NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Pharmacist Scholarship recipient Bryony Forrest

The image in the feature tile is of NACCHO Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Pharmacist Scholarship recipient Bryony Forrest during an interview at the 2022 NACCHO Members’ Conference in Canberra.

Pharmacist Scholarship recipient Bryony Forrest

Bryony Forrest (Darumbal / Kanolu), an aspiring deadly pharmacist and a recipient of the NACCHO Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Pharmacist Scholarship was interviewed at the recent NACCHO Members’ Conference following the Medicines and Pharmacy stream session.

In February 2022, NACCHO announced applications were open for the inaugural NACCHO Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Pharmacist Scholarship, proudly supported by a grant from Sanofi Australia. The scholarship provides subsidy and support for prospective or current Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander pharmacy students and aims to build the pharmacist workforce among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. It includes tailored mentoring from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health leaders.

In April 2022 NACCHO was pleased to announce the five successful recipients. Though the scholarship was initially established to support two applicants, the quality and number of applicants led to the expansion of the program:

  • Bryony Forrest, Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT)
  • Jai-ann Eastaughffe, James Cook University
  • James Sowter, RMIT
  • Jason Coleman, University of SA
  • Louis Emery, Queensland University of Technology (QUT)

Dr Dawn Casey, NACCHO Deputy CEO said, ‘NACCHO was impressed with the calibre and volume of applicants we received, especially in this first year of the scholarship’s implementation. We are proud to provide opportunities that help build leadership and skills amongst Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health professionals, who are significantly underrepresented in the pharmacy profession.’

Karen Hood, Sanofi’s Country Lead said, ‘As members of Australia’s healthcare community we know how important it is to listen to, and work in partnership with, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities to improve health outcomes and support meaningful steps toward a more fair, equal and just society. ‘Recognising the crucial role pharmacists play in our health system and the clear need for greater Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander participation in this field of study, we are delighted to be supporting the inaugural NACCHO scholarship as another step toward improving health and economic participation as determined by Australia’s First Peoples.’

Bryony Forrest said ‘I have always had a passion for pharmacy from when I started as a pharmacy assistant in 2018, which only deepened as time went on and I gained more experience in this field. Connecting with my community is extremely important to me and forming these meaningful connections with individuals in the context of health showed me how powerful being a pharmacist is, and what a unique opportunity it holds for health interventions and long-term health solutions in improving the lives of others. I look forward to practising as a pharmacist and making a difference for other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.’

You can find further information about the NACCHO Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Pharmacist Scholarship on the NACCHO website here and listen to Bryony Forrest’s interview below.

Winnunga Health and Wellbeing Service at AMC

Winnunga has been operating the standalone Winnunga Health and Wellbeing Service in the AMC (Alexander Maconochie Centre, ACT adult prison) since January 2019, within its own model of care. This is an Australian first and one Winnunga believes will prove to be one of the most significant advances in the care and rehabilitation of Aboriginal detainees. Development of this service required meeting the RACGP Standards for health services in Australian prisons with infrastructure, staffing, equipment and policies. The service provides high quality holistic care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in prison and continuity upon a client’s release from prison.

A client satisfaction survey of the Winnunga prison health and wellbeing service was published in the Journal of the Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet in February 2022. Participant responses indicated a high quality of care across all five aspects of
care that were evaluated (participation in care; care design; care planning and self management; care coordination; follow up and respectful care). At least three-quarters of respondents indicated that they had received the specified aspects of care ‘Most of the time’ or ‘Always’. The provision of respectful care was rated particularly high, with all respondents indicating that they always had things explained in a way they could understand, had their concerns listened to, and felt that they and their beliefs were respected by Winnunga staff. Clients were also highly satisfied with the care provided to them and their families through Winnunga.

The most common suggestions for improvement in the client survey related to Winnunga not yet having an opioid replacement pharmacotherapy program so some clients could not be transferred to Winnunga care. This has now been addressed and more detainees have access to the Winnunga prison health and wellbeing service

The above information about the AMC Health and Wellbeing Service Survey was published the Winnunga News November 2022 edition here. You can read the Evaluating Patient Experience at a Novel Health Service for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Prisoners: A Pilot Study article here.

Winnunga Health Clinic at Alexander Maconochie Centre. Image source: The Canberra Times.

HIV and sexual health webinar this WEDNESDAY

The Australasian Society for HIV, Viral Hepatitis and Sexual Health Medicine (ASHM), the Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations (AFAO) and NACCHO are partnering to deliver a webinar during Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander HIV Awareness Week 2022, to discuss available HIV resources and support that we can offer to the sexual health sector. The purpose of the HIV Toolkit Webinar is to provide ACCHOs and the HIV and Sexual Health Sector with culturally appropriate, evidence informed, and effective training for workers to build the capacity and confidence to support and educate their Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander clients around HIV and sexual health.

The webinar also aims to increase the uptake and utilisation of AFAO’s recently published ‘Healthcare Workforce Toolkit: HIV and Sexual Health for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people tool kit as an ongoing resource with comprehensive information, including to help improve rates of HIV and sexual health testing, and to increase the awareness and uptake of HIV treatment, and prevention tools including condoms, PrEP (Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis) and PEP (Post-Exposure Prophylaxis).

The webinar is from 12:00 pm to 1:00 pm (AEST) Wednesday 7 November 2022. To REGISTER click here.

ACCO literacy campaign linked to crime reduction

Researchers from Literacy for Life Foundation, the Lowitja Institute and the University of NSW have authored a report about the beneficial impacts of a First Nations community-controlled adult literacy campaign. The most significant quantitative finding was a 50% reduction in reported serious offences in a sample of 162 campaign participants. Qualitative data from interviews found an increased use of legal assistance services following the campaign. These findings are contextualised through the lived experiences and perceptions of First Nations campaign staff and participants, community leaders and government and non-government agency personnel.

This study demonstrates the potential benefits of an adult literacy campaign in reducing the incidence of negative justice system outcomes in rural and remote NSW Indigenous communities with low levels of English literacy. By drawing on linked administrative data to corroborate self-reported and observer reported data, this study has shown that participation in a community-controlled Aboriginal adult literacy campaign correlates with reductions in the average number of total offences, especially those related to traffic and justice procedures.

Of particular note, serious offences were halved in our study group, especially in women and in relation to assault. The analysis of qualitative data indicates that improved literacy may lead to greater degrees of self-control, among other positive impacts. If efforts to reduce the overrepresentation of Indigenous adults in the criminal justice system are to be successful, further research into and resourcing of adult literacy interventions is urgently required. Such research can assist in moving beyond simplistic law-and-order agendas by acknowledging that ‘building of positive futures for communities relies on building a foundation of well addressed non-criminal needs’.

You can read the International Journal for Crime, Justice and Social Democracy article Impact of a Community-Controlled Adult Literacy Campaign on Crime and Justice Outcomes in Remote Australian Aboriginal Communities in full here.

Image source: Literacy for Life Foundation website.

What’s next for our kids? asks Chris Bin Kali

Deputy Chairperson, Aboriginal Health Council of WA (AHCWA) Chris Bin Kali has written an opinion piece published in the National Indigenous Times last Friday about Premier Mark McGowan announcement of a $63m plan to address conditions for youth in detention. Bin Kali said while it is clear that additional funding is desperately needed, so is clarity around what is next for our young people in detention.

Bin Kali said a single funding announcement is not enough to make lasting change, ‘We know that in Australia, Aboriginal youth are disproportionately represented in youth detention. A large majority of the youth detainees currently at Banksia Hill are Aboriginal.  Under the National Agreement on Closing the Gap, the WA Government has committed to partnerships and shared decision-making with Aboriginal people about issues impacting our lives, and to improving the accountability and responsiveness of government to the needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.”

“To honour these commitments, the WA Government must listen to Aboriginal people and partner with us to find solutions to these issues. We know that these problems are complex and will require long-term changes across a range of areas. We know how troubled some of our young people are and the healing they need. We don’t pretend these things can be fixed overnight. But we are certain that they won’t be fixed without prioritising Aboriginal voices.”

To view the NIT article What next for our kids, Premier? in full click here.

Chris Bin Kali. Photo supplies by AHCWA. Image source: National Indigenous Times.

NDIS Ready videos and social media tiles

At the end of 2021 NACCHO delivered over $1.25m 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.

Some of the funding has been used by NACCHO affiliates to produce the following videos:

AHCWA

AH&MRC

AHCSA (no videos)

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.

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: U and Me Can Stop HIV video launch

The image in the feature tile is of the U and Me Can Stop HIV banner painted by VACCHO staff for the VACCHO reception area. Image supplied by VACCHO.

U and Me Can Stop HIV video launch

On World AIDS Day yesterday VACCHO launched a video U and Me Can Stop HIV video. This video was a result of a collaboration by VACCHO with Victorian Aboriginal Health Service and Thorn Habour Health. Over a period of two days VACCHO made 1,000 awareness red ribbons for World AIDS Day. VACCHO said the ribbon making was a great way to engage people and have a low key yarn about HIV.

Warra could change face of Indigenous leadership

Research tells us that the more diverse management and leadership teams are, the better organisations function. Diversity leads to richer ideas, a more inclusive work culture and better business decisions and outcomes. In fact, McKinsey & Company, a global management consulting firm, found in 2020 that the relationship between diversity on executive teams and the likelihood of financial outperformance had strengthened over time.

Despite this, many organisations continue to fall behind the eight ball on diversity, with the statistics especially dismal for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, who remain vastly underrepresented – or completely excluded – from leadership in the Australian workforce. According to the Minderoo Foundation’s Indigenous Employment Index, Indigenous employees are almost entirely absent from senior management and executive leadership positions. Among the 31 employers who reported the relevant data, Indigenous representation at senior leadership levels was just 0.7%.

It’s a reality that Kamilaroi woman, Carlyn Waters is all too familiar with. Over the past 20 years, Waters has held senior positions in various government roles, often finding herself as one of very few Indigenous people at the same level. Now, Waters is calling time by, spearheading a new sponsorship program called Warra, the first program delivered by Cultivate Indigenous – a majority First Nations owned and operated business. The program seeks to inspire and develop talent at all levels by embedding a culture of sponsorship, and delivering tailored development opportunities to grow, retain and advance Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders.

To read the Women’s Agenda article ‘That kind of support can be transformative’: A new, curated sponsorship program could change the face of Indigenous leadership in full click here.

Carlyn Waters. Image source: Women’s Agenda.

Questions must be answered on pharmacy trials

According to a media release from the Australian Medical Association (AMA) state governments have a responsibility to answer questions about why they are determined to move Australians to a second-class health system and put patient safety at risk through pharmacy prescribing trials. AMA President Professor Stephen Robson launched a video today posing six questions to state governments about pharmacy prescribing trials and the decisions that led to their implementation.

Professor Robson said these trials presented a clear risk to patient safety; ignored ethical concerns regarding separating prescribing and dispensing of medicines and could lead to an increase in anti-microbial resistance and the emergence of more superbugs. “Responding to GP shortages with second-class policy solutions that trample over the advice of independent bodies like the Pharmacy Board of Australia and the Therapeutic Goods Administration and bypass established national processes that exist to protect patient safety isn’t the answer.

“GPs train for 12–15 years to have the expertise to diagnose conditions that are being covered in some of these trials. You can’t replace that training and experience with a few hours of weekly online training without putting patients at risk. GPs are highly skilled and equipped to diagnose the difference between a UTI and other serious and potentially deadly health conditions. They are equipped to take a full medical history of their patients and understand the full range of contraceptive options available to women. A second-tier health system that moves the costs of health services from the government to the patient (except for Victoria which is proposing to cover some of the costs) isn’t the solution.”

To view the AMA media release Questions must be answered on pharmacy prescribing trials in full click here.

Image source: RACGP newsGP.

Exhibition showcases art’s healing power

The healing power of art is reflected in an exhibition of First Nations ceramic works originating from a new collaboration, which co-mingles visual art education and well-being activities for Purple House dialysis patients in Alice Springs. Charles Darwin University (CDU) Academy of Arts has partnered with Indigenous-owned and operated health service Purple House, to present the exhibition that blends and celebrates the cultural diversity of Aboriginal communities in central Australia.

The exhibition’s title, Pana, Tjulpirpa, Pilki combines the words for clay in three different desert languages spoken by the ceramic artists who hail from the region’s Pintupi-Luritja, Pitjantjatjara and Kukaja communities. It showcases the creative talent of First Nations women who are Purple House patients receiving dialysis treatment, while studying visual arts at CDU’s Alice Springs campus.

Purple House is a non-profit health organisation, based in Alice Springs, that aims to improve the lives of First Nations people with renal failure, support families and reduce the impacts of kidney disease in communities. Purple House CEO Sarah Brown said that art has always been integral to Purple House and the lives of its patients. “Art helps keep culture strong in communities, and it’s a powerful way to share knowledge and stories, and an important source of income,” Ms Brown said. “Our patients get so much out of their ceramics classes at CDU each week and this is a fabulous opportunity for them to exhibit their artwork.”

To view the Charles Darwin University Australia News article Exhibition showcases art’s healing power in Alice Springs in full click here.

An exhibition in Alice Springs showcases the ceramic artworks of First Nations women who are receiving dialysis treatment at Purple House, while studying Visual Arts at CDU. Image source: CDU website.

Improving transplantation access for mob

More than 30 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander kidney patients and their carers will travel from across Australia to attend a two-day meeting in Adelaide next week. The meeting aims to improve access to and outcomes from transplantation for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, according to a statement from The National Indigenous Kidney Transplantation Taskforce (NIKTT), a multidisciplinary national network of clinical, patient, and community advocates.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander kidney transplant recipients, dialysis patients, and their carers and family from the Kimberley, the Torres Strait, central Australia, far north Queensland, regional NSW and Victoria, and the Top End will travel to Adelaide to work together with clinicians, researchers, and policy makers to determine priorities and next steps for the NIKTT.

Organisers say the meeting has been designed by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander kidney patients, non-Indigenous advocates, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander researchers to be “a safe, shared, brave space that will allow us to co-design the future of transplantation equity together”.

To view the Croakey Health Media article As new report launches, historic meeting of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander kidney patients and carers to co-design transplantation equity in full click here.

Theatre staff prepare surgical equipment for a kidney transplant operation. Photo: Frances Roberts, Alamy. 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.

International Day of People with Disability

International Day of People with Disability (IDPwD) is held on 3 December each year. IDPwD is a United Nations observed day aimed at increasing public awareness, understanding and acceptance of people with disability. The Australian Government has been supporting IDPwD since 1996 and provides funds to promote and raise awareness of the day and support activities around Australia. This includes encouraging individuals, schools, community groups, businesses and organisations to get involved and hold events on, or around, 3 December.

The IDPwD program aligns with key action areas under Australia’s Disability Strategy 2021–31. This includes improving community awareness by recognising the positive contribution people with disability make to society, and building confidence in the community to work and engage with people with disability.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people experience disability at up to twice the rate of non-Indigenous Australians and while many receive support for their disability, historically Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have been up to four times less likely to receive a funded disability service. For more information about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with disability, including statistics from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare click here.

You can find more information about IDPwD here.

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Indigenous perspectives of planetary health

The image in the feature tile is artwork by Yaegl artist Frances Belle Parker, who explained the symbolism of her artwork: the gum leaf shape, when upright, can also represent a flame. Inside the leaf is an aerial mapping of the Clarence River, the river is one that connects all people of the Clarence Valley. The dots represent people and the stripes represent the resilience embedded into us as people. The yellow dashes represent the bushfires which have caused havoc in the region, the green represents the replenishing and the new growth of nature. Image source: Monash University article Indigenous knowledge at the heart of planetary health published on the Monash Sustainable Development Institute webpage on 1 July 2022.

Indigenous perspectives of planetary health

The 2022 United Nations Climate Change Conference, more commonly referred to as Conference of the Parties of the UNFCCC, or COP27, is being held from 6–18 November 2022 as the 27th United Nations (UN) Climate Change conference. This year marks the 30th anniversary of the adoption of the UNs Framework Convention on Climate Change. In the thirty years since, the world has come a long way in the fight against climate change and its negative impacts on our planet; we are now able to better understand the science behind climate change, better assess its impacts, and better develop tools to address its causes and consequences.

Indigenous Peoples have resiliently weathered continued assaults on their sovereignty and rights throughout colonialism and its continuing effects. Indigenous Peoples’ sovereignty has been strained by the increasing effects of global environmental change within their territories, including climate change and pollution, and by threats and impositions against their land and water rights.

This continuing strain against sovereignty has prompted a call to action to conceptualise the determinants of planetary health from a perspective that embodies Indigenous-specific methods of knowledge gathering from around the globe. A group of Indigenous scholars, practitioners, land and water defenders, respected Elders, and knowledge-holders came together to define the determinants of planetary health from an Indigenous perspective. Three overarching levels of interconnected determinants, in addition to ten individual-level determinants, were identified as being integral to the health and sustainability of the planet, Mother Earth.

To view The Lancet article The determinants of planetary health: an Indigenous consensus perspective in full click here.

Photo: Nicolas Rakotopare. Image source: Threatened Species Recovery Hub website.

SWAMSmob digital health platform wins award

SWAMSmob app, a digital health platform designed specifically for the South West Aboriginal Medical Service (SWAMS) and their patients is the annual Curtinnovation Awards Faculty of Health Sciences winner. The app enables SWAMS patients to access telehealth and health promotion information 24-hours a day. It provides another way for SWAMS to engage and connect with the Aboriginal residents and promote wellbeing, by enabling GPs and Aboriginal healthcare workers to provide individual or group health consultations.

The app is novel in that it has been programmed for Aboriginal identity and cultural practices as well as health features. For example, the app accommodates ‘men only’ and ‘women only’ spaces. Importantly, the app will also help to increase digital literacy and technology education among Aboriginal users. Overall, the technology helps SWAMS to transform be more prepared for health challenges and to help Close the Gap.

To view the Curtin University article Alzheimer’s discovery crowned overall Curtinnovation winner in full click here.

Ieramaguadu woman uses FASD diagnosis to help mob

For 43-year-old Ieramagadu (Roebourne) woman Rachel Sampson, her diagnosis of foetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) opened the door to work and putting smiles on the faces of mob in the Pilbara. After accessing the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) via Mawarnkarra Health Service, Ms Sampson took on the role of an NDIS community connector.

FASD can cause a range of complications to those exposed to alcohol in the womb. For Ms Sampson, difficulties concentrating and being easily distracted have been a factor in life. Now difficulties once endured to find work have shifted to a new confidence in her knack for brightening others’ days, travelling around Ieramagadu, Wickham and Karratha to assist people living with disabilities with their everyday needs and tasks. “I feel very proud of it,” Ms Sampson said. “I really feel that I’ve found my purpose to help others. It was nerve-wracking when I first started, but with love and support, with these guys I found my confidence.

To view the National Indigenous Times article The Roebourne foetal alcohol disorder sufferer turning disability into opportunity for local mob in full click here.

Ieramagadu (Roebourne) woman Rachel Sampson. Image supplied by: Regen Strategic. Image source: National Indigenous Times.

Non-Indigenous world views still inform health research

While Indigenous health research is often following guidelines aimed at ensuring Indigenous participation and governance, much of the research is still largely based on non-Indigenous world views, according to Australian researchers. Researchers conducted a survey of about 250 people involved in Indigenous research,to find out how frequently the National Health and Medical Research Council’s (NHMRC) ethics guidelines for Indigenous health and medical research were being followed. They say while the non-compulsory guidelines were seeing widespread use, Indigenous health research is still largely informed by non-Indigenous world views, led by non-Indigenous people, and undertaken in non-Indigenous organisations.

According to the researchers the fundamental question raised by the survey was “how can Indigenous health research benefit Indigenous people without meaningful oversight and participation by Indigenous people?” The survey findings suggest that barriers to translating the NHMRC guidelines into research practice remain,” they wrote. “These include inadequate levels of education about applying the guidelines, the history of Indigenous health research in Australia, and Indigenous governance and data sovereignty. Most importantly, we found that Indigenous governance and participation was inadequate at each stage of research. Re-orientation and investment are needed to give control of the framing, design, and conduct of Indigenous health research to Indigenous people.”

To view the Medical Journal of Australia media release Indigenous Health Research: governance by Indigenous organisations vital in full click here.

Aboriginal doctor and researcher Professor Alex Brown is leading a five-year $5m project to advance the benefits from Genomic Medicine for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Image source: John Curtin School of Medical Research, ANU.

Kimberley urgently needs youth suicide action

A suicide in Fitzroy Crossing has sparked renewed calls for urgent action to address mental health needs among young people in the Kimberley. The recent death came two weeks after an attempted suicide by another young person. Local businessman Patrick Green said the blackout occurred after a young boy who had repeatedly sought medical attention attempted to take his own life.

WA Mental Health Commission’s operations acting deputy commissioner Ann Marie Cunniffe said Fitzroy Crossing Hospital provided 24/7 access to mental health support through drug and alcohol teams, psychiatrists and telehealth services. “Nurses and doctors at Fitzroy Crossing Hospital also work with Aboriginal liaison officers to provide cultural support and ensure care is culturally appropriate,” she said. Ms Cunniffe said the Kimberley Aboriginal Youth Wellbeing Steering Committee has been established to support Aboriginal community-led solutions to improve Aboriginal youth wellbeing.

The Committee facilitates implementation of the 86 recommendations identified in the State Coroner’s 2019 Inquest, among other measures. Ms Cunniffe said Aboriginal-led solutions and cultural understanding and respect were guiding principles of the approach. “The Commission funds regional Community Liaison Officers across the State, including the Kimberley,” she said. “These positions are employed by ACCHOs as they have the strongest understanding of their region, knowledge of appropriate cultural considerations and local issues.”

To view the National Indigenous Times article Youth suicide sparks renewed call for urgent action in the Kimberley in full click here.

Patrick Green, Photo: Giovanni Torre. Image source: National Indigenous Times.

Chlamydia prevention and management

14 years on from a call for innovative chlamydia screening programs to reduce the high rates of notifications in Australia at the time, chlamydia remains as the country’s most notified bacterial sexually transmissible infection (STI). Most new chlamydia infections are occurring among young people aged 15–29 years. An important exception is that notification rates appear to be falling in women under 25 years old, for whom chlamydia testing rates have plateaued and positivity among those tested is declining.

In addition to people with female reproductive organs and young people aged 15–29 years, chlamydia is also disproportionately high among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, people living in remote and very remote areas, those with greater socio‐economic disadvantage, and among gay and bisexual men. People who are pregnant are also a priority population, where chlamydia infection is associated with miscarriage, stillbirth, preterm birth, low birth weight, and postpartum infections in the mother and/or newborn. Once treated, an individual may become reinfected, contributing to further potential transmission and increasing the risk of morbidity in the form of pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), ectopic pregnancies, infertility, and chronic pelvic pain. Chlamydia remains a significant public health issue in Australia, with the search for novel prevention and management strategies ongoing.

To reduce the burden of disease from chlamydia in Australia, comprehensive follow‐up of cases and contacts to reduce the risk of complications is required. When chlamydia is detected, retesting at 3 months for reinfection and performing thorough partner tracing and management can help interrupt transmission and reduce the risk of reinfection and reproductive complications. Further studies investigating the timing of testing and treatment of chlamydia infections on the progression to reproductive complications will help guide public health strategies to further reduce the burden of chlamydia in Australia.

To view the Medical Journal of Australia article Chlamydia prevention and management in Australia: reducing the burden of disease in full click here.

Chlamydia bacteria. Image source: Medicine Plus website.

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.

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Management of COVID-19 in community

The image in the feature tile is from ABC News article Indigenous communities won’t be safe from COVID until we act on the lessons learnt in Wilcannia, 28 November 2021. Photo: Micahel Franchi.

Management of COVID-19 in community

A research article published in The Medical Journal of Australia (MJA) says we need to learn from Australia’s response to the pandemic and break down siloes, so we can build a more integrated and resilient health system. While the Australian health care system is well regarded on the global stage in terms of the balance between investment in health care and outcomes delivered, there is considerable fragmentation and poor coordination of care and communication between hospitals and primary care, which limits further improvement. Geographical barriers, workforce shortages and issues relating to acceptability of services limit health care access for residents of rural, regional and remote communities, Aboriginal peoples and Torres Strait Islanders, and together with an inadequate focus on prevention, limit progress towards health equity.

The article says strong advocacy from NACCHO and GPs in outbreak areas (including the Primary and Chronic Care Panel of the National COVID‐19 Clinical Evidence Taskforce) did consider the issues inherent in managing COVID‐19 in remote communities with overcrowded housing, but resource constraints limited execution of solutions. Early central planning and discussion also rarely involved primary care providers — from private, public or Aboriginal community controlled health sectors — and highlighted a lack of regional health care planning structures. The authors claim there is a particular need for purposeful rebuilding of remote PHC, emphasising the primacy of the Aboriginal clinical workforce, demonstrated as essential for overcoming vaccine hesitancy and enabling timely vaccine rollout.

To view The Medical Journal of Australia article Management of COVID‐19 in the community and the role of primary care: how the pandemic has shone light on a fragmented health system in full click here.

NACCHO developed COVID-19 resource. Image source: Croakey Health Media .

Racism is a public health issue

The Yokayi Footy panel has weighted in on the “horrifying chapter” of racism accusations embroiling Hawthorn football club and AFL coaches Alastair Clarkson and Chris Fagan Program host Megan Waters made a heartfelt plea and said as mob the news makes her feel “sick to the gut” before emotions got the best of former players Andrew Krakouer, Gillbert McAdam and Darryl White.

Hawthorn football staff, including Clarkson and Fagan, are alleged to have targeted three unnamed First Nations players during their time at the club, pressuring them into severing relationships with partners and families to better focus on their careers. “The story of racism is still very much alive in this country,” Ms Waters said.

Krakouer said similar stories of racism seem to come up every week, highlighting the need for stronger processes to better address the issue, cut suicide rates and social determinate factors felt by Indigenous people as a result of its ongoing impacts. “Racism is a public health issue,” he said. “It affects our health, life and our safety so we need to get serious about racism because what has been done previously, it’s not good enough.”

To view the National Indigenous Times article ‘Racism is a public health issue’: Indigenous footy personalities speak out on Hawthorn probe in full click here.

Andrew Krakouver. Photo: AFL.com.au. Image source: National Indigenous Times.

Abolition of cashless debit card

The Albanese Labor Government is delivering a long-term plan to ensure certainty, choice and support to communities moving off the cashless debit card program. Following extensive consultation in sites across the nation, the Government has today announced a suite of measures that empowers local communities and will assist in abolishing the cashless debit card program and ensure communities are better off.

This will deliver on our election commitment to end a failed program. The Government will abolish the cashless debit card program and make income management voluntary in Ceduna, East Kimberley, Goldfields and Bundaberg-Hervey Bay. Under the plan, the Cape York region will retain all of its powers of self-determination and referral for community members to go onto income management under the Family Responsibilities Commission.

To view the joint media release Empowering communities with the abolition of the cashless debit card program in full click here.

Photo: Natalie Whitling, ABC News.

WA study to address low vax rate

Pregnant, expectant and breastfeeding First Nations mums will be the focus of new research that seeks to increase COVID-19 vaccination rates among Aboriginal women across WA. The project will be led by Dr Anne-Marie Eades from the Curtin School of Allied Health. Dr Eades, a Noongar woman from the Wagyl Kaip region of WA, said First Nations women, particularly of a childbearing age, urgently needed greater access to vaccinations because they were most vulnerable to infection.

“There is currently a lack of research addressing the barriers to the uptake of the COVID-19 vaccination among Aboriginal families,” Dr Eades said. “What we do know is that Aboriginal people are less likely to have been vaccinated against COVID-19 compared to the general population, with the differences most bleak in WA. Our study will evaluate the successes, barriers and opportunities of Australia’s COVID-19 vaccination program to reach Aboriginal women and their unborn children – and potentially target children under five in the event of an early childhood COVID-19 vaccine rollout.”

Partnering with the South-West Aboriginal Medical Service (SWAMS) and Babbingur Mia-Aboriginal Women’s Health Service, Dr Eades will be supported by a team of leading experts in Aboriginal health, COVID-19 vaccinations, immunisation, and midwifery. “We need to determine what factors could have encouraged a greater uptake of vaccination for First Nations mothers who are pregnant, breastfeeding or trying to conceive,” Dr Eades said.

To view the Curtin University media release Study to address low COVID-19 vaccinations among Aboriginal women in full click here.

Michell Farrell gets her first COVID-19 vaccine at the Ngukurr Clinic. Photo: Kate Ashton, ABC News.

Healthy Skin Guidelines online survey

Telethon Kids Institute is inviting you to participate in an online survey to help with the evaluation of the 1st edition of the National Healthy Skin Guidelines (NHSG). The 1st edition of the NHSG was published in 2018 by the Australian Healthy Skin Consortium. It focuses on the prevention, treatment, and public health control of skin infections (such as impetigo, scabies, crusted scabies and tinea) for Aboriginal populations. Available online, the NHSG has been viewed >10,000 times, downloaded > 3,500 times, and the quiz for knowledge assessment completed >300 times.

Telethon Kids Institute want to know your experience of the guideline to help inform the updates to the next edition, or if you haven’t used it, we’d like to know about where you might go to access this kind of information and resources. The survey is intended for any healthcare worker who cares for people with skin infections. There are two separate surveys for those who have, and those who have not, used the 1st edition of the NHSG. You do not have to have used the 1st edition to take part in this survey, and you will only complete one survey.

It is estimated that the survey will take a maximum of 20 minutes. All responses are anonymous.

Click on this link to begin the survey. If you have any queries, please do not hesitate to contact Dr Asha Bowen using this email link.

Increasing maternal health service uptake

University of Huddersfield researcher Devendra Raj Singh hopes that improvements in public health in disadvantaged communities will be the result of his international collaborations under the UK’s Turing Scheme. Devendra recently spent two months at the Australian National University (ANU) in Canberra, where he found that his research drew parallels between health issues faced by Australia’s Aboriginal community and people in his native Nepal.

The PhD research aims to co-design an initiative to improve the delivery and uptake of free maternal and new-born health services in Nepal, where Devendra hails from Madhesh Province in the south of the country. While in Canberra, Devendra worked closely with academics at the National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health at ANU, one of Australia’s highest-ranked universities, and he gained invaluable insights into the issues facing Australia’s First Nations peoples.

“My visit to ANU has provided me with an excellent practical introduction to implementation research methodologies such as co-design, realist review, and policy analysis. But it was my absolute privilege to learn about the historical past, culture, and challenges of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders in Australia,” he adds.

To view the University of Huddersfield article Health researcher Devendra aims to build on Turing Scheme experience in full click here.

Natalia Moore-Deagan says the Indigenous health workers are one reason she goes to Danila Dilba. Photo: Lucy Marks, ABC News.

Medicare must be accessible to prisoners

Gerry Georgatos, a suicide prevention and poverty researcher with an experiential focus on social justice has written an article for Independent Australia arguing that Medicare must be accessible for prisoners. “It is my experience, in general, people come out of prisons in worse conditions than when they commenced the situational trauma of incarceration” Georgatos said. Health inequalities and discrimination in this nation’s 132 prisons are rife. Nearly 45,000 prisoners are denied Medicare.  Medicare is denied to prisoners, old and young, and to children as young as ten.

In addition, the incarcerated in effect are denied access to the Pharmaceuticals Benefits Scheme  and denied access to the National Disability Insurance Scheme, with disastrous impacts. It is established and self-evident, nearly all of Australia’s prisoners are comprised of people living in the lowest quintile of income. Additionally, they also comprise the quintile of the weakest primary and secondary health.”

To view the Independent Australia article Medicare must be accessible for prisoners in full click here.

Image source: The West Australian.

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.

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Getting NDIS funding only half the battle

The image in the feature tile is of the super talented artist 23 year old Dion ‘Cheeky Dog’ Beasley who is profoundly deaf and has Muscular Dystrophy. Image is from ICTVPLAY – Indigenous community videos on demand, 2014.

Getting NDIS funding only half the battle

Some NDIS participants worry if they don’t spend their annual funds, they won’t be offered the same support in their next plan – and it’s harder for some to use what they’ve been allocated. Around 4.5 million Australians live with disability but less than 13% of them are covered by the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS). Getting into the scheme is one thing. But many NDIS participants find using their funding is yet another.

Research indicates a major issue in terms of the fairness of the scheme is less in the allocation of funding but more about whether people are able to spend their funding. Some groups – particularly people living in regional or remote areas or Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people – are less able to use their budgets. The research compared plan size and spending for participants from culturally and linguistic diverse backgrounds, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and according to where people live, taking into consideration factors such as age to ensure comparisons were “like with like”.

The research found participants from culturally and linguistic diverse backgrounds backgrounds and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people received larger plans than other NDIS participants. But they spent a similar amount, despite having bigger budgets. This resulted in lower levels of utilisation. Modelling showed increasing the use of support coordinators could increase plan utilisation and reduce inequities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, culturally and linguistically diverse participants, people from low socioeconomic backgrounds and those with psychosocial disabilities.

The ConversationTo view the UNSW Sydney Newsroom opinion piece ‘Use it or lose it’ – getting NDIS funding is only half the battle for participants by Helen Dickinson, Professor, Public Service Research, UNSW Sydney and George Disney, Research Fellow, Social Epidemiology, The University of Melbourne click here.

Xtremecare Australia founders William and Marjorie Tatipata with their son, Will. Image source: Hireup website.

Ear disease mistaken for misbehaviour

New research from Western Sydney University has revealed living with childhood ear disease and hearing loss can substantially impact the physical, emotional, and social wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, with the symptoms of Otitis Media often difficult to identify and mistaken for misbehaviour. The study focused on the experiences of caregivers of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children with Otitis Media, revealing the barriers and challenges they face in accessing effective treatment.

Lead author, Letitia Campbell, a community-based Aboriginal Research Officer with Western Sydney University’s School of Medicine, says Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children have a high burden of Otitis Media in childhood, and she is determined to improve how families can manage the condition and receive better healthcare. “Living with chronic ear disease and its consequences on hearing, language development, school performance and behaviour is a common reality for many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families, with the impact of hearing loss in children having long lasting effects on their wellbeing and development,” said Ms Campbell. “Caregivers have described how easy it is to mistake ear disease for misbehaviour in a child, and how distressing this is to the children who feel they are always getting into trouble for ‘not listening’ or talking too loudly when there is a genuine underlying medical reason.”

The view The National Tribune article Symptoms of childhood ear disease and hearing loss mistaken for misbehaviour, new study finds in full click here.

Dr Kelvin Kong. Photo: Simone De Peak. Image source: RACGP news GP.

Kidney replacements more than double

The number of Australians receiving kidney replacement therapy has more than doubled over the past two decades, new data shows. Kidney replacement therapy numbers jumped from 11,700 to 27,700 from 2000 to 2020, showing chronic kidney disease (CKD) remains a significant health issue, particularly among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. CKD is defined as the presence of impaired or reduced kidney function lasting at least three months, according to an Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) report. An estimated 1.7 million Australians are living with early signs of kidney disease, however, many are unaware due to its asymptomatic nature.

AIHW data shows that more than half (14,600) of those receiving kidney replacement therapy were on dialysis and the remainder (13,100) had functioning kidney transplants that required ongoing follow up care. Approximately 2,500 Indigenous Australians with kidney failure received kidney replacement therapy in 2020, a rate of 284 per 100,000, with more than 1 in 4 receiving treatment close to home.

After living with diabetes for 20 years, Ina, an Aboriginal artist from Central Australia, was diagnosed with kidney failure and needed dialysis. She was forced to relocate from a remote are to Adelaide for treatment, which has been the most difficult thing about living with kidney disease. “It’s very important and pretty difficult to manage. Some of us, some of our families, lose us on this machine,” she said.

To view the Daily Mail Australia article Kidney replacement therapy on the rise in full click here. You can also view the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) media release Recipients of kidney replacement therapy more than doubles over 20 years here.

Darwin dialysis patient Jacqueline Amagula would like to be waitlisted for a kidney transplant. Photo: Bridget Brennan, ABC News.

Child vax rates falling behind

First Nations people are being urged to get their COVID-19 vaccine and booster by the country’s peak Indigenous health organisation, NACCHO. The rate of people over 16 who have had two vaccine does sits at nearly 82%. However, only 55% have had a third does and just 30% of eligible people have had their fourth shot.

Earlier this morning Medical Adviser for NACCHO, Dr Jason Agostino, spoke on Koori Radio 93.7FM about how children’s vaccination rates are falling behind “in children coverage has been quite poor and only about one in three Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander kids aged 5 to 11 have received any vaccine and only about one in five are fully vaccinated and that hasn’t changed much in the last four, six months.” NACCHO says mob may be eligible for new antiviral medications and should talk to their doctor.

Image source: The Medical Journal of Australia.

PHC lessons from overseas

New federal Health Minister Mark Butler says primary care is “in worse shape than it’s been in the entire Medicare era” and has made it his top health priority. Primary care is any first point of contact with the health system, such as a GP clinic, dentist, or community pharmacy, but the government is likely to focus on GP clinics. A new taskforce will advise the minister on how to spend $750 million to improve access, chronic disease management, and affordability. The taskforce has until Christmas to come up with a plan, which is a big ask given where the system is now. It has been recommended that Australia should take on lessons from what’s worked overseas to reform general practice funding.

Almost half of Australians have a chronic disease, such as heart disease, diabetes, asthma or depression. More than half of Australians over 65 have two or more. Those proportions have been rising fast in recent decades. To help patients manage these conditions, GPs need ongoing relationships with patients (known as continuity of care), and a team working with them by providing routine care, outreach, coaching, and advice. That lets GPs spend more of their time working with the most complex patients, resulting in better care and outcomes. The National Rural Health Alliance has proposed the sector move towards a model with similarities to Aboriginal-controlled clinics and community health providers.

To view the on-line Viw Magazine article General practices are struggling. Here are 5 lessons from overseas to reform the funding system in full click here.

Image sources: Indigenous Access Program for health professionals webpage Services Australia.

Awabakal regional vax clinic IT lessons

At a time when most IT professionals retreated to isolated workplaces, local experts Smikteck found a unique way to assist others during COVID-19. The Cardiff business hit the road to support Aboriginal health care provider Awabakal at vaccination clinics in regional areas. Now, 12 months on, they are ready to share their lessons learnt with other medical services. Smikteck director Michael Stafford admitted the pandemic changed the way health care was provided and IT was fundamental to that adjustment. “Lots of industries had to pivot how they provided their services,” he said. “Medical and health services were no exception.”

Instead of trying to troubleshoot issues from a help desk, the Smikteck team joined forces with the health professionals and became an integral part of the clinic set up and service delivery. “Awabakal Ltd came to us with a challenge,” Mr Stafford said. “They provide medical services to an Aboriginal community of more than 8,000 patients. So, the solution was to provide pop-up vaccination clinics in local communities throughout the Hunter. But, to do this, they needed to have the same, secure technology available as a normal medical clinic – and system downtime needed to be minimal.”

To view the Newcastle Weekly article IT helps build community health in full click here.

Smikteck director Michael Stafford and Awabakal Ltd chief operations officer Scott Adams. Image source: Newcastle Weekly.

Cultural safety training for optometrists

Last year, Optometry Australia offered 100 members the opportunity to undertake cultural safety education through Indigenous Allied Health Australia (IAHA). Following the incredible interest they received they have purchased access to IAHA’s Cultural Responsiveness Training (Levels 1 and 2), available for free to all members via the Optometry Australia Institute of Excellence. IAHA’s cultural safety training uses an evidence-based Cultural Responsiveness Framework. Levels 1 and 2 are action-oriented and highly interactive, focusing on strength-based outcomes through critical self-reflective practice.

In 2022, the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (Ahpra) and National Boards (except Medical, Nursing and Midwifery and Psychology) released a revised Code of Conduct which took effect on 29 June. The revised Code includes a new section on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and cultural safety, requiring that all optometrists provide culturally safe and sensitive practice for all communities.

To view the Optometry Australia article Cultural responsiveness training now available for all Optometry Australia members article in full click here.

Optometrist Kerryn Hart does an eye examination on Andrew Toby who needed glasses. Andrew, a driver for the Anyinginyi Allied Health Clinic, Tennant Creek, collects patients to bring them to the clinic. Image source: Optometry Australia.

New process for job advertising

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal & 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.

Save the Date

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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.