NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Ask your mob, your way, R U OK?

feature tile text 'targeted suicide prevention campaign for ATSI communities - Stronger Together - Ask your mob, your way, R U OK?' yellow font, border black & white Aboriginal body paint

Ask your mob, your way, R U OK?

This week R U OK? has launched “I ask my mob, in my way, are you OK?”, to support ‘Stronger Together’ a targeted suicide prevention campaign for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. The suite of resources for “I ask my mob, in my way, are you OK?” includes culturally appropriate content led by community voices with guidance from the R U OK? Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Advisory Group and in collaboration with the Brisbane Indigenous Media Association.

The campaign encourages people to engage and offer support to their family, friends and colleagues who may be struggling with life. The resources feature engaging and authentic stories that promote a sense of connection, hope and identity.

“The Stronger Together campaign reinforces the power of yarning and “I ask my mob, in my way, are you OK?” is about showing the many ways we can ask, listen, encourage, and check in with our mob,” said Stronger Together Campaign Manager, Mr Stephen Satour. “The most important thing for mob to remember is that you don’t have to be an expert, you just have to be yourself and ask, in your own way, so you look after your mob. The resources give us the opportunity to get conversations started with individuals, organisations, and communities across Australia.” The stories show there are so many ways we can, and already do, have R U OK? conversations.”

“Nationally, Indigenous people die from suicide at twice the rate of non-Indigenous people. We know that starting conversations early can stop little problems growing into big ones. We need our mob to ask the question, their way.” says Dr Vanessa Lee-Ah Mat (BTD, MPH, PhD) is the Chair of the R U OK? Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Advisory Group. “When we launched Stronger Together in 2019 it got conversations started. These new stories from our community will help to keep the conversation going,” said Dr Lee. “Together we can empower our friends, family members, and the wider community to look out for each other as well as provide guidance on what to do if someone answers ‘no, I’m not OK’.”

The FREE Stronger Together community resources, including the Stronger Together video (screenshot below), are available on the R U OK? website here.

To view the media release click here, and to listen to a radio interview with Mr Satour click here.

screen shot from Stronger Together vimeo video, rectangular tile made up of portrait shots of 8 Aboriginal people with text 'stronger together' in the cetre

1,000s invited to join vaccine rollout

Thousands of community pharmacies and additional GPs across Australia will be invited to join the COVID-19 vaccine rollout.

This additional workforce will be brought on board to support pharmacies and GPs already delivering COVID-19 vaccines in cities, regional, rural and remote areas, as well as areas with a COVID-19 outbreak. To date, 118 community pharmacies are currently vaccinating across the country and over 470 community pharmacies will be vaccinating by the end of July 2021.

From Monday, over 3,900 community pharmacies who have expressed interest in joining the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, and who have previously been found suitable, will also be invited to participate.

For further information visit the Department of Health website here.

Torres Strait Islander woman receiving covid-19 vaccine with blurred image of inside of a warehouse in the background

Image source: BBC News.

ACCHO model key to PHC reform?

Wider implementation of a model of care exemplified by ACCHOs may be key to reforming primary healthcare in the bush, says a rural health leader. Dr Gabrielle O’Kane, CEO of the National Rural Health Alliance (NRHA), recently outlined a proposal for a Rural Area Community Care Health Organisations (RACCHO) model of care to ensure greater sustainability and accessibility of primary healthcare in rural Australia.

“[It is] picking up on the ideas of ACCHOs, where we want wrap around services for people living rurally,” O’Kane said. This place-based model of care could employ a range of health practitioners – including GPs, nurses, midwives and psychologists – and would have close links with community pharmacies, infant health centres, dentists, multipurpose centres and hospitals, paramedics, and scope for visiting specialists.

O’Kane discussed the proposal in a recent Consumers Health Forum of Australia (CHF) webinar exploring how the draft recommendations from the Primary Health Reform Steering Group may work on the ground. One the Primary Health Care Reform Steering Group recommendations is for “single primary health care destinations”. This has been the way ACCHOs have been doing things for 50 years, NACCHO’s Dr Dawn Casey told the webinar. “The most important feature [of ACCHOs] is that all of the people working in that particular health service will know all of the patients, whether it’s the receptionist at the front, the nurse, or the GP; they know their patients,” she said. GPs, she said, played an important role in ACCHOs, but so did all other practitioners and staff. There is equal recognition given to health practitioners, nurses, along with GPs, so that has been critical,” Casey said.

To view the Croakey Health Media article Primary health reform: some real-world views in full click here.

Orange AMS nurse Jamie Maney in clinic room with OAMS logo polo, name badge & lanyard

Orange Aboriginal Medical Service nurse Jamie Maney. Image source: NIAA website.

Indigenist Health Humanities for QUT

Indigenous academic Professor Chelsea Watego will join QUT on 26 July 2021, leading a $1.7 million project to develop Indigenist Health Humanities. Professor Watego, who joins QUT from The University of Queensland, said the project was aimed at developing Indigenist Health Humanities as a new and innovative field of enquiry, building an intellectual collective.

The funding was announced under the Federal Government’s ARC Discovery Indigenous scheme for 2021. “We are aiming to bridge the knowledge gap that hinders current efforts to close the gap in Indigenous health inequality,” Professor Watego said. “The project will bring together health and the humanities and will examine how race and racism operate within the health system in producing health disparities experienced by Indigenous peoples.”

She said the potential benefits included a more sustainable, relational, and ethical approach to advancing new knowledge, advancing research careers and advancing health outcomes for Indigenous peoples. The work will include opportunities for artists, academics, and activists to join and to take part in podcasts, writing retreats and public seminars.

To view the full article click here.

Professor Chelsea Watego, QUT, in horizontal striped dress grey navy green with arms folded leaning against wood sculpture wall

Professor Chelsea Watego, QUT. Image source: QUT website.

Inspiring rural Aboriginal health careers

It has been said that a picture is worth a thousand words, which is why the RACGP has decided to run a photo competition to showcase the experiences of members working in rural or remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health. Launched as part of ‘This Rural Life’, a new collaborative project of the college’s Rural and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health faculties, it aims to inspire others to pursue a career in rural general practice by showcasing the diverse work and skills being carried out in communities across Australia.

‘We know that our rural doctors and those working in Indigenous communities have some of the highest levels of professional satisfaction and personal satisfaction in their roles,’ Dr Michael Clements, Chair of RACGP Rural, told newsGP. ‘So we’re hoping that through using the photo competition and using these stories, we can really connect with and engage with the membership to think about taking on some of this work.’

To view this full article click here.

woman holding a camera to her face against dry outback blurred background

Image source: newsGP.

Pandemic’s health workforce impact

Right across Australia the health and medical workforce is stretched thin and fatigued by COVID-19 outbreaks, lockdowns, border restrictions and the vaccine rollout program. Workforce shortages are particularly severe in remote, rural and regional communities, and have highlighted Australia’s longstanding reliance on overseas-trained health professionals.

In WA, the remote communities in the Kimberley rely heavily on a fly-in fly-out workforce of remote area nurses who spend six weeks living and working in Aboriginal communities, then rotate for two weeks’ isolation leave and a week of annual leave. But since COVID-19 arrived in Australia 18 months ago, the nurses – and other health professionals like doctors and Aboriginal Health Workers – have been harder to recruit and retain.

The annual turnover rate of healthcare staff in the five remote communities serviced by Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Services (KAMS) is now 87%, more than double the rate of 35% a year ago. Julia McIntyre, KAMS Executive Manager Workforce, said staff have simply got “isolation fatigue” from having to quarantine for 14 days almost every time they entered WA.

Nurses account for 65% of KAMS workforce in the remote communities of Balgo, Beagle Bay, Bidyadanga, Billiluna and Mulan. Overall, the service employs 290 people and has a footprint across 421,000 square kilometres. Up to 70 staff work in the remote communities. Compounding domestic recruitment problems is the inability to use overseas staff, who make up a significant percentage of KAMS’ workforce. The impact of the staff shortage has resulted in reduced clinic hours, the use of more telehealth, redirection of clinical staff away from working on programs such as smoking cessation, and calls to recruitment agencies in Perth and the NT.

“But we can’t let it affect the vaccine rollout, that’s absolutely our priority,” McIntyre said. “We have a separate strategy for that, a dedicated FiFo team and the Royal Flying Doctor Service is now working with us to do Pfizer [vaccine] drops.”

To view this article in full click here.

rremote area nurse administering a COVID-19 vaccine to a Balgo Aboriginal Elder WA, sitting at a table outside a building

A remote area nurse administers a COVID-19 vaccine to a Balgo community member in WA. Photo supplied by KAMS. Image source: Croakey Health Media.

Health treatment satisfaction gap

Indigenous Australians using the NSW public hospital system reported less satisfaction with their treatment than their non-Indigenous peers, according to new data. The Bureau of Health Information (BHI) has released new data on 8,000 Indigenous people who were admitted to a NSW hospital between 2014 and 2019, as well as almost 300 women who gave birth in one of the state’s hospitals in 2019.

It found ratings of care provided by Aboriginal admitted patients improved from 2014 to 2019 in several areas, most notably in rural NSW hospitals. But a gulf between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians still exists. More than seven in 10 Aboriginal patients said health professionals always explained things in an understandable way, but that figure was eight in 10 for non-Aboriginal patients. “Aboriginal patients admitted to hospital were significantly less likely to provide positive ratings of communication, information provision and being treated with respect and dignity,” BHI chief executive Diane Watson said in a statement.

In maternity care, 77% of surveyed Indigenous women said they always had confidence in the health professionals who cared for them during childbirth. However confidence rates sat at 85% among non-Indigenous women. More than a quarter of surveyed Indigenous women also said their decision on how to feed their baby was not always respected. Dr Watson said the data should be used to drive improvements in Indigenous health, highlighting the importance of Aboriginal Health Workers in supporting and communicating with patients.

To view the full article click here.

older Aboriginal man in hospital bed with young Aboriginal girl looking at machines & young Aboriginal boy sitting on his bed

Image source: The Conversation.

TGA website refresh – have your say

The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) are responsible for regulating the supply, import, export, manufacturing and advertising of therapeutic goods, including medicines.  This ensures all Australians have access to safe and high-quality health products.  For example, TGA have an important role in the oversight of medicines shortages, side effects and product recalls.

TGA are currently in the discovery phase of their Website Redevelopment Project. They are looking to capture a clear understanding of the sector’s needs, including functionality, design, and integration of dependent services. This research is an informal exploration of how TGA can provide a better experience or service for you and your colleagues.  The findings and recommendations will help inform the website TGA will launch by 30 June 2022, as well as the continuous improvements they make next financial year and beyond.

How can you get involved? – over the next two weeks (19-31 July), TGA will be running 1 hour informal discussions via video conference to understand:

  • How you currently interact with the TGA website and any issues or barriers you encounter
  • A ‘hand’s on’ exploration of the current TGA website to identify pain points and future needs, and
  • Opportunities to provide an enhanced experience.

If you would be interested in getting involved to share your views and ideas for improvement of the TGA website, please get in touch here. The other option is  to register for our External Collaboration Forum session to be held on Thursday 5 August 2021 from 10am to 1pm via video conference. To register for this session click here.

TGA.gov.au logo & vector image of TGA building

New process for job advertising

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

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

Proud in culture, strong in spirit webinar

You are invited to the ‘Proud in culture, strong in spirit: celebrating National Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Children’s Day’ webinar on Tuesday 10 August 2021, 1:00pm–2:00pm (Sydney AEST).

The webinar will be moderated by Professor Bruce Neal, Executive Director of The George Institute and include presenters Dr Janine Mohamed, CEO of the Lowitja Institute, and Dr Julieann Coombes, Research Fellow in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Program at The George Institute.

Dr Mohamed will outline the importance of services in providing cultural connection, and the key role of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workforce in the safety and wellbeing of children and families. Dr Coombes will share her work, ‘Safe Pathways’- a quality improvement and partnership approach to discharge planning for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children following burn injury.

A facilitated conversation will follow the presentations. You can register for the webinar here.

purple banner text '#georgetalks - Pro9ud in culture, strong in spirit: Celebrating National ATSI Children's Day with Dr Janine Mohmed CEO Lowitja Institute & Dr Julie3ann Coombes, Research Fellow, ATSI Health Program, The George Institute for Health'

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Decreased access exacerbates chronic illness

feature tile text 'First Nations Peoples' chronic illness over-representation exacerbated by decreased healthcare access' photo of Aboriginal man's hands in lap

Decreased access exacerbates chronic illness

Residents in Sydney, the NSW Central Coast, Blue Mountains and Wollongong will spend at least two more weeks in lockdown as authorities grapple with high COVID-19 case numbers. The growing cluster now centred in Sydney’s south west raises major health and wellbeing concerns for people living in larger households, with chronic health issues and more precarious jobs and incomes, and the urgent need for tailored communications and supports that are led by community.

The extension of the Greater Sydney lockdown to contain the latest outbreak of COVID-19 is expected to put added strain on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities with implications for management of chronic health conditions, social isolation, and mental health, say community experts. A key concern for Professor Aunty Kerrie Doyle, Associate Dean, Indigenous Health, Western Sydney University, is the interruption of the care of chronic conditions for south-west Sydney’s 6,000-strong Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population. “This halt in day-to-day health business will have huge impacts down the road,” said Doyle, a Winninninni woman.

While she said phone consultations were valuable, there were limitations to this care. “You are less likely to go and do things that you need to do; like, do you need to have your blood taken for your diabetes? How’s your podiatry going?”, she said.  Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people suffer disproportionately from lockdowns.

Dr Paul Saunders, a Biripi man, medical doctor and Research Fellow in Translational Health Research at Western Sydney University, said reduced access to care in a lockdown was an issue for the whole community, but its impact would be felt more acutely among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. “Indigenous people have an over-representation of chronic illnesses, these are just exacerbated by this decreased access to health care,” he said.

To view the full article click here.

3 Aboriginal women sitting outside of Tharawal Clinic, all wearing different Aboriginal dot art shirts

Tharawal health clinic supporting community. Image source: Croakey Health Media.

Strengthening mental health workforce

New research by Charles Darwin University (CDU) scholars suggests a strengthened Indigenous mental health workforce could effectively improve mental health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. The report, written by Professor Dominic Upton, Associate Professor Linda Ford, Professor Ruth Wallace, Sarah Jackson, Jenna Richard from CDU and Dr Penney Upton from the University of Canberra, has found  that an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander led mental health workforce would promote self-determination and increase the reach of mental health services by providing culturally competent services. Mental health services delivered by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander professionals are considered more culturally safe and trustworthy.

For more information about the research click here and to view the Charles Darwin University media statement in full click here.

wall painted with Aboriginal flag layout with centre a yellow brain, shadow of bars across painted brick wall

Image source: VICE.

Challenges facing Aboriginal adolescents

In Australia, an understanding of Aboriginal adolescence is urgently needed to ensure equitable treatment. Not only must young Aboriginal people adjust to their changing bodies and minds, but they must also negotiate these changes in conflicting environments often characterised by racism and poverty.

A new book Indigenous Australian Youth Futures – Living the Social Determinants of Health edited by University of Newcastle medical anthropologist, Associate Professor Kate Senior, aims to provide better contextualisation around Aboriginal youth and the challenges they face in modern Australia.

The new publication aims to provide a greater understanding of the day-to-day lives of Aboriginal adolescents, and some of the adults who care for or neglect them. It seeks to provide better understanding of the circumstances, processes and factors that affect adolescent health, wellbeing and future prospects in their intercultural environments.

For a more detailed description of the book click here.cover of book text 'Indigenous Australian Youth Futures - living the social determinants of health - edited by Kate Senior, Richard Chenhall and Victoria Burbank' sepia photo of two young Aboriginal children in long grass, one attempting a hand stand

NDIS latest news

The July 2021 edition of the NDIS Latest news includes:

  • Home & Living and Support for Decision Making Consultations – have your say
  • Coronavirus information
  • Would We Fund It update
  • 2021–22 pricing update
  • Participant spotlight

To view the NDIS Latest news July 2021 edition click here.tile text 'ndis Latest news' along footer white text, purple background, phot of man in wheelchair on path with young boy holding man's hand and woman with young girl walking on the other side of the wheelchair

IAHP Yarnes evaluation update

An update of the Indigenous Australian’s Health Programme (IAHP) Yarnes Evaluation has been released. The update provides an overview of the progress made on the evaluation during the first half of 2021, including 17 sites (with 23 ACCHOs and 13 Primary Health Networks) formalising their participation as site partners in the evaluation and ethics approval allowing fieldwork to being in all 17 sites.

You can view the evaluation update here and access the evaluation website here.banner text 'IAHP Yarnes IAHP Yarning Action Reflection National Evaluation Systems' 5 Aboriginal art circles overlapping, blue, green, brown, taupe, white

NT GP training enrolments plummet

The difficulties of retaining medical practitioners in the NT have been laid bare, with a study showing a 50% fall in the number of junior doctors deciding to become GPs. The NT leads a national trend of declining enrolments in GP training, according to the Menzies School of Health Research. “This is a complex problem and there is no easy solution,” researcher Deb Russell said in a statement earlier this week.

Historically, the NT has struggled to attract and retain GPs, especially in remote areas. It relies heavily on locally training junior doctors to become GPs, however, between 2016 and 2020 new enrolments fell by 50%. The decline is far larger than the national average of 12%.

Dr Russell said graduating medical students and junior doctors need to be attracted to GP training as soon as they graduate. “Many are still making up their minds about their career path at this time,” she said. Training opportunities in remote areas should be offered, along with cultural awareness education and support to overcome the barriers to rural work. Also, intern and other hospital training positions should also be awarded to junior doctors who express an interest in rural general practice, Aboriginal health, remote medicine, and staying in the NT long term.

You can view The West Australian article in full here and a related ABC News article here.

Dr Melanie Matthews a GP at Mala'la Indigenous health service Maningrida sitting at her clinic desk with stethoscope around her neck

Dr Melaine Matthews, Mala’la Indigenous health service, Maningrida, NT. Image source: ABC News.

New Graduate Certificate available

A new Graduate Certificate in Health Service Management (Safety and Quality) is now available through the University of Tasmania.

This new course follows a collaboration between the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care with the University of Tasmania to introduce training on healthcare safety and quality, particularly the National Safety and Quality Health Service (NSQHS) Standards. The course is part-time and is delivered fully online, with optional half-day masterclasses.

The Graduate Certificate in Health Service Management (Safety and Quality) is open for enrolment now, and for a limited time the University is providing a 100% HECS fee waiver. This is a fantastic opportunity for managers and clinicians across Australia to boost their skills and knowledge and get a qualification in this important area.

Course participants will get an in-depth understanding of how to apply NSQHS Standards and the National Model Clinical Governance Framework to improve the safety and quality of care in their health service. You can access a more detailed overview of the course here.

If you are interested in this course and have any queries, please contact the course coordinator, Professor Melanie Lauva here.

banner image of torso of woman holding stethoscope towards camera, overlaid with medical vector images e.g. medical chart, thermometer, ambulance contained within hexagons, blue white

Image source: Future Health Skills website.

New process for job advertising

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: ACCHO to reduce diabetes-related vision loss in mob

Feature tile - Fri 4.6.21 - ACCHO to reduce vision loss in mob

ACCHO to reduce diabetes-related vision loss in mob

Diabetes Australia has launched a new partnership with Carbal Medical Services, a Toowoomba and Warwick based Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health organisation, to reduce diabetes-related vision loss and blindness in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Diabetes is a leading cause of vision loss and blindness but only about 50% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with diabetes are having their eyes checked within recommended timeframes.

The Diabetes Australia – Carbal partnership involves the promotion of KeepSight, an eye check reminder program run by Diabetes Australia which encourages people with diabetes to have regular eye checks. The program will use locally developed, culturally appropriate resources and information.

KeepSight is free and registration only takes a minute. People then receive regular reminders when their eye checks are due.

You can read more about the partnership in Mirage News here.

KeepSight - Look after your eyes, look after your mob image.

KeepSight – Look after your eyes, look after your mob image.

Cancer patients encouraged to get COVID-19 vaccine

A new Cancer Australia initiative is encouraging Aboriginal people who have been impacted by cancer to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

The Facts on the Vax campaign is being rolled out to both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal healthcare workers, across social media, and on the Cancer Australia website. The campaign includes a short, animated video and easy-to-understand factsheets about vaccination for Aboriginal people with cancer, their loved ones and health workers working with Aboriginal people.

Cancer Australia chief executive Professor Dorothy Keefe said the campaign hopes to cut through misinformation and answer frequently asked questions about the vaccine.

“The evidence is really strong that having the vaccine is a good thing,” Professor Keefe told NIT.

Every year approximately 1,400 Indigenous Australians are diagnosed with cancer, and as part of the COVID-19 roll out, many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with cancer are eligible to receive a free COVID-19 vaccine.

Dr Jason Agostino from NACCHO says Aboriginal people impacted by cancer are very vulnerable to the virus.

“It’s really important that we give them all the protection we can and vaccines are a part of that,” said Dr Agostino.

You can read the full story in the National Indigenous Times here.

The Facts on the Vax campaign by Cancer Australia.

The Facts on the Vax campaign by Cancer Australia.

Extra support for SA patients

Aboriginal patients travelling long distances for specialist medical treatment will be entitled to advanced subsidies and automatically have travel partners approved for reimbursements, as part of a range of improvements being introduced to the Patient Assistance Transport Scheme (PATS).

Announcing the changes on National Reconciliation Week, Minister for Health and Wellbeing Stephen Wade said the changes are part of a new PATS Aboriginal Engagement Strategy which has been developed to engage more Aboriginal patients in the scheme.

“A review found that despite Aboriginal South Australians in regional areas having relatively low health status, only one percent of Aboriginal patients applied for subsidies through PATS, which clearly shows we are missing opportunities to reimburse patients,” said Minister Wade.

“The strategy has identified key areas to ensure the scheme is more accessible, more flexible, easier to understand and provides better support for Aboriginal patients travelling for medical treatment.

You can read the media release here.

Patient transport by MAF Australia.

Patient transport by MAF Australia.

AMA calls for reform to public hospital funding

With ambulance ramping occurring in our public hospitals because of a lack of doctors, nurses and beds, the AMA is calling on National Cabinet to urgently address public hospital funding to pull hospitals ‘back from the brink’.

Record-breaking ambulance ramping in Perth, a delay in elective surgeries in WA due to overwhelming demand, disturbing incidences of hospitals unable to cope across the country, questions raised in this week’s Senate estimates, and stories coming from NSW Parliament’s inquiry into hospital services in rural and regional areas, has forced the issue on to the national agenda.

“Our public hospitals are at breaking point and patients are suffering as a consequence,” AMA President Dr Omar Khorshid said.

The AMA says the National Cabinet must urgently move to shared 50 – 50 Commonwealth–State funding for public hospitals, and remove the artificial cap that stops our system meeting community demand.

Read AMA’s media release here.

“Our public hospitals are at breaking point and patients are suffering as a consequence,” AMA President Dr Omar Khorshid said.

Aboriginal child is sedated while leaving surgery, at Katherine Hospital.

Share your vaccine story

The Australian Government Department of Health has developed this easy-to-use template for social media tiles showcasing a photo and story of why you want to get or have been vaccinated against COVID-19. It’s a PowerPoint template that includes a square tile for use on Instagram and Facebook and a landscape tile to be used on Twitter or LinkedIn.

The aim is to share as many stories as possible on social media showcasing everyday people and their reasons for wanting to get the vaccine.

You can download the template here.

Alternatively, you can email: nacchonews@naccho.org.au with your photo and brief story together with your first name(s) and if you chose to, your identification(s) (example of identification: grandmother and granddaughter of the Yuin Walganga people, Mogo NSW) and we can share your story on NACCHO’s social media channels.

COVID-19 Vaccination - Image frame.

COVID-19 Vaccination – Image frame.

More doctors recruited to rural and remote communities

A unique national GP training program that enables doctors to gain their specialist qualification in General Practice – while living and working as a doctor in a First Nations, rural or remote community – has assisted the recruitment of an additional much-needed doctor for St George in Queensland.

Dr Gary Wood is among 32 doctors who will be training with the Remote Vocational Training Scheme (RVTS) this year. He was recruited under a collaborative approach by RVTS (through its Targeted Recruitment strategy), Health Workforce Queensland and Goondir Health Services.

He will be working at Goondir Health Services – a health service for local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people – while continuing his specialist GP training in the RVTS program.

The appointment is a major win for the St George community, as Dr Wood will work there for the duration of his specialist GP training, and hopefully for many years beyond.

“For their community, this means continuity of medical services and patient care. It really is a win-win situation for the doctors and their communities,” said RVTS CEO, Dr Pat Giddings.

Dr Wood said the benefits of working and training as a doctor under the RVTS training model were significant.

You can read the media release here.

Dr Gary Wood and Floyd Leedie CEO Goondir Health Services.

Dr Gary Wood and Floyd Leedie CEO Goondir Health Services.

RVTS Round 1 applications now open

The Remote Vocational Training Scheme (RVTS) is currently promoting their first round of applications for the 2022 intake. Round 1 Applications are now open – until Sunday 4 July 2021, for training to commence in February 2022, with positions available in both AMS and Remote training streams.

In addition to the AMS stream MMM2-7 location eligibility, RVTS is also offering Targeted Recruitment locations for 2022 (there are currently 5 Aboriginal Medical Services as approved Targeted Recruitment locations) as listed on the RVTS website.

For more application information click here.
For more information about targeted recruitment locations click here.

RVTS - Targeted Training Locations.

RVTS – Targeted Training Locations.

Webinar: Supporting the journey of women birthing Aboriginal babies in NSW

Supporting the journey of women birthing Aboriginal babies in NSW

The AH&MRC is hosting a maternal health webinar. We will hear from the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (ACCHO) sector as well as the Aboriginal Maternal Infant Health Strategy (AMIHS) on programs running in communities to support women birthing Aboriginal babies in NSW.

Hear from:

  • Waminda – Melanie Briggs and Hayley Longbottom
  • NSW Ministry of Health – Elizabeth Best
  • Riverina Medical and Dental Aboriginal Corporation – Kristy Williams, Annika Honeysett, Rachel Fikkers and Megan Elliot-Rudder

We are inviting people working in the maternal and child health space as well as women in communities across New South Wales.

Date & time: 10:00am until 11:30am, 16 June 2021.
For more information about the event and how to register click here.

Supporting the journey of women birthing Aboriginal Babies in NSW - event image.

Supporting the journey of women birthing Aboriginal Babies in NSW – event image.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Continuity of care is key to giving birth better

feature tile text 'continuity of care is key to giving birth better', image of newborn baby cradled in the palms of an adults hands

Giving birth better

One third of Australian women who give birth report their experience as traumatic, whether through physical injury or psychological effects. But many women suffer in silence. A recent SBS Insight episode, Giving Birth Better, explored the impacts of birth trauma and what can be done to ensure better outcomes for women and their families.

This episode of SBS Insight features Melanie Briggs, a descendant of the Dharawal and Gumbaynggirr people, and a senior midwife at Waminda, a women’s health and welfare service on the NSW South Coast on Yuin Country. In June 2020 Melanie became the first endorsed Aboriginal midwife in NSW and only the second in Australia.

Melanie provides antenatal care in a community setting and explained the importance of continuity of care in reducing stillbirth, premature birth, the requirement to be induced or have a caesarean section. Melanie also explained how intergenerational trauma can play out for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women in their reluctance to access mainstream services due to racism and fear their children will be removed. To view the SBS Insight Giving Birth Better episode click here.

Image in the feature tile from Wiyanga: A Guide for Mothers and Families.

Midwife Melanie Briggs holds newborn Talekai during a special cultural ceremony

Midwife Melanie Briggs holds newborn Talekai during a special cultural ceremony. Photo: Naomi Locke Photography. Image source: ABC News.

Most recent indicators of health report

The most recent indicators of the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are documented in the Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet’s authoritative publication, the Overview of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health status 2020.

As part of the Health InfoNet’s commitment to knowledge exchange, other resources have been produced to access this information including a plain language infographic Summary version of the Overview’s key topics and PowerPoint slides based on the Summary. cover of report text ' Overview of A&TSI health status 2020' Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet' - Aboriginal dot painting of goanna - colours black, yellow, wide, blue, pink, blue

New rural health podcast Build ‘Em Up

The National Rural Health Alliance (NRHA) has released a new podcast for rural health called Build ‘Em Up. The podcast showcases upbeat rural health stories from communities and towns around Australia. The monthly podcast raises the voice of great people building the health and wellbeing of local communities. Telling positive stories is part of journey of creating a level playing field where people in rural and remote Australia can access affordable, quality health care.

Episode 1 is an interview with Torres Strait Islander, Elsie Seriat. Elsie grew up on Thursday Island and returned home after an incredible journey that saw her run the New York Marathon in 2014. Elsie achieved this incredible success only six months after joining up with Rob de Castella’s Indigenous Marathon Foundation. Since completing several marathons and being awarded an OAM, Elsie continues to inspire her family, friends, community and people around Australia to get moving. To hear these great stories head to the Build ‘Em Up podcast here.tile text 'Build 'Em Up Podcast by National Rural Health Alliance, Supported by nbn' collage of 5 image: man in checked shirt with two ladies either side one in an Akubra & pink hsit the other in a blue shirt; Aboriginal mum holding toddler & baby; two Aboriginal sportswomen; Rob de Castella & two Aboriginal women; panorama view of rural township

Sexual Health Conference abstracts DUE

The Joint Australasian HIV&AIDS and Sexual Health Conferences will be hosted in a virtual format between 6 to 9 September 2021.

There are multiple prizes available for those who submit abstracts to the conferences.

But you need to be QUICK, the abstract submission deadline is this Sunday 2 May 2021. To submit an abstract click here.tile text 'sexualhealth+hiv&aids 2021 VIRTUAL Joint Australasian Sexual Health + HIV&AIDS Conferences 6–9 September 2021, Abstract Submission deadline 2 May 2021' background pink, yellow pie piece shap of 6–9, test black, blue & year in pink in white circle

Mornington Island health & welfare crisis

To view the full The North West Star article click here.

Arial photo of the main township of Mornington Island& Mornington Shire Mayor Kyle Yanner

Arial photo of the main township of Mornington Island. Image source: ABC News website. Mornington Shire Mayor Kyle Yanner. Image source: Mornington Shire Council website.

NT cancer treatment accessibility

A recent study, Accessibility of cancer treatment services for Indigenous Australians in the Northern Territory: perspectives of patients and care providers has looked at the reasons for the poorer cancer outcomes of Indigenous Australians in Australia’s NT compared with their non-Indigenous counterparts. The study found accessibility of health care is a multidimensional construct, including physical, logistical, psychosocial and cultural dimensions and concluded that while previous research has identified specific areas of reduced access to CTS for Indigenous Australians, the higher burden of cancer borne by Indigenous Australians warrants a more comprehensive understanding of access to CTS in the NT. The purpose of the study was to explore and map the accessibility of CTS for Indigenous Australians in the NT and to identify key access barriers.

To view the research article in full click here.

central line for chemotherapy - 3 bags hanging from a drip holder, orange background

Image source: MD Anderson.

AOD treatment services in Australia

Alcohol is the most common drug of concern for clients of publicly funded specialist alcohol and other drug treatment services, according to a new report by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW). The report, Alcohol and other drug treatment services in Australia 2018­–19, provides information on just under 220,000 closed treatment episodes provided to an estimated 137,000 clients of publicly funded specialist alcohol and other drug treatment services.

‘Alcohol was the principal drug of concern in 36% of treatment episodes. It was the main or an additional drug of concern in 48% of cases,’ said AIHW spokesperson Dr. Gabrielle Phillips. ‘In one-third (33%) of treatment episodes where alcohol was the principal drug of concern, the client also reported other drugs of concern—most commonly cannabis or nicotine.’ While alcohol remains the number one drug for which Australians seek help, specialist treatment for amphetamine use has grown over the past decade.

To view the AIHW AOD treatment services in Australia: key findings webpage click here.

table with cigarettes, one alight with smote in ashtray, lighter, pills, bottle of alcohol, glass with spirits, packets of white powder

Image source: Dennison Psychology.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Embedding cultural determinants of health in policy

feature tile text ' Lowitja Institute report offers blueprint for embedding cultural determinants of health in policy & practice

Embedding cultural determinants in health policy

A new report published by Lowitja Institute provides a blueprint for placing culture at the core of policies affecting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, showing how the cultural determinants of health can be implemented into policy and practice.

Lowitja institute CEO Dr Janine Mohamed said the report Culture is key: towards cultural determinants-driven health policy outlines how culture is a protective factor for health and wellbeing and needs to be integrated and valued within health policy frameworks and programs, and also in broader government policies. “For Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, the cultural determinants are an essential part of our identity and are protective factors of health and wellbeing, anchored in ways of knowing, doing and being that have continued for tens of thousands of years,” she said. “However, this holistic concept of health is often neglected in government approaches to our health and wellbeing because it does not align with dominant culture or western perspectives and is not understood or fully appreciated by policymakers,” she said.

Dr Mohamed said the new Closing the Gap National Agreement and the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan refresh offer a unique window of opportunity for the government to invest in cultural determinant-driven whole-of-government policy.

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

Lowitja Institute is hosting a webinar on Thursday 29 April 2021 to support the release of the report. For more details or to register for the webinar, click here. For more information about the report or to arrange an interview with Dr Janine Mohamed, please contact Amy Hofman on 0405 114 930.

young Aboriginal girl Allorah Saunders with face paint, wearing t-shirt with Aboriginal flag, hanging from a bar, head half concealed by her arm

Allorah Saunders, whose health care is provided by the Tharawal Aboriginal Corporation Medical Service in western Sydney. Photo: Steven Siewert. Image source: Oxfam Australia.

Mental health & suicide prevention interim report

The House Select Committee on Mental Health and Suicide Prevention (the Select Committee) has released its interim report. The Committee’s interim report includes an update on the Committee’s activities to date, and emerging themes identified through recent reports into Australia’s mental health system and engagement with the Productivity Commission, National Mental Health Commission and Department of Health.

Chair of the Committee, Dr Fiona Martin MP, said ‘The interim report provides a snapshot of the breadth of work underway on mental health and suicide prevention. It also identifies some areas that the Committee feels need further examination as the inquiry progresses. These areas include the divide between public and private mental healthcare, coordination and funding of mental health services, affordability, the growth of telehealth and digital services in response to COVID-19, and the role of professional bodies in advocating for, regulating and supporting the workforce.’

To view the media release in full click here.

drawing of a bust sliced into 7 sections, inside of slices is red, outside of slices are white, reflected on black surface, dark grey background

Image source: The Medical Journal of Australia.

The Hon David Coleman MP, Assistant Minister to the Prime Minister for Mental Health & Suicide Prevention delivered a speech at the Suicide Prevention Australia Symposium 2021 earlier today in which he released the National Suicide Prevention Adviser’s final advice.

pile of 4 lots of paper with dog clips on desk, potted plant blurred in background

Image source: The Mandarin.

Change makers create future they want

“We can all be superheroes, we can save the world, we’ve just got to care enough to do it,” says JK-47, the 23-year-old rising star of Australian rap on what he is trying to communicate through his music. He is one of the passionate change makers who answered the call the ABC put out for young people to tell them how they are coping with a world that is increasingly scary.

It is hard not to feel disempowered in the face of stories about climate change, racism, new wars, and now global pandemics — particularly when you are young. However, the teenagers and 20-somethings featured in the article have discovered a way to create the future they want to grow into.

To view the full ABC News article click here.

black & white photo of rapper JK-47's face with white paint lines, fingers raised to face against trunk of a gum tree

JK-47’s debut album Made For This features lyrics about the daily injustices First Nation people face. Photo: Kiarney Mulyono. Image source: ABC News website.

Healthy sexual relationships campaign

WA’s new HealthySexual campaign is all about preventing, testing, treating and talking to minimise the personal and social impact of sexually transmitted infections (STIs). With outbreaks of infectious syphilis occurring in metropolitan, regional and remote parts of the state and notifications rising over the past five years, it’s a timely reminder to be aware of and talk about sexual health.

In 2020, notifications of infectious syphilis in WA were 26% higher than the previous year. The Department of Health’s Sexual Health and Blood-borne Virus Program Manager, Lisa Bastian said outbreaks of STIs over much of the state had placed populations at risk and prompted a more mainstream prevention campaign for the general community. She said an outbreak that started in the Kimberley region in June 2014 had spread to the Pilbara in February 2018 and the Goldfields in January 2019.

To view the Government of WA Department of Health’s media release click here.

banners from WA Healthy Sexual Campaign text 'anyone can be a Healthy Sexual, Talk, Test, Protect, When you look after yourself, you look after all of us' talk has a photo of a girl with glasses & very broad smile, test has a photo of a man with eyeshadow with hands holding rainbow coloured braces, protect has bald man with goaty beard & hawaiian shirt, last slide has a young smiling woman with long wavy golden hair

Image source: Government of WA Department of Health.

Deaths in custody, every family has a story

A detective visited the parents of a young Aboriginal man; a warrant had been issued for their son’s arrect. ‘We’re going to get your son; he’s going to be locked up,’ the detective told them. ‘But if you get him to come around now, I can guarantee you that the arrest will be a non-eventful process. He won’t be harmed; we’ll put him into custody, he’ll serve his time and then he can get on with his life.’

The request went against their instincts, but the parents agreed. When their son arrived, however, the promise fell through. ‘They grabbed him, ruffed him up and smashed him into the fence, causing a head injury,’ Professor Peter O’Mara, a Wiradjuri man and Chair of RACGP Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health, told newsGP. ‘That young man then went into the system. Approximately one week later, he died.’

To view the newsGP article in full click here.

Aboriginal flag billowing in the wind

On average, one Aboriginal life is lost in custody every three weeks. Image source: newsGP.

Stan Grant has written an in-depth analysis of the reasons for Aboriginal deaths in custody in his article Aboriginal deaths in custody reflect the poor health of Australia’s democracy. His article begins with some frightening statistics ‘3% of the population comprise nearly 30% of those behind bars. Look closely and it becomes even more alarming. In WA, 40% of prisoners are Indigenous. In the NT, it is more than 80%. Among youth it is even worse. Half of all children in detention nationally are Indigenous. In the NT, more than 90% of all juveniles detained are black.’

‘Despite the recommendations of the royal commission, we are going backwards. The number of Indigenous people imprisoned has increased 100% in the past three decades. Since 1991, more than 400 Indigenous people have died in custody. Thirty years after the royal commission, things are worse.’

To read Stan Grant’s article click here.

white banner with text in red '30th anniversary' text in black 'roayl commission into Aboriginal deaths in cutody' red text '1991:99 lives; 1991-2021: 500 lives' yeallow text on black separate placard ' Australia is a crime scene under the crown'

Banners at the black deaths in custody Photo: Mitch Abram. Image source: ABC News website.

Young people staying away from jail

Corrie Bell didn’t think he’d make it to his 28th birthday. He’d been taken away from his parents at the age of 15 and didn’t have a lot of hope. “All my life I’ve been living in prison… mentally and emotionally, you know feeling caged in and trapped,” he said. Corie’s a Ngunnawal Kamilaroi man from Campbelltown in south-west Sydney. He told Triple J Hack he had a really rough childhood. “Drugs, alcohol, crime, domestic violence… was very frequent within my family home,” Corie said.

Corie says what he really needed as a kid to keep him out of trouble was stability and guidance from positive role models. Instead he had cops following him, dealers for mates and a bunch of trauma he was trying to drown out. By 18, Corie was sent to jail for robbery and reckless wounding. He says he was so drunk he didn’t even realise where he was.

To view the Triple J HACK article What do young people need to stay away from jail? in full click here.

Uncle Glen from The Glen Centre with white face paint standing in front of 9 men, 8 with faces & chests painted with white paint & one with a black t-shirt & white paint on his forehead

Uncle Glenn (front) says ‘The Glen Centre’ adopts a holistic approach to rehabilitation, with a focus on integrating Indigenous culture and spirituality. Image source: ABC News website.

In a related story, Amnesty International Australia have expressed disappointment that the Committee charged with investigating the proposed youth justice amendments in Queensland has recommended the amendments pass, despite its own report being full of evidence that they will do nothing to address youth crime. The youth justice amendments seek to take a punitive approach to young children who often have complex needs the justice system is ill equipped to address, and which ultimately condemn these kids to life in the quagmire of the criminal justice system. Amnesty International Australia Indigenous Rights Campaigner Maggie Munn gave evidence at the committee hearings.

To view Amnesty International Australia’s media release click here.

two Aboriginal youths in Darwin Don Dale Juvenile Prison

Youth detained in a Darwin prison. Image source: ABC News website.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: St Vincent’s Hospital transforms delivery of care

feature tile text 'St Vincent's Hospital transforms delivery of care for Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander people'; image of a empty gurney being pulled through hospital emergency foyer

St Vincent’s Hospital transforms delivery of care

In the latest episode of the Australian Healthcare and Hospital’s Association (AHHA) podcast, The Health Advocate, AHHA Strategic Programs Director, Dr Chris Bourke, speaks with St Vincent’s Health Network Sydney, Emergency Department Director, Dr Paul Preisz and Aboriginal Health Manager, Scott Daley, to discuss how St Vincent’s Health Network Sydney has improved health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients. While the hospital’s staff knew there was a problem in the Emergency Department with the delivery of care and the outcomes, for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients, NSW Health data highlighting the unacceptable treatment rates for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients was the final straw. This promoted a mandate from executives to improve results.

‘St Vincent’s work in improving health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients is a great example of how organisations can transform the delivery of care and offers many lessons for other organisations wanting to follow a similar path,’ said Dr Bourke.

You can view the AHHA press release here and listen to the podcast here.

St Vincent's Hospital Sydney Aboriginal Health Manager Scott Daley sitting at hospital bed of 49-year-old Aboriginal male patient

Aboriginal Health Manager Scott Daley with a patient in St Vincent’s Hospital Emergency Department. Image source: ABC News website.

Wirraka Maya leads way in better patient management

An Aboriginal community health service in WA has produced record results in the use of technology to ensure better connected care for local patients. Senior Medical Officer at Wirraka Maya Health Service in Port Hedland, WA, Dr Yolande Knight said: “We rely on My Health Record to keep us updated on patient pathology, imaging, medication, dispensing and history records. “We find it helpful because a lot of our patients are transient, moving from one region to another, so it can be difficult to get their comprehensive files.  We can see what other doctors have requested and performed, overcoming the delays waiting for records requested from other practices and providers.” Australian Digital Health Agency Consumer Advocate, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Champion and Co-Chair of the Agency’s Reconciliation Working Group and national Medicines Safety Program, Steve Renouf, congratulated Wirraka Maya for its commitment to digital health.

To view the media release click here.logo 'Wirraka Maya Health Service Aboriginal Corporation' circle fish, goanna, blue ochre

Building a more robust medicine supply

The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) is seeking feedback on proposals to help ensure ongoing, reliable supply of important medicines.

Medicine shortages have been of particular concern during the COVID-19 pandemic and the TGA have been reviewing ways in which they can better assist affected Australian patients and their healthcare providers. Specifically, the TGA is seeking feedback on possible reforms that would:

  • prioritise the evaluation and registration process for certain important generic prescription medicines, to reduce the risk of shortages
  • encourage registration of more generic versions of medicines known to be affected by shortages, to mitigate the impact of those shortages
  • support a more reliable supply of overseas-registered medicines imported into Australia as substitutes when the Australian medicine is in longstanding or repeated shortage.

The TGA’s Consultation paper – Building a more robust medicine supply gives further details about proposed mechanisms to prevent and mitigate medicine shortages. For further details about the public consultation and to access the online survey click here.

The consultation will close on Monday 17 May 2021.

multiple coloured pills in a pile on grey glass surface & plastic pill bottle on side with yellow tablets spilling out

Image source: Newsbook website.

Resources for First Peoples with Disability

A range of new accessible, culturally appropriate resources for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with disability have been released by the peak body First Peoples Disability Network (FPDN).

“Our community urgently needs information about the vaccine, so we have created a poster with culturally relevant information and artwork to let people know about what is happening and why,” said Damian Griffis, CEO of FPDN.

“During the pandemic, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with disability found it hard to get the right information about what was happening, and it looks like those lessons haven’t been learnt when it comes to the vaccine roll out.”

To view FPDN’s media release click here and to download FPDN’s resources click here.text 'Get the COVID Jab and help keep our mob safe First Peoples Disability Network Australia' drawing of syringe, 9 virsus cells & one large circles with Aboriginal art in orange with meeting symbols

Gaps in Aboriginal aged care project

Little is known about how older Aboriginal adults access and engage with aged care services. A project has been initiated by the Port Augusta Community to address gaps in Aboriginal aged care and research is being conducted for the broader Aboriginal Eyre Peninsula Communities in partnership with the Adelaide Rural Clinical School Aboriginal research unit.

The lead researcher Kym Thomas, from Port Augusta, is an Aboriginal person, providing and ensuring that spirit and integrity are at the forefront of all community and stakeholder engagement and activities. Communities involved in the research include Port Augusta, Port Lincoln, Ceduna and Whyalla. Kym has been supported in his work by Associate Professor Pascale Dettwiller and Emma Richards.

To read the full article click here.

photo of Associate Professor Pascale Dettwiller & Kym Thomas standing either side of Yadu Health Aboriginal Corporation banner

Associate Professor Pascale Dettwiller & Kym Thomas. Image source: Partyline website.

Disadvantaged neighbourhoods can shape adolescent brains

Growing up in a poor or disadvantaged neighbourhood can affect the way adolescents’ brains function, according to new research. It can alter the communication between brain regions involved in planning, goal-setting and self-reflection. These brain changes can have consequences for cognitive function and wellbeing. But the good news is that positive home and school environments can mitigate some of these negative effects.

A “disadvantaged neighbourhood” is one in which people generally have lower levels of income, employment, and education. Growing up in these conditions can cause stress for children, and is associated with cognitive problems and mental health issues in young people.

It is not yet known exactly how this link between neighbourhood disadvantage and poor mental outcomes works, but it is thought that social disadvantage alters the way young people’s brains develop.

To view the story in full click here.

vector of brain wrapped in yellow tape with text 'UNDER CONSTRUCTION'

Image source: Momentous Institute website.

Better cardiac care measures report

The fifth national report on the 21 Better Cardiac Care measures for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, with updated data available for 15 measures. The level of access for cardiac-related health services is improving for Indigenous Australians. While the mortality rate from cardiac conditions is falling among the Indigenous population, it is still higher than among non-Indigenous Australians. The incidence of acute rheumatic fever among Indigenous Australians continues to be much higher than in non-Indigenous Australians.

To view the report click here.

 Indigenous Pride Heart Studs Flag: Aboriginal Torres Strait Island One of each Flag

Image source: Haus of Dizzy website.

Mental health challenges & disability

The prevalence of mental health issues is higher in people with a disability than in the general population. This means that often, a person who has both a physical, intellectual or neurological disability is also dealing with mental health challenges.  There can be complexities in distinguishing mental health issues from intellectual or neurological disability and this can lead to mental health challenges not being recognised or identified.  Participants will explore concepts of recovery, trauma and strength- based approaches to working with people with complex needs. They will use a recovery and biopsychosocial approach to meet their client’s needs.

Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Services (KAMS) are promoting a training course being delivered by the WA Association for Mental Health. For more details click here.

young Aboriginal man sitting on a headland looking out to sea

Image source: SBS News website.

Vaccinations being in regional SA AHS

Indigenous health workers in Mount Gambier have been among the first in SA to receive the AstraZeneca vaccine in Phase 1b of the national roll-out. 10 staff at Pangula Mannamurna Aboriginal Corporation were selected to receive the vaccine on Monday this week.

Outreach worker Catherine Bulner was the first of the group to roll up her sleeve and get the jab. She said she felt privileged to be the first South East Indigenous community member to get vaccinated. “I’m pretty fortunate to have it done in an Aboriginal community-controlled health service. “I think it’s really good that we can instil confidence in our community to get it done to protect not only ourselves, but our family and our community.”

Ms Bulner encouraged others to do the same to allow life to return to normal. “It’s unknown, but there’s plenty of information out there that can tell you all about it, if you need to make an informed decision before,” she said. “It’s not mandatory, but arm yourself with the information I did and you will be really confident to get it.” Transport worker Peter Brennan was also vaccinated and said it would provide him with a lot more confidence when conducting his work duties.

To view the full article click here.

Indigenous transport worker Peter Brennan receiving COVID-19 vaccine

Indigenous transport worker Peter Brenna. Image source: ABC News website.

Keeping the momentum on eye health equity

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander eye health sector entered 2020 with high hopes. The equity gap was still evident in measures of access to services and outcomes, but there was a continued positive trajectory towards the gap for vision being closed, with a strong sector driving change through collaborations on regional and state levels. 2020 was a target year for the elimination of trachoma, as well as to achieve equity and close the gap for vision.

The COVID-19 pandemic impacted the work of the sector in a number of ways. Many communities closed or reduced non-urgent visiting services, suspensions to elective surgery and reductions in permitted surgical loads and lockdowns in different parts of Australia to stop outbreaks, while necessary, meant that the already-existing waitlists for eye care became longer. The stronger impact on public hospitals, for example through lower caps on elective surgeries compared with private, has a disproportionate impact on population groups with the stronger reliance on the public system.

The impact on the sector’s work also includes the interruption to the positive momentum of change. Across Australia, regional and state-level groups of stakeholders involved with the provision of eye care services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples have been driving improvements in pathways and outcomes. The community-controlled sector has been key in leading this change.

To view the full article click here.

person dressed as Milp the trachoma goanna at AFL game in Alice Springs surrounded by Aboriginal children

Milpa the trachoma goanna supporting ‘Clean Faces, Strong Eyes’ health promotion messaging at an AFL game in Alice Springs NT. Image source: Partyline.

WA – Broome – University of WA

Research Fellow x 1 FT (Fixed Term) – Broome

The University of WA are seeking a skilled health researcher to conduct statistical analysis of real world health services data from current and future projects. This position will be based in the Kimberley where Rural Clinical School of WA (RCSWA) sites conduct collaborative research with health services into improving Aboriginal health and building research capacity. Under limited directions from Principal Research Fellow, Associate Professor Julia Marley and in close collaboration with the Kimberley Medical Services, you will provide impetus and capacity to research initiatives in the Kimberley region of WA.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander researchers are encouraged to apply.

To view the job advertisement, including the Position Description click here position descriptions and to apply click here. Applications close Monday 16 April 2021.Uni of WA & Rural Clinical School of WA logos

World Health Day 2021 – Building a fairer, healthier world

April 7 of each year marks the celebration of World Health Day. From its inception at the First Health Assembly in 1948 and since taking effect in 1950, the celebration has aimed to create awareness of a specific health theme to highlight a priority area of concern for the World Health Organization.

Over the past 50 years this has brought to light important health issues such as mental health, maternal and child care, and climate change. The celebration is marked by activities which extend beyond the day itself and serves as an opportunity to focus worldwide attention on these important aspects of global health.

To celebrate World Health Day the Australian Global Health Alliance is hosting a special online event where a line-up or expert guest speakers will share their reflections on this year’s theme ‘Building a fairer, healthier world’.

For more information about the event from12:00–1:00 PM AEST Wednesday 7 April 2021 and to register click here.

banner text 'World Health Day April 7, pink wooden wall with stethoscope around plasticine world in blue & green

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: 107 ACCHOs have signed up to deliver COVID-19 vaccines – Pat Turner

107 ACCHOs have signed up to deliver COVID-19 vaccines: Pat Turner on ABC The Drum

Pat Turner AM, CEO NACCHO and Lead Convenor of the Coalition of Peaks was on the panel of speakers for the ABC The Drum last evening and spoke on a couple of topics including the First Nation’s success with COVID-19 and the vaccines rollout, COVID-19’s northern exposure to PNG outbreak, the Federal Government launching a multimillion-dollar advertising campaign in Canberra today encouraging people to move to regional Australia and the Closing the Gap update amongst others.

COVID-19 vaccine rollout

Pat said, “Experience from other First Nations in US and Canada shows high vaccine uptake occurs when the rollout is led by First Nations peoples and there is community control. Due to our success in controlling the outbreak we’re in a position which allows our services to have a flexible approach to the vaccine rollout.

“Just as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities were on the front foot with controlling COVID-19, we are on the front foot with the vaccine. We have advocated to ensure our communities are among the first to be offered the vaccine. We know the devastation COVID-19 can cause due to the high number of people with chronic conditions like diabetes and the potential rapid spread in crowded housing.

“We have 107 ACCHOs who will participate in the COVID-19 vaccine rollout from 1b in late March. This includes many rural and remote ACCHOs, ensuring all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have access to the vaccine if they choose to, regardless of location.

“We need flexibility in the way the vaccine is delivered in communities, especially in remote and very remote setting. NACCHO has been working with the Australian Government to ensure that, where appropriate, this flexibility exists. While the focus remains on those at highest risk – people over 55 or with chronic medical conditions – ACCHOs can also vaccinate family members and household members of those at high risk. A remote vaccine working group is considering a whole of community strategy – including all non-Indigenous and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults in the community.

“ACCHOs are highly experienced at vaccine roll-out. Five year old Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children have the highest coverage of vaccine uptake in the country and in 2020, almost 80% of people over 65 had the Fluvax.

“We have ensured there is targeted monitoring of safety of the vaccine among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people through the AusVaxSafety program.

“The Australian Government has announced over $14 million in funding to support the roll-out of the vaccine in ACCHO. However, services are yet to receive this funding.

“We know that the best information comes from locally developed communication materials from the ACCHO sector. This was key to the success of the COVID-19 response.

“The communication materials developed by the Government are a good source of factual and up to date information, but we need to support our services to adapt these to local communities needs.

“NACCHO has worked closely with the Government, including the TGA (Therapeutic Goods Administration) to ensure that restrictions on medicine advertising do not stop our sector from doing what they do best – developing and distributing effective health promotion and engagement campaigns for their communities.”

Nyikina Nyul Nyul nurse Emily Hunter was the first Kimberley person to receive the COVID-19 vaccination.

Nyikina Nyul Nyul nurse Emily Hunter was the first Kimberley person to receive the COVID-19 vaccination. Photo: Erin Parke. Image source: ABC News website.

National Close the Gap Day 2021

“It will be two years since the historic Partnership Agreement on Closing the Gap came into effect and we are seeing a radical change across the country.

“The new formal partnership agreements between governments and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled representatives are being strengthened or set up in every state and territory to share decision making on Closing the Gap.

“The Priority Reforms in the National Agreement need to be embedded into the way governments work – in their policy development, program and funding guidelines and decision making. Our purpose together is to share decisions on how to improve the life outcomes of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.”

To watch the full episode of ABC The Drum click here.

General Practices join the Phase 1B COVID-19 vaccine rollout

More than 1,000 general practices will join the COVID-19 vaccination program from next week further strengthening the Commonwealths capacity, and ensuring an efficient and equitable distribution of vaccines across the country.

Services will come online from 22 March and progressively increase in number to more than 4,000 by the end of April – as part of Phase 1B of Australia’s COVID-19 vaccine program.
This staged scale up will align with the supply of the locally produced AstraZeneca vaccine, and as more vaccine becomes available more services will come online.

Over 100 Aboriginal Health Services and 130 Commonwealth operated GP-led Respiratory Clinics, who have been instrumental partners in the COVID-19 response to date will also be progressively added as additional vaccine providers.

This rollout for Phase 1B complements the significant vaccination program underway to protect our most vulnerable citizens in Phase 1A, with approximately 200,000 vaccinated by the end of Tuesday.

Australians eligible for Phase 1B will be able to find a vaccination provider through the new national vaccination information and location service, at the Department of Health website.

This will enable people to locate their nearest general practice providing General Practice Respiratory Clinic vaccinations and link through to their online booking system or phone number to make the appointment.

To read the full media release by the Hon Greg Hunt MP Minister for Health and Aged Care click here.

ATAGI statement in response to European decisions about the Astra Zeneca vaccine

Australia’s regulatory body for vaccines Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) issued a statement to not suspend Astra Zeneca vaccine yesterday.

The benefits far outweigh any unfounded links.

Read the ATAGI statement here.

gloved hand administering vaccine to upper arm

Image: SBS website.

Could we mix and match different COVID-19 vaccines?

The COVID vaccine rollout is now underway in Australia and around the world. It’s incredible we’ve been able to develop and produce safe and effective vaccines so quickly — but the current crop of vaccines might not protect us forever. Fortunately, researchers are already developing and testing booster shots. So what are booster shots, and when might we need them?

The first time you give someone a dose of vaccine against a particular infection, it’s called a prime. You’re getting your immune response ready to roll.

Each time you give another dose against that same infection, it’s called a boost. You’re building on immunity you already have from the first dose.

To read the full article in the Conversation click here.

Facebook-based social marketing to reduce smoking in Australia’s First Nations communities

Interesting research paper released in the Australian Indigenous HealthBulletin: Facebook-based social marketing to reduce smoking in Australia’s First Nations communities: an analysis of reach, shares, and likes. By Hefler M, Kerrigan V, Grunseit A, Freeman B, Kite J, Thomas DP (2020).

To view the journal articles click here.

Therapeutic Goods adverse events following immunisation

This instrument specifies certain therapeutic goods information relating to adverse events following immunisation that may be released to specified bodies and persons for the purpose of ensuring meaningful and effective participation in meetings on vaccine safety to support the safety, quality and safe use of vaccines in Australia.

To view the information click here.

medical tray of COVID-19 vaccine syringes

Image source: Surf Coast Times.

National Anti-Racism Framework plan launched

Australia’s Race Discrimination Commissioner Chin Tan has launched a plan to establish a National Anti-Racism Framework and has called on the Federal Government to support and implement it. Commissioner Tan released a concept paper detailing key components that need to be included in the Framework and will soon commence a series of roundtables with peak anti-racism organisations to progress the plan.

The plan was launched ahead of the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, also known in Australia as Harmony Day, which occurs this Sunday. Commissioner Tan said: “Racism is an economic, social and national security threat to Australia, and we need to treat it as such. Too many Australians are regularly the targets of racism. “It is time we dealt with the scourge of racism in the same way we deal with the scourge of domestic violence, or the scourge of child abuse. On those issues we have longstanding national frameworks, signed onto by all governments with three-year action plans.

To read the media release by the Australian Human Rights Commission and the Concept Paper for a National Anti-Racism Framework click here.

Close the Gap Campaign Report 2021: Policy Brief

Since 2010, the Close the Gap Campaign Steering Committee has developed an annual report on action that needs to be taken to achieve health equality for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

We often repeat our recommendations, and we remain steadfast and persistent in the expectation that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander ways of knowing, being and doing will be respected and understood. The time for governments to deliver has long passed.

The Leadership and Legacy Through Crises: Keeping our Mob safe report presents solutions and showcases the leadership of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, communities, youth and organisations throughout critical health crises in 2020.

The report features strengths-based examples in addressing the most complex of challenges. These include climate change, the COVID-19 pandemic, and the increasing need for social and emotional wellbeing services in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities as a result of these events, and pre-existing effects of colonisation and inter-generational trauma.

Read the Close the Gap policy brief here.

Effective approaches to prevention, diagnosis and support for Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder

Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) is an entirely preventable permanent disability. FASD includes a range of physical and neurological impairments, occurring due to brain damage caused by exposing a fetus to alcohol during pregnancy. As a spectrum disorder, FASD manifests in a range of ways, and conditions can range from very mild to severe.

Senate Community Affairs References Committee report on effective approaches to prevention, diagnosis and support for Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder. Tabled 17 March 2021.

The committee received a wealth of information and evidence throughout the inquiry and thanks all those who participated, especially those with lived experience who had the courage to share their experiences and knowledge with the committee. As a result, the committee has made 32 recommendations, which aim at significantly improving the prevention, diagnosis, and management of FASD.

Effective approaches to prevention and diagnosis of FASD, strategies for optimising life outcomes for people with FASD and supporting carers, and the prevalence and management of FASD, including in vulnerable populations, in the education system, and in the criminal justice system.

To read the full report released by the Senate Community Affairs References Committee, click here.

Aboriginal woman holding pregnant belly with hand on top and hand below

Image source: UNSW Sydney National Drug & Alcohol Research Centre.

Hearing loss and treating middle-ear infections in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children

Identifying hearing loss and treating middle-ear infections in Indigenous children in their first four years would change lives forever, says Australia’s first Indigenous surgeon, Dr Kelvin Kong.

Describing himself as a proud Worimi man, Dr Kong said early intervention – such as checking children’s ears at every opportunity – would contribute to closing the gap in education, employment and health between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and other Australians.

Read the full article here.

Australia’s first Indigenous surgeon, Dr Kelvin Kong

COVID-19 crisis in PNG amid vaccine rollout concerns in Australia

Australia has announced emergency COVID-19 support for Papua New Guinea (PNG) in response to fears of a “looming catastrophe” that could devastate the nation and its healthcare system and that also threatens communities in the Torres Strait and Far North Queensland.

Amid dire warnings from PNG and Australian health experts, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced today that Australia would urgently supply 8,000 AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines from Australia’s stock to start vaccinating PNG’s essential health workforce.

Torres Strait Regional Council Mayor Philemon Mosby told ABC radio today that it could be “catastrophic” for local communities if the emergency wasn’t handled properly; however, others are hopeful the crisis can be averted, including National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) CEO Pat Turner.

“Our people are very much aware in the Torres Strait about the dangers of COVID and they’ll be taking every precaution,” Turner told ABC TV’s The Drum, saying she had “every confidence that Queensland Health will be able to manage this and control the movement of people, with the cooperation of the Torres Strait Island leadership”.

Read the full story released in Croakey here.

safe effective free vaccines Department of Health banner orange tick in white circle, blue background, circles with vector image of different people's heads, text ' safe effective free

Image source: Australian Government Department of Health.

Do you work with or employ Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workers or Practitioners?

Diabetes is a significant health issue facing Indigenous Australians.  The delivery of culturally safe health services, including by appropriately skilled Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander Health Workers and Health Practitioners, is vital to efforts to reduce the present and future burden of diabetes.

Marathon Health are currently looking at diabetes-specific educational opportunities for Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander Health Workers and Health Practitioners.  We want to know where they get the information they need to enable them to provide diabetes care.

Your participation in this brief survey is entirely voluntary and your time is greatly appreciated.  The results will be used to inform current availability of diabetes-related education and to identify opportunities in this area.

Please click the link to the survey to get started here.

 

Community-led action – the key to Close the Gap – AHHA 

The 2021 Close the Gap Campaign report, released today, highlights the importance of strength- based, community-led approaches to improving health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

‘While Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples continue to show resilience in the face of poorer health outcomes, the effectiveness of strength-based, community-led action could not be clearer,’ says Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association spokesperson, Dr Chris Bourke.

‘The case studies in this year’s report showcase the leadership of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, communities and organisations throughout some of the biggest challenges of 2020, from bushfires to pandemics.

‘Community Controlled Organisations and Health Services successfully kept Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities safe during the COVID-19 pandemic and the rate of COVID-19 cases in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples was six times lower than the rest of the population. These community-led organisations will have a significant role to play in rolling out the COVID vaccine this year.

‘In July 2020, the new National Agreement on Closing the Gap, signed by all Australian governments and the Coalition of Peaks, signified a new way forward with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in control at the decision-making table for the first time.

‘The recommendations in this year’s report call for structural reform, self-determination and ongoing investment in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-led initiatives.
‘This year’s report solidifies the importance of the power of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, communities and organisations, to deliver culturally safe care and localised solutions,’ says Dr Bourke.

AHHA is a member of the Close the Gap campaign, an Indigenous-led movement calling for action on health equity for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
The Close the Gap Campaign report is available online.

Aboriginal painting by Adam Hill white hand reaching down to middle of page with words Close the Gap and black hand reaching up to the words

Close the Gap campaign poster by Adam Hill. Image source: ResearchGate.

First Nations women left behind in cervical cancer elimination

Australia is tracking to become one of the first countries to eliminate cervical cancer, but Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women will miss out unless we act urgently to change this, according to a new study from The Australian National University (ANU) and Cancer Council New South Wales (CCNSW). Lead researchers, Associate Professor Lisa Whop (ANU) and Dr Megan Smith (CCNSW) and colleagues are calling for inequities to be addressed.

HPV (human papillomavirus) is a common sexually transmitted infection and is responsible for almost all cases of cervical cancer and 90 per cent of anal cancers and genital warts. To reach elimination, the World Health Organization (WHO) has released a strategy with three targets to be met by every country by 2030.

Read the full media release by Australian National University here.

vector image of microscope over female reproductive organs

Image source: MedPage Today website.

Closing the Gap vital to ensure health equity – AMA

The disparities between the health status of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and non-Indigenous Australians continue to fall by the wayside and closing the gap is vital to
ensure health equity in this country, AMA President Dr Omar Khorshid said today.

On National Close the Gap Day, the AMA encourages all Australians to take meaningful action in support of achieving health equity for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples
by 2032.

The AMA has actively called on the Government to address health inequities experienced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, that stem from the social and cultural
determinants of health.

“Closing the life expectancy gap between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and non-Indigenous people is everyone’s business: it is a national issue in which every individual,
organisation and group in Australia can play a role,” Dr Khorshid said.

“Every person’s health is shaped by the social, economic, cultural, and environmental conditions in which they live.

“Addressing the social and cultural determinants of health is vital if we want to see vast improvements in the health and well-being of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
“This is a national priority.

Read the AMA media release here.

Images: mivision The Opthalmic Journal website and AMA President Dr Omar Khorshid.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: ‘Game changer’ e-prescriptions are coming

feature tile - Aboriginal hands in pharmacy clicking iPad

‘Game-changer’ e-prescriptions are coming

Electronic prescriptions (or e-prescriptions) are being rolled out in stages across Australia after being used in Victoria during the pandemic. E-prescriptions have been common in countries such as the United States and Sweden for more than ten years. In Australia, a fully electronic paperless system has been planned for some time. Since the arrival of COVID-19, and a surge in the uptake of telehealth, the advantages of e-prescriptions have become compelling. To read more about what e-prescriptions are, how they work, their benefits and what they mean for paper prescriptions click here.

feature tile - Aboriginal hands in pharmacy clicking iPad

Image source: Australian Pharmacist.

Electronic prescription roll out expanded

The big news in digital health in recent weeks has been the expansion of Australia’s roll out of electronic prescriptions to metropolitan Sydney, following the fast-track implementation in metropolitan Melbourne and then the rest of Victoria as a weapon in that state’s battle against the COVID-19 pandemic. There was also some rare movement in the secure messaging arena, with a number of clinical information system vendors and secure messaging services having successfully completed the implementation of new interoperability standards that will hopefully allow clinicians and healthcare organisations to more easily exchange clinical information electronically. The road to secure messaging interoperability has been a tortuous one to say the least, but movement does seem to be occurring. At least 19 separate systems have successfully fulfilled the Australian Digital Health Agency’s requirements, with the vendors now getting ready to release the capability in their next versions. It is expected these will start to roll out over the next few months.

To view the full PULSE+IT article click here.

image of hand with phone held to scanning machine

Image source: PULSE+IT website.

Lack of physical activity requires national strategy

A new report finding Australians are not spending enough time being physically active highlights the need for action on a national, long-term preventive health strategy, according to AMA President, Dr Omar Khorshid. The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) report found that the majority of Australians of all ages are not meeting the minimum levels of physical activity required for health benefits, and are exceeding recommended limits on sedentary behaviour.

The AMA is working with the Federal Government on its proposed long-term national preventive health strategy, which was first announced by Health Minister Greg Hunt in a video message to the 2019 AMA National Conference almost 18 months ago. Dr Khorshis said “As a nation, we spend woefully too little on preventive health – only about 2 per cent of the overall health budget. A properly resourced preventive health strategy, including national public education campaigns on issues such as smoking and obesity, is vital to helping Australians improve their lifestyles and quality of life.”

To view the AMA’s media release regarding the physical activity report click here.

image of arms of Aboriginal person in running gear bending to tie shoelaces along bush trail

Image source: The Conversation.

KAMS CEO appointed to WA FHRI Fund Advisory Council

The McGowan Government has today announced the make-up of the Advisory Council of WA’s Future Health Research and Innovation (FHRI) Fund. The FHRI Fund was the centerpiece of the State Government’s commitment to drive research and innovation in WA by providing the State’s health and medical researchers and innovators with a secure and ongoing source of funding. Vicki O’Donnell, CEO, Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Service Ltd (KAMS), is one of seven eminent Western Australians appointed to the Advisory Council to provide high-level advice to the Health Minister and the Department of Health.

To view the Government of Western Australia’s media release click here.

portrait photo of Vicki O'Donnell, KAMS CEO in office

Vicki O’Donnell, CEO KAMS. Image source: ABC News.

PLUM and HATS help save kids hearing

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families are being encouraged to use an Australian Government toolkit to ensure young children are meeting their milestones for hearing and speaking. The rates of hearing loss and ear disease for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children are significantly higher than for the non-Indigenous population. Between 2018–19 and 2022–23, almost $104.6 million will be provided for ear health initiatives to reduce the number of Indigenous Australians suffering avoidable hearing loss, and give Indigenous children a better start to education.

The Parent-evaluated Listening and Understanding Measure (PLUM) and the Hearing and Talking Scale (HATS) have been developed by Hearing Australia in collaboration with Aboriginal health and early education services. As part of a $21.2 million package of funding over five years from 2020–21 to advance hearing health in Australia, the 2020–21 Budget includes an additional $5 million to support early identification of hearing and speech difficulties for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, and embed the use of PLUM and HATS Australia-wide.

To view the Department of Health’s media release click here.

young Aboriginal child having his ear checked by health professional

Image source: The Wire website.

Illawarra Aboriginal Corporation receives research grant

The University of Wollongong (UOW) had announced the recipients of the Community Engagement Grants Scheme (CEGS). CEGS is uniquely focused on addressing the challenges faced by communities and taking action to create real and measurable outcomes. The CEGS projects are dedicated to serving communities on a range of issues that matter in the real world. Some areas of focus are health and wellbeing, disability and social services, culture and multiculturalism, Indigenous and local history and communities.

This year, the University awarded grants to three innovative community partners and UOW academics to support their research and outreach projects. Among the recipients is the Illawarra Aboriginal Corporation and senior Aboriginal researcher and anthropologist, Professor Kathleen Clapham. Their project, titled ‘Amplifying the voices of Aboriginal women through culture and networking in an age of COVID19’ aims to address women’s isolation, restore networks, and nurture the exchange of Aboriginal knowledge and traditional practices.

To view the University of Wollongong’s media release click here.

portrait shot of Professor Kathleen Clapham University of Wollongong

Professor Kathleen Clapham, UOW. Image source: UOW website.

LGBQTISB suicide prevention

Indigenous LGBQTISB people deal with additional societal challenges, ones that can regularly intersect and contribute to the heightened development of depression, anxiety, alcohol and drug problems, and a heightened risk of suicide and suicidal behaviour. Dameyon Bonson, an Indigenous gay male from the NT and recognised as Indigenous suicide prevention subject matter expert, specifically in Indigenous LGBQTI+ suicide, will be presenting ‘An introduction to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander (Indigenous Australian) LGBQTISB suicide prevention’ from 11.00 am to 12.00 pm (ACST) on Tuesday 10 November 2020

For more information about the event and to register click here.image of Dameyon bonson and Indigenous LGBTIQSB Suicide Prevention - An Introduction course banner

Dead quiet to award winner in only two years

“The first year we were almost dead quiet … word of mouth and occupational health is what grew us, and now we’ve been able to really branch into Indigenous health and Closing the Gap initiatives,” said Practice Manager Olivia Tassone. At just 22-years-old, Tassone is also a part-owner of the company, along with former footballed Des Headland and others. Being privately owned gives Spartan First a flexibility that other companies in the same space don’t have. “One of the benefits of being a being a private business is we don’t really have a lot of red tape to jump over. If we want to start making a change, then we can just do it,” Tassone said.

To view the full article click here.

Practice Manager Olivia Tassone standing in front of Spartan building

Spartan Practice Manager Olivia Tassone. Image source: National Indigenous Times website.

Tackling Indigenous Smoking with Prof Tom Calma

Tobacco smoking is the most preventable cause of ill health and early death among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. It is responsible for 23 per cent of the gap in health burden between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and other Australians.

The Tackling Indigenous Smoking (TIS) program aims to improve life expectancy among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples by reducing tobacco use.

Professor Tom Calma, National Coordinator, leads the TIS program which has been running since 2010.  Under the program local organisations design and run activities that focus on reducing smoking rates, and supports people to never start smoking. Activities are:

  • evidence-based — so they are effective, and
  • measurable — so we can tell that they work.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News – Being Medicinewise during COVID-19

Being medicinewise during COVID-19

During the COVID-19 pandemic it is especially important to be medicinewise.

NPS MedicineWise is regularly updating its Coronavirus hub with important information. We encourage you to share and use these resources with your patients and communities.

Visit the Being medicinewisehub.

More mental health support for NSW Regional students

A fly-in fly-out psychology and telepsychology service of sixteen permanent senior psychologists will be introduced to support students in regional and remote parts of NSW with mental health.

This is part of the NSW Government’s $88.4 million mental health spend that also includes a commitment to provide every public high school with one full-time counsellor or psychologist and one student support officer. Premier Gladys Berejiklian said the NSW Government had run a successful trial of fly-in fly-out psychologists and the service will be permanent from 2021. “Students across NSW have shown incredible courage and resilience having been impacted by COVID-19, bushfires and drought,” Ms Berejiklian said.

To read the full media release click here.

Methamphetamine use among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people

The Alcohol and Other Drugs Knowledge Centre has released the Summary of methamphetamine use among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. The summary provides key information about methamphetamine use among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in a style that is easy to engage with. It is particularly useful for health workers and those studying in the alcohol and other drugs field.

To read the summary click here.

 

August Newsletter | AOD Knowledge Centre

The August edition of the Alcohol and Other Drugs Knowledge Centre newsletter has a round-up of content recently added to the Knowledge Centre website. There is information on events, programs, news and jobs from around Australia. .

To view the newsletter click here.

APO NT welcomes ACT’s decision to raise criminal responsibility age from 10 to 14 years


Aboriginal Peak Organisations (APO NT) has welcomed the Australian Capital Territory’s recent decision to raise the age of criminal responsibility from 10 years to 14 years. This decision is consistent with the recommendations made by the Royal Commission into the Protection and Detention of Children in the Northern Territory in 2017 and acknowledges concerns raised by the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child that the minimum age for criminal responsibility in Australia is too young. Australia has failed to uphold this standard across all states and territories, including the Northern Territory. “We are concerned about the discriminatory application of the current age of criminal responsibility and the disproportionate impact that this has on our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, young people, their families and our broader community,” said APO NT spokesperson John Paterson.

Read the full press release here.

GP COVID-19 update Professor Michael Kidd AM

  • The Australian Government will increase aged care support programs across Australia with an additional $171.5 million to boost a new COVID-19 response plan.
  • Australians will be among the first in the world to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, if it proves successful, through an agreement between the Australian Government and UK-based drug company AstraZeneca.
  • Enhancing the coronavirus response in disability residential care through a strengthened Disability Response Centre to coordinate and manage outbreaks and keep residents safe.
  • The National Mental Health Commission launched their #GettingThroughThisTogether campaign that provides practical tips to stay connected and mentally well during this challenging time.

Addressing Inequities in Indigenous Mental Health and Wellbeing

A discussion paper from the UWA Transforming Indigenous Mental Health and Wellbeing grant titled – “Addressing Inequities in Indigenous Mental Health and Wellbeing through Transformative and Decolonising Research and Practice.” from Prof Pat Dudgeon and colleagues.

To read the paper click here.

Prof Pat Dudgeon CBPATSISP

Prof Pat Dudgeon CBPATSISP

 

ACT/NSW

Marymead Executive Manager – Client Services

This is a newly created position that has been developed in response to the considerable growth and development of Marymead’s services, and the need to further drive diversity of funding streams and geographic expansion into the future. The newly developed role will report to the Director of Client Services and will be responsible for the overall leadership and management of 3 service delivery units within the division.

Read job description click here.

Marymead Community and Business Development Officer South Coast

This newly developed role will report to the Executive Manager, Client Services and will be responsible for driving the South Coast development project. The project will involve consulting with the community to identify areas of need, developing partnerships and relationships with local service providers and funders, being an ambassador for Marymead within the community, and initiating and driving service development to meet identified needs.

Read job description click here.

Aboriginal Health #CoronaVirus Alert No 86 : #KeepOurMobSafe @VACCHO_org @ahmrc @TheAHCWA #OurJobProtectOurMob Dr @KelvinKongENT says ” If you’re unwell – get tested to help keep our community safe “

1.Dr Kelvin Kong introduction ” Protecting the community from coronavirus (COVID-19) “

2.Testing for coronavirus

3.Where can I get tested?

4.Update Victoria / VACCHO

5.Update NSW/ AHMRC

6.Help stop the spread

7.Download the COVIDSafe app

8. Download COVID-19 mental health poster / graphics from AHCWA

9. If you’re unwell – get tested to help keep our community safe says Dr Kong

“It’s important we detect any cases in our community early by getting tested if you have even minor symptoms. Don’t be afraid of the people who are taking the tests, because they’re going to be in protective gear. It’s to help keep us all safe from the spread.

Testing is available to all members of the community, for free. Aboriginal communities can contact their local Aboriginal Medical Service or Local Area Health District for information on where to access the test in their area.

The type of test you get might vary depending on where you live and where you go to get tested. You might be tested at the hospital, you might be at a GP practice, or it might be in a drive through testing location.

Some members of the community might be worried about getting the test, not knowing what is involved.

The test is relatively straightforward and simple. It’s not painful at all but can be uncomfortable. The common test involves a nasal swab, which is like a big cotton bud. A swab is taken from inside your nose. It might make you want to sneeze, but it’s over before you even realise that they’ve actually started. It’s really very quick,” 

Like many Aboriginal health professionals, Worimi man Dr Kelvin Kong has been exceptionally busy the last few months, helping to keep communities safe from COVID-19.

Dr Kong is a surgeon at the University of Newcastle’s School of Medicine and Public Health, and has leant his voice to support Aboriginal communities across NSW, sharing videos and tips for communities to protect themselves during this time. Section 9 below for full release

Protecting the community from coronavirus (COVID-19)

2.Testing for coronavirus

Testing lets health workers know if people have coronavirus. This helps control and stop the spread of the virus.

Early diagnosis means you can stop spreading the virus to your friends, family, or community. If you have a fever, cough, sore throat, shortness of breath or any other symptoms of respiratory illness, it is important you get tested. Even if you only have one of these symptoms, get tested.

Testing is even more important if you are unwell and:

  • You have recently come back to Australia from overseas. All travellers will be quarantined for 14 days on arrival into Australia;
  • You have been outside of your community and want to go back;
  • You have been close to someone who tested positive for coronavirus in the past 14 days;
  • You are a health care, aged care or residential care worker or staff member with direct patient contact.

3.Where can I get tested?

You can call your doctor or medical service to make an appointment for a test. If you visit your doctor, it is important to call the clinic first and tell them about your symptoms. This will help them prepare for your arrival and protect other people at the clinic.

You can also go to a free COVID-19 clinic without making an appointment. For Melbourne

COVID-19 GP respiratory clinics are health centres that focus on testing people with acute respiratory illness symptoms.

You can find a respiratory clinic near you here, or visit:  www.health.gov.au/news/health-alerts/novel-coronavirus-2019-ncov-health-alert/what-you-need-to-know-about-coronavirus-covid-19#how-to-get-tested

If you get tested for coronavirus, you need to stay at home and avoid contact with other people at least until your symptoms have gone away. It may take a day or two for your test results to come back.

The COVID-19 Point of Care Testing (POCT) Program helps people in regional and remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities across Australia get tested more easily. The goal of this program is to make sure that health care services are no more than a two to three hour drive from a testing location. This allows people to get their test results much more quickly than they would if the test had to be sent to a laboratory in a bigger town.

If you have serious symptoms such as difficulty breathing, you should call 000 for urgent medical attention.

4.Update Victoria / VACCHO

You can find more information on keeping safe, restrictions etc. at                        http://www.vaccho.org.au/about-us/coronavirus/

As of Wednesday 22 July 11.59pm everyone 12 years old and over, living in metropolitan Melbourne and Mitchell Shire will HAVE to wear a face covering (can be a hospital or home made mask or a scarf) when outside their home to protect them from COVID-19.

There will be a $200 fine for those not wearing one.

There is information on making and wearing masks at https://bit.ly/2CafiiI

Info: https://www.dhhs.vic.gov.au/face-masks-covid-19

There are some reasons not to wear one:

  • those who have a medical reason
  • kids under 12 years of age
  • those who have a professional reason
  • it’s just not practical, like when running

Teachers don’t have to wear a face covering while teaching – but students attending for VCE, VCAL or for onsite supervision will, while everyone will be expected to wear one to and from school.

However you will still be expected to carry your face covering at all times to wear when you can.

Otherwise, if you’re leaving your home for one of the four reasons, you need to cover your face.

Face coverings in regional Victoria are recommended in situations where 1.5 metres distance is not possible – however regional Victorians will have to wear a mask when visiting metropolitan Melbourne or Mitchell Shire for one of the permitted reasons.

Wearing a face mask does not apply to:

  • children under 2 years of age
  • people with breathing difficulties
  • people who have physical conditions that make it difficult to wear one.

Remember, if you’re sick you should stay at home unless you need medical care.

You can find more information on keeping safe, restrictions etc. at http://www.vaccho.org.au/about-us/coronavirus/

5.Update NSW/ AHMRC

More info HERE

Batemans Bay Soldiers Club cluster: Six more have COVID-19 | Were you there on July 13, 15, 16 or 17?

6.Help stop the spread

To protect our communities, everyone should continue to practise physical distancing and good hygiene. Make sure you stay two big steps away from other people, keep your hands clean, and stay at home and away from other people if you are unwell.

Wash your hands frequently with soap and water or alcohol based rub and cough or sneeze into your elbow. We are all part of keeping our mob safe and stopping the spread of coronavirus.

7.Download the COVIDSafe app

You should download the COVIDSafe app to help protect your family, friends and the community. The app helps health officials to quickly let people know if they have been close to someone who has tested positive for coronavirus. The information can’t be shared, even with you. The more people who use the app, the more effective it will be and the faster we can get back to the things we love.

Together, we can keep our mob COVIDSafe. Visit: health.gov.au for more details.

8. Download 4 COVID-19 mental health poster / graphics from AHCWA

Feeling angry 😡 or frustrated during the #COVID_19 lockdown ? Here are a few tips to help you cope.
If you need someone to yarn to, you can contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or find your local Headspace.

Alternatively, you can contact your local ACCHO / Aboriginal Medical Service or GP.

Deadly artwork by Will Bessen provided Aboriginal Health Council of Western Australia

4 Downloads

9. If you’re unwell – get tested to help keep our community safe says Dr Kong

Like many Aboriginal health professionals, Worimi man Dr Kelvin Kong has been exceptionally busy the last few months, helping to keep communities safe from COVID-19.

Dr Kong is a surgeon at the University of Newcastle’s School of Medicine and Public Health, and has leant his voice to support Aboriginal communities across NSW, sharing videos and tips for communities to protect themselves during this time.

Over his career, Dr Kong has gained extensive experience working in rural, urban and remote communities and knows first-hand the challenges some communities face in overcoming barriers to health care.

Dr Kong says it’s now more important than ever to keep up with regular appointments, encouraging members of the community to get tested if they have any concerns about COVID19 symptoms.

“It’s important we detect any cases in our community early by getting tested if you have even minor symptoms. Don’t be afraid of the people who are taking the tests, because they’re going to be in protective gear. It’s to help keep us all safe from the spread,” explains Dr Kong.

Testing is available to all members of the community, for free. Aboriginal communities can contact their local Aboriginal Medical Service or Local Area Health District for information on where to access the test in their area.

“The type of test you get might vary depending on where you live and where you go to get tested. You might be tested at the hospital, you might be at a GP practice, or it might be in a drive through testing location,” says Dr Kong.

Dr Kong acknowledges that some members of the community might be worried about getting the test, not knowing what is involved.

“The test is relatively straightforward and simple. It’s not painful at all but can be uncomfortable. The common test involves a nasal swab, which is like a big cotton bud. A swab is taken from inside your nose. It might make you want to sneeze, but it’s over before you even realise that they’ve actually started. It’s really very quick,” Dr Kong explains.

While we are seeing reduced community spread of COVID-19 cases, it’s important to continue testing patients that are unwell, to quickly detect any positive cases and stop the spread in the community, through self isolating.

If you test positive for COVID-19 you will need to self-isolate, and this can be a really difficult thing for many families. For our mob there can be extra barriers,” says Dr Kong.

“Sometimes, it’s really hard because we don’t have the space to actually self-isolate, but when you can, and if you can, it’s important to be in your own room. If you do have to be in the same room as someone, wear a mask.

“If you’re going to be getting food, make sure that you’re getting it alone. Wipe down surfaces, don’t interact with other people. It’s better if people can place food at your door,” says Dr Kong

While the whole community plays a part in maintaining good hygiene and regular hand washing, health workers also play a key role in helping to stop the spread between patients.

It’s really important for health workers to stay safe while they’re treating patients. The most important thing is to make sure you wear the protective equipment provided. Face shields or goggles and masks are a must,” said Dr Kong.

“Regular hand washing and wearing gloves and a gown whenever you’re in patient contact is important. These are all simple things to do, and if you’re just seeing one or two patients, it’s very easy. But when you start seeing lots of patients, you get very tired, very quickly.”

Dr Kong is urging health workers and the community to look after their own health and wellbeing too.

“It’s important to have a break. It’s a stressful time and we all need to look out for each other.”

“If you’re feeling stressed or anxious, or concerned about someone close to you, call the Coronavirus mental health line 1800 512 348.”

For the latest information, including resources for Aboriginal communities and health care workers visit nsw.gov.au.