NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Rethinking chronic pain and opioid use

feature tile text 'rethinking opioid use for chronic non-cancer pain' & photo of multiple different coloured pills

Rethinking chronic pain and opioid use

NACCHO and NPS MedicineWise have released two new videos in the Asking Painful Questions series. In the video trailer below, Chronic pain and opioids, Aboriginal man Steve talks about living with chronic pain 24/7 for 22 years and Dr Hester Wilson who is a GP and Addiction Specialist talks about the risks of using opioids.

In the second video trailer, Rethinking Opioids in Chronic Non-Cancer Pain, Pene Wood who is a Pharmacist at Wathaurong Aboriginal Co-operative Health Service talks about how opioids work, their side effects and changes to tolerance. She also talks about the new regulations around opioid use and how they will increase safety and protect patients, and how better pain management is important.

You can view NACCHO’s previous news item about the Asking painful questions video series here and access the Living with pain section of the NPS MedicineWise website here including the full video Asking Painful Questions – Yarning about managing pain, in which the above two trailer videos have been extracted.

ACCHO leads hepatitis C elimination effort

Bulgarr Ngaru Medical Aboriginal Corporation (BNMAC), Burnet Institute and the Australasian Society for HIV, Viral Hepatitis and Sexual Health Medicine (ASHM) are joining forces to help stop new infections and reduce severe illness due to hepatitis C infection among Aboriginal communities in northern NSW.

Aboriginal people represent around 8% of Australians living with chronic hepatitis C infection, while comprising only 3% of the population. They are four times more likely not to be included in hepatitis C surveillance data, which means many will miss out on effective treatments if they remain undiagnosed. There are also barriers that prevent testing, treatment and continuing with hepatitis care, including the need for trained staff who can engage in culturally sensitive ways, as well as the stigma felt by Aboriginal people with hepatitis C, which studies have shown reduces their intention to take up treatment.

The project brings together Bulgarr Ngaru’s extensive knowledge of Aboriginal communities in northern NSW; Burnet’s expertise in implementation research, surveillance, monitoring and evaluation; and ASHM’s track record in delivering clinical education in blood borne viruses including viral hepatitis.

To view BNMAC’s announcement in full here.

Bulgarr Ngaru Medical Aboriginal Corporation (NSW) staff completing screening for hepatitis C

Bulgarr Ngaru Medical Aboriginal Corporation staff completing screening for hepatitis C.

Yarn Up about COVID-19 vaccination

The Centre for Aboriginal Health is hosting a Yarn Up video event about COVID-19 vaccination which will be featured on the NSW Health Facebook page on Thursday 29 July 2021.

This is an opportunity for you, your colleagues or community members, to ask any questions about COVID-19 vaccination and have them answered by Aboriginal researchers and a Doctor with specialist knowledge in vaccination.

All and any questions you have about COVID-19 vaccination are welcomed – The Centre for Aboriginal Health will ensure these are answered with the most accurate and current information. As many questions as possible will be answered as part of the Yarn Up and by email if they can’t be answered during the event.

Some examples of questions you might want answers to include:

  • How are the COVID-19 vaccinations made?
  • Are the COVID-19 vaccines safe?
  • Which is the best vaccine?
  • Why should I get the COVID-19 vaccine?
  • Where can I get the COVID-19 vaccine?
  • What can I expect when I get my COVID-19 vaccination – what are the likely side effects ?
  • Will the vaccination be mandatory?
  • Do all Health Workers need to  be vaccinated?
  • Can I pass on COVID-19 to other people if I am vaccinated?
  • What is my immunity after the first dose?
  • Will we need booster shots each year?

Please send your questions through a video recorded on your phone or written, by email by 5:00 PM Monday 26 July.

Some tips on recording your video questions:

  • Try and find a space with good light on your face and an interesting background that is not brighter than you.
  • Film in horizontal “landscape” format.
  • Sit the laptop or phone an arms-length away at around eye height.
  • When you speak, look into the camera lens rather than at the screen.
  • If you are asking multiple questions, make sure there is a gap in between each one.text 'CORONAVIRUS Q&A' against navy blue background with COVID-19 virus vector images

Mental health unit for incarcerated women

Women incarcerated in WA have been given access to the first dedicated mental health unit inside the state’s prison system. A 29-bed unit opened on Friday last week at WA’s largest women’s jail, Bandyup Women’s Prison, to address the complex mental health needs of women behind bars.

Bandyup inmate Anna* told SBS News the facility was a step in the right direction. “It will make [people] feel happy about themselves, have a yarn and a conversation. It will change their mood swings on the day, to actually talk to someone about their problems,” she said.

The new $7 million facility – called Bindi Bindi, the Aboriginal Noongar word for butterfly – will be accessible to the 618 women currently in prison across the state, of which nearly half are Indigenous.

Anna, a Yamatji-Noongar woman, has become a support worker herself for other inmates at Bandyup. “I’ll be proud for them to change and to cope properly in prison with their mental health, just to see them not come back, to go the right way, in their life,”

To view the SBS News story in full click here.

photo of back of woman with two long plaits at the door of a jail cell

Photo: Aaron Fernandes. Image source: SBS News.

Help get your community Census-ready

The 2021 Census is happening soon and ABS Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff have been working with communities across Australia to get Census-ready. The national advertising campaign began on 4 July. It includes materials and resources to encourage all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to complete the Census this August. Radio advertising will be translated into 19 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages.

It’s important that we continue to work together, to make sure all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are counted in the Census. The data from the 2021 Census will be more important than ever. It will provide valuable insights into how the pandemic has changed life in Australia.

A range of resources have been developed to support you in getting your community Census-ready, including:

  • Indigenous stakeholder toolkit
  • conversation guide
  • information sheets and posters
  • infographics and social media tiles

You can access all of these resources here.

You can also read and share stories about how Census data has benefited Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. For example, you can access the story of how Orange Aboriginal Medical Service used Census data to plan its new wellbeing centre, Walu-Win, for the local community here.

All the resources are available for you to download and share on your channels, as well as help you answer any questions from your community.  You’ll get a hard copy pack of some resources in the mail shortly. Remote communities are counted by Census staff throughout July and August, and we’ve been active in many communities until recently.

The health and safety of the community and our staff will continue to be our highest priority. We’re closely monitoring the developing situation across multiple states and territories and will adapt our approach to suit local circumstances. Visit the Census website for the latest updates.

If you have any questions, please reply to this email here or get in touch with your local Census contact. You can also follow us on Facebook for up to date information.

Contraception baseline data survey

Are you a clinician with something to say about contraception and abortion care? General practitioners, practice nurses, and community pharmacists working in general practice/primary care are invited to participate in a short 15 minute survey in the area of long-acting reversible contraception and medical abortion.

The aim of the study is to establish national baseline levels of knowledge, attitudes, and current practices regarding long-acting reversible contraception and medical abortion. The study is led by Prof Danielle Mazza, Head of Department of General Practice at Monash University and SPHERE CRE, and funded by an NHMRC Partnership Grant. You will be reimbursed with a $40 gift card for your time.

Please complete the survey here or contact AusCAPPS here for more information.

This project is in collaboration between Monash University, The university of British Columbia, The University of Sydney, The Centre of Excellence in Rural Sexual Health, La Trobe University, Family Planning NSW, Marie Stopes Australia and SPHERE CRE.SPHERE CRE Centre or Research Excellence log - purple green lavender sphere & text 'SPHERE'

Australia-first eye care nurse survey

Australia’s nurses are being encouraged to take part in a research survey which will help shape the discussion about the future of nurse involvement in eye care. The survey, the first of its kind in Australia, also aims to create a snapshot of the eye care nurse workforce.

CERA researcher Heather Machin, a registered nurse, is leading the study which is supported by the Australian Ophthalmic Nurses Association. She says the study will gather key information about the kinds of settings nurses, caring for people with eye care needs, work in, where they are located and the different roles they perform. “We hope the data collected in this survey will contribute to policy discussions about the future of eye health services in Australia and the role of nurses in how they are delivered,’’ she says. “Currently there is a wealth of data about eye care professionals such as orthoptists, optometrists and ophthalmologists – but there is no data on nurses, despite being the largest healthcare provider group, and their critical role in many settings.

To view the Centre for Eye Research Australia news item in full click here and for information about the survey and how to participate click here.

tile text 'Centre for Eye Research Austrlai - Survey: Australian nurses involved in eye care - Take part in an anonymours 15-minute survey' photo of nurses face in cap, mask, blue gown, Eye Research Australia logo, peach colour background behind text in black font

Remote PHC Manuals project update

The Remote Primary Health Care Manuals are currently being reviewed and updated. Monthly updates are being provided to health services and other organisations to keep them up-to-date throughout the review process. The July 2021 Project Update can be accessed here.

FYA identified roles for mob

The Foundation for Young Australians (FYA) has some deadly identified roles for mob to work on building the power of our young people, their campaigns and movements to heal injustice and transform the future! Young mob are strongly encouraged to apply for the following positions:

First Nations Director, full-time, $105k-113k pa. Location flexible.

The First Nations Director will have a leading role in putting our First Nations Strategy into practice, working closely with young First Nations mob and communities to build and unlock their power to transform the future. We’re looking for a campaigner, activist, advocate or organiser who has experience running projects with community. This person will be working across FYA including with the Advocacy and Campaigns team, Capacity Building and Strategic Projects on exciting initiatives.

2 x First Nations Program Officers, part time or full-time, 18 month contract, $65k-75k pa. Location flexible.

This is a learning and development opportunity – the Program Officers will be working closely with the First Nations team to coordinate campaigns, movement building and programs in community with young mob. We’re looking for someone passionate about building the power of young mob, with experience or interest in working with community on place-based and national projects, ideally someone who loves facilitating and doing training with mob. The Program Officers will be getting coaching, training and guidance and gain experience in campaigning, media, government relations, strategy, project management and more.

FYA is also looking for two exceptional individuals to join the Movement Building team as Training Lead, to deliver a nine-month long place based program in Melbourne’s West, and Wellbeing Project Lead,  to create an environment of safety, nourishment, and care  for young people leading hard, game-changing and important work to heal injustice and transform the future.

Last but not least, FYA’s social enterprise YLab is searching for a nurturing individual with a strong track record of empowering young people to deliver creative co-design projects to become its new Learning and Community Lead.

If you are interested in joining FYA, or know someone who would be a great fit for any of the roles, please direct them here. People can also email Roxanne Moore, Executive Director of FYA, who is keen to yarn with anyone interested in these positions here.

Applications close Wednesday 4 August at 6pm AEST.

tile text 'FYA - Foundation for Young Australians' - photo of 4 participants on the IMPACT NT Indigenous Youth Leadership Program sitting outside on rocks, sandy soil, green trees in background

Participants of FYA IMPACT NT Indigenous Youth Leadership Program.

You can view other job listings on the NACCHO website here.

World Hepatitis Day

On the 28 July each year, World Hepatitis Day brings the world together to raise awareness of the global burden of viral hepatitis and to influence real change. In Australia, the national World Hepatitis Day campaign is coordinated by Hepatitis Australia.

World Hepatitis Day is an opportunity to step up national and international efforts on hepatitis, encourage actions and engagement by individuals, partners and the public and highlight the need for a greater global response as outlined in the WHO’s Global hepatitis report of 2017. With a person dying every 30 seconds from a hepatitis related illness – even in the current COVID-19 crisis – we can’t wait to act on viral hepatitis. World Hepatitis Day 2021 in Australia will align with the global theme, which is ‘Hep Can’t Wait’.

For more information access the Australian World Hepatitis Day website here.

You can also read about an NACCHO member’s involvement in an initiative to boost hepatitis C elimination in regional Aboriginal settings and beyond in the Good News Story section of above.

bannder text 'Australian can't wait to eliminate Heapatitis! #WrldHepatitisDay #HepCantWait - World Hepatitis Day HEP CAN'T WAIT!' orange font, navy background with vector image in lighter blue of the globe

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Ask your mob, your way, R U OK?

feature tile text 'targeted suicide prevention campaign for ATSI communities - Stronger Together - Ask your mob, your way, R U OK?' yellow font, border black & white Aboriginal body paint

Ask your mob, your way, R U OK?

This week R U OK? has launched “I ask my mob, in my way, are you OK?”, to support ‘Stronger Together’ a targeted suicide prevention campaign for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. The suite of resources for “I ask my mob, in my way, are you OK?” includes culturally appropriate content led by community voices with guidance from the R U OK? Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Advisory Group and in collaboration with the Brisbane Indigenous Media Association.

The campaign encourages people to engage and offer support to their family, friends and colleagues who may be struggling with life. The resources feature engaging and authentic stories that promote a sense of connection, hope and identity.

“The Stronger Together campaign reinforces the power of yarning and “I ask my mob, in my way, are you OK?” is about showing the many ways we can ask, listen, encourage, and check in with our mob,” said Stronger Together Campaign Manager, Mr Stephen Satour. “The most important thing for mob to remember is that you don’t have to be an expert, you just have to be yourself and ask, in your own way, so you look after your mob. The resources give us the opportunity to get conversations started with individuals, organisations, and communities across Australia.” The stories show there are so many ways we can, and already do, have R U OK? conversations.”

“Nationally, Indigenous people die from suicide at twice the rate of non-Indigenous people. We know that starting conversations early can stop little problems growing into big ones. We need our mob to ask the question, their way.” says Dr Vanessa Lee-Ah Mat (BTD, MPH, PhD) is the Chair of the R U OK? Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Advisory Group. “When we launched Stronger Together in 2019 it got conversations started. These new stories from our community will help to keep the conversation going,” said Dr Lee. “Together we can empower our friends, family members, and the wider community to look out for each other as well as provide guidance on what to do if someone answers ‘no, I’m not OK’.”

The FREE Stronger Together community resources, including the Stronger Together video (screenshot below), are available on the R U OK? website here.

To view the media release click here, and to listen to a radio interview with Mr Satour click here.

screen shot from Stronger Together vimeo video, rectangular tile made up of portrait shots of 8 Aboriginal people with text 'stronger together' in the cetre

1,000s invited to join vaccine rollout

Thousands of community pharmacies and additional GPs across Australia will be invited to join the COVID-19 vaccine rollout.

This additional workforce will be brought on board to support pharmacies and GPs already delivering COVID-19 vaccines in cities, regional, rural and remote areas, as well as areas with a COVID-19 outbreak. To date, 118 community pharmacies are currently vaccinating across the country and over 470 community pharmacies will be vaccinating by the end of July 2021.

From Monday, over 3,900 community pharmacies who have expressed interest in joining the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, and who have previously been found suitable, will also be invited to participate.

For further information visit the Department of Health website here.

Torres Strait Islander woman receiving covid-19 vaccine with blurred image of inside of a warehouse in the background

Image source: BBC News.

ACCHO model key to PHC reform?

Wider implementation of a model of care exemplified by ACCHOs may be key to reforming primary healthcare in the bush, says a rural health leader. Dr Gabrielle O’Kane, CEO of the National Rural Health Alliance (NRHA), recently outlined a proposal for a Rural Area Community Care Health Organisations (RACCHO) model of care to ensure greater sustainability and accessibility of primary healthcare in rural Australia.

“[It is] picking up on the ideas of ACCHOs, where we want wrap around services for people living rurally,” O’Kane said. This place-based model of care could employ a range of health practitioners – including GPs, nurses, midwives and psychologists – and would have close links with community pharmacies, infant health centres, dentists, multipurpose centres and hospitals, paramedics, and scope for visiting specialists.

O’Kane discussed the proposal in a recent Consumers Health Forum of Australia (CHF) webinar exploring how the draft recommendations from the Primary Health Reform Steering Group may work on the ground. One the Primary Health Care Reform Steering Group recommendations is for “single primary health care destinations”. This has been the way ACCHOs have been doing things for 50 years, NACCHO’s Dr Dawn Casey told the webinar. “The most important feature [of ACCHOs] is that all of the people working in that particular health service will know all of the patients, whether it’s the receptionist at the front, the nurse, or the GP; they know their patients,” she said. GPs, she said, played an important role in ACCHOs, but so did all other practitioners and staff. There is equal recognition given to health practitioners, nurses, along with GPs, so that has been critical,” Casey said.

To view the Croakey Health Media article Primary health reform: some real-world views in full click here.

Orange AMS nurse Jamie Maney in clinic room with OAMS logo polo, name badge & lanyard

Orange Aboriginal Medical Service nurse Jamie Maney. Image source: NIAA website.

Indigenist Health Humanities for QUT

Indigenous academic Professor Chelsea Watego will join QUT on 26 July 2021, leading a $1.7 million project to develop Indigenist Health Humanities. Professor Watego, who joins QUT from The University of Queensland, said the project was aimed at developing Indigenist Health Humanities as a new and innovative field of enquiry, building an intellectual collective.

The funding was announced under the Federal Government’s ARC Discovery Indigenous scheme for 2021. “We are aiming to bridge the knowledge gap that hinders current efforts to close the gap in Indigenous health inequality,” Professor Watego said. “The project will bring together health and the humanities and will examine how race and racism operate within the health system in producing health disparities experienced by Indigenous peoples.”

She said the potential benefits included a more sustainable, relational, and ethical approach to advancing new knowledge, advancing research careers and advancing health outcomes for Indigenous peoples. The work will include opportunities for artists, academics, and activists to join and to take part in podcasts, writing retreats and public seminars.

To view the full article click here.

Professor Chelsea Watego, QUT, in horizontal striped dress grey navy green with arms folded leaning against wood sculpture wall

Professor Chelsea Watego, QUT. Image source: QUT website.

Inspiring rural Aboriginal health careers

It has been said that a picture is worth a thousand words, which is why the RACGP has decided to run a photo competition to showcase the experiences of members working in rural or remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health. Launched as part of ‘This Rural Life’, a new collaborative project of the college’s Rural and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health faculties, it aims to inspire others to pursue a career in rural general practice by showcasing the diverse work and skills being carried out in communities across Australia.

‘We know that our rural doctors and those working in Indigenous communities have some of the highest levels of professional satisfaction and personal satisfaction in their roles,’ Dr Michael Clements, Chair of RACGP Rural, told newsGP. ‘So we’re hoping that through using the photo competition and using these stories, we can really connect with and engage with the membership to think about taking on some of this work.’

To view this full article click here.

woman holding a camera to her face against dry outback blurred background

Image source: newsGP.

Pandemic’s health workforce impact

Right across Australia the health and medical workforce is stretched thin and fatigued by COVID-19 outbreaks, lockdowns, border restrictions and the vaccine rollout program. Workforce shortages are particularly severe in remote, rural and regional communities, and have highlighted Australia’s longstanding reliance on overseas-trained health professionals.

In WA, the remote communities in the Kimberley rely heavily on a fly-in fly-out workforce of remote area nurses who spend six weeks living and working in Aboriginal communities, then rotate for two weeks’ isolation leave and a week of annual leave. But since COVID-19 arrived in Australia 18 months ago, the nurses – and other health professionals like doctors and Aboriginal Health Workers – have been harder to recruit and retain.

The annual turnover rate of healthcare staff in the five remote communities serviced by Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Services (KAMS) is now 87%, more than double the rate of 35% a year ago. Julia McIntyre, KAMS Executive Manager Workforce, said staff have simply got “isolation fatigue” from having to quarantine for 14 days almost every time they entered WA.

Nurses account for 65% of KAMS workforce in the remote communities of Balgo, Beagle Bay, Bidyadanga, Billiluna and Mulan. Overall, the service employs 290 people and has a footprint across 421,000 square kilometres. Up to 70 staff work in the remote communities. Compounding domestic recruitment problems is the inability to use overseas staff, who make up a significant percentage of KAMS’ workforce. The impact of the staff shortage has resulted in reduced clinic hours, the use of more telehealth, redirection of clinical staff away from working on programs such as smoking cessation, and calls to recruitment agencies in Perth and the NT.

“But we can’t let it affect the vaccine rollout, that’s absolutely our priority,” McIntyre said. “We have a separate strategy for that, a dedicated FiFo team and the Royal Flying Doctor Service is now working with us to do Pfizer [vaccine] drops.”

To view this article in full click here.

rremote area nurse administering a COVID-19 vaccine to a Balgo Aboriginal Elder WA, sitting at a table outside a building

A remote area nurse administers a COVID-19 vaccine to a Balgo community member in WA. Photo supplied by KAMS. Image source: Croakey Health Media.

Health treatment satisfaction gap

Indigenous Australians using the NSW public hospital system reported less satisfaction with their treatment than their non-Indigenous peers, according to new data. The Bureau of Health Information (BHI) has released new data on 8,000 Indigenous people who were admitted to a NSW hospital between 2014 and 2019, as well as almost 300 women who gave birth in one of the state’s hospitals in 2019.

It found ratings of care provided by Aboriginal admitted patients improved from 2014 to 2019 in several areas, most notably in rural NSW hospitals. But a gulf between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians still exists. More than seven in 10 Aboriginal patients said health professionals always explained things in an understandable way, but that figure was eight in 10 for non-Aboriginal patients. “Aboriginal patients admitted to hospital were significantly less likely to provide positive ratings of communication, information provision and being treated with respect and dignity,” BHI chief executive Diane Watson said in a statement.

In maternity care, 77% of surveyed Indigenous women said they always had confidence in the health professionals who cared for them during childbirth. However confidence rates sat at 85% among non-Indigenous women. More than a quarter of surveyed Indigenous women also said their decision on how to feed their baby was not always respected. Dr Watson said the data should be used to drive improvements in Indigenous health, highlighting the importance of Aboriginal Health Workers in supporting and communicating with patients.

To view the full article click here.

older Aboriginal man in hospital bed with young Aboriginal girl looking at machines & young Aboriginal boy sitting on his bed

Image source: The Conversation.

TGA website refresh – have your say

The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) are responsible for regulating the supply, import, export, manufacturing and advertising of therapeutic goods, including medicines.  This ensures all Australians have access to safe and high-quality health products.  For example, TGA have an important role in the oversight of medicines shortages, side effects and product recalls.

TGA are currently in the discovery phase of their Website Redevelopment Project. They are looking to capture a clear understanding of the sector’s needs, including functionality, design, and integration of dependent services. This research is an informal exploration of how TGA can provide a better experience or service for you and your colleagues.  The findings and recommendations will help inform the website TGA will launch by 30 June 2022, as well as the continuous improvements they make next financial year and beyond.

How can you get involved? – over the next two weeks (19-31 July), TGA will be running 1 hour informal discussions via video conference to understand:

  • How you currently interact with the TGA website and any issues or barriers you encounter
  • A ‘hand’s on’ exploration of the current TGA website to identify pain points and future needs, and
  • Opportunities to provide an enhanced experience.

If you would be interested in getting involved to share your views and ideas for improvement of the TGA website, please get in touch here. The other option is  to register for our External Collaboration Forum session to be held on Thursday 5 August 2021 from 10am to 1pm via video conference. To register for this session click here.

TGA.gov.au logo & vector image of TGA building

New process for job advertising

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

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

Proud in culture, strong in spirit webinar

You are invited to the ‘Proud in culture, strong in spirit: celebrating National Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Children’s Day’ webinar on Tuesday 10 August 2021, 1:00pm–2:00pm (Sydney AEST).

The webinar will be moderated by Professor Bruce Neal, Executive Director of The George Institute and include presenters Dr Janine Mohamed, CEO of the Lowitja Institute, and Dr Julieann Coombes, Research Fellow in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Program at The George Institute.

Dr Mohamed will outline the importance of services in providing cultural connection, and the key role of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workforce in the safety and wellbeing of children and families. Dr Coombes will share her work, ‘Safe Pathways’- a quality improvement and partnership approach to discharge planning for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children following burn injury.

A facilitated conversation will follow the presentations. You can register for the webinar here.

purple banner text '#georgetalks - Pro9ud in culture, strong in spirit: Celebrating National ATSI Children's Day with Dr Janine Mohmed CEO Lowitja Institute & Dr Julie3ann Coombes, Research Fellow, ATSI Health Program, The George Institute for Health'

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Reform to butt out smoking rates

Feature tile - Tue.20.7.21 - Reform to butt out high Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander smoking rates

Reform to butt out smoking rates

A recent report from a health committee formed to advise the government on tobacco control shows Territorians are more likely to smoke than people anywhere else in Australia, and that half of Aboriginal adults in the NT are daily smokers. Research shows the smoking rate for people in remote and regional areas has not changed, although nationally fewer Aboriginal people are smoking.

“There needs to be more investment if we are serious and fair dinkum about reducing the number of Indigenous Australians who are smoking”
Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance NT Chief Executive John Paterson

The Australian Medical Association (AMA) NT Branch President Robert Parker urged the Chief Minister and his colleagues to introduce new laws which would help people in the NT quit smoking. While his letter did not flag any specific legislative reforms, Dr Parker told the ABC he wanted stronger surveillance on the sale and supply of tobacco, especially in remote areas.

You can read the full story by ABC News here.

Half of Aboriginal adults in the Northern Territory. are daily smokers. Photograph: Dave Hunt/AAP.

Half of Aboriginal adults in the NT are daily smokers. Photograph: Dave Hunt/AAP. Feature tile image credit: Raul Lieberwirth (Flickr).

 

Delivering 50,000 remote COVID jabs

The Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS) has vaccinated more than 5,000 people against COVID-19 in remote communities across Australia.

“We’re expecting on the back of the plans we’ve worked up to be delivering some 50,000 vaccines to some 500 vaccine clinics between now and the end of the year,” said RFDS Federation Executive Director Frank Quinlan.

The RFDS has been brought in to help federal, state, and territory health services and ACCHOs rollout the vaccine.

“The remoteness of some communities has been both their protection but also their risk because we know that those communities are often protected by distance but at the same time they experience poorer health by distance, and we know if COVID was to get into communities the impact would be devastating,” Mr Quinlan said.

In some areas, the RFDS are just delivering vaccine doses to medical centres. In others, they’re also deploying support staff to help local health workers. Elsewhere, they’re supplying the vaccines and all the health care staff required to administer the jabs.

Read the full story in The Sydney Morning Herald here.

A Royal Flying Doctor Service of Australia plane on the job in 2019. Image credit: Royal Flying Doctor Service of Australia.

A Royal Flying Doctor Service of Australia plane on the job in 2019. Image credit: Royal Flying Doctor Service of Australia.

 

More patients eligible for PBS

The Closing the Gap (CTG) Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) Co-payment program has expanded. From 1 July 2021, there is a new national registration database and more patients are eligible. To support providers register patients they have included three new exciting education resources on the Health Professional Education Resources Gateway:

eLearning module – the customised e-Learning module provides a clear overview of the CTG PBS Co-payment program, including patient access and prescriber eligibility. It also explains CTG PBS prescription requirements and the PBS Safety Net.

How to register a patient for CTG – the simulation demonstrates how to register a patient for CTG PBS Co-payment. It is easy to register patients using the new national registration database. You can access it through Health Professional Online Services (HPOS). To use HPOS, you need a Provider Digital Access (PRODA) account.

How to create a PRODA account – if you do not have a PRODA account, you can check out the new simulation on how to create a PRODA account.

You can read more about CTG PBS Co-payment program on the Australian Government Services Australia website.

Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme medicines

Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme medicines. Image credit:. healthstaffrecruitment.com.au.

 

National Anti-Racism Framework

The Australian Human Rights Commission has launched a plan to develop a National Anti-Racism Framework. The Commission is working with all levels of Government, peak bodies, human rights agencies and community organisations to progress the Framework. A Commission Concept Paper available on their website provides an initial overview of the Framework’s key principles, outcomes and strategies.

The Commission is in the early stages of scoping this proposal and is undertaking a series of targeted consultations and roundtables to identify stakeholders’ priorities and build a strong foundation for the Framework.

For more information and if your organisation is interested in participating in this process, please visit the Australian Human Rights Commission website.

Anti-racism image

Anti-racism. Image Credit: http://www.australiansagainstracism.org.

 

Meningococcal B Vaccination Program continues

The Marshall Liberal Government’s world-leading Meningococcal B Immunisation Program will continue indefinitely after proving it’s been incredibly effective at preventing the illness in high-risk age groups.

“This landmark vaccination program is saving lives and protecting lives.”

The landmark immunisation program was initially a three-year commitment, but the recent State Budget committed $3 million in 2021–22 and $5.3 million ongoing from 2022–23 to embed the program indefinitely for SA babies and young people. That’s on top of the $30.7 million allocated in the first three years of the program.

It comes as a joint Women’s and Children’s Hospital and University of Adelaide study found the program has been key in a 60% reduction in cases among infants and a 73% drop in cases for adolescents.

Minister for Health and Wellbeing Stephen Wade said given the program’s success, it will now be ongoing.

Read the media release by Steven Marshall Premier of SA here.

Meningococcal B Vaccination campaign image. Credit: healht.gov.au.

Meningococcal B Vaccination campaign image. Credit: healht.gov.au.

 

New dashboard on Closing the Gap

The Australian Government Productivity Commission have been populating a new dashboard on Closing the Gap. From this Dashboard, you can access available data on the targets agreed as part of the National Agreement on Closing the Gap.

Baseline data are available for the targets under the 17 socioeconomic outcome areas and more recent data are available for seven of these targets. Data are not yet available for the targets under the four Priority Reforms.

You can read more about how to access and interpret the data on the Australian Government Productivity Commission’s website.

view from waist up of two Aboriginal children one with arm around the shoulders of the other facing away from the canera

Image source: National Indigenous Times website.

 

Know Your Country campaign

We love our country but how well do we really know it? Closing the knowledge gap about First Nations people and cultures start at school.

The Know Your Country campaign asks principals, teachers, organisations and individuals to sign the petition to employ First Nations Cultural Educators in every primary school.

  • Give every kid a better education about local First Nations people and culture.
  • Ally with local First Nations communities and their right to share the wisdom of their own culture in school.
  • Back all parliaments to commit proper funding before their next elections.

Know Your Country is an open source, coalition advocacy campaign calling for locally approved First Nations Cultural Educators in every primary school across the continent.

The campaign policy was written and convened after 12 months of extensive consultation by Wiradjuri Man and World Vision Senior Policy Advisor Dr Scott Winch but it is being led by a First Nations Advisory Panel which includes Professor Tom Calma. The campaign is supported by a growing list of ally organisations.

Visit their website to sign the petition and download a range of great educational resources.

Know Your Country campaign logo.

 

New process for job advertising

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

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


dice spelling JOBS resting on keyboard

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: NACCHO CEO fully vaccinated today

feature tile text 'ACCHO CEO Pat Turner AM receives seond dose of COVID-19 vaccine TODAY' phot of Pat Turner at Winnunga

NACCHO CEO fully vaccinated today

Our NACCHO CEO Pat Turner AM, the daughter of an Arrente man and a Gurdanji woman, is fully vaccinated today!

Pat received her second dose of her vaccine at Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health and Community Services earlier today and urges all of you to follow up on your second dose of the vaccine in order to safely receive the level of protection from COVID-19.

“Please get your COVID-19 shots! It’s not just important for us as individuals but it’s important for all members of our families and our communities. The more people have the vaccination the safer we will be.

It doesn’t matter if you already have existing health conditions, don’t use that as an excuse not to have the COVID-19 vaccine. In fact it’s more important that you do have it! Any concerns that you have you must talk to the doctor at our health services.”

photo of Pat Turner, NACCHO CEO, receiving COVID-19 vaccine at Winnunga with text 'Pat Turner AM CEO, NACCHO' & COVID-19 VACCINATION footer with NACCHO logo

Diabetes Australia partners with ACCHO

Diabetes Australia is partnering with Carbal Medical Services (Carbal), a Toowoomba and Warwick based Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health organisation, to reduce diabetes-related vision loss and blindness in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people on the Darling Downs. The Diabetes Australia – Carbal partnership involves the promotion of the national eye screening initiative for people with diabetes KeepSight. KeepSight is an eye check reminder program run by Diabetes Australia which encourages people with diabetes to have regular eye checks. The program will use locally developed, culturally appropriate resources and information.

To help raise awareness of this important program Diabetes Australia has partnered with Indigenous Hall of Fame star and Gamilaroi man Roger Knox. Roger is asking people to register with KeepSight to reduce their risk of diabetes-related blindness.

You can read more about the project here and sign up for KeepSight at here and never lose sight of future eye checks.

You can also access the Diabetes Australia and Carbal Medical Services joint media release herel.

country singer Roger Knox standing in front of Carbal Medical Services sign

Country singer Roger Knox.

Australia’s human rights response disappointing

Amnesty International Australis says the Australian Government’s decision to ignore key recommendations from UN member states aimed at improving its human rights record is extremely disappointing. The recommendations, made at the UN Human Rights Council’s review of Australia earlier this year, found that 31 countries called for the Government to raise the minimum age of criminal responsibility, while 47 wanted Australia to stop offshore processing and mandatory detention of asylum seekers and refugees.

Amnesty International Australia is deeply disappointed the Australian Government has rejected both these recommendations and calls on it to immediately review its position. National Director, Samantha Klintworth, said: “In 2019–20, 499 children aged between 10 and 13 years were detained by Australia in the youth justice system – 65% of those children detained were First Nations children – even though First Nations children constitute only 5% of the population of that age.

To view Amnesty International’s media release click here.

The Law Council of Australia has also commented on this topic: “Australia’s appearance at the UN Human Rights Council on Thursday 8 July, in which a formal response to the recommendations received during the third cycle Universal Periodic Review (UPR) will be presented, puts a spotlight on Indigenous rights during NAIDOC Week.

The Law Council of Australia believes that it is imperative that First Nations peoples are heard on the issues that affect them, particularly at the federal level, and calls on Australia to enshrine a First Nations Voice to Parliament in the Constitution; take immediate measures to address the overincarceration of First Nations peoples; and raise the minimum age of criminal responsibility to at least 14 years. The Law Council urges the Australian Government to clearly commit to the constitutional entrenchment of the Voice, as called for in the Uluru Statement from the Heart and the subsequent recommendations of the Referendum Council.”

To view the Law Council of Australia’s media statement click here.

Image source: Amnesty International.

Hearing Australia unites with First Nations people

This NAIDOC Week Hearing Australia is uniting with First Nations people across Australia to help heal Country and the hearing health of Frist Nations children. Kim Terrell, the Managing Director of Hearing Australia said: “Hearing Australia is dedicated to improving the hearing health of all Australians and preventing avoidable hearing loss in the community.

1 in 3 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children are affected by ear disease and hearing loss⁺. With the support of many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health services across Australia, we’ve helped over 8,000 First Nations children aged 0–6 in 240 communities over the past 12 months. This is a key priority for us given 30% of these children had undiagnosed middle ear infections, while 25% had some form of undiagnosed hearing loss and were placed into specialist referral pathways.

I’d like to thank the amazing ear health workers involved around the country for their support. It’s terrific for us to be able to work so closely with them. Together, we’re seeing great progress in helping more children to listen, learn and talk.”

To view Hearing Australia’s press release click here and to listen to HAPEE Community Engagement Program Officer Denise Newman, who knows from personal experience the importance of checking children’s hearing at an early age and has an important to message to share with the community click on the video link below.

New Indigenous medical scholarships

A $1million gift from generous benefactors to Flinders University will establish an Indigenous student scholarship to increase the numbers of medically qualified Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander professionals working in their communities. The Calthorpe Wong Indigenous Medical Scholarship has been established through the generosity of retired ophthalmologists Mary Calthorpe and George Wong, who previously worked at the Flinders Medical Centre, the Repatriation General Hospital at Daw Park and the Marion Road Eye Clinic.

The endowed gift donation is expected to provide $80,000 annually to fund up to four scholarships each to the value of up to $20,000 in an academic year (or in future years a mix of new and ongoing scholarships) to assist Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander candidates to study medicine.

Flinders University Vice-Chancellor Professor Colin Stirling says it’s especially fitting that the scholarship has been made possible during NAIDOC Week: “We’re incredibly grateful to Drs Calthorpe and Wong for their determination to make a difference in this practical and meaningful way. It’s a deeply significant moment to be able to initiate a new scholarship that will be able to support so many Indigenous students simultaneously.”

To view the Flinders University media release here.

Associate Professor Simone Tur, George Wong, Mary Calthorpe, Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Indigenous) at Flinders University

Associate Professor Simone Tur, George Wong, Mary Calthorpe, Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Indigenous) at Flinders University.

CTG PBS Co-payment changes positive

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients registered under the Close the Gap (CTG) Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) Co-payment program will now have easier access to subsidised medicines. Changes that came into effect on 1 July 2021 mean eligible patients will have access regardless of their geographical location, their chronic disease status, or whether their prescriber is enrolled in the Practice Incentive Program.

Professor Peter O’Mara, Wiradjuri man and Chair of RACGP Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health, welcomed the changes as a ‘positive step forward’. ‘Expanding access to Close the Gap scripts for all patients regardless of where they live, where they got the prescription from and their chronic disease status will make a real difference,’ he said. ‘It is much more straightforward and that can only be a good thing.’

A centralised patient registration database has been developed to support the changes. Managed by Services Australia, the database allows for a one-off registration of patients via Health Professional Online Services (HPOS) and will cover the patient even if they move to a different clinic.

To view the newsGP article in full click here.

Chair of RACGP Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health, Prof Peter O’Mara standing at a lectern,

Chair of RACGP Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health, Prof Peter O’Mara, Welcomes the fact ‘the process has been made simpler and less centralised’. Image source: newsGP.

First Peoples Health camp for teens

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander high school students experienced a taste of university life and learned about possible allied health careers at Griffith University’s First Peoples Health (FPH) Aspiration to Health Programs Camp. In all, 19 students from grades 10–12 attended the three-day immersive camp, hosted by FPH in partnership with The Institute of Urban Indigenous Health (IUIH).

FPH Engagement Lead Chris Levinge said the camp showed students how people from all backgrounds could succeed at university and specifically, in the health sector. “We want to encourage the students to study a health program, as the evidence is already there that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people delivering health services, get better health outcomes for First Peoples,” Mr Levinge said.

“The camp is a really good way to bring the kids in so they can feel comfortable in a university setting and see for themselves that anyone can study here. You just need to work hard and find what you are passionate about learning in the health space.” IUIH academy manager Tracy Hill said the students were already completing a school-based traineeship for a Certificate III in Allied Health Assistance.

To view the article in full click here.

National Pancreatic Cancer Roadmap update

Cancer Australia has released the second Roadmap Construction Update on the development of the National Pancreatic Cancer Roadmap. The National Pancreatic Cancer Roadmap will identify key priority areas for action over the next five years to improve outcomes for people with pancreatic cancer. In focus for this update are the literature review, mapping of treatment and care against the Optimal Care Pathway, and the analysis of characteristics of people with pancreatic cancer activities.

You can visit and interact with an infographic here.

“NACCHO continues to engage with Cancer Australia and other stakeholders on the Pancreatic Cancer Roadmap. If you have specific feedback or comments you would like to share please contact NACCHO Medical Advisor Dr Kate Armstrong here.

banner text 'National Pancreatic Cancer Roadmap - have your say about pancreatic cancer' purple footer, yellow, orange, blue, green top half

New process for job advertising

NACCHO have introduced a new system for the advertising of job adverts via NACCHO’s communication platforms.

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

National Diabetes Week

This National Diabetes Week ‘it’s about time’ we all took the time. That means it’s about time we took the time to learn the 4Ts, the early warning signs of type 1 diabetes. It also means it’s about time we took the time to get checked for type 2 diabetes.

Life is busy. Work, family, friends, chores, a social life. The days fill up quickly. Sometimes we’re so busy running around after everyone else, we don’t take the time to think about our health.

For many Australians, putting themselves at the bottom of their ‘to do list’ puts their health at risk. This could include being diagnosed with diabetes too late. This is true for both type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Not making time for yourself, or time to learn the early warning signs, can put you at risk of major life-threatening health problems. Both types of diabetes are more common than you think.

Take the time. You’re important, your family is important and it’s really important, we don’t waste any more time. It’s about time.

Did you know diabetes…

  • Is the leading cause of blindness in working age adults?
  • Is a leading cause of kidney failure?
  • Is the leading cause of preventable limb amputations?
  • Increase a person’s risk of heart attacks and stroke by up to four times?

It’s about time you made ‘me time’, took time out and put you first. There is no time to lose. The earlier type 2 diabetes is detected,  the more lives will be saved.  

For more information on National Diabetes Week click here.

vector image in navy, blue & white of alarm clock & text 'diabetes australia'

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Reclaiming the right to give birth on Country

feature tile text 'Yolgnu women are reclaiming their right to give birth on the lands of their ancestors' & image of a newborn Aboriginal baby in a coolamon with mother's hands resting on the baby's chest

Reclaiming the right to give birth on Country

One in five babies born in East Arnhem Land are born premature. The ABC Radio National episode of Science Friction Medicine, listen up! Birthing on country makes the land shake looks at how a Yolngu community has a plan to change that statistic.

For many millennia, Aboriginal women in remote East Arnhem land gave birth on their traditional lands. But for the Elcho island community of Galiwin’ku, that all changed when women were made to travel to the big smoke to give birth, far away from home. Medical professionals said it would be safer for mothers and babies, but now Yolgnu women want to reclaim their birthing rights.

To listen to this episode of ABC Radio National’s Science Friction click here.

Female Elder with white wavy hair & white ceremonial paint on face

Elaine Guyman, Galiwin’ku community, Elcho Island, East Arnhem Land. Photo: Emma Vincent. Image source: ABC News. Feature tile photo taken by Bobbi Lockyer. Image source: ABC News.

You can also listen to another interview about the benefits of Birthing on Country here. In this ABC Radio Conversations with Richard Fidler episode midwife Christian Wright, talks about his work with the Indigenous women of Arnhem Land. screenshot of Conversations with Richard Fidler, ABC Radio, episode The male midwife, Christian Wright standing in bush with Akubra & open short sleeved shirt

Study tracks lives of preterm babies

Long before Cian McCue had any say in it, his mother Camille Damaso enrolled the healthy newborn in Australia’s own 7-Up program. Aidan Hill, 34, was also enrolled. He was born four weeks early. Lennair Hill, 34 and now Aidan’s wife, is also in the program. She was born eight weeks premature, at a very low birth weight, with a heart condition. Ms Hill’s mother Donna Sinclair said the birth was “as traumatic as you can get. I thought I was giving birth to a dead baby”.

The Life Course study was started in 1987 by the late paediatrician Dr Susan Sayers from the Menzies School of Health Research in DarwinShe described it as “Australia’s own 7-Up“. It started with an Aboriginal birth cohort of 686 babies including Aidan and Cian, and later added 196 non-Indigenous participants, including Lennair. Dr Sayers wrote that it would follow “the progress of tiny babies into adults, into sickness and health, for the rest of their lives.” The study is loosely modelled on the 7-up documentary series in England that followed the lives of 14 children from 1964, checking in with them every seven years.

Mr McCue, 33, a father and a video maker, said the project was about more than health checks. “It is about trying to close the gap, and raise that life expectancy of Aboriginal people,” he said. The study is looking for clues to who will get chronic diseases such as diabetes and heart disease, the No.1 killer of Indigenous people.

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

Cian McCue & his mother Camille Damasco standing under a tree with beach in the background

Cian McCue and mum Camille Damaso. Photo: Rhett Wyman. Image source: The Sydney Morning Herald.

Australia’s poor human rights results

The Human Rights Measurement Initiative (HRMI) tracker has again revealed Australia’s poor results when it comes to Indigenous human rights and treatment. Surveying experts and collating data analysis on civil, political, economic and social rights, the HRMI measures a nation’s performance on all human rights covered by international law. It found the majority of experts agreed Indigenous Australians had most of their human rights at risk.

Across the four key rights to education, food, health, and work, Australia averaged a ‘bad’ score of 78.85%. 57% of experts surveyed identified a risk to education, 71% identified a risk to health, and 61% noted the right to housing was also at risk. It was also identified that 71% of experts believe Indigenous people are at risk of having their freedom from arbitrary arrest violated. This lack of safety was particularly present in the freedom from torture for Indigenous people, which three-quarters of experts found to be in danger of not being recognised.

Whilst the poor results were not limited to Indigenous Australians, they were at a significantly higher risk of not having their human rights upheld. “It’s certainly true that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, people with disabilities, people with low socioeconomic status, and refugees and asylum seekers are identified as being at risk of violations of nearly every right that we measure,” HRMI strategy lead Thalia Kehoe Rowden told SBS News.

You can view this National Indigenous Times article in full here and a related article in Croakey Health Media here.

older Aboriginal woman sitting cross-legged with face in hands, makeshift bedding, surrounded by rubbish, black dog looking at camera

One Mile Dam, an Aboriginal community camp close to Darwin, where Indigenous people live in extreme poverty. Photograph: Jonny Weeks. Image source: The Guardian.

Charity status changes – a public health hazard

Leading public and Indigenous health groups have joined environmental, social sector and legal organisations in warning the Federal Government against proceeding with changes to the regulation of charities. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander justice advocates warn the move could silence their advocacy for people in custody, as well as undermining the work of organisations such as the First Peoples Disability Network Australia.

In an open letter to PM Scott Morrison, more than 70 organisations warn that the regulations would impede the work of charities in responding to communities’ needs in times of crisis and disaster. Signatories include the Public Health Association of Australia (PHAA), the Fred Hollows Foundation, Doctors for the Environment Australia, People with Disability Australia, the Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education, the Alliance for Gambling Reform and the Climate Council.

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

top of the white caps with FPDN logo on two children bending down, image of blurred green grass in the background

Image source: First Peoples Disability Network website.

Indigenous health checks and follow-ups

Through Medicare, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people can receive Indigenous-specific health checks from their doctor, as well as referrals for Indigenous-specific follow-up services. In 2019–20, 239,000 Indigenous Australians had one of these health checks (28%). The proportion of Indigenous health check patients who had an Indigenous-specific follow-up service within 12 months of their check increased from 12% to 47% between 2010–11 and 2018–19.

A recent AIHW report presents data on Indigenous health checks for a time period up until the end of June 2020 (i.e. overlapping with the COVID-19 period). It also includes data on telehealth MBS items that were introduced in 2020 as part of the response to COVID-19.

To view the AIHW report click here.

Comedian Sean Choolburra receiving one part of his 715 health check

Comedian Sean Choolburra receiving one part of his 715 health check. Image source: NIAA website.

Access to Aged Care medicines programs expanded

Access to Aged Care medicines programs have been expanded for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in remote areas. From 1 July 2021, Aged Care Facilities funded under the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Flexible Aged Care program (NATSIFAC) are able to receive Quality Use of Medicines (QUM) support from a pharmacist. Access to the Residential Medication Management Review (RMMR) program was extended to these Aged Care Facilities on 1 April 2021.

You can get more information about these program here or contact the pharmacy coordinating supply of medicines to your ACF.

blue multiple pill holder each compartment with 6 different coloured tablets

Image source: iStock.

New process for job advertising

NACCHO have introduced a new system for the advertising of job adverts via NACCHO’s communication platforms.

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

NAIDOC Week 2021 – 4–11 July

NAIDOC Week 2021 will be held from Sunday 4 July to Sunday 11 July.

This year’s theme – Heal Country! – calls for stronger measures to recognise, protect, and maintain all aspects of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture and heritage. Events will be held around Australia during the week to celebrate the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

You can download this year’s poster here and resources here and find out more about NAIDOC Week here.   banner - Aboriginal dot painting art circles, gum leaves blue green brown orange pink white & text 'Health Country! 4–11 JULY 2021 & Celebrating NAIDOC Week logo

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: First Nations take action to prevent COVID-19 outbreak

feature tile text 'First Nations take action to PREVENT COVID-19 outbreak' AMSANT developed poster black top half white font test 'STAY SAFE!', bottom half red text 'Stay on Country, Care for Family' - middle vector hand giving thumbs up sign

First Nations take action to prevent outbreak

Community leaders are monitoring their borders closely as half the country remains in lockdown due to the highly contagious Delta variant. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities are on high alert after the latest outbreak of the coronavirus forced lockdowns in NSW, Queensland, WA and the NT.

In the top end, The Northern Land Council NLD (which oversees approximately 51,000 First Nations people that live in around 200 communities) has extended the suspension of permits to enter and remain on Aboriginal Land until 1pm on Friday, when the lockdown of the Greater Darwin region is expected to end. In a statement NLC chairman Samuel Bush-Blanasi said “I congratulate all of our mob who have done a great job looking after families so far and this extension of the suspension of permits is another way we can do our best to make sure people stay safe.”

The organisation’s CEO, Marion Scrymgour, said that the move will not disrupt the delivery of essential services to remote communities. “We need to do whatever it takes to make sure our mob stays [safe]. Communities right across the NLC area have told us very clearly that we have to stop people traveling unless they are performing an essential service or function,” she said.

To view the SBS NITV article in full click here.

A Beagle Bay (WA) community member receives a coronavirus vaccine in April, 2021

A Beagle Bay community member receives a coronavirus vaccine in April 2021. Photo Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Services. Image source: SBS NITV website. Feature tile image source: AMSANT developed poster.

In a rapid response to the emerging COVID-19 concerns in the NT the NLC has also produced new material in the Kriol language, spoken throughout much of the southern parts of the NLC area.

NLC CEO praised the efforts of the workers at the Meigim Kriol Strongbala program who prepared the translation: “The Meigim Kriol Strongbala mob have provided a really quick turnaround to call by the NLC’s Executive Council to get information out to our mob in their own languages in this very urgent situation. We’ve learnt from our experience when the COVID-19 pandemic hit in 2020 that people out bush need straight forward information in their own language.”

To view the NLC’s media release click here.

poster in Kriol black half at top, red at bottom, Aboriginal vector hand with thumbs up in the middle, text 'COVID-19? Wi garra holot maindim mijal! Stap la kemp! Translation: Weigim Kriol Strongbala'

COVID-19 poster in Kriol, Meigim Kriol Strongbala. Image source: munanga linguist (@MunangaLinguist) Twitter.

Getting messages out from city to bush

John Paterson, CEO AMSANT has released a statement about getting the COVID-19 vaccine messages out to remote communities:

“I’m not telling anyone anything you don’t know when I say things are pretty chaotic across the country with the COVID-19 pandemic at the moment. Not least here in the Territory with lockdowns in Darwin, and now Mparntwe/Alice Springs. Nevertheless, AMSANT member services are responding magnificently across the Territory despite limitations on movements and interruptions and shortages of vaccine supplies. We are also working closely with many other Aboriginal community-controlled across both areas to work constructively to get the best results for people in town camps and those country men and women who are homeless or are stuck in town.

At the same time, we are producing material to encourage people to stay away from town, look after their families and care for their communities. A big part of this, in the near to long term, is to ramp up our work in promoting vaccination among our mob. With confusing messages, this is what has led to what I call “vaccine caution”. Not “hesitancy” or “resistance”.  Blackfellas aren’t stupid—we want to think about things carefully—with caution.

An initial part of our communications is by producing a series of designs promoting vaccination and the benefits to all of us: our Elders, our Kids and our Communities. These are being distributed—free of charge—for our mob to use on social media, as posters, banners and T-shirts—you name it!

And, as a member of NACCHO, AMSANT are more than happy for our members across the First Nations to use as they think will work in your own areas. This might involve your local languages; local branding with your logos; local messaging. As far as we are concerned, they are yours to use, and we will assist in any way we can.

If you want to get digital copies of the [images developed by AMSANT]—and any material in the future—contact vaccines@amsant.org.au. We would love to see material produced from other areas, as well.”

horizontal banner black yellow red with vector hand making 'V' sign in the yellow middle section, text 'VACCINATE! Protect our Elders!' - AMSANT logo in bottom left of the banner

One of the COVID-19 images developed by AMSANT.

Barriers to getting Indigenous people vaccinated

First Nations people are considered especially vulnerable to COVID-19, but health workers say they’re battling on many fronts to get them immunised. Listen to a ABC News video clip about vaccine update, featuring epidemiologist Dr Jason Agostino who has been an advisor on the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine to remote communities across Australia here.

snapshot from ABC News video, image of Aboriginal flay & text 'vaccine uptake, ABC logo news'

According to Dr Dawn Casey, Deputy CEO NACCHO, the snap lockdowns have highlighted the vulnerability of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as vaccination rates remain low. Dr Casey said about 6% of Indigenous people are fully protected with both doses and despite frontline organisations spending months encouraging remote communities to come forward for vaccinations, mixed messaging around the AstraZeneca jab had put many people off. “The hesitancy has occurred because of the initial concerns around AstraZeneca and then the changes of birthdates (eligibility age brackets) continually over the last several weeks,” she told ABC radio.

Ms Casey said coronavirus immunisation rates were noticeably lower than previous rollouts of flu vaccinations and there was a clear need to improve messaging. “But we’ve seen just in the last couple of days an increase to around 5,000 vaccinations happening.”

To view The West Australian article in full click here.

Min Ken Wyatt against DoH COVID-19 Vaccination health.gov.au/covid19-vaccines banner

Minister for Indigenous Australians, Ken Wyatt AM PM. Image source: The West Australian.

AMA President on vaccine rollout changes

In an interview  earlier this week AMA President, Dr Omar Khorshid commented on changes to the COVID-19 rollout:

“Yesterday’s announcement by the Prime Minister regarding the vaccine program after National Cabinet, indicates a really significant change in the vaccine program. It means that Australians under the age of 40, anyone over the age of 18, will be potentially able to access the AstraZeneca vaccine. The advice, though, from the AMA, and from doctors, is the same. The experts have said that the preferred vaccine under the age of 60 is the Pfizer vaccine and that is still the health advice. However, the PM’s announcement does mean that for those who really want their vaccine now or who think that they are happy to take the risks associated with AZ, that’s actually an option now for all Australians.”

“We, like the PM, recognise that there has been a desire in the community for access to AZ. People have been saying ‘I want it, I’m happy to make that call’. So, whilst the AMA does support ATAGI’s advice and says you should get Pfizer, this change is something that will free the vaccine up. It is an approved vaccine for anybody over the age of 18 and Australians in conjunction with their GPs can make that decision.”

To view the AMA media release containing a transcript of the interview with Dr Omar Khorshid click here.

AMA President Dr Omar Khorshid standing against blue banner covered in AMA logo

AMA President Dr Omar Khorshid. Image source: ABC News.

Behaviour modification crucial to stop COVID-19

Hygiene habits are set but social distancing behaviours slip over time  One of the longest-running studies examining COVID-prevention behaviours shows hygiene changes have been sustained but not complex changes, like social distancing, with important policy implications. A longitudinal survey from just after the first lockdown in Australia in 2020 shows people have maintained simple hygiene measures in response to the pandemic but reduced their physical distancing over time, indicating that lockdowns may be required to stop outbreaks.

The study by University of Sydney researchers in the School of Public Health and Sydney Health Literacy Lab, Faculty of Medicine and Health, found people who tended to keep up distancing behaviours were more concerned about the pandemic, had stronger feelings of responsibility towards their community, and felt more confident about their ability to keep up the behaviours.

To view The University of Sydney media release click here.

AMSANT poster text 'social distancing in the NT, 10 footies, 6 boomerangs, 5 sea turtle, 1 small saltie' with line figures of people either end of the different quantities, yellow & blue striped background

Image source: The Conversation.

Medicine shortage campaign

Do you know what to do if your regular medicine becomes unavailable?

Medicine shortages can be stressful, but knowing where to go for information can help.

The TGA publishes a range of information about medicine shortages on their website. You and your health professional can use this information to discuss options for continued treatment if you are affected by a shortage.

Visit the Medicine Shortages Hub page on the TGA website here for the latest updates and information to help you access medicines during a shortage.

5 empty foil tablet packets, each packet with 10 empty tablets

Image source: AJP.com.au.

Research to improve First Nations’ health

The federal government has allocated $180 million to ground-breaking medical research projects around Australia to improve health outcomes, including for Australians with cancer, dementia, brain injuries, heart problems and neurofibromatosis. $20.1 million in new funding will support 16 projects from real-time cardiac monitoring, to after stroke care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients, from medicine management for stroke patients to arm strength and rehabilitation.

Seven projects will receive a share of $7.4 million to improve the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people through the 2020 Indigenous Health Research Grant Opportunity:

  • The University of Adelaide – to work with Aboriginal families and health and social service providers to assess the feasibility of a novel care package to reduce cannabis and alcohol use and social stress in pregnancy
  • The Council of Queensland Institute of Medical Research – to develop cultural sensitivity and capability through communication training for mental health professionals
  • University of NSW – to understand how cultural resilience impacts Aboriginal health and quality of life
  • University of Sydney – two projects: (1) to understand the contribution of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture and wellbeing to health: Implementation of the What Matters 2 Adults wellbeing measure; and (2) VOICE – Validating Outcomes by Including Consumer Experience. Developing a patient reported experience measure for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people accessing primary health care
  • La Trobe University – Healing the Past by Nurturing the Future: Trauma-integrated perinatal care to improve health outcomes for Indigenous parents and infants in a rural setting
  • The Sax University – Indigenous Led Evaluation of Aboriginal Programs (ILEAP)

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

portrait of Dr Yvonne Clark from Uni of Adelaide

Dr Yvonne Clark’s research will assess the feasibility of a novel care package to reduce cannabis and alcohol use and social stress in pregnancy. Image source: Centre of Research Excellence Safer Families website.

New process for job advertising

NACCHO have introduced a new system for the advertising of job adverts via NACCHO’s communication platforms.

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

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: First Nations communities on high COVID-19 alert

feature tile test 'First Nations communities on high COVID-19 alert' circle images or Pat Turner & Dawn Casey having covid-19 vaccine, Pat with orange Aboriginal art dot on one edge of circle & Dawn with blue dots

First Nations communities on high COVID alert

NACCHO CEO, Pat Turner has an opinion editorial published in today’s The Sydney Morning Herald. The below is an excerpt from Pat Turner’s article.

‘The Granites gold mine COVID outbreak is a reminder that we continue to be one spark away from a COVID-19 wildfire in Australia’s Indigenous communities. We know that COVID hits the elderly and those with underlying health conditions hardest. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are more likely to live with cardiovascular disease, kidney disease or cancer and almost one-quarter have two or more of these chronic conditions.

These COVID risks are compounded by where we live. One in eight Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples live in overcrowded housing, which means COVID-19 could spread rapidly through our communities. And overcrowding poses real challenges for isolating suspected cases. Poor health outcomes and overcrowding are worse in remote settings, making the Granites mine outbreak all the more dangerous.

It has been because of the leadership of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and our community controlled health organisations that our peoples have been relatively unscathed by COVID-19 to date, with 153 cases nationally and no deaths. We need governments to step up on the vaccine roll out to keep it this way.’

To view the full opinion editorial click here. Note the 173 cases mentioned in the article should be 153.

clinic setting with man in mask holding cotton ball to arm, health professional in mask to front of photo

Image source: The Sydney Morning Herald.

Earlier this morning Dr Dawn Casey, Deputy CEO of NACCHO spoke with Fran Kelly on ABC Radio National Breakfast. Fran Kelly introduced the interview saying “as the highly contagious Delta variant of COVID-19 threatens to cause a national outbreak, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities are on high alert, particularly in the NT and north Queensland. Lockdowns in the NT and now parts of Queensland, including the Aboriginal community of Palm Island, have highlighted the vulnerability of First Nations people as vaccination levels remain low.”

Dr Casey responded saying that ACCHOs are very worried however are on high alert and have been since March last year. You can listen to the interview here.

screen shot ABC RN Breakfast with Fran Kelly audio Dr Dawn Casey Deputy CEO NACCHO being administered the COVID-19 vaccine at Winnunga ACT

Dr Dawn Casey, Deputy CEO of NACCHO. Image source: ABC RN Breakfast with Fran Kelly website.

RACGP calls for nation-wide COVID-19 campaign

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) is strengthening its calls for the federal Government to urgently ramp up a campaign to boost vaccine confidence in the community. The RACGP has previously stressed the importance of national targeted messaging and advertising for specific cohorts to clear up mixed messages and encourage more eligible people to get vaccinated. This is particularly important in the context of recent changes to AstraZeneca vaccine eligibility and patient concerns about vaccine safety.

To view the media release click here.

red stop sign, grey background & black chalk font writing 'COVID-19'

Image source: WA City of Swan website.

No-fault vaccine injury compensation

Today during the National Immunisation Conference held by the Public Health Association of Australia (PHAA), Professor Paul Kelly, Australia’s Chief Medical Officer, confirmed the introduction of a no-fault Vaccine Injury Compensation Scheme (VICS) for COVID-19 vaccines administered in Australia, a move that is strongly welcome to assist in Australia’s COVID vaccine roll out and boost public trust in the program.

A no-fault vaccine injury compensation scheme compensates individuals who have a vaccine injury following the correct administration of a registered vaccine. It is considered a vital component of a strong immunisation program by public health experts. PHAA CEO Adjunct Professor Terry Slevin commented, ‘This is a very welcome announcement.”

To view the media release click here.

medical professional with mask & gloves, in scrubs, drawing COVID-19 vaccine

Image source: Sharp Health News website.

New Minister for Regional Health welcomed

The Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (PSA) warmly welcomes the Hon Dr David Gillespie MP as Minister for Regional Health, and extends its gratitude to the Hon Mark Coulton MP for his service in this portfolio. PSA National President, A/Prof Chris Freeman, welcomed Dr Gillespie back to the portfolio and thanked Minister Coulton for his exceptional service to regional Australia.

“PSA congratulates Dr Gillespie on his appointment as Minister for Regional Health. His past experience in the portfolio, and as a clinician, will help drive innovation in the portfolio. PSA looks forward to working with him to improve health care and health outcomes for people in regional Australia.”

To view the PSA’s media release click here.

Dr David Gillespie blue shirt, elbow on wooden fence post in paddock with white black cow in the background

Dr David Gillespie. Image source: Port Macquarie News.

CoP priority reform video animations

The Coalition of Peaks has announced that all four Priority Reforms video animations are complete and available for Coalition of Peaks members use and community engagement. All members are encouraged to use the animations to help build awareness and ownership for the National Agreement and the Priority Reforms. The animations are available on the Coalition of Peaks website under resources or by using the below links.

Priority Reform One – shared decision making partnerships

Priority Reform Two – building community controlled sector

Priority Reform Three – improving mainstream services

Priority Reform Four – ensuring access to relevant data

snapshot from CoP priority 1 shared decision making partnerships animation 6 Aboriginal people, 4 women, 2 men, 2 children (boy & girl; centre Aboriginal woman shaking hands with an offical; top right CoPs logo

Image source: CoPs website, Priority Reform One – shared decision making animation.

$12.9m for PHC research

$12.9 million is to be invested into seven new research projects around Australia to use data to improve health outcomes for Australian patients. Funded through the 2020 Primary Healthcare Research Data Infrastructure grants, a number of research institutions will receive funding to undertake projects that use new and existing data sets to improve access, quality, safety and efficiency of our primary health care (PHC) system.

As part of the program, the South Australian Health Medical Research Institute Ltd will receive around $2 million for its Registry of Senior Australians (ROSA) project, which aims to expand the existing platform to understand emerging issues and continue ground-breaking research on key, and currently unknown, residential aged care impacts. ROSA’s efficient model leverages existing information, bringing together diverse datasets collected by different organisations throughout the country, to provide a whole picture of the ageing pathway.

The research will use new data gathered on immunisation, rehabilitation and social welfare to further research and embed ROSA as the only national data solution for policy and practice change in residential aged care.

To view the full article click here.ROSA logo text 'ROSA' in dark blue' Aboriginal dot art 6 circles yellow, aqua, yellow linked to inner circle

Hearing Loss Responsive Communications Training

Up to 40% of Indigenous adults in urban areas and 60% in remote communities have some degree of hearing loss. In some specific populations it is higher and in prison inmates over 90%. 79% of those affected are not aware they have hearing loss. Early onset hearing loss means bigger life impacts and unknown hearing loss has more impacts.

Below is a video giving information on Hearing Loss Responsive Communications Training for health professionals:

New process for job advertising

NACCHO have introduced a new system for the advertising of job adverts via NACCHO’s communication platforms.

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

National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children’s Day

SNAICC’s latest campaign National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children’s Day will be held on Sunday 4 August 2021.

Children’s Day is a time to for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families to celebrate the strengths and culture of their children. It is an opportunity for all Australians to show their support for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, as well as learn about the crucial impact that culture, family and community play in the life of every child.

The Children’s Day 2021 theme, Proud in culture, strong in spirit, highlights the importance of supporting strong family and community connections to help children achieve strong spiritual and cultural wellbeing and to form proud cultural identities.

SNAICC has produced and will distribute 15,000 fun Children’s Day bags to communities across Australia to help local communities and organisations celebrate. These bags, containing resources and activities for preschool-age children, are now on sale at the usual price of $6 per bag. Each bag will contain the Children’s Day 2021 Activity Sheet which you can also download.

contents of SNAICC Children's Day 2021 4.8.21 activity bag

Contents of the SNAICC’s Children’s Day 2021 activity bag.

Through SNAICC’s social media, website and email communications, they will also support people with online resources and ideas on how to celebrate and acknowledge this year’s Children’s Day. SNAICC also encourages people to register their events to showcase here.

SNAICC would love you to get involved in their promotions as they build momentum for Children’s Day on 4 August!

poster of National ATSI Children's Day 'Proud in Culture, Strong in Spirit - 4 August 2021 - SNAIC logo & Children's Day logo #ProudInCulture, #StrongInSpirit - Aboriginal boy with ceremonial pain & lap lap,& feather headdress standing on sandstone rock against blue background

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Territorians warned against COVID-19 complacency

feature tile text 'Territorians warned against COVID-19 complacency' Granites Tanamai gold mine site with vector images of covid-19 virus

Territorians warned against complacency

NT medical authorities are urging residents to avoid complacency after the outbreak of coronavirus at a Central Australian mine site. On Saturday morning (27 June 2021), a FIFO worker at the Granites Mine site, 540 kms NW of Alice Springs, tested positive for Coronavirus. 24 close contacts of the worker, including a town camp resident, travelled to Alice Springs last week.

Head of Public Health at Central Australian Aboriginal Congress (CAAC), John Boffa, said by Saturday night all had been contacted and were in isolation. By Sunday afternoon all 24 had returned negative test results. He said another 19 close contacts of the man transited through the Alice Springs airport and were being managed in other states. “We’re not totally out of the woods yet, you know, day three some of those people might become positive. But with the Delta variant it does look like the incubation period is very short, so it’s very encouraging. We’re quietly confident that perhaps we’ve dodged a bullet.” said Dr Boffa.

Dr Boffa said that vaccination rates among Indigenous residents of Central Australia remained low and that this near miss should be heeded as a wake-up call. Dr John Boffa said he hoped this near miss showed the Alice Springs community the importance of getting vaccinated. “We’ve been living as if COVID doesn’t exist – well it does exist, its real. We hope now with this scare that people will really jump in and get vaccinated.”

To view the full ABC News article click here.

CAAC female health worker being given the COVID-19 vaccine

Image source: ABC News, Samantha Jonscher. Feature tile image of Granites Tanamai gold mine site. Image source: NT Independent.

In another article in The Guardian: Low rate of Indigenous vaccination a worry, says minister, as NT Covid cases rise to seven

“I don’t want to see any deaths,” says Ken Wyatt, pointing to significant vaccine hesitancy in some communities.

“Our population is very young, the bulk of our people are under 50 so we need a good supply of Pfizer on a regular basis, especially now there’s a real risk to remote communities,” said CEO of the Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance Northern Territory, John Paterson.

Minister Ken Wyatt says he is ‘worried’ that the current Covid outbreak poses a significant risk to Indigenous communities. Photograph: Mick Tsikas/AAP

Focus on remote vulnerable NT communities

In an interview on Saturday 27 June 2021 the Minister for Health and Aged Care, Greg Hunt MP said the NT has taken strong actions early to ensure that their Territory and their Indigenous as well as non-Indigenous communities are protected and that these actions were appropriate and timely.

Minister Hunt outlined the 10 principal actions that make up the Commonwealth’s response, “Firstly, we have set up a National Incident Management Team to support the NT response, and that’s hosted in the National Incident Centre and includes representatives from the National Indigenous Australians Agency. We’ve ensured that the current stock of point of care testing is focused in the NT. More than 4,000 cartridges for testing all of those who maybe need it in remote or otherwise difficult-to-reach communities.”

“Thirdly, asymptomatic testing has been activated in the NT. Fourthly, the Royal Flying Doctor Service has been put into a position to assist with rapid deployment. Fifthly, Aspen is available for additional workforce support to the Aboriginal community-controlled health services. Then we have Purple House, where we are working to ensure that dialysis for patients continues safely. The seventh action is that all aged care facilities have had first and second dose visits and that we are assisting the NT Health in terms of their joint aged care response centre.”

“And we have convened a joint briefing with the Aboriginal health sector along with the NT and are working closely with them. Our focus is in particular on the remote and vulnerable Indigenous communities. Then, finally, flight manifests have been provided to all states and territories with regards to the workers who have left the Granites Gold Mine near Yuendumu. And then finally, we’ve offered any and all support to the NT Government for contact tracing.”

To view a transcript of Minister Greg Hunt MP’s interview click here.

The granites gold mine, Tanami Desert NT view from the sky

The Granites gold mine, Tanami Desert, NT. Photo: Caddie Brain. Image source: ABC News.

AMSANT and Land Council message to Mob 

In a joint media release the CEOs and Chairpersons of the Northern, Tiwi and Anindilyakwa Aboriginal Land Councils and the Aboriginal Medical Alliance of the NT (AMSANT) encouraged everyone to get vaccinated as soon as possible and provided the following message for Aboriginal people living in their areas: “If you are in the Greater Darwin lockdown area you must stay there. If you are outside the lockdown area you should stay in your community. That is the safest place for you and your family. Stay Safe, Stay on Country, Look after Family.”

To view the media release in full click here.

Aboriginal man & woman at the Miwatj Health Aboriginal Corporation, the woman is receiving the covid-19 vaccine by a health worker

The vaccine rollout in East Arnhem Land started in early April 2021. Photo: Miwatj Health Aboriginal Corporation. Image source: ABC News website.

Culturally sensitive service boosts jab rate

An Aboriginal Health Service in South Australia is operating dedicated vaccination cubicles for Indigenous people. All Indigenous Australians above the age of 16 are eligible for COVID-19 vaccination. To listen to the SBS News audio describing a program run by the Watto Purrunna Aboriginal Health Clinic in Adelaide offering culturally safe primary health care including COVID-19 vaccination click here.

An Aboriginal Primary Health physician from Watto Purrunna talking to a client before administering a COVID-19 vaccine

An Aboriginal Primary Health physician from Watto Purrunna talking to a client before administering a COVID-19 vaccine. Image source: SBS News website.

Calls to turn tide on unsafe medicine use

A consortium of Australia’s leading medicine safety experts has endorsed calls to turn the tide on unsafe medicine use and to better protect Australians against preventable harm caused by medicines. In a new report released yesterday, the consortium made consensus recommendations which will help shape Australia’s response to the declaration of medicine safety and quality use of medicines as Australia’s 10th National Health Priority Area.

With the long-awaited review of the National Medicines Policy starting next month, there is no better time to ensure medicines safety is front and centre of Australia’s National Medicines Policy. The recommendations come off the back of last month’s NPS MedicineWise Symposium, hosted by NPS MedicineWise, where health and government leaders lamented the lack of good data on medicine errors and data on the patient impacts of those errors.

To view the media release click here.

hand palm up on wooden table, blister pack of tablets - 3 remaining, 6 tablets on table & a syringe

Image source: Business Daily website.

Indigenous LGBTQIA+ discrimination research

New research from Edith Cowan University (ECU) has found 73% of Indigenous LGBTQIA+ participants have experienced discrimination, in a first-of-its-kind study that addresses the impacts of racism, social exclusion and queer-phobia on Indigenous LGBTQIA+ people in WA. The study, Breaking the Silence, was led by Pro Vice Chancellor Professor Braden Hill, a Nyungar Wardandi man and head of Kurongkurl Katitjin, ECU’s Centre for Indigenous Australian Education and Research. The research was also supported by Indigenous LGBTQIA+ researchers from Kurongkurl Katitjin and funded by government health promotion organisation Healthway.

The study also found over 40%of participants decided not to disclose their Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander heritage on dating apps for fear of racism. Almost 13% had experienced homelessness or housing insecurity, one third felt ‘invisible’ within their Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, and about 45% felt a sense of belonging to the wider LGBTQIA+ community. Over 60%of participants had listed GPs and psychologists as a source of significant support.

Breaking the Silence centres on the findings from a survey of 63 Indigenous LGBTQIA+ community members, 206 health care professionals and 49 focus group sessions. “For many of the participants there was a great sense of pride in being Indigenous and LGBTIQ+, however, the experience of discrimination, particularly racism, was a major concern,” said Professor Hill. Participants noted discrimination in the forms of being ignored, teased, maliciously outed, followed in public or being “victims of physical violence or other crimes”.

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

Professor Braden Hill in navy suit, purple shirt & tie standing outside university building with wooden totem poles

Professor Braden Hill. Image source: National Indigenous Times website.

Diabetes remission diet

It wasn’t too long ago that researchers in the UK challenged the convention that type 2 diabetes – diabetes that comes on in adulthood – is a lifelong condition that’s irreversible. Using a weight management program, they showed for some, that the diagnosis can be shelved.

Now those researchers have found more encouraging signs. The high blood pressure that often goes along with type 2 diabetes may be helped as well, with some people no longer needing medication. Here in Australia, experts have taken notice, with the very low calorie program now being used in Sydney as well as in remote communities where people are at greater risk.

To listen to the ABC Health Report with Norman Swan episode Diabetes remission diet also found to reduce high blood pressure click here.hot pink background with stethoscope, blood pressure gauge, pills, syringe and board with the word Diabetes

New process for job advertising

NACCHO have introduced a new system for the advertising of job adverts via NACCHO’s communication platforms.

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

Group B Strep Awareness Month

July is Group B Strep Awareness Month, an annual campaign to highlight the importance of group B Strep awareness, education and research.

  • Group B streptococcal bacteria can cause a wide range of illnesses.
  • Between one and four out of every 1,000 newborns contract group B streptococcal disease (GBS disease) from their mothers during birth.
  • Some of the life-threatening complications of GBS infection in newborns include bacterial infection of the bloodstream (septicaemia), pneumonia and meningitis.
  • Many Australian maternity hospitals screen pregnant women for GBS infection to reduce the risk of GBS infection in newborn infants.

Tragically, many families first hear about group B Strep after their baby is seriously ill with GBS meningitis, sepsis or pneumonia.

It is important more families hear about group B Strep so they can take action to protect their newborn baby.

For more information click here.pink vector paper with tape at top & text 'July is International GBS Awareness Month! GROUP B STREP INTERNATIONL' pink, white & blue awareness ribbons

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Yarning about managing pain

feature tile text 'asking painful questions - yarning about managing pain' image of multiple coloured tablets & capsules pouring from a brown medicine bottle

Yarning about managing pain

Living with pain can be challenging and everyone experiences pain in a unique way. Opioids are commonly used for pain management. However, their role in the management of chronic non-cancer pain is limited and the potential for harm, particularly with long-term use and with higher doses, is significant.

In the new Asking painful questions video series Australians living with chronic non-cancer pain and health professionals experienced in pain management provide honest answers to questions about pain, opioids and other options for management. The videos were developed with funding from the Therapeutic Goods Administration, Australian Government Department of Health and in collaboration with Consumers Health Forum of Australia (CHF) and NACCHO.

banner text 'asking painful questions - yearning about managing pain, NACCHO logo & background Aboriginal dot art, 'NPS MEDICINEWISE Independent. Not-for-profit. Evidence-based.'

Deputy CEO NACCHO, Dr Dawn Casey said, “We aim to secure the best health outcomes for our people, providing a culturally safe healthcare experience. Ensuring Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people use pain medicines, including opioids, safely and effectively is really important – sometimes these medicines can have big risks. Finding the best possible pain management option for our people can be challenging, especially considering when complex comorbidities. But our ACCHOs are best placed to understand the issues clients face and can provide overall health and wellbeing services that are culturally safe and meets clients’ needs, including pain management” Dr Casey further added, “The administration of effective and appropriate services provided by ACCHOs for managing pain is well demonstrated in these videos.”

Lisa Briggs, CEO of Wathaurong Aboriginal Cooperative Limited, said, “Managing pain is a complex and important issue for our clients.  Chronic pain can be confronting and debilitating and sometimes unfairly stigmatised.  The videos in this project have really highlighted these issues and the way that ACCHOs and culture are central to managing pain for many Aboriginal people. Through accessing holistic services and support through ACCHOs, such as Wathaurong, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have the best chance of managing their pain effectively.”

Watch the video of two Aboriginal men living with pain, a pharmacist and a GP talk about their experiences with chronic non-cancer pain, opioids, non-medicines approaches and pain services here.

 

ACCHOs get the results

When Kristie Watego gave birth to my third son, Luke, in 2018 her experience was vastly different to that of her previous pregnancies: “Throughout my second pregnancy I had felt categorised and disempowered. For my third pregnancy I chose to receive my care through the Birthing in Our Community (BiOC) program, offered to women pregnant with an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander bub booked to birth at Mater Mothers Hospital in Brisbane. I was surrounded by a team who took the time to hear me and to listen. When it was time for Luke to be born my extended family were there and were able to be involved in this magical and sacred time. The difference for me as an Aboriginal woman birthing my baby surrounded by support from a program that has been designed by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people was astounding.

Kristie Watego’s experience is backed up by research. A paper published this year in Lancet Global Health has confirmed that babies born through the BiOC program are 50% less likely to be born premature and more likely to be breastfed – and their mothers are more likely to access antenatal care.

BiOC was established by the Institute for Urban Indigenous Health (IUIH) and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community Health Service (ATSICHS), Brisbane in 2013 in partnership with Mater Mothers’ Hospital. It is a unique example of what can be achieved through genuine partnership in an Indigenous-led setting. The program was designed by Elders, mums and dads and community.

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

photo of Kristie Watego holding her sleeping son Luke to her chest

Kristie Watego, with baby Luke. Image source: Croakey Health Media.

New Medicare funding for vaccination

The AMA has welcomed the Government’s announcement of new Medicare funding for GPs to vaccinate patients against COVID-19 during home visits and visits to aged care facilities, but warned more is needed to address vaccine hesitancy in those patients over 50 years of age.

AMA President Dr Omar Khorshid said “It is critical we complete the job of vaccinating the most vulnerable in the community as soon as possible. This measure will help plug the current gaps in COVID vaccination in aged care facilities. However, the biggest issue right now is vaccine hesitancy in the over 50s. AMA has been working with the Minister for Health and his Department to allow vaccine hesitant Australians time for a proper discussion with a GP about COVID vaccination.”

“Current Medicare funding only supports brief consultations. Yet GPs may need to spend up to 30 minutes for some patients to discuss their specific circumstances and ensure they understand the benefits of COVID vaccination. When this occurs, most Australians decide to go ahead and get vaccinated.”

Dr Khorshid said GPs had done “a wonderful job in lifting vaccination rates across the country, with the vaccine roll out accelerating significantly since general practice became involved. But the job is nowhere near done and GPs need the Government’s support to take our over 50s vaccine program to the next level. The Government needs to assure patients that if they need to spend more time with their GP discussing COVID-19 and vaccination, Medicare will cover this extra time with a GP in the interests of all Australians.”

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

collage of 3 images Medicare cards, vaccine being drawn, gold dollar symbol

Image sources clockwise: The Australian; Medical Economics; AMA.

COVID-19 posters for health clinics

The Australian Government Department of Health have produced a collection of materials created for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander vaccine providers to download and print to utilise in their health clinics and practices. These materials include posters, social media resources, handouts and web banners.

A recent inclusion to the suite of resources is a printable posters stating they are a COVID-19 vaccination site, and what vaccines they have available for the public.

To view the range of resources including the poster click here. DoH poster 'We are a Pfizer and AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccination clinic Talk to reception to make an appointment. health.gov.au/covid19-vaccines COVID-19 vaccination'

Protect your little one from flu

Influenza in kids can be serious. This year getting vaccinated against flu is more important than ever. It is the best way to protect your child and others from flu. The influenza vaccine is available free for children aged 6 months to under 5 years under the National Immunisation Program. Flu (influenza) is a highly contagious viral infection that can cause widespread illness and deaths every year. It is a leading cause of hospitalisation for children aged under 5 years. Vaccination is our best defence against flu viruses and is free for children aged 6 months to under 5 years under the National Immunisation Program.

Increased hand washing and social distancing helped to stop the spread of flu viruses last year. However, flu could recirculate this season as we relax restrictions. Vaccinating yourself and your child against influenza this year is more important than ever as we lead into the colder months. For further information on influenza in kids click here.

Last week the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) announced that the time between COVID-19 and flu vaccination has been reduced to 7 days.

NSW Government poster text 'Protect your little one from flu - FREE flu shots for all Aboriginal children - Ask you health worker of GP - It's in your hands' image of Aboriginal hand held up palm facing camera, 2 fingers turned down, thumb black ink child, one finger face & syringe, other finger happy face

Image source: NSW Government Aboriginal children flu poster.

Community liver cancer rates rise

The Australian study just published in international Lancet journal EClinicalMedicine reveals the survival difference was largely accounted for by factors other than Indigenous status – including rurality, comorbidity burden and lack of curative therapy. The study of liver cancer, or Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), included 229 Indigenous and 3587 non-Indigenous HCC cases in SA, Queensland and the NT.

“The major finding was important differences in cofactors for HCC between Indigenous and non-Indigenous patients, with Indigenous patients more frequently having multiple cofactors for HCC such as hepatitis B, diabetes and alcohol misuse,” says Flinders University Professor Alan Wigg, who led the investigation.

While cancer care is difficult to deliver to remote Australia, he says HCC is preventable with surveillance. “What is needed is a culturally appropriate model of care that in rural communities that screens for liver disease and identifies at risk patients,” says Professor Wigg, who also is Head of Hepatology and Liver Transplant Medicine Unit at the Southern Adelaide Local Health Network in SA.

To view the Flinders University media release click here.

blue gloved hands holding surgical instruments removing pieces of red jigsaw puzzle of a liver

Image source: Johns Hopkins Medicine website.

Age of criminal responsibility – national action needed

ACOSS CEO Dr Cassandra Goldie, says CEOs of the national COSS Network, ACT Attorney-General Shane Rattenbury MLA, and ACT Minister responsible for Youth Justice Emma Davidson MLA will call for the Commonwealth, states, and territories to follow the ACT’s lead and raise the age of criminal responsibility. There is overwhelming medical consensus that locking away children as young as 10 can cause lifelong damage to their mental health and cognitive development. However, despite this evidence the only jurisdiction to commit to raising the age of criminal responsibility is the ACT. There is nothing stopping states and territories from acting in the best interest of children and of the community. The time to raise the age is now.

To view the ACTCOSS media alert click here.

blurred image of youth with arm outstretched and palm facing camera obscuring face

Image source: The Conversation.

SA Elder abuse campaign

Respecting the rights and safety of older Aboriginal people is the focus of a new video series being unveiled today, to coincide with World Elder Abuse Awareness Day. Minister for Health and Wellbeing, Stephen Wade, said Office for Ageing Well has launched the set of videos as part of its Respect.Connect awareness campaign, which will target Aboriginal communities over the next five years. “Office for Ageing Well has joined forces with Aboriginal community representatives for the first time, to develop the videos featuring Aboriginal ambassadors talking about the importance of keeping Elders safe,” Minister Wade said. “The Respect.Connect campaign emphasises that valuing and respecting Aboriginal Elders and their wisdom is the pathway to maintaining culture and building a better future.”

To view the Government of SA media release click here. and to view the Respect.Connect. campaign for Aboriginal communities click here.banner text 'respect connect #stopelderabuse' golden yellow background, purple text with Aboriginal art blue, purple, pink, lavender, golden yellow

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: NACCHO celebrates Men’s Health Week

feature tile text 'Men's Health Week 14–20 June 2021 Connecting for Men's Health' photo of Darren Braun AHW trainee at Danila Dilba in Palmerston sitting on chair in clinic facing another Aboriginal man

NACCHO celebrates Men’s Health Week

The National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) celebrates Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander male health and wellbeing. It upholds traditional values of respect for the law, Elders, culture and traditions, responsibility as leaders and men, holders of lore, providers, warriors, and protectors of families. Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander people can be more susceptible to poor mental health and suicide due to discrimination, economic and social disadvantage, and the ongoing trauma or impact of past events and policies. Connecting to land, culture, spirituality, family, and community can help support strong mental health and wellbeing for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

NACCHO Chair Donnella Mills said, “The commitment of our Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations (ACCHOs) is to support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander males to live longer, healthier lives by providing a wide range of preventative and early intervention men’s programs that address critical social and emotional issues that our men face. “The overall aim is to reduce the rate of hospitalisations, which is almost three times higher than for other Australian men and to reduce the number of Aboriginal men in prison who are imprisoned at 11
times the rate of the general male population. I would urge our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men to focus on their overall health especially after the COVID-19 outbreak and stay up to date with a comprehensive annual 715 health check at their nearest ACCHO. Annual health checks are crucial in picking up little things before they become worse, give peace of mind, best of all, they are free.”

To view the NACCHO media release in full click here.

Feature tile image: Darren Braun. an Aboriginal Health Worker trainee at Danila Dilba in Palmerston, Darwin. Photo: Emilia Terzon. Image source: ABC News.

CAAC Ingkintja Male Health Service

Ingkintja: Wurra apa artwuka pmara is an Aboriginal Male Health Service at the Central Australian Aboriginal Congress (CAAC) that has provided cultural activities and social and emotional wellbeing services for male health for many years. The ACCHO delivers a full suite of medical care complemented by social support services with emphasis on preventative health with annual 715 health check, servicing over 1,000 men every year. The Ingkintja ‘Men’s Shed’ male-only facilities (showers and laundry facilities) and gym enable males, both young and old, to come together and access fitness, comradery and practical life skills. A psychologist and Aboriginal care management worker are available through Ingkintja, allowing therapeutic care on counselling, violence interventions, cultural and social support to men.

Ingkintja also delivers the Jaila Wanti prison to work program, which provides support to Aboriginal prisoners 90 days prior to release and post release to reintegrate back into community through the coordination of health, wellbeing and social support services. Male prison transitional care coordinators work with clients and facilitate linkages with employment and training providers. The team establish trust and respect and assist in reconnecting the men with family and culture, to reintegrate them into the community. Through the program, Ingkintja deliver regular visits to Aboriginal prisoners in the Alice Springs Correctional facility, conducting sessions with Aboriginal prisoners on their holistic health and wellbeing including health promotions with a focus on staying off the smokes and alcohol. Corrections staff have provided encouraging feedback on the positive impact that these visits have on the Aboriginal prisoners, noting changed attitudes and behaviours as the men reflect on the impact of their actions and ask for the next Ingkintja session.

For further information about Ingkintja: Wurra apqa artwuka pmara click here.

Aboriginal man middle age royal blue collared shirt, sunglasses, akubra with arm around shorter older Aboriginal man in a hoody smiling

Image source: CAAC website.

Connecting for Men’s Health

Marginalised groups such as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men have a health status far worse that the average non-Indigenous male.

Men’s Health Week is an opportunity to make a positive difference in the lives of men and boys. The week has a direct focus on the health impacts of men’s and boys’ environments.  It serves to ask two questions:

  • What factors in men’s and boy’s environments contribute to the status of male health as indicated in the table above?
  • How can we turn that around and create positive environments in men’s and boy’s lives?

For more information about Men’s Health Week 14–20 June 2021 click here.

You can access NACCHO’s media statement regarding Men’s Health Week here.tile text 'NACCHO Ochre Day Men's health, our way. Let's own it! National conference National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation - NACCHO www.naccho.org.au' white text, NACCHO black eagle over Australia logo

Camping on Country Program

Camping on Country is an award winning program developed by Ernie Dingo and Indigenous elders and staff. It is a remote men’s movement designed to create powerful advocacy around closing the gap on remote men’s health. Camping on Country’s network of men is growing as they camp on country and link men’s groups around remote Australia.

Each month Camping on Country visits a remote community and run men’s health and culture camps which include local Leadership and Lore men for that country. At the camps they provide a space for local leaders to discuss what health issues they face in their community, what programs are working or not working and work with the men to articulate their ideas for health programs targeted at their own men.

Camping on Country run a second bigger camp where the men from neighbouring language groups all come together to showcase their culture and wellbeing programs. The men learn from each other and show pride in their culture and programs. Local health stakeholders and community organisations are engaged and activated and the men are assisted in identifying and applying for a specific health program grant developed by them for local men in their community.

Camping on Country partners with health service providers to ensure its camps are safe, healthy and inspiring. Men get access to on-country culturally safe health checks, counselling and mental health first aid. They employ local men to assist with the camps and collect and collate camp data to track the program’s impact and progress.

You can access an information sheet on the Camping on Country project here and Camping on Country website here.

Aboriginal man wearing navy cap with Camping on Country logo & khaki shirt in bush setting with hand on Camping on Country sign

Image source: Camping on Country our health – our way website.

Medication harm reduction research

The Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (PSA) has welcomed the Federal Government’s announcement of $11.7 million in funding for research into medicines safety and quality use of medicines. The announcement is the first round of grants to be delivered under the Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF), agreed with the Federal Government and PSA last year as part of the Health Minister’s commitment to progress Medicine Safety as a National Health Priority Area. Grants will enable recipients to target medication-related harm and the safe use of medicines in the community. PSA National President, Associate Professor Chris Freeman, applauded the announcement and said research undertaken through this grant funding is an important step to improving the health of Australians through medicine safety.

To view the PSA media release click here.

wooden surface with pills, syringe, heroin on a spoon

Image source: Southwestern Public Health website.

Walkern Katatdjin Committee seeks members

The Walkern Katatdjin project is looking for people who are committed to improving the health and wellbeing of young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander LGBTQA+ mob to join the Walkern Katatdjin Governance Committee. The Walkern Katatdjin (Rainbow Knowledge)  project aims to improve the support available to our young mob through research. The Governance Committee will oversee the Walkern Katatdjin project design, procedures, data management, and translation of findings to ensure meaningful impacts from the project.

You can find more information about the Walkern Katatdjin project here and to learn about the role of the Walkern Katatdjin Governance Committee and how to apply to be join here.banner drawing of two Sistergirls, text 'Walkern Katatdjin Rainbow Knowledge with rainbow made up of Aboriginal flag & Torres Strati Islander flag colours

Fresh direction offers hope for Indigenous health

New approaches and partnerships will place an Aboriginal-led research centre in a position to lead significant progress in improving Indigenous health in communities across the Northern Territory and South Australia.

In celebrating its 10th Anniversary, Flinders University’s Poche SA+NT centre has unveiled a new high-profile 10-member Advisory Board and plans to form alliances with community organisations across the nation’s central corridor to amplify the impact of health initiatives.

It’s a bold new direction for the Aboriginal-led centre, announced at an event to celebrate the Anniversary in Darwin. “Poche SA+NT is designed to drive local action and to promote national collaborations across a number of university partners, enabling us to work together on issues of priority that are identified by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders,” Flinders University Vice-Chancellor Professor Colin Stirling told the Darwin event.

To view the media release in full click here.Flinders University & Poche SA+NT logos

Conference presenter applications DUE 18 June

Statistics show Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have significantly higher mental health needs than other Australians and experience psychological distress at around 3x the rate of the non-Indigenous population. We see similar numbers across the seas, with Māori and Pasifika populations carrying the highest burden of suicide with higher incidences.

It is time to speak up, be heard and celebrate projects, programs and research contributing to the mission of closing the gap for Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander and Maori peoples.

The Australian & NZ Mental Health Association has announced a final call for applicants wishing to share their insight on Indigenous mental health and wellbeing for the inaugural Indigenous Wellbeing Conference. This event is taking place from 7–8 October 2021 at Cairns Pullman International.

The conference theme ‘Honouring Indigenous Voices & Wisdom: Balancing the System to Close the Gap’ will be bringing attention to four core areas:

  • Promoting Wellbeing
  • Social, Political and Cultural Determinants
  • Community Care, Cultural Revitalisation & Healing
  • Culturally Responsive Care & Community Control

Together we will help to empower Indigenous communities to develop their own solutions to living long healthy lives; strengthen culture; and reconnect with spirit.

Submit your presentation brief hereDUE DATE: FRIDAY 18 JUNE 2021.banner text 'Indigenous Wellbieng Conference' Aboriginal artwork 4 hands overlaid, colours ochre, red, brown, black, white

World Elder Abuse Awareness Day

World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (WEAAD) is commemorated each year on 15 June to highlight one of the worst manifestations of ageism and inequality in our society, elder abuse. Elder abuse is any act which causes harm to an older person and is carried out by someone they know and trust such as a family member or friend. The abuse may be physical, social, financial, psychological or sexual and can include mistreatment and neglect.

WEAAD was officially recognised by the United Nations General Assembly in December 2011, following a request by the International Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse (INPEA), who first established the commemoration in June 2006. In many parts of the world elder abuse occurs with little recognition or response. It is a global social issue which affects the health, wellbeing, independence and human rights of millions of older people around the world, and an issue which deserves the attention of all in the community.

According to WHO, prevalence rates or estimates exist only in selected developed countries – ranging from 1 to 10%. Although the extent of elder mistreatment is unknown, its social and moral significance is obvious.

For more information about WEAAD click here.banner orange & purple text 'WEAAD on purple ribbon & JUNE 15 World Elder Abuse Awareness Day We can stop elder abuse. & image of purple pinwheels in a green grass field