NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: NACCHO Annual Report 2021–2022

NACCHO Annual Report 2021–2022

The NACCHO Annual Report 2021–2022 s now available to view.

The cover illustration symbolises NACCHO as the peak body for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health working together with its members and affiliates towards the delivery of comprehensive and culturally competent primary health care.

It showcases the work and achievements of the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health sector and includes the audited financial statements for 2021–2022 and can be accessed here.

NACCHO and BHP partner to improve RHD outcomes

NACCHO and BHP have announced a partnership aimed at eliminating Rheumatic Heart Disease (RHD) and Acute Rheumatic Fever (ARF) among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. ARF and RHD are preventable diseases disproportionately affecting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples living in regional and remote areas. Between 2016 and 2020, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples accounted for 92% of all ARF diagnoses in Australia.

As part of the agreement, BHP will provide $9.7m over three years, helping to fund critical health care initiatives delivered by ACCHOs across Australia. The funding complements the $18m already committed by the Australian Government. An additional $13.5m is also anticipated following the Labour Party’s election commitment to combat RHD in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. This includes $1.5m that is prioritised for the investment in portable echo-cardiogram machines, training and support for primary health care workers, including Aboriginal Health Workers and Practitioners.

NACCHO CEO, Pat Turner, said: “NACCHO’s partnership with BHP and the Australian Government is the first-ever national Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Sector-led initiative to combat RHD in our communities. This partnership recognises that we are best placed to design and implement health services, including prevention, screening, early diagnosis, treatment and supportive care, for our own communities. This additional investment will expand the support provided by ACCHOs to deliver evidence-based ARF and RHD activities in their communities.”

BHP’s Chief Legal, Governance and External Affairs Officer Caroline Cox said: “BHP is proud to continue its support of NACCHO, building on partnerships established with the Aboriginal community-led health sector over many years. It is important that we back Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leadership and put Aboriginal health in Aboriginal hands, as NACCHO’s vision sets out. We are determined to play our part in the collective action required to address the underlying causes of these health issues, such as inequality, inadequate housing and long-standing health inequities.”

BHP’s investment follows $5.9m of donations to ACCHOs throughout the pandemic for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander-led COVID responses across the country.

You can view the joint NACCHO and BHP media release NACCHO and BHP partner to improve ARF and RHD outcomes in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities in full on the NACCHO website here.

Image source: BHP.

Killings, disappearances a crisis in plain sight

Last night ABC Four Corners aired a story “How Many More?” – a special investigation into Australia’s murdered and missing Indigenous women. In Australia Aboriginal women are among the most victimised groups in the world, murdered up to 12 times the national average. In some regions, their deaths make up some of the highest homicide rates in the world. The killings and disappearances of Indigenous women across Australia were described in the program a crisis hidden in plain sight.

The program shows a snapshot of what this tragedy looks like. Four Corners revealed that at least 315 First Nations women have either gone missing or been murdered or killed in suspicious circumstances since 2000. But this is an incomplete picture. We will likely never know the true scale of how many First Nations women have been lost over the decades. This is because there is no agency in Australia keeping count, and there is no standard way of collecting this important data in each state and territory.

Canada calls it a genocide. The United States considers it an epidemic. But here in Australia, we’re only just waking up to the scale of the crisis.

To read the ABC News article The killings and disappearances of Indigenous women across Australia is a crisis hidden in plain sight click here and view the Four Corners episode here.

Prevalence of hearing loss research

The Australian Government has announced close to $7.5m funding to support research that will help prevent hearing loss and improve the health and wellbeing of those who live with hearing impairment. Nine projects have been funded, including a number of projects focused on improving access to hearing health for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children.

Researchers at Flinders University will co-design culturally appropriate methods to overcome difficulties experienced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children accessing hearing healthcare. At Curtin University, researchers will provide the first estimates of the number of Aboriginal children who have ear infections and hearing loss from 0 to 5 years of age and will demonstrate the feasibility of screening for ear infections and hearing loss from 2 months of age.

The grants are funded for three years through the National Health and Medical Research Council’s (NHMRC) Targeted Call for Research into Hearing Health 2021: Evidence-based support services.

To read Minister Butler’s media release $7.5m for hearing health in full click here.

Image source: Central Australian Aboriginal Congress (CAAC) Ear and Hearing Health webpage or CAAC website.

Mental health stigma a barrier for veterans

An Indigenous Navy veteran says the Australian Defence Force (ADF) has failed to address stigma around mental health among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander veterans. Professor Brad Murphy OAM, who now runs a veteran-focused GP clinic after serving in the Navy as a leading senior medic, has given evidence before the Royal Commission into Defence and Veteran Suicide.

He told the commission the stigma attached to seeking help for mental health issues remained a “huge impediment” to caring for Indigenous veterans. “We’ve worked so terribly hard over the years to remove stigma associated with mental health,” Professor Murphy said. “No matter how much we’ve tried, we have failed in this regard. Having [Indigenous veterans] actually reach out, or having family or community that are strong enough and well resourced to actually reach out on their behalf is a significant challenge.”

Professor Murphy told the commission more support was needed for members transitioning out of service and back into civilian life. He said many members leaving the ADF were left disconnected from their sense of family and belonging. “Indigenous culture is very much about family and my own experience and certainly my understanding of military culture is of family,” Professor Murphy said.

To read the ABC News article Indigenous veteran Professor Brad Murphy tells Defence Suicide Royal Commission mental health stigma remains a barrier in full click here.

Photo: Siobhan Heanue, ABC News.

No progress in tackling obesity

Calls for a tax on sugary drinks and warning labels on junk food have increased after a new report showed Australia has made no progress in the fight to tackle obesity. Since 2017, the Food Policy Index has been tracking progress on federal and state government policies to reduce obesity rates in Australia. “Obesity is really a public health crisis in Australia,” said Gary Sacks, an Associate Professor at Victoria’s Deakin University, and a co-author of the latest update on the Food Policy Index. “We’ve got two thirds of adults are overweight or obese, and a quarter of kids are overweight or obese.

Inequities in socioeconomic status have meant certain populations are even more impacted by the prevalence of obesity. The groups include those at higher risk of chronic disease, such as Indigenous Australians and newly arrived migrants. “These communities are at extreme risk. In Central Australia, we’ve got 60% of the Aboriginal population living with Type 2 diabetes. Access to care, such as dialysis, is really complicated, you have to come off Country, water is a real issue,” Ms Martin said. “The supply of fresh food and sometimes flying food in when the wet comes is really, really challenging.”

The prevalence of being overweight or obese is higher in Indigenous Australians compared to the general population. Of First Nations people aged between 2 and 17, the prevalence is 38% versus 24% for non-Indigenous youths, according to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.

To read the SBS News article ‘A public health crisis’: This is how many Australians eat a healthy diet in full click here.

Image source: The Medical Journal of Australia.

Extending scope of practice concerns

Louise Stone, a GP with clinical, research, teaching and policy expertise in mental health and Associate Professor in the Social Foundations of Medicine group, Australian National University (ANU) Medical School has written an article for AMA InSight about the push to enable health care workers to work “top of scope”.

Professor Stone says that while the scope of practice is traditionally defined by professional standards, codes of ethics and codes of professional conduct, and includes skills that an individual practitioner is “educated, authorised, competent and confident to perform” it has often implied extending practice beyond the traditional limits of a particular role.

According to Professor Stone, there seems to be an assumption that this is a good thing for health care workers, will be cheaper for the health service, and any opposition to it is merely a “turf war” argument designed to protect existing siloes. Professor Stone however doesn’t think any of us have the right to extend our scope of practice without accepting the responsibility of submitting to appropriate oversight to keep the public safe.

To view the InSight+ article “Top of scope”: no rights without responsibilities in full click here.

Associate Professor Louise Stone. Image source: InSight+.

Australia’s Biggest Quiz to end hep C 

Australia’s Biggest Quiz is coming up TOMORROW Wednesday 26 October 2022.

Hepatitis Australia is asking everyone to register and participate in Australia’s Biggest Quiz which is the national community activation of the Ending Hepatitis C Campaign. Register here and join this history-making world record breaking trivia event to have some fun while raising awareness about hepatitis C and its cure!

In the five years since hepatitis C cures became available to everyone, the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living with hepatitis C has declined by 17%. But more work is needed to close the gap! Australia’s Biggest Quiz aims to raise awareness that hepatitis C has a simple cure. You can get tested at your local Aboriginal Medical Service or GP. Australia’s Biggest Quiz will take place at 16 venues in all states and territories, alongside a national virtual audience, to try break a Guinness World Record, while raising awareness of hepatitis C, and its cure.

You can help promote Australia’s Biggest Quiz using the Stakeholder General Communications Kit, available here. The kit contains: tiles for social media, guidance on how to use the digital communications material, Australia’s Biggest Quiz logo, posters, social media tiles and zoom backgrounds!

This campaign is brought to you by Hepatitis Australia who is working in partnership with 80+ community groups, supported by the Australian Department of Health and Aged Care.

Sector Jobs

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: NACCHO CEO reflects on successful conference

The image in the feature tile is of Jadlyn David De Bush and Daniel Rosedal presenting feedback from the 76 delegates at the NACCHO Youth Conference 2022 to the 500 delegates at the NACCHO Members’ Conference 2022. Image source: NACCHO Australia Twitter post, 20 October 2022.

NACCHO CEO reflects on successful conference

In closing the NACCHO Members’ Conference 2022, NACCHO CEO Pat Turner AM said it had been a wonderful event, with it being “great to be able connect to people face-to-face rather than the virtual connections we’ve had over the last 3 years with COVID-19 preventing us from being able to get together like this.”

Ms Turner said the NACCHO Members’ Conference is not only an opportunity to strengthen our network and get to know each other better but to hear about the amazing work that is being done right around the country, saying it was a testimony to the strength of the sector to come together, noting it was a long way for many and expensive.

Ms Turner said she hoped attendees at the conference had been inspired to pick up on good ideas and best practice shared at the conference and that they would be used to continue to strengthen the delivery of health services to our people. Ms Turner said we have got to be able to get the governments to understand the importance of the environments our people live in and what a negative effect overcrowded housing and unhealthy environments have on our people’s health, “as part of the comprehensive primary health care model its our job at every level to advocate for our communities in those areas as well.”

Housing shortage potentially “life-threatening”

Preston Mapuyu is on a public housing waitlist that on average takes more than half a decade to see any movement – but due to a chronic lung condition, he may not have that long to wait. Nurses in remote north-east Arnhem Land say a housing shortage has become potentially “life-threatening for patients” such as Mr Mapuyu, and is simultaneously burdening the health system.

Mr Mapuyu’s inability to access public housing has meant he’s been forced to rely on the kindness of relatives for accommodation, often overcrowded and unsuitable for someone with his condition. He and his wife, Serena Munyarryun, were living on a remote homeland 100km from the nearest hospital, where access via dirt road is seasonal and emergency planes can only land during the day. “If we call emergency for ambulance to get here, sometimes it takes them three to four hours to get here,” Ms Munyarryun said.

The pair has applied to access public housing in the nearest township of Nhulunbuy but, given a Territory-wide public housing shortage, they’re up against it. NT government data shows there is an average wait of six to eight years for applicants in Nhulunbuy. That stretches up to a decade for those seeking housing in hubs like Alice Springs. Across the NT there are nearly 6,000 applications for housing, but only 162 homes listed as vacant.

To view the ABC News article NT government’s years-long public housing waitlist putting a strain on remote health system in full click here.

Serena Munyarryun and Preston Mapuyu could be forced to wait years for public housing. Photo: Michael Franchi, ABC News.

RHD landmark study makes inroads

An entirely preventable “killer” disease plaguing remote communities in the NT will never end unless Aboriginal workers become the backbone of prevention, an Indigenous health organisation warns. Sunrise Health chairperson Anne-Marie Lee is the co-author of a four-year, landmark study – published in the International Journal of Environmental Research Public Health – which was conducted in three Aboriginal communities where it is not uncommon to see children under 10 bearing the vertical, long scars of open-heart surgery.

“Nothing can work in Indigenous communities unless you employ local people,” Ms Lee said. “Rheumatic heart disease (RHD) is a killer. It’s a killer, and it’s killing a lot of my young ones.” RHD is mostly eradicated in first world countries and is only found in the most disadvantaged areas of developing countries. But in Australia, rates in remote Aboriginal communities beset by social disadvantage are among the highest in the world.

Studies to date have largely focused on secondary and tertiary prevention once somebody’s already been diagnosed, instead of the root causes, such as addressing severe overcrowding in houses and a lack of effective education. Ms Lee said in her community of Barunga, about an hour’s drive from Katherine, there was not enough suitable information about the disease for families. She lamented the notion that short-term fly-in-fly-out health workers could make meaningful inroads. “We need more of me … because they trust us,” Ms Lee said.

To view the ABC News article Rheumatic heart disease still killing Australian children but a landmark study makes inroads in full click here.

Anne-Marie Lee [L] says rates of RHD fell in her community during the study. Photo: Menzies School of Health. Image source: ABC News.

Improving health for people with intellectual disability

The Australian Government is investing more than $5 million in four research projects to improve the long-term health outcomes of people with intellectual disability. Funded by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC), the research will develop the evidence base for future policies, interventions and other initiatives to improve the quality of life of people with an intellectual disability. A key factor in each of the projects is the involvement of people with intellectual disability, their families and carers in the design of the research and implementation.

Professor Sandra Eades from the University of Melbourne has received $792,020 to undertake a research project: Equitable access to health and disability services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children with intellectual disability.

This project will improve the health and wellbeing of Indigenous children with intellectual disability by recommending effective models of care to ensure appropriate, timely diagnoses and access to high-quality health and disability services. National Disability Insurance Scheme data and interviews with families, adolescents with intellectual disability, and healthcare and disability services will be analysed to identify barriers and facilitators to meeting the healthcare needs of Indigenous children with intellectual disability.

To view Minister Butler’s media release Improving long-term health outcomes for people with intellectual disability in full click here.

Image source: Supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families of children with disabilities webpage of Community Early Learning Australia website.

Urapunga Store’s sugar cut success

Remote residents of Urapunga in the NT have reduced consumption of sugary drinks by 43% in the past year, due to a range of sugar-reduction measures implemented at their local grocery store. Urapunga Store, operated by the Urapunga Aboriginal Corporation and serviced by Outback Stores, has restricted the size of soft drinks sold, and implemented “Sugar-Free Wednesdays” – a day in which no full-sugar soft drinks are available for purchase.

“We knew the community was drinking too much sugar, so we came up with a plan to start changing that,” said Antonella Pascoe, board member of Urapunga Aboriginal Corporation. “As directors of the store, we felt like we could make a positive change.”

In the first six months, the proportion of sugary drinks sold has fallen by 4.7% which equates to 1,921 litres, or twelve bathtubs less of full-sugar soft drink consumed in the community. “We know that the community is now drinking less sugar,” says Ms Pascoe. “One of the best things is the way it has made the community think about what they are drinking, even on days when they can buy sugary drinks.

To view the Retail World article Urapunga Store’s sugar cut success in full click here.

Photo: Isabella Higgins, ABC News.

Sax Institute, a community-led research pioneer

The Sax Institute are pioneers of the community-led research model and have been building strong relationships with Aboriginal health organisations since 2003. These partnerships have been critical to enabling the design and conduct of health research that is most likely to meet the needs of Aboriginal communities and policy makers. The Sax Institute says these partnerships are an essential part of how they work and central to their success.

In 2003, Sax Institute formed a partnership with the Aboriginal Health and Medical Research Council (AH&MRC) to set up the Coalition for Research to Improve Aboriginal Health (CRIAH) as a vehicle for bringing together Aboriginal communities and leading research expertise to support better health outcomes.

Over the past 15 years, the Sax Institute has worked with a number of ACCHOs across NSW to improve the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal people. Through these partnerships, ACCHOs nominate their research priorities, control how the research is conducted and take the lead in determining what works for them and their communities.

Four ACCHOs – Tharawal Aboriginal Corporation, Riverina Medical and Dental Aboriginal Corporation, Awabakal and Greater Western Aboriginal Health Service – have been cornerstone partners with the Institute in developing the Study of Environment on Aboriginal Resilience and Child Health (SEARCH), Australia’s largest long-term study of the health and wellbeing of urban Aboriginal children.

You can find more information on the Partnerships – How we work webpage of the Sax Institute website here.

Image source: Sax Institute website.

Sector Jobs

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

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

Children’s Week 2022

Saturday marked the beginning of Children’s Week 2022 (22-30 October). Children’s Week is an annual event celebrated in Australia held around the fourth Wednesday in October. A diverse range of events and activities at national, state and local levels focus the attention of the wider community on children, their rights and achievements. Children’s Week celebrates the right of children to enjoy childhood.

Children’s Week promotes the Rights of the Child as proclaimed by the United Nations in 1954. It also exists to remind us of our responsibility to advocate for children as citizens and their right to a positive childhood.

The 2022 Children’s Week theme All Children have the right to a standard of living that supports their wellbeing and healthy development aligns with Article 27 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

For more information about Children’s Week click here.

Logo: ClipartMax. Photo: The North West Star. Image source: The Pulse.

NACCHO Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health News: Day 1 NACCHO Members’ Conference 2022

The Core Services and Outcomes Framework artwork in the feature tile was created by Kamilaroi artist, Ethan French. The diagram is a visual representation of the Core Services and Outcomes Framework foundations for community-controlled primary health care. At the centre of the diagram is a meeting place which represents members of the community being the heart of this document. Each ring and section of the diagram represents each component of the Core Services and Outcomes Framework, with culture surrounding the whole diagram and foundations, which is a representation showing that culture is involved in all aspects of the Core Services and Outcomes Framework.

Day 1 NACCHO Members’ Conference 2022

On Day 1 of the NACCHO Members’ Conference 2002 NACCHO’s Deputy CEO, Dr Dawn Casey launched a new resource for the sector, the Core Services and Outcomes Framework. Dr Casey explained that in 2019, the NACCHO Board decided it was time for the sector as a whole to communicate their ways of working by producing a Core Services Framework. This proved to be a challenge when attempted by the Department of Health and Aged Care within the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan that commenced in 2013.

When the NACCHO Board instructed NACCHO to address the vacuum NACCHO enlisted expertise from within the sector and obtained extensive feedback from key allies and partner organisations. In its final endorsed form, the Framework shows how the sector integrates community priorities and health care needs in a unique model, combining population health and clinical approaches. The Framework shows how culture wraps around the way community-controlled primary care is directed and the service delivery models used on the ground.

The Core Services and Outcomes Framework is already being used to calculate how to fund the sector to respond to the population it serves, its burden of disease, disadvantage and location.

The Core Services and Outcomes Framework can be accessed via the following:

 

Artwork: Core Services and Outcomes Framework Model

The Core Services and Outcomes Framework artwork was created by Kamilaroi artist, Ethan French.

The diagram is a visual representation of the Core Services and Outcomes Framework foundations for community-controlled primary health care. At the centre of the diagram is a meeting place which represents members of the community being the heart of this document. Each ring and section of the diagram represents each component of the Core Services and Outcomes Framework, with culture surrounding the whole diagram and foundations, which is a representation showing that culture is involved in all aspects of the Core Services and Outcomes Framework.

A new Board with big agenda ahead

Hon Mark Butler, Minister for Health – representing the Prime Minister – opened the NACCHO Members’ Conference yesterday in Canberra.

Over 500 delegates from Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations (ACCHOs) are coming together over three days in Canberra. It is the first major gathering for the sector since the pandemic.

They re-elected Donnella Mills as Chairperson of NACCHO. Ms Mills, a Torres Strait Islander woman, is also the Chair of Wuchopperen Health Service in Cairns and works as a Senior Associate at King & Wood Mallesons, an international law firm. She said, ‘I was honoured to be elected for a second term by our deadly ACCHOs across the country for another term.’ She, along with her Broome-based Deputy, Chris Bin Kali, will lead a Board of 16 directors in addressing a big agenda in front of them.

‘We have a challenging agenda ahead. I took the opportunity to say to Minister Butler that, while we understand that the new Government has a thankless task ahead of itself in repairing the Budget and guiding the country through a period of fiscal restraint, we still need to ensure that the health funding gap for First Nations communities does not widen. Our health funding cannot slip further behind.’

‘So, our challenge – when the Budget well is dry – is threefold. First, we must maximise what funding we do have to best effect. Second, we must get a fairer share of existing mainstream funding. Third, we need to implement structural reform in line with the priority reforms of the new National Agreement on Closing the Gap’.

NACCHO commissioned Equity Economics earlier this year to estimate the health funding gap. They found in their report that the gap is a staggering $4.4b per year. That is, over $5,000 per year for every Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander person in Australia. Ms Mills said, ‘We have the data. The gap is real. Yet dangerous myths prevail that Aboriginal programs are over-funded.’

The next two days will be spent at the NACCHO conference by delegates from most of the major Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities in Australia. They will hear presentations from experts in the Pilbara, the west coast of SA, and Ballina NSW (on the impact of the floods). There will also be presentations from the Kimberley, the Northern Territory and Yarrabah on efforts against acute rheumatic fever as well as by experts and leaders ranging from Pat Anderson, Fran Baum, Mary Belfrage, Alex Brown, Kelvin Kong, Tamara Mackean, Seth Westhead, and many more. The event is being MC-ed by Dan Bourchier.

To read NACCHO’s media release A new NACCHO board with a big agenda ahead in full click here.

Donnella Mills at the 2022 NACCHO Members’ Conference yesterday.

Health Minister opens NACCHO Member’s Conference 2022

Yesterday, Minister for Health and Aged Care, the Hon. Mark Butler officially opened the NACCHO Members’ Conference 2022. Minister Butler’s opening remarks included:

National Convention Centre Canberra, 18 October 2022

  • Good afternoon. Thank you Donnella and Pat for welcoming me here today.
  • I would like to acknowledge we meet today on the land of the Ngunnawal and Ngambri people and pay my respects to the elders, past, present and to our emerging leaders.
  • It is a pleasure to be here on behalf of the Prime Minister who was regrettably unable to attend this event.
  • Many of those emerging First Nations leaders have attended your youth conference here over the past day. I hope they found this opportunity to be beneficial and formed new connections.
  • It is great to see our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth participating in these forums and interacting with each other and sharing their unique cultural learnings and understandings; bringing forward their culture and their identity to be part of a better and informed future.

Picture: Gary Ramage NACCHO Chair Donnella Mills with Minister for Health and Aged Care, the Hon. Mark Butler at the NACCHO Members’ Conference 2022.

Health Ministers’ Meeting

  • Just over a week ago, it was great to be able to reconvene what we call the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander roundtable for health – bringing together all the Health Ministers from States and Territories and the Commonwealth along with representatives from across the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled and health sector leadership.
  • The Roundtable has been unable to meet recently, and it was a priority for this government to convene it as quickly as possible following our election.
  • The Roundtable was important for highlighting the challenges in workforce, in service delivery, in embedding culturally safe practices across the health system.
  • All health ministers have prioritised this work, including the Commonwealth through myself and Assistant Minister Malarndirri McCarthy.

Puggy Hunter

  • One way that the Commonwealth Government can lead in this work is to take real steps to implement the letter and the spirit of the Coalition of Peaks Priority Reforms.
  • Priority Reform 2 emphasises the role of the community-controlled health sector, and the role of governments in building and strengthening the sector.
  • This is a critical area for this government to build and grow. The work of ACCHOs around the country isn’t just a model for First Nations health, it’s a model for the whole health sector.
  • It’s why I have directed the Commonwealth Department of Health and Aged Care to audit all programs delivering services to First Nations communities that are not currently being delivered by First Nations organisations.
  • It’s why I announced last week that the Puggy Hunter Scholarship Scheme – our leading program encouraging entry-level Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health students to complete their studies and join the health workforce – needed to be handed over to First Nations control.
  • For me, there couldn’t be a more important first step in this process. Dr Arnold ‘Puggy’ Hunter was of course an incredible health leader and Chair of NACCHO.
  • Our ambition is to transition more programs to First Nations control over the course of this government.

You can download Minister Butler’s speech in full here.

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: NACCHO’s Youth Conference – it’s started!

NACCHO’s Youth Conference – it’s started!

The National Youth Conference, being held today, Monday 17 October 2022 at the National Convention Centre, Canberra, has brought together almost 100 youth from around Australia to gain experience and exposure to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander sector on a national level. During the conference the youth will engage in discussion, share their experience and learn from other peers from across the country. The conference will allow the youth to learn about informing policy, influencing change and provide a pathway so their voices are heard and represented by NACCHO throughout the sector.

For further information about the NACCHO Youth Conference click here. Below is a short video of about the 2019 NACCHO Youth Conference.

Health Literacy Strategy Framework

The National Health Literacy Strategy Framework Paper is now open for public consultation, with feedback being sought on the framework’s content and design.

The document is now live on the Australian Governments Department of Health and Aged Care Consultation Hub here and will be available online for comment for a four-week period and will close at 11:59 pm on Wednesday 9 November 2022.

You can access the strategy and online survey below:

Consultation Paper – Development of the National Health Literacy Strategy

National Health Literacy Strategy Framework Consultation Survey Questions

National Health Literacy Strategy Consultation Online Survey, available here.

Image source: Australian Commission of Safety and Quality in Health Care.

First care standard on stillbirth

You are invited to join the online launch of the first national Stillbirth Clinical Care Standard, developed by the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care. The event will be streamed live from the Annual National Stillbirth Forum being held from 3–4 November 2022.

Stillbirth is a tragic and profound experience that affects more than 2,000 families in Australia every year. Despite being the most common form of perinatal death in Australia, the experience of stillbirth can be hidden due to stigma, taboo and a culture of silence.

At the launch of the Stillbirth Clinical Care Standard from12:30 PM – 1:30 PM AEDT Friday 4 November 2022 you can hear leading experts discuss best practice in preventing stillbirth, investigations after stillbirth and the importance of bereavement care after perinatal loss. This event is relevant to all healthcare professionals involved in providing care during pregnancy, and after stillbirth or other forms of perinatal loss.

Click here to register.

Supporting child health in remote Australia

An article Needs and strengths: supporting child health in remote Australia published in the InSight+ newsletter today begins with words from Ms June Oscar AO, a senior Bunuba woman from the Fitzroy Valley and Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner:

The failure to close the gaps in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health inequality, and other measures of social and economic disadvantage, cannot be justified by more rhetoric or data in another report. For us, the harrowing failure to close the gap is felt through sorry business, the countless funerals of family and friends, the hospital visits and the coronial inquiries that we continue to painfully endure. So many of our losses were and are preventable – that is the failure and pain we carry. A sensible way of doing business is long overdue as, apart from small gains, the attempts to close the gaps in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander life expectancy, health and education have failed.

The article outlines the poor health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, the reasons for such poor health and efforts to date to support child and family health. The authors review strategies to improve health care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and what is needed to successfully implement those strategies.

To view the article in full click here.

Photo: Getty Images. Image source: BBC.

Overcrowding reduced by only 3.2%

The NT government has spent $2.65bn over the past 15 years to improve the quality of housing in remote Indigenous communities, but overcrowding remains a problem and many houses need repairs. Under the national partnership for remote housing NT policy, the government was supposed to improve housing conditions and reduce overcrowding in 73 remote communities and 17 town camps around Alice Springs. But the most recent data on overcrowding in remote communities managed by the national partnership reveals it has only been reduced by 3.2% in five years.

None of this is new to Miriam Charlie. Since 2015, the Yanyuwa Garrwa artist has been capturing the state of housing across all four town camps at Borroloola, with her Polaroid camera. “All them houses, they’re too small, overcrowded,” she says. “So I went around and took photos of everybody’s houses. What part wasn’t fixed and what part was fixed.”

NACCHO CEO, Pat Turner, said in an interview with The Australian in March this year, the standard of housing in remote communities underpinned several targets in Closing the Gap and outlined that if the targets are not achieved, it would be because governments had not “invested the necessary resources in programs and services to support our people”.

To view The Guardian article ‘Waiting for too long’: Why Miriam Charlie photographs overcrowded Indigenous housing in full click here.

Miriam Charlie photographing her eldest daughter, Jade, and other family at Yanyuwa camp. Image source: The Guardian.

Videos to tackle men’s mental health

In the Central Australian desert, there’s a growing and often silent, crisis of male suicide in Aboriginal town camps. But a group of men is speaking out for change. You can watch a short video about the Tangentyere Men’s Family Safety Group, a group town camp leaders, who are focused on improving safety and wellbeing in their community. They have written, performed and directed a series of videos in English and in language hoping to shatter stigma around mental health and suicide. For these men it has been a deeply personal project.

You can view the short video in full here.

Free tool to measure LGBTQ inclusive care

Pride in Health + Wellbeing runs a national annual index (Health + Wellbeing Equality Index) that is FREE and open to every organisation to measure their LGBTQ inclusive across their service delivery and internal workforce.

This benchmarking index has been designed based on international best practice standards for LGBTQ inclusive care and can assist service providers to baseline their current LGBTQ inclusion work, benchmark across the sector and identify gaps and areas for improvement as well as year-on-year growth. Individualised reports are sent to participating services and participation can be anonymous, and you don’t have to be a member to take part.

The HWEI also has optional staff and service user surveys. These allow services to not only measure what they are doing organisationally but see how well supported staff feel within their workplace, as well as their understanding, tools and comfort levels in providing LGBTQ inclusive care. The service user survey can then also be used to match your inclusion work to experience, to see if the inclusion initiatives are improving the quality of care being received.

For more details visit the Pride in Health + Wellbeing website here. You can register your interest to take part in the HWEI 2023 here.

Image source: Edith Cowan University website.

Sector Jobs

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Impact of alcohol-free pregnancy campaign

The image in the feature tile is from the Menzies School of Health Research webpage PANDORA – pregnancy and neonatal diabetes outcomes in remote Australia.

Impact of alcohol-free pregnancy campaign

To mark International FASD Awareness Day, the Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education (FARE) has released data that demonstrates the impact of the Every Moment Matters campaign – Australia’s first, nation-wide public awareness campaign supporting alcohol-free pregnancies and safe breastfeeding practices.

Developed by FARE and endorsed and funded by the Australian Government, Every Moment Matters aims to increase Australians’ awareness of the risks of alcohol use during pregnancy, and increase the number of Australian women who intend not to drink alcohol during pregnancy.

With the tagline ‘The moment you start trying is the moment to stop drinking’, the campaign features nationally on television, radio, digital and out-of-home channels and runs until July 2024. The results of the ongoing evaluation led by the University of Adelaide demonstrates that Every Moment Matters is overcoming the mixed messages people often receive about alcohol and pregnancy.

As part of the broader program of work, NACCHO has designed a culturally appropriate awareness raising campaign with regional and remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. NACCHO CEO Pat Turner said, “FASD is a whole of community issue. We look forward to launching the Strong Born campaign with ACCHOs across rural and remote Australia next month. The campaign will support mums, their families, their communities, their health practitioners and health services, to bring everyone together to help prevent and better understand the issues that contribute to FASD.”

You can find the joint FARE, NOFASD Australia and NACCHO media release Celebrating 9 months of impact on 9 September: International FASD Awareness Day on the NACCHO website here.

Referendum Working Group announced

Minister for Indigenous Australians Linda Burney has announced members of the Referendum Working Group which will establish the path to a Voice to Parliament. Speaking at the Centre for Economic Development of Australia (CEDA) State of the Nation conference at the National Museum of Australia, Ms Burney outlined a “working group of First Nations leaders” with Senator Pat Dodson and herself as co-chairs.

The Referendum Working Group will collaborate with the government to consider and navigate “the big questions” in the next following months. The minister said getting the groups working is the first step, with building a “broad consensus of community support” and “harnessing the goodwill in the Australian community to take Australia forward” being the following.

“[There are] many more steps to be taken on the road to the referendum and let’s be clear government cannot lead this referendum,” she said. “This will come from the grassroots, from communities, because the Voice is a nation-building project.” Included among the  group of 22 are:

  • Co-chairs of Uluru Dialogue Professor Megan Davis and Pat Anderson AO
  • Co-chairs of the Indigenous Voice co-design group Professor Marcia Langton AO and Professor Tom Calma AO
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner June Oscar AO, NACCHO CEO Pat Turner AM and former Minister for Indigenous Australians Ken Wyatt.

To view the SBS article Linda Burney outlines next referendum steps including working group with Ken Wyatt in full click here.

Image source: National Indigenous Times website.

Dedicated to fighting for mental health

Australians of all ages and backgrounds are increasingly at risk of mental health issues like depression and anxiety. Paul Bird and Alex Speedy of the National Wellbeing Alliance, a First Nations-owned and -operated training provider dedicated to fighting for mental health, are right on the forefront of advocating for “acceptance” of the devastating, hidden conditions plaguing many in the region.

The two spoke to students from Murgon, Proston and Goomeri schools at last month’s careers expo at the Murgon Cherbourg Youth Hub, extending helping hands to those wishing to speak out and start the journey of recovery. “Mental health issues are bad – they’re definitely on the increase,” Mr Bird said. “People are getting younger with depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, self-harm – and it’s not just for Indigenous people, it’s through all societies and countries!”

The pair are based out of the Murgon area but hold workshops for ‘mental first-aid’ wherever they are needed most -equipping people to have those all important conversations and to be able to respond in a mental health emergency. “Alex is a community member, born and bred here, and my father was born here, but I was born in NSW,” Mr Bird explained. “Through a turn of events I’ve come back to my father’s country to facilitate and engage with community through workshops and mental health first-aid.”

To read The Burnett Today article Locals join in tackling mental health crisis click here.

National Wellbeing Alliance workers Paul Bird and Alex Speedy are passionate about helping others improve their mental wellbeing. Photo: Julian Lehnert. Image source: Burnett Today.

Number of WA ACCOs to increase

The WA Government has announced a new strategy to strengthen the delivery of services to Aboriginal children, families and communities by increasing opportunities for Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations (ACCO) to deliver culturally appropriate services. The ACCO strategy is directly aligned to Priority Reform Area Two of the 2020 National Agreement on Closing the Gap, “Building the community-controlled sector.”

The ten-year strategy was developed by representatives from 11 ACCOs across the State, Department of Communities and the Department of Finance. It aligns to several Priority Reform Areas and Socio-Economic targets identified within the National Agreement on Closing the Gap and aims to empower Aboriginal children, families and communities to choose their own futures from the foundations provided by ACCOs.

“Aboriginal people across WA have repeatedly told us that to truly change outcomes, Aboriginal communities must lead the way, and that is achieved through community-based and family-led solutions,” Community Services Minister Simone McGurk said. “ACCOs usually achieve better results, employ a majority of Aboriginal workforce and are the preferred providers by Aboriginal people over mainstream services,” she continued.

To view The Sector’s article WA Gov will boost the number of ACCOs to improve services for First Nations families in full click here.

Image source: The Sector.

Physiotherapist making a difference

As an elite hockey player, Candice Liddy knew her strength was positioning: putting herself in the right place to maximise the team’s opportunity of moving forward and getting a goal. “There were other players who could run all day, but I just knew I had to be in the right spot,” she says.

Candice lives in Darwin, where she was born and raised on Larrakia land. Her grandparents on her dad’s side were part of the Stolen Generations, taken from other parts of the NT as children to live at Garden Point Mission on Melville Island. Her father grew up in Darwin and nearby Howard Springs but was evacuated after cyclone Tracy in 1974 to Brisbane, where he met Candice’s mother, who was born in India, and moved to Australia with her family.

Sporting talent runs in the family and also led Candice to a career in physiotherapy. Playing for many years at State level for the NT, she noticed the team physiotherapists were good at working in the athletes’ best interests while keeping them game-ready, and they also got to travel with the teams. “I wanted those skills and that lifestyle, and I was going to work as hard as I could to get there.”

A later non-clinical role brought her experience in remote communities as a National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) planner, where she quickly realised that all the planning in the world would be useless if services weren’t available where they were needed. “And that’s when I thought, You know what, there’s a gap. A gap I’m trained to fill.”

To view the Indigenous Allied Health Australia (IAHA) article 2022 World Physiotherapy Day in full click here.

Candice Lidday. Image source: IAHA website.

Prostate cancer, know the symptoms

The Cancer Council of WA (CCWA) is urging men to visit their doctor and learn the common symptoms of prostate cancer this month. CCWA Great Southern regional education officer Bruce Beamish said prostate cancer awareness month was the perfect chance for men to learn more about how their bodies might be telling them something is wrong. He said unlike for breast, bowel and cervical cancer which have screening tests to confirm the presence of cancer prior to symptoms presenting, there is no such test for prostate cancer. Therefore, it is “vital” to visit a doctor, Aboriginal health care worker or clinic nurse when unusual symptoms present.

“Common symptoms of prostate cancer include waking a lot at night to pee, a sudden or urgent need to pee, problems starting or stopping peeing, needing to pee more often, a slow or weak flow when peeing, or dribbling at the end of peeing,” he said. “These symptoms can be found in other conditions but if you have had any of these for more than four weeks, or you’ve noticed blood in your pee or semen even just once, tell your doctor, clinic nurse or Aboriginal health worker as soon as possible. “It doesn’t mean you’ve got prostate cancer — often it turns out to be something far less serious and your doctor may be able to help reduce the annoying symptoms.”

To view the Broome Advertiser article Men urged to learn the symptoms during Prostate Cancer Awareness Month in full click here.

Image source: Vitalii Abakumou, Getty Images, iStockphotos.

Emergency relief centre for Gippsland mob

A groundbreaking emergency relief centre to support members of East Gippsland’s Aboriginal communities in times of crisis is getting underway thanks to a $2.4 million investment by the Andrews Labor Government. Minister for Emergency Services Jaclyn Symes joined Member for Eastern Victoria Tom McIntosh and representatives of the Lake Tyers Aboriginal community to announce the funding and hear about their vision for the new centre.

The Lake Tyers Emergency Relief Centre project will bring together Gunaikurnai Land and Waters Aboriginal Corporation (GLaWAC), Lake Tyers Aboriginal Trust and Lake Tyers community to co-design a supportive, safe and secure space for Aboriginal communities within Lake Tyers during and after a bushfire disaster. The centre will also bring community together for activities and meetings outside of emergencies.

The need for the dedicated relief centre was identified following the devastating 2019-20 Eastern Victorian bushfires, during which over 1,000 known registered Aboriginal heritage places were damaged and hundreds of Aboriginal Victorians were affected.

To read The National Tribune article First Relief Centre For Aboriginal Community In Gippsland in full click here.

Terylene Hood says residents need a place where they can be comfortable during an emergency. Photo: Bec Symons, ABC Gippsland.

Sector Jobs

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Ask your mob, in your way, R U OK?

The image in the feature tile is of Steven Oliver, An R U OK? Ambassador, Aboriginal poet, comedian and performer whose life has been affected by suicide. Image source: R U OK? Day Facebook page, 29 June 2016.

Ask your mob, in your way, R U OK?

If someone you know – a family member, someone from your community, a friend, neighbour, team mate or workmate –  is doing it tough, they won’t always tell you. Sometimes it’s up to us to trust our gut instinct and ask someone who may be struggling with life “are you OK?”, in our own way. By taking the time to ask and listen, we can help those we care about feel more supported and connected, which can help stop little things becoming bigger things.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples share a special connection to this country and to each other, through our cultures, communities and shared experiences. Regardless of where we live, or who our mob is, we all go through tough times, times when we don’t feel great about our lives or ourselves. That’s why it’s important to always be looking out for each other. Because we’re Stronger Together.

Earlier this year 13YARN (13 92 76), a Lifeline supported service was launched. It is the first national crisis phone support line for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Designed, led and delivered by mob, 13YARN provides a confidential 24/7 one-on-one yarning opportunity with a Lifeline-trained Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Crisis Supporter.

You could also connect with a trusted health professional, like your doctor or your local Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander Medical Service.

For more information about R U OK? Day and to access resources specifically for Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander communities click here.

Working Group on Voice to Parliament

The government is primed to announce a working group on the referendum to enshrine an Indigenous Voice to Parliament. The group will be tasked with answering some of the big questions on the process in the lead-up to the referendum. The referendum’s timing, question and information on the Voice to Parliament will all fall under the remit of the group, made up of more than 20 Indigenous leaders from across the country.

Notable names include Pat Anderson, Marcia Langton, Tom Calma, Pat Turner, Ken Wyatt and June Oscar. It will be co-chaired by Indigenous Australians Minister Linda Burney and Special Envoy for Reconciliation and Implementation of the Uluru Statement Patrick Dodson. Ms Burney will officially announce the working group as part of her address today at the Committee for Economic Development of Australia’s State of the Nation forum. “These are the next steps, the plan on the road to the referendum,” Ms Burney said. “There is much to work to do, many more steps to be taken on the road to the referendum. Let’s be clear, government cannot lead this referendum. This will come from the grassroots.”

To view the ABC News story Working group to answer big questions leading up to Indigenous Voice to Parliament referendum in full click here.

The government’s Voice working group will help shape the looming referendum. Photo: Tim Leslie, ABC News.

JobKeeper rate a health hazard

Touted as a “much-needed boost” by the Minister for Social Services, Amanda Rishworth, the JobSeeker payment is set to rise $1.80 per day on 20 September. The daily rate will go from $46 to $47.80 – $17,378 per year – still well below the Melbourne Institute’s poverty line of approximately $28,000 per year. “It does not deliver a real increase – an increase above inflation – and that is what people on JobSeeker and other payments need to keep a roof over their head and put food on the table,” Australian Council of Social Service CEO Edwina MacDonald said in a statement.

Karl Briscoe, the CEO of the National Association for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workers and Health Practitioners (NAATSIHWP), said the low JobSeeker rates affect food security and housing among Indigenous communities. “Access to adequate nutrition, fresh fruit and veg, is probably one of the biggest issues that people are faced with,” he said.  ” When people cannot access vitamins and minerals due to poverty, they can be more susceptible to a range of diseases, including skin infections and diabetes, according to Briscoe.”

Overcrowding is another major issue, he said. In Aboriginal communities, it can contribute to the spread of scabies, a skin infection which is linked to chronic kidney disease. Too many people living in the same house can also increase the spread of Strep A infections, which can cause rheumatic fever and RHD, an autoimmune condition where the heart valve tissue becomes swollen and scarred.

While increasing the JobSeeker rate is a clear necessity, what is really needed to improve conditions in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities is capital investment, such as infrastructure projects that bring jobs, according to Briscoe. “Poverty is an outcome of colonisation for many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. We don’t have a long line of inheritance that’s been passed down generation to generation,” Briscoe said.

To view the Croakey Health Media article Stories from the frontlines: why the low JobSeeker rate is a health hazard in full click here.

Verdict on government’s first 100 days

The Albanese government has now passed its first 100 days in office and major announcements are coming in thick and fast. Key ministers and central figures within the for-purpose sector have reflected on the federal government’s progress so far and what should be the next steps from here.

The federal government came to power promising a referendum on an Indigenous Voice to Parliament. Minister for Indigenous Australians, Linda Burney said the government had “hit the ground running. A constitutionally enshrined Voice to Parliament is about improving the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people across the country.  It’s about making sure First Nations people have a say on the issues and policies that affect them,” she said. “It’s about drawing a line on the poor outcomes from the long legacy of failed programs and broken policies and about recognising the glaring omission of First Peoples in Australia’s birth certificate.”

CEO of SNAICC Catherine Liddle said many of the government’s broad commitments, including more affordable childcare, would benefit First Nations people. However, she said such mainstream reforms “must take into account the particular needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and families. SNAICC has already met with senior government ministers and we look forward to strengthening those relationships and working with the new government to progress much needed policy reform to ensure Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children have their needs and voices heard,” she said.

“Federal Labor has committed to the implementation of the National Agreement with the Coalition of Peaks. There’s no doubt that we lost some ground in the run up to and during the federal election. But I think that implementation of the National Agreement is being brought back to where it needs to be” Liddle said. “SNAICC looks forward to working with the government on reforms to early education, family services, and out of home care, with access to childcare identified as being particularly important as a lack of access can create barriers that prevent First Nations people from engaging in work and study.”

To view the Pro Bono Australia article Sector delivers verdict on government’s first 100 days in full click here.

Image source: ABC News website.

System rigged against people with additions

Amid concerns that Australian health systems are failing people with addictions to alcohol, other drugs and gambling, experts will call next week for a national roadmap to ensure better and more equitable treatment pathways. A two-day national conference in Canberra will put the spotlight on a lack of national policy leadership in addressing the fragmented, inadequate services available for people living with addictions, which one expert says means it’s a “complete lottery” as to what care people and families might find. The Rethink Addiction Convention titled ‘It’s time to change the conversation’, will bring together people with lived and living experience, clinicians, services providers, law and justice practitioners and policymakers and seek to address the stigma that affects access to treatment and care.

Jasmin Wilson, a Wellbeing Officer from from Aboriginal Drug & Alcohol Council SA will be speaking at the inaugural Rethink Addiction Convention. She says “Addiction doesn’t discriminate, so why do we? To Close the Gap we need to address addiction in First Nations Communities.”

Ending that harmful stigmatisation is the work at the heart of the Rethink Addiction campaign, headed by psychiatrist Professor Dan Lubman, who is Executive Clinical Director of the Turning Point and Professor of Addiction Studies and Services at Monash University  and Director of the Monash Addiction Research Centre. He cites the damning statistics: around one in four Australians will develop an alcohol, drug or gambling disorder during their lifetime, and around one in 20 will develop addiction, the most severe form of the disorder. One Australian dies almost every hour from alcohol, other drug or gambling harm.

To view the Croakey Health Media article How the system is rigged against people with addictions in full click here.

Jasmin Wilson, a former ice addict will speak at the convention. Image source: The Advertiser.

Calls for youth justice system reforms

Amnesty International Australia issued a statement yesterday calling on all State and Territory governments to raise the age of criminal responsibility and close detention centres. “State and Territory governments have it in their power now to do more than make empty statements about the importance of child safety,” Amnesty International Australia Indigenous Rights Campaigner Maggie Munn, said. “Until they take the most obvious and proven step to truly care for some of the most vulnerable children in our country, then these words ring very hollow indeed.”

Calls for reform of the youth justice system have been echoed by many including, Change the Record, Victorian Aboriginal Legal Service (VALS) and the Public Health Association of Australia. The deep-rooted culture of abuse of children in youth detention was again in the spotlight last week during an Inquiry into Government Responses into Child Sexual Abuse in Institutional Settings in Tasmania. The Inquiry and others before have highlighted the abuse of children in detention centres as a “black mark against this country as a whole”, according to barrister Greg Barns, the National Criminal Justice Spokesman for the Australian Lawyers Alliance.

Barns said “If there was ever a time for major reform and a cultural shift on the part of legislators and society generally when it comes to dealing with children and young people who come into contact with the police, then now is it. Doing nothing is not an option.”

To view the Croakey Health Media article Calls for reform, not platitudes, on youth justice system in full click here.

Image source: Amnesty International Australia.

QAS drives cultural safety in the community

The Queensland Ambulance Service has appointed a team of leaders to build on the organisation’s cultural capability and advance health equity for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. The organisation’s recently established Cultural Safety Unit has appointed three new Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Cultural Safety Support Officers (CSSOs) and two new Senior Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Cultural Safety Advisors.

Health and Ambulance Services Minister Yvette D’Ath said it was vital for the Queensland Ambulance Service to embrace diversity in its ranks. “The QAS is really leading the way when it comes to Indigenous relations within the service and community,” she said. “We’ve seen first-hand, with initiatives like the QAS Indigenous Paramedic Program, what a difference it makes to health outcomes when First Nations people are on the front line in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities”.

QAS Deputy Commissioner Operations North, Rural and Remote Kari Arbouin said three officers have been appointed to the inaugural CSSO positions and will be operating within their own areas, including North Queensland, Central Queensland and South Queensland. “Our CSSOs will also be out and about playing their part in improving health equity and foster better engagement across all Queensland communities.” “As QAS continues to develop a more culturally responsive and inclusive workplace, our new team will be working to support our workforce to become more culturally aware and safe.”

To view the Queensland Minister for Health and Ambulance Services, the Hon. Yvette D’Ath’s media release QAS drives greater cultural safety in the community in full click here.

Image source: Australian Paramedical College website.

Sector Jobs

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Pat Turner attends Jobs and Skills Summit

The image in the feature tile is of NACCHO CEO and Lead Convener Coalition of Peaks, Pat Turner AM. Image source: The Conversation, 10 June 2020.

Pat Turner attends Jobs and Skills Summit

NACCHO CEO and Lead Convener Coalition of Peaks, Pat Turner AM is one of 143 representatives attending the Australian Government’s Jobs and Skills Summit 2022 today in Canberra. The two-day event, being led by PM Anthony Albanese and Treasurer Dr Jim Chalmers, will bring together business, unions, industry and state and territory political leaders for an intensive discussion about the economic challenges within Australia’s labour market.

Earlier last month Pat Turner gave the keynote address at the Congress of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Nurses and Midwives (CATSINaM) National Conference where she commented on workforce issues with the sector “Demand is outstripping supply of suitably skilled and job ready Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander employees. We are experiencing workforce shortages across the sector and this shortage is already impacting access to culturally appropriate services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people nationally.”

“Moreover, without an overall increase in the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people participating in the workforce, services will be competing for workers who are a limited resource across all health and care sectors. Increasing the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander nurses, midwives and other clinical staff is critical to help ensure culturally safe care for our people. To effectively support growing demand, we need to leverage the current ACCHO workforce and draw from local communities to build a multi-disciplinary care workforce that includes both cultural and clinical experts.”

You can read The Sydney Morning Herald article The snap guide to the jobs and skills summit here.

Jobs and Skills Summit 2022. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen. Image source: Financial Review.

Hearing loss mistaken for misbehaviour

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children experience ear disease – fluid build ups, perforated eardrums and ear infections that can impair hearing – more frequently than most populations in the world. Rates are 8.5 times as highas for non-Indigenous children in Australia. Early childhood development related to speech, language and learning, relies heavily on being able to hear. The consequences of poor hearing can greatly disadvantage a child in the classroom, in the criminal justice system and cause delays in other medical diagnoses.

Caregivers of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children have described how ear disease and hearing loss can easily be mistaken for misbehaviour.  Letitia Campbell, Aboriginal Research Officer, School of Medicine, Western Sydney University has found that a strong relationship of respect, collaboration and information-sharing between the caregiver and health professionals is a key component to successfully navigating ear disease.

To view The Conversation article More Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children have ear and hearing problems – and it’s easy to mistake for bad behaviour in full click here.

Audiologist Arveen Kaur tests the hearing of Jackson Wellington in Nowra. Photo: Rhett Wyman. Image source: The Sydney Morning Herald.

Politics can’t be separated from health

A new discussion paper, Indigenous Nation Building and the Political Determinants of Health and Wellbeing, available here, has been published this week by the Lowitja Institute in partnership with Jumbunna Institute for Indigenous Education and Research at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS). Led by Professor Daryle Rigney, a citizen of the Ngarrindjeri Nation, the paper demonstrates that self-governance and self-determination through nation building results in improved health outcomes for Indigenous peoples.

According to Adjunct Professor Janine Mohamed, CEO of the Lowitja Institute, and Senior Policy Officer Jessica Szwarcbord “Those working in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health sector have always known that politics cannot be separated from health. Our peoples have a holistic, collectivist worldview. We understand that individual and collective health and social and emotional wellbeing relates to cultural, social, and political determinants and that health and wellbeing sit within a complex constellation of factors that cannot be separated. There are inextricable links between our collective and individual health and wellbeing, our governance, self-determination and nation building as First Nations Peoples.”

To view the Croakey Health Media article Harnessing the power of nation building to strengthen Indigenous health and wellbeing in full click here.

Artwork by Tom Day, citizen of the Gunditjmara people, features on the cover of the new discussion paper, Indigenous National Building and the Political Determinants of Health and Wellbeing. Published with permission of Lowitja Institute in Croakey Health Media.

First new kidney treatment in 20 years

Lachlan Ross describes his more than a decade-long battle with kidney failure as “very long, and very hard.” The 54-year-old from the NT remote community of Lajamanu has been lucky enough to receive a kidney transplant, meaning he no longer has to receive thrice-weekly dialysis treatments. But, he said chronic kidney disease — which Indigenous residents of remote Central Australia are up to 30 times more likely to suffer from — has no quick fix. “You get [a] transplant doesn’t make you any better you know because you’ve still got the hard work of looking after yourself and the transplant and that’s what a lot of people don’t understand, they think a kidney is a cure, it’s not.”

Mr Ross now works as a mentor for others living with kidney disease at Darwin dialysis centre The Purple House, where Assistant Minister for Indigenous Health Malarndirri McCarthy announced yesterday that people with the disease would now have more affordable access to a drug which slows its progression. The drug dapagliflozin, also known as Forxiga, is already used to treat diabetes and heart failure, but will now also be available to people with kidney disease under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme. It would have previously cost renal patients more than $700 a year, with the expansion of the scheme meaning it will now cost $42.50 per script, or $6.80 for people with a concession card.

To view the ABC News article Kidney disease drug dapagliflozin added to Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme in full click here.

Lachlan Ross says remote Indigenous Territorians need to be educated about kidney disease. Photo: Dane Hirst, ABC News.

VACCHO supports Food Fight! Campaign

An Australia Institute poll released this week has found high levels of public support for bans on television advertising of unhealthy products and services, including junk foods, alcohol and gambling.  When Asherly Bradac asks her four young children how they would like to spend their pocket money, they respond with a resounding “slurpee”. When she asks where they want to go on a special outing, they say “McDonalds” or “Hungry Jacks”. These are likely familiar scenarios for many families inundated by advertising of unhealthy food and drinks.

Bradac is a keen supporter of the Food Fight! campaign, led by Cancer Council Victoria, to raise awareness of unhealthy food and drink advertising in places where children spend time.  The campaign is building community support for action to stop harmful advertising on government-owned assets such as public transport and within 500 metres of schools. According to Jane Martin, Executive Manager Obesity Program Cancer Council Victoria the campaign has garnered the support of more than 30 community, public health and other groups and over 10,000 individuals who have signed an online statement.

The Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (VACCHO) is one supports the Food Fight! Campaign, and through a bold project called FoodPATH (Food Policies for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health), has been working to empower Aboriginal communities across Victoria to determine the actions needed to promote good nutrition and healthier food environments in their local communities.

To view the Croakey Health Media article How this campaign is fighting to end unhealthy advertising to children in full click here.

New lease on life after Hep C cure

Debbie Robinson is enjoying a new lease on life after being cured of hepatitis C. Now the proud Worimi woman is urging other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to get tested even if they have no symptoms. Ms Robinson completed the 8-12 week treatment program at Gandangara Health Service in Liverpool. “I had a blood test, the doctor told me I had hepatitis C and I felt numb.

“Then the doctor told me I had 10 years to live. I went to Gandangara and they helped me to access treatment right away,’’ Ms Robinson said. “If it wasn’t for Gandangara, I wouldn’t be here. I wouldn’t have done anything about it because I felt healthy. “I felt supported every step of the way at Gandangara. “I’m cured and have a long life ahead of me. I’m proud of myself and my family is proud of me too.’’

To view the South West Voice article Health district bid to eliminate hepatitis C in full click here.

Debbie Robinson. Image source: South West Voice.

WA emerging as hub for eye health

WA is rapidly becoming known as‎ a global centre for research excellence in ocular‎ disease, thanks to a ‘trifecta’ collaboration ‎between Lions Eye Institute (LEI), Curtin University,‎ and University of WA (UWA). To encourage more young optometrists to provide primary care in rural WA, where unmet eye care is particularly prevalent, a team led by Professor Garry Fitzpatrick, has developed a placement program that will see third year students spend significant time working in clinics and on research programs from ‘hub and spoke’ health care models in Broome and Geraldton. Students will gain experience working alongside optometrists and ophthalmologists on outreach programs, with local Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations (ACCHOs) and in other community allied health settings.

Professor Fitzpatrick hopes the placement program will provide students with a “very real experience” that increases their awareness of rural and remote eye care needs. He explained that evidence shows students who are exposed and trained in rural settings are more likely to return to practise in these settings.

To read the mivision article Western Australia: An Emerging Hub for Eye Health in full click here.

Image source: SBS NITV website.

TGA committee applications CLOSE Sunday

Applications for the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA)’s statutory advisory committee vacancies will CLOSE at 11:30 PM this Sunday 4 September 2022.

They are seeking applications from professionals with expertise in relevant medical or scientific fields or consumer health issues to support our function as a best practice regulator. Committee members contribute significantly towards the TGA’s regulatory functions by providing independent expert advice relating to the regulation of medicines, devices, vaccines and other products and substances.  The statutory advisory committees are:

  • Advisory Committee on Biologicals
  • Advisory Committee on Medicines
  • Advisory Committee on Vaccines
  • Advisory Committee on Complementary Medicines
  • Advisory Committee on Medical Devices
  • Advisory Committee on Chemicals Scheduling
  • Advisory Committee on Medicines Scheduling

Committee members do not have full-time duties – some committees meet monthly, with others meeting up to three times a year.  Members are remunerated in accordance with the principles and rates set by the Remuneration Tribunal (Remuneration and Allowances for Holders of Part-time Public Office) Determination.

You can find further information regarding the statutory advisory committees on the Australian Government Department of Health and Aged Care website here along with the requirements for applying here and a flyer here. Further enquiries can be made by email here.

Sector Jobs

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: 500 new First Nations health care workers

The image in the feature tile is of Tyla West-Chong who works with Gidgee Healing in the north-west Queensland region. Photo: Kelly Butterworth. Image source: ABC North West Qld article Indigenous health workers deliver trusted medical care to outback communities, 13 April 2021.

500 new First Nations health care workers

The federal government has announced a plan to train 500 health workers across Australia. Speaking from the front steps of SA’s Parliament House ahead of the Joint Council on Closing the Gap meeting last Friday, Assistant Indigenous Health Minister Malarndirri McCarthy said the government would spend $52.9 million over five years to employ the Aboriginal trainees. “We need to lift the standard of living for First Nations people in this country,” she said. The trainees will get Certificate III or IV qualifications to allow them to work in health settings and deliver culturally appropriate care.

Federal Indigenous Australian Minister Linda Burney said the Closing the Gap targets were “absolutely fundamental” to changing the lives of Aboriginal people in Australia. She said the gap cannot be closed without adequate data and shared decision-making between governments and Aboriginal organisations. “It is patently obvious that Aboriginal organisations know their communities and know what the resolutions are to what seems like intractable problems,” she said.

NACCHO CEO and Lead Convener of the Coalition of Peaks, Pat Turner said government institutions — hospitals, police stations, youth detention centres — need to be reformed to be more “culturally safe and culturally respectful in their dealings with Aboriginal people”.

To view the ABC News article Government announces investment in training 500 Aboriginal healthcare workers as Closing the Gap council meets click here.

Federal and state Indigenous affairs ministers and Aboriginal leaders meet in Adelaide for a Closing the Gap meeting. Photo: Richard Davies. Image source: ABC News.

New PHC centre opens in Mapoon

Dignitaries from all over Queensland headed for the tiny Cape York community of Mapoon last week for the opening of Apunipima Cape York Health Council’s Thimithi Nhii Primary Health Care Centre. This is Apunipima’s fourth standalone Primary Health Care Centre built under the Federal Government’s Rural and Remote Health Infrastructure Project and the result is a win for the community of Mapoon and Cape York communities in general.

Mayor of Mapoon and Apunipima Chairperson, Aileen Addo thanked a long list of people before cutting the ribbon in front of the community and guests to officially open the new facility. “This is something very positive, it’s been a long time coming but it’s finally here. This community is growing and we have to build infrastructure to go with that growth,” Mrs Addo said.

According to Mrs Addo, the flow-on effects from the opening of the new centre will resonate for years to come. “This is about more than just health, this is another strategy we’ve put in place to close the gap. This is about getting everything in order and seeing better outcomes like more community-based jobs, better infrastructure and community development.”

To view the Apunipima Cape Yourth Health Council media release Thimithi Nhii Primary Health Care Centre opens in Mapoon in full click here.

Images from the opening of thThimithi Nhii Primary Health Care Centre in Mapoon. Images provided by Apunipima Cape York Health Council.

$1.6m for Healing Spirit Youth Hub

The Andrews Labor Government is ensuring Aboriginal organisations have the facilities they need to support their communities and deliver the best services to First People’s Victorians. Minister for Treaty and First Peoples Gabrielle Williams has announced 21 Aboriginal organisations will share in $11 million to build or upgrade community infrastructure as part of the sixth round of the Aboriginal Community Infrastructure Program.

This includes Wathaurong Aboriginal Cooperative in Geelong, which will receive $1.6 million to develop a Healing Spirit Youth Hub, creating a fit-for-purpose, culturally safe space for children and young people to access clinical and therapeutic, social and emotional wellbeing services and supports.

To view the media release Boosting Capacity of Aboriginal Community Services by the Hon Gabirelle Williams MP, Victorian Minister for Mental Health and Minister for Treaty and First Peoples click here.

Image source: City of Greater Geelong website.

Managing tenecteplase (Metalyse) shortage

The Australian Government Department of Health and Aged Care Therapeutic Good Administration (DoH TGA) have have published a statement, available here with clinical recommendations to assist healthcare professionals during this shortage.

A printable summary, How to manage tenecteplase (Metalyse) shortage, of the recommendations is available here for clinicians to print and display in relevant health settings.

Links to both of these statements can be found here on the DoH TGA main shortage of tenecteplase (Metalyses) webpage.

Image source: AJP e-mag.

Strep A POCT set to safe lives

Instant diagnosis and treatment of potentially life-threatening Strep A infections is now very close to reality across Australia’s remote and regional areas thanks to molecular point-of-care testing (POCT) that slashes result times from five days to just minutes. Published today in the Medical Journal of Australia, researchers from Telethon Kids Institute and their collaborators have shown that utilising POCT machines to fast-track diagnosis of group A streptococcal (Strep A) pharyngitis in kids has the potential to revolutionise prevention strategies for acute rheumatic fever (ARF) and rheumatic heart disease (RHD).

Strep A infections are often responsible for sore throats and painful skin infections, which can lead to irreversible and potentially deadly heart and kidney damage if left untreated. Affecting remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians at some of the highest rates in the world, the key challenge in the prevention of ARF and RHD has been timely diagnosis and treatment of Strep A to minimise the risk of serious complications and stop the spread of infection throughout communities.

To view the Telethon Kids Institute media release Point-of-care Strep A tests set to save lives in remote settings in full click here.

Image source: Telethon Kids Institute.

Call to restore child and family centre funding

The Albanese Federal Government has an opportunity to demonstrate its commitment to Closing the Gap for our children by reinstating funding in the October Budget for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander child and family centres. The Abbott Government cut funding in 2014 to 38 Aboriginal Child and Family Centres (ACFCs), undermining efforts to ensure Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children had the best start in life through accessing community-controlled early childhood education and services.

SNAICC CEO Catherine Liddle said the ACFCs represented a considerable investment from COAG and the sector was still feeling the impacts of the cuts. “While some State and Territory Governments took up parts of the funding challenge, many ACFCs struggled to keep operating as integrated community-controlled early years services.”

To view the SNAICC media release Restore funding to Close the Gap for our Children in full click here.

Bubup Wilam Aboriginal Child and Family Centre
Thomastown, Melbourne. Image source: Hayball website.

ADHA seeking applications

The Australian Digital Health Agency (the Agency) is seeking applications, through a Request for Tender process, for suitably qualified, experienced, and interested individuals to join our group of expert advisors who will support the Agency’s program of work.

Digital Health Expert Advisors are critical to this role and support the Agency by applying everyday health industry experience to the design, development and implementation of Agency products and services. This includes focusing on the clinical safety, quality and usability of all products and services developed by the Agency, and the systems within which the Agency operates.

  • Subject matter expertise: contributing clinical and/or digital health subject matter expertise into the Agency’s work program to ensure that our products, services and activities align with contemporary clinical practice and are high quality, clinically safe and usable;
  • Strategic advice: providing strategic advice within their area(s) of expertise, on approaches, processes, services and products, via participation in expert committees, advisory groups and other forums;
  • Advocacy and engagement: advocating and engaging with the broader clinical and consumer communities on the establishment and adoption of a national digital health infrastructure and representing the Agency in this regard; this may include conferences and media appearances;
  • Information and education: participating in the development and presentation of clinical messaging, education and adoption activities, and materials; and
  • Other activities: undertaking other activities as directed that aim to raise awareness and promote adoption and use of digital health products, services, and systems nationally.

The Request for Tender has now been released, via Austender, with applications closing Monday 19 September 2022.

To access the Australian Digital Health Agency website click here and to access the Digital Health Expert Advisor position details click here.

Sector Jobs

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: CATSINaM 25th Anniversary Conference highlights

The image in the feature tile is of the CATSINaM logo created by Lesley Salem, a descendent of the Gringai-Wonnarua Nation in NSW, a Nurse Practitioner and member of CATSINaM. Image source: CATSINaM website.

CATSINaM 25th Anniversary Conference highlights

Yesterday, as part of its 25th Anniversary National Conference the Congress of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Nurses and Midwives (CATSINaM):

• celebrated the opening of its In Our Own Right: Black Australian Nurses and Midwives Stories Exhibition. The exhibition pays tribute to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander nursing and midwifery trailblazers and role models, showcasing individual and collective stories of educational achievement and of facing and overcoming challenges, like racism, in order to effect change within health services for the benefit of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. You can view CATSINaM’s media release relating to exhibition here.

• launched the highly anticipated report: ‘gettin em n keepin em n growin em’: Strategies for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander nursing and midwifery education reform (GENKE II). A formative work in CATSINaM’s 25 Years of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander nursing and midwifery activism was the original 2002 ‘getting em n keepin em’: Report of the Indigenous Nursing and Education Working Group (GENKE I) that aimed to address the detrimentally low numbers of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander nurses and midwives in the health workforce. Honoring and reviewing this work, this year CATSINaM developed GENKE II 2022 presenting renewed strategies to address the persistent. CATSINaM’s media release, about the GENKE II report is available here.

Today, for the first time in Australian history, a national nursing and midwifery leadership group will deliver an apology to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, for the hurt and harm caused by non-Indigenous nurses and midwives. Professor Karen Strickland, Chair of the Council of Deans of Nursing and Midwifery (CDNM), will deliver an apology on behalf of the CDNM and its members, to over 300 delegates attending the 2022 CATSINaM National Conference. The majority of delegates will be Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander practising or retired, and student nurses and midwives. CATSINaM’s media release relating to the apology is available here.

Photos from the CATSINaM 2022 National Conference. CATSINaM Tweet Friday 19 August 2022.

NACCHO CEO delivers keynote address

Earlier this morning NACCHO CEO and Lead Convener of the Coalition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peaks organisations, Pat Turner AM delivered a keynote address at the CATSINaM National Conference. In her address Ms Turner said she received a letter last week from the PM confirming his government’s commitment to the National Agreement on Closing the Gap. Although Ms Turner believes “there is no single strategy, idea, or group that will deliver the equity and change [Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people] are entitled to, the National Agreement on Closing the Gap is fundamental to driving reform in how Australian governments interact with all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.”

The National Agreement on Closing the Gap, Ms Turner said “is the first intergovernmental agreement designed to improve the lives of our people that has been negotiated and agreed with representatives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people across Australia. The National Agreement commits this country to a new direction and is a pledge from all governments to fundamentally change the way they work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and organisations.”

You can read Pat Turner’s keynote address in full on the NACCHO website here.

Pat Turner, 2022 CATSINaM National Conference. Image source: Lowitja Institute Tweet.

Reducing cervical cancer impacts

Aboriginal organisations across NSW will benefit from six new Cervical Screening Community Grants which will provide culturally responsive and targeted health promotion initiatives within Aboriginal communities. The locally-led programs are aimed at boosting the number of Aboriginal women across the state who access cervical screening, reducing the impact of cervical cancer.

Minister for Women, Regional Health and Mental Health, Bronnie Taylor said the grants are part of $114,350 in funding awarded to Local Health Districts and non-profit organisations through the Cancer Institute NSW to promote the National Cervical Screening Program. “Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women are almost four-times more likely to die from cervical cancer than non-Aboriginal women and these grants work towards closing the gap,” Mrs Taylor said. “Cervical cancer is one of the most preventable cancers and we know having a Cervical Screening Test every five years is now the best way to prevent it. By funding these grants, we are working to provide opportunities to educate local communities on the ground about the importance of cervical screening.”

To view the NSW Government media release Grants awarded to reduce the impact of cervical cancer in Aboriginal communities in full click here.

Yorta Yorta, Dja Dja Wurrung and Gamiloroi artist Madison Connors was commissioned by Cancer Council Victoria to create 12 unique art pieces to raise awareness about cervical screening to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. Image source: Cancer Council VIC website.

Mental health support for flood victims

The Albanese Government is delivering $13.1 million in targeted mental health support for NSW communities impacted by the devastating recent floods. Disasters don’t just affect the economy – there are also severe environmental and social impacts, including impacts on the wellbeing and mental health of individuals and communities – manifesting in increased rates of anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder and domestic and family violence. The compounding effect of multiple floods in these communities will have a lasting impact, so improving the availability and accessibility of support is critical during this stage of recovery.

This funding will ensure those most impacted by the floods can receive the support they need to recover. First Nations communities most impacted by the floods will be supported by $3 million to NACCHO to distribute across impacted community controlled organisations to provide much needed trauma counselling, healing and support for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

To view the Minister for Health and Aged Care, the Hon Mark Butler MP’s media release Mental health support for NSW floods in full click here.

AIHW releases health check data

Through Medicare, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people can receive Indigenous‑‍specific health checks from their doctor, as well as referrals for Indigenous‑‍specific follow‑‍up services. According to an Australian Institute of Health and Welfare report released this week:

  • In 2020–‍21, 237,000 Indigenous Australians had one of these health checks (27% of the projected population).
  • The proportion of Indigenous health check patients who had an Indigenous‑‍specific follow‑‍up service within 12 months of their check increased from 12% to 47% between 2010–‍11 and 2019–‍20.

The report presents data on Indigenous‑‍specific health checks and follow‑‍up services for a time period up until the end of June 2021 (i.e. overlapping with the COVID‑19 period). It also includes data on telehealth MBS items that were introduced in 2020 as part of the response to COVID‑‍19.

To view the AIHW web report Indigenous health checks and follow-ups in full click here.

Image source: Galambia Aboriginal Health Services website.

Bowel screening webinar series

Cancer Council, in partnership with the Australian Government, recently launched a national campaign to encourage people to Get2it and participate in the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program (NBCSP). As a part of this, content and resources have been developed specifically for GPs and other primary care health professionals to continue to encourage their patients to take part in bowel cancer screening. This includes a free three-part webinar series titled ‘Getting to the bottom of bowel screening’ for GPs, nurses, and other health professionals. This educational series will be presented by an array of experts from across Australia talking to key topics in the bowel screening space, providing valuable insights to GPs and health professionals to help drive participation in screening.

You can register for each webinar via the below links, or sign up to receive the recording if you are unable to make the 8–9 PM (AEST) webinars on the night.

• Improving NBCSP participation – understanding our audience – Tuesday 23 August, register here

• Bowel cancer screening – from the GP perspectiveWednesday 31 August, register here

• Getting to the bottom of colonoscopy use in bowel screening Wednesday 31 August, register here

You can access a range of GP and health professional specific resources, videos (such as the one below), newsletter and social media content, key messages and calls to action by visiting the Cancer Council Campaign Hub here.

Video consults find niche in mental health

Mental health consults are the top reason for clinicians to use video-based telehealth services, according to the national virtual public health information service. It’s been just over a month since the Department of Health ditched a swathe of MBS phone items, a move which many GPs were concerned would ultimately harm vulnerable mental health patients the most.

While phone consults were wholeheartedly embraced from the beginning of the pandemic, video telehealth uptake has lagged. From the beginning of the pandemic through to April 2022, phone consults have accounted for 96% of all GP telehealth consults.

Despite this general avoidance, there is at least one area where video telehealth is being embraced: mental health. One in every five video consults made using the Healthdirect video call program – which is currently free for general practices and ACCHOs to integrate into their services – is a mental health consult.

To read the Wild Health article Video consults find niche in mental health by Holly Payne in full click here.

Some studies have found that video mental-health therapy can be as effective as in-person treatment. Photo: Getty Images. Image source: The Wall Street Journal.

New process for job advertising

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Everyone needs to be represented

The image in the feature tile is of Pat Turner presenting at the National Press Club. Photo: Dominic Lorrimer. Image source: The Sydney Morning Herald, 30 September 2020.

Everyone needs to be represented

An interview with NACCHO CEO and Lead Convener of the Coalition of Peaks regarding her views on the Voice to Parliament was aired on multiple radio stations yesterday. In the interview Ms Turner said “the national voice has to be elected Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander representatives from each jurisdiction so that everybody is represented.” Ms Turner said “there will be cases put forward for the Torres Strait Islands to have their own representative and there will be large areas in states like NSW, Queensland, NT and WA that will want to have at least different areas of those states and territories represented. So the top end for example of the NT is very different to Central Australia, and the Kimberley is very different to the south-west of WA and likewise with outback NSW versus people who live in Sydney and along the coast.”

Ms Turner said she knows people are rushing on this, but an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island representative group needs to work with the Australian government on the nitty gritty of going to a referendum – the issues of what the referendum question should be, what approach the government takes and timing all need be sorted out first.

The interview appears from 3:05 to 3:29 of the ABC Radio Overnights with Rod Quinn recording here.

Image source: Institute of Public Affairs website.

Australia fails to deliver on UNDRIP

It is now well recognised that Indigenous peoples worldwide have a binding relationship to Earth and Nature which is integral to their health and wellbeing. In 2007 the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), was announced. It was expected to lead to improved understanding and delivery of the spiritual and cultural needs of Aboriginal peoples in relation to their attachment and ownership of lands. In turn this would benefit the health and wellbeing of Indigenous communities.

In 2007 a majority of 144 nations voted for the Declaration. There were 4 votes against, Australia, Canada, NZ and the USA, all with a history of colonisation. Australia was reticent to sign, but eventually did in 2009. We are committed to implement the Declaration and promote indigenous people’s enjoyment of rights on an equal basis. However an Australian Human Rights report in 2021 shows the Australian Government  has not taken steps to implement the UNDRIP into law, policy and practice; has not negotiated with Indigenous peoples a National Action Plan to implement the UNDRIP; and has not audited existing laws, policies and practice for compliance with the UNDRIP.

These need to be addressed urgently in the context of Aboriginal health and well being, which has been a laggard in the Closing the Gap assessments, and in the spirit of moving forward in the context of the new Prime Minister’s commitment to constitutional change.

To read the National Tribune article Australia is failing to deliver on the UN Rights of Indigenous people in full click here.

National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples Co-Chair Jackie Huggins delivered an intervention at the UN in New York on 19 April 2018 during the 17th Session of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. Image source: The Mandarin.

Booze bans ‘not a long-term fix’

Early intervention and reducing community demand for alcohol is the key to tackling problem drinking in the Kimberley and Pilbara regions, the head of an Aboriginal health and rehabilitation service said last Friday. Earlier this week new WA police commissioner Col Blanch said he would support a ban on takeaway alcohol apart from light beer in the Pilbara and Kimberley if it is deemed to be the most effective option for reducing alcohol-related harm.

Milliya Rumurra Aboriginal Corporation chief executive Andrew Amor said he understood police and others were frustrated with the issue of problem drinking which he said was getting worse in Broome. “This is part of a complex issue that has been evolving over many generations. It will take generations to appropriately address,” he said. “Supply reduction measures do provide short-term relief and potential respite for frontline services, however, it is not a long-term solution. “The most effective approach is to reduce the community demand for alcohol. This must be a whole of government and community priority.”

To read the National Indigenous Times article Kimberley and Pilbara booze bans ‘not a long-term fix’, Aboriginal health group warns in full click here.

All booze except light strength may be banned in WA’s North West. Image source: National Indigenous Times.

Wounds a costly health system sore point

A new report from the AMA shows the crippling cost of medical dressings and treating chronic wounds could be mitigated through targeted investment which would save the health system $203.4 million over the next four years. The report — Solutions to the chronic wound problem in Australia — says chronic wound care is a poorly understood and under-funded public health issue, despite studies indicating chronic wounds affect 450,000 Australians and cost $3 billion each year.

The AMA is calling on the Commonwealth to provide more support for GPs to provide high quality wound care for patients through the establishment of a national scheme to fund medical dressings for chronic wounds and extra Medicare funding to cover the unmet costs of providing care for patients suffering chronic wounds. AMA modelling shows chronic wounds treated in hospitals place an additional burden on an already stretched system, with the AMA’s modelling indicating they resulted in close to 32,000 hospital admissions in 2019–20 costing $352 million and 249,346 patient days. The report provides costed solutions to improve wound management in general practice and estimated savings associated with the proposed MBS items.

To read the AMA media release Wounds a Costly Sore Point for the Health System in full click here.

Image source: AMA website.

Caring for your kidneys

Looking after yourself includes keeping your kidneys healthy and having Kidney Health Checks. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are 4 times more likely to have chronic kidney disease (CKD) and develop End Stage Renal Disease (ESRN). In remote communities ESRN is especially high, with rates almost 20 times higher than non-Indigenous people. Getting a regular Kidney Health Check is important because often there are no warning signs for sick kidneys. That’s why kidney disease is sometimes called a ‘silent disease’.

Healthy kidneys filter waste from your body; keep good blood pressure; maintain salt and water balance; keep your bones strong; and help make strong blood. If you have sick kidneys, your body can’t filter your blood properly and that means you can get really sick and even die. When you go to the doctor for a Kidney Health Check, one of the things they will ask you is how you feel and how you live. They will also check your height and weight and measure the size of your waist.

You should have a Kidney Health Check at least once a year! Yarn to your local healthcare worker about your Kidney Health Check today. For more information visit the Kidney Health Australia website here. To view The National Tribune article Chronic Kidney Disease click here.

Image source: Department of Health and Aged Care.

Stay COVID-19 safe!

Masks help protect people from viruses like COVID-19 and help stop them from spreading between people. Wearing a mask is something easy that you can do to protect yourself. Wearing a mask when in crowded places like public transport or at the supermarket is strongly recommended. Encouraging your loved ones to do the same will help protect them too.

Help stop the spread:

  • Wash or sanitise your hands
  • Maintain physical distancing (1.5m or two big steps)
  • Keep your COVID-19 vaccinations up to date, and
  • Stay at home and get tested if you’re unwell.

When wearing a mask:

  • Wash (or sanitise) your hands before putting on the mask
  • Make sure it covers your nose and mouth and fits snugly under your chin, over the bridge of your nose and against the sides of your face
  • Do not touch the front of the mask while wearing it or when removing it. If you do touch the mask, wash or sanitise your hands immediately
  • Do not allow the mask to hang around your chin or neck
  • Wash or sanitise your hands after removing the mask, and
  • Wash cloth masks after each use, or daily at a minimum.

Important: People with chronic respiratory conditions should seek medical advice before wearing a mask.

You can find more Stay COVID-19 safe! resources on the Department of Health and Aged Care’s website here and view Dr Ngiare Brown explaining how to correctly wear a face mask in the video below.

Red Lily installs defibrillator

The Red Lily Team have installed an AED (Automated External Defibrillator) at the community hall in Warruwi. It will certainly play a significant role in saving lives if someone has a sudden cardiac arrest in the community. The community has 24/7 access to this device.

Support for the AED was received from the Warruwi Community, TOs, West Arnhem Regional Council – Warruwi Team, the Warruwi Health Centre, Yagbani Aboriginal Corporation, ALPA for their advice to select the installation spot and also the St. John Ambulance who partnered with Red Lily.

You can view the West Arnhem Regional Council article 24 hours access to lifesaving device here.

Red Lily Transition Manager Steve Hayes is with Red Lily Health Board Director from Warruwi Mary Djurundudu in front of the newly installed Warruwi community AED (Automated External Defibrillator). Image source: Red Lily Health Facebook page.

New process for job advertising

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

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