NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Pharmacist Scholarship recipient Bryony Forrest

The image in the feature tile is of NACCHO Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Pharmacist Scholarship recipient Bryony Forrest during an interview at the 2022 NACCHO Members’ Conference in Canberra.

Pharmacist Scholarship recipient Bryony Forrest

Bryony Forrest (Darumbal / Kanolu), an aspiring deadly pharmacist and a recipient of the NACCHO Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Pharmacist Scholarship was interviewed at the recent NACCHO Members’ Conference following the Medicines and Pharmacy stream session.

In February 2022, NACCHO announced applications were open for the inaugural NACCHO Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Pharmacist Scholarship, proudly supported by a grant from Sanofi Australia. The scholarship provides subsidy and support for prospective or current Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander pharmacy students and aims to build the pharmacist workforce among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. It includes tailored mentoring from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health leaders.

In April 2022 NACCHO was pleased to announce the five successful recipients. Though the scholarship was initially established to support two applicants, the quality and number of applicants led to the expansion of the program:

  • Bryony Forrest, Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT)
  • Jai-ann Eastaughffe, James Cook University
  • James Sowter, RMIT
  • Jason Coleman, University of SA
  • Louis Emery, Queensland University of Technology (QUT)

Dr Dawn Casey, NACCHO Deputy CEO said, ‘NACCHO was impressed with the calibre and volume of applicants we received, especially in this first year of the scholarship’s implementation. We are proud to provide opportunities that help build leadership and skills amongst Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health professionals, who are significantly underrepresented in the pharmacy profession.’

Karen Hood, Sanofi’s Country Lead said, ‘As members of Australia’s healthcare community we know how important it is to listen to, and work in partnership with, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities to improve health outcomes and support meaningful steps toward a more fair, equal and just society. ‘Recognising the crucial role pharmacists play in our health system and the clear need for greater Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander participation in this field of study, we are delighted to be supporting the inaugural NACCHO scholarship as another step toward improving health and economic participation as determined by Australia’s First Peoples.’

Bryony Forrest said ‘I have always had a passion for pharmacy from when I started as a pharmacy assistant in 2018, which only deepened as time went on and I gained more experience in this field. Connecting with my community is extremely important to me and forming these meaningful connections with individuals in the context of health showed me how powerful being a pharmacist is, and what a unique opportunity it holds for health interventions and long-term health solutions in improving the lives of others. I look forward to practising as a pharmacist and making a difference for other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.’

You can find further information about the NACCHO Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Pharmacist Scholarship on the NACCHO website here and listen to Bryony Forrest’s interview below.

Winnunga Health and Wellbeing Service at AMC

Winnunga has been operating the standalone Winnunga Health and Wellbeing Service in the AMC (Alexander Maconochie Centre, ACT adult prison) since January 2019, within its own model of care. This is an Australian first and one Winnunga believes will prove to be one of the most significant advances in the care and rehabilitation of Aboriginal detainees. Development of this service required meeting the RACGP Standards for health services in Australian prisons with infrastructure, staffing, equipment and policies. The service provides high quality holistic care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in prison and continuity upon a client’s release from prison.

A client satisfaction survey of the Winnunga prison health and wellbeing service was published in the Journal of the Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet in February 2022. Participant responses indicated a high quality of care across all five aspects of
care that were evaluated (participation in care; care design; care planning and self management; care coordination; follow up and respectful care). At least three-quarters of respondents indicated that they had received the specified aspects of care ‘Most of the time’ or ‘Always’. The provision of respectful care was rated particularly high, with all respondents indicating that they always had things explained in a way they could understand, had their concerns listened to, and felt that they and their beliefs were respected by Winnunga staff. Clients were also highly satisfied with the care provided to them and their families through Winnunga.

The most common suggestions for improvement in the client survey related to Winnunga not yet having an opioid replacement pharmacotherapy program so some clients could not be transferred to Winnunga care. This has now been addressed and more detainees have access to the Winnunga prison health and wellbeing service

The above information about the AMC Health and Wellbeing Service Survey was published the Winnunga News November 2022 edition here. You can read the Evaluating Patient Experience at a Novel Health Service for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Prisoners: A Pilot Study article here.

Winnunga Health Clinic at Alexander Maconochie Centre. Image source: The Canberra Times.

HIV and sexual health webinar this WEDNESDAY

The Australasian Society for HIV, Viral Hepatitis and Sexual Health Medicine (ASHM), the Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations (AFAO) and NACCHO are partnering to deliver a webinar during Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander HIV Awareness Week 2022, to discuss available HIV resources and support that we can offer to the sexual health sector. The purpose of the HIV Toolkit Webinar is to provide ACCHOs and the HIV and Sexual Health Sector with culturally appropriate, evidence informed, and effective training for workers to build the capacity and confidence to support and educate their Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander clients around HIV and sexual health.

The webinar also aims to increase the uptake and utilisation of AFAO’s recently published ‘Healthcare Workforce Toolkit: HIV and Sexual Health for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people tool kit as an ongoing resource with comprehensive information, including to help improve rates of HIV and sexual health testing, and to increase the awareness and uptake of HIV treatment, and prevention tools including condoms, PrEP (Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis) and PEP (Post-Exposure Prophylaxis).

The webinar is from 12:00 pm to 1:00 pm (AEST) Wednesday 7 November 2022. To REGISTER click here.

ACCO literacy campaign linked to crime reduction

Researchers from Literacy for Life Foundation, the Lowitja Institute and the University of NSW have authored a report about the beneficial impacts of a First Nations community-controlled adult literacy campaign. The most significant quantitative finding was a 50% reduction in reported serious offences in a sample of 162 campaign participants. Qualitative data from interviews found an increased use of legal assistance services following the campaign. These findings are contextualised through the lived experiences and perceptions of First Nations campaign staff and participants, community leaders and government and non-government agency personnel.

This study demonstrates the potential benefits of an adult literacy campaign in reducing the incidence of negative justice system outcomes in rural and remote NSW Indigenous communities with low levels of English literacy. By drawing on linked administrative data to corroborate self-reported and observer reported data, this study has shown that participation in a community-controlled Aboriginal adult literacy campaign correlates with reductions in the average number of total offences, especially those related to traffic and justice procedures.

Of particular note, serious offences were halved in our study group, especially in women and in relation to assault. The analysis of qualitative data indicates that improved literacy may lead to greater degrees of self-control, among other positive impacts. If efforts to reduce the overrepresentation of Indigenous adults in the criminal justice system are to be successful, further research into and resourcing of adult literacy interventions is urgently required. Such research can assist in moving beyond simplistic law-and-order agendas by acknowledging that ‘building of positive futures for communities relies on building a foundation of well addressed non-criminal needs’.

You can read the International Journal for Crime, Justice and Social Democracy article Impact of a Community-Controlled Adult Literacy Campaign on Crime and Justice Outcomes in Remote Australian Aboriginal Communities in full here.

Image source: Literacy for Life Foundation website.

What’s next for our kids? asks Chris Bin Kali

Deputy Chairperson, Aboriginal Health Council of WA (AHCWA) Chris Bin Kali has written an opinion piece published in the National Indigenous Times last Friday about Premier Mark McGowan announcement of a $63m plan to address conditions for youth in detention. Bin Kali said while it is clear that additional funding is desperately needed, so is clarity around what is next for our young people in detention.

Bin Kali said a single funding announcement is not enough to make lasting change, ‘We know that in Australia, Aboriginal youth are disproportionately represented in youth detention. A large majority of the youth detainees currently at Banksia Hill are Aboriginal.  Under the National Agreement on Closing the Gap, the WA Government has committed to partnerships and shared decision-making with Aboriginal people about issues impacting our lives, and to improving the accountability and responsiveness of government to the needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.”

“To honour these commitments, the WA Government must listen to Aboriginal people and partner with us to find solutions to these issues. We know that these problems are complex and will require long-term changes across a range of areas. We know how troubled some of our young people are and the healing they need. We don’t pretend these things can be fixed overnight. But we are certain that they won’t be fixed without prioritising Aboriginal voices.”

To view the NIT article What next for our kids, Premier? in full click here.

Chris Bin Kali. Photo supplies by AHCWA. Image source: National Indigenous Times.

NDIS Ready videos and social media tiles

At the end of 2021 NACCHO delivered over $1.25m in grants to 57 Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations (ACCOs) to support the delivery of culturally safe and appropriate National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) services to their communities. The grants were delivered through the NDIS Ready program which is funded by the Department of Social Services.

The Indigenous Business Support Funding (IBSF) grants, worth $22,000 each, are designed to build the capacity of ACCHOs and ACCOs to deliver disability services sustainably under the NDIS by empowering them with the resources they need to be NDIS ready. This will support the growth of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander NDIS market and workforce and help improve access to culturally safe services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with disability.

Some of the funding has been used by NACCHO affiliates to produce the following videos:

AHCWA

AH&MRC

AHCSA (no videos)

Sector Jobs

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: U and Me Can Stop HIV video launch

The image in the feature tile is of the U and Me Can Stop HIV banner painted by VACCHO staff for the VACCHO reception area. Image supplied by VACCHO.

U and Me Can Stop HIV video launch

On World AIDS Day yesterday VACCHO launched a video U and Me Can Stop HIV video. This video was a result of a collaboration by VACCHO with Victorian Aboriginal Health Service and Thorn Habour Health. Over a period of two days VACCHO made 1,000 awareness red ribbons for World AIDS Day. VACCHO said the ribbon making was a great way to engage people and have a low key yarn about HIV.

Warra could change face of Indigenous leadership

Research tells us that the more diverse management and leadership teams are, the better organisations function. Diversity leads to richer ideas, a more inclusive work culture and better business decisions and outcomes. In fact, McKinsey & Company, a global management consulting firm, found in 2020 that the relationship between diversity on executive teams and the likelihood of financial outperformance had strengthened over time.

Despite this, many organisations continue to fall behind the eight ball on diversity, with the statistics especially dismal for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, who remain vastly underrepresented – or completely excluded – from leadership in the Australian workforce. According to the Minderoo Foundation’s Indigenous Employment Index, Indigenous employees are almost entirely absent from senior management and executive leadership positions. Among the 31 employers who reported the relevant data, Indigenous representation at senior leadership levels was just 0.7%.

It’s a reality that Kamilaroi woman, Carlyn Waters is all too familiar with. Over the past 20 years, Waters has held senior positions in various government roles, often finding herself as one of very few Indigenous people at the same level. Now, Waters is calling time by, spearheading a new sponsorship program called Warra, the first program delivered by Cultivate Indigenous – a majority First Nations owned and operated business. The program seeks to inspire and develop talent at all levels by embedding a culture of sponsorship, and delivering tailored development opportunities to grow, retain and advance Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders.

To read the Women’s Agenda article ‘That kind of support can be transformative’: A new, curated sponsorship program could change the face of Indigenous leadership in full click here.

Carlyn Waters. Image source: Women’s Agenda.

Questions must be answered on pharmacy trials

According to a media release from the Australian Medical Association (AMA) state governments have a responsibility to answer questions about why they are determined to move Australians to a second-class health system and put patient safety at risk through pharmacy prescribing trials. AMA President Professor Stephen Robson launched a video today posing six questions to state governments about pharmacy prescribing trials and the decisions that led to their implementation.

Professor Robson said these trials presented a clear risk to patient safety; ignored ethical concerns regarding separating prescribing and dispensing of medicines and could lead to an increase in anti-microbial resistance and the emergence of more superbugs. “Responding to GP shortages with second-class policy solutions that trample over the advice of independent bodies like the Pharmacy Board of Australia and the Therapeutic Goods Administration and bypass established national processes that exist to protect patient safety isn’t the answer.

“GPs train for 12–15 years to have the expertise to diagnose conditions that are being covered in some of these trials. You can’t replace that training and experience with a few hours of weekly online training without putting patients at risk. GPs are highly skilled and equipped to diagnose the difference between a UTI and other serious and potentially deadly health conditions. They are equipped to take a full medical history of their patients and understand the full range of contraceptive options available to women. A second-tier health system that moves the costs of health services from the government to the patient (except for Victoria which is proposing to cover some of the costs) isn’t the solution.”

To view the AMA media release Questions must be answered on pharmacy prescribing trials in full click here.

Image source: RACGP newsGP.

Exhibition showcases art’s healing power

The healing power of art is reflected in an exhibition of First Nations ceramic works originating from a new collaboration, which co-mingles visual art education and well-being activities for Purple House dialysis patients in Alice Springs. Charles Darwin University (CDU) Academy of Arts has partnered with Indigenous-owned and operated health service Purple House, to present the exhibition that blends and celebrates the cultural diversity of Aboriginal communities in central Australia.

The exhibition’s title, Pana, Tjulpirpa, Pilki combines the words for clay in three different desert languages spoken by the ceramic artists who hail from the region’s Pintupi-Luritja, Pitjantjatjara and Kukaja communities. It showcases the creative talent of First Nations women who are Purple House patients receiving dialysis treatment, while studying visual arts at CDU’s Alice Springs campus.

Purple House is a non-profit health organisation, based in Alice Springs, that aims to improve the lives of First Nations people with renal failure, support families and reduce the impacts of kidney disease in communities. Purple House CEO Sarah Brown said that art has always been integral to Purple House and the lives of its patients. “Art helps keep culture strong in communities, and it’s a powerful way to share knowledge and stories, and an important source of income,” Ms Brown said. “Our patients get so much out of their ceramics classes at CDU each week and this is a fabulous opportunity for them to exhibit their artwork.”

To view the Charles Darwin University Australia News article Exhibition showcases art’s healing power in Alice Springs in full click here.

An exhibition in Alice Springs showcases the ceramic artworks of First Nations women who are receiving dialysis treatment at Purple House, while studying Visual Arts at CDU. Image source: CDU website.

Improving transplantation access for mob

More than 30 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander kidney patients and their carers will travel from across Australia to attend a two-day meeting in Adelaide next week. The meeting aims to improve access to and outcomes from transplantation for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, according to a statement from The National Indigenous Kidney Transplantation Taskforce (NIKTT), a multidisciplinary national network of clinical, patient, and community advocates.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander kidney transplant recipients, dialysis patients, and their carers and family from the Kimberley, the Torres Strait, central Australia, far north Queensland, regional NSW and Victoria, and the Top End will travel to Adelaide to work together with clinicians, researchers, and policy makers to determine priorities and next steps for the NIKTT.

Organisers say the meeting has been designed by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander kidney patients, non-Indigenous advocates, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander researchers to be “a safe, shared, brave space that will allow us to co-design the future of transplantation equity together”.

To view the Croakey Health Media article As new report launches, historic meeting of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander kidney patients and carers to co-design transplantation equity in full click here.

Theatre staff prepare surgical equipment for a kidney transplant operation. Photo: Frances Roberts, Alamy. Image source: The Guardian.

Sector Jobs

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

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

International Day of People with Disability

International Day of People with Disability (IDPwD) is held on 3 December each year. IDPwD is a United Nations observed day aimed at increasing public awareness, understanding and acceptance of people with disability. The Australian Government has been supporting IDPwD since 1996 and provides funds to promote and raise awareness of the day and support activities around Australia. This includes encouraging individuals, schools, community groups, businesses and organisations to get involved and hold events on, or around, 3 December.

The IDPwD program aligns with key action areas under Australia’s Disability Strategy 2021–31. This includes improving community awareness by recognising the positive contribution people with disability make to society, and building confidence in the community to work and engage with people with disability.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people experience disability at up to twice the rate of non-Indigenous Australians and while many receive support for their disability, historically Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have been up to four times less likely to receive a funded disability service. For more information about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with disability, including statistics from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare click here.

You can find more information about IDPwD here.

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Disability Royal Commission – have your say

The image in the feature tile is NDIS participant Rex Munungurr (middle) and cousin Ted Wanambi (left) out the front of their homes in the East Arnhem Land community of Garrthalala. Photograph: Tamara Howie. Image appeared in The Guardian article The land the NDIS forgot: the remote Indigenous communities losing the postcode lottery published on 5 November 2019.

Disability Royal Commission – have your say

The Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with a Disability wants to hear from people with disabilities, carers, families, support workers – anyone with a lived experience that has feedback and a contribution to make. This is a chance to tell your story and help bring about positive changes in the disability space. Don’t be deterred by the word ‘submission’ – there is no set format, it doesn’t have to be detailed or even written, it can be a recording of your story or even a painting.

Some of the common issues being found in submissions to date are discrimination and exclusion, barriers to accessing community services, issues with the NDIS, children being excluded from school, discrimination, and lack of support in the workplace and the disproportional impact of family violence for women with a disability.

Those who are thinking about making a submission are encouraged to contact Your Story Disability Legal Support if they’d like advice and support prior to making a submission. Your Story Disability Legal Support is available in all states and territories offering free independent, confidential support to make submissions to the Disability Royal Commission, which is currently open until Saturday 31 December 2022. It’s not compulsory to contact this service but could be useful if you have concerns about privacy and confidentiality or naming a service provider or other agency that you need to maintain a relationship with, such as a school or an employer. The service can also link people to free counselling and support, interpreting and Auslan services and specific support for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

You can access the Your Story Disability Legal Support website here which includes a webpage for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples here. You can also access the Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability website here.

Image source: Your Story Disability Legal Support website.

NPS MedicineWise Programs and Services Transition

NPS MedicineWise will cease all operations on Saturday 31 December 2022. This follows the recent decision by the Federal Minister for Health and Aged Care, the Hon Mark Butler, to continue with the redesign of the Quality Use of Therapeutics, Diagnostics and Pathology (QUTDP) Program announced in the March 2022 Federal Budget.

Under the redesign, from Sunday 1 January 2023, NPS MedicineWise will no longer receive grant funding from the Department of Health and Aged Care to deliver Quality Use of Medicines (QUM) functions. The Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care (the Commission) will take on core QUM ‘stewardship’ functions while education programs for health professionals and consumers will move to contestable funding.

Although NPS MedicineWise will no longer operate, a number of NPS MedicineWise programs and services will be transitioning to other organisations. The following programs and services will be transitioning to the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care (ACSQHC):

  • MedicineInsight
  • MedicineWise App and Doctor’s Bag App
  • Choosing Wisely Australia website here
  • Delivery of the National Medicines Symposium
  • Delivery of MBS and PBS Practice Reviews
  • Value in Prescribing bDMARDs materials
  • NPS MedicineWise website here and online learning platform here (excludes Australian Prescriber journal and Good Medicine Better Health)

The following programs are transitioning to NACCHO:

  • Good Medicine Better Health
  • Resources to support medicines use in remote locations

NPS MedicineWise online programs and resources that support medicines use in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities will transition to the NACCHO website here from Thursday 1 December 2022. Specific resources being transitioned include:

  • Good Medicines Better Health– learning modules and consumer resources developed for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workers and Practitioners and their communities to improve quality use of medicines and medical tests
  • Resources to support medicines use in remote locations
  • Principles for producing best possible medicines lists for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

If you have any queries regarding these resources, you can contact the NACCHO Medicines team using this email link.

To view the AMA News article NPS MedicineWise Programs and Services Transition in full click here.

Image source: AMA News website.

Exploring how to transform Indigenous oral health

A first-ever conference featuring a wealth of dental experts will explore how to transform Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ oral health and attract more Indigenous dental professionals. Inspirational speakers including Australia’s first Indigenous dentist Dr Chris Bourke and several other oral health specialists and professionals will present at the first Indigenous Dental Association of Australia’s (IDAA) National Conference on Monday 28 November 2022.

Only about 0.4% of the approximately 16,000 employed dentists in Australia are Indigenous and Indigenous patients have significantly poorer oral health outcomes than non-Indigenous patients. “More than 60% of Indigenous patients aged 35-54 have signs of early-stage gum disease and almost one-third of Indigenous adults rate their oral health as poor or fair,” IDAA president Dr Gari Watson said.

“Indigenous children also have significantly worse oral health outcomes than their non-Indigenous counterparts and suffer higher rates of tooth decay and gum disease. We can only close the gap in health inequalities by improving Indigenous representation in the workforce and spurring the next generation of Indigenous health professionals. With oral health key to overall health and wellbeing, it is also vital we improve current dental health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. This conference will help generate ideas for addressing unacceptable oral health inequalities and how we can highlight what’s behind every great smile—healthy teeth.”

To view the Bite magazine article Upcoming conference to explore how to transform Indigenous oral heath in full click here.

Image source: Parenthub website.

Mental health support for flood affected communities

Flood-affected residents in the Central West are being encouraged to access a range of expanded mental health support services to help them deal with the devastating floods that have impacted their communities. Premier Dominic Perrottet said the NSW Government had increased the number of mental health clinicians and workers deployed in the State’s Central West, to provide support to flood ravaged communities.

“We understand it has been an incredibly stressful and upsetting time for people in our flood affected towns and communities. We are committed to providing whatever support we can to help people who are doing it tough,” Mr Perrottet said. “Today I am also announcing an immediate funding boost for Lifeline Central West to increase its Rapid Response Program currently active on the ground, with six additional crisis counsellors, new vehicles and funding for fuel, and accommodation.”

To view NSW Government’s joint media release Mental health support for flood-affected communities in full click here.

There were 157 flood rescues in Eugowra, Central West NSW during the period 13 to 16 November 2022. Photo: NSW SES. Image source: The Orange App.

Staggering undersupply of GPs in next 20 years

New analysis from the Australian Medical Association (AMA) has confirmed Australia is facing a shortage of more than 10,600 GPs by 2031, with the supply of GPs not keeping pace with growing community demand. The AMA’s new report found demand for GP services increased by 58% between 2009 and 2019. The report, The general practice workforce: why the neglect must end is a detailed examination of the scale and causes of the GP workforce shortfall and proposes solutions, as part of the AMA’s Plan to Modernise Medicare campaign.

AMA President Professor Steve Robson said the AMA’s projections showed no let-up in future demand for GP care. “We are staring at this unimaginable shortage of GPs in our future and our projections show these pressures are just not going to ease up. We simply should not be in this position, but it’s clear the short-sighted policies of successive Commonwealth governments have failed the community.”

“We need long-term solutions to improve access to GP led care for patients, including in rural and remote areas that have been hardest hit by workforce shortages. Right now, we need all levels of government to work together with the health sector to resolve the GP workforce issues. These state-based quick fixes are not the answer. Our report shows the most cost-effective method, with the best outcomes for patients, is GP-led primary care. We want to work together with pharmacists, psychologists, and other allied health as part of a collaborative team for every patient,” Professor Robson said.

To view the AMA’s media release AMA report confirms staggering undersupply of GPs in next two decades in full click here.

Image source: AMA News website.

New guidelines to tackle chronic kidney disease

New guidelines to improve the diagnosis and management of chronic kidney disease in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have been launched in a bid to tackle one of the country’s biggest killers. Every day, on average, 63 people with kidney disease die in Australia. While the condition affects one in 10 non-Indigenous Australians, First Nations people are twice as likely to develop kidney disease and nearly four times more likely to die with it.

New guidelines are the results of four years of work from a federally funded project team coordinated by Kidney Health Australia and led by University of Sydney research program Caring for Australians and New Zealanders with Kidney Impairment. with the Recommendations for Culturally Safe Kidney Care for First Nations Australians having now been launched.

To read the National Indigenous Times article New guidelines developed to tackle one of the biggest killers of Indigenous people in full click here.

Image source: Mala’la Health Service Aboriginal Corporation’s Renal Dialysis webpage.

Medicine shortage – Ozempic and Trulicity

You may be aware, there is a severe shortage of two diabetic medicines called Ozempic (semaglutide) and Trulicity (dulaglutide) and the shortage has been very challenging for many Australians  To assist consumers and health professionals, the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) has published two web pages, providing practical information and advice about these shortages including a link to new clinical guidelines from the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP), answers to questions we have received about Ozempic and Trulicity availability and alternative treatments.

Until the end of March 2023, there will be no further supplies of Ozempic available in Australia and access to Trulicity is expected to be very limited. It is recommended that patients who are prescribed Ozempic contact their doctor immediately to have their treatment reassessed. This is especially important as we approach the Christmas holiday period and access to medical services may be limited. This information needs to go out to patients to allow enough time to access alternative treatments.

The TGA will continue to work with Novo Nordisk and Eli Lilly, pharmaceutical wholesalers and medical professional organisations to reduce the impact of this global shortage on consumers, where possible.

If you have any questions, please contact the Australian Government Department of Health’s Medicine Shortages Section on 02 6289 4646 or by email using this link.

Image sources: Ozempic – AJP.com.au and Trulicity. Photo: Bridget Murphy, Newcastle ABC News.

Sector Jobs

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: NACCHO Medicines and Pharmacy Stream at the NACCHO Members’ Conference 2022

The image in the feature tile was taken at the NACCHO Medicines and Pharmacy session at the NACCHO Members’ Conference 2022:    

Left to right: Associate Professor Faye McMillan, Deputy National Rural Health Commissioner, Chastina Heck, Chair of the NACCHO-PSA ACCHO Pharmacist Leadership Group, Rebekah Cassidy, Sanofi Head of Communications Australia and New Zealand, Bryony Forrest, recipient of the NACCHO Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Pharmacist Scholarship, Mike Stephens, NACCHO Director Medicines Policy and Programs.

NACCHO Medicines and Pharmacy Stream at the NACCHO Members’ Conference 2022

“We look at medicine programs that improve how Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people can use medications. We also deal with policies around improving access to medications and making sure that medications and pharmacy services are really accessible. We have been consulting with our Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services across the country on how they manage medicines in the clinics. They’ve asked us to provide some guidelines and support materials to improve how medicines are managed in the clinics,” said Mike Stephens, NACCHO Director of Medicines Policy and Programs at the NACCHO Member’s Conference 2022.

NACCHO Medicines and Pharmacy team hosted a session on ACCHO Medicines Management Guidelines session at the NACCHO Members’ Conference 2022 that highlighted the process involved in having access to good quality, safe, effective and affordable essential medicines for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. To view, the ACCHO Medicines Management Guidelines click here.

About the systems that support safe, effective and cost-effective use of medicines

On Day 2 of the conference, saw another session by the Medicines and Pharmacy team on ‘The IPAC project, Deadly Pharmacists and Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (PSA) Collaborations’. In that session, the presentation covered the importance of the IPAC project, the newly launched Deadly Pharmacists foundation training course co-designed with PSA, and a couple of examples of other PSA collaborations involving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and communities.  To view the presentation click here.

Deadly Pharmacists and PSA Collaboration

In this video in the link below, hear from the Medicines and Pharmacy team who highlight the work carried out for the ACCHO sector and talk about what the NACCHO Member’s Conference 2022 theme- ‘Honour the Past Prepare for the Future’, means to them. The key takeaway is how traditional medicines that trace back 60,000 years ago and past knowledge are still relevant for us now and will be in the future. Featured in the video:

  • Mike Stephens, NACCHO Director Medicines Policy and Programs
  • Alice Nugent, Pharmacist Advisor, NACCHO Medicines Policy and Programs
  • Chastina Heck, Chair of the NACCHO-PSA ACCHO Pharmacist Leadership Group
  • Associate Professor Faye McMillan, Deputy National Rural Health Commissioner
  • Bryony Forrest, the recipient of the NACCHO Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Pharmacist Scholarship, proudly supported by Sanofi.

For more information or any queries on Medicines and Pharmacy, email medicines@naccho.org.au

Developing wellbeing (trauma) informed care approaches across ACCHSs in the Kimberley region of WA

A new health research project in Kimberley aims to improve clinical responses to the experiences of adversity and trauma that many Aboriginal patients experience and the impact this has on their healthcare access and engagement.

Research Fellow Emma Carlin, from The Rural Clinical School of Western Australia and The University of Western Australia’s Medical School, is leading a partnership with the Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Services, Broome Regional Aboriginal Medical Service and the Transforming Indigenous Mental Health and Wellbeing research project, to develop and implement Wellbeing Informed Care approaches for Aboriginal Community Controlled primary health care in the Kimberley region.

The Cooperative Research Centre for Developing Northern Australia (CRCNA) is providing $955,000 to fund the project over three years. This funding is matched with significant in-kind contributions from the partner agencies.

The project will work with clinics and community to co-design and implement Wellbeing Informed Care in a place based and culturally secure way while reflecting on international and national trauma-informed care research.

At the end of the project, the partnership aims to have developed an Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Service specific approach to Wellbeing Informed Care alongside an accessible implementation guide that will be available for other interested services.

To read the full story click here.

Winnunga Nimmityjah AHCS culturally safe and accessible maternity care

Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health and Community Service’s midwifery program aims to remove barriers that prevent women from accessing maternity care by providing culturally safe, non-judgemental and flexible care, says CEO Julie Tongs.

“We focus on the clinical, cultural and spiritual needs of Aboriginal clients, families and the community and the midwifery program welcomed 68 babies into the community in 2020 and 2021,” says Ms Tongs.

“The midwifery team offers antenatal and postnatal care, community at home support, baby health checks, breastfeeding support, immunisations, and a range of women’s health services.

“Our midwives work closely with ACT hospitals, and assist in ensuring continuity of care between Winnunga Nimmityjah AHCS and hospital services”.

Ms Tongs says Winnunga also has a comprehensive child immunisation program they encourage patients to access.

“This also allows us to follow up on our patients’ progress with postpartum recovery, and to assist them with any needs in relation to caring for their infants,” says Ms Tongs.

“It is vitally important for high-risk clients to have access to Aboriginal specific, culturally appropriate midwifery services, as many choose not to access mainstream services without support.”

To read the full story on ‘Supporting Mums through pregnancy and beyond’ in CBR City News click here.

To read the latest Winnunga Nimmityjah AHCS 2021-2022 Annual Report click here.

Congratulations to Aboriginal Nurse/Midwife of the Year: Sarah-Kathleen Colliss – Nunyara Aboriginal Health, Central Coast LHD 

Nurses and midwives across NSW have been celebrated for their significant contribution to the public health system, with the winners of the 10th annual 2022 Excellence in Nursing and Midwifery Awards announced today. Health Minister Brad Hazzard and Regional Health Minister Bronnie Taylor congratulated the nurses and midwives for their outstanding commitment to providing world-class care to patients across NSW.

“These nurses and midwives deserve to be recognised for going above and beyond in their dedication to caring for patients, their families and communities every day,” Mr Hazzard said.

“I’d also like to take this opportunity to thank all of the highly skilled health staff for the excellent work they do across NSW, particularly during the past few years of the pandemic.”

The winners in each of the eight categories are:

  • Nurse of the Year: Cecilia Desousa – Liverpool Hospital, South Western Sydney LHD
  • Midwife of the Year: Kim Wood – Liverpool Hospital, South Western Sydney LHD
  • Aboriginal Nurse/Midwife of the Year: Sarah-Kathleen Colliss – Nunyara Aboriginal Health, Central Coast LHD D
  • New to Practice Nurse/Midwife of the Year: Rachael Roach – Port Macquarie Base Hospital, Mid North Coast LHD; and Stacey-Lee Cossar-Denny – Gilgandra Multi-Purpose Service, Western NSW LHD
  • Nursing/Midwifery Team of the Year: Campbelltown – Marrickville and Redfern Acute Care Service, Sydney LHD
  • Judith Meppem Leadership Award: Sonia Marshall – Director Nursing, Midwifery and Performance, South Western Sydney LHD
  • Healing Heart (colleague) Award for exceptional care: Denise Burns – Campbelltown Hospital, South Western Sydney LHD
  • Healing Heart (consumer) Award for exceptional care: Judy Boynton – Sustaining NSW Families, Illawarra Shoalhaven LHD

Chief Nursing and Midwifery Officer Jacqui Cross said the winners represent a wide range of roles performed by nurses and midwives in diverse settings across the NSW health system.

“Nurses and midwives are an integral part of our health system, providing the essential care and support people require through different stage of their life,” Ms Cross said.

“All of the finalists and winners should be proud of their achievements – they make a difference in the lives of patients every day.”

Read the full story here.

Sarah-Kathleen Colliss have been selected from nominations across eight categories that recognise nurses and midwives who have made a difference in clinical practice, management and leadership.

More First Nations Australians receiving NDIS support

First Nations Australians living with disability are accessing the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) in greater numbers, according to new data.

The latest NDIS Quarterly Report shows that of the 23,137 new participants to enter the Scheme in the quarter, 9.4 per cent (2,169) identified as First Nations peoples.

As of 30 September 2022, the NDIS was providing disability support to 40,842 First Nations participants, up from 34,378 at the same time last year – an increase of more than 18 per cent.

Minister for the NDIS, Bill Shorten, and Senator Malarndirri McCarthy are pleased to see the number of First Nations participants increase, as the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) continues to focus on ensuring First Nations peoples with disability can more easily access support.

Increasing the number of First Nations staff working at the NDIA is also a priority for the Australian Government. In the 2022 APS Census, three per cent of NDIA staff identified as First Nations people.

The NDIA’s First Nations Employee Network (FNEN) Conference was held for the first time since COVID, with Senator McCarthy as a guest speaker.

Since June 2022, the NDIA has:

  • Discussed the potential of a partnership agreement with First Peoples Disability Network Australia (FPDN) to support the NDIA in the co-design of the strategy.
  • Engaged with key internal and external stakeholders to discuss their involvement and input in the strategy co-design process.

Senator Malarndirri McCarthy said, “Having attended the NDIA’s latest First Nations Employee Network Conference, the Agency has increasing the number of First Nations NDIA staff on their agenda. The network’s conference will help the NDIA’s efforts to deliver culturally appropriate NDIS support to First Nations communities.

“I spoke directly to First Nations NDIA staff and gave the Australian Government’s overview of the NDIS and First Nations matters.

“The conference also explored the actions in their NDIA First Nations Employment and Inclusion Plan 2022-25 and what the Agency could do to bring those actions to life, including career development, recruitment and retention of First Nations peoples.”

To read the full story click here.

image of wheelchair wheel & seat overlaid with Aboriginal dot painting gold, red, blue white tones

Image source: AbSec website.

Noel Pearson proposes “A job guarantee for the Bottom Million”

In the third instalment of his thought-provoking ABC Boyer Lecture series, Noel Pearson examines the individual, community and societal structures required to empower Aboriginal communities and how a Voice will support them.

In this lecture, Pearson cites a 2017 Productivity Commission report which found three per cent of Australians were in income poverty continuously for at least the previous four years. They come from single parent families, the unemployed, people with disabilities and Indigenous Australians who were particularly likely to experience income poverty, deprivation and social exclusion.

“The Commission’s numbers are open to debate.  They are likely an underestimate. I propose this Bottom Million is caught in four traps: the trap of the natural rate of unemployment, the trap of the middle-class welfare service industries, the trap of the vice industries and the trap of voicelessness.” Pearson said.

“If a Voice is to be effective and meaningful, it must be about giving the Wik people a Voice, so that they can take better responsibility for their people. It must be about giving the Yolngu a Voice, so that they can be empowered to solve their own problems. It must be about giving the Yorta Yorta a voice. This must not be a top-down, socialist structure.”

Read the full story here.

Noel Pearson in his third ABC Boyer Lecture

Sector Jobs

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

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

 

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

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

Essential ingredients for Wellbeing Budget

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

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

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

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

SWAMS funded for major facility upgrade

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

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

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

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

Focus on better programs, services, self-determination

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

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

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

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

Speeding access to innovative medicines

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

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

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

Image source: Accestra Access Extra.

COVID-19 vax hesitancy study

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

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

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

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

Photo: Unsplash. Image source: National Indigenous Times.

Calls for Netflix ads to prioritise health

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

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

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

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

Image source: Candorium.

‘Embassy’ upholds legacy of First Nations protest

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

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

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

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

Sector Jobs

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: NACCHO Members’ Conference 2022

The image in the feature tile is a photo of Karl Briscoe, CEO of the National Association of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workers and Practitioners (NAATSIHWP) and a colleague taken at the 2022 NACCHO Members’ Conference Welcome Reception last night.

NACCHO Members’ Conference 2022

The much anticipated annual gathering of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health sector leaders from across the country at the NACCHO Members’ Conference was opened with a Welcome Reception last night. Preceding the Welcome Reception was the NACCHO Youth Conference attended by over 80 delegates. Today the NACCHO Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM) and Annual General Meeting (AGM) are being held with the NACCHO Members’ Conference beginning tomorrow. With over 500 delegates attending this year the conference brings opportunities for attendees to network, learn, influence and celebrate our ongoing drive to self-determination.

For more information about the 2022 NACCHO Members’ Conference click here.

Dr Aunty Matilda House who gave the Welcome to Country at the Welcome Reception and NACCHO staff member Kelly Edwards.

First evidence-based guidelines for ADHD

Australia’s first evidence-based clinical practice guidelines for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder are out, covering everything from identification of high-risk groups to professional training for those working with children and adults with the condition. The National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC)-endorsed guidelines are the work of the Australia ADHD Professionals Association (AADPA) – are long overdue, according to AADPA president and cognitive neuroscientist Professor Mark Bellgrove who said “It’s really important that, for a condition that affects around a million people in Australia, we have a unified bible with respect to diagnosis, treatment and support for folks with ADHD.”

The most evidence-based recommendations in the guidelines are around identification of groups with a higher prevalence of ADHD, which has a strong genetic component. These high-risk groups include people of all ages already diagnosed with neurodevelopmental disorders including autism spectrum disorder and language and learning disorders; those with anxiety, depressive or bipolar and related disorders; those who have been in prison; and those with a close family member with the condition. Children who are in out-of-home care or have been diagnosed with oppositional defiant disorder or conduct disorder, or with anxiety disorder, and adults with any mental health disorder, are also considered high-risk.

To view the Medical Republic article First evidence-based guidelines for ADHD, including a link to the NHRMC-endorsed guidelines, in full click here.

Image source: Australian ADHD Professionals Association (AADPA) website.

Orthoptic-led diabetic retinopathy screening trial

Orthoptist and Indigenous eye health coordinator in the NT’s top end, Madelaine Moore, says the lack of funding to expand existing services has led to a pilot for orthoptic-led diabetes screening clinics. The ophthalmology department at Palmerston Regional Hospital (PRH), a campus of Royal Darwin Hospital (RDH), is the eye hub for the Top End of the NT, and it caters to a large Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander demographic.

Diabetes mellitus affects 12% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in rural and remote locations and is among the leading causes of preventable blindness for this population group. Screening plays a critical role in early detection and treatment of diabetic retinopathy (DR) and it is recommended that Indigenous patients with diabetes receive an annual eye check. The average diabetes screening rates across remote communities in the Top End are 33%.

The aim of the pilot was to deliver a shorter consult and maximise the volume of patients. The pilot’s main successes include reaching asymptomatic and pre-presbyopic patients who would not self-present to optometry, no need for patients to undergo dilation, capacity building, and the short duration consult with minimal wait times reducing the number of people who ‘do not wait’.

To view the Insight article Orthoptic-led diabetic retinopathy screening in remote communities in full click here.

Image source: Diabetes & Diabetic Retinopathy in Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Populations webpage of Fred Hollows Foundation website.

Restoration of bulk billed telehealth psychiatry

The Federal Government’s announcement yesterday that it is restoring bulk billed telehealth psychiatry consultations for Australians living outside metro areas is a promising first step towards improving the accessibility and affordability of mental health services for all Australians, the peak body for psychiatrists in Australia says.

Royal Australian and NZ College of Psychiatrists (RANZCP) President, Associate Professor Vinay Lakra, said the Federal Government’s reinstatement of Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) Item 288, as promised before the election, should be seen as the beginning of wider reform to provide affordable access to psychiatry. “The removal of bulk-billed telehealth compounded existing economic inequities by burdening patients with unaffordable gap-fees and out-of-pocket costs and while affordability is still a major issue across the board, this reinstatement is a step in the right direction,” Associate Professor Lakra said.

To view the RANZCP media release Federal Government commitment to bulk billed telehealth
psychiatry consultations a step forward for rural and regional Australia in full click here.

Image source: The University of Queensland website.

Not enough mental health care workers

National mental health advocacy organisation, Lived Experience Australia (LEA), is extremely concerned by figures released in the National Care Workforce Labour Study. The report, published by the National Skills Commission, shows that there is already a gap in care services (including mental health) against demand, and that this is likely to reach almost 100,000 workers in less than 5 years’ time.

LEA has undertaken research with people with lived experience of mental ill-health, along with their families and carers, who expressed many concerns about the pressures on GPs, the workforce skills gaps, and access problems. In the Missing Middle research one carer stated: “Public [mental health] services were essentially non-existent, as result of wait times which were estimated to be between 8-12 months.”

To view the LEA media release Not enough Mental Health Care Workers for our future in full click here.

Aboriginal Health Worker Jasmine Williams. Image source: The Daily Advertiser.

Pharmacy trial risks poor health, higher costs

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) is warning that Queensland’s watered down pilot allowing pharmacists to diagnose and treat patients remains a serious risk. It comes after the Queensland Government announced it was pushing ahead with the controversial pilot, which has been widely opposed by medical groups, including the Australian Medical Association (AMA), the Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine, and NACCHO.

RACGP President Adj. Professor Karen Price said the pilot will result in poor health outcomes and must be stopped – “Enough is enough, patient safety and wellbeing must come first. We are extremely disappointed that Queensland is pushing ahead with the North Queensland Community Pharmacy Extended Scope of Practice Pilot, despite the opposition and concerns of the medical community. Not to mention the evidence showing a similar Queensland pilot allowing pharmacists to prescribe antibiotics for urinary tract infections has gone horribly wrong for many Queensland patients who were wrongly diagnosed and had serious conditions go untreated.”

To view the National Indigenous Times article RACGP: Queensland pharmacy trial risks poor health outcomes and higher costs for patients in full click here.

The AMA seconds the concerns of the RACGP issuing a media release on 14 October 2022 New Queensland pharmacy experiment puts lives at risk and does nothing to solve workforce issues available here.

Image source: RACGP newsGP.

Danila Dilba seeking CMO and Deputy CMO

Established in 1991, Danila Dilba Health Service is a community organisation providing comprehensive primary health care to Biluru (Aboriginal) communities in the Yilli Rreung (Greater Darwin) Region of the NT. They aim to improve the physical, mental, spiritual, cultural, and social wellbeing of  clients through innovative comprehensive primary health care programs and services.

If you have ever considered working for an organisation you will be proud to work for come and join an executive team that is passionate about helping close the gap in Indigenous health and wellbeing. Danila Dilba Health Service has two vacancies. In the Chief Medical Officer (CMO) role you will report to and advise the CEO, executive management team and the board on the clinical direction of Danila Dilba Health Service while providing clinical oversight to delivery, quality, and efficiency of our comprehensive primary health care services.

You will also hold accountability for clinical governance and risk and will be driven by a focus on clinical quality and safety. You will be the face of Danila Dilba from a clinical perspective and will need to form and develop strategic alliances to strengthen and influence health policy and practice, relevant to our space.

As the CMO you will have time to focus on the strategy as Danila Dilba Health Service is concurrently hiring a Deputy CMO who will focus on leading and on the ground management of GP’s in our clinics (17 FTE) and be the CMO’s connection to the workforce.  The Deputy CMO role will be 4 days per week in the non-clinical environment and 1 day per week in clinic to maintain your clinical practice and ensure you have a real picture of the context you will be advising on.

You can find the details of the Chief Medical Officer (CMO) position here and the Deputy Chief Medical Officer position here.

Applications for both positions close on Monday 24 October 2022.

Sector Jobs

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Redesigning maternity services for mob

The image in the feature tile is from the Holistic Care With No Limits – Empowering the Aboriginal Community on Darkinjung Country webpage of the Yerin Eleanor Duncan Aboriginal Health Services (Central Coast, Darkinjung Country) website.

Redesigning maternity services for mob

Earlier this week more than 250 representatives from First Nations communities, health services, universities and research institutes, came together in Mparntwe (Alice Springs) to explore the scope for system-wide reform to secure the ‘best start to life’ for First Nations babies and their families.

The 2022 Best Start to Life Conference: a national gathering in Mparntwe was co-hosted by Molly Wardagugu Research Centre, Charles Darwin University (CDU) and Central Australian Aboriginal Congress (CAAC) to improve maternity services for First Nations communities and, ultimately, reduce maternal health inequities in the NT.

The Charles Darwin Universities’s Co-Director at CDU’s Molly Wardaguga Research Centre and Indigenous Health Professor Yvette Roe, who is a Njikena Jawuru woman from the West Kimberly region, WA, who grew up in Darwin, spoke on CAAMA Radio about the challenges faced by first nations mothers, in bringing up strong healthy babies.

“Before colonisation, our babies were born on country, we were raised by our mothers, we were raised by grandmothers, we had cultural ceremony and we had a real connection to community – after 200 years of colonisation, we have babies too early, too small, that are very sick when they’re born, we have mothers that have babies that are very sick, we got a health system that is being designed by a colonised system, a system imposed on our people… and this has really had poor outcomes, especially with our women in very remote communities, but also our women in urban centres.” Professor Yvette Roe said.

To view the CAAMA article Maternity services redesigned for First Nations women, which includes a video of Professor Roe speaking about the aim of the The Best Start to Life national gathering and improving maternity and birthing outcomes for First Nations women across Australia, click here.

Improving tobacco and e-cigarette control

Five ANU researchers have been awarded more than $10.7 million from the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Investigator Grant scheme, to help tackle some of the world’s biggest medical and health challenges. Professor Emily Banks will receive more than $2.9 million to drive improved tobacco and e-cigarette control and provide new insights into cardiovascular disease prevention.

“Smoking remains Australia’s number one cause of premature death and disability,” Professor Banks said. “It is also a major cause of health inequity. Excellent progress by communities means that most Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people don’t smoke. At the same time, around half of all deaths at age 45 and over in this priority population are due to tobacco smoking.

“Australia is aiming for a tobacco-free future and is up against a predatory industry that is constantly innovating. E-cigarettes, or vaping, also present new challenges. My team and I will use this funding to generate and translate new insights to empower the next generation of tobacco and e-cigarette control and chronic disease prevention,” Professor Banks said.

To view the Canberra Weekly article Major ANU funding win to boost health for all Australians in full click here.

Photo: Mike Mozart, Flickr. Image source: Croakey Health Media.

Great oral health habits for kids

Smiles 4 Miles (an initiative of Dental Health Services Victoria – DHSV), the Healthy Eating Advisory Service (HEAS) and Ballarat Community Health are supporting early childhood services to improve children’s oral health and healthy eating habits. This work is highlighted in a new video case study (below) celebrating how Perridak Burron Early Learning, an Aboriginal community-owned education and care service, embedded these health priorities into their centre.

Tooth decay is largely preventable. However, public dental data shows that approximately one in four children aged five years and under who presented to public dental clinics in 2021–22 have a history of tooth decay and only 6% of Victorian children aged two to 17 eat the recommended serves of fruit and vegetables per day.

“We hope that Perridak Burron’s holistic, whole-of-service approach to healthy eating and oral health will inspire other early childhood education and care services to also make positive changes,” Smiles 4 Miles coordinator Demelza Diacogiorgis said. “Early childhood is a crucial stage in learning and development. Promoting health messages in simple ways enables children attending early childhood education and care settings to get a healthy start in life.”

To view the Bite magazine article Early childhood service leading the charge for great oral health habits in full click here.

New Deadly pharmacists training course

The new Deadly pharmacists foundation training course, co-designed by PSA and NACCHO, is designed to upskill pharmacists to work in ACCHOs. Lucky Zeniou MPS, Senior Pharmacist at the Institute for Urban Indigenous Health (IUIH) in Brisbane thinks the seven-module course, available on the PSA platform, will broaden career pathways for pharmacists.

Mike Stephens MPS, Director, Medicines Policy and Programs at NACCHO, said pharmacists can expect to gain a good understanding of the key concepts that underpin Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health, including the importance of self-determination and community control. ‘There are so many services ACCHOs can offer their community, and clinical care and pharmacy is just one part of that integrated care model,’ he said.

‘In some ACCHOs a pharmacist may be working alongside tobacco outreach workers, legal services, diabetes educators and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health workers all in the same location.’ For pharmacists interested in working in an ACCHO, Mr Stephens recommends undertaking the course before or as soon as they begin work in this space. ‘This course will be a great enabler for this emerging workforce to grow,’ he said. ‘We know many ACCHOs are looking for suitable pharmacists to employ.’

To view the Australian Pharmacist article Securing a job in an Aboriginal Community-Controlled Health Service in full click here.

Image source: PSA Deadly pharmacists foundation training course webpage.

Closing the digital exclusion gap

Tech for good’ organisation Hitnet has been working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people for over 20 years, but its recent move is going further to amplify Indigenous voices. Co-founder and director Julie Gibson has ceded the company, which brings information and services to close the digital exclusion gap in rural and remote communities, to Visual Dreaming, a First Nations technology platform drawing on cultural practices and storytelling to support Indigenous youth.

For Gibson, the business move acts as a symbol for the non-Indigenous community to make room for First Nations organisations in an authentic and meaningful way. “Myself and the other founders strongly believe that Hitnet needed First Nations innovation, knowledge, creativity and entrepreneurship to take it to the next level,” said Gibson. “It was actually us that approached Visual Dreaming after a national search of actively looking to transition out.”

“I think the time has well and truly come for businesses that operate in the First Nations space to have management structures to ensure there is solid First Nations representation, which is not tokenism, but genuine ownership and control.”

To view the Pro Bono Australia article How ‘yindyamarra’ informed a business acquisition in full, click here.

How to provide better safer care

The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted health and healthcare in many ways. One important issue is developing a better understanding of its impacts upon Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ experiences of healthcare. An important indicator of the quality and cultural safety of healthcare is whether Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people feel safe to remain in a service to receive healthcare, or whether they leave before healthcare is delivered or completed.

According to data recently reviewed by the Australian Commission on Safety and Healthcare, there are some grounds for concern that the pandemic has been associated with an increase or, at the very least, no improvement in leave events.

Another important question is how the pandemic has affected Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ access to care, given widespread reports of service closures, workforce shortages and systems under grave pressure. Dr Julieann Coombes and Keziah Bennett-Brook, researchers from the George Institute who conducted a systematic review informing national policy on leave events, suggest the issue deserves far more attention from policymakers, health services and providers, through efforts to address racism and improve cultural safety at all levels of the system.

To view the Croakey Health Media article How can health services provide safer, better care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people? in full click here.

Image source: CommunitySkills WA website.

Sector Jobs

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

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

Global Handwashing Day

October 15 is Global Handwashing Day, a global advocacy day dedicated to increasing awareness and understanding about the importance of handwashing with soap as an effective and affordable way to prevent diseases and save lives.

In Australia trachoma remains a major cause of avoidable blindness and as a prevention, face and hand washing are critically important. Australia is the only developed country still with high levels of trachoma, and almost all cases occur in our remote Aboriginal communities. Curtin University in partnership with West Australian Country Health Service, the Directorate of Environmental Health (WA Health) and Indigenous Eye Health (University of Melbourne) have produced a 30 second video, available here, based on Milpa’s Six Steps to Stop Germs!

For more information about Global Handwashing Day 2022 click here.

The University of Melbourne’s School of Population and Global Health webpage.

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

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

ACCHOs to deliver Integrated Team Care Program

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

COVID isolation rule change ‘too early’

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

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

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

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

AMSANT CEO John Paterson. Image source: ABC News.

AMA rejects NSW pharmacist trial

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

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

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

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

Image source: Hospital and Healthcare website.

Improving maternity services for mob

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

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

Photo: Bobbi Lockyer. Image source: ABC News.

Involuntary treatment could cause harm

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

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

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

Image source: Dreamstime website.

Access to vital blood tests in remote health

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

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

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

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

Image source: Well in Truth website.

Youth offender laws to be reviewed

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sector Jobs

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Hearing loss, a key health concern

The image in the feature tile is from a Microsoft News Centre article Hearing Australia dials up user-led innovation to support the HAPEE program in regional and outback communities published on 14 May 2021. The toddler in the image is a participant in the HAPEE program, which aims to improve the identification of ear and hearing problems in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children. Photo: Hearing Australia.

Hearing loss, a key health concern

Imagine if 43% of the children you knew had hearing loss. If children had burst eardrums, continuous glue ear, or repeated infections you would feel angry, annoyed, in despair, take to social media to demand action, and even write or visit your local MP to make it clear that “something must be done”. There would be inquiries, ministers pledging funding to address this huge number, prime ministers and the health minister would be hosting press conferences, elections could be won or lost on the outcomes of the actions.

Sadly, this 43% is the actual figure for Aboriginal children. One in two children, more in rural and remote communities, are affected by this. Neglected, overlooked, and often far from the mind of most Australians, save for small teams of audiologists and ENTs trying to address this real, life-destroying issue.

The gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians is widening. New data released by the Federal Government has revealed only four of the 17 targets under the national Closing the Gap agreement are on track to be met in the next decade.

Minister for Indigenous Australians Linda Burney said the results were both “disappointing” and “incredibly disturbing”. Child development is one of the targets in the plan, which the figures show are actually worsening — and hearing loss is a key health concern affecting so many Aboriginal children.

To read The West Australian article Jim Hungerford: Australia’s shameful inaction on Indigenous hearing loss in full click here.

Image source: Menzies School of Health Research.

ACCHO to manage Warruwi clinic

West Arnhem’s Warruwi community has taken control of primary health care in the region. The arrangement will see the Red Lily Health Board assume management of Warruwi Community Health Care, the primary health care clinic in Warruwi. The Red Lily Health board is comprised of representatives from of Warruwi and other First Nations groups, including Minjilang, Gunbalanya, Jabiru and surrounding homelands.

Welcoming the local decision making announcement, Red Lily Health Board chair Reuben Cooper said the structural change to healthcare services in the region was a positive step towards self-determination in West Arnhem. “The transition of Warruwi represents another major step for the people of West Arnhem, in having greater control over their own health and the related services,” he said.

“Red Lily has had great support from the wider ACCHO sector, including from AMSANT, Mala’la, Miwatj and the Katherine West and Sunrise Health Boards.” Mr Cooper said health service reform is necessary throughout other West Arnhem areas. “Work on the transition of the remaining West Arnhem health centres will continue to be a goal for the Board,” he said.

To read the National Indigenous News article Aboriginal healthcare management encourages self-determination in West Arnhem’s Warruwi community in full click here.

Warruwi Community Health Care has become the second West Arnhem healthcare provider to change management, with the Minjilang Primary Health Care Centre also changing to Red Lily management as of July 2021. Photo: Red Lily. Image source: National Indigenous Times.

Increased life expectancy for NT men

A recently published article highlights the improved life expectancy for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men in the NT over the past 20 years. It reflects consistent and concerted work of countless individuals and organisations that are contributing to the improved health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men in the NT, despite limited resources to do so.

One example of contributing to the positive outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men’s health in the NT is the evolution of the Darwin Men’s Inter‐Agency Network (DMIAN). DMIAN is a network of men from across the government and the non‐government organisation sector collaboratively advocating for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men in Darwin. DMIAN has enabled men’s health researchers to better understand and act on the wants and needs of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men in the community from the perspective that matters most: their own.

There is still a long way to go with improving the life expectancy of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men, which sits 15.4 years behind non‐Indigenous men. In addition, as the life expectancy of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men increases, so too does that of non‐Indigenous men. So if we are to close the gap, we cannot afford to lose momentum on targeted action, particularly that relating to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander male health and wellbeing.

To view The Medical Journal of Australia article Improved life expectancy for Indigenous and non‐Indigenous people in the Northern Territory, 1999–2018: overall and by underlying cause of death in full click here.

Photo: Emilia Terzon, 105.7 ABC Darwin. Image source: ABC News.

Growing First Nations pharmacist workforce

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are drastically underrepresented in the pharmacy profession, accounting for just 0.3% of the pharmacist workforce. This disparity impacts patients, policy and pharmacists themselves – so what must be done to address it?

For those Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples who are employed in the health sector, data show they are often paid less and in less recognised roles than their non-Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander peers. This imbalance has a direct impact on health outcomes, with studies showing that ‘Indigenous patients have identified the absence of Indigenous workers as a barrier to the availability of care’.

The reasons for the lack of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in pharmacy are manifold, says Paul Gibson, Indigenous Allied Health Australia Executive Director of Strategy and Partnerships, the peak body for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander allied health professionals. ‘There are several factors which contribute to the underrepresentation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in the profession, and within the health workforce collectively, including racism, systemic failings and the impacts of the social determinants on education, training and employment outcomes,’ he says.

To view the Australian Pharmacist article How to grow our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander pharmacist workforce in full click here.

PSA’s 2022 Pharmacist of the Year, Wiradjuri woman Professor Faye McMillan AM MPS. Image source: Australian Pharmacist.

Plan to make dental care culturally safe

First Nations cultural safety will be given priority under a new plan to overhaul Australia’s dental care curriculum. Led by University of Melbourne dental school professor Julie Satur, the new plan will ensure graduate dentists have the appropriate skills to provide culturally safe oral health care and encourage more Indigenous students into the system.

Melbourne Poche Centre for Indigenous Health Indigenous health leadership coordinator Josh Cubillo said the new curriculum would challenge students to identify bias, assumptions and racism. “Cultural safety is a spirit of practice taking into account Indigenous peoples’ strong connections to Country,” he said. “Cultural safety leads to cultural respect and a feeling of security for the patient. Acknowledging Indigenous ways of knowing, being and doing is the biggest step and this new curriculum is a start.”

Under the new curriculum all Australian dental programs will be designed to meet the specific needs of their local communities. Ms Satur said the new curriculum was overdue. “We know dental care is expensive and oral health disparities between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians are significant. We also know that poor oral health has multiple effects on other aspects of health,” she said.

To read the National Indigenous Times article Dental care overhaul to place cultural safety at forefront of industry in full click here.

Image source: Armajun Aboriginal Health Service website.

Caring for youth with type 2 diabetes

Type 2 diabetes is being seen at younger and younger ages, especially among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Early intervention is essential to avoid serious complications, but a study undertaken in Northern and Central Australia has uncovered critical gaps. Work is underway to bring healthcare providers, patients and their families together to improve models of care.

Reporter Tegan Taylor spoke to Dr Renae Kirkham from the Menzies Institute in Darwin, and Emily who was diagnosed two years ago when she was 14, about some of the issues that come up post-diagnosis.

You can access a recording of the ABC Radio National interview Caring for Indigenous youth with type 2 diabetes and a transcript by clicking here.

Image: Getty Images. Image source: ABC Rational National website.

Getting eye health back on track

While COVID-19 continues to linger in our communities, the initial upheaval caused by its outbreak in In the aftermath of the pandemic, mivision checked in on programs on home soil, to see how they have fared over the last three years, and what plans they have for getting back on track.

When the pandemic began, keeping Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people safe from the spread of COVID-19 became a main priority for Indigenous leaders and those who provide health services to remote parts of Australia. For the Fred Hollows Foundation, this meant the cessation of access to vulnerable communities for extended periods of time. This challenge greatly affected The Foundation’s work in remote communities, where over one-third of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have never had an eye exam.

“In Australia, the pandemic has widened the gap in eye health between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and other Australians, adding to the already-large backlog of surgeries needed,” Ian Wishart, CEO of The Fred Hollows Foundation, told mivision. When elective surgery re-commenced, The Foundation’s focus was on ensuring fair representation for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, to ensure they were not at the back of the cataract surgery waitlists.

To read the mivision article Getting Back on Track: Humanitarian Eye Heath Post-Pandemic in full click here.

Dr Kris Rallah-Baker assessing a patient. Photo: The Fred Hollows Foundation. Image source: National Indigenous Times.

Sector Jobs

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Palm Island cemetery one of busiest in nation

The image in the feature tile is of Palm Island cemetery. Image source: ABC News article ‘One of the busiest cemeteries in the nation’ fills up as chronic health complications linger on Palm Island, Wednesday 21 September 2022.

Palm Island cemetery one of busiest in nation

People on Palm Island cannot find room to bury their loved ones as increased deaths from suicide and chronic disease prematurely fill the island’s cemetery. Authorities are concerned people on the remote island in north Queensland missed out on essential care when healthcare workers were diverted to the COVID effort.

Palm Island Mayor Mislam Sam said it led to a rise in preventable deaths in the Indigenous community of roughly 3,000 people. “I have one of the busiest cemeteries in this nation,” he said. “Having at least 50 funerals a year, those kinds of stats are unheard of in communities of a similar size.” Mr Sam said there had been a funeral on the island near Townsville almost every week for the past two years. “When you’re constantly lining up and paying your respects, it’s taking a toll,” he said.

Like many Indigenous communities, residents on Palm Island are more than two-and-a-half times more susceptible to chronic diseases such as kidney disease, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and cancer. NACCHO senior medical advisor Jason Agostino said treatment was made harder due to severe health staff shortages. “If it’s harder to get an appointment and it’s more difficult to see people that know you … then managing your chronic disease becomes more complicated,” Dr Agostino said. “So what we’re concerned about is people won’t have chronic health concerns picked up earlier and they might have them picked up later when they’re already a bit sick.”

To view the ABC News article ‘One of the busiest cemeteries in the nation’ fills up as chronic health complications linger on Palm Island in full click here.

Gavin Congoo says the frequency of funerals on Palm Island is taking a toll on the community. Photo: Jade Toomey. ABC News.

Jalngangurru Healing in Kimberleys

On the banks of the Fitzroy River in the Kimberley’s central desert, a group of women gather. They run their hands over the knee of a patient and sing an ancient song. Their meeting is part of a program called Jalngangurru Healing — a pilot project that works with cultural healers to treat patients in the outback Kimberley. The women’s practices are slow and meditative, and among the people of Fitzroy Crossing are said to be effective.

Jalngangurru Healing was developed in 2019, and was aimed at engaging cultural healers to help patients who were complaining of ailments beyond the reach of other health providers. While some families in the Kimberley have their own private access to traditional healers, Jalngangurru tries to “bridge the gap” for those who don’t. The project was put on pause during the COVID pandemic but has recently returned in Derby and Fitzroy Crossing.

Work is also underway to develop a model on how the program can be rolled out across the Kimberley. The pilot is funded by the WA Primary Health Service and is supported by the Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Service as a part of its suicide prevention strategy. It is auspiced by the Kimberley Aboriginal Law and Culture Centre with Emama Nguda Aboriginal Corporation and is being evaluated by the Nulungu Research Institute to improve access to services like bush medicine, songs, smoking, maternal health, and palliative care.

To view the ABC News article Jalngangurru Healing links cultural healers with patients in outback Kimberley in full click here.

The women tend to aches and pains, as well as mental illlness. Photo: Andrew Seabourne. ABC Kimberley.

Gel to improve chronic would care

The pigment that gives plums, grapes and berries their deep purple hue could be a key to better health care for people living in remote Australia. That’s the focus of University of Southern Queensland student Dinuki Seneviratne’s PhD project, which involves developing gel wound dressings using the anthocyanin pigment. Ms Seneviratne is investigating using anthocyanins as pH indicators, meaning the dressings would change colour to show whether a wound is healing or deteriorating.

She said the project aims to create better chronic wound care for people in remote areas, particularly Indigenous Australians, who may live far from health services. Several Australian studies have shown First Nations people are more likely to have amputations after suffering diabetes-related chronic wounds than those who are non-Indigenous. “Chronic wound care is an area of great concern when it comes to First Nations’ health,” Ms Seneviratne told AAP. “People often can’t achieve the same type of care they would get in a metropolitan area. I want to make a hydrogel dressing that is effective in healing and preventing chronic wounds and is self-applicable, so there’s no worry about coming into a clinic.”

To view the Bendigo Advertiser article Purple patch to help remote health care in full click here.

Uni student Dinuki Seneviratne wants to improve chronic wound care for people in remote areas. Image source: Bendigo Advertiser.

Our Vision in Our Hands

The Indigenous Eye Health Unit at University of Melbourne refreshed its Advistory Board this year to have majority Indigenous membership chaired by the esteemed human rights leader Pat Anderson AO, who is an Alyawarre woman. It is one step in a move towards Indigenous leadership throughout the organisation. Another significant shift saw the establishment of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Conference Leadership Group that led the organisation and development of the 2022 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Eye Health Conference.

This year’s conference saw a significant shift, with the establishment of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Conference Leadership Group (CLG). This transition should be seen in the wider context of the long, ongoing journey to expand Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leadership and self-determination into eye care. This shift in leadership is strongly reflected in this year’s theme, Our Vision in Our Hands, set by the CLG, which represents Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leadership and ownership of eye health.

This year’s theme is significant as it shows in clear and plain terms the centrality of self-determination to any effort to improve eye care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians. Moreover, this year’s theme is written from an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspective for the first time, which also indicates the internal shift in the leadership of the conference, to the all-Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander CLG.

To view the Croakey Health Media article Our Vision in Our Hands: eye health conference highlights shift to First Nations leadership in full click here.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are three times more likely to suffer blindness than the general population. Image source: The Senior.

Mob invited to speak about medicines

NPS MedicineWise are inviting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to speak about medicines. This will inform the MedicineInsight system and tools that doctors and some ACCHOs can use to improve medicines use.

NPS would like to invite you to help them know what they need for these tools. Once they have made some new tools, they would like to ask you whether they should change them. This will mean online meetings to talk about what they should do. These meetings will happen between September and November.

Your comments will help improve the tools and ensure that they reflect the point of view of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community. The resources will be used for MedicineInsight and published online.

For attending the meetings NPS can give you a gift voucher of $50 per meeting, up to $200.

To express your interest in taking part in this project contact Shannon Barnes, MedicineInsight Program Governance Officer, using this email link.

You can find out more about MedicineInsight by clicking here and here.

Image source: The Senior.

Scholarships for women in health sector

Women & Leadership Australia is dedicated to supporting women leaders to achieve their leadership potential, and they are pleased to be able to offer scholarships of up to $5,000 for women working in the Health Sector. When it comes to career advancement, for many women, gender inequity is still a barrier. More than 8 in 10 of women leaders surveyed by Women & Leadership Australia were concerned about dealing with gender bias in the workplace, and more than 7 in 10 were concerned about their limited opportunities for promotion.

By supporting more women to step into leadership positions, Women & Leadership Australia hope to improve opportunities for women in the workplace. They have programs designed for women with limited leadership experience through to executive leaders and scholarships are available across four key levels.

You can access more information about the scholarship here and APPLY for a scholarship here.

Participants in Indigenous leadership course ACU. Image source: ACU website.

National Birthing on Country Conference

The Best Start To Life: a national gathering is an initiative of the Molly Wardaguga Research Centre and the Central Australian Aboriginal Congress. First Nations women, community advocates, scholars, researchers, health service providers and clinicians will attend the conference from Monday 10 to Wednesday 12 October 2022 to reflect on the achievements and challenges of returning maternity and childbirth services to First Nations communities.

It follows on from the first Birthing on Country meeting, held in Mparntwe (Alice Springs) 10 years ago, where the Australian Maternity Services Inter-jurisdictional Committee, in collaboration with the Central Australian Aboriginal Congress (CAAC), held the first national workshop to progress Australian Government commitment to Birthing on Country.

The conference provides an opportunity for delegates from across Australia to showcase new research and ideas, and to network and invest in a shared vision to address inequities in birthing services for First Nations mothers and babies.

For more information about the conference click here.

Image from the Best Start to Life: a national gathering website.

Sector Jobs

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

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

World Alzheimer’s Day

Today is World Alzheimer’s day.

Alzheimer’s is a progressive disease that impairs memory and other mental function. It is the most common form of dementia that causes memory loss and loss of cognitive abilities causing difficulties with daily life. Raising awareness for individuals with Alzheimer’s and their families is an important part of the work done by Alzheimer’s charities all over the world.

You can access Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People and Dementia: A Review of the Research – A Report for Alzheimer’s Australia, Paper 41 October 2014, by Professor Leon Flicker and Kristen Holdsworth here.

For more information about Alzheimer’s disease click here. and for more information about world Alzheimer’s Day click here.