NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Rethinking chronic pain and opioid use

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

Rethinking chronic pain and opioid use

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

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

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

ACCHO leads hepatitis C elimination effort

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

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

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

To view BNMAC’s announcement in full here.

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

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

Yarn Up about COVID-19 vaccination

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

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

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

Some examples of questions you might want answers to include:

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

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

Some tips on recording your video questions:

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

Mental health unit for incarcerated women

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

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

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

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

To view the SBS News story in full click here.

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

Photo: Aaron Fernandes. Image source: SBS News.

Help get your community Census-ready

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

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

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

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

You can access all of these resources here.

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

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

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

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

Contraception baseline data survey

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

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

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

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

Australia-first eye care nurse survey

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

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

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

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

Remote PHC Manuals project update

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

FYA identified roles for mob

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Applications close Wednesday 4 August at 6pm AEST.

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

Participants of FYA IMPACT NT Indigenous Youth Leadership Program.

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

World Hepatitis Day

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ask your mob, your way, R U OK?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1,000s invited to join vaccine rollout

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

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

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

For further information visit the Department of Health website here.

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

Image source: BBC News.

ACCHO model key to PHC reform?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Indigenist Health Humanities for QUT

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

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

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

To view the full article click here.

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

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

Inspiring rural Aboriginal health careers

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

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

To view this full article click here.

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

Image source: newsGP.

Pandemic’s health workforce impact

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

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

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

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

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

To view this article in full click here.

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

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

Health treatment satisfaction gap

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

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

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

To view the full article click here.

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

Image source: The Conversation.

TGA website refresh – have your say

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

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

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

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

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

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

New process for job advertising

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

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

Proud in culture, strong in spirit webinar

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

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

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

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: benefits of using knowledge translation

Place of Knowledge, 2014 by Chris Thorne -Aboriginal dot art, yellow dot background, outline of 4 pairs of dark grey hands with red bordered by white wavy line from the centre of each hand to circle in the centre

Benefits of using knowledge translation

Knowledge translation has been at the heart of the Lowitja Institute’s work since its inception, due to the transformative potential for research, practice, policy and community wellbeing. The Lowitja Institute’s way of doing knowledge translation means community members and end users drive the research agenda, ensuring it is research that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people want and need.

“We have always been researchers,” says Dr Mark Wenitong, one of the first Aboriginal people trained in western medicine in Australia and an experienced researcher and policy adviser. “Our knowledge bank is based on research over a very, very long period of time; it’s experiential research that has meaning for the cultural, social and emotional wellbeing of our communities.” It is this sustained and effective use of research over millennia that compels Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander researchers today as leading practitioners of knowledge translation and research for impact.

In this role Indigenous researchers are also frequently compelled to redress the overwhelmingly negative experiences Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have had with their knowledges often being ignored, dismissed or diminished by western science researchers and rigid research methodologies and funding processes. “Much of today’s health research is still done on, rather than by or with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander individuals and communities, without valuing local cultural protocols and ways of knowing, being and doing,” says Dr Janine Mohamed, CEO of the Lowitja Institute and a Narrunga Kaurna woman from SA. “Since day one of British colonisation, systems in society had been created which privilege non-Indigenous peoples and lock out Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, including from research and the benefits of research.

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

10 Aboriginal men sitting on rocks around campfire on banks of river

Image source: newsGP. Feature tile image: Place of Knowledge, 2014 by Chris Thorne (acrylic on canvas) community / language group – unknown. Image: Chris Thorne. Image source: The University of Melbourne website.

Rush to vaccinate Mob in outbreak areas

Aboriginal health services are securing more supplies of Pfizer and are now racing to inoculate as many vulnerable people as possible. You can view the report by ABC News Indigenous Communities Reporter Nakari Thorpe here.

In a related story on the ABC Radio Sydney, PM with Linda Mottram Aboriginal health services in Sydney’s COVID-19 outbreak zones are beginning a vaccine blitz in their communities with hopes to immunise hundreds in just a few weeks. It’s hoped it will bring much needed protection for the thousands of vulnerable Indigenous residents locked down in the city’s COVID-19 hotspots. You can listen to the broadcast here.

Spotlight shines on SEWB

Decolonising psychology, social and emotional wellbeing and best practice in suicide prevention for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people were key issues discussed on Croakey Health Media’s communication platforms during NAIDOC Week 2021 – Health Country. Calls were made to put the spotlight on social and emotional wellbeing (SEWB), holistic health, and the role of connection to Country and land for individual, community and global wellbeing.

You can view a selection of the issues discussed here. including reference to the role of the Centre of Best Practice in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention (CBPATSISP) in promoting and disseminating best practice programs and services, such as the Love and Hope video below, to stakeholders.

Lockdown health impacts vs virus

New research shows the loss of access to healthcare during lockdown is not worse than exposure to the virus itself.  James Cook University and University of Queensland researcher Dr Lea Merone was part of an international team of doctors who examined the impacts of lockdowns on mortality, routine health services, global health programs, and suicide and mental health.  She said they were trying to determine whether government interventions or the lethality and infectiousness of COVID-19 are to blame for negative health consequences.  “We found that although lockdowns are undoubtedly associated with health harms, their impact on health is unlikely to be worse than the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic itself,” said Dr Merone.

To view the media release click here.

young man on stretched out on window sill looking out picture window to city, transparent virus vector images on the outside of the window

Image source: The University of Manchester.

Mental health workforce web resource

The Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet‘s existing social and emotional wellbeing (SEWB) portal has been expanded to encompass information that is based on the holistic meaning of social and emotional wellbeing for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. This new content is based on substantial evidence around models of SEWB which will provide a strengthened coverage of updated resources for both policy makers and health practitioners.

New subtopics on the already comprehensive portal will include Staying strong; Country, culture and spirituality and Family, kinship and community. Each of these subtopics will provide high quality information for the health sector workforce about relevant publications, resources and programs. The existing subtopics have been changed to fit within these models. The free to access portal will continue to be regularly updated.

HealthInfoNet Director, Professor Neil Drew says of the expanded portal “The importance of social and emotional wellbeing to the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people should not be underestimated. It includes the social, emotional, spiritual and cultural wellbeing and connection to country, family and community which all impact on wellbeing. This new evidenced based information will be of great use to those in the sector and will provide them with an expanded suite of resources to support them in their work”.

To view the media release about HealthInfoNet‘s expanded SEWB portal click here. and to access the portal click here.

banner text 'Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet - Social and Emotional Wellbeing' black line drawing of goanna & Aboriginal dot painting aqua, blue, green, yellow

Data key to suicide prevention

Data released today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) reinforces the value of data collection to help save lives. Despite a rise in demand for helplines and mental health services, the AIHW’s National Suicide and Self-Harm Monitoring System shows the numbers of suspected deaths by suicide in 2020 were similar to those in previous years. Suicide Prevention Australia, CEO, Nieves Murray said, “Monitoring the number, trends and rates of suicide in Australia is key to understanding who is at risk and for the planning and targeting of suicide prevention activities. Every life lost to suicide is heartbreaking. It’s important to remember that every statistic represents a life lost and a cascade of grief amongst family, friends, schools, workplaces and community groups.”

To view the media release click here.

banner text 'suicide & self-harm monitoring data now available - statistics on death by suicide, intentional self-harm and suicidal behaviour among Australian AIHW' purple aqua, image of hands cupping other hands

In a related story suicide prevention grant deliver territory success stories. Health Minister Natasha Fyles said the NT Labor Government’s Suicide Prevention Grants have helped local organisations make a genuine difference to the lives of Territorians. One success story from last year was FORWAARD Aboriginal Corporation’s Lyrics for Life project, which was rolled out with the support of 30 Territorians. FORWAARD used their Suicide Prevention Grant to produce two songs touching on themes including how to reach out for help and overcome the stigma associated with mental health. This enabled FORWAARD’s clients to pass on the message to their community in a simple way understood by all ages.

To view the media release click here.logo for 'FORWAARD AC Foundation of Rehabilitaition with Aboriginal Alcohol Related Difficulties - "Keep the circle strong" under Aboriginal art of fishh over red, yellow, black concentric circles

Girls forced to give birth alone

When she was a teenager, Vicki O’Donnell was sent thousands of kms away from her hometown in remote WA to give birth – alone. She spent weeks waiting in Perth for her little girl to arrive, and when she did, Ms O’Donnell had to quickly return to Derby to look after the other child she’d to leave behind. For three months she was unable to see her newborn and received updates about her condition through letter and through telegram. “I was 18 years of age,” Ms O’Donnell said. “That was 40 years ago. When you think about it, not a lot has changed.”

A Nyikina Mangala woman, Ms O’Donnell is now the CEO of the Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Service (KAMS) in Broome. It’s a service that regularly helps pregnant mothers from remote communities come into WA regional centres to give birth and if necessary, works to connect them with travel to Perth if they have complications beyond the resources of local healthcare providers.

This means using the Patient Assisted Travel Scheme (PATS). A State Government-funded model, PATS provides a subsidy towards the cost of travel and accommodation for regional patients, and an approved escort. While the model has undoubtedly provided valuable access to healthcare for regional West Australians, health authorities and medical services have long highlighted problems with the PATS model and how it works for pregnant women in remote communities in the North West. Many midwives say the experience of women coming into town or Perth to give birth stands completely at odds with how Indigenous women in community often choose to give birth.

To view the full article click here.

KAMS CEO Vicki O'Donnell in front of KAMS building

Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Service CEO Vicki O’Donnell. Photo: Andrew Seabourne. 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.
dice spelling JOBS resting on keyboard

International Self-Care Day

International Self-Care Day (ISD) has been running since 2011 and is held on 24 July each year, to provide a focus and opportunity to raise the profile of healthy lifestyle self-care programs around the world. Self-care is a lifelong habit and culture. It is the practice of individuals looking after their own health based on the knowledge and information available to them. It is a decision-making process that empowers individuals to look after their own health efficiently and conveniently, in collaboration with health and social care professionals as needed.

A recently released report by the Mitchell Institute, Self-care and health: by all, for all, Learning from COVID-19, highlights the effectiveness of self-care in improving health and wellbeing for individuals and communities, and how it can help limit the devastating impact of infectious diseases. Professor of Health Policy, Rosemary Calder explains, “COVID-19 has shown us that engaging people in understanding how to prevent infection and illness, and how to be as healthy as possible, can reduce preventable health problems. We have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to apply this lesson to develop our health system to help people to be healthier, rather than waiting for them to be unwell with health problems that are preventable – which is what happens now.”

For more information on the Mitchell Institute report click here. and to view a short video about International Self-Care Day click here.

woman with long dark hair eyes closed head tilted back to sky, green tree foliage in the background, text 'self-care day - Saturday, July 24, 2021'

Image source: selfcare.ca,

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Decreased access exacerbates chronic illness

feature tile text 'First Nations Peoples' chronic illness over-representation exacerbated by decreased healthcare access' photo of Aboriginal man's hands in lap

Decreased access exacerbates chronic illness

Residents in Sydney, the NSW Central Coast, Blue Mountains and Wollongong will spend at least two more weeks in lockdown as authorities grapple with high COVID-19 case numbers. The growing cluster now centred in Sydney’s south west raises major health and wellbeing concerns for people living in larger households, with chronic health issues and more precarious jobs and incomes, and the urgent need for tailored communications and supports that are led by community.

The extension of the Greater Sydney lockdown to contain the latest outbreak of COVID-19 is expected to put added strain on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities with implications for management of chronic health conditions, social isolation, and mental health, say community experts. A key concern for Professor Aunty Kerrie Doyle, Associate Dean, Indigenous Health, Western Sydney University, is the interruption of the care of chronic conditions for south-west Sydney’s 6,000-strong Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population. “This halt in day-to-day health business will have huge impacts down the road,” said Doyle, a Winninninni woman.

While she said phone consultations were valuable, there were limitations to this care. “You are less likely to go and do things that you need to do; like, do you need to have your blood taken for your diabetes? How’s your podiatry going?”, she said.  Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people suffer disproportionately from lockdowns.

Dr Paul Saunders, a Biripi man, medical doctor and Research Fellow in Translational Health Research at Western Sydney University, said reduced access to care in a lockdown was an issue for the whole community, but its impact would be felt more acutely among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. “Indigenous people have an over-representation of chronic illnesses, these are just exacerbated by this decreased access to health care,” he said.

To view the full article click here.

3 Aboriginal women sitting outside of Tharawal Clinic, all wearing different Aboriginal dot art shirts

Tharawal health clinic supporting community. Image source: Croakey Health Media.

Strengthening mental health workforce

New research by Charles Darwin University (CDU) scholars suggests a strengthened Indigenous mental health workforce could effectively improve mental health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. The report, written by Professor Dominic Upton, Associate Professor Linda Ford, Professor Ruth Wallace, Sarah Jackson, Jenna Richard from CDU and Dr Penney Upton from the University of Canberra, has found  that an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander led mental health workforce would promote self-determination and increase the reach of mental health services by providing culturally competent services. Mental health services delivered by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander professionals are considered more culturally safe and trustworthy.

For more information about the research click here and to view the Charles Darwin University media statement in full click here.

wall painted with Aboriginal flag layout with centre a yellow brain, shadow of bars across painted brick wall

Image source: VICE.

Challenges facing Aboriginal adolescents

In Australia, an understanding of Aboriginal adolescence is urgently needed to ensure equitable treatment. Not only must young Aboriginal people adjust to their changing bodies and minds, but they must also negotiate these changes in conflicting environments often characterised by racism and poverty.

A new book Indigenous Australian Youth Futures – Living the Social Determinants of Health edited by University of Newcastle medical anthropologist, Associate Professor Kate Senior, aims to provide better contextualisation around Aboriginal youth and the challenges they face in modern Australia.

The new publication aims to provide a greater understanding of the day-to-day lives of Aboriginal adolescents, and some of the adults who care for or neglect them. It seeks to provide better understanding of the circumstances, processes and factors that affect adolescent health, wellbeing and future prospects in their intercultural environments.

For a more detailed description of the book click here.cover of book text 'Indigenous Australian Youth Futures - living the social determinants of health - edited by Kate Senior, Richard Chenhall and Victoria Burbank' sepia photo of two young Aboriginal children in long grass, one attempting a hand stand

NDIS latest news

The July 2021 edition of the NDIS Latest news includes:

  • Home & Living and Support for Decision Making Consultations – have your say
  • Coronavirus information
  • Would We Fund It update
  • 2021–22 pricing update
  • Participant spotlight

To view the NDIS Latest news July 2021 edition click here.tile text 'ndis Latest news' along footer white text, purple background, phot of man in wheelchair on path with young boy holding man's hand and woman with young girl walking on the other side of the wheelchair

IAHP Yarnes evaluation update

An update of the Indigenous Australian’s Health Programme (IAHP) Yarnes Evaluation has been released. The update provides an overview of the progress made on the evaluation during the first half of 2021, including 17 sites (with 23 ACCHOs and 13 Primary Health Networks) formalising their participation as site partners in the evaluation and ethics approval allowing fieldwork to being in all 17 sites.

You can view the evaluation update here and access the evaluation website here.banner text 'IAHP Yarnes IAHP Yarning Action Reflection National Evaluation Systems' 5 Aboriginal art circles overlapping, blue, green, brown, taupe, white

NT GP training enrolments plummet

The difficulties of retaining medical practitioners in the NT have been laid bare, with a study showing a 50% fall in the number of junior doctors deciding to become GPs. The NT leads a national trend of declining enrolments in GP training, according to the Menzies School of Health Research. “This is a complex problem and there is no easy solution,” researcher Deb Russell said in a statement earlier this week.

Historically, the NT has struggled to attract and retain GPs, especially in remote areas. It relies heavily on locally training junior doctors to become GPs, however, between 2016 and 2020 new enrolments fell by 50%. The decline is far larger than the national average of 12%.

Dr Russell said graduating medical students and junior doctors need to be attracted to GP training as soon as they graduate. “Many are still making up their minds about their career path at this time,” she said. Training opportunities in remote areas should be offered, along with cultural awareness education and support to overcome the barriers to rural work. Also, intern and other hospital training positions should also be awarded to junior doctors who express an interest in rural general practice, Aboriginal health, remote medicine, and staying in the NT long term.

You can view The West Australian article in full here and a related ABC News article here.

Dr Melanie Matthews a GP at Mala'la Indigenous health service Maningrida sitting at her clinic desk with stethoscope around her neck

Dr Melaine Matthews, Mala’la Indigenous health service, Maningrida, NT. Image source: ABC News.

New Graduate Certificate available

A new Graduate Certificate in Health Service Management (Safety and Quality) is now available through the University of Tasmania.

This new course follows a collaboration between the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care with the University of Tasmania to introduce training on healthcare safety and quality, particularly the National Safety and Quality Health Service (NSQHS) Standards. The course is part-time and is delivered fully online, with optional half-day masterclasses.

The Graduate Certificate in Health Service Management (Safety and Quality) is open for enrolment now, and for a limited time the University is providing a 100% HECS fee waiver. This is a fantastic opportunity for managers and clinicians across Australia to boost their skills and knowledge and get a qualification in this important area.

Course participants will get an in-depth understanding of how to apply NSQHS Standards and the National Model Clinical Governance Framework to improve the safety and quality of care in their health service. You can access a more detailed overview of the course here.

If you are interested in this course and have any queries, please contact the course coordinator, Professor Melanie Lauva here.

banner image of torso of woman holding stethoscope towards camera, overlaid with medical vector images e.g. medical chart, thermometer, ambulance contained within hexagons, blue white

Image source: Future Health Skills 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.
dice spelling JOBS resting on keyboard

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Link between sexual health and chronic conditions

feature tile text 'poor awareness of links between sexual health and chronic conditions in ATSI males' Aboriginal dot painting from cover of summary report blue, brown, aqua, navy, white, black, taupe

Male sexual health chronic disease link

The latest publication from the Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet, a Review of sexual health issues linked with cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes mellitus in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander males, which can be accessed here confirms that although the links between male sexual health and chronic conditions are well established, there is poor knowledge and awareness about these links among both health professionals and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander males.

This review outlines the mounting evidence that erectile dysfunction (ED) can be a sign of future cardiovascular disease or type 2 diabetes. This has the potential to motivate males of all ages to seek help if they experience ED, and for health professionals to become skilled in discussing sexual health with patients. This  requires further consideration of cultural factors for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander males and the social and historical context in which their health and wellbeing exists.

You can access the Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet media release about the review here, an infographic Summary of the key information contained in the review here, a factsheet here and a short video below.

Feature tile artwork When the freshwater meets the saltwater by Bec Morgan taken from the Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet Summary of sexual health links with chronic disease in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander males.

 

The HIV/AIDS story – Forty years on

Forty years ago this month (on July 3, 1981) a story in The New York Times made the paper’s first mention of a disease baffling doctors.

Rare cancer seen in 41 homosexuals,” said the headline, atop a story buried on page 20. “The cause of the outbreak is unknown, and there is as yet no evidence of contagion.”

The story followed the publication on June 5, 1981 by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) of an MMRW report of Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia in five previously healthy young men in Los Angeles, California, of whom two had already died. This report later was acknowledged as the first published scientific account of what would become known as human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS).

In Australia, research from the Kirby Institute shows that the broad availability of the HIV-prevention drug tenofovir with emtricitabine (known as PrEP) reduced HIV transmissions in New South Wales by 40 percent, to an all-time low, in the period 2016 to 2019. However, the researchers warned that the elimination of HIV in Australia will require better adherence to PrEP among young people.

The Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations has produced a report that says Australia can end HIV transmission in the country by 2025. You can read the “Agenda 2025” report here.

The full story by Associate Professor Lesley Russell can be viewed in Croakey Health Media here.

Scanning electromicrograph of an HIV-infected T cell. Credit: NIAID

Scanning electromicrograph of an HIV-infected T cell. Credit: NIAID

 

Bardi Jawi woman’s diabetes story

This short video aims to raise awareness of diabetes among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

The video features Cecelia Tigan, a Bardi Jawi woman from Djarindjin in the Kimberley region of WA. Cecelia explains how she was first diagnosed with gestational diabetes during pregnancy and how she now lives with type 2 diabetes. Cecelia says her diabetes remained after giving birth to her fourth child. Cecelia explains that she is worried about the young children in her community with the availability of junk foods and how the consumption of sweets and junk food is putting them at risk of diabetes.

 

Ways to strengthen mental health workforce

New research by Charles Darwin University (CDU) scholars suggests a strengthened Indigenous mental health workforce could effectively improve mental health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait
Islander people.

The report, written by Prof Dominic Upton, Assoc Prof Linda Ford, Prof Ruth Wallace, Sarah Jackson, Jenna Richard from CDU and Dr Penney Upton from the University of Canberra, finds that an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander led mental health workforce would promote self-determination and increase the reach of mental health services by providing culturally competent services.

Mental health services delivered by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander professionals are considered more culturally safe and trustworthy.

Read the article by Charles Darwin University here.

Illustration of chat between psychologist and patient. Image credit: flourishaustralia.org.au

Illustration of chat between psychologist and patient. Image credit: flourishaustralia.org.au

 

Spurring next generation of Indigenous dentists

A new partnership between the Australian Dental Association New South Wales (ADA NSW) and the Indigenous Dentists’ Association of Australia (IDAA) will explore how to improve oral health outcomes for—and inspire—the next generation of Indigenous dental practitioners.

Only 0.4 per cent of employed dental professionals in Australia are Indigenous, according to the latest Australian Institute of Health and Welfare Oral Health and Dental Care in Australia report,” ADA NSW president Dr Kathleen Matthews said.

“More than 60 per cent of Indigenous patients aged 35-54 have signs of gum disease and almost one-third of Indigenous adults rate their oral health as poor or fair.

“We believe this partnership with ADA NSW is, given our shared values and purpose, another important step towards improving overall health and wellbeing outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.”

Read the full story in Bite Magazine here.

A Boggabillia Central School student shows how to brush your teeth. Credit ABC News.

A Boggabillia Central School student shows how to brush your teeth. Credit ABC News.

 

Climate change and food shortages

Surging consumer food prices are a growing global problem, making food staples in many countries unaffordable. An Oxfam report just out says that world hunger rose steeply in 2020, with six times more people living in “famine-like conditions” than in 2019. Oxfam calculates that 11 ­people a minute are likely to be dying from acute hunger, compared to seven people a minute from COVID-19.

A new FAO report on global food security has just been released, estimating that between 720 and 811 million people in the world faced hunger in 2020 – as many as 161 million more than in 2019. “The high cost of healthy diets and persistently high levels of poverty and income inequality continue to keep healthy diets out of reach for around three billion people in every region of the world,” it says.

A 2019 UN report outlined how extreme weather as a result of climate change, combined with loss of agricultural land and the mismanagement of water resources, will shrink the global food supply. The potential risk of “multi-breadbasket failure” was seen as a particular threat.

There’s a raft of reports that highlight what climate change means for food production, availability and prices in Australia. In addition, as noted in a 2015 report from the Climate Council, Australia’s food supply chains are vulnerable to extreme weather events.

This week, public health researchers have underscored the urgency of addressing food security issues for children, warning food insecurity should be understood as a form of trauma.

One issue highlighted is that food security is not measured regularly or consistently at a population level. Estimates suggest that between 4 percent and 13 percent of the general population and 22 percent to 32 percent of the Indigenous population are food insecure.

The full story by Associate Professor Lesley Russell can be viewed in Croakey Health Media here.

Red, black and yellow food arranged like the Aboriginal flag. Image credit: preventioncentre.org.au.

Red, black and yellow food arranged like the Aboriginal flag. Image credit: preventioncentre.org.au.

 

New process for job advertising

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

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


dice spelling JOBS resting on keyboard

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Mob urged to get vaccinated

feature tile text 'ATSI health experts urge mob to get vaccinated' photo of Aboriginal man getting the vaccine

Mob urged to get vaccinated

With Sydney’s eastern suburbs outbreak numbers growing by the day and new cases confirmed in Victoria, Aboriginal leaders are encouraging communities to get vaccinated. As of 11am this morning (Wednesday 14 July 2021), the NSW Government confirmed a total of 99 new cases within 24 hours, with the source of 36 cases currently unknown. In response to rising numbers, the NSW Government has extended the current greater Sydney lockdown until 30 July 2021.

There have been 825 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state since 17 June 2021, when the first case of the cluster was detected in Bondi. On 4 June 2021, the Morrison Government expanded COVID-19 vaccination eligibility to include all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples aged over 16 years.

Aboriginal health experts say that it’s critical that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples get vaccinated to protect themselves, their families, and their communities. “Please get your COVID-19 shots! It’s not just important for us as individuals but it’s important for all members of our families and our communities,” said Pat Turner AM, NACCHO CEO. “The more people [that] have the vaccination, the safer we will be.”

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

Dr Dawn Casey Deputy CEO NACCHO receiving COVID-19 vaccine

Dr Dawn Casey Deputy CEO NACCHO receiving COVID-19 vaccine. Feature tile image Cecil Phillips, 62, receiving his AstraZeneca vaccine, at the Aboriginal Medical Service in Redfern. Photo: Isabella Moore. Image source: The Guardian.

New Indigenous mental health website

A new website has been set up to improve Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’s mental health, with information on social and emotional wellbeing, country, spirituality and homelessness. The Indigenous Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Clearinghouse will also house scientific research about connection to family and kinship, the criminal justice system, child protection, nutrition and mental health services.

This will help service providers develop culturally safe holistic programs about physical, social, emotional, cultural and spiritual wellbeing for individuals and communities. “Indigenous adults experience higher rates of psychological distress and suicide than other Australians,” Indigenous health expert Fadwa Al-Yaman said. “It’s vital to improve the evidence base available on Indigenous mental health and suicide prevention.”

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare portal was developed with Indigenous mental health experts and policymakers in response to the Fifth National Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Plan. “Our communities continue to experience high rates of suicide,” Bardi woman, psychologist and Indigenous suicide prevention expert Pat Dudgeon said. “The Clearinghouse will contribute to an evidence base to ensure information that is current, safe, and relevant to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people is accessible.”

To view the Magnet News article in full click here and to access the AIHW Indigenous Mental Health & Suicide Prevention Clearinghouse click here.

Aboriginal dot painting by Linda Huddleston (Nungingi) - on AIHW Indigenous Mental Health & Suicide Prevention Clearinghouse, circle with wedges mustard, light brown, white, black, surrounded by white footprints & border with spaced circles made up of 3 concentric circles

The Journey toward Healing by Linda Huddleston (Nungingi). Image source: AIHW website.

Identifying large baby risk

WA diabetes researchers aiming to simplify gestational diabetes screening have discovered that a blood test early in pregnancy can help identify Aboriginal women at risk of having large babies. Research leader Associate Professor Julia Marley, from the Rural Clinical School of WA, said the discovery was made through the ORCHID Study, which aims to simplify screening for high blood glucose levels in pregnancy.

“Our recently-published research shows the risk of having a large baby is twice as high in women with an early HbA1c above the normal range compared to women who were in the normal range and did not develop gestational diabetes later in pregnancy. These mums with high HbA1c results likely had prediabetes going into pregnancy,” said Associate Professor Marley. “Almost 3 in 4 of them went on to have a positive Oral Glucose Tolerance Test – also known as the sugar drink test – which is the current standard way to test for gestational diabetes, later in pregnancy. Having a large baby can cause birth complications for mum and these larger infants are more likely to develop obesity and type 2 diabetes in later life, so if we can detect high blood sugar levels using an early pregnancy HbA1c test, we have a chance of reducing that risk.”

For further information head to the Diabetes Research WA website here and to access the media release click here.banner text 'Diabetes Research WA' - blue vector bird with long green tail between words Diabetes Research & WA

Perinatal mental health project

Western Sydney University, in partnership with Western Sydney Local Health District’s (WSLHD) Perinatal Child Youth Mental Health Service, has been awarded $650,000 from the Australian Government’s Perinatal Mental Health and Wellbeing Program to develop a national resource to support young mother’s mental health.

The project will address perinatal mental health by creating an online and interactive learning resource that focuses on young mothers, particularly those at higher risk of mental health conditions, such as Indigenous, migrant and refugee women, women with disabilities, young women who have been in out-of-home-care and those experiencing poor mental health in adolescence.

Project lead Dr Arianne Reis, from the University’s School of Health Sciences and Translational Health Research Institute, said the project importantly represents a collaborative and tailored approach to improving the mental health of mothers, including those most vulnerable in our communities. “We’re very pleased about the opportunity to gather together expertise from researchers, online teaching and technology specialists, clinicians, community practitioners, and young mothers from all walks of life to develop a resource that truly speaks to their needs and wants,” said Dr Reis.

To view the Western Sydney University media release in full click here.

Aboriginal baby sitting on chest of mother lying down smiling at baby

Image source: COPE Centre of Perinatal Excellence website.

Caring for Spirit dementia training

Growing old well is something we all want for our communities. What we know, is that growing old well is influenced by many things that happen throughout our lives. Getting dementia can have an effect on our mind, body and spirit.

The Aboriginal Health and Ageing Program at NeuRA are excited to let you know that the Caring for Spirit online dementia education and training resources are now live and available. Caring for Spirit has been co-designed with the Koori Growing Old Well Study, partners and wider networks, with funding support from the Department of Health Dementia and Aged Care Services Fund.

The learning modules, designed to make learning fun, are now available to be accessed via the Caring for Spirit website here.

For those who missed the launch and are interested in watching the presentations, you can access a link to a recording of the launch here.banner text 'caring for spirit ATSI online dementia education' & circle containing Aboriginal dot painting of circle green, black, blue, red - 4 concentric circles with lines going either side as like water flowing passed the circle

On Country medical treatment

A new $19.1 million regional WA residential care facility will carry state-of-the-art technology and allow people to stay on Country for medical treatment. The new centre has been named Gnullingoo Mia from the Inggarda words translating together to ‘our home’,

A spokesperson for the WA Country Health Service (WACHS) said their Midwest team consulted with senior Inggarda Elders and the Bundiyarra – Irra Wangga Language Centre to pick the facility’s name. WACHS Regional Director Karen Street said the name highlights the close connection the community feels to the land and the region.

The 38-bed facility is located at the Carnarvon Health Campus and is slated for completion in late 2021. It will allow local people with greater care needs to stay on Country in residential accommodation and will cater to a wide range of people who require permanent and respite care and are unable to live independently at home. The beds at Gnullingoo Mia will meet a rising demand for aged and palliative care services in the Gascoyne area and are designed to facilitate telehealth initiatives to give residents greater access to specialists in Perth.

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

aerial view of new Carnarvon residential care facility being built

The new Carnarvon residential care facility aims to be culturally welcoming. Image source: National Indigenous Times.

WA Trachoma Storybook

The Western Australian trachoma storybook showcases the health promotion and environmental health projects in remote communities to prevent and reduce trachoma. It is an output of the Environmental Health Trachoma Project. which aims to reduce the incidence of trachoma and skin infections in ‘trachoma at risk’ Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities in remote WA. Australia is the only developed country that has endemic trachoma. Almost all cases of trachoma are detected in remote Aboriginal communities. This first edition of the Western Australian trachoma storybook was funded by the WA Country Health Service and launched in Geraldton, WA.

To access The West Australian Storybook – Celebrating & Sharing Good News Stories click here.close up photo of Aboriginal man's mouth, nose & bloodshot eyes - text 'The WA Trachoma Storybook - Celebrating & Sharing Good News Stories'

New process for job advertising

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

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


dice spelling JOBS resting on keyboard

National Pyjama Day

The Pyjama Foundation was founded in 2004 to give children in foster care the opportunity to change the direction of their lives with learning, life skills, and confidence. Alarmed at the statistics highlighting poor literacy and numeracy levels of children in care, and how this contributes to a lifetime of disadvantage, founder Bronwyn Sheehan made the decision to offer hope and a more positive outlook for these children.

Through a simple program known as the Love of Learning Program, volunteers called Pyjama Angels are matched with a child in care, and spend just one hour a week focusing on learning based activities.

National Pyjama Day is all about wearing your favourite pyjamas to work or school (and everywhere in-between!) to help raise funds and awareness for children in foster care. This year, National Pyjama Day falls on Friday 23 July 2021 but you are welcome to host your day anytime throughout July-September. The aim of the day is to raise as much funds as possible for The Pyjama Foundation’s Love of Learning Program which is offered to children in foster care – Australia’s lowest performing educational group.

When you register your organisation for Pyjama Day, you will receive a FREE host kit – including: posters, balloons, bunting, stickers and so much more! It doesn’t cost a cent to register; we just ask that all organisations raise funds (every cent counts!).

For more information about National Pyjama Day click here. You can view a short video featuring a participant of Love of Learning Program below.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: We need to work together across the community on vaccine rollout: ACOSS

We need to work together across the community on vaccine rollout: ACOSS

ACOSS welcomes the support of business groups on the vaccine roll out and is looking forward to engaging with the vaccine taskforce on the community sector’s crucial role, along with other key stakeholders, such as the union movement.

Australian Council of Social Service CEO Dr Cassandra Goldie said: “Government needs to go beyond working with the business community on the vaccine roll out and there is support from the community sector, unions and business leaders to all work together. Community services are on the ground helping people to understand how they can access vaccines. We need to see community sector leaders also empowered and resourced to communicate clear messages to the people their services support, especially people facing poverty and disadvantage.

“Communities across the country need to be hearing about the vaccination roll-out from local leaders who they trust, for example, from First Nations leaders and culturally diverse leaders,” Dr Goldie said.

CEO of the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation, Pat Turner, said: “When First Nations leaders get vaccinated it really helps to encourage the rest of the community and I’ve seen great examples of that. First Nations leaders are absolutely vital to the success of our vaccine roll out, with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people more susceptible to the virus. First Nations health leaders have done an exceptional job keeping our people safe from the virus, particularly in remote areas, and their experience and relationships are also crucial on the vaccine front.”

To read the full media release by ACOSS click here.

AIHA partners with Northern Rivers ACCHOs

A new Indigenous Allied Health Australia Ltd (IAHA) National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Academy in Lismore is aiming to support education and increase career opportunities in the health and social assistance sectors, thanks to a new partnership between IAHA, the Northern NSW Local Health District (NNSWLHD) and local Aboriginal Medical Services.

IAHA National Academy will give Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students in Year 11 and 12 in the Northern Rivers region the opportunity to complete a school based traineeship undertaking a nationally recognised Certificate III in Allied Health Assistance (HLT33015) qualification through TAFE NSW.

The partnership will build on existing relationships and also strengthen local health workforce development strategies, including paid employment for school-based trainees, mentoring, leadership development and career planning. Pathway options for students range from gaining employment in the health field, to continuing study with partner organisations, including Bulgarr Ngaru Medical Aboriginal Corporation, Rekindling the Spirit Aboriginal Medical Service, Bullinah Aboriginal Medical Service, Northern NSW Local Health District, TAFE NSW and Southern Cross University.

Donna Murray, IAHA Chief Executive Officer, said: “The IAHA national academy program has been developed with community and is Aboriginal-led, providing a culturally safe and responsive holistic approach to education, training and employment at the local level. To date, many of the graduates are first in family to complete year 12, and graduates have transitioned successfully into further education, and employment across the health and related sectors.”

Kirsty Glanville, NNSWLHD Associate Director Aboriginal Health said the Academy in Northern Rivers is unique to others around the country, being the first to have direct engagement with the Aboriginal Community Controlled sector. “This partnership highlights the very important role Aboriginal Medical Services provide in our communities in improving the health outcomes for Aboriginal communities and empowering people to take an active role in their health journey,” Ms Glanville said.

To view the full AIHA article click here.Indigenous Allied Health Australian IAHA logo

A related news article describes the near doubly of the proportion of Western Sydney Local Health District (WSLHD) staff who identify as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander in the past two years as the district takes steps to remove historical barriers and create new opportunities. WSLHD is currently working on a partnership with IAHA in providing Year 11 and Year 12 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students the opportunity to complete a nationally recognised Certificate III in Allied Health Assistance qualification through TAFE NSW.

To view the full article in The Pulse click here.

Cleaners Codie Fuller, porter Darrin Smith and cleaner Jade Hookey - general services team at Westmead Hospital i

Cleaners Codie Fuller, porter Darrin Smith and cleaner Jade Hookey were among 15 new Aboriginal staff to join the general services team at Westmead Hospital in March this year. Image source: The PULSE.

Mainstream health model ignores connection to Country

Associate Professor Luke Burchill from the University of Melbourne has written an article called Healing Country in which he says the theme for NAIDOC 2021: Health Country! comes at an important time when Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are calling for greater protection of their lands, waters and sacred sites, “In the past year alone, we have observed repeated failures to protect sites that are sacred to our communities; the destruction of 46,000-year-old caves at Juukan Gorge in WA, the removal of the Kuyan ancient eel rock formation at Lake Bolac and the felling of sacred Djab Wurrung trees in Western Victoria.”

“This devastation is not only physical. For Aboriginal people, the impact is emotional, cultural and spiritual – directly affecting mental health, family and community wellbeing. Country is the place from which we come and to which we will return. Country sustains us culturally, physically, linguistically, spiritually and emotionally. As custodians of the land, it is our duty to protect Country. With climate change our Country is hurting and so are we.”

Having worked in Australia’s mainstream health care system, Professor Burchill said he can say that connection to Country is not included when assessing someone’s health and wellbeing. The mainstream model is one of risk factors, lifestyle choices and genetic factors that underpin a condition or health outcome. The problem here is that when drawn entirely from a Western perspective this point of view fails to capture Indigenous dimensions of wellbeing including the importance of connectedness to family, community and Country for social, emotional and spiritual wellbeing. For these connections to be strong, we need to live our lives free of racism.

To read Professor Burchill’s article in full click here.

The Juukan Gorge rock shelters in WA. Picture: AAP/Supplied by PKKP and PKKP Aboriginal Corporation.

Yarning Up After Stroke wins funding

A program designed to empower Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living with stroke to take control of their stroke recovery has won Federal Government funding of almost $500,000. This program arises from the Yarning Up After Stroke collaborative project co-led by Tamworth Aboriginal communities, Professor Chris Levi and Dr Heidi Janssen of Hunter New England Local Health District (NSW) and University of Newcastle. Dr Janssen was initially given a funding kick start by the Stroke Foundation, and this proof-of-concept work has now secured a significant grant through the Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF).

The funding commitment to Yarning Up After Stroke is timely as NAIDOC Week gets underway. This year’s NAIDOC Week theme is Heal Country! and aims to raise awareness and promote greater understanding of the need to protect the traditional lands, waters, sacred sites and cultural heritage of First Nations communities.

The Yarning up After Stroke team’s approach uses ‘yarning’, which is a culturally respectful, conversational way to learn, listen, share and receive information. In Aboriginal culture Yarning Circles are safe spaces in which everyone can have a say. Stroke Foundation Chief Executive Sharon McGowan said she is immensely pleased to see Yarning Up After Stroke secure the additional funding grant, “Introducing stroke recovery support services which use tools already embraced by Indigenous cultures, offers a more relatable way forward and are therefore likely to be more successful.”

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

stroke survivor Bill Toomey in wheelchair with Carol Toomey crouching down behind him with her left arm across his chest

Coral and Bill Toomey, a stroke survivor. Photo: Gareth Gardner. Image source: The Northern Daily Leader.

AMA welcomes COVID-19 national roadmap

The Australian Medical Association (AMA) welcomes the leadership shown by National Cabinet in the release of the national roadmap allowing Australia to open up in a safe and sustainable way. AMA President, Dr Omar Khorshid said it was important that any plan be based on science, and this plan is to be based on modelling of a Delta outbreak on a vaccinated community.

“The AMA has repeatedly called for consistency in responses across the nation – including in our May Communique Prepare Australia before opening up to the world and National Cabinet’s plan will move us towards that goal,” he said. “We need a clear vision, as a community, on how to live in a world where COVID will continue to exist. This plan, with four stages, recognises the important fact that our road out of this crisis is vaccination. Of that there is no doubt.”

To view the AMA’s media release click here.

PM Scott Morrison at lecturn with Roadmap to COVIDSafe Australia on screen in background

Image source: Daily Mail Australia website.

MedicineWise app

NAIDOC Week celebrates the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. NAIDOC is celebrated not only in Indigenous communities, but by Australians from all walks of life. This year’s NAIDOC Week theme is Heal Country! – calling for stronger measures to recognise, protect, and maintain all aspects of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture and heritage.

This week is a great opportunity to participate in a range of activities and to support your local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community.

Did you know? You can receive information specific to the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community members by following these steps in your MedicineWise app:

  1. Tap on your profile.
  2. Go to ‘Personal Details’ module.
  3. Scroll down to switch on the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander toggle(s) most appropriate to you

For further information visit the NPS MedicineWise website here.

Australia’s Chernobyl – Maralinga

For tens of thousands of years, the Aṉangu people lived on the warm, red earth of their country. The land provided them with food, water and shelter as they travelled around an area we now know as outback Far North SA.

But after colonisation, they were moved off their land: forcibly removed, sent into missions across the region and displaced by train lines linking Australia’s east and west that impacted their water supply. In 1984, the SA government handed much of the land back to its traditional owners. But by this point, parts of it were uninhabitable because of British nuclear testing.

The theme of NAIDOC Week 2021 is Heal Country! but much of the Aṉangu lands in and around Maralinga are beyond healing. Glen Wingfield, whose mother Eileen Wani Wingfield co-founded the Coober Pedy Women’s Council to campaign against a government proposal in the 1990s for a nuclear waste dump on their lands, said “A lot of the Aboriginal communities that live in and around that area, they just will not and do not go back near that country. I think that’s a word, healing, that we can’t use in the same sentence with that area.” There are parts of the area that will be uninhabitable for a quarter of a million years.

To view the full article click here.

photo of sign in desert landscape with text 'Former Maralinga Nuclear Test Stie. This land is part of the Maralinga Tjarutja Lands' etc.

Image source: Mamamia website.

BRAMS June newsletter

Broom Regional Aboriginal Medical Service have released the June 2021 edition of their newsletter. This edition includes articles on World No Tobacco Month, the Yawardani Jan-Ga program and the Social and Emotional Wellbeing Men’s and Women’s Groups.

To access the BRAMS Newsletter click here.banner BRAMS NEWSLETTER June 2021

Road accident survivor CTP experience study

A new partnership between Griffith University and the Motor Accident Insurance Commission (MAIC) will examine the experiences of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders injured in road accidents and their interactions with the Compulsory Third Party (CTP) scheme.

The Hopkins Centre’s Dr Leda Barnett, assisted by Griffith University PhD candidate Andrew Gall, will lead the three year study, funded by a $460,000 MAIC grant and supported by partnerships with Griffith’s Indigenous Research Unit (IRU), Synapse and the Institute for Urban Indigenous Health (IUIH).

“Indigenous Australians living in Queensland are up to six times more likely to be involved in a motor vehicle accident than a non-Indigenous citizen, but also 1.4 times more likely to be seriously injured, and 2.9 times more likely to die in an accident,” Dr Barnett said. The research will examine the factors that influence Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to engage with the CTP scheme following a motor vehicle accident, the nature of their experience and ways in which the scheme could better align with their requirements.”

To view the full Griffith News article click here.

4 Aboriginal young adults around outside table, blurred greenery in the background

Griffith researchers will consult with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Queensland to better understand their experiences with the Compulsory Third Party scheme. Image source: Griffith News.

 

New process for job advertising

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: National housing response needed

feature tile text 'national response needed in supporting Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander housing & communities' & image of makeshift tent with blue tarp in Minyerri NT in dry scrub

National housing response needed

June Oscar AO, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner has written and opinion piece for The Australian for NAIDOC Week. Commissioner Oscar spoke about this year’s theme, ‘Heal Country!’, and the need for a national response to supporting First Nations Communities to live on country. Below is an excerpt from the opinion piece:

“For decades governments have chronically underinvested in remote housing, roads, sewerage, education, health and much more. At the beginning of the pandemic, in the rush to get our peoples home, already dangerously overcrowded communities struggled to accommodate the influx. Tents sprang up. Our peoples returning to community were largely experiencing homelessness and poverty – their lives on the margins a direct result of the fact there has never been enough housing, not in cities, towns, communities or anywhere.

The reason we continue to live in vulnerable and unacceptable conditions is because there is no national plan to enable our people to live on or easily access our lands. In 2014, with commonwealth funding cuts, the WA government announced it would close more than half the remote communities in the state. The state government said it couldn’t shoulder the costs and has maintained this position. This is not unique to WA. In 2018 the commonwealth’s remote housing agreement with the states came to an end, with only an exit payment, and nothing else arranged for WA, SA and Queensland. It shows the disregard of governments at all levels to invest effectively in places where we live.

The real cost of the commonwealth walking away from these agreements, and all governments failing to respond to our needs, is entrenched human suffering, abuse and a deep scarring of this land. Enough is enough. The urgency of these issues demands immediate action by the commonwealth in partnership with all Australian governments and most importantly with First Nations peoples.”

To read the opinion piece in full click here.

makeshift housing on edge of Tennant Creek, NT

Tennant Creek traditional owner Diane Stokes lives on her block as an alternative to staying in an overcrowded family house. Photo: Jane Bardon. Image source: ABC News. Feature tile: Aboriginal community of Minyerri, NT. Image source: Welcome to Country website.

Trial could change type 2 diabetes treatment

NT GP Sam Heard sees the harm type 2 diabetes causes in Indigenous communities; in some places, up to 40% of the population is affected by the illness. “Dire might be a good word. The outcome for people getting diabetes when you are 40 is not good, and when you are very young it is terrible,” Dr Heard said. “If you tell an Aboriginal person that they have got diabetes, they are pretty devastated, and there is stigma involved. It is a really major disease that has implications for everybody — their family and their children.”

But Dr Heard is seeing some promising results in his patients who are trialling a low-calorie weight management program. “All of those have managed to stay on [the program] are very, very positive about it,” said Dr Heard,  who is the medical director at the Central Australian Aboriginal Congress (CAAC). “One 40-year-old fella describing it to a large group of Aboriginal people at a meeting got a standing ovation, and they could see the difference in his whole demeanour and how much weight he had lost.”

To view the article in full click here.

Aboriginal person's hands doing blood sugar test

Image source: The Medical Journal of Australia website.

COVID-19 assets for mob

The Australian Government Department of Health have developed a pack of COVID-19 resources tailored to an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander audience. The pack includes suggested social tiles and captions, two posters and a community announcement radio script, reminding everyone on the importance of keeping two big steps away from others, washing hands regularly, getting tested if you’re unwell, and following state and territory guidelines and restrictions.

You are welcome to use these assets as you see fit and adapt to your local requirements.

To view the range of resources click here.

tile with Jade North image & quote "If you're feeling sick, please stay away from others." Australian Governet #keepourmobsafe Australia.gov.au Coronavirus (COVID-19), image of Jade North playing soccer, border Aboriginal dot painting

One of the #keepourmobsafe COVID-19 resources.

Community sector climate justice webinar

On 12 July 2021 ACOSS is launching its Climate Campaign to build the capacity of the community sector to act on climate justice. ACOSS is calling on the Federal Government to commit to an ambitious net zero emissions reduction target, which is the first step to tackling the injustice being done to vulnerable people as a result of climate inaction.

You can join community sector leaders including NACCHO CEO Pat Turner, NACCHO CEO, and climate experts at the Climate Campaign Webinar to discuss what your organisation can do to address climate change. You will hear from experts on the science and human impacts of climate change and learn from community climate leaders whose organisations have taken action on the issue.

ACOSS CEO Cassandra Goldie will share how community organisations can take part in the community sector push for climate justice in the leadup to the November UN Climate Summit.

The webinar will take place on Zoom from 1–3pm on Monday 12 July 2021.

Registrations close 5pm Friday 9 July 2021 – to register click here.

banner text 'ACOSS Climate Campaign Webinar - empowering the community sector to take action on clime justice' image of man in checked shirt with face mask, background thick bushfire smoke

Lowering heart disease risk resources

Are you at risk of heart disease? Preventing heart disease starts with knowing your risk factors and making changes to live a healthier life. The Heart Foundation has a range of support and resources to help Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples stay healthy and reduce the risk of heart disease. You can access the Heart Foundation’s information and resources here.

Aboriginal woman in outdoor setting using weight resistant exercise equipment

Image source: The Heart Foundation.

Infectious disease ‘surveillance network’

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people will benefit from the expansion of a University of Queensland-led health project aimed at improving clinical care within primary health care services nationally. The Improving surveillance infrastructure for Indigenous primary health care project will expand an existing online surveillance network (named ATLAS) focussed on sexually transmissible infections (STIs) and blood-borne viruses (BBVs), thanks to federal funding.

STIs and BBVs are endemic in many remote and regional communities in Australia, with STIs identified as the leading incident morbidity for Aboriginal people aged 15–24 years. UQ Poche Centre for Indigenous Health director Professor James Ward said he welcomed the funding to deliver the largest connected Indigenous primary care surveillance network in Australia.

“As a Pitjantjatjara and Nukunu man and an infectious diseases epidemiologist, this is an exciting opportunity to significantly develop our work in this sector,” Professor Ward said. “Our aim is to grow the size of the ATLAS network by including more primary health care services within the network especially Aboriginal Community-Controlled Health Organisations (ACCHOs). In addition, the new funding will enable the ATLAS surveillance system to extend to include other infectious diseases such as vaccine preventable diseases within the scope of the ATLAS network.”

To view the full article click here.

light blue background with 3 clay brightly coloured sculptures of STI cells

Image source: 1800 my options website.

First Nations to inform national plan

The federal government has established a 13-member Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Advisory Council to inform the development of the next National Plan to end family, domestic and sexual violence in Australia and support the implementation of the Closing the Gap Target 13.

Indigenous rights campaigner Professor Sandra Creamer will be the interim chair of the multidisciplinary Advisory Council and be joined by advisors from across the health, community services, legal services, children and family services, and university sectors. Minister for Women’s Safety Anne Ruston said the Advisory Council would help ensure the issues and challenges facing First Nations peoples were elevated and given specific focus in the next National Plan.

To view the media release click here.

young boy holding ripped piece of paper with the work HELP in front of face

Image source: Monash University LENS website.

New process for job advertising

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

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

dice spelling JOBS resting on keyboard

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

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

Reclaiming the right to give birth on Country

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

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

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

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

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

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

Study tracks lives of preterm babies

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

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

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

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

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

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

Australia’s poor human rights results

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

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

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

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

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

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

Charity status changes – a public health hazard

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

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

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

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

Image source: First Peoples Disability Network website.

Indigenous health checks and follow-ups

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

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

To view the AIHW report click here.

Comedian Sean Choolburra receiving one part of his 715 health check

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

Access to Aged Care medicines programs expanded

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

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

blue multiple pill holder each compartment with 6 different coloured tablets

Image source: iStock.

New process for job advertising

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

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

NAIDOC Week 2021 – 4–11 July

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

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Protect our people who give us knowledge to Heal Country, heal our nation!

feature tile 2.7.21 text 'protect our people who give us the knowledge to Heal Country, heal our nation.' image of NACCHO Chair Donnella Mills in light pink top & gold chair with hand against shoulder where she has had the covid-19 vaccine

Protect our people who give us knowledge to Heal Country, heal our nation!

NACCHO Chair Donnella Mills says NAIDOC Week 2021 calls upon all of us to continue to seek greater protection for our lands, our Elders, our people, and safeguard our culture.

“The health of Country, and the health of First Nation’s people, is firmly bound together. Country is family, kin, law, lore, ceremony, traditions, and language. After 250 years of dispossession and dislocation, traditional connection to Country and knowledge of Country is precarious. So much rests in the hands and minds of our Elders, our living national treasures. Right now, we have to protect the people who give us the knowledge to heal Country.”

“We have shown the world what can be done to keep First Nations peoples safe during a global pandemic. In the USA, the Navajo had the highest death rate of any ethnic population. In Australia, not one Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander person has died from COVID-19. That is because the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health sector and Governments are working together to protect our most vulnerable families and communities. Our sector should be proud. Indeed, the pandemic is not yet defeated, but at least recent gains have positioned us well and we can afford a little time to reflect on what we have achieved.”

“We have a new challenge and that is to urgently vaccinate our people!”

To view the media statement from NACCHO Chair Donnella Mills click here.

You can also watch Donnella talk about the COVID-19 vaccination in the short video below.

Remote NT community almost fully vaccinated

Tarna Andrews was scared of getting the needle. So scared that last month she visited her local clinic, sat down in the waiting room, and left before she could be seen. “I walked out because I had been speaking to some of my family, they were scared,” she said.  “Now I’ve had the needle, I’m safe and happy now.”

Ms Andrews, a Pitjantjatjara teacher in Utju, 200 kms from Alice Springs, is one of many in her community who have had their first dose of the jab despite months of vaccine scepticism. Central Australian Aboriginal Congress (CAAC), who runs the clinic there, said that almost everyone who was eligible in the remote community had been vaccinated, bucking a trend of vaccine scepticism among remote residents in the NT.

Fellow resident and a community worker for Congress, Frank Dixon, said word of mouth had helped reverse the tides of concern he was fielding in his community. “People started talking, gathering families and friends together to talk about it — people felt safe,” he said.

The vaccination rate in Utju is the envy of Congress’s four other remote clinics, especially as Alice Springs heads into lockdown. CAAC CEO Ms Ah Chee said the organisation hoped more people, especially in remote communities where there is a high burden of disease, would want to get the jab as a result of the recent cluster, “This is a timely reminder, we’ve been lucky for the last 18 months and it’s here. It’s not going away,”

To view the full article click here.

Aboriginal woman Tarna Andrews from Utju, sitting outside, red dust, couple of camp dogs, yellow black beanie, black t-shirt, pink t-shirt, red grey hoodie, orange glasses on top of head

Tarna Andres is encouraging family members in other remote communities to get vaccinated. Photo: Samantha Jonscher, ABC Alice Springs. Image source: ABC News website.

COVID-19 and remote communities

NACCHO CEO Pat Turner was on the panel of the ABC television program The Drum last night. Pat Turner spoke on a range of issues saying “Aboriginal communities will continue to suffer and be among the most vulnerable with every new pandemic unless we fix up the living environments and the housing of Aboriginal people. We will not close the gap without addressing these issues.” You can watch this edition of The Drum here.

screenshot of frame from ABC The Drum Pat Turner CEO NACCHO talking

Pat Turner, CEO NACCHO, The Drum 1 July 2021.

Rough sleepers ‘completely neglected’

Aboriginal organisations have expressed frustration at the NT government’s “flawed” pandemic response, demanding it do more to accommodate hundreds of Aboriginal people sleeping rough around town centres they say are at risk of COVID-19. Both Darwin and Alice Springs were in lockdown amid concerns about the significant risk posed to Aboriginal communities.

The CEO of the Danila Dilba Aboriginal Health Service, Olga Havnen said the lack of support for homeless people created a “ridiculous situation”. “The pandemic response plan doesn’t include any provision for housing people who may be homeless or visitors to town,” Havnen said. “Here we are on day four of a lockdown, and they’re only just sorting out the arrangements that might be made available for Aboriginal people, particularly visitors and rough sleepers who might need a COVID-19 test, and who will need to self-isolate.” “Who else in the community gets so studiously ignored under these sorts of circumstances? It’s either gross incompetence, maladministration or straight out racism. Or probably, a combination of all three,” Havnen said.

Danila Dilba, Yilli Aboriginal housing, AMSANT (the Aboriginal medical services of the NT) and NAAJA (the Aboriginal legal service) jointly called on the NT government to “get people off the streets today”. “Rough sleepers are among the most vulnerable people in our community, many of them have not been vaccinated, and the NT government’s pandemic response plan has completely neglected them,” the CEO of AMSANT, John Paterson, said.

To view the full article in The Guardian click here.

4 Aboriginal men with masks walking along Smith Street, Darwin

People wearing masks in Smith Street, Darwin. Image source: The Guardian.

Calls for increased FIFO COVID-19 testing

Mining sites that operate near “vulnerable” remote Aboriginal communities and rely on FIFO workers need to regularly test staff for COVID-19, insist peak health groups.

NACCO CEO Pat Turner said people should be immediately isolated and given a rapid COVID-19 test when they arrived on site and workers should only be allowed to mingle after returning a negative result. “Every mining site that is in reasonable proximity to remote Aboriginal communities or in regional towns where there are lots of Aboriginal people should have mandatory COVID-19 testing for all workers returning to the site,” Ms Turner said. “This should be standard practice.” Ms Turner said workers should be re-tested in a week or two in case they were incubating the virus or became infected by a co-worker while on site.

Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance NT CEO John Paterson agreed. “Mining companies should have permanently employed physicians on-site that check [workers] in when they get in and check them out on the way out,” he said. “It’s critical that we do as much testing as possible especially when it comes to a lot of people doing a lot of travel. To view the full article click here.

Annual health check resources

The Australian Government Department of Health have a collection of resources, including videos, podcasts and print resources about the free annual health check for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. To access the resource collection click here.

cover of brochure text 'patient information your health is in your hands - have you had your 715 health check?' photo of Aboriginal woman holding toddler & health worker in outdoor setting, purple, aqua, black colours, Aboriginal & Torres Strait flags

DoH Your health is in your hands brochure.

Importance of cultural strengths in suicide prevention

Suicide deaths among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people continue to increase and are an unrelenting tragedy for families and communities. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander (Indigenous) people take their own lives at twice the rate of other Australians. Suicide is the second leading cause of death among Indigenous males (vs 10th non-Indigenous) and the seventh leading cause of death for Indigenous females (vs 23rd non-Indigenous).

Suicide rates peak disproportionately young for Indigenous people; the median age for the suicide death of an Indigenous person is 29, while suicide accounts for one-third of all deaths of Indigenous children aged 5 to 17 years, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), and is the largest cause of Indigenous child deaths. Overall, the same ABS figures show the Indigenous suicide rate increased from 21.3 to 24.6 per 100,000 people between the first and second halves of the decade from 2010-2019; by 2019 it had risen to 27.1 per 100,000.

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Evaluation Project (ATSISPEP) has established a connection between suicide and experiences of colonisation, structural racism and continuing social and economic disadvantage.

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

metal wall with large painting of Aboriginal man's face in black, yellow & red colours in pop art style

Image source: Australian Human Rights Commission website.

APY Lands key mental health service faces cuts

Some of Australia’s most vulnerable Aboriginal communities are worried they could be left without permanent on-country mental health staff for young people, despite nearly 1,000 reports of child abuse being made in the region in the past two years. Documents obtained by the ABC under Freedom of Information laws show that 947 allegations of child abuse were recorded by SA’s Department for Child Protection for the area covering the remote Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) Lands between 2018 and 2020.

A report tabled in the SA Parliament covering part of that same period said that “80% of children in the APY Lands have exposure to or continue to experience problem sexual behaviour”. Despite these numbers, elders and SA’s opposition are concerned that a review of the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) APY will reduce services to communities in need.

To view the full article click here.

aerial view of APY Lands community Amata, red dust, approx 60 houses, dirt playing field, mountains in the distance

At the last census in 2016, there were 742 children aged under 19 living on the APY Lands communities like Amata. Photo: Carl Saville, ABC News. Image source: ABC News website.

New process for job advertising

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

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

NAIDOC Week 4–11 July 2021

The NAIDOC 2021 theme – Heal Country! – calls for all of us to continue to seek greater protections for our lands, our waters, our sacred sites and our cultural heritage from exploitation, desecration, and destruction. Country that is more than a place and inherent to our identity. Country that we speak about like a person, sustaining our lives in every aspect – spiritually, physically, emotionally, socially, and culturally.

NAIDOC 2021 invites the nation to embrace First Nations’ cultural knowledge and understanding of Country as part of Australia’s national heritage and equally respect the culture and values of Aboriginal peoples and Torres Strait Islanders as they do the cultures and values of all Australians. For generations we have been calling for stronger measures to recognise, protect, and maintain all aspects of our culture and heritage. We are still waiting for those robust protections.

This year’s theme also seeks substantive institutional, structural, and collaborative reform – something generations of our Elders and communities have been advocating, marching and fighting for. Healing Country means finally resolving many of the outstanding injustices which impact on the lives of our people. It is about hearing and actioning the aspirations of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples which are the culmination of generations of consultation and discussions among our nations on a range of issues and grievances.

After 250 years, our children and our future generations deserve better. We cannot afford to let pass the very real opportunity that now presents itself for reform based on a fundamental change in the relationship Australia has with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

NAIDOC Week 2021 will be held from Sunday 4 July to Sunday 11 July 2021. For more information click here.

banner text 'Heal Country! 4–11 JULY 2021' & NAIDOC logo black circle with red yellow green blue Aboriginal dot painting overlaid with white circle & 2 boomerang shapes, one for the arms & one for the legs, text around inner rim of circle 'Celebrating NAIDOC Week'