A new report published by Lowitja Institute provides a blueprint for placing culture at the core of policies affecting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, showing how the cultural determinants of health can be implemented into policy and practice.
Lowitja institute CEO Dr Janine Mohamed said the report Culture is key: towards cultural determinants-driven health policy outlines how culture is a protective factor for health and wellbeing and needs to be integrated and valued within health policy frameworks and programs, and also in broader government policies. “For Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, the cultural determinants are an essential part of our identity and are protective factors of health and wellbeing, anchored in ways of knowing, doing and being that have continued for tens of thousands of years,” she said. “However, this holistic concept of health is often neglected in government approaches to our health and wellbeing because it does not align with dominant culture or western perspectives and is not understood or fully appreciated by policymakers,” she said.
Dr Mohamed said the new Closing the Gap National Agreement and the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan refresh offer a unique window of opportunity for the government to invest in cultural determinant-driven whole-of-government policy.
To view the Lowitja Institute’s media release in full click here.
Lowitja Institute is hosting a webinar on Thursday 29 April 2021 to support the release of the report. For more details or to register for the webinar, click here. For more information about the report or to arrange an interview with Dr Janine Mohamed, please contact Amy Hofman on 0405 114 930.
Allorah Saunders, whose health care is provided by the Tharawal Aboriginal Corporation Medical Service in western Sydney. Photo: Steven Siewert. Image source: Oxfam Australia.
Mental health & suicide prevention interim report
The House Select Committee on Mental Health and Suicide Prevention (the Select Committee) has released its interim report. The Committee’s interim report includes an update on the Committee’s activities to date, and emerging themes identified through recent reports into Australia’s mental health system and engagement with the Productivity Commission, National Mental Health Commission and Department of Health.
Chair of the Committee, Dr Fiona Martin MP, said ‘The interim report provides a snapshot of the breadth of work underway on mental health and suicide prevention. It also identifies some areas that the Committee feels need further examination as the inquiry progresses. These areas include the divide between public and private mental healthcare, coordination and funding of mental health services, affordability, the growth of telehealth and digital services in response to COVID-19, and the role of professional bodies in advocating for, regulating and supporting the workforce.’
“We can all be superheroes, we can save the world, we’ve just got to care enough to do it,” says JK-47, the 23-year-old rising star of Australian rap on what he is trying to communicate through his music. He is one of the passionate change makers who answered the call the ABC put out for young people to tell them how they are coping with a world that is increasingly scary.
It is hard not to feel disempowered in the face of stories about climate change, racism, new wars, and now global pandemics — particularly when you are young. However, the teenagers and 20-somethings featured in the article have discovered a way to create the future they want to grow into.
JK-47’s debut album Made For This features lyrics about the daily injustices First Nation people face. Photo: Kiarney Mulyono. Image source: ABC News website.
Healthy sexual relationships campaign
WA’s new HealthySexual campaign is all about preventing, testing, treating and talking to minimise the personal and social impact of sexually transmitted infections (STIs). With outbreaks of infectious syphilis occurring in metropolitan, regional and remote parts of the state and notifications rising over the past five years, it’s a timely reminder to be aware of and talk about sexual health.
In 2020, notifications of infectious syphilis in WA were 26% higher than the previous year. The Department of Health’s Sexual Health and Blood-borne Virus Program Manager, Lisa Bastian said outbreaks of STIs over much of the state had placed populations at risk and prompted a more mainstream prevention campaign for the general community. She said an outbreak that started in the Kimberley region in June 2014 had spread to the Pilbara in February 2018 and the Goldfields in January 2019.
To view the Government of WA Department of Health’s media release click here.
Image source: Government of WA Department of Health.
Deaths in custody, every family has a story
A detective visited the parents of a young Aboriginal man; a warrant had been issued for their son’s arrect. ‘We’re going to get your son; he’s going to be locked up,’ the detective told them. ‘But if you get him to come around now, I can guarantee you that the arrest will be a non-eventful process. He won’t be harmed; we’ll put him into custody, he’ll serve his time and then he can get on with his life.’
The request went against their instincts, but the parents agreed. When their son arrived, however, the promise fell through. ‘They grabbed him, ruffed him up and smashed him into the fence, causing a head injury,’ Professor Peter O’Mara, a Wiradjuri man and Chair of RACGP Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health, told newsGP. ‘That young man then went into the system. Approximately one week later, he died.’
On average, one Aboriginal life is lost in custody every three weeks. Image source: newsGP.
Stan Grant has written an in-depth analysis of the reasons for Aboriginal deaths in custody in his article Aboriginal deaths in custody reflect the poor health of Australia’s democracy. His article begins with some frightening statistics ‘3% of the population comprise nearly 30% of those behind bars. Look closely and it becomes even more alarming. In WA, 40% of prisoners are Indigenous. In the NT, it is more than 80%. Among youth it is even worse. Half of all children in detention nationally are Indigenous. In the NT, more than 90% of all juveniles detained are black.’
‘Despite the recommendations of the royal commission, we are going backwards. The number of Indigenous people imprisoned has increased 100% in the past three decades. Since 1991, more than 400 Indigenous people have died in custody. Thirty years after the royal commission, things are worse.’
Banners at the black deaths in custody Photo: Mitch Abram. Image source: ABC News website.
Young people staying away from jail
Corrie Bell didn’t think he’d make it to his 28th birthday. He’d been taken away from his parents at the age of 15 and didn’t have a lot of hope. “All my life I’ve been living in prison… mentally and emotionally, you know feeling caged in and trapped,” he said. Corie’s a Ngunnawal Kamilaroi man from Campbelltown in south-west Sydney. He told Triple J Hack he had a really rough childhood. “Drugs, alcohol, crime, domestic violence… was very frequent within my family home,” Corie said.
Corie says what he really needed as a kid to keep him out of trouble was stability and guidance from positive role models. Instead he had cops following him, dealers for mates and a bunch of trauma he was trying to drown out. By 18, Corie was sent to jail for robbery and reckless wounding. He says he was so drunk he didn’t even realise where he was.
To view the Triple J HACK article What do young people need to stay away from jail? in full click here.
Uncle Glenn (front) says ‘The Glen Centre’ adopts a holistic approach to rehabilitation, with a focus on integrating Indigenous culture and spirituality. Image source: ABC News website.
In a related story, Amnesty International Australia have expressed disappointment that the Committee charged with investigating the proposed youth justice amendments in Queensland has recommended the amendments pass, despite its own report being full of evidence that they will do nothing to address youth crime. The youth justice amendments seek to take a punitive approach to young children who often have complex needs the justice system is ill equipped to address, and which ultimately condemn these kids to life in the quagmire of the criminal justice system. Amnesty International Australia Indigenous Rights Campaigner Maggie Munn gave evidence at the committee hearings.
To view Amnesty International Australia’s media release click here.
Youth detained in a Darwin prison. Image source: ABC News website.
In the latest episode of the Australian Healthcare and Hospital’s Association (AHHA) podcast, The Health Advocate, AHHA Strategic Programs Director, Dr Chris Bourke, speaks with St Vincent’s Health Network Sydney, Emergency Department Director, Dr Paul Preisz and Aboriginal Health Manager, Scott Daley, to discuss how St Vincent’s Health Network Sydney has improved health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients. While the hospital’s staff knew there was a problem in the Emergency Department with the delivery of care and the outcomes, for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients, NSW Health data highlighting the unacceptable treatment rates for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients was the final straw. This promoted a mandate from executives to improve results.
‘St Vincent’s work in improving health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients is a great example of how organisations can transform the delivery of care and offers many lessons for other organisations wanting to follow a similar path,’ said Dr Bourke.
You can view the AHHA press release here and listen to the podcast here.
Aboriginal Health Manager Scott Daley with a patient in St Vincent’s Hospital Emergency Department. Image source: ABC News website.
Wirraka Maya leads way in better patient management
An Aboriginal community health service in WA has produced record results in the use of technology to ensure better connected care for local patients. Senior Medical Officer at Wirraka Maya Health Service in Port Hedland, WA, Dr Yolande Knight said: “We rely on My Health Record to keep us updated on patient pathology, imaging, medication, dispensing and history records. “We find it helpful because a lot of our patients are transient, moving from one region to another, so it can be difficult to get their comprehensive files. We can see what other doctors have requested and performed, overcoming the delays waiting for records requested from other practices and providers.” Australian Digital Health Agency Consumer Advocate, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Champion and Co-Chair of the Agency’s Reconciliation Working Group and national Medicines Safety Program, Steve Renouf, congratulated Wirraka Maya for its commitment to digital health.
The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) is seeking feedbackon proposals to help ensure ongoing, reliable supply of important medicines.
Medicine shortages have been of particular concern during the COVID-19 pandemic and the TGA have been reviewing ways in which they can better assist affected Australian patients and their healthcare providers. Specifically, the TGA is seeking feedback on possible reforms that would:
prioritise the evaluation and registration process for certain important generic prescription medicines, to reduce the risk of shortages
encourage registration of more generic versions of medicines known to be affected by shortages, to mitigate the impact of those shortages
support a more reliable supply of overseas-registered medicines imported into Australia as substitutes when the Australian medicine is in longstanding or repeated shortage.
The consultation will close on Monday 17 May 2021.
Image source: Newsbook website.
Resources for First Peoples with Disability
A range of new accessible, culturally appropriate resources for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with disability have been released by the peak body First Peoples Disability Network (FPDN).
“Our community urgently needs information about the vaccine, so we have created a poster with culturally relevant information and artwork to let people know about what is happening and why,” said Damian Griffis, CEO of FPDN.
“During the pandemic, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with disability found it hard to get the right information about what was happening, and it looks like those lessons haven’t been learnt when it comes to the vaccine roll out.”
Little is known about how older Aboriginal adults access and engage with aged care services. A project has been initiated by the Port Augusta Community to address gaps in Aboriginal aged care and research is being conducted for the broader Aboriginal Eyre Peninsula Communities in partnership with the Adelaide Rural Clinical School Aboriginal research unit.
The lead researcher Kym Thomas, from Port Augusta, is an Aboriginal person, providing and ensuring that spirit and integrity are at the forefront of all community and stakeholder engagement and activities. Communities involved in the research include Port Augusta, Port Lincoln, Ceduna and Whyalla. Kym has been supported in his work by Associate Professor Pascale Dettwiller and Emma Richards.
Disadvantaged neighbourhoods can shape adolescent brains
Growing up in a poor or disadvantaged neighbourhood can affect the way adolescents’ brains function, according to new research. It can alter the communication between brain regions involved in planning, goal-setting and self-reflection. These brain changes can have consequences for cognitive function and wellbeing. But the good news is that positive home and school environments can mitigate some of these negative effects.
A “disadvantaged neighbourhood” is one in which people generally have lower levels of income, employment, and education. Growing up in these conditions can cause stress for children, and is associated with cognitive problems and mental health issues in young people.
It is not yet known exactly how this link between neighbourhood disadvantage and poor mental outcomes works, but it is thought that social disadvantage alters the way young people’s brains develop.
The fifth national report on the 21 Better Cardiac Care measures for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, with updated data available for 15 measures. The level of access for cardiac-related health services is improving for Indigenous Australians. While the mortality rate from cardiac conditions is falling among the Indigenous population, it is still higher than among non-Indigenous Australians. The incidence of acute rheumatic fever among Indigenous Australians continues to be much higher than in non-Indigenous Australians.
The prevalence of mental health issues is higher in people with a disability than in the general population. This means that often, a person who has both a physical, intellectual or neurological disability is also dealing with mental health challenges. There can be complexities in distinguishing mental health issues from intellectual or neurological disability and this can lead to mental health challenges not being recognised or identified. Participants will explore concepts of recovery, trauma and strength- based approaches to working with people with complex needs. They will use a recovery and biopsychosocial approach to meet their client’s needs.
Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Services (KAMS) are promoting a training course being delivered by the WA Association for Mental Health. For more details click here.
Image source: SBS News website.
Vaccinations being in regional SA AHS
Indigenous health workers in Mount Gambier have been among the first in SA to receive the AstraZeneca vaccine in Phase 1b of the national roll-out. 10 staff at Pangula Mannamurna Aboriginal Corporation were selected to receive the vaccine on Monday this week.
Outreach worker Catherine Bulner was the first of the group to roll up her sleeve and get the jab. She said she felt privileged to be the first South East Indigenous community member to get vaccinated. “I’m pretty fortunate to have it done in an Aboriginal community-controlled health service. “I think it’s really good that we can instil confidence in our community to get it done to protect not only ourselves, but our family and our community.”
Ms Bulner encouraged others to do the same to allow life to return to normal. “It’s unknown, but there’s plenty of information out there that can tell you all about it, if you need to make an informed decision before,” she said. “It’s not mandatory, but arm yourself with the information I did and you will be really confident to get it.” Transport worker Peter Brennan was also vaccinated and said it would provide him with a lot more confidence when conducting his work duties.
Indigenous transport worker Peter Brenna. Image source: ABC News website.
Keeping the momentum on eye health equity
The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander eye health sector entered 2020 with high hopes. The equity gap was still evident in measures of access to services and outcomes, but there was a continued positive trajectory towards the gap for vision being closed, with a strong sector driving change through collaborations on regional and state levels. 2020 was a target year for the elimination of trachoma, as well as to achieve equity and close the gap for vision.
The COVID-19 pandemic impacted the work of the sector in a number of ways. Many communities closed or reduced non-urgent visiting services, suspensions to elective surgery and reductions in permitted surgical loads and lockdowns in different parts of Australia to stop outbreaks, while necessary, meant that the already-existing waitlists for eye care became longer. The stronger impact on public hospitals, for example through lower caps on elective surgeries compared with private, has a disproportionate impact on population groups with the stronger reliance on the public system.
The impact on the sector’s work also includes the interruption to the positive momentum of change. Across Australia, regional and state-level groups of stakeholders involved with the provision of eye care services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples have been driving improvements in pathways and outcomes. The community-controlled sector has been key in leading this change.
Milpa the trachoma goanna supporting ‘Clean Faces, Strong Eyes’ health promotion messaging at an AFL game in Alice Springs NT. Image source: Partyline.
WA – Broome – University of WA
Research Fellow x 1 FT (Fixed Term) – Broome
The University of WA are seeking a skilled health researcher to conduct statistical analysis of real world health services data from current and future projects. This position will be based in the Kimberley where Rural Clinical School of WA (RCSWA) sites conduct collaborative research with health services into improving Aboriginal health and building research capacity. Under limited directions from Principal Research Fellow, Associate Professor Julia Marley and in close collaboration with the Kimberley Medical Services, you will provide impetus and capacity to research initiatives in the Kimberley region of WA.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander researchers are encouraged to apply.
To view the job advertisement, including the Position Description click here position descriptions and to apply click here.Applications close Monday 16 April 2021.
World Health Day 2021 – Building a fairer, healthier world
April 7 of each year marks the celebration of World Health Day. From its inception at the First Health Assembly in 1948 and since taking effect in 1950, the celebration has aimed to create awareness of a specific health theme to highlight a priority area of concern for the World Health Organization.
Over the past 50 years this has brought to light important health issues such as mental health, maternal and child care, and climate change. The celebration is marked by activities which extend beyond the day itself and serves as an opportunity to focus worldwide attention on these important aspects of global health.
To celebrate World Health Day the Australian Global Health Alliance is hosting a special online event where a line-up or expert guest speakers will share their reflections on this year’s theme ‘Building a fairer, healthier world’.
For more information about the event from12:00–1:00 PM AEST Wednesday 7 April 2021 and to register click here.
107 ACCHOs have signed up to deliver COVID-19 vaccines: Pat Turner on ABC The Drum
Pat Turner AM, CEO NACCHO and Lead Convenor of the Coalition of Peaks was on the panel of speakers for the ABC The Drum last evening and spoke on a couple of topics including the First Nation’s success with COVID-19 and the vaccines rollout, COVID-19’s northern exposure to PNG outbreak, the Federal Government launching a multimillion-dollar advertising campaign in Canberra today encouraging people to move to regional Australia and the Closing the Gap update amongst others.
The Deputy PM is promoting a migration to regional Australia – but are the towns prepared to handle more people? What happens if not?
Pat said, “Experience from other First Nations in US and Canada shows high vaccine uptake occurs when the rollout is led by First Nations peoples and there is community control. Due to our success in controlling the outbreak we’re in a position which allows our services to have a flexible approach to the vaccine rollout.
“Just as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities were on the front foot with controlling COVID-19, we are on the front foot with the vaccine. We have advocated to ensure our communities are among the first to be offered the vaccine. We know the devastation COVID-19 can cause due to the high number of people with chronic conditions like diabetes and the potential rapid spread in crowded housing.
“We have 107 ACCHOs who will participate in the COVID-19 vaccine rollout from 1b in late March. This includes many rural and remote ACCHOs, ensuring all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have access to the vaccine if they choose to, regardless of location.
“We need flexibility in the way the vaccine is delivered in communities, especially in remote and very remote setting. NACCHO has been working with the Australian Government to ensure that, where appropriate, this flexibility exists. While the focus remains on those at highest risk – people over 55 or with chronic medical conditions – ACCHOs can also vaccinate family members and household members of those at high risk. A remote vaccine working group is considering a whole of community strategy – including all non-Indigenous and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults in the community.
“ACCHOs are highly experienced at vaccine roll-out. Five year old Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children have the highest coverage of vaccine uptake in the country and in 2020, almost 80% of people over 65 had the Fluvax.
“We have ensured there is targeted monitoring of safety of the vaccine among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people through the AusVaxSafety program.
“The Australian Government has announced over $14 million in funding to support the roll-out of the vaccine in ACCHO. However, services are yet to receive this funding.
“We know that the best information comes from locally developed communication materials from the ACCHO sector. This was key to the success of the COVID-19 response.
“The communication materials developed by the Government are a good source of factual and up to date information, but we need to support our services to adapt these to local communities needs.
“NACCHO has worked closely with the Government, including the TGA (Therapeutic Goods Administration) to ensure that restrictions on medicine advertising do not stop our sector from doing what they do best – developing and distributing effective health promotion and engagement campaigns for their communities.”
Nyikina Nyul Nyul nurse Emily Hunter was the first Kimberley person to receive the COVID-19 vaccination. Photo: Erin Parke. Image source: ABC News website.
National Close the Gap Day 2021
“It will be two years since the historic Partnership Agreement on Closing the Gap came into effect and we are seeing a radical change across the country.
“The new formal partnership agreements between governments and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled representatives are being strengthened or set up in every state and territory to share decision making on Closing the Gap.
“The Priority Reforms in the National Agreement need to be embedded into the way governments work – in their policy development, program and funding guidelines and decision making. Our purpose together is to share decisions on how to improve the life outcomes of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.”
General Practices join the Phase 1B COVID-19 vaccine rollout
More than 1,000 general practices will join the COVID-19 vaccination program from next week further strengthening the Commonwealths capacity, and ensuring an efficient and equitable distribution of vaccines across the country.
Services will come online from 22 March and progressively increase in number to more than 4,000 by the end of April – as part of Phase 1B of Australia’s COVID-19 vaccine program.
This staged scale up will align with the supply of the locally produced AstraZeneca vaccine, and as more vaccine becomes available more services will come online.
Over 100 Aboriginal Health Services and 130 Commonwealth operated GP-led Respiratory Clinics, who have been instrumental partners in the COVID-19 response to date will also be progressively added as additional vaccine providers.
This rollout for Phase 1B complements the significant vaccination program underway to protect our most vulnerable citizens in Phase 1A, with approximately 200,000 vaccinated by the end of Tuesday.
Australians eligible for Phase 1B will be able to find a vaccination provider through the new national vaccination information and location service, at the Department of Health website.
This will enable people to locate their nearest general practice providing General Practice Respiratory Clinic vaccinations and link through to their online booking system or phone number to make the appointment.
To read the full media release by the Hon Greg Hunt MP Minister for Health and Aged Care click here.
ATAGI statement in response to European decisions about the Astra Zeneca vaccine
Australia’s regulatory body for vaccines Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) issued a statement to not suspend Astra Zeneca vaccine yesterday.
Could we mix and match different COVID-19 vaccines?
The COVID vaccine rollout is now underway in Australia and around the world. It’s incredible we’ve been able to develop and produce safe and effective vaccines so quickly — but the current crop of vaccines might not protect us forever. Fortunately, researchers are already developing and testing booster shots. So what are booster shots, and when might we need them?
The first time you give someone a dose of vaccine against a particular infection, it’s called a prime. You’re getting your immune response ready to roll.
Each time you give another dose against that same infection, it’s called a boost. You’re building on immunity you already have from the first dose.
To read the full article in the Conversation click here.
Facebook-based social marketing to reduce smoking in Australia’s First Nations communities
Interesting research paper released in the Australian Indigenous HealthBulletin: Facebook-based social marketing to reduce smoking in Australia’s First Nations communities: an analysis of reach, shares, and likes. By Hefler M, Kerrigan V, Grunseit A, Freeman B, Kite J, Thomas DP (2020).
Therapeutic Goods adverse events following immunisation
This instrument specifies certain therapeutic goods information relating to adverse events following immunisation that may be released to specified bodies and persons for the purpose of ensuring meaningful and effective participation in meetings on vaccine safety to support the safety, quality and safe use of vaccines in Australia.
Australia’s Race Discrimination Commissioner Chin Tan has launched a plan to establish a National Anti-Racism Framework and has called on the Federal Government to support and implement it. Commissioner Tan released a concept paper detailing key components that need to be included in the Framework and will soon commence a series of roundtables with peak anti-racism organisations to progress the plan.
The plan was launched ahead of the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, also known in Australia as Harmony Day, which occurs this Sunday. Commissioner Tan said: “Racism is an economic, social and national security threat to Australia, and we need to treat it as such. Too many Australians are regularly the targets of racism. “It is time we dealt with the scourge of racism in the same way we deal with the scourge of domestic violence, or the scourge of child abuse. On those issues we have longstanding national frameworks, signed onto by all governments with three-year action plans.
To read the media release by the Australian Human Rights Commission and the Concept Paper for a National Anti-Racism Framework clickhere.
Close the Gap Campaign Report 2021: Policy Brief
Since 2010, the Close the Gap Campaign Steering Committee has developed an annual report on action that needs to be taken to achieve health equality for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
We often repeat our recommendations, and we remain steadfast and persistent in the expectation that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander ways of knowing, being and doing will be respected and understood. The time for governments to deliver has long passed.
The Leadership and Legacy Through Crises: Keeping our Mob safe report presents solutions and showcases the leadership of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, communities, youth and organisations throughout critical health crises in 2020.
The report features strengths-based examples in addressing the most complex of challenges. These include climate change, the COVID-19 pandemic, and the increasing need for social and emotional wellbeing services in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities as a result of these events, and pre-existing effects of colonisation and inter-generational trauma.
Effective approaches to prevention, diagnosis and support for Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder
Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) is an entirely preventable permanent disability. FASD includes a range of physical and neurological impairments, occurring due to brain damage caused by exposing a fetus to alcohol during pregnancy. As a spectrum disorder, FASD manifests in a range of ways, and conditions can range from very mild to severe.
Senate Community Affairs References Committee report on effective approaches to prevention, diagnosis and support for Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder. Tabled 17 March 2021.
The committee received a wealth of information and evidence throughout the inquiry and thanks all those who participated, especially those with lived experience who had the courage to share their experiences and knowledge with the committee. As a result, the committee has made 32 recommendations, which aim at significantly improving the prevention, diagnosis, and management of FASD.
Effective approaches to prevention and diagnosis of FASD, strategies for optimising life outcomes for people with FASD and supporting carers, and the prevalence and management of FASD, including in vulnerable populations, in the education system, and in the criminal justice system.
To read the full report released by the Senate Community Affairs References Committee, click here.
Image source: UNSW Sydney National Drug & Alcohol Research Centre.
Hearing loss and treating middle-ear infections in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children
Identifying hearing loss and treating middle-ear infections in Indigenous children in their first four years would change lives forever, says Australia’s first Indigenous surgeon, Dr Kelvin Kong.
Describing himself as a proud Worimi man, Dr Kong said early intervention – such as checking children’s ears at every opportunity – would contribute to closing the gap in education, employment and health between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and other Australians.
Australia’s first Indigenous surgeon, Dr Kelvin Kong
COVID-19 crisis in PNG amid vaccine rollout concerns in Australia
Australia has announced emergency COVID-19 support for Papua New Guinea (PNG) in response to fears of a “looming catastrophe” that could devastate the nation and its healthcare system and that also threatens communities in the Torres Strait and Far North Queensland.
Amid dire warnings from PNG and Australian health experts, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced today that Australia would urgently supply 8,000 AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines from Australia’s stock to start vaccinating PNG’s essential health workforce.
Torres Strait Regional Council Mayor Philemon Mosbytold ABC radio today that it could be “catastrophic” for local communities if the emergency wasn’t handled properly; however, others are hopeful the crisis can be averted, including National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) CEO Pat Turner.
“Our people are very much aware in the Torres Strait about the dangers of COVID and they’ll be taking every precaution,” Turner told ABC TV’s The Drum, saying she had “every confidence that Queensland Health will be able to manage this and control the movement of people, with the cooperation of the Torres Strait Island leadership”.
Image source: Australian Government Department of Health.
Do you work with or employ Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workers or Practitioners?
Diabetes is a significant health issue facing Indigenous Australians. The delivery of culturally safe health services, including by appropriately skilled Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander Health Workers and Health Practitioners, is vital to efforts to reduce the present and future burden of diabetes.
Marathon Health are currently looking at diabetes-specific educational opportunities for Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander Health Workers and Health Practitioners. We want to know where they get the information they need to enable them to provide diabetes care.
Your participation in this brief survey is entirely voluntary and your time is greatly appreciated. The results will be used to inform current availability of diabetes-related education and to identify opportunities in this area.
Please click the link to the survey to get started here.
Community-led action – the key to Close the Gap – AHHA
The 2021 Close the Gap Campaign report, released today, highlights the importance of strength- based, community-led approaches to improving health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
‘While Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples continue to show resilience in the face of poorer health outcomes, the effectiveness of strength-based, community-led action could not be clearer,’ says Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association spokesperson, Dr Chris Bourke.
‘The case studies in this year’s report showcase the leadership of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, communities and organisations throughout some of the biggest challenges of 2020, from bushfires to pandemics.
‘Community Controlled Organisations and Health Services successfully kept Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities safe during the COVID-19 pandemic and the rate of COVID-19 cases in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples was six times lower than the rest of the population. These community-led organisations will have a significant role to play in rolling out the COVID vaccine this year.
‘In July 2020, the new National Agreement on Closing the Gap, signed by all Australian governments and the Coalition of Peaks, signified a new way forward with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in control at the decision-making table for the first time.
‘The recommendations in this year’s report call for structural reform, self-determination and ongoing investment in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-led initiatives.
‘This year’s report solidifies the importance of the power of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, communities and organisations, to deliver culturally safe care and localised solutions,’ says Dr Bourke.
AHHA is a member of the Close the Gap campaign, an Indigenous-led movement calling for action on health equity for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
The Close the Gap Campaign report is available online.
Close the Gap campaign poster by Adam Hill. Image source: ResearchGate.
First Nations women left behind in cervical cancer elimination
Australia is tracking to become one of the first countries to eliminate cervical cancer, but Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women will miss out unless we act urgently to change this, according to a new study from The Australian National University (ANU) and Cancer Council New South Wales (CCNSW). Lead researchers, Associate Professor Lisa Whop (ANU) and Dr Megan Smith (CCNSW) and colleagues are calling for inequities to be addressed.
HPV (human papillomavirus) is a common sexually transmitted infection and is responsible for almost all cases of cervical cancer and 90 per cent of anal cancers and genital warts. To reach elimination, the World Health Organization (WHO) has released a strategy with three targets to be met by every country by 2030.
Read the full media release by Australian National University here.
Image source: MedPage Today website.
Closing the Gap vital to ensure health equity – AMA
The disparities between the health status of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and non-Indigenous Australians continue to fall by the wayside and closing the gap is vital to
ensure health equity in this country, AMA President Dr Omar Khorshid said today.
On National Close the Gap Day, the AMA encourages all Australians to take meaningful action in support of achieving health equity for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples
The AMA has actively called on the Government to address health inequities experienced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, that stem from the social and cultural
determinants of health.
“Closing the life expectancy gap between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and non-Indigenous people is everyone’s business: it is a national issue in which every individual,
organisation and group in Australia can play a role,” Dr Khorshid said.
“Every person’s health is shaped by the social, economic, cultural, and environmental conditions in which they live.
“Addressing the social and cultural determinants of health is vital if we want to see vast improvements in the health and well-being of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
“This is a national priority.
Electronic prescriptions (or e-prescriptions) are being rolled out in stages across Australia after being used in Victoria during the pandemic. E-prescriptions have been common in countries such as the United States and Sweden for more than ten years. In Australia, a fully electronic paperless system has been planned for some time. Since the arrival of COVID-19, and a surge in the uptake of telehealth, the advantages of e-prescriptions have become compelling. To read more about what e-prescriptions are, how they work, their benefits and what they mean for paper prescriptions click here.
Image source: Australian Pharmacist.
Electronic prescription roll out expanded
The big news in digital health in recent weeks has been the expansion of Australia’s roll out of electronic prescriptions to metropolitan Sydney, following the fast-track implementation in metropolitan Melbourne and then the rest of Victoria as a weapon in that state’s battle against the COVID-19 pandemic. There was also some rare movement in the secure messaging arena, with a number of clinical information system vendors and secure messaging services having successfully completed the implementation of new interoperability standards that will hopefully allow clinicians and healthcare organisations to more easily exchange clinical information electronically. The road to secure messaging interoperability has been a tortuous one to say the least, but movement does seem to be occurring. At least 19 separate systems have successfully fulfilled the Australian Digital Health Agency’s requirements, with the vendors now getting ready to release the capability in their next versions. It is expected these will start to roll out over the next few months.
Lack of physical activity requires national strategy
A new report finding Australians are not spending enough time being physically active highlights the need for action on a national, long-term preventive health strategy, according to AMA President, Dr Omar Khorshid. The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) report found that the majority of Australians of all ages are not meeting the minimum levels of physical activity required for health benefits, and are exceeding recommended limits on sedentary behaviour.
The AMA is working with the Federal Government on its proposed long-term national preventive health strategy, which was first announced by Health Minister Greg Hunt in a video message to the 2019 AMA National Conference almost 18 months ago. Dr Khorshis said “As a nation, we spend woefully too little on preventive health – only about 2 per cent of the overall health budget. A properly resourced preventive health strategy, including national public education campaigns on issues such as smoking and obesity, is vital to helping Australians improve their lifestyles and quality of life.”
To view the AMA’s media release regarding the physical activity report click here.
Image source: The Conversation.
KAMS CEO appointed to WA FHRI Fund Advisory Council
The McGowan Government has today announced the make-up of the Advisory Council of WA’s Future Health Research and Innovation (FHRI) Fund. The FHRI Fund was the centerpiece of the State Government’s commitment to drive research and innovation in WA by providing the State’s health and medical researchers and innovators with a secure and ongoing source of funding. Vicki O’Donnell, CEO, Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Service Ltd (KAMS), is one of seven eminent Western Australians appointed to the Advisory Council to provide high-level advice to the Health Minister and the Department of Health.
To view the Government of Western Australia’s media release click here.
Vicki O’Donnell, CEO KAMS. Image source: ABC News.
PLUM and HATS help save kids hearing
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families are being encouraged to use an Australian Government toolkit to ensure young children are meeting their milestones for hearing and speaking. The rates of hearing loss and ear disease for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children are significantly higher than for the non-Indigenous population. Between 2018–19 and 2022–23, almost $104.6 million will be provided for ear health initiatives to reduce the number of Indigenous Australians suffering avoidable hearing loss, and give Indigenous children a better start to education.
The Parent-evaluated Listening and Understanding Measure (PLUM) and the Hearing and Talking Scale (HATS) have been developed by Hearing Australia in collaboration with Aboriginal health and early education services. As part of a $21.2 million package of funding over five years from 2020–21 to advance hearing health in Australia, the 2020–21 Budget includes an additional $5 million to support early identification of hearing and speech difficulties for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, and embed the use of PLUM and HATS Australia-wide.
To view the Department of Health’s media release click here.
Image source: The Wire website.
Illawarra Aboriginal Corporation receives research grant
The University of Wollongong (UOW) had announced the recipients of the Community Engagement Grants Scheme (CEGS). CEGS is uniquely focused on addressing the challenges faced by communities and taking action to create real and measurable outcomes. The CEGS projects are dedicated to serving communities on a range of issues that matter in the real world. Some areas of focus are health and wellbeing, disability and social services, culture and multiculturalism, Indigenous and local history and communities.
This year, the University awarded grants to three innovative community partners and UOW academics to support their research and outreach projects. Among the recipients is the Illawarra Aboriginal Corporation and senior Aboriginal researcher and anthropologist, Professor Kathleen Clapham. Their project, titled ‘Amplifying the voices of Aboriginal women through culture and networking in an age of COVID19’ aims to address women’s isolation, restore networks, and nurture the exchange of Aboriginal knowledge and traditional practices.
To view the University of Wollongong’s media release click here.
Professor Kathleen Clapham, UOW. Image source: UOW website.
LGBQTISB suicide prevention
Indigenous LGBQTISB people deal with additional societal challenges, ones that can regularly intersect and contribute to the heightened development of depression, anxiety, alcohol and drug problems, and a heightened risk of suicide and suicidal behaviour. Dameyon Bonson, an Indigenous gay male from the NT and recognised as Indigenous suicide prevention subject matter expert, specifically in Indigenous LGBQTI+ suicide, will be presenting ‘An introduction to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander (Indigenous Australian) LGBQTISB suicide prevention’ from 11.00 am to 12.00 pm (ACST) on Tuesday 10 November 2020.
For more information about the event and to register click here.
Dead quiet to award winner in only two years
“The first year we were almost dead quiet … word of mouth and occupational health is what grew us, and now we’ve been able to really branch into Indigenous health and Closing the Gap initiatives,” said Practice Manager Olivia Tassone. At just 22-years-old, Tassone is also a part-owner of the company, along with former footballed Des Headland and others. Being privately owned gives Spartan First a flexibility that other companies in the same space don’t have. “One of the benefits of being a being a private business is we don’t really have a lot of red tape to jump over. If we want to start making a change, then we can just do it,” Tassone said.
Spartan Practice Manager Olivia Tassone. Image source: National Indigenous Times website.
Tackling Indigenous Smoking with Prof Tom Calma
Tobacco smoking is the most preventable cause of ill health and early death among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. It is responsible for 23 per cent of the gap in health burden between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and other Australians.
The Tackling Indigenous Smoking (TIS) program aims to improve life expectancy among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples by reducing tobacco use.
Professor Tom Calma, National Coordinator, leads the TIS program which has been running since 2010. Under the program local organisations design and run activities that focus on reducing smoking rates, and supports people to never start smoking. Activities are:
More mental health support for NSW Regional students
A fly-in fly-out psychology and telepsychology service of sixteen permanent senior psychologists will be introduced to support students in regional and remote parts of NSW with mental health.
This is part of the NSW Government’s $88.4 million mental health spend that also includes a commitment to provide every public high school with one full-time counsellor or psychologist and one student support officer. Premier Gladys Berejiklian said the NSW Government had run a successful trial of fly-in fly-out psychologists and the service will be permanent from 2021. “Students across NSW have shown incredible courage and resilience having been impacted by COVID-19, bushfires and drought,” Ms Berejiklian said.
Methamphetamine use among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people
The Alcohol and Other Drugs Knowledge Centre has released the Summary of methamphetamine use among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. The summary provides key information about methamphetamine use among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in a style that is easy to engage with. It is particularly useful for health workers and those studying in the alcohol and other drugs field.
The August edition of the Alcohol and Other Drugs Knowledge Centre newsletter has a round-up of content recently added to the Knowledge Centre website. There is information on events, programs, news and jobs from around Australia. .
APO NT welcomes ACT’s decision to raise criminal responsibility age from 10 to 14 years
Aboriginal Peak Organisations (APO NT) has welcomed the Australian Capital Territory’s recent decision to raise the age of criminal responsibility from 10 years to 14 years. This decision is consistent with the recommendations made by the Royal Commission into the Protection and Detention of Children in the Northern Territory in 2017 and acknowledges concerns raised by the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child that the minimum age for criminal responsibility in Australia is too young. Australia has failed to uphold this standard across all states and territories, including the Northern Territory. “We are concerned about the discriminatory application of the current age of criminal responsibility and the disproportionate impact that this has on our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, young people, their families and our broader community,” said APO NT spokesperson John Paterson.
The Australian Government will increase aged care support programs across Australia with anadditional $171.5 million to boost a new COVID-19 response plan.
Australians will be among the first in the world to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, if it proves successful, through an agreement between the Australian Government and UK-based drug company AstraZeneca.
Enhancing the coronavirus response in disability residential care through a strengthenedDisability Response Centreto coordinate and manage outbreaks and keep residents safe.
The National Mental Health Commission launched their #GettingThroughThisTogether campaign that provides practical tips to stay connected and mentally well during this challenging time.
Addressing Inequities in Indigenous Mental Health and Wellbeing
A discussion paper from the UWA Transforming Indigenous Mental Health and Wellbeing grant titled – “Addressing Inequities in Indigenous Mental Health and Wellbeing through Transformative and Decolonising Research and Practice.” from Prof Pat Dudgeon and colleagues.
This is a newly created position that has been developed in response to the considerable growth and development of Marymead’s services, and the need to further drive diversity of funding streams and geographic expansion into the future. The newly developed role will report to the Director of Client Services and will be responsible for the overall leadership and management of 3 service delivery units within the division.
Marymead Community and Business Development Officer South Coast
This newly developed role will report to the Executive Manager, Client Services and will be responsible for driving the South Coast development project. The project will involve consulting with the community to identify areas of need, developing partnerships and relationships with local service providers and funders, being an ambassador for Marymead within the community, and initiating and driving service development to meet identified needs.
1.Dr Kelvin Kong introduction ” Protecting the community from coronavirus (COVID-19) “
2.Testing for coronavirus
3.Where can I get tested?
4.Update Victoria / VACCHO
5.Update NSW/ AHMRC
6.Help stop the spread
7.Download the COVIDSafe app
8. Download COVID-19 mental health poster / graphics from AHCWA
9. If you’re unwell – get tested to help keep our community safe says Dr Kong
“It’s important we detect any cases in our community early by getting tested if you have even minor symptoms. Don’t be afraid of the people who are taking the tests, because they’re going to be in protective gear. It’s to help keep us all safe from the spread.
Testing is available to all members of the community, for free. Aboriginal communities can contact their local Aboriginal Medical Service or Local Area Health District for information on where to access the test in their area.
The type of test you get might vary depending on where you live and where you go to get tested. You might be tested at the hospital, you might be at a GP practice, or it might be in a drive through testing location.
Some members of the community might be worried about getting the test, not knowing what is involved.
The test is relatively straightforward and simple. It’s not painful at all but can be uncomfortable. The common test involves a nasal swab, which is like a big cotton bud. A swab is taken from inside your nose. It might make you want to sneeze, but it’s over before you even realise that they’ve actually started. It’s really very quick,”
Like many Aboriginal health professionals, Worimi man Dr Kelvin Kong has been exceptionally busy the last few months, helping to keep communities safe from COVID-19.
Dr Kong is a surgeon at the University of Newcastle’s School of Medicine and Public Health, and has leant his voice to support Aboriginal communities across NSW, sharing videos and tips for communities to protect themselves during this time. Section 9 below for full release
Testing lets health workers know if people have coronavirus. This helps control and stop the spread of the virus.
Early diagnosis means you can stop spreading the virus to your friends, family, or community. If you have a fever, cough, sore throat, shortness of breath or any other symptoms of respiratory illness, it is important you get tested. Even if you only have one of these symptoms, get tested.
Testing is even more important if you are unwell and:
You have recently come back to Australia from overseas. All travellers will be quarantined for 14 days on arrival into Australia;
You have been outside of your community and want to go back;
You have been close to someone who tested positive for coronavirus in the past 14 days;
You are a health care, aged care or residential care worker or staff member with direct patient contact.
3.Where can I get tested?
You can call your doctor or medical service to make an appointment for a test. If you visit your doctor, it is important to call the clinic first and tell them about your symptoms. This will help them prepare for your arrival and protect other people at the clinic.
You can also go to a free COVID-19 clinic without making an appointment. For Melbourne
COVID-19 GP respiratory clinics are health centres that focus on testing people with acute respiratory illness symptoms.
If you get tested for coronavirus, you need to stay at home and avoid contact with other people at least until your symptoms have gone away. It may take a day or two for your test results to come back.
The COVID-19 Point of Care Testing (POCT) Program helps people in regional and remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities across Australia get tested more easily. The goal of this program is to make sure that health care services are no more than a two to three hour drive from a testing location. This allows people to get their test results much more quickly than they would if the test had to be sent to a laboratory in a bigger town.
If you have serious symptoms such as difficulty breathing, you should call 000 for urgent medical attention.
As of Wednesday 22 July 11.59pm everyone 12 years old and over, living in metropolitan Melbourne and Mitchell Shire will HAVE to wear a face covering (can be a hospital or home made mask or a scarf) when outside their home to protect them from COVID-19.
There will be a $200 fine for those not wearing one.
Teachers don’t have to wear a face covering while teaching – but students attending for VCE, VCAL or for onsite supervision will, while everyone will be expected to wear one to and from school.
However you will still be expected to carry your face covering at all times to wear when you can.
Otherwise, if you’re leaving your home for one of the four reasons, you need to cover your face.
Face coverings in regional Victoria are recommended in situations where 1.5 metres distance is not possible – however regional Victorians will have to wear a mask when visiting metropolitan Melbourne or Mitchell Shire for one of the permitted reasons.
Wearing a face mask does not apply to:
children under 2 years of age
people with breathing difficulties
people who have physical conditions that make it difficult to wear one.
Remember, if you’re sick you should stay at home unless you need medical care.
To protect our communities, everyone should continue to practise physical distancing and good hygiene. Make sure you stay two big steps away from other people, keep your hands clean, and stay at home and away from other people if you are unwell.
Wash your hands frequently with soap and water or alcohol based rub and cough or sneeze into your elbow. We are all part of keeping our mob safe and stopping the spread of coronavirus.
7.Download the COVIDSafe app
You should download the COVIDSafe app to help protect your family, friends and the community. The app helps health officials to quickly let people know if they have been close to someone who has tested positive for coronavirus. The information can’t be shared, even with you. The more people who use the app, the more effective it will be and the faster we can get back to the things we love.
Together, we can keep our mob COVIDSafe. Visit: health.gov.au for more details.
8. Download 4 COVID-19 mental health poster / graphics from AHCWA
Feeling angry or frustrated during the #COVID_19 lockdown ? Here are a few tips to help you cope.
If you need someone to yarn to, you can contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or find your local Headspace.
Alternatively, you can contact your local ACCHO / Aboriginal Medical Service or GP.
Deadly artwork by Will Bessen provided Aboriginal Health Council of Western Australia
9. If you’re unwell – get tested to help keep our community safe says Dr Kong
Like many Aboriginal health professionals, Worimi man Dr Kelvin Kong has been exceptionally busy the last few months, helping to keep communities safe from COVID-19.
Dr Kong is a surgeon at the University of Newcastle’s School of Medicine and Public Health, and has leant his voice to support Aboriginal communities across NSW, sharing videos and tips for communities to protect themselves during this time.
Over his career, Dr Kong has gained extensive experience working in rural, urban and remote communities and knows first-hand the challenges some communities face in overcoming barriers to health care.
Dr Kong says it’s now more important than ever to keep up with regular appointments, encouraging members of the community to get tested if they have any concerns about COVID19 symptoms.
“It’s important we detect any cases in our community early by getting tested if you have even minor symptoms. Don’t be afraid of the people who are taking the tests, because they’re going to be in protective gear. It’s to help keep us all safe from the spread,” explains Dr Kong.
Testing is available to all members of the community, for free. Aboriginal communities can contact their local Aboriginal Medical Service or Local Area Health District for information on where to access the test in their area.
“The type of test you get might vary depending on where you live and where you go to get tested. You might be tested at the hospital, you might be at a GP practice, or it might be in a drive through testing location,” says Dr Kong.
Dr Kong acknowledges that some members of the community might be worried about getting the test, not knowing what is involved.
“The test is relatively straightforward and simple. It’s not painful at all but can be uncomfortable. The common test involves a nasal swab, which is like a big cotton bud. A swab is taken from inside your nose. It might make you want to sneeze, but it’s over before you even realise that they’ve actually started. It’s really very quick,” Dr Kong explains.
While we are seeing reduced community spread of COVID-19 cases, it’s important to continue testing patients that are unwell, to quickly detect any positive cases and stop the spread in the community, through self isolating.
“If you test positive for COVID-19 you will need to self-isolate, and this can be a really difficult thing for many families. For our mob there can be extra barriers,” says Dr Kong.
“Sometimes, it’s really hard because we don’t have the space to actually self-isolate, but when you can, and if you can, it’s important to be in your own room. If you do have to be in the same room as someone, wear a mask.
“If you’re going to be getting food, make sure that you’re getting it alone. Wipe down surfaces, don’t interact with other people. It’s better if people can place food at your door,” says Dr Kong
While the whole community plays a part in maintaining good hygiene and regular hand washing, health workers also play a key role in helping to stop the spread between patients.
“It’s really important for health workers to stay safe while they’re treating patients. The most important thing is to make sure you wear the protective equipment provided. Face shields or goggles and masks are a must,” said Dr Kong.
“Regular hand washing and wearing gloves and a gown whenever you’re in patient contact is important. These are all simple things to do, and if you’re just seeing one or two patients, it’s very easy. But when you start seeing lots of patients, you get very tired, very quickly.”
Dr Kong is urging health workers and the community to look after their own health and wellbeing too.
“It’s important to have a break. It’s a stressful time and we all need to look out for each other.”
“If you’re feeling stressed or anxious, or concerned about someone close to you, call the Coronavirus mental health line 1800 512 348.”
“There’s no doubt this has been a tough year, with bushfires and coronavirus taking their toll on Aboriginal communities.”
“NAIDOC Week may be postponed, but we’re still taking the opportunity to maintain community connections and celebrate Aboriginal culture.”
“The event will be more than just good fun – it’s a chance to highlight the talented performers right across the country and provide a lifeline to the struggling arts industry.”
Victorian Minister for Aboriginal Affairs Gabrielle Williams announced a variety performance event will be live streamed on Saturday – what would have been the penultimate day of the landmark week-long celebration.
“This year’s NAIDOC theme – ‘Always Was, Always Will Be’, is particularly apt and relevant in this unprecedented time and the rescheduling is aimed at protecting our Elders and those in our communities with chronic health issues from the disastrous impacts of COVID-19.
We would like to recognise and acknowledge the work of our affiliates and our 143 Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations (ACCHOs) have put in during this pandemic to protect our communities and ensure our culture will live on.”
(NACCHO) Chair Donnella Mills says postponing NAIDOC Week 2020 from July to November this year was a small price to pay for protecting our people and safeguarding our culture.
The concert will be hosted by comedians Shiralee Hood and Dion Williams and feature artists including Uncle Archie Roach, Troy Cassar-Daley, Allara, Lady Lash and Mau Power.
NAIDOC Week was scheduled to be held from 5 to 12 July this year, but for the first time in its 64-year history, has been postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
It is traditionally marked each July to honour and pay tribute to Aboriginal culture, history and achievement, with celebrations held across the country.
It is now expected to be scheduled in November.
The Government is investing $150,000 to hold the virtual concert, with support from the Victorian Aboriginal community and the arts sector, including Arts Centre Melbourne.
Join CAAMA Music July 10 for a very special set from Paul Ah Chee – Live from the CAAMA Studio. From this gig you can expect to hear some of his new material from his upcoming solo proejct as well as some stripped back Amunda classics.
” Comprehensive and culturally appropriate primary health care services play a key role in improving the health and wellbeing of Indigenous Australians through prevention, early intervention, health education, and the timely identification and management of physical and psychological issues. “
To this end, the Australian Government provides funding through the IAHP to organisations delivering Indigenous-specific primary health care services (referred to hereafter as organisations).
These organisations, designed to be accessible to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander clients, are administered and run by:
Aboriginal community-controlled health organisations (ACCHOs)
state/territory/local health services
non-government organisations (NGOs), such as women’s health services (a small proportion of services).
They vary in size, location, governance structure, length of time in operation, workforce composition, sources of funding, the services they offer, the ways in which they operate (for example, stand-alone or part of a consortium), and the needs of their clients.
What they all share in common is a holistic approach to meeting the needs of their Indigenous clients, which often involves addressing a complex mix of health conditions.
Each organisation provides contextual information about their organisation to the OSR once each financial year (covering the period July–June). The OSR includes all activities of the funded organisations, regardless of the percentage of those activities funded by IAHP.
This chapter presents a profile of organisations delivering Indigenous-specific primary health care services, including staffing levels, client numbers, client contacts, episodes of care and services provided. It excludes data from organisations that received funding only for maternal and child health services.
Trends over time are presented where possible, noting that the organisations providing data can vary over time which may limit comparability for some purposes (see Technical notes and Glossaryfor more information). Also, in 2018–19, the OSR collection underwent significant change and was scaled back to include only ‘core’ items. Plans are underway to reintroduce key items in a staged approach over the next few years.
The following boxes show key results for organisations providing Indigenous-specific primary health care in 2018–19.
“ ACCHOs, as comprehensive healthcare services whose core business is population‐level health, have the skills, expertise and knowledge to create and execute appropriate COVID‐19 prevention messages.
Part of their success has been the trust that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people place in them primarily because they deliver culturally appropriate service. In a time of crisis, they are best placed to deliver health promotion and crisis communication to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
ACCHOs and their peak bodies, therefore, need to be resourced appropriately to ensure that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have the best possible information to reduce the risk to themselves, their families and their communities. ”
Noting all images and videos below added by NACCHO
Health communication during a health crisis, such as the COVID‐19 pandemic, is vital to reduce the impact on populations. To ensure the communication is effective, audience segmentation is required with specific resources that have been developed for each segment.
In addition, the messages need to be clear, mutual trust between the communicator and the audience needs to be developed and maintained, and resources should focus on cultural values.
The evidence around effective crisis communication indicates that it needs to be timely, clear, concise and appropriate to the target audience. Communication is particularly important for those at higher risk during the crisis, such as people who are immunocompromised, the elderly, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are at increased risk from COVID‐19 due to a range of factors associated with higher rates of non‐communicable diseases and a lack of access to health services in remote communities.
Additionally, there are socio‐cultural factors that put Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people at risk, such as high mobility for family or cultural reasons.
Despite the increased risk to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people from COVID‐19, there has been little specific communication tailored for them from governments since the pandemic commenced.
This is despite the overwhelming evidence that health promotion messages need to be tailored for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
To fill the gap, Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations (ACCHOs) have demonstrated their capacity to deliver scientifically valid, evidence‐based and culturally translated COVID‐19 prevention messages.
The ACCHO sectors’ understanding of population health has led to a strong history of culturally centred health promotion and social marketing materials.
Even before the World Health Assembly declared COVID‐19 a global pandemic (11 March ACCHOs and their peak bodies had developed messages for their communities.
The ACCHO sectors’ communications on COVID‐19 have been produced in addition to their usual service delivery and using existing funding.
Effective social marketing campaigns segment a target audience and develop resources that are culturally appropriate. Culturally appropriate resources include target specific language choices, imagery and an understanding of culturally specific behaviour change motivations.
Four examples of ACCHOs that have delivered tailored resources include the Aboriginal Health and Medical Research Council of NSW (AH&MRC), Apunipima Cape York Health Council (Apunipima), Aboriginal Health Council of Western Australia (AHCWA) and National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO).
Each of the examples provided resources that were tailored specifically for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people by including Aboriginal vernacular, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art and images of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and some included Indigenous languages.
Additionally, the material reflected Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’s kinship structures by promoting self‐isolation and good hygiene as a way of taking care of family and community.
The AH&MRC, the NSW ACCHO peak body, has disseminated existing and new resources promoting COVID‐19 prevention online via their website, Facebook Twitter YouTube and Instagram
Additionally, they created the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Service Pandemic Response Tool Kit. The materials were either resources developed by their member services (ACCHOs) or mainstream materials that have been repurposed and contextualised for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
Apunipima, a Cape York ACCHO in Queensland has also been communicating with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people about how to protect themselves from COVID‐19 via Facebook and TikTok, and by distributing printed resources.
The first Facebook post (6 March 2020) used simple, evidenced‐based prevention messages about handwashing. Subsequently, they produced infographics and short localised video updates.
“The commitment of our Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations (ACCHOs) is to support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander males to live longer, healthier lives by providing a wide range of preventative men’s programs that address critical social and emotional issues that our men face.
The overall aim is reduce the rate of hospitalisations, which is almost three times higher than for other Australian men and to reduce the number of Aboriginal men in prison who are imprisoned at 11 times the rate of the general male population.”
I would urge our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men to focus on their overall health after these two-three months of isolation and get a comprehensive annual 715 health check at their nearest ACCHO. Annual health checks are crucial in picking up little things before they become worse, give peace of mind, and they are free.”
On the occasion of National Men’s Health Week, NACCHO Chair Donnella Mills
The National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) has long recognised the importance of addressing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander male health as part of the Close the Gap initiatives.
” Ingkintja: Wurra apa artwuka pmara Male Health Service at Congress ACCHO has for many years been a national leader in Aboriginal health, not only through its male-only comprehensive primary health care service providing a full suite of medical care complemented by social support services, but through the emphasis that the service places on preventative health with annual 715 health check and weekly engagements, servicing over 1,000 men every year.
See case study part 1 below : Photo above : Left right Terry Braun , John Liddle Manager , David Galvin , Wayne Campbell , Ken Lichleitner
The Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (ACCHO), Apunipima Cape York Health Council’s Public Health Medical Officer, Dr Mark Wenitong, has worked with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men to improve their overall health and mental health.
His expertise and experience have led to his involvement in health reform with the Cape York Aboriginal communities with a dedicated team of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander male workers, who are getting great traction with their community men.
“The strength-based men’s programs delivered by Apunipima continue to see rise in participation rates and better outcomes for Cape York men. Though we still have a long way to go, more of the men are taking control and utilising our programs to support improving their mental health and overall wellbeing,” said Dr Wenitong.
Dr Mark Wenitong on what works in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men’s health
Part 1 Case Study Ingkintja Male Health Service at Congress ACCHO in Alice Springs
Ingkintja: Wurra apa artwuka pmara is an Aboriginal Male Health Service at the Central Australian Aboriginal Congress that takes the lead in providing cultural activities and social and emotional wellbeing services for male health for many years.
The ACCHO delivers a full suite of medical care complemented by social support services with emphasis on preventative health with annual 715 health check, servicing over 1,000 men every year.
Ingkintja takes the lead in supporting men in cultural activities across central Australia by providing equipment and medical support when requested by community leaders.
Incorporated into the male-only service are washing facilities (showers and laundry facilities), a gym and ‘Men’s Shed’.
Congress’ decentralisation of social and emotional well-being services meant that a psychologist and Aboriginal care management worker are available through Ingkintja, allowing therapeutic care (counselling, violence interventions), brief interventions, cultural and social support to men.
Ingkintja also delivers the Jaila Wanti prison to work program, which provides support to Aboriginal prisoners 90 days prior to release and also post release to reintegrate back into community through the coordination of health, wellbeing and social support services.
Male prison transitional care coordinators work with clients on health and wellbeing, and facilitate linkages with employment and training provider. Through the program, Ingkintja deliver regular visits to Aboriginal prisoners in the Alice Springs Correctional facility; conducting sessions with Aboriginal prisoners on their holistic health and wellbeing including health promotions with a focus on staying off the smokes and grog.
Sessions also focus on cultural roots and family connections to rebuild cultural identify and self-worth, and to reinforce positive behaviours while also reflecting on the consequences of impulsivity and violent behaviours.
The team establish trust and respect and assist in reconnecting the men with family and culture and to reintegrate into community. Corrections staff have provided encouraging feedback on the positive impact that these visits have on the Aboriginal prisoners, noting changed attitudes and behaviours as the men reflect on the impact of their actions and ask for the next Ingkintja session.
The Inkintja men’s wash facilities were recently upgraded and continue to be a vital and highly accessed service, especially for men living rough. The facility gives men the obvious benefit of being able to wash and gain self-worth, and provides a critical engagement opportunity for the team to perform health checks, medical follow-up and other necessary referrals to services to improve their health and wellbeing.
The Ingkintja men’s shed and gym has regular sessions that enable males, both young and old, to come together and access valuable skills, such fitness, comradery and practical life skills.
Ingkintja have also been equipped with a men’s health truck, currently being fitted out with three consult rooms, which will increase the reach of the service’s holistic approach further to remote communities in a culturally responsive – and mobile – way.