NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Get hair this Movember!

The image in the feature tile is a a Twitter post from Kambu Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Corporation for Health promoting their Movember event held at their Ipswich clinic, Queensland on 27 November 2020.

Get hairy this Movember!

Movember is the leading global charity changing the face of men’s health, focusing on mental health and suicide prevention, prostate cancer and testicular cancer. Since 2003, Movember has funded more than 1,250 men’s health projects around the world. Movember has set the goal of reducing the number of men dying prematurely by 25 and halve the number of deaths from prostate and testicular cancer by 2030.

For more information visit the Movember website here. This website includes examples of projects funded by Movember such as (1) Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Men’s research, a 12 month research grant to conduct research into common mental disorders among Koori Men, and to identify, test and investigate whether treatment for common mental disorders results in an improvement in general health and wellbeing of Koori Men; and (2) Mibbinbah, otherwise known as ‘Men’s Spaces’, an organisation, program and concept that centres on the idea that men require safe spaces within their communities to discuss issues and share experiences. This conceptual basis is similar to that of the Men’s Sheds program.

NACCHO staff participants of the 2022 Movember challenge.

Calls for data after NT alcohol bans lifted

A lobby group has called on the NT to release more data illustrating the extent of the harm caused, since long-term alcohol bans were lifted across dozens of Indigenous communities in July this year. There is particular concern around the level of alcohol-related harm occurring in the Central Australian town of Alice Springs, which serves as a services hub for dozens of surrounding communities.

While the NT government said there had been “no substantial increases” in harm to the community since the Stronger Futures legislation ended, police and other frontline organisations have told a different story about the impact alcohol is having. In the the latest NT Police statistics, there was a 159% jump in assaults involving alcohol in Alice Springs in August 2022, compared to the same period last year.

But the extent of the harm cannot be fully captured without additional data being from the NT government, according to leading alcohol reform lobby group People’s Alcohol Action Coalition (PAAC). PAAC spokesperson John Boffa said the number of assaults causing serious harm — broken down by region — was a key data set held by the government.

To view the ABC News article Alcohol data dashboard still in the works after bans lifted, as assaults surge in Alice Springs in full click here.

Dr Boffa wants real-time data on alcohol harm to be made public. Photo: Tobias Hunt, ABC News.

Lowitja Institute Major Grant Round webinar

Lowitja Institute’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Major Grant Round 2022-23 is now open for applications.

The purpose of the Major Grants is to support innovative and responsive community research led by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community controlled organisations to improve the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. The aim is for research to influence policy and practice through the rapid translation of community priorities for improved outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and wellbeing. It will also support the capability and capacity building of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations to do their own research, their way.

Applications are now open and close on Monday 21 November 2022. More information can be found on the Lowitja Institute website here.

Following success of the first Q&A webinar held on Friday 28 October 2022, and with the closing date for applications fast approaching, the Lowitja Institue Research and Knowledge Translation team will be hosting a second webinar to answer any questions community organisations may have with the application process.

The webinar will be hosted on Friday 4 November 2022 at 12.30pm AEDT. You can sign up for the webinar here.

Background image from Bond University website.

Campaign to bust end-of-life services myths

A new campaign placing the spotlight on palliative care services for Indigenous people has been launched by Australia’s health sector. Palliative Care Australia’s (PCA) Federal Government-funded More Than You Think campaign launched in September to prompt conversations and connect people to end-of-life care and support.

Palliative Care Australia chief executive Camilla Rowland said the campaign was challenging misconceptions about the service. “The campaign helps communities tap into the support that is currently available and builds awareness of some to the questions this stage of life can prompt, but our friends in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health sector tell us that much more needs to be done,” she said. “PCA has engaged with a group of Aboriginal health leaders to create the Palliative Care Yarning Circle to offer advice on existing programs and consider next steps. “It’s important to us that this work is led and shaped by the people it seeks to serve.”

Ms Rowland said cultural sensitivities needed to be understood for culturally appropriate care to be delivered. Complementing the More Than You Think campaign and PCA’s ongoing advocacy is the grassroots work of the Indigenous Program Experience in Palliative Approach (IPEPA), Caring@Home, and the Gwandalan Palliative Care Project.

To view the National Indigenous Times article Palliative Care Australia launches campaign to bust myths about end-of-life services in full click here. The video below is part of the animation series: Demystifying palliative care and dying for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples available on the Palliative Care NSW website here.

Making all equal at front door of health system

Following the outcome of this year’s Federal Election, Health Minister Mark Butler convened the Strengthening Medicare Taskforce (SMT). At its first meeting, the SMT established five focus areas to guide its recommendations to the Australian Minister of Health and Aged Care. The fifth focus area is to provide “universal health care and access for all through health care that is inclusive and reduces disadvantage.”

Providing universal healthcare means every person needs to be equal at the front door of the health system. It is well established that “where you live, how much you earn, whether you have a disability, your access to services and many other factors can affect your health”. These issues are compounded by issues related to funding models, workforce capacity and workforce distribution.

Planning true universal health care requires recognition of the health issues facing our most marginalised members of society. The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) states that: Overall, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, people from areas of socioeconomic disadvantage, people in rural and remote locations, and people with disability experience more health disadvantages than other Australians. These disadvantages can include higher rates of illness and shorter life expectancy. Further, the AIHW reports that While many aspects of Indigenous health have improved, challenges still exist. Indigenous Australians have a shorter life expectancy than non-Indigenous Australians and are at least twice as likely to rate their health as fair or poor.

To view the article The Strengthening Medicare Taskforce: Making everyone equal at the front door of the health system in full click here.

Image source: STAT+.

Sector Jobs

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

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

Lung Cancer Awareness Month

Lung Cancer Awareness Month is observed annually in November and highlights the need for more research to be conducted while cultivating a better understanding of the disease. This is an important time of the year, that brings the community together to help provide awareness, and to inform and educate people on the signs and symptoms of the disease. It is the fifth most common cancer in Australia, with around 12,000 Australians diagnosed each year. In 2015, 11,788 new cases of lung cancer were diagnosed in Australia, this equates to nearly 9% of all cancers that were diagnosed that year. In 2016, 8410 deaths were caused by lung cancer in Australia.

According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) report Cancer in Australia 2021 lung cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and the leading cause of cancer-related mortality. If lung cancer is found at an earlier stage, there is more chance of a better outcome. It’s important to know the symptoms of lung cancer as although lung cancer occurs mostly in people aged 60 and over, it can affect people of any age. New and constantly evolving treatments such as immunotherapy are likely to continue to improve outcomes for people affected by lung cancer.

You can find more information about lung cancer on the Lung Foundation Australia website here.

Image source: MNA Group Limited website.

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: NACCHO Conference 2022 highlights

The image in the feature tile is of NACCHO Chair Donnella Mills at the NACCHO Members’ Conference 2022, Tuesday 18 October 2022.

NACCHO Conference 2022 highlights

The two videos below include highlights from the NACCHO Youth Conference 2022 held on Monday 17 October 2022 and the NACCHO Members’ Conference 2022, held from Tuesday 18 to Thursday 20 October 2022.

Coonamble AHS launch new health app

The Coonamble Aboriginal Health Service (CAHS) has broken new ground by developing a mobile app to connect people to health services and promotion. The Fair Dinkum Choices ™ app was launched on Friday 21 October at Western Plains Zoo in Dubbo with a bevy of high profile supporters on hand.

Glen Inglis, former NRL International, has signed on to help champion the app and spoke at the launch about his own story and his Goanna Academy, the first accredited and Indigenous-owned mental health organisation in Australia. He was joined by current NRL player Brett Naden, former National Basketball League star Tyson Demos, the Honorable Mark Coulton MP, Rob Skeen CEO of the Aboriginal Health & Medical Research Council (AH&MRC), Andrew Coe, CEO of the Western Public Health Network, the CAHS Board of Directors and other government officials as well as community members and school students. Master of Ceremonies for the launch was comedian Sean Choolburra and Coonamble’s own Castlereagh Connection provided musical entertainment.

CEO Phil Naden says that CAHS have been working on the app for at least 18 months. “It came out of a grassroots health promotion conversation we had in the community,” Mr Naden said. “We got the idea for the wording ‘Fair Dinkum Choices’ from Jonathon Knight out in Bourke.” “He talks a lot on social media about making ‘fair dinkum choices’ and so I rang and asked him if we could turn this into a health promotion and he said ‘go for it.'”

To read the Western Plains App article CAHS launch health app in full click here.

Beau Ewers, Jonathan Knight, Phil Naden at the launch of ‘Fair Dinkum Choices’. Photo: Bageshri Savyasachi. Image source: Daily Liberal.

Police, not crime behind swelling prisons

In a speech to the Australian Institute of Criminology today, Assistant Minister for Treasury, Dr Andrew Leigh, said Australia’s incarceration rate has more than doubled since the mid-1980s while most crimes have fallen.  Leigh said the “issue has instead been with how we have chosen to handle complex social challenges. Stricter policing, tougher sentencing and more stringent bail laws appear to be the main drivers behind Australia’s growing prison population.”

In 2020 research, Leigh – a former economics professor – estimated recurrent spending on prisons totalled $4.7b annually, or $240 for every Australian adult. If the incarceration rate remained at its 1985 level, Australia would save $2.6 billion annually.

Incarceration particularly affects Indigenous Australians, among whom “the incarceration rate has risen from 1% in 1990 to 2.3% today,” and is now more than twice as high as when the 1991 Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody report was delivered. “Based on the available data, incarceration rates for Indigenous Australians are higher than for African-Americans in the US. They are also higher than for Indigenous people in Canada, NZ and the US.”

University of SA emeritus professor of law and criminal justice Rick Sarre said Leigh was smart to frame the argument as an economic one, adding there were “thousands of things you could do” with the money states poured into incarceration. If you pump [the funds] into welfare services, child protection, Indigenous mentoring, mental health support, supplementing income for families in crisis, then you’re going to get far better bang for your buck than waiting for people to screw up and putting them behind bars, which is probably the most inefficient way of stopping crime,” Sarre said.

To view the Brisbane Times article Policing, not crime is behind swelling prisons – and it’s costing billions: MP in full click here.

Image source: Law Society Journal Online.

Health Literacy Strategy – we need your feedback!

The National Health Literacy Strategy Framework Paper is now open for public consultation.

Your feedback is important and will be used to inform the content, approach and structure of the National Health Literacy Strategy.

NACCHO is encouraging all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and organisations, including the health sector, to please take a few minutes to complete the National Health Literacy Strategy Consultation Online Survey here.

The deadline for input is Wednesday 9 November 2022.

You can access the strategy and online survey below:

Consultation Paper – Development of the National Health Literacy Strategy

National Health Literacy Strategy Framework Consultation Survey Questions

Image source: Australian Commission of Safety and Quality in Health Care.

First care standard on stillbirth launch

You are invited to join the online launch of the first national Stillbirth Clinical Care Standard, developed by the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care. The event will be streamed live from the Annual National Stillbirth Forum being held from 3–4 November 2022.

Stillbirth is a tragic and profound experience that affects more than 2,000 families in Australia every year. Despite being the most common form of perinatal death in Australia, the experience of stillbirth can be hidden due to stigma, taboo and a culture of silence.

At the launch of the Stillbirth Clinical Care Standard from12:30 PM – 1:30 PM AEDT Friday 4 November 2022 you can hear leading experts discuss best practice in preventing stillbirth, investigations after stillbirth and the importance of bereavement care after perinatal loss. This event is relevant to all healthcare professionals involved in providing care during pregnancy, and after stillbirth or other forms of perinatal loss.

Click here to register.

ACCHOs issuing bowel cancer screening kits

Catch Bowel Cancer Early.

From October 2022 ALL ACCHOs can issue bowel cancer screening kits direct to community.

For more information contact the NACCHO Cancer Team by phone 0498 290 059 or by email using this link.

$171m for Qld end-of-life care

Palliative and End-of-Life Care Strategy and Queensland Health Specialist Palliative Care Workforce Plan launched last week. In a statement, minister for health and ambulance services Yvette D’Ath said she understood people with life-limiting illnesses wanted choice and a greater say in where they wished to die.

A total of $102m of the government’s extra investment will go to attracting, recruiting and retaining a specialist palliative-care workforce through the state’s health network. This will include an extra 231 full-time frontline employees such as professional nurses, doctors, physios, and counsellors. “First Nations communities will also benefit from a significant increase in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health workers, as well as targeted funding to trial innovative models of care to support families experiencing sad news and/or sorry business when losing a loved one or community member.”

To read The Mandarin story Queensland invests more for services to bring dignity to end-of-life in full click here.

Image source: Gwandalan Supporting Palliative Care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Communities website.

Sector Jobs

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: ACCHOs to deliver Integrated Team Care Program

The image in the feature tile is from the Nhulundu Health Service (Gladstone, QLD) Integrated Team Care  webpage.

ACCHOs to deliver Integrated Team Care Program

Aboriginal Medical Services (AMSs) in Western NSW will reap new funding from a revised program which aims to improve health outcomes for Indigenous patients with chronic illnesses, while also increasing capabilities of the services themselves.

CEO of Western NSW Primary Health Network (WNSW PHN), Andrew Coe, has announced the Integrated Team Care Program will be delivered by AMSs in the region from January 1, 2023.

“We are very excited that the revised Integrated Team Care Program is giving us the opportunity to support the enhancement of capacity and capability in our region’s AMSs and deliver even better health outcomes for Indigenous people living with chronic disease in Western NSW,” Mr Coe said.

WNSW PHN’s decision and new funding from the Integrated Team Care Program was welcomed by CEO of Coonamble, Dubbo and Gilgandra AMSs, Phil Naden. “I’m looking forward to a strengthened approach in working with WNSW PHN and I’m keen to commence the project in our locations to service Aboriginal clients in the region,” Mr Naden said.

The revised program was a “powerful opportunity” for service providers and people in their care, according to chief executive officer of Orange AMS, Jamie Newman. “Our organisation is very excited by the ‘place based’ approach by WNSW PHN for the Integrated Team Care Program and the disbursement of funds to each AMS in the region,” Mr Newman said.

“We are ultimately responsible for the care and treatment of our clients in Orange and to have the authority to make a decision on additional support for our clients who meet the Integrated Team Care criteria is welcomed and supported by our team”.

Walgett AMS (WAMS) CEO Christine Corby and chief operations manager for WAMS and Brewarrina AMS (BAMS), Katrina Ward, said the revised program was “guaranteed” to help local people wanting care.

To view the Daily Liberal article Western NSW Primary Health Network announces Integrated Care program funding will boost Aboriginal Medical Services in full click here.

Moorditj Koort Aboriginal Corporation (MKAC) ITCP staff. Image source: MKAC website.

COVID isolation rule change ‘too early’

The NT’s peak Aboriginal health body has criticised national cabinet’s decision to scrap mandatory COVID isolation rules. From October 14, COVID-positive people will no longer be required  to isolate for five days at home.

John Paterson, CEO of the Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance NT (AMSANT), said it was “too early” to let COVID-positive people freely move about the community and potentially spread the virus. “We’ve had more Aboriginal deaths in the Northern Territory from COVID than non-Aboriginal people,” he told ABC Radio Darwin. “We have to ensure that we keep the most at-risk population safe and prevent this very serious virus from entering into our vulnerable communities.”

To view the ABC News article AMSANT boss John Paterson says COVID isolation rule change is ‘too early’ for ‘vulnerable’ Aboriginal communities in full click here.

A related LADbible article Expert warns it’s too early to ditch Covid-19 isolation rules due to vulnerable Indigenous communities can be read here.

AMSANT CEO John Paterson. Image source: ABC News.

AMA rejects NSW pharmacist trial

The Australian Medical Association (AMA) has urged the NSW State Government to abandon any consideration of a trial that would allow pharmacists to prescribe antibiotics for urinary tract infections (UTIs), saying it will lead to poorer outcomes for patients. AMA Federal President Professor Steve Robson said  “There are critical issues facing general practice with years of underfunding pushing significant numbers of GPs to retire earlier, while fewer doctors are choosing general practice as a speciality.”

“Governments need to come to the table with viable solutions to support general practice and build collaborative models of care — not changes that completely undervalue the quality of care that is provided through general practice and fragment patient care. This dangerous experiment signals a lack of respect for general practice and the years of training, experience, and knowledge required to properly diagnose and treat a medical condition. If implemented in NSW, it will have dire consequences for the future of the workforce.”

Professor Robson said the trial was bad for general practice and there was also little prospect that it would alleviate pressure on our public hospitals.

To view the AMA media release Pharmacist prescribing a dangerous proposition which won’t fix workforce issue in full click here.

Image source: Hospital and Healthcare website.

Improving maternity services for mob

More than 250 representatives from First Nations communities, health services, universities and research institutes, will join together in Mparntwe (Alice Springs) to explore the scope for system-wide reform to secure the ‘best start to life’ for First Nations babies and their families. The 2022 Best Start to Life Conference: a national gathering in Mparntwe is being co-hosted by Molly Wardagugu Research Centre, Charles Darwin University (CDU) and Central Australian Aboriginal Congress (CAAC) to improve maternity services for First Nations communities and, ultimately, reduce maternal health inequities in the Northern Territory.

To view the joint CAAC and CDU media release Maternity services redesigned for First Nations women in full click here.

Photo: Bobbi Lockyer. Image source: ABC News.

Involuntary treatment could cause harm

Clinicians in charge of admitting people to involuntary drug and alcohol treatment are concerned about potentially re-traumatising Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the process, according to Australian research. The team conducted in-depth interviews with 11 clinicians, 6 of whom had committed a First Nations person to one of two facilities in NSW.

The researchers say while nine of the 11 participants say ethnicity does not influence the decision to refer someone to involuntary care, 10 of 11 said they were worried the process could be culturally unsafe. Taking people off their country and removing them from their families were major concerns, the researchers say. Greater involvement of Aboriginal healthcare services and care that approaches physical health, mental health and addiction at the same time were proposed as potential ways to improve the system.

To view the SCIMEX article Clinicians worry admitting First Nations people to involuntary drug and alcohol treatment could cause harm in full click here.

Image source: Dreamstime website.

Access to vital blood tests in remote health

A newly funded Flinders University project is looking to improve access to full blood examination tests for rural and remote healthcare patients, improving patient outcomes and reducing health costs, while ensuring equitable health access for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. Despite being the most requested lab pathology test in Australia, full blood examination tests are not reliably accessible in rural and remote communities, leading to delayed diagnosis and treatment.

The study will trial a newly available point-of-care testing (POCT) device which provides full blood examination results in less than 10 minutes, a significant improvement from the current laboratory test turn-around times of around 3 to 7 days in remote communities. Project Chief Investigator Dr Brooke Spaeth, Research Fellow and Coordinator of Flinders University’s NT POCT Program, says the availability of the test is especially important for time-critical clinical conditions, such as sepsis, where early and accurate diagnosis can significantly improve patient outcomes and has the potential to save lives.

“The rapid results of the point-of-care full blood examination test is likely to improve the diagnosis detection of sepsis, which disproportionately effects Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, particularly in remote communities of the NT, therefore reducing sepsis related morbidity and mortality,” says Dr Spaeth.

To view the Flinders University media release Ensuring access to vital blood tests in remote health care in full click here.

Image source: Well in Truth website.

Youth offender laws to be reviewed

After years of crises in WA’s youth justice system the State Government announced on Tuesday it will undertake a review of youth offender laws. Corrective Services Minister Bill Johnston has directed the Department of Justice to examine the extent to which the Young Offenders Act 1994 is achieving its objectives.

Banksia Hill, WA’s only dedicated youth detention facility, has been the scene of multiple serious disturbances including riots in 2013 and 2017. Aboriginal children are radically over-represented in the youth justice system and particularly in youth detention. Recent data shows Indigenous young people are 21 times as likely as non-Indigenous youth to be incarcerated in WA.

This month the Aboriginal Legal Service of WA told the Royal Commission they had received hundreds of complaints about conditions in Banksia Hill, including allegations of excessive physical violence, strip searches, sexual assaults, use of solitary confinement, and racism.

Indigenous and international human rights law expert Hannah McGlade said the review was welcome but there was also a need for urgent reform. “A youth justice task force needs to be urgently established to address the crisis. There are serious concerns Aboriginal children and youth are at high risk of self-harm including suicide. We are calling on the government to support and ensure Aboriginal children (in the justice system) have culturally appropriate health care from Derbarl Yerrigan Health Service.”

To view the National Indigenous Times article WA Government to review crisis-plagued youth offender laws in full click here.

Photo: Danella Bevis. Image source: The West Australian.

Sector Jobs

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Months after floods, mob still homeless

Image in the feature tile of the Lismore floods in March 2022. Image source: Southern Cross University article Lismore floodwater enough to fill half of Sydney Harbour published on 23 May 2022.

Months after floods, mob still homeless

After moving accommodation five times in five months, Nyangbal and Dunghutti woman Teresa Anderson has had enough. The elder’s Cabbage Tree Island home, nestled on a flood plain of cane fields in northern NSW, was deemed uninhabitable after the February floods. She has been homeless since. “I’ve been moved around five times,” she said.  It’s taken a toll on my health. I couldn’t even cope, I couldn’t go to work. It just got me really emotional.” Teresa Anderson was in good health before the floods. But she believes a series of new health issues have been direct result of the grief and stress of being displaced. “Im struggling,” she said.

According to the Jali Local Aboriginal Land Council, today, almost six months after the disaster, about 500 of the 1,296 northern NSW residents that are still homeless are First Nations people.  “That tells me clearly that we’re disproportionate again in relation to the numbers of people that are homeless,” Widjabul man and Jali Land Council chief executive Chris said.

To view the ABC News article Indigenous families still homeless months after the floods, as leaders say First Nations people are being overlooked for rentals in full click here.

After moving five times in five months, Teresa Anderson says she’s had enough. Photo: Emma Rennie, ABC News.

Discrimination a key homelessness factor

WA Commissioner for Equal Opportunity, Dr John Byrne AM, says a lot of discussion is had about how to fix homelessness once it has occurred.  While Dr Byrne says “this discussion is an extremely important one as we do need more affordable housing and shelters for people who cannot access WA’s ever inflating rental market” he believes “it is important to explore one of the major factors that allows homelessness to occur – discrimination.”

Dr Byrne said he’d “like to do this by focusing on three of the major grounds of discrimination: sex, impairment and race, which also relates to three major cohorts within the homeless population.” Systemic race discrimination is also a contributing factor to homelessness.  Aboriginal people make up around 3% of the total population and 28% of the homeless population. This is also a community impacted greatly by systemic discrimination and bias in employment. Aboriginal people are under-represented in decision making roles at work and over-represented in unemployment, this is also exacerbated by over representation of Aboriginal people in our prison system. Prisoners often need to have housing before release on parole and may remain in prison at significant expense to the state due to lack of housing.

To view the article From the Commissioner – Fix homelessness by addressing discrimination in full click here. A related WA Department of Communities news story Homelessness Week 2022 ends highlighting progress is possible if we work together mentions the success of Booloo Bidee Mia, a supported accommodation service for Perth CBD rough sleepers, and is available here.

Aboriginal people living in Victoria make up 8% of those sleeping rough, despite being only 1% of the population. Photo: AAP. Image source: SBS NITV.

AMC mental health reforms criticised

The delivery of mental health services to detainees at Canberra’s Alexander Maconochie Centre (AMC) – particularly the 24% who are Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander – is ineffective, the Auditor-General declared in a March report. The ACT Government last week agreed to most of the report’s recommendations – 10 fully, eight in principle, and one noted, to be delivered through a different tool – by the end of 2023.

Aboriginal advocate Julie Tongs, head of Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health and Community Services, which runs an autonomous Health and Wellbeing Clinic in the prison, is concerned some of these measures have been tried before and failed. “I feel like I’m in a time warp,” Ms Tongs said. “It’s a challenging environment, but why waste money when money’s short on the ground?”

Nor, she said, was Winnunga consulted; decisions were made without them. “All the buzz about co-design – the decision’s already been made – so how do you co-design around that? What role do we now have to play in that, when we weren’t at the table to discuss any of this?” Government, she says, must have a discussion or a roundtable to sort this out; she is keen to sit down with stakeholders and work out their processes and expectations.

To view the Canberra Weekly article ‘Time warp’: Winnunga critical of mental health reforms at AMC in full click here.

Alexander Maconochie Centre. Photo: Ian Cutmore, ABC News.

Palliative Care Clinic Box launched today

caring@home today launched its Palliative Care Clinic Box which contains a suite of tailored resources to support the provision of palliative care at home for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. The launch, taking place at the Compass Conference in Darwin, follows an 18-month nationwide consultation process with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, health professionals in specialist and generalist services and relevant peak bodies.

Project Director, Professor Liz Reymond said the resources can support the provision of at home palliative care symptom management. “When care at home is preferred, it can be provided to help connect family, culture, community, Country and the spiritual wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.” This project is funded by the Australian Government and is conducted by a consortium involving Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet, the Congress of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Nurses and Midwives and Palliative Care Australia (CATSINaM) and is led by the Brisbane South Palliative Care Collaborative.

The caring@home Palliative Care Clinic Box is free and can be ordered from the caring@home website here. You can view the caring@home media release about the launch of its Palliative Care Clinic Box here.

Caleb follows pathway to healthcare job

As part of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander career pathway day, Far North Queensland Indigenous students have been given a glimpse into the world of healthcare. Revolving around the opportunities available at Mater Private Hospital in Townsville, students from the region’s high schools attended an information day where they learnt about the healthcare needs of First Nations people and Aboriginal Torres Strait Islander traineeships. Mater Townsville Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander liaison officer Beth Hickson said the career day provided students with meaningful pathways they might not have otherwise known about.

One student who has benefited from the program is Caleb Baker, who recently won the school-based apprentice or trainee of the year. Mr Baker is currently working at the Mater Private Hospital while completing his Certificate III in health services assistance. “I was nervous about how I would transition from school to work, but just being acknowledged as someone who can work hard has made me feel really good about it,” he said.

Since he was young, Mr Baker has always wanted to make an impact. He cites empowering fellow Indigenous folk in healthcare as one of his main goals, with sights set on how better healthcare could help close the gap. “Having more Indigenous people in the health industry can help break down those barriers. It would make Indigenous people who are seeking help about their health feel a lot more comfortable, Mr Baker said.

To view the National Indigenous Times article Caleb Baker’s life goal help people through healthcare, and it all started with a hospital work placement in full click here.

Mater Townsville Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander liaison officer Beth Hickson, Caleb Baker and Seed Foundation engagement officer De’arne French. Image source: National Indigenous Times.

Health sector must lead on climate change

Over 300 people, including the Chief Medical Officer Professor Paul Kelly, attended the AMA and Doctors for the Environment Australia (DEA) webinar – Climate change and sustainability: leadership and action from Australian doctors earlier this week.

Laureate Professor Nicholas Talley outlined the duty medical professionals have in treating climate change as a global health emergency, and Professor Alexandra Barratt highlighted the carbon footprint of low value care. Eleven medical colleges provided updates on the climate action they are taking, and highlighted specific climate change health impacts related to their specialty.

Professor Robson wrapped up the webinar saying “As President of the AMA, I seek a strong and united coalition for action because I don’t think we have any time to lose. As a profession, we have a responsibility to do everything we can to bequeath a heathy planet to our children and their children. “Climate change will have health effects on a scale that people are barely able to comprehend. We’re already seeing a series of rolling health crises around the world, but these are just the beginning. We’re facing the prospect of literally billions of climate refugees across the planet, it’s a crisis so enormous that it’s almost impossible to grasp.”

You can read The National Tribune article AMA & DEA urge health sector to lead on climate change here and the joint AMA and DEA media release Governments and the healthcare sector must lead on climate change here.

Photo: Adobe Stock. Image source: Healio.

High-tech, low-resource medical training

Port Augusta is embracing its medical practitioners – or kulpi minupa – of the future. The town’s residents are in the midst of hosting an eight-week placement by seven second-year medical students. The aspiring GPs, dubbed “cloud doctors” in the Nukunu dialect, have spent time at the flying doctor service, the hospital and Aboriginal health services to gain an insight into what it would be like working in the country, potentially at Port Augusta.

In what is a new way of medical training, the Adelaide Rural Clinical School linked with the Indigenous community, the Royal Flying Doctor Service and the University of Adelaide to launch the Kulpi Minupa Program. Student Tarran Dunn, who was among a group of undergraduates from Adelaide, NSW, Tasmania and elsewhere, said the experience would shape “the rest of our lives and skills in medicine” He said he and his colleagues had spent time with interns and surgical registrars at the hospital as well as gained an insight into Aboriginal health.

Professor Lucie Walters, director of the clinical school, said the scheme was a “high-tech, low-resource” medical training approach. “If we want to create the next generation of rural doctors to work at the flying doctor service and in remote Australia, we need to train them for the environment in which we want them to work,” she said. “The program brings Aboriginal medical students and rurally-based students to Port Augusta where we are piloting the kind of technology that we need to teach them to work in places such as Port Augusta, Cummins, Arkaroola or Roxby Downs.” The students will work at the ACCHO, Pika Wiya Health Service.

To read The Transcontinental Port Augusta article Port Augusta rolls out the welcome mat for second-year university medical students in full click here.

Image source: Pika Wiya Health Service Aboriginal Corporation Facebook page.

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: PM’s Voice to Parliament proposal

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

PM’s Voice to Parliament

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

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

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

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

Goodbye Archie, who gave voice to many

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

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

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

Pharmacist guideline for supporting mob

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

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

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

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

Image source: Pharmaceutical Society of Australia website.

Ideally placed to help family violence victims

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

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

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

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

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

Mob with disability a double disadvantage

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

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

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

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

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

Complexity of GP role needs respect

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

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

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

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

Image source: General Practice Training Queensland.

Healing power of the arts

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

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

To view the Health Times article ‘Like Narnia’: the healing power of music in full click here.

New process for job advertising

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: 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:

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. “It 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.