NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Mob think they’re immune, they’re not

Mob think they’re immune, they’re not

The full lockdown of remote Aboriginal communities during the first wave of the pandemic was “too successful” and now many Indigenous people believe COVID-19 will never reach them, according to evidence to a select committee on Australia‘s response to the virus.

Pat Turner, who represents Aboriginal health clinics across Australia as head of NACCHO, has offered the most comprehensive explanation yet for why so few Indigenous Australians are vaccinated against COVID-19. Ms Turner told the select committee she was deeply concerned about the consequences for Indigenous Australians when the nation opened up because only 37% of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population over the age of 12 was fully vaccinated. Only 50% had received one dose. Aboriginal people had died at twice the rate of non-Aboriginal Australians during the Delta outbreak in NSW and Victoria, Ms Turner said. Up until 16 June only 153 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people had contracted COVID-19 and none of them had died.

However, since the outbreak of the Delta strain in NSW and Victoria, more than 4,500 Indigenous people had tested positive to COVID-19, more than 500 of them have required hospitalisation and 10 had died. Ms Turner said this was entirely predictable given that higher proportions of Indigenous people are susceptible to falling seriously ill and dying from Covid-19 because they have developed chronic disease early in life. Also, one in eight Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people live in overcrowded housing which helps the virus spread. Overcrowding is far worse in regional and remote areas, she told the select committee. Ms Turner said her organisation had told parliament in July last year that if COVID-19 got into the far western community of Wilcannia it would be impossible to contain, and that is what happened.

Ms Turner said, vaccine hesitancy and misinformation were causing big problems in Aboriginal communities in WA, the NT, SA  and Queensland. Health workers were now going door to door to answer Aboriginal people‘s questions about the vaccines. While there, they vaccinate those who are willing. “They think it‘s not going to get there, so we are increasing our advice to them about how rapidly it spread from greater Sydney to Wilcannia,” Ms Turner told the select committee. She said states and the NT must organise contingency plans for Aboriginal communities. She said locking down remote communities at the start of the pandemic was successful but it would not work once Australia opened its borders. “I think we were too successful (during the first lockdowns of remote Aboriginal communities),” Ms Turner said. “They think they‘re immune to COVID-19, but they’re not.”

To view the full article in The Australian click here.

Pat Turner AM. Image source: National Indigenous Times.

VACCHO launches medical cadet program

VACCHO has launched a new and innovative Aboriginal Medical Cadet Program. A first for VACCHO, the specialised program offers a life-changing opportunity through the two-year Medical Cadetship for a number of medical students from Victoria. It will see cadets develop their skills and knowledge by gaining hands-on experience in a real-life setting working as highly valued contributing member of an Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (ACCHO).

VACCHO CEO Jill Gallagher AO says the Aboriginal Medical Cadet Program presents an exciting and unique opportunity for members, the cadets, and most importantly community. “Over the last 18 months we have seen ACCHOs play a critical role in the protection of our community against COVID – and this cadet program will be instrumental in inspiring the next generation of medical practitioners in this sector.”

Ms Monica Barolits-McCabe, CEO, Australian Indigenous Doctors’ Association (AIDA) has also welcomed the program. “This program will encourage more Indigenous medical students to return to work in the ACCHO sector when they graduate as doctors. Aboriginal community controlled health services understand the comprehensive needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients and Indigenous doctors’ unique medico-cultural skills can complement those services very effectively.”

Applications for the Aboriginal Medical Cadet Program are now open and will close on Sunday 24 October 2021.

To view VACCHO’s media release, including details on how to submit an application for the Aboriginal Medical Cadet Program click here.

Gayaa Dhuwi suicide prevention strategy

Gayaa Dhuwi (Proud Spirit) Australia is inviting you to attend the virtual launch of the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Strategy 2021-2031 on Friday 22 October 2021 at 3:00pm AEDT.

In early 2020, the Commonwealth Government tasked Gayaa Dhuwi (Proud Spirit) Australia to renew the 2013 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Strategy. Extensive consultation with governments, stakeholders and community members over the past 12 months contributed to the renewed National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Strategy 2021-2031.

To attend the launch, please register here.

tile text 'National A&TSI suicide prevention strategy 2021-2031 virtual launch Frid 22 October 2021 3:00 PM AEDT' with Aboriginal dot art border in black, yellow, white, orange

It’s in our cultures to protect each other

Nayuka Gorrie, a Kurnai/Gunai, Gunditjmara, Wiradjuri and Yorta Yorta freelance writer. has written an article Why vaccination presents an ethical dilemma for us, but remains the best way to keep our families safe.

In writing about getting the COVID-19 vaccine Nayuka says “So much is uncertain but what I do know is: I am surrounded by people who would become very sick and possibly die if they got COVID-19 and I’m not sure how I would live carrying that guilt. I also trust our community health services who are trying their best to keep us alive and well in a hostile colony.”

“I wrote to a friend a few weeks ago who was watching Covid-19 sweep its way across her Gomeroi country. I wrote that the way our community cares for each other is our greatest strength right now. Where white culture leaves their most vulnerable behind, it is in our cultures to protect each other to ensure our survival. Right now, with the information we have, we are all we have to keep each other safe.”

To view the story in IndigenousX in full click here.

vector images of covid-19 vax & diagram of people in circles linked to other people

Image source: IndigenousX.

Role of AHWs in administering vax

The COVID-19 pandemic has devastated communities throughout the world and has required rapid paradigm changes in the manner in which health care is administered.

Previous health models and practices have been modified and changed at a rapid pace. The Rural and Remote Health section of James Cook University has published a paper detailing the experiences of a regional Victorian ACCHO in a COVID-19 vaccination program led and managed by Aboriginal Health Practitioners.

To view the paper in full click here.

Image source: The Medical Journal of Australia.

RHIF funding for VIC ACCHOs

The Regional Health Infrastructure Fund (RHIF) provides government funding to rural and regional health services and agencies across Victoria so these services can continue to provide safe and efficient care to local communities.

Established in 2016, the $490 million fund is the largest program of its type in Victoria and was created to improve:

  • safety and quality of services
  • enhance service capacity
  • efficient models of care
  • patient and staff amenity
  • service efficiency.

Seventy-nine health services will share $120 million in funding from the fifth round of the Regional Health Infrastructure Fund (RHIF), including ACCHOs Bendigo and District Aboriginal Co-operative Ltd and Gunditjmara Aboriginal Co-operative Limited. You can see the full recipient listing here.

Gunditjmara Aboriginal Co-operative will also receive over $35,000 through the Supporting Carers Locally Grants Program. This program provides opportunities for carers to be physically and mentally healthy and connect with family, friends, other carers and their local community – whether through accessible peer support, grassroots community support programs or tailored resources. To view an article about this grant click here.

Suicide and self-harm monitoring website

The latest AIHW release Suicide and Self-harm monitoring website (new ambulance attendance data and social factors and deaths by suicide modelling) is now This release includes new data relating to: ambulance attendances for suicide attempts, suicidal ideation, and self-injury, and a modelling study on the association between socioeconomic factors and deaths by suicide using the MADIP linked data asset.

The reporting of suicide and self-harm statistics and information on the AIHW website represents only one part of the National Suicide and Self-harm Monitoring Project. The web-based format for Suicide and self-harm monitoring includes interactive data visualisations and geospatial mapping to illustrate and explore the statistics as well as text to assist with their interpretation and clarification of the limitations of the data.

To view the media release in full click here.

Draft PHC 10 Year Plan opens for consultation

The Australian government is calling for stakeholder input following the opening of the consultation period for the draft Primary Health Care 10 Year Plan.

The focus of the 10 Year Plan is on Australia’s primary health care (PHC) services provided through general practices, Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations (ACCHOs), community pharmacies, allied health services, mental health services, community health and community nursing services and dental and oral health services. The Plan also focuses on the integration of PHC with hospitals and other parts of the health system, aged care, disability care and social care systems.

You can now provide feedback on the draft plan, and individuals and organisations with an interest in primary health care and what a future focused system can deliver for all Australians are encouraged to share their views.  Written submissions can be provided until 11:59 PM Tuesday 9 November 2021 here.

For more information on the consultation process click here.

AMA Vice President Dr Chris Moy spoke on Channel 10 talking about the PHC 10-Year Plan. To view a transcript of the Dr Moy’s interview click here.

Danila Dilba health worker checking child's ear

Image source: RTR FM92.1 website.

Outback Stores lead way on vax

As the Delta strain of COVID-19 continues to threaten remote communities, Outback Stores recognises that being vaccinated is one of the key contributing factors to saving lives and reducing the likelihood of spreading the virus to others.

The company’s CEO, Michael Borg, acknowledges the importance and understands the crucial role the company can play in safeguarding the health of customers and employees in the 44 retail sites for which Outback Stores manages on behalf of their owners. “In the anticipation of vaccinations becoming mandated, Outback Stores has been working for some time towards 100% vaccination of its front-line employees,” Mr Borg said. “We currently have 109 team members either based in or visiting remote communities regularly, and I can report that they are all double-vaccinated.”

To view the Outback Stores media release in full click here.

6 Ngukurr Outback Stores staff with certificates standing in front of wall refrigerators

Outback Stores Ngukurr store workers.

New process for job advertising

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

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

Global Handwashing Day

Today, 15 October 2021 is Global Handwashing Day, a global advocacy day dedicated to increasing awareness and understanding about the importance of handwashing with soap as an effective and affordable way to prevent diseases and save lives. It is an opportunity to design, test and replicate creative ways to encourage people to wash their hands with soap at critical times.

This unprecedented time provides a unique impetus to institutionalise hand hygiene as a fundamental component of health and safety. The learnings from the past year have emphasised the need for collective action to address the historic neglect of hand hygiene investments, policies, and programs once and for all. This year’s theme, Our Future is at Hand – Let’s Move Forward Together calls for coordinated action as we actively work toward universal hand hygiene.

A example of a creative way in the ACCHO sector of encouraging handwashing is the No germs on me: A social marketing campaign to promote hand-washing with soap in remote Australian Aboriginal communities. This social marketing campaign promoting handwashing with soap was implemented to reduce the high burden of infection experienced by Australian Aboriginal children living in remote communities.

For more information about Global Handwashing Day click here and to view a paper on the No germs on me campaign click here.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Unvaccinated adult mob at risk of severe COVID-19 illness

Feature tile - Thu 23.9.21 - Unvaccinated adult mob at risk of severe COVID-19 illness

Two-thirds of First Nations Australian adults at risk of severe illness from COVID-19 if unvaccinated

Almost three-in-five Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults are at an elevated risk of developing severe illness from COVID-19 due to ongoing health inequities, found a major study undertaken by researchers and health practitioners at The Australian National University (ANU), the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO), the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) and the Lowitja Institute.

The study examined the prevalence of health factors like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer and smoking among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults, which all increase the risk of severe illness if an unvaccinated person gets COVID-19. It found 59 per cent of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults have these and other existing conditions that could increase the risk of needing intensive care admission, mechanical ventilation or death if they contract COVID-19 and are not vaccinated.

Dr Jason Agostino from ANU, and a medical advisor to NACCHO, said: “… there are almost 300,000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults who are at higher risk of getting very sick if they are not vaccinated and get COVID-19. This is why getting the vaccine is so important for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.”

Dr Janine Mohamed, CEO of the Lowitja Institute, said: “Our communities are strong and resilient and have responded rapidly and effectively to the pandemic when they have been trusted, enabled and resourced by governments to lead the way. We need governments to work together with Aboriginal Controlled Community Health Organisations to support culturally safe delivery of vaccines and improve data collection to increase vaccination coverage as quickly as we can.”

You can read the media release by ANU here.
The study is published in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health.

AFL legend Adam Goodes, NACCHO CEO Pat Turner, NACCHO Deputy CEO Dr Dawn Casey and Shadow Minister for Indigenous Australians, the Hon Linda Burney, MP all getting their vaccines to be protected against COVID-19.

AFL legend Adam Goodes, NACCHO CEO Pat Turner, NACCHO Deputy CEO Dr Dawn Casey and Shadow Minister for Indigenous Australians, the Hon Linda Burney, MP all getting their vaccines to be protected against COVID-19.

Spread of COVID-19 in Eurobodalla’s sparks alarm

Aboriginal elders, health professionals and politicians say they are concerned about the growing COVID-19 cluster among the Eurobodalla’s Indigenous community.

The cluster linked to Batemans Bay on the NSW far south coast has grown to 19 cases since the first case was reported on September 6.

Bega MP Andrew Constance has expressed concern that the Indigenous population is vulnerable to further spread.

“There is no doubt when you have a vulnerable cohort within the community, that is something we are very concerned about,” he said.

Despite the fact 60 per cent are now fully vaccinated in the region, there is a push to increase the rates among the local Indigenous population. Walk-in clinics will be open at:

  • The Wallaga Lake Community Hall from 10:00am on Thursday September 23.
  • The Bodalla soccer oval from 10:00am to 2:00pm on Sunday September 26.
  • Eden at the community health centre between 10:00am to 2:00pm on Saturday September 25.
  • Twofold, Jigamy on Thursday September 30. 

You can read the article in ABC News here.

Aboriginal elder Uncle Ossie Cruse is calling on the local Indigenous community to get the jab. Australian Story: Marc Smith.

Aboriginal elder Uncle Ossie Cruse is calling on the local Indigenous community to get the jab. Australian Story: Marc Smith.

Historic moment creates opportunity for COVID-19 vaccine promo

The McGowan Labor Government has launched the next phase of its Roll up for WA COVID-
19 vaccination campaign to help get as many Western Australians vaccinated as possible.

The emotive campaign reinforces the benefits of vaccination by featuring Western Australian personal stories of life before the COVID-19 pandemic, by reminiscing of a time when we were safely connected with the world and lived life without fear of a local outbreak.

The commercial (that can be viewed below the story) stars Sheree, a young Aboriginal nursing student, whose roots stretch between the Nyiyaparli and Banjima people originating from Port Hedland, who is passionate about encouraging people to get the COVID-19 vaccine because she wants to keep her community safe.

With all eyes on WA hosting the 2021 AFL Grand Final this Saturday, the McGowan Government is leveraging the historic moment in WA by maximising opportunities to promote the campaign and benefits of getting the COVID-19 vaccine.

The campaign also includes an informative video series with respected medical professional Dr Karl. Through the video series, Dr Karl answers the most common questions about the COVID-19 vaccines.

You  can view the media release by the McGowan Labor Government here.
For more information about the campaign, visit the Roll up for WA website here.

Growing urgency to vaccinate remote Elders before any border reopening

“It’s only a matter of time before Delta gets here, and it could be bad,” says Mr Chris Bin Kali, the director of the Broome Aboriginal Medical Service.

“It will only take one person and we could lose a whole community — lose the whole language, history, lore and culture in one go.”

It’s a grim message delivered with a sole aim — to get as many Kimberley people vaccinated as quickly as possible.

Outback ingenuity is on display. Some remote communities are raffling off washing machines and fishing gear to those getting the jab. Open-invite vaxathons are using country and western music and AFL players to try to cut through. Slowly but surely, it is starting to work.

Vickie O’Donnell, who heads Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Services, says she expects some communities will opt to remain shut.

The outback vaccine rollout is complicated by poor telecommunications, limited road access and a highly mobile population.

But in this critical moment, the years of work by Aboriginal health organisations to build a skilled health workforce is delivering a huge payoff.

You can read the story in the ABC News here.

Some communities are raffling off gift packs to encourage people to get vaccinated. Image source: Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Services.

Some communities are raffling off gift packs to encourage people to get vaccinated. Image source: Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Services.

Statement of support for TGA

Australia’s leading evidence-based health and medical organisations including NACCHO, stand beside Australia’s key medicines regulator, the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA).

We express full support for the vital work the TGA does to assess and regulate new medicines and vaccines. The TGA has a strong reputation for being expert, independent and rigorous in its assessments of new products, and is similarly rigorous in its assessment of the safety of vaccines, so as to improve and protect the health of all Australians.

Another essential role of our medicines regulator is to challenge, and where necessary, prosecute those who seek to mislead the Australian public about important health information so as to pursue their own interests. This role is particularly important in the current global health crisis.

Now is a time when Australians must have confidence in the assessments and recommendations of the TGA, and we believe Australians’ trust in the TGA is well placed.

You can read the statement of support at the Burnet Institute website here.

TGA logo

HOTspots platform maps antibiotic resistance patterns

A new digital surveillance platform has launched enabling healthcare professionals to map circulating antibiotic-resistant pathogens in northern Australia.

The HOTspots platform, developed in the HOT NORTH program, covers tropical areas in Northern Territory, Queensland and Western Australia and has information about up to 13 pathogens and their associated antibiotics.

Lead researcher, Dr Teresa Wozniak, Senior Research Fellow and APPRISE Fellow at Menzies School of Health Research, said the HOTspots program and digital platform support antibiotic stewardship activities in northern Australia, allowing clinicians to choose “the right drugs for the right bugs”.

“The HOTspots data, and now a digital platform, allow end users including doctors, nurses and Aboriginal health practitioners across regional and remote hospitals and clinics to have access to accurate local up-to-date data to make decisions at the point of care,” Dr Wozniak said.

View the HOTspots platform and read more about the HOT NORTH program.

You can read the joint media release by Menzies School of Health Research, Hot North and Apprise here.

HOTspots platform maps antibiotic resistance patterns across northern Australia. Image source: Hot North.

HOTspots platform maps antibiotic resistance patterns across northern Australia. Image source: Hot North.

Clinical learning e-modules for lung cancer symptoms

Lung Foundation Australia, in collaboration with Cancer Australia, has developed accredited clinical learning e-modules, based on Cancer Australia’s Investigating symptoms of lung cancer: a guide for all health professionals. The e-modules use clinical scenario-based learning to increase confidence among health professionals to recognise symptoms and signs of lung cancer, and support early and rapid referral of symptomatic patients into the multidisciplinary diagnostic pathway.

The modules have received accreditation from the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP), with health professionals able to gain accreditation of 40 RACGP CPD points.

Sign up for the modules here.

Symptoms of lung cancer. Illustration from the Lung Foundation Australia website.

Symptoms of lung cancer. Illustration from the Lung Foundation Australia website.

Improving Digital Connectivity for Indigenous Australians

Yesterday the Morrison Government launched public consultations for its landmark Indigenous Digital Inclusion Plan to accelerate the digital connectivity of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

“Ensuring Indigenous Australians have quality access to digital technology encourages entrepreneurialism, wealth creation and economic advancement – it’s about closing the gap and taking the next step after that,” Minister for Indigenous Australians, Ken Wyatt AM MP, said.

“Over the last year and a half, we’ve seen how people have relied on technology, not just to stay in touch with family and friends, but also to launch new ventures and navigate through COVID-19.”

“Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, particularly those in remote communities, are
missing out on opportunities to start new businesses and grow because of access to technology. That is why we are developing a comprehensive plan to address the barriers to digital inclusion,” said Minister Wyatt.

More information and a copy of the discussion paper is available on the NIAA website, or you can contact the Agency at digitalinclusion@niaa.gov.au or on 1800 079 098.
Submissions on the discussion paper close 1 November 2021.

You can read the media release by The Hon Ken Wyatt AM, MP here.

The Indigenous Digital Inclusion Plan will focus on three elements of digital inclusion: access, affordability and digital ability.

The Indigenous Digital Inclusion Plan will focus on three elements of digital inclusion: access, affordability and digital ability.

 

New process for job advertising

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

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


dice spelling JOBS resting on keyboard

 

MDHS Indigenous Postdoctoral Fellowship

The University of Melbourne Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences are pleased to announce that applications for the 2021 round of Indigenous Postdoc fellowships are now open.

The fellowship aims to support the next generation of Indigenous researchers who will actively contribute to health research and/or address critical health issues facing Indigenous communities. The Fellows will contribute to and enrich the Faculty’s diverse scholarly community and strengthen our existing Indigenous research community.

Applications are open to recent Indigenous MDHS PhD graduates and candidates who are near completion and expect to submit between 1 July 2021 – 30 June 2022.

The closing date for applications is Sunday 31 October (5pm) 2021.

We invite all eligible candidates who are interested in continuing an academic path with the Faculty to read more about the Fellowship and consider applying here.

Electronic Prescriptions for Consumers Q+A Session

As electronic prescriptions become more widely available across the country, the Australian Digital Health Agency invites you to join a “Electronic Prescribing Q+A Session for Consumers and Carers”. The purpose of the session is to provide you with a platform where your questions will be answered directly by an expert panel.

Ask any questions you might have related to your experience with using electronic prescriptions. Is there anything that wasn’t clear or left you wondering how it works? We welcome all your questions and there is no requirement to have used electronic prescribing prior to joining a session.

You will be able to participate by speaking directly with our subject matter experts, or by submitting questions anonymously through our questions platform. If you would like to submit your questions prior to the session to ensure they are addressed, please use the registration form below.

These sessions are open to consumer peak organisations, members and consumer advocates, carers and advisors.

Event title: Your questions answered: Electronic Prescriptions for Consumers

Dates: 
Thursday, 7 October 2021, 12-12.30pm AEDT (Sydney, Melbourne, Canberra)
Thursday, 14 October 2021 12-12.30pm AEDT (Sydney, Melbourne, Canberra)
Thursday, 21 October 2021 12-12.30pm AEDT (Sydney, Melbourne, Canberra)

Register here. (Select preferred date from drop-down menu)

 

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Vaccine conspiracies target vulnerable communities

feature tile text 'vaccine misinformation targeted at vulnerable communities' & image of Elder man receiving covid-19 vaccine

Vaccine conspiracies target vulnerable communities

NACCHO CEO Pat Turner called an emergency meeting with Mr Wyatt and 14 Aboriginal church leaders and remote doctors on Friday (3 September 2021) to discuss alarming numbers of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who are hesitant about whether they should be vaccinated as a direct result of misinformation that has targeted Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders.

The group of respected pastors and remote medical professionals confirmed conspiracies and misinformation were circulating in vulnerable communities, spreading fear of COVID-19 vaccines. “The meeting was about getting the advice of religious leaders on how to talk in a way that is respectful of people’s beliefs while keeping people safe from serious illness and death,” Minister Wyatt said.

To view Minister Wyatt’s media release click here.

elder without shirt outdoor setting receiving covid-19 vaccine from KAMS worker

Photo: Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Services. Image source: The Guardian.

Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Services (KAMS) has also written to local churches asking them to counter dangerous misinformation promoting vaccine hesitancy among Aboriginal communities. Vicki O’Donnell, the CEO of KAMS, said that while some communities in the area had high rates of vaccinations, there was “resistance in some communities due to religious groups and the misinformation that they’re providing”.

“We’ve always had issues around religious groups, ever since I can remember,” O’Donnell said. “This is the first time I’ve come across religious groups being very active around anti-vaccination. And I’ve been in Aboriginal health for 25 years now.”

To view the full article in The Guardian click here.

side profile of face of Labor Senator Pat Dodson

Labor Senator Pat Dodson has called on religious leaders of all denominations to condemn groups spreading anti-vaccine propaganda. Photo: Mick Tsikas. Image source: The Guardian.

Mallee District Aboriginal Services chief executive Jacki Turfrey told Sunraysia Daily says vaccine conspiracy theories have spread like wildfire among Sunraysia’s Aboriginal community. “There’s a lot of myths being circulated about there being metal and metal traces in the vaccines, about there being implants being put into people who get the vaccine, about fertility … they’re actually making our job much, much harder,” she said.

“The myths are out there – they’re ramping up. As a result, you’ve got a lot of people are nervous and afraid to get the vaccine. There’s no counter media that actually goes through and dispels the myths. That would have an amazing impact.” Ms Turfrey rejected the suggestion vaccination providers weren’t doing enough to get Aboriginal community members to roll up their sleeves.

To view the full article in the Sunraysia Daily click here.

MDAS CEO Jacki Turfrey

MDAS CEO Jacki Turfrey says incentives offered to Indigenous people are having a positive impact on vaccination rates. Photo: Ben Grose. Image source: Sunraysia Daily.

Yawning divide in vaccination rates

Nationwide, 60.5% of the population over the age of 16 have had one dose, while 36.4%  are fully vaccinated. In comparison, just 37%t of First Nations people have had one jab, and 20.5% both.

New data released by the federal government also exposes a stark divide between Australia’s towns and cities and regional and remote areas. NACCHO’s chief medical advisor Dr Jason Agostino said some of the figures are ‘alarming’. “You just need to look at what’s happened far western NSW to understand what can happen when just a single case of COVID-19 gets in,” he said.

“Without the protection of the vaccine, what’s happening in western NSW and Far West NSW Wales can happen anywhere, so we need to do whatever we can to address vaccine hesitancy and get doses out and into people’s arms.”

To view the full article click here.

Aboriginal man receiving covid-19 vaccination

Despite the higher health risks, the national Indigenous vaccine rates are sitting well behind the general population. Photo: Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Services. Image source: NITV website.

Elder praises community lockdown response

Indigenous people across western NSW are working hard to do the right thing in a COVID crisis that restricts their highly social lives and puts pressure on their emotional wellbeing, says one of the region’s best-known elders. First Nations people continue to make up the overwhelming majority of COVID-19 infections in western NSW.

In Dubbo, which has most of the state’s regional cases, Wiradjuri elder Frank Doolan — better known as “Riverbank Frank” — heaped praise on locals abiding by lockdown laws. “I feel a certain amount of pride in my people, even though their circumstances in many instances may not be conducive to this new phenomenon of lockdown (and) it may not agree with Aboriginal people or the lives they lead,” he said. “I have been amazed at just how people are trying to comply with the health laws at the moment.”

To view the full ABC news article click here.

Wiradjuri Elder "Riverbank Frank" Doolan

“Riverbank Frank” Doolan says lockdown restrictions are especially taxing on the Aboriginal community. Photo: Gary-Jon Lysaght. Image source: ABC News.

COVID-19 exposes Australia’s health inequality

Australians, on the whole, are fortunate when it comes to their health. Generally, people enjoy a high standard of living and access to universal health care, and Australia consistently ranks well on measures such as life expectancy and mortality rates.

But beneath gross measures of health and high OECD rankings lies deeply-entrenched, longstanding inequalities. The gap in health outcomes between Australia’s rich and poor is substantial, and has been laid bare for all to see over the course of the pandemic.

Social scientist Julie Leask from the University of Sydney says the fact poorer, more diverse communities are being most impacted by COVID-19 is not by chance, and reflects “deep inequities in society”. “[The pandemic] is an opportunity for all of the public to see the mechanism by which poverty and social exclusion actually influence health,” she says.

In Australia, health inequalities are felt most acutely by Indigenous people and those living in socio-economically disadvantaged areas, including in rural and remote Australia.

To view the article in full click here.

CAAC vaccination outreach at Irrkerlantye

Central Australia Aboriginal Congress vaccination outreach at Irrkerlantye (White Gate) Damp. Photo: Kate Buckland, CAAC. Image source: Croakey Health Media.

WA releases Aboriginal Empowerment Strategy

The WA Government has released its first Closing the Gap Jurisdictional Implementation Plan together with its Aboriginal Empowerment Strategy – two important and strategic documents that will guide a future whole-of-government approach to Aboriginal affairs in WA.

This is the first Implementation Plan for WA under the new National Agreement on Closing the Gap and was developed through collaboration across government departments and agencies, with crucial input and endorsement from the Aboriginal Advisory Council of WA, as well as the Aboriginal Health Council of WA (AHCWA), the only WA-based member of the Coalition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peak Organisations (the Coalition of Peaks).

Vicki O’Donnell, member of the Aboriginal Advisory Council of WA and Chairperson of the AHCWA said: “The National Agreement on Closing the Gap is strongly supported by Aboriginal people in WA as it defines the reforms that are absolutely necessary for improving the life outcomes of our people, and our communities. The four Priority Reforms require governments to change the way they work with us at all levels, and ensure that Aboriginal self-determination, leadership, and culture are the foundations for shared decision-making, partnership and service delivery into the future.

To view the media statement in full click here.

Hearing health outreach services report

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) has released a report Hearing health outreach services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in the NT July 2012 to December 2020.

The report presents information on hearing health outreach services provided to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young people in the NT. It shows that in 2020 there were: 2,010 audiology services; 701 ear, nose and throat teleotology services; and 1,004 Clinical Nurse Specialist visits. Among children and young people who received at least two services between 2012 and 2020, 61% had improved hearing loss and 71% had improved hearing impairment.

To view the report  click here.

Aboriginal toddler having a hearing test

Photo: Lauren Roberts, NT News. Image source: Menzies School of Health Research.

NDIS Access Program in Kimberley

The Rural Clinical School of WA, The University of WA have released an article about their study of the NDIS ‘Access Program’ in the Kimberley region. Their mixed methods study explores the barriers and enablers of the Access Program in­­­­­­­ linking remote Aboriginal residents with the NDIS. The study also reports on what types of disability people engaging with the Access program had, their age, gender, and if they lived in a town or a community.

The study found the Access program has provided support and assistance for Aboriginal people in accessing the NDIS. Continuation of the Access Program until 2022 will allow more people to receive the support they need to navigate entry to the NDIS. Provision of services for those who have received an NDIS plan requires ongoing advocacy and evaluation.

The research team wants to continue the discussion around the NDIS Access Program to ensure the rights of remote Aboriginal Australians with a disability are met, in ways that are strength based and culturally secure.

To view the Equity in Access: A Mixed Methods Exploration of the NDIS Access Program for the Kimberley Region, WA article click here.

Seven-year-old Kelvina Benny in her wheelchair

Seven-year-old Kelvina Benny lives with her family in the Yungngora community on Noonkanbah Station, Kimberley region, WA. Image source: NDIS website.

New process for job advertising

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

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

World Suicide Prevention Day 

One in four Australians report knowing someone who died by suicide during the past 12 months of the pandemic – the equivalent of 5 million people – with social isolation, the economy and jobs driving concerns, particularly amongst women. It comes as two-thirds of Australians (66%) back the Federal Government introducing a standalone national suicide prevention act requiring all government decisions to consider and mitigate suicide risks two years in a row.

The findings are from Suicide Prevention Australia’s second State of the Nation report, which will be officially released this week on World Suicide Prevention Day 2021 – Friday, 10 September 2021. Suicide Prevention Australia CEO Nieves Murray said history showed major increases in suicide were linked to major social and economic events and there was none more concerning facing Australia than right now.

To view the Suicide Prevention Australia media release click here.

This year, Suicide Prevention Australia is hosting a free webinar form 10:30AM – 11:30AM AEST Friday 10 September 2021 to bring together key members of government, the suicide prevention sector and recipients of our LiFE Awards which recognise work with significant impacts on reducing suicide.

To register for the webinar click here.

banner text 'shining a light on suicide prevention Friday 10 Sep 2021, world suicide prevention day' vector image of one female male & two males with huge yellow spot light

banner text ‘shining a light on suicide prevention Friday 10 Sep 2021, world suicide prevention day’ vector image of one female male & two males with huge yellow spot light

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Wake up call for mob who didn’t think COVID would affect them

Feature tile - Thu 2.9.21 - Wake up call - COVID-19 can affect mob

Wake up call – COVID-19 can affect mob!

As efforts intensify to deal with the NSW COVID-19 outbreak Pat Turner AM, CEO of NACCHO joins The Conversation podcast to discuss politics with Michelle Grattan.

On western NSW, where there are hundreds of cases, Turner says crowded and bad housing make it “almost impossible to isolate and quarantine”. People in Wilcannia are “having to isolate in tents – in Australia in 2021”.

In WA First Nations communities, the low vaccine coverage “is a very significant concern to all of us. It has by far the lowest uptake, with less than 10% of its population 12 years and over fully vaccinated.”

“I would think that the first death for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people […] has been a wake up call for some, especially those who didn’t think that COVID would affect them. The reality is sinking in for many of those,” Said Ms Turner.

You can listen to the podcast by The Conversation below.

 

Elder calling on community to get vaccinated

Adnyamathanha Elder Cheryl Coulthard-Waye is imploring local Indigenous communities to get vaccinated as soon as possible.

“The Aboriginal people need to get the COVID vaccine, not just for their own safety but for the community. There are no guarantees that COVID will not spread to our community, and put our people at risk,” she said.

Ms Coulthard-Waye is all too familiar with what diseases has meant for Aboriginal peoples in Australia, and does not want to unnecessarily lose community members.

“Back in the old times when our ancestors all died of measles, chicken pox and Spanish flu they could not be immunised,” she said.

“But they can now, and I want people to stop and think about our ancestors. It is the choice we can make for the sake of our people.”

You can read the article in The Transcontinental Port Augusta here.

Be safe: Adnyamathanha Elder Cheryl Coulthard-Waye wants her community to know that their risk to COVID is not over. Image source: The Transcontinental Port Augusta.

Be safe: Adnyamathanha Elder Cheryl Coulthard-Waye wants her community to know that their risk to COVID is not over. Image source: The Transcontinental Port Augusta.

 

COVID vaccine blitz in southern NT

Australia’s largest Indigenous health organisation has launched a six-week COVID vaccination blitz, as figures show 79 per cent of its central Australian town-based clients are unvaccinated.

Donna Ah Chee, CEO of the Central Australian Aboriginal Congress (CAAC) which is based in Alice Springs, said she was extremely worried that thousands of the organisation’s clients were unvaccinated.

“It’s not a case of if the Delta strain will come here, it is a case of when,” Ms Ah Chee said.

Ms Ah Chee said that one of the obstacles the CAAC was trying to overcome was vaccine hesitancy.

“We want to see 50 per cent of our town clinic people over the age of 16 to have at least had one dose. So that’s about 2,400 additional people.”

You can read the article in the ABC News here.

Lilly Watson and Montanna Hudson at a pop-up COVID-19 vaccination clinic at Yeperenye shopping centre in Alice Springs. Image source: CAAC.

Lilly Watson and Montanna Hudson at a pop-up COVID-19 vaccination clinic at Yeperenye shopping centre in Alice Springs. Image source: CAAC.

 

In a related article in the Croakey Health Media, Ms Ah Chee talks about how Aboriginal communities across Australia must be safe before we open up. She maps out the risks and responses needed for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community in Central Australia, estimating that “every 30 people vaccinated has the potential to save a life should COVID-19 spread in the Aboriginal community in Alice Springs”.

You can read the article in Croakey Health Media here.

Eileen Hoosan and Geoff Shaw talk to Central Australian Aboriginal Congress doctor Jessica Johannsen. Image source: CAAC.

Eileen Hoosan and Geoff Shaw talk to Central Australian Aboriginal Congress doctor Jessica Johannsen. Image source: CAAC.

 

Increased access to rural and remote GP services

A new exceptional circumstance review for the Department of Health’s Distribution Priority Area (DPA) classification will help regional and rural areas respond to unforeseen workforce and population changes which may be impacting access to local GP services. Federal Regional Health Minister, Dr David Gillespie said the DPA classification allows government to identify regions where locals face an increased challenge to access a GP. The DPA system assesses regions annually, using the most up to date available data to support approvals for priority access to internationally-trained doctors and bonded doctors.

“I have heard loud and clear the concerns that the current approach is not capturing current or emerging local pressures, sudden and unexpected changes and unmet demand,” Dr Gillespie said.

You can read the media release here.

Rural Health Crisis, GP Shortages. Image source: Alecto Recruitment.

Image source: Alecto Recruitment.

 

Blueprint to end RHD

Implementation of a blueprint for ending rheumatic heart disease is likely to bring wider health benefits, given that the social, cultural and environmental factors involved are also responsible for many other health conditions common in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

That’s according to an analysis by Vicki Wade and Catherine Halkon, who also examine intersections between the new National Agreement on Closing the Gap and the RHD Endgame Strategy: The blueprint to eliminate rheumatic heart disease in Australia by 2031.

The authors are from RHDAustralia based at the Menzies School of Health Research, and the Telethon Kids Institute. Their analysis is timely as the COVID outbreak in western NSW provides a powerful reminder of the wide-ranging benefits of addressing determinants of health such as overcrowded and poor quality housing.

You can read the article in Croakey Health Media here.

Rheumatic heart disease. Image credit Menzies School of Health Research.

Rheumatic heart disease. Image credit Menzies School of Health Research.

 

SA unveils new Closing the Gap plan

The State Government has revealed its new plan to stamp out what the Premier describes as “institutional racism, discrimination and unconscious bias” across the public sector as part of a nationwide revamp of the Closing the Gap strategy.

The plan, estimated to cost several million dollars to implement, contains over 200 commitments from South Australian Government departments – some of which are already in train – to address Aboriginal inequality.

You can read the article in the In Daily here.

SAACCON’s Chris Larkin, Scott Wilson and Tina Quitadamo with Premier Steven Marshall launching South Australia’s Implementation Plan for the National Agreement on Closing the Gap. Photo: Department of the Premier and Cabinet.

SAACCON’s Chris Larkin, Scott Wilson and Tina Quitadamo with Premier Steven Marshall launching South Australia’s Implementation Plan for the National Agreement on Closing the Gap. Photo: Department of the Premier and Cabinet.

 

Quitline Aboriginal Liaison Team

In 2019 the Quitline Enhancement Project was moved across to Aboriginal Health Council of Western Australia (AHCWA) employing two project officers to be a part of the Quitline Aboriginal Liaison Team (QALT). The QALT Project Officers focus on promoting the Quitline and providing information about the Quitline service to primary health care services who work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Western Australia (WA) to support and promote Quitline referrals and overall reducing the prevalence and incidence of smoking rates within WA.

​Their primary focus is to support the non-Tackling Indigenous Smoking (TIS) recipients in the South West & Great Southern regions although they do provide support across state – wide of Western Australia.

They have a range of great resources including brochures and booklets that can be ordered online here.

If you want to begin your quit journey call the Quitline 13 78 48.

Quitline Aboriginal Liaison Team. ACHWA.

 

New process for job advertising

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

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


dice spelling JOBS resting on keyboard

 

Sound Scouts – Hearing screening tool for individuals and school screening programs

NSW Rural Doctors Network (RDN) and the Aboriginal Health & Medical Research Council (AH&MRC) of NSW invite you to attend the free webinar: Sound Scouts – Hearing screening tool for individuals and school screening programs.

Founder, Carolyn Mee will introduce the Sound Scouts hearing screening app explaining the rationale behind its development, the rigour involved in ensuring it is fit for purpose (evidence based), how to use it and the supporting software developed to assist in wide scale hearing screening. The webinar will also include a live question and answer session.

This webinar will be hosted on Rural Health Pro’s Digital Venue, you will receive the link to the Digital Venue within your confirmation email.

12 – 1pm AEST, Wednesday 29 September 2021
Free webinar
Register here

Webinar: Sound Scouts - Hearing screening tool for individuals and school screening programs.

 

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Struggling to isolate in overcrowded housing

Ronnie Murray says his brother has been sleeping in a tent to help the family isolate, a difficult task in a household of 10. (Supplied: Wilcannia River Radio)

Struggling to isolate in overcrowded housing

NACCHO CEO Pat Turner told The Point that overcrowded housing in remote communities has been brought to the attention of governments over many years and they’ve failed to act.

“We have repeatedly asked governments throughout Australia to address and to ensure that our people have safe and the right size housing, so we won’t have these problems. There will be future pandemics and we must get this housing issue addressed,” she said.

You can read the article in SBS NITV News here.

Ms Turner also spoke to The Point about the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, the Delta strain, and what resources are in place to help with staff shortages at Aboriginal community controlled health services.

You can watch Pat Turner on Episode 17, Season 2021, The Point SBS NITV below.

 

The power of respectful partnerships

Last week, nursing academic Professor Rhonda Wilson was hard at work in Walgett assisting local health workers with COVID vaccinations. Writing from isolation upon her return home, she reflects on the importance of relationships, respect and trust in providing culturally safe services.

We have been working in partnership with Walgett Aboriginal Medical Service (WAMS) on another project for some time. We saw our partners needed a hand, and we knew we had skills, knowledge, respectfulness, and community connection to help in a culturally safe manner. If we could help, in partnership, we would volunteer to do so.

The response from WAMS was a swift, ‘Yes, your help is needed. When could you come?’

WAMS invited me and my nursing colleagues from the School of Nursing and Midwifery at the University of Newcastle, Professor Amanda Johnson and Associate Professor Donna Hartz, to help urgently with the escalating crisis of COVID-19 cases in their area.

You can read the story in Croakey Health Media here.

Professor Rhonda Wilson, contributing to the pandemic response at Walgett recently. Image source: Croakey Health Media.

Professor Rhonda Wilson, contributing to the pandemic response at Walgett recently. Image source: Croakey Health Media.

On track for vaccine target in Deniliquin

The district population is on track to be 70 to 80 per cent fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by November, according to Murrumbidgee Local Health District.

Practice manager at the Deniliquin Aboriginal Medical Service Sarah Campbell said the clinic is set up to deliver up to 100 vaccines if the clinic opens for half a day, and 160 on a full day. The AMS has fully vaccinated 31 First Nations people while another 87 have had their first vaccine.

Deniliquin’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population at the time of the 2016 Census was about 330 people, or 4.5% of the local population, higher than the 2.9% Australia-wide population.

Ms Campbell said the medical service has been vaccinating elders since April. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 12 and over can get vaccinated in Deniliquin.

You can read the story in Deniliquin Pastoral Times here.

Person receiving vaccine. Image source: ABC News website.

Person receiving vaccine. Image source: ABC News website.

Stolen Generations Redress Scheme a step closer

The Morrison Government is deeply committed to supporting the healing of Stolen Generations survivors and has taken another step on the journey to provide redress for those forcibly removed as children in territories that were administered by the Commonwealth. The passage of the Territories Stolen Generations Redress Scheme (Facilitation) Act 2021 and the Territories Stolen Generations Redress Scheme (Consequential Amendments) Act 2021 will ensure the Scheme can be established over the next six months and start receiving applications by 1 March 2022.

“Today we introduced two pieces of legislation to give effect to key elements of the Scheme
and to make sure that all supports going to Stolen Generations survivors are not hampered
by other Acts,” Minister for Indigenous Australians, the Hon Ken Wyatt AM, MP said.

“With many Stolen Generations survivors being of an advanced age, the imperative to act now has been brought into sharp focus.”

“This redress scheme reflects the Morrison Government’s commitment to support our
nation’s journey to reconciliation and to support inter-generational healing for the health and
wellbeing of Stolen Generations survivors.”

You can read the media release by the Minister for Indigenous Australians, The Hon Ken Wyatt AM, MP here.

Resources to improve children’s wellbeing

With the COVID-19 pandemic amplifying pressures on families, a timely new initiative is seeking to improve Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children’s social and emotional wellbeing.

The resource series, developed by The Healing Foundation and Emerging Minds, highlights the undercurrent of intergenerational trauma among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, and outlines a strengths-based approach to healing. This new package, released recently to coincide with National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children’s Day, contains free e-learning modules, factsheets, and an animation (view below) to help elevate the importance of a child’s development.

You can read more about the initiative in Croakey Health Media here.
Visit the Emerging Minds website to access the e-learning modules.
Visit the Healing Foundations website to view the factsheets.

MBS billing guides now online

The MBS billing guides by The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health are now online.

  • MBS guide for GPs working in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health
  • MBS guide for other medical practitioners (OMPs) working in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health

As well as an extensive list of MBS items used by GPs and OMPs, both guides also include items used by other healthcare professionals such as allied health providers and nurse practitioners. Unlike the other guides they have developed as part of our MBS online tool, these pages are unlocked and can be accessed by anyone.

You can view the MBS billing guides here.

Aboriginal man at GP consultation. Image source: GP Synergy.

Aboriginal man at GP consultation. Image source: GP Synergy.

Disease expenditure in Australia

A new release from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW): Disease expenditure in Australia 2018-19 describes the activity and characteristics of Australia’s health care system in terms of estimated expenditure for different demographic groups in the population, and expenditure relating to different groups of diseases.

This web report provides the most recent data available on the health care expenditure on all Australian Burden of Disease Study conditions, including expenditure by health care sector, type of condition, age group, and sex. Information is presented on the web pages using interactive visualisations, and downloadable Microsoft Excel workbooks.

Visit the AIHW website to view the Disease expenditure in Australia 2018-19.

One of the key findings in the 'Australian Burden of Disease Study 2018'.

One of the key findings in the ‘Australian Burden of Disease Study 2018’.

Pancreatic Cancer Roadmap online survey

Cancer Australia is pleased to provide you with the National Pancreatic Cancer Roadmap online Delphi Survey. The survey is being conducted by Deloitte on behalf of Cancer Australia.

Consultation closes on 30 August 2021, however please feel free to reach out to NACCHO’s Cancer team anytime if you would like to discuss by emailing Kate.Armstrong@naccho.org.au.

You can access the survey here.
You can also read the National Pancreatic Cancer Roadmap – Discussion Paper here.

 

New process for job advertising

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

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


dice spelling JOBS resting on keyboard

 

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: COVID-19 impact on young mob

COVID-19 impact on young mob

NACCHO CEO Pat Turner spoke with Dan Bourchier on ABC News about the COVID-19 outbreak in western NSW and the vaccination roll-out and uptake in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

Ms Turner said that it was very concerning to see the average age of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who contracted COVID-19 in NSW in the last day was 24 years old.

“I am really concerned about the impact it’s having on our young people and I implore you all to please stay at home,” said Ms Turner.

She also said she was very pleased to see that daily increases of the Pfizer vaccine is being rolled out in Western NSW.

“We really need all of the state health authorities to be working in partnership and collaborating with our community controlled health sector and making sure they have a constant supply,” she said.

You can view the interview below.

 

Culturally safe vaccination services crucial

Lieutenant General John Frewen, Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly and CEO of NACCHO Pat Turner have co-signed a letter addressing COVID-19 vaccinations for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

The letter that will be sent to Australian COVID-19 vaccine delivery partners states that we all have an important role to play in providing culturally safe vaccination services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

“For all Indigenous Australians to be vaccinated and bridge the current gap, we are asking the whole primary care sector to work together and ensure there is equitable COVID-19 vaccine uptake across Australia.”

You can download the letter here.

An article by Croakey Health Media addresses the same issue: Rushed efforts to halt the alarming spread of COVID-19 in Aboriginal communities in western NSW will fail if they do not have cultural safety at their core. That’s the warning from national, state and local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health leaders. Responses that are not culturally safe will risk adding to vaccine hesitancy and disengagement with public health orders and add to the trauma experienced by Aboriginal people amid a public health emergency.

Donna Murray, CEO of Indigenous Allied Health Australia (IAHA), said there are “huge risks” in “shipping out” mainstream health teams that have not worked before in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities or done cultural safety training. Failure to understand Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander ways of “knowing, being and doing” often ends up in non-Indigenous people and services making uninformed judgements or blaming communities “and then that turns people off being vaccinated”, she said.

You can read the article in Croakey Health Media here.

Walgett Aboriginal Medical Service's Belinda Woodham, Scott Porter & Katrina Ward joined by volunteers from @Uni_Newcastle School Nursing & Midwifery Professors Amanda Johnson, Rhonda Wilson, Donna Hartz with Managers Sally Loughnan & Tabitha Jones of Royal Flying Doctor Service. Photo courtesy of Dharriwaa Elders Group, Croakey Health Media.

Walgett Aboriginal Medical Service’s Belinda Woodham, Scott Porter & Katrina Ward joined by volunteers from @Uni_Newcastle School Nursing & Midwifery Professors Amanda Johnson, Rhonda Wilson, Donna Hartz with Managers Sally Loughnan & Tabitha Jones of Royal Flying Doctor Service. Photo courtesy of Dharriwaa Elders Group, Croakey Health Media.

 

COVID-19 arrives in Bourke

The Army has been called into western NSW, and drive-through clinics are being set up in Dubbo, in a race to vaccinate the community as the COVID outbreak worsens. The outback town of Bourke had its first case confirmed earlier this week, along with further cases in Dubbo, Walgett and Mudgee.

“Nearly 40 per cent are kids between the ages of 10 and 19,” Western NSW Health’s Mr McLachlan said.

“This is a really serious warning for parents of kids running around everywhere at the moment. Please stay home.”

Mr McLachlan said there were low rates of vaccination among Aboriginal children and called on people to get vaccinated, and stressed that Pfizer is available. He urged residents to reach out to local Aboriginal Medical Centres, GP’s, vaccination hubs, respiratory clinics and prompted use of the Health Direct website.

You can read the article online at the NITV website.
To check where you can get your vaccine, visit the Health Direct website here.

Sign for Bourke Aboriginal Health Service. Image source: NITV website.

Sign for Bourke Aboriginal Health Service. Image source: NITV website.

 

Getting vaccinated as COVID-19 gets close

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Why Adam Goodes got the COVID-19 vaccine

feature tile text 'Adam Goodes tells us why he got the COVID-19 vaccine' drawing of syringes

Why Adam Goodes got the COVID-19 vaccine

Adnyamathanha and Narungga man Adam Goodes has explained (see video below) why he chose to get the COVID-19 vaccine and the importance of understanding the risks of COVID-19, and the benefits of vaccination. “Having my first injection does give me a peace of mind that I am doing my part and helping our families and our communities. To be honest, I have put a lot of thought into getting the COVID vaccination.”

“The obstetrician told us that my wife was able to get vaccinated to protect her and our baby. That made it very clear to me that is was very safe and it’s something that not only I, but all of us should really have a think about. Understand the risks involved in contracting COVID-19. I think it’s very important that all of us here in Australia should get vaccinated to protect our family and friends.”

“To my Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander brothers and sisters, it’s just as important for us to know the risks of COVID-19. But more importantly, the benefits of being vaccinated and the benefits to our mob and all of us going out there and getting that jab. Now that I’ve had my first injection, being vaccinated, it’s definitely something that I feel really proud about, not only to help protect myself and my family, but for me to do my part. By getting vaccinated, it’s helping us all move closer to getting back to normality. I’m arming myself against COVID-19 to protect myself, my family and the community.”

For COVID-19 vaccine information refer to state/territory health advice, ATAGI, Commonwealth.

Illustration in feature tile: Heads of State. Image source: WIRED website.

Boost in COVID-19 vaccines for ACCHOs

With COVID-19 numbers growing across NSW the AH&MRC has advocated for increased COVID-19 vaccines for ACCHOs to ensure the safety of Aboriginal people and communities. AH&MRC is proudly supporting 46 clinics across 29 ACCHOs in NSW to deliver the COVID-19 vaccine, with 8 clinics set to receive record numbers of vaccine doses.

Outbreaks of COVID-19 in regional NSW over the last two weeks have seen COVID-19 cases emerge in areas such as Dubbo and Walgett with close contact locations including Maitland, Mudgee, Bathurst and Orange. As the Aboriginal Health Peak Body in New South Wales, the AH&MRC has played a central role in supporting the ACCHOs to roll out the COVID-19 vaccines.

ACCHOs have delivered safe and effective COVID-19 responses to their communities for nearly 18 months now since the pandemic began. Strong communication around social distancing, isolation and quarantine have led to small numbers of Aboriginal cases of COVID-19. The current outbreak in the Greater Sydney area is now seeing cases move out into regional areas with high populations of Aboriginal people. ACCHOs that were receiving up to 120 doses of the Pfizer vaccine per week are now set to receive up to 600 doses per week in high-risk areas.

“In order to keep our people safe, it is essential that the ACCHO sector, including the AH&MRC, have the support of the Ministry of Health and other NSW Government branches. We are a priority population and we need action. We’re seeing workforce fatigue because we haven’t been resourced to be the leaders of the vaccine rollout for Aboriginal people. We can’t continue to foot the bill for this.” said Jade Hansen, Manager of Service Performance and Quality at the AH&MRC.

To view the AH&MRC’s media release in full click here.

vaccine being injected into arm

Image source: UNSW Sydney.

Pleas for Mob to talk about COVID-19 risks

The Mayor of Dubbo has pleaded with the Aboriginal community to speak up about the risks of COVID-19 as the cluster in Western NSW significantly increased.

Dubbo Mayor Stephen Lawrence again reinforced the health advice to stay at home and called upon members of the cities’ Aboriginal community to speak up. “Really, really important for the Aboriginal community to be strong advocates, as they have been, on this issue,” he said.

“If you are Aboriginal in West Dubbo, you can help by contacting your family and friends, especially people that might not be hearing these important health messages. Speak to your family, explain to them the urgent need to stay home. There’s been great reactions from leaders, Elders, sportspeople making social media videos, contributing to media, speaking out loudly to their community.”

To view the SBS NITV article in full click here.

Dubbo aerial view

Dubbo has seen a rise in COVID-19 cases. Image source: Nine News website.

Don’t believe the myths

As country and state leaders set their sites on vaccination goals to lift current COVID-19 restrictions, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are being urged to bolster the efforts and protect our communities.

On the frontline of the call to action is Gurdanji-Arrernte woman and head of NACCHO, Pat Turner OAM. In a high-risk category, Ms Turner described the process of receiving two doses of the Astra Zeneca vaccine as uneventful. “I had no reaction apart from a very sore arm and a bit of a headache,” she told NITV’s The Point. “I went home, took a panadol, went to bed – I woke up fine.”

As of 10 August about 150,000 First Nations people have received a dose of a COVID vaccine – equating to 27.9% of our population. 75,000 have been fully vaccinated, which is 13.6% of our people, figures that are well behind the wider population.

It’s a major concern for ACCHOs across the country, that have recently ordered 197, 246 doses of both the Pfizer and Astra Zeneca. Ms Turner wants First Nations peoples to take advantage of the supply.

“Don’t listen to all the myths, listen to the medical advice, listen to our health services,” she said. “Speak to the doctors if you have any concerns, but be rest assured you will have 99.9% protection if you get vaccinated against getting seriously ill and hospitalised.”

To view the article in full click here.

NACCHO CEO Pat Turner speaking on NITV The Point

Head of NACCHO, Pat Turner, is calling on mob to take advantage of vaccine supplies heading to ACCHOs. Image source: NITV.

Spreads as quick as a grass fire

Coonamble Aboriginal Medical Service CEO Phil Naden said a case there had seemed inevitable. “The reality has now hit home that this spreads as quick as a grass fire,” he said.

A 27-year-old man, released on bail from Bathurst prison, travelled six hours home to Walgett in the state’s north-west, passing through Coonamble on the way. At the time, the man had no inkling that a COVID-19 test he had taken in jail would soon come back positive.

The news was greeted with alarm in towns like Walgett and Coonamble, where around a third of the population is Aboriginal.

You can view the ABC news article in full here.

Coonamble AMS CEO Phil Naden portrait shot with green trees in background

Coonamble Aboriginal Medical Service CEO Phil Naden says the region was expecting a COVID case. Photo supplied: AH&MRC. Image source: ABC News website.

Calls for Indigenous vaccine data release

Under the current roll out plan, Indigenous Australians aged 55 and over have been classified as a 1B priority group since March. In June, it was expanded to all Indigenous people aged 16 and over.

But there is growing concern the vaccination rates of First Nations people are lagging behind the rest of the nation. Just 14% of First Nations people nationally are fully vaccinated compared to the overall national rate of 25%.

Figures released by the federal government show vaccination rates in WA’s Kimberley and Pilbara regions are lagging at 8.6%. It’s among the lowest in the nation.

Unlike NZ, the Australian Government does not provide a breakdown of vaccination rates for our First Nations people. It’s something that opposition Indigenous Australians spokesman and Wiradjuri woman Linda Burney insists must change. Labor is calling on the government to release daily data on local First Nations vaccination rates and on the availability of vaccines.

“The lockdown of Walgett Shire has exposed the low vaccination rates among First Nations people, in particular in regional and remote communities,” she said. “But the issue of First Nations vaccination now as it stands must begin with accountability and transparency. And that means publishing their data and being able to identify the areas that lack supply, and ensuring they don’t get left behind.”

It follows a similar call from NACCHO, who last week demanded greater transparency amid fears the lack of vaccine data could leave big gaps for communities to be exposed to the virus.

You can read the article in full here.

Linda Burney MP

Linda Burney has urged the government to release vaccination data daily. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Gaye Gerard. Image source: The Australian.

Walgett Elders’ COVID-19 fears

Uncle Victor Beale hoped COVID-19 would never reach his hometown of Walgett. But as NSW’s outbreak worsens, remote and regional communities like Walgett and Dubbo are now experiencing the same fear and uncertainty that has gripped cities around the country, and the world, for the past 18 months.

“I thought Walgett is one of the safest places on earth, we’ve been very lucky… [but now] there’s a lot of anxious people,” the 66-year-old Gamilaroi elder said.

The north-western NSW town and seven surrounding areas were plunged into a 7-day lockdown last Wednesday {11 August 2021] after a local man tested positive following his release from Bathurst jail.

“People just don’t know what’s gonna happen. They’re very tough these people out here, they handle just about everything, but when something sneaks up on you like this, it’s a whole different ball game,” Mr Beale said.

According to the 2016 Census, more than 40% of Walgett’s population identify as Indigenous, and many of them suffer from multiple chronic health conditions. The town has a four-bed hospital, and the nearest larger hospital is a three-hour drive away in Dubbo. Concerns are mounting about the strain on local health facilities if things get worse.

“We’ll be doing the best we can. We want to try and keep people on country if we can, but at the same time it’s going to be what’s best for them for medical treatment,” acting CEO of Walgett’s Aboriginal Medical Service Katrina Ward said.

To view the news article in full click here.

Katrina Ward, Acting CEO of Walgett Aboriginal Medical Service

Katrina Ward, Acting CEO of Walgett Aboriginal Medical Service. Image source: ABC News.

New process for job advertising

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: NACCHO CEO talks about COVID-19 vaccination rates

feature tile text 'NACCHO CEO talks about COVID-19 vaccination rates in ATSI communities' photo of back of Aboriginal man in outback receiving vaccine

NACCHO CEO talks about COVID-19 vaccination rates

NACCHO CEO Pat Turner AM spoke with journalist John Paul Jenke (Wuthathi from Cape York and from Murray Island in the Torres Strait) on NITV’s The Point last night about COVID-19 vaccination rates. Mr Jenke asked Pat Turner why we aren’t further along with the vaccinations in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and whether this is a supply issue or vaccine hesitancy.

Pat Turner said the vaccination rates are worrying but 96 of NACCHOs [143] member services around Australia are now delivering the Pfizer vaccine and 16 ACCHO Commonwealth vaccination centres (formally the respiratory clinics ) have commenced delivering Pfizer and 13 ACCHOs are being supported by the RFDS. In total have 197,246 doses have been ordered by ACCHOs, 75,486 of Pfizer and 121,760 of AstraZeneca. Pat Turner emphasised that COVID-19 is a very dangerous virus and to avoid getting seriously ill and ending up in hospital and possibly dying you must get vaccinated.

You can watch the interview with Pat Turner at 19:43:40 here.

tile text 'NITV NACCHO CEO Lead Convener Coalition of Peaks Pat Turner AM COIVD-19 Vaccine rates National Agreement on Closing the Gap View Episode 15, Season 2021: The Point, NITV' & photo of Pat Turner smiling in very colourful shirt

Image in feature tile from The Conversation.

GP COVID-19 update for GPs TOMORROW

The latest in the Australian Government Department of Health webinar series of COVID-19 vaccine updates for GPs is tomorrow Thursday 12 August from 11:30am-12pm (AEST). Dr Lucas de Toca, First Assistant Secretary, COVID-19 Primary Care Response Department of Health and Dr Chris Harrison, General Practitioner, Canberra will join Professor Michael Kidd AM on the webinar this week.

At this webinar, you’ll be provided with the latest information on the vaccine rollout.  GPs and all health professionals are welcome.

When you’re ready to join the webinar, use this link.

Mental health fastest growing hospital admission

The Australian Medical Association (AMA) has warned that despite additional investment in the last Budget, chronic underfunding of existing frontline services and a lack of psychiatrists is besetting a mental health sector struggling to cope in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. The AMA has told the House Select Committee on Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Australia’s mental health system is suffering from underfunding at all sector and government levels, and services are not coping with demand, even before the impact of COVID-19 is felt.

Calling for more investment into mental health care, AMA President Dr Omar Khorshid said that although extra funding in the last Budget was welcome, the providers of existing mental health services received no additional support despite overwhelming demand. The situation in public mental health is even more dire, landing more people with severe mental health conditions in already over-stretched hospital emergency departments.

“There are not enough psychiatrists in Australia and there is likely to be increased demand for their services generated by the pandemic. We urgently need an alternative to emergency departments treating people experiencing acute mental ill-health. We know that mental health admissions to hospitals are the fastest growing of any hospital admission, increasing at an average rate of 4.8% each year from 2013–14 and the five following years, so that’s a total growth of 26.4% over five years from 2013.

“People with mental health conditions are also staying longer in hospital – up to twice as long as people with heart conditions, for example, according to data from AIHW. “Australia also has a serious shortage of child and adolescent child psychiatrists and we need a serious commitment to grow this cohort of the mental health workforce to support early detection. We need to understand there is very high demand for mental health services in regional and rural areas and getting the workforce into these places requires urgent attention,” Dr Khorshid said.

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

Image source: Australia247 website.

First Nations census inclusion only 50 years ago

It’s been half a century since Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people were included in the national headcount. It’s more important than ever. The national census rolls around every five years, like just another item on life’s to-do list. But this year is special.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the 1971 census, the first ever to count Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. It followed the successful 1967 referendum to change Australia’s constitution, allowing First Nations people the right to be counted as citizens in their own country.

While many may see the quinquennial event as just another piece of government administration, a glorified headcount, it’s a significant moment. It’s a chance to get a clear picture of the country: where we come from, how old we are, what languages we speak, our health, and so much more. It’s why this anniversary is important: it gives us a snapshot of where we are as a community.

“The census is the largest time where our voices are heard as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people,” says Haidee Allan, a Census Spokesperson for 2021. “The census tells us things like housing, education, who’s living at home, and those things are really important for the services that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders need so vitally.”

To view the article in full click here.

Census Engagement Officers. Image source: NITV News.

Funding boost for FASD diagnosis and care

The diagnosis and treatment of children with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) is set to be strengthened with the announcement of $3.68 million in funding from the Federal Government’s Drug and Alcohol Program awarded to Griffith University researchers.

Led by Professor Sharon Dawe and Associate Professor Dianne Shanley from Menzies Health Institute Queensland, the projects worth $1.88 million and $1.8 million respectively, will help further the development of diagnostic and family support across south-east Queensland and establish new diagnostic facilities in rural and remote Queensland with a focus on supporting First Peoples communities.

In collaboration with Associate Professor Doug Shelton (Queensland Health), Dr Andrew Wood (University of the Sunshine Coast) Dr Gerald Featherston (Kummara Association) and Associate Professor Paul Harnett (Griffith) Dr Dawe’s project will help establish a specialist neurodevelopmental clinic at Griffith’s Logan Campus. It will also assist ongoing collaboration with the Gold Coast Child Development Clinics, Kummara Association, Institute of Urban Indigenous Health, University of the Sunshine Coast and Coastal Developmental Paediatrics, Sunshine Coast.

“The expansion of these clinics allows us to provide services to younger children aged 3–7 and embed a pathway of care that support children at a key developmental phase,” Professor Dawe said. She said early diagnosis and support was essential for children with FASD, “Early to middle childhood is a time when children learn important foundational skills around managing their own behaviours, learning to plan activities and follow more complex instructions. These skills are essential for success in school and life.” “Children with a FASD need extra help in developing these skills and there is growing evidence that supporting children and their families at this critical time can help reduce some of the damage that has occurred due to prenatal alcohol exposure,’’ Associate Professor Shelton said.

“This grant will expand the capabilities of health professionals in primary care, by using our co-designed, culturally sensitive, tiered assessment process to identify and support children who are developmentally not-on-track. Our project involves true partnerships between community Elders, health practitioners and university researchers whereby multiple world views have been genuinely valued and integrated,’’ Dr Page said.

To view the full article click here.

Image source: Australian Government AIFS website.

Build ’em up podcast

The Build ’em up podcast series which aims to inspire communities to build the health, social and mental wellbeing of rural, regional and remote communities around Australia.

In the first episode of Build ’em up Elsie Seriat OAM, a Torres Strait Islander Elsie Seriat, an inspirational mum of two young boys, talks about her life and her involvement in Deadly Runners an Indigenous marathon project involving her participation in the New York Marathon. Elsie talks about why she took up running to self-manage her weight problems, the role models in her life and how important it is to inspire others in her community to make positive changes and not to be shame or ashamed.

You can listen to the Build ’em Up Elsie Seriat interview here and access the Build ’em Up website here.

TSI mum Elise Seriat holding two young sons - a baby & toddler

Torres Strait Islander Elsie Seriat. Image source: National Rural Health Alliance website.

Solving rural health workforce shortages

Three local government areas (LGAs) in north-western NSW have been selected to participate in a research project to address their long-standing health workforce shortages. Glen Innes, Gwydir Shire and Narrabri LGAs will work with a research team headed by Dr Cath Cosgrave to establish, fund and manage a Health Workforce Recruiter & Connector (HWRC) position.

“We have had a fantastic response from interested communities to establish the Health Workforce Recruiter and Connector (HWRC) positions,” said Dr Cosgrave. “The successful towns should be congratulated for their commitment to ensuring their residents have access to a range of health professionals needed to keep people healthy.” The purpose of the HWRC is to build networks to better identify and successfully attract health professionals (allied health, doctors and nurses) who are a ‘strong fit’ for the local community.

To view the media release click here.

Image source: University of Melbourne.

New process for job advertising

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: NACCHO Members’ Conference 2021

NACCHO Member’s Conference 2021

The 2021 NACCHO Youth Conference, Members’ Conference and Annual General Meeting has been confirmed to run from Monday 22 November to Thursday 25 November 2021. The conference will be held at the National Convention Centre Canberra.

The NACCHO Annual Members’ Conference, Youth Conference, EGM and AGM will be a COVID-safe event. The health and wellbeing of our members and stakeholders are of utmost priority and hence we will monitor constantly the Australian Government regulations and guidelines around COVID-19 and evolve our plans based on the current direction for the venue state ACT and across Australia.

Due to the developing COVID-19 situation across Australia and the ongoing uncertainty about travel restrictions, the event may get postponed to later date due to the unforeseen COVID-19 restrictions.

You can access the NACCHO National Conference Prospectus Package 2021 here.

PM thanks Coalition of Peaks 

PM Scott Morrison delivered the annual Closing the Gap (CTG) statement to Parliament, yesterday announcing a $1 billion plan to reduce disadvantage among Indigenous Australians.

You can watch video footage of the PM speaking to the media from Parliament House yesterday after announcing the plan. The PM thanks head of the Coalition of Peaks (CoP) Pat Turner for “bringing together over 50 organisations who serve Indigenous Australians all around the country with the passion, professionalism and dedication” here. You can also read a transcript of the entire press conference here and Pat Turner’s speech extracted here.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Coalition of Peaks head Pat Turner at a press conference in Parliament House

Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Coalition of Peaks head Pat Turner at a press conference in Parliament House. Photo: AAP. Image source: SBS News.

Organisations welcome CTG funding

A range of organisations have welcomed the PM’s announcement of more than $1 billion in new measures committed over the next five years towards Closing the Gap outcomes. Below is a sample of some of the statements made:

Australian Human Rights Commission Executive Officer Dr Joe Tighe said that “while Close the Gap Campaign members are acutely aware of the depth of the needs to be met, it is important to pause and acknowledge the tireless work of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders who enable significant steps forward such as this.”

Suicide Prevention Australia said in its media release the focus on supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children with $160 million for the Healthy Mums and Healthy Bubs program, the Community Child Care Fund, the Connected Beginnings Program and the Early Years Education Program.

Central Land Council chief executive Lesley Turner said in its media release the new funding is a good start, “This is a welcome step forward to improve the lives of Aboriginal people and communities through a whole-of-government approach in consultation with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled partners.”

Oxfam Australia Chief Executive Lyn Morgain said in her media release “It’s pleasing to see significant contributions to support critical improvements in key areas, such as more than $250 million to support Aboriginal medical clinics, $75 million to support remote education and $7.6 million to create a Justice Policy Partnership to drive national action to reduce incarceration rates. This new level of policy focus, engagement and action marks a big step forward.”

SNAICC welcomed the announcement of $120 million of new federal government investments to improve access to quality early childhood education. An additional $81.8 million will expand the Connected Beginnings program in 27 new sites across the country, a program that aims to support the integration of early childhood education, health, development and family support programs for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children. In a media release SNAICC CEO Catherine Liddle said “This major new investment is critical for supporting our young children and families. Under the new National Agreement on Closing the Gap, we have an opportunity to work differently to achieve the best outcomes for our kids.”

Early Childhood Australia CEO Samantha Page said in a media release the funding will enable many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children to access high-quality early childhood education and care, providing a strong foundation for lifelong learning, health and wellbeing, “We know that 2 in 5 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children are developmentally vulnerable when they start school. This investment will ensure that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, particularly in rural and remote areas, won’t miss out on the critical benefits of early learning.”

Thrive by Five CEO Jay Weatherill said in a media release the announcement of $120 in programs to improve access to preschool for Indigenous children in regional and remote Australia as part of the Closing the Gap implementation plan was recognition of the importance of high quality and universally accessible early learning. “We know that high quality early childhood education sets children up for life. When children attend high quality early learning they start school ready to learn and have greater opportunities to fulfil their potential in later life.”

The initial funding breakdown and the Commonwealth Plan can be accessed here.

Image source: AbSec website.

CTG plan ignores housing crisis

Some advocates are already warning the Federal Government’s plan for the new Closing the Gap targets lacks any significant commitment on one key issue: remote housing. John Patterson, CEO of the Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance of the Northern Territory and NT Representative on the Closing the Gap Council You was interviewed on ABC Radio National about his concerns. You can listen to the interview here.

housing in Arnhem Land, tents, run down building

Housing in Arnhem Land. Photo: Lucy Marks. Image source: ABC RN Breakfast with Fran Kelly.

On the same day as this interview the Social Policy and Legal Affairs Standing Committee – Final report: Inquiry into homelessness in Australia. You can access the report here. The report calls for Australian government to work together to establish a ten-year national strategy on homelessness. In a media release, the Chair of the Committee, Mr Andrew Wallace MP, highlighted that a coordinated national approach is needed to bring down the number of people who are experiencing or at risk of homelessness.

Truth of Australia’s incarceration

Every day, thousands of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples across Australia wake up behind the bars of Australian prisons. Children live out their childhood in juvenile detention centres, hundreds of kilometres away from their family. Families continue to fight for justice and accountability for the deaths of their once imprisoned relatives, while the calls for solutions which empower Indigenous Australians to drive the change needed become louder. Incarceration Nation lays bare the story of the continued systemic injustice and inequality experienced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on their own land, told by Indigenous Australians, experts and academics. Premiering on free to air television on Sunday 29 August at 8:30pm, National Indigenous Television (NITV) is proud to bring this important documentary to Australian screens.

You can view the NITV media release here.

painting of Aboriginal fist in shackles with text 'incarceration nation'

Addressing health inequity research

The latest issue of the Australian Health Review, the academic journal of the Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association (AHHA), shines a light on a deep problem in healthcare – health inequity experienced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples – and focuses on some of the key issues which can be addressed to improve the health outcomes,’ says Editor-in-Chief, Professor Sonĵ Hall.

‘In a policy reflection, Dr Janine Mohamed, CEO of Lowitja Institute, highlights the importance of strengthening the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander workforce. ‘Dr Mohamed’s message of strengthening the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander workforce to improve the care outcomes of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples is one that is echoed in a perspectives piece by Dr Chris Bourke, Andrew McAuliffe and Prof Lisa Jamieson.

You can access the article in full here.

Image source: American College of Health Care Executives.

Cultural Determinants of Health webinar

If you haven’t registered already, we’d love for you to join us live for the fourth webinar in our Cultural Determinants of Health webinar series. We will be live on

12:00pm – 1:30pm – Friday 13 August

This webinar will focus on connection to family, kinship and community the cohesive forces that bind Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people together. Topics we’ll be covering include:

  • Aboriginal social structures and how these are different to Western societies
  • Whole identity relationships and bonds across Nations and Clans
  • Aboriginal kinship systems and how they operate
  • Potential conflict in working with people from differing cultural backgrounds
  • Cultural load and leadership in the community
  • Family structures and the sets of rights and obligations underlying them

You can register for the webinar here.logo text 'Centre for healthcare Knowledge & Innovation - Collaborate - Learn - Advance] blue circle overlaid with small red blue gold circles

New process for job advertising

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

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

International Day of World’s Indigenous Peoples

The United Nations’ (UN) International Day of the World’s Indigenous People is observed on annually on 9 August to promote and protect the rights of the world’s Indigenous population. The day is needed, as across the world, Indigenous peoples are often among the poorest ethnic groups in society. According to the UN, indigenous people make up less than 5% of the world’s population but account for 15% of the poorest. They speak an overwhelming majority of the world’s estimated 7,000 languages and represent 5,000 different cultures.

To learn more about International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples click here.

On this day, Monday 9 August 2021, UN Women will be calling for a new social contract to rebuild our world in a way that is forward-looking, equitable and targeted to the most marginalized. An ongoing legacy of exclusionary polices, underrepresentation in decision-making and corruption in land and natural resource management in many countries means that indigenous peoples often face a lifetime of poverty, exclusion and discrimination. For indigenous women and girls experiencing multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination, the effects can span generations and be exacerbated by the COVID-19 crisis.

To view the UN Women’s statement click here.

logo text 'International Day of the World's Indigenous Peoples - 9 August' banner lines yellow, red, green, brown, cream background

NACCHO Members’ Conference 2021

NACCHO have announced the date of their Members’ Conference, Youth Conference, EGM and AGM for 2021 – Monday 22 – Thursday 25 November 2021, Canberra.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: AMA calls for mandatory vaccination of health care workers

Feature tile - Tue 31.8.21 - AMA calls for mandatory vaccination of health care workers

AMA calls for mandatory vaccination of health care workers

The AMA is calling for mandatory vaccinations for the workforce of the entire health care system including support staff like cleaners, receptionists and contractors as soon as practical. The AMA says public health orders to mandate vaccinations should begin in hospitals, then the wider health system.

With worrying numbers of COVID-19-infected frontline workers furloughed and unable to work, as well as several clusters being linked to hospitals, AMA President Dr Omar Khorshid said mandatory vaccines for healthcare workers are needed to sustain the health system into the future as we learn to live with COVID-19.

“We need to bring these workers and the environment they work in, out of crisis mode and the first step towards that is to protect them through vaccination. This is about health care worker safety and the safety of patients, and not about vaccines by force,” Dr Khorshid said.

You can read the media release by the AMA here.

Person receiving vaccine. Image source: AMA website. Feature image: AMA President Dr Omar Khorshid.

Person receiving vaccine. Image source: AMA website. Feature image: AMA President Dr Omar Khorshid.

First COVID death among mob

“We would like to extend our sincere condolences to the family and to the community of the Dubbo man who passed away yesterday. We are very saddened by this news and it was something that we tried to avoid and did our best to date. But this just goes to show how deadly and invasive the Delta variant of the virus is and why it is absolutely essential for all of our people from age 12 up to have the vaccinations which are now readily available. I encourage everybody to go and get vaccinated as soon as possible.”

NACCHO CEO Pat Turner AM

You can watch the interview with Ms Turner from last night’s episode of The Drum on ABC here.
Find out where you can get your vaccine via the Department of Health’s Eligibility Checker here.

NACCHO CEO Pat Turner AM on The Drum Monday 30 August 2021.

NACCHO CEO Pat Turner AM on The Drum Monday 30 August 2021.

 

Orange AMS providing mobile COVID testing

OAMS practice manager Christie Cain said that between Tuesday, August 24, – when the rapid-testing clinic was first mobilised – and Monday morning, 225 people had been swabbed for COVID in Orange so far. According to Mrs Cain, the clinic which had been rolled out in partnership with the Western NSW Local Health District, was to assist those in Orange having difficulties getting to testing clinics.

“We’re prioritising, at the moment, patients of close contacts [and] vulnerable communities that aren’t able to get to a clinic,” Mrs Cain said.

“That’s anyone, even if they’re not asymptomatic, they’ll call through to a switch, and then they are booked in, and then allocated to a team who will then go out.”

You can read the article in The Central Western Daily here.

 SWAB MOBILE: Cathy Gutterson, Tania Biddle and Peter Fuller from OAMS are making sure no-one misses out on testing. PHOTO: CARLA FREEDMAN

SWAB MOBILE: Cathy Gutterson, Tania Biddle and Peter Fuller from OAMS are making sure no-one misses out on testing. PHOTO: CARLA FREEDMAN

 

Clarification on COVID-19 vaccine information for 12-15 year-olds

In yesterday’s issue of the NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: 12-15 year olds now eligible for vaccine, we shared the following three media releases:

NACCHO would like to clarify that this information, while accurate, refers to the overall Australian population and that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 12 and over have been eligible for the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine since 2 August 2021. You can read the statement from the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation here.

Up-to-date information for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples about COVID-19 vaccines can be found here.

We apologies if this caused any confusion to our readers.

 

Co-founder of Awabakal remembered

We warn our readers that this story mentions people and contain images of people who have passed on.

Co-founder of the Awabakal Newcastle Aboriginal Co-operative, William Edward Smith died from pancreatic cancer in Newcastle on Sunday. He was aged 83.

Living on Awabakal land and as an elder, Bill Smith helped others puts down roots. In the mid-1970s, he was involved in establishing the Awabakal Newcastle Aboriginal Co-operative, assisting with everything from housing to health.

“It’s made a lot of difference, especially on the medical, on the health side of our people,” said Bill’s older son Edward Smith.

“He was such a beautiful man. He was such a trailblazer for his generation, and he embraced everyone around him with such warmth,” said Newcastle Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes.

Saretta Fielding, Bill Smith’s niece and an acclaimed artist, said her uncle “led the way”.

“He built bridges over many years,” Mrs Fielding said, “to create better opportunities for Aboriginal people, but also in being inclusive and welcoming to the broader community, to work together towards reconciliation and to really understand each other.”

You can read the story in the Newcastle Herald here.

Indigenous leader and businessman Bill Smith. Picture: Courtesy, Paul Szumilas and Smith Family.

Indigenous leader and businessman Bill Smith. Picture: Courtesy, Paul Szumilas and Smith Family.

 

COVID-19 support for communities

The COVID-19 Aboriginal Community Response Program has opened today. Quick response grants of up to $10,000 are available for Aboriginal community organisations and groups to meet the immediate health and wellbeing needs of Aboriginal people across the state as part of Aboriginal Affairs NSW’s COVID-19 response strategy.

Minister for Aboriginal Affairs Don Harwin said the grants would help to provide Aboriginal communities with targeted COVID-19 information and assistance from trusted services.

Read the media release by the NSW Government Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Don Harwin here.

Image source: NSW Government Aboriginal Affairs website.

Image source: NSW Government Aboriginal Affairs website.

 

GPs urged to review accreditation arrangements

GPs are being urged to have their say on a new review of general practice accreditation arrangements.

The independent review, commissioned by the Department of Health, has been designed to reveal the barriers and incentives for general practices participating in accreditation, and highlight areas for improvement. It will also explore existing accreditation models, issues for accrediting agencies providing services to general practices, alternate accreditation models, and potential overlaps between general practice and educational accreditation.

RACGP Expert Committee – Standards for General Practices Chair Dr Louise Acland is encouraging anyone who has an interest or experience with accreditation to provide feedback, including GPs, practice owners, practice managers and nursing staff.

Find out more in NewsGP on the RACGP website.

Female doctor working on laptop at desk in office. Image credit: RACGP website.

Female doctor working on laptop at desk in office. Image credit: RACGP website.

 

Seeking members for TGA committees

Would you like to contribute to the regulation of therapeutic goods in Australia? Have you considered becoming a member of one of the Therapeutic Goods Administration’s committees?

The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) is seeking applications from medical and scientific experts to fill a number of upcoming vacancies across TGA’s Statutory Advisory Committees and the Australian Influenza Vaccine Committee. You must have expertise in relevant medical or scientific fields or experience with consumer health issues.

As a committee member you will contribute significantly towards the TGA’s regulatory functions by providing independent expert advice on matters across a broad spectrum of issues relating to medicines, devices, vaccines and other products and substances.

Further information about the roles of the TGA Statutory Advisory Committees can be found here, and for the Australian Influenza Vaccine Committee can be found here.

If you have the appropriate expertise and are interested in contributing to the regulation of therapeutic goods in Australia, we would like to hear from you.

Applications close this week, contact NACCHO on medicines@naccho.org.au if you won’t be able to apply in this time or if you have any questions.

To apply, and find out more about the appointment process, go to the Department of Health website.
Enquiries can be made by email to committee.vacancies@health.gov.au

TGA seeking members for advisory committees.

Image source: AMA website.

 

New process for job advertising

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

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


dice spelling JOBS resting on keyboard

 

Let’s CHAT Dementia – Webinar Series

Dementia is a rapidly growing health issue for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Let’s CHAT (Community Health Approaches To) Dementia is a NHMRC-funded co-design project based in 12 Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services across Australia which aims to optimise detection and management of cognitive impairment in primary care.

In collaboration with Dementia Training Australia, the Let’s CHAT Dementia team and partners bring you a six-part series of webinars aimed at primary health care teams including General Practitioners, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health practitioners and health workers, nurses, allied health professionals and others who work in primary care with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Webinar One: Best Practice Cognitive Impairment and Dementia Care
2 September 2021 – Online
7:00pm (AEST), 6:30pm (ACDT), 5:00pm (AWST)
This event is funded by the Australian Government and free to attend.
A Certificate of Attendance will be provided to attendees at the end of the event.

Presenters:

  • Dr Mary Belfrage, Clinical Lead NACCHO-RACGP Partnership Project, The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners
  • Professor Constance Dimity Pond, Professor of General Practice, University of Newcastle

Find out more about the webinars and how to register here.

LCD webinar image.

Image source: Dementia Training Australia website.