NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Aboriginal-run renal facility celebrates 20 years

The image in the feature tile is of Angus Seela who travelled to Perth for life-saving treatment before dialysis was available in the Kimberley. Photo: Tallulah Bieundurry, ABC Kimberley. Image is from an ABC News article Australia’s first Indigenous-run renal facility celebrates 20th anniversary in Broome published today.

Indigenous-run renal facility celebrates 20 years

Australia’s first Indigenous-run facility dedicated to kidney health has hit a key milestone in WA’s far north. The 10-bed Kimberley Renal Services (KRS) unit was established in Broome in 2002, after Aboriginal medical leader Dr Arnold “Puggy” Hunter advocated for Indigenous people to receive treatment on country. Since then, the service has grown to include Kununurra, Fitzroy Crossing and Derby.

Kimberley woman Agnes Seela is the longest-running dialysis patient in Broome. She remembers a time when the life-saving treatment was thousands of kilometres away. “I was in Perth for a long time and it was really hard,” she said. “I didn’t get to come home for my dad’s funeral.” Ms Seela and her husband underwent dialysis together until he received a kidney transplant. She said treatment in the Kimberley had lifted her spirits. “I was really happy to start dialysis in Broome,” she said. “It makes it really easy to travel between Halls Creek, Ringer Soak and Broome.”

Rates of kidney disease in the Kimberley are among the highest in Australia, with the disease particularly prevalent in Aboriginal people. A leading cause for the disease is diabetes, with most people living with it experiencing some level of kidney decline. KRS Medical Director Lorraine Anderson said kidney issues were on the rise in the region.

To view the ABC News article Australia’s first Indigenous-run renal facility celebrates 20th anniversary in Broome in full click here.

Ms Anderson says the 10-bed Broome facility has saved lives. Photo: Tallulah Bieundurry, ABC Kimberley. Image source: ABC News.

KAMS shares James Memorial Award

Researchers from the Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Services (KAMS) and the Rural Clinical School of WA University of WA are thrilled to win the annual prestigious Ray James Memorial Award. This award is presented for the best article published in the Health Promotion Journal of Australia over the last year. The article was chosen by the Journal’s Research, Evaluation and Evidence Translation Committee and is presented for excellence and innovation in health promotion research.

The research explores 10 Aboriginal Australian men’s experiences during their partner’s antenatal period. The study found the participants valued supporting their partners through pregnancy, making positive changes to their own lifestyles, and having access to information on pregnancy. Participants described experiencing multiple stressors during the antenatal period that impacted on their social and emotional wellbeing. This study demonstrated that these Aboriginal men valued engagement with antenatal care services and highlighted strategies to improve Aboriginal paternal involvement with antenatal care services.

Erica Spry, Bardi and Kija woman and researcher discussed how the project grew from an existing project that was exploring maternal and child health in the Kimberley: “I was having a conversation with an Elder, talking about our other research and recruiting participants and this Elder said to me “it takes two to make a baby, you should be talking to the men too’. She was right, so little had been done exploring the role of our Aboriginal dad’s.”

To view The Centre of Best Practice in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention (CBPATSISP) media release click here.

Emma Carlin (Research Fellow, RCSWA/ Senior Research Officer KAMS); Erica Spry (Research Fellow, RCSWA/ Research Officer KAMS); Zac Cox (Manager Social and Emotional Wellbeing, KAMS). Image source: CBPATSISP.

Why Keating’s Redfern Speech still matters

30 years after former Labor PM Paul Keating addressed a mostly Indigenous crowd in Sydney’s Redfern, his acknowledgement of genocide, Stolen Generations and ongoing oppression of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples remains as relevant as ever. Delivered in Blak heartland in honour of the 1993 International Year Of Indigenous People, the speech saw Keating directly address the Indigenous community and take moral responsibility for the atrocities of colonisation for the first time.

The most resonant words were starkly honest. “It begins, I think, with that act of recognition. Recognition that it was we who did the dispossessing. We took the traditional lands and smashed the traditional way of life. We brought the diseases. The alcohol. We committed the murders. We took the children from their mothers,” Keating told the crowd, stunned to appreciative silence.

In a poll of the ‘Most Unforgettable Speech of all Time’, Keating’s address ranked third. It trailed only Martin Luther King Jr’s ‘I Have a Dream’ and the ‘Sermon on the Mount’ from the Bible. The vote illustrated the impact of Keating’s words not only at the time, but in the decades since. Delivered only 6 months after the historic Mabo decision by the High Court, which recognised Native Title and expunged the fallacy of terra nullius from the history books, the Redfern Speech came at a pivotal moment in the fight for First Nations sovereignty.

To read the NITV article Why Paul Keating’s Redfern Speech still matters in full click here.

Criminal age can save lives, inquiry told

A silly mistake at age 10 can have devastating and often permanent consequences for Aboriginal kids but raising the criminal age of responsibility could help save lives, experts say. When Bangerang and Wiradjuri elder Aunty Geraldine Atkinson was in year 6, her 10-year-old brother was taken into police custody on suspicion of minor theft.

He would later spend the next two decades in custody before his premature death at 36, a tragic story Ms Atkinson says is all too common in her community. “That’s the story of a child being removed at 10 years of age and then what their life trajectory is. This is what we want to stop,” Ms Atkinson told the Yoorrook Justice Commission as part of an inquiry into Victoria’s criminal justice and child protection systems on Tuesday.

She said raising the age of criminal responsibility in Victoria from 10 to 14 could also stop Aboriginal deaths in custody and lead to better overall community outcomes.

To read the Muswellbrook Chronicle article Criminal age can save lives, inquiry told in full click here.

More needs to be done to ensure Indigenous children aren’t locked up, Aunty Geraldine Atkinson says. Photo: Morgan Hancock/AAP. Image source: Muswellbrook Chronicle.

Taking the stress out of heatwaves

A pioneering new Heat Stress Scale and accompanying app will be trialed in Western Sydney this summer, designed to reduce the risk of serious health problems brought on by heatwaves. Minister for Emergency Services and Resilience Steph Cooke said the app is being developed by researchers at the University of Sydney through the $52m Disaster Risk Reduction Fund.

“Heatwaves are responsible for more deaths in NSW than any other severe weather event, with the impact greatest on children, the elderly, Indigenous communities and people with pre-existing health conditions,” Ms Cooke said. “The Heat Stress Scale is similar in concept to the UV index and gives users personalised, real-time information on their risk of heat-related health problems based on temperature, humidity, solar radiation and wind speed. This innovation will put a person’s individual risk of health problems in hot conditions in the palm of their hands, and could revolutionise the way we handle the heat.”

Professor Ollie Jay, who is leading the world-first project, said the Heat Stress Scale and app are being developed by a team of multidisciplinary researchers from the University of Sydney’s Heat and Health Research Incubator in collaboration with the Sydney Environment Institute. “This summer Western Sydney residents included in the trial will be able to create a personalised health profile in the app, providing information like age, medical conditions and regular medication,” Professor Jay said.

To view the NSW Minister for Emergency Services and Resilience’s media release Taking the stress out of heatwaves in full click here.

Indigenous leadership key to halt Nature’s destruction

At the UN Biodiversity Conference (COP15) being held in Montreal, Canada from 7–19 December almost 200 countries are reckoning with the world’s extraordinary loss of the variety of life. Climate change, mining, urban development and more are threatening Earth’s biodiversity to an extent never before witnessed in human history.

The conference will see countries negotiate a global 2030 plan, called the Global Biodiversity Framework, to set worldwide targets for a range of issues, from establishing national parks to habitat destruction. But so far, the draft text is lacking a fundamental element: adequate inclusion of language and perspectives from Indigenous peoples and local communities. Without Indigenous and local community leadership, any biodiversity targets will remain out of reach.

Despite comprising less than 5% of the global population, Indigenous peoples protect an estimated 80% of global biodiversity. Yet, the capacity of Indigenous peoples and local communities to continue to exercise this stewardship is being actively eroded across the world. Issues of power and inclusion in the current draft framework must therefore be resolved.

To view The National Tribune article Indigenous Leadership Key to Halting Nature’s Destruction in full click here and for more information about COP15 you can access the UN Biodiversity Conference (COP15) webpage  on the UN Environment Programme website here.

Sector Jobs

Sector Jobs – you can see sector job listings on the NACCHO website here.

Advertising Jobs – to advertise a job vacancy click here to go to the NACCHO website Current job listings webpage. Scroll down to the bottom of the page to find a Post A Job form. You can complete this form with your job vacancy details – it will then be approved for posting and go live on the NACCHO website.

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: 2023 National COVID-19 Health Management Plan

The image in the feature tile is from the cover of the Australian Government’s 16 page National COVID-19 Health Management Plan for 2023.

2023 National COVID-19 Health Management Plan

A National COVID-19 Health Management Plan (the National Plan) has been developed to outline the Australian Government health supports to manage COVID-19 over the next 12 months. These health supports have been informed by the likely 2023 Australian epidemiological outlook and advice from the Chief Medical Officer, Professor Paul Kelly.

Over 2023, Australia will transition to managing COVID-19 in a similar way to other respiratory viruses, moving away from COVID exceptionalism and bespoke arrangements. While we are learning more about the virus and its impacts on the community and health systems all the time, we are not yet at a “steady state” where we can predict and manage it within normal systems. This means health response measures are still required.

The National Plan summarises the interconnecting whole-of-system measures to transition our management of COVID-19, while maintaining a state of readiness and capacity to respond as the pandemic continues to evolve.

You can access the Australian Government’s 16 page National COVID-19 Health Management Plan for 2023 in full here.

NACCHO affiliates doing us proud

The Aboriginal Health Council of SA (AHCSA) Sexual Health Team has won the People’s Choice Awards Sexual Health Poster! The AHCSA Sexual Health team beat 150 other entrants to claim top prize for this incredible piece of work that we are so proud of.

Have a read below of the significance of the work and how the group achieved the unbelievable outcome in the link here.

AHCSA Sexual Health Team’s winning People’s Choice Award Sexual Health Poster.

Meanwhile last week VACCHO co-hosted a workshop with the Australian Indigenous Doctors’ Association (AIDA), bringing together representatives of 12 Specialist Medical Colleges.

The workshop centred on improving the recruitment and retention of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander doctors in Specialist training. Whether it’s radiology, dermatology, surgery, or any other specialty, colleges need to develop culturally safe and supportive training pathways to help grow the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Specialists in our health services.

VACCHO acknowledged the deadly work AIDA is doing to build strong partnerships across the health workforce, to develop future generations of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander doctors.

Participants of the VACCHO and AIDA workshop.

Governments must act to raise the age

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, health, legal and human rights organisations have welcomed the release of a government report and called on Attorneys-General to immediately act on its recommendation to raise the age of criminal responsibility with no exceptions. The report was prepared by a Working Group chaired by the WA Department of Justice, and included representation from justice departments from each state, territory and the Commonwealth government.

The Council of Attorneys-General Age of Criminal Responsibility Working Group report lists recommendations based on the findings of the review stating: “A primary recommendation to increase the minimum age of criminal responsibility to 14 years without exceptions.” The report, prepared in 2020, was informed by over 90 public submissions made by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, health, legal and human rights organisations and experts. The Human Rights Law Centre previously made repeated Freedom of Information requests to obtain a copy of the report, with all requests refused.

The current low age of criminal responsibility disproportionately impacts Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and is a key driver of contact with police and the criminal legal system. Raising the age would reduce the overrepresentation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in prisons and help governments meet their Closing The Gap targets. The report noted that to turn “the tide on First Nations incarceration rates requires Commonwealth, state and territory governments to work in partnership with First Nations people and organisations.”

To view the Human Rights Law Centre article Governments must act on justice department advice to #RaiseTheAge to at least 14 in full click here.

Improving lives and mental health of youth

Each year the achievements and contributions of eminent Australians are celebrated through the Australian of the Year Awards by profiling leading citizens who are role models for us all. They inspire us through their achievements and challenge us to make our own contribution to creating a better Australia. The Awards honour an exceptional group of highly respected Australians who ignite discussion and change on issues of national importance. The Australian of the Year Awards provides everyone with the opportunity to recognise any Australian who makes them proud. The four Australian of the Year categories are:

  • Australian of the Year
  • Senior Australian of the Year (those aged 65 years or over)
  • Young Australian of the Year (ages 16 to 30)
  • Australia’s Local Hero

Jahdai Vigona has received the 2023 NT Young Australian of the Year award. Jahdai Vigona is at the forefront of mental health programs educating Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students. A proud Tiwi Islands man, he is passionate about improving the lives of Indigenous people.

WellMob: An Introduction

WellMob have produced a short, animated video WellMob: An Introduction describing the WellMob website. WellMob is a digital library of wellbeing resources made by and for our mob. These resources include apps, podcasts, websites, videos, social media and printable wellbeing materials. There are also training resources to support workers.

The WellMob: An Introduction video is for anyone interested in digital wellbeing resources, including health and wellbeing workers – it is from e-Mental Health in Practice and hosted by the Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet.

You can access more information and training resources from the WellMob website here.

Trailblazing Indigenous doctor

Trailblazing Indigenous doctor Dr Mark Wenitong has received an honorary Doctorate from Central Queensland University Australia, celebrating almost three decades of work to improve the health and wellbeing of First Nations peoples. Dr Wenitong, who is also board deputy chair of Community Enterprise Queensland, is one of Australia’s first Indigenous doctors and a leader and mentor in driving better First Nations healthcare.

Since graduating from Newcastle University Medical School in 1995, Dr Wenitong has practiced across central Australia and now in Far North Queensland, and was a founding member of the Australian Indigenous Doctors Association (AIDA). Dr Wenitong has been the Public Health Medical Advisor at Apunipima Cape York Health Council since 2008, where he continues to practice clinical medicine and remote health service systems and program delivery.

In addition to being an adjunct professor at the Queensland University of Technology, Dr Wenitong is the strategic advisor for the Lowitja Institute, Research Knowledge Translation and the inaugural Co-Chair of the Queensland Health Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Statewide Clinical Network. Dr Wenitong was previously appointed as the Aboriginal Public Health Medical Officer, and the acting chief executive at the NACCHO in 2012. It has been a long and remarkable journey.

To view the National Indigenous Times article Trailblazing Indigenous doctor honoured for outstanding career and contribution to First Nations health in full click here.

Dr Mark Wenitong. Image source: National Indigenous Times.

Sector Jobs

Sector Jobs – you can see sector job listings on the NACCHO website here.

Advertising Jobs – to advertise a job vacancy click here to go to the NACCHO website Current job listings webpage. Scroll down to the bottom of the page to find a Post A Job form. You can complete this form with your job vacancy details – it will then be approved for posting and go live on the NACCHO website.

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: NACCHO Deputy CEO talks about HIV

The image in the feature tile is of NACCHO Deputy CEO Dr Dawn Casey PSM.

NACCHO Deputy CEO talks about HIV

Yesterday NACCHO Deputy CEO Dr Dawn Casey spoke to Lola Forester on Blackchat, Koori Radio 93.7 FM about positive actions being taken to get the right information out to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities about HIV. Dr Casey said the community is tracking pretty well in terms of the numbers of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people contracting HIV and cases being reported. She said there’s been a massive program, funded by the Commonwealth Department of Health and Aged Care, over the last couple of years where many of the ACCHOs are involved in running programs for overall blood borne viruses (BBV) and STIs. Communities have made significant headway in terms of creating awareness about BBVs and STIs and prevention. Stigma and shame around HIV however continues to be a problem.

Dr Casey said so much more awareness needs to happen so people understand HIV is not threatening like it was many years ago. An issue that needs to be improved considerably is partner notification and contract tracing. ACCHOs are doing an incredible job with prevention programs and awareness campaigns, in language where required, around BBVs, STIs and HIV. Dr Casey and Lola reflected on the very inventive and funny ways ACCHOs have been getting the message out about safe sex, including condom trees.

You can listen to the 10-minute Koori Radio Blackchat radio interview in full by clicking here.

Koori Radio 93.7 FM Blackchat presenter Lola Forester.

Calls to stop ‘pipeline’ of shattered children

The Yoorrook Justice Commission has called for the age of criminal responsibility to be raised from 10 to at least 14, to help stop vulnerable Indigenous children getting “lost in the pipeline” of child protection and criminal justice systems. The Standing Council of Attorneys-General – a group of attorneys-general from federal, state and territory governments that focuses on best practices in law reform – will review the age of criminal responsibility when it meets later this week.

Counsel assisting the Yoorrook Justice Commission Fiona McLeod, SC, urged the council to consider First Nations people, “the many, many reports into this issue” and the testimonies that would be heard at the commission’s public hearings this week. McLeod said the number of First Nations children in out-of-home care in Victoria was “heading in the wrong direction” and contributing to a high incarceration rate among First Nations people. “It appears the current system is failing in its fundamental object of child protection,” she said. “It appears it is broken. It is fuelling a pipeline of shattered children straight to our health services and our criminal justice system.”

To view the WAtoday article Call to raise age of criminal responsibility and stop ‘pipeline of shattered Indigenous children’ in full click here.

Kutcha Edwards and niece Eva Jo Edwards are survivors of the stolen generations. Photo: Simon Schluter. Image source: WAtoday.

Kids face higher rates of skin infections

Bacterial skin infections and atopic dermatitis may be underdiagnosed among urban Indigenous children, says a WA dermatologist and researcher. A systematic review, published in Pediatric Dermatology, assessed the burden of atopic dermatitis and bacterial skin conditions in Indigenous children and young people living in urban environments in high-income countries.

Researchers included 16 papers from Australia, NZ, Canada and Greenland spanning 26 years. “Atopic dermatitis is common among urban-living Indigenous children in high-income countries with current symptoms and current severe symptoms higher than their non-Indigenous peers,” the researchers wrote. “This may suggest under-treatment of atopic dermatitis, reflecting the socioeconomic disadvantage that disproportionately affects Indigenous people, creating financial barriers to primary and dermatologic care, prescription treatments, and costly skin care regimens.”

The researchers said S.aureus colonised the skin in atopic dermatitis, exacerbating the disease and increasing the risk of bacterial skin infections. “Untreated bacterial skin infections can lead to serious complications including sepsis, post-infectious glomerulonephritis, and rheumatic heart disease,” they wrote. Urban-living Indigenous children in Australia and other high-income countries shared a history of colonisation, displacement and negative impacts on health, said lead author and dermatologist, Dr Bernadette Ricciardo from the University of WA and the Telethon Kids Institute.

To read the Medical Republic article Kids face higher rates of infections click here.

Image source: Medical Republic.

Healthy Skin Week in Maningrida

Mala’la Health Service recently coordinated Healthy Skin Week to promote early identification and treatment of skin infections in a bid to lower long term health conditions such as Acute Rheumatic Fever, Rheumatic Heart and Kidney Disease. Over five days, the dedicated crew of Aboriginal Community Health Workers, Nurses and Volunteer Doctors assessed and treated more than 1,200 people in Maningrida and outstations. Outreach clinics through late night shops, child and family centre and public spaces around the community provided extra points of access for the community.

Natasha Bond was involved in leading the community response with home-to-home visits and workshops to provide health information and support. “Rheumatic Heart Disease (RHD) is a huge concern for our mob, we have the highest rates of RHD in the world. We want to encourage everyone to work on this together, get treatment straight away and stop further health complications”.

In the lead up to Healthy Skin Week, West Arnhem Regional Council coordinated hard-rubbish collections with Stedman’s also coming on board to provide Skip Bins at various sites. Maningrida College hosted multiple workshops with the school students from kindy to seniors’ cohorts. These Workshops were delivered by the Mala’la team of Aboriginal Health Workers in-training, Natasha Bond and Eileen Gunabarra alongside Jennifer Damsey in Burarra and English languages.

To view the West Arnhem Regional Council article Healthy Skin Week in Maningrida in full click here.

Image source: West Arnhem Land Regional Council website.

Informing National Health and Climate Strategy

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander knowledge and leadership will inform climate health policy and action at all levels under a discussion paper that is being circulated for feedback to inform development of a National Health and Climate Strategy. This is the first of six principles informing the paper, and “recognises the role of First Nations people in protecting and caring for Country, that Indigenous ecological knowledge should be considered in policy development, and that First Nations’ engagement will lead to better health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples”.

Other principles informing the paper are that:

  • a more sustainable healthcare system will improve public health outcomes
  • all Australians have equal access to a strong and climate-resilient health system, both now and in the future
  • evidence underpins strategies and actions
  • all levels of government and stakeholders work in partnership to implement agreed focus areas and actions
  • a health lens is applied to climate change policy.

The paper asks readers to consider whether other principles should be considered. “For example, should transparency, reporting and accountability also be included as a key principle underpinning the Strategy?” While the paper “acknowledges that some populations, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, rural and remote communities, elderly Australians and Australians from lower socio-economic backgrounds, are more vulnerable to poorer health outcomes from the impacts of climate change”, it does not mention the term ‘health equity’. Nor does ‘climate justice’ rate a mention.

To read the Croakey Health Media article On the National Health and Climate Strategy, how’s it shaping up? in full click here.

Raylene Lenmardi and Sumayah Surprise, Ngurrara Rangers. Image source: WWF Australia.

Winnunga Nimmityjah health centre opens

The Winnunga Nimmityjah health centre opened in a formal ceremony on Saturday 3 December 2022 is the first purpose-built facility of its type in the ACT. CEO Julie Tongs said “This building is a huge game-changer in many ways and is a true testament to Aboriginal self-determination.” She said it was needed because the life expectancy of Aboriginal people and Torres Strait islanders was still far behind that of the wider community.

The elegant purpose-built building in Narrabundah will serve about 5,000 people a year in about 60,000 visits. “We’ve got so many people who are vulnerable,” she said. “Here, in Canberra, people think it’s the land of milk and honey but it’s not for a lot of people.”

At a cost of $20 million, it will provide a wide range of medical facilities for Aboriginal people in the territory. There are six GPs, three nurse practitioners and 14 nurses. Physical and mental health will be dealt with at the centre. Julie Tongs is clearly very proud. “This is a huge deal because it’s what our community deserves,” she said.

To read The Canberra Times article Winnunga Nimmityjah health centre, the ACT’s first Aboriginal-run health centre, to open in full click here.

Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health and Community Services chief executive Julie Tongs at the new centre. Photo: Keegan Carroll. Image source: The Canberra Times.

Sector Jobs

Sector Jobs – you can see sector job listings on the NACCHO website here.

Advertising Jobs – to advertise a job vacancy click here to go to the NACCHO website Current job listings webpage. Scroll down to the bottom of the page to find a Post A Job form. You can complete this form with your job vacancy details – it will then be approved for posting and go live on the NACCHO website.

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Pharmacist Scholarship recipient Bryony Forrest

The image in the feature tile is of NACCHO Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Pharmacist Scholarship recipient Bryony Forrest during an interview at the 2022 NACCHO Members’ Conference in Canberra.

Pharmacist Scholarship recipient Bryony Forrest

Bryony Forrest (Darumbal / Kanolu), an aspiring deadly pharmacist and a recipient of the NACCHO Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Pharmacist Scholarship was interviewed at the recent NACCHO Members’ Conference following the Medicines and Pharmacy stream session.

In February 2022, NACCHO announced applications were open for the inaugural NACCHO Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Pharmacist Scholarship, proudly supported by a grant from Sanofi Australia. The scholarship provides subsidy and support for prospective or current Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander pharmacy students and aims to build the pharmacist workforce among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. It includes tailored mentoring from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health leaders.

In April 2022 NACCHO was pleased to announce the five successful recipients. Though the scholarship was initially established to support two applicants, the quality and number of applicants led to the expansion of the program:

  • Bryony Forrest, Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT)
  • Jai-ann Eastaughffe, James Cook University
  • James Sowter, RMIT
  • Jason Coleman, University of SA
  • Louis Emery, Queensland University of Technology (QUT)

Dr Dawn Casey, NACCHO Deputy CEO said, ‘NACCHO was impressed with the calibre and volume of applicants we received, especially in this first year of the scholarship’s implementation. We are proud to provide opportunities that help build leadership and skills amongst Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health professionals, who are significantly underrepresented in the pharmacy profession.’

Karen Hood, Sanofi’s Country Lead said, ‘As members of Australia’s healthcare community we know how important it is to listen to, and work in partnership with, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities to improve health outcomes and support meaningful steps toward a more fair, equal and just society. ‘Recognising the crucial role pharmacists play in our health system and the clear need for greater Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander participation in this field of study, we are delighted to be supporting the inaugural NACCHO scholarship as another step toward improving health and economic participation as determined by Australia’s First Peoples.’

Bryony Forrest said ‘I have always had a passion for pharmacy from when I started as a pharmacy assistant in 2018, which only deepened as time went on and I gained more experience in this field. Connecting with my community is extremely important to me and forming these meaningful connections with individuals in the context of health showed me how powerful being a pharmacist is, and what a unique opportunity it holds for health interventions and long-term health solutions in improving the lives of others. I look forward to practising as a pharmacist and making a difference for other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.’

You can find further information about the NACCHO Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Pharmacist Scholarship on the NACCHO website here and listen to Bryony Forrest’s interview below.

Winnunga Health and Wellbeing Service at AMC

Winnunga has been operating the standalone Winnunga Health and Wellbeing Service in the AMC (Alexander Maconochie Centre, ACT adult prison) since January 2019, within its own model of care. This is an Australian first and one Winnunga believes will prove to be one of the most significant advances in the care and rehabilitation of Aboriginal detainees. Development of this service required meeting the RACGP Standards for health services in Australian prisons with infrastructure, staffing, equipment and policies. The service provides high quality holistic care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in prison and continuity upon a client’s release from prison.

A client satisfaction survey of the Winnunga prison health and wellbeing service was published in the Journal of the Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet in February 2022. Participant responses indicated a high quality of care across all five aspects of
care that were evaluated (participation in care; care design; care planning and self management; care coordination; follow up and respectful care). At least three-quarters of respondents indicated that they had received the specified aspects of care ‘Most of the time’ or ‘Always’. The provision of respectful care was rated particularly high, with all respondents indicating that they always had things explained in a way they could understand, had their concerns listened to, and felt that they and their beliefs were respected by Winnunga staff. Clients were also highly satisfied with the care provided to them and their families through Winnunga.

The most common suggestions for improvement in the client survey related to Winnunga not yet having an opioid replacement pharmacotherapy program so some clients could not be transferred to Winnunga care. This has now been addressed and more detainees have access to the Winnunga prison health and wellbeing service

The above information about the AMC Health and Wellbeing Service Survey was published the Winnunga News November 2022 edition here. You can read the Evaluating Patient Experience at a Novel Health Service for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Prisoners: A Pilot Study article here.

Winnunga Health Clinic at Alexander Maconochie Centre. Image source: The Canberra Times.

HIV and sexual health webinar this WEDNESDAY

The Australasian Society for HIV, Viral Hepatitis and Sexual Health Medicine (ASHM), the Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations (AFAO) and NACCHO are partnering to deliver a webinar during Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander HIV Awareness Week 2022, to discuss available HIV resources and support that we can offer to the sexual health sector. The purpose of the HIV Toolkit Webinar is to provide ACCHOs and the HIV and Sexual Health Sector with culturally appropriate, evidence informed, and effective training for workers to build the capacity and confidence to support and educate their Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander clients around HIV and sexual health.

The webinar also aims to increase the uptake and utilisation of AFAO’s recently published ‘Healthcare Workforce Toolkit: HIV and Sexual Health for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people tool kit as an ongoing resource with comprehensive information, including to help improve rates of HIV and sexual health testing, and to increase the awareness and uptake of HIV treatment, and prevention tools including condoms, PrEP (Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis) and PEP (Post-Exposure Prophylaxis).

The webinar is from 12:00 pm to 1:00 pm (AEST) Wednesday 7 November 2022. To REGISTER click here.

ACCO literacy campaign linked to crime reduction

Researchers from Literacy for Life Foundation, the Lowitja Institute and the University of NSW have authored a report about the beneficial impacts of a First Nations community-controlled adult literacy campaign. The most significant quantitative finding was a 50% reduction in reported serious offences in a sample of 162 campaign participants. Qualitative data from interviews found an increased use of legal assistance services following the campaign. These findings are contextualised through the lived experiences and perceptions of First Nations campaign staff and participants, community leaders and government and non-government agency personnel.

This study demonstrates the potential benefits of an adult literacy campaign in reducing the incidence of negative justice system outcomes in rural and remote NSW Indigenous communities with low levels of English literacy. By drawing on linked administrative data to corroborate self-reported and observer reported data, this study has shown that participation in a community-controlled Aboriginal adult literacy campaign correlates with reductions in the average number of total offences, especially those related to traffic and justice procedures.

Of particular note, serious offences were halved in our study group, especially in women and in relation to assault. The analysis of qualitative data indicates that improved literacy may lead to greater degrees of self-control, among other positive impacts. If efforts to reduce the overrepresentation of Indigenous adults in the criminal justice system are to be successful, further research into and resourcing of adult literacy interventions is urgently required. Such research can assist in moving beyond simplistic law-and-order agendas by acknowledging that ‘building of positive futures for communities relies on building a foundation of well addressed non-criminal needs’.

You can read the International Journal for Crime, Justice and Social Democracy article Impact of a Community-Controlled Adult Literacy Campaign on Crime and Justice Outcomes in Remote Australian Aboriginal Communities in full here.

Image source: Literacy for Life Foundation website.

What’s next for our kids? asks Chris Bin Kali

Deputy Chairperson, Aboriginal Health Council of WA (AHCWA) Chris Bin Kali has written an opinion piece published in the National Indigenous Times last Friday about Premier Mark McGowan announcement of a $63m plan to address conditions for youth in detention. Bin Kali said while it is clear that additional funding is desperately needed, so is clarity around what is next for our young people in detention.

Bin Kali said a single funding announcement is not enough to make lasting change, ‘We know that in Australia, Aboriginal youth are disproportionately represented in youth detention. A large majority of the youth detainees currently at Banksia Hill are Aboriginal.  Under the National Agreement on Closing the Gap, the WA Government has committed to partnerships and shared decision-making with Aboriginal people about issues impacting our lives, and to improving the accountability and responsiveness of government to the needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.”

“To honour these commitments, the WA Government must listen to Aboriginal people and partner with us to find solutions to these issues. We know that these problems are complex and will require long-term changes across a range of areas. We know how troubled some of our young people are and the healing they need. We don’t pretend these things can be fixed overnight. But we are certain that they won’t be fixed without prioritising Aboriginal voices.”

To view the NIT article What next for our kids, Premier? in full click here.

Chris Bin Kali. Photo supplies by AHCWA. Image source: National Indigenous Times.

NDIS Ready videos and social media tiles

At the end of 2021 NACCHO delivered over $1.25m in grants to 57 Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations (ACCOs) to support the delivery of culturally safe and appropriate National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) services to their communities. The grants were delivered through the NDIS Ready program which is funded by the Department of Social Services.

The Indigenous Business Support Funding (IBSF) grants, worth $22,000 each, are designed to build the capacity of ACCHOs and ACCOs to deliver disability services sustainably under the NDIS by empowering them with the resources they need to be NDIS ready. This will support the growth of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander NDIS market and workforce and help improve access to culturally safe services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with disability.

Some of the funding has been used by NACCHO affiliates to produce the following videos:

AHCWA

AH&MRC

AHCSA (no videos)

Sector Jobs

Sector Jobs – you can see sector job listings on the NACCHO website here.

Advertising Jobs – to advertise a job vacancy click here to go to the NACCHO website Current job listings webpage. Scroll down to the bottom of the page to find a Post A Job form. You can complete this form with your job vacancy details – it will then be approved for posting and go live on the NACCHO website.

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: ‘Mixed progress’ calls for better collaboration

The image in the feature tile is Minister for Indigenous Australians Linda Burney during Question Time in the House of Representatives at Parliament House in Canberra, yesterday Tuesday 29 November 2022. Photo: Mick Tsikas, AAP Image. The image is from the SBS NITV article Closing the Gap targets widening in serious areas including incarceration and children in out-of-home care published today.

‘Mixed progress’ calls for better collaboration

Minister for Indigenous Australians Linda Burney will present the findings of the 2022 Closing the Gap report to parliament today. The report shows signs of mixed progress on Closing the Gap targets, with the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians widening in some of the most serious areas:

While some targets are improving or “on track”:

  • Babies born with a healthy birthweight (89.5%)
  • Children enrolled in preschool (96.7%)

other targets are worsening or “not on track”:

  • Children being school ready (34.3%)
  • Adults in prison (2,222 per 100,000)
  • Children in out-of-home care (57.6 per 1,000)

This is the first Commonwealth Closing the Gap Annual Report since the launch of the 2020 National Agreement and Commonwealth Closing the Gap Implementation Plan released in August 2021. In 2020, an agreement between the federal government, the Coalition of Peaks, all state and territory governments and the Australian Local Government Association (ALGA) was struck, aiming to renew ways of working together to improve outcomes for Indigenous Australians. The groups agreed to improve 18 socio-economic outcomes across health, education, employment, housing, justice, safety, land and waters, culture, language and connectivity.

Minister Burney said the latest annual report told a story of mixed progress, and that it is disappointing to see a lack of progress in a number of areas. “The Closing the Gap architecture can only work when all parties are invested and there is a coordinated effort from all jurisdictions in partnership with First Nations peoples,” she said. “We have to work more closely with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to make real and much-needed progress.”

To view the SBS NITV article Closing the Gap targets widening in serious areas including incarceration and children in out-of-home care in full click here. You can access the report here and also view the Minister Burney and Senator McCarthy joint media release 2022 Closing the Gap Annual Report here.

Churchill Fellows offer policy insights

NACCHO representatives were in attendance earlier today at Australian Parliament House for the launch Policy Futures: A Reform Agenda. This is the flagship publication of the Policy Impact Program, a partnership between The University of Queensland and The Winston Churchill Memorial Trust.

The publication includes articles from ten Policy Impact Program Fellows 2022, including the below four with specific relevance to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health sector:

  • Belinda Cook: First Nations First: Targeted investment to grow a dynamic and sustainable First Nations fashion sector
  • Dr Niroshini Kenney: Safe, Healthy & Thriving: How culturally safe health care can close the gap for Aboriginal children in care
  • Clement Ng: It’s Time to Treat Sick Kids, Not Punish Them
  • Maida Stewart: Healthy Housing Programs: For Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities with high rates of acute rheumatic fever and rheumatic heart disease

To more information about the launch you can access the Winston Churchill Trust website here.

Clockwise: Belinda Cook, Dr Niroshini Kennedy, Clement Ng and Maida Stewart. Image source: Winston Churchill Trust website.

Holistic approach to child health and education

A community-based preschool in regional NSW is now a hub for the health of its community. Jumbunna Community Preschool and Early Intervention Centre, in Casino, NSW, is now an inclusive, holistic environment where families can access support and therapy for children with additional needs, along with accessing a preschool program. Jumbunna’s growth is proof of how needed its services have been in the regional community of Casino.

It became an early intervention centre in 1992 after originally starting as a community-based preschool. Jumbunna provides early intervention for around 130 children each year, including children with disabilities, delays in development or those who are at risk of delays for environmental or biological reasons. It serves many families from vulnerable backgrounds.

Jumbunna has now grown to include supported playgroups, mobile preschools that visit nearby remote communities, and parenting support. The centre is also an NDIS provider. Some service providers travel to attend the centre and hold clinics, including a paediatrician who comes over from Lismore. This is useful for families that aren’t able to access paediatricians, whether for financial reasons, difficulty accessing transport, or inability to get a referral.

Staff at Jumbunna have embedded themselves in the community to learn more about what services are needed, and its commitment to the health and wellbeing of children has travelled by word of mouth to more families. They’ve also developed relationships with local health services and the Aboriginal Medical Service. To better support local First Nations children, Jumbunna hosts the Happy Program which checks hearing and vision.

To read the Australia ProBono News article Jumbunna grows with community in full click here.

Jumbunna Community Preschool and Early Intervention Centre staff. Image source: Pro Bono News.

Arthritis, one of the most prevalent, costly diseases

Despite arthritis being one of our most prevalent and expensive diseases, impacting over 3.6m Australians (or 1 in 7) and costing $14b per year, a new report has identified major gaps in research, and confirmed the condition has one of the lowest levels of research funding of all chronic health conditions – keeping Australia dangerously ‘in the dark’ on this health priority.

The Arthritis Australia Impactful Arthritis Research report calls for an urgent focus on arthritis research. Arthritis and musculoskeletal conditions account for 13% of the country’s total disease burden, on par with cardiovascular disease (13%), mental health (13%) and cancer (18%). But just 1% of the Medical Research Future Fund has been on arthritis and musculoskeletal conditions.

Arthritis is a leading cause of disability in Australia, affecting people of all ages with the number diagnosed with arthritis set to rise to 5.4m by 2030. Yet it remains poorly understood by the community, often trivialised and firmly focussed on the bones and joints, ignoring the significant broader health and life impacts on those living with the condition. The costs are extraordinary with over $2.3b a year spent currently on hip and knee replacements for osteoarthritis. This is anticipated to more than double to $5.3 billion per year by 2030.

The report outlines urgent research priorities with an emphasis on improved care, research across the multiple types of arthritis and musculoskeletal conditions, and the needs of communities and priority populations – including children, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, those living in rural and remote areas, and people with disabilities.

To read the Mirage article Australians ‘in dark’ with arthritis: one of our most prevalent and costly diseases in full click here.

Image source: Tristate Arthritis & Rheumatology website.

Crucial turning points for CTG intervention

A multi-disciplinary team of researchers will use more than 40 years of data to pinpoint crucial areas that could be “turning points” in development where intervention could contribute to closing the gap in Aboriginal health in Australia. The team, led by Telethon Kids Institute and The University of WA researcher, Associate Professor Francis Mitrou, has been awarded a prestigious Synergy Grant by the National Health and Medical Research Council.

The five-year study, in partnership with Aboriginal communities, will use data from the West Australian Aboriginal Child Health Survey (WAACHS) of more than 5,000 Aboriginal children and their families collected between 2000 and 2002, and which has been linked to administrative datasets from WA Government, some stretching back more than 40 years.

The milestone study is one of the most significant studies of its kind examining the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal children, conducted under the principles of Indigenous Data Sovereignty.

To view The University of WA article Rich data to highlight crucial turning points for intervention to close the gap in Aboriginal health in full click here.

ACT prison an overcrowded powderkeg

The ACT’s prison is no longer able to cope with the rising number of detainees and conditions inside the wire continue to deteriorate, with boredom and lack of education and training opportunities chronic issues feeding unrest, a new report says. The ACT Inspector of Correctional Services’ latest health check of the Alexander Maconochie Centre (AMC) paints a damning picture of an overcrowded facility where women detainees feel unsafe, Indigenous detainees are subject to harsher discipline and cut off from family and culture, and a lack of meaningful activity generally leads to outbreaks of violence.

The Healthy Prison Review is only the second report since the first in 2019 and says the past three years have been challenging. The COVID-19 pandemic significantly impacted AMC operations with fewer staff due to illness, detainees spending more time in their cells and a reduction in programs and visits but it alone cannot account for the deteriorating situation.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander detainees are overrepresented in higher security classifications, uses of force, strip searches and as subjects of segregation orders, and feel their cultural and health needs are not being met. “Not being able to see family, attend Sorry Business, or practice cultural responsibilities causes significant harm for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and compounds dislocation from community,” the report says. “Disconnection from culture/family also increases the difficulty in re-engaging with community upon release.”

Aboriginal community controlled health service Winnunga Nimmityjah is making a difference at the AMC providing primary care but only about 30% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander detainees are able to access this service at any one time. The report makes 29 recommendations including expanding the health centre and other facilities, increasing women’s accommodation, exploring the feasibility of a multi-purpose industries building, and creating a senior Aboriginal-identified position to find ways to reduce the disadvantages of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander detainees.

To view the Riotact article ACT’s prison an overcrowded powderkeg past its use by date, says report in full click here. You can also access a related statement Review of ACT Prison Reveals Serious Concerns by from ACT Council of Social Service (ACTCOSS) here.

Alexander Maconochie Centre. Photo: Ian Cutmore, ABC News.

Sector Jobs

Sector Jobs – you can see sector job listings on the NACCHO website here.

Advertising Jobs – to advertise a job vacancy click here to go to the NACCHO website Current job listings webpage. Scroll down to the bottom of the page to find a Post A Job form. You can complete this form with your job vacancy details – it will then be approved for posting and go live on the NACCHO website.

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Big believer in ACCHO model of health care

The image in the feature tile is of Dr David Scrimgeour who has published a book about his experiences working in the Western Desert. Photo: Giulia Bertoglio, ABC Goldfields. Image source: ABC News article Reflections on Australia’s last desert nomads, Pintupi Nine and Richters, and the homelands movement published on Sunday 27 November 2022.

Big believer in ACCHO model of health care

When Australia’s last groups of nomads walked out of the desert, David Scrimgeour was the first doctor to examine them. Dr Scrimgeour recounts this experience as well as two defining moments in Aboriginal history: the homelands movement and the push for Aboriginal-controlled health care in his book Remote As Ever: The Aboriginal struggle for autonomy in the Western Desert.

Dr Scrimgeour is a big believer in the Aboriginal community-controlled model of health care and hopes his book will show how important autonomy is for Aboriginal communities — particularly, he said, as government policies have ebbed away at the pride people felt when the communities were first established. “I think it’s important that that the Australian public generally are aware of how people did get out here to these communities,” he said. “And how important taking control of your own life is for people’s health.”

Dr Scrimgeour said there was now another social movement taking place in remote Aboriginal communities that gave him hope for the future. He described it as the “caring for country movement”, which was underpinned by ranger programs. He believes funding local people to undertake ecological and cultural work on country not only helps the environment but also people’s physical and spiritual health. “Caring for country is good for the health of the people,” he said. “It’s good for the health of the country. It’s good for the health of the whole country of Australia.”

To read the ABC News article Reflections on Australia’s last desert nomads, Pintupi Nine and Richters, and the homelands movement in full click here.

Aboriginal health practitioner Tyson Stevens, remote area nurse Simon Gabrynowicz, Dr Scrimgeour and Aboriginal health worker Winmati Roberts all worked at the Spinifex Health Service. Photo: Paul Bulley. Image source: ABC News.

Researchers need to invest time to build trust

Historically in Australia, research has been a dirty word among First Nations communities, some of the most ‘researched on’ people in the country. They got no ownership of the data obtained from their participation, no recognition of their sovereignty and no help in building their own research capacity. But there’s been a national push to try to ensure that research is driven, and co-designed, by Indigenous Australians themselves. Increasingly, national funders, including the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC), require grant applicants to provide evidence of Indigenous partnerships, including Indigenous leadership.

As part of short series of articles about decolonizing the biosciences, paediatric lung researcher Pamela Laird has outlined the steps that clinical researchers must take to establish and maintain trusting relationships with Indigenous communities that they serve. Based at the University of WA and at Telethon Kids Institute, both in Perth, Laird’s team has spent years laying the foundation to study respiratory disease in Indigenous Australian children.

To view the nature article Invest the time to build trust among marginalized research participants in full click here.

Pamela Laird (right) and her team have spent years earning the trust of Indigenous Australian mothers whose children participate in respiratory research. Image source: nature.

NT set to raise age of criminal responsibility

The NT is this week set to become the first Australian jurisdiction to raise the age of criminal responsibility from 10 to 12 years old. The move has been praised by health organisations and Indigenous groups, who say it will prevent children from becoming trapped in the criminal justice system. But the plan has also come under fire from the territory’s opposition, who say it risks encouraging youth offenders, and from paediatricians who say the age should be raised even higher.

In all Australian states and territories, the current minimum age of criminal responsibility is 10 — much younger than most other developed nations. Governments on both sides of politics have been under growing pressure to radically overhaul how they deal with youth offending since a Four Corners investigation into youth detention made global headlines in 2016.

At the centre of the investigation was the treatment of detainees inside Don Dale Youth Detention Centre near Darwin. The shocking vision included in the episode led to a royal commission which, among other things, recommended raising the age of criminal responsibility to 12. This is below the United Nations’ recommended minimum age of criminal responsibility, which was set at 14 by the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child in 2019.  Last year, in an escalation of international pressure, 31 UN member states called on Australia to raise the age as part of the Universal Periodic Review. But so far, only the NT and the ACT have announced plans to legislate the change.

To view the ABC News article Northern Territory set to become first Australian jurisdiction to raise age of criminal responsibility. Here’s what that means in full click here.

The NT’s minimum age of criminal responsibility is set to to be raised from 10 to 12. Photo: Tristan Hooft, ABC News.

WA Premier needs to “take notice” of evidence

Mark McGowan says “activists” like former Australian of the Year Fiona Stanley, who are campaigning for major reform of WA’s youth justice system, are not “dealing with the real world”. Professor Stanley, at the weekend described WA as the “worst” State for the development health of children. She called for the age of criminality to increase from 10 to 14, for the juvenile Unit 18 at Casuarina Prison to close by Christmas and for the McGowan Government to adopt Aboriginal service-led solutions.

The highly-respected child health advocate also publicly urged Mr McGowan to “take notice” of research and evidence that showed early intervention could prevent children from being locked-up. “We know from our studies, in our Telethon Kids Institute, that nearly 90 per cent of the children who have gone into Banksia and have been transferred into Casuarina have a major developmental disorder, either FASD (fetal alcohol syndrome) or ADHD or an intellectual disability. It’s not just FASD — it’s early life trauma, it’s actually intergenerational trauma.” Prof Stanley said. “Now, if you know that and understand it — and we have briefed every minister about that — how could you then do what’s happening to children in Banksia and Casuarina … it beggars belief.”

Former Labor premier Dr Carmen Lawrence joined forces with Prof Stanley to criticise the current Labor Government’s approach to youth detention, saying “it was a “disgrace” that so many young people were still being incarcerated in WA and that it was a “breach of any decent standards” to detain children at an adult prison. If you think of your own children or grandchildren, you’ll know that if they were kept in solitary confinement, even for an hour, they would start to climb up the walls. It’s inevitable that children will not behave well in those circumstances, so those practices have to stop,” she said.

To read the Kalgoolie Miner article Banksia Hill: Premier Mark McGowan slams activists’ ‘fanciful’ ideas regarding WA’s youth justice system in full click here.

On Sunday, Professor Stanley endorsed a suggestion that because 80% of the children in detention were Aboriginal, the aim should be for 80% of the facility’s staff to be Aboriginal. Photo: Andrew Ritchie, The West Australian.

AEC launches First Nations enrolment drive

The Australian Electoral Commission has launched a month-long advertising and communication campaign aimed at empowering First Nations Australians to have their say at electoral events. Electoral Commissioner Tom Rogers says the campaign is aimed at the estimated 101,000 Indigenous Australians who are not enrolled to vote.

“Australia’s estimated Indigenous enrolment rate of 81.7% is the highest it’s ever been, but we’re not going to be satisfied until we’ve closed the gap with the broader national enrolment rate,” Mr Rogers said. “There is clearly the likelihood of a referendum soon with a topic specific to First Nations Australians, making high levels of enrolment and engagement even more important.”

To read the AEC media release Vote Loud. Vote Proud. AEC launches First Nations enrolment drive in full here.

CSIRO postgraduate scholarships available

The CSIRO has Master and PhD scholarships available for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students who are enrolled in an Australian university and wish to undertake a postgraduate research degree.

If you have studied in any of the following disciplines, the CSIRO is especially keen to hear from you:

  • science
  • technology
  • engineering
  • maths.

The CSIRO postgraduate scholarships provide additional funding to a research training program (RTP) Scholarship, Centrelink education scheme payment or equivalent scholarship. Applicants must be of Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander descent and enrolled in an Australian university.

Students can apply at any time of the year!!

You can find more information about the CSIRO Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Postgraduate Scholarships by clicking here.

Sector Jobs

Sector Jobs – you can see sector job listings on the NACCHO website here.

Advertising Jobs – to advertise a job vacancy click here to go to the NACCHO website Current job listings webpage. Scroll down to the bottom of the page to find a Post A Job form. You can complete this form with your job vacancy details – it will then be approved for posting and go live on the NACCHO website.

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: NAAJA responds to 4 Corners Locking Up Kids episode

The image in the feature tile is from an article Locking up kids damages their mental health and leads to more disadvantage. Is this what we want? published on the UNSW Sydney Newsroom webpage on 21 June 2019.

NAAJA responds to 4 Corners Locking Up Kids episode

As one of the leading legal services representing the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander (Aboriginal) community in the NT, the North Australian Aboriginal Justice Agency (NAAJA) has been witnessing the steady decline of the youth justice system failing our kids and families. NAAJA supports Acting Children’s Commissioner Nicole Hucks concerns raised on Monday night’s 4 Corner’s and calls on the NT Government to do more to protect the safety of our vulnerable young people.

NAAJA CEO, Priscilla Atkins “welcomes the steps Attorney-General and Minister of Justice Chansey Paech has taken towards tackling some of our concerns by introducing raising the age of criminal responsibility to 12 and other important legislative reform but there is still more we can be doing.” Five years since the Royal Commission into the Protection and Detention of Children in the NT we still have children as young as 10 detained in a condemned facility.

To view the NAAJA media release Youth Detention in Australia is an abuse of human rights in full click here.

The Law Council of Australia and the Law Society of WA are deeply concerned by the revelations in last night’s Four Corners report of the excessive use of force and restraints directed at children at Banksia Hill Detention Centre. “These events further demonstrate the urgent need for all governments to take meaningful and urgent actions to ensure youth detention facilities are managed in accordance with Australia’s international obligations,” Law Council of Australia President, Mr Tass Liveris said. “It also highlights once more the need to address the alarming overrepresentation of First Nations children in the youth justice system. Recent figures suggest that First Nations children make-up around half of young people in detention and just 6% of the population.”

You can read the Law Council of Australia and the Law Society of WA’s joint media release Excessive use of force on children unconscionable in full here.

You can watch the ABC Four Corners episode Locking Up Kids: Australia’s failure to protect children in detention in full by clicking this link.

Aspiring health workers’ Kimberley immersion

Liesl Dowling, an experienced nurse and midwife is a clinical facilitator at the Majarlin Kimberley Centre for Remote Health, one of 16 Commonwealth-funded university departments nationwide that gives aspiring health workers a taste of working in a rural or remote location.

Ms Dowling said on-the-ground experience was crucial for the students’ development. “When you come into a remote region and can actually see that there is poverty, it becomes a part of your lived experience and it becomes a concern to you,” she said. “It’s okay to read about the barriers to uptake in health care and the gap in outcomes between Aboriginal and mainstream Australians, but it’s all really words on paper until you really see it.”

Research published earlier this year found doctors who spent extended time in a rural placement were more likely to work there into the future. The Kimberley especially has long cried out for more permanent health workers and has suffered crippling staff shortages in recent years, especially for nurses. In its most recent annual report, the WA Country Health Service said an increasing reliance on expensive, transient locum and agency staff was partly to blame for higher health care costs.

Ms Dowling said the “immersion” of young health workers in a remote setting would help address the issue. “Transience is problematic. It poses barriers and some risks in delivering health care, because you don’t have that knowledge at the ground level,” she said.

To view the ABC News article Aspiring health workers get taste of outback in ‘eye-opening’ Kimberley immersion in full click here.

Sahar Abbasi said she enjoyed visiting Kalumburu to provide renal disease education. Photo: Liesl Dowling. Image source: ABC News.

PIP Indigenous Health Incentive guidelines updated

The Practice Incentives Program – Indigenous Health Incentive (PIP IHI) guidelines have been updated.

Important changes, including those below, will become effective on 1 January 2023.

  • People with mental health conditions are eligible for registration payments and completing GP Mental Health Treatment Plans and reviews will trigger Tier 1 outcome payments.
  • Children under 15 with chronic disease can be registered and are eligible for outcome payments.

Registering patients from November will mean they are eligible for these new payments in 2023.

You can access the PIP IHI guidelines here.

Water undrinkable in 500 remote communities

Tap water in more than 500 remote Indigenous communities isn’t regularly tested and often isn’t safe to drink, according to a water industry report released last week. In some communities, drinking water contained unacceptable levels of uranium, arsenic, fluoride and nitrate.

While these findings are dire, they aren’t news to us. There have been myriad reports over the years on the poor status of safe drinking water in Australia’s remote communities all pointing to inequity of essential services with implications for health. But little has been done to rectify this.

Safe drinking water is a basic human right, no matter where people live. First Nations communities have campaigned for decades for clean water on their Country. As Alyawarre Elders, Jackie Mahoney and Pam Corbett, from Alpurrurulam community in the NT explained during the report’s launch: “That’s why we’re fighting for this water. It’s not only for us, it’s for them too […] For our old people who fought before us and our kids’ future.”

Importantly, all remote essential service delivery and management actions, including water, need to be undertaken collaboratively. They should be led and authored by First Nations researchers, and draw from community strengths and knowledge wherever possible. This shifts water service efforts being for communities, to being with communities. Indeed, cultural sensitivity ad guidance is essential to ensure mutual respect and learning forms the basis of all supply delivery.

To view The Conversation article Countless reports show water is undrinkable in many Indigenous communities. Why has nothing changed? in full click here.

A related article Total restructure needed to tackle “immeasurable” water crisis in Indigenous communities published in the National Indigenous Times can be accessed here.

Beswick’s water is very high in calcium. Photo: Isaac Nowroozi, ABC News.

Mentoring workforce must be for right reasons

Candace Angelo’s thesis The lived experience of mentoring in the health and wellbeing workforce in NSW explores the experiences of mentoring in the working lives of a group of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and wellbeing professionals. Ms Angelo’a work seeks to understand the barriers and enablers of developing a sustainable skilled health workforce, and examines what impact mentoring has on both mentors and mentees.

Ms Angelo has identified three main themes, the being that mentoring works when done for the right reasons and in the right way, with an authentic workplace commitment. It is important to select the ‘right’ people as mentors, with the ‘right reasons’, ‘right way’, and ‘right people’ defined as being culturally safe, appropriate and accessible. Achieving this status must start with recruitment policies, strategies and practices. Her findings indicate that these practises need a fundamental shift.

Angelo’s second emerging theme centres on what mentoring can achieve.  With increased cultural safety and job satisfaction, a retained workforce can use mentoring to ultimately improve health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. Her final theme considers the challenges in mentoring. These include being able to centre Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander core values in mainstream health services. To do so requires changing the so-called ‘ideal worker theory’ and importantly, addressing endemic institutional racism.

To view the University of Sydney article Mentoring Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander workforce in full click here.

Candace Angelo. Image source: The University of Sydney News webpage.

Alarming NSW Central West health inequities

The Charles Sturt University Rural Health and Medical Research Institute (the Institute) has presented alarming statistics on health inequalities across five NSW Central West communities during a workshop yesterday. The workshop aimed to shine the light on health disparities between First Nations and non-First Nations people, along with the rate of disease and chronic health conditions experienced by people within the communities of Orange, Dubbo, Gilgandra, Coonamble, and Wellington.

Executive Director of the Institute Professor Allen Ross and his team visited these regions to consult with local people on the areas of greatest need when it comes to tackling chronic health conditions within First Nations communities. Professor Ross said the Institute’s approach was to remain open to the health needs of the community including their social determinants of health. The Institute is applying a fresh approach to examine and address the health gap between First Nations peoples and the greater Australian population. Partnering with the Aboriginal Medical Services (AMSs) at the onset will make this possible,” Professor Ross said. “Our researchers bring extensive experience from all over the world, yet we are working with the communities with no pre-determined agenda, and instead partnering with them via a grassroots approach to develop strategies that target their specific needs.”

To view the Charles Sturt University article Institute takes a grass roots approach to address the First Nations health gap in full click here.

Executive Director of the Charles Sturt University Rural Health and Medical Research Institute Professor Allen Ross, Mr Taylor Clark and Ms Anne-Marie Mepham from Orange Aboriginal Medical Services, and Ms Cherie Forgione from Gilgandra Local Aboriginal Medical Service. Image source: Charles Sturt University Latest News webpage.

Sector Jobs

Sector Jobs – you can see sector job listings on the NACCHO website here.

Advertising Jobs – to advertise a job vacancy click here to go to the NACCHO website Current job listings webpage. Scroll down to the bottom of the page to find a Post A Job form. You can complete this form with your job vacancy details – it will then be approved for posting and go live on the NACCHO website.

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Time to treat sick kids, not punish them

The Fairfax Media image in the feature tile is from a WAtoday article One-stop-shop youth prison model a ‘failure’ as MP calls for to Banksia Hill to close published on 2 November 2018.

Time to treat sick kids, not punish them

The Policy Impact Program is a partnership between The Winston Churchill Trust and The University of Queensland (UQ). It aims to help Churchill Fellows draw upon the international knowledge they gain on their Fellowships to best inform policy reform in Australia. Policy Futures: A Reform Agenda is the Program’s flagship publication which combines some of the best of the Churchill Fellows’ insights with the policy and governance expertise of UQ’s Centre for Policy Futures.

Professor Thomas Edwin Calma, AO, co-Patron of The Winston Churchill Trust, said: “Policy Futures second issue includes four Churchill Fellow-developed reform agendas that have the potential to not only transform many Indigenous peoples’ lives for the better, but also support Australian Governments to achieve the 2020 National Agreement on Closing the Gap targets.”

One of the four Fellows, Clement Ng, found almost 95% of children in NT detention are Indigenous. Research suggests that effective strategies that improve the mental health of First Nations young people will reduce their criminalisation and in turn, their over-representation. The Royal Commission and Board of Inquiry into the Protection and Detention of Children in the NT found 56% of children who gave evidence about their experience in youth detention had a history of self-harm and/or suicidal ideation. Further, justice-involved children are more likely to receive more than one mental health diagnosis or suffer from a dual diagnosis of mental health and substance misuse. Unfortunately, the current funding the NT receives for mental health services per capita is the lowest in the country and none of the community mental health services at present have capacity to meet demand.

Policy recommendations from Mr Ng’s research include:

  • Pilot a youth mental health diversion list in the NT.
  • Involve ACCHOs to co-design and deliver holistic community mental health services.

To read The Mandarin article Policy futures: A reform agenda in full click here.

Image source: Orygen Youth Mental Health Policy Briefing 2018.

Leading cause of death for mob – cancer

Jacinta Elston was in her 20s and had just had her first child when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. The Queensland mother needed surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy, to fight the disease, and almost 20 years later is cancer-free. She was working as an assistant professor of Indigenous health at James Cook University, which meant she had a good knowledge of the medical system.

She said other members of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island community may not be as used to dealing with, or even talking about cancer. “I’ve seen family, friends, mob and community who haven’t had the same sort of outcomes I have, ” Elston said. “Cancer hasn’t really been in our vocabulary in the same way that heart disease and diabetes and renal dialysis has been,” she said. “It’s now our leading cause of death.” First Nations Australians are almost one and a half times more likely to die from cancer compared to non-Indigenous Australians.

The group are more likely to get the disease but less likely to use screening services, like those on offer for bowel or breast cancer, according to Cancer Australia figures from 2015–2019.

To view the 9 News article ‘Cancer hasn’t been in our vocabulary’: Plan to tackle ‘leading cause of death’ for Indigenous Australians in full click here.

Professor Jacinta Elston is working to improve cancer survival in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders. Image source: 9 NEWS.

Global challenge to find health fixes for Pilbara

The WA government has announced a global challenge in hopes to improve health incomes in remote parts of the Pilbara. Medical Research Minister Stephen Dawson announced the newly titled The Challenge last week. The WA government joined partners with corporate investors for a $5 million reward for applicants who are able to provide the best solution to enhance health care in the Pilbara.

Lead by the WA Department of Health, The Challenge seeks submissions from industry, the private sector, public sector agencies, universities, research institutes or collaborations from international organisations. Mr Dawson said the challenge wanted to find a technology solution to improve health outcomes for Pilbara residents.

“This is about improving the health of Western Australians living in rural and remote areas to reduce disease and injury for the community and particularly for remote Aboriginal communities,” he said. “We’re not calling for improvements, or incremental change. We need real change, we need world-leading innovation. We are looking for an outcome which harnesses new technology, deploys digital health to its full potential, and ensures all Western Australians can access the health services they need, and deserve.”

To read the National Indigenous Times article WA Govt sets mutli-million dollar global challenge to find health fixes for remote Pilbara communities in full click here.

WA’s Pilbara. Photo: Oliver Strewe – Getty Images. Image source: The Guardian.

Better care for people living with eating disorders

The Albanese Government is investing $13 million to help mental health professionals and researchers improve treatment outcomes for Australians living with eating disorders. The InsideOut Institute will receive $13 million to fund the Australian Eating Disorders Research and Translation Centre, which was officially launched by the Assistant Minister for Mental Health and Suicide Prevention, Emma McBride at the University of Sydney yesterday.

Eating disorders have some of the highest mortality rates of any mental illness and many Australians often go undiagnosed. The new centre will focus on research to prevent and treat eating disorders, translating these developments into frontline services and co-designing treatments with people with lived experience, their family, and carers.

To view the Minister McBride’s media release Better care for people living with eating disorders in full click here. The below Butterfly Foundation Every BODY is Deadly video was developed to bring greater awareness to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities about the signs and supports available for people impacted by eating disorders.

Social Work Perspectives on FASD webinar

The Australasian Professional Society on Alcohol and other Drugs is hosting a webinar Social Work Perspectives on FASD at 1:00PM (AEDT) Wednesday 16 November 2022.

In this webinar, social work perspectives on FASD will be explored drawing on evidence from research, practitioner and caregiver studies and experiences. Three presenters will focus on the current situation in NZ. Dr Joanna Chu will identify the knowledge and attitude gaps among social work professionals recently surveyed by researchers from the University of Auckland; Karleen Dove will consider the roles and responsibilities and other key issues for social workers when helping families where FASD is identified as a likely disability for a child; and Professor Anita Gibbs will draw on research and lived experience to discuss best practice from social workers that is neuro-informed, culturally safe, system-wide, attuned to what families want and need, and ensures healthy outcomes for all.

To register for the Social Work Perspectives on FASD webinar click here.

National Indigenous Legal & Health Justice Conference

The National Indigenous Legal & Health Justice Conference 2022 kicks off on Sunday 4 December 2022.

Major topics of the conference include: Treaty, Voice, and Truth-Telling; Native Title and Land Rights; Health justice and justice reinvestment; Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion; the over-representation of children and young people in State systems; the failure of Aboriginal heritage and environmental protection laws; intellectual property rights; and the challenges facing legal aid and access to justice.

Confirmed speakers include: Senator Pat Dobson – Chair of Joint Standing Committee on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs; Michael Mansell – activist, lawyer, and author of Treaty and Statehood; Donnella Mills – Chair of NACCHO and spokesperson for Health Justice; Pat O’Shane – former Magistrate and activist; Pat Turner AM – CEO of NACCHO and spokesperson for Coalition of Closing the Gap Peak Bodies; Corey Tutt OAM – founder and CEO of @Deadly Science; Leah Cameron – principal of Marrawah Law and Aboriginal expert on Australian Heritage Council; Patricia Adjei – Australia Council of the Arts; Jamie Lowe, CEO of National Native Title Council along with Native Title Senior Counsel, Aboriginal lawyers, serving and retired Magistrates; experts and law students; and legal aid practitioners.

Tickets for the National Indigenous Legal & Health Justice Conference are now on sale here.

Sector Jobs

Sector Jobs – you can see sector job listings on the NACCHO website here.

Advertising Jobs – to advertise a job vacancy click here to go to the NACCHO website Current job listings webpage. Scroll down to the bottom of the page to find a Post A Job form. You can complete this form with your job vacancy details – it will then be approved for posting and go live on the NACCHO website.

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: 2022 Indigenous Health Research grant opportunities

The image in the feature tile is from the webpage Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander higher degree by research applicants on The University of Queensland Australia’s website.

2022 Indigenous Health Research grant opportunities

The 2022 Indigenous Health Research grant opportunity will provide $27.8 million for Indigenous-led research into health issues of importance to First Nations people.

Funding is from the Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF)’s Indigenous Health Research Fund.

Visit GrantConnect here and the MRFF grant opportunities calendar here for information on MRFF grant opportunities.

Learn more about the MRFF here.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students at The University of Queensland Poche Centre. Image source: UQ website.

ACCHO doctor named WA GP in Training of the Year

Derbarl Yerrigan Health Service Aboriginal Corporation (DYHSAC)’s Dr Daniel Hunt has been named the 2022 RACGP WA GP in Training of the Year. DYHSAC said they are so proud to have Dr Daniels’ unwavering commitment to DYHSAC’s patients and the community recognised.

Dr Dan works across all Derbarl clinics providing GP services; he has been proactive in the Derbarl COVID care program; providing telehealth services to patients in isolation, outreach COVID vaccinations to homeless and vulnerable patients, has been instrumental in CQI projects including HEP B, Hep B, Syphilis point of care and sexual health and has been a strong GP clinical lead in our SEWB program.

Dr Dan’s excellence in General Practice has been recognised by his peers and now by the RACGP. DYHSAC extended their best wishes to Dr Dan as he progresses to the Australian GP registrar Awards.

To view the DYHSAC Facebook post about Dr Daniel Hunt click here.

Image source: Derbarl Yerrigan Health Service Aboriginal Corporation Facebook page 30 September 2022.

On Country, health and Indigenous knowledges

The world’s annual  CoP climate talks have begun in Egypt. For this year’s COP27, the Australian Government delegation is taking some different messages to previous years – including a stated commitment to featuring Indigenous Knowledges, voices and experiences in their climate change policy platform and the new Climate Change Bill 2022 that was passed in September.

There is a strong and growing body of relevant research on climate change impacts and responses in Australia from First Nations climate researchers and non-Indigenous allies from which evidence-based policy can be drawn. Core to this body of research are the interconnections between climate change, healthy Country and health and wellbeing in Indigenous communities.

Francis Nona, a public health lecturer, registered nurse and Badulaig man from the Torres Strait Islands whose climate change research describes the value of combining western scientific and Indigenous Knowledges says “Scientific knowledge is important, but not more important than what our Elders and ancestors have taught us. We need the two ways of knowing to work together. To adapt to climate change, there needs to be both ways of knowing: using the Torres Strait Knowledges in conjunction with western ways. There needs to be mutual respect on both sides.”

Until recently, the lived experience, Knowledges and  voices of First Nations Peoples had not been sought – let alone incorporated – in climate change discussions. This year for the first time the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Assessment Report 6 included climate data from First Nations Peoples’ Knowledges alongside western scientific data. In Australia, the latest State of the Environment Report included First Nations authors and Knowledges for the first time.

To view the Croakey Health Media article COP27: On Country, health and Indigenous knowledges in full click here.

On the Country of the Warumungu people, Tennant Creek. Photo: Nina Lansbury. Image source: Croakey Health Media.

Changes to PIP Indigenous Health Incentive

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

Updates to the Practice Incentives Program Indigenous Health Incentive (PIP IHI) aim to improve continuity of care and health outcomes for First Nations people with chronic disease. From Sunday 1 January 2023 changes to the IPIP IHI will come into effect. These changes include:

  • expanded eligibility for outcome payments to include First Nations patients under the age of 15.
  • the addition of GP Mental Health Treatment Plans as eligible items for outcome payments.
  • the introduction of a 12-month rolling window for practices to deliver services, giving them more time to achieve outcome payments.
  • the introduction of a back-ended payment structure.

The updated PIP IHI guidelines outline all the changes and are now available on the Services Australia website here.

For more information you can access the Australian Government Department of Health and Aged Care webpages Practice Incentives Program – Indigenous Health Incentive here and Changes to the Practice Incentives Program Indigenous Health Incentive here.

Image source: Australian Government Department of Health and Aged Care Changes to the PIP IHI webpage.

Health education prior to prison research

Over 65% of people entering prison report risky alcohol or other drug use. Dr Michael Doyle has undertaken research considering whether more effective alcohol and other drug treatment could lead to improved health and reduce the likelihood of recidivism. The research highlights the much higher rates that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are imprisoned when compared with other Australians. Noting that most First Nations families are affected in some way.

Taking a sample of both Aboriginal and non-aboriginal men in prison, Doyle investigated where and if they had received health education on alcohol and other drug use harms prior to receiving a session with a trained professional through the criminal justice system.

His research, published in the Health Promotion Journal of Australia in May 2022, found no-one had received such education in primary or high school. And only one participant recalled receiving health information through media, and one individual had received treatment through a health service. This occurred serendipitously, by meeting a doctor at an Aboriginal men’s group, and subsequently seeing him.

To read the article Better services for alcohol and other drugs article published on The University of Sydney Faculty of Medicine and Health News webpage in full click here.

Dr Michael Doyle. Image source: The University of Sydney website.

National ASD diagnosis guideline to be updated

In 2018, Autism Cooperative Research Centre (Autism CRC) published the National Guidelines for the Assessment and Diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorders in Australia, available here. This was the first national autism practice guideline in Australia, and it has led to important changes in the way autism is understood, assessed, and diagnosed in the Australian community.

It is now time to update the Guideline and Autism CRC are inviting all members of the autistic and autism communities to get involved.

There are two immediate ways to contribute to the update:

  1. If you are an autistic person, a family member, and/or a practitioner involved in assessment and diagnosis, you can join a focus group to share your views.
    • Registration closes 5pm AEST – Friday 11 November, 2022.
  2. Anyone can complete an online survey, which will ask for your views about assessment and diagnosis. An option to submit artwork instead of text responses is also available through the online survey.
    • Closes 5pm AEST – Monday 5 December, 2022.

To learn more and get involved, visit the Guideline Update page on the Autism CRC website here.

Medical research and innovation priorities 2022–2024

Following a national consultation the Australian Medical Research Advisory Board (AMRAB) has developed medical research and innovation priorities that must be considered by Government when making decisions about funding from the Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF).

AMRAB has developed these priorities concurrently with the Australian Medical Research and Innovation Strategy 2021–2026 to align with and facilitate the achievement of the Strategy’s vision, aim and strategic objectives. These priorities took effect on 6 November 2022, superseding the Australian Medical Research and Innovation Priorities 2020-2022, which were in force until 5 November 2022.

The current MRFF priorities are:

  • consumer-driven research
  • research infrastructure and capability
  • translation and commercialisation
  • comparative effectiveness research
  • preventive and public health research
  • primary care research
  • health and medical researcher capacity and capability
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health
  • priority populations
  • antimicrobial resistance
  • global health and health security
  • health impacts from environmental factors
  • data, digital health and artificial intelligence.

You can access the Australian Medical Research and Innovation Priorities 2022–2024 publication here and the relevant Australian Government Department of Health and Aged Care webpage here.

Sector Jobs

Sector Jobs – you can see sector job listings on the NACCHO website here.

Advertising Jobs – to advertise a job vacancy click here to go to the NACCHO website Current job listings webpage. Scroll down to the bottom of the page to find a Post A Job form. You can complete this form with your job vacancy details – it will then be approved for posting and go live on the NACCHO website.

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Arts can have positive impacts on health

The image in the feature tile is from day one of the Purrumpa First Nations Arts & Culture National Gathering 2022 at the Adelaide Convention Centre, Monday 31 October 2022. Image source: Australia Council for the Arts Facebook page.

Arts can have positive impacts on health

‘Aboriginal health’ means not just the physical wellbeing of an individual but refers to the social, emotional and cultural wellbeing of the whole community in which each individual is able to achieve their full potential as a human being, thereby bringing about the total wellbeing of their community. It is a whole-of-life view and includes the cyclical concept of life-death-life.

Engagement with the arts can have powerful impacts on health, wellbeing and the strengthening of communities. Access to the arts helps people connect socially and participate in their community’s cultural life. The role of the arts in exploring and communicating social concerns, giving voice to hidden issues and allowing self-expression is also a major contributor to health.

Today is the last day of Purrumpa, a 5-day national gathering and celebration of First Nations arts and culture in Adelaide. Australia Council Executive Director for First Nations Arts and Culture Franchesca Cubillo said “Purrumpa will include deep listening, as well as important conversations about First Nations peoples’ self-determination, development, and priorities for the national advocacy of First Nations arts and culture.”

You can find out more about the Purrumpa gathering here and you can find further information about the connection between the arts and health, including the role of arts in Aboriginal culture and health and how the arts improve health, in this Victorian Health Promotion Foundation’s publication Promoting Aboriginal health through the arts – Overview of supported projects available here.

Images from the Australian Council for the Arts Facebook page.

Julie Tongs leading the way in health care

Julie Tongs has been the CEO of Winnunga Nimmityjah, one of 144 ACCHOs nationally, for 25 years, and says her vision has always been for Winnunga to be a leader in the provision of primary health care. “Winnunga is a leader in providing comprehensive primary health care and is pivotal to the overall health system in the ACT and surrounding NSW region,” she says. “Winnunga clients come from 324 suburbs. “In the 2021–22 financial year Winnunga provided 92,000 occasions of care to 8,295 clients.”

Julie says this included COVID-19 vaccinations, testing clinics, telephone consults, walk-in services to GPs, as well as psychologists, psychiatrists, podiatrist, optometry, physiotherapy, dieticians, drug and alcohol help and mental health nurses. “In 2019, just before COVID-19 lockdown, Winnunga commenced a large-scale building project, which was quite challenging,” says Julie.

“However, we were able to deliver a brand new $20 million fit-for-purpose building, which was funded by the ACT government, Commonwealth government and Winnunga. “The building is outstanding.” Clients come from all walks of life, Tongs says. “They come to us because they feel safe here and not judged.”

To view the CBR City News article Celebrating the amazing women paving the way in full click here.

Julie Tongs… “I’m not your generic CEO. I’ve had a chequered life, and I’m a little bit left of field.” Photo: Holly Treadaway. Image source: CBR City News.

Funding for crime prevention projects

Queensland Minister for Children and Youth Justice and Minister for Multicultural Affairs The Honourable Leanne Linard has announced a new round of the Community Partnership Innovation Grants for community organisations that have projects that aim to tackle youth crime. Applications encouraged from not-for-profit groups, the social services and health sectors, Aboriginal and Torres Islander Elders and community-controlled organisations, businesses and social enterprises, and academics.

Minister Linard said individuals, families and communities all have a critical role to play when it comes to preventing and reducing youth offending, “These efforts can be critical in preventing youth offending – given local communities are often the first to see when a young person disconnects from family, stops attending school or shows anti-social behaviour.”

“Earlier this year, I introduced the grants scheme after hearing how strongly local communities wanted to be part of the solution. There is a strong desire amongst communities to help vulnerable young people achieve a better life. In many communities there are already innovative initiatives in place that just need some funding to get off the ground,” she said. “The experience and knowledge that local communities bring to the table can only strengthen our response to keep communities safe while supporting young people to make positive contributions.”

Up to $300,000 will be available for individual projects, as part of the $3 million allocated to the grants scheme in the 2022–23 State Budget. Applications for round two can be submitted until Monday 30 January 2023 through Smarty Grants online here. To view The National Tribune article Community projects focus on preventing crime in full click here.

The Yinda cultural mentoring program was designed by Indigenous elders to tackle youth crime in Townsville from the ground up. Photo: David Chen. ABC North Queensland.

Aboriginal health services best for prisons

According to the Victorian government, healthcare in prison is of the same standard as the community. Correct Care Australasia, the for-profit, US-owned company with more than $700 million in contracts to provide healthcare in prisons, has made the same commitment.

But it’s hard to imagine any community which would accept the poor, neglectful and punitive standard of “care” provided to people in Victoria’s prisons. Contrary to the views of many politicians, prosecutors and judges, prisons are not safe places for anyone. They are particularly unsafe for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, who were 3 times more likely to not receive all required medical care before they died in custody.

If Victoria is to follow its commitment to self-determination, it must also heed calls by VACCHO for Aboriginal health services, which are best placed to provide culturally safe care, to be engaged in prisons. To read the Brisbane Times opinion Piece Indigenous Victorians pay a high price when prisons prioritise profit in full click here.

Image source: The Canberra Times.

Stroke rates higher for mob

It takes a lot to shock someone like Phil McDonald. The Mollymook based Stroke Foundation ambassador said he was horrified to learn that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are 1.5 times more likely to experience a stroke than non-Indigenous Australians. “I want to be an example for other people. I want to inspire people to take control of their health and become fitter and healthier version of themselves,” he said.

He is preparing for the fight of his life as he prepares to step into the ring in Yagoona this weekend. The Mollymook resident will participate in this weekend’s Indigenous All Stars versus the World Boxing Tournament which aims to promote reconciliation. He hopes to raise awareness about the overrepresentation of stroke in Indigenous Australia.

Phil has been a champion for a stroke since losing his beloved dad James last year. In 2021 Phil broke a world record and raised thousands for the Stroke Foundation by taking on amateur and professional boxers to complete a series of 150 three-minute rounds. To read the Milton Ulladulla Times article  Stroke higher for Indigenous Australians say Stroke Foundation in full click here.

Phil McDonald in training. Image source: South Coast Register.

Making a difference for mums and bubs

Tackling a digital divide and improving health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mothers and babies is the aim of an Australian-first project involving First Nations community leaders and University of Queensland (UQ) researchers. The Digital Infrastructure For improving First Nations Maternal and Child Health (DIFFERENCE) project has been awarded $3 million under the Federal Government’s Medical Research Future Fund.

Chief Investigator UQ’s Associate Professor Clair Sullivan said the project would help link disparate records across different heath care services with an intent to improve maternal and perinatal health outcomes. “There is a data disconnect between primary and hospital care so it is hard for medical professionals to see all the information they need to make important decisions,” Dr Sullivan said.

“There are high maternal and infant morbidity and mortality rates amongst Aboriginal Torres Strait Islander women and babies compared to Australia’s relatively low national rates,” Dr Sullivan said. “First Nations mothers are three times more likely to die during childbirth compared to other women, and babies are more likely to be born either with fetal growth restriction, small for their gestation age, stillborn or preterm. These concerning statistics are why we are embarking on this project.” To read UQ News article Making a difference to First Nations mums and bubs in full click here.

Photo: Caro Telfer, Adobe. Image source: UQ News.

Sector Jobs

Sector Jobs – you can see sector job listings on the NACCHO website here.

Advertising Jobs – to advertise a job vacancy click here to go to the NACCHO website Current job listings webpage. Scroll down to the bottom of the page to find a Post A Job form. You can complete this form with your job vacancy details – it will then be approved for posting and go live on the NACCHO website.