NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: International Day of Indigenous Peoples

The image in the feature tile shows bush tucker as part of the connectedness with the land and each other that nourishes body and soul in Indigenous communities. Photo: Paul Miller, AAP. Image source: The Conversation 24 June 2015.

International Day of Indigenous Peoples

The Role of Indigenous Women in the Preservation and Transmission of Traditional Knowledge

On 9 August, the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples (IDWIP) is celebrated globally. This year’s theme is: “The Role of Indigenous Women in the Preservation and Transmission of Traditional Knowledge”.

“Indigenous women are the backbone of Indigenous peoples’ communities and play a crucial role in the preservation and transmission of traditional ancestral knowledge. They have an integral collective and community role as carers of natural resources and keepers of scientific knowledge.” The United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs Indigenous Peoples IDWIP 2022

On IDWIP it is important to note that according to the Law Council of Australia (LCA) despite announcing support for the UN Declaration of Rights on Indigenous People (UNDRIP) in 2009, Australian governments and parliaments are yet to recognise and implement its standards in a formal and comprehensive way (see LCA media release Australian must formally adopt UNDRIP here).

In June this year NACCHO provided a submission to the Senate Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs into the application of the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous People (UNDRIP) in Australia. In their submission, NACCHO’s made nine recommendations, including:

  • the Australian Government introduce legislative measures to enact the UNDRIP into Commonwealth law, in line with the UNDRIP Article 38.
  • there be acknowledgement of the key role ACCHOs have played in paving the way for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander self-determination
  • the National Agreement on Closing the Gap be acknowledged as a critical precursor for full enactment of the UNDRIP.

You can read NACCHO’s submission in full here.

Image source: World Vision website.

National Stroke Week

This week marks National Stroke Week Monday 8 – Sunday 14 August 2022, an annual campaign run by Australia’s Stroke Foundation. The Stroke Foundation was set up 1983 to conduct research to improve the treatment of diseases impacting the brain and nervous system. When stroke emerged as one of Australia’s top health priorities, the focus of the changed to be exclusively on stroke and in 1996 the National Stroke Foundation was established.

The ambitions that informed early research efforts continue to inform the Foundation’s primary objectives, which are to champion innovative stroke research and treatments; to advocate for widespread access to these innovative treatments; to educate health professionals in delivering best-practice care for stroke sufferers; and, to raise public awareness about preventing and recognising stroke.

National Stroke Week helps the Foundation achieve its primary objectives by providing a platform with which to roll out stroke education and awareness to the general public about identifying and managing the signs of stroke. The focus of this year’s National Stroke Week is to spread the F.A.S.T signs of stroke message among family and friends, so that stroke casualties can receive medical attention early, and thereby continue to enjoy more of life’s precious moments.

For more information about National Stroke Week visit the Stroke Foundation website here.

Black nurses and midwives stories exhibition

A new exhibition charting the activist history of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander nurses and midwives will for the first time privilege and recognise CATSINaM’s trailblazing women and men, spanning seven decades from the 1950s to the present. CATSINaM CEO, Professor Roianne West, said the “In Our Own Right: Black Australian Nurses and Midwives Stories National Exhibition” was a “must see” for every Australian nurse and midwife.

“It’s an opportunity to see nursing and midwifery in Australia through the eyes of Australia’s First Nations nurses and midwives,” said Professor West, a descendant of the Kalkadoon and Djunke peoples. “Our nurses and midwives experienced so much adversity in their training and working lives, but they fought every step of the way for justice and equity for those who would follow them. Our Elders and our leaders want our young people to hear these stories.”

Auntie Dr Doseena Fergie OAM, a member of CATSINaM’s Elders Circle, said the exhibition highlighted CATSINaM’s goal since its inception to increase the recruitment and retention of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander nursing and midwifery workforce. “This exhibition pays tribute to the courage of these trailblazers then, and professional role models since, who actively challenged the health system that ostracised First Australians, and who now advocate for culturally safe health services for Mob. The intimate, private, and heart-wrenching stories told will penetrate the hearts and souls of even the most hardened hearer,” she said.

To view the Croakey Health Media article Previewing a “must see” exhibition: In Our Own Right: Black Australian Nurses and Midwives Stories in full click here.

Gudanji and Garrwa woman Jayvina Raggett recreates a nursing scene from the 1960s for “In Our Own Right: Black Australian Nurses and Midwives Stories” exhibition. Photo courtesy CATSINaM. Image source: Croakey Health Media.

Critical need for allied health workers

A new report has revealed alarming shortages and increasing staff turnover rates of allied health workers across the country, which could put people with disability at risk. The data, released by the peak body for disability, National Disability Services (NDS), is part of its latest Workforce Census Report and found difficulty accessing allied health services was a contributing factor to underutilisation of NDIS funds, particularly for remote areas.

The report also states the data may point to the long-term national neglect of allied health workforce needs, which it finds the NDIS National Workforce Plan is unlikely to effectively address. NDS CEO Laurie Leigh said the report shines a light on the continued disruption the sector has faced over the last financial year, with urgent need for collaboration between industry and government.

“It is clear from the findings in this annual census report that the disability workforce is still feeling the ongoing impact of COVID-19,” she said. “With the Federal Government Job and Skills Summit coming up in a few weeks, now is the time for the government and providers to come together to ensure we are moving forward with the right measures to ensure disability workforces are supported during this turbulent period for the sector. This report also highlights the ongoing issues faced by the disability sector in recruiting the allied health workforce needed, especially to provide services in remote and very remote areas.”

To view The National Tribune article New report shows critical need for allied health workers, as wait lists grow across country in full click here.

Gunyangara Clinic. Image source: Miwatj Health Aboriginal Corporation website.

Indigenous data governance

In 2016, Professor Tahu Kukutai and Emeritus Professor John Taylor from ANU’s Centre for Aboriginal Economic Policy Research asked, “what does data sovereignty mean for Indigenous peoples, and how is it being used in their pursuit of self-determination?”. These were just two of the questions addressed by 183 Indigenous data users, data scientists, researchers and government and community representatives at the Indigenous Data Governance and Sovereignty Roundtable by the Indigenous Data Network (IDN) in Narrm at the University of Melbourne.

The Roundtable, convened by Professor Marcia Langton, Dr Kristen Smith, Dr Vanessa Russ and Levi-Craig Murray, was an important step in the IDN’s project – Improving Indigenous Research Capabilities: An Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Research Data Commons. Its objective is to build national Indigenous research capabilities, framed by a set of agreed Indigenous governance principles that can leverage existing data assets and link them to new and existing data.

To view The National Tribune article Indigenous data governance for 21st century click here.

Many institutions won’t permit researchers to see these materials without “permission from communities”. Picture: Getty Images. Image source: University of Melbourne online magazine Pursuit.

Australia-first health and wellbeing campus

The McGowan Government is set to begin work on a unique, Australian-first health and wellbeing campus that will focus on culturally appropriate care for the Broome community. The Yinajalan Ngarrungunil (Care for People) Broome Health and Wellbeing Campus will take shape on Dora Street on land owned by Nyamba Buru Yawuru (NBY), the operational company of the Yawuru people – Traditional Owners of the land and waters in and around Rubibi (Broome). The McGowan Government has allocated $8 million to the project’s subdivision consultancy and civil works. Broome business Roadline Civil Contractors will undertake the project, helping to support local jobs. The campus will combine a holistic range of new facilities and services with a focus on enhancing the delivery of collaborative healthcare services in Broome.

To view the media release click here.

Nyamba Buru Yawuru CEO Nini Mills and WA Premier Mark McGowan, centre, with Yawuru staff and government members. Picture: Yawuru Image source: National Indigenous Times.

End of Cashless Debit Card welcome

The St Vincent de Paul Society in Australia welcomes the Albanese Government’s introduction into Parliament of legislation to abolish the Cashless Debit Card. ‘The Society has been a leading voice calling for the abolition of the Cashless Debit Card,’ said National President Ms Claire Victory. ‘We have held concerns that this approach has had significant unintended and expensive consequences across Government and the community, including social exclusion and stigmatisation, increased financial hardship, and the erosion of autonomy and dignity. ‘The Society believes the best form of assistance is the type that helps people to feel, and recover, their own dignity, as this empowers them and enables them to forge ahead and change their own destinies and those of their local communities.

To view the St Vincent de Paul Society in Australia’s media release Legislation to abolish cashless debit card welcome – St Vincent de Paul Society in Australia click here.

Image source: The Guardian.

Sector Jobs

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

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

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NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: PM’s Voice to Parliament proposal

Image in the feature tile is PM Anthony Albanese with Yothu Yindi Foundation chair Galarrwuy Yunupingu at the Garma festival in the NT. Photo: Carly Earl. Image source: The Guardian, 30 July 2022.

PM’s Voice to Parliament

The PM, Anthony Albanese, acknowledged we have been here before as a nation: at a crossroads, about to decide a path that will affect the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Islander people for generations to come. But for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, this time the stakes are so much higher, because the past is littered with the broken promises of politicians.

The PM said as much in his stirring speech at the Garma festival in Arnhem Land on Saturday. Anthony Albanese spoke of “over 200 years of broken promises and betrayals, failures and false starts”. “So many times, the gap between the words of balanda [whitefella] speeches and the deeds of governments has been as wide as this continent,” Albanese told a packed crowd.

In response to comments about addressing urgent, critical matters before any referendum, the lead convener of the Coalition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peak Organisations, Pat Turner, said it was possible to do more than one thing at a time. Turner said the voice and improving the lives of Aboriginal and Islander people was “not an either-or prospect”. “Our members undertake service delivery across Australia to some 500,000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait people,” Turner said. “Our members are on country, working in and for our communities, to make a difference in our people’s lives.”

To view The Guardian article Indigenous voice campaigners say ample detail already available in wake of PM’s stirring speech in full click here. You can also view a transcript of PM Anthony Albanese’s speech at Garma on The Voice published in WAtoday here.

Goodbye Archie, who gave voice to many

Songman Archie Roach has been remembered as the voice of generations and a truth-teller whose death is a loss to his community and the world. The Gunditjmara (Kirrae Whurrong/Djab Wurrung), Bundjalung Senior Elder, songman and storyteller died at the age of 66 after a long illness. His sons said Uncle Archie died surrounded by his family and loved ones at Warrnambool Base Hospital in Victoria. His family has granted permission for his name and image to be used so that his legacy will continue to inspire.

Gunditjmara woman Jill Gallagher, CEO of the Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (VACCHO), said it felt like “a little bit of hope has gone”. “Uncle Archie, through his music, brought that hope, because he told the world … Australia does have a dark history,” she told the ABC. “And he showed the world that Aboriginal people are still here. And we have a story to tell.”

To view the ABC News article Archie Roach remembered as a truth-teller and activist who gave voice to many click here.

Pharmacist guideline for supporting mob

The Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (PSA) has launched guidelines for pharmacists supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples with medicines management, as part of PSA22. The principles included in the guideline are relevant to all current and future pharmacists, from those just starting their professional journey to those with years of experience working in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health sector.

PSA National President Dr Fei Sim said that the guidelines were a vital part of the pharmacy profession’s effort to improve the health and wellbeing of all Australians. “PSA is proud to have worked with the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) to develop these guidelines, which will help pharmacists around Australia, in all practice settings, deliver the best care to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients,” she said.

Deputy CEO of NACCHO, Dr Dawn Casey, says that the guidelines offer practical and detailed information, as well as some challenging ideas. “All pharmacists have Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander patients as well as colleagues, business partners or family who we interact with, know and work alongside,” she said.

To view The National Tribune article Guideline for pharmacists supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples launched at PSA22 click here and to view the Guideline for Pharmacists Supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples with Medicines Management click here.

Image source: Pharmaceutical Society of Australia website.

Ideally placed to help family violence victims

Health systems play a key role in addressing gender-based violence, particularly domestic and sexual violence, but have not been given adequate resources to respond in a way that benefits victims/survivors and children, according to the authors of a Narrative Review published today by the Medical Journal of Australia.

Gender-based violence includes physical, psychological, sexual or economic behaviour causing harm for reasons associated with people’s gender. Women are disproportionately affected by gender-based violence, with Indigenous women and girls facing particularly high risk.

Victims/survivors are more likely to access health services (eg, general practice, sexual health, mental health, emergency care, Aboriginal community-controlled health services and maternity services) than any other professional help. Health practitioners are ideally placed to identify domestic and sexual violence, provide a first line response, and refer on to support services. However, domestic and sexual violence continue to be under-recognised and poorly addressed by health practitioners. It is essential for practitioners to have the skills to ask and respond to domestic and sexual violence, given that victims/survivors who receive positive reactions are more likely to accept help.

To view the Medical Journal of Australia’s media release Transforming health settings to address gender‐based violence in Australia in full click here.

Image source: MamaMia article ‘Indigenous women are the unheard victims of domestic violence. It’s time to break the silence.’ – 26 January 2022.

Mob with disability a double disadvantage

The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) began a full national rollout in July 2016 with a fundamental objective to give those with a disability choice and control over their daily lives. Participants can use funds to purchase services that reflect their lifestyle and aspirations. People with disability living in remote communities may receive money for supports, but that doesn’t mean there’s anywhere to purchase them.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with severe disability face many barriers to fully accessing the support offered by the NDIS. This group of people has already experienced long-standing isolation and are particularly vulnerable to being left behind, again. The prevalence of disability among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people is twice that experienced by other Australians. It is more complex in terms of more than one disability or health issue occurring together, and it is compressed within a shorter life expectancy.

The latest NDIS quarterly states 9,255 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are participating in the NDIS (roughly 5.4% of the total). Though, being a “participant” means they have been signed up to an insurance policy. It doesn’t necessarily mean the policy has been paid out. And many others aren’t on the scheme at all.

To view the NewsServices.com article Indigenous people with disability have a double disadvantage and the NDIS can’t handle that in full click here. A related article Making everyone count: it is time to improve the visibility of people with disabilitiy in primary care published in the Medical Journal of Australia today is available here.

Willie Prince, a founding member of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Disability Network of Queensland. Image source: Queenslanders with Disability Network.

Complexity of GP role needs respect

General practice is at a tipping point, and besides root-and-branch reform of models of funding, experts say attitudes to general practice need to change, and change now. With rising costs of providing care, increasing burnout rates of doctors and low number pursuing GP training, there are repeated calls across the industry to dump universal bulk billing and fund primary care in a different way. But it’s not just about the money. GPs want wide-ranging changes for the sustainability of their profession.

Dr David King, Senior Lecturer in General Practice at the University of Queensland said “We need to be included in decisions that involve health care, and the nation needs to realise that we’re the foundation of health care in Australia, particularly primary health care.”

Dr Karen Price, President of the Royal Australian College of GPs (RACGP) went further saying there needs to be a funding model that integrates other services. “We need to look at different models like the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations (ACCHOs) have done. They’ve got a great model for Aboriginal medical services. We need to look at centres like that in some of the lower socio-economic areas where they can’t afford a gap. We need to look at how that might work with access to physiotherapy and social work and occupational therapy and psychologists in a way that is equitable and supported.

To view the InSight article GPs at “top of the medical hierarchy” crying out for respect in full click here.

Image source: General Practice Training Queensland.

Healing power of the arts

A young woman dying of cancer wanted music to soothe her in the final moments of life. So a harpist went to her bedside at a Brisbane hospital, where she and her family were preparing for the end. “She wanted to be played to the other side,” said Peter Breen who curates the Stairwell Project, a Queensland charity that organises musical performances in hospitals to calm and distract patients and staff.

Stairwell Project is one of many arts organisations featured at this week’s National Rural Health Conference in Brisbane, where hundreds of professionals will gather for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic struck. Deadly Weavers founder Felicity Chapman, a Wiradjuri businesswoman who used traditional craft to rehabilitate after a brain aneurysm, will also feature alongside other Indigenous artists.

To view the Health Times article ‘Like Narnia’: the healing power of music in full 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 & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Pleas for governments to ‘listen’

Image in feature tile is from The Guardian article NT intervention a ‘debacle’ and second attempt should be made, commission told, 22 June 2017. Photo: David McLain, Getty Images, Aurora Creative.

Please for governments to ‘listen’

The intervention rolled into the NT like an unseasonal storm. That’s how some Territorians who lived through the policy – formally named the emergency response – remember its arrival, 15 years ago. John Daly, a remote community resident from Nauiyu, was the Northern Land Council’s chairman at the time, says “I think it was done in a way that was so hurtful. When you look at the intervention, it was based on a report – this wasn’t the response [the authors] wanted from their report. Ten years after allegations of abuse and violence in the Indigenous community of Mutitjulu sparked the NT intervention, locals say very little has been achieved.

“Why basically ride in there and take away the rights of every traditional owner and Aboriginal person?” In north-east Arnhem Land, Djambarrpuyngu clan cultural leader Lapulung Dhamarrandji remembers residents from Milingimbi fleeing to neighbouring homelands and communities out of fear. “To us, it was like there wasn’t any blue skies around us, it was covered with thick grey clouds – when the intervention came, it was like that,” he said. “The fear inside us all, I mean we are parents just like you people you know.”

To view the ABC News article Residents who lived through the NT intervention plead for governments to ‘listen’, 15 years on in full click here.

Miriam Rose Ungunmerr Baumann said there was a failure to listen deeply and hear residents’ solutions. Photo: Felicity James, ABC News.

PAMS Healthcare Hub built for the desert

Through a series of projects in the arid environment of WA predominantly built for Aboriginal communities, Kaunitz and Yeung Architecture has proposed a different approach to working with the beautiful, yet harsh, desert environment. Designing with, not for, remote Aboriginal communities, Kaunitz and Yeung are changing the narrative of remote regional architecture – creating a new vernacular for Australian desert architecture.

While one of their most recent projects, the award winning Puntukurnu Aboriginal Medical Service (PAMS) Healthcare Hub, may be the most prominent of Kaunitz and Yeung’s work, some of their earlier Western Desert projects were fundamental in breaking the architectural tradition already present in Australia’s desert areas. The work of Kaunitz and Yeung has been iterative. Starting with the Wanarn Health Clinic in 2015 which, in David Kaunitz’s words, “smashed the mould of verandah buildings” then the Punmu and Parnngurr clinics in 2018, each project has learned from the previous and the design has evolved.

To view The Property Tribune article Creating architecture for the Australian desert in full click here.

The new PAMS building has been constructed around an internal courtyard which provide shad in summer and shelter from the harsh sun. Image source: The Property Tribune.

Pharmacy trial puts patients in danger

A small Aboriginal community in Far North Queensland, the town has in effect been selected as one of the sites for a radical and potentially dangerous experiment in patient care. That experiment is the Queensland Government’s plan to allow pharmacists to diagnose, prescribe and dispense up to 150 different S4 drugs across 23 medical conditions.

Dr King, a Yued/Whadjuk Noongar man, explains why he fears the worst. I first learnt that Yarrabah would be a site for the North Queensland pharmacy trial back in March. I found out because a journalist sent me those secret, confidential documents that had originally been leaked to Australian Doctor earlier this year. I did not find out because the community was consulted about what was coming— the local council, the ED next door to us, both knew nothing. I was confused, and I was angry.

The government says this trial will allow pharmacists to compensate for GP workforce shortages in North Queensland. If Yarrabah is on the list, then that is nonsense. We have seven FTE GPs, and even in the most difficult parts of the pandemic, we haven’t had shortages. To slap us with this trial with no consultation about what is happening is ludicrous and offensive. It also shows a deep level of ignorance at the highest level of Queensland Health for what actually goes on within communities from a primary health perspective and the vulnerabilities of our patients.

To view the Australian Doctor article Pharmacy prescribing trial: ‘The lives of my patients are in real danger’ in full click here.

Dr Jason King, Gurriny Yealamucka Health Service, Yarrabah, QLD. Image source: Australian Doctor.

Use the NDIS? We want your story

Do you or your family use the NDIS??

We’d like to film your story?!

People from all locations welcome.

Your time will be paid $$.

Please contact Chris Lee by email here or by phoning 02 6246 9352.

Urgent need for more mental health services

More than two in five Australians experience a mental health issue in their lifetime. In 2020–21 more than 3.4 million Australians sought help from a health care professional for their mental health. These sobering statistics are from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) National Study of Mental Health and Wellbeing, with in-depth data from more than 5,500 people aged 16 to 85 years old. The study found that during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, 21.4% of Australians had experienced a mental health disorder in the previous 12 months, with anxiety the most common disorder. Almost half (47.1%) of those who had a mental health disorder in 2020–21 sought support, an increase since the last study in 2007.

Across their entire lifetime around one in six (16.7%) Australians reported having had suicidal thoughts or behaviour, with females (18.7%) having a higher rate than males (14.5%). 38% of Australians were close to someone who has attempted or died by suicide, a tragedy which impacts family, friends and communities.

You can read the media release Major Mental Health Study Released issued by Minister for Health and Aged Care, Mark Butler MP and the Assistant Minister for Rural and Regional Health, Emma McBride MP in full here.

Other organisations also issued media releases in response to the ABC data:

Image source: High Street Medical Clinic.

Change starting for VIC LGBTQI community

From growing up with his ‘foot in two camps’ – queer and Indigenous, to being the voice of the LGBTQI community in Victoria, Victorian Commissioner for LGBTIQ+ Communities Todd Fernando says it’s been an exciting journey. Todd Fernando is the first out queer, Indigenous person to be appointed a commissioner in Australia. For this descendant of Kalarie people from the Wiradjuri nation, growing up with his “foot in two camps” was not an easy task.

“Being a young Wiradjuri person, we were fighting for the recognition of our culture. I had to put my queerness on the back burner and, and really not allow it to overshadow what we were trying to do within the Wiradjuri space,” Fernando said. Fernando grew up in the regional rural town of Condobolin, located on the Lachlan River in central-western NSW. “I was very fortunate to grow up on country and to learn about my culture in a variety of ways with my family. One of the things that I did miss out on was connecting to my culture through my queerness.”

To view the Star Observer article We’re starting to see change, says Todd Fernando Victorian Commissioner for LGBT communities in full click here.

Todd Fernando, Victorian Commissioner for LGBTIQ+ Communities at the opening of the Victorian Pride Centre in July 2021. Photo: Gabriel Jia. Image source: Star Observer.

Better anti-racism training needed

Monash researchers have found medical practitioners are promoting ill health through racist practices with Aboriginal health consumers. Monash academic Petah Atkinson published the findings from her PhD research Aboriginal Health Consumers Experiences of an Aboriginal Health Curriculum Framework in The Australian Indigenous HealthBulletin Journal with co-authors Professor Karen Adams and Professor Marilyn Baird.

The study found unwanted care included three racism themes: 1) The practitioner perpetuating and being unresponsive to racism; 2) Assimilation; and 3) An inability to consider the impacts of settler colonialism. Desired care included four anti-racist themes: 1) Responsiveness to racism and settler colonialism; 2) Advocating within the settler colonial health system; 3) Engaging with the diversity of Aboriginal ways of knowing, being and doing; 4) Lifelong learning and reflection.

In settler colonised countries, medical education is situated in colonist informed health systems. This form of colonisation is characterised by overt racism and contributes to the significant health inequities experienced by Indigenous peoples. Curriculum in these countries includes content relating to Indigenous peoples but doesn’t recognise Aboriginal knowledge as valuable nor consider the Indigenous health consumer’s nuanced lived experience of the delivery of medical care.

To view the Monash University article Better anti-racism training needed for medical practitioners in full click here.

Image source: INSIGHT Into Diversity.

Broaden your horizons with AGPT program

General practice is the perfect career choice for any doctor who enjoys diagnosing and treating a wide range of conditions and building long term relationships with their patients. With GPs at the frontline of primary healthcare during this recent pandemic, there are more opportunities than ever for a rewarding career in general practice – particularly those who choose to train in rural and remote Australia.

The Australian General Practice Training (AGPT) Program

Expressions of interest are open for the 2023 Australian General Practice Training (AG{T) Program (AGPT). The AGPT trains medical registrars in general practice. Registrars who achieve their fellowship through the program can work as GPs anywhere in Australia. Explore our pathway to Fellowship for a visual representation of the suggested steps for your journey.

By expressing interest, the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) will support you will valuable information through the application process.

You can express your interest by visiting the RACGP website 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.

16th National Rural Health Conference

In the lead up to the recent Federal election, the crisis in rural health received considerable media attention. It is well understood that the lack of sufficient health professionals and limited access to healthcare, result in lower life expectancy and higher levels of disease and injury in rural, regional and remote communities compared to metropolitan populations.

“If we are going to make significant inroads into improving access to affordable, high-quality healthcare, we need to bring together the whole rural health sector to learn from others about effective, innovative and tailored, place-based solutions for our rural communities,” said Dr. Gabrielle O’Kane, CEO of the National Rural Health Alliance (the Alliance). To this end, the Alliance will host the 16th National Rural Health Conference from 2-4 August 2022 in Brisbane, Queensland.

To read the National Rural Health Alliance media release 16th National Rural Health Conference from 2–4 August 2022 ‘Bridging social distance; rural health innovating and collaborating’ in full click here.

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Remote mob with disability in desperate situations

Image in feature tile is of Emily Sherwood who has to share Tennant Creek’s main street with trucks because her scooter does not cope on non-sealed terrain. Photo: Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability. Image source: ABC News.

Remote mob with disability in desperate situations

A mother resorted to rummaging through a rubbish tip to find spare parts for her daughter’s wheelchair, the disability royal commission was told last week. The First Nations woman was among many in remote communities who spoke of trying to navigate a system with no “cultural competence”. The Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability was also told the “one size fits all” approach of the NDIS wasn’t working and showed “a complete lack of understanding” of the lives of First Nations people with disability.

The royal commission travelled to Alice Springs to hear firsthand from First Nations people with disability about the barriers they faced to get the appropriate supports from the NDIS. Approximately 66,000 First Nations people live with severe disability. About 38,500 are NDIS participants and 10% of those live in remote and very remote communities. 28 witnesses, including 13 with lived experience, gave evidence about their lives in West Arnhem Land, Thursday Island, Fitzroy Crossing, Tennant Creek and Alice Springs.

Pat Turner, the CEO of peak body the NACCHO, said the needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people were not taken into account when developing the NDIS. She said it had resulted in a system that had “created accessibility and gaps at best, and exploitation at worst.” Ms Turner said the NDIS assessment process was open to “unconscious bias” because of a lack of “cultural competency” in the organisation and scheme. “If you don’t have that cultural respect and understanding throughout the organisation you are not going to have the returns on the investment.” Ms Turner said improvements for the lives of First Nations people with disability were being made through the Remote Community Connectors Program (RCCP).

To view the ABC News article ‘Desperate situations’ of First Nations people with disability living in remote communities laid bare at royal commission in full click here.

‘Daisy’ said her wheelchair had been damaged for “a long time”. Photo: Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability. Image source: ABC News.

APPLY NOW for the Antimicrobial Academy

CPD Accredited

Amazing opportunity for any health worker or health professional working in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health sector to gain valuable skills to address antibiotics use and resistance in your community.

• 5-month program August – December 2022
• Fortnightly Zoom sessions
• Certificate upon completion

Candidate nominations to participate will come from interested health care organisations who support the candidate to develop skills and implement change in their organisation. Fostering colleagues with these skillsets will be critical for safe prescribing, improved stewardship and advocacy to ensure that remote living Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians are included in national efforts to address antimicrobial use and resistance.

For more information on how you can join this program click here.

Applications close midnight Sunday 24 July 2022.

Mob lived with more anxiety about COVID-19

At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the federal government’s pandemic response struggled to include the country’s most minoritised groups, including First Nations people. Daily press conferences were broadcast, but the messages were not delivered or received equally across the country. Trust in the people delivering the messages and ability to follow health advice varies according to personal, social and cultural experiences..

A study has found First Nations people in rural NSW experienced significantly more anxiety and fear about COVID-19 than non-First Nations Australians. At the beginning of the pandemic Australia’s strategy resulted in low numbers of infected people until the Delta variant emerged. Then First Nations rural and remote communities were essentially left to fend for themselves. Even though First Nations people were found to be at greater risk of death and illness during past influenza pandemics.

The Aboriginal community-controlled health sector’s strengths based communication strategy led to culturally appropriate responses including the creation of pandemic tool kits and infection control advice. In some places this included closing remote communities and developing localised social media campaigns for these sites.

To view The Conversation article First Nations people in rural NSW lived with more anxiety and fear about COVID-19 than non-First Nations people in full click here.

At the beginning of the vaccine rollout, First Nations people were identified as a high priority list. Despite this, access to the vaccine for First Nations communities was quite limited. Photo: Dan Himbrechts, AAP. Image source: The Conversation.

Addressing NT GP shortage critical

Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) leaders are visiting Alice Springs to meet with local GPs today (Monday 18 July 2022) and discuss how to address the Territory’s GP shortage and improve patient health outcomes. RACGP President Adj. Professor Karen Price said “The GP shortage is an issue right across Australia, and it’s particularly bad for many rural and remote communities in the Northern Territory. Lack of access to general practice care has a very negative impact on people’s lives. Those living in rural and remote communities often have poorer health outcomes compared to people living in cities, including higher rates of chronic disease and more complex health needs. For example, the latest Australian Institute of Health and Welfare data shows people living outside major cities have higher rates of diabetes, asthma and arthritis.”

Adj. Professor Price continued “More support for culturally safe healthcare for Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander people is also critical to close the gap and achieve health equality. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people experience a disease burden 2.3 times that of non-Indigenous people – this is shameful. And we know that culturally inappropriate services and the experience of racism is a key barrier to care for communities, which is why cultural competency training for health practitioners and services is so important. We are also urging the Government to invest in longer consultations for complex cases – which would make a real difference for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and communities, because we know they are more likely to need these consultations due to higher rates of chronic health issues, and multimorbidity which requires more time to care.”

To view The National Tribune article RACGP Leaders meeting GPs in Alice Springs to tackle workforce concerns in full click here.

Dr Melanie Matthews, Mala’la Aboriginal Corporation Health Service, Maningrida, Arnhem Land NT. Image source: ABC News.

Community-based smoking cessation research

A ground-breaking Newcastle-based study is set to help Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women quit smoking. The ‘Which Way?’ findings, published today (Monday 18 July 2022) in the Medical Journal of Australia (MJA), is the first Indigenous-led study developed for, and by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women to develop ways to quit smoking. The project found that resources and funding is urgently needed to improve culturally safe and effective support for pregnant Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women who are trying to quit smoking.

University of Newcastle research fellow Michelle Kennedy led the three-year study to find culturally effective quitting methods. “A lot of evidence that we use when we are developing or implementing services to quit smoking are drawn from the general population or even overseas and implemented in an Aboriginal community and what we find is that they are usually not successful,” said Dr Kennedy. “The project specifically looked at what is of interest to women of reproductive age to try and stop them from smoking before or during their first pregnancy, or ahead of subsequent pregnancies. Smoking and pregnancy is a key target for the ‘Closing the Gap’ campaign and it has been ever since it was established,” said Dr Kennedy. “We know that it impacts our low birth weight babies which is a real concern because that hasn’t changed much over the years of the campaign but we have never found that thing that is going to help empower Aboriginal women to quit smoking in pregnancy.”

To view the Newcastle Herald article Newcastle based study finds ways to help Aboriginal women quit smoking in full click here. You can also MJA article Doing “deadly” community‐based research during COVID‐19: the Which Way? study in full click here. Below is a short video of Dr Kennedy explaining the Which Way? study.

Trauma leaves a mark on our genes

Freud once famously said that the child is the father of the man. However, even the good doctor probably never imagined just how true this statement would prove. Indeed, science is increasingly demonstrating that the child of trauma often bears many sons and daughters. Traumatic experiences, the evidence suggests, don’t just change us for a time. Rather, they can leave seemingly indelible marks that endure across multiple generations. The stigmata of trauma are neither figurative nor behavioural, though. Instead, the alterations induced by trauma occur from the inside out, marking us on the genetic level even as they change us on the psychological and behavioural levels.

The article covers: 1) the Genetic Basis of PTSD and Other Mental Illnesses 2) Traumatic Childhood Experiences and Gene Expression, and 3) Generational Trauma and PSTD.

Traumatic experience of poverty, intergenerational racism has been linked to higher rates of physical and mental health conditions among Indigenous groups in Australia, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Once again, this can be connected not only to the deleterious effects of economic and healthcare inequities, but also to the generational impacts of chronic stress, fear, and anxiety in the face of racial trauma. Trauma can inflict pain that lasts not only for a lifetime but for generations. Indeed, traumatic experiences, especially those occurring in childhood, can produce heritable genetic alterations that may leave one’s descendants at elevated risk for mental illnesses, such as PTSD.

To view the Open Forum article Trauma leaves a mark on our genes in full click here. Below is a short video about intergenerational trauma produced by The Healing Foundation.

Excellence in Health Care Medal winner

The AMA Queensland Excellence in Health Care Medal has been awarded to Professor Cindy Shannon AM, a First Nations woman and Emeritus Professor who has led major reforms in Indigenous health. Prof Shannon is a descendant of the Ngugi people from Moreton Bay and is one of Australia’s foremost higher education Indigenous leaders. She is the first Pro Vice Chancellor (Indigenous) at Griffith University, where she works alongside colleagues to enable all aspects of the university’s First Nations engagement. Prof Shannon led the development and implementation of Australia’s first degree level program for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health workers.

She also played a key role in supporting the establishment of the Institute for Urban Indigenous Health, which improves the health of First Nations people across South-East Queensland. She was recognised as a Queensland Great in 2017 and was made a Member of the Order of Australia in 2020 for her contributions to Indigenous health and medical education. “Prof Shannon has made a massive contribution and lasting legacy to Indigenous health in Queensland and we are very proud to award her with the Excellence in Health Care medal,” Dr Boulton said.

To view the AMA Queensland article Top doctors win AMA Qld awards in full click here.

Professor Cindy Shannon. Photo: Glenn Hunt. Image source: Brisbane Times.

New process for job advertising

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: NACCHO CEO at Disability Royal Commission

Image in feature tile is of Rex Munungurr’s wheelchair, which isn’t suitable for uneven ground. Photo: Tamara Howie. Image source: The Guardian, 5 November 2019 article The land the NDIS forgot: the remote Indigenous communities losing the postcode lottery.

NACCHO CEO at Disability Royal Commission

Yesterday NACCHO CEO and Lead Convener of the Coalition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peaks organisations Pat Turner gave evidence on Day 4 of the Disability Royal Commission Public hearing 25 – The Operation of the NDIS for First Nations people with disability in remote and very remote communities. Ms Turner gave a brief overview of NACCHO’s work, the types of services provided by ACCHOs and how many ACCHOs are expanding into disability and aged care service delivery. Ms Turner noted that a third of ACCHOs are in remote or very remote locations and those ACCHOs deliver over one million episodes of care each year.

You can access the Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability website here for more detail about hearing 25 and you can access a transcript of Day 4 of the hearing here.

Remote First Nations parents fear losing kids

Indigenous parents caring for children with a disability in remote communities aren’t seeking assistance from services due to fears their kids will be taken away, an inquiry has been told. This week the Disability Royal Commission has been examining the experiences of thousands of First Nations people with disabilities in isolated communities.

Deputy CEO of the First Persons Disability Network, June Riemer, said she was aware of nine families in Utopia, about three hours’ drive from Alice Springs, with children with severe disabilities who never left the house. “For our vulnerable families who may have children with severe disabilities, they’re afraid they’ll be taken rather than supported,” she told the inquiry yesterday. “They were hidden from the community because there was a fear that the children would be be taken. There is that fear across Australia.”

NACCHO CEO Pat Turner, said data showed there were significant underspends in NDIS plans for Indigenous people. (This) demonstrates that even though our people are becoming NDIS participants, they can’t access the services they need,” she said. “This is compounded in remote and very remote areas. Many services are not available, or those that are may not be culturally safe.”

To view The Canberra Times article Remote Indigenous parents fear losing children click here.

NDIS participant Rex Munungurr (middle) with brothers Djayak (left) and Mithili (right) and cousin Ted Wanambi (second from left) out the front of their homes in the East Arnhem Land community of Garrthalala. Photo: Tamara Howie. Image source: The Guardian.

Climate change is white colonisation

‘Climate change is racist’. So reads the title of a recent book by British journalist Jeremy Williams. While this title might seem provocative, it’s long been recognised that people of colour suffer disproportionate harms under climate change – and this is likely to worsen in the coming decades. However, most rich white countries, including Australia, are doing precious little to properly address this inequity. For the most part, they refuse to accept the climate debt they owe to poorer countries and communities.

The Lowitja Institute, Australia’s national body for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health research, says climate change: disrupts cultural and spiritual connections to Country that are central to health and wellbeing. Health services are struggling to operate in extreme weather with increasing demands and a reduced workforce. All these forces combine to exacerbate already unacceptable levels of ill-health within Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander populations.

To read the Daily Bulletin article Climate change is white colonisation of the atmosphere. It’s time to tackle this entrenched racism in full click here.

Members of Seed, Australia’s first Indigenous youth climate network. Image source: Seed website.

Managing diabetes needs comprehensive approach

The RACGP, along with the NACCHO, is also calling for a more integrated, comprehensive approach to managing diabetes in primary care. RACGP President Adjunct Professor Karen Price said the college wanted to see the introduction of a rebate for GP consults that last 60 minutes. “Greater support for longer consultations and GP-led team care will make a huge difference for people with chronic conditions,” she said. Additional investment in the Workforce Incentive Program, Professor Price said, could also help boost multidisciplinary care for people with diabetes.

NACCHO called for continued funding for the Integrating Pharmacists within ACCHOs to Improve Chronic Disease Management, better known as the IPAC project. It has recently been described by the Medical Services Advisory Committee as an “excellent example of an integrated, collaborative, patient-centred approach to primary care”.

People with diabetes were one of the cohorts which had benefitted from the project so far, according to NACCHO medicines policy and programs director Mike Stephens. “Given the project’s demonstrable acceptability and effectiveness, it is time for government to provide a sustained investment in integrating pharmacists into team-based primary care settings, including ACCHOs,” he said.

You can view The Medical Republic article Why can’t GPs approve glucose monitors? in full here.

Image source: Medical Journal of Australia.

Healthy diets can drain half of regional incomes

Research by Deakin University has found that healthy diets can cost as much as 50% of the disposable income of Australians living in rural and remote areas (including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander groups) because of rampant inflation. The study by Deakin’s Institute for Health Transformation found that before the COVID-19 pandemic, healthy diets cost a low-income family of four about one-quarter to one-third of their income (after tax).

One in four Australians indicated that grocery shopping had a big financial impact on their household budgets. The increased costs were due to global economic factors, supply chain and global shipping issues, the war in Ukraine, labour shortages, and severe weather events. The researchers found the prices of vegetables, particularly lettuce, broccoli and tomato have soared over the past few years.

To view The Canberra Times article Deakin researchers find healthy diets can drain as much as half of rural and remote community incomes in full click here.

Wirrimanu resident Ronald Mosquito says the community has few other options but to pay the prices. Image source: SBS News.

What VTP will mean for First Nations health

Dean Parkin will join the AMA National Conference live from the Garma festival in remote Arnhem Land. The From the Heart Director will speak to doctors about what a voice to parliament (VTP) will mean for Indigenous health and take questions from attendees. Mr Parkin is from the Quandamooka peoples of Minjerribah (North Stradbroke Island) in Queensland and was closely involved in the process that resulted in the historic Uluru Statement From The Heart. The Voice to Parliament was proposed in the From the Heart statement and endorsed by the AMA in 2018.

The Federal Government has committed to a referendum to establish an Indigenous Voice to Parliament in its first term. In his role Mr Parkin continues to advocate for constitutional and structural reform to enable that establishment. He will join the AMA National Conference via video link from the annual celebration of Yolngu culture to discuss what a Voice to Parliament requires and the contribution it can make to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health.

To read the Mirage article From Heart director to address national conference in full click here.

Image source: The Conversation.

VIC regional child and family program launch

Victoria’s peak child and family services body launched a travelling regional program this week, aiming to link like minded organisations within the sector, and share knowledge. The Centre for Excellence in Child and Family Welfare’s Connecting Communities Regional Tour is designed to strengthen their members’ and partners’ grasp on the unique challenges country Victorian families, children and young people experience. It’s also a chance for the Centre to hear from those working in the child and family services sector, to share ideas, start conversations, and strive to problem-solve.

Ballarat was the first stop, with local expert panellists including Child and Family Services Ballarat CEO Wendy Sturgess, Grampians Public Health Unit medical director Rosemary Aldrich, and Ballarat and District Aboriginal Co-operative CEO Karen Heap. “This forum demonstrates a genuine commitment by the Victorian Government to listen to the community about the issues that affect our sector,” Ms Sturgess said. “We would be encouraging anyone who has an interest or works in the child and family services sector to take this opportunity to amplify the voice of regional Victoria directly to the key decision makers at a State level.”

To read the Ballarat Times article Children and families focus for tour in full click here.

Image source: Law Society of NSW Journal Online.

New process for job advertising

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Life tougher under NDIS

Image in feature tile is from Croakey Health Media article NDIS must promote and support community-based programs to meet Indigenous people’s needs,15 March 2017. Photo: John Gilroy.

Life tougher under NDIS

The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) has failed in remote Indigenous communities across northern Australia, the Disability Royal Commission has been told. The market-based model relies on funding for disabled people’s care driving the growth of service provision, NT Public Guardian Beth Walker told the disability inquiry earlier this week.

“The market has not responded and so people’s needs are not being fully met because of the lack of availability of services,” she said at the hearing in Alice Springs on Tuesday. “It is difficult for service providers given remote distances and there is market failure.” Ms Walker said the choice between providers that delivered basic services in remote and very remote communities was marginal or non-existent. Communicating with the scheme was also difficult. “The scheme is very transactional and very bureaucratic and can be very difficult to navigate,” she said.

To view the Roberon Review article NDIS failed in remote areas, inquiry told in full click here.

You can also watch a short ABC video Disability Royal Commission investigating issues face by First Nations people here.

Image source: ABC News.

NACCHO conference early bird rates close tomorrow!

REGISTER NOW for the NACCHO Members’ Conference

Early bird rates closing tomorrow!

Register for the NACCHO Members’ Conference before midnight tomorrow and receive our early bird rate saving you $100 when selecting the 2-day package.

Join us at the Convention Centre in Canberra for:

  • NACCHO Youth Conference: 17 October 2022
  • NACCHO Annual General Meeting: 18 October 2022
  • NACCHO Members’ Conference: 19-20 October 2022

Early bird rates close midnight Friday 15 July 2022. To REGISTER click here.

Aboriginal interpreters a valuable tool

In 2010 the Equal Opportunity Commission released its Indigenous Interpreting Services Is there a need? report which included accounts from health workers who stated the need for Aboriginal interpreters was ‘overwhelming’ with Aboriginal post-surgery patients not aware of the nature of the surgical procedure they had undergone.

The Commission made recommendations in the report based on the NT’s Aboriginal Interpreting Service model and funding and in 2017 what was once the Kimberley Interpreting Service expanded to become Aboriginal Interpreting WA (AIWA). Today it has registered and trained interpreters across the state in over 40 WA Aboriginal languages who work in health, justice, governance, native title, social work, community affairs, business, mining, education and tourism.

But are they being used? CEO of AIWA Deanne Lightfoot said there had been a steady increase around the use of Aboriginal language interpreters as part of the State Government’s obligations under its language services policy. “There has been a steady increase in engagement with our services and certainly Covid spiked awareness of the need accurate interpretation,” she said.

From the Commissioner – The importance of interpreters must not be underestimated in full click here.

Shekiera Mununggur says learning medical terms in Yolngu Matha has been the hardest aspect of her interpreter job. Photo: NT Government. Image source: ABC News.

Telehealth cuts leave regional areas behind

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) has once again urged the federal Government to make Medicare rebates for longer telehealth phone consultations a permanent fixture of the nation’s telehealth scheme so that patients living outside of major cities can get the care they need when they need it.

It comes following reports of a study released by technology company Phillips, which found that 40% of people living in rural and remote areas had internet speeds that were less than 28 kilobits per second. This makes conducting telehealth video consultations challenging, if not impossible, given that the minimum recommended speed for video calls is 600 kilobits per second. In addition, other people are not confident using the technology or find the cost of purchasing a smart phone or laptop prohibitive.

To view the RACGP media release Rural and remote patients left behind by telehealth cuts full click here.

Image source: St John of God Midland Public Hospital telehealth webpage.

Innovative culturally safe patient care project

Princess Alexandra Hospital (PAH) graduate nurse, Tammy Quinn has developed an innovation project titled ‘Providing culturally safe care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients’ which not only stole the show at the 2021 graduate nurse ceremony, but is being introduced into wards across PAH as a tool for patient safety.

Tammy said her inspiration for developing the project was prompted by a desire to make sure her family, and therefore her people, were looked after appropriately and safely. “Research in my own ward of 4E indicated that 50% of staff either weren’t confident or comfortable providing care that they could confirm was culturally safe,” Tammy said.

Tammy’s in-service for the team about the cultural nuances of communicating with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients soon led to the development of a video education package which is hosted online and used as an orientation program for nurses on a growing number of wards across the hospital. “Health literacy within many multicultural groups, and particularly Indigenous people, is low so making sure they understand what they have been told is an essential step.”

To read the Queensland Government Metro South Health article Providing culturally safe care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients in full click here.

Image source: Central Adelaide Local Health Network website.

Rush to suppress WA syphilis outbreak

Health authorities say they have ramped up their work to control a syphilis outbreak that started in northern Australia after reports the infection is creeping towards metropolitan Perth. A bacterial infection spread by sexual contact, syphilis cases were first reported in the Kimberley region in 2014. While case numbers steadily rose around northern Australia in the years following, health services say the focus on COVID-19 messaging and health promotion has overtaken concerns around the infection.

But figures revealing a serious upward trend between 2020 and 2021 and a jump in cases recorded year-to-date have prompted services to renew their health messaging around the infection. As syphilis cases continue to surge in Western Australia contact tracers say they are overwhelmed especially in remote areas with high Indigenous populations.

The Kimberley has already recorded 54 cases so far this year, followed by the Pilbara with 46, and rising numbers have also been recorded in the Goldfields and in the Mid West. Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Service (KAMS) medical director Lorraine Anderson said it was time to renew their focus. “It’s getting worse because we have spent all of our time and energy on COVID-19,” Dr Anderson said.

To read the ABC News article Health authorities push to suppress WA syphilis outbreak as disease heads south in full click here.

A related InSight article Syphilis on the rise: dial up screening and “test it away” available here says between COVID-19, influenza and respiratory syncytial virus, GPs now have to keep a weather eye on their at-risk patients as syphilis numbers continue to rise in vulnerable communities, leading to calls for increased screening in those groups.

According to the National Communicable Disease Surveillance Report for 30 May to 12 June 2022, there is an “ongoing outbreak” occurring in men who have sex with men (MSM), predominantly 20–39 years of age, in urban areas, in women aged 20–39 years (both Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and non-Indigenous) in urban areas, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in northern and central Australia. “This is a very significant rise. Syphilis is a serious infection and we need to take it very seriously,” said Professor Christopher Fairley, Director of the Melbourne Sexual Health Centre and Professor of Public Health at Monash University.

You can also access the Australian Government Department of Health and Aged Care webpage National strategies for bloodborne viruses and sexually transmissible infections here.

Dr Lorraine Anderson says they are getting back on track in terms of testing and treating syphilis. Photo: Erin Parke, ABC Kimberley.

New national anti-racism campaign

A new national anti-racism campaign is calling on Australians who do not have lived experience of racism to reflect on its causes and impacts and do more to address it. The multiplatform ad campaign will build awareness of how racism operates at both a structural and interpersonal level and give people tools to recognise and address it.

It will feature well known ambassadors who appear in a community service announcement where a group of Australians talk about their own experiences of racism and inequality. Race Discrimination Commissioner Chin Tan said the campaign, which modernises the Racism. It Stops With Me initiative that launched in 2012, responds to recent events and will address major challenges to realising racial equity in Australia.

To view the Australian Human Rights Commission media release National Campaign Urges Australians to Reflect and Act on Racism 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 & Torres Strait Islander Health News: National Diabetes Week 10-16 July

The image in the feature tile is of Professor Louise Maple-Brown (with a patient) who was a Chief Investigator leading a qualitative study, supported by Central Australia Academic Health Science Network (CAASHN) with a Medical Research Future Fund grant to better understand the experiences of Aboriginal youth in Central Australia living with type 2 diabetes. Image source: Australian Health Research Alliance, 16 December 2021.

National Diabetes Week 10-16 July

National Diabetes Week 2022 is on from Sunday 10 July to Saturday 16 July. This year’s awareness week will focus on the emotional health and wellbeing of people living with diabetes.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are almost four times more likely than non-Indigenous Australians to have diabetes or pre-diabetes. Improving the lives of people affected by all types of diabetes and those at risk among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities is a priority for Diabetes Australia. You can view the Diabetes Australia webpage specifically for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people here.

You can also access online e-Learning diabetes modules for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health workers and practitioners on the National Diabetes Services Scheme (NDSS) website here.

SWAMS to extend programs and services

The City of Busselton has announced the South West Aboriginal Medical Service (SWAMS), an ACCHO that provides holistic wrap around services to the Indigenous community in the South West, as the new lease holder for a campsite at Locke Estate in Siesta Park. SWAMS have demonstrated experience in setting up new clinical services, drive, passion and professionalism, across the South West region and across their 35,000sq km footprint.

SWAMS has exciting plans for the campsite and proposes to develop a community hub with family units, dorm buildings, common areas, a caretaker’s residence and a fire pit. SWAMS CEO Lesley Nelson said it proposed to use the campsite as a culturally safe place to deliver social, emotional and physical health programs. “We’re excited for what’s to come, intending to offer a diverse range of services, including youth camps, Elders groups, men’s and women’s groups, cultural immersion and health related programs,” she said.

You can read the Busselton-Dunsborough Mail article City of Busselton partner with South West Aboriginal Medical Service with a lease on Locke Estate in full here.

Representatives from SWAMS Board, CEO Lesley Nelson, SWAMS team and community; along with Busselton City Councillor Anne Ryan, Acting CEO Tony Nottle and City Officers. Image source: Busselton-Dunsborough Mail.

Hearing on NDIS in remote communities

A Disability Royal Commission five-day public hearing on the operation of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) in remote communities began yesterday at the Mparntwe (Alice Springs) Convention Centre. The hearing will explore barriers to accessing the NDIS and disability services faced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with disability in remote and very remote communities.

The recent National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey determined that more than one in ten of the 66,000 First Nations people with profound or severe disability live in remote or very remote locations. The hearing will examine to what extent inaccessibility to services cause or contribute to violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation of Indigenous people with disability. During a previous public hearing, Dr Scott Avery gave evidence that disability in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities was twice as prevalent, more complex and “compressed within a shorter life expectancy” compared to other Australians.

Pat Turner, CEO NACCHO and Lead Convener Coalition of Peaks will be speaking at the public hearing this Thursday alongside representatives from the First Peoples Disability Network (FPDN) and other community-controlled organisations on specific barriers they’ve seen getting in people’s way over and over again when they try to get NDIS disability support.

To view the National Indigenous Times article Disability Royal Commission turns spotlight on Indigenous people in remote communities in full click here.

Disability Royal Commission five-day public hearing on the operation of the NDIS in remote communities. Image source: National Indigenous Times.

Minister Burney on First Nations suicide

The Minister for Indigenous Australians, the Hon Linda Burney MP, has described the Labor Government’s suicide prevention approach, saying it would focus on, “self-determination, respect for First Nations knowledge systems, restoration of culture and First Nations leadership of programs and services.”

In her first major speech about suicide as Minister, Ms Burney told a national webinar audience of mental health leaders, convened by the Centre for Best Practice in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention (CBPATSISP), that the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander suicide rate, “hurts me every time I see it. It hurts all of us. These statistics hurt because they represent people in pain, people we know, families who need to put the pieces of their lives back together.” Indigenous adults die by suicide at twice the rate of other Australians, while for children and teenagers the rate is four times as high.

Ms Burney, a Wiradjuri woman who represents the electorate of Barton in southern Sydney, described her own 2017 loss of her son to suicide, saying he was, “in his 30s and a beautiful young man who found this earth a very difficult and cruel place.” She said suicides were connected to the context of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’s lives. “Too many experience poverty, trauma, marginalisation and discrimination,” she said. “We know we must make progress on all these fronts if we want to see the future First Nations people deserve.”

To view Minister Burney’s media release Minister Burney speaks out about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander suicide in full click here.

How dietitians can make a stronger impact

Diet, nutrition, exercise advice and community programs are as important in rural and metropolitan settings as regional and remote areas, and peer support for health professionals can help deliver better results particularly if resources are limited. A new study from Monash University and Flinders University academics has identified what Australian dietitians and nutritionists need to do to make a stronger impact on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health in the communities they serve.

The study of Australian health workers, published in the Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics (Association of UK Dietitians), looks at how a peer mentoring process, or ‘community of practice’, can support dietitians to work more effectively with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. The majority of dietitians in Australia are non-Aboriginal people, with only 32 individuals of more than 7,500 full members and students self-identifying as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander in 2020, according to Dietitians Australia’s annual report.

To view the Flinders University media release Building peer support for dietitians published yesterday in SCIMEX in full click here.

Nicole Turner, one of only five qualified Aboriginal community nutritionists speaking at the Food Governance Conference 2019, University of Sydney. Image source: Twitter.

UQ academic on incarceration of youth

Lorelle Holland describes herself as a disruptor. The proud Mandandanji woman and University of Queensland (UQ) PhD candidate is relatively new to academia but is already making her mark. Last month, prestigious medical journal The Lancet Child and Adolescent Health published a commentary piece written by Mrs Holland and her PhD supervisory team from the UQ school of Public Health on the incarceration rates of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children.

It is a topic Mrs Holland cannot discuss without getting emotional. “It’s a national crisis,” Mrs Holland said. “These vulnerable, marginalised children are in youth detention at a rate 17 times higher than all other ethnicities combined – during a critical period of child development. How people cannot be outraged by this escapes me.”

Her paper called for a community-led response to the issue and for Australian policy to conform to UN guidelines to raise the age of criminal responsibility from 10 years to 14 years.

You can read the University of Queensland UQ News article From nurse to UQ academic: A journey to create change for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in full here.

Lorelle Holland, above right, in the NT with colleague Antonella Martin. Image source: UQ News.

Deadly Vision Centre CTG on eye health

Shaun Tatipata, the founding Director of Australia’s first Aboriginal-owned optical and eye care provider, Deadly Vision Centre, has a strong vision for the future of Indigenous eye health. The goal of the business is to contribute to closing the gap in eye health for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians by providing access to culturally safe and socially responsive eye care.

Mr Tatipata, who is of Wuthathi and Ngarrindjeri descent, has gained extensive experience in delivering primary health care and designing and implementing outreach programs in Indigenous communities. He is passionate about ensuring that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are able to access eye care services that are delivered to them by their community.

You can read the mivison (The Ophthalmic Journal) article Celebrating Founder of Deadly Vision Centre in full here and listen to an Shaun Tatipata in conversation with Karl Briscoe about Indigenous eye health below.

First Nations member sought for AMC

The Australian Medical Council Ltd (AMC) is currently seeking applications for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, who has experience in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health issues, position on Council.

You can view the EOI notice, providing additional information on the selection process here. Further information and the nomination form are available through the AMC website here.

The application deadline is Friday 19 August 2022.

New process for job advertising

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Keep mob safe this winter

Keep mob safe this winter

With winter here, the best way you and your family can stay well and keep doing the things you love is to:

  • Wear a mask when out in crowded spaces
  • Stay home and get tested if you’re not feeling well
  • Get together outside or in well ventilated places
  • Stay up to date with your vaccinations, including COVID-19 and flu

The NSW Government have prepared a range of new Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander winter and flu resources to promote help these messages. Your help in sharing these resources through your channels is appreciated to help protect the community this winter.

Even if you’ve had COVID-19, it is still important to stay up to date with your vaccinations to boost your immunity and protect yourself and others. The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) now recommends waiting 3 months to receive your vaccine after a confirmed COVID-19 infection.

There are antiviral treatments available for people at higher risk of getting really sick from COVID-19, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 35 years and over and those with underlying health conditions. You can access more information about antivirals here.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 50 years and over are also eligible for a winter COVID-19 vaccine (second booster) four months after your first booster dose to help keep your immunity strong. If you get COVID-19 before your winter booster dose, wait three months to receive it.

For more information you can view the NSW Government’s Keep Our Mob Safe COVID-19 Newsletter here and access the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander winter and flu resources, including videos (screenshot of the Keep Our Mob Safe video below), posters, graphics and fact sheets here.

Lowitja Institute CEO reflects on NAIDOC Week

Lowitja Institute CEO, Adjunct Professor Janine Mohamed says that “NAIDOC Week can’t just be a tick box, where people invite us in for one week of the year, listen, take some notes, and then go back to business as usual. We need to celebrate and take pride in our First Nations peoples every day of the week and to examine our role in continuing injustice and inequity.”

“This year’s NAIDOC theme encapsulates this idea, it asks us all to: Get up! Stand up! Show up! My people already have a proud history of getting up, standing up, and showing up. From our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health workers who fight everyday for improved care, our Grannies fighting for our kids in out-of-home care, to our activists who scream for justice and remind us of the toll. Just to name a few.

We have been seeking to make change since the first days of colonisation. As an Elder at the NAIDOC flag-raising event on Naarm reminded us, our peoples have been long told ‘Sit down, and shut up, or be locked up!’ So I see this year’s NAIDOC theme as a call to action to non-Indigenous people, to the broader community and to the institutions and organisations that we work with and within. A call to create environments where racism is actively dealt with and prevented. Where governance at all levels privileges Indigenous leadership – and not just by putting an Indigenous person on a reference group. We need authentic involvement. True allyship. And a clear focus on those three NAIDOC Week calls to action.”

To view the Croakey Health Media article Get up, stand up, show up – and listen up in full click here.

Lowitja Institute CEO Adjunct Professor Janine Mohamed. Image source: Better Futures Australia.

RACGP slams QLD pharmacy pilot extension

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) has slammed Queensland Health’s decision to extend the UTI pharmacy prescribing pilot despite concerns raised by leading health groups, including the RACGP. It follows reports of Queensland Health advising that the controversial pilot, which allows pharmacists to prescribe antibiotics for uncomplicated urinary tract infections or UTIs, will continue while work takes place “determining the future of the scheme”. They also pointed towards a 118-page evaluation report, which has been made public for the first time. Some of the contents of the report were previously reported on by The Australian several months ago.

To view the RACGP media release RACGP slams pharmacy prescribing pilot extension in full click here.

Photo: AAP. Image source: RACGP newsGP.

Improving kidney care for mob

The Adelaide-based Aboriginal Kidney Care Together – Improving Outcomes Now (AKction) project aims to transform Indigenous kidney health and healthcare. It is founded on long-term relationships, a shared determination for systemic change, and recognition of the need for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leadership, autonomy and governance.

Last week, the @AKction2 team took the reins of Croakey’s rotated Twitter account @WePublicHealth and shared knowledge, language and insights into the cultural determinants of health, plus photos from the recent Renal Society of Australasia conference.

To view the Croakey Health Media article Sharing vibrant, productive and creative journeys to improve kidney care for First Peoples in full click here as well as read more about AKction’s work here.

Support for VIC ACCHO frontline workers

The Andrews Labor Government is supporting more Aboriginal organisations across Victoria to provide vital health services in culturally safe ways with a landmark investment in new jobs across the state. Minister for Treaty and First Peoples Gabrielle Williams has announced $25 million is being shared across 26 Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations as part of the second tranche of the Aboriginal Workforce Fund.

The fund was established to support organisations to set their own workforce priorities, with a focus on new jobs, staff wellbeing and building organisations’ capacity to continue delivering vital services to their communities. Recipients include:

  • Aboriginal Community Elders Service, which received $1.6 million to deliver holistic mental health and alcohol and other drug services, and to enhance Elders’ connections with their culture and community
  • Victorian Aboriginal Health Services has also been allocated $1.4 million to strengthen the capacity and capability of its workforce to deliver a range of medical, dental and social services for Victoria’s Aboriginal community
  • Oonah Health and Community Services, which will expand its clinical arm and employ new staff to support the delivery of health, education, community and employment services, and
  • Kirrae Health Service, which will invest in skills training for its Aboriginal workers.

To read the Victorian Government’s media release Supporting Frontline Workers At Aboriginal Services in full click here.

Michael Graham, the CEO of Victoria Aboriginal Health Services, is pictured receiving his COVID-19 vaccination in Melbourne. Photo: Luis Ascui, NCA NewsWire. Image source: news.com.au

Coles raises funds for First Nations health

To raise funds for Indigenous health this NAIDOC week, Coles supermarkets and Express stores in the NT and select regional stores in WA have launched a ‘Purple House’ campaign. Purple House – also known as the Western Desert Nganampa Walytja Palyantjaku Tjutaku Aboriginal Corporation – is a First Nations-owned not-for-profit health service that provides dialysis services to people suffering from chronic kidney disease in 19 remote communities across NT, WA and SA.

Through the campaign, Coles will donate $1 to Purple House for every customer who wears the colour purple during their shopping trip or fuel stop at participating Coles supermarkets and Coles Express sites in WA and the NT until Sunday 10 July. “The money raised will help dialysis patients who are forced far from home for treatment, to get back on country for important cultural business and precious time with family,” said, Sarah Brown, Purple House CEO.

To view the Inside Retail article Coles NT, regional WA stores raise funds for Indigenous health in full click here.

Image4 source: Coles Group.

AMSA call for greater disability representation

The Australian Medical Students Association (AMSA) is calling for medical schools and healthcare systems across the nation to actively support students and professionals with disabilities. Considering almost 20% of Australians have reported to have a disability, the current healthcare systems are lacking the protocols and resources to adequately address the various challenges encountered by medical students and health professionals.

“The bottom line is our current approach is not good enough. We are leaving an important part of the population behind, which is unacceptable. We need to see the appropriate pathways for more students and professionals with disabilities in healthcare. We need more role models,” said Jasmine Davis, President of AMSA.

“Inclusion in medicine is important for so many reasons, including creating a better healthcare system for people with disability by embedding those with lived experience within it,” said Jimmy Jan, a current medical student and Ambassador for Wings for Life.

To view the AMSA media release ‘We need more role models’ – Medical students call for greater disability representation and support in the healthcare world 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 & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Struggle to see way forward on recognition

Struggle to see way forward on recognition

Labor faces fresh challenges as it works towards a referendum on the Indigenous voice to parliament, with Aboriginal leader Pat Turner revealing she is “struggling” to see a way forward on constitutional recognition and Greens Senator Lidia Thorpe saying the nation is not ready for the vote. Ms Turner, who worked with former PM Scott Morrison to redesign the national agreement on Closing the Gap, says Australians will not vote for the Indigenous voice unless they have details.

The Coalition of Peaks chairwoman also told the Australian-Israeli Chamber of Commerce on Friday that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people had unanswered questions. “This is a deeply personal view. I am struggling to see the best way forward on constitutional recognition and responding to the Uluru Statement,” Ms Turner said. “I accept the totality of the Uluru Statement and I am very supportive of a national voice to the parliament, but I need to start to see some detail here. I want some meat on the bones.
“And the proponents of the voice have got to start putting that out because I am not the only – Aboriginal person that is wondering what this is going to look like.”

Ms Turner was a member of the senior advisory group tasked with working on the design of an Indigenous voice for the Morrison government. The group’s work, overseen by prominent Indigenous academics Marcia Langton and Tom Calma, produced a detailed report recommending options for local and regional voices as well as a national voice representing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people from across Australia.

To view The Australian article I’m struggling to see way forward on recognition, Pat Turner says click here.

Pat Turner. Image source: THe Sydney Morning Herald.

Rhythm appointed for new NDIS campaign

Following a competitive national pitch process, Rhythm has been appointed by the NACCHO to design, develop and produce a National NDIS communications campaign. The campaign will target Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities across Australia with culturally secure messaging to improve awareness and uptake of NDIS services. This follows Rhythm’s recent relaunch of its production offering as Rhythm Films, alongside its expansion as a fully fledged creative agency.

Briannan Dean, General Manager of Rhythm, said it’s an exciting and much-needed project. “The NDIS has so much potential to impact and improve people’s quality of life, and to date there hasn’t been a targeted communications campaign that is appropriate for and inclusive of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander audiences. Rhythm is very excited to partner with NACCHO on a national level to drive awareness and better outcomes in this space.”

To view the Campaign Brief article NACCHO appoints Rhythm WA as agency and production partner for new NDIS campaign in full click here.

Rhythm WA team. Image source: Campaign Brief.

Pastors address COVID-19 vax misinformation

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Pastors have linked up to strike down COVID-19 misinformation. The religious leaders have united with health practitioners in our communities in the hope of countering conspiracies about COVID-19 vaccines. Research has told us there are multiple complex reasons for vaccine hesitancy in communities, ranging from misinformation about vaccine safety and efficacy, concerns about side effects and some people’s belief that vaccinating goes against their faith.

To help raise awareness around how COVID-19 vaccinations are the best way to protect your family and communities from COVID-19, NACCHO reached out to Pastors in select communities, who have lent their voices to advocate for the COVID-19 vaccine. Below are links to each of the Pastor videos that will be released through a nationwide campaign by NITV (YouTube link to each video):

  • Pastor Geoff Stokes – Kalgoorlie, WA: here
  • Pastor Willie Dumas – Tweed Heads, NSW: here
  • Pastor George Mann – Bourke, NSW: here
  • Pastor Ray Minniecon – Glebe, NSW: here
  • Uncle Col Watego – Glebe, NSW: here

Catchy iSISTERQUIT video clips launched

Southern Cross University’s iSISTAQUIT project has launched a compilation of catchy video clips in a campaign to raise awareness about the importance of culturally appropriate care in assisting young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander pregnant women to quit smoking. iSISTAQUIT is a blended model of community support and traditional treatment by GPs and other health professionals to help these women stop smoking.

“Through our research we found there are three main things we need to address to really make a difference to the numbers of Aboriginal women who smoke during pregnancy. These are clinician training, better access to oral forms of nicotine replacement therapy and specific health promotion messages to address the challenges Indigenous women face when quitting,” said Coffs Harbour campus-based SCU Professor Gillian Gould, lead investigator and GP.

“Our iSISTAQUIT social media campaign, designed in consultation with community women and with Aboriginal Health Professionals, has a bright, upbeat energy to focus on the positive outlooks and celebrate the successes of the women. It’s important that Aboriginal women feel comfortable with their health professionals to talk about quitting, and it’s vital that a health professional has the appropriate approach to start the chat with minimising barriers. It’s the chat that could save a life.”

To view the News Of The Area article SCU Launches Campaign For ISISTAQUIT Project in full click here.

SAWCAN governance award finalist

The South Australian West Coast ACCHO Network (SAWCAN) has been highly commended for outstanding examples of Aboriginal-led governance on a national level. On 8 June 2022 at the International Convention and Exhibition Centre Sydney, the Indigenous Governance Awards ceremony, hosted by Reconciliation Australia and the BHP Foundation, acknowledged and celebrated outstanding examples of governance in Indigenous led non-incorporated initiatives, projects, or within small to large businesses.

SAWCAN were one of nine Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander-led organisations / initiatives from around the nation who were shortlisted as finalists in the 2022 Indigenous Governance Awards. Whilst SAWCAN didn’t win, they were one of two initiatives who were given high commendations from the judging panel. Romlie Mokak, Indigenous Governance Awards judging panel member and Productivity Commissioner said “the fact that you have been able to, in such a short amount of time, change the way that governments themselves saw their program objectives and you were able to step into that space and not only speak to it but re-negotiate what that looked like for your mob, I think speaks volumes about the strength of your collaboration and the value that others see in it as well, including government.”

To view the SAWCAN media release SAWCAN Highly Commended in Category 1 of the 2022 Indigenous Governance Awards in full click here.

L to R: Karen Mundine, CEO Reconciliation Australia; Janine Mohamed, CEO Lowitja Institute; Donna Murray, CEO Indigenous Allied
Health Australia; Cindy Zbierski, CEO Nunyara Aboriginal Health Service; Zell Dodd, CEO Yadu Health Aboriginal Corporation; Warren
Clements, Public Health Manager Port Lincoln Aboriginal Health Service, Polly Paerata SAWCAN Secretariat, Leeroy Bilney COO Tullawon
Health Service and Romlie Mokak Commissioner with the Productivity Commission.

Flu adds pressure to stretched NT health system

A steep rise in influenza cases across the NTis exacerbating ongoing staff and bed shortages at hospitals, with hundreds hospitalised and patients being flown in from remote communities for treatment. Data from NT Health shows the territory has nearly doubled its recent flu records, with 3,210 cases recorded so far this year — up from 1,878 in 2019. More than 1,000 of those cases have been reported in the past month.

It’s a concerning trend that is dumping more pressure on the NT’s already strained health system, with some units so busy that patients have at times been left waiting in beds in corridors. That’s according to Dr Stephen Gourley, the NT chair of the Australasian College for Emergency Medicine (ACEM). “Unfortunately, you may end up in a bed in a corridor,” Dr Gourley said.  “When the hospital gets very full, we try our best to find people places to be and they’re not always in the most ideal places.”

To view the ABC News article Rising flu cases increasing pressure on chronically stretched NT health system in full click here.

Health workers at Royal Darwin Hospital work hard to keep up with demand. Photo: Che Chorley, ABC News.

Matilda’s goalkeeper supports health workers

Throughout June, Bridging the Gap Foundation (BtGF) has teamed up with Matilda’s goalkeeper, proud Noongar woman, and Canberra local Lydia Williams, aiming to assist the mounting Indigenous healthcare crisis in the NT. Ms Williams is raising funds for The Ramaciotti Regional and Remote Health Sciences Training Centre (Menzies-Ramaciotti Centre) following a severe and systemic shortage of healthcare workers, particularly Indigenous staff, placing the healthcare system under enormous pressure.

This is one of the driving factors for ongoing poor health outcomes and unacceptable health inequities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, says Bridging the Gap. The overcrowded, underfunded, and understaffed hospitals rely on fly-in, fly-out (FIFO) workers due to a lack of investment in career pathways for local people to enter the health workforce. The Foundation revealed the workforce turnover rate is estimated to be around 148%.

“I am proud to work alongside Bridging the Gap Foundation to raise funds for the Menzies-Ramaciotti Centre’s trainees,” says Ms Williams. “I understand the importance of culturally appropriate health programs and I am keen to promote education campaigns that highlight the importance of healthy lifestyles. This campaign kicks these goals for me.”

To view The Canberra Times article Canberra’s Lydia Williams kicks goals with Bridging the Gap Foundation in full click here.

Lydia Williams Arsenal WFC & Matilda’s goalkeeper. Image source: NiniTTi.

New process for job advertising

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: NACCHO Members’ Conference registrations open

Image in feature tile from 2019 NACCHO Members’ Conference.

NACCHO Members’ Conference registrations open

In just over 100 days NACCHO delegates from 144 Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations, guests and presenters from across our sectors will come together to at the NACCHO Members’ Conference in beautiful Canberra to celebrate our successes over the years and discuss all the good work to come.

Please join us:

NACCHO Youth Conference 17 October 2022

NACCHO Extraordinary General Meeting and Annual General Meeting 18 October 2022

NACCHO Member’s Conference 19–20 October 2022

Early bird rates available (2-day conference package only).

For more information and to register click here.

NACCHO looks forward to celebrating with you all in October.

Due to COVID-19 restrictions the NACCHO Members’ Conference was not held in 2020 or 2021. You can watch a video below with highlights from the 2019 conference below.

AHCWA to deliver $17.6m mental health pilot

The Aboriginal Health Council of Western Australia (AHCWA) has been awarded $17.6 million to deliver a mental health pilot to improve the quality of life for Aboriginal people. The regional Social and Emotional Wellbeing (SEWB) Model of Service pilot program aims to increase access to social and emotional wellbeing and healthcare services for Aboriginal people of all ages in the Kimberley, Pilbara, Mid-West, Goldfields and South-West regions of WA.

Local ACCHOs will run the program in their communities:

  • Bega Garnbirringu Health Service in Kalgoorlie;
  • Derby Aboriginal Health Service in Derby;
  • Wirraka Maya Health Service Aboriginal Corporation in South Hedland;
  • Geraldton Regional Aboriginal Medical Service in Geraldton; and
  • South West Aboriginal Medical Service in Bunbury.

Through culturally secure prevention and community development, psychosocial support, targeted interventions and coordinated care by multidisciplinary teams, the pilot is expected to improve quality of life for Aboriginal people. The Mental Health Commission will work with AHCWA to support the governance and evaluation of the pilot.

To view the Government of WA Media Statement Mental health pilot to boost Aboriginal social and emotional wellbeing in full click here.

Image sources: Wikivoyage, Queensland Government IMHIP webpage.

$1.25m NDIS grants to ACCHOs

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.

NACCHO CEO Pat Turner AM welcomed the funding, “These grants will enable the ACCHO sector to expand into the NDIS, to provide additional essential supports for people with disability.” CEO of Danila Dilba Health Service in Darwin, Rob McPhee, said: “Danila Dilba is committed to helping our Mob with disabilities live the life they want. The IBSF grant will help us further the work we do in supporting our communities in accessing NDIS services. Demand for support and services is much higher than what we can provide alone – but the IBSF grant can assist in strengthening our internal business planning and development and organisational readiness for addressing the unmet need of many in our community with a disability.”

To view The National Tribune article $1.25 million to support community-controlled sector to deliver NDIS services for their communities in full click here.

Kelvina Benny, WA. Image source: NDIS website.

Staying physically and mentally healthy

The Australian Government Department of Health as produced two resources designed for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with tips on staying physically and mentally healthy. You can download the resources below:

Stay Physically Healthy – Let’s put looking after our physical health on our to do lists in 2022

Stay Mentally Healthy – Let’s put looking after our social and emotional wellbeing on our to do lists in 2022

You can also access the relevant Australian Government Department of Health webpages here and here.

Images from the Department of Health Stay Mentally Healthy and Stay Physically Healthy resources.

Lack of housing bites harder in winter

Djiringanj man Uncle Lewis Campbell has been homeless for seven years, and has been on the list for social housing just as long. In the last two years, his health has deteriorated rapidly and he has suffered multiple bouts of pneumonia due to repeated exposure to the cold. Uncle Lewis has been supported by services in the area to access temporary accommodation through motels, but said he can only access those services for four nights per week. Other nights he stays with friends in the community.

But beds with friends are becoming few and far between.

In early June Uncle Lewis was staying in a spare room with Aunty Kath Jones in her flat in Bega. Ms Jones said she had never seen the housing situation as bad as it had been in her community over the last two years due to multiple natural disasters and the pandemic. “He’s not the only one, I’ve got another homeless girl at the moment, so since she’s been there Uncle Lewis has been staying at the motel to let her have the room because she’s a woman,” Ms Jones said.

The above story is from a Bega District News article Lack of housing and refuges bites even harder in winter with health issues exacerbated for South Coast homeless.

Uncle Lewis Campbell from Bega has been homeless for seven years. His health has suffered immensely as a result, with several bouts of pneumonia in the last few years. He is pleading for more refuges for women and men on the Far South Coast. Photo: Ellouise Bailey. Image source: Bega District News.

LGBTQ+ mob shouting to be heard

For individuals who identify within multiple marginalised groups, their opinions and concerns in a climate of change can often go without consideration. In Pride Month (June) members of the First Nations LGBTQ+ community and leading organisations are shouting for their voice to be heard while creating an environment of support for those left out of the discussions effecting them. Indigenous LGBTQ+ advocacy group BlaQ Aboriginal Corporation founding director and chairman John Leha said recent policies ostracising trans people took an increased toll on First Nations people within the community.

Mr Leha described the recent religious discrimination bill and ban of trans women competing in elite swimming, international rugby league and policy reviews in other sports as a targeted onslaught. “I think the onslaught of this type of anti trans movement or people not having a true understanding of what it looks like and means for the community is the is what is of concern,” Mr Leha said. “Aboriginal trans people are one of the most highest populations that are faced with mental health, suicide rates across the country, and particularly young people.

To view The National Tribune article Indigenous LGBTQ+ support body stands up for community caught up in public debate in full click here.

Black Rainbow LGBTIQA+SB 2021 poster. Image source: Black Rainbow website.

Neoliberalism’s impact on oral health

A study examining the detrimental effect of neoliberalism on the oral health of Australian indigenous peoples was presented by Brianna Poirer of the University of Adelaide, Australia during the “Keynote Address; Global Oral Health Inequalities Research Network” session yesterday the 100th General Session and Exhibition of the International Association for Dental Research.

In Australia, Indigenous peoples experience poorer oral health than their non-Indigenous counterparts across nearly every oral health metric. Recently, neoliberalism has been suggested as an overwhelming contributor to Indigenous oral health disparities. The objective of this qualitative research was to generate an understanding of how neoliberal subjectivity exists for Indigenous peoples in the context of oral health in Australia. The authors argue that personal responsibility for health, as a tenet of neoliberal ideologies, furthers Indigenous oral health inequities and that neoliberalism as a societal discourse perpetuates colonial values by benefitting the privileged and further oppressing the disadvantaged.

To view the News Medical Life Sciences article Study examines the impact of neoliberalism on oral health of Australian indigenous peoples in full click here.

Kyleesha Boah receives a dental check-up at Mackay Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community Health Services. Image source: NIAA website.

Take Home Naloxone Program update

This year’s Federal Budget included $19.6 million (over 4 years) for a Take Home Naloxone Program (THN) in all Australian states and territories which will commence on 1 July 2022. The THN program aims to provide people who may be at risk of an opioid overdose, or are likely to witness an overdose, access to free naloxone without a prescription from participating settings. Naloxone will be available at no cost and without a prescription to anyone who may experience, or witness, an opioid overdose or adverse reaction.

From 1 July 2022, Section 90 (s90) community pharmacies and Section 94 (s94) hospital pharmacies in all States and Territories will be able to register via the Pharmacy Programs Administrator (PPA) Portal at here to participate in the THN Program. In addition, naloxone will continue to be available at a range of other sites in NSW, SA and WA, including alcohol and other drug treatment centres, custodial release programs and needle and syringe programs. The Department will be working with jurisdictions that did not participate in the Pilot program in the coming months to support access through these non-pharmacy settings.

We do know that awareness around naloxone and its use can be improved. The roll-out of the THN Program at a national level provides an opportunity to start conversations to improve awareness of naloxone and support individuals to identify their personal risk, and where appropriate, access naloxone. The Department’s website will be updated on 1 July 2022 to include further information and resources around naloxone and the THN program. The THN Administrator’s website will also be updated from 1 July 2022 to reflect the new Program Rules and other resources to support the national program.

Your support in promoting the program through your networks is greatly appreciated as we work together to improve the lives of Australians who may overdose on opioids. Providing access to naloxone for free and without prescription will continue to remove barriers to access this important medicine and save lives.

Photo: Bridget Judd, ABC News.

New process for job advertising

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

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