NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Labor releases Indigenous health policy

Labor releases Indigenous health policy

Labor have issued a media release outlining the focus of their Indigenous health policy. An Albanese Labor Government will train 500 additional First Nations Health Workers and invest in life-saving dialysis and rheumatic heart disease treatments to help close the gap in First Nations health outcomes.

Aboriginal community-controlled health services worked tirelessly to keep First Nations communities safe during the pandemic. Their workforce has been stretched to its limits and vital programs such as chronic disease prevention and First Nations health checks have had to be scaled back.

Labor will work in partnership with community-controlled and other health services to strengthen the sector and improve health outcomes for First Nations people by:

  • Training 500 First Nations Health Workers – building the First Nations health workforce, creating jobs and revitalising community-controlled health services after the pandemic.
  • Delivering up to 30 new dialysis units – so people living in the city and the bush can access lifesaving treatment for chronic kidney disease.
  • Doubling federal funding to combat Rheumatic Heart Disease – so that fewer people miss out on lifesaving screening, treatment and prevention programs in high-risk communities.

To view the Labor media release Labor will Strengthen First Nations Health in full click here.

Bibbulmun woman Corina Abraham-Howard from Perth receives dialysis at the Purple House in Alice Springs. Photograph: Photo: Mike Bowers. Image source: The Guardian.

Calls for healthcare language boost

A NT collective responsible for aiding Yothu Yindi member Witiyana Marika manage a serious illness say appropriate health messaging could halve medical conditions in Aboriginal communities. Mr Marika recently underwent a second operation to treat his rheumatic heart disease thanks to education provided by Why Warriors co-founder Richard Trudgen.

For years Mr Marika lived with his condition without properly understanding it as language used by doctors was difficult to comprehend. Mr Trudgen said this has been a failure of the system for some time. Why Warriors aim to provide First Nations people with radio and on-demand content presented in language for this purpose.

In cases like Mr Marika’s, messaging form Western and Aboriginal medical services are not adjusted for patients who use English as a second language, if at all. Mr Trudgen said simplifying the information does little more than restrict people from the important details. “They want evidential information that shows the cause and effect right down to a biomedical level.” Why Warriors hope to secure funding to stretch their processes to First Nations communities around the country.

To view the ABC News article Yothu Yindi legend undergoes operation amid calls for healthcare language boost in full click here.

Founding Yothu Yindi member Witiyana Marika

Founding Yothu Yindi member Witiyana Marika. . Image source: NT News.

Why Western therapy is not the answer

Portia Walker-Fernando was 16 when she first saw a counsellor, overwhelmed by anger and distress that her brother was being bullied at school because he was Indigenous. “The racism was fairly frequent,” says Walker-Fernando, a Bundjalung woman, from the Northern Rivers of NSW, who, at 24, still carries anxiety and depression.

“As a 16-year-old who was trying to understand why, it really, really hurt. Being Indigenous and being black is something you can’t change.”

Walker-Fernando says intergenerational trauma and racism have contributed to her mental health issues, with her anxiety spiking every year about January 26. “Looking at our history and our story, there’s so much trauma embedded in that. I have a panic attack pretty much every Survival Day – or Australia Day – because of that really strong impact that it has on me,” she says. “No one’s been given the life tools to be able to heal from these traumas, so we’re still carrying them today.”

Half the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who experience racial discrimination report feelings of psychological distress, according to a Victorian study by the Lowitja Institute, meaning they are vulnerable to developing anxiety and depression.

To view The Age article ‘I have a panic attack every Survival Day’: Why Western therapy wasn’t the answer for Portia in full click here.

Portia Walker-Fernando from Casino pictured with her children. Photo: Natalie Grono. Image source: The Age.

Broncos support IUIH’s Deadly Choices

The Brisbane Broncos will continue to encourage Queensland’s Indigenous youth to get active and healthy, as part of its ongoing support of the Institute for Urban Indigenous Health’s (IUIH) Deadly Choices preventative health program.

By prioritising healthy eating, exercise, the avoidance of tobacco and alcohol use, and ensuring individuals continue to complete an annual health check, the Club hopes to unearth and foster future talent of the calibre of current players, Selwyn Cobbo and Kotoni Staggs.

Cobbo, a proud Wakka Wakka man from Cherbourg was today joined by the Burnett’s original Broncos flyer, current and fellow Deadly Choices Ambassador, Steve Renouf to unveil a new suite of health check shirts, used as incentives to encourage local communities to visit the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community Health Service (ATSICHS) Brisbane for an annual check-up.

Broncos CEO Dave Donaghy said: “Deadly Choices is an outstanding program making a real difference and we are proud of our partnership with the IUIH that now extends beyond a decade.

To view the Broncos promote ‘Deadly’ Communities media release in full click here.

Selwyn Cobbo. Image source: Broncos website.

NT AHW Excellence Awards noms open

The NT’s best and brightest Health Workers and Practitioner’s have the chance for their efforts and work to be recognised, with nominations opening for the 2022 Northern Territory Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Worker and Practitioner Excellence Awards.

The awards are held annually to recognise and acknowledge the significant contribution Aboriginal health workers and practitioners make to their families, communities and the healthcare system across the Northern Territory. These awards acknowledge the outstanding contribution made by our highly valued Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workers and Practitioners workforces within the previous 12 months.

Nominations are open from Tuesday 26 April 2022 to Sunday 19 June 2022. To submit a nomination, visit the awards webpage Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Worker and Practitioner Excellence Awards – Department of Health here, or contact Aboriginal Workforce Development
using this email link or ring (08) 89227 278.

To view the NT Government Health Minister Natasha Fyles’ media release in full click here.

Aboriginal health workers, Sherryl King and Keinan Keighran, from Wurli-Wurlinjang Aboriginal Health Service were recognised for their work at the 2021 NT Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Worker and Practitioner Excellence Awards. Photo: Charlie Bliss. Image source: Katherine Times.

Swapping the screen for nature

Model and actor Magnolia Maymuru is careful about how she spends her time. When not in the make-up chair, she retreats into nature – a habit she wishes the rest of the world would adopt, too.

Modern science may have only recently uncovered the link between exposure to nature and increased wellbeing, but Indigenous Australians such as Magnolia Maymuru have been aware of it for thousands of years. “Up here, we have connections to everything around us, from the ground to the sky,” the model and actor said.

Born in Darwin, Maymuru belongs to the Yolngu people – a group of Aboriginal clans from north-east Arnhem Land – who believe that they don’t only come from the land, they are the land, too. “We’re born into our connection [with the outdoors],” she explains. “Every time I come back from the city and hear the waves crash, it just does something to me.”

To view the Body + Soul article Magnolia Maymuru on swapping screen time for real connections with nature in full click here.

Magnolia Maymuru. Photo: Body+Soul. Image source: BodyAndSoul.

Barriers to physical activity for mob

Physical activity has cultural significance and population health benefits. However, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults may experience challenges in participating in physical activity. A review that aims to synthetize existing evidence on facilitators and barriers for physical activity participation experienced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults in Australia has been undertaken.

The review identified 63 barriers: 21 individual, 17 interpersonal, 15 community/environmental and 10 policy/program barriers. Prominent facilitators included support from family, friends, and program staff, and opportunities to connect with community or culture. Prominent barriers included a lack of transport, financial constraints, lack of time, and competing work, family or cultural commitments. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults experience multiple facilitators and barriers to physical activity participation. Strategies to increase participation should seek to enhance facilitators and address barriers, collaboratively with communities, with consideration to the local context.

To view the Facilitators and Barriers to Physical Activity and Sport Participation Experienced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Adults: A Mixed Method Review in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health in full click here.

Photo: IUIH. Image source: Exercise Right 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.

World Immunisation Week

World Immunisation Week, celebrated in the last week of April, aims to highlight the collective action needed and to promote the use of vaccines to protect people of all ages against disease.

The World Health Organisation works with countries across the globe to raise awareness of the value of vaccines and immunisation and ensures that governments obtain the necessary guidance and technical support to implement high quality immunisation programmes.

The ultimate goal of World Immunization Week is for more people – and their communities – to be protected from vaccine-preventable diseases.

In a related article parents and carers are being reminded of the importance of getting their children vaccinated against COVID-19 in a new information video from the Department of Health.

The video features GP and Senior Doctor at Wirraka Maya Health Service Aboriginal Corporation (HSAC), Dr Aleeta Fejo who answers important questions about children and the COVID-19 vaccines.

Dr Fejo, a Larrakia and Warumungu traditional owner and Elder, said fake stories and misinformation about COVID-19 vaccines were unfortunately very common, especially on social media.

She said it was natural for parents to have questions about giving their kids the jab. “COVID-19 is a serious illness that can affect everyone—including children,” Dr Fejo said. “Vaccines can help stop your child becoming very sick, or even dying, if they catch the virus,” she said.

You can view a three-minute video featuring Dr Fejo below.

Also related is a advice from AMA NSW: with shorter days and cooler temperatures, NSW residents are urged to talk to their GP about getting their flu jab. “Flu season usually occurs from June to September in Australia, and we urge patients to time their vaccination to achieve the highest level of protection during the peak of the season,” said AMA (NSW) President, Dr Danielle McMullen.

“Your GP can provide you with advice on when to get your flu shot. Patients should also know that influenza vaccination is recommended for everyone aged six months and over and is free for patients most at risk. “This includes adults over 65 years and over, children under five, pregnant women, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and people with certain medical conditions.”

To view the AMA NSW media release Flu season around the corner – time to plan click here.

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: NACCHO selected to drive home care workforce

Image in feature tile from IRT Group article Booraja Home Care Secures Funding Through End of June, 3 February 2020.

NACCHO selected to drive home care workforce

NACCHO is one of six organisations selected by the federal government to drive the growth of the Australia’s home care workforce by 13,000 over the next two years, and support more senior Australians to access Home Care Packages and remain independent at home. More than $91 million under the Home Care Workforce Support Program has been allocated to organisations in each state and territory, and to the NACCHO.

Minister for Health and Aged Care, the Hon Greg Hunt MP, said all home care providers can work with these organisations to grow and upskill their workforce. “The Home Care Workforce Support Program will help senior Australians to remain at home by growing the personal care workforce. This will allow people to access home care services where and when they need them,” Minister Hunt said.

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

Booraja project manager Bunja Smith helps Veronica Holmes tidy the front yard of her Moruya home. Photo: Rhett Wyman. Image source: SMH.

Dementia rates show racism’s lifelong impact

In his article Dementia Rates of Indigenous Australians show the lifelong impact of racism Nick Keppler argues “The collective trauma of Australia’s Indigenous population may have begat one of the highest dementia rates in the world.” Mr Keppler said “A new study published last month in Neurology, that found the prevalence of dementia in a group of Indigenous Australians living in urban areas was double that of non-Indigenous Australians, echos the findings of a growing body of research.”

Mr Keppler continued “Several health problems and unfortunate life circumstances increase one’s risk of dementia, and many of them are heaped disproportionately onto marginalised and persecuted groups. To look at dementia among Australia’s First Nations population is to look at how the effects of colonialism, racism, and inequity pile up in the brain over a lifetime.”

To view the Inverse article in full click here.

Bidyadanga residents with dementia supported by workers L-R Angelina Nanudie, Zarena Richards, Rosie Spencer and Faye Dean

Bidyadanga residents with dementia are supported by workers at the community care centre. From left: Angelina Nanudie, Zarena Richards, Rosie Spencer and Faye Dean. Photo: Erin Parke. ABC Kimberley. Image source: ABC News website.

ACCHO model lauded by CHF

The Consumers Health Forum (CHF) has welcomed the recommendations in the Community Affairs References Committee’s interim report into the provision of general practitioner and related primary health care services to outer metropolitan, rural and regional Australia. CHF CEO, Leanne Wells said that the report focuses on some of the major issues encountered by regional health consumers, who “have very different experiences accessing primary health care than do people living in cities.”

Ms Wells was disappointed however that the report made no mention of the more systemic reforms to primary care, such as a connected system of primary care, integrating general practice with other health services. “Incorporating new models of care which have already been tested with great success in location-based, or state-based initiatives would be a huge step forward in changing the infrastructure needed to support general practice,” said Ms Wells.

There are existing models of care already demonstrating system reform, such as ACCHOs which operate clinics across Australia delivering holistic community-based is health care services for First Nations people, as well as some state-based models offering community-based medical services.

To view the CHF media release in full click here.

Image source: Bulgarr Ngaru Medical Aboriginal Corporation, NSW website.

Gap widens for children in early years

SNAICC have issued a media release saying it is critical that Governments act now to better support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children if there is to be progress on closing the gap. For the second time in a week new data shows the gap is widening in critical areas relating to young people. The Australian Early Development Census National Report released yesterday shows there has been a decrease in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander child development overall across key measures (domains). SNAICC CEO Catherine Liddle said the declines highlighted the importance of Governments acting on the solutions put forward by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled early childhood services.

To view SNAICC’s media release in full click here.

Image source: National Indigenous Australians Agency website.

AKction project transforms kidney health

In 2018, a funding cut put an end to a free shuttle bus that took Aboriginal patients in Adelaide to and from the dialysis treatments. Nari Sinclair, a Ngarrindjeri and Yorta Yorta woman, was furious about the implications, for herself and others. Reliant on a wheelchair because both her legs have been amputated, Nari is unable to drive, catch public transport or take a standard taxi, and face significant inconvenience and costs as a result of the funding cut. She knew of other kidney patients who were also hit hard.

Determined to fight the decision, Nari joined forces with Pitjantjatjara/Yankunytjatjara Elder Inawinytji (Ina) Williamson, a renowned artist who was forced more than a decade ago to move to Adelaide, away from Country, family and friends, for dialysis treatment that cannot be access in the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) Lands.

They got together for a yarn about how the complex clinical, cultural and social determinants impact Aboriginal people, families and communities affected by chronic kidney disease. Nari and Ina then met with Kidney Health Australia and University Adelaide researcher Dr Janet Kelly, who was working with kidney health professionals on a project to improve the quality and cultural safety of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’s healthcare journeys, particularly for those from remote communities. “And it’s gone from there,” Nari sad of how she, Ina and Janet worked with others to launch what would become the landmark Aboriginal Kidney Care Together – Improving Outcomes Now (AKction) project. It is transforming kidney health research and care.

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

From back L: Amy Graham, Dr Kim O’Donnell, Kelli Owen, Ina Williamson

From back L: Amy Graham, Dr Kim O’Donnell, Kelli Owen, Ina Williamson. Image source: Croakey Health Media.

Tom Calma presents Basil Hetzel Oration

A transcript of the 2021 Basil Hetzel Oration delivered by Professor Tom Calma AO was published in the 2022 Online Australian and NZ Journal of Public Health last week. In his oration Professor Calma specifically addressed the crises of COVID-19, racism, mental health and smoking. Below are two extracts for the oration:

“The COVID-19 pandemic has presented challenges and opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are at increased risk from COVID-19 given the higher prevalence of health risk factors amongst our populations, implicated with coloniality and systemic racism. However, the experience of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders has meant that we have taken the pandemic seriously from the outset. In bringing prevention measures to communities, Indigenous skill and excellence have been highlighted. We must use this momentum to address ongoing issues among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples brought through colonisation, systemic racism and associated health inequalities.”

“We have known for over 60 years that, when used as directed, tobacco will kill you. Colonisation introduced and continues to support tobacco use. Tobacco was often used in first encounters between colonisers and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as a gesture of goodwill and to establish and build relationships. It was also used as a form of payment in lieu of wages until the mid to late 1960s. This entrenched smoking among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Colonisation has also actively placed Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples at the bottom of the socioeconomic ladder – an outcome that has impacted over generations through mechanics of colonisation that have actively excluded us from the education system and the economy. Socioeconomic status is strongly linked to smoking, and other health and wellbeing outcomes, in an unjust, perpetual and predacious cycle.”

To view Tom Calma’s oration in full click here.

Professor Tom Calma AO. Image source: The Guardian.

Nominate for eye health awards

Nominations are invited for the 2022 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Eye Health Awards. The awards – formerly known as the Leaky Pipe Awards – recognise achievements and contributions in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander eye health.

Nominations are open in the following categories:

  • Contribution to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander eye health by Aboriginal Community-Controlled Health Organisations (ACCHO)
  • Contribution to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander eye health (Individual)
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leadership in eye health
  • Allyship in contribution to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander eye health

‘Unsung heroes’ in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander eye health are particularly sought.

Click here to find out more. Nominations must be received before close of business on Friday 22 April 2022.

Kristopher Rallah-Baker has become Australia’s first Indigenous ophthalmologist

Kristopher Rallah-Baker has become Australia’s first Indigenous ophthalmologist. Image source: National Indigenous 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.

Indigenous Eye Health Conference

The 2022 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Eye Health Conference (NATSIEHC22) will take place on Larrakia country in Darwin from 22-24 May 2022. Presented by Indigenous Eye Health (IEH), the NATSIEHC22 conference aims to advance the collective work of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander eye health sector towards the shared goal of improving eye health access and outcomes of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians.

Key note speakers at this conferences are: Jaki Adams, Thomas Mayor and Nicole Turner. Delegates will include representatives from ACCHOs and other primary care service providers, eye care clinicians, policy makers, researchers, non-government organisations, hospitals, professional peak bodies and government departments from across the country.

To find out more about the conference and key note speakers click here and/or register to attend here.

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Indigenous data sovereignty tool released

Indigenous data sovereignty tool released

The Lowitja Institute today launched the Indigenous Data Sovereignty Readiness Assessment and Evaluation Toolkit for researchers, governments, and communities, to strengthen community control use and protection of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander data and information.

Lowitja Institute CEO, Adjunct Professor Janine Mohamed, said the toolkit will play a critical role in efforts to close the gap in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health outcomes.

Dr Kalinda Griffiths of the Centre for Big Data Research in Health at UNSW who led development of the toolkit said “Data is power. There has always been a push for non-Indigenous people to decide what is done with data relating to Indigenous communities and peoples, and in how data is measured. But this needs to change.”

“Data governance plays a huge role, as well as data capacity building within the community. Once there is improved Indigenous data governance and ownership, we will likely see more timely and accurate data, which can be vital in circumstances like what we now face with COVID-19. These are complex problems and there’s no easy fix. But the needle is beginning to move,” Dr Griffiths said.

“We have a fundamental right to control our data, develop our data, use our data, maintain our data and protect our data if we are to close the gap in health outcomes for our peoples.’

To view the Lowitja Institute media release in full click here.

Image source: Research Professional News.

New national suicide prevention approach

$46.7 million has been allocated in the 2022-23 Budget to strengthen suicide prevention at the local level. For the first time, every region in Australia will have a local leader focused on suicide prevention, ensuring early intervention and suicide prevention activities are better coordinated and right for the local area. Suicide Prevention Response Leaders will work within their community to bring together service providers, local councils, emergency services, schools and community groups. They will also have funding to back local approaches and services to reduce suicide.

As part of the Plan, the Government is also investing more than $96 million into mental health and suicide prevention measures for Indigenous Australians whose suicide rate is more than double that of non-Indigenous Australians. This includes funding to establish regional suicide prevention networks in each jurisdiction, implement culturally sensitive, co-designed aftercare services with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations being the preferred service providers, and to create a culturally appropriate 24/7 crisis line that is governed and delivered by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

To view the media release in full click here.

Isolation not a privilege available to all

The Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Service (KAMS) says it is reaching its limit as it battles rising COVID-19 case numbers and overcrowded housing in remote communities across the region. The organisation has also accused the WA government of being “fixated” on vaccination rates while being unprepared to provide “basic primary health care needs” when people do become infected.

KAMS CEO Vicki O’Donnell says access to food, welfare, accommodation and mental health services have been raised as “constant concerns” over the past two years. Ms O’Donnell said KAMS had struggled “every day, every hour and every minute” to maintain services as case numbers grow. “The Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services have managed COVID-19, in our respective regions, and will continue to, but we are reaching our limit…and we are doing this at our own expense,” she said.

Ms O’Donnell said overcrowded accommodation was a “major concern and logistical issue” in providing safe and practical isolation accommodation in remote communities. “The ability to isolate is a privilege and for our people in this state, we need support to facilitate this,” she said.

To view the ABC News article in full click here.

Photo: Jacqui Lynch, ABC Kimberley. Image source: ABC News.

RACGP disappointment over 10 Year Plan 

The RACGP has issued a warning that measures announced in the Federal Budget do not address the realities of the COVID-19 pandemic and future challenges of a fatigued health system. Of chief concern to the college is a failure to implement major components of the Primary Health Care 10 Year Plan, much of which remains unfunded.

Responding to the Budget, RACGP President Dr Karen Price said “Reform without proper investment is not worth the paper it’s written on.” The lack of focus on funding and implementing the 10-year plan will result in continuing gaps in aged care, mental health, disability, and chronic and complex care.

“There is also a disappointing lack of new investment in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander healthcare,” Dr Price said. “If we are serious about Closing the Gap, then surely giving greater assistance to general practices, Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services and other health services to improve health outcomes must be a priority.”

To view the newsGP article in full click here.

Eating disorders funding welcomed

More than one million Australians are living with an eating disorder, which has one of the highest mortality rates of any mental illness. And yet less than a quarter of those receive treatment or support.

Anyone can experience an eating disorder, with research showing that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people experience eating disorders and body image issues at similar rates to other people in Australia. Discrimination or exposure to traumatic life situations can increase a person’s risk for this illness. Research is needed to understand any cultural or other differences in the types of eating disorders that might be experienced and to develop a culturally-specific diagnostic tool that will help recognise when an eating disorder or body image issue might be a factor for someone.

Butterfly CEO, Kevin Barrow, said the Budget announcement of $23.4 million for  would help to support those with an eating disorder or body image issues, providing better access to critical treatment services, and investing in preventing eating disorders from developing.

To view the Butterfly media release click here, access the Butterfly Foundation website here including their webpage Culturally safe support drastically needed for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people experiencing eating disorders with Garra’s Story below.

Remote mob’s vitamin D deficiency risk

A new Curtin University study has found 95% per cent of Australians have low vitamin D intakes. Lead researcher dietitian and PhD student Eleanor Dunlop, from the Curtin School of Population Health, said the study suggests that Australians need data-driven nutrition policy to safely increase their intakes of vitamin D.

“Vitamin D deficiency increases the risk of poor bone health. Since nearly one in four adults are vitamin D deficient in Australia, carefully considered food-based strategies may safely increase intakes of vitamin D and improve vitamin D status in the Australian population.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in remote areas are particularly at risk of vitamin D deficiency, as well as people born outside of Australia or the main English-speaking countries. People residing in southern states of Australia, and people who are obese or have low physical activity levels, are also at greater risk of vitamin D deficiency.

To view the Curtin University article in full click here.

Image source: Irish Cancer Society website.

Healthy Feet Project

Diabetes and diabetes related foot disease are disproportionately prevalent in the Aboriginal population. In NSW, Aboriginal people experience almost a four-fold amputation rate due to diabetes-related foot disease when compared to non-Aboriginal people. A 2016 literature review recommended an increase in the NSW Aboriginal workforce in foot care and podiatry to provide culturally safe and community focused care for Aboriginal people with diabetes related foot disease.

The NSW Ministry of Health, along with partners, developed the Healthy Deadly Feet (HDF) Project. In line with improving access to High Risk Foot Services in NSW this project aims to increase the Aboriginal workforce in foot care and podiatry and improve diabetes related foot disease outcomes for Aboriginal people in NSW.

The project team will work with podiatrists, Aboriginal Health Workers and Practitioners and Aboriginal/non-Aboriginal allied health assistants in participating local health districts and special health networks in NSW. By increasing the health workforce in NSW, the project aims to see improved access and awareness of culturally safe foot care services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people leading to an increase in screening and early interventions in NSW.

For further information about the HFP click here.

Cover of NSW Government HDF publication. Artist: Wiradjuri woman Trudy Sloane.

New process for job advertising

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Looking beyond the CTG statistics

Image in feature tile from Australian National Audit Office website.

Looking beyond the CTG statistics

Following the release of the 13th annual Close the Gap report, Pro Bono Australia spoke to the CEO of the Lowitja Institute, Adjunct Professor Janine Mohamed, about the need for governments to embrace genuine partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to close the gap in health outcomes.

Produced by the Lowitja Institute, this year’s Close the Gap report centres on the work of community-led organisations and services providing health care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in Australia. Among its key recommendations are calls for action on gender and climate justice, a national housing framework, and full implementation of the Uluru Statement from the Heart. Adjunct Professor Mohamed, said that the report showed that community-led work on closing the gap on health outcomes was already happening, but now it needed to be “truly” supported.

“The report is a beautiful and powerful call to action, showcasing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander-led brilliance at work, in all sorts of settings, paving the way ahead as we have done as peoples over millennia,” Mohamed said. “Now it’s time for governments and mainstream services to step up, and step back, if we are to truly close the gap in health outcomes for our peoples.”

You can read the Pro Bono Australia article in full here.

Image source: Pro Bono Australia website.

2022 National Immunisation Program

Secretary of the Australian Government Department of Health, Dr Brendan Murphy has provided a 2022 National Immunisation Program influenza program update, with important information about influenza vaccines available under the National Immunisation Program (NIP) for the 2022 Influenza season.

Dr Murphy says that the influenza vaccination is particularly important this year. Over the COVID-19 period/reduced circulation of influenza virus and lower levels of influenza vaccine coverage compared with previous years may have resulted in low levels of community immunity. With international borders reopening a resurgence of influenza is expected in 2022, with the Australian community potentially more vulnerable to the virus this year.

You can view Dr Brendan Murphy’s letter in full here.

ATAGI advice on COVID-19 vax winter dose

The Australian Government Operation COVID Shield 25 March 2022 Primary Care Vaccine Roll-out Provider Bulletin includes the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) advice on the winter dose of the DOVDI-19 vaccine. The ATAGI recommends an additional dose of COVID-19 vaccine for winter for selected population groups who are at greatest risk of severe illness from COVID-19 and who have received their primary vaccination and first booster dose. These groups include:

  • Adults aged 65 years and older
  • Residents of aged care or disability care facilities
  • People aged 16 years and older with severe immunocompromise (as defined in the 11th February 2022 ATAGI statement on the use of a 3rd primary dose of COVID-19 vaccine in individuals who are severely immunocompromised)
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 50 years and older

ATAGI recommends the rollout of the winter dose for the above groups commence from April 2022 and coinciding with the rollout of the 2022 influenza vaccination program.

You can access the 25 March 2022 Primary Care Vaccine Roll-out Provider Bulletin here; recommendations for key population groups for an additional COVID-19 vaccine winter dose from April 2022 here; and the ATAGI Recommended Dose and Vaccines poster here.

syringe entering arm

Photo: Albert Perez, AAP. Image source: ABC News website.

Health workforce: not normal, not safe

Dr Clare Skinner, President of the Australasian College for Emergency Medicine has written an article Health workforce: Not normal, not safe, but it can be fixed for the Medical Journal of Australia’s online publication, InSight. Dr Skinner writes: There is a Māori proverb in Aotearoa New Zealand that says, “He aha te mea nui o te ao? He tangata, he tangata he tangata.” It translates as, “What is the most important thing? It is people, it is people, it is people.”

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, health care workers across Australia have said, repeatedly, the biggest problem is not the supply of ventilators, or intensive care beds, or personal protective equipment, the problem is people, specifically the supply of skilled workforce. We don’t have enough staff, we don’t have enough staff in the right places, and we don’t have enough staff with expertise in the right areas.

The clinical workforce is unevenly distributed. Health professionals, especially doctors, are highly concentrated in major cities. Health outcomes in rural and remote areas lag behind outcomes in metropolitian areas. There is an urgent need to develop workforce models that improve health care access and equity, especially for Indigenous Australians living in remote communities.

Australia must also train an adequate health workforce to meet its own needs, and the needs of the region, as well as allowing for some international movement of trained clinicians with well designed and responsive re-credentialling processes. In particular, we need urgent and sustained attention to training and supporting Indigenous health professionals.

To view the InSight article in full click here.

Dr Clare Skinner with stethoscope around neck in front of ER sign

Dr Clare Skinner, President Australasian College for Emergency Medicine. Image source: Daily Telegraph.

Diabetes across the Lifecourse

The Menzies School of Health Research has developed a range of health professional resources to improve systems of care and services for people with diabetes and their families in rural and remote Australia, specifically the NT, Far North Queensland and the Kimberley, WA.

You can access the resources here, including Dhalaleena’s Story – Talking about Diabetes video here. This video features Dhalaleena, an Aboriginal Health Practitioner with the Top End Regional Health Services, talking about her journey with diabetes. In the video Dhalaleena discusses the following topics 1) diabetes and glucose 2) the role the pancreas plays in diabetes 3) the importance of maintaining a healthy diet, and 4) the importance of exercise in managing diabetes.

Cognitive function in those with diabetes

Type 2 Diabetes (T2DM) has a subtle deleterious effect on cognition and imposes a higher lifetime risk of cognitive impairment and dementia. A research article Using health check data to investigate cognitive function in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders living with diabetes in the Torres Strait, Australia published in Volume 5, Issue 1 of Endocrinology, Diabetes & Metabolism says the findings of their research suggest that early and subtle decrements in working memory may be a potential complication of diabetes among Indigenous Australians living in the Torres Strait. In this population, which has elevated dementia rates linked to chronic disease, our results highlight the need for more preventative health resourcing. The results of the research suggest that early identification of younger people with diabetes, targeted education and supported glycaemic control could be important for protecting cognitive health.

To view the article in full click here.

Image source: ICU Management & Practice website.

Using digital wellbeing tools webinar

Our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities have always adapted to new technologies and are finding creative ways to maintain their health and wellbeing in the digital world. There are a range of websites, apps, videos and other online resources that our health and community workforce can use with their Indigenous clients to help them stay physically and mentally well. A recorded one hour webinar available on demand will introduce you to a new social and emotional wellbeing website called WellMob. The WellMob website is a bank of over 200 Indigenous-specific digital resources to promote a healthy mind, body and culture.

The inspiration for the WellMob website came from our frontline workers who identified the need for a ‘one-stop-shop’ of culturally appropriate wellbeing resources. An all-star panel of Indigenous wellbeing workers will share some online wellbeing resources and yarn about how to use with your clients and community.

You can access further details about the webinar and enrol using this link.

Image source: The Australian & NZ Mental Health Association.

Trauma and pregnancy project research position

The Centre for Health Equity, Melbourne School of Population and Global Health has an exciting position to work with VACCA and La Trobe Regional Hospital in Morwell, supported by the Healing the Past By Nurturing the Future project team:

The Victorian Aboriginal Child Care Agency (VACCA), in partnership with Latrobe Regional Hospital, are looking for a new Community Researcher to work with them on a research project: Healing the Past by Nurturing the Future.  It is an Aboriginal-led project that aims to demonstrate how we can best provide support during pregnancy and after birth for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander parents who have experienced complex trauma. The Community Researcher will work to engage Aboriginal Community members and use their knowledge of Community, culture and Aboriginal ways of knowing and doing to advise the team.

This position is based at VACCA and Latrobe Regional Hospital, with support from University of Melbourne. This is a fixed term position for up to 4 years, open to full-time or part-time applicants. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are strongly encouraged to apply. If you would like more information or to apply, please refer to the Position Description here and/or contact Cath Chamberlain on 0428 921 271 or via email using this link.

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.

Puggy Hunter Memorial Scholarship Scheme

The Puggy Hunter Memorial Scholarship Scheme (PHMSS) encourages and assists entry-level Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health students to complete their studies and join the health workforce. The Australian Government established the Scheme as a tribute to one of Australia’s most outstanding Aboriginal leaders, the late Dr Arnold ‘Puggy’ Hunter. Puggy is known for his outstanding contribution to Indigenous Australians’ health and his role and Chair of NACCHO. He devoted the majority of his life to improving Aboriginal health outcomes.

From this year, the Scheme is extending the opportunity for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health professionals to participate in the PHMSS Mental Health Studies Mentoring Program as a mentor. The program pairs up PHMSS scholarship recipients (within the mental health discipline) with more experienced First Nations practitioners. The aim is to increase the amount of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mental health professionals and retain them. This will be done by supporting the students to complete their studies and transition them successfully into their practice as smoothly as possible.

For more information and to apply visit the Australian College of Nursing website here. No need to register, just click on the link on the day to join. Applications close Monday 11 April 2022.

There will also be an online information session at 1:00PM on Monday 4 April 2022 via Zoom here.

Working with the Nephrologist: Stages 4 & 5

Kidney Health Australia are hosting a health professional webinar from 7:30PM–8:30PM (AEST) Tuesday 12 April 2022. Nephrologist A/Prof Richard Baer will present a case study that addresses symptoms, management and treatment options in stages 4 and 5 of CKD. A suitable management plan to slow the progression of CKD will be discussed along with treatment options in kidney failure and when to refer to a nephrologist.

This is a RACGP accredited activity for 2 CPD points. Activity # 331983 (pending approval).

To register for this webinar, you will require a Zoom Account. If you have a Zoom account you can register here for the webinar.

If you do not have an existing Zoom account sign up here first sign up for Zoom here and then register for the webinar via the link above.

Upon successful registration you will receive a confirmation email from Zoom.

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: AIDA decry racism in health care system

feature tile text 'Australian Indigenous Doctors' Association decry racism in health care' & vector art of Aboriginal man & woman tending gravesite

Image in feature tile by Nick Wiggins, Four Corners. Image source: ABC website.

AIDA decry racism in health care system

The Australian Indigenous Doctors’ Association (AIDA) has responded to the ‘Betty’s Story’ report which outlines how the treatment of Ms Yvette “Betty” Booth by health officials at Doomadgee Hospital’s emergency department led to her untimely death at the age of 18 from rheumatic heart disease (RHD). “This report reveals that Ms Booth’s treatment was woefully inadequate,” Dr Tanya Schramm, President of AIDA said.

“Moreover, it is proof of the lethal consequences of racism in the health care system. We are seeing yet another community in mourning because of a death that was entirely avoidable. We must eliminate racism to stop the needless deaths of our people,” Dr Schramm said.

AIDA is advocating for better training in recognition of RHD and better systems to track patients with the condition as well as comprehensive cultural safety training across all agencies within the health system. Cultural safety training encourages practitioners, nurses and administrative staff to examine their unconscious biases, including racism, and build in strategies ensuring the highest level of health care is provided to every patient.

According to RHD Australia, more than 5,000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are currently living with RHD or acute rheumatic fever (ARF), and while some non-Indigenous Australians are susceptible to the disease, it is one that predominantly plagues Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. “RHD in 2022 is a national shame, it is a disease of poverty and overcrowding,” Dr Schramm said.

To view AIDA media release in full click here.

red 3D heart on trace of heartbeat

Image source: AJP

How alcohol companies target youth

The Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education (FARE) is partnering with The University of Queensland (UQ) for a three-year study to better understand how young people are targeted by alcohol companies via social media.

This research comes as investigations by Reset Australia found that Facebook tags children as interested in alcohol, approves alcohol advertisements targeted to children, and continues to harvest children’s data to target them with advertising. On average, advertising technology companies collect more than 72 million data points on a child before they reach the age of 13.

UQ, Lead Chief Investigator, Associate Professor Nicholas Carah said “Digital marketing by alcohol companies is rapidly growing, particularly across social media platforms. A lot of this marketing is targeted at people based on their personal data, and we know young people are being exposed to alcohol advertising.”

“Much of this is occurring out of sight, only being seen by those directly targeted and through content that is short-lived, making it extremely difficult to monitor harmful ads and predatory targeting. By revealing what’s behind the curtain and showing the hidden tactics used by alcohol marketers, we hope these insights provide the urgently needed evidence-base for understanding and effectively governing alcohol marketing in the digital age.”

To view FARE’s media release in full click here

hands using iPhone

Photo: PA Archive/PA Images. Image source: Wales Online.

Address racism to improve kidney care 

Today on World Kidney Day – Thursday 10 March 2022, governments and health services are being urged to act on the ways that racism and cultural bias create disparities in kidney care and transplantation between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and non-Indigenous Australians.

Lowitja Institute and the University of Adelaide today released the Cultural Bias and Indigenous Kidney Care and Kidney Transplantation Report, prepared for the National Indigenous Kidney Transplantation Taskforce (NIKTT). The report details ways to improve kidney transplantation rates and care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples through addressing key barriers that lead to culturally biased care.

This report centres the voices of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with lived experience of kidney disease, using their knowledge and understandings to guide the recommendations put forward.

“We know that institutional racism and systemic bias are barriers to kidney transplantation and affect Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples across the health system,” said Kelli Owen, a proud Kaurna, Narungga, and Ngarrindjeri woman, kidney transplant recipient, and kidney health researcher. “We have the answers to help keep our mob healthy and provide culturally safe kidney care. We just need them to be applied,” Ms Owen said.

To view the media release, which includes a link to the report, click here.

arm of Aboriginal person contacted to dialysis machine

Dialysis involves spending up to five hours hooked up to a machine that artificially cleans a patient’s blood. Photo: Tom Joyner, ABC Goldfields. Image source: ABC News.

Gender equity in pharmacy

In an article ‘Achieving gender equity in the pharmacy profession‘ published in the Australian Pharmacist this week two pharmacists discuss their careers and the biases that must be broken to ensure women can succeed. One of the pharmacists Kate Gill MPS is a consultant pharmacist in Cairns who has been in the profession for 20 years.

“About 12 years ago, I became an accredited pharmacist and branched out into Indigenous healthcare, which included working on the Integrating pharmacists into Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services (IPAC) project at Wuchopperen.

Being part of the wider team to ensure patients received the best health outcomes was a career highlight. We had one patient who used a walker and had issues with housing. Instead of referring him to a wellbeing worker, psychologist or social worker in a report, I visited them individually. We set up a case study for the patient, which helped him acquire accommodation and a new walker.

Although Wuchopperen didn’t have the funding to keep me on post-IPAC, we remained in contact and now I provide home medicine reviews (HMRs) for them.”

To view the article in full click here.

Kate Gill MPS

Kate Gill MPS. Image source: Australian Pharmarcist.

Opthalmic organisations list 2022 priorities

Key ophthalmic organisations have revealed their federal election wish lists, drawing attention to issues such as workforce maldistribution and access for rural and remote communities.

The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Ophthalmologists (RANZCO) say that funding is required for an adequate number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health workers/liaison officers, to coordinate and facilitate services. Institutionalisation of Indigenous community control into funding schemes and service delivery models is also needed to ensure ACCHOs are part of the decision-making process. It also reiterated the need for funding of scholarships and enrolment in specialist training programs to grow the Indigenous workforce and leadership development.

To view the Ophthalmic sector lays out priorities ahead of 2022 federal election Insight article in full click here.

Aboriginal child having eye text

Image source: University of Melbourne.

Project supports LGBTQIA+ mob

Walkern Katatdjin (Rainbow Knowledge) is a peer-led national research project, seeking to hear from the experiences of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander LGBTQIA+ people with mental health, wellbeing and support. The groundbreaking project will focus on the lives of young people, using interviews and yarning groups and a national survey to lead into co-design with LGBTQIA+ young people and services.

The research will also help provide essential information on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander lives not readily available to lawmakers and service providers seeking to develop meaningful inclusion in mental health service provision.

Research team member Shakara Liddelow-Hunt said “What we’re really looking to do is understand the mental health and social and emotional wellbeing for young Aboriginal LGBTQ+ mob. We started by yarning with young mob here in Perth and we’re now looking to launch a national survey.”

To view the Out in Perth article in full click here.

cartoon drawing of two ATSI adults holding both hands between them

Image source: Out In Perth.

First Nations burden of disease data

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (2022) Australian Burden of Disease Study 2018: Interactive data on disease burden among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, AIHW, Australian Government report has just been released.

Burden of disease is a measure of the years of healthy life lost from living with, or dying from disease and injury. The report describes the impact of 219 diseases and injuries among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in terms of living with illness (non-fatal burden) and premature death (fatal burden). It finds that: the burden rate fell by 15% between 2003 and 2018, driven by a substantial drop in fatal burden injuries and chronic diseases (such as mental & substance use disorders, cardiovascular diseases, cancers and musculoskeletal conditions) caused most of the burden in 2018.

For further information about the report click here.

adult ATSI hand touching yellow red black bead bracelet of Aboriginal child

Image source: SCIMEX.

New process for job advertising

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: NACCHO Medical Advisor on WA COVID-19

feature tile text 'NACCHO Medical Advisor Dr Jason Agostino concerned for remote communities as WA drops hard border' & portrait photo of Jason against Aboriginal dot art

Image in feature tile: NACCHO Medical Advisor Dr Jason Agostino. Image source: ANU Medical School.

NACCHO Medical Advisor on WA COVID-19

As WA drops its hard border at midnight tonight, many are concerned about the toll the virus might take in remote communities. On ABC RN Breakfast this morning Gerard Coffey, CEO of Ngaanyatjarra Health Service Aboriginal Corporation, WA and Dr Jason Agostino, NACCHO Medical Advisor spoke to reporter Jade Clarke about their concerns, including overcrowded housing and insecure power supply in areas where temperatures are as high as 50 degrees.

You can listen to the RN Breakfast with Patricia Karvevlas segment in full here.

6 Aboriginal people sitting outside house in disrepair

Photo: Getty Images/AFP/G. Wood. Image source: DW Made for Minds. website.

Good News Story Winners

NACCHO is pleased to announce the winners of our inaugural Good News Story competition:

  • Peter McCullagh, Marketing & Communications Officer, Gurriny Yealamucka Health Services Aboriginal Corporation (GYHSAC), Yarrabah, Queensland who submitted two stories, the first about how the Yarrabah community reached the important 90% first vaccination level and the second about how GYHSAC CEO Suzanne Andrews spoke out to counter anti-vax misinformation.
  • Kim Moffitt from Albury Wodonga Aboriginal Health Service for her entry about her nine-week placement in Tennant Creek working as an Aboriginal Health Practitioner / Nurse Immuniser as part of the government’s “Vaccination Acceleration Campaign” targeting remote communities.

Both winners will receive $200 to put towards a meal to share with their colleagues.

Jilara Murgha, Dr Matt Durden and Heather Robertson from Gurriny Yealamucka HSAC and Kim Moffitt from Albury Wodonga AHS

Jilara Murgha, Dr Matt Durden and Heather Robertson from Gurriny Yealamucka HSAC and Kim Moffitt from Albury Wodonga AHS.

COVID-19 decimates women’s health

The CEOs of Victoria’s 12 women’s health services has issued an urgent plea for immediate government investment to curtail the unfolding crisis of women’s declining health in the state. It comes with the release of data that shows the impact of COVID-19 on the physical and mental health and wellbeing of women in Victoria, and how current funding levels are inadequate for improving outcomes.

The group is calling for women’s health services funding to be increased from $2.05 per women per year, to $5.75 per woman. At an online event branded with the hashtag #sickofsmallchange, Women’s Health Services Council Chair Tricia Currie pointed out that the funding being asked for to improve women’s health in the state equates to less than cost of two cups of coffee, per woman. The group is calling for investments to improve health outcomes for women with disabilities, Indigenous women, LGBTQI+ women, trans and gender diverse people, as well as migrant and refugee women, and those living in rural and regional areas in Victoria.

“Before the pandemic, women’s health was under significant strain,” Currie said at the event. “It is now much worse. Spare change funding is making women sicker.” Kit McMahon, CEO of Women’s Health in the South East, said the data clearly indicates that women are being let down by a lack of funding. “The data is clear and the evidence is there. From a local perspective, the pandemic has not only revealed inequity in health, it has exacerbated it and we’ve seen an increase in inequity,” McMahon said.

To view the Women’s Agenda article in full click here.

VAHS site director Susan Hedges uses a cultural shawl at a screening with BreastScreen Victoria radiographer Monique Warrillow

VAHS site director Susan Hedges uses a cultural shawl at a screening with BreastScreen Victoria radiographer Monique Warrillow. Image source: BreastScreen Victoria.

First COVID-19 antiviral on PBS

Thousands of vulnerable Australians, who are at risk of developing severe COVID-19, are now eligible to access an oral antiviral treatment through the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS). Listed as of  Tuesday 1 March, GPs can now prescribe molnupiravir (sold as Lagevrio).

Associate Professor Paul Griffin, an infectious disease physician and microbiologist at Mater Health in Brisbane, said the listing of the oral antiviral is ‘great news’, and likely to play an ‘important role’ in treating at-risk patients who contract the virus. ‘Access to an oral treatment through the PBS will allow many at-risk people to be treated at home, which is a win-win-win for these patients, the community and our hospital system,’ he said.

According to the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee (PBAC), molnupiravir is recommended for the treatment of patients with mild-to-moderate COVID-19 who are at risk of developing severe disease requiring hospitalisation, not requiring supplemental oxygen for their COVID-19 and where treatment is commenced within 5 days of the onset of symptoms and meet one of the following criteria:

  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 50 years or older with two additional high-risk factors for developing severe disease
  • People 65 years or older with two additional high-risk factors for developing severe disease,
  • People 75 years or older with one additional high-risk factor for developing severe disease,
  • Moderately to severely immunocompromised people irrespective of vaccination status

To view the newsGP article in full click here.

hand holding box of oral use Lagevrio COVID-19 antiviral tablets

Clinical trial data found participants treated with molnupiravir had a reduced risk of hospitalisation, down from 14.1% to 7.3%. Photo: AAP. Image source: newsGP website.

VIC Aboriginal health experts meet

Representatives from VACCHO met last week on Wadawurrung Country to share learnings and experiences of the past two years and lay the foundations for the health and wellbeing of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait community in Victoria for 2022. The Members’ Meeting meeting was also an opportunity to recognise the leadership, dedication, and hard work of VACCHO’s 32 member organisations throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

VACCHO CEO Jill Gallagher said “This important gathering provides us with an opportunity to connect and pay tribute to our members. This pandemic has had so many twists and turns. Every day it seems like something changes. But despite all the challenges – all the ups and downs – the ability of each of the members to quickly adjust and adapt to look after Community has been incredible.” She said the Members’ Meeting was an important chance to reflect on the past year’s achievements and challenges, and to think about where the organisation wanted to be in the next 25 years.

Victorian Aboriginal Health Service CEO Michael Graham said ACCHOs were unique “in that we are one big family. As a workforce, we should all be proud of our collective efforts in providing personalised, culturally-safe care for our communities across Victoria.”

To view the Geelong Times article in full click here.

Victorian Minister for Health Martin Foley speaks at the VACCHO meeting at RACV Torquay Resort

Victorian Minister for Health Martin Foley speaks at the VACCHO meeting at RACV Torquay Resort. Photo: Dr Cath Chamberlain, Twitter. Image source: Geelong Times.

Kinchela Boys Home to be truth-telling site

Kinchela Boys Home (KBH) site in Kempsey has been announced at the 2022 World Monuments Watch as one of 25 heritage sites of worldwide significance whose preservation is urgent and vital to the communities surrounding them. Among Australia’s most notorious Stolen Generations institutions, KBH saw an estimated 400 to 600 Aboriginal children exposed to routine acts of cultural genocide between 1924 to 1970.

Survivors from KBH are among thousands of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children forcibly taken from their families and communities as part of official government and church programs to assimilate First Nations children into non-Indigenous society. The announcement by the World Monuments Fund (WMF) acknowledges the pain and suffering of KBH survivors and their families, while highlighting the need for greater action to support heritage places and the people who care for them.

The children who passed through the gates of KBH were stripped of their names, given numbers, and subjected to ‘reprogramming’ and strict regimes of manual labor. Physical hardship, punishment, alienation, and abuse were part of everyday life until the campus was shut down in 1970.

To view the media release in full click here.

Aboriginal Elders with part of the gate from the Kinchela Boys Home

In 2012, Aboriginal Elders with part of the gate from the Kinchela Boys Home that was sent to the National Museum. Image source: The Macleay Argus.

Schools alone can’t break disadvantage cycle

Poverty and disadvantage put young Australians on the road to a less fulfilling life and schools could play a critical role in breaking the cycle, a new study led by Flinders University says. “The risk factors for social exclusion at school are worse for young adolescents who live in low income households or who experience poverty,” says Flinders University sociologist Professor Gerry Redmond.  “Adolescents who live with a disability, care for a family member, speak a language other than English at home, or identify as Indigenous are all more likely than other adolescents to be living in poverty.  “Feedback from marginalised young people in the study shows how the experience of disadvantage and exclusion affects their life satisfaction, which is a predictive indicator of wellbeing and mental health in adulthood,” he says.

With prospects for Australian children living in low income households relatively unchanged this century, the study aims to ignite the post-pandemic debate calling for sweeping reform and stronger economic, social, cultural and political policymaking to focus on a better future for all young people.

Children living in rural and remote communities, have difficulty with learning or live in out-of-home care also face similar prospects for marginalisation at school. Diana Harris, acting CEO of the Australian Research Alliance for Children and Youth (ARACY), says the study highlights the “systemic forces in play” which continue to lead to the marginalisation of low income, children managing disabilities or chronic disease, and those from an Aboriginal or culturally diverse background.

To view the Flinders University media release in full click here.

2 young girls being helped with puzzles by two female teachers

Image source: Indigenous Inequality blog.

Primary Care COVID-19 update time change

There is a change in the time for the latest in the series of COVID-19 vaccine updates for Primary Care, providing the latest information on the vaccine rollout. It will now be held from 12:30–1:00 PM (AEDT) Thursday 3 March 2022, an hour later than previously advised.

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

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

tile: Primary Care COVID-19 update' blue background, vector of virus cell

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.

Kidney Health Professional Webinar

Kidney Health Australia are hosting a health professional webinar on Wednesday 9 March 2022 to celebrate 2022 Kidney Health Week.

The webinar will include an engaging panel discussion with our Clinical Advisory Committee facilitated by Nephrologist, Professor Karen Dwyer

This is a RACGP accredited activity for 2 CPD points. Activity # 325983 (pending approval).

If you have a Zoom account you can register here. If you do not have a Zoom account you can sign up for one here and then register for the webinar via this link.

Upon successful registration you will receive a confirmation email.


NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Cultural birthing practices needed

feature tile text 'putting culture at the centre of health and wellness results in better outcomes' & image of baby in a coolamon wrapped in red cloth & fur

Cultural birthing practices needed

Indigenous women are disadvantaged when it comes to culturally safe maternity care and often experience racism when accessing mainstream services, which causes distrust and disengagement. The lack of a midwifery-led continuity of care (CoC) model has had a profoundly negative impact on the outcomes of mothers and babies, many of which can be prevented. Indigenous neonates are twice as likely to die within the first year of life than non-Indigenous babies due to premature birth and low birth weight. According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, Indigenous mothers are three times more likely to die in childbirth, at a rate of 17.5 in 100,000 births, compared with non-Indigenous women at 5.5 in 100,000.

Nationally, Indigenous midwifery is in crisis, with less than 300 practising midwives. The Congress of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Nurses and Midwives is working with national bodies and government to highlight the urgency and work towards increasing the number of Indigenous nurses and midwives across the country. A 2014 study found that Indigenous women felt more comfortable and were more likely to access maternity care when they were being cared for by an Indigenous midwife because they felt a deeper connection and understanding linked to our shared intergenerational trauma from invasion.

Indigenous women have described their personal experiences across most mainstream services as “racist, judgemental and not safe”. If women are feeling this way about mainstream services, then this is a systemic problem, not an Indigenous problem. If systems are not safe or approachable we cannot continue to blame women for not accessing crucial maternity care or for their outcomes. Racism within mainstream services exists and it’s partly why our women refuse to access these services.

To view the Guardian article in full click here.

Aboriginal mother holding baby, standing outside house

Photo: Dan Peled, APP. Image source: The Guardian.

Dialysis 1,000s kms from home

Three years ago Richard Kanari left his job in the NT and moved to WA to be close to his family and community while he looked after his ailing wife, Kathryn Jackson. Mr Kanari made the decision to move with the confidence that Ms Jackson could be treated at one of the kidney clinics close to home. But for the past year, dialysis unit closures in remote communities have left Ms Jackson and many others with no option but to relocate thousands of kilometres away from home for treatment. “There’s a lot [of people] here [Kalgoorlie] from the community,” Mr Jackson said. “The family wants to stay close.”

Dialysis units across several remote communities including Warburton and Wanarn have been closed due to staff issues, a direct result of harsh remote life and border restrictions put in place by the WA government. This has forced patients to relocate to various centres across the state, with many transferred to either Perth or Kalgoorlie.

Patients transferred to clinics in other states, such as Docker River in the NT, have been left in indefinite isolation because of WA’s hard border policy, with many not being able to see family for months. Luckily for Mr Kanari, he and his family have been able to visit Ms Jackson despite long, 14-hour trips back and forth between the land and Kalgoorlie.

To read the ABC News article in full click here.

external image of Kalgoorlie Health Campus, emergency & arrow

Kalgoorlie Health Campus. Image source: ABC News.

Struggling with COVID in overcrowded homes

The community of Yarrabah in Queensland’s far north has a population of 3,500. There’s just under 400 homes in the community, and they’re bursting at the seams. On average 10 people live in a three bedroom home. At Emma Costello’s home there’s nine adults and four children. When her son, Jeremiah, tested positive for COVID-19 a few weeks ago Ms Costello feared the worst for her family. “We all got a shock and were all scared a bit for our own health,” she said.

Overcrowding in Yarrabah is something that has long concerned the local health service, Gurriny Yealamucka, and as COVID-19 cases began to appear in early January, those concerns were amplified. The virus has ripped through 300 households, infecting more than 700 people since January. Gurriny Yealamucka senior medical officer Dr Jason King said there was a lot of work being done on the ground in the lead up to the Queensland border reopening to prepare for a potential outbreak. One of the major preparations undertaken in Yarrabah was boosting vaccination rates. In August just 20% of residents were vaccinated so Gurriny Yealamucka staff decided to go door to door with the jab. They managed to raise the vaccination rate to 70% by the time the virus entered Yarrabah in January. It’s now sitting at 83.7%.

“Families are doing their best isolating, which is hugely challenging for houses with 3 bedrooms with 10 people living in them,” Dr King said. “But to the credit of the community they’ve really come along with that message and are doing a fantastic job of looking out for each other and coming to us when they need help.”

To view the SBS NITV news article in full click here.

view of street in Yarrabah

The community of Yarrabah in far north Queensland has recorded more than 700 cases of COVID since January. Image source: NITV The Point.

NASH PKI certificates expire March

Healthcare organisations have until 13 March 2022 to renew and install their new NASH certificate for continued access to digital health services like electronic prescribing and My Health Record.

Healthcare organisations can check if their NASH Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) certificate needs to be renewed via Health Professionals Online Services (HPOS).The Australian Digital Health Agency has developed resources to support healthcare organisations during the renewal process, including:

You can also visit the Australian Digital Health Agency website here for additional information and resources.

vector image computer keyboard, wooden surface, computer screen with lock surrounded by a circle & time running out

Image source: AMA website.

Nurse Generalist Framework consultation

Public consultation on the National Rural and Remote Nurse Generalist Framework (the Framework) is now open. The intent of the Framework is to describe the unique context of practice and core capabilities for remote area nursing practice, and rural nursing practice.  The Framework is designed as a tool and guide and will benefit Registered Nurses in rural and remote practice settings, their employers, education providers, health administrators and nursing and midwifery colleagues working in health care in general.

The development of this Framework has been led by the Office of the National Rural Health Commissioner and the Deputy National Rural Health Commissioner, Adj. Prof. Shelley Nowlan, together with an expert Steering Committee.

For further information about the Framework and how to provide input click here.

nurse Joella Ashwin, Ngangganawili AHS, Wiluna, WA

Joella Ashwin, Ngangganawili Aboriginal Health Service, Wiluna, WA. Image source: The Citizen.

Helping older hospital patients return home

WA Health Minister Amber-Jade Sanderson said the first of five partnerships with Aboriginal Medical Services (AMSs) to deliver care for older Aboriginals leaving hospital care has begun in Bunbury. The Transitional Care Program (TCP), jointly funded by the Federal and State Governments, is a long-standing program which provides care to older people for up to 12 weeks after their hospital discharge, including social work, nursing support, personal care and allied health care. It ensures that people who no longer require hospital care have the necessary supports in place to safely return to the community and ensure hospital beds are available to patients with acute care needs.

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

3 Aboriginal women Elders sitting in green plastic chairs outside, Kapululangu

Elders at Kapululangu, Balgo, WA. Image source: Zohl de Ishtar Blog.

Torres News February 2002 edition

Torres News have issued the February 2022 edition of their newsletter. The lead story Teamwork ensures food security ok – for now looks at how Community Enterprise Queensland (CEQ) have managed to keep 4-6 week’s worth of stock in most of their Torres Strait Island stores despite staff shortages, the wet season and king tide delivery issues as well as COVID. You can view the twelve page newsletter on-line here.

inside of Community Enterprise Qld Store Thursday Island

CEQ Store – IBIS Main Store. Image source: CEQ 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: Letter to Chief Minister about COVID spread

feature tile text 'Aboriginal orgs write open letter to NT Chief Min re escalating covid-19 outbreak' & image of health professional in PPE administering vax to Aboriginal man

Note: image in feature tile from The Guardian – photo: Katherine Morrow.

Letter to Chief Minister about COVID spread

The Central Australian Aboriginal Congress (CAAC), AMSANT, the Central Land Council and the CEO of Lhere Artepe Aboriginal Corporation have written an open letter to the NT Chief Minister saying “as Aboriginal organisations representing our communities across the NT, we are writing to you about the rapidly escalating COVID-19 outbreak in Central Australia. We have been advocating continuously for firm action to slow the outbreak since it began in the early days of 2022.”

“However, our requests have been ignored, or action taken too late or on too small a scale to make a real difference. There has been a significant failure by government agencies in Central Australia to put into practice the plans agreed with your government before the outbreak. This has directly led to COVID spreading out of control in the Aboriginal communities of Central Australia and beyond.”

To read the media statement in full click here.

Aboriginal people with masks sitting along long bench

Image source: 7 News website.

9 out of 10 NT COVID patients Aboriginal

Nine out of 10 of the patients with COVID-19 in NT hospitals are Aboriginal people, a rate which health experts say is “concerning” but, unfortunately, not surprising. The NT reopened its borders last month and, since then, coronavirus has spread into every region in the territory.

“We predicted this, predicted that the virus would spread like wildfire through our remote communities and this is exactly what we’re seeing now,” Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance (AMSANT) CEO John Paterson said. “This is a jurisdiction where we’ve got high numbers of the most vulnerable population in Australia.

“Aboriginal Territorians are the sickest in this country with all the chronic illnesses and it was just going to be doubly hard for them if they contracted COVID for them to recover. “It’s very alarming, very concerning, we’re disappointed.”

To read the ABC News article in full click here.

portrait of Kalinda Griffiths, an UNSW epidemiologist and Yawuru woman

Kalinda Griffiths, an UNSW epidemiologist and Yawuru woman, said experts had long warned that Aboriginal people were more at risk of severe COVID-19 disease. Image source: ABC News.

CoronaCheck fights misinformation

CoronaCheck is RMIT ABC Fact Check’s weekly email newsletter dedicated to fighting the misinformation infodemic surrounding the coronavirus outbreak.

You can read an extract from latest edition below, and subscribe to have the next newsletter delivered straight to your inbox.

Welcome to the first edition of CoronaCheck for 2022. As the world enters the third year of the pandemic, we remain committed to helping our readers separate fact from fiction.

This week, we take a look at some of the most pervasive incorrect claims being spread over the summer — from the fake death of a child supposedly following a COVID-19 vaccination to the continued misrepresentation of coronavirus hospitalisation and death statistics.

To view the ABC News item in full click here.

vector image covid-19 cell with text 'Corona Check' red, black, beige colours

Whole-of-organisation approach gets results

New research from the University of WA (UWA) has highlighted the importance of a whole-of-organisation approach in improving health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cancer patients.

Putting Policy into Practice: How Three Cancer Services Perform against Indigenous Health and Cancer Frameworks is the first study to compare the performance of tertiary cancer services against two national Australian best practice guidelines.

Lead author, researcher Emma Taylor from UWA’s WA Centre for Rural Health, said with cancer one of the leading causes of death for Indigenous Australians, it’s time to focus attention on how cancer services are best delivered to this section of the population.

“The National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Cancer Framework and the National Safety and Quality Health Service (NSQHS) User Guide for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health are key national policy documents that aim to reduce health disparities,” Ms Taylor said.

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

WA Centre for Rural Health researcher Emma Taylor

Researcher Emma Taylor from the WA Centre for Rural Health. Image source: University of WA website.

Tracking BBV and STI strategy progress

The Kirby Institute for infection and immunity in society’s reportTracking the progress 2019: National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander BBV and STI strategy provides an annual account of progress of the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Blood-borne Virus (BBV) and Sexually Transmissible Infection (STI) Strategy.

Australia’s National BBV and STI Strategies aim to improve testing, treatment and uptake of preventative measures for hepatitis B, hepatitis C, STIs and HIV, and to reduce the incidence, morbidity, mortality,  personal and social impacts they cause.

The report describes the targets, objectives and indicators of the strategy, and the level of progress being made in response.

To view the report click here.

Aboriginal dot art of communicable disease spread, over map of Australia

Image source: ATSIHAW HIV and Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander communities in 2017 booklet.

Planning for end of life

The GroundSwell Project has released a video Yarning our wishes: a film about planning for end of life which aims to provide health professionals and community organisations with key points and learnings, as well as other cultural considerations when working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in end-of-life care. 

The GroundSwell Project collaborated with partners, CuriousWorks, South Western Sydney Local Health District Palliative Care, and Aboriginal communities in South Western Sydney, NSW for conversations about what matters and what is missing when it comes to planning and caring for someone when they are dying.

The video below is accompanied by a guide, which also offers additional resources about end-of-life care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. You can access the guide and resources here.

Kidney health information for mob

Kidney Health Australia has a webpage which provides information about kidney health for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. It covers the following:

  • the role of the kidneys
  • ways to keep your kidneys healthy and reduce your risk of getting kidney disease
  • information on kidney health checks.

The page has links to further resources on these topics, including:

To view the Kidney Health Australia Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people website page click here.

Aboriginal painting re kidney health

Image source: Kidney Health Australia.

New process for job advertising

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

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

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.