NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Disability Royal Commission – have your say

The image in the feature tile is NDIS participant Rex Munungurr (middle) and cousin Ted Wanambi (left) out the front of their homes in the East Arnhem Land community of Garrthalala. Photograph: Tamara Howie. Image appeared in The Guardian article The land the NDIS forgot: the remote Indigenous communities losing the postcode lottery published on 5 November 2019.

Disability Royal Commission – have your say

The Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with a Disability wants to hear from people with disabilities, carers, families, support workers – anyone with a lived experience that has feedback and a contribution to make. This is a chance to tell your story and help bring about positive changes in the disability space. Don’t be deterred by the word ‘submission’ – there is no set format, it doesn’t have to be detailed or even written, it can be a recording of your story or even a painting.

Some of the common issues being found in submissions to date are discrimination and exclusion, barriers to accessing community services, issues with the NDIS, children being excluded from school, discrimination, and lack of support in the workplace and the disproportional impact of family violence for women with a disability.

Those who are thinking about making a submission are encouraged to contact Your Story Disability Legal Support if they’d like advice and support prior to making a submission. Your Story Disability Legal Support is available in all states and territories offering free independent, confidential support to make submissions to the Disability Royal Commission, which is currently open until Saturday 31 December 2022. It’s not compulsory to contact this service but could be useful if you have concerns about privacy and confidentiality or naming a service provider or other agency that you need to maintain a relationship with, such as a school or an employer. The service can also link people to free counselling and support, interpreting and Auslan services and specific support for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

You can access the Your Story Disability Legal Support website here which includes a webpage for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples here. You can also access the Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability website here.

Image source: Your Story Disability Legal Support website.

NPS MedicineWise Programs and Services Transition

NPS MedicineWise will cease all operations on Saturday 31 December 2022. This follows the recent decision by the Federal Minister for Health and Aged Care, the Hon Mark Butler, to continue with the redesign of the Quality Use of Therapeutics, Diagnostics and Pathology (QUTDP) Program announced in the March 2022 Federal Budget.

Under the redesign, from Sunday 1 January 2023, NPS MedicineWise will no longer receive grant funding from the Department of Health and Aged Care to deliver Quality Use of Medicines (QUM) functions. The Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care (the Commission) will take on core QUM ‘stewardship’ functions while education programs for health professionals and consumers will move to contestable funding.

Although NPS MedicineWise will no longer operate, a number of NPS MedicineWise programs and services will be transitioning to other organisations. The following programs and services will be transitioning to the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care (ACSQHC):

  • MedicineInsight
  • MedicineWise App and Doctor’s Bag App
  • Choosing Wisely Australia website here
  • Delivery of the National Medicines Symposium
  • Delivery of MBS and PBS Practice Reviews
  • Value in Prescribing bDMARDs materials
  • NPS MedicineWise website here and online learning platform here (excludes Australian Prescriber journal and Good Medicine Better Health)

The following programs are transitioning to NACCHO:

  • Good Medicine Better Health
  • Resources to support medicines use in remote locations

NPS MedicineWise online programs and resources that support medicines use in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities will transition to the NACCHO website here from Thursday 1 December 2022. Specific resources being transitioned include:

  • Good Medicines Better Health– learning modules and consumer resources developed for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workers and Practitioners and their communities to improve quality use of medicines and medical tests
  • Resources to support medicines use in remote locations
  • Principles for producing best possible medicines lists for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

If you have any queries regarding these resources, you can contact the NACCHO Medicines team using this email link.

To view the AMA News article NPS MedicineWise Programs and Services Transition in full click here.

Image source: AMA News website.

Exploring how to transform Indigenous oral health

A first-ever conference featuring a wealth of dental experts will explore how to transform Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ oral health and attract more Indigenous dental professionals. Inspirational speakers including Australia’s first Indigenous dentist Dr Chris Bourke and several other oral health specialists and professionals will present at the first Indigenous Dental Association of Australia’s (IDAA) National Conference on Monday 28 November 2022.

Only about 0.4% of the approximately 16,000 employed dentists in Australia are Indigenous and Indigenous patients have significantly poorer oral health outcomes than non-Indigenous patients. “More than 60% of Indigenous patients aged 35-54 have signs of early-stage gum disease and almost one-third of Indigenous adults rate their oral health as poor or fair,” IDAA president Dr Gari Watson said.

“Indigenous children also have significantly worse oral health outcomes than their non-Indigenous counterparts and suffer higher rates of tooth decay and gum disease. We can only close the gap in health inequalities by improving Indigenous representation in the workforce and spurring the next generation of Indigenous health professionals. With oral health key to overall health and wellbeing, it is also vital we improve current dental health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. This conference will help generate ideas for addressing unacceptable oral health inequalities and how we can highlight what’s behind every great smile—healthy teeth.”

To view the Bite magazine article Upcoming conference to explore how to transform Indigenous oral heath in full click here.

Image source: Parenthub website.

Mental health support for flood affected communities

Flood-affected residents in the Central West are being encouraged to access a range of expanded mental health support services to help them deal with the devastating floods that have impacted their communities. Premier Dominic Perrottet said the NSW Government had increased the number of mental health clinicians and workers deployed in the State’s Central West, to provide support to flood ravaged communities.

“We understand it has been an incredibly stressful and upsetting time for people in our flood affected towns and communities. We are committed to providing whatever support we can to help people who are doing it tough,” Mr Perrottet said. “Today I am also announcing an immediate funding boost for Lifeline Central West to increase its Rapid Response Program currently active on the ground, with six additional crisis counsellors, new vehicles and funding for fuel, and accommodation.”

To view NSW Government’s joint media release Mental health support for flood-affected communities in full click here.

There were 157 flood rescues in Eugowra, Central West NSW during the period 13 to 16 November 2022. Photo: NSW SES. Image source: The Orange App.

Staggering undersupply of GPs in next 20 years

New analysis from the Australian Medical Association (AMA) has confirmed Australia is facing a shortage of more than 10,600 GPs by 2031, with the supply of GPs not keeping pace with growing community demand. The AMA’s new report found demand for GP services increased by 58% between 2009 and 2019. The report, The general practice workforce: why the neglect must end is a detailed examination of the scale and causes of the GP workforce shortfall and proposes solutions, as part of the AMA’s Plan to Modernise Medicare campaign.

AMA President Professor Steve Robson said the AMA’s projections showed no let-up in future demand for GP care. “We are staring at this unimaginable shortage of GPs in our future and our projections show these pressures are just not going to ease up. We simply should not be in this position, but it’s clear the short-sighted policies of successive Commonwealth governments have failed the community.”

“We need long-term solutions to improve access to GP led care for patients, including in rural and remote areas that have been hardest hit by workforce shortages. Right now, we need all levels of government to work together with the health sector to resolve the GP workforce issues. These state-based quick fixes are not the answer. Our report shows the most cost-effective method, with the best outcomes for patients, is GP-led primary care. We want to work together with pharmacists, psychologists, and other allied health as part of a collaborative team for every patient,” Professor Robson said.

To view the AMA’s media release AMA report confirms staggering undersupply of GPs in next two decades in full click here.

Image source: AMA News website.

New guidelines to tackle chronic kidney disease

New guidelines to improve the diagnosis and management of chronic kidney disease in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have been launched in a bid to tackle one of the country’s biggest killers. Every day, on average, 63 people with kidney disease die in Australia. While the condition affects one in 10 non-Indigenous Australians, First Nations people are twice as likely to develop kidney disease and nearly four times more likely to die with it.

New guidelines are the results of four years of work from a federally funded project team coordinated by Kidney Health Australia and led by University of Sydney research program Caring for Australians and New Zealanders with Kidney Impairment. with the Recommendations for Culturally Safe Kidney Care for First Nations Australians having now been launched.

To read the National Indigenous Times article New guidelines developed to tackle one of the biggest killers of Indigenous people in full click here.

Image source: Mala’la Health Service Aboriginal Corporation’s Renal Dialysis webpage.

Medicine shortage – Ozempic and Trulicity

You may be aware, there is a severe shortage of two diabetic medicines called Ozempic (semaglutide) and Trulicity (dulaglutide) and the shortage has been very challenging for many Australians  To assist consumers and health professionals, the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) has published two web pages, providing practical information and advice about these shortages including a link to new clinical guidelines from the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP), answers to questions we have received about Ozempic and Trulicity availability and alternative treatments.

Until the end of March 2023, there will be no further supplies of Ozempic available in Australia and access to Trulicity is expected to be very limited. It is recommended that patients who are prescribed Ozempic contact their doctor immediately to have their treatment reassessed. This is especially important as we approach the Christmas holiday period and access to medical services may be limited. This information needs to go out to patients to allow enough time to access alternative treatments.

The TGA will continue to work with Novo Nordisk and Eli Lilly, pharmaceutical wholesalers and medical professional organisations to reduce the impact of this global shortage on consumers, where possible.

If you have any questions, please contact the Australian Government Department of Health’s Medicine Shortages Section on 02 6289 4646 or by email using this link.

Image sources: Ozempic – AJP.com.au and Trulicity. Photo: Bridget Murphy, Newcastle ABC News.

Sector Jobs

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: NACCHO Medicines and Pharmacy Stream at the NACCHO Members’ Conference 2022

The image in the feature tile was taken at the NACCHO Medicines and Pharmacy session at the NACCHO Members’ Conference 2022:    

Left to right: Associate Professor Faye McMillan, Deputy National Rural Health Commissioner, Chastina Heck, Chair of the NACCHO-PSA ACCHO Pharmacist Leadership Group, Rebekah Cassidy, Sanofi Head of Communications Australia and New Zealand, Bryony Forrest, recipient of the NACCHO Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Pharmacist Scholarship, Mike Stephens, NACCHO Director Medicines Policy and Programs.

NACCHO Medicines and Pharmacy Stream at the NACCHO Members’ Conference 2022

“We look at medicine programs that improve how Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people can use medications. We also deal with policies around improving access to medications and making sure that medications and pharmacy services are really accessible. We have been consulting with our Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services across the country on how they manage medicines in the clinics. They’ve asked us to provide some guidelines and support materials to improve how medicines are managed in the clinics,” said Mike Stephens, NACCHO Director of Medicines Policy and Programs at the NACCHO Member’s Conference 2022.

NACCHO Medicines and Pharmacy team hosted a session on ACCHO Medicines Management Guidelines session at the NACCHO Members’ Conference 2022 that highlighted the process involved in having access to good quality, safe, effective and affordable essential medicines for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. To view, the ACCHO Medicines Management Guidelines click here.

About the systems that support safe, effective and cost-effective use of medicines

On Day 2 of the conference, saw another session by the Medicines and Pharmacy team on ‘The IPAC project, Deadly Pharmacists and Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (PSA) Collaborations’. In that session, the presentation covered the importance of the IPAC project, the newly launched Deadly Pharmacists foundation training course co-designed with PSA, and a couple of examples of other PSA collaborations involving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and communities.  To view the presentation click here.

Deadly Pharmacists and PSA Collaboration

In this video in the link below, hear from the Medicines and Pharmacy team who highlight the work carried out for the ACCHO sector and talk about what the NACCHO Member’s Conference 2022 theme- ‘Honour the Past Prepare for the Future’, means to them. The key takeaway is how traditional medicines that trace back 60,000 years ago and past knowledge are still relevant for us now and will be in the future. Featured in the video:

  • Mike Stephens, NACCHO Director Medicines Policy and Programs
  • Alice Nugent, Pharmacist Advisor, NACCHO Medicines Policy and Programs
  • Chastina Heck, Chair of the NACCHO-PSA ACCHO Pharmacist Leadership Group
  • Associate Professor Faye McMillan, Deputy National Rural Health Commissioner
  • Bryony Forrest, the recipient of the NACCHO Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Pharmacist Scholarship, proudly supported by Sanofi.

For more information or any queries on Medicines and Pharmacy, email medicines@naccho.org.au

Developing wellbeing (trauma) informed care approaches across ACCHSs in the Kimberley region of WA

A new health research project in Kimberley aims to improve clinical responses to the experiences of adversity and trauma that many Aboriginal patients experience and the impact this has on their healthcare access and engagement.

Research Fellow Emma Carlin, from The Rural Clinical School of Western Australia and The University of Western Australia’s Medical School, is leading a partnership with the Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Services, Broome Regional Aboriginal Medical Service and the Transforming Indigenous Mental Health and Wellbeing research project, to develop and implement Wellbeing Informed Care approaches for Aboriginal Community Controlled primary health care in the Kimberley region.

The Cooperative Research Centre for Developing Northern Australia (CRCNA) is providing $955,000 to fund the project over three years. This funding is matched with significant in-kind contributions from the partner agencies.

The project will work with clinics and community to co-design and implement Wellbeing Informed Care in a place based and culturally secure way while reflecting on international and national trauma-informed care research.

At the end of the project, the partnership aims to have developed an Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Service specific approach to Wellbeing Informed Care alongside an accessible implementation guide that will be available for other interested services.

To read the full story click here.

Winnunga Nimmityjah AHCS culturally safe and accessible maternity care

Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health and Community Service’s midwifery program aims to remove barriers that prevent women from accessing maternity care by providing culturally safe, non-judgemental and flexible care, says CEO Julie Tongs.

“We focus on the clinical, cultural and spiritual needs of Aboriginal clients, families and the community and the midwifery program welcomed 68 babies into the community in 2020 and 2021,” says Ms Tongs.

“The midwifery team offers antenatal and postnatal care, community at home support, baby health checks, breastfeeding support, immunisations, and a range of women’s health services.

“Our midwives work closely with ACT hospitals, and assist in ensuring continuity of care between Winnunga Nimmityjah AHCS and hospital services”.

Ms Tongs says Winnunga also has a comprehensive child immunisation program they encourage patients to access.

“This also allows us to follow up on our patients’ progress with postpartum recovery, and to assist them with any needs in relation to caring for their infants,” says Ms Tongs.

“It is vitally important for high-risk clients to have access to Aboriginal specific, culturally appropriate midwifery services, as many choose not to access mainstream services without support.”

To read the full story on ‘Supporting Mums through pregnancy and beyond’ in CBR City News click here.

To read the latest Winnunga Nimmityjah AHCS 2021-2022 Annual Report click here.

Congratulations to Aboriginal Nurse/Midwife of the Year: Sarah-Kathleen Colliss – Nunyara Aboriginal Health, Central Coast LHD 

Nurses and midwives across NSW have been celebrated for their significant contribution to the public health system, with the winners of the 10th annual 2022 Excellence in Nursing and Midwifery Awards announced today. Health Minister Brad Hazzard and Regional Health Minister Bronnie Taylor congratulated the nurses and midwives for their outstanding commitment to providing world-class care to patients across NSW.

“These nurses and midwives deserve to be recognised for going above and beyond in their dedication to caring for patients, their families and communities every day,” Mr Hazzard said.

“I’d also like to take this opportunity to thank all of the highly skilled health staff for the excellent work they do across NSW, particularly during the past few years of the pandemic.”

The winners in each of the eight categories are:

  • Nurse of the Year: Cecilia Desousa – Liverpool Hospital, South Western Sydney LHD
  • Midwife of the Year: Kim Wood – Liverpool Hospital, South Western Sydney LHD
  • Aboriginal Nurse/Midwife of the Year: Sarah-Kathleen Colliss – Nunyara Aboriginal Health, Central Coast LHD D
  • New to Practice Nurse/Midwife of the Year: Rachael Roach – Port Macquarie Base Hospital, Mid North Coast LHD; and Stacey-Lee Cossar-Denny – Gilgandra Multi-Purpose Service, Western NSW LHD
  • Nursing/Midwifery Team of the Year: Campbelltown – Marrickville and Redfern Acute Care Service, Sydney LHD
  • Judith Meppem Leadership Award: Sonia Marshall – Director Nursing, Midwifery and Performance, South Western Sydney LHD
  • Healing Heart (colleague) Award for exceptional care: Denise Burns – Campbelltown Hospital, South Western Sydney LHD
  • Healing Heart (consumer) Award for exceptional care: Judy Boynton – Sustaining NSW Families, Illawarra Shoalhaven LHD

Chief Nursing and Midwifery Officer Jacqui Cross said the winners represent a wide range of roles performed by nurses and midwives in diverse settings across the NSW health system.

“Nurses and midwives are an integral part of our health system, providing the essential care and support people require through different stage of their life,” Ms Cross said.

“All of the finalists and winners should be proud of their achievements – they make a difference in the lives of patients every day.”

Read the full story here.

Sarah-Kathleen Colliss have been selected from nominations across eight categories that recognise nurses and midwives who have made a difference in clinical practice, management and leadership.

More First Nations Australians receiving NDIS support

First Nations Australians living with disability are accessing the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) in greater numbers, according to new data.

The latest NDIS Quarterly Report shows that of the 23,137 new participants to enter the Scheme in the quarter, 9.4 per cent (2,169) identified as First Nations peoples.

As of 30 September 2022, the NDIS was providing disability support to 40,842 First Nations participants, up from 34,378 at the same time last year – an increase of more than 18 per cent.

Minister for the NDIS, Bill Shorten, and Senator Malarndirri McCarthy are pleased to see the number of First Nations participants increase, as the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) continues to focus on ensuring First Nations peoples with disability can more easily access support.

Increasing the number of First Nations staff working at the NDIA is also a priority for the Australian Government. In the 2022 APS Census, three per cent of NDIA staff identified as First Nations people.

The NDIA’s First Nations Employee Network (FNEN) Conference was held for the first time since COVID, with Senator McCarthy as a guest speaker.

Since June 2022, the NDIA has:

  • Discussed the potential of a partnership agreement with First Peoples Disability Network Australia (FPDN) to support the NDIA in the co-design of the strategy.
  • Engaged with key internal and external stakeholders to discuss their involvement and input in the strategy co-design process.

Senator Malarndirri McCarthy said, “Having attended the NDIA’s latest First Nations Employee Network Conference, the Agency has increasing the number of First Nations NDIA staff on their agenda. The network’s conference will help the NDIA’s efforts to deliver culturally appropriate NDIS support to First Nations communities.

“I spoke directly to First Nations NDIA staff and gave the Australian Government’s overview of the NDIS and First Nations matters.

“The conference also explored the actions in their NDIA First Nations Employment and Inclusion Plan 2022-25 and what the Agency could do to bring those actions to life, including career development, recruitment and retention of First Nations peoples.”

To read the full story click here.

image of wheelchair wheel & seat overlaid with Aboriginal dot painting gold, red, blue white tones

Image source: AbSec website.

Noel Pearson proposes “A job guarantee for the Bottom Million”

In the third instalment of his thought-provoking ABC Boyer Lecture series, Noel Pearson examines the individual, community and societal structures required to empower Aboriginal communities and how a Voice will support them.

In this lecture, Pearson cites a 2017 Productivity Commission report which found three per cent of Australians were in income poverty continuously for at least the previous four years. They come from single parent families, the unemployed, people with disabilities and Indigenous Australians who were particularly likely to experience income poverty, deprivation and social exclusion.

“The Commission’s numbers are open to debate.  They are likely an underestimate. I propose this Bottom Million is caught in four traps: the trap of the natural rate of unemployment, the trap of the middle-class welfare service industries, the trap of the vice industries and the trap of voicelessness.” Pearson said.

“If a Voice is to be effective and meaningful, it must be about giving the Wik people a Voice, so that they can take better responsibility for their people. It must be about giving the Yolngu a Voice, so that they can be empowered to solve their own problems. It must be about giving the Yorta Yorta a voice. This must not be a top-down, socialist structure.”

Read the full story here.

Noel Pearson in his third ABC Boyer Lecture

Sector Jobs

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

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

 

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Connected Beginnings national gathering hosted by SNAICC

The image in the feature tile is from the SNAICC website on the event.

Connected Beginnings national gathering hosted by SNAICC 

“We all want the best for our children, and it’s incredibly important that all kids thrive in their early years to get the best start to life,” said Senator Malarndirri McCarthy – NT as she shared pictures in a post on the Connected Beginnings national gathering earlier this week in Brisbane.

Powerful stories, sharing and experiences as day one of the Connected Beginnings event. This is the first time services have been able to get together for a few years, and the first with SNAICC as Community Partner.

NACCHO along with the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services (ACCHSs) are happy to work in partnership with the Australian Government and SNAICC-National Voice for our Children to deliver the health component of this program which makes a real difference towards improving the lives of our kids and building better outcomes for them.

Background Information

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

The program demonstrates how change can be made within the new Closing the Gap partnership arrangements and how transformation can happen if everyone has a shared vision, trust, and commitment.

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

To read a previous article on a Connected Beginnings program run by one of our affiliates, the Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre (TAC), an ACCHO for the Tasmanian Aboriginal community click here.

Image source: Senator Malarndirri McCarthy – Northern Territory Facebook page

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Postgraduate Scholarships

CSIRO offer opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander university students to undertake postgraduate research degrees. Master and PhD scholarships are available for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students who are enrolled in an Australian university and wish to undertake a postgraduate research degree.

The CSIRO postgraduate scholarships provide additional funding to a research training program (RTP) Scholarship, Centrelink education scheme payment or equivalent scholarship.

Applicants must be of Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander descent and enrolled in an Australian university.

If you have studied in any of the following disciplines, the CSIRO team are happy to hear from you:

  • science
  • technology
  • engineering
  • maths.

For more information click here.

Dr Veronica Matthews work recognised as top 10 First Nations health author

Matthews’ work focuses on improving holistic health care systems, the model of comprehensive care embodied by community-controlled primary health services that care for body, mind and spirit for first nations patients. Dr Veronica Matthews is a health systems researcher from the Quandamooka community of Minjerribah (North Stradbroke Island). She is based at the University Centre for Rural Health (UCRH) on Widjabul/Wyabul Country in Lismore.

Last month Matthews was acknowledged as top 10 First Nations health author by scholarly output in the world along with two other University of Sydney’s Faculty of Medicine and Health colleagues FMH researchers.

Early influences – as a saltwater Murri, Matthews’ early experiences – the saltwater country around Minjerribah aka North Stradbroke Island – were the initial inspiration for her studies in ecology and environmental toxicology. Her PhD involved assessing persistent organic pollutants in Moreton Bay seafood for consumption advisories and health risk assessments for surrounding communities. This took Matthews to work for more than 20 years in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health sector across government and research roles. And always, from the get-go, Matthews’ work focused on improving holistic health care systems, the model of comprehensive care embodied by community-controlled primary health services that care for body, mind and spirit.

To read the full story click here.

Image source: University of Sydney website

Grant to research shortage of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander nurses and midwives

A Charles Sturt University nursing educator is part of a multi-organisation research team to be awarded a large grant to investigate why Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders are under-represented in the ranks of nurses and midwives.

  • $1.1 million ARC Discovery Indigenous Grant awarded to a consortium team of nursing and midwifery education researchers
  • A leading Charles Sturt University nursing educator is a member of the research team
  • The researchers aim to strengthen anti-racism and cultural safety in healthcare education

A Charles Sturt University nursing educator is part of a multi-organisation research team to be awarded a large grant to investigate why Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders are under-represented in the ranks of nurses and midwives.

Head of the Charles Sturt School of Nursing, Paramedicine and Healthcare Sciences Associate Professor Linda Deravin is a member of the research team led by Professor Karen Adams, Director of the Gukwonderuk Indigenous Unit in the Faculty of Medicine, Nursing and Health Science at Monash University.

To read the full story click here.

Aboriginal lady on dialysis and Aboriginal nurse

Image source: Queensland Health.

RACGP announces GP training leadership appointments

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) has welcomed the appointment of senior leaders to support its Australian General Practice Training (AGPT) Program delivery in 2023. The RACGP has been recruiting the people required to deliver its profession-led AGPT program across Australia from 1 February 2023.

RACGP Chief GP Training Officer Ms Georgina van de Water joined the RACGP in February 2022, and previously led GP Synergy in NSW and the ACT. Ms van de Water said she knows from 14 years of leadership experience in the sector that regional training organisations have provided a great service to GP training, and the RACGP’s new appointments will enable the college to build on that success. “Our new national and regional leadership appointments come with extensive experience in managing general practice education, to meet the current and future needs of the profession and managing the systems that support trainers and GPs in training,” she said.

One of the RACGP’s key priorities is ensuring a smooth transition for GPs in training, supervisors and practices, and minimising disruption. To this end, the College is recruiting local and regional staff who know the local operations, training practices and participants in each state and territory, and can ensure a seamless transition.

Ms van de Water said, “We continue to work closely with stakeholders to ensure a transition with as little disruption to the delivery of GP training as possible, including the Department of Health, peak bodies representing GP supervisors and registrars, the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation, rural workforce agencies and clinical schools, primary health networks, state health organisations, local hospitals and community health services.”

To read the full story click here.

torso of doctor in white coat hand on stethoscope around neck

Image source: Armidale Express.

Australian-first cervical cancer screening program aims to reduce high mortality rates among Aboriginal women

Reducing the unacceptably high rates of cervical cancer in women from remote Aboriginal communities is the aim of an Australian-first cervical screening program being trialled in WA’s Kimberley region.

The program, developed by the University of Notre Dame Australia in collaboration with health providers and other research partners, enables specialist medical staff to travel to remote communities with the latest portable testing equipment, which can determine within 45 minutes whether a patient is carrying the cancer-causing human papillomavirus (HPV).

The initiative is only possible through existing partnerships with the WA Country Health Service (WACHS), WA Cervical Cancer Prevention Program, King Edward Memorial Hospital for Women, Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Service, Australian Centre for the Prevention of Cervical Cancer, Australian National University, University of Queensland, and the University of Sydney.

UNDA post-doctoral researcher Dr Aime Powell said Aboriginal women were twice as likely to be diagnosed with cervical cancer and three times more likely to die from the disease, mainly due to a lack of testing.

She said cervical cancer was one of the most preventable and treatable cancers and cervical screening was the most effective way to detect precancerous cells. Those cells can then be removed before they develop into cancer. However, less than 50% of all eligible Kimberley women participate in routine screening at the recommended interval.

“Given the existing inequitable health outcomes, it was clear that an innovative approach was needed to improve women’s access to participate in cervical screening.” Dr Powell said.

Read the full story here.

Image source: Menshalena, Getty Images.

Sector Jobs

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

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

 

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Unique helpline 13YARN officially launched

The image in the feature tile is from

Unique helpline 13YARN officially launched

This morning, Federal Member for Indigenous Affairs, the Honourable Linda Burney MP, was joined by Assistant Minister for Mental Health and Suicide Prevention, the Hon Emma McBride MP to officially launch Australia’s first – and only – national Indigenous-led crisis hotline, 13YARN. Funded by the Australian Government (through the Department of Health), the purpose-built, 24/7 national telephone helpline was co-designed with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and is run with the support of Lifeline.

More than 2,500 calls to 13YARN were answered in October 2022, which is an increase of 500 on the previous month. In the first 10 days of November, the service answered over 1,000 calls and is on track for its biggest month to date. “The more we have gone out into the community, the more trust we have been able to build – by showing mob that we are listening to their needs and yarning about the ways in which we can help them when they are feeling overwhelmed or doing it tough.”

“On average, our First Nations Crisis Supporters are helping keep over 100 people safe a day – and this call volume is growing week on week. We believe there is always hope at the end of a yarn. We know how to listen without judgement or shame, and we believe in the power of storytelling to heal.” Mrs Anderson said that the service filled a gap that had existed for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people for too long, “This one-of-a-kind service has been designed from day one to be culturally appropriate and is there to make sure any mob who are having difficulty coping have their own place where they can connect and get help from a trained Crisis Supporter who understands what they might be experiencing.”

To view the Mirage article Unique Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander helpline officially launched in Sydney in full click here.

Image source: 13YARN tweet 28 October 2022.

Plan to cut mob’s hearing loss by half

Hearing Australia has set itself an ambitious target, launching a plan to halve the rate of hearing loss among Indigenous children by 2029. It’s a widespread and chronic problem across Australia, with one in three Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children experiencing otitis media, inflammation and infection of the middle ear. Local diagnosis and treatment are not always available. These infections cause temporary hearing loss, making it hard for children to hear, learn, and yarn. The Hearing Australia action plan is an all-out effort to improve ear health and hearing outcomes for Indigenous children. It calls for earlier diagnosis, better access to treatment, and building workforce capabilities in primary health care services across Australia.

One of the people leading the effort is Denise Newman, who was born on Thursday Island and grew up in Bamaga on Cape York Peninsula. Early detection of ear infection is vital to prevent hearing loss Denise is a strong advocate for better ear health and hearing, who understands the challenges better than most. “I’m profoundly deaf in one ear, but I’m moderate in the right. I can really feel for the children. I know what it feels like not to hear.”

Otitis media can be a product of socio-economic factors in remote communities like overcrowding, poor nutrition, lack of sleep, poor access to services, and low immunisation rates. Since the introduction of the Hearing Assessment Program – Early Ears (HAPEE), there has already been a reduction in hearing loss because children are coming in early, and they’re being detected early and being treated early.

To view the Tropic Now article Bold plan to cut Indigenous hearing loss by 50 per cent in full click here.

Hearing Australia’s Denise Newman was born on Thursday Island and grew up in Bamaga. Image source: Tropic Now.

Nurse and midwife shortage research

A Charles Sturt University nursing educator is part of a multi-organisation research team to be awarded a large grant to investigate why Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders are under-represented in the ranks of nurses and midwives. Head of the Charles Sturt School of Nursing, Paramedicine and Healthcare Sciences Associate Professor Linda Deravin is a member of the research team led by Professor Karen Adams, Director of the Gukwonderuk Indigenous Unit in the Faculty of Medicine, Nursing and Health Science at Monash University.

The $1.1 million ARC Discovery Indigenous Grant was awarded to the team of researchers from Muliyan, a consortium of nurse and midwifery education researchers and hosted by the Congress of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Nurses and Midwives (CATSINaM) that Associate Professor Deravin is part of.

Associate Professor Deravin said the $1.1 million ARC Discovery Indigenous Grant is the largest-ever funded ARC Indigenous grant and represents approximately 10% of the total Indigenous Discovery grant allocation of $10,688,702. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders are only 1.3% of the nursing and midwifery professions in Australia, far below the 3.8% of the nation’s First Nations population (as of June 2021).

To read the Charles Sturt University article $1.1 million grant to research shortage of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander nurses and midwives in full click here.

Image source: Charles Sturt University Latest News webpage.

Centre for Disease Control consultation paper

The Department of Health and Aged Care has released a consultation paper Role and Functions of an Australian Centre for Disease Control: Prevention-Promotion-Protection outlining plans for the Centre for Disease Control (CDC), including 28 questions to guide further consultations about the initiative. The document reveals that the CDC is likely to be established from early 2024. The new document is an excellent discussion paper which clearly seeks to walk the tightrope between high aspirations for the new agency, and the pragmatism of working with a government with many competing priorities and resource constraints. We will of course be pushing those aspirations.

The paper provides a Draft Mission Statement and a set of Draft Purposes for the agency. The purposes are that the CDC will Protect, Gather and Analyse, Guide and Communicate, Lead, Cooperate, Prioritise and Develop. Themes highlighted in the consultation paper include climate and health, One Health, the importance of prioritising Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health, equity, diversity and the wider determinants of health.

To view the Role and Functions of an Australian Centre for Disease Control: Prevention-Promotion-Protection consultation paper click here and to read the Croakey Health Media article On the new Centre for Disease Control, here are 28 questions requiring your attention in full click here.

Image source: Croakey Health Media.

Inequities in cancer care can be overcome

Cancer care is suboptimal for some groups in Australia, but according to experts, the disparities can be overcome. While cancer instances went down by 16% between 1998 and 2015 for Australians as a whole, the numbers increased for Indigenous Australians by 26%. Rural Australians were 1.3 times more likely to die from cancer in 2021 and members of the LGBTIQA+ community were also disproportionately affected by certain cancers, including breast and ovarian cancers.

In addition to the heightened physical challenges, family stress and financial and employment difficulties that come with a cancer diagnosis, patients from rural areas are commonly faced with extensive travel to access medical services unavailable closer to home, she said.

Dr Kalinda Griffiths, an epidemiologist at the Centre for Big Data Research in Health at the University of New South Wales, works on empirically addressing complex health disparities through existing data, particularly by using Indigenous data for research and reporting purposes. Addressing inequity and the needs and aspirations of Indigenous people begins with the application of human rights and the appropriate and effective use of Indigenous data, said Dr Griffiths. She emphasised that supporting Indigenous worldviews, values, understandings and practices within Western structures plays a crucial role in the rights and interests of Indigenous people being met.

To view the Oncology Republic article Inequity in cancer care: instances of change in full click here. In the below video Professor Alex Brown from the Aboriginal Health Research Adelaide Medical School, The University Adelaide talks about the health disparities in Aboriginal communities.

Lowitja Institute funding round CLOSES Monday!

Applications for the Lowitja Institute’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Major Grant Round 2022-23 close on Monday next week.

The purpose of the Major Grants is to support innovative and responsive community research led by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community controlled organisations to improve the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. The aim is for research to influence policy and practice through the rapid translation of community priorities for improved outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and wellbeing. It will also support the capability and capacity building of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations to do their own research, their way.

Applications close on Monday 21 November 2022. More information can be found on the Lowitja Institute website here.

Puzzle piece image from Bond University website.

Sector Jobs

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

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

World Prematurity Day

November 17 is World Prematurity Day, a globally celebrated awareness day to increase awareness of preterm births as well as the deaths and disabilities due to prematurity and the simple, proven, cost-effective measures that could prevent them.

Preterm birth remains the leading cause of death in children up to 5 years of age. The National average rate of preterm birth in Australia has remained relatively constant over the last 10 years (between 8.1 and 8.7%). Many of these babies lose their fight for life. For many Aboriginal babies, the news gets worse. In the NT, the preterm birth rate for our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander babies is almost double that of the non-Aboriginal population at over 14%.

The biggest discrepancy is in the extremely preterm gestational age. Aboriginal women in the NT are 4 times more likely to lose a baby between 20 and 23 weeks gestational age. That is before the baby even gets a chance to survive. This equates to too many mothers walking out of hospital without their babies in their arms.

For more information about World Prematurity Day visit the Miracle Babies Foundation website here and for further information about preterm birth in Aboriginal populations visit the Australian Preterm Birth Prevention Alliance website here. The image below is from a Solid Mob – Tackling Indigenous Smoking Facebook post on World Prematurity Day last year. Accompanying the image is the following information: If Smoking during pregnancy was eliminated among Indigenous women, 1 in 6 preterm births could be prevented. Among babies born to Indigenous Women, 14% were born preterm, which is one of the biggest risk factors to bub dying by 1 month old.

Image source: Solid Mob – Tackling Indigenous Smoking Facebook page – 17 November 2021.

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Ancient practice helping Kimberley

The image in the feature tile is of a cultural healer treating a patient’s knee by rubbing in red ochre and singing healing songs. The image appeared in an article ‘The women’s song is so strong’: cultural healing in the Kimberley published in The Guardian yesterday, Monday 14 November 2022. Photo: Richard Wainwright, AAP.

Ancient practice helping the Kimberley

Deep in WA’s outback, in a region haunted by trauma and loss, a group of elderly women carry out an ancient healing practice. Red ochre is rubbed into a patient’s knee as they sing a powerful song, their arthritic hands working in a liquid motion. The healers have seen plenty of pain – both physical and spiritual – among those seeking their help.

“We see their eyes when they come to us. We see the eyes and the eyes tell us that person is sick,” a healer said. “They come to us ladies and we sing that healing song to them. We put the red ochre on them first to protect them, because the women’s song is so strong. And after that, they feel real good. They feel settled and calm and everything.”

Jalngangurru Healing is a trial program connecting patients in the Kimberley with male and female cultural healers. It targets clients in Fitzroy Crossing, Derby and surrounding communities, supported by the Kimberley Aboriginal Law and Culture Centre and Emama Nguda Aboriginal Corporation with federal funding. But the demand for its services is flooding in from across the nation.

“It went active on social media and it just went mad,” said Emama Nguda chief executive Ben Burton. “There were people from all over Australia sending messages trying to access help … people who are just desperate, in pain and suffering from mental health, loss after loss after loss and depression. All the feedback so far from people is it’s just life-changing.”

To view the Australian Associated Press article Ancient practice helping to heal Kimberley in full click here.

Tammy Solonec is helping people access traditional cultural healing in WA’s north. Photo: Richard Wainwright. Image source: AAP.

Repeated breaches of child rights at detention centre

Save the Children is appalled by the footage from WA’s Banksia Hill Juvenile Detention Centre aired by ABC’s Four Corners and condemns the conduct as a gross violation of children’s rights. The video shows a boy being handcuffed, forcibly held down and sat on by guards in a dangerous restraint technique known as ‘folding up’, with reports several other boys have been subjected to similar practices. The ABC footage is further evidence that children’s rights are continuing to be violated at Banksia Hill Juvenile Detention Centre, highlighting the urgent need for an overhaul of WA’s youth justice system before more irreparable harm is done.

To view the Save the Children media release Repeated breaches of child rights in WA youth detention must end now in full click here.

In a related article Union: ‘Chronic understaffing’ contributing to stress and aggression among Banksia Hill child detainees available here a union representing youth custodial officers say “chronic understaffing” at Banksia Hill Detention Centre is contributing to the heightened stress and aggression among child detainees.

The CPSU/CSA on Monday released a letter its leadership sent to the Department of Justice in May 2021 – 18 months ago – that sounded the alarm on safety concerns at the facility. The letter said dangerously low staffing levels was putting the workforce at risk, denying the children in custody proper rehabilitation and resulting in “rolling lockdowns”.

The 15-year-old boy spent more than 60% of his recent stint in custody, in unlawful solitary confinement. Image source: ABC News.

Flooding makes existing disadvantage worse

Australia is currently experiencing its third consecutive year of a La Niña weather cycle, with more rainfall than average expected over the spring and summer months and a heightened risk of floods, tropical cyclones, prolonged heatwaves and grass fires in southern Australia.  According to the Human Rights Council Report 75-80% of the world’s population will be negatively impacted by climate change. It also states climate change will exacerbate existing poverty and inequality and have the most severe impact on our poor.

Indigenous people in Australia make up just 3.8% of the population. Still, they account for nearly 30% of those living in poverty and up to 50% in remote communities. Many live in poor, overcrowded housing not prepared for natural disasters or the effects of climate change such as persistently hotter temperatures. In addition, there is limited nearby infrastructure or resources to prepare for and respond to emergencies.

All levels of government have been criticised for a lack of action in supporting Indigenous communities during times of crisis. This now needs to be addressed urgently, given the destructive weather is forecast to continue in the coming months. Earlier this year, when floods hit the town of Lismore in NSW, the local Indigenous community was left to fend for themselves, with many people losing their homes and possessions. First Nations communities were among those worst affected, with many people stranded without access to food or clean water.

To read the Mirage article Effects of climate change such as flooding makes existing disadvantages for Indigenous communities so much worse in full click here.

Chelsea Claydon (left) and Izzy Walton (right) have been running the Koori Kitchen in Lismore, which is still providing 100s of meals to flood-affected residents on the Northern Rivers. Photo: Matt Coble. Image source: ABC News.

Workplace racism leaves workers traumatised

Between 2018 and 2020, Ms Jacqueline Stewart worked within the NSW Health Education Centre Against Violence (ECAV) — a unit responsible for helping with the prevention and response to violence, abuse and neglect, including within Indigenous communities. She resigned in 2021 after, she said, her complaints to NSW Health management about racism and bullying were not properly addressed.

There were several incidents, but some of the main ones she made formal complaints about included that a contracted worker in her team painted her face black at a work function and then posted it on the ECAV’s Facebook page at the time. Ms Stewart describes her time at NSW Health as “emotional destruction” and says the impacts of racism and bullying are long lasting. “It’s impacted my family. It’s been a massive impact.”

Research conduct last year by consulting firm MindTribes and the University of Melbourne, found that 76% of respondents either witnessed discrimination, experienced discrimination, or had both witnessed and experienced it, and 69% of respondents felt “low or no confidence” in the reporting process.

The latest data follows a report from Diversity Council Australia (DCA) called Racism at Work, released earlier this year found 88%t of respondents agreed racism was an issue in Australian workplaces and 93% agreed organisations needed to take action to address it. While support for organisations to tackle workplace racism was high, only 27%t of survey respondents said their organisations were proactively preventing workplace racism.

To view the MSN article ‘Isolated and traumatised’ workers subject to racist slurs call for employers to do more to stamp out bullying and harassment in full click here.

Jacqueline Stewart, a former employee of NSW Health, was a victim of racism. Photo: Daniel Irvine, ABC News.

Calls for input on draft Australian Cancer Plan

Minister for Health and Aged Care, Mark Butler, said the Australian Government is calling for stakeholder input on the draft Australian Cancer Plan (ACP) which is designed to provide lasting change and improve outcomes for all people affected by cancer. Australia leads the world in cancer outcomes however, it is still the leading cause of death in this country. This year alone, 50,000 people will lose their lives to cancer.

The draft ACP presents the opportunity for all Australians to comment on a ground-breaking national strategy that sets out strategic objectives, ambitions, goals and priority actions for cancer control. To make a difference we need coordinated system-wide engagement.

To view Minister Butler’s media release Consultation opens on draft Australian Cancer Plan in full click here.

Indigenous Eye Health Unit to launch book

Indigenous Eye Health Unit invite you to the launch of “Minum Barreng: The story of the Indigenous Eye Health Unit” (IEHU). This book documents the work and achievements of the IEHU over the last 15 years.
The launch will be from 10:00 – 11:30AM on Friday 2 December 2022 in the Woodward Centre, Level 10, Melbourne Law School, 185 Pelham Street, Carlton.

Registrations for the launch close on Thursday 24 November 2022.

For more information you can access a flyer about the book launch event here.

Sector Jobs

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Time to treat sick kids, not punish them

The Fairfax Media image in the feature tile is from a WAtoday article One-stop-shop youth prison model a ‘failure’ as MP calls for to Banksia Hill to close published on 2 November 2018.

Time to treat sick kids, not punish them

The Policy Impact Program is a partnership between The Winston Churchill Trust and The University of Queensland (UQ). It aims to help Churchill Fellows draw upon the international knowledge they gain on their Fellowships to best inform policy reform in Australia. Policy Futures: A Reform Agenda is the Program’s flagship publication which combines some of the best of the Churchill Fellows’ insights with the policy and governance expertise of UQ’s Centre for Policy Futures.

Professor Thomas Edwin Calma, AO, co-Patron of The Winston Churchill Trust, said: “Policy Futures second issue includes four Churchill Fellow-developed reform agendas that have the potential to not only transform many Indigenous peoples’ lives for the better, but also support Australian Governments to achieve the 2020 National Agreement on Closing the Gap targets.”

One of the four Fellows, Clement Ng, found almost 95% of children in NT detention are Indigenous. Research suggests that effective strategies that improve the mental health of First Nations young people will reduce their criminalisation and in turn, their over-representation. The Royal Commission and Board of Inquiry into the Protection and Detention of Children in the NT found 56% of children who gave evidence about their experience in youth detention had a history of self-harm and/or suicidal ideation. Further, justice-involved children are more likely to receive more than one mental health diagnosis or suffer from a dual diagnosis of mental health and substance misuse. Unfortunately, the current funding the NT receives for mental health services per capita is the lowest in the country and none of the community mental health services at present have capacity to meet demand.

Policy recommendations from Mr Ng’s research include:

  • Pilot a youth mental health diversion list in the NT.
  • Involve ACCHOs to co-design and deliver holistic community mental health services.

To read The Mandarin article Policy futures: A reform agenda in full click here.

Image source: Orygen Youth Mental Health Policy Briefing 2018.

Leading cause of death for mob – cancer

Jacinta Elston was in her 20s and had just had her first child when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. The Queensland mother needed surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy, to fight the disease, and almost 20 years later is cancer-free. She was working as an assistant professor of Indigenous health at James Cook University, which meant she had a good knowledge of the medical system.

She said other members of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island community may not be as used to dealing with, or even talking about cancer. “I’ve seen family, friends, mob and community who haven’t had the same sort of outcomes I have, ” Elston said. “Cancer hasn’t really been in our vocabulary in the same way that heart disease and diabetes and renal dialysis has been,” she said. “It’s now our leading cause of death.” First Nations Australians are almost one and a half times more likely to die from cancer compared to non-Indigenous Australians.

The group are more likely to get the disease but less likely to use screening services, like those on offer for bowel or breast cancer, according to Cancer Australia figures from 2015–2019.

To view the 9 News article ‘Cancer hasn’t been in our vocabulary’: Plan to tackle ‘leading cause of death’ for Indigenous Australians in full click here.

Professor Jacinta Elston is working to improve cancer survival in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders. Image source: 9 NEWS.

Global challenge to find health fixes for Pilbara

The WA government has announced a global challenge in hopes to improve health incomes in remote parts of the Pilbara. Medical Research Minister Stephen Dawson announced the newly titled The Challenge last week. The WA government joined partners with corporate investors for a $5 million reward for applicants who are able to provide the best solution to enhance health care in the Pilbara.

Lead by the WA Department of Health, The Challenge seeks submissions from industry, the private sector, public sector agencies, universities, research institutes or collaborations from international organisations. Mr Dawson said the challenge wanted to find a technology solution to improve health outcomes for Pilbara residents.

“This is about improving the health of Western Australians living in rural and remote areas to reduce disease and injury for the community and particularly for remote Aboriginal communities,” he said. “We’re not calling for improvements, or incremental change. We need real change, we need world-leading innovation. We are looking for an outcome which harnesses new technology, deploys digital health to its full potential, and ensures all Western Australians can access the health services they need, and deserve.”

To read the National Indigenous Times article WA Govt sets mutli-million dollar global challenge to find health fixes for remote Pilbara communities in full click here.

WA’s Pilbara. Photo: Oliver Strewe – Getty Images. Image source: The Guardian.

Better care for people living with eating disorders

The Albanese Government is investing $13 million to help mental health professionals and researchers improve treatment outcomes for Australians living with eating disorders. The InsideOut Institute will receive $13 million to fund the Australian Eating Disorders Research and Translation Centre, which was officially launched by the Assistant Minister for Mental Health and Suicide Prevention, Emma McBride at the University of Sydney yesterday.

Eating disorders have some of the highest mortality rates of any mental illness and many Australians often go undiagnosed. The new centre will focus on research to prevent and treat eating disorders, translating these developments into frontline services and co-designing treatments with people with lived experience, their family, and carers.

To view the Minister McBride’s media release Better care for people living with eating disorders in full click here. The below Butterfly Foundation Every BODY is Deadly video was developed to bring greater awareness to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities about the signs and supports available for people impacted by eating disorders.

Social Work Perspectives on FASD webinar

The Australasian Professional Society on Alcohol and other Drugs is hosting a webinar Social Work Perspectives on FASD at 1:00PM (AEDT) Wednesday 16 November 2022.

In this webinar, social work perspectives on FASD will be explored drawing on evidence from research, practitioner and caregiver studies and experiences. Three presenters will focus on the current situation in NZ. Dr Joanna Chu will identify the knowledge and attitude gaps among social work professionals recently surveyed by researchers from the University of Auckland; Karleen Dove will consider the roles and responsibilities and other key issues for social workers when helping families where FASD is identified as a likely disability for a child; and Professor Anita Gibbs will draw on research and lived experience to discuss best practice from social workers that is neuro-informed, culturally safe, system-wide, attuned to what families want and need, and ensures healthy outcomes for all.

To register for the Social Work Perspectives on FASD webinar click here.

National Indigenous Legal & Health Justice Conference

The National Indigenous Legal & Health Justice Conference 2022 kicks off on Sunday 4 December 2022.

Major topics of the conference include: Treaty, Voice, and Truth-Telling; Native Title and Land Rights; Health justice and justice reinvestment; Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion; the over-representation of children and young people in State systems; the failure of Aboriginal heritage and environmental protection laws; intellectual property rights; and the challenges facing legal aid and access to justice.

Confirmed speakers include: Senator Pat Dobson – Chair of Joint Standing Committee on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs; Michael Mansell – activist, lawyer, and author of Treaty and Statehood; Donnella Mills – Chair of NACCHO and spokesperson for Health Justice; Pat O’Shane – former Magistrate and activist; Pat Turner AM – CEO of NACCHO and spokesperson for Coalition of Closing the Gap Peak Bodies; Corey Tutt OAM – founder and CEO of @Deadly Science; Leah Cameron – principal of Marrawah Law and Aboriginal expert on Australian Heritage Council; Patricia Adjei – Australia Council of the Arts; Jamie Lowe, CEO of National Native Title Council along with Native Title Senior Counsel, Aboriginal lawyers, serving and retired Magistrates; experts and law students; and legal aid practitioners.

Tickets for the National Indigenous Legal & Health Justice Conference are now on sale here.

Sector Jobs

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Indigenous perspectives of planetary health

The image in the feature tile is artwork by Yaegl artist Frances Belle Parker, who explained the symbolism of her artwork: the gum leaf shape, when upright, can also represent a flame. Inside the leaf is an aerial mapping of the Clarence River, the river is one that connects all people of the Clarence Valley. The dots represent people and the stripes represent the resilience embedded into us as people. The yellow dashes represent the bushfires which have caused havoc in the region, the green represents the replenishing and the new growth of nature. Image source: Monash University article Indigenous knowledge at the heart of planetary health published on the Monash Sustainable Development Institute webpage on 1 July 2022.

Indigenous perspectives of planetary health

The 2022 United Nations Climate Change Conference, more commonly referred to as Conference of the Parties of the UNFCCC, or COP27, is being held from 6–18 November 2022 as the 27th United Nations (UN) Climate Change conference. This year marks the 30th anniversary of the adoption of the UNs Framework Convention on Climate Change. In the thirty years since, the world has come a long way in the fight against climate change and its negative impacts on our planet; we are now able to better understand the science behind climate change, better assess its impacts, and better develop tools to address its causes and consequences.

Indigenous Peoples have resiliently weathered continued assaults on their sovereignty and rights throughout colonialism and its continuing effects. Indigenous Peoples’ sovereignty has been strained by the increasing effects of global environmental change within their territories, including climate change and pollution, and by threats and impositions against their land and water rights.

This continuing strain against sovereignty has prompted a call to action to conceptualise the determinants of planetary health from a perspective that embodies Indigenous-specific methods of knowledge gathering from around the globe. A group of Indigenous scholars, practitioners, land and water defenders, respected Elders, and knowledge-holders came together to define the determinants of planetary health from an Indigenous perspective. Three overarching levels of interconnected determinants, in addition to ten individual-level determinants, were identified as being integral to the health and sustainability of the planet, Mother Earth.

To view The Lancet article The determinants of planetary health: an Indigenous consensus perspective in full click here.

Photo: Nicolas Rakotopare. Image source: Threatened Species Recovery Hub website.

SWAMSmob digital health platform wins award

SWAMSmob app, a digital health platform designed specifically for the South West Aboriginal Medical Service (SWAMS) and their patients is the annual Curtinnovation Awards Faculty of Health Sciences winner. The app enables SWAMS patients to access telehealth and health promotion information 24-hours a day. It provides another way for SWAMS to engage and connect with the Aboriginal residents and promote wellbeing, by enabling GPs and Aboriginal healthcare workers to provide individual or group health consultations.

The app is novel in that it has been programmed for Aboriginal identity and cultural practices as well as health features. For example, the app accommodates ‘men only’ and ‘women only’ spaces. Importantly, the app will also help to increase digital literacy and technology education among Aboriginal users. Overall, the technology helps SWAMS to transform be more prepared for health challenges and to help Close the Gap.

To view the Curtin University article Alzheimer’s discovery crowned overall Curtinnovation winner in full click here.

Ieramaguadu woman uses FASD diagnosis to help mob

For 43-year-old Ieramagadu (Roebourne) woman Rachel Sampson, her diagnosis of foetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) opened the door to work and putting smiles on the faces of mob in the Pilbara. After accessing the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) via Mawarnkarra Health Service, Ms Sampson took on the role of an NDIS community connector.

FASD can cause a range of complications to those exposed to alcohol in the womb. For Ms Sampson, difficulties concentrating and being easily distracted have been a factor in life. Now difficulties once endured to find work have shifted to a new confidence in her knack for brightening others’ days, travelling around Ieramagadu, Wickham and Karratha to assist people living with disabilities with their everyday needs and tasks. “I feel very proud of it,” Ms Sampson said. “I really feel that I’ve found my purpose to help others. It was nerve-wracking when I first started, but with love and support, with these guys I found my confidence.

To view the National Indigenous Times article The Roebourne foetal alcohol disorder sufferer turning disability into opportunity for local mob in full click here.

Ieramagadu (Roebourne) woman Rachel Sampson. Image supplied by: Regen Strategic. Image source: National Indigenous Times.

Non-Indigenous world views still inform health research

While Indigenous health research is often following guidelines aimed at ensuring Indigenous participation and governance, much of the research is still largely based on non-Indigenous world views, according to Australian researchers. Researchers conducted a survey of about 250 people involved in Indigenous research,to find out how frequently the National Health and Medical Research Council’s (NHMRC) ethics guidelines for Indigenous health and medical research were being followed. They say while the non-compulsory guidelines were seeing widespread use, Indigenous health research is still largely informed by non-Indigenous world views, led by non-Indigenous people, and undertaken in non-Indigenous organisations.

According to the researchers the fundamental question raised by the survey was “how can Indigenous health research benefit Indigenous people without meaningful oversight and participation by Indigenous people?” The survey findings suggest that barriers to translating the NHMRC guidelines into research practice remain,” they wrote. “These include inadequate levels of education about applying the guidelines, the history of Indigenous health research in Australia, and Indigenous governance and data sovereignty. Most importantly, we found that Indigenous governance and participation was inadequate at each stage of research. Re-orientation and investment are needed to give control of the framing, design, and conduct of Indigenous health research to Indigenous people.”

To view the Medical Journal of Australia media release Indigenous Health Research: governance by Indigenous organisations vital in full click here.

Aboriginal doctor and researcher Professor Alex Brown is leading a five-year $5m project to advance the benefits from Genomic Medicine for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Image source: John Curtin School of Medical Research, ANU.

Kimberley urgently needs youth suicide action

A suicide in Fitzroy Crossing has sparked renewed calls for urgent action to address mental health needs among young people in the Kimberley. The recent death came two weeks after an attempted suicide by another young person. Local businessman Patrick Green said the blackout occurred after a young boy who had repeatedly sought medical attention attempted to take his own life.

WA Mental Health Commission’s operations acting deputy commissioner Ann Marie Cunniffe said Fitzroy Crossing Hospital provided 24/7 access to mental health support through drug and alcohol teams, psychiatrists and telehealth services. “Nurses and doctors at Fitzroy Crossing Hospital also work with Aboriginal liaison officers to provide cultural support and ensure care is culturally appropriate,” she said. Ms Cunniffe said the Kimberley Aboriginal Youth Wellbeing Steering Committee has been established to support Aboriginal community-led solutions to improve Aboriginal youth wellbeing.

The Committee facilitates implementation of the 86 recommendations identified in the State Coroner’s 2019 Inquest, among other measures. Ms Cunniffe said Aboriginal-led solutions and cultural understanding and respect were guiding principles of the approach. “The Commission funds regional Community Liaison Officers across the State, including the Kimberley,” she said. “These positions are employed by ACCHOs as they have the strongest understanding of their region, knowledge of appropriate cultural considerations and local issues.”

To view the National Indigenous Times article Youth suicide sparks renewed call for urgent action in the Kimberley in full click here.

Patrick Green, Photo: Giovanni Torre. Image source: National Indigenous Times.

Chlamydia prevention and management

14 years on from a call for innovative chlamydia screening programs to reduce the high rates of notifications in Australia at the time, chlamydia remains as the country’s most notified bacterial sexually transmissible infection (STI). Most new chlamydia infections are occurring among young people aged 15–29 years. An important exception is that notification rates appear to be falling in women under 25 years old, for whom chlamydia testing rates have plateaued and positivity among those tested is declining.

In addition to people with female reproductive organs and young people aged 15–29 years, chlamydia is also disproportionately high among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, people living in remote and very remote areas, those with greater socio‐economic disadvantage, and among gay and bisexual men. People who are pregnant are also a priority population, where chlamydia infection is associated with miscarriage, stillbirth, preterm birth, low birth weight, and postpartum infections in the mother and/or newborn. Once treated, an individual may become reinfected, contributing to further potential transmission and increasing the risk of morbidity in the form of pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), ectopic pregnancies, infertility, and chronic pelvic pain. Chlamydia remains a significant public health issue in Australia, with the search for novel prevention and management strategies ongoing.

To reduce the burden of disease from chlamydia in Australia, comprehensive follow‐up of cases and contacts to reduce the risk of complications is required. When chlamydia is detected, retesting at 3 months for reinfection and performing thorough partner tracing and management can help interrupt transmission and reduce the risk of reinfection and reproductive complications. Further studies investigating the timing of testing and treatment of chlamydia infections on the progression to reproductive complications will help guide public health strategies to further reduce the burden of chlamydia in Australia.

To view the Medical Journal of Australia article Chlamydia prevention and management in Australia: reducing the burden of disease in full click here.

Chlamydia bacteria. Image source: Medicine Plus website.

Sector Jobs

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Suicide prevention video launched

The image in the feature tile is from The Guardian article Numbers tell devastating story in latest Aboriginal youth suicide inquest, published on 7 February 2019. Photo Grant Faint, Getty Images.

Suicide prevention video launched

A suicide prevention video has been launched at the Indigenous Being Wellbeing Conference. Over 500 delegates last week attended the Australian and NZ Mental Health Association (ANZMH) Indigenous Wellbeing Conference (IWC22) on Kaurna country (Adelaide).

A positive and much anticipated change is occurring in the political landscape of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander social and emotional wellbeing health space with Aboriginal controlled organisation Healing Works Australia (HWA)and Gayaa Dhuwi (Proud Spirit) being the major platinum sponsors of the conference. HWA was established in 2019 as an Indigenous led social enterprise delivering social and emotional wellbeing and suicide prevention training.

Kaela Bayliss a young Kamilaroi woman attending her first conference and supported by Dr Joe Tighe both from HWA gave the keynote address “Nothing About Us Without Us – Delivery of Culturally-Safe Social and Emotional Wellbeing and Evidence-Based Suicide Prevention Training“ and launched their new promotional video.

HWA aim to empower communities through sustainable outcomes. This is achieved by working with communities to determine their own unique needs so that they can more effectively respond competently to suicide. Suicide prevention starts with creating strong, competent communities working together to achieve resilience.

For more information about Healing Works Australia visit their website here.

APY Lands mental health model causes dismay

Vulnerable children living in some of Australia’s most remote communities are set to be left without a permanent, in-community mental health service, despite objections from elders, experts and one of the SA  government’s own departments. The ABC has seen a draft of the new model of care for the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) on the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) Lands, which provides psychiatric and wellbeing support to children aged 18 and under.

It proposes that staff from Adelaide fly in to two communities on a fortnightly basis, with another psychiatrist to make a minimum of two trips per year. Telehealth appointments are outlined as a way to provide ongoing support. Previously, two Western-trained staff lived and worked on the APY Lands for more than a decade but were removed without explanation more than a year ago. With no staff on the APY Lands, SA Health implemented what, it said, was a temporary telehealth and fly-in-fly-out (FIFO) service last year.

At the same time, SA’s chief psychiatrist, Dr John Brayley, reviewed the program. He found a FIFO model would see children “slipping through the cracks” and recommended several changes, including doubling the workforce and he insisted on-country staff remain part of the program. The new model of care document does not mention Dr Brayley’s report and does not follow several of his recommendations, including returning community-based staff to the APY Lands.

To view the ABC News article First Nations elders dismayed about FIFO mental health model planned for South Australia’s APY Lands in full click here.

Pukatja elder Jamie Nyaningu says he and his community have been left in the dark over changes to a key mental health service for children. Photo: Patrick Martin, ABC News.

Impact of obesity on life expectancy

A Queensland child born over the next 10 years could lose five years in life expectancy if the state’s current rate of obesity is not reduced, new modelling has found. A report, commissioned by state government agency Health and Wellbeing Queensland, shows the life expectancy of a child born in the decade from 2023 could decrease by between six months and 4.1 years in the general population.

For First Nations children born in Queensland, the shortened life expectancy could decrease by up to 5.1 years. Lead researcher Rhema Vaithianathan said the projections were based on a scenario where nothing was done to prevent the current rising obesity rates among children. “It is quite concerning, we might be facing the first generation of Queenslanders whose life expectancy is shorter than their parents,” she said. “That kind of life expectancy reverses almost two decades of progress of life expectancy.” She said the trajectory changed according to a range of factors including socio-economic status and geographical location.

To view the ABC News Health article Impact of obesity on life expectancy in Queensland children shown in new modelling click here.

Photo: shutterstock.com. Image source: The Conversation.

Funding to rebuild Mutitjulu Health Clinic

A new health clinic will be built in the remote community of Mutitjulu, on the lands of the Anangu people, as part of the Albanese Labor Government’s package of measures to improve First Nations health infrastructure.  The $8 million project will replace the Mutitjulu Health Service Clinic, which was built in the early 1990s. An entirely new facility will be built with modern healthcare and safety standards.

Proposed features include additional treatment rooms, an outdoor waiting area and a larger room to store critical medicines and pharmaceutical products, as well a garage for vehicles. The new clinic will be constructed on the site of the existing clinic and includes the cost of establishing a temporary facility during the construction phase.

The replacement of the Mutitjulu clinic is part of a wider investment of $164.3 million for vital health infrastructure projects that will provide modern, high-quality health clinics in areas of large and growing First Nations populations.

To view Senator McCarthy’s media release Funding to rebuild the Mutitjulu Health Clinic in full click here.

Mutitjulu Health Service. Image source: Central Australian Aboriginal Congress website.

Recommendations to address food security concerns

Local governments would be supported through law reform and specific funding to be more active in addressing growing concerns about food insecurity under recommendations from a NSW inquiry. The inquiry by the NSW Legislative Assembly Committee on Environment and Planning also makes many recommendations to improve food security for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, including calling for Aboriginal representation on Government’s emergency responses to food security crises.

The inquiry’s report, released this week, calls for the NSW Government to consult with Aboriginal peoples and Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations (ACCOs) to fund and support communities in food production and community traditional foods gardens. The Aboriginal Health & Medical Research Council of NSW (AHMRC) told the inquiry that community gardens have many benefits, and credited their success to community ownership and leadership, which promotes self-determination and food sovereignty.

The AHMRC highlighted that local food programs established by ACCOs are limited by short funding cycles and this is a consistent barrier for these programs. -The inquiry recommended the NSW Government consult with ACCOs and Indigenous Corporations to develop a strategy that sets out priorities and a framework to grow the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander-owned traditional foods industry.

To view the Croakey Health Media article Inquiry makes wide-ranging recommendations to address food security and related concerns in full click here.

Gina Lyons, Irrunytju WA. Photo: Suzanne Bryce, NPY Women’s Council. Image source: The Australian Prevention Partnership Centre website.

Sector Jobs

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

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

NICU Awareness Month

November NICU Awareness Month is a time to highlight the importance of Neonatal Intensive Care Units and their amazing staff around Australia. Offering specialised care and making a difference to the more than 48,000 babies born premature or sick each year. 132 babies are born each day requiring specialised care.

Preterm birth remains the leading cause of death in children up to 5 years of age. The National average rate of preterm birth in Australia has remained relatively constant over the last 10 years (between 8.1 and 8.7%). Many of these babies lose their fight for life. For many Aboriginal babies, the news gets worse. In the NT, the preterm birth rate for our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander babies is almost double that of the non-Aboriginal population at over 14%.

The biggest discrepancy is in the extremely preterm gestational age. Aboriginal women in the NT are 4 times more likely to lose a baby between 20 and 23 weeks gestational age. That is before the baby even gets a chance to survive. This equates to too many mothers walking out of hospital without their babies in their arms.

For more information about November NICU Awareness Month visit the Miracle Babies Foundation website here and for further information about preterm birth in Aboriginal populations visit the Australian Preterm Birth Prevention Alliance website here.

Logo from Miracle Babies Foundation website and image from Australian Preterm Birth Prevention Alliance’s preterm birth in Aboriginal populations webpage.

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: ACCHO dreams come true with $15m for upgrade

The image in the feature tile is a render of Yadu Health’s new clinic as it appeared in the InDaily article ‘Dreams come true’: Dilapidated Aboriginal health clinic gets $15m upgrade on Tuesday 1 November 2022. Image: Das Studio + MDLR.

ACCHO dreams come true with $15m for upgrade

The Albanese Government handed Yadu Health Aboriginal Corporation $13.35m in its first budget handed down last week to cover the cost of replacing the dilapidated SA Health-owned building from which the service currently operates. That funding, which follows a Labor election commitment, adds to the $2.5m already committed by the Malinauskas Government in its June budget, bringing the total funding pool to $15.85 m.

About one third of Yadu Health’s 50-year-old building is deemed unsafe due to water damage, black mould and asbestos, with the service’s leaders claiming one staff member received an electric shock after water seeped into electrical wiring. Yadu Health, which supports about 3,000 people in Ceduna and surrounding communities such as Kooniba and Scotdesco in the state’s west, had repeatedly raised the clinic’s dilapidated condition with consecutive state and federal ministers.

Previous state governments claimed it was up to the federal government to fund the upgrade, while the Commonwealth rejected multiple grant applications, leaving the health service in limbo. SA Health last year granted Yadu Health a 99-year lease on the land, allowing it to construct a new building.

To read the InDaily article ‘Dreams come true’: Dilapidated Aboriginal health clinic gets $15m upgrade in full click here.

Yadu Health staff with SA Senator Marielle Smith, Aboriginal Affairs Minister Kyam Maher and Indigenous Australians Minister Linda Burney outside the Ceduna clinic. Image source: InDaily.

AIMhi-Y digital mental health tool launched

Menzies School of Health Research (Menzies) has launched a project which supports youth services in the NT and SA to use a newly developed early intervention digital mental health tool co-designed by young people, Aboriginal Elders and clinicians. The Aboriginal and Islander Mental Health Initiative for Youth (AIMhi-Y) program began in 2018. Its development has been supported by the NTPHN and the NT Government, including through work with government school students.

The next phase of the program is a 3-year project, supported by a grant from the Australian Government. The funding will enable youth services to include the newly developed AIMhi-Y smartphone app in treatment and support programs for young people.

To view the Menzies School of Health Research media release Menzies launches distribution of AIMhi-Y app in full click here.

AMSANT on Four Corners program ‘How many more?’

AMSANT has expressed deep concern about the crisis of murdered and missing Aboriginal women in Australia, documented in the recent ABC TV Four Corners program ‘How many more?’ AMSANT CEO Dr John Paterson, said: “I know that the level of concern and despair that we feel is shared by very many people across the nation. “Our hearts go out to the families and loved ones of those First Nations women who have suffered unimaginable deaths at the hands of perpetrators. We express to them our deepest condolences and respects.”

“The individual and collective trauma that accompanies the wholly unacceptable violence against Aboriginal women is made all the more painful by our knowledge of the institutional racism that helps to fuel this epidemic. The policing and justice systems must be accountable for their actions in failing to protect Aboriginal women by not taking their pleas for help seriously. Their systems must be reformed to recognise and respond to the danger signals and to provide culturally safe responses to Aboriginal women reporting domestic violence.”

“Importantly, we must elevate the voices of Aboriginal women in this space, including through strong mechanisms for Aboriginal governance. We already have great examples of inspiring leadership being shown, for example, from Aunty June Oscar through the Wiyi Yani U Thangani (Women’s Voices) project.”

To view the AMSANT media release AMSANT response to ABC TV Four Corners program on murdered and missing Aboriginal women in full click here.

June Oscar AO and cover of Wiyi Yani U Thangani – Securing Our Rights, Securing Our Future Report 2020. Image source: Indigenous X.

Videos to support first 2,000 days of life

Families in NSW are set to benefit from a series of new videos designed to support children and parents through the crucial first 2,000 days of life. The ‘Building Brains’ video series, developed as part of the NSW Government’s Brighter Beginnings initiative, is now available to all parents via the NSW Health website.

NSW Health Deputy Secretary Health System Strategy and Planning, Deb Willcox, said the ‘Building Brains’ resources will help parents better understand their child’s important developmental targets like how to play, learn, speak, act and move. “We are encouraging parents and carers to take their children for the health and developmental checks that are so crucial in the first 2,000 days of life. These videos are designed to help parents and carers understand why these checks are so important,” said Ms Willcox.

“We know early intervention is key to supporting children who may not be meeting their developmental milestones. These resources also help parents recognise the signs faster, allowing us to provide children and families with appropriate supports sooner.” The Brighter Beginnings initiative is a partnership between the Department of Education, NSW Health, the Department of Communities and Justice, the Department of Customer Service, the Department of Regional NSW, Multicultural NSW, Aboriginal Affairs, and the Department of Premier and Cabinet to drive transformational change in early childhood development.

To read the NSW Health media release Building brighter beginnings for NSW children in full click here.

Aiding the mental health of those most in need

It’s the mid-1990s, and Dr Anton Isaacs completed his medical degree in Bangalore, India before going out to a rural hospital, assisting the resident surgeon. “Towards the end of my two years there,” he says, “I woke up one morning with an insurmountable perception that surgery was not meant for me.” Many years on, Dr Isaacs is with Monash University’s School of Rural Health, based in Warragul. One of his current areas of research is the implementation of “social prescription”, where GPs and primary health workers assess and help the individual as a whole.

Dr Isaacs has just finished a mammoth two-decade body of work where he explored community-based systems to help the mental health of those least likely to be able to find it. He’s authored five papers addressing the Indian experience in a village called Mugalur, near Bangalore, and also the Indigenous Australian experience in the Latrobe Valley, near Melbourne, in communities of the Gunaikurnai people. The summary paper states that while the Indian service is still running, with more than 2000 registered “patients”, the Latrobe Valley model called the Koori Men’s Health Day, ran four times before running out of funding.

His two international case studies, the newest paper says, show “vastly different, albeit marginalised communities with an unmet need for mental health services”, with four “crucial elements” needed in delivering mental health care: mental health literacy, removing the stigma, cultural safety, and financial sustainability. The data that Aboriginal men are over-represented in more severe forms of mental illness, and also over-represented in patient care, and that they find it hard to seek help and tend to leave it until crisis point. Men tell him of “lack of trust in the health service, fear of hospitals, long waiting times, gender mismatches with caregivers, cultural differences and racism … the stigma of being labelled with a mental illness is particularly severe among those who experience economic disadvantage and face multiple stigmas [already].”

To view The National Tribune article From Bangalore to Warragul, aiding mental health of those most in need in full click here.

Koorie Men’s Health Day poster. Image source: The National Tribune.

Sector Jobs

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

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

World AIDS Day 2022

World AIDS Day is held on 1 December each year. It raises awareness across the world and in the community about HIV and AIDS. It is a day for the community to show their support for people living with HIV and to commemorate people who have died of AIDS related conditions or other conditions associated with HIV.

The national World AIDS Day theme for Australia in 2022 is Boldly Positive World AIDS Day aims to encourage Australians to educate themselves and others about HIV; to take action to reduce the transmission of HIV by promoting prevention strategies; and to ensure that people living with HIV can participate fully in the life of the community, free from stigma and discrimination.

As a community and as individuals, there is a lot we can do in relation to HIV. Working in partnership with people with HIV, we can encourage others to understand how HIV is transmitted. We can support people to access testing, treatment and care, as we know that commencing treatment at the early stages of HIV results in better health outcomes and reduces the likelihood of onward transmission.

UNAIDS theme for World AIDS Day 2022 is “Equalize” is a call to action. It is a prompt for all of us to work for the proven practical actions needed to address inequalities and help end AIDS. Data from UNAIDS on the global HIV response reveals that during the last two years of COVID-19 and other global crises, progress against the HIV pandemic has faltered, resources have shrunk, and millions of lives are at risk as a result.  Four decades into the HIV response, inequalities still persist for the most basic services like testing, treatment, and condoms, and even more so for new technologies.

For more information about World AIDS Day 2022 click here.

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Essential ingredients for Wellbeing Budget

The image in the feature tile is from ABC Radio National webpage Talkback: Australia’s first ‘wellbeing’ budget, Wednesday 26 October 2022. Image: marrio31, Getty Images.

Essential ingredients for Wellbeing Budget

As the world faces escalating climate disruption, environmental degradation and geopolitical instability as well as growing inequality and human rights abuses, the development of wellbeing indicators for the Federal Budget presents both opportunities and challenges.  Indigenous health, public health and environmental health experts and community groups will have an opportunity to contribute to the development of a landmark new set of wellbeing indicators that are being prepared for the 2023 Budget.

While Australian governments publish many indicators that support decision-making, including Closing the Gap and the State of the Environment Report, “no national framework or central set of indicators” to track overall progress on wellbeing currently exists. One of the central challenge of progress reporting is bringing attention to the broader factors that underpin community wellbeing and longer-term economic prosperity, in a focused way. Other countries that have frameworks to measure non-economic progress and quality of life include Scotland, Wales, Canada, Germany and Aotearoa/NZ.

The involvement of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and organisations, people with disabilities, and people with lived experience of mental illness will be important if future wellbeing budgets are to genuinely address inequities within our society. Speaking at the Indigenous Wellness Conference last week, Bardi woman Professor Pag Dugeon from the School of Indigenous Studies, University of WA, said “The things we bring to the table are for us in the first instance but they will also benefit non-Indigenous people. We can share the social and emotional wellbeing approach to wellness.”

To view the Croakey Health Media article To make a proper Wellbeing Budget, what are the essential ingredients? in full click here.

SWAMS funded for major facility upgrade

The South West Aboriginal Medical Service (SWAMS) has received a big boost in the federal budget, with funding allocated for a major facility upgrade. $18.3 million was set aside on Tuesday night’s budget announcement, honouring an election promise from the Labor government made in March. At the time, Federal Labor Senator Sue Lines said SWAMS first approached her office five years ago in the hopes of receiving support. “They’ve been spending $600,000 a year on rent, which is money that should be going into providing services, so this will allow them to do what they need to,” Ms Lines said.

The funding will go a long way towards building a brand new heath hub for SWAMS in Carey Park on land donated to the project by the City of Bunbury. SWAMS CEO Lesley Nelson said the hub would be a huge step forward for Noongar people.,”The Heath Hub will have an enormous positive impact on the heath and wellbeing of Aboriginal people in the south west.”

To view the Busselton-Dunsborough Mail article South West Aboriginal Medical Service gets federal funds for new heath hub in full click here.

SWAMS Chairman Ernie Hill, WA Labor candidate for Forrest Bronwen English, Senator Sue Lines, and SWAMS CEO Leslie Nelson with 3-month-old Gregory Abbott. Image source: Busselton-Dunsborough Mail.

Focus on better programs, services, self-determination

Senator the Hon Malarndirri McCarthy has issued a media release stating the Albanese Labor Government is delivering on its election commitments for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians by improving programs and services and investing in self-determination, with this week’s Budget including funding:

  •  to implement the Uluru Statement from the Heart, with funding to:
    • the Australian Electoral Commission to prepare for the referendum
    • commence work on establishing a Makarrata Commission to oversee processes for agreement-making
  • for Indigenous health and education, including funding to:
    • train 500 First Nations health workers and practitioners
    • build modern, high-quality health clinics in areas of large and growing First Nations populations
    • build a Birthing on Country Centre of Excellence
    • allow NACCHO to combat RHD in high-risk communities
    • provide 30 four-chair dialysis units
    • improve the ability of Redfern AMS and Tharawal AC AMS to care for patients with chronic diseases
    • provide dialysis treatment buses for remote NSW
    • employ First Nations educators in 60 primary schools to teach First Nations languages and provide greater cultural understanding
    • increase access to early childhood education and care for Indigenous families
    • help First Nations controlled and Community Sector Organisation maintain quality services in light of rising costs
  • for housing and essential services on NT homelands
  • for First Nations Justice, with funding:
    • for 30 community-led justice reinvestment initiatives
    • for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services
    • to build capacity of the peak body National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services (NATSILS)
    • to support the National Family Violence Prevention Legal Services Forum
    • to deliver crime prevention and community safety programs in Central Australia
    • to extend the Indigenous Protected Areas program
  • for microgrid technology across First Nations communities to increase access to cheaper, cleaner, more reliable energy
  • to establish an Ambassador for First Nations Peoples
  • for a trial program to replace the Community Development Program with real jobs, real wages and proper conditions

To read Senator the Hon Malarndirri McCarthy’s media release Delivering a better future for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander  Australians in full click here.

Senator Malarndirri McCathy. Photo: Matt Roberts, ABC News.

Speeding access to innovative medicines

Yesterday Minister for Health and Aged Care, Mark Butler officially announced the appointment of the new independent Chair of the Health Technology Assessment (NTA) Review Committee, as well as extending the review by six months until December 2023. Chair of Medicines Australia, Dr Anna Lavell, said the new Chair Adjunct Professor Picone AO will lead major reforms that will speed up access to innovative medicines for all Australians. Dr Lavell said “Reform of Australia’s HTA system is well overdue, “We must reduce the time it takes for Australian patients to access innovative medicines, treatments and health technologies. Our health system must be modernised with a clear focus on patient needs and listening to patient perspectives.”

NACCHO Deputy CEO, Dr Dawn Casey PSM is one of the seven members on the HTA Review Reference Committee. The Committee will undertake the first major review and reform of the HTA system in 30 years. “It is a pivotal opporunity to improve this crucial process in accessing innovative medicines” Dr Vavell said.

To view the Healthy Industry Hub article Health Minister formally announces HTA Review independent chair after earlier reveal in full click here.

Image source: Accestra Access Extra.

COVID-19 vax hesitancy study

A study aimed at addressing lower vaccination rates among First Nations expectant mothers and babies will work with Aboriginal medical services around WA following a funding boost. Curtin School of Allied Health senior research fellow, Noongar woman and project lead Anne-Marie Eade said although the current data for mums and bubs is limited a need for greater access to vaccination is needed to ensure their safety due to greater vulnerability. “What we do know is that Aboriginal people are less likely to have been vaccinated against COVID-19 compared to the general population, with the differences most bleak in WA,” Ms Eade said.

The research comes after an $800,000 boost from the Australian government’s Medical Research Future Fund tackling health disparities between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and non-Indigenous Australians. “Our study will evaluate the successes, barriers and opportunities of Australia’s COVID-19 vaccination program to reach Aboriginal women and their unborn children – and potentially target children under five in the event of an early childhood COVID-19 vaccine
rollout,” Ms Eade said.

Ms Eade attributes a mistrust of health systems, misinformation, and a lack of vaccine literacy as factors creating barriers for Indigenous mothers, expectant mothers and women of child-bearing age. The result comes with an increased risk of requiring intensive care, preterm birth and prenatal death. “A pressing concern for pregnant women is about the potential impact of vaccination on their babies. Many prefer to be vaccinated after birth,” Ms Eade said.

To view the National Indigenous Times article Study aimed at increasing COVID-vaccination for vulnerable young mums and bubs backed by government funding in full click here.

Photo: Unsplash. Image source: National Indigenous Times.

Calls for Netflix ads to prioritise health

More than 50 leading Australian and international health and community organisations have signed an open letter to Netflix, urging the streaming giant to exclude alcohol advertising from its new ad-supported subscription tier. As the world’s biggest streaming platform, Netflix has the chance to set the standard for establishing an ad model that prioritises people’s health and wellbeing, said Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education (FARE) CEO Caterina Giorgi.

“Netflix has made a really important decision to exclude gambling advertising and they should do the same with alcohol advertising,” Ms Giorgi, a signatory to the joint letter, said. “Alcoholic products cause harm to so many families and communities across the world, causing more than 200 diseases and injuries and more than 3 million deaths each year.” “We know that alcohol advertising contributes to risky drinking particularly among young people, this is why the World Health Organization recommends restricting marketing as a priority area. Netflix can help to prevent harm by excluding alcohol advertising from their platform.”

The joint letter calls attention to research which shows that when young people are exposed to alcohol marketing, they are more likely to start drinking alcohol at a younger age and to drink alcohol at riskier levels. Other signatories to the letter are: NOFASD Australia; Sydney University’s Centre for Research Excellence in Indigenous Health and Alcohol, Addiction Medicine; World Health Organization Less Alcohol Unit; and the World Cancer Research Fund.

To read The National Tribune article Community organisations call on Netflix to set standard with ad model that prioritises health and wellbeing in full click here.

Image source: Candorium.

‘Embassy’ upholds legacy of First Nations protest

Embassy, an installation from the artist Richard Bell, Embassy, has a powerful presence in the forecourt of the Art Gallery of SA (AGSA) last week. A painted sign on the front of the canvas tent read ‘Aboriginal Embassy’ – a nod to the legacy of the Aboriginal Tent Embassy, a protest camp set up on the lawns of Parliament House on unceded Ngunnawal Country (Canberra) 50 years ago.

Also part of the Adelaide Film Festival, the Embassy tent brought together artists and community organisers for public talks, and featured film screenings between the conversations. The Aboriginal Tent Embassy is recognised as “one of the most significant, if not the most significant moment in Aboriginal protest history. It put into action a lot of the philosophies around self-determination and created so much from it, including the Aboriginal community-controlled health sector.

To read the CityMag article ‘Embassy’ upholds legacy of First Nations sovereignty and protest in full click here.

L—R: Nici Cumpston, Richard Bell and Dominic Guerrera. Image source: CityMag.

Sector Jobs

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

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