NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Voter ID rules will disenfranchise mob

Image source: Kalgoorlie Miner.

Voter ID rules will disenfranchise mob

NACCHO is deeply concerned by the proposed voter ID changes in the ‘Electoral Legislation Amendment (Voter Integrity) Bill 2021’. We urge all parliamentarians to oppose this unnecessary measure. We do not want to see vulnerable Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people disenfranchised.

The Chair of NACCHO, Donnella Mills, speaking from Cairns today said, “Australia has a sorry history in voting eligibility for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. It took until 1962 to secure the right to vote in the first place. It took until 1967 for us to be counted. Today, in 2021, we are at a critical time in our efforts as a nation to act upon the Uluru Statement from the Heart and secure an Indigenous ‘voice’ to Parliament. Yet this proposed Bill sets us back on our journey. I have no doubt that this Bill will discourage Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people from voting.”

There is no case for introducing these measures. NACCHO understands that the Australian Electoral Commission has confirmed that there was almost no voter fraud at the last federal election and that the introduction of voter ID requirements is unnecessary. There were no prosecutions for multiple voting at the last election, so there seems to be no problem to address here. Yet, if the Bill is introduced, significant damage will be done.

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

Senate & House of Reps voting boxes

Image source: The Guardian.

Improving disability support for mob

A group of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations across Australia are receiving a total of $1.27 million in grants to improve the delivery of National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) support services.
The $22,000 Indigenous Business Support Funding grants have been awarded to 57 organisations.

Awarded for the first time this year, the scheme was administered by NACCHO which represents 143 community controlled health organisations. The grants are being provided as part of the Federal Government’s NDIS Ready project.

Minister for the NDIS Senator the Hon Linda Reynolds CSC said the funding would strengthen Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’s participation in the NDIS – as well as increase the number of culturally-appropriate service providers. “We can improve the lifetime wellbeing and quality of life for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

To view Minister Reynolds’ media release in full click here.

Image source: Synapse website.

First Nations Services Unit for hearing

Hearing Australia has established a First Nations Services Unit to better meet the hearing health needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and families. “With our dedicated First Nations team, we’re making it easier and faster for children, families and communities to get the hearing help they need,” says Mr Kim Terrell, Managing Director, Hearing Australia.

The Unit will bring together the delivery of Hearing Australia’s three Australian Government funded programs for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples: the Hearing Assessment Program – Early Ears (HAPEE) program, the Community Service Obligations (CSO) component of the Hearing Services program and the recently established Listen to Learn program.

“This will help us collaborate with our partners to provide more effective, coordinated, and culturally appropriate services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples across Australia, regardless of their age, location or hearing need,” says Kim.

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

Image source: Katherine Times.

School not prison for kids under 14

ACOSS, the AMA along with NSW community, legal, and First Nations justice organisations have condemned the decision of the Meeting of Attorneys General to “support developing a proposal to increase the minimum age of criminal responsibility from 10 to 12 including with regard to any carve outs, timing and discussion of implementation supports” as completely inadequate and failing to improve the lives of children and young people.

Data from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare shows that this proposal would not change the situation for more than 90% of children under 14 in prison. ACOSS CEO, Dr Cassandra Goldie, said: “this is not even a decision, it’s plan to develop a plan that will do nothing to save hundreds of children under 14 from languishing behind bars.”

To view the ACOSS media release in full click here.

Image source: Pro Bono Australia.

Cultural safety education for pharmacists

The Australian Pharmacy Council is exploring how to enhance cultural safety education of Australian pharmacy students. They have produced a podcast with pharmacists, Chastina Heck, a Nywaigi, Mamu, Bidjara woman, in conversation with Associate Professor Faye McMillan AM, a Wiradjuri woman, discussing Indigenous and western perspectives of health, global policies, and the benefits of embedding cultural safety in pharmacy education. A patient, Dr Jane Havelka, also talks about her experience with the health system as a First Nations woman.

For more information click here.

Image source: Pharmacy Guild of Australia.

A third miss school due to menstruation

Did you know, over one-third of young Australian women have missed at least one class in either school or university due to the pain of menstrual cramps and fatigue? And the stats begin to get much worse when Indigenous Australian communities come into play, hindering their chance to live life to the utmost fullest.

Research suggests this is due to the increasingly high cost of hygiene products and the embarrassment some young people feel when they’re on their period. Periods may seem like a physical phenomenon, and while it inherently is, the lack of sanitary items can seriously start to affect one’s mental health as they’re unable to cope with the profound shame and embarrassment they’re made to feel.

Last year, Victoria was the very first state in Australia to offer free sanitary items in all government schools. Commencing in term three in 2019, the $20.7 million initiative saw dispensing machines installed in every school. SA followed closely behind, announcing in February of this year that will also be providing free sanitary products to all female students in year five and above.

To view the full Pop Culture article click here.

Image source: Imperial College London.

Diabetic foot complications webinar

The South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI). has hosted a Diabetic foot complications webinar. This webinar recording brings together experts from the five regions of the Aboriginal Community-Controlled Health Sector (SA, NT, northern WA and Far North Queensland) to discuss the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Diabetes-related Foot Complications Program.

To access the webinar click here.

Image source: Diabetes Queensland.

New process for job advertising

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

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

World Prematurity Day

World Prematurity Day is observed on 17 November each year to raise awareness of preterm birth and the concerns of preterm babies and their families worldwide. Approximately 15 million babies are born preterm each year, accounting for about one in 10 of all babies born worldwide.

For information about preterm births in Aboriginal populations click here and for more information about World Prematurity Day click here.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Diabetes Strategy targets priority groups

feature tile text 'Australia's new diabetes strategy aims to reduce impacts on mob' & image of Aboriginal hand finger prick test

Image in feature tile: University of Melbourne website.

Diabetes strategy targets priority groups

The federal government has released a new national diabetes strategy aimed at reducing the incidence and impacts of the disease among priority groups, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders.

More than 17,000 Australians died from diabetes-related illness over the past 12 months, as another 120,000 were diagnosed with the nation’s fastest-growing chronic disease. Currently, about 1.9 million Australians suffer from diabetes, with case numbers skyrocketing by 30% over the past eight years.

A new national plan for tackling the crisis was released yesterday, Sunday 14 November 2021. It is hoped the plan will help guide the health response to the “silent pandemic” over the coming decade.

Diabetes Australia CEO Professor Johnson said 58% of type two diabetes cases can be prevented or delayed and education programs were urgently needed. “Diabetes is particularly devastating for First Nations Australians and communities and it is a major contributor to the gap in life expectancy between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians,” he said. “The gap is not closing and we hope the new strategy will guide important steps and stronger action.”

To view the SBS News article in full click here.

Diabetes Australia’s ‘First Nations Storytelling’ artwork

Diabetes Australia’s ‘First Nations Storytelling’ artwork created by Aboriginal graphic designer and artist Keisha Leon. Image source: University of Melbourne website.

Academia has a lot to learn from mob

The Yapatjarrathati project team and the local community co-created a culturally-sensitive, structured yet flexible solution to assessing child neurodevelopment in remote Australian communities, using primary care as the home point of coordination.

The team found that when the knowledge, ideas, and ways of First Nations’ communities are excluded from research, we can do harm, and we risk continuing the ongoing imposition of dominant culture on First Nations people . Intentionally or not, researchers and practitioners from the dominant culture have failed to value, and at times, have disregarded First Nations knowledge and health / wellbeing practices. We can show our next generation of researchers how to do things differently.

Co-design with community results in: research that matters; outcomes that are sustained; and truly impactful change. When people are part of the process, they learn, they get excited, they take things in unexpected yet delightful directions. They help to solve problems, and apparent barriers become new directions. Co-design offers unique opportunities for personal learning and growth along with innovation and system re-design.

To find out more about the Yapatjarrathati project, which has been implemented at Gidgee Healing, Mt Isa, click here.

To view the Financial Review article in full click here.

Mt Isa Community Advisory Group in front of Gidgee building

Mt Isa Community Advisory Group.

AMA President on vax misinformation

On Friday 12 November 2021 Australian Medical Association (AMA) President Dr Omar Khorshid was interviewed on Radio 2SM by John Laws about COVID-19 vaccination misinformation.

John Laws opened the interview saying “I’ve got to say that I’m quite astonished at the amount of misinformation people are so readily able to spread – they give themselves a platform and off they go. Absolute rubbish is being spoken by a whole lot of people.” Today “we hear from somebody who is actually an expert, who is qualified to give us correct information, and that’s the person we want to go to, because they’re the only people who are able to give us the information that is 100% correct. One of those people is the President of the AMA, Dr Omar Khorshid.

In response to a question about vaccine safety Dr Khorshid said” All the vaccines we have available in Australia, no matter what they are for, are safe. And they’re safe because they’ve been studied by the scientists, they’ve been, the data has been looked at very skeptically by a panel of experts in Australia. And the government have decided that not only are the vaccines safe, but they’re actually worth spending taxpayers’ money on too.”

“So every single vaccine we’ve got available to us is absolutely safe. But that doesn’t mean they don’t have a few side effects. There’s no doubt those do exist, and that’s part of what I think some people struggle to understand.” To read the transcript of the interview in full click here.

Image source: The Conversation.

Tangentyere family violence prevention 

An evaluation of two Tangentyere family violence primary prevention programs has found explicit messaging can assist in changing attitudes towards violence against women. The Safe, Respected and Free from Violence Report is the first formal evaluation of primary prevention projects in the NT. It examined the impact of two projects, Girls Can Boys Can and Old Ways Are Strong.

The evaluation report, named “Rante rante ampe Marle and Urreye” in Arrernte, (roughly translates to girls and boys are equal), was co-authored by The Equality Institute researcher Dr Chay Brown. Dr Brown said the findings of the report provided evidence for funders and policy makers about what works in tackling the high rates of violence against women in the NT. “While a high proportion of the people we spoke to thought violence was sometime justified, especially in cases involving jealousy, we found explicit messaging around gender equity was working to challenge attitudes.”

To view the Tangentyere Council’s media release click here and to access the evaluation report click here.

cartoon drawing of Aboriginal girl and boy against desert landscape

Tales from the Bush Mob children’s stories

After a heartbreaking week of bearing witness to the historic abuse of children in Australia’s institutions, royal commissioner Helen Milroy would get on a plane for the five-hour flight back home to Perth. Her head would be reeling as she settled into her seat, but the trained psychiatrist in her had a way to calm her thoughts. Somewhere mid-flight, she would mentally transport herself into “an alternative world where everything can be good”.

And so Tales from the Bush Mob was born, a series of children’s stories that Milroy wrote and illustrated on her travels using only an iPad and her imagination. “You can’t paint when you’re on a plane every week, so I found a way to use digital platforms,” she explains. First came the cheeky Willy Wagtail, who rallies around the other Bush Mob animals. “She brings everyone together when they are challenged by a bushfire, and she’s the only one who can get them all to safety. She gets burnt and Crow rescues her. So Bush Mob is formed to keep each other safe.”

To view the full article in The Australian click here.

Dr Helen Milroy

Dr Helen Milroy. Image source: The Australian.

Building the community-controlled sector

In a bid to deliver on Priority Reform Two of the National Agreement on Closing the Gap – building the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled sector, the federal government will provide $1.2m over three years to the Aboriginal Peak Organisations Northern Territory (APO NT) to build its strategic policy capability in order to represent and advocate on behalf of the territory’s community-controlled sector.

The investment is part of a $46.5 million Strengthening the Community-Controlled Sector Fund. Minister for Indigenous Australians, the Hon Ken Wyatt AM, MP, said the APO NT investment will support new staff, stronger governance, and the production of content for members and the community.

To view the media release click here.

2 Aboriginal men holding cardboard sign black, red with yellow text 'Aboriginal control of Aboriginal affairs'

Photo: Time Winbourne, Reuters. Image source: The Conversation.

Award for kid’s hearing loss program

St John of God Murdoch Hospital has won the 2021 HESTA Compassion in Action Social Justice Award for a collaborative program that supports young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children experiencing hearing loss.

The program is a partnership between the hospital, the Djaalinj Waakinj Aboriginal Ear Health Program, Telethon Kids Institute, Telethon Speech and Hearing, Moorditj Koort Aboriginal Corporation, Cockburn Integrated Health and Paediatric Ear, Nose and Throat Specialist Mr George Sim. The award, run by Catholic Health Australia and sponsored by HESTA, recognises an individual or team who has shown creativity, commitment, and accomplishment in effecting positive social change.

To view the media release click here.

Val Swift, Telethon Kids, inspecting a young child’s ear. Photo: Robert Duncan. Image source: The West Australian.

Culturally safe cancer care communication

The Australian Government’s Cancer Australia has produced a Tip Sheet about culturally safe communication skills for non-indigenous health professionals. This Tip Sheet provides practical advice for cancer care specialists and other health professionals to optimise culturally safe and responsive communication with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients, their families and carers.

You can view the Tip Sheet here and access the Australian Government Cancer Australia website click here.

Aboriginal man having blood test

Image source: GP Synergy website.

New process for job advertising

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Mob at increased risk as borders open

Image in feature tile from The Guardian.

Mob at increased risk as borders open

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) says Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and communities are at increased risk as Australia opens up, due to dangerously lagging COVID-19 vaccination rates.

As the holiday season approaches and people start moving around the country and mingling more, vaccine coverage among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities continues to lag behind non-Indigenous populations. While currently 80.6% of all Australians aged 16 and older are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and 89.4% have had one dose, that figure sits at 54.5% fully vaccinated and 66.2% one dose for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

To view the RACGP media release in full click here.

Image source: ACCAN website.

AMSANT vax count concerns

The Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance NT is calling on federal health authorities to pressure the territory government into changing how it measures the local coronavirus vaccination rollout. The government counts the number of  “jabs in arms” whereas the federal government data uses the Australian Immunisation Register data, which is based on addresses registered with Medicare.

Chief Minister Michael Gunner says the NT is just days away from reaching the 80% double dosed milestone and that the region will reach 90% by the end of the year. Federal data suggests the double dose rate currently sits at 66.9%.

Medical advisor for Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance Northern Territory (AMSANT) John Boffa says the figures the NT government are relying on are inaccurate. “Miscounting vaccine coverage could have dangerous consequences,” Dr Boffa said. “Every other jurisdiction in the nation is using the legitimate way to measure vaccination coverage.”

To view the ABC News article in full click here.

Dr John Boffa

John Boffa says the NT needs to rely on “legitimate data”. Image source: ABC News.

NT vax target ‘not ideal’

Health experts say the NT’s new target to vaccinate 80% of remote residents aged five and older “isn’t ideal” and the goalpost must be shifted closer to 100%. “To have an 80% vaccine callout for [people] over five years, it isn’t ideal,” UNSW epidemiologist and Yawuru woman Kalinda Griffiths said.

“Even with 80% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people over the age of five years vaccinated, the risk of death is still a little over 30 people per 100,000 people in the population,” Dr Griffiths said. “But if the uptake is 95% in those under five years old then the risk of death is near zero.”

The NT’s widespread and remote Aboriginal communities are home to some of Australia’s most vulnerable people. Many battle chronic health conditions and it’s common for a dozen people to live under the same roof. In remote Aboriginal communities managed by NT Health, 55% of residents are fully vaccinated.

To view the ABC News article in full click here.

Vaccination rates in remote Aboriginal communities lag behind the NT capital. Photo: Hamish Harty, ABC News.

Cervical screening self collection option

The Australian Government has announced that self-collection will be an option for all participants under the National Cervical Screening Program (NCSP) from 1 July 2022.

Offering self-collection to all screeners is a game changer for the NCSP. It provides greater choice in screening options and is expected to increase participation in cervical screening and support better outcomes in under-screened women.

Expanded self-collection has the potential to remove some cultural and personal barriers that may discourage some women from screening, especially Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, culturally and linguistically diverse women, and gender and sexually diverse people.

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

Self-collection can offer an alternative pathway to overcome barriers some women experience to having a clinician-collected cervical screening test. Image source: RACGP newsGP.

Discovery could help save kid’s hearing

Bacteria found in children’s upper respiratory systems could help fight chronic middle ear infections, the leading cause of preventable hearing loss and deafness in Indigenous communities. The University of Queensland’s Dr Seweryn Bialasiewicz said this discovery helped explain a long-held mystery, while providing hope for potential treatments.

“We’ve been puzzled for years now, trying to work out why some children never develop chronic ear disease, despite being in a high-risk category for contracting it,” Dr Bialasiewicz said. “By focusing on the microbiomes in the upper respiratory tracts of disease-resistant kids, we could investigate the ecological networks of bacterial interactions that seemed to be working together to protect against the condition.

Dr Bialasiewicz said they were hoping to use this information to figure out what the exact mechanism of protection is, and then mimic it in the very young children, as a therapy or a preventative measure.

“Chronic middle ear infections can affect between one third to one half of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, which is far above the 4% threshold that the World Health Organisation considers as a disease needing urgent public health action,” Dr Coleman said.

To view the UQ News article in full click here.

Image source: National Indigenous Times website.

Thirrili October Newsletter

The latest Thirrili newsletter has been published. The October issue includes some amazing news from Thirrili advocates, job opportunities and much more.

To view the newsletter click here.

Katherine dialysis services to continue

NT Health Minister Natasha Fyles, says Fresenius Medical Care has been awarded a tender to continue to provide dialysis services in the Katherine region for five more years. “This extension of services delivers certainty for staff and current patients that the service will continue to operate as normal.

Fresenius Medical Care is operated through a public-private partnership with the NT Government. The 16-chair clinic provides haemodialysis treatment for a total of 30 patients per day. Over the next five years more than 42,300 treatments are expected to be provided at the Fresenius Medical Care clinic.”

To view Minister Fyles’ media release in full click here.

Image source: Katherine Times.

New process for job advertising

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

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

COVID-19 vaccine update for GPs webinar

The latest in the Australian Government Department of Health’s series of COVID-19 vaccine updates for GPs webinar will be held from: 11:30am–12:00pm (AEST) tomorrow, Thursday 11 November 2021.

This webinar is part of a series on the COVID-19 response and the vaccine rollout. At this webinar, you’ll be provided with the latest information on the vaccine rollout and the panel will provide key updates and answer participants’ questions. GPs and all health professionals are welcome.

Joining Professor Michael Kidd AM this week will be Dr Lucas de Toca, First Assistant Secretary, COVID-19 Primary Care Response, Department of Health and Dr Antonio Di Dio, GP in Canberra.

When you’re ready to join, use this link, and to catch up on previous webinars click here.

Conquering Cancer virtual screening

A special virtual event screening of Conquering Cancer will be held at 7:00PM AEDT Wednesday 17 November 2021.

By supporting Conquering Cancer, you’ll be joining the global movement to eliminate cervical cancer worldwide. This is a huge moonshot but it is possible – and by doing so, it’s estimated that the lives of 62 million women will be saved. Who wouldn’t want to be part of that?

For now, all you have to do is grab some popcorn, put your feet up and enjoy the film on November 17 (tissue box optional). So spare yourself from the last minute scramble and secure your spot today.

The screening will be followed by a special Q&A panel with Professor Karen Canfell, Professor Marion Saville, Professor Yin Ling Woo and filmmaker Sue Collins. The panel is being moderated by Cate McGavin.

You can check out the official trailer of Conquering Cancer below, and book your $5USD ticket click here.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: COVID-19 fears for APY Lands

feature tile text 'fears APY Lands will be left to fend for themselves if covid-19 outbreak in Adelaide' & image of 3 Aboriginal youth on mountain looking out on APY Lands

Photo in feature tile: APY Land Council. Image source: SBS NITV.

COVID-19 fears for APY Lands

The general manager of SA’s Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) Lands is concerned remote communities will be “left to fend for themselves” in the event of an outbreak in Adelaide. The SA government intends to lift border restrictions on Tuesday 23 November, when 80% of residents are expected to be fully vaccinated.

The APY Lands have been subject to strict lockdowns every time there has been an outbreak in SA to avoid COVID-19 spreading to its vulnerable, isolated Indigenous population. “Our lockdowns are fairly intense, in that we close fuel [stations] to stop people moving, and the police also install roadblocks because [we don’t want] people travelling from one community and taking it to the next,” APY general manager Richard King said.

“If we do get major outbreaks all at once in Adelaide and it overwhelms the health services, the services are really going to be focused on urban populations,” Mr King said.

To view the ABC News article in full click here.

aerial view APY Lands

Only 61% of APY residents under 50 have received two doses of the vaccine. Photo: Carl Saville. Image source: ABC News.

Living with COVID-19 requires caution

The Consumers Health Forum has welcomed the Federal Government’s additional support for community-based care for COVID cases but urges Australians to take care as Australia transitions to ‘living with COVID’ arrangements.

“The easing of lockdowns and opening of borders mean that even with an overall decline in pandemic risks, significant challenges for both hospitals and primary care doctors and nurses in the community will continue. Consumers need to play their part in avoiding infection by continuing with sensible anti-COVID precautions,” the CEO of the Consumers Health Forum, Leanne Wells, said.

To view the CHF media release click here.

globe with mask surrounded by covid virus cells in red

Image source: Newshub website.

Aged care for mob best practice study

There is a growing number of older Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and an unmet demand for accessible, culturally safe aged care services. The principles and features of aged care service delivery designed to meet the unique needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples must be understood to inform aged care policy and primary health care planning into the future. Yet to date, this is an area that has not been extensively explored.

A recently published paper Aboriginal community-controlled aged care: principles, practices and actions to integrate with primary health care examines this particular topic.

For more information about the study click here.

The Kapululangu Aboriginal Women’s Law and Culture Centre in Balgo, WA, offers employment and care for elderly members of the community. Image source: Aged Care 101 website.

Future of dispensing discussion paper

The AMA has released The future of dispensing, a discussion paper on Australians having affordable and accessible medicines into the future, and it explores alternative dispensing models for medications. AMA President Dr Omar Khorshid said the discussion paper aims to consider how, where and why medicines are dispensed in Australia and to promote discussion among health professionals, doctors and consumers.

“The AMA earlier this year launched its Vision for Australia’s Healthwhich outlines a blueprint for the future of the Australian healthcare system that is based on the core principles of access, sustainability and patient empowerment that is led by medical practitioners,” he said. “To that end, a good starting point is to consider three simple questions: how, where and why do we dispense medicines in Australia?

“Pharmacists have and will continue to have a critical role in the provision of health care in Australia, and we want to ensure we are making the best use of our highly-trained pharmacist workforce. We need to separate out issues around the business of owning pharmacies, as opposed to the role of pharmacists in general, and to restart the discussion about who can own pharmacies, and where they are located.”

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

3 staff at chemist prescription desk

Wizard Pharmacy Kalgoorlie Central. Image source:

More rural renal services for Queensland

Infrastructure upgrades at Ingham and Charters Towers Hospitals will deliver eight renal chairs to bring care closer to home for patients receiving haemodialysis for renal failure and kidney disease.

The new chairs are being funded through a $4 million injection of funds from the Queensland Government’s Rural and Regional Renal Program. Minister for Health and Ambulance Services Yvette D’Ath said ‘‘Patients in Charters Towers and Ingham currently travel up to an hour and a half for a four to five-hour treatment session at Townsville University Hospital. These brand-new, four-chair units will relieve the pressure of disruptive travel on patients living with renal failure and kidney disease and their families.”

Minister D’Ath said establishing these units in rural communities would further the Queensland Government’s commitment to Closing the Gap.

To view the Minister D’Ath’s media release in full click here.

3 Aboriginal women receiving dialysis

Patients in the dialysis unit at Gurriny Yealamucka Health Services Aboriginal Corporation, Yarrabah, Qld. Back-front: Shanelle Graham, Millicent Smith, Myrtle Barkley. Image source: Cairns Local News.

Nor Mor Smok program

Nor Mor Smok is a program run by Torres Health Indigenous Corporation with the aim of reducing smoking rates across the Torres Strait region. The program includes elements such as:

  • the Yumi Kazi program for pregnant mothers and growing families
  • a women’s program for girls and women of all ages
  • a men’s program for boys and men of all ages
  • a youth program for all children aged 11 to 18 years.

Nor Mor Smok is funded under the national Tackling Indigenous Smoking Tackling Indigenous Smoking program.

For more information about the Nor Mor Smok program click here.

Youth suicide attempt aftercare services

Children and young people living in Western Sydney and the Mid-North Coast engaging in serious self-harming behaviour or having ongoing thoughts of suicide can now access practical, non-clinical support in their communities to help their recovery.

Minister for Mental Health Bronnie Taylor said the newly opened Blacktown and Coffs Harbour-based services are part of an innovative trial of child and youth-specific Aftercare services by the NSW and Commonwealth Governments. “Coming out of acute care can be really overwhelming, so it is critical to connect these vulnerable young people with the right support outside of the hospital setting so they can reconnect and reengage with their family, friends and community,” Mrs Taylor said.

To view the media release in full click here.

hand being held in another's hands

Image source: Black Dog Institute.

New process for job advertising

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

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

University entry courses info session

The University of Melbourne’s Department of Rural Health is holding an information session for those who would like to know more about its unique courses that can provide an entry to University for those with experience working in Aboriginal health and/or community development.

The information session will explain what the Specialist Certificate in Empowering Health in Aboriginal Communities will involve, pathways for further study, and support with studying.  During the information session you canmeet the teaching staff and some of the current students and ask questions you might have.

To register for the information session at 4:00 PM (AEDT) Tuesday 16 November 2021 click here.

Image source: University of Melbourne website.

Project ECHO info session

Children’s Health QLD HHS is excited to announce that our Project ECHO hub is supporting the launch and delivery of a new virtual and interactive learning network focused on the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander kids throughout Queensland.

Project ECHO is a model used to deliver interactive, online, collaborative case-based learning for free. Professionals from all streams, sectors and settings, caring for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander kids are most welcome to attend the information session.

You can register here to attend the information session to be held from12:00 PM-1:00 PM Tuesday 23 November.

For more information on Project ECHO, you can visit their website here and If you have any questions or concerns, you can email the ECHO team here.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Torres Strait leading way in vax numbers

Image in feature tile: a Torres Strait healthcare worker gets the coronavirus vaccine on Saibai Island. Image source: The Guardian.

Torres Strait leading way in vax numbers

The Torres Strait Islands are beating the national average for Indigenous vaccination, with 67% of over 12’s on the Islands having received a first dose, and 56% fully vaccinated..

Torres Strait Regional Authority Chair, Mr Napau Pedro Stephen AM, said clear communication with health authorities has been key for his people to get the jab. Past negative experiences with Government remained a cloud over the rollout for some Torres Strait Islander people, but Stephen said having their questions answered clearly builds trust.

“People in my age group, we’re in the 60s plus, we were still aware of what actually happened to Indigenous people in the past, and the things that are very much in the back of our mind is that whilst we step up to assume our responsibility, the government [has to] step up as well,” he said. “The trust will come when community know that you have given them all information that is available, but also when you actually sit with them and be honest, then they [know they will] make that decision at the end of the day, [and] that you trust them to do the right thing.”

NACCHO’s Dr Jason Agostino said the Torres Strait was identified early on as a priority area for vaccination against COVID-19. “For people, up on those northern islands like Saibai, there used to be really close relationships between the people of PNG, and the people of those islands,” Dr Agostino said.

To view the National Indigenous Times article in full click here.

Image source: The Australian.

Adequate health service funding critical

An annual health check-up on general practice in Australia, the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) General   of the Nation report draws on publicly available data, as well as the Health of the Nation survey of the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) Fellows from across Australia. The report shows promise for the future of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health – but adequate funding for GPs and Aboriginal health services is critical.

This year’s findings show there is strong and growing interest among GPs to work in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health. RACGP Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Chair, Professor Peter O’Mara, said “While we cannot ignore the gap in health outcomes between non-Indigenous people and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, this year’s Health of the Nation report offers us hope for the future.”

“On the workforce front, we continue to see growth in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander GPs, as well as interest in Aboriginal health among GPs in training. This is a positive step forward because we know that more GPs providing high-quality, culturally appropriate and accessible healthcare is key to closing the gap.

To view the article in full click here.

Aboriginal student medical training, stethoscope to female patient's chest

Growing the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander GP workforce is a fundamental part of Closing the Gap. Image: James Cook University General Practice Training. Image source: newsGP website.

Youth-onset type 2 diabetes alarming

A new study, Youth-onset type 2 diabetes among First Nations young people in northern Australia: a retrospective cross-sectional study, has found alarming rates of youth-onset type 2 diabetes among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people across northern Australia. The study uncovered what is arguably the highest reported prevalence in any population of youth internationally within the past 25 years and ten times higher than previously reported in Australia.

Only 14% of young people in the study, defined as before the age of 25 years, had blood glucose levels within recommended targets. For those falling outside of the target, the risk of developing complications such as kidney damage at a young age is significantly increased.

This reflects the reality that the majority of young people in this study are living in poverty with very high levels of educational disadvantage. They are also living with the impacts of intergenerational trauma including exposure to multiple adverse early childhood experiences which we know contributes greatly to the development of chronic disease in later life, including diabetes and metabolic syndrome. Lack of food security further compounds these issues.

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

table with fruit, water bottle, oats, scales, stethoscope, slate with chalk word 'DIABETES'

Image source: Jammu Links News website.

Lockdown related family violence spike

Aboriginal social workers in the NSW town of Bourke fear that lockdowns have created a spike in rates of domestic and family violence.

Gomeroi man and Manager of Bourke Aboriginal Corporation’s Social and Emotional Wellbeing Program at their Centre for Excellence and Wellbeing Joseph Clarke said lockdowns are not only keeping victims of domestic and family violence at home with perpetrators, but also making it much harder for them to report the violence. “Domestic and family violence is running rampant,” he said. “COVID is being used as a weapon. Basically, [perpetrators say] ‘you can’t go anywhere, you have to stay home,’ whether that be the male or the female perpetrator, it doesn’t matter.”

Social epidemiologist Dr Vanessa Lee-Ah Mat is from the Yupungathi and Meriam people and sits on the Domestic Violence NSW Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Women’s Steering Committee. She said they have found an increase in domestic and family violence in Aboriginal communities that isn’t reflected in reported statistics.

To view the article in full click here.

blurred image man's clenched fist, woman sitting in background

Image source: ABC News.

FASD Hub Australia feedback survey

FASD Hub Australia is currently conducting a feedback survey to evaluate the user experience of the website and seek feedback on its accessibility, content and usefulness, as well as suggestions for improvement. Ethics approval has been received from the University of Sydney Human Research Ethics Committee.

Feedback is important for improving and enhancing the website and is an opportunity to make more informed choices about content. It will also help FASD Hub Australia to meet their mission of being the leading source of high quality, evidence-based content about alcohol and pregnancy and FASD in Australia.

The full version survey will take approximately 5-10 minutes to complete and participants can enter a draw to win one of six $50 e-gift cards. The survey closes on Friday 12 November 2021.

FASD Australia logo blue & orange links, image of mum holding sleeping baby to chest

Hunting restrictions during pandemic

Regulations have made it difficult for some Indigenous Australians to carry out cultural hunting and fishing practices, according to two ANU academics.

You can listen to Stewart Sutherland, Senior Lecturer in Indigenous Health, and Amanda Wingett Associate Lecturer in Indigenous Health for On Country discuss the importance of cultural hunting to First Nations communities on the ABC Radio National Overnights with Rod Quinn here.

Aboriginal hunter Robert Gaykamangu, of the Yolngu people, carries a Magpie Goose he successfully shot as he wades through a billabong near the 'out station' of Ngangalala, located on the outksirts of the community of Ramingining in East Arnhem Land

Aboriginal hunter Robert Gaykamangu, of the Yolngu people, carries a Magpie Goose he successfully shot. Photo: David Gray, Reuters.

A related article in The Conversation examines the link between restrictions on cultural hunting and food insecurity. Western NSW, for example, has been significantly affected by rising COVID-19 cases in Aboriginal communities, with people becoming increasingly food insecure. Some have limited financial resources to purchase food, which in rural and remote areas, is comparatively overpriced.

People are also having to rely on food donations and this has worsened the longer lockdowns have continued. Earlier in the pandemic, Aboriginal people in Wilcannia had maintained their cultural practice of hunting kangaroo and distributing the butchered meat to families within the township. However, health authorities discouraged residents from hunting and distributing roo meat in August this year.

The author of the article argues Australia’s governments must find a way for public health orders and cultural food practices to work together. To view The Conversation article in full click here. You can also view a video about an initiative to deliver kangaroo meat to mob during the pandemic below.

Quality use of medicine program survey 

NPS MedicineWise is developing a new program aimed at promoting the safe and effective quality use of medicine (QUM) approach to the provision of medicines to residents of remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities under the Remote Area Aboriginal Health Services (RAAHS) program.

As part of this program, NPS MedicineWise is seeking feedback from health professions who are working in rural and remote areas to help inform the program direction and interventions. The feedback is key to delivering a nationally available and sustainable online solution that is accessible to any remote health service that provides medicines to patients/consumers.

You can access the survey here.

multiple coloured pills, capsules, tablets

Image source: Australian Journal of Pharmacy.

New process for job advertising

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

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

Cultural Safety and Well Being Review results

Be among the first to see the results of The First Nations Australians, Cultural Safety and Well Being Evidence Review and seize the opportunity to give feedback by attending the Cultural Safety and Well Being Evidence Review Stake Holder Feedback Session on Zoom from 1:30-3:00 PM on Thursday 11 November 2021 using this link.

During this session the Social Policy Research Centre, UNSW and Gamarada Universal Indigenous Resources Pty Ltd will provide a summary presentation on the findings of the review and an opportunity to incorporate your feedback.

The session will be recorded. If you do not wish to be recorded please inform us by the Tuesday 9 November 2021 and we will ensure that you have an opportunity to view the presentation and provide feedback.

Participating in the session will be: the Office of the Children’s Guardian, TEI funded services, ACCHOs across NSW as well as academic colleagues and service providers experienced in the field of cultural safety.

Further information about the First Nations Australians, Cultural Safety and Well Being Evidence Review can be found here.

young Aboriginal girl with body paint on face

Image source: SNAICC.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Concerns for irreplaceable knowledge loss

feature tile text 'protect elders from COVID-19 or risk 'irreplaceable culture loss' & image of elder weaving

Concerns for irreplaceable knowledge loss

Indigenous artists, major arts organisations and Aboriginal health services are calling for a road map to protect Indigenous elders from dying from COVID-19 and the irreplaceable loss of culture and knowledge that would cause.

The organisations are worried that as Australia opens up and travel restrictions ease, the virus could reach more vulnerable remote communities. Lily Roy is a prominent senior weaving artist, traditional owner and also sits on the board of the Arnhem Land Progress Association and she founded the Milingimbi Art and Culture Centre on Milingimbi (Yurrwi) Island.

But Ms Roy, a grandmother to at least 35 children, is very concerned about what could happen to Indigenous people if COVID-19 spreads in remote communities, especially with some vaccine hesitancy still in the community. “[Of] course there’s a danger,” she said. “I’m a bit worried for my family, Indigenous people a bit worried.”

The CEO of the Arnhem, Northern and Kimberley Artists Aboriginal Corporation (ANKA), the peak advocacy body for Aboriginal artists and art centres across northern Australia, Christina Balcombe Davidson said there was a serious risk of losing culture, and even the extinction of languages, if elders die from COVID-19 in remote communities, which have little infrastructure, limited health services and overcrowded housing. “We are extremely concerned about safety for Aboriginal people and with them, for the culture that they are the custodians of,” she said.

To view the ABC News article in full click here.

Images in feature tile and above from Maningrida Arts and Culture Annual Report 2019-20.

Summary of Fact-based COVID-19 Communication Resources

The Australian Government Department of Health have prepared a suite of communication resources containing fact-based content about COVID-19 vaccines, including ones developed specifically for vaccine providers that work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients.

The resources are referred to as myth busters because they have been developed to dispel some most common misinformation.

In the suite you will find social media content including images and suggested text, and a fact sheet that could be turned into separate posters/flyers as needed:

  • Facts about COVID-19 vaccines click here
  • Indigenous myth-busting resources click here
  • List of COVID-19 vaccine materials click here
  • List of resources developed for vaccine providers that work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients click here
  • Suite of communication resources around COVID-19 vaccines download here and available to download as a pack on via Google drive share here.

Below is one of the videos in the suite of resources.

Third vax dose for immunocompromised

The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) has created a document with recommendation on the use of the third primary dose of COVID-9 vaccine in individuals who are severely immunocompromised. To access the document click here.

vax vial, syringe

Image source: The Hill website.

Lowitja’s 20 new research grants

Lowitja Institute, Australia’s national institute for community controlled Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health research, has unveiled a landmark program of 20 new research grants that changes the way Indigenous health research is done in Australia.

Lowitja Institute CEO Dr Janine Mohamed said the $4.32 million 2021-2024 Lowitja Institute Research Program delivers research that is truly community-led, culturally-safe and self-determined and puts the cultural determinants of health at the heart of each project.

“Last year, Lowitja Institute fulfilled our long-held vision of becoming an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community controlled organisation, allowing us to throw of the shackles of the old Cooperative Research Centres framework which had always required us to partner only with established research institutions,” Dr Mohamed said. “Being community controlled allows us to privilege our mob when it comes to allocating research funds. It means we can ensure Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people drive our research agenda and that we do the research our people want and need.”

The 2021-2024 Lowitja Institute Research Projects range from the world acclaimed Melbourne-based Short Black Opera to a focus on aged care in the Torres Strait and on children by the Marinwarntikura Women’s Resource Centre in Fitzroy Crossing. Projects will also explore the health impacts of out-of-home care and Indigenous community radio, and map Rainbow Mob cultures, knowledges, and experiences.

To view the media release in full click here.

Simple salt swap could save lives

A landmark study shows a simple salt swap could prevent millions of deaths.

High levels of sodium intake and low levels of potassium intake are widespread, and both are linked to high blood pressure and greater risks of stroke, heart disease and premature death.  Using a salt substitute – where part of the sodium chloride is replaced with potassium chloride – addresses both problems at once.  Salt substitutes are known to lower blood pressure but their effects on heart disease, stroke, and death were unclear, until now.

Lead investigator, Professor Bruce Neal of The George Institute for Global Health, said that the scale of the benefit seen in the study could prevent millions of early deaths if salt substitutes were widely adopted. “Almost everyone in the world eats more salt than they should.  Switching to a salt substitute is something that everyone could do if salt substitutes were on the supermarket shelves,’’ he said.

To view the article in full click here.

salt shaker, salt on bench with word salt spelt in salt

Image source: Mary Hare Hearing Services website.

RACGP looks at NT GP challenges

The RACGP are undertaking a tour of key locations in the NT, including Alice Springs and Central Australia, to understand GP workforce concerns. The RACGP said its mission is to learn from stakeholders in health care settings what challenges face the NT’s workforce and local communities.

RACGP vice president Dr Bruce Willett said that the RACGP understood the serious impact that a doctor shortage had on primary care services in the NT. “There are simply not enough GPs in the training and practising across the state, particularly in rural and remote areas,” Willet said. “Everyone deserves access to high-quality general practice care, regardless of their postcode. Without this, we see patients end up in hospital with much worse health issues that could have been managed in general practice.”

As part of a new transition plan, specialists colleges will once again be responsible for delivery of the Australian General Practice Training Program (AGPT). RACGP rural chair Dr Michael Clements said this change would improve the distribution and placements of GPs Australia wide.

To view the article in full click here.

Image source: Katherine Times.

Kidney disease voices sought

Are you or do you know an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander person living with kidney disease? Did you know that being of Indigenous descent puts you at higher risk of developing kidney disease? Has you doctor explained these risks to you?

The CARI Guidelines Workshop on the Management of Chronic Kidney Disease among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people is seeking voices of lived experience.

Would you like to share your story to help education others to understand better what it is like living with kidney disease?

To view a flyer explaining how you can get involved click here and/or David Tunnicliffe here for more information.

New process for job advertising

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

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

letters J O B S pinned to a cork board

World Sight Day

World Sight Day is this Thursday 14 October 2021. Given the varied impacts of the COVID-19 restrictions across different parts of the country, Vision 2020 have come up with a more nuanced message than in previous years. Taking a lead form the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB) messaging, they are  encouraging Australians to:

Take the pledge to #LoveYourEyes:

  1. Have an eye test as soon as you can.
  2. Don’t ignore changes in your vision.
  3. Maintain your ongoing treatment if you have an existing eye condition.

For more information about World Sight Day, including access to a suite of resources click here.

banner black heart with heart shape & text 'your eyes - 2021 World Sight Day' - background blue, purple, orange

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Historical factors impact healthcare access

feature tile text 'historical factors impact first nations accessing traditional western healthcare' & image of doctor's torso, white lab coat, stethoscope in pocket

Historical factors impact healthcare access

A NSW Upper House committee examining the challenges in accessing medical services outside metropolitan areas has been told Aboriginal people are reluctant to access public healthcare in NSW because they believe they may not survive.

The Aboriginal Health and Medical Research Council gave evidence at the hearing about why Indigenous residents in rural and regional areas will not attend hospitals even if they are very ill.

“Historical factors impact on Aboriginal people accessing western, traditional healthcare services,” Associate Professor Peter Malouf from the Aboriginal Health and Medical Research Council told the inquiry.  “Aboriginal people have a fear factor of going into the health system because they’ve seen many Aboriginal loved ones and community members passing away.”

The Upper House committee was asked to recommend to the NSW government that the public health system works closely with Aboriginal medical services to improve the quality of care given to Indigenous residents.

Aboriginal youth receiving vax at Walgett AMS

The inquiry heard Indigenous people are fearful of the public health system. Photo supplied by: Walgett Aboriginal Medical Service. Image source: ABC News website.

ACCHO to build $7m new medical facility

An Aboriginal cooperative in Bendigo is set to receive more than $7 million to build a new mixed-use medical facility. The Bendigo District Aboriginal Co-Operative (BDAC) will use the funding to help expand medical services to meet growing demand.

BDAC’s new building will include 10 consulting rooms and three allied health rooms. BDAC chief executive Raylene Harradine said the new building will be built at the current site and will help expand current medical services to meet growing demand.

Director of BDAC Programs Dallas Widdicombe said when the site opened four years ago, BDAC had around 1,100 active patients. Now, more than 2,000 residents access the Aboriginal corporation’s health services. “Our wait times can be up to a month for a doctor’s appointment, because we can only have three doctors with our limited space,” Mr Widdicombe said.

To view the article in full click here.

 BDAC staff looking at building plans

Raylene Harradine, centre, inspects the plans for the new building with Maree Edwards (left) and Jacinta Allan (right). Photo: BDAC. Image source: ABC News.

Top COVID-19 vax questions

Dr Lucas de Toca, COVID-19 Primary Care Response First Assistant Secretary, has answered the top three COVID-19 questions asked on our social accounts.

Dr de Toca spoke about people 60 years and over getting the vaccine; some of the misinformation about the vaccine and infertility or risks during pregnancy; and how to protect kids from COVID-19 and whether kids can get COVID-19. You can listen to Dr de Toca below.

Mob overrepresented in road trauma statistics

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are overrepresented in road trauma statistics is one more reason there needs to be culturally appropriate countermeasures which prioritise self-determination and account for the social determinants of health. There are higher rates of death and serious injury on regional, rural, and remote roads, with fatality rates associated with crashes on very remote roads more than 13 times higher than fatality rates in our major cities.

Local governments, which are responsible for managing most of our road networks, will be critical to addressing road trauma outside of our major cities, and indeed at the national level. The work of state governments will also be crucial to develop integrated, holistic, nationally consistent solutions.

To view the Parliament of Australia media release in full click here.

roadside memorial

Six people have died in the past decade on a small stretch of the highway near Barunga, 300 kms SE of Darwin. Photo: Jano Gibson. Image source: ABC News website.

More needed to tackle Kimberley suicide rate

It has been 18 months since the WA government vowed to improve mental health services and tackle high Indigenous suicide rates in the state’s north, but Aboriginal health advocates say nothing has changed.

The state’s far-north has some of the highest rates of youth suicide in the world and the suicide rate of Aboriginal people in the Kimberley is twice as high as among all Indigenous Australians.

After 13 young people took their own lives in the Kimberley in less than four years, the WA government promised to roll out more culturally appropriate mental health services, boost access to clinical services and engage with local Indigenous people on a pathway forward.

Months on, veteran Indigenous health worker Kathy Watson said she was still extremely concerned about the mental health of young people in the region.

To view the ABC News article in full click here.

Jacob Smith - social worker Headspace, Kimberleys

Jacob Smith has been working in the Kimberley to combat suicide prevention for four years and works as a social worker at Headspace. Image source: ABC News.

Food security in remote communities

Last year the National Rural Health Alliance (NRHA) made a submission to the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Indigenous Affairs Inquiry into food pricing and food security in remote Indigenous communities.

Through this Inquiry the Committee highlighted there continues to be significant barriers to addressing food security in remote Indigenous communities. This has been underlined by the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic and the vulnerability of remote Indigenous communities to supply chain interruptions.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in remote communities in Australia experience a disproportionate burden of chronic disease and there is clear evidence of the significant detrimental health effects of poor nutrition linking to a range of chronic diseases which affect life expectancy and overall community well-being. Food insecurity has adverse health and social effects from early childhood through all stages of life. The key food security issue for remote Indigenous communities relates to access to affordable, high quality, nutritious food. There are many factors that influence food security which are explored in this submission, however, the high cost of fresh food relative to the low level of incomes in remote communities emerges as a significant factor.

It is clear that market forces alone cannot be relied upon to address food security issues in remote communities, and there is a role for government at the national, state/territory and local level to intervene in the market to ensure both demand and supply side issues are addressed. Finally, locally-based solutions must be the result of outcomes designed and supported by communities in response to specific community circumstances an

To read the submission in full click here.

Aboriginal staff at checkout in Barlmarrk Supermarket

Barlmarrk Supermarket. Image source: Bawinanga Aboriginal Corporation website.

Type 2 diabetes glucose management study

The FlashGM study is a national Indigenous multicenter trial that asks: Can Flash Glucose Monitoring (FlashGM) improve glucose management in Indigenous Australians with type 2 diabetes?

Diabetes is a major contributor to the mortality gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians, and the risk and severity of diabetes complications (CVD, kidney failure, blindness) are far greater in this population than in non-Indigenous Australians.

There is an urgent need for effective and convenient ways of improving glycaemic management in Indigenous Australians. Diabetes Nurse Educator, Donna Rumbiolo, has driven recruitment for the pilot study and is an integral member of the Flash leadership team. She said “The FlashGM study is about giving communities the experience of using leading diabetes technology. Hopefully we can see this improve people’s health and makes life easier for all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living with diabetes.”

The 5th edition of the Flash Study newsletter includes recent study updates and a spotlight on Rumbalara Aboriginal Cooperative in Shepparton and Apunipima Cape York Health Service in Cairns.

As the study is expands and continues to recruit, expressions of interest are being sought for recruitment sites across Australia.  You can access the study website here for more information and if you would like to discuss the study further please feel free to contact Mariam Hachem by email here.

Aboriginal line drawing of hand with outstretched finger being pricked for sugar level diabetes check

Image source: University of Melbourne website, FlashGM Study page.

AHCSA Sexual Health and BBV Program

The AHCSA Sexual Health and Blood Borne Virus (BBV) Program works with Aboriginal health services and the broader health sector across SA, supporting the prevention and treatment of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and BBVs.

The Program supports ACCHOs and other services working with young Aboriginal people in the promotion of, and improved access to, opportunistic and voluntary STI screening for people aged between 16 and 35 years.

For more information about the program click here.

Aboriginal art text 'end the cycle stay connected' black, olive, burnt orange, white

Image source: AHCSA website.

New process for job advertising

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

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

National Carers Week

Carers are people who provide unpaid care and support to family members and friends who have a disability, mental health condition, chronic condition, terminal illness, an alcohol or other drug issue or who are frail aged – anyone at any time can become a carer. National Carers Week is an opportunity to raise community awareness among all Australians about the diversity of carers and their caring roles.

12.4% of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population are carers, compared to 10.5% of the non-Indigenous Australian population. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander carers living in regional, rural, and remote areas often experience:

  • language and cultural barriers 
  • geographic barriers in accessing health and welfare services
  • and may face barriers to health literacy.

For more information click here.

text 'national carers week 10-16 October 2021' & image of aged hands being held by younger hands

Vax for people living with kidney disease

On Wednesday, 13 October from 6:30PM – 7:30PM (AEDT) Kidney Health Australia is hosting a Q&A webinar on the COVID-19 vaccine for people living with kidney disease. The webinar is open to kidney disease patients, transplant recipients, parents and carers, and health professionals, and aims to answer your questions and concerns around getting the covid vaccine.

To ensure your questions are answered, make sure to submit your question/s when registering for the webinar. Registrations close on Wednesday 13 October at 5:00PM. Click here for more information about the webinar and to register.

banner Kidney Health Australia Q&A webinar Covid-19 vaccines, image of covid-19 cell

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Boosting care sector jobs for mob

Feature tile - Thu 30.9.21 - A Life Changing Life

Boosting care sector jobs for mob

The Morrison Government has launched A Life Changing Life, a new campaign to encourage Indigenous Australians to start a career in the care and support sector. The sector, which includes aged care, disability and veterans’ support is one of the fastest-growing in Australia.

Minister for Indigenous Australians the Hon Ken Wyatt AM MP said it was important to highlight the breadth of opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the sector.

“Caring for mob is a part of our culture – it’s who we are. It makes sense we support Indigenous Australians to consider a future in the sector, so they can deliver the culturally appropriate services our vulnerable people need,” Minister Wyatt said.

“What many people might not know is that this is a sector full of job opportunities, and meaningful careers.

“In many cases, these are jobs you can do without leaving your community and can learn on the job, to start a life-changing career.”

You can read the media release by the Morrison Government here.
You can find out more about the care and support sector, and learn about the meaningful work that makes a difference for mob here.
You can view campaign resources here.

A Life Changing Life

Encouraging others to get the jab

Aboriginal health promotion worker Brittany Wright was asked by Albury Council to contribute to their vaccination messaging on social media.

“They just wanted some young people that have had the vaccination to encourage other people to come and get theirs,” she said.

“I was happy to spread the message, and working at an Aboriginal Health Service, we want to try and get as many Aboriginal people vaccinated as we can.”

AWAHS clinic manager Lauren Blatchford said demand for their program delivering AstraZeneca and Pfizer had increased recently.

“With the COVID cases on both sides of the border, a lot more people are wanting to be vaccinated,” she said.

“We’ve also got some outreach vaccine clinics going around community and that’s really targeting the vulnerable community members who can’t come to the service to be vaccinated, for example,” she said.

“It’s so good to have people like Britt sharing messages – they know who she is and that really encourages other people.

You can read the story in The Border Mail here.

Albury Wodonga Aboriginal Health Service is seeing more Indigenous community members come forward for vaccination, with the support of Brittany Wright and Lauren Blatchford. Image credit: James Wiltshire.

Albury Wodonga Aboriginal Health Service is seeing more Indigenous community members come forward for vaccination, with the support of Brittany Wright and Lauren Blatchford. Image credit: James Wiltshire.

New vaping laws come into effect tomorrow

The Australian Medial Association (AMA) believes new nicotine vaping laws which come into effect this Friday October 1, are timely, with the prevalence of harmful vaping rapidly increasing in the community. The new laws close a loophole in federal legislation which has enabled the unregulated importation and illegal sale of nicotine containing vaping products, or “e-cigarettes”, in each State and Territory.

AMA President Dr Omar Khorshid said under the new rules, nicotine containing vaping products will only be able to be accessed via a prescription from a doctor. He said the changes have a stated aim of protecting the non-smoking public, especially younger people and children, from the clear harms of nicotine poisoning and addiction.

“Vaping is not the risk-free version of smoking that some would have us believe. It is addictive, is associated with proven harms and we know that if nicotine gets into the hands of young children and is ingested, it is highly toxic and can be fatal in very small amounts,” Dr Khorshid said.

The new regulations aim to make nicotine containing vaping products less accessible and aim to prevent the terrible exponential increase in use that is being seen overseas, such as in the US, where around one quarter of all high school students have admitted to current or recent use of mainly high concentration products.

You can read the media release by the AMA here.

hand holding a vap, lots of smoke from mouth

Image source: The Guardian.

Keeping a focus on First Nations’ eye health

The Australian Institute for Health and Welfare (AIHW) has launched its Indigenous eye health measures 2021 report which shows measurable progress towards improving the eye health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

The report includes data from the 2019-20 year, which included the first four months of the COVID-19 pandemic in Australia. Despite the pandemic’s impact, the report highlights that the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people having an eye examination by an optometrist or ophthalmologist continued to grow,

However, the report also highlights some of the continuing challenges Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people face in accessing the eye care they need.

You can read the article in ANZSOG here.

ANZSOG Overturning a blind eye: How coordinated action is on track to eliminate trachoma in Australia Image source: ANZSOG.

ANZSOG Overturning a blind eye: How coordinated action is on track to eliminate trachoma in Australia Image source: ANZSOG.

‘Australians can beat anything’ vax campaign

A powerful new public service campaign that heroes the country’s ingenuity, inventiveness and resilience to overcoming challenges is being released nationally in a bid to boost Australia’s double vaccination rate to 80% or more as quickly as possible. The ‘Australians Can Beat Anything’ campaign – a collaboration between Australia’s advertising, media and consulting industries – hit TV screens, online sites and social media from September 27, rallying Australians to get vaccinated by demonstrating our proven ability to overcome the most difficult of challenges and crises.

Professor Fred Hollows is one of several iconic Australians fronting the campaign.

“Fred was a staunch advocate of modern medicine and improving people’s living standards. We know he would have been encouraging Australians to get vaccinated,” said The Fred Hollows Foundation CEO Ian Wishart.

You can view the advertisement below.

Ideas for looking after your mental health this October

Mental Health Australia has launched its October 2021 calendars for Mental Health Month ahead of World Mental Health Day on 10 October, including daily ideas for all Australians to look after their mental health in the midst of the ongoing pandemic. Mental Health Australia’s downloadable and printable calendars are tailored with some great tips for different audiences, including: the general public, young adults, families, older Australians, and workplaces.

Mental Health Australia CEO, Dr Leanne Beagley says the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is creating an overwhelming situation for many Australians and these daily ideas will help reduce stigma, encourage help seeking and connect communities.

“The calendars provide reminders of something small and tangible we can all do each day to look after our own mental health, as well as improve the wellbeing of others in our families and broader communities,” said Dr Beagley.

This matters to everyone. And we can all benefit from looking after our own mental health and the mental health of our families and communities.

View the media release by Mental Health Australia here.
You can download the calendars here.
To find out more about World Mental Health Day activity this year use the hashtag #LookAfterYourMentalHealthAustralia or visit the website here.

Registration for CTG PBS Co-Payment program extended

Criteria for the Close the Gap (CTG) Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) Co-payment program was expanded in July, allowing registered Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients more streamlined access to subsidised medications.

A grace period to ensure all eligible patients are registered for the program has now been extended to January 2022, with the Department of Health attributing the need for an extension to the ‘significant number’ of eligible patients who are not yet ‘correctly registered’.

This period will prevent CTG PBS Co-payment prescriptions being rejected at the time of dispensing if the Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander person is not formally registered for the program through Services Australia.

PBS prescribers can ensure their Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients are registered for the program via Services Australia’s Health Professional Online Services (HPOS). If the patient is not registered, their status will be indicated as ‘inactive’ in HPOS.

You can read more about the extension in RACGP newsGP here.

Get the treatment you need

The co-payment initiative aims to support better access to medications for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Image source RACGP.

Big Red Kidney Bus flips from vacations to vaccinations

The NSW Big Red Kidney Bus has been repurposed to serve as a mobile vaccination clinic while holidaying is not possible. The Bus is operating as a pop-up clinic in Western Sydney, providing easy access to vaccines for COVID-19.

You can read more in the Norther Sydney Local health District September newsletter here.

Big Red Kidney Bus

Big Red Kidney Bus. Image source:


Australian Digital Health Agency – identified positions

Partnership Manager
EL1 ($122,716 – $139,959)
Digital Programs and Engagement Division > Communications
Brisbane, Canberra, Sydney

Applications close: 11 October 2021
You can view more information and apply for the role here.

Partnership Lead
APS6 ($99,860 – $112,659)
Digital Programs and Engagement Division > Communications
Brisbane, Canberra, Sydney

Applications close: 11 October 2021
You can view more information and apply for the role here.

New process for job advertising

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

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

dice spelling JOBS resting on keyboard

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Natural helpers help counter vax hesitancy

feature tile text 'Aboriginal natural helpers help counter COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy' & vector image of syringe & vial

Natural helpers help counter vax hesitancy

An Edith Cowan University project funded by the WA government has been consulting with natural helpers in Aboriginal communities in the south west and Perth urban areas of WA. Led by Dr Uncle Mick Adams, Senior Aboriginal Research Fellow at the Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet, Professor Neil Drew, Director of the HealthInfoNet, and Associate Professor Stuart Medley from the School of Arts and Humanities, supported by community Cultural Consultant Brett Hill, the project has been asking natural helpers about their experiences of COVID-19.

Natural helpers are those in the community who are naturally turned to in times of crisis for information and support. A particular focus was to explore where people are getting their information from and how trustworthy they feel those sources are.

Many participants in the study felt that, despite the overwhelming weight of information available, they still lacked information that they could trust. They felt that many of the people used to promote the messages, like sports people or politicians were too far-removed from the circle of trust in communities. Many want to see and hear from local identities or natural helpers; people they know and trust. This includes Elders and community leaders but also, and importantly, other trusted natural helpers. They want authorities to visit and sit with them to discuss the issues in their community.

To view the full article click here.

large group of people sitting & standing around table

Mandurah Focus Group.

Improving Hep C diagnosis

Minister for Health and Aged Care, Greg Hunt, said to help improve the treatment times of those with hepatitis C, the Morrison Government will fund a new national point-of-care testing (POCT) program that can confirm active hepatitis C infections within an hour and allow treatment to begin immediately.

The Kirby Institute at the University of NSW and the International Centre for Point-of-Care Testing at Flinders University will be provided with $6.5 million combined to establish the program. Being able to provide the testing and treatment all in one visit is a real game-changer for people who would normally have to wait several weeks for a test result.

To view Minister Hunt’s media release click here.

young Aboriginal man in front of brick wall, overlaid with line drawing of hands & syringe, text 'protect' your blood

Image source: VIVA Communications website.

Kids with disability in OOHC

The 16th hearing of the Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability has shifted its focus to the experiences of Indigenous children with disability in out-of-home care (OOHC).

More than 20%of Indigenous children have a disability, compared to 8% in the general population. Out of the 45,996 children in OOHC in Australia in 2019 and 2020, 18,862 – more than 40% – were Indigenous despite only making up 6% of the total child population.

Earlier, the inquiry heard that some Indigenous families were having their disabled children taken from them amid a shortage of specialised support programs. The children often need constant care but a lack of services to help parents was leading to perceptions of neglect, health service the Central Australian Aboriginal Congress (CAAC) said. “They can’t meet the care needs of that child because the care needs are higher,” CAAC chief executive Donna Ah Chee said. “We need to have equitable access so that the ability to provide the appropriate level of care is not a consideration for children being removed.” Ms Ah Chee called for more early intervention and child care programs, and trained carers to help struggling families, many of whom live in poverty.

To view the 7 News article in full click here.

young girl gazing out a window

EY Oceania website.

CAAC welcomes NT COVID-19 plan

The Central Australian Aboriginal Congress (CAAC) has acknowledged the NT Government’s Plan for COVID-Management At Stage 3 of The National Plan which will enact some of the strongest protections in the nation for our vulnerable Aboriginal population.

“The modelling for Victoria shows that even opening up at 80% will lead to daily infections in the thousands along with potentially thousands of deaths and a hospital system close to breaking point,” said CAAC CEO Donna Ah Chee.” The NT cannot afford to get to anything like this and the NT Government should be commended for their approach,” she continued.

To view the media release click here.

CAAC logo & CAAC staff member receiving covid-19 vax

CAAC logo from CAAC website. Image source: NT News.

Speech Pathology Indigenous Health major

The number of domestic applications for the undergraduate speech pathology course at Southern Cross University (SCU) have increased 79% compared to the same time last year. It is the only Speech Pathology degree in Australia to offer an Indigenous Health major. The SCU Speech Pathology program has multiple community partnerships which support the students to engage in a range of external placements, across NSW, Queensland and beyond.

“One reason for our growth in demand for the course is a greater community awareness about the need for people trained in this discipline, particularly in regional, rural and remote areas,” SCU Professor Yoxall said.

“There is such a high demand for paediatric speech pathology services, that some families can wait years to have their young child assessed, thereby missing out of vital early intervention. We hear about children who have NDIS funding but are going through a full calendar year or longer without managing to secure an appointment with a speech pathologist.”

To view the Echo article in full click here.

Model improves Type 2 Diabetes outcomes

Research shows an innovative model-of-care that includes a weekly nurse review and an injection of a drug known as Exenatide-LAR significantly improves sugar management for Indigenous Australians with Type 2 Diabetes (T2D) in remote communities.

Diabetes affects Indigenous Australians at alarmingly high rates – more than three to four times that of non-Indigenous Australians. In some of the worst-affected communities in Australia, Indigenous Australians are experiencing a 13-fold increase in kidney failure for people aged 35-44 years and an alarming eight-fold mortality attributed to CVD.

A cluster randomised study known as the ‘Lower Sugar Study’ allocated two communities in Central Australia to receive either a once-weekly Exenatide injection with weekly nurse review and adjustment of medication for 20 weeks, or a weekly nurse review in addition to standard care over 20 weeks in the community without Exenatide.

The aim of the study was to test the feasibility of the intensive diabetes management model-of-care with and without weekly supervised Exenatide. The research team also looked at the change in HbA1c, which is a marker of sugar levels.

Associate Professor Ekinci said there are many reasons why Indigenous Australians have been impacted by diabetes. “We know that the social determinants of health matter here. These include significant cultural losses and dispossession, racial discrimination and food insecurity. These historical, social and other issues contribute to Indigenous Australians developing early on-set and rapidly progressive forms of diabetes,” Associate Professor Ekinci said.

To view the University of Melbourne article in full click here.

Aboriginal person's hands, blood sugar level testing

Image source: The Medical Journal of Australia.

New RPHCM website launched

Remote Primary Health Care Manuals (RPHCM) have launched a new website. The RPHCMs are a widely used and highly regarded resource in remote health across central, northern, and remote Australia – they support and promote good clinical practice in primary health care.

To view the RPHCM website launch flyer click here.

cover of each of 4 RPHCMs

You can also view the RPHCM September 2021 Update here. More than 85% of the Primary Reviews are now completed. Protocol groups endorsed include: birth and birth emergencies; bites and stings, injuries; mental health emergencies; skin; and wounds. Protocol groups coming up for endorsement include: cardiac, renal and diabetes; clinical assessment; contraception; eyes; and respiratory.

Secondary reviews of protocols to check that protocols are clear and can be applied to
remote practice will start later this year.

New process for job advertising

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

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

Rural and Remote Health Scientific Symposium

Virtual registrations are now open for the 8th Rural and Remote Health Scientific Symposium which will be held on Wednesday 6 and Thursday 7 October 2021. The full digital program includes more than 60 research presentations, poster sessions and engagement with high-quality keynote speakers.

The theme of the virtual symposium is ‘Connecting research, practice and communities’ – bringing together rural health academics, clinical researchers and practitioners, students, as well as policymakers engaged with the Alliance and the rural health sector. The symposium offers comprehensive knowledge learning and professional development, as well as the opportunity for personal engagement with speakers, presenters and peers.

To register for the symposium click here.

Professor Tom Calma AO will be a keynote speaker at the symposium.

Ngar-wu Wanyaraa Health Conference

Health professionals and community members from across Australia will come together online for the 6th Annual Ngar-wu Wanyarra Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Conference on Wednesday 13 October 2021. The conference will be hosted by the University of Melbourne, Department of Rural Health and showcase advances in the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, highlighting key findings and current health issues facing the community.

Multi-award winning broadcaster and journalist, Stan Grant, who is currently International Affairs Editor for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation will deliver the keynote address. Further information and updates can be viewed on the Department of Rural Health website here.

To register for the virtual conference click here.

Norm Stewart, Kidneys of the Dungala, 2012. Community/Language Group: Yorta Yorta, acrylic on canvas.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Low awareness of FASD

Feature tile - Thu 9.9.21 - Low awareness of FASD.

Low awareness of FASD

This International Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) Awareness Day, the Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education (FARE) and NOFASD are calling on Australians to contribute to the prevention of FASD – a range of neurodevelopmental impairments caused by alcohol exposure during pregnancy.

FARE CEO, Caterina Giorgi, said that a new polling snapshot by FARE has identified that many Australians are not aware that alcohol is harmful to health during pregnancy.

“Almost one in three Australians aren’t aware that drinking alcohol during pregnancy can cause FASD and almost one in four aren’t aware that alcohol should be avoided altogether in pregnancy,” Ms Giorgi said.

You can also join the Red Shoes Rock campaign, which was started by RJ Formanek, an adult with FASD. He decided to wear RED SHOES to stand out, be noticed and have some fun starting FASD conversations with strangers. With strong supports and increased awareness FASD can be prevented. Wear red shoes proudly to raise awareness about FASD.
#RedShoesRock #FASDawareness

You can view the media release by FARE and NOFASD here.
You can also download a Polling Snapshot for Alcohol use, Pregnancy and Fetal Alcohol
Spectrum Disorder here.
For more information about International FASD Awareness Day click here.

Red Shoes Rock-banner, FASD.


‘Living with COVID’ – what front-line health workers are facing

With the Delta variant raging across New South Wales and Victoria, health services are stretched and strained. In the next few months, the health workforce will care for many more patients with COVID-19, with case numbers in NSW expected to peak over the next two weeks.

The nation is focused on plans to reopen borders and increase freedoms as soon as there are sufficiently high rates of vaccination. But what does ‘living with’ COVID-19 look like for health professionals?

In 2020, The Conversation surveyed front-line health-care workers across Australia and found the pandemic had taken a considerable toll on their mental health. Throughout the pandemic, health-care workers have also been disproportionately infected – often through exposure to the virus at work.

If we are to live with COVID-19, we need a health-care system that can cope with the ‘normal’ pressures of providing health care for 25 million people, intermittent crises, plus respond to both the short and long-term needs of people with COVID-19. Preparing the health-care system to respond to crises such as pandemics, must include supporting health-care workers and protecting them from burnout, overwork, and exhaustion. We risk losing our most valuable asset in the health-care system if we fail to urgently respond to these issues.

You can read the article in The Conversation here.

Kathryn Ivey, an ICU nurse in the USA tweeted these two photos with the text: "How it started. How it's going." in November 2020.

Kathryn Ivey, an ICU nurse in the USA tweeted these two photos with the text: “How it started. How it’s going.” in November 2020.


Wilcannia targeted by ivermectin spruiker

Last week, as case numbers in the COVID-ravaged regional New South Wales town of Wilcannia soared, a broadcaster at the local radio station, Brendon Adams, received an offer in an email. It said a prominent Sydney doctor wanted to help the town’s largely Aboriginal population by treating them with a drug that, the sender promised, would “get rid of COVID and prevent them from contracting it again”. The drug was ivermectin and the email Adams received came from a Queensland man named John Huntley.

In Wilcannia, where COVID cases reached 109 on Wednesday, or 14.5% of the population, the appearance of individuals pushing the use of ivermectin prompted an outburst of anger from Adams, who accused the sender of taking advantage of a community where people were already sick, confused and scared.

“This isn’t just happening in Wilcannia. We’re hearing this is happening in communities all over the far west. The information they’re pushing is not reliable, it’s not resourceful. We need them to stop and leave our communities alone. We’ve got enough to deal with at the moment,” he told the Guardian.

You can read the story in the Guardian here.

Brendon Adams, who has been helping with providing food to families in isolation, Wilcannia, NSW, Australia. Photograph: Jessica Hromas/The Guardian.

Brendon Adams, who has been helping with providing food to families in isolation, Wilcannia, NSW, Australia. Photograph: Jessica Hromas/The Guardian.


More vaccines, but when can we make them here?

Australia borrows Pfizer jabs, while it waits for purchases to arrive. But when might mRNA vaccines be made onshore? Also there’s anger among Aboriginal leaders about anti-vax propaganda targeted at vulnerable communities. And consumer shortages and delays as a cascade of problems hits global shipping.

Listen to:

  • Associate Professor Archa Fox, RNA biologist, University of Western Australia.
  • Dr Jason Agostino, Senior Medical Adviser to the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO), GP and epidemiologist.
  • Rachel Premack, senior investigative reporter, Business Insider

Produced by Madeleine Genner and Emily Bourke.

Tune in to listen to This Week, 4 September 2021 on ABC Radio here.

Dr Jason Agostino, Senior Medical Adviser to NACCHO, GP and epidemiologist.

Dr Jason Agostino, Senior Medical Adviser to NACCHO, GP and epidemiologist.


What challenges lies ahead in epidemiology?

The World Congress of Epidemiology opened on 4 September with a short silence to remember more than 4.5 million people who have died from COVID-19 to date, with particular mention of epidemiologists and public health workers. Hosted by the Australasian Epidemiological Association, the Congress this year is a virtual event, and began with a Welcome to Country from Wurundjeri Elder, Aunty Diane Kerr.

Also at the opening ceremony, President of the International Epidemiology Association, Professor Henrique Barros, reflected on how COVID-19 had provided a “critical moment” for epidemiology. He contrasted the epidemiological tools used to combat the spread of COVID with approaches taken century ago when the 1918 influenza pandemic posed a similar threat to global health.

Clear messages from other keynotes and presentations included the need to celebrate the positive contribution epidemiology has played in worldwide efforts to combat COVID, while also applying a critical lens and learning from past mistakes to meet the challenges of COVID and other public health threats in the future.

Another strong theme was the need for epidemiology to be more effective in addressing health inequities, especially for First Nations people.

You can read the article in Croakey Health Media here.

To date: 4,561,467 COVID deaths and 220,305,973 cases. Image taken from real-time online mapping of the outbreak, by John Hopkins University Center for Systems Science and Engineering. 5 Sept 2021.

To date: 4,561,467 COVID deaths and 220,305,973 cases. Image taken from real-time online mapping of the outbreak, by John Hopkins University Center for Systems Science and Engineering. 5 Sept 2021.


Access to COVID-19 digital certificate

Consumers can now get their COVID-19 digital certificate from My Health Record to show proof of their COVID-19 vaccinations. The digital certificate will become available once their vaccination provider has reported all required doses of an approved COVID-19 vaccine to the Australian Immunisation Register (AIR).

Consumers can already get an immunisation history statement from their record to show proof of all vaccinations recorded on the AIR, including COVID-19 vaccinations.

These documents are also available for non-Medicare eligible consumers who have a My Health Record.

Second dose alert date range
The COVID-19 vaccine second dose due date alert now displays a date range on the Record Home page. The dates are calculated based on the minimum and maximum recommended interval for the second dose of the vaccine brand. For example, if someone has one dose of the Pfizer vaccine, their second dose would be due between 21 and 42 days after the first dose.

For more information, see Getting proof of vaccination from My Health Record.
You can also find answers to common consumer questions here.

If consumers need assistance at any time, they can contact the Help line on 1800 723 471 and select option 1. Call charges may apply for mobile phones.

COVID-19 Digital Certificate. Image source: ABC News.

COVID-19 Digital Certificate. Image source: ABC News.


Are they really OK? Ask them today!

This year’s R U OK? Day theme is ‘Are they really OK? Ask them today’. R U OK?

The Morrison Government is encouraging Australians to reach out to the people we care about for an important conversation about mental health this R U OK? Day. This year it is more important than ever before as we all continue to face unprecedented challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic, and these challenges can have significant impacts on our mental health.

Research has shown that around 22% of Australians don’t reach out to check on the people around them because there hasn’t been an occasion where they felt someone needed their help. However, a regular check in, or just starting the conversation – even when someone is not visibly distressed or in crisis – can make a real difference.

Read the media release by The Morrison Government here.

In another media release by the Psychotherapy and Counselling Federation of Australia (PACFA), Dr Di Stow, President of the PACFA says you should be prepared for the answer to be ‘No’ when asking a friend, family member or colleague R U OK?

It’s being reported that in lockdown, pre-existing trauma is rising to the surface and cracks in families that were previously covered over with activity are being laid bare. People are seeking help for anxiety, depression and anger arising from the uncertainty and lack of control related to lockdown. Counsellors and psychotherapists are increasingly frustrated at the current situation where Australians struggling with their mental health will seek support on R U OK Day but be turned away by psychologists after referrals from GPs. GPs, particularly in locked-down states, report they cannot find help for their patients through the Better Access initiative because psychologists have waiting lists of 3-6 months, or have closed their books completely.

In the meantime, over 60% of PACFA members responding to a survey said they could take on a new client within a fortnight; 23% said they could take on a new client within 48 hours.

PACFA is advocating for the Federal Government to open up the Better Access initiative beyond psychologists, to counsellors and psychotherapists who are highly-trained, highly experienced mental health professionals.

You can read the media release here.

Click here for more information and resources around R U OK? Day.


New process for job advertising

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

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

dice spelling JOBS resting on keyboard


Nominations open: the Dennis McDermott Memorial Award For Excellence In Cultural Safety

This award is named in honour of the late Professor Dennis McDermott. From Gomereoi country (north-western New South Wales), with connections to Gadigal country (inner Sydney), he was a psychologist, academic and poet, and was La Trobe University’s inaugural Pro Vice-Chancellor (Indigenous). Dennis worked as an Indigenous health academic for many years. As a respected member of the LIME Network and Reference Group he contributed to the pedagogy of Indigenous cultural safety for future health professionals.

The award, a prize of $1000, will recognise outstanding work by a health practitioner, community organisation or educator in enhancing cultural safety in Australian health contexts, understood broadly. It is intended to recognise both existing good practice and innovations in the field.

Submission must be received by 5pm (AEST), 25 September 2021.

Click here for more information about nominations and applications.
Email submissions to Dr Shayne Bellingham:

Professor Dennis McDermott. Image credit: Flinders University via InDaily.

Professor Dennis McDermott. Image credit: Flinders University via InDaily.

Chronic Kidney Disease, Diabetes & Cardiovascular Disease

This is a webinar for health professionals run by Kidney Health Australia. It will be presented by Associate Professor Shilpa Jesudason, Nephrologist.

7:30pm AEST, Wednesday 22 September 2021.
You can register your interest here.

Chronic Kidney Disease, Diabetes & Cardiovascular Disease webinar.