Aboriginal Health #CoronaVirus News Alert No 53 : May 4 #KeepOurMobSafe #OurJobProtectOurMob John Paterson CEO AMSANT and Olga Havnen CEO Danila Dilba ACCHO call on the NT Government and the Commonwealth to continue to work closely with Aboriginal organisations and leaders post COVID-19 pandemic.

Governments need to provide the appropriate financial investment into housing, food security, environmental health issues, water, power and primary health — there is gaping holes in our workforce .

This needs to be given priority. We can’t wait for another virus to come along, we’re running on a bloody oily rag.

Aboriginal people have a high risk of chronic disease and make up a high proportion of patients in the health system in the Northern Territory.

It is not unreasonable to assume these patients are significantly represented in statistical evidence in most disease outbreaks.

We are calling on the NT Government and the Commonwealth to continue to work closely with Aboriginal organisations and leaders post-pandemic.

Keep listening, we’ve got a wealth of experience and knowledge ”

Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance of the NT chief executive officer John Paterson 

Originally Published HERE

In the Northern Territory, Aboriginal people are often over-represented in the health system — but it’s a different story for COVID-19, with official data indicating there have been no Aboriginal coronavirus patients in the NT to date.

Key points:

  • There have been just 30 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the NT and no community transmission
  • AMSANT’s John Paterson was “surprised” no Aboriginal people in the NT had tested positive
  • He said the pandemic showed how well governments could collaborate with the health sector

And as the Territory slowly starts to ease coronavirus restrictions, Aboriginal health leaders say now is the time to address some of the fundamental gaps in Aboriginal health care exposed during the pandemic.

Health groups have warned those rates of disease make COVID-19 a higher risk for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, who make up 30 per cent of the NT’s population.

Last week, the NT Health Department said of the 28 cases then recorded in the NT, there had been no Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander patients.

Since then, two Australian Defence Force personnel who returned to Darwin from the Middle East tested positive to COVID-19 but, for privacy reasons, Defence has provided little information about these cases.

Mr Paterson was “surprised” there had been no Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander COVID-19 patients in the NT, but said early measures — such as closing the NT’s borders — helped keep vulnerable Territorians safe from harm.

Dr Heggie explained strict border controls, restriction of non-essential movement into remote communities, mandatory quarantine and physical-distancing requirements had been “highly effective” so far in slowing the spread of COVID-19 in the Northern Territory.

But, “most significantly”, Dr Heggie said there had been no cases of community transmission of COVID-19 in the NT.

Lessons from COVID-19

Mr Paterson was heartened by how quickly and collaboratively the health sector and different tiers of government had worked together during the pandemic.

“One of the other positives I see coming out of this national pandemic, is it shows how quickly things can happen,” he said.

Mr Paterson is calling on the NT Government and the Commonwealth to continue to work closely with Aboriginal organisations and leaders post-pandemic.

“Keep listening, we’ve got a wealth of experience and knowledge,” he said.

Danila Dilba Health Service chief executive officer Olga Havnen agreed.

Ms Havnen said while “decisive action” by the NT Government — such as closing borders and restricting travel — helped protect Territorians, the Aboriginal health sector had been communicating information about COVID-19 and how to stay safe to Indigenous communities and their client groups well ahead of the Australian and NT governments, their agencies and other sectors.

Mr Paterson said one of the reasons COVID-19 health messages had been adopted so well in remote communities was because the posters and advertisements targeting Aboriginal people had been written by Aboriginal people, health groups and organisations.

“This deadly messaging, when our mob see it, they take notice of it,” Mr Paterson said.

We can’t wait for another virus’

The pandemic exposed some of the poor living conditions of people in remote Aboriginal communities, Mr Paterson said, including unreliable power, food insecurity, environmental health issues and shortages in primary health workers.

Ms Havnen said there was a need to address the fundamental problem of poor housing and overcrowded living conditions, which exacerbated the risk and likely potential spread of a pandemic in urban and remote Aboriginal communities.

More broadly, she said COVID-19 exposed major gaps, especially at the national level, in preparing for pandemics.

The Aboriginal primary healthcare sector relies heavily on Medicare billing to fund clinics, equipment and medications and employ staff.

“In the circumstance of a pandemic — where client and staff exposure must be limited, income immediately drops dramatically, just when it is most needed,” she said.

Large communities with about 2,500 or 3,000 people relied on clinics which were poorly staffed, Ms Havnen said, and smaller communities were reliant on fly in-fly out doctors who had been unable to visit due to pandemic conditions.

Although she welcomed the Commonwealth’s investment in telehealth, Ms Havnen pointed out that it wasn’t easy to move services online due to technological challenges, poor connectivity, cost and a lack of equipment.

What about borders and permits?

As restrictions start to ease in the NT, Mr Paterson wants people living in remote communities to to be able to leave without going into isolation upon their return.

“I would like to see free travel throughout the Northern Territory,” he said.

All non-essential travel to the Northern Territory’s 76 remote communities is currently banned and a 14-day isolation period applies for community residents wanting to return home from regional centres.

Ms Havnen said while the staged easing of internal restrictions would be a welcome relief to many, it would need to be done slowly and carefully, balancing the benefits against the risks to very vulnerable populations, especially those in remote communities.

“Widespread testing for COVID-19 is needed if internal border restrictions are to be loosened,” she said.

Mr Paterson said one of the “unanticipated consequences” of the Biosecurity Act was people living in remote areas had struggled to access food and other essential services.

He said the process of getting permits was “causing angst” in remote areas, because people needed to get one permit from the Land Council and one for the Government.

If the permit system couldn’t be removed altogether it should at least be streamlined, Mr Paterson added.

Both Mr Paterson and Ms Havnen agreed the NT’s strict border controls — barring interstate and overseas travellers — should stay in place for the foreseeable future.

“While there are signs of improvement in other states and territories, the NT will need to ensure that strict border controls are maintained until spread of COVID-19 is fully contained nationally,” Ms Haven said.

Chief Minister Michael Gunner has said on multiple occasions the last thing the Government will do is ease border restrictions.

“Opening the borders will happen dead last, I do not want the second wave to come,” he said.

Mr Gunner said these restrictions around remote communities would stay in place until at least June 18, and then it would be up to the Commonwealth, land councils, and communities to lift the restrictions.

“It looks like coronavirus is no match for the oldest living culture in the world,” he said.

What’s next for the NT?

Dr Heggie said NT Health had extensive pandemic plans in place for each region of the NT, including remote health plans, but warned the risk was not over.

“It is still likely there will be new cases of COVID-19 diagnosed in the Territory,” he said.

Ms Haven said the Territory’s challenge now was to avoid becoming complacent and to remain ready for any future COVID-19 cases.

“We consider that the Northern Territory and our community are extremely lucky to have avoided widespread community transmission and are enormously relieved and grateful,” she said.

“The great concern at this point is whether there is a likelihood of a second wave of infection and whether this is a matter of ‘when, not if’. That is a major fear.”

 

Aboriginal #CoronaVirus News Alert No 42 : April 20 #KeepOurMobSafe : #OurJobProtectOurMob : No more time to waste”: 13 Aboriginal organisations including @AMSANTaus @CAACongress demand a guarantee of affordable goods for remote communities now

We urge the national cabinet to take action, before it is too late, because time is all remote Aboriginal communities have on their side in their fight against the virus. We are all affected by this crisis, some more than others when it comes to accessing affordable food.

We want preventative action. This is all about making sure remote Aboriginal people can depend 100% on their one community store as they are not in a position to shop around. We have no more time to waste.”

Central Australian Aboriginal Congress CEO Donna Ah Chee 

Photo above Outback Stores

A coalition of 13 Aboriginal organisations of the Northern Territory* want the national cabinet to immediately guarantee the supply of affordable food and other basics in locked-down remote communities.

Two weeks ago, the commonwealth and NT governments met with major supermarkets, suppliers and three major remote retailers, yet remote community owned stores are still waiting to hear about any government interventions that might flow from that meeting that will take the pressure off.

“We are getting daily reports of remote stores struggling to supply basic goods,” said John Paterson, the CEO of the Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance of the NT.

“Some stores are running out of fresh food three days after their weekly delivery. Under COVID-19 travel restrictions small, community owned stores must suddenly meet 100% of people’s needs across a much greater range of products. Some stores have had to triple their usual orders.

“In recent weeks, the big supermarkets have responded to panic buying down south by sweeping up the bulk of goods from manufacturers and producers. Independent suppliers are struggling to get what they need for remote stores,” said John Paterson.

“We want an agreed proportion of these essential goods set aside for the independent suppliers. This can’t be solved through donated goods. It needs a systemic response from government. “

“Prices in remote community owned stores are also a big issue. This is borne out in every market basket survey. High freight costs and limited purchasing power mean prices can average 60% higher than at major supermarkets.

The coalition of health services, land councils and other Aboriginal organisations is calling for a 20 per cent point-of-sale subsidy of essential food, cleaning and hygiene products, as well as winter bedding and clothing in remote community stores.

“A direct consumer subsidy of selected items is the best way to guarantee that residents who are no longer able to shop around can afford the basics,” said Mr Paterson.

Community stores say invoicing the federal government for 20 per cent of their sales once a fortnight would place the least administrative burden on them.

“Already, remote community residents are taking backroads into regional centres to access essential and affordable supplies they can’t get at home. Towns are where they are most likely to contract coronavirus.”

“We understand fresh fruit, vegetables and meat are not in short supply in the southern states and distributers are actively planning to address current shortages in remote stores in central Australia. It is critically important that we understand how this will work, the CEO of the Central Land Council, Joe Martin-Jard, said.

“However, we believe subsidies on essential goods at point of sale coupled with a supply guarantee will make a huge difference.”

*The coalition includes the Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance of the NT, Central Land Council, Central Australian Aboriginal Congress, NPY Women’s Council, North Australian Aboriginal Justice Agency, Central Australian Aboriginal Alcohol Programmes, Lhere Artepe Aboriginal Corporation, Waltja Aboriginal Corporation, Yeperenye Pty Ltd, Gap Youth Centre, Yipirinya School Council, Central Australian Aboriginal Family Legal Unit and Tangentyere Council.

Aboriginal #CoronaVirus News Alert No 40 : April 17 #KeepOurMobSafe : #OurJobProtectOurMob : Contributions from @NACCHOChair and ACCHO’s @DeadlyChoices @IUIH_ @Apunipima #SouthWest #Yerin #KatherineWest #Nhulundu #Illawarra #Mulungu and @LowitjaInstitut

COVID-19 and ACCHO Intro video : NACCHO Chair Donnella Mills. 

1.Deadly Choices : Australia’s First Urban Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander COVID-19 Testing Clinic opens in Brisbane .

2.Apunipima ACCHO Cape York welcomes Minister Ken Wyatt’s assurances for securing food and other essentials for remote communities.

3.South West Aboriginal Medical Services ACCHO WA keeping our mob safe.

4.Yerin Eleanor Duncan Aboriginal Health Centre ACCHO rapid response to COVID-19.

5.Katherine West Health Board ACCHO NT creates innovative COVID-19 resources.

6. Nhulundu Health Services Gladstone QLD. opens new Drive-Thru Flu Clinic.

7. Illawarra Aboriginal health worker creates rap video to spread COVID-19 message .

8. Check out this deadly COVID-19 rap from Mulungu ACCHO.

9. Lowitja Chair Pat Anderson and CEO Janine Mohamed introduce ” Survivor  COVID19 the musical “.

10.Gallery of COVID-19 on social media images to share. 

See how NACCHO protects our mob Corona Virus Home Page

Read all 40 NACCHO Aboriginal Health and Coronas Virus Alerts HERE

COVID-19 and ACCHO Intro video : NACCHO Chair Donnella Mills 

 

1.Deadly Choices : Australia’s First Urban Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander COVID-19 Testing Clinic

Queensland Minister for Health and Ambulance Services Hon Steven Miles was joined by Member for Longman Terry Young and Deadly Choices Ambassador Steve Renouf at the opening of Australia’s first Commonwealth funded COVID-19 respiratory testing clinic

Pictured above Adrian Carson CEO IUIH ( See TV coverage below ) 

The clinic, funded by the Commonwealth Government, will provide COIVD-19 testing for up to 100 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community members per day, supporting Moreton Bay region’s Indigenous population.

 The Caboolture site was chosen to support the large Indigenous population in the Moreton Bay region, where an estimated 24,000 Indigenous live.

This forms part of IUIH’s wider South East Queensland catchment which is the fastest growing and largest Indigenous region in Australia. South East Queensland is estimated to have close to 100,000 Indigenous people – representing 38% of the entire Queensland and 11% of Australia’s Indigenous population. 

The Respiratory clinic will be run by the Institute for Urban Indigenous Health (IUIH) adjacent to its existing Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Service in Caboolture.  IUIH’s existing Caboolture clinic is one of five clinics operated by IUIH in the Moreton Bay region and one of 20 clinics throughout its South East Queensland IUIH Network.

 This COVID-19 testing clinic is the first of four clinics that will be established across South East Queensland by the IUIH Network, with a second Clinic to commence operations in Woodridge later this week, and Clinics to be established at Booval (West Moreton) and Nerang (Gold Coast).  

 The Caboolture Respiratory clinic will be dedicated to supporting Indigenous clients and marks a significant milestone in the fight against COVID-19 –  being the first Commonwealth funded Indigenous Respiratory clinic of its kind in Australia to support one of the most vulnerable population groups at risk of this pandemic. 

 With Indigenous people significantly overrepresented in the high risk categories for COVID-19 – including through a much higher burden of respiratory and other chronic diseases – it is critical that services such as this Respiratory Clinic are easily accessible to ensure safe and culturally supportive screening and holistic wrap-around support and follow-up care management.

This is particularly important as many Indigenous people are also at elevated risk of social isolation and basic supports at this time, including if requiring quarantine measures.

The Caboolture Respiratory Clinic has been set up to directly support the government’s priority focus on testing all people with a fever or acute respiratory symptoms in this region. This will not only provide an important early intervention response to affected clients, but help to build a much more comprehensive understanding of COVID-19 prevalence in the community.

IUIH has been working closely with Queensland Health and supported by training from Aspen Medical to ensure that everything about the clinic design and practice adheres to the most stringent medical guidelines and protocols, with staff and client safety of paramount concern.

WATCH TV COVERAGE OF OPENING HERE

2.Apunipima ACCHO Cape York welcomes Minister Ken Wyatt’s assurances for securing food and other essentials for remote communities.

Apunipima Cape York Health Council welcomes Hon. Ken Wyatt’s assurances last week that ensuring a reliable supply of essential goods, groceries, pharmaceuticals and other critical supplies to remote communities during the current COVID-19 pandemic is a high priority for the Australian government.

Across Australia, we’ve been asked not to stockpile so that everyone is looked after and that those who are most disadvantaged such as people on low incomes, elderly people, and people with disabilities don’t miss out.

Equally, we need to ensure that stores in remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and other remote areas will still have fair access to wholesale supplies so that people living in these locations don’t miss out.

Read More Here

3.South West Aboriginal Medical Services ACCHO WA keeping our mob safe .

 

4.Yerin Eleanor Duncan Aboriginal Health Centre ACCHO rapid response to COVID-19

For mob in NSW, the role of local Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services (ACCHSs) has been crucial.

From the centre of Sydney to remote corners of the state, Aboriginal Medical Services (AMS) have been working tirelessly to ensure the safety, protection and education of their local communities.

In the Central Coast region of northern NSW, sitting in the town of Wyong is the Yerin Eleanor Duncan Aboriginal Health Centre (Yerin).

Being the only ACCHO in the region, the centre runs over 30 programs in community.

Serving around 5,000 people, Yerin AMS has 3,000 active patients.

CEO of Yerin, Belinda Field, said the organisation had to streamline non-essential services into telehealth very quickly to service their large client base.

“We have been able to encourage many of our Elders or anyone over 50 that have a pre-existing health condition to stay home wherever possible. Even if they do have access to private transport, we still ask them to stay home,” Field said.

“A huge part of our culture is socialising together, and we have lots of support groups we run across youth, Elders, women and men, our cancer support groups, and we are [still] doing it now … all by way of phone.”

Read More Here

5.Katherine West Health Board ACCHO NT creates innovative COVID-19 resources.

 

6. Nhulundu Health Services Gladstone QLD. opens new Drive-Thru Flu Clinic.

The Drive-Thru Flu Clinic is located here in Goondoon Street car park and runs daily from 9.30am through to 3.00pm
Clients with an appointment booking can simply drive into the car park, reverse into a designated car space where our friendly registered nurses will give you a consent form to complete and ask you a few medical related questions.
The nurses will administer the flu vaccination in the comfort of your vehicle to you and/or other passengers.
We would then ask that you hang around for just 15 minutes before you’re on your way. It’s that easy!
Feel free to call reception staff on 4979 0992 to check your eligibility, make your booking and discuss some additional drive-thu info

 

7. Illawarra Aboriginal health worker creates rap video to spread COVID-19 message .

It’s a fun format for a serious message – with the threat of COVID-19 high in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community, who have a lower life expectancy and a higher burden of disease than non-indigenous Australians.

And the idea for the video came about after Mr Wright had a conversation with his uncle in northern NSW.

“My uncle in Walgett has a lot of co-morbidities – diabetes, heart disease,” he said.

“And he was saying that there was plenty of youth still partying, not taking the COVID pandemic seriously.

“So I thought, what can I do to get the message out there in a way that’s fun, but still strong – and that’s when I came up with the idea of a rap video.

Read full report HERE

8. Check out this deadly COVID-19 rap from Mulungu ACCHO

 

9. Lowitja Chair Pat Anderson and CEO Janine Mohamed introduce ” Survivor  COVID19 the musical “

10.Gallery of COVID-19 on social media images to share. 

NACCHO has developed some COVID-19 specific graphics to help promote healthy messaging to help STOP the spread of the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) disease in our communities.

If you would like to use any NACCHO graphics relating to COVID-19, please ensure NACCHO is tagged/mentioned and images are not cropped or altered from its original.

NACCHO will work to ensure that there are accurate links to relevant graphics created by our members and affiliates for public use. If you would like to add your graphics to this page, please contact our team.

10.Gallery of COVID-19 on social media images to share. 

10.Gallery of COVID-19 on social media images to share. 

NACCHO Aboriginal #CoronaVirus News Alert No 39 : April 16 #KeepOurMobSafe : #OurJobProtectOurMob : Anyinginyi ACCHO partners in new report “Fix housing and you’ll reduce risks of coronavirus and other disease in remote Indigenous communities “

” Remote Indigenous communities have taken swift and effective action to quarantine residents against the risks of COVID-19.

Under a plan developed by the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Advisory Group, entry to communities is restricted to essential visitors only.

This is important, because crowded and malfunctioning housing in remote Indigenous communities heightens the risk of COVID-19 transmission.

High rates of chronic disease mean COVID-19 outbreaks in Indigenous communities may cause high death rates. ” 

Originally published in the Conversation

 ” Rapid-testing machines that detect COVID-19 in 45 minutes are being sent to 83 indigenous communities where remote health clinics are currently waiting up to 10 days to find out whether an Aboriginal resident has coronavirus.

Health Minister Greg Hunt has announced the Australian government was investing $3.3m to establish the rapid coronavirus testing program for remote and rural ­Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

The commonwealth is choosing the sites in most need and most at risk with help from state and territory governments and health services, and aims to have 83 ­machines in place by mid-May.”

See full story Part 2 below :  Coronavirus: Rapid tests on way to remote Indigenous communities.

Read full release Here

The “old story” of housing, crowding and health continues to be overlooked. A partnership between the University of Queensland and Anyinginyi Health Aboriginal Corporation, in the Northern Territory’s (NT) Tennant Creek and Barkly region, re-opens this story. A new report from our work together is titled in Warumungu language as Piliyi Papulu Purrukaj-ji – “Good Housing to Prevent Sickness”. It reveals the simplicity of the solution: new housing and budgets for repairs and maintenance can improve human health.

Infection risks rise in crowded housing

Rates of crowded households are much higher in remote communities (34%) than in urban areas (8%). Our research in the Barkly region, 500km north of Alice Springs, found up to 22 residents in some three-bedroom houses. In one crowded house, a kidney dialysis patient and seven family members had slept in the yard for over a year in order to access clinical care.

Many Indigenous Australians lease social housing because of barriers to individual land ownership in remote Australia. Repairs and maintenance are more expensive in remote areas and our research found waiting periods are long. One resident told us:

Houses [are] inspected two times a year by Department of Housing, but no repairs or maintenance. They inspect and write down faults but don’t fix. They say people will return, but it doesn’t happen.

Better ‘health hardware’ can prevent infections

The growing populations in communities are not matched by increased housing. Crowding is the inevitable result.

Crowded households place extra pressure on “health hardware”, the infrastructure that enables washing of bodies and clothing and other hygiene practices.


Read more: Homelessness and overcrowding expose us all to coronavirus. Here’s what we can do to stop the spread


We interviewed residents who told us they lacked functioning bathrooms and washing machines and that toilets were blocked. One resident said:

Scabies has come up a lot this year because of lack of water. We’ve been running out of water in the tanks. There’s no electric pump … [so] we are bathing less …

[Also] sewerage is a problem at this house. It’s blocked … The toilet bubbles up and the water goes black and leaks out. We try to keep the kids away.

A lack of health hardware increases the transmission risk of preventable, hygiene-related infectious diseases like COVID-19. Anyinginyi clinicians report skin infections are more common than in urban areas, respiratory infections affect whole families in crowded houses, and they see daily cases of eye infections.

Data that we accessed from the clinic confirmed this situation. The highest infection diagnoses were skin infections (including boils, scabies and school sores), respiratory infections, and ear, nose and throat infections (especially middle ear infection).

These infections can have long-term consequences. Repeated skin sores and throat infections from Group A streptococcal bacteria can contribute to chronic life-threatening conditions such as kidney disease and rheumatic heart disease (RHD). Indigenous NT residents have among the highest rates of RHD in the world, and Indigenous children in Central Australia have the highest rates of post-infection kidney disease (APSGN).


Read more: The answer to Indigenous vulnerability to coronavirus: a more equitable public health agenda


Reviving a vision of healthy housing and people

Crowded and unrepaired housing persists, despite the National Indigenous Reform Agreement stating over ten years ago: “Children need to live in accommodation with adequate infrastructure conducive to good hygiene … and free of overcrowding.”

Indigenous housing programs, such as the National Partnership Agreement for Remote Indigenous Housing, have had varied success and sustainability in overcoming crowding and poor housing quality.

It is calculated about 5,500 new houses are required by 2028 to reduce the health impacts of crowding in remote communities. Earlier models still provide guidance for today’s efforts. For example, Whitlam-era efforts supported culturally appropriate housing design, while the ATSIC period of the 1990s introduced Indigenous-led housing management and culturally-specific adaptation of tenancy agreements.

Our report reasserts the call to action for both new housing and regular repairs and maintenance (with adequate budgets) of existing housing in remote communities. The lack of effective treatment or a vaccine for COVID-19 make hygiene and social distancing critical. Yet crowding and faulty home infrastructure make these measures difficult if not impossible.

Indigenous Australians living on remote country urgently need additional and functional housing. This may begin to provide the long-term gains described to us by an experienced Aboriginal health worker:

When … [decades ago] houses were built, I noticed immediately a drop in the scabies … You could see the mental change, could see the difference in families. Kids are healthier and happier. I’ve seen this repeated in other communities once housing was given – the change.


Trisha Narurla Frank contributed to the writing of this article, and other staff from Anyinginyi Health Aboriginal Corporation provided their input and consent for the sharing of these findings.

Part 2 :  Coronavirus: Rapid tests on way to remote Indigenous communities

Rapid-testing machines that detect COVID-19 in 45 minutes are being sent to 83 indigenous communities where remote health clinics are currently waiting up to 10 days to find out whether an Aboriginal resident has coronavirus.

There are no known cases of COVID-19 in indigenous communities but health authorities are on high alert for a breakout, particularly in Western Australia, where 11 health workers in the far north Kimberley region tested positive. After a doctor in the Kimberley town of Halls Creek saw Aboriginal patients while he was potentially infectious, those ­patients have been deemed not to be close contacts.

Health Minister Greg Hunt has announced the Australian government was investing $3.3m to establish the rapid coronavirus testing program for remote and rural ­Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

The commonwealth is choosing the sites in most need and most at risk with help from state and territory governments and health services, and aims to have 83 ­machines in place by mid-May.

The test, called the Xpert SARS-CoV-2 test, uses rapid ­technology to detect COVID-19 infections by using a nasal swab polymerase chain reaction test in the early phases of the illness.

“It’s vital we do all we can to protect our rural and remote ­Aboriginal and Torres Strait ­Islander communities,” Mr Hunt said.

“This world-first testing response means that we can continue to stay ahead of the curve when it comes to fighting this virus.

“If an outbreak is detected, local health services can move quickly to protect the community and activate established evacuation procedures.”

Indigenous Australians Minister Ken Wyatt said indigenous people were more vulnerable if they contracted coronavirus.

“There are higher rates of chronic conditions and other health issues in these communities and it can be hard to access healthcare,” Mr Wyatt said

“This means that an outbreak of COVID-19 in an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander community has the potential to be very serious.

“This testing program will help protect indigenous Australians against the virus.”

The program is an initiative of the Kirby Institute, in partnership with Flinders University.

NACCHO Aboriginal #Remote Communities Health and #CoronaVirus News Alert No12 : What key measures and plans have @MiwatjHealth ACCHO undertaken to prevent the introduction of COVID-19 in East Arnhem, Yolŋu, Anindilywaka & Nunggubuyu country.

 ” The Australian and Northern Territory Governments have introduced a range of measures aimed at reducing the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

Miwatj is fully supportive of their approaches and have implemented additional measures to further protect the communities we live in and serve.

In the spirit of transparency Miwatj wishes to summarise some of the key measures we have undertaken to prevent the introduction of COVID-19 into our communities, and the plans that we have in place to support our communities in the weeks ahead.

Currently all our clinics are operating as normal and providing our normal range of services. Clients might notice some pre-checks being conducted prior to entering their clinic.

These measure are simply there to direct people to the appropriate area so they can be seen to.” 

See Miwatj ACCHO Website 

Download plan Here 

MIW COVID-19 Public Statement 200318

See NACCHO Corona Virus Home Page

Read all 11 NACCHO Aboriginal Health and Coronas Virus Alerts HERE

What has Miwatj done in response to COVID-19

  • Miwatj has established a COVID-19 Response Group that is responsible for developing, coordinating and monitoring our response plan. This group is led by our Director of Clinical Services and is meeting regularly.
  • Limited all non-essential staff travel, and introduced strict self-isolation measures on staff travelling to our East Arnhem communities.
  • In conjunction with the NTG; local communities and stakeholders; and other services providers, Miwatj has assisted in the development of Local Pandemic Action Plans for each of the communities in East Arnhem.
  • Miwatj has developed our own Health Centre Activity and Staffing Contingency
  • Undertaken wide-spread community education on hygiene prevention measures, such as handwashing, in our
  • Miwatj has also, in conjunction with ARDS, developed community messaging (in language) about COVID-19 and how increases hygiene practices can minimise the contraction and spread of the infection.

Travel Restrictions

As a provider of health services to very remote communities, Miwatj understand the importance of travel from not only a staffing and delivery of service point of view, but also from the community’s perspective of it being a way of staying connected with family and friends.

However at the same time we know there is serious concern within our communities about COVID-19 and the potential for it to be introduced through people entering the community from outside of East Arnhem.

Therefore Miwatj has introduced restriction on non-essential staff travel and strict self-isolation measures on staff travelling before travelling into East Arnhem communities.

Staff who are returning from overseas have to self-isolate for 14 days in Nhulunbuy (if that is where they live) or in Darwin (if they normal live in our Zone 2 communities of Milingimbi, Galiwin’ku, Ramingining or Gapuwiyak) before recommencing duties or returning to their community.

Staff who are returning from interstate have to self-isolate for 7 days in Nhulunbuy (if that is where they live) or in Darwin (if they normal live in our Zone 2 communities of Milingimbi, Galiwin’ku, Ramingining or Gapuwiyak) before recommencing duties or returning to their community.

Where possible, these staff may work via computer or phone.

Coordinating

Miwatj is committed to working closely with the NTG and key community stakeholders to continually monitor the situation and adjust its existing or introduce new measures to further protect our vulnerable communities.

We have participated in each of the Local Emergency Committee meeting to develop Local Pandemic Action Plans for each of the communities in East Arnhem. These Plans outline the steps that are to be taken in the community once they are activated and who is responsible for certain activities.

In addition to these Local Pandemic Action Plan, Miwatj has developed its own Health Centre Activity and Staffing Contingency Plan. This Plan outlines our response to the pandemic and ensuring the needs of our communities are met while addressing possible reduced staffing levels due to illness and the impact this may have on services.

These plans may impact on how and where we see people, especially those presenting with “flu like” symptoms.

We are reminding people that, where possible, call ahead before attending a medical clinic if you do have “flu like” symptoms.

Community Education

Miwatj, in conjunction with ARDS, has developed community messaging (in language) about COVID-19 and how increases hygiene practices can minimise the contraction and spread of the infection.

These messages have been extensively broadcast on Yolngu Radio and been reinforced with community posters.

Listen HEAR 

Miwatj has also been undertaking wide-spread community education on hygiene prevention measures, such as hand hygiene, personal hygiene, home hygiene and the risks of sharing of cigarettes and drinks with others.

We have done this through a variety of measures, including direct visits to homes, schools, churches, ALPA stores and sport and recreation clubs.

Other resources

We are continuing to monitor the situation closely and are strictly applying the directives as advised by the Australian and Northern Territory Governments.

There is many guideline and directive changes related to COVID-19 and the changes are being issued rapidly and often without warning, therefore we a recommending that for the most up-to-date information on COVID- 19 people should visit both the Department of Health and the SecureNT websites.

NACCHO Aboriginal Remote Communities Health and #CoronaVirus News Alerts :  #APYLands  @Nganampa_Health @NLC_74 #CAAHSN @AMSANTaus @RACGP All ensuring remote communities are resourced , protected and provided with appropriate information #COVID19

 

“As health and medical research organisations, we are calling for an absolute priority to be given to minimising risk and preventing death in communities across central Australia.

A major priority in our endeavours is working with Aboriginal communities and support to the primary health services in the bush and our regional centres.

Things that might work in. the big cities simply won’t work out bush, so we need to focus on local solutions.

Both Aboriginal community-controlled and government primary health services face enormous day-to-day challenges—and we strongly support them as the real heroes of health care in remote Australia, from Aboriginal Health Practitioners, to nurses to allied health workers to doctors, to all staff doing such vital work “

CAAHSN would continue to be informed by COVID19  messaging from AMSANT Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance and the Department of Health.

AMSANT has already been supplying advice to member services, with a focus on updating vaccinations and a focus on day-to-day preventive measure such as had washing.

Read full press release Central Australia Academic Health Science Network Part 2 Below

Graphic above QAIHC

Read all NACCHO Corona Virus Articles HERE

” As GPs try to navigate national guidelines for coronavirus (COVID-19), a number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community leaders have stepped in to manage their own infection control.

For example, in the Northern Territory quite a few communities are putting in place their own procedures around how they’re going to manage it. ’ 

‘[They’re] isolating themselves from [the] outside and I gather even saying, “Actually, we don’t want health professionals coming in at the moment to keep ourselves safe”.’

Dr Tim Senior, Medical Advisor for RACGP Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health, told newsGP. See report part 4 below

“We need to be vigilant and follow these guidelines in order to protect Anangu from this virus,

There have been no known COVID-19 cases among APY Lands residents to date, but the Prime Minister has expressed concern about the vulnerability of those in remote Indigenous communities, including the APY Lands.

During the 2009 A(H1N1) swine flu outbreak, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people made up 11 per cent of all identified cases, 20 per cent of hospitalisations and 13 per cent of deaths. Indigenous people are 8.5 times more likely to be hospitalised during a virus outbreak.”

APY General Manager Richard King has issued the directive to all APY staff and contractors. The directive also has been issued to Nganampa Health Council and major allied non-government organisations. State and Commonwealth government agencies, that are not required to apply for a permit to enter the APY Lands, have been contacted seeking their co-operation.

Mr King said communities on the APY Lands were particularly vulnerable because of well-documented poor health and living conditions. See full press release part 3

Part 1 NLC

“ The NLC supports the NT Government’s call to cancel all non-essential trips to remote communities as it tries to prevent the spread of coronavirus to vulnerable populations and has taken steps to ensure that all NLC employees who have recently travelled overseas do not travel to remote communities unless they have been cleared to do so.

“We agree with the NT Government’s decision to ask all workers to cancel their trips if they are not essential and the same goes for NLC staff,”

NLC CEO Marion Scrymgour.

Part 1 :The Northern Land Council’s Executive Council met today with officials from the Northern Territory Department of Health and the Danila Dilba Health Service’s CEO Ms Olga Havnen to examine strategies and information focused on protecting Aboriginal communities in the NLC’s region from the risk of coronavirus.

The NLC supports the NT Government’s call to cancel all non-essential trips to remote communities as it tries to prevent the spread of coronavirus to vulnerable populations and has taken steps to ensure that all NLC employees who have recently travelled overseas do not travel to remote communities unless they have been cleared to do so.

“We agree with the NT Government’s decision to ask all workers to cancel their trips if they are not essential and the same goes for NLC staff,” said NLC CEO Marion Scrymgour.

Ms Scrymgour will meet with NT Tourism tomorrow (March 13) to discuss how tourism operators can minimise their potential impact on remote communities.

NLC chairman Samuel Bush-Blanasi said the NLC is working closely with the NT Government and health service providers to  working

“We want people to really think about their need to visit remote communities. Especially if they have returned from an at risk country they must not travel to Aboriginal communities and must take every precaution.”

NT Government website COVID19 Information for Aboriginal communities

  • There are currently no suspected cases of COVID-19 in any Territory communities.
  • Residents should stay alert but carry on with normal activities.
  • There is no risk to eating traditional animals and plants.
  • The virus is not spread by mosquito bites.
  • The virus is not spread on the wind.
  • The most important thing for everyone to remember is to maintain hygiene by:
    • Washing your hands
    • Avoid shaking hands with people who may be unwel
    • Stay at a distance of 1.5 m away from someone who is unwell
    • Coughing or sneezing into your elbow
    • Don’t go to crowded places if you’re unwell.
  • If you get sick, go to your health clinic.

Recordings in language

A Coronavirus (COVID-19) Public Health Remote Communities Plan has been developed and distributed to all remote Territory communities. This plan provides high level guidance and each community will tailor their individual plans to suit their specific circumstances and community requirements.

Part 2

At a Council meeting of the Central Australia Academic Health Science Network [CA AHSN] today, a call was made for decisive and urgent action on the prevention of COVID-19 spreading to remote Australian communities, Executive Director Chips Mackinolty said today.

“We are in this together, and we have a collective responsibility at all levels of government and health service delivery to keep people safe,” said Mr Mackinolty.

“As health and medical research organisations, we are calling for an absolute priority to be given to minimising risk and preventing death in communities across central Australia.

“A major priority in our endeavours is working with Aboriginal communities and support to the primary health services in the bush and our regional centres.

“Things that might work in. the big cities simply won’t work out bush, so we need to focus on local solutions.

“We believe it is critical that rapid and extensive testing be rolled out as soon as possible, so that such work is timely and localised. As a first step this should be located in Alice Springs, rapidly followed by other regional centres.

“Of paramount concern is that our health services—already severely under resourced—not be further burdened. Just as happened in the recent bush fire crises, we would see it as essential that Commonwealth-funded remote area health medical workers being brought in to help.

“Both Aboriginal community-controlled and government primary health services face enormous day-to-day challenges—and we strongly support them as the real heroes of health care in remote Australia, from Aboriginal Health Practitioners, to nurses to allied health workers to doctors, to all staff doing such vital work.

“Meanwhile, our research activities will limit fieldwork, and researchers recently overseas will not be allowed to travel remotely. This follows the initiatives already of some of our partner organisations

In any case, we will also seek to follow the recommendations of local Aboriginal community organisations in our work.

“A major priority, from the Commonwealth and NT governments should be a major effort in proving accurate and concise information to Aboriginal people—with a stron

Part 3 MEDIA STATEMENT: APY enacts border protection to reduce coronavirus risk

APY has introduced strict new rules for entry into its remote lands in response to the Federal Government’s concerns about the potential for coronavirus to spread in vulnerable Indigenous communities.

The Executive Board that governs the remote Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Lands, in South
Australia’s far northwest, addressed the threat of a coronavirus outbreak at its latest meeting.

The Board has resolved not to routinely issue entry permits for the next three months to anyone who has:

  • Been in mainland China from 1 February 2020.
  • Been in contact with someone confirmed to have coronavirus.
  • Travelled to China, Iran, South Korea, Japan, Italy or Mongolia.

If a person who wishes to enter the APY Lands has travelled to any of the affected countries, experienced coronavirus symptoms in the previous 14 days, been seen by a doctor and recorded a negative test, they must submit a copy of the test results along with a Statutory Declaration to be considered for an entry permit.

APY has the legal authority to exclude persons from entering the APY Lands pursuant to section 19 of the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Land Rights Act. APY General Manager Richard King has issued the directive to all APY staff and contractors.

The directive also has been issued to Nganampa Health Council and major allied non-government organisations. State and Commonwealth government agencies, that are not required to apply for a permit to enter the APY Lands, have been contacted seeking their co-operation.

Part 4 RACGP 

Media report RACGP Dr Tim Senior : Chronic diseases and a lack of access to culturally appropriate care makes Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people vulnerable to coronavirus.

 

 

NACCHO Aboriginal Health #InternationalWomensDay #EachforEqual #IWD2020 : Our tribute to our 10 Women NACCHO Board of Directors and 71 #ACCHO CEO’s of our majority female workforce

1.National : Donnella Mills – Chair NACCHO and Wuchopperen Health Service   

2.NT: Donna Ah Chee Central Australian Aboriginal Congress

3.NSW: LaVerne Bellear Redfern Aboriginal Medical Service

4.TAS: Raylene Foster Tasmanian Aboriginal Corporation

5.NT: Olga Havnen Danila Dilba Health Service

6.VIC: Karen Heap Ballarat & District Aboriginal Co-operative

7.SA: Willhelmine Lieberwirth South Australia

8.WA: Lesley Nelson South West Aboriginal Medical Service

9.ACT: Julie Tongs Winnunga Nimmityjah Health and Community Service

10. QLD: Gail Wason Mulungu Primary Health Care Service

International Women’s Day 2020 campaign theme is #EachforEqual

An equal world is an enabled world.

Individually, we’re all responsible for our own thoughts and actions – all day, every day.

We can actively choose to challenge stereotypes, fight bias, broaden perceptions, improve situations and celebrate women’s achievements.

Collectively, each one of us can help create a gender equal world.

Let’s all be #EachforEqual.

Aboriginal women are the best advocates and leaders for health and wellbeing in their own families and in the broader community.

They are proving to be effective role models, mentors and influencers for the next generation of Aboriginal female leaders.

Recently NACCHO CEO Pat Turner told a women’s leadership summit (Pictured above in centre )

As mothers, aunts, grandmothers, sisters and daughters, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women have culturally and historically always played a pivotal role in supporting and caring for families in our communities so working in the health sector was a natural progression.

For over 47 years Indigenous health activists like Dr Naomi Mayers, Coleen Shirley (Mum Shirl) Smith AM MBE, Jill Gallagher AO, Vicki O’Donnell, Pamela Mam, and the late Mary Buckskin have been just some of our leaders who have successfully advocated for community controlled, culturally respectful, needs based approach to improving the health and wellbeing outcomes of our people.

See previous NACCHO #IWD Tribute HERE 

As a result of their leadership and years of commitment as role models they have now paved the way for 10 women to be on the NACCHO board, 71 Indigenous women promoted to CEO’s out of 145 Organisations who employ over 6,000 staff with a majority being Indigenous woman

Our ACCHO network has successfully provided a critical and practical pathway for the education, training and employment for many Indigenous women.But much more needs to be done to develop viable career pathways to graduate more Indigenous women doctors, nurses and allied health professionals.

Last year NACCHO, RANZCOG and other medical college Presidents met with the Minister for Indigenous Health and other ministers in Canberra who are all determined to do everything possible to Close the Gap in health outcomes.

Creating career pathways for Indigenous women in our workforce will be a good starting point to continue supporting the theme ” More powerful together ”

1.National : Donnella Mills – Chair NACCHO and Wuchopperen Health Service QLD 

Donnella is a Torres Strait Islander woman with ancestral and family links to Masig and Nagir in the Torres Strait.

She is a Cairns–based lawyer with LawRight, a Community Legal Centre which coordinates the provision of pro-bono civil legal services to disadvantaged and vulnerable members of the community. Donnella is currently the project lawyer for the Wuchopperen Health Justice Partnership through a partnership with LawRight. This innovative Health Justice Partnership is an exciting model of providing access to justice, where lawyers and health professionals collaborate to provide better health outcomes and access to justice for patients with legal issues.

Donnella said she was “very excited about the opportunity to contribute to working the new Chairperson, the new board and the NACCHO Executive to drive the national health debate, develop community led solution, and to champion why Community-Controlled is the pinnacle model in achieving greater autonomy and self-determination for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Utilising a legal lens in which to view health, social justice, human rights, and access to justice, my commitment is to deliver expanded and enhanced innovative health services that are community driven and community led, addressing core systemic social determinant issues that have a direct impact on our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.”

2.NT: Donna Ah Chee CEO Central Australian Aboriginal Congress

Ms Ah Chee is the Chief Executive Officer of the Central Australian Aboriginal Congress Aboriginal Corporation, the Aboriginal community controlled primary health care service in Alice Springs.

Ms Ah Chee is a Bundgalung woman from the far north coast of New South Wales and has lived in Alice Springs for over 25 years.

She has been actively involved in Aboriginal affairs for many years, especially in the area of Aboriginal adult education and Aboriginal health. In June 2011, Ms Ah Chee moved to Canberra to take up the position of Chief Executive Officer of the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisation before returning to Congress in July 2012.

Ms Ah Chee convened the Workforce Working Party under the Northern Territory Aboriginal Health Forum, was Chairperson of the Central Australian Regional Indigenous Health Planning Committee, a member of the Northern Territory Child Protection External Monitoring Committee and jointly headed up the Northern Territory Government’s Alcohol Framework Project Team.

She currently sits on the National Drug and Alcohol Committee and at a local level, represents the Congress on the People’s Alcohol Action Coalition.

3.NSW: LaVerne Bellear CEO Redfern Aboriginal Medical Service

LaVerne Bellear a descendant from the Nunukle Tribe of south-eastern Queensland, grew up in the northern part of the Bundjalung Nation (north coast New South Wales).

LaVerne strongly believes that empowering Aboriginal people will create opportunity to make better informed decisions and choices regarding personal management of health care, ultimately resulting in better health outcomes. LaVerne has extensive experience in Aboriginal health, having worked in community health, Aboriginal controlled health services and as the Director, Aboriginal Health, Northern Sydney Local Health District.

Recently, LaVerne has taken up the position of CEO, Aboriginal Medical Service Cooperative at Redfern, New South Wales.

She has been a state representative on a number of working parties and committees concerning Aboriginal health. LaVerne has a Bachelor of Business, a Professional Certificate in Indigenous Research in Training and Practices and is studying a Master of Public Health at The University of New South Wales.

4.TAS: Raylene Foster Tasmanian Aboriginal Corporation

Raylene Foster is a palawa women from the Cygnet area. She commenced her career in hospitality, becoming a chef, and then moved into adult teaching within the TAFE institute.

Raylene took on a six-month secondment to Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre in 1995 and stayed; she has now been with the TAC for over 20 years

She’s had varying roles within the TAC, including the Director of the Aboriginal Community School, Workforce Development Officer, Emotional and Social Wellbeing Coordinator and over the past 15 years the Manager of the Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre in the South, which includes the Aboriginal Health Service.

Raylene has a Graduate Certificate in Administration and an Advanced Diploma in Human Resources, as well as Diploma of Alcohol and Other Drugs and Mental Health and a facilitator in the SMART Recovery program. Raylene is passionate about children’s wellbeing and keeping families connected to break the cycle of institutionalisation, separations and trauma-related illnesses.

Raylene’s Abstract For This Months Rural Health Conference in Hobart 

See Website 

The Aboriginal cultural camp was an initiative that commenced in 2016 for Tasmanian registrars, GPs and members of the Tasmanian Aboriginal community. We wanted to go beyond the basic requirements of attendance at cultural training, to offer an immersion in to Aboriginal culture, on Aboriginal country, with mutual benefit for the Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal communities.

The camp is held annually at trawtha makuminya, Aboriginal-owned land in the Central Highlands of Tasmania, from a Friday afternoon until a Sunday afternoon. Registrars, General Practitioners, Practice Staff and General Practice Training Tasmania staff and family members attend, in addition to the TAC staff Camp Organisers and Caterers, Cultural and Land Educators, Elders and community members.

The weekend involves an official welcome speech, dance and music, yarning around the campfire, guided walks with discussion about Aboriginal history, the land and stone tools, kayaking, basket weaving, hand stencilling, clap stick making, and a session of “You Can’t Ask That”. There is a medical education session and participants hear from an Aboriginal Health Worker and Aboriginal Enrolled Nurse about the services offered by the Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre.

There is a lot of informal discussion about culture and life stories shared by both the adults and the children.

The feedback given to date, both informally and through the evaluation forms, is overwhelmingly positive. Participants value the beautiful location, the opportunity to spend time with community members outside the clinical setting, the obvious connection to country displayed by the Aboriginal community and the sharing of stories in a cultural exchange.

5.NT: Olga Havnen CEO Danila Dilba Health Service Darwin 

Olga is of Western Arrente descent and grew up in Tennant Creek. Her great-grandfather was Ah Hong, a Chinese cook who worked on the Overland Telegraph Line[2] whose partner was an Aboriginal woman in Alice Springs.

Their daughter Gloria, Havnen’s grandmother, was the first Aboriginal woman to own a house in Alice Springs. Havnen’s father was a Norwegian sailor who jumped ship in Adelaide and her mother, Pegg lived in Tennant Creek. Havnen went to boarding school in TownsvilleQueensland.[3]

Olga Havnen has held positions as the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Programs Co-ordinator for the Australian Red Cross, Senior Policy Officer in the Northern Territory Government’s Indigenous Policy Unit, Indigenous Programs Director with the Fred Hollows Foundation, and Executive Officer with the National Indigenous Working Group.

And was the Coordinator General of Remote Service Provision from 2011 until October 2012, when the Northern Territory Government controversially abolished the position.[4]

She released one report which detailed deficiencies in Northern Territory and Commonwealth Government’s service provision to remote communities in the Northern Territory.[5]

She is currently the Chief Executive Officer of the Danila Dilba Health Service in Darwin, an Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Service.[1]

Havnen gave evidence at the Royal Commission into the Protection and Detention of Children in the Northern Territory critical of the outcomes and delivery of the Northern Territory National Emergency Response, commonly referred to as the Intervention stating “the experience of the Intervention was such a debacle you’d never want that repeated, but I do think that there is a role for the federal government in here in the Northern Territory”,

6.VIC: Karen Heap Ballarat & District Aboriginal Co-operative : Chair VACCHO 

Karen Heap, a Yorta Yorta woman, has been the CEO of Ballarat and District Aboriginal Cooperative for 12 years and brings with her a vast amount of knowledge and skillsets procured from extensive experience within the Aboriginal Service Sector.

Karen Heap was recently the winner of the Walda Blow Award ( pictured above )

This award was established by DHHS in partnership with the Victorian Commissioner for Aboriginal Children and Young People, in memory of Aunty Walda Blow – a proud Yorta

Yorta and Wemba Wemba Elder who lived her life in the pursuit of equality.

Aunty Walda was an early founder of the Dandenong and District Aboriginal Cooperative and worked for over 40 years improving the lives of the Aboriginal community. This award recognises contributions of an Aboriginal person in Victoria to the safety and wellbeing of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander children and young people.

Karen ensures the safety and wellbeing of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander children and young people are always front and centre.

Karen has personally committed her support to the Ballarat Community through establishing and continuously advocating for innovative prevention, intervention and reunification programs.

As the inaugural Chairperson of the Alliance, Karen contributions to establishing the identity and achieving multiple outcomes in the Alliance Strategic Plan is celebrated by her peers and recognised by the community service sector and DHHS.

Karen’s leadership in community but particularly for BADAC, has seen new ways of delivering cultural models of care to Aboriginal children, carers and their families, ensuring a holistic service is provided to best meet the needs of each individual and in turn benefit the community.

7.SA: Willhelmine Lieberwirth South Australia 

 

A Kokatha and Antakirinja woman, Wilhelmine honours her rich family ancestry. She has worked in human services roles, most recently as an Aboriginal Cultural Consultant with Child and Family Health Services and has been instrumental in the Safely Sleeping Aboriginal Babies in South Australia.

Wilhelmine and her family have lived in Whyalla for generations and have been active participants advocating on local health matters, including supporting the local ACCHO Nunyara Aboriginal Health Service Inc.

8.WA: Lesley Nelson CEO South West Aboriginal Medical Service

SWAMS are united by the drive and passion to provide culturally safe, accessible and holistic health care to the Aboriginal people of the South West. WA

As an organisation, they continue to attract and employ culturally appropriate and professional staff members. SWAMS employs over 70 staff members including specialist Aboriginal Health Practitioners, Dietitians, Nurses, Midwives, Mental Health workers and Social Workers and because of this, we are able to provide a large and diverse range of services to the community.

In addition to this, they strive to create Aboriginal career pathways and opportunities across the sector and maintain a positive percentage of ATSI employees

Last year as preparations got underway for the South West Aboriginal Medical Service’s 20th anniversary, centre chief executive officer Lesley Nelson has reflected on how far indigenous health has advanced in the South West in that time.

Ms Nelson said the centre started small with a handful of staff and a desire to improve Aboriginal health outcomes in the region.

Over the next 20 years, it expanded with clinics in Bunbury, Busselton, Manjimup, Collie and Brunswick.

“We started after local elders held discussions with a number of key groups about developing a culturally appropriate service to address the health-related issues of the South West’s Indigenous population,” she said.

“Since then we’ve gone from strength-to-strength, offering a number of employment opportunities in the sector, training programs and improved health outcomes.”

Ms Nelson said the local service played an important role in the community.

“Being based in a number of country towns ensured locals can access our services conveniently, especially if they lack transport options to the bigger cities,” she said.

“We offer an important service because we intervene and manage issues early on and slowly we are improving the health of the South West Noongar people.

“We are also standing out nationally when it comes to maternal and child health.”

Moving forward, SWAMS are keen to continue growing, participating in more research studies and working collaboratively with other similar services to offer a whole of community approach to improved health.

9.ACT: Julie Tongs Winnunga Nimmityjah Health and Community Service

Julie Tongs OAM has been the Chief Executive Officer of Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health and Community Services since 1998.  Julie has more than 30 years experience working in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander affairs and in particular has extensive experience in advising, formulating, implementing and evaluating public health initiatives, programs and policy at a local, regional and national level.

Julie has been a national leader and strong advocate of quality improvement initiatives within the Aboriginal Community Controlled sector.

Julie is the recipient of a number of awards, including the ACT Governor General’s Centenary Medal and the ACT Indigenous Person of the Year. In 2011 Julie received the ACT Local Hero Award within the Australian of the Year Awards 2012, and in 2012 Julie was honoured with the Medal of the Order of Australia.

Julie’s vision is that Winnunga continues to build on its reputation as a national leader in the provision of holistic primary health care services delivered in a culturally appropriate environment that achieves improved health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Julie is committed to ensuring that Winnunga offers services that are delivered consistent with best practice standards.

10 .QLD: Gail Wason Mulungu Primary Health Care Service

We see the best way to build capacity and capability within our corporation is by encouraging strong leaders, maintaining effective governance, ensuring strong systems, and keeping focused on accountable performance management.

Mulungu help our clients to make informed decisions. We work in health but we also work across education and job opportunities. Our model supports individuals who want to do the best for themselves, their family and their community.’

CEO Gail Wason.

Gail is the Chief Executive Officer of Mulungu Primary Health Care Service in Mareeba. She has over 25 years’ experience in Aboriginal affairs and health, and an unwavering commitment to improving the health and wellbeing of her community.

Gail strives to ensure that the community has access to the full range of high quality, culturally appropriate primary health care services that empowers clients to fully participate in the management of their own health.

She has served as QAIHC’s Far North Queensland Director and Chairperson of QAIHC’s Finance Committee and has worked closely with the Board for many years.

Mulungu Aboriginal Corporation Medical Centre is an Aboriginal community-controlled health organisation working to improve the lives of Indigenous people in and around Mareeba.

The centre was established in 1991 and incorporated under the CATSI Act in 1993.

The rural town of Mareeba—a word from local Aboriginal language meaning ‘meeting of the waters’—is located on the Atherton Tablelands where the Barron River meets Granite Creek. Traditionally Muluridji people inhabited this land.

‘Although the bright lights of Cairns are only 65 kilometres away we feel like a stand-alone, small country town,’ says chair of the Mulungu board of directors (and valued volunteer) Alan Wason. ‘We have a population of 10,000 and our own identity separate from Cairns.’

The town of Mareeba may be a little tucked away but it has much to offer, including Mulungu Aboriginal Corporation Medical Centre—a bright, open, modern building—which employs a large professional staff who work as a team and support each other. Everyone is passionate about providing top quality holistic health care to the community through Mulungu’s programs and services.

Mulungu’s mission is to provide comprehensive primary health care to the community in culturally, socially and emotionally appropriate ways. It’s about handing back power to the people to manage their own health, wellbeing and spiritual needs. So as well as providing clinical health care services Mulungu ‘auspices’ other important primary health care programs, including the Mareeba Children and Families Centre (CFC), Mareeba Parent and Community Engagement (PaCE) Program, and the Mareeba Young and Awesome Project (MY&A).

The MY&A Project tackles the problem of binge drinking in the community. Its aim is to motivate young people (aged 12 to 25) to get involved in constructive activities that they might enjoy—and to get them away from drinking alcohol. This two-year project is funded by the Australian Government.

‘We help our clients to make informed decisions,’ says Gail Wason. ‘We work in health but we also work across education and job opportunities. Our model supports individuals who want to do the best for themselves, their family and their community.’

It’s all about changing and improving lives.

To learn more about Mulungu Aboriginal Corporation Medical Service visit http://mulungu.org.au.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News ALERT : @CREATE_NHMRC Resource Launch – Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations in Practice: Sharing ways of working from the ACCHO sector

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News : Read / Download Press Release responses to the 2020 #ClosingtheGap Report from #CoalitionofPeaks @closethegapOZ @NATSILS_ @SNAICC @SenatorSiewert @CAACongress @RACGP

“ These Closing the Gap reports tell the same story of failure every year

The danger of this seemingly endless cycle of failure is that it breeds complacency and cynicism, while excusing those in power.

People begin to believe that meaningful progress is impossible and there is nothing governments can do to improve the lives of our people.

The truth is that the existing Closing the Gap framework was doomed to fail when it was designed without the input of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. We know what will work best for our communities and the Prime Minister even acknowledges in this report that our voice was the missing ingredient from original framework.

The Coalition of Peaks has signed a formal partnership agreement with every Australian government, where decision-making on design, implementation and evaluation of a new Closing the Gap framework will be shared. Through this partnership, the Coalition of Peaks has put forward structural priority reforms to the way governments work with and deliver services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Governments say they are listening to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. However, the true test in listening is translating the priority reforms into real, tangible and funded actions that make a difference to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people right across our country.

This historic partnership could be the circuit-breaker that is needed. However, if they view this process as little more than window dressing for the status quo, the cycle of failure evident in today’s report is doomed to continue.”

Pat Turner, CEO of NACCHO and Co-Chair of the Joint Council on Closing the Gap, said that governments need to learn from these failures, not continue to repeat them.

Read Download the full Coalition of Peaks Press Release HERE

Read previous NACCHO Communiques this week

1.Coalition of Peaks Editorial Pat Turner

2.PM Launches CTG Report ( Download )

3.PM CTG Full Speech

4.Opposition response to CTG Report

“Every year for the last 12 years we have listened to a disappointing litany of failure – it’s not good enough, Indigenous Australians deserve better.

We are heartened by the developments last year with COAG and the Prime Minister agreeing to a formal partnership with the Coalition of Peaks on the Closing the Gap strategy.

Indigenous involvement and participation is vital – when our peoples are included in the design and delivery of services that impact their lives, the outcomes are far better.

However, now that partnership is in place, Australian governments must commit to urgent funding of Indigenous healthcare and systemic reform.

Preventable diseases continue to take young lives while unrelenting deaths in custody and suicide rates twice that of other Australians continue to shame us all.

As governments reshape the Closing the Gap strategy, we cannot afford for the mistakes of the past to be repeated.

Close the Gap Campaign co-Chairs, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner June Oscar AO and National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Worker Association (NATSIHWA) CEO Karl Briscoe, have called on the government to invest urgently in health equity for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples

Download full Close the Gap campaign press release HERE

Close the Gap Campaign response to CTG Report

” There was one glaring omission from the Prime Minister’s Closing the Gap speech this week. Housing did not rate a mention. Not a word about action on Aboriginal housing or homelessness.

Housing was not even one of the targets, let alone one we were meeting, but it must be if we are to have any chance of finally closing the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians on all the other targets for life expectancy, child mortality, education and jobs.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people make up 3 per cent of Australia’s population but 20 per cent of the nation’s homeless. Aboriginal people are 2.3 times more likely to experience rental stress and seven times more likely to live in over-crowded conditions than other Australians.”

James Christian is chief executive of the NSW Aboriginal Land Council.

“For the first time ever, there is a commitment from all Australian governments, through COAG, to work with Aboriginal leaders through the peak bodies of Aboriginal organisations to negotiate key strategies and headline indicators that will make a difference.

So long as the negotiations continue in good faith and we stay the course together this should lead to a greater rate of improvement in coming years. Of this I am sure.

There is a commitment to supporting Aboriginal people by giving priority to our own community controlled organisations to deliver the services and programs that will make a difference in our communities while at the same time ensuring mainstream services better meet our needs”

Donna Ah Chee, Chief Executive Officer of the Central Australian Aboriginal Congress : Read full Report Part 1 below.

“Today is another day we reflect on the Federal Government’s inability to meet the Closing the Gap targets.

This report clearly shows that the gap will continue to widen if reforms aren’t translated into tangible, fully funded actions that deliver real benefits to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people throughout the country.

The report reveals that progress against the majority of Closing the Gap targets is still not on track. The gap in mortality rates between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and non-Indigenous

Australians increased last year and there are very worrying signs on infant mortality.

The Federal Government needs to commit to funding solutions to end over-imprisonment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and they must be implemented alongside other areas of disadvantage in the Closing the Gap strategy – health, education, family violence, employment, housing – in order to create real change for future generations.”

Cheryl Axleby, Co-Chair of NATSILS.

“We are deeply concerned about the Federal Government’s decision to not continue funding for remote Indigenous housing. Access to safe and affordable housing is essential to Closing the Gap,”

Nerita Waight, Co-Chair of NATSILS.

Download the full NATSILS press release HERE

NATSILS response CTG Report

” SARRAH welcomes the bipartisan approach by Parliamentarians who committed to work genuinely and collaboratively with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders.

The potential contribution of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians is far greater than has been acknowledged or supported to date.

There are many organisations working hard to close the gap, such as Aboriginal community controlled health organisations right across Australia, and Indigenous Allied Health Australia, the national Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peak allied health body.

Governments, through COAG, working with the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Coalition of Peaks have the opportunity to reset the trajectory.”

Download SARRAH Press Release

Media Release SARRAH Closing the Gap

“ Many of our communities are affected by a range of adverse experiences from poverty, through to violence, drug and alcohol issues and homelessness.

Without an opportunity to heal from the resultant trauma, its impact can deeply affect children’s brain development causing life-long challenges to the way they function in the world.

It is experienced within our families and communities and from one generation to the next.

We need urgent action to support better outcomes and opportunities for our children.

SNAICC CEO, Richard Weston

Download the full SNAICC press release HERE

SNAICC Response to CTG Report

“Mr Morrison will keep failing First Nations peoples and this country until a genuine commitment to self-determination is at the heart of closing the gap.

The Prime Minister’s same old “welfare” rhetoric indicates that the Government really hasn’t got it.   While they say they are committed to the COAG co-design process the PM ignores the point that it is his Government continuing to drive discriminatory programs such as the Cashless Debit Card, the CDP program, ParentsNext and who are failing to address the important social determinants of health and wellbeing.

There are a few things this Government needs to do before they just “get people into jobs”, like invest in the social determinants of health and wellbeing and a housing first approach.”

Australian Greens spokesperson on First Nations peoples issues Senator Rachel Siewert

Download the full Greens press release HERE

The Greens Response to CTG Report

” Australia’s efforts to close the gap are seemingly stuck in a holding pattern.

Though Prime Minister Scott Morrison has hailed the beginning of a ‘new era’ of improving the health and life expectancy of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the launch of the 12th Closing the Gap report, the results are all but unchanged.”

Read RACGP editorial

Part 1 : Donna Ah Chee, Chief Executive Officer of the Central Australian Aboriginal Congress

Continued

“It’s also important to recognise that there has been progress here in Central Australia both over the longer term and more recently. Since 1973, the number of Aboriginal babies dying in their first year of life has reduced from 250 to 10 per 1000 babies born, and life expectancy has improved on average around 13 years.

As recently as 2019 we have seen significant improvements across multiple areas.

“Alice Springs has experienced a remarkable 40% reduction in alcohol related assaults and a 33% reduction in domestic violence assaults. This is 739 fewer assaults year on year, or 14 fewer assaults per week”.

“There has been a 33% reduction in alcohol related emergency department presentation which is 1617 fewer presentations year on year or a reduction of 31 per week. Corresponding with this, there has been a decline in hospital admissions and, as noted in the MJA recently, ICU admissions. These are dramatic improvements,” she said.

“The proportion of babies born of low birth weight has halved and the rates of childhood anaemia and anaemia in pregnancy have declined markedly.”

“In addition to this the number of young people who reoffend and therefore recycle through youth detention has dropped dramatically.”

“Combining all of these factors, we are closing the gap on early childhood disadvantage and trauma and this will make a big difference in coming years in other health and social outcomes.”

There are however, still many issues to be addressed, especially with the current generation of young people, as too many have already experienced the impacts of domestic violence, trauma and alcohol and other drugs. Unfortunately, this has led to the youth issues experienced now in Alice Springs.

The NT government recently advised Congress that they are implementing strategies that are aimed at making an immediate difference while at the same time we know key strategies that will make a longer-term difference are already in place. New immediate strategies include:

  1. 14 additional police undertaking foot patrols and bike patrols in the CBD
  2. Police now taking young people home where it is safe to do so, rather than telling them to go home themselves
  3. The employment of two senior Aboriginal community police officers from remote communities and the recruitment of three others in town and two at Yuendumu
  4. The flexible deployment of the YOREOs to meet peaks in the numbers of young people out at different hours of the night
  5. The much more active deployment of the truancy officers to ensure all young people are going to school.
  6. Access to emergency accommodation options for young people at night

While progress overall is slower than it should be, it is important to acknowledge the successes we are having because of the good work of many dedicated community organisations and government agencies working together in a supportive environment, where governments are adopting evidence based policies.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health Alert for ACCHO members and our communities affected by bushfires : Download @FireRecoveryAU National Bushfire Recovery Agency Fact Sheets #BushfireRecoveryAU

Since the bushfire season began back in October in northern NSW , NACCHO has been working closely with the Federal Government , AH&MRC ,VACCHO , Winnunga and AHCSA Members to support the information sharing about emergency alerts , evacuations , fundraising and support on all our social media platforms ( See our report Part 3 Below ).

The bushfire season is far from over with Katungul ACCHO deciding to close both our Batemans Bay and Narooma offices this Friday, 31 January 2020. ( See Part 4 Below ).

Part 1 National Bushfire Recovery Agency

In the past few weeks after our CEO Pat Turner met with the Prime Minister on two occasions , NACCHO was invited to a forum hosted by the Agency ( See report Part 2)

The National Bushfire Recovery Agency (the Agency) has been established to lead and coordinate a national response to rebuilding communities affected by bushfires across large parts of Australia.

View the agency website HERE 

These factsheets provided by the agency to assist bushfire affected communities in their understanding of the recovery assistance and financial support available to them.

Download the 2 key factsheets HERE

Assistance for Families – Fact sheet 2020 01 23

Mental Health Assistance fact sheet 2020 01 23

These factsheets are also available on the Agency’s website along with additional information on relief and recovery measures.

Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services

Culturally appropriate, comprehensive primary health care services are available through local Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services or Aboriginal Medical Services. Most of these services provide access to a general practitioner, nurse or Aboriginal Health Worker.

Visit HealthDirect to find your nearest Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Service or Medical Service.

Additional support for Indigenous Australians

The National Indigenous Australians Agency (NIAA) is available to assist Indigenous Australians and their communities, organisations and businesses get access to supports and services – contact details are available through the NIAA support to bushfire affected communities page.

The Australian Government’s Indigenous Business Australia (IBA) is providing a $2,000 bushfire crisis grant for home loan and business finance customers directly impacted by the recent bushfires. IBA is also temporarily suspending loan repayments for those affected and will assist customers who need help with insurance claims. This assistance can be accessed through the Indigenous Business Australia’s Assistance for bushfire affected customers page.

See our support for small business page for information on other support for bushfire-affected Indigenous corporations.

Immediate support for people directly affected by the bushfires is available now, and we are encouraging everyone to check their eligibility for the Australian Government Disaster Recovery Payment and Disaster Recovery Allowance by calling the disaster payments hotline on 180 22 66.

Families and individuals

The Australian Government has put measures in place so that families and individuals affected by bushfires can access resources quickly to ease the stress during the recovery phase.

Services Australia have special arrangements in place to help bushfire affected communities, including Mobile Service Centres and Mobile Service Teams. They can help you access all Australian Government payment services.

On these agency pages you can find Click Here

  • Australian Government Disaster Recovery Payment
  • Disaster Recovery Allowance
  • Back to school, early education and care assistance
  • Child Care Assistance
  • Additional support for volunteer firefighters
  • Support for job seekers
  • Emergency relief
  • Financial counselling
  • Other financial help after a bushfire
  • Health advice
  • Mental health support
  • Medicare
  • Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services
  • Air Quality
  • Telecommunications and energy
  • Additional support for Indigenous Australians
  • Tax exemption for Disaster Relief Payments
  • ATO administrative relief
  • Other support measures
  • National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS)
  • Lost or destroyed passports or citizenship certificates
  • Redeeming damaged banknotes
  • Bushfires Disaster Emergency Declaration

Part 2

The “deep sorrow” caused by the bushfires was the first item of discussion when the prime minister, Scott Morrison, met with the nation’s peak Aboriginal organisations on Thursday to agree on three major reforms to the way the government works with Indigenous communities.

The coalition of more than 50 peak Aboriginal community organisations told Morrison of the “deep sorrow that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people right across the nation feel at the scarring of their country and loss of wildlife”.

The meeting “recognised the significant role that cultural burning, led by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, can play in expertly managing the impacts of bushfires in the future”.

Indigenous groups tell Scott Morrison of ‘deep sorrow’ at bushfire devastation

Part 3

Over the past 2-3 weeks NACCHO social media has been supporting AHMRC, VACCHO, Winnunga ACT and ACCHO members and communities in the impacted fire zones with a wide range of news ,crisis information sharing , fundraising and wide range of support.

Plus supporting many ACCHO members and supporters who organised donations and other support.

Assisted $1.4 Million Go Fund Me  plus VACCHO GEGAC and Illawarra

On Facebook alone we have shared over 90 posts that attracted over 60,000  engagements (shares, likes and comments ) See Pages 3-9.

Download the full report 

NACCHO Social Media Report support for Members during fire Crisis V

One post alone about the all female Indigenous fire crew in East Gippsland attracted over 14,00O likes etc

Part 4

Based on information provided this afternoon by the Eurobodalla Emergency Operations we have decided to close both our Batemans Bay and Narooma offices this Friday, 31 January 2020.

Extreme conditions are forecast for Friday and Saturday and we must consider the safety of our staff and clients.

See Facebook for updates

Please take care, stay safe and keep up to date with information from the RFS, Eurobodalla Council and your Fires Near Me app. Thank you all for your understanding and patience during this difficult time.