NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: NACCHO CEO fully vaccinated today

feature tile text 'ACCHO CEO Pat Turner AM receives seond dose of COVID-19 vaccine TODAY' phot of Pat Turner at Winnunga

NACCHO CEO fully vaccinated today

Our NACCHO CEO Pat Turner AM, the daughter of an Arrente man and a Gurdanji woman, is fully vaccinated today!

Pat received her second dose of her vaccine at Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health and Community Services earlier today and urges all of you to follow up on your second dose of the vaccine in order to safely receive the level of protection from COVID-19.

“Please get your COVID-19 shots! It’s not just important for us as individuals but it’s important for all members of our families and our communities. The more people have the vaccination the safer we will be.

It doesn’t matter if you already have existing health conditions, don’t use that as an excuse not to have the COVID-19 vaccine. In fact it’s more important that you do have it! Any concerns that you have you must talk to the doctor at our health services.”

photo of Pat Turner, NACCHO CEO, receiving COVID-19 vaccine at Winnunga with text 'Pat Turner AM CEO, NACCHO' & COVID-19 VACCINATION footer with NACCHO logo

Diabetes Australia partners with ACCHO

Diabetes Australia is partnering with Carbal Medical Services (Carbal), a Toowoomba and Warwick based Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health organisation, to reduce diabetes-related vision loss and blindness in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people on the Darling Downs. The Diabetes Australia – Carbal partnership involves the promotion of the national eye screening initiative for people with diabetes KeepSight. KeepSight is an eye check reminder program run by Diabetes Australia which encourages people with diabetes to have regular eye checks. The program will use locally developed, culturally appropriate resources and information.

To help raise awareness of this important program Diabetes Australia has partnered with Indigenous Hall of Fame star and Gamilaroi man Roger Knox. Roger is asking people to register with KeepSight to reduce their risk of diabetes-related blindness.

You can read more about the project here and sign up for KeepSight at here and never lose sight of future eye checks.

You can also access the Diabetes Australia and Carbal Medical Services joint media release herel.

country singer Roger Knox standing in front of Carbal Medical Services sign

Country singer Roger Knox.

Australia’s human rights response disappointing

Amnesty International Australis says the Australian Government’s decision to ignore key recommendations from UN member states aimed at improving its human rights record is extremely disappointing. The recommendations, made at the UN Human Rights Council’s review of Australia earlier this year, found that 31 countries called for the Government to raise the minimum age of criminal responsibility, while 47 wanted Australia to stop offshore processing and mandatory detention of asylum seekers and refugees.

Amnesty International Australia is deeply disappointed the Australian Government has rejected both these recommendations and calls on it to immediately review its position. National Director, Samantha Klintworth, said: “In 2019–20, 499 children aged between 10 and 13 years were detained by Australia in the youth justice system – 65% of those children detained were First Nations children – even though First Nations children constitute only 5% of the population of that age.

To view Amnesty International’s media release click here.

The Law Council of Australia has also commented on this topic: “Australia’s appearance at the UN Human Rights Council on Thursday 8 July, in which a formal response to the recommendations received during the third cycle Universal Periodic Review (UPR) will be presented, puts a spotlight on Indigenous rights during NAIDOC Week.

The Law Council of Australia believes that it is imperative that First Nations peoples are heard on the issues that affect them, particularly at the federal level, and calls on Australia to enshrine a First Nations Voice to Parliament in the Constitution; take immediate measures to address the overincarceration of First Nations peoples; and raise the minimum age of criminal responsibility to at least 14 years. The Law Council urges the Australian Government to clearly commit to the constitutional entrenchment of the Voice, as called for in the Uluru Statement from the Heart and the subsequent recommendations of the Referendum Council.”

To view the Law Council of Australia’s media statement click here.

Image source: Amnesty International.

Hearing Australia unites with First Nations people

This NAIDOC Week Hearing Australia is uniting with First Nations people across Australia to help heal Country and the hearing health of Frist Nations children. Kim Terrell, the Managing Director of Hearing Australia said: “Hearing Australia is dedicated to improving the hearing health of all Australians and preventing avoidable hearing loss in the community.

1 in 3 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children are affected by ear disease and hearing loss⁺. With the support of many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health services across Australia, we’ve helped over 8,000 First Nations children aged 0–6 in 240 communities over the past 12 months. This is a key priority for us given 30% of these children had undiagnosed middle ear infections, while 25% had some form of undiagnosed hearing loss and were placed into specialist referral pathways.

I’d like to thank the amazing ear health workers involved around the country for their support. It’s terrific for us to be able to work so closely with them. Together, we’re seeing great progress in helping more children to listen, learn and talk.”

To view Hearing Australia’s press release click here and to listen to HAPEE Community Engagement Program Officer Denise Newman, who knows from personal experience the importance of checking children’s hearing at an early age and has an important to message to share with the community click on the video link below.

New Indigenous medical scholarships

A $1million gift from generous benefactors to Flinders University will establish an Indigenous student scholarship to increase the numbers of medically qualified Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander professionals working in their communities. The Calthorpe Wong Indigenous Medical Scholarship has been established through the generosity of retired ophthalmologists Mary Calthorpe and George Wong, who previously worked at the Flinders Medical Centre, the Repatriation General Hospital at Daw Park and the Marion Road Eye Clinic.

The endowed gift donation is expected to provide $80,000 annually to fund up to four scholarships each to the value of up to $20,000 in an academic year (or in future years a mix of new and ongoing scholarships) to assist Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander candidates to study medicine.

Flinders University Vice-Chancellor Professor Colin Stirling says it’s especially fitting that the scholarship has been made possible during NAIDOC Week: “We’re incredibly grateful to Drs Calthorpe and Wong for their determination to make a difference in this practical and meaningful way. It’s a deeply significant moment to be able to initiate a new scholarship that will be able to support so many Indigenous students simultaneously.”

To view the Flinders University media release here.

Associate Professor Simone Tur, George Wong, Mary Calthorpe, Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Indigenous) at Flinders University

Associate Professor Simone Tur, George Wong, Mary Calthorpe, Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Indigenous) at Flinders University.

CTG PBS Co-payment changes positive

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients registered under the Close the Gap (CTG) Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) Co-payment program will now have easier access to subsidised medicines. Changes that came into effect on 1 July 2021 mean eligible patients will have access regardless of their geographical location, their chronic disease status, or whether their prescriber is enrolled in the Practice Incentive Program.

Professor Peter O’Mara, Wiradjuri man and Chair of RACGP Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health, welcomed the changes as a ‘positive step forward’. ‘Expanding access to Close the Gap scripts for all patients regardless of where they live, where they got the prescription from and their chronic disease status will make a real difference,’ he said. ‘It is much more straightforward and that can only be a good thing.’

A centralised patient registration database has been developed to support the changes. Managed by Services Australia, the database allows for a one-off registration of patients via Health Professional Online Services (HPOS) and will cover the patient even if they move to a different clinic.

To view the newsGP article in full click here.

Chair of RACGP Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health, Prof Peter O’Mara standing at a lectern,

Chair of RACGP Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health, Prof Peter O’Mara, Welcomes the fact ‘the process has been made simpler and less centralised’. Image source: newsGP.

First Peoples Health camp for teens

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander high school students experienced a taste of university life and learned about possible allied health careers at Griffith University’s First Peoples Health (FPH) Aspiration to Health Programs Camp. In all, 19 students from grades 10–12 attended the three-day immersive camp, hosted by FPH in partnership with The Institute of Urban Indigenous Health (IUIH).

FPH Engagement Lead Chris Levinge said the camp showed students how people from all backgrounds could succeed at university and specifically, in the health sector. “We want to encourage the students to study a health program, as the evidence is already there that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people delivering health services, get better health outcomes for First Peoples,” Mr Levinge said.

“The camp is a really good way to bring the kids in so they can feel comfortable in a university setting and see for themselves that anyone can study here. You just need to work hard and find what you are passionate about learning in the health space.” IUIH academy manager Tracy Hill said the students were already completing a school-based traineeship for a Certificate III in Allied Health Assistance.

To view the article in full click here.

National Pancreatic Cancer Roadmap update

Cancer Australia has released the second Roadmap Construction Update on the development of the National Pancreatic Cancer Roadmap. The National Pancreatic Cancer Roadmap will identify key priority areas for action over the next five years to improve outcomes for people with pancreatic cancer. In focus for this update are the literature review, mapping of treatment and care against the Optimal Care Pathway, and the analysis of characteristics of people with pancreatic cancer activities.

You can visit and interact with an infographic here.

“NACCHO continues to engage with Cancer Australia and other stakeholders on the Pancreatic Cancer Roadmap. If you have specific feedback or comments you would like to share please contact NACCHO Medical Advisor Dr Kate Armstrong here.

banner text 'National Pancreatic Cancer Roadmap - have your say about pancreatic cancer' purple footer, yellow, orange, blue, green top half

New process for job advertising

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

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

National Diabetes Week

This National Diabetes Week ‘it’s about time’ we all took the time. That means it’s about time we took the time to learn the 4Ts, the early warning signs of type 1 diabetes. It also means it’s about time we took the time to get checked for type 2 diabetes.

Life is busy. Work, family, friends, chores, a social life. The days fill up quickly. Sometimes we’re so busy running around after everyone else, we don’t take the time to think about our health.

For many Australians, putting themselves at the bottom of their ‘to do list’ puts their health at risk. This could include being diagnosed with diabetes too late. This is true for both type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Not making time for yourself, or time to learn the early warning signs, can put you at risk of major life-threatening health problems. Both types of diabetes are more common than you think.

Take the time. You’re important, your family is important and it’s really important, we don’t waste any more time. It’s about time.

Did you know diabetes…

  • Is the leading cause of blindness in working age adults?
  • Is a leading cause of kidney failure?
  • Is the leading cause of preventable limb amputations?
  • Increase a person’s risk of heart attacks and stroke by up to four times?

It’s about time you made ‘me time’, took time out and put you first. There is no time to lose. The earlier type 2 diabetes is detected,  the more lives will be saved.  

For more information on National Diabetes Week click here.

vector image in navy, blue & white of alarm clock & text 'diabetes australia'

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Culture and Country important to health

feature tile text 'culture and country critically important to health and wellbeing' & side on portrait photo of Jessica Lovett-Murray Gunditjmara & Yorta Yorta woman

Culture and Country important to health

Dr Janine Mohamed, a Narungga Kaurna woman and CEO of the Lowitja Institute, and her colleague Nicole Bowman, a Wiradjuri woman and senior policy advisor at the Institute have written an article for Croakey Health Media titled Heal Country – at timely call for action and justice. They congratulate the National NAIDOC Committee for the 2021 NAIDOC theme, Heal Country! saying this year’s theme is a timely reminder for all Australians about the importance of greater climate action and what Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ wisdom, knowledges and practices can offer our collective efforts for climate justice.

To heal Country, we also need to understand the importance of culture and Country to our health and wellbeing.

Dr Ray Lovett’s work on the cultural determinants of health, through Mayi Kuwayu: the National Study of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Wellbeing tells us why this is critical. It is showing clearly how being unable to express our culture has negatively affected our health and wellbeing. It also tells us – and it’s a message for all Australians – that if we take care of Country, Country takes care of us.

To view the article in full click here.

Aboriginal woman cross-legged drawing in riverbed sand for 3 young Aboriginal children

Image source: Broadsheet website. Feature tile image: Jessica Lovett-Murray Gunditjmara & Yorta Yorta woman. Image source: Mayi Kuwayu The National Study of Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Wellbeing.

ACCHO’s new health and wellbeing centre

Yerin Eleanor Duncan Aboriginal Health Services recently bought the now vacant Japara aged care facility in Mardi, with plans to transform it into a health and wellbeing centre. The new centre will house all services, except the dental clinic, currently available at the Yerin Eleanor Duncan Aboriginal Health Service in Wyong.

CEO, Belinda Field, said the purchase was self-determining and hoped the fit-out of the new centre would be complete in two years. Yerin’s Business Manager, Paul Hussein, said it would be an advantage to the community, allowing the organisation to expand their services. “We will be relocating our staff to the new facility, this includes our general practice, mental health clinic and our drug and alcohol clinic,” he said. “We’ll also have our family preservation program, our recently acquired homeless support program, as well as our NDIS community programs at the new centre.”

Hussein said that the largest obstacle so far was acquiring funding to complete the move, which he expects will cost between $2m and $3m. “We’re looking for support to help fund this move,” he said. “We’re currently going through the development application process and we’re working with the local state and federal Members of Parliament, and the State Government will put in a bit too. “We’re excited to get the new centre up and running as a lot of people know the Japara aged care home and have had family members live there.”

To view the article in full click here.banner text 'Yerin Eleanor Duncan Aboriginal Health Services' & Aboriginal dot painting yellow purple concentric circles surrounded by spokes-like border

Lethal gaps in remote health services

When Dr Seema Basil started work as a GP at Mawarnkarra Health Service in Roebourne (Ieramagadu, in the local Ngarluma language), a small community in WA’s north-west, just over seven years ago, there was an effective support system in place for former inmates of the local prison. Two staff members at Mawarnkarra, an ACCHO, were dedicated to supporting people who had been released from Roebourne Regional Prison, which is on the outskirts of the small town, more than 1,500 kilometres north of Perth.

The program was funded by the WA Country Health Service under the Footprints to Better Health Program. Dr Basil said “It was really useful because when you got a discharge summary, you could engage the team to go and reach out to this person. Fast forward to 2021 and program is no longer funded. Funding was discontinued in 2015 after the Holeman Report, an external review of WA’s State-funded Aboriginal Health Programs.” For the tiny rural community this lack of support seems particularly unjust, with more than 75% of people in Roebourne Regional Prison identifying as Aboriginal.

It was here, in 1983, that a 16-year-old Yindjibarndi boy, John Pat, died, sparking the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody (RCIADIC), which handed down its findings 30 years ago. One of the Commission’s critical recommendations was that Aboriginal Health Services be included in health planning decisions in prisons.

To read the article in full click here.

large sign at Melbourne RCIADIC 30 Years rally text '28.9.83 John Pat 16 assaulted by 5 drunk policy...'

Ongoing calls for justice on deaths in custody, including the 1983 death of John Pat in Ieramagadu (Roebourne). Photo from a Melbourne #RCIADIC30Years rally by Marie McInerney. Image source: Croakey Health Media.

Mental health treatments not working

A University of Queensland study is calling for changes to the way depression is treated in Indigenous communities in Australia. UQ Rural Clinical School researcher Dr. Bushra Nasir said the research has found that current treatments for Indigenous Australians are not working.

“Mainstream treatment models fail to incorporate the Indigenous understanding of mental health,” Dr. Nasir said. “Our results show that treating depression in Indigenous communities should extend beyond just clinical approaches. Retaining culture, spiritual beliefs, autonomy and a connection to Country will have a significant impact on improving Indigenous mental health and wellbeing.”

Dr. Nasir said there’s also emerging evidence of the link between health and Indigenous connections to traditional grounds. “Culture and identity were found to be central towards perceptions of health and wellbeing of Indigenous Australians, not just individually, but as a community,” she said. “Rates of mental disorders for those residing on Country have been identified as about half of those in mainstream communities.

To read the article in full click here.

vector image yellow background, Aboriginal male side view hand to face, back of head shattering

Image source: UQ News website.

Public health measure looks like profiling

Health and human rights leaders have expressed alarm at the NSW’s decision to send in police to ensure COVID-19 restriction compliance in south-western Sydney, when no such action was taken in the more well-heeled eastern suburbs where the outbreak began.

Policing in the pandemic has targeted culturally and linguistically diverse communities, many of whom already have lived experience of profiling, trauma and oppression at the hands of law enforcement. Now, as Sydney battles to stop the spread of COVID-19, we are seeing an asserted escalation of police presence in some of Sydney’s most culturally and linguistically diverse communities.

According to Dr Tessa Boyd-Caine, CEO, Health Justice Australia and a criminologist who works with health and legal assistance services across Australia we can’t ignore the resounding lesson from the pandemic – public health messages, backed up by culturally appropriate services, improve access to healthcare and, through that, improved health outcomes.

We need public debate to recognise the inequities that lead to disproportionate impacts of the pandemic. We need health, social and economic policies to address the underlying drivers of these inequities, from poor quality housing to insecure work. Until then, policing compliance of public health measures is likely to alienate and isolate communities at a time we need trust and connectedness the most.

GP Dr Tim Senior added “If the police are your language and communication channel for public health messaging, then you are speaking the wrong language and using the wrong channel for public health messaging.”

To view the article in full click here.

screenshot of side view of 3 masked police officers at hard lockdown of Melbourne public housing towers July 2020

Screenshot from coverage of police presence at the hard lockdown of Melbourne public housing towers in July 2020. Image source: Croakey Health Media.

Strong Mob Health Awareness Campaign

Hunter Primary Care has created an exciting new health awareness campaign, titled ‘Strong Mob’. The campaign is directed at Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth to encourage young mob to visit a clinic once a year for a  health check, also known in the medical profession as the ‘715 health check’.

The campaign features a series of videos and posters of four key Aboriginal influencers, Kobie Dee, BIRDZ, Naomi Wenitong and Dr Joel Wenitong (The Last Kinection), who are well-established in the Australian Aboriginal hip-hop music scene. These influencers share their personal stories in regard to the importance of their health and wellbeing, their connection to country, culture and community. The Strong Mob campaign has been launched across social media sites Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Snapchat and YouTube.

Supporting ‘Closing the Gap’ initiatives, Strong Mob has been created by young Aboriginal people for young Aboriginal people.  The campaign will aim to increase the numbers of Aboriginal children and youth groups presenting for annual 715 health checks, more specifically, children from 18% to 46% and youth from 17% to 42%, by 2023.

To view the media release full here.

tile text 'Get Your Health Check. Kobie Dee supports Strong Mob Strongmob.com.au' & side on photo of Kobie Dee facing recording microphone

ATSIEB gives a seat at ACT policy table

As the Commonwealth argues over a voice to Parliament for Indigenous Australians, the ACT’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community is quietly electing the next round of representatives to ATSIEB, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elected Body. ATSIEB was constituted in 2008 and represents all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the Territory, reflecting that in addition to traditional owners, there are many Indigenous people who have come here for education, work and other reasons.

“We are unique in having a voice to government in the ACT,” says Katrina Fanning, the Elected Body’s chair for the last term and a former ACT Australian of the Year. “No other mechanism in Australia has the legislative accountability that we have. A few statutory authorities have narrow, specific areas of influence, but the Elected Body’s role is across the whole of government in the ACT. “We listen to issues in our community, look at what’s happening or not happening and work through a formal agreement and governance arrangements to make the necessary changes.”

Fanning says that ATSIEB has been an important mechanism for giving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people a seat at the policy table in the ACT. In turn, the Elected Body is accountable to its community.

The big picture priorities are around health, wellbeing and education. Important structural changes have been implemented on ATSIEB’s advice, including ensuring that a portion of human services – like out of home care, youth services and drug and alcohol programs – can be delivered by Aboriginal-controlled organisations.

To view the article in full click here.

Katrina Fanning, ATSIEV Chair this term, standing against background of an oval

Katrina Fanning has chaired the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elected Body this term. Image source: RIOTACT! website.

Ceduna clinic a ‘ticking time bomb’

An Aboriginal health service in Ceduna says its government-owned building is a “ticking time bomb” riddled with asbestos and mould, but both the state and federal governments have failed to heed calls for funding to build a new clinic. Yadu Health Aboriginal Corporation says between 30 to 40% of the SA Health-owned building out of which it runs its services is deemed unsafe due to water damage, asbestos and mould.

The ACCHO, which services Ceduna as well as surrounding communities such as Koonibba and Scotdesco in the state’s west, says it has repeatedly raised the building’s dilapidated condition with several state and federal ministers. It says it has applied for multiple government grants to help it fund a new clinic – estimated to cost up to $15 million – but its applications were rejected because it does not own the land and SA Health has until recently only offered short-term leases.

To view the article in full click here.

exterior of Yadu Health AC Ceduna SA

Yadu Health Aboriginal Corporation, Ceduna, SA. Image source: INDAILY Adelaide Independent news.

RACGP award nominations open

It’s time to celebrate excellence in general practice – nominations for the 2021 RACGP Awards are now open. The RACGP Awards celebrate exceptional individuals in Australian general practice for their outstanding achievements and contribution to the health of their community.

RACGP Rural Health Awards

RACGP Rural provides the following awards:

  • Brian Williams Award: awarded to a rural GP
  • Rural GP in Training of the Year Award: awarded to a GP registrar who is currently enrolled in the Fellowship in Advanced Rural General Practice (FARGP) through a Training Organisation (RTO/RVTS)
  • Medical Student Bursary Award: awarded to a medical student who is a member of a rural health students’ club at an Australian university.

RACGP Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Awards

RACGP Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health provides the following awards:

  • Standing Strong Together Award – celebrating partnerships between GPs and communities
  • Growing Strong Award – to support the growth of a current GP in Training
  • Medical student award – to support a current Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander medical student

You can find out more about the awards here and nominate by visiting the RACGP website here.

Nominations will close on Monday 19 July 2021. Please contact us if you have any questions here.

tile text '2021 RACGP Awards Recognising excellence in general practice' RACGP logo & navy background with vector spotlight to right of image

New process for job advertising

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

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

dice spelling JOBS resting on keyboard

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: P4JH fights racism in health and justice sectors

feature tile text'The Partnership for Justice in Health is working to address racism in health and justice sectors' P4JH logo - Aboriginal dot painting black, orange, aqua, yellow circles, Aboriginal hand & Aboriginal figure holding justice scales

P4JH fights racism in health and justice sectors

The Partnership for Justice in Health (P4JH) is working to address racism in the health and justice sectors at individual, institutional and systemic levels, according to its co-chairs, Dr Janine Mohamed, CEO of the Lowitja Institute, and Karl Briscoe, CEO of the National Association of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workers and Practitioners (NAATSIHWP).

Dr Janine Mohamed and Karl Briscoe, both health professionals who have built strong, dedicated careers in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health, healthcare and health research, say what still comes as a shock to many of their non-Indigenous colleagues is that rather than health services being viewed as places of healing and safety, they are too often neither safe nor welcoming for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and for some they are dangerous and fatal.

“The complicity and failures of the health system and professions to care for us goes back to the early days of colonisation. We saw it in medical experimentation and the lock hospitals, the removal of children from their mothers’ arms by nurses and doctors, and in ongoing, systemic abuse and neglect. In recent years, two names speak loudly to how that experience of unsafe healthcare continues for our people.”

“Ms Dhu, a 22-year-old Yamatji woman who died in custody in WA in 2014 because of “deficient” medical care — with the Coroner finding that both police and hospital staff were influenced by their racial bias. And Naomi Williams, a 27-year-old Wiradjuri woman, who was 22 weeks’ pregnant with a son when she died of septicaemia at Tumut Hospital in NSW in January 2016. The coronial inquiry into Ms Williams’ death found she went to hospital 15 times in the months before she passed away without receiving a referral to an expert, and she should have received further examination on the night she passed away. Both she and Ms Dhu died from preventable causes within racially biased systems.”

To view the full Croakey Health Media article click here.

portrait shots of Dr Janine Mohamed & Karl Briscoe

Dr Janine Mohamed. Image source: Concordia College website. Karl Briscoe. Image source: Croakey Health Media website.

Bendigo men supported by mob

Dedicated to supporting First Nations men in their local community, the Bendigo and District Aboriginal Co-operative (BDAC) provides a variety of services to men in their community, including a healing program which supports men who have used family violence. Beginning with funding from Family Safety Victoria in 2018, the program is titled Merrijig Mooroopook, meaning ‘healthy spirits’, a name gifted by Dja Dja Wurrung Elder Uncle Rick Nelson.

With a therapeutic based approach, the 16-week program acknowledges the effect of colonisation and trauma on Aboriginal men who use family violence. It is facilitated by Yorta Yorta man and social worker Jamaal Cross, and Uruguayan man and Men’s Program Coordinator in BDAC’s Family Safety Team Camilo Demarco. “Our programs are always out on Country, we work with Elders and culture is embedded into everything — we always do things around the fire,” Demarco told NIT. “Jamaal and I share as well; we make sure we take away that hierarchy. We’re just another man in that space sharing our own stuff … we move as far away from that classroom setting as we can because there is trauma from spaces like that.”

Both Cross and Demarco acknowledge the 16-week program is just one part of the healing process. “It’s longer than a regular course, and we acknowledge that this can be a life-long journey. You don’t finish the behaviour change course in 16 weeks and expect a man to be totally different … so it is ongoing,” said Demarco. “The last part of our program is for the men during ceremony with the group, and with an Elder present, to state what changes they want to make in their lives and that gives that accountability.

To view the full article click here.

screenshot from BDAC Healthy Spirits video, blurred image of men in bush sitting around a fire, text 'The Healthy Spirit's Program has a whole of community approach that aims to support families on a healing journey.'

Screenshot from BDAC Healthy Spirits video.

Lower limb amputation in Central Australia

Large health inequalities between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Australians exist with Aboriginal Australians currently four times as likely as non-Aboriginal Australians to have type 2 diabetes (T2D), increasing their risk of lower limb amputation (LLA). There is a geographical variance in the incidence of LLA in Australia; the NT is overrepresented, with rates 2–3 times higher than that of the national average. Regional incidence rates are not currently known.

A study has been conducted reviewing the demographic details of those who have undergone LLA surgery in Central Australia and determining the region-specific age-adjusted incidence rate of LLA. Central Australia appears to have the highest incidence rate of LLA for any region in Australia, with Aboriginal Australians, particularly females and those undergoing renal dialysis, being disproportionately represented. Further studies should aim to determine targeted, culturally safe and successful methods of diabetic foot ulcer prevention, early detection and management with a view to reducing the high amputation rates for these cohorts.

To access the Incidence of lower limb amputation in Central Australia research article click here.

hands holding bandaged stump of below knee amputation patient, patient is a man sitting in a wheelchair

Image source: Disability Support Guide website.

Supporting Victorian Aboriginal communities

The Victorian Government has allocated funding for Aboriginal communities to deliver a range of Aboriginal-led initiatives and programs supporting local communities. Minister for Aboriginal Affairs Gabrielle Williams has announced that 30 Aboriginal organisations will share in $4.6 million through the COVID-19 Aboriginal Community Response and Recovery Fund to deliver 35 local initiatives.

The programs will support locally designed initiatives that provide emergency relief, outreach and brokerage for at-risk groups, cultural strengthening, and social and emotional wellbeing. Recipients include the Dhauward-Wurrung Elderly and Community Health Service who have received $85,000 to provide emergency relief to community members experiencing hardship following the coronavirus pandemic.

To view the media release in full click here.

back of worker in hall making up food packages

Image source: Yarra City Council website.

AMA welcomes extra vaccine funding

The Australian Medical Association (AMA) has welcomed the Federal Government announcement of extra funding for longer GP consultations to inform patients of benefits of vaccination against COVID-19 and assist them in making informed decisions. AMA President Dr Omar Khorshid said the announcement by the Minister for Health, Greg Hunt, would allow GPs to spend more time with patients to ensure that they were aware of all the benefits of a COVID-19 vaccination, and boost confidence in the vaccine.

Dr Khorshid said he had been raising the need for doctors to spend more time with patients with the Prime Minister and the Minister for Health for several months, and was pleased with the Government’s announcement of a new level B equivalent Medicare item that could be used in addition to the standard COVID-19 assessment items for patients who require longer consultations.

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

GP in rooms sitting at desk & computer talking to Aboriginal man patient also sitting in a chair

Image source: GP Synergy website.

Corporate Australia must walk the talk

The corporate sector is on notice after a wide-ranging review of Woolworths’ proposal to build a Dan Murphy’s alcohol store in Darwin, commissioned by the company, found it had failed to “adequately consider the issues of social value and legitimacy in the eyes of First Nation’s people”. Among its findings and recommendations, the report called on Woolworths to make sure that future liquor outlet proposals “explicitly consider the social and health impacts on at-risk groups and vulnerable communities” before progressing them. It is noteworthy that the report repeatedly mentions Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as “vulnerable” when this is really a story about the strengths of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations, leaders and communities in campaigning successfully against corporate power.

Olga Havnen, CEO of Danila Dilba Health Service in Darwin which had fought the store proposal for five years, said in a statement that the review’s implications went beyond Dan Murphy’s and Darwin. “This is a landmark decision that will have important implications for the liquor industry and corporate Australia, and government,” Havnen said, describing the report as “an excellent case study into the failures of corporate Australia to walk the talk of corporate social responsibility”.

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

back of businessman in a suit with briefcase walking across black & white striped road

Image source: Croakey.

Deinstitutionalised design for new ACCHO Building

Newman’s Puntukurnu Aboriginal Medical Service healthcare hub has been voted one of the best examples of public architecture in the State at the 2021 WA Architecture Awards this month. NSW-based company Kaunitz Yeung Architecture designed the Newman facility last year with a focus on community ownership and involving local Aboriginal people.

The PAMS healthcare hub was the first primary healthcare facility of any type to be constructed in Newman. Kaunitz Yeung Architecture director and co-founder David Kaunitz said he had called on experience from working with more than 30 Aboriginal communities in building culturally sensitive projects. “What’s most important is that projects like this are well used and well embraced by community,” Mr Kaunitz said.

“We’re dealing with quite traditional Aboriginal communities and it is quite foreboding to go to a health facility. We’re trying to deliver buildings that are deinstitutionalised and really make people feel comfortable going and receiving health care.” Mr Kaunitz said features such as the courtyard, landscaping, rammed earth and the art all play a role in achieving this. “The way the building is planned minimises the internal experience of clients. The waiting room is quite linear, full of glazing and the courtyard serves as a waiting area. The consultation rooms are not far from the waiting area.”

To view the article in full click here.

external view of Puntukurnu AMS Newman, gravel, native gums, red walls, rusted iron

Puntukurna Aboriginal Medical Service, Newman. Image source: Architecture & Design website.

Racism in health webinar

The Poche Centre for Indigenous Health, University of Sydney is hosting a Key Thinkers Forum – Racism in Health. The current models of practice are not working to effectively “Close the Gap”. Despite a growing willingness and need to consider new proposed models of practice, there remains a deep-seated resistance to identifying and addressing institutional and systemic racism and racist attitudes, including unconscious biases held by individuals. How can we get the ‘r’ word on every agenda?

The webinar will be facilitated by Professor Tom Calma AO with panel members including: Carmen Parter, Karen Mundine, Leilani Darwin and Raymond Lovett.

The webinar will be held from 1:00 PM – 3:30 PM AEST on Wednesday 7 July 2021. Register for this FREE event here.

large cardboard sign text 'racism is a pandemic' in black font, white background, letter 'p' in red font' sign against wall

Image source: Crikey.

International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking

The International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, or World Drug Day, is marked on 26 June every year, to strengthen action and cooperation in achieving the goal of a world free of drug abuse. This year’s theme is Share Facts On Drugs, Save Lives.

Each year, individuals, entire communities, and various organisations all over the world join in on this global observance, to raise awareness of the major problem that illicit drugs represent for society. Every year, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) issues the World Drug Report, full of key statistics and factual data obtained through official sources, a science-based approach and research. UNODC continues to provide facts and practical solutions to address the current world drug problem, and remains committed to attaining a vision of health for all based on science.

COVID-19 has brought unprecedented public awareness on health, protective measures for staying healthy, and most importantly, and on  protecting each other. A growing sense of global community and solidarity continues to emerge, as does the need to ensure health care for all. World Drug Day is a day to share research findings, evidence-based data and life-saving facts, and to continue tapping into a shared spirit of solidarity. UNODC invites everyone to do their part, by taking a firm stance against misinformation and unreliable sources, while committing to sharing only the real science-backed data on drugs and save lives.

For further information click here.

banner background blocks of green, red, yellow overlapping watercolour paints, top 2 syringes pointing down 2 capsules, 2 tablets & pack of tablets, text '26 June International Day Against Drug Abuse & Trafficking' in white font

Image source: AFEW International.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Safely sleeping Aboriginal babies program

feature tile text 'safely sleeping Aboriginal babies in SA program - Flinders University' image of Aboriginal community researchers Sharon Watts and Anna Dowling holding a Pedi-Pod

Safely sleeping Aboriginal babies program

Aboriginal babies die from Sudden Unexplained Death in Infancy (SUDI) and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) 3–4 times more often than non-Aboriginal babies. “This never has been and never will be okay,” say Professor Julian Grant and Dr Nina Sivertsen, who are leading the Safely sleeping Aboriginal babies in South Australia program led by Flinders University.

The program, in collaboration with the Aboriginal Health Council of SA, the Women and Children’s Health Network and SA Health, was conceived after Aboriginal cultural consultant, Ms Wilhelmine Lieberwirth, approached Child and Family Health Services staff to look for ‘culturally safe’ solutions to do more for Aboriginal babies to sleep safely.

The Pepi-Pod program prioritises safe sleep education, while also providing a small bed to create a safe ‘pod’ or sleep space that can be placed in or next to the family bed. “We wanted to see if the Pepi-Pod program was experienced as culturally safe and if First Nations families would even use it,” says Dr Sivertsen of the first small initial pilot trial in SA.

“Families told us that one of the best parts of the Pepi-Pod program is that ‘you don’t have to worry’ babies were in their ‘own little comfort zone’. Babies were ‘peaceful and safe’ and you could ‘see him’, ‘feel him’ ‘touch him’ and ‘hear him’, while baby slept safely in the pod.”

Many families including First Nations peoples sleep with their babies in the family bed. “While bed sharing has many benefits, it is also associated with infant death and is not recommended by SA Health,” says Professor Grant. Sharon Watts, an Aboriginal researcher on the project, says that it is “really important for First Nations families to feel close to their babies all the time, especially when sleeping”.

To view the Flinders University’s media release click here.

Professor Jeanine Young with Aboriginal doll in a Pepi-Pod

Professor Jeanine Young with a Pepi-Pod. Image source: Red Nose website.

NAIDOC returns to NITV in 2021

All Australians are invited to celebrate NAIDOC 2021 with a week-long dedicated schedule on National Indigenous Television (NITV), and a range of programs and content across the SBS network, celebrating and reflecting on the history, cultures and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Inspired by the 2021 NAIDOC theme, Heal Country!, the slate focuses on the strength and survival of the oldest continuing cultures on the planet, from Saturday 3 July to Sunday 11 July.

This year’s multiplatform offering includes the exclusive broadcast of the 2021 National NAIDOC Awards, the return of Australia’s only all-Indigenous breakfast television program, the premiere of docu-comedy History Bites Back, as well as a range of documentaries, movies, news and current affairs programs and features across the network.

To view the media release click here.banner sbs & NITV logo & Aboriginal art colours orange, aqua, black, blue

Indigenous doctor academic post program

The Australian Indigenous Doctors’ Association (AIDA) Academic Post was first earmarked by the Department of Health as part of the Federal Government’s Closing the Gap strategy. The post is an identified training term open to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander GPs in training to undertake teaching and research that aims to improve the health and life outcomes of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

WA GP Dr Talila Milroy jumped at the chance to undertake the AIDA Academic Post in 2020. Dr Milroy was always interested in developing and furthering general practice research, and the post allowed a structured framework to delve into the data. Now, having undertaken a year as the 2020 AIDA Academic Post holder Dr Milroy is continuing her part-time research role and furthering her study into the experiences and impacts of racism on general practice training.

‘You develop so many skills, not only in research but in teaching as well,’ she told newsGP. ‘It’s also the networking; you gain communication skills because you’re teaching medical students, and you get more of a grasp of how to design research and ask questions that are clinically relevant, useful and translatable.’

To view the full article newsGP article click here.

portrait image of Dr Talila Milroy, 2020 AIDA Academic Post holder

Dr Talila Milroy, 2020 AIDA Academic Post holder. Image source: newsGP.

Winnunga May newsletter

The May 2021 edition of the Winnunga News, the Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health and Community Services (WNAHCS) monthly newsletter has been released. This edition has a focus on the ACT’s prison crisis and calls from the local Aboriginal community to the ACT Government for a Royal Commission to identify and respond to the over-representation of Aboriginal peoples in the ACT in touch with the criminal justice system or incarcerated.

WNAHCS CEO Julie Tongs OAM says “we have to face the awful truth, the worst-performing government in Australia, when it comes to locking up Aboriginal peoples, is the ACT government.” You can access the newsletter here.

WNAHCS CEO Julie Tongs OAM. wearing WNAHCS logo hoodie standing at Aboriginal flag painted mental gate of Boomanulla Oval Narrabundah

WNAHCS CEO Julie Tongs OAM. Photo: Sitthixay Ditthavong. Image source: The Canberra Times.

New mental health service in Armadale WA

Mental Health Minister Stephen Dawson has officially opened the new community Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) in Armadale. The new purpose-built facility is centrally located, with easy access to public transport. The facility will support the local community through the provision of mental health services to children and young people from 40 suburbs across the wider Armadale area. The space has been designed to ensure it is culturally appropriate. All rooms have Noongar names and local artist Sally-Anne Greengrass was commissioned to paint murals featuring the Noongar seasons.

To view the full media release click here.

watercolour painting of silhouette of child's head overlaid with yellow pink orange green purple smudged circles overlaid on yellowish background

Image source: Neuroscience Newsletter.

Funding for SISTAQUIT

The Federal Government will invest $5.9 million on cancer prevention among women in vulnerable communities across the world through the Global Alliance for Chronic Diseases (GACD). $1.8m of the funding has been committed to allow SISTAQUIT (Supporting Indigenous Smokers to Assist Quitting) to expand its free, online training in quit smoking methods to all Australian health services catering to Indigenous women during pregnancy.

To view the media release in full click here.SISTAQUIT logo text' SISTAQUIT' in pink blue letters overlaid with white dots, black background, additional text 'Supporting INdigenous Smokers To Assist Quitting'

Kidney failure decision making webinar

Kidney Health Education is holding a health professional webinar Decision Making & Symptom Control in Kidney Failure at 7:30PM AEST Tuesday 22 June 2021.

The webinar will be presented by nephrologist Professor Robyn Langham.

Registration is essential. You can register here.banner text 'health Professional Webinar - Decision making & systmptom control in kidney failure - presented by Prof Robyn Langham, Nephrologist - Tuesday 22 June, 7:30PM AEST - Kidney Health Education logo, image of lady's hand on elderly man's shoulder, colours red, light blue, navy, white

World Kidney Cancer Day – 17 June 2021

The first World Kidney Cancer Day was celebrated four years ago in June 2017. The international campaign was developed by the International Kidney Cancer Coalition (IKCC), a network of more than 45 Affiliate Organisations, to raise awareness for this little-known type of cancer. In the beginning, the focus was on the basics about kidney cancer – what causes it, how to prevent it, or why it’s on the rise.

While that campaign did a lot to raise the profile of kidney cancer, the incidence of the disease continues to increase globally. The most recent statistics estimate that 431,000 people will be diagnosed around the world each year.

The incidence of kidney cancer has been increasing since the 1970s, yet the worldwide mortality rate has been stable since the 1990s. In the last 14 years, targeted and immunotherapies for metastatic kidney cancer have made living with kidney cancer an entirely different story, compared with the preceding treatment options, and localised tumours have also seen improved outcomes with robotic and nephron-sparing approaches.

For further information about World Kidney Cancer Day click here.banner grey text 'world kidney cancer day' green text 'we need to talk about how we're feeling' grey text '17 June 2021' vector of green person sitting looking at white bumpy cloud

World Continence Week – 21–27 June 2021

The International Continence Society (ICS) World Continence Week (WCW) is an annual initiative (held from Monday to Sunday in the last week of June with the primary aim to raise awareness about incontinence related issues. WCW was initiated in 2008 with the first ever World Continence Day and the following year became WCW with activities being developed worldwide.

Incontinence is the unwanted and involuntary leakage of urine or stool. Incontinence is a sensitive condition that affects an estimated 400 million people across the world. Historically, conditions affecting the bladder and bowel have often been uncomfortable or “taboo” subjects and accordingly these medical disorders have been underreported and under-diagnosed. Surveys have shown that fewer than 40% of persons with urinary incontinence mention their problem to a doctor or nurse and this figure is even higher for those with bowel incontinence. These conditions have been inadequately treated and poorly addressed by medical professionals, despite the substantial impact on individual health, self-esteem and quality of life.

In light of this, WCW seeks to draw attention to and increase public awareness about these conditions and to give sufferers the confidence to seek help and improve their quality of life. For further information about World Continence Week 2021 click here.logo text 'World Continence Week 2021' green 'C' containing a light blue circle

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Yarning about managing pain

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

Yarning about managing pain

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

ACCHOs get the results

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

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

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

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

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

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

New Medicare funding for vaccination

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

COVID-19 posters for health clinics

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

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

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

Protect your little one from flu

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

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

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

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

Image source: NSW Government Aboriginal children flu poster.

Community liver cancer rates rise

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

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

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

To view the Flinders University media release click here.

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

Image source: Johns Hopkins Medicine website.

Age of criminal responsibility – national action needed

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

To view the ACTCOSS media alert click here.

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

Image source: The Conversation.

SA Elder abuse campaign

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: ACCHO funding needed for prison health care

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health care in prisons requires federal funding of community controlled services, image of 3 prisoners & 2 guards walking down enclosed walkway of prison

ACCHO funding needed for prison health care

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are over-represented in prisons. They are 15.6 times more likely to be incarcerated than non-Indigenous Australians. Yet, there are virtually no staff skilled in engaging with cultural protocols in health services in prisons. And current policies and procedures do little to extend cultural care to families when the death of an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander person in prison has occurred.

State health departments make miniscule allocations to health care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people – the commonwealth largely has responsibility for this., and because prisons fall under state and territory responsibility, prison health is also rarely mentioned in national frameworks.

  • the National Strategic Framework for Chronic Conditions makes no mention of prisons, despite people in prison disproportionately experiencing chronic conditions
  • the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan acknowledges the over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in prison and their greater risk of suicide and drug overdose after being released, but it offers no leadership on state and territory action
  • the recent inclusion of a justice target in the Closing the Gap framework is likewise not focused on improving health services in prisons. It only aims to reduce Indigenous adult prison numbers by 15% and youth detention by 30%

Currently, over 140 ACCHOs operate across Australia, with membership to NACCHO. Data indicate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have low levels of access to mainstream government services compared to community-controlled health services. These health services are also allocated disproportionately less funding than mainstream services. And since the royal commission, there have been few funding schemes to support these health services to work in or with prisons.

To view the full article click here.

protestors with BLM placards

Image source: The Conversation.

Prisons are creating disability

The Age has run a story about the horrific treatment of Sony Ray Austin in police custody rendering him a quadriplegic.

Dr Hannah McGlade, a Noongar human rights lawyer and the executive officer of National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services, said prisons are creating Aboriginal disability. Dr McGlade said Aboriginal women in particular were vulnerable to disability in prisons because of the inconsistent availability of healthcare. “Prisons are supposed to be rehabilitative, but in reality they are highly traumatic and dangerous for Aboriginal people,” she said. “Their health doesn’t seem to matter.”

To view the article in full click here.

portrait photo of Dr Hannah McGlade on steps of office building

Dr Hannah McGlade. Image source: The Age.

Youth detention policy immoral

More than 70 organisations, including the RACGP, have called on all governments to raise the age of criminal responsibility.

A 10-year-old child behind bars, being arrested, or presenting in court is an unsettling reality in Australia, which has long-lasting impacts. According to latest data, on an average night in 2020, there were 798 young people in youth detention, with 80% aged 10–17 years, and 91% male. Nearly two thirds (64%) of these young people in detention were unsentenced, either awaiting the outcome of their court matter or sentencing.

Experts are concerned that these children are more likely to reoffend, with Australia’s flawed youth justice legal system ‘setting them up to fail’. As a result, the RACGP and more than 70 other organisations this week signed the 19 May statement of the Meetings of Attorneys-General (MAG), which strongly supports the Raise the Age campaign and advocates for the removal of criminal responsibility for children aged 10 years old, to at least 14 years.

To view the full article click here.

head of youth eyes closed against wire fence of jail

Image source: MamaMia website.

Horse healing program expands to remote communities

An innovative program that uses horses to support the social and emotional well-being of Aboriginal children is being expanded to remote communities in WA. Yawardani Jan-ga is an Equine Assisted Learning initiative that works with young people in some of the world’s worst affected areas for suicide.

Since it was established two years ago in Broome, in WA’s far north, around 400 participants have attended the program, which is delivered by local Indigenous practitioners. By tapping into the Kimberley’s rich pastoral history, Yawardani Jan-ga has been able to prosper in a region where mainstream services often struggle to make an impact.

To view the full article click here.

Tia &Boyo Petrevski standing with hands through gate stroking horse, trees in the background

Tia and Boyo Petrevski, who run a pastoral station outside Halls Creek, will help roll out the program there. Photo: Matt Bamford. Image source: ABC News.

Birthing program overlooked in budget

Aboriginal health experts have criticised the lack of federal budget funding for Indigenous-led birthing services, including for a Brisbane-based program that has halved preterm births among mothers at the centre.

To view the full article click here.

Photo: Bobbi Lockyer. Image source: ABC News.

Speaking up for health equity

The 2021–22 Federal Budget is being hailed in many mainstream circles for its “big-spending glory” and focus on the COVID-19 recovery, aged care, mental health, and women.

But experts at a webinar last week delivered a different verdict. They say the Budget is in many ways a disaster for health equity, climate health, and the social determinants of health, failing to address structural inequity, prevention, climate change, poverty, Indigenous health and justice, and the crisis in housing.

One panellist said it was a Budget of “expediency not equity”, another that it begged the question: “what hope is there for the future?”. For another, the “number one missing piece” is real action to fix poverty, with households and communities across Australia now back to relying on desperately low Job Seeker payments after the coronavirus supplement, which brought so many benefits, was once again removed.

Webinar participants from across the health, social and disability sectors, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait health leaders, were asked by moderator Dr Melissa Sweet to reflect upon three questions: What were you happy to see in the budget? What was missing? And what are your key takeaways for health equity?

To view the full article click here.

Image source: Croakey.

Remote PHC Manuals update

The Remote Primary Health Care Manuals (RPHCM) are currently being reviewed and updated. The RPHCM provides monthly updates to health services and other organisations will keep them up-to-date during the review process. The May 2021 monthly update advised that three more protocols have been endorsed by the RPHCM Editorial Committee with no major changes being made.

To view the RPHCM May 2021 monthly update click here.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Opposition to NDIS independent assessments

feature tile text 'overwhelming opposition to NDIS independent assessments approach' black & white photo of a an empty wheelchair in room without furniture

Opposition to NDIS independent assessments

There is fierce opposition to National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) independent assessments coming not only from the disability community, but also legal groups, medical bodies, state governments and others, according to a SBS News analysis of hundreds of submissions to a parliamentary inquiry. Of the more than 240 written submissions to the Joint Standing Committee on the NDIS’s inquiry into independent assessments read by SBS News, the vast majority rejected the contentious reforms as proposed, voiced concern or singled out the government for criticism. The submissions reveal there is also considerable concern from outside the disability sector, which has been essentially united in opposition to the reforms since they were announced in August last year.

To view the entire SBS News article click here.

dark purple banner text 'Independent Assessments' & vector clipboard

Image source: Women With Disabilities Australia.

Is Closing the Gap working?

Gaping policy shortfalls in the Australian Government’s ‘Closing the Gap’ program have seen it fail to reduce disparities in Indigenous health, income, employment, child removal and incarceration, Flinders University researchers say. Their five-year study just published in the Australian Journal of Public Administration examined why the targets of Australia’s national Closing the Gap strategy to reduce or eliminate inequalities in health, education and employment outcomes between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and other Australians have mostly not been met.

“Despite talk of governments ‘doing things with and not to’ Indigenous Australians, we found that most strategies implemented under Closing the Gap are controlled from the top by government agencies, leaving little room for Indigenous communities to have a say,” says lead author Dr Matthew Fisher, a senior researcher at the Southgate Institute for Health, Society and Equity at Flinders University. “Indigenous leaders said consistently that Closing the Gap policy will be more successful when it supports greater community control at a local level and puts more focus on strategies to build community resources for health and wellbeing,” said Dr Fisher.

To view the Flinders University media release click here.logo text 'closing the gap. ' vector images people houses trees gold blue aqua, red, brown

Aboriginal LGBTQA+ health experts sought

Calling for ACCHOs that want to provide improved care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander LGBTQA+ young people and their families.

ACCHOs across Australia (outside of WA) who would like to be involved in developing and implementing a culturally sensitive inclusive practice training package are being sought., as well as individuals with either lived experience as an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander LGBTQA+ person or with a young family member who is LGBTQA+, experts in Aboriginal LGBTQA+ health, Aboriginal health, and LGBTQA+ health to serve as subject matter experts.

This will be part of an Aboriginal-led research project run by Dr Bep Uink (Telethon Kids Institute) and funded by the Federal Department of Health. Participating ACCHOs will identify their training needs in relation to working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander LGBTQA+ young people and their families, co-design the components of an inclusivity training program along with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander LGBTQA+ young people and receive the training they build. The training package will be accompanied by a suite of digital resources. This research has been approved by the AIATSIS Research Ethics Committee.

To take part, or for more information, please contact Dr Bep Uink on 08 9360 1783 or bep.uink@telethonkids.org.au.

faces of 3 Aboriginal people with rainbow colours

Image source: MJA InSight website.

Health sector needs to lift game on prison health

Last week, the NT Government passed changes to the Bail Act that are predicted to lead to more young Aboriginal people behind bars, directly undermining efforts to reduce deaths in custody and to improve Aboriginal health and wellbeing. On the same day, the Federal Government handed down a Budget that failed to address the concerns of families, and community, health and legal advocates urging action on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander deaths in custody. Meanwhile, the campaign for all Australian governments to raise the age at which children can be arrested or locked up from 10 to 14 years has released submissions to the Council of Attorney-Generals.

You can read submissions by groups such as the Australian Medical Association, the Public Health Association of Australia, the Danila Dilba Health Service, the Royal Australasian College of Physicians, the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, the Commission for Children and Young People Victoria, and the Royal Australian and NZ College of Psychiatrists here.

On the 15th day of each month this year, Croakey has been hosting a Twitter “hour of power” to support a continuing focus on the need for action – by politicians and governments, policy makers and service providers in health, justice and community settings. Associate Professor Megan Williams, Wiradjuri justice health researcher and educator has urged the mainstream health sector to take more responsibility for people in the criminal justice system, and to ensure Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander public health people are at the table when related investigations, reports and inquiries are held.

The health sector has also been served a powerful call to address racism, with yesterday’s launch of a discussion paper, Partnership for Justice in Health: Scoping Paper on Race, Racism and the Australian Health System, published by the Lowitja Institute and Partnership for Justice in Health by Associate Professor Chelsea Watego, Dr David Singh and Dr Alissa Macoun.

To view the Croakey article in full click here.cover of Lowitja Institute Partnership for Justice in Health Discussion Paper, Aboriginal art, aqua, black, ochre, gold, dark blue

RACP wants criminal responsibility age raised

The Royal Australasian College of Physicians (RACP) is urging all state governments to respond to the concerns of health experts and raise the age of criminal responsibility from 10 to 14 years. The release of 48 submissions today highlights the urgency in raising the age of criminal responsibility and keeping children out of jail. The RACP has repeatedly called for this as a member of the Raise the Age campaign steering group. RACP spokesperson, Paediatrician and Adolescent Health Specialist Dr. Mick Creati, says “Around six hundred children under the age of fourteen are incarcerated annually. There is substantial evidence showing the detrimental effects youth incarceration has on their physical and psychological health and wellbeing.”

To view the RACP’s media release click here.

graffeti orange painted brick wall & black & white people holding signs #raise the age and #14

Image source: Amnesty International.

Sisters for Change prison program’s success

A second cohort of Townsville Women’s Correctional Centre prisoners has graduated from an innovative prison health and wellbeing program, run by Red Cross in prisons around Australia and internationally. A Flinders University evaluation last year which found the program lead to:

  • 15% decrease in prisoner on prisoner assaults
  • 23% decrease in incidences of self-harm
  • 66% decrease in possession of illicit substances
  • 75% of volunteers feeling “not the same” as when they went in, having improved self-confidence and a sense of worth
  • 50% of volunteers feeling hopeful and positive about the future.
  • Prison community reported feeling safer and that there were improved relationships between prison officers and prisoners

The Sisters for Change program started in Townsville in 2018, with the first cohort of volunteers graduating in November 2019. Through COVID-19, existing volunteers supported the prison’s response through educating their community about hygiene practices and supporting the mental health of the women while regular activities and visits were suspended due to the pandemic.

Townsville Correctional Complex is one of four prisons in Australia currently running Red Cross’ Community Based Health and First Aid Program (CBHFA) with a fifth to come online soon. It is modelled on the acclaimed Irish Red Cross Prisons Program, which won the 2011 World Health Organisation Award for best practice in prison health and has seen a 13% decrease in recidivism rates among CBHFA volunteers upon release compared to the general population.

To view the Australian Red Cross media release click here.

2 Red Cross staff in red polos talking to 2 female prisoners in blue correctional centre issue overalls, background yellow, blue, brown painted bricks, view is of backs of prisoners & faces of Red Cross workers

Townsville Women’s Correctional Centre Sisters for Change program. Image source: The Australian Red Cross.

National Pancreatic Cancer Roadmap input sought

Cancer Australia is encouraging you and your colleagues to participate in improving outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people affected by pancreatic cancer.

On behalf of Cancer Australia, Menzies School of Health Research is conducting consultations with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people affected by pancreatic cancer, as patients or survivors, family members or carers. Input is also being sought from health professionals, those involved in policy and program development/delivery and researchers, and anyone else relevant to understanding more about the pancreatic cancer experiences of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

To be involved, please contact Jenny Brands jenny.brands@menzies.edu.au or Belinda Kruger belinda.kruger@menzies.edu.au or phone 07 3169 4247.

For further information regarding the National Pancreatic Cancer Roadmap click here and to access a flyer on the consultations click here.

banner text 'National Pancreatic Cancer Roadmap' against multi-coloured Aboriginal dot painting blue, gold, orange, green , purple

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Eye health sector missing First Nations voice

feature tile text ' Australia's world class eye health sector is missing the voice of Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander peoples' image side view of Aboriginal youth's face looking through eye testing equipment

Eye health missing First Nations voice

The recent National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Eye Health Conference (NATSIEHC) 2021 — The Gap and Beyond, had a welcome and critical focus on community-led eye care, according to Simone Kenmore, the newly appointed Country Manager of the Indigenous Australia Program at The Fred Hollows Foundation.

Kenmore emphasised the importance of listening to family and community leaders to drive two-way learning approaches in eye care and the urgent need to grow an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander eye health workforce, as well as to invest in Aboriginal community controlled health services, saying “the eye health sector in Australia has a role and responsibility to strengthen the eye health knowledge of our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. The clinical expertise in the eye health sector in Australia is world class, but critically we are missing the voice of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples.”

To view the article in full click here.

Simone Kenmore & 3 of her Aunties in Alice Springs standing together against rendered wall

Simone Kenmore with her Aunties in Alice Springs. Image source: Croakey. Image in feature tile from ANZSOG.

Community control success at WAMS

Reducing the COVID-19 risk to community members was a big focus through the pandemic for the Walgett Aboriginal Medical Service (WAMS), which also stepped up to address a range of related challenges, including big concerns about food security for the NSW community.

WAMS CEO Christine Corby OAM said her service took many approaches to reduce the risk of local people getting COVID-19, especially vulnerable Elders and people with multiple health issues. Initiatives included a hand washing song which was taught in schools and used in the mobile children’s service; addressing complicated food supply issues; accessing personal protective equipment, developing and distributing care packs; and delivering scripts.

To view the Croakey article in full click here.

desk with contents of a WAMS cCOVID-19 are package, information brochures, hat, shampoo, colouring books, stress balls, water bottle, rope

Items from the WAMS care package distributed to community members during the pandemic. Image source: Croakey.

Eating disorder stereotypes plague treatment

Indigenous Australians are just as likely to experience eating disorders as others within the wider community but a perception the illness is only prevalent among white girls is hampering diagnosis and treatment. The Butterfly Foundation, the national charity for eating disorders, has found one in 10 Indigenous Australians will experience an eating disorder in their lifetime and 30% of Indigenous young people are concerned about body image. These figures mirror the trends of non-Indigenous Australians.

Butterfly Foundation marketing coordinator Camilla Becket said its EveryBODY is Deadly campaign was trying to raise awareness about eating disorders among the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. “We wanted to address this pervasive stigma that eating disorders only affect privileged young white women,” Ms Becket said. To view the article in full click here.

Garra Mundine with black boots, white dress & 3/4 length light brown coat leaning against a tree trunk in native woodland

Garra Mundine said no one recognised that she had an eating disorder because of the perception it was for “privileged white girls”. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen. Image source: The Sydney Morning Herald.

Budget opportunity to create a fairer future

The ACT Council of Social Service (ACTCOSS) today called on the Morrison Government to use tomorrow’s Budget as an opportunity to create a fairer future by supporting priorities outlined by the Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS). Dr Emma Campbell, ACTCOSS CEO, said: “This Federal Budget provides an opportunity for investment that not only drives economic recovery but also reduces disadvantage and inequality. ACTCOSS calls on the Australian Government to prioritise investment that will create a fairer future for all Australians.”

ACTCOSS’s top three priorities for the ACT in the Federal Budget are: investment in the community service sector to generate jobs while supporting those facing disadvantage; significantly increased investment in social housing; and better support for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to achieve self-determination.

To view the media release click here.

Aboriginal man sitting inside corrugated iron humpy in Utopia, no facial features visible as face is in shade

Scene from John Pilger documentary, Utopia. Image source: newmatilda.com.

RHD the silent killer

Katherine’s Sunrise Health Service Aboriginal Corporation Chair Anne Marie Less claims the gap in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health will never be closed until the deadliest of diseases is approached differently. “I have been a Senior Aboriginal Health Practitioner for over 14 years and I am acutely aware of the impact of Rheumatic Heart Disease (RHD) on our communities in the NT. Under the guidance of NT Cardiac, Menzies School of Health and Top End Health Service I have been learning to perform echocardiograms on young people in remote communities across the Top End and sadly in every community we detect 5-10% of the young population with previously undiagnosed RHD – some with the damage to their heart valves so advanced that it requires immediate surgery.

“Mostly it goes undetected and the only way we find out that someone has had rheumatic heart disease is when they drop dead on the playing field from a heart attack or die when they are pregnant. For most, they and their families never knew they had RHD. “Sadly, the only way to detect the presence of RHD is to listen for a heart murmur caused by leaking heart valves. The common practice is to listen for this using a stethoscope which unfortunately misses 40% or more of cases. The only true way to detect RHD is through an echocardiogram which uses a device no larger than a shaver to perform an ultrasound on the heart and clearly shows whether a heart valve is leaking or not.”

To view Sunrise Health Service’s media release in full click here.

RHD patient, Trey (young Aboriginal boy) lying on examination bed receives a handheld echo scan

Rheumatic Heart Disease patient, Trey, receives a handheld echo scan in Manigrida. Image source: Katherine Times.

United opposition to NT legislation

All 14 Australian and NZ Children’s Commissioners and Guardians (ANZCCG) have united in opposing new legislation introduced by the NT Government, which proposes to alter the NT’s Youth Justice Act and Bail Act. The commissioners and guardians wrote to NT Chief Minister Michael Gunner in March expressing their concerns about the legislation and asking him to reconsider his approach. Their letter said the proposed changes are “regressive” and “signal a shift away from evidence-based policy approaches and directly unwind the implementation of key recommendations from the 2017 Royal Commission”. National Children’s Commissioner Anne Hollonds said, “All the evidence tells us the best way to prevent youth offending is to divert young people away from the justice system and into alternative programs that offer the support they need.

To view the ANZCCG and Australian Human Rights Commission media release in full click here.

view of tower of Don Dale youth detention centre

Don Dale youth detention centre. Photo: Jane Bardon. Image source: ABC News website.

Federal Senator Malarndirri McCarthy has also voiced concern about controversial changes to the NT’s youth bail laws, calling on her local Labor colleagues to rethink the plan to fast-track the reforms. The government wants its changes passed through NT Parliament less than a week after the bill was made public and despite questions from legal groups about apparent problems with the draft legislation.

Labor has the backing of NT Police and the police union for measures it says will cut youth crime, but has faced widespread criticism for reversing changes made after the youth detention royal commission. On Monday, Ms McCarthy told ABC Alice Springs she had requested a briefing and raised concerns with the NT government. “I do think the issues being raised by stakeholders in the Northern Territory and indeed nationally about being careful about the incarceration of children and in particular First Nations children is something that the government needs to look closely at,” she said.

To view the article click here.

Senator Malarndirri McCarthy torso in red dress standing against moreton bay fig

Senator Malarndirri McCarthy says she has raised her concerns with the NT government.
Photo: Mitch Woolnough. Image source: ABC News website.

Impact of racism on oral health

Interpersonal racism has had a profound impact on Indigenous populations globally, manifesting as negative experiences and discrimination at an individual, institutional and systemic level. Interpersonal racism has been shown to negatively influence a range of health outcomes but has received limited attention in the context of oral health.

A recent study has examined the effects of experiences of interpersonal racism on oral health-related quality of life (OHRQoL) among Indigenous South Australians. Identifying this link adds weight to the importance of addressing OHRQoL among South Australian’s Indigenous population by implementing culturally-sensitive strategies to address interpersonal racism.

For further details about the study click here.

teenage Aboriginal girl in dental chair with mouth open smiling, gloves hands with instruments, masked dental professional, yellow tones

Image source: Remote Area Health Corps.

Smoking cessation during pregnancy study

Strong and healthy futures for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people requires engagement in meaningful decision making which is supported by evidence-based approaches. While a significant number of research publications state the research is co-designed, few describe the research process in relation to Indigenous ethical values. Improving the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mothers and babies is crucial to the continuation of the oldest living culture in the world.

Developing meaningful supports to empower Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mothers to quit smoking during pregnancy is paramount to addressing a range of health and wellbeing outcomes. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women have called for non-pharmacological approaches to smoking cessation during pregnancy. A recent project Building an Indigenous-Led Evidence Base for Smoking Cessation Care among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Women during Pregnancy and Beyond: Research Protocol for the Which Way? has used a culturally responsive research protocol, co-designed by and co-owned with urban and regional Aboriginal communities in NSW.

For further details about the study click here.

Aboriginal painting of silhouette of pregnant Aboriginal woman throwing away cigarettes, baby visible in womb, & sign Quit for New Life

Image source: South Western Sydney Local Health District webpage.

ACT – Canberra – Australian Medical Association

Policy Advisor (Indigenous Health) x 1 FT – Canberra

Advance your career with the AMA and be part of the team advocating improvements to Australia’s health system and achieving positive change on behalf of its member doctors and the wider community.

Based in Canberra, the Policy Adviser will be a member of the Public Health team and:

  • manage the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health portfolio and support AMA’s ongoing advocacy towards Closing the Gap and ensuring better health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples
  • provide Secretariat leadership to the AMA Taskforce on Indigenous Health, as well as in campaigns advocating related improvements to the health care system
  • provide support in AMA’s policy and advocacy work to improve Australia’s mental health system, including reviewing reports, government engagement, and providing support to the AMA Mental Health Committee
  • draft accurate and well-written policy positions, statements, submissions media responses and campaign material
  • oversee the management of the AMA Indigenous Medical Scholarship and coordination of support for scholarship recipients

To view the position description and to apply click here. You should submit your application within the next couple of weeks.

AMA logo, Aboriginal hands holding torso of Aboriginal baby no clothes

Image source: NITV website.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: COVID-19 lessons must not be lost

feature tile text 'AMA calls for measures to ensure health systems are resilient & effective - COVID-19 pandemic lessons must not be lost' image of Aboriginal youth with cardboard face mask painted with Aboriginal flag, blurred image of another Aboriginal person in the background wearing same mask

COVID-19 lessons must not be lost

As Australia finds its way out of the COVID-19 pandemic, the lessons learned about our health systems must not be lost. The Australian Government must use next week’s Federal Budget to commit to measures that ensure our health systems are resilient and effective now and beyond COVID-19. “We know areas of our health system are failing Australians, and we cannot continue the business as usual approach to funding,” AMA President, Dr Omar Khorshid, said today.

“There continues to be unmet need for health services in the community, and the ongoing need for further investment in our health care system to ensure services are accessible and affordable for patients is only going to increase.” The AMA has identified key areas that need immediate funding commitments in the upcoming Budget – permanent telehealth; public hospitals; aged care; general practice; private health insurance; and Indigenous health. Dr Khorshid continued, “The COVID-19 pandemic revealed how crucial our front line health workers and health services are, and how vital it is for them to be properly resourced and supported.”

To view the AMA’s media release click here.

Dr Simon Quilty with stethoscope to Aboriginal woman's chest

Dr Simon Quilty has specialist skills in a range of fields so he can treat patients with complex conditions. Photo: Stephanie Zillman. Image source ABC News.

Your Health 2030 project

What would need to happen for all Australians to enjoy good health by 2030?

A team of public health experts across the country have put together a project answering this question, in collaboration with VicHealth, and they have published the results in a supplement in the Medical Journal of Australia.

Ray Lovett, Aboriginal epidemiologist at ANU and director of the Mayi Kuwayu Study of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Wellbeing spoke with Hilary Harper on ABC Radio National Life Matters about how culture is key in the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

To listen to the interview click here.

photo of Ray Lovett in grey suit blue shirt no tie standing against large tiled wall & black handrail, overlaid with text 'ABC Health Report' & ABC RN logo 'ABC symbol RN' superimposed on pink orange voice bubble

COVID-19 side effects fact sheet

The Australian Government Department of Health has released a COVID-19 vaccination – Fact sheet – Side effects of COVID-19 vaccines (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples). This easy-to-read fact sheet outlines the side effects of COVID-19 vaccines and what to do if you feel them.

You can download the Fact sheet here.  front page of Aust Govt COVID-19 vaccine side effects fact sheet

Miscarriage care reform needed

Globally, an estimated 23 million miscarriages occur every year. Despite the personal toll involved, many miscarriages are managed in relative isolation. Private grief and misconceptions can lead to women and their partners feeling at fault or managing alone.

Similarly, in the health-care system and broader society, the continuing conviction that miscarriages are unavoidable and the requirement, enshrined in many national guidelines, that women must have recurrent miscarriages before they are eligible for investigation or intervention has created a pervasive attitude of acceptance of miscarriage, urging women to “just try again”.

For too long miscarriage has been minimised and often dismissed. The lack of medical progress should be shocking. Instead, there is a pervasive acceptance. Not all miscarriages could be avoided, but the insidious implication that miscarriage, like other women’s reproductive health issues, including menstrual pain and menopause, should be managed with minimal medical intervention is ideological, not evidence based. Miscarriage should be a major focus for the medical research community, for service providers, and for policy makers. The era of telling women to “just try again” is over.

To view the full article in The Lancet click here.

miniature baby beanie held in a woman's hands

Image source: Time magazine.

Dalang Project supports oral health

The early closure of the Voluntary Dental Graduate Year Program and the Oral Health Therapy Graduate Year Program by the Australian Government adversely impacted NSW Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations (ACCHOs). This led to the co-design of a small-scale oral health therapy graduate year program for ACCHOs known as the Dalang Project. This project has enabled oral health therapists to engage with local Aboriginal communities and implement culturally competent, practical and evidence-based oral health promotion activities.

For an overview of the Dalang Project and its evaluation click here.

close up shot of face of young Aboriginal girl with a blue toothbrush in her mouth

Image source: The Conversation.

New 715 Health Check resources

A range of community resources, including flyers, posters, animation, podcasts, social tiles, video stories, templates and more have been developed to support organisation promoting 715 Health Checks.

You can view the range of resources here.

slide from 715 Health Check - Awabakal Case Study YouTube video, purple Aboriginal art overlaid with text 'Your Health is in Your Hands. Have you had your 715 health check?'

Youth need support, not prison

Amnesty International Australia and Balunu Healing Foundation have called on the NT government to give kids a chance at breaking the cycle of disadvantage and crime by diverting them into culturally appropriate programs that address the underlying intergenerational trauma which too often leads to crime, instead of condemning them to the quicksand of the youth justice system.

Amendments to the youth justice act due to be debated this week in Parliament will prevent kids from accessing Indigenous-led diversion programs which are highly effective in addressing recidivism. The NT’s own statistics show that more than 70% of children who complete a diversion program do not reoffend within 12 months of completion.

To view Amnesty International Australia’s media release in full click here.

8 male youths playing basketball in Don Dale prison Darwin faces blurred

Children in the Don Dale juvenile detention centre in Darwin. Photo: Helen Davidson. Image source: The Guardian.

World Hand Hygiene Day 2021

ThemSAVE LIVES: Clean Your Hands global campaign was launched in 2009 and is celebrated annually on 5 May (World Hand Hygiene Day). The campaign aims to maintain global promotion, visibility and sustainability of hand hygiene in health care and to ‘bring people together’ in support of hand hygiene improvement around the world.

For World Hand Hygiene Day 2021, WHO calls on health care workers and facilities to achieve effective hand hygiene action at the point of care. The point of care refers to the place where three elements come together: the patient, the health care worker, and care or treatment involving contact with the patient or their surroundings.

To be effective and prevent transmission of infectious microorganisms during health care delivery, hand hygiene should be performed when it is needed (at 5 specific moments) and in the most effective way (by using the right technique with readily available products) at the point of care. This can be achieved by using the WHO multimodal hand hygiene improvement strategy. banner for World Hand Hygiene Day,text seconds save lives clean your hands!' vector of tap attached to stopwatch overlay with hands washing

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Intergenerational trauma must be addressed

The Healing Foundation recommends the impacts of intergenerational trauma be recognised & addressed across all parts of the health system, Aboriginal baby's hand in adults hand

Intergenerational trauma must be addressed

In its latest submission to the National Preventive Health Taskforce in response to the Draft National Preventive Health Strategy, The Healing Foundation is recommending that the impacts of intergenerational trauma be recognised and addressed across all parts of the health system. It is one of six key recommendations that underpin The Healing Foundation’s view that strategies that support those impacted by intergenerational trauma – conservatively, a third of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples – can inform all strategies for First Nations peoples and lead to better outcomes for all. The Healing Foundation CEO Fiona Cornforth said that the continuing impact of trauma requires genuine steps to be undertaken to address trauma as an underlying cause of poor health.

To view The Healing Foundation’s media release click here.

red brown Aboriginal dot painting of outline of adult holding hand of a child

Image source: AbSec website. Image in the feature tile is from The Conversation.

NDIS IBSF grant applications close SOON

Attention NACCHO members! NDIS Ready Indigenous Business Support Funding (IBSF) grant applications are CLOSING SOON!

IBSF offers funding to eligible ACCHOs to help address:

  • basic establishment costs, and/or
  • business and technical challenges in registering and delivering services under the NDIS

Grants of $20,000 are available for up to 100 member ACCHOs.

ACCHOs have been contacted via email with information about the grants and how to apply. Applications close on Friday 14 May 2021.

Please contact the NDIS Ready team ndisready@naccho.org.au if you have any questions.tile text 'NDIS Ready Indigenous Business Support Funding Applications Closing Soon' Aboriginal art symbols yellow, teal, orange, navy

More GPs in rural areas

Increasing numbers of doctors are training to become GPs in regional, rural and remote areas, which will deliver significant benefits to patients and communities in the bush. The Australian Government’s 2021 Australian General Practice Training (AGPT) Program selection process has seen the largest number of acceptances – 1,434 doctors – in several years, more than 100 additional doctors than last year’s intake. Of these, the Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine is allocated 150 training places, and the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) is allocated 1,350. Federal Regional Health Minister, Mark Coulton said almost 700 of these doctors will undertake their training in regional, rural and remote locations across the country.

To view the media release click here.

outback road with yellow road sign with words CLINIC100km

Image source: RACGP newsGP website.

Unique program key to rural GP recruitment

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

Additional funding is enabling a key element of the program to be expanded to recruit more doctors to communities with significant medical workforce shortages. Funded by the Australian Government, Remote Vocational Training Scheme (RVTS) delivers General Practice and Rural Generalist training for medical practitioners in First Nations, rural and remote communities throughout Australia.

To view the RVTS media release click here.

torso of doctor in white coat hand on stethoscope around neck

Image source: Armidale Express.

NT youth justice reforms condemned

Today paediatricians, clinicians, lawyers and human rights experts have joined forces to condemn the NT Government’s plans to introduce some of the most punitive youth justice laws in the country and to re-open parts of Don Dale that were shut down after the Royal Commission. The NT Government’s proposal to make it harder for children to get bail, reduce access to diversion and impose electronic monitoring on young people prior to conviction has been condemned by medical and legal experts as dangerous and ineffective. The changes actively take a significant step back, bringing the Northern Territory back to the pre-Royal Commission days. John Paterson, CEO of Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance NT: “Continuing to detain children in Don Dale, a decommissioned adult prison that the Royal Commission recommended be shut, is a disgrace. It is inhumane, expensive and ineffective.”

To view the North Australian Aboriginal Justice Agency (NAAJA) , Change The Record, AMSANT and Danila Dilba Health Service joint media release click here.

youth in jail, torso and legs only all dark because photo taken in the shade

Image source: ABC News.

CATSINaM focus on racism in healthcare

As Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander nurses and midwives gathered on Kaurna country in Adelaide this week, the focus was firmly on the importance of addressing racism in healthcare. It was the third event in the Congress of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Nurses and Midwives (CATSINaM) national conference series.

Gamilaroi man Dr Chris Bourke, Strategic Programs Director of the Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association, presented the work he led (together with Professor Adrian Marrie), auditing SA’s Local Health Networks for institutional racism. This important work, done on behalf of the Health Performance Council, demonstrated high levels of institutional racism across South Australian state health services. Nine out of ten local health networks showed very high levels of institutional racism based on publicly available information.

To view the full Croakey article click here.

six paper dolls, 3 white, one dark brown, one tan hands joined in acircle on wooden surface

Image source: AMA website.

Monitoring cultural safety in health care

A new release from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare: The Cultural safety in health care for Indigenous Australians: monitoring framework brings together available data to assess progress in achieving cultural safety in the health system for Indigenous Australians. The framework includes measures on culturally respectful health care services; Indigenous patient experience of health care; and access to health care services. The data are presented at the national, state and regional levels.

For further details click here.

5 Aboriginal people on country at dusk overlaid with text 'cultural safety' white font

Image source: SNAICC website.

Domestic & Family Violence Prevention Month

In Australia, violence perpetrated by an intimate partner is the cause of more illness, disability and death than any other factor for women aged 25–44 (AIHW, Family, domestic and sexual violence in Australia, 2018). Domestic and Family Violence Prevention Month is an annual event held each May to raise community awareness of the social and personal impacts of domestic and family violence and the support available to those affected. The key aims of the month are to:
  • raise community awareness of domestic and family violence and its impacts;
  • promote a clear message of no tolerance of domestic and family violence in Queensland communities;
  • ensure those who are experiencing domestic and family violence know how to access help and support;
  • encourage people who use abuse and/or violence to take responsibility for their abusive behaviour and seek support to change.

For more information about Domestic and Family Violence Prevention Month click here.

banner orange with purple arch divided into squares purple, lavender, orange, yellow, text 'we all play out part Domestic and Family Violence Prevention Month 2021; #endDFV #notnownotevertogether #DFVPM2021