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

$1.25M to deliver culturally safe NDIS services

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

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

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

You can read the media statement by NACCHO here.

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

Image source: AbSec website.

Lessons learnt to inform future vaccination efforts

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

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

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

You can read the article in Croakey Health Media here.

Cherbourg resident Colin Morgan receiving vax

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

Boosting vaccination rates in WA

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mental health app in Pitjantjatjara and Aboriginal English

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

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

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

Elimination of violence against women

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

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

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

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

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

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

Social and Economic Impact Assessment of Community First Development

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

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

For more information and to download the report click here.

The Story of Change

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lisa providing disability support to Greg.

Lisa providing disability support to Greg.

BRAMS Newsletter October 2021

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

You can download the newsletter here.

BRAMS COVID VAX-A-THON

 

New process for job advertising

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

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

A Life Changing Life – Webinar

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

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

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Voter ID rules will disenfranchise mob

Image source: Kalgoorlie Miner.

Voter ID rules will disenfranchise mob

NACCHO is deeply concerned by the proposed voter ID changes in the ‘Electoral Legislation Amendment (Voter Integrity) Bill 2021’. We urge all parliamentarians to oppose this unnecessary measure. We do not want to see vulnerable Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people disenfranchised.

The Chair of NACCHO, Donnella Mills, speaking from Cairns today said, “Australia has a sorry history in voting eligibility for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. It took until 1962 to secure the right to vote in the first place. It took until 1967 for us to be counted. Today, in 2021, we are at a critical time in our efforts as a nation to act upon the Uluru Statement from the Heart and secure an Indigenous ‘voice’ to Parliament. Yet this proposed Bill sets us back on our journey. I have no doubt that this Bill will discourage Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people from voting.”

There is no case for introducing these measures. NACCHO understands that the Australian Electoral Commission has confirmed that there was almost no voter fraud at the last federal election and that the introduction of voter ID requirements is unnecessary. There were no prosecutions for multiple voting at the last election, so there seems to be no problem to address here. Yet, if the Bill is introduced, significant damage will be done.

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

Senate & House of Reps voting boxes

Image source: The Guardian.

Improving disability support for mob

A group of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations across Australia are receiving a total of $1.27 million in grants to improve the delivery of National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) support services.
The $22,000 Indigenous Business Support Funding grants have been awarded to 57 organisations.

Awarded for the first time this year, the scheme was administered by NACCHO which represents 143 community controlled health organisations. The grants are being provided as part of the Federal Government’s NDIS Ready project.

Minister for the NDIS Senator the Hon Linda Reynolds CSC said the funding would strengthen Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’s participation in the NDIS – as well as increase the number of culturally-appropriate service providers. “We can improve the lifetime wellbeing and quality of life for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

To view Minister Reynolds’ media release in full click here.

Image source: Synapse website.

First Nations Services Unit for hearing

Hearing Australia has established a First Nations Services Unit to better meet the hearing health needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and families. “With our dedicated First Nations team, we’re making it easier and faster for children, families and communities to get the hearing help they need,” says Mr Kim Terrell, Managing Director, Hearing Australia.

The Unit will bring together the delivery of Hearing Australia’s three Australian Government funded programs for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples: the Hearing Assessment Program – Early Ears (HAPEE) program, the Community Service Obligations (CSO) component of the Hearing Services program and the recently established Listen to Learn program.

“This will help us collaborate with our partners to provide more effective, coordinated, and culturally appropriate services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples across Australia, regardless of their age, location or hearing need,” says Kim.

To view Hearing Australia’s media release in full click here.

Image source: Katherine Times.

School not prison for kids under 14

ACOSS, the AMA along with NSW community, legal, and First Nations justice organisations have condemned the decision of the Meeting of Attorneys General to “support developing a proposal to increase the minimum age of criminal responsibility from 10 to 12 including with regard to any carve outs, timing and discussion of implementation supports” as completely inadequate and failing to improve the lives of children and young people.

Data from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare shows that this proposal would not change the situation for more than 90% of children under 14 in prison. ACOSS CEO, Dr Cassandra Goldie, said: “this is not even a decision, it’s plan to develop a plan that will do nothing to save hundreds of children under 14 from languishing behind bars.”

To view the ACOSS media release in full click here.

Image source: Pro Bono Australia.

Cultural safety education for pharmacists

The Australian Pharmacy Council is exploring how to enhance cultural safety education of Australian pharmacy students. They have produced a podcast with pharmacists, Chastina Heck, a Nywaigi, Mamu, Bidjara woman, in conversation with Associate Professor Faye McMillan AM, a Wiradjuri woman, discussing Indigenous and western perspectives of health, global policies, and the benefits of embedding cultural safety in pharmacy education. A patient, Dr Jane Havelka, also talks about her experience with the health system as a First Nations woman.

For more information click here.

Image source: Pharmacy Guild of Australia.

A third miss school due to menstruation

Did you know, over one-third of young Australian women have missed at least one class in either school or university due to the pain of menstrual cramps and fatigue? And the stats begin to get much worse when Indigenous Australian communities come into play, hindering their chance to live life to the utmost fullest.

Research suggests this is due to the increasingly high cost of hygiene products and the embarrassment some young people feel when they’re on their period. Periods may seem like a physical phenomenon, and while it inherently is, the lack of sanitary items can seriously start to affect one’s mental health as they’re unable to cope with the profound shame and embarrassment they’re made to feel.

Last year, Victoria was the very first state in Australia to offer free sanitary items in all government schools. Commencing in term three in 2019, the $20.7 million initiative saw dispensing machines installed in every school. SA followed closely behind, announcing in February of this year that will also be providing free sanitary products to all female students in year five and above.

To view the full Pop Culture article click here.

Image source: Imperial College London.

Diabetic foot complications webinar

The South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI). has hosted a Diabetic foot complications webinar. This webinar recording brings together experts from the five regions of the Aboriginal Community-Controlled Health Sector (SA, NT, northern WA and Far North Queensland) to discuss the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Diabetes-related Foot Complications Program.

To access the webinar click here.

Image source: Diabetes Queensland.

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.

World Prematurity Day

World Prematurity Day is observed on 17 November each year to raise awareness of preterm birth and the concerns of preterm babies and their families worldwide. Approximately 15 million babies are born preterm each year, accounting for about one in 10 of all babies born worldwide.

For information about preterm births in Aboriginal populations click here and for more information about World Prematurity Day click here.

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

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

NDIS workforce critical given high disability rates

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

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

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

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

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

Pat Turner. Image source: Sydney Morning Herald.

Most vaccinated community in Central Australia

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

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

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

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

To view the ABC News article in full click here.

Sarah Gallagher & Jonathan Dooley, Areyonga

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

New COVID-19 vax resources from NSW Health

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

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

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

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

Youth call for action on “missing middle”

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

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

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

To view the CHF media release in full click here.

legs of 5 young people sitting with laptops

Image source: Pro Bono Australia.

$93m to extend Indigenous programs

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

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

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

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

Image source: The Australian.

EOIs sought for Project ECHO Steering Group

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

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

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

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

WAPHA is seeking applications from:

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

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

For more information about Project ECHO click here.

banner, vector sign text 'Project ECHO'

Indigenous Justice Research Program established

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

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

To view the media release in full click here.

Calls for national social prescribing scheme

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

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

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

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

To view the joint media release click here.

vector images of 18 social activities

Image source: CTA website.

New process for job advertising

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Expanded vaccine choice for all over 60 years

feature tile text 'Expanded COVID-19 vaccine choice now available for all over 60 years' & 62 year old Aboriginal man receiving vax

Feature image source The Conversation: Cecil Phillips, 62, receiving his COVID-19 vaccination by registered nurse, Sam Parimalanathan, at the Aboriginal Medical Service in Redfern. Photograph: Isabella Moore

Expanded vaccine choice for over 60s

The Minister for Health has announced people aged 18 and over are now eligible to receive any COVID-19 vaccine available in Australia. This includes Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca.

Previously, AstraZeneca was the only vaccine available, outside of remote areas, to those aged over 60 years.

The expansion of COVID-19 vaccine choice may help to address the approximately 20% of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population over 60 years who have not yet been vaccinated.

For further information visit the Department of Health’s website here.

DoH banner text 'All 3 vaccines available for people over 18'

Full community control for Palm Island company

This week saw a major step towards self-determination for the Palm Island community with the transition of the Palm Island Community Company (PICC) to full community control. The Queensland Government and the Palm Island Aboriginal Shire Council have now transferred their shareholding in PICC to enable a community-controlled organisation that is fully owned by community members.

PICC has been operating since 2008 and has grown into a large professional organisation delivering a wide range of community services with a workforce of nearly 150 employees, who are overwhelmingly local Palm Islanders. In August, PICC took on responsibility for Palm Island primary health services, amalgamating their existing health centre with the Townsville Hospital and Health Service (THHS) primary health centre to create an integrated community-controlled Aboriginal Medical Service.

The Palm Island Mayor and past chairperson of PICC, Mislam Sam said: “this is a hard-won achievement for the Palm Island community. Our community and our elders and leaders have worked for decades for self-determination, and we are proud to finally have local control over services, especially health, that support our families and employ local people.”

PICC services include:

  • an integrated Aboriginal medical service
  • community services, including in the areas of family well-being, early childhood, healing, disability, child protection, domestic violence, men’s groups, children and youth activities
  • social enterprises, including a mechanics workshop, fuel supply and a community shop.

To view the media release click here.

VACCHO Vaccine Vans hit the road

The Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (VACCHO) have launched dedicated Vaccine Vans. The vans, which will travel through Greater Shepparton and Latrobe Valley, are crucial in making the COVID-19 vaccine available to the Indigenous community who’ve faced barriers accessing the vaccine so far.

“Building on the hard work of ACCHOs across the state – the vans will boost support of COVID-19 vaccine delivery to community members during regional residencies across Victoria over the coming weeks,” said VACCHO CEO Jill Gallagher.

Gallagher stressed the urgent need for this initiative and vaccinating the community given the record high case numbers in the state, and the plans to open up restrictions as vaccination rates improve. “We must be mindful of the fact that risk factors for COVID-19 are disproportionately higher for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people,” she said.

“[This is] due to a combination of factors including pre-existing health concerns, pressing mental health and wellbeing issues, and people living in overcrowded or transient accommodation.”

To view the National Indigenous Times story in full click here.

VACCHO building external view, overlaid with VACCHO logo

Pharmacist guidelines for vaping prescriptions

In December 2020, the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) announced that from 1 October 2021, a prescription will be required to access liquid nicotine for inhalation (vaping), following a change to its scheduling.

To manage these legislative changes, the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (PSA), with support from the Commonwealth Department of Health, has developed guidelines and education to support Australian pharmacists through the transition.

Claire Antrobus, Manager, Practice Support and project lead, explained why such support is required. “From today, a prescription will be required to access nicotine vaping products. When nicotine vaping products are prescribed under the Authorised Prescriber Scheme or the Special Access Scheme they can be dispensed through local pharmacies.

“As a result of these legislative changes, we are likely to see patients presenting to pharmacies, to access nicotine vaping products via prescription. PSA has worked with the Therapeutic Goods Administration, the Department of Health’s Tobacco Control Section, Quit Victoria, the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners, the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation, the Pharmacy Guild of Australia and the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists to develop guidelines and education which equips pharmacists with the skills and knowledge to effectively manage the transition.

“These guidelines outline the pharmacist’s role in providing smoking cessation support and key requirements for dispensing nicotine vaping products, including counselling and safety considerations.

To view the full article click here.

chemist counter with vaping fluid packs

Australian manufacturer Liber Pharmaceuticals produces a nicotine vaping product (NVP). Image source: Business News Australia.

Now is the time to be vaccinating

According to the peak Aboriginal health body, NACCHO, the vaccination gap between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and non-Indigenous people is partly due to the low coverage among the younger population.

NACCHO medical adviser, epidemiologist Dr Jason Agostino, said almost 90% of the Indigenous population is under 60, and many of them had only recently become eligible for vaccination. “This is really an issue about immunisations for younger Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people,” Dr Agostino, said. “If we look at the over-60 population, more than 70% have had a first dose nationwide and in ACT, NSW and Victoria it’s about 85%.”

Agostino said he was “quite confident” that the ACT, Victoria and NSW would reach a fully vaccinated rate above 80% for the 12 and over population before the end of October. But he said states which have had very few Covid cases, such as Queensland and WA, should be dramatically lifting their vaccination rates now, to avoid a a situation like the one unfolding in Wilcannia, which now had more than 156 cases in a population of 720 people.

“It’s so important, because starting to lift your vaccination [rates] during an outbreak is not the ideal time,” he said. As you’ve seen in western NSW, in the space of six weeks, they’ve had almost 1,000 cases and they’ve had five deaths in that region. Now is the time to be vaccinating.”

To view The Guardian article in full click here.

Darren Wright receives the first dose of a COVID vaccine at the Ungooroo Vaccination Hub in Singleton. Photo supplied by: Ungooroo Aboriginal Corporation

Darren Wright receives the first dose of a COVID vaccine at the Ungooroo Vaccination Hub in Singleton. Photo supplied by: Ungooroo Aboriginal Corporation. Image source: Muswellbrook Chronicle.

Culturally appropriate NDIS services trial

The WA Government will fund a trial of culturally appropriate services for Aboriginal NDIS participants in the Kimberley. The Broome Regional Aboriginal Medical Service (BRAMS) will undertake research and consult with specialists and Aboriginal people to develop a culturally competent model of allied health service delivery for the region over 18 months.

There will be a particular focus on developing techniques and resources that can be used by allied health professionals who work with Aboriginal NDIS participants. A six-month ‘Community of Practice’ will also be set up to test and learn from the practical tools and resources created by the project.

To access the media statement in full click here.

Aboriginal man and woman having a cup of tea at table

Image source: Synapse Australia’s Brain Injury Organisation.

Aboriginal Family Led Decision Making pilot

Child Protection Minister Simone McGurk has announced Wungening Aboriginal Corporation (Wungening) as the successful Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisation (ACCO) for the Aboriginal Family Led Decision Making (AFLDM) pilot in Mirrabooka.

Through the pilot, Wungening will enlist independent Aboriginal convenors to facilitate a culturally safe process that supports Aboriginal families to make decisions about how to best keep their children safe and connected with their community. AFLDM aims to address the overrepresentation of Aboriginal children in the child protection system by promoting greater participation and self-determination for Aboriginal families and to provide input into decisions regarding their children.

To view the media release click here.
Wungening AC building & logo

Health scholarship opportunity closing soon

The opportunity to apply for a scholarship is closing soon. The scholarship supports students studying in a number of health disciplines including additional scholarship places for Mental Health studies.

Attached are a couple of web banners for your use. If you require any adjustments to the artwork, please contact Sam. The  social media caption is: ‘DON’T MISS OUT! Scholarships for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students studying, or intending to study, entry-level health courses. The scholarships are funded by the Australian Government Department of Health.

Visit here to find out more and apply, closes Monday 11 October 2021.

banner text 'ATSI health scholarship applications open'

Steady pipeline of doctors program

A new locally-led medical program, the first of its kind, could be launched as early as 2023, to build a steady pipeline of doctors into regional, rural, and urban areas in the Northern Territory. Charles Darwin University has joined Menzies School of Health Research (Menzies) in its aspirations to establish the CDU/Menzies Medical Program, as a part of a new Northern Australian Health Workforce Alliance to support the health workforce needs of the Northern Territory and, more broadly, northern Australia. The opportunity to expand general practice and rural medicine training, consultant medical training and health research will be enhanced through such an Alliance.

To view the CDU media release click here and to view a more detailed article click here.

Charles Darwin University sign

Charles Darwin University is joining forces with Menzies School of Health Research to establish a medical program in the NT. Image source: NT News.

New process for job advertising

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

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

World Cerebral Palsy Day

World Cerebral Palsy Day, marked today Wednesday 6 October, is a movement of people with Cerebral Palsy (CP) and their families, and the organisations that support them, in more than 75 countries. CP affects more than 17 million people worldwide. Another 350 million people are closely connected to a child or adult with CP. It is the most common physical disability in childhood. CP is a permanent disability that affects movement. Its impact can range from a weakness in one hand, to almost a complete lack of voluntary movement:

  • 1 in 4 children with CP cannot talk
  • 1 in 4 cannot walk
  • 1 in 2 have an intellectual disability
  • 1 in 4 have epilepsy.

The World CP DAY movement’s vision is to ensure that children and adults with Cerebral Palsy have the same rights, access and opportunities as anyone else in our society. It is only together, that we can make that happen.

The report Comparing risks of cerebral palsy in births to Australian Indigenous and non-Indigenous mothers concludes that those of Indigenous heritage may be the subject of greater under-ascertainment of CP than those without Indigenous heritage and Indigenous children are at significantly greater risk of CP, particularly postneonatal CP, and their impairments tend to be more severe.

The theme of World CP Day this year is Because every person living with cerebral palsy is a reason to strive for change.

For more information click here.banner text 'World CP Day October 6' green, blue, yellow, vector map of world

COVID-19 vaccine update for GPs webinar

The latest in the Australian Government Department of Health’s series of COVID-19 vaccine updates for GPs webinar will be held from:

11:30am–12:00pm (AEST) tomorrow, Thursday 7 October 2021.

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

Joining Professor Michael Kidd AM this week will be Dr Lucas de Toca, First Assistant Secretary, COVID-19 Primary Care Response, Department of Health and Dr Clara Soo
Practice Principal, Hobart Place General Practice and East Canberra General Practice, Canberra.

This week’s GP webinar will have a slightly different look and feel as it will be held via webex. This will enable guests from other locations to join the GP webinar panel. If you’re unable to view this webinar live, you can view it on-demand using the same link, within a few hours of the live stream ending.

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

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Young mob should be focus for COVID-19 vaccinations

Feature tile - Tue 21.9.21 - Young mob should be focus for COVID-19 vaccinations

Young mob should be focus for COVID-19 vaccinations

Although First Nations children comprise a relatively small proportion of the general child population, they represent more than 30 per cent of the Indigenous population.

And as state governments edge closer to easing restrictions at the 80 per cent double-dosed vaccination targets – targets that do not include under 16s – health and data experts are concerned it will be at the expense of First Nations people.

As children as young as 12 are faced with the choice to be vaccinated, mental health experts are urging support services and structures to be at the ready. Australian Indigenous Psychologists Association board director Tanja Hirvonen said the decision could weigh heavily on the shoulders of young Indigenous people.

“What can help to alleviate that pressure is support from family and friends and the health sector, and getting the information from the qualified professionals,” Dr Hirvonen said.

“Everyone has different circumstances, different health needs, are in different communities, so they can make the best decision for them and their families.”

Illawarra Aboriginal Medical Service chief executive Kane Ellis was concerned First Nations kids had been left behind in the vaccination rollout.

“Our young ones are getting missed in the conversation because they think they don’t have [health] issues, which is not the case for our young ones,” he said.

“We want to make sure we look after our young ones as much as our elders because they’re the future for us.”

You can read the story in the ABC News here.

Kahliah West and her pop, who was recently discharged from hospital. Image source: ABC News.

Kahliah West and her pop, who was recently discharged from hospital. Image source: ABC News.

90-95% First Nations vax rates needed to protect mob

While some Australians are awaiting the nation reopening after lockdowns with hope and optimism, others are approaching it with dread. This is because a blanket lifting of restrictions when the vaccination rate reaches 70% will have devastating effects on Indigenous and other vulnerable populations.

At present, vaccination rates in Indigenous populations are very low. Once restrictions are lifted everyone unvaccinated will be exposed to the virus.

Aboriginal organisations including NACCHO, the Aboriginal Medical Services of the Northern Territory (AMSANT) and the Central Australian Aboriginal Congress (CAAC) have called on state and federal governments to delay any substantial easing of restrictions until vaccination rates among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander populations aged 12 years and older reach 90-95%.

A 90-95% vaccination rate gives about the same level of population coverage for all ages as the 80% target for the entire population. That’s because Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities are younger than the wider population.

You can read the article in the Conversation here.

Australian Wiradjuri elder and Indigenous rights activist Aunty Jenny Munro after receiving a covid vaccine. Image source: The Conversation.

Australian Wiradjuri elder and Indigenous rights activist Aunty Jenny Munro after receiving a covid vaccine. Image source: The Conversation.

Boy with disability detained from age 10 in NT

A Northern Territory Indigenous teenager with disability has been intermittently imprisoned in the Don Dale detention centre since the age of 10, an inquiry has been told. The 17-year-old told the royal commission into violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation of people with a disability that some of the charges related to breaching bail when he fled abusive foster homes.

The young man, who gave evidence under the pseudonym IL, said he’d been placed in 20 Darwin foster homes in his life but had never had an Aboriginal carer or caseworker.

“I’ve never really had anybody to teach me right and wrong, you know,” he told the inquiry in a pre-recorded interview.

You can read the story in 7 News here.

Aboriginal health services are among those expected to give evidence to the royal commission into violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation of people with disability when the latest hearing resumes. The 16th hearing of the royal commission will on Monday examine the experiences of Indigenous children with disability in out-of-home care.

Representatives from the Central Australian Aboriginal Congress and Darwin’s Danila Dilba Health Service are expected to give evidence, along with a disabled Indigenous child and her carer.

The six-day inquiry is the second Indigenous-specific public hearing to be held by the royal commission. It aims to provide an insight into the life course for Indigenous children with disability and their experiences of violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation, including cumulative and systemic abuse and neglect by multiple systems over time.

You can read the article in The West Australian here.

The inquiry is the second Indigenous-specific public hearing to be held by the royal commission. Credit: AAP. Image source: The West Australian.

The inquiry is the second Indigenous-specific public hearing to be held by the royal commission. Credit: AAP. Image source: The West Australian.

Cherbourg calls for help to deal with suicide crisis

The community of Cherbourg has lost more than 10 people, mostly young men, to suicide in the past year. Local leaders say treatment models need a major shakeup to make them more culturally appropriate. Young men account for most of the deaths. Alex Speedy, 35, has stepped forward as a champion for mental health in the community.

“It’s important coming out the other side and talking about it,” he said.

Mr Speedy’s aunt, Dolly Davidson, has lost two sons to suicide in the past few years. She said she reached out to multiple services for help for her younger son, but they were not approachable and did not understand what he was experiencing. He passed when he was 17.

“There were nine other young men [who have died] … who used to attend school with my sons. You’re talking about 11 kids from one school and that’s a lot — 11 kids out of 20,” said Davidson.

Community services manager and SPAN member Edwina Stewart said:

“What’s not being addressed is the underlying stuff that’s happening to our families, the amount of grief and loss we’ve been going through,” she said.

“It’s like a dark cloud over our community.”

You can read the article in the ABC News here.

Alex Speedy wants young men in his community to know it isn't weak to speak up. (ABC Southern Queensland: Georgie Hewson).

Alex Speedy wants young men in his community to know it isn’t weak to speak up. (ABC Southern Queensland: Georgie Hewson).

Free Kimberley Mum’s Mood Scale training

The Kimberley Mum’s Mood Scale (KMMS) is a validated perinatal depression screening tool. It was developed in partnership between Aboriginal women and healthcare professionals in the Kimberley region of Western Australia in response to challenges with the mainstream screening tool the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS).

The KMMS is a two part screening tool. Part one of the KMMS is an adapted version of the EPDS using language and graphics as determined through the community co-design process. KMMS part two is a ‘yarning’ or narrative based assessment focusing on a woman’s risks and protective factors across seven psychosocial domains.

The training takes approximately one hour and will enable healthcare professionals to confidently and appropriately use the KMMS with patients.

Access the KMMS Training here.

For more information on the KMMS implementation project click here.

Please contact the KMMS project team if you have any further queries:
Emma Carlin on emma.carlin@rcswa.edu.au or
Kat Ferrari kmmsprojectofficer@kamsc.org.au.

$10m for frontline digital healthcare research

The Morrison government is investing $10 million in research projects that use the latest digital and mobile technology to improve primary healthcare delivery.

Australian researchers can now apply for grants to undertake critical research through the $20 billion Medical Research Future Fund, which is designed to help develop ideas, make projects viable and improve medical care.

Two areas of primary healthcare research will be funded – testing and implementing new applications of existing wearable electronic devices, and examining new ways of delivering point-of-care testing, particularly for people in rural areas.

Health Minister Greg Hunt said research was the key to better healthcare and treatments, and continued advances in technology could unlock more improvements in medical care, including helping people in rural and remote areas.

The $10 million in grants flagged on Wednesday will be managed through the National Health and Medical Research Council and is funded over two years though to 2023.

You can read the article in The Australian Financial Review here.

 Ambra Health DrHIT: Embracing Healthcare Information Technology in the Information Age - Your Medical Imaging Cloud. Image source Ambra Health website.

Embracing Healthcare Information Technology in the Information Age – Your Medical Imaging Cloud. Image source Ambra Health website.

New online MBS tool

A new interactive tool is now available to help GPs calculate out-of-pocket expenses when delivering care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients. The resources have been developed as part of the RACGP’s Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) online tool.

There are now two easy-to-access interactive guides, including one for GPs providing care to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. These list frequently used items such as face-to-face and telehealth MBS numbers. A complementary tool is available for other medical practitioners (OMPs). This includes items that are often employed by allied health providers and nurse practitioners, for example.

The tool allows users to enter fees for the services provided and subsequently calculate the patient’s out-of-pocket costs based on MBS rebates. Hard copies can also be printed.

You can read more on the RACGP website in GPNews.

The resource allows users to enter fees for the services provided and subsequently calculate the patient’s out-of-pocket costs based on MBS rebates. Image source: RACGP website.

The resource allows users to enter fees for the services provided and subsequently calculate the patient’s out-of-pocket costs based on MBS rebates. Image source: RACGP website.

 

New process for job advertising

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

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


dice spelling JOBS resting on keyboard

 

Australian Community Sector Survey – open

The Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS) and the COSS Network, supported by Bendigo Bank, have opened the 2021 Australian Community Sector Survey.

The Australian Community Sector Survey is the longest running survey of the community sector – by the community sector – for the community sector and communities we serve. This 2021 Survey is a vital opportunity for us to compare changes in the community sector between 2019 and now. The Survey covers the impacts of changes to funding structures, demand on services, emerging needs and pressures and sector priorities.

ACOSS and the COSS Network thank you for your help with the Survey. If you have any questions or would like to discuss this further, please email Penny Dorsch at penny@acoss.org.au for details.

The survey closes Friday 24 September 2021.

You can take the survey here.

ACOSS Community Sector Survey_2021

 

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Vaccine conspiracies target vulnerable communities

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

Vaccine conspiracies target vulnerable communities

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

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

To view Minister Wyatt’s media release click here.

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

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

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

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

To view the full article in The Guardian click here.

side profile of face of Labor Senator Pat Dodson

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

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

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

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

MDAS CEO Jacki Turfrey

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

Yawning divide in vaccination rates

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

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

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

To view the full article click here.

Aboriginal man receiving covid-19 vaccination

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

Elder praises community lockdown response

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

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

To view the full ABC news article click here.

Wiradjuri Elder "Riverbank Frank" Doolan

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

COVID-19 exposes Australia’s health inequality

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

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

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

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

To view the article in full click here.

CAAC vaccination outreach at Irrkerlantye

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

WA releases Aboriginal Empowerment Strategy

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

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

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

To view the media statement in full click here.

Hearing health outreach services report

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

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

To view the report  click here.

Aboriginal toddler having a hearing test

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

NDIS Access Program in Kimberley

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

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

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

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

Seven-year-old Kelvina Benny in her wheelchair

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

New process for job advertising

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

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

World Suicide Prevention Day 

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

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

To view the Suicide Prevention Australia media release click here.

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

To register for the webinar click here.

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: ACCHOs encourage youth to get vaccinated

feature tile text 'ACCHOs encourage ATSI youth to get vaccinated' photo of youth getting vaccinated at Winnunga

ACCHOs encourage youth to get vaccinated

With the COVID-19 outbreak in western NSW growing by the day, ACCHOs are working overtime to get local mob vaccinated. Currently, most COVID-19 cases in the region are Aboriginal people, with Guardian Australia reporting a figure of 40% being unvaccinated Aboriginal young people between 10 and 19-years-old.

CEO of Coonamble and Dubbo Aboriginal Medical Services and Chair of the AH&MRC Phil Naden said there has been anxiety across community since the COVID-19 outbreak started. Despite this, the Wiradjuri and Gamilaroi man said that both Dubbo and Coonamble AMS remain “strong” in their messaging. “We want people to get tested, we want people to get vaccinated and we want people to comply with the public health orders and remain in lockdown during this time,” he said.

Considering the high rate of young Aboriginal people contracting the virus, Naden notes there has been some vaccine hesitancy within the community’s young people. “Our young people seem to think that they are a bit more resilient to COVID-19,” he said. “We want people to be vigilant, and aware of the fact that we do have people passing away from this illness.”

Naden said there has also been barriers to public health education. “The circumstance for a lot of our people is that they haven’t got access to social media so we need to be proactively advocating and getting the message out to people in different ways,” Naden said.

Naden notes that the AMS have had strong support from organisations such as AH&MRC, the Western NSW Primary Health Network and NACCHO. NACCHO has developed a strong line of communication with ACCHOs working in the west and are supporting more point of care testing machines being placed in health services.

To view the full article in the National Indigenous Times click here and to watch a video of Linda Burney MP urging people to get the COVID-19 vaccine click here.

snapshot of Linda Burney urging mob to get vaccinated

Feature tile: Registered nurse Michele Clarke administers Kautai Tulikaki’s Pfizer vaccine at the Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health Service. Picture: Dion Georgopoulos. Image source: Canberra Times.

Victorian First Nations lead vaccination rates

As lockdowns drag on and cases rise, there is one piece of COVID-19 data worth celebrating. Indigenous people in Victoria are leading the country in vaccination rates.

According to data released by the federal government last week, more than 50% of Victoria’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population eligible for a vaccine has received a first dose and around 30% are fully vaccinated.

“It is a bit of a success story but we’re not out of the woods,” CEO of Victoria’s peak body for Aboriginal community health organisations Jill Gallagher AO said. Ms Gallagher says Victoria’s success is due to the partnerships forged between the Victorian Department of Health and community-controlled Aboriginal health services. “It has been a joint effort and credit should be shared,” she said. “But the most obvious factor leading to success was access to vaccines.”

Ms Gallagher said it was very sad to see the rise in cases among Aboriginal communities in regional NSW.

To view the full article click here.

Aboriginal person's wrist with BDAC COVID-19 wristband

A Ballarat and District Aboriginal Corporation vaccination wrist band. Photo: BADAC. Image source: ABC News.

Make the Choice vaccination campaign

The Redcliffe Hospital community vaccination centre is hosting ‘special Saturdays’ over the next six weeks to support local First Nations families to get vaccinated. Starting from this Saturday, 21 August 2021, the Moreton Bay Integrated Care Centre based at the Redcliffe Hospital campus will accept walk-ins for First Nations people from 10am to 2.30pm. These hours will be extended if there is further demand.

Health Minister Yvette D’Ath said the targeted vaccination push was a combined effort of the Queensland Government, Queensland Aboriginal and Islander Health Council (QAIHC) and the Institute for Urban Indigenous Health (IUIH) as part of a new campaign to encourage more First Nations people to get vaccinated.

Last week the Queensland Government also released a Make the Choice campaign, which aims to help address the gap in vaccination rates between First Nations people and the general population. “The overall vaccination rate for First Nations people is almost half the vaccination rate of non-First Nations people. The campaign will be important to get the message out into the community – Make the Choice and get vaccinated” Minister D’Ath said.

QAIHC Chairperson, Matthew Cooke, added that a showpiece of the Make the Choice
campaign is a new website that has proudly been developed with the QAIHC. “The website is filled with helpful and easy to understand information about COVID-19
vaccinations and the vaccination process to help inform the choice about getting vaccinated against COVID-19,” Mr Cooke said.

“It’s been specifically created by QAIHC for Queensland Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, Queensland clinicians and front-line workers in community health organisations and Hospital and Health Services. “We know people want to read and hear information from trusted sources to help them make an informed choice about their health. “Our message for every Queenslander that can be vaccinated is simple – make the choice and get vaccinated so we can work towards a pathway out of the pandemic.”

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

thumb with bright blue nail polish holding COVID-19 vaccination record showing Dose 1 & Dose 2

Image source: ABC News.

Youth specific gambling harm program

Most people in Aboriginal communities play the pokies or have a bet without any trouble. But for some people, gambling causes money problems, stress and arguments in the family. Minister for Gaming and Liquor Regulation Melissa Horne says the Victorian Government is prioritising the needs of young First Nations people, launching Australia’s first youth specific First Nations Gambling Awareness program on Wadawurrung Country.

Aboriginal-owned organisation Strong Brother Strong Sister has been selected to deliver the Djilang Gambling Awareness Program, which will provide support to young people affected by their own or their family’s gambling activities. The program will receive $250,000 over 15 months to help young Wadawurrung people pursue self-determination through social, emotional, and health and wellbeing measures, with a key focus on minimising gambling harm.

You can view the media release in full here and a video below featuring Victorian Aboriginal community members yarning about gambling.

Remote PHC Manuals review update

The Remote Primary Health Care Manuals (RPHCMs) are currently being reviewed and updated, with monthly updates being provided to keep health services and other organisations up-to-date throughout the review process. You can view the RPHCM August 2021 progress update here.

The Primary Review process has been completed for 60% of the protocols and the RPHCM project team is on track to complete all of the Primary Reviews by December 2021.

Protocol groups have been endorsed for: (1) Resuscitation and trauma (2) Emergencies in pregnancy and birthing (3) Remote medicines and (4) Child respiratory and the protocol groups coming up for endorsement include: (1) Skin (2) Infectious disease (3) Injuries and (4) Disability and dementia.

You are invited to contact the RPHCM project team here for more information or to provide input. You can also view the Manuals online or purchase printed copies (limited supplies) here.4 Remote PHC Manuals stacked, blue, pink, purple, green

NDIS Ready Yarning Circle cancelled

Unfortunately, the Yarning Circle for Remote and Very Remote ACCHOs scheduled for September 28 – 30 2021 in Alice Springs is now cancelled. Due to COVID-19 outbreaks locking down states and threatening many of our communities, we are not able to run the event at this time.

NACCHO thanks you for your ongoing support and commitment to this event and said it was shaping up to be a fantastic couple of days. NACCHO said that while it is incredibly disappointing to have to cancel, the health and safety of our members, their staff and communities are of primary importance.

If we can, NACCHO hopes to hold the Yarning Circle sometime in the first half of 2022.

Please note, NACCHO will not be running an alternative online event at this stage, however may look to do something later in the year when the current outbreaks are resolved.

Please begin the process of cancelling your travel and accommodation. NACCHO recognises the administrative burden of cancelling bookings and are available to assist if needed. If you incur any cancellation fees, please email NACCHO here and they will arrange for these to be reimbursed by NACCHO.C

Census 2021 – there’s still time

The ABS Director of Centre of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Statistics, Tony Grubb, has written a letter outlining the status of the 2021 Census to date and explaining it is not too late to complete the census. In the letter Mr Grubb says:

“Over 8.7 million Census forms have been submitted to date. This is a very positive result, and we are now encouraging those who have not completed to do so as soon as possible. I am writing to seek your support in helping make sure everyone is counted.

Data from the 2021 Census will be more important than ever, providing valuable insights for all of us into how the pandemic has changed life in Australia and helping to plan our recovery.

In remote areas, the Census is conducted over an extended period between July and August. This is so we can cover vast areas and visit multiple communities. If your community hasn’t been counted yet, please don’t worry. Our remote teams are still working with communities across Australia and have not completed our Census work.”

If you have any questions about how your community will complete the Census, please reach out to your local contact or email the ABS using this link.

NT Health Worker Excellence Awards

Health Minister Natasha Fyles said finalists have been unveiled for the 2021 NT Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Worker and Practitioner Excellence Awards set to be held on Thursday 2 September 2021. The outstanding work of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health professionals to support their families, communities and healthcare system in the Territory will take centre stage.

The awards are held in partnership with the Australian Government Health Department, Darwin Sunrise Rotary Club, United Workers Union, Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance of the NT and the National Association of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workers and Practitioners.

To view the media release in full click here.

Sunrise NT health worker Desleigh Shields listening to patient's heart with stethoscope

Desleigh Shields followed in her mother’s footsteps and became a healthcare worker in Barunga. Photo: Alexia Attwood Image source: ABC News.

New process for job advertising

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

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

Daffodil Day 2021

This year Daffodil Day falls on Friday 27 August. It is a chance for Australians to come together and show their Flower Power; their ability to create change in the lives of people impacted by cancer, by funding cancer research.

In 2020, the Daffodil Day Appeal raised almost $1.5 million for life-saving cancer research, but looked a little different. Despite a global pandemic, Australians still dug deep and donated online to show their commitment to a cancer free future.

Sadly, with nearly 150,000 Australians diagnosed with cancer every year, most people have been touched by this heartbreaking disease.

You can find more information about Daffodil Day here.

torso of person in white coat holding bunch of daffodils, yellow pop out with text 'It's Daffodil Day - Friday 27 August 2021'

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: NACCHO Medical Advisor on vaccine rollout

feature tile text 'NACCHO Medical Advisor Dr Agosinto speaks about the COVID-19 vaccine rollout' & photo of hands drawing vaccine from vial

NACCHO Medical Advisor on vaccine rollout

NACCHO Medical Advisor, Dr Jason Agostino spoke on National Indigenous Radio Service (NIRS) on Thursday (15 July 2021) last week about the COVID-19 rollout. Dr Agostino said it is important to reinforce that all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people 16 years and over are eligible to get a vaccine now and that a lot is being done to make sure that both types of vaccines are available within Aboriginal medical services across the country and also via other GPs.

Up until now there has only been AstraZeneca within clinics, that’s the vaccine predominately for people over the age of 60, unfortunately more than 90% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are under the age of 60 and they’ve had to go to Pfizer which hasn’t been around. Dr Agostino said that in the last few weeks there has been more Pfizer getting into communities and health services in the city and the hope is to get more and more Pfizer out there into people’s arms as soon as possible. To listen to the interview in full click on the YouTube link below.

On Sunday 11 July 2021, Dr Agostino also spoke on 3RRRFM’s weekly medical show Radiotherapy with presenter Kent Goldsworthy about the vaccine rollout. You can listen to that interview here.

black & white photo of 3RRR radio presenter Kent Goldsworthy in studio & 3RRR logo 102.7 FM THREE R TRIPLE R R in red, black, white

3RRR presenter Kent Goldsworthy. Feature photo: The West Australian in NIT.

COVID-19 vaccine provider resources

The Australian Government Department of Health has prepared a suite of assets for vaccine providers. The main purpose of the resources is to support healthcare workers in their work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients.

The pack of resources includes:

  • updated guidance on TGA advertising restrictions, explaining how you can inform your patients about different vaccine brands availability in your clinic. This includes social, posters and web content
  • a video animation in plain English that could be sent to patients’ emails or used in clinic waiting rooms explaining what to expect on  vaccination day, side effects and the need for two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine
  •  a suite of talking points talking points designed for healthcare workers to assist them with having conversations with patients about COVID-19 vaccines
  • updated social resources with suggested captions to use across social media networks
  • a summary of general COVID-19 vaccine communications available on the website that have been developed for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, including social content, posters, fact sheets and videos
  • general Coronavirus (COVID-19) resources (social, posters and community announcement script), reminding people of the importance of following restrictions, staying home if feeling unwell, and getting tested

All resources are available for download here via WeTransfer.

You can browse other communication assets, such as videos with Indigenous community leaders and testimonials by real people, and many other resources here.

Health staff shortages in remote communities

COVID-19 border closures and lockdowns have caused a shortage of healthcare workers in remote Indigenous communities, fuelling fears the vaccine rollout to some of the country’s most vulnerable people is being slowed down. In northern WA the Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Services (KAMS) has been dealing with increasingly severe staff shortages as its retention rates plummet.

“In our remote communities we do tend to rely on nursing and medical staff being on a fly-in fly-out roster,” medical director, Palawa woman Lorraine Anderson said. “Generally those staff have not always come from WA, there have been people from all the states and territories across Australia and in a few cases even outside Australia.” Since the pandemic began KAMS’s staff attrition rate has more than doubled from 37–85%. In some of its clinics the figure is as high as 100%, meaning the entire original workforce has been replaced.

The number of job vacancies has also increased from an average of 10–50 – more than 10%of the total KAMS workforce. Dr Anderson said rolling lockdowns and constant changes to travel restrictions were taking a toll. “18 months down the track our staff are actually getting very tired of that, it’s wearing people down, it’s very difficult on family situations and relationships,” she said. Dr Anderson is hopeful staffing issues won’t affect the COVID-19 vaccine rollout for Aboriginal people in the Kimberley as KAMS prioritises the jab, but she says workers won’t be able to offer the standard of primary and preventative healthcare she would like as a result.

To view the full Brisbane Times article click here.

white vehicle on side of bitumen road through red dust landscape

Image source: Create website.

NDIS fighting trust deficit

National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) Minister Linda Reynolds confirmed last week that the controversial NDIS independent assessments proposed by the Federal Government are “dead”. Reynolds said she was sorry that some of Australia’s most vulnerable people had been stressed by the possible impact of the independent assessments, which disability advocates have fought hard against for months.

Associate Professor Jen Smith-Merry and Associate Professor Mary-Ann O’Donovan, from the Centre for Disability Research and Policy and Centre for Disability Studies at the University of Sydney commented on the issue. “The proposed implementation of the NDIS Independent assessments  has been abandoned in its current form and this is a great victory for all the people with disability and supporters who have campaigned against it.

The National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA), which runs the NDIS, contracted our team from the University of Sydney to externally validate the findings of their pilot inf independent assessments. Our team included people with qualitative and quantitative methods expertise, lived experience of disability and understanding of the broader policy and service context around the NDIS. By requesting this validation work, the NDIA acknowledged that the process and findings of the evaluation they conducted may be questioned in terms of credibility and trustworthiness. This request for external validation reflects the need for the NDIA agency to counter the general mistrust towards it in the sector.

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

photo of word 'trust' written in the sand

Photo: Lisa Caroselli, Pixabay. Image source: Croakey Health Media.

Indigenous bowel screening resources

The Australian Government Department of Health has a range of resources for families and communities regarding Indigenous bowel screening. Its collection contains resources for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people about the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program (NBCSP) including information about bowel screening, video stories, community songs, fact sheets, posters and more.

You can access the collection of resources, including the SA Health Making tracks: Health Screening for Bowel Cancer video (below) here.

Closing the walkability gap

Indigenous inequality in Australia has long been known to the public and policy makers. Yet, successive local, state, and federal governments have failed to effectively make a noticeable change in Indigenous health and wellbeing. These inequalities include shorter life expectancy, poorer general health and lower levels of education and employment. Less known is transport inequality and its health implications for Indigenous people.

Walking is a healthy form of physical activity and is proven to reduce rates of chronic disease. Neighbourhood walkability is associated with the number of trips people can make on foot. People living in areas with lower walkability tend to walk less. University of New South Wales’ research shows that 70% of the Indigenous population in the City of Sydney live in neighbourhoods with lower-than-average walkability. This has the potential to aggravate Indigenous people’s health issues, potentially widening the health gap with non-Indigenous Australians, instead of closing it.

To view the full article click here.

woman in dark shadow walking past a wall with Aboriginal dot paintings of emu, kangaroo, dolphin, echidna, snake

Photo: John Pryke/AAP. Image source: UNSW Sydney Newsroom website.

Abstracts for rural health conference

If you are concerned about the health and wellbeing of people who live an work in rural or remote areas of Australia the 16th National Rural Health Conference will be of interest to you. The conference will be held in Perth next year from Monday 30 May to Wednesday 1 June 2022 with the theme is Bridging social distance; Rural health innovating & collaborating.

Abstracts close Sunday 8 August 2021. For more information about the abstract process click here.

For further information, including details about early bird registration which open on 4 October 2021, you can access the conference website here.

banner text '16th National Rural Health COnference 30 May - 1 June 2022, Perth, WA - Bridging social distance Rural health innovating & collaborating,' purple background, green & white font & logo white number '16' with green & purple heads represented by oval lines & purple and wavy lines representing arms, sitting over the number '16

New process for job advertising

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

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


dice spelling JOBS resting on keyboard

Stress Down Day

Stress Down Day, a fun and easy initiative designed to raise awareness around stress in the workplace, and an opportunity to raise vital funds for Lifeline locally. Lifeline relies on fundraising and donations to help cover the cost of providing local crisis support and suicide prevention services.

Research shows that 90% of Australians feel stressed – with 74% of people reporting being stressed from work.

For information about Stress Down Day click here.tile text 'Lifeline's Stress Down Day on 24/7' Lifeline logo, text in light blue, smiling face 2 blue dots for eyes, blue semi-circle for mouth, orange line overlapping corner of right side of mouth making intersection purple & longer yellow line overlapping corner of blue left mouth making green

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Decreased access exacerbates chronic illness

feature tile text 'First Nations Peoples' chronic illness over-representation exacerbated by decreased healthcare access' photo of Aboriginal man's hands in lap

Decreased access exacerbates chronic illness

Residents in Sydney, the NSW Central Coast, Blue Mountains and Wollongong will spend at least two more weeks in lockdown as authorities grapple with high COVID-19 case numbers. The growing cluster now centred in Sydney’s south west raises major health and wellbeing concerns for people living in larger households, with chronic health issues and more precarious jobs and incomes, and the urgent need for tailored communications and supports that are led by community.

The extension of the Greater Sydney lockdown to contain the latest outbreak of COVID-19 is expected to put added strain on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities with implications for management of chronic health conditions, social isolation, and mental health, say community experts. A key concern for Professor Aunty Kerrie Doyle, Associate Dean, Indigenous Health, Western Sydney University, is the interruption of the care of chronic conditions for south-west Sydney’s 6,000-strong Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population. “This halt in day-to-day health business will have huge impacts down the road,” said Doyle, a Winninninni woman.

While she said phone consultations were valuable, there were limitations to this care. “You are less likely to go and do things that you need to do; like, do you need to have your blood taken for your diabetes? How’s your podiatry going?”, she said.  Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people suffer disproportionately from lockdowns.

Dr Paul Saunders, a Biripi man, medical doctor and Research Fellow in Translational Health Research at Western Sydney University, said reduced access to care in a lockdown was an issue for the whole community, but its impact would be felt more acutely among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. “Indigenous people have an over-representation of chronic illnesses, these are just exacerbated by this decreased access to health care,” he said.

To view the full article click here.

3 Aboriginal women sitting outside of Tharawal Clinic, all wearing different Aboriginal dot art shirts

Tharawal health clinic supporting community. Image source: Croakey Health Media.

Strengthening mental health workforce

New research by Charles Darwin University (CDU) scholars suggests a strengthened Indigenous mental health workforce could effectively improve mental health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. The report, written by Professor Dominic Upton, Associate Professor Linda Ford, Professor Ruth Wallace, Sarah Jackson, Jenna Richard from CDU and Dr Penney Upton from the University of Canberra, has found  that an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander led mental health workforce would promote self-determination and increase the reach of mental health services by providing culturally competent services. Mental health services delivered by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander professionals are considered more culturally safe and trustworthy.

For more information about the research click here and to view the Charles Darwin University media statement in full click here.

wall painted with Aboriginal flag layout with centre a yellow brain, shadow of bars across painted brick wall

Image source: VICE.

Challenges facing Aboriginal adolescents

In Australia, an understanding of Aboriginal adolescence is urgently needed to ensure equitable treatment. Not only must young Aboriginal people adjust to their changing bodies and minds, but they must also negotiate these changes in conflicting environments often characterised by racism and poverty.

A new book Indigenous Australian Youth Futures – Living the Social Determinants of Health edited by University of Newcastle medical anthropologist, Associate Professor Kate Senior, aims to provide better contextualisation around Aboriginal youth and the challenges they face in modern Australia.

The new publication aims to provide a greater understanding of the day-to-day lives of Aboriginal adolescents, and some of the adults who care for or neglect them. It seeks to provide better understanding of the circumstances, processes and factors that affect adolescent health, wellbeing and future prospects in their intercultural environments.

For a more detailed description of the book click here.cover of book text 'Indigenous Australian Youth Futures - living the social determinants of health - edited by Kate Senior, Richard Chenhall and Victoria Burbank' sepia photo of two young Aboriginal children in long grass, one attempting a hand stand

NDIS latest news

The July 2021 edition of the NDIS Latest news includes:

  • Home & Living and Support for Decision Making Consultations – have your say
  • Coronavirus information
  • Would We Fund It update
  • 2021–22 pricing update
  • Participant spotlight

To view the NDIS Latest news July 2021 edition click here.tile text 'ndis Latest news' along footer white text, purple background, phot of man in wheelchair on path with young boy holding man's hand and woman with young girl walking on the other side of the wheelchair

IAHP Yarnes evaluation update

An update of the Indigenous Australian’s Health Programme (IAHP) Yarnes Evaluation has been released. The update provides an overview of the progress made on the evaluation during the first half of 2021, including 17 sites (with 23 ACCHOs and 13 Primary Health Networks) formalising their participation as site partners in the evaluation and ethics approval allowing fieldwork to being in all 17 sites.

You can view the evaluation update here and access the evaluation website here.banner text 'IAHP Yarnes IAHP Yarning Action Reflection National Evaluation Systems' 5 Aboriginal art circles overlapping, blue, green, brown, taupe, white

NT GP training enrolments plummet

The difficulties of retaining medical practitioners in the NT have been laid bare, with a study showing a 50% fall in the number of junior doctors deciding to become GPs. The NT leads a national trend of declining enrolments in GP training, according to the Menzies School of Health Research. “This is a complex problem and there is no easy solution,” researcher Deb Russell said in a statement earlier this week.

Historically, the NT has struggled to attract and retain GPs, especially in remote areas. It relies heavily on locally training junior doctors to become GPs, however, between 2016 and 2020 new enrolments fell by 50%. The decline is far larger than the national average of 12%.

Dr Russell said graduating medical students and junior doctors need to be attracted to GP training as soon as they graduate. “Many are still making up their minds about their career path at this time,” she said. Training opportunities in remote areas should be offered, along with cultural awareness education and support to overcome the barriers to rural work. Also, intern and other hospital training positions should also be awarded to junior doctors who express an interest in rural general practice, Aboriginal health, remote medicine, and staying in the NT long term.

You can view The West Australian article in full here and a related ABC News article here.

Dr Melanie Matthews a GP at Mala'la Indigenous health service Maningrida sitting at her clinic desk with stethoscope around her neck

Dr Melaine Matthews, Mala’la Indigenous health service, Maningrida, NT. Image source: ABC News.

New Graduate Certificate available

A new Graduate Certificate in Health Service Management (Safety and Quality) is now available through the University of Tasmania.

This new course follows a collaboration between the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care with the University of Tasmania to introduce training on healthcare safety and quality, particularly the National Safety and Quality Health Service (NSQHS) Standards. The course is part-time and is delivered fully online, with optional half-day masterclasses.

The Graduate Certificate in Health Service Management (Safety and Quality) is open for enrolment now, and for a limited time the University is providing a 100% HECS fee waiver. This is a fantastic opportunity for managers and clinicians across Australia to boost their skills and knowledge and get a qualification in this important area.

Course participants will get an in-depth understanding of how to apply NSQHS Standards and the National Model Clinical Governance Framework to improve the safety and quality of care in their health service. You can access a more detailed overview of the course here.

If you are interested in this course and have any queries, please contact the course coordinator, Professor Melanie Lauva here.

banner image of torso of woman holding stethoscope towards camera, overlaid with medical vector images e.g. medical chart, thermometer, ambulance contained within hexagons, blue white

Image source: Future Health Skills website.

New process for job advertising

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: First Nations people 16 years+ eligible for COVID-19 vaccine

Feature tile -Tue 8.6.21 - 16 years+ eligible for COVID vaccine

First Nations people 16 years+ eligible for COVID-19 vaccine

From today 8 June 2021, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples who are 16 years and older are now eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine. This news was announced following the National Cabinet meeting last Friday by the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Advisory Group on COVID-19 (Taskforce) co-chaired by NACCHO and the Australian Government Department of Health.

Also included in today’s expanded eligibility are all NDIS participants aged 16 and up, as well as NDIS carers.

The AstraZeneca vaccine is preferred for adults aged 50 years and over. The Pfizer vaccine has been approved for adults 16 years and older. Vaccines are available through Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations (ACCHOs), Commonwealth vaccine clinics, general practices, state and territory health services and clinics.

The extended approved storage period of the unopened thawed Pfizer vaccine vials at 2–8°C of up to one month enables much greater flexibility in the distribution of the vaccine and will have a significant positive impact on the roll out of the vaccine across Australia, including to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and remote communities.

The Taskforce has convened a working group to provide advice on supporting ACCHOs to deliver Pfizer and other future vaccines as they become available to the program.

The Commonwealth Government will work closely with the ACCHO sector to ensure all ACCHOs currently participating in the COVID-19 vaccination program will have the option to administer Pfizer vaccine.

To book your COVID-19 vaccination, contact your health clinic or find a vaccination site near you through the Clinic Finder.

You can read the announcement here.

Health worker Keinan Keighran receiving the Pfizer jab at Katherine's Wurli-Wurlinjang Health Service.

Health worker Keinan Keighran receiving the COVID-19 vaccine at Katherine’s Wurli-Wurlinjang Health Service. Image source: ABC News.

New model for rural and remote health care

The National Rural Health Alliance (NRHA) is proposing a new model of care for rural and remote Australia primary health care.

Australians living in rural and remote areas have shorter lives, higher levels of disease and injury and poorer access to and use of health services compared to people living in metropolitan areas. Governments have pursued a range of strategies to address these poorer health outcomes over many years. However, trend data reveal that these interventions are having limited success.

There are a range of drivers for the poor health outcomes for rural and remote Australians:

  • difficulty in attracting and retaining health professionals to rural areas
  • lack of access to services due to distance, lack of transport, income, health literacy and attitudinal barriers
  • social determinants of health issues including low socio-economic status, lower education outcomes, higher levels of disability and chronic disease and older population.

What are the barriers to attracting and retaining a rural health workforce?

  • Professional – career limitations, networking opportunities, clinical experiences, supervision, professional isolation and lack of support from peers, work life balance issues
  • Financial – practice financial viability, need to work across multiple settings, multiple sources of funding both government and private, administrative burden, business acumen requirements
  • Social – family and friendship networks, social isolation, cultural and recreational limitations, partner’s concerns including careers and children’s education

Models of care which work for metropolitan areas do not work in rural Australia. NRHA is proposing a locally-based model of health delivery aimed at addressing the key barriers to attracting a rural workforce.

You can read more about the NRHA proposal here.

The case for better health care - infographic by NRHA

Image source: NRHA.

Barriers in obtaining birth certification

In Australia, the birth certificate is of fundamental importance as the document that unlocks all the rights and privileges of citizenship. While the national rate of birth registration and certification is very strong, this is not the case for a number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. In Queensland for example, births are under-registered and under-certified at a rate of 15–8% compared to non-Indigenous births at 1.8%. WA’s statistics are similar, with almost one in five Indigenous children under 16 years of age having unregistered and uncertified births.

Birth under-registration and under-certification are generally most prevalent in disadvantaged and minority groups, such as Indigenous Australians, children in out-of-home care, and children from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds. It is also more likely in births occurring in rural hospitals; where the mother smoked or had an alcohol-related diagnosis during pregnancy; and where the mother’s own birth was unregistered, and she had no private health insurance.

To reduce the rates of birth under-registration and under-certification, especially within minority and marginalised communities, the government must improve awareness and education surrounding the important purposes formal birth registration serves. It must also work to increase its accessibility, and broaden exemptions, such that birthplace, skin colour and parent circumstances cease to be barriers individuals cannot overcome.

You can read the full story in Lawyers Weekly here.

Map of Australia with pins on locations.

Map of Australia with pins on locations. Image credit: Layers Weekly.

ORCHID Study: diagnostic criteria for GDM

Following a large international study on Hyperglycaemia and Adverse Pregnancy Outcome (HAPO) diagnostic criteria for gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) were changed in WA in 2015. The ORCHID Study (Optimisation of Rural Clinical and Haematological Indicators of Diabetes in pregnancy) was designed to help simplify screening for GDM in rural and remote WA. Their first paper showed that it can be difficult to do this test. Their second paper showed that two-thirds of women with GDM who do the test are missed due to blood glucose sample instability. The third paper showed that this glucose instability means that they miss identifying women at risk for large babies.

Now that the issue with glucose stability has been sorted, this paper looks at the utility of glycated haemoglobin (HbA1c) in early pregnancy for identifying women at high risk for large babies. The study found that:

  • Almost three-quarters (71.4%) of Aboriginal women with early HbA1c ≥5.6% went on to have a positive OGTT. These women may have had prediabetes going into pregnancy.
  • There were clear differences between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal women: 16.3% v 5.2% had elevated HbA1c (pre-pregnancy prediabetes) whereas 12.4% v 29.6% developed GDM during pregnancy. This suggests fewer non-Aboriginal women had prediabetes going into pregnancy compared to Aboriginal women.
  • The risk of having a large baby was twice as high in women with an early HbA1c ≥5.6% compared to women with an early HbA1c <5.6% and without GDM (21.4% v 10.5%). This suggests that women with prediabetes in early pregnancy have high-risk for a large baby.

For more information on this study you can download the following documents:

  • Download Prediabetes and pregnancy: Using early pregnancy HbA1c to find Aboriginal women with high-risk of diabetes in pregnancy (GDM) and having babies that grow too big.
  • Download Prediabetes and pregnancy: Early pregnancy glycated haemoglobin identifies Australian Aboriginal women with high-risk of gestational diabetes mellitus and adverse perinatal outcomes.
  • Download Prediabetes and pregnancy: Early pregnancy HbA1c identifies Australian Aboriginal women with high-risk of gestational diabetes mellitus and adverse perinatal outcomes.
  • Download Supplementary tables.

The plain language report and links to the papers are available on the KAMS research website here. For further assistance with your enquiries please contact ORCHID Study coordinator, Emma Jamieson.

Aboriginal pregnant woman.

Image source: knowpahology.com.au.

Indigenous policy codesign: risks and opportunities

In a discussion paper by the Centre for Aboriginal Economic Policy Research, Australian National University (ANU), Canberra, the mainstream literature on co-design and collaborative governance is surveyed and considered, as a means of identifying the essential characteristics of effective co-design policy and program processes.

In recent years, the requirement for First Nations participation through co-design has emerged as a key prerequisite of policy legitimacy in the Indigenous policy domain. In this discussion paper, the mainstream literature on co-design and collaborative governance is surveyed and considered, as a means of identifying the essential characteristics of effective co-design policy and program processes. The literature survey identifies two strands: one that asserts the merits and opportunities inherent in policy and program co-design, and a second that highlights the risks and challenges.

Two nationally significant current and ongoing Indigenous policy development processes that have been described as co-design processes are then analysed and assessed. The paper concludes that co-design involves more than consultation, and ideally requires shared decision-making. Further, in relation to policy co-design processes, the literature and cases studies suggest the core design features that are required to ensure the processes contribute to creating public value and maintaining trust in democratic public policy institutions.

You can read the paper here and for more information about the Centre for Aboriginal Economic Policy Research at ANU, visit their website.

ANU image

ANU image from report cover.

Remote Health: going the extra mile webinar

The National Rural Health Alliance (NRHA) has an upcoming webinar on Remote Health: Going the extra mile.

Remote Australia features some of the most stunning landscapes in the world. However, delivering health services in this environment brings with it unique and challenging circumstances. With a small and geographically dispersed population base, ensuring remote Australia has access to high quality healthcare, requires an innovative and flexible approach.  This webinar explores the challenges and opportunities in delivering health services to these unique communities, including the experience of working remotely, the critical role of aeromedical support, and how to enhance the medical workforce training experience through remote placements. Get a better understanding of the remote health delivery experience – register for this webinar today.

Date: Thursday 17 June 2021
Time: 12:30 – 1:30 pm (AEST)
Cost: $45.00 (complimentary for NRHA Board, Council and Friends members)

Click here for more information and to register for the webinar.

NRHA Webinar - Remote Health: Going the extra mile.

NRHA Webinar – Remote Health: Going the extra mile.