NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Learning from people with lived experience

The image in the feature tile is from the Aboriginal heart health webpage of the Heart Foundation website.

Learning from people with lived experience

Communities and individuals have a right and a duty to participate in the design and delivery of their health care. In tackling the complex global epidemic of noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) and mental health conditions, people with lived experience offer powerful expertise and narratives to shape policies, programs and services, and influence and inform those in power. Despite the right of participation, many global health interventions are top–down, one-size-fits-all or donor-driven models.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has created a short film documentary that sheds light on the experiences of people living with noncommunicable diseases and mental health conditions around the world. Nothing for Us, Without Us: listening and learning from people with lived experience highlights six individuals with diverse health conditions, including rheumatic heart disease, Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes, cancer, bipolar affective disorder and auto-immune disease and includes perspectives from Australia, Brazil, Lebanon, Nepal, Nigeria and the United Kingdom.

These individuals provide powerful expertise and evidence of why including the voices of people with lived experience is critical in the co-design of related policies, programs and health services. In addition to the full-length film, there is also the opportunity to learn from the experiences of the individuals, including the CEO of Aboriginal Medical Service Co-operative Limited, LaVerne Bellear, through a series of short films.

Click here to access the WHO’s Nothing for us, without us: new film series on people living with noncommunicable diseases and mental health conditions webpage. You can also access the WHO report Nothing for us, without us: opportunities for meaningful engagement of people living with NCDs here.

Addressing health holistically for 25 years

Addressing health holistically can go a long way to improving the quality of life for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders. On a day-to-day level, it’s services like Goolburri Aboriginal Health Advancement in Queensland that makes all the difference. The incorporated community not-for-profit organisation has been providing culturally safe and sensitive services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and non-Indigenous people in Queensland’s Toowoomba and Darling Downs regions, and SW Queensland for 25 years.

Goolburri knows that encompassing the importance of connection to land, culture, ancestry and how these impact on overall wellbeing of the individual and broader community cannot be underestimated. Goolburri supports Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders with a range of services to strengthen families and community relationships, while also protecting the vulnerable and those at risk. These services include GPs, dental services, home support, healing and wellbeing services and a family wellbeing service. It also extends to problematic substance abuse, domestic violence, social and emotional wellbeing, safety plans for children and in-home support.

To view The Sydney Morning Herald article Strengthening communities by advancing health care options in full click here.

Goolburri employs around 80 team members across 10 offices. Image source: The Sydney Morning Herald.

Condo SkyFest supports mental health initiatives

The recent Condo Skyfest Miima Warrabinya (Seeking the Stars) festival washosted by Wiradjuri Condobolin Corporation (WCC) and Big Skies Collaboration. The festival showcased works from a number of local community organisations and individuals including the:

  • Condo SistaShed, where Sistas meet regularly to enjoy arts and crafts activities;
  • Marathon Health’s Wiradjuri Wellness Project’s Shine group, who meet regularly to paint, sew, yarn and relax. Their artworks celebrate good mental and physical health and positive attitudes;
  • Focus on the Sky: Suicide Prevention Program exhibition, by participants of workshops conducted by Condobolin artist Karen Tooth for the Suicide Prevention Program, an initiative of the Primary Health Network supported by Western Plains Regional Development, Condobolin Aboriginal Health Service and Lachlan Arts Council.

To view the Eastern Advocate article Condo Skyfest Miima Warrabinya (Seeking the Stars) held at the iconic Wiradjuri Study Centre in full click here.

Some of the Sistas at the Condo SistaShed with some of their lantern experiments. From left, Aleesha Goolagong, Zanette Coe, Bev Coe, Charmaine Coe. Photo: Merrill Findlay. Image source: Arts OutWest website.

Scholarships to support health workers

Applications for 400 scholarships for personal care workers and nurses undertaking vocational, undergraduate and postgraduate courses related to aged care, leadership and management have opened. There are also 100 scholarships available for allied health professionals to focus on dementia-related post-graduate qualifications under the three-year commonwealth program, which launched last year. Students are eligible to apply if their course commences or continues in 2023. There is a guaranteed number of scholarships per year for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. All scholarship recipients are eligible for a completion bonus on successfully finishing their course.

Chief nursing and midwifery officer Professor Alison McMillan said the priority of the scholarships is to develop skills for aged care nurses in leadership and clinical management, and to improve expertise in areas such as palliative care, dementia care and infection prevention and control. “I’d encourage all nurses and aged care workers working in aged care to look at what courses are available and consider applying for study that will support their career in the long term,” Professor McMillan said in a statement.

“Personal care workers interested in becoming an enrolled nurse should consider applying for a scholarship to complete a Diploma of Nursing. Enrolled nurses can apply for a scholarship to complete a Bachelor of Nursing to become a registered nurse,” she said. For allied health, courses related to aged care including clinical gerontology, behavioural management, dementia, continence and palliative care are eligible in addition to leadership and management courses.

Aged care nurse practitioner Khera said the scholarships changed her life. “The best part about my studies is applying the theories and learnings in the workplace and seeing the positive outcomes.”

For more information you can access the Australian Ageing Agenda article More scholarships for aged care nursing, care, allied health staff in full here.

Image source: VACCHO website.

$2.1m for Pilbara Aboriginal Health Alliance

With access to health services a big issue for Aboriginal communities in the Pilbara, BHP is providing $2.1 million in funding to help establish the Pilbara Aboriginal Health Alliance (PAHA). BHP’s partnership with PAHA will help transform how Indigenous health services are provided in the Pilbara, by establishing new services and creating a strong voice for Indigenous health care.

The Alliance brings together three member organisations, Puntukurnu Aboriginal Medical Service (Newman), Wirraka Maya Health Service (Port Hedland) and Mawarnkarra Health Service (Roebourne and Karratha). Through their collective expertise and community connections, PAHA has a unique understanding of Indigenous health challenges in the Pilbara. Their goal is to work towards breaking down the barriers and improving the health and resilience of Aboriginal people now and in the future.

Wirraka Maya Health Service CEO, June Councillor, says the funding will make a huge difference in driving real improvements in the health and wellbeing of Indigenous people in the Pilbara. “It will help us identify, develop and roll out the Indigenous health services that will have the greatest impact on our communities in Newman, Port Hedland, Roebourne and Karratha.”

To view the BHP article Transforming Indigenous healthcare in the Pilbara in full click here.

PAHA logo, PAHA health workers. Image sources: PAHA Facebook, BHP website.

Indigenous Literacy Day

Today, Wednesday 7 September 2022 is Indigenous Literacy Day. This is a yearly initiative by Australia’s Indigenous Literacy Foundation. Through literacy programs, the organisation seeks to improve the lives and possibilities of Indigenous Australians. Not just any literacy program, but one that puts the knowledge and wisdom of the Indigenous people first.

Australia’s First Peoples have a deep knowledge of community, culture, and land. These are concepts of “literacy” that the western world may not understand. We must redefine what literacy means for different communities and their needs. To create forward-thinking spaces without losing roots. Indigenous Literacy Day advocates people’s right to an education in the languages they speak at home. It celebrates Indigenous freedom of expression and participation in public life just as they are.

For more information about Indigenous Literacy Day click here.

Eating disorders research grants available

Sydney’s first eating disorders research and translation centre offers nationwide grant opportunity to progress prevention, treatments and support in partnership with research, lived experience, clinical and community experts. The Australian Eating Disorders Research and Translation Centre, led by InsideOut Institute at the University of Sydney, has launched the IgnitED Fund to unearth new ideas that have the potential to solve the problem of eating disorders.

Open to anyone living in Australia, IgnitED offers grants of up to $25,000 to develop and test innovative ideas that have potential to improve outcomes for people with eating disorders and their loved ones. It is the Centre’s first funding initiative following the $13m grant awarded in January to establish the new national centre.

According to the Centre’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Co-Lead, Leilani Darwin, First Nations Australians are believed to experience high rates of eating disorders, disordered eating and food insecurity issues. “The IgnitED Fund facilitates Indigenous innovation,” said Darwin. “For the first time, we are uniquely positioned to elevate the need to better understand the issue of eating disorders and to build the evidence and best practice for our communities.”

For further information you can access The University of Sydney webpage National eating disorders centre ignites research fund for new solutions here.

Sector Jobs

Sector Jobs – you can see sector job listings on the NACCHO website here.

Advertising Jobs – to advertise a job vacancy click here to go to the NACCHO website Current job listings webpage. Scroll down to the bottom of the page to find a Post A Job form. You can complete this form with your job vacancy details – it will then be approved for posting and go live on the NACCHO website.

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: 500 new First Nations health care workers

The image in the feature tile is of Tyla West-Chong who works with Gidgee Healing in the north-west Queensland region. Photo: Kelly Butterworth. Image source: ABC North West Qld article Indigenous health workers deliver trusted medical care to outback communities, 13 April 2021.

500 new First Nations health care workers

The federal government has announced a plan to train 500 health workers across Australia. Speaking from the front steps of SA’s Parliament House ahead of the Joint Council on Closing the Gap meeting last Friday, Assistant Indigenous Health Minister Malarndirri McCarthy said the government would spend $52.9 million over five years to employ the Aboriginal trainees. “We need to lift the standard of living for First Nations people in this country,” she said. The trainees will get Certificate III or IV qualifications to allow them to work in health settings and deliver culturally appropriate care.

Federal Indigenous Australian Minister Linda Burney said the Closing the Gap targets were “absolutely fundamental” to changing the lives of Aboriginal people in Australia. She said the gap cannot be closed without adequate data and shared decision-making between governments and Aboriginal organisations. “It is patently obvious that Aboriginal organisations know their communities and know what the resolutions are to what seems like intractable problems,” she said.

NACCHO CEO and Lead Convener of the Coalition of Peaks, Pat Turner said government institutions — hospitals, police stations, youth detention centres — need to be reformed to be more “culturally safe and culturally respectful in their dealings with Aboriginal people”.

To view the ABC News article Government announces investment in training 500 Aboriginal healthcare workers as Closing the Gap council meets click here.

Federal and state Indigenous affairs ministers and Aboriginal leaders meet in Adelaide for a Closing the Gap meeting. Photo: Richard Davies. Image source: ABC News.

New PHC centre opens in Mapoon

Dignitaries from all over Queensland headed for the tiny Cape York community of Mapoon last week for the opening of Apunipima Cape York Health Council’s Thimithi Nhii Primary Health Care Centre. This is Apunipima’s fourth standalone Primary Health Care Centre built under the Federal Government’s Rural and Remote Health Infrastructure Project and the result is a win for the community of Mapoon and Cape York communities in general.

Mayor of Mapoon and Apunipima Chairperson, Aileen Addo thanked a long list of people before cutting the ribbon in front of the community and guests to officially open the new facility. “This is something very positive, it’s been a long time coming but it’s finally here. This community is growing and we have to build infrastructure to go with that growth,” Mrs Addo said.

According to Mrs Addo, the flow-on effects from the opening of the new centre will resonate for years to come. “This is about more than just health, this is another strategy we’ve put in place to close the gap. This is about getting everything in order and seeing better outcomes like more community-based jobs, better infrastructure and community development.”

To view the Apunipima Cape Yourth Health Council media release Thimithi Nhii Primary Health Care Centre opens in Mapoon in full click here.

Images from the opening of thThimithi Nhii Primary Health Care Centre in Mapoon. Images provided by Apunipima Cape York Health Council.

$1.6m for Healing Spirit Youth Hub

The Andrews Labor Government is ensuring Aboriginal organisations have the facilities they need to support their communities and deliver the best services to First People’s Victorians. Minister for Treaty and First Peoples Gabrielle Williams has announced 21 Aboriginal organisations will share in $11 million to build or upgrade community infrastructure as part of the sixth round of the Aboriginal Community Infrastructure Program.

This includes Wathaurong Aboriginal Cooperative in Geelong, which will receive $1.6 million to develop a Healing Spirit Youth Hub, creating a fit-for-purpose, culturally safe space for children and young people to access clinical and therapeutic, social and emotional wellbeing services and supports.

To view the media release Boosting Capacity of Aboriginal Community Services by the Hon Gabirelle Williams MP, Victorian Minister for Mental Health and Minister for Treaty and First Peoples click here.

Image source: City of Greater Geelong website.

Managing tenecteplase (Metalyse) shortage

The Australian Government Department of Health and Aged Care Therapeutic Good Administration (DoH TGA) have have published a statement, available here with clinical recommendations to assist healthcare professionals during this shortage.

A printable summary, How to manage tenecteplase (Metalyse) shortage, of the recommendations is available here for clinicians to print and display in relevant health settings.

Links to both of these statements can be found here on the DoH TGA main shortage of tenecteplase (Metalyses) webpage.

Image source: AJP e-mag.

Strep A POCT set to safe lives

Instant diagnosis and treatment of potentially life-threatening Strep A infections is now very close to reality across Australia’s remote and regional areas thanks to molecular point-of-care testing (POCT) that slashes result times from five days to just minutes. Published today in the Medical Journal of Australia, researchers from Telethon Kids Institute and their collaborators have shown that utilising POCT machines to fast-track diagnosis of group A streptococcal (Strep A) pharyngitis in kids has the potential to revolutionise prevention strategies for acute rheumatic fever (ARF) and rheumatic heart disease (RHD).

Strep A infections are often responsible for sore throats and painful skin infections, which can lead to irreversible and potentially deadly heart and kidney damage if left untreated. Affecting remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians at some of the highest rates in the world, the key challenge in the prevention of ARF and RHD has been timely diagnosis and treatment of Strep A to minimise the risk of serious complications and stop the spread of infection throughout communities.

To view the Telethon Kids Institute media release Point-of-care Strep A tests set to save lives in remote settings in full click here.

Image source: Telethon Kids Institute.

Call to restore child and family centre funding

The Albanese Federal Government has an opportunity to demonstrate its commitment to Closing the Gap for our children by reinstating funding in the October Budget for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander child and family centres. The Abbott Government cut funding in 2014 to 38 Aboriginal Child and Family Centres (ACFCs), undermining efforts to ensure Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children had the best start in life through accessing community-controlled early childhood education and services.

SNAICC CEO Catherine Liddle said the ACFCs represented a considerable investment from COAG and the sector was still feeling the impacts of the cuts. “While some State and Territory Governments took up parts of the funding challenge, many ACFCs struggled to keep operating as integrated community-controlled early years services.”

To view the SNAICC media release Restore funding to Close the Gap for our Children in full click here.

Bubup Wilam Aboriginal Child and Family Centre
Thomastown, Melbourne. Image source: Hayball website.

ADHA seeking applications

The Australian Digital Health Agency (the Agency) is seeking applications, through a Request for Tender process, for suitably qualified, experienced, and interested individuals to join our group of expert advisors who will support the Agency’s program of work.

Digital Health Expert Advisors are critical to this role and support the Agency by applying everyday health industry experience to the design, development and implementation of Agency products and services. This includes focusing on the clinical safety, quality and usability of all products and services developed by the Agency, and the systems within which the Agency operates.

  • Subject matter expertise: contributing clinical and/or digital health subject matter expertise into the Agency’s work program to ensure that our products, services and activities align with contemporary clinical practice and are high quality, clinically safe and usable;
  • Strategic advice: providing strategic advice within their area(s) of expertise, on approaches, processes, services and products, via participation in expert committees, advisory groups and other forums;
  • Advocacy and engagement: advocating and engaging with the broader clinical and consumer communities on the establishment and adoption of a national digital health infrastructure and representing the Agency in this regard; this may include conferences and media appearances;
  • Information and education: participating in the development and presentation of clinical messaging, education and adoption activities, and materials; and
  • Other activities: undertaking other activities as directed that aim to raise awareness and promote adoption and use of digital health products, services, and systems nationally.

The Request for Tender has now been released, via Austender, with applications closing Monday 19 September 2022.

To access the Australian Digital Health Agency website click here and to access the Digital Health Expert Advisor position details click here.

Sector Jobs

Sector Jobs – you can see sector job listings on the NACCHO website here.

Advertising Jobs – to advertise a job vacancy click here to go to the NACCHO website Current job listings webpage. Scroll down to the bottom of the page to find a Post A Job form. You can complete this form with your job vacancy details – it will then be approved for posting and go live on the NACCHO website.

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: On Children’s Day, hear voices of the future

The image in the feature tile is of Brooklyn Goodwin, kutalayna Collective and Pacey Riley, kanamaluka Collective. Both photos were taken by Kata Glover, Digital Communications Officer, Connected Beginnings, lutruwita.

On Children’s Day, hear voices of the future

National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children’s Day (Children’s Day) is celebrated across Australia each year on 4 August. Historically this was the date used to celebrate the birthdays of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children who were taken from their families at a young age, without knowing their birthday –  they became known as being part of the Stolen Generations.

Now, Children’s Day is a time for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families and communities to celebrate the strength and culture of our children. The theme for this year’s Children’s Day is ‘My Dreaming, My Future’ – which askes our kids to reflect on what the Dreaming means to them, their lives, their identity, and the aspirations for the future.

The Secretariat of National Aboriginal and Islander Child Care (SNAICC), the national peak body in Australia representing the interests of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and families, actively supports and promotes Children’s Day.

TAC program supports strong beginnings

On National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children’s Day, NACCHO would like to highlight the innovative work done towards improving the lives of our kids and building better outcomes for them by our affiliate, the Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre (TAC), an ACCHO for the Tasmanian Aboriginal community.

The Connected Beginnings program aims to improve health, educational, developmental, and social outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children aged 0-5 years to ensure every child is ready for the transition to school.

The program is delivered under an innovative Collective Impact framework that aims to elevate the Aboriginal community’s voice, support integrated service provision, advocate for culturally safe and appropriate services and facilitate positive actions to improve community outcomes.

TAC Chief Operations Officer and Program Director, Raylene Foster says, “A program like Connected Beginnings is vital to improving the whole ecosystem of service delivery for Aboriginal children.  This place-based program is essential for the successful delivery and utilisation of mainstream programs and child health, social, educational and development needs for Aboriginal children, to be delivered through an Aboriginal lens”.

The success of the Connected Beginnings program at kutalayna (Brighton), has led to the program’s expansion to two new sites in pataway (Burnie) and kanamaluka (George Town and Northern Suburbs Launceston). The expansion is a testament to the great work being carried out at TAC and to their ongoing commitment towards improving the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children.

Connected Beginnings in pataway will be officially launched in tandem with the celebration of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children’s Day.

The program is jointly funded by the Department of Health and Aged Care and the Department of Education. TAC is the recipient of both streams of Connected Beginnings funding from the Departments and delivers the program across lutruwita, Tasmania.

  • read the kutalyana Collective media release here
  • read a related National Indigenous Times article here
  • listen to an ABC News radio (Northern Tasmania) interview with Chloe Woolnough from TAC and Project Manager of Connected Beginnings, lutruwita, here.

Background Information

The Connected Beginnings program forms part of the first Commonwealth Closing the Gap Implementation Plan. It aims are to contribute to achieving Outcome 4, that children thrive in their early years, under the National Agreement on Closing the Gap. Connected Beginnings currently fund 14 ACCHOs and Aboriginal Medical Services across Australia. In 2021, the Australian Government provided additional funding to expand the Connected Beginnings Program to a minimum of 50 sites by 2025 and are working in partnership with NACCHO on the delivery of the health component of the Connected Beginnings program.

The program demonstrates how change can be made within the new Closing the Gap partnership arrangements and how transformation can happen if everyone has a shared vision, trust, and commitment. The success of Connected Beginnings in lutruwita is being celebrated across the country, highlighting how, through Aboriginal community control, meaningful and lasting systems changes are best achieved.

You can find more information about Connected Beginnings on the Australian Government Department of Education and the Department of Employment and Workplace Relations joint website page here.

katalayna Collective logo, Francis Ketley, katalayna Collective, Leveigh Bernes, kanamaluka Collective, Isabella Romanelli, pataway Collective. Photos: Kate Glover.

COVID vax for kids with comorbidities

The Australian Government has accepted the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) recommendations for COVID vaccination use in children 6 months to <5 years of age with significant comorbidities and these children will be eligible for a vaccine from Monday 5 September 2022.

The ATAGI have released a statement ATAGI recommendations on COVID-19 vaccine use in children aged 6 months to <5 years which is available on the Australian Government Department of Health and Aged Care website here.

Of particular note:

  • there are eligibility conditions for the vaccine and most Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children WILL NOT be eligible for the vaccine. Only children with immunosuppression, significant comorbidities or a disability that requires significant assistance with daily activities will be eligible
  • the Department of Health and Aged Care is engaging ACCHOs around vaccination for this age group, with webinars with ACCHOs organised for next week to discuss how to support access for eligible Aboriginal and Torres Strait children, particularly in rural and remote areas.

Occupational therapist at Wellington Aboriginal Corporation Health Service (WACHS). Image source: WACHS website.

Call for First Nations first responders

When Lismore was hit with its biggest flood in recorded history, national Indigenous newspaper the Koori Mail responded quickly to the needs of the community. The newspaper’s general manager Naomi Moran said she was able to salvage laptops and hard drives, but the building and most of its contents were destroyed. In the wake of the mud and wreckage, Ms Moran said they were forced to face the reality that for the first time in the organisation’s 30-year history, they would not be able to print the next edition, and possibly several after that. “We lost our building, we lost our first floor, we lost everything that the Koori Mail was for the past 30 years,” she said.

Far from calling it a day, the organisation pivoted and became a flood hub responding to the community’s needs for food, supplies, clothing and support. “We came up with a strategy and some ideas around how we, as an Aboriginal organisation – an independent organisation and business in this region – could utilise all of our resources, our contacts in our networks, to support the local community,” she said. In the days, weeks and months that followed, the Koori Mail team helped coordinate food, clothes, counselling and essential items for thousands of flood-affected residents relying on financial support from donations.

To view the ABC News article Success of Koori Mail flood response in Lismore prompts calls for First Nations first responders in full click here.

The Koori Mail’s Naomi Moran says the organisation used all its resources to support the community. Photo: Matt Coble, ABC News.

Pathway to improve services for mob

A new strategy that aims to increase opportunities for ACCOs to deliver culturally appropriate services for Aboriginal children, families and communities has been launched in Fremantle. The 10-year strategy was developed by representatives from 11 ACCOs across the State, Department of Communities and the Department of Finance. It aligns to several Priority Reform Areas and Socio-Economic targets identified within the National Agreement on Closing the Gap and aims to empower Aboriginal children, families and communities to choose their own futures from the foundations provided by ACCOs.

ACCOs hold an important role in delivering culturally secure services to Aboriginal people across WA. They provide a vast range of critical services and support including health, healing, safe homes, housing, education and training, child protection, disability support, justice, and maintaining strong connections to land and culture. As stated by Community Services Minister Simone McGurk: “Aboriginal people across WA have repeatedly told us that to truly change outcomes, Aboriginal communities must lead the way, and that is achieved through community-based and family-led solutions. We are committed to partner with and support ACCOs so that Aboriginal services can serve the unique needs of Aboriginal families alongside Communities ACCOs usually achieve better results, employ a majority of Aboriginal workforce and are the preferred providers by Aboriginal people over mainstream services.”

To read The Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisation (ACCO) Strategy 2022 to 2032: Empowering Aboriginal children, families and communities to choose their own futures from secure and sustained foundations provided by ACCOs visit here.

Research shows Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled art centres play a significant role in supporting the health and wellbeing of older people and people living with dementia. Image source: Dementia Australia.

New health service for Mapoon

The community of Mapoon is preparing to celebrate the opening of a new purpose-built Primary Health Care (PHC) Centre on 23 August 2022. The Thimithi Nhii Primary Health Care Centre will be opened by Apunipima Chairperson and Mapoon Mayor, Aileen Addo, who will cut the ribbon on the new facility in front of elders, community members, the local Health Action Team and local and regional dignitaries who are all invited to come and enjoy the festivities.

“This is fantastic news. We’ve growing in size as a community and there was an increasing need for a PHC Centre to work alongside Queensland Health to match that population growth,” Mrs Addo said. The new facility was made possible thanks to local Traditional Owner group, the Rugapayn Corporation. “We’re extremely grateful to the Rugapayn Corporation for granting us the land to build a much-needed Primary Health Care Centre in Mapoon,” she said.

“What we are seeing with the new PHC Centre in Mapoon is exactly what ‘community control’ is all about. The Centre has been designed by community, it will be staffed and run by community and it will ultimately belong to the community,” said Apunipima CEO Debra Malthouse. Currently Apunipima delivers its health services from the Torres and Cape Hospital and Health Service premises in Mapoon. This arrangement has limited Apunipima’s capacity to increase primary health care services in the community. Community control was always the goal for the community and having a stand-alone centre will give Apunipima the opportunity to respond to community health needs in a way that community want.

To view the Apunipma Cape York Health Council media release Date announced for opening of new Health Care Clinic in Mapoon click here.

Health Worker Daphne De Jersey and Mapoon PHC Manager Debra Jia are excited about the PHC opening and what that means for their growing community. Photos supplied by: Apunipima Cape York Health Council.

Awabakal welcomes babies to Country

“It is important that our babies grow up knowing their identity and connection to country.” That’s the sentiment of Awabakal Ltd CEO Raylene Gordon after the organisation welcomed the next generation of First Nations children into the community at Newcastle City Hall earlier this week. Following a COVID-enforced hiatus, more than 200 families across Newcastle, Lake Macquarie, Raymond Terrace and Maitland are expected to take part in Baby Welcoming Ceremonies this week, which coincide with National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children’s Day on 4 August.

“We have hosted this event since 2015,” Mrs Gordon said. “So, we’re glad to be back after a couple of years due to COVID-19. Our Baby Welcoming Ceremonies relate to the tradition of introducing newborns to the community where the Elders welcome them to the land. This sense of identity and belonging was denied for many of our people for so long. So, our ceremonies are a reminder to our community that you and your babies belong here – and they are loved. We all want to help them grow to be proud, safe and beautiful First Nations people.”

To read the Newcastle Weekly article Awabakal community welcomes babies to Country in full click here.

Awabakal Ltd hosted one its Baby Welcoming Ceremonies at Newcastle City Hall this week. Image source: Newcastle Weekly.

Sector Jobs

Sector Jobs – you can see sector job listings on the NACCHO website here.

Advertising Jobs – to advertise a job vacancy click here to go to the NACCHO website Current job listings webpage. Scroll down to the bottom of the page to find a Post A Job form. You can complete this form with your job vacancy details – it will then be approved for posting and go live on the NACCHO website.

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Harmful impacts of cannabis use among mob

Image in the feature tile in from the ABC News article Cannabis use and psychosis: what is the link and who is at risk? – 25 April 2018.

Harmful impacts of cannabis use among mob

The Alcohol and Other Drugs Knowledge Centre has published a Review of cannabis use among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peopleAuthors of the review note that the health effects of cannabis use may not always be seen as a high priority for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, yet the impact of cannabis use on physical and mental health can have significant consequences. The use of high potency cannabis has increased over the last two decades, with a corresponding increased risk to health. In particular, young people and those who started using cannabis whilst young are at increased risk of experiencing harms to mental health. The increase in harms has been matched by a reduction in the perception that cannabis use is harmful. The use of cannabis with other drugs, especially  tobacco is also concerning and should be an important item on the Aboriginal health agenda.

This latest review says that physical harms to health include effects on the respiratory system, cardiovascular system, an increased risk of cancer, and in-utero effects from maternal use. Harms to mental health include an increased risk of psychotic episodes, depression, anxiety and problems with memory and paying attention. While generalising findings about cannabis use for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people is problematic due to limited data, high rates of cannabis use have been identified and are a cause for concern. The review highlights protective factors that reduce harms from cannabis use and suggests future directions for collaborative culturally secure approaches in addressing cannabis related harms in communities.

The review is part of a suite of knowledge exchange products that includes an infographic summary of the review, a video (below) and a key factsheet ensuring the information reaches a time poor workforce in multiple ways.

Culturally tailored suicide prevention training

Even one suicide is one too many. For the family, friends and community left behind, it is a devastating and often unexpected loss. But talking about suicide can be deeply painful and complex. This issue can be compounded in Indigenous communities, where cultural sensitivity and awareness are fundamental to breaking down barriers and providing support. The University of Wollongong’s MIND the GaP initiative, based at Shoalhaven Campus, has partnered with the South Coast Medical Service Aboriginal Corporation (AMS) to develop and provide culturally tailored suicide prevention training to the region’s Aboriginal communities.

Known as Community Linkers, the project aims to reduce suicide by bridging the gap between at-risk community members and professional services. The project is training Indigenous and non-Indigenous people and organisations providing services to Shoalhaven’s Aboriginal communities in how to recognise at-risk behaviour and help those in need to easily and readily access support services.

To view the University of Wollongong Australia article Community Linkers tackle suicide in Shoalhaven’s Indigenous communities in full click here.

Image source: The University of WA website.

Bagot Elder reflects on end of alcohol bans

At 75, Helen Fejo-Frith’s life resembles a series of David versus Goliath battles against rivals, ranging from corporate giants to former prime ministers. She can recall who lives where in Bagot — the urban Darwin Indigenous community she presides over — with her eyes closed, and anyone causing trouble knows not to do it in her sight. But alcohol remains one of her biggest and oldest adversaries. Despite being banned, liquor still finds its way into the grid of streets that make up Bagot, putting neighbours, elders and children in harm’s way.

While alcohol remains banned in Bagot, liquor has begun flowing into other parts of the NT for the first time in at least 15 years, after intervention-era bans ended this month, when federal legislation quietly expired. NT laws have picked up where the intervention left off, except it has given communities the right to choose if they wanted alcohol to return, providing Indigenous leaders with a seat at the policy-making table. Some say prohibition has never worked, and putting policy control back in Indigenous hands will encourage self-determination and healing after a dark, 15-year chapter. Others are bracing for the territory’s sobering rates of alcohol-related harm to rise even further, due to what they say has been a “hasty” transition.

To view the ABC News article After 15 years of prohibition, the Northern Territory’s intervention-era alcohol bans come to an end in full click here.

A related article Indigenous Australians minister to meet NT chief minister over alcohol ban ending published in The Mandarin today can be accessed here.

Helen Fejo-Frith is the president of Bagot community in urban Darwin. Photo: Jesse Thompson, ABC News.

Healing practices critical in mental healthcare

At the recent Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists Congress, psychiatrist Dr Loyola McLean presented an eloquent keynote highlighting the importance of embodying First Nations’ healing practices in mental healthcare

McLean, an expert in trauma-informed care and attachment, spoke to an Aboriginal paradigm where, instead of connecting stars to sketch constellations, it was the spaces between that were joined to form the whole, an “ecological matrix” where we sought coherence and understanding. Describing herself as a woman with a “stolen story”, due to family disconnection from kin and Country as a result of Stolen laws and practices, she is still on a journey to reconnect, McLean reflected at length on the power of relationships to shape and heal, with “distrust and disgust” corrosive to connection in ways that could become pathological.

To view the First Nations’ healing practices critical for cultural safety in mental healthcare article in Dr Amy Coopes and Alison Barrett’s report on the RANZCP 2022 Congress – ‘stronger bridges, safer harbours’ click here.

Phot:o Nicole Avagliano on Pexels. Image source: Croakey Health Media.

Easing the grief of stillbirth

The Albanese Government is providing a package of $6.8 million in targeted funding to help ease the grief of stillbirth for bereaved women and families. Women and families mourning the death of a baby or infant will receive support through funding of $4.2 million to Red Nose Australia’s Hospital to Home program. A further $2.6 million will be for stillbirth education and awareness initiatives focusing on groups at higher risk of stillbirth, including First Nations women.

More than 2,000 women and families are impacted by stillbirth each year. The Government is delivering Australia’s first National Stillbirth Action and Implementation Plan, which aims to reduce stillbirth rates in Australia by 20% or more by December 2025. Improving holistic bereavement care and community support following stillbirth, and raising awareness and strengthening education, particularly in communities that have a disproportionately high rate of stillbirth, are priorities under the Plan.

To view the Assistant Minister for Health and Aged Care, The Hon Ged Kearney MP’s media release Helping to ease the grief of stillbirth in full click here.

Image source: The Hippocratic Post.

Increasing hospital access for First Nations peoples

Many First Nations people who present to a hospital emergency department leave before they’ve even seen a doctor. Even if they are seen and admitted to hospital, First Nations people are 2.5 times more likely than non-First Nations people to discharge themselves early against medical advice, research from Federation University shows. Dr Aziz Rahman, Associate Professor of Public Health and Research Advisor from the Institute of Health and Wellbeing, says changes are needed in hospitals so that First Nations people feel welcome, safe, understood and able to access full medical care.

The work is ongoing, with an extensive report on emergency departments published in 2020, based on research at three hospitals in Elizabeth, SA; Alice Springs, NT; and Nowra, NSW. “In my experience working in public health in different national and international contexts, and coming from a developing country [Bangladesh], I did not expect there would be differences in terms of access and treatments for First Nations people in Australia,” Dr Rahman says. “Yet there is a clear difference in health outcomes for First Nations people, such as a 10-year difference in life expectancy, so that was a big surprise to me. Why should that happen when they are accessing the same facilities?”

To read the Federation University article Making hospitals more accessible for First Nations peoples in full click here.

Image source: The Medical Journal of Australia.

100s of mob denied adequate medical care

A north Queensland community leader says he is aware of hundreds of First Nations people being denied adequate medical care as an inquiry into three deaths in 2019 continues. A coronial inquest which began Monday is examining the deaths of Betty Booth, Shakaya George and Adele Sandy who were alledgedly denied adequate medical care at Doomadgee Hospital in NW Queensland. The three young Indigenous women had severe rheumatic heart disease and died after seeking treatment at the hospital.

In March the ABC’s Four Corners program reported on the circumstances surrounding the deaths and found that Doomadgee Hospital had a track record of failing to follow basic medical procedures and keep up-to-date records of some patients’ medical history. Waanyi, Garawa and Gangalidda lore man Alec Doomadgee said the treatment of the women showed the health system did not care about the wellbeing of First Nations people. “There have been hundreds turned away, and people have died as well,” he said. “Many people have been beaten down by the system and they give up, a lot of our mob walk away from it. “It happens that I have a big mouth and I never give up – for more than two years I have been telling the story. “This is something we need to address and there are a lot of families out there that have not been able to do that.”

To view the National Indigenous Times article Claim ‘hundreds’ of Indigenous people denied proper medical care amid Queensland hospital deaths probe in full click here.

Photo: Louie Eroglu ACS, Four Corners. Image source: ABC News.

Urban-regional divide affects children

Australia’s affluence can be seen in its cities: trendy coffee shops litter pristine streets against a backdrop of high-rise buildings from Melbourne to Perth. There’s data to back it up; Australia has the twentieth highest GDP per capita in the world, ahead of Japan, the UK and Canada, and boasts the fifth highest quality of life. Affluence is often harder to come by in regional and rural areas. Remote communities frequently lack the access to the services and amenities that urban Australians enjoy, and are generally less prosperous than their urban contemporaries.

Healthcare is more difficult to access in rural and remote areas due to challenges associated with geographic spread, low population density, limited infrastructure, and the higher costs of delivering healthcare outside of cities which are not accounted for in funding models. People living outside major cities are also 1.4 times more likely to experience family violence.

Indigenous Australians have a history of being not only left behind, but also forcibly excluded. Indigenous Australians are more likely to live in rural and remote areas, accounting for 32% of remote and very remote communities compared to less than 2% of major city populations. Indigenous communities have lower life expectancies, poorer health outcomes, lower wages, and face greater barriers to education and employment opportunities than non-Indigenous Australians due to limited access to public services and widespread discrimination. This must change.

To read the Pro Bono Australia article Affluent but unequal: how the urban-regional divide is affecting Australian children in full click here.

Photo: Ben Collins. Image source: ABC 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.

National Pain Week

Chronic pain is arguably Australia, and the world’s, fastest-growing medical condition. 1 in 5 Australians live with chronic pain – including adolescents and children. This includes 1 in 3 people over the age of 65. 1 in 5 GP consultations involve a patient with chronic pain and almost 5% report severe, disabling chronic pain. The prevalence of chronic pain is projected to increase as Australia’s population ages – from around 3.2 million in 2007 to 5 million by 2050.

While there is limited data available on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’s experience of chronic pain, lower socio-economic status and restricted access to effective pain management and other medical treatments increases Indigenous communities’ risk of living with chronic painful conditions.

National Pain Week is an annual awareness event coordinated each year by Chronic Pain Australia. For more information you can access the Chronic Pain Australia website here.

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Pleas for governments to ‘listen’

Image in feature tile is from The Guardian article NT intervention a ‘debacle’ and second attempt should be made, commission told, 22 June 2017. Photo: David McLain, Getty Images, Aurora Creative.

Please for governments to ‘listen’

The intervention rolled into the NT like an unseasonal storm. That’s how some Territorians who lived through the policy – formally named the emergency response – remember its arrival, 15 years ago. John Daly, a remote community resident from Nauiyu, was the Northern Land Council’s chairman at the time, says “I think it was done in a way that was so hurtful. When you look at the intervention, it was based on a report – this wasn’t the response [the authors] wanted from their report. Ten years after allegations of abuse and violence in the Indigenous community of Mutitjulu sparked the NT intervention, locals say very little has been achieved.

“Why basically ride in there and take away the rights of every traditional owner and Aboriginal person?” In north-east Arnhem Land, Djambarrpuyngu clan cultural leader Lapulung Dhamarrandji remembers residents from Milingimbi fleeing to neighbouring homelands and communities out of fear. “To us, it was like there wasn’t any blue skies around us, it was covered with thick grey clouds – when the intervention came, it was like that,” he said. “The fear inside us all, I mean we are parents just like you people you know.”

To view the ABC News article Residents who lived through the NT intervention plead for governments to ‘listen’, 15 years on in full click here.

Miriam Rose Ungunmerr Baumann said there was a failure to listen deeply and hear residents’ solutions. Photo: Felicity James, ABC News.

PAMS Healthcare Hub built for the desert

Through a series of projects in the arid environment of WA predominantly built for Aboriginal communities, Kaunitz and Yeung Architecture has proposed a different approach to working with the beautiful, yet harsh, desert environment. Designing with, not for, remote Aboriginal communities, Kaunitz and Yeung are changing the narrative of remote regional architecture – creating a new vernacular for Australian desert architecture.

While one of their most recent projects, the award winning Puntukurnu Aboriginal Medical Service (PAMS) Healthcare Hub, may be the most prominent of Kaunitz and Yeung’s work, some of their earlier Western Desert projects were fundamental in breaking the architectural tradition already present in Australia’s desert areas. The work of Kaunitz and Yeung has been iterative. Starting with the Wanarn Health Clinic in 2015 which, in David Kaunitz’s words, “smashed the mould of verandah buildings” then the Punmu and Parnngurr clinics in 2018, each project has learned from the previous and the design has evolved.

To view The Property Tribune article Creating architecture for the Australian desert in full click here.

The new PAMS building has been constructed around an internal courtyard which provide shad in summer and shelter from the harsh sun. Image source: The Property Tribune.

Pharmacy trial puts patients in danger

A small Aboriginal community in Far North Queensland, the town has in effect been selected as one of the sites for a radical and potentially dangerous experiment in patient care. That experiment is the Queensland Government’s plan to allow pharmacists to diagnose, prescribe and dispense up to 150 different S4 drugs across 23 medical conditions.

Dr King, a Yued/Whadjuk Noongar man, explains why he fears the worst. I first learnt that Yarrabah would be a site for the North Queensland pharmacy trial back in March. I found out because a journalist sent me those secret, confidential documents that had originally been leaked to Australian Doctor earlier this year. I did not find out because the community was consulted about what was coming— the local council, the ED next door to us, both knew nothing. I was confused, and I was angry.

The government says this trial will allow pharmacists to compensate for GP workforce shortages in North Queensland. If Yarrabah is on the list, then that is nonsense. We have seven FTE GPs, and even in the most difficult parts of the pandemic, we haven’t had shortages. To slap us with this trial with no consultation about what is happening is ludicrous and offensive. It also shows a deep level of ignorance at the highest level of Queensland Health for what actually goes on within communities from a primary health perspective and the vulnerabilities of our patients.

To view the Australian Doctor article Pharmacy prescribing trial: ‘The lives of my patients are in real danger’ in full click here.

Dr Jason King, Gurriny Yealamucka Health Service, Yarrabah, QLD. Image source: Australian Doctor.

Use the NDIS? We want your story

Do you or your family use the NDIS??

We’d like to film your story?!

People from all locations welcome.

Your time will be paid $$.

Please contact Chris Lee by email here or by phoning 02 6246 9352.

Urgent need for more mental health services

More than two in five Australians experience a mental health issue in their lifetime. In 2020–21 more than 3.4 million Australians sought help from a health care professional for their mental health. These sobering statistics are from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) National Study of Mental Health and Wellbeing, with in-depth data from more than 5,500 people aged 16 to 85 years old. The study found that during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, 21.4% of Australians had experienced a mental health disorder in the previous 12 months, with anxiety the most common disorder. Almost half (47.1%) of those who had a mental health disorder in 2020–21 sought support, an increase since the last study in 2007.

Across their entire lifetime around one in six (16.7%) Australians reported having had suicidal thoughts or behaviour, with females (18.7%) having a higher rate than males (14.5%). 38% of Australians were close to someone who has attempted or died by suicide, a tragedy which impacts family, friends and communities.

You can read the media release Major Mental Health Study Released issued by Minister for Health and Aged Care, Mark Butler MP and the Assistant Minister for Rural and Regional Health, Emma McBride MP in full here.

Other organisations also issued media releases in response to the ABC data:

Image source: High Street Medical Clinic.

Change starting for VIC LGBTQI community

From growing up with his ‘foot in two camps’ – queer and Indigenous, to being the voice of the LGBTQI community in Victoria, Victorian Commissioner for LGBTIQ+ Communities Todd Fernando says it’s been an exciting journey. Todd Fernando is the first out queer, Indigenous person to be appointed a commissioner in Australia. For this descendant of Kalarie people from the Wiradjuri nation, growing up with his “foot in two camps” was not an easy task.

“Being a young Wiradjuri person, we were fighting for the recognition of our culture. I had to put my queerness on the back burner and, and really not allow it to overshadow what we were trying to do within the Wiradjuri space,” Fernando said. Fernando grew up in the regional rural town of Condobolin, located on the Lachlan River in central-western NSW. “I was very fortunate to grow up on country and to learn about my culture in a variety of ways with my family. One of the things that I did miss out on was connecting to my culture through my queerness.”

To view the Star Observer article We’re starting to see change, says Todd Fernando Victorian Commissioner for LGBT communities in full click here.

Todd Fernando, Victorian Commissioner for LGBTIQ+ Communities at the opening of the Victorian Pride Centre in July 2021. Photo: Gabriel Jia. Image source: Star Observer.

Better anti-racism training needed

Monash researchers have found medical practitioners are promoting ill health through racist practices with Aboriginal health consumers. Monash academic Petah Atkinson published the findings from her PhD research Aboriginal Health Consumers Experiences of an Aboriginal Health Curriculum Framework in The Australian Indigenous HealthBulletin Journal with co-authors Professor Karen Adams and Professor Marilyn Baird.

The study found unwanted care included three racism themes: 1) The practitioner perpetuating and being unresponsive to racism; 2) Assimilation; and 3) An inability to consider the impacts of settler colonialism. Desired care included four anti-racist themes: 1) Responsiveness to racism and settler colonialism; 2) Advocating within the settler colonial health system; 3) Engaging with the diversity of Aboriginal ways of knowing, being and doing; 4) Lifelong learning and reflection.

In settler colonised countries, medical education is situated in colonist informed health systems. This form of colonisation is characterised by overt racism and contributes to the significant health inequities experienced by Indigenous peoples. Curriculum in these countries includes content relating to Indigenous peoples but doesn’t recognise Aboriginal knowledge as valuable nor consider the Indigenous health consumer’s nuanced lived experience of the delivery of medical care.

To view the Monash University article Better anti-racism training needed for medical practitioners in full click here.

Image source: INSIGHT Into Diversity.

Broaden your horizons with AGPT program

General practice is the perfect career choice for any doctor who enjoys diagnosing and treating a wide range of conditions and building long term relationships with their patients. With GPs at the frontline of primary healthcare during this recent pandemic, there are more opportunities than ever for a rewarding career in general practice – particularly those who choose to train in rural and remote Australia.

The Australian General Practice Training (AGPT) Program

Expressions of interest are open for the 2023 Australian General Practice Training (AG{T) Program (AGPT). The AGPT trains medical registrars in general practice. Registrars who achieve their fellowship through the program can work as GPs anywhere in Australia. Explore our pathway to Fellowship for a visual representation of the suggested steps for your journey.

By expressing interest, the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) will support you will valuable information through the application process.

You can express your interest by visiting the RACGP website 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.

16th National Rural Health Conference

In the lead up to the recent Federal election, the crisis in rural health received considerable media attention. It is well understood that the lack of sufficient health professionals and limited access to healthcare, result in lower life expectancy and higher levels of disease and injury in rural, regional and remote communities compared to metropolitan populations.

“If we are going to make significant inroads into improving access to affordable, high-quality healthcare, we need to bring together the whole rural health sector to learn from others about effective, innovative and tailored, place-based solutions for our rural communities,” said Dr. Gabrielle O’Kane, CEO of the National Rural Health Alliance (the Alliance). To this end, the Alliance will host the 16th National Rural Health Conference from 2-4 August 2022 in Brisbane, Queensland.

To read the National Rural Health Alliance media release 16th National Rural Health Conference from 2–4 August 2022 ‘Bridging social distance; rural health innovating and collaborating’ in full click here.

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: National Diabetes Week 10-16 July

The image in the feature tile is of Professor Louise Maple-Brown (with a patient) who was a Chief Investigator leading a qualitative study, supported by Central Australia Academic Health Science Network (CAASHN) with a Medical Research Future Fund grant to better understand the experiences of Aboriginal youth in Central Australia living with type 2 diabetes. Image source: Australian Health Research Alliance, 16 December 2021.

National Diabetes Week 10-16 July

National Diabetes Week 2022 is on from Sunday 10 July to Saturday 16 July. This year’s awareness week will focus on the emotional health and wellbeing of people living with diabetes.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are almost four times more likely than non-Indigenous Australians to have diabetes or pre-diabetes. Improving the lives of people affected by all types of diabetes and those at risk among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities is a priority for Diabetes Australia. You can view the Diabetes Australia webpage specifically for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people here.

You can also access online e-Learning diabetes modules for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health workers and practitioners on the National Diabetes Services Scheme (NDSS) website here.

SWAMS to extend programs and services

The City of Busselton has announced the South West Aboriginal Medical Service (SWAMS), an ACCHO that provides holistic wrap around services to the Indigenous community in the South West, as the new lease holder for a campsite at Locke Estate in Siesta Park. SWAMS have demonstrated experience in setting up new clinical services, drive, passion and professionalism, across the South West region and across their 35,000sq km footprint.

SWAMS has exciting plans for the campsite and proposes to develop a community hub with family units, dorm buildings, common areas, a caretaker’s residence and a fire pit. SWAMS CEO Lesley Nelson said it proposed to use the campsite as a culturally safe place to deliver social, emotional and physical health programs. “We’re excited for what’s to come, intending to offer a diverse range of services, including youth camps, Elders groups, men’s and women’s groups, cultural immersion and health related programs,” she said.

You can read the Busselton-Dunsborough Mail article City of Busselton partner with South West Aboriginal Medical Service with a lease on Locke Estate in full here.

Representatives from SWAMS Board, CEO Lesley Nelson, SWAMS team and community; along with Busselton City Councillor Anne Ryan, Acting CEO Tony Nottle and City Officers. Image source: Busselton-Dunsborough Mail.

Hearing on NDIS in remote communities

A Disability Royal Commission five-day public hearing on the operation of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) in remote communities began yesterday at the Mparntwe (Alice Springs) Convention Centre. The hearing will explore barriers to accessing the NDIS and disability services faced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with disability in remote and very remote communities.

The recent National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey determined that more than one in ten of the 66,000 First Nations people with profound or severe disability live in remote or very remote locations. The hearing will examine to what extent inaccessibility to services cause or contribute to violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation of Indigenous people with disability. During a previous public hearing, Dr Scott Avery gave evidence that disability in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities was twice as prevalent, more complex and “compressed within a shorter life expectancy” compared to other Australians.

Pat Turner, CEO NACCHO and Lead Convener Coalition of Peaks will be speaking at the public hearing this Thursday alongside representatives from the First Peoples Disability Network (FPDN) and other community-controlled organisations on specific barriers they’ve seen getting in people’s way over and over again when they try to get NDIS disability support.

To view the National Indigenous Times article Disability Royal Commission turns spotlight on Indigenous people in remote communities in full click here.

Disability Royal Commission five-day public hearing on the operation of the NDIS in remote communities. Image source: National Indigenous Times.

Minister Burney on First Nations suicide

The Minister for Indigenous Australians, the Hon Linda Burney MP, has described the Labor Government’s suicide prevention approach, saying it would focus on, “self-determination, respect for First Nations knowledge systems, restoration of culture and First Nations leadership of programs and services.”

In her first major speech about suicide as Minister, Ms Burney told a national webinar audience of mental health leaders, convened by the Centre for Best Practice in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention (CBPATSISP), that the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander suicide rate, “hurts me every time I see it. It hurts all of us. These statistics hurt because they represent people in pain, people we know, families who need to put the pieces of their lives back together.” Indigenous adults die by suicide at twice the rate of other Australians, while for children and teenagers the rate is four times as high.

Ms Burney, a Wiradjuri woman who represents the electorate of Barton in southern Sydney, described her own 2017 loss of her son to suicide, saying he was, “in his 30s and a beautiful young man who found this earth a very difficult and cruel place.” She said suicides were connected to the context of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’s lives. “Too many experience poverty, trauma, marginalisation and discrimination,” she said. “We know we must make progress on all these fronts if we want to see the future First Nations people deserve.”

To view Minister Burney’s media release Minister Burney speaks out about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander suicide in full click here.

How dietitians can make a stronger impact

Diet, nutrition, exercise advice and community programs are as important in rural and metropolitan settings as regional and remote areas, and peer support for health professionals can help deliver better results particularly if resources are limited. A new study from Monash University and Flinders University academics has identified what Australian dietitians and nutritionists need to do to make a stronger impact on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health in the communities they serve.

The study of Australian health workers, published in the Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics (Association of UK Dietitians), looks at how a peer mentoring process, or ‘community of practice’, can support dietitians to work more effectively with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. The majority of dietitians in Australia are non-Aboriginal people, with only 32 individuals of more than 7,500 full members and students self-identifying as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander in 2020, according to Dietitians Australia’s annual report.

To view the Flinders University media release Building peer support for dietitians published yesterday in SCIMEX in full click here.

Nicole Turner, one of only five qualified Aboriginal community nutritionists speaking at the Food Governance Conference 2019, University of Sydney. Image source: Twitter.

UQ academic on incarceration of youth

Lorelle Holland describes herself as a disruptor. The proud Mandandanji woman and University of Queensland (UQ) PhD candidate is relatively new to academia but is already making her mark. Last month, prestigious medical journal The Lancet Child and Adolescent Health published a commentary piece written by Mrs Holland and her PhD supervisory team from the UQ school of Public Health on the incarceration rates of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children.

It is a topic Mrs Holland cannot discuss without getting emotional. “It’s a national crisis,” Mrs Holland said. “These vulnerable, marginalised children are in youth detention at a rate 17 times higher than all other ethnicities combined – during a critical period of child development. How people cannot be outraged by this escapes me.”

Her paper called for a community-led response to the issue and for Australian policy to conform to UN guidelines to raise the age of criminal responsibility from 10 years to 14 years.

You can read the University of Queensland UQ News article From nurse to UQ academic: A journey to create change for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in full here.

Lorelle Holland, above right, in the NT with colleague Antonella Martin. Image source: UQ News.

Deadly Vision Centre CTG on eye health

Shaun Tatipata, the founding Director of Australia’s first Aboriginal-owned optical and eye care provider, Deadly Vision Centre, has a strong vision for the future of Indigenous eye health. The goal of the business is to contribute to closing the gap in eye health for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians by providing access to culturally safe and socially responsive eye care.

Mr Tatipata, who is of Wuthathi and Ngarrindjeri descent, has gained extensive experience in delivering primary health care and designing and implementing outreach programs in Indigenous communities. He is passionate about ensuring that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are able to access eye care services that are delivered to them by their community.

You can read the mivison (The Ophthalmic Journal) article Celebrating Founder of Deadly Vision Centre in full here and listen to an Shaun Tatipata in conversation with Karl Briscoe about Indigenous eye health below.

First Nations member sought for AMC

The Australian Medical Council Ltd (AMC) is currently seeking applications for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, who has experience in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health issues, position on Council.

You can view the EOI notice, providing additional information on the selection process here. Further information and the nomination form are available through the AMC website here.

The application deadline is Friday 19 August 2022.

New process for job advertising

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: COVID-19 antiviral eligibility expanded

Image in feature tile is from today’s ABC News COVID-19 antiviral treatments to become available to more Australians article. Photo source: Pfizer via AAP.

COVID-19 antiviral eligibility expanded

From today, more Australians will be eligible for COVID-19 antiviral drugs in an attempt to reduce the number of people in hospital. Health Minister Mark Butler said he was hopeful expanding the eligibility would help ease pressure on hospital systems. “COVID cases and hospitalisation numbers are climbing, particularly with the new variants,” he said.

Under the current rules, the drugs are restricted to Australians who are 65 years or older with particular risk factors, but from today any Australian who tests positive to COVID-19 and is over the age of 70 will be able to access antivirals on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS). Known as Lagevrio and Paxlovid, the drugs cost about $1,000 but because they are on the PBS they are reduced to $6.80 for a concession card holder. People aged over 50 with at least two risk factors that could lead to severe disease, as well as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander people aged 30 and older with at least two risk factors will also be eligible.

A broader range of chronic respiratory conditions have been added to the risk factors list. They include moderate or severe asthma, coronary artery disease, cardiomyopathy, demyelinating conditions and renal impairment. Risk factors already on the list and that will remain include neurological conditions, such as stroke and dementia, cirrhosis, kidney failure, obesity, diabetes type one or two, and anyone who lives in remote areas and doesn’t have access to higher level healthcare.

To view the ABC News article COVID-19 antiviral treatments to become available to more Australians in full click here.

Paxlovid will be one of the antivirals available to more Australians under the scheme. Photo: AAP. Image source: ABC News.

Winnunga health service comes a long way

From its humble beginnings as a temporary medical service set up at the Aboriginal Tent Embassy site, Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health and Community Services (Winnunga) has grown into an important part of the health services provided to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the national capital. WNAH&CS have recently moved into a new, purpose-built facility in Narrabundah, enabling the service to do more. 

Julie Tongs’ vision as CEO, a role she has held since 1997, has always been for Winnunga to be a leader in the provision of primary health care. “All Winnunga wants to do is give people an opportunity to be better, to feel good about themselves, and to start to work through some of the layers of trauma that Aboriginal people have experienced,” Tongs says.

Winnunga was established in 1988 by local Aboriginal people inspired by the national mobilisation of people around the opening of the new Parliament House in May and the visit by the Queen.  Since then it has grown into a pivotal healthcare service, which last year saw some 7,000 clients. Providing around 60,000 occasions of service to its clients annually, Managed by the local Aboriginal community, Winnunga takes a “holistic” approach to health care offering clinical and medical services, and social health programs.

To view the Canberra  City News article Winnunga health service comes a long way from the Tent Embassy in full click here.

Outside the new health centre in Narrabundah… “We managed the project, built it on time and on budget, without any government involvement apart from the funding,” says Julie Tongs. Photo: Holly Treadaway. Image source: Canberra City News.

Changing First Nations birth narrative

Shanara Fourmile wakes with a small pain under her belly. It’s seven in the morning and the sun is pouring through the window of her home in the Aboriginal community of Yarrabah. As she opens her eyes, her water breaks. Shanara, an Irukandji woman from far-north Queensland, knows the baby is coming.

She texts her sister, who calls an ambulance. Yarrabah women are directed to birth in Cairns Hospital — an hour’s drive through rainforest, winding coastline and cane paddocks. Shanara knows she won’t make it so she’s taken to Yarrabah’s small emergency department. It doesn’t have a permanent obstetrician. There’s no anaesthetist or resourcing for an emergency caesarean. No access to epidural or equipment to resuscitate a newborn if the baby is struggling to breathe. And no blood bank in case women haemorrhage after birth.

Kaurna and Narungga woman Tayla Smith, Yarrabah’s first Indigenous midwife who works at Gurriny Yealamucka Aboriginal-controlled Health Services says women some women wait until it’s too late to go to Cairns as they want to have their baby on Gunggandji Country. Local health workers call these women “the naughty mummies” of Yarrabah. While there are benefits for having the baby close to home, in Yarrabah it comes with serious risks. The clinic is just not set up to deliver babies. And if there are complications during the delivery, the consequences could be dire.

To read the ABC News article Meet the Black matriarchs changing the narrative of First Nations births in full click here.

Irukandji woman Shanara Fourmile gave birth to her baby girl Keilani in Yarrabah’s small emergency department in June. Photo: Kristy Sexton-McGrath, ABC RN.

NT mob worse GI cancer survival rate

Survival rates for gastrointestinal (GI) cancer among Northern Territorians have improved in the past 30 years but Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples living in the Territory still have worse survival outcomes, a new analysis has found. “We need a concerted effort aimed at investigating the existence of modifiable sociodemographic factors underlying these disturbing trends,” Savio Barreto, Study Senior Author and Associate Professor, General Surgeon, Flinders Medical Centre and Researcher, Flinders University

“There is a need to enhance preventative strategies, as well as to improve the delivery of cancer care and its uptake amongst Indigenous peoples.”

The study, published in the journal Cancers, reviewed data from the NT’s Cancer Registry between 1990 and 2017, looking at adenocarcinomas of the oesophagus, stomach, small intestine, colon, rectum and pancreas, which are collectively known as GI cancers.

To read the News Medical Life Sciences article GI cancer survival rates improving among Northern Territorians except for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in full click here.

Image sources: News Medical Alert, heal+h plus.

Palm Is receives grant for youth program

Palm Island youth who have disengaged from the formal education system are the target of program to be delivered by the Palm Island Community Company in partnership with the state government. The Bwgcolman Youth Program will support local 13-to-17-year-olds by linking them with training, education and employment opportunities.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships Minister Craig Crawford said the project was one of five locally led initiatives across the State, totalling more than $1 million, to improve community social health. “The Social and Emotional Wellbeing Program supports Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities to improve mental health, emotional wellbeing, and social outcomes,” Mr Crawford said. “It will also respond to substance misuse, and reduce rates of suicide in their communities,” he said.

“Like other Local Thriving Communities initiatives, the Program supports First Nations peoples to make decisions about their own future, build on their strengths, invest in things that will make their communities stronger, and make an enduring difference to people’s lives.

To read The National Tribune article Palm Island Community Company secures $235,000 Queensland Government grant to develop youth training program in full click here.

Queensland Maroons legends visiting Palm Island youth. Photo: Siobhan Heanue, ABC North Queensland.

Docker River aged care facility upgrade

Culturally safe aged care sites and face-to-face support for older First Nations people are being invested into by the Australian Government. The programs are anticipated to cost a combined $221 million and will be delivered over four years.

Assistant Minister for Indigenous Australians, Malarndirri McCarthy, said First Nations communities experience many barriers when accessing aged care services. “Lack of culturally safe care, a complex system, ongoing trauma, and social and economic disadvantages all contribute to older First Nations people accessing aged care services at a rate lower than needed,” she said. “The government is committed to delivering aged care and health services that meet the needs of our Elders and enables them to remain close to their homes and connected to their communities.”

Four National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Flexible Aged Care (NATSIFAC) services in SA, the NT and Queensland will receive funding to construct culturally safe, purpose-built facilities. Among them will be the rebuilding of Kaltukatjara’s Tjilpi Pampaku Ngura Flexible Aged Care, which which will provide care for First Nations peoples at Docker River.

Australian Regional and Remote Community Services (ARRCS) general manager, Wendy Hubbard, said the location for the rebuild will be close to the existing Tjilpi Pampaku Ngura Flexible Aged Care service. “That means our residents can stay where they are at Tjilpi Pampaku Ngura Flexible Aged Care and we can continue providing services without disruption, and watch our vision come to life,” she said.

Better mental health for Minjerribah youth

Better mental health and life outcomes for young people on Minjerribah (North Stradbroke Island) is the target of the Yulu-Burri-Ba Aboriginal Corporation for Community Health in partnership with the Queensland state government. The North Stradbroke Island Indigenous Youth Social and Emotional Wellbeing Program will facilitate after-hours activities and yarning circles with Elders, offer counselling sessions and specialist services, and provide a safe place for young people to go when feeling overwhelmed.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships Minister Craig Crawford said the project was one of five locally led initiatives across the State, totalling more than $1 million, to improve community social health. “The Social and Emotional Wellbeing Program supports Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities to improve mental health, emotional wellbeing, and social outcomes,” Mr Crawford said. “it will respond to substance misuse, and reduce rates of suicide in their communities,” he said. “Like other Local Thriving Communities initiatives, the Program supports First Nations peoples to make decisions about their own future, build on their strengths, invest in things that will make their communities stronger, and make an enduring difference to people’s lives.”

To view the Queensland Government media release Yulu-Burri-Ba Corporation secures $235,000 Queensland Government grant to improve mental health for Minjerribah youth in full click here.

Image sources: logo from Yulu-Burri-Ba Aboriginal Corporation for Community Health website, ORIC.

Ex-NRL star tackles mental health challenges

Owen Craigie was a teenage Rugby League prodigy. The only player to make the Australian Schoolboys team three years straight. While blitzing at schoolboy level, Craigie signed his first professional rugby league contract with Newcastle Knights in the early 1990’s, when he was just 17, and bought a house.

After leaving the club two years later, he had stints at the Wests Tigers, the Rabbitohs and Widnes in the English Super League. When he retired in 2005, things got tough. Craigie has previously spoken of how he turned to drugs, alcohol and gambling, and said he lost an estimated $2 million to his addiction. And three years ago, he said he entered the darkest phase of his life. Craigie went through rehabilitation, and says he’s now been able to recover.

“I am a different person than I was three years ago … I see my kids now. Life’s good. I am working on a couple of businesses.” Craigie said his biggest achievement over the past three years is that he has “found himself”. “I have mates that couldn’t,” said Cragie, who’s now determined to help those in the community who face similar challenges. He has just opened a gym; his charity, the Big OC Foundation, and his Chase the Energy initiative both aim to help people who’re battling addictions and mental health challenges. “I am passionate about [helping people] because I want to help the next Owen Craigie.”

To read the SBS NITV article How former NRL star Owen Craigie turned hardship into happiness in full click here.

Owen Craigie’s Chase the Energy initiative aims to help people battling additions and mental health challenges. Image source: SBS NITV.

New process for job advertising

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: NACCHO CEO on ABC’s The Drum

Image in feature tile from The Conversation, 17 June 2022.

NACCHO CEO on ABC’s The Drum

Last night NACCHO CEO Pat Turner was a guest on the ABC’s The Drum where she commented on range of topics including the need to accurately calculate the economic and health impacts of climate change and on how the detention system in Australia is completely broken. Ms Turner said Australian governments have been very bad at collecting nationally consistent data that can be used to compare data about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people between jurisdictions. This data, Ms Turner said, is very important to accurately measure progress in Closing the Gap targets.

You can watch last night’s episode of the ABC’s The Drum here.

GAMS NAIDOC celebration biggest ever

Griffith Aboriginal Medical Service’s (GAMS) annual NAIDOC celebration saw a record number of stalls, activities and services gather at the Community Gardens to share in the culture and celebration. Reptile demonstrations, rides and food mingled in with stalls promoting financial wellness, physical health programs and merchandise.

Rebecca King from the GAMS was offering ‘health check passports’ – a list of tasks to complete and stalls to visit at the celebration including a blood pressure check and advice on healthy living to be rewarded with a shirt giveaway. Ms King said that the turnout had been really great. “It’s hugely important to celebrate, and you can get the health check done at the same time.”

Vickie-Louise Simpson, GAM’s family wellbeing coordinator and regional alcohol and other drugs co-ordinator, said that coming back after COVID-19 had led to a few busy weeks. “We ran out of food three times and have had to send people out,” she said. “It’s good to see so many people, all the smiles.” While the NAIDOC celebration has been happening annually for 15 years, this was the first year it had been held at the Community Gardens. “It’s been hectic, we’re really pleased.”

To view the The Area News article Griffith Aboriginal Medical Service’s annual NAIDOC celebration was the biggest and best it’s ever been click here.

Aunty Gloria Goolagong said that it had been a great day out that she wasn’t expecting. Photo: Cai Holroyd. Image source: The Area News.

Successful pharmacist scholarship recipients

In April 2022, NACCHO was pleased to announce the five successful recipients of the inaugural NACCHO Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Pharmacist Scholarship, proudly supported by a grant from Sanofi Australia. The scholarship aims to build the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander pharmacist workforce and includes tailored mentoring from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health leaders.  The successful recipients are: Jason Coleman; Jai-ann Eastaughffe; Louise Emery; Bryony Forrest; and James Sowter.

Bryony Forrest (Darumbal / Kanolu) said, “I have always had a passion for pharmacy from when I started as a pharmacy assistant in 2018, which only deepened as time went on and I gained more experience in this field. Connecting with my community is extremely important to me and forming these meaningful connections with individuals in the context of health showed me how powerful being a Pharmacist is, and what a unique opportunity it holds for health interventions and long term health solutions in improving the lives of others. I look forward to practicing as a Pharmacist and making a difference for other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.”

Another scholarship recipient, James Sowter said, “I have worked full time as a pharmacy assistant for the past 5 years. I have enjoyed working in the field and look forward to the challenge of becoming a pharmacist. I am incredibly grateful for this scholarship as it has helped in allowing me to pay for essential university items without the strain of financial struggle, over what will be a lengthy educational journey. NAIDOC week is very special to me as it celebrates and acknowledges nationally the rich history and culture of the nation’s first people which I am very proud to be a part of.” 

Scholarship recipients Bryony Forrest and James Sowter.

Sepsis Clinical Care Standard launched

Each year more than 8,700 Australians die from sepsis, a condition that is triggered by an infection and can turn into a deadly disease if undetected. Sepsis is the body’s extreme response to an infection, causing damage to its own tissues and organs. It affects more than 55,000 Australians of all ages every year. Many of these people are normally healthy, but those who survive sepsis often experience prolonged after-effects or will have a lifelong disability. Sepsis also has a tangible impact on our healthcare system, with $700 million in direct hospital costs, and indirect costs of more than $4 billion each year.

The National Sepsis Program is being implemented to halt the devastating impact of sepsis on Australian patients and their families. The Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care (the Commission) has released the

NACCHO was involved in the development of the new national Sepsis Clinical Care Standard, (one of the 8 components of the National Sepsis Program) and associated resources, recently released by the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care (the Commission) in partnership with The George Institute for Global Health.

A campaign webpage including a video webcast; content for newsletters and social media; infographics and images; Sepsis Clinical Care Standard fact sheets and other useful resources and links can be accessed here.

You can also read a a case study available here in which Dr Lorraine Anderson, Medical Director at the Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Services (KAMS) in WA, explains why managing patients with sepsis in a remote community is high stakes – and how the national Sepsis Clinical Care Standard will help.

Image source: Australian Sepsis Network.

Canteen here to support youth with cancer

For all cancers combined, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are more likely to be diagnosed with and die from, cancers than non-Indigenous Australians. Whilst there is a lot of work and research going on in this space, young people can fall out of focus.

Canteen, the only organisation in Australia that supports young people aged 12-25 through a cancer diagnosis, is working to address this gap. Their mission is to be in the corner of every young person when cancer impacts their world. Canteen offers a wide range of services including counselling support, an online community to connect with peers, parent support services and an education and career support program.

The key purpose and core outcomes of all Canteen programs are new and/or stronger supportive relationships with other young people developed, reduced sense of isolation, quality respite and recreation experienced, and development of practical skills and/or effective coping strategies.

Canteen wants to work in partnership with the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth leaders, and their families and communities affected by cancer, to improve health outcomes, both physical, mental and emotional. Their Young Adult Reconciliation Network (YARN) is one of Canteen’s initiatives to ensure that the voices of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people are at the heart of service delivery and can influence Canteen’s work within First Nations communities.

For further information about Canteen you can access their website using this link.

Jasmine Sarin, a proud Kamilaroi and Jerrinja woman, artist and graphic designer leads YARN, Canteen Australia’s First Nations Youth Leadership Group.

Raise the Rate for Good campaign survey

The Australian Council of Social Services (ACOSS) are running a campaign to Raise the Rate for Good. The goal of the  campaign is to fix our social security safety net for good so that it keeps people out of poverty, with an income of at least $70 a day.

If you’ve opened a newspaper in the last few weeks, you’ve probably been inundated with stories about the increased cost of living. Around the country, we’re seeing increases in the cost of everything from groceries to gas and electricity. People on income support will be hit hardest by these price increases, but those stories aren’t getting nearly enough media coverage.  Everyone should have enough to cover the essentials, like medicines, food, bills, and to keep a roof over your head. Income support payments were not enough to cover the cost of the basics even before the cost of living skyrocketed. Many are forced to make heartbreaking decisions between eating or keeping their heating on. These stories need to be heard and should be at the centre of the conversation about measures to ease the cost-of-living crisis.

That’s why ACOSS have created a ‘cost of living’ survey to capture data on the experiences of people on income support  so they can make sure the media and politicians understand how tough it is for people living on income support.

If you’re currently on JobSeeker, Youth Allowance, Parenting Payment single, Disability Support Pension, Aged Pension, Carer Payment or other income support, can you take our survey? ACOSS has had a great response from the community with over 400 people already taking part, but the survey closes Sunday 10 July 2022 and they need your help to reach 600 responses. If you are currently struggling to get by on income support payments, please take 5 minutes to fill in the survey so ensure your experiences are heard and also share the survey with others.

You can click this link to take the survey.

QLD UTI decision will ‘endanger patients’

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) has warned that extending the UTI pharmacy prescribing pilot sets a terrible precedent for patient safety and wellbeing. It follows the Queensland Government permanently extending the controversial pilot, which allows pharmacists to prescribe antibiotics for urinary tract infections or UTIs. To help justify the decision the Government has recently pointed to a 118-page evaluation report, which was reported on by The Australian earlier this year. The RACGP has repeatedly raised strong concerns about this pilot. RACGP Vice President Dr Bruce Willett said that the permanent extension of the pilot would endanger patients for years to come.

To view the RACGP media release Permanent extension of pharmacy prescribing pilot a recipe for disaster in full click here.

AMA QLD has also issued a media release saying the Queensland Government has made a bad decision for Queensland women’s health by allowing pharmacists to diagnose UTIs and sell antibiotics without a doctor’s prescription. “Every medical group in Queensland opposes this plan. The Commonwealth opposes this plan. The Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (PSA), which represents pharmacists not pharmacy owners, opposes this plan,” AMA Queensland President Dr Maria Boulton said. “Health Minister Yvette D’Ath says this decision was based on an evaluation report of a pilot program that began in 2020. In fact, the evaluation report shows that 65% of women who took part in the pilot were never followed up with. Of those who were contacted, more than 300 said they had sought further assessment and treatment. Four ended up in emergency departments.”

To view the AMA QLD media release UTI decision bad for women’s health in full click here.

Image source: RACGP newsGP.

Comprehensive adoption of UNDRIP needed

The Law Council of Australia is calling on governments to comprehensively adopt the United Nations Declaration on Rights of Indigenous People (UNDRIP) in order to protect the human rights of First Nations Peoples. In a submission to the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs References Committee’s Inquiry into the Application of UNDRIP in Australia, the Law Council said that to date the protections offered by the Declaration have only been implemented domestically in a piecemeal manner. “The UNDRIP is the authoritative international standard informing the way governments across the globe should engage with and protect the rights of Indigenous peoples,” Law Council of Australia President, Mr Tass Liveris said.

To view the Law Council of Australia’s media release Australia must formally adopt UN Declaration on Rights of Indigenous People in full click here.

Image source: Land Portal.

Antimicrobial program applications open

Antibiotics to treat infections are the most commonly prescribed medicine in remote Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. This high level of prescription is needed to treat the common, serious infections that are well reported in the north. However, the downside to antibiotic prescribing, is that bacteria may develop mechanisms that stop the antibiotic from working. This is called antibiotic resistance and is a really big problem in remote Australia.

Be at the forefront to help national efforts address antimicrobial use and resistance for remote living Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians by applying now, or nominating your Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander health care workers (pharmacists, doctors, nurses or Aboriginal Health Practitioners) to join the Antimicrobial Academy where they will develop skills in antibiotic use, audit, stewardship, surveillance, and resistance. A five-month program starts in August and runs till December 2022. Sessions will be held fortnightly on Zoom. Participants will receive a certificate upon completion.

You can access more information about the program on the NACCHO website here and download the program here.

Applications are due by midnight, Wednesday 13 July 2022.

Young Leaders Forum scholarships available

ACOSS is once again offering a number of scholarships to McKinsey & Companys pre-eminent leadership programs to ACOSS National Members. Applications are now open for scholarships to the Young Leaders Forum (YLF). The YLF is a foundational leadership program designed to accelerate the development of rising leaders with 7-12 years of work experience.

Participants are typically making the transition into people leader roles and ‘stepping up’ to take on greater degrees of responsibility for driving business unit strategy and execution. Given the aspiration of YLF to reach and include a diverse group of leaders from organisations across the region, and the highly impactful online experience developed over the last two years, YLF will remain a virtual program in 2022 . The program will run from 25-28 October 2022.

If you wish to take up this opportunity and nominate candidates for the Mckinsey Young Leaders Program, please use this link to send the documents listed below by COB Wednesday 13 July 2022.

  • A brief cover letter (or email) from a member of your organisations executive leadership team outlining the reasons for nominating the candidate; and
  • a CV or bio of the nominated person.

New process for job advertising

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Cervical screening self-collection now an option

Image in feature tile from Cancer SA.

Cervical screening self-collection now an option

As of last Friday 1 July 2022, anyone eligible for a Cervical Screening Test under the National Cervical Screening Program (NCSP) (i.e. women and people with a cervix aged 25-74 years who have ever had any sexual contact) will have the choice to screen either through self-collection of a vaginal sample using a simple swab or clinician-collection of a sample from the cervix using a speculum.

The Hon Ged Kearney MP, Assistant Minister for Health and Aged Care says the launch of self-collection for cervical screening is a game changer in the fight to eliminate cervical cancer.

You can access an information sheet with the title National Cervical Screening Program launch of self-collection eligibility expansion, including the following headings listed below, here.

  • Where to get more information
  • What you can do
  • Key messages for healthcare providers and laboratories
    • availability and procession of self-collected vaginal samples
    • important considerations
    • broad awareness of pathway changes
  • Want to know more or have any questions?
In addition, you can watch a video (screenshot below) of Minister Kearney, who is also a nurse, on the launch of self-collection including who can access self-collection, where you can access it and how to do it, using this link.

Screenshot of Australian Government Department of Health and Aged Care video on Facebook about the launch of the self-collection cervical screening.

ACCHOs celebrating NAIDOC Week 2022

National NAIDOC Week celebrations are being held across Australia this week to celebrate and recognise the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

NAIDOC Week 2022’s theme Get Up, Stand Up and Show Up with pride and respect for your culture is something Aboriginal leader Lizzie Adams, CEO of  Goolburri Aboriginal Health in Toowoomba, wants to scream from the roof tops.

“When I was born, I wasn’t even registered as a human being. I was born as flora and fauna,” she said. “In the march, other people see us doing this, and it’s us doing it in a way that our ancestors would like us to do it. “Be proud, be energetic and get our message across that we’re here and we’re here to stay.”

To view the Chronicle article NAIDOC WEEK: untied effort in working for change click here.

Lizzie Adams in the NAIDOC Week march in Toowoomba. Monday, 4 July 2022. Photo: Nev Madsen. Image source: The Chronicle.

Ungooroo Aboriginal CEO Taasha Layer said NAIDOC Week is an opportunity for all Australians to learn about First Nations cultures and histories and participate in celebrations of the oldest, continuous living cultures on earth.

“The theme for NAIDOC Week this year  Get Up, Stand Up, and Show Up can take many forms. It might be pushing for systemic change to help Close the Gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians, it might be calling out racism or working to improve access to health and social services, individuals and organisations all have a part to play,” explained Ms Layer.

Ms Layer said “The recent Ungooroo Health & Wellbeing Community Expo at Singleton Centre attracted hundreds of visitors and showcased a range of Ungooroo services and local organisations who work with Indigenous communities to improve health, social, education and employment outcomes. Our Community Expo is the perfect example of how we can work together to improve the lives of Indigenous communities and help people learn more about Aboriginal culture and tradition.”

To view the Hunter Valley News article NAIDOC WEEK: untied effort in working for change in full click here.

The Ungooroo Health & Wellbeing Community Expo at Singleton Centre attracted hundreds of visitors and showcased a range of Ungooroo services. Image source: Hunter Valley News.

Elders play critical community health role

In many parts of Australia – where a recent royal commission revealed a broken aged care system – we could do better with the way we treat our elders. So is there something to be learned from the cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people — cultures where where eldership is highly respected?

Worimi man Paul Callaghan says there is. He knows first-hand the essential role Elders play in their communities. His Elders gave him “solace and support” when he endured racism growing up in Karuah on the NSW coast, and urged Callaghan to continue his education when he felt like quitting. “They have always encouraged me to bridge two worlds,” he says.

Research shows eldership is critical to creating healthy Indigenous communities. A 2017 study identified the pivotal role Elders play in critical Indigenous issues such as health, education, unemployment and racism. “By empowering Elders with the support necessary to address issues in their communities, we can make a positive step in helping close the gap and transferring sacred spiritual knowledge,” said Dr Lucy Busija, one of the study authors.

You can read the ABC article What Indigenous culture can teach us about respecting our elders in full here.

Elders teaching culture to children. Image source: Katherine Times.

Racism barrier to healthcare participation

Challenging how health services might better meet the needs of Aboriginal people was the focus of NAIDOC Week activities at The Alfred this week Addressing a roomful of staff, the Commissioner for LGBTIQ+ Communities and descendant of the Kalarie peoples of the Wiradjuri nation, Todd Fernando, said within a decade we will weed out homophobia, biphobia and transphobia in Victoria.

“We will not achieve the same for racism. And that’s because of how the system is set up,” Mr Fernando said. Asking the audience to consider what changes they could make within their own work areas, Mr Fernando said that systemic and historical factors impact how Aboriginal people participate in health and that dismantling these barriers must become a priority. “We need to look at how services support Aboriginal people, particularly those from the LGBTIQ+ community, rather than contribute to feelings of marginalisation and isolation.”

To view the Alfred Health article Special guests call for change click here.

Antivirals key to fight next COVID-19 wave

The Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (PSA) National President Dr Fei Sim is calling on governments to do more to protect the community and prepare for an increasing number of COVID-19 infections and hospitalisations by improving access to antiviral medicines.

Dr Sim says that governments – at both state/territory and federal levels – must take a pragmatic approach to ensure high-risk patients have timely access to antivirals, to avoid the shortages and last-minute policy-making that Australia saw with the rollouts of COVID-19 vaccines and Rapid Antigen Tests. “We cannot sit and wait for infections and hospitalisations to rise further – governments must act now. Timely access to antivirals is critical to reduce the severity of COVID-19 infection and limiting complications.”

To view the PSA media release Access to antivirals key to tackling next COVID-19 wave click here.

Image source: NPS MedicineWise.

Brisbane leaders keeping culture alive

From learning the traditional name of your suburb, to joining in the fight for Indigenous rights and constitutional recognition, there are steps you can take to be an Indigenous ally this NAIDOC Week and beyond. Seven of Brisbane’s Indigenous leaders have explained how they are keeping their culture alive and how the whole country can help them.

One of the leaders, Dharumbal and South Sea Islander Jacob McQuire, a National Indigenous Radio Service and ABC journalist, said “These days I’ve been doing all that I can to be a healthier and better blackfulla for my family, my mob and my community. I’ve had struggles for a long time now with my mental health and making better choices around my health more generally. This year I’ve made it a goal of mine to improve myself so I can be stronger and better for the mob around me. There’s no keeping my culture alive if I’m not alive.”

When asked about whether he sees a shift toward non-Indigenous Australians wanting to respect and learn about Indigenous culture, Mr McQuire said, ” I think whatever change we see now is a part of a much longer, gradual shift, and that shift is the result of years of fighting and advocacy on the part of mob to make this place more hospitable for blackfullas. With that being said, wanting to learn and respect our culture is much different than wanting to fight with us and help dismantle racism and the institutions which uphold it in this country.”

To view the ABC article NAIDOC Week 2022: How Brisbane Indigenous leaders keep culture alive and how you can help click here.

Jacob McQuire, National Indigenous Radio Service and ABC journalist. Image source: ABC News.

Importance of cancer support for mob

This year’s NAIDOC Week theme Get Up! Stand Up! Show Up! promotes a systemic change to close the health inequities Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people still face today. Cancer Council Queensland and BuAkoko Mabo (Bua/ Benny Mabo Jr), third-generation Mabo, are working together to encourage Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who are impacted by a cancer diagnosis to access Cancer Council Queensland’s various support services.

Benny, a professional translator and advocate for the preservation of the Torres Strait Island Meriba culture, was diagnosed with oesophageal and tonsil cancer in November last year, and subsequently underwent chemotherapy and radiation. Recently, Benny stayed at Cancer Council Queensland’s Gluyas Rotary Lodge in Townsville and took advantage of their Transport to Treatment service. He has been known to ‘light up the room’ and never turns down the opportunity for a chat with friends and strangers.

Cancer Council Queensland General Manager, Cancer Support and Information, Gemma Lock, said  “In 2021, our accommodation lodges provided 17,823 nights of accommodation and our Transport to Treatment services travelled over 195,676 kms to connect cancer patients and their carers to the support they needed. Patients like Benny often need to travel from regional and remote areas to access vital cancer treatment that they wouldn’t otherwise receive. The lodges provide support to those who need to travel for cancer treatment, offering practical services like transport to treatment.”

To view the Senior AU article Benny shares the importance of cancer support this NAIDOC week in full click here.

Benny Mabo Jr. Image source: Torres Strait Islanders Media, Association, Radio 4MW.

Better childhood disability management

Dr Gaj Panagoda is a paediatric rehabilitation physician and general paediatrician, Gaj who has worked at Queensland Health and Queensland Children’s Hospital for 10 years. Over that time, Gaj began to believe that childhood disability, injury and chronic disease could be better managed through the community rather than a hospital.

“I wanted childhood disability to be better managed in the community and I knew I had to jump out of the public health sector and set up this model of care myself,” he said. “It’s an innovative approach that meets the needs of young patients and their families while utilising their local community for management. Local organisations like schools, sports clubs and allied health therapists in their area are engaged to support the management of the disability to decrease reliance on hospital-based services.”

To deliver the new model of care, Gaj launched ‘Superkid Rehab’, a rehabilitation service aiming to maximise the potential of children and young adults with disabilities, injuries and chronic diseases. In addition to Superkid Rehab, he is now also the Lead Paediatrician at the Institute for Urban Indigenous Health, where the team provides paediatric and disability medical services across 20 Aboriginal health clinics.

To read the MBA News article MBA Student Sets Out to Change Healthcare System and Improve Outcomes for Kids with Disability click here.

Paediatric Disability Specialist and QUT MBA student Dr Gaj Panagoda. Image source: MBA 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.

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: First Nations population continues to grow

Image in feature tile is of Census remote team member using tablet. Image source: ABS image library.

First Nations population continues to grow

The 2021 Census provides an updated snapshot of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) said today. The Census found that 812,728 people (3.2% of the population) identified as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, an increase of over 25% (25.2%) since 2016. Of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people counted, 91.4% identified as Aboriginal, 4.2% identified as Torres Strait Islander, and 4.4% identified as both Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander.

The Census also revealed growing numbers of older Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, with over 47,000 (47,677) aged 65 years and over in 2021, up from 31,000 in 2016 and 21,000 in 2011. The median age for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people increased slightly to 24 years in 2021, up from 23 years in 2016 and 21 years in 2011.

To view the ABS media release 2021 Census finds Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander older population continues to grow in full click here.

Apunipima Men’s Health Summit success

From Monday 13 to Friday 17 June, males from all over the Cape descended on Elim Beach Camp Ground near Hope Vale for a Men’s Health Summit hosted by Apunipima Cape York Health Council’s Social & Emotional Wellbeing (SEWB) team. The event focused squarely on men’s health, with four nights of camping giving the men an opportunity to relax and connect with other men from across the Cape in a remote location free of many of the distractions of regular daily life.

The Summit was attended by men from Mapoon, Napranum, Aurukun, Mossman Gorge and Wujal Wujal. The theme for this year’s Summit was ‘Growing Together as Fathers, Providers and Protectors,’ with guest speakers, discussions and activities centred around men’s business and how to be the best men they can be for their families and for their communities.

The program was structured to present different topics to the men daily to promote conversation throughout the day and into the night. Some of the key themes to come out of the week were, looking after yourself, providing a safe place for men in community, talking about and sharing your problems and being good male role models for both your own kids and others in community.

MC for the week was one of FNQ’s funniest comedians, Sean Choolburra who kept everyone laughing throughout the week. Also speaking throughout the summit was BBM Cairns’ National TalkBlack radio host Trevor Tim, former NRL players Davin Crompton and Brenton Bowen and others including academics, motivational speakers and health industry professionals.

“Men’s health is a topic that often doesn’t get discussed, or gets pushed down the priorities list. We want to change that and hopefully some of the discussions that we’ve had this week will be the foundation for further progress in the men’s health space back in community,” said Summit Project Officer and local Traditional Owner Kurtis Gibson.

To view the Apunipima media release “Growing Together as Fathers, Providers & Protectors” – Apunipima Men’s Health Summit in full click here.

Apunipima Men’s Health Summit team and speakers.

Save money on medicines, register for CTG scripts

As of 1 July 2022, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people must be registered correctly with Services Australia Health Professional Online Services (HPOS) to continue to claim benefits for their medicine scripts, through the Closing the Gap (CTG) Pharmacy Benefits Scheme (PBS) program.

Unfortunately, not all patients who previously received CTG prescriptions were transferred to the new database, resulting in some people paying more for their medicines.

Check with your local doctor or health service today, to help register you as soon as possible to avoid paying full price for medicines from 1 July.

Dr Dawn Casey, Deputy CEO NACCHO said, “We welcome the reforms to the CTG PBS database but are concerned not all eligible patients have been correctly registered. Potentially thousands of patients may have to pay more for medicines on 1st of July, so please check your registration with your pharmacy and doctor now.”

For further information about the CTG PBS program click here.

The Department of Health reminder letter regarding the CTG PBS program can be found here.

Download this poster that you can put up at your services here and images for Facebook/Twitter here and Instagram here.

We urge you to share this information across all your networks.

Get2it bowel cancer campaign launched

The Cancer Council, leaders in cancer prevention and social marketing, has launched the Get2it campaign calling Aussies to screen their number 2s. The Get2it campaign is an integrated mass media drive in partnership with the Australian Government, encouraging all Australians aged 50-74 to Get2it and participate in the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program (NBCSP) when they receive their free test in the mail.

The Get2it campaign, which is funded by the Australian Government, has been informed by extensive research undertaken by Cancer Council’s Centre for Behavioural Research in Cancer (CBRC) which was designed to uncover why only four in ten (43.5%) Australians undertake the bowel screening test every two years. The mass media campaign includes a national media buy across TV, radio, digital and OOH, as well as PR.

In addition, the campaign will also target communities with increased risk of developing bowel cancer and increased barriers to participating in the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program. These include Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communitie, and health care professionals including GPs.

To view the Mumbrella article Cancer Council launches Get2it bowel cancer campaign calling Aussies to screen their number 2s in full click here.

Cherbourg rents frozen for 12 months

Renters in Queensland’s largest Indigenous shire have had their rates frozen for a year as the council helps locals cope with the rising cost of living. The Aboriginal Shire of Cherbourg, a three-hour drive from Brisbane, is also facing a mass influx of former residents returning home in search of affordable and culturally-appropriate housing.

It is contributing to the housing crisis, with 200 people on a waiting list for a home in the town of about 1,200, according to the Cherbourg Aboriginal Council. Elder and past mayor Arnold Murray said there was a growing trend of young people wishing to return to the Cherbourg community from other south-east Queensland regions, including Ipswich, Brisbane and Logan. “They want to come home. This is their home and it’s too expensive out there,” he said.

To view the ABC News article Cherbourg Aboriginal Council freezes rents for 12 months to combat cost of living pressures in full click here.

Former Cherbourg mayor Arnold Murray says many people want to return to the town. Photo: Jenae Jenkins, ABC Wide Bay.

Digital health helps youth with ear disease

Thanks to funding from the Western Australian Future Health Research and Innovation Fund, Ear Science Institute Australia, in collaboration with Curtin University, will address child and youth mental health in WA.bThe partnership will leverage existing digital health technologies to target Aboriginal young people with ear disease and hearing loss to support their mental health and wellbeing.

Lead investigator, Professor Christopher Lawrence, Dean of Indigenous Engagement, Faculty of Science and Engineering at Curtin University, and proud Nyungar (Whadjuk and Ballardong) person, developed the mobile app #thismymob in 2016 when he was based at the University of Technology Sydney. This social and emotional digital health platform allows local communities to discuss and share information relevant to their mob. It is a local resource for important health information and advice.

To view the Curtin University article Digital health technologies to help Aboriginal young people with ear disease in full click here. The below NITV video dates from the first release of the This My Mob app in July 2018,

Indigenous EMCR Award date extended

The Women’s Health Research and Translation Network Indigenous (WHRTN) offers one-off financial support to facilitate career advancement and development for women working in women’s health research and translation.

The 2022 Indigenous Early and Mid-Career Researcher (EMCR) Award is open to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women in the early and mid-career stages of their careers in women’s health research. This Award aims to bolster the career development of women working across the breadth of women’s health research.

You can access further information and an application form here or on the WHRTN website here. You can also email Monash University directly using this email link.

EMCR Awards have been extended to Monday 18 July 2022.

AACAP – 25 years of supporting mob

This year the Australian Army is marking its 25th year of providing support to remote First Nations communities through the Army Aboriginal Community Assistance Programme (AACAP). AACAP is a joint initiative between Army and the National Indigenous Australians Agency (NIAA) which sees Army personnel deployed to a different remote community each year to work on projects that improve health, living and economic conditions specific to that community.

This year, AACAP will be hosted in Gapuwiyak and Baniyala in East Arnhem Land. Army personnel will live and work alongside the community for a five month period to deliver upgrades to infrastructure and services and provide health programs, vocational training and community-based engagement activities.

Among the community-requested projects, the Gapuwiyak community will benefit from a new culture and arts centre co-funded by the NT Government. Chief of Army, Lieutenant General Rick Burr, said Gapuwiyak and Baniyala will be the 48th and 49th communities to benefit from the program since it commenced in Bulla, NT, in 1997. AACAP capitalises on Army’s ability to deliver a range of services that would not normally be available in a single project.

To view the Australian Defence Magazine article AACAP begins 25th year in full click here.

Australian Army and community of Jigalong, WA welcome CO PNGDF Engineer Battalion and team to AACAP 2019. Image source: AACAP Twitter 26 July 2019.

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.