NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: NDIS workforce critical given high disability rates

feature tile text 'NDIS workforce critical given high rates of disability among First Nations peoples' & rear silhouette view of elderly lady in wheelchair looking up at blue sky & clouds

NDIS workforce critical given high disability rates

NACCHO CEO recently appeared before the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) Joint Committee. In her opening comments, Pat Turner said “the NDIS workforce is an absolutely critical issue for our people and communities, given our high rates of disability. As you are aware, the National Agreement on Closing the Gap demonstrates a commitment from all levels of government to changing the way policies and programs affecting our people are developed and delivered.”

“Shared decision-making between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and government, strengthening the community controlled sector, improving mainstream organisations, and improving collection of and access to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander data are the priority reforms that underpin the national agreement. NACCHO’s submission [to the NDIS Joint Committee] outlines the need for and provides recommendations about how government can support and build a sustainable, community controlled NDIS workforce.”

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are twice as likely to experience a disability as other Australians. Currently, 9.6% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are NDIS participants. However, there is a severe underutilisation of plans by Aboriginal and Torres Strait people nationally when compared to other Australians. A key barrier for many of our people who are currently on NDIS plans is that they are unable to access culturally safe services or, in many cases, any services. I need to make this very clear: this is not just a remote issue but one also faced by our regional and urban communities. To ensure the successful uptake and utilisation of NDIS and disability services, a multidisciplinary and competent workforce is needed to support and provide services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

However, the community controlled care and health sector is facing major workforce challenges where demand will outstrip the supply of suitably skilled and job-ready Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander employees. This shortage will impact access to culturally appropriate, effective and efficient support and assistance needed by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

To access the full transcript of what Pat Turner said at the NDIS Joint Committee click here.

Pat Turner. Image source: Sydney Morning Herald.

Most vaccinated community in Central Australia

The low rate of COVID-19 vaccinations in Indigenous Australians continues to cause concern for politicians desperate to reopen borders, but one community near Alice Springs has turned that on its head with 94% of the eligible population having received at least one dose.

One major reason for the community’s success was the push by Sarah Gallagher, a long-term health worker in the community, who has almost single-handedly persuaded residents to get the jab.  “We’ve seen it everywhere. Our community heard about it, seen the news, it’s everywhere,” she said. “Our community people have been saying, ‘we’ve got to think about ourselves here. This is a good community, we need to go to the clinic and get vaccinated’.”

Health workers who service the community have also credited strong male leadership in the community in the uptake success. Jonathan Doolan, who has lived in Utju for 20 years, said the community had felt fear and uncertainty about COVID. “Some are getting scared of this thing and some really aren’t sure what they need to do,” said Mr Doolan. “We’re giving them the message and people will come to have the needle, have the thing.”

The combined efforts of Ms Gallagher’s commitment to her community and Mr Doolan’s leadership, has led to success, but the formula has proven difficult to replicate in other communities struggling to promote vaccination. “People trust me. I live here in my community and people trust me,” Ms Gallagher said. The health clinic in Utju is run by the Indigenous-controlled Central Australian Aboriginal Congress (CAAC) and not the NT Government, which is the case for some other remote health clinics.

To view the ABC News article in full click here.

Sarah Gallagher & Jonathan Dooley, Areyonga

Sarah Gallagher and Jonathan Dooley have been crucial in encouraging residents of Areyonga to get vaccinated. Photo: Steven Schubert, ABC Alice Springs. Image source: ABC News.

New COVID-19 vax resources from NSW Health

NSW Health have put together a range of updated COVID-19 vaccination resources for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, including:

  • updated sorry business poster and factsheet to reflect new restrictions
  • updated self-isolation rules
  • new community champion vaccination postcards
  • community champion videos: Blake Tatafu; BudjerahCorey Tutt; Lesley Armstrong
  • updated ‘release and recovery from COVID-19’ factsheet with new advice about vaccination for recovered cases.

All the above resources, as well as the social media resources listed below, can be found on the NSW Government website here.

NSW Health will also be hosting another Yarn Up Q&A at 3:00PM Tuesday 26 October 2021 on the NSW Health Facebook page. This series will focus on the facts about COVID-19 vaccination, responding to some of the misinformation circulating through the community. If you have any questions you think would be valuable to include, please let Helen Gardiner, Aboriginal Health COIVD-19 Communications Lead, Centre for Aboriginal Health, NSW Government know by midday this Thursday 21 October 2021 using this email link.

Youth call for action on “missing middle”

Young leaders have released a Call to Action to promote a much stronger role for young Australians in the design of health services to meet the “missing middle” needs of teenagers and young adults in health policy. The Call to Action seeks innovations including the creation of a youth healthcare card, a National Youth Commissioner and education in schools to promote understanding of the health system.

The call flows from the recent Youth Health Forum National Summit which brought together hundreds of advocates and young people from across Australia to discuss the health system challenges experienced by people aged 18 to 30. This age group has been identified in the report Life Transitions and Youth Pathways to Health services report as the “missing middle” in healthcare, experiencing limited engagement in the health sector and worsening outcomes.

“Changes need to be made within the health system to ensure that young people are able to live their healthiest lives. For these changes to be effective and sustainable, we are directly engaging and listening to young health consumers who are most impacted by the system,” the spokesperson for the Youth Health Forum, Roxxanne MacDonald, said.

To view the CHF media release in full click here.

legs of 5 young people sitting with laptops

Image source: Pro Bono Australia.

$93m to extend Indigenous programs

The Morrison Government is investing more than $93 million into 224 organisations to extend a range of Indigenous programs across early childhood, schooling, vocational education and training, and safety and wellbeing projects. Minister for Indigenous Australians, the Hon Ken Wyatt AM, MP, said the funding continues many successful programs that address essential service gaps and meet community needs.

“Our commitment to initiatives that help realise better outcomes for Indigenous Australians is unwavering – this funding will help deliver a raft of critical services, particularly to improve early life outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children.” “224 organisations will receive funding from the Indigenous Advancement Strategy, allowing them to plan and deliver 253 activities and services for Indigenous Australians.

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

7 young Aboriginal kids jumping in the air, grass underfoot & blue sky

Image source: The Australian.

EOIs sought for Project ECHO Steering Group

The COVID-19 pandemic has had an impact on the use of alcohol and other substances and delivery of treatment services across Australia, and has reinforced the key role primary care, and particularly general practice, plays in keeping people well in the community.

GPs often see the impact of alcohol and drug use on people’s wellbeing and are well placed to offer support. Just like other health problems, substance use issues can be treated, with treatment generally more effective if initiated early.

To build confidence and capability of primary care practitioners to support people experiencing alcohol and other drug (AOD) issues, WA Primary Health Alliance (WAPHA) are establishing WA’s first Project ECHO (Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes). Project ECHO is an evidence-based model which places healthcare providers from diverse settings in direct contact with subject matter experts, empowering them to provide best practice care for their local communities.

WAPHA is seeking expressions of interest (EOIs) from GPs and other health professionals to be part of a Steering Group to guide the development and implementation of Project ECHO. The Steering Committee will provide leadership, oversight and direction; monitor progress; progress relevant actions and contribute to project evaluation.

WAPHA is seeking applications from:

  • General Practitioners (with advanced experience and/or an AOD speciality as well as early career practitioners with a special interest in AOD)
  • Aboriginal Health Practitioners
  • Pharmacists
  • Nurses
  • Other Allied Health professionals and
  • Consumers who use AOD services

If this sounds like you then please submit your EOI here by COB Friday 5 November 2021.

For more information about Project ECHO click here.

banner, vector sign text 'Project ECHO'

Indigenous Justice Research Program established

The national Indigenous Justice Research Program (IJRP) has been established as part of the Morrison Government’s commitment to the National Agreement on Closing the Gap. The IJRP will fund academic research relating to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander criminal justice and aim to reduce the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in detention.

Minister for Home Affairs Karen Andrews said closing the gap was vitally important, not just for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples but for all Australians. “This new research program will build a body of evidence to inform improvements to criminal justice polices and responses as they relate to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander individuals interacting with the justice system,” Minister Andrews said. Minister Wyatt said a solid research and evidence base will support all parties to meet and exceed the targets to reduce Indigenous over-representation in the criminal justice system.

To view the media release in full click here.

Calls for national social prescribing scheme

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP), Consumer Health Forum of Australia (CHF) and Mental Health Australia are urging the government to implement a national social prescribing scheme to tackle Australia’s mental health and wellbeing crisis in the 2021 Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook (MYEFO).

Mental ill health is a growing problem in Australia and has been made worse by the COVID-19 pandemic. Since 2017, GPs across Australia have rated mental health as the most common presentation they see as part of the RACGP’s annual Health of the Nation survey. Medicare data also shows the increase in patients accessing mental health services during the pandemic, with services highest in July 2020 when Victoria’s second wave peaked. We also know that approximately 20% of patients consult their GP for what are primarily social problems.

The RACGP, CHF and Mental Health Australia are calling on the Australian Government to support the development of a nationally coordinated scheme dedicated to tackling the problem with innovative local solutions.

Social prescribing is about health and wellbeing support. It involves a health professional supporting a patient to take up non-medical activities and services to supplement conventional healthcare. It aims to address the key risk factors for poor health, including mental health problems, social isolation, and chronic illness. It has been shown to deliver positive health benefits and improved self-care capability.

To view the joint media release click here.

vector images of 18 social activities

Image source: CTA website.

New process for job advertising

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: COVID’s serious, we need to make that clear

COVID’s serious, we need to make that clear

NACCHO Medical Advisor, Dr Jason Agonisto was recently interviewed on SBS Viceland The Point where he discussed COVID-19 in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. 

In NSW vaccination rates have passed 70% with at least one dose, that’s still a lot of people not fully vaccinated, and they’re the people at highest risk of catching COVID-19 and spreading it through the community as we open up.

It’s just past two months since the first case in Walgett – in that two months over 4,000 people have contracted COVID-19 and 500 have ended up in hospital, 50 have been in ICU and there have been nine deaths. It’s happened really quickly. It’s been spreading mainly amongst people who are unvaccinated. 

Only 37% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people over 12 are fully vaccinated across the nation., which is quite low compared to the non-indigenous community. The most attention needs to go to the population under 40 as our communities are young – the average age is something like 23 and that group still hasn’t got very high vaccination rates. So I think it’s really clear, really important to make clear to that group that COVID-19 is serious.

In adults under the age of 40, one in eight end up in hospital and a lot end up in ICU. If you’re vaccinated, you stop yourself getting it and you stop spreading it into the community. It’s that age group that will be important. It’s about getting messages that cut through to them and encourage them and their kids to get vaccinated. 

To view the interview with Dr Jason Agostino in full click by clicking on this link – the interview begins at 16:38:30 of S2021 E24: Episode 24.

Dr Jason Agostino being interviewed on SBS The Point

PHC decision-making transfers to ACCHO

Minister for Health, Natasha Fyles, says local decision making for primary health care in the West Arnhem Land community of Minjilang has transferred from NT Health to an Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation – Red Lily. Red Lily assumed operations of the Primary Health Care Clinic on 1 July 2021 and the community is now celebrating the milestone with a handover ceremony following a period of transition.

The Red Lily Health board consists of representatives from areas including Minjilang, Warruwi, Gunbalanya, Jabiru and surrounding homelands. NT Health has worked with the Commonwealth Government and Primary Health Network to support the transition and will continue to provide support.

To view Minister Fyles’ media release click here.

Red Lily Health Board logo & outside of Red Lily building

Help grow the care and support workforce

A Life Changing Life, the Australian Government’s national campaign to support growth in the care and support workforce, has been launched nationally on television, digital and social channels and radio.

The campaign aims to raise awareness of the employment opportunities across aged care, disability and veterans’ support – and encourage consideration and take-up among potential workers.

You can help encourage mob to consider a role in the care and support sector by sharing these resources with your network.

To access more detailed information about the campaign and resources click here.

ImpaRA program wins mental health award

The ImpaRa program has won the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander QLD Mental Health Award for 2021. The awards recognise and celebrate individuals, groups and organisations who work with people living with mental illness, and strive to reduce the stigma surrounding it.

ImpaRa is a suicide prevention program for young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Running for just over three years, ImpaRa has worked to support the mental health of almost a thousand young people.

ImpaRa program Coordinator Amy Keys, said that becoming a finalist was completely unexpected. “It’s a proud moment to be acknowledged for the work that we’ve done. And to know that what we have done has secured the mental health of the young people we work with,” she said. “To be recognised is a great milestone. I want to acknowledge all the participants who have bravely come to us and asked for help. Anyone else working in suicide prevention understands what I mean. ”

To view the National Indigenous Times article in full click here.

3 men in suits, one woman holding certificate

ImpaRa award winners. Image source: National Indigenous Times.

COVID-19 resources for Aboriginal communities

The NSW Government have a range of COVID-19 print and digital resources for developed specifically for Aboriginal communities. Resources include posters, brochures, flyers, videos (including the one below) and social media tiles with community information about COVID-19.

To access the relevant NSW Government webpage click here.

Calls for heart health funding

The Heart Foundation is calling on governments to commit to funding a campaign to improve the heart health of the SA’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women.

Heart disease is a well-known condition that affects men, but it is also a leading killer of Australian women. In 2019 over 1,700 SA women died from cardiovascular disease and there were 17,600 hospitalisations.

More than twice as many Australian women die of heart disease compared to breast cancer and its impact on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women is even greater. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women are more than twice as likely to experience heart disease and stroke as non-Indigenous women.

Among SA Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women the experience of cardiovascular disease occurred at an earlier age compared to non-Indigenous women. This was particularly evident between the ages of 25 to 34, where almost 30% of SA Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women were found to have cardiovascular disease.

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

two hands of different skin colour making a heart shape

Image source: DPV Health website.

Updated hepatitis/liver disease resources

HepatitisSA have compiled a catalogue of updated COVID-19 and hepatitis/liver disease resources. These resources are for service providers and members of the affected community (especially those who may be marginalised) to better understand the importance of vaccination or treatment.

BACKGROUND INFORMATION AND RESEARCH

COVID-19 vaccine acceptability among priority populations – COVID-19 vaccine opinions among several populations: people who inject drugs, people living with HIV, and Aboriginal people – click here.

Statement from the ASHM COVID-19 Taskforce regarding the prioritisation of COVID-19 vaccines for people living with BBV related chronic liver disease – digital document – click here.

COVID-19 vaccination in patients with gastrointestinal and liver disorders – webpage – click here.

Evaluation of hepatitis C test and treat interventions targeted at homeless populations (outside London) in England during the COVID-19 pandemic (2020 report)click here.

New study to test third COVID-19 vaccine for people with weakened immune systemsclick here.

RESOURCES FOR SERVICE PROVIDERS AND COMMUNITY

FAQs for clinicians about COVID-19 vaccines and people living with Hepatitis B/Hepatitis C-related chronic liver diseaseclick here.

COVID-19 vaccination in patients with gastrointestinal and liver disorders: advice for providers – click here.

COVID-19 vaccination in patients with gastrointestinal and liver disorders: patient information sheet – click here.

Information on coronavirus and COVID-19 for people affected by hepatitis B or hepatitis Cclick here.

GENERAL COVID-19 INFORMATION IN MULTIPLE LANGUAGES

COVID-19 (coronavirus) translated resourcesclick here.

For a complete listing of COVID-19 resources relating to liver disease click here.

If you would like any assistance in searching the catalogue or accessing materials you can contact HepatitisSA by using this email link.HepatitisSA logo, aqua, grey text & light aqua wavy line

Indigenous Justice Research Program established

The national Indigenous Justice Research Program (IJRP) has been established as part of the Morrison Government’s commitment to the National Agreement on Closing the Gap. The IJRP will fund academic research relating to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander criminal justice and aim to reduce the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in detention.

Minister for Home Affairs Karen Andrews said closing the gap was vitally important, not just for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples but for all Australians. “This new research program will build a body of evidence to inform improvements to criminal justice polices and responses as they relate to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander individuals interacting with the justice system,” Minister Andrews said. Minister Wyatt said a solid research and evidence base will support all parties to meet and exceed the targets to reduce Indigenous over-representation in the criminal justice system.

To view the media release in full click here.

Aboriginal painting of clenched fist, black, orange, white

Image source: The Legal 500 website.

Baby Coming You Ready?

Baby Coming You Ready? is a culturally safe perinatal mental health assessment, which aims to measure the social and emotional wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander parents in WA.

The resource is a web-based, touch screen mobile application that has been designed by Aboriginal women, men, and researchers. It features images and Aboriginal voice overs that guide users through areas that may be affecting families’ health or wellbeing. It allows parents to record their answers to a series of screening questions focused on their strengths and what they need support with, in a culturally relevant and sensitive way. This process helps to enhance the relationship between non-Indigenous service providers and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander parents.

In June 2020, a pilot of this tool was rolled out across six Perth and outer metropolitan sites and four rural and regional sites in WA.

To view the paper in full click here.

To access the Baby Coming You Ready? website click here.

New process for job advertising

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

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

Cardiovascular disease webinar

Cardiovascular disease is a leading cause of hospitalisation and death in Australia. Aboriginal peoples experience higher rates of cardiovascular disease at a younger age, leading to a gap in life expectancy, compared to the wider population.

Risk factors like smoking, unhealthy eating, lack of physical activity, high blood pressure, cholesterol levels, family history and age can all increase the risk of heart attack, stroke, or other cardiovascular diseases.

There are ways to prevent and reduce the impact of cardiovascular disease, re-hospitalisation and/or dying. Addressing the risk factors and attending cardiac rehab can make a huge difference. COVID poses additional risk to people with cardiovascular disease, in addition to being a barrier to treatment.

This webinar features:

  • Warrawatja Bell’s story about his heart attack and how he changed his life afterwards.
  • Associate Professor Raj Puranik from the Redfern Aboriginal Medical Service’s Cardiac Outreach Clinic program discusses what an ideal model of care includes.
  • Andy Mark discusses Heart Foundation resources and programs to support Aboriginal Health workers and other health professionals who work with Aboriginal communities to address cardiovascular disease.
  • Question and answer session.

For more information about the webinar from 12:00 PM – 1:00 PM Wednesday 27 October 2021, and to register click here.

Image source: Heart Foundation.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Historical factors impact healthcare access

feature tile text 'historical factors impact first nations accessing traditional western healthcare' & image of doctor's torso, white lab coat, stethoscope in pocket

Historical factors impact healthcare access

A NSW Upper House committee examining the challenges in accessing medical services outside metropolitan areas has been told Aboriginal people are reluctant to access public healthcare in NSW because they believe they may not survive.

The Aboriginal Health and Medical Research Council gave evidence at the hearing about why Indigenous residents in rural and regional areas will not attend hospitals even if they are very ill.

“Historical factors impact on Aboriginal people accessing western, traditional healthcare services,” Associate Professor Peter Malouf from the Aboriginal Health and Medical Research Council told the inquiry.  “Aboriginal people have a fear factor of going into the health system because they’ve seen many Aboriginal loved ones and community members passing away.”

The Upper House committee was asked to recommend to the NSW government that the public health system works closely with Aboriginal medical services to improve the quality of care given to Indigenous residents.

Aboriginal youth receiving vax at Walgett AMS

The inquiry heard Indigenous people are fearful of the public health system. Photo supplied by: Walgett Aboriginal Medical Service. Image source: ABC News website.

ACCHO to build $7m new medical facility

An Aboriginal cooperative in Bendigo is set to receive more than $7 million to build a new mixed-use medical facility. The Bendigo District Aboriginal Co-Operative (BDAC) will use the funding to help expand medical services to meet growing demand.

BDAC’s new building will include 10 consulting rooms and three allied health rooms. BDAC chief executive Raylene Harradine said the new building will be built at the current site and will help expand current medical services to meet growing demand.

Director of BDAC Programs Dallas Widdicombe said when the site opened four years ago, BDAC had around 1,100 active patients. Now, more than 2,000 residents access the Aboriginal corporation’s health services. “Our wait times can be up to a month for a doctor’s appointment, because we can only have three doctors with our limited space,” Mr Widdicombe said.

To view the article in full click here.

 BDAC staff looking at building plans

Raylene Harradine, centre, inspects the plans for the new building with Maree Edwards (left) and Jacinta Allan (right). Photo: BDAC. Image source: ABC News.

Top COVID-19 vax questions

Dr Lucas de Toca, COVID-19 Primary Care Response First Assistant Secretary, has answered the top three COVID-19 questions asked on our social accounts.

Dr de Toca spoke about people 60 years and over getting the vaccine; some of the misinformation about the vaccine and infertility or risks during pregnancy; and how to protect kids from COVID-19 and whether kids can get COVID-19. You can listen to Dr de Toca below.

Mob overrepresented in road trauma statistics

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are overrepresented in road trauma statistics is one more reason there needs to be culturally appropriate countermeasures which prioritise self-determination and account for the social determinants of health. There are higher rates of death and serious injury on regional, rural, and remote roads, with fatality rates associated with crashes on very remote roads more than 13 times higher than fatality rates in our major cities.

Local governments, which are responsible for managing most of our road networks, will be critical to addressing road trauma outside of our major cities, and indeed at the national level. The work of state governments will also be crucial to develop integrated, holistic, nationally consistent solutions.

To view the Parliament of Australia media release in full click here.

roadside memorial

Six people have died in the past decade on a small stretch of the highway near Barunga, 300 kms SE of Darwin. Photo: Jano Gibson. Image source: ABC News website.

More needed to tackle Kimberley suicide rate

It has been 18 months since the WA government vowed to improve mental health services and tackle high Indigenous suicide rates in the state’s north, but Aboriginal health advocates say nothing has changed.

The state’s far-north has some of the highest rates of youth suicide in the world and the suicide rate of Aboriginal people in the Kimberley is twice as high as among all Indigenous Australians.

After 13 young people took their own lives in the Kimberley in less than four years, the WA government promised to roll out more culturally appropriate mental health services, boost access to clinical services and engage with local Indigenous people on a pathway forward.

Months on, veteran Indigenous health worker Kathy Watson said she was still extremely concerned about the mental health of young people in the region.

To view the ABC News article in full click here.

Jacob Smith - social worker Headspace, Kimberleys

Jacob Smith has been working in the Kimberley to combat suicide prevention for four years and works as a social worker at Headspace. Image source: ABC News.

Food security in remote communities

Last year the National Rural Health Alliance (NRHA) made a submission to the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Indigenous Affairs Inquiry into food pricing and food security in remote Indigenous communities.

Through this Inquiry the Committee highlighted there continues to be significant barriers to addressing food security in remote Indigenous communities. This has been underlined by the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic and the vulnerability of remote Indigenous communities to supply chain interruptions.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in remote communities in Australia experience a disproportionate burden of chronic disease and there is clear evidence of the significant detrimental health effects of poor nutrition linking to a range of chronic diseases which affect life expectancy and overall community well-being. Food insecurity has adverse health and social effects from early childhood through all stages of life. The key food security issue for remote Indigenous communities relates to access to affordable, high quality, nutritious food. There are many factors that influence food security which are explored in this submission, however, the high cost of fresh food relative to the low level of incomes in remote communities emerges as a significant factor.

It is clear that market forces alone cannot be relied upon to address food security issues in remote communities, and there is a role for government at the national, state/territory and local level to intervene in the market to ensure both demand and supply side issues are addressed. Finally, locally-based solutions must be the result of outcomes designed and supported by communities in response to specific community circumstances an

To read the submission in full click here.

Aboriginal staff at checkout in Barlmarrk Supermarket

Barlmarrk Supermarket. Image source: Bawinanga Aboriginal Corporation website.

Type 2 diabetes glucose management study

The FlashGM study is a national Indigenous multicenter trial that asks: Can Flash Glucose Monitoring (FlashGM) improve glucose management in Indigenous Australians with type 2 diabetes?

Diabetes is a major contributor to the mortality gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians, and the risk and severity of diabetes complications (CVD, kidney failure, blindness) are far greater in this population than in non-Indigenous Australians.

There is an urgent need for effective and convenient ways of improving glycaemic management in Indigenous Australians. Diabetes Nurse Educator, Donna Rumbiolo, has driven recruitment for the pilot study and is an integral member of the Flash leadership team. She said “The FlashGM study is about giving communities the experience of using leading diabetes technology. Hopefully we can see this improve people’s health and makes life easier for all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living with diabetes.”

The 5th edition of the Flash Study newsletter includes recent study updates and a spotlight on Rumbalara Aboriginal Cooperative in Shepparton and Apunipima Cape York Health Service in Cairns.

As the study is expands and continues to recruit, expressions of interest are being sought for recruitment sites across Australia.  You can access the study website here for more information and if you would like to discuss the study further please feel free to contact Mariam Hachem by email here.

Aboriginal line drawing of hand with outstretched finger being pricked for sugar level diabetes check

Image source: University of Melbourne website, FlashGM Study page.

AHCSA Sexual Health and BBV Program

The AHCSA Sexual Health and Blood Borne Virus (BBV) Program works with Aboriginal health services and the broader health sector across SA, supporting the prevention and treatment of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and BBVs.

The Program supports ACCHOs and other services working with young Aboriginal people in the promotion of, and improved access to, opportunistic and voluntary STI screening for people aged between 16 and 35 years.

For more information about the program click here.

Aboriginal art text 'end the cycle stay connected' black, olive, burnt orange, white

Image source: AHCSA website.

New process for job advertising

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

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

National Carers Week

Carers are people who provide unpaid care and support to family members and friends who have a disability, mental health condition, chronic condition, terminal illness, an alcohol or other drug issue or who are frail aged – anyone at any time can become a carer. National Carers Week is an opportunity to raise community awareness among all Australians about the diversity of carers and their caring roles.

12.4% of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population are carers, compared to 10.5% of the non-Indigenous Australian population. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander carers living in regional, rural, and remote areas often experience:

  • language and cultural barriers 
  • geographic barriers in accessing health and welfare services
  • and may face barriers to health literacy.

For more information click here.

text 'national carers week 10-16 October 2021' & image of aged hands being held by younger hands

Vax for people living with kidney disease

On Wednesday, 13 October from 6:30PM – 7:30PM (AEDT) Kidney Health Australia is hosting a Q&A webinar on the COVID-19 vaccine for people living with kidney disease. The webinar is open to kidney disease patients, transplant recipients, parents and carers, and health professionals, and aims to answer your questions and concerns around getting the covid vaccine.

To ensure your questions are answered, make sure to submit your question/s when registering for the webinar. Registrations close on Wednesday 13 October at 5:00PM. Click here for more information about the webinar and to register.

banner Kidney Health Australia Q&A webinar Covid-19 vaccines, image of covid-19 cell

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Expanded vaccine choice for all over 60 years

feature tile text 'Expanded COVID-19 vaccine choice now available for all over 60 years' & 62 year old Aboriginal man receiving vax

Feature image source The Conversation: Cecil Phillips, 62, receiving his COVID-19 vaccination by registered nurse, Sam Parimalanathan, at the Aboriginal Medical Service in Redfern. Photograph: Isabella Moore

Expanded vaccine choice for over 60s

The Minister for Health has announced people aged 18 and over are now eligible to receive any COVID-19 vaccine available in Australia. This includes Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca.

Previously, AstraZeneca was the only vaccine available, outside of remote areas, to those aged over 60 years.

The expansion of COVID-19 vaccine choice may help to address the approximately 20% of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population over 60 years who have not yet been vaccinated.

For further information visit the Department of Health’s website here.

DoH banner text 'All 3 vaccines available for people over 18'

Full community control for Palm Island company

This week saw a major step towards self-determination for the Palm Island community with the transition of the Palm Island Community Company (PICC) to full community control. The Queensland Government and the Palm Island Aboriginal Shire Council have now transferred their shareholding in PICC to enable a community-controlled organisation that is fully owned by community members.

PICC has been operating since 2008 and has grown into a large professional organisation delivering a wide range of community services with a workforce of nearly 150 employees, who are overwhelmingly local Palm Islanders. In August, PICC took on responsibility for Palm Island primary health services, amalgamating their existing health centre with the Townsville Hospital and Health Service (THHS) primary health centre to create an integrated community-controlled Aboriginal Medical Service.

The Palm Island Mayor and past chairperson of PICC, Mislam Sam said: “this is a hard-won achievement for the Palm Island community. Our community and our elders and leaders have worked for decades for self-determination, and we are proud to finally have local control over services, especially health, that support our families and employ local people.”

PICC services include:

  • an integrated Aboriginal medical service
  • community services, including in the areas of family well-being, early childhood, healing, disability, child protection, domestic violence, men’s groups, children and youth activities
  • social enterprises, including a mechanics workshop, fuel supply and a community shop.

To view the media release click here.

VACCHO Vaccine Vans hit the road

The Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (VACCHO) have launched dedicated Vaccine Vans. The vans, which will travel through Greater Shepparton and Latrobe Valley, are crucial in making the COVID-19 vaccine available to the Indigenous community who’ve faced barriers accessing the vaccine so far.

“Building on the hard work of ACCHOs across the state – the vans will boost support of COVID-19 vaccine delivery to community members during regional residencies across Victoria over the coming weeks,” said VACCHO CEO Jill Gallagher.

Gallagher stressed the urgent need for this initiative and vaccinating the community given the record high case numbers in the state, and the plans to open up restrictions as vaccination rates improve. “We must be mindful of the fact that risk factors for COVID-19 are disproportionately higher for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people,” she said.

“[This is] due to a combination of factors including pre-existing health concerns, pressing mental health and wellbeing issues, and people living in overcrowded or transient accommodation.”

To view the National Indigenous Times story in full click here.

VACCHO building external view, overlaid with VACCHO logo

Pharmacist guidelines for vaping prescriptions

In December 2020, the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) announced that from 1 October 2021, a prescription will be required to access liquid nicotine for inhalation (vaping), following a change to its scheduling.

To manage these legislative changes, the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (PSA), with support from the Commonwealth Department of Health, has developed guidelines and education to support Australian pharmacists through the transition.

Claire Antrobus, Manager, Practice Support and project lead, explained why such support is required. “From today, a prescription will be required to access nicotine vaping products. When nicotine vaping products are prescribed under the Authorised Prescriber Scheme or the Special Access Scheme they can be dispensed through local pharmacies.

“As a result of these legislative changes, we are likely to see patients presenting to pharmacies, to access nicotine vaping products via prescription. PSA has worked with the Therapeutic Goods Administration, the Department of Health’s Tobacco Control Section, Quit Victoria, the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners, the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation, the Pharmacy Guild of Australia and the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists to develop guidelines and education which equips pharmacists with the skills and knowledge to effectively manage the transition.

“These guidelines outline the pharmacist’s role in providing smoking cessation support and key requirements for dispensing nicotine vaping products, including counselling and safety considerations.

To view the full article click here.

chemist counter with vaping fluid packs

Australian manufacturer Liber Pharmaceuticals produces a nicotine vaping product (NVP). Image source: Business News Australia.

Now is the time to be vaccinating

According to the peak Aboriginal health body, NACCHO, the vaccination gap between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and non-Indigenous people is partly due to the low coverage among the younger population.

NACCHO medical adviser, epidemiologist Dr Jason Agostino, said almost 90% of the Indigenous population is under 60, and many of them had only recently become eligible for vaccination. “This is really an issue about immunisations for younger Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people,” Dr Agostino, said. “If we look at the over-60 population, more than 70% have had a first dose nationwide and in ACT, NSW and Victoria it’s about 85%.”

Agostino said he was “quite confident” that the ACT, Victoria and NSW would reach a fully vaccinated rate above 80% for the 12 and over population before the end of October. But he said states which have had very few Covid cases, such as Queensland and WA, should be dramatically lifting their vaccination rates now, to avoid a a situation like the one unfolding in Wilcannia, which now had more than 156 cases in a population of 720 people.

“It’s so important, because starting to lift your vaccination [rates] during an outbreak is not the ideal time,” he said. As you’ve seen in western NSW, in the space of six weeks, they’ve had almost 1,000 cases and they’ve had five deaths in that region. Now is the time to be vaccinating.”

To view The Guardian article in full click here.

Darren Wright receives the first dose of a COVID vaccine at the Ungooroo Vaccination Hub in Singleton. Photo supplied by: Ungooroo Aboriginal Corporation

Darren Wright receives the first dose of a COVID vaccine at the Ungooroo Vaccination Hub in Singleton. Photo supplied by: Ungooroo Aboriginal Corporation. Image source: Muswellbrook Chronicle.

Culturally appropriate NDIS services trial

The WA Government will fund a trial of culturally appropriate services for Aboriginal NDIS participants in the Kimberley. The Broome Regional Aboriginal Medical Service (BRAMS) will undertake research and consult with specialists and Aboriginal people to develop a culturally competent model of allied health service delivery for the region over 18 months.

There will be a particular focus on developing techniques and resources that can be used by allied health professionals who work with Aboriginal NDIS participants. A six-month ‘Community of Practice’ will also be set up to test and learn from the practical tools and resources created by the project.

To access the media statement in full click here.

Aboriginal man and woman having a cup of tea at table

Image source: Synapse Australia’s Brain Injury Organisation.

Aboriginal Family Led Decision Making pilot

Child Protection Minister Simone McGurk has announced Wungening Aboriginal Corporation (Wungening) as the successful Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisation (ACCO) for the Aboriginal Family Led Decision Making (AFLDM) pilot in Mirrabooka.

Through the pilot, Wungening will enlist independent Aboriginal convenors to facilitate a culturally safe process that supports Aboriginal families to make decisions about how to best keep their children safe and connected with their community. AFLDM aims to address the overrepresentation of Aboriginal children in the child protection system by promoting greater participation and self-determination for Aboriginal families and to provide input into decisions regarding their children.

To view the media release click here.
Wungening AC building & logo

Health scholarship opportunity closing soon

The opportunity to apply for a scholarship is closing soon. The scholarship supports students studying in a number of health disciplines including additional scholarship places for Mental Health studies.

Attached are a couple of web banners for your use. If you require any adjustments to the artwork, please contact Sam. The  social media caption is: ‘DON’T MISS OUT! Scholarships for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students studying, or intending to study, entry-level health courses. The scholarships are funded by the Australian Government Department of Health.

Visit here to find out more and apply, closes Monday 11 October 2021.

banner text 'ATSI health scholarship applications open'

Steady pipeline of doctors program

A new locally-led medical program, the first of its kind, could be launched as early as 2023, to build a steady pipeline of doctors into regional, rural, and urban areas in the Northern Territory. Charles Darwin University has joined Menzies School of Health Research (Menzies) in its aspirations to establish the CDU/Menzies Medical Program, as a part of a new Northern Australian Health Workforce Alliance to support the health workforce needs of the Northern Territory and, more broadly, northern Australia. The opportunity to expand general practice and rural medicine training, consultant medical training and health research will be enhanced through such an Alliance.

To view the CDU media release click here and to view a more detailed article click here.

Charles Darwin University sign

Charles Darwin University is joining forces with Menzies School of Health Research to establish a medical program in the NT. Image source: NT News.

New process for job advertising

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

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

World Cerebral Palsy Day

World Cerebral Palsy Day, marked today Wednesday 6 October, is a movement of people with Cerebral Palsy (CP) and their families, and the organisations that support them, in more than 75 countries. CP affects more than 17 million people worldwide. Another 350 million people are closely connected to a child or adult with CP. It is the most common physical disability in childhood. CP is a permanent disability that affects movement. Its impact can range from a weakness in one hand, to almost a complete lack of voluntary movement:

  • 1 in 4 children with CP cannot talk
  • 1 in 4 cannot walk
  • 1 in 2 have an intellectual disability
  • 1 in 4 have epilepsy.

The World CP DAY movement’s vision is to ensure that children and adults with Cerebral Palsy have the same rights, access and opportunities as anyone else in our society. It is only together, that we can make that happen.

The report Comparing risks of cerebral palsy in births to Australian Indigenous and non-Indigenous mothers concludes that those of Indigenous heritage may be the subject of greater under-ascertainment of CP than those without Indigenous heritage and Indigenous children are at significantly greater risk of CP, particularly postneonatal CP, and their impairments tend to be more severe.

The theme of World CP Day this year is Because every person living with cerebral palsy is a reason to strive for change.

For more information click here.banner text 'World CP Day October 6' green, blue, yellow, vector map of world

COVID-19 vaccine update for GPs webinar

The latest in the Australian Government Department of Health’s series of COVID-19 vaccine updates for GPs webinar will be held from:

11:30am–12:00pm (AEST) tomorrow, Thursday 7 October 2021.

At this webinar, you’ll be provided with the latest information on the vaccine rollout. GPs and all health professionals are welcome.

Joining Professor Michael Kidd AM this week will be Dr Lucas de Toca, First Assistant Secretary, COVID-19 Primary Care Response, Department of Health and Dr Clara Soo
Practice Principal, Hobart Place General Practice and East Canberra General Practice, Canberra.

This week’s GP webinar will have a slightly different look and feel as it will be held via webex. This will enable guests from other locations to join the GP webinar panel. If you’re unable to view this webinar live, you can view it on-demand using the same link, within a few hours of the live stream ending.

When you’re ready to join, use this link.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Boosting care sector jobs for mob

Feature tile - Thu 30.9.21 - A Life Changing Life

Boosting care sector jobs for mob

The Morrison Government has launched A Life Changing Life, a new campaign to encourage Indigenous Australians to start a career in the care and support sector. The sector, which includes aged care, disability and veterans’ support is one of the fastest-growing in Australia.

Minister for Indigenous Australians the Hon Ken Wyatt AM MP said it was important to highlight the breadth of opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the sector.

“Caring for mob is a part of our culture – it’s who we are. It makes sense we support Indigenous Australians to consider a future in the sector, so they can deliver the culturally appropriate services our vulnerable people need,” Minister Wyatt said.

“What many people might not know is that this is a sector full of job opportunities, and meaningful careers.

“In many cases, these are jobs you can do without leaving your community and can learn on the job, to start a life-changing career.”

You can read the media release by the Morrison Government here.
You can find out more about the care and support sector, and learn about the meaningful work that makes a difference for mob here.
You can view campaign resources here.

A Life Changing Life

Encouraging others to get the jab

Aboriginal health promotion worker Brittany Wright was asked by Albury Council to contribute to their vaccination messaging on social media.

“They just wanted some young people that have had the vaccination to encourage other people to come and get theirs,” she said.

“I was happy to spread the message, and working at an Aboriginal Health Service, we want to try and get as many Aboriginal people vaccinated as we can.”

AWAHS clinic manager Lauren Blatchford said demand for their program delivering AstraZeneca and Pfizer had increased recently.

“With the COVID cases on both sides of the border, a lot more people are wanting to be vaccinated,” she said.

“We’ve also got some outreach vaccine clinics going around community and that’s really targeting the vulnerable community members who can’t come to the service to be vaccinated, for example,” she said.

“It’s so good to have people like Britt sharing messages – they know who she is and that really encourages other people.

You can read the story in The Border Mail here.

Albury Wodonga Aboriginal Health Service is seeing more Indigenous community members come forward for vaccination, with the support of Brittany Wright and Lauren Blatchford. Image credit: James Wiltshire.

Albury Wodonga Aboriginal Health Service is seeing more Indigenous community members come forward for vaccination, with the support of Brittany Wright and Lauren Blatchford. Image credit: James Wiltshire.

New vaping laws come into effect tomorrow

The Australian Medial Association (AMA) believes new nicotine vaping laws which come into effect this Friday October 1, are timely, with the prevalence of harmful vaping rapidly increasing in the community. The new laws close a loophole in federal legislation which has enabled the unregulated importation and illegal sale of nicotine containing vaping products, or “e-cigarettes”, in each State and Territory.

AMA President Dr Omar Khorshid said under the new rules, nicotine containing vaping products will only be able to be accessed via a prescription from a doctor. He said the changes have a stated aim of protecting the non-smoking public, especially younger people and children, from the clear harms of nicotine poisoning and addiction.

“Vaping is not the risk-free version of smoking that some would have us believe. It is addictive, is associated with proven harms and we know that if nicotine gets into the hands of young children and is ingested, it is highly toxic and can be fatal in very small amounts,” Dr Khorshid said.

The new regulations aim to make nicotine containing vaping products less accessible and aim to prevent the terrible exponential increase in use that is being seen overseas, such as in the US, where around one quarter of all high school students have admitted to current or recent use of mainly high concentration products.

You can read the media release by the AMA here.

hand holding a vap, lots of smoke from mouth

Image source: The Guardian.

Keeping a focus on First Nations’ eye health

The Australian Institute for Health and Welfare (AIHW) has launched its Indigenous eye health measures 2021 report which shows measurable progress towards improving the eye health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

The report includes data from the 2019-20 year, which included the first four months of the COVID-19 pandemic in Australia. Despite the pandemic’s impact, the report highlights that the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people having an eye examination by an optometrist or ophthalmologist continued to grow,

However, the report also highlights some of the continuing challenges Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people face in accessing the eye care they need.

You can read the article in ANZSOG here.

ANZSOG Overturning a blind eye: How coordinated action is on track to eliminate trachoma in Australia Image source: ANZSOG.

ANZSOG Overturning a blind eye: How coordinated action is on track to eliminate trachoma in Australia Image source: ANZSOG.

‘Australians can beat anything’ vax campaign

A powerful new public service campaign that heroes the country’s ingenuity, inventiveness and resilience to overcoming challenges is being released nationally in a bid to boost Australia’s double vaccination rate to 80% or more as quickly as possible. The ‘Australians Can Beat Anything’ campaign – a collaboration between Australia’s advertising, media and consulting industries – hit TV screens, online sites and social media from September 27, rallying Australians to get vaccinated by demonstrating our proven ability to overcome the most difficult of challenges and crises.

Professor Fred Hollows is one of several iconic Australians fronting the campaign.

“Fred was a staunch advocate of modern medicine and improving people’s living standards. We know he would have been encouraging Australians to get vaccinated,” said The Fred Hollows Foundation CEO Ian Wishart.

You can view the advertisement below.

Ideas for looking after your mental health this October

Mental Health Australia has launched its October 2021 calendars for Mental Health Month ahead of World Mental Health Day on 10 October, including daily ideas for all Australians to look after their mental health in the midst of the ongoing pandemic. Mental Health Australia’s downloadable and printable calendars are tailored with some great tips for different audiences, including: the general public, young adults, families, older Australians, and workplaces.

Mental Health Australia CEO, Dr Leanne Beagley says the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is creating an overwhelming situation for many Australians and these daily ideas will help reduce stigma, encourage help seeking and connect communities.

“The calendars provide reminders of something small and tangible we can all do each day to look after our own mental health, as well as improve the wellbeing of others in our families and broader communities,” said Dr Beagley.

This matters to everyone. And we can all benefit from looking after our own mental health and the mental health of our families and communities.

View the media release by Mental Health Australia here.
You can download the calendars here.
To find out more about World Mental Health Day activity this year use the hashtag #LookAfterYourMentalHealthAustralia or visit the website here.

Registration for CTG PBS Co-Payment program extended

Criteria for the Close the Gap (CTG) Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) Co-payment program was expanded in July, allowing registered Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients more streamlined access to subsidised medications.

A grace period to ensure all eligible patients are registered for the program has now been extended to January 2022, with the Department of Health attributing the need for an extension to the ‘significant number’ of eligible patients who are not yet ‘correctly registered’.

This period will prevent CTG PBS Co-payment prescriptions being rejected at the time of dispensing if the Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander person is not formally registered for the program through Services Australia.

PBS prescribers can ensure their Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients are registered for the program via Services Australia’s Health Professional Online Services (HPOS). If the patient is not registered, their status will be indicated as ‘inactive’ in HPOS.

You can read more about the extension in RACGP newsGP here.

Get the treatment you need

The co-payment initiative aims to support better access to medications for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Image source RACGP.

Big Red Kidney Bus flips from vacations to vaccinations

The NSW Big Red Kidney Bus has been repurposed to serve as a mobile vaccination clinic while holidaying is not possible. The Bus is operating as a pop-up clinic in Western Sydney, providing easy access to vaccines for COVID-19.

You can read more in the Norther Sydney Local health District September newsletter here.

Big Red Kidney Bus

Big Red Kidney Bus. Image source: busnews.com.au.

 

Australian Digital Health Agency – identified positions

Partnership Manager
EL1 ($122,716 – $139,959)
Digital Programs and Engagement Division > Communications
Brisbane, Canberra, Sydney

Applications close: 11 October 2021
You can view more information and apply for the role here.

Partnership Lead
APS6 ($99,860 – $112,659)
Digital Programs and Engagement Division > Communications
Brisbane, Canberra, Sydney

Applications close: 11 October 2021
You can view more information and apply for the role here.

New process for job advertising

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

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


dice spelling JOBS resting on keyboard

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Maningrida mob show up in record numbers for COVID-19 vaccine

feature tile text 'Record numbers of Maningrida mob show up for jab after community-led campaigns' & Aboriginal hand holding loud speaker out of bus window

Maningrida mob show up in record numbers for COVID-19 vaccine

Maningrida, NT is home to over 2,300 people, with 77% of those identifying as Aboriginal (Source: 2016 ABS Census). It is estimated the population has increased during the COVID-19 pandemic with many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people moving to the region in 2020-21, with the current population estimated to be close to 4,000.

Maningrida’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout made national news headlines recently after record numbers showed up to get their Pfizer vaccines.

A total of three COVID-19 Vaccination drives were held from July-September, administering a total of 2,843 vaccine doses to the Maningrida community, representing well over 70% of all eligible community members aged 16 and over receiving their first dose and almost 45% fully vaccinated.

The successful rollout comes after weeks of community-led campaigning by Mala’la Health Service, Aboriginal Health Workers (AHWs), Traditional Owners, community leaders and multiple agencies working together to build community confidence about the vaccine.

Mala’la took to dispelling COVID-19 vaccination myths, using their social media platform, local presence and Elders to spread the message. These were both in English and local Aboriginal languages.

The most important thing made clear from the community leaders was the need to ‘talk straight’ and ‘our way’ to the community, stating that mainstream campaigns were confusing and would not work.

  • With the support of local businesses and organisations, Mala’la were able to set up COVID-19 Vaccine info desks at the local supermarket, mobile community info sessions with Orange Sky Laundry van service and hold meetings with local business staff.
  • Local community videos were broadcast in multiple languages online and on large screens, community workers went door to door to talk with families and multiple information sessions were held to address community concerns.
  • When the vaccines arrived, the community leaders were among the first to get the vaccines including, the local Mayor, Traditional Owners and AHWs.
  • Mala’la organised a number of COVID-19 vaccination drives, engaging the support of NT Bush Bus, Bawinanga Aboriginal Corporation and Northern Land Council to support pickup and drop off community members who would otherwise be unable to attend.

Chairman of the Mala’la Health Service, Charlie Gunabarra, was the first in line to get the vaccine to huge cheers. “This is a serious thing all over the world.  We’ve got eight language groups here and we have culture and family to look after. It’s important to get that vaccine to protect our Songlines”, said Gunabarra.

On the vaccination days, campaigning continued non-stop with Traditional Owners on megaphones encouraging the community to get the vaccine. In the second round, Maningrida broke its own previous NT record administering 467 vaccines on a single day – the highest in any single vaccine hub in the Territory at that time.

To support this strong uptake, it took culturally appropriate, community-led approach to engage with community and get the right COVID-19 vaccine messaging across. It took the culmination of engaging local Elders and community leaders, other local organisations getting on board to support Mala’la staff to get the messaging across and the health departments allowing Mala’la to administer these vaccines.

billboard on truck, Elder with loudspeaker, male & female Elders getting vax

Images of Maningrida COVID-19 vaccination campaign.

ACCHO to open new Gympie AMS

The North Coast Aboriginal Corporation for Community Health (NCACCH) held a series of community consultation sessions this month seeking feedback for their new Aboriginal Medical Service (AMS) delivery. Sessions were held in Gympie, Tin Can Bay, Kilkivan and Gunalda outlining plans for the Aboriginal Medical Centre currently being fitted out at 31 Excelsior Road, Gympie.

The centre will be available to all people who identify as Aboriginal and or Torres Strait Islander and their families (including non-Indigenous partners, children, the whole family unit). The AMS will have an holistic approach and be a ‘one stop shop’ for patients offering comprehensive free health checks and medical services.

The money for the building fit out was raised by a successful grant and directors hope the centre will be finished by mid to late October, with a soft opening later this year and an official launch opening in February 2022.

Chairperson and director of NCACCH Helen Felstead said it was proud of the facility and the work being done to help Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders get the medical help they need in our region. “Prior to now, all patients had to travel to the Sunshine Coast for specialist health care. This is an extension to what we have, nothing will change, it’s just a better service and it’s local. The hospital will still have services as with other practices, we are just making it easier and providing patients with choices.”

To view the story in full click here.

NCACCH building being fitted out for new Gympie AMS

Image source: NCACCH website.

First Nations CVD rate is twice as bad

The rate of Cardiovascular disease (CVD) among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people is more than twice that of non-Indigenous people according to a recently released Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW). The report, released on today (Wednesday 29 September) to coincide with World Heart Day, looks at a range of data, including Australian Bureau of Statistics health surveys.

It estimates 42,700 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults had heart, stroke and vascular disease in 2018-19, based on self-reported data from the ABS. It equates to a rate of 11.4% of Australia’s adult Indigenous population, more than twice that of non-Indigenous adults (5.4%), the report concluded. The rate of death from heart disease from 2017-19 among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people was 1.8 times greater than non-Indigenous Australians.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people were more likely to be exposed to several risk factors. Indigenous Australians aged over 15 were more than three times more likely to smoke daily and were more likely to have high blood pressure in 2017-18 (37 to 29%).

To view the article in full click here.

Aboriginal man's hands gripping chest - heart

Image source: The Medical Journal of Australia.

SA’s ‘silent’ health epidemic

While the nation focuses on the COVID pandemic, a “silent” epidemic is afflicting SA – with huge implications for individuals and hospitals. The figures are stark.

A concerning 6.4% of South Australians are diagnosed with diabetes, compared to 5.3% nationally – and in some regions it’s above 10% – according to the latest figures from Diabetes Australia. That’s more than 113,000 South Australians – a significant jump from 5.8% of the population diagnosed just six years ago.

Most are afflicted with the largely-preventable, lifestyle-related Type 2 disease. Diabetes is a leading cause of hospitalisation. Over time, high glucose levels damage the body’s blood vessels and nerves, leading to a raft of serious health problems such as heart, kidney and eye disease, and even limb amputations from ulcers.

What frustrates health professionals is it doesn’t have to be this way, yet SA continues to top the nation in its prevalence of the disease. And there are warnings the actual rate – including in those who don’t yet know they have it – is up to twice the recorded level.

Researchers and doctors say younger people are increasingly affected by this chronic condition because of sedentary lifestyles and poor diets. They’re calling for urgent and radical intervention, declaring the issue is much bigger than the already disturbing official figures show.

To read the article in full click here.

person's hands drawing insulin shot

An insulin shot. Photo: John Locher, AP. Image source: INDAILY Adelaide independent news.

Rap message about the vax

Ballarat and District Aboriginal Co-operative have produced an awesome jab rap to encourage mob to get vaccinated. You can view the rap below:

Smoker rates surge during pandemic

Smoker numbers have increased across Australia since the beginning of the pandemic, with data released by  SiSU Health showing the greatest percentage jumps in the ACT (up 3.9%) and Queensland.

Increases occurred across all age groups following the arrival of COVID-19, with the rate amongst 65 to 74 year olds nearly doubling since before the pandemic. Smoking levels are markedly higher in regional and remote areas  than in cities, while ATSIC rates are stubbornly high at 3 times the rate of non-indigenous Australians.

SiSU Health Managing Director Dr Noel Duncan said: “Cardiovascular disease is the world’s number one killer,  with heart disease and stroke claiming 18.6 million lives each year. But many of the risk factors, such as tobacco  use, unhealthy diet and lack of physical activity, are within our control to change.”

“We detected a sharp jump in our users’ smoking rates at the very onset of the pandemic. These rates have  tapered only slightly in 2021 and remain more than two percentage points higher than in the period prior to COVID.  The reasons for this upswing are complex, but stress and anxiety associated with lockdowns, often in combination  with more frequent alcohol consumption at home, are likely to be contributing factors.”

To view the article in full click here.

pack of cigarettes, no brand

Image source: SBS News website.

AMA wants easier rural GP hospital access

The AMA is calling for easier pathways for rural doctors to work in their local hospitals and better support remote, regional and rural health in the community. Examining rural workforce shortages, the AMA has found stringent bureaucratic processes by local hospitals or health services prevent some rural GPs and rural generalists from having any connection or involvement whatsoever in their local hospitals.

In a new AMA Position Statement on integrating GPs into rural hospitals, the AMA makes a series of recommendations addressing doctor shortages in rural areas, with benefits to local hospitals, better health care for regional communities and which contribute to a more viable sustainable career for rural GPs.

To view the AMA’s media release click here.

road sign with text 'hospital' against rural scene - wheat field, blue sky

Image source: Healthcare IT.

Stronger patient medicine involvement

Consumer involvement in Australia’s medicines choices has been further strengthened under a new strategic agreement Medicines Australia has signed with the Federal Government. The Consumers Health Forum (CHF) has welcomed the acknowledgement in the agreement that the Government and Medicines Australia have a common interest in patients having improved involvement in the decision-making for medicines access, the CEO of CHF, Leanne Wells, said today.

“We welcome the statement by Medicines Australia that the agreement heralds a new era by securing stronger patient involvement in critical processes and ensuring Australia keeps pace with access to rapidly transforming medical advancements developed around the world. This agreement also provides for more certainty of Government funding for new drugs. This is vital for the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme which aims at ensuring all Australians have affordable access to quality medication.

“The agreement means patients will have a role in the first independent review of Australia’s health technology assessment system in nearly 30 years. As well the agreement provides for a new process to incorporate patients’ views and experiences early in the processes of the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee (PBAC) which recommends to Government what new drugs should be subsidised.”

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

multiple tablet foil blister packs

Image source: Healthline website.

New process for job advertising

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

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

COVID-19 vaccine update for GPs webinar

The latest in the Australian Government Department of Health’s series of COVID-19 vaccine updates for GPs webinar will be held from:

11:30am–12:00pm (AEST) tomorrow, Thursday 30 September 2021.

At this webinar, you’ll be provided with the latest information on the vaccine rollout. GPs and all health professionals are welcome.

Joining Professor Michael Kidd AM this week will be Dr Lucas de Toca, First Assistant Secretary, COVID-19 Primary Care Response, Department of Health and Julie Tonga AOM, CEO, Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal and Community Services, Narrabundah, Canberra.

This week’s GP webinar will have a slightly different look and feel as it will be held via webex. This will enable guests from other locations to join the GP webinar panel. If you’re unable to view this webinar live, you can view it on-demand using the same link, within a few hours of the live stream ending.

When you’re ready to join, use this link.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Dr Dawn Casey awarded Sidney Sax Medal for her outstanding contribution to public health

Dr Dawn Casey awarded Sidney Sax medal

For more information about the Sidney Sax Medal click here. You can view Dr Casey’s acceptance speech below and read a transcript of her speech here.

CAAC vax blitz going well

Central Australian Aboriginal Congress (CAAC) and Tangentyere Council have recently partnered to provide pop-up clinics to Alice Springs town-camp residents, with the aim to get 50% of their clients throughout Central Australia fully vaccinated by the end of the year.

Currently, in the middle of their vaccination blitz, CAAC CEO Donna Ah Chee, says that progress in the blitz is going well, but there are some challenges in encouraging people to get vaccinated. You can listen to an interview with Donna Ah Chee here.

CAAC CEO Donna Ah Chee sitting at her desk

CAAC CEO Donna Ah Chee.

“Get The Jab!” short films

The Northern Land Council and the Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance of the NT (AMSANT) promoting the “Get The Jab!” message as told in a series of seven short films to encourage COVID-19 vaccination among Aboriginal Territorians.

Outback icon Constantina Bush along with Kamahi Djordon King sends a strong – if somewhat cheeky – message in one of the films. Speaking from Katherine in the heartland of the Top End, Constantina has a serious message on misinformation online about COVID-19: “People should be really careful with information they see on Facebook, TikTok or other social media. To get the right story, go to your clinic or talk to your health worker, your doctor or your nurse. Everyone should get vaccinated to protect our families, our communities and our performing arts.”

You can view the NLC’s media release here and all of the short films, including the one below, can be seen at the NLC’s NLC TV YouTube channel here.

Top 3 vax questions answered

The Top 3 questions asked on the Department of Health’s (DoH) social accounts regarding COVID-19 are:

  1. Why do you need to get tested even if you only have mild cold and flu symptoms?
  2. Is the COVID-19 vaccine the same formula for adults and children?
  3. I’m pregnant, what are the benefits of getting the COVID-19 vaccine compared to the risk getting sick if I catch COVID-19?

In the video below Professor Michael Kidd answers these questions.

For further information you can access the DoH website here.

New rural healthcare model needed

The National Rural Health Alliance (NRHA) estimates the federal government is saving $4bn in rural areas through Medicare and the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme because of staffing shortages and lack of access to health services.

The NRHA wants a new model of healthcare for rural communities. It says rural populations’ lack of access to health services, due predominantly to the difficulty in attracting and retaining a rural health workforce, is driving the deficit in health expenditure.

Boe Rambaldini, a Bundjalung man and the director of the Poche Centre for Indigenous Health at the University of Sydney, says that while the government is nowhere near closing the gap between non-Indigenous and Indigenous health outcomes, he has high praise for the NACCHO model. “They’re the frontline and they’re so important, they’re the ones really making a difference, given their position in society they’re punching above their weight and delivering the goods.”

NACCHO states that “studies have shown that Aboriginal controlled health services are 23% better at attracting and retaining Aboriginal clients than mainstream providers”.

You can access the Guardian article in full here.

sealed road rural area, blue road sign white medical cross

Image source: University of Melbourne website.

National Cultural Respect Framework

The National Cultural Respect Framework 2016-2026 for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health was developed for the Australian Health Ministers Advisory Council by the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Standing Committee and should be used in the government health sector, health departments and hospital and primary health care settings to guide strategies to improve culturally respectful services.

Cultural Respect is defined as: “Recognition, protection and continued advancement of the inherent rights, cultures and traditions of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.” This framework outlines six domains that underpin culturally respectful health service delivery:

  1. Whole-of-organisation approach and commitment
  2. Communication
  3. Workforce development and training
  4. Consumer participation and engagement
  5. Stakeholder partnerships and collaboration
  6. Data, planning, research and evaluation

You can access the Cultural Respect Framework here as well as a short video about the framework below.

Indigenous Health Equity Unit projects

The University of Melbourne’s Indigenous Health Equity Unit undertakes research that is underpinned by principles of Indigenous community development and that will lead to long-term improvements in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health. The Unit works in partnership with the Koori Community and appreciates the support of Community Elders. The Unit’s work draws on a variety of academic disciplines including health sciences, social sciences, history, political science, education, health promotion, public health and child health.

One of the unit’s projects is: Healing the Past by Nurturing the Future, a community-based participatory research project which aims to co-design, develop and implement perinatal awareness, recognition, assessment and support strategies for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander (Aboriginal) parents experiencing complex trauma.

Another project is Developing a culturally responsive trauma-informed public health emergency response framework for First Nations families and communities during COVID-19. This research aims to explore the question: ‘Is it time for trauma-informed public health?’

To read more about the Indigenous Health Equity Unit and their research projects click here.

wooden irregular bowl filled with small rocks each painted with Aboriginal art

Image source: The University of Melbourne website.

Earlier access to Age Pension fight

Indigenous men and women don’t live as long as other Australians, and many will die before they finish working. On average, life expectancy at birth is 71 for Indigenous men and 75 years for Indigenous women. That’s 8.6 years less than non-Indigenous men and 7.8 years less than non-Indigenous women.

This is why Uncle Dennis is taking on the fight to give Indigenous retirees earlier access to the Age Pension. “I think, yes, Aboriginal people deserve this thing because we suffered so long in this country, for over 200 years … it would be good to help some of my people.”

To view the ABC News story in full click here.

close up photo of Uncle Dennis, grey beard, felt hat

Uncle Dennie. Image source: ABC News website.

New process for job advertising

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

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

World Heart Day

Cardiovascular Diseases (CVDs) are the leading cause of worldwide deaths amongst non-communicable health disorders. Cerebrovascular conditions such as stroke and other heart diseases claim up to 18.6 million lives every year. The World Health Organisation (WHO) believes that the majority of the CVDs are preventable if we keep a check on behavioural factors like smoking, sedentary lifestyle, unhealthy diet, and harmful consumption of alcohol.

A World Heart Federation initiative, World Heart Day is celebrated every year on 29 September to spread awareness about CVDs, their causes, and management. People from all walks of life who are dedicated to the cause are recognized by the establishment as ‘Heart Heroes’.

As the current pandemic has led us to limit physical contact and find alternative ways to connect with one another, the theme of the World Heart Day 2021 is “Harnessing the power of digital health to improve awareness, prevention, and management of CVD”.

For more information on WHD click here.
banner text 'World Heart Day' 29 September 2021 - white & black hands hold red plastic heart & stethoscope

Image source: OMRON website.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Getting jabs to rural and remote communities

tile text 'ACCHOs finds ways to bring COVID-19 vaccine to vulnerable rural and remote communities' & image of front of 4-wheel drive on outback red dirt road

*Image source in feature tile, The Conversation.

Getting jabs to rural and remote communities

NACCHO Chair, Donnella Mills says Covid-19 vaccination is a key priority. There 143 Aboriginal community controlled health organisations with more than 500 clinics currently trying to get jabs in arms with the help of the Royal Flying Doctor Service.

Covid has cut a devastating swathe through the Navajo and Amazonian Indigenous people. “When I think of the devastation in other first nations, that footprint, that traditional passage of law, language, culture and custom, it just stops,” Ms Mills said. “So it is why we must, if we have questions, go to your doctor. We have to protect our longevity in the country, 60,000 years and we must keep going strong.”

And getting vaccination rates up in far flung communities is vital. Some of the lowest rates are in WA northern region with only 10.86 fully vaccinated and 21.29% fully vaccinated. Rates across all Indigenous communities are lower than all other groups across the board.

But some communities are doing exceptionally well. “Shout out to NT mob Maningreda they did over 65% of their population over four days and in the Kimberleys, they’ve had two pop up vaccination clinics and they have done in excess of 250 vaccinations each day. We have to get as close of possible to 100% because of the fact we have 2.3 times the burden of disease than non-Indigenous Australians,” she said. “Some of our services have been doing door to door if we identify there may be an elder that can’t get to a clinic. We are reaching out and finding ways of bringing the vaccine to them.” Ms Mills said.

Donnella Mills NACCHO Chair with nurses Melinda Pascoe (left), and Catherine Moro (right)

Donnella Mills NACCHO Chair with nurses Melinda Pascoe (left), and Catherine Moro (right). Image supplied.

Another hurdle has been vaccine hesitancy, and the anti-vaccine movement has targeted the Indigenous population with scare tactics. “It has been so challenging, there has been such a direct intentional move to put this anti-vax narrative out there and what we’ve had to do is face that front on and make sure we keep communicating with all of our mob and identifying leaders in the community encourage them to keep coming to speak to us,” Ms Mills said.

This news story has been released by News Corp Media and released in The Telegraph and The Advertiser.

CAAC vax efforts applauded

The Burnet Institute, whose mission is to achieve better health for vulnerable communities in Australia and internationally by accelerating the translation of research, discovery and evidence into sustainable health solutions, has affirmed their support for the efforts of the Central Australian Aboriginal Congress (Congress) to protect Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities from the Delta variant of the SARS-Cov-2 virus.

The Burnet Institute says the leadership of community-controlled services like Congress has helped keep Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities safe during the first and second waves of COVID-19 during 2020 and the success of that control effort was driven in no small part by the self-determining and community-led responses that should underpin the delivery of all health services to Indigenous communities.

A just published paper co-authored by Burnet colleague Troy Combo offers some interesting insights into the response to the pandemic by Indigenous communities in Brisbane.

Burnet’s consistent message to the public has been to ‘leave no one behind’. They note the low vaccination coverage among Indigenous Australians in most states and territories and the demonstrated vulnerability of communities in Western NSW to the severe impacts of Delta infections. The outbreaks in the West and Far West local health districts of NSW could be repeated in other areas of Australia unless Indigenous communities are protected by high vaccination rates and other public health measures.

To view the full article click here.

Lilly Watson and Montanna Hudson at a pop-up COVID-19 vaccination clinic at Yeperenye shopping centre in Alice Springs

Congress employees Lilly Watson and Montanna Hudson at a pop-up COVID-19 vaccination clinic at Yeperenye shopping centre in Alice Springs. Image source: ABC News website.

Remote AMSs mobilise rapid testing drives

As COVID arrived in remote areas of the Western NSW Local Health District (LHD), health workers on the ground mobilised testing and outreach services in a matter of hours. While the LHD set up makeshift testing facilities that would service the droves that followed, Walgett Aboriginal Medical Service (AMS) acting chief executive Katrina Ward sent out staff to collect swabs from close contacts to be processed back at the clinic.

“It just gave that speed of results because otherwise you were waiting a good 12 hours before it got back to Dubbo [pathology],” she said. “At one stage my staff worked until midnight trying to get through the close contact tests just to alleviate a lot of the fear and anxiety off the community.”

Remote health clinics like the Walgett AMS were given access to a rapid PCR testing device called GeneXpert. Each machine can test four swabs at a time and produce results in about 45 minutes — much faster than the tests taken at hospitals and pop-up clinics, which are sent to pathology labs. The technology is part of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander COVID-19 Point-of-Care Testing Program, a federally funded initiative managed by the Kirby Institute in partnership with Flinders University.

To view the ABC News article in full click here.

close up photo of rapid covid-19 tests

Image source: ABC News.

School exclusion further harms vulnerable

Increasing numbers of students are being excluded from Australian schools. This is done both temporarily, through informal and formal suspensions, and permanently, through expelling them and cancelling their enrolments.

Publicly available data in NSW, SA and Queensland shows these exclusions begin in the first year of school when children can be as young as four years old. Informal exclusions are more common at this stage and usually occur in the form of a phone call requesting parents “take home” their child.

But because exclusionary discipline does not address the issues underlying childrens’ behaviour — and can reinforce it — short informal exclusions quickly progress to longer, formal suspensions. And because suspension still doesn’t solve the problem, one suspension can become many.

Four in five students suspended more than five times have a disability. Along with students with a disability, Indigenous students and those living in out-of-home care are also massively overrepresented in suspension and exclusion statistics. These are not distinct groups. It is possible to be Indigenous, have a disability and be living in care.

To view The Conversation article in full click here.

rear view of youth with blue hoodie facing brick wall with graffiti

Image source: world.edu.

Concerns for long-term mental health

Psychologists are concerned about anxiety and depression becoming long-term problems due to the pandemic, with the worst effects felt by the young and the vulnerable.

Professor Richard Bryant, of UNSW Sydney’s school of psychology, an expert on post-traumatic stress and anxiety believes the effects of continuing lockdowns and uncertainty are cumulative. “We know from previous experience that people are able to manage certain stressors for a time, but after a while they start to erode our resources.”

Research shows adults are adaptive. But what happens in kids is different, because they’re not adapting. Instead, they’re maintaining higher and higher levels of distress as time goes on.”

The mental health of Indigenous Australians has also been negatively affected. Professor Pat Dudgeon, a Bardi woman and director of the Centre of Best Practice in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention at the University of WA, says the pandemic has amplified existing vulnerabilities and inequities, compounding the already extremely high rates of mental illness and psychological distress among Indigenous Australians. She also points to a series of pressures unique to Indigenous people, in particular the psychological effects of being prevented from carrying out cultural practices, concern about the potential loss of Elders due to infection, and of being unable to visit Country due to lockdowns and border closures.

To view The Saturday Paper in full click here.

hand palm holding white line drawing of brain, outback sunset in background

Image source: The Mandarin.

The most amazing opportunity

“People think general practice is so isolated, but it’s just such a nice cohesive community and the colleagues and friends I’ve made here are just sensational.”

New Fellow Dr Melanie Matthews has had a similar experience in the NT.

It was while spending three months as a junior doctor in Maningrida through the Prevocational General Practice Placements Program (PGPPP) that she decided to apply for AGPT, and says she hasn’t looked back. ‘I just really, really loved it,’ Dr Matthews said. “I decided that it was Aboriginal Health that I wanted to work in, and that the NT was the right place for that.”

Her training program was delivered through NT GP Education (NTGPE), and she says it was ‘very supportive’, with opportunities throughout the year for registrars to come together. ‘I thought it was excellent,’ Dr Matthews said.

Positions for the 2022 AGPT Program’s General and Rural Pathways are still available in NSW, Queensland, SA and the NT.

Applications for the final intake of the 2022 AGPT Program close at 11.59 pm (AEST) –  Tuesday 21 September 2021. More information, including resources to assist with the application process, is available on the RACGP website here.

To view the full article in GPNews click here.

Dr Melanie Matthews sitting at desk at clinic

Dr Melanie Matthews, Mala’la Aboriginal Health Board, Maningrida. Image source: ABC News website.

Aboriginal author wins Stanner Award

A thesis tracking the development of the first truly empowering national study of health and wellbeing in Indigenous Australia (the Mayi Kuwayu National Study of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Wellbeing) has won the 2021 Stanner Award from AIATSIS.

‘Making Cultures Count: Transforming Indigenous Health Data in Australia’ by Sarah Bourke was assessed by a panel of independent judges as the best academic manuscript submitted for this year’s award. The AIATSIS Stanner Award is presented biennially to the best academic manuscript submitted by an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander author.

Ms Bourke is a descendant of the Gidja people from the Kimberley region in WA and the Gamilaroi people on the border of NSW and QLD. Her doctoral thesis used an Indigenist research framework to examine the historical, social, and political factors that influenced the development of Mayi Kuwayu and its emphasis on measuring cultural determinants of health.

The Stanner Award acknowledges the significant contribution of the late Emeritus Professor William Edward Hanley (Bill) Stanner to the establishment and development of AIATSIS.

To access the full media release and an interview with Sarah Bourke click here.

tile text '2021 Stanner Awards best academic manuscript by an ATSI author congratulations Sarah Bourke' & portrait photo of Sarah Bourke

Image source: Books+Publishing.

Pregnant prisoners need more care

Research into the health of women and mothers in prison has found a high number of incarcerated Aboriginal women were pregnant, with many giving birth while in prison, according to a study by The University of WA. The paper, published in  Australian and NZ Journal of Public Health, identified the need to provide more opportunities for primary care in the prison system, particularly for Aboriginal women and mothers.

Adjunct Associate Professor Marisa Gilles from UWA’s School of Population and Global Health has researched prisoner health since 2008. Her findings revealed that 30% of incarcerated Aboriginal women had been pregnant while in prison, and 20% had given birth while in prison.

Periods of custody also served as a vital time for providing healthcare to women who may not have been engaged with a GP when living in the community, or who hadn’t had a positive experience with health services prior to incarceration. Dr Gilles’ research showed that one in five Aboriginal mothers in custody had themselves been separated from their families as children by government services. They are typically also young, with 42% aged under 30. Furthermore, 92% of Aboriginal mothers in custody were current tobacco users.

Dr Gilles said the results suggested a strong correlation between inmates’ mental health, alcohol and drug issues, and violence. “It is an area of interest for me, particularly with respect to the high proportion of inmates with alcohol and drug issues, the high prevalence of mental health issues, and the history of violence in the lives of women in prison,” Dr Gilles said. “Not only do prisoners frequently arrive in prison with a number of health problems, they may face higher exposure to some conditions as a result of their incarceration, for example, communicable diseases, mental health issues, and violence.”

To view the article in full click here.

shadowy side image of pregnant woman against prison bars

Image source: University of WA website.

New process for job advertising

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

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

Let’s CHAT dementia research project

The University of Melbourne’s research project Let’s CHAT (Community Health Approaches To) Dementia in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Communities aims to increase detection rates of dementia by developing and implementing a best-practice model of care for dementia care with a group of ACCHO partner organisations.

Let’s CHAT Dementia is running a free webinar series with Dementia Training Australia over the coming months. The main target audience is Aboriginal Health Workers / Practitioners, and nurses, allied health and other staff who work in ACCHOs and/or with First Nations patients in primary care. It’s a great opportunity for primary care staff to learn about culturally safe and appropriate best-practice care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living with dementia.

A session coming up on 6:00 PM (AEST) – Wednesday 22 September 2021 will focus on detection of cognitive impairment and dementia. It will be run by GP and Adjunct Professor Mark Wenitong from the Kabi Kabi tribal group of South Queensland and Adjunct Professor Edward Strivens, Clinical Director for Older Persons, James Cook University and Cairns and Hinterland Hospital.

You can view a flyer for the webinar here and register here.

female Elder being shown a booklet by a male health professional

Image source: Dementia Training Australia.

‘This Rural Life’ launch

You are invited to join RACGP Rural and RACGP Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health from 7.30–8.15 PM (AEDT) – Wednesday 6 October 2021 as they launch the ‘This Rural Life’ photo competition in  webinar from .

This innovative project puts the spotlight on RACGP members across all career stages working in rural or remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health by sharing their incredible stories and experiences to inspire others to consider a career in rural general practice.

You can register for the FREE online webinar here.

6 photos taken by GP Jean-Baptiste Philibert of outback

Jean-Baptiste Philibert’s rural placement inspired him to pursue a career as a rural GP. Image source: GPNews.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: NSW state-wide vax blitz for mob

feature tile text 'NSW state-wide COVID-19 vaccination blitz for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people' & image of Aboriginal teenage girl's arm being vaccinated

NSW state-wide vax blitz for mob

NSW is having a COVID-19 Vaccination Blitz for Aboriginal people. All Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 12 and over can access a priority Pfizer vaccination appointment at the following locations:

  • Hunter New England – Belmont
  • Illawarra Shoalhaven – Dapto and  Nowra
  • Mid North Coast – Galambila AMS
  • Murrumbidgee – Griffith, Wagga Wagga and Young
  • Nepean Blue Mountains – Penrith
  • Northern Sydney – Hornsby and St Leonards
  • South Eastern Sydney – Surry Hills and Sutherland
  • South Western Sydney – Macquarie Fields
  • Southern NSW – Eden
  • Sydney – Redfern
  • Western NSW – Dubbo

For more detailed information the vaccination sites, dates and times click here.

Note: image in feature tile is from the ABC News website.

outdoor pop-up vaccination clinic in Dubbo, man, woman, pram with toddler, desk, health professionals under white shade

Pop-up vaccination clinic in Dubbo. Image source: GPNews.

Wuchopperen getting the job of the jabs done

This Saturday (18 September) Wuchopperen Health Service is hosting a second drop-in COVID-19 vaccine clinic at its Manoora facility. The first in the series of clinics was hosted three weeks ago (Saturday 28 August) when 287 Wuchopperen clients had their first or second Pfizer jab.

“Our first Pfizer vaccine day was a huge success – and great fun,” said Wuchopperen Deputy CEO Rachael Ham. “Before we opened the doors and saw people were lined up at the gates, we knew we were in for a great community day – with a local and global health outcome.

“As an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled health organisation, we have the responsibility to provide the information, the access and the protection to our community members to help fight this pandemic. And while our objective with the community vaccine days is to get our community vaccinated, at the same time we want to offer a good day out for families.” Mrs Ham said.

“By offering entertainment and refreshments we’re encouraging people to come together with community and share stories, knowledge and reconnect in general.”

Wuchopperen staff are expecting over 300 community members at this Saturday’s event,  for their first or second dose of the Pfizer vaccine; and encouraging all eligible Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders (aged 12 years and over) who would like to receive their jab to join the party.

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

Wuchopperen Board Member Maureen Mossman receiving vaccination

Wuchopperen Board Member Maureen Mossman has had her jab and said “The COVID jab, keeps me, my family and my community safe and strong.”

Reducing violence against women funding

The Federal Government has announced $13.5 million for nine service providers that deliver community-led programs to reduce violence against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and their children.

The $13.5 million is a portion of the $35.5 million invested in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander-specific measures in the Fourth Action Plan of the National Plan to Reduce Violence Against Women and their Children 2020-2022.

The nine recipients work in “high need communities”, with six being Indigenous organisations. Locations include Kununurra, WA; Port Augusta and Ceduna, SA; Nhulunbuy and surrounds, NT; Darwin and Katherine, NT; and Townsville and Mackay, QLD.

In the last year, the National Indigenous Australians Agency (NIAA) has partnered with these providers to co-design service responses and will continue to do so to support program delivery across the 43 remote and regional areas.

To view the National Indigenous Times article in full click here.

Aboriginal mother & daughter

Image source: The University of Melbourne website.

$15m for mental health first aid training

The Federal Government is providing $15 million over three years to the National Wellbeing Alliance Pty Ltd to deliver mental health first aid training for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities across Australia. The National Wellbeing Alliance Pty Ltd was selected as the national provider following a competitive grants process.

They will deliver culturally safe and appropriate mental health first aid courses to upskill participants in recognising when to seek assistance and how to assist family and other community members in need of support. Minister for Indigenous Australians, the Hon Ken Wyatt AM, MP, said protection of the social and emotional wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people is a critical priority.

To view the media release in full click here.

vector image of black head, blue brain, green bag with white medical cross inside white circle, light blue background

Image source: 3btraining website.

Infectious diseases surveillance expansion

Important research projects at The University of Queensland (UQ) have been awarded more than $50 million from the Australian Government. One of the recipients of funding is the UQ Poche Centre for Indigenous Health which will expand an infectious diseases sentinel surveillance network operating in 32 Aboriginal primary care services.

Professor James Ward said the partnership project would increase the number of sites involved and expand the scope of the network to include surveillance of vaccine preventable diseases. “In doing this, we are now able to move to the next phase of progressing our surveillance network to one that will simultaneously be focused on driving quality improvement within health services as well as participation in ongoing research all bound up with strong community participation,” he said.

To view the full article on the UQ website click here.

Aboriginal dot painting art of hand over Country, blue brown, aqua, cream

Image source: SA Aboriginal STI & BBV Action Plan 2020-2024 cover.

Indigenous oral health research funding

The University of Adelaide has been awarded $10.5 million for seven research projects, one of them in the area of Indigenous oral health.

An amount of $2,598,056 has been awarded to Professor Lisa Jamieson, from Adelaide Dental School, to facilitate best practice oral care models for Indigenous Australians. The goal of the project is to improve Indigenous oral health outcomes, raise standards of oral clinical care through cultural competency workshops, and capacity building of the Indigenous oral health workforce.

The funding is through the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) 2021 Investigator Grant program, which invests in world-leading health and medical research projects to improve lives.

To view the article in full click here.

dentist's model of teeth in gums, jaw

Image source: The University of Adelaide website.

Boost for brain health

The growing burden of dementia among older Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders will be addressed by a new research centre that will include researchers from The University of WA (UWA). The Federal Government has announced $3 million funding over five years for the Centre for Research Excellence, to be known as OnTRACK, which will look at developing culturally appropriate and effective ways of promoting brain health among Indigenous people.

Based at the University of Melbourne, OnTRACK hopes to play a crucial role in detecting memory and thinking changes in order to prevent dementia, as well as supporting those living with dementia. The national collaboration is made up of a team of researchers who have already completed landmark research addressing the gaps of dementia prevention and early detection in older Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders..

To view the article in full click here.

older Aboriginal woman looking in direction of smiling Aboriginal teenager (girl)

Image source: The University of WA website.

Digital health’s future – have your say

Today, Australians have access to telehealth, electronic prescriptions, My Health Record and more. What comes next is up to you.

Now’s your chance to influence the future of digital health in Australia by taking part in a short, 15 minute survey.  Your valuable input will help the Australian Government continue to evolve one of the best healthcare services in the world.

For more detail you can access the Australian Digital Health Agency’s website here and to take the survey click here.

New process for job advertising

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

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

World Patient Safety Day

For World Patient Safety Day, 17 September 2021, WHO urges all stakeholders to “Act now for safe and respectful childbirth! with the theme “Safe maternal and newborn care”. Approximately 810 women die every day from preventable causes related to pregnancy and childbirth. In addition, around 6,700 newborns die every day, amounting to 47% of all under-5 deaths. Moreover, about 2 million babies are stillborn every year, with over 40% occurring during labour. Considering the significant burden of risks and harm women and newborns are exposed to due to unsafe care, compounded by the disruption of essential health services caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the campaign is even more important this year.

Fortunately, the majority of stillbirths and maternal and newborn deaths are avoidable through the provision of safe and quality care by skilled health professionals working in supportive environments. This can only be achieved through the engagement of all stakeholders and the adoption of comprehensive health systems and community-based approaches.

World Patient Safety Day was established in 2019 to enhance global understanding of patient safety, increase public engagement in the safety of health care and promote global actions to enhance patient safety and reduce patient harm.

For more information about World Patient Safety Day click here. You can also view a media release issued by Consumers Health Forum Australia to mark World Patient Safety Day here.banner - World Patient Sock Day, 17 September 2021

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Additional funding to help vaccinate mob

feature tile text 'NACCHO receives additional funding to help vaccinate mob' & image of young Aboriginal woman receiving covid-19 vaccination

Additional funding to help vaccinate mob

All Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who aren’t vaccinated are prioritised under new funding to cover all Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations (ACCHOs). An extra $7 million will be provided to NACCHO, with some of the funding to be used to hire more staff, who will liaise directly with communities to assist with the rollout of vaccinations.

Lieutenant General John Frewen who leads the national COVID-19 vaccine taskforce said:

“In some of the bigger communities, we’ll be doing things like super clinics, you know, a sort of blitz effort to get large numbers of people through. In other areas we’ll be doing very close community consultation, with an information campaign to get the community ready to accept vaccination and then we’ll provide the vaccinations there.”

There is also funding for First Nations Media Australia, which has been asked to produce new advertising material that can be shared among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples about the vaccine rollout, to address vaccine hesitancy.

Note: image in feature tile –  Aboriginal health service, Wellington, NSW. Photo: Louise Austin. Image source: ABC News.

Super clinics are being planned for Indigenous communities to speed up vaccination rates. Image source: Unsplash/ ABC News.

Super clinics are being planned for Indigenous communities to speed up vaccination rates. Image source: Unsplash/ ABC News.

 

Bathurst gets walk-in vax clinic

A good number of people received their COVID-19 shot at the Kelso Community Hub, Bathurst on its first day as a pop-up vaccination clinic. The Kelso Community Hub is a walk-in clinic, meaning no appointments are needed, and around 200 people per day will be able to be vaccinated.

The clinic is being led by the Orange Aboriginal Medical Service and CEO Jamie Newman said it is about making the vaccine more accessible to people in the community.

“We’ve got to be mindful that a lot of our people who live in low socioeconomic areas do not have transport, so to get into town would be difficult for them. We encountered the same thing in Orange. We need to be able to sometimes bring the mountain to Mohamed, so having it here right in the heart of Kelso allows for walking distance for community members here,” he said.

You can read the story in the Western Advocate here.

Orange Aboriginal Medical Service CEO Jamie Newman and staff at the Kelso Community Hub. Photos: Rachel Chamberlain.

Orange Aboriginal Medical Service CEO Jamie Newman and staff at the Kelso Community Hub. Photos: Rachel Chamberlain.

 

Communities rallying to get mob vaccinated

Vaccination rates must increase before reopening country

Seventeen of the 20 least vaccinated regions of Aboriginal people are in WA and QLD. Traditional Owners in the WA outback are the least vaccinated of any area in Australia, with just nine per cent of those living in the Southern Outback region having received both doses of the vaccineMichael Small is a Maths and Statistics Professor at the University of Western Australia; his modelling shows that if WA was to experience a NSW-style outbreak, the State would only have 30 days before the virus made its way to remote communities.

“The modelling showed that until the vaccination rate is at around 80 or 90 percent, then these communities are at great risk of local transmission within about a month [of the virus arriving in the State],” he said.

You can read the article in the National Indigenous Times here.

In a related article in Croakey Health Media, grave concerns have been raised about the implications for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ health of the “Roadmap to Freedom” released by the NSW Government.

Under the plan, stay-at-home orders for adults who have received both doses of the COVID-19 vaccine will be lifted from the Monday after NSW passes the 70 percent double vaccination target. NSW hits the 80 percent double dose target, the Government intends to ease further restrictions around international travel, community sport, major events and other areas.

Aboriginal health leaders in NSW, the Northern Territory and other jurisdictions are calling for public health orders to remain in place until at least 90 percent of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are vaccinated.

You can read the article in Croakey Health Media here.
Image source: National Indigenous Times.

Image source: National Indigenous Times.

 

Lock-down of remote communities with low jab rates

In an article in The Australian (that requires a subscription to read), Western Australia is working on plans to lock down remote Aboriginal communities with low vaccination rates when it lifts state and international borders, with health officials concerned American evangelists were scaring residents into refusing inoculations.

WA Health Minister Roger Cook confirmed he had spoken to his federal counterpart, Greg Hunt, to request support to lock down communities with low Covid-19 vaccination rates once border restrictions were relaxed.

Health authorities in the state are particularly concerned about hostility towards the vaccination program in the far northern communities of Noonkanbah, Looma and Ringer Soak, although Mr Cook said he was aware of at least one community further south where local leaders were also ­agitating against inoculations.

The most recent publicly available vaccination data for WA’s northern outback region, released last Monday, shows just 28 per cent of adults have had one dose compared with 53 per cent across the entire state on the same day. Only 17 per cent were fully ­vaccinated.

Mr Cook said a small number of communities were simply turning away healthcare workers ­because “religious opposition (was) just too overwhelming … Those communities are now saying, ‘Look, we’ve heard you. We’re not going to take the vaccine ­because it’s against god’s will, and so just don’t come back,’ ” he said.

“I think we have to concede that there are some communities that simply will not participate in the … program.” Mr Cook said it may be necessary to restrict movement in and out of remote communities that remain largely unvaccinated in 2022 when international and interstate travel ­resumed.

Mr Cook said some communities had been turned against the vaccine after streaming YouTube videos from US evangelists.

“But just because you’re of a strong religious belief doesn’t mean that you’re anti-vax, it’s simply an interpretation of some of the churches.”

Mr Cook said the debate about when to open-up must include a proviso about the vaccination rate of Aboriginal people. “If you’ve got 80 per cent of mainstream WA vaccinated but only 20 per cent of the Aboriginal community vaccinated, you still can’t open up,” he said.

Noonkanbah Sports Festival 2018. Image source: Garnduwa.

Noonkanbah Sports Festival 2018. Image source: Garnduwa.

 

Healthcare workers at increased risk of mental ill-health during pandemic

There is increasing concern about rising rates of mental ill-health and suicide among doctors.

A recent review led by the Black Dog Institute and UNSW Sydney that was published in The Lancet has revealed doctors are at increased risk of suicide and, in their early years of training, one-quarter to one-third reported significant mental ill-health. The researchers said while this was an increasing issue even before the COVID-19 pandemic, there is emerging evidence that the impact of the pandemic is creating even more mental health problems.

The review suggested female doctors appeared to be at particular risk, with a suicide rate that is significantly higher than women in the general population.

“The acute nature of the COVID-19 pandemic in many parts of Australia at the moment highlights the importance of this issue. The mental health of doctors, along with other healthcare staff, is something we are all depending on,” said the lead author of the study Professor Samuel Harvey, who runs the Workplace Mental Health Research Program at the Black Dog Institute and UNSW.

You can read the article in the UNSW Sydney Newsroom here.

Healthcare worker in PPE at door of clinic. Image source: ABC News.

Healthcare worker in PPE at door of clinic. Image source: ABC News.

 

Suicide intervention training saving lives

A training program to build Indigenous Australians’ skills in preventing suicides has brought national acclaim for a University of Queensland researcher. Associate Professor Maree Toombs said the I-ASIST program was developed in partnership with LivingWorks Australia over four years of consultation and collaboration.

Dr Toombs, a Euralie and Kooma woman, is the UQ Faculty of Medicine’s Associate Dean of Indigenous Engagement. On World Suicide Prevention Day (10 September 2021), she received the Suicide Prevention Australia’s LIFE Impact Award.

“I-ASIST trains friends, family and outreach services to identify people early who are at risk of suicide, and to use their skills to address the situation immediately,” she said.

“It provides employment for Indigenous trainers, either through organisations or as sole traders, to deliver suicide first-aid skills to their local communities. It develops capacity and sustainability for evidence-based training.

“Now we need people who are embedded and trusted in their communities to be trained deliver this program, especially in Indigenous communities,” she said.

Ken Wyatt, the Minister for Indigenous Australians, will officially launch I-ASIST in November.

You can read more about the program here.

SPA_LifeAwards_Associate Professor Maree Toombs

 

NACCHO Conference postponed

📢 IMPORTANT NOTICE: As the COVID-19 situation and impacts continue, a decision has been taken to postpone our Conference until next year. NACCHO will review the situation in December including when we can convene the conference.

For any queries please email: conference@naccho.org.au.

NACCHO Conference 2021 - Postponed.

 

New process for job advertising

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

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


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