NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: 10-year plan to improve Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health

PLEASE NOTE: This is the last edition of the NACCHO Aboriginal Health News blog for 2021 and we will resume again in the new year from 18 January 2022.

Artwork in feature tile from the cover of the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan 2021–­2031. Artwork created by Tarni O’Shea and Gilimbaa.

10-year plan to improve Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health

In partnership with state and territory governments and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health leaders, the Morrison Government has today Wednesday 15 December 2021 launched the refreshed National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan 2021-2031 (Health Plan) – a national policy framework to improve health and wellbeing outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people over the next 10 years.

“The Health Plan is the first national health document to address and embed the health targets and Priority Reforms of the National Agreement on Closing the Gap,” Minister for Health and Aged Care, Greg Hunt said.

“In particular, the Health Plan prioritises the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled health sector and the imperative for mainstream health services to provide culturally safe and responsive care.”

CEO of NACCHO and the Lead Convener of the Coalition of Peaks, Pat Turner AM shared the following messages in a video about the release of the plan:

“The Plan embeds an integrated life course approach to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health care and prioritises our holistic model of care.”

“Critically, this Plan recognises the significant role that the Aboriginal community controlled health sector plays within Australia’s primary healthcare architecture. Our ACCHO sector is leading the way in the delivery of comprehensive, primary health care services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.”

“Implementation will enable ACCHOs to strengthen and grow so they can continue to deliver integrated care and primary health services over the next 10 years,” Ms Turner said.

You can read the Department of Health media release here.

View and download the 10-Year National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan 2021-2031 here.

Watch the joint video release from ministers and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health leaders about the release here. The video message features recordings from:

  • The Hon Greg Hunt MP, Minister for Health and Aged Care
  • Ms Donna Murray, CEO of Indigenous Allied Health Australia, Co-chair of the Health Plan Working Group
  • Professor Tom Calma AO, National Co-ordinator, Tackling Indigenous Smoking, Deputy Chair of the Health Plan Working Group
  • Ms Pat Turner, CEO of the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisation
  • The Hon Key Wyatt AM MP, Minister for Indigenous Australians
  • Senator the Hon Richard Colbeck, Minister for Senior Australians and Aged Care Services, and Minister for Sport
  • The Hon Dr David Gillespie, Minister for Regional Health
  • The Hon David Coleman MP, Assistant Minister to the Prime Minister for Mental Health and Suicide Prevention

Closing the Gap Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme scripts deadline 31 January 2022

As of 31 January 2022, Closing the Gap (CTG) PBS scripts will not be available for people who aren’t registered correctly with Services Australia.

There are recent changes to the CTG program which aim to make it easier for eligible Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to access medicines. Patients from any geographical location only need to be registered for the program once in their lifetime, to get free or reduced cost PBS medicines from any community pharmacy in Australia, without the need for each script to be marked ‘CTG’.

As of 1 July 2021, there is a new national registration system run by Services Australia for the CTG PBS Co-payment program. This system is called Health Professional Online Services (HPOS). Unfortunately, not all patients who previously received CTG scripts were transferred to the new database on HPOS, resulting in some people paying more for medicines. Potentially thousands of people who have previously had CTG scripts may be affected.

In response to this issue, the Australian Government allowed all people who had previously received CTG scripts but are not currently registered for CTG on HPOS, to continue to access CTG-subsidised medicines until 31 January 2022.

You can view the NACCHO media statement here.

PBS Co-Payment Gap

Laynha joins the NACCHO family

We wish to welcome Laynhapuy Homelands Aboriginal Corporation (LHAC or ‘Laynha’) as the latest member of the NACCHO family. Upon recommendation from the Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance Northern Territory (AMSANT), the NACCHO Board approved Laynha to become the 144th member of NACCHO on 8 December 2021.

Laynha was established in 1985 and has since been providing support to some 30 Indigenous Homelands across North East Arnhem Land in the Northern Territory with a population of approximately 1100 Yolngu residents across the region, and approximately 300 regular visitors.

Laynha supports homeland communities through:

  • Yirralka Rangers
  • Health Services
  • Community Services
  • Homeland Services
  • Ganybu Housing Aboriginal Corporation
  • Partnerships with organisations in the region with shared interests to support employment and training opportunities, culture and community, and economic development
  • Representing and promoting Laynha homelands

You can find about more about Laynha by visiting their website.

Laynhapuy Homelands Aboriginal Corporation - logo

Program needed to invest in culturally safe public health workforce

In one of the biggest demonstrations of support for significant new investment in Australia’s over-stretched public health workforce, well over 500 people registered for an online symposium on 7 December 2021. The symposium brought together many of Australia’s leading public health experts in the field.

Jointly presented by the Public Health Association of Australia (PHAA), the Australasian Faculty of Public Health Medicine (AFPHM) and NACCHO, the two-hour symposium discussed the new and existing public health workforce gaps, and the actions and support required to create increased efficiency and efficacy of public health services.

Medical Advisor for NACCHO Dr Megan Campbell spoke to Adam Evans from the National Indigenous Radio Service following the symposium.

“There is a need for a national program to train up people in public health and we need to have really broad based skills in that training program. We don’t just want doctors, we also need nurses and Aboriginal health workers who are interested in public health.”

Dr Campbell also stated that here is a real need for investment from all governments to fund positions.

“It’s really important that there are competencies as part of the curriculum around Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health so that we can build the workforce within the sector but also build cultural safety of the workforce in mainstream organisations,” Dr Campbell said.

You can listen to the interview here.

Image sources: Public Health Association Australia.

Attention turns to supporting mob through QLD outbreak

Indigenous COVID vaccination rates continue to trail behind other parts of the Queensland community, and health experts say the race is now on to prepare for outbreaks following the easing of border rules this week. Health services working with First Nations people are working to drive up those rates, as are state-mandated rules that will lock non-vaccinated Queenslanders and visitors out of cafes, bars, venues and even some health facilities from Friday.

Kaava Watson is the network director for the Institute of Urban Indigenous Health (UIH) in the state’s south east. The Birri Gubba and Kungalu man said it was now too late to worry about whether the state should risk new COVID cases by opening the border.

“Our attention is now geared towards the actual work that we’re going to have to do in terms of supporting our mob through this outbreak,” he said.

“Our concern has moved to a sense of urgency — really around the things we need to do to keep mob safe over the coming months, once we start to see community transmission of COVID.”

He said that included ensuring there was access to medication, food supplies, and support if people had to isolate.

You can read the article in the ABC News here.

Sue Andrews looks through a patient list during a door-to-door vaccination drive along the beaches in South Yarrabah. Image source: ABC News.

Sue Andrews looks through a patient list during a door-to-door vaccination drive along the beaches in South Yarrabah. Image source: ABC News.

Australia must move quickly to speed up COVID-19 booster program

The AMA has warned Australia’s COVID-19 booster program is already falling behind, risking more suffering from COVID-19 and a repeat of mistakes seen overseas where we are seeing the rapid spread of Omicron.

AMA President Dr Omar Khorshid said today the AMA was extremely concerned at the lack of support for the booster program, particularly through General Practice and pharmacies.

“Whilst we recognise that the state and territory vaccination hubs have taken nurses out of hospitals, aged care, and other health settings, it is critical that state and territory governments continue to run these clinics to ensure adequate access to vaccines for Australians needing their booster shot.

“By the end of this month close to four million people will be eligible for the booster, however, in the last week Australia has only been able to administer just over 210,000 booster doses.

“The latest strain of COVID-19, Omicron, poses a significant potential risk to the population and appears much more transmissible than previous strains, so we have to pick up the pace to protect the community.

“We need to urgently reach out to the public to encourage them to come forward for their booster, and GPs are best placed to do this for many in the population,” Dr Khorshid said.

You can read the AMA Media release here.

Senator Patrick Dodson getting his COVID-19 vaccine booster! Image source: Nindilingarri Cultural Health Services.

Senator Patrick Dodson getting his COVID-19 vaccine booster. Image source: Nindilingarri Cultural Health Services.

WA on high alert as COVID-19 spreads towards border

With proximity to the South Australian and Northern Territory borders, one of Australia’s most remote communities is facing a renewed urgency to boost COVID-19 vaccination rates. As of December 8, only 43 per cent of Indigenous people in the Ngaanyatjarra Lands were fully vaccinated.

With COVID-19 scares over the border in neighbouring states, community leaders are concerned an outbreak could be devastating.

On Monday, SA Health said the virus was detected in the wastewater in Pipalyatjara, just 30 kilometres from the West Australian border.

You can read the article in the ABC News here.

In a related article, the Northern Territory has detected four new COVID-19 cases in the community as an outbreak spreads towards the West Australian border. One of the infections is linked to a cluster in the town of Katherine, 320km south of Darwin. The other three cases are unconfirmed, but Health Minister Natasha Fyles said they are very likely to be genuine infections due to the close contacts. Two of those are in remote Timber Creek near the WA border, 225km east of Kununurra, and the other one is in Kalkarindji, 550km south of Darwin.

Meanwhile, the Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance Northern Territory has called for Katherine and its surrounding area to be locked down to slow the spread.

It said vaccination rates are not high enough to be fully protective and more health workers were urgently needed in the area.

You can read the article in the Mudgee Guardian here.

The NT has four new COVID-19 cases as an outbreak spreads towards the Western Australian border. Image source: The Mudgee Guardian.

The NT has four new COVID-19 cases as an outbreak spreads towards the Western Australian border. Image source: The Mudgee Guardian.

Significant progress to Close the Gap for Vision

The 10th annual update on the Implementation of the Roadmap to Close the Gap for Vision shows significant progress has been made to improve eye care outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people but service shortfalls and equity gaps remain.

Professor Hugh Taylor AC, Harold Mitchell Professor of Indigenous Eye Health at the University of Melbourne says there is now Roadmap activity across the whole country.

Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services, Aboriginal and/or Torres Islander people and other Indigenous-controlled organisations are also leading eye care activities at regional and state levels.

“With Australian Government support for the remaining recommendations, the gap for vision can be closed and we will be well on the way to end avoidable blindness in Indigenous communities by 2025, the goal set by Australia’s Long Term National Health Plan,” Professor Hugh Taylor said.

He also notes that the increase in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leadership of eye care work, on all levels, is a crucial step towards ensuring the best and most appropriate models of care are available.

You can find out more about the update on the SBS NITV Radio website.

Reanna Bathern having an eye test

Optometrist Kerryn Hart with patient Reanna Bathern, who needed updated glasses, and works at the public health section of the Anyinginyi Health Aboriginal Corporation. Image source: Optometry Australia.

Regional statistics about First Nations’ health and wellbeing

Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) has developed the Regional Insights for Indigenous Communities (RIFIC) website to be an accessible and user friendly website, intended for communities to access data about the regions in which they are located.

The website brings together a range of regional statistics about the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and their communities. The aim of the website is to provide access to data at a local level, to help communities set their priorities and participate in joint planning with government and service providers. The Indigenous communities and Other locations referenced, are derived from the Australian Government Indigenous Programs & Policy Locations and Australian Bureau of Statistics’ State Suburbs data sets.

You can view the RIFIC website here.

Woman gently touching child's face

Image source: AIHW RIFIC website.

Winnunga News December 2021

The Winnunga News December 2021 edition is now available. In this issue you can read about:

  • Aboriginal Hero and Great Australian – Dalaithngu
  • Indigenous Woman Sues ACT Over Forced Strip Search Her Legal Team Alleges Amounts To ‘Torture’
  • Canberra’s Don Dale Moment?
  • Labor-Greens Governing Agreement Status Report Raises Serious Questions
  • Anti-Vaxxer Staff in The AMC May Risk the Lives of Vulnerable Detainees
  • Fix The System First or It’s Just A Political Stunt
  • I Write While My Children Steal Cars and Rob Houses…
  • Experience Of An AMC Prisoner
  • COVID-19 Update
  • Winnunga Christmas Shut Down
  • Staff Profile

You can view the newsletter 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 Health News: SNAICC welcomes early childhood strategy

feature tile text ' SNAICC welcomes launch of ATSI early childhood strategy' & image of Aboriginal child's hand in dirt from cover of the strategy

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

SNAICC welcomes early childhood strategy

The Secretariat of National Aboriginal and Islander Child Care (SNAICC), the national peak body representing the interests of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and families, is pleased to announce the release of the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Early Childhood Strategy in partnership with the Australian Government.

Launched today at the 9th SNAICC National Conference, the development of the Strategy was guided by conversations with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and families; and Aboriginal-led organisations and services in the early childhood, care and development sectors. “Our people know best, and this framework recognises and builds on Aboriginal-led solutions for us to continue to improve the early years experiences of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children,” SNAICC Chairperson Muriel Bamblett said.

Minister for Indigenous Australians, the Hon Ken Wyatt AM, MP, said the Strategy responds to calls for a more joined up approach between jurisdictions and service providers. “The new way of working under Closing the Gap offers a framework to have a whole-of-government and whole-of-community approach to a child’s development.”

To read SNAICC’s media release in full here and Minister Wyatt’s media release here.

cover of the National ATSI early childhood strategy

Cover of the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Early Childhood Strategy.

Miwatj Health’s vax rollout successes

In recent months, COVID vaccination rates have significantly increased in the Miwatj Health region in NE Arnhem Land, where the vaccination rollout began well before the recent NT outbreak. While uptake of the COVID vaccine was initially slow, with many community members feeling hesitant at first, further complicated by the spread of misinformation, more than 6,500 doses have been administered across the Miwatj Health service region.  

For Brando Yambalpal a Yolngu Community Worker, the key to helping people understand the importance of the vaccine was to deliver the COVID-19 story in-language, which, in his community of Galiwin’ku, is Yolngu Matha. “Yolngu people understand their language,” he said.  

Across the region, Miwatj vaccine teams have found the most successful way to boost vaccination uptake was via a house-to-house outreach strategy, visiting people at their homes to spend time telling the COVID story in their own language.  

Galiwin’ku Aboriginal Health Practitioner Wanamula Gondarra said the turnaround in attitude towards the vaccine, driven by the work of she and her colleagues, has been a total relief. “It’s amazing what’s been happening. Our people are really wanting to get the vaccine now, and it’s what we’ve been waiting for, working for months,” she said. “But she said there is still more work to be done, to make sure everyone comes back for their second dose and to convince those people who still haven’t decided.” 

The utilisation of role models including local Elders and members of the Miwatj Board, has also been instrumental in changing attitudes about the vaccine. Sharing consistent messages about COVID and the COVID vaccine in Yolngu Matha on community loudspeakers and on local radio to spread the education and importance of vaccination to their communities. 

Vaccination rates are now encouragingly high region — 83% of the population across the Miwatj region aged 12+ has now received at least one dose, outpacing the Indigenous vaccination rate nationally, which is at 74% first dose for those over 16.

collage of 3 photos top L-R Miwatj vax team Milingimbi, Miwatj public health outreach team, Galiwin'ku & outreach planning session Milingimbi

Clockwise: Miwatj vaccination team Milingimbi; Miwatj public health outreach team, Galiwin’ku; outreach planning session Milingimbi.

Climate change biggest threat to health

RANZCO has formed a united front with other Australasian medical colleges calling for the Federal Government to devise an urgent plan to protect Australians and the healthcare system from the impacts of climate change.

The call comes as the Royal Australasian College of Physicians released a report it commissioned, prepared by the Monash Sustainable Development Institute. Endorsed by RANZCO and nine other medical colleges, it paints a dire picture of the future of the Australian healthcare system under the unmitigated impacts of climate change.

Among the report’s recommendations is the embedding of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander knowledge and leadership in all climate change policy and action.

To view the Insight article in full click here.

Aboriginal woman walking ahead of controlled grass burn

Image source: Country Needs People website.

Aboriginal-led youth mentoring programs

The Andrews Labor Government is supporting Aboriginal young people to achieve their goals through personalised mentoring programs promoting wellbeing, connection to culture, education and employment. Minister for Youth Ros Spence has announced that five Aboriginal organisations will receive $180,000 each, sharing in $900,000 through the Marram Nganyin Aboriginal Youth Mentoring Program.

Programs will be delivered across metropolitan Melbourne and regional Victoria. The Aboriginal Wellness Foundation will provide mentoring and on-country cultural retreats for young Aboriginal men in the Wyndham area, while in the Glenelg and Southern Grampians regions Winda-Mara will support specialised cultural camps and programs with Aboriginal Elders.

To view the media release in full click here.

rear view of man and youth in bush setting

Image source: Strong Brother, Strong Sister website.

SA rural Aboriginal health workforce plan

A plan to strengthen and grow the Aboriginal health workforce in regional areas has been released, as part of the SA Government’s Rural Health Workforce Strategy. SA Minister for Health and Wellbeing Stephen Wade said the Rural Aboriginal Health Workforce Plan aims to help ensure we attract, recruit and strengthen the regional Aboriginal health workforce, while continuing to deliver world-class care in the regions.

“Growing the Aboriginal health workforce in rural SA is vital for delivering culturally responsive health services and improving the health and wellbeing of our Aboriginal communities,” said Minister Wade. “The development of the plan has involved extensive consultation with the Aboriginal workforce, consumers and communities and the non-Aboriginal workforce from all disciplines, with a focus on providing services that are culturally safe and respectful.”

Rural Health Workforce Strategy Aboriginal Health Working Group Chair, Sharon Perkins, said the plan aims to utilise the important skills and cultural expertise of Aboriginal people in providing health services to regional SA communities.

To view the media release in full click here.

Image source: RACGP GPNews.

Vision oration by Aboriginal ophthalmologist

The second annual Barry Jones Vision Oration will be delivered by Associate Professor Kristopher Rallah-Baker, Australia’s first Aboriginal ophthalmologist. Due to ongoing COVID-19 pandemic related restrictions, the oration will be released as a pre-recorded video on Wednesday 8 December 2021 on the Vision 2020 Australia website.

A proud Yuggera and Biri-Gubba man, Associate Professor Rallah-Baker is a highly respected ophthalmologist and is one of the founding members of the Australian Indigenous Doctors Association, a Board Director of the Royal Flying Doctors Service, technical advisor to the Fred Hollows Foundation and Chair of the Vision 2020 Australia Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Committee.

To view the Vision 2020 Australia media release in full click here.

Associate Professor Kristopher Rallah-Baker

Associate Professor Kristopher Rallah-Baker. Image source: ABC News.

Job Trainer free, low-cost courses

Gaining qualifications can help people find rewarding work in a wide range of jobs and industries. The Australian Government has extended the JobTrainer Fund to offer low and fee-free courses for eligible people from 16 years of age.

JobTrainer is a great way for eligible people to learn new skills, upgrade their skills and expand their job options. JobTrainer supports free and low-fee courses for jobs in demand in a range of industries like health, aged care and disability support, IT and trades. A range of course types are available, including accredited diplomas, certificates or short courses.

For additional information about JobTrainer click here.

Aust Govt tile text 'job trainer - what you need to know' Aboriginal male youth & woman

Indigenous aged care facility considerations

Indigenous people are highly under-represented in the Australian aged care system – a result of a lack of cultural understanding, appropriate spaces and safety. Yim Eng Ng’s study of four facilities in Queensland suggests several practical responses that would enhance aged care environments for this sector.

In Australia, the average life expectancy of Indigenous people is estimated to be eight years lower than that of non-Indigenous people. As a result of years of health disparity, Indigenous people access aged care at a much younger age than non-Indigenous people. This is acknowledged by federal government policy that enables Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders aged 50 years and over to access aged care services, 10 years earlier than their non- Indigenous counterparts. A submission to the 2018 Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety by NACCHO highlighted the under-representation of Indigenous people in residential aged care services and the lack of culturally appropriate facilities.

To view the ArchitectureAU article in full click here.

2 Aboriginal men painting in aged care facility

Kungkarrangkalpa (Seven Sisters) Aged Care facility, WA. Photo: Nathan Morris, ABC Goldfields Esperance.

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: Invest in public health before next pandemic

Feature tile - Tue 7.12.21 - Invest in Public Health Workforce now

Invest in Public Health Workforce now, before the next pandemic hits

Chief Health Officers and public health leaders from across Australia will today, 7 December outline their ideas for the future of Australia’s Public Health Workforce in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Dr Kerry Chant PSM (NSW), Prof Brett Sutton (VIC) and Dr James Smith (QLD) among others will focus their attention on ensuring the development of the future public health experts, in a forum organised by the Public Health Association of Australia in partnership with NACCHO and the Australasian Faculty of Public Health Medicine (AFPHM).

With the pandemic far from over and the next one around the corner, now is the time to plan for and commit resources to developing the next generation of public health leaders, PHAA CEO, Adjunct Prof Terry Slevin said.

“In our efforts in ‘Closing the gap’, it is essential that we strengthen the cultural safety and Aboriginal health expertise of our public health workforce,” Dr Megan Campbell from NACCHO said.

“There must be training and leadership opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and recognition of the important role of ACCHOs in keeping communities safe and healthy.”

You can view the media release here.

Aboriginal dot painting of Australia with 4 stick figures' from cover of publication

Image from cover of: National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workforce Strategic Framework 2016–2023.

Closing the Gap National Agreement – a framework for our children’s futures

NACCHO CEO and Lead Convener of the Coalition of Peaks Pat Turner AM delivered the keynote address this morning at the SNAICC National Conference.

“We have been protecting and caring for our families and our children for more than 60,000 years.”

“Before I am the CEO of any organisation, I am foremost an Aboriginal woman, the daughter of an Arrente man and a Gurdanji woman. I am part of a kinship structure where I have many reciprocal obligations and caring responsibilities to my family.”

“I say this as it is important that when we are talking now about supporting our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and families to thrive and addressing the rates of out of home care of our children, that we always remember the strength that is in our peoples, our culture and our own ways. And that we remember that it is not our culture that is the problem, as our culture is our strength and the way forward.”

“Today, I want to talk to you about the voices of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are saying about the reasons why there are so many of our children in the child protection system and what is needed by governments and non-Indigenous organisations and those working to improve the situation.”

“As part of this, I will talk about how the new National Agreement on Closing the Gap provides a framework to design and implement national and local responses to support our children.”

You can read the keynote address here.

Danila Dilba Health Service celebrates 30 years

On Saturday 4 December 2021, Danila Dilba Health Service in Darwin celebrated their 30th anniversary.

Danila Dilba_30 years

Danila Dilba has a wide range of services in and around Darwin, including a special men’s clinic, tackling tobacco and healthy lifestyles, youth support, social and emotional wellbeing, care co-ordination, parenting support, alcohol and other drugs, and advocacy.

The service is an integral part of their local communities regularly organising BBQs, sports carnivals and beach events.

During the pandemic Danila Dilba has been organising meals for isolated elders. They also have a great record in getting services to transient people with about 800 people sleeping rough in the area.

Upon request by Danila Dilba, NACCHO CEO Pat Turner AM created the below video with a congratulatory message to be played during the anniversary ceremony.

“It is a truly wonderful thing to see the ‘community control’ model that was developed by Aboriginal people at the very first ACCHO in Redfern, fifty years ago, now taken up all over the country. And it’s organisations like Danila Dilba that have been leading the way,” said Ms Turner.

Health and medical experts call for the age of criminal responsibility to be raised to at least 14

Leading health and medical organisations in Australia say they will not stop pushing for the law to reflect medical science, and for governments to raise the age of criminal responsibility to at least 14.

In an open letter sent today, a coalition of 30 health and medical organisations has called on all state and territory Premiers, Health Ministers and Attorneys-General to urgently raise the age of criminal responsibility from 10 to at least 14 years of age.

The letter outlines evidence which shows children under 14 do not possess the capacity to have criminal intent:

  • Medical evidence is clear that children under 14 years of age are undergoing rapid brain development which makes them vulnerable to increased impulsivity, sensation-seeking behaviour and peer influence.
  • Child development and neuroscience demonstrates that maturity and the capacity for abstract reasoning are still evolving in children aged 10 to 13 years, due to the fact that their frontal cortex is still developing.

The experts say alternative models to incarceration exist, and there is already an evidence-based pathway to raising the age as set out through the independent review headed by Emeritus Professor Morag McArthur.

You can read the media release here.
Read the open letter here.
You can read Emeritus Professor Morag McArthur’s independent review here.

Raise The Age logo

$540 million to continue and expand Australia’s COVID-19 response

The Australian Government has invested a further $540 million in response to the COVID 19 pandemic including significant funding to keep Australians safe, and for COVID-19 testing.

COVID-19 has had an unprecedented impact on Australians’ way of life and the emergence of the Omicron variant of concern highlights that while we have come a long way, we require robust health measures to continue to underpin our COVID-19 Health Response.

Of this funding, $492 million will be invested into measures to continue support for all Australians, including:

  • The Aged Care Preparedness Support Measures Extension
  • The Victorian Aged Care Response Centre (VACRC)
  • Support for Aged Care Workers in COVID-19 Program (SACWIC)
  • COVID-19 Indigenous and Remote Response Measures
  • The National Incident Centre
  • MBS fee for COVID-19 pathology items
  • COVID-19 pathology testing in aged care
  • Aged Care: RAD Loan Scheme

In addition, $48 million will be invested into COVID-19 medical research to explore multiple aspects of COVID-19, including vaccination, treatment and modelling.

You can read the media release here.

COVID-19 testing

COVID-19-testing. Image source: Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Services.

First COVID death in the NT

This story contains names and details of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples who have passed on.

A 78-year-old woman from the remote community of Binjari has become the first person in the Northern Territory to die from COVID-19. Her infection was linked to the current viral cluster in the Katherine region. The elderly woman who was not vaccinated died in Royal Darwin Hospital last Thursday night from complications related to COVID-19.

Before now, the Northern Territory was the only jurisdiction in Australia without any deaths from coronavirus.

“It is an awful reminder of the severity of COVID. It is a critical reminder of why we take COVID so seriously,” NT Chief Minister Michael Gunner said.

You can read the article in the ABC News here.

Binjari woman in her 70s becomes first person in Northern Territory to die from COVID-19. Image source: ABC News.

Binjari woman in her 70s becomes first person in Northern Territory to die from COVID-19. Image source: ABC News.

Connecting primary care, research and policy

Dr Isabel Hanson, a recent recipient of a research scholarship and a RACGP 2021 Academic Post Registrar, wants to combine her skills to make a positive impact.

Dr Hanson’s 2022 scholarship will take her to the University of Oxford in the UK, where she will undertake further postgraduate study in the field of translational health sciences.

On return to Australia from the University of Oxford, Dr Hanson plans to link her translational health research and policy skills with her work with Aboriginal communities, to continue advocating for an equitable health system.

“I am committed to working in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health,” she said.

“I hope in the future to work closely with Aboriginal communities, to ask them what they need for better health, and to be part of the team who does the research and implementation to make that happen.”

You can read the story in RACGP newsGP here.

Dr Isabel Hanson is passionate about giving back to the community.

Dr Isabel Hanson is passionate about giving back to the community. Image source: RACGP

Diabetes strategy endorsed

The report found up to 80 per cent of people reported feeling a sense of blame or shame for having the condition, while more than 25 per cent said other people’s attitudes and stereotypes about diabetes negatively impacted their mental health.

52 per cent of people with type 2 diabetes said people assume they were overweight or had been in the past, while 37 per cent said people made a judgment on their food choices. 26 per cent of respondents with type 2 diabetes said they had been told they brought it on themselves.

The Australian National Diabetes Strategy 2021-2030, the federal government’s strategy to identify and manage diabetes also found Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities had one of the highest rates of type 2 diabetes in the country. The strategy found Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities had recorded increasing rates of diabetes in children, adolescents, young adults and pregnant women, leading to intergenerational patterns of premature disease.

You can read the article in the Examiner here.

Aboriginal person's hands, blood sugar level testing

Image source: The Medical Journal of Australia.

New process for job advertising

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Partnership Agreement on CtG state of play

feature tile text 'partnership agreement on Closing the Gap progress and challenges; & cartoon picture of NACCHO CEO, Ken Wyatt & two others & CoP logo

Partnership Agreement on CtG state of play

The Joint Council on Closing the Gap met today for the seventh time under the historic Partnership Agreement on Closing the Gap where governments are now working together with the Coalition of Peaks to improve outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Progress was welcomed on several high priority actions to advance the four Priority Reforms and socio-economic targets in the National Agreement on Closing the Gap. Areas where the partnership needs strengthening were also acknowledged.

Under Priority Reform Two, the Joint Council agreed in principle two of the Sector Strengthening Plans covering the early childhood care and development sector and the health sector, establishing high level priorities and joint ways of building these key community-controlled sectors nationally.

“I’m pleased to see the first two sector strengthening plans laid out. These plans are an important tool for change and accountability, and the onus is now on every party to turn their commitments into practice. Our community-controlled sector is invaluable to our people: we see real change when Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people deliver services to our communities.” said Patricia Turner AM, Lead Convener of the Coalition of Peaks.

“The Coalition of Peaks are working with governments to ensure they transform how they do business and rise to the challenges set out in the National Agreement. Shared decision making, accountability and transparency are central concerns for us. We also value the independent review of progress to be conducted by the Productivity Commission because there will be things we are doing well, but also areas where we must do better. There will be lessons to learn on how we can work better into the future and invest in those actions which will close gaps faster,” Ms Turner said.

A new target on Community Infrastructure was recommended to First Ministers and the Coalition of Peaks for sign-off and inclusion in the National Agreement on Closing the Gap. This target now includes measures that ensure essential services for remote and discrete Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities will meet or exceed jurisdictional standards. This will not only help with housing standards but deliver significant health outcomes to Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander people.

To view the media release in full click here.

group of Aboriginal people, hands in air & sign Close the Gap

Image source: Their World website.

ACCHO’s telehealth use boosts attendance

When the COVID pandemic struck, the Bendigo District and Aboriginal Co-operative (BDAC) started seeing 90% of its patients via telehealth. BDAC executive director and Dhrug man Dallas Widdicombe said the introduction of telehealth services was behind the rise in people showing up. “We realised we had more people attending their appointments then we’d ever had before,” Mr Widdicombe said.

Clinical practice manager and Arabana woman Jaydene Burzacott confirmed the clinic started seeing a significant number of new patients during the pandemic due to the provision of telehealth, “We were increasing by about six patients a week, including a lot of new people for the first time in a very long time.”

Ms Burzacott says while telehealth helps make a range of health services more accessible for a lot of people, BDAC has seen a surge in people accessing mental health services via telehealth. “Mental health appointments were a really big one,” she said. “I think it really helped people to be able to talk about their mental health over the phone.

To view the ABC News article in full click here.

BDAC CEO Dallas Widdicombe sitting at his desk

BDAC executive director and Dhrug man Dallas Widdicombe said the introduction of telehealth services was behind the rise in people showing up. Photo: Shannon Schubert, ABC Central Victoria. Image source: ABC News.

Sexual health trivia a super success

Last Friday, 3 December 2021, a highly successful virtual sexual health trivia event was held to mark Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander HIV Awareness Week (ATSIHAW).

Associate Professor and Director of Poche Centre for Indigenous Health, University of Queensland James Ward hosted the event together with NACCHO. NACCHO Chair Donnella Mills gave everyone a beautiful welcome while thanking all the health workers for their amazing efforts.

There was a great turn out with 22 teams competing for pride, bragging rights and some nice prizes. After three rounds of trivia questions on HIV, sexual health and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander popular culture, sports and geography, team AHCWALube (AHCWA) took home the first prize of $1,500 closely followed team Us Mob (Us Mob and HIV). Third place went to team GladiAIDors (Miwatj).

The costumes were all amazing and after much deliberation the Chancre Sisters (Congress) took home the prize for Best Dressed. A special shout out also goes to Rachial McCahon (Wirraka Maya) for spending an hour on her Christmas tree hair. Participants were thanked for the amazing work they do and encouraged to take part in next year’s trivia.collage of images from the sexual health virtual trivia afternoon

Government response to food insecurity

The Government has tabled its response to the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Indigenous Affairs’ report into food pricing and food security in remote Indigenous communities. Minister for Indigenous Australians, the Hon Ken Wyatt AM, MP, welcomed the report and thanked the Committee for their work.

“Improving food security and making affordable, fresh and nutritious foods more available in remote Indigenous communities is an important part of improving the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people,” Minister Wyatt said. “This report has affirmed that food security is a long-standing and complex issue in remote and rural communities. It will take a concerted and coordinated effort across jurisdictions and private industry to improve supply chains and storage.”

To view Minister Wyatt’s statement in full click here.

Gina Lyons, Irrunytju WA cooking in an electric frypan

Gina Lyons, Irrunytju WA. Photo by Suzanne Bryce, NPY Women’s Council. Image source: The Australian Prevention Partnership Centre.

New Lowitja Institute Board chair

Lowitja Institute today welcomed health, education and governance leader Mr Selwyn Button, a Gunggari man and former Registrar of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Corporations, as the new chairperson of its Board.

Mr Button succeeds Pat Anderson who retired last week after nearly 20 years in the role. “I am truly humbled to become the new chairperson of the Lowitja Institute,” Mr Button said. “Having served on the board with Pat over the last 8 years, I admire the contributions she has made and will continue to make to the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people across the country.” “She has been an inspiration and hers are significant shoes to fill. I hope to do her proud in continuing her legacy.”

To view the Lowitja Institute’s media release relating to Mr Button’s appointment click here.

new Lowitja Institute Board Chair, Selwyn Button in front of large circular grass wall sculpture

Selwyn Button. Image source: Australian Institute of Company Directors website.

HAPEE free hearing assessments available

Hearing Australia’s Hearing Assessment Program – Early Ears, dubbed, HAPEE, conducts diagnostic hearing assessments to reduce the long term effects of ear disease in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, who have significantly higher rates of hearing loss than non-Indigenous Australian children.

Telehealth appointments are now available to allow parents and carers to access Hearing Australia services and ongoing support from anywhere in Australia. A telehealth appointment is an over the phone conversation where parents and carers can ask questions and an audiologist provides advice and ongoing support.

Parents and carers can choose a telehealth or a face-to-face appointment, depending on which best suits their needs. All HAPEE hearing checks are free* for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander kids aged 0-6 years or not attending full time school. For more information and resources visit Hearing Australia or call 134 432 to book a telehealth appointment.

young Aboriginal boy having hearing test

Image source: Microsoft News Centre.

85,000 NSW adults waiting for dentists

Some 85,000 NSW adults are currently on the public dental waiting list in NSW and it could be two or three years before they see a dentist. Of those, about 30,000 are in rural, remote or regional areas.
Aboriginal man receiving dental treatment

A patient is treated at the Armajun Aboriginal Health Service at Inverell. Photo: Bridget Brennan, ABC News.

Complex PTSD explained

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can arise after exposure to a traumatic event, with symptoms falling into four clusters:

  1. upsetting and intrusive re-experiencing of the trauma (memories and nightmares)
  2. avoiding reminders of a trauma
  3. profound changes to mood and beliefs following the traumatic experience
  4. heightened reactivity to and vigilance for danger.

However, there are a multiple of ways PTSD symptoms can manifest. For some, the highly distressing re-experiencing of trauma memories is most prominent, whereas for others, a persistent hypervigilance for danger and threat may be the most difficult aspect.

Previous efforts to describe a more complex version of PTSD focused on the nature of the traumatic event(s), for instance, that people with CPTSD may have experienced their trauma in childhood. This may lead to a more pervasive set of difficulties in adulthood. Others argues repeated or prolonged exposure to trauma throughout one’s life was the key feature.

To view The Conversation article in full click here.

drawing of head made of barbed wire

Image source: Mood Disorders Clinic.

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: New COVID-19 variant arrives in Australia

feature tile text 'new COVID-19 variant Omicron arrives in Australia' & image of virus cell

New COVID-19 variant arrives in Australia

The new COVID-19 variant Omicron has arrived in Australia, with two returned travellers in Sydney testing positive to the strain. There’s still a lot that’s unknown about Omicron. It has health authorities worried because of its large number of mutations. And it appears more likely to reinfect people than other strains.

But while countries including Australia were quick to ban travellers from nine southern African nations, Professor Anthony Zwi from UNSW argues this isn’t the answer. It may slow the spread and buy limited time, but it’s unlikely to stop Omicron.

Instead, he says, countries should focus on interventions that work, including physical distancing, well-fitted masks and good ventilation, as well as testing, contact tracing and isolating. And wealthy countries should support African nations that take prompt action against variants of concern, and help them boost low vaccination rates.

To view the full article in The Conversation click here.

Danila Dilba Health Service turns 30

This year marks Danila Dilba Health Service’s 30th anniversary and to celebrate this significant milestone an official dinner is being held at the Darwin Convention Centre from 6:30 PM Saturday 4 December, hosted by Rob Collins and Shari Sebbens.

The night will be a look back on an incredible 30 years and provide an opportunity to hear from prominent figures locally and nationally, to mark three decades of providing primary health care to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Darwin.

Danila Dilba has been an important part of the Darwin community and a crucial part of Darwin’s history. The dinner will bring together the Darwin community, their founding members, current and former staff as well as significant organisations locally to celebrate this milestone together.flyer text 'celebrating 30 years of Danila Dilba Health Service Saturday 4 December, 2021, Darwin Convention Centre'

False COVID-19 rumours still spreading

The Australian Defence Force is supporting the vaccination in the NT areas that are impacted by the latest outbreaks by offering COVID-19 vaccine to communities. Claims that there are forcible vaccinations are false. It’s important people get information from trusted and reliable sources.

There is a lot of misinformation on social media so it is best to talk to the Aboriginal Medical Service health staff instead and look at credible sites for good advice.

In the videos below, Thomas Mayor, Kaurareg Aboriginal and Kalkalgal, Erubamle Torres Strait Islander, from Larrakia Country, NT and Dr Mark Wenitong NT address the COVID-19 rumours including ones involving Aboriginal communities and the Army.

CAAC CMO calls for NT vax passport

The top doctor at one of Central Australia’s key Aboriginal health bodies has renewed calls for a “vaccine economy” in the NT, where access to all venues would require patrons to have two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine.

Chief Medical Officer (CMO) at Central Australian Aboriginal Congress (CAAC) Dr John Boffa said first-dose vaccination rates among Indigenous clients had improved by 10% across the region in the last fortnight. According to recent data from the Australian Immunisation Register, 72.5% of CAAC clients had received one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine in Alice Springs. In the MacDonnell LGA, that figure was almost 78%, while it was still below 70% in the Central Desert LGA.

Dr Boffa said demand for the vaccine increased alongside the latest outbreak affecting Katherine and nearby remote communities, Binjari and Rockhole, but it had started to wane in recent days. “At the rate we’re going, in two weeks’ time we’ll be above 80% first dose but it looks like it might drop off,” Dr Boffa said.

To view the ABC news article in full click here.

Influential Central Australians, Sabella Turner, Paul Ah Chee (front), Michael Liddle and Donna Ah Chee, after receiving their vaccinations. Photo: Samantha Jonscher, ABC News.

Child protection processes harming kids

Child protection processes in Australia have a history of injustice that disproportionately targets and harms First Nations children, families and communities. As a result, contemporary child protection systems and associated professions have sought to distance themselves from explicitly racist past policies and practices by apologising for their past involvement in the Stolen Generations and committing to change.

Yet child protection systems continue to operate on assumptions about race and class that increase inequalities and injustices against First Nations families. In a Queensland study published in 2018 that used data from 2010-2011, Indigeneity was found to be a greater predictor of “subsequent child protection reports and investigations than a rating of ‘high risk’ on child protection’s risk assessment tool”. Another study in Western Australia found, when controlled for all other factors, Aboriginality was associated with almost double the risk of infant removal.

Understandings of risk, child abuse and neglect are often biased in favour of white middle-class parenting practices. This can lead to over-surveillance of First Nations families, and a flawed notification system.

To view the article in full click here.

Photo: Joel Carrett, AAP. Image source: InDaily.

My Health Record upgraded

An upgrade to My Health Record last Thursday 25 November 2021  includes a COVID-19 vaccination dashboard as well as other enhancements.

The new COVID-19 vaccination dashboard for consumers brings together, in one place, information from the Australian Immunisation Register and My Health Record related to a consumer’s COVID-19 vaccination journey. The dashboard includes vaccination details, COVID-19 test results, relevant medicines and allergy information from My Health Record and links to the COVID-19 vaccine clinic finder and side effect checker.

The dashboard is easily available from a new COVID-19 Dashboard tab and can be used as a quick reference when answering questions before a vaccination or booster dose or to get proof of vaccination. You can view an example of the dashboard screen here and find more information here.

Other enhancements include:

  • Consumers can now download their COVID-19 digital certificate from My Health Record to a digital wallet.
  • COVID-19 test results are available to consumers as soon as they are uploaded (removing the previous 24-hour delay).
  • The profile page includes new fields for consumers to add their preferred language and country of birth. This is an important step to capturing cultural diversity in My Health Record. In future, healthcare providers will be able to see these fields, which may help in providing care to their patients.

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.

Prevent, test, treat to eliminate HIV

This HIV Awareness Week, and in the lead up to World AIDS Day, NSW Health, is encouraging people across the state at risk of HIV to get tested. As NSW opens up, it is a good time for the community to speak to a healthcare professional about HIV testing and prevention options available to them.

NSW Health, Chief Health Officer, Dr Kerry Chant said the state has made great progress in the virtual elimination of the virus however testing rates are down from last year, driven by the restrictions of the COVID-19 pandemic. “We’ve come a long way over the last 40 years and have many new tools to help prevent HIV transmission including effective HIV treatment, condoms, sterile injecting equipment, and prevention medication – PrEP,” Dr Chant said. “Early testing and diagnosis linked to treatment prevents transmission and enables people living with HIV to enjoy a long and healthy life.”

From January to September 2021, 141 NSW residents were diagnosed with HIV, a decrease of 31% compared to the average for the last five years. This decline was likely driven by the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and restricted movement, as people remained at home.

To view The Pulse article in full click here

gloved hand holding test tube with HIV positive box ticked

Image source: The Conversation.

VACCHO CEO to advise on aged care

VACCHO CEO, Jill Gallagher AO, is one of 17 prominent Australians appointed to the new National Aged Care Advisory Council, which will guide the implementation of the Federal Government’s $17.7 billion aged care reforms – led by a former Victorian Shadow Minister for Ageing and Carers.

The Minister for Senior Australians and Aged Care Services, Senator Richard Colbeck, noted that the new Council is a departure from the previous principal aged care advisory group – the Aged Care Sector Committee, which ended in June – as it includes operators with direct experience within the sector. “Our intention is to ensure we have strong representation across five consumer groups, including Indigenous, culturally and linguistically diverse, carers and advocacy groups,” he said.

To read the full article in The Weekly Source click here.

portrait shot of Jill Gallagher, VACCHO CEO

VACCHO CEO, Jill Gallagher AO.

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.

Decembeard/hair to beat bowel

Help Bowel Cancer Australia spread the important bowel cancer awareness message to your colleagues and local community, while raising much needed funds to help beat bowel cancer. All you need to raise awareness and funds for Australia’s second deadliest cancer killer is let your hair grow – face, head, legs, body – if it’s hair – let it grow or let it go!

For more information about bowel cancer, the Decembeard/Decembhair funding-raising campaign and to read empowering stories of people living with or beyond bowel cancer go to the Bowel Cancer Australia website here.

banner text 'this December get hairy raise funds, help us beat bowel cancer - Decembeard - Decembhair' - background to text is hair

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: ADF, NT Chief slam dangerous vax lies

feature tile text 'NT Chief Minister and ADF slam dangerous vax lies' & image of vax vials & dice with letters f, a, c, t, k, e

Image in feature tile from The Conversation, Photo: Alexander Limbach, Shutterstock.

ADF, NT Chief slam dangerous vax lies

In a press conference yesterday, Thursday 25 November 2021, NT Chief Minister Michael Gunner blasted COVID conspiracy theorists, saying he wanted to address “the huge amount of misinformation being spread online over the past few days. There are ridiculous, untrue rumours about the ADF’s involvement. As we all know, they aren’t carrying weapons — they are carrying fresh food for people.” He urged people not to worry about the dangerous lies spreading online.

You can access the ABC News article in full here and view the Chief Minister’s press conference below – his comments mentioned above can be found from 3 min 46 sec to 7 min 13 sec.

The Australian Defence Force has also rejected as lies “wild” social media claims that it’s forcibly vaccinating Indigenous Northern Territorians against COVID-19. The misinformation has been shared and reposted to multiple platforms and there are fears it could threaten efforts to contain an outbreak.

“Defence is aware of social media posts claiming the Australian Defence Force is forcibly vaccinating or detaining members of the Australian community,” a spokesman said in a statement. “These claims are emphatically false.”

To read the Canberra Times article in full click here.

NACCHO CEO, Pat Turner has commended the ADF for calling out the outrageous claims by people who are making the wild accusations without being privy to the facts. She said people need to stop confusing our people with all the misinformation on social media and talk to the health staff instead and look at credible sites for good advice.

AMSANT and Amnesty International Australia have also released a joint media release regarding ADF involvement in Katherine, NT which can be viewed here.

CEO protecting mob one vial at a time

A Queensland CEO armed with a syringe, is fighting to have Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples protected against COVID-19, personally administering the vaccine, one vial at a time. Gidgee Healing CEO Renee Blackman, a proud Gubbi Gubbi woman and registered nurse, has remained hands-on in her quest to have all her people from Mt Isa, the North West and Lower Gulf regions of the State fully vaccinated.

Renee is part of an entire First Nation contingent of doctors, nurses and Aboriginal health practitioners injecting vaccines, imparting a greater understanding of the virus, while also allaying personal fears around getting the jab. That process will again be on show in Mt Isa TONIGHT as Gidgee Healing hosts it’s Deadly Night Out push for vaccinations among Australia’s First Nations populations.

When: from 4:00 PM Friday, 26 November 2021

Where: Buchanan Park: Cnr Sutton and George Street, Mount Isa

Who: Gidgee Healing CEO Renee Blackman, Current and former Broncos players Jordan Rikki, Ezra Mam, Xavier Willison, Ethan Quai-Ward and Lote Tuqiri; Deadly Choices Ambassadors Steve Renouf and Tallisha Harden

To view the media release about this event in full click here.

Gidgee Healing Mt Isa CEO Renee Blackman

Mob hit back at vax misinformation

They rejected claims made on social media that members of Binjari community were being forcibly removed by ADF personnel or otherwise mistreated by authorities. “We have been treated with a lot of respect and appreciate all the support being given by these support personnel people,” the statement reads. “We are in lockdown because we’re in the biggest fight of our lives. We’re trying to keep safe. We’re trying to do the right thing by the community and Katherine.”

To view the full story in the Katherine Times click here.

COVID-19 Binjari roadblock in Katherine, NT

The COVID-19 Binjari roadblock in Katherine, NT on 23 November 2021. Photo: AAP. Image source: SBS NITV website.

Closing culture gaps to help sick kids

A new Curtin University study has found that there is an urgent need to develop and implement strategies to empower Aboriginal families to identify deteriorating health in their child and alert clinicians. The research, published in Pediatric Nursing, explored the perspective of family members of Aboriginal children to see if they could recognise, and respond to, health deterioration in a hospital setting.

Lead researcher, Associate Professor Fenella Gill from Curtin’s School of Nursing, said it was hoped the study results would lead to the development of a culturally secure escalation system. “Previous research has indicated that there are higher rates of hospital mortality for Aboriginal children, including due to failures in escalation of care, therefore it is vital to address these barriers,” Associate Professor Gill said.

To view the article in full click here.

Aboriginal mum holding toddler

Image source: Curtin University.

Crucial tool to eliminate Chronic Hepatitis B

An educational app designed to improve health literacy around the hepatitis B virus (HBV) has been translated to provide more than 70% of the NT Aboriginal population access in their first language. The Hep B Story App, a crucial tool in the work to eliminate Chronic Hepatitis B (CHB), a disease endemic in Aboriginal communities in the NT, was launched yesterday, Thursday 25 November 2021.

The NT has an estimated CHB prevalence of three to 12%, meaning the NT has the highest CHB prevalence in Australia at 1.77%. Of those living with CHB, 25% will die from decompensated cirrhosis (liver failure) or hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC – liver cancer). Liver cancer is the fastest growing cause of cancer death in Australia and liver disease is the third most important contributor to the gap in life expectancy between First Nations and non-Indigenous Australians.

To view the media release regarding the launch in full click here.

The Hep B Story app is free to download from the Apple and Google Play stores and the Menzies website here.

Cultural competence resources

The University of Sydney’s National Centre for Cultural Competence has produced a selection of articles and book chapters that continue to inform and shape the discourse of cultural competence nationally and internationally. This curated group of resources will be updated as new ideas and publications are encountered.

To access the resources click here.

Image source: The University of Sydney.

National Nurse Practitioner Plan

A new 10-year strategic plan is being developed to help Australia’s highly skilled and respected nurse practitioners, by enhancing the way they work as they deliver essential health care for Australians .

Registered with the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia, Nurse Practitioners are focused on improving access to treatment, and dedicated to improving access to treatment, and improving health outcomes of all Australians, particularly at risk populations, including aged care residents, Indigenous Australians and those living in regional, rural and remote areas.

As part of the strategic plan, the Government is commencing consultations for the plan, which aims to address workforce issues and enhance the delivery of patient care. Minister for Health and Aged Care, Greg Hunt, said “This is the first opportunity for the community, health providers, clinicians, and experts to make a contribution to this new plan, which will be delivered by the middle of next year.”

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

Aboriginal health worker taken child's blood pressure

Image source: Department of Health website.

Suicide prevention grants double

Suicide prevention grants to organisations across the country are being increased to help reduce Australia’s suicide rate towards zero. Through the National Suicide Prevention Leadership and Support Program Grant Opportunity, $114 million will be available for national projects that will raise awareness of the impact of suicide and support Australians who are at risk.

Specific vulnerable groups – including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, veterans, men, regional communities, and culturally and linguistically diverse communities – have been identified as the primary focus of the Grant Opportunity as these groups have higher rates of suicide than the general population. Minister for Health and Aged Care, Greg Hunt, said suicide is a national tragedy, with 3,139 Australians taking their lives in 2020.

To view the full media release 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 Health News: NACCHO CEO nervous about vax gap

feature tile text 'NACCHO CEO nervous as borders reopen but vax rates lag in some communities' & image of sign to community of Mutitjulu, NT

Image in feature tile from Angus Knight. Mutitjulu was listed on the NTG Coronavirus (COVID-19) website on 19 November 2021 as a low vaccinated community.

NACCHO CEO nervous about vax gap

The head of the umbrella organisation for Australia’s Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations (NACCHO) says she’s nervous about the country’s reopening because of lagging vaccination rates in some communities.

Pat Turner, the CEO of NACCHO, believes part of the problem is state and territory governments passing the buck to the Commonwealth, and also certain religious groups bringing in misinformation and myths from the US.

To listen to the interview on ABC RN Breakfast in full click here.

Pat Turner with Minister Wyatt in the background

ACCHOs business innovation award winners

The winners of the SA Regional Showcase Awards were announced last Friday evening, 19 November 2021. Two SA ACCHOs, Yadu Health Aboriginal Corporation (Yadu Health), Ceduna and Nunyara Aboriginal Health Service Incorporated (Nunyara Health), Whyalla won an NBN Business Innovations award for their work with New Future IT and their trainees.

Yadu Health and Nunyara Health chose New Future IT from Darwin to train Indigenous workers to cover their internal IT needs. New Future IT is an Aboriginal-owned and operated company that actively trains and employs young Aboriginal people who are looking for opportunities to work within the field of IT and have tailored their new training pathway specifically for Aboriginal health services.

Chief Technical Officer of Yadu Health and Nunyara Health said the award is amazing recognition of  the great collaboration between the two ACCHOs as well as industry validation that the work that have done holds significant value.

You can view the full InDaily news article here.

photo of Nunyara & Yadu finalist & winner awards

Image supplied by: Nunyara Aboriginal Health Service Inc.

AMSANT, ALCs urgent COVID-19 meeting

On Sunday 21 November the Chairmen and CEOs of the Northern, Tiwi and Anindilyakwa Land Councils and AMSANT held an urgent meeting in Darwin to send a strong message about the recent outbreak of the COVID-19 virus in the Katherine region, particularly at the Robinson River community in the Gulf and the Binjari and Rockhole communities near Katherine.

Yesterday’s meeting authorised the following statement for attribution to AMSANT and the three Top End Land Councils: “The Land Councils and AMSANT are confident that the NT government is taking all appropriate steps to protect the community members at the Binjari and Rockhole communities and they are satisfied with the earlier responses at Robinson River and Katherine township. The broader community in the Katherine region and beyond should take appropriate steps to make sure that COVID-19 does not spread to any other Aboriginal communities in the Katherine region and beyond. This virus is coming for us Aboriginal people so we need to do the right things to stop it spreading.”

To view the media release in full click here.

poster painting of Aboriginal hand thumbs up sign, top half of image black background, bottom half red, text 'STAY SAFE' at top & 'stay on country, care for family' text at bottom

Image source: NLC website.

Fears for chronic illness epidemic

Health groups have expressed fears the COVID-19 pandemic will move to an epidemic of chronic illness among NSW’s regional Indigenous population. Regular GP appointments were down more than half in some communities during lockdown.

The Rural and Remote Medical Services (RRMS) said 53% of its 5,000 Indigenous clients failed to see a GP face-to-face from September 2020 to September 2021. RRMS CEO Mark Burdack said the decline is entirely due to COVID-19, adding Aboriginal people in smaller remote towns avoided travelling to larger towns because of the risk of infection. “As a result, we project that a significantly larger percentage of Aboriginal people didn’t maintain their chronic disease appointments which is a serious concern,” Mr Burdack said.

To view the full ABC News article click here.

Orange Aboriginal Medical Service CEO Jamie Newman at desk in clinic

Orange Aboriginal Medical Service CEO Jamie Newman says it will take about six months to see the real impact of COVID-19. Photo: Arianna Levy, ABC News Central West.

Eye health progress but gaps remain

Significant progress has been made to improve eye care outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people but service shortfalls and equity gaps remain, according to the 10th annual update on the Implementation of the Roadmap to Close the Gap for Vision.

As a result of the work to Close the Gap64 regional stakeholder groups and seven groups at jurisdictional level have been established. ACCHOs, Aboriginal and Torres Islander people and other Indigenous-controlled organisations are also leading eye care activities at regional and state levels.

Eye examinations have increased with a steady increase in the number of cataract surgeries. But while cataract services and eye checks for diabetes have improved, there is still inequity with longer cataract surgery waiting lists for Aboriginal people than non-Aboriginal people, with waits of up to 50% longer.

To view The University of Melbourne’s article in full click here.

Artwork by respected Wiradjuri / Yorta Yorta artist, Lyn Briggs, originally commissioned for VACCHO’s first eye health program, 1998. Image source: University of Melbourne website.

NCSP guidelines public consultation

Cancer Council Australia has been contracted by the Australian Department of Health to perform an update to The National Cervical Screening Program: Guidelines for the management of screen-detected abnormalities, screening in specific populations and investigation of abnormal vaginal bleeding to support the planned policy change to provide universal access to self-collection.

This update is exclusively focused on the changes associated with providing universal access to self-collection, and as such, changes are only proposed for some sections of the guidelines. These updates are detailed in this public consultation document.

We are now seeking feedback on the update and are open for public consultation from 22 November 2021 to 5 December 2021. Comments  are required no later than 11.59PM (AESDT) Sunday 5 December 2021.

To access the document and provide comment click here.

blue plastic circle with cervix shape & test swab

Image source: Moffitt Cancer Center website.

The power of Indigenous data

Indigenous Postdoctural Fellow, Karyn Ferguson has been researching the health of Yorta Yorta ganas (mothers) and their burrais (children). Ms Ferguson has found health data wasn’t stored in one place, instead, it was spread across numerous organisations at local, state and federal levels. Siloed by different bureaucracies, Ms Ferguson said “it was difficult – to say the least ­– to easily identify and understand population health trends specific to Yorta Yorta people.”

The task of linking together all this data on maternal health and birth outcomes became Ms Ferguson’s PhD research – Gana Burrai, which means ‘mother baby’. A major finding of this research has been the power of the linkage of mother-birth records across the sites. Data linkage has enabled a more accurate understanding of Aboriginal identification in administrative records and uncovered a significant undercount of Aboriginal births in this specific population between the years 2008-2017 inclusive.

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

Linking data across different data sets produces a more comprehensive picture of health across Aboriginal communities. Photo: Getty Images. Image source: The University of Melbourne website.

RPHCM project November update

The Remote Primary Health Care Manuals (RPHCM) are currently being reviewed and updated. Monthly updates are provided to health services and other organisations to keep them up-to-date throughout the review process.

Protocols endorsed by the Editorial Committee since the last RPHCM monthly update include:

  • Infant feeding guidelines
  • Anaemia in pregnancy
  • Ear examination
  • Water-related skin infections
  • Joint problems

Secondary reviews will start early in 2022 and RPHCM are seeking secondary reviewers, especially doctors and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Practitioners who are users of the manual to check protocols are easy to read and applicable to practice. If you are interested please view the RPHCM website here.

To view the RPHCM November 2021 update 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.

Stillbirth prevention for mob webcast

Stillbirth can have a profound and long-lasting impact for parents, families, communities and care providers. Despite Australia being one of the safest places globally to have a baby, according to Stillbirth Centre for Research Excellence, 2021 for every 1,000 babies born, there are sadly six babies who will be born still. For Aboriginal mob stillbirth occurrences continue to remain disproportionately high.

A webcast is being held from 1:00PM-2:00PM Wednesday 24 November 2021 to introduce the Safer Baby Bundle developed by the Stillbirth Centre for Research Excellence (CEC). The CEC panel will explore the importance of the Aboriginal health worker/practitioner role in preventing stillbirth and how to incorporate culturally safe and responsive care into midwifery, child and family health care and beyond.

To view a flyer for the event click here and to register for the webinar here.

grey rocks, with heart shaped rock with Aboriginal dot painting on top

Image source: The Hippocratic Post.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Alarming vaccination gap

NACCHO CEO Pat Turner. Image source: NITV

Alarming vaccination gap

Pat Turner, the CEO of NACCHO spoke with Dr Norman Swan and Teegan Taylor on RN Breakfast with Fran Kelly this morning.

She said she’s extremely nervous about the country’s reopening because of lagging vaccination rates in some communities. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander COVID-19 cases has grown from 153 to more than 7,500 since Delta got into communities in June with 15 COVID-related deaths amongst those cases. Ms Turner believes part of the problem is state and territory governments passing the buck to the Commonwealth, and also certain religious groups bringing in misinformation and myths from the US.

“It’s got to be a really determined effort by South Australia in the remote areas, by Western Australia state-wide, by Queensland state-wide including the Torres Straits. And of course the Northern Territory has now got their wake-up call,” said Ms Turner.

“We shouldn’t have to wait until infections get in before the health authorities get in and start the vaccinations. They’ve got to do it now.”

You can listen to the interview on ABC RN Breakfast here.

Warmun Community member Luke Banks being vaccinated by Steph Whitwell, Vaccination Nurse from Kununurra COVID-19 Vaccination Clinic

Warmun Community member Luke Banks being vaccinated by Steph Whitwell, Vaccination Nurse from Kununurra COVID-19 Vaccination Clinic. Image source: Government of WA website.

Dubbo’s vaccine response a role model

Dubbo’s “remarkable” response to COVID-19 vaccination efforts has won praise from the Federal Minister for Regional Health and the country’s COVID vaccination taskforce coordinator. The coordinator-general of the country’s COVID-19 vaccine taskforce, Lieutenant General John Frewen, and the Federal Minister for Regional Health Dr David Gillespie visited the town on separate agendas.

“It’s been remarkable what was achieved here, particularly treating outbreaks and the vaccination rates that were just brought along so quickly,” Lieutenant General Frewen said.

“With the Aboriginal Medical Service (AMS) and Aboriginal Community Health Organisations (ACHO) stepping up, they got access to the vaccine as quickly as was rolled out in Sydney or Brisbane or Melbourne,” said Dr Gillespie.

Lieutenant General Frewen has called vaccination rates in Dubbo’s Indigenous population “tremendous”, but is aware that it “isn’t the case across the whole state, and certainly isn’t the case across the whole country”.

“It starts with engagement with local leaders and getting the local leaders on side,” he said.

You can read the article in the ABC News here.

Officials say that they want to learn from Dubbo's success to help boost Indigenous vaccination rates across Australia. Image source: ABC News.

Officials say that they want to learn from Dubbo’s success to help boost Indigenous vaccination rates across Australia. Image source: ABC News.

Current NT COVID-19 outbreak linked to earlier clusters

Patricia Karvelas on ABC’s Afternoon Briefing spoke to NACCHO Senior Medical Advisor Dr Jason Agostino yesterday about how the Genomic Sequencing has confirmed the Northern Territory’s current COVID-19 outbreak is linked to the cluster that triggered a lockout in Darwin and a lockdown in Kathrine earlier this month.

“It reinforces that even though a lot of testing is happening even more has to happen to find out where those chains of transmission has been occurring because there is likely that there are more cases out there,” said Dr Agostino.

“It’s been two weeks since those first cases were picked up in Darwin, so for it to get out to where it has, it means that there are some people that have been infected that haven’t been picked up at this stage.”

He says he takes some comfort in the fact that vaccination rates in the affected communities are higher than in many other places, which means that if we do see more cases, it’s a good chance that they will be less severe.

You can watch yesterday’s episode of Afternoon Briefing here.
Please note that Dr Agostino features after 52min of the episode.

Dr Jason Agostino COVID-19 vaccines - ABC iview

$53.3M spent to improve health sector in NSW

The NSW government will for the first time track how much it spends on specific Indigenous programs and services, with data revealing it invested $1.1 billion last financial year. The funding is detailed in the state’s first Indigenous expenditure report, which shows the state government increased its spending on First Nations programs and services by almost 20 per cent. In health, $109 million was invested, with $53.3 million delivered by the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Sector.

As part of the historic national agreement on Closing the Gap, there was a commitment from Australian governments and First Nations communities “to review and identify current spending on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander programs and services”. NSW is the first state to publish an interim Indigenous expenditure report.

“This report will become a powerful tool to provide policymakers with a greater evidence-base of expenditure to inform future resource allocation decisions,” said Treasurer Matt Kean.

“This first phase of the Indigenous expenditure report will assist us in building up the community-controlled sector which is improving the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people,” said Minister for Aboriginal Affairs Don Harwin.

You can read the article in The Sydney Morning Herald here.
You can view the 2021-22 NSW Government Interim Indigenous Expenditure Report here.

Rapid Antigen Testing in the NT

In a media release by the Northern Territory Minister for Health Natasha Fyles, Rapid Antigen Testing and Distribution points has been unveiled as travel restrictions come into effect for remote communities with vaccination rates below 70%.

Top End testing and distribution points will be located at the Royal Darwin Hospital Pandemic Clinic (open 8.30am to 4pm). In Alice Springs, the Pandemic Coordination Centre will be located at 44 Bath Street (open 8am-4pm Monday to Friday).

Negative Rapid Antigen test results are required 72 hours or less for anyone who intends to travel to a remote community with a first dose vaccination rate below 70%. Following completion of a Rapid Antigen Test at a testing and distribution point, a copy of the result will be sent via SMS or a printed copy can be collected if required. This can be used as proof of a negative test.

Rapid Antigen Tests can also be completed at home or at work.

You can read the Media Release by the Northern Territory Minister for Health Natasha Fyles here.

Rapid Antigen Testing. Image source NT Health's Facebook page.

Rapid Antigen Testing. Image source NT Health’s Facebook page.

AIDA supports COVID-safe reopening of the NT

With the number of COVID cases in remote Aboriginal communities in the Northern Territory (NT) continuing to grow, the Australian Indigenous Doctors’ Association (AIDA) is asking Territorians to get vaccinated as a matter of urgency and adhere to health restrictions to stop the spread.

AIDA is extremely concerned that the lack of culturally appropriate access to healthcare in remote communities, coupled with poor housing infrastructure in many communities, making it difficult for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to isolate within their own household, will further compound these COVD positive numbers and cause the virus to spread rapidly within communities. This will burden an already short-staffed health sector in the NT, causing even more issues.

AIDA supports the Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance Northern Territory (AMSANT) in calling on the NT government to commit to shared decision-making with Aboriginal communities and their key institutions when discussing a COVID-safe reopening of the Northern Territory. AIDA also joins AMSANT in supporting the Doherty modelling that indicates children aged 5-11 are to be included in reaching the 80% vaccine coverage before opening up.

You can read the AIDA media release here.

Welcome to Robinson River Community sign

Robinson River Community. Image source ABC News.

Visitors made homeless in Katherine’s lockdown

The homelessness rate in Katherine is twice the NT average and 31 times the national average

As Katherine and nearby communities grapple with the NT’s worst COVID-19 outbreak to date, Sam Ashley has been sleeping on a patch of grass near the town’s river. Mr Ashley lives in Beswick, roughly 118 kilometres south east of Katherine. Like many others, Mr Ashley travelled to Katherine for food and supplies and is now stuck as the number of COVID-19 cases grows around him.

“We can’t get home. It got me really worried,” said Mr Ashley.

Eli Sherman the coordinator at the Katherine Salvation Army Hub said:

“We’ve identified a huge influx over the last, probably, six weeks to the fact of about 130 to 150 people frequenting our service. A lot of these people coming in from out of town, for reasons unknown, but obviously given the pandemic and a lockdown now, they are stuck here.”

You can read the article in the ABC News here.

Sam Ashley from Beswick is currently stuck in Katherine and unable to return home, leaving him to sleep in the long grass during the Katherine COVID-19 lockdown. Image source: Michael Franchi, ABC News.

Sam Ashley from Beswick is currently stuck in Katherine and unable to return home, leaving him to sleep in the long grass during the Katherine COVID-19 lockdown. Image source: Michael Franchi, ABC News.

Get a jab and an autograph this weekend

There is an extra incentive to get vaccinated at this Super Schools Weekend. Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has announced sporting greats from rugby league, soccer, netball, Australian football, rugby union and many more will be on hand to congratulate those being vaccinated at select schools during the pop-up clinics this weekend.

“Sport has the ability to unite and inspire us,” the Premier said.

Athletes from the Broncos will be at various locations across southeast Queensland, Queensland Reds players will be running drills at Kelvin Grove State School on Sunday 21 November, and Queensland Firebirds will be at Calamvale Community College on Saturday 21 November.

In the north JCU Townsville Fire players will visit school clinics, and Swimming Queensland, the Gold Coast SUNS and Brisbane Roar A-League Women’s team will have players on board to help supercharge the Super Schools Blitz on the Gold Coast and Brisbane. More clubs and athletes are expected to join the initiative.

“This is a great opportunity to get a jab and an autograph,” Health Minister Yvette D’Ath said.

You can read more about the announcement from the Queensland Government here.

Meet your sport heroes this vaccination weekend. Image source: Annastacia Palaszczuk's Twitter page.

Doomdagee mob encouraged to get the jab

Residents in Doomdagee and outlying North West communities are strongly encouraged to get vaccinated for COVID-19 following the identification of positive cases in the Northern Territory’s Robinson River and Greater Katherine local government areas. With residents frequently travelling between Doomadgee and Robinson River, North West Hospital and Health Service (North West HHS) Chief Executive Craig Carey said it was critically important for residents to come forward and get vaccinated as soon as possible.

“Increasing vaccination rates throughout the North West is a vitally important step in protecting our communities, especially our remote Indigenous communities, who are at greater risk of serious illness caused by this disease,” Mr Carey said.

“North West HHS has activated a COVID-19 testing clinic at the Doomadgee Hospital, and we will be using rapid testing for anyone in the community who is symptomatic or has been in the identified hotspots in the neighbouring Northern Territory.”

A Doomadgee vaccination clinic has run for the last three days and is planned to continue through the weekend.

You can read the North West Hospital and Health Service media release here.
For further COVID-19 information for Doomadgee, click here.

COVID-19 Delta Spread communication resources

The Australian Government Department of Health have prepared a suite of communication resources containing information on how fast the Delta strain of the COVID-19 virus spreads and who are likely to get infected.

In the suite you will find infographics and suggested copy for use on social media as well as posters/flyers that are created with or without the government crest.

You can download Delta Spread social media tiles and content here.
You can download Delta Spread posters/flyers here.

Delta Spread - image tile

 

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: $10m to tackle health impacts of climate change

Bushfires in Australia. Image source: Saeed Khan / AFP via Getty, Grist website.

$10 million to tackle health impacts of climate change

Australians will be better protected against the health impacts of climate change, thanks to a new national research network led by The Australian National University (ANU) with partners from across Australia and $10 million in Federal Government funding.

Announced today by Health Minister, the Hon Greg Hunt MP, the Healthy Environments And Lives (HEAL) network brings together Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander knowledge, sustainable development, environmental epidemiology, and data science and communication to address climate change and its impacts on health.

HEAL will be funded for five years through the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Special Initiative in Human Health and Environmental Change and operate across all Australian states and territories.

“We will join forces to address climate change and other environmental challenges, such as bushfires, air pollution, infectious diseases and heatwaves that have a massive burden on our health and ecosystems,” HEAL’s Director, Professor Sotiris Vardoulakis from ANU said.

“This is a historic investment in our future. This coordinated group of experts and practitioners will substantially expand the boundaries of Australia’s environmental, climate change and health research community.”

You can view the media release from ANU here.
You can also view the National Health and Medical Research Council‘s media release here and the Department of Health‘s media release here.

HEAL’s Director, Professor Sotiris Vardoulakis from ANU.

HEAL’s Director, Professor Sotiris Vardoulakis from ANU.

Vaccination milestone celebrated in West Sydney

South Western Sydney Local Health District chief executive Amanda Larkin has praised the south-west Sydney Indigenous community for coming forward for vaccination to help “protect themselves and their loved ones.” Ms Larkin said 85 per cent of local Aboriginal and Torres Strait lslander people had now received their first dose of the vaccine and 80 per cent of residents were fully vaccinated.

“Vaccination is the best protection we can offer against COVID-19 and I would encourage everyone to get vaccinated if they haven’t already. Please come and get your second dose or booster injection so you receive the best possible protection.”

The District, which supports the vaccination efforts of Tharawal Aboriginal Medical Service, Gandangara Health Service and KARI, has a specialised team delivering Pfizer vaccination to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people across the region. The team is made up of nurses, Aboriginal Health workers and support staff and operates several pop-up clinics at convenient locations for Aboriginal communities.

District Director of Aboriginal Health Nate Jones said outreach clinics provided a culturally safe space where Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people can access the vaccine from trusted clinicians.

You can read the story in the Liverpool City Champion here.

South Western Sydney Local Health District chief executive Amanda Larkin, Tharawal Aboriginal Medical Service Medical Services manager Tallulah Lett and acting chief executive Lachlan Wright, the Districts COVID-19 Incident Controller Sonia Marshall and Aboriginal Health deputy director Karen Beetson celebrate the vaccination milestone.

South Western Sydney Local Health District chief executive Amanda Larkin, Tharawal Aboriginal Medical Service Medical Services manager Tallulah Lett and acting chief executive Lachlan Wright, the Districts COVID-19 Incident Controller Sonia Marshall and Aboriginal Health deputy director Karen Beetson celebrate the vaccination milestone. Image source: Liverpool City Champion.

Lockdown and new mask rules in NT

Northern Territory health officials are trying to get on top of a possible COVID-19 outbreak as the communities of Greater Katherine and Robinson River entered a 72-hour lockdown on Monday after two people tested positive. Chief Minister Michael Gunner said the remote community lockdown was the most serious COVID-19 update he had to give since the beginning of the pandemic.

People living in affected areas will only be able to leave their homes for the five permitted reasons and have been urged to send one person to the supermarket at a time. Alongside the lockdown, health officials have already been deployed to affected areas for a testing and vaccine blitz. They are also working around the clock to prepare a list of exposure sites.

“We have always been concerned for our remote communities, because of their mobility and vulnerability, especially since Delta has emerged,” he said.

You can read the article in SBS News here.

In related news, anyone who travels to a Northern Territory remote community that has a first-dose vaccination rate of less than 70 per cent for people aged 16 years and over will have to wear a mask at all times in public for seven days after they arrive. From Friday, the same people will also have to get a rapid antigen test 72 hours before travelling.

The restrictions are in addition to existing requirements imposed by land councils on people who are travelling to remote communities.

You can read more about the new mask rules in the ABC News here.

The first-dose COVID-19 vaccination rate in the NT remote community of Yarralin is less than 70 per cent, meaning the new mask rules will apply there. Image source: Hamish Harty, ABC News.

The first-dose COVID-19 vaccination rate in the NT remote community of Yarralin is less than 70 per cent, meaning the new mask rules will apply there. Image source: Hamish Harty, ABC News.

Ernie Dingo leads ‘Vax the Outback’ campaign

A new campaign to drive Indigenous vaccination rates in remote Western Australia takes off this week with Australian TV personality Ernie Dingo at the wheel. Vax the Outback begins its journey from Perth to the Pilbara on Wednesday, a project delivered by Aboriginal Story Agency BushTV and funded by the National Indigenous Australians Agency.

“Since the start of the vaccination program, we’ve been working with WA’s Department of Health, the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations and other Indigenous organisations, including Indigenous media, to ensure Indigenous people in the state get vaccinated,” Minister for Indigenous Australians Ken Wyatt said.

“I know that we can beat hesitation around vaccines and needles with this approach – that’s why I’m packing up and heading up North to have a yarn with local influencers and elders in each community,” said Dingo.

“It’s about knowledge, about making our communities feel ready for the vaccine when it comes around.”

You can read the media release by The Hon Ken Wyatt AM, MP here.
You can view the campaign video below.

Gestational diabetes increases risk of developing type 2

New research, led by Darwin’s Menzies School of Health Research, shows that Aboriginal women who had gestational diabetes during pregnancy, will have a one-in-four chance of developing type 2 diabetes within two and a half years after giving birth.

It means they are at a much higher risk than non-Indigenous women of developing lifelong health complications that require special diets and medication.

Worse still, their risk of developing type 2 diabetes is increased further if they are older than 40, had high sugar levels or used insulin in pregnancy, and had a higher body mass index, the researchers found.

The study’s co-author, Professor Louise Maple-Brown, said the findings — published in the Diabetes Research and Clinical Practice journal — were a concerning sign of “intergenerational diabetes”.

Researchers say more funding is needed for diabetes prevention programs.

You can read the article in the ABC News here.

Like many Aboriginal mothers in the Northern Territory, Desiree Weetra was diagnosed with gestational diabetes. Image source: ABC News.

Like many Aboriginal mothers in the Northern Territory, Desiree Weetra was diagnosed with gestational diabetes. Image source: ABC News.

Nicotine Vaping Legislative Changes

Since 1 October 2021, all purchases of nicotine vaping products require a prescription from an Australian registered medical practitioner.

The TGA has not approved any nicotine vaping products for supply in Australia, however, there are currently three main pathways that can be used to access these products:

  1. Authorised Prescriber
  2. Special Access Scheme
  3. Personal Importation Scheme

It’s important that evidence-based nicotine and smoking cessation counselling is provided by medical practitioners based on their patients’ needs.

For more info see the RACGP smoking cessation guidelines and visit the TGA website.

You can download a factsheet and social media tiles for clinicians here.
You can download a factsheet and social media tiles for consumers here.

E-cigarettes and Vaping graphics - Clinicians_Twitter

CTG Report 2022: Request for Case Studies

The Lowitja Institute are seeking input from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander individuals, communities and organisations for potential features to be included in the Close the Gap 2022 Report.

The report will take a strengths-based approach to explore themes of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander led transformation; Gender Justice: Equality and Equity; and Allyship.

The Lowitja Institute are seeking case studies that demonstrate strengths-based approaches that are either led or in partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and/or organisations in the design or delivery of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander led transformation, Gender Justice: Equality and Equity and Allyship in line with current affairs.

Expressions of interest are due by Friday 19th November.

For more information and how to apply, please 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.

Course in vaccinology and immunisation science

Module 1: A primer in vaccines and immunisation

7pm – 10pm AEDT, 17 November 2021

Presented via Zoom by the The Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity and the National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance (NCIRS).

The first ‘Primer’ module in 2021 is FREE.

This practical online course is for people relatively new to the area and for those wanting to broaden and update their understanding of vaccines, vaccine development and the principles underpinning the introduction and running of immunisation programs. This includes, but is not limited to, practitioners, academics and researchers, such as primary healthcare and specialist doctors, community and immunisation nurses, those working in public health, government (all levels) and health policy, pharmaceutical industry, regulators, aged care workers, journalists and ethics committee members.

For more information and to register visit the NCIRS website here.
You can also view the full course schedule here.

A primer in vaccines and immunisation

Improving Outcomes – Interventions, Networks and Pharmacotherapies

2021 NCCRED Symposium
11am – 2pm, 19 November 2021

The 2021 National Centre for Clinical Research on Emerging Drugs (NCCRED) Symposium will bring into focus three key areas of concern and innovation related to emerging drugs – Interventions, Networks & Pharmacotherapies. The symposium hosts leading national clinical researchers in the AoD field including presentations from recipients of NCCRED’s Round 3 Seed Funding Grants and the current work of the Centre. Areas of exploration in the 2021 symposium include:

  • Interventions to assist early treatment and improved outcomes for methamphetamine dependence
  • Pharmacotherapy trials for the treatment of methamphetamine dependence
  • Developments in drug alerts and national communication networks

NCCRED’s 2021 symposium, in line with the Centre’s aims, is a vital opportunity for the AoD sector to advance its collective response to emerging drugs:

  • Collaborate to build and expand research networks and capacity
  • Generate the best evidence-based knowledge
  • Translate the latest research into best clinical practice

For more information and to register visit the NCCRED website here.

NCCRED Symposium 2021 - banner

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Diabetes Strategy targets priority groups

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

Image in feature tile: University of Melbourne website.

Diabetes strategy targets priority groups

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

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

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

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

To view the SBS News article in full click here.

Diabetes Australia’s ‘First Nations Storytelling’ artwork

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

Academia has a lot to learn from mob

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

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

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

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

To view the Financial Review article in full click here.

Mt Isa Community Advisory Group in front of Gidgee building

Mt Isa Community Advisory Group.

AMA President on vax misinformation

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

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

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

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

Image source: The Conversation.

Tangentyere family violence prevention 

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

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

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

cartoon drawing of Aboriginal girl and boy against desert landscape

Tales from the Bush Mob children’s stories

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

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

To view the full article in The Australian click here.

Dr Helen Milroy

Dr Helen Milroy. Image source: The Australian.

Building the community-controlled sector

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

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

To view the media release click here.

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

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

Award for kid’s hearing loss program

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

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

To view the media release click here.

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

Culturally safe cancer care communication

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

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

Aboriginal man having blood test

Image source: GP Synergy website.

New process for job advertising

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

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