NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: NACCHO CEO fully vaccinated today

feature tile text 'ACCHO CEO Pat Turner AM receives seond dose of COVID-19 vaccine TODAY' phot of Pat Turner at Winnunga

NACCHO CEO fully vaccinated today

Our NACCHO CEO Pat Turner AM, the daughter of an Arrente man and a Gurdanji woman, is fully vaccinated today!

Pat received her second dose of her vaccine at Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health and Community Services earlier today and urges all of you to follow up on your second dose of the vaccine in order to safely receive the level of protection from COVID-19.

“Please get your COVID-19 shots! It’s not just important for us as individuals but it’s important for all members of our families and our communities. The more people have the vaccination the safer we will be.

It doesn’t matter if you already have existing health conditions, don’t use that as an excuse not to have the COVID-19 vaccine. In fact it’s more important that you do have it! Any concerns that you have you must talk to the doctor at our health services.”

photo of Pat Turner, NACCHO CEO, receiving COVID-19 vaccine at Winnunga with text 'Pat Turner AM CEO, NACCHO' & COVID-19 VACCINATION footer with NACCHO logo

Diabetes Australia partners with ACCHO

Diabetes Australia is partnering with Carbal Medical Services (Carbal), a Toowoomba and Warwick based Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health organisation, to reduce diabetes-related vision loss and blindness in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people on the Darling Downs. The Diabetes Australia – Carbal partnership involves the promotion of the national eye screening initiative for people with diabetes KeepSight. KeepSight is an eye check reminder program run by Diabetes Australia which encourages people with diabetes to have regular eye checks. The program will use locally developed, culturally appropriate resources and information.

To help raise awareness of this important program Diabetes Australia has partnered with Indigenous Hall of Fame star and Gamilaroi man Roger Knox. Roger is asking people to register with KeepSight to reduce their risk of diabetes-related blindness.

You can read more about the project here and sign up for KeepSight at here and never lose sight of future eye checks.

You can also access the Diabetes Australia and Carbal Medical Services joint media release herel.

country singer Roger Knox standing in front of Carbal Medical Services sign

Country singer Roger Knox.

Australia’s human rights response disappointing

Amnesty International Australis says the Australian Government’s decision to ignore key recommendations from UN member states aimed at improving its human rights record is extremely disappointing. The recommendations, made at the UN Human Rights Council’s review of Australia earlier this year, found that 31 countries called for the Government to raise the minimum age of criminal responsibility, while 47 wanted Australia to stop offshore processing and mandatory detention of asylum seekers and refugees.

Amnesty International Australia is deeply disappointed the Australian Government has rejected both these recommendations and calls on it to immediately review its position. National Director, Samantha Klintworth, said: “In 2019–20, 499 children aged between 10 and 13 years were detained by Australia in the youth justice system – 65% of those children detained were First Nations children – even though First Nations children constitute only 5% of the population of that age.

To view Amnesty International’s media release click here.

The Law Council of Australia has also commented on this topic: “Australia’s appearance at the UN Human Rights Council on Thursday 8 July, in which a formal response to the recommendations received during the third cycle Universal Periodic Review (UPR) will be presented, puts a spotlight on Indigenous rights during NAIDOC Week.

The Law Council of Australia believes that it is imperative that First Nations peoples are heard on the issues that affect them, particularly at the federal level, and calls on Australia to enshrine a First Nations Voice to Parliament in the Constitution; take immediate measures to address the overincarceration of First Nations peoples; and raise the minimum age of criminal responsibility to at least 14 years. The Law Council urges the Australian Government to clearly commit to the constitutional entrenchment of the Voice, as called for in the Uluru Statement from the Heart and the subsequent recommendations of the Referendum Council.”

To view the Law Council of Australia’s media statement click here.

Image source: Amnesty International.

Hearing Australia unites with First Nations people

This NAIDOC Week Hearing Australia is uniting with First Nations people across Australia to help heal Country and the hearing health of Frist Nations children. Kim Terrell, the Managing Director of Hearing Australia said: “Hearing Australia is dedicated to improving the hearing health of all Australians and preventing avoidable hearing loss in the community.

1 in 3 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children are affected by ear disease and hearing loss⁺. With the support of many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health services across Australia, we’ve helped over 8,000 First Nations children aged 0–6 in 240 communities over the past 12 months. This is a key priority for us given 30% of these children had undiagnosed middle ear infections, while 25% had some form of undiagnosed hearing loss and were placed into specialist referral pathways.

I’d like to thank the amazing ear health workers involved around the country for their support. It’s terrific for us to be able to work so closely with them. Together, we’re seeing great progress in helping more children to listen, learn and talk.”

To view Hearing Australia’s press release click here and to listen to HAPEE Community Engagement Program Officer Denise Newman, who knows from personal experience the importance of checking children’s hearing at an early age and has an important to message to share with the community click on the video link below.

New Indigenous medical scholarships

A $1million gift from generous benefactors to Flinders University will establish an Indigenous student scholarship to increase the numbers of medically qualified Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander professionals working in their communities. The Calthorpe Wong Indigenous Medical Scholarship has been established through the generosity of retired ophthalmologists Mary Calthorpe and George Wong, who previously worked at the Flinders Medical Centre, the Repatriation General Hospital at Daw Park and the Marion Road Eye Clinic.

The endowed gift donation is expected to provide $80,000 annually to fund up to four scholarships each to the value of up to $20,000 in an academic year (or in future years a mix of new and ongoing scholarships) to assist Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander candidates to study medicine.

Flinders University Vice-Chancellor Professor Colin Stirling says it’s especially fitting that the scholarship has been made possible during NAIDOC Week: “We’re incredibly grateful to Drs Calthorpe and Wong for their determination to make a difference in this practical and meaningful way. It’s a deeply significant moment to be able to initiate a new scholarship that will be able to support so many Indigenous students simultaneously.”

To view the Flinders University media release here.

Associate Professor Simone Tur, George Wong, Mary Calthorpe, Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Indigenous) at Flinders University

Associate Professor Simone Tur, George Wong, Mary Calthorpe, Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Indigenous) at Flinders University.

CTG PBS Co-payment changes positive

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients registered under the Close the Gap (CTG) Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) Co-payment program will now have easier access to subsidised medicines. Changes that came into effect on 1 July 2021 mean eligible patients will have access regardless of their geographical location, their chronic disease status, or whether their prescriber is enrolled in the Practice Incentive Program.

Professor Peter O’Mara, Wiradjuri man and Chair of RACGP Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health, welcomed the changes as a ‘positive step forward’. ‘Expanding access to Close the Gap scripts for all patients regardless of where they live, where they got the prescription from and their chronic disease status will make a real difference,’ he said. ‘It is much more straightforward and that can only be a good thing.’

A centralised patient registration database has been developed to support the changes. Managed by Services Australia, the database allows for a one-off registration of patients via Health Professional Online Services (HPOS) and will cover the patient even if they move to a different clinic.

To view the newsGP article in full click here.

Chair of RACGP Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health, Prof Peter O’Mara standing at a lectern,

Chair of RACGP Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health, Prof Peter O’Mara, Welcomes the fact ‘the process has been made simpler and less centralised’. Image source: newsGP.

First Peoples Health camp for teens

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander high school students experienced a taste of university life and learned about possible allied health careers at Griffith University’s First Peoples Health (FPH) Aspiration to Health Programs Camp. In all, 19 students from grades 10–12 attended the three-day immersive camp, hosted by FPH in partnership with The Institute of Urban Indigenous Health (IUIH).

FPH Engagement Lead Chris Levinge said the camp showed students how people from all backgrounds could succeed at university and specifically, in the health sector. “We want to encourage the students to study a health program, as the evidence is already there that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people delivering health services, get better health outcomes for First Peoples,” Mr Levinge said.

“The camp is a really good way to bring the kids in so they can feel comfortable in a university setting and see for themselves that anyone can study here. You just need to work hard and find what you are passionate about learning in the health space.” IUIH academy manager Tracy Hill said the students were already completing a school-based traineeship for a Certificate III in Allied Health Assistance.

To view the article in full click here.

National Pancreatic Cancer Roadmap update

Cancer Australia has released the second Roadmap Construction Update on the development of the National Pancreatic Cancer Roadmap. The National Pancreatic Cancer Roadmap will identify key priority areas for action over the next five years to improve outcomes for people with pancreatic cancer. In focus for this update are the literature review, mapping of treatment and care against the Optimal Care Pathway, and the analysis of characteristics of people with pancreatic cancer activities.

You can visit and interact with an infographic here.

“NACCHO continues to engage with Cancer Australia and other stakeholders on the Pancreatic Cancer Roadmap. If you have specific feedback or comments you would like to share please contact NACCHO Medical Advisor Dr Kate Armstrong here.

banner text 'National Pancreatic Cancer Roadmap - have your say about pancreatic cancer' purple footer, yellow, orange, blue, green top half

New process for job advertising

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

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

National Diabetes Week

This National Diabetes Week ‘it’s about time’ we all took the time. That means it’s about time we took the time to learn the 4Ts, the early warning signs of type 1 diabetes. It also means it’s about time we took the time to get checked for type 2 diabetes.

Life is busy. Work, family, friends, chores, a social life. The days fill up quickly. Sometimes we’re so busy running around after everyone else, we don’t take the time to think about our health.

For many Australians, putting themselves at the bottom of their ‘to do list’ puts their health at risk. This could include being diagnosed with diabetes too late. This is true for both type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Not making time for yourself, or time to learn the early warning signs, can put you at risk of major life-threatening health problems. Both types of diabetes are more common than you think.

Take the time. You’re important, your family is important and it’s really important, we don’t waste any more time. It’s about time.

Did you know diabetes…

  • Is the leading cause of blindness in working age adults?
  • Is a leading cause of kidney failure?
  • Is the leading cause of preventable limb amputations?
  • Increase a person’s risk of heart attacks and stroke by up to four times?

It’s about time you made ‘me time’, took time out and put you first. There is no time to lose. The earlier type 2 diabetes is detected,  the more lives will be saved.  

For more information on National Diabetes Week click here.

vector image in navy, blue & white of alarm clock & text 'diabetes australia'

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: National housing response needed

feature tile text 'national response needed in supporting Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander housing & communities' & image of makeshift tent with blue tarp in Minyerri NT in dry scrub

National housing response needed

June Oscar AO, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner has written and opinion piece for The Australian for NAIDOC Week. Commissioner Oscar spoke about this year’s theme, ‘Heal Country!’, and the need for a national response to supporting First Nations Communities to live on country. Below is an excerpt from the opinion piece:

“For decades governments have chronically underinvested in remote housing, roads, sewerage, education, health and much more. At the beginning of the pandemic, in the rush to get our peoples home, already dangerously overcrowded communities struggled to accommodate the influx. Tents sprang up. Our peoples returning to community were largely experiencing homelessness and poverty – their lives on the margins a direct result of the fact there has never been enough housing, not in cities, towns, communities or anywhere.

The reason we continue to live in vulnerable and unacceptable conditions is because there is no national plan to enable our people to live on or easily access our lands. In 2014, with commonwealth funding cuts, the WA government announced it would close more than half the remote communities in the state. The state government said it couldn’t shoulder the costs and has maintained this position. This is not unique to WA. In 2018 the commonwealth’s remote housing agreement with the states came to an end, with only an exit payment, and nothing else arranged for WA, SA and Queensland. It shows the disregard of governments at all levels to invest effectively in places where we live.

The real cost of the commonwealth walking away from these agreements, and all governments failing to respond to our needs, is entrenched human suffering, abuse and a deep scarring of this land. Enough is enough. The urgency of these issues demands immediate action by the commonwealth in partnership with all Australian governments and most importantly with First Nations peoples.”

To read the opinion piece in full click here.

makeshift housing on edge of Tennant Creek, NT

Tennant Creek traditional owner Diane Stokes lives on her block as an alternative to staying in an overcrowded family house. Photo: Jane Bardon. Image source: ABC News. Feature tile: Aboriginal community of Minyerri, NT. Image source: Welcome to Country website.

Trial could change type 2 diabetes treatment

NT GP Sam Heard sees the harm type 2 diabetes causes in Indigenous communities; in some places, up to 40% of the population is affected by the illness. “Dire might be a good word. The outcome for people getting diabetes when you are 40 is not good, and when you are very young it is terrible,” Dr Heard said. “If you tell an Aboriginal person that they have got diabetes, they are pretty devastated, and there is stigma involved. It is a really major disease that has implications for everybody — their family and their children.”

But Dr Heard is seeing some promising results in his patients who are trialling a low-calorie weight management program. “All of those have managed to stay on [the program] are very, very positive about it,” said Dr Heard,  who is the medical director at the Central Australian Aboriginal Congress (CAAC). “One 40-year-old fella describing it to a large group of Aboriginal people at a meeting got a standing ovation, and they could see the difference in his whole demeanour and how much weight he had lost.”

To view the article in full click here.

Aboriginal person's hands doing blood sugar test

Image source: The Medical Journal of Australia website.

COVID-19 assets for mob

The Australian Government Department of Health have developed a pack of COVID-19 resources tailored to an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander audience. The pack includes suggested social tiles and captions, two posters and a community announcement radio script, reminding everyone on the importance of keeping two big steps away from others, washing hands regularly, getting tested if you’re unwell, and following state and territory guidelines and restrictions.

You are welcome to use these assets as you see fit and adapt to your local requirements.

To view the range of resources click here.

tile with Jade North image & quote "If you're feeling sick, please stay away from others." Australian Governet #keepourmobsafe Australia.gov.au Coronavirus (COVID-19), image of Jade North playing soccer, border Aboriginal dot painting

One of the #keepourmobsafe COVID-19 resources.

Community sector climate justice webinar

On 12 July 2021 ACOSS is launching its Climate Campaign to build the capacity of the community sector to act on climate justice. ACOSS is calling on the Federal Government to commit to an ambitious net zero emissions reduction target, which is the first step to tackling the injustice being done to vulnerable people as a result of climate inaction.

You can join community sector leaders including NACCHO CEO Pat Turner, NACCHO CEO, and climate experts at the Climate Campaign Webinar to discuss what your organisation can do to address climate change. You will hear from experts on the science and human impacts of climate change and learn from community climate leaders whose organisations have taken action on the issue.

ACOSS CEO Cassandra Goldie will share how community organisations can take part in the community sector push for climate justice in the leadup to the November UN Climate Summit.

The webinar will take place on Zoom from 1–3pm on Monday 12 July 2021.

Registrations close 5pm Friday 9 July 2021 – to register click here.

banner text 'ACOSS Climate Campaign Webinar - empowering the community sector to take action on clime justice' image of man in checked shirt with face mask, background thick bushfire smoke

Lowering heart disease risk resources

Are you at risk of heart disease? Preventing heart disease starts with knowing your risk factors and making changes to live a healthier life. The Heart Foundation has a range of support and resources to help Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples stay healthy and reduce the risk of heart disease. You can access the Heart Foundation’s information and resources here.

Aboriginal woman in outdoor setting using weight resistant exercise equipment

Image source: The Heart Foundation.

Infectious disease ‘surveillance network’

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people will benefit from the expansion of a University of Queensland-led health project aimed at improving clinical care within primary health care services nationally. The Improving surveillance infrastructure for Indigenous primary health care project will expand an existing online surveillance network (named ATLAS) focussed on sexually transmissible infections (STIs) and blood-borne viruses (BBVs), thanks to federal funding.

STIs and BBVs are endemic in many remote and regional communities in Australia, with STIs identified as the leading incident morbidity for Aboriginal people aged 15–24 years. UQ Poche Centre for Indigenous Health director Professor James Ward said he welcomed the funding to deliver the largest connected Indigenous primary care surveillance network in Australia.

“As a Pitjantjatjara and Nukunu man and an infectious diseases epidemiologist, this is an exciting opportunity to significantly develop our work in this sector,” Professor Ward said. “Our aim is to grow the size of the ATLAS network by including more primary health care services within the network especially Aboriginal Community-Controlled Health Organisations (ACCHOs). In addition, the new funding will enable the ATLAS surveillance system to extend to include other infectious diseases such as vaccine preventable diseases within the scope of the ATLAS network.”

To view the full article click here.

light blue background with 3 clay brightly coloured sculptures of STI cells

Image source: 1800 my options website.

First Nations to inform national plan

The federal government has established a 13-member Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Advisory Council to inform the development of the next National Plan to end family, domestic and sexual violence in Australia and support the implementation of the Closing the Gap Target 13.

Indigenous rights campaigner Professor Sandra Creamer will be the interim chair of the multidisciplinary Advisory Council and be joined by advisors from across the health, community services, legal services, children and family services, and university sectors. Minister for Women’s Safety Anne Ruston said the Advisory Council would help ensure the issues and challenges facing First Nations peoples were elevated and given specific focus in the next National Plan.

To view the media release click here.

young boy holding ripped piece of paper with the work HELP in front of face

Image source: Monash University LENS website.

New process for job advertising

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

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

dice spelling JOBS resting on keyboard

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Remote NT community almost fully vaccinated

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

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

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

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

To view the full article click here.

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

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

COVID-19 and remote communities

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

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

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

Rough sleepers ‘completely neglected’

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

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

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

To view the full article in The Guardian click here.

4 Aboriginal men with masks walking along Smith Street, Darwin

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

Calls for increased FIFO COVID-19 testing

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

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

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

Annual health check resources

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

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

DoH Your health is in your hands brochure.

Importance of cultural strengths in suicide prevention

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

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

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

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

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

Image source: Australian Human Rights Commission website.

APY Lands key mental health service faces cuts

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

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

To view the full article click here.

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

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

New process for job advertising

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

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

NAIDOC Week 4–11 July 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: 2021–22 Federal Budget – Plenty of good news for Aboriginal health, but plenty of questions remain

NACCHO responds to the 2021-22 Federal Budget 

The National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) welcomes the Budget initiatives targeting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health. These include funding for the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, point-of-care testing, rheumatic fever strategy, bowel cancer screening, workplace training packages for health professionals in rural and remote areas, changes to the Midwife Professional Indemnity Scheme and changes to the Practice Incentives Program (Indigenous Health Incentive). These all seem to be very positive announcements. Also pleasing is the focus on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the substantial aged care and mental health packages.

While these announcements are most welcome, there needs to be more clarity concerning implementation. It is important that Aboriginal community-controlled organisations are closely involved in the new initiatives to ensure success.

In Cairns this morning, Donnella Mills, the NACCHO Chair, said ‘These Budget measures are very welcome, but we will need to work through the detail before we can be sure that what is proposed will work.’

‘It is pleasing to see that the NACCHO members are referred to in the Budget Papers in relation to a new role in the aged care sector and other areas. Certainly, the measures announced in the Budget won’t work unless Aboriginal people and organisations are fully involved in the design and delivery.’

The pandemic has proved the success of the model. The network of Aboriginal community-controlled health organisations in combatting COVID-19 shows what happens when local people are empowered to take local action.

Ms Mills said ‘We have shown the world what can be done to keep First Nations peoples safe during a global pandemic. In the USA, the Navajo had the highest death rate of any ethnic population. In Australia, not one Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander person has died.’

NACCHO welcomes the aged care package. The identification of $630m to improve aged care access largely for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders is a significant investment (about 3.6 per cent of the overall package). However, more will need to follow for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders to receive their fair share of aged care (estimated at 7 per cent on population and eligibility).

Ms Mills said ‘All Australians welcome the overdue investment in aged care. We all want our elders to be loved and cared for with dignity and respect. But Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders would like to see the specific details about how the measures will be tailored to our people and our communities and what role our services can play in all of this. We are keen to work with governments to ensure that the new funding is effectively invested. Governments need to start talking to us now, so that these good intentions deliver solid results on the ground for our elders.’

To read the full media release click here.

Coalition of Peaks responds to the 2021-22 Federal Budget

Positive start but First Nations must wait and see for promised Closing the Gap investment

Significant Budget measures announced by the Commonwealth Government provide a foundation for investing in the National Agreement on Closing the Gap. As expected, detailed funding relating to Closing the Gap was not announced in the Budget last night, so the full scope of funding commitments remains to be seen.

“I’m pleased to see the funding laid out in this Budget contains promising investments in crucial areas that affect our people,” said Patricia Turner AM, Lead Convener of the Coalition of Peaks.

“We are encouraged to see significant funding in areas of aged care, Indigenous skills and jobs, mental health and women’s safety; but this is very much a ‘wait and see’ budget as the majority of funding directed towards Closing the Gap won’t be announced until later in the year,” she said.

The federal government will announce more specific funding on Closing the Gap after Cabinet considers the Commonwealth’s Jurisdictional Implementation Plan mid-year.

“Our main concern with every Commonwealth Budget is how the funding will trickle down and benefit our people on the ground. Too often, our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled organisations, which are responsible for delivering many of the services in our communities, have been left with inadequate funding to service our people. My hope is that our community-controlled organisations are not just left with the crumbs from the Budget table.”

“Given the massive new investments seen in this Budget, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have a legitimate expectation that there will be a significant boost in funding in all areas of Closing the Gap — including implementation of the Priority Reforms in the National Agreement that we believe will accelerate the closing of gaps,” Ms Turner said.

“We look forward to an announcement of funding in the Closing the Gap measures to support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander participation in the Justice Policy Partnership in particular and all policy and place-based partnerships to be established under the National Agreement”.

“It is also vital that meaningful proportions of the new funding initiatives in the Budget for the broader population that are critical for closing the gaps, such as in childcare and preschool, are allocated to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations, particularly community-controlled organisations”.

“This is a commitment made by the Commonwealth in the National Agreement on Closing the Gap, but it is still uncertain and risky whether our community-controlled sector will receive the funding it needs to deliver much better services to our people,” Ms Turner said.

Finally, the Government’s new investment into our Family Violence Prevention Legal Services to address the severe problem of family violence is welcomed but more funding is needed to keep our women and children safe.

To read the full media release click here.

Family Matters National Week of Action Sun 9 – Sat 15 May 2021 #OurMobsMatter

Next week join the Family Matters National Week of Action, SNAICC’s campaign to create awareness of the over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in out-of-home care. Build your skills and knowledge and be part of our work to ensure all our children and young people grow up strong and safe in their families, cultures, and communities.

You can also register your own events, and access our resources page so you can download our Family Matters National Week of Action digital resources (including social media tiles, an email signature, and customisable posters for your own events) to help you promote the Family Matters campaign next week. Please share content including the Family Matters handle and using the hashtag #OurMobsMatter

The Family Matters leaders would like to remind non-Aboriginal organisations to support the campaign through your annual sponsorships – please check sponsorship information here and email familymatters@snaicc.org.au to arrange an invoice as soon as possible.

Wednesday 12 May (12-1.30pm AEST) – National commissioner call to action

Join SNAICC CEO Catherine Liddle and Family Matters Co-Chair Dr Paul Gray as they lead a discussion by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children’s commissioners and deputy commissioners around the continent as we continue to call for the creation of dedicated, independent Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children’s commissioners in each state and territory and at the national level.

Speakers include: April Lawrie, Commissioner for Aboriginal Children and Young People (South Australia); Justin Mohamed, Commissioner for Aboriginal Children and Young People (Victoria); Natalie Lewis, Commissioner for the Queensland Family and Child Commission; Richard Weston, Deputy Children’s Guardian for Aboriginal Children and Young People (New South Wales), and Nicole Hucks, Assistant Children’s Commissioner, Office of the Children’s Commissioner (Northern Territory).

Join this key call for accountability and in defence of the rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and their families.

Register here.

Thursday 13 May (12-2pm AEDT) – Ways to connect children back to their family, culture and community

This conversation will be led by Family Matters Co-Chair Sue-Anne Hunter.

Speakers include: Jo-Anne Kelly, Project Manager Community Initiatives with Kinchela Boys Home Aboriginal Corporation; Jacynta Krakouer, Family Matters National Leadership Group and University of Melbourne; and Jennifer Parsons, QATSCIPP Sector Development Officer.

Engage and learn from this fascinating discussion among four expert Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander practitioners in child and family services. Build your practice skills and learning through Aboriginal-led engagement, awareness, and ideas for skill development.

Register here.

Friday 14 May (12-2pm AEST) – Ensuring our babies get the safest start

Learn about how birth is a key point of removal from their families for too many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander babies, and what we can do to stop this entry point from happening. Hear about how we can work to keep babies with their parents and families. This conversation will be led by Family Matters Co-Chair Sue-Anne Hunter.

Speakers include: Professor Megan Davis, Emma Buxton-Namisnyk and Dr Althea Gibson (all UNSW); Associate Professor Catherine Chamberlain (La Trobe University, Healing the Past); Birri O’Dea (Molly Wardaguga Research Centre, Charles Darwin University); Alison Elliott, The Bouverie Centre; and Debra Bennet (Executive Lead Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Engagement and Cultural Advisor, Relationships Australia Queensland).

Register here.

The Family Matters Report 2020 was launched in November 2020. It reveals that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children continue to be removed from family and kin at disproportionate rates – disrupting their connection to community and culture. The report identified a concerning trend towards permanency and adoption that is driving separation of children from family, community, and culture.

Keep an eye out for the Family Matters National Leadership Group members on @IndigenousX on Twitter, from Thursday 6 May to Thursday 13 May.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Acting on social determinants of health part of CPHC

feature tile text 'CPHC must include acting on the social determinants of health', image of bright Aboriginal dot painting overlaid with text 'Preventive Health Conference'

Acting on social determinants of health part of CPHC

Earlier this week NACCHO Deputy CEO Dr Dawn Casey gave a presentation, Building on Success – Prevention Health for COVID-19 and Beyond at the Public Health Association of Australia Preventive Health Conference 2021. “Currently NACCHO is documenting a core services framework which articulates our model of comprehensive primary health care. One of the participants at a consultation session stated, ‘To call yourself a comprehensive primary health care service, you need more than a ‘sick care service’. You also need to be public health advocates to garner action on poverty and overcrowding. You must invest in communities, develop leaders and reclaim community empowerment, you must look to act on social determinants of health as well’. “These are the values that were brought to the table when dealing with the response to the pandemic. Each service is controlled by the community receiving the health service.”
You can read Dr Casey’s speaking notes for the conference here.
Dawn Casey receiving COVID-19 vaccine

NACCHO Chair responses to Federal Budget

As part of the 2021–22 Federal Budget Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples will receive dedicated funding to support and expand health initiatives across aged care, chronic illness treatment, mental health support and more, with a focus on engaging culturally sensitive approaches across the board.

During an interview on The Wire Independent Current Affairs Community & Indigenous Radio Chair of NACCHO, Donnella Mills said this investment is welcomed by NACCHO, who are advocating for the government to work in partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to define how programs are delivered to ensure the best outcomes.

To listen to the interview in full click here.

stethoscope on top of portion of Aboriginal flag & text 'The Wire' logo - orange text

Image source: The Wire.

SNAICC comments on 2021 budget

SNAICC – the national peak body for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, has welcomed investment to support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and families in the Australian Government’s recent Budget announcement, but looks forward to further commitments for children and families through the National Agreement on Closing the Gap.

“The Budget includes important new measures for children and families, including increased investment in early childhood education and care, keeping women and children safe, mental health and suicide prevention, and increased support for victims and survivors of child sexual abuse. However, more work is needed to achieve the ambitious targets for our children in the National Agreement on Closing the Gap,” said SNAICC CEO Catherine Liddle. “Our children thrive when they have the opportunities to be proud in their identities and cultures and grow up safe and supported within their families and communities.”

To view SNAICC’s media release in full click here. This follows a SNAICC media release last week on early child care.

Lowitja calls for health & justice investment

The Lowitja Institute has welcomed several important spending measures in the 2021–22 Federal Budget but has called for more work and commitment to support comprehensive Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-driven solutions across much-needed areas. Lowitja Institute CEO Dr Janine Mohamed said Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and organisations had wanted to see significant investment in the National Agreement on Closing the Gap, although it is hoped that spending will be announced in the Implementation Plans due to be released mid-year.

“The Budget could have been a significant and important opportunity to comprehensively invest in historical truth-telling as called for through the Uluru Statement from the Heart,” Dr Mohamed said. Lowitja Institute welcomed several important measures, particularly a focus on building the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander aged care workforce, supporting COVID-19 responses by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and organisations, and important funding for suicide prevention.

To view the Lowitja Institute’s media release in full click here.

the Lowitja Institute logo

Groups await extra CtG funding

Indigenous organisations are hoping for federal government funding later in the year to help close the gap. The Closing the Gap agreement aims to end the divide between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians in social, economic and health areas, and now includes 16 targets after the original seven were overhauled because they were not on track to be met.

The Coalition of Peaks, which represents more than 50 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations, did not expect funding for Closing the Gap in the budget. The group’s lead convener Pat Turner is encouraged by significant spending in aged care, Indigenous skills and jobs, mental health and women’s safety. “But this is very much a wait and see budget as the majority of funding directed towards Closing the Gap won’t be announced until later in the year,” she said. “I’m pleased to see the funding laid out in this budget contains promising investments in crucial areas that affect our people. Our main concern with every commonwealth budget is how the funding will trickle down and benefit our people on the ground.”

To view The West Australian article click here.

Pat Turner in beige jacket, purple glasses, hand raised with two fingers for two points, set against blurred parliament setting with two Australia flags

Pat Turner. Photo: Gary Ramage. Image source: The Australian.

Budget fails to close the gap

First Nations advocates have condemned the 2021 budget as failing to live up to the government’s talk of “closing the gap”. While the budget included investments in a number of health initiatives, there was a lack of investment in First Nations-focused services including family violence prevention services; investment to address the crisis of Aboriginal deaths in custody; and investment to ensure Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and families have access to the support and services they need.

Australia’s only First Nations-led justice coalition, Change the Record, said the budget just entrenched more of the same. On the issue of justice, Change the Record co-chair Cheryl Axleby said it was “shameful” that after seven deaths in less than two months there has been no plan from the government to address the crisis of Black deaths in custody. “There is no funding in the budget to address the mass-incarceration of First Nations peoples by establishing a National Justice Reinvestment Body (despite this being a key recommendation) and no funding to support states and territories to Raise the Age to keep primary school aged children out of police and prison cells,” Axleby said.

To view the Pro Bono Australia article in full click here.

protester holding Aboriginal Lives Matter placard

Photo: Jack Fisher. Image source: ABC News website.

National suicide prevention trial extension

The Kimberley’s peak Indigenous health body has welcomed measures in the Federal Budget that will help remote communities cement strategies for suicide prevention. As part of a $2.3 billion spend on mental health, $12 million has been promised to extend the national suicide prevention trial by one year.

The initiative has been running in 12 locations around the country, including the Kimberley, and is focused on devising local programs to prevent suicides. The trial was due to wrap up in June this year but participants now have more time to secure their strategies. The funding has come in addition to $79 million for initiatives under the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Strategy.

To view the full article click here.

portrait of Rob McPhee in office, large Aboriginal painting in the background, Rob is wearing a blue collared shift with the BRAMS logo

KAMS Chief Operating Officer Rob McPhee. Image source: ABC News.

ACOSS Virtual Post Budget Event 2021

Hosted by MC Stela Todorovic (Political Reporter, Channel 10) The ACOSS Post Budget Event is the key annual event for civil society and the community services sector, providing a space for attendees to receive briefings on key budget measures and their likely impacts on people experiencing poverty and inequality.

The event will provide the opportunity for the Assistant Treasurer and Shadow Treasurer to address the community sector directly and for the community sector to engage in conversation following the release of the Federal Budget.

Speakers will include:

  • Assistant Treasurer and Minister for Housing, the Hon Michael Sukkar MP
  • Dr Jim Chalmers MP, Shadow Treasurer
  • Lindon Coombes, Industry Professor (Indigenous Policy), Jumbunna Institute for Indigenous Education and Research (UTS)
  • Merle Mitchell, Aged Care advocate
  • Feyi Akindoyeni, Partner & Office Head, Newgate Communications
  • Kristin O’Connell, The Australian Unemployed Workers’ Union (AUWU)
  • Verity Firth, Executive Director, Social Justice at the UTS Centre for Social Justice & Inclusion
  • Cassandra Goldie, CEO, ACOSS

You can register for free here.

banner ACOSS virtual post budget event 2021 Tues, 18 May 12PM - 2:30PM AEST Bendigo Bank HESTA, UTS, ACOSS Joint the Campaign Raise the Rate for Good, image of a podium with microphones

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: First Nations COVID-19 response success

First Nations successful COVID-19 control

Indigenous populations around the world are more likely to be infected by or die of COVID-19. In countries like Canada and Brazil and in the US, Indigenous people are dying at disparate rates to the general population. However there is one notable exception: Indigenous Australians (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders). Despite having a life expectancy around 8 years less than non-Indigenous populations and overall worse health outcomes, Indigenous Australians were six times less likely to contract COVID-19. Zero deaths and just 148 cases of coronavirus were reported for 800,000 Indigenous people across the country.

How did they achieve such a remarkable result? In contrast to previous Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders health policies and interventions, the Australian government worked collaboratively with Indigenous communities. They provided flexible grant funding in March 2020 to 110 remote communities, allowing local Indigenous controlled health agencies to run a culturally aware response. As the scale of the pandemic became apparent, the government funding increased with $6.9 million invested in the NACCHO and $123 million available over two financial years for targeted measures to support Indigenous businesses and communities to increase their responses to COVID-19.

To view the article in full click here.

7 health professionals with gloves, gowns & masks standing on road

Tharawal Aboriginal Corporation team. Image source: AH&MRC website. Feature image: Tyreece, 8, and Trevor, 7, on the outskirts of Wilcannia. Image source: newmatilda.com.

Why mental health education is important

Kym Marsden, a Kamilaroi woman and accredited mental health social worker with 19 years’ experience in mental health and community services believes Schools and other places of participation for our young people like sporting clubs, cadets and other social outlets need to portray mental health as equally important as physical health.

“Kofi Annan is a role model of mine who understood education is the key to realising positive change across our future generations, evidenced by his beliefs that now are eternalised as a quote: ‘Knowledge is power, information is liberating, education is the premise of progress in every society and in every family!'”

Mental health awareness is important in our communities. Awareness creates change, but it is a task that we all have to sign up for.

To read the full article in the National Indigenous Times click here.

Aboriginal dot painting in roange yeallow white black tan by Roma Winmar 2015

Artist: Roma Winmar 2015. Image source: NATSILMH website.

National Indigenous Postvention Service

Thirrili Ltd delivers the National Indigenous Postvention Service across Australia and has taken a national leadership role in the provision of suicide postvention support and assistance to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander individuals, families and communities. Thirrili employs a dedicated team of professionals to provide support across all states and territories in Australia.

You can view Thirrili’s most recent newsletter here.

banner text 'Thirrili' aerial shot of multicoloured rock, Thirrili logo & strip of Aboriginal body painting art yellow purple black orange pink

GP maternity care involvement improves outcomes

Releasing the AMA Position Statement on General Practitioners in Maternity Care, AMA President Dr Omar Khorshid said all people thinking about starting a family or having another baby should consult with their GP, involving GPs in maternity care leads to better outcomes for mothers and babies.”

The AMA position statement outlines how to ensure GPs are involved in maternity care and are able to provide continuity of care to mothers and babies from pre-conception and through all the important milestones in the mother and baby’s lives. Dr Khorshid said having a usual GP or general practice leads to better health outcomes.

“We know that best-practice maternity care is provided by a multi-disciplinary team of health professionals led by an obstetrician or GP-obstetrician in partnership with a patient’s usual GP, and includes midwives, nurses, physicians, allied health professionals and Aboriginal health workers,” he said.

To view the AMA’s media release  click here and to view the AMA Position Statement on GPs in Maternity Care click here.

Aboriginal woman smiling at tiny baby in her arms in health clinic room with examination bed & 5 images of growing baby in womb on wall

Image source: Sydney Morning Herald.

Culturally responsive health care for older people

The final professional development webinar in a series of three focusing on older Australians, presented by Mental Health Professional Network in partnership with all 31 Primary Health Networks (PHNs) will be held from 7:15–8.30 PM (AEST) Wednesday 19 May 2021.

This webinar will discuss the relationship between culturally diverse social and emotional wellbeing beliefs and aging related issues, and examine how this interplay impacts treatment and support sought by older people. Through a facilitated discussion, panellists will provide practical tips and strategies to engage in recovery oriented, culturally responsive conversations with older people. They will provide a deeper understanding of the role different disciplines, faith based groups and community services play in providing care for older people and as a result improve referral pathways.

To register for the webinar click here.

Aboriginal Elder Mildred Numamurdirdi sitting in an armchair with pillow behind head, lap rug & Danila Dilba staffer standing by her side

Aboriginal Elder Mildred Numamurdirdi. Image source: Goulburn Post.

Preventing deaths in custody research

Research from the University of Sydney and current coronial inquests highlight the immediate attention needed into Aboriginal health services for those incarcerated, in order to prevent deaths in custody. Over 30 years ago, the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody (RCIADIC) made over 200 directives recommending that Aboriginal health services be funded to provide leadership and care for those in prison equivalent to what is available to the general community. However, the current coronial inquests into the preventable deaths in custody of Bailey Mackander and Wayne Fella Morrison and the seven deaths of Aboriginal people in custody in recent weeks highlight an overwhelmingly strained system.

To view The University of Sydney’s media release click here.

row of crosses along edge of path, painted with the Aboriginal flag & one with the words 'Black Deaths in Custody - Cross for Loss'

Image source: ABC News.

Free webinars for doctors in training

Northern Queensland Regional Training Hubs (NQRTH) will be running a series of free webinars for doctors in training across Australia supporting the Queensland RMO and Registrars campaign during May and June this year.

The webinars will discuss the 2022 Queensland RMO Campaign application process and specialty training options available for doctors in training in northern Queensland. Attendees will have the opportunity to hear the latest news and recruitment information provided by the Queensland Health RMO Recruitment team and learn about how the campaign works, who can apply, recruitment rounds and positions. There will be a panel of directors of training and doctors currently working in northern Queensland hospitals and health services, providing information about the region’s unmatched medical training opportunities.

Please see below the information about the 6-part webinar series:

exert from promotion tile with dates of webinars

The webinars are open to all doctors in training in Australia.

To view a flyer about the webinars click here and to register for the webinar series click here.

banner text 'Northern Queensland Regional Training Hubs' 3 images: monitoring equipment, operating theatre, tablets & stethoscope on page of medical text book

International Nurses Day

International Nurses Day (IND) is celebrated around the world every year on 12 May, the anniversary of Florence Nightingale’s birth.

The theme for the 2021 resource is Nurses: A Voice to Lead – A vision for future healthcare. In 2021, we seek to show how nursing will look into the future as well how the profession will transform the next stage of healthcare.

The International Council of Nurses commemorates this important day each year with the production and distribution of International Nurses’ Day (IND) resources and evidence. For more information about IND and to access a range of resources click here.

tile text '12 May 2021 International Nurses Day Theme: A OVOICE TO LEAD A Vision for Future Healthcare' - torso of health professional in white coat with purple gloved hands holding a globe

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Acceleration of efforts to reduce overincarceration

feature tile text 'Joint Council agrees to accelerate collective efforts to reduce overincarceration of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people' & photo of an Aboriginal man's hands through prison bars

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.

protest march with placard of Aboriginal flag overlaid with text 'most incarcerated people on earth'

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.

To view the BBC article in full click here.

2 young Aboriginal women BLM protestors, one with t-shirt Always Was Always Will Be holding up hands covered in red paint to indicate blood, other woman holding Aboriginal flag behind her with raised arms, t-shirt with text black' and Aboriginal flag broken into 4 horizontal rectangular segments

Photo: Getty: Image source: BBC News website.

Deaths in custody & intergenerational healing

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.”

You can view a transcript of the interview here.

Aboriginal adult hand with small Aboriginal child's hand holding one of the fingers

Image source: Parks Australia website.

NDIS independent assessments on hold

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.

rear view of seat and wheel of a wheelchai

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.

photo of Pat Turner receiving vaccine, text 'NACCHO CEO & Lead Convenor of the Coalition of Peaks PAT TURNER'

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.

To view the full research paper here.

health professional in green gown, green rubber gloves holding white box with red text ' HUMAN ORGAN FOR TRANSPLANT' against surgical theatre background

Image source: Renal and Urology News.

Lessons from subsidised spectacles scheme

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.

To view the full research paper click here.

Aboriginal man wearing eye test equipment spectacles

Image source: Optometry Australia website.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: First Australians urged to get vaccinated

feature tile text 'First Australians urged to protect themselves, family & community by getting vaccinated' - image of COVID-19 vaccine vials

First Australians urged to get vaccinated

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 & Tom Calma in waiting room at WNAHS ACT to receive vaccine 24.3.21

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 Herald click here.

Tharawal elder Uncle Ivan Wellington receives his first AstraZeneca vaccine from Tharawal Aboriginal Corporation GP Heather MacKenzie

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 jabs click here.

photo of Cecil Phillips, 63, receiving AstaZeneca vaccine by registered nurse, Sam Parimalanathan at AMS Redfern

‘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.

Aboriginal flag with COVID-19 virus cell shooting across image with flames coming from it

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 communities webpage.

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.

close up photo of face of Victorian Senator Lidia Thorpe wearing cap with the word 'Deadly' & black face mask, blurred image of crowd in the background

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:

  • participating in this 10 minute survey open until 1 April 2021
  • 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 aboriginalhealth@racgp.org.au

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.

Aboriginal Health Worker smiling at Aboriginal man lying on examination bed in a clinic

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.Remote Primary Health Care Manaulas (RPHCM) logo - Aboriginal painting, path, footprints, blue green pink purple petal flower and horseshoe shapes x 5

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.

To view the report click here.cover of VACCHO Balit Durn Durn Storng brain, mind, intellect & sense of self Report to the Royal Commission into Victoria's Mental Health System report

What ‘healing’ means

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 strategy click here.cover of Healing Foundation Dreaming big Voices we hear informaing the Qld A&TSI Healing Strategy October 2020

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 Cooperative to deliver Fluoride Varnish program click here.

close up photo of gloved dentist's hands inspecting teeth of an open mouth

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.

painting of 7 Aboriginal youth with text 'free our future'

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.

vector image of kidneys, one sliced showing kidney stones

Image source: Kettering Health Network.

Purple Day

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.World epilepsy day. Purple ribbon on bright dark violet background. Epilepsy solidarity symbol. Vector illustration

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander COVID-19 Vaccine Provider Communication Kit

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.

The templates and materials are available on the Department website for download, and are free to share with your contacts.   

Find below a list of the communication resources created. These can be easily adapted to suit the needs of your practice/clinic.

If you require any other resources, contact covid19vaccinecomms@health.gov.au

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.’

Read the full story in the newsGP here.

COVID-19 Roadshow in Ramingining

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.

More information click here.

Aboriginal woman;s hands cradling pregnant belly painted with image of baby turtle in the sea

Image source: #LoveBroome.

Free CPD accredited training for GPs Practice Managers 

RACGP and Healthdirect Australia are running free CPD accredited training for GPs and Practice Managers to support GPs to use video call more confidently and effectively.

Training comes in two streams (both worth 2 CPD points):

  1. ESSENTIAL Video Call training covers basic call functions such as how to sign in and see patients and how to invite them to a Video Call appointment.

When: Wednesday 21 April 6:30-7:30pm AEST

Register here.

  1. ADVANCED Video Call training covers multiple party calls, how to bring an interpreter into a call, transferring callers between clinics, and other advanced functions.

When: Wednesday 24 March 6:30-7:30pm AEDT OR Wednesday, 14 April 6:30-7:30pm AEST

Register here.

 

Majority of Australians support raising the age

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.

Read the media release here.

Aboriginal child's hands on jail barred overlaid with Aboriginal flag.

Image source: Amnesty International Australia.

Claiming Telehealth

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.

Read more from the article here.

man on mobile phone pointing to Aboriginal hand on computer screen

Image source: The Medical Journal of Australia.

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.

Read the story released by SBS News here.

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.

Read the media release here.

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 campaign is 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.

Read the full story in the Mandarin here.

Indigenous leadership in pandemic delivers a blueprint to Close the Gap

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations and people have been hailed for 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.

Read the full story in Croakey here.

three Katungul NSW staff in PPE in shooting stance with gloved fingers in shape of pistol

Katungul Aboriginal Corporation Regional Health and Community Services staff taking a well-earned break at a mobile COVID-19 clinic at Eden. Image source: Croakey.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: 107 ACCHOs have signed up to deliver COVID-19 vaccines – Pat Turner

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.

COVID-19 vaccine rollout

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.

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.”

To watch the full episode of ABC The Drum click here.

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.

The benefits far outweigh any unfounded links.

Read the ATAGI statement here.

gloved hand administering vaccine to upper arm

Image: SBS website.

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).

To view the journal articles click here.

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.

To view the information click here.

medical tray of COVID-19 vaccine syringes

Image source: Surf Coast Times.

National Anti-Racism Framework plan launched

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 click here.

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.

Read the Close the Gap policy brief here.

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.

Aboriginal woman holding pregnant belly with hand on top and hand below

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.

Read the full article here.

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 Mosby told 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”.

Read the full story released in Croakey here.

safe effective free vaccines Department of Health banner orange tick in white circle, blue background, circles with vector image of different people's heads, text ' safe effective free

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.

Aboriginal painting by Adam Hill white hand reaching down to middle of page with words Close the Gap and black hand reaching up to the words

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.

vector image of microscope over female reproductive organs

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
by 2032.

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.

Read the AMA media release here.

Images: mivision The Opthalmic Journal website and AMA President Dr Omar Khorshid.