NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: NACCHO welcomes aged care funding

Image in feature tile is from The Daily Beacon.

NACCHO welcomes aged care funding

Yesterday The Hon Anika Wells MP, Minister for Aged Care and Senator the Hon Malarndirri McCarthy, Assistant Minister for Indigenous Australians issued a joint media release Support for First Nations Elders to Access Aged Care available here. In response NACCHO has issued the following media statement:

NACCHO welcomes the funding for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Aged Care Workforce

The National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) welcomes the announcement from Minister for Aged Care, Anika Wells, on the $86 million funding support for the Trusted Indigenous Facilitator–Aged Care Workforce program.

Pat Turner AM, NACCHO CEO said, ‘We are grateful to receive this investment that will help us deliver much better outcomes for our Elders. Over the life of the program, we will see 250 staff, predominately drawn from local communities, onboarded across our sector nationally to support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elders.’

The ACCHO sector are best placed to deliver this program because, ‘We have worked with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities for decades on matters that are important to our people and are best placed to represent areas like health, aged care, early childhood, education, land and legal services,’ stated Pat Turner.

‘The program will be developed and implemented in genuine partnership, where equal weight is given to the sector’s voice at the table alongside that of governments and agencies, ensuring equal decision-making authority with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. This aligns with our goals in the National Agreement of Closing the Gap, to improve outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.’

Overseeing the program will be our established NACCHO Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Aged Care Advisory group consisting of Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations (ACCHOs) nationally who are currently involved in aged care or wanting to become a provider. This group will be responsible for advising NACCHO on implementing the program, including informing the development of a model of care, service linkages, and workforce training requirements.

You can view the NACCHO media statement NACCHO welcomes the funding for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Aged Care Workforce on the NACCHO website here.

Image source: 3 Bridges Community websie.

NITV Big Mob Brekky host NACCHO CEO

Earlier this morning NACCHO CEO Pat Turner appeared on NITV’s Big Mob Brekky show, providing an update on COVID-19 and urging people to get their vaccines and/or booster shots as well as a flu shot. Ms Turner also reflected on what the theme of this year’s NAIDOC Week means to her.

Humour to destigmatise palliative care 

Indigenous comedian Sean Choolburra is the voice behind a new Queensland University of Technology (QUT)-led animation series that uses humour to help demystify and destigmatise palliative care and dying for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. The QUT-based Indigenous Program of Experience in Palliative Approach (IPEPA) developed the animations to educate and entertain communities and health professionals in a grass-roots way about palliative care, serious illness, grief, feelings and pain management.

The IPEPA project director, Distinguished Professor Patsy Yates is a world-renown nurse and recognised leader in palliative care research said content for the IPEPA animations was led by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and drew on cultural strengths and perspectives. “Using humour to communicate about dying was a risk, but communities let us know it played an important role in their resilience and was the best way to engage people,” Professor Yates said.

You can view the Queensland University of Technology article Humour used to destigmatise death and promote community healing here. As well the video below on pain management you can view four other videos available here.

Rapper Adam Briggs on NAIDOC Week theme

Rapper Adam Briggs said “I was thinking about the slogan they’ve got [for NAIDOC Week] this year – the theme ‘Get Up! Stand Up! Show Up!’ For me, it’s a reminder that we can’t be complacent. Many blackfellas have been doing this fight and this work for a lot longer than I’ve been alive, so I’m not allowed to be tired yet. It’s not about fighting all the time, but it’s about support and get up, stand up and show up for ourselves and for each other.”

NAIDOC Week encourages all Australians to engage with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, to acknowledge our history and to realise that acknowledgement is a crucial unifier. “I think a lot of the willingness to not engage with it, that White Australia has, comes from the top-down – it’s that Howard-era of ‘I refuse to look at the past with a black armband’, and so that tells people ‘that’s not my fault, why should I have to do anything?’” said Briggs.

Briggs continued, “It’s like ‘Mate, I’m not asking you to go and volunteer or give up your time’, but acknowledge – wholeheartedly and truthfully – what went on and how this manifested and how we’re here and what that disadvantage is. For the regular Joe, it might not be your job to close the gap on Indigenous health; these are complex, sophisticated issues, but acknowledgement that it’s an issue and that the people, whose job that is, should be doing something about it and fixing it. For the average Karen or Darren on the street, I’m not asking you to fix it – I’m asking you to understand that it’s an issue, wholeheartedly and truthfully.”

To view the Beat article Briggs: ‘It’s not about fighting all the time, it’s about support’ in full click here.

Rapper Adam Briggs. Image source: Beat.

Period care product access needed for all

In Australia, most states have introduced initiatives to provide people who menstruate with free period care products in public schools. However, there is value in enhancing the program by providing reusable products to reduce waste to landfill, by educating boys and other students who don’t menstruate, and tailoring this initiative appropriately for remote and Indigenous People who menstruate.

Australia has come a long way since The Conversation published an article in 2017 article about Indigenous girls potentially missing school in remote communities each month due to a range of period care challenges. The article began an important and ongoing Indigenous health collaboration towards ensuring all Indigenous and remote people who menstruate have access to information and products every month.

To view The Mandarin article Free period care products in Queensland schools is just a first step. Remote communities need access to these items as well in full click here.

Young girls learning about how to manage their menstrual cycles with confidence. Photo: Central Australian Youth Link Up Service. Image source: ABC News website.

UON students experience cultural immersion

A University of Newcastle (UON) scholarship program looks very different this year, with students swapping China for cultural immersion in Indigenous Australia. UON has run since 2018 the Ma and Morley Scholarship Program, which aims to provide students with an eye-opening and life-changing opportunity to travel.

Previously this has been to China, but this has not been possible for the past three years due to COVID-19. Instead, the 2020 scholars left Newcastle on Monday for Broken Hill, for a trip that will focus on Aboriginal connections to people, place and spirituality or purpose. Wiradjuri man and UON Pro Vice Chancellor of Indigenous Strategy and Leadership, Nathan Towney, said the trip showcases the commitment UON has to Aboriginal communities and to learning and respecting traditional culture.

To view the Newcastle Herald article University of Newcastle Ma and Morley Scholarship Program participants explore Indigenous Australia in full click here.

Images from University of Newcastle Ma and Morley Scholarship Program 2022. Image source: Newcastle Herald.

Unintended pregnancy data for mob missing

Yesterday The Medical Journal of Australia published an article about the need for data about the prevalence, experiences and outcomes of unintended pregnancy for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people (acknowledging that unintended does not necessarily mean unwanted), including issues relating to pregnancy intentions, decision making, and health care access.

Up to 40% of women in Australia have experienced an unintended pregnancy, which can be associated with suboptimal pre‐conception health behaviour and reproductive health care engagement and adverse maternal and neonatal outcomes. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women experience higher rates of pregnancy risk factors, adverse perinatal outcomes, and adolescent pregnancy compared with non‐Indigenous women. However, little is known about the prevalence and impact of unintended pregnancy among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women.

This knowledge gap must be addressed.  Meaningful engagement and collaboration with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and researchers are required to confirm priority issues, design culturally appropriate data collection processes, and achieve a nationally representative sample. Data sources such as those held by primary health care providers and Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations have an untapped potential to highlight the needs and priorities of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, should they be used with appropriate consultation and respect for Indigenous data sovereignty.

You can read The Medical Journal of Australia article Unintended pregnancy among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women: where are the data? in full here

Image source: MCWH website.

New process for job advertising

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: NACCHO congratulates ALP on election win

Image in the feature tile is of Australian opposition leader Anthony Albanese as he walks off the stage during a reception after winning the 2022 general election in Sydney. Image source: SBS NITV.

NACCHO congratulates ALP on election win

The National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) congratulates the Australian Labor Party for its win in the 2022 Federal election and looks forward to working with the incoming government in continuing to fight for improved outcomes in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health.

In particular, NACCHO welcomes the emphasis that Senator Penny Wong and Prime Minister elect, Anthony Albanese, gave to the Uluru Statement from the Heart in their victory speeches on election night. The Uluru Statement from the Heart sets out the way forward for all Australians in a process of genuine reconciliation. There must be no further delay in implementing a Voice to Parliament for First Nations peoples enshrined in the constitution.

The CEO of NACCHO, Pat Turner, speaking in Canberra, said, ‘NACCHO congratulates Linda Burney for her strong win in Barton. We are looking forward to seeing the first Aboriginal woman serve as Minister for Indigenous Australians and, presumably, in the new Albanese Cabinet.’

NACCHO also congratulates all the elected Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the new Parliament and thanks Ken Wyatt, the outgoing Minister for Indigenous Australians, for his contribution to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander affairs over the past three years.

NACCHO commits to working with the incoming government and the likely new Health Minister, Mark Butler, on the $111m package announced for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health.

The Chair of NACCHO, Donnella Mills, said at Cairns on Sunday, ‘The ALP’s package was a welcome pre-election announcement. It includes the 500 trainees for our ACCHOs and badly needed dialysis clinics. It also includes action in combatting rheumatic heart disease, a preventable disease that is killing so many of our children, needlessly. Our youths are 55 times more likely to die from rheumatic heart disease than other Australian youths. This must stop. The ALP’s funding commitment is a critical step.’

The ACCHO sector serves over 410,000 clients per year, delivering over 3.1 million episodes of care, of which 1 million are delivered in remote communities. Our clinics are favoured by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and are directly controlled by the communities they serve.

You can view the NACCHO congratulates the ALP media statement on NACCHO’s website here.

Image source: The Guardian.

It comes down to working together, differently

When the landmark National Agreement on Closing the Gap was signed in 2020, Pat Turner AM, lead convener of the Coalition of Peaks and CEO of NACCHO called for celebration – and hard work. “Today we celebrate this historic Agreement and those who fought hard to make it a reality,” said Turner, at the time. “But tomorrow, the true work begins when we start to implement its commitments within our communities.”

Tomorrow has well and truly arrived. And so, while we continue to applaud the intent of the agreement between federal, state/territory and local governments, and the Coalition of Peaks; it’s time to get down to work. There’s a shared understanding that working together should look different in 2022. Australian governments have committed to working in new ways with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people so they can achieve self-determination. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, meanwhile, have expressed a desire to work alongside governments to design and implement outcomes that are identified by – and with – Indigenous communities.

This new approach is not about changing Indigenous ways of knowing, being and doing. In fact, it’s about embracing them. This change is about governments and Indigenous communities finding ways to work in the ‘middle space’ together. It’s about collective decision-making and shared accountability. And it’s about common outcomes and positive change. The key, however, will be working differently.

To view the PwC’s Indigenous Consulting article Meeting in the middle: How governments and Indigenous communities can work together, differently published in The Mandarin in full click here.

Image source: The Mandarin.

What now for mob under Labor?

The National Indigenous Times editor, Tom Zaunmayr, has looked at what is in store for Indigenous Australians following Labor’s win in the 2022 Federal election. Zaunmayr says it is good news for First Nations people, as there will be a referendum on a Voice to Parliament enshrined in the constitution by 2025. By putting a nation-changing Indigenous policy front-and-centre of its campaign, Labor showed how serious it is about First Nations issues. The talk has been promising, now it is time for action. Suring up the Voice – how it will look, who will be involved and when the vote will happen is priority number one. Truth and treaty, the other two key elements of the Uluru Statement are as important to get to work on.

Bringing the Federal Government back to the table in funding remote housing is critical, and Labor now needs to follow through. Labor’s campaign policies on justice and deaths in custody were lacklustre and remain a point of concern. The money pledged for remote justice initiatives is chicken feed and is insufficient for one region, let alone the entire nation. The promise to bring a stronger Indigenous voice to deaths in custody cases lacks detail.

Climate action in the Torres Strait Islands remains a sticking point too. We heard plenty about long-term plans for a net-zero economy, but nothing about what will be done for communities being swallowed by the sea right now. Without short-term infrastructure fixes, the first climate refugees to mainland Australia may very well be our own Indigenous island nation inhabitants.

To view the National Indigenous Times article Labor has won the election and the Greens may have power. What now for Indigenous Australians? in full click here. You can view a related article ‘This will change Australia’: Linda Burney says Labor committed to Indigenous Voice published today in The Sydney Morning Herald here.

Incoming Indigenous Affairs Minister Linda Burney says Australia is ready for a referendum on a Voice to parliament. Photo: Brook Mitchell. Image source: The Sydney Morning Herald.

First Nations eating disorders research

Sydney’s first eating disorders research and translation centre offers nationwide grant opportunity to progress prevention, treatments and support in partnership with research, lived experience, clinical and community experts. The Australian Eating Disorders Research and Translation Centre, led by InsideOut Institute at the University of Sydney, focuses on risk and protective factors, very early intervention and individualised medicine as part of the top 10 research priorities identified in the National Eating Disorders Research and Translation Strategy 2021–31.

The Centre has launched the IgnitED Fund to unearth new ideas that have the potential to solve the problem of eating disorders. IgnitED offers grants of up to $25,000 to develop and test innovative ideas that have potential to improve outcomes for people with eating disorders and their loved ones. It is the Centre’s first funding initiative following the $13 million grant awarded in January to establish the new national centre.

According to the Centre’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Co-Lead, Leilani Darwin, First Nations Australians are believed to experience high rates of eating disorders, disordered eating and food insecurity issues. “The IgnitED Fund facilitates Indigenous innovation,” said Darwin. “For the first time, we are uniquely positioned to elevate the need to better understand the issue of eating disorders and to build the evidence and best practice for our communities.”

For further information and to apply for an IgnitED Fund grant ,visit The University of Sydney Faculty of Medicine and Health webpage National eating disorders centre ignites research fund for new solutions here.

WA bowel cancer screening campaign relaunch

Due to its great success, the Cancer Council WA recently relaunched its 2021 bowel cancer campaign on social media platforms to raise awareness of bowel cancer amongst the Aboriginal WA community. The campaign encourages eligible people to do the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program (NBCSP) home test. Bowel cancer is the third most common cancer affecting the Aboriginal Australian community but is one of the most treatable cancers if found early. Less than half of all eligible West Australians participate when they receive the home test kit which is designed to detect bowel cancer in its very early stages. When detected early, more than 90% of bowel cancers can be treated successfully.

The campaign shares social media tiles featuring local people who are keen to share the message about bowel screening with their communities and encourage more people to do the NBCSP test when they receive it in the mail. Cancer Council WA has teamed up with Mary G, an Aboriginal personality, educator, and radio presenter to raise awareness of bowel cancer amongst the Pilbara and Kimberley Aboriginal communities.  The campaign was developed in consultation with Aboriginal Health Council of Western Australia and Derbarl Yerrigan Health Service, with Aboriginal Medical Services, Elders, and Aboriginal staff from local clinics and organisations in the regions, including WA Country Health Service being consulted in the process.

You can access further information to the Cancer Council WA website here.

Irrkerlantye forgotton for 40 years

Nestled in the hills east of Alice Springs lies Irrkerlantye, a community in limbo. Irrkerlantye has none of the basic services the rest of Australia takes for granted: water is trucked in and a meagre power supply is provided by a few solar panels. There is no sewerage. The residents live in tin sheds and a few decaying demountables that offer little protection from Central Australia’s extreme desert temperatures.

Felicity Hayes has lived at Irrkerlantye most of her life. The stoic Elder is at her wit’s end, saying “We’ve been asking the government for housing and essential services this whole time, however nothing has been done to provide the most basic services that all people are entitled to. We just want people to come here and have a look and not sit in their offices all day and make decisions about us. They need to come here and talk to us because we’re the ones that are suffering.”

The only water supply to the community was cut in 2014 under a Country Liberal government and was never restored. At the time it was seen as an attempt to force the closure of Irrkerlantye. Felicity Hayes and her family could be facing another forty years forgotten on the fringes of one of the world’s most developed countries. “We’ve been fighting for forty years and we’ve got children, the next generation, and they’re still going to be living here” Ms Hayes said.

To view the SBS NITV article How governments have forgotten this NT community for 40 years click here.

Locals say Irrkerlantye has been ignored by all levels of government for decades. Image source: SBS NITV.

‘Through the rood’ food prices in remote NT

John Paterson regularly has people from remote communities text him grocery receipts to show how prices have spiked over the past few months. Travelling across the NT in his role as CEO of Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance Northern Territory (AMSANT) Paterson says he notices prices increase sharply the more remote the location. “It has almost become unaffordable now,” he says.

In the NT, food in supermarkets is 56% more expensive in remote communities than regional supermarkets due to long supply chains and poor quality roads, according to a 2021 report by AMSANT. Inflation – predicted to reach 6% by year’s end – has increased pressure. The Arnhem Land Progress Association (ALPA), supports 27 remote community stores by securing grocery items and covering the store’s freight budgets to reduce the cost of food. Normally, its annual freight budget is $250,000. But in the past 18 months, the fuel levy to deliver food to just five of its remote communities – that require delivery by sea – has risen from $37,000 to $279,000. Rob Totten, store manager of a supermarket in Maningrida, Arnhem Land, says the price of some food products has “gone through the roof”.

Paterson is advocating to extend the footprint of an Aboriginal controlled organisation like ALPA to increase the buying power of remote community stores. “People want fresher food, they want cheaper food, and the way to do that is bulk purchasing by community stores that are run and led by Aboriginal people,” he says. “If we want to close the gap, plus the life expectancy gap between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people, then food security is a major issue that needs serious attention.”

To view The Guardian article ‘Through the roof’ food prices in remote NT are forcing Aboriginal families to make impossible choices in full click here.

Docker River Community Store. Image source: B4BA. Docker River Community Store NT $9.20 receipt for 2L of milk. Image source: The Guardian.

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.

National Palliative Care Week

National Palliative Care Week  (NPCW), held from Sunday 22 to Saturday 28 May 2022, is Australia’s largest annual awareness-raising initiative held to increase understanding of the many benefits of palliative care. The theme for National Palliative Care Week 2022 is It’s your right. The theme seeks to raise awareness about the rights of all Australians to access high-quality palliative care when and where they need it. One of the great myths about palliative care is that it is only a synonym for end-of-life care. It is so much more than that.  Anyone with a life-limiting illness has the right to live as well as possible, for as long as possible.  

Virtual and face-to-face events will be held across the country during National Palliative Care Week 2022 to acknowledge and celebrate the commitment and dedication of all those working and volunteering in the palliative care sector across Australia.   Now in its 27th year, and traditionally held in the last full week of May, NPCW is organised by Palliative Care Australia (PCA) and supported by the Australian Government Department of Health.

To find out more about National Palliative Care Week 2022 you can access the PCA website here. You can also view a range of palliative care resources PCA have developed specifically for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples here.

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Culturally responsive palliative care

Culturally responsive palliative care

The Palliative care curriculum for undergraduates (PCC4U) project has launched the Caring for Australian Indigenous peoples affected by life-limiting illness toolkit. The PCC4U is a QUT-led initiative funded by the Australian Government Department of Health to support development of graduate capabilities in palliative care.

National Indigenous Project Manager, Nicole Hewlett, a Palawa woman from Lutruwita (Tasmania), from the QUT School of Nursing worked with PCC4U to ensure culturally safe resources are developed and delivered. She said the new toolkit formed part of the PCC4U curriculum for educators, health and aged care providers, and would bring greater awareness to inequity. “Given the history, trauma and current experience of racism in healthcare, it can be particularly difficult for Australian Indigenous peoples to talk about the kind of care and support they would like as they age or become seriously ill,” Ms Hewlett said.

“As a result, most communities are not receiving the best quality of care and support while they live with chronic Illness and at the end of life. This can have a profound effect on both the sick person and their loved ones’ experience during this end-of-life journey.” Ms Hewlett said the toolkit had not just been redeveloped, but decolonised.

You can access further information about the Caring for Australian Indigenous peoples affected by life-limiting illness toolkit on the QUT website here.

The Glen for Women opens doors

The songs of bellbirds fill Coral Hennessy with peace. They echo around a picturesque rural landscape at Wyong Creek, on the NSW Central Coast. “Just what people need for healing,” Malyangapa woman Ms Hennessy said. Now, the 4.45 hectare property is home to the state’s first Aboriginal community controlled women’s drug and alcohol residential rehabilitation centre. The Glen for Women is a decades-old dream that will open intake applications this week.

The 20-bed facility will house 80 to 100 clients each year, with a focus on local Aboriginal women. During their 12 week stay, women will drive their activities, including a yarning circle, sports and art. Ms Hennessy said her daughter, who struggled with alcohol addiction, died in late 2020. “I always found it hard to find a place for her to go to,” she said. “There never seemed to be the right place … so that was one of my reasons for getting a rehab to be run along the lines of The Glen centre.”

Ms Hennessy is the chair of The Glen for Men, as well as this new women’s offshoot. Her passion to improve lives through drug and alcohol rehabilitation is a legacy of her late brother Cyril, who founded the nearby men’s centre in 1994. The name was in honour of his son, Glen, who died after a battle with addiction.

Network of Alcohol and other Drugs Agencies (NADA) CEO Robert Stirling said the centre will respond to a gap in treatment. “NADA is excited that The Glen for Women is about to become a reality – a culturally secure place for Aboriginal women to address alcohol and drug related harms,” he said. The Glen for Women chief operating officer Kylie Cassidy said it had already been inundated with calls from women.

To read the ABC News article The Glen for Women, Aboriginal community controlled drug and alcohol rehabilitation centre, opens doors in full click here.

The Glen for Women is a 20-bed drug and alcohol rehabilitation centre

The Glen for Women is a 20-bed drug and alcohol rehabilitation centre set on more than four hectares. Photo: Sofie Wainwright, ABC Central Coast. Image source: ABC News website.

80% of mob over 16 have had 2 doses

It’s FANTASTIC to see that 80% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people over the age of 16 have had 2 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.

NACCHO is extending a huge thank you to all ACCHOs for their tireless efforts so far in the vaccination roll-out, and to all the deadly mob who have stepped up to protect themselves, their families and community.

Now, let’s aim for 100%.

To book your vaccination, contact your local Aboriginal health service or visit the Australian Government Department of Health COVID-19 Vaccine Clinic Finder website here.

CTG dashboard update

The Australian Government Productivity Commission Closing the Gap Information Repository is being developed (in stages) to help support reporting . The latest update to the Dashboard (31 March 2022) includes disaggregations of data for a subset of targets under the socioeconomic outcome areas (with a new year of data for five socioeconomic outcome areas) and refinements to the method for assessing progress against the targets.

A further update to the Dashboard will be available in late June 2022. It will include reporting on a further 20 indicators across the Priority Reform areas and socioeconomic outcome areas. The release of the second Annual Data Compilation Report is anticipated by end July 2022.

You can view the fact sheet about the dashboard here.

Image source: wingaru.com.au

New BCNA First Peoples resources

BCNA is thrilled to advise that this month they have launched new content to support First Peoples women who are diagnosed with breast cancer. The development of the content, created with support from Cancer Australia, has enabled BCNA to expand their resources for First Peoples women to help them feel empowered to make decisions about their treatment and care and to help them through their breast cancer journey. The information was developed with significant input and contribution through BCNA’s First Peoples Advisory Group and those First Peoples who are part of the BCNA network.

In addition to written information, the information for First Peoples now includes a series of eight new videos in which First Peoples women from around Australia share their experiences with breast cancer. Video topics include: Advice for First Peoples and their communities; Family and support; Connection to culture; and Treatment.

In the coming weeks, a webcast on the Optimal Care Pathway for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders will be recorded and made available. The videos and webcast will be available to watch on My Journey via this link and on the BCNA website. You can read more about resources available for First Peoples communities here.

National Pancreatic Cancer Roadmap released

The Australian Government has today launched the National Pancreatic Cancer Roadmap (Roadmap) and has committed funding of $20.3 million to support improved outcomes and survival for Australians affected by pancreatic cancer. The Roadmap, developed by Cancer Australia and overseen by a multidisciplinary national expert Steering Group, is for the Australian community. Its implementation will be a collective responsibility involving people affected by pancreatic cancer, health professionals, professional colleges, researchers, pancreatic cancer organisations, peak bodies, non-government and government organisations.

Cancer Australia has created the Roadmap as an interactive, easy to use web-based tool where users can easily identify information in their areas of interest across the continuum of pancreatic research, treatment and care.

To access the National Pancreatic Cancer Roadmap, visit the Australian Government Cancer Australia website here.

Hepatitis elimination needs longer-term funding

Hepatitis Australia welcomes the Australian Government’s commitment of short-term (12 months) funding under the National Preventive Health Strategy 2021–2030 to support key organisations to continue existing programs in the national response to hepatitis B, C, HIV and STIs. “The Government has allocated $8.6 million in 2022–23 allowing key organisations to continue important work towards elimination by 2030,” said Carrie Fowlie, CEO of Hepatitis Australia, the national peak body representing the interests of 350,000 people living with viral hepatitis and the State and Territory Hepatitis Organisations.

It should be noted that the $8.6 million includes a $5 million commitment to implement key activities under the Fifth National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Blood Borne Viruses and Sexually Transmissible Infections Strategy 2018–2022, to improve health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living with, or at risk of blood borne viruses and/or sexually transmissible infections.

To view the Healthcare Channel article in full click here.

Blood testing to detect HIV. Photo: Mak Remissa, EPA. Image source: SBS NITV website.

Health disparity for LGBTQIA+ people

Yesterday on International Transgender Day of Visibility (TDoV), the Australian College of Nursing (ACN) is celebrated the achievements, presence and community of transgender (trans) and gender-diverse people and highlighted the immediate need to address the health gaps they experience. “Today, I would like to acknowledge the persistent contribution trans and gender-diverse people make to our society and especially those who are my colleagues in the nursing profession,” ACN CEO Adjunct Professor Kylie Ward FACN said.

“It is unconscionable that this group continues to experience discrimination in accessing many of our areas of society such as health, education and sports. The flow on effect means trans and gender diverse people are more likely to experience much higher rates of violence, mental health problems and homelessness – just to name a few examples. These statistics are even more troubling for those in already marginalised groups, such as people of colour, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and young Australians. Our society must not tolerate discrimination based on gender or any other form.” Adjunct Professor Ward also highlighted how the nursing profession has a leading role to play in tackling the systemic issues trans and gender-diverse people experience.

You can view the Australian College of Nursing Health disparities of transgender and gender diverse people require urgent attention media release in full here.

Image source: MJA InSight.

The Australian Medical Students’ Association (AMSA) have also issued a media release saying they are extremely disappointed by the lack of measures in the Federal Budget to improve the access to healthcare for LGBTQIA+ Australians. “Transgender and gender diverse Australians are in urgent need of support. The failure of the Government to direct funding to increase access to gender-affirming services will cause significant harm to patients who are unable to afford access,” Jasmine Davis, AMSA President said.

AMSA is also disappointed to see a lack of specific funding for LGBTQIA+ mental health. “Queer Australians already experience higher rates of mental-ill health and suicide. Nearly a third of LGBTI Australians aged 18 and over have attempted suicide, a number which is eight times higher than the general population,” Flynn Halliwell, Chair of AMSA Queer, said. “The federal government has itself continued to perpetuate direct harm to the mental health of these communities through attempts to introduce harmful legislation, as well as political weaponizing of trans and gender diverse people in public discourse. If the Government is serious about improving mental health, and reducing suicide rates in Australia, there should be specific funding for LGBTQIA+ mental health services,” Mr Halliwell said.

You can view the AMSA’s media release in full here.

Image source: The Conversation.

New process for job advertising

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

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

World Health Day

The Australian Global Health Alliance, in partnership with the Climate and Health Alliance, Australian WHO Collaborating Centre Network, Melbourne Climate Futures, and Monash Sustainable Development Institute are delighted to present an expert panel on World Health Day 2022 to celebrate and reflect on our past, present and future connections to this year’s theme: Our Planet, Our Health.

Many groups and individuals claim knowledge in the field of planetary health and global health, and it can sometimes be a cacophony of competing rather than joined interest to act. Our expert panel will explore lived experiences facing floods and heatwaves in Australia and the region, the application and respect for all global and First Nation’s knowledge, and the processes and platforms we use to communicate for action – and for whom.

Our discussion will be co-chaired by Australian Global Health Alliance Executive Director, Dr Selina Lo and Georgia Langmaid, a young generation lead in planetary health from 12:00–1:30PM (AEST) Thursday 7 April, 2022. You can register for the event here.

Parkinson’s Awareness Month

April is Parkinson’s Awareness Month with World Parkinson’s Day recognised on 11 April each year. Parkinson’s Disease (PD) is a movement and mood disorder typically presenting with symptoms such as slowness of movement, muscle rigidity, instability, tremor, depression and anxiety and diagnosis can occur at any age. With one person every hour of every day diagnosed with Parkinson’s, it is important to continue education, research and support for consumers, families and support people who are living with PD.

For more information about PD and Parkinson’s Awareness Month click here.

Parkinson’s disease (PD) is the second most common neurodegenerative disease in the elderly after Alzheimer’s disease. It is expected that PD cumulative incidence will increase in the future, as there are far more people surviving into late age than there ever used to be. Socioeconomic, cultural and genetic factors may influence the way in which anti-parkinsonian medications are prescribed, and how patients respond to them. There is growing recognition that more detailed Australian-specific data are required and that special consideration should be given to obtaining estimates for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander populations of Australia.

You can access the BMJ Neurology Open article Variations in the patterns of prevalence and therapy in Australasian Parkinson’s disease patients of different ethnicities containing the above information here.

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Cost of living hikes a health danger

feature tile text 'cost of living hikes dangerous for ATSI health' & Aboriginal hands holding shopping trolley

Image in feature tile from Adult Learning Australia website Food in remote Australia is expensive section.

Cost of living hikes a health danger

The cost of basic household items has reached new heights in regional centres but also Aboriginal communities. In yesterday’s episode of ABC radio’s The World Today with Sally Sara experts Diane Temple, Mamu woman, Queensland, June Riemer, Gumbaynggirr woman and deputy CEO, First Peoples Disability Network and Dr Joy Linton, GP, Gurriny Yealamucka Health Services Aboriginal Corporation, Yarrabah discuss how the cost of living hikes are dangerous for Indigenous health. Health experts are worried the lack of access to fresh fruit and vegetables will cause serious health issues.

You can listen to the radio segment here and a related story Doctors fear impacts of more expensive fruit and veg, featuring Dr Kean-Seng Lin, GP in Mt Druitt, western Sydney and Professor Sharon Friel, Australian National University also on The World Today here.

screenshot of The World Today ABC logo tile

Dietitians Australia say Improving food security for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples living in remote, regional and urban parts of Australia is essential to achieving health equity. “Food security is a fundamental human right,” said Board Director of Dietitians Australia and Gamilaroi woman, Tracy Hardy. “The 2021 Close the Gap Report stated that we need strategies to manage food security in response to the rising cost of food, and the impact of climate change on food availability.” You can view the Dietitians Australian media release here.

Remote community stores across Australia are receiving $8 million to strengthen the supply of essential goods, groceries and other critical supplies. Minister for Indigenous Australians, the Hon Ken Wyatt MP, said the funding will provide 43 stores with the resources they need to improve their supply chains, storage and delivery of products in their communities. “In the 2021–22 Budget we committed $5 million to invest in remote stores to improve food security and strengthen supply chains,” Minister Wyatt said. “Since then, we’ve seen an increased need for reliable food security in remote communities, and we’re responding with increased support. “We’re now investing $8 million to directly support remote stores to fund infrastructure upgrades, cool and dry storage expansion, green energy systems and training for staff and management.”

To view the Minister Wyatt’s Securing Essential Supplies for Remote Australia media release click here.

Gina Lyons, Irrunytju WA cooking with frypan

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

Purple House making families well on Country

Western Desert Nganampa Walytja Palyantjaku Tjutaku Aboriginal Corporation is the official name for what is now more commonly known as the Purple House. The Purple House is an organisation dedicated to getting First Nations Peoples from remote communities back home on Country through the delivery of renal services. Its conception, design and delivery are based firmly in the values of Yanangu. It remains entirely Indigenous-owned and run, with an all-Yanangu Board of Directors who are elected by its members.

A translation of the Purple House’s official title means ‘making all our families well’. This is also the vision statement for the organisation. Since its beginnings in 2000, Purple House has concentrated on addressing the epidemic of renal disease inflicting remote First Nations communities. It has done this effectively and successfully, vastly improving the quality of life and life expectancy of renal patients. It is now possible to say that, in this space, the Purple House has not only closed the gap but has opened a gap on the national average.

The Purple House now operates 19 permanent remote dialysis clinics and two mobile units called Purple Trucks. The success of the model has led to an expansion of services, which now include aged care, disability, primary health and social support. However, there remains a constant call from other remote communities to support their needs as well.

To view the RAHC Partyline article in full click here.

Purple House van

The Purple Truck. Image source: RAHC Partyline website.

The disease of racism

Veteran Queensland health professional, Bindal Elder Gracelyn Smallwood and Aboriginal businessman and human rights campaigner Dr Stephen Hagan have filed complaints with the Australian Human Rights Commission alleging they were recently racially discriminated against at a Townsville service station. Professor Smallwood told CAAMA Radio it was not unusual in Townsville and that nothing surprised her about the alleged incident. Following a phone call from Ms Smallwood, Dr Hagan drove to the same service station to fill up his car as a “test” – but says he too was also discriminated against by the same attendant because he was Aboriginal. Professor Smallwood says despite being stereotyped for decades because of her stand against racism the only way attitudes are going to change is by suing the perpetrators. You can listen to the interview in full here.

A related article looks at a study exploring the relationships between experiences of perceived racism, mental health and drug and alcohol use among Aboriginal Australians. The current research indicates that racism is still frequently experienced by Aboriginal Australians and is directly associated with poorer mental health, and indirectly with substance use through poorer mental health. The findings demonstrate a clear need for further research in this area. To view the Examining the Associations Between Experiences of Perceived Racism and Drug sand Alcohol Use in Aboriginal Australians article in full click here.

Annual overview of First Nations health

Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet has just released its annual authoritative online publication The Overview of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health status 2021. There is a featured section on the Coronavirus disease and its impact on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and their communities. During the pandemic, health authorities have reinforced that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are at greater risk but have praised the response of ACCHOs in delivering strong evidence based and culturally responsive prevention initiatives.

The release of the key findings from the Australian Burden of Disease Study 2018 for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people provides promising news for specific diseases. There was a decline in total burden for coronary heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke, rheumatoid arthritis, hearing loss and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

Improvements in birth and pregnancy outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mothers and babies continue, with evidence of an increase in the proportion of mothers attending antenatal care in the first trimester (increased from 49% in 2012 to 67% in 2019), a decrease in the rate of mothers smoking during pregnancy, and a slight decrease in the proportion of babies born small for gestational age. The national target for childhood immunisation has been met for 5 year olds with 97% coverage.

Of all specific causes of death, ischaemic heart disease was  the leading cause of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander deaths in NSW, Qld, WA, SA and the NT combined in 2020.  Injury was the leading cause of hospitalisation in 2019–20 (excluding dialysis).

HealthInfoNet Director, Professor Neil Drew, said ‘Our annual authoritative Overview is a comprehensive evidenced based resource for those working in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health sector. The overall data shows it is critical to also address environmental health factors  – such as housing and hygiene – that underpin the spread of many infectious diseases.”

As part of the HealthInfoNet’s commitment to knowledge exchange, a plain language infographic Summary version of the Overview’s key topics has been produced here with PowerPoint slides of the key points.

An ‘increasingly angry black woman’

In an article for the Canberra City News Winnunga CEO Julie Tongs refers to a feature in The Guardian written by South African writer, activist and political analyst Sisonke Msimang. Msimang says “while I have been full of admiration, each time Tame has earned the spotlight, I have imagined the response if I had behaved that way, or if any number of black and Indigenous women in the public domain had dared to do the same. I am yet to see black women’s anger greeted with the same kind of public solidarity or sympathy. And yet black women have been expressing anger for years as they address racist police and education systems, as they try to create opportunities for themselves and face the double burden of sexism and racism.”

Julie Tongs agrees with Msimang, saying “I will mention just two of the many issues that I, an increasingly angry black woman, have raised loudly, publicly and repeatedly over a number of years. However, the depth of the silence with which my entreaties for the scandalous treatment of Aboriginal women and children in Canberra to be addressed can, in my opinion, be best explained by reference to the fact that these issues are being raised and agitated by a black woman on behalf of other black women and their children. Frankly, what other explanation can there be?”

“Despite the lengths I have gone to, I have not generated any meaningful response from the ACT government or more than a scintilla of interest, concern or serious response from local media including the ABC, the Canberra community or the sisterhood. Those two issues are the rates of incarceration of black women and the number of Aboriginal children subject to care and protection orders in Canberra, the national capital and alleged haven of progressivity.”

To view the City News article in full click here.

Winnunga CEO Julie Tongs

Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health & Community Services CEO Julie Tongs OAM. Image source: Canberra Weekly.

Consent education needs Blak voices

The Teach Us Consent movement – founded by Chanel Contos in 2021 – has gained bipartisan political support to mandate consent education in Australian schools from 2023. The movement was rapidly successful after collecting over 6,600 stories of people who had experienced sexual assault by someone when they were at school. This was followed quickly by the federal government committing $189 million over five years to strengthen prevention and early intervention efforts in family, domestic and sexual violence.

Issues of sexual violence and consent are gaining momentum at a national level., yet, within these important discussions, the voices, experiences and needs of First Nations people are not widely represented or heard. Drawing on the current momentum and interest in consent education, there is an opportunity to fund place-based, culturally appropriate and co-designed consent education with First Nations young people.

The response to sexual violence must move beyond simply adding “dot paintings” to mainstream curricula to address the conditions that make sexual violence an issue for many. To have a real impact on young people and our communities, we need to be telling the whole story of women, gender and sexual violence in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’s lives against the backdrop of colonisation.

To view The Conversation Consent education needs Blak voices for the safety and well-being of young First Nations people article in full click here.
Aboriginal teacher, two young boys with raised hands

Image source: The Conversation.

Urban health professionals in remote communities

Since 2008, the Commonwealth-funded Remote Area Health Corps (RAHC) has been supporting urban-based health professionals wanting to work in remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities in the NT. In that time, more than 1,700 registered nurses, GPs, dentists, dental therapists, dental assistants, audiologists and allied health professionals have taken up over 7,000 placements throughout the Territory.

RAHC’s main priority for 2022 is to assist in reducing health disadvantage among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, addressing the Close the Gap strategy. More than a recruitment agency, RAHC provides cultural orientation and ongoing clinical support to healthcare professionals going out on placement. “Developing rapport with a community provides an experience that encourages health professionals to stay with us long-term,” says Clinical Manager Emma Thomas.

Acting National Manager Tess McGuigan adds, ‘We help improve the health and wellbeing of those living in rural, regional and remote areas of the NT with regular professional development, both online and through personal consultations with a clinical coordinator and cultural development adviser. It builds knowledge and confidence so our team can deliver high-quality health care tailored to the unique needs of that community.’

To view the RAHC Partyline article in full click here.

A RAHC health professional driving to Imanpa, a remote community in the NT. Photo courtesy of RAHC and Dr Richard Davey. Photo courtesy of Richard Davey. Image source: NRHA Partyline online magazine.

Increasing tick-borne dog disease awareness

An NT campaign to increase awareness in remote communities of a serious tickborne disease has been given a $150,000 boost by the Australian Government. Minister for Agriculture and Northern Australia David Littleproud said the disease ehrlichiosis is caused by the tick-borne bacteria Ehrlichia canis and is carried by the brown dog tick, which is present across northern Australia. “The number of infections in dogs is continuing to increase in northern Australia’s vulnerable Indigenous communities, with prevalence rates of up to 100% in some places,” Minister Littleproud said.

“This disease is relatively new to Australia, having first been detected in WA in May 2020. It was then confirmed in the NT and SA within a year. Dog mortality rates range from 10–30%. However, the disease can be effectively controlled through a combination of antibiotic treatment, preventative measures such as tick collars and containing infected dogs. It’s not just an animal-health issue, dogs are an integral social part of many rural people’s lives.”

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

dogs on road remote community

Image source: ABC News.

New process for job advertising

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

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

World Tuberculosis Day

March 24 marks the day in 1882 when Dr Robert Koch announced that he had discovered the bacterium that causes TB, which opened the way towards diagnosing and curing this disease. However, TB still claims 4,100 people lives each day and close to 27,000 people fall ill with this preventable and curable disease. The emergence of drug-resistant TB poses a major health threat that could put at risk the gains made to end the global TB epidemic. World TB Day is an opportunity to focus on the people affected by this disease and to call for accelerated action to end TB suffering and deaths. For more information about World Tuberculosis Day 2022 click here.

Disparities in tuberculosis (TB) rates exist between Indigenous and non-Indigenous populations in many countries, including Australia. The social determinants of health are central to health inequities including disparities in TB rates. There are limitations in the dominant biomedical and epidemiological approaches to representing, understanding and addressing the unequal burden of TB for Indigenous peoples represented in the literature. This paper applies a social determinants of health approach and examines the structural, programmatic and historical causes of inequities for TB in Indigenous Australia.

Development of TB policies and programmes requires reconfiguration. Space must be given for Indigenous Australians to lead, be partners and to have ownership of decisions about how to eliminate TB. Shared knowledge between Indigenous Australians, policy makers and service managers of the social practices and structures that generate TB disparity for Indigenous Australians is essential.

To view the research article The missing voice of Indigenous Australians in the social, cultural and historical experiences of tuberculosis: a systemic and integrative review click here.

The most common kind of TB is pulmonary tuberculosis, which affects the lungs. A latent TB infection (left) can have no symptoms, while with active TB disease (right), the bacteria multiply in the body, becoming contagious. Image source: iStock, Everyday Health.

Primary Care COVID-19 update

The latest in a series of webinars to update primary care on the COVID-19 response and the vaccine rollout will be held from 11:30 AM–12:00 PM (AEDT) Thursday 24 March 2022.

The panel this week will include Australian Government Department of Health Dr Lucas de Toca, First Assistant Secretary, COVID-19 Primary Care Response, and Dr Michael Bonning, Medical Director, Inner West GP Respiratory Clinic, Balmain Village Health.

GPs and all health professionals are welcome to attend the webinar and can join using this link. If you’re unable to view this webinar live, you can view it on-demand using the same link, within a few hours of the live stream ending.

banner DoH Primary Care COVID-19 update Dep CMO - image of DCMO & COVID-19 virus cell

National Advance Care Planning Week

National Advance Care Planning week, Monday 21 to Sunday 27 March 2022, an initiative of Advance Care Planning Australia, is a reminder for Australians to talk to their loved ones about who they would want to speak for them if they become too sick to speak for themselves. Advance Care Planning Australia ambassador and AMA Vice President Dr Chris Moy said while advance care planning conversations might be confronting, they are important. “Advance care planning is a process of planning for your future health and personal care by ensuring your values, beliefs and preferences are known to guide those who will make health care decisions on your behalf, should you lose capacity in the future,” Dr Moy said.

“Without such a plan, you may have no voice to guide those decisions and no choice as to what decisions are made on your behalf, instead placing the burden of decision-making on loved ones who may have no idea what care you would actually want – which can bring a legacy of guilt on families which extends after death.

The AMA strongly supports advance care planning as it benefits everyone, the patient, their family, carers and health professionals and is particularly important for people with advanced chronic illness, a life-limiting illness, who are aged 75+ years or at risk of losing competence. The AMA strongly agrees with Advance Care Planning Australia that having an advance care plan can reduce anxiety, depression, stress and increase satisfaction with care for the patient’s family members. In addition, advance care planning assists healthcare professionals and organisations by reducing unnecessary transfers to acute care and unwanted treatment,” Dr Moy said.

Advance Care Planning Australia has found less than 15% of people have documented their health care preferences in an advance care directive.  Dr Moy said advance care planning discussions, and clearly delineating ‘goals of care’, should become a key part of routine healthcare conversations across Australia. He said the Advance Care Planning Australia website is an excellent resource for individuals, families, friends, carers and health professionals.

The AMA’s Position Statement on End of Life Care and Advance Care Planning can be found here and you can view a Palliative Care Australia video on Indigenous Advance Care Plans below.

 

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Calls for Child Health Taskforce

feature tile text 'AMA joins leading Australian health & welfare groups' call for Child Health Taskforce' *& image of Aboriginal girl and 3 boys on outdoor play equipment

Image in feature tile from SNAICC website. Photo credit: Terry Trewin, AAP.

Calls for Child Health Taskforce

The AMA has joined with leading Australian health and welfare groups to call for both the current government and the opposition to commit to forming a Child Health Taskforce if successful at this year’s federal election. AMA President Dr Omar Khorshid said the Child Health Taskforce would be asked to initially report to the new government within six-months on priority initiatives to improve the social determinants of child health, that is, non-medical factors which influence health outcomes. Dr Khorshid said these included: (1) Poverty, (2) Housing, (3) Nutrition, food security and sugary drinks, and (4) Climate change.

Dr Khorshid said additionally the AMA was seeking a commitment from the major parties to fund and implement the recommendations in the recently released National Children’s Mental Health and Wellbeing Strategy if elected. The AMA, along with the other organisations have released a joint statement noting the period during the COVID-19 pandemic when income support payments were raised, had been hugely beneficial to children and their families, reducing anxiety and suicides. Dr Khorshid said the pandemic had also highlighted how crowded and sub-standard housing had contributed to the spread of COVID-19. “We say access to good housing is a fundamental human right and essential for children to be able to grow up in a health and nurturing environment,” Dr Khorshid said.

Dr Khorshid said the statement noted the pandemic response had shown both the benefits of good policy and reinforced the damaging and lasting impacts on children of poverty, poor housing, and social isolation. “A commitment to equity must underpin fiscal, social and health policy. This particularly applies to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children,” Dr Khorshid said.

To view the AMA media release in full click here and to view a joint statement from the AMA, ACOSS, Academcy of Child and Adolescent Health, ARACY, Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, and the RACP click here. You can view a video on the National Children’s Mental Health and Wellbeing Strategy below.

Gilgandra Local AMS opens

Last Tuesday, 22 February 2022, marked the official opening of the Gilgandra Local Aboriginal Medical Service (GLAMS) building. GLAMS is a branch of the Coonamble Aboriginal Medical Service, and the opening of Gilgandra’s new centre has been a long time coming, according to CEO Phil Naden. “For me it’s been a long time waiting for us to establish this Aboriginal medical service in Gilgandra, and obviously that comes through a lot of consultation,” said Mr Naden.

“The outcome is having GLAMS here now, working in partnership not only with the current health providers in Gilgandra, but also the local health district to provide a culturally appropriate service where people feel that can come to. It’s a space where you can have those cultural yarns, and deal with people who are specifically trained around what it is they’re here for.”

Part of Station Street where GLAMS stands, was closed for a few hours in the morning while official proceedings took place. Beginning with a Welcome to Country by Uncle Ralph Naden; CEO of Bila Muuji Aboriginal Corporation Health Service, Carl Grant, spoke from a regional perspective on GLAMS importance. Mr Naden said that “as well as Carl, Brendan Cutmore who is the executive director of Aboriginal health with the NSW health district, got up and also talked about his perspective on partnerships with NSW health, the local health districts, and the Aboriginal community-controlled sector”.

Member for Parkes Mark Coulton, acknowledged the work that GLAMS has done over the past few months, and confirmed the grant that was announced. “With Mr Coulton officially opening the building for us, it was a really good day,” said Mr Naden.

“The opening is the talk of the town, with community members buzzing about the new prospects GLAMS offers. The feedback is so positive. “t is still continuing up until today and people are chomping at the bit to want to know the next steps of when the opening time is,” said Mr Naden. Mr Naden explained that not only locals and health service representatives attended the opening, but people all across the region.

To view The Gilgandra Weekly news item in full click here.

5 male Aboriginal dancers at opening of Gilgandra Local AMS 22.2.22

Opening of Gilgandra Local Aboriginal Medical Service on Tuesday 22 February 2022.

Stolen Generations Redress Scheme opens

Stolen Generations survivors who were removed as children from their families and communities in the NT, the ACT, and Jervis Bay can now apply for redress from the Australian Government. In addition, $6.55 million will be provided through Link-Up services and The Healing Foundation to support applicants, coupled with free financial and legal services announced on 14 February 2022.

Minister for Indigenous Australians, the Hon Ken Wyatt AM, MP, said the $378.6 million financial and wellbeing Redress Scheme will make payments in recognition of the harm caused. “The Stolen Generations lost their childhoods, their connections to family, country and culture, and while we cannot give back lost childhoods, we are contributing to healing through the Territories Stolen Generations Redress Scheme,” Minister Wyatt said.

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

Ngambri-Ngunnawal elder Matilda House in fur shawl against Aboriginal mural

Ngambri-Ngunnawal elder Matilda House has welcomed the new compensation scheme for Stolen Generation survivors. Photo: Karleen Minney. Image source: Canberra Times.

Closing the communication gap in healthcare

The Australian Physiotherapy Association has published an article about the importance of communication and the need for providing culturally secure and safe healthcare for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. The article includes comments the researchers behind ‘clinical yarning’, a conversational approach to communication between healthcare providers and their patients, and about a study investigating the benefits of implementing clinical yarning. Also, the article looks at physiotherapists at a unique practice in Far North Queensland that takes physiotherapy out on Country and talks about what makes the model so special.

Clinical yarning is a form of informal conversation that is increasingly being used by clinicians working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to facilitate better communication with patients and clients. Yarning is a form of ‘conversation with purpose’ in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures. Based on storytelling, it is an informal way to give and receive information that revolves around establishing a relationship between the participants and creating a culturally safe space. And it’s increasingly finding a place in clinics that work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients.

To view the full Australian Physiotherapy Association article click here.

2 images: physio Simon Morris treating Aboriginal man Aurukun & with a client on Country in Cairns


Physiotherapist Simon Morris treats one of his patients outside on Country in Aurukun and working with a client on Country in Cairns. Images source: Australian Physiotherapy Association website.

Indigenous Art Competition – cast your vote

The caring@home Indigenous Art Competitionaims to raise awareness about palliative care. All submitted artworks are being displayed on the caring@home website until 30 June 2023 and the winning artworks will be used to illustrate resources being developed by caring@home for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families. Entries to the competition have now closed and official judging is now underway.

The 54 entries illustrate powerful, moving, visually stunning stories about a ‘Journey to Dreaming at Home’. This theme highlights an important aspect of palliative care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people – a preference for care during the end-of-life journey to be provided at home or on Country.

The judging panel members are The Hon Ken Wyatt, AM MP – Minister for Indigenous Australians, Karl Briscoe – CEO, National Association of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workers and Practitioners (NAATSIHWP) and Fiona Cornforth – CEO, The Healing Foundation.

Members of the public may also take part by submitting an online vote for the People’s Choice Award. Voting closes at 11:59PM (AEST) on Sunday 13 March 2022. Winners will be announced on National Close the Gap Day, Wednesday 17 March 2022.

For more information about the Competition or to submit a People’s Choice Award vote click here.

Strength & Positivity artwork by Ashleigh Elle

Strength and Positivity by Ashleigh Elle. One of the 54 entries in the caring@home Indigenous Art Competition.

New Online Safety Laws

The Australian Government introduced the Online Safety Act 2021 on 23 January 2022. This means there are new laws in place to protect all Australians from serious online abuse. The new laws give eSafety stronger mechanisms to address serious online abuse, if the abuse meets the high threshold of being ‘seriously harmful’ to an individual.

To find out more detailed information on the new laws, what is covered and information on reporting, you can download this booklet: Online Safety Laws: What is means for you, your family and community and other information for First Nations Communities here.

Tile: Leila Gurruwiwi at table with laptop, text 'keep yourself, your family & community safe online & report serious online abuse' Aust Govt logo, eSafety Commissioner logo

VIC prisoner self-harm jumps 50%

Social worker and Wiradjuri and Noongar woman Lee-Anne Carter is seeing it more and more: Victorian Aboriginal people being arrested when suffering from serious mental distress. More ambulances called by police, more Aboriginal people spending longer in prison, and more self-harm. “We started noticing an increase in people coming into the cells self-harming, indicating they’re really unwell … we were noticing Ambulance Victoria attending police stations more,” Ms Carter said.

New Justice Department statistics have revealed that even though the population of incarcerated Aboriginal Victorians decreased, the number of incidents involving self-harm among Indigenous prisoners increased more than 50% in the past year. Ms Carter, the leader of Victorian Aboriginal Legal Service’s (VALS) justice programs, was not surprised by the data.

To view The Age article in full click here.

Social woker Lee-anne Carter with black t-shirt with fingerprint in Aboriginal flag colours & text 'It's in my DNA'

Lee-Anne Carter says more support is needed to help Indigenous prisoners. Photo: Chris Hopkins. Image source: The Age.

Allied health student training in Katherine

Flinders University NT will receive the funding for the program to provide around 260 weeks of new placement opportunities for 36 students each year, three additional allied health clinicians and employ an Aboriginal allied health assistant. Dr Gillespie said the program would help to improve the recruitment and retention of local allied health professionals. “There is growing evidence that students who have a positive and rewarding extended training experience in a rural or remote area are more likely to take up rural practice upon graduation, which is what this site will help to provide for students,” Dr Gillespie said.

“A focus of the new allied health placement program will be to increase placement numbers of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students undertaking their training in Katherine.” Dr Gillespie said the project had strong local support, partnering with Indigenous Allied Health Australia (IAHA) and two Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations (ACCHOs) – Wurli-Wurlinjang and the Katherine West Health Board (KWHB). Dr Gillespie said the partnership with Wurli-Wurlinjang would enable the employment of speech pathology and occupational therapy supervisors to support allied health students at its clinics.

To view the Katherine Times news article in full click here.

 Wurli-Wurlinjang outreach officers Nick Elliott & Eli Sherman & Katherine West public health manager David McGinness

Wurli-Wurlinjang outreach officers Nick Elliott and Eli Sherman. Photo: Michael Franch, ABC News and Katherine West public health manager David McGinness. Photo: Hamish Harty, ABC News.

New process for job advertising

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

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

Developing and communicating your employer brand

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

The first webinar in this series Developing and communicating your employer brand is being held from 11:00–12:00PM on Tuesday 8 March 2022. This webinar will assist organisation leaders in developing and communicating their employer value proposition, and you will hear from an employer in the care and support sector who has recently refreshed their approach.

You can register for the webinar here.

5 staff around table discussing resources, Aboriginal flag on wall

Image source: Your Community Health website.

Deadly Heart feature film launch

The Take Heart: Deadly Heart feature film will be released across Australian from National Close the Gap Day on Thursday 17 March 2022, in partnership with Close the Gap and ANTaR. You can view a trailer of the film below.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Letter to Chief Minister about COVID spread

feature tile text 'Aboriginal orgs write open letter to NT Chief Min re escalating covid-19 outbreak' & image of health professional in PPE administering vax to Aboriginal man

Note: image in feature tile from The Guardian – photo: Katherine Morrow.

Letter to Chief Minister about COVID spread

The Central Australian Aboriginal Congress (CAAC), AMSANT, the Central Land Council and the CEO of Lhere Artepe Aboriginal Corporation have written an open letter to the NT Chief Minister saying “as Aboriginal organisations representing our communities across the NT, we are writing to you about the rapidly escalating COVID-19 outbreak in Central Australia. We have been advocating continuously for firm action to slow the outbreak since it began in the early days of 2022.”

“However, our requests have been ignored, or action taken too late or on too small a scale to make a real difference. There has been a significant failure by government agencies in Central Australia to put into practice the plans agreed with your government before the outbreak. This has directly led to COVID spreading out of control in the Aboriginal communities of Central Australia and beyond.”

To read the media statement in full click here.

Aboriginal people with masks sitting along long bench

Image source: 7 News website.

9 out of 10 NT COVID patients Aboriginal

Nine out of 10 of the patients with COVID-19 in NT hospitals are Aboriginal people, a rate which health experts say is “concerning” but, unfortunately, not surprising. The NT reopened its borders last month and, since then, coronavirus has spread into every region in the territory.

“We predicted this, predicted that the virus would spread like wildfire through our remote communities and this is exactly what we’re seeing now,” Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance (AMSANT) CEO John Paterson said. “This is a jurisdiction where we’ve got high numbers of the most vulnerable population in Australia.

“Aboriginal Territorians are the sickest in this country with all the chronic illnesses and it was just going to be doubly hard for them if they contracted COVID for them to recover. “It’s very alarming, very concerning, we’re disappointed.”

To read the ABC News article in full click here.

portrait of Kalinda Griffiths, an UNSW epidemiologist and Yawuru woman

Kalinda Griffiths, an UNSW epidemiologist and Yawuru woman, said experts had long warned that Aboriginal people were more at risk of severe COVID-19 disease. Image source: ABC News.

CoronaCheck fights misinformation

CoronaCheck is RMIT ABC Fact Check’s weekly email newsletter dedicated to fighting the misinformation infodemic surrounding the coronavirus outbreak.

You can read an extract from latest edition below, and subscribe to have the next newsletter delivered straight to your inbox.

Welcome to the first edition of CoronaCheck for 2022. As the world enters the third year of the pandemic, we remain committed to helping our readers separate fact from fiction.

This week, we take a look at some of the most pervasive incorrect claims being spread over the summer — from the fake death of a child supposedly following a COVID-19 vaccination to the continued misrepresentation of coronavirus hospitalisation and death statistics.

To view the ABC News item in full click here.

vector image covid-19 cell with text 'Corona Check' red, black, beige colours

Whole-of-organisation approach gets results

New research from the University of WA (UWA) has highlighted the importance of a whole-of-organisation approach in improving health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cancer patients.

Putting Policy into Practice: How Three Cancer Services Perform against Indigenous Health and Cancer Frameworks is the first study to compare the performance of tertiary cancer services against two national Australian best practice guidelines.

Lead author, researcher Emma Taylor from UWA’s WA Centre for Rural Health, said with cancer one of the leading causes of death for Indigenous Australians, it’s time to focus attention on how cancer services are best delivered to this section of the population.

“The National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Cancer Framework and the National Safety and Quality Health Service (NSQHS) User Guide for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health are key national policy documents that aim to reduce health disparities,” Ms Taylor said.

To view the University of WA article in full click here.

WA Centre for Rural Health researcher Emma Taylor

Researcher Emma Taylor from the WA Centre for Rural Health. Image source: University of WA website.

Tracking BBV and STI strategy progress

The Kirby Institute for infection and immunity in society’s reportTracking the progress 2019: National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander BBV and STI strategy provides an annual account of progress of the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Blood-borne Virus (BBV) and Sexually Transmissible Infection (STI) Strategy.

Australia’s National BBV and STI Strategies aim to improve testing, treatment and uptake of preventative measures for hepatitis B, hepatitis C, STIs and HIV, and to reduce the incidence, morbidity, mortality,  personal and social impacts they cause.

The report describes the targets, objectives and indicators of the strategy, and the level of progress being made in response.

To view the report click here.

Aboriginal dot art of communicable disease spread, over map of Australia

Image source: ATSIHAW HIV and Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander communities in 2017 booklet.

Planning for end of life

The GroundSwell Project has released a video Yarning our wishes: a film about planning for end of life which aims to provide health professionals and community organisations with key points and learnings, as well as other cultural considerations when working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in end-of-life care. 

The GroundSwell Project collaborated with partners, CuriousWorks, South Western Sydney Local Health District Palliative Care, and Aboriginal communities in South Western Sydney, NSW for conversations about what matters and what is missing when it comes to planning and caring for someone when they are dying.

The video below is accompanied by a guide, which also offers additional resources about end-of-life care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. You can access the guide and resources here.

Kidney health information for mob

Kidney Health Australia has a webpage which provides information about kidney health for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. It covers the following:

  • the role of the kidneys
  • ways to keep your kidneys healthy and reduce your risk of getting kidney disease
  • information on kidney health checks.

The page has links to further resources on these topics, including:

To view the Kidney Health Australia Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people website page click here.

Aboriginal painting re kidney health

Image source: Kidney Health Australia.

New process for job advertising

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: COVID-19 outbreak in Cherbourg defies odds

feature tile text 'Cherbourg's well-managed COVID-19 outbreak a model for other ATSI communities' & clinic reception desk Cherbourg

Note: image in feature tile by Jon Daley, ABC Southern Queensland.

COVID-19 outbreak in Cherbourg defies odds

The Aboriginal town of Cherbourg, 250 kilometres north-west of Brisbane, is seemingly defying the odds against the highly contagious Omicron variant. When the first case of the virus was detected on 29 December 2021, authorities feared a rapid spread and high numbers of hospitalisations due to the vulnerable population and comparatively low vaccination rates.

Almost a month later, just two people have been hospitalised and both have since recovered. The daily case numbers in the town are also already slowing. Cherbourg Aboriginal Community Council chief executive Chatur Zala said the town seems to have dodged a bullet. “We have managed the situation very well, which could have gone very badly,” he said.

To read the ABC News article in full click here

Cherbourg Mayor Elvie Sandow at meeting

Cherbourg mayor Elvie Sandow says the community has responded well to health advice. Photo: Jon Daly, ABC Southern Queensland. Image source: ABC News website.

Concerns overcrowding escalating outbreaks

Mayors representing Far North Queensland’s Indigenous communities have raised concerns that overcrowded housing has fuelled COVID outbreaks.

Australia’s biggest Indigenous community, Yarrabah, has amassed about 270 cases in less than a fortnight and 160 households are in quarantine. Some Yarrabah houses are home to as many as 20 people from up to three family groups.

Further north across Cape York and the Torres Strait there are 280 active cases and reports of families testing positive in homes shared with as many as a dozen adults.

North Peninsula Area Regional Council Mayor Patricia Yusia is pleading with visitors to test negative before arriving because of a shortage of quarantine space if they test positive while in the region.

To read the ABC News article in full click here.

Yarrabah Mayor Ross Andrews sitting at his desk

Yarrabah Mayor Ross Andrews says overcrowding is a “recipe” for the spread of COVID. Photo: Mark Rigby, ABC Far North. Image source: ABC News.

Helping mob to stop vaping webinar

NACCHO is again partnering with the TGA and RACGP to deliver a follow-up webinar on the legislative changes affecting access to nicotine vaping products and what the changes might mean for our communities and ACCHOs.

Professor Renee Bittoun from the University of Notre Dame and Avondale University, together with Ms Alice Nugent, ACCHO pharmacist and member of the NACCHO Medicines Advisory Team, will present:

  • An approach to vaping cessation and supporting clients who are dual users
  • Key issues related to vaping in young people including NRT options to consider
  • Validated tools and resources available for assessment and cessation support

The webinar will conclude with a 20-minute Q&A session.

This event attracts 2 CPD points.

The webinar will be held from 12:30–1:30PM (AEDT) on Thursday 27 January 2022. You can register your interest via this link.

If you have any specific questions about vaping you’d like addressed at this webinar please forward them to this email address.

hand of person with vape & smoke

Image source: The Guardian.

NPS MedicineWise seeks consumer rep

NPS MedicineWise is an independent and not-for-profit organisation. Our mission is to achieve better health outcomes for all Australians by promoting safe and wise use of medicines and medical tests.

NPS MedicineWise is looking for a consumer representative to join their Clinical Intervention Advisory Group (CIAG). The CIAG helps select, design, deliver and review NPS MedicineWise programs, resources and services for health professionals and consumers.

The  Group currently consists of 15 members, including consumer representatives, health professional representatives, researchers and representatives from stakeholder organisations.

For more information please see the Terms of Reference (which can be found in the application form).  You can also email Raelene Simpson here or Rawa Osman here. To apply, please complete the application form here. Applications close Tuesday 1 February 2022.

text NPS MEDICINEWISE' on purple background - logo

Indigenous art to promote oral health

As part of an overall commitment to improving the oral health of all Australians, the Australian Dental Association is expanding the range of oral health resources available to assist health professionals, which includes culturally appropriate oral health resources for First Nations peoples for which original Indigenous artwork has been commissioned.

The artwork (below), which is being used on the the new Indigenous Oral health web page, will assist in the development and promotion of First Nations oral health resources, which it is planned will expand in range over 2022 as the ADA works with dental and non-dental organisations to create material that can be used in dental and medical practices.

The artwork was created by professional illustrator and animator Ty Waigana, a proud Noongar and Saibaigal (Torres Strait) man, who was the NAIDOC poster artist for 2020 and is currently exhibiting at the Art Gallery of WA. The artist has also worked on projects for Australian National University, Australian Electoral Commission and the Queensland Child and Family Commission.

You can read the ADA article on a new Indigenous artwork designed to assist in the development and promotion of First Nations oral health resources here.

artwork by Ty Waigani, light blue, green, golden yellow, aqua teeth shapes in row

Artwork by Ty Waigaini. Image source: ADA website.

HOT NORTH Antimicrobial Academy course 

The HOT NORTH Antimicrobial Academy is a 9-month program for 12 Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander health care workers (pharmacists, doctors, nurses or Aboriginal Health Practitioners embedded in clinical care in the north) interested in upskilling in antibiotic use, audit, stewardship, surveillance, and resistance.

Candidate nominations to participate will come from interested health care organisations who support the candidate to develop skills and implement change in their organisation.

The training will include skills in how to:

  1. Perform antimicrobial stewardship audits;
  2. Use surveillance skills to collect, understand and utilise antimicrobial resistance data;
  3. Advocated for antibiotic resistance issues affecting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to policy makers and the National AMR Strategy.

You can obtain further details and the Application Form at the HOT NORTH website here. Submissions close Monday 31 January 2022. Please email here or call (07) 3646 1886 for further informationbanner text 'HOT NORTH Antimicrobial Academy 2022]; vector image of Aust top half layers of green, light orange shades

Art competition closing date extended

The caring@home Indigenous Art Competition closing date has been extended to Friday 25 February 2022. All other details of the competition remain the same as previously advertised.

The online entry form, terms and conditions and more information is available at the caring@home project website here. To view the flyer for the caring@home Indigenous Art Competition click here.

Aboriginal woman holding cuppa, green foliage in background; caring@home ATSI logo

New process for job advertising

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Pregnant women eligible for COVID-19 vaccine

feature tile text 'pregnant women or women trying to fall pregnant eligible for COVID-19 vaccine' torso of pregnant belly with Aboriginal body painting

Pregnant women eligible for COVID-19 vaccine

All pregnant women or women trying to fall pregnant are now eligible for their COVID-19 vaccine.

You can hear Dr Marilyn Clarke explain why it’s important to get a COVID-19 vaccine to protect both you and your baby during pregnancy in this video.

For more information speak to your local health care worker or visit the Australian Government Department of Health website vaccine eligibility page here.

 

Make an informed vaccine choice

“Make an informed choice after speaking to a trusted Aboriginal medical professional.” That’s the advice Andrew Birtwistle-Smith has for people who are on the fence about the COVID-19 vaccination.

Birtwistle-Smith is a Boandik Meintangk man from southeast SA and the CEO of South Australian medical service, Pangula Mannamurna Aboriginal Corporation in Mount Gambier. Birtwistle-Smith is fully vaccinated and said he made the choice to get the jab after weighing up the pros and cons.

“I just got myself informed [by] speaking to my medical professional and my local GP in regards to the role of the vaccinations, what it means, and what the pros and cons were,” he told NIT. “The benefits far outweigh the negatives. If I got COVID and I wasn’t vaccinated, based on statistics, I could be in serious trouble.”

“Even with the vaccinations … I might not be 100% covered and I still might get the virus, but based on research around hospitalisations, death, and long-term effects from COVID, if I’m vaccinated, there’s less likelihood that will happen to me.”

He said it’s important to be aware that not all information available about the vaccinations will be reliable. “Try and avoid taking things from Facebook or from your particular websites that have no evidence about whether that information is accurate or not,” he said. “I know it’s difficult to do, particularly when it’s coming from family or family’s Facebook pages, but I still say that may not necessarily be accurate information. What’s best is to go and speak to medical professionals.”

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

Andrew Birtwistle Smith.

Andrew Birtwistle Smith: Image source: National Indigenous Times.

COVID-19 resources for carers

The current COVID-19 restrictions are affecting many among us in Australia, particularly family carers caring for a person at the end of life. To support them in their caring role, a  range of information resources have been developed by CarerHelp, including factsheets on:

  • Caring for a person at the end of life at home during COVID-19
  • Caring for a person at the end of life in hospital during COVID-19
  • Funerals and grieving during COVID-19
  • Using telehealth
  • Can I trust this information
  • Caring during COVID-19 infographics

You can access all of these resources on the CarerHelp website here.

CarerHelp logo & male & female Aboriginal elders

Image sources: CareHelp website and CarerSearch website.

COVID-19 task force commander interview

Lieutenant General John Frewen, the COVID-19 task force commander, was interviewed by Leigh Sales on ABC 7.30. In response to to Ms Sales question “In the race between cases spreading through the population and vaccination spreading through the population, vaccination is winning, but is it moving fast enough that when lockdowns and case numbers inevitably move into much higher figures, that death and serious illness will remain low?” Lieutenant General Frewen replied:

“Leigh, so as you’ve mentioned, I’m glad you’ve seen that the momentum in the vaccine rollout is really picking up speed, but of course, this Delta variant is- it’s really- it spreads rapidly. It’s really concerning. So we do have to have two arms at play. We’ve got to have the lockdowns, the testing, the tracing, the isolation. And then we also need to be vaccinating as quickly as we can. And I’m committed to a national vaccine rollout because I think for the very reason you’ve described about outbreaks moving around, that we do need to make sure that the vaccine rollout is happening as consistently as we can.”

“Ideally in some areas we’ll manage to get to those high rates of vaccination before further outbreaks. But in situations like we’ve got in Sydney right now, which you know are very, very challenging, we’ve got to do the two concurrently. So we’re working to get those vaccines into the highest priority areas as fast as we can. But all of those other measures we’ve got to persist with until we get the spread under control.”

To view a full transcript of the interview click here.

Leigh Sales ABC 7.30

Leigh Sales ABC 7.30. Image source: ABC iView.

COVID-19 vaccine update for GPs webinar

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

11:30am–12:00pm this Thursday 26 August 2021.

Joining Professor Michael Kidd AM will be Dr Lucas de Toca, First Assistant Secretary, COVID-19 Primary Care Response, Department of Health.

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

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

tile light blue background text in navy 'Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update for GPs' pink vector virus cells

All-Aboriginal police station brings huge change

Senior Constable Wendy Kelly helped make history when she transferred to the Aboriginal community of Warakurna: it became Western Australia’s first entirely Indigenous-run police station.

In a video produced by Isabelle Rodd, Senior Constable Kelly explains how a new policing approach had a dramatic effect in the community.

Senior Constable Wendy Kelly, her colleague Revis & Daisy Ward, Ngaanyatjarra Elder standing against police vehicle in outback setting

Senior Constable Wendy Kelly, her colleague Revis & Daisy Ward, Ngaanyatjarra Elder.

Child immunisation rates continue to rise

The Australian Government invests over $450 million each year though the National Immunisation Program, providing free vaccines to protect against 17 disease groups for eligible Australians, including children, adolescents, the elderly, pregnant women and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Among two-year olds, the coverage rate has increased to 92.63% for the 12 months to June 2021. One-year old children have a coverage rate of 94.85%. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children at five years of age continue to have the highest coverage rate of any group at 97.12%. The coverage rate for two-year old Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children increased to 91.96%, while the rate for one-year olds is 93.36%.

To view the media release in full click here.

young Aboriginal child on mother's knee getting vaccinated

Image source: The North West Star.

If you see disrespect, unmute yourself, speak up

As parents and influencers of our young people, we want the best for them, and for our community. You may have seen the Stop it at the Start campaign’s ‘Unmute yourself’ advertising over the past few months. Stop it at the Start is the Australian Government’s national campaign to reduce violence against women.

While not all disrespect results in violence, all violence against women starts with disrespect. We all want our young people to be healthy and proud of who they are. We want them to understand right and wrong, and to respect others and respect themselves. Our young people learn from us — what we say and do tells them what kind of behavior is OK.

Stop it at the Start aims to unite the community to help break the cycle of disrespect and violence against women by:

  • setting positive role models for respectful behaviour
  • unmuting ourselves to ‘speak up’ about disrespect when we see it
  • yarning with young people about respect.

There are simple ways we can all make a positive change. By speaking up about respect, we can make our communities better, stronger places for our future generations.

You can access a range of resources, including the video below, developed especially for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the Australian Government’s Violence Against Women – Let’s Stop it at the Start website here.

New process for job advertising

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

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

Wear it Purple Day

Wear It Purple was founded in 2010 in response to global stories of real teenagers, real heartache and their very real responses. As the world saw the faces of precious young lives lost, some young people found a new sense of conviction and purpose to ensure that young people everywhere would know that there were people who did support and love them. Wear it Purple was established to show young people across the globe that there was hope, that there were people who did support and accept them, and that they have the right to be proud of who they are.

Since 2010, when Wear it Purple was founded Wear it Purple has developed into an international movement. New generations of rainbow young people continue to be dedicated to promoting the annual expression of support and acceptance to rainbow young people.

What started out small has now grown; however the message remains the same. Everybody has the right to be proud of who they are.

For more information you can access the LGBTIQ+ Health Australia website here.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: International Day of World’s Indigenous Peoples

feature tile text 'International Day of the World's Indigenous Peoples a time to recognise ACCHO health Professionals' & photo of 6 Gidgee health workers with COVID-19 polos

International Day of World’s Indigenous Peoples

As the national leadership body for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health in Australia and a member of the Coalition of Peaks, NACCHO advocates for community-developed solutions that contribute to the quality of life and improved health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

We wish to share our appreciation of our health professionals working across all the 143 Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations (ACCHOs). Your dedication, resilience and hard work is what has kept our communities safe during the COVID-19 pandemic with 25% of our mob now fully vaccinated.

For more information on International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples visit the relevant page of the United Nations website here.

tile text 'International Day of the World's Indigenous Peoples 9 August - We Are Indigenous ' photo of 6 women wearing COVID-19 team health worker polos

Gidgee Healing staff wearing NACCHO’s COVID-19 vaccine polo shirts.

ACCHO connects Yarrabah for better healthcare

In the 1980s, when community members at Yarrabah in far north Queensland were fighting for self-determination, they saw the need for Aboriginal health to be in the hands of their own people and the concept of a community-controlled health organisation was born. Today, Gurriny Yealamucka Health Service delivers primary healthcare across the Yarrabah Aboriginal Shire and has been doing so for decades.

To mark the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples the Australian Digital Health Agency (ADHA) has used a series of videos to recognise Gurriny Yealamucka and the Yarrabah community for embracing innovation and the use of technology to deliver better healthcare. Gurriny Yealamucka means ‘good healing water’ in the language of the Gunggandji Peoples of Yarrabah. The Gunggandji peoples are the traditional owners of Yarrabah and they and the historical peoples of Yarrabah, who were brought there as part of the Stolen Generations and have built Yarrabah into what it is today.

This includes the development of a remarkable and resilient healthcare service that moved to digital healthcare in 2014. Director of Clinical Services at Gurriny Yealamucka, a Yued Noongar man from Dandaragan WA, Dr Jason King said one of the fascinating things about Aboriginal culture is that information about the world around them has always been evolving and so communities, almost by second nature, understand the importance of transmitting information from one generation to the next.

To view the Australian Government ADHA media release click here. and watch one of the videos below.

Joint Council locks in Implementation Plans

The Coalition of Peaks (CoP) representatives attended the sixth meeting of the Joint Council on Closing the Gap on Friday 6 August 2021. The meeting focused on the parties Implementation Plans. These plans outline the tangible actions that are to be taken to advance the four Priority Reforms and achieve the socio-economic outcomes committed to under the National Agreement.

“It is pleasing to see the first Implementation Plans under the Agreement. The CoP will be analysing them closely over the coming weeks to understand how governments propose to meet their commitments, timelines, to identify leading examples of good practice and areas where improvements are warranted. The Plans are also an important accountability tool, and the onus is now on every party to turn their commitments into practice, so we meet the objectives of the National Agreement” said Ms Pat Turner, Lead Convenor of the CoP.

“Being only the first round, we all know there will be room for improvement in various areas, and we will continue to work with all jurisdictions to improve and deepen our partnership arrangements as we monitor, measure and expand our efforts to close the gap. All Parties are on a learning curve about how our new partnership can fully transform the way governments work to close the gaps that exist for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians. Opportunities must be taken to learn from those jurisdictions that are taking the most innovative steps in implementing the National Agreement. All parties have committed to regularly update and renew our Implementation Plans, and to strengthen them over time.”

To view the CoP’s media release click here and to access the CoP website click here.

New CTG social services and justice funding

The Morrison Government is investing $98 million in a series of innovative new programs to prevent vulnerable Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families falling through the cracks as part of the first Closing the Gap Implementation Plan. Minister for Families and Social Services Anne Ruston said the new Social Services programs would help address disproportionately high rates or family and domestic violence, and the over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in out of home care. Minister for Indigenous Australians Ken Wyatt said the programs would embed cultural competency and trauma responsiveness by ensuring Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations play a central role in service provision.

To view the media release click here.

Image source: Wandiyali Children’s Services website.

The Australian Government has released the Commonwealth’s first Implementation Plan under the new National Agreement on Closing the Gap. It includes a commitment of more than $1 billion to support Australian Government actions towards achieving the Priority Reforms and the 17 socio-economic outcomes. Over $25 million in targeted investments will be directed towards reducing the overrepresentation of adult and youth Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the criminal justice system (Targets 10 and 11). The Minister for Indigenous Australians, the Hon Ken Wyatt, and I are committed to working in partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, communities and Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations to achieve long term, meaningful change, said the Attorney-General, Michaelia Cash.

To view the media release in full click here.

Image source: The Sydney Morning Herald.

Aboriginal health workers recognised

The Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance Northern Territory (AMSANT), in collaboration with the National Association of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Workers and Practitioners (NAATSIHWP), said it was important to acknowledge and celebrate the National Day of Recognition for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workers and Practitioners on the Saturday 7 August 2021 as the unique workforce of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Worker and Practitioner is the important link between the community and the health provider.

The dedication and success of the Aboriginal Health Worker and Practitioner workforce has underpinned their recognition as world leaders in innovative, culturally-safe health care practice. “AMSANT acknowledges and applauds the commitment and unstinting work of our Aboriginal Health Workers and Practitioners in continuing to provide essential primary health care and trusted support to their communities”, AMSANT CEO, John Paterson said. “I encourage young people to consider the Aboriginal Health Worker and Practitioner profession as a career that is both rewarding and greatly valued by the community”, Mr Paterson concluded.

To view AMSANT media release in full click here.

Image source: Danila Dilba Health Service, NT.

Perth homelessness service opens 

Community Services Minister Simone McGurk has officially launched the new Boorloo Bidee Mia homelessness service for people sleeping rough in the Perth metropolitan area. The transitional accommodation facility at 300 Wellington Street, secured by the Department of Communities with a three-year lease, will provide support for up to 100 adult rough sleepers, including tailored care plans for each resident aimed at addressing their specific needs. The service will operate under the name Boorloo Bidee Mia, which represents ‘Perth pathway to housing’ in the Whadjuk dialect of the Noongar language. It was developed in consultation with Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations (ACCOs) Wungening Aboriginal Corporation and Noongar Mia Mia.

To view the media release in full click here.

Image source: The Property Tribune, WA.

Telehealth and drones can’t fix rural health

Healthcare in regional Australia has always suffered in comparison to the metro areas. Sometimes it’s simply not feasible to offer specialist treatments without a certain population density. Sometimes the equipment is too expensive, too difficult to maintain, or simply too difficult to operate without specialist training.

It’s probably one of the few positives of the COVID-19 pandemic that has seen a quiet change in healthcare. The telehealth appointment. Until March 2020 telehealth appointments received no Medicare rebate and therefore couldn’t be bulk billed. The temporary measure has been extended to the end of 2021 and there are hopes amongst the medical profession that it becomes permanent.

To view the full article in the Central Western Daily click here.

Image source: Drones in Healthcare website.

New end-of-life care legal training 

A free online course on end-of-life law designed to remove uncertainty about patient rights and the legal responsibilities of doctors, nurses, and allied health professionals was launched today (9 August). The End of Life Law for Clinicians course, first launched in 2019 for doctors, has been updated and tailored for all health professionals including medical practitioners and medical students, nurses, paramedics, social workers, speech pathologists, dietitians, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health professionals, occupational therapists, physiotherapists, and psychologists.

A survey of health professionals, as well as previous research undertaken by QUT, has found significant end of life legal knowledge gaps in these groups. The course is the result of years of research by QUT Australian Centre for Health Law Researchers Professor Ben White and Professor Lindy Willmott on health professionals’ knowledge of end-of-life law. It has been developed with QUT palliative care expert Distinguished Professor Patsy Yates and health law researcher Associate Professor Shih-Ning Then.

For further information about the training click here.

Image source: Australian Ageing Agenda website.

Yarning about HPV Vaccination

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women experience a higher burden of cervical cancer than non-Indigenous women in Australia. Cervical cancer is preventable partly through human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination; in Australia, this is delivered through the national school-based immunisation programme. While HPV vaccination uptake is high among Australian adolescents, there remain gaps in uptake and completion among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adolescents.

A new study is being undertaken that aims to gain a comprehensive understanding of the barriers and facilitators to HPV vaccination uptake and completion among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adolescents in Queensland, Australia is being undertaken The study will be guided by an Indigenist research approach and an ecological model for health promotion. Yarning, a qualitative Indigenous research method, will be conducted in up to 10 schools.

For more information about the study click here and to watch a video about HPV vaccine for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander audiences click below.

New process for job advertising

NACCHO have introduced a new system for the advertising of job adverts via the NACCHO website and you can find the sector job listings here. Click here to go to the NACCHO website where you can complete a form with job vacancy details – it will then be approved for posting and go live on the NACCHO website.
dice spelling JOBS resting on keyboard

International Youth Day

International Youth Day (IYD) is to raise awareness designated by the United Nations. The purpose of the day is to draw attention to the problems young people face today and to unite and celebrate youth worldwide. The first IYD was observed on 12 August 2000.

The theme of International Youth Day 2021, “Transforming Food Systems: Youth Innovation for Human and Planetary Health” has the aim of highlighting that the success of such a global effort will not be achieved without the meaningful participation of young people.

IYD this year is on Thursday, 12 August 2021. For more information about IYD you can access the relevant section of the UN website here.

banner text 'International Youth Day' in green capitals & 'transforming food systems Thursday 12 August 2021'

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: 2021 Census – make sure you’re counted

feature tile text 'make sure your community is counted in the 2021 census' & vector image of Australia with orange yellow black brown people all over the map

2021 Census – make sure you’re counted

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) has started sending instructions on how to complete the Census to more than 10 million Australian households ahead of the Census on Tuesday 10 August 2021. For people in remote communities, there will be Census teams available to help households complete their form. Where possible, they’ll be people from within the community.

Chenile Chandler, a young Wurundjeri woman of the Kulin Nations and Census Community Engagement Officer is helping more Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians to understand the benefits of completing the Census. Chenile said the ABS has been working closely with communities to make sure people can take part and be counted, “Our ABS Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander engagement staff, and our Census teams, are there to support community, including the local people who choose work on the Census. Having the right numbers means the right services can be provided in communities. For example, knowing the number of babies in a region can help plan funding for preschools or mums and bubs health programs. There’s plenty of help for our mob to complete the Census, so that everyone participates.”

“You can start as soon as you get your instructions if you know where you’ll be on Census night. You can complete the Census online, on a mobile device or on paper. This will make it easier for people to complete their Census at a time that suits them. Remember, the Census can help plan for community needs. That’s why it’s important to include everyone who is staying in your home on Census night, such as Elders, babies and visitors. Now more than ever, as we live through the COVID-19 pandemic, we need to know the demographics of our communities to help plan programs and services.”

“Your participation in the Census means having the right services for our mob. Make sure you and your family are counted.”

To view the ABS Census media release in full click here and for more information and resources, visit the ABS website here.

banner text 'ABS logo Census on orange strip with Aboriginal art in background

‘Our Story. Our Future.’ was created by proud Wiradjuri, Wotjobaluk, Yuin and Gumbaynggirr artist Luke Penrith and Maluililgal people, Badu Island artist Naseli Tamwoy.

Kimberley communities without drinking water

Throughout WA’s Kimberley region, potentially hundreds of Indigenous residents drink water each day without knowing whether it is harming their health. Those residents live in or regularly visit the 44 remote communities classed as ‘very small’, which are included in the WA Government’s Remote Essential and Municipal Services Program, known as REMS.

In 2019, these communities started receiving annual drinking water testing for only chemical contaminants — four years after a scathing WA Auditor General’s report. Since then, a handful of those very small remote communities have been put on the Department of Communities’ regular water testing schedule. But the vast majority, all of which are in the Kimberley, still do not receive testing for dangerous microbes such as the potentially lethal E. coli bacteria.

That lack of testing was highlighted in this year’s follow-up Auditor General’s report, which found E. coli and uranium contamination still remained an issue in some communities.  Residents in those communities say they, like almost all Australians, deserve to know their drinking water is safe, while experts point to technologies such as mobile testing kits as a potential solution.

To view the full article click here.

two water tanks on a platform, overgrown in bush setting

Successive WA Auditor General reports have highlighted drinking water in remote Indigenous communities as an area of concern. Photo: Erin Parke, ABC Kimberley. Image source: ABC News.

Calls to prioritise support to reduce OOHC

One year after all Australian governments and the Coalition of Peaks signed the National Agreement on Closing the Gap, the Productivity Commission has released the first Annual Data Compilation Report. “As a national member of the Peaks, we welcome the report. It will monitor the progress on key outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children,” SNAICC CEO Catherine Liddle said.

“Our families need urgent support – and the report highlights that systemic transformation is what is required. It calls for governments to change the way they do business with our people to close the gap. This includes continuing to work with our sectors to ensure they are prioritised as the experts in delivering culturally and locally appropriate services to our families. Importantly, this first report also sets baselines to track progress of the Closing the Gap targets and provides building blocks for accountability to the actions that governments make,” Ms Liddle said.

To view the SNAICC media release in full click here.

black & white image of girl holding teddy in one hand and pulling back a curtain with the other hand

Image source: The Guardian.

Oral hygiene promoted

The importance or oral health will be highlighted during Dental Health Week, with children, families and staff at early year services within the Lower Hume (Mitchell and Murrindindi Shires) are getting excited about this year’s theme: Keep your smile for life. Dental Health Services Victoria (DHSV) supports the Australian Dental Association’s campaign, which runs from August 2 to 8. This year’s theme aims to raise awareness across all ages of the importance of maintaining good oral health to keep a smile for life.

DHSV have also launched Aboriginal dental health ambassador’s and resources to help promote oral health to Aboriginal communities this year. These include Wala the Platypus, Dirran the Kangaroo and Dhuna (pronounced thuna) the Koala who promote the Smiles 4 Miles key messages of drink well, clean well and eat well. These characters were created by artist Madison Connors, a proud Yorta Yorta (Wolithica), Dja Dja Wurrung and Kamilaroi woman and mother to two. Wala is the Yorta Yorta word for water, Dirran is the Yorta Yorta word for teeth and Dhuna is the Yorta Yorta word for eat.

The Smiles 4 Miles program is an initiative of DHSV, implemented locally by Lower Hume Primary Care Partnership (PCP) which aims to improve the oral health of preschool aged children and their families by encouraging healthy eating, healthy drinking, good oral hygiene and regular dental visits.

To view the full article in the Riverine Herald click here and for more information on the Smiles 4 Miles program in Lower Hume and resources click here.

Dirran the Kangaroo drawing for Dental Health Week

Aboriginal dental health ambassador’s and resources to help promote oral health to Aboriginal communities have been launched as part of Dental Health Week, including Dirran the Kangaroo.

Gwandalan National Palliative Care Project

BRAMS Newsletter

Broome Regional Aboriginal Medical Service (BRAMS) have published the July edition of their newsletter. In this edition topics covered include SOLID Fit, NDIS service delivery, Health Check Month, COVID-19 vaccine staff stories, capacity building funding and a patient profile.

Click here to view the newsletter.

banner text 'BRAMS NEWSLETTER July 2021' blue red grey black white Aboriginal dot painting

Indigenous aged care preferred

The majority of older Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people prefer to access aged care provided by Aboriginal services, a Neuroscience Research Australia study has found. The study, published in the Australasian Journal on Ageing, investigated Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’s preferences for health and aged care services.

It involved 336 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 60 years or older from both regional and urban areas. Most participants reported a preference for care from an Aboriginal community-controlled service (59%) but 10% prefer a mainstream service and almost a third indicate they are comfortable receiving either (31%).

NeuRA Aboriginal Health and Ageing Group lead Dr Kylie Radford said the research highlighted a lack of cultural safety for older Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in mainstream aged care, “There is a strong preference for accessing services and receiving services through Aboriginal community-controlled health organisations and a lot of people say that they would only receive services through that means. One of the upshots of that is where those services aren’t available or accessible, people may not be receiving any services because mainstream services are not seen as appropriate or culturally safe.”

The study identified racism as the main reason Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people preferred to receive care from Aboriginal services.

To view the full article click here.

elderly Aboriginal man and woman against blurred green foliage

Image source: Australian Ageing Agenda.

New process for job advertising

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

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


dice spelling JOBS resting on keyboard

World Breastfeeding Week

Set every August for the first seven days of the month, World Breastfeeding Week aims to raise awareness of the health and wellbeing outcomes of breastfeeding and the importance of supporting mothers to breastfeed for as long as they wish.

The event is organised every year by the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA), a global network that aims to protect, promote and support breastfeeding around the world. Along the way, it works with the World Health Organization and UNICEF to get its aid to the right people in the right communities.

Traditionally breastfeeding was common practice for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women. The traditional way was to breastfeed for up to four years, sometimes longer, gradually introducing nutritious bush foods. Today the good news is that most Aboriginal women (83%) begin breastfeeding. You can access the booklet Yarning about breastfeeding: Celebrating our stories booklet produced by VACCHO here.

For more information about World Breastfeeding Week 1–7 August 2021 click here.