NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Protect our people who give us knowledge to Heal Country, heal our nation!

feature tile 2.7.21 text 'protect our people who give us the knowledge to Heal Country, heal our nation.' image of NACCHO Chair Donnella Mills in light pink top & gold chair with hand against shoulder where she has had the covid-19 vaccine

Protect our people who give us knowledge to Heal Country, heal our nation!

NACCHO Chair Donnella Mills says NAIDOC Week 2021 calls upon all of us to continue to seek greater protection for our lands, our Elders, our people, and safeguard our culture.

“The health of Country, and the health of First Nation’s people, is firmly bound together. Country is family, kin, law, lore, ceremony, traditions, and language. After 250 years of dispossession and dislocation, traditional connection to Country and knowledge of Country is precarious. So much rests in the hands and minds of our Elders, our living national treasures. Right now, we have to protect the people who give us the knowledge to heal Country.”

“We have shown the world what can be done to keep First Nations peoples safe during a global pandemic. In the USA, the Navajo had the highest death rate of any ethnic population. In Australia, not one Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander person has died from COVID-19. That is because the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health sector and Governments are working together to protect our most vulnerable families and communities. Our sector should be proud. Indeed, the pandemic is not yet defeated, but at least recent gains have positioned us well and we can afford a little time to reflect on what we have achieved.”

“We have a new challenge and that is to urgently vaccinate our people!”

To view the media statement from NACCHO Chair Donnella Mills click here.

You can also watch Donnella talk about the COVID-19 vaccination in the short video below.

Remote NT community almost fully vaccinated

Tarna Andrews was scared of getting the needle. So scared that last month she visited her local clinic, sat down in the waiting room, and left before she could be seen. “I walked out because I had been speaking to some of my family, they were scared,” she said.  “Now I’ve had the needle, I’m safe and happy now.”

Ms Andrews, a Pitjantjatjara teacher in Utju, 200 kms from Alice Springs, is one of many in her community who have had their first dose of the jab despite months of vaccine scepticism. Central Australian Aboriginal Congress (CAAC), who runs the clinic there, said that almost everyone who was eligible in the remote community had been vaccinated, bucking a trend of vaccine scepticism among remote residents in the NT.

Fellow resident and a community worker for Congress, Frank Dixon, said word of mouth had helped reverse the tides of concern he was fielding in his community. “People started talking, gathering families and friends together to talk about it — people felt safe,” he said.

The vaccination rate in Utju is the envy of Congress’s four other remote clinics, especially as Alice Springs heads into lockdown. CAAC CEO Ms Ah Chee said the organisation hoped more people, especially in remote communities where there is a high burden of disease, would want to get the jab as a result of the recent cluster, “This is a timely reminder, we’ve been lucky for the last 18 months and it’s here. It’s not going away,”

To view the full article click here.

Aboriginal woman Tarna Andrews from Utju, sitting outside, red dust, couple of camp dogs, yellow black beanie, black t-shirt, pink t-shirt, red grey hoodie, orange glasses on top of head

Tarna Andres is encouraging family members in other remote communities to get vaccinated. Photo: Samantha Jonscher, ABC Alice Springs. Image source: ABC News website.

COVID-19 and remote communities

NACCHO CEO Pat Turner was on the panel of the ABC television program The Drum last night. Pat Turner spoke on a range of issues saying “Aboriginal communities will continue to suffer and be among the most vulnerable with every new pandemic unless we fix up the living environments and the housing of Aboriginal people. We will not close the gap without addressing these issues.” You can watch this edition of The Drum here.

screenshot of frame from ABC The Drum Pat Turner CEO NACCHO talking

Pat Turner, CEO NACCHO, The Drum 1 July 2021.

Rough sleepers ‘completely neglected’

Aboriginal organisations have expressed frustration at the NT government’s “flawed” pandemic response, demanding it do more to accommodate hundreds of Aboriginal people sleeping rough around town centres they say are at risk of COVID-19. Both Darwin and Alice Springs were in lockdown amid concerns about the significant risk posed to Aboriginal communities.

The CEO of the Danila Dilba Aboriginal Health Service, Olga Havnen said the lack of support for homeless people created a “ridiculous situation”. “The pandemic response plan doesn’t include any provision for housing people who may be homeless or visitors to town,” Havnen said. “Here we are on day four of a lockdown, and they’re only just sorting out the arrangements that might be made available for Aboriginal people, particularly visitors and rough sleepers who might need a COVID-19 test, and who will need to self-isolate.” “Who else in the community gets so studiously ignored under these sorts of circumstances? It’s either gross incompetence, maladministration or straight out racism. Or probably, a combination of all three,” Havnen said.

Danila Dilba, Yilli Aboriginal housing, AMSANT (the Aboriginal medical services of the NT) and NAAJA (the Aboriginal legal service) jointly called on the NT government to “get people off the streets today”. “Rough sleepers are among the most vulnerable people in our community, many of them have not been vaccinated, and the NT government’s pandemic response plan has completely neglected them,” the CEO of AMSANT, John Paterson, said.

To view the full article in The Guardian click here.

4 Aboriginal men with masks walking along Smith Street, Darwin

People wearing masks in Smith Street, Darwin. Image source: The Guardian.

Calls for increased FIFO COVID-19 testing

Mining sites that operate near “vulnerable” remote Aboriginal communities and rely on FIFO workers need to regularly test staff for COVID-19, insist peak health groups.

NACCO CEO Pat Turner said people should be immediately isolated and given a rapid COVID-19 test when they arrived on site and workers should only be allowed to mingle after returning a negative result. “Every mining site that is in reasonable proximity to remote Aboriginal communities or in regional towns where there are lots of Aboriginal people should have mandatory COVID-19 testing for all workers returning to the site,” Ms Turner said. “This should be standard practice.” Ms Turner said workers should be re-tested in a week or two in case they were incubating the virus or became infected by a co-worker while on site.

Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance NT CEO John Paterson agreed. “Mining companies should have permanently employed physicians on-site that check [workers] in when they get in and check them out on the way out,” he said. “It’s critical that we do as much testing as possible especially when it comes to a lot of people doing a lot of travel. To view the full article click here.

Annual health check resources

The Australian Government Department of Health have a collection of resources, including videos, podcasts and print resources about the free annual health check for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. To access the resource collection click here.

cover of brochure text 'patient information your health is in your hands - have you had your 715 health check?' photo of Aboriginal woman holding toddler & health worker in outdoor setting, purple, aqua, black colours, Aboriginal & Torres Strait flags

DoH Your health is in your hands brochure.

Importance of cultural strengths in suicide prevention

Suicide deaths among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people continue to increase and are an unrelenting tragedy for families and communities. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander (Indigenous) people take their own lives at twice the rate of other Australians. Suicide is the second leading cause of death among Indigenous males (vs 10th non-Indigenous) and the seventh leading cause of death for Indigenous females (vs 23rd non-Indigenous).

Suicide rates peak disproportionately young for Indigenous people; the median age for the suicide death of an Indigenous person is 29, while suicide accounts for one-third of all deaths of Indigenous children aged 5 to 17 years, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), and is the largest cause of Indigenous child deaths. Overall, the same ABS figures show the Indigenous suicide rate increased from 21.3 to 24.6 per 100,000 people between the first and second halves of the decade from 2010-2019; by 2019 it had risen to 27.1 per 100,000.

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Evaluation Project (ATSISPEP) has established a connection between suicide and experiences of colonisation, structural racism and continuing social and economic disadvantage.

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

metal wall with large painting of Aboriginal man's face in black, yellow & red colours in pop art style

Image source: Australian Human Rights Commission website.

APY Lands key mental health service faces cuts

Some of Australia’s most vulnerable Aboriginal communities are worried they could be left without permanent on-country mental health staff for young people, despite nearly 1,000 reports of child abuse being made in the region in the past two years. Documents obtained by the ABC under Freedom of Information laws show that 947 allegations of child abuse were recorded by SA’s Department for Child Protection for the area covering the remote Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) Lands between 2018 and 2020.

A report tabled in the SA Parliament covering part of that same period said that “80% of children in the APY Lands have exposure to or continue to experience problem sexual behaviour”. Despite these numbers, elders and SA’s opposition are concerned that a review of the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) APY will reduce services to communities in need.

To view the full article click here.

aerial view of APY Lands community Amata, red dust, approx 60 houses, dirt playing field, mountains in the distance

At the last census in 2016, there were 742 children aged under 19 living on the APY Lands communities like Amata. Photo: Carl Saville, ABC News. Image source: ABC News website.

New process for job advertising

NACCHO have introduced a new system for the advertising of job adverts via NACCHO’s communication platforms.

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

NAIDOC Week 4–11 July 2021

The NAIDOC 2021 theme – Heal Country! – calls for all of us to continue to seek greater protections for our lands, our waters, our sacred sites and our cultural heritage from exploitation, desecration, and destruction. Country that is more than a place and inherent to our identity. Country that we speak about like a person, sustaining our lives in every aspect – spiritually, physically, emotionally, socially, and culturally.

NAIDOC 2021 invites the nation to embrace First Nations’ cultural knowledge and understanding of Country as part of Australia’s national heritage and equally respect the culture and values of Aboriginal peoples and Torres Strait Islanders as they do the cultures and values of all Australians. For generations we have been calling for stronger measures to recognise, protect, and maintain all aspects of our culture and heritage. We are still waiting for those robust protections.

This year’s theme also seeks substantive institutional, structural, and collaborative reform – something generations of our Elders and communities have been advocating, marching and fighting for. Healing Country means finally resolving many of the outstanding injustices which impact on the lives of our people. It is about hearing and actioning the aspirations of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples which are the culmination of generations of consultation and discussions among our nations on a range of issues and grievances.

After 250 years, our children and our future generations deserve better. We cannot afford to let pass the very real opportunity that now presents itself for reform based on a fundamental change in the relationship Australia has with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

NAIDOC Week 2021 will be held from Sunday 4 July to Sunday 11 July 2021. For more information click here.

banner text 'Heal Country! 4–11 JULY 2021' & NAIDOC logo black circle with red yellow green blue Aboriginal dot painting overlaid with white circle & 2 boomerang shapes, one for the arms & one for the legs, text around inner rim of circle 'Celebrating NAIDOC Week'

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Protecting remote NT communities from COVID-19

feature tile text "Stay Safe, Stay on Country, Care for Family" - 'Northern Land Council' - skyview of Santa Teresa NT

Protecting remote NT communities from COVID-19

Over the weekend the NT Government declared that Darwin, Palmerston and Litchfield local government areas would enter a full lockdown for 48 hours effective from 1pm on Sunday 27 June 2021. Travel into remote Aboriginal communities on Aboriginal land – or travel to communities that involves crossing Aboriginal land – will be restricted to NT Government essential services staff and functions only.

The Northern Land Council (NLC) Chairman Samuel Bush-Blanasi said the NLC considers this the right thing to do and urged Aboriginal Territorians to look after each other: “The message is the same as last year: ‘Stay Safe, Stay on Country and Care for Family’.” Mr Bush-Blanasi also urged people not to respond to or be guided by what NT Police Commissioner Chalker called ‘rumour and innuendo’ being spread on social media. “People shouldn’t listen to gossip being spread on Facebook and other social media sites – particularly about something as serious as this. The best information is available at the NT Government website or on reliable media outlets like the NT News or the ABC,” said Mr Bush-Blanasi.

Referring to the reported case of COVID-19 in a worker in a mining site in the Tanami Desert in Central Australia, Deputy Chief Medical Officer Professor Kidd has said “We are taking this very seriously – right from the start of the pandemic we’ve had plans in place to work with local Aboriginal communities to respond to outbreaks in remote areas in Australia. The Commonwealth is working with the NT government and the Aboriginal community controlled health services in the affected area to provide whatever support is needed.”

To view the NLC’s media release click here and to view the news article with Professor Kidd’s comments click here.

NACCHO CEO Pat Turner speaks to SBS News:

New PHC nKPIs? – have your say

The Australian Government Department of Health (DoH) is inviting you to participate in the consultation process for Potential new National Key Performance Indicators for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Primary health care (nKPIs).

In May 2018, the Department commissioned the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) to undertake a comprehensive review of the nKPI collection (the Review). The final report was endorsed by the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Services Data Advisory Group (HS DAG) in December 2019 and published in February 2020. 

In order to implement the recommendations from the Review, DoH commissioned KPMG to develop an Implementation Roadmap and set up a Clinical and Technical Working Group for the HS DAG. The Working Group met in April this year to discuss potential new indicators. After four meetings the Working Group recommended development of three new indicators: sexual health/STI, mental health, and ear health.

The purpose of this consultation is to seek stakeholder and community feedback on the three proposed new nKPIs. The diverse perspectives, experience and knowledge of all stakeholders and interested members of the community are valued and will contribute to the final recommendations regarding the new nKPIs.

Feedback from the public consultation will be provided to the HS DAG who will provide final endorsement (or not) of the indicators. It is planned that any new nKPIs that receive HS DAG approval will first be piloted with selected health services prior to full rollout to all health services and public data reporting.

You can access the Consultation Hub and provide feedback here.

The consultation will be open for five (5) weeks and will close on Thursday 29 July 2021.

5 Aboriginal women sitting cross-legged in colourful tropical skirts, elder at front is holding a sign with words 'Please support my hope for health', tropical green foliage in background

Image source: University of Wollongong Australia website.

PM hosts second roundtable with CoPs

On25 June 2021 the Prime Minister hosted the second roundtable of senior Ministers and the Coalition of Peaks (CoPs), a representative body made up of more than 50 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled peak organisations. The Prime Minister noted the joint success of the Australian Government’s and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled organisations led by NACCHO in supporting their communities through the COVID pandemic.

Continuing leadership in the roll-out of the vaccination strategy is critical and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leadership is appreciated and recognised by all government members. The Morrison Government and CoPs are working together, with the states and territories and Australian Local Government Association, to implement the new National Agreement on Closing the Gap, signed by all Australian governments in July 2020.

To view the media release click here.

multiple people at large oval desk in Parliament House for second roundtable of senior Ministers & the CoPs

PM Scott Morrison hosted the second roundtable of senior Ministers and the CoPs to advance the implementation of the National Agreement on Closing the Gap. Image source: CoPs Twitter.

Consider Indigenous business for medical supplies

Why ACCHO members should consider a 100% Indigenous owned business for medical supplies?

Indigenous Medical Supplies (IMS) is a Supply Nation registered, 100% Indigenous-owned supplier of medical device, hand & hygiene, PPE & covid-19 to ACCHOs or AMSs, other medical centres, day hospitals and workplaces. Their product range includes surgical masks, a wide range of hand & hygiene stock, alcohol wipes, surgical gowns, medical gloves, face shields, protective eyewear, AED defibrillators and temperature devices at very competitive prices. You can view the IMS range on the IMS website here.

Awabakal Ltd CEO Raylene Gordon recommends IMS to CEOs, Practice Managers and management of other ACCHOs “The service from this company is reliable, honest and great quality. This was particularly important to us during COVID-19 and now into the future. Please join Awabakal in supporting this business.”

For further information contact IMS Managing Director Merv Fernando by email here or mobile phone: 0411 290 755.

health worker from Wuchopperen Health Service Limited (QLD) holding a selection of Indigenous Medical Supplies Pty Ltd products e.g. PPE; Awabakal Ltd NSW CEO & Board

Wuchoperren Health Service (QLD) employee holding selection of Indigenous Medical Supplies Pty Ltd products and Awabakal Ltd (NSW) CEO and Board members.

Indigenous bowel cancer screening resources

The Australian Government Department of Health (DoH) have publications on different health topics including bowel cancer. The National Bowel Cancer Screening Program collection, contains of a range of resources specifically tailored for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, including:

yellow tile with text 'don't delay do a bowel test today' - header & footer Aboriginal dot art in blue, brown, purple, green, orange

Australian Government Department of Health Indigenous bowel screening postcard.

RVTS Targeted Recruitment 2022 placements

Be part of something special…AND complete your specialist GP training!

Picture yourself working as a doctor in an iconic rural or remote community, while also undertaking your specialist GP training?

Apply now via our Targeted Recruitment to train with Remote Vocational Training (RVTS) in 2022. Through its Targeted Recruitment Strategy, RVTS partners with rural and remote communities of high medical workforce need to offer RVTS training as part of a package to recruit doctors to these communities. RVTS is offering specialist GP training positions in the following Targeted Recruitment locations in 2022, including five Aboriginal Medical Services, (multiple positions are offered in some locations; * denotes Aboriginal Medical Service):

  • NT – Tennant Creek* and Santa Teresa*
  • QLD – Clermont
  • VIC – Portland*
  • WA – Halls Creek, Kununurra* and South Hedland*
  • NSW – Lake Cargelligo
  • TAS – Smithton
  • SA – Mid Eyre Peninsula (Cleve, Cowell, Kimba) and Streaky Bay

Find more details (and contact officers) for each of these positions by clicking here.

Targeted Recruitment is not the only entry pathway to RVTS training. Training is also available to doctors already working in eligible rural, remote and First Nation communities across Australia! Further information about our AMS Stream for doctors in Aboriginal Medical Services in MMM2-7 locations and the Remote Stream for doctors in MMM 4-7 locations can be found here.

Don’t miss outRound 1 of the 2022 intake (all streams) is open for applications until 4 July 2021.

Doctors interested in applying for Targeted Recruitment Stream positions after this date are encouraged to contact us, as deadlines may be extended for some Targeted Recruitment locations.

text 'RVTS Remote Vocational Training Scheme Ltd - GP Training for Doctors In Aboriginal Medical Services, Rural and Remote Communities'; RVTS logo line drawing of white sun against orange sky sinking into red ground/sea; image of young man & older man wearing polo with Aboriginal art & text 'cultural mentor'

New AOD service in Wyndham

WA Mental Health Minister Stephen Dawson has launched a new culturally secure alcohol and drug and mental health support service at the Ngnowar-Aerwah Aboriginal Corporation (NAAC) in Wyndham. NAAC, together with the Mental Health Commission, co-designed the service which will provide a 16-bed sobering up service as well as outpatient counselling, prevention and diversion services.

Local planning workshops and meetings ensured a culturally secure process and the local community had an opportunity to contribute to the development of the service model. The new principles of the service include whole-of-family approaches, holistic consideration of social factors and adverse life experiences; increasing Aboriginal staff participation; developing local employment pathways; and more community awareness and education.

The new program will be delivered through a partnership between NAAC and Anglicare WA. It will also contribute to developing the capacity of the Wyndham community to respond to mental health, alcohol and drug issues and lead responses from within the community.

To view Minister Dawson’s media statement in full click here and for an overview of NAAC watch the YouTube video below.

New process for job advertising

NACCHO have introduced a new system for the advertising of job adverts via NACCHO’s communication platforms.

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

JulEYE

JulEYE is national eye health awareness month. 75% of vision loss is preventable or treatable if detected early enough, yet every 65 minutes an Australian loses part or all their vision.

This JulEYE, the Australian and New Zealand Eye Foundation (ANZEF) (the fundraising arm of The Royal Australian and NZ College of Ophthalmologists (RANZCO)) will be campaigning to increase the public’s awareness of eye health issues. JulEYE has three core aims:

  • to raise community awareness of eye health issues.
  • to raise funding for research projects into the causes and cures of vision impairment and blindness.
  • to support international development projects whose goals are aligned with those of The Foundation.

For more information about JulEYE click here.

tile text 'look out for your eyes this JulEYE' 'wyes & July are in white font, rest is in yellow font, medium blue background

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Culture and Country important to health

feature tile text 'culture and country critically important to health and wellbeing' & side on portrait photo of Jessica Lovett-Murray Gunditjmara & Yorta Yorta woman

Culture and Country important to health

Dr Janine Mohamed, a Narungga Kaurna woman and CEO of the Lowitja Institute, and her colleague Nicole Bowman, a Wiradjuri woman and senior policy advisor at the Institute have written an article for Croakey Health Media titled Heal Country – at timely call for action and justice. They congratulate the National NAIDOC Committee for the 2021 NAIDOC theme, Heal Country! saying this year’s theme is a timely reminder for all Australians about the importance of greater climate action and what Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ wisdom, knowledges and practices can offer our collective efforts for climate justice.

To heal Country, we also need to understand the importance of culture and Country to our health and wellbeing.

Dr Ray Lovett’s work on the cultural determinants of health, through Mayi Kuwayu: the National Study of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Wellbeing tells us why this is critical. It is showing clearly how being unable to express our culture has negatively affected our health and wellbeing. It also tells us – and it’s a message for all Australians – that if we take care of Country, Country takes care of us.

To view the article in full click here.

Aboriginal woman cross-legged drawing in riverbed sand for 3 young Aboriginal children

Image source: Broadsheet website. Feature tile image: Jessica Lovett-Murray Gunditjmara & Yorta Yorta woman. Image source: Mayi Kuwayu The National Study of Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Wellbeing.

ACCHO’s new health and wellbeing centre

Yerin Eleanor Duncan Aboriginal Health Services recently bought the now vacant Japara aged care facility in Mardi, with plans to transform it into a health and wellbeing centre. The new centre will house all services, except the dental clinic, currently available at the Yerin Eleanor Duncan Aboriginal Health Service in Wyong.

CEO, Belinda Field, said the purchase was self-determining and hoped the fit-out of the new centre would be complete in two years. Yerin’s Business Manager, Paul Hussein, said it would be an advantage to the community, allowing the organisation to expand their services. “We will be relocating our staff to the new facility, this includes our general practice, mental health clinic and our drug and alcohol clinic,” he said. “We’ll also have our family preservation program, our recently acquired homeless support program, as well as our NDIS community programs at the new centre.”

Hussein said that the largest obstacle so far was acquiring funding to complete the move, which he expects will cost between $2m and $3m. “We’re looking for support to help fund this move,” he said. “We’re currently going through the development application process and we’re working with the local state and federal Members of Parliament, and the State Government will put in a bit too. “We’re excited to get the new centre up and running as a lot of people know the Japara aged care home and have had family members live there.”

To view the article in full click here.banner text 'Yerin Eleanor Duncan Aboriginal Health Services' & Aboriginal dot painting yellow purple concentric circles surrounded by spokes-like border

Lethal gaps in remote health services

When Dr Seema Basil started work as a GP at Mawarnkarra Health Service in Roebourne (Ieramagadu, in the local Ngarluma language), a small community in WA’s north-west, just over seven years ago, there was an effective support system in place for former inmates of the local prison. Two staff members at Mawarnkarra, an ACCHO, were dedicated to supporting people who had been released from Roebourne Regional Prison, which is on the outskirts of the small town, more than 1,500 kilometres north of Perth.

The program was funded by the WA Country Health Service under the Footprints to Better Health Program. Dr Basil said “It was really useful because when you got a discharge summary, you could engage the team to go and reach out to this person. Fast forward to 2021 and program is no longer funded. Funding was discontinued in 2015 after the Holeman Report, an external review of WA’s State-funded Aboriginal Health Programs.” For the tiny rural community this lack of support seems particularly unjust, with more than 75% of people in Roebourne Regional Prison identifying as Aboriginal.

It was here, in 1983, that a 16-year-old Yindjibarndi boy, John Pat, died, sparking the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody (RCIADIC), which handed down its findings 30 years ago. One of the Commission’s critical recommendations was that Aboriginal Health Services be included in health planning decisions in prisons.

To read the article in full click here.

large sign at Melbourne RCIADIC 30 Years rally text '28.9.83 John Pat 16 assaulted by 5 drunk policy...'

Ongoing calls for justice on deaths in custody, including the 1983 death of John Pat in Ieramagadu (Roebourne). Photo from a Melbourne #RCIADIC30Years rally by Marie McInerney. Image source: Croakey Health Media.

Mental health treatments not working

A University of Queensland study is calling for changes to the way depression is treated in Indigenous communities in Australia. UQ Rural Clinical School researcher Dr. Bushra Nasir said the research has found that current treatments for Indigenous Australians are not working.

“Mainstream treatment models fail to incorporate the Indigenous understanding of mental health,” Dr. Nasir said. “Our results show that treating depression in Indigenous communities should extend beyond just clinical approaches. Retaining culture, spiritual beliefs, autonomy and a connection to Country will have a significant impact on improving Indigenous mental health and wellbeing.”

Dr. Nasir said there’s also emerging evidence of the link between health and Indigenous connections to traditional grounds. “Culture and identity were found to be central towards perceptions of health and wellbeing of Indigenous Australians, not just individually, but as a community,” she said. “Rates of mental disorders for those residing on Country have been identified as about half of those in mainstream communities.

To read the article in full click here.

vector image yellow background, Aboriginal male side view hand to face, back of head shattering

Image source: UQ News website.

Public health measure looks like profiling

Health and human rights leaders have expressed alarm at the NSW’s decision to send in police to ensure COVID-19 restriction compliance in south-western Sydney, when no such action was taken in the more well-heeled eastern suburbs where the outbreak began.

Policing in the pandemic has targeted culturally and linguistically diverse communities, many of whom already have lived experience of profiling, trauma and oppression at the hands of law enforcement. Now, as Sydney battles to stop the spread of COVID-19, we are seeing an asserted escalation of police presence in some of Sydney’s most culturally and linguistically diverse communities.

According to Dr Tessa Boyd-Caine, CEO, Health Justice Australia and a criminologist who works with health and legal assistance services across Australia we can’t ignore the resounding lesson from the pandemic – public health messages, backed up by culturally appropriate services, improve access to healthcare and, through that, improved health outcomes.

We need public debate to recognise the inequities that lead to disproportionate impacts of the pandemic. We need health, social and economic policies to address the underlying drivers of these inequities, from poor quality housing to insecure work. Until then, policing compliance of public health measures is likely to alienate and isolate communities at a time we need trust and connectedness the most.

GP Dr Tim Senior added “If the police are your language and communication channel for public health messaging, then you are speaking the wrong language and using the wrong channel for public health messaging.”

To view the article in full click here.

screenshot of side view of 3 masked police officers at hard lockdown of Melbourne public housing towers July 2020

Screenshot from coverage of police presence at the hard lockdown of Melbourne public housing towers in July 2020. Image source: Croakey Health Media.

Strong Mob Health Awareness Campaign

Hunter Primary Care has created an exciting new health awareness campaign, titled ‘Strong Mob’. The campaign is directed at Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth to encourage young mob to visit a clinic once a year for a  health check, also known in the medical profession as the ‘715 health check’.

The campaign features a series of videos and posters of four key Aboriginal influencers, Kobie Dee, BIRDZ, Naomi Wenitong and Dr Joel Wenitong (The Last Kinection), who are well-established in the Australian Aboriginal hip-hop music scene. These influencers share their personal stories in regard to the importance of their health and wellbeing, their connection to country, culture and community. The Strong Mob campaign has been launched across social media sites Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Snapchat and YouTube.

Supporting ‘Closing the Gap’ initiatives, Strong Mob has been created by young Aboriginal people for young Aboriginal people.  The campaign will aim to increase the numbers of Aboriginal children and youth groups presenting for annual 715 health checks, more specifically, children from 18% to 46% and youth from 17% to 42%, by 2023.

To view the media release full here.

tile text 'Get Your Health Check. Kobie Dee supports Strong Mob Strongmob.com.au' & side on photo of Kobie Dee facing recording microphone

ATSIEB gives a seat at ACT policy table

As the Commonwealth argues over a voice to Parliament for Indigenous Australians, the ACT’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community is quietly electing the next round of representatives to ATSIEB, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elected Body. ATSIEB was constituted in 2008 and represents all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the Territory, reflecting that in addition to traditional owners, there are many Indigenous people who have come here for education, work and other reasons.

“We are unique in having a voice to government in the ACT,” says Katrina Fanning, the Elected Body’s chair for the last term and a former ACT Australian of the Year. “No other mechanism in Australia has the legislative accountability that we have. A few statutory authorities have narrow, specific areas of influence, but the Elected Body’s role is across the whole of government in the ACT. “We listen to issues in our community, look at what’s happening or not happening and work through a formal agreement and governance arrangements to make the necessary changes.”

Fanning says that ATSIEB has been an important mechanism for giving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people a seat at the policy table in the ACT. In turn, the Elected Body is accountable to its community.

The big picture priorities are around health, wellbeing and education. Important structural changes have been implemented on ATSIEB’s advice, including ensuring that a portion of human services – like out of home care, youth services and drug and alcohol programs – can be delivered by Aboriginal-controlled organisations.

To view the article in full click here.

Katrina Fanning, ATSIEV Chair this term, standing against background of an oval

Katrina Fanning has chaired the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elected Body this term. Image source: RIOTACT! website.

Ceduna clinic a ‘ticking time bomb’

An Aboriginal health service in Ceduna says its government-owned building is a “ticking time bomb” riddled with asbestos and mould, but both the state and federal governments have failed to heed calls for funding to build a new clinic. Yadu Health Aboriginal Corporation says between 30 to 40% of the SA Health-owned building out of which it runs its services is deemed unsafe due to water damage, asbestos and mould.

The ACCHO, which services Ceduna as well as surrounding communities such as Koonibba and Scotdesco in the state’s west, says it has repeatedly raised the building’s dilapidated condition with several state and federal ministers. It says it has applied for multiple government grants to help it fund a new clinic – estimated to cost up to $15 million – but its applications were rejected because it does not own the land and SA Health has until recently only offered short-term leases.

To view the article in full click here.

exterior of Yadu Health AC Ceduna SA

Yadu Health Aboriginal Corporation, Ceduna, SA. Image source: INDAILY Adelaide Independent news.

RACGP award nominations open

It’s time to celebrate excellence in general practice – nominations for the 2021 RACGP Awards are now open. The RACGP Awards celebrate exceptional individuals in Australian general practice for their outstanding achievements and contribution to the health of their community.

RACGP Rural Health Awards

RACGP Rural provides the following awards:

  • Brian Williams Award: awarded to a rural GP
  • Rural GP in Training of the Year Award: awarded to a GP registrar who is currently enrolled in the Fellowship in Advanced Rural General Practice (FARGP) through a Training Organisation (RTO/RVTS)
  • Medical Student Bursary Award: awarded to a medical student who is a member of a rural health students’ club at an Australian university.

RACGP Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Awards

RACGP Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health provides the following awards:

  • Standing Strong Together Award – celebrating partnerships between GPs and communities
  • Growing Strong Award – to support the growth of a current GP in Training
  • Medical student award – to support a current Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander medical student

You can find out more about the awards here and nominate by visiting the RACGP website here.

Nominations will close on Monday 19 July 2021. Please contact us if you have any questions here.

tile text '2021 RACGP Awards Recognising excellence in general practice' RACGP logo & navy background with vector spotlight to right of image

New process for job advertising

NACCHO have introduced a new system for the advertising of job adverts via NACCHO’s communication platforms.

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

dice spelling JOBS resting on keyboard

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: ACCHOs’ leading role in COVID-19 communications

feature tile text 'ACCHOs' leading role in COVID-19 health communications' KAMS vector image of COVID-19 virus cell overlaid with text 'Coronavirus (COVID-19)' colours red, orange, blue, dark green

ACCHOs’ leading role in COVID-19 communications

Health communication during a health crisis, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, is vital to reduce the impact on populations. To ensure the communication is effective, audience segmentation is required with specific resources that have been developed for each segment. In addition, the messages need to be clear, mutual trust between the communicator and the audience needs to be developed and maintained, and resources should focus on cultural values. The evidence around effective crisis communication indicates that it needs to be timely, clear, concise and appropriate to the target audience. Communication is particularly important for those at higher risk during the crisis, such as people who are immunocompromised, the elderly, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are at increased risk from COVID-19 due to a range of factors associated with higher rates of non-communicable diseases and a lack of access to health services in remote communities. Additionally, there are socio-cultural factors that put Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people at risk, such as high mobility for family or cultural reasons. Despite the increased risk to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people from COVID-19, there has been little specific communication tailored for them from governments since the pandemic commenced. This is despite the overwhelming evidence that health promotion messages need to be tailored for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

To fill the gap, Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations (ACCHOs) have demonstrated their capacity to deliver scientifically valid, evidence-based and culturally translated COVID-19 prevention messages. The ACCHO sectors’ understanding of population health has led to a strong history of culturally centred health promotion and social marketing materials. Even before the World Health Assembly declared COVID-19 a global pandemic (11 March), ACCHOs and their peak bodies had developed messages for their communities. The ACCHO sectors’ communications on COVID-19 have been produced in addition to their usual service delivery and using existing funding.

To view the Australian and NZ Journal of Public Health article in full click here.

KAMS covid-19 poster

KAMS COVID-19 poster. Image source for poster and feature tile: KAMS website.

Tobacco control, all research, no action

A sobering article in The Lancet, details the refined methods used by the Global Burden of Disease 2019 Tobacco Collaborators to estimate the increasing toll of tobacco-attributable morbidity and mortality. Their analysis improves on previous calculations of prevalence of smoking in adults and tobacco-related disease.

The authors found that global age-standardised prevalence of smoking tobacco use decreased by 27·5% in males and 37·7% in females aged 15 years and older between 1990 and 2019. However, inexorable population growth has increased the number of smokers from 0·99 billion in 1990 to 1·14 billion in 2019, who consumed 7·41 trillion cigarette-equivalents of tobacco in 2019. The authors estimated that 5·96 million (77·5%) of 7·69 million smoking-attributable deaths in 2019 occurred in low-income and middle-income countries and that 66 (93%) of 71 countries that had significant increases in such deaths were low-income and middle-income countries.

How to tackle the global smoking pandemic has become a perpetual dilemma. Tobacco control—a term adopted by 1990s academia to keep radical grassroots antismoking activism at arm’s length—remains mired in descriptive research that generates data to support policies aimed at reducing smoking. However, unlike, for instance, mosquito control, the vector—the tobacco industry—survives and thrives. And, like a mutating virus, it adapts to legislative and regulatory attempts to hinder the sale, promotion, and use of its products.

To view The Lancet article in full click here.

ashtray with cigarette stubs

Image source: Sydney Criminal Lawyers website.

NACCHO Chair joins new advisory group

A new advisory group that will inform the development of the government’s national plan to end family, domestic and sexual violence. Co-chairs the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet’s Office for Women, and the Department of Social Services, have been joined by representatives from culturally and linguistically diverse communities, Indigenous communities, and LGBTQIA+ communities. People with disability, children and young people have also been represented. NACCHO’s Chair Donnella Mills, is one of the 17 members making up the advisory group.

The appointments were announced last Friday 18 June 2021 with the group attending a virtual meeting of the Women’s Safety Taskforce that day. During the meeting, commonwealth, state and territory governments discussed their progress toward ending violence against women and children, while advisory group members voiced support for evidence, data and clear monitoring for all items in the upcoming national plan. “This will ensure we can thoroughly assess and track our long term target to ending violence against women and their children,” Women’s Safety Minister Anne Ruston said.

The advisory group’s contributions will be detailed in a consultation report, to inform the national plan. The group will work with the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Advisory Council to ensure relevant Closing the Gap targets are embedded in the plan.

The public can give feedback on the plan here until Saturday 31 July 2021.

To view the full article in The Mandarin click here.

shadow of child holding adult's hand & another adult

Image source CBA website.

June 2021 RPHCM Project Update

The June 2021 Project Update for the Remote Primary Health Care Manuals (RPHCMs) has been released.

Secondary reviewers are being sought – if are you a nurse or Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Practitioner working in a remote clinic your feedback is being sought on whether the protocols are easy to read and understand, and apply to your daily practice.

Protocol groups coming up for endorsement include (1) dental protocols and procedures (2) cervical screening, and (3) child respiratory.

To view the June 2021 RPHCM project update click here.

spines of 4 RPHCM suite, green, purple, pink & blue

Image source: Centre for Remote Health website.

AWHs’ vital role in paediatric burn care

Burns affect Australia’s First Nations children more than other Australian children, they also experience longer lengths of stay in tertiary burns units and face barriers in accessing burn aftercare treatment. Data sets from two studies were combined whereby 19 families, 11 First Nations Health Worker (FNHW) and 56 multidisciplinary burn team members from across Australia described the actual or perceived role of FNHW in multidisciplinary burn care.

Data highlighted similarities between the actual role of FNHW as described by families and as described by FNHW such as enabling cultural safety and advocacy. In contrast, a disconnect between the actual experience of First Nations families and health workers and that as perceived by multidisciplinary burn team members was evident. More work is needed to understand the impact of this disconnect and how to address it.

To view the research paper in full click here.

photo of campfire at night

Image source: The George Institute for Global Health.

Cervical cancer elimination targets unmet

Achieving the World Health Organisation (WHO) cervical cancer elimination target of fewer than four new cases per 100,000 woman-years requires scaling up HPV vaccination of girls, cervical screening, and pre-cancer and cancer treatment. Data has been reviewed from four high-income colonised countries (Australia, Canada, Aotearoa NZ, and the US) to identify how each is currently performing compared to the cervical cancer incidence elimination and triple-intervention targets, nationally and in Indigenous women.

To achieve elimination, cervical cancer incidence must be reduced by 74% in Indigenous women in Australia, and 63% in Maori women in NZ. Only Australia meets the vaccination coverage target. Screening coverage is lower for Indigenous women in all four countries though the differential varies by country. Currently, only Australia universally offers HPV-based screening. Data on pre-cancer and cancer treatment were limited in all countries.

Large inequities in cervical cancer currently exist for Indigenous peoples in Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the US, and elimination is not on track for all women in these countries. Current data gaps hinder improvements. These countries must urgently address their systemic failure to care and provide health care for Indigenous women.

To view the research article in full click here.

Aboriginal painting of torso down of Aboriginal woman sitting, colours purple, pink, taupe, white, purple

Art by Madison Connors, a Yorta Yorta, Dja Dja Wurrung, Kamilaroi woman from NE Victoria. Image source: Cancer Council Victoria.

Digital inequities in supporting mental health

An article Connection to… Addressing Digital Inequities in Supporting the Well-Being of Young Indigenous Australian in the Wake of COVID-19 examines whether connection to digital technologies helps connect young Indigenous people in Australia to culture, community and country to support good mental health and well-being and protect against indirect and potentially long-term effects of COVID-19.

A literature review revealed there are inequities in affordable access to digital technologies. Only 63% of Indigenous people have access to internet at home. Digital technologies and social media contribute to strong cultural identity, enhance connections to community and country and improve mental health and social and emotional well-being outcomes.

Access to digital technologies can facilitate healing and cultural continuity, self-determination and empowerment for young people to thrive, not just survive, in the future. More targeted policies and funding is urgently needed to promote digital technologies to enhance Indigenous young people’s access to mental health and well-being services, maintain cultural connections and evaluate the effectiveness of these initiatives using Indigenous well-being indicators.

To view the full article click here.

Aboriginal person's hand holding mobile phone with #Thismymob app

#thismymob app. Image source: SBS NITV website.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Pfizer vaccine for adults under 60

feature tile text 'ATAGI recommends Pfizer covid-19 vaccine for adults 59 years and under' image of syringe drawing from vial overlaying Pfizer blue & white logo

Pfizer vaccine for adults under 60

The AMA acknowledges the latest advice from the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) recommending the COVID-19 vaccine by Pfizer (Comirnaty) is preferred in adults under the age of 60 years.

The AMA says the change to our COVID-19 vaccine roll out is based on the latest medical evidence and advice. “The Australian community can be reassured that the Commonwealth continues to take the advice of medical experts on how best to manage the risk of COVID-19 and target our vaccine roll out,” AMA President, Dr Omar Khorshid said. “ATAGI has decided the AstraZeneca vaccine should be used for those patients who are 60 years of age and over based on an assessment of the current risks of COVID-19 in the community.

“With very low rates of community transmission, ATAGI has decided that Pfizer should be the preferred vaccine for anyone under the age of 60. People who have had the AstraZeneca vaccine should not be alarmed by this decision,” Dr Khorshid said. “The risks of serious complications, including clotting, from the AstraZeneca vaccine are very low and Australia is now very good at detecting clots in patients who’ve had the AstraZeneca vaccine.

To view the AMA’s media release click here.

blue gloved hand holding whit swab to upper arm, presumably following vaccination

Image source: startsat60. website.

Shorter gap between jabs

On the 8 June 2021 the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) published an updated version of the administration of 2021 seasonal influenza vaccines advice. The new advice incorporates the latest ATAGI agreed recommendations on the relative timing of administering influenza vaccines and COVID-19 vaccines in 2021. The key changes in advice are as follows:

  • the preferred minimum interval between influenza vaccine and a dose of COVID-19 vaccine is 7 days (previously 14 days) a shorter interval between the two vaccines (including co-administration) is acceptable when there:
    • is increased risk of COVID-19 or another vaccine-preventable disease (e.g.) COVID-19, influenza outbreak, tetanus-prone wound)
    • are logistical issues, e.g. difficulty scheduling visits to maintain the 7 day interval
  • influenza vaccine can be given before or after any dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, with a minimum interval of 7 days
  • an influenza vaccine can be given in between their two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine
  • when scheduling influenza and COVID-19 vaccines, providers should prioritise COVID-19 vaccines for patients who are eligible to receive the vaccine now, then they can schedule the influenza vaccination

A news item providing these key changes in advice can be viewed here and the Health professional update – Updated ATAGI advice on administering seasonal influenza vaccines in 2021 can be viewed here.

Vaccination providers are also reminded that it is now mandatory to report all influenza vaccinations to the Australian Immunisation Register (AIR) (in effect since 1 March 2021).

2 images, first of syringe & 2 vials both with'COVID-19 Vaccine' text, one with red bar & '1st Dose' one with blue bar with '2nd Dose; 2nd image of vial with text 'Influenza Virus Vaccine Flu Vaccine'

Image sources: University of Oxford and Elite Medical Center website.

Canadian First Nations incredible vaccine update

To view the article in full click here.

norther Alberta Canada medical reception room, masked Kehewin Cree Nation elders pray at a ceremony marking the arrival of COVID-19 vaccine; two female elders are sitting with colourful traditional rugs across knees

Kehewin Cree Nation elders pray at a ceremony marking the arrival of COVID-19 vaccine in the northern Alberta community on 8 February 2021. Image source: Radio Canada International website.

Investment in Aboriginal education

Thrive by Five, the national campaign to reform early learning and childcare, has welcomed the NSW Government’s $23 million investment in Indigenous early learning announced in the State Budget. The Berejiklian Government investment will help increase opportunities for First Nations children to learn the language of their heritage, as well as increasing the enrolment of Indigenous children in early learning. “The science is very clear. Children’s brains grow to 90 per cent of the size of an adult brain during their first five years. This makes those years absolutely critical to ensuring children have the opportunity thrive,” Thrive by Five CEO Jay Weatherill said.

To view the Minderoo Foundation media release in full click here.

banner blue with 2 yellow triangle; 1 red square, yellow semi-circle, 2 mint semi-circles, 1 mint circle, blue background, text 'every child deserves the best start' in white text with yellow font for 'deserves' & the full stop; text 'join the campaign thrivebyfive.org.au; log circle, top half orange with text ' Minderoo' & lower half 'Foundation' to the right of the logo text 'thrive by five'

Image source: Thrive by Five website.

New CTG PBS Co-payment resources

New resources are available for GPs about the changes to the Closing the Gap (CTG) PBS Co-payment program due to take effect on 1 July 2021.

The CTG PBS Co-payment program was established in July 2010 to improve access to affordable PBS medicines for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living with, or at risk of, chronic disease, and who in their doctor’s opinion would experience setbacks in the prevention or ongoing management of chronic disease if they did not take the prescribed medicine and would be unlikely to adhere to their medicines regimen without assistance through the program.

To view the article in full click here.

doctor's room with doctor standing talking to patient (also standing); GP wearing lavender shirt with BDAC logo & lanyard

Image source: Bendigo & District Aboriginal Co-operative website.

Suicide prevention manual

Professor Pat Dudgeon welcomed 250 plus attendees to the webinar for the launch today of the Manual of Resources in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention.

The Manual is a collection of practical resources and tools that people, both Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and non-Indigenous, can use to make a real difference in promoting positive mental health and social emotional wellbeing, and preventing suicide in our communities.

To view the manual click here.

Professor Pat Dugeon sitting a desk holding hand out to computer screen, surrounded by windows all looking out onto green trees

Professor Pat Dudgeon delivering her Acknowledgement of Country during webinar for launch of the Manual of Resources in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention.

Achieving healthy, safe digital ecosystems

New research led by Noongar researcher Dr Tristan Kennedy shows that social media offers many benefits to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, such as ways to establish and navigate identity and build and maintain strong connections to family and community. But it also found significant negative impact, with 97% of Indigenous people surveyed saying they experienced negative content on social media on a weekly basis, “grounded in ways of talking about Indigenous people and racist ideas that have pervaded Australian settler-colonial history”.

Concerned that the cultural subtleties of offensive content are not readily identified by non-Indigenous platform moderators, the research identified the need to employ more Indigenous peoples in the platforms, but also in government, policy making institutions and education more generally.

The findings underscored issues raised by Associate Professor Megan Williams, about how important platforms like Facebook can be for communities and for raising issues more broadly. But she was also concerned by the “vitriol and racism” Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people face online and how their voices are missing at the table of so many discussions, and from all types of media.

A Wiradjuri scholar, Assistant Director and Research Lead at the University of Sydney’s National Centre for Cultural Competence, and Co-Chair of Croakey Health Media, Williams has talked about the need to create “healthy, safe digital ecosystems”, informed by First Nations voices and knowledges, such as the resources created to support the Stolen Generations by the Healing Foundation.

To view the Croakey article in full click here.

image of earth in box made of chains with $ symbol, fire icon & gears; text 'Corporate Capture - virtual imprisonment, surveilled & harvested, disempowered, institutionalised' & earth with tree vector superimposed - text 'Healthy Digital Econsystems - Care for Country, Self determination, Public/community interest; Respect'; Relationships; Recipriocity'

Image source: Croakey.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Safely sleeping Aboriginal babies program

feature tile text 'safely sleeping Aboriginal babies in SA program - Flinders University' image of Aboriginal community researchers Sharon Watts and Anna Dowling holding a Pedi-Pod

Safely sleeping Aboriginal babies program

Aboriginal babies die from Sudden Unexplained Death in Infancy (SUDI) and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) 3–4 times more often than non-Aboriginal babies. “This never has been and never will be okay,” say Professor Julian Grant and Dr Nina Sivertsen, who are leading the Safely sleeping Aboriginal babies in South Australia program led by Flinders University.

The program, in collaboration with the Aboriginal Health Council of SA, the Women and Children’s Health Network and SA Health, was conceived after Aboriginal cultural consultant, Ms Wilhelmine Lieberwirth, approached Child and Family Health Services staff to look for ‘culturally safe’ solutions to do more for Aboriginal babies to sleep safely.

The Pepi-Pod program prioritises safe sleep education, while also providing a small bed to create a safe ‘pod’ or sleep space that can be placed in or next to the family bed. “We wanted to see if the Pepi-Pod program was experienced as culturally safe and if First Nations families would even use it,” says Dr Sivertsen of the first small initial pilot trial in SA.

“Families told us that one of the best parts of the Pepi-Pod program is that ‘you don’t have to worry’ babies were in their ‘own little comfort zone’. Babies were ‘peaceful and safe’ and you could ‘see him’, ‘feel him’ ‘touch him’ and ‘hear him’, while baby slept safely in the pod.”

Many families including First Nations peoples sleep with their babies in the family bed. “While bed sharing has many benefits, it is also associated with infant death and is not recommended by SA Health,” says Professor Grant. Sharon Watts, an Aboriginal researcher on the project, says that it is “really important for First Nations families to feel close to their babies all the time, especially when sleeping”.

To view the Flinders University’s media release click here.

Professor Jeanine Young with Aboriginal doll in a Pepi-Pod

Professor Jeanine Young with a Pepi-Pod. Image source: Red Nose website.

NAIDOC returns to NITV in 2021

All Australians are invited to celebrate NAIDOC 2021 with a week-long dedicated schedule on National Indigenous Television (NITV), and a range of programs and content across the SBS network, celebrating and reflecting on the history, cultures and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Inspired by the 2021 NAIDOC theme, Heal Country!, the slate focuses on the strength and survival of the oldest continuing cultures on the planet, from Saturday 3 July to Sunday 11 July.

This year’s multiplatform offering includes the exclusive broadcast of the 2021 National NAIDOC Awards, the return of Australia’s only all-Indigenous breakfast television program, the premiere of docu-comedy History Bites Back, as well as a range of documentaries, movies, news and current affairs programs and features across the network.

To view the media release click here.banner sbs & NITV logo & Aboriginal art colours orange, aqua, black, blue

Indigenous doctor academic post program

The Australian Indigenous Doctors’ Association (AIDA) Academic Post was first earmarked by the Department of Health as part of the Federal Government’s Closing the Gap strategy. The post is an identified training term open to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander GPs in training to undertake teaching and research that aims to improve the health and life outcomes of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

WA GP Dr Talila Milroy jumped at the chance to undertake the AIDA Academic Post in 2020. Dr Milroy was always interested in developing and furthering general practice research, and the post allowed a structured framework to delve into the data. Now, having undertaken a year as the 2020 AIDA Academic Post holder Dr Milroy is continuing her part-time research role and furthering her study into the experiences and impacts of racism on general practice training.

‘You develop so many skills, not only in research but in teaching as well,’ she told newsGP. ‘It’s also the networking; you gain communication skills because you’re teaching medical students, and you get more of a grasp of how to design research and ask questions that are clinically relevant, useful and translatable.’

To view the full article newsGP article click here.

portrait image of Dr Talila Milroy, 2020 AIDA Academic Post holder

Dr Talila Milroy, 2020 AIDA Academic Post holder. Image source: newsGP.

Winnunga May newsletter

The May 2021 edition of the Winnunga News, the Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health and Community Services (WNAHCS) monthly newsletter has been released. This edition has a focus on the ACT’s prison crisis and calls from the local Aboriginal community to the ACT Government for a Royal Commission to identify and respond to the over-representation of Aboriginal peoples in the ACT in touch with the criminal justice system or incarcerated.

WNAHCS CEO Julie Tongs OAM says “we have to face the awful truth, the worst-performing government in Australia, when it comes to locking up Aboriginal peoples, is the ACT government.” You can access the newsletter here.

WNAHCS CEO Julie Tongs OAM. wearing WNAHCS logo hoodie standing at Aboriginal flag painted mental gate of Boomanulla Oval Narrabundah

WNAHCS CEO Julie Tongs OAM. Photo: Sitthixay Ditthavong. Image source: The Canberra Times.

New mental health service in Armadale WA

Mental Health Minister Stephen Dawson has officially opened the new community Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) in Armadale. The new purpose-built facility is centrally located, with easy access to public transport. The facility will support the local community through the provision of mental health services to children and young people from 40 suburbs across the wider Armadale area. The space has been designed to ensure it is culturally appropriate. All rooms have Noongar names and local artist Sally-Anne Greengrass was commissioned to paint murals featuring the Noongar seasons.

To view the full media release click here.

watercolour painting of silhouette of child's head overlaid with yellow pink orange green purple smudged circles overlaid on yellowish background

Image source: Neuroscience Newsletter.

Funding for SISTAQUIT

The Federal Government will invest $5.9 million on cancer prevention among women in vulnerable communities across the world through the Global Alliance for Chronic Diseases (GACD). $1.8m of the funding has been committed to allow SISTAQUIT (Supporting Indigenous Smokers to Assist Quitting) to expand its free, online training in quit smoking methods to all Australian health services catering to Indigenous women during pregnancy.

To view the media release in full click here.SISTAQUIT logo text' SISTAQUIT' in pink blue letters overlaid with white dots, black background, additional text 'Supporting INdigenous Smokers To Assist Quitting'

Kidney failure decision making webinar

Kidney Health Education is holding a health professional webinar Decision Making & Symptom Control in Kidney Failure at 7:30PM AEST Tuesday 22 June 2021.

The webinar will be presented by nephrologist Professor Robyn Langham.

Registration is essential. You can register here.banner text 'health Professional Webinar - Decision making & systmptom control in kidney failure - presented by Prof Robyn Langham, Nephrologist - Tuesday 22 June, 7:30PM AEST - Kidney Health Education logo, image of lady's hand on elderly man's shoulder, colours red, light blue, navy, white

World Kidney Cancer Day – 17 June 2021

The first World Kidney Cancer Day was celebrated four years ago in June 2017. The international campaign was developed by the International Kidney Cancer Coalition (IKCC), a network of more than 45 Affiliate Organisations, to raise awareness for this little-known type of cancer. In the beginning, the focus was on the basics about kidney cancer – what causes it, how to prevent it, or why it’s on the rise.

While that campaign did a lot to raise the profile of kidney cancer, the incidence of the disease continues to increase globally. The most recent statistics estimate that 431,000 people will be diagnosed around the world each year.

The incidence of kidney cancer has been increasing since the 1970s, yet the worldwide mortality rate has been stable since the 1990s. In the last 14 years, targeted and immunotherapies for metastatic kidney cancer have made living with kidney cancer an entirely different story, compared with the preceding treatment options, and localised tumours have also seen improved outcomes with robotic and nephron-sparing approaches.

For further information about World Kidney Cancer Day click here.banner grey text 'world kidney cancer day' green text 'we need to talk about how we're feeling' grey text '17 June 2021' vector of green person sitting looking at white bumpy cloud

World Continence Week – 21–27 June 2021

The International Continence Society (ICS) World Continence Week (WCW) is an annual initiative (held from Monday to Sunday in the last week of June with the primary aim to raise awareness about incontinence related issues. WCW was initiated in 2008 with the first ever World Continence Day and the following year became WCW with activities being developed worldwide.

Incontinence is the unwanted and involuntary leakage of urine or stool. Incontinence is a sensitive condition that affects an estimated 400 million people across the world. Historically, conditions affecting the bladder and bowel have often been uncomfortable or “taboo” subjects and accordingly these medical disorders have been underreported and under-diagnosed. Surveys have shown that fewer than 40% of persons with urinary incontinence mention their problem to a doctor or nurse and this figure is even higher for those with bowel incontinence. These conditions have been inadequately treated and poorly addressed by medical professionals, despite the substantial impact on individual health, self-esteem and quality of life.

In light of this, WCW seeks to draw attention to and increase public awareness about these conditions and to give sufferers the confidence to seek help and improve their quality of life. For further information about World Continence Week 2021 click here.logo text 'World Continence Week 2021' green 'C' containing a light blue circle

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: NACCHO celebrates Men’s Health Week

feature tile text 'Men's Health Week 14–20 June 2021 Connecting for Men's Health' photo of Darren Braun AHW trainee at Danila Dilba in Palmerston sitting on chair in clinic facing another Aboriginal man

NACCHO celebrates Men’s Health Week

The National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) celebrates Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander male health and wellbeing. It upholds traditional values of respect for the law, Elders, culture and traditions, responsibility as leaders and men, holders of lore, providers, warriors, and protectors of families. Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander people can be more susceptible to poor mental health and suicide due to discrimination, economic and social disadvantage, and the ongoing trauma or impact of past events and policies. Connecting to land, culture, spirituality, family, and community can help support strong mental health and wellbeing for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

NACCHO Chair Donnella Mills said, “The commitment of our Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations (ACCHOs) is to support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander males to live longer, healthier lives by providing a wide range of preventative and early intervention men’s programs that address critical social and emotional issues that our men face. “The overall aim is to reduce the rate of hospitalisations, which is almost three times higher than for other Australian men and to reduce the number of Aboriginal men in prison who are imprisoned at 11
times the rate of the general male population. I would urge our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men to focus on their overall health especially after the COVID-19 outbreak and stay up to date with a comprehensive annual 715 health check at their nearest ACCHO. Annual health checks are crucial in picking up little things before they become worse, give peace of mind, best of all, they are free.”

To view the NACCHO media release in full click here.

Feature tile image: Darren Braun. an Aboriginal Health Worker trainee at Danila Dilba in Palmerston, Darwin. Photo: Emilia Terzon. Image source: ABC News.

CAAC Ingkintja Male Health Service

Ingkintja: Wurra apa artwuka pmara is an Aboriginal Male Health Service at the Central Australian Aboriginal Congress (CAAC) that has provided cultural activities and social and emotional wellbeing services for male health for many years. The ACCHO delivers a full suite of medical care complemented by social support services with emphasis on preventative health with annual 715 health check, servicing over 1,000 men every year. The Ingkintja ‘Men’s Shed’ male-only facilities (showers and laundry facilities) and gym enable males, both young and old, to come together and access fitness, comradery and practical life skills. A psychologist and Aboriginal care management worker are available through Ingkintja, allowing therapeutic care on counselling, violence interventions, cultural and social support to men.

Ingkintja also delivers the Jaila Wanti prison to work program, which provides support to Aboriginal prisoners 90 days prior to release and post release to reintegrate back into community through the coordination of health, wellbeing and social support services. Male prison transitional care coordinators work with clients and facilitate linkages with employment and training providers. The team establish trust and respect and assist in reconnecting the men with family and culture, to reintegrate them into the community. Through the program, Ingkintja deliver regular visits to Aboriginal prisoners in the Alice Springs Correctional facility, conducting sessions with Aboriginal prisoners on their holistic health and wellbeing including health promotions with a focus on staying off the smokes and alcohol. Corrections staff have provided encouraging feedback on the positive impact that these visits have on the Aboriginal prisoners, noting changed attitudes and behaviours as the men reflect on the impact of their actions and ask for the next Ingkintja session.

For further information about Ingkintja: Wurra apqa artwuka pmara click here.

Aboriginal man middle age royal blue collared shirt, sunglasses, akubra with arm around shorter older Aboriginal man in a hoody smiling

Image source: CAAC website.

Connecting for Men’s Health

Marginalised groups such as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men have a health status far worse that the average non-Indigenous male.

Men’s Health Week is an opportunity to make a positive difference in the lives of men and boys. The week has a direct focus on the health impacts of men’s and boys’ environments.  It serves to ask two questions:

  • What factors in men’s and boy’s environments contribute to the status of male health as indicated in the table above?
  • How can we turn that around and create positive environments in men’s and boy’s lives?

For more information about Men’s Health Week 14–20 June 2021 click here.

You can access NACCHO’s media statement regarding Men’s Health Week here.tile text 'NACCHO Ochre Day Men's health, our way. Let's own it! National conference National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation - NACCHO www.naccho.org.au' white text, NACCHO black eagle over Australia logo

Camping on Country Program

Camping on Country is an award winning program developed by Ernie Dingo and Indigenous elders and staff. It is a remote men’s movement designed to create powerful advocacy around closing the gap on remote men’s health. Camping on Country’s network of men is growing as they camp on country and link men’s groups around remote Australia.

Each month Camping on Country visits a remote community and run men’s health and culture camps which include local Leadership and Lore men for that country. At the camps they provide a space for local leaders to discuss what health issues they face in their community, what programs are working or not working and work with the men to articulate their ideas for health programs targeted at their own men.

Camping on Country run a second bigger camp where the men from neighbouring language groups all come together to showcase their culture and wellbeing programs. The men learn from each other and show pride in their culture and programs. Local health stakeholders and community organisations are engaged and activated and the men are assisted in identifying and applying for a specific health program grant developed by them for local men in their community.

Camping on Country partners with health service providers to ensure its camps are safe, healthy and inspiring. Men get access to on-country culturally safe health checks, counselling and mental health first aid. They employ local men to assist with the camps and collect and collate camp data to track the program’s impact and progress.

You can access an information sheet on the Camping on Country project here and Camping on Country website here.

Aboriginal man wearing navy cap with Camping on Country logo & khaki shirt in bush setting with hand on Camping on Country sign

Image source: Camping on Country our health – our way website.

Medication harm reduction research

The Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (PSA) has welcomed the Federal Government’s announcement of $11.7 million in funding for research into medicines safety and quality use of medicines. The announcement is the first round of grants to be delivered under the Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF), agreed with the Federal Government and PSA last year as part of the Health Minister’s commitment to progress Medicine Safety as a National Health Priority Area. Grants will enable recipients to target medication-related harm and the safe use of medicines in the community. PSA National President, Associate Professor Chris Freeman, applauded the announcement and said research undertaken through this grant funding is an important step to improving the health of Australians through medicine safety.

To view the PSA media release click here.

wooden surface with pills, syringe, heroin on a spoon

Image source: Southwestern Public Health website.

Walkern Katatdjin Committee seeks members

The Walkern Katatdjin project is looking for people who are committed to improving the health and wellbeing of young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander LGBTQA+ mob to join the Walkern Katatdjin Governance Committee. The Walkern Katatdjin (Rainbow Knowledge)  project aims to improve the support available to our young mob through research. The Governance Committee will oversee the Walkern Katatdjin project design, procedures, data management, and translation of findings to ensure meaningful impacts from the project.

You can find more information about the Walkern Katatdjin project here and to learn about the role of the Walkern Katatdjin Governance Committee and how to apply to be join here.banner drawing of two Sistergirls, text 'Walkern Katatdjin Rainbow Knowledge with rainbow made up of Aboriginal flag & Torres Strati Islander flag colours

Fresh direction offers hope for Indigenous health

New approaches and partnerships will place an Aboriginal-led research centre in a position to lead significant progress in improving Indigenous health in communities across the Northern Territory and South Australia.

In celebrating its 10th Anniversary, Flinders University’s Poche SA+NT centre has unveiled a new high-profile 10-member Advisory Board and plans to form alliances with community organisations across the nation’s central corridor to amplify the impact of health initiatives.

It’s a bold new direction for the Aboriginal-led centre, announced at an event to celebrate the Anniversary in Darwin. “Poche SA+NT is designed to drive local action and to promote national collaborations across a number of university partners, enabling us to work together on issues of priority that are identified by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders,” Flinders University Vice-Chancellor Professor Colin Stirling told the Darwin event.

To view the media release in full click here.Flinders University & Poche SA+NT logos

Conference presenter applications DUE 18 June

Statistics show Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have significantly higher mental health needs than other Australians and experience psychological distress at around 3x the rate of the non-Indigenous population. We see similar numbers across the seas, with Māori and Pasifika populations carrying the highest burden of suicide with higher incidences.

It is time to speak up, be heard and celebrate projects, programs and research contributing to the mission of closing the gap for Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander and Maori peoples.

The Australian & NZ Mental Health Association has announced a final call for applicants wishing to share their insight on Indigenous mental health and wellbeing for the inaugural Indigenous Wellbeing Conference. This event is taking place from 7–8 October 2021 at Cairns Pullman International.

The conference theme ‘Honouring Indigenous Voices & Wisdom: Balancing the System to Close the Gap’ will be bringing attention to four core areas:

  • Promoting Wellbeing
  • Social, Political and Cultural Determinants
  • Community Care, Cultural Revitalisation & Healing
  • Culturally Responsive Care & Community Control

Together we will help to empower Indigenous communities to develop their own solutions to living long healthy lives; strengthen culture; and reconnect with spirit.

Submit your presentation brief hereDUE DATE: FRIDAY 18 JUNE 2021.banner text 'Indigenous Wellbieng Conference' Aboriginal artwork 4 hands overlaid, colours ochre, red, brown, black, white

World Elder Abuse Awareness Day

World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (WEAAD) is commemorated each year on 15 June to highlight one of the worst manifestations of ageism and inequality in our society, elder abuse. Elder abuse is any act which causes harm to an older person and is carried out by someone they know and trust such as a family member or friend. The abuse may be physical, social, financial, psychological or sexual and can include mistreatment and neglect.

WEAAD was officially recognised by the United Nations General Assembly in December 2011, following a request by the International Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse (INPEA), who first established the commemoration in June 2006. In many parts of the world elder abuse occurs with little recognition or response. It is a global social issue which affects the health, wellbeing, independence and human rights of millions of older people around the world, and an issue which deserves the attention of all in the community.

According to WHO, prevalence rates or estimates exist only in selected developed countries – ranging from 1 to 10%. Although the extent of elder mistreatment is unknown, its social and moral significance is obvious.

For more information about WEAAD click here.banner orange & purple text 'WEAAD on purple ribbon & JUNE 15 World Elder Abuse Awareness Day We can stop elder abuse. & image of purple pinwheels in a green grass field

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Protecting frontline workers against COVID-19

Feature tile - Fri 11.6.21 - Protect frontline workers against COVID

Protecting frontline workers against COVID

The Australian Medical Association (AMA) today welcomed the release of updated guidelines on the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) to protect health care workers against aerosol transmission of COVID-19.

The Infection Control Expert Group (ICEG) developed the guidelines in collaboration with the National COVID-19 Clinical Evidence Taskforce Infection Prevention and Control Panel and the Commonwealth Minister for Health in September last year after the AMA expressed its concerns over the lack of protection for health care workers from the risks of aerosol transmission of COVID-19.

AMA President Dr Omar Khorshid said the updated guidelines did much to address the concerns of the medical profession and they were much more explicit on the need for health care workers to be provided with N95/P2 masks when managing patients with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 to protect them against the risks of aerosol transmission.

“Too many health care workers in Australia have been placed at risk of COVID-19 because of the lack of adequate PPE and these new guidelines could not have come soon enough, particularly as Australia still remains at significant risk of outbreaks,” said Dr Khorshid

The updated ICEG guidelines follow the release by the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care of an update to its Preventing and Controlling .Infections Standard, which were reviewed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Red the media release by AMA here.

Personal Protective Equipment. Image credit: https://infectioncontrol.care/blog/what-is-ppe.

Personal Protective Equipment. Image credit: https://infectioncontrol.care/blog/what-is-ppe. Feature image – Dr Glenn Harrison in PPE. Image credit: The Royal Melbourne Hospital.

 

Praise for Moree COVID-19 testing rates

More than 900 people have been tested for COVID-19 in Moree within 12 hours, with Hunter New England Health (HNEH) thanking people for their response. The numbers through the expanded hospital and drive through clinics in Moree is a credit to both the community and the medical staff, HNE LHD Chief Executive Mr Michael DiRienzo said.

It comes after residents were told to hold-off on attending the pop-up COVID-19 testing site on Thursday, due to the high number of vehicles at the Moree Gateway. However Mr Di Lorenzo assured the community that Moree District Hospital and Laverty Moree “have swabbing supplies and are not turning people away”.

“I want to sincerely thank the Moree community for quickly getting behind our call to get tested,” he said.

High rates of testing are so important because this will help us to detect any cases in the community as early as possible. Please remain vigilant for COVID-19 symptoms and get tested for even the mildest of symptoms.”

You can read the full story in Tenterfield Star here.

Moree District Health Service. Image credit: Tenterfield Star.

Moree District Health Service. Image credit: Tenterfield Star.

Experiences and impacts of racism on GP training

Dr Talila Milroy jumped at the chance to undertake the Australian Indigenous Doctors’ Association (AIDA) Academic Post in 2020. The Western Australian GP was always interested in developing and furthering general practice research, and the post allowed a structured framework to delve into the data.

Now, having undertaken a year as the 2020 AIDA Academic Post holder, Dr Milroy is continuing her part-time research role and furthering her study into the experiences and impacts of racism on general practice training.

You develop so many skills, not only in research but in teaching as well,” she told newsGP.

‘It’s also the networking; you gain communication skills because you’re teaching medical students, and you get more of a grasp of how to design research and ask questions that are clinically relevant, useful and translatable.’

The AIDA post was first earmarked by the Department of Health as part of the Federal Government’s Closing the Gap strategy. The post is an identified training term open to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander GPs in training to undertake teaching and research that aims to improve the health and life outcomes of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Read more about Dr Milroy’s experience in newsGP here.

Applications are now open for the 2022 intake of the RACGP Australian General Practice Training Academic Post with entries closing on 5 July. Find out more here.

Dr Talila Milroy, 2020 AIDA Academic Post holder. Image credit: GP News, RACGP.

Dr Talila Milroy, 2020 AIDA Academic Post holder. Image credit: GP News, RACGP.

Improve the health and wellbeing of LGBTQA+ mob

Walkern Katatdjin is looking for people who are committed to improving the health and wellbeing of young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander LGBTQA+ mob to join the Walkern Katatdjin Governance Committee.

The Walkern Katatdjin (Rainbow Knowledge) project aims to improve the support available to our young mob through research. The Governance Committee will oversee the Walkern Katatdjin project design, procedures, data management, and translation of findings to ensure meaningful impacts from the project.

Find out more about the role of the Governance Committee and the Walkern Katatdjin project here.

Walkern Katatdjin - Rainbow Knowledge

 

Decision Making and Symptom Control in Kidney Failure

Health Professional Webinar
Kidney Health Australia

Presented by Prof Robyn Langham, Nephrologist

Tuesday 22 June, 7.30pm (AEST)
Register here (registration is essential)
For more information contact us via email.

Decision Making and Symptom Control in Kidney Failure - Kidney Health Australia webinar

Improved quality aged care

‘Improving outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in aged care’

This webinar will outline how the aged care reforms will improve access to and quality of aged care delivered to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples including in remote communities.

Presenters

  • The Hon Greg Hunt, Minister for Health and Aged Care
  • Senator the Hon Richard Colbeck, Minister for Senior Australians and Aged Care Services
  • Michael Lye, Deputy Secretary, Ageing and Aged Care Group
  • Helen Grinbergs, First Assistant Secretary, Service Delivery Division
  • Eliza Strapp, First Assistant Secretary, Market and Workforce Division

Webinar content

Aged care workers and providers who deliver services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are encouraged to participate in the webinar.

The webinar will outline how the aged care reforms will help to:

  • involve Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in designing their services and care
  • ensure services and care are available to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people no matter where they live
  • enhance the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander aged care workforce.

You will have the opportunity to say how we can best work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, families, carers and communities, health services, aged care providers and the workforce to make positive changes.

Date and time: 3.00pm to 4.30pm (AEST), Monday, July 19 2021.
Register here.
4 Aboriginal hands holding another Aboriginal hand

Image source: ORIC website.

Presenter Applications Open for Inaugural 2021 Indigenous Wellbeing Conference

Statistics show Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have significantly higher mental health needs than other Australians and experience psychological distress at around 3x the rate of the non-Indigenous population. We see similar numbers across the seas, with Māori and Pasifika populations carrying the highest burden of suicide with higher incidences.

It is time to speak up, be heard and celebrate projects, programs and research contributing to the mission of closing the gap for Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander and Māori peoples.

The Australian & New Zealand Mental Health Association has announced a final call for applicants wishing to share their insight on Indigenous mental health and wellbeing for the inaugural Indigenous Wellbeing Conference. This event is taking place from 7-8 October at Cairns Pullman International.

The conference theme ‘Honouring Indigenous Voices & Wisdom: Balancing the System to Close the Gap’ will be bringing attention to four core areas:

  • Promoting Wellbeing
  • Social, Political and Cultural Determinants
  • Community Care, Cultural Revitalisation & Healing
  • Culturally Responsive Care & Community Control

Together we will help to empower Indigenous communities to develop their own solutions to living long healthy lives; strengthen culture; and reconnect with spirit.

Applications close: Friday 18 June 2021.
Submit your presentation brief here.

Indigenous Wellbeing Conference

 

 

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Grants to support mental health of new parents

Feature tile - Mon 7.6.21 - Grants to support mental health of new parents

Grants to support mental health of new parents

The Morrison government is providing $16.6 million in grants to support the mental health and wellbeing of expectant and new parents through nine new projects.

It is estimated that up to 10% of women experience depression while pregnant, and one in seven women in the year after birth. Men can also experience perinatal mental illness, with approximately one in 10 expectant and new fathers experiencing depression, anxiety or other forms of emotional distress in the perinatal period.

Some of the grants under the mental health initiative include:

  • $2.59 million for the University of Newcastle to deliver the SMS4dads digital prevention and early intervention service for fathers, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander fathers, living in rural and remote regions.
  • $750,000 for Possums for Mothers and Babies to deliver training and professional peer support for health professionals and new parents in rural communities.
  • $250,000 for the Murdoch University Ngangk Yira Research Centre for Aboriginal Health and Social Equity to produce health practitioner training materials and develop a mobile phone-based app version of the Baby Coming You Ready assessment and screening program for Aboriginal women.

You can read the full story and find out more about the other grants here.

Man pushing pram through park. Image source AAP.

Image source: AAP.

Yolngu Elders kick off COVID-19 vaccinations across Arnhem Land

Miwatj Health are gearing up for a COVID-19 vaccination blitz across the remote northern region of Arnhem Land.

Terry Yumbulul, Miwatj Health Aboriginal Corporation’s Chief Culture Advisor and Head of Regionalisation, and CEO Eddie Mulholland, had their Pfizer vaccine in Gove last week.

They were joined by 10 Board Members of Miwatj Health Aboriginal Corporation and other local leaders who received their vaccine in an effort to encourage others in the community.

ABC Radio Darwin’s Jo Laverty spoke with Terry Yumbulul about his experience and whether other Yolngu people would follow suit.

You can listen to the ABC Radio Darwin On Breakfast broadcast with Jolene Laverty here.

Yolngu Elder receives vaccine at Miwatj Health Aboriginal Corporation.

Yolngu Elder receives vaccine at Miwatj Health Aboriginal Corporation. Image source: ABC News.

Healing the past project seeking participants

Becoming a parent is exciting but it can be hard. Particularly for parents who have experienced difficulties in their own childhood, which can have long lasting effects on physical, social and emotional wellbeing. This can make the transition to parenthood difficult, causing distress and challenges to creating a nurturing environment for a new baby. On the flip side, growing research shows that becoming a parent offers a unique life-time opportunity to heal from this childhood hurt.  

‘Healing the past by nurturing the future’ (video) is a community-based participatory research project which is working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander (Aboriginal) parents to develop awareness and support strategies that could be offered during the perinatal period to support Aboriginal parents experiencing complex trauma.  

The team are looking for participants for this important research project who are:  

  • Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander people  
  • living in the NT, SA or Victoria, and  
  • are pregnant, have a partner who is pregnant or have a child (under 5 years in SA; or any age in NT or Vic).  

To learn more about the project, please contact Cindy from the research team on 0492 850 298, or email hpnf@latrobe.edu.au, or visit the website here.

Healing the Past - Image 1

Healing the Past – Illustration.

Cultural connectedness can reduce suicide rates

An article published in the Medical Journal of Australia ‘Suicide rates for young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people: the influence of community level cultural connectedness’ examines associations between community cultural connectedness indicators and suicide mortality rates for young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

This retrospective mortality study looks at suicide deaths of people aged 10‒19 years recorded by the Queensland Suicide Register between 2001‒2015.

The age‐specific suicide rate was 21.1 deaths per 100,000 persons/year for First Nations young people and 5.0 deaths per 100,000 persons/year for non‐Indigenous young people. The rate for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people was higher in areas with low levels of cultural social capital (greater participation of community members in cultural events, ceremonies, organisations, and community activities) than in areas classified as having high levels, and also in communities with high levels of reported discrimination. Associations with proportions of Indigenous language speakers and area level socio‐economic resource levels were not statistically significant.

The study found that suicide mortality rates for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people in Queensland were influenced by community level culturally specific risk and protective factors. The findings suggest that strategies for increasing community cultural connectedness at the community level and reducing institutional and personal discrimination could reduce suicide rates.

You can read the full article here.

Aboriginal youth sitting, resting his head in his hand

Image source: ABC News.

NDIS personalised budgets

The National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIS) has released new papers on Personalised Budgets to give more information on the way they propose to build participant budgets in the future.

In 2020 they released a paper on proposed changes to the planning policy for Personalised Budgets and plan flexibility, and encouraged participants, families, carers and the wider sector to respond. The feedback was that people want fairer decisions. People also wanted the NDIS to be more transparent about how they worked out the funds in participants’ plans.

The Personalised Budgets papers give you more information on how the NDIS are developing the new budget model and how they propose budgets will be built.

There are three versions of the Personalised Budgets paper available for increased accessibility. They include:

  1. Personalised Budgets – technical information paper
  2. Personalised Budgets – information paper for participants, their families and carers
  3. Easy Read Guide – A new way to work out how much funding you receive in your NDIS plan

You can read more about the Personalised Budget paper on the NDIS website here.

NDIS - Personalised Budgets

Health Check 2020

‘Partnership Agreement on Closing the Gap – Health Check 2020’

In 2018, the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) committed to a genuine, formal partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander representatives to develop the Closing the Gap strategy for the next decade. Governments acknowledged the need for a respectful, collaborative approach with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations and communities to achieve productive and sustainable outcomes.

To give effect to that commitment, the Partnership Agreement on Closing the Gap 2019-2029 (Partnership Agreement) was negotiated and agreed to by the Coalition of Peaks and the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) in March 2019. The Partnership Agreement provides an historic opportunity for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspectives to be heard and incorporated into policy and program dimensions across all levels of government. The Partnership Parties committed to an annual Health Check of the Partnership Agreement and agreed to the development and subsequent annual review of a Partnership Risk Register. The objective of the Health Check is to review the state of the Partnership Agreement against success indicators agreed by the Parties. This report gives an account of the first Health Check and includes a draft Risk Register.

This Health Check has found that the Partnership Agreement has been successful in achieving the coming together of the Coalition of Peaks and Governments in partnership to support the Parties’ decision to negotiate a new National Agreement.

You can view the full report here.

Partnership Health Check to inform the Partnership Agreement on Closing the Gap.

Partnership Health Check to inform the Partnership Agreement on Closing the Gap.

Digital mental health resources

In honour of National Reconciliation Week, the eMHPrac E-Mental Health in Practice website has decided to explore the Digital Mental Health Resources developed with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians in mind. These resources include culturally relevant and evidence-based information, advice, stories, support, and counselling.

There are a range of digital mental health resources available to support individuals, families, friends, and communities including:

  • WellMob
  • Beyond Blue
  • MindSpot Clinic
  • Stay Strong
  • iBobbly
  • Deadly Tots App
  • headspace Yarn Safe
  • eheadspace
  • HitNet Community Hub
  • iTalk Studios
  • Kurdiji
  • Positive Choices
  • Proppa Deadly
  • Yarning SafeNStrong

For more information on these resources, you can:

  • download a digital brochure here;
  • order a hardcopy brochure here; or
  • visit the website here.

emhprac Brochure - Digital Mental Health Resources for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Make Healing Happen

Feature tile - Wed 2.6.21 - Make Healing Happen

Make Healing Happen

The Healing Foundation’s Make Healing Happen report, released today, signals the urgent need for policy responses from all Australian governments to assist the healing process for a growing number of Stolen Generations survivors and descendants.

The Make Healing Happen report – released in conjunction with the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) report, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Stolen Generations aged 50 and over: updated analyses for 2018-19, provides an in-depth insight into the experiences of Stolen Generations survivors and the extent and complexity of their contemporary needs today and as they grow older.

“The AIHW has estimated that the number of Stolen Generations survivors has more than doubled – from 17,150 in 2014-15 to 33,600 in 2018-19,” said The Healing Foundation CEO Fiona Cornforth.

“This dramatic increase points to an urgent need for policy responses from all Australian governments, especially in the areas of health, mental health, aged care, disability, welfare, and wellbeing.

“One of the more significant findings is that all Stolen Generations survivors will by next year be eligible for aged care.

Compared with the general non-Indigenous population aged 50 and over (on an age standardised basis), Stolen Generations survivors aged 50 and over are:

  • 3 times as likely to be living with a severe disability;
  • 7 times as likely to have poor mental health;
  • 6 times as likely to have kidney disease;
  • 1 times as likely to have diabetes; and
  • 7 times as likely to have heart, stroke, or vascular disease.

You can download the Make Healing Happen report here.

View The Healing Foundation’s media release Significant increase in Stolen Generations survivor numbers signals urgent need for government solutions in health, aged care, and other services here.

View the AIHW report Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Stolen Generations aged 50 and over: updated analyses for 2018–19 here.

View the AIHW media release Stolen Generations survivors face poorer health and wellbeing outcomes than other Indigenous Australians here.

Make Healing Happen - It's Time to Act: The Healing Foundation report

Make Healing Happen – It’s Time to Act: The Healing Foundation report.

ACCH model to lead Hepatitis response

Dr Dawn Casey, Deputy CEO NACCHO spoke at the 12th Australasian Viral Hepatitis Conference in Sydney yesterday, 1 June 2021 on Progress and future challenges for enhancing viral hepatitis care in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. “Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have a higher burden of disease in comparison to the wider Australian population and viral Hepatitis is no exception.” “Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples represent approximately 3% of the total Australian population, yet we account for an estimated 10% of those living with chronic Hepatitis B and 20% of all Hepatitis C diagnoses,” she said.

These numbers highlight that more needs to be done to reach the national and international target of elimination of viral Hepatitis by 2030.

“In order to respond to viral Hepatitis, and other STI and BBV, in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities we must draw on the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health (ACCH) model of integrated primary health care,” said Casey pointing to the following factors that need to be addressed:

  • Sustained funding
  • Continued co-design and collaboration with key stakeholders
  • Improved data and surveillance
  • Innovative recall systems
  • Multiskilled workforce and increased workforce capacity
  • Community engagement and education
  • Continuous Quality Improvement
  • Access and effective integration of PoCT program for rapid results, immediate treatment, and timely contact tracing

“We need to develop strong partnerships and open relationships with state and territory governments, peak organisations and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community controlled health sector, working together to respond to the high rates for viral hepatitis in our communities.”

Dr Dawn Casey, Deputy CEO NACCHO speaking at the 12th Australasian Viral Hepatitis Conference in Sydney 1 June 2021.

Dr Dawn Casey, Deputy CEO NACCHO speaking at the 12th Australasian Viral Hepatitis Conference in Sydney on 1 June 2021.

Telehealth and hepatitis C study seeks participants

The Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health and Society at La Trobe University is conducting a Commonwealth-funded, interview-based study of people’s experiences using telehealth for hepatitis C treatment and care during COVID-19. The outcomes of this study will be to make recommendations to optimise the use of telehealth in hepatitis C care and treatment.

Dawn Casey’s keynote at the recent 12th Australasian Viral Hepatitis Conference, Progress and future challenges for enhancing viral hepatitis care in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people highlighted that telehealth has provided ‘culturally safe healthcare’ across ACCHOs.

We are inviting GPs and other specialists providing hepatitis C treatment and care for an interview to identify experiences, advantages, and barriers of telehealth; as well as people who have received telehealth care (re-imbursed $50 for their time).

Participation involves an audio-recorded 40–60 minute interview with a trained university researcher. Interviews will be conducted over phone or Zoom.

Please contact Dr Frances Shaw to arrange an interview or receive recruitment flyers to advertise this study in your ACCHO.
Email: f.shaw@latrobe.edu.au – Mobile: 0431 483 918

Jigalong patient and carer being supported by Stephen Copeland, optometrists. Image credit: mivision.com.au

Jigalong patient and carer being supported by Stephen Copeland, optometrists. Image credit: mivision.com.au

Review of FASD among First Nations people

The Alcohol and Other Drugs Knowledge Centre has published a Review of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peopleThe review states that FASD is a preventable, lifelong disability. FASD disproportionately affects Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, however, there are limited prevalence statistics available in the mainstream Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population. Accompanying the review is a short video of key points from the review, a summary version of the review with infographics and a factsheet.

The review explores the role of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women in preventing FASD and proposes that programs that work best for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities are those that are done with, for and by the communities and their leaders. Authors Sharynne Hamilton, Michael Doyle and Carol Bower, recommend that, where possible, federal and state governments should choose to invest in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community organisations to develop their own evidence-based, fit-for-community FASD prevention, intervention, and management strategies. Men are largely absent in FASD interventions. Co-author Michael Doyle says, “There is a need to involve Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men in research to understand the role they can play in the prevention, treatment and management of FASD”.

HealthInfoNet Director, Professor Neil Drew says, “We were delighted to commission this important review and partner with the authors to provide a comprehensive and sensitive review of the evidence around FASD with clear recommendations for future action”.

You can view the media release by the Alcohol and Other Drugs Knowledge Centre here.

FASD among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people - video.

FASD among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people – video.

Grog in pregnancy videos

Katherine West Health Board (2021)
Grog in pregnancy videos – partners, women and men
Katherine, NT: Katherine West Health Board

In these videos, community members share information with one another about drinking alcohol and Fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD).

The videos promote health messages such as:

  • have a check up at the clinic if you are planning to get pregnant
  • if mum drinks while pregnant the baby can be born with FASD
  • men can support women who are pregnant by not drinking
  • if you are breastfeeding you should not drink alcohol.

Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet abstract

Grog in Pregnancy - Partners: video by Katherine West Health Board.

Grog in Pregnancy – Partners: video by Katherine West Health Board.

Outcomes of community-based FASD workshop

There is a lack of neurodevelopmental assessment services in rural and remote locations in Australia that consider fetal alcohol spectrum disorder as a possible outcome.

87 participants attended a workshop to support community-based professional development and co-design of a novel assessment approach. Qualitative data collection included video recording of the workshop, and small group discussions, for which a narrative analysis was utilised. Quantitative data collection included self-report questionnaires to understand current community practices and three key constructs: practitioner knowledge, attitudes, and intentions for future practice.

The study identified key learnings from workshop facilitators and participants. The findings call attention to the importance of a co-design approach, where collaboration is vital to support the appropriate adaption of evidence-based practice to suit the local context.

You can read the abstract here.

FASD graphic produced by the FASD Hub Australia, which distributes information about the disorder online.

This is a graphic produced by the FASD Hub Australia, which distributes information about the disorder online.

NDIS Ready grants now open!

Attention all Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations! NDIS Ready Indigenous Business Support Funding (IBSF) ACCO grant round applications are NOW OPEN!  

IBSF offers funding to eligible ACCOs to help address: 

  • basic establishment costs, and/or 
  • business and technical challenges in registered and delivering services under the NDIS  

Grants of $20,000 are available for up to 100 ACCHOs and ACCOs.  

For information on the grant and how to apply can be found on the IBSF website. Applications close on Friday 11 June 2021. Please contact the NDIS Ready team at ndisready@naccho.org.au if you have any questions. 

NDIS Ready - Funding Round Open

NDIS Ready Indigenous Business Support Funding ACCO grant round applications are NOW OPEN.

Call for abstracts – now open!

Abstract submissions open for the 6th Ngar-wu Wanyarra Annual Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Conference, The University of Melbourne, Department of Rural Health.
Abstract submissions should address the conference theme ‘Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health and Wellbeing’.
Abstract submissions close Wednesday 30 June 2021. If you are interested in presenting, please complete the registration here.
Abstract submissions for Ngar-wu Wanyarra Annual Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Conference are now open.

Abstract submissions for Ngar-wu Wanyarra Annual Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Conference are now open.