 and 2015, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander infant mortality rate has more than halved (from 5 to 6.3 per 1,000).
  • In 2018, the leading causes of death among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in NSW, Qld, WA, SA and the NT were ischaemic heart disease (IHD), diabetes, chronic lower respiratory diseases and lung and related cancers.
  • For 2012-2017 the maternal mortality ratio for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women was 27 deaths per 100,000 women who gave birth.
  • For 1998-2015, in NSW, Qld, WA, SA and the NT there was a 32% decline in the death rate from avoidable causes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 0-74 years

Hospitalisation

  • In 2017-18, 9% of all hospital separations were for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
  • In 2017-18, the age-adjusted separation rate for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people was 2.6 times higher than for non-Indigenous people.
  • In 2017-18, the main cause of hospitalisation for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people was for ‘factors influencing health status and contact with health services’ (mostly for care involving dialysis), responsible for 49% of all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander seperations.
  • In 2017-18, the age-standardised rate of overall potentially preventable hospitalisations for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people was 80 per 1,000 (38 per 1,000 for chronic conditions and 13 per 1,000 for vaccine-preventable conditions).

Selected health conditions

Cardiovascular health

  • In 2018-19, around 15% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people reported having cardiovascular disease (CVD).
  • In 2018-19, nearly one quarter (23%) of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults were found to have high blood pressure.
  • For 2013-2017, in Qld, WA, SA and the NT combined, there were 1,043 new rheumatic heart disease diagnoses among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, a crude rate of 50 per 100,000.
  • In 2017-18, there 14,945 hospital separations for CVD among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, representing 5.4% of all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander hospital separations (excluding dialysis).
  • In 2018, ischaemic heart disease (IHD) was the leading specific cause of death of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in NSW, Qld, WA, SA and the NT

Cancer

  • In 2018-19, 1% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people reported having cancer (males 1.2%, females 1.1%).
  • For 2010-2014, the most common cancers diagnosed among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in NSW, Vic, Qld, WA and the NT were lung cancer and breast (females) cancer.
  • Survival rates indicate that of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in NSW, Vic, Qld, WA, and the NT who were diagnosed with cancer between 2007 and 2014, 50% had a chance of surviving five years after diagnosis
  • In 2016-17, there 8,447 hospital separations for neoplasms2 among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people
  • For 2013-2017, the age-standardised mortality rate due to cancer of any type was 238 per 100,000, an increase of 5% when compared with a rate of 227 per 100,000 in 2010-2014.

Diabetes

  • In 2018-19, 8% of Aboriginal people and 7.9% of Torres Strait Islander people reported having diabetes.
  • In 2015-16, there were around 2,300 hospitalisations with a principal diagnosis of type 2 diabetes among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people
  • In 2018, diabetes was the second leading cause of death for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
  • The death rate for diabetes decreased by 0% between 2009-2013 and 2014-2018.
  • Some data sources use term ‘neoplasm’ to describe conditions associated with abnormal growth of new tissue, commonly referred to as a Neoplasms can be benign (not cancerous) or malignant (cancerous) [1].

Social and emotional wellbeing

  • In 2018-19, 31% of Aboriginal and 23% of Torres Strait Islander respondents aged 18 years and over reported high or very high levels of psychological distress
  • In 2014-15, 68% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15 years and over and 67% of children aged 4-14 years experienced at least one significant stressor in the previous 12 months
  • In 2012-13, 91% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people reported on feelings of calmness and peacefulness, happiness, fullness of life and energy either some, most, or all of the time.
  • In 2014-15, more than half of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15 years and over reported an overall life satisfaction rating of at least 8 out of 10.
  • In 2018-19, 25% of Aboriginal and 17% of Torres Strait Islander people, aged two years and over, reported having a mental and/or behavioural conditions
  • In 2018-19, anxiety was the most common mental or behavioural condition reported (17%), followed by depression (13%).
  • In 2017-18, there were 21,940 hospital separations with a principal diagnosis of International Classification of Diseases (ICD) ‘mental and behavioural disorders’ identified as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander
  • In 2018, 169 (129 males and 40 females) Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in NSW, Qld, WA, SA, and the NT died from intentional self-harm (suicide).
  • Between 2009-2013 and 2014-2018, the NT was the only jurisdiction to record a decrease in intentional self-harm (suicide) death rates.

Kidney health

  • In 2018-19, 8% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people (Aboriginal people 1.9%; Torres Strait Islander people 0.4%) reported kidney disease as a long-term health condition.
  • For 2014-2018, after age-adjustment, the notification rate of end-stage renal disease was 3 times higher for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people than for non-Indigenous people.
  • In 2017-18, ‘care involving dialysis’ was the most common reason for hospitalisation among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
  • In 2018, 310 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people commenced dialysis and 49 were the recipients of new kidneys.
  • For 2013-2017, the age-adjusted death rate from kidney disease was 21 per 100,000 (NT: 47 per 100,000; WA: 38 per 100,000) for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in NSW, Qld, WA, SA and NT
  • In 2018, the most common causes of death among the 217 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who were receiving dialysis was CVD (64 deaths) and withdrawal from treatment (51 deaths).

Injury, including family violence

  • In 2012-13, 5% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people reported having a long-term condition caused by injury.
  • In 2018-19, 16% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15 years and over had experienced physical harm or threatened physical harm at least once in the last 12 months.
  • In 2016-17, the rate of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander hospitalised injury was higher for males (44 per 1,000) than females (39 per 1,000).
  • In 2017-18, 20% of injury-related hospitalisations among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people were for assault.
  • In 2018, intentional self-harm was the leading specific cause of injury deaths for NSW, Qld, SA, WA, and NT (5.3% of all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander deaths).

Respiratory health

  • In 2018-19, 29% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people reported having a long-term respiratory condition .
  • In 2018-19, 16% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people reported having asthma.
  • In 2014-15, crude hospitalisation rates were highest for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people presenting with influenza and pneumonia (7.4 per 1,000), followed by COPD (5.3 per 1,000), acute upper respiratory infections (3.8 per 1,000) and asthma (2.9 per 1,000).
  • In 2018, chronic lower respiratory disease was the third highest cause of death overall for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in NSW, Qld, WA, SA and the NT

Eye health

  • In 2018-19, eye and sight problems were reported by 38% of Aboriginal people and 40% of Torres Strait Islander people.
  • In 2018-19, eye and sight problems were reported by 32% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander males and by 43% of females.
  • In 2018-19, the most common eye conditions reported by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders were hyperopia (long sightedness: 22%), myopia (short sightedness: 16%), other diseases of the eye and adnexa (8.7%), cataract (1.4%), blindness (0.9%) and glaucoma (0.5%).
  • In 2014-15, 13% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, aged 4-14 years, were reported to have eye or sight problems.
  • In 2018, 144 cases of trachoma were detected among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children living in at-risk communities in Qld, WA, SA and the NT
  • For 2015-17, 62% of hospitalisations for diseases of the eye (8,274) among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people were for disorders of the lens (5,092) (mainly cataracts).

Ear health and hearing

  • In 2018-19, 14% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people reported having a long-term ear and/or hearing problem
  • In 2018-19, among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children aged 0-14 years, the prevalence of otitis media (OM) was 6% and of partial or complete deafness was 3.8%.
  • In 2017-18, the age-adjusted hospitalisation rate for ear conditions for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people was 1 per 1,000 population.

Oral health

  • In 2014-15, the proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children aged 4-14 years with reported tooth or gum problems was 34%, a decrease from 39% in 2008.
  • In 2012-2014, 61% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children aged 5-10 years had experienced tooth decay in their baby teeth, and 36% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children aged 6-14 years had experienced tooth decay in their permanent teeth.
  • In 2016-17, there were 3,418 potentially preventable hospitalisations for dental conditions for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander The age-standardised rate of hospitalisation was 4.6 per 1,000.

Disability

  • In 2018-19, 27% of Aboriginal and 24% of Torres Strait Islander people reported having a disability or restrictive long-term health
  • In 2018-19, 2% of Aboriginal and 8.3% of Torres Strait Islander people reported a profound or severe core activity limitation.
  • In 2016, 7% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with a profound or severe disability reported a need for assistance.
  • In 2017-18, 9% of disability service users were Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, with most aged under 50 years (82%).
  • In 2017-18, the primary disability groups accessing services were Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with a psychiatric condition (24%), intellectual disability (23%) and physical disability (20%).
  • In 2017-18, 2,524 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander National Disability Agreement service users transitioned to the National Disability Insurance Scheme.

Communicable diseases

  • In 2017, there were 7,015 notifications for chlamydia for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, accounting for 7% of the notifications in Australia
  • During 2013-2017, there was a 9% and 9.8% decline in chlamydia notification rates among males and females (respectively).
  • In 2017, there were 4,119 gonorrhoea notifications for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, accounting for 15% of the notifications in Australia.
  • In 2017, there were 779 syphilis notifications for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people accounting for 18% of the notifications in Australia.
  • In 2017, Qld (45%) and the NT (35%) accounted for 80% of the syphilis notifications from all jurisdictions.
  • In 2018, there were 34 cases of newly diagnosed human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Australia .
  • In 2017, there were 1,201 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people diagnosed with hepatitis C (HCV) in Australia
  • In 2017, there were 151 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people diagnosed with hepatitis B (HBV) in Australia
  • For 2013-2017 there was a 37% decline in the HBV notification rates for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
  • For 2011-2015, 1,152 (14%) of the 8,316 cases of invasive pneumococcal disease (IPD) were identified as Aboriginal and Torres Strait people .
  • For 2011-2015, there were 26 deaths attributed to IPD with 11 of the 26 deaths (42%) in the 50 years and over age-group.
  • For 2011-2015, 101 (10%) of the 966 notified cases of meningococcal disease were identified as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people
  • For 2006-2015, the incidence rate of meningococcal serogroup B was 8 per 100,000, with the age- specific rate highest in infants less than 12 months of age (33 per 100,000).
  • In 2015, of the 1,255 notifications of TB in Australia, 27 (2.2%) were identified as Aboriginal and seven (0.6%) as Torres Strait Islander people
  • For 2011-2015, there were 16 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people diagnosed with invasive Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) in Australia
  • Between 2007-2010 and 2011-2015 notification rates for Hib decreased by around 67%.
  • In 2018-19, the proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people reporting a disease of the skin and subcutaneous tissue was 2% (males 2.4% and females 4.0%).

Aboriginal Health #CoronaVirus News Alert No 49 : April 29 #KeepOurMobSafe #OurJobProtectOurMob : This #WorldImmunisationWeek #VaccinesWork providing greater protections for our mob to minimise the possibility that they could contract both #influenza and #COVID19.

” World Immunization Week – celebrated this week April (24 to 30 April) – aims to promote the use of vaccines to protect people of all ages against disease. Immunization saves millions of lives every year and is widely recognized as one of the world’s most successful and cost-effective health interventions

Yet, there are still nearly 20 million children in the world today who are not getting the vaccines they need.

The theme this year is #VaccinesWork for All and the campaign will focus on how vaccines – and the people who develop, deliver and receive them – are heroes by working to protect the health of everyone, everywhere.

2020 campaign objectives

The main goal of the campaign is to urge greater engagement around immunization globally and the importance of vaccination in improving health and wellbeing of everyone, everywhere throughout life.

As part of the 2020 campaign, WHO and partners aim to:

  • Demonstrate the value of vaccines for the health of children, communities and the world.
  • Show how routine immunization is the foundation for strong, resilient health systems and universal health coverage.
  • Highlight the need to build on immunization progress while addressing gaps, including through increased investment in vaccines and immunization.

“Getting the flu vaccine early will help alleviate pressure on the health system. With many of our health resources focused on saving lives and treating those with COVID-19, we need to reduce the number of presentations for influenza.

We also need to provide greater protections for vulnerable people to minimise the possibility that they could contract both influenza and COVID-19.

The best and safest place to get the flu vaccine is from your GP at your local ACCHO or general practice.”

AMA President, Dr Tony Bartone,  reiterated the AMA recommendation that people should get their seasonal flu vaccination somewhat earlier this year to help provide greater individual and community health protection throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

Read full AMA Press Release

Protect your mob and get vaccinated says QAIHC
This World Immunisation Week is an important reminder to ensure that you are up to date with all of your vaccinations.
These includes but is not limited to:
• Hepatitis A
• Pneumococcal disease
• Varicella zoster
• Pertussis.
Make sure you also book in to get your yearly flu vaccination!
Contact your local health service for more information.

About vaccines for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are able to get extra immunisations for free through the National Immunisation Program (NIP) to protect you against serious diseases.

These extra immunisations are in addition to all the other routine vaccinations offered throughout life (childrenadultsseniorspregnancy).

Children aged 5 years old or under

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children aged 5 years or under should receive all routine vaccines under the NIP. You can see a list of these vaccines on the Immunisation for children page.

The Australian Government recommends that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children aged 5 years or under have the following additional vaccines.

Pneumococcal disease

An additional booster dose of pneumococcal vaccine is recommended and free for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children aged 6 months who live in:

  • Queensland
  • Northern Territory
  • Western Australia
  • South Australia.

Visit the Pneumococcal immunisation service page for information on receiving the pneumococcal vaccine.

Hepatitis A

Two doses of the hepatitis A vaccine are given 6 months apart. These doses should be given from 12 months of age for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children living in:

  • Queensland
  • Northern Territory
  • Western Australia
  • South Australia.

The age that both the hepatitis A and pneumococcal vaccines are given varies among the 4 states and territories. Speak to your state or territory health service for more information.

Visit the Hepatitis A immunisation service page for information on receiving the hepatitis A vaccine.

Influenza

The influenza vaccine is free for all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 6 months and over through the NIP.

Visit the influenza immunisation service page for information on receiving the influenza vaccine.

Children aged 5 to 9 years old

Influenza

The influenza vaccine is free for all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 6 months and over through the NIP.

Visit the influenza immunisation service page for information on receiving the influenza vaccine.

Catch-up vaccines

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children aged 5 to 9 years should receive any missed routine childhood vaccinations. Catch-up vaccines are free through the NIP. See the NIP Schedule for more information.

Children aged 10 to 15 years

Influenza

The influenza vaccine is free for all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 6 months and over through the NIP.

Visit the influenza immunisation service page for information on receiving the influenza vaccine.

Catch-up vaccines

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 10 to 15 years old should receive any missed routine childhood vaccinations. Catch-up vaccines are free through the NIP. See the NIP Schedule for more information.

Other vaccines

All children should receive routine vaccines for children aged 10 to 15 years old. These are HPV (human papillomavirus) and diphtheria, tetanus and whooping cough (pertussis), meningococcal ACWY vaccines given through school immunisation programs.

People aged 15 to 49 years old

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15 to 19 years old should receive any missed routine childhood vaccinations. Catch-up vaccines are free through the NIP. See the NIP Schedule for more information.

Influenza

The influenza vaccine is free for all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 6 months and over through the NIP.

Visit the influenza immunisation service page for information on receiving the influenza vaccine.

Pneumococcal disease

Pneumococcal vaccines are free for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15 to 49 years old who are at high risk of severe pneumococcal disease.

Visit the Pneumococcal immunisation service page for information on receiving the pneumococcal vaccine.

People aged 50 years old or more

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 50 years old or more should receive any missed routine childhood vaccinations. Catch-up vaccines are free through the NIP. See the NIP Schedule for more information.

Pneumococcal disease

Pneumococcal vaccines are free for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 50 years old or over.

Visit the Pneumococcal immunisation service page for information on receiving the pneumococcal vaccine.

Influenza

The influenza vaccine is free for all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 6 months and over through the NIP.

Visit the influenza immunisation service page for information on receiving the influenza vaccine.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health #COVID19 #CoronaVirus and #Influenza @NSWHealth and @ahmrc hosting webinar on what ACCHO’s can do to protect our communities.

We know ATSI people bore the brunt of the flu pandemic in 2009 and had largely been overlooked in planning undertaken to that point.

We are hopeful that the lessons have been learnt and that ATSI people are not only engaged in the planning but also in the governance/decision making on appropriate and proportionate responses to COVID-19.”

Menzies School of Health Research epidemiologist Andrew Ross said Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians needed to be involved in outbreak response planning.

A spokeswoman for National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation said all its members and affiliates were “being provided with all the latest available information” and holding regular meetings.

From the Australian 3 March : See full report Part 2 Below

Part 1 :NSW Health and the AH&MRC will be hosting a webinar this Wednesday 4th March 2020 from 12-1pm.

This webinar will focus on coronavirus and influenza and what you and your service can do to protect your communities.

The following people will be speaking and there will be an opportunity to raise and discuss concerns and needs that you have:

  • Reuben Robinson, CEO, Galambila Aboriginal Health Service
  • Dr Kerry Chant, Chief Health Officer, NSW Health
  • Kylie Taylor and Kristy Crooks, Hunter New England Public Health team

The link to participate in the webinar is here:

 https://www.thestreamingguys.com.au/production/nsw-health-040320/

For further information please contact Megan Campbell, Centre for Aboriginal Health on megan.campbell2@health.nsw.gov.au

Read previous NACCHO Aboriginal Health and Corona Virus articles here

Part 2 : Fears are growing that Indigenous people who “bore the brunt” of the 2009 swine flu pandemic could be hit again if novel coronavirus spreads uncontrollably in Australia.

Research published in the wake of the 2009 A(H1N1) swine flu outbreak showed that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people made up 11 per cent of all identified cases, 20 per cent of hospitalisations and 13 per cent of deaths, despite being just 3 per cent of the population. ATSI people were 8.5 times more likely to be hospitalised.

Although there have been no known cases of COVID-19 among the indigenous community to date, Australia on Monday recorded its first person-to-person transmission. Indigenous people and remote community residents have been designated high-risk due to their generally poorer health and greater disadvantage compared to mainstream Australians.

Scott McConnell, an independent MLA representing a vast seat stretching from near Alice Springs to the Top End coastline, said he had been inundated with calls from constituents worried about the potentially-deadly virus striking their families.

“They are really concerned about what they are hearing in the media, and they are concerned that they are not hearing from the government or indeed the community-controlled health sector,” Mr McConnell said.

“These are places where everyone goes to the same store and shares bathrooms, and there are poor levels of hygiene anyway. Everyone is concerned that if coronavirus does get into their communities, they don’t know what to do.”

The majority of indigenous Australians live in coastal regions, often within reach of major hospitals. However, the most disadvantaged people usually inhabit remote communities spread throughout northern and inland areas of the continent.

The federal government’s COVID-19 response plan talks about tailoring strategies to help at-risk groups, including indigenous people and remote community residents but gives little detail about what those strategies might be.

Research on the swine flu pandemic published in 2015 called for ATSI people to be “prioritised” in future planning.

Queensland’s chief health officer Jeannette Young said people in her state could “feel confident that local health authorities are leaving no stone unturned in keeping them safe from novel coronavirus”.

She did not respond to questions about what if anything was being done to prepare and protect the indigenous community in particular.

Northern Territory Health Minister Natasha Fyles said her government was “paying particular attention to vulnerable Territorians such as those in remote communities due to the high levels of chronic illness” but did not explain how.

A spokeswoman for WA Health Minister Roger Crook did not answer to questions, nor did another for the federal Health Department.

A spokeswoman for National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation said all its members and affiliates were “being provided with all the latest available information” and holding regular meetings.