NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Low awareness of FASD

Feature tile - Thu 9.9.21 - Low awareness of FASD.

Low awareness of FASD

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

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

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

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

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

Red Shoes Rock-banner, FASD.

 

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

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

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

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

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

You can read the article in The Conversation here.

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

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

 

Wilcannia targeted by ivermectin spruiker

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

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

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

You can read the story in the Guardian here.

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

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

 

More vaccines, but when can we make them here?

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

Listen to:

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

Produced by Madeleine Genner and Emily Bourke.

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

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

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

 

What challenges lies ahead in epidemiology?

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

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

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

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

You can read the article in Croakey Health Media here.

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

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

 

Access to COVID-19 digital certificate

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Are they really OK? Ask them today!

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

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

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

Read the media release by The Morrison Government here.

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

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

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

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

You can read the media release here.

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

 

New process for job advertising

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

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


dice spelling JOBS resting on keyboard

 

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

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

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

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

Click here for more information about nominations and applications.
Email submissions to Dr Shayne Bellingham: lime-network@unimelb.edu.au.

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

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

Chronic Kidney Disease, Diabetes & Cardiovascular Disease

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

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

Chronic Kidney Disease, Diabetes & Cardiovascular Disease webinar.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Children aged 12–15 to get Pfizer vaccine

Feature tile - Tue.3.8.21 - Children aged 12–15 to get Pfizer vaccine

Children aged 12–15 to get Pfizer vaccine

In a statement from the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI), it is now recommended that the following groups of children among those aged 12–15 years be prioritised for vaccination using the Pfizer vaccine:

  • children with specified medical conditions that increase their risk of severe COVID-19
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children aged 12–15 years
  • all children aged 12–15 years in remote communities, as part of broader community outreach vaccination programs that provide vaccines for all ages (≥12 years).

ATAGI will make recommendations to Government for use in all other children in the 12–15 years age group within the coming months, following review of emerging information.

You can read more about this statement on the Australian Government Department of Health website here.

Teenage Aboriginal girl with mask being administered vaccination by health professional.

Teenage Aboriginal girl with mask being administered vaccination by health professional. Feature tile image credit: SNAICC.

 

Nursing shortage due to border restrictions

At least 18 remote communities across the NT are experiencing a shortage of nursing services due to COVID-19 international and interstate border restrictions.

The “movement” of nurses into remote areas has “been limited over time”, according to John Wakerman from the Menzies School of Health Research.

Chief executive of Purple House Sarah Brown said prior to the pandemic, and throughout the changing lockdowns, she planned to have nurses travel to remote communities in the NT from interstate, but that plan had been delayed.

She said the priority to deliver COVID-19 vaccinations and testing, as well as aged care services across Australia, had put the “whole system under enormous pressure”, but she remained optimistic about attracting more nurses to Central Australia.

“If we could actually have a bit of a plan to move some of these visa applications along and find a safe way to get some nurses in the country that would take a lot of pressure off the whole system,” she said.

“If we can do it for pop stars and tennis champions maybe there’s a way we could do it for some nurses too.”

You can read the story in the ABC News here.

COVID-19 interstate and international border restrictions have impacted upon nurses coming to work in remote communities. Image credit: ABC News.

COVID-19 interstate and international border restrictions have impacted upon nurses coming to work in remote communities. Image credit: ABC News.

 

Census data supporting mums and bubs program

The Institute of Urban Indigenous Health uses Census data to inform expansion of its successful Birthing in our Communities program, which is delivering outstanding results for mums and bubs in South East Queensland.

The program also hosts a community day every Friday. It’s a chance for mums, their family, and their community support network to come together to celebrate the family unit and learn from visiting specialists like dieticians and psychologists.

Queensland mum Mackapilly said it’s been a great opportunity to learn and be part of a community of mums and bubs.

“I am so grateful for playgroup and community days. It was been useful to connect with other mums and share advice. We feel like we are at home, like we are a family,” Mackapilly said.

Mackapilly would love to see this program expand to other areas and communities to help more Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mums and bubs.

“Now that I know Census data has helped to create and expand the Birthing in our Communities program, I’ll be telling other mums to make sure they fill out the Census because I can see how it can help show what community services are needed,” said Mackapilly.

Other important dates on the calendar provide opportunities for mums and families to come together. The Birthing in our Communities program is getting ready to host a COVID-safe celebration and playgroup for National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children’s Day on 4 August.

You can read the media release here.

For more information call 1800 512 441 or visit the Australian Bureau of Statistics Census website with information for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities here.

Census data supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mums and bubs program to expand across South East Queensland.

 

Chronic disease mapped across Australia

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) has released new geographical data, showing where Australia’s most common chronic diseases are more prevalent.

Cardiovascular disease, diabetes and chronic kidney disease are together responsible for the country’s highest ‘burden of disease’ – the years of healthy life lost to a disease. They account for 14%, 2.2% and 1.4% of the burden of disease, respectively.

While common, these diseases are not evenly distributed. For instance, 6.2% of Australian adults report having heart, stroke and vascular disease, but for Northern Territorians the rate is only 1.8%. Conversely, 7.4% of adults in the NT have type 2 diabetes, compared to 5.9% of the national adult population.

Areas with greater socioeconomic disadvantage have higher rates of disease when age is taken into account.

Regional and remote areas, and places with high proportions of Indigenous Australians, also had worse health profiles when adjusted for age.

The AIHW has released this data in a series of dashboards on their website, where you can examine your own state or suburb’s health profile.

Type 2 diabetes prevalence in Australia. Credit: AIHW 2021.

Type 2 diabetes prevalence in Australia. Credit: AIHW 2021.

 

Program to increase number of surgeons

The Royal Australasian College of Surgeons (RACS) is proud to launch its Indigenous Surgical Pathway Program Australia to try and increase the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander surgeons in the medical workforce.

The program aims to reduce the professional health workforce inequity faced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Australia.

While there are over 83,000 doctors registered to practice in Australia, fewer than 400 are Indigenous. This is despite over 760,000 people in Australia identifying as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander.

“In Australia and NZ we have a severe shortage of Indigenous surgeons and we need to do everything we can to change this disproportionate under-representation,” said Dr Sally Langley, RACS President.

“The College is committed to addressing this health discrepancy and the program will support this by encouraging and actively recruiting medical students and recent graduates into surgery.”

You can read the media release by RACS here.

Aboriginal surgeon Dr Kelvin Kong. Image credit: The Australian.

Aboriginal surgeon Dr Kelvin Kong. Image credit: The Australian.

 

Community Liaison Officers to improve SEWB

In February 2021, the WA Government announced a further $17.6 million commitment to establish a three year Social and Emotional Wellbeing Model of Service pilot at five Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Service (ACCHS) sites.

The Model is part of their commitment to address and reduce Aboriginal suicide rates through the establishment of the newly created Aboriginal Community Liaison Officer (CLO) positions across the State.

Based at Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations, the CLOs will work with their respective communities and support the implementation of the region-specific Aboriginal suicide prevention plans.

The region-specific plans form part of the implementation of the Western Australian Suicide Prevention Framework 2021-2025 and include culturally informed social and emotional wellbeing initiatives designed by and for Aboriginal people.

You can read the media statement by the Government of Western Australia here.

Aboriginal women embracing each other.

Aboriginal women embracing each other. Image credit: Independent 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.
dice spelling JOBS resting on keyboard

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Delta outbreak would devastate remote communities

Delta outbreak would devastate remote communities

In an article in the ABC News, outback doctors warn that the COVID-19 Delta variant makes a regional outbreak even more dangerous. They said they do not have enough staff, let alone ventilators, to cope with a Delta outbreak.

NACCHO medical adviser, Dr Jason Agostino, said to ABC News that talk of abandoning any attempt to control COVID-19 would be dangerous.

“In remote Australia and across all of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australia, we only have around 22 per cent of people [who] have received a first dose of any vaccine, and that’s much lower than in the non-Indigenous population.

“We know that COVID-19 causes more serious disease in people with chronic conditions, [such as] diabetes and heart disease and [that] it spreads easily among crowded houses.

“Unfortunately, many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have these chronic diseases from younger ages and also live in crowded houses.

Dr Agostino agreed it was important for Australia to find vaccines that were safe for Indigenous children and said that, until a much higher rate of vaccination had been achieved, “lockdowns are going to be a way of life”.

You can view the article in ABC News here.

Kids playing in remote community. Image credit: Brisbane Times.

Kids playing in remote community. Image credit: Brisbane Times. Feature tile image credit of University of Queensland website.

Successful place-based pandemic approach

Pandemics such as COVID-19 are a serious public health risk for Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, yet primary healthcare systems are not well resourced to respond to such urgent events. At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, a federal government advisory group recommended a rapid, tailored Indigenous response to prevent predicted high morbidity and mortality rates. This paper examines the efforts of Gurriny Yealamucka Health Service (Gurriny), which in the absence of dedicated funding, pivoted its operations in response to COVID-19.

Gurriny is the only primary healthcare service in the discrete Indigenous community of Yarrabah, Far North Queensland. They responded to COVID-19 by leading with local solutions to keep Yarrabah safe. Four key strategies were implemented: managing the health service operations, realigning services, educating and supporting community, and working across agencies.

The success of the locally led, holistic, comprehensive and culturally safe response of Gurriny suggests that such tailored place-based approaches to pandemics (and other health issues) are appropriate, but require dedicated resourcing.

You can read the paper in the DocWire News here.

Gurriny Yealamucka Health Service

Gurriny Yealamucka Health Service.

Eye health inequity

A recent study published on Science Direct provides a critical realist analysis of eye health inequity among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians.

The prevalence of diabetes among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians is three times greater than non-Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, contributing to a greater risk of blindness from treatable and preventable ocular conditions, most prominently cataract and diabetic retinopathy. In rural and remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, blindness prevalence is higher, and ocular treatment coverage and uptake are lower. In collaboration with Aboriginal Community Based Researchers, this study explored complex contingent factors that shape access to eye health services among rural and remote Aboriginal Australians living with diabetes.

The paper highlighted that:

  • Sociocultural contingencies shape eye health outcomes among Aboriginal Australians.
  • Linguistic, economic, and cultural marginalisation underpin eye health inequity.
  • Differences between Western biomedical and Aboriginal cultural norms form tensions.
  • Supporting linguistic and cultural sovereignty in clinical spaces is needed.
  • Cultural responsivity training and an expanded Aboriginal health workforce are key.

Read the full study in Science Direct here.

close up image of face of elderly Aboriginal stockman with felt hat, blind in one eye

Image source: The Fred Hollows Foundation website.

Bridging the Gap in homeownership

Owning your own home has long been part of the Aussie dream, however for some indigenous Australians this pursuit is difficult to achieve for a number of economic, social and cultural reasons.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics 2016 Census, 38 per cent of indigenous people owned their own home compared to two-thirds of non-indigenous Australians.

According to AIHW, “not having affordable, secure and appropriate housing can have negative consequences, including homelessness, poor health, and lower rates of employment and education participation – all of which can lead to social exclusion and disadvantage”.

Acknowledging this fact, Nicheliving has established a new division called Kambarang, created to bridge the gap for indigenous people and their communities, providing access to affordable housing opportunities to make their homeownership dreams a reality.

“The unit’s main goal is to support homeownership through providing open discussions, cultural support, credit assistance, communication and process support, affordable housing options, loan support and an end-to-end experience, including settlement,” said Nicheliving Managing Director Ronnie Michel-Elhaj.

You can read the story in The West Australian here.

Nicheliving - Willetton

Nicheliving – Willetton. Image credit: Julius Pang via The West Australian.

NSW Implementation Plan for Closing the Gap

The NSW 2021-2022 Implementation Plan for Closing the Gap is focusing on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander self-determination. The starting point in 2021-22 is to focus on the five Priority Reform areas as they know that transforming the way governments work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities is key to creating positive change. They have also identified a few focus areas under each Priority Reform.

They are working in partnership to bring together expertise from across Aboriginal communities, Aboriginal organisations and government agencies to develop further detailed and ambitious actions. To do this, they need your voice. Get involved and tell them what will make the biggest difference to you and your communities here.

You can view the 2021-22 NSW Implementation Plan for Closing the Gap here.
Visit the NSW Government Aboriginal Affairs website for more information here.

School students from St Francis Xavier School in Daly River, Southwest of Darwin in the Northern Territory. Image credit: The Herald Sun.

School students from St Francis Xavier School in Daly River, Southwest of Darwin in the Northern Territory. Image credit: The Herald Sun.

Winnunga Newsletter

The Winnunga Newsletter June – July 2021 edition is now available here.

Winnunga News June-July 2021 banner

Red socks for kidney support

Kidney Health Australia’s Red Socks Appeal is back and better than ever. Grab your friends, family, your work buddies, even your beloved pooch and either join Kidney Health Australia on one of their Red Socks Walks, set yourself a challenge or buy yourself a pair of red socks to show people living with kidney disease you care.

Wondering what Red Socks have to do with kidney disease? People on dialysis are strapped to a machine for 60 hours a month on average while it cleans their blood. While having dialysis treatment they often get cold, especially their feet. This is why Kidney Health Australia is asking you to go bold this October and wear Red Socks to show people living with kidney disease that you care.

Read more about the appeal and how you can show your support here.

Kidney Health Australia Red Sock Appeal

New process for job advertising

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

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


dice spelling JOBS resting on keyboard

Connecting to Country grants program open

The Connecting to Country grants program is now open, providing support to culture and arts projects and initiatives that renew links between community, Country and culture.

Aboriginal people and organisations can apply for up to $25,000 for activities on-Country that encourage sharing of cultural knowledge and skills between generations, preservation of culture and strengthening of communities.

Applications close: 26 August 2021.
For more information visit the Government of Western Australia Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries website here.

Connecting to Country program image.

Connecting to Country program image.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: NACCHO CEO fully vaccinated today

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

NACCHO CEO fully vaccinated today

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

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

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

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

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

Diabetes Australia partners with ACCHO

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

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

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

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

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

Country singer Roger Knox.

Australia’s human rights response disappointing

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

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

To view Amnesty International’s media release click here.

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

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

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

Image source: Amnesty International.

Hearing Australia unites with First Nations people

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

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

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

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

New Indigenous medical scholarships

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

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

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

To view the Flinders University media release here.

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

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

CTG PBS Co-payment changes positive

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

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

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

To view the newsGP article in full click here.

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

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

First Peoples Health camp for teens

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

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

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

To view the article in full click here.

National Pancreatic Cancer Roadmap update

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

You can visit and interact with an infographic here.

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

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

New process for job advertising

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

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

National Diabetes Week

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

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

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

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

Did you know diabetes…

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

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

For more information on National Diabetes Week click here.

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

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: National housing response needed

feature tile text 'national response needed in supporting Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander housing & communities' & image of makeshift tent with blue tarp in Minyerri NT in dry scrub

National housing response needed

June Oscar AO, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner has written and opinion piece for The Australian for NAIDOC Week. Commissioner Oscar spoke about this year’s theme, ‘Heal Country!’, and the need for a national response to supporting First Nations Communities to live on country. Below is an excerpt from the opinion piece:

“For decades governments have chronically underinvested in remote housing, roads, sewerage, education, health and much more. At the beginning of the pandemic, in the rush to get our peoples home, already dangerously overcrowded communities struggled to accommodate the influx. Tents sprang up. Our peoples returning to community were largely experiencing homelessness and poverty – their lives on the margins a direct result of the fact there has never been enough housing, not in cities, towns, communities or anywhere.

The reason we continue to live in vulnerable and unacceptable conditions is because there is no national plan to enable our people to live on or easily access our lands. In 2014, with commonwealth funding cuts, the WA government announced it would close more than half the remote communities in the state. The state government said it couldn’t shoulder the costs and has maintained this position. This is not unique to WA. In 2018 the commonwealth’s remote housing agreement with the states came to an end, with only an exit payment, and nothing else arranged for WA, SA and Queensland. It shows the disregard of governments at all levels to invest effectively in places where we live.

The real cost of the commonwealth walking away from these agreements, and all governments failing to respond to our needs, is entrenched human suffering, abuse and a deep scarring of this land. Enough is enough. The urgency of these issues demands immediate action by the commonwealth in partnership with all Australian governments and most importantly with First Nations peoples.”

To read the opinion piece in full click here.

makeshift housing on edge of Tennant Creek, NT

Tennant Creek traditional owner Diane Stokes lives on her block as an alternative to staying in an overcrowded family house. Photo: Jane Bardon. Image source: ABC News. Feature tile: Aboriginal community of Minyerri, NT. Image source: Welcome to Country website.

Trial could change type 2 diabetes treatment

NT GP Sam Heard sees the harm type 2 diabetes causes in Indigenous communities; in some places, up to 40% of the population is affected by the illness. “Dire might be a good word. The outcome for people getting diabetes when you are 40 is not good, and when you are very young it is terrible,” Dr Heard said. “If you tell an Aboriginal person that they have got diabetes, they are pretty devastated, and there is stigma involved. It is a really major disease that has implications for everybody — their family and their children.”

But Dr Heard is seeing some promising results in his patients who are trialling a low-calorie weight management program. “All of those have managed to stay on [the program] are very, very positive about it,” said Dr Heard,  who is the medical director at the Central Australian Aboriginal Congress (CAAC). “One 40-year-old fella describing it to a large group of Aboriginal people at a meeting got a standing ovation, and they could see the difference in his whole demeanour and how much weight he had lost.”

To view the article in full click here.

Aboriginal person's hands doing blood sugar test

Image source: The Medical Journal of Australia website.

COVID-19 assets for mob

The Australian Government Department of Health have developed a pack of COVID-19 resources tailored to an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander audience. The pack includes suggested social tiles and captions, two posters and a community announcement radio script, reminding everyone on the importance of keeping two big steps away from others, washing hands regularly, getting tested if you’re unwell, and following state and territory guidelines and restrictions.

You are welcome to use these assets as you see fit and adapt to your local requirements.

To view the range of resources click here.

tile with Jade North image & quote "If you're feeling sick, please stay away from others." Australian Governet #keepourmobsafe Australia.gov.au Coronavirus (COVID-19), image of Jade North playing soccer, border Aboriginal dot painting

One of the #keepourmobsafe COVID-19 resources.

Community sector climate justice webinar

On 12 July 2021 ACOSS is launching its Climate Campaign to build the capacity of the community sector to act on climate justice. ACOSS is calling on the Federal Government to commit to an ambitious net zero emissions reduction target, which is the first step to tackling the injustice being done to vulnerable people as a result of climate inaction.

You can join community sector leaders including NACCHO CEO Pat Turner, NACCHO CEO, and climate experts at the Climate Campaign Webinar to discuss what your organisation can do to address climate change. You will hear from experts on the science and human impacts of climate change and learn from community climate leaders whose organisations have taken action on the issue.

ACOSS CEO Cassandra Goldie will share how community organisations can take part in the community sector push for climate justice in the leadup to the November UN Climate Summit.

The webinar will take place on Zoom from 1–3pm on Monday 12 July 2021.

Registrations close 5pm Friday 9 July 2021 – to register click here.

banner text 'ACOSS Climate Campaign Webinar - empowering the community sector to take action on clime justice' image of man in checked shirt with face mask, background thick bushfire smoke

Lowering heart disease risk resources

Are you at risk of heart disease? Preventing heart disease starts with knowing your risk factors and making changes to live a healthier life. The Heart Foundation has a range of support and resources to help Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples stay healthy and reduce the risk of heart disease. You can access the Heart Foundation’s information and resources here.

Aboriginal woman in outdoor setting using weight resistant exercise equipment

Image source: The Heart Foundation.

Infectious disease ‘surveillance network’

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people will benefit from the expansion of a University of Queensland-led health project aimed at improving clinical care within primary health care services nationally. The Improving surveillance infrastructure for Indigenous primary health care project will expand an existing online surveillance network (named ATLAS) focussed on sexually transmissible infections (STIs) and blood-borne viruses (BBVs), thanks to federal funding.

STIs and BBVs are endemic in many remote and regional communities in Australia, with STIs identified as the leading incident morbidity for Aboriginal people aged 15–24 years. UQ Poche Centre for Indigenous Health director Professor James Ward said he welcomed the funding to deliver the largest connected Indigenous primary care surveillance network in Australia.

“As a Pitjantjatjara and Nukunu man and an infectious diseases epidemiologist, this is an exciting opportunity to significantly develop our work in this sector,” Professor Ward said. “Our aim is to grow the size of the ATLAS network by including more primary health care services within the network especially Aboriginal Community-Controlled Health Organisations (ACCHOs). In addition, the new funding will enable the ATLAS surveillance system to extend to include other infectious diseases such as vaccine preventable diseases within the scope of the ATLAS network.”

To view the full article click here.

light blue background with 3 clay brightly coloured sculptures of STI cells

Image source: 1800 my options website.

First Nations to inform national plan

The federal government has established a 13-member Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Advisory Council to inform the development of the next National Plan to end family, domestic and sexual violence in Australia and support the implementation of the Closing the Gap Target 13.

Indigenous rights campaigner Professor Sandra Creamer will be the interim chair of the multidisciplinary Advisory Council and be joined by advisors from across the health, community services, legal services, children and family services, and university sectors. Minister for Women’s Safety Anne Ruston said the Advisory Council would help ensure the issues and challenges facing First Nations peoples were elevated and given specific focus in the next National Plan.

To view the media release click here.

young boy holding ripped piece of paper with the work HELP in front of face

Image source: Monash University LENS website.

New process for job advertising

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

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

dice spelling JOBS resting on keyboard

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

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

P4JH fights racism in health and justice sectors

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

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

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

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

To view the full Croakey Health Media article click here.

portrait shots of Dr Janine Mohamed & Karl Briscoe

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

Bendigo men supported by mob

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

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

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

To view the full article click here.

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

Screenshot from BDAC Healthy Spirits video.

Lower limb amputation in Central Australia

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

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

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

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

Image source: Disability Support Guide website.

Supporting Victorian Aboriginal communities

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

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

To view the media release in full click here.

back of worker in hall making up food packages

Image source: Yarra City Council website.

AMA welcomes extra vaccine funding

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

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

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

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

Image source: GP Synergy website.

Corporate Australia must walk the talk

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

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

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

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

Image source: Croakey.

Deinstitutionalised design for new ACCHO Building

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

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

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

To view the article in full click here.

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

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

Racism in health webinar

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

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

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

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

Image source: Crikey.

International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking

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

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

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

For further information click here.

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

Image source: AFEW International.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Safely sleeping Aboriginal babies program

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

Safely sleeping Aboriginal babies program

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

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

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

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

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

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

Professor Jeanine Young with Aboriginal doll in a Pepi-Pod

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

NAIDOC returns to NITV in 2021

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

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

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

Indigenous doctor academic post program

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

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

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

To view the full article newsGP article click here.

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

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

Winnunga May newsletter

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

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

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

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

New mental health service in Armadale WA

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

To view the full media release click here.

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

Image source: Neuroscience Newsletter.

Funding for SISTAQUIT

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

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

Kidney failure decision making webinar

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

The webinar will be presented by nephrologist Professor Robyn Langham.

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

World Kidney Cancer Day – 17 June 2021

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

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

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

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

World Continence Week – 21–27 June 2021

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

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Protecting frontline workers against COVID-19

Feature tile - Fri 11.6.21 - Protect frontline workers against COVID

Protecting frontline workers against COVID

The Australian Medical Association (AMA) today welcomed the release of updated guidelines on the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) to protect health care workers against aerosol transmission of COVID-19.

The Infection Control Expert Group (ICEG) developed the guidelines in collaboration with the National COVID-19 Clinical Evidence Taskforce Infection Prevention and Control Panel and the Commonwealth Minister for Health in September last year after the AMA expressed its concerns over the lack of protection for health care workers from the risks of aerosol transmission of COVID-19.

AMA President Dr Omar Khorshid said the updated guidelines did much to address the concerns of the medical profession and they were much more explicit on the need for health care workers to be provided with N95/P2 masks when managing patients with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 to protect them against the risks of aerosol transmission.

“Too many health care workers in Australia have been placed at risk of COVID-19 because of the lack of adequate PPE and these new guidelines could not have come soon enough, particularly as Australia still remains at significant risk of outbreaks,” said Dr Khorshid

The updated ICEG guidelines follow the release by the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care of an update to its Preventing and Controlling .Infections Standard, which were reviewed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Red the media release by AMA here.

Personal Protective Equipment. Image credit: https://infectioncontrol.care/blog/what-is-ppe.

Personal Protective Equipment. Image credit: https://infectioncontrol.care/blog/what-is-ppe. Feature image – Dr Glenn Harrison in PPE. Image credit: The Royal Melbourne Hospital.

 

Praise for Moree COVID-19 testing rates

More than 900 people have been tested for COVID-19 in Moree within 12 hours, with Hunter New England Health (HNEH) thanking people for their response. The numbers through the expanded hospital and drive through clinics in Moree is a credit to both the community and the medical staff, HNE LHD Chief Executive Mr Michael DiRienzo said.

It comes after residents were told to hold-off on attending the pop-up COVID-19 testing site on Thursday, due to the high number of vehicles at the Moree Gateway. However Mr Di Lorenzo assured the community that Moree District Hospital and Laverty Moree “have swabbing supplies and are not turning people away”.

“I want to sincerely thank the Moree community for quickly getting behind our call to get tested,” he said.

High rates of testing are so important because this will help us to detect any cases in the community as early as possible. Please remain vigilant for COVID-19 symptoms and get tested for even the mildest of symptoms.”

You can read the full story in Tenterfield Star here.

Moree District Health Service. Image credit: Tenterfield Star.

Moree District Health Service. Image credit: Tenterfield Star.

Experiences and impacts of racism on GP training

Dr Talila Milroy jumped at the chance to undertake the Australian Indigenous Doctors’ Association (AIDA) Academic Post in 2020. The Western Australian GP was always interested in developing and furthering general practice research, and the post allowed a structured framework to delve into the data.

Now, having undertaken a year as the 2020 AIDA Academic Post holder, Dr Milroy is continuing her part-time research role and furthering her study into the experiences and impacts of racism on general practice training.

You develop so many skills, not only in research but in teaching as well,” she told newsGP.

‘It’s also the networking; you gain communication skills because you’re teaching medical students, and you get more of a grasp of how to design research and ask questions that are clinically relevant, useful and translatable.’

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

Read more about Dr Milroy’s experience in newsGP here.

Applications are now open for the 2022 intake of the RACGP Australian General Practice Training Academic Post with entries closing on 5 July. Find out more here.

Dr Talila Milroy, 2020 AIDA Academic Post holder. Image credit: GP News, RACGP.

Dr Talila Milroy, 2020 AIDA Academic Post holder. Image credit: GP News, RACGP.

Improve the health and wellbeing of LGBTQA+ mob

Walkern Katatdjin is looking for people who are committed to improving the health and wellbeing of young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander LGBTQA+ mob to join the Walkern Katatdjin Governance Committee.

The Walkern Katatdjin (Rainbow Knowledge) project aims to improve the support available to our young mob through research. The Governance Committee will oversee the Walkern Katatdjin project design, procedures, data management, and translation of findings to ensure meaningful impacts from the project.

Find out more about the role of the Governance Committee and the Walkern Katatdjin project here.

Walkern Katatdjin - Rainbow Knowledge

 

Decision Making and Symptom Control in Kidney Failure

Health Professional Webinar
Kidney Health Australia

Presented by Prof Robyn Langham, Nephrologist

Tuesday 22 June, 7.30pm (AEST)
Register here (registration is essential)
For more information contact us via email.

Decision Making and Symptom Control in Kidney Failure - Kidney Health Australia webinar

Improved quality aged care

‘Improving outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in aged care’

This webinar will outline how the aged care reforms will improve access to and quality of aged care delivered to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples including in remote communities.

Presenters

  • The Hon Greg Hunt, Minister for Health and Aged Care
  • Senator the Hon Richard Colbeck, Minister for Senior Australians and Aged Care Services
  • Michael Lye, Deputy Secretary, Ageing and Aged Care Group
  • Helen Grinbergs, First Assistant Secretary, Service Delivery Division
  • Eliza Strapp, First Assistant Secretary, Market and Workforce Division

Webinar content

Aged care workers and providers who deliver services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are encouraged to participate in the webinar.

The webinar will outline how the aged care reforms will help to:

  • involve Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in designing their services and care
  • ensure services and care are available to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people no matter where they live
  • enhance the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander aged care workforce.

You will have the opportunity to say how we can best work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, families, carers and communities, health services, aged care providers and the workforce to make positive changes.

Date and time: 3.00pm to 4.30pm (AEST), Monday, July 19 2021.
Register here.
4 Aboriginal hands holding another Aboriginal hand

Image source: ORIC website.

Indigenous Wellbeing Conference presenter applications open

Statistics show Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have significantly higher mental health needs than other Australians and experience psychological distress at around 3x the rate of the non-Indigenous population. We see similar numbers across the seas, with Māori and Pasifika populations carrying the highest burden of suicide with higher incidences.

It is time to speak up, be heard and celebrate projects, programs and research contributing to the mission of closing the gap for Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander and Māori peoples.

The Australian & New Zealand Mental Health Association has announced a final call for applicants wishing to share their insight on Indigenous mental health and wellbeing for the inaugural Indigenous Wellbeing Conference. This event is taking place from 7-8 October at Cairns Pullman International.

The conference theme ‘Honouring Indigenous Voices & Wisdom: Balancing the System to Close the Gap’ will be bringing attention to four core areas:

  • Promoting Wellbeing
  • Social, Political and Cultural Determinants
  • Community Care, Cultural Revitalisation & Healing
  • Culturally Responsive Care & Community Control

Together we will help to empower Indigenous communities to develop their own solutions to living long healthy lives; strengthen culture; and reconnect with spirit.

Applications close: Friday 18 June 2021.
Submit your presentation brief here.

Indigenous Wellbeing Conference

 

 

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Data proves birthing program works

feature tile text 'data proves innovative community program Birthing in Our Community WORKS!' image of Aboriginal mother's finger being held in her baby's hand

Data proves birthing program works

A unique birthing program in Brisbane has long been advocating for culturally appropriate support for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mothers and their babies. Now it has the data to prove it’s working.

About 300 women go through the Brisbane-based Birthing in Our Community Program (BiOC) was founded in 2013. It’s now been the subject of a long-term study into whether such culturally appropriate care improves the health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and children – and the results are promising.  A study led by researchers at Charles Darwin University and published in The Lancet Global Health journal earlier this year found, over a seven-year period, an 80% increase in women attending antenatal appointments.

It also found women using the service were 50% less likely to have a premature baby than those accessing standard maternity care in hospital, as well as a 40% increase in breastfeeding.

Charles Darwin University professor Yvette Roe, who is co-director of the Molly Wardaguga Research Centre and led the study, says the results are astonishing. “We’ve not seen this kind of evidence anywhere in Australia. This kind of research, this kind of model of care, this system of care, changes life trajectory.” Professor Roe, a Njikena Jawuru woman, says having a range of services available is part of its triumph.

To view the article in full click here.

torso shot of Sarah Booth with her baby daughter Eva

BiOC participant Sarah Booth with her daughter Eva. Image source: SBS News website. Image in feature tile from ISA Healthcare Solutions website.

CTG Partnership Health Check

The 2020 Partnership Health Check report, Joint Council response and Risk Register were released late last week. The Joint Council’s response acknowledges the important leadership role of the Coalition of Peaks in bringing forward policy proposals for consideration and commits the Parties to strengthened shared decision making processes to support the implementation of the National Agreement on Closing the Gap.

The annual Partnership Health Check will make sure the Partnership is getting stronger, and we are all meeting our commitments of the National Agreement to Close the Gap. The Partnership Health Check Report, Joint Council Response and Risk Register are on the Coalition of Peaks website here.tile text 'PARTNERSHIP HEALTH CHECK' CoP logo, The Partnership HEalth Check looks at how the Coalition of Peaks and governments are working together and suggests ways to make the partnership stronger!

4 in 10 children in OOHC are Indigenous

Indigenous children have remained disproportionately represented in Australian out-of-home care (OOHC) statistics, despite overall rates remaining steady. A 118-page annual report, released by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, shows one in four of the roughly 46,000 children in out-of-home care in mid-2020 were Indigenous.

At the time there were about 18,900 Indigenous children in OOHC which includes living with a relative or foster carer. That represents one in 18 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in Australia, and it was 11 times higher than the rate for non-Indigenous kids.

Almost two-thirds (63%) of that group were living with family or other Indigenous caregivers, with the rest in other arrangements including foster care. “In positive news, over 80% of Indigenous children who exited OOHC into more stable and permanent arrangements, did not return to care within 12 months,” AIHW spokesman Dinesh Indraharan said.

To view the full article click here.

close up of face of young Aboriginal girl looking sad

Image source: AbSec – NSW Child, Family & Community Peak Aboriginal Corporation website.

Water quality leaves Doomadgee dialysis chairs unused

A remote Indigenous community’s water quality is being blamed for a delay in two dialysis chairs being installed in the town’s hospital. A total of six dialysis chairs were supposed to be installed in Doomadgee last year but were delayed due to COVID-19 border restrictions into Indigenous communities. North West Hospital and Health Service’s acting chief executive Karen Murphy said the Gulf region’s flooding and a shortage in tradespeople had further delayed the installation of the remaining two chairs.

“We actually have all of the chairs in Doomadgee ready to go,” she said. “The contractors who were planned to do the upgrades had gone out of business and we had to go back out to tender. “The complexity is that the water quality going into these chairs has to be very specific water quality and so we’re still finalising all of the plumbing and the filtration system that will be used.”

To view the article in full click here.

from torso down Aboriginal man receiving dialysis, background is monitor & dialysis machine, blue hospital curtain

Renal dialysis in Mount Isa and Townsville are the only options for many Doomadgee residents. Photo: Kelly Butterworth. Image source: ABC News website.

Action needed for heart disease in women

Australian researchers are calling for urgent action to reduce the incidence of cardiovascular disease in women – the leading cause of death for women around the world. The first global report on the issue urges action to tackle inequities in the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of heart disease. 17 experts from 11 countries, including Australia, authored the study, which found heart, stroke and blood vessel disease in women was understudied, under-recognised, underdiagnosed and undertreated.

Around 2.1 million Australian women have cardiovascular disease, which includes heart disease and stroke, and it accounts for about one-in-four female deaths. Cardiovascular disease accounts for 35% of women’s deaths worldwide each year. “This report reinforces that strategies to reduce heart disease in women should be targeted to the most vulnerable people globally, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women in Australia.” Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women are almost twice as likely as non-Indigenous women to have heart, stroke and vascular disease.

To view the full article from The West Australian click here.

plastic model of heart sitting on medical text book

Image source: The Tennessee Tribune.

Patient immunisation details more easily available

Australian healthcare providers now have an improved and consolidated view of their patients’ immunisation details through My Health Record. This is important as the world continues to face the ongoing challenges of COVID-19 and shows how the national digital health system can support the response to both this and future pandemics. Australian Digital Health Agency Chief Clinical Adviser, Dr Steve Hambleton, said the latest update to the system makes it much easier to see patient immunisation information. As a GP I can quickly and easily see my patients’ immunisation details, including their COVID-19 vaccination status or their children’s National Immunisation Program status, without having to go through time-consuming logins for separate systems. This is one of the great benefits of My Health Record, he said.

To view the ADHA media release click here.

My Health Record logo & image of arm being vaccinated

Image source: Australian Government Department of Health website.

Calls to reinstate rural medicine placement program

The Australian Medical Students’ Association (AMSA) has called upon the Australian Government to reinstate funding for the John Flynn Placement Program, which was suspended following the 2021–22 Federal Budget announcements.

The Program, named after the founder of the Royal Flying Doctor Service, has provided thousands of students a taste of rural medicine through four funded fortnight-long placements in rural Australia since 1997. “This Program has fostered an interest in rural medicine among students who wouldn’t have otherwise had the opportunity to immerse themselves in rural life,” AMSA President, Sophie Keen, said. “While we commend the investment into prevocational training in rural and remote areas, this leaves a hole in medical student experiences that cannot be filled by university-led programs through the Rural Health Multidisciplinary.”

To view the AMSA’s media release click here.

young rural doctor sitting on top of group of road signs in outback, one sign says 10 km to Ampilatwatja Health Centre Aboriginal Corporation

Image source: NT GP Education website.

Massive shortage of rural psychiatrists

In a year defined by uncertainty, isolation and grief, our mental health has been tested in new and perhaps unprecedented ways, and we are only now beginning to see the first aftershocks in a system already stretched to capacity to respond. The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on mental health will be the focus of talks at this week’s annual congress of Australian and NZ psychiatrists.

Workforce issues also will be discussed at length at the Congress, with the College to launch its 2021–31 Rural Psychiatry Roadmap focused on addressing significant access challenges for Australians outside of metropolitan areas, a “cycle of rural psychiatry disadvantage”.

While almost one in three Australians lives outside a major city, only 14% of psychiatrists practice in these areas – and this number is just 10% for full-time clinicians. A paucity of culturally appropriate services greatly compounds this problem for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander populations.

To view the Croakey article in full click here.

outback road, red dust & dry grass clumps either side, blue skiy, no clouds, kangaroo road sign

Image source: Pro Bono website.

Aboriginal Chronic Conditions Conference

The Aboriginal Chronic Conditions Network at the Agency for Clinical Innovation, The Aboriginal Health and Medical Research Council and NSW Primary Health Networks would like to cordially invite you to join us for the virtual 2021 – Aboriginal Chronic Conditions Conference 10:00 AM 8 June to 3:00 PM 9 June 2021.

The aim of this free, open to all, virtual conference is to bring together stakeholders to showcase each other’s success and key learnings in designing and delivering virtual models of care for Aboriginal peoples. We also would like to showcase any key initiatives that have supported the emotional wellbeing of the workforce and community during these challenging times.

To register click here. Link will be provided to attendees 48hr prior to the conference.

Aboriginal art work orange, aqua, green, yellow, blue, purple, red - 4 horizontal layers

Image source: NSW Government, Agency for Clinical Innovation.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Health will improve when housing improves

feature tile text 'Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander health will only improve when we improve housing' & image of boarded up building

Health will improve when housing improves

University of Melbourne academics Laureate Professor Hugh Taylor AC, Senior Research Fellow Mitchell D Anjou AM and Research Fellow Emma Stanford have written an article To Improve Indigenous Health, We Must Improve Indigenous Housing. In the article they say the recommendation of the recent Senate report to re-establish the National Partnership Agreement on Remote Indigenous Housing is to be applauded, but more importantly, it should be implemented as a matter of urgency.

Trachoma is blinding eye disease spread repeatedly between young children which causes scarring in the eyes, leading to blindness in adults. Sometimes called “Sandy Blight”, Trachoma disappeared from mainstream Australia more than a century ago. But actually, Australia remains the only developed country to still have trachoma, along with some 44 low-income countries.

Last week, the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared Gambia to be the latest country to eliminated trachoma. Australia had made a declaration in 2009 to eliminate trachoma by 2020 – a target the country missed.

Trachoma is spread by the frequent exchange of infected eye and nose secretions from one child to another. The key to stopping this terrible blinding disease is to stop the spread of infected secretions by keeping the children’s faces clean. In order to do this, they must have access to safe and functional bathrooms. Although some good progress has been made, the process has stalled for lack of safe and functional housing. Inadequate housing has a critical impact on health, including Indigenous health.

To view the article click here.

Aboriginal adults hands holding arms of young Aboriginal child. guiding soapy child's hands under a tap of running water

Photo: Indigenous Eye Health. Image source: The University of Melbourne Pursuit webpage.

Perinatal healthcare gap a priority

Health researchers across the globe are pushing for better Indigenous perinatal care with a focus on Indigenous-led, community-based solutions.

Yvette Roe is a Njikena Jawuru woman and an Indigenous health researcher at Charles Darwin University is one of about 50 names from Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the United States on a recently published paper in Women and Birth, the official journal of the Australian College of Midwives. They are all demanding better perinatal care for First Nations women to better support mothers from the start of their pregnancies through their infants’ first 12 months of life.

Dr Roe said the mainstream health system routinely failed Indigenous mothers, “What we know is the current system of maternity services is not working for our people,” she said. According to Dr Roe, when compared to non-Indigenous Australians, Aboriginal women were more likely to have pre-term births, more likely to die during childbirth, and more likely to have their babies die during their first year of life.

For Dr Roe and her peers, Indigenous-led, community-based solutions are paramount to closing the perinatal healthcare gap, “Each community comes with its own historical context,” she said. “[The key is] local people being engaged with local solutions.”

To view the article in full click here.

Aboriginal hands holding baby's hands against baby's chest, baby is lying in a coolamon on a cloth, leaves bark seed pods surround coolamon

Photo: Bobbi Lockyer. Image source: ABC News.

Establishing national First Nations researcher network

A team of 91 researchers, led by four experienced First Nations Australian leaders have come together to establish the National Network for First Nations Researchers. This represents the largest cohort of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander researchers (97%) ever assembled with a single goal of growing the next generation of research leaders. This initiative is a critical part of the National Health and Medical Research Council’s (NHMRC) framework for improving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health through research.

One of the researchers who will lead this innovative project, Chairperson of the Lowitja Institute, Dr Pat Anderson AO, says “The National Network’s vision is embedded in the principles of self-determination with activities led by First Nations Peoples for First Nations. It will build on the extensive legacy and ground-breaking work led by the Lowitja Institute over the last 23 years. Our lead investigators will spearhead the establishment of strong and dynamic governance structures that will ensure an inclusive, transparent, equitable and collaborative approach to achieve our commitment to building Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander national research network.”

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

portrait shots top L clockwise Dr Pat Anderson AO, Professor Gail Garvey, Professor Sandra Eades & Professor Alex Brown

Researchers leading the National Network for First Nations Researchers project, clockwise from top left: Dr Pat Anderson AO, Professor Gail Garvey, Professor Sandra Eades & Professor Alex Brown. Image sources: National Indigenous Times, Bupa, Burnet Institute, and NHMRC CREATE.

Resilient NSW First Nations people

Indigenous supporters of reconciliation came together last week to take part in a Q+A panel discussing the resilience of First Nations People in NSW with Members of Parliament. In its 12th year, Reconciliation in Parliament is a program of events hosted by Reconciliation NSW to continue the bi-partisan commitment of the NSW Parliament to Reconciliation. This year’s theme, ‘A case of resilience for the First Nations People of NSW’ highlighted Aboriginal communities’ successful responses to COVID-19 global pandemic.

Panellists praised the actions of ACCHOs in communicating clear information about the global pandemic very early to Aboriginal communities to keep them safe. Comments made included:

  • ACCHOs were prepared earlier than much of mainstream Australia, and because of the need to protect culture, understood the risk and took steps to mitigate any risk by closing off communities.
  • Communities worked together embracing covid measures – not complaining or resisting the limitations of the COVID Guidelines promoted by ACCHOs…and provided practical help to each other, networking and sharing what was working.
  • One of the key strengths is our culture of connectivity which served us during the pandemic as we were all communicating / connected / informed.

The panel also warned of new health epidemics looming – even higher trends of intergenerational trauma, overrepresentation of kids in out of home care and juvenile justice.

To view the full article click here.

blurred background of green hill & people, clear image Aboriginal man with Aboriginal flag mask, ochre beanie, denim jacket, strap of black backpack looking serious

Image source: SBS NITV website.

Vaccinating 3,500 across 75,000 sq kms

Five hours’ drive from Darwin, Barunga laundromat manager Frederick Scrubby, 55, is not convinced that he should get the COVID-19 vaccination. Mr Scrubby, a community leader, said COVID-19 affected people far away, in Sydney and Melbourne. “None of my mob is infected,” he told Aboriginal health practitioner Raelene Brunette. She is going door to door in Barunga and nearby Beswick to address fears and explain how important the vaccine was to keeping elders — and their culture — alive. Sitting on a chair in the red dirt outside his laundromat, Mr Scrubby said he would have the jab if Ms Brunette had it first. Agreed, she said.

With a total of 149 cases and no deaths, Indigenous Australians have done so well at keeping COVID-19 at bay — many remote communities closed the gates to outsiders last year — that many people think it is no longer a threat. Some Aboriginal people have told Ms Brunette they’d rather go bush and hide instead of risking a blood clot from the AstraZeneca vaccine. The Therapeutic Goods Association has reported 18 cases of thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome, including one death, from the first 1.8 million doses of AstraZeneca given in Australia.

Senior Indigenous health leaders meeting in Katherine expressed serious concerns about increasing resistance to getting vaccinated. John Paterson, the chief executive of the Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance of the Northern Territory (AMSANT), said members were reporting community hesitance “because of the media around blood clotting [associated with AstraZeneca vaccine]“. AMSANT represents 26 Aboriginal-controlled medical services.

To view The Sydney Morning Herald click here.

Binjari man Christopher Frith, 62 (red black white grey polo shirt, long grey beard & hair on balding head) get's covid-19 vaccine at Katherine's Wurli Wurlinjang Health Service, looks worriedly to the side as the vaccine is injected

Binjari man Christopher Frith, 62 gets the shot at Katherine’s Wurli Wurlinjang Health Service, Photo: Rhett Wyman. Image source: Brisbane Times.

Family violence supports discriminate

The fact that many Australians recognise the names of people like Hannah Clarke and Rosie Batty and little Kobi Shepherdson, the fact that strangers march in the streets calling for justice on their behalf, is a reflection of the increasing consciousness of domestic and family violence in this country. But for all the hard-fought gains in putting this issue on the national agenda, a stunning lack of attention has been dedicated to one of the most critically impacted groups: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women.

Have you heard of Tamica Mullaley and her son, Charlie, for example? What about Jody Gore? They have endured family violence so shocking you’d imagine their names dominating front pages and news bulletins. But, no. Their names are barely spoken, their stories little told. There are no nationwide vigils or street-filling marches.

To view the full article click here.

Aboriginal woman with hand out-stretched in front of face with the word enough written palm of hand

Image source: SBS NITV website.

What GPs can expect from the Budget

Responding to the 2021–22 Federal Budget, RACGP President Dr Karen Price said additional funding for primary care, aged care and mental health is welcome, but the finer details ‘make all the difference’. RACGP newsGP have prepared a summary of the major measures affecting GPs, under the headings: primary care, COVID-19 response, Medicare, aged care, rural health, mental health, and disability.

To view the article click here.

copies of cover of 3 Budget 2021–22 budget paper

Image source: RACGP newsGP.

Kidney Disease Webinar TOMORROW

Kidney Health Australia is hosting a Health Professional Webinar Chronic Kidney Disease & Acute Kidney Injury presented by Professor Karen Dwyer tomorrow evening Tuesday 18 May at 7:30 PM AEST. You can view a flyer here.

If you have not registered and are interested in attending, you can register up until the day here.

Kidney Health Australia logo large letter 'K' with elongated half circles in white either side of the join of the 'K', blurred image of Aboriginal man in the background & blood flowing through dialysis machine

Image of dialysis patient from SBS NITV website.