NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Thurs 30.6.22

Image is feature tile is of health staff working long hours to test residents in Bidyadanga. Photo: KAMS. Image source: ABC News 28 February 2022.

KAMS’ quick response to COVID-19

At last week’s Communicable Diseases and Immunisation Conference, Dr Lorraine Anderson shared some valuable insights from the Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Service’s (KAMS) response to COVID-19.

Medical director at KAMS, Anderson showcased their quick response to the pandemic, urging all conference delegates to consider the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (ACCHO) model of care to “help bring all people on board in the health space”.

In her presentation, Anderson said that communication, leadership, governance and the prioritisation of Aboriginal cultural and spiritual ways, self-determination and empowerment were critical.

To view the Croakey Health Media article Aboriginal leadership key to successful management of COVID-19 in the Kimberley region in full, including Anderson’s full presentation, as delivered at the conference on 21 June 2022 click here.

Vaughan Matsumoto, Senior Aboriginal Practitioner at the Beagle Bay clinic receives a coronavirus vaccine. Photo: KAMS, AAP. Image source: The Conversation.

Leading the way to improve RHD outcomes

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, between 5 and 15 years of age are 55 times more likely to die from rheumatic heart disease (RHD) than other Australian children. The broader Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population are 15 times more likely to be diagnosed with RHD than other Australians. The prevalence of acute rheumatic fever (ARF) is also significant. This was released in a report by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) in April 2022.  

To address these alarming issues, NACCHO will develop a new service delivery model for the national Rheumatic Fever Strategy (RFS), for the prevention, treatment, and management of RHD and ARF. This model will be co-designed with the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health sector. 

A Joint Advisory Committee (JAC) will oversee the strategy and be co-chaired by NACCHO and the Australian Government Department of Health. The JAC has been established to create a nationally cohesive approach to ARF and RHD, with a focus on improving care pathways and RHD data and includes representatives from: 

  • State and Territory Government Health representatives – NT, QLD, SA, and WA 
  • NACCHO Affiliates – NT, QLD, SA, and WA 
  • Heart Foundation 
  • Australian Medical Association
  • Members of the NACCHO RHD Expert Working Group.

A NACCHO RHD Expert Working Group has also been established and comprises representatives from the ACCHO sector.   

The JAC will meet bi-monthly during the establishment phase of the program. A meeting communique will be publicly available and provided to relevant stakeholders.  

Click here to read the JAC February 2022 communique.  

If you would like to be kept informed about progress in this space, you can contact the NACCHO RHD team using this email link.

Dr Josh Francis, Shannon Brown and Trey Brown in Maningrida. Photo: Mike Hill, Take Heart Program. Image source: NRHA Partyline on-line magazine.

Decolonising healthcare – a call to action

In her final story from the 21st International Conference on Emergency Medicine, Dr Amy Coopes has written about the call to decolonise healthcare, and for health workers to challenge “inequity and injustice in their work”. Dr Coopes explains that structural inequities and injustices as a legacy of colonisation can only be dismantled by acknowledging that a script of subjugation continues to be played out in healthcare settings, perpetuating a cycle of prejudice and ill health for oppressed peoples.

Disrupting this narrative is urgent work for all healthcare professionals, and begins with reflexive action, interrogating the motivations, power imbalances and potential for oppression, violence and injustice in our practices and approaches in health. These were the central messages of a compelling call to action for emergency doctors at a recent global summit held in Melbourne centred on the themes of equity, sustainability and innovation.

To view the Croakey Health Media article Decolonising healthcare: a call for equity in action in full click here.

REFOCUS makes profound difference

This year’s NAIDOC Week theme is Get Up! Stand Up! Show Up! and it calls on the community to rally for systemic change and continue to support and secure institutional, structural, collaborative and co-operative reforms.

On a local level, one organisation working day in, day out to make a difference is REFOCUS. The charity is making a profound difference in the wellbeing of Indigenous youth and their families across the region. REFOCUS has been delivering wellbeing support services to the Sunshine Coast, Moreton Bay and Gympie regions since 2010.

The charity stands for ‘Redirecting and Empowering Families through Culturally Unique Services’ and provides a range of programs to support children to reach their full potential. REFOCUS CEO Darcy Cavanagh first began working in the youth and child protection sector in 1998 and knows firsthand the need for this type of support in the local community. “My interest in this line of work comes from my brief experience of being placed in the foster care system with my two brothers and the life that followed being returned home,” he says.

Launching REFOCUS with six staff, and now with a team more than 60, the charity supports thousands of individuals through a variety of programs across its catchment area, with a specific focus on children under 18. Programs include family wellbeing services, family participation programs, NDIS support services, foster and kinship care as well as Aboriginal medical service Gunyah of Wellness.

To view the My Weekly article It’s time to come together in full click here and to access the REFOCUS website click here.

Calls for VIC Treaty Authority

Last week, Co-chairs of the First People’s Assembly of Victoria called on Victorian parliamentarians to pass legislation enabling the establishment of the Treaty Authority in Victoria. In what Bangerang and Wiradjuri Elder Aunty Geraldine Atkinson described as an “umpire” independent from government, a Treaty Authority would “support Treaty-making in Victoria between the First Peoples of Victoria and the state government.”

Marcus Stewart, a proud Nira illim bulluk man of the Taungurung Nation, said “the Treaty Authority agreement is decolonisation in action”. Although an agreement has been signed between the First People’s Assembly and the Victorian Government, legislation is required to facilitate the operation of Authority. The Treaty Authority bill passed the Victorian Parliament’s lower house last week.

To view the Croakey Health Media article Lore, law and cultural authority at the heart of Victorian Treaty Authority in full click here.

Image source: Croakey Health Media.

Census lacks detail about people’s lives

The census counted 812,728 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people on census night, making up 3.2% of the total people counted. That’s up from 649,171 in the 2016 census, an increase of over 25%. Many have estimated the population prior to the arrival of the British was between 750,000 and 1 million. So the exciting news is in only 234 years we are nearing pre-colonial numbers.

Whenever there is an increase in the numbers of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, there is always speculation as to why. Of course the politics of identity is always at play. There will be the usual commentary that targets the way people look in those old arguments that refer to skin colour as the measure of who counts as Aboriginal and the idea that lighter skin signifies less Indigenous or no Indigenous identity at all.

These worn out tropes never take into consideration that colonial policies and practices such as those that led to the Stolen Generations directly targeted people with mixed heritage. These targeted people suffered unimaginable violence in the nation’s mission to breed the colour out of us.

But unfortunately, given the lack of information in the census about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ lives, we can’t be sure if overall health among Indigenous people is improving and why lifespans seem to be improving. And the census has failed to investigate other ways Indigenous people may choose to identify, and how we live as families.

To view the SBS NITV article OPINION: First Nations population has increased, but census lacks details about Indigenous lives in full click here.

Three generation Aboriginal family. Image source: CHF Journal Health Voices – June 2022 edition.

Preparation for work in communities

Charles Sturt University paramedicine students and First Nations mental health students recently participated in training scenarios as part of their preparation for work in communities throughout Australia.

Associate Head of School – Paramedicine Dr Sonja Maria in the Charles Sturt School of Nursing, Paramedicine and Healthcare Sciences in Bathurst said the scenarios were designed to give both groups of students insights into the possible needs of First Nations patients and how the paramedics in particular operate when on-call. Dr Maria said the interdisciplinary training day was created with the assistance of Dr Jola Stewart-Bugg, the Discipline Leader for First Nations at Charles Sturt.

To read the Charles Sturt University article ‘Together we are stronger’; health students strive for better First Nations patient outcomes in full click here.

Charles Sturt University (CSU) paramedicine students and First Nations mental health students in training. Image source: CSU website.

New process for job advertising

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Midwife program closing infant mortality gap

Image if the feature tile is by Aboriginal photographer Bobbi-lee Hille, Daily Mail.

Midwife program closing infant mortality gap

When Kelsey Muhl’s midwife caught her new baby in a hospital shower it was a shared moment between two women who had built a relationship over months. “Gravity helped,”  The mother of three described her latest birth as poles apart from her earlier experiences. Ms Muhl and her midwife, Storm Henry, are part of a midwifery program pairing First Nations mothers with midwives for the duration of their pregnancy, delivery and the first days of the baby’s life. About one in 10 Australian mothers opt to have a single midwife, or caseload midwife, throughout their pregnancy, but for mothers of First Nations babies that rate has historically been much lower. “We know when women have a main midwife or continuity-of-care model there’s reduced childbirth complications,” La Trobe University professor Helen McLachlan said. “Babies are less likely to get sick, mothers are less likely to need caesarean sections.”

More than 18,000 First Nations babies are born across the country each year. Those babies are at a higher risk of arriving early, being born underweight or needing special care. “Outcomes for [First Nations] mothers and babies are pretty much twice as bad as non-Aboriginal mothers and babies — double the rate of preterm birth, almost triple the rate of maternal mortality,” Professor McLachlan said. According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 13% of Indigenous babies were born underweight in 2019. Reducing that number is a key target of the Closing the Gap agreement.

The culturally safe Baggarrook midwifery care program, being led by Latrobe University and the Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation, has now matched more than 700 women giving birth to Indigenous babies with either a First Nations midwife or one who has been through cultural awareness training. “We’ve gone from 5% of Aboriginal women receiving access to this gold-standard model of care to over 90% of Aboriginal women presenting at one of the three hospitals participating,” Professor McLachlan said.

To view the ABC News article Aboriginal midwife program works to close the gap in infant mortality and birth complications in full click here.

Kelsey Muhl enlisted a midwife from a First Nations program to help deliver her daughter Emilia. Photo: Nicole Asher, ABC News.

Helping older Australians avoid ED

Improving the care of older Australians in a bid to help them avoid hospital emergency departments will be the focus of a new project that federal Health Minister Greg Hunt says has been awarded funding from the Medical Research Future Fund. Led by Flinders University in partnership with SA Health’s Southern Adelaide Local Health Network (SALHN) and the SA Ambulance Service, the research will engage patients and the medical community to find the best way forward for treating older Australians, who make up almost a quarter of all ED visits. “Emergency departments across Australia are often overwhelmed by the high demand from our growing ageing population but nearly half of the visits are potentially preventable,” says Flinders University’s Associate Professor Craig Whitehead, Director of Rehabilitation, Aged, and Palliative Care at SAHLN and the project’s Chief Investigator.

The project will also explore what Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander consumers look for in emergency care, as well as seek to understand the barriers they face, with the team including two Aboriginal researchers – Associate Professor Tamara Mackean and Shane D’Angelo – from the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Public Health group in Flinders University’s College of Medicine and Public Health. They bring both public health and Indigenous health research experience and will engage with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples through yarning circles. “This is an opportunity for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander worldviews and experiences to be incorporated into the conduct of the research from the beginning,” said Associate Professor Mackean.

To view the Flinders University article Helping older Australians avoid ED click here.

Image source: Flinders University News webpage.

Lower healthcare costs, but no PHC reform

The Consumers Health Forum (CHF) welcomes recent announcements from both major parties that the cost of prescriptions will be eased by reducing the PBS co-payment. In addition, both parties have committed to raising the threshold for access to the Commonwealth Seniors Health Card (CSHC). CHF CEO, Leanne Wells, said that these two measures will help to bring down costs for people on fixed incomes in the face of rising inflation pressures. “Commitments to lower the cost of prescriptions if either side wins the election will be a much needed saving for health care consumers. When medicines become unaffordable, the costs to the nation’s healthcare system becomes more burdensome, as people are missing essential treatment,” said Ms Wells.

“However, we remind both parties that there are many others in the community such as young people, those who have had their NDIS packages cut, and people living in poverty on Jobseeker for whom access to affordable healthcare is dire.  Measures to support their capacity to access healthcare are sorely needed. CHF would like see more health care affordability measures directed to people on low incomes, who need it most,” she said. “We are acutely aware that many families in Australia will be forgoing items in the household budget to make ends meet,” said Ms Wells, “but affordability and access to healthcare goes beyond the cost of medicines.”

To view the CHF media release Parties promise to reduce costs but what about health care reform? in full click here.

Image source: The Conversation.

Inquiry highlights rural NSW’s health crisis

The NSW government has been handed a scathing report finding the rural health system is “in crisis and is failing residents of rural, regional and remote areas”. A cross-party committee has made 44 recommendations, following hundreds of hours of evidence held across NSW, to try to overhaul the system. What was found was people living outside of the city have “significantly poorer health outcomes, greater incidents of chronic disease, and greater premature deaths”.

To address “historic failures” by both levels of government to fix workforce shortages, particularly in relation to doctors and nurses, it put forward a range of sweeping changes. They include the state government collaborating with the Commonwealth on a 10-year workforce strategy, a single employer model for GPs, and for the committee to hold another inquiry in two years’ time to see if the changes have been implemented.

You can view the ABC News article Inquiry into rural, regional and remote healthcare hands down findings to NSW government in full here.

The AMA (NSW) has welcomed the final report from the NSW parliamentary inquiry into health outcomes and access to health and hospital services in rural, regional, and remote New South Wales, but says achieving the report’s recommendations will not be feasible unless Governments make a meaningful funding commitment to improving health. “The report underscores the paucity of investment made into rural health to date and the absolute necessity to rethink current funding arrangements,” said AMA (NSW) President, Dr Danielle McMullen. “The

To view the AMA’s media release Rural health inquiry highlights desperate need for more funding, AMA (NSW) says in full click here.

Image source: Careers Connections.

80% + Aboriginal people speak Kriol

Sylvia Tkac was born to be an Aboriginal interpreter but fell into the profession quite by accident. “My grandmother was an interpreter,” Ms Tkac said. “She said to me, ‘I need another interpreter, are you interested in interpreting?’ “I did it for the first time and I thought, ‘Gee I’m fluent’, because I spoke it as a child.” Kriol interpreter services are still used regularly across Australia. Interpreters hold an important role in communities for many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. “A Kriol interpreter is needed in the local courts,” Ms Tkac said. “Darwin use them, (as well as) Katherine and Alice Springs — they’re also used in the Supreme Court and in hospitals as well.”

Ms Tkac is an Anindilyakwa Interpreter from the Groote Eylandt archipelago and is based in Darwin with the Aboriginal Interpreter Service. She interprets for a wide range of service providers in topics such as health, education, and law at the Local, Supreme and Children’s courts. The service collaborates on recordings with other agencies and mining companies, and produces a range of aids and resources, including DVDs, animations, driving apps and video interpreting. The service is vital to the 80% of Aboriginal people in Australia who speak Aboriginal English or Kriol, which has been recognised as a language since the 1970s.

To view the ABC News article More than 80% of Aboriginal people speak Kriol — why is it still widely misunderstood? in full click here.

Research Institute to tackle health inequities

Charles Sturt University’s new Rural and Regional Health Research Institute will work with communities to address the local burden of disease in lower socio-economic communities within rural, regional, and remote areas. Professor of Medicine and Executive Director of the Institute, Professor Allen Ross is applying his extensive international experience in rural and remote health to establish an organisation that delivers regional, national, and international impact. The Institute received $18 million over five years from the Australian Government to develop a world-class rural health and medical research facility that will support the needs of rural communities in Australia and beyond.

The Institute will focus on conducting research that:

  • addresses First Nations people’s health inequities
  • improves the experience of ageing and aged care in rural communities
  • improves child development health outcomes
  • promotes consumer-driven rural health research
  • boosts clinical research capability and
  • enables research to improve health and medical service delivery in regional cities, rural towns, and remote communities.

Professor Ross said “We will work with community leaders, such as the local Aboriginal Medical Services, to identify chronic health issues of the highest priority.”

To view the Charles Sturt University article Rural and Regional Health Research Institute, a world-class facility to tackle health inequalities in full click here.

Image source: Charles Sturt University.

People urged to get vax as flu cases rise

Acting Chief Medical Officer, Dr Sonya Bennett, and Chief Nursing and Midwifery Officer, Professor Alison McMillan, say with the easing of COVID-19 restrictions, this year’s winter season will likely see both an increase in transmission of the coronavirus and, for the first time since 2019, a resurgence in influenza. Given this, it is important that people, particularly those in at-risk population groups, maximise their protection against both viruses by being vaccinated – and continue to practise all of the safe hygiene measures we have become accustomed to throughout the pandemic. Both influenza and COVID-19 are highly contagious viral infections that can lead to serious illness, hospitalisation or even death. Everyone 6 months and older is recommended to get a flu vaccine each year.

To read the Dr Bennett and Professor McMillan’s media release in full click here.

In a related media release NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard said flu is circulating widely in the community for the first time in two years, coinciding with ongoing high levels of transmission of COVID-19. “It is crucial everyone gets vaccinated against flu to not only protect themselves, but their colleagues and loved ones against serious illness or worse,” Mr Hazzard said. “Whilst we know there is vaccination fatigue, I urge the more vulnerable members of our community to book in for a flu jab with their GP or pharmacist as soon as possible. The elderly, pregnant women, children aged under five years, Aboriginal people and those with serious health conditions can get a free flu shot now, so please book in.”

To read Minister Hazzard’s media release in full click here.

Image source: The Department of Health 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.

World Ovarian Cancer Day

World Ovarian Cancer Day was stablished in 2013 by a group of leaders from ovarian cancer advocacy organisations around the world. May 8 – World Ovarian Cancer Day, is the one day of the year we globally raise our voices in solidarity in the fight against ovarian cancer.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are 1.4 times as likely to be diagnosed with ovarian cancer as non-Indigenous Australians, are 0.9 times as likely to die and have only a 45% change of surviving for five years. You can access the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) report containing these figures about ovarian cancer in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people here.

For more information about World Ovarian Cancer Day click here.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News Refresh – We want your feedback!

Our NACCHO Aboriginal Health News has been a great success, and we thank you for being a part of our online community!

We are looking at refreshing the news and we’d like to hear from you to better provide you with information and would appreciate your valuable input.

Your participation and responses are completely confidential and no personal information will be recorded.

It will only take ONE minute!

 

Click here to start the survey.

Closes 10 May 2022.

Thank you for your participation!

 

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News Refresh – We want your feedback!

Our NACCHO Aboriginal Health News has been a great success, and we thank you for being a part of our online community!

We are looking at refreshing the news and we’d like to hear from you to better provide you with information and would appreciate your valuable input.

Your participation and responses are completely confidential and no personal information will be recorded.

It will only take ONE minute!

 

Click here to start the survey.

Closes 10 May 2022.

Thank you for your participation!

 

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Making recovery from “Ice” a reality

feature tile text 'First Nations effort making recovery for "ice" a reality & image of ice pipe being smoked

Image in feature tile from SBS News article The fight against ice in Indigenous Australia, 13 December 2017.

Making recovery from “Ice” a reality

Indigenous care worker Aunty Sonetta Fewquandie has spoken to Rolling Stone magazine about her life’s work, providing recovery strategies for First Nations communities in Queensland.

“Ice has had the biggest impact that I’ve seen in 30 years working in the community,” says Aunty Sonetta. Sonetta is referring to the devastating impact crystal methamphetamine—commonly referred to as ice—has made both within her community and beyond.

Certainly, this drug has had a major impact on Australians and First Nations communities. But through her own incredible work in this field, Aunty Sonetta has seen firsthand that help — even in the direst of circumstances — is available and that successful recovery is always possible. This truth is what drives her to best serve her community.

Sonetta manages the Mackay and Region Aboriginal and Islander Development Association, better known as Marabisda—a community-led organisation that works with Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander and Australian South Sea Islander communities based in and around Mackay.

Marabisda launched in 2008 to meet the particular needs of vulnerable Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and their families. Aunty Sonetta has been with the organisation for six years, but she’s been serving the community as a nurse and care worker for decades.

“The kids that I weighed as babies when I was working for the Aboriginal Medical Centre are now parents that I work with,” she says. Through her work and engagement, Sonetta is intimately acquainted with the drug’s damaging impact on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

To view the Rolling Stone article in full click here.

Sonetta Fewquandie - Aboriginal AOD worker

Aunty Sonetta Fewquandie. Image source: Marabisda website.

Entirely preventable disease killing mob

An Australian Journal of General Practice (AJGP) editorial last year highlighted the abject failure in closing the gap for rheumatic heart disease (RHD). Since then, the divide has widened further still. This week’s ABC Four Corners program was particularly hard to watch for Janelle Speed.

It is an illness Ms Speed, an Aboriginal cultural consultant, had address in an editorial written in the AJGP less than a year ago. Since she wrote the editorial for the May 2021 edition of AJGP, the situation has deteriorated.

Despite a Federal Government goal of eliminating RHD by 2030, the latest Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) figures show the problem is now even more stark. The editorial highlighted 1776 diagnoses of ARF between 2013–17. For 2015–2019, that total had increased to 2244. Meanwhile, the rate of notifications had increased from 77 per 100,000 in 2015 to 102 per 100,000 four years later.

You can view the newsGP article in full here.

young Aboriginal girl in children's ward with mother

Indigenous Australians in the NT are more than 100 times as likely to have rheumatic heart disease than their non-Indigenous counterparts. Screenshot/Take Heart – Strep: Group A Streptococcal Infection. Image source: The Conversation.

New First Nations disability advocacy service

A new disability advocacy service for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples has been established in Queensland. Side by Side First Peoples Advocacy works with people with a disability and their families to resolve issues they encounter with support services, community access or disability discrimination.

The service is a new addition to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Disability Network of Queensland and has been established and sponsored by Aged and Disability Advocacy. ADA Australia chief executive Geoff Rowe said a dedicated advocacy service would address the additional inequality First Nations people with disability faced when accessing services. “(Advocacy) supports the most vulnerable in our community to have a voice and is the foundation for inclusion and equality,” he said.

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

Connecting foster kids to country

Of all the children in out-of-home (foster) care in Australia, 40% are Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders. Many of these children reside in NSW, on Wiradjuri (‘Wir-add-jury’) Country in the centre and west of the state. In a bid to improve these children’s outcomes by helping them maintain cultural and Kinship connections, a University of Sydney researcher and her sister have developed workbooks on Wiradjuri language that can be used by children and their carers, families, and teachers.

They were launched at an event at the University of Sydney earlier this week with an opening address from the NSW Minister for Families and Communities and Minister for Disability Services, the Hon. Natasha Maclaren-Jones.

To view the University of Sydney media release in full click here.

Associate Professor Lynette Riley and her sister, Diane McNaboe reading from one of their workbooks

L-R: Associate Professor Lynette Riley and her sister, Diane McNaboe reading from one of their workbooks. Image source: The University of Sydney website.

New PHC centre for Mapoon

Before Christmas Apunipima Cape York Health Council shared with reader of their newsletter Cape Capers the build progress of their brand-new, state of the art Primary Health Care Centre in Mapoon. Apunipima is now very excited to reveal that the build has progressed much further in recent weeks due to favourable weather and great work from builders, James Construction.

The blockwork has now been completed, the roof is on, and much of the internal framework has been completed. The carport is also nearly complete. With all going well, the clinic is expected to open in late July 2022. Very exciting news for the residents of Mapoon!

This article from Apunipima Cape York Health Council newsletter Cape Capers can be accessed here.

slab for Apunipima's new Mapoon PHC centre

Image from Apunipima Cape York Health Council’s 28 January 2022 Twitter feed showing the concrete slab laid for its new PHC centre in Mapoon.

Optometry Advisory Group EOIs sought

Optometry Australia is inviting members with experience in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander eye health to express their interest in joining their Advisory Group for a new two-year term, from July 2022 to June 2024.

While the gap in eye health for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples has reduced over the past decade, there are still too many that experience avoidable vision loss and blindness due to barriers to accessing necessary primary eye health care.

Optometry Australia is strongly committed to supporting improved eye health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Since 2008, our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander eye health Advisory Group has provided invaluable guidance and support in our work within this area.

For more information about the Advisory Group click here. Please submit your expression of interest by COB Sunday 26 June 2022 using this email link.

Dr Kris Rallah-Baker examines Moses Silver’s eyesight at Sunrise Health Service Aboriginal Corporation

Dr Kris Rallah-Baker examines Moses Silver’s eyesight at Sunrise Health Service Aboriginal Corporation. Photo: Michael Amendolia. Image source: Fred Hollows Foundation.

Heat compounds chronic disease impact

Groups across the NT have released a scorecard assessing the NT Government’s climate performance against the recommendations of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Unfortunately, the NT ALP Government of Michael Gunner ranked 5/100.

NT Chair of Doctors for the Environment Australia, Dr Brooke Ah Shay, who works in the remote Aboriginal community of Maningrida, said that we already see higher rates of conditions like chronic kidney disease and cardiovascular disease in the NT, and that these diseases will be compounded by the effects of increased heat from climate change.

To view the Doctors for the Environment Australia media release in full click here.

town camp housing, dirt yard, no awnings

Town camp housing typically lacks simple features to keep cool, such as insulation and wide awnings. Photo: Mike Bowers, The Guardian.

New PhD scholarship opportunities

Onemda, along with the School of Population and Global Health at the University of Melbourne, are pleased to announce an opportunity for two PhD scholarships for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander candidates.

They offer flexible options for study within a supportive, Aboriginal-led team. The positions are based at the University of Melbourne and can commence as soon as possible or when suitable to the applicants. The successful candidates will receive a Research Training Program Scholarship and top-up, totalling approx. $50,000 tax free per year for 3.5 years (full-time).

You are invited to contact Professor Cath Chamberlain to discuss your application first using this email link.

university of melbourne logo & uni Melb PhD graduation bonnet

University of Melbourne PhD graduation bonnet. Image source: George H. Lilley website.

New process for job advertising

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Cultural birthing practices needed

feature tile text 'putting culture at the centre of health and wellness results in better outcomes' & image of baby in a coolamon wrapped in red cloth & fur

Cultural birthing practices needed

Indigenous women are disadvantaged when it comes to culturally safe maternity care and often experience racism when accessing mainstream services, which causes distrust and disengagement. The lack of a midwifery-led continuity of care (CoC) model has had a profoundly negative impact on the outcomes of mothers and babies, many of which can be prevented. Indigenous neonates are twice as likely to die within the first year of life than non-Indigenous babies due to premature birth and low birth weight. According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, Indigenous mothers are three times more likely to die in childbirth, at a rate of 17.5 in 100,000 births, compared with non-Indigenous women at 5.5 in 100,000.

Nationally, Indigenous midwifery is in crisis, with less than 300 practising midwives. The Congress of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Nurses and Midwives is working with national bodies and government to highlight the urgency and work towards increasing the number of Indigenous nurses and midwives across the country. A 2014 study found that Indigenous women felt more comfortable and were more likely to access maternity care when they were being cared for by an Indigenous midwife because they felt a deeper connection and understanding linked to our shared intergenerational trauma from invasion.

Indigenous women have described their personal experiences across most mainstream services as “racist, judgemental and not safe”. If women are feeling this way about mainstream services, then this is a systemic problem, not an Indigenous problem. If systems are not safe or approachable we cannot continue to blame women for not accessing crucial maternity care or for their outcomes. Racism within mainstream services exists and it’s partly why our women refuse to access these services.

To view the Guardian article in full click here.

Aboriginal mother holding baby, standing outside house

Photo: Dan Peled, APP. Image source: The Guardian.

Dialysis 1,000s kms from home

Three years ago Richard Kanari left his job in the NT and moved to WA to be close to his family and community while he looked after his ailing wife, Kathryn Jackson. Mr Kanari made the decision to move with the confidence that Ms Jackson could be treated at one of the kidney clinics close to home. But for the past year, dialysis unit closures in remote communities have left Ms Jackson and many others with no option but to relocate thousands of kilometres away from home for treatment. “There’s a lot [of people] here [Kalgoorlie] from the community,” Mr Jackson said. “The family wants to stay close.”

Dialysis units across several remote communities including Warburton and Wanarn have been closed due to staff issues, a direct result of harsh remote life and border restrictions put in place by the WA government. This has forced patients to relocate to various centres across the state, with many transferred to either Perth or Kalgoorlie.

Patients transferred to clinics in other states, such as Docker River in the NT, have been left in indefinite isolation because of WA’s hard border policy, with many not being able to see family for months. Luckily for Mr Kanari, he and his family have been able to visit Ms Jackson despite long, 14-hour trips back and forth between the land and Kalgoorlie.

To read the ABC News article in full click here.

external image of Kalgoorlie Health Campus, emergency & arrow

Kalgoorlie Health Campus. Image source: ABC News.

Struggling with COVID in overcrowded homes

The community of Yarrabah in Queensland’s far north has a population of 3,500. There’s just under 400 homes in the community, and they’re bursting at the seams. On average 10 people live in a three bedroom home. At Emma Costello’s home there’s nine adults and four children. When her son, Jeremiah, tested positive for COVID-19 a few weeks ago Ms Costello feared the worst for her family. “We all got a shock and were all scared a bit for our own health,” she said.

Overcrowding in Yarrabah is something that has long concerned the local health service, Gurriny Yealamucka, and as COVID-19 cases began to appear in early January, those concerns were amplified. The virus has ripped through 300 households, infecting more than 700 people since January. Gurriny Yealamucka senior medical officer Dr Jason King said there was a lot of work being done on the ground in the lead up to the Queensland border reopening to prepare for a potential outbreak. One of the major preparations undertaken in Yarrabah was boosting vaccination rates. In August just 20% of residents were vaccinated so Gurriny Yealamucka staff decided to go door to door with the jab. They managed to raise the vaccination rate to 70% by the time the virus entered Yarrabah in January. It’s now sitting at 83.7%.

“Families are doing their best isolating, which is hugely challenging for houses with 3 bedrooms with 10 people living in them,” Dr King said. “But to the credit of the community they’ve really come along with that message and are doing a fantastic job of looking out for each other and coming to us when they need help.”

To view the SBS NITV news article in full click here.

view of street in Yarrabah

The community of Yarrabah in far north Queensland has recorded more than 700 cases of COVID since January. Image source: NITV The Point.

NASH PKI certificates expire March

Healthcare organisations have until 13 March 2022 to renew and install their new NASH certificate for continued access to digital health services like electronic prescribing and My Health Record.

Healthcare organisations can check if their NASH Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) certificate needs to be renewed via Health Professionals Online Services (HPOS).The Australian Digital Health Agency has developed resources to support healthcare organisations during the renewal process, including:

You can also visit the Australian Digital Health Agency website here for additional information and resources.

vector image computer keyboard, wooden surface, computer screen with lock surrounded by a circle & time running out

Image source: AMA website.

Nurse Generalist Framework consultation

Public consultation on the National Rural and Remote Nurse Generalist Framework (the Framework) is now open. The intent of the Framework is to describe the unique context of practice and core capabilities for remote area nursing practice, and rural nursing practice.  The Framework is designed as a tool and guide and will benefit Registered Nurses in rural and remote practice settings, their employers, education providers, health administrators and nursing and midwifery colleagues working in health care in general.

The development of this Framework has been led by the Office of the National Rural Health Commissioner and the Deputy National Rural Health Commissioner, Adj. Prof. Shelley Nowlan, together with an expert Steering Committee.

For further information about the Framework and how to provide input click here.

nurse Joella Ashwin, Ngangganawili AHS, Wiluna, WA

Joella Ashwin, Ngangganawili Aboriginal Health Service, Wiluna, WA. Image source: The Citizen.

Helping older hospital patients return home

WA Health Minister Amber-Jade Sanderson said the first of five partnerships with Aboriginal Medical Services (AMSs) to deliver care for older Aboriginals leaving hospital care has begun in Bunbury. The Transitional Care Program (TCP), jointly funded by the Federal and State Governments, is a long-standing program which provides care to older people for up to 12 weeks after their hospital discharge, including social work, nursing support, personal care and allied health care. It ensures that people who no longer require hospital care have the necessary supports in place to safely return to the community and ensure hospital beds are available to patients with acute care needs.

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

3 Aboriginal women Elders sitting in green plastic chairs outside, Kapululangu

Elders at Kapululangu, Balgo, WA. Image source: Zohl de Ishtar Blog.

Torres News February 2002 edition

Torres News have issued the February 2022 edition of their newsletter. The lead story Teamwork ensures food security ok – for now looks at how Community Enterprise Queensland (CEQ) have managed to keep 4-6 week’s worth of stock in most of their Torres Strait Island stores despite staff shortages, the wet season and king tide delivery issues as well as COVID. You can view the twelve page newsletter on-line here.

inside of Community Enterprise Qld Store Thursday Island

CEQ Store – IBIS Main Store. Image source: CEQ website.

New process for job advertising

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: NACCHO announces pharmacist scholarship

feature tile text 'applications now open for NACCHO Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Pharmacist scholarship' & logo for scholarship

NACCHO announces pharmacist scholarship

NACCHO has announced that applications are now open for the inaugural NACCHO Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Pharmacist Scholarship, proudly supported by a grant from Sanofi Australia. The Scholarship provides subsidy and support for prospective or current Aboriginal and  Torres Strait Islander pharmacy students and aims to build the pharmacist workforce amongst Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Dr Dawn Casey PSM FAHA, NACCHO Deputy CEO said, “Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander pharmacists and pharmacy students are significantly underrepresented in the pharmacy profession. Building leadership and skills of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health professionals is a critical enabler in supporting cultural safety in the health sector. This financial support combined with mentorship will provide a tangible way to help students to thrive in their professional training and stands to build confident and self-determined Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander pharmacy sector leaders.”

Associate Professor Faye McMillan, a proud Wiradjuri Yinaa (woman), Deputy National Rural Health Commissioner and Pharmacist said, “Another example of the outstanding leadership of NACCHO and the commitment to the future Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander pharmacy workforce through the inaugural NACCHO Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Pharmacist Scholarship. So delighted to see scholarships supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander pharmacy students.”

For more information on this exciting opportunity, visit the NACCHO Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Pharmacist Scholarship webpage here.

Associate Professor Faye McMillan

Associate Professor Faye McMillan, a proud Wiradjuri Yinaa (woman), Deputy National Rural Health Commissioner and Pharmacist.

What ‘living with COVID’ means for mob

According to Jennifer Doggart, who has written an article What ‘living with COVID’ really means for so many people as Australia follows other countries in relaxing COVID public health measures, the needs of many Australians are being ignored. People with disabilities and chronic illnesses, the aged, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are at increased risk from these policy changes.

A range of factors, including poorer (on average) underlying health status and structural barriers to accessing care, reflecting the ongoing impacts of colonisation place Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people at increased risk. This plays out in the pandemic having a disproportionate impact on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with data showing for instance that nine our of 10 COVID-19 patients in hospital in the NT are Indigenous.

To view the Croakey Health Media article in full click here.

Aboriginal artist, Greg Muir in wheelchair with Aboriginal painting in the background, paint brushes in hand

Aboriginal artist, Greg Muir lives with cerebral palsy. Image source: Scope.

Homeless, vulnerable and unjabbed

Paige Taylor, Indigenous Affairs Correspondent, WA Bureau Chief has written a story for The Australian about homeless Aboriginal couple Melinda Williams and Timothy Dick who remain unvaccinated against COVID-19 more than a year after they were prioritised in the national rollout. It is a story that has played out in towns and cities across Australia. Neither considers themself to be an anti-vaxxer and both are dogged by health problems that make them more likely to get very sick if infected with COVID-19.

Yet no state or territory has had as much time as WA to protect the most vulnerable, or win their trust in order to convince them to protect themselves. Despite the luxury of time and a well-resourced vaccine drive in WA, a survey of 522 rough sleepers in the centre of Perth by Homeless Healthcare found that 32% had not had a single dose of a COVID-19 vaccine on 21 January. There are an estimated 1,000 rough sleepers in and near the city, 41% of them Indigenous.

Lisa Wood, from Notre Dame University’s Institute of Health Research, said the reasons why homeless people do not get vaccinated defy assumptions that suggest anyone who is not vaccinated by now does not want to be. Some homeless people had been involuntary mental health patients and were, as a result, wary of the health system, she said. Others had a deep distrust of authority because they been removed from their parents by child protection workers, or their children had been removed from them. Professor Wood said this was why vaccinating rough sleepers took time. It was important to build trust, ­answer questions and give people the chance to come back a few times. “There are also practical barriers to getting vaccinated, such as lack of transport, no phone or computer to book appointments, or to receive reminders,” Professor Wood said.

Indigenous woman Melinda Williams

Indigenous woman Melinda Williams sleeps rough on the streets of Perth and has been unable to secure a Covid vaccine. Photo: Tony McDonough. Image source: The Australian.

Yarrabah outbreak peaks

Yarrabah’s increased vaccination level combined with a slowing of transmission through the community has resulted in a sharp decrease in the daily infection rates. Daily infections continue to decrease with only 34 positive cases recorded in the past seven days, compared with 78 the previous week. Gurriny Yealamucka Health Service Director of Clinical Services, Dr Jason King is confident the worst has passed for Yarrabah. “With a steady decrease in daily cases, it is obvious we are now moving through the tail of this outbreak. This will be welcome news for our community, but it will allow our teams to ramp up our vaccination drive,” he said.

Vaccination levels in Yarrabah continue to rise and currently are sitting at more than 50% of the 16+ community fully boosted. We have come a long way from the low 20% levels in August last year, to where we are currently with more than 83% of the community double vaccinated. Our focus is now to lift significantly our booster rates. With the change to the waiting time, down to 3 months, it’s critical that we increase our booster rollout and protect our community fully. The current outbreak has ripped through the community with more than 720 cases registered in the community. This figure could have been greater. As a community we were 70% double vaccinated at the start of the outbreak earlier this year.”

To read the GYHS media release in full click here.

Anthony Brown-Sexton and Wendy Stafford with mask, chatting over wire fence

Yarrabah resident Anthony Brown-Sexton and GYHS Care Team member Wendy Stafford.

Ending avoidable blindness by 2025

Professor Hugh Taylor, University of Melbourne, Indigenous Eye Health founder says great progress has been made in establishing regional stakeholder networks nationwide that link ACCHOs with service providers and local hospitals. The government has prioritised and committed to “End avoidable blindness by 2025” for Indigenous Australians. Now it needs to release its implementation plan to build and strengthen the services required. An important component will be improving leadership and ownership among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians.

The Roadmap to Close the Gap for Vision was released in early 2012. When the government implements its priority to “End avoidable blindness by 2025”, the roadmap will have been essentially completed. The Indigenous Eye Health unit will then recast its role, focussing on technical support and advice to strengthen Indigenous leadership in the ACCHOs, the regions, the states and territories and nationally.

To view the Insight article in full click here.

Professor Hugh Taylor

Professor Hugh Taylor. Image source: The University of Melbourne.

Fewer young people in aged care

The number of Australians aged under 65 living in permanent residential aged care fell by 20% from almost 4,600 in September 2020 to around 3,700 in September 2021, according to a new report from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW). The number of Australians aged under 45 living in residential aged care fell by 24%, from 120 to 91 during the same time period. The report, Younger people in residential aged care, shows the number of younger people in permanent residential aged care decreased in every state and territory between 2020 and 2021.

‘The Australian Government has set targets to have no people under the age of 45 living in residential aged care by 2022, and under the age of 65 by 2025 (other than in exceptional circumstances), through the Younger People in Residential Aged Care Strategy 2020–25 released in September 2020. The AIHW report tracks progress against these targets over the past year,’ said AIHW spokesperson Louise York.

In September 2021, just over half (53%) of the younger people living in residential aged care were male and 10% were identified as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander. The majority (59%) of younger people living in residential aged care were aged 60–64. Nearly 4 in 10 (39%) were aged 45–59, and 2% were aged 18–44.

To access the Inside Ageing article in full click here.

ATSI carer hands holding ATSI hand

Image source: Aged Care Guide.

Highest rates of dementia in world

Studies have shown that Aboriginal Australians living in remote areas of the country are disproportionately affected by dementia, with rates approximately double those of non-Indigenous people. A new study shows that Aboriginal Australians living in urban areas also have similar high rates of dementia. The study was published in the 9 February 2022, online issue of Neurology®, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

“Given that the majority of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples now live in urban areas, these results are critically important,” said study author Louise M. Lavrencic, PhD, of Neuroscience Research Australia in Sydney. “Aboriginal Australians have among the highest rates of dementia in the world, so we looked at some of the potential risk factors that may be facing this population.”

“While the study was not designed to examine factors such as the ongoing effects of colonisation, systemic racism, and the resulting social and health disparities across Aboriginal Australian communities, these factors are likely to contribute to the higher rates of dementia,” Lavrencic said. “Larger studies are needed to look at these effects and identify culturally appropriate and effective dementia risk reduction strategies.”

To read the Science Daily story in full click here.

Bidyadanga residents with dementia are supported by workers at the community care centre. From left: Angelina Nanudie, Zarena Richards, Rosie Spencer and Faye Dean

Bidyadanga residents with dementia are supported by workers at the community care centre. From left: Angelina Nanudie, Zarena Richards, Rosie Spencer and Faye Dean. Photo: Erin Parke, ABC Kimberley.

New process for job advertising

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: NACCHO Medical Advisor on COVID-19 spread

feature tile text ' NACCHO Medical Advisor Dr Jason Agostino speaks about the spread of COVID-19 & screenshot of Dr Agostino from interview

NACCHO Medical Advisor on COVID-19 spread

NACCHO Medical Advisor, Dr Jason Agostino was a guest on the ABC The Drum panel hosted by Stan Grant on Friday 4 February 2022. Asked what is particular to Indigenous communities that enhances the risk and spread of COVID-19 Dr Agostino said “the central problem, particularly in the NT, is poor quality housing, with people living in crowded homes with multiple generations in there, so in those circumstances COVID-19 spreads really rapidly and on top of that many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people get chronic diseases such as diabetes and heart disease at earlier ages, so young people are at higher risk of severe COVID-19 because of those conditions.”

Dr Agostino said that NACCHO has been very vocal in their advocacy for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and has been pushing as hard as possible, over a long period of time to have the underlying social determinants of health addressed. Dr Agostino said that while there have been some things that have moved forward with regard to health services during the pandemic, there is still so much to do, “It is about the community-controlled sector being at the table, that is what the priority reforms of the National Agreement are about, they are about switching that relationship in bringing community-controlled organisations, whether they are health or in the social sector to the table to have a greater role in decision-making.”

To view Dr Agostino being interviewed on The Drum (from 17:42 to 30:36 minutes) click here.

Stan Grant host The Drum, panellist Dr Jason Agostino screen shot

ACCHO CEO slams vax misinformation 

Gurriny Yealamuck Health Service Aboriginal Corporation (GYHSAC) CEO Sue Andrews has spoken out strongly against COVID-19 vaccination misinformation. Ms Andrew’s Facebook post (on 25 January 2022) below, which was also featured on the Queensland Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Craig Crawford’s Facebook page, struck back against those spreading the misinformation is GYHSAC’s Facebook post below.

We have all received the email from a member of the Nigerian royal family offering us untold wealth if we help them out with our bank details. We accept this is a scam, in the same way we accept that calls from NBN Technical Support are scams. The latest ‘scam’ circulating on social media relate to the supposed death of Lachlan Leary from a COVID related heart attack.

Gurriny Yealamucka Health Services chief executive Suzanne Andrews spoke out today regarding the impact fake social media posts are having on the health care of her community. “We all know the Nigerian prince emails and NBN Technical Support phone calls are a hoax. They are designed to steal our money. But what’s worse is the fake social media posts like the Lachlan Leary post, posts of this nature are appalling, they are designed to take our most precious, our children,” Ms Andrews stated.

“We commenced our children vaccination rollout earlier this month. In the first week we vaccinated more than 20% of our kids. Unfortunately, the Facebook fake post circulated through our community’s social media pages over the following weekend and we saw our number drop in the second week. The post is fake, totally discredited by Westmead Hospital in Sydney, but the damage has been done. In our community there are some members who have concerns regarding vaccination. These people are targeted by anti-vaxxers pushing their distorted truth with lies. “If you have concerns regarding vaccination, speak to your GP or come and talk to our GPs.”

screenshot of false FB post about child dying from covid-19 vax

Screenshot of Facebook post referred to by GYHSAC Facebook page 25 January 2022.

BDAC reaches vax milestone

Bendigo and District Aboriginal Co-operative (BDAC) recently celebrated a new milestone after successfully vaccinating 89% of the active Indigenous population in the Greater Bendigo region, something Victoria’s COVID commander Jeroen Weimar dropped by to praise their efforts on last week. BDAC CEO Raylene Harradine said the visit from the COVID commander was also to encourage people to get their third booster shot. “Mr Weimar toured our Prouses Road site to see first-hand the work our Aboriginal Health Practitioners have been doing in protect Community against COVID,” she said.

“BDAC was quick to respond to the need to protect community against the virus and we established a vaccination clinic onsite.” Mr Weimar congratulated the team at BDAC on its great results as well as the expansion work that is underway.

To view the Bendigo Advertiser news article in full click here.

BDAC staff Dallas Widdicombe & Jaydene Burzacott in clinic room

Dallas Widdicombe and Jaydene Burzacott preparing for COVID-19 vaccinations at Bendigo and District Aboriginal Cooperative. Photo: Darren Howe. Image source: Bendigo Advertiser.

VACCHO and cohealth partner to roll out vax

Not-for-profit community health service, cohealth, and the Victorian Community Controlled Health Organisation (VACCHO), have partnered to roll out a vaccination road show across regional Victoria. cohealth will this week be offering vaccinations in Orbost, Halls Gap, Stawell, and Ararat for the local community. In the last two weeks cohealth has taken the mobile vaccination clinic to Aboriginal health centres in Swan Hill, Mildura, Kerang and Morwell. Acting CEO, Chris Turner, said that the success of the activity relies on the partnership with VACCHO, and utilising spaces that are familiar and welcoming for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

VACCHO CEO Jill Gallagher is very pleased to be working with cohealth to get the vans back on the road and believes they will be an excellent addition to the great work achieved by ACCHOs across Victoria. “I’ve been so proud of the way the vans have been welcomed with open arms – it has been incredible. We have seen some great outcomes achieved by the ACCO vaccine van. This reflects what trust looks like in the community,” said Ms Gallagher.

To read the media release in full click here.

tile text 'Protect MOB - ACCO COVID VACCINE VAN coming to Orbost! - avail 1st & 2nd does bosters child vax 5-11 years' & logos VACCHO & cohealth

Image source: VACCHO Facebook page.

Healing centre breaking FV cycle

Devon Cuimara left an abusive home and started abusing his own partner until he found a way to break the cycle of family violence. It’s this lived experience that allows him to help others do the same. “I wasn’t born violent. I grew up with violence, and if you grow up with violence it becomes the norm and I believed it to be the norm because everywhere I looked, it was.”

As Devon says, the problem is widespread. A 2018 report by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) found Indigenous women are one of the most at-risk groups for family violence, being 32 times more likely to be hospitalised than non-Indigenous women. And two in five Indigenous homicide victims (41%) were killed by a current or former partner.

Devon now spends his time working as the founder and chief executive of the Aboriginal Males Healing Centre (AMHC), a not-for-profit organisation working to break the cycle of domestic violence in WA’s Pilbara region. The centre is based in Newman, a small mining town almost 1200km northeast of Perth, with a large Indigenous population that has become vulnerable to poverty, alcoholism, drug abuse and domestic violence. The AMHC was born after Devon’s own attempts to use mainstream rehabilitation services fell flat because he says they failed to address decades of intergenerational trauma which dates back to colonisation.

To view the 7 News article in full click here.

Devon Cuimara standing in front of gumtree

Devon Cuimara, founder and chief executive of the Aboriginal Males Healing Centre (AMHC). Image source: 7 News.

Decision should lead to better public housing

The NT court of appeal has upheld a ruling that state-owned housing must be reasonably comfortable to be considered habitable, in a decision that advocates say should result in better housing outcomes for remote communities across the territory. The decision follows a six-year legal battle brought by residents of the Ltyentye Apurte or Santa Teresa community 85km south-east of Alice Springs. The community said inadequate and inhumane housing was due to repeated failures by public housing authorities to conduct necessary repairs.

Seventy residents took the territory government to the NT civil and appeals tribunal over the state of housing in the Eastern Arrernte community in 2016. One of the claimants lived with a blocked toilet and a leaking shower for 269 days and many homes had missing doors, faulty stoves and leaking air conditioners. One resident, Enid Young, went without an air conditioner for 540 days.

To view The Guardian article in full click here.

street scene of Ltyentye Apurte (Santa Teresa) NT

Residents of the Ltyentye Apurte or Santa Teresa community argued inadequate and inhumane housing was due to failures by public housing authorities to conduct repairs. Photo: Grenville Turner, AAP. Image source: The Guardina

First Indigenous orthopaedic surgeon

Australia’s first Indigenous orthopaedic surgeon is a trailblazer, forging a path for young First Nations athletes to overcome injury. A proud Dharug man, Dr Anthony Murray has extensive experience in trauma, joint replacement and general orthopaedic surgery and is passionate about providing the best possible medical attention to his patients.

Dr Murray is a driving force in the First Nations realm through his role in the Australian Orthopaedic Association, as the chair for the Cultural Inclusion Working Group, “Orthopaedics is one of those areas where you get to work with people with an immobility and be able to help them regain movement and their life. That’s what I love about it,” he said.

Growing up in Central Queensland, orthopaedics was not Dr Murray’s first career choice. He was hoping to pave a career as an AFL player, but a knee injury set his course on a different trajectory, “I was playing some regional football and working my way towards that goal and ended up having a pretty bad knee injury.”

To view the Sunshine Coast News article in full click here.

Dr Anthony Murray

An injury changed Dr Anthony Murray’s life and allowed him to help others. Image source: Sunshine Coast News.

New Lifeline service for hard-to-reach

Since 2019, Lifeline has provided Australia’s only Crisis Text helpline, providing support to people in psychological distress. Thanks to a $1.5 million grant from the Australian Government, Lifeline Australia has now been able to fast-track the expansion of text and chat services to 24-hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week to meet demand and increase accessibility for hard-to-reach groups.

Lifeline CEO Colin Seery said that rather than diverting phone calls from the 13 11 14 service, the always-on digital platform has in fact increased the range and total number of people contacting the organisation. This is a landmark in suicide prevention in Australia and is all about bringing help to people who are in situations and environments where accessing support through digital communication is the only safe or viable option, said Mr Seery.

To view Lifeline’s media release in full click here.banner line drawing woman texting text 'what to talk about it? in speech bubble, Lifeline counsellor with headset, Lifeline logo

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.

Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month

Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month is held every February to educate Australians on ovarian cancer, and raise awareness by sharing the stories of real women affected by the disease. One Australian woman dies from ovarian cancer every eight hours.

Cancer Council WA (CCWA) is reminding women in the Pilbara to remain ever vigilant about the changes in their body. CCWA Pilbara regional education officer Anne Johnston said women should pay attention to any unusual, new, persistent or troublesome symptoms. “If you have any of the symptoms and they happen on most days for three weeks or more, particularly if you’re over 50 or have a strong family history of breast or ovarian cancer, go to your doctor or Aboriginal Health Professional and get a check-up,” she said. “You won’t be wasting the doctor’s time and in most cases it won’t be anything to worry about but if it is cancer, your chances of successfully treating it are much greater.”

“More research is required to better understand the causes of ovarian cancer but as with many cancers, there are steps we can take to reduce our overall individual cancer risk, including quitting smoking, maintaining a healthy body weight, getting enough exercise, eating plenty of fruit and vegetables and reducing alcohol intake.” Women are advised to look out for any pain in the lower and side abdomen, irregular periods or bleeding after menopause, back pain, loss of appetite, indigestion or nausea.

For more information about Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month click here and to view the full article in the Albany Advertiser about CCWA’s ovarian cancer awareness raising activities click here.

tile text 'Feb is ovarian cancer awareness month' & image of gloved surgical hands holding paper cut-off female reproductive organs

Image source: Ovarian Cancer Research Foundation website.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Action needed on bullying of doctors in training

Image used in feature tile of doctor. Image source: News.com.au.

Action needed on bullying of doctors in training

AMA calls for legislation to tackle widespread bullying of doctors in training.

The results of the 2021 Medical Training Survey show bullying, harassment and discrimination experienced by doctors in training continues to be widespread and the Australian Medical Association (AMA) calls on state and territories to act now to address the underlying factors that can lead to this type of unacceptable behaviour.

AMA President Dr Omar Khorshid said the survey demonstrated the need to act now to tackle systemic issues impacting the training and wellbeing of doctors in training (DiT).

“Seven out of 10 DiTs experienced bullying, discrimination and harassment saying it had adversely affected their medical training,” Dr Khorshid said.

“Very disturbingly, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander doctors in training reported higher levels of bullying, discrimination and harassment, including racism, compared to non-Indigenous colleagues.”

You can read the AMA media release here.
The 2021 Medical Training Survey is available here.

Aboriginal student medical training, stethoscope to female patient's chest

Growing the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander GP workforce is a fundamental part of Closing the Gap. Image: James Cook University General Practice Training. Image source: newsGP website.

Case study of ACCHO’s holistic model

Culturally Safe and Integrated Primary Health Care: A Case Study of Yerin Eleanor Duncan Aboriginal Health Services’ Holistic Model

To understand the importance of culturally safe integrated primary health care for Aboriginal families in the Central Coast of New South Wales, where their social and emotional wellbeing is impacted through a range of health issues related to domestic and family violence.

You can read the case study in the Journal of the Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet here.

banner text 'Yerin Eleanor Duncan Aboriginal Health Services' & Aboriginal dot painting yellow purple concentric circles surrounded by spokes-like border

Booster recommended three months after primary vax

More than four million additional Australians are now eligible for their COVID-19 booster dose as of yesterday 31 January 2022. This follows the recommendation from the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) to provide booster doses at a minimum of three months after a person has completed their two-dose primary course of vaccination.

“ATAGI made its recommendation to reduce the interval after closely monitoring the epidemiology and characteristics of COVID-19 caused by the Omicron variant. It also considered the emerging data on the need, potential benefits, and optimal timing of a vaccine booster dose to prevent COVID-19 due to this variant,” said Minister Hunt.

“Immunocompromised people who have received three primary doses of a COVID-19 vaccine will be able to receive a booster dose in line with the timing for the general population. ATAGI has also highlighted the importance of boosters for pregnant women.”

You can read the article in the Australian Seniors News here.

Below is a video by the Australian Government Department of Health featuring Dr Mark Wenitong, Aboriginal GP and Public Health Medical Officer, talking about the importance of getting two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine followed by a booster dose.

Ongoing over-incarceration

Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health and Community Services and the ACT Council of Social Service (ACTCOSS) have welcomed news that the average daily number of prisoners in the Alexander Maconochie Centre (AMC) has gone down but expressed deep concern about the ongoing over-incarceration of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people.

The recent Productivity Commission’s Report on Government Services (RoGS) highlighted:

  • Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people make up less than 2% of the general population in the ACT, but 24.4% of the population in the AMC
  • Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people are imprisoned at 19 times the rate of non-Indigenous people, well above the national average ratio of 16
  • Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people are subject to community corrections orders at 12 times the rate of non-Indigenous people and have a much lower completion rate of 69% compared with 78%.

“We need to examine the myriad and complex factors that have led to these appalling outcomes for Aboriginal peoples in the ACT, including a lack of housing, a lack of access to specialist and mental health services and high rates of children in out-of-home care. This is not just a problem in our prison, but across the whole community. We need a whole-of-government response that takes our voices and our pain seriously,” said Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health and Community Services CEO Julie Tongs OAM.

You can download the joint media release by ACTCOSS and Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health and Community Services from 28 January 2022 here.

hands gripping jail cell bars, overlaid with transparent Aboriginal flag

Image source: Amnesty International Australia website.

Aboriginal patient advocacy training

Health Consumers’ Council has partnered with the National Justice Project and The Aboriginal Health Council of WA to develop some training for organisations and workers who work with Aboriginal people, and Aboriginal community, to help support their clients and family, friends and community who are dealing with the health system.

The inequity and injustice that can confront Aboriginal people in our health system can lead to poorer health outcomes and health advocacy plays a big part in addressing these issues.

This training will help people gain a better understanding of the barriers and enablers for Aboriginal people in our health services and systems, a deeper understanding of health rights and the important role of health advocacy.

For further information about the training click here.

BRAMS December 2021 Newsletter

Broome Reginal Aboriginal Medical Service (BRAMS) December 2021 Newsletter is out now covering the following topics:

  • CEO Report
  • New Staff
  • Staff Christmas Lunch and Awards + Kids Christmas
  • NDIS Accreditation
  • World International Disability Day – Seeing the Ability in Disability
  • Staff Profiles
  • COVID-19 Alert
  • NDS Board Appointment
  • New Positions at BRAMS
  • AGM and Board Elections

You can download the BRAMS newsletter here.

 

New process for job advertising

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Free the Flag campaign successful

feature tile text 'free the flag campaign succeeds, Aboriginal flag now free for all to use' & image of Aboriginal man & woman in free the flag t-shirts holding Aboriginal flag aloft

Note: the image is the feature tile is from the Herald Sun.

Free the Flag campaign successful

The iconic flag that has become a symbol of Aboriginal Australia is now freely available for public use, after its designer agreed to transfer copyright to the Commonwealth following long negotiations. Luritja artist Harold Thomas created the flag in 1970 to represent Aboriginal people and their connection to the land, and it has been an official national flag since the end of the last century — but its copyright remained with Mr Thomas.

Anyone who wanted to use the flag legally had to ask permission or pay a fee. Indigenous Affairs Minister Ken Wyatt said following negotiations with Mr Thomas, the flag now belonged to all Australians. “Over the last 50 years we made Harold Thomas’ artwork our own — we marched under the Aboriginal Flag, stood behind it, and flew it high as a point of pride,” Mr Wyatt said in a statement. “Now that the Commonwealth holds the copyright, it belongs to everyone, and no-one can take it away.”

Mr Thomas said he hoped Australians would use the flag with respect and pride. “I hope that this arrangement provides comfort to all Aboriginal people and Australians to use the Flag, unaltered, proudly and without restriction,” he said. “I am grateful that my art is appreciated by so many, and that it has come to represent something so powerful to so many.”

The government has also agreed to establish an annual scholarship in Mr Thomas’s honour worth $100,000 for Indigenous students to develop skills in leadership, and to create an online history and education portal for the flag.

To read the ABC News article in full click here and to listen to an ABC Radio interview with the Free the Flag Free the Flag campaign and Clothing the Gaps CEO Laura Thompson click here.

Aboriginal flag on mast, text 'Breakfast with Sammy J, ABC News'

January 26 – a reminder of health battles

The following is an excerpt from Shahnaz Rind’s Opinion Piece for SBS NITV.  “I decided to become a nurse to change health outcomes for our people and to try to create a sense of equity in Indigenous health. Growing up, I would question why my family and my mob suffer from poor health outcomes compared to non-Indigenous people who had access to some of the world’s best healthcare.

It wasn’t until I was a little older that I started to understand how things were. Addressing racism key to better health outcomes for mob. A new study focusing on kidney disease adds to the growing evidence that suggests addressing institutional racism will improve overall health outcomes for First Nations peoples.

I am surprised by the numbers of non-Indigenous people I speak to, who aren’t aware of the true history behind January 26 and how it has impacted our health. It was the day our country was taken possession of by Captain Arthur Philip. It was the first introduction of the British flag, which was raised on Indigenous land.

This day was the start of our ongoing mental, spiritual and physical health struggle. It’s not one single thing that has caused this; but since the day of the invasion, our levels of health and education have declined, practicing our culture and language was denied and our lands were taken.”

To view Shahnaz Rind’s SBS NITV Opinion Piece in full click here.

RN Shahnaz Rind Rumbalara (VIC) in PPE

Shahnaz Rind is a registered nurse who has been on the frontlines during the pandemic in Victoria. Image source: SBS NITV website.

CAAC calls for urgent public health action 

The Central Australian Aboriginal Congress (CAAC) is calling for more serious and effective public health measures to be put in place urgently; before it’s too late. “We need to see sharp and serious action to respond to growing case numbers in Alice Springs and surrounding Central Australian communities.” said Congress Acting CEO Josie Douglas.

“The lockout isn’t working. People are still moving around, and the virus is still spreading among vaccinated and unvaccinated people. Hospitalisations are now increasing, along with ICU admissions. 78 people in hospital in the NT is the equivalent of 2,800 people in NSW. We are now on a par with NSW but we will pass this peak without decisive action and our health system has less capacity.”

To view the CAAC media release in full click here.

solar powered road sign text 'social distancing applies'

Image source: NT News.

COVID exacerbates regional staff shortages 

Regional health workers are warning the system is struggling under the weight of an increase in COVID-19 cases and staff shortages. Kristy Wilson knows Griffith Base Hospital well. She was born there and has worked there throughout her 25-year nursing career.

Ms Wilson said the hospital in central NSW, like many around the country, was now feeling the pressures of COVID-19 cases and furloughed workers, who were isolating either because they had the virus or were a close contact, “I can honestly say that this is absolutely the worst I have seen it. Staff are now beyond exhausted and tired.”

Federal Regional Health Minister, David Gillespie — a former regional doctor — agreed “the whole health system is under pressure”, but said the federal government had taken steps to address staffing shortages in hospitals around the country. “We’ve set up the private hospital arrangement where not only private hospitals make themselves available if needed — and they are being used by the state governments — but also their staff,” he said. In a statement, NSW Health said the state was actively addressing staffing issues.

To read the ABC News article in full click here.

Dr Simon Quilty demonstrates one of the ventilation pods Purple House constructed. Photo: Xavier Martin, ABC News.

NT COVID-19 surge isn’t unexpected

The number of people in NT hospitals with COVID-19 has doubled in the past week and tripled from the number reported 10 days ago. But experts say the surge isn’t unexpected considering the territory’s “vulnerable” population and caseloads reported over the past fortnight.

Although the territory’s hospitalisation rate has been steadily increasing over the past two weeks, the number of cases reported in the jurisdiction has been gradually dropping.

After looking at the NT’s daily COVID-19 case numbers over the past fortnight, Deakin University chair of epidemiology Catherine Bennett said she wasn’t surprised by the high number of people in hospital with coronavirus. Professor Bennett said if a patient needed hospital-level care because of COVID-19 this typically happened seven and 10 days after their initial positive test result.

“People are often fine for the first week, they might have normal symptoms, but it’s the second week when they might get particularly unwell and maybe have to go to hospital,” she said.

To read the ABC News article in full click here.

Dr Briceno, NT facing press, woman in background wears mask

Dr Briceno says NT health experts expected to see a higher hospitalisation rate. Photo: Dane Hirst, ABC News.

Health staff relieved border opening delayed

While WA Premier Mark McGowan maintains the hospital system is “strong and ready” to deal with COVID-19, he has also pointed to hospitalisations in other states as one of the reasons for delaying the border re-opening. “[The east] has hospitals overflowing with patients, hospitals in meltdown,” he said.“It would be grossly irresponsible of me not to act on that.”

Australian Medical Association president Dr Omar Khorshid said while there has been relief from staff, he didn’t think the delay was the fix that was needed. “The hospital system is not ready, but is it going to be ready in a month?” he said. “We’ve had a couple of years, so I don’t think that’s what we need.”

To view the ABC News story in full click here.

Dr Omar Khorshid fronting press

Dr Omar Khorshid says the decision would buy time “at best”. Photo: James Carmody, ABC News.

COVID-19 vaccine update for Primary Care

The latest in the series of COVID-19 vaccine updates for Primary Care, providing the latest information on the vaccine rollout, will be held from 11:30 AM – 12:00 PM (AEDT) Thursday 27 January 2022.

The panel this week will be: Professor Michael Kidd AM (Chair), Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Department of Health and Dr Lucas de Toca, First Assistant Secretary, COVID-19 Primary Care Response, Department of Health.

GPs and all health professionals are welcome to attend the webinar and can join using this link. If you’re unable to view this webinar live, you can view it on-demand using the same link, within a few hours of the live stream ending.

DoH tile test 'Primary Care COVID-19 Update' blue background with image of virus

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.