NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: COVID-19 outbreak in Cherbourg defies odds

feature tile text 'Cherbourg's well-managed COVID-19 outbreak a model for other ATSI communities' & clinic reception desk Cherbourg

Note: image in feature tile by Jon Daley, ABC Southern Queensland.

COVID-19 outbreak in Cherbourg defies odds

The Aboriginal town of Cherbourg, 250 kilometres north-west of Brisbane, is seemingly defying the odds against the highly contagious Omicron variant. When the first case of the virus was detected on 29 December 2021, authorities feared a rapid spread and high numbers of hospitalisations due to the vulnerable population and comparatively low vaccination rates.

Almost a month later, just two people have been hospitalised and both have since recovered. The daily case numbers in the town are also already slowing. Cherbourg Aboriginal Community Council chief executive Chatur Zala said the town seems to have dodged a bullet. “We have managed the situation very well, which could have gone very badly,” he said.

To read the ABC News article in full click here

Cherbourg Mayor Elvie Sandow at meeting

Cherbourg mayor Elvie Sandow says the community has responded well to health advice. Photo: Jon Daly, ABC Southern Queensland. Image source: ABC News website.

Concerns overcrowding escalating outbreaks

Mayors representing Far North Queensland’s Indigenous communities have raised concerns that overcrowded housing has fuelled COVID outbreaks.

Australia’s biggest Indigenous community, Yarrabah, has amassed about 270 cases in less than a fortnight and 160 households are in quarantine. Some Yarrabah houses are home to as many as 20 people from up to three family groups.

Further north across Cape York and the Torres Strait there are 280 active cases and reports of families testing positive in homes shared with as many as a dozen adults.

North Peninsula Area Regional Council Mayor Patricia Yusia is pleading with visitors to test negative before arriving because of a shortage of quarantine space if they test positive while in the region.

To read the ABC News article in full click here.

Yarrabah Mayor Ross Andrews sitting at his desk

Yarrabah Mayor Ross Andrews says overcrowding is a “recipe” for the spread of COVID. Photo: Mark Rigby, ABC Far North. Image source: ABC News.

Helping mob to stop vaping webinar

NACCHO is again partnering with the TGA and RACGP to deliver a follow-up webinar on the legislative changes affecting access to nicotine vaping products and what the changes might mean for our communities and ACCHOs.

Professor Renee Bittoun from the University of Notre Dame and Avondale University, together with Ms Alice Nugent, ACCHO pharmacist and member of the NACCHO Medicines Advisory Team, will present:

  • An approach to vaping cessation and supporting clients who are dual users
  • Key issues related to vaping in young people including NRT options to consider
  • Validated tools and resources available for assessment and cessation support

The webinar will conclude with a 20-minute Q&A session.

This event attracts 2 CPD points.

The webinar will be held from 12:30–1:30PM (AEDT) on Thursday 27 January 2022. You can register your interest via this link.

If you have any specific questions about vaping you’d like addressed at this webinar please forward them to this email address.

hand of person with vape & smoke

Image source: The Guardian.

NPS MedicineWise seeks consumer rep

NPS MedicineWise is an independent and not-for-profit organisation. Our mission is to achieve better health outcomes for all Australians by promoting safe and wise use of medicines and medical tests.

NPS MedicineWise is looking for a consumer representative to join their Clinical Intervention Advisory Group (CIAG). The CIAG helps select, design, deliver and review NPS MedicineWise programs, resources and services for health professionals and consumers.

The  Group currently consists of 15 members, including consumer representatives, health professional representatives, researchers and representatives from stakeholder organisations.

For more information please see the Terms of Reference (which can be found in the application form).  You can also email Raelene Simpson here or Rawa Osman here. To apply, please complete the application form here. Applications close Tuesday 1 February 2022.

text NPS MEDICINEWISE' on purple background - logo

Indigenous art to promote oral health

As part of an overall commitment to improving the oral health of all Australians, the Australian Dental Association is expanding the range of oral health resources available to assist health professionals, which includes culturally appropriate oral health resources for First Nations peoples for which original Indigenous artwork has been commissioned.

The artwork (below), which is being used on the the new Indigenous Oral health web page, will assist in the development and promotion of First Nations oral health resources, which it is planned will expand in range over 2022 as the ADA works with dental and non-dental organisations to create material that can be used in dental and medical practices.

The artwork was created by professional illustrator and animator Ty Waigana, a proud Noongar and Saibaigal (Torres Strait) man, who was the NAIDOC poster artist for 2020 and is currently exhibiting at the Art Gallery of WA. The artist has also worked on projects for Australian National University, Australian Electoral Commission and the Queensland Child and Family Commission.

You can read the ADA article on a new Indigenous artwork designed to assist in the development and promotion of First Nations oral health resources here.

artwork by Ty Waigani, light blue, green, golden yellow, aqua teeth shapes in row

Artwork by Ty Waigaini. Image source: ADA website.

HOT NORTH Antimicrobial Academy course 

The HOT NORTH Antimicrobial Academy is a 9-month program for 12 Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander health care workers (pharmacists, doctors, nurses or Aboriginal Health Practitioners embedded in clinical care in the north) interested in upskilling in antibiotic use, audit, stewardship, surveillance, and resistance.

Candidate nominations to participate will come from interested health care organisations who support the candidate to develop skills and implement change in their organisation.

The training will include skills in how to:

  1. Perform antimicrobial stewardship audits;
  2. Use surveillance skills to collect, understand and utilise antimicrobial resistance data;
  3. Advocated for antibiotic resistance issues affecting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to policy makers and the National AMR Strategy.

You can obtain further details and the Application Form at the HOT NORTH website here. Submissions close Monday 31 January 2022. Please email here or call (07) 3646 1886 for further informationbanner text 'HOT NORTH Antimicrobial Academy 2022]; vector image of Aust top half layers of green, light orange shades

Art competition closing date extended

The caring@home Indigenous Art Competition closing date has been extended to Friday 25 February 2022. All other details of the competition remain the same as previously advertised.

The online entry form, terms and conditions and more information is available at the caring@home project website here. To view the flyer for the caring@home Indigenous Art Competition click here.

Aboriginal woman holding cuppa, green foliage in background; caring@home ATSI logo

New process for job advertising

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Torres and Cape COVID-19 response

feature tile text 'quick collaborative response to Torres and Cape COVID-19 outbreaks' & image of omicron virus cell

Torres and Cape COVID-19 response

COVD-19 has reached most Torres and Cape communities in far north Queensland. As of Thursday 20 January 2022 there were 279 active cases in the region. This has Torres Strait Regional Council Mayor Phillemon Mosby highly concerned.

Torres and Cape Hospital and Health Service Executive Director of Medical Services Dr Marlow Coates said while there is understandable concern as cases emerge, the community is banding together well to combat the spread.

“A lot of our planning is centred on partnering with local organisations, councils, elected leaders, non-government organisations in the region, Aboriginal medical services and outreach providers to ensure we’re providing as much broad support as possible,” he said.

“When coronavirus is (first) detected in communities… there are the understandable concerns that it’s finally arrived in that region. But it triggers a quick escalation and collaboration and togetherness from all of those agencies to support.”

To view the SBS NITV article in full click here.

view of Torres Strait Island from a plane

COVID-19 has reached the northernmost tip of Queensland, including the Torres Strait. Image source: SBS NITV website.

Fitzroy Valley needs dedicated rehab centre

An Indigenous alcohol and drug specialist says the Fitzroy Valley needs a dedicated rehabilitation centre and locally-based counsellors to put an end to problem drinking in communities.

Rene Dingo, Indigenous AOD Specialist/Collaborative Coordinator at Gurama Yani U, says that the alcohol bans that have been in place for up to 14 years “have taken away the how and the where but they have not addressed the why” behind drinking.

“Putting blanket restrictions across the whole of the Kimberley on its own – you have to do something to address people’s issues and their trauma and why they want to drink alcohol. You have to put support in place,” he said.

“Many people are talking about the need for a rehabilitation facility here. There is one in Broome and one in Wyndham,” Dingo said. “We need local counsellors for local people during and following their time in rehabilitation and there needs to be transitional housing, supported by alcohol and drug workers, to integrate people back into the community.”

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

Fitzroy Crossing wooden bridge, river

Fitzroy Crossing. Image source: National Indigenous Times.

IMeRSe public consultation underway

Consideration for the funding of the Integrating Improved Medication Management for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders Feasibility Study (IMeRSe Feasibility Study) goes before the Medical Services Advisory Committee (MSAC) in March 2022.

The public summary document for Indigenous Medication Review Service (IMeRSe) is available here and NACCHO would like to invite you to make a submission on behalf of your ACCHO in support of funding for a culturally responsive Indigenous Medication Review service, delivered by community pharmacists integrated with local Aboriginal Health Services as proposed in the IMeRSe study.

Submissions can be made on the provided ‘survey’ form on the above link or by direct email.

If you need help to interpret public documents or have other questions, please contact the NACCHO IMeRSe team using this email link.

multiple tablet & capsule blister packs, multiple colours

Image source: Healthline.

TGA vaping ban and Aboriginal health

Academic and Indigenous commentator Dr Anthony Dillon has encouraged Australian politicians and their ‘experts’ to do “more thinking and less talking.”

One thing that he believes certainly deserves “more thinking” is the recently introduced ban on nicotine-infused ‘vape juice’ for use in electronic cigarettes. That ban affects all Australians keen to shed their addictions to traditional cigarettes via the vaping substitute, and it hits Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander smokers, among the nation’s heaviest cigarette smokers, hardest of all.

To view the Quadrant article in full click here.

row of vapes

Image source: GPNews.

Victorian Aboriginal suicide rate jumps

Victoria’s Indigenous suicide rate jumped by more than half in the past year, a report from the Coroners Court has found, with young people and those in regional areas most at risk.

Deaths by suicide of Indigenous people living in Victoria have been steadily increasing since 2018, with around two thirds of deaths among men and one third women. In 2021, there were 35 Indigenous deaths by suicide in the state, up on 20 the year before. The jump represents a 75% increase in just one year. The report notes that even though the sample size is small, the increase is still statistically significant as a portion of the population.

“Suicide is complex and has many layers,” the manager of the Coroner’s Court Koori Engagement Unit Troy Williamson wrote in the report. “It is vital that barriers to seeking support are dismantled and culturally competent practices are put in place to save lives.” He said the increase in suicide deaths of Aboriginal Victorians was a “heartbreaking reminder of the systemic inequalities our communities face and this report needs to be used to drive change for our people.”

To view the ABC News article in full click here.

back of mourners at funeral, one with Aboriginal flag draped over shoulders

Image source: SBS NITV website.

Remote PHC Manuals January 2022 update

Review and updating of the Remote Primary Health Care Manuals (RPHCM) continues. The most recent RPHCM update advises: 30% of all protocols have finished the primary review and are now ready for secondary review; and 70% of protocols are in the updating stage with progress towards finalisation of protocols.

While secondary reviews are due to commence in March 2022 may need to be delayed dependent on the COVID situation, there is adequate time to allow for delay.

To view the RPHCM January 2022 update click here.

Safe, reliable water supply needed for NT

The Northern Land Council (NLC) is calling on the NT government to bring its water management system into the twenty-first century and in line with its commitments to Aboriginal Territorians.

NLC Chair Samuel Bush-Blanasi said the government’s directions paper for a Strategic Water Plan for the next 28 years – until 2050 – does not go far enough to protect precious water resources for future generations. “What we need is a new approach of integrated land and water management across the Territory with a series of local stakeholder committees.”

Mr Bush-Blanasi said “We repeat our call – that we’ve been making for years – for government to make sure safe and reliable drinking water is available to all Territorians, including those living in remote communities where the water supply often isn’t fit for purpose. Substandard water quality and water infrastructure is unacceptable in this day and age and we call on the government to make improved water infrastructure and quality for Aboriginal Territorians a priority, not an afterthought.”

To view the NLC media release in full click here.

Aboriginal hand held under running tap in NT outback

Photo: Isabella Higgins. Image source: ABC News.

New process for job advertising

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: APO NT calls for urgent COVID-19 action

feature tile text 'urgent support from Commonwealth Government needed in face of NT COVID-19 crisis' & photo of Aboriginal man being tested in Katherine

Note: the image in the feature tile is of COVID-19 testing in Katherine, NT. Image source: The Canberra Times.

APO NT calls for urgent COVID-19 action

Aboriginal Peak Organisations NT (APO NT) has called for urgent Commonwealth Government support in the face of a growing emergency in the COVID-19 response in the NT.

“Despite a lot of hard work and good collaboration on the part of government and Aboriginal community sector organisations, the haste towards living with COVID is pushing the health system, Aboriginal community service organisations and the communities they serve to the brink”, APO NT spokesperson, John Paterson said.

“We need urgent direct support from the Commonwealth Government. The multiple outbreaks we are now seeing in remote communities and in our towns have been fuelled by a critical shortage of workforce, testing and logistical capacity that is overwhelming local health services and exhausted staff, leading to rapid, avoidable spread of the virus”.

“Critical shortages in availability of Rapid Antigen Tests (RATs) is leaving Aboriginal health and community service organisations with insufficient capacity to test their own staff, let alone the needs of the community members they serve. The result is that infected individuals are not being identified and are spreading the virus undetected.”

To read the APO NT media release in full click here.

AMSANT CEO John Paterson wearing a covid-19 mask

John Paterson, CEO AMSANT/Chairperson APO NT. Image source: ABC News.

Calls for military help on NT outbreaks

APO NT Spokesman John Paterson said there are not enough health workers on the ground, and local health centre staff are exhausted and at breaking point. NT virus response teams are also struggling to transport and isolate infected people, who are “being left to isolate in overcrowded and inadequate accommodation”.

Mr Paterson said the labour shortage had slowed the remote vaccination rollout in communities with ACCHOs. A surge workforce is urgently needed to deal with the current crisis,” he said while raising concern over “a looming food security crisis” due to supply chain issues. This is the time, when the essential elements of the COVID response are faltering, to enlist the direct support of the Commonwealth and defence force,” he said.

To view The Canberra Times article in full click here.

back of 3 uniformed military staff in PPE walking in remote community

Image source: The Canberra Times.

Useful COVID-19 readiness resources

The Queensland Aboriginal and Islander Health Council (QAIHC) and the Queensland Government have produced a number of useful COVID-19 readiness resources. Although some of the information contained in the documents below are Queensland-specific, the information is useful across all jurisdictions.

front of QAIHC COVID-19 Readiness Family Plan document - Aboriginal family at table with paper & pens

NDIS COVID-19 vax access support continues

Minister for the NDIS Senator the Hon Linda Reynolds CSC has announced support for National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) participants to access the COVID-19 vaccination and boosters will continue into 2022.

The National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) has a temporary pricing arrangement in place, for eligible providers to support participants to get their two doses of the COVID-19 vaccination.

This support for the first two doses will be extended to the end of March. An additional $75 payment is now available for eligible providers to support participants to get their COVID-19 vaccine booster.

The COVID-19 booster support will be backdated to 8 November, and available to 30 June 2022. “Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the health and wellbeing of NDIS participants has been our utmost priority, and this extension ensures eligible participants will continue to be supported to get the COVID-19 vaccination,” Minister Reynolds said.

To view the Minister Reynolds’ media release in full click here and for more information, click on the NDIS coronavirus page here.

vax being drawn from vial

Image source: The Guardian.

Pharmacists embedded into ACCHOs

Consideration for the funding of the Integrating Pharmacists in Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services to Improve Chronic Disease management (IPAC project) goes before the Medical Services Advisory Committee (MSAC) in March 2022.

The public summary document for IPAC is available here and NACCHO would like to invite you to make a submission on behalf of your ACCHO in support of funding for pharmacists in ACCHOs as per the model proposed in the IPAC project.

Submissions can be made on the provided ‘survey’ form on the above link or by direct email. If you require help to interpret public documents or if you have other questions, please contact the NACCHO IPAC team using this email link.

Aboriginal hand reaching for pharmacy supplies from plastic draw

Image source: Danila Dilba Health Service (NT) website.

Tangentyere Youth Development Model

Young people living on Alice Springs Town Camps will be supported through a new multifaceted Youth Development Model designed by Tangentyere Council Aboriginal Corporation.

Tangentyere CEO Walter Shaw said Town Campers had identified the need for a program model that supported young people to have safe, healthy lives and make positive choices about their futures. “Culture is key to our youth development model,” Mr Shaw said “We know that practising cultural activities increases the wellness of all Aboriginal people, including young people. Culture is fundamental is each of the four elements of the model and is incorporated into each activity
and program.”

To view the Tangentyere Council’s media release click here and to access the model click here.

NT Minister for Town Camps and Remote Housing Chansey Paech, Tangentyere vice president Benedict Stephens, Tangentyere CEO Walter Shaw and Territory Families Minister Kate Worden

NT Minister for Town Camps and Remote Housing Chansey Paech, Tangentyere vice president Benedict Stephens, Tangentyere CEO Walter Shaw and Territory Families Minister Kate Worden announcing the Youth Development Model,  Thursday 16 December 2021.

Cervical cancer conference invites abstracts

The NHMRC Centre for Research Excellence in Cervical Cancer Control is inviting abstract submissions for the Preventing Cervical Cancer 2022 Hybrid Conference (PCC2022), a hybrid face-to-face and virtual event from 23–25 March 2022.

This is a great opportunity to present and discuss your findings with other researchers in the field and contribute towards the elimination of cervical cancer. Abstracts can be submitted for selected presentation as a pre-recorded oral or virtual poster.

The abstract deadline is Friday 28 January 2022 and you can submit an abstract here.

aqua banner text 'preventing cervical cancer 2022 - hybrid conference 23-25 March 2022' photo of 3 women with arms around each other

New process for job advertising

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Concerns over growing COVID-19 cases

feature tile text 'concerns over growing covid case numbers in ATSI communities' & photo of Dr Jason Agostino standing in front of NACCHO banner

Concerns over growing COVID-19 cases

Distance and isolation are no longer providing a barrier to the spread of the virus in remote Indigenous communities, including in Yarrabah and on Palm Island in Queensland, which has now set up a temporary morgue.

Meanwhile, two towns in East Arnhem Land in the NT have been sent into lockdown in a bid to try and slow the spread amongst vulnerable populations there.

Dr Jason Agostino, GP and epidemiologist with the ANU and NACCHO Medical Advisor spoke with spoke with Cathy Van Extel on ABC RN Breakfast earlier today about the growing number of COVID-19 case numbers in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

You can listen to the radio interview by clicking on this link.

Dr Jason Agostino ABC radio interview tile

Dr Jason Agostino, Medical Advisor, NACCHO.

In a related news item on the ABC 7.30 Report (at 00:49:11) Dr Jason Agostino talks about how as state and territory borders reopen remote Indigenous communities face a situation they’ve long been dreading. Omicron is putting vaccination rates and health systems to the test as the virus infiltrates the far reaches of Queensland and the NT.

You can watch the news item in full here.

Indigenous COVID-19 response failure

Poor planning by state and federal governments is to blame for the significant lag in Indigenous COVID-19 vaccination rates nationwide, say researchers.

The University of NSW team said the substandard preparation, combined with mixed messaging on vaccines, have led to a shortage of trained workers to put jabs in arms and vaccine hesitancy in vulnerable communities.

“This substantial policy oversight reflects a failure of moral human rights responsibility for Australian First Nations people,” say the authors of the paper published in Jama Health Forum.

Planning, strategy and prevention work undertaken by NACCHO and ACCHOs around the country had also been undermined by the failed response.

To view the NITV article in full click here.

young ATSI woman get covid-19 vax in outdoor clinic, 3 children looking on

Image source: NITV.

Breaching the Indigenous vax gap

Wiradjuri man and RACGP Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Faculty Chair Professor O’Mara says tailored messaging and outreach programs are vital for closing the gap in vaccination rates between mainstream and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander COVID-19 vaccination rates.

‘One of the things that we’ve seen in central Australia is that when we get community elders to have a good understanding of the importance of the vaccination, then the vaccination rates in those communities go up significantly,’ he said.

‘Where I work at Tobwabba Aboriginal Corporation Medical Service, our rates are really high … it’s about connection to the community and spreading that message. Once we got the vaccines in, it was just about going and having a one-on-one with community members about how important it is, and then they would then share that message with other community members to get the rates right up.’

Such an approach can be just as effective in metropolitan settings, Professor O’Mara says, provided the programs and the messaging are tailored to the leaders and people who live there.

‘I think the networks are thicker in those communities,’ he said. ‘The information flows and we talk about the “Koori Grapevine” as a way of getting messages around. In those cities it’s probably every bit as easy as it is in rural places, because even though the numbers are higher, the message spreads wider.’

To view the GPNews article in full here.

Palm Island resident Taishima-Rae Fraser-Baira receiving covid-19 vax

Palm Island resident Taishima-Rae Fraser-Baira is among more than 700 locals who have been vaccinated against COVID-19. Image source: ABC News.

RACGP welcomes telehealth restoration

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) has cautiously welcomed the federal Government’s move to temporarily restore telehealth to peak COVID-19 pandemic settings.

Health Minister Greg Hunt and Regional Health Minister David Gillespie have announced an additional $24 million for a range of measures to give GPs and other specialists more flexibility to support patients.

It comes after RACGP President Dr Karen Price met with Minister Hunt and Minister David Gillespie this week, along with other peak general practice and medical organisations, to discuss the challenges facing general practice and support needed to ensure GPs can stay open and deliver the essential care to Australians at this time.

RACGP President Dr Karen Price said that the announcement was a step in the right direction. “The stark reality is that many of the patients who benefit the most from telehealth are also the most disadvantaged when it comes to internet connectivity and reliability. Discouraging longer phone consultations is particularly disadvantageous for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people seeking to undertake a health assessment, patients in rural and remote areas, older people, and those with multiple chronic conditions. So, we called on the Government to reinstate Medicare rebates for longer phone consultations as part of the permanent telehealth model.

“A six-month restoration of these rebates is welcome; however, we must not stop there – this must be a permanent fixture of telehealth for years to come and the RACGP will continue fighting to make that happen.”

To read the article in full click here and to access Minister Greg Hunt’s media release in full here.

health professional at desk giving telehealth consult

Image source: The Medical Journal of Australia.

Funding to improve cancer screening

More than $10 million is being invested in medical research to identify new and innovative approaches to help increase participation in Australia’s breast, bowel and cervical cancer screening programs.

Australia is a world leader in cancer screening through BreastScreen Australia, the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program and the National Cervical Screening Program but there is always more that can be done to increase the number of Australians participating.

Minister for Health and Aged Care, Greg Hunt, said regular screenings and early detection can lead to better outcomes for cancer treatments. “Australia’s cancer screening programs are world-leading and it’s simple: we know cancer screening saves lives,” Minister Hunt said.

The Australian National University will receive $1.7 million to understand why participation in the Bowel Cancer Screening Program are lower amongst Aboriginal than non-Indigenous Australians and how participation rates can be increased.

To help improve breast screening participation, the University of WA will receive funding to examine ways to engage Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women, women from diverse cultural and language backgrounds and women with different levels of educational attainment and income.

To view the media release in full click here.

doctor in whitecoat holding slate with chalk words 'CANCER SCREENING'

Image source: Boarding1Now.

AIDA launches 25th anniversary celebrations

The Australian Indigenous Doctors’ Association (AIDA) has launched its 25th anniversary celebrations.

Interviews can be arranged upon request by contacting the AIDA communications team via email here. To streamline the interview process, we ask that you please complete the interview request e-form available here, prior to contacting the communications team.

To view the AIDA media release click here.AIDA logo text 'Australian Indigenous Doctors' Association - celebrating the past challenging the future' red, black, aqua

RVTS late application round

The Remote Vocational Training Scheme (RVTS) is conducting a late application round for training to commence early in 2022.

Enquire now and be ready to apply when applications open on Friday 21 January to 3 February 2022.

In addition to vacancies in the AMS stream for doctors already working in AMS MMM2-7 locations, RVTS is also promoting opportunities to work in the following AMS Targeted Recruitment Locations – Tennant Creek (NT), Mutitjulu (NT), Halls Creek/Broome (WA), Kununurra (WA), and South Hedland (WA).

Through its Targeted Recruitment Strategy, RVTS partners with Aboriginal Health Services and Rural and Remote communities of high medical workforce need to offer RVTS training as part of a package to recruit doctors to these communities.

Click here to find more details (and contact officers) for each of these positions. Additional Salary Support funding from the Federal Department of Health may also be available to support the recruitment and retention of doctors to some Targeted Recruitment locations.

Check details on the RVTS website here.

Call the RVTS Recruitment Team on 1800 497 196 or 02 6057 3400 for further information.

RVTS tile, outback, vehicle, text 'training & retaining rural, remote & First Nations communities'

New process for job advertising

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

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

Unique pharmacy graduate program

Kimberley Pharmacy Services are offering a unique experience for recently graduated Pharmacists to join their our supportive and experienced team as part of our structured 2 Year Residency Program on a full-time basis. You can choose to start between January – March or later in 2022. You will be working with passionate individuals dedicated to making a tangible impact on the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and their communities.

You will be based in Broom for the first six months of the program. You will then be part of a rotational graduate experience at several pharmacies (community, clinical and outreach Aboriginal Health Services) throughout the region. 

To view the position description and to apply click here.Kimberley Pharmacy Services logo - leap, two halves of capsule one with Aboriginal dot art

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: 10-year plan to improve Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health

PLEASE NOTE: This is the last edition of the NACCHO Aboriginal Health News blog for 2021 and we will resume again in the new year from 18 January 2022.

Artwork in feature tile from the cover of the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan 2021–­2031. Artwork created by Tarni O’Shea and Gilimbaa.

10-year plan to improve Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health

In partnership with state and territory governments and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health leaders, the Morrison Government has today Wednesday 15 December 2021 launched the refreshed National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan 2021-2031 (Health Plan) – a national policy framework to improve health and wellbeing outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people over the next 10 years.

“The Health Plan is the first national health document to address and embed the health targets and Priority Reforms of the National Agreement on Closing the Gap,” Minister for Health and Aged Care, Greg Hunt said.

“In particular, the Health Plan prioritises the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled health sector and the imperative for mainstream health services to provide culturally safe and responsive care.”

CEO of NACCHO and the Lead Convener of the Coalition of Peaks, Pat Turner AM shared the following messages in a video about the release of the plan:

“The Plan embeds an integrated life course approach to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health care and prioritises our holistic model of care.”

“Critically, this Plan recognises the significant role that the Aboriginal community controlled health sector plays within Australia’s primary healthcare architecture. Our ACCHO sector is leading the way in the delivery of comprehensive, primary health care services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.”

“Implementation will enable ACCHOs to strengthen and grow so they can continue to deliver integrated care and primary health services over the next 10 years,” Ms Turner said.

You can read the Department of Health media release here.

View and download the 10-Year National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan 2021-2031 here.

Watch the joint video release from ministers and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health leaders about the release here. The video message features recordings from:

  • The Hon Greg Hunt MP, Minister for Health and Aged Care
  • Ms Donna Murray, CEO of Indigenous Allied Health Australia, Co-chair of the Health Plan Working Group
  • Professor Tom Calma AO, National Co-ordinator, Tackling Indigenous Smoking, Deputy Chair of the Health Plan Working Group
  • Ms Pat Turner, CEO of the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisation
  • The Hon Key Wyatt AM MP, Minister for Indigenous Australians
  • Senator the Hon Richard Colbeck, Minister for Senior Australians and Aged Care Services, and Minister for Sport
  • The Hon Dr David Gillespie, Minister for Regional Health
  • The Hon David Coleman MP, Assistant Minister to the Prime Minister for Mental Health and Suicide Prevention

Closing the Gap Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme scripts deadline 31 January 2022

As of 31 January 2022, Closing the Gap (CTG) PBS scripts will not be available for people who aren’t registered correctly with Services Australia.

There are recent changes to the CTG program which aim to make it easier for eligible Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to access medicines. Patients from any geographical location only need to be registered for the program once in their lifetime, to get free or reduced cost PBS medicines from any community pharmacy in Australia, without the need for each script to be marked ‘CTG’.

As of 1 July 2021, there is a new national registration system run by Services Australia for the CTG PBS Co-payment program. This system is called Health Professional Online Services (HPOS). Unfortunately, not all patients who previously received CTG scripts were transferred to the new database on HPOS, resulting in some people paying more for medicines. Potentially thousands of people who have previously had CTG scripts may be affected.

In response to this issue, the Australian Government allowed all people who had previously received CTG scripts but are not currently registered for CTG on HPOS, to continue to access CTG-subsidised medicines until 31 January 2022.

You can view the NACCHO media statement here.

PBS Co-Payment Gap

Laynha joins the NACCHO family

We wish to welcome Laynhapuy Homelands Aboriginal Corporation (LHAC or ‘Laynha’) as the latest member of the NACCHO family. Upon recommendation from the Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance Northern Territory (AMSANT), the NACCHO Board approved Laynha to become the 144th member of NACCHO on 8 December 2021.

Laynha was established in 1985 and has since been providing support to some 30 Indigenous Homelands across North East Arnhem Land in the Northern Territory with a population of approximately 1100 Yolngu residents across the region, and approximately 300 regular visitors.

Laynha supports homeland communities through:

  • Yirralka Rangers
  • Health Services
  • Community Services
  • Homeland Services
  • Ganybu Housing Aboriginal Corporation
  • Partnerships with organisations in the region with shared interests to support employment and training opportunities, culture and community, and economic development
  • Representing and promoting Laynha homelands

You can find about more about Laynha by visiting their website.

Laynhapuy Homelands Aboriginal Corporation - logo

Program needed to invest in culturally safe public health workforce

In one of the biggest demonstrations of support for significant new investment in Australia’s over-stretched public health workforce, well over 500 people registered for an online symposium on 7 December 2021. The symposium brought together many of Australia’s leading public health experts in the field.

Jointly presented by the Public Health Association of Australia (PHAA), the Australasian Faculty of Public Health Medicine (AFPHM) and NACCHO, the two-hour symposium discussed the new and existing public health workforce gaps, and the actions and support required to create increased efficiency and efficacy of public health services.

Medical Advisor for NACCHO Dr Megan Campbell spoke to Adam Evans from the National Indigenous Radio Service following the symposium.

“There is a need for a national program to train up people in public health and we need to have really broad based skills in that training program. We don’t just want doctors, we also need nurses and Aboriginal health workers who are interested in public health.”

Dr Campbell also stated that here is a real need for investment from all governments to fund positions.

“It’s really important that there are competencies as part of the curriculum around Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health so that we can build the workforce within the sector but also build cultural safety of the workforce in mainstream organisations,” Dr Campbell said.

You can listen to the interview here.

Image sources: Public Health Association Australia.

Attention turns to supporting mob through QLD outbreak

Indigenous COVID vaccination rates continue to trail behind other parts of the Queensland community, and health experts say the race is now on to prepare for outbreaks following the easing of border rules this week. Health services working with First Nations people are working to drive up those rates, as are state-mandated rules that will lock non-vaccinated Queenslanders and visitors out of cafes, bars, venues and even some health facilities from Friday.

Kaava Watson is the network director for the Institute of Urban Indigenous Health (UIH) in the state’s south east. The Birri Gubba and Kungalu man said it was now too late to worry about whether the state should risk new COVID cases by opening the border.

“Our attention is now geared towards the actual work that we’re going to have to do in terms of supporting our mob through this outbreak,” he said.

“Our concern has moved to a sense of urgency — really around the things we need to do to keep mob safe over the coming months, once we start to see community transmission of COVID.”

He said that included ensuring there was access to medication, food supplies, and support if people had to isolate.

You can read the article in the ABC News here.

Sue Andrews looks through a patient list during a door-to-door vaccination drive along the beaches in South Yarrabah. Image source: ABC News.

Sue Andrews looks through a patient list during a door-to-door vaccination drive along the beaches in South Yarrabah. Image source: ABC News.

Australia must move quickly to speed up COVID-19 booster program

The AMA has warned Australia’s COVID-19 booster program is already falling behind, risking more suffering from COVID-19 and a repeat of mistakes seen overseas where we are seeing the rapid spread of Omicron.

AMA President Dr Omar Khorshid said today the AMA was extremely concerned at the lack of support for the booster program, particularly through General Practice and pharmacies.

“Whilst we recognise that the state and territory vaccination hubs have taken nurses out of hospitals, aged care, and other health settings, it is critical that state and territory governments continue to run these clinics to ensure adequate access to vaccines for Australians needing their booster shot.

“By the end of this month close to four million people will be eligible for the booster, however, in the last week Australia has only been able to administer just over 210,000 booster doses.

“The latest strain of COVID-19, Omicron, poses a significant potential risk to the population and appears much more transmissible than previous strains, so we have to pick up the pace to protect the community.

“We need to urgently reach out to the public to encourage them to come forward for their booster, and GPs are best placed to do this for many in the population,” Dr Khorshid said.

You can read the AMA Media release here.

Senator Patrick Dodson getting his COVID-19 vaccine booster! Image source: Nindilingarri Cultural Health Services.

Senator Patrick Dodson getting his COVID-19 vaccine booster. Image source: Nindilingarri Cultural Health Services.

WA on high alert as COVID-19 spreads towards border

With proximity to the South Australian and Northern Territory borders, one of Australia’s most remote communities is facing a renewed urgency to boost COVID-19 vaccination rates. As of December 8, only 43 per cent of Indigenous people in the Ngaanyatjarra Lands were fully vaccinated.

With COVID-19 scares over the border in neighbouring states, community leaders are concerned an outbreak could be devastating.

On Monday, SA Health said the virus was detected in the wastewater in Pipalyatjara, just 30 kilometres from the West Australian border.

You can read the article in the ABC News here.

In a related article, the Northern Territory has detected four new COVID-19 cases in the community as an outbreak spreads towards the West Australian border. One of the infections is linked to a cluster in the town of Katherine, 320km south of Darwin. The other three cases are unconfirmed, but Health Minister Natasha Fyles said they are very likely to be genuine infections due to the close contacts. Two of those are in remote Timber Creek near the WA border, 225km east of Kununurra, and the other one is in Kalkarindji, 550km south of Darwin.

Meanwhile, the Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance Northern Territory has called for Katherine and its surrounding area to be locked down to slow the spread.

It said vaccination rates are not high enough to be fully protective and more health workers were urgently needed in the area.

You can read the article in the Mudgee Guardian here.

The NT has four new COVID-19 cases as an outbreak spreads towards the Western Australian border. Image source: The Mudgee Guardian.

The NT has four new COVID-19 cases as an outbreak spreads towards the Western Australian border. Image source: The Mudgee Guardian.

Significant progress to Close the Gap for Vision

The 10th annual update on the Implementation of the Roadmap to Close the Gap for Vision shows significant progress has been made to improve eye care outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people but service shortfalls and equity gaps remain.

Professor Hugh Taylor AC, Harold Mitchell Professor of Indigenous Eye Health at the University of Melbourne says there is now Roadmap activity across the whole country.

Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services, Aboriginal and/or Torres Islander people and other Indigenous-controlled organisations are also leading eye care activities at regional and state levels.

“With Australian Government support for the remaining recommendations, the gap for vision can be closed and we will be well on the way to end avoidable blindness in Indigenous communities by 2025, the goal set by Australia’s Long Term National Health Plan,” Professor Hugh Taylor said.

He also notes that the increase in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leadership of eye care work, on all levels, is a crucial step towards ensuring the best and most appropriate models of care are available.

You can find out more about the update on the SBS NITV Radio website.

Reanna Bathern having an eye test

Optometrist Kerryn Hart with patient Reanna Bathern, who needed updated glasses, and works at the public health section of the Anyinginyi Health Aboriginal Corporation. Image source: Optometry Australia.

Regional statistics about First Nations’ health and wellbeing

Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) has developed the Regional Insights for Indigenous Communities (RIFIC) website to be an accessible and user friendly website, intended for communities to access data about the regions in which they are located.

The website brings together a range of regional statistics about the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and their communities. The aim of the website is to provide access to data at a local level, to help communities set their priorities and participate in joint planning with government and service providers. The Indigenous communities and Other locations referenced, are derived from the Australian Government Indigenous Programs & Policy Locations and Australian Bureau of Statistics’ State Suburbs data sets.

You can view the RIFIC website here.

Woman gently touching child's face

Image source: AIHW RIFIC website.

Winnunga News December 2021

The Winnunga News December 2021 edition is now available. In this issue you can read about:

  • Aboriginal Hero and Great Australian – Dalaithngu
  • Indigenous Woman Sues ACT Over Forced Strip Search Her Legal Team Alleges Amounts To ‘Torture’
  • Canberra’s Don Dale Moment?
  • Labor-Greens Governing Agreement Status Report Raises Serious Questions
  • Anti-Vaxxer Staff in The AMC May Risk the Lives of Vulnerable Detainees
  • Fix The System First or It’s Just A Political Stunt
  • I Write While My Children Steal Cars and Rob Houses…
  • Experience Of An AMC Prisoner
  • COVID-19 Update
  • Winnunga Christmas Shut Down
  • Staff Profile

You can view the newsletter here.

 

New process for job advertising

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Voter ID rules will disenfranchise mob

Image source: Kalgoorlie Miner.

Voter ID rules will disenfranchise mob

NACCHO is deeply concerned by the proposed voter ID changes in the ‘Electoral Legislation Amendment (Voter Integrity) Bill 2021’. We urge all parliamentarians to oppose this unnecessary measure. We do not want to see vulnerable Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people disenfranchised.

The Chair of NACCHO, Donnella Mills, speaking from Cairns today said, “Australia has a sorry history in voting eligibility for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. It took until 1962 to secure the right to vote in the first place. It took until 1967 for us to be counted. Today, in 2021, we are at a critical time in our efforts as a nation to act upon the Uluru Statement from the Heart and secure an Indigenous ‘voice’ to Parliament. Yet this proposed Bill sets us back on our journey. I have no doubt that this Bill will discourage Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people from voting.”

There is no case for introducing these measures. NACCHO understands that the Australian Electoral Commission has confirmed that there was almost no voter fraud at the last federal election and that the introduction of voter ID requirements is unnecessary. There were no prosecutions for multiple voting at the last election, so there seems to be no problem to address here. Yet, if the Bill is introduced, significant damage will be done.

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

Senate & House of Reps voting boxes

Image source: The Guardian.

Improving disability support for mob

A group of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations across Australia are receiving a total of $1.27 million in grants to improve the delivery of National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) support services.
The $22,000 Indigenous Business Support Funding grants have been awarded to 57 organisations.

Awarded for the first time this year, the scheme was administered by NACCHO which represents 143 community controlled health organisations. The grants are being provided as part of the Federal Government’s NDIS Ready project.

Minister for the NDIS Senator the Hon Linda Reynolds CSC said the funding would strengthen Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’s participation in the NDIS – as well as increase the number of culturally-appropriate service providers. “We can improve the lifetime wellbeing and quality of life for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

To view Minister Reynolds’ media release in full click here.

Image source: Synapse website.

First Nations Services Unit for hearing

Hearing Australia has established a First Nations Services Unit to better meet the hearing health needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and families. “With our dedicated First Nations team, we’re making it easier and faster for children, families and communities to get the hearing help they need,” says Mr Kim Terrell, Managing Director, Hearing Australia.

The Unit will bring together the delivery of Hearing Australia’s three Australian Government funded programs for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples: the Hearing Assessment Program – Early Ears (HAPEE) program, the Community Service Obligations (CSO) component of the Hearing Services program and the recently established Listen to Learn program.

“This will help us collaborate with our partners to provide more effective, coordinated, and culturally appropriate services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples across Australia, regardless of their age, location or hearing need,” says Kim.

To view Hearing Australia’s media release in full click here.

Image source: Katherine Times.

School not prison for kids under 14

ACOSS, the AMA along with NSW community, legal, and First Nations justice organisations have condemned the decision of the Meeting of Attorneys General to “support developing a proposal to increase the minimum age of criminal responsibility from 10 to 12 including with regard to any carve outs, timing and discussion of implementation supports” as completely inadequate and failing to improve the lives of children and young people.

Data from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare shows that this proposal would not change the situation for more than 90% of children under 14 in prison. ACOSS CEO, Dr Cassandra Goldie, said: “this is not even a decision, it’s plan to develop a plan that will do nothing to save hundreds of children under 14 from languishing behind bars.”

To view the ACOSS media release in full click here.

Image source: Pro Bono Australia.

Cultural safety education for pharmacists

The Australian Pharmacy Council is exploring how to enhance cultural safety education of Australian pharmacy students. They have produced a podcast with pharmacists, Chastina Heck, a Nywaigi, Mamu, Bidjara woman, in conversation with Associate Professor Faye McMillan AM, a Wiradjuri woman, discussing Indigenous and western perspectives of health, global policies, and the benefits of embedding cultural safety in pharmacy education. A patient, Dr Jane Havelka, also talks about her experience with the health system as a First Nations woman.

For more information click here.

Image source: Pharmacy Guild of Australia.

A third miss school due to menstruation

Did you know, over one-third of young Australian women have missed at least one class in either school or university due to the pain of menstrual cramps and fatigue? And the stats begin to get much worse when Indigenous Australian communities come into play, hindering their chance to live life to the utmost fullest.

Research suggests this is due to the increasingly high cost of hygiene products and the embarrassment some young people feel when they’re on their period. Periods may seem like a physical phenomenon, and while it inherently is, the lack of sanitary items can seriously start to affect one’s mental health as they’re unable to cope with the profound shame and embarrassment they’re made to feel.

Last year, Victoria was the very first state in Australia to offer free sanitary items in all government schools. Commencing in term three in 2019, the $20.7 million initiative saw dispensing machines installed in every school. SA followed closely behind, announcing in February of this year that will also be providing free sanitary products to all female students in year five and above.

To view the full Pop Culture article click here.

Image source: Imperial College London.

Diabetic foot complications webinar

The South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI). has hosted a Diabetic foot complications webinar. This webinar recording brings together experts from the five regions of the Aboriginal Community-Controlled Health Sector (SA, NT, northern WA and Far North Queensland) to discuss the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Diabetes-related Foot Complications Program.

To access the webinar click here.

Image source: Diabetes Queensland.

New process for job advertising

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

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

World Prematurity Day

World Prematurity Day is observed on 17 November each year to raise awareness of preterm birth and the concerns of preterm babies and their families worldwide. Approximately 15 million babies are born preterm each year, accounting for about one in 10 of all babies born worldwide.

For information about preterm births in Aboriginal populations click here and for more information about World Prematurity Day click here.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Torres Strait leading way in vax numbers

Image in feature tile: a Torres Strait healthcare worker gets the coronavirus vaccine on Saibai Island. Image source: The Guardian.

Torres Strait leading way in vax numbers

The Torres Strait Islands are beating the national average for Indigenous vaccination, with 67% of over 12’s on the Islands having received a first dose, and 56% fully vaccinated..

Torres Strait Regional Authority Chair, Mr Napau Pedro Stephen AM, said clear communication with health authorities has been key for his people to get the jab. Past negative experiences with Government remained a cloud over the rollout for some Torres Strait Islander people, but Stephen said having their questions answered clearly builds trust.

“People in my age group, we’re in the 60s plus, we were still aware of what actually happened to Indigenous people in the past, and the things that are very much in the back of our mind is that whilst we step up to assume our responsibility, the government [has to] step up as well,” he said. “The trust will come when community know that you have given them all information that is available, but also when you actually sit with them and be honest, then they [know they will] make that decision at the end of the day, [and] that you trust them to do the right thing.”

NACCHO’s Dr Jason Agostino said the Torres Strait was identified early on as a priority area for vaccination against COVID-19. “For people, up on those northern islands like Saibai, there used to be really close relationships between the people of PNG, and the people of those islands,” Dr Agostino said.

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

Image source: The Australian.

Adequate health service funding critical

An annual health check-up on general practice in Australia, the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) General   of the Nation report draws on publicly available data, as well as the Health of the Nation survey of the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) Fellows from across Australia. The report shows promise for the future of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health – but adequate funding for GPs and Aboriginal health services is critical.

This year’s findings show there is strong and growing interest among GPs to work in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health. RACGP Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Chair, Professor Peter O’Mara, said “While we cannot ignore the gap in health outcomes between non-Indigenous people and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, this year’s Health of the Nation report offers us hope for the future.”

“On the workforce front, we continue to see growth in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander GPs, as well as interest in Aboriginal health among GPs in training. This is a positive step forward because we know that more GPs providing high-quality, culturally appropriate and accessible healthcare is key to closing the gap.

To view the article in full click here.

Aboriginal student medical training, stethoscope to female patient's chest

Growing the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander GP workforce is a fundamental part of Closing the Gap. Image: James Cook University General Practice Training. Image source: newsGP website.

Youth-onset type 2 diabetes alarming

A new study, Youth-onset type 2 diabetes among First Nations young people in northern Australia: a retrospective cross-sectional study, has found alarming rates of youth-onset type 2 diabetes among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people across northern Australia. The study uncovered what is arguably the highest reported prevalence in any population of youth internationally within the past 25 years and ten times higher than previously reported in Australia.

Only 14% of young people in the study, defined as before the age of 25 years, had blood glucose levels within recommended targets. For those falling outside of the target, the risk of developing complications such as kidney damage at a young age is significantly increased.

This reflects the reality that the majority of young people in this study are living in poverty with very high levels of educational disadvantage. They are also living with the impacts of intergenerational trauma including exposure to multiple adverse early childhood experiences which we know contributes greatly to the development of chronic disease in later life, including diabetes and metabolic syndrome. Lack of food security further compounds these issues.

To view the Menzies School of Health Research media release in full click here.

table with fruit, water bottle, oats, scales, stethoscope, slate with chalk word 'DIABETES'

Image source: Jammu Links News website.

Lockdown related family violence spike

Aboriginal social workers in the NSW town of Bourke fear that lockdowns have created a spike in rates of domestic and family violence.

Gomeroi man and Manager of Bourke Aboriginal Corporation’s Social and Emotional Wellbeing Program at their Centre for Excellence and Wellbeing Joseph Clarke said lockdowns are not only keeping victims of domestic and family violence at home with perpetrators, but also making it much harder for them to report the violence. “Domestic and family violence is running rampant,” he said. “COVID is being used as a weapon. Basically, [perpetrators say] ‘you can’t go anywhere, you have to stay home,’ whether that be the male or the female perpetrator, it doesn’t matter.”

Social epidemiologist Dr Vanessa Lee-Ah Mat is from the Yupungathi and Meriam people and sits on the Domestic Violence NSW Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Women’s Steering Committee. She said they have found an increase in domestic and family violence in Aboriginal communities that isn’t reflected in reported statistics.

To view the article in full click here.

blurred image man's clenched fist, woman sitting in background

Image source: ABC News.

FASD Hub Australia feedback survey

FASD Hub Australia is currently conducting a feedback survey to evaluate the user experience of the website and seek feedback on its accessibility, content and usefulness, as well as suggestions for improvement. Ethics approval has been received from the University of Sydney Human Research Ethics Committee.

Feedback is important for improving and enhancing the website and is an opportunity to make more informed choices about content. It will also help FASD Hub Australia to meet their mission of being the leading source of high quality, evidence-based content about alcohol and pregnancy and FASD in Australia.

The full version survey will take approximately 5-10 minutes to complete and participants can enter a draw to win one of six $50 e-gift cards. The survey closes on Friday 12 November 2021.

FASD Australia logo blue & orange links, image of mum holding sleeping baby to chest

Hunting restrictions during pandemic

Regulations have made it difficult for some Indigenous Australians to carry out cultural hunting and fishing practices, according to two ANU academics.

You can listen to Stewart Sutherland, Senior Lecturer in Indigenous Health, and Amanda Wingett Associate Lecturer in Indigenous Health for On Country discuss the importance of cultural hunting to First Nations communities on the ABC Radio National Overnights with Rod Quinn here.

Aboriginal hunter Robert Gaykamangu, of the Yolngu people, carries a Magpie Goose he successfully shot as he wades through a billabong near the 'out station' of Ngangalala, located on the outksirts of the community of Ramingining in East Arnhem Land

Aboriginal hunter Robert Gaykamangu, of the Yolngu people, carries a Magpie Goose he successfully shot. Photo: David Gray, Reuters.

A related article in The Conversation examines the link between restrictions on cultural hunting and food insecurity. Western NSW, for example, has been significantly affected by rising COVID-19 cases in Aboriginal communities, with people becoming increasingly food insecure. Some have limited financial resources to purchase food, which in rural and remote areas, is comparatively overpriced.

People are also having to rely on food donations and this has worsened the longer lockdowns have continued. Earlier in the pandemic, Aboriginal people in Wilcannia had maintained their cultural practice of hunting kangaroo and distributing the butchered meat to families within the township. However, health authorities discouraged residents from hunting and distributing roo meat in August this year.

The author of the article argues Australia’s governments must find a way for public health orders and cultural food practices to work together. To view The Conversation article in full click here. You can also view a video about an initiative to deliver kangaroo meat to mob during the pandemic below.

Quality use of medicine program survey 

NPS MedicineWise is developing a new program aimed at promoting the safe and effective quality use of medicine (QUM) approach to the provision of medicines to residents of remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities under the Remote Area Aboriginal Health Services (RAAHS) program.

As part of this program, NPS MedicineWise is seeking feedback from health professions who are working in rural and remote areas to help inform the program direction and interventions. The feedback is key to delivering a nationally available and sustainable online solution that is accessible to any remote health service that provides medicines to patients/consumers.

You can access the survey here.

multiple coloured pills, capsules, tablets

Image source: Australian Journal of Pharmacy.

New process for job advertising

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

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

Cultural Safety and Well Being Review results

Be among the first to see the results of The First Nations Australians, Cultural Safety and Well Being Evidence Review and seize the opportunity to give feedback by attending the Cultural Safety and Well Being Evidence Review Stake Holder Feedback Session on Zoom from 1:30-3:00 PM on Thursday 11 November 2021 using this link.

During this session the Social Policy Research Centre, UNSW and Gamarada Universal Indigenous Resources Pty Ltd will provide a summary presentation on the findings of the review and an opportunity to incorporate your feedback.

The session will be recorded. If you do not wish to be recorded please inform us by the Tuesday 9 November 2021 and we will ensure that you have an opportunity to view the presentation and provide feedback.

Participating in the session will be: the Office of the Children’s Guardian, TEI funded services, ACCHOs across NSW as well as academic colleagues and service providers experienced in the field of cultural safety.

Further information about the First Nations Australians, Cultural Safety and Well Being Evidence Review can be found here.

young Aboriginal girl with body paint on face

Image source: SNAICC.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: PM urged to address mob’s low vax rates

The image in the feature tile is from The Australian Medical Journal.

PM urged to address mob’s low vax rates

Indigenous leaders and health professionals have written to PM Scott Morrison seeking an urgent meeting about low COVID-19 vaccination rates among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. More than 20 leaders, including Professor Peter Yu from The Australian National University (ANU), have signed the letter, which outlines the “gravest concerns” at continuing low levels of COVID-19 vaccination in Indigenous Australian communities.

The letter comes as a number of states, including NSW and Victoria, have eased COVID-19 related restrictions. Currently more than 75% of the overall Australian population aged 16 and older is fully vaccinated. In contrast, 46% of Indigenous Australians have had two COVID-19 vaccine shots.

To view the ANU media release in full click here.

Professor Peter Yu, Vice-President First Nations at ANU. Image source: ANU website.

Yarning about sexual health webinar

The Aboriginal Health & Medical Research Council (AH&MRC) is inviting you to join the ‘Yarning about sexual health through the 715’ webinar rom 10:00 AM-11:00 AM, Tuesday 2 November 2021. This webinar will offer culturally appropriate presentations by two clinicians who are well versed within the field of sexual health and who are dedicated to assisting our mob close the Gap in the high prevalence rates in STIs and BBVs.

The webinar is recommend for Aboriginal Health Workers and Aboriginal Health Practitioners within the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Service sector, as it is aimed at assisting and providing education for them. Other clinicians are also welcome to join.

The webinar will consist of brief statistics, bringing up conversation around sexual health testing through the annual health check-up, or as some may know it, the 715. It will also be addressing how to assist clients and support them if they have a complicated STI and/or BBV and referral pathways for them. The AH&MRC hope to see you there as it will be very informative and an opportunity to ask questions!

For more information about the webinar and to register click here.

hands of Aboriginal man & woman holding hands

Image source: CKN website.

Pharmacist training course input sought

NACCHO and The Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (PSA) are co-designing a training course for pharmacists to build their knowledge and skills for working in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Service settings.

We are seeking input from AHS staff, pharmacists and clinicians on what should be included in the course through this online survey (it should take under 10 minutes to complete).

Alternatively you can contact NACCHO project officer Fran Vaughan on 0417 826 617 or by email here or Hannah Loller, PSA on 0438 783 432 or by email here.

female pharmacist at counter

Image source: NT News.

Camps for Yolngu youth

The East Arnhem Regional Council will run a series of camps over two years for young Yolngu people to deepen their connection with their culture, backed by $150,000 from the Aboriginals Benefit Account (ABA). These camps will see Yolngu youth immerse themselves in their culture, engage with their Elders, develop their leadership skills and participate in positive social activities. Minister for Indigenous Australians, the Hon Ken Wyatt AM, MP, said that being connected with land and culture is vital for young Indigenous Australians.

“Culture is core to a person’s identity and how they relate to the world,” Minister Wyatt said. “We know that when young Indigenous Australians have strong bonds with their culture, they are more likely to thrive and less likely to suffer from social, emotional and mental health issues – that’s why we’re helping support more ways they can participate in cultural practices.”

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

Michael Yunupingu, NE Arnhem Land

Michael Yunupingu, NE Arnhem Land. Photo: Peter Eve. Image source: The Australian.

Preventive Health Conference scholarships

The PHAA Oral Health Special Interest Group (PHAA Oral Health SIG) is offering student scholarships (the Award) to members who have contributed to the advancement of dental public health at national, state or community levels, have submitted an abstract to the Preventive Health Conference 2022, which has been accepted for presentation subject to peer-review.

The Award can be used to cover the registration costs (in-part or in-full) for student towards the virtual or in-person attendance at the Preventive Health Conference 2022 in Brisbane, QLD. Limited number of scholarships are on offer. Recipients of the Award must acknowledge the PHAA Oral Health SIG in any publications and presentations relevant to the abstract acceptance.

For more information click here.

Working with us, not for us

Bond University academics, Kelly Menzel, Assistant Professor, First Nations Health and Richard Matthews, Associate Professor of Medical Ethics have written an article about the need to work with, rather than for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

As a First Nations Australian academic, Kelly is often approached to give guest lectures. She aims to accept these invitations as she believes acts of reciprocity and relationality are essential building blocks for reconciliation.

Unfortunately, on many occasions, her knowledge is appropriated, reproduced without permission, frequently misconstrued, or misrepresented and colonised in some way. This all happens under the guise of a non-Indigenous person having “good intentions”. In addition, Kelly is frequently micromanaged regarding her Indigenous knowledges. Good intentions are not enough. What settlers need to understand are the principles of proper allyship.

This requires not acting on behalf of someone, but ceding space and decisional authority to others, and privileging the voices and experiences of First Nations Peoples and communities. First Nations communities must get to decide on all matters related to themselves and their knowledges. Allies need to understand this is not negotiable.

To the article in full click here.

Aboriginal woman at desk speaking with non-Indigenous people

Image source: University of Melbourne website.

Health + Wellbeing Equality Index

Pride in Health + Wellbeing run a free national annual index (Health + Wellbeing Equality Index) that is open to every organisation, including non-members, to measure their LGBTQ inclusive service delivery.

This benchmarking index has been designed based on international best practice standards for LGBTQ inclusive care and can assist service providers to baseline their current LGBTQ inclusion work, benchmark across the sector and identify gaps and areas for improvement as well as year-on-year growth. Individualised reports are sent to participating services and participation can be anonymous.

The HWEI also has optional staff and service user surveys. These allow services to not only measure what they are doing organisationally but see how well staff are responding to the o and their understanding and comfort levels in providing LGBTQ inclusion. It also then matches your inclusion work to service user experience, to see if the inclusion initiatives are improving the quality of care being received.

More information can be found on the pride in health + wellbeing website here.

New process for job advertising

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Vax rollout to WA mob continues to suffer

feature tile text 'WA ACCHOs work to break through COVID-19 vaccine misinformation' & image of road sign with kms to Fitzroy Crossing etc

Vax rollout to WA mob continues to suffer

The vaccine rollout to WA mob continues to suffer as Aboriginal Medical Services work to break through misinformation about the vaccine. The Federal Health Department’s weekly breakdown of Indigenous COVID-19 vaccination data by geographical area shows that nine of the nation’s 16 least vaccinated regions are in WA.

The State’s highest vaccination rate for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people is in the inner suburbs of Perth, where 49.25% of those eligible have received their first jab and 36% have received a second.

However, it’s WA’s south-west, the Bunbury region, that’s the next most vaccinated area in the State. In the region, 37.28% of eligible Indigenous people have received one vaccine dose, and 24% are double jabbed. Those numbers lift the south-west above any of Perth’s outer suburbs, Mandurah, the Wheatbelt and the far Outback areas – regions which have the lowest rate of vaccination anywhere in the nation.

Lesley Nelson is the CEO of the South West Aboriginal Medical Service (SWAMS), which provides medical services to mob throughout the region. Despite the south-west leading most of Perth’s metro areas for vaccination rates, Ms Nelson is still deeply concerned that there aren’t enough vaccines in arms. “We’ve had good uptake in Bunbury, but we are still well behind the goal of 80%,” she said.

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

5 female SWAMS staff standing in line in front of large tree

SWAMS staff. Image source: National Indigenous Times.

QLD borders open without community consultation

The Queensland Aboriginal and Islander Health Council (QAIHC) Chair, Matthew Cooke expressed ‘profound disappointment’ that the state government had not consulted with the Indigenous community before setting a date to open the state’s borders.

The state’s borders are set to open to domestic travellers at 70% vaccination, expected on 19 November 2021. As of October 20, Indigenous vaccination rates in Queensland sits at 40% with a single dose of a vaccine and 30% double dosed, with the general population at 58% and 73% respectively.

Cooke called for an urgent meeting with the Premier to address the impact that reopening would have on Indigenous people, who are vaccinated at a rate 30% lower than the general population. “She didn’t even consult her own Chief Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Officer before releasing that new COVID vaccine plan for Queensland and setting the date on opening borders, and she has not reached out to the peak health body in Queensland for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health,” he said.

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

QAIHC Chair Matthew Cooke.

Top 3 vax questions answered

Dr Lucas De Toca, COVID-19 Primary Care Response First Assistant Secretary, Department of Health (DoH) has answered the Top Three questions received across DoH channels:

  1. What is Ronapreve and how can it help treat COVID-19?
  2. My child is feeling anxious after lockdown, how can I best support them as they return to school?
  3. If I need one, how long do I need to wait before I can receive a third COVID-19 vaccine dose and where can I get one?

You can listen to Dr Lucas De Toca answering these questions in the below video and access a transcript of the video here.

ACT resists compulsory vax for prison staff

The ACT government is resisting compulsory COVID-19 vaccinations for staff at Canberra’s prison despite calls for a jab mandate from an Indigenous health leader.

“We acknowledge in the ACT public service that the AMC is an example of a high risk setting, if we were going to consider such a measure,” ACT health minister Ms Stephen-Smith told the ABC. “But it is very different to disability support work or healthcare work or residential aged care in that correctional services officers are not providing close personal care to detainees.”

Julie Tongs, the CEO of Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health Service, threw her support behind the ACT’s jab mandate for all healthcare workers, earlier this month. But says the mandate doesn’t go far enough and is calling for all prison officers and detention staff be vaccinated.

“I have been advocating since the very beginning of the COVID pandemic for special measures to be adopted to ensure that people detained in the AMC and other places of detention in the ACT, namely Bimberi and Dhuwal, to be accorded the highest possible levels of protection against the virus,” Ms Tongs says.

To view the CanberraCity News article in full click here.

image of inside of Alexander Maconochie Centre

Alexander Maconochie Centre. Image source: ABC News.

Pharmacist reconciliation journey continues

A group of companies have had the first meeting of the Reconciliation Action Plan Health Industry Network. The new network has been formed out of the Pharma Australia Industry Group (PAIG) and currently includes over 20 companies from the pharmaceutical and medical technology sectors.

The goal is to create a regular forum for sharing lessons and learnings between organisations on their own reconciliation journey. Fiona Sheppard, the co-chair of PAIG and diversity, equity and inclusion Leader at J&J, helped establish the new RAP Health Industry Network after receiving positive feedback on the PAIG sessions focused
on reconciliation.

“Across the industry, we are all at different stages of our reconciliation journey. Through this collaborative network, we hope organisations across the pharmaceutical and medical device industries can have open discussions, share knowledge and reflect on learnings to help each other progress meaningful action around reconciliation with Indigenous communities,” she said.

To view the BioPharmaDispatch media release in full click here.

Image source: Retail Pharmacy.

A man for the mob

Dedicated to community and built for opportunity, Indigenous business Minbaringu Services is making a difference through what they do and who they are. Operating in the Pilbara, Minbaringu provides electrical services; heating, ventilation, air conditioning (HVAC); PV solar power; and environmental and waste management services.

Minbaringu is led by director Richard Walker, who leads by example with his strong values on Indigenous employment and community connection. A man with a passion for mob and Country, he has maternal and paternal links to Ngarluma and Ngamal communities.  “I didn’t want to bring kids in, chew them up and spit them out. Now, Minbaringu is Indigenous-owned, and we have Indigenous tradies working for us,” he said.

“One of the biggest things for me with the business is how we support the community, particularly with mental health and youth suicide,” he said. “We want that big brother relationship; it doesn’t have to be getting involved in their personal business but it’s making sure support is there. We know that if we do this internally, that flows our into their communities, and their families.”

“I lost a couple of close friends and a family relative to youth suicide. That really shook me and affected me when I was a young fella,” he said. “I’ve lost too many friends. I’ve lost too many people to this. I want to make a change.”

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

Minbaringu Director Richard Walker sitting on stump in grass field, town in background

Minibaringu Director Richard Walker. Image source: National Indigenous times.

New camp kitchen for healing camp program

Shields for Living, Tools for Life cultural healing camps are a genuine alternative to youth in NT detention. Thanks to donors who have contributed to a funding campaign for CAASE’s bush kitchen trailer, the target $50,000 has been raised.

We are enlisting the support of the youth in detention to create artwork to personalise the bush kitchen and take on their cultural healing camps on Country!! The bush kitchen will provide a mobile home – kitchen and camper and shade shelter – catering for bush food and cold foods.

The CASSE team is very excited to hit the road with this bush kitchen next year. We have up to a dozen country camps to deliver on Country in five remote communities and some day camps at Desert Knowledge Australia (DKA). The bush kitchen will be stationed like a mobile cafeteria!

To view the story in full click here.

old camp kitchen, new trailer kitchen

New process for job advertising

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

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

Children’s Week 2021

Children’s Week is an annual event celebrated in Australia held around the fourth Wednesday in October. In 1996 it was decided to adopt a permanent theme: “A Caring World Shares” as a reflection of Children’s Week aims while at the same time acknowledging the designated year on national posters and other printed materials.

Children’s Week celebrates the right of children to enjoy childhood. It is also a time for children to demonstrate their talents, skills and abilities. Thousands of children and their families around the country are involved in activities and events during “The Week” through the participation of schools, playgroups, childcare, kindergartens, cultural groups, libraries, departments and community groups.

The Children’s Week National Theme for 2021 is: Children have the right to choose their own friends and safely connect with others.

Children’s Week 2021 will be held between Saturday 23 October – Sunday 31 October 2021.

For more information about Children’s week click here.

group of Aboriginal children & Children's Week logo vector world with 4 children

Indigenous kids at Nhulunbuy, NT. Image source: Huffpost.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: NDIS workforce critical given high disability rates

feature tile text 'NDIS workforce critical given high rates of disability among First Nations peoples' & rear silhouette view of elderly lady in wheelchair looking up at blue sky & clouds

NDIS workforce critical given high disability rates

NACCHO CEO recently appeared before the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) Joint Committee. In her opening comments, Pat Turner said “the NDIS workforce is an absolutely critical issue for our people and communities, given our high rates of disability. As you are aware, the National Agreement on Closing the Gap demonstrates a commitment from all levels of government to changing the way policies and programs affecting our people are developed and delivered.”

“Shared decision-making between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and government, strengthening the community controlled sector, improving mainstream organisations, and improving collection of and access to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander data are the priority reforms that underpin the national agreement. NACCHO’s submission [to the NDIS Joint Committee] outlines the need for and provides recommendations about how government can support and build a sustainable, community controlled NDIS workforce.”

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are twice as likely to experience a disability as other Australians. Currently, 9.6% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are NDIS participants. However, there is a severe underutilisation of plans by Aboriginal and Torres Strait people nationally when compared to other Australians. A key barrier for many of our people who are currently on NDIS plans is that they are unable to access culturally safe services or, in many cases, any services. I need to make this very clear: this is not just a remote issue but one also faced by our regional and urban communities. To ensure the successful uptake and utilisation of NDIS and disability services, a multidisciplinary and competent workforce is needed to support and provide services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

However, the community controlled care and health sector is facing major workforce challenges where demand will outstrip the supply of suitably skilled and job-ready Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander employees. This shortage will impact access to culturally appropriate, effective and efficient support and assistance needed by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

To access the full transcript of what Pat Turner said at the NDIS Joint Committee click here.

Pat Turner. Image source: Sydney Morning Herald.

Most vaccinated community in Central Australia

The low rate of COVID-19 vaccinations in Indigenous Australians continues to cause concern for politicians desperate to reopen borders, but one community near Alice Springs has turned that on its head with 94% of the eligible population having received at least one dose.

One major reason for the community’s success was the push by Sarah Gallagher, a long-term health worker in the community, who has almost single-handedly persuaded residents to get the jab.  “We’ve seen it everywhere. Our community heard about it, seen the news, it’s everywhere,” she said. “Our community people have been saying, ‘we’ve got to think about ourselves here. This is a good community, we need to go to the clinic and get vaccinated’.”

Health workers who service the community have also credited strong male leadership in the community in the uptake success. Jonathan Doolan, who has lived in Utju for 20 years, said the community had felt fear and uncertainty about COVID. “Some are getting scared of this thing and some really aren’t sure what they need to do,” said Mr Doolan. “We’re giving them the message and people will come to have the needle, have the thing.”

The combined efforts of Ms Gallagher’s commitment to her community and Mr Doolan’s leadership, has led to success, but the formula has proven difficult to replicate in other communities struggling to promote vaccination. “People trust me. I live here in my community and people trust me,” Ms Gallagher said. The health clinic in Utju is run by the Indigenous-controlled Central Australian Aboriginal Congress (CAAC) and not the NT Government, which is the case for some other remote health clinics.

To view the ABC News article in full click here.

Sarah Gallagher & Jonathan Dooley, Areyonga

Sarah Gallagher and Jonathan Dooley have been crucial in encouraging residents of Areyonga to get vaccinated. Photo: Steven Schubert, ABC Alice Springs. Image source: ABC News.

New COVID-19 vax resources from NSW Health

NSW Health have put together a range of updated COVID-19 vaccination resources for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, including:

  • updated sorry business poster and factsheet to reflect new restrictions
  • updated self-isolation rules
  • new community champion vaccination postcards
  • community champion videos: Blake Tatafu; BudjerahCorey Tutt; Lesley Armstrong
  • updated ‘release and recovery from COVID-19’ factsheet with new advice about vaccination for recovered cases.

All the above resources, as well as the social media resources listed below, can be found on the NSW Government website here.

NSW Health will also be hosting another Yarn Up Q&A at 3:00PM Tuesday 26 October 2021 on the NSW Health Facebook page. This series will focus on the facts about COVID-19 vaccination, responding to some of the misinformation circulating through the community. If you have any questions you think would be valuable to include, please let Helen Gardiner, Aboriginal Health COIVD-19 Communications Lead, Centre for Aboriginal Health, NSW Government know by midday this Thursday 21 October 2021 using this email link.

Youth call for action on “missing middle”

Young leaders have released a Call to Action to promote a much stronger role for young Australians in the design of health services to meet the “missing middle” needs of teenagers and young adults in health policy. The Call to Action seeks innovations including the creation of a youth healthcare card, a National Youth Commissioner and education in schools to promote understanding of the health system.

The call flows from the recent Youth Health Forum National Summit which brought together hundreds of advocates and young people from across Australia to discuss the health system challenges experienced by people aged 18 to 30. This age group has been identified in the report Life Transitions and Youth Pathways to Health services report as the “missing middle” in healthcare, experiencing limited engagement in the health sector and worsening outcomes.

“Changes need to be made within the health system to ensure that young people are able to live their healthiest lives. For these changes to be effective and sustainable, we are directly engaging and listening to young health consumers who are most impacted by the system,” the spokesperson for the Youth Health Forum, Roxxanne MacDonald, said.

To view the CHF media release in full click here.

legs of 5 young people sitting with laptops

Image source: Pro Bono Australia.

$93m to extend Indigenous programs

The Morrison Government is investing more than $93 million into 224 organisations to extend a range of Indigenous programs across early childhood, schooling, vocational education and training, and safety and wellbeing projects. Minister for Indigenous Australians, the Hon Ken Wyatt AM, MP, said the funding continues many successful programs that address essential service gaps and meet community needs.

“Our commitment to initiatives that help realise better outcomes for Indigenous Australians is unwavering – this funding will help deliver a raft of critical services, particularly to improve early life outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children.” “224 organisations will receive funding from the Indigenous Advancement Strategy, allowing them to plan and deliver 253 activities and services for Indigenous Australians.

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

7 young Aboriginal kids jumping in the air, grass underfoot & blue sky

Image source: The Australian.

EOIs sought for Project ECHO Steering Group

The COVID-19 pandemic has had an impact on the use of alcohol and other substances and delivery of treatment services across Australia, and has reinforced the key role primary care, and particularly general practice, plays in keeping people well in the community.

GPs often see the impact of alcohol and drug use on people’s wellbeing and are well placed to offer support. Just like other health problems, substance use issues can be treated, with treatment generally more effective if initiated early.

To build confidence and capability of primary care practitioners to support people experiencing alcohol and other drug (AOD) issues, WA Primary Health Alliance (WAPHA) are establishing WA’s first Project ECHO (Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes). Project ECHO is an evidence-based model which places healthcare providers from diverse settings in direct contact with subject matter experts, empowering them to provide best practice care for their local communities.

WAPHA is seeking expressions of interest (EOIs) from GPs and other health professionals to be part of a Steering Group to guide the development and implementation of Project ECHO. The Steering Committee will provide leadership, oversight and direction; monitor progress; progress relevant actions and contribute to project evaluation.

WAPHA is seeking applications from:

  • General Practitioners (with advanced experience and/or an AOD speciality as well as early career practitioners with a special interest in AOD)
  • Aboriginal Health Practitioners
  • Pharmacists
  • Nurses
  • Other Allied Health professionals and
  • Consumers who use AOD services

If this sounds like you then please submit your EOI here by COB Friday 5 November 2021.

For more information about Project ECHO click here.

banner, vector sign text 'Project ECHO'

Indigenous Justice Research Program established

The national Indigenous Justice Research Program (IJRP) has been established as part of the Morrison Government’s commitment to the National Agreement on Closing the Gap. The IJRP will fund academic research relating to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander criminal justice and aim to reduce the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in detention.

Minister for Home Affairs Karen Andrews said closing the gap was vitally important, not just for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples but for all Australians. “This new research program will build a body of evidence to inform improvements to criminal justice polices and responses as they relate to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander individuals interacting with the justice system,” Minister Andrews said. Minister Wyatt said a solid research and evidence base will support all parties to meet and exceed the targets to reduce Indigenous over-representation in the criminal justice system.

To view the media release in full click here.

Calls for national social prescribing scheme

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP), Consumer Health Forum of Australia (CHF) and Mental Health Australia are urging the government to implement a national social prescribing scheme to tackle Australia’s mental health and wellbeing crisis in the 2021 Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook (MYEFO).

Mental ill health is a growing problem in Australia and has been made worse by the COVID-19 pandemic. Since 2017, GPs across Australia have rated mental health as the most common presentation they see as part of the RACGP’s annual Health of the Nation survey. Medicare data also shows the increase in patients accessing mental health services during the pandemic, with services highest in July 2020 when Victoria’s second wave peaked. We also know that approximately 20% of patients consult their GP for what are primarily social problems.

The RACGP, CHF and Mental Health Australia are calling on the Australian Government to support the development of a nationally coordinated scheme dedicated to tackling the problem with innovative local solutions.

Social prescribing is about health and wellbeing support. It involves a health professional supporting a patient to take up non-medical activities and services to supplement conventional healthcare. It aims to address the key risk factors for poor health, including mental health problems, social isolation, and chronic illness. It has been shown to deliver positive health benefits and improved self-care capability.

To view the joint media release click here.

vector images of 18 social activities

Image source: CTA website.

New process for job advertising

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

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