NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: CTG efforts must be redoubled

Image in the feature tile is of Clarence Paul, who died age 48, and his grandson. Photo: Closing the gap campaign. Image source: The Guardian, 12 February 2014.

CTG efforts must be redoubled

The Healing Foundation warns momentum must be gained urgently on the Closing the Gap Priority Reforms, or targets will remain out of reach. The warning follows the release earlier today of Productivity Commission data showing only four of the 17 Closing the Gap targets are on track for being met within the coming decade.

The Healing Foundation Board Chair Professor Steve Larkin said the news should come as shot in the arm to the incoming government, who now has the power to make the necessary changes to ensure Priority Reforms are just that – the priority of all governments. “We must use the knowledge from these updates as a catalyst for redoubling our efforts to right the wrongs of the past so that there is finally justice and healing for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples,” Professor Larkin said.

To view the Healing Foundation’s media release Closing the Gap Progress Report a Warning to Redouble Efforts click here.

Image source: Alcohol and Drug Foundation’s What is ‘Closing the Gap’ webpage.

Root cause of First Nations incarceration

The head of the Territory’s only Indigenous-owned and community-controlled health service has accused the ACT Government of just putting words on paper over its recent Budget funding announcements aimed at reducing the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the justice system. Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health and Community Services CEO Julie Tongs has again renewed calls for a Royal Commission-style inquiry into Indigenous disadvantage in the ACT – something the government hasn’t yet committed to.

Ms Tongs was concerned about how many initiatives the government said it would fund with that $11.5 million over four years. She said these commitments look good on paper but may not address the root cause of Indigenous incarceration rates. “The biggest problem in this community is the racism and the poverty. From there stems the removal of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, family violence and other issues,” she noted. “We can’t just keep throwing bits of funding at things when things get a little bit political. It doesn’t necessarily solve the problem. We are still going to have the problem until we work with the families who suffer racism every day.”

To view the Riotact article ‘Just words on paper’: Winnunga CEO calls for root cause of First Nations incarceration to be addressed in full click here.

Julie Tongs says nothing will change without a royal commission-style inquiry into Indigenous disadvantage in the Territory. Photo: Region Media. Image source: Riotact.

Breaking First Nations wealth ‘curses’

Young Indigenous women are breaking intergenerational patterns of economic disadvantage and using storytelling to cultivate “rich” mindsets, says a banker turned podcaster. Larisha Jerome, host of the Rich Black Women podcast, has worked across debt collection, financial hardship, financial capability and financial abuse prevention including at the Commonwealth Bank, Indigenous Business Australia and the Women’s Legal Service Queensland. She now plans to use the power of stories to empower Indigenous women to break “generational curses” and take control of their finances.

“We do that through sharing stories, connecting and breaking down that money shame, and by empowering our community,” Ms Jerome said. “We talk about generational curses, generational trauma, but what about our generational strength? I believe that healing ourselves is generational wealth.” The main message she wants to impart is that despite experiencing genocide, dispossession and colonisation, Indigenous women are capable and deserving of prosperous lives.

To view the Financial Review article The former banker who wants to break First Nations wealth ‘curses’ click here.

Larisha Jerome is photographed in her home in Mango Hill, north of Brisbane. Photo: Dan Peled. Image source: Financial Review.

Team to resuscitate MBS short a player?

Yesterday Health Minister Mark Butler unveiled the panel Labor hopes will drive its efforts to reinvigorate primary care. Dr Dawn Casey, deputy CEO, NACCHO is one of the 16-person panel making up the Strengthening Medicare Taskforce. Francis Wilkins who wrote the article Labor names team to resuscitate MBS, available here, that appeared in the Medical Republic yesterday argues that while most areas are represented on the Strengthening Medicare Taskforce, medical technology companies are conspicuous by their absence.

“They are the companies that provide the infrastructure that enables Medicare and our models of care to operate,” digital health and interoperability expert Michelle O’Brien said. “The fact that our current technology is outdated and siloed, and there is no funding for multi-disciplinary care across the health eco-system is contributing to the crisis we are experiencing. Technology infrastructure shouldn’t just be an afterthought, and the Australian Digital Health Agency (ADHA) does not represent our health technology companies.”

You can access the Minister for Health and Aged Care the Hon Mark Butler’s media release Strengthening Medicare Taskforce appointed in full here. You can also read the AMA’s media release welcoming the federal government’s establishment of a Strengthening Medicare Taskforce, to decide priority areas for primary care funding here.

Image source: The Medical Republic.

Recognising First Nations medicine

For tens of thousands of years, Indigenous people in Australia have prepared and used plants to treat ailments. But what happens if a community wants to take their medicine to the world? In an episode on ABC Radio tells the story of a thirty year quest to get a native plant listed with the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) – and the challenge isn’t over yet.

The discussion includes thoughts from Dr Virginia Marshall, Inaugural Indigenous Postdoctoral Fellow at the Australian National University School of Regulation and Global Governance and Dr Emma Kowal, Professor of Anthropology at the Alfred Deakin Institute for Citizenship and Globalisation at Deakin University.

You can listen to the ABC Radio National episode Recognising Indigenous medicine here.

Juvenile detention food choices study

A study of food served in a youth detention centre in SA gives insights into the place diet and menu choices make in improving or reducing their incarceration experience. A Flinders University study found general disappointment in the quality of food and the need for the child or young person to make more healthy choices, practice their culture or make positive personal choices while in custody and after their release.  

“This is the first time we have considered the extent the lived food-related experiences of incarcerated children matched the principles proclaimed in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Charter of Rights for Children and Young People Detained in Training Centres,” says Flinders University researcher Dr Simone Deegan. “The interviews at the Kurlana Tapa Youth Justice Centre revealed many of the young people found their food service a punitive aspect of their incarceration, particularly in so far as it fails to reflect cultural expectations or preferences.”  

More institutional engagement with residents to change or improve their food service would improve their experience, commencing with a review of the food offerings by a qualified nutritionist-dietitian. As well as getting youth involved in improving the quality, quantity and variety of meals and snacks in the tuckshop, the engagement of young people could then branch into learning to plan, budget, shop, cook and share a healthy meal provided independent living skills and maintain connections to culture where appropriate. 

To view the Flinders University media release Appetite for reform could be borne in juvenile detention food choices – study in full click here.

Flinders University researcher Dr Simone Deegan. Image source: Flinders University.

Final chance to nominate mental health hero

There is still a small window for Australians to nominate a deserving mental health hero for the Australian Mental Health Prize, with nominations closing on MONDAY 1 AUGUST 2022. The Prize aims to recognise the important and ground-breaking work that many Australians are doing for mental health.

This year, the Prize has expanded to accept nominations in four categories:

  • Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander: To recognise and celebrate outstanding Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander mental health leadership at a national or community level.
  • Lived experience: To recognise and celebrate outstanding mental health leadership by someone with lived experience of mental health, either personally or as a supporter, at a national level.
  • Professional: To recognise and celebrate outstanding mental health leadership in the clinical, academic or professional sectors at a national level.
  • Community hero: To recognise and celebrate outstanding mental health leadership at a State or community level.

To view the Southern Downs article Final chance to recognise a deserving mental health hero in full click here.

New process for job advertising

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: World Hepatitis Day 2022

The image in the feature tile is from the Hepatitis Australia website.

World Hepatitis Day 2022

World Hepatitis Day, held on 28 July, is an international annual day observed by the United Nations and one of the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) nine officially mandated global public health days. In Australia, World Hepatitis Day is coordinated by the national peak body Hepatitis Australia to raise awareness and promote action on viral hepatitis. Hepatitis Australia’s vision is to see an end to viral hepatitis in Australia.

In November last year The Kirby Institute released a report, available here, Progress towards hepatitis C elimination among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Australia. This was the first report to provide an account of progress of hepatitis C elimination among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as framed by global and national strategies. The key findings of the report were:

  • At end 2020, an estimated 117,810 Australians were living with chronic hepatitis C of whom 18% (21,548) were Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
  • Unrestricted access to government subsidised direct-acting antiviral therapy for hepatitis C has seen large numbers of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people treated and some declines in hepatitis C related liver failure and mortality.
  • Although hepatitis C testing and diagnosis proportions are high, findings highlight gaps in treatment uptake and harm reduction coverage, including new hepatitis C infections, of particular concern among young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men.

You can access Hepatitis Australia’s website here and download a factsheet with the latest statistics on hepatitis B and C in Australia here.

More work needed to CTG

The Closing the Gap Annual Data Compilation Report, released today, provides new information for nine socio-economic targets within the National Agreement on Closing the Gap. The assessment of these targets paints a mixed picture, and emphasises the need for more resources to finally Close the Gap in life outcomes between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people.

While targets relating to the healthy birthweight of babies, enrolment of children in preschool, youth detention rates, and land mass subject to rights and interests are on track, many are not. Children commencing school being developmentally on track, out-of-home care, adult imprisonment, deaths from suicide, and sea country subject to rights and interests all need work.

“We only have 8 years left of the National Agreement on Closing the Gap. That’s 8 years to meet every target, not just some of them. This report should instil a sense of urgency in everyone working on Closing the Gap activities”, said Lead Convener of the Coalition of Peaks, Patricia Turner AM.

To view the Coalition of Peaks media release More work needed to Close the Gap click here and the Australian Government Productivity Commission’s Closing the Gap Annual Data Compilation Report July 2022 here. A related ABC News article Latest round of Closing the Gap data shows ‘disappointing’ progress for Indigenous Australians with only four of 17 targets on track published today, and available   here, the Minister for Indigenous Australians Linda Burney said “It’s incredibly disturbing to see that a number of Closing the Gap targets are not on track.”

Heal Our Way campaign launched

Heal Our Way is a NSW Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Campaign funded by the NSW Ministry of Health under Towards Zero Suicides (TZA) initiatives. The campaign, led by Cox Inall Ridgeway in partnership with Aboriginal communities in NSW, aims to encourage help seeking from community by equipping them with the skills to have safe conversations around suicide.

Heal Our Way recognises that cultural identity, belonging and connectedness are central to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ wellbeing and are protective factors that help in managing life stressors. Dr Summer May Finlay, a Yorta Yorta woman and lecturer at the University of Wollongong, attended a launch of the campaign in Dubbo this week, where she co-facilitated a panel discussion, together with Andy Saunders, while also tweeting the news.

To view the Croakey Health Media article Connect, reach out, and Heal Our Way – suicide prevention campaign launches in full click here.

From the launch at Dubbo. Photo: Shayne Connell. Image source: Croakey Health Media.

Children sought for sore throat study

More than 1,000 children are being sought for a study to learn more about sore throats and how best to prevent them. Murdoch Children’s project lead Professor Andrew Steer said the study would investigate how many children got sore throats, what was the most common cause of a sore throat and how sore throats could change during different seasons of the year. The information collected will help inform how a vaccine could be used to prevent a wide range of illnesses caused by Strep A.

“Strep A is often responsible for mild infections like a sore throat, also called ‘strep throat’, and impetigo, which causes skin sores,” Professor Steer said. But when left untreated it can become life-threatening if the bacteria invades the body’s bloodstream, muscles or lungs, which can cause severe illnesses such as septicaemia, rheumatic heart disease and kidney disease.”

Strep A infections disproportionately affect young children, the elderly, pregnant women and Indigenous Australians. Rates of rheumatic heart disease among Indigenous populations in northern Australia are some of the highest in the world. There is currently no vaccine available to prevent Strep A and infection can only be treated with antibiotics. “This study is an important step towards helping inform how a vaccine could be used to prevent a wide range of illnesses caused by Strep A,” Professor Steer said.

To view the SCIMEX article Children sought for study into how to prevent sore throats in full click here.

Image source: Australian Journal of General Practice.

Celebrating motherhood and culture

Yorta Yorta and Wiradjuri woman Mahlia McDonald nearly didn’t take part in The Mubal and Bali Photography Program, but she is glad she changed her mind. Now her work is part of a Wodonga exhibition featuring photographs of Aboriginal women and their children taken by Aboriginal women, celebrating motherhood and tradition.

A co-partnership between Wodonga TAFE and the Albury Wodonga Aboriginal Health Service, the Mubal and Bali (Mums and Bubs) Photography Program aimed to bring Aboriginal women together to learn photography skills. It also provided a stepping stone back into the education system.  TAFE photography teacher Tania Martini said the 15-week program, in Victoria’s north-east, taught photography and editing skills while capturing images of mothers and children on country. “It was based on the concept of Aboriginal women around birthing, childhood, and motherhood,” she said.

To view the ABC News article Wodonga’s Mubal and Bali photography exhibition celebrates motherhood and culture in full click here.

This photo by Demelsa Wakefield was taken as part of the program that celebrates motherhood and culture.(Supplied: Mubal and Bali Photography Program). Image source: ABC News.

Medicare needed for prisoners

A NSW coroner has supported the idea of Medicare becoming available to Aboriginal inmates on a trial basis after a 44-year-old man died in custody from a preventable ear infection. Douglas “Mootijah” Shillingsworth, a Budjiti and Murrawarri man, died at Sydney’s Westmead Hospital in February 2018 after an otitis media middle ear infection spread to his brain, causing sepsis and neurological injury.

In findings last week, Deputy State Coroner Joan Baptie said Mootijah’s “Mootijah’s death was the result of the systemic failures prevalent in the public health system, the custodial health system in NSW and the lack of identification and appreciation of this silent killer, otitis media. Whilst his manner of death was from natural causes, this was clearly precipitated by the failure to identify and treat his ear disease whilst in custody.”

Inmates in NSW cannot receive Medicare benefits because the Health Insurance Act prevents a health service from receiving Commonwealth funding if it also receives state funding. This means inmates are blocked from receiving a yearly Aboriginal health assessment, a screening that is intended to pick up chronic issues before they progress. No similar screening operates outside the Medicare system. Jeremy Styles from the Aboriginal Legal Service, who represented the family during the inquest, said any one of these Aboriginal health assessments would have documented, recorded and discovered Mootijah’s ear disease.

To read The Sydney Morning Herald article Coroner calls for Medicare for prisoners after Indigenous man dies of ear infection in full click here.

Ruby Dykes (left) and Fleur Magic Dennis, family members of Douglas “Mootijah” Shillingsworth, hug outside court on Friday. Photo: Dean Sewell. Image source: The Sydney Morning Herald.

Wounds conference speakers announced

After a temporary move online in 2020 due to COVID-related restrictions, Wounds Australia’s biannual wounds conference is returning to Sydney this September. To be held at the ICC Sydney from 14–17 September, the conference will bring together leading experts and clinicians to share their insights and experience in working with wounds.

Presentations in the program will explore this year’s theme: ‘Time to unite, time to heal, time to innovate’, with a special focus on Indigenous health care, in recognition of the need to close the gap between the quality of wound care provision in Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities. Keynote addresses by James Charles and Lesley Salem will discuss Indigenous healthcare initiatives.

Wounds Australia Chair Hayley Ryan said, “As the peak body for wound prevention, diagnosis, treatment and healing in Australia, we are committed to ensuring that Australians receive the best possible wound care.

To view the Hospital and Healthcare article Wounds Australia Conference — keynote speakers announced click here.

Image of leg being dressed from National Seniors Australia website.

New process for job advertising

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: NT COVID-19 cases on the rise

Image in the feature tile is from the ABC News website.

NT COVID-19 cases on the rise

NT health experts say they are “alarmed” about a recent spike in COVID-19 cases, saying the territory’s infection rate is growing at a higher rate per capita than the national average. Their warning comes as coronavirus cases rise across the country, marking the start of what Australia’s Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly has described as the start of a new Omicron wave. Professor Kelly said the BA.4 and BA.5 sub-variants of the COVID-19 Omicron strain were highly infectious, and that cases were expected to surge in coming weeks.

Data shows that surge may have already started in the NT, which recorded 671 cases on Tuesday — the highest daily caseload since February and a dramatic jump from 469 cases on Monday. That’s higher percentage per capita than the national average, according to John Paterson, CEO of the Aboriginal Medical Services Alliances of the Northern Territory (AMSANT). “[The figures] make us 22 per cent above the national per capita average on a seven-day rolling average, which is alarming and concerning for our members,” he said. “So, we’ve got to seriously consider perhaps some mandatory public health measures, especially for our most at-risk population and our community members. This is alarming for us.”

To view the view the ABC News article COVID-19 cases are rising in the Northern Territory as Australia approaches a new Omicron wave in full click here.

Territorians are being encouraged to wear face masks to combat the virus’s spread. Photo: Che Chorley, ABC News.

Telehealth cuts leave remote patients behind

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) has once again urged the federal government to make Medicare rebates for longer telehealth phone consultations a permanent fixture of the nation’s telehealth scheme so that patients living outside of major cities can get the care they need when they need it. It comes following reports of a study, which found that 40% of people living in rural and remote areas had internet speeds that were less than 28 kilobits per second. This makes conducting telehealth video consultations challenging, if not impossible, given that the minimum recommended speed for video calls is 600 kilobits per second. In addition, other people are not confident using the technology or find the cost of purchasing a smartphone or laptop prohibitive.

RACGP Vice President Dr Bruce Willett  said “Removing Medicare rebates for longer consults is not only particularly detrimental for patients in the bush but also older patients across Australia, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and those with disability or limited mobility. This is troubling as these patient cohorts already have poorer health outcomes than the general population. We are effectively denying healthcare access to those who need it most.”

To view the view the RACGP media release Rural and remote patients left behind by telehealth cuts in full click here. The AMA has also raised concerns in a media release, available here, that the dropping of a number of telephone Medicare items by the Government on 1 July has left vulnerable people at risk.

Image source: Hospital + Healthcare.

Grants to improve cancer outcomes

Assistant Minister for Indigenous Health Senator Malarndirri McCarthy today announced that nine grants totalling over $1 million have been awarded to improve cancer outcomes, including three aimed at reducing the impacts of cancer on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Senator McCarthy said that Cancer Australia’s Supporting people with cancer grants will fund locally-based programs to make a much needed difference in regional and remote Indigenous Australian communities. “These grants are a step in the right direction to improve wellbeing, provide support and increase equitable cancer outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.”

To view Assistant Minister for Indigenous Health Senator Malarndirri McCarthy’s media release New opportunities to improve Indigenous cancer outcomes click here.

Cancer Council SA’s Yarning Circles provide a way to comfortably connect with the community and break down any barriers or fears that may exist with regards to cancer. Image source: Cancer Council SA website.

Remote areas lack quality drinking water

Australians in more than 400 remote or regional communities lack access to good-quality drinking water, while about 8% of Australia’s population is not included in reporting on access to clean water, according to researchers at The Australian National University (ANU). The researchers reviewed public reporting by 177 water utilities to measure gaps in drinking water quality in regional and remote Australia.

They assessed water quality performance against the Australian Drinking Water Guidelines (ADWG), which provide guidance to water regulators and suppliers on monitoring and managing drinking water quality. The researchers found at least 25,245 people across 99 locations with populations of fewer than 1,000 people had accessed water services that did not comply with the health-based guideline values at least once in 2018–19.

They also identified 408 regional and remote locations with a combined population of 627,736 people that failed to measure up to either health-based guidelines or the ADWG’s aesthetic determinants of good water quality across taste, colour and odour. Furthermore, 40% of all locations with reported health-based non-compliances were remote Indigenous communities. Lead author of a peer-reviewed paper published in Nature Partner Journal Clean Water, Dr Paul Wyrwoll said their research also shows Australia’s national reporting of drinking water quality is not fit-for-purpose.

To view the ANU media release Aussies living remotely lack access to quality drinking water in full click here. You can also access a related Nature article Measuring the gaps in drinking water quality and policy across regional and remote Australia here.

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

Cervical cancer self-screening resources

The Australian Government Department of Health and Aged Care have produced a range of National Cervical Screening Program (NCSP) resources, including videos (such as the one below), posters, brochures and fact sheets. The resources, available here include ones specifically tailored for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women:

  • a visual guide to help understand Cervical Screening Test results
  • an A3 poster to promote the National Cervical Screening Program
  • visual guide to help understand how to take a vaginal sample for a Cervical Screening Test
  • a video (below) explaining how to take a Cervical Screening Test sample if self-collection is chosen as a screening option for their Cervical Screening Test.

PrioritEYES survey participants thanked

This year in JulEye, NACCHO wants to give a shout out to all ACCHOs that completed the PrioritEYES Survey open from 8 April to 20 May 2022. The information gathered will help us tackle gaps in eye care for our ACCHOs and their communities.

80% of all ACCHOs provided a response to the PrioritEYES survey – a huge achievement and information that will help us progress ACCHO eye care needs.

We learnt, 81% ACCHOs that responded are interested in greater ACCHO ownership and leadership in eye care. We are excited to work towards this as ACCHOs are best placed to support eye and vision care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

ACCHOs will hear from us soon about the findings from the survey and what’s next.

JulEye is also a good reminder to get your eyes tested, wear eye protection, and eat well to maintain healthy eyesight.

Puggy Hunter Memorial Scholarship Scheme

The Puggy Hunter Memorial Scholarship Scheme (PHMSS) is designed to encourage and assist undergraduate students in health-related disciplines to complete their studies and join the health workforce. The scheme provides scholarships for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people studying an entry level health course.

The Australian Government established the Scheme as a tribute to the late Dr Arnold ‘Puggy’ Hunter’s outstanding contribution to First Nations Australians’ health and his role and Chair of the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO). A NACCHO News special tribute edition available here provides an insight to Puggy and his tireless efforts to improve Aboriginal health.

PHMSS will open for applications on Monday 29 August 2022 for studies undertaken in 2023, closing Monday 10 October 2022. Online applications will be available from this website once the scheme opens.

If you would like to be sent the link to the application once the scheme opens, please register for application updates, click here.

PHMSS Deadly Health Professions recipient Shaydeen Stocker (pictured above with her husband and three children) has started her RN Grad program at SJOG in Midland. Image source: Australian College of Nursing First Nations health scholarships webpage.

New process for job advertising

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: NACCHO CEO at Disability Royal Commission

Image in feature tile is of Rex Munungurr’s wheelchair, which isn’t suitable for uneven ground. Photo: Tamara Howie. Image source: The Guardian, 5 November 2019 article The land the NDIS forgot: the remote Indigenous communities losing the postcode lottery.

NACCHO CEO at Disability Royal Commission

Yesterday NACCHO CEO and Lead Convener of the Coalition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peaks organisations Pat Turner gave evidence on Day 4 of the Disability Royal Commission Public hearing 25 – The Operation of the NDIS for First Nations people with disability in remote and very remote communities. Ms Turner gave a brief overview of NACCHO’s work, the types of services provided by ACCHOs and how many ACCHOs are expanding into disability and aged care service delivery. Ms Turner noted that a third of ACCHOs are in remote or very remote locations and those ACCHOs deliver over one million episodes of care each year.

You can access the Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability website here for more detail about hearing 25 and you can access a transcript of Day 4 of the hearing here.

Remote First Nations parents fear losing kids

Indigenous parents caring for children with a disability in remote communities aren’t seeking assistance from services due to fears their kids will be taken away, an inquiry has been told. This week the Disability Royal Commission has been examining the experiences of thousands of First Nations people with disabilities in isolated communities.

Deputy CEO of the First Persons Disability Network, June Riemer, said she was aware of nine families in Utopia, about three hours’ drive from Alice Springs, with children with severe disabilities who never left the house. “For our vulnerable families who may have children with severe disabilities, they’re afraid they’ll be taken rather than supported,” she told the inquiry yesterday. “They were hidden from the community because there was a fear that the children would be be taken. There is that fear across Australia.”

NACCHO CEO Pat Turner, said data showed there were significant underspends in NDIS plans for Indigenous people. (This) demonstrates that even though our people are becoming NDIS participants, they can’t access the services they need,” she said. “This is compounded in remote and very remote areas. Many services are not available, or those that are may not be culturally safe.”

To view The Canberra Times article Remote Indigenous parents fear losing children click here.

NDIS participant Rex Munungurr (middle) with brothers Djayak (left) and Mithili (right) and cousin Ted Wanambi (second from left) out the front of their homes in the East Arnhem Land community of Garrthalala. Photo: Tamara Howie. Image source: The Guardian.

Climate change is white colonisation

‘Climate change is racist’. So reads the title of a recent book by British journalist Jeremy Williams. While this title might seem provocative, it’s long been recognised that people of colour suffer disproportionate harms under climate change – and this is likely to worsen in the coming decades. However, most rich white countries, including Australia, are doing precious little to properly address this inequity. For the most part, they refuse to accept the climate debt they owe to poorer countries and communities.

The Lowitja Institute, Australia’s national body for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health research, says climate change: disrupts cultural and spiritual connections to Country that are central to health and wellbeing. Health services are struggling to operate in extreme weather with increasing demands and a reduced workforce. All these forces combine to exacerbate already unacceptable levels of ill-health within Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander populations.

To read the Daily Bulletin article Climate change is white colonisation of the atmosphere. It’s time to tackle this entrenched racism in full click here.

Members of Seed, Australia’s first Indigenous youth climate network. Image source: Seed website.

Managing diabetes needs comprehensive approach

The RACGP, along with the NACCHO, is also calling for a more integrated, comprehensive approach to managing diabetes in primary care. RACGP President Adjunct Professor Karen Price said the college wanted to see the introduction of a rebate for GP consults that last 60 minutes. “Greater support for longer consultations and GP-led team care will make a huge difference for people with chronic conditions,” she said. Additional investment in the Workforce Incentive Program, Professor Price said, could also help boost multidisciplinary care for people with diabetes.

NACCHO called for continued funding for the Integrating Pharmacists within ACCHOs to Improve Chronic Disease Management, better known as the IPAC project. It has recently been described by the Medical Services Advisory Committee as an “excellent example of an integrated, collaborative, patient-centred approach to primary care”.

People with diabetes were one of the cohorts which had benefitted from the project so far, according to NACCHO medicines policy and programs director Mike Stephens. “Given the project’s demonstrable acceptability and effectiveness, it is time for government to provide a sustained investment in integrating pharmacists into team-based primary care settings, including ACCHOs,” he said.

You can view The Medical Republic article Why can’t GPs approve glucose monitors? in full here.

Image source: Medical Journal of Australia.

Healthy diets can drain half of regional incomes

Research by Deakin University has found that healthy diets can cost as much as 50% of the disposable income of Australians living in rural and remote areas (including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander groups) because of rampant inflation. The study by Deakin’s Institute for Health Transformation found that before the COVID-19 pandemic, healthy diets cost a low-income family of four about one-quarter to one-third of their income (after tax).

One in four Australians indicated that grocery shopping had a big financial impact on their household budgets. The increased costs were due to global economic factors, supply chain and global shipping issues, the war in Ukraine, labour shortages, and severe weather events. The researchers found the prices of vegetables, particularly lettuce, broccoli and tomato have soared over the past few years.

To view The Canberra Times article Deakin researchers find healthy diets can drain as much as half of rural and remote community incomes in full click here.

Wirrimanu resident Ronald Mosquito says the community has few other options but to pay the prices. Image source: SBS News.

What VTP will mean for First Nations health

Dean Parkin will join the AMA National Conference live from the Garma festival in remote Arnhem Land. The From the Heart Director will speak to doctors about what a voice to parliament (VTP) will mean for Indigenous health and take questions from attendees. Mr Parkin is from the Quandamooka peoples of Minjerribah (North Stradbroke Island) in Queensland and was closely involved in the process that resulted in the historic Uluru Statement From The Heart. The Voice to Parliament was proposed in the From the Heart statement and endorsed by the AMA in 2018.

The Federal Government has committed to a referendum to establish an Indigenous Voice to Parliament in its first term. In his role Mr Parkin continues to advocate for constitutional and structural reform to enable that establishment. He will join the AMA National Conference via video link from the annual celebration of Yolngu culture to discuss what a Voice to Parliament requires and the contribution it can make to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health.

To read the Mirage article From Heart director to address national conference in full click here.

Image source: The Conversation.

VIC regional child and family program launch

Victoria’s peak child and family services body launched a travelling regional program this week, aiming to link like minded organisations within the sector, and share knowledge. The Centre for Excellence in Child and Family Welfare’s Connecting Communities Regional Tour is designed to strengthen their members’ and partners’ grasp on the unique challenges country Victorian families, children and young people experience. It’s also a chance for the Centre to hear from those working in the child and family services sector, to share ideas, start conversations, and strive to problem-solve.

Ballarat was the first stop, with local expert panellists including Child and Family Services Ballarat CEO Wendy Sturgess, Grampians Public Health Unit medical director Rosemary Aldrich, and Ballarat and District Aboriginal Co-operative CEO Karen Heap. “This forum demonstrates a genuine commitment by the Victorian Government to listen to the community about the issues that affect our sector,” Ms Sturgess said. “We would be encouraging anyone who has an interest or works in the child and family services sector to take this opportunity to amplify the voice of regional Victoria directly to the key decision makers at a State level.”

To read the Ballarat Times article Children and families focus for tour in full click here.

Image source: Law Society of NSW Journal Online.

New process for job advertising

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: NT mob 80%+ less Medicare funding

NT mob 80%+ less Medicare funding

Medicare, Australia’s universal health insurance scheme, provides financial protection against the cost of medical bills, and makes public hospital care available without any charge to the patient. For the large majority of Australians in urban settings, it is a brilliant system – providing subsidised access to care. But subsidised access is only useful for those who have access. If there is no doctor nearby, there is nothing to subsidise. This creates a huge inequity – most of Australia has good access to doctors, but the NT does not.

NT residents receive roughly 30% less Medicare funding per capita than the national average (A$648 compared with A$969). The gap is worse for First Nations Australians in the NT, who attract only 16% of the Medicare funding of the average Australian. The inequitable funding is even worse when the poorer health status of First Nations Australians and the additional costs associated with geographical remoteness are taken into account. Despite Medicare’s intended universality, the NT is systematically disadvantaged.

People in the Territory have poorer access to primary health care, which includes GP services and those provided by Aboriginal community-controlled health services. Aboriginal health services receive some special additional funding separate from the Medicare-billing funding. However, even with that extra funding, there is still a shortfall  to NT residents of about A$80 million each year.

To view The Conversation article First Nations people in the NT receive just 16% of the Medicare funding of an average Australian click here.

Photo: Shutterstock. Image source: The Conversation.

Comprehensive truth-telling project

The most comprehensive truth-telling project in Australian history is documenting every law and policy that has targeted or had a disproportionate impact – deliberate and accidental – on Indigenous people since 1788 commencing with NSW. “Towards Truth” is the first attempt to chronicle in forensic, legal detail the story of how Australian governments and institutions have touched every aspect of the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

The interactive database The interactive database has drawn on the pro-bono skills of legal researchers from some of Australia’s top law firms to document the story of colonisation in NSW. Pioneered by Professors Megan Davis and Gabrielle Appleby, two constitutional lawyers from UNSW Law involved in the Uluru Statement from the Heart, the Public Interest Advocacy Centre and the University of NSW’s Indigenous Law Centre are creating the database and website to tell the story of how dispossession has occurred methodically under the rule of law.

Towards Truth’s project coordinator is 30-year-old lawyer Corey Smith, a Ngemba man whose work on the database helped him understand in vivid detail the pressures on his own great grandmother May Biles not to be proud of her Aboriginality. May lived in Brewarrina at a time when the NSW government exempted Aboriginal people from the draconian restrictions of the Aborigines Protection Act if they could prove they did not speak their language or associate with other Aboriginal people. “It meant access to publicly-funded health, education and housing,” Mr Smith said.

To view The Australian article Facing the truth about Indigenous Australians in full click here.

Indigenous lawyer Corey Smith. Photo: John Feder. Image source: The Australian.

AMA election health report card

The AMA’s election health report card released yesterday, gives Australians an overview of each of the major parties’ health commitments made during the campaign so far. AMA President Dr Omar Khorshid said healthcare, for good reason, had been one of the major concerns of the public during the election campaign, but despite this neither major party had committed to a public hospital funding model which would help alleviate the enormous stress on the hospital system.

“The AMA’s logjam campaign has called on Government and Opposition to commit to a new hospital funding agreement with State Governments, aimed at addressing the crisis of ambulance ramping, overloaded emergency departments and delayed essential surgery,” he said. “But the lack of commitment to the necessary $20.5 billion investment is disappointing as the incoming PM, whoever it may be, will be forced to negotiate a new agreement with States regardless.

To view the AMA’s media release AMA releases its election report card in full click here.

Lifting of alcohol bans “disgraceful”

Booze will be allowed back into hundreds of NT remote Indigenous communities under “disgraceful” new laws replacing Intervention-era alcohol bans. The NT government says its amended liquor laws, which were passed by parliament late on Tuesday this week, will give communities “greater power” to choose if they want alcohol restrictions when a commonwealth law expires in July.

But social service groups say the legislation is disappointing, disgraceful, and lacks integrity. “The passing of this legislation before any consultation has been done with Aboriginal communities and against the advice of Aboriginal community controlled organisations in the NT is disgraceful,” NT Council of Social Service chief executive Deborah Di Natale says. “At best the government’s process around these significant liquor changes, lacks integrity.”

Under the law, communities must choose to remain alcohol free. If they don’t there will be no alcohol restrictions or bans when the commonwealth law expires on 17 July this year. The Northern Land Council called on the NT government to withdraw the legislation and consult with health experts and Indigenous groups. “For us this is about our lives and our people,” chair Samuel Bush-Blanasi said. “The government has to take time to listen to the concerns of our health professionals and community leaders when they are making these important decisions that affect our mob out bush.”

To view the The West Australian article NT laws replacing remote booze ban slammed click here.

Image source: news.com.au.

Optimising health checks research

UNSW Sydney researchers will receive $4.7 million in funding from the NSW government for prevention research in infectious diseases, drug and alcohol use and primary health care.

The funding, announced as part of NSW Health’s Prevention Research Support Program (PRSP), is designed to support NSW research organisations conducting prevention and early intervention research that aligns with NSW Health priorities. The program supports research infrastructure and strategies to build research capability and translate evidence from research into policy and practice.

A team of researchers at The Kirby Institute at UNSW have been awarded $1.8 million to undertake research aimed at preventing people acquiring a range of infectious diseases, including:

  • Developing capacity for the evaluation of HIV prevention interventions implemented within clinics and community settings
  • Monitoring and evaluation of hepatitis C elimination
  • Organising and co-designing HPV immunisation services with students with disabilities
  • Community led models to optimise the uptake of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health checks and embed syphilis testing.

“The Kirby Institute has a strong track record of impactful prevention and early intervention research, including scale-up of HIV prevention programs, research to prevent STIs among young Aboriginal people and studies to prevent the spread of hepatitis C in prisons,” the Kirby Institute’s Director, Professor Anthony Kelleher, said.

To view UNSW Sydney Newsroom article UNSW receives $4.7m to pursue health prevention research click here.

Image: Shutterstock, UNSW Sydney website.

Protecting mob this winter

The NSW Government has produced a range of COVID-19 and flu information resources specifically for Aboriginal communities

You can access the resources, including the video below here.

Concerns over lack of gender-affirming care

The Australian Medical Students’ Association (AMSA) is extremely disappointed with recent comments made by members of the federal government regarding the trans and gender diverse community. AMSA expresses deep concern over the stigmatising representations of the trans community in the political debate, a lack of gender-affirming care in political statements and the disregard for the mental health of trans and gender diverse communities.

“Gender affirming care is not a matter of personal belief or subjective concern – it is a matter of access to evidence-based, patient-centred healthcare,” said Flynn Halliwell today, Chair of AMSA Queer. “Not only is the ‘concern’ purported by our politicians regarding children’s access to gender affirming surgery stigmatising, but it is also factually incorrect,” continued Mr Halliwell. In Australia, genital surgery is only available to adults over the age of 18 years old [1].

“Trans and gender diverse people are continually being framed as talking points for political attention, without consideration of subsequent effects on the mental health and wellbeing of these communities. Publicly debating the validity of gender-affirming healthcare is not the solution. It is part of the problem.”

To view the AMSA media release in full click here.

Image source: University of Florida website.

New process for job advertising

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: NHLF’s vision: health system free of racism

feature tile text 'national health leadership forum wants range of issues elevated in national debate' Sunrise health worker with stethoscope checking patient's heart

Image is feature tile is of Sunrise Health Service healthcare worker Desleigh Shields. Photo: Alexia Attwood, ABC News.

NHLF’s vision: health system free of racism

The National Health Leadership Forum (NHLF), a collective partnership of 13 national organisations, including NACCHO, who represent a united voice on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and wellbeing with expertise across service delivery, workforce, research, healing and mental health and social and emotional wellbeing, is calling for a range of issues to be elevated in the national debate.

NHLF Chairperson Donna Murray wants the Australian health system to be free of racism and inequality, and for all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to have access to health services that are effective, high quality, appropriate and affordable. The NHLF is advocating for system-wide investment in the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan, including on monitoring and reporting on the Plan’s implementation, as well as system-wide investment approach for the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workforce Strategic Framework and Implementation Plan.

The NHLF wants genuine needs-based funding investment in social determinants of health that have greatest impact on health outcomes – primary health care, housing, education, justice and law reform, climate change, aged care and disability service, Indigenous rights, and social justice. The NHLF also asserts the importance of the cultural determinants of health, and calls for investment and support that recognises their importance to improved health and wellbeing as determined by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, their knowledges and perspectives.

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

Workplace discrimination ‘utterly unacceptable’

The Australian Indigenous Doctors’ Association (AIDA) is calling for urgent systemic and cultural reform within the health sector, following the 2021 Medical Training Survey results that found Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander trainee doctors had experienced higher levels of bullying, discrimination and harassment – including racism – compared to their non-Indigenous colleagues. While the latest Survey results from 2021 found that trainees in general continued to experience bullying, harassment and discrimination, it also found that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander trainees had been disproportionately impacted.

The Survey results showed that “52% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander trainees reported experiencing and/or witnessing bullying, harassment and/or discrimination (compared with 35% of trainees nationally), and 49% reported a moderate or major impact on their training (compared with 38% nationally). “While these numbers are deeply disturbing, to us, they are also not surprising,” said Monica Barolits-McCabe, CEO of AIDA. “We have known that harassment and discrimination, especially racism, has been adversely impacting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander doctors and medical students throughout their medical journey. This is utterly unacceptable,” she said.

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

Victoria to build 400 Aboriginal homes

The Victorian government have announced it will set aside $150 million to build the homes through various Aboriginal grants programs, helping to combat homelessness among First Nations people. One in six Aboriginal Victorians require homelessness assistance and are ten times more likely to contact these services than other residents, according to the Victorian Aboriginal Health Service’s 2021 annual report. “Having a home means security, stability and staying safe,” Housing Minister Richard Wynne said in a statement. Aboriginal households on the Victorian Housing Register will be eligible for the new grants, which open for applications in early May.

Minister for Aboriginal Affairs Gabrielle Williams said the extra money would go a long way to fostering self-determination and culturally safe housing options for Aboriginal Victorians. “When First Nations Victorians manage their own affairs, such as housing, we know outcomes are better for everyone,” she said. The new grants are on top of $35 million to upgrade existing Aboriginal housing as part of the state’s $5.3 billion Big Housing Build scheme. Under the plan, 12,000 new social and affordable homes were expected to be built over a four-year span in a bid to boost the state’s housing supply by 10%.

The projects, located across 38 local government areas, ranged from a 152-home development in Melbourne to several two-home developments in regional areas including Ballarat, Bendigo Shepparton, Wodonga and Warrnambool. The state government is chipping in $740 million to the scheme, with the rest of the bill footed by 22 community housing agencies.

To view Minister Wynne’s media release click here.

homeless man lying on bench

Victoria has launched a plan to help overcome the high rate of homelessness among aboriginal people. Photo: AAP. Image source: 7 News.

My Health Record booster reminders

My Health Record was upgraded in January 2022 with the following COVID-19 information.

COVID-19 booster reminders for consumers
This release includes booster alerts and notifications for eligible consumers and nominated representatives (currently those 18 and over who have completed their primary course of vaccines). A new booster tile on the COVID-19 dashboard shows the recommended booster date.

One month before the recommended booster date, consumers will:

  • see an on-screen alert on their Record Home page and Immunisation page
  • get an SMS or email notification about their recommended booster date (for those who have set up notifications).

The recommended booster date is calculated by My Health Record based on Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation’s (ATAGI) recommended time until a booster (currently 3 months after completion of primary course, based on this ATAGI statement).

This release also removes on-screen due/overdue COVID-19 vaccination alerts that were showing for consumers with a recorded medical contraindication to COVID-19 vaccines.

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.tile text 'check your booster due date in My Health Record - My Health Record' & form with title 'COVID-19 vax dashboard'

Impacts of short-term ACCHO staffing

Access to high-quality primary healthcare is limited for remote residents in Australia. Increasingly, remote health services are reliant on short-term or ‘fly-in, fly-out/drive-in, drive-out’ health workforce to deliver primary healthcare. A key strategy to achieving health service access equity, particularly evident in remote Australia, has been the development of ACCHOs

A recently published journal article, Understanding and responding to the cost and health impact of short-term health staffing in remote and rural Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled health services: a mixed methods study protocol describes how, a new study aims to generate new knowledge about (1) the impact of short-term staffing in remote and rural ACCHOs on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities; (2) the potential mitigating effect of community control; and (3) effective, context-specific evidence-based retention strategies.

The study will compare the effects of two distinct PHC governance models and thereby contribute to the development of evidence-based workforce strategies to stabilise the remote and rural health workforce and improve access to essential PHC services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in rural and remote areas.

To view the article in full click here.

Utju (Areyonga), one of the remote clinics in Central Australia

Utju (Areyonga), one of the remote clinics in Central Australia. Image source: Flinders University.

Dementia in cities as high as in rural areas

Studies have shown that Aboriginal Australians living in remote areas of the country are disproportionately affected by dementia, with rates approximately double those of non-Indigenous people. A new study shows that Aboriginal Australians living in urban areas also have similar high rates of dementia.

“Given that the majority of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples now live in urban areas, these results are critically important,” said study author Louise M. Lavrencic, Ph.D., of Neuroscience Research Australia in Sydney. “Aboriginal Australians have among the highest rates of dementia in the world, so we looked at some of the potential risk factors that may be facing this population.”

To view the Medical Xpress article in full click here.

elderly Aboriginal lady's hands folded in lap

Image source: myDr Tonic Media Network.

Aboriginal Employment Strategy turns 25

Starting the year off strong, the Aboriginal Employment Strategy (AES) are celebrating their 25 years in operation, kicking off as major sponsors of the NRL Indigenous All Stars game in Sydney 12 February. Proud Murri and South Sea Islander woman and CEO of Aboriginal Employment Strategy, Kristy Masella said it was about celebrating the success of working together.

“We are so proud. It is not only an achievement for us as an organisation, but a reflection of the partnership approach that has gotten us to this point. Working in collaboration with community and employers to create career opportunities. That’s at the heart of what we do at AES, and as a result we are deadly, together,” Kristy said.

The AES works with more than 550 employers across Australia each year to create career opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians. 16 regionally based offices across four states and territories, work locally to support more than 1,150 career opportunities each year. Part of the approach is working with the employer to support cultural competency and understanding, and helping individuals develop skills and capabilities they need for career success.

To view the A media release in full click here.

test 'aes 25 years we deadly together' within white circle, background radiating black lines with red, yellow, blue, orange, green fill between

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.

International CHD Awareness Month

February is International Child Heart Disease Awareness Month….. childhood heart disease (CHD) is a global issue!

CHD covers a wide range of conditions, including acquired heart conditions such as Rheumatic Fever and Kawasaki’s Disease, not just congenital heart disease.

For further information you can access the HeartKids website here.

baby with nasal tube, long scar down chest, bead string with name Leon

Leon aged 6 months. Image source: Heart Kids website.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Permanent telehealth to strengthen health system

Feature tile - Tue 14.12.21 - Permanent telehealth

PLEASE NOTE: the last date for this publication this year is Wednesday 15 December 2021 – the publication will start again in the new year from 18 January 2022.

Photograph in feature tile from MiVision – Delivering telehealth in Western Australia.

Permanent telehealth to strengthen health system

In a media release published yesterday 13 December 2021 by the Australian Government, telehealth will become a permanent feature of primary health care, which has been transformational to health care delivery and underpinned much of the Government’s successful COVID-19 response.

The Morrison Government is providing $106 million over four years to support permanent telehealth services, ensuring greater flexibility to patients and doctors for the delivery of health care; allowing GPs, specialists, and allied health professionals to continue to consult with their regular patients by phone or online.

The AMA says the health of all Australians will benefit from the availability of telehealth.

AMA President Dr Omar Khorshid said telehealth also improved access to healthcare for people who found it difficult to take time off work; could not leave children or people they were caring for and who live out of town and away from their GP or non-GP specialist.

You can  read the AMA media release here and the Department of Health’s media release here.

Jigalong patient and carer being supported by Stephen Copeland, optometrists. Image credit: mivision.com.au

Jigalong patient and carer being supported by Stephen Copeland, optometrists via telehealth. Image credit: mivision.com.au

Urgency to contain Katherine and Big Rivers outbreak

In a media release published by The Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance Northern Territory (AMSANT) yesterday 13 December 2021, AMSANT expressed alarm and deep concern at the rapidly increasing numbers of cases stemming from the Katherine COVID-19 outbreak and its spread into communities in the surrounding regions.

“AMSANT is today calling on the NT Government to take immediate steps to strengthen their response to this continuing crisis”, AMSANT Chief Executive officer, John Paterson, said.

“We acknowledge the very good job that the NT Government has done in responding to the outbreaks in Robinson River, Binjari and Rockhole, however, subsequent measures to contain the Katherine outbreak have been unsuccessful.”

“News of a likely positive case in Timber Creek and multiple positive wastewater results appearing in numerous remote communities underscores the growing and urgent need for a stronger response,” Paterson said.

You can read the AMSANT media release here.

Possible positive COVID-19 case in Timber Creek

A possible positive COVID-19 case was recorded in Timber Creek yesterday and is being re-tested to confirm the result. Image source: CareFlight, ABC News.

Importance of timely COVID-19 booster vaccination

The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) states that the COVID-19 vaccines used in Australia are critical in protecting against COVID-19 due to all variants, including the newly emerged Omicron variant. Given the likelihood of ongoing transmission of both Omicron and Delta variants, ATAGI recommends COVID-19 booster vaccination for anyone aged 18 and older who completed their primary course of COVID-19 vaccination 5 or more months ago.

Timely receipt of a booster dose is particularly important for people with increased exposure risk (e.g. occupational risk or outbreak areas) or who have risk factors for severe disease. ATAGI reiterates that a third (primary) dose of COVID-19 vaccine is also recommended for anyone with immunocompromising conditions, a minimum of two months after their second dose.

Either Comirnaty (Pfizer) or Spikevax (Moderna) are recommended for use as a booster vaccine, and are considered equally acceptable. The Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, has been provisionally approved for use as a COVID-19 booster vaccine in people aged 18 years and older by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) as of 12 December 2021.

You can read the ATAGI statement on the Omicron variant and timing of COVID-19 booster vaccination here, and you can read the ATAGI recommendations on the use of Moderna as a COVID-19 booster vaccine here.

COVID-19 Dose One vial, Dose Two vial & Booster vial - ticks on first two doses

Image source: NIH Director’s Blog.

10-year preventive health strategy plan

Yesterday 13 December 2021, the Australian Government launched the National Preventive Health Strategy, a 10-year plan to improve the health and wellbeing of all Australians at all stages of life. The Strategy seeks to improve Australia’s health system, fundamentally focused on the treatment of illness and disease, by increasing the focus on prevention – from illness to wellness, and from healthcare to health.

Chronic conditions are the leading cause of ill health and death in Australia and account for 87% of deaths. The Strategy recognises that around 38% of the chronic disease burden could be prevented through a reduction in modifiable risk factors such as obesity, physical inactivity and the use of alcohol, tobacco and other drugs. This figure rises to be 49% for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

The Strategy identifies 7 key system enablers that will be integral to creating long-term, sustainable changes to the health system for all Australians, outlining seven focus areas that require critical action to reduce the risks of poor health and disease:

  • nutrition
  • physical activity
  • tobacco
  • immunisation
  • cancer screening
  • alcohol and other drug use;
  • and mental health.

You can read the Government Department of Health‘s media release here.
The National Preventive Health Strategy can be downloaded here.

National Preventive Health Strategy 2021-2030

Tracking progress in First Nations’ health

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) has published a data visualisation tool for tracking progress against the 20 Implementation Plan goals for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan 2013–2023. It presents data for each of the 20 goals, and assesses progress against the goals at the national level.

Of the 14 goals for which updates were available, 5 were on track, 6 were not on track and 3 were not assessed.

Some of the key findings:

  • In 2019, 64% of Indigenous mothers had antenatal care in the first trimester and 89% attended 5+ antenatal visits.
  • The proportion of Indigenous Australians aged 15–17 who had never smoked increased from 61% in 2002 to 85% in 2018–19.
  • In 2020, 97% of Indigenous children aged 5 were fully immunised, compared with 95% of other children.

You can read more about the AIHW tracking progress here and you can view the report here.
View the Implementation Plan for the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan 2012-2023 here.

Exciting opportunity for Aboriginal health students

Aboriginal health students across the Northern Territory can now apply for the 2022 NT Health Aboriginal Cadetship Program. The Program is a key ‘entry to practice’ initiative for NT Health to achieve greater representation of tertiary educated Aboriginal employees and increase Aboriginal health professionals in our workforce.

NT Health currently supports five cadets and will offer a sixth space in the 2022 intake.

The program assists eligible NT Aboriginal students undertaking their first undergraduate degree or postgraduate studies to gain professional health qualifications in skill shortage areas. Additionally, the program provides work placement and experience within NT Health.

The program is funded by NT Health and will provide successful cadets with:

  • Study allowance of up to $1200 per fortnight whilst engaged in full time studies
  • Book allowance of up to $1000 per year
  • An incentive payment of up to $4000 per year
  • 12 weeks paid on the job work placement during the university major academic breaks.

NT Health has a dedicated Aboriginal Workforce Development unit that administers the program. The unit’s staff will provide ongoing mentoring and support to the cadets for the term of their cadetship.

You can read the media release by NT Minister for Health Natasha Fyles here.
Further cadetship information can be found on the NT Health website.

NT Health Aboriginal Cadetship Program. Image Source: NT Health Facebook page.

NT Health Aboriginal Cadetship Program. Image Source: NT Health Facebook page.

Covid Song – Ali Curung

Check out this great Red Dust video with a straight-up message from the Ali Curung mob made with the help of Barkly Shire Council and Anyingini Health Aboriginal Corporation.

“I don’t want to see you get sick when the COVID comes in quick. We gotta get the jab before it’s too late. No time to hesitate. I got one, two, what about you! What ya gonna do? What ya gonna do when the COVID comes?”

“Yeah, we gotta do it for our families. To protect our communities. Go to the clinic and check the facts. We’re only safe when we all get vaxxed!”

Managing inappropriate comments online

The Department of Health has created a guide that can help your service with managing inappropriate comments and misinformation on your social media channels. There has recently been a significant spike in online activity and emotion. This high level guide provides information about steps your service can take to moderate inappropriate comments and content on your pages.

You can download the social media guide here.

Word cloud - misinformation

 

New process for job advertising

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Lung cancer, fifth most common cancer

feature tile text 'almost 100 per month in WA diagnosed with lunch cancer' & image of pair of lungs, one healthy pink, one black with cancer

Lung cancer, fifth more common cancer

CANCER Council WA is using November’s Lung Cancer Awareness Month to remind those living in regional WA of the symptoms of lung cancer and what to do if they notice any unusual changes to their body. It’s important to visit your doctor, clinic nurse or Aboriginal health worker right away if you experience any symptoms.

If you’ve coughed up blood or had a long-standing cough that worsens or changes, repeated chest infections, shortness of breath, unexplained weight loss, difficulty swallowing, loss of appetite or persistent chest or shoulder pain, then it’s important to get it investigated. It doesn’t mean you’ve got cancer, often it turns out to be something less serious, though it’s critical to have the symptoms investigated early to be sure.

Remember, the chances of successful treatment are much higher when cancer is found early. Lung cancer was the fifth most commonly diagnosed cancer in Australia in 2017 and the most common cause of cancer death in 2019 according to Australian Institute of Health and Welfare data. In WA in 2018, 1,155 people were diagnosed with lung cancer and 752 people died from it.80% of lung cancers in Australia are caused by smoking.

To view the article in full click here.

Image source: Oncology News Australia.

ACT mob hit hard by COVID-19

There have now been 197 cases in the ACT’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community during the latest outbreak. 11% of all cases in the ACT during this outbreak have identified as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander.

Minister for Health Rachel Stephen-Smith acknowledged that the COVID-19 outbreak has had a disproportionate effect on the ACT’s Indigenous community. She noted the ACT Government is working with community partners, including Winnunga Nimmityjah, Gugan Gulwan and Yeddung Mura to enable culturally responsive support for the community.

CEO of Winnunga Nimmityjah, Julie Tongs, said the Aboriginal health service no longer requires appointments for vaccination. “You can just come in to Winnunga whenever you can,” Ms Tongs said. “Getting our mob vaccinated is now the most important thing we can do to protect our families and community. Remember that vaccination prevents serious illness related to COVID-19.”

To view the Canberra Weekly article in full click here.

CEO of Winnunga Nimmityjah, Julie Tongs. Image source: Canberra Weekly.

Genuine COVID-19 concerns for SA mob

Less than 40% of SA’s Aboriginal population is fully vaccinated against COVID-19, according to the latest data, prompting calls for greater protection of remote communities when the state reopens its borders in three weeks. Federal government figures show that as of last Tuesday, only 37.8% of Aboriginal people in the state over the age of 15 are fully vaccinated, while 51.3% have received a first dose.

Flinders University senior lecturer and epidemiologist Dr Emma Miller said lagging Indigenous jab rates came down to three “compounding” issues: low socioeconomic status, lack of resources and cultural sensitivity. Miller said the vaccination disparity echoes similar inequalities between Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities in health outcomes for chronic illnesses such as diabetes.

To view the INDAILY article in full click here.

Dr Emma Miller. Image source: Flinders Foundation website.

Medicare to cover case conferencing

New Medicare items will encourage eligible health providers to work together more closely to support the health of vulnerable Australians. Allied health professionals will – for the first time – be reimbursed through Medicare for taking part in case conferences to support people with chronic diseases or young children with developmental disorders like autism.

$13.7 million has been committed in the 2021–22 Budget to create the new Medicare items – in response to recommendations to the MBS Review – which will also increase the number of doctor-led multidisciplinary case conferences in primary care.

Under the change, allied health professionals will be paid to attend multidisciplinary conferences held by the patient’s regular doctor – in person, via video conference or phone –to discuss diagnosis, care and treatment plans.

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

Image source: Evensi website.

Us Mob and HIV

The Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations (AFAO) has just launched the ‘Us Mob and HIV’ website. Us Mob & HIV began as a health promotion resource (pocket-sized booklet for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, produced by the AFAO, with the aim of increasing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’s knowledge about HIV and its impacts.

The booklet provides basic information on HIV, focusing on HIV testing, transmission, prevention, HIV treatments, health monitoring, care and support available for people with HIV, as well as service contact details. Information on HIV treatments, testing and other topics has been updated for the latest edition and importantly, it provides a clear explanation of the concept of undetectable viral load.

The booklet includes a series of ‘yarns’ written by community members, designed to reinforce and personalise key health messages. Information is also communicated in visual form.

To access the Us Mob and HIV website click here.

Unique addiction-breaking prison program

52 prisoners have graduated from a unique new rehabilitation program at Casuarina Prison, designed to break the cycle of addiction to alcohol and other drugs that so often leads to criminal behaviour. The nine-month program, called Solid Steps, was developed by the Department of Justice in conjunction with external service providers the Palmerston Association and Wungening Aboriginal Corporation. It is the first residential alcohol and other drug rehabilitation program to be delivered in an adult male prison in WA.

Department of Justice Director General, Dr Adam Tomison, said breaking the cycle of addiction is critical to improving community safety in the longer term, “The program is based on a culturally safe, modified therapeutic community model. It also strengthens connection to self, family, culture and community.”

To view the media release about the program click here.

Image source: WA Government website.

Innovative aged care workforce solutions

In an ageing society, there are increasing demands for personal care workers as well as an existing shortage of personal care workers. How do we address this dilemma to ensure quality care can be accessed by all who need it? What can be done to encourage and then retain people in personal care jobs in regional and remote areas? How can we make personal care a destination career instead of framing these important roles as steppingstones to vertical career progression?

A collaborative workshop is being held from 13:00 PM – 14:00 PM Wednesday 17 November 2021 where attendees and speakers will work together to share their insights and collaborate on ideas to develop solutions to address these concerns. The aim of the workshop is to create a statement that could be used as the basis for a future roadmap for what needs to happen to attract, keep and adequately value personal carers.

You can register for the workshop here.

New process for job advertising

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

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

COVID-19 vaccine update for GPs webinar

The latest in the Australian Government Department of Health’s series of COVID-19 vaccine updates for GPs webinar will be held from: 11:30 AM – 12:00 PM (AEST) tomorrow, Thursday 4 November 2021.

At this webinar, you’ll be provided with the latest information on the vaccine rollout. GPs and all health professionals are welcome. Dr Lucas de Toca, First Assistant Secretary, COVID-19 Primary Care Response, Department of Health will chair the session tomorrow and will be joined by guest panelists Dr Sonya Bennett, Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Department of Health and Dr Tanya Robertson, GP, Yarralumla Surgery, Canberra.

When you’re ready to join, use this link. The webinar will have live captioning and be available to view on-demand via the same link within a few hours of the live stream ending.

National Cervical Cancer Awareness Week

This year’s National Cervical Cancer Awareness Week will be held 8-14 November 2021. The disruptions of the past 2 years have impacted people’s ability to access healthcare and the battle to stay up to date with cancer screenings continues. An awareness raising campaign for 2021, will again remind women that it is “Time to Catch Up” with their cervical screening. In 2020, The World Health Organisation launched the Global Strategy to Accelerate the Elimination of Cervical Cancer by 2028.

For more information about National Cervical Cancer Awareness Week click here.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: AIDA reinforces the message, get vaccinated

feature tile text 'AIDA reinforces message to ATSI communities, get vaccinated ASAP' & image of gloved hands injecting arm of woman wearing face mask

AIDA reinforces the message, get vaccinated

The Australian Indigenous Doctors’ Association (AIDA) is deeply saddened to hear about the death of a 50-year-old Aboriginal man in Dubbo who succumbed to COVID-19 this week. AIDA has offered heartfelt condolences to his family and the broader Aboriginal community in western NSW. It is believed that he is the first Aboriginal person to die of COVID in Australia.

“The Aboriginal community-controlled sector has been working extremely hard to avoid this outcome; it was the news we were hoping we would never have to hear,” said Dr Simone Raye, Vice President of AIDA. “There is a lesson from this sad outcome. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and communities must be prioritised for the vaccine rollout and other health services related to COVID-19.”

In the wake of this news, AIDA is reinforcing its message to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities to get vaccinated against COVID-19 as soon as possible.
“We have seen how infectious and dangerous the Delta strain of COVID-19 is,” Dr Raye said. “We need to make sure that our families and our communities are protected against COVID by getting vaccinated.”

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

banner text 'AIDA Australian Indigenous Doctors' Association' & aqua concentric circles Aboriginal dot painting

Image source in feature tile: NPS MedicineWise website.

ACCHO develops ‘I want to quit’ toolkit

A NACCHO member Carbal Medical Services in Toowoomba, Queensland, has developed a ‘I want to quit’ workplace quit smoking toolkit. The toolkit aims to help workplaces to support their staff in their journey towards quitting smoking.

Each toolkit includes a range of quitting aids, such as:

  • progress journals
  • tracking charts
  • useful information and resources designed to stimulate the process of enabling long-term positive change around smoking habits.

The video below outlines what is included in the Carbal Medical Services’ ‘I want to quit’ toolkit and how it can be used in the workplace.

Another resource that may be useful is the Beat Cigarette Cravings collection of 30 second videos that highlight common triggers to smoke and how people can overcome them, produced by the Cancer Institute of NSW. The videos aim to encourage Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in NSW to access the iCanQuit website and Aboriginal Quitline to help them in the their quitting journey. You can view one of the videos below.

CDU leads sector on staff vaccination

To prevent the spread of COVID-19 into Aboriginal communities, Charles Darwin University (CDU) has asked any staff travelling to and working on Aboriginal controlled land to be fully vaccinated.

From Friday 1 October 2021 all staff travelling to these areas to undertake research or fieldwork, attend meetings with stakeholders or attend events, will be required to be vaccinated. This is first for the Australian university sector and affirms CDU’s commitment to protecting vulnerable communities.

CDU Vice-Chancellor Scott Bowman said due to the University’s unique location in Northern Australia and its ongoing work and commitment to Aboriginal communities, CDU was taking a leadership role to safeguard public health. “CDU is a university that occupies a unique place in Australia, and we acknowledge this with a sense of pride and a sense of responsibility,” Professor Bowman said. “Aboriginal leaders are sending clear messages that they want people travelling to and working with communities to be vaccinated.

CDU logo & photo of masked woman holding up sleeve to show vaccination site

Image source; CDU website.

SA Rural Aboriginal Health Workforce Plan

The SA Department for Health and Wellbeing (DHW) has released a draft plan to strengthen and grow the Aboriginal health workforce as part of the Rural Health Workforce Strategy.

Commenting on the Consultation Draft South Australia’s Rural Aboriginal Health Workforce Plan 2021−26: Part of South Australia’s Rural Health Workforce Strategy, Minister for Health and Wellbeing, Stephen Wade said it explored strategies to ensure the State attracted, recruited and strengthened a regional Aboriginal health workforce.

“Our draft Rural Aboriginal Health Workforce Plan aims to increase the Aboriginal health workforce in regional areas and provide culturally appropriate and supportive health care for Aboriginal people, closer to home,” Mr Wade said. “Consultation with Aboriginal communities, regional Local Health Network leads, the Aboriginal health workforce and key stakeholders will occur across the State until October, and feedback will be brought together to ensure we can secure the workforce we need for the future.”

To view the article in full click here.

AHW SA, in office

Image source: Health Translation SA website.

Podcast: How to Change a Life 

In an episode of the How to Change a Life podcast, host Mary Bolling is in conversation with Sam Cooms, a Noonukul Quandamooka woman from the Minjerribah (North Stradbroke Island) community and PhD student at CQUniversity.

Sam explains how her Indigenous values inform both her carer role as a mum to children living with disabilities and her vision for a more inclusive society for people living with disability, in Minjerribah and nationally.

To listen to the podcast click here.

Sam Cooms portrait with trees in background

Sam Cooms. Image source: CQ University website.

Wiyi Yani U Thangani Design Committee EOIs sought

As part of the Wiyi Yani U Thangani project, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner June Oscar AO is establishing a Wiyi Yani U Thangani Design Committee for the establishment of a National First Nations Women and Girls Advisory Body (Design Committee).

Over the course of October 2021, the Design Committee will:

  1. Design a process for selecting National First Nations Women and Girls Advisory Body, design, and implementation (Selection Process Document).
  2. Provide a draft Terms of Reference for the National First Nations Women and Girls Advisory Body including draft governance protocols and a draft scope of work (Draft ToR Document).

The Australian Human Rights Commission (Commission) is seeking six First Nations women and girls with experience in governance, systems change, gender equality, culturally informed policy, research and evaluation, community development and legislative reform.

For more information about the EOI process and requirements click here.

Interested candidates are invited to submit an expression of interest here by:
5:00pm Sunday 12 September 2021.

Aboriginal artwork & portrait of June Oscar

Artwork by Elaine chambers and Riki Slam in collaboration, Australian Human Rights Commission website. June Oscar AO, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner. Image source: IndigenousX.

First Nations FASD review 

The Alcohol and Other Drugs Knowledge Centre has published a Review of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. The review states that FASD is a preventable, lifelong disability. FASD disproportionately affects Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, however, there are limited prevalence statistics available in the mainstream Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population.

The review explores the role of Aboriginal women in preventing FASD and proposes that programs that work best for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities are those that are done with, for and by the communities and their leaders. The authors of the review recommend that, where possible, federal and state governments should choose to invest in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community organisations to develop their own evidence-based, fit-for-community FASD prevention, intervention, and management strategies.

Men are largely absent in FASD interventions. Co-author Michael Doyle says, “There is a need to involve Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men in research to understand the role they can play in the prevention, treatment and management of FASD”.

You can access the review here.

Allied health follow-up services for Mob

Were you aware? Temporary MBS items are available to allied health practitioners to deliver vital health services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Australians residing in Residential Aged Care Facilities. To access these allied health services, the patient must have had a health assessment. The temporary COVID-19 MBS items are available until 30 June 2022.

To support allied health practitioners, the Australian Government Health Services has developed a customised infographic that conveniently lists the available allied health services, along with the relevant face-to-face MBS service items. To view this infographic click here and to read more about Indigenous health assessments and follow up services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients click here.

Looking for learning resources? The Health Professional Education Resources Gateway has a great range of educational resources that assist allied health practitioners to provide services under MBS programs and initiatives. To access these educational products click here.

If you have any feedback on Services Australia’s education resources, please let them know as it will help them to continually improve their education products. You can provide feedback here.

female worker with female Aboriginal elder

Image source: ISACNT website.

New process for job advertising

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

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

Indigenous Literacy Day

To celebrate Indigenous Literacy Day (ILD), the Indigenous Literacy Foundation is hosting a free virtual celebration for all Australians going live from 9am Wednesday 1 September. Through storytelling, ILD provides a window into the richness, diversity and multilingual world of First Nations peoples with a selection of short, inspiring video stories by First Nations storytellers (of all ages) from across the country.

Viewers can choose from a diverse range of over 50 stories from kids in remote Australia, to First Nations authors, musicians and artists such as Stella Raymond, Wayne Quilliam, Jessica Mauboy, Brenton McKenna, Maureen Jipyiliya Nampijinpa O’Keefe, Lahrissa Behrendt, Anita Heiss and more.

There is a special feature on the incredible journey of Stick Mob – a group of four young graphic novelists in Alice Springs, as well as heartwarming stories from remote schools and organisations such as Children’s Ground, Sharing stories Foundation, First Languages Australia, and SNAICC.

The short videos showcase the incredible range of stories, languages, cultures and voices of First Nations peoples, and the many ways literacy can be interpreted and understood.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Pfizer vaccine for adults under 60

feature tile text 'ATAGI recommends Pfizer covid-19 vaccine for adults 59 years and under' image of syringe drawing from vial overlaying Pfizer blue & white logo

Pfizer vaccine for adults under 60

The AMA acknowledges the latest advice from the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) recommending the COVID-19 vaccine by Pfizer (Comirnaty) is preferred in adults under the age of 60 years.

The AMA says the change to our COVID-19 vaccine roll out is based on the latest medical evidence and advice. “The Australian community can be reassured that the Commonwealth continues to take the advice of medical experts on how best to manage the risk of COVID-19 and target our vaccine roll out,” AMA President, Dr Omar Khorshid said. “ATAGI has decided the AstraZeneca vaccine should be used for those patients who are 60 years of age and over based on an assessment of the current risks of COVID-19 in the community.

“With very low rates of community transmission, ATAGI has decided that Pfizer should be the preferred vaccine for anyone under the age of 60. People who have had the AstraZeneca vaccine should not be alarmed by this decision,” Dr Khorshid said. “The risks of serious complications, including clotting, from the AstraZeneca vaccine are very low and Australia is now very good at detecting clots in patients who’ve had the AstraZeneca vaccine.

To view the AMA’s media release click here.

blue gloved hand holding whit swab to upper arm, presumably following vaccination

Image source: startsat60. website.

Shorter gap between jabs

On the 8 June 2021 the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) published an updated version of the administration of 2021 seasonal influenza vaccines advice. The new advice incorporates the latest ATAGI agreed recommendations on the relative timing of administering influenza vaccines and COVID-19 vaccines in 2021. The key changes in advice are as follows:

  • the preferred minimum interval between influenza vaccine and a dose of COVID-19 vaccine is 7 days (previously 14 days) a shorter interval between the two vaccines (including co-administration) is acceptable when there:
    • is increased risk of COVID-19 or another vaccine-preventable disease (e.g.) COVID-19, influenza outbreak, tetanus-prone wound)
    • are logistical issues, e.g. difficulty scheduling visits to maintain the 7 day interval
  • influenza vaccine can be given before or after any dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, with a minimum interval of 7 days
  • an influenza vaccine can be given in between their two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine
  • when scheduling influenza and COVID-19 vaccines, providers should prioritise COVID-19 vaccines for patients who are eligible to receive the vaccine now, then they can schedule the influenza vaccination

A news item providing these key changes in advice can be viewed here and the Health professional update – Updated ATAGI advice on administering seasonal influenza vaccines in 2021 can be viewed here.

Vaccination providers are also reminded that it is now mandatory to report all influenza vaccinations to the Australian Immunisation Register (AIR) (in effect since 1 March 2021).

2 images, first of syringe & 2 vials both with'COVID-19 Vaccine' text, one with red bar & '1st Dose' one with blue bar with '2nd Dose; 2nd image of vial with text 'Influenza Virus Vaccine Flu Vaccine'

Image sources: University of Oxford and Elite Medical Center website.

Canadian First Nations incredible vaccine update

To view the article in full click here.

norther Alberta Canada medical reception room, masked Kehewin Cree Nation elders pray at a ceremony marking the arrival of COVID-19 vaccine; two female elders are sitting with colourful traditional rugs across knees

Kehewin Cree Nation elders pray at a ceremony marking the arrival of COVID-19 vaccine in the northern Alberta community on 8 February 2021. Image source: Radio Canada International website.

Investment in Aboriginal education

Thrive by Five, the national campaign to reform early learning and childcare, has welcomed the NSW Government’s $23 million investment in Indigenous early learning announced in the State Budget. The Berejiklian Government investment will help increase opportunities for First Nations children to learn the language of their heritage, as well as increasing the enrolment of Indigenous children in early learning. “The science is very clear. Children’s brains grow to 90 per cent of the size of an adult brain during their first five years. This makes those years absolutely critical to ensuring children have the opportunity thrive,” Thrive by Five CEO Jay Weatherill said.

To view the Minderoo Foundation media release in full click here.

banner blue with 2 yellow triangle; 1 red square, yellow semi-circle, 2 mint semi-circles, 1 mint circle, blue background, text 'every child deserves the best start' in white text with yellow font for 'deserves' & the full stop; text 'join the campaign thrivebyfive.org.au; log circle, top half orange with text ' Minderoo' & lower half 'Foundation' to the right of the logo text 'thrive by five'

Image source: Thrive by Five website.

New CTG PBS Co-payment resources

New resources are available for GPs about the changes to the Closing the Gap (CTG) PBS Co-payment program due to take effect on 1 July 2021.

The CTG PBS Co-payment program was established in July 2010 to improve access to affordable PBS medicines for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living with, or at risk of, chronic disease, and who in their doctor’s opinion would experience setbacks in the prevention or ongoing management of chronic disease if they did not take the prescribed medicine and would be unlikely to adhere to their medicines regimen without assistance through the program.

To view the article in full click here.

doctor's room with doctor standing talking to patient (also standing); GP wearing lavender shirt with BDAC logo & lanyard

Image source: Bendigo & District Aboriginal Co-operative website.

Suicide prevention manual

Professor Pat Dudgeon welcomed 250 plus attendees to the webinar for the launch today of the Manual of Resources in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention.

The Manual is a collection of practical resources and tools that people, both Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and non-Indigenous, can use to make a real difference in promoting positive mental health and social emotional wellbeing, and preventing suicide in our communities.

To view the manual click here.

Professor Pat Dugeon sitting a desk holding hand out to computer screen, surrounded by windows all looking out onto green trees

Professor Pat Dudgeon delivering her Acknowledgement of Country during webinar for launch of the Manual of Resources in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention.

Achieving healthy, safe digital ecosystems

New research led by Noongar researcher Dr Tristan Kennedy shows that social media offers many benefits to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, such as ways to establish and navigate identity and build and maintain strong connections to family and community. But it also found significant negative impact, with 97% of Indigenous people surveyed saying they experienced negative content on social media on a weekly basis, “grounded in ways of talking about Indigenous people and racist ideas that have pervaded Australian settler-colonial history”.

Concerned that the cultural subtleties of offensive content are not readily identified by non-Indigenous platform moderators, the research identified the need to employ more Indigenous peoples in the platforms, but also in government, policy making institutions and education more generally.

The findings underscored issues raised by Associate Professor Megan Williams, about how important platforms like Facebook can be for communities and for raising issues more broadly. But she was also concerned by the “vitriol and racism” Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people face online and how their voices are missing at the table of so many discussions, and from all types of media.

A Wiradjuri scholar, Assistant Director and Research Lead at the University of Sydney’s National Centre for Cultural Competence, and Co-Chair of Croakey Health Media, Williams has talked about the need to create “healthy, safe digital ecosystems”, informed by First Nations voices and knowledges, such as the resources created to support the Stolen Generations by the Healing Foundation.

To view the Croakey article in full click here.

image of earth in box made of chains with $ symbol, fire icon & gears; text 'Corporate Capture - virtual imprisonment, surveilled & harvested, disempowered, institutionalised' & earth with tree vector superimposed - text 'Healthy Digital Econsystems - Care for Country, Self determination, Public/community interest; Respect'; Relationships; Recipriocity'

Image source: Croakey.