NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: 10-year plan to improve Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health

PLEASE NOTE: This is the last edition of the NACCHO Aboriginal Health News blog for 2021 and we will resume again in the new year from 18 January 2022.

Artwork in feature tile from the cover of the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan 2021–­2031. Artwork created by Tarni O’Shea and Gilimbaa.

10-year plan to improve Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health

In partnership with state and territory governments and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health leaders, the Morrison Government has today Wednesday 15 December 2021 launched the refreshed National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan 2021-2031 (Health Plan) – a national policy framework to improve health and wellbeing outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people over the next 10 years.

“The Health Plan is the first national health document to address and embed the health targets and Priority Reforms of the National Agreement on Closing the Gap,” Minister for Health and Aged Care, Greg Hunt said.

“In particular, the Health Plan prioritises the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled health sector and the imperative for mainstream health services to provide culturally safe and responsive care.”

CEO of NACCHO and the Lead Convener of the Coalition of Peaks, Pat Turner AM shared the following messages in a video about the release of the plan:

“The Plan embeds an integrated life course approach to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health care and prioritises our holistic model of care.”

“Critically, this Plan recognises the significant role that the Aboriginal community controlled health sector plays within Australia’s primary healthcare architecture. Our ACCHO sector is leading the way in the delivery of comprehensive, primary health care services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.”

“Implementation will enable ACCHOs to strengthen and grow so they can continue to deliver integrated care and primary health services over the next 10 years,” Ms Turner said.

You can read the Department of Health media release here.

View and download the 10-Year National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan 2021-2031 here.

Watch the joint video release from ministers and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health leaders about the release here. The video message features recordings from:

  • The Hon Greg Hunt MP, Minister for Health and Aged Care
  • Ms Donna Murray, CEO of Indigenous Allied Health Australia, Co-chair of the Health Plan Working Group
  • Professor Tom Calma AO, National Co-ordinator, Tackling Indigenous Smoking, Deputy Chair of the Health Plan Working Group
  • Ms Pat Turner, CEO of the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisation
  • The Hon Key Wyatt AM MP, Minister for Indigenous Australians
  • Senator the Hon Richard Colbeck, Minister for Senior Australians and Aged Care Services, and Minister for Sport
  • The Hon Dr David Gillespie, Minister for Regional Health
  • The Hon David Coleman MP, Assistant Minister to the Prime Minister for Mental Health and Suicide Prevention

Closing the Gap Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme scripts deadline 31 January 2022

As of 31 January 2022, Closing the Gap (CTG) PBS scripts will not be available for people who aren’t registered correctly with Services Australia.

There are recent changes to the CTG program which aim to make it easier for eligible Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to access medicines. Patients from any geographical location only need to be registered for the program once in their lifetime, to get free or reduced cost PBS medicines from any community pharmacy in Australia, without the need for each script to be marked ‘CTG’.

As of 1 July 2021, there is a new national registration system run by Services Australia for the CTG PBS Co-payment program. This system is called Health Professional Online Services (HPOS). Unfortunately, not all patients who previously received CTG scripts were transferred to the new database on HPOS, resulting in some people paying more for medicines. Potentially thousands of people who have previously had CTG scripts may be affected.

In response to this issue, the Australian Government allowed all people who had previously received CTG scripts but are not currently registered for CTG on HPOS, to continue to access CTG-subsidised medicines until 31 January 2022.

You can view the NACCHO media statement here.

PBS Co-Payment Gap

Laynha joins the NACCHO family

We wish to welcome Laynhapuy Homelands Aboriginal Corporation (LHAC or ‘Laynha’) as the latest member of the NACCHO family. Upon recommendation from the Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance Northern Territory (AMSANT), the NACCHO Board approved Laynha to become the 144th member of NACCHO on 8 December 2021.

Laynha was established in 1985 and has since been providing support to some 30 Indigenous Homelands across North East Arnhem Land in the Northern Territory with a population of approximately 1100 Yolngu residents across the region, and approximately 300 regular visitors.

Laynha supports homeland communities through:

  • Yirralka Rangers
  • Health Services
  • Community Services
  • Homeland Services
  • Ganybu Housing Aboriginal Corporation
  • Partnerships with organisations in the region with shared interests to support employment and training opportunities, culture and community, and economic development
  • Representing and promoting Laynha homelands

You can find about more about Laynha by visiting their website.

Laynhapuy Homelands Aboriginal Corporation - logo

Program needed to invest in culturally safe public health workforce

In one of the biggest demonstrations of support for significant new investment in Australia’s over-stretched public health workforce, well over 500 people registered for an online symposium on 7 December 2021. The symposium brought together many of Australia’s leading public health experts in the field.

Jointly presented by the Public Health Association of Australia (PHAA), the Australasian Faculty of Public Health Medicine (AFPHM) and NACCHO, the two-hour symposium discussed the new and existing public health workforce gaps, and the actions and support required to create increased efficiency and efficacy of public health services.

Medical Advisor for NACCHO Dr Megan Campbell spoke to Adam Evans from the National Indigenous Radio Service following the symposium.

“There is a need for a national program to train up people in public health and we need to have really broad based skills in that training program. We don’t just want doctors, we also need nurses and Aboriginal health workers who are interested in public health.”

Dr Campbell also stated that here is a real need for investment from all governments to fund positions.

“It’s really important that there are competencies as part of the curriculum around Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health so that we can build the workforce within the sector but also build cultural safety of the workforce in mainstream organisations,” Dr Campbell said.

You can listen to the interview here.

Image sources: Public Health Association Australia.

Attention turns to supporting mob through QLD outbreak

Indigenous COVID vaccination rates continue to trail behind other parts of the Queensland community, and health experts say the race is now on to prepare for outbreaks following the easing of border rules this week. Health services working with First Nations people are working to drive up those rates, as are state-mandated rules that will lock non-vaccinated Queenslanders and visitors out of cafes, bars, venues and even some health facilities from Friday.

Kaava Watson is the network director for the Institute of Urban Indigenous Health (UIH) in the state’s south east. The Birri Gubba and Kungalu man said it was now too late to worry about whether the state should risk new COVID cases by opening the border.

“Our attention is now geared towards the actual work that we’re going to have to do in terms of supporting our mob through this outbreak,” he said.

“Our concern has moved to a sense of urgency — really around the things we need to do to keep mob safe over the coming months, once we start to see community transmission of COVID.”

He said that included ensuring there was access to medication, food supplies, and support if people had to isolate.

You can read the article in the ABC News here.

Sue Andrews looks through a patient list during a door-to-door vaccination drive along the beaches in South Yarrabah. Image source: ABC News.

Sue Andrews looks through a patient list during a door-to-door vaccination drive along the beaches in South Yarrabah. Image source: ABC News.

Australia must move quickly to speed up COVID-19 booster program

The AMA has warned Australia’s COVID-19 booster program is already falling behind, risking more suffering from COVID-19 and a repeat of mistakes seen overseas where we are seeing the rapid spread of Omicron.

AMA President Dr Omar Khorshid said today the AMA was extremely concerned at the lack of support for the booster program, particularly through General Practice and pharmacies.

“Whilst we recognise that the state and territory vaccination hubs have taken nurses out of hospitals, aged care, and other health settings, it is critical that state and territory governments continue to run these clinics to ensure adequate access to vaccines for Australians needing their booster shot.

“By the end of this month close to four million people will be eligible for the booster, however, in the last week Australia has only been able to administer just over 210,000 booster doses.

“The latest strain of COVID-19, Omicron, poses a significant potential risk to the population and appears much more transmissible than previous strains, so we have to pick up the pace to protect the community.

“We need to urgently reach out to the public to encourage them to come forward for their booster, and GPs are best placed to do this for many in the population,” Dr Khorshid said.

You can read the AMA Media release here.

Senator Patrick Dodson getting his COVID-19 vaccine booster! Image source: Nindilingarri Cultural Health Services.

Senator Patrick Dodson getting his COVID-19 vaccine booster. Image source: Nindilingarri Cultural Health Services.

WA on high alert as COVID-19 spreads towards border

With proximity to the South Australian and Northern Territory borders, one of Australia’s most remote communities is facing a renewed urgency to boost COVID-19 vaccination rates. As of December 8, only 43 per cent of Indigenous people in the Ngaanyatjarra Lands were fully vaccinated.

With COVID-19 scares over the border in neighbouring states, community leaders are concerned an outbreak could be devastating.

On Monday, SA Health said the virus was detected in the wastewater in Pipalyatjara, just 30 kilometres from the West Australian border.

You can read the article in the ABC News here.

In a related article, the Northern Territory has detected four new COVID-19 cases in the community as an outbreak spreads towards the West Australian border. One of the infections is linked to a cluster in the town of Katherine, 320km south of Darwin. The other three cases are unconfirmed, but Health Minister Natasha Fyles said they are very likely to be genuine infections due to the close contacts. Two of those are in remote Timber Creek near the WA border, 225km east of Kununurra, and the other one is in Kalkarindji, 550km south of Darwin.

Meanwhile, the Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance Northern Territory has called for Katherine and its surrounding area to be locked down to slow the spread.

It said vaccination rates are not high enough to be fully protective and more health workers were urgently needed in the area.

You can read the article in the Mudgee Guardian here.

The NT has four new COVID-19 cases as an outbreak spreads towards the Western Australian border. Image source: The Mudgee Guardian.

The NT has four new COVID-19 cases as an outbreak spreads towards the Western Australian border. Image source: The Mudgee Guardian.

Significant progress to Close the Gap for Vision

The 10th annual update on the Implementation of the Roadmap to Close the Gap for Vision shows significant progress has been made to improve eye care outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people but service shortfalls and equity gaps remain.

Professor Hugh Taylor AC, Harold Mitchell Professor of Indigenous Eye Health at the University of Melbourne says there is now Roadmap activity across the whole country.

Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services, Aboriginal and/or Torres Islander people and other Indigenous-controlled organisations are also leading eye care activities at regional and state levels.

“With Australian Government support for the remaining recommendations, the gap for vision can be closed and we will be well on the way to end avoidable blindness in Indigenous communities by 2025, the goal set by Australia’s Long Term National Health Plan,” Professor Hugh Taylor said.

He also notes that the increase in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leadership of eye care work, on all levels, is a crucial step towards ensuring the best and most appropriate models of care are available.

You can find out more about the update on the SBS NITV Radio website.

Reanna Bathern having an eye test

Optometrist Kerryn Hart with patient Reanna Bathern, who needed updated glasses, and works at the public health section of the Anyinginyi Health Aboriginal Corporation. Image source: Optometry Australia.

Regional statistics about First Nations’ health and wellbeing

Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) has developed the Regional Insights for Indigenous Communities (RIFIC) website to be an accessible and user friendly website, intended for communities to access data about the regions in which they are located.

The website brings together a range of regional statistics about the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and their communities. The aim of the website is to provide access to data at a local level, to help communities set their priorities and participate in joint planning with government and service providers. The Indigenous communities and Other locations referenced, are derived from the Australian Government Indigenous Programs & Policy Locations and Australian Bureau of Statistics’ State Suburbs data sets.

You can view the RIFIC website here.

Woman gently touching child's face

Image source: AIHW RIFIC website.

Winnunga News December 2021

The Winnunga News December 2021 edition is now available. In this issue you can read about:

  • Aboriginal Hero and Great Australian – Dalaithngu
  • Indigenous Woman Sues ACT Over Forced Strip Search Her Legal Team Alleges Amounts To ‘Torture’
  • Canberra’s Don Dale Moment?
  • Labor-Greens Governing Agreement Status Report Raises Serious Questions
  • Anti-Vaxxer Staff in The AMC May Risk the Lives of Vulnerable Detainees
  • Fix The System First or It’s Just A Political Stunt
  • I Write While My Children Steal Cars and Rob Houses…
  • Experience Of An AMC Prisoner
  • COVID-19 Update
  • Winnunga Christmas Shut Down
  • Staff Profile

You can view the newsletter 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.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Invest in public health before next pandemic

Feature tile - Tue 7.12.21 - Invest in Public Health Workforce now

Invest in Public Health Workforce now, before the next pandemic hits

Chief Health Officers and public health leaders from across Australia will today, 7 December outline their ideas for the future of Australia’s Public Health Workforce in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Dr Kerry Chant PSM (NSW), Prof Brett Sutton (VIC) and Dr James Smith (QLD) among others will focus their attention on ensuring the development of the future public health experts, in a forum organised by the Public Health Association of Australia in partnership with NACCHO and the Australasian Faculty of Public Health Medicine (AFPHM).

With the pandemic far from over and the next one around the corner, now is the time to plan for and commit resources to developing the next generation of public health leaders, PHAA CEO, Adjunct Prof Terry Slevin said.

“In our efforts in ‘Closing the gap’, it is essential that we strengthen the cultural safety and Aboriginal health expertise of our public health workforce,” Dr Megan Campbell from NACCHO said.

“There must be training and leadership opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and recognition of the important role of ACCHOs in keeping communities safe and healthy.”

You can view the media release here.

Aboriginal dot painting of Australia with 4 stick figures' from cover of publication

Image from cover of: National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workforce Strategic Framework 2016–2023.

Closing the Gap National Agreement – a framework for our children’s futures

NACCHO CEO and Lead Convener of the Coalition of Peaks Pat Turner AM delivered the keynote address this morning at the SNAICC National Conference.

“We have been protecting and caring for our families and our children for more than 60,000 years.”

“Before I am the CEO of any organisation, I am foremost an Aboriginal woman, the daughter of an Arrente man and a Gurdanji woman. I am part of a kinship structure where I have many reciprocal obligations and caring responsibilities to my family.”

“I say this as it is important that when we are talking now about supporting our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and families to thrive and addressing the rates of out of home care of our children, that we always remember the strength that is in our peoples, our culture and our own ways. And that we remember that it is not our culture that is the problem, as our culture is our strength and the way forward.”

“Today, I want to talk to you about the voices of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are saying about the reasons why there are so many of our children in the child protection system and what is needed by governments and non-Indigenous organisations and those working to improve the situation.”

“As part of this, I will talk about how the new National Agreement on Closing the Gap provides a framework to design and implement national and local responses to support our children.”

You can read the keynote address here.

Danila Dilba Health Service celebrates 30 years

On Saturday 4 December 2021, Danila Dilba Health Service in Darwin celebrated their 30th anniversary.

Danila Dilba_30 years

Danila Dilba has a wide range of services in and around Darwin, including a special men’s clinic, tackling tobacco and healthy lifestyles, youth support, social and emotional wellbeing, care co-ordination, parenting support, alcohol and other drugs, and advocacy.

The service is an integral part of their local communities regularly organising BBQs, sports carnivals and beach events.

During the pandemic Danila Dilba has been organising meals for isolated elders. They also have a great record in getting services to transient people with about 800 people sleeping rough in the area.

Upon request by Danila Dilba, NACCHO CEO Pat Turner AM created the below video with a congratulatory message to be played during the anniversary ceremony.

“It is a truly wonderful thing to see the ‘community control’ model that was developed by Aboriginal people at the very first ACCHO in Redfern, fifty years ago, now taken up all over the country. And it’s organisations like Danila Dilba that have been leading the way,” said Ms Turner.

Health and medical experts call for the age of criminal responsibility to be raised to at least 14

Leading health and medical organisations in Australia say they will not stop pushing for the law to reflect medical science, and for governments to raise the age of criminal responsibility to at least 14.

In an open letter sent today, a coalition of 30 health and medical organisations has called on all state and territory Premiers, Health Ministers and Attorneys-General to urgently raise the age of criminal responsibility from 10 to at least 14 years of age.

The letter outlines evidence which shows children under 14 do not possess the capacity to have criminal intent:

  • Medical evidence is clear that children under 14 years of age are undergoing rapid brain development which makes them vulnerable to increased impulsivity, sensation-seeking behaviour and peer influence.
  • Child development and neuroscience demonstrates that maturity and the capacity for abstract reasoning are still evolving in children aged 10 to 13 years, due to the fact that their frontal cortex is still developing.

The experts say alternative models to incarceration exist, and there is already an evidence-based pathway to raising the age as set out through the independent review headed by Emeritus Professor Morag McArthur.

You can read the media release here.
Read the open letter here.
You can read Emeritus Professor Morag McArthur’s independent review here.

Raise The Age logo

$540 million to continue and expand Australia’s COVID-19 response

The Australian Government has invested a further $540 million in response to the COVID 19 pandemic including significant funding to keep Australians safe, and for COVID-19 testing.

COVID-19 has had an unprecedented impact on Australians’ way of life and the emergence of the Omicron variant of concern highlights that while we have come a long way, we require robust health measures to continue to underpin our COVID-19 Health Response.

Of this funding, $492 million will be invested into measures to continue support for all Australians, including:

  • The Aged Care Preparedness Support Measures Extension
  • The Victorian Aged Care Response Centre (VACRC)
  • Support for Aged Care Workers in COVID-19 Program (SACWIC)
  • COVID-19 Indigenous and Remote Response Measures
  • The National Incident Centre
  • MBS fee for COVID-19 pathology items
  • COVID-19 pathology testing in aged care
  • Aged Care: RAD Loan Scheme

In addition, $48 million will be invested into COVID-19 medical research to explore multiple aspects of COVID-19, including vaccination, treatment and modelling.

You can read the media release here.

COVID-19 testing

COVID-19-testing. Image source: Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Services.

First COVID death in the NT

This story contains names and details of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples who have passed on.

A 78-year-old woman from the remote community of Binjari has become the first person in the Northern Territory to die from COVID-19. Her infection was linked to the current viral cluster in the Katherine region. The elderly woman who was not vaccinated died in Royal Darwin Hospital last Thursday night from complications related to COVID-19.

Before now, the Northern Territory was the only jurisdiction in Australia without any deaths from coronavirus.

“It is an awful reminder of the severity of COVID. It is a critical reminder of why we take COVID so seriously,” NT Chief Minister Michael Gunner said.

You can read the article in the ABC News here.

Binjari woman in her 70s becomes first person in Northern Territory to die from COVID-19. Image source: ABC News.

Binjari woman in her 70s becomes first person in Northern Territory to die from COVID-19. Image source: ABC News.

Connecting primary care, research and policy

Dr Isabel Hanson, a recent recipient of a research scholarship and a RACGP 2021 Academic Post Registrar, wants to combine her skills to make a positive impact.

Dr Hanson’s 2022 scholarship will take her to the University of Oxford in the UK, where she will undertake further postgraduate study in the field of translational health sciences.

On return to Australia from the University of Oxford, Dr Hanson plans to link her translational health research and policy skills with her work with Aboriginal communities, to continue advocating for an equitable health system.

“I am committed to working in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health,” she said.

“I hope in the future to work closely with Aboriginal communities, to ask them what they need for better health, and to be part of the team who does the research and implementation to make that happen.”

You can read the story in RACGP newsGP here.

Dr Isabel Hanson is passionate about giving back to the community.

Dr Isabel Hanson is passionate about giving back to the community. Image source: RACGP

Diabetes strategy endorsed

The report found up to 80 per cent of people reported feeling a sense of blame or shame for having the condition, while more than 25 per cent said other people’s attitudes and stereotypes about diabetes negatively impacted their mental health.

52 per cent of people with type 2 diabetes said people assume they were overweight or had been in the past, while 37 per cent said people made a judgment on their food choices. 26 per cent of respondents with type 2 diabetes said they had been told they brought it on themselves.

The Australian National Diabetes Strategy 2021-2030, the federal government’s strategy to identify and manage diabetes also found Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities had one of the highest rates of type 2 diabetes in the country. The strategy found Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities had recorded increasing rates of diabetes in children, adolescents, young adults and pregnant women, leading to intergenerational patterns of premature disease.

You can read the article in the Examiner here.

Aboriginal person's hands, blood sugar level testing

Image source: The Medical Journal of Australia.

New process for job advertising

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Partnership Agreement on CtG state of play

feature tile text 'partnership agreement on Closing the Gap progress and challenges; & cartoon picture of NACCHO CEO, Ken Wyatt & two others & CoP logo

Partnership Agreement on CtG state of play

The Joint Council on Closing the Gap met today for the seventh time under the historic Partnership Agreement on Closing the Gap where governments are now working together with the Coalition of Peaks to improve outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Progress was welcomed on several high priority actions to advance the four Priority Reforms and socio-economic targets in the National Agreement on Closing the Gap. Areas where the partnership needs strengthening were also acknowledged.

Under Priority Reform Two, the Joint Council agreed in principle two of the Sector Strengthening Plans covering the early childhood care and development sector and the health sector, establishing high level priorities and joint ways of building these key community-controlled sectors nationally.

“I’m pleased to see the first two sector strengthening plans laid out. These plans are an important tool for change and accountability, and the onus is now on every party to turn their commitments into practice. Our community-controlled sector is invaluable to our people: we see real change when Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people deliver services to our communities.” said Patricia Turner AM, Lead Convener of the Coalition of Peaks.

“The Coalition of Peaks are working with governments to ensure they transform how they do business and rise to the challenges set out in the National Agreement. Shared decision making, accountability and transparency are central concerns for us. We also value the independent review of progress to be conducted by the Productivity Commission because there will be things we are doing well, but also areas where we must do better. There will be lessons to learn on how we can work better into the future and invest in those actions which will close gaps faster,” Ms Turner said.

A new target on Community Infrastructure was recommended to First Ministers and the Coalition of Peaks for sign-off and inclusion in the National Agreement on Closing the Gap. This target now includes measures that ensure essential services for remote and discrete Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities will meet or exceed jurisdictional standards. This will not only help with housing standards but deliver significant health outcomes to Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander people.

To view the media release in full click here.

group of Aboriginal people, hands in air & sign Close the Gap

Image source: Their World website.

ACCHO’s telehealth use boosts attendance

When the COVID pandemic struck, the Bendigo District and Aboriginal Co-operative (BDAC) started seeing 90% of its patients via telehealth. BDAC executive director and Dhrug man Dallas Widdicombe said the introduction of telehealth services was behind the rise in people showing up. “We realised we had more people attending their appointments then we’d ever had before,” Mr Widdicombe said.

Clinical practice manager and Arabana woman Jaydene Burzacott confirmed the clinic started seeing a significant number of new patients during the pandemic due to the provision of telehealth, “We were increasing by about six patients a week, including a lot of new people for the first time in a very long time.”

Ms Burzacott says while telehealth helps make a range of health services more accessible for a lot of people, BDAC has seen a surge in people accessing mental health services via telehealth. “Mental health appointments were a really big one,” she said. “I think it really helped people to be able to talk about their mental health over the phone.

To view the ABC News article in full click here.

BDAC CEO Dallas Widdicombe sitting at his desk

BDAC executive director and Dhrug man Dallas Widdicombe said the introduction of telehealth services was behind the rise in people showing up. Photo: Shannon Schubert, ABC Central Victoria. Image source: ABC News.

Sexual health trivia a super success

Last Friday, 3 December 2021, a highly successful virtual sexual health trivia event was held to mark Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander HIV Awareness Week (ATSIHAW).

Associate Professor and Director of Poche Centre for Indigenous Health, University of Queensland James Ward hosted the event together with NACCHO. NACCHO Chair Donnella Mills gave everyone a beautiful welcome while thanking all the health workers for their amazing efforts.

There was a great turn out with 22 teams competing for pride, bragging rights and some nice prizes. After three rounds of trivia questions on HIV, sexual health and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander popular culture, sports and geography, team AHCWALube (AHCWA) took home the first prize of $1,500 closely followed team Us Mob (Us Mob and HIV). Third place went to team GladiAIDors (Miwatj).

The costumes were all amazing and after much deliberation the Chancre Sisters (Congress) took home the prize for Best Dressed. A special shout out also goes to Rachial McCahon (Wirraka Maya) for spending an hour on her Christmas tree hair. Participants were thanked for the amazing work they do and encouraged to take part in next year’s trivia.collage of images from the sexual health virtual trivia afternoon

Government response to food insecurity

The Government has tabled its response to the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Indigenous Affairs’ report into food pricing and food security in remote Indigenous communities. Minister for Indigenous Australians, the Hon Ken Wyatt AM, MP, welcomed the report and thanked the Committee for their work.

“Improving food security and making affordable, fresh and nutritious foods more available in remote Indigenous communities is an important part of improving the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people,” Minister Wyatt said. “This report has affirmed that food security is a long-standing and complex issue in remote and rural communities. It will take a concerted and coordinated effort across jurisdictions and private industry to improve supply chains and storage.”

To view Minister Wyatt’s statement in full click here.

Gina Lyons, Irrunytju WA cooking in an electric frypan

Gina Lyons, Irrunytju WA. Photo by Suzanne Bryce, NPY Women’s Council. Image source: The Australian Prevention Partnership Centre.

New Lowitja Institute Board chair

Lowitja Institute today welcomed health, education and governance leader Mr Selwyn Button, a Gunggari man and former Registrar of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Corporations, as the new chairperson of its Board.

Mr Button succeeds Pat Anderson who retired last week after nearly 20 years in the role. “I am truly humbled to become the new chairperson of the Lowitja Institute,” Mr Button said. “Having served on the board with Pat over the last 8 years, I admire the contributions she has made and will continue to make to the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people across the country.” “She has been an inspiration and hers are significant shoes to fill. I hope to do her proud in continuing her legacy.”

To view the Lowitja Institute’s media release relating to Mr Button’s appointment click here.

new Lowitja Institute Board Chair, Selwyn Button in front of large circular grass wall sculpture

Selwyn Button. Image source: Australian Institute of Company Directors website.

HAPEE free hearing assessments available

Hearing Australia’s Hearing Assessment Program – Early Ears, dubbed, HAPEE, conducts diagnostic hearing assessments to reduce the long term effects of ear disease in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, who have significantly higher rates of hearing loss than non-Indigenous Australian children.

Telehealth appointments are now available to allow parents and carers to access Hearing Australia services and ongoing support from anywhere in Australia. A telehealth appointment is an over the phone conversation where parents and carers can ask questions and an audiologist provides advice and ongoing support.

Parents and carers can choose a telehealth or a face-to-face appointment, depending on which best suits their needs. All HAPEE hearing checks are free* for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander kids aged 0-6 years or not attending full time school. For more information and resources visit Hearing Australia or call 134 432 to book a telehealth appointment.

young Aboriginal boy having hearing test

Image source: Microsoft News Centre.

85,000 NSW adults waiting for dentists

Some 85,000 NSW adults are currently on the public dental waiting list in NSW and it could be two or three years before they see a dentist. Of those, about 30,000 are in rural, remote or regional areas.
Aboriginal man receiving dental treatment

A patient is treated at the Armajun Aboriginal Health Service at Inverell. Photo: Bridget Brennan, ABC News.

Complex PTSD explained

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can arise after exposure to a traumatic event, with symptoms falling into four clusters:

  1. upsetting and intrusive re-experiencing of the trauma (memories and nightmares)
  2. avoiding reminders of a trauma
  3. profound changes to mood and beliefs following the traumatic experience
  4. heightened reactivity to and vigilance for danger.

However, there are a multiple of ways PTSD symptoms can manifest. For some, the highly distressing re-experiencing of trauma memories is most prominent, whereas for others, a persistent hypervigilance for danger and threat may be the most difficult aspect.

Previous efforts to describe a more complex version of PTSD focused on the nature of the traumatic event(s), for instance, that people with CPTSD may have experienced their trauma in childhood. This may lead to a more pervasive set of difficulties in adulthood. Others argues repeated or prolonged exposure to trauma throughout one’s life was the key feature.

To view The Conversation article in full click here.

drawing of head made of barbed wire

Image source: Mood Disorders Clinic.

New process for job advertising

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: New campaign raising awareness of FASD

New National Awareness Campaign on the risks of drinking alcohol during pregnancy launched

Almost one in three Australians aren’t aware that drinking alcohol during pregnancy can cause Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD). Nearly one in four aren’t aware alcohol should be avoided altogether during pregnancy.*

Every Moment Matters, a new national awareness campaign developed by the Foundation of Alcohol Research and Education (FARE), supports and empowers Australians to go alcoholfree through all the moments of pregnancy, right from the moment they start trying.

Endorsed and funded by the Australian Government Department of Health, this campaign provides clear and consistent messages about alcohol, pregnancy and breastfeeding.

“FASD is a whole of community issue. NACCHO is supporting ACCHOs across rural and remote Australia, to support mums, their families, their communities, their health practitioners and health services, to bring everyone together to help prevent and better understand the issues that contribute to FASD,” said NACCHO CEO Pat Turner.

“This project is about raising awareness and understanding of FASD and reducing stigma through: Providing culturally appropriate health information, training our Aboriginal healthcare workers and by bringing our communities together to create safe places for yarning about the impacts of alcohol on pregnancy.”

“Growing strong healthy mums and bubs leads to healthy communities. This project is about bringing our communities together to deal with FASD.”

“50% of pregnancies in Australia are unplanned. Being around alcohol during pregnancy can lead to lifelong problems. This campaign will spread awareness in our rural and remote communities that no amount of alcohol is safe to drink during pregnancy,” she said.

“FASD has lifelong impacts. Our communities need to understand the risks of drinking alcohol in pregnancy, and where to go for support, so they can make good choices and ask for help if they need it. Health professionals need to support families to have access to the correct information about the risks of drinking alcohol in pregnancy so they can make informed decisions and ask for help if they need it.”

“In Australia, it is still widely accepted that ‘a few’ drinks while pregnant is ok. However, the latest research demonstrates that there is no safe amount of alcohol to drink whilst pregnant. This campaign will help us safely and respectfully communicate to our communities, and their health professionals, what can happen, and where to get support if they need it,” said Turner.

View the FARE media release.
View the Australian Government Department of Health media release.
Download the Stakeholder Toolkit for the campaign to share the campaign materials in your communications
View and share the Women Want to Know resources here
View the Key Findings of the alcohol and pregnancy research conducted by Kantar Public on behalf of FARE.
You can learn more about the campaign on the Every Moment Matters website.

* Polling Snapshot by FARE on Alcohol use, pregnancy and Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder.

Here is one of the available assets for social media as part of the Stakeholder Toolkit for the campaign. 

Watch the below video, developed by FARE, to see how Every Moment Matters when it comes to pregnancy and alcohol.
Please share the video on Facebook or Twitter.

 

ACCHOs key to effective vaccine rollout

Larissa Behrendt spoke with NACCHO CEO and Lead Convener of the Coalition of Peaks Pat Turner AM on Sunday 28 November 2021 on ‘Speaking Out’ on ABC Radio.

Ms Behrendt asked Ms Turner what her thoughts are on the effectiveness of the vaccination rollout for First Nations communities.

“I think overall our community controlled sector has done pretty well. Supply is not an issue. Supply has been available on request, so if any ACCHOs advise us of any quantity and other supports around administering the vaccines, we have supported them to the fullest extent possible,” said Ms Turner.

She said she’s not as confident about the rollout in the areas that are run by state government clinics and that they haven’t done a swell and need to pick up their game.

“As you said, where the response to COVID has been most effective is when it is community controlled. What sort of difference is the community controlled sector making?” asked Ms Behrendt.

“What the Aboriginal community controlled health services are good at is establishing a good relationship with the client population and people who use our health services. Cultural respect and cultural safety are key elements of our service provision in the comprehensive primary healthcare model that we deliver in the main. I think that people have really understood that and accepted that, so there’s a lot more trust between us and the patients that we have, and that’s all going well for us to get through to our people on the importance of looking after themselves during COVID and getting the vaccination,” said Ms Turner.

You can listen to the interview on ABC Radio here.

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

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

Vigorous booster roll out and quarantine facilities needed

The emergence of the Omicron COVID-19 variant underlines the need for Australia to develop a network of dedicated quarantine facilities and to pursue the roll out of booster shots more vigorously, the AMA said today.

With public health measures easing around the country and hotel quarantine starting to be dismantled, the AMA warned Omicron and the resurgence of COVID-19 in many parts of globe is a timely reminder that the pandemic is not over.

“The emergence of Omicron in Africa should come as no surprise, given the very low levels of vaccination in many African nations, providing the ideal environment for COVID-19 to mutate and spread to other nations,” AMA President Dr Omar Khorshid said.

“Effective dedicated quarantine arrangements are a necessary tool in our efforts to combat the inevitable emergence of COVID-19 variants and to protect the community. While work on quarantine facilities has commenced in some states and territories, we are yet to see a nationally coordinated approach, which could provide Australia with a national asset of dedicated Commonwealth quarantine facilities.”

“National Cabinet also needs to approach the roll out of booster doses with far more vigour,” Dr Khorshid said.

You can read the AMA media release here.

Single coronavirus cell with DNA strands and white blood cells. Image source: wfla.com.

Single coronavirus cell with DNA strands and white blood cells. Image source: wfla.com.

Keeping people with dementia connected to Country

A decline in verbal skills is a source of grief for any person living with dementia. For First Nations peoples, the loss of speech brings the added pain of lost connection to Country, community, family and culture, which are so central to their health and well-being.

Dementia is a serious emerging health issue for Indigenous people, who experience the disease at a rate between three to five times that of the general population, with onset at an earlier age.

Dementia Support Australia, funded by the Australian government, has produced a set of picture cards designed to support First Nations older people and people with dementia. Co-designing the cards involved listening to and learning what First Nations people needed.

The inability for a person with dementia to communicate what they want or need can be frustrating for both them and care staff. For an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander person with dementia, the communication barrier with those providing care can be greater due to language and cultural differences.

You can read the article in The Conversation here.
Communication resources for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living with dementia can be downloaded here.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communication cards

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communication cards co-designed with First Nations representatives including artist Samantha Campbell.

Improving community health outcomes for Elders

An article published online in the Australian Health Review 23 November 2021 examines how Elders consider the Closing the Gap programs for improving community health outcomes.

A participatory action research project was undertaken in collaboration with eight Elders from a remote Aboriginal community in Tasmania. The findings emerged from thematic analysis of individual interviews and yarning circles.

The Closing the Gap programs were seen by Elders as having instrumental value for addressing Aboriginal community disadvantage. However, the programs also represented a source of ongoing dependency that threatened to undermine the community’s autonomy, self-determination and cultural foundations. The findings emerged to represent Elders attempting to reconcile this tension by embedding the programs with cultural values or promoting culture separately from the programs. Ultimately, the Elders saw culture as the core business of community well-being and effective program delivery.

The findings are reflective of tensions that arise when neoliberal policies are imposed on Aboriginal ways of knowing, being and doing. The Elders premised cultural well-being as the key determinant of Aboriginal community health.

You can read the article in the Australian Health Review here.

Elder walking with child.

Closing the Gap in Aboriginal health disparities: is there a place for Elders in the neoliberal agenda? Image source: NITV.

Employment and housing key to reduce re-imprisonment

New research has shown that employment and housing for those leaving prison are key to preventing recidivism and a subsequent return to detention. The research, which focused on former detainees in the ACT, highlighted the importance of reducing barriers to employment for people leaving prison, so that they are better equipped to begin life after detention and stay out of the justice system.

ACTCOSS CEO, Dr Emma Campbell said: “The ACT has one of the highest rates of re-imprisonment in the country. Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people in the ACT experience re-imprisonment at the rate of 94% – the highest rate of any jurisdiction.

The research notes that a lack of access to safe and affordable housing is one of the barriers to obtaining employment post-release.

“ACTCOSS has joined with Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health and Community Services and other Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander organisations in calling on the ACT Government to initiate a Royal Commission or similar commission of inquiry into the overrepresentation of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people in the ACT’s justice system,” said Dr Campbell.

You can read the article in The National Tribune here.

silhouette of person in jail, sitting with head in hands

Image source: The Conversation website.

Only four days until ATSIHAW Trivia

It’s not too late for Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services staff to join the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander HIV Awareness Week Virtual Trivia.

Friday December 3, 2021
4pm AEDT, 3.30pm ACDT, 3pm AEST, 2.30pm ACST, 1pm AWST

Amazing prizes up for grabs including a set of Bose Wireless Noise Cancelling Over-Ear Headphones 700, clothing, apparel and accessories from organisations that are 100% Indigenous owned, giant microbes and other sexual health resources for your clinic.

Register your team here.
Registrations close COB Thursday 2 December 2021.

Game on!

#atsihaw2021 #TriviaTime #hivawareness #hivawarenessandprevention

New process for job advertising

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: ADF, NT Chief slam dangerous vax lies

feature tile text 'NT Chief Minister and ADF slam dangerous vax lies' & image of vax vials & dice with letters f, a, c, t, k, e

Image in feature tile from The Conversation, Photo: Alexander Limbach, Shutterstock.

ADF, NT Chief slam dangerous vax lies

In a press conference yesterday, Thursday 25 November 2021, NT Chief Minister Michael Gunner blasted COVID conspiracy theorists, saying he wanted to address “the huge amount of misinformation being spread online over the past few days. There are ridiculous, untrue rumours about the ADF’s involvement. As we all know, they aren’t carrying weapons — they are carrying fresh food for people.” He urged people not to worry about the dangerous lies spreading online.

You can access the ABC News article in full here and view the Chief Minister’s press conference below – his comments mentioned above can be found from 3 min 46 sec to 7 min 13 sec.

The Australian Defence Force has also rejected as lies “wild” social media claims that it’s forcibly vaccinating Indigenous Northern Territorians against COVID-19. The misinformation has been shared and reposted to multiple platforms and there are fears it could threaten efforts to contain an outbreak.

“Defence is aware of social media posts claiming the Australian Defence Force is forcibly vaccinating or detaining members of the Australian community,” a spokesman said in a statement. “These claims are emphatically false.”

To read the Canberra Times article in full click here.

NACCHO CEO, Pat Turner has commended the ADF for calling out the outrageous claims by people who are making the wild accusations without being privy to the facts. She said people need to stop confusing our people with all the misinformation on social media and talk to the health staff instead and look at credible sites for good advice.

AMSANT and Amnesty International Australia have also released a joint media release regarding ADF involvement in Katherine, NT which can be viewed here.

CEO protecting mob one vial at a time

A Queensland CEO armed with a syringe, is fighting to have Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples protected against COVID-19, personally administering the vaccine, one vial at a time. Gidgee Healing CEO Renee Blackman, a proud Gubbi Gubbi woman and registered nurse, has remained hands-on in her quest to have all her people from Mt Isa, the North West and Lower Gulf regions of the State fully vaccinated.

Renee is part of an entire First Nation contingent of doctors, nurses and Aboriginal health practitioners injecting vaccines, imparting a greater understanding of the virus, while also allaying personal fears around getting the jab. That process will again be on show in Mt Isa TONIGHT as Gidgee Healing hosts it’s Deadly Night Out push for vaccinations among Australia’s First Nations populations.

When: from 4:00 PM Friday, 26 November 2021

Where: Buchanan Park: Cnr Sutton and George Street, Mount Isa

Who: Gidgee Healing CEO Renee Blackman, Current and former Broncos players Jordan Rikki, Ezra Mam, Xavier Willison, Ethan Quai-Ward and Lote Tuqiri; Deadly Choices Ambassadors Steve Renouf and Tallisha Harden

To view the media release about this event in full click here.

Gidgee Healing Mt Isa CEO Renee Blackman

Mob hit back at vax misinformation

They rejected claims made on social media that members of Binjari community were being forcibly removed by ADF personnel or otherwise mistreated by authorities. “We have been treated with a lot of respect and appreciate all the support being given by these support personnel people,” the statement reads. “We are in lockdown because we’re in the biggest fight of our lives. We’re trying to keep safe. We’re trying to do the right thing by the community and Katherine.”

To view the full story in the Katherine Times click here.

COVID-19 Binjari roadblock in Katherine, NT

The COVID-19 Binjari roadblock in Katherine, NT on 23 November 2021. Photo: AAP. Image source: SBS NITV website.

Closing culture gaps to help sick kids

A new Curtin University study has found that there is an urgent need to develop and implement strategies to empower Aboriginal families to identify deteriorating health in their child and alert clinicians. The research, published in Pediatric Nursing, explored the perspective of family members of Aboriginal children to see if they could recognise, and respond to, health deterioration in a hospital setting.

Lead researcher, Associate Professor Fenella Gill from Curtin’s School of Nursing, said it was hoped the study results would lead to the development of a culturally secure escalation system. “Previous research has indicated that there are higher rates of hospital mortality for Aboriginal children, including due to failures in escalation of care, therefore it is vital to address these barriers,” Associate Professor Gill said.

To view the article in full click here.

Aboriginal mum holding toddler

Image source: Curtin University.

Crucial tool to eliminate Chronic Hepatitis B

An educational app designed to improve health literacy around the hepatitis B virus (HBV) has been translated to provide more than 70% of the NT Aboriginal population access in their first language. The Hep B Story App, a crucial tool in the work to eliminate Chronic Hepatitis B (CHB), a disease endemic in Aboriginal communities in the NT, was launched yesterday, Thursday 25 November 2021.

The NT has an estimated CHB prevalence of three to 12%, meaning the NT has the highest CHB prevalence in Australia at 1.77%. Of those living with CHB, 25% will die from decompensated cirrhosis (liver failure) or hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC – liver cancer). Liver cancer is the fastest growing cause of cancer death in Australia and liver disease is the third most important contributor to the gap in life expectancy between First Nations and non-Indigenous Australians.

To view the media release regarding the launch in full click here.

The Hep B Story app is free to download from the Apple and Google Play stores and the Menzies website here.

Cultural competence resources

The University of Sydney’s National Centre for Cultural Competence has produced a selection of articles and book chapters that continue to inform and shape the discourse of cultural competence nationally and internationally. This curated group of resources will be updated as new ideas and publications are encountered.

To access the resources click here.

Image source: The University of Sydney.

National Nurse Practitioner Plan

A new 10-year strategic plan is being developed to help Australia’s highly skilled and respected nurse practitioners, by enhancing the way they work as they deliver essential health care for Australians .

Registered with the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia, Nurse Practitioners are focused on improving access to treatment, and dedicated to improving access to treatment, and improving health outcomes of all Australians, particularly at risk populations, including aged care residents, Indigenous Australians and those living in regional, rural and remote areas.

As part of the strategic plan, the Government is commencing consultations for the plan, which aims to address workforce issues and enhance the delivery of patient care. Minister for Health and Aged Care, Greg Hunt, said “This is the first opportunity for the community, health providers, clinicians, and experts to make a contribution to this new plan, which will be delivered by the middle of next year.”

To view Minister Hunt’s media release in full click here.

Aboriginal health worker taken child's blood pressure

Image source: Department of Health website.

Suicide prevention grants double

Suicide prevention grants to organisations across the country are being increased to help reduce Australia’s suicide rate towards zero. Through the National Suicide Prevention Leadership and Support Program Grant Opportunity, $114 million will be available for national projects that will raise awareness of the impact of suicide and support Australians who are at risk.

Specific vulnerable groups – including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, veterans, men, regional communities, and culturally and linguistically diverse communities – have been identified as the primary focus of the Grant Opportunity as these groups have higher rates of suicide than the general population. Minister for Health and Aged Care, Greg Hunt, said suicide is a national tragedy, with 3,139 Australians taking their lives in 2020.

To view the full media release click 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.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: $1.25M to deliver culturally safe NDIS services

$1.25M to deliver culturally safe NDIS services

NACCHO has delivered over $1.25 million in grants to 57 Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations (ACCOs) to support the delivery of culturally safe and appropriate National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) services to their communities. The grants were delivered through the NDIS Ready program which is funded by the Department of Social Services.

The Indigenous Business Support Funding (IBSF) grants, worth $22,000 each, are designed to build the capacity of ACCHOs and ACCOs to deliver disability services sustainably under the NDIS by empowering them with the resources they need to be NDIS ready. This will support the growth of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander NDIS market and workforce and help improve access to culturally safe services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with disability.

“These grants will enable the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation sector to expand into the NDIS, to provide additional essential supports for people with disability” said NACCHO Chief Executive Officer Pat Turner.

You can read the media statement by NACCHO here.

image of wheelchair wheel & seat overlaid with Aboriginal dot painting gold, red, blue white tones

Image source: AbSec website.

Lessons learnt to inform future vaccination efforts

Australians deserve freedom from misleading communications, and to be informed about some of the COVID complexities expected in the months ahead, including the rollout of a third dose and vaccination of young children. It’s also important that lessons are learnt from the first phases of the COVID vaccine roll out, with a particular focus on priority populations, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Dr Jason Agostino, GP at Gurriny Yealamucka, an Aboriginal community controlled health service in the community of Yarrabah in far north Queensland, and medical advisor at NACCHO said:

“What we’ve learnt from the rollout of COVID vaccination to date is that we should be investing more in the primary healthcare system for the vaccine delivery. We need long term investment in workforce solutions for vaccination efforts going forward. We have this perfect storm coming up of chasing up the latecomers, doing childhood vaccination early next year and doing boosters as well as flu vaccine. This is a long term problem and we are going to need long term workforce solutions to address it. We also need consistency across the jurisdictions so Aboriginal Health Workers can deliver vaccines, they are an essential part of our service.”

You can read the article in Croakey Health Media here.

Cherbourg resident Colin Morgan receiving vax

Cherbourg resident Colin Morgan received his COVID vaccine out the front of his home. Photo: Georgie Hewson, ABC Southern Queensland. Image source: ABC News.

Boosting vaccination rates in WA

A new five-week program, “Keeping Culture Safe and Strong: Vaccination Focus was announced by The Department of Health in Western Australia on 19 November 2021 to provide more opportunities for Aboriginal people to get vaccinated. In a statement, the Department said a range of intensified in-reach programs based on bringing the vaccine directly to communities would be used as part of the vaccination focus.

“The Keeping Culture Safe and Strong vaccination focus will cover the entire State, from urban to regional to remote communities. The focus will be community-led as local leaders such as health staff, the local police, Councils and Shires, and Aboriginal-led organisations will be yarning to community members and helping them to access a vaccination.”

In related news concerns are being raised by First Nations people and advocates about West Australia’s reopening plan, with anxiety rising in communities about the possibility of COVID infections while vaccination rates remain low. As a whole, 49.89 per cent of WA’s Indigenous population has received one dose of any vaccine, and 33.82 per cent have received two. That’s compared to a general population rate of 70.3 per cent double jabbed.

Puntukurnu Aboriginal Medical Service (PAMS) CEO Robby Chimbawe said the prospect of the interstate border reopening is helping vaccination rates, but said there is still lots of hesitancy especially among the 30-40 year old age group.

Read about the new vaccination program on The Government of Western Australia Department of Health website.
Keeping Culture Safe and Strong: Vaccination Focus resources can be downloaded from the Aboriginal Health Council of Western Australia (AHCWA) website here.
You can view the article about the reopening of WA borders in the National Indigenous Times here.

 Keeping Culture Safe and Strong; Vaccination Focus Resources, AHCWA.

Mental health app in Pitjantjatjara and Aboriginal English

A new mobile app makes it easier for First Nations people to access information about mental health and wellbeing. The Aboriginal and Islander Mental health initiative (AIMhi) Stay Strong app is a colourful, user-friendly digital mental health tool developed by Menzies School of Health Research (Menzies) with Australian First Nations people. The app incorporates Pitjantjatjara language and Aboriginal English with plans to include other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages.

AIMhi Stay Strong supports service providers to have wellbeing conversations with First Nations people in primary care and specialist settings.

You can view the Menzies media release here.
For more information about the AIMhi Stay Strong projects click here.
Download the app for Android devices or for iOS devices.

Elimination of violence against women

Today is the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. On this day each year communities across the world also begin 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence, seeking to inspire action to end violence against women and girls around.

ACT Government Minister for the Prevention of Domestic and Family Violence Yvette Berry is calling on the Canberra community to get on board, unite in orange and take action to make our community safe for all.

“Gendered violence is an epidemic, and it takes a whole of community approach from the ground up to create long lasting change. Concerningly, we know that during the pandemic many women experienced violence from their partners for the first time.”

“The next 16 days provide an opportunity for the Canberra community to take a stand and share the message that violence against women in any form is not OK. I encourage Canberrans to start conversations about gender-based violence with your family and friends. Learn more about the facts and what you can do to help. Let’s make gender-based violence a thing of the past.”

You can read the media release by the ACT Government here.

tile text 'Thursday 25 November 2021 - International Day for Elimination of Violence against Woemn' vector image of woman with hands across chest, head to side & back of male in front of her

Social and Economic Impact Assessment of Community First Development

Leading economic advisory firm, ACIL Allen has launched a report, which found that Community First Development generates a high return on investment: a return of $3.73 in health, social and economic benefits for every $1.00 of contributions invested. After removing operating costs, ACIL Allen estimates Community First Development delivered an estimated $12.8 million in employment, business, health, justice, welfare and housing benefits in the last financial year, and did this in the challenging operating environment of a pandemic. Improved health outcomes accounted for over half (55 percent) of the total benefits, which alone delivers a benefit estimated to be twice that of the organisation’s total cost.

A significant range of additional qualitative benefits that could not be measured in monetary terms were also identified as part of the ACIL Allen assessment.

For more information and to download the report click here.

The Story of Change

‘The Story of Change’ diagram from the Social and Economic Impact Assessment of Community First Development report.

No two days are the same in the care and support sector

If you are kind, patient and want a rewarding, person-centred job, the care and support sector has lots of opportunities for people just like you. According to disability support worker Lisa, these are the most important qualities needed to be a support worker for people with disability.

For the past six years she has been supporting Greg to achieve his personal goals and lead the life he wants.

Greg, who has cerebral palsy, is a talented artist; his work is featured in the Koorie National Trust and in a number of exhibitions. He has a studio space conveniently located a couple of doors down from his home. Greg is also part of a Melbourne theatre group, plays balloon football, enjoys getting out and about, COVID permitting, and loves to introduce his support workers to his Aboriginal culture.

The care and support sector is a dynamic, growing industry with a wide range of roles and opportunities for people with diverse skills, experiences and backgrounds.

Read the rest of Greg and Lisa’s story and view more stories from the care and support sector here.

Lisa providing disability support to Greg.

Lisa providing disability support to Greg.

BRAMS Newsletter October 2021

Check out the latest BRAMS newsletter, which includes the CEO Report, New Staff, Employee of the Month, Vax-a-thon #2,  BBAI Carnival 2021, Wellbeing Month, BRAMS Well-Being Day, Family Well-Being Training, Narrative Therapy Training,  Ministerial Visit, NDIS Peer Support Groups.

You can download the newsletter here.

BRAMS COVID VAX-A-THON

 

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.

A Life Changing Life – Webinar

As part of the A Life Changing Life campaign, the Department of Social Services has partnered with SEEK to deliver a series of webinars providing insights and tools for care and support sector employers to better engage with and appeal to today’s candidates.

There are three upcoming webinars in this series. Depending on your role you may wish to register to attend or register interest, or refer one to a colleague. This session is designed for those in your organisation responsible for writing and posting job ads and short-listing candidates.

SESSION 1 – How to write a good job ad
Date: Tuesday 30 November
Time: 1:30pm – 2:30pm AEDT

RSVP for the webinar and view upcoming webinars in the series here.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: NACCHO CEO nervous about vax gap

feature tile text 'NACCHO CEO nervous as borders reopen but vax rates lag in some communities' & image of sign to community of Mutitjulu, NT

Image in feature tile from Angus Knight. Mutitjulu was listed on the NTG Coronavirus (COVID-19) website on 19 November 2021 as a low vaccinated community.

NACCHO CEO nervous about vax gap

The head of the umbrella organisation for Australia’s Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations (NACCHO) says she’s nervous about the country’s reopening because of lagging vaccination rates in some communities.

Pat Turner, the CEO of NACCHO, believes part of the problem is state and territory governments passing the buck to the Commonwealth, and also certain religious groups bringing in misinformation and myths from the US.

To listen to the interview on ABC RN Breakfast in full click here.

Pat Turner with Minister Wyatt in the background

ACCHOs business innovation award winners

The winners of the SA Regional Showcase Awards were announced last Friday evening, 19 November 2021. Two SA ACCHOs, Yadu Health Aboriginal Corporation (Yadu Health), Ceduna and Nunyara Aboriginal Health Service Incorporated (Nunyara Health), Whyalla won an NBN Business Innovations award for their work with New Future IT and their trainees.

Yadu Health and Nunyara Health chose New Future IT from Darwin to train Indigenous workers to cover their internal IT needs. New Future IT is an Aboriginal-owned and operated company that actively trains and employs young Aboriginal people who are looking for opportunities to work within the field of IT and have tailored their new training pathway specifically for Aboriginal health services.

Chief Technical Officer of Yadu Health and Nunyara Health said the award is amazing recognition of  the great collaboration between the two ACCHOs as well as industry validation that the work that have done holds significant value.

You can view the full InDaily news article here.

photo of Nunyara & Yadu finalist & winner awards

Image supplied by: Nunyara Aboriginal Health Service Inc.

AMSANT, ALCs urgent COVID-19 meeting

On Sunday 21 November the Chairmen and CEOs of the Northern, Tiwi and Anindilyakwa Land Councils and AMSANT held an urgent meeting in Darwin to send a strong message about the recent outbreak of the COVID-19 virus in the Katherine region, particularly at the Robinson River community in the Gulf and the Binjari and Rockhole communities near Katherine.

Yesterday’s meeting authorised the following statement for attribution to AMSANT and the three Top End Land Councils: “The Land Councils and AMSANT are confident that the NT government is taking all appropriate steps to protect the community members at the Binjari and Rockhole communities and they are satisfied with the earlier responses at Robinson River and Katherine township. The broader community in the Katherine region and beyond should take appropriate steps to make sure that COVID-19 does not spread to any other Aboriginal communities in the Katherine region and beyond. This virus is coming for us Aboriginal people so we need to do the right things to stop it spreading.”

To view the media release in full click here.

poster painting of Aboriginal hand thumbs up sign, top half of image black background, bottom half red, text 'STAY SAFE' at top & 'stay on country, care for family' text at bottom

Image source: NLC website.

Fears for chronic illness epidemic

Health groups have expressed fears the COVID-19 pandemic will move to an epidemic of chronic illness among NSW’s regional Indigenous population. Regular GP appointments were down more than half in some communities during lockdown.

The Rural and Remote Medical Services (RRMS) said 53% of its 5,000 Indigenous clients failed to see a GP face-to-face from September 2020 to September 2021. RRMS CEO Mark Burdack said the decline is entirely due to COVID-19, adding Aboriginal people in smaller remote towns avoided travelling to larger towns because of the risk of infection. “As a result, we project that a significantly larger percentage of Aboriginal people didn’t maintain their chronic disease appointments which is a serious concern,” Mr Burdack said.

To view the full ABC News article click here.

Orange Aboriginal Medical Service CEO Jamie Newman at desk in clinic

Orange Aboriginal Medical Service CEO Jamie Newman says it will take about six months to see the real impact of COVID-19. Photo: Arianna Levy, ABC News Central West.

Eye health progress but gaps remain

Significant progress has been made to improve eye care outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people but service shortfalls and equity gaps remain, according to the 10th annual update on the Implementation of the Roadmap to Close the Gap for Vision.

As a result of the work to Close the Gap64 regional stakeholder groups and seven groups at jurisdictional level have been established. ACCHOs, Aboriginal and Torres Islander people and other Indigenous-controlled organisations are also leading eye care activities at regional and state levels.

Eye examinations have increased with a steady increase in the number of cataract surgeries. But while cataract services and eye checks for diabetes have improved, there is still inequity with longer cataract surgery waiting lists for Aboriginal people than non-Aboriginal people, with waits of up to 50% longer.

To view The University of Melbourne’s article in full click here.

Artwork by respected Wiradjuri / Yorta Yorta artist, Lyn Briggs, originally commissioned for VACCHO’s first eye health program, 1998. Image source: University of Melbourne website.

NCSP guidelines public consultation

Cancer Council Australia has been contracted by the Australian Department of Health to perform an update to The National Cervical Screening Program: Guidelines for the management of screen-detected abnormalities, screening in specific populations and investigation of abnormal vaginal bleeding to support the planned policy change to provide universal access to self-collection.

This update is exclusively focused on the changes associated with providing universal access to self-collection, and as such, changes are only proposed for some sections of the guidelines. These updates are detailed in this public consultation document.

We are now seeking feedback on the update and are open for public consultation from 22 November 2021 to 5 December 2021. Comments  are required no later than 11.59PM (AESDT) Sunday 5 December 2021.

To access the document and provide comment click here.

blue plastic circle with cervix shape & test swab

Image source: Moffitt Cancer Center website.

The power of Indigenous data

Indigenous Postdoctural Fellow, Karyn Ferguson has been researching the health of Yorta Yorta ganas (mothers) and their burrais (children). Ms Ferguson has found health data wasn’t stored in one place, instead, it was spread across numerous organisations at local, state and federal levels. Siloed by different bureaucracies, Ms Ferguson said “it was difficult – to say the least ­– to easily identify and understand population health trends specific to Yorta Yorta people.”

The task of linking together all this data on maternal health and birth outcomes became Ms Ferguson’s PhD research – Gana Burrai, which means ‘mother baby’. A major finding of this research has been the power of the linkage of mother-birth records across the sites. Data linkage has enabled a more accurate understanding of Aboriginal identification in administrative records and uncovered a significant undercount of Aboriginal births in this specific population between the years 2008-2017 inclusive.

To view the University of Melbourne Pursuit article in full click here.

Linking data across different data sets produces a more comprehensive picture of health across Aboriginal communities. Photo: Getty Images. Image source: The University of Melbourne website.

RPHCM project November update

The Remote Primary Health Care Manuals (RPHCM) are currently being reviewed and updated. Monthly updates are provided to health services and other organisations to keep them up-to-date throughout the review process.

Protocols endorsed by the Editorial Committee since the last RPHCM monthly update include:

  • Infant feeding guidelines
  • Anaemia in pregnancy
  • Ear examination
  • Water-related skin infections
  • Joint problems

Secondary reviews will start early in 2022 and RPHCM are seeking secondary reviewers, especially doctors and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Practitioners who are users of the manual to check protocols are easy to read and applicable to practice. If you are interested please view the RPHCM website here.

To view the RPHCM November 2021 update click 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.

Stillbirth prevention for mob webcast

Stillbirth can have a profound and long-lasting impact for parents, families, communities and care providers. Despite Australia being one of the safest places globally to have a baby, according to Stillbirth Centre for Research Excellence, 2021 for every 1,000 babies born, there are sadly six babies who will be born still. For Aboriginal mob stillbirth occurrences continue to remain disproportionately high.

A webcast is being held from 1:00PM-2:00PM Wednesday 24 November 2021 to introduce the Safer Baby Bundle developed by the Stillbirth Centre for Research Excellence (CEC). The CEC panel will explore the importance of the Aboriginal health worker/practitioner role in preventing stillbirth and how to incorporate culturally safe and responsive care into midwifery, child and family health care and beyond.

To view a flyer for the event click here and to register for the webinar here.

grey rocks, with heart shaped rock with Aboriginal dot painting on top

Image source: The Hippocratic Post.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Alarming vaccination gap

NACCHO CEO Pat Turner. Image source: NITV

Alarming vaccination gap

Pat Turner, the CEO of NACCHO spoke with Dr Norman Swan and Teegan Taylor on RN Breakfast with Fran Kelly this morning.

She said she’s extremely nervous about the country’s reopening because of lagging vaccination rates in some communities. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander COVID-19 cases has grown from 153 to more than 7,500 since Delta got into communities in June with 15 COVID-related deaths amongst those cases. Ms Turner believes part of the problem is state and territory governments passing the buck to the Commonwealth, and also certain religious groups bringing in misinformation and myths from the US.

“It’s got to be a really determined effort by South Australia in the remote areas, by Western Australia state-wide, by Queensland state-wide including the Torres Straits. And of course the Northern Territory has now got their wake-up call,” said Ms Turner.

“We shouldn’t have to wait until infections get in before the health authorities get in and start the vaccinations. They’ve got to do it now.”

You can listen to the interview on ABC RN Breakfast here.

Warmun Community member Luke Banks being vaccinated by Steph Whitwell, Vaccination Nurse from Kununurra COVID-19 Vaccination Clinic

Warmun Community member Luke Banks being vaccinated by Steph Whitwell, Vaccination Nurse from Kununurra COVID-19 Vaccination Clinic. Image source: Government of WA website.

Dubbo’s vaccine response a role model

Dubbo’s “remarkable” response to COVID-19 vaccination efforts has won praise from the Federal Minister for Regional Health and the country’s COVID vaccination taskforce coordinator. The coordinator-general of the country’s COVID-19 vaccine taskforce, Lieutenant General John Frewen, and the Federal Minister for Regional Health Dr David Gillespie visited the town on separate agendas.

“It’s been remarkable what was achieved here, particularly treating outbreaks and the vaccination rates that were just brought along so quickly,” Lieutenant General Frewen said.

“With the Aboriginal Medical Service (AMS) and Aboriginal Community Health Organisations (ACHO) stepping up, they got access to the vaccine as quickly as was rolled out in Sydney or Brisbane or Melbourne,” said Dr Gillespie.

Lieutenant General Frewen has called vaccination rates in Dubbo’s Indigenous population “tremendous”, but is aware that it “isn’t the case across the whole state, and certainly isn’t the case across the whole country”.

“It starts with engagement with local leaders and getting the local leaders on side,” he said.

You can read the article in the ABC News here.

Officials say that they want to learn from Dubbo's success to help boost Indigenous vaccination rates across Australia. Image source: ABC News.

Officials say that they want to learn from Dubbo’s success to help boost Indigenous vaccination rates across Australia. Image source: ABC News.

Current NT COVID-19 outbreak linked to earlier clusters

Patricia Karvelas on ABC’s Afternoon Briefing spoke to NACCHO Senior Medical Advisor Dr Jason Agostino yesterday about how the Genomic Sequencing has confirmed the Northern Territory’s current COVID-19 outbreak is linked to the cluster that triggered a lockout in Darwin and a lockdown in Kathrine earlier this month.

“It reinforces that even though a lot of testing is happening even more has to happen to find out where those chains of transmission has been occurring because there is likely that there are more cases out there,” said Dr Agostino.

“It’s been two weeks since those first cases were picked up in Darwin, so for it to get out to where it has, it means that there are some people that have been infected that haven’t been picked up at this stage.”

He says he takes some comfort in the fact that vaccination rates in the affected communities are higher than in many other places, which means that if we do see more cases, it’s a good chance that they will be less severe.

You can watch yesterday’s episode of Afternoon Briefing here.
Please note that Dr Agostino features after 52min of the episode.

Dr Jason Agostino COVID-19 vaccines - ABC iview

$53.3M spent to improve health sector in NSW

The NSW government will for the first time track how much it spends on specific Indigenous programs and services, with data revealing it invested $1.1 billion last financial year. The funding is detailed in the state’s first Indigenous expenditure report, which shows the state government increased its spending on First Nations programs and services by almost 20 per cent. In health, $109 million was invested, with $53.3 million delivered by the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Sector.

As part of the historic national agreement on Closing the Gap, there was a commitment from Australian governments and First Nations communities “to review and identify current spending on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander programs and services”. NSW is the first state to publish an interim Indigenous expenditure report.

“This report will become a powerful tool to provide policymakers with a greater evidence-base of expenditure to inform future resource allocation decisions,” said Treasurer Matt Kean.

“This first phase of the Indigenous expenditure report will assist us in building up the community-controlled sector which is improving the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people,” said Minister for Aboriginal Affairs Don Harwin.

You can read the article in The Sydney Morning Herald here.
You can view the 2021-22 NSW Government Interim Indigenous Expenditure Report here.

Rapid Antigen Testing in the NT

In a media release by the Northern Territory Minister for Health Natasha Fyles, Rapid Antigen Testing and Distribution points has been unveiled as travel restrictions come into effect for remote communities with vaccination rates below 70%.

Top End testing and distribution points will be located at the Royal Darwin Hospital Pandemic Clinic (open 8.30am to 4pm). In Alice Springs, the Pandemic Coordination Centre will be located at 44 Bath Street (open 8am-4pm Monday to Friday).

Negative Rapid Antigen test results are required 72 hours or less for anyone who intends to travel to a remote community with a first dose vaccination rate below 70%. Following completion of a Rapid Antigen Test at a testing and distribution point, a copy of the result will be sent via SMS or a printed copy can be collected if required. This can be used as proof of a negative test.

Rapid Antigen Tests can also be completed at home or at work.

You can read the Media Release by the Northern Territory Minister for Health Natasha Fyles here.

Rapid Antigen Testing. Image source NT Health's Facebook page.

Rapid Antigen Testing. Image source NT Health’s Facebook page.

AIDA supports COVID-safe reopening of the NT

With the number of COVID cases in remote Aboriginal communities in the Northern Territory (NT) continuing to grow, the Australian Indigenous Doctors’ Association (AIDA) is asking Territorians to get vaccinated as a matter of urgency and adhere to health restrictions to stop the spread.

AIDA is extremely concerned that the lack of culturally appropriate access to healthcare in remote communities, coupled with poor housing infrastructure in many communities, making it difficult for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to isolate within their own household, will further compound these COVD positive numbers and cause the virus to spread rapidly within communities. This will burden an already short-staffed health sector in the NT, causing even more issues.

AIDA supports the Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance Northern Territory (AMSANT) in calling on the NT government to commit to shared decision-making with Aboriginal communities and their key institutions when discussing a COVID-safe reopening of the Northern Territory. AIDA also joins AMSANT in supporting the Doherty modelling that indicates children aged 5-11 are to be included in reaching the 80% vaccine coverage before opening up.

You can read the AIDA media release here.

Welcome to Robinson River Community sign

Robinson River Community. Image source ABC News.

Visitors made homeless in Katherine’s lockdown

The homelessness rate in Katherine is twice the NT average and 31 times the national average

As Katherine and nearby communities grapple with the NT’s worst COVID-19 outbreak to date, Sam Ashley has been sleeping on a patch of grass near the town’s river. Mr Ashley lives in Beswick, roughly 118 kilometres south east of Katherine. Like many others, Mr Ashley travelled to Katherine for food and supplies and is now stuck as the number of COVID-19 cases grows around him.

“We can’t get home. It got me really worried,” said Mr Ashley.

Eli Sherman the coordinator at the Katherine Salvation Army Hub said:

“We’ve identified a huge influx over the last, probably, six weeks to the fact of about 130 to 150 people frequenting our service. A lot of these people coming in from out of town, for reasons unknown, but obviously given the pandemic and a lockdown now, they are stuck here.”

You can read the article in the ABC News here.

Sam Ashley from Beswick is currently stuck in Katherine and unable to return home, leaving him to sleep in the long grass during the Katherine COVID-19 lockdown. Image source: Michael Franchi, ABC News.

Sam Ashley from Beswick is currently stuck in Katherine and unable to return home, leaving him to sleep in the long grass during the Katherine COVID-19 lockdown. Image source: Michael Franchi, ABC News.

Get a jab and an autograph this weekend

There is an extra incentive to get vaccinated at this Super Schools Weekend. Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has announced sporting greats from rugby league, soccer, netball, Australian football, rugby union and many more will be on hand to congratulate those being vaccinated at select schools during the pop-up clinics this weekend.

“Sport has the ability to unite and inspire us,” the Premier said.

Athletes from the Broncos will be at various locations across southeast Queensland, Queensland Reds players will be running drills at Kelvin Grove State School on Sunday 21 November, and Queensland Firebirds will be at Calamvale Community College on Saturday 21 November.

In the north JCU Townsville Fire players will visit school clinics, and Swimming Queensland, the Gold Coast SUNS and Brisbane Roar A-League Women’s team will have players on board to help supercharge the Super Schools Blitz on the Gold Coast and Brisbane. More clubs and athletes are expected to join the initiative.

“This is a great opportunity to get a jab and an autograph,” Health Minister Yvette D’Ath said.

You can read more about the announcement from the Queensland Government here.

Meet your sport heroes this vaccination weekend. Image source: Annastacia Palaszczuk's Twitter page.

Doomdagee mob encouraged to get the jab

Residents in Doomdagee and outlying North West communities are strongly encouraged to get vaccinated for COVID-19 following the identification of positive cases in the Northern Territory’s Robinson River and Greater Katherine local government areas. With residents frequently travelling between Doomadgee and Robinson River, North West Hospital and Health Service (North West HHS) Chief Executive Craig Carey said it was critically important for residents to come forward and get vaccinated as soon as possible.

“Increasing vaccination rates throughout the North West is a vitally important step in protecting our communities, especially our remote Indigenous communities, who are at greater risk of serious illness caused by this disease,” Mr Carey said.

“North West HHS has activated a COVID-19 testing clinic at the Doomadgee Hospital, and we will be using rapid testing for anyone in the community who is symptomatic or has been in the identified hotspots in the neighbouring Northern Territory.”

A Doomadgee vaccination clinic has run for the last three days and is planned to continue through the weekend.

You can read the North West Hospital and Health Service media release here.
For further COVID-19 information for Doomadgee, click here.

COVID-19 Delta Spread communication resources

The Australian Government Department of Health have prepared a suite of communication resources containing information on how fast the Delta strain of the COVID-19 virus spreads and who are likely to get infected.

In the suite you will find infographics and suggested copy for use on social media as well as posters/flyers that are created with or without the government crest.

You can download Delta Spread social media tiles and content here.
You can download Delta Spread posters/flyers here.

Delta Spread - image tile

 

New process for job advertising

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Race to protect communities after borders open

feature tile text 'race to protect ATSI communities after borders open' & image of Aboriginal elderly woman receiving vax Wilcannia

In feature tile Leanne Bulmer, 67, receives the Pfizer vaccine on the verandah of her home from nurse Susie Jarman, watched by Dr Joy Linton. Photo: Brian Cassey. Image source: The Australian.

Race to protect communities after borders open

In his article in The Australian titled Sprint is on to close gap after ‘Covid cyclone’ journalist Tom Dusevic says “As we begin to open up, the race is on to protect Indigenous communities lulled into complacency by lockdowns and vulnerable to bureaucracy and the spread of dangerous ideas.”

Wilcannia became an emblem of COVID-19’s nasty streak, when the Delta strain steamrolled through the remote, mainly Indigenous town in the dust-red NSW far west in August and September. Infections reached 152, or between one-quarter and one-fifth of residents, most of whom were living in overcrowded public housing.

Delta hit Wilcannia like a cyclone, as some locals described the outbreak , but it did not surprise Pat Turner, NACCHO CEO. More than a year earlier, Turner’s organisation told a parliamentary committee Wilcannia was a sitting duck. If COVID-19 hit the town, “it would be impossible to contain due to overcrowding, poor sanitation and a lack of resources needed to quarantine properly,” NACCHO said in a submission in July last year.

Late last week, Ms Turner, who is also lead convener of the Coalition of Peaks, told the Senate’s COVID-19 committee the “rapid spread of Delta has been entirely predictable. Despite repeated calls for appropriate accommodation, the residents of Wilcannia were left to isolate in tents during the first weeks of the outbreak.”

As Wilcannia’s cases escalated, authorities threw everything they could muster at a response – including the Australian Medical Assistance Team, a crack team of emergency disaster responders, the Royal Flying Doctor Service, state services, and volunteers – while community leaders stepped up to distribute food, persuade family and friends to get vaccinated, and sort out living arrangements.

The good news today is there isn’t a single active case in Wilcannia and there hasn’t been a new infection in 16 days. Thirty motor homes set up on the banks of the mighty Darling in Victory Park for quarantine – only six were eventually occupied – are being moved to Wentworth and Dubbo.

To view The Australian article in full click here.

Wilcannia residents Aunty Sissy King and sister Tammy on the verandah of their home

Wilcannia residents Aunty Sissy King and sister Tammy have had many family members test positive to Covid. Photo: Toby Zerna. Image source: The Australian.

National Prevention of Child Sexual Abuse Centre

Tomorrow marks the third anniversary of the National Apology for Victims and Survivors of Institutional Child Sexual Abuse, commemorating the childhoods that were stolen and renewing the Government’s commitment and responsibility to protecting Australia’s children.

In honour, the Morrison Government announced that the Blue Knot Foundation, along with its key consortium partners the Australian Childhood Foundation and The Healing Foundation, would establish and deliver the National Centre for the Prevention of Child Sexual Abuse. PM Scott Morrison said on this day three years ago we confronted our failure to listen, to believe, and to provide justice.

To view the media release in full click here.

art of child's face, shadows by Alex Williamson, red, grey, black, cream

Art by Alex Williamson. Image source: The Economist.

Success in turning around type 2 diabetes

In a new 3-part documentary series, Ray Kelly teams up with world renowned medical journalist Dr Michael Mosley to explain research showing how rapidly the progression of type 2 diabetes can be turned around.

Ray Kelly has developed the ‘Too Deadly for Diabetes’ program to turn around the progression of type 2 diabetes within the Indigenous community. It has been provided through Aboriginal medical services in Bourke, Brewarrina, Walgett, Coonamble and other locations throughout the state. The results have shown that if community are provided with a program they understand and good support, they will achieve great results. In just 11 months the community in Coonamble have lost a combined total of 1,316kg, with many having medications reduced or totally removed. In other towns people have been taken off insulin within weeks, after 15-20 years of giving themselves daily injections.

The programs are led by their local team of GPs, nurses and Aboriginal health workers.

To view the article in IndigenousX in full click here.

Australia’s Health Revolution aired on SBS on October 13 and October 20 at 7:30pm. The last episode will air next Wednesday 27 October 2021. You can also watch on SBS On Demand here.

2 images: Aboriginal & TSI flags blowing in breeze; bowl of fruit, tape measure & blood sugar level monitor

Image source: IndigenousX.

Pleas for transport in face of COVID-19

The head of a Victorian Aboriginal health organisation is pleading for personal transport assistance as her community grapples with its first Delta outbreak. Jacki Turfrey from Mallee District Aboriginal Services (MDAS) says she has been asking for help from the Health Department to get infected people to emergency accommodation, testing and vaccinations.

While mobile testing vans and pop-up vaccination clinics have been set up to accommodate people who cannot travel, Ms Turfrey says positive cases are the organisation’s greatest concern.

“The biggest challenge that we’ve had is people who have been contacted by the Department, know that they’re COVID-positive or a close contact and need to be put into emergency accommodation and there is no transport available for those people to safely move from one place to another,” she said. “I’ve been asked personally on a number of occasions to get in a bus, put on some PPE and drive people around, which is just not acceptable.”

To view the ABC News article in full click here.

MDAS CEO Jacki Turfrey, Jimmy Kennedy, and Victoria's COVID Commander Jeroen Weimar in Mildura standing in front of MDAS van

MDAS CEO Jacki Turfrey, Jimmy Kennedy, and Victoria’s COVID Commander Jeroen Weimar in Mildura on Monday. Photo: Richard Crabtree, ABC Mildura-Swan Hill. Image source; ABC News.

Liver disease could be next epidemic

A first of its kind study published in the Medical Journal of Australia (MJA) shows liver disease looks to be Australia’s next epidemic affecting at least 36% of regional Victorians. The study looked at rates of Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD) in the Goulburn Valley area and concluded the rate in this regional community was higher than the estimated rate in metropolitan areas.

Based on the Fatty Liver Index which uses pathology data combined with Body Mass Index (BMI) and other measurements, researchers found NAFLD affects 36% of people in the region, and 45% of those aged 60 or more. Lead author, Professor Stuart Roberts, is the Head of Hepatology and a consultant gastroenterologist at The Alfred, he said; “Rates of liver disease have been based on estimates developed from overseas data and little is known of the true prevalence of fatty liver disease in Australia.

To view the Pathology Awareness Australia media release in full click here.

torso of man holding stomach overlaid with image of a liver

Image source: eMediHealth.

Promise for future rural general practice

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) General Practice: Health of the Nation report shows promise for the future of rural general practice. An annual health check-up on general practice in Australia, the Health of the Nation report draws on publicly available data, as well as the Health of the Nation survey of RACGP fellows from across Australia. This year’s survey was undertaken by EY Sweeney during April-May 2021, with 1,386 respondents.

This year’s report highlights strong and growing interest among GPs to work in rural health, offering hope for the future health of rural general practice and communities, including: Almost three in five (59%) GPs in training report an interest in rural practice, compared to two in five (40%) of other specialists in training. While two out of five (44%) GPs in training report that they intend to work in urban areas post-Fellowship, a larger proportion (48%) plan to work in rural or a mix of urban and rural locations.

To view the RACGP media release in full click here.

yellow road sign with vector of head, shoulders, with stethoscope around neck

Image source: The Medical Journal of Australia.

Remote PHC Manuals progress update

The Remote Primary Health Care Manuals (RPHCMs) are currently being reviewed and updated. Monthly updates are provided to health and other organisations to keep them up-to-date throughout the review process.

What’s new: almost all (98%) of the Primary Reviews have now been completed! Protocols are now being updated to reflect endorsed changes. Clinicians will be consulted about major content changes prior to Secondary Review.

Protocol groups endorsed: alcohol and other drugs; ante/post natal emergencies; clinical assessment; eyes; women’s health; and wounds.

Coming up: secondary reviews will start early in 2022. If you use the manuals please visit the RPHCM website to see how you can become a Secondary Reviewer.

Protocol groups coming up for endorsements: contraception; diabetes/renal/cardiac; mental health’ scabies; and urinary.

To view the RPHCM October 2021 information flyer click 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.

Suicide Prevention Strategy launch

In early 2020, the Commonwealth Government tasked Gayaa Dhuwi (Proud Spirit) Australia (GDPSA) 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.

The virtual launch of the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Strategy 2021-2031, via Zoon Meetings (hosted at the University of WA by GDPSA) originally scheduled for tomorrow, at 3:00pm AEDT, Friday 22 October 2021, has been POSTPONED.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: NDIS workforce critical given high disability rates

feature tile text 'NDIS workforce critical given high rates of disability among First Nations peoples' & rear silhouette view of elderly lady in wheelchair looking up at blue sky & clouds

NDIS workforce critical given high disability rates

NACCHO CEO recently appeared before the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) Joint Committee. In her opening comments, Pat Turner said “the NDIS workforce is an absolutely critical issue for our people and communities, given our high rates of disability. As you are aware, the National Agreement on Closing the Gap demonstrates a commitment from all levels of government to changing the way policies and programs affecting our people are developed and delivered.”

“Shared decision-making between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and government, strengthening the community controlled sector, improving mainstream organisations, and improving collection of and access to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander data are the priority reforms that underpin the national agreement. NACCHO’s submission [to the NDIS Joint Committee] outlines the need for and provides recommendations about how government can support and build a sustainable, community controlled NDIS workforce.”

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are twice as likely to experience a disability as other Australians. Currently, 9.6% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are NDIS participants. However, there is a severe underutilisation of plans by Aboriginal and Torres Strait people nationally when compared to other Australians. A key barrier for many of our people who are currently on NDIS plans is that they are unable to access culturally safe services or, in many cases, any services. I need to make this very clear: this is not just a remote issue but one also faced by our regional and urban communities. To ensure the successful uptake and utilisation of NDIS and disability services, a multidisciplinary and competent workforce is needed to support and provide services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

However, the community controlled care and health sector is facing major workforce challenges where demand will outstrip the supply of suitably skilled and job-ready Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander employees. This shortage will impact access to culturally appropriate, effective and efficient support and assistance needed by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

To access the full transcript of what Pat Turner said at the NDIS Joint Committee click here.

Pat Turner. Image source: Sydney Morning Herald.

Most vaccinated community in Central Australia

The low rate of COVID-19 vaccinations in Indigenous Australians continues to cause concern for politicians desperate to reopen borders, but one community near Alice Springs has turned that on its head with 94% of the eligible population having received at least one dose.

One major reason for the community’s success was the push by Sarah Gallagher, a long-term health worker in the community, who has almost single-handedly persuaded residents to get the jab.  “We’ve seen it everywhere. Our community heard about it, seen the news, it’s everywhere,” she said. “Our community people have been saying, ‘we’ve got to think about ourselves here. This is a good community, we need to go to the clinic and get vaccinated’.”

Health workers who service the community have also credited strong male leadership in the community in the uptake success. Jonathan Doolan, who has lived in Utju for 20 years, said the community had felt fear and uncertainty about COVID. “Some are getting scared of this thing and some really aren’t sure what they need to do,” said Mr Doolan. “We’re giving them the message and people will come to have the needle, have the thing.”

The combined efforts of Ms Gallagher’s commitment to her community and Mr Doolan’s leadership, has led to success, but the formula has proven difficult to replicate in other communities struggling to promote vaccination. “People trust me. I live here in my community and people trust me,” Ms Gallagher said. The health clinic in Utju is run by the Indigenous-controlled Central Australian Aboriginal Congress (CAAC) and not the NT Government, which is the case for some other remote health clinics.

To view the ABC News article in full click here.

Sarah Gallagher & Jonathan Dooley, Areyonga

Sarah Gallagher and Jonathan Dooley have been crucial in encouraging residents of Areyonga to get vaccinated. Photo: Steven Schubert, ABC Alice Springs. Image source: ABC News.

New COVID-19 vax resources from NSW Health

NSW Health have put together a range of updated COVID-19 vaccination resources for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, including:

  • updated sorry business poster and factsheet to reflect new restrictions
  • updated self-isolation rules
  • new community champion vaccination postcards
  • community champion videos: Blake Tatafu; BudjerahCorey Tutt; Lesley Armstrong
  • updated ‘release and recovery from COVID-19’ factsheet with new advice about vaccination for recovered cases.

All the above resources, as well as the social media resources listed below, can be found on the NSW Government website here.

NSW Health will also be hosting another Yarn Up Q&A at 3:00PM Tuesday 26 October 2021 on the NSW Health Facebook page. This series will focus on the facts about COVID-19 vaccination, responding to some of the misinformation circulating through the community. If you have any questions you think would be valuable to include, please let Helen Gardiner, Aboriginal Health COIVD-19 Communications Lead, Centre for Aboriginal Health, NSW Government know by midday this Thursday 21 October 2021 using this email link.

Youth call for action on “missing middle”

Young leaders have released a Call to Action to promote a much stronger role for young Australians in the design of health services to meet the “missing middle” needs of teenagers and young adults in health policy. The Call to Action seeks innovations including the creation of a youth healthcare card, a National Youth Commissioner and education in schools to promote understanding of the health system.

The call flows from the recent Youth Health Forum National Summit which brought together hundreds of advocates and young people from across Australia to discuss the health system challenges experienced by people aged 18 to 30. This age group has been identified in the report Life Transitions and Youth Pathways to Health services report as the “missing middle” in healthcare, experiencing limited engagement in the health sector and worsening outcomes.

“Changes need to be made within the health system to ensure that young people are able to live their healthiest lives. For these changes to be effective and sustainable, we are directly engaging and listening to young health consumers who are most impacted by the system,” the spokesperson for the Youth Health Forum, Roxxanne MacDonald, said.

To view the CHF media release in full click here.

legs of 5 young people sitting with laptops

Image source: Pro Bono Australia.

$93m to extend Indigenous programs

The Morrison Government is investing more than $93 million into 224 organisations to extend a range of Indigenous programs across early childhood, schooling, vocational education and training, and safety and wellbeing projects. Minister for Indigenous Australians, the Hon Ken Wyatt AM, MP, said the funding continues many successful programs that address essential service gaps and meet community needs.

“Our commitment to initiatives that help realise better outcomes for Indigenous Australians is unwavering – this funding will help deliver a raft of critical services, particularly to improve early life outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children.” “224 organisations will receive funding from the Indigenous Advancement Strategy, allowing them to plan and deliver 253 activities and services for Indigenous Australians.

To view Minister Wyatt’s media release in full click here.

7 young Aboriginal kids jumping in the air, grass underfoot & blue sky

Image source: The Australian.

EOIs sought for Project ECHO Steering Group

The COVID-19 pandemic has had an impact on the use of alcohol and other substances and delivery of treatment services across Australia, and has reinforced the key role primary care, and particularly general practice, plays in keeping people well in the community.

GPs often see the impact of alcohol and drug use on people’s wellbeing and are well placed to offer support. Just like other health problems, substance use issues can be treated, with treatment generally more effective if initiated early.

To build confidence and capability of primary care practitioners to support people experiencing alcohol and other drug (AOD) issues, WA Primary Health Alliance (WAPHA) are establishing WA’s first Project ECHO (Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes). Project ECHO is an evidence-based model which places healthcare providers from diverse settings in direct contact with subject matter experts, empowering them to provide best practice care for their local communities.

WAPHA is seeking expressions of interest (EOIs) from GPs and other health professionals to be part of a Steering Group to guide the development and implementation of Project ECHO. The Steering Committee will provide leadership, oversight and direction; monitor progress; progress relevant actions and contribute to project evaluation.

WAPHA is seeking applications from:

  • General Practitioners (with advanced experience and/or an AOD speciality as well as early career practitioners with a special interest in AOD)
  • Aboriginal Health Practitioners
  • Pharmacists
  • Nurses
  • Other Allied Health professionals and
  • Consumers who use AOD services

If this sounds like you then please submit your EOI here by COB Friday 5 November 2021.

For more information about Project ECHO click here.

banner, vector sign text 'Project ECHO'

Indigenous Justice Research Program established

The national Indigenous Justice Research Program (IJRP) has been established as part of the Morrison Government’s commitment to the National Agreement on Closing the Gap. The IJRP will fund academic research relating to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander criminal justice and aim to reduce the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in detention.

Minister for Home Affairs Karen Andrews said closing the gap was vitally important, not just for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples but for all Australians. “This new research program will build a body of evidence to inform improvements to criminal justice polices and responses as they relate to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander individuals interacting with the justice system,” Minister Andrews said. Minister Wyatt said a solid research and evidence base will support all parties to meet and exceed the targets to reduce Indigenous over-representation in the criminal justice system.

To view the media release in full click here.

Calls for national social prescribing scheme

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP), Consumer Health Forum of Australia (CHF) and Mental Health Australia are urging the government to implement a national social prescribing scheme to tackle Australia’s mental health and wellbeing crisis in the 2021 Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook (MYEFO).

Mental ill health is a growing problem in Australia and has been made worse by the COVID-19 pandemic. Since 2017, GPs across Australia have rated mental health as the most common presentation they see as part of the RACGP’s annual Health of the Nation survey. Medicare data also shows the increase in patients accessing mental health services during the pandemic, with services highest in July 2020 when Victoria’s second wave peaked. We also know that approximately 20% of patients consult their GP for what are primarily social problems.

The RACGP, CHF and Mental Health Australia are calling on the Australian Government to support the development of a nationally coordinated scheme dedicated to tackling the problem with innovative local solutions.

Social prescribing is about health and wellbeing support. It involves a health professional supporting a patient to take up non-medical activities and services to supplement conventional healthcare. It aims to address the key risk factors for poor health, including mental health problems, social isolation, and chronic illness. It has been shown to deliver positive health benefits and improved self-care capability.

To view the joint media release click here.

vector images of 18 social activities

Image source: CTA 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.