NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: progressing the Australia Day debate

feature tile, Aboriginal & national flag hanging horizontally, words: Stolen Generations history needed to progress the Australia Day debate

Progressing the Australia Day debate

The Healing Foundation CEO, Fiona Petersen, spoke with Virginia Trioli on ABC Radio Melbourne ‘Mornings’ today about the importance of Stolen Generations history being taught as part of the Australian school curriculum. Fiona said the Healing Foundation encourages school communities to engage with survivors in their local area to learn about not just what happened when they were removed and the follow-on effects of that, but also how they and their families have been overcoming what happened. Fiona agreed that if Stolen Generations history is taught more broadly in schools it is likely to better inform the ongoing conversation about Australia Day.

To view the full transcript of the interview click here.

Aboriginal people with large banner National Day of Mourning 26 January

Image source: Teach Indigenous Knowledge.

COVID-19 patient identification and racism

The Australian Indigenous Doctors’ Association (AIDA) is the peak body representing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander medical students and doctors in Australia. During the COVID-19 pandemic, AIDA members witnessed incidents of racism related to patient identification. Patient identification is imperative to providing culturally safe health care to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients. In one instance, a patient who identified as Aboriginal was denied testing for COVID-19. The justification for this denial was that priority testing would only be offered to “real Aborigines”. Incidents like these highlight the need to improve the cultural safety of all healthcare workers and that increasing community education about why asking all patients whether they identify as being of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander origin is vital.

AIDA advocates for best practice in patient identification to support the development of policies and services related to the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Culturally safe practice begins with sensitively, correctly, and regularly asking the identification question at the admission of care. Addressing under-identification includes asking all patients the identity question and recording responses accurately as one of several best practice principles.

To view AIDA’s position paper on patient identification click here.

desktop resource used as a prompt to 'asking the question' "are you of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander origin?"

Desktop resource to prompt ‘asking the question’. Image source: The University of Melbourne.

Measuring self-reported racism in healthcare

Racism is a fundamental cause of ill health and health inequities globally. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander stakeholders have identified as a high priority, research on the experiences of discrimination, overall and specifically within healthcare. Regardless of the measure used, there is consistent evidence of high exposure to discrimination in this population. High quality measurement of experiences of discrimination is therefore essential to underpin action to improve health and reduce inequities.

A recent article in the International Journal for Equity in Health, Developing and validating measures of self-reported everyday and healthcare discrimination for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults looks at instruments to capture Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ experiences of interpersonal discrimination. The instruments can be used to enable valid measurement of discrimination’s prevalence, in order to identify priority targets for action, quantify discrimination’s contribution to health and health inequities, monitor trends, and evaluate interventions.

To view the paper in full click here.

Image source: The Royal Melbourne Hospital website.

Confronting Australia’s collective racism

In health, ‘bravery’ is something that is typically used about patients. Children (and sometimes adults) are asked to be ‘brave’ when they receive a vaccination. People are often called brave for sharing stories of mental illness to destigmatise it. Sometimes, just seeing a health professional is brave, if the issue is very personal or potentially embarrassing.

However, bravery has now been used about health professionals and policymakers in the 2021 State of Reconciliation in Australia Report: Moving from Safe to Brave. This is the second report (the first being in 2016) outlining where Australia is at with reconciliation between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and other Australians. The report is based on interviews with leaders of national Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations, leaders of relevant non-Indigenous organisations, corporate leaders and Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) partners.

To view the Croakey article in full click here.

street march, lady with flag Aboriginal colours, words no room for racism inside yellow map of Aust, against black top and red lower half of flag, young Aboriginal girl with drum

Image source: The Conversation.

Australia slammed for age of criminal responsibility 

Australia was slammed over its treatment and acknowledgment of First Nations people at the United Nations last week. More than 30 nations – including Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Poland and Mexico – called on Australia to raise the age of criminal responsibility from 10 to 14, in line with the recommendations from the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child.

Nolan Hunter, Amnesty International Australia Indigenous Rights Lead, told NITV News that policies around Australia’s age of criminal responsibility were “outdated” and a “legacy of Colonialism”. “What’s more worrying is to allow it to continue and the acceptance of this where kids as young as 10 years old are being thrown in jail,” he said. “The culture of the community in Australia and more so the government is the attitude that there isn’t a problem or to recognise this as a serious issue.”

To view the article in full click here.

black & white spray paint image of Aboriginal child on brick wall with white bars across image representing imprisonment

Photo by Chris Devers. Image source: New Matilda website.

Mobilising a COVID-19 vaccine workforce

The Australian Government is preparing for the COVID-19 vaccine rollout by securing an additional vaccine workforce and working to deliver essential training to everyone who will administer the vaccinations. “Australia’s vaccine roll out will be carried out through hospitals, general practices, state and Commonwealth vaccination clinics, Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations and pharmacies. This additional vaccination workforce will help support and supplement existing services and assist in outreach in areas such as aged care and remote and Indigenous communities working with existing providers. Through the Australian Government’s plan, a panel of four providers have been appointed, who will be called upon to provide a vaccine workforce to supplement the existing immunisation workforce for specific populations. The providers are Aspen Medical, Healthcare Australia, International SOS, and Sonic Clinical Services.”

To view the media release in full click here, and to read a related article in the Western Advocate click here.

gloved hand placing cotton wool bud on person's upper arm

Image source: startsat60. website.

Biggest mass vaccination program begins

vaccine Coronavirus production line

Image source: European Pharmaceutical Review website.

GPs united on vaccine rollout

Australian GPs stand united to work with the Government on rolling out COVID-19 vaccines across the community and the nation. The Australian Medical Association (AMA) and the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) have worked collaboratively with Health Minister Greg Hunt over the past weeks to ensure the vaccine rollout is delivered with patient safety as the first priority.

In a joint media release AMA President Dr Omar Khorshid and RACGP President Dr Karen Price said “This is an important moment for the Australian community. We have gone from no coronavirus vaccine a year ago to several vaccines, with the first expected to be rolled out next month. GPs are ready to help vaccinate and protect the community from COVID-19 as soon as vaccines are fully approved for use in Australia, and available for delivery. Vaccinations are also an important opportunity to discuss other health concerns with GPs. This is particularly important at a time when many people have deferred health care due to the pandemic.”

To view the joint AMA and RACGP media release click here.

vaccine lying on top of a mask on at bench

Image source: AMA website.

General practices sought for rollout

The Australian Government is seeking expressions of interest from all accredited general practices to take part in the planned delivery of the COVID-19 vaccine. “General practices will play a key role in the Australian Government’s rollout of COVID-19 vaccines, in what will be one of the greatest logistical exercises, public health or otherwise, in Australian history. Providing access to safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines for everyone in Australia is a key priority for our Government. General practices will help deliver the vaccine initially to priority groups, starting with people over 70, adults with underlying medical conditions and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in phase 1. Three more phases will follow until the whole country has been offered the vaccine.”

To view Minister Greg Hunt’s media release click here.

doctor's arm taking blood pressure of Aboriginal woman

Image source: Australian GP Alliance website.

Pandemic compounds hardship for PWD

Despite the refrain throughout the COVID-19 pandemic that ‘we are all in this together’, the Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability (PWD) last week revealed the many hardships encountered by PWD over the past six months. In his closing remarks, Chair Ronald Sackville AO QC said the hearings had shed a “piercing light” on the impact of the pandemic and associated stringent measures to contain it on PWD.

He said the pandemic had exacted a “terrible”, and largely hidden, toll on people with a disability. We have heard people with disability experiencing the sudden loss of essential support services, an absence of clear and consistent information in accessible form essential to their health and wellbeing; an inability to access health care, personal protective equipment and even the basic necessities of life such as food and medication; we’ve heard of isolation from the community, from friends and family and from social networks; exposure to a heightened risk of domestic violence; stress and anxiety associated with exposure to the virus; inadequate measures for the protection of people with disability, and uncertainty about how to survive in the face of disruptions to care and essential services, sometimes leading to worsening mental health.”

To read the Croakey article in full click here.

wheelchair image overlaid on Aboriginal dot painting

Image source: AbSec website.

Kelvin Kong’s pandemic reflections

In a Q&A, ear, nose and throat specialist Associate Professor Kelvin Kong, a Worimi man, based in Newcastle on the country of the Awabakal people, has reflected upon the upheaval and life-changing lessons of the past several months. “I am so thankful that we have not seen the devastation that we have seen in other First Nation populations across the world. COVID-19 is such a travesty to all of us. But it really highlights the inequities we have as health service providers. We are lucky geographically that we were able to shut down communities so quickly. The Aboriginal leadership across the nation needs far more praise in its ability to get the message across. Messages that communities could relate to and believe was, and continues to be, paramount in the response.”

To read a transcript of the interview click here.

image of Associate Professor Kelvin Kong smiling at the camera in scrubs in operating theatre with two health professionals in the background

Dr Kelvin Kong. Image source: University of Newcastle.

First Aboriginal dermatologist

Dana Slape is Australia’s first Aboriginal dermatologist. Her mission is mentoring students who may have never considered a career in medicine, as well as advocating for more Indigenous leadership throughout our healthcare system. “I think there has been a really longstanding narrative in Australia particularly in the healthcare space that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are just sick people, and people that are chronically unwell, that are chronically suffering, but the truth of it is that what we have is a system of unconscious and conscious bias that impacts how people are provided care and how they are able to access all of the things that keep us, as a community, well as individuals but also collectively. So when you have people like me and all of the other people that end up working in senior leadership, in hospitals, in clinics, in places where we access healthcare, it starts to tell a different story. You’re deconstructing those unconscious biases around people being always the patient, and never the care provider.”

“My hope is that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander specialist numbers increase, because the greater leadership we have that are Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people at all layers of the health system and tertiary education system, means that we are opening up doors for people so that those people can go on and be the leaders of the future and provide care to the next generation and that’s extremely important, and I’m thrilled to be a part of that.”

To listen to the ABC interview with Dana Slape click here.

photo of Dana Slape against outback grassland setting

Dr Dana Slape. Image source: The Sydney Morning Herald.

Smoking kills half of those 45+

A study has found smoking kills one in two older Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults, and experts are calling for more funding to boost culturally appropriate smoking cessation services. The report from the Australian National University found smoking caused 37% of deaths at any age in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults, but that increased to about half of deaths in those aged over 45.

Dr Michelle Bovill, a Wiradjuri woman and an Aboriginal smoking health researcher at the University of Newcastle, found the results were “quite alarming”. “Aboriginal people do want to quit,” she said. “But then people still don’t really know what to do to quit, and we really don’t have enough funding being put into our Aboriginal community controlled health services to provide that support.”

To view the full article in The Sydney Morning Herald click here.

elderly Aboriginal man smoking

Image source: The Conversation.

Pharmacy students inform WRAP toolkit

Delivering effective healthcare requires healthcare professionals to reflect on their own cultural background and their patient’s cultural needs. Culture is a determinant of health and if not considered, negative health outcomes can result. This is of particular importance when working with Aboriginal communities and caring for Aboriginal people whose views have been excluded from healthcare models, funding, and policy. Non-indigenous healthcare professionals, such as pharmacy students, benefit from understanding Aboriginal peoples’ healthcare needs and models of holistic healthcare, as well as reflecting on their own cultures, assumptions, and experiences on placement.

A research article, Pharmacy students’ learnings and reflections to inform the development of the ‘Working Respectfully with Aboriginal Peoples’ (WRAP) Toolkit  explores students’ views to inform the development of a Toolkit to support students’ learning prior to engaging in placements in Aboriginal communities. The study involved collaboration with students, Aboriginal community members, educators experienced in Indigenous health and allied health education.

For further details about the research article click here.

Dr Rallah-Baker checking elderly Aboriginal woman's eyes with torch

Dr Rallah-Baker has called for cultural competency to become standard good practice before health workers are registered. Image source: Michael Amendolia (Fred Hollows Foundation).

SNAICC appoints new CEO

SNAICC – National Voice for Our Children, the national peak body for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, has announced that Catherine Liddle has been appointed to the position of Chief Executive Officer. Catherine will commence the role on 8 February 2021. An Arrernte/Luritja woman from Central Australia, she comes to SNAICC with a strong background in senior leadership positions with First Nations organisations. “It is with great pleasure that we welcome Catherine to SNAICC,” says Muriel Bamblett, SNAICC Chair. “With her previous leadership roles, combined with her experience on the Coalition of Peaks, Catherine will ensure that SNAICC can continue to strengthen our partnerships with state and federal governments to make sure our children are at the forefront of policies.”

To view SNAICC’s media release click here.

Katherine Liddle standing in front of a tree in bushland holding a twig with leaves, smiling

Catherine Liddle. Image source: radioinfo website.

feature image text 'child protection system sets First Nations people with disability up to fail, photo of Aboriginal youth leaning on wire gate and broken wire fence in desert landscape

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Child protection system sets PWD up to fail

feature image text 'child protection system sets First Nations people with disability up to fail, photo of Aboriginal youth leaning on wire gate and broken wire fence in desert landscape

Child protection system sets PWD up to fail

First Nations people with disability (PWD) will tell the Disability Royal Commission this week about the structural violence they experience in the child-protection system around Australia. “We are among the most seriously disadvantaged members of the Australian community, and are also experts on the impact of policies on us,” says First Peoples Disability Network CEO Damian Griffis.

“This week, a number of First Nations people with disability will give evidence about the different racist and ableist systems that harm our children.” Mr Griffiths says the child protection system is “hostile and complicated.  Child removal is an ever present threat, and reality in our communities. It has become part of the community vernacular, and families live with the legacies of trauma from the removal of their parents and grandparents,” he says. 

Health Justice Australia CEO Donnella Mills says the current child protection system risks setting people with disability and their families up to fail, “First Nations people with disability and their families in contact with child protection systems face multiple, intersecting problems that result from intersectional and institutional discrimination,” she says. 

To view the full article click here.

placards against steps with Hands off our kids, black babies belong with black families

Image source: The Guardian.

Infectious skin diseases researcher awarded

The Australian Museum Eureka Awards (the “Oscars of science”) celebrate research and innovation, leadership, science engagement and school science. “Science is at the core of everything we do and we are committed to supporting and showcasing the work of Australian scientists,” Australian Museum Research Institute Professor Kristofer Helgen said.

The Emerging Leader in Science award went to Associate Professor Asha Bowen, who is Head of Vaccines and Infectious Diseases at the Telethon Kids institute. Her work over the years has significantly changed the way indigenous children with skin infections are treated.

To listen to Associate Professor Bowe being interviewed on ABC RN Breakfast with Fran Kelly click here.

portrait of Associate Professor Asha Bowen standing outside on path with trees in the background

Image source: RHD Action.

Parents fear child services

Treating mental health episodes more like a physical injury could help prevent the long-term removal of children of Indigenous parents with a disability, a national inquiry has heard. Mental health worker Christine May has told a hearing of the Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability that when a parent with a mental illness had a psychotic episode and needed to stay in hospital it should be regarded as a period of treatment. “If I broke my leg I wouldn’t have an order taken out on my child,” she said.

Unless parents are deemed dangerous, Ms May said, they shouldn’t have to fight to keep their children when services could provide treatment for them to become well and be re-assessed. She recommended the Queensland Health program Cultural Healing she works for be expanded across the state.

To view the full article click here.

young Aboriginal child in shadows outside with tricycle and parts of other play equipment visible

Image source: SBS NITV website.

Increased clinical trial access for regional Australia

Much is riding on $125 million in Federal Government funding, announced in the recent budget and aimed at addressing this disparity and providing access to life-saving clinical trials in the regions. “This funding is our last chance to get it right, to deliver a higher level national health system,” said Sabe Sabesan, a doctor who was central to developing Queensland’s model of delivering medical support to regional communities via telehealth. His program has paved the way for the next step towards making clinical treatment trials available to all patients regardless of their location.

Oncologist Craig Underhill is hopeful the clinical trials would not only drive an improvement in cancer outcomes but enable research in other chronic health areas affecting regional patients, such as geriatric oncology, Indigenous health and palliative care.

To view the article in full click here.

health professional at desk conducting telehealth session

Image source: National Rural Health Alliance online magazine, Partyline.

Lung cancer signs free webinar

According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) estimated trend lines indicate a significant increase in the lung cancer incidence and mortality rates for Indigenous Australians over time. For non-Indigenous Australians, the age-standardised incidence rate for lung cancer has been relatively stable, while the mortality rate has fallen. Estimated trend lines indicate a significant decrease in the lung cancer mortality rate for non-Indigenous Australians.

Symptoms of lung cancer are often vague and can be overlooked, however, early and rapid investigation and referral is necessary for optimal patient outcomes. How can GPs give themselves the best chance of identifying possible lung cancer in busy primary care practice?

Cancer Australia invites you to join them in an upcoming webinar on investigating symptoms and signs of lung cancer in primary care: Symptoms and signs that might be lung cancer – a new guide to optimal investigation and referral in general practice – 7.00pm-8.00pm (AEDT) Wednesday 2 December 2020.

T join the FREE webinar click here and to learn about Cancer Australia’s new resource Investigation symptoms of lung cancer: a guide for all health professionals click here.

doctor's hand pointing to x-ray of lung

Image source: SBS News website.

Good Medicine Better Health resources survey

NPS MedicineWise is are seeking Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander consumer input to assist the development of Good Medicine Better Health (GMBH) consumer resources. Lived experience, and preferred format and learning styles will help us to develop consumer driven, culturally appropriate and accessible resources that deliver key information about quality use of medicines. 

To view the invitation for consumers to share their lived experience and/or community experience of a range of health issues click here and to access the link to the consumer participation survey click here.

The purpose of the survey is to elicit information about age, region (metro, regional, rural or remote), education level, willingness to be involved and preferred contact details. The GMBH team will then contact willing participants to arrange one-on-one phone interviews, online focus groups or workshops.

portrait shot Aboriginal woman and Aboriginal boy and girl, Good Medicine Better Health banner

Image source: NPS MedicineWise.

Native millet could change lives

Native millet on Gamilaraay country in western NSW is the most economically viable native grain for future farm enterprises, a University of Sydney study has found. The University of Sydney Institute of Agriculture study is the most comprehensive trial of Indigenous paddock-to-plate produce in Australia and was done in consultation with local communities and Black Duck Foods, owned by Aboriginal foods expert Bruce Pascoe. The one-year research project into the environmental, economic and cultural viability of growing native grains for bread on Gamilaraay country near Moree and Narrabri was released on 9 November 2020.

“Gamilaraay and Yuwaalaraay country in north-west NSW is one of the largest Aboriginal language groups in Australia, and they are proudly known as grass people,” said Dr Angela Pattison, study leader from the University of Sydney Institute of Agriculture and Plant Breeding Institute at Narrabri.

To view the full article click here.

loaf of bread on breadboard, bread being broken between fingers, man and woman in crop field

Image source: The University of Sydney website.

NT  Darwin and Palmerston region – Danila Dilba Health Service

Multiple positions: Head of ICT, Dietitian, Occupational Therapist, Physiotherapist, Mental Health Nurse, Community Support Worker

Danila Dilba Health Service is going through a dynamic period of expansion and growth. As a result of robust growth in services and in order to meet increasing client need, they are looking for people to join their team and be part of delivering important services to the Darwin and Palmerston region.

These are important roles where you’ll be able to contribute to improving the health and wellbeing of Indigenous Australians. Danila Dilba will provide great learning opportunities and give you the chance to grow your skills and progress your career.

For further information and to apply click here. Applications close Monday 7 December 2020.Danila Dilba Health Service logo

feature tile text Australia's mental health system needs more than band-aids, band-aids over a wall crack

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Australia’s mental health system needs more than band-aids

feature tile text Australia's mental health system needs more than band-aids, band-aids over a wall crack

Mental health system needs more than band-aids

According to the Productivity Commission’s Mental Health Inquiry Report ‘Australia’s current mental health system is not comprehensive and fails to provide the treatment and support that people who need it legitimately expect.’ The report said Australia’s system of community supports was “ad hoc”, with services starting and stopping with little regard to people’s needs. The report identified a host of gaps and barriers  in Australia’s mental health system that lead to poor outcomes for people.

Importantly, the report recognised a disproportionate focus on clinical services – “overlooking other determinants of, and contributors to, mental health, including the important role played by family, kinship groups and carers, and providers of social support services, in facilitating a person’s functional recovery within their community”.

To view the full croakey article click here.

both hands over a face

Image source: UNSW Newsroom – UNSW Sydney.

Community-led rural health workforce model

A new community-driven workforce solution for Wentworth has been launched. Federal Regional Health Minister Mark Coulton said the new workforce solution will trial a collaborative health service to build high quality, sustainable health care for local patients: “We recognise that a one-size-fits all approach to health care doesn’t meet the unique needs of small, rural communities and that’s why we’re funding new collaborative health care models which are developed and driven by local communities. We know that patients in Wentworth have faced difficulties in accessing health care and this community driven model is an important step in creating a viable local health workforce. I congratulate the people of Wentworth and stakeholders, including the Coomealla Aboriginal Service, for working together to get this model up and running.”

The trial will investigate if viable practices may be better achieved by having a group of GPs, nurses and allied health professionals deliver health services across the region.

To view the full article click here.

Aboriginal painting Gathay nyilrun - Lets walk together, Artist Krystall Hurst of Gillawarra Arts

Gathay nyilrun – Lets walk together, Artist Krystall Hurst of Gillawarra Arts. Image source: Partyline – The magazine for Health and sustainable rural, regional and remote communities website.

White Ribbon Day is just the start

White Ribbon Day, Friday 20 November 2020, is an opportunity to raise awareness and commit to action to prevent men’s violence against women. White Ribbon Australia is asking people in workplaces, schools and communities all over Australia to stand up, speak out and act to end gendered violence. For more information about White Ribbon Day click here.
White Ribbon Day banner - ending violence against women Community by Community #WhiteRibbonDay - hand in background holding white ribbon badge to front of image

The Journey to Recovery

The recovery of all Australians affected by the 2019–20 Black Summer bushfires remains the number one priority for the National Bushfire Recovery Agency (NBRA). They are as committed now as they have ever been, to support this monumental recovery effort.

NBRA have launched Journey to Recovery. Journey to Recovery is made up of the real stories of the impact of the bushfires on people and their transition through relief to recovery with support from charities, the business community and all levels of government. And importantly, examples of individuals, communities, governments, private and not-for-profit sectors, working together to move toward longer term recovery.

The Journey to Recovery doesn’t replace the recovery plans of states and territories. Rather, it demonstrates the connections of how these plans connect, with Australian Government support, to be a nationally coordinated approach to recovery. Recovering from an event of this scale was never going to be easy, or quick, but real action is being seen across all impacted areas. Recovery is different for each community, and it’s done best when it’s led by locals.

To access the Journey to Recovery publication click here.

trunks of charred trees shooting new green leaves after the 2020 bushfires

Image source: National Bushfire Recovery Agency – Journey to recovery publication.

Cervical screening complacency

Pathology Awareness Australia has released new findings indicating a lack of knowledge and awareness of the Cervical Screening Test among Australian women.  The survey of over 600 women found that 13% did not know they were overdue for the test and 15% had never had a Cervical Screening Test, putting themselves at risk of developing the cancer. The findings also revealed that the vast number of women are not aware that the Cervical Screening Test is required every five years, or that the test only takes five minutes.

The findings are in line with National Cervical Cancer Awareness Week where organisations including Pathology Awareness Australia and the Australian Cervical Cancer Foundation are calling for Australian women to reengage with their healthcare providers to ensure they are informed about the importance of cervical screening and to speak to family and friends about the test.

To view the full article click here.

vector of hands on preqnant belly and hair falling down a woman's back overlaid with words cervical cancer is a disease of inequality

Image source: World Health Organisation Twitter.

National Homeless Collective founder wins award

Founder and CEO of the National Homeless Collective (NHC), Donna Stolzenberg has been awarded the 2021 Victoria Australian of the Year.  When Donna started @Sisters in Safe Housing (a NHC project) to support women experiencing homelessness to access safe, suitable and timely accommodation she knew a larger portion of clients would be, like herself, First Nations women.

Donna’s cultural background as a member of the Ngajtumay and Mirning people connects her to the systematic issues encountered by Indigenous Australians, who are sadly overrepresented in homelessness statistics. In 2019, 3.57% of Indigenous peoples were experiencing homelessness compared to 1.2% on non-Indigenous Australians. This means that 1 in 28 of all Aboriginal peoples have nowhere safe and suitable to live on our own land. 

For more information about the NHC click here and to listen to an ABC Radio Melbourne interview with Donna Stolzenberg about what the 2021 Victoria Australian of the Year Award means for her and her collective click here.

Liverpool Hospital launches antenatal clinic

The Binya Winyangara (which means pregnant mothers in Darug language) Clinic have been officially launched at Liverpool Hospital. The antenatal clinic provides culturally responsive care to pregnant Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and connects them to health and community services. The clinic’s Aboriginal registered midwife Kaarina Paasila said: “It’s important to make sure Aboriginal women are getting the right care and someone dedicated specifically to give them the confidence that they are being heard and looked after.”

To view the full Liverpool City Champion News article click here.

Aboriginal Liaison officer Kristy-Lee White, Binya Wiyangara Midwife Kaarina Paasila and Aboriginal Mental Health Worker for Perinatal & Infant Mental Health Service Heidi Duncan

Aboriginal Liaison Officer Kristy-Lee White, Binya Wiyangara Midwife Kaarina Paasila and Aboriginal Mental Health Worker for Perinatal and Infant Mental Health Service Heidi Duncan. Image source: Liverpool City Champion News.

Game changer for youth mental health

The BHP Foundation has partnered with the University of Sydney’s Brain and Mind Centre to change the way local communities in Australia invest in youth mental health and social care. The five-year program, commencing in 2021 ‘Right care, first time, where you live,’ will harness latest advances in systems modelling and simulation to guide national and local investments in sustained, coordinated and digitally enhanced youth mental health care. The locally designed dynamic systems models will be embedded in eight Primary Health Networks, which can act as a blueprint for the nation.

To view the full report click here.

painting - silhouette of a head against background of earth coloured triangles

Image source: Clinical Excellence Queensland website.

Health key to life satisfaction

Australians report high levels of life satisfaction but there are gaps – Indigenous Australians and the unemployed fare worse.  Measuring the material factors of people’s lives ­– like finances, work and health – can tell a lot about the state of Australian society and the policy challenges, but what are the things that matter most to people? To help answer this question we need to know not just what people have and don’t have, but how they feel – what researchers call subjective wellbeing.

The Household, Income and Labour Dynamics In Australia (HILDA) Survey asks this question of around 17,000 Australians every year. The results highlight the central importance of basic things like health and safety in life satisfaction, as well as social contact. Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians overall reported similar levels of life satisfaction in 2018, but there are relatively large differences in some important domains that suggest Indigenous Australians do worse. Compared to non-Indigenous people, Indigenous Australians report lower satisfaction with finances, housing and health.

To read the full article published by the University of Melbourne click here.

three Aboriginal women, one holding a young child in the back of a ute in the outback

Image source: Australian Geographic.

Identity and culture key to healing

The Healing Foundation has launched its second podcast in its new series on intergenerational trauma and healing. This latest episode explores what identity means to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander wellbeing and discusses how connection to culture plays an essential role in healing for young First Nations people and Stolen Generations descendants. The Healing Foundation CEO Fiona Petersen said the latest Healing Our Way podcast offered a unique perspective from young people on the importance of staying connected to culture and identity.

“The Healing Our Way podcast takes us on a journey with strong young minds as they share their lived experience on their journey to healing,” Fiona Petersen said. “Our people have always had the answers to their own healing. Now we’re asking our young people about their perspectives about what it’s been like to grow up as an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander person in Australia. These stories, our young people’s lived experience, is all part of the truth telling and part of Australia’s past and ongoing narrative.”

To view the Healing Foundation’s media release regarding their latest podcast click here and to read a transcript of Fiona Petersen’s related interview on ABC Radio Canberra Mornings click here.

Healing Our Way podcast promotional tile, microphone surrounded by Aboriginal dot painting circles

Image source: The Healing Foundation.

National Medicines Symposium 2020

NPS MedicineWise invites you to register for the National Medicines Symposium (NMS) 2020 to be held as fully virtual event on Monday 7 December 2020

With the theme Rising to the medication safety challenge, NMS 2020 will bring together influential organisations, individuals and decision makers within the health sector to discuss and consider collaborative approaches to improving medication safety that focus on the needs of the consumer. NMS 2020 will feature expert speakers including Prof Alex Broom, Prof Amanda Wheeler and Prof Clara Chow to provide the latest updates on medicine safety and the challenges being faced in the current health environment. Australian comedian Tim Ferguson facilitating the event.

Australian comedian Tim Ferguson sitting in his wheelchair with red velvet stage curtain in the background

Australian comedian Tim Ferguson. Image source: Serious Comedy.

Diabetes Education and Management Scholarship

The University of Technology Sydney (UTS) hopes to help increase the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people working in Diabetes Education and Management with its Diabetes Education and Management Scholarship. The scholarship aims to support an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander person studying the Graduate Certificate in Diabetes Education and Management at UTS Faculty of Health.

For details of the eligibility requirements for the scholarship and how to apply click here. Applications close Sunday 31 January 2021.

coloured clay figure with internal organs displayed

Image source: Diabetes Victoria.

NSW – Sydney – University of New South Wales – The Kirby Institute

Manager-Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Research

The Kirby Institute is a leading global research institute dedicated to the prevention and treatment of infectious diseases, with a long-standing program of research focusing on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health. An opportunity exists for a Manager, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Research, to play a leadership role in the development and implementation of an enhanced strategic commitment to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander-led research at the Kirby Institute.

This will involve the development of appropriate systems, policies, processes and a cultural framework to support and guide the Institute’s research in this area. The position will establish and manage strategic partnerships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations, communities and other relevant stakeholders including research organisations, policy makers and industry partners.

For further information about the position click here. Applications close Sunday 29 November 2020.

external image of the Kirby Institute UNSW

Image source: UNSW Sydney.

Feature tile 9.11.20 The Pharmacy Guild of Australia promote importance of NAIDOC Week, NAIDOC Week logo

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Pharmacy Guild promotes importance of NAIDOC Week

Feature tile 9.11.20 The Pharmacy Guild of Australia promote importance of NAIDOC Week, NAIDOC Week logo

Pharmacy Guild promotes NAIDOC Week

The Pharmacy Guild of Australia’s Executive Director Suzanne Greenwood has released an editorial about the importance of NAIDOC Week as the annual celebration of the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples saying that NAIDOC Week is celebrated not only in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities but by Australians from all walks of life in what is a national coming-together in cultural recognition and respect.

This year’s NAIDOC Week theme Always Was, Always Will Be, aims to recognise that First Nations peoples have occupied and cared for this land for more than 65,000 years. Our First Nations peoples are spiritually and culturally connected to this country. At the Pharmacy Guild, NAIDOC Week is an opportunity to highlight the way community pharmacies work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, particularly in regional, rural and remote communities.

These pharmacies are going the extra mile in providing services to help address the documented poorer health outcomes experienced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Whether it be through visits to communities, special consultations or even ensuring labelling meets the needs of individual communities, pharmacists are at the forefront. And as the most accessible healthcare professionals, they have a unique role to play in addressing gaps and providing targeted services to improve the health outcomes of these Australians.

To view Suzanne Greenwood’s editorial in full click here and to read the two Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander pharmacist case studies click here.

portrait photo of Aboriginal intern pharmacist Lillian Emery and Aboriginal pharmacist student Louis Emery

Aboriginal intern pharmacist Lillian Emery and Aboriginal pharmacist student Louis Emery. Image source: The Pharmacy Guild of Australia website.

Dr Charles Perkins AO Memorial Oration

In 2001, the University of Sydney, in collaboration with the Koori Centre, launched an annual oration by a leading spokesperson within the field of Indigenous and non-Indigenous race relations. The Dr Charles Perkins AO Memorial Oration was established with the full support of the Perkins family and in acknowledgement of his tireless dedication to human rights and social justice for Indigenous Australians.

This year the 2020 Charles Perkins Memorial Oration, will be presented by Pat Turner AM in honour of her uncle. This event, hosted by Stan Grant and Isabella Higgins at The Great Hall at the University of Sydney, will be a timely look at the state of race relations in Australian over the last two decades.

You can watch the Dr Charles Perkins Oration via livestreamed from 8.00 pm – 9.00 pm (AEST) Thursday 12 November from the following platforms:

University of Sydney Facebook    

University of Sydney YouTube

ABC Indigenous Facebook

ABC Sydney Facebook

black and white photo of Charles Perins on bus home after visit to Tranby, Glebe 1963

Charlies Perkins travelling home on a Sydney bus in 1963. Image source: ABC News website.

Professor Milroy wins mental health prize

Pioneering Aboriginal psychiatrist, researcher and mental health champion Professor Helen Milroy has been named as a joint winner of the 2020 Australian Mental Health Prize. Professor Milroy, recognised as the first Indigenous Australian to become a medical doctor, shares the prestigious prize with leading psychiatrist and founder of the Black Dog Institute, Professor Gordon Parker.

The national prize, presented by the Governor General, His Excellency General the Honourable David Hurley AC DSC (Retd), recognises Australians who have made outstanding contributions to either the promotion of mental health or prevention/treatment of mental health issues. “I am hoping that through this award, we can shine a light on children’s mental health and provide whatever it takes to bring about their wellbeing and that of their families and communities.”

To view the full article click here.

portrait photo of Professor Helen Milroy, background is an office

Image source: The University of Western Australian.

Jimmy Little Foundation supports remote health care

Based in Lightning Ridge, NSW the Jimmy Little Foundation is working to improve the quality of life and access to health care for remote and regional communities. The Foundation’s focus is promoting healthy outcomes for Indigenous Australians facing Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) and the demands of dialysis. It currently depends solely on donations to run its programs and advocacy ventures.

The late Jimmy Little, a proud Yorta Yorta man, musician and actor founded the Jimmy Little Foundation in 2006. After undergoing a kidney transplant, he used his performances as an opportunity to tell the communities he visited there is good quality of life after dialysis. Little’s daughter, Frances Peters-Little, is now Managing Director of the Foundation. She said she’s proud of the Foundation’s current board of directors, who are all Indigenous women.

To read the full article click here.

portrait photo of Francis Peters-Little Managing Director of the Jimmy Little Foundation

Francis Peters-Little. Image source: ALTD Spirits website.

Football has power to improve health

The 2020 Indigenous Football Week (IFW20) – Monday 9 November until Sunday 15 November – will feature a program of events that will engage Indigenous communities and players across Australia. Organisers say IFW20 will highlight how football has the power to create pathways to improved physical and mental health, wellbeing, education, and community engagement for Indigenous players. The football community has come together to support the John Moriarty Football (JMF) initiative. JMF has partnered with Football Federation Australia (FFA), Professional Footballers Australia (PFA), SBS, NITV, and FOX Sports, to celebrate events held in JMF communities in NT, NSW and Queensland.

To read the full article click here.

Aboriginal boy in football uniform kneeling on soccer ball

Image source: Moriarty Foundation website.

48 hour follow up initiative supports recovery

In a resent presentation at the Deniliquin Local Health Advisory Committee, Aboriginal health education officer Jill Owens, shared some information about her role and partnerships, ensuring the health and well-being of Aboriginal members in the community are addressed.  Jill shared information about the ‘48 hour Follow Up’ initiative, a service for patients who have been in hospital for things such as diabetes, heart disease, lung disease or kidney disease, ensuring there is a check in on their well-being within 48 hours of discharge. Jill said ‘‘The value of this is that ongoing health needs can be identified and services put in place to support the patient’s recovery and prevent unnecessary admissions.’’

To view the full article in the Deniliquin Pastoral Times click here.

health worker with middle-aged Aboriginal man in home setting

Image source: GP Synergy website.

Tresillian Mobile2U helps get babies to sleep

If you or someone you know has ever had trouble getting a baby to sleep you have probably heard of the amazing work of Tresiliian and the Mid North Coast Local Health District. Tresilian works with parents to get babies into a sleep routine and have been recognised for their innovative approach to delivering child and family health services to regional NSW. Hesta has announced Tresillian and Mid North Coast Local Health District as a finalist in the HESTA Excellence Awards in the Team Excellence – Community Services category. The Mobile 2U van goes to locations in communities such as the Kempsey Community Centre and the Council Chambers at Wauchope. Ms Carlon said the Tresillian 2U mobile service is innovative, and unique. Nurses are focussed on individual parenting plans and give focussed and individualised support.

Aunty Delya Smith, a Dunghutti woman, is the Aboriginal health worker in the team and close to twenty percent of families who access the service identify as Aboriginal. The van also has two child and family health nurses who work with families providing the specialised services in the locations that are easy for families to access in their own communities.

To read the full News of The Area article click here.

Aboriginal baby sleeping

Image source: News Of The Area website.

Voluntary Indigenous Identifier Framework survey

Since 2002, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have been able to have their status recorded confidentially on a database called the Voluntary Indigenous Identifier (VII). The VII is primarily used to estimate use of the Medicare Benefits Scheme by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. This information, grouped together to produce statistical reports, appears in a range of publications and is used to:

  • improve policies focused on access to health programs and services,
  • target funding to specific areas of need,
  • improve access to benefits and payments, and
  • improve the Department of Health’s plans and policies for First Nations People.

The Framework for the Collection, Release, Use and Publication of Voluntary Indigenous Identifier Data (VII Data Framework) is a set of guidelines that direct how VII data is collected and used.

You can download the draft Framework here. and are invited to provide your feedback via the VII Framework Online Survey.

young Aboriginal woman portrait photo, green foliage in the background

Image source: VincentCare website.

ADHA aims to make health care more equitable

This NAIDOC Week the Australian Digital Health Agency (ADHA) has proudly joined a network of more than 1,100 corporate, government and not-for-profit organisations that have made a formal commitment to reconciliation through the Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) program. Agency CEO Amanda Cattermole PSM said the Agency’s reconciliation commitments include an emphasis on understanding and progressing digital health priorities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living across Australia, in rural, remote and metropolitan communities. “Technology can contribute to closing the gap by improving health care accessibility, quality and safety no matter where people live,” she said. “We can make health care more equitable and efficient using digital tools and technology like My Health Record, telehealth and electronic prescriptions.”

To view the full article click here. and to download the ADHA RAP click here.

cover of ADHA RAP 2020–21 report - Aboriginal dot painting circules orange blue dark red

Image source: Australian Government ADHA website.

Funding for improved use of data collections

The Australia Government is investing $8.9 million to support improved management and use of Indigenous data collections. The funding will be used to create a data network that will transform how Australian social and cultural data is accessed, curated and analysed. The project will support the development of eResearch platforms and tools for visualisation, transcription and entity recognition. Minister for Education Dan Tehan said the investment would boost Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences (HASS) and Indigenous research capability and “will improve the reliability and consistency of data for Indigenous Australians to better support evidence-based Indigenous policy-making.”

To view the media release click here.

Aboriginal dot painting of map of Australia

Image source: Open Forum website.

Unaddressed trauma plays role in present pain

The Healing Foundation CEO Fiona Petersen said that NAIDOC Week this year celebrates the knowledge and ancestral wisdom of First Nations Australians and the importance of being connected to it. “While we marvel at the resilience and survival of our cultures, we have to continue to acknowledge unaddressed trauma and the role it plays in our present and immediate future,” Ms Petersen said. “In our journey, we continue to listen and learn from those who have gone before us, often too soon, and survivors of trauma. This drives our efforts to support intergenerational healing for all generations to come.

“NAIDOC Week is an opportunity to share the truth about the ongoing trauma experienced by Stolen Generations survivors and their descendants – and shine a light on the importance of healing.” For Stolen Generations survivors, being removed from family, community and Country had a profound impact on their connection to identity, language and culture. This has resulted in a huge amount of grief and trauma. Ms Petersen said healing is a proven way to overcome trauma and intergenerational trauma and restore wellbeing, which can bring about long-term change for families and communities. “By healing trauma, we are tackling the source of social and health problems that are far more prevalent for our people,” Ms Petersen said.

To view the Healing Foundation’s media release click here.

portrait shot Fiona Petersen CEO The Healing Foundation

The Healing Foundation CEO, Fiona Petersen. Image source: The Healing Foundation website.

NSW Aboriginal Deputy Children’s Guardian appointed

The head of Australia’s national peak body for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, Richard Weston will become the first Deputy Children’s Guardian for Aboriginal Children and Young People in NSW. Minister for Families, Communities and Disability Services Gareth Ward said Mr Weston, who is currently the CEO of Secretariat of National Aboriginal and Islander Child Care (SNAICC), brings more than 25 years of experience to the role. “Mr Weston’s wealth of experience working in peak and Indigenous-controlled organisations has delivered significant social, health and economic outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and communities,” Mr Ward said.

To view the NSW Government Minister for Families, Communities and Disability Services media release click here.

Portrait shot of Richard Weston against greenery of a garden

Richard Weston. Image source: @INDIGENOUSX website.

feature tile text 'partnering withACCHOs key to tackling health disparity', painting of brick wall with Aboriginal flag overlaid with hand holding stethoscope for yellow centre of flag

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Partnering with ACCHOs key to tackling health disparity

feature tile text 'partnering withACCHOs key to tackling health disparity', painting of brick wall with Aboriginal flag overlaid with hand holding stethoscope for yellow centre of flag

Partnering with ACCHOs key to tackling health disparity

The Heart Foundation has welcomed a NSW Government announcement of a $7.4 million investment towards its Closing the Gap commitment. “Investing in and partnering with Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations, as well as enabling them to lead the way, is key to tackling the conditions of disadvantage that affect Indigenous Australians, such as housing and health,” said Heart Foundation Group CEO, Adjunct Professor John Kelly AM. “This commitment also recognises that community and Indigenous leadership is a pivotal step forward in Closing the Gap and ending rheumatic heart disease (RHD) for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. “The NSW Government’s expansion of the Aboriginal Community Controlled organisations in the key sectors of early childhood, housing, disability and health is a step closer to making sustainable change to close the gap.

To view the full article click here.

Weigelli Centre Aboriginal Corporation metal sign

Image source: Aboriginal Medical Research Council of NSW website.

Record high vaccination rates

More Australian families are vaccinating their children, with new figures showing four quarters of growth in all childhood coverage rates to September 2020, the highest on record. Each year, the Morrison Government invests more than $400 million in the National Immunisation Program to protect young and vulnerable Australians. The highest rates of vaccination are among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children at five years, at more than 97%. The coverage rate for all five-year-olds continues to grow towards the aspirational 95% target. In the year to September 2020, it reached 94.9%. Among all two-year-old children, the coverage rate has risen to almost 92.4 per cent, which is the first time it has climbed above 92 per cent since 2014. The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander two-year-old vaccination rate has also risen to almost 91.2 per cent in the current quarter.

To view the media release  click here.

NSW $7.4m for new National CTG Agreement

The NSW Government has announced funding of $7.4 million as a first step to begin state-based actions to support the National Agreement on Closing the Gap. Minister for Aboriginal Affairs Don Harwin confirmed this new investment at the 400th meeting of the NSW Aboriginal Land Council (NSWALC), held at Broken Hill. “This investment demonstrates the NSW Government’s commitment to achieving a critical priority under the Closing the Gap National Agreement – strengthening the capacity of Aboriginal Community Controlled organisations,” Mr Harwin said.

To view the media release click here.

Closing the Gap banner Aboriginal art black and white hands thumbs interlocked

Image source: Wellington Aboriginal Corporation Health Service.

Better hospital healthcare free webinar

Australian Healthcare & Hospitals Association (AHHA), with support from HESTA, is presenting a free webinar on better healthcare in hospitals for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people during NAIDOC week. The webinar will cover the latest research from Australia and North America on how hospitals can deliver better care. Following the presentations a Q&A session will be facilitated by AHHA Strategic Programs Director. 

Webinar: Better healthcare in hospitals for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people

Date:  0.30 am – 11.30 am Thursday 12 November 2020 (EDST).

To register for the free webinar click here.

female Aboriginal patient, Aboriginal support person and Aboriginal health worker in hospital room

Image source: Creative Spirits website.

Changing the future of heart health

Heart disease is one of Australia’s biggest health problems, representing one in four of all deaths, with over one thousand people a day hospitalised and costing the economy $7 billion each year.

Monash University is aiming to change the future of heart health, with the establishment of the Victorian Heart Institute (VHI), which will focus on training and leading a future focused workforce, extensive research and innovation to deliver measurable change in the rates of heart disease in Australia. The Institute will be located within the Victorian Heart Hospital (VHH) upon its completion in 2022. The VHH is a collaborative partnership between the Victorian Government, Monash Health and Monash University and will be Australia’s first stand-alone heart hospital and research facility. 

To mark the launch of the Victorian Heart Institute and explore the important issues around heart health, Monash University will be hosting a free live event A Different Lens: Matters of the Heart at 7.30 pm on Thursday 5 November 2020 with leading experts in heart disease. For more information about the event and how to join click here.

National health campaign: How’s Your Head Today? 

A national COVID-19 mental health campaign How’s your head today? is being rolled out to urge people to prioritise their mental health, raise awareness about how to identify when something is wrong, and encourage people to seek help. The campaign has been launched on TV, radio, in shopping centres and venues, online and through social mediaand will continue through to next year. How’s your head today? encourages all Australians to check in with how they are feeling. Through animated characters, the campaign recognises the emotions many people are feeling and illustrates the actions they can take to help themselves feel better.

To view the media release click here.

Greg Inglis' face & text 'I want people to know that they're not alone'

Greg Inglis opens up about mental health battles. Image source: ABC Australian Story.

Stars Foundation program for young women

Students at Newman Senior High School will be among the first in WA to take part in a motivating mentoring program for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander girls and young women. The pilot of the Stars Foundation program would run at Newman Senior High School and Butler College in Perth. Stars Foundation staff will work with the school communities this year to identify the needs of the students before the program starts in 2021. The Stars Foundation program provides mentoring and targeted support to improve the health and education outcomes of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander girls and young women. The program at Newman Senior High School will operate full time in a dedicated ‘Stars Room’ supporting students to develop their confidence, self-esteem and the life skills needed for school and beyond.

To view the full article click here.

close up face of Aboriginal young girl with Aboriginal face paint and Stars Foundation logo

Image source: Stars Foundation Facebook page.

Community pharmacies critical role during disasters

The report of the Royal Commission into National Natural Disaster Arrangements has acknowledged the critical role played by community pharmacies during disasters. The report also called for the inclusion of primary healthcare workers, including pharmacists, in disaster management and planning bodies. The report says Australian, State and Territory Governments “should develop arrangements that facilitate greater inclusion of primary healthcare providers in disaster management, including: representation on relevant disaster committees and plans, and providing training, education and other supports”.

Elsewhere the report highlights the importance of community pharmacists and other healthcare providers by stating they are generally the main point of contact that Australians have with the health system. “They are the entry level to the health system and are a broad group, including general practitioners, pharmacists, Aboriginal health workers, nurses and allied health professionals. Primary care providers have valuable local knowledge and strong connections with the communities they support,” the report says. The importance of continued dispensing during emergencies also is highlighted in the report.

To view the full article click here.

male and female Aboriginal people with pharmacy sign

Image source: The Conversation.

Lung cancer symptoms

Lung cancer remains the fourth most commonly diagnosed cancer in Australia and the most common cause of cancer death according to Australian Institute of Health and Welfare data. Smoking is linked to as many as 80 per cent of lung cancers with current smokers almost nine times more likely to develop lung cancer than people who have never smoked.

November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month and the WA is community is being reminded of the symptoms of lung cancer and what to do if they notice any unusual changes to their body. The Cancer Council WA Cancer Prevention and Research Director, Melissa Ledger, said many people don’t realise a cough which lasts for three weeks or more needs to be investigated. “If you have a long standing cough that worsens or changes for three weeks or more, it needs to be investigated,” Ms Ledger said. “If you have repeated chest infections, you notice you are becoming more short of breath or lacking energy, and have had any of these symptoms for more than four weeks, they should be investigated too. “If you cough up blood – even once – it’s really important to visit your doctor, clinic nurse or Aboriginal health worker right away to find out the cause. “It doesn’t mean you’ve got cancer, often it turns out to be something less serious, though,” she says. “Remember, the chances of successful treatment are much higher when cancer is found early,” Ms Ledger said.

To view the Cancer Council WA’s full article click here.

David Gulpilil with image of his younger self as an actor on a computer screen in the background

In July 2019 Yolngu traditional dancer and actor David Gulpilil revealed he was dying from lung cancer. Image source: SBS NITV.

Culturally secure community services funding

The WA McGowan Government has allocated an immediate additional $1.2 million to deliver workforce development in the mental health, alcohol and other drug community sector. This initial suite of programs will support workforce development in key areas identified by peak bodies, service providers, stakeholders and consumers and carers. They cover key focus areas of need including building the peer workforce; Aboriginal culturally secure services; building capacity in trauma-informed care; and providing employment pathways.

The programs follow the release of the WA Mental Health, Alcohol and Other Drug Workforce Strategic Framework 2020–2025, which outlines priority areas and principles to guide the growth and development of the mental health, alcohol and other drug workforce in WA. The workforce development program will include future phases and will support peer workers, the Aboriginal workforce, clinicians, counsellors, social workers and more who assist and care for people with mental health, alcohol and other drug issues.

To view the media release click here.

Aboriginal painting of a head with footprints across the head

Image source: NSW Governement SafeWork website.

CTG education target will improve health

The new National Agreement on Closing the Gap has a higher education target for the first time. It’s also the first time an agreement between governments on Indigenous issues was negotiated and signed by Indigenous Australians. The Coalition of Aboriginal Peak Organisations represented Indigenous Australians. Endorsed by the National Cabinet on July 30 this year, the 10-year agreement replaces the 2008 National Indigenous Reform Agreement. The higher education target is for 70% of Indigenous Australians between 25 and 34 years of age to have a tertiary qualification by 2031.

In 2016, 42.3% of Indigenous Australians in this age group had tertiary qualifications at the target’s required level. The proportion had more than doubled from 18.9% in 2001. By contrast, however, 72% of non-Indigenous Australians had such qualifications in 2016. Achieving higher Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander education levels has a flow on impact of improvements in other CTG targets including health, child protection, housing, employment, community safety, language and land.

To view the full article click here.

11 Aboriginal graduates Cooktown Townsville

Image source: The Bouverie Centre.

Housing and health linked

The World Health Organisation has always been interested in housing as one of the big “causes of the causes”, of the social determinants, of health. The WHO launched evidence-based guidelines for healthy housing policies in 2019. Australia is behind the eight ball on healthy housing. Other governments, including in the US, UK and NZ acknowledge housing as an important contributor to the burden of disease. These countries have major policy initiatives focused on this agenda. In Australia, however, we do housing and we do health, but they sit in different portfolios of government and aren’t together in the (policy) room often enough. Housing should be embedded in our National Preventive Health Strategy.

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced us to rethink how we approach health and protect our populations. It has amplified social and economic vulnerability. The pandemic has almost certainly brought housing and health together in our minds. Housing – its ability to provide shelter, its quality, location, warmth – has proven to be a key factor in the pandemic’s “syndemic” nature. That is, as well as shaping exposure to the virus itself, housing contributes to the social patterning of chronic diseases that increase COVID-19 risks.

To view the full article click here.

Aboriginal art from APY lands SA showing poor living environment

Image source: Health Habitat Housing for health website.

Medicines Australia-NACCHO Committee seeks representatives 

Consumer representatives are being sought to participate in the Medicines Australia-NACCHO Committee. As the national leadership body for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health in Australia NACCHO provides advice and guidance to the Australian Government on policy and budget matters while advocating for community-developed health solutions that contribute to the quality of life and improved health for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Medicines Australia leads the research-based medicines industry of Australia. Its members discover, develop and manufacture prescription medicine products, biotherapeutic products and vaccines that bring health, social and economic benefits to Australia.

NACCHO and Medicines Australia have established a Committee to lead and support medicine related measures that improve health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander clients and communities. The role of the Committee is to provide advice for projects, programs and services in addressing the medicines priorities and challenges faced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people across Australia. The Committee is comprised of representatives from the ACCH sector, including NACCHO, and from Medicines Australia and its members. 

The Committee is now recruiting for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander consumer representatives.

Interested consumers will have some experience with the health system and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander consumer issues. The appointment is for a twelve-month term, with the possibility of extension.  The meetings will be held quarterly and are virtual. If you are interested, please email a letter of endorsement from a supporting health consumer organisation with discussion of your links to health consumer base and/or community using this link. You may consider including a short CV (no longer than two pages) in pdf format. The deadline is COB 16 November 2020.

The nominations will be reviewed by a small panel of NACCHO and Medicines Australia representatives and based on a set of criteria related to the consumer’s skills, knowledge and experience. Please contact NACCHO here if you have any questions.

range of multi-coloured pills

Image source: Australian Journal of Pharmacy website.

NSW – Taree – Biripi Aboriginal Corporation Medical Centre

Aged Care Manager

Biripi Aboriginal Corporation Medical Centre (BACMC) provides a wide range of culturally-appropriate health and well-being services covering communities across the mid-northern NSW region. BACMC have a vacancy for an Aged care Manager who will responsible for the day to day management of the Aged Care team to meet the strategic goals of BACMC.

To view the job description click here. Application close 9.00 am Monday 9 November 2020.Biripi Aboriginal Corporation Medical Centre banner

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Cultural approach tackles mental health shame

Feature tile 2.11.20 - young Aboriginal children Quinton and Jasalia Williams with face, hair, hands & chest paint, cultural day on country

Cultural approach tackles mental health shame

Small-town living can have its benefits, like knowing your neighbours, but when it comes to accessing help and support, it can be a barrier. Colleen Berry, who lives in the small inland community of Leonora in WA’s Goldfields, said people often felt “shame” in asking for help — and she wanted to do something to change that. So the proud Wongutha woman founded Nyunnga-ku, a community group for the women of Leonora where they can chat, sew, drink cups of tea and speak freely. As more women came to the group, Ms Berry said she realised how many were struggling with mental health and other issues. “Mental health has become something really big in our communities” she said.

To view the full article click here.

Young Aboriginal children Quinton and Jasalia Williams with face, hair, hands & chest paint, cultural day on country

Quinton and Jasalia Williams enjoy a cultrual day on country at the Nyunnga-Ku women’s camp. Image source: ABC News website.

Program aims to improve medication access

Metro North Hospital and Health Service is launching a pharmaceutical program that will allow greater access to medications for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients visiting its facilities. The Better Together Medication Access program will ensure Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients have access to any medications needed upon discharge from hospital with no out-of-pocket expense.

Redcliffe Hospital Director of Pharmacy Geoffrey Grima said the program would improve health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients who have an increased susceptibility to chronic illnesses such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes. “First Nations Australians have a disease burden 2.3 times the rate of non-Indigenous Australians, which means they may require more medications to treat more illnesses,” Grima said. “We know medications can be expensive, and when a number of medications are required to treat various illnesses, this can add up quickly, making the process burdensome for patients.

To read the article in full click here.

Aboriginal hand holding different coloured pills

Image source: Australian Pharmacist website.

New support for NSW people impacted by suicide

The NSW Government is investing $4.54 million in post-suicide care to provide a range of practical and psychological services to NSW residents bereaved or impacted by suicide. Minister for Mental Health Bronnie Taylor said the state-wide services will range from one-to-one counselling and family therapy, to supporting grieving loved ones to liaise with police, the coroners and media. “It is estimated that up to 135 people can be impacted by a single suicide,” Mrs Taylor said. “We’re building a specialised workforce that can provide both practical and emotional support – from accessing existing services to explaining a suicide death to young children.” $4.2 million will be invested in StandBy Support After Suicide to enable the leading post-suicide support service to expand its footprint and range of services across NSW.

To view the media release  click here.

Aboriginal flay painted on a wall with shadows of two people holding hands

Image source: SBS NITV website.

Become a SOCKSTAR for kidney health

Kidney disease is a deadly disease and there is currently no cure. 1.7 million Australians are affected by the disease and it can have an enormous impact on people’s physical and mental health, family lives and livelihood. There are currently 25,000 Australians living with kidney failure. Dialysis or kidney transplant are needed for them to stay alive. For those on dialysis, they spend an average of 60 hours a month hooked to this life-saving machine, which cleans their blood of toxins. Dialysis can make them feel cold so blankets and warm socks are a must.

Kidney Health Australia has launched a brand new fundraising campaign – the Kidney Health Red Socks Appeal, to take place over the month of November. Participating in the Kidney Health Red Socks Appeal is a great way to show people living with kidney disease that you care. Solo or together with friends, everyone’s effort counts. It is easy to get involved – register as an individual or a team, grab some red socks and get going.

For more information about the Kidney Health Red Socks Appeal click here.

Kidney Health Red Socks Appeal banner - picture of red socks against background of pink and blue kidney vectors & words 'I'm wearing a pair to show I care'

ABS health surveys – have your say

Last year, the Australian government announced a new health study called the Intergenerational Health and Mental Health Study (IHMHS). The IHMHS will run over three years from late 2020 to 2023 and comprise surveys of health, nutrition and physical activity, and an optional biomedical survey. Similar to the Australian Health Survey conducted by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) in 2011–13, the IHMHS will provide an opportunity to measure Australia’s health, including providing a picture of the health and wellbeing of our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. The results will be useful in helping to inform policy, services and programs supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to live healthier lives. 

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) needs your participation to help them shape the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander components of the IHMHS. The ABS want to talk to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to ensure their surveys are done in a culturally appropriate way and reflect the priorities, values and diversity of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Sign up here to participate in an upcoming webinars and have your say!

There is also an online survey on the ABS website that can be completed at any time.

The survey closes on Monday 30 November 2020.ABS tile 'help shape the upcoming ATSI Health Survey, two Aboriginal women sitting at outside tableyoutube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6_jpsVuTR3w&w=560&h=315

Research centre targets regional Victorian health disadvantage

A new research centre at Federation University will work to reduce the health disadvantage of regional and rural residents. The Health Innovation and Transformation Centre, will develop innovative, multidisciplinary solutions for patients and the general community, spearheaded by the digital, genomic and data revolution. It will focus on areas including aged care, cardiovascular health, digital health interventions, workforce development and patient safety, ensuring the right care, in the right place at the right time.

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

entrance to Federation University Australia - sign on sandstone wall and brick university buildings in background

Image source: magiqsoftware website.

Calls for action on NT mental health neglect

The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists (RANZCP) Northern Territory Branch has called on the NT Government to take a cue from Churchill and ‘action this day’ the rescue of NT Mental Health Service funding from decades of neglect.  ‘Northern Territorians have been short-changed on investment in mental health services for decades now and this becomes starkly apparent when we compare NT funding with that of other states and territories,’ said RANZCP NT Branch Chair, Dr David Chapman.

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

Aboriginal hands holding

Image source: St Vincent de Paul Society website.

Cashless Debit Card to be made permanent

Shadow Minister for Families and Social Services, Linda Burney, says the Government decided to make the Cashless Debit Card permanent, despite the Minister for Families and Social Services Senator Anne Ruston admitting at Senate Estimates that she hadn’t read the long-awaited review of the card. The card is currently being trialed in four sites: Ceduna; the Goldfields and East Kimberley; and Bundaberg-Hervey Bay. As well as this, the Government has also revealed it had set up a formal working group with the big banks and Australia Post to work on making the Cashless Debit Card part of mainstream accounts and point of sale technology – revealing their real plan to roll this technology out more broadly.

To view Linda Burney’s media statement in full click here.

Aboriginal hands holding the cashless debit card

Image source: The Morning Bulletin.

HealthInfoNet has new sexual health portal

The Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet has added a new sexual health portal to its website. Through engagement with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander experts in the field, topics for the sexual health portal will focus on the aspects of sexual health that impact Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander individuals and their communities. These topics include safe sex, healthy relationships, sexuality, sexually transmitted infections and blood borne viruses, sexual disorders and reproductive health. Funded by the Australian Department of Health, the portal has information about publications, policies, health promotion and practice resources, organisations and workforce information to provide up-to-date relevant information for those working in this important area. 
 
PVC Equity and Indigenous at Edith Cowan University Braden Hill, says of this important topic ‘This is a wonderful addition to HealthInfoNet’s already important work in ensuring the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. The focus on sexual health is of vital importance and will enable an evidence informed approach to health care in relation to this sometimes complex area of health’. HealthInfoNet Director Neil Drew says, ‘There is a need for trusted evidence based information that is freely accessible in one place and this portal like our others delivers that’.

To access the new sexual health portal click here.

two pairs of legs sticking out from under a doona

Image source: Faculty of Health and Behavioural Sciences – University of Queensland website.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: ‘Game changer’ e-prescriptions are coming

feature tile - Aboriginal hands in pharmacy clicking iPad

‘Game-changer’ e-prescriptions are coming

Electronic prescriptions (or e-prescriptions) are being rolled out in stages across Australia after being used in Victoria during the pandemic. E-prescriptions have been common in countries such as the United States and Sweden for more than ten years. In Australia, a fully electronic paperless system has been planned for some time. Since the arrival of COVID-19, and a surge in the uptake of telehealth, the advantages of e-prescriptions have become compelling. To read more about what e-prescriptions are, how they work, their benefits and what they mean for paper prescriptions click here.

feature tile - Aboriginal hands in pharmacy clicking iPad

Image source: Australian Pharmacist.

Electronic prescription roll out expanded

The big news in digital health in recent weeks has been the expansion of Australia’s roll out of electronic prescriptions to metropolitan Sydney, following the fast-track implementation in metropolitan Melbourne and then the rest of Victoria as a weapon in that state’s battle against the COVID-19 pandemic. There was also some rare movement in the secure messaging arena, with a number of clinical information system vendors and secure messaging services having successfully completed the implementation of new interoperability standards that will hopefully allow clinicians and healthcare organisations to more easily exchange clinical information electronically. The road to secure messaging interoperability has been a tortuous one to say the least, but movement does seem to be occurring. At least 19 separate systems have successfully fulfilled the Australian Digital Health Agency’s requirements, with the vendors now getting ready to release the capability in their next versions. It is expected these will start to roll out over the next few months.

To view the full PULSE+IT article click here.

image of hand with phone held to scanning machine

Image source: PULSE+IT website.

Lack of physical activity requires national strategy

A new report finding Australians are not spending enough time being physically active highlights the need for action on a national, long-term preventive health strategy, according to AMA President, Dr Omar Khorshid. The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) report found that the majority of Australians of all ages are not meeting the minimum levels of physical activity required for health benefits, and are exceeding recommended limits on sedentary behaviour.

The AMA is working with the Federal Government on its proposed long-term national preventive health strategy, which was first announced by Health Minister Greg Hunt in a video message to the 2019 AMA National Conference almost 18 months ago. Dr Khorshis said “As a nation, we spend woefully too little on preventive health – only about 2 per cent of the overall health budget. A properly resourced preventive health strategy, including national public education campaigns on issues such as smoking and obesity, is vital to helping Australians improve their lifestyles and quality of life.”

To view the AMA’s media release regarding the physical activity report click here.

image of arms of Aboriginal person in running gear bending to tie shoelaces along bush trail

Image source: The Conversation.

KAMS CEO appointed to WA FHRI Fund Advisory Council

The McGowan Government has today announced the make-up of the Advisory Council of WA’s Future Health Research and Innovation (FHRI) Fund. The FHRI Fund was the centerpiece of the State Government’s commitment to drive research and innovation in WA by providing the State’s health and medical researchers and innovators with a secure and ongoing source of funding. Vicki O’Donnell, CEO, Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Service Ltd (KAMS), is one of seven eminent Western Australians appointed to the Advisory Council to provide high-level advice to the Health Minister and the Department of Health.

To view the Government of Western Australia’s media release click here.

portrait photo of Vicki O'Donnell, KAMS CEO in office

Vicki O’Donnell, CEO KAMS. Image source: ABC News.

PLUM and HATS help save kids hearing

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families are being encouraged to use an Australian Government toolkit to ensure young children are meeting their milestones for hearing and speaking. The rates of hearing loss and ear disease for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children are significantly higher than for the non-Indigenous population. Between 2018–19 and 2022–23, almost $104.6 million will be provided for ear health initiatives to reduce the number of Indigenous Australians suffering avoidable hearing loss, and give Indigenous children a better start to education.

The Parent-evaluated Listening and Understanding Measure (PLUM) and the Hearing and Talking Scale (HATS) have been developed by Hearing Australia in collaboration with Aboriginal health and early education services. As part of a $21.2 million package of funding over five years from 2020–21 to advance hearing health in Australia, the 2020–21 Budget includes an additional $5 million to support early identification of hearing and speech difficulties for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, and embed the use of PLUM and HATS Australia-wide.

To view the Department of Health’s media release click here.

young Aboriginal child having his ear checked by health professional

Image source: The Wire website.

Illawarra Aboriginal Corporation receives research grant

The University of Wollongong (UOW) had announced the recipients of the Community Engagement Grants Scheme (CEGS). CEGS is uniquely focused on addressing the challenges faced by communities and taking action to create real and measurable outcomes. The CEGS projects are dedicated to serving communities on a range of issues that matter in the real world. Some areas of focus are health and wellbeing, disability and social services, culture and multiculturalism, Indigenous and local history and communities.

This year, the University awarded grants to three innovative community partners and UOW academics to support their research and outreach projects. Among the recipients is the Illawarra Aboriginal Corporation and senior Aboriginal researcher and anthropologist, Professor Kathleen Clapham. Their project, titled ‘Amplifying the voices of Aboriginal women through culture and networking in an age of COVID19’ aims to address women’s isolation, restore networks, and nurture the exchange of Aboriginal knowledge and traditional practices.

To view the University of Wollongong’s media release click here.

portrait shot of Professor Kathleen Clapham University of Wollongong

Professor Kathleen Clapham, UOW. Image source: UOW website.

LGBQTISB suicide prevention

Indigenous LGBQTISB people deal with additional societal challenges, ones that can regularly intersect and contribute to the heightened development of depression, anxiety, alcohol and drug problems, and a heightened risk of suicide and suicidal behaviour. Dameyon Bonson, an Indigenous gay male from the NT and recognised as Indigenous suicide prevention subject matter expert, specifically in Indigenous LGBQTI+ suicide, will be presenting ‘An introduction to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander (Indigenous Australian) LGBQTISB suicide prevention’ from 11.00 am to 12.00 pm (ACST) on Tuesday 10 November 2020

For more information about the event and to register click here.image of Dameyon bonson and Indigenous LGBTIQSB Suicide Prevention - An Introduction course banner

Dead quiet to award winner in only two years

“The first year we were almost dead quiet … word of mouth and occupational health is what grew us, and now we’ve been able to really branch into Indigenous health and Closing the Gap initiatives,” said Practice Manager Olivia Tassone. At just 22-years-old, Tassone is also a part-owner of the company, along with former footballed Des Headland and others. Being privately owned gives Spartan First a flexibility that other companies in the same space don’t have. “One of the benefits of being a being a private business is we don’t really have a lot of red tape to jump over. If we want to start making a change, then we can just do it,” Tassone said.

To view the full article click here.

Practice Manager Olivia Tassone standing in front of Spartan building

Spartan Practice Manager Olivia Tassone. Image source: National Indigenous Times website.

Tackling Indigenous Smoking with Prof Tom Calma

Tobacco smoking is the most preventable cause of ill health and early death among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. It is responsible for 23 per cent of the gap in health burden between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and other Australians.

The Tackling Indigenous Smoking (TIS) program aims to improve life expectancy among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples by reducing tobacco use.

Professor Tom Calma, National Coordinator, leads the TIS program which has been running since 2010.  Under the program local organisations design and run activities that focus on reducing smoking rates, and supports people to never start smoking. Activities are:

  • evidence-based — so they are effective, and
  • measurable — so we can tell that they work.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Whole-of-society mental health solutions needed

Whole-of-society mental health solutions needed

Australian Association of Social Workers (AASW) National President, Ms Christine Craik hopes World Mental Health Week (10–17 October) will highlight mental health solutions that go beyond short-term, crisis-oriented responses and encompass a whole of society approach to factors affecting mental health. “The COVID-19 crisis, along with the current recession, have underscored the importance and value of healthy communities which prevent ill-health and promote mental health and accessible early intervention services. We have an opportunity to re-build our mental health system by broadening our approach and addressing the social determinants of health. The pandemic has led to job losses, insecurity of income and housing and social restrictions. Many of us are trying to work from home at the same time as we care for children or family members whose formal care has been interrupted.”

To view the AASW media release click here.

New model to boost rural general practice

A new model, launched this week in Wagga Wagga, will give junior doctors, interested in working in rural general practice in the Murrumbidgee region, the experience, exposure and qualifications they need to become rural generalist doctors – GPs with additional skills such as obstetrics or emergency medicine. Federal Regional Health Minister, Martin Coultin said “This new locally-driven model is an important step in our commitment to delivering better healthcare for rural communities and ensuring rural practice is more appealing for doctors.”

The Murrumbidgee Model will see up to 20 new doctors trained over four years in the region, with sites including Cootamundra, Young, Deniliquin, Temora, Narrandera, Gundagai and an Aboriginal Medical Service in Wagga Wagga. The model will be evaluated, to assist the Government to roll out the National Rural Generalist Pathway and approaches that work to support Australians living in other rural, regional and remote areas.

To view the related media release click here.

country unsealed road

Image source: Australian Medical Association.

Critical kidney disease data to inform policy

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have thrived in the traditional lands known as Australia for millennia, however, in the last 50 years, kidney disease has increased dramatically, and today, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have a high need for health care for advanced chronic kidney disease. In parallel, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have had limited opportunity to guide priorities in the health care system to improve kidney health.

Torres Strait Islander woman, Associate Professor Jaqui Hughes from the Menzies School of Health Research is leading a cohort study which will describe the long-term changes in kidney function of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people over 10 years and provide critical data to inform regional and national policy on identification and care of people with kidney disease. 

To view the full article on the research click here.

Associate Professor Jaqui Hughes standing at a lecturn

Associate Professor Jaqui Hughes, Menzies School of Health Research. Image source: NHMRC website.

Feet health important for overall health

The NT has exceptionally high rates of diabetes and, subsequently, diabetes-related foot disease with Aboriginal people are 4–6 times more likely to be admitted to hospital for a diabetes-related foot wound or complication than non-Aboriginal people. During Foot Health Week (12–18 October) Top End Health Service’s High Risk Foot Service Senior Podiatrist Sally Lamond said feet were often the first place to show diabetes-related symptoms. “It’s important to pay attention to any changes in your feet because a major symptom of diabetes is damage to the nerves in your feet,” she said. “The damaged nerve function is called neuropathy, and about half of all people with diabetes have some form of nerve damage.”

To view the NT Government’s Foot Health Week media release click here.

allied health professional treating patient's feet

Image source: CheckUP Australia website.

Forgotten after leaving out-of-home care

There are currently about 18,000 Indigenous children across Australia who are living in statutory out-of-home care (OOHC), having been removed from their families. This is one-third of Australian children in care, or 11 times the rate of non-Indigenous children in care. The trauma of removal is carried by the child, their family and community for life, and is often passed on knowingly or unknowingly to the next generation. Trauma and separation affect the development of the child, their feelings of self-worth and belonging, their sense of identity, and lifelong connections with family, community, culture and Country.

The first national study to explore what happens to Indigenous children removed from care, once they turn 18, was conducted by Monash University, in partnership with SNAICC, the peak body for Indigenous children and families. If, as a country, we’re serious about “closing the gap” and supporting healthy Indigenous communities, we need to recognise the significant issue of ongoing intergenerational trauma that’s created through the removal of Indigenous children into predominantly white service systems that fail to respond and care for them appropriately.

For further information about the study click here.

6 Aboriginal children walking across a foot bridge in rural Australia

Image source: Monash University website.

Opportunity for pharmacists to do more

One in five Australians are affected by mental illness annually with many more impacted by the recent bushfire crisis and current COVID-19 pandemic. During World Mental Health Week (10–17 October) the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (PSA) is taking stock to recognise the important relationship between a person affected by mental illness, their pharmacist and health care team. Acting PSA President Michelle Lynch acknowledged the Government’s $5.7 billion investment into mental health during this week’s budget, which paves the way for pharmacists to play a greater role in the delivery of mental health care in Australia. “A majority of Australians visit their pharmacist around 14 times a year and as trusted and accessible health professionals pharmacists often come in contact with patients suffering mental ill-health,” she said.

To view the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia’s media release click here.

Pharmacist talking over counter to customer

Image source: AJP website.

NT health student award nominations open

Nominations are open for outstanding health students as part of the NT Aboriginal and Torres Strati Islander Health Worker and Practitioner Excellence Awards. The awards are an opportunity to recognise and acknowledge students who are currently studying qualifications from the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Primary Health Care training package and the significant contribution they make to their families, communities and the NT healthcare system.

To view details about the award categories and the nomination process click here.

5 Mala'la Health Service AC staff

Image source: HK Training and Consultancy website.

Poverty, housing and health links webinar

Secure and affordable housing is critical to overcoming many of the economic, social and chronic disease challenges facing rural and remote Australians, particularly chronic diseases closely related to housing such as rheumatic heart disease. People in rural and remote Australia have lower incomes, lower net household worth, higher instances of risk factors for poor health, higher levels of chronic disease, accidents and injury, and reduced life expectancy.

Two-thirds of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians live outside major cities. A critical factor in improving health outcomes for Indigenous Australians is the provision and maintenance of appropriate housing. As part of Anti-Poverty Week National Rural Health Alliance is hosting a webinar on 12.30–1.30 pm (AEDT) Thursday 15 October 2020. To register click here.anti-poverty week webinar banner

Free wellbeing webinars

The Black Dog Institute under the national eMHPrac program are preparing two webinars and an associated podcast on supporting Indigenous wellbeing through digital resources. The focus of the webinars will be to hear a range of panelists’ yarn about how healthcare workers can use digital wellbeing tools to help keep our mob strong in mind, body and culture. The webinars will showcase the WellMob website launched in July this year by the Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet.

WEBINAR 1: Supporting Indigenous wellbeing through digital resources: an introduction for clinicians

  • Who’s it for? GPs & allied health practitioners 
  • Times & Date: 1.00 pm and 8.00 pm Thursday 22 October
  • What’s it about: a webinar that shares tips on using digital wellbeing resources with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people
  • Register at: click here

WEBINAR 2: Supporting Indigenous wellbeing through digital resources: an introduction for frontline wellbeing workers

  • Who’s it for: frontline wellbeing & community workers
  • Time & Date: 1.00 pm Thursday 29 October
  • What’s it about: a webinar yarning about digital wellbeing resources for our mob and tips to use them with your clients and community
  • Register at: click here

QLD – Innisfail – Mamu Health Service Limited

Chief Financial Officer  Advertisement , Position Description, General Employment Information

Clinic ManagerAdvertisement,  Position Description, General Employment Information

Public Health NurseAdvertisement, Position Description, General Employment Information

Mamu Health Service Limited, an Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation owned and managed by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to provide culturally appropriate and comprehensive primary health care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and communities of Innisfail, Tully, Ravenshoe, Mt Garnet and Babinda, has vacancies for a Chief Financial Officer, a Clinic Manager and a Public Health Nurse.

To view the advertisement, position description and general employment information for each vacancy, click on the links above.

Applications for all positions close Friday 20 October 2020.

Aboriginal hand with cannula on edge of hospital bed

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: AMA says COVID-19 shows a need to reset health spending

COVID-19 shows a need to reset health spending

According to AMA President, Dr Omar Khorshid, Australia needs to reset it attitude to health expenditure, with a fundamental reassessment of the priority put on real increases to health spending. “The COVID-19 pandemic has challenged us to rethink many of our assumptions about the functioning of society. Absolutely fundamental to this is our understanding of what a health system that is fit for purpose looks like,” Dr Khorshid said. “The pandemic has shown the strains on so many parts of our health system, particularly aged care, mental health, and protections for our frontline healthcare workers, as well as the need to keep this deadly virus out of our Indigenous communities. There can be no avoiding it. A serious investment in health with a substantial real increase in spending is required.”

To view the AMA’s media release click here.

Sunrise Health Service worker checking heart of patient

Barunga Healthcare worker Desleigh Shields. Image Source: ABC News website.

Diagnosing otitis media with telehealth

Each year 650,000 Australian children suffer from recurrent or chronic ear infections called otitis media (OM). OM can cause permanent hearing loss but is entirely preventable when treated early. Aboriginal children are disproportionately impacted by middle ear disease with OM affecting one in four children in Australia – but one in every two Aboriginal children. The current average wait time of two years for assessment is too long for children who are in crucial key stages of language, behavioural and educational development. Struggling to understand what is happening to them, many may face long-term social or mental health impacts.

Paediatric audiologist Dr Chris Brennan-Jones is committed to finding solutions for ear health – like changing assessment wait times from two years to 10 days. Dr Bennan-Jones is working with an ear health partnership in metro Perth called Djaalinj Waakinj – ‘Listening, Talking’ in Noongar language. In a program that is the first of its kind in Australia Djaalinj Waakinj fuses telehealth technology with support from local Aboriginal health workers to facilitate remote diagnosis of OM.

To view the full article click here.

Dr Chris Brennan-Jones sitting outside with laptop

Dr Chris Brennan-Jones. Image source: Particle website.

Puggy Hunter Memorial Health scholarships

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students studying, or intending to study, entry-level health courses could receive life changing financial assistance to follow their passion thanks to the Puggy Hunter Memorial Scholarship Scheme (PHMSS). The PHMSS is designed to encourage and assist undergraduate students in health-related disciplines to complete their studies and join the health workforce. The Australian Government established the Scheme as a tribute to the late Dr Arnold ‘Puggy’ Hunter’s outstanding contribution to Indigenous Australians’ health and his role and Chair of the NACCHO.

To read the full article about the PHMSS in the National Indigenous Times click here.

Applications for the PHMSS are now open and will close on Sunday 8 November 2020. For more information click here.

portrait of Ashleigh Ryan PHMSS recipient

PHMSS recipient Ashleigh Ryan. Image source: Australian College of Nursing website.

NCCRED Clinical Research Scholarship Program

The National Centre for Clinical Research on Emerging Drugs (NCCRED) has developed a Clinical Research Scholarship Program to build the scope and capacity of clinical research on emerging drugs across the drug and alcohol sector. This is a national program open to clinicians at all levels, anywhere in Australia. NCCRED is opening TWO new competitive rounds which will give financial and research support allowing recipients to conduct a new research project. The rounds will have a focus on the following areas:

  • Practicing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health professionals (clinicians, nurses, allied health workers) in the AOD sector.
  • nursing and allied health professionals preferably practicing alcohol and other drugs nurses and allied health professionals, though applications are open to all clinicians working within the AOD sector.

For more information about the NCCRED scholarship program click here. 

Applications are now open and close on 6 November 2020.

Aboriginal health professional sitting in from of Aboriginal D&A banner

Image source: ABC News website.

National COVID-19 Clinical Evidence Taskforce Communique

You can read the full National COVID-19 Clinical Evidence Taskforce Communique #25 here.

National COVID-19 Clinical Evidence Taskforce logo

Image source: National COVID-19 Clinical Evidence Taskforce website.

COVID-19 transmission in educational settings

Since March 2020, the National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance (NCIRS) has joined forces with the NSW Ministry of Health and NSW Department of Education to investigate COVID-19 cases in schools and early childhood education and care (ECEC) services.

You can view the webinar Learning together – Transmission of SARS-CoV-2 in NSW educational settings covering COVID-19 transmission in NSW educational settings, what the latest data show and how a multi-disciplinary approach has helped people learn together by clicking here.

Nawarddeken Academy school - 14 Aboriginal students sitting at a table

Nawarddeken Academy school. Image source: The Conversation website.

Melbourne workers of concern to Tennant Creek health groups 

Up to 10 gas pipeline workers from a coronavirus hotspot have begun quarantining in a Tennant Creek hotel under a Government-approved plan that Indigenous health groups are demanding be shared with them. The group from Melbourne has also been given permission to leave the hotel under an arrangement organised for maintenance work on Jemena’s Northern Gas Pipeline, which runs from Tennant Creek to Mt Isa. The vast majority of people arriving in the NT from coronavirus hotspots are ordered into a fortnight of supervised quarantine at designated facilities in Darwin or Alice Springs at a cost of $2,500.

Indigenous health groups are concerned the alternative arrangement risks coronavirus spreading to Tennant Creek’s majority Indigenous population and that of nearby communities. Barb Shaw from Anyinginyi Health, the region’s major Indigenous health service, said she had requested to see the company’s COVID-19 management plan early last week but never heard back.

To read the full ABC News story click here.

portrait of Anyinginyi Health CEO Barb Shaw

Anyinginyi Health CEO Barb Shaw. Image source: ABC News.

Keep Our Mob Safe from COVID-19

The latest update on COVID-19 for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander households, communities and organisations is available click here. Things can change quickly so it is important to stay up to date.

Keep Our Mob Safe, Stop The Spread banner

Image source: Australian Government Department of Health.

2021 seasonal influenza preparation required

During 2020 there was a significant demand for seasonal influenza vaccines in light of the evolving COVID-19 pandemic. It is anticipated that this demand is likely to continue and also be evident for future seasons. To this end, the Commonwealth Chief Medical Officer is encouraging key stakeholders to turn their minds to their preparations for next year’s season. To view the Commonwealth Chief Medical Officer’s letter to stakeholders click here.

text flu season syringe inserted in vial

Image source: 1011 Now News website.

PBS changes a win for palliative care

The Australian Medical Association (AMA) welcomes much needed improvements to the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) listings for opioids, which will clarify their important role in alleviating suffering for palliative care patients. AMA President Dr Omar Khorshid said the Association supported important reforms to reduce the inappropriate use of opioids in Australia. Dr Khorshid said the original PBS changes implemented on 1 June 2020 caused significant confusion and concern from prescribers and their patients, unintentionally making prescriber access to opioids more difficult for palliative care patients with a legitimate clinical need. This was particularly difficult for non-cancer palliative care patients.

The AMA has been advocating to the Department of Health and the Therapeutic Goods Administration, providing feedback from AMA members on the 1 June 2020 changes. “The Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee (PBAC) has reflected this feedback in the 1 October 2020 PBS listing changes, so it’s pleasing that the vital advocacy work of the AMA has been heeded,” Dr Khorshid said. “Patients will be exempt from the 12-month pain management review by a second doctor or palliative care nurse practitioner if their clinical condition makes the review not possible. “This is an important change for palliative care patients who may be too unwell for this to occur.”

To view the AMS’s media release click here.

Aboriginal man with arms around Aboriginal woman looking out across river in Australian landscape

Image source: Palliative Care Victoria.

Social enterprise to tackle remote NT food inequities

An urgent food crisis is threatening remote Aboriginal communities across the country, with an estimated 1.2 million Australians unable to regularly access culturally appropriate, safe and nutritious food from a non-emergency source. Kere to Country, a new First Nations-led social enterprise, hopes they can make a difference, starting in Alice Springs/Mparntwe. Kere means ‘food from animals’ in Arrernte.

Three young Indigenous entrepreneurs—Jessica Wishart, 31, Jordan Wishart, 25, and Tommy Hicks, 24 (pictured below) —were inspired to do something about the crisis after visiting Alice Springs/Mparntwe. The trio saw Aboriginal communities couldn’t afford essential products that were necessary to keep their families healthy and safe. “It’s an urgent crisis—one that has been going on for a really long time, but it’s gotten worse since the pandemic,” CEO Jessica Wishart said.

The concept is simple: Kere to Country will provide remote communities with access to meat through bulk purchases or smaller packs. Aiming to eventually expand to all of central Australia, the team will distribute packs to Alice Springs/Mparntwe, both in and out of town, and the Tennant Creek region.

To visit the Kere to Country website click here.

Kere to Country entrepreneurs Jessica Wishart, Jordan Wishart, Tommy Hicks

Kere to Country entrepreneurs Jessica Wishart, Jordan Wishart, Tommy Hicks. Image source: National Indigenous Times.

Palkyu descendent 2020 Australia Mental Health prize finalist

Professor Helen Milroy is one of seven finalists in the running for the 2020 Australia Mental Health prize. The Prize, now in its fifth year, recognises Australians who have made outstanding contributions to the promotion of mental health or the prevention and treatment of mental illness.

Professor Milroy is recognised as the first Indigenous Australian to become a medical doctor, completing medical studies and specialist training in child and adolescent psychiatry. She is passionate about combining Aboriginal and western knowledge systems to improve outcomes. Her work and research in the areas of holistic medicine, child mental health, recovery from trauma and grief, application of Indigenous knowledge, and cultural models of care have made a significant difference to the lives of children and young people, particularly those with a trauma background. Her efforts in developing and supporting the Aboriginal medical workforce and cultural safety in health and mental health through curriculum development, education and training, implementation and evaluation, has had a lasting impact on Aboriginal health and mental health across Australia.

To view the full article about the 2020 Australia Mental Health prize finalists click here.

portrait of Professor Helen Milroy

Professor Helen Milroy. Image source: AusDoc website.

Breast cancer survivor fears many others won’t

Breast cancer is still the most commonly diagnosed cancer in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women, but what’s more concerning is that not a lot of these women survive. It’s a hidden disease that shows no symptoms until it has developed into a lump some time down the track.

Aunty Joy was diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer at the age of 48. She had a single mastectomy and says “I am a survivor and still a sufferer. Around the time of my diagnosis, there were no radiographers where I was. But if I had waited, who knows what the end result would’ve been? I went through the experience alone and it was traumatic, something that I don’t want to see other Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander women go through. Every two weeks I would take myself to chemotherapy, the most grueling and horrible experience with side effects that were harrowing.”

portrait photo of Aunty Joy

Aunty Joy. Image source: MamaMia website.

To read the full article about Aunty Joy’s breast cancer journey click here.

ACT – Canberra

Social Media Communications Coordinator

NACCHO is seeking a Social Media Communication Coordinator to manage and maintain NACCHO’s social media presence and daily blog. The position requires working cohesively with the NACCHO Communications team towards the creation and delivery of social media campaigns and driving key Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health sector new content across channels. To view details of the position click here.

Applications close at 9.00 am Friday 16 October 2020.

AFL Indigenous All Stars coach Michael O'Loughlin with the “Aboriginal Health in Aboriginal Hands” app

AFL Indigenous All Stars coach Michael O’Loughlin with the “Aboriginal Health in Aboriginal Hands” app. Image source: Australian Government NIAA website.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Sector has got pandemic ‘by the horns’

Dr Mark Wenitong standing new tropical foliage in Apunipima Cape York Health Council shirt

Our Sector has got the pandemic ‘by the horns’

Enlisting local initiatives, networks and the lessons of the past, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health services were quick off the mark when coronavirus came. Their success to date is a powerful testimony to the importance of Indigenous leadership in narrowing the health gap, experts say.

“We have the basic infrastructure, and probably one of the best primary healthcare models in the world, some of the best public health experts in the world,” says Dr Mark Wenitong, a longtime health officer on Cape York. “The ‘vulnerability’ of our remote communities is much more related to longstanding under-investment in health infrastructure than our people as individuals. Don’t discount us as major players in the Australian health system.”

To view the full article in The Citizen click here.

external image of the Victorian Aboriignal Health Service in Fitzroy

The Victorian Aboriginal Health Service in Fitzroy. Image source: The Citizen.

Durri ACMS rebuild getting back on track

The $5.6 million rebuild of the Durri Aboriginal Corporation Medical Service (ACMS) in Kempsey is getting back on track after progress was delayed by nine months due to staffing issues. The work is expected to start in February 2021 with a temporary medical centre to be set up at Kempsey District Hospital. The rebuild will feature modern facilities focused on key Indigenous health needs, including neonatal, chronic illness and mental health care.

To view the ABC News article relating to the rebuild click here.

DRA Architects sketch of new Durri medical centre

Image source: ABC News.

$25 million for safe use of medicines

The federal government has announced a $25 million investment in a Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) for research to improve the safe use of medicines and medicines intervention by pharmacists.

“The new Quality, Safety and Effectiveness of Medicine Use and Medicine Intervention by Pharmacists MRFF Grant Opportunity will support the Quality Use of Medicine and Medicine Safety National Health Priority, and is part of the Government’s significant ongoing investments aimed at improving access to medicines and the safe use of medicines in the community. On World Pharmacists Day, our Government acknowledges the outstanding work of Australia’s pharmacists and pharmacy staff in communities across the nation.”

To read the Minister for Health, Greg Hunt’s media release click here.

range of different coloured pills and tablets

Image source: The Guardian.

TGA rules prescription required for e-cigarettes

Young Australians will be protected by the interim decision of the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) to ensure that e-cigarettes and vaping fluids containing nicotine are only available on prescription, Australian Medical Association (AMA) President, Dr Omar Khorshid, said today. “The TGA has recognised the significant risks that come with using e-cigarettes, and the lack of evidence for their role as a quit smoking aid,” Dr Khorshid said.

To view the AMA media release click here

person vaping

Image source: Curtin University news and events.

Funding to protect Victorian mental health and AOD services

The Victorian Government has announced an additional $21 million in funding to ensure mental health and alcohol and other drugs services, including Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations have increased COVID-19 safe protections in place.

To view the media release click here.

industrial site person sitting head on knees with beer bottle by side

Image source: Alcohol Rehab Guide.

Funding for Victorian Aboriginal Family Violence sector

The Victorian Government is boosting Aboriginal-led family violence prevention and responses so that more Aboriginal Victorians can access culturally sensitive support when and where they need it. $18.2 million will be made available to Aboriginal organisations and community groups through the Dhelk Dja Family Violence Fund to provide culturally appropriate responses for both victim survivors and those using or at risk of using violence in the home, including emergency support, family counselling and behaviour change support. Organisations and community groups will be granted funding over two years, giving them more certainty in planning how they deliver family violence services that are tailored to the needs of their communities.

To view the media release click here.

person holding palm to camera with word ENOUGH written on palm of hand

Image source: NITV website.

Extra $13 million for community nursing

The Commonwealth government has allocated an additional $13 million for community nursing to provide remote health professional accessibility to instruction, services and mental health care. An additional $8 million will be supplied to assist employment opportunities for nurses in primary healthcare.

For more information on the $13 million funding click here.

Inala Indigenous Health Service staff attending to patient

Image source: Queensland Health.

ACCHO gambling research webinar

Mallee District Aboriginal Services and Gippsland and East Gippsland Aboriginal Services, in collaboration with La Trobe University have conducted two exploratory studies on gambling. 50 Aboriginal people in regional Victoria were interviewed to identify benefits and harms associated with gambling and what community members thought should be done in response. Using social practice theory, findings of the research will be presented and some of the interventions recommended by research participants will be outlined in a free webinar to be presented by Darlene Thomas, Mallee District Aboriginal Services and Sarah MacLean, La Trobe University on Wednesday 20 September from 12.30–1.30 pm.

To register for the webinar click here.Aboriginal woman with hand across shoulder of Aboriginal woman looking sad

National youth survey report released

Mission Australia has released its National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Youth Report: Youth Survey 2019. This report draws on the findings of its Youth Survey 2019 and highlights the views, concerns, experiences and aspirations of 25,126 young people, 1,578 of whom identified as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander. In response to the findings, the report also provides a range of recommendations.

For more information, please read the media release, report and infographic.

Aboriginal man & Aboriginal child looking at laptop

Image source: Mission Australia website.

QLD – Cairns – Wuchopperen Health Service Ltd

FT Deputy Chief Executive Officer 

An exciting opportunity is available for the position of Deputy Chief Executive Officer in an Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Service based in Cairns.

This full-time, permanent position is responsible for the strategic leadership, direction, management and coordination of the portfolio of Deputy Chief Executive Officer, including the areas of Health Services and Service Integration.

To view the position statement click here.  Applications close 5.00 pm Monday 5 October 2020.

VIC – Shepparton – Rumbalara Aboriginal Co-operative Ltd.

FT Woongi Social and Emotional Wellbeing Program Manager x 1

The Woongi SEWB Program Manager is responsible for managing and delivering on the key objectives of the Woongi service.

The successful applicant will provide leadership and utilise effective work practices that enhance the operation, planning and delivery of culturally appropriate, community based, Alcohol & Other Drugs (AOD) and Social and Emotional Wellbeing (SEWB), Bringing Them Home Re-connections and Traditional Healing Services including early intervention and prevention.

FT Woongi Social and Emotional Wellbeing Group Programs Coordinator x 1

The SEWB Group Programs Coordinator is responsible for coordinating the delivery of a structured program of evidence informed SEWB groups (cultural, healing, recovery and rehabilitation) for clients, families and the broader community, impacted by AOD misuse and/or mental health.

To view the position descriptions for the above vacancies click here. Applications close at 4.00 pm on Friday, 9 October 2020.external view of Rumbalara logo emu against a clinic & Rumbalara logo - emu against curve of black, yellow & red curves

National Centre for Clinical Research on Emerging Drugs (NCCRED) virtual symposium

Innovations in therapeutic practice for methamphetamine use disorder

The 2020 symposium will focus on innovations in therapeutic practice for methamphetamine disorder. The symposium brings together leading national researchers, including presentations from recipients of NCCRED’s Round 2 Seed Funding Program. Recipients will share the most up-to-date aspects of their work and research around methamphetamine and emerging drug use.

11am Friday 20 November 2020

For more details regarding the symposium click here.

crystal methamphetamine

Image source: National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre.