NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: St Vincent’s Hospital transforms delivery of care

feature tile text 'St Vincent's Hospital transforms delivery of care for Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander people'; image of a empty gurney being pulled through hospital emergency foyer

St Vincent’s Hospital transforms delivery of care

In the latest episode of the Australian Healthcare and Hospital’s Association (AHHA) podcast, The Health Advocate, AHHA Strategic Programs Director, Dr Chris Bourke, speaks with St Vincent’s Health Network Sydney, Emergency Department Director, Dr Paul Preisz and Aboriginal Health Manager, Scott Daley, to discuss how St Vincent’s Health Network Sydney has improved health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients. While the hospital’s staff knew there was a problem in the Emergency Department with the delivery of care and the outcomes, for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients, NSW Health data highlighting the unacceptable treatment rates for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients was the final straw. This promoted a mandate from executives to improve results.

‘St Vincent’s work in improving health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients is a great example of how organisations can transform the delivery of care and offers many lessons for other organisations wanting to follow a similar path,’ said Dr Bourke.

You can view the AHHA press release here and listen to the podcast here.

St Vincent's Hospital Sydney Aboriginal Health Manager Scott Daley sitting at hospital bed of 49-year-old Aboriginal male patient

Aboriginal Health Manager Scott Daley with a patient in St Vincent’s Hospital Emergency Department. Image source: ABC News website.

Wirraka Maya leads way in better patient management

An Aboriginal community health service in WA has produced record results in the use of technology to ensure better connected care for local patients. Senior Medical Officer at Wirraka Maya Health Service in Port Hedland, WA, Dr Yolande Knight said: “We rely on My Health Record to keep us updated on patient pathology, imaging, medication, dispensing and history records. “We find it helpful because a lot of our patients are transient, moving from one region to another, so it can be difficult to get their comprehensive files.  We can see what other doctors have requested and performed, overcoming the delays waiting for records requested from other practices and providers.” Australian Digital Health Agency Consumer Advocate, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Champion and Co-Chair of the Agency’s Reconciliation Working Group and national Medicines Safety Program, Steve Renouf, congratulated Wirraka Maya for its commitment to digital health.

To view the media release click here.logo 'Wirraka Maya Health Service Aboriginal Corporation' circle fish, goanna, blue ochre

Building a more robust medicine supply

The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) is seeking feedback on proposals to help ensure ongoing, reliable supply of important medicines.

Medicine shortages have been of particular concern during the COVID-19 pandemic and the TGA have been reviewing ways in which they can better assist affected Australian patients and their healthcare providers. Specifically, the TGA is seeking feedback on possible reforms that would:

  • prioritise the evaluation and registration process for certain important generic prescription medicines, to reduce the risk of shortages
  • encourage registration of more generic versions of medicines known to be affected by shortages, to mitigate the impact of those shortages
  • support a more reliable supply of overseas-registered medicines imported into Australia as substitutes when the Australian medicine is in longstanding or repeated shortage.

The TGA’s Consultation paper – Building a more robust medicine supply gives further details about proposed mechanisms to prevent and mitigate medicine shortages. For further details about the public consultation and to access the online survey click here.

The consultation will close on Monday 17 May 2021.

multiple coloured pills in a pile on grey glass surface & plastic pill bottle on side with yellow tablets spilling out

Image source: Newsbook website.

Resources for First Peoples with Disability

A range of new accessible, culturally appropriate resources for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with disability have been released by the peak body First Peoples Disability Network (FPDN).

“Our community urgently needs information about the vaccine, so we have created a poster with culturally relevant information and artwork to let people know about what is happening and why,” said Damian Griffis, CEO of FPDN.

“During the pandemic, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with disability found it hard to get the right information about what was happening, and it looks like those lessons haven’t been learnt when it comes to the vaccine roll out.”

To view FPDN’s media release click here and to download FPDN’s resources click here.text 'Get the COVID Jab and help keep our mob safe First Peoples Disability Network Australia' drawing of syringe, 9 virsus cells & one large circles with Aboriginal art in orange with meeting symbols

Gaps in Aboriginal aged care project

Little is known about how older Aboriginal adults access and engage with aged care services. A project has been initiated by the Port Augusta Community to address gaps in Aboriginal aged care and research is being conducted for the broader Aboriginal Eyre Peninsula Communities in partnership with the Adelaide Rural Clinical School Aboriginal research unit.

The lead researcher Kym Thomas, from Port Augusta, is an Aboriginal person, providing and ensuring that spirit and integrity are at the forefront of all community and stakeholder engagement and activities. Communities involved in the research include Port Augusta, Port Lincoln, Ceduna and Whyalla. Kym has been supported in his work by Associate Professor Pascale Dettwiller and Emma Richards.

To read the full article click here.

photo of Associate Professor Pascale Dettwiller & Kym Thomas standing either side of Yadu Health Aboriginal Corporation banner

Associate Professor Pascale Dettwiller & Kym Thomas. Image source: Partyline website.

Disadvantaged neighbourhoods can shape adolescent brains

Growing up in a poor or disadvantaged neighbourhood can affect the way adolescents’ brains function, according to new research. It can alter the communication between brain regions involved in planning, goal-setting and self-reflection. These brain changes can have consequences for cognitive function and wellbeing. But the good news is that positive home and school environments can mitigate some of these negative effects.

A “disadvantaged neighbourhood” is one in which people generally have lower levels of income, employment, and education. Growing up in these conditions can cause stress for children, and is associated with cognitive problems and mental health issues in young people.

It is not yet known exactly how this link between neighbourhood disadvantage and poor mental outcomes works, but it is thought that social disadvantage alters the way young people’s brains develop.

To view the story in full click here.

vector of brain wrapped in yellow tape with text 'UNDER CONSTRUCTION'

Image source: Momentous Institute website.

Better cardiac care measures report

The fifth national report on the 21 Better Cardiac Care measures for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, with updated data available for 15 measures. The level of access for cardiac-related health services is improving for Indigenous Australians. While the mortality rate from cardiac conditions is falling among the Indigenous population, it is still higher than among non-Indigenous Australians. The incidence of acute rheumatic fever among Indigenous Australians continues to be much higher than in non-Indigenous Australians.

To view the report click here.

 Indigenous Pride Heart Studs Flag: Aboriginal Torres Strait Island One of each Flag

Image source: Haus of Dizzy website.

Mental health challenges & disability

The prevalence of mental health issues is higher in people with a disability than in the general population. This means that often, a person who has both a physical, intellectual or neurological disability is also dealing with mental health challenges.  There can be complexities in distinguishing mental health issues from intellectual or neurological disability and this can lead to mental health challenges not being recognised or identified.  Participants will explore concepts of recovery, trauma and strength- based approaches to working with people with complex needs. They will use a recovery and biopsychosocial approach to meet their client’s needs.

Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Services (KAMS) are promoting a training course being delivered by the WA Association for Mental Health. For more details click here.

young Aboriginal man sitting on a headland looking out to sea

Image source: SBS News website.

Vaccinations being in regional SA AHS

Indigenous health workers in Mount Gambier have been among the first in SA to receive the AstraZeneca vaccine in Phase 1b of the national roll-out. 10 staff at Pangula Mannamurna Aboriginal Corporation were selected to receive the vaccine on Monday this week.

Outreach worker Catherine Bulner was the first of the group to roll up her sleeve and get the jab. She said she felt privileged to be the first South East Indigenous community member to get vaccinated. “I’m pretty fortunate to have it done in an Aboriginal community-controlled health service. “I think it’s really good that we can instil confidence in our community to get it done to protect not only ourselves, but our family and our community.”

Ms Bulner encouraged others to do the same to allow life to return to normal. “It’s unknown, but there’s plenty of information out there that can tell you all about it, if you need to make an informed decision before,” she said. “It’s not mandatory, but arm yourself with the information I did and you will be really confident to get it.” Transport worker Peter Brennan was also vaccinated and said it would provide him with a lot more confidence when conducting his work duties.

To view the full article click here.

Indigenous transport worker Peter Brennan receiving COVID-19 vaccine

Indigenous transport worker Peter Brenna. Image source: ABC News website.

Keeping the momentum on eye health equity

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander eye health sector entered 2020 with high hopes. The equity gap was still evident in measures of access to services and outcomes, but there was a continued positive trajectory towards the gap for vision being closed, with a strong sector driving change through collaborations on regional and state levels. 2020 was a target year for the elimination of trachoma, as well as to achieve equity and close the gap for vision.

The COVID-19 pandemic impacted the work of the sector in a number of ways. Many communities closed or reduced non-urgent visiting services, suspensions to elective surgery and reductions in permitted surgical loads and lockdowns in different parts of Australia to stop outbreaks, while necessary, meant that the already-existing waitlists for eye care became longer. The stronger impact on public hospitals, for example through lower caps on elective surgeries compared with private, has a disproportionate impact on population groups with the stronger reliance on the public system.

The impact on the sector’s work also includes the interruption to the positive momentum of change. Across Australia, regional and state-level groups of stakeholders involved with the provision of eye care services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples have been driving improvements in pathways and outcomes. The community-controlled sector has been key in leading this change.

To view the full article click here.

person dressed as Milp the trachoma goanna at AFL game in Alice Springs surrounded by Aboriginal children

Milpa the trachoma goanna supporting ‘Clean Faces, Strong Eyes’ health promotion messaging at an AFL game in Alice Springs NT. Image source: Partyline.

WA – Broome – University of WA

Research Fellow x 1 FT (Fixed Term) – Broome

The University of WA are seeking a skilled health researcher to conduct statistical analysis of real world health services data from current and future projects. This position will be based in the Kimberley where Rural Clinical School of WA (RCSWA) sites conduct collaborative research with health services into improving Aboriginal health and building research capacity. Under limited directions from Principal Research Fellow, Associate Professor Julia Marley and in close collaboration with the Kimberley Medical Services, you will provide impetus and capacity to research initiatives in the Kimberley region of WA.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander researchers are encouraged to apply.

To view the job advertisement, including the Position Description click here position descriptions and to apply click here. Applications close Monday 16 April 2021.Uni of WA & Rural Clinical School of WA logos

World Health Day 2021 – Building a fairer, healthier world

April 7 of each year marks the celebration of World Health Day. From its inception at the First Health Assembly in 1948 and since taking effect in 1950, the celebration has aimed to create awareness of a specific health theme to highlight a priority area of concern for the World Health Organization.

Over the past 50 years this has brought to light important health issues such as mental health, maternal and child care, and climate change. The celebration is marked by activities which extend beyond the day itself and serves as an opportunity to focus worldwide attention on these important aspects of global health.

To celebrate World Health Day the Australian Global Health Alliance is hosting a special online event where a line-up or expert guest speakers will share their reflections on this year’s theme ‘Building a fairer, healthier world’.

For more information about the event from12:00–1:00 PM AEST Wednesday 7 April 2021 and to register click here.

banner text 'World Health Day April 7, pink wooden wall with stethoscope around plasticine world in blue & green

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: COVID-19 vaccine rollout starts today

feature tile Mon 22.2.21 text 'Australia's keenly awated COVID-19 vaccine rollout has officially begun', gloved hand with syringe in vial

COVID-19 vaccine rollout starts today

Australia’s keenly awaited COVID vaccine rollout has officially begun, with Prime Minister Scott Morrison among a select group to receive the first jabs in a televised event yesterday. Most of us will be waiting a while yet — the rollout of the Pfizer vaccine to front-line health and quarantine workers and aged-care staff officially begins today. The government has set a deadline of October to vaccinate all adults in Australia, mostly with the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine.

To view Coronavirus updates LIVE: COVID vaccine rollout begins throughout Australia as Scott Morrison, CMO Paul Kelly receive shot click here.

NSW frontline health workers receives COVID-19 Vaccination aa the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital Vaccination Hub

NSW frontline health and emergency workers are amongst the first in NSW to get the Covid-19 vaccination at the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital Vaccination Hub. Image source: The Sydney Morning Herald.

Birthing on country can reduce stillbirth

In Australia, there are six stillbirths to every 1000 births per year. Among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women, the death toll is more than twice as high, with 13 in every 1000. Allowing women to give birth within their communities could help reduce the stillbirth rate among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mothers, but even culturally safe pregnancy care can help.

For 30 years, the Waminda’s Minga and Gudjara (mother and child) clinic on the South Coast of NSW has provided just that. It’s a busy clinic, according to midwife Mel Briggs. The Gumbanyngirr and Dharawl woman says it helps provide vital continuity of care for mothers throughout their pregnancy, birth, and through the child’s infancy. “It creates really good outcomes for the women, their babies and their families,” she said.

To view the article in full click here.

portrait of Mel Briggs, Waminda midwife against Aboriginal painting of silhouette of hands in a circle surrounded by Aboriginal circles in dots

Mel Briggs said supporting birthing on country practices would lead to better outcomes for mothers and babies. Image source: Brisbane Times.

Long overdue decriminalisation of public drunkenness 

The Victorian Parliament has joined almost every other Australian state in decriminalising public drunkenness. The move comes decades after it was first recommended by the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody, and will allow for public drunkenness to be treated as a health issue rather than a crime in Victoria. The family of  Yorta Yorta woman Tanya Day who in 2017 died in police custody after being arrested for public drunkenness, have called it an historic day that was “tinged with much heartache and sadness”.

In a statement released through the Human Rights Law Centre, the Day family praised the move but said the work isn’t finished. The Day family said “It has been a long road for us to get to this point and it is devastating to know that if these racist laws were abolished 30 years ago, our Mum and others would still be with us today. Our lives will never be the same, but we move forward together to continue to seek justice for our mother. While this reform is a step in the right direction, the Andrews Government must now back their words with action and work with Aboriginal communities to implement a culturally safe and best practice public health response ahead of their deadline. This includes outreach services, more training for first responders and the implementation of sobering up services.”

To access the National Indigenous Times article in full click here and to view the Victorian State Government’s media release regarding the new legislation click here.

Tanya Day's family & supporters taking part in a smoking ceremony ahead of the 2019 inquest into her death in custody, 3 men & a woman holding portrait photo of Tanya Day

Tanya Day’s family and supporters taking part in a smoking ceremony ahead of the 2019 inquest into her death. Image source: The Age.

Ochre Ribbon keeps spotlight on family violence

February 12 marked the beginning of Ochre Ribbon Week, a week dedicated to ending domestic and family violence against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and children. Now in its sixth year, Ochre Ribbon Week was established in Melbourne as an initiative of the National Family Violence Prevention and Legal Service, which comprised of 14 Aboriginal family violence services across Australia.

One of the leading voices in the Ochre Ribbon Week campaign is Djirra CEO Antionette Baybrook. Djirra works with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and children in Victoria to prevent and eliminate domestic and family violence. “It’s always important to keep in the front and centre of people’s minds, that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women are 34 times more likely to be hospitalised because of family violence and we are 10 times more likely to die [from family violence],” said Braybrook. “Violence against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women is a national emergency.”

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

banner I support Ochre Ribbon Week End family violence against Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander women & children. don't silence the violence, portrait of Djirra CEO Antionette Braybrook

Djirra CEO Antionette Braybrook. Image source: National Indigenous Times.

Psychiatrists essential in suicide prevention

At a time of increasing public interest and government focus on the reduction of suicide, the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists (RANZCP) taskforce on suicide prevention has released a new position statement. The new statement, Suicide prevention – the role of psychiatry, acknowledges suicide is complex but there is substantial evidence regarding clinical and social measures which can help to prevent suicide. RANZCP President, Associate Professor, John Allan, explained that the taskforce has brought together leading psychiatrists across Australia and NZ in the field of suicide prevention, along with people with lived experience. “Suicide is one of the most troubling and difficult aspects of the work we do as psychiatrists. There is no simple answer to why someone has taken or wishes to take their life.”

To view the RANZCP’s media release click here.

Aboriginal man with head in hands

Image source: ABC News website.

Safe effective free vaccines for all

Federal Regional Health Minister, Mark Coulton, said the Australian Government is committed to providing safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines free to everyone in Australia – no matter where they live. “We are ready to roll out COVID-19 vaccines with hundreds of distribution points nationwide,” Minister Coulton said. “Further sites will be finalised in the coming weeks and will include rural, regional and remote based GP-led Respiratory Clinics, GPs, community pharmacies, state and territory vaccination clinics and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community-Controlled Health Organisation clinics. The Government’s call out to GPs and community pharmacies will strengthen the rollout and will allow people living in regional, rural and remote communities to access COVID-19 vaccinations side by side with the rest of the nation.”

To view Minister Coulton’s media release click here.

safe effective free vaccines Department of Health banner orange tick in white circle, blue background, circles with vector image of different people's heads, text ' safe effective free

Image source: Australian Government Department of Health.

COVID-19 vaccinations to be registered

Amendments to the Australian Immunisation Register Act 2015, make it mandatory for vaccination providers to report vaccinations administered to the Australian Immunisation Register and prescribe the relevant vaccines to be reported. The legislation details the data elements vaccination providers must report and the time period and manner data must be reported in. To view the legislation click here and to access the explanatory statement regarding the Australian Immunisation Register Act 2015 – Australian Immunisation Register Amendment (Reporting) Rules 2021 click here.

gloved hand holding bottle of vaccine, writing with ungloved hand

Image source: BBC News.

Pharmacists respond to COVID-19 vaccine challenge

Australia’s pharmacists are responding to the Federal Government’s call to assist in the COVID-19 vaccination program, with 1,000 pharmacists registering and more than 700 attending a Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (PSA) webinar session in preparation for involvement in Phase 1 and 2 of the vaccination rollout. The webinar – which included senior government officials leading the COVID-19 vaccination plan joining PSA President, Associate Professor Chris Freeman – provided information on the Commonwealth program, the role of pharmacists in Phase 1, the final call for Phase 2 Expressions of Interest to administer the vaccine through community pharmacy, and training and education to deliver the vaccine.

Associate Professor Freeman said the response from pharmacists to the webinar session had shown the high levels of interest and support for the COVID vaccine rollout. “Pharmacists are well placed to assist in this program and the attendance at last night’s PSA webinar clearly demonstrates the commitment of our members and desire to ensure we understand the protocols and get the right training to deliver these vaccines safely.”

To the media statement in full click here.

vaccine bottle with text 'CORONAVIRUS COVID-19 Vaccine Injection only' on bench

Image source: PYMNTS.com.

Health updates to keep your mob safe

The Australian Government Department of Health has released an update for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander households, communities and organisations regarding the COVID-19 vaccine roll out. To access the COVID-19 vaccines update click here and to view COVID-19 vaccination communication materials tailored to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples click here.

banner of pink, aqua, mustard, light blue coloured Aboriginal dot art, text 'February 2021, Health Updates, Health updates to keep your mob safe'

Image source: Australian Government.

Navajo Nation’s successful vaccine rollout

The Navajo Nation has been one of the hardest-hit populations in the U.S. when it comes to COVID-19 — at one point reporting the country’s highest number of cases per capita. To date, the Navajo Department of Health reports more than 1,000 confirmed deaths from COVID-19. But a bright spot has emerged: The COVID vaccine rollout in the Navajo Nation has been highly successful, already surpassing its original goal to have administered 100,000 shots by the end of February. It’s an impressive number, given that there are an estimated 175,000 people living in the Navajo Nation.

This is a far cry from the grim situation the Navajo Nation found itself in at the start of the pandemic last year. By May, CNN reported that the Navajo Nation — which spans 27,000 square miles and borders Arizona, New Mexico and Utah, making it the largest reservation in the country — had “surpassed New York state for the highest COVID-19 infection rate in the U.S.” In August, Dr. Robert Redfield, then the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said that “American Indian and Alaska Native people have suffered a disproportionate burden of COVID-19 illness during the pandemic.”

To view the article in full click here.

female staff member of Northern Navajo Medical Centre receiving COVID-19 vaccine, 3 other staff in background, one taking a photo

Medical staff at the Northern Navajo Medical Center in Shiprock, N.M., were among the first in the Navajo Nation to receive their Pfizer-BioNTech vaccinations, on Dec. 15. Image source: yahoo!life website.

Incarceration leads to further disadvantage

Keenan Mundine grew up in the Aboriginal community social housing called The Block, infamous for poor living conditions, alcohol and drug use, and violence, in Sydney’s Redfern suburb. At the age of about seven, soon after losing his parents to drugs and suicide, he was separated from his siblings and placed in kinship care. “I felt robbed of my childhood. I didn’t feel safe and it made me struggle with my living conditions and mental health. I couldn’t concentrate at school and got into lot of trouble. I spent sleepless nights contemplating what my situation would be if my parents were still alive. At the age of 14, I ended up on the streets and tried to work my way around it.” 

To view the article in full click here.

Keenan Mundine in sleeveless t-shirt standing outside The Block

Keenan Mundine outside The Block, an Aboriginal community social housing area where he grew up. Image source: Neena Bhandari, Inter Press Service.

NSW – Dubbo – Bila Muuji Aboriginal Corporation Health Service

CEO Bila Muuji Aboriginal Corporation Health Service x 1 FT – Dubbo

A position is available as a Chief Executive Officer (CEO) with Bila Muuji Regional Aboriginal Health Service based in Dubbo. The CEO will plan, lead and direct the Bila Muuji Regional Aboriginal Health Service Inc to ensure the efficient and effective coordination and collaboration of provision of high quality health services to the Aboriginal communities within the region.

To view position description and to apply click here. Applications close 5:00 PM Friday 5 March 2021.Bila Muuji Aboriginal Corporation Health Service logo, Aboriginal dot art, track centre circle, black, brown, green & purpose colours

International Family Drug Support Day – 24 February

After his son Damien died of a drug-related overdose, Tony Trimingham began community work in relation to alcohol and other drugs and founded the Australian charity Family Drug Support. Trimingham brought about International Family Drug Support Day which commenced in 2016 and is held on annually on 24 February, the date of his son’s death. The day has now become an annual international event to highlight the need for families to not only be recognised and heard but to be supported and encouraged to speak about their concerns and their needs. For further information click here.grey background with names of drugs, 3 couples, male & female e.g. dad & daughter with arms around the other, text 'support the family - improve the outcome, Family Drug Support Day. let's talk in speech bubble

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: HAPEE Ears for Early Years campaign

Emma Donovan with sitting on a mat with her arms around her young daughter

HAPEE Ears for Early Years campaign

One in three Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children experience chronic ear disease in Australia. Luke Carroll (Actor and Playschool Presenter) and Emma Donovan (Musician), who are both parents, have joined the Hearing Australia campaign to help promote the importance of HAPEE Ears For Early Years.

Hearing Australia’s ongoing ‘Hearing Assessment Program – Early Ears’ or HAPEE, is a result of a $30 million investment by the Australian Government to reduce the long term effects of ear disease in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children. All Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children not yet attending full time school are eligible for a free hearing check, and this service is now available across the country, as the program has expanded to care for more communities in urban, regional and metro areas.

Gumbaynggirr, Dhungatti, Yamatji and Bibbulman woman, Emma Donovan is urging other parents and carers to have their children’s ears checked regularly. Emma’s youngest child’s hearing loss was detected early. Wiradjuri man, acclaimed actor and father, Luke Carroll, has a similar message for parents and carers,
“I think it’s extremely important for kids to get their hearing checked. It helps with their speech and their growth as a young person.

To view Hearing Australia’s press release click here.

Emma Donovan with daughter Jirriga & Luke Carroll with son Enzo

Emma Donovan with daughter Jirriga & Luke Carroll with son Enzo. Image source: Hearing Australia.

Ophthalmologists call for Voice to Parliament

The Fred Hollows Foundation, the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Ophthalmologists (RANZCO), and Australia’s first Aboriginal ophthalmologist Associate Professor Kris Rallah-Baker have joined forces to call for a First Nations Voice to Parliament enshrined in the Constitution. The call supports From the Heart’s Week of Action to promote the Uluru Statement from the Heart and advocate for a constitutionally enshrined Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples’ Voice to Parliament.

“As a Nation, Australia is far behind other former British colonies in addressing issues that remain as a consequence of the dispossession and occupation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples, which began on 26th January 1788 and has not yet ended,” Associate Professor Rallah-Baker said. “These issues affect us all today and are not a dark and distant memory – they affect the very fibre of who we are as a Nation. Without appropriate address we can never truly decolonise and heal the scars that haunt our collective psyche. The Uluru Statement from the Heart lays out a sensible and collaborative pathway required to move forwards and make Australia truly a place of the ‘fair go’.”

To view the full article click here.

Dr Kris Rallah-Baker (Yuggera & Biri-Gubba-Juru/Yuggera man, first Indigenous ophthalmologist). (Fred Hollows Foundation) in scrubs, holding eye medical machine over Aboriginal man lying on hospital bed

Dr Kris Rallah-Baker, a Yuggera & Biri-Gubba-Juru/Yuggera man, became Australia’s first Indigenous ophthalmologist. Image source: Fred Hollows Foundation.

Pharmacists integral to health outcomes

The Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (PSA) has called on the Federal Government to implement four strategic measures in its 2021–22 Budget Submission that will enable pharmacists to significantly improve health outcomes for Australians. Among the PSA recommendations for the 2021–22 Federal Budget is a rebate for non-medical health professionals, such as pharmacists, for their attendance at case conferences (this will foster better collaboration and enhanced safe and quality use of medicine outcomes for patients), the establishment of a digital nationally coordinated pharmacovigilance system for primary care and funding of pharmacists within Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services.

PSA National President Associate Professor Freeman said these recommendations provide an opportunity for the government to take action to reduce medicine-related harm and utilise the skills of pharmacists to improve health outcomes for Australians. “Pharmacists are approachable, knowledgeable and highly trusted within the community and the Australian public want to see the skills of pharmacists put to full use,” he said.

To view the full article click here.

part of flat surface entirely covered with multiple coloured pills

Image source: riverbender.com.

Pharmacists urged to assist with vaccine rollout

The Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (PSA) is urging pharmacists to join Australia’s fight against COVID-19 by taking up the Federal Government’s call to assist in rolling out the COVID-19 vaccination program to the community. Community pharmacists will join with other healthcare professionals such as GPs to administer the COVID-19 vaccine for the community from Phase 2 of the Commonwealth’s COVID strategy.

The PSA is encouraging pharmacists to respond to the Government’s Expression of Interest (EOI) to be trained and equipped to assist in vaccinating Australians against the coronavirus. “COVID-19 has dramatically changed our lives and pharmacists have supported our community on the frontline – I am confident community pharmacists will step up to join Australia’s vaccination workforce, just as they have done throughout the coronavirus pandemic,” PSA National President Associate Professor Freeman said.

To view the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia’s media release click here. and to view the related Minister for Health and Aged Care’s media release click here.

gloved hand with vaccine drawing from a vial

Image source: Pharmacy Magazine.

Find Cancer Early campaign

Published Australian research shows that people living in regional Australia are 20–30%  more likely to die within five years of a cancer diagnosis than people living in metropolitan areas. Previous research in WA shows regional people present at the GP at a later stage because they are less aware of cancer symptoms, more optimistic, more laid back, less willing to seek help and sometimes make excuses for not seeking help, therefore resulting in later stage cancer diagnoses.

Cancer Council WA have launched a new mass media campaign, Regional Champions, through their Find Cancer Early program to highlight some of the lesser known symptoms of cancer to motivate regional West Australians to seek medical advice earlier. Putting off seeing your doctor, clinic nurse or Aboriginal health worker could be costly. 62-year-old Derek Chapman from Donnybrook, one of six regional champions featured in the campaign said “When you’re out here you can’t muck around. Stop making excuses for symptoms.”

The campaign began on Sunday 31 January appearing on regional and Aboriginal television stations across WA as well as regional and Aboriginal radio stations, regional newspapers, Facebook and YouTube.

To view the full article click here.

array of pamphlet, fact sheet & brochure Find Cancer Early symptom checklist resources

Image source: Cancer Council WA website.

First-of-its-kind gambling project

A recently launched first-of-its-kind program will help reduce gambling harm in Indigenous communities across NSW by creating a safe space online. The Talking About Gambling (TAG) project will be community driven and has been designed by experts at NSW Aboriginal Safe Gambling Service and The Australian National University (ANU), along with other research partners. According to Dr Megan Whitty, gambling is often referred to as the “hidden addiction” in Indigenous communities. But starting an open and honest discussion can help break down some of the stigma so communities can identify if gambling is a problem, and how it could be addressed.

To read the ANU media release about this project click here.

playing cards in red dust

Image source: ABC News website.

NCSR Cervical Program survey

PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) on behalf of the Commonwealth Department of Health (DoH) is conducting an independent review of the performance and operation of the National Cancer Screening Register (NCSR) in relation to the Cervical Program. The scope of the current review does not include the Bowel Program which may be included in a future review.

DoH is seeking your support for this review by completing this survey and forwarding it to your members for their completion. You can access a letter from Andrew Gately, Assistant Secretary, National Cancer Screening Register Branch with further information about the review by clicking here.

PwC is conducting this survey via Qualtrics. Your participation in this survey is voluntary. The survey should take approximately 10–15 minutes to complete.

Please provide your responses by 5 February 2021.

Please follow this link to participate in the NCSR Review Survey.

7 droppers suspended over test tubes, bright pink against navy background

Image source: The University of Sydney website.

Mental illness far higher in bush

For Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people that reside in rural Australia, the risk factors associated with remote living are perpetuated by intergenerational trauma and unaddressed socioeconomic deprivation. As a result, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples aged 12–24 years on average are three times as likely to be hospitalised with a mental health illness than non-Indigenous young people of the same age.

Mental health-related services, where they do exist, predominantly rely on locum professionals that work on a varying, fly-in-fly-out basis. The irregularity of these services contributes to low community participation, voiding citizens of the stable and consistent support required to address mental health issues. In 2016–17, 81 in every 1,000 people in remote areas accessed Medicare-funded mental health services, compared to 495 per 1,000 people in major cities.

To view the Independent Australia article in full click here.

drone photo of outback, sparse green vegetation

Image source: Triple J Hack podcast website.

Poor mental health an incarceration risk

Nationally, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people are 18 times more likely to be in custody and 17 times more likely to be on a community based supervision order than non-Indigenous young people. Successive reports over decades have shown troubling rates of incarceration among young Indigenous people.

A Productivity Commission report on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander wellbeing released in December 2020 found that while most Indigenous people had never been in jail, they faced more risk factors that made it more likely, including unemployment, low socioeconomic status and poor mental health.

To view the full article click here. A related article argues that waiting for solutions to youth incarceration is a choice by government to invest in hurting kids and making communities less safe in the meantime – to read this article in The Guardian click here.

silhouette of person in jail, sitting with head in hands

Image source: The Conversation website.

Beyond Blue supports healing and unity 

Beyond Blue supports the Uluru Statement from the Heart and have said they will continue to play our part in supporting Aboriginal social and emotional wellbeing by listening to First Nations people, advocating for culturally appropriate policies and services led by them, and encouraging action to address racism and Close the Gap. Beyond Blue says they want to see institutional and intergenerational disadvantage meaningfully addressed.

To view the full article, including a traditional Ngangkari healing story click here.

rear view of heads of two Aboriginal women, one looking sideways at the other, set against blurred background of green street foliage

Image source: Beyond Blue website.

Virtual care survey

What has been your organisation’s experience of virtual care?

With a view to producing a report based on the results, Telstra Health is conducting a survey to understand the different organisational experiences of virtual care, particularly since the pandemic. For example, perhaps you’ve recently increased the number and range of virtual care services provided but you don’t know what to do next to maintain them. No matter your organisation’s situation, the team at Telstra Health wants to hear from you! They will explore how to support Australian healthcare providers with delivering effective and efficient virtual care solutions.

Join the conversation and complete the short survey to help shape the future of virtual care.

Survey closes on Friday 12 February 2021. telstra logo, words Health, Take the Survey against background of fibre web and blank speech bubbles

Telehealth booming

Telehealth consultations with GPs are booming among urban and rural patients since the Government introduced temporary Medicare Benefit Scheme (MBS) support in March last year – and authors of a new report analysing GP visits at 800 practices across Australia argue the MBS changes should be permanent.

Professor Andrew Georgiou and his co-authors found that phone consultations with GPs in NSW and Victoria climbed from zero during 2019 to more than 138,000 per week between January and September 2020. Despite the restrictions of the COVID-19 pandemic, the researchers found that people consulted GPs more often from January to September 2020, than they did in the same period in 2019. “We think much of that is because people could access telehealth,” said Georgiou, from Macquarie University’s Centre for Health Systems and Safety Research.

To view the full Croakey article click here.

female health professional & male health professional conducting telehealth consultation

Image source: PHN Murray website.

Indigenous Social Health Atlas of Australia

Since its establishment with funding from the Australian Government in 1999, the Public Health Information Development Unit (PHIDU) has been committed to providing information on a broad range of health and other determinants across the lifespan. Located at Torrens University Australia since November 2015, PHIDU’s emphasis continues to be on the publication of small area statistics for monitoring inequality in health and wellbeing and supporting opportunities to improve population health outcomes.

Since 2008, PHIDU has offered free online access to a comprehensive range of current (and some historical) data at national, jurisdictional, regional and small area levels for Australia. Socioeconomic and geographical variations in health are highlighted in interactive atlases and graphs, and supported by data tables and metadata. This web-based source of data on health and its determinants is unique in Australia, and has been acknowledged internationally by agencies such as the World Health Organization. To access the Indigenous Social Health Atlas of Australia click here.

screenshot of male Aboriginal male population data from PHIDU Indigenous Social Health Atlas of Australia

Image source: Indigenous Social Health Atlas of Australia website.

Support for COVID-19 vaccine ads in language

The Puntukurnu Aboriginal Medical Service (PAMS) in the East Pilbara region services thousands of Martu and Nyiyaparli people who will be among the early recipients of the vaccine when it rolls out in coming weeks. The WA Government, which is working with the Commonwealth on the rollout, said that vulnerable patient cohorts such as people in Aboriginal communities would receive the vaccine early after frontline workers in health care, quarantine facilities, and airports.

To view the article in full click here.

drone photo of the new PAMS clinic in Newman

The new PAMS clinic in Newman services thousands of mainly Martu and Nyiyaparli people. Image source: ABC News website.

VIC – Rumbalara Aboriginal Co-operative Ltd

Rumbalara is one of the largest providers of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island health services in Victoria. Rumbalara currently have a number of vacancies within their Health & Wellbeing services area and their Justice & Community services area. Their Health & Wellbeing services provide community members with a full range of services to help address general health issues such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, poor diet and nutritional health, eye health, ear health, contagious diseases, drug and alcohol related issues, mental health and emotional and spiritual wellbeing. Rumbalara’s Justice & Community Services have two vacancies based at its Shepparton office.

Mooroopa
Health Promotion Coordinator x 1 FT
Aboriginal Health Practitioner/Aboriginal Health Worker x 1 FT
Nurse – Lead Chronic Care Coordinator x 1 FT

Shepparton
Aboriginal Family Violence Team Leader x 1 FT
Aboriginal Family Violence Practitioner x 1 FT

To view position descriptions for the jobs based in Mooroopna click here and for those in Shepparton click here.

Applications close Tuesday 9 February 2021.

National Condom Day – Sunday 14 February

The countdown has well and truly begun, with only 12 days until on National Condom Day and NACCHO is running a fun contest to drive awareness around safe sex and condoms.

Watch this video by Her Rules Her Game Kimberly Aboriginal Medical Services Council for some great inspiration, then unleash your creativity and submit a PHOTO/VIDEO showing your best condom hack and/or send us your BEST SLOGAN on using condoms to protect against sexually transmitted infections.

Email your entries to nacchonews@naccho.org.au with the subject line “Condom hacks & slogans” by Wednesday 10 February 2021.

You can also upload your creations on your social media pages. Make sure to tag us so we can keep sharing your cool posts.

We have some AMAZING PRIZES from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander sporting teams and businesses for the top entries:

  • a signed NRL Indigenous All Stars football. PRICELESS!
  • $200 gift card for Saretta Art & Design
  • $200 gift card for Yilay

    collage Indigenous Allstars football, Yilay Apparel Distributors 4 men's ties, each with a different Aboriginal dot painting design, Aboriginal hand with silver ring feeling texture of Aboriginal sand painting Saretta Art and Design

    Image sources L-R: Bulldogs website; Facebook pages for Yilay Apparel Distributor & Saretta Art & Design.

Come on! Let’s have some fun – but keep it tasteful.

This is an opportunity to share your creativity with your mob!

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: progressing the Australia Day debate

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

Progressing the Australia Day debate

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

To view the full transcript of the interview click here.

Aboriginal people with large banner National Day of Mourning 26 January

Image source: Teach Indigenous Knowledge.

COVID-19 patient identification and racism

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

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

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

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

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

Measuring self-reported racism in healthcare

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

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

To view the paper in full click here.

Image source: The Royal Melbourne Hospital website.

Confronting Australia’s collective racism

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

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

To view the Croakey article in full click here.

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

Image source: The Conversation.

Australia slammed for age of criminal responsibility 

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

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

To view the article in full click here.

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

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

Mobilising a COVID-19 vaccine workforce

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

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

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

Image source: startsat60. website.

Biggest mass vaccination program begins

vaccine Coronavirus production line

Image source: European Pharmaceutical Review website.

GPs united on vaccine rollout

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

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

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

vaccine lying on top of a mask on at bench

Image source: AMA website.

General practices sought for rollout

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

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

doctor's arm taking blood pressure of Aboriginal woman

Image source: Australian GP Alliance website.

Pandemic compounds hardship for PWD

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

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

To read the Croakey article in full click here.

wheelchair image overlaid on Aboriginal dot painting

Image source: AbSec website.

Kelvin Kong’s pandemic reflections

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

To read a transcript of the interview click here.

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

Dr Kelvin Kong. Image source: University of Newcastle.

First Aboriginal dermatologist

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

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

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

photo of Dana Slape against outback grassland setting

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

Smoking kills half of those 45+

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

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

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

elderly Aboriginal man smoking

Image source: The Conversation.

Pharmacy students inform WRAP toolkit

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

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

For further details about the research article click here.

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

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

SNAICC appoints new CEO

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

To view SNAICC’s media release click here.

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

Catherine Liddle. Image source: radioinfo website.

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

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

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

Child protection system sets PWD up to fail

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

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

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

To view the full article click here.

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

Image source: The Guardian.

Infectious skin diseases researcher awarded

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

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

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

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

Image source: RHD Action.

Parents fear child services

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

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

To view the full article click here.

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

Image source: SBS NITV website.

Increased clinical trial access for regional Australia

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

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

To view the article in full click here.

health professional at desk conducting telehealth session

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

Lung cancer signs free webinar

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

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

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

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

doctor's hand pointing to x-ray of lung

Image source: SBS News website.

Good Medicine Better Health resources survey

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

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

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

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

Image source: NPS MedicineWise.

Native millet could change lives

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

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

To view the full article click here.

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

Image source: The University of Sydney website.

NT  Darwin and Palmerston region – Danila Dilba Health Service

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mental health system needs more than band-aids

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

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

To view the full croakey article click here.

both hands over a face

Image source: UNSW Newsroom – UNSW Sydney.

Community-led rural health workforce model

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

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

To view the full article click here.

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

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

White Ribbon Day is just the start

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

The Journey to Recovery

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

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

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

To access the Journey to Recovery publication click here.

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

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

Cervical screening complacency

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

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

To view the full article click here.

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

Image source: World Health Organisation Twitter.

National Homeless Collective founder wins award

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

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

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

Liverpool Hospital launches antenatal clinic

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

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

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

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

Game changer for youth mental health

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

To view the full report click here.

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

Image source: Clinical Excellence Queensland website.

Health key to life satisfaction

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

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

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

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

Image source: Australian Geographic.

Identity and culture key to healing

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

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

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

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

Image source: The Healing Foundation.

National Medicines Symposium 2020

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

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

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

Australian comedian Tim Ferguson. Image source: Serious Comedy.

Diabetes Education and Management Scholarship

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

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

coloured clay figure with internal organs displayed

Image source: Diabetes Victoria.

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

Manager-Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Research

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

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

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

external image of the Kirby Institute UNSW

Image source: UNSW Sydney.

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

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

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

Pharmacy Guild promotes NAIDOC Week

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dr Charles Perkins AO Memorial Oration

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

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

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

University of Sydney Facebook    

University of Sydney YouTube

ABC Indigenous Facebook

ABC Sydney Facebook

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

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

Professor Milroy wins mental health prize

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

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

To view the full article click here.

portrait photo of Professor Helen Milroy, background is an office

Image source: The University of Western Australian.

Jimmy Little Foundation supports remote health care

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

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

To read the full article click here.

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

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

Football has power to improve health

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

To read the full article click here.

Aboriginal boy in football uniform kneeling on soccer ball

Image source: Moriarty Foundation website.

48 hour follow up initiative supports recovery

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

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

health worker with middle-aged Aboriginal man in home setting

Image source: GP Synergy website.

Tresillian Mobile2U helps get babies to sleep

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

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

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

Aboriginal baby sleeping

Image source: News Of The Area website.

Voluntary Indigenous Identifier Framework survey

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

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

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

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

young Aboriginal woman portrait photo, green foliage in the background

Image source: VincentCare website.

ADHA aims to make health care more equitable

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

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

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

Image source: Australian Government ADHA website.

Funding for improved use of data collections

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

To view the media release click here.

Aboriginal dot painting of map of Australia

Image source: Open Forum website.

Unaddressed trauma plays role in present pain

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

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

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

portrait shot Fiona Petersen CEO The Healing Foundation

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

NSW Aboriginal Deputy Children’s Guardian appointed

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

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

Portrait shot of Richard Weston against greenery of a garden

Richard Weston. Image source: @INDIGENOUSX website.

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

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

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

Partnering with ACCHOs key to tackling health disparity

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

To view the full article click here.

Weigelli Centre Aboriginal Corporation metal sign

Image source: Aboriginal Medical Research Council of NSW website.

Record high vaccination rates

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

To view the media release  click here.

NSW $7.4m for new National CTG Agreement

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

To view the media release click here.

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

Image source: Wellington Aboriginal Corporation Health Service.

Better hospital healthcare free webinar

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

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

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

To register for the free webinar click here.

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

Image source: Creative Spirits website.

Changing the future of heart health

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

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

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

National health campaign: How’s Your Head Today? 

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

To view the media release click here.

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

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

Stars Foundation program for young women

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

To view the full article click here.

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

Image source: Stars Foundation Facebook page.

Community pharmacies critical role during disasters

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

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

To view the full article click here.

male and female Aboriginal people with pharmacy sign

Image source: The Conversation.

Lung cancer symptoms

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

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

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

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

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

Culturally secure community services funding

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

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

To view the media release click here.

Aboriginal painting of a head with footprints across the head

Image source: NSW Governement SafeWork website.

CTG education target will improve health

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

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

To view the full article click here.

11 Aboriginal graduates Cooktown Townsville

Image source: The Bouverie Centre.

Housing and health linked

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

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

To view the full article click here.

Aboriginal art from APY lands SA showing poor living environment

Image source: Health Habitat Housing for health website.

Medicines Australia-NACCHO Committee seeks representatives 

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

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

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

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

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

range of multi-coloured pills

Image source: Australian Journal of Pharmacy website.

NSW – Taree – Biripi Aboriginal Corporation Medical Centre

Aged Care Manager

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Cultural approach tackles mental health shame

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

Cultural approach tackles mental health shame

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

To view the full article click here.

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

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

Program aims to improve medication access

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

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

To read the article in full click here.

Aboriginal hand holding different coloured pills

Image source: Australian Pharmacist website.

New support for NSW people impacted by suicide

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

To view the media release  click here.

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

Image source: SBS NITV website.

Become a SOCKSTAR for kidney health

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

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

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

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

ABS health surveys – have your say

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

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

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

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

Research centre targets regional Victorian health disadvantage

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

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

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

Image source: magiqsoftware website.

Calls for action on NT mental health neglect

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

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

Aboriginal hands holding

Image source: St Vincent de Paul Society website.

Cashless Debit Card to be made permanent

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

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

Aboriginal hands holding the cashless debit card

Image source: The Morning Bulletin.

HealthInfoNet has new sexual health portal

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

To access the new sexual health portal click here.

two pairs of legs sticking out from under a doona

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

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

feature tile - Aboriginal hands in pharmacy clicking iPad

‘Game-changer’ e-prescriptions are coming

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

feature tile - Aboriginal hands in pharmacy clicking iPad

Image source: Australian Pharmacist.

Electronic prescription roll out expanded

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

To view the full PULSE+IT article click here.

image of hand with phone held to scanning machine

Image source: PULSE+IT website.

Lack of physical activity requires national strategy

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

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

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

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

Image source: The Conversation.

KAMS CEO appointed to WA FHRI Fund Advisory Council

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

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

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

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

PLUM and HATS help save kids hearing

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

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

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

young Aboriginal child having his ear checked by health professional

Image source: The Wire website.

Illawarra Aboriginal Corporation receives research grant

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

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

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

portrait shot of Professor Kathleen Clapham University of Wollongong

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

LGBQTISB suicide prevention

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

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

Dead quiet to award winner in only two years

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

To view the full article click here.

Practice Manager Olivia Tassone standing in front of Spartan building

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

Tackling Indigenous Smoking with Prof Tom Calma

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

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

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

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