Acceleration of efforts to reduce overincarceration
The Joint Council on Closing the Gap met today and acknowledged the 30th anniversary of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody and agreed that joined up work between all governments in partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander representatives is critical to reducing the rate at which Indigenous people are incarcerated, and thereby reduce deaths in custody. Given the urgency and enduring nature of this issue Joint Council agreed to the high priority of accelerating the critical work to establish a Policy Partnership on Justice with the aim of reducing youth and adult incarceration.
Patricia Turner AM, Lead Convener of the Coalition of Peaks said “It’s vital that governments, in partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander representatives, are taking urgent and decisive steps to address the overincarceration of our peoples. For the first time, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander representatives will be at the table with Ministers, Attorneys’-General, government officials, corrections, policing, housing and health under a formal shared decision making arrangement.”
To view the Coalition of Peaks media release click here.
Photo: Getty. Image source: BBC News website.
Aboriginal people still dying in custody
Aboriginal man David Dungay Jr died in a Sydney prison cell in 2015 after officers restrained him to stop him eating biscuits. During the struggle, he was pinned face-down by guards and jabbed with a sedative. Video later shown at his inquest captured his final moments: his laboured breathing and muffled screams under the pack of guards. “I can’t breathe,” he yelled repeatedly.
His case has parallels to that of African-American man George Floyd, whose death triggered global protests against racism and policing in the US. The Black Lives Matter movement also threw a spotlight on Australia’s own incarceration of indigenous people and their deaths in custody.
This week marks 30 years since a landmark inquiry into Aboriginal deaths in custody. The royal commission made hundreds of recommendations to address the crisis. But three decades on, the situation has worsened. Central to the problem is overrepresentation. Indigenous people are about 12 times more likely to be in custody than non-indigenous Australians.
That reality, a product of systemic problems and disadvantage faced by Aboriginal people, has prompted fresh anger over a lack of action. “The system is continuing to kill us and no one’s doing anything about it,” Paul Silva, the nephew of David Dungay Jr, said at a rally this week.
The Healing Foundation CEO Fiona Cornforth spoke with Dan Bourchier, ABC Radio 666 Canberra ‘Afternoons’ yesterday about the 30-year anniversary of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody and intergenerational healing.
Fiona Cornforth said “it is an important time to do that reflecting. Though it’s something we carry every day, I think, as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Unfortunately, we’re at a point now where we’ve lost hope in recommendations being fully implemented, despite all our voices being in these reports over time and people being generous and courageous to put forward their stories, time and time again. Where the solutions are in community, the solutions are given up as important by those with lived experience. But the powers that be and the complex system, the incarceration system, and all the service providers, the big web just can’t seem to get these recommendations out of the too hard basket.”
The Morrison government has decided to delay introducing mandatory independent assessments (IAs) for the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), in a move strongly welcomed by disability groups.
New NDIS Minister Linda Reynolds said earlier this week that she would not be making any decisions around in IAs legislation until an IA trial was finished and the government could examine the feedback. While people currently need to get reports from multiple health providers of their choosing to assess their NDIS eligibility, the new mandatory assessments will be conducted by NDIS-appointed healthcare professionals using standardised tools.
The decision to introduce IAs has been met with overwhelming opposition from disability advocates, who say the process does not adequately capture the complexity of a person’s support needs and will lead to unfair outcomes for people with disability. Reynolds acknowledged the “significant feedback” IAs have already received, and said she would be consulting across the country with as many stakeholders as she could. Disability groups – who feared people would disengage from the scheme entirely because of their unwillingness to engage with IAs – strongly welcomed the minister’s comments.
To view the Pro Bono Australia article in full click here.
Image source: Pro Bono Australia News website.
The more that have the vaccine, the safer we’ll be
NACCHO CEO and lead convenor of the Coalition of Peaks, Pat Turner and NACCHO Deputy CEO, Dr Dawn Casey received their first AstraZeneca vaccines at Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health and Community Services last week. “The more people have the vaccinations, the safer we will be,” said Pat. “We’ve managed to keep our community free of any deaths from COVID-19 to date and we want to continue that outstanding record.”
Contact your local Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation or GP to find out when you can receive your vaccine and to ask any questions you may have. To view the Pat Turner’s video click here.
Review of kidney transplant wait-listing
Research has confirmed poor access to wait-listing for kidney transplantation for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians from the NT. The study found causes of delays to wait-listing included: failure to attend appointments due to competing priorities and communication barriers, access and navigating complex pathways to specialist services, transport, co-morbidities requiring multiple tests and multiple specialty services, and pressures on dialysis and hospital bed capacity.
The study concluded that barriers to wait-listing for kidney transplantation for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians are complex and can be addressed by redesigning healthcare provision, including increasing the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander workforce to provide education and patient navigation of the healthcare system and improve communication, streamlining investigations and coordinating specialist services.
A study has been undertaken to determine what lessons can be learned from the Victorian Aboriginal Spectacles Subsidy Scheme (VASSS). The VASSS, which started in July 2010 and has operated continually since, aims to improve access to visual aids and eye care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Victorians.
An estimated 10,853 VASSS cofunded visual aids were delivered over the first 6 years of the scheme. During that time the mean annual number of comprehensive eye examinations provided within services using VASSS grew 4.6-fold faster compared with the 4 years preceding the VASSS. VASSS achievements were attained through collaborations, flexibility, trust and communication between organisations, all facilitated by funding resulting from evidence-based advocacy.
Access to visual aids and eye examinations by Aboriginal Victorians has improved during the operation of the VASSS, with associated direct and indirect benefits to Aboriginal health, productivity and quality of life. The success of the VASSS may be replicable in other jurisdictions and provides lessons that may be applicable in other fields.
This week marks the second phase of the national COVID-19 vaccine rollout which is targeting over six million higher-risk Australians. NACCHO CEO, Pat Turner say last week on ABC The Drum that “While the focus remains on those at highest risk – people over 55 or with chronic medical conditions – ACCHOs can also vaccinate family members and household members of those at high risk. A remote vaccine working group is considering a whole of community strategy – including all non-Indigenous and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults in the community.”
Minister for Indigenous Australians, the Hon Ken Wyatt AM, MP, Shadow Minister for Indigenous Australians, Linda Burney MP and Professor Tom Calma AO made time this morning to attend Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health and Community Service to receive their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
Minister Wyatt said “We have done a remarkable job so far in the fight against the COVID-19 virus, we cannot now become complacent. Vaccines are an important tool in our strategy and I urge all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to come forward and get vaccinated when they are able to. It will help protect themselves, their family and their community.”
To view the Minister Ken Wyatt’s media release click here and to read a transcript of Linda Burney’s doorstop interview click here.
Ken Wyatt, Linda Burney and Tom Calma were among Indigenous leaders to receive their first vaccine dose in Canberra this morning at Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health Service.
ACCHO’s first vaccine day incredibly successful
The first words from the first Aboriginal elder in Campbelltown to get his COVID-19 vaccine on Monday this week were those of love and gratitude for his people and those who kept them safe during the pandemic. “I love you, I love the work you do, and the people you serve,” elder Uncle Ivan Wellington told Darryl Wright, the chief executive of the Tharawal Aboriginal Corporation and the staff of its Aboriginal Medical Service (AMS) after he got the jab.
During the pandemic, the first priority at Tharawal was protecting elders. Tharawal health workers visited homes to deliver flu shots and do health checks, telephoned frequently and arranged for deliveries of food and vegetables. “If we lose our elders, we lose our entire library [of knowledge],” said Leonie Murdoch, 62, who was also vaccinated on Monday.
Dr Heather McKenzie, who is coordinating the vaccine roll-out at Tharawal, was excited about getting her injection because it would protect the community she serves. To prepare people before today’s injections Dr McKenzie had run a Q and A session about what to expect. Despite that, some were nervous, including Uncle Ivan who had heard about the rare blood clots experienced by some people. But Ms Murdoch reassured him, “They can treat that [blood clots], but they can’t treat COVID.”
When the medical service texted the community offering the first round of vaccinations on Monday, it was inundated. Every appointment was taken within 10 minutes, Mr Wright said. Dr Tim Senior, a doctor with Tharawal’s AMS, said nearly all the service’s 5,000 patients would qualify to be vaccinated during this phase because of problems with chronic disease and other health issues. “It would be a struggle to find people who aren’t eligible under 1B,” he said.
To view the full article in The Sydney Morning Heraldclick here.
Tharawal elder Uncle Ivan Wellington receives his first AstraZeneca vaccine from Tharawal Aboriginal Corporation GP Heather MacKenzie. Photograph: Tharawal Aboriginal Corporation. Image source: The Guardian.
The Guardian also reported on the second phase of Australia’s vaccine rollout. It said Aboriginal community health services across Australia have overcome major challenges including floods and wild weather to deliver their first Covid-19 vaccines to Aboriginal elders. “Our elders are our leaders and during the pandemic they continue to show us the way forward by proudly getting vaccinated first,” Dr Heather Mackenzie, from Tharawal Aboriginal Corporation, said.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have the highest rate of immunisation among the Australian population, according to NACCHO medical advisor, Dr Jason Agostino, who said “The Aboriginal health sector is extremely equipped in delivering large-scale immunisation programs and has been working hard to support communities during the pandemic.”
To view The Guardian’s article Aboriginal health sector overcoming major challenges to deliver first Covid vaccine jabsclick here.
‘I didn’t even feel it,’ says Cecil Phillips, 62, receiving his AstraZeneca vaccination by registered nurse, Sam Parimalanathan, at the Aboriginal Medical Service in Redfern. Photograph: Isabella Moore. Image source: The Guardian.
Community-based COVID-19 responses among best
The Consumers Health Forum (CHF) has welcomed the start of the 1b phase of the COVID vaccination rollout to older people and other vulnerable groups, urging the importance of the need for community patience and two-way communication between health authorities and consumers. The success of Australia’s response so far in keeping the spread of COVID to relatively low levels should not make us complacent about the priority of prompt vaccination of all Australians in the interests of our health and of the economy.
It is vital that people get the facts about the vaccine and the rollout from authoritative and readily accessible sources, including government websites and their GPs who, from this week, will be scaling up vaccination availability. The CHF CEO, Leanne Wells, said “A convincing example of just how effective community-based responses can be, has been the success in countering pandemic infections achieved by the member groups of NACCHO. The 107 NACCHO groups achieved among the best results in preventing COVID compared to similar entities anywhere in the world and that was because of the strong community engagement and leadership.”
To view the CHF’s media release in full click here.
Image source: The Medical Journal of Australia.
COVID-19 information for Victoria’s mob
The Victorian Government has developed a very useful COVID-19 information for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communitieswebpage.
The site says there are a couple of reasons why, for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, the risk of COVID-19 transmission is higher and it can cause more severe symptoms. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people over the age of 50 years, or who have a pre-existing health condition, such as diabetes, asthma, heart and lung conditions, or immune problems, are at higher risk of developing a severe illness associated with COVID-19. Younger Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people can also get COVID-19 and infect family, friends and elders. As a lot of mob often live under the same roof, it’s also harder to practise physical distancing and isolation, which increases the risk of spreading the disease within the community.
The webpage says that in order to slow the spread of COVID-19 in Victoria, we must all do our part. We know it’s tough, but together we can keep our families, mob and ourselves safe, strong and well. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community sector partners are working closely with government to coordinate response plans and ensure communities have the necessary information, resources and support they need.
Victorian Senator Lidia Thorpe. Image source: BBC News.
Updated health check templates survey
The Commonwealth Department of Health has endorsed recently updated Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health check templates developed in a partnership between NACCHO and the RACGP.
The NACCHO-RACGP Partnership Project Team is keen to hear your feedback on the templates by:
expressing interest to be one of 10 primary healthcare teams testing the templates between 12 April and 11 June 2021 by contacting the Team at email@example.com
Your feedback will support the team to understand what it takes to get these health check templates into practice and what other innovations can support quality health checks and primary healthcare for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
Image source: NT PHN & Rural Workforce Agency NT webpage.
Remote PHC Manuals update
The Remote Primary Health Care Manuals review process in underway. Monthly updates will be available to health services and other organisations to provide updates on the review process.
What’s new: new Acute Assessment Protocols are being developed to guide practitioners to assess emergencies and guide differential diagnoses.
Coming up next: Expert Advisory Groups have been working to update protocols.
This flyer provides further information about the RPHCM project, including what you need to do to become a reviewer or provide feedback on the new manuals.
Aboriginal-led ways to foster mental health
A report Balit Durn Durn – strong brain, mind, intellect and sense of self: report to the Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System was developed by the Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (VAACHO) to support the final report for the Royal Commission into Victoria’s (Vic) Mental Health System. The report outlines five Aboriginal-led ways to build strength, resilience, connectedness and identity in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and communities to create essential pathways for fostering positive mental health and wellbeing.
The report aims to provide an overview of Aboriginal communities’ experience with the current mental health system and offers innovative solutions that have the potential to dramatically transform the Victorian mental health system to better meet the needs of Aboriginal communities.
The Healing Foundation has been working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders in Queensland to co-design and develop the state’s first healing strategy. The Dreaming big process identified community issues and themes by the number of times keywords were mentioned in surveys and yarning circles.
The report outlines what over 400 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people from 80 different cultural groups in over 50 locations in Queensland, said when asked what healing means and what happy and strong feels like. The aim being to help transcend the divide between deficit-based solutions and strength-based outcomes.
To view the report Dreaming big – voices we heard: informing the Queensland Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Healing strategyclick here.
Healthier smiles in Loddon Mallee
Minister for Health Martin Foley says the Andrews Labor Government is ensuring Aboriginal children in the Loddon Mallee region have strong and healthy teeth. “The $360,000 Loddon Mallee Fluoride Varnish program will help protect 600 Aboriginal children in schools, Aboriginal-specific early years services and Aboriginal childcare organisations at heightened risk of tooth decay. Fluoride varnish applications reduce tooth decay in young children by 37% by providing a protective covering. The varnish also prevents an existing tooth decay from progressing further. The preventive oral health program provides including twice-yearly fluoride varnish applications, oral health promotion and free tooth packs to Aboriginal children across the Loddon Mallee region. The expanded program builds on a successful pilot in 2018/20, which reached 200 Aboriginal children aged up to 18 across the region.”
To view the Victoria State Government media release click here and to view a related article Bendigo and District Aboriginal Cooperativeto deliver Fluoride Varnish programclick here.
Image source: Bendigo Advertiser.
Proposed NT youth justice changes flawed
Australia’s only national First Nations-led justice coalition has warned that the NT Gunner Government’s proposed youth justice reforms will see the number of Aboriginal children behind bars skyrocket. The reforms are highly punitive and will disproportionately drive Aboriginal kids into police and prison cells. Change the Record has highlighted that the proposed law changes fly in the face of the Royal Commission recommendations to invest in supporting children outside of the criminal justice system and move away from the ‘tough on crime’ policies that have been proven to fail. Change the Record, Co-Chair Cheryl Axleby said “If the NT Government goes ahead with these youth justice reforms it will take the Northern Territory back to the dark days before the Royal Commission when Don Dale was full of Aboriginal children being subjected to the most horrendous abuse.”
The NT Council of Social Service and Amnesty International Australia have also expressed concerns about the proposed changes to the NT’s youth justice system. “This is a callous, racist legislative crackdown in search of a problem,” Amnesty International Australia Indigenous Rights Advocate, Rodney Dillon, said. “Chief Minister Gunner has picked up the Royal Commission report and thrown it in the bin. Let’s be clear: no one wants youth crime. But cracking down on Indigenous kids – because all the kids in the NT justice system are Indigenous – who have complex needs, by throwing them in jail fixes nothing. What it does is condemn young kids to the quicksand of the youth justice system, and it entrenches recidivism, which is what all the politicians say they want to address,” Dillon said.
You can view the Change the Record media release here, the NTCOSS media release here and the Amnesty International Australia media release here.
Image source: Change the Record website.
NSW – Sydney – The University of Sydney
Research Assistant (Identified) x 1 FT (Fixed Term) – Sydney
The Centre for Kidney Research are seeking a Research Assistant (Identified) to work on a project alongside a team of researchers and educators. This project aims to develop clinical practice guidelines on the management of chronic kidney disease in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the management of kidney stones.
You will join the project at an interesting stage and will be responsible for actively contributing to research activities for the project including, building relationships and engaging with Aboriginal people and communities to ensure that the clinical guidelines are incorporating community needs and promoting awareness of the guidelines to improve the management and prevention of kidney disease.
To view position description and to apply click here.Applications close midnight Monday 5 April 2021.
Image source: Kettering Health Network.
Purple Day (Friday 26 March 2021) is a global initiative dedicated to raising epilepsy awareness. Purple Day was founded in 2008, by nine-year-old Cassidy Megan of Nova Scotia, Canada. Motivated by her own struggles with epilepsy, Cassidy started Purple Day to get people talking about the condition and to let those impacted by seizures know that they are not alone. She named the day, Purple Day after the internationally recognised colour for epilepsy, lavender.
Purple Day has grown into a well-known and supported national awareness day with thousands of people across Australia gathering within their community, education and corporate sectors to raise much needed awareness and funds for those affected by epilepsy. You can access epilepsy information for Indigenous communities here.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander COVID-19 Vaccine Provider Communication Kit
NACCHO and the Department of Health (DoH) are excited to share with you, COVID-19 vaccine providers, new resources and materials to roll-out Phase 1b, due to start week commencing 22 March.
The COVID-19 Vaccine Provider Communication Kit includes a series of templates and materials that both vaccination clinics and non-vaccination clinics will be able to use and adapt for their sites. All resources feature the beautiful work of Aboriginal artist Jordana Angus,“Stand Together For A Healthy Future”.
This kit will help you work through the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA)’s regulatory guidelines for advertising COVID-19 vaccinations.
Here is a formal letter providing an approval for your organisation and its members and its members to adapt Government campaign materials as necessary.
The TGA or the Department of Health can look over draft materials or ideas if ACCHOs have concerns.
There are several resources that you may find helpful as you roll-out vaccinations through your clinic/practice – you can find more on the DoH website.
We can’t thank you enough for your support and partnership in helping us keep our communities safe and healthy! #OurJobToProtectOurMob
There’s a lot of vaccine hesitancy out there: newsGP reports
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health experts speak to newsGP about steps to address misinformation and hesitancy ahead of phase 1b.
As Australia prepares to move into phase 1b of the coronavirus vaccine rollout, Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations (ACCHOs) are buckling down on tackling vaccine hesitancy.
GP Dr Tanya Schramm is a Palawa woman and Chair of the Expert Committee behind the COVID-19 clinical recommendations for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people:
‘There’s been a huge social media campaign in general with … the anti-vax movement putting a lot of stuff out … and that has obviously just overflowed into our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.
GP Dr Jason Agostino is the Medical Advisor at the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) and member of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Advisory Group on COVID-19: ‘There’s a lot of vaccine hesitancy out there, [but] I don’t think we have an anti-vax movement.
‘What we have is hesitancy around this vaccine and a lot of misinformation going around to people [who have] reasonable questions that they want answered.
‘We’ve got a specific factsheet about vaccines for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people talking about the experiences of other First Nations [people], and really clarifying that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aren’t guinea pigs here.
‘The reason that they’re priority populations is because Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health leaders have fought hard to make sure that they have access to vaccines early.’
2021 Close the Gap Campaign Report celebrates strengths-based examples
As one of the members driving the Close the Gap Campaign, NACCHO invites you to read the 12th annual Close the Gap Campaign Report 2021 titled, Leadership and Legacy Through Crises: Keeping our Mob safe.
Connect with the strengths-based examples of our peoples, professionals and communities managing the most complex of challenges such as climate change, the COVID-19 pandemic and suicide prevention.
This year’s report was produced by the Lowitja Institute, Australia’s community controlled national institute for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health research. In the CTG annual reports they often repeat our recommendations, and we remain steadfast and persistent in the expectation that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander ways of knowing, being and doing will be respected and understood.
Pat Turner AM, CEO NACCHO and Lead Convenor of the Coalition of Peaks on Closing the Gap said, “New formal partnership agreements between governments and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled representatives are being strengthened or set up in every state and territory to share decision making on Closing the Gap.”
“The Priority Reforms in the National Agreement on Closing the Gap need to be embedded into the way governments work – in their policy development, program and funding guidelines and decision making. Our purpose together is to share decisions on how to improve the life outcomes of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.”
Dr Dawn Casey Deputy CEO NACCHO and Co-Chair of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Advisory Group on COVID-19 quoted in the Close the Gap Campaign Report 2021
“ACCHOs know where our mob are and how to get the right message out.”
“I feel proud of the community controlled sector. It’s great that there’s been that recognition of how responsive and how flexible our sector could be. You could see firsthand how, if you work with ACCHOs on the ground they will deliver an effective response that’s appropriate for their setting.”
“You don’t get the same care for our people in mainstream health organisations, you don’t get that recognition of the social determinants of health or of the way colonisation impacts on our health as you do with ACCHOs.”
Indigenous birthing services vital to health of mothers and babies
Charles Darwin University midwifery researchers are calling for Indigenous-led birthing centres to expand across Australia after a seven-year study found a decrease in preterm births and an
improvement in breastfeeding and antenatal care for First Nations families.
The paper “Effect of a Birthing on Country Service redesign on maternal and neonatal health outcomes for First Nations Australians: a prospective, non-randomised interventional trial published today in The Lancet Global Health revealed preterm births were 50 per cent less likely in women accessing a designated Birthing on Country service in Brisbane’s south.
The study reported an almost 40 per cent increase in breastfeeding after discharge from hospital and an 80 per cent increase in women attending more than four antenatal sessions in pregnancy.
Most Australians support raising the age of criminal responsibility from 10 to at least 14, according to research commissioned by Amnesty International Australia.
The current minimum age of criminal responsibility in all Australian jurisdictions is just 10 (the age of a child in year three in primary school), a fact only one in 10 Australians could identify. In 2019 the Committee of the Rights of the child recommended Australia raise the minimum age of criminal responsibility (MACR) to at least 14 in line with international standards.
Australia also came in for criticism from the international community during the recent Universal Periodic Review where 31 countries recommended Australia address its treatment of Indigenous people and raise the age. “The tough-on-crime rhetoric is a false economy – all the evidence shows that locking kids up doesn’t work,” Amnesty International Australia Indigenous Rights Lead, Nolan Hunter, said.
Before claiming any of the COVID-19 Telehealth items, GPs are reminded that it is a legislative requirement that GPs and Other Medical Practitioners (OMPs) working in general practice can only perform a telehealth or telephone service where they have an established clinical relationship with the patient. There are limited exemptions to this requirement.
Patients are eligible for GP and OMP telehealth services if they have an established clinical relationship with a GP, OMP, or a medical practice. This requirement supports longitudinal and person-centred primary health care that is associated with better health outcomes.
How Australia’s vaccine rollout in Indigenous communities will work
An Indigenous-owned remote dialysis clinic in Alice Springs is working to make COVID-19 vaccine information more accessible to people living in remote communities.
At 71 years old, Barbara Nampitjinpa is the perfect candidate to receive the COVID-19 vaccine during the next phase of the rollout.
Ms Nampitjinpa, who uses an oxygen tank to help herself breathe, is not only getting the jab for her own health, but to encourage other people in remote communities to do the same.
Phase 1b of the vaccine rollout, which begins on 22 March, will focus on vaccinating Indigenous Australians aged 55 and over, people over 70, and those who are immunocompromised, as well as some emergency services personnel including the remainder of the health workforce not included in Phase 1a.
Barbara Nampitjinpa wants people in remote communities to get the COVID-19 vaccine. Source: SBS News
Wunan to run headspace Kununurra
East Kimberley organisation Wunan has been appointed as the lead agency to establish and operate headspace Kununurra. headspace Kununurra will bring a much-needed resource to the area, offering young people support with their mental health, physical health, alcohol and other drugs issues, and work and study.
WA Primary Health Alliance (WAPHA), the operator of the Country WA Primary Health Network, awarded the contract to Wunan following an open tender procurement process.
For nearly 20 years Wunan has been successfully delivering services and programs across the East Kimberley, including delivery of clinical services to Kununurra and surrounding communities.
Young people aged 12 to 25 can contact headspace Kununurra directly or be referred by their GP or mental health professional.
Illustration source: Chris Johnston, Eurekastreet.com.au
The outstanding health outcome Indigenous communities have produced
The fact Indigenous communities kept COVID-19 infection rates six times lower than the rest of Australia without a single death is proof that when they have control and autonomy over policies and programs, success follows.
That’s the message from June Oscar, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commissioner and the co-chair of the annual Close the Gap campaign.
The pandemic and the bushfires of 2020 reinforced the need for large-scale reform and “a paradigm shift to truly empower Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples”, Ms Oscar said.
Chief executive of the Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Service Vicki O’Donnell said avoiding COVID-19 deaths was a triumph.
“Our mob live together, eat together, work together, they kiss and they hug – so the spread was a huge risk for us.
“No Aboriginal person died. Does that not tell you something about what we do?” she said.
In 2019, suicide was the biggest killer of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children aged five to 17 years. Suicide rates among adults are at least two to three times higher than for non-Indigenous Australians.
Yet the lack of resources and funding to train Aboriginal people in mental health and suicide prevention was “incredibly frustrating” for Thomas Brideson, the chief executive of Gayaa Dhuwi (Proud Spirit) Australia, a newly established Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mental health and suicide prevention organisation.
Read the article in the Sydney Morning Herald here.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner June Oscar. Source: Australian Human Rights Commission
Close the Gap report says 2020 reinforced need for large-scale systemic reform
Australian governments at all levels must adopt the Uluru Statement from the Heart, and should take strengths-based approaches to improve health outcomes for Australia’s First Peoples, according to the Close the Gap Campaign.
The campaignis made up of 54 organisations, including the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC), and aims to achieve health equality for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
In its 2021 Close the Gap report (not to be confused with the federal government’s Closing the Gap initiative), the campaign noted that the events of 2020 have reinforced the need for large-scale systemic reform and a “paradigm shift” in Australia’s approach to truly empower Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
Indigenous leadership in pandemic delivers a blueprint to Close the Gap
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations and people have been hailedfor their world-leading response to the coronavirus pandemic which left First Nations communities largely unscathed.
As leading Indigenous researcher Professor James Ward, Director of the UQ Poche Centre for Indigenous Health, and former Australian of the Year and health researcher Professor Fiona Stanley wrote this week: “Little did anyone know that just a few years after the Uluru Statement from the Heart was presented to the Australian government (and rejected), the First Nations leadership would be able to show just how powerful having a voice could be for their health and wellbeing.”
The 2021 Close the Gap Report, released on Thursday to mark National Close the Gap Day, says it’s time for that lesson to be learnt and applied to so many issues that continue to drive health inequities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, including racism, climate change, over-incarceration, youth detention, housing, food and income insecurity, health workforce shortages and stresses, and cultural destruction.
Country and culture are central to the report and the Kimberley is one of the regions highlighted for the leadership shown by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations, communities and people during the pandemic, with the number of COVID-19 cases among Indigenous people six times lower than for other Australians, no cases in remote communities, and not a single death recorded.
As Oscar wrote in the report: Some of our homelands, once threatened with closure by governments in the past, became some of the safest places in Australia.”
The relative safety of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities also ranked as a global success, said Indigenous researcher Professor James Ward, the only Aboriginal member of the Communicable Disease Network of Australia, who was a panellist at the Close the Gap event, which also heard from Minister for Indigenous Australians Ken Wyatt and Sir Michael Marmot, former head of the WHO Social Determinants Committee.
107 ACCHOs have signed up to deliver COVID-19 vaccines: Pat Turner on ABC The Drum
Pat Turner AM, CEO NACCHO and Lead Convenor of the Coalition of Peaks was on the panel of speakers for the ABC The Drum last evening and spoke on a couple of topics including the First Nation’s success with COVID-19 and the vaccines rollout, COVID-19’s northern exposure to PNG outbreak, the Federal Government launching a multimillion-dollar advertising campaign in Canberra today encouraging people to move to regional Australia and the Closing the Gap update amongst others.
The Deputy PM is promoting a migration to regional Australia – but are the towns prepared to handle more people? What happens if not?
Pat said, “Experience from other First Nations in US and Canada shows high vaccine uptake occurs when the rollout is led by First Nations peoples and there is community control. Due to our success in controlling the outbreak we’re in a position which allows our services to have a flexible approach to the vaccine rollout.
“Just as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities were on the front foot with controlling COVID-19, we are on the front foot with the vaccine. We have advocated to ensure our communities are among the first to be offered the vaccine. We know the devastation COVID-19 can cause due to the high number of people with chronic conditions like diabetes and the potential rapid spread in crowded housing.
“We have 107 ACCHOs who will participate in the COVID-19 vaccine rollout from 1b in late March. This includes many rural and remote ACCHOs, ensuring all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have access to the vaccine if they choose to, regardless of location.
“We need flexibility in the way the vaccine is delivered in communities, especially in remote and very remote setting. NACCHO has been working with the Australian Government to ensure that, where appropriate, this flexibility exists. While the focus remains on those at highest risk – people over 55 or with chronic medical conditions – ACCHOs can also vaccinate family members and household members of those at high risk. A remote vaccine working group is considering a whole of community strategy – including all non-Indigenous and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults in the community.
“ACCHOs are highly experienced at vaccine roll-out. Five year old Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children have the highest coverage of vaccine uptake in the country and in 2020, almost 80% of people over 65 had the Fluvax.
“We have ensured there is targeted monitoring of safety of the vaccine among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people through the AusVaxSafety program.
“The Australian Government has announced over $14 million in funding to support the roll-out of the vaccine in ACCHO. However, services are yet to receive this funding.
“We know that the best information comes from locally developed communication materials from the ACCHO sector. This was key to the success of the COVID-19 response.
“The communication materials developed by the Government are a good source of factual and up to date information, but we need to support our services to adapt these to local communities needs.
“NACCHO has worked closely with the Government, including the TGA (Therapeutic Goods Administration) to ensure that restrictions on medicine advertising do not stop our sector from doing what they do best – developing and distributing effective health promotion and engagement campaigns for their communities.”
Nyikina Nyul Nyul nurse Emily Hunter was the first Kimberley person to receive the COVID-19 vaccination. Photo: Erin Parke. Image source: ABC News website.
National Close the Gap Day 2021
“It will be two years since the historic Partnership Agreement on Closing the Gap came into effect and we are seeing a radical change across the country.
“The new formal partnership agreements between governments and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled representatives are being strengthened or set up in every state and territory to share decision making on Closing the Gap.
“The Priority Reforms in the National Agreement need to be embedded into the way governments work – in their policy development, program and funding guidelines and decision making. Our purpose together is to share decisions on how to improve the life outcomes of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.”
General Practices join the Phase 1B COVID-19 vaccine rollout
More than 1,000 general practices will join the COVID-19 vaccination program from next week further strengthening the Commonwealths capacity, and ensuring an efficient and equitable distribution of vaccines across the country.
Services will come online from 22 March and progressively increase in number to more than 4,000 by the end of April – as part of Phase 1B of Australia’s COVID-19 vaccine program.
This staged scale up will align with the supply of the locally produced AstraZeneca vaccine, and as more vaccine becomes available more services will come online.
Over 100 Aboriginal Health Services and 130 Commonwealth operated GP-led Respiratory Clinics, who have been instrumental partners in the COVID-19 response to date will also be progressively added as additional vaccine providers.
This rollout for Phase 1B complements the significant vaccination program underway to protect our most vulnerable citizens in Phase 1A, with approximately 200,000 vaccinated by the end of Tuesday.
Australians eligible for Phase 1B will be able to find a vaccination provider through the new national vaccination information and location service, at the Department of Health website.
This will enable people to locate their nearest general practice providing General Practice Respiratory Clinic vaccinations and link through to their online booking system or phone number to make the appointment.
To read the full media release by the Hon Greg Hunt MP Minister for Health and Aged Care click here.
ATAGI statement in response to European decisions about the Astra Zeneca vaccine
Australia’s regulatory body for vaccines Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) issued a statement to not suspend Astra Zeneca vaccine yesterday.
Could we mix and match different COVID-19 vaccines?
The COVID vaccine rollout is now underway in Australia and around the world. It’s incredible we’ve been able to develop and produce safe and effective vaccines so quickly — but the current crop of vaccines might not protect us forever. Fortunately, researchers are already developing and testing booster shots. So what are booster shots, and when might we need them?
The first time you give someone a dose of vaccine against a particular infection, it’s called a prime. You’re getting your immune response ready to roll.
Each time you give another dose against that same infection, it’s called a boost. You’re building on immunity you already have from the first dose.
To read the full article in the Conversation click here.
Facebook-based social marketing to reduce smoking in Australia’s First Nations communities
Interesting research paper released in the Australian Indigenous HealthBulletin: Facebook-based social marketing to reduce smoking in Australia’s First Nations communities: an analysis of reach, shares, and likes. By Hefler M, Kerrigan V, Grunseit A, Freeman B, Kite J, Thomas DP (2020).
Therapeutic Goods adverse events following immunisation
This instrument specifies certain therapeutic goods information relating to adverse events following immunisation that may be released to specified bodies and persons for the purpose of ensuring meaningful and effective participation in meetings on vaccine safety to support the safety, quality and safe use of vaccines in Australia.
Australia’s Race Discrimination Commissioner Chin Tan has launched a plan to establish a National Anti-Racism Framework and has called on the Federal Government to support and implement it. Commissioner Tan released a concept paper detailing key components that need to be included in the Framework and will soon commence a series of roundtables with peak anti-racism organisations to progress the plan.
The plan was launched ahead of the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, also known in Australia as Harmony Day, which occurs this Sunday. Commissioner Tan said: “Racism is an economic, social and national security threat to Australia, and we need to treat it as such. Too many Australians are regularly the targets of racism. “It is time we dealt with the scourge of racism in the same way we deal with the scourge of domestic violence, or the scourge of child abuse. On those issues we have longstanding national frameworks, signed onto by all governments with three-year action plans.
To read the media release by the Australian Human Rights Commission and the Concept Paper for a National Anti-Racism Framework clickhere.
Close the Gap Campaign Report 2021: Policy Brief
Since 2010, the Close the Gap Campaign Steering Committee has developed an annual report on action that needs to be taken to achieve health equality for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
We often repeat our recommendations, and we remain steadfast and persistent in the expectation that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander ways of knowing, being and doing will be respected and understood. The time for governments to deliver has long passed.
The Leadership and Legacy Through Crises: Keeping our Mob safe report presents solutions and showcases the leadership of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, communities, youth and organisations throughout critical health crises in 2020.
The report features strengths-based examples in addressing the most complex of challenges. These include climate change, the COVID-19 pandemic, and the increasing need for social and emotional wellbeing services in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities as a result of these events, and pre-existing effects of colonisation and inter-generational trauma.
Effective approaches to prevention, diagnosis and support for Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder
Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) is an entirely preventable permanent disability. FASD includes a range of physical and neurological impairments, occurring due to brain damage caused by exposing a fetus to alcohol during pregnancy. As a spectrum disorder, FASD manifests in a range of ways, and conditions can range from very mild to severe.
Senate Community Affairs References Committee report on effective approaches to prevention, diagnosis and support for Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder. Tabled 17 March 2021.
The committee received a wealth of information and evidence throughout the inquiry and thanks all those who participated, especially those with lived experience who had the courage to share their experiences and knowledge with the committee. As a result, the committee has made 32 recommendations, which aim at significantly improving the prevention, diagnosis, and management of FASD.
Effective approaches to prevention and diagnosis of FASD, strategies for optimising life outcomes for people with FASD and supporting carers, and the prevalence and management of FASD, including in vulnerable populations, in the education system, and in the criminal justice system.
To read the full report released by the Senate Community Affairs References Committee, click here.
Image source: UNSW Sydney National Drug & Alcohol Research Centre.
Hearing loss and treating middle-ear infections in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children
Identifying hearing loss and treating middle-ear infections in Indigenous children in their first four years would change lives forever, says Australia’s first Indigenous surgeon, Dr Kelvin Kong.
Describing himself as a proud Worimi man, Dr Kong said early intervention – such as checking children’s ears at every opportunity – would contribute to closing the gap in education, employment and health between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and other Australians.
Australia’s first Indigenous surgeon, Dr Kelvin Kong
COVID-19 crisis in PNG amid vaccine rollout concerns in Australia
Australia has announced emergency COVID-19 support for Papua New Guinea (PNG) in response to fears of a “looming catastrophe” that could devastate the nation and its healthcare system and that also threatens communities in the Torres Strait and Far North Queensland.
Amid dire warnings from PNG and Australian health experts, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced today that Australia would urgently supply 8,000 AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines from Australia’s stock to start vaccinating PNG’s essential health workforce.
Torres Strait Regional Council Mayor Philemon Mosbytold ABC radio today that it could be “catastrophic” for local communities if the emergency wasn’t handled properly; however, others are hopeful the crisis can be averted, including National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) CEO Pat Turner.
“Our people are very much aware in the Torres Strait about the dangers of COVID and they’ll be taking every precaution,” Turner told ABC TV’s The Drum, saying she had “every confidence that Queensland Health will be able to manage this and control the movement of people, with the cooperation of the Torres Strait Island leadership”.
Image source: Australian Government Department of Health.
Do you work with or employ Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workers or Practitioners?
Diabetes is a significant health issue facing Indigenous Australians. The delivery of culturally safe health services, including by appropriately skilled Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander Health Workers and Health Practitioners, is vital to efforts to reduce the present and future burden of diabetes.
Marathon Health are currently looking at diabetes-specific educational opportunities for Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander Health Workers and Health Practitioners. We want to know where they get the information they need to enable them to provide diabetes care.
Your participation in this brief survey is entirely voluntary and your time is greatly appreciated. The results will be used to inform current availability of diabetes-related education and to identify opportunities in this area.
Please click the link to the survey to get started here.
Community-led action – the key to Close the Gap – AHHA
The 2021 Close the Gap Campaign report, released today, highlights the importance of strength- based, community-led approaches to improving health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
‘While Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples continue to show resilience in the face of poorer health outcomes, the effectiveness of strength-based, community-led action could not be clearer,’ says Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association spokesperson, Dr Chris Bourke.
‘The case studies in this year’s report showcase the leadership of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, communities and organisations throughout some of the biggest challenges of 2020, from bushfires to pandemics.
‘Community Controlled Organisations and Health Services successfully kept Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities safe during the COVID-19 pandemic and the rate of COVID-19 cases in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples was six times lower than the rest of the population. These community-led organisations will have a significant role to play in rolling out the COVID vaccine this year.
‘In July 2020, the new National Agreement on Closing the Gap, signed by all Australian governments and the Coalition of Peaks, signified a new way forward with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in control at the decision-making table for the first time.
‘The recommendations in this year’s report call for structural reform, self-determination and ongoing investment in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-led initiatives.
‘This year’s report solidifies the importance of the power of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, communities and organisations, to deliver culturally safe care and localised solutions,’ says Dr Bourke.
AHHA is a member of the Close the Gap campaign, an Indigenous-led movement calling for action on health equity for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
The Close the Gap Campaign report is available online.
Close the Gap campaign poster by Adam Hill. Image source: ResearchGate.
First Nations women left behind in cervical cancer elimination
Australia is tracking to become one of the first countries to eliminate cervical cancer, but Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women will miss out unless we act urgently to change this, according to a new study from The Australian National University (ANU) and Cancer Council New South Wales (CCNSW). Lead researchers, Associate Professor Lisa Whop (ANU) and Dr Megan Smith (CCNSW) and colleagues are calling for inequities to be addressed.
HPV (human papillomavirus) is a common sexually transmitted infection and is responsible for almost all cases of cervical cancer and 90 per cent of anal cancers and genital warts. To reach elimination, the World Health Organization (WHO) has released a strategy with three targets to be met by every country by 2030.
Read the full media release by Australian National University here.
Image source: MedPage Today website.
Closing the Gap vital to ensure health equity – AMA
The disparities between the health status of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and non-Indigenous Australians continue to fall by the wayside and closing the gap is vital to
ensure health equity in this country, AMA President Dr Omar Khorshid said today.
On National Close the Gap Day, the AMA encourages all Australians to take meaningful action in support of achieving health equity for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples
The AMA has actively called on the Government to address health inequities experienced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, that stem from the social and cultural
determinants of health.
“Closing the life expectancy gap between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and non-Indigenous people is everyone’s business: it is a national issue in which every individual,
organisation and group in Australia can play a role,” Dr Khorshid said.
“Every person’s health is shaped by the social, economic, cultural, and environmental conditions in which they live.
“Addressing the social and cultural determinants of health is vital if we want to see vast improvements in the health and well-being of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
“This is a national priority.
This morning NACCHO CEO Pat Turner joined a panel on ABC Radio National Breakfast to discuss how preparations are ramping up in earnest for the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. Many will get the jab as part of Phase 1B which begins on Monday 22 March 2021. At the coalface, health organisations are also busy tackling vaccine hesitancy and misinformation.
Yesterday afternoon NACCHO Deputy CEO Dr Dawn Casey also spoke on ABC radio about COVID-19. Along with human rights advocate and lawyer Teela Reid and public health expert Professor Fiona Stanley, Dr Casey spoke with Richard Glover on ABC Radio Sydney program Drive about the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health sector’s successful response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Reference was made to how programs run by Indigenous people work, but programs imposed on communities don’t. Professor Fiona Stanley said there is lots of evidence to show better outcomes are achieved when Aboriginal people control programs, saying “when you give First Nations’ people this power it works every time”.
In terms of ensuring Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities were kept safe from COVID-19, Professor Stanley said local services understand the context in which their people are living, they know who and where their Elders are and are immediately able to implement the best preventative strategies for them. Only 0.1 per 1,000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Australia have contracted COVID-19 compared to 1.1 per 1,000 for non-Indigenous Australians.
L-R: Dr Dawn Casey (NITV website), Teela Reid (National Indigenous Times), Professor Fiona Stanley (ABC News website).
Truth and justice commission announced
Victoria’s ‘truth-telling’ commission (launched earlier this week) has been owed for 233 years according to Victoria’s Deputy Premier, James Merlino who said “233 years of violence, dispossession and deprivation. 233 years of deliberate silence. We commit to telling the truth. We do so for the kids who never came home – and those who are still finding their way back. For those who were told they were not allowed to speak their own language, practice their own culture, know their own identity. For the families who lost loved ones in the massacres. For those who were made to feel like they didn’t belong to their own country. And for those who still feel this way. Today we commit to telling their truth.”
The Truth and Justice Commission is a shared commitment between the Victorian Government and the First Peoples’ Assembly of Victoria, the state’s first and only democratically-elected body for Aboriginal people. Named after the Wemba Wemba/Wamba Wamba word for ‘truth’, the Yoo-rrook Justice Commission will formally begin its work in the coming months. Held independently from Government, and afforded the full power of a Royal Commission, it will mark the beginning of a conversation long overdue, and a commitment to change. It will compel us to confront what’s come before. To acknowledge that the pain in our past lives on in our present.
To view the First Peoples’ Assembly of Victoria and Victoria State Government joint statement click hereand to view a related article in The Ageclick here.
Ms Atkinson, Ms Williams and Mr Merlino in Coranderrk for the announcement of the commission. Image source: The Age.
Final Call: COVID-19 in aged care facilities survey
Professor Lyn Gilbert and Adjunct Professor Alan Lilly have been commissioned by the Department of Health to undertake a national review of COVID-19 outbreaks in Australian Residential Aged Care Facilities (RACFs). RACF managers (or equivalent) are invited to complete a short online survey about the facility’s preparation for and, if an outbreak occurred, management of a COVID-19 outbreak.
The data will be collected and analysed by the University of Sydney. Survey responses will remain anonymous and no individual RACF will be identifiable. The feedback and analysis will be an invaluable contribution to the report and recommendations to the Department of Health.
The survey will be closing on 5:00 PMWednesday 17 March 2021.
If you haven’t completed the survey, please do take the time to share your thoughts and experiences with the review. It only takes 10-15 minutes. and can be accessed by clicking on this link.
Your input is critical to continuous improvement in the management of potential COVID-19 outbreaks in residential care.
Croakey journalist Melissa Sweet has written an overview of some of the key issues, including concerns that without proper funding and implementation commitments, the strategy will be “another worthy document which does not advance the health of Australians one iota”. Below is an excerpt from Melissa’s overview:
“OMG. The Federal Health Department has released a publication that finally utters the words so many have been waiting SO long to hear. The draft National Preventive Health Strategy cites a contributor saying that “climate change is likely to be the biggest challenge to health, wellbeing and economic prosperity”. The document goes on to note that human health is dependent on planetary health, and that environmental issues, such as extreme weather events and significant changes in climate systems, have had, and will continue to have, an impact on the health and wellbeing of all Australians.
“This is particularly true for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, who have close cultural, spiritual and social connections to the land. In order to prepare for future challenges and address the health of the planet, the impacts of climate change on physical and mental health need to be understood, especially through a health equity lens,” it says. But don’t get too excited. These words don’t come until page 40 and although climate change is mentioned a number of times throughout the document, the draft strategy does not convey a strong sense of urgency about the climate crisis and how it will undermine all other efforts in health prevention without urgent action.
To view overview in full click here and for further information about the National Preventive Health Strategy and how to make a submission click here.
Image source: Australian Government Department of Health.
Indigenous kids are losing sleep
New analysis has found that Indigenous Australian children suffer from sleep problems at higher rates than non-Indigenous children. Aboriginal children reported insomnia, severe daytime sleepiness and breathing difficulties while sleeping, researchers say. “Poor sleep can lead to health problems and lower levels of academic achievement,” according to Senior Research Fellow, James Cook University Yaqoot Fatima. “Indigenous children suffer from at higher rates of obesity, diabetes and respiratory problems than non-Indigenous children.” School attendance rates among Indigenous children are 10 per cent lower than non-Indigenous children, she said. “Understanding sleep health is very important,” Dr Fatima said.
To view the article 7 News article in full click here and to view a related article in The Conversation click here.
Image source: CRAICCHS website.
Media invalidates Indigenous experience of racism
Gunditjamara Elder Charmaine Clark has commented on the response by national mainstream media to a report tabled last week by the Victorian anti-vilification protections inquiry. She said “the media completely missed the point and instead we saw sensational headlines of Nazi Swastika banned or Nazi flags banned.” In the course of the Inquiry, Charmaine gave her personal testimony, representing the Victorian Indigenous community. Supported by organisations such as the Victorian Aboriginal Legal Service and Victorian Legal Aid Charmaine’s case mirrored other experiences of racial abuse and indifference that many Indigenous people experience throughout their lifetime.
Charmain said “One of the most persistent aspects of today’s discourse regarding racism in Australia, Charmaine said, is the very denial of its existence. Out of all the most sustained political campaigns operating in Australia, the political project of controlling and diminishing Indigenous human rights and dignity is by far the longest. It has cost us much, in lives and loss of access to country, high incarceration rates and alarming mental health and health statistics.”
“Our media choose to personify racists as those Nazi’s or Proud Boys, with the effect that all other forms of racial vilification are at best of lower importance and at worst – invalidated in the eyes of the public consuming this media. It highlights the systemic nature of how perceptions of racism are controlled, perceived and presented to the general public. This narrow definition of ‘racist’ paints a picture to the public and reduces the impact of our calls for action to address racism we uniquely experience.”
A new report from the Poche Centre for Indigenous Health has found institutional racism leads to a silencing of Indigenous knowledges, perspectives and cultural practices which are crucial to closing the gap in health for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Published in Public Health Research and Practice, a peer-reviewed journal of the Sax Institute, the report was authored by several Indigenous leaders and noted the reluctance in health care structures to address systemic and institutional racism against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
Lead author Dr Carmen Parter is a proud descendent of the Darumbal and Juru clans of the Birra Gubba Nation of Queensland. She also has South Sea Islander heritage and is a Senior Research Fellow at the University of Queensland’s Poche Centre for Indigenous Health. “Our paper gives voice to Indigenous communities who have consistently said that racism is a critical issue in the provision of health care, as is the incorporation of culture into the design of health care services,” said Dr Parter. “When an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander person accesses a health care service, there is always a level of mistrust and fear. A lot of people forget that our health system was one of the many institutions involved in the Stolen Generations that took children from their families and communities — which still happens today. Those stories resonate through our communities.” Dr Parter highlights the importance for health care providers in discussing and addressing racism.
To view the Indigenous National Times article in full click here and to view the related SaxInstitute media release Indigenous leaders call for an end to racism in the health systemclick here.
Image source: Mayi Kuwayu The National Study of Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Wellbeing website.
Race conversations program developer recognised
Bundjalung and Kullilli woman Melissa Browning has been recognised at the national HESTA Impact Awards for her contribution to improving health equity for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. The awards are a national celebration of health and community services professionals working to protect the future of the planet and its people.
Browning was a joint winner of the Individual Distinction Award for her work developing and implementing the Courageous Conversations About Race (CCAR) program at the Fold Coast Hospital and Health Service (GCHHS). Having a career in health spanning just short of two decades, Browning is one of the only Aboriginal women at GCHHS who sits in a senior role. She is the current Coordinator for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health and has held that position for over a decade. Working in the health sector as long as she has, Browning has faced her fair share of adversity.
“I have often been called challenging. I like to reframe that and step away from the angry Blak woman trope,” she said. “I’m not angry, I’m passionate. I do get framed as the challenging Blak woman because I do want to make that change, make that difference for my people. Aboriginal women are constantly taking the brunt for our community, there are so many inspiring women that have gone before me that have inspired me to keep going in doing what I do. The reason I am doing this is for my people, for the future generations — that is what holds me.”
Browning’s CCAR program originates from the Us but she has worked to contextualise it to an Australian audience. The program aims to talk about racism in a safe space. “Talking about race and racism is always very hard, but I think … to move forward we can’t not have those conversations,” she said.
To view the full article in the National Indigenous Times click here.
Melissa Browning. Image source: National Indigenous Times.
Tooth decay rates fall
A trial of a children’s dental health program in a remote Queensland Indigenous community showed the value of simple health interventions in promoting overall health in Indigenous communities, researchers said. Dental health is a serious problem for some Indigenous communities, with Indigenous children in rural Australia recording up to three times the rate of tooth decay compared with other Australian children. Associate Professor Ratilal Lalloo from the University of Queensland School of Dentistry led the study to find out what effect a simple intervention could have.
“We wanted to test an intervention to reduce that burden – the idea was to take what we considered the main preventative strategies against tooth decay and see what effect that had on ongoing dental health,” he said. “Primary health care workers such as community nurses and Aboriginal health workers can be trained to do these treatments, making them even more cost-effective.” Dr Lalloo said researchers hoped the findings would lead to evidence-based policies and practices in preventing tooth decay in remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities across Australia.
To view the article in the Brisbane Timesclick here and to view a more detailed article about the research in UQ Newsclick here.
Image source: The Conversation.
Shifting Gears Summit
What would our health systems look like if consumers were in the driving seat – if consumer experiences and leadership were enabled to seamlessly transform health and social care to better serve their needs? In Australia we do have successful models that have arisen from genuine consumer co-design, such as the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services.
A summit hosted by the Consumer’s Health Forum of Australia next week (17–19 March) starts off by asking speakers and participants why such reform is needed, and goes on to showcase success, and provide inspiration for future efforts. This is a virtual event with an international cast of speakers and participants.
It’s not too late to register for the Summit (and/or one of the two pre-summit masterclasses).
Health Consumers Qld is hosting a panel of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health leaders, including Ms Haylene Grogan, Dr Mark Wenitong, Associate Professor James Ward and Associate Professor Margie Danchin to answer questions from the community about the COVID-19 vaccine rollout.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health consumers from across Queensland are invited to attend another Q&A session.
The Q&A session will take place from 9:30–11:00 AM on Monday 29 March 2021 by Zoom videoconference and “watch parties”. We hope that groups of people may come together to join the on-line session so those without internet access and those who would prefer to be in a group, can come together for a “watch party” .
Australia’s COVID-19 Vaccination Program will commence from next week. People in priority groups who are most at risk and who need protection the most – will receive a vaccine first. The rollout will begin with the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, and following the approval by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) earlier this week, will include the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine from early March. The initial priority groups include aged care and disability care residents and workers, frontline healthcare workers, and quarantine and border workers. Minister for Health and Aged Care, Greg Hunt reaffirmed that Australia’s vaccine strategy is strong and on schedule, saying “Australia will begin rolling out the COVID-19 Vaccination program from next week.”
To view Minister Hunt’s media release in full click here.
Image source: Human Resources Director.
Facebook blocks Indigenous health groups
Indigenous health and media groups fear Facebook’s shutdown of community pages could have a dangerous impact on regional communities during the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines. Crucial sources of information have been lost as small media outlets, community noticeboards and health services have been caught up in Facebooks’ sweeping shutdown of Australian news. Facebook has blocked the feeds of Australian news companies on its site and is preventing users from sharing Australian news content. The tech giant is pushing back against the federal government’s plans to make it and Google pay for publishing Australian news content — a world-leading initiative the companies have fiercely resisted.
But the effect of Facebook’s ploy has extended well beyond major media companies. Several Aboriginal community-controlled health services have had their posts blocked, including organisations such as the Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance NT (AMSANT), Central Australian Aboriginal Congress (CAAC) and Danila Dilba Health Service. CAAC, a community-controlled primary health care provider, vented its frustration on Twitter at the timing of Facebook’s move, given the impending COVID-19 vaccine rollout to Indigenous communities, “A primary vehicle for health promotion, disabled at a crucial time,” it tweeted.
CAAC is a community-controlled health organisation for people living in Central Australia. Image source: ABC News website.
Removing information sources is corporate bullying
Tech giant Facebook’s decision to remove official sources of information, including Federal and State Government health pages, is irresponsible corporate bullying during a global pandemic, AMA President Dr Omar Khorshid said yesterday. Dr Khorshid outlined his concern over Facebook’s actions, “The world is battling the COVID-19 crisis, and Australia is days away from beginning the biggest mass vaccination program in our nation’s history. Yet, to save itself from having to pay a few million dollars to Australian news organisations for the work their journalists do, Facebook has decided to punish all Australians by removing their access to news on its platform. This irresponsible action – taken with no notice – has clearly had unintended consequences, with some health department pages taken down, but not others; with people unable to access the Bureau of Meteorology’s page on a day of bushfire and flood warnings. Facebook play a huge part in the lives of ordinary Australians and the company must take its responsibilities seriously.”
“It is truly ironic that Facebook has allowed health misinformation to be spread via its platform throughout this pandemic, yet today much of this misinformation remains on Facebook while official information sources are blocked. The AMA calls on Facebook to restore public access to official information, and to stop putting the health of Australians at risk in order to bully the Australian Government.”
Be vaccine ready – link digital government services
The Morrison Government is encouraging Australians to get ready for their COVID-19 vaccination by linking their digital government services, particularly their myGov and Medicare accounts. The call to link digital services follows the announcement that the Australian Immunisation Register (AIR) will be the record for all vaccinations for Australians and that record will form the basis of the vaccination certificate that all Australians will be able to use, including visa holders. The AIR has undergone significant upgrades in preparation for COVID-19 vaccine rollout. Almost 5.5 million immunisation history statements were securely accessed by individuals between October 2019 and August 2020. Your immunisation history statement will record your COVID-19 vaccinations.
Dr Kelvin Kong has produced a new COVID-19 video clip for the Australian Government Department of Health. He reminds everyone that anytime you feel unwell, even with mild symptoms, get tested immediately for COVID-19 and stay home until you get a negative test result. It is the best way to protect yourself and your community. To access the NSW Government Keep Our Mob Safe webpage click here.
Image source: Department of Health Facebook page.
Tailored vaccine information for Mob
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults have been identified as a priority group for the COVID-19 vaccination roll-out program. This is because of the higher risk of getting and developing serious illness from COVID-19 due to a number of factors. This may include a higher rate of chronic health conditions and in some cases crowded-living conditions, which increases the risk of spreading the infection.
COVID-19 can cause serious health issues. Getting a vaccine is a safe and effective way of protecting yourself from getting really sick from COVID-19. Encourage your family, Elders and community to get vaccinated so that they are protected from serious illness from COVID-19.
The COVID-19 vaccine is voluntary, available to everyone in Australia and free.
For more information you can access the Australian Government’s Department of Health’s Information for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples about COVID-19 vaccines webpage here.
Free on-line training to keep staff COVID-19 safe
COVID-19 has brought new challenges in the way we work, particularly for people who care for others day-to-day. You want to stay on top of current and relevant information to keep care recipients, staff and visitors safe. That’s why the Australian Government Department of Health has created online COVID-19 infection control training.
This program is free to everyone and especially recommended for people working in the healthcare sectors. People like Rachael Phillips, Manager of Birrelee Multifunctional Aboriginal Children’s Service – a long day care centre in Tamworth, NSW – have already seen results. Biralee’s staff are feeling more confident and able to carry out the centre’s policies to keep everyone safe. For them the reliable nature of the training made it essential. The short length and being able to do it online on a phone made it easy. And the interesting information made it stick.
For further information about the training click here.
Food insecurity post-pandemic
Wide-ranging systemic and structural changes are needed to ensure food and economic security for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, according to University of Queensland academics, Professor Bronwyn Fredericks and Dr Abraham Bradfield. Socioeconomic factors and the affordability of fresh food significantly impact what Indigenous peoples consume and what they are able to access. Dr Megan Ferguson and her colleagues conducted a study comparing the price of food baskets in urban supermarkets in Darwin and Adelaide and remote stores in the NT and SA, finding that products from remote locations cost an average of 60% more. In addition to this, Indigenous peoples earn an average weekly income of $250 less than non-Indigenous Australians. This means that in remote Australia – where employment opportunities are scarce and reliance on welfare a necessity – people must stretch their income just to feed themselves and their family. Purchasing cheaper and often unhealthy processed foods is one way to achieve this.
In the wake of the pandemic, we find ourselves in a situation where Indigenous health – which is often compromised by pre-existing (and preventable) health conditions – is placed at greater risk because the underlying issues informing food insecurity and wider socioeconomic disparities haven’t been addressed. Pat Turner, CEO of the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO), observes this in relation to Outback Stores, a government-owned company servicing 39 food and general stores across remote NT, WA and SA. In an interview for the ABC, Turner spoke of the government’s delayed and reactive response to food security that in some cases contributed to food shortages during the early days of the pandemic: “Given the fact that we have had Outback Stores for a long time and so on, I’m just really disappointed that the pre-planning wasn’t done to ensure ready access to healthy and affordable food. Our people need access to fresh produce and they need, now more than ever, healthy food to keep their immunity system up.”
Professor Bronwyn Fredericks & Dr Abraham Bradfield. Image source: Griffith Review.
Battle for the Kimberley
The Kimberley is set to be hotly contested at the upcoming March election, with a record number of Aboriginal candidates in the running for the 2.5 million square kilometre seat. The seat has been held by an Aboriginal person since 1980, when Ernie Bridge took the seat from Liberal incumbent Keith Ridge and became the State’s first Aboriginal member of Parliament.
To view the full article in the National Indigenous Times click here.
Clockwise: map of the seat of Kimberley, WA, Divina D’Anna (Labor), Naomi Pigram (Greens) & Millie Hills (Nationals). Image source: National Indigenous Times website.
1,000+ with cognitive disability detained each year
“Is the justice system being used as a de facto disability service, one that proceeds by punitive rather than therapeutic measures?” That was one of the questions posed by Senior Counsel Assisting Dr Kerri Mellifont at the opening day of two weeks of hearings by the Royal Commissioninto Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability into the experiences of people with cognitive disability in the criminal justice system.
The focus has been broadly welcomed, however the First Peoples Disability Network (FPDN) has said that the over-representation of First Nations People with cognitive disability in the criminal justice system – acknowledged by Commission Chair Ronald Sackville in his opening remarks – warrants its own dedicated First Nations hearing. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with disability are 14 times more likely to be imprisoned with one third reporting a disability, 50% reporting a history of psychosocial disability, and 25–30% of prisoners having an intellectual disability, said FPDN CEO Damian Griffis in a statement.
The Australian Government Department of Health is promoting NACCHO’s work to support and educate communities on practising safe and consensual sex via its website. To view the webpage in full click here.
Image source: Australian Government Department of Health.
Cashless debit card a paternalistic response
Amnesty International Australia Indigenous Rights Lead, Nolan Hunter said: “The cashless debit card was always just another paternalistic response to addressing issues that affect Indigenous people in this country. Approaches that have failed to make significant inroads into addressing intractable issues like poverty and discrimination. The report into the trial, conducted at great expense, found that people involved in the trial of the CDC felt discriminated against and shamed for receiving welfare payments. Shaming people doesn’t improve anyone’s situation, but condemns them to the same discriminatory treatment they’ve experienced for generations.”
To view Amnesty International Australia’s media statement in full click here.
The cashless debit card trial in Ceduna in 2016 was met with some community resistance. Image source: The Sydney Morning Herald.
SA pilot suicide prevention program
South Australia’s most vulnerable now have better access to support services thanks to a new pilot program to help survivors of attempted suicide. Minister for Health and Wellbeing, Stephen Wade, said the Way Back Support Service, a Beyondblue initiative delivered in collaboration between AnglicareSA and Central Adelaide Local Health Network (CALHN), provides one-on-one support to survivors after they leave hospital. “We are committed to tackling our suicide rate through offering appropriate services to those who need support and ensuring that people at increased risk of suicide don’t fall through the gaps, Minister Wade said. “Suicide is a complex issue, however we know raising awareness, breaking down stigma and encouraging help-seeking behaviours can save lives.”
To view the joint media release from the SA Minister for Health and Wellbeing and the SA Premier’s Advocate for Suicide Prevention and Community Resilience click here.
Aboriginal campaigner and suicide survivor Ingrid Cumming. Photo credit: Amelia Searson. Image source: Western Independent Stories from Curtin University’s Journalism Program website page.
Aboriginal Ear Health webinar
The Academy of Child and Adolescent Health (ACAH) The Academy of Child and Adolescent Health promotes the health and wellbeing of every newborn, child and young person in order that they may meet their maximum potential.
As part of the ACAH 2021 webinar series Associate Professor Kelvin Kong will deliver via Zoom a FREE special WHO World Hearing Day presentation on Aboriginal ear health from 7:00–8:00 PM (AEDT)Wednesday 3 March 2021. To register click here.
Associate Professor Kong is an amazing Australian and part of Australian medical history as the first Aboriginal surgeon, other than the tens of thousands of years of Ngangkari healers. He is one of Australia’s leading ear health experts as part of the Centre of Research Excellence in Indigenous Children’s Healthy Ears and the Australian delegation to the WHO World Hearing Forum. Join his webinar to hear about his journey, his work and the current innovations in ear health in Australia.
Image source: the social photographer website.
NSW – Wyong – Yerin Aboriginal Health Services Limited
Family Time / Case Work Support Worker x 1 FT (identified) – Wyong
Yerin Eleanor Duncan Aboriginal Health Service Ltd. is an Aboriginal Community Controlled organisation, which aims is to deliver holistic, comprehensive and culturally responsive health care, integrated social, emotional and community programs to the Aboriginal community.
Yerin is seeking a suitably qualified Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander individual to join their Ngaliya PSP team. In this role you will support child focused quality contact between a child, young person and their parent/family/kin who are in statutory Permanency Support Program Placements.
To view the position description and to apply click here. Applications close 5:00 PM Thursday 4 May 2021.
Random Acts of Kindness Week – 14–20 February 2021
The Random Acts of Kindness Foundation is a small non-profit organisation that believes all people can connect through kindness and that kindness can be taught. Scientific evidence shows the positive effects of doing kind acts for others as well as receiving or even witnessing kindness. Even the smallest act of kindness can change a life. Seemingly insignificant moments where a stranger helps another stranger can impact the rest of someone’s life. When a person tunes into kindness happening around them, the day seems a little bit brighter. The week seems a little more manageable.
Aboriginal Adelaide Crows star Eddie Betts is spreading the word about kindness with his book My Kind. The book’s main purpose is to convey messages about diversity, equality, acceptance, anti-bullying, caring for the environment and, most of all, kindness. You can view Eddie’s website Eddies’ Lil’ Homies spreading kindness & culturehere.
In 2021, the foundation in encouraging everyone to Explore the Good and Make Kindness the Norm. For more information about the Random Acts of Kindness Foundationclick here.
Adelaide Crows star Eddie Betts. Image source: The Advertiser.
Diabetes Australia recognises the outstanding contribution of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Nurse Diabetes Educators
Based on self-reported and measured results, Indigenous Australians are almost three times as likely to have diabetes as their non-Indigenous counterparts. According to the ABS 2018–19 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey around 64,100 of Indigenous Australians had diabetes
Tomorrow is World Diabetes Day and the NACCHO would like to highlight the disproportionate rates of diabetes amongst Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. In 2020, the theme ‘nurses make the difference for diabetes’ focuses on promoting the role of nurses in the prevention and management of diabetes. This is particularly important and necessary with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who are at risk or living with diabetes.
Diabetes Australia marked World Diabetes Day and NAIDOC Week celebrating the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Nurse Diabetes Educators. The theme for World Diabetes Day 2020 is Diabetes: nurses make the difference and the theme for NAIDOC week in 2020 is Always Was, Always Will Be. This theme recognises the fact that First Nations people have occupied and cared for this continent and themselves for over 65,000 years this. An important reminder for health organisations.
Diabetes Australia, CEO Professor Greg Johnson said First Nations nurses are playing a major role in helping to meet the challenges of the diabetes epidemic.
“First Nations Peoples in Australia are four times more likely to develop type 2 diabetes and much more likely to develop serious diabetes-related complications. The gap in health outcomes for indigenous Australians is greatest in diabetes,” Professor Johnson said.
“Despite the size of the challenge, we should take heart that we have a growing First Nations health work force who are working hard every single day caring for, and supporting, people with diabetes.
“There are approximately 3000 First Nations nurses in Australia, and I take this opportunity today to recognise their contribution and, on behalf of people with diabetes, say thank you.”
Speaking at the 20th anniversary of the Dr Charles Perkins Oration and Prize, hosted by the University of Sydney, Aboriginal leader Pat Turner AM said governments must continue to prioritise working in partnership with Indigenous organisations to achieve positive outcomes for First Nations people. Ms Turner used her keynote address to outline a blueprint for how Australia could move towards a future of greater acceptance and equality, saying “We have a shared future — Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians, together — and the two sides must come together to deliver lasting equality and recognition for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.”.
The Dr Charles Perkins Oration provides an esteemed platform for the discussion of race relations in Australia. In 2020, the theme is still relevant with the broader Australian public forced to once again reconcile with uncomfortable truths, just as it did in 1965 when Charles Perkins led a bus tour across NSW, known as the Freedom Rides. Over the past 12 months, issues such as the over-representation of Indigenous people in the criminal justice system, an ineffective Closing the Gap strategy, and examples of blatant disregard for culturally significant Aboriginal sites have laid bare the inequality still experienced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, Ms Turner said. “Lasting change can only come when it is embedded in the culture of organisations and traditionally Australian governments are … slow to adapt,” Ms Turner said. Ms Turner said Dr Perkins had led the fight against racial discrimination and segregation by mobilising the mainstream media and Aboriginal communities in unprecedented ways. “He wanted Aboriginal people, his people, to see that we deserved more, should demand more, and could be more,” she said.
To view a transcript of the Dr Charles Perkins Oration delivered by Patricia Turner AM at the University of Sydney on 12 November 2020 click here.
Pat Turner AM, delivering the Dr Charles Perkins Memorial Oration for 2020. Image source: ABC Sydney.
First Nations health champion
When she was growing up, Ngaree Blow used to read statistics about the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders and wonder, “does that mean I’m going to die early?” The figures showed First Nations people had, on average, had a significantly lower life expectancy than the rest of the population. They showed increased rates of heart disease, diabetes, renal disease and a host of other health issues. “That’s where my passion led to uncovering what those statistics actually mean, and how that links into our knowledge and understanding of health and wellbeing as Aboriginal people,” Dr Blow said.
Dr Ngaree Blow, director of First Nations health at the University of Melbourne’s medical school. Image source: ABC News.
Culturally trained female clinicians needed
More culturally trained female clinicians are needed to help reduce cervical cancer rates in remote Indigenous communities, a Mount Isa nurse says. The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare’s 2019 report found the incidence of cervical cancer in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women was more than double that of non-Indigenous women.
The age-standardised incident rate for Indigenous women aged 20–69 was 22.3 new cases per 100,000 compared to 8.7 new cases per 100,000 for non-Indigenous women according to data from 2011 to 2015. The report also said Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women were three times more likely to die from the disease. Clinical nurse consultant Rachel Tipoti said a lack of testing put Indigenous women at higher risk.
Rachel Tipoti is the only female Indigenous clinician trained in cervical screening, servicing NW Qld remote communities. Image source: ABC News.
Antenatal care links to baby outcomes
This report explores the factors associated with antenatal care use among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mothers, and how these may relate to baby outcomes – including how this varies spatially across the Indigenous Regions (IREGs) of Australia. Having no antenatal care was associated with increased odds of pre-term birth and perinatal death and late antenatal care was associated with increased odds of low birthweight and NICU/SCN admission. In 2016–2017 63% of Indigenous mothers attended antenatal care in the first trimester, up from 55% in 2014–2015. IREGs with higher rates of antenatal care were more likely to have lower rates of adverse mother and baby outcomes.
To view the Antenatal care use and outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mothers and their babies report click here.
Photo by Aboriginal photographer Bobbi-lee Hille.
Best Practice decision-making
There are thousands of agreements in place between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians, covering wide-ranging issues including land use, mining exploration and the provision of health services. But these agreements don’t always work, particularly where parties have little regard for formal agreement provisions, community standards or the spirit of ‘partnership’ with Traditional Owners. Agreement making processes must reflect that Indigenous Australians are more than ‘stakeholders’ and have a special relationship to Country as Traditional Owners. This includes ensuring appropriate representation in negotiations and transparency, as well as effective mechanisms for compliance and review.
The recent National Agreement on Closing the Gap sets out processes for representation, consultation and shared decision making. This demonstrates a commitment to improved partnerships between governments and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations and people.
Once the relevant groups are identified, it’s essential that resources are invested to ensure that the relevant Indigenous organisations can participate meaningfully in negotiations, and the subsequent implementation of agreements, including acting as a liaison between the parties.
NACCHO CEO Pat Turner AM. Image source: The University of Melbourne.
Nidjalla Waangan Mia celebrates 10 years
The Nidjalla Waangan Mia team only conducted 24 Aboriginal health checks in its first year of operation. However, 10 years on the service completed 312 health checks in the past year and helps 964 active clients. Celebrating the milestone anniversary during NAIDOC Week, Aboriginal community leader George Walley made a speech and played didgeridoo at the event. “Nidjalla Waangan Mia is quite an extraordinary place because it allows us to now work with families and clients to help them manage their own health – we’ve come a long way,” he said.
“Access is a big issue in terms of health and it’s important to break down the barriers that stop people accessing the health services they need,” she said. “So we have a transport service here, we have outreach services, and we do offer rapid appointments – all the eligible people that come here are offered an Aboriginal health check, offered prevention measures and health promotion measures to live the best lives they can. “Nidjalla now has 964 active clients, which is 56 per cent of the Aboriginal community in Peel based on the last census.”
Aboriginal community leader George Walley, GP down south chief executive Amanda Poller, and Nidjalla Waangan Mia client Keith Savage celebrating the organisation’s 10 year anniversary. Image source: Mandurah Mail.
Joe Williams promotes mental wellbeing
Focusing on what matters and reflecting on the ‘small victories’ could be the key to lessening the impact of COVID-19 on our mental health, according to former NRL player and mental health advocate, Joe Williams.
Joe has managed his mental wellbeing during the current global pandemic by focusing on some of the positive aspects to emerge from the significant and sudden changes to everyone’s life. He uses the extra time at home to connect more closely with family.
“It was my sign to slow down,” says Joe. “I don’t want to say it’s been a positive, but the whole experience has taught me the importance of family. Living more closely with each other and spending more time at home means thinking more about our own words, actions and behaviours.”
EC Australia is hosting a webinar from 12.00 pm-1.30 pm (AEDT) on Wednesday 18 November 2020 presenting the latest hepatitis C data from a national sentinal surveillance network of ACCHOs (ATLAS network) and the results of The Goanna Survey 2; a study of knowledge, risk practices and health service access for sexually transmissible infections (STIs) and blood-borne viruses (BBVs) among young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
Findings from a recent study on the barriers and enablers of hepatitis C treatment among clients of urban Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services in SE Queensland and how the Institute of Urban Indigenous Health (IUHI) have translated these research findings into service delivery. The webinar will also showcase micor-elimination approaches from two local ACCHOs based on outer regional and urban settings and one peer-based model of service delivery.
For further information about the webinar and to register click here.
Image source: NPS Medicinewise.
Strong Brother Strong Sister partners with Surfing Victoria
Surfing Victoria and the Victorian Indigenous Surfing Program have signed a strategic partnership with Victorian based Indigenous Youth Organisation, Strong Brother Strong Sister. The organisations have been working closely together since Strong Brother, Strong Sister was founded in 2017 by Cormach Evans, and have now formalised the partnership to continue surfing as a key part of their program.
The Victorian Indigenous Surfing Program is the key initiative of Surfing Victoria’s Indigenous Strategic Pillar and is one of the longest running Indigenous engagement programs in the country. Now in its 23rd year, the program uses Surfing as a way to connect Indigenous Victorians with the ocean while learning new skills, water safety knowledge and healthy habits.
Evans notes “Strong Brother Strong Sister and Surfing Victoria’s partnership will allow the two organisations excellence to grow further and thrive, ensuring First Nations children, youth and their families have the opportunities to connect with community, culture and positive health and wellbeing and a love for the ocean through surfing.”
Murdoch researchers are redesigning health care for Aboriginal people and the results may radically improve life outcomes for many. Healthy mothers, on the whole, give birth to healthy children and healthy mothers are supported physically and mentally by not only their communities, but their health practitioners and the health systems they deliver.
But what happens when the health system, which has been designed as a one size fits all approach, doesn’t fit?
Murdoch University’s Ngangk Yira Research Center, led by Professor Rhonda Marriott, has been working with Aboriginal communities throughout WA to identify the needs of Aboriginal women giving birth in metropolitan and regional centers. The project, Birthing on Noogar Boodjar, was conceived during a trip Rhonda took to Alice Springs in 2012 to discuss Australian country maternity services for Aboriginal women. The words Noongar Boodjar mean ‘the land that the Noongar people live on,” which is the SW corner of WA.
The Indigenous Australians’ Health Programme (IAHP) Yarnes (Yarning Action Reflection National Evaluation Systems) Team enacted a decision to pause engagement with potential evaluation partners on 31 March 2020 because of COVID-19 and agreed to restart once pandemic conditions permitted safe engagement. Over the last six months, the team remained in contact with potential partners, and requested advice about when and how it would be appropriate to recommence planning workshops.
Over this period, the IAHP Yarnes team facilitated a series of three evaluation-specific webinars with potential partners. The webinars provided an opportunity for two-way knowledge exchange. They enabled potential partners to engage more in-depth with the evaluation values, scope, proposed approaches and methods, and for the team to better understand the concerns and needs of partners and test different approaches for future engagement. The team is confident that planning workshops, to discuss and reach agreement on partner participation and the implementation of the evaluation in individual sites can be successfully delivered virtually.
For further information about the IAHP Yarnes restart click here.
NSW – Sydney – The George Institute for Global Health
PT or FT Research Associate – Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Program (identified position)
There is a very exciting opportunity for a Research Associate (project Manager) to join The George Institute for Global Health’s ‘Safe Pathways’ team that will work in partnership with families to focus on developing a discharge planning and delivery model of care that will: address institutionalised racism; facilitate access to ongoing specialist burn care; and enhance communication, coordination and care integration between families, local primary health services and the burns service at Westmead.
The George Institute’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Program cuts across content areas and is conducted within Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander ways of knowing, being and doing, with a focus on social determinants of health, health systems and healthcare delivery. We maintain an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander paradigm of health and healing (physical, emotional, social, cultural and spiritual) and a commitment to making impact through translation that influences policy.
For further information about the position and to apply click here.
The Pharmacy Guild of Australia’s Executive Director Suzanne Greenwood has released an editorial about the importance of NAIDOC Week as the annual celebration of the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples saying that NAIDOC Week is celebrated not only in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities but by Australians from all walks of life in what is a national coming-together in cultural recognition and respect.
This year’s NAIDOC Week theme Always Was, Always Will Be, aims to recognise that First Nations peoples have occupied and cared for this land for more than 65,000 years. Our First Nations peoples are spiritually and culturally connected to this country. At the Pharmacy Guild, NAIDOC Week is an opportunity to highlight the way community pharmacies work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, particularly in regional, rural and remote communities.
These pharmacies are going the extra mile in providing services to help address the documented poorer health outcomes experienced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Whether it be through visits to communities, special consultations or even ensuring labelling meets the needs of individual communities, pharmacists are at the forefront. And as the most accessible healthcare professionals, they have a unique role to play in addressing gaps and providing targeted services to improve the health outcomes of these Australians.
To view Suzanne Greenwood’s editorial in full click here and to read the two Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander pharmacist case studies click here.
Aboriginal intern pharmacist Lillian Emery and Aboriginal pharmacist student Louis Emery. Image source: The Pharmacy Guild of Australia website.
Dr Charles Perkins AO Memorial Oration
In 2001, the University of Sydney, in collaboration with the Koori Centre, launched an annual oration by a leading spokesperson within the field of Indigenous and non-Indigenous race relations. The Dr Charles Perkins AO Memorial Oration was established with the full support of the Perkins family and in acknowledgement of his tireless dedication to human rights and social justice for Indigenous Australians.
This year the 2020 Charles Perkins Memorial Oration, will be presented by Pat Turner AM in honour of her uncle. This event, hosted by Stan Grant and Isabella Higgins at The Great Hall at the University of Sydney, will be a timely look at the state of race relations in Australian over the last two decades.
You can watch the Dr Charles Perkins Oration via livestreamed from 8.00 pm – 9.00 pm (AEST) Thursday 12 Novemberfrom the following platforms:
Charlies Perkins travelling home on a Sydney bus in 1963. Image source: ABC News website.
Professor Milroy wins mental health prize
Pioneering Aboriginal psychiatrist, researcher and mental health champion Professor Helen Milroy has been named as a joint winner of the 2020 Australian Mental Health Prize. Professor Milroy, recognised as the first Indigenous Australian to become a medical doctor, shares the prestigious prize with leading psychiatrist and founder of the Black Dog Institute, Professor Gordon Parker.
The national prize, presented by the Governor General, His Excellency General the Honourable David Hurley AC DSC (Retd), recognises Australians who have made outstanding contributions to either the promotion of mental health or prevention/treatment of mental health issues. “I am hoping that through this award, we can shine a light on children’s mental health and provide whatever it takes to bring about their wellbeing and that of their families and communities.”
Image source: The University of Western Australian.
Jimmy Little Foundation supports remote health care
Based in Lightning Ridge, NSW the Jimmy Little Foundation is working to improve the quality of life and access to health care for remote and regional communities. The Foundation’s focus is promoting healthy outcomes for Indigenous Australians facing Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) and the demands of dialysis. It currently depends solely on donations to run its programs and advocacy ventures.
The late Jimmy Little, a proud Yorta Yorta man, musician and actor founded the Jimmy Little Foundation in 2006. After undergoing a kidney transplant, he used his performances as an opportunity to tell the communities he visited there is good quality of life after dialysis. Little’s daughter, Frances Peters-Little, is now Managing Director of the Foundation. She said she’s proud of the Foundation’s current board of directors, who are all Indigenous women.
Francis Peters-Little. Image source: ALTD Spirits website.
Football has power to improve health
The 2020 Indigenous Football Week (IFW20) – Monday 9 November until Sunday 15 November – will feature a program of events that will engage Indigenous communities and players across Australia. Organisers say IFW20 will highlight how football has the power to create pathways to improved physical and mental health, wellbeing, education, and community engagement for Indigenous players. The football community has come together to support the John Moriarty Football (JMF) initiative. JMF has partnered with Football Federation Australia (FFA), Professional Footballers Australia (PFA), SBS, NITV, and FOX Sports, to celebrate events held in JMF communities in NT, NSW and Queensland.
In a resent presentation at the Deniliquin Local Health Advisory Committee, Aboriginal health education officer Jill Owens, shared some information about her role and partnerships, ensuring the health and well-being of Aboriginal members in the community are addressed. Jill shared information about the ‘48 hour Follow Up’ initiative, a service for patients who have been in hospital for things such as diabetes, heart disease, lung disease or kidney disease, ensuring there is a check in on their well-being within 48 hours of discharge. Jill said ‘‘The value of this is that ongoing health needs can be identified and services put in place to support the patient’s recovery and prevent unnecessary admissions.’’
To view the full article in the Deniliquin Pastoral Times click here.
Image source: GP Synergy website.
Tresillian Mobile2U helps get babies to sleep
If you or someone you know has ever had trouble getting a baby to sleep you have probably heard of the amazing work of Tresiliian and the Mid North Coast Local Health District. Tresilian works with parents to get babies into a sleep routine and have been recognised for their innovative approach to delivering child and family health services to regional NSW. Hesta has announced Tresillian and Mid North Coast Local Health District as a finalist in the HESTA Excellence Awards in the Team Excellence – Community Services category. The Mobile 2U van goes to locations in communities such as the Kempsey Community Centre and the Council Chambers at Wauchope. Ms Carlon said the Tresillian 2U mobile service is innovative, and unique. Nurses are focussed on individual parenting plans and give focussed and individualised support.
Aunty Delya Smith, a Dunghutti woman, is the Aboriginal health worker in the team and close to twenty percent of families who access the service identify as Aboriginal. The van also has two child and family health nurses who work with families providing the specialised services in the locations that are easy for families to access in their own communities.
To read the full News of The Area article click here.
Image source: News Of The Area website.
Voluntary Indigenous Identifier Framework survey
Since 2002, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have been able to have their status recorded confidentially on a database called the Voluntary Indigenous Identifier (VII). The VII is primarily used to estimate use of the Medicare Benefits Scheme by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. This information, grouped together to produce statistical reports, appears in a range of publications and is used to:
improve policies focused on access to health programs and services,
target funding to specific areas of need,
improve access to benefits and payments, and
improve the Department of Health’s plans and policies for First Nations People.
The Framework for the Collection, Release, Use and Publication of Voluntary Indigenous Identifier Data (VII Data Framework) is a set of guidelines that direct how VII data is collected and used.
This NAIDOC Week the Australian Digital Health Agency (ADHA) has proudly joined a network of more than 1,100 corporate, government and not-for-profit organisations that have made a formal commitment to reconciliation through the Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) program. Agency CEO Amanda Cattermole PSM said the Agency’s reconciliation commitments include an emphasis on understanding and progressing digital health priorities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living across Australia, in rural, remote and metropolitan communities. “Technology can contribute to closing the gap by improving health care accessibility, quality and safety no matter where people live,” she said. “We can make health care more equitable and efficient using digital tools and technology like My Health Record, telehealth and electronic prescriptions.”
The Australia Government is investing $8.9 million to support improved management and use of Indigenous data collections. The funding will be used to create a data network that will transform how Australian social and cultural data is accessed, curated and analysed. The project will support the development of eResearch platforms and tools for visualisation, transcription and entity recognition. Minister for Education Dan Tehan said the investment would boost Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences (HASS) and Indigenous research capability and “will improve the reliability and consistency of data for Indigenous Australians to better support evidence-based Indigenous policy-making.”
The Healing Foundation CEO Fiona Petersen said that NAIDOC Week this year celebrates the knowledge and ancestral wisdom of First Nations Australians and the importance of being connected to it. “While we marvel at the resilience and survival of our cultures, we have to continue to acknowledge unaddressed trauma and the role it plays in our present and immediate future,” Ms Petersen said. “In our journey, we continue to listen and learn from those who have gone before us, often too soon, and survivors of trauma. This drives our efforts to support intergenerational healing for all generations to come.
“NAIDOC Week is an opportunity to share the truth about the ongoing trauma experienced by Stolen Generations survivors and their descendants – and shine a light on the importance of healing.” For Stolen Generations survivors, being removed from family, community and Country had a profound impact on their connection to identity, language and culture. This has resulted in a huge amount of grief and trauma. Ms Petersen said healing is a proven way to overcome trauma and intergenerational trauma and restore wellbeing, which can bring about long-term change for families and communities. “By healing trauma, we are tackling the source of social and health problems that are far more prevalent for our people,” Ms Petersen said.
To view the Healing Foundation’s media release click here.
The Healing Foundation CEO, Fiona Petersen. Image source: The Healing Foundation website.
NSW Aboriginal Deputy Children’s Guardian appointed
The head of Australia’s national peak body for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, Richard Weston will become the first Deputy Children’s Guardian for Aboriginal Children and Young People in NSW. Minister for Families, Communities and Disability Services Gareth Ward said Mr Weston, who is currently the CEO of Secretariat of National Aboriginal and Islander Child Care (SNAICC), brings more than 25 years of experience to the role. “Mr Weston’s wealth of experience working in peak and Indigenous-controlled organisations has delivered significant social, health and economic outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and communities,” Mr Ward said.
To view the NSW Government Minister for Families, Communities and Disability Services media release click here.
Richard Weston. Image source: @INDIGENOUSX website.
Cashless debit cards for welfare recipients are not worth the human cost, senators have been told. The Morrison government plans to make the cards permanent in existing trial sites and move welfare recipients in the NT and the Cape York onto the system. A Senate inquiry probing the enabling legislation has heard from academics, charities and Indigenous groups.
Anti-card campaigner Kathryn Wilkes said the system was cruel and demeaning. She told senators the scheme – which limits most welfare spending – had caused stress and mental anguish. “This program is not worth the human cost,” Ms Wilkes said. Fellow campaigner Amanda Smith said the government was legislating segregation. “Whatever the government wants to label what they’re doing, they’re creating and investing in a system of permanent social and economic apartheid,” she said.
Aboriginal Peak Organisations Northern Territory chief John Paterson said the public money earmarked for making the card permanent would be better spent on Indigenous housing, education and health. “We want to get people off the welfare treadmill, we want to create jobs,” he said.
Supermarkets and food retail stores are the principal source of people’s food and beverage needs and are therefore a prime setting to implement changes designed to increase the purchase of healthy food and decrease the purchase of unhealthy food in order to improve population diet and health. There is growing awareness that where foods are placed in shelves is an important marketing strategy.
A recent study from NZ, involving a retailer/academic collaboration, explored the impact of more prominent shelf placement of healthier products. However, the study found that placing healthier breakfast cereals at adult eye level had no impact on sales. Failure to show any meaningful outcomes is not uncommon in this research area, so it is great to see some results from a study with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities in remote Australia. The Lancet has just published a study led by Professor Anna Peeters at Monash University in conjunction with the Arnhem Land Progress Aboriginal Corporation (ALPA)which owns and manages community stores in remote Australia and has looked at the implementation of the co-designed Healthy Stores 2020 strategy.
The Coalition of Peaks (CoPs) is a representative body of around 50 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled peak organisations and members that have come together to change the way Australian governments work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Community-controlled organisations work for and are accountable to their communities, not governments. They believe Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples should have a meaningful say on policies and programs that impact on them through formal partnerships with Australian governments at all levels.
The CoPs and all Australian Governments signed a new National Agreement on Closing the Gap in July this year. This was an historic and exciting moment because it was the first time a national agreement about First Nations people had been made in partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, through their community-controlled organisations.
To find out more about the National Agreement on Closing the Gap go to the Coalitions of Peaks website here.
NACCHO CEO honoured for COVID-19 response
The Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association (AHHA) has announced it is jointly awarding the 2020 Sidney Sax medal for outstanding contributions to the development and improvement of Australian healthcare. Patricia Turner AM, CEO NACCHO is one of the award recipients for the significant leadership and proactive response as the COVID-19 pandemic began to impact Australia’s health system and communities. Pat Turner ensured that the PM, state premiers and chief ministers took urgent action to protect communities, close down access and prioritise safety to prevent community transmission of COVID-19. Ensuring that governments worked in partnership with communities, and placing culture at the heart of preventative measures, were key to successfully keeping communities safe. In comparison to the devastating incidence of COVID-19 in Indigenous communities abroad, rates of COVID-19 in First Nations peoples in Australia remain proportionately lower than the rest of the population. This successful model of community leadership will have long-term positive impact for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities working in partnership with governments.
Patricia Turner AM Image source: Alice Springs News.
Palawa woman new AIDA President
The Australian Indigenous Doctors’ Association (AIDA) has announced a new Board of Directors, including the elections of Dr Tanya Schramm, a Palawa woman, as the AIDA President. Tanya is a former AIDA Board member, a General Practitioner and also works for the University of Tasmania as a senior lecturer in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health. Vice President – Dr Simone Raye is a proud Bardi Jabbir Jabbir woman from the Kimberley. Simone was closely involved with the initial meetings that lead to the formation of AIDA. Simone hopes to strengthen relationships with specialty colleges to help First Nations students and trainees achieve Fellowship and be leaders within their chosen field.
Dr Tanya Schramm. Image source: Australian Indigenous Doctors’ Association website.
Food security essential for remote communities
Dietitians Australia is calling for the Government to ensure all Australians have access to affordable, safe, and nutritious food, regardless of their location. This comes ahead of the final report from the Senate Inquiry into Food Pricing and Food Security in Remote Indigenous Communities. Submitting a written response earlier thisyear, Dietitians Australia proposed 16 key recommendations, including the need to develop and implement a national strategy on food security, as well as elevating the status of community stores to an essential service.
“A National Food and Nutrition Security Strategy which includes local voices from remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, is vital to creating practical solutions to support adequate food access,” said Robert Hunt, CEO of Dietitians Australia. “Local food stores often provide the only source of food available for purchase in the community.
To view Dietitians Australia’s media release click here.
Image source: National Indigenous Times.
GPs encouraged to take up mental health training
The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) is encouraging GPs in rural and remote Australia to undertake new mental health training to help children who’ve experienced disasters. It comes as GPs across the nation are dealing with increasing mental health presentations in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and last summer’s devastating bushfires, and with the next fire season approaching. There are two e-learning courses from Emerging Minds, National Workforce Centre for Child Mental Health available to RACGP members on the website: https://www.racgp.org.au/special-pages/login. The first builds knowledge and skills in child mental health assessment and management in general practice, and the second focuses on supporting children and families after natural disaster or community trauma – including in the immediate aftermath, short and long term.
The impact of institutional racism in healthcare, and the steps organisations can take to improve health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples, is just one of the topics being explored as part of Dietitians Australia’s inaugural webinar series for NAIDOC week (8–15 November 2020). Dr Chris Bourke, a Gamilaroi man and Strategic Programs Director at Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association, will be calling on the healthcare sector to reflect on their governance and structure to improve the outcomes of their healthcare for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
Dr Bourke, who is Australia’s first Indigenous dentist, highlights the importance of engaging both Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and non-Indigenous people in organisational leadership positions, ensuring a strong foundation to provide equitable healthcare. “Statistics show that just under 50% of the factors that contribute to poor health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are related to racism, intergenerational trauma and lack of cultural safety. We all play a role in reducing this inequality, but to influence change within an organisation, First Australians must be included within the governing team,” said Dr Bourke. Without action, the ongoing impacts of institutional racism are alarming.
To view the Dietitians Australia media release, including details of how to register for their NAIDOC Week events click here.
Image source: SBS NITV website.
Music’s role as health determinant
A proud descendant of the Wiradjuri First People of Australia, Griffith University researcher Associate Professor Naomi Sunderland (Queensland Conservatorium Research Centre), has been awarded $820,000 Australian Research Council (ARC) funding (including a Discovery Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Award) for the project titled ‘The role of First Nations’ music as a determinant of health’.
This project aims to track how First Nations’ music and musicians are shaped by, and in turn may shape, powerful social determinants of health in Australia. The project responds to calls for health approaches that are strength based, First Nations-led, and culturally secure.
Richie Jarrett. Image source: Guardian News.
Sista Connections support college students
Young Aboriginal women at Hastings Secondary College are being empowered to take charge of their own futures. The recently launched program Sista Connections aims to identify a student’s individual strengths and nurture those so they grow into tomorrow’s leaders and role models. Sista Connections provides academic support, empowerment through entrepreneurialism and employment, wellbeing and community connections aims to reduce barriers that may prevent Aboriginal girls from completing their education and reaching their full potential.
The program will run across both the Port Macquarie and Westport campuses. Deputy principal Hastings Secondary College, Jacynta Moylan said socially, Aboriginal girls fall behind non-indigenous students in accessing health, education and employment opportunities.
To view the Macquarie Port News article click here.
Image source: Macquarie Port News.
New White Ribbon Australia strategic framework
White Ribbon Australia (WRA) has announced the completion of its WRA Strategic Framework 2020–2024. WRA has ambitious new aspirations, to move from an awareness-raising organisation, to one focused on taking real, direct action, to eliminate men’s violence against women. There are number of key changes to the new strategy, including their: vision to become a nation where every woman is free from all forms of men’s violence and abuse; purpose to better reflect the importance of the social movement and the need to adopt a community-led approach in reshaping the understanding of what constitutes healthy and respectful relationships; and values to better align to how we will hold ourselves to account as custodians of the movement and to provide a clear framework on how we work with our constituents, partners and the community.
To view the White Ribbon Australia Strategic Framework click here.
Indigenist Health Humanities to be developed
University of Queensland (UQ) Pro Vice-Chancellor (Indigenous Engagement), Professor Bronwyn Fredericks has welcomed $7.1 million of new Commonwealth funding dedicated to improving prospects for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, including around $4 million for UQ projects. “UQ has been granted three of the nine new research grants announced under the Federal Government’s Australian Research Ccouncil (ARC) Discovery Indigenous scheme for 2021,” Professor Fredericks said. Associate Professor Chelsea Bond has been granted $1.7 million to lead one of the projects, the development of Indigenist Health Humanities as a new and innovative field of inquiry, building an intellectual collective capable of bridging the knowledge gap that hinders current efforts to close the gap in Indigenous health inequality.
Associate Professor Chelsea Bond. Image source: ABC News website.
Victorian Aboriginal MP champions public health
Yorta Yorta woman Sheena Watt has become the Victorian Labor Party’s first female Aboriginal Member of Parliament. “I lived in Melbourne, we moved around a lot. Like many people we had an insecure housing situation … Mum and Dad were doing it tough,” said Watt. “My Dad was sick he had a disability, one that came about overnight. It was one that placed my Mum, my sister and I as carers. “Not only caring for my Dad, I also cared for nannas and other Elders in my family. It was actually quite a profound experience. I learnt a lot about me, my own family and our family values and cultural values through that experience.”
Watt’s early life established her passion for public health. “I felt like living in the very vulnerable situation that we were, just how important it is to have a strong public health system that really supports everybody that needs it, when they need it and where they need it,” she said. “I really love Aboriginal community control … I believe in strong, civil society, I believe in strong organisations that are connected to and accountable to Aboriginal community.”
TAC is looking for a chef for a statewide operation promoting the use of native foods as part of an Aboriginal cultural program. Leading the food sourcing, preparation and presentation of the cultural foods, you will be part of a small team presenting Tasmania Aboriginal culture in various locations.
For a position description and application details click here. Applications close Friday 13 November 2020.
Senior Health Policy Officer
A Senior Health Policy Officer is required for a statewide position based in Nipaluna/Hobart. Reporting to the Chief Executive, the position will lead a small team to research, analyse, and draft position papers and policy responses to a variety of Aboriginal health and social policy issues. The position will also lead the organisation’s Training Unit and may represent the organisation with external stakeholders.
For a position description and application details click here. Applications close Friday 20 November 2020.
Casual Chef/Cook – daytime hours and weekends (no split shifts or night shifts)
Rumbalara Aboriginal Co-operative Ltd. has a vacancy for a casual Chef/Cook within it Rumba’s Elders Care Facility services area. To view a job description click here.
Applications close 4.00 pm Tuesday 24 November 2020.NSW – Taree – Biripi Aboriginal Corporation Medical Centre
Biripi Aboriginal Corporation Medical Centre (Biripi ACMC) is a community controlled organisation funded by numerous agencies and levels of government. Biripi ACMC is based in Taree NSW and employs over 100 staff members to provide a wide range of culturally appropriate health and well-being services covering communities across the Mid-Northern NSW Region. Biripi ACMC is seeking to fill the following vacancies. Click on the name of the position to access further information about Biripi ACMC and a job description.
The new National Agreement on Closing the Gap released in late July this year, was met with mixed reactions. Featuring 16 new socioeconomic targets and the commitment to shared decision-making between government and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander representatives, it reset the original 2008 targets after little year-to-year progress. The Coalition of Peaks, a representative body made up of approximately 50 Indigenous community-controlled organisations, believes progress on the targets over the last 12 years didn’t progress as far as was hoped, as governments didn’t follow through with their commitments.
Lead Convenor of the Coalition of Peaks and CEO of the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation, Pat Turner AM said targets alone do not drive change. “The National Agreement gives our people and the wider Australian public a birds eye view of every government’s level of commitment to actually close the giant chasm of need,” she said.
To read the National Indigenous Times article click here.
Image source: National Indigenous Times website.
SNAICC expresses out-of-home care concerns
The Secretariat for National Aboriginal and Islander Child Care (SNAICC) is deeply concerned about the increasing number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in out-of-home care being placed away from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families and carers, as revealed in a new report released by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) today. The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Child Placement Principle Indicators 2018–19 report measures progress towards implementing the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Child Placement Principle – a principle that aims to ensure the value of culture to the safety and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children is embedded in policy and practice.
Research for the Australian Homelessness Monitor 2020 reveals at least 33,000 rough sleepers and other homeless people have been booked into hotels and other temporary accommodation during the COVID-19 crisis. COVID-19 triggered multimillion-dollar commitments by state governments to tackle homelessness, with several states pledging funds and support to move beyond this short-term fix to ensure former rough sleepers find long-term housing. These are commendable actions in a long-neglected policy area, even if largely inspired by public health anxieties rather than concern for the welfare of people without a home. Such action should be part of comprehensive national housing strategy to design and phase-in the wide-ranging reforms of taxes and regulations needed to rebalance Australia’s housing system and tackle homelessness at its source.
Homeless camp in the centre of Sydney. Image source: The Conversation website.
COVID-19 wellbeing survey seeks youth voice
The Menzies School of Health Research Aboriginal and Islander Mental health initiative (AIMhi) Stay Strong team is looking for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth between 16–25 years old to take part in to understand the impacts of the Coronavirus pandemic on mental health and wellbeing.
HAVE A YARN WITH THE TEAM – the team would love to hear about your experiences during the pandemic. Join them for a casual interview in-person (in Darwin) or on Zoom! Each interview participant will receive a $30 voucher! For more information about the research click here and here and to express your interest in participating click here.
UNABLE ATTEND AN INTERVIEW? – you can still take part by completing this 10 minute survey and go in the draw towin a $20 voucher!
Not you, but know someone who might be interested?
Please share this information to spread opportunities for young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to have a voice in Australian research.
Trei and Karlie Stewart. Image source: ABC news.
Every Doctor, Every Setting National Framework
The Every Doctor, Every Setting: A National Framework was officially launched last week, as part of a national commitment to prioritise the mental health and wellbeing of Australian doctors and medical students. The framework was developed under the guidance of a national working group and in consultation with doctors, doctors in training and medical students in addition to a review of best practice evidence. It aims to guide coordinated action on the mental health of doctors and medical students through target areas including – improving training and work environments, recognising and responding to those needing support, improving the response to doctors and medical students impacted and improving the culture of the medical profession to enable wellbeing and coordinated action and accountability.
The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Worker Association (NATSIHWA) is holding a membership drive for the month of October 2020. NATSIHWA are inviting all student, associate and full members of NATSIHWA to refer new members. By referring a new member, you will assist others to discover the benefits of becoming a NATSIHWA member and get rewarded with a special gift pack for every successful referral. Also, there is a chance to win a Google Home Mini, for the most number of referrals!
The offer is valid for the month of October 2020 and applications must be made online.
Better healthcare in hospitals for our people webinar during NAIDOC Week 2020
The Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association will be holding a free webinar Better healthcare in hospitals for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in acknowledgement of NAIDOC Week 2020 at 10.30 am Thursday 12 November 2020.
AHHA would like to invite you and any other interested parties to register here, where you will also find more information on the webinar and presenters.
Image source: the footprints network webpage.
Racism embedded in healthcare system
Why do vast gaps exist between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians when it comes to health outcomes? What would you say if someone told you that racism is embedded in Australia’s healthcare system, and that the system itself was perpetuating inequities? Professor Roianne West is taking on the immense task of unravelling racism in Australia’s complex health system through innovative training and education, and inspiring a generation of healthcare workers to understand the impact of racism on the health outcomes of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
To read the full Hospital and Healthcare article click here.
Professor Roianne West, Griffith University. Image source: Hospital and Healthcare website.
Training to support Stolen Generations survivors
The Marumali Journey of Healing Model developed by Aunty Lorraine (Darcy) Peeters, a survivor of the removal policies herself. is unique, original and unparalleled. Since 2000 the Marumali Program, that is based on the nationally recognised best practice, good practice healing model, has been delivered to groups and individuals, with an aim of increasing the quality of support available to Stolen Generations, their families and their communities. Groups include service providers in the Aboriginal community controlled sector and Government sector and survivors within community and the prison system.
Wingali Marumali Pty Ltd is running two courses in December:
Marumali Program for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Service Providers (4 days) – 1–4 December 2020, Brisbane.
Marumali Program Trauma-Informed Care For Stolen Generations Workshop for Non-Aboriginal Service Providers (2 days) – 7–8 December 2020, Brisbane.
For more information on the courses and to register click here.
Aunty Lorraine Peeters and her daughter Shaan. Image source: ABC All In The Mind webpage.
Mental health support network for our mob
Black Dog Institute is one step closer to developing a network to support mob struggling with mental ill-health. Led by the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Lived Experience Centre, the network is being developed through extensive consultation with communities across the nation.
Head of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Lived Experience Centre, Quandamooka woman, Leilani Darwin. said “We have had an opportunity to host some national online yarning circles with mob who have lived experience and I feel so privileged to hear their stories and their journeys. Even though we know how much our communities are impacted by suicide and mental ill-health, when you have families there that are losing 20 people in a year in the family group … the fact they can [attend and] talk about it is powerful.”
To view the full article in the National Indigenous Timesclick here.
Image source: ABC News website.
Health worker support essential
The national peak body Mental Health Australia, has released results of a survey on the mental health and wellbeing of healthcare professionals across the country. The research looks at how the pandemic has affected healthcare professionals on a personal level, and what strategies they have used to maintain mental health and wellbeing over the past six months. Over 70% of healthcare professionals stated that COVID-19 restrictions have impacted their mental health and wellbeing in a negative way. 4 out of 5 say that working in healthcare during the pandemic has increased the amount of stress and pressure they experience in the workplace.
To view the Mental Health Australia’s media release click here.
Moorundi ACCHS Aboriginal Health Workers Alfie Gollan, Njirrah Rowe, Dorothy Kartinyeri. Image source: The Murray Valley Standard.
Social determinants of health link to kidney disease
The Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet has produced an updated Review of kidney health among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Kidney disease is a serious health concern for people living in Australia with one in three adult Australians at an increased risk of developing chronic kidney disease (CKD). Australians diagnosed with CKD regularly suffer poor health outcomes and a compromised quality of life. CKD can be associated with other chronic diseases like diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people experience an increased burden of kidney disease, particularly those living in remote communities. HealthInfoNet Director Neil Drew says, “The purpose of this review is to provide a comprehensive synthesis of key information on kidney health among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Australia and provide evidence to assist in the development and delivery of policies, strategies and programs”.
To view the Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet media release in full click here.
Image source: RACGP website.
Australia-wide – Hearing Australia
Hearing Australia is looking to fill the two Hearing Assessment Program (HAP) positions listed below. The HAP is a major initiative to reduce hearing loss in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children aged 0-6 years living in regional and remote communities.
FT Aboriginal Manager Capability Strategy HAP (fixed term)
The Aboriginal Manager Capability Strategy HAPposition is a national role responsible for the detailed design and implementation of the capability strategy with a key focus of building capability in Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services. The capability strategy contains 3 key areas- ensuring services have the resources (human and physical) to do ear and hearing health checks on 0–3 year olds; that services have staff who are competent to undertake these checks and that services have a system in place to provide checks at regular intervals during a child’s first 3 years of life. To view the job description click and to apply click here.
FT Manager Clinical Operations HAP (fixed term)
The Manager Clinical Operations HAPposition is a national role responsible for ensuring that HAP-EE has sufficient clinical staff to meet its national service targets. The Manager will work closely with other HAP-EE managers to ensure that clinical staff and clinical equipment are deployed effectively across all HAP-EE sites, hearing centres and tele-health services to complete assessments and to build capability in participating services. To view the job description click and to apply click here.
Applications for both positions close on Friday 30 October 2020.
Adelaide – CRANAplus
FT or PT Senior Psychologist: Mental Health & Wellbeing Service (permanent)
CRANAplus is the Peak Professional Body for Health Professionals working in remote and isolated areas across Australia. We exist to ensure the delivery of safe, high quality primary healthcare to remote and isolated areas of Australia. Responsible for the development and delivery of high-quality psychological interventions and supports to Health Professionals and their families, across Australia. We are seeking an experienced Practitioner who has a passion to: – Provide counselling care and interventions through CRANAplus’ Bush Support Line – Grow clinical resources, materials, and workshops available to remote and rural Health Professionals to support their wellbeing and professional knowledge growth. – Contribute to new innovations, designs, and position CRANAplus as a specialist service.