One third of Australian women who give birth report their experience as traumatic, whether through physical injury or psychological effects. But many women suffer in silence. A recent SBS Insight episode, Giving Birth Better, explored the impacts of birth trauma and what can be done to ensure better outcomes for women and their families.
This episode of SBS Insight features Melanie Briggs, a descendant of the Dharawal and Gumbaynggirr people, and a senior midwife at Waminda, a women’s health and welfare service on the NSW South Coast on Yuin Country. In June 2020 Melanie became the first endorsed Aboriginal midwife in NSW and only the second in Australia.
Melanie provides antenatal care in a community setting and explained the importance of continuity of care in reducing stillbirth, premature birth, the requirement to be induced or have a caesarean section. Melanie also explained how intergenerational trauma can play out for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women in their reluctance to access mainstream services due to racism and fear their children will be removed. To view the SBS Insight Giving Birth Better episode click here.
Image in the feature tile from Wiyanga: A Guide for Mothers and Families.
Midwife Melanie Briggs holds newborn Talekai during a special cultural ceremony. Photo: Naomi Locke Photography. Image source: ABC News.
The National Rural Health Alliance (NRHA) has released a new podcast for rural health called Build ‘Em Up. The podcast showcases upbeat rural health stories from communities and towns around Australia. The monthly podcast raises the voice of great people building the health and wellbeing of local communities. Telling positive stories is part of journey of creating a level playing field where people in rural and remote Australia can access affordable, quality health care.
Episode 1 is an interview with Torres Strait Islander, Elsie Seriat. Elsie grew up on Thursday Island and returned home after an incredible journey that saw her run the New York Marathon in 2014. Elsie achieved this incredible success only six months after joining up with Rob de Castella’s Indigenous Marathon Foundation. Since completing several marathons and being awarded an OAM, Elsie continues to inspire her family, friends, community and people around Australia to get moving. To hear these great stories head to the Build ‘Em Up podcast here.
Sexual Health Conference abstracts DUE
The Joint Australasian HIV&AIDS and Sexual Health Conferences will be hosted in a virtual format between 6 to 9 September 2021.
There are multiple prizes available for those who submit abstracts to the conferences.
But you need to be QUICK, the abstract submission deadline is this Sunday 2 May 2021. To submit an abstract click here.
Mornington Island health & welfare crisis
The Mayor of Mornington Shire Council is calling for an independent audit of health and welfare services delivered to Mornington Island as he seeks urgent help to address a health and social welfare crisis affecting his community. Mayor Kyle Yanner met with Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships Craig Crawford to ask for help to address high rates of chronic disease, death, poverty and crime being experienced by his community. He said the State Government was taking his calls for an independent audit seriously with Minister Crawford agreeing to strongly advocate on council’s behalf.
Current data for the Shire shows that 40% of the 634 First Nation patients of the island’s major health provider, Gidgee Health, are suffering from chronic disease, with many suffering from two or more serious health issues including diabetes, heart disease, mental health and renal impairment. The death rate for Mornington Shire was 40% higher than the average for Queensland in 2019, with residents dying younger than non-indigenous Queenslanders. “It is my responsibility to ensure that health and welfare services delivered to my community on Mornington Island are working successfully. When they are not, things must change,” Cr Yanner said.
To view the full The North West Star article click here.
Arial photo of the main township of Mornington Island. Image source: ABC News website. Mornington Shire Mayor Kyle Yanner. Image source: Mornington Shire Council website.
NT cancer treatment accessibility
A recent study, Accessibility of cancer treatment services for Indigenous Australians in the Northern Territory: perspectives of patients and care providers has looked at the reasons for the poorer cancer outcomes of Indigenous Australians in Australia’s NT compared with their non-Indigenous counterparts. The study found accessibility of health care is a multidimensional construct, including physical, logistical, psychosocial and cultural dimensions and concluded that while previous research has identified specific areas of reduced access to CTS for Indigenous Australians, the higher burden of cancer borne by Indigenous Australians warrants a more comprehensive understanding of access to CTS in the NT. The purpose of the study was to explore and map the accessibility of CTS for Indigenous Australians in the NT and to identify key access barriers.
Alcohol is the most common drug of concern for clients of publicly funded specialist alcohol and other drug treatment services, according to a new report by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW). The report, Alcohol and other drug treatment services in Australia 2018–19, provides information on just under 220,000 closed treatment episodes provided to an estimated 137,000 clients of publicly funded specialist alcohol and other drug treatment services.
‘Alcohol was the principal drug of concern in 36% of treatment episodes. It was the main or an additional drug of concern in 48% of cases,’ said AIHW spokesperson Dr. Gabrielle Phillips. ‘In one-third (33%) of treatment episodes where alcohol was the principal drug of concern, the client also reported other drugs of concern—most commonly cannabis or nicotine.’ While alcohol remains the number one drug for which Australians seek help, specialist treatment for amphetamine use has grown over the past decade.
To view the AIHW AOD treatment services in Australia: key findings webpage click here.
AMA is urging all Australians to get their seasonal flu vaccination now, with general practices across the country having recently received stock ahead of the upcoming flu season. “Winter is coming, and influenza remains a very serious illness, particularly for the vulnerable members of our community,” AMA President Dr Omar Khorshid said.
“Thousands of Australians are admitted to hospitals with influenza complications each year. Last year we saw record flu vaccinations, which was fantastic. We need to do the same again this year. The message is simple: get your flu vaccine now.
“There were significant social distancing measures in place last year that not only helped keep COVID-19 at bay, they also meant that cases of influenza were down significantly from previous years. Influenza has not gone away and with life now largely returning to normal, we mustn’t become complacent.”
Image source: Australian Government Department of Health.
WA Young Person of the Year, AHCWA employee
A Nollamara resident’s dedication to strengthen young people’s connections to Aboriginal culture has been recognised. Whadjuk Noongar man Derek Nannup, 23, was named WA’s Young Person of the Year at the 2021 WA Youth Awards last week.
Mr Nannup is working in sexual health education at the Aboriginal Health Council of WA and is on the Mirrabooka Police District Youth Advisory Group and the Youth Educating Peers Reference Group. He also worked as a support worker for children in care at Wungening Aboriginal Corporation and was the Indigenous Cultural Program Coordinator at Wesley College.
Mr Nannup also established the Boorloo Indigenous Youth Yarning Circles, a space for young people to practice traditional healing, discuss culture and community issues. The Nollamara resident said the award was not just about him but a recognition for his people and the Noongar community. “I’m really honoured to have been acknowledged as WA Young Person of the Year … that means a lot,” he said. “A lot of the mob have said ‘you’ve got leadership quality’ but all I’m really doing is listening to my Elders, doing and practicing my responsibility and obligations as a Whadjuk Noongar. It shows how far we’ve come together, we’re still a long way to go but hopeful.”
To read the full article in the Stirling Times click here.
Derek Nannup, 23, WA’s Young Person of the Year. Image source: Stirling Times.
Healthy ageing study for older Aboriginal people
Are you an NSW-based service that works with older Aboriginal people?
Would your service like to be part of research that shows how important community programs are for older Aboriginal people?
The Ironbark Project is a healthy ageing study for older Aboriginal people (45 years+). NSW-based services that work with groups of older Aboriginal people are invited to be part of this study involving Aboriginal-led community programs that improve social and emotional wellbeing, strength, mobility and independence, and prevent falls. Funding and training are provided to run the weekly community program with Elders.
Join an online information session 11 AM – 12 PM Monday 26 April 2021 to find out how you can be involved in the Ironbark Project.
Minister for Indigenous Essential Services Chansey Paech said a $28 million Territory Labor Government investment will help to shore up water security in Aboriginal communities across the NT. Tailored projects in ten remote communities will improve water quality and supply infrastructure, prioritising areas of critical need. The funding, $7 million per year for four years, will support initiatives to manage immediate problems and a long-term plan to tackle complex water supply issues. These include new bores, network upgrades, improved water disinfection systems, and the installation of meters to monitor and reduce water usage. The identified projects, tailored to address community-specific issues, will begin in Laramba, Engawala, Yuendumu, Epenarra, Imanpa, Atitjere, Warruwi and Numbulwar in the first year of the program; with works in Angurugu and Beswick to follow.
Priority Reform One of the National Agreement on Closing the Gap is about building and strengthening structures to ensure the full involvement of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with governments on Closing the Gap at every level.
We want to see new formal partnerships established across the country at state and territory and regional levels between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander representatives and governments on closing the gap which reflect elements consistent with the Partnership Agreement.
Where there are existing partnerships, we want them strengthened to ensure that representatives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are chosen by those communities and are properly supported to share decision making about closing the gap in their locations.
You can view a new video animation for Priority Reform One here.
Mental health care – like hunting for unicorns
Numerous inquiries have analysed the barriers of cost and access to receiving mental health care, but these problems persist. This is particularly the case for people who experience the ‘missing middle’ – their case is too complex for a GP but not severe enough for hospital admission. One reader told Guardian Australia: ‘Finding a good psychologist or psychiatrist who bulk-bills and has appointments available is like hunting for unicorns while blindfolded.’
To view The Guardian article ‘Like hunting for unicorns’: Australians on the search for adequate, affordable mental healthcareclick here.
Image source: VentureBeat website.
SA – Adelaide – Flinders University
PhD scholarship x 1 (3 years) – Adelaide
Flinders University is seeking an outstanding candidate for a PhD scholarship for an Australian Research Council Project entitled: Contemporary lessons from a history of Aboriginal, women’s and generalist community health services in Australia 1970-2020. This exciting project is a partnership between Flinders University, the University of Sydney, La Trobe University, the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO), The Sydney Local Health District, Paul Laris and Associates and Tony McBride and Associates.
Any area of study relevant to the project will be considered, including one with a focus on the emergence of Aboriginal Community-Controlled health organisations as part of the broader community health movement. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander candidates are strongly encouraged to apply for this aspect of the project.
For further details about the position, including how to apply click here.
New research released by The Healing Foundation shows that the strong and necessary public health restrictions introduced to contain the COVID-19 pandemic in Australia since early 2020 retriggered trauma for some Stolen Generations survivors. The research data suggests an increased and heightened sense of vulnerability; significant disconnection from family, community, and country; and significant impacts on mental health and wellbeing among an already vulnerable cohort of people.
The Healing Foundation CEO Fiona Cornforth said the research results will assist governments and authorities in future pandemic planning to build on Australia’s world-leading public health efforts to ensure the most vulnerable in the community are protected. “The excellent work of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Advisory Group on COVID-19 – as part of national efforts guided by the National Cabinet – ensured that infection rates were very low in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander populations,” Ms Cornforth said.
To view The Healing Foundation’s media release click here,
Image source: Creative Spirits.
ACCHO program reduces recidivism
Tyrone Walter says the Ngudjoong Billa program has put him on a better path. He’s recently completed the 20-week program and said it has helped him get his white card and feel a greater connection to his Aboriginal culture. And now his eyes are set on joining the Army. During its demonstration phase, the program has helped 73 young Aboriginal people reintegrate and transition out of the juvenile justice system. All of those who completed the 20 week program did not re-offend during that time.
Started in 2017, and delivered in partnership between the South Coast Medical Service Aboriginal Corporation (SCMSAC) and the Department of Communities and Justice, the program provides a consistent support network for Aboriginal children exiting custody on the South Coast.
Jordan said Tyrone had gained a lot of confidence from the program which had helped him with his mental health. Jordan said Tyrone was lacking motivation at the start of the program because of his lifestyle choices with drugs and alcohol. But through a slow and intensive approach with a particular focus on strengthening Tyrone’s cultural identity and building his connections to family, community and country, Tyrone is now off drugs and has been for a while.
Tyrone Walter standing between his caseworker Jordan Farrell, and the Minister for Families, Communities and Disability Services Gareth Ward. Image source: South Coast Register.
Facts about COVID-19
In a short video Dr Mark Wenitong, a GP in Indigenous health for 25 years, reminds us to get information about COVID-19 vaccines from trusted sources. You can access the video including a transcript here.
Suicide prevention roadmap
Suicide is the most common cause of death in Australians aged 15–44 years – more common than deaths from motor vehicle accidents or skin cancer (Aleman & Denys 2014). Over 2,500 people die from suicide in Australia each year and more than 65,000 make an attempt.
The Final Advice of the National Suicide Prevention Adviser, announced today, paves the way for a clear roadmap for reform. In particular, the recommendation to establish a National Suicide Prevention Office has the potential to create a significant enhancement of suicide prevention and in turn, save lives. Suicide Prevention Australia, the national peak body for suicide prevention, is urging Governments across Australia to use the findings of the report to drive down suicide rates. Suicide Prevention Australia CEO, Nieves Murray, said, “the Final Report of the National Suicide Prevention Adviser has the potential to be a game changer for suicide prevention in Australia. Immediate uptake of the key recommendations is critical to enable real reform that will save lives.”
To view the Suicide Prevention Australia’s media release in full click here.
Image source: Australian Psychological Society website.
Child protection & adolescent self-harm
A history of child maltreatment is known to elevate the risk of self-harm in adolescence. However, until a recent studythis link had not been investigated for Aboriginal children who experience a greater burden of both. This study Patterns of child protection service involvement by Aboriginal children associated with a higher risk of self-harm in adolescence: A retrospective population cohort study using linked administrative data confirms a higher risk of self-harm in adolescence is associated with child maltreatment, especially in middle childhood and concludes that addressing the intergenerational trauma in Aboriginal families is crucial to preventing child maltreatment and informing reforms to child protection responses that can better identify and address the culturally-specific unmet needs of Aboriginal families.
Cultural training in health services survey ENDS SOON
The Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care (the Commission) has developed a short survey to gain an understanding of the type and level of cultural safety training currently being undertaken by health service organisations. The Commission is committed to ongoing and evolving culturally safe practices, which are developed in consultation with, and determined by, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.
The NSQHS Standards define six actions that specifically meet the needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. One of the six actions states: “The health service organisation has strategies to improve the cultural awareness and cultural competency of the workforce to meet the needs of its Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients.” The Commission is calling on feedback to assist in the development of resources to strengthen cultural safety training and support services in implementing this action.
Click here to complete the survey for your organisation. The survey is open until Friday, 23 April 2021, and takes up to 10 minutes to complete.
The Stop it at the Start campaign encourages adults to positively influence the attitudes and behaviours of young people aged 10–17 by role modelling positive behaviour, calling out disrespect and starting conversations about respect. It aims to unite the community around positive actions everyone can take to break the cycle of disrespect, and ultimately, violence against women.
Community influencers and campaign supporters Kristy Masella, Andy Saunders, Renee Thomson, and Sean Choolburra share a common message—even the simplest, smallest actions can make a big difference for young people, and for our community.
To access a range of Stop it at the Start resources released earlier this week click here. Please note, in this document the link for the Sean Choolburra & his daughter Tyra – Tips on how to speak up when you see disrespect video does not work, this link does.
To view the Australian government’s Unmute yourself – speaking up to end violence against women media release in full click here. and to access an editorial from Darumbal woman Kristy Masella, campaign supporter for the Stop it at the Start campaign click here.
Sexual wellbeing – what we do well
A recent research project, Fostering the sexual wellbeing of Aboriginal young people by building on social, cultural and personal strengths and resources has looked at how urban Aboriginal young people foster sexual health and wellbeing for themselves and others. The project purposely sought to adopt a strengths-based approach by identifying the resources and capacities of Aboriginal young people to minimise harm and promote health.
More specifically, the project aimed to explore the community resources that Aboriginal young people access to help them make positive sexual choices, inform their understandings of sexual health and relationships, manage their sexual wellbeing, and engage with health promotion and health care services. The research will provide health services and policymakers with insightful new knowledge to better support young urban Aboriginal people and their communities.
For further information on the project click here.
Image source: The Sydney Morning Herald.
Healing Foundation CEO – National Press Club
The Healing Foundation CEO Fiona Cornforth will be addressing the National Press Club in Canberra on Wednesday 2 June 2021. Fiona will be releasing The Healing Foundation’s “Make Healing Happen: It’s time to act” report. The report sets out a plan with recommendations to achieve real and lasting healing for Stolen Generations Survivors and to promote intergenerational healing. The address will be televised live on ABC TV.
Today marks the 30th anniversary of the of the Report of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody(RCIADIC) and numerous stakeholder organisations have released statements condemning the continued failure of governments to implement all of the report’s recommendations.
The Partnership for Justice in Health (P4JH) said it stands in solidarity with the grieving families and communities of loved ones who have died in custody due to a failure of governments to effectively implement the clear and comprehensive recommendations outlined in the RCIADIC report. The P4JH said all levels of government must reflect on the loss and grief that could have been prevented had they acted on the recommendations as a matter of priority in 1991 and in the years since. “We are sending our strength to those families and friends whose grief and trauma is compounded by that continued failure of Australian governments to act with resolve and commitment,” said the P4JH co-chairs Dr Janine Mohamed, CEO of the Lowitja Institute and Karl Briscoe, CEO of the National Association of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workers and Practitioners (NAATSIHWP). To view P4JH’s media release click here.
Indigenous Allied Health Australia(IAHA) released a statement acknowledging the deep loss and grief of families and friends whose loved ones have passed away while in custody, both before and since the RCIADIC report. IAHA said ‘we are at our best when we go beyond empathy and act to reduce the causes of that grief and loss. We must do that now.’ IAHA called for the full implementation of the RCIADIC report’s recommendations. To view the IAHA’s media release click here.The Australian Indigenous Doctors’ Association (AIDA) said that ‘Aboriginal deaths in custody continue to occur to this day – and the over-representation of our people in custody – is a national travesty. This is an abject failure of Australian governments. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people suffer unacceptably high levels of physical illness, mental illness and suicide. There is ample evidence that grief, stress and trauma make us sick and incidents such as ongoing deaths and over-representation – further add to the burden of health and disadvantage. Racism and unconscious bias – institutional, systemic and individual – is an unacceptable fact of life for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Culturally safe services can support service providers to confront and understand cultural difference and deliver effective and safe services to our people.’ AIDA called on all governments to accept, and to address racism and unconscious biases that are embedded in police, prison, legal and health systems. To view AIDA’s media release click here.The National Native Title Council(NNTC) similarly said that three decades on from the RCIADIC report the rate of Indigenous incarceration and deaths in custody continues to be one of our country’s greatest shames. The NNTC referred to research from The Guardian that found Indigenous peoples who died in custody were “more likely to not have been charged with any crime” and were “three times more likely to not receive all required medical care, when compared to non-Indigenous people”. The Royal Commission made 339 recommendations, of which more than one hundred have not been implemented. To view the NNTC’s media release click here.
Change the Record says it is a national shame that in the three decades since the RCIADIC report, state, territory and Commonwealth governments have failed to implement the majority of the report’s recommendations – and as a result ‘our people are still dying at horrendous rates.’ To view the Change the Record’s media release click here.
Human Rights Watch agreed that the Australian government’s continued failure to address Indigenous deaths in custody tarnishes the country’s rights record and global standing. To view the Human Rights Watch article click here.
Oxfam Australia Chief Executive Lyn Morgain said: “Today is a historic and shameful day for our nation. Thirty years ago, the landmark report of the RCIADIC revealed the full extent of the danger that our justice system presents to First Peoples, and laid out the path we needed to take to make things right. Thirty years on, and things are much worse – with incarceration rates of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people more than doubling in relative terms. Our leaders have been missing in action on this issue. They have failed to implement many of the report’s 334 recommendations, and they have failed to show care and compassion for First Peoples by changing an unfair and unjust system.” To view Oxfam Australia’s media release click here.
Thirty years ago Robert Tickner AO, the Aboriginal Affairs Minister in the Hawke government, presented the RCIADIC report to the national Parliament. Now as the Chair of the Justice Reform Initiative he said “It is to our great shame that 30 years later, we have progressed so little. We cannot wait another 30 years for real change.” The report made 339 recommendations, including that imprisonment should only occur as a last resort. This recommendation was adopted by all Australian Governments including by every State and Territory Government from all political persuasions. This support was given on the back of incontestable evidence that jailing was failing Aboriginal people. To view the media release click here.
Cairns ACCHO gives students a strong start
Commencing on 22 April, six students in Year 11 from Bentley Park College and Trinity Bay State High School, will start a school-based traineeship at Wuchopperen Health Service (Wuchopperen) to kickstart their health career with 100% Indigenous owned and operated Group Training Organisation, Australian Training Works Group (ATW), leading the recruitment drive.
The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Traineeship Program, ‘Strong Start’, will give Indigenous youth a head start, achieving a nationally recognised qualification and on the job training while completing year 11 and 12. “By allowing students to gain work skills while completing school, they’re able to work towards a goal, whether that be higher education or transition to work,” says Rachael Ham, Deputy CEO at Wuchopperen. To view the media release in full click here.
L–R: Tony Marten (owner & Managing Director at Australian Training Works), Wendy Burke (Director of Health Services at Wuchopperen), Rachael Ham (Deputy CEO at Wuchopperen).
Health sector’s role in deaths in custody
As Australia marks the 30th anniversary of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody (RCIADIC) the health sector has been urged to reflect on whether it is part of the problem or offering solutions. Associate Professor Megan Williams, Wiradjuri justice health researcher and educator, has identified multiple areas where the sector has failed to address the health needs of prisoners.
Professor Williams says ‘justice is essential for health, for all people in Australia. How we disregard the Royal Commission recommendations is as sick as how we treat First Peoples. $40 million, three years of testimony and evidence about 99 Aboriginal deaths in custody in the 1991 final report and 339 recommendations. But what about deaths since? More than 474. Barely a family have not been affected by Aboriginal deaths in custody, police brutality, poverty or racism. It’s time to make a list of all the government frameworks that overlook, minimise, forget, ignore, exclude, tokenistically mention or silence Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in prison, and all people in prison.’
End Black Deaths In Custody rally in Naarm Melbourne to mark 30th anniversary of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody. Photo by Marie McInerney. Image source: Croakey.
Raising criminal responsibility age urged
National Children’s Commissioner, Anne Hollonds and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, June Oscar AO have urged all Australian governments to raise the age of criminal responsibility as a matter of priority. A report commissioned by a meeting of Attorneys-General in July last year recommended that all jurisdictions raise the age and ensure younger teenagers are not held in detention. Recent reports have suggested that Australian Attorneys-General are considering raising the age from 10 to 12. The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child recommends raising the age of criminal responsibility to 14-years-old as a minimum. As we mark 30 years since the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody handed down its report, it’s important to acknowledge that Indigenous children account for 58% of young people being held on remand and 48% of young people in sentenced detention.
To view the Australian Human Rights Commission media release in full click here.
Image: Chris Devers, Flickr. Image source: newmatilda.com.
Mega prison raises fears for prisoner health
Governments often hail the economic benefits that new or expanded prisons bring to regional communities. But what are their health and social impacts? These issues are investigated as part of Croakey’s new Rural Health Justice series. In the feature article launching the series, journalist Linda Doherty explores how Australia’s newest mega jail, the Clarence Correctional Centre (CCC), near Grafton, NSW is affecting the health and wellbeing of prisoners, their families and the local community.
Around 60% of the 155 women prisoners in CCC have dependent children and one-third are Aboriginal women, according to SHINE for Kids which advocates for the human rights of children with a parent in prison, transports children to jail visits, runs evidence-based parenting, cultural and education courses in 27 jails in NSW, Queensland, Victoria, ACT and WA, and funds tutors for primary school children.
Like many of the 339 recommendations of the 1991 Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody that have been ignored by governments, recommendation 168 resonates for the parents in the new CCC facility. It says: “…where possible, an Aboriginal prisoner should be placed in an institution as close as possible to the place of residence of his or her family.”
One of the Storytime books created by parents in prison for their children. Image source: SHINE for Kids.
Increasing vaccine take-up in remote NT
In East Arnhem Land, the Miwatj Health Aboriginal Corporation said only 129 of about 5,600 eligible people had received the AstraZeneca vaccine since the rollout began in the region at the start of April. Chief executive Eddie Mulholland told the ABC he expected that number to be higher, but people were now becoming even more reluctant because people are hearing reports of rare blood clotting among recipients of the AstraZeneca vaccine.
The NT’s peak Aboriginal health service is working on a plan to improve the take-up of COVID-19 vaccines after reports of growing reluctance in remote areas. A spokeswoman for the Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance NT said details will be released early next week.
All adults in remote communities are eligible for vaccination under phase 1b of the rollout. Photo supplied by: Miwatj Health Aboriginal Corporation. Image source: ABC News website.
COVID-19 radio ads in language
The Australian Government Department of Health has produced a collection of translations of the radio ad, ‘Living the new normal’, in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages. To access the collection click here.
Health system needs to learn from patient experience
The health system in Australia would benefit significantly by paying more attention to the lessons learned from patient experience, the Consumers Health Forum (CHF) says. This is a key message from the latest edition of the Health Voices ejournal which covers the recent Shifting Gears Australasian summit conference of the CHF.
“The value of learning from experience was given fresh power at the inaugural Australasian summit last month,” the CEO of CHF, Leanne Wells, said. “As the conference heard more than once, health consumers, particularly those with chronic conditions are more likely to have deeper knowledge of their overall care than any one health professional dealing with a single aspect of their care. There is much to learn, including from such community-centred programs as the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation success in countering COVID-19.”
To view the Consumes Health Forum of Australia media release click here.
Important Update from CMO to COVID-19 Vaccine Delivery Partners
Dear Australian COVID-19 Vaccine Delivery Partner
By now you will be aware of advice provided by the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) in light of the evolving evidence of a rare but serious side effect involving thrombosis with thrombocytopenia following receipt of the AstraZeneca vaccine.
This ‘thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome’ (TTS) is a newly described serious condition, with unusual blood clots in the brain (cerebral venous sinus thrombosis) or in other parts of the body, associated with low platelet levels and can cause serious long term disability or death.
The evidence that connects TTS to receipt of the AstraZeneca vaccine has been reviewed by ATAGI and the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) and subsequently, ATAGI has recommended new changes to the Australian COVID-19 Vaccine Program including a preference for the use of the Comirnaty (Pfizer) vaccine in adults aged under 50 years.
The ATAGI statement (found here) provides further information on the key considerations that went into formulating this advice. Amongst these were the following:
TTS remains an extremely rare event among vaccine recipients. Experience in Europe has shown approximately 4 – 6 people in every one million people develop TTS in the 4-20 days after the first dose of vaccine. However higher rates have been reported in some countries, and among younger people. One person in Australia developed the syndrome after receiving the AstraZeneca vaccine.
While Australia currently has very low or no community transmission of COVID-19, this could change. The risk of serious disease and death in Australia remains, even as border controls and other measures continue.
The individual benefit-to-risk balance of vaccination with COVID-19 vaccine AstraZeneca in Australia varies with age. The risk of ongoing health issues and death from COVID-19 is highest in older age groups, particularly rising from 50 years of age. By comparison, the rate, and so possibility of disability and death from TTS may be higher in younger people.
Please note that ATAGI has further recommended that:
The AstraZeneca vaccine should only be used in adults aged under 50 where the benefits clearly outweigh the risk for that individual and the person has made an informed decision based on an understanding of the risks and benefits.
People who have had the first dose of COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca without any serious adverse effects can be given the second dose, including adults under 50 years.
The Australian Government places safety above all else, as it has done throughout the pandemic, and will continue to follow the medical advice in protecting Australians. On this basis, the Government has accepted ATAGI’s recommendations and will move swiftly to ensure Australia’s vaccination program and advice to patients is adjusted accordingly, as per the TGA’s and Department of Health Secretary and Chief Medical Officerstatements.
In the short term, and in line with ATAGI’s recommendations, you may want to contact any patients under 50 who are currently booked to receive their first dose of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine and cancel in cases where the benefit clearly does not outweigh the risk.
As per the previous ATAGI statement on 2 April (found here), please remain alert for warning signs of TTS in those who have received the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine. So far these have included as either central venous sinus thrombosis (CVST) or thrombosis in other sites, such as intra-abdominal venous systems. These presentations have occurred between 4 and 20 days following receipt of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine. CVST may present as a new onset persistent headache not settling with analgesia, features of raised intracranial pressure (including acute severe headache, vomiting, confusion), focal neurological deficits, and/or seizures. Thrombosis in the intra-abdominal venous system may present as abdominal pain.
I appreciate that this change in direction is sudden, and may cause additional stress and difficulty over the next period. It is also likely to contribute to an increase in vaccine hesitancy amongst your patients. GPs are key to managing this risk in their roles as trusted advisors, and we expect that you will be called upon to assist your patients to make an informed decision based on their individual circumstances. I suggest you reiterate to your patients:
the risk of developing this side-effect following receipt of the AstraZeneca vaccine is extremely rare;
the new age-based recommendations are made out of an abundance of caution and the benefits of the COVID-19 AstraZeneca vaccination outweigh the risks for the vast majority of people; and
that if you have received your first dose of the vaccine with no major adverse reaction, you are strongly encouraged to receive the second dose as planned.
The Department is further developing and refining resources for informed consent that clearly convey the benefits and risks of vaccination for both providers and consumers, and we will continue to provide you with advice and patient resources in coming days and will be sent directly to you. The attached script has also been developed to assist your practice to respond to patients who may call with questions about the AstraZeneca vaccine. Please continue to check www.health.gov.aufor the most up to date information.
ATAGI and the TGA will continue to review the evidence on a regular basis, and as with everything during this pandemic, it is possible that there may be further changes to this advice as new evidence emerges or the epidemiological situation changes. The Department will be working with states and territories to determine how those under the age of 50 in phase 1 can access the Pfizer (Cominarty) vaccine in a timely fashion. We will keep you updated with this process as it continues, and will come back in coming days with further resources and information.
I want to take this opportunity to again thank you for your flexibility, commitment and resilience during the pandemic.
The Department of Health acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Australia and their continued connection to land, sea and community. We pay our respects to all Elders past and present.
Ministerial Media Release: AstraZeneca COVID-19 Vaccine
The Australian Government received advice from the vaccine expert taskforce, the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI). The Government accepts the advice from Australia’s medical experts and will move swiftly to ensure Australia’s vaccination program and advice to patients is adjusted accordingly.
The Australian Government places safety above all else, as it has done throughout the pandemic, and will continue to follow the medical advice in protecting Australians. The ATAGI advice is clear that the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine is highly effective in preventing severe disease caused by COVID-19. The medical advice to the Government is that the risk of blood clotting side effects from the Astra Zeneca vaccine is four to six in one million people, in the first four to 20 days post the vaccine. This is a rare but serious side effect.
The South West Aboriginal Medical Service (SWAMS) has been recognised for its outstanding work in the public health sector at the 2021 WA Rural Health Awards. The organisation’s Kaart Darabiny ‘What are you thinking?’ Mental Health Team was successful in the Building Healthy Country Communities category at the awards, which were held last month. The program is designed to support young people at risk and using culture to promote a holistic view on wellness as well as working with clients who have experienced trauma.
Seven doctors from the South West, more than ever before, were also recognised at the ceremony for 40 years of service to rural health. Mary Collins, Ronald Jewel, Michael Peterkin, Frederik Pretorius, Phil Reid, David Robinson and Allan Walley all received recognition and were thanked for their service by Rural Health West chief executive Tim Shackleton. “We are extremely pleased to shine a light on the work undertaken by these outstanding health professionals and sincerely thank them on behalf of their patients and the rural communities they serve,” he said.
SWAMS’ Kaart Darabiny Mental Health Team. Image source: South Western Times.
Call for radical mental health system reform
The Australian Association of Social Workers’ (AASW) submission to the House of Representatives Select Committee inquiry into Mental Health and Suicide Prevention has called for government to seize the opportunity to build a more cohesive system of mental health support that will radically reform Australia’s mental health system. AASW CEO, Cindy Smith, said the AASW’s extensive submission draws on decades of experience of its members working with some of the most vulnerable and marginalised people in our society and this submission and its recommendations for improvements to the mental health system are consistent with previous submissions. “Social workers have been talking about the failings of the mental health system for decades and here we are in 2021, still beset by long waiting lists to access publicly funded services, inadequate rebate amounts under Better Access, and a shortage of mental health professionals across the country.”
To view the AASW media release in full click here.
Artwork by Matt Davidson. Image source: The Sydney Morning Herald.
Rural and Remote health COVID-19 roundtable
Regional Health Minister, Mark Coulton MP, chaired the 12th special rural and remote health COVID-19 roundtable with members of the Rural Health Stakeholder group on 18 February 2021. A summary of the proceedings and decisions can be found here.
Image source: AJP.com.au.
Health professional kidney disease webinar
Kidney Health Australia are hosting a Health Professional Webinar discussing chronic kidney disease in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples. The webinar will be presented by Associate Professor Mark Thomas at 7:00 PM Tuesday 20 April 2021.
Registration is essential. You can register hereor via the link in this flyer.
Add your voice to family violence consultation
The Australian Government has opened public consultation on the next National Plan to reduce family, domestic and sexual violence in Australia. All Australians can add their views and voices to the consultation via an online questionnaire, available on the Engage website. Women who have experienced violence, family safety advocates, service providers and other stakeholders will also be invited to take part in a two-day National Women’s Safety Summit to be held on 29 and 30 July 2021. The Summit was agreed as part of the establishment of the Taskforce on Women’s Safety in December last year.
Wingara Mura Leadership Program Academic Fellow Carmen Parter has written a PhD thesis with the title Decolonising public health policies: Rightfully giving effect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ knowledges and cultures of ways of being, knowing and doing in public health policies.
In her thesis Carmen argues that ‘for the knowledges held by Indigenous people to be recognised and valued, the dominant western non-Indigenous culture must accept that Indigenous people’s cultural knowledges of ways of being, knowing and doing are relevant to policy production.’ Carmen goes on to say in her concluding remarks ‘As policy makers and all levels of government embark on a new National Closing the Gap Agreement (Australian Government, 2020), a continued and trusting co-design approach that is a genuine partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and communities is paramount. A systems perspective is warranted to address the ingrained and invisible colonialist, imperialist and racialized paradigms – the native assumptions – that have dominated the Indigenous affairs and Indigenous public health policy environment for the last 31 years.’
COVID-19 an opportunity to build a better healthcare sector
The opportunities of the COVID-19 pandemic continue to represent an opportunity for Australia to do better in supporting the health of all, according to the Australian College of Nursing (ACN). Speaking on World Health Day, ACN Chief Executive Officer, Adjunct Professor Kylie Ward FACN, said that the World Health Organisation (WHO)’s annual report should be seen as an opportunity by governments to build a better health care sector as the world rolls out the COVID-19 vaccine.
“Many of the issues identified by the WHO are issues that we face not only in Australia, but in our Pacific region where we have a role to both lead and support local health systems,” Adjunct Professor Ward said. “We must use the pandemic as an opportunity to continue to support people most impacted by global inequality in health care, not just to aim to return to the previous status quo.”
Adjunct Professor Ward said the Australian Government must use World Health Day to look to support the most vulnerable members of our community, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, Australians living in rural and remote areas and elderly Australians.
Fully-funded community data use course – BE QUICK!
After the successful launch of its Full-Time Data Analytics (the science of being able to tell an accurate story from a set of data) and Cloud Course, Goanna Education is offering a part-time course that you can fit around your work schedule.
This fully funded program has been developed in conjunction with Data Analysts working in the industry, educators and technical recruiters. This program will teach participants how to identify the right data, make sure that data is fit for analysis, analyse the data and then present it visually in order to better explain the results to other people. The course is designed specifically for Indigenous Australia and it is a requisite that students identify as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander to apply.
The part time Data Analytics course starts on Monday 12 April 2021.
It is made up of:
6–7 week self-study blocks with weekly online drop-ins, and
Health Outreach Worker x 1 PT (Fixed Term) – Mooroopna
The Outreach Worker plays a pivotal role in service coordination, advocacy and support for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community throughout the Integrated Team Care Goulburn Valley Primary Health Network Region. You will be required to provide culturally appropriate coordination of care for patients with complex needs/chronic disease including treatment, early intervention and prevention and associated services in the context of an Aboriginal Health Service.
To view the position description and to apply click here.
Applications close 4:00 PM Tuesday 13 April 2021.
Specialist Aboriginal Family Violence Team Leader (Orange Door) x 1 FT – Shepparton Office
The Aboriginal Family Violence Team Leader is a leadership position co-located in The Orange Door site and will have a significant role to work closely with other Orange Door partners as well as provide supervision to the Aboriginal Family Violence practitioners to lead high quality, culturally safe and effective responses to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people seeking support and safety.
To view position description and to apply click here.
Applications close 4:00 PM Friday 16 April 2021.
Specialist Aboriginal Family Practitioner (Orange Door) x 1 FT – Shepparton Office
The Aboriginal Family Violence Practitioner will provide screening, assessment, triage and short-term response to all incoming referrals through the Orange Door Hub using an Integrated Practice Framework and ensuring the delivery of high quality, culturally safe and effective responses to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people seeking support and safety.
To view position descriptions and to apply click here.
Applications close 4:00 PM Friday 16 April 2021.
Family Partnership Worker x 1 FT (identified) – Mooroopna
Culturally support delivery of The Australian Nurse-Family Partnership Program to clients, alongside the Nurse Home Visitor and Nurse Supervisor. Includes, promotional event planning and coordination, cultural connection and community networking.
To view position description and to apply click here.
Applications close 4:00 PM Tuesday 20 April 2021.
Nurse Home Visitor x 1 FT (fixed term) – Mooroopna
Deliver the Australian Nurse-Family Partnership Program to clients in a home setting, alongside the Family Partnership Worker and Nurse Supervisor. Includes, promotional event planning and coordination, maintaining stakeholder networks, improving pregnancy outcomes, improving child health and development and helping parents develop a vision for their own future.
To view position description and to apply click here.
Applications close 4:00 PM Tuesday 20 April 2021.
Kinship Case Manager x 1 FT – Mooroopna
Work with and support children and young people and carers to meet case contracted kinship targets. The role will work directly within case management and care teams ensuring a shared understanding of key issues related to theoretical frameworks including attachment theory, trauma theory, brain development, ages and stages of development, resilience theory, strength-based approach and the neurobiological development of maltreated children. The minimum qualifications required to be considered for these positions include: Tertiary qualification in Community Services, Social Work, Youth Work or related discipline.
To view position description and to apply click here.
Applications close 4:00 PM Friday 23 April 2021.
Team Leader Kinship Care, Better Futures Home Stretch x 1 FT – Mooroopna
Provide strong leadership to a team of workers, oversee and maintain the responsibility for the Better Futures, Home Stretch Programs, staff operating in this space to ensure young people are transitioning occurs from Kinship Care to Better Futures Home Stretch. Minimum qualifications required to be considered for these positions include: Tertiary qualification in Community Services, Social Work, Youth Work or related discipline.
To view position description and to apply click here.
Applications close 4:00 PM Friday 23 April 2021.
Family Preservation Worker x 1 FT – Mooroopna
To provide intensive support to Aboriginal families in a culturally respectful way and to support parents to maintain care or to resume care of their child/children who are referred to the Family Preservation Program by Child Protection. The Worker is responsible for the provision of all aspects of casework services to families referred to the Rumbalara Family Preservation Program Minimum qualifications required to be considered for these positions include: Diploma of Community Services and Welfare Studies or equivalent is preferred.
To view position description and to apply click here.
Applications close 4:00 PM Friday 23 April 2021.
Assessment Officer x 1 PT (3 days per week) – Shepperton
Undertake in home holistic assessments, for people wanting to access Aged Care and Disability related supports and then match the client or carer’s needs and goals to the most appropriate service. The position requires someone who is experienced with navigating funded supports such as the Home and Community Care Program for Younger People (HACC PYP), Commonwealth Home Support Program (CHSP), the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS); has an understanding of the issues faced by Indigenous and Torres Strait Islander people; and has Tertiary qualifications in Aged Care, Community Services, Case management or equivalent.
To view position description and to apply click here.
Applications close 4:00 PM Friday 23 April 2021.
Support Worker x Casual (flexible as per demand) – Shepperaton
Assist members of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community by providing direct support to clients and consumers in the delivery of services for Home and Community Care Program for Younger People (HACC PYP), Commonwealth Home Support Program (CHSP) and the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) offered by Rumbalara Aged Care and Disability Services. Minimum qualifications required to be considered for this position include: Qualifications in Certificate IV in Aged Care Work or equivalent, or willing to undertake such training.
To view position description and to apply click here.
In the latest episode of the Australian Healthcare and Hospital’s Association (AHHA) podcast, The Health Advocate, AHHA Strategic Programs Director, Dr Chris Bourke, speaks with St Vincent’s Health Network Sydney, Emergency Department Director, Dr Paul Preisz and Aboriginal Health Manager, Scott Daley, to discuss how St Vincent’s Health Network Sydney has improved health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients. While the hospital’s staff knew there was a problem in the Emergency Department with the delivery of care and the outcomes, for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients, NSW Health data highlighting the unacceptable treatment rates for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients was the final straw. This promoted a mandate from executives to improve results.
‘St Vincent’s work in improving health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients is a great example of how organisations can transform the delivery of care and offers many lessons for other organisations wanting to follow a similar path,’ said Dr Bourke.
You can view the AHHA press release here and listen to the podcast here.
Aboriginal Health Manager Scott Daley with a patient in St Vincent’s Hospital Emergency Department. Image source: ABC News website.
Wirraka Maya leads way in better patient management
An Aboriginal community health service in WA has produced record results in the use of technology to ensure better connected care for local patients. Senior Medical Officer at Wirraka Maya Health Service in Port Hedland, WA, Dr Yolande Knight said: “We rely on My Health Record to keep us updated on patient pathology, imaging, medication, dispensing and history records. “We find it helpful because a lot of our patients are transient, moving from one region to another, so it can be difficult to get their comprehensive files. We can see what other doctors have requested and performed, overcoming the delays waiting for records requested from other practices and providers.” Australian Digital Health Agency Consumer Advocate, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Champion and Co-Chair of the Agency’s Reconciliation Working Group and national Medicines Safety Program, Steve Renouf, congratulated Wirraka Maya for its commitment to digital health.
The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) is seeking feedbackon proposals to help ensure ongoing, reliable supply of important medicines.
Medicine shortages have been of particular concern during the COVID-19 pandemic and the TGA have been reviewing ways in which they can better assist affected Australian patients and their healthcare providers. Specifically, the TGA is seeking feedback on possible reforms that would:
prioritise the evaluation and registration process for certain important generic prescription medicines, to reduce the risk of shortages
encourage registration of more generic versions of medicines known to be affected by shortages, to mitigate the impact of those shortages
support a more reliable supply of overseas-registered medicines imported into Australia as substitutes when the Australian medicine is in longstanding or repeated shortage.
The consultation will close on Monday 17 May 2021.
Image source: Newsbook website.
Resources for First Peoples with Disability
A range of new accessible, culturally appropriate resources for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with disability have been released by the peak body First Peoples Disability Network (FPDN).
“Our community urgently needs information about the vaccine, so we have created a poster with culturally relevant information and artwork to let people know about what is happening and why,” said Damian Griffis, CEO of FPDN.
“During the pandemic, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with disability found it hard to get the right information about what was happening, and it looks like those lessons haven’t been learnt when it comes to the vaccine roll out.”
Little is known about how older Aboriginal adults access and engage with aged care services. A project has been initiated by the Port Augusta Community to address gaps in Aboriginal aged care and research is being conducted for the broader Aboriginal Eyre Peninsula Communities in partnership with the Adelaide Rural Clinical School Aboriginal research unit.
The lead researcher Kym Thomas, from Port Augusta, is an Aboriginal person, providing and ensuring that spirit and integrity are at the forefront of all community and stakeholder engagement and activities. Communities involved in the research include Port Augusta, Port Lincoln, Ceduna and Whyalla. Kym has been supported in his work by Associate Professor Pascale Dettwiller and Emma Richards.
Disadvantaged neighbourhoods can shape adolescent brains
Growing up in a poor or disadvantaged neighbourhood can affect the way adolescents’ brains function, according to new research. It can alter the communication between brain regions involved in planning, goal-setting and self-reflection. These brain changes can have consequences for cognitive function and wellbeing. But the good news is that positive home and school environments can mitigate some of these negative effects.
A “disadvantaged neighbourhood” is one in which people generally have lower levels of income, employment, and education. Growing up in these conditions can cause stress for children, and is associated with cognitive problems and mental health issues in young people.
It is not yet known exactly how this link between neighbourhood disadvantage and poor mental outcomes works, but it is thought that social disadvantage alters the way young people’s brains develop.
The fifth national report on the 21 Better Cardiac Care measures for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, with updated data available for 15 measures. The level of access for cardiac-related health services is improving for Indigenous Australians. While the mortality rate from cardiac conditions is falling among the Indigenous population, it is still higher than among non-Indigenous Australians. The incidence of acute rheumatic fever among Indigenous Australians continues to be much higher than in non-Indigenous Australians.
The prevalence of mental health issues is higher in people with a disability than in the general population. This means that often, a person who has both a physical, intellectual or neurological disability is also dealing with mental health challenges. There can be complexities in distinguishing mental health issues from intellectual or neurological disability and this can lead to mental health challenges not being recognised or identified. Participants will explore concepts of recovery, trauma and strength- based approaches to working with people with complex needs. They will use a recovery and biopsychosocial approach to meet their client’s needs.
Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Services (KAMS) are promoting a training course being delivered by the WA Association for Mental Health. For more details click here.
Image source: SBS News website.
Vaccinations being in regional SA AHS
Indigenous health workers in Mount Gambier have been among the first in SA to receive the AstraZeneca vaccine in Phase 1b of the national roll-out. 10 staff at Pangula Mannamurna Aboriginal Corporation were selected to receive the vaccine on Monday this week.
Outreach worker Catherine Bulner was the first of the group to roll up her sleeve and get the jab. She said she felt privileged to be the first South East Indigenous community member to get vaccinated. “I’m pretty fortunate to have it done in an Aboriginal community-controlled health service. “I think it’s really good that we can instil confidence in our community to get it done to protect not only ourselves, but our family and our community.”
Ms Bulner encouraged others to do the same to allow life to return to normal. “It’s unknown, but there’s plenty of information out there that can tell you all about it, if you need to make an informed decision before,” she said. “It’s not mandatory, but arm yourself with the information I did and you will be really confident to get it.” Transport worker Peter Brennan was also vaccinated and said it would provide him with a lot more confidence when conducting his work duties.
Indigenous transport worker Peter Brenna. Image source: ABC News website.
Keeping the momentum on eye health equity
The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander eye health sector entered 2020 with high hopes. The equity gap was still evident in measures of access to services and outcomes, but there was a continued positive trajectory towards the gap for vision being closed, with a strong sector driving change through collaborations on regional and state levels. 2020 was a target year for the elimination of trachoma, as well as to achieve equity and close the gap for vision.
The COVID-19 pandemic impacted the work of the sector in a number of ways. Many communities closed or reduced non-urgent visiting services, suspensions to elective surgery and reductions in permitted surgical loads and lockdowns in different parts of Australia to stop outbreaks, while necessary, meant that the already-existing waitlists for eye care became longer. The stronger impact on public hospitals, for example through lower caps on elective surgeries compared with private, has a disproportionate impact on population groups with the stronger reliance on the public system.
The impact on the sector’s work also includes the interruption to the positive momentum of change. Across Australia, regional and state-level groups of stakeholders involved with the provision of eye care services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples have been driving improvements in pathways and outcomes. The community-controlled sector has been key in leading this change.
Milpa the trachoma goanna supporting ‘Clean Faces, Strong Eyes’ health promotion messaging at an AFL game in Alice Springs NT. Image source: Partyline.
WA – Broome – University of WA
Research Fellow x 1 FT (Fixed Term) – Broome
The University of WA are seeking a skilled health researcher to conduct statistical analysis of real world health services data from current and future projects. This position will be based in the Kimberley where Rural Clinical School of WA (RCSWA) sites conduct collaborative research with health services into improving Aboriginal health and building research capacity. Under limited directions from Principal Research Fellow, Associate Professor Julia Marley and in close collaboration with the Kimberley Medical Services, you will provide impetus and capacity to research initiatives in the Kimberley region of WA.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander researchers are encouraged to apply.
To view the job advertisement, including the Position Description click here position descriptions and to apply click here.Applications close Monday 16 April 2021.
World Health Day 2021 – Building a fairer, healthier world
April 7 of each year marks the celebration of World Health Day. From its inception at the First Health Assembly in 1948 and since taking effect in 1950, the celebration has aimed to create awareness of a specific health theme to highlight a priority area of concern for the World Health Organization.
Over the past 50 years this has brought to light important health issues such as mental health, maternal and child care, and climate change. The celebration is marked by activities which extend beyond the day itself and serves as an opportunity to focus worldwide attention on these important aspects of global health.
To celebrate World Health Day the Australian Global Health Alliance is hosting a special online event where a line-up or expert guest speakers will share their reflections on this year’s theme ‘Building a fairer, healthier world’.
For more information about the event from12:00–1:00 PM AEST Wednesday 7 April 2021 and to register click here.
The first batch of potentially life-saving COVID-19 vaccine has arrived at Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Services in northern WA. “We knew our only way out of this was a vaccine – to be here 12 months later is a remarkable feat,” medical director Lorraine Anderson told AAP. Last Friday a thousand doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine were delivered to the Broome clinic by a courier, and health workers are due to begin delivering the jabs on Monday.
The medical service reaches just over half the Aboriginal population in the Kimberley, and it’s aiming to vaccinate 90 per cent of people in the remote communities it looks after. Dr Anderson said while some people are phoning constantly to ask when the jab will be available, there’s also been a lot of vaccine hesitancy, so staff began visiting remote communities about six weeks ago to answer questions. “We’ve been yarning and getting the message across and that’s really going to pay off,” the doctor said.
You can view the full article in The Corowa Free Press here.
The Central Australian Aboriginal Congress Aboriginal Corporation (CAAC) has also received the first vaccines destined for use in all CAAC clinics in Phase 1B of the national vaccine rollout. At CAAC, Phase 1B includes staff and Aboriginal people over the age of 18, living in town and Congress-serviced remote communities in Central Australia. This is very important for CAAC, who has been very active in the service delivery, advocacy and public health space since the start of the pandemic. “We’ve been gearing up for this for some time. We know that vaccines – and community immunity – are the way out of the pandemic, and the only way to keep our communities safe from the virus in the longer term” said CAAC CEO Donna Ah Chee.
Registered Aboriginal Health Practitioner Lynnette O’Bree receiving the COVID-19 vaccine. Image source: CAAC.
You can also view a short video about Aboriginal health services in the Top End campaigning to encourage Indigenous Territorians to get vaccinated against COVID-19 here.
Local Darwin Elder; Tina Murphy, community leader; Thomas Mayor and Danila Dilba Chair; Carol Stanislaus were among the first to receive the COVID-19 vaccine at Danila Dilba.
Cultural shawls encourage breast screening
Artwork by Echuca’s Alkina Johnson-Edwards has been chosen for the upcoming Beautiful Shawl Project at Njernda Aboriginal Corporation. The project is a partnership between the Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation and Breast Screen Victoria to address barriers facing indigenous women getting a breast screen.
It sees a local artist’s work printed onto shawls to be worn by women during their appointment in one of Breast Screen Victoria’s mobile vans. Ms Johnson-Edwards called her artwork Winyarr Malka, meaning “Woman Shield”, with the design representing the strength and support given to women affected by breast cancer. Njernda community engagement officer Kristie Hearn said the whole experience was designed to create a safe atmosphere for women.
The artwork designed by Alkina Johnson-Edwards will be printed on 100 shawls to make indigenous women feel more comfortable during breast screens. Image source: Riverine Herald.
ACCHOs well-equipped to deliver vaccine
According to NACCHO medical advisor, Dr Jason Agostino the “Aboriginal health sector is extremely [well] equipped in delivering large-scale immunisation programs and has been working hard to support communities during the pandemic.” To view The Guardian article Aboriginal health sector overcoming major challenges to deliver first Covid vaccine jabs with Dr Agostino’s comments click here.
Mallee District Aboriginal Service was one of the first ACCHOs to start vaccinating their community. Image source: Guardian Australia.
Vaccine benefits far outweigh unfounded clot links
The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) has commented on decisions in Europe to suspend the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine due to reports of a potential link with thrombotic (clotting) events. Based on evidence to date, the ATAGI do not see any reason to pause use of the AstraZeneca vaccine in Australia.
Thrombotic events occur commonly in the absence of vaccination and rates of thrombotic events are not higher in vaccine recipients than the expected background rate. No cases of coagulation disorders have been identified following COVID vaccination in Australia. Clotting disorders are designated as ‘adverse events of special interest’ that are closely monitored.
NACCHO is working on a project to create some support materials for pain management and the use of opioid medicines, including for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
We are looking for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people consumers and health professionals to take part in group discussion to understand the important issues so that the materials we make can be useful.
If you are a health consumer and experience pain and use opioids or are interested in pain management as a practitioner in your ACCHO we invite you to contribute to this project.
We will provide financial compensation for your participation.
To apply or learn more please contact Fran Vaughan at NACCHO by phone 02 6248 0644 or email email@example.com.
Image source: Practical Pain Management website.
Remote Jobs Plan for the NT
Aboriginal Peak Organisations NT (APONT) is calling on Aboriginal Affairs Minister Ken Wyatt and Minister for Families and Social Services Anne Ruston to get behind APONT’s Remote Jobs Plan for the NT. APONT Governing Group member, John Paterson said, “We have heard many comments from around the country today about the Commonwealth’s failed program to create 1,000 Jobs for remote Aboriginal people. The Canberra package has delivered just 99 jobs in the NT since 2019 yet we have the widest employment gap in Australia. Just 37% of Aboriginal people of working age have a job compared with more than 80% of non-Aboriginal Territorians. We must do so much better than 99 jobs.”
Mr Paterson added, “To make remote employment work, governments must face the fact that jobs out bush are rare and many are held by non-Aboriginal people. Resources in Aboriginal controlled organisations are also scarce. We have created an NT Jobs Plan that will create 5,000 jobs with a focus on training and employment of young people. Funding will be required for 5 years with an option to extend, so Aboriginal Controlled Organisations can create real jobs, reduce poverty, get people off CDP and provide some long term security for those positions.
Fence construction, Laramba, NT. Image source: Central Desert Regional Council.
Family violence support still lacking
Five years after the Royal Commission into Family Violence, rates of violence against Indigenous women continue to increase and organisations promised consistent funding say they still have to plead for money to develop programs. Antoinette Braybrook, the chief executive of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island family violence prevention and legal service Djirra, said Aboriginal children were still being taken away from families because “mothers are not supported to escape the violence”. Leaders working in specialised family violence services say a lack of long-term funding and not enough focus on prevention has failed to bring “everyone into the tent” and remove the barriers women face when trying to receive culturally sensitive support.
Indigenous adults are 32 times as likely to be hospitalised for family violence as non-Indigenous adults, and are more likely to be murdered by a family member, according to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. Productivity Commission research also shows the rate of Aboriginal children taken into out-of-home care is also increasing, with family violence shown to be the main driver of child removals.
This week marks the second phase of the national COVID-19 vaccine rollout which is targeting over six million higher-risk Australians. NACCHO CEO, Pat Turner say last week on ABC The Drum that “While the focus remains on those at highest risk – people over 55 or with chronic medical conditions – ACCHOs can also vaccinate family members and household members of those at high risk. A remote vaccine working group is considering a whole of community strategy – including all non-Indigenous and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults in the community.”
Minister for Indigenous Australians, the Hon Ken Wyatt AM, MP, Shadow Minister for Indigenous Australians, Linda Burney MP and Professor Tom Calma AO made time this morning to attend Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health and Community Service to receive their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
Minister Wyatt said “We have done a remarkable job so far in the fight against the COVID-19 virus, we cannot now become complacent. Vaccines are an important tool in our strategy and I urge all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to come forward and get vaccinated when they are able to. It will help protect themselves, their family and their community.”
To view the Minister Ken Wyatt’s media release click here and to read a transcript of Linda Burney’s doorstop interview click here.
Ken Wyatt, Linda Burney and Tom Calma were among Indigenous leaders to receive their first vaccine dose in Canberra this morning at Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health Service.
ACCHO’s first vaccine day incredibly successful
The first words from the first Aboriginal elder in Campbelltown to get his COVID-19 vaccine on Monday this week were those of love and gratitude for his people and those who kept them safe during the pandemic. “I love you, I love the work you do, and the people you serve,” elder Uncle Ivan Wellington told Darryl Wright, the chief executive of the Tharawal Aboriginal Corporation and the staff of its Aboriginal Medical Service (AMS) after he got the jab.
During the pandemic, the first priority at Tharawal was protecting elders. Tharawal health workers visited homes to deliver flu shots and do health checks, telephoned frequently and arranged for deliveries of food and vegetables. “If we lose our elders, we lose our entire library [of knowledge],” said Leonie Murdoch, 62, who was also vaccinated on Monday.
Dr Heather McKenzie, who is coordinating the vaccine roll-out at Tharawal, was excited about getting her injection because it would protect the community she serves. To prepare people before today’s injections Dr McKenzie had run a Q and A session about what to expect. Despite that, some were nervous, including Uncle Ivan who had heard about the rare blood clots experienced by some people. But Ms Murdoch reassured him, “They can treat that [blood clots], but they can’t treat COVID.”
When the medical service texted the community offering the first round of vaccinations on Monday, it was inundated. Every appointment was taken within 10 minutes, Mr Wright said. Dr Tim Senior, a doctor with Tharawal’s AMS, said nearly all the service’s 5,000 patients would qualify to be vaccinated during this phase because of problems with chronic disease and other health issues. “It would be a struggle to find people who aren’t eligible under 1B,” he said.
To view the full article in The Sydney Morning Heraldclick here.
Tharawal elder Uncle Ivan Wellington receives his first AstraZeneca vaccine from Tharawal Aboriginal Corporation GP Heather MacKenzie. Photograph: Tharawal Aboriginal Corporation. Image source: The Guardian.
The Guardian also reported on the second phase of Australia’s vaccine rollout. It said Aboriginal community health services across Australia have overcome major challenges including floods and wild weather to deliver their first Covid-19 vaccines to Aboriginal elders. “Our elders are our leaders and during the pandemic they continue to show us the way forward by proudly getting vaccinated first,” Dr Heather Mackenzie, from Tharawal Aboriginal Corporation, said.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have the highest rate of immunisation among the Australian population, according to NACCHO medical advisor, Dr Jason Agostino, who said “The Aboriginal health sector is extremely equipped in delivering large-scale immunisation programs and has been working hard to support communities during the pandemic.”
To view The Guardian’s article Aboriginal health sector overcoming major challenges to deliver first Covid vaccine jabsclick here.
‘I didn’t even feel it,’ says Cecil Phillips, 62, receiving his AstraZeneca vaccination by registered nurse, Sam Parimalanathan, at the Aboriginal Medical Service in Redfern. Photograph: Isabella Moore. Image source: The Guardian.
Community-based COVID-19 responses among best
The Consumers Health Forum (CHF) has welcomed the start of the 1b phase of the COVID vaccination rollout to older people and other vulnerable groups, urging the importance of the need for community patience and two-way communication between health authorities and consumers. The success of Australia’s response so far in keeping the spread of COVID to relatively low levels should not make us complacent about the priority of prompt vaccination of all Australians in the interests of our health and of the economy.
It is vital that people get the facts about the vaccine and the rollout from authoritative and readily accessible sources, including government websites and their GPs who, from this week, will be scaling up vaccination availability. The CHF CEO, Leanne Wells, said “A convincing example of just how effective community-based responses can be, has been the success in countering pandemic infections achieved by the member groups of NACCHO. The 107 NACCHO groups achieved among the best results in preventing COVID compared to similar entities anywhere in the world and that was because of the strong community engagement and leadership.”
To view the CHF’s media release in full click here.
Image source: The Medical Journal of Australia.
COVID-19 information for Victoria’s mob
The Victorian Government has developed a very useful COVID-19 information for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communitieswebpage.
The site says there are a couple of reasons why, for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, the risk of COVID-19 transmission is higher and it can cause more severe symptoms. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people over the age of 50 years, or who have a pre-existing health condition, such as diabetes, asthma, heart and lung conditions, or immune problems, are at higher risk of developing a severe illness associated with COVID-19. Younger Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people can also get COVID-19 and infect family, friends and elders. As a lot of mob often live under the same roof, it’s also harder to practise physical distancing and isolation, which increases the risk of spreading the disease within the community.
The webpage says that in order to slow the spread of COVID-19 in Victoria, we must all do our part. We know it’s tough, but together we can keep our families, mob and ourselves safe, strong and well. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community sector partners are working closely with government to coordinate response plans and ensure communities have the necessary information, resources and support they need.
Victorian Senator Lidia Thorpe. Image source: BBC News.
Updated health check templates survey
The Commonwealth Department of Health has endorsed recently updated Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health check templates developed in a partnership between NACCHO and the RACGP.
The NACCHO-RACGP Partnership Project Team is keen to hear your feedback on the templates by:
expressing interest to be one of 10 primary healthcare teams testing the templates between 12 April and 11 June 2021 by contacting the Team at firstname.lastname@example.org
Your feedback will support the team to understand what it takes to get these health check templates into practice and what other innovations can support quality health checks and primary healthcare for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
Image source: NT PHN & Rural Workforce Agency NT webpage.
Remote PHC Manuals update
The Remote Primary Health Care Manuals review process in underway. Monthly updates will be available to health services and other organisations to provide updates on the review process.
What’s new: new Acute Assessment Protocols are being developed to guide practitioners to assess emergencies and guide differential diagnoses.
Coming up next: Expert Advisory Groups have been working to update protocols.
This flyer provides further information about the RPHCM project, including what you need to do to become a reviewer or provide feedback on the new manuals.
Aboriginal-led ways to foster mental health
A report Balit Durn Durn – strong brain, mind, intellect and sense of self: report to the Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System was developed by the Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (VAACHO) to support the final report for the Royal Commission into Victoria’s (Vic) Mental Health System. The report outlines five Aboriginal-led ways to build strength, resilience, connectedness and identity in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and communities to create essential pathways for fostering positive mental health and wellbeing.
The report aims to provide an overview of Aboriginal communities’ experience with the current mental health system and offers innovative solutions that have the potential to dramatically transform the Victorian mental health system to better meet the needs of Aboriginal communities.
The Healing Foundation has been working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders in Queensland to co-design and develop the state’s first healing strategy. The Dreaming big process identified community issues and themes by the number of times keywords were mentioned in surveys and yarning circles.
The report outlines what over 400 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people from 80 different cultural groups in over 50 locations in Queensland, said when asked what healing means and what happy and strong feels like. The aim being to help transcend the divide between deficit-based solutions and strength-based outcomes.
To view the report Dreaming big – voices we heard: informing the Queensland Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Healing strategyclick here.
Healthier smiles in Loddon Mallee
Minister for Health Martin Foley says the Andrews Labor Government is ensuring Aboriginal children in the Loddon Mallee region have strong and healthy teeth. “The $360,000 Loddon Mallee Fluoride Varnish program will help protect 600 Aboriginal children in schools, Aboriginal-specific early years services and Aboriginal childcare organisations at heightened risk of tooth decay. Fluoride varnish applications reduce tooth decay in young children by 37% by providing a protective covering. The varnish also prevents an existing tooth decay from progressing further. The preventive oral health program provides including twice-yearly fluoride varnish applications, oral health promotion and free tooth packs to Aboriginal children across the Loddon Mallee region. The expanded program builds on a successful pilot in 2018/20, which reached 200 Aboriginal children aged up to 18 across the region.”
To view the Victoria State Government media release click here and to view a related article Bendigo and District Aboriginal Cooperativeto deliver Fluoride Varnish programclick here.
Image source: Bendigo Advertiser.
Proposed NT youth justice changes flawed
Australia’s only national First Nations-led justice coalition has warned that the NT Gunner Government’s proposed youth justice reforms will see the number of Aboriginal children behind bars skyrocket. The reforms are highly punitive and will disproportionately drive Aboriginal kids into police and prison cells. Change the Record has highlighted that the proposed law changes fly in the face of the Royal Commission recommendations to invest in supporting children outside of the criminal justice system and move away from the ‘tough on crime’ policies that have been proven to fail. Change the Record, Co-Chair Cheryl Axleby said “If the NT Government goes ahead with these youth justice reforms it will take the Northern Territory back to the dark days before the Royal Commission when Don Dale was full of Aboriginal children being subjected to the most horrendous abuse.”
The NT Council of Social Service and Amnesty International Australia have also expressed concerns about the proposed changes to the NT’s youth justice system. “This is a callous, racist legislative crackdown in search of a problem,” Amnesty International Australia Indigenous Rights Advocate, Rodney Dillon, said. “Chief Minister Gunner has picked up the Royal Commission report and thrown it in the bin. Let’s be clear: no one wants youth crime. But cracking down on Indigenous kids – because all the kids in the NT justice system are Indigenous – who have complex needs, by throwing them in jail fixes nothing. What it does is condemn young kids to the quicksand of the youth justice system, and it entrenches recidivism, which is what all the politicians say they want to address,” Dillon said.
You can view the Change the Record media release here, the NTCOSS media release here and the Amnesty International Australia media release here.
Image source: Change the Record website.
NSW – Sydney – The University of Sydney
Research Assistant (Identified) x 1 FT (Fixed Term) – Sydney
The Centre for Kidney Research are seeking a Research Assistant (Identified) to work on a project alongside a team of researchers and educators. This project aims to develop clinical practice guidelines on the management of chronic kidney disease in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the management of kidney stones.
You will join the project at an interesting stage and will be responsible for actively contributing to research activities for the project including, building relationships and engaging with Aboriginal people and communities to ensure that the clinical guidelines are incorporating community needs and promoting awareness of the guidelines to improve the management and prevention of kidney disease.
To view position description and to apply click here.Applications close midnight Monday 5 April 2021.
Image source: Kettering Health Network.
Purple Day (Friday 26 March 2021) is a global initiative dedicated to raising epilepsy awareness. Purple Day was founded in 2008, by nine-year-old Cassidy Megan of Nova Scotia, Canada. Motivated by her own struggles with epilepsy, Cassidy started Purple Day to get people talking about the condition and to let those impacted by seizures know that they are not alone. She named the day, Purple Day after the internationally recognised colour for epilepsy, lavender.
Purple Day has grown into a well-known and supported national awareness day with thousands of people across Australia gathering within their community, education and corporate sectors to raise much needed awareness and funds for those affected by epilepsy. You can access epilepsy information for Indigenous communities here.
While Liverpool became a COVID-19 hotspot during the pandemic, not one case was recorded at the Gandangara clinic. Medical adviser to NACCHO, Jason Agostino, said Indigenous leadership was critical in this achievement. “All the ACCHOs across the country have just been really incredible in getting messages out to their communities about how to stay safe in the initial part of the pandemic and in those spots where there have been outbreaks, places in Melbourne, in Brisbane, have just been exceptional in supporting their communities and keeping them safe,” he said. “So it’s been a whole bunch of things all put together but at the heart of it is leadership by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.”
The second phase of the nation’s COVID-19 vaccine roll-out started today with 33 ACCHOs being the first to administer the jab, including the Gandangara Local Aboriginal Land Council’s health service in Liverpool, in Sydney’s south-west.
But questions remain within the community about the vaccine. “A lot of them are saying yes, a lot of them are just not sure,” said Dunghutti elder and Gandangara Local Aboriginal Land Council board member Aunty Gail Smith. Aunty Gail, who’s worked in the health industry for almost 40 years, said despite the community’s low case numbers the pandemic had had a huge impact. “It was a big strain because they couldn’t go out or meet their families, a lot of us come from country areas we couldn’t go there as well,” she said. “I think it’s been tough across the board for everybody… but now we’re slowly getting back to it. I encourage everyone if they could, it’s up to them, [but] if its gonna help our community and our people, why not, because we’re survivors and we want to survive for our next generations as well.”
Dunghutti Elder and Gandangara Local Aboriginal Land Council board member Aunty Gail Smith. Image source: ABC News website.
Kimberley Aboriginal Health Research Alliance launched
Kimberley-based Aboriginal community-controlled and government health services, research institutes and universities have united to form the Kimberley Aboriginal Health Research Alliance (KAHRA) with the objective of improving and promoting the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal people in the Kimberley through the development and application of practical health research. This collaboration combines the power of research to drive evidence-based change, the commitment of regional health services, and the vast cultural knowledge and strength of communities.
The development of collaborative projects utilising the strengths of the Alliance will seek to drive change to health outcomes, policy and services within the Kimberley and ultimately improve health outcomes of Kimberley Aboriginal community members. KAHRA has already seen unprecedented collaboration across health services in the region, with a collective voice advocating for better use of data to inform health service delivery in the region. Work has begun on a project to enable health services and researchers to see the full picture of disease burden in the region.
KAMS CEO Vicki O’Donnell speaking at the launch of KAHRA.
Rhetoric and action gap needs to close
As communities across Australia mark National Close the Gap Day, leaders of the Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress (UAICC), the Uniting Church and UnitingCare Australia have come together to call for enduring reforms to support self-determination and tangible outcomes for First Peoples. According to Pastor Mark Kickett, UAICC Interim Chair, “after 13 years of Closing the Gap, it is time to turn rhetoric into real action that genuinely empowers First Peoples and delivers lasting benefits.
Pastor Kickett continued, “the new National Agreement on Closing the Gap has the potential to be a gamechanger. But we are yet to see the structural change and funding commitments needed to achieve real reform, and pressure needs to be kept on governments to maintain their commitments and to apply the principles of reform that they signed off in 2020. Real change requires more than words and minor policy tinkering. It requires closing the gap between rhetoric and action. And it requires enduring structural and constitutional reform to empower First Peoples to take leadership in their affairs, in true partnership with government. The response of our communities to COVID-19 demonstrated the benefits of community-led action and the enduring resilience, creativity, and decisiveness of First Peoples leaders and governance.”
Uniting Church in Australia President Dr Deidre Palmer said the Uniting Church lamented with First Peoples the ongoing health inequality, lack of self-determination, experiences of racism, high incarceration rates and the tragic prevalence of preventable deaths in custody. Dr Palmer said investing in solutions led by First Peoples was key to Closing the Gap.
Mutitjulu elders at Uluru. Photo by Jimmy Widders Hunt. Image source: BBC News.
Aged care fails remote communities
For the last five years, Mary Dadbalag, aged in her 90s and confined to a wheelchair, has been living in a tent on a verandah in the NT remote community of Jibena. For the last three years, her granddaughter Jacqueline Phillips has been knocking on every government service provider’s door she can think of asking for help to get her grandmother a bedroom built with a toilet attached. She said her grandmother is living in the tent at the edge of what she described as a “chicken house” because she can’t get to the nearest toilet 20 metres away over grass in her wheelchair, but she can shuffle to the edge of the verandah.
“It’s upsetting, not healthy and not hygienic. Like, her tent is just right next to where she does her toilets. She’s a great, great, great-grandmother, one of the last elders of our region and she’s just not being respected.” Ms Phillips is worried her grandmother may continue to fall through the cracks. “There needs to be better aged care services, especially for the people on the homelands,” she said. “We really need the federal government to listen to the very remote communities and provide that service, it’s human rights.”
Mary Dadbalag has been living in a tent on the veranda of a makeshift home. Image source: ABC News.
High youth detention FASD rates acknowledged
Danila Dilba Health Service has welcomed the release of the Senate’s report on effective approaches to prevention, diagnosis, and support for Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) (17 March 2021). Danila Dilba provides comprehensive primary health services within the Darwin/Palmerston region, including to many children and families impacted by FASD or other neurodevelopmental impairments. The release of the Senate’s report the day before National Close The Gap Day provides a timely reminder of the tangible ways the government can fulfil its commitment to address the health gap between First Nations and non-Indigenous Australians.
The report highlights the need to incorporate FASD prevention, assessment, and management into a comprehensive primary health care model. In particular, the Senate Committee recognises the importance of Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations (ACCHOs) like Danila Dilba in delivering culturally appropriate, holistic care to families affected by FASD.
Danila Dilba’s Head of Clinical Governance, Dr Andrew Webster, gave evidence to the inquiry about the lack of culturally appropriate assessment, therapeutic interventions, and support for children with FASD and their families, “ACCHOs can provide a ‘one-stop shop’ within a trusted service rather than families having to go through the process of diagnosis and therapy with multiple providers. Sadly, due to the barriers to assessment, many children suffering from FASD or other impairments do not get a diagnosis, and so are unable to receive the supports that they need. It is these children that we then unfortunately see coming to the attention of the child protection and justice systems.”
To view Danila Dilba’s media release in full click here.
Image source: The Conversation.
International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination
Yesterday the ACT Council of Social Service (ACTCOSS) celebrated the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination and called upon Canberrans to reflect on their personal responsibility in combatting racism. “This year’s theme is ‘Youth standing up against Racism’, and it is an opportunity to reflect on the power that young people have in shifting narratives and creating change, both online and in person,” said ACTCOSS CEO Dr Emma Campbell. “Over the past year, the Black Lives Matter movement has brought racism to the forefront of global conversation. In Australia it drew attention to the overrepresentation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in our justice system, and reignited conversations about racism and implicit bias more broadly.”
To view the ACTCOSS media release in full click here.
Diabetes management in Aboriginal communities webinar
The first webcast session of a four-part series of interprofessional webinars focusing on Diabetes management in an Aboriginal community will be held from 12:30–1:30 PM this Thursday 25 March 2021.
The webcast, Prevention and Control of Type-2 Diabetes in Aboriginal Communities: Changing Dietary, Activity and Lifestyle Patterns will explore evidence-based approaches and practical strategies for nutrition, exercise, lifestyle and behaviour changes to support the prevention and management of diabetes in Aboriginal people. Barriers and solutions to improving engagement with Aboriginal communities will also be discussed.
Diabetes is a complex condition that can impact people in different ways. It has a significant impact on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. This webcast provides an overview of the prevalence of diabetes in the Aboriginal population, discusses risk factors for early diabetes detection and focuses on the key lifestyle behaviours for the prevention and management of diabetes. Key nutritional considerations relating to the use of whole foods, fibre, carbohydrates and how to shop on a budget will be discussed. Further to this, stress management, importance of sleep, exercise, flexibility and ways to reduce sedentary behaviour will be covered. The presenters will also discuss their local Aboriginal community group programs, including culturally safe practices.
For more information you can download an event flyer here and register here.
The theme of International Women’s Day 2021 (Monday 8 March) ‘Choose to Challenge’, highlights the power of challenge in any environment, with an emphasis on calling out gender bias and equality. Celebrating all that is ‘girl power’, fierce females, and women who advocate for their people is what this day is all about. First Nations women are pioneers when it comes to advocating for equality — not just standing up against sexism and misogyny, but racism too.
To celebrate IWD 2021, journalist Jennetta Quinn-Bates made a list of First Nations women who are making waves in their chosen industries and professions, and definitely “Choose to Challenge” in their everyday lives and careers. Jennetta said they’re the ones we look to for inspiration to keep us going. The ones who’s pages we head to when there are important matters involving our communities, knowing they’ll be doing their best to use their voices. They’re the ones who aren’t afraid to speak up for the mob, to be proud, and to continue the journey our ancestors started.
NT Minister for Health, Natasha Fyles, says Manayingkarirra Primary Health Centre in Maningrida has been handed over to Aboriginal control, as part of the Territory Labor Government’s commitment to local decision making. Mala’la Health Service Aboriginal Corporation are now overseeing the delivery of health care services for the community, and surrounding homelands in Central Arnhem Land. Maningrida is one of the Territory’s busiest remote health centres. It carries out 4,000 consultations per month for more than 2,700 residents.
To view the NT Minister for Health’s media release in full click here.
Manayingkarirra Primary Health Care Centre, Maningrida. Image source: West Arnhem Regional Council website.
To view a statement from Charlie Gunabarra, Chairperson of Mala’la Health Service Aboriginal Corporation regarding the importance of this transition to the Maningrida community click here.
Charlie Gunabarra, Chairperson Mala’la Health Service Aboriginal Corporation. Image source: West Arnhem Regional Council website.
Vaccine rollout to support Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander peoples
The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) have said that as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have an increased risk of acquiring and developing serious outcomes from communicable diseases due to multiple factors it is critical that the COVID-19 vaccine program is designed and delivered in a manner which is accessible, inclusive and culturally safe. This includes ensuring communications are developed and targeted for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and that information and services are delivered in appropriate languages and formats and within appropriate facilities and locations.
A comprehensive vaccine implementation plan (the Plan) has been developed in consultation with the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health sector through the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Advisory Group on COVID-19, and with state and territory governments. This Plan has been built on principles aligned with the Management Plan for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Populations, including shared decision-making between Governments and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples; community control and cultural safety across the whole-of-population system.
To view the Minister for Health and Aged Care, Greg Hunt’s media release click here.
Image source: UNSW Sydney Newsroom website.
Indigenous groups want bigger role in aged care
The final report from the Aged Care Royal Commission found one major area of concern is the plight of elderly Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Indigenous-run service providers say they’re hopeful the government will act on a key recommendation from the report, to give them a more prominent role in running aged care for First Nations people.
You can listen to the segment on the ABC The World Today featuring Features Jody Currie from The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community Health Service Brisbane and Jayne Lawrence from Charles Sturt University here.
Image source: Industry Skills Advisory Council NT website.
Doctors combat vaccine hesitancy in Aboriginal communities
Indigenous Australians are extremely vulnerable to COVID-19 and doctors fear vaccine hesitancy could increase the risks. There are more than 14,000 kms between Mparntwe (Alice Springs) and the Navajo Nation in the United States desert, but the regions have much more in common than red sand. Indigenous peoples in North America share many cultural and family values with the First Peoples of Australia and suffer similarly poor health outcomes from colonisation, a connection that has brought the two groups together for generations.
Now, one of the places in the US hit hardest by COVID-19 is playing an important role in helping combat vaccine hesitancy amongst First Nations folks in remote Australia. “The [Northern Territory has] had no direct experience of the devastation this virus causes. We’ve only had images from elsewhere,” said Dr John Boffa, chief medical officer at the Central Australian Aboriginal Congress. Indigenous Australians are extremely vulnerable to COVID-19 due to the prevalence of underlying health issues such as diabetes, rheumatic heart disease and kidney disease ― a burden they’ve been forced to bear since colonisation. Crowded living conditions can also increase risks.
This time last year Indigenous people over 50 were advised to stay home “to the maximum extent practical” and rural communities were locked down completely. At the start of the pandemic, many Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations (ACCHOs) didn’t have enough PPE and there were fears a COVID-19 outbreak would rob Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people not only of their lives, but of their elders, language and cultural practices too. The biggest challenge ahead, according to Boffa, is convincing First Nations people it’s safe and still important to get inoculated. His team is planning a Zoom call with Navajo leaders so that local elders and community members can hear about the Americans’ experience with the jab.
The House of Representatives Select Committee on Mental Health and Suicide Preventionrecently launched an inquiry. The committee will examine the findings of the Productivity Commission Inquiry Report into Mental Health, the Report of the National Suicide Prevention Officer, the Victorian Royal Commission, the National Mental Health Workforce Strategy and other recent strategic reviews of the current mental health system, taking into account the 2019 bushfires and COVID-19 pandemic and the capacity of the mental health workforce to respond to such events. The Committee will also consider other matters not addressed by these recent reviews.
The Committee would welcome your organisation’s views and invites you to make a submission addressing any or all of the Terms of Reference.
Further information about the inquiry is available here. For detailed information on preparing a submission, including information about parliamentary privilege and requests for confidentiality, click here.
Submissions should be submitted to the Committee by 24 March.
Image source: UNSW Sydney Newsroom website.
NT Generational Change Impact Report released
Minister for Youth and Children, Lauren Moss, said the Generational Change Impact Report released today marks the halfway point of the NT Government’s multi-targeted reform program. Keeping Territory children and families safe, thriving and connected are the cornerstones of the Report, with data indicating that we are heading in the right direction. Highlights include decreases in the rate of children in care and child protection notifications, including: A 39% decrease in the rate of Aboriginal children substantiated for child abuse and neglect – going from 63.5 per 1,000 children substantiated in the NT in 2016–17 to 38.6 per 1,000 children in 2018–19. The proportion of Aboriginal children in out-of-home care in the NT continues to be well below the Australian rate. In 2018–19, 36.6 per 1,000 Aboriginal children in the NT were in out of home care compared to 54.2 per 1,000 Aboriginal children Australia wide.
To view the Minister Moss’ media release click here.
Image source: Katherine Times.
Health literacy and equity research findings
Croakey have published a special edition with the title ‘Equity and health literacy: Using emerging evidence to inform the development of the National Preventive Health Strategy’. The authors note that ‘health literacy’ has multiple definitions that encompass individual, population and environmental health literacy – with the underlying tenet being that it is critical for health and health equity, and is a social determinant of health.
The literature on equity and health literacy is relatively diffuse, often lost across multiple sectors and with limited systematic research that provides clear, actionable processes by which health literacy can drive health equity forward, they say. Hence, emerging evidence is often inaccessible to policymakers and poorly utilised by health practitioners in clinical settings. This special edition aims to address “the knowledge deficit around equity and health literacy”.
This special edition resulted from a partnership between the journal and the NT Primary Health Network, and five guest editors. It led to an “overwhelming” response and 21 papers accepted for publication. “To our knowledge, this special issue is the largest collection of articles dedicated to the topic of equity and health literacy, ever published in an Australasian peer‐reviewed academic journal,” the authors say. “We encourage Minister for Health, Expert Steering Committee, senior bureaucrats and policy staff to actively engage with the content of this special issue and purposively embed key findings into the National Preventive Health Strategy.”
Fear for pets – barrier to leaving family violence
A woman’s decision to leave a violent and abusive relationship is a complex process. She first needs to consider the risks to her and her children. Paradoxically, taking that step towards safety is also the time of greatest danger of homicide, sexual assault and increased violence. Pets and service animals are also a part of the lives of many families. This means they are an important part of the decision-making process when women consider leaving a violent situation.
The pets may be a critical source of therapeutic support, but they may also be at risk of harm and used to exert control over people (“you leave and you won’t see those animals again”). Animals’ central role in family life means many victim-survivors of family violence are reluctant to leave because they fear their pets will be harmed. To combat this, a family violence motion has been presented in the Victorian parliament that seeks to recognise animal abuse as a form of family violence. If all elements were adopted, it would increase the safety of women and children.
To view the full article in The Conversationclick here.
Image source: Warlukurlangu Artists of Yuendumu website.
International Women’s Day 2021
Yesterday (8 March 2021) was International Women’s Day 2021. June Oscar AO, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner released a statement saying “Today, my team and I, at the Australian Human Rights Commission, are celebrating the power and potential of all our deadly Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and girls across Australia. This year’s International Women’s Day theme is, ‘Women in Leadership: Achieving an equal future in a Covid-19 world’.”
“This theme makes me think about all our women and girls who carry the determination, knowledge and wisdom from an ancient lineage of matriarchs. Our ancestral mothers—who walked this land for millennia—have always shown remarkable leadership in nurturing and growing our societies into the oldest living civilizations on earth. Throughout this span of time our women and peoples have led through and beyond crisis. We know how to survive and thrive.”
“That legacy and all our women and girls’ diverse strengths, expertise and lived experiences are held within the Wiyi Yani U Thangani (Women’s Voices) Report and Community Guide, which can be accessed here. It is the first report to hear from our women and girls as a collective since 1986. Wiyi Yani U Thangani was brought into being because of your voices. It belongs to you, to all our First Nations women and girls.”
To view June Oscar’s statement in full click here.
In another article, University of Queensland academic, Associate Professor Chelsea Watego looked at the absence of Indigenous voices on International Woman’s Day 2021. She said the cancellation of a number of invitations for her sit on panels showed how Indigenous woman is only ever a subset of the category of woman when convenient. To read this article in full click here.
University of Queensland academic, Associate Professor Chelsea Watego. Image source: The Sydney Morning Herald.
AHW first in Kimberley to receive COVID-19 vaccine
An Indigenous health worker has become the first resident of northern WA to receive a COVID-19 vaccination as the rollout extends across the state. Nyikina Nyul Nyul woman Emily Hunter has been working on the frontline during the pandemic as a senior nurse at Broome Hospital. After receiving the Pfizer jab, she said she hoped to the be first of many residents in the region to be vaccinated. “I’m quite proud to be the first person in the Kimberley,” she said. “Twelve months ago everyone was terrified about what was going to happen and no one knew anything about COVID-19. I hope others follow suit as well.” To view the ABC News article in full click here.
Nyikina Nyul Nyul nurse Emily Hunter was the first Kimberley person to receive the COVID-19 vaccination. Photo: Erin Parke. Image source: ABC News website.
SA – Adelaide – CRANAplus – improving remote health
Registered Psychologist/Senior Psychologist x 1 PT or FT – Adelaide
CRANAplus is the peak professional body for health professionals working in remote and isolated areas across Australia. They exist to ensure the delivery of safe, high quality primary healthcare to remote and isolated areas of Australia. CRANplus is an affordable, grassroots, not-for profit, membership based organisation that has provided nearly 40 years of education, support and professional services for the multi-disciplinary remote health workforce. CRANAplus is a values-based organisation, that genuinely embraces diversity, flexibility, and innovation in everything they do.
CRANAplus has a vacancy for a Registered Psychologist/Senior Psychologist (Mental Health & Wellbeing Service) who will be responsible for the development and delivery of high-quality psychological and wellbeing support services to health professionals and their families, across rural and remote communities in Australia.
To view the position description and to apply click here.Applications close Sunday 28 March 2021.
National Day of Women Living with HIV
Today (Tuesday 9 March), the National Network of Women Living with HIV (Femfatales), celebrate the 6th National Day of Women Living with HIV. This year’s theme ‘Taking Control of Our Health’, reminds all women, regardless of our HIV status, to focus on our own health and wellbeing. The day is being hosted by the National Association for People with HIV Australia (NAPWHA), Australia’s peak non-government organisation representing community-based groups of people living with HIV across Australia. To view the NAPWHA Femfatales media release click here.
During the recent and ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, many of us have neglected or postponed our sexual and reproductive health checks. Now is the time to resume our crucially important health tests, such as blood pressure, cholesterol, cervical screening tests, breast checks and sexual health screens including a HIV test, said Ms Katherine Leane, Chair of Femfatales. Information about some of the key issues for women living with HIV can be accessed on the National Association for People with HIV Australia (NAPWHA) website here.
You can view a special HIV is: Just a Part of Me video release featuring Jane Costello (CEO of Positive Life NSW), Natasha Io (Board Member of Positive Life NSW), and Michelle Tobin (Aboriginal woman of the Yorta Yorta Nation who is also a descendant of the Stolen Generation) here.
Michelle Tobin, Aboriginal woman of the Yorta Yorta Nation and descendant of the Stolen Generation.
Kidney Health Week – 15–21 March
With 1 in 3 Australians adults at risk of kidney disease, this Kidney Health Week, Kidney Health Australia is calling out to all Australians, particularly those living with diabetes and/or hypertension, to get a Kidney Health Check. Last September Kidney Health Australia launched its early detection campaign, #nofilter, featuring Shane and his family. Shane was diagnosed with kidney disease following detection of high blood pressure. The campaign showed the impact dialysis had on his and his family’s life. Tragically, Shane passed away from a heart attack in December 2020, at just 48 years old.
As a tribute to him, his wife Jodie and five daughters will be featuring in the campaign during Kidney Health Week to carry on the fight in Shane’s name and get the message out about early detection. While the campaign does carry a heartbreaking message about Shane’s battle with kidney disease, it also carries a message of hope – that if caught early enough, Progression of kidney disease can be slowed down or even stopped.
For more information about Kidney Health Week 2021, Monday 15 March to Sunday 21 March click here.
Pilbara Aboriginal Health Alliance launch
The Pilbara Aboriginal Health Alliance (PAHA) is a partnership between the three Aboriginal Community Health Organisations (ACCHOs) based in the Pilbara region of WA, namely, Mawarnkarra Health Service; Wirraka Maya Health Service; and Puntukurnu Aboriginal Medical Service (Member ACCHOs). The priority for PAHA and its Member ACCHOs is to improve the health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, families and communities, in the Pilbara region.
The Member ACCHOs met in June 2019 to discuss the re-establishment of a Pilbara Aboriginal Health representative body. It was agreed that PAHA would be established to advocate for and represent the Members ACCHOs. An interim Coordinator was appointed in February 2020 to undertake the actions required to set up PAHA; coordinate PAHA meetings; and carry out the directions of the PAHA Directors. The greatest concerns to PAHA are the life expectancy of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families in the Pilbara; the chronic diseases impacting families; providing access to holistic health services; the impact of grief and loss on families; and increasing the level of health services and programs available to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community. The launch of PAHA will take place on Friday 19 March.