NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Mob left out of record low unemployment

Mob left out of record low unemployment

The National Employment Services Association (NESA) says First Nations people and other disadvantaged Australians are being left out of record low unemployment figures. Last week the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) data reported unemployment remained at a record low 3.9% in May.

But NESA principal policy advisor Annette Gill said the real numbers were much higher. “They focus so narrowly on the official unemployment rate to talk about how well our labour market is doing,” she said. “And that’s a choice the politicians have, basically. It’s not something many Australians actually understand. (The employment) rate among Indigenous Australians is considerably lower than it is for the rest of the population.”

NESA senior policy advisor Alicia Weiderman said many First Nations people had historically been excluded from statistical analysis such as employment figures. “What we still know, though, at the high level on the data, as it is reported, is that historically Aboriginal Torres Strait Islander peoples unemployment rates have sat fairly consistently at three times that of their non Indigenous counterparts,” she said.

To view the National Indigenous Times article Industry peak body calls out Indigenous exclusion in latest unemployment rates in full click here.

Mawarnkarra CEO’s 30+ years of service

Mawarnkarra Health Service CEO and local Roebourne woman Joan Hicks is a familiar face and much respected community leader in our community. She started as a trainee health worker in 1990 when concern for the health of a family member took Joan to the old clinic on Crawford Way to talk to the registered nurse who encouraged her to apply for the role. Joan has been part of Mawarnkarra Health Service for 32 years. Joan worked as a health worker in the old Aboriginal Corporation from 1990–2000, before joining the MHS Board in 2000 and eventually becoming the chair of the board and, later, the CEO.

Joan has watched MHS grow from a small clinic with one registered nurse, a part time doctor from Wickham Hospital and admin staff to what it is today. Over time Joan says she developed a passion for Aboriginal health and could see the importance of Mawarnkarra and the great service and work that is done through the organisation.

Joan is a Ngarluma woman with family connections to Yindjibarndi and is very proud of the Mawarnkarra Health Service and what it stands for. “I enjoy being part of a fantastic team of 60-plus staff,” Joan said. “I also have a great board of directors, most of whom have been on this awesome journey with me,” Joan added.

You can access the story on the Mawarnkarra Health Service Facebook page here.

Mawarnkarra Health Service (MHS) CEO Joan Hicks, Image source: MHS Facebook page.

Lung health for children training

Lung Foundation Australia recently released two new accredited eLearning modules about chronic wet cough called Lung Health in First Nations Children. Chronic respiratory disease is highly prevalent amongst First Nations children. Disease progression can be halted and even reversed when diagnosed and treated early.

The free training provides a supportive tool for health professionals to improving lung health outcomes. Topics include:

  • Fundamentals of providing culturally secure care to First Nations families
  • Respiratory diseases prevalent in First Nations children and
  • Appropriate ways of diagnosing and managing lung conditions.

These modules, developed in collaboration with Telethon Kids Institute and the Western Australian Health Translation Network, have been designed to be culturally appropriate and provide the opportunity to learn ways of providing culturally secure care.

The online training is free and accredited with RACGP and ACRRM. Each module is worth 2 CPD points and will take approximately one hour to complete. You can find out more about the eLearning modules and enrol here.

Eliminating Hep C as public health concern

NSW Health has today released a comprehensive plan to eliminate hepatitis C as a public health concern by 2028 with the NSW Hepatitis C Strategy 2022 – 2025. Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant said the new strategy is centred on prevention, testing, treatment and addressing stigma and discrimination associated with the disease. “The strategy aims to reduce hepatitis C infections by 60% decrease the number of deaths linked to hepatitis C, remove the stigma linked to the virus and increase testing and treatment,” Dr Chant said.

The NSW Hepatitis C Strategy 2022-2025 highlights priority groups who are disproportionately affected by hepatitis C for improved health outcomes. Hepatitis C disproportionately affects Aboriginal people in NSW. In 2019, the notification rate for hepatitis C was 11 times higher in Aboriginal people compared with the rest of the population. Building on partnerships already in place with Aboriginal communities, the strategy aims to bolster education, improve access to harm reduction services and support increased access to testing and treatment in Aboriginal Health Services.

To view the NSW Health webpage Towards the elimination of hepatitis C as a public health concern in full click here and the NSW Hepatitis C Strategy 2022–2025 here.

Image source: NAM aidsmap.

‘Impending and significant’ health crisis

Australians think the healthcare system is getting worse, as they grapple with long emergency department wait times, and being able to afford and access essential services. The country’s healthcare rating dropped from 7.8 out of 10 in March last year, to 7.2 in June this year, the Australian Healthcare Index survey shows. The findings indicate an “impending and significant” health crisis, Healthengine chief executive Marcus Tan said.

“The overall trend is heading in the wrong direction suggesting that the Australian healthcare system is under stress, likely leading to worse experiences and outcomes,” Dr Tan said. Nearly one in four survey respondents said their mental health declined in the past six months and almost 60% of people still seeking treatment had been waiting more than three months. Separate research showed one in three psychologists were unable to see new clients post-pandemic, whereas the figure was one in 100 beforehand.

Nearly 40% of respondents to the healthcare index survey who had visited a public hospital emergency department in the past six months were dissatisfied with their experience and one in four survey respondents said prescription medication was unaffordable.

To read the SBS News article Australia experiencing an ‘impending and significant’ health crisis, survey finds in full click here.

Photo: David Mariuz, AAP. Image source: SBS News website.

ACCHO CEO calls out cherry-picked data

Winnunga CEO Julie Tongs has called out the ACT government for “rely[ing] on ABS data for internal purposes but point[ing] to a much narrower set of data for public purposes. Ms Tongs said that because of the yawning difference between the ACT Aboriginal recidivism rate published by the ACT government at the end of 2020 (over 90 %), which was recently confirmed by the ABS, and the 40% rate recently claimed by acting commissioner for corrections Ray Johnson on ABC radio, she wrote to ACT Corrective Services seeking clarification on the issue.

In response the Directorate advised that “The ACT had 38.5% of detainees (released in 2018-19) returning to prison (within two years from their release) against 45.2% nationally. The return rate for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander detainees was 44% compared to 56.8 per cent nationwide.”

Ms Tongs said that in this case the ACT government relies on data that relates only to detainees who were re-imprisoned within two years of release and completely ignores the rest. If the information is based on the latest ABS data on recidivism rates of all detainees and not just those re-imprisoned within two years of release it tells a very different story.

To read the CBR CityNews article Lies, damned lies and ACT government statistics in full click here.

Image source: The Canberra Tims.

Connection to Country on campus

A visionary long-term project will embed Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander design values on University of Queensland campuses, reshaping them over time to better recognise and celebrate Indigenous connections. UQ Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Indigenous Engagement, Professor Bronwyn Fredericks, , said the framework was a tremendous achievement, and an important step in UQ’s reconciliation journey. “The University of Queensland is proud to be part of what is a new and emerging space for the higher education sector, that is re-shaping its learning, teaching, research and engagement environments,” Professor Fredericks said.

“UQ is among only a handful of Australian universities engaging with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Design Principles for its physical and built environments. Our Design Principles Framework aims to ensure safe and welcoming spaces for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, along with offering all people a greater connection to what it means to visit, study or work within a great Australian university. This is important legacy work which adds to UQ’s master plan and contributes to shaping the way our campuses and premises will look and feel for generations to come.”

To read the University of Queensland UQ News article Creating connection to Country and Indigenous cultures on campus in full click here and to access the Campuses on Countries Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Design Framework at The University of Queensland click here.

Winnunga News – June 2022 edition

The Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health and Community Services’ Winnunga News June 2022 edition has just been released. In her update CEO Julie Tongs OAM refers to the enormous and continuous strain the COVID-19 pandemic and increasing cases of influenza, have placed on staff and the operations at Winnunga as well as the Aboriginal community and Winnunga clients.

Articles in the newsletter cover:

  • a visit to Winnunga by the Narrabundah Early Childhood School
  • a review of the ACT Government’s plan to reform out of home care and child protection in the ACT
  • the Uluru Statement From the Heart
  • the eviction of 340 long term ACT public housing tenants
  • the importance of not just moving on after Reconciliation Day
  • the need for government leadership in relation to traditional custodianship
  • what has gone wrong at the Alexander Maconochie Centre
  • a Canberra artist’s portrait of Aunty Matilda House
  • a COVID-19 and influenza update

You can access the Winnunga News June 2022 edition click here.

New process for job advertising

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Lessons for mainstream health services

Image in feature tile from Bulgarr Ngaru Medical Aboriginal Corporation website.

Lessons for mainstream health services

The longevity and success of the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health (ACCH) sector has some valuable lessons for mainstream health services, according to a panel of Indigenous health experts at the recent Giant Steps conference. In a recent article, written for Croakey Health Media, Jennifer Doggett reviewed the key points raised by the panel discussion: “One of the success stories of Australia’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic has been the achievements of the ACCH sector in preventing the spread of infection among Indigenous communities.

The conference panel included Pat Turner AM, NACCHO CEO who reminded participants that ACCHOs have been part of Australia’s health landscape since before the introduction of Medibank (the precursor to Medicare) in 1975. She stressed the innovative model of primary healthcare developed by the ACCHOs and their focus on prevention and social justice, all later adopted by World Health Organization in its Declaration of Alma-Ata in 1978.

Brad Brown described ACCHOs as a “home away from home” and discussed how the community controlled model has deep roots in Aboriginal culture. “Aboriginal people sit around a lot and talk and yarn. We talk about how to do things better, and what our current needs are. Local people talking about their local issues are part of our culture – we know that needs are different place to place and we know how to reframe what we do to meet local priorities. Community control is part of self-determination,” Brown said. As well as providing comprehensive primary healthcare to Indigenous Australians, the panel discussed how the ACCHO model provides some important lessons for the rest of the health system about how to deliver inclusive, community controlled and integrated care.

To read the Croakey Health Media article Lessons from the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health sector in full click here.

Landmark mural by Aboriginal artists, Ray Thomas, Kulan Barney and Ruby Kulla Kulla, in partnership with world famous street artist Adnate, launched in 2016 to mark the 20th anniversary of VACCHO. Image source: Croakey Health Media.

Ingkintja Male Health Service leads way

Ingkintja: Wurra apa artwuka pmara is an Aboriginal Male Health Service at the Central Australian Aboriginal Congress that has taken the lead in providing cultural activities and social and emotional wellbeing services for male health for many years. The ACCHO delivers a full suite of medical care complemented by social support services with an emphasis on preventative health, servicing over 1,000 men every year.

The Ingkintja ‘Men’s Shed’ male-only washing facilities (showers and laundry facilities) and gym enable males, both young and old, to come together and access fitness, comradery and practical life skills. A psychologist and Aboriginal care management worker are available through Ingkintja, allowing therapeutic care on counselling, violence interventions, and cultural and social support to men.

The theme of Men’s Health Week (13–19 June) this year is Building Healthy Environments for Men and Boys. Ingkintja is Congress’ male only service supports men and boys through a range of ways to build healthy environments. The Ingkintja clinic does preventative 715 health checks – a complete check of your physical health and wellbeing to keep men and boys on track to stay well. Having regular health checks helps men and boys stay in control of their health and wellbeing so they can stay strong and well.

For more information about the Ingkintja Male Health Service click here.

Ingkintja: Wurra apa artwuka pmara is an Aboriginal Male Health Service at the CAAC. Image source: CAAC.

Calls to redirect mental health funds

Indigenous psychologists at the Australian Indigenous Psychologists Association-hosted forum held earlier this month, have criticised a state of ‘political limbo’ they claim has led to the funnelling of money into non-Indigenous organisations despite years of calls to redirect efforts to community-led, culturally-appropriate models.

Townsville Elder and professor Gracelyn Smallwood opened up the forum and in a call to action said it was important to do away with bickering to ensure the new Federal government addressed closing the gap targets, “the only programs that are effectively working are programs that are from the bottom-up rather than top-down, which is mostly paternalistic and government controlled.” Concern over white organisations receiving funding for Indigenous services is nothing new, however aunty Gracelyn laments the practice remained too common.

Kabi Kabi and Australian South Sea Islander psychologist Kelleigh Ryan said “The system, it still hears the talk of holistic, it hears the talk of Indigenous led, it hears the talk of First Nations or cultural Integrity but it doesn’t really understand, so then it often chooses what it always knows. So it chooses the people (the system) has a relationship with, instead of the organisations who are doing the work, who have always been doing the work.”

To view the National Indigenous Times article Indigenous psychologists’ call to redirect mental health funds to First Nations services in full click here.

Plans to begin Birth Centre construction

On the 21 February 2022, Waminda South Coast Aboriginal Women’s Health and Welfare Corporation (Waminda) hosted the Hon Linda Burney MP, Minister for Indigenous Australians, and the Hon Fiona Phillips MP, Federal Member for Gilmore, where they pledged on behalf of the Labor Government $22 million towards the Birthing Centre and the Birthing On Country program. With the funding now promised to the Community, Waminda and the Minga Gudjaga program (Waminda’s Maternity & Childcare program) are already making plans to begin construction before 2023.

Melanie Briggs, Senior Endorsed Midwife at Waminda said “We hope to secure land soon, and we will be building a purpose built facility, so that our mum’s can birth their babies in this place. The next steps are…Birth Centre Criteria, Risk Assessments, we’re developing a cultural and clinical governance committee to ensure high quality safety [for clients]. We’re also increasing our partnership with our local health district by providing services in the hospital for our women. We’re designing our birth centre. It’s designed by the cultural committee and the women in the community. We’re actually going back out into Community to do more consultations around what the [Birth Centre] needs to be, and what Community want it to be.”

You can access Waminda’s media release Birthing on Country closer to our goal here.

Waminda Birthing On Country program. Image source: IndigenousX.

SMS4Dads supporting fathers

There’s not a lot out there that speaks directly to dads.It’s a simple idea. Dad’s are really busy before and after the birth – there is no way they’ll come to lots of parenting classes… but they do have mobile phones. SMS4dads provides new fathers with information and connections to online services through their mobile phones.

SMS4dads supports men in their role as fathers and increases awareness of their influence on baby’s brain development. SMS4dads helps fathers understand and connect with their baby and partner. It also checks in on their wellbeing and offers professional support if needed.

SMS4dads is FREE.  It provides info related to the age and stage of the baby. It’s the info dad’s need – when they need it, how they need it – straight to their phone. For more information about SMS4dads and to join click here.

Single test could rule out heart attack

Queensland University of Technology (QUT) researchers have identified a way of more quickly determining the risk of a heart attack for Indigenous patients, which could fast-track their treatment and ease hospital overcrowding. Results from a single test could be used to safely rule out heart attack for up to one third of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients with low troponin levels according to QUT research.

Published earlier this week in the Medical Journal of Australia, QUT Associate Professor Jaimi Greenslade from Australian Centre for Health Services Innovation (AusHSI) evaluated data from 110 patients who presented with chest pain to the Cairns Hospital emergency department. The current process to identify heart attack was to test for levels of troponin, a protein released from damaged heart muscles into the blood stream, at the time of patient presentation and again 2-3 hours later.

“There is a growing body of evidence reporting that a single test may be adequate to rule out heart attack for a group of non-Indigenous patients, but limited research has evaluated the use of a single test for Indigenous patients,” said Professor Greenslade.

To view the QUT article Single test could rule out heart attack in Indigenous Australians in full click here.

Mental Health Co-Response program expands

The WA state government  is expecting improved outcomes for people with a mental illness when it introduces a Mental Health Co-Response (MHCR) program into the South West region following the successful roll out of program in Geraldton in August 2021. The “innovative” program is a cross-government response to mental health challenges that sees WA Health, WA Police and the Mental Health Commission in partnership. The CHCR program involves mental health practitioners from WA Country Health Service and police officers co-responding to calls seeking assistance, where mental illness is identified as a likely factor.

By providing specialist intervention and support, the initiative aims to provide a coordinated response for people experiencing mental health crisis, including self-harm, alcohol and other drug-related issues. WA Police Minister Paul Papalia said “This initiative has proven to be effective in the metropolitan area and in the first regional site, Geraldton. It’s good for the community, individuals, families and police. Having Aboriginal mental health workers as part of the co-response team will also ensure a culturally sensitive response to people in the community experiencing a mental health crisis.”

Response teams will be supported by Aboriginal mental health workers, to ensure Aboriginal communities have access to culturally informed support. The program will initially cover Bunbury and immediate surrounds from the end of July 2022.

To read the Busselton-Dunsborough Mail article WA government announce a mental health co response program to South West in full click here.

Ageism and elder abuse linked

SA Health has a new media campaign which aims to raise public awareness of the link between ageism and abuse and mistreatment of older people. The campaign reminds the community that older people have rights – the right to make their own decisions, to work, be safe, and be treated with dignity and respect. It highlights that when others assume an older person cannot do something and exclude them because of their age, it makes them feel invisible and sad.

The 2021 National Elder Abuse Prevalence Study reported that one in six older Australians experienced some form of abuse or mistreatment in the 12 months before the survey, from February to May 2020. In a SA survey of older people, around half said they did not feel valued in their community. Ageism stems from negative views of older people and the ageing process.

The new campaign underscores that ageism can lead to mistreatment, neglect, and other forms of abuse and it urges people to reflect on how they treat the older people in their life. The campaign will feature on digital and social media, radio, in print, and on screens in shopping centres around regional and metropolitan SA for the next six weeks.

For more information click here.

Elder, Kimberleys WA. Image source: Al Jazeera.

 

New process for job advertising

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Maningrida flu outbreak worsens

Note: image in the feature tile is of Sharana Turner and her daughter Collette seeking treatment for influenza at Maningrida. Image source: ABC News.

Maningrida flu outbreak worsens

Maningrida. a remote NT Indigenous community is medically evacuating two residents a day as the Top End deals with a “tsunami” of flu cases during its worst outbreak in years. For the past week, one or two people have been flown out of Maningrida — 370 kms from Darwin on the north coast of Arnhem Land — each day due to a severe outbreak of influenza. “These are unprecedented numbers in volumes per day,” local health clinic manager Jessica Gatti said. “The flu season definitely has come a lot earlier and a lot harder than was anticipated, so we didn’t have the opportunity to do a mass vaccination,” she said.

She said management of the flu outbreak was much different to COVID-19. “With COVID-19, there had been so much pre-preparation going into it and we had so many policies and procedures and workflows around how we were going to internally manage an outbreak,” Ms Gatti said. “The flu outbreak is definitely worse in the sense that it’s a huge strain on the staffing and on the patients in that [we’re] trying to see them all in a timely manner.

AMSANT CEO John Paterson said Maningrida was not the only community struggling to contain outbreaks of influenza. He said the flu season normally peaked in August or September in the NT. “For some unknown reason, it’s arrived early and it’s caught our clinicians a little bit off guard,” Mr Paterson said.

To view the ABC News article Two patients a day evacuated from Maningrida as flu outbreak worsens in Northern Territory in full click here.

Maningrida on Arnhem Land’s north coast is experiencing a severe influenza outbreak. Photo: Hamish Harty, ABC News.

Galambila receives health and wellbeing funding

Galambila Aboriginal Health Service, which works in and around Coffs Harbour and Bellingen, is one organisation on the Mid North Coast receiving a share of $834,000 that has been granted to eleven regional charities and community groups by the Newcastle Permanent Charitable Foundation for projects improving health and social wellbeing for those most in need, and initiatives supporting disadvantaged and at-risk young people.

Tracy Singleton, CEO at Galambila Aboriginal Health Service said “It’s about improving health and closing the gap. We are looking at ten families every term, so 60 families over twelve months, which is a fair goal. Our footprint takes in Coffs Harbour and Bellingen shires across Gumbaynggirr country – though Gumbaynggirr country is much bigger than that. We have a population of over 5,000 Aboriginal people in our area and I think that if we can reach 60 families that’s a really good start.”

The program will be based around early childhood development. “We may start with something like hearing and bring in speakers and have playgroups where we bring Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families together, that live on Gumbaynggirr country, and they’ll be able to talk through issues that they actually deal with that may not be issues the broader community deal with, so they’re not going to be isolated in what they bring to the table.”

To read the News Of The Area article Galambila Aboriginal Health Service Granted Funding For Health And Wellbeing Program in full click here.

Image source: Galambila Aboriginal Health Service website.

Jail now rehab for First Nations women

A drug and rehabilitation facility to be established in remote Australia is finally offering women battling addiction the chance to seek treatment with their family and on country. Yetta Dhinnikkal Centre, a former prison, sits on more than 10,000 hectares in Brewarrina in north-west NSW and has been vacant since its closure in 2020. The property is now being handed back to the First Nations community for two vital purposes; to become a women’s rehab facility and to be used by the Ngemba Traditional Owners for cultural and agricultural purposes.

The Orana Haven Aboriginal Corporation has taken on the role of turning the former prison into a rehab exclusively for women and will allow them to remain with their children while receiving residential care. Acting CEO Tracy Gordon said there was a serious shortage of services for women struggling with addiction. “We’ve had numerous phone calls for a women’s rehab as well calls to see whether we take all of the family as well,” Ms Gordon said. “It’s just hard when you have to say no, we don’t have the services available. We have eight beds in this area for women to get help with drug or alcohol dependency,” Ms Gordon said. “We provide detox for females but from there, they have to go away.”

To view the ABC News article Jail turned rehab facility in remote NSW offers new hope for First Nations women battling addiction in full click here.

The former prison’s infrastructure will be repurposed into a rehabilitation facility. Image source: ABC News.

Tasmania to raise age of detention

The Tasmanian Minister for Education, Children and Youth, Roger Jaensch, has announced that Tasmania’s minimum age of detention will be raised from 10 to 14 years. This will be one key element in our plan to build a nation-leading, best practice approach to young people in conflict with the law. We know that detention does not support rehabilitation or reduce the likelihood of re-offending for younger children. Early exposure to a detention environment can also further traumatise young people, expose them to problem behaviours of older detainees and increase criminal networks.

You can view Minister Jaensch’s media release in full here.

Amnesty International Australia welcomed the announcement with their Indigenous Rights Advisor, Rodney Dillon, saying: “although we don’t have a lot of detail on the plans at this stage, Amnesty welcomes this significant step in a smarter approach to justice. Putting children in prisons causes irreparable harm, governments know this, but continue to allow children to be subject to this treatment. That the Tasmanian Government has recognised that children don’t belong in prison, and there are alternatives to dealing with crime, is a huge step forward.”

You can view Amnesty International Australia’s media release Tasmania’s commitment to raise the age of detention to 14 welcome, Time to raise the age of criminal responsibility here.

Ashley Youth Detention Centre, Tasmania. Image source: The Examiner.

NT on alert for Japanese encephalitis

NT residents and visitors are being reminded to protect themselves from mosquito bites following an increase in the number of feral pigs that have tested positive for Japanese encephalitis (JE) in the Top End region. Since March 2022, 44 feral pigs infected with JE have been detected in the Victoria Daly, Litchfield, Marrakai-Douglas Daly and Cox-Daly region, as well as the Tiwi Islands.

Nina Kurucz, Director of the Medical Entomology Unit, NT Health, said JE is a serious disease spread by mosquitoes that can infect humans and animals, such as pigs, horses and some birds. “The highest risk period for being bitten by an infected mosquito is after sundown within five kilometres of wetlands where feral pigs and water birds potentially infected with JE are present,” Ms Kurucz said.

To view the NT Government NT Health media release NT on alert for Japanese encephalitis click here and for further information about the Japanese encephalitis virus you can access the Australian Government Department of Health Japanese encephalitis virus (JEV) webpage here.

Launch of national standard of sepsis care

You are invited to the online launch of the first national Sepsis Clinical Care Standard, hosted by the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care.

Sepsis is a life-threatening condition that is difficult to recognise. Early action saves lives and reduces the risk of serious complications and death. The after-effects of sepsis extend beyond the acute crisis, posing challenges for coordinated follow-up in hospital and post-discharge.

Join the webcast from 12:00PM – 1:00PM AEST Thursday 20 June 2022 to hear the experts discuss timely recognition of sepsis, systems to support time-critical management, the ongoing effects of sepsis, and the importance of multidisciplinary, coordinated sepsis care.

This event, The event will be hosted by broadcaster and commentator Julie McCrossin AM, is relevant to all healthcare professionals who may need to recognise and respond to sepsis on the ward, in the emergency department or in pre-hospital and community settings.

To register for the webinar click here.

New Health Professional Education Resource

Health Professional Online Services (HPOS) HPOS is an internet based portal, providing a simple and secure way for health professionals and organisations to do business with government online. HPOS enables online self-service access to government programs, payments and services. You need a Provider Digital Access (PRODA) account to access HPOS. The Health Professional Education Resources Gateway contains an a vast and growing range of customised educational resources for health professionals.

A new education resource that examines HPOS in now available. This new simulation, HPOS Fundamentals, gives providers and their delegates,

  • An insight on setting up HPOS,
  • Overview of the key HPOS features, and
  • Closer analysis of some specific HPOS features.

To view and learn more about the new simulation click here and for further information about the new HPOS education resource click here.

New process for job advertising

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Eye treatment could reduce vision loss

Image in the feature tile is from the Brian Holden Vision Institute (BHVI) website.

Eye treatment could reduce vision loss

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people experience three times more vision loss than non-Indigenous people, creating a concerning gap for vision. Associate Professor Hessom Razavi from The University of WA explains that much of this is due to diabetic macular oedema (DMO).  Macular oedema blurs the central vision, diminishing the ability to recognise people’s faces, to drive and work, and perform other essential tasks. DMO affects around 23,000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Australia with most of them of working age.

The good news is DMO is treatable, with medications known as anti-VEGF agents. A world-first clinical trail has been undertaken to test longer-acting DMO treatment for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people patients find it impractical, for complex and varied reasons, to attend 10–12 appointments a year. There is, therefore, a need for an alternative. Longer-acting medications do exist. One example is a dexamethasone implant, a steroid injected into the eye which only needs to be dosed every three months.

You can view the Longer-acting eye treatment could reduce vision loss for Indigenous Australians article in full here and a short video from The Fred Hollows Foundation website explaining the prevalence of eye problems among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Help stop the flu in 2022

Annual vaccination is the most important measure to prevent influenza and its complications. Influenza is a highly contagious viral infection that can cause widespread illness and deaths every year. This year, it’s even more important to get the influenza vaccine as we are more vulnerable to influenza. This is due to lower recent exposure to the virus and lower uptake of influenza vaccines in 2021. With international borders reopening, it’s likely we will see more influenza in 2022.

Who should get an influenza vaccine – vaccination experts recommend influenza vaccination for all people aged 6 months and over. Under the National Immunisation Program, free influenza vaccines are provided to the following groups who are at higher risk of complications from influenza:

  • children aged 6 months to less than 5 years
  • all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 6 months and over
  • people aged 6 months and over with certain medical conditions that increase their chance of severe influenza and its complications
  • pregnant women (at any stage during pregnancy)
  • people aged 65 years and over.

Influenza vaccines are available NOW – FREE influenza vaccines under the National Immunisation Program became available this month and can be administered by GPs, community health clinics, and eligible pharmacies. To locate a service in your area you can search the National Health Services Directory. Book your appointment to get vaccinated to ensure you have the best protection at the peak of the season (usually June to September). However, it’s never too late to get  vaccinated as influenza can spread all year round.

For further information you can access the Department of Health’s Help stop the flu in 2022 website page here.

Telehealth’s role in modern health care

In recent years teleconsultations have played a growing role in the delivery of healthcare and support services across Australia. Far from a stop-gap measure, these services are set to become one of the standout legacies from the global pandemic. The government has announced it will invest AU$100 million towards making telehealth a permanent option in the healthcare system. This comes on the back of consistent research indicating confidence in the method and a lasting appetite for its convenience. A recent white paper by Deloitte, Curtin University and the Consumers Health Forum of Australia found that seven in 10 Australians are willing and ready to use virtual health services.

The research also found that geographical disparity is one of the biggest causes of inconsistent patient outcomes across the country. With the availability of videoconferencing services, people no longer need to leave their homes to receive care, and providers can ensure those in inaccessible areas aren’t left behind. We saw an example of this in the remote aboriginal community of Tjuntjuntjara in WA, which, during March 2020 and January 2021, faced a shortage of healthcare professionals due to a state border closure with SA. Following the introduction of telehealth services, the 160 residents had reliable access to virtual care for chronic conditions and mental health issues.

To view the Hospital and Healthcare article The role of telehealth in modern health care click here.

welcome to Tjuntjuntjara hand painted sign beside outback red sand road

Image source: ExporOZ.

New COVID-19 oral treatment on PBS

From Sunday 1 May 2022 the second, prescription-only, COVID-19 oral treatment will be available on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) for Australians at high risk of developing severe COVID-19.

Paxlovid® (nirmatrelvir + ritonavir) is an oral anti-viral medicine which can be used by patients with mild to moderate COVID-19 who are at high risk of developing severe disease. This medicine will help reduce the need for hospital admission.

Adults who have mild to moderate COVID-19 – which is confirmed by a PCR or a Rapid Antigen Test and verified by the prescribing doctor or nurse practitioner – and who can start treatment within five days of symptom onset, can be prescribed the oral anti-viral medicines if:

  • they are 65 years of age or older, with two other risk factors for severe disease (as increasing age is a risk factor, patients who are 75 years of age of older only need to have one other risk factor)
  • they are of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander origin, and are 50 years of age or older with two other risk factors for severe disease, or
  • they are moderately to severely immunocompromised.

To view Minister Greg Hunt’s media release in full click here.

Image source: ABC News.

AIHW releases mental health papers.

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) have released two important publications:

Employment and Indigenous mental health

  • this paper provides an overview of policies and programs that address Indigenous employment and mental health and evaluates the evidence that labour force outcomes can improve Indigenous mental health.

Indigenous self-governance for mental health and suicide prevention

  • this article provides a synthesis of the information about Indigenous self-governance in relation to mental health and suicide prevention. It explores the ways in which Indigenous organisations embody and enable processes, structures, institutions, and control associated with self-governance and how these contribute to Indigenous wellbeing and suicide prevention.

You can view the Employment and Indigenous mental health paper in full here and the Indigenous self-governance for mental health and suicide prevention article here.

Aged and dementia care scholarships 

Aged Care Nursing and Allied Health Dementia Care Scholarships.  Applications for studies in 2022 are open until 5 May 2022 to nurses, personal care workers and allied health professionals.

The  Department of Health’s Ageing and Aged Care Sector Newsletter article Aged Care Nursing and Allied Health Dementia Care Scholarships available here includes comments from Chief Nursing and Midwifery Officer Adjunct Professor Alison McMillian, Chief Allied Health Officer Dr Anne-marie Boxall, and previous scholarship recipients.

Additional information about the scholarships is available on the Australian College of Nursing website here.

Kurranulla’s Aboriginal aged care and disability worker Larissa McEwen with her client, Aunty Loyla Lotaniu. Photo: John Veage. Image source: St George & Sutherland Shire Leader.

$25m to fix ‘dehumanising’ Banksia Hill conditions

The Banskia Hill juvenile detention centre will receive a $25.1 million upgrade after it was slammed by a Perth Children’s Court judge as a “dehumanising” space. The money will go towards a $7.5 million crisis care unit, improvement to the centre’s intensive supervision unit, in-cell media streaming for education and therapeutic purposes, and a new Aboriginal services unit.

While sentencing a 15-year old boy for a range of offences, in February, Perth Children’s Court President Judge Hylton Quail said “if you wanted to make a monster, this is the way to do it”.

To view the ABC News article Banksia Hill juvenile detention centre gets $25 million to address ‘dehumanising’ conditions, cut incarceration rates in full click here.

parents of children inside Banksia Hill Juvenile Detention Centre protesting

Parents of children inside Banksia Hill have recently spoken out about conditions inside the centre and are considering a class action. Photo supplied by Megan Krakouer. Image source: ABC News.

In a related story Condobolin Health Worker Ellen Doolan says while people have got to feel safe in their own homes, sending more Indigenous kids into juvenile detention is not the solution. Elderly Aboriginal people in Condobolin are just as frightened as elderly whites, she says. Many of the kids ­involved have grown up in ­“extremely tough circumstances” and are being raised by elderly grandmothers. “We’ve already got the highest rate of incarceration of any people in this country and so a lot of the fathers are in jail and now a lot of the mothers are too,” ­Doolan says. To view Ellen Doolan speaking click here.

Condobolin AHW Ellen Doolan

Condobolin health worker Ellen Doolan. Image source: The Australian.

New process for job advertising

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

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

Primary Care COVID-19 update

The latest in a series of webinars to update primary care on the COVID-19 response and the vaccine rollout will be held from 3:30 PM–4:00 PM (AEDT) Thursday 21 April 2022.

Joining Professor Michael Kidd AM, Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Department of Health on the panel this week will be Australian Government Department of Health Dr Lucas de Toca, First Assistant Secretary, COVID-19 Primary Care Response, Department of Health.

GPs and all health professionals are welcome to attend the webinar and can join using this link. If you’re unable to view this webinar live, you can view it on-demand using the same link, within a few hours of the live stream ending.

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: 5-15-year-olds most at risk of RHD

Image in feature tile is of an RHD Australia doctor supporting RHD control programs. Photo: Emmanuelle Clarke. Image source: Australian Science Communicators website.

5-15-year-olds most at risk of RHD

Therlrina Akene woke up at her home on Yam island recently unable to walk. She and her mum Sandi were transferred via helicopter to Thursday Island Hospital for a series of medical tests. Weeks later they are still in Cairns Hospital Children’s Ward after Thelrina was diagnosed with Rheumatic Heart Disease (RHD). Cairns & Hinterland Hospital and Health Service paediatric cardiologist Dr Ben Reeves said about a third of his patients were living with RHD.

“RHD, if left untreated, can cause structural damage to the heart, ” he said. “It’s a very sad fact that the common strep throat infection that we all develop in our lifetimes, can end up in life-limiting structural conditions in First Nations people.  Those most at risk of developing the disease are young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, aged 5–15, who are 55 times more likely to die of the disease than their non-Indigenous peers. RHD is also responsible for the highest gap in life expectancy between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians – higher than even diabetes or kidney failure.”

To view the full article in the Torres News, Edition 24 click here.

Dr Ben Reeves, Thelrine Akene, Sandi Martin and Far North Queensland Hospital Foundation CEO Gina Hogan in Cairns Base Hospital

Dr Ben Reeves, Thelrine Akene, Sandi Martin and Far North Queensland Hospital Foundation CEO Gina Hogan in Cairns Base Hospital. Image source: Torres News.

Child safety systems failing mob

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders surviving domestic and family violence are not having their needs met by child protection systems reveals a report released today. New Ways for Our Families is the first of two reports. It shows child protection responses to domestic and family violence must focus on children and women. It also reveals these responses do not adequately address all domestic and family violence issues. “Despite the overwhelming impact of child protection systems in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young people’s lives, often resulting from domestic and family violence, their voices on what will support them have largely been silent,” says Garth Morgan, CEO of the Queensland Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Child Protection Peak.

Professor Daryl Higgins, Director, Institute of Child Protection Studies, Australian Catholic University added “No parent, carer or family plans to have their children go into child protection or youth justice. Families welcome children into their lives and communities but often the forces
of intergenerational trauma affect their ability to offer the best support to their children. And unfortunately, systemic bias and racism just make it harder for them.”

To view the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Child Protection Peak media release in full click here.

Image source: Bendigo Advertiser.

Aboriginal prisoner mental healthcare program

Researchers from UNSW will test the effectiveness of mental health interventions for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. UNSW Sydney Professor Kimberlie Dean and her team have received a $1.18 million Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) grant to improve mental healthcare in prison and support the prison-to-community transition for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men and women.

“I’m excited to have the financial support necessary to progress this important research and also to have the opportunity to build much-needed research capacity in the area,” Prof. Dean said. Prof. Dean, who is the Head of Discipline for Psychiatry and Mental Health, and Chair of Forensic Mental Health at UNSW Medicine & Health, said the project will provide an enhanced service to meet the specific cultural and community-connection needs of Aboriginal men and women being released from prison.

The intervention also has the potential to contribute to reducing the over-incarceration of Aboriginal people by reducing risk of a return to custody. In 2021, the Productivity Commission reported Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults were imprisoned at 11 times the rate of non-Indigenous Australians in 2019–20. “Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are incarcerated at an alarming rate and those in prison often suffer with significant mental health needs, which can be associated with an elevated risk of poor outcomes both before and after returning to the community, including risk of re-incarceration,” Prof. Dean said.

To view the full article from the UNSW Sydney Newsroom click here.

Professor Kimberlie Dean. Image source: UNSW Sydney Newsroom webpage.

Heart health program for First Nations dads

To address the growing burden of cardiovascular disease (CVD) in Indigenous Australians, Professor Philip Morgan’s is heading a project that will:

  • Culturally adapt the effective ‘Healthy Dads, Healthy Kids’ family-based lifestyle program for Indigenous Australian families;
  • Test the feasibility of the adapted program with a sample of Indigenous Australian children and their fathers.

This project builds on Professor Philip Morgan’s pioneering ‘Healthy Dads, Healthy Kids’ program, which has demonstrated clinically meaningful effects on CVD risk factors (e.g., weight, diet, activity) in fathers and children. In this context, Professor Philip Morgan’s team expect that a culturally adapted version of ‘Healthy Dads, Healthy Kids’ have similar meaningful effects for Indigenous Australian families. Additionally, expected long-term outcomes include:

  • To formalise partnerships with Awabakal Aboriginal Medical Services to facilitate translation into the future;
  • Inform program refinements in advance of a major grant application to extend to rural and isolated Indigenous Australian communities to achieve widespread, lasting improvements in indigenous cardiovascular health.

For further information about the project you can access the Heart Foundation’s Improving heart health of Indigenous Australian families – ‘Healthy Dads, Healthy Kids – Indigenous’ website page here.

Addictive e-cigarettes harming youth

E-cigarettes, or vapes, are causing harm and risk introducing a new generation to smoking, warn experts from The Australian National University (ANU) following their government report into vaping. The major review found use of nicotine e-cigarettes increases the risk of a range of adverse health outcomes, particularly in youth, including taking up smoking, addiction, poisoning, seizures, trauma and burns and lung injury. “We reviewed the global evidence in order to support informed choices on vaping for Australia,” lead author Professor Emily Banks from the ANU National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health said.

Cancer Council’s Public Health Committee Chair, Anita Dessaix, said the ANU report is the most comprehensive study of all the health impacts of e-cigarettes ever published worldwide and it sends an urgent message to Australian governments. “Every week we’re hearing growing community concern about e-cigarettes in schools, the health harms and the risks of smoking uptake among young people,” Ms Dessaix said. “Now we have the world’s most authoritative independent scientific analysis showing us exactly why we’re seeing those problems. “A public health crisis is rapidly unfolding before our eyes.”

To view the ANU media release in full click here.

teenage girl vaping, face obscured by smoke

Image source: The Age.

Shared Code of conduct for 12 National Boards

A National Board Code of conduct or Code of ethics describes the professional behaviour and conduct expectations for registered health practitioners. 15 National Boards have an approved Code of conduct that applies to the registered health practitioners they regulate. These codes are an important part of the National Boards’ regulatory framework and help to keep the public safe by outlining the National Boards’ expectations of professional behaviour and conduct for registered health practitioners. Registered health practitioners have a responsibility to be familiar with and apply their relevant code.

A shared Code of conduct has been developed for 12 National Boards, including the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Practice Board and comes into effect on Wednesday 29 June 2022. An advance copy of the shared Code of conduct is available here and a range of resources to help health practitioners understand and apply the revised code can be accessed here.

Melbourne Poche Centre for Indigenous Health

The Melbourne Poche Centre for Indigenous Health was officially launched on 27 October 2014 at a special celebration attended by Mrs Kay van Norton Poche, Mr Reg Richardson AM and a number of distinguished Indigenous leaders in health and higher education.

The film Investing In The Future – The Melbourne Poche Centre for Indigenous Health, screened at the launch and available here showcases the vision of the Melbourne Poche Centre for Indigenous Health and highlights how leadership can make a real difference to health outcomes for Indigenous people in Australia.

New process for job advertising

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

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

Parkinson’s Awareness Month

Every hour of every day one person is diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease. That’s 24 people each day – that is more prevalent than many common cancers. The whole month of April is earmarked annually to try to get some awareness of the disease out into the community, with Monday 11 April 2022 recognised as World Parkinson’s Day.

Parkinson’s is still a very misunderstood condition that affects not only the person diagnosed with it, but their family, friends and carers. Parkinson’s is a movement and mood disorder typically presenting with symptoms such as slowness of movement, muscle rigidity, instability, tremor, depression and anxiety. A diagnosis of Parkinson’s can occur at any age.

To view the April Is Parkinson’s Awareness Month article in The Hilltops Phoenix in full click here.

Image source: Southern Cross University website.

hiv@aids + sexualhealth 2022 abstract submission open

The Joint Australasian HIV&AIDS + Sexual Health Conferences, hosted by the Australasian Society for HIV, Viral Hepatitis and Sexual Health Medicine (ASHM), is being held from Monday 29 August to Thursday 1 September 2022 on the Sunshine Coast (QLD) and will highlight new and innovative research findings among delegates from Australia, NZ, Asia, and the Pacific from a range of backgrounds from healthcare, academia, government and social.

To support the conference ASHM are extending invitations to submit abstracts. Abstracts can go towards delivering an oral presentation or a poster presentation at the conference and is a great opportunity to share the amazing work your staff/services do, or share innovative models developed in the ACCHO sector, others in mainstream can learn from.

One of the conference themes has particular sessions with an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander focus, and it would be great to share some of the great work that’s happened and continues to happen in the ACCHO space relating to HIV&AIDS/Sexual Health. For those who submit abstracts and are successful, NACCHO and ASHM can support costs to attend (registration, travel, accommodation etc).

The deadline to submit abstracts is Sunday 1 May 2022. You can access guidelines for abstracts here and a template here. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to NACCHO’s Megan Campbell using this email link or Edan Campbell-O’Brien here. They would love to work with you on writing a submission and answer any questions you have. This is a fantastic opportunity to showcase the work of our sector and see ACCHOs represented at these large mainstream forums.

On a related note, ASHM are also hosting the Australasian Viral Hepatitis Conference from Monday 29 May to Wednesday 31 May 2022 in Brisbane (QLD). The registration deadline closes on Sunday 1 May 2022 – please don’t hesitate to get in touch if you’d like to find out more.

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: First national crisis support line for mob

First national crisis support line for mob

13YARN is an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander crisis support line funded by the Australian Government with the support of Lifeline and developed in collaboration with Gayaa Dhuwi (Proud Spirit) Australia. It is run by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. 13YARN has been co-designed using Lifeline expertise with several Aboriginal mental health professionals including NACCHO, Black Dog Institute Aboriginal Lived Experience team and the Centre of Best Practice along with input from Torres Strait Islander, remote, regional, and urban peoples with lived experience.

This initiative works to explore options for ongoing support and community members will always be reassured they will be connected to another Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander person who will understand where they are coming from and value knowing HOW to listen, without judgement or shame.

If you, or someone you know, are feeling worried or no good, we encourage you to connect with 13YARN on 13 92 76 (24 hours/7 days) and talk with an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander Crisis Supporter. This is your story; your journey and we will take the time to listen. No shame, no judgement, safe place to yarn. We’re here for you.

For more information visit the 13YARN website here. You can also listen to 13YARN National Program Manager Aunty Marjorie Anderson talking about 13YARN on the ABC Radio program Sunday Extra with Julian Morrow here and read Minister Greg Hunt and Minister David Coleman’s joint media release about 13YARN here.

First image: Gayaa Dhuwi (Proud Spirit) Australia Twitter post 30 March 2022. Second image: 13YAR National Program Manager Aunty Marjorie Anderson, Nikita Ridgeway and Jia Natty. SBS NITV.

2022 Budget ‘an opportunity lost’

NACCHO is calling for a substantial review of funding for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health. The call comes following the handing down of the Federal Budget last week which the NACCHO has described as business as usual. NACCHO says they are tiring of singular announcements and that while there have been some welcome announcements, the core funding for First Nations health services remains the same. NACCHO Chair Donnella Mills says single announcements interrupts the quality of care.

CEO Pat Turner says this budget is an opportunity lost. She says as long as this $4.4 billion funding gap remains and as long as there are funding gaps elsewhere – in particular, in housing – we cannot expect the unconscionable health gap to close.

You can listen to NACCHO’ Chair Donnella Mills speaking on the National Indigenous Radio Service with journalist Adam Evans here.

 

Hope for community rocked by youth suicide

When Aunty Joyce Cooper leads a child through their first smoking ceremony, she knows something is changing. Her body painted in the red and brown ochre of Yorta Yorta country, she guides them through the smoke, letting it wash over them. In First Nations culture, it is believed smoke has healing properties, and can ward off bad spirits. It can also be a form of communication, a cry for help in crisis.

And while she may not hear it audibly, Aunty Joyce knows many of these young people are crying out. Hers is a community rocked by a deep grief, an overwhelming sense of loss – of culture, of community. And now, of its young people. “Sometimes I worry who’s going to be next,” she said. “It’s a ripple effect. Because no-one is listening to our young people. No-one is listening to their stories.”

When it comes to Indigenous youth suicide, Greater Shepparton is an area of high concern. In the past year alone, several young people have taken their own lives and there are concerns if nothing changes, a suicide cluster could form. In January this year, national Indigenous postvention group Thirrili was called in to provide urgent crisis support to the grieving community.

Talking to families, Thirrili CEO Annette Vickery said several devastating themes emerged – systemic racism and bullying, and a widespread loss of culture. “Bullying is a significant issue in Shepparton, including at school and on social media,” Ms Vickery said.

To read the ABC News article in full click here.

Aunty Joyce leads young women in a smoking ceremony. Photo: Rod Briggs. Image source: ABC News website.

Half of Australia’s youth detainees First Nations

Almost half of all young people in detention in Australia are Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, even though the overall number of children going to jail has fallen in the past five years, research shows. Young Indigenous people are only 5.8% of all young people aged 10–17 in Australia but make up 49% of all young people in detention, according to the latest data released by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).

Indigenous children were younger when they entered the criminal justice system than their non‑Indigenous counterparts, and more likely to be from remote and lower socio-economic areas. Young people from very remote areas were six times as likely to be in detention as those from major cities. Young people spent an average of six months in detention. The majority of all young people in detention were unsentenced or awaiting trial, the AIHW found. More than a third (37%) of Indigenous young people were first in contact with the criminal justice system when aged 10 to 13, compared with just 14% of non‑Indigenous youth.

Cheryl Axleby, the co-chair of Change the Record, an Indigenous-led coalition of welfare and legal groups, said she was appalled by the latest report. “This paints a really clear picture of exactly how our criminal legal system is working – it’s targeting poor kids and black kids,” Axleby said. “On top of that, First Nations kids are more likely to be targeted and dragged into the criminal legal system when they are extremely young. It is outrageous that Aboriginal children in primary school are being arrested by police.”

To view the Guardian’s article in full click here.

razor wire rolls at top of chain wire fence

Photo: Jonny Weeks, The Guardian.

Mornington Island deaths due to poor services

There are too many dead bodies on Mornington Island. At least 16 people have died within three months due to a “health pandemic” in the predominantly Indigenous Queensland Gulf community, leaders say. The spike in recent deaths has been attributed to poor healthcare; specifically, a lack of access to renal dialysis on the island, where many residents suffer from chronic kidney disease.

“Our morgue and emergency facilities are full. Sixteen deaths before April is ridiculous,” Mornington Shire Mayor Kyle Yanner said. In 2019, millions of dollars were allocated to install dialysis chairs in several vulnerable communities around NW Queensland, all of which were scheduled to be operating in mid-2021. 600kms south of Mornington Island, in Cloncurry, two chairs were installed, but are not yet working. Of the four chairs allocated to the remote Indigenous community of Doomadgee, two are working. Mornington Island was allocated six dialysis chairs. Only one chair is available.

Mornington Shire Councillor David Barnes said the situation was creating stress on patients and their families. “This means sick patients are having to travel to the mainland to receive treatment and, unfortunately, some are passing away off the island, leaving their grieving families to organise repatriation home for burial,” Mr Barnes said. He’s one of several community leaders calling on Queensland Health and the region’s North West Hospital Health Service (NWHHS) to make available the island’s five other renal chairs.

To view the ABC News story in full click here.

Kyle Yanner below has been calling for an audit of government health services. Photo: Leonie Mellor, ABC News. Image source: ABC News website.

Bigiwun Kid Project – prenatal alcohol exposure

The Lililwan Project was the first Australian population-based prevalence study of fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) using active case ascertainment. Conducted in 2010–2011, the study included 95% of all eligible children aged 7–9 years living in the very remote Aboriginal communities of the Fitzroy Valley, WA. Women from Marninwarntikura Women’s Resource Centre, a local Aboriginal-led organisation, are concerned that some participants from the study are struggling in adolescence so partnered with researchers from the University of Sydney to follow up the Lililwan cohort in 2020–2022 at age 17–19 years.

The overarching aim of the Bigiswun Kid Project is to identify adolescents’ needs and build knowledge to inform services to improve the health and well-being of adolescents in remote Aboriginal communities.

You can access further information about Bigiswun Kid Project in the BMJ Open BMJ Journals here. You can also listen to Emily Carter, CEO Marninwarntikura Women’s Resource Centre and Sue Thomas, Strategic Priority Lead Marninwarntikura Women’s Resource Centre speak with Patricia Karvelas on RN Drive about the project here.

Members of the Marulu team. Image source: Australian Government Office of the Registrar of Indigenous Corporations.

Mob have increased risk of concussion

The diagnosis and management of concussion, or mild traumatic brain injury (TBI), has seen increased attention in recent years as an area requiring greater identification and action. Despite typical lay associations as an injury sustained during contact sport, this activity only makes up about 20% of concussion diagnoses, with the majority of concussion cases resulting from falls, motor vehicle and bicycle crashes, assaults (including domestic violence), and other physical activities. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are 1.7 times more likely to sustain a TBI than the general population.

There is a lack of comprehensive epidemiological data relating to TBI in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Available data relating to concussion have historically been collected from hospitalisations. These data fail to capture Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples who fail to present to hospital after a potential concussion episode; those who present to ACCHOs, general practice, and nurse‐led primary health care centres; those who present to hospital but their symptoms and signs are overlooked, and those who present to hospital but fail to undergo assessment due to prolonged waiting times or as a result of a lack of cultural competence at first point of contact.

To read the Concussion in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples: what is the true epidemiology? article in The Medical Journal of Australia in full click here.

Image source: The Medical Journal of Australia.

New process for job advertising

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

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

International Conference on Human Retrovirology

The 2022 International Virtual Conference on Human Retrovirology: HTLV and Related Viruses will take place from Sunday 8 ­May – Wednesday 11 May 2022. The aim is to focus on Oceania and especially Australia for the first time in the history of this conference. In 2022 the aim is to emphasise the need to increase HTLV-1 public health and social science research output in the global response to HTLV-1. The HTLV 2022 conference is hosted virtually by Melbourne, Australia on behalf of IRVA, The International Retrovirology Association and will be in Australian Eastern Standard Time.

You can access further information about the conference , including registration details on the HTLV22 website here. The registration deadline for the conference is Sunday 24 April 2022.

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Fourth dose recommended for vulnerable

Fourth dose recommended for vulnerable

On Friday 15 March 2022, the Australian Government has accepted the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation’s (ATAGI) recommendation that an additional booster dose of a COVID-19 vaccine be provided to vulnerable population groups to increase their protection levels before winter. The winter dose will be provided to people who are at greatest risk of severe illness from COVID-19. These people will have received their primary vaccination and first booster dose prior to receiving the winter dose. The groups are:

  • Adults aged 65 years and older
  • Residents of aged care or disability care facilities
  • People aged 16 years and older with severe immunocompromise (as defined in the ATAGI statement on the use of a 3rd primary dose of a COVID-19 vaccine in individuals who are severely immunocompromised)
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 50 years and older.

ATAGI recommends that the rollout of the additional booster dose for these groups start from April 2022, coinciding with the rollout of the 2022 influenza vaccination program. You can view Minister Hunt’s media release here and access further information from the Australian Government Deputy Chief Medical Officer here.

blue background, vector image of vials & syringe

Image: Nebojsa Mitrovic, Getty Images. ABC News website.

What to do if you get COVID-19

The Australian Government Department of Health has released an opinion piece from the Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Professor Michael Kidd, about what to do to prepare for the possibility of testing positive for COVID-19 – and what to do if you do test positive. The document is available in English and a number of language translations:, including Kimberly Kriol; Pitjantjatjara; Torres Strait Creole – Yumplatok; Warlpiri; Western Arrarnta and Yolngu Matha.

You can download the fact sheet here.

blue glove hand holding positive RATS test for covid-19

Image source: Urgent Care La Jolla website.

Shelley Ware backs online safety campaign

The Online Safety Act 2021 came into effect earlier this year giving the safety commissioner more powers to remove serious online abuse from platforms. Shelley Ware, Australian Aboriginal TV personality, educator and corporate speaker is championing the online safety campaign for Mob . The eSafety ambassador explains that the new law provides a stronger protection to the community allowing victims to seek permanent removal of harmful content and providing avenues to press further charges. You can listen to the interview with Shelley Ware on NITV Radio here.

Shelley Ware, Aboriginal TV personality standing in front of Yalinguth Stories, Sounds, Knowledge sign

Shelley Ware, Australian Aboriginal TV personality, educator and corporate speaker champions online safety campaign for Mob. Photo: 33 Creative. Image source: NITV website.

Mental health, housing and homelessness

Good health and wellbeing rests, in part, on access to good-quality housing. Having adequate housing and a place to call home supports ‘connection to body’, one of the 7 domains for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander social and emotional wellbeing. Unreliable or poor quality housing and homelessness contribute to and perpetuate health inequities between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and non-Indigenous Australians.

The health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people can be further compromised by (dis)connection from Country, which is another of the 7 domains of social and emotional wellbeing. There is emerging evidence that providing housing and addressing homelessness is important for preventing mental ill-health and suicide among Indigenous Australians. The relationship between housing and mental health is bi-directional. This means that someone’s mental health could be negatively affected by the lack of safe, affordable and high quality housing, and the experience of mental illness could affect access to suitable housing.

The recently release Australian Government Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) Indigenous mental health, housing and homelessness paper

  • synthesises the evidence of what works and does not work for mental health and suicide prevention programs and policy initiatives that address housing and homelessness for Indigenous Australians
  • reports key information about research, evaluation, program and policy initiatives
  • identifies best-practice approaches and critical success factors for implementation
  • outlines limitations and gaps in the evidence.

You can access the AIHW Indigenous mental health, housing and homelessness report here.

Aboriginal art: The journey towards healing by artist Linda Huddleston

The journey towards healing by artist Linda Huddleston featured on the cover of the AIHW Indigenous mental health, housing and homelessness report.

A related article in the National Rural Health Alliance online Partyline magazine looks at how empowering rough sleepers via the charity, Wheels of Wellness (WoW) can save lives. WOW provides an innovative and dynamic model of primary health care to some of regional Australia’s most vulnerable people on the streets of Cairns in Far North Queensland.

WOW’s van is fitted out as a GP consulting room and goes out during the day and after hours with a doctor, Indigenous health worker and mental health social worker. They provide free holistic primary health care to people sleeping rough, staying in a night shelter, or living in transitional and temporary accommodation.

The focus of the WoW team is to build rapport and long-term relationships with the people they meet on the streets. They actively support those wanting to address their health issues, which may include chronic disease, acute care, pain management, mental health, post-trauma stress, domestic violence, drug and alcohol dependency – and the list goes on. The WoW team strongly believes that, along with stable accommodation, focusing on holistic primary health care is crucial to empowering the lives of our most vulnerable Australians.

You can view the Saving lives by empowering rough sleepers article here.

WOW outreach van. Image source: National Rural Health Alliance Partyline online magazine.

Action urged on health, justice and ‘Voice’

Leading Indigenous advocacy groups have called on the Coalition and Labor to promise major reforms to the justice, health and welfare systems ahead of the federal election, and for a Voice to Parliament to be enshrined in the constitution. Change the Record, an alliance of legal, health and family violence prevention organisations, has demanded the major parties agree to increase Centrelink payments, raise the age of criminal responsibility to 14 and urgently build more housing in remote communities to address overcrowding.

Cheryl Axleby, a Narungga woman and co-chair of Change the Record, said problems in areas such as housing were linked to other issues like social security. “We’ve been saying this for decades; if we have appropriate shelter and affordable housing that would solve a lot of issues for our families who are living under welfare or are struggling to make ends meet,” she said. She added that the COVID-19 pandemic had highlighted the need to urgently address overcrowded housing, which became a serious problem during an outbreak in western NSW last year. “Where family members are trying to self-isolate, well, how do they do that when they don’t actually have anywhere else where they can actually go?”

You can access the full article in The Sydney Morning Herald here.

Cheryl Axleby is the co-chair of Change the Record, which has made several key demands for the Coalition and Labor. Cheryl Axleby is the co-chair of Change the Record standing in front of yellow orange brown white Aboriginal art

Cheryl Axleby is the co-chair of Change the Record, which has made several key demands for the Coalition and Labor. Image source: The Sydney Morning Herald.

Growing positive food habits in remote schools

The Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Foundation believes every young person deserves to benefit from a fun, hands-on approach to food education – in every part of the country. This is especially important for kids growing up in remote cities and towns, which form the backbone of the nation’s food system.

In the Gibson Desert, 550 kms north of Kalgoorlie, Willuna Remote Community School is revitalising their kitchen garden and striving to create connections to country. “We want to use the garden to bring Aboriginal cultural learning into the school,” explains teacher, Scott Olsen. “We already grow a native bush banana, a silky pear, and are having conversations with local elders about food native to the area.”

Teaching students how to grow food is a practical way to gain access to fresh produce. “Because we are a remote place, fresh food and vegies can be expensive and hard to find,” says Scott. “One thing we grew last year was peas – the kids absolutely loved picking the peas and eating them fresh in the garden. If they had to go to the shops to buy that big bowl of peas, they might have cost $50. Or they might not even stock them.”

To view the National Rural Health Alliance article in its online magazine Partyline in full click here.

collage: young Aboriginal boys holding seedling, 2 girls carrying water jerry, boy with tray in garden, close up image of plants

Students from Wiluna Remote Community School in kitchen garden.

caring@home Indigenous art competition winners

The caring@home for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Families project recently announced the winners of its caring@home Indigenous Art Competition. What begam as am ‘off the cuff’ idea from Project Director, Professor Liz Reymond, grew into a powerful palliative and end-of-life care conversation starter in many communities around Austra.ia.

“The caring@home art competition has had an amazing impact here. Patients and families have really gotten into it and it has brought up amazing conversations about spirituality, culture and our multicultural community…the conversations it has started have been beyond anything I could have imagined.” Nurse, Remote Palliative Care Service

Thanks have gone out to:

  • the judging panel members: Karl Briscoe – CEO, National Association of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workers and Practitioners (NAATSIHWP); Fiona Cornforth – CEO, The Healing Foundation and The Hon Ken Wyatt, AM MP – Minister for Indigenous Australians,
  • the 757 people voted in the People’s Choice Awards, and
  • the artists, whose experiences, stories and artistic expression provided a deeper and profound understanding of palliative care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families.

You can view all the artworks on the caring@home website here until June 2023.

winner of caring@home Indigenous Art Competition - Life's Journey by Lee Hall

Overall winner of the caring@home Indigenous Art Competition – Life’s Journey by Lee Hall.

New process for job advertising

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

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

WA Aboriginal Family Safety Strategy

The WA Department of Communities is working with Aboriginal people and communities on a strategy to address family violence impacting Aboriginal families and communities. Aboriginal women and children experience family violence at disproportionately high rates with devastating impacts on their own health and wellbeing, and on the health and wellbeing of community.

The contributing factors to family violence in Aboriginal communities include colonisation, dispossession, intergenerational trauma and racism. We need to develop an approach that recognises these differences and considers the specific drivers of family violence in Aboriginal communities.

To guide deliberate work and coordinated effort from government and community over the next decade, we are developing a dedicated Aboriginal Family Safety Strategy. Comprehensive consultation with a range of Aboriginal stakeholders and Aboriginal community members has occurred to inform the content of the draft strategy.

Feedback on the draft Strategy is now open until 5:00 PM AWST Thursday 14 April 2022. To have your say complete the survey here. If you have questions or would like to speak to someone about the project, please send an email using this link.

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Birthing on Country services empower women

Image in feature tile is of South Coast Women’s Health and Welfare Corporation Waminda midwife Melanie Briggs sourced from the South Coast Register.

Birthing on Country services empower women

Many Australian women rely on and trust maternity services to see them through pregnancy, labour and the early stages of new parenting. But for First Nations women, these same services can be confronting and can result in poor outcomes. Many women must travel far from family and community to birth. And if they do, they often feel misunderstood and judged by mainstream health services.

There is another way. Birthing on Country means First Nations women give birth on their ancestral country. It acknowledges First Nation peoples’ continued ownership of land and unique birthing practices. Birthing on Country services centre First Nations values, and are designed to meet First Nations people’s social, emotional, cultural and health needs. The services are embedded within larger health service networks.

The Molly Wardaguga Research Centre team works in partnership with First Nations communities to deliver Birthing on Country maternity services that address health inequities. In one urban setting there was a profound reduction in preterm birth and increased antenatal attendance and breastfeeding. This was achieved through integrating within a wraparound system of care, designed as a one-stop-shop in an Aboriginal community controlled setting.

It also involved redesigning the service using a successful blueprint that prioritises investing in the workforce, strengthening families’ capabilities, and embedding First Nations governance and control in all aspects of maternity service planning and delivery. However, Birthing on Country services are yet to be trialled in regional and remote Australia. So there is much work to do to ensure all First Nations women can access these services.

To view The Conversation article in full click here. You can also view a trailer of a documentary (mentioned in the article) filmed in remote Arnhem Land, following two women who hope to reclaim 60,000 years of birthing culture from the stronghold of Western medicine, by working with community to pilot the training of djäkamirr- the caretakers of pregnancy and birth, below.

Cultural safety and humility program

The values and beliefs of those who provide healthcare to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities is a central area of study in Congress of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Nurses and Midwives (CATSINaM) ground-breaking Murra Mullangari program. The first Indigenous-developed Cultural Safety program for nursing and midwifery to also include Cultural Humility has been a very long journey, according to CATSINaM CEO Professor Roianne West, who said Elders and ancestors had for five decades been calling for education that took into account colonial power structures.

“It’s the very first time a program like this has been done outside of the university sector and a program that really sets the standard for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and Cultural Safety education. It adds the additional dimension that’s unique to CATSINaM, and that the aspect of Cultural Humility,” Professor West said. Murra Mullangari means “the pathway to wellbeing” and is a term gifted to CATSINaM by Aunty Dr Matilda Williams-House, a Ngambri-Ngunnawal Elder and CATSINaM Matriarch.

Clinically safe practice in nursing and midwifery is not possible without cultural safe practice Professor West said during the webinar (see below) to launch Murra Mullangari: Introduction to Cultural Safety and Cultural Humility e-learning program. You can read the full Croakey Health Media article here.

iSISTAQUIT supports pregnant women

Indigenous people experience a disproportionate burden of disease due to high tobacco smoking rates, a legacy of colonisation and government sanctioned policies where rations of tobacco were widely distributed to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. In pregnancy, 44% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women smoke, compared to 12% of non-Indigenous mothers. Although Indigenous women are motivated to quit smoking to protect their unborn child, they typically receive inadequate health provider support to quit.

iSISTAQUIT provides wrap-around support for pregnant Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women who are wanting to quit smoking. It involves a model of care designed with culturally appropriate and national best practice training informed from previous studies. iSISTAQUIT provides free, online training for health providers in smoking cessation methods and educational resources for pregnant women. Having culturally thought out approaches with assisting women to quit smoking through a pathway of support, helps Indigenous women navigate health and wellbeing systems safely. Building on the research their team has been undertaking over the last seven years, the project is now leading a nationwide scale up of iSISTAQUIT. The ISISTAQUIT team is a multi-disciplinary team of doctors, researchers, communicators, community engagement specialists and students. Quitting smoking is a process that is hard to do alone. Getting support and help from different places can increase a person’s changes to become smoke-free.

To read the full Croakey Health Media article click here and access the iSISTAQUIT website here.

tile image of 2 Aboriginal mums & babies, text 'iSISTAQUIT'

Image source: iSISTAQUIT website.

First Nations Youth and Justice System

Transforming Indigenous Mental Health and Wellbeing (TIMHWB) have produced a Fact Sheet: First Nations Youth and the Justice System, an executive summary of the article ‘First Nations peoples and the law’ by Milroy and colleagues 2021. The headings in the fact sheet include: Historical and Contemporary Context; The Australian Context; and Ways Forward. The Fact Sheet highlights three quotes from the Milroy article:

  • “We suggest that young people ending up in the criminal justice system represents a failure of other systems to properly identify and provide support and effective interventions across development.”
  • “We are imprisoning traumatised, developmentally compromised, and disadvantaged young people, where imprisonment itself adds to the re-traumatisation and complexity of supporting rehabilitation and recovery.”
  • “Ideally, the way forward would include prevention, early intervention and comprehensive clinical and community intervention should a child or young person encounter the youth justice system.”

To download the Fact Sheet click here.

Non-GP Specialist Trainee Support Program

The Australian Indigenous Doctors’ Association (AIDA) has secured funding to implement a unique and comprehensive program. the Non-GP Specialist Trainee Support Program (AIDA STSP) to support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander non-GP specialist trainees.

“The STSP will be the first Indigenous-led initiative established to provide peer and collegiate support to non-GP doctors in training, with the goal to increasing numbers into training programs and supporting them through the program so that we see high success rates of graduation.” – Ms Monica Barolits-McCabe, CEO AIDA.

Interviews can be arranged upon request. Please contact the communications team via email on here or call Wendy Wakwella on 0426 169 109. To streamline the interview process, we ask that you please complete the interview request e-form available here, prior to contacting the communications team.

To read the AIDA’s media release in full click here.

Kiara Peacock is a trainee Aboriginal Health Worker in Darwin. Photo: Emilia Terzon, ABC News.

AMA wants tax on sugary soft drinks

The AMA says with polling consistently highlighting health is a top concern for voters, next week’s Federal Budget is the last chance for Government to demonstrate it is serious about addressing the health system’s significant strains and logjams. As part of Australia’s prevention agenda, the AMA is calling for tax on sugary soft drinks to help tackle obesity and other preventable chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and some cancers.

In comments made in 2018, on the priorities for inclusion in the 2018-2023 Implementation Plan for the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan AMSANT said a tax on sugar has been shown to be effective in reducing consumption and is projected to lead to the biggest health gains, particularly for people on the lowest incomes. Similarly NACCHO proposed in its 2021–22 Pre-Budget Submission that the Commonwealth introduce a 20% tax on sugar-sweetened beverages, with the revenue accrued redirected back into a subsidy on fresh fruit and vegetables back into communities where the impact is greatest.

You can view the AMA’s media release in full here.

Image source: The Guardian.

LGBTQA+ mental health and wellbeing project

Walkern Katatdjin is a national research project that aims to understand and promote the mental health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer/Questioning, Asexual + young people, and to work with services to develop appropriate interventions. There is very little locally-specific information and guidance available for services that work with young people on how best to support someone who is both Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander and identifies as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, or Asexual (LGBTQA+). This means that young people (14-25 years) who are Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and LGBTQA+ may not receive the same level of social support and health care as other members of the community.

Young people who are Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and LGBTQA+ may be at increased risk of poor social emotional wellbeing and increased mental health difficulties, but there is very little research currently. This is an opportunity for researchers to talk to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and LGBTQA+ young people to: understand their mental health needs and social emotional wellbeing, and work with local health services to develop interventions that Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander and LGBTQA+ young people say will support them.

You can take part in the National Survey of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander LGBTQA+ young people’s mental health and social emotional wellbeing if you are: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander; LGBTQA+ (you don’t have to be ‘out’); and 14 – 25 years old.

You can read the Participant Study Information Letter here and some of the important information here. You can access the Walkern Katatdjin Rainbow Knowledge website here which includes a link to the survey.

cartoon image of Aboriginal woman midriff top, trans Aboriginal man & Aboriginal woman holding hands of each other, Aboriginal man with gay pride flag, text 'Walkern Katatdjin Rainbow Knowledge' & chalk like lines red, yellow, white, green, dark blue/purple

Artwork by Shakyrrah Beck. Image source: Walkern Katatdjin Rainbow Knowledge website.

New process for job advertising

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

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

Australasian Viral Hepatitis Conference

The Australasian Viral Hepatitis face-to-face Conference from Sunday 29 ­– Tuesday 31 May 2022 will be a forum with the aim of supporting the health workforce, government and community to work towards the elimination of hepatitis B and hepatitis C and support the communities living with these conditions in Australia, NZ and the Asia and Pacific regions.

To access further information about the conference, to register and submit a late submission click here.

Late Breaker Abstract Submission Deadline: Monday 27 March 2022

Early Bird Registration Deadline: Monday 27 March 2022

Accommodation Deadline: 10 April 2022

Standard Registration Deadline: 1 May 2022

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Aboriginal-led initiatives, solutions the answer

Image in feature tile: Pat Turner AM, CEO NACCHO, Lead Convenor of The Coalition of Peaks. Photo: Jamila Toderas. Image source: The Australian.

Aboriginal-led initiatives, solutions the answer

The Close the Gap report released today has called for an urgent investment in community-led health services to improve health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. NACCHO strongly supports the messages, the actions taken and the recommendations that need to be addressed to drive health transformation.

NACCHO CEO and Lead Convenor of the Coalition of Peaks, Pat Turner states, “We already know that policy and programs that are led by our people work better for our people and that comprehensive structural reform is needed to ensure equitable outcomes for our people. These are things we’ve been telling the government for decades, and it’s about time they took note of the evidence that this report demonstrates – that Aboriginal-led initiatives and locally-led solutions work.

“Key data show that the gap in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’s health is profound. It is hardly surprising that we live 8-9 years less than other Australians.

“The big questions for all governments and all jurisdictions are in closing the funding gap in health and in fixing the deplorable state of Aboriginal housing.”

“Fully implementing the National Agreement on Closing the Gap will be critical to ensuring structural reform that embeds Aboriginal self-determination and leadership. That means increased investment in models and approaches that are self-determined and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander led. It also means ensuring the health system more broadly is equipped to provide flexible, culturally safe and place-based care across the whole life course.”

“We are already seeing some movement from governments to implement the four Priority Reforms, which is encouraging. But there is still a significant way to go before Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have decision-making power over the policies and programs that affect us.

The 2022 Close the Gap campaign report will be available for the public to read and is accessible here.

To view the NACCHO media release in full click here.

banner with image of NACCHO CEO Pat Turner & quotes re CTG report

Photo: Jamila Toderas. Image source: The Australian.

ACCHO health service for prisoners

The Winnunga Alexander Maconochie Centre Health and Wellbeing Service (AMCHWS) is the first prison health service operated by an ACCHO in Australia. A pilot study has developed and implemented a patient experience survey to evaluate the novel model of healthcare delivered by the Winnunga AMCHWS to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander prisoners.

Patients accessing the Winnunga AMCHWS between February and May 2020 were invited to participate in the study. Descriptive data were analysed and compiled for demographics, patient satisfaction, patient perception of care quality, cultural safety, and patient thoughts on the Winnunga AMCHWS.

Sixteen of 26 eligible patients participated in the survey (62% response rate). At least 75% of patients were satisfied with the waiting time to see staff at the Winnunga AMCHWS most or all of the time. All 16 patients reported that Winnunga AMCHWS staff always treated them with dignity and respect. Of 14 patients who identified as Aboriginal, nine felt that they were treated better by staff because of their Aboriginal identity while the other five felt their Aboriginal identity made no difference to their treatment by the staff.

This patient experience survey of the Winnunga AMCHWS found that it has provided highly satisfactory, timely, respectful, and culturally safe care to patients. Due to the limitations of this study, continual evaluation of the Winnunga AMCHWS and future studies to evaluate the continuity of care, health, and re-offending rates of released patients are needed to fully evaluate the Winnunga AMCHWS model.

You can view the Evaluating Patient Experience at a Novel Health Service for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Prisoners: A Pilot Study article that appeared in the Journal of the Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet here.

view of front of AMC

Alexander Maconochie Centre. Photo: Kathleen Dyett. Image source: ABC News.

National Close the Gap Day

Australia’s peak Indigenous and non-Indigenous health bodies, NGOs and human rights organisations are working together to achieve equality in health and life expectancy for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. The Close the Gap Campaign aims to close the health and life expectancy gap between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and non-Indigenous Australians within a generation. The campaign is built on evidence that shows significant improvements in the health status of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples can be achieved by 2030.

In February 2018 the Close the Gap: 10 Year Review was released. The review examines why Australian governments have not succeeded in closing the health gap, and why they will not succeed by 2030 if the current course continues. The aim is to close the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health gap by implementing a human rights based approach to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health.

In 2007, the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) set measurable targets to track and assess developments in the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders. These targets include achieving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health equality within a generation and halving the mortality rate gap for children under five years old within a decade. In March 2008, the then Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd and the Opposition Leader at that time, Brendan Nelson, signed the Close the Gap Statement of Intent at the Close the Gap Campaign’s National Indigenous Health Equality Summit.

The Close the Gap Statement of Intent is the touchstone of the Close the Gap campaign. When the Australian Government signed the Statement of Intent it committed to a sound, evidence-based path to achieving health equality, a path supported by the entire Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health sector.

To access the Australian Human Rights Commission website click here.

screenshot of Close the Gap new website home page

Community-led health solutions need funding

The Close the Gap campaign has called for an urgent investment in community-led health services to improve health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples across the country. The 2022 Close the Gap Report: Transforming Power – Voices for Generational Change has 12 recommendations for large scale transformation and systemic reform to avoid further preventable deaths and protect Indigenous health, wellbeing, culture, and Country.

These include the full implementation of the Uluru Statement from the Heart and 2020 National Agreement on Closing the Gap plans, investment in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander-led data development at the local level and the development of an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander-led research agenda for health and wellbeing, with a particular focus on the impacts of systemic racism in health systems.

To read the Close The Gap media release in full click here.

Darryl Wright, CEO. Tharawal Aboriginal Corporation, Airds, NSW

Darryl Wright, CEO. Tharawal Aboriginal Corporation, Airds, NSW.

Impact of jailing children unfathomable

The Royal Australasian College of Physicians (RACP) says the age of criminal responsibility must be raised to 14 years to end the jailing of mostly Indigenous primary-aged children, warning incarceration is harming their mental health. The college is part of a Close the Gap campaign and supports their report released today calling for urgent investment in community-led Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health services.

Professor Ngiare Brown, a Yuin nation woman and National Mental Health Commissioner, said about 600 children under the age of 14 were jailed every year despite “substantial evidence showing the detrimental and long-term effects” on physical and mental health. “The fact that Indigenous children account for 65% of youth incarcerations is a harrowing statistic,” Professor Brown, who chairs the RACP’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Committee, said. “The human impact of this is unfathomable.”

RACP President Professor John Wilson called on governments to follow the recommendations of the 2021 Close the Gap report to take a preventative and rehabilitative approach. “We are calling for all Australian states and territories to address the incarceration of Indigenous children and raise the age of criminal responsibility to 14 years in line with the best health evidence,” Professor Wilson said.

To view the Brisbane Times article in full click here.

Aboriginal hands gripping mesh wire

Image source: The Conversation.

$140m to improve health services for mob

Health Minister Greg Hunt and Minister for Indigenous Australians Ken Wyatt released a joint media statement today saying:  National Close the Gap Day, is a day to reflect on the gap in health and wellbeing outcomes between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and other Australians. All of us can contribute to closing the gap by working together to recognise and address the factors behind the health gap.

To continue to improve the health and wellbeing of Indigenous communities, a $140 million major capital works program is being opened tomorrow for Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services (ACCHS) to build, buy or renovate health clinics and staff housing. The Major Capital Program grant opportunity complements the recent Service Maintenance Program grant opportunity which was for repairs, maintenance and minor upgrades. Minister Wyatt said “For the first time, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations, communities and people will become genuine partners in efforts to support their mental and physical health. The National Agreement on Closing the Gap, reached in July 2020 between the Commonwealth, all state and territory governments, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peak bodies, and the Australian Local Government Association, was an historic step forward. “Through the agreement, in health and other areas of government service, we are working with Indigenous experts to design and deliver policies and programs for indigenous people.”

“We are also adopting more effective, better targeted approaches to other major health issues for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.” Both grant programs were co-designed in partnership with the sector through the national peak body – NACCHO. Lead Convenor of the Coalition of Peaks and NACCHO Ms Pat Turner, said, “NACCHO has advocated for a long time for increased funding for infrastructure for the health sector and this funding supports and recognises the critical role that ACCHS play in the Australian primary health care architecture.”

To view Minister Hunt and Minister Wyatt’s joint media release in full click here.

staff from Orange Aboriginal Medical Service standing in front of OAMS building

Staff from Orange Aboriginal Medical Service. Image source: The International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness website.

Calls to lower bowel screening age

New research led by the Daffodil Centre, a partnership between Cancer Council NSW and the University of Sydney, shows screening Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples for bowel cancer from the age of 45 instead of 50 could reduce bowel cancer death and incidence rates by up to 44% and be cost-effective. The research, published internationally in the Journal of Cancer Policy and conducted by a team from the Daffodil Centre and Wellbeing SA, is the first Australian study to establish the benefits of extending the age range and boosting participation of Australia’s National Bowel Cancer Screening Program.

Lead author Dr Jie-Bin Lew, from the Daffodil Centre’s Gastrointestinal Cancer Policy and Evaluation stream, said the study modelled and compared maintaining the current program age range of 50-74 to lowering the starting age to either 40 or 45. “The benefits in lives saved and cancers prevented were higher if the starting age in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples was lowered to 45 and could also be cost-effective,” Dr Lew said.

“In our analysis, screening Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples from age 45 would reduce bowel cancer mortality rates in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples by 28%, compared to no screening if the current participation rate of 23% is maintained. If participation increased to 42%, bowel cancer mortality could drop by 44% compared to no screening.

To view The National Tribune article in full click here.

Photo: Andreas Smetana.

PHMSS Mental Health Studies mentors needed

The Puggy Hunter Memorial Scholarship Scheme (PHMSS) would like to extend the opportunity for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health professionals, to participate in the PHMSS Mental Health Studies Mentoring Program as a mentor.

The mentoring program pairs PHMSS scholarship recipients (within the mental health discipline) with more experienced First Nations practitioners with the aim of increasing entrance and retention of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mental health professionals into practice. It will do this by supporting the students to complete their studies and transition successfully into practice.

The benefits for participants in a mentoring program include: improved confidence, self-awareness, clearer career direction, better communication skills, listening skills, feedback skills, more assertive communication, and enhanced management skills.

During the program, you will receive frequent communications from the scholarships team, giving you helpful tips and information about mentoring and access to other relevant materials available for supporting mentees. For first-time mentors and those who would like a refresher, there is an online training program and relevant materials available to help prepare you for a mentoring relationship.

During the seven month program, mentors and mentees will be expected to be in contact at least monthly.

You can apply now by clicking here. ACN will be holding an online information session Monday 4 April 2022, full details will be uploaded here soon.

If you have any questions or would like further information, please contact the ACN scholarships team by email here or call 1800 688 628.

New process for job advertising

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

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

World Oral Health Day

The World Dental Federation began World Oral Health Day in 2007 with the aim to bring together the world of Dentistry to achieve good oral health for everyone. World Oral Health Day aims to empower people with the knowledge, tools, and confidence to secure good oral health. On the 20 March each year the world is asked to come together to help reduce oral diseases which affect individuals, healthcare providers and economies everywhere.

Oral diseases are a major health concern for many countries and negatively impact people throughout their lives. Oral diseases lead to pain and discomfort, social isolation and loss of self-confidence, and they can often be linked to other serious health issues. There is no reason to suffer as most oral health conditions are largely preventable and can be treated in their early stages, this is the message being spread across the world.

For more information about World Oral Health Day click here.

Image source: Quality Compliance Systems website.

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Close the Gap 2022 report launches tomorrow

feature tile text 'Close the Gap Cmpaign Report 2022 - Transforming power: voices for generational change launches tomorrow' & 1972 photo of Aboriginal protestors

Image in feature tile from the Library & Archives NT is of demonstrators protesting for land rights outside the Aboriginal Embassy in Canberra, 20 July 1972.

Close the Gap 2022 report launches tomorrow

The Australian Human Rights Commission and Reconciliation Australia are delighted to invite you to the launch of the 2022 Close the Gap Campaign report “Transforming Power; Voices for generational change”, produced by the Lowitja Institute.

The report showcases Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander led community initiatives, that recognise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leadership, provide genuine opportunities for decision making and that strengthen and embed cultures.

Don’t miss this incredible opportunity to see and hear keynote speakers and panel members talk about how Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and their allies, are working to address health equity and equality.

The report will be launched tomorrow on National Close the Gap Day during the  webinar from 11:30 AM – 1:00 PM AEDT Thursday 17 March 2022. To register for the webinar click here. The webinar is FREE, but registration is essential.

ACCHO partners with Diabetes SA

Towards the end of 2021, Moorundi ACCHS contacted Diabetes SA to arrange for an educator to visit their clinic to service the community in Murray Bridge. This partnership has been positive for both parties.

The local catchment area in Murray Bridge, SA, has a significant Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population, and the rates of diabetes are high. Being a regional area, timely access to Credentialled Diabetes Educators is limited. Moorundi ACCHS identified this gap and reached out to Diabetes SA for assistance. Moorundi has partnered with Diabetes SA to have a Credentialled Diabetes Educator visit the clinic once a month to provide culturally appropriate consultations and education about diabetes. So far, we have had two successful clinics with a third scheduled for March 2022. Together, the aim is to improve the management of diabetes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in Murray Bridge.

To access the Moorundi ACCHS website click here and to access the Diabetes SA website click here.

Moorundi ACCHS staff. Image source: Moorundi ACCHS website.

AMA calls out dumping of PHC 10-year plan

The AMA is calling on the Federal Government to urgently release its Primary Health Care 10-Year Plan, which appears to have been dumped, despite over two years of development and significant input from stakeholders. The Government gave a commitment in October 2019 to develop a national Primary Health Care 10-Year Plan to strengthen and modernise Australia’s primary health care system.

The system has been struggling to cope with an increasing workload as the Australian population ages and people’s health needs become more complex. AMA President Dr Omar Khorshid said the Government’s failure to deliver the reform and support necessary to equip GPs into the future represented a major policy backflip.

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

Image source: Delivering Better Care for Patients: The AMA 10-Year Framework for Primary Care Reform

Family violence surges after floods

Catastrophic flooding in NSW and SE Queensland has led to lost lives, homes, belongings, pets and livelihoods. As the process of cleaning up after the floods continues, we can expect an often unspoken outcome of natural disasters. Domestic violence rates surge during and after bushfires, pandemics, earthquakes, cyclones and floods.

Fear and uncertainty are common during disasters and people’s reactions to disasters vary. In some, these feelings can trigger domestic and other types of violence. The many associated losses related to disasters – including loss of homes and their contents, cars and livelihoods – often cause financial strain, which may also place added pressure on families and relationships.

Grief, loss and trauma can also leave people feeling overwhelmed and test a person’s coping skills. Experiencing life-threatening situations or those that bring about loss and trauma can also lead to mental health issues, such as PTSD. This too, can complicate family dynamics and change people’s ability to cope. Drug and alcohol use often soars during and after disasters, which may also exacerbate tensions in relationships.

When people are displaced and need to stay with other community members or in shelters, the rates of violence against women also rises. In those cases, women and children tend to experience more violence in general, not just domestic violence.

To view The Conversation article in full click here.

A related article looks at the first episode of Taking care for 2022 – a powerful and honest conversation about family violence and the role of health practitioners in helping survivors.

screenshot of Taking care Health practitioners' role in eliminating family violence whooshkaa, 43:12 minutes' & image of two female GPs

Image source: Ahpra & National Boards website.

RANZCO launches vision for eye equity

The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Ophthalmologists (RANZCO) has launched its “vision for 2030 and beyond” that aims to deliver equal and sustainable access to eye care for all. The ambitious plan was described at RANZCO Scientific Congress, a virtual event held from 26 February to 1 March 2022.

In his opening address, RANZCO President Professor Nitin Verma highlighted the importance of sight to general well-being and the impact of eye disease and low vision, including increased dementia, falls, car crashes etc. as well as the economic/financial cost. He said “considerable” inequity of access to eye care across Australia is often the single cause of irreversible, unnecessary and preventable vision loss.

The plan has been launched in response to a request in 2021 from the Federal Minister for Health, for a plan that would close the eye health gap for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, and ensure equitable eye care for all Australians, with the aim of eliminating avoidable visual impairment and blindness. The evidence-based plan looks at the problems RANZCO currently sees in eye healthcare delivery through six key areas of focus: service delivery, workforce and training, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander healthcare, global eye health, preventative healthcare and sustainability.

To view the mivision The Ophthalmic Journal article in full click here. The short film below examines the prevalence of eye problems among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Impacts of racism on health and wellbeing

The Australian Government Office of the National Rural Health Commissioner (ONRHC) has issued a Position Statement: impacts of racism on the health and wellbeing of Indigenous Australians. The key points of the statement include:

There is strong evidence of the impact of racism and barriers to accessing health services for Indigenous people negatively impacting a range of health outcomes for Indigenous people irrespective of geography
• Racism negatively impacts the attraction, recruitment, retention and leadership opportunities of the Indigenous health workforce.
• Understanding and addressing racism is a key to increasing the uptake of health services and improving health outcomes.
• Transformational change can only be achieved when Indigenous knowledge and cultures are acknowledged and recognised and services are co-designed with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and organisations.

The statement says the ONRHC will work towards dismantling racism in the health sector by working closely with Indigenous leaders and peak health organisations to advise Governments, medical institutions, colleges and universities to ensure racism is acknowledged and addressed.

You can access the ONRHC Position Statement in full here.

Image source: New Scientist.

Creating equitable access to hearing healthcare

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children have among the highest rates of otitis media and hearing loss in the world – and social determinants of health such as hygiene, nutrition and overcrowding of housing are key risk factors for otits media. From the start of their lives, Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander children experience inequity in hearing health – Indigenous children aged up to 14 years are three times as likely to have otitis media as non-Indigenous children, and are twice as likely to have a long-term ear/hearing problem. Hearing loss can have a catastrophic effect on the lives of Aboriginal children and their families, impacting the life trajectory from childhood development to academic outcomes through to over-representation in the criminal justice system.

Early intervention is critical to diagnosing and treating ear disease and improving the quality of children’s lives. However, despite decades of research demonstrating that early detection and timely intervention are key to diagnosing and treating ear disease in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, not enough progress has been made in providing culturally safe, accessible and equitable hearing health services.

The interview conducted by the Director of the HEAR Centre at Macquarie University, Professor Catherine McMahon, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health leaders, Professor Tom Calma, Professor Kelvin Kong and Associate Professor Boe Rambaldini examined the problems and solutions for creating better, culturally appropriate services to meet the needs of communities where hearing health problems are being neglected.

To read a transcript of the interview click here.

Image source: Macquarie University website.

Hidden e-cigarette dangers awareness campaign

Young people are urged to quit vaping and know the facts and dangers of e-cigarettes, which can contain harmful substances found in cleaning products, nail polish remover, weed killer and bug spray. NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard and Minister for Education and Early Learning Sarah Mitchell have launched Get the Facts – Vaping Toolkit and NSW Health awareness campaign.

The campaign, which is aimed at secondary students, reminds parents, carers, young people and teachers vaping is not safe and can have harmful, long-term effects to the physical and brain development of young people. Minister Hazzard said that research has proven that e-cigarettes are just as addictive and harmful as regular cigarettes. “It makes it pretty obvious as to the harm it can cause to youngsters’ lungs.”

Many vapes contain nicotine, some at extremely high concentrations, even if they are not labelled as such, and evidence suggests they can lead to a lifelong nicotine addiction. NSW Health has worked with the NSW Department of Education to develop the Vaping Toolkit, which contains evidence-based resources and educational materials for parents, carers, young people and schools, to combat the rising number of children and young people who are trying or taking up vaping.

To view The Pulse article in full click here and the NSW Government NSW Health Do you know what you’re vaping? website page here.

Image source: The Guardian.

New process for job advertising

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

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

Primary Care COVID-19 update

The latest in the series of COVID-19 vaccine updates for Primary Care, providing the latest information on the vaccine rollout will now be held from 11:30 AM – 12:00 PM (AEDT) Thursday 17 March 2022.

The panel this week will be Australian Government Department of health staff, Professor Michael Kidd AM (Chair), Deputy Chief Medical Officer and Dr Lucas de Toca, First Assistant Secretary, COVID-19 Primary Care Response, and Professor Nigel Crawford, Chair, Vaccine Safety, Special Risk Group, Austrlaian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation, who will discuss updates on vaccines and the new COVID-19 oral anti-viral medications.

GPs and all health professionals are welcome to attend the webinar and can join using this link. If you’re unable to view this webinar live, you can view it on-demand using the same link, within a few hours of the live stream ending.

banner DoH Primary Care COVID-19 update Dep CMO - image of DCMO & COVID-19 virus cell