NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Suicide prevention video launched

The image in the feature tile is from The Guardian article Numbers tell devastating story in latest Aboriginal youth suicide inquest, published on 7 February 2019. Photo Grant Faint, Getty Images.

Suicide prevention video launched

A suicide prevention video has been launched at the Indigenous Being Wellbeing Conference. Over 500 delegates last week attended the Australian and NZ Mental Health Association (ANZMH) Indigenous Wellbeing Conference (IWC22) on Kaurna country (Adelaide).

A positive and much anticipated change is occurring in the political landscape of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander social and emotional wellbeing health space with Aboriginal controlled organisation Healing Works Australia (HWA)and Gayaa Dhuwi (Proud Spirit) being the major platinum sponsors of the conference. HWA was established in 2019 as an Indigenous led social enterprise delivering social and emotional wellbeing and suicide prevention training.

Kaela Bayliss a young Kamilaroi woman attending her first conference and supported by Dr Joe Tighe both from HWA gave the keynote address “Nothing About Us Without Us – Delivery of Culturally-Safe Social and Emotional Wellbeing and Evidence-Based Suicide Prevention Training“ and launched their new promotional video.

HWA aim to empower communities through sustainable outcomes. This is achieved by working with communities to determine their own unique needs so that they can more effectively respond competently to suicide. Suicide prevention starts with creating strong, competent communities working together to achieve resilience.

For more information about Healing Works Australia visit their website here.

APY Lands mental health model causes dismay

Vulnerable children living in some of Australia’s most remote communities are set to be left without a permanent, in-community mental health service, despite objections from elders, experts and one of the SA  government’s own departments. The ABC has seen a draft of the new model of care for the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) on the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) Lands, which provides psychiatric and wellbeing support to children aged 18 and under.

It proposes that staff from Adelaide fly in to two communities on a fortnightly basis, with another psychiatrist to make a minimum of two trips per year. Telehealth appointments are outlined as a way to provide ongoing support. Previously, two Western-trained staff lived and worked on the APY Lands for more than a decade but were removed without explanation more than a year ago. With no staff on the APY Lands, SA Health implemented what, it said, was a temporary telehealth and fly-in-fly-out (FIFO) service last year.

At the same time, SA’s chief psychiatrist, Dr John Brayley, reviewed the program. He found a FIFO model would see children “slipping through the cracks” and recommended several changes, including doubling the workforce and he insisted on-country staff remain part of the program. The new model of care document does not mention Dr Brayley’s report and does not follow several of his recommendations, including returning community-based staff to the APY Lands.

To view the ABC News article First Nations elders dismayed about FIFO mental health model planned for South Australia’s APY Lands in full click here.

Pukatja elder Jamie Nyaningu says he and his community have been left in the dark over changes to a key mental health service for children. Photo: Patrick Martin, ABC News.

Impact of obesity on life expectancy

A Queensland child born over the next 10 years could lose five years in life expectancy if the state’s current rate of obesity is not reduced, new modelling has found. A report, commissioned by state government agency Health and Wellbeing Queensland, shows the life expectancy of a child born in the decade from 2023 could decrease by between six months and 4.1 years in the general population.

For First Nations children born in Queensland, the shortened life expectancy could decrease by up to 5.1 years. Lead researcher Rhema Vaithianathan said the projections were based on a scenario where nothing was done to prevent the current rising obesity rates among children. “It is quite concerning, we might be facing the first generation of Queenslanders whose life expectancy is shorter than their parents,” she said. “That kind of life expectancy reverses almost two decades of progress of life expectancy.” She said the trajectory changed according to a range of factors including socio-economic status and geographical location.

To view the ABC News Health article Impact of obesity on life expectancy in Queensland children shown in new modelling click here.

Photo: shutterstock.com. Image source: The Conversation.

Funding to rebuild Mutitjulu Health Clinic

A new health clinic will be built in the remote community of Mutitjulu, on the lands of the Anangu people, as part of the Albanese Labor Government’s package of measures to improve First Nations health infrastructure.  The $8 million project will replace the Mutitjulu Health Service Clinic, which was built in the early 1990s. An entirely new facility will be built with modern healthcare and safety standards.

Proposed features include additional treatment rooms, an outdoor waiting area and a larger room to store critical medicines and pharmaceutical products, as well a garage for vehicles. The new clinic will be constructed on the site of the existing clinic and includes the cost of establishing a temporary facility during the construction phase.

The replacement of the Mutitjulu clinic is part of a wider investment of $164.3 million for vital health infrastructure projects that will provide modern, high-quality health clinics in areas of large and growing First Nations populations.

To view Senator McCarthy’s media release Funding to rebuild the Mutitjulu Health Clinic in full click here.

Mutitjulu Health Service. Image source: Central Australian Aboriginal Congress website.

Recommendations to address food security concerns

Local governments would be supported through law reform and specific funding to be more active in addressing growing concerns about food insecurity under recommendations from a NSW inquiry. The inquiry by the NSW Legislative Assembly Committee on Environment and Planning also makes many recommendations to improve food security for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, including calling for Aboriginal representation on Government’s emergency responses to food security crises.

The inquiry’s report, released this week, calls for the NSW Government to consult with Aboriginal peoples and Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations (ACCOs) to fund and support communities in food production and community traditional foods gardens. The Aboriginal Health & Medical Research Council of NSW (AHMRC) told the inquiry that community gardens have many benefits, and credited their success to community ownership and leadership, which promotes self-determination and food sovereignty.

The AHMRC highlighted that local food programs established by ACCOs are limited by short funding cycles and this is a consistent barrier for these programs. -The inquiry recommended the NSW Government consult with ACCOs and Indigenous Corporations to develop a strategy that sets out priorities and a framework to grow the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander-owned traditional foods industry.

To view the Croakey Health Media article Inquiry makes wide-ranging recommendations to address food security and related concerns in full click here.

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

Sector Jobs

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

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

NICU Awareness Month

November NICU Awareness Month is a time to highlight the importance of Neonatal Intensive Care Units and their amazing staff around Australia. Offering specialised care and making a difference to the more than 48,000 babies born premature or sick each year. 132 babies are born each day requiring specialised care.

Preterm birth remains the leading cause of death in children up to 5 years of age. The National average rate of preterm birth in Australia has remained relatively constant over the last 10 years (between 8.1 and 8.7%). Many of these babies lose their fight for life. For many Aboriginal babies, the news gets worse. In the NT, the preterm birth rate for our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander babies is almost double that of the non-Aboriginal population at over 14%.

The biggest discrepancy is in the extremely preterm gestational age. Aboriginal women in the NT are 4 times more likely to lose a baby between 20 and 23 weeks gestational age. That is before the baby even gets a chance to survive. This equates to too many mothers walking out of hospital without their babies in their arms.

For more information about November NICU Awareness Month visit the Miracle Babies Foundation website here and for further information about preterm birth in Aboriginal populations visit the Australian Preterm Birth Prevention Alliance website here.

Logo from Miracle Babies Foundation website and image from Australian Preterm Birth Prevention Alliance’s preterm birth in Aboriginal populations webpage.

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Essential ingredients for Wellbeing Budget

The image in the feature tile is from ABC Radio National webpage Talkback: Australia’s first ‘wellbeing’ budget, Wednesday 26 October 2022. Image: marrio31, Getty Images.

Essential ingredients for Wellbeing Budget

As the world faces escalating climate disruption, environmental degradation and geopolitical instability as well as growing inequality and human rights abuses, the development of wellbeing indicators for the Federal Budget presents both opportunities and challenges.  Indigenous health, public health and environmental health experts and community groups will have an opportunity to contribute to the development of a landmark new set of wellbeing indicators that are being prepared for the 2023 Budget.

While Australian governments publish many indicators that support decision-making, including Closing the Gap and the State of the Environment Report, “no national framework or central set of indicators” to track overall progress on wellbeing currently exists. One of the central challenge of progress reporting is bringing attention to the broader factors that underpin community wellbeing and longer-term economic prosperity, in a focused way. Other countries that have frameworks to measure non-economic progress and quality of life include Scotland, Wales, Canada, Germany and Aotearoa/NZ.

The involvement of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and organisations, people with disabilities, and people with lived experience of mental illness will be important if future wellbeing budgets are to genuinely address inequities within our society. Speaking at the Indigenous Wellness Conference last week, Bardi woman Professor Pag Dugeon from the School of Indigenous Studies, University of WA, said “The things we bring to the table are for us in the first instance but they will also benefit non-Indigenous people. We can share the social and emotional wellbeing approach to wellness.”

To view the Croakey Health Media article To make a proper Wellbeing Budget, what are the essential ingredients? in full click here.

SWAMS funded for major facility upgrade

The South West Aboriginal Medical Service (SWAMS) has received a big boost in the federal budget, with funding allocated for a major facility upgrade. $18.3 million was set aside on Tuesday night’s budget announcement, honouring an election promise from the Labor government made in March. At the time, Federal Labor Senator Sue Lines said SWAMS first approached her office five years ago in the hopes of receiving support. “They’ve been spending $600,000 a year on rent, which is money that should be going into providing services, so this will allow them to do what they need to,” Ms Lines said.

The funding will go a long way towards building a brand new heath hub for SWAMS in Carey Park on land donated to the project by the City of Bunbury. SWAMS CEO Lesley Nelson said the hub would be a huge step forward for Noongar people.,”The Heath Hub will have an enormous positive impact on the heath and wellbeing of Aboriginal people in the south west.”

To view the Busselton-Dunsborough Mail article South West Aboriginal Medical Service gets federal funds for new heath hub in full click here.

SWAMS Chairman Ernie Hill, WA Labor candidate for Forrest Bronwen English, Senator Sue Lines, and SWAMS CEO Leslie Nelson with 3-month-old Gregory Abbott. Image source: Busselton-Dunsborough Mail.

Focus on better programs, services, self-determination

Senator the Hon Malarndirri McCarthy has issued a media release stating the Albanese Labor Government is delivering on its election commitments for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians by improving programs and services and investing in self-determination, with this week’s Budget including funding:

  •  to implement the Uluru Statement from the Heart, with funding to:
    • the Australian Electoral Commission to prepare for the referendum
    • commence work on establishing a Makarrata Commission to oversee processes for agreement-making
  • for Indigenous health and education, including funding to:
    • train 500 First Nations health workers and practitioners
    • build modern, high-quality health clinics in areas of large and growing First Nations populations
    • build a Birthing on Country Centre of Excellence
    • allow NACCHO to combat RHD in high-risk communities
    • provide 30 four-chair dialysis units
    • improve the ability of Redfern AMS and Tharawal AC AMS to care for patients with chronic diseases
    • provide dialysis treatment buses for remote NSW
    • employ First Nations educators in 60 primary schools to teach First Nations languages and provide greater cultural understanding
    • increase access to early childhood education and care for Indigenous families
    • help First Nations controlled and Community Sector Organisation maintain quality services in light of rising costs
  • for housing and essential services on NT homelands
  • for First Nations Justice, with funding:
    • for 30 community-led justice reinvestment initiatives
    • for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services
    • to build capacity of the peak body National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services (NATSILS)
    • to support the National Family Violence Prevention Legal Services Forum
    • to deliver crime prevention and community safety programs in Central Australia
    • to extend the Indigenous Protected Areas program
  • for microgrid technology across First Nations communities to increase access to cheaper, cleaner, more reliable energy
  • to establish an Ambassador for First Nations Peoples
  • for a trial program to replace the Community Development Program with real jobs, real wages and proper conditions

To read Senator the Hon Malarndirri McCarthy’s media release Delivering a better future for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander  Australians in full click here.

Senator Malarndirri McCathy. Photo: Matt Roberts, ABC News.

Speeding access to innovative medicines

Yesterday Minister for Health and Aged Care, Mark Butler officially announced the appointment of the new independent Chair of the Health Technology Assessment (NTA) Review Committee, as well as extending the review by six months until December 2023. Chair of Medicines Australia, Dr Anna Lavell, said the new Chair Adjunct Professor Picone AO will lead major reforms that will speed up access to innovative medicines for all Australians. Dr Lavell said “Reform of Australia’s HTA system is well overdue, “We must reduce the time it takes for Australian patients to access innovative medicines, treatments and health technologies. Our health system must be modernised with a clear focus on patient needs and listening to patient perspectives.”

NACCHO Deputy CEO, Dr Dawn Casey PSM is one of the seven members on the HTA Review Reference Committee. The Committee will undertake the first major review and reform of the HTA system in 30 years. “It is a pivotal opporunity to improve this crucial process in accessing innovative medicines” Dr Vavell said.

To view the Healthy Industry Hub article Health Minister formally announces HTA Review independent chair after earlier reveal in full click here.

Image source: Accestra Access Extra.

COVID-19 vax hesitancy study

A study aimed at addressing lower vaccination rates among First Nations expectant mothers and babies will work with Aboriginal medical services around WA following a funding boost. Curtin School of Allied Health senior research fellow, Noongar woman and project lead Anne-Marie Eade said although the current data for mums and bubs is limited a need for greater access to vaccination is needed to ensure their safety due to greater vulnerability. “What we do know is that Aboriginal people are less likely to have been vaccinated against COVID-19 compared to the general population, with the differences most bleak in WA,” Ms Eade said.

The research comes after an $800,000 boost from the Australian government’s Medical Research Future Fund tackling health disparities between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and non-Indigenous Australians. “Our study will evaluate the successes, barriers and opportunities of Australia’s COVID-19 vaccination program to reach Aboriginal women and their unborn children – and potentially target children under five in the event of an early childhood COVID-19 vaccine
rollout,” Ms Eade said.

Ms Eade attributes a mistrust of health systems, misinformation, and a lack of vaccine literacy as factors creating barriers for Indigenous mothers, expectant mothers and women of child-bearing age. The result comes with an increased risk of requiring intensive care, preterm birth and prenatal death. “A pressing concern for pregnant women is about the potential impact of vaccination on their babies. Many prefer to be vaccinated after birth,” Ms Eade said.

To view the National Indigenous Times article Study aimed at increasing COVID-vaccination for vulnerable young mums and bubs backed by government funding in full click here.

Photo: Unsplash. Image source: National Indigenous Times.

Calls for Netflix ads to prioritise health

More than 50 leading Australian and international health and community organisations have signed an open letter to Netflix, urging the streaming giant to exclude alcohol advertising from its new ad-supported subscription tier. As the world’s biggest streaming platform, Netflix has the chance to set the standard for establishing an ad model that prioritises people’s health and wellbeing, said Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education (FARE) CEO Caterina Giorgi.

“Netflix has made a really important decision to exclude gambling advertising and they should do the same with alcohol advertising,” Ms Giorgi, a signatory to the joint letter, said. “Alcoholic products cause harm to so many families and communities across the world, causing more than 200 diseases and injuries and more than 3 million deaths each year.” “We know that alcohol advertising contributes to risky drinking particularly among young people, this is why the World Health Organization recommends restricting marketing as a priority area. Netflix can help to prevent harm by excluding alcohol advertising from their platform.”

The joint letter calls attention to research which shows that when young people are exposed to alcohol marketing, they are more likely to start drinking alcohol at a younger age and to drink alcohol at riskier levels. Other signatories to the letter are: NOFASD Australia; Sydney University’s Centre for Research Excellence in Indigenous Health and Alcohol, Addiction Medicine; World Health Organization Less Alcohol Unit; and the World Cancer Research Fund.

To read The National Tribune article Community organisations call on Netflix to set standard with ad model that prioritises health and wellbeing in full click here.

Image source: Candorium.

‘Embassy’ upholds legacy of First Nations protest

Embassy, an installation from the artist Richard Bell, Embassy, has a powerful presence in the forecourt of the Art Gallery of SA (AGSA) last week. A painted sign on the front of the canvas tent read ‘Aboriginal Embassy’ – a nod to the legacy of the Aboriginal Tent Embassy, a protest camp set up on the lawns of Parliament House on unceded Ngunnawal Country (Canberra) 50 years ago.

Also part of the Adelaide Film Festival, the Embassy tent brought together artists and community organisers for public talks, and featured film screenings between the conversations. The Aboriginal Tent Embassy is recognised as “one of the most significant, if not the most significant moment in Aboriginal protest history. It put into action a lot of the philosophies around self-determination and created so much from it, including the Aboriginal community-controlled health sector.

To read the CityMag article ‘Embassy’ upholds legacy of First Nations sovereignty and protest in full click here.

L—R: Nici Cumpston, Richard Bell and Dominic Guerrera. Image source: CityMag.

Sector Jobs

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: NACCHO Annual Report 2021–2022

NACCHO Annual Report 2021–2022

The NACCHO Annual Report 2021–2022 s now available to view.

The cover illustration symbolises NACCHO as the peak body for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health working together with its members and affiliates towards the delivery of comprehensive and culturally competent primary health care.

It showcases the work and achievements of the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health sector and includes the audited financial statements for 2021–2022 and can be accessed here.

NACCHO and BHP partner to improve RHD outcomes

NACCHO and BHP have announced a partnership aimed at eliminating Rheumatic Heart Disease (RHD) and Acute Rheumatic Fever (ARF) among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. ARF and RHD are preventable diseases disproportionately affecting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples living in regional and remote areas. Between 2016 and 2020, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples accounted for 92% of all ARF diagnoses in Australia.

As part of the agreement, BHP will provide $9.7m over three years, helping to fund critical health care initiatives delivered by ACCHOs across Australia. The funding complements the $18m already committed by the Australian Government. An additional $13.5m is also anticipated following the Labour Party’s election commitment to combat RHD in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. This includes $1.5m that is prioritised for the investment in portable echo-cardiogram machines, training and support for primary health care workers, including Aboriginal Health Workers and Practitioners.

NACCHO CEO, Pat Turner, said: “NACCHO’s partnership with BHP and the Australian Government is the first-ever national Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Sector-led initiative to combat RHD in our communities. This partnership recognises that we are best placed to design and implement health services, including prevention, screening, early diagnosis, treatment and supportive care, for our own communities. This additional investment will expand the support provided by ACCHOs to deliver evidence-based ARF and RHD activities in their communities.”

BHP’s Chief Legal, Governance and External Affairs Officer Caroline Cox said: “BHP is proud to continue its support of NACCHO, building on partnerships established with the Aboriginal community-led health sector over many years. It is important that we back Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leadership and put Aboriginal health in Aboriginal hands, as NACCHO’s vision sets out. We are determined to play our part in the collective action required to address the underlying causes of these health issues, such as inequality, inadequate housing and long-standing health inequities.”

BHP’s investment follows $5.9m of donations to ACCHOs throughout the pandemic for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander-led COVID responses across the country.

You can view the joint NACCHO and BHP media release NACCHO and BHP partner to improve ARF and RHD outcomes in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities in full on the NACCHO website here.

Image source: BHP.

Killings, disappearances a crisis in plain sight

Last night ABC Four Corners aired a story “How Many More?” – a special investigation into Australia’s murdered and missing Indigenous women. In Australia Aboriginal women are among the most victimised groups in the world, murdered up to 12 times the national average. In some regions, their deaths make up some of the highest homicide rates in the world. The killings and disappearances of Indigenous women across Australia were described in the program a crisis hidden in plain sight.

The program shows a snapshot of what this tragedy looks like. Four Corners revealed that at least 315 First Nations women have either gone missing or been murdered or killed in suspicious circumstances since 2000. But this is an incomplete picture. We will likely never know the true scale of how many First Nations women have been lost over the decades. This is because there is no agency in Australia keeping count, and there is no standard way of collecting this important data in each state and territory.

Canada calls it a genocide. The United States considers it an epidemic. But here in Australia, we’re only just waking up to the scale of the crisis.

To read the ABC News article The killings and disappearances of Indigenous women across Australia is a crisis hidden in plain sight click here and view the Four Corners episode here.

Prevalence of hearing loss research

The Australian Government has announced close to $7.5m funding to support research that will help prevent hearing loss and improve the health and wellbeing of those who live with hearing impairment. Nine projects have been funded, including a number of projects focused on improving access to hearing health for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children.

Researchers at Flinders University will co-design culturally appropriate methods to overcome difficulties experienced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children accessing hearing healthcare. At Curtin University, researchers will provide the first estimates of the number of Aboriginal children who have ear infections and hearing loss from 0 to 5 years of age and will demonstrate the feasibility of screening for ear infections and hearing loss from 2 months of age.

The grants are funded for three years through the National Health and Medical Research Council’s (NHMRC) Targeted Call for Research into Hearing Health 2021: Evidence-based support services.

To read Minister Butler’s media release $7.5m for hearing health in full click here.

Image source: Central Australian Aboriginal Congress (CAAC) Ear and Hearing Health webpage or CAAC website.

Mental health stigma a barrier for veterans

An Indigenous Navy veteran says the Australian Defence Force (ADF) has failed to address stigma around mental health among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander veterans. Professor Brad Murphy OAM, who now runs a veteran-focused GP clinic after serving in the Navy as a leading senior medic, has given evidence before the Royal Commission into Defence and Veteran Suicide.

He told the commission the stigma attached to seeking help for mental health issues remained a “huge impediment” to caring for Indigenous veterans. “We’ve worked so terribly hard over the years to remove stigma associated with mental health,” Professor Murphy said. “No matter how much we’ve tried, we have failed in this regard. Having [Indigenous veterans] actually reach out, or having family or community that are strong enough and well resourced to actually reach out on their behalf is a significant challenge.”

Professor Murphy told the commission more support was needed for members transitioning out of service and back into civilian life. He said many members leaving the ADF were left disconnected from their sense of family and belonging. “Indigenous culture is very much about family and my own experience and certainly my understanding of military culture is of family,” Professor Murphy said.

To read the ABC News article Indigenous veteran Professor Brad Murphy tells Defence Suicide Royal Commission mental health stigma remains a barrier in full click here.

Photo: Siobhan Heanue, ABC News.

No progress in tackling obesity

Calls for a tax on sugary drinks and warning labels on junk food have increased after a new report showed Australia has made no progress in the fight to tackle obesity. Since 2017, the Food Policy Index has been tracking progress on federal and state government policies to reduce obesity rates in Australia. “Obesity is really a public health crisis in Australia,” said Gary Sacks, an Associate Professor at Victoria’s Deakin University, and a co-author of the latest update on the Food Policy Index. “We’ve got two thirds of adults are overweight or obese, and a quarter of kids are overweight or obese.

Inequities in socioeconomic status have meant certain populations are even more impacted by the prevalence of obesity. The groups include those at higher risk of chronic disease, such as Indigenous Australians and newly arrived migrants. “These communities are at extreme risk. In Central Australia, we’ve got 60% of the Aboriginal population living with Type 2 diabetes. Access to care, such as dialysis, is really complicated, you have to come off Country, water is a real issue,” Ms Martin said. “The supply of fresh food and sometimes flying food in when the wet comes is really, really challenging.”

The prevalence of being overweight or obese is higher in Indigenous Australians compared to the general population. Of First Nations people aged between 2 and 17, the prevalence is 38% versus 24% for non-Indigenous youths, according to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.

To read the SBS News article ‘A public health crisis’: This is how many Australians eat a healthy diet in full click here.

Image source: The Medical Journal of Australia.

Extending scope of practice concerns

Louise Stone, a GP with clinical, research, teaching and policy expertise in mental health and Associate Professor in the Social Foundations of Medicine group, Australian National University (ANU) Medical School has written an article for AMA InSight about the push to enable health care workers to work “top of scope”.

Professor Stone says that while the scope of practice is traditionally defined by professional standards, codes of ethics and codes of professional conduct, and includes skills that an individual practitioner is “educated, authorised, competent and confident to perform” it has often implied extending practice beyond the traditional limits of a particular role.

According to Professor Stone, there seems to be an assumption that this is a good thing for health care workers, will be cheaper for the health service, and any opposition to it is merely a “turf war” argument designed to protect existing siloes. Professor Stone however doesn’t think any of us have the right to extend our scope of practice without accepting the responsibility of submitting to appropriate oversight to keep the public safe.

To view the InSight+ article “Top of scope”: no rights without responsibilities in full click here.

Associate Professor Louise Stone. Image source: InSight+.

Australia’s Biggest Quiz to end hep C 

Australia’s Biggest Quiz is coming up TOMORROW Wednesday 26 October 2022.

Hepatitis Australia is asking everyone to register and participate in Australia’s Biggest Quiz which is the national community activation of the Ending Hepatitis C Campaign. Register here and join this history-making world record breaking trivia event to have some fun while raising awareness about hepatitis C and its cure!

In the five years since hepatitis C cures became available to everyone, the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living with hepatitis C has declined by 17%. But more work is needed to close the gap! Australia’s Biggest Quiz aims to raise awareness that hepatitis C has a simple cure. You can get tested at your local Aboriginal Medical Service or GP. Australia’s Biggest Quiz will take place at 16 venues in all states and territories, alongside a national virtual audience, to try break a Guinness World Record, while raising awareness of hepatitis C, and its cure.

You can help promote Australia’s Biggest Quiz using the Stakeholder General Communications Kit, available here. The kit contains: tiles for social media, guidance on how to use the digital communications material, Australia’s Biggest Quiz logo, posters, social media tiles and zoom backgrounds!

This campaign is brought to you by Hepatitis Australia who is working in partnership with 80+ community groups, supported by the Australian Department of Health and Aged Care.

Sector Jobs

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: NACCHO CEO reflects on successful conference

The image in the feature tile is of Jadlyn David De Bush and Daniel Rosedal presenting feedback from the 76 delegates at the NACCHO Youth Conference 2022 to the 500 delegates at the NACCHO Members’ Conference 2022. Image source: NACCHO Australia Twitter post, 20 October 2022.

NACCHO CEO reflects on successful conference

In closing the NACCHO Members’ Conference 2022, NACCHO CEO Pat Turner AM said it had been a wonderful event, with it being “great to be able connect to people face-to-face rather than the virtual connections we’ve had over the last 3 years with COVID-19 preventing us from being able to get together like this.”

Ms Turner said the NACCHO Members’ Conference is not only an opportunity to strengthen our network and get to know each other better but to hear about the amazing work that is being done right around the country, saying it was a testimony to the strength of the sector to come together, noting it was a long way for many and expensive.

Ms Turner said she hoped attendees at the conference had been inspired to pick up on good ideas and best practice shared at the conference and that they would be used to continue to strengthen the delivery of health services to our people. Ms Turner said we have got to be able to get the governments to understand the importance of the environments our people live in and what a negative effect overcrowded housing and unhealthy environments have on our people’s health, “as part of the comprehensive primary health care model its our job at every level to advocate for our communities in those areas as well.”

Housing shortage potentially “life-threatening”

Preston Mapuyu is on a public housing waitlist that on average takes more than half a decade to see any movement – but due to a chronic lung condition, he may not have that long to wait. Nurses in remote north-east Arnhem Land say a housing shortage has become potentially “life-threatening for patients” such as Mr Mapuyu, and is simultaneously burdening the health system.

Mr Mapuyu’s inability to access public housing has meant he’s been forced to rely on the kindness of relatives for accommodation, often overcrowded and unsuitable for someone with his condition. He and his wife, Serena Munyarryun, were living on a remote homeland 100km from the nearest hospital, where access via dirt road is seasonal and emergency planes can only land during the day. “If we call emergency for ambulance to get here, sometimes it takes them three to four hours to get here,” Ms Munyarryun said.

The pair has applied to access public housing in the nearest township of Nhulunbuy but, given a Territory-wide public housing shortage, they’re up against it. NT government data shows there is an average wait of six to eight years for applicants in Nhulunbuy. That stretches up to a decade for those seeking housing in hubs like Alice Springs. Across the NT there are nearly 6,000 applications for housing, but only 162 homes listed as vacant.

To view the ABC News article NT government’s years-long public housing waitlist putting a strain on remote health system in full click here.

Serena Munyarryun and Preston Mapuyu could be forced to wait years for public housing. Photo: Michael Franchi, ABC News.

RHD landmark study makes inroads

An entirely preventable “killer” disease plaguing remote communities in the NT will never end unless Aboriginal workers become the backbone of prevention, an Indigenous health organisation warns. Sunrise Health chairperson Anne-Marie Lee is the co-author of a four-year, landmark study – published in the International Journal of Environmental Research Public Health – which was conducted in three Aboriginal communities where it is not uncommon to see children under 10 bearing the vertical, long scars of open-heart surgery.

“Nothing can work in Indigenous communities unless you employ local people,” Ms Lee said. “Rheumatic heart disease (RHD) is a killer. It’s a killer, and it’s killing a lot of my young ones.” RHD is mostly eradicated in first world countries and is only found in the most disadvantaged areas of developing countries. But in Australia, rates in remote Aboriginal communities beset by social disadvantage are among the highest in the world.

Studies to date have largely focused on secondary and tertiary prevention once somebody’s already been diagnosed, instead of the root causes, such as addressing severe overcrowding in houses and a lack of effective education. Ms Lee said in her community of Barunga, about an hour’s drive from Katherine, there was not enough suitable information about the disease for families. She lamented the notion that short-term fly-in-fly-out health workers could make meaningful inroads. “We need more of me … because they trust us,” Ms Lee said.

To view the ABC News article Rheumatic heart disease still killing Australian children but a landmark study makes inroads in full click here.

Anne-Marie Lee [L] says rates of RHD fell in her community during the study. Photo: Menzies School of Health. Image source: ABC News.

Improving health for people with intellectual disability

The Australian Government is investing more than $5 million in four research projects to improve the long-term health outcomes of people with intellectual disability. Funded by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC), the research will develop the evidence base for future policies, interventions and other initiatives to improve the quality of life of people with an intellectual disability. A key factor in each of the projects is the involvement of people with intellectual disability, their families and carers in the design of the research and implementation.

Professor Sandra Eades from the University of Melbourne has received $792,020 to undertake a research project: Equitable access to health and disability services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children with intellectual disability.

This project will improve the health and wellbeing of Indigenous children with intellectual disability by recommending effective models of care to ensure appropriate, timely diagnoses and access to high-quality health and disability services. National Disability Insurance Scheme data and interviews with families, adolescents with intellectual disability, and healthcare and disability services will be analysed to identify barriers and facilitators to meeting the healthcare needs of Indigenous children with intellectual disability.

To view Minister Butler’s media release Improving long-term health outcomes for people with intellectual disability in full click here.

Image source: Supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families of children with disabilities webpage of Community Early Learning Australia website.

Urapunga Store’s sugar cut success

Remote residents of Urapunga in the NT have reduced consumption of sugary drinks by 43% in the past year, due to a range of sugar-reduction measures implemented at their local grocery store. Urapunga Store, operated by the Urapunga Aboriginal Corporation and serviced by Outback Stores, has restricted the size of soft drinks sold, and implemented “Sugar-Free Wednesdays” – a day in which no full-sugar soft drinks are available for purchase.

“We knew the community was drinking too much sugar, so we came up with a plan to start changing that,” said Antonella Pascoe, board member of Urapunga Aboriginal Corporation. “As directors of the store, we felt like we could make a positive change.”

In the first six months, the proportion of sugary drinks sold has fallen by 4.7% which equates to 1,921 litres, or twelve bathtubs less of full-sugar soft drink consumed in the community. “We know that the community is now drinking less sugar,” says Ms Pascoe. “One of the best things is the way it has made the community think about what they are drinking, even on days when they can buy sugary drinks.

To view the Retail World article Urapunga Store’s sugar cut success in full click here.

Photo: Isabella Higgins, ABC News.

Sax Institute, a community-led research pioneer

The Sax Institute are pioneers of the community-led research model and have been building strong relationships with Aboriginal health organisations since 2003. These partnerships have been critical to enabling the design and conduct of health research that is most likely to meet the needs of Aboriginal communities and policy makers. The Sax Institute says these partnerships are an essential part of how they work and central to their success.

In 2003, Sax Institute formed a partnership with the Aboriginal Health and Medical Research Council (AH&MRC) to set up the Coalition for Research to Improve Aboriginal Health (CRIAH) as a vehicle for bringing together Aboriginal communities and leading research expertise to support better health outcomes.

Over the past 15 years, the Sax Institute has worked with a number of ACCHOs across NSW to improve the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal people. Through these partnerships, ACCHOs nominate their research priorities, control how the research is conducted and take the lead in determining what works for them and their communities.

Four ACCHOs – Tharawal Aboriginal Corporation, Riverina Medical and Dental Aboriginal Corporation, Awabakal and Greater Western Aboriginal Health Service – have been cornerstone partners with the Institute in developing the Study of Environment on Aboriginal Resilience and Child Health (SEARCH), Australia’s largest long-term study of the health and wellbeing of urban Aboriginal children.

You can find more information on the Partnerships – How we work webpage of the Sax Institute website here.

Image source: Sax Institute website.

Sector Jobs

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

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

Children’s Week 2022

Saturday marked the beginning of Children’s Week 2022 (22-30 October). Children’s Week is an annual event celebrated in Australia held around the fourth Wednesday in October. A diverse range of events and activities at national, state and local levels focus the attention of the wider community on children, their rights and achievements. Children’s Week celebrates the right of children to enjoy childhood.

Children’s Week promotes the Rights of the Child as proclaimed by the United Nations in 1954. It also exists to remind us of our responsibility to advocate for children as citizens and their right to a positive childhood.

The 2022 Children’s Week theme All Children have the right to a standard of living that supports their wellbeing and healthy development aligns with Article 27 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

For more information about Children’s Week click here.

Logo: ClipartMax. Photo: The North West Star. Image source: The Pulse.

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: How mob view and experience cancer

The image in the feature tile is from the Yarn for Life – It’s OK To Talk About Cancer website, available here.

How mob view and experience cancer  

A new national study has launched to give Australians a better understanding of how First Nations people view and experience cancer. Funded by Cancer Australia, Kulay Kalingka – the first study of this kind in Australia – is led, designed and implemented by an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander research team at the Australian National University (ANU).

The team will collect data for 22 cancer control indicators in First Nations people. These include their knowledge, attitudes and understanding of cancer, participation in health promotion and cancer screening programs. Assistant Minister Malarndirri McCarthy, says improving cancer outcomes for First Nations people is a national priority for the Government.

To view Senator McCarthy’s media release First of its kind study to explore cancer from a First Nations perspective in full here. Below is a video of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people talking about their cancer journeys.

Mob lean on each other during floods

An Aboriginal community education centre in Shepparton is working overtime to set up a culturally safe evacuation facility and schedule food and supply drop offs to those who remain stranded. Yorta Yorta woman Leonie Dwyer is the manager of Shepparton’s Academy of Sport, Health and Education (ASHE), a service for young Aboriginal people.

With so many staff, students and families displaced, Ms Dwyer opened the ASHE office and their residential facility as a refuge. While waters are receding in Shepparton, Ms Dwyer said there’s talk that the town may be getting another downpour. “Everyone’s emotionally drained and really a bit traumatised in the sense they don’t know what’s next” she said. People are worried the flood waters will come back up, and that it might be another week until they can get out.

With the future unknown, Ms Dwyer remains staunch – saying whatever happens mob will be ok. “We’re a strong Aboriginal community here in the valley and we’ll stick together. We’re resilient. We know that,” she said. “I think that this is just another something that’s in our way, but we will get through it.”

To view the SBS NITV article Victorian Indigenous communities leaning on one another during severe floods in full click here.

Photo of flooding in Mooroopna, taken by Mooroopna local and Yorta Yorta man Neil Morris. Image source: SBS NITV.

COVID hits some more than others

For lots of Australians, their experience of the COVID-19 pandemic was one of inconvenience, with missed holidays, home haircuts, and social events moved online. But for many others, the physical, mental, emotional, and financial cost was much greater.

A new report Fault lines: An independent review into Australia’s response to COVID-19, available here, has highlighted who was worst-hit by the handling of the pandemic. The report says Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people were already affected by disproportionate rates of physical and mental ill health, along with other disadvantages, but the pandemic made them “particularly vulnerable”.

The report said that for the first 12 to 18 months of the pandemic, COVID-19 was largely kept out of remote communities thanks to the work of ACCHOs. But once the virus reached those communities, poor funding of those organisations, and inadequate health infrastructure and workforce capacity caused significant problems in containing the virus and treating those infected Those issues were compounded when governments under-utilised AACCHOs during the vaccine rollout.

To read the SBS News article Job loss, trauma, isolation: COVID hit some people more than others. Were you among them? in full click here.

Health workers practice remote outbreak response measures at an Aboriginal health clinic in Ramingining, NT, last year. Photo: Miwatj Health Aboriginal Corporation. Image source: The Washington Post.

Co-designing food sovereignty models

A project to co-design a food sovereignty model with Indigenous communities by a multidisciplinary team of researchers from QUT and University of Southern Queensland and Diabetes Australia has received a $829,628 ARC Discovery Indigenous grant. Wakka Wakka Warumungu woman Associate Professor Debbie Duthie, from QUT School of Public Health and Social Work, said food sovereignty was considered an essential element of health of First Nations people.

“Food sovereignty is a core human right that privileges Indigenous knowledges and methodologies to co-design local strategies for addressing food insecurity,” Professor Duthie said. “We aim to develop place-based food sovereignty models with both rural and urban Indigenous communities to build sustainable food systems. This project’s outcomes will ultimately lead to tailored strategies to foster food sovereignty and develop resources to preserve language and cultural foodways that can be integrated into educational programs.”

To view the QUT article Co-designing food sovereignty models for Indigenous communities in full click here.

Photo: Yurbay 2021. Image source: ACT Historic Places website.

Reducing diabetes – Ngarrindjeri pilot

A new regional diabetes program will be piloted in Ngarrindjeri country – the Coorong and the Murraylands – with the aim to reduce the burden of diabetes in Aboriginal communities. The pilot program has been co-designed with Aboriginal Elders and senior community representatives, with recent funding from the federal government’s Medical Research Future Fund.

Using a ketogenic eating program and new point-of-care testing technology will monitor health and wellbeing and aim to motivate change. Senior Lecturer in Public Health and Indigenous Health at Flinders University, Doctor Courtney Ryder said Aboriginal people in Australia are three times more likely to be diagnosed with diabetes and five times more likely to die from it than non-Indigenous Australians.

“This burden impacts on the overall health and wellbeing of Aboriginal patients, families and communities. Targeted, community co-designed intervention programs are needed to stop this ongoing cultural devastation,” Doctor Ryder said.

To view The Murray Valley Standard article Reducing burden of diabetes, starting with Ngarrindjeri pilot in full click here.

Image source: AMA InSight.

Join AMA’s Equity, Inclusion and Diversity Committee

Nominations are now open for up to five vacancies on the Australian Medical Association’s (AMA) Equity, Inclusion and Diversity Committee which develops policy and initiatives targeted towards enhancing equity and addressing discrimination in the medical profession. The AMA is inviting nominations from its members to fill up to five vacancies on its Equity, Inclusion and Diversity Committee (EIDC) for 2023–2024.

The role of the EIDC is to develop policy and initiatives targeted towards enhancing equity and addressing inequitable and discriminatory practices that exist in the medical profession. It also considers how the AMA can actively promote equity and diversity of representation in the AMA’s own governance structures. Committee members offer in-depth knowledge of, and experience in, a range of equity, inclusion and diversity issues and help to shape our work on equity, inclusion and diversity for our members and the medical workforce. T

Visit here for more information on time commitments. If you would like to get involved in the AMAEIDC please submit a short expression of interest (between 200-400 words) and your CV by email here by 5:00 PM AEDT Friday 28 October 2022.

To view the AMA article Join the AMA’s Equity, Inclusion and Diversity Committee in full click here.

Image source: Stanford University website.

Sax Institute Resource Hub

The Sax Institute is an independent, not-for-profit organisation that improves health and wellbeing by driving better use of evidence in policies, programs and services. Their Resource Hub allows you to search for downloadable files such as PDFs, videos and Word files. You can filter your search by publication date, topic keyword, type of product, as well as the Sax program associated with it.

An example of publications available via the Sax Institute Resource Hub include Establishing an enduring co-production platform in Aboriginal health; Outcomes reported in evaluations of programs designed to improve health in Indigenous people; and Murradambirra Dhangaang (make food secure): Aboriginal community and stakeholder perspectives on food insecurity in urban and regional Australia.

To access the Sax Institute Resource Hub click here.

Image source: Sax Institute Resource Hub webpage of Sax Institute website.

Sector Jobs

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: NACCHO Member’s Conference 2022 theme

NACCHO Member’s Conference 2022 theme

We’re just 5 days away from our long awaited NACCHO Members’ Conference, NACCHO Youth Conference, EGM and AGM!

Today we are delighted to announce the theme for this year’s conference – Honour the Past, Prepare for the Future.

NACCHO is proud to have a membership of 144 Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations with over 50 years of cultural expertise, knowledge and capability in the delivery of comprehensive primary health care to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Our sector has led the way in responding to the many challenges faced over the last three years and have demonstrated that we are an integral part of the health architecture in Australia. The Conference is an opportunity for us to come together to celebrate the resilience and success of our sector. It is a success worth celebrating and honouring as we prepare for the future.

We look forward to seeing you all soon!

NACCHO also wishes to acknowledge the generous support from our wonderful sponsors who helped make #NACCHOConference22 happen!

We can’t wait to network with you all next week at the NACCHO Youth and NACCHO Members’ Conferences on Ngunnawal and Ngambri Country (Canberra).

Mob experience higher rates of obesity

Population groups, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, people with disability, and people from culturally and linguistically diverse
communities (CALD) experience health inequity and resulting disparities in disease rates. These include higher rates of obesity and associated chronic diseases. A paper in the Sax Institute journal, Public Health Research & Practice brings together three perspectives by researchers in the fields of Indigenous health, disability and CALD health to examine how overweight and obesity impact these populations in Australia and to put forward ways of addressing the problem.

The authors urge investment in research co-designed with people from each of these communities and with lived experience of obesity to build valuable knowledge about what preventive actions and interventions will work to reduce obesity rates. They call for evidence-based, tailored obesity prevention programs to address these historical disparities and improve health outcomes among some of Australia’s disadvantaged populations.

One of the three perspectives examined in the paper is the inequities in the treatment of obesity in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. The author, Ray Kelly from the University of Melbourne finds:

  • Obesity is increasing in Indigenous people and is now up to 45% of that population
  • There is very little Indigenous input into Australian Dietary Guidelines
  • Adopting traditional dietary lifestyle could help Indigenous people lose weight
  • Far more research involving Indigenous people needs to be done in this area.

To view the Public Health Research & Practice (a journal of the Sax Institute) article Inequities in obesity: Indigenous, culturally and linguistically diverse, and disability perspectives in full click here.

Image source: NAAFA website.

Information vacuum around miscarriage

Miscarriage Australia is a first of its kind website that uses medically proven facts to help patients, and it’s been far too long in the making. The information vacuum around miscarriage, combined with the desperation of the grief-stricken, is the perfect breeding ground for misinformation and fertile soil for superstition. And that is why the development and launch of a new website, the first of its kind in Australia dedicated solely to evidence-based, medically-proven information and research, will be an absolute asset for patients in this space. It has been far too long in coming.

The team behind the Miscarriage Australia website comprises academics and clinicians. The site includes information for women, men, LGBTIQ+, friends or family of those affected. You’ll find details on what comprises a miscarriage, why someone miscarries, types of miscarriage and so on. There are referrals to support services. And crucially, there is information and support for medical practitioners working in this space or any other who are likely to come into contact with pregnancy loss patients. The information is fact-checked and the site is managed by the Miscarriage Australia research team, co-led by Bilardi and Temple-Smith, and an expert advisory committee.

You can access the new Miscarriage Australia website here.

To view The Guardian article After my miscarriage, it was hard to find reliable online support for an issue shrouded in silence – that’s about to change in full click here.

Image source: Miscarriage Australia website.

Pathology drones for remote Qld patients

Drones could be used to fly patient pathology samples from Moreton Bay island communities to Brisbane testing labs as early as next year. Yesterday Brisbane’s Mater Hospital announced a partnership program with drone company Swoop Aero that will see a fleet of drones used to shuttle patient pathology samples from areas across Moreton Bay to the hospital’s testing labs at Springfield in Ipswich.

Mater Pathology general manager Deb Hornsby said the initiative was an “Australian first” and would slash waiting times for test results, particularly blood samples and COVID-19 swabs. “It is a game-changer, it will take pathology services to a different level – we’re the first pathology service in Australia to offer this,” Ms Hornsby said. “Right now, we are reliant on ferry terminals and courier pick ups to get samples back to Mater for testing from Stradbroke Island and the other islands. Depending on ferry services, it can take up to six hours. Pathology is a time-sensitive service … turnaround times are really critical to get those results back to GPs and specialists.” She said a 45-minute drive would now become a 15-minute flight.

To read the ABC News article Drones set to transport Mater Hospital pathology samples across south-east Queensland in ‘Australian first’ in full click here.

Swoop Aero pathology drone. Image source: DroneDJ.

Rural GP shortage sees patients turned away

After the departure of a local doctor, a Quirindi aged care will have to turn residents away, threatening the centre’s viability. In a bid to entice a new doctor to urgently fill a vacancy, a NSW town is offering three months free rent, with an ongoing rent cap, in a bid to save its community-run aged acre home, Eloura. The doctor who has left treated a quarter of its aged care residents, and the current medical practices are not taking new patients due to high demand. Without a replacement, the community-built aged care centre will have to turn away new residents, unless they already have access to a GP.

Walhallow Aboriginal Health Corporation, based in Quirindi, has three GPs and two registrars, who are split between the three towns of Coledale, Caroona, and Quirindi. The practice manager, Eileen Goode, said that they did not just need another doctor, they needed “probably another four”. Walhallow has been seeing whoever they can, whenever they can, but still could not keep up with demand. We have a lot of phone calls from non-registered patients saying ‘Can we come and see you? We can’t get into a doctor, our doctor’s not here any more – can you help us?’” Goode said.

“Unfortunately, a lot of those people we’ve actually had to turn away because we’re servicing around 5,000. One of the worst feelings in the world,” Goode says, “is turning someone away, sending them to a hospital who also doesn’t have a doctor.” Goode’s experience means she understands the leap it takes to move to the bush, and that dealing with a backlog of patients in a rural practice meant that GPs could quickly burn out.

To view The Guardian article NSW town offering free rent to attract a GP so aged care home can avoid BYO doctor policy in full click here.

View of Quirindi, NSW. Image source: Aussie Towns website.

WA E-cigarette ban proposal

The WA Cancer Council is leading a push to “revitalise tobacco control” in the state by proposing halving the number of retailers and banning the sale of e-cigarettes, among other measures. The organisation, which is proposing to halve smoking rates in the state by 2030, launched its plan at a two-day symposium of health workers and experts in Perth this week. WA Cancer Council president Ruth Shean said tobacco control in WA had benefited greatly from a strong commitment by the state government.

“However, there are more than 200,000 West Australians still smoking,” Dr Shean said. “Our goal is to halve smoking rates in WA by 2030, but it requires all tiers of government to work together to implement an evidence-based, comprehensive approach.” The WA organisation wants to ban the sale and advertising of e-cigarette devices and components and prohibit vaping in places where cigarette smoking is banned.

Samuel Stubbs, a tackling Indigenous smoking coordinator at the WA Aboriginal Health Council, supported the call to ban e-cigarettes. He said his organisation was seeing a troubling number of young people using the smoking devices. “It’s huge. It’s just taking off,” Mr Stubbs said. “That’s probably the biggest thing we’re facing at the moment, with a lot of questions being asked from community groups, schools — how we can come in and help educate the youth about the effects that e-cigarettes have.”

To view the ABC News article E-cigarette ban proposed as WA Cancer Council aims to halve smoking rates by 2030 in full click here.

WA Aboriginal Health Council’s Samuel Stubbs says vaping has taken off among his community. Photo: Alicia Bridges, ABC Radio Perth.

Sector Jobs

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

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

World Sight Day 2022

The aim of World Sight Day 2022 tomorrow Thursday 13 October 2022 is to focus the world’s attention on the importance of eye care.​ The International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB) has confirmed it will continue the World Sight Day 2021 theme of Love Your Eyes for this year. The theme stresses the need for awareness about our eye health and the need for taking care of our eyesight. For this purpose, we must get our eyes tested and encourage those we know to go for it, as well.

As per data from IAPB people worldwide live with low vision and blindness. Out of these, 39 million are completely blind while 246 others have moderate to severe visual impairment. Most of these people (approx 90%) reside in low-income countries. However, 80% of visual impairment is avoidable, given that they are readily treatable or preventable. However, there is much that needs to be done to provide eye care facilty to each and every person in need of it. Spreading awareness of the eye related problems including blindness and vision impairment can help a lot in making eye care accessible to all. The World Health Organisation has identified eye health as critical to achieving its Sustainable Development Goals.

To find out more about World Sight Day 2022 click here.

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: World Sepsis Day 2022

The image in the feature tile is from the Hartmann Science Center website International Campaign Days webpage.

World Sepsis Day 2022

Sepsis is the body’s overwhelming and life-threatening response to an infection that can lead to tissue damage, organ failure and death. Every 2.8 seconds someone in the world dies from sepsis. Every year at least 18,000 Australian’s are diagnosed with sepsis, with around 5,000 losing their lives.

Sepsis has been coined the “silent killer” – it can rapidly cause death – sometimes within hours, but the signs of sepsis can be difficult to diagnose as early symptoms can be dismissed or confused with simple cold and flu symptoms or other similar conditions. Sepsis happens when the body is fighting an infection but it starts to attack itself. It can damage many parts of the body and cause death.

The best chance of getting better from sepsis is to treat it quickly. The public are being urged to educate themselves and get to know the signs of sepsis. If you suspect sepsis, seek urgent medical attention and never be afraid to ask – It it sepsis?

The below animation is from the T 4 Thomas Is It Sepsis? website here. You can also find more about World Sepsis Day 2022 on the Australian Sepsis Network (ASN) webpage here.

Farewell Uncle Jack Charles

The beloved star of stage and screen Uncle Jack Charles has passed away peacefully surrounded by loved ones. The legendary actor, musician and activist celebrated his 79th birthday last week, and is being remembered as a towering figure of Indigenous culture. In a statement, his family stated that Uncle Jack Charles had suffered a stroke, before passing away at the Royal Melbourne Hospital Tuesday morning. “We are so proud of everything he has achieved in his remarkable life,” reads the statement. “May he be greeted by his Ancestors on his return home.”

The Boon Wurrung Dja Dja Wurrung Woiwurrung Yorta Yorta Elder is well known to generations of Australians as the actor with the treacle vocal cords, his rich baritone the soundtrack to innumerable plays, television programs and movies. His activism for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander progress, especially regarding the Stolen Generations and education, was also an unfailing part of his efforts. Before he passed away, his family were able to send him off on Country during a smoking ceremony at the Royal Melbourne hospital.

To view the SBS NITV article Beloved Elder Uncle Jack Charles passes away in full click here. You can also view Minister for Indigenous Australians, Linda Burney’s media release Passing of Uncle Jack Charles here.

Uncles Jack Charles. Image source: NITV News.

Sowing seeds for a healthy future

A grassroots, community-based approach aims to address poor nutrition in remote Indigenous communities. EON Foundation, which works in partnership with 39 Aboriginal communities and schools to build edible gardens and develop and deliver nutrition programs, is setting up a program in Kalkarindji in the NT. Funding has been provided by the Katherine Region Communities for Children Facilitating Partner program, facilitated by the Smith Family and funded through the Australian Government.

In remote areas like this, accessing  fresh produce can be difficult, with fruit and vegetables  costing up to 50% more than they would in urban areas. As a result, the Victoria Daly Regional Council (VDRC) says 94% of Aboriginal children have an inadequate daily intake of fruit and vegetables. Poor nutrition then leads to health problems like heart and kidney disease and type two diabetes. Phase one of the Kalkarindji project will see a section of the Kalkarindji School grounds transformed into an edible bush tucker and sensory garden. Donna Donzow, the EON Foundation’s NT operations manager, said working closely with the school was a great way to teach kids about healthy eating habits.

To view the Pro Bono Australia article Sowing seeds for a healthy future in Kalkarindji in full click here.

Donna Donzow in front of the garden site. Image source: Pro Bono Australia.

We need to talk about family violence

Doctpr Gracelyn Smallwood does not have time to retire. “Some people my age would be sitting by the beach, drinking pina coladas,” she said with a laugh. “Not me, there’s too much work to do.” The 71-year-old Indigenous health and human rights advocate spoke at the Red Rose Domestic Violence fundraiser luncheon at Victoria Park Golf complex last Friday. “I had to cram about 200 years of knowledge into a 15-minute speech,” Dr Smallwood joked.

Founded in 2016 by chief executive Betty Taylor, the Red Rose Foundation works to address the impact of domestic and family violence in Australian communities. The national charity provides holistic medical, legal and trauma counselling support to victims of “high-harm and high-risk” domestic violence such as strangulation.

Mrs Taylor said Red Rose was honoured to host Dr Smallwood as their keynote speaker. “Gracelyn is an absolute champion of diversity and inclusivity,” Mrs Taylor said. Regarded as one of the most prominent First Nations health and justice experts, Dr Smallwood was a published author, a former consultant to the World Health Organisation, and the recipient of the 2022 Queensland Greats Awards.

To view The Catholic Leader article ‘Changing the ending’ – Why the Red Rose Foundation wants Australia to talk about domestic violence in full click here.

Red Rose founder Betty Taylor and Dr Gracelyn Smallwood. Phot: Martin Pouwelse. Image source: The Catholic Leader.

Quantifying myocardial inflammation

Dr Jessica O’Brien is a cardiologist and PhD student at Monash University and Alfred Health. Dr O’Brien received an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Award from the Heart Foundation for her project Quantifying myocardial inflammation in acute rheumatic fever (ARF) and rheumatic heart disease (RHD). This grant is focused on capacity building and increasing Indigenous representation at all levels of research. Dr O’Brien will use cardiac magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to identify myocardial inflammation (inflammation of the heart muscle) in ARF. The aim is to improve diagnostic accuracy and the ability to predict who is most likely to progress to RHD.

By being able to diagnose acute rheumatic fever early, this will help to improve access to effective medications (antibiotics) to prevent infection. The overall goal is to help reduce the impact of rheumatic heart disease in Australia. Dr O’Brien says, “Because of my background, I have always been interested in Indigenous health, but it wasn’t until I started medical specialist training that I saw the extent of the gap in health outcomes between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians. One of the many contributors to this issue is that there are not enough Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health professionals and researchers, which is important to ensure Indigenous people can receive culturally appropriate, best practice care.”

To view the Heart Foundation article Q&A with Dr Jessica O’Brien in full click here.

Dr Jessica O’Brien. Image source: The Heart Foundation website.

Jalngangurru Health Trial

Cultural (traditional) healing can be used to address physical ailments, social and emotional wellbeing, mental health issues, drug dependence and culture bound syndromes (e.g. being sung). There are varied forms of healing practices from the Kimberley including mabarn, bush medicinal products, the smoking of various woods and leaves, the use of ochre and ceremonial songs, palliative care and child and maternal health.

The Jalngangurru Healing model is being trialled in Derby and Fitzroy Crossing with 19 healers currently registered. The model will enable the healers to be compensated for their work, with cultural safety and security embedded in the model, and will enable the safe keeping of knowledge for future generations. The trial is open until mid December 2022.

Jalngangurru Healing, formerly known as the Traditional Healing Practices Pilot (THPP) is a project managed by the Yiriman Project in partnership with Emama Nguda Aboriginal Corporation, auspiced by the Kimberley Law and Culture Centre (KALACC), funded by the WA Primary Health Alliance (WAPHA), supported by the Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Service (KAMS) and it is being evaluated by Notre Dame University’s Nulungu Research Centre.

You can access Jalngangurru Healing Trial Explainer here and a Jalngangurru Healing Trial Poster here.

Photos: John Reed. Image source: 2022 Jalngangurru Healing.

Winnunuga News August 2022 edition

The August 2022 edition of Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health and Community Services newsletter Winnunga News is now available here. This edition includes a CEO Update and a range of articles including:

  • ACT Budget Leaves Health Behind
  • Poverty in the ACT?
  • AMC Under The Spotlight
  • August Anniversary Events
  • Julie’s Tough Turning Point: Sober Up or Kill Yourself
  • Report Into Death of Detainee at AMC Identifies Serious Shortcomings
  • Keira Brown v. Director General of the Justice and Community Safety Directorate
  • Maconochie’s Experiment
  • COVID-19 and Influenza Update

Sector Jobs

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

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

 

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: This is not about money, profit or turf

The Pixabay image in the feature tile is from the ABC News article Pharmacist prescription trial proposed as possible solution to the GP shortage faces indefinite delays, 23 August 2022.

This is not about money, profit or turf

Dr Jillann Farmer, a Brisbane-based GP and former Medical Director of the United Nations has written an article for the Medical Journal of Australia’s InSight arguing that when something looks simple, it can deceptively create a sense that the work is simple. The ease with which health professionals exercise heuristic skills to rapidly synthesise patient demographic and social circumstances, comorbid conditions, pathology and epidemiology and arrive at a diagnosis and treatment choice make that expertise largely invisible and has likely contributed to an overall perception that most of what GPs do is simple and can be safely and appropriately done by alterative health professionals with significantly less training and experience. Some of the work GPs do absolutely can be done by others. But the health system needs those decisions to be informed by actual expert practitioners.

The North Queensland pharmacy trial, an election promise of the Palaszczuk government, followed on the urinary tract infection (UTI) treatment trial/pilot which allowed patients to present to a pharmacy and be dispensed antibiotics for a UTI. There have been significant concerns expressed about the diagnostic acumen of pharmacists in this space – prescribing based on symptoms alone. GPs do the same if we treat a UTI by telehealth, but for most, that is the exception, not the standard.

The UTI program seems to have emboldened the Queensland Government, and the North Queensland Pharmacy Trial was born. The proposal could cut doctors (not just GPs, but all doctors) out of decisions to diagnose and initiate prescription medicines of some pretty significant diseases. Hypertension and diabetes were on the original list where pharmacists would be able to diagnose and prescribe. The details of the proposals are not public domain, but within current funding frameworks, it seems almost impossible that pharmacists would be able to implement current guidelines for appropriate care to the same standard as doctors.

It is of particular concern that the trial was proposed for a region of Queensland where Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are a significant proportion of the population. So we target an already disadvantaged population and substitute care that cuts them off from recommended diagnostic and management capabilities. It is no wonder that NACCHO expressed opposition to the trial.

To view the InSight+ article Give GPs problems to solve, not election promises in full click here.

Image source: RACGP newsGP webiste.

What a male midwife learnt in Arnhem Land

It was a dry Thursday afternoon in Arnhem Land, NT, when young mum Tanisha’s [name changed for privacy] waters broke at just 23 weeks of gestation. Approximately 417 kms from the nearest hospital, an aircraft and doctor chaperone were flown in to her remote Aboriginal community within a few hours of the call for medical evacuation. But Tanisha felt anything but relief when her medical retrieval arrived. The doctor disembarking the aircraft was a man, and in her Aboriginal culture it is taboo for men — including medical practitioners — to interact with women about ‘women’s business’.

In an interesting plot twist, however, Tanisha requested for her male midwife Christian Wright to come with her and be present for the birth. Aside from being one of just 448 men to be working in midwifery in Australia (1.6% of the total workforce) Christian is no ordinary practitioner. Recognising the sensitivities around men and women’s interactions in Aboriginal culture, Christian has always thought outside the box about how he can make his patients feel comfortable.

His trust building with Tanisha began early in the antenatal process, when he learnt the local language and used cultural linguistic cues to convey empathy and earn trust. “Speaking to people ‘in language’ is a great way to help them feel culturally safe. In some Aboriginal cultures though, there are other important linguistic considerations,” he said. “For example, when discussing taboo subjects, like women’s health, men should use alternative, almost euphemistic, variations to formal language, to minimise embarrassment.”

To view the Hospital and Healthcare article What I’ve learned as a male midwife in Arnhem Land in full click here.

Midwife Christian Wright. Image source: ABC Conversations Radio National Twitter.

Must be more than a day of checking in

In 2019 WA Coroner Ros Fogliani delivered the results of her inquest into the deaths of 13 children and young people in the Kimberley. The report is incredibly distressing to read and hollows you out with every page you turn. 13 Aboriginal children and young people who died as a result of hanging, with all bar one considered definite suicide (the other being an open finding). The Coroner explained in meticulous detail the cycle of violence, inter-generational trauma, complexities of distance and circumstances which saw the premature death of 13 people aged between 10 and 24 years of age.

What desolate desperation these children and young people must have faced, with hope so lost, that they thought the only solution was suicide. Case 12 was a young man, part of the Wungu community, born in 1994 and he died at age 20. Growing up his health was very poor, at 18 months of age he was presented to Katherine Hospital with anaemia, gastro and abscess so bad it required surgical intervention. At age six, he was referred to a child psychologist where he stated that he wanted to kill himself. Age six. In his mid-teens he witnessed multiple incidents of domestic violence between his parents.

Last Friday was R U OK? Day.If you asked an Indigenous person that question, the chances are that things are pretty tough. In truth we need to move beyond a single day of checking in (which is the real message of RUOK? Day) because if we’re ever going to start making positive change and turning the tide of suicide, it’ll only be a concerted and constant effort of talk the hard truths and face our struggles together.

To view the National Indigenous Times article Things can be tough for Indigenous people. RUOK Day needs to start a conversation for change in full click here.

Photo: Emily Jane Smith. Image source: ABC News.

Milestone contract to deliver GP training

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) has signed a milestone contract with the federal Health Department to deliver GP training in Australia from 1 February 2023. It is the largest medical vocational training contract entered into in history by an Australian Government. The signing of the contract comes after the transition of GP training back to Australia’s specialist medical colleges, the RACGP and Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine (ACRRM), was announced in October 2017 by then federal Health Minister Greg Hunt.

RACGP President Adj. Professor Karen Price welcomed the signing of the contract, “Just as general practice is integral to our health system, GP training is fundamentally important to provide our next generation of GPs, who will care for our communities into the future. We are working to make this a seamless transition, with as little disruption to the delivery of GP training as possible. We are also working closely with numerous stakeholders to make this happen, including the Department of Health, peak bodies representing GP supervisors and registrars, the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation or NACCHO, rural workforce agencies and clinical schools, primary health networks, state health organisations, local hospitals and community health services, the list goes on.”

To view the medianet article RACGP welcomes milestone contract to deliver GP training in Australia in full click here.

Dr Tarun Patel trained as a GP in the NT and worked at Wurli Wurlinjan, an Aboriginal Medical Service in Katherine. Image source: ACRRM website.

‘Empathy’ key in dementia care

Nearly 500, 000 Australians are living with dementia. Its most common form, Alzheimer’s disease, is set to cost $26.6 billion over the next 20 years. Dementia, a degenerative brain disease, affects thinking, behaviour and the ability to perform everyday tasks, interfering with a person’s normal social or working life. First nations’ voices have rarely been heard on dementia care and health services have not always been developed with Indigenous people in mind.

Speaking at the two-day International Dementia Conference 2022 in Sydney last week former Olympian and federal senator Nova Peris – the first Aboriginal woman elected to federal parliament – said dementia care for Indigenous Australians needed to draw on best practice overseas and Indigenous consultation. “Don’t try and reinvent the wheel, look to world’s best practice … acknowledging and respecting the work that’s already been done in the first nations space,” Ms Peris said. She urged the aged care sector to have empath front and centre when caring for Indigenous people with dementia. “Empathy having that understanding of that person’s life and the care that you provide for them, makes them happy,” the former federal politician said.

To view the HealthTimes article ‘Empathy’ key in Indigenous dementia care in full click here. You can also read a related AgedCare News article IDC2022: our wrap-up of a conference promising a Brave New World ahead in full here.

Bidyadanga residents with dementia are supported by workers at the community care centre. From left: Angelina Nanudie, Zarena Richards, Rosie Spencer and Faye Dean. Photo: Erin Parke, ABC Kimberley.

Strengh-based approach to kids’ health needed

First Nations children represent the future of the world’s oldest continuing culture. Of the 66,000 Victorians who identified as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander in the 2021 Census, one-third were aged under 15 years. First Nations children in Victoria are doing well in several health outcomes, a recent Aboriginal Data and Action on Prevention Together (ADAPT) report, available here, has found. This report provides valuable insight into nutrition, physical activity and wellbeing among First Nations children living in regional Victoria.

The survey found more than 300 First Nations primary school children were meeting guidelines for physical activity, healthy eating and screen time. Those who met these guidelines also had higher health-related quality of life. However, the study is rare. Before the report, there was no information available about nutrition and physical activity among primary school-aged First Nations children in Victoria.

To examine First Nations childrens’ health, Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal researchers from Deakin University partnered with the Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (VACCHO), the peak body representing Victoria’s Aboriginal community-controlled health sector. VACCHO’s nutrition team works to improve food security and nutrition outcomes among Aboriginal communities across Victoria.

To view The Conversation article Rather than focusing on the negative, we need a strength-based way to approach First Nations childrens’ health in full click here.

Aboriginal childrens’ health data needs to steer away from negative focuses by balancing the findings with respective community’s progresses. Photo: Dan Peled, AAP. Image source: The Conversation.

Indigenous-led research positions

The University of Melbourne Indigenous Studies Unit, Melbourne School of Population and Global Health, Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences has two positions available:

Postdoctoral Research Fellow – Indigenous Studies

This is an exciting opportunity to become involved in leading Indigenous health research with a passionate and dedicated team. We are seeking a highly motivated Postdoctoral Research Fellow with a research background in qualitative and/or mixed methods research, particularly using action research approaches. As a member of the NHMRC funded ‘Improving understandings of and responses to alcohol-related family violence for Aboriginal people’ team, the successful applicant is expected to contribute to independent and team-based research aiming to develop the evidence base of alcohol misuse and family violence within Indigenous communities using innovative theoretical and methodological approaches, combining theories of medical anthropology, social network analysis (SNA) and Indigenous Studies.

The successful applicant will be expected to contribute to the development of high-quality research projects and play a key role in the production of outstanding quality outputs. The successful applicant will also contribute to the supervision of honours, Masters and/or PhD students. Indigenous Australians are strongly encouraged to apply for this position.

For more information about the position and details of how to apply click here.

Research Fellow – Indigenous Data Network

The Indigenous Data Network (IDN) is seeking a highly motivated Research Fellow with a background in quantitative and/or mixed methods research, with experience in data linkage. The IDN is a national consortium of organisations and individuals led by the University of Melbourne, within the Indigenous Studies Unit, Centre for Health Equity, Melbourne School of Population & Global Health. The Research Fellow will be expected to make significant contributions to existing projects and to the development or extension of new, innovative research.

The Research Fellow will work with the IDN leadership team to drive Indigenous data ecosystems transformation, and to develop and undertake ongoing community-led research and national and international engagement. The role will include significant engagement and governance activities with key stakeholders including universities, Federal, State and Local Governments, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations and communities, and private and non-profit organisations.

For more information about the position and details of how to apply click here.

Students from the University of Melbourne Indigenous Knowledge Institute. Image source: University of Melbourne website.

Sector Jobs

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Pat Turner attends Jobs and Skills Summit

The image in the feature tile is of NACCHO CEO and Lead Convener Coalition of Peaks, Pat Turner AM. Image source: The Conversation, 10 June 2020.

Pat Turner attends Jobs and Skills Summit

NACCHO CEO and Lead Convener Coalition of Peaks, Pat Turner AM is one of 143 representatives attending the Australian Government’s Jobs and Skills Summit 2022 today in Canberra. The two-day event, being led by PM Anthony Albanese and Treasurer Dr Jim Chalmers, will bring together business, unions, industry and state and territory political leaders for an intensive discussion about the economic challenges within Australia’s labour market.

Earlier last month Pat Turner gave the keynote address at the Congress of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Nurses and Midwives (CATSINaM) National Conference where she commented on workforce issues with the sector “Demand is outstripping supply of suitably skilled and job ready Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander employees. We are experiencing workforce shortages across the sector and this shortage is already impacting access to culturally appropriate services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people nationally.”

“Moreover, without an overall increase in the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people participating in the workforce, services will be competing for workers who are a limited resource across all health and care sectors. Increasing the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander nurses, midwives and other clinical staff is critical to help ensure culturally safe care for our people. To effectively support growing demand, we need to leverage the current ACCHO workforce and draw from local communities to build a multi-disciplinary care workforce that includes both cultural and clinical experts.”

You can read The Sydney Morning Herald article The snap guide to the jobs and skills summit here.

Jobs and Skills Summit 2022. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen. Image source: Financial Review.

Hearing loss mistaken for misbehaviour

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children experience ear disease – fluid build ups, perforated eardrums and ear infections that can impair hearing – more frequently than most populations in the world. Rates are 8.5 times as highas for non-Indigenous children in Australia. Early childhood development related to speech, language and learning, relies heavily on being able to hear. The consequences of poor hearing can greatly disadvantage a child in the classroom, in the criminal justice system and cause delays in other medical diagnoses.

Caregivers of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children have described how ear disease and hearing loss can easily be mistaken for misbehaviour.  Letitia Campbell, Aboriginal Research Officer, School of Medicine, Western Sydney University has found that a strong relationship of respect, collaboration and information-sharing between the caregiver and health professionals is a key component to successfully navigating ear disease.

To view The Conversation article More Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children have ear and hearing problems – and it’s easy to mistake for bad behaviour in full click here.

Audiologist Arveen Kaur tests the hearing of Jackson Wellington in Nowra. Photo: Rhett Wyman. Image source: The Sydney Morning Herald.

Politics can’t be separated from health

A new discussion paper, Indigenous Nation Building and the Political Determinants of Health and Wellbeing, available here, has been published this week by the Lowitja Institute in partnership with Jumbunna Institute for Indigenous Education and Research at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS). Led by Professor Daryle Rigney, a citizen of the Ngarrindjeri Nation, the paper demonstrates that self-governance and self-determination through nation building results in improved health outcomes for Indigenous peoples.

According to Adjunct Professor Janine Mohamed, CEO of the Lowitja Institute, and Senior Policy Officer Jessica Szwarcbord “Those working in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health sector have always known that politics cannot be separated from health. Our peoples have a holistic, collectivist worldview. We understand that individual and collective health and social and emotional wellbeing relates to cultural, social, and political determinants and that health and wellbeing sit within a complex constellation of factors that cannot be separated. There are inextricable links between our collective and individual health and wellbeing, our governance, self-determination and nation building as First Nations Peoples.”

To view the Croakey Health Media article Harnessing the power of nation building to strengthen Indigenous health and wellbeing in full click here.

Artwork by Tom Day, citizen of the Gunditjmara people, features on the cover of the new discussion paper, Indigenous National Building and the Political Determinants of Health and Wellbeing. Published with permission of Lowitja Institute in Croakey Health Media.

First new kidney treatment in 20 years

Lachlan Ross describes his more than a decade-long battle with kidney failure as “very long, and very hard.” The 54-year-old from the NT remote community of Lajamanu has been lucky enough to receive a kidney transplant, meaning he no longer has to receive thrice-weekly dialysis treatments. But, he said chronic kidney disease — which Indigenous residents of remote Central Australia are up to 30 times more likely to suffer from — has no quick fix. “You get [a] transplant doesn’t make you any better you know because you’ve still got the hard work of looking after yourself and the transplant and that’s what a lot of people don’t understand, they think a kidney is a cure, it’s not.”

Mr Ross now works as a mentor for others living with kidney disease at Darwin dialysis centre The Purple House, where Assistant Minister for Indigenous Health Malarndirri McCarthy announced yesterday that people with the disease would now have more affordable access to a drug which slows its progression. The drug dapagliflozin, also known as Forxiga, is already used to treat diabetes and heart failure, but will now also be available to people with kidney disease under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme. It would have previously cost renal patients more than $700 a year, with the expansion of the scheme meaning it will now cost $42.50 per script, or $6.80 for people with a concession card.

To view the ABC News article Kidney disease drug dapagliflozin added to Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme in full click here.

Lachlan Ross says remote Indigenous Territorians need to be educated about kidney disease. Photo: Dane Hirst, ABC News.

VACCHO supports Food Fight! Campaign

An Australia Institute poll released this week has found high levels of public support for bans on television advertising of unhealthy products and services, including junk foods, alcohol and gambling.  When Asherly Bradac asks her four young children how they would like to spend their pocket money, they respond with a resounding “slurpee”. When she asks where they want to go on a special outing, they say “McDonalds” or “Hungry Jacks”. These are likely familiar scenarios for many families inundated by advertising of unhealthy food and drinks.

Bradac is a keen supporter of the Food Fight! campaign, led by Cancer Council Victoria, to raise awareness of unhealthy food and drink advertising in places where children spend time.  The campaign is building community support for action to stop harmful advertising on government-owned assets such as public transport and within 500 metres of schools. According to Jane Martin, Executive Manager Obesity Program Cancer Council Victoria the campaign has garnered the support of more than 30 community, public health and other groups and over 10,000 individuals who have signed an online statement.

The Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (VACCHO) is one supports the Food Fight! Campaign, and through a bold project called FoodPATH (Food Policies for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health), has been working to empower Aboriginal communities across Victoria to determine the actions needed to promote good nutrition and healthier food environments in their local communities.

To view the Croakey Health Media article How this campaign is fighting to end unhealthy advertising to children in full click here.

New lease on life after Hep C cure

Debbie Robinson is enjoying a new lease on life after being cured of hepatitis C. Now the proud Worimi woman is urging other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to get tested even if they have no symptoms. Ms Robinson completed the 8-12 week treatment program at Gandangara Health Service in Liverpool. “I had a blood test, the doctor told me I had hepatitis C and I felt numb.

“Then the doctor told me I had 10 years to live. I went to Gandangara and they helped me to access treatment right away,’’ Ms Robinson said. “If it wasn’t for Gandangara, I wouldn’t be here. I wouldn’t have done anything about it because I felt healthy. “I felt supported every step of the way at Gandangara. “I’m cured and have a long life ahead of me. I’m proud of myself and my family is proud of me too.’’

To view the South West Voice article Health district bid to eliminate hepatitis C in full click here.

Debbie Robinson. Image source: South West Voice.

WA emerging as hub for eye health

WA is rapidly becoming known as‎ a global centre for research excellence in ocular‎ disease, thanks to a ‘trifecta’ collaboration ‎between Lions Eye Institute (LEI), Curtin University,‎ and University of WA (UWA). To encourage more young optometrists to provide primary care in rural WA, where unmet eye care is particularly prevalent, a team led by Professor Garry Fitzpatrick, has developed a placement program that will see third year students spend significant time working in clinics and on research programs from ‘hub and spoke’ health care models in Broome and Geraldton. Students will gain experience working alongside optometrists and ophthalmologists on outreach programs, with local Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations (ACCHOs) and in other community allied health settings.

Professor Fitzpatrick hopes the placement program will provide students with a “very real experience” that increases their awareness of rural and remote eye care needs. He explained that evidence shows students who are exposed and trained in rural settings are more likely to return to practise in these settings.

To read the mivision article Western Australia: An Emerging Hub for Eye Health in full click here.

Image source: SBS NITV website.

TGA committee applications CLOSE Sunday

Applications for the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA)’s statutory advisory committee vacancies will CLOSE at 11:30 PM this Sunday 4 September 2022.

They are seeking applications from professionals with expertise in relevant medical or scientific fields or consumer health issues to support our function as a best practice regulator. Committee members contribute significantly towards the TGA’s regulatory functions by providing independent expert advice relating to the regulation of medicines, devices, vaccines and other products and substances.  The statutory advisory committees are:

  • Advisory Committee on Biologicals
  • Advisory Committee on Medicines
  • Advisory Committee on Vaccines
  • Advisory Committee on Complementary Medicines
  • Advisory Committee on Medical Devices
  • Advisory Committee on Chemicals Scheduling
  • Advisory Committee on Medicines Scheduling

Committee members do not have full-time duties – some committees meet monthly, with others meeting up to three times a year.  Members are remunerated in accordance with the principles and rates set by the Remuneration Tribunal (Remuneration and Allowances for Holders of Part-time Public Office) Determination.

You can find further information regarding the statutory advisory committees on the Australian Government Department of Health and Aged Care website here along with the requirements for applying here and a flyer here. Further enquiries can be made by email here.

Sector Jobs

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: NT PHC workforce crisis – biggest ever

Image in the feature tile is from a video NT chief minister attacks ‘international trolls’ for spreading Covid misinformation published in The Guardian on 25 November 2021.

NT PHC workforce crisis – biggest ever

As critical primary healthcare clinics are forced to close for some weeks in Central Australia due to the pandemic’s impact upon staffing, health leaders are calling for ‘vaccines-plus’ strategies to check COVID transmission, as well as better support for and investment in the Aboriginal health workforce. A leading public health expert has urged governments to do more to tackle the COVID pandemic in the wake of a related workforce crisis forcing the closure of important primary healthcare (PHC) clinics in Central Australia, with worrying implications for the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

The Central Australian Aboriginal Congress (Congress) made the decision to close each of their five town clinics for one day each week from the beginning of August until the end of the month to help manage a shortage of healthcare staff. Congress delivers services to more than 16,000 Aboriginal people living in Mparntwe/Alice Springs and remote communities across Central Australia, including Ltyentye Apurte (Santa Teresa), Ntaria (Hermannsburg), Wallace Rockhole, Utju (Areyonga), Mutitjulu and Amoonguna as well as many visitors.

Dr John Boffa, Chief Medical Officer Public Health at Congress is concerned recent major gains made in life expectancy for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the NT will be reversed without urgent efforts to fix the Territory’s current PHC crisis. “Basically, we’ve got the biggest workforce crisis we’ve ever had now,” Boffa said.

To view the Croakey Health Media article As COVID reduces Aboriginal health services in Central Australia, health leaders call for action in full click here.

Drone photo of Mparntwe/Alice Springs. Phot: Mike Bowers. Image source: The Guardian.

Meaningful health reform suggestions

In a recent Croakey Health Media article health professionals have explored some of the key health reform challenges facing the Federal Government and offered some ways forward, based on appreciation of the importance of addressing health inequities, the needs of patients, and strengthening critical relationships. They say a number of factors combine to deliver an Australian health system that is “universal” in name only, where those with resources can buy access to the care they need but where too many of those who need it most miss out.

Many of these “design faults” have a compounding impact on population groups who already experience the most disadvantage such as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and people with disabilities, living in rural and remote areas and with low incomes. The resulting situation is a clear example of the “inverse care law”: the principle that the availability of good medical or social care tends to vary inversely with the need of the population served. Reversing this situation will only be possible if at least some of these structural problems are addressed, in addition to increasing overall resourcing for primary healthcare and addressing workforce shortages.

Lessons, the article authors say, can be learnt from existing examples of community-based approaches to chronic disease in Australia and internationally. These include the Aboriginal Community Controlled sector, community health centres like co-health and rural health services, which often provide a more integrated and multidisciplinary approach than urban areas.

To view the Croakey Health Media article Amid competing agendas and priorities, some suggestions for ways forward for meaningful health reform in full click here.

Darren Braun is an Aboriginal Health Worker trainee at Danila Dilba in Palmerston, Darwin. Photo: Emilia Terzon. ABC News.

Caring for our mob, in health and wellbeing

Across Australia, the consumption of alcohol and other drugs (AOD) continues to cause a greater burden of disease within Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities than in the non-Aboriginal population. In the Eastern Metropolitan Region of Melbourne, two EACH programs located in Ferntree Gully – the Ngarrang Gulinj-al Boordup Aboriginal Health and Wellbeing Team (AHWT) and Project HOPE/THRIVE – have been successfully working together to provide wrap-around services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community members with alcohol, tobacco and other drugs (ATOD) concerns. Anecdotal evidence suggests that such collaborative care keeps clients with complex issues engaged, supported and hopeful along their recovery journey.

The Ngarrang Gulinj-al Boordup “Caring for our Mob, in health and wellbeing” report uses a case study approach to explore and develop a rich understanding of the key elements underpinning the collaborative model of care between EACH’s Ngarrang Gulinj-al Boordup AHWT and its HOPE/THRIVE program of federally-funded AOD support. This includes relationships and trust; good communication and frequent contacts; colocation of multiple services; supported transport; flexibility and responsiveness; a team-oriented, family-centric and holistic approach to AOD misuse, health and wellbeing; and operationalizing a philosophy emphasizing welcome attitude, empathy and hope. Three real-life client stories are presented in the report, in order to reveal what this collaborative model looks and feels like, from the perspective of those benefiting from it.

To access the Ngarrang Gulinj-al Boordup “Caring for our Mob, in health and wellbeing” report click here.

NE Arnhem Land health lab on wheels

Chronic diseases – such as diabetes and heart disease – cause suffering for thousands of Australians, both Indigenous and non-Indigenous. The Menzies School of Health Research is letting people experience the effects of long-term diseases before they get sick. HealthLAB – a clinic on wheels – lets people see heart and kidney ultrasounds, hear their heart beating, and try on ‘alcohol goggles’ that mimic raised blood alcohol levels. An award-winning interactive Time Machine app completes the picture – literally – by showing how those choices affect appearance.

HealthLAB travels to locations around Darwin and Northeast Arnhem Land, giving locals the opportunity to talk to a range of scientists and health professionals about the science behind the inner workings of the human body, the technology behind the equipment they use, and exciting future careers in science.

To view the medianet. News for Business article An AI ‘Time Machine’ and a health lab on wheels – Northeast Arnhem Land, NT in full click here.

Image source: Menzies HealthLAB Facebook page.

Increasing odds GPs will work rurally

New research which links the amount of training time spent in rural areas with the odds of GPs working in rural and remote areas has been published in the American Journal of Graduate Medical Education. The study addresses an urgent need to understand how to increase the likelihood of junior doctors choosing to practice as GPs in rural or remote areas. The paper titled: Family Medicine Residencies: How Rural Training Exposure in GME Is Associated With Subsequent Rural Practice, shows that when junior doctors do their GP training in rural and remote areas they are more likely to subsequently decide to work in rural areas.

While other research has previously identified associations between rural training – particularly as a medical student – and subsequent rural practice, this study showed that as the amount of rural GP training of junior doctors increased, so did their likelihood of rural practice. Lead author, Menzies Senior Research Fellow Dr Deborah Russell, said that in the US, where this study was undertaken, almost all (91%) junior doctors training to be GPs have no rural training, leaving enormous scope for government policy to increase rural training opportunities for junior doctors. The findings of this US study are relevant for ensuring that enough Australian GPs choose to work in rural and remote areas of Australia.

To view the Menzies School of Health Research media release Increasing the amount of training time in rural areas increased the odds that GPs work rurally in full click here.

Image source: RACGP newsGP.

ACT Rising Woman of Spirit award winner

The Lifeline Canberra Women of Spirit Awards, announced yesterday, recognise women who have overcome adversity and gone on to make a positive contribution to our community, while inspiring others to do the same. A young Indigenous woman, Rachel Fishlock, who was a child carer for her mother who had mental health complexities, was honoured with the Rising Woman of Spirit award.

From the age of 12, Rachel became a full-time career for her single mum, who had severe mental health complications, and experienced systemic neglect during her mother’s frequent and prolonged hospitalisations. Through sheer determination, Rachel completed high school, and went on to found a successful international business, Lunar the Label. She closed this to pursue university education, graduating with a degree in social sciences in 2018 and has since earned a Master of Business Management.

A Yuin woman from Nowra NSW, Rachel now works in Canberra at Gayaa Dhuwi (Proud Spirit), the national peak body for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander social and emotional wellbeing, mental health and suicide prevention. Today, Rachel continues to push for policy reforms to ensure other child carers do not experience the neglect that she did.

To view the Riotact article ‘Leaving the world in better shape than they found it’ – meet the winners of Lifeline’s Women of Spirit Awards in full click here.

Indigenous HealthInfoNet calls for papers

The Journal of the Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet (formerly the HealthBulletin Journal) has been published online since 2020. In that time, it has received over 6,500 downloads, in 62 countries and 230 institutions around the world. You are being invited to submit an article to this rapidly growing publication.

Papers are being sought from researchers and practitioners that address key issues in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health. Our goal is to provide high quality information that is timely, accessible and relevant to support the everyday practice of those in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health sector workforce.

As of 27 June this year one of the most popular papers published by the Journal of the Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet was Culturally Safe and Integrated Primary Health Care: A Case Study of Yerin Eleanor Duncan Aboriginal Health Services’ Holistic Model, available here.

You find more information here and visit the Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet journal here to submit your work. All submissions are subject to double blind peer review.

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.