NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Mob think they’re immune, they’re not

Mob think they’re immune, they’re not

The full lockdown of remote Aboriginal communities during the first wave of the pandemic was “too successful” and now many Indigenous people believe COVID-19 will never reach them, according to evidence to a select committee on Australia‘s response to the virus.

Pat Turner, who represents Aboriginal health clinics across Australia as head of NACCHO, has offered the most comprehensive explanation yet for why so few Indigenous Australians are vaccinated against COVID-19. Ms Turner told the select committee she was deeply concerned about the consequences for Indigenous Australians when the nation opened up because only 37% of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population over the age of 12 was fully vaccinated. Only 50% had received one dose. Aboriginal people had died at twice the rate of non-Aboriginal Australians during the Delta outbreak in NSW and Victoria, Ms Turner said. Up until 16 June only 153 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people had contracted COVID-19 and none of them had died.

However, since the outbreak of the Delta strain in NSW and Victoria, more than 4,500 Indigenous people had tested positive to COVID-19, more than 500 of them have required hospitalisation and 10 had died. Ms Turner said this was entirely predictable given that higher proportions of Indigenous people are susceptible to falling seriously ill and dying from Covid-19 because they have developed chronic disease early in life. Also, one in eight Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people live in overcrowded housing which helps the virus spread. Overcrowding is far worse in regional and remote areas, she told the select committee. Ms Turner said her organisation had told parliament in July last year that if COVID-19 got into the far western community of Wilcannia it would be impossible to contain, and that is what happened.

Ms Turner said, vaccine hesitancy and misinformation were causing big problems in Aboriginal communities in WA, the NT, SA  and Queensland. Health workers were now going door to door to answer Aboriginal people‘s questions about the vaccines. While there, they vaccinate those who are willing. “They think it‘s not going to get there, so we are increasing our advice to them about how rapidly it spread from greater Sydney to Wilcannia,” Ms Turner told the select committee. She said states and the NT must organise contingency plans for Aboriginal communities. She said locking down remote communities at the start of the pandemic was successful but it would not work once Australia opened its borders. “I think we were too successful (during the first lockdowns of remote Aboriginal communities),” Ms Turner said. “They think they‘re immune to COVID-19, but they’re not.”

To view the full article in The Australian click here.

Pat Turner AM. Image source: National Indigenous Times.

VACCHO launches medical cadet program

VACCHO has launched a new and innovative Aboriginal Medical Cadet Program. A first for VACCHO, the specialised program offers a life-changing opportunity through the two-year Medical Cadetship for a number of medical students from Victoria. It will see cadets develop their skills and knowledge by gaining hands-on experience in a real-life setting working as highly valued contributing member of an Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (ACCHO).

VACCHO CEO Jill Gallagher AO says the Aboriginal Medical Cadet Program presents an exciting and unique opportunity for members, the cadets, and most importantly community. “Over the last 18 months we have seen ACCHOs play a critical role in the protection of our community against COVID – and this cadet program will be instrumental in inspiring the next generation of medical practitioners in this sector.”

Ms Monica Barolits-McCabe, CEO, Australian Indigenous Doctors’ Association (AIDA) has also welcomed the program. “This program will encourage more Indigenous medical students to return to work in the ACCHO sector when they graduate as doctors. Aboriginal community controlled health services understand the comprehensive needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients and Indigenous doctors’ unique medico-cultural skills can complement those services very effectively.”

Applications for the Aboriginal Medical Cadet Program are now open and will close on Sunday 24 October 2021.

To view VACCHO’s media release, including details on how to submit an application for the Aboriginal Medical Cadet Program click here.

Gayaa Dhuwi suicide prevention strategy

Gayaa Dhuwi (Proud Spirit) Australia is inviting you to attend the virtual launch of the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Strategy 2021-2031 on Friday 22 October 2021 at 3:00pm AEDT.

In early 2020, the Commonwealth Government tasked Gayaa Dhuwi (Proud Spirit) Australia to renew the 2013 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Strategy. Extensive consultation with governments, stakeholders and community members over the past 12 months contributed to the renewed National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Strategy 2021-2031.

To attend the launch, please register here.

tile text 'National A&TSI suicide prevention strategy 2021-2031 virtual launch Frid 22 October 2021 3:00 PM AEDT' with Aboriginal dot art border in black, yellow, white, orange

It’s in our cultures to protect each other

Nayuka Gorrie, a Kurnai/Gunai, Gunditjmara, Wiradjuri and Yorta Yorta freelance writer. has written an article Why vaccination presents an ethical dilemma for us, but remains the best way to keep our families safe.

In writing about getting the COVID-19 vaccine Nayuka says “So much is uncertain but what I do know is: I am surrounded by people who would become very sick and possibly die if they got COVID-19 and I’m not sure how I would live carrying that guilt. I also trust our community health services who are trying their best to keep us alive and well in a hostile colony.”

“I wrote to a friend a few weeks ago who was watching Covid-19 sweep its way across her Gomeroi country. I wrote that the way our community cares for each other is our greatest strength right now. Where white culture leaves their most vulnerable behind, it is in our cultures to protect each other to ensure our survival. Right now, with the information we have, we are all we have to keep each other safe.”

To view the story in IndigenousX in full click here.

vector images of covid-19 vax & diagram of people in circles linked to other people

Image source: IndigenousX.

Role of AHWs in administering vax

The COVID-19 pandemic has devastated communities throughout the world and has required rapid paradigm changes in the manner in which health care is administered.

Previous health models and practices have been modified and changed at a rapid pace. The Rural and Remote Health section of James Cook University has published a paper detailing the experiences of a regional Victorian ACCHO in a COVID-19 vaccination program led and managed by Aboriginal Health Practitioners.

To view the paper in full click here.

Image source: The Medical Journal of Australia.

RHIF funding for VIC ACCHOs

The Regional Health Infrastructure Fund (RHIF) provides government funding to rural and regional health services and agencies across Victoria so these services can continue to provide safe and efficient care to local communities.

Established in 2016, the $490 million fund is the largest program of its type in Victoria and was created to improve:

  • safety and quality of services
  • enhance service capacity
  • efficient models of care
  • patient and staff amenity
  • service efficiency.

Seventy-nine health services will share $120 million in funding from the fifth round of the Regional Health Infrastructure Fund (RHIF), including ACCHOs Bendigo and District Aboriginal Co-operative Ltd and Gunditjmara Aboriginal Co-operative Limited. You can see the full recipient listing here.

Gunditjmara Aboriginal Co-operative will also receive over $35,000 through the Supporting Carers Locally Grants Program. This program provides opportunities for carers to be physically and mentally healthy and connect with family, friends, other carers and their local community – whether through accessible peer support, grassroots community support programs or tailored resources. To view an article about this grant click here.

Suicide and self-harm monitoring website

The latest AIHW release Suicide and Self-harm monitoring website (new ambulance attendance data and social factors and deaths by suicide modelling) is now This release includes new data relating to: ambulance attendances for suicide attempts, suicidal ideation, and self-injury, and a modelling study on the association between socioeconomic factors and deaths by suicide using the MADIP linked data asset.

The reporting of suicide and self-harm statistics and information on the AIHW website represents only one part of the National Suicide and Self-harm Monitoring Project. The web-based format for Suicide and self-harm monitoring includes interactive data visualisations and geospatial mapping to illustrate and explore the statistics as well as text to assist with their interpretation and clarification of the limitations of the data.

To view the media release in full click here.

Draft PHC 10 Year Plan opens for consultation

The Australian government is calling for stakeholder input following the opening of the consultation period for the draft Primary Health Care 10 Year Plan.

The focus of the 10 Year Plan is on Australia’s primary health care (PHC) services provided through general practices, Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations (ACCHOs), community pharmacies, allied health services, mental health services, community health and community nursing services and dental and oral health services. The Plan also focuses on the integration of PHC with hospitals and other parts of the health system, aged care, disability care and social care systems.

You can now provide feedback on the draft plan, and individuals and organisations with an interest in primary health care and what a future focused system can deliver for all Australians are encouraged to share their views.  Written submissions can be provided until 11:59 PM Tuesday 9 November 2021 here.

For more information on the consultation process click here.

AMA Vice President Dr Chris Moy spoke on Channel 10 talking about the PHC 10-Year Plan. To view a transcript of the Dr Moy’s interview click here.

Danila Dilba health worker checking child's ear

Image source: RTR FM92.1 website.

Outback Stores lead way on vax

As the Delta strain of COVID-19 continues to threaten remote communities, Outback Stores recognises that being vaccinated is one of the key contributing factors to saving lives and reducing the likelihood of spreading the virus to others.

The company’s CEO, Michael Borg, acknowledges the importance and understands the crucial role the company can play in safeguarding the health of customers and employees in the 44 retail sites for which Outback Stores manages on behalf of their owners. “In the anticipation of vaccinations becoming mandated, Outback Stores has been working for some time towards 100% vaccination of its front-line employees,” Mr Borg said. “We currently have 109 team members either based in or visiting remote communities regularly, and I can report that they are all double-vaccinated.”

To view the Outback Stores media release in full click here.

6 Ngukurr Outback Stores staff with certificates standing in front of wall refrigerators

Outback Stores Ngukurr store workers.

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.

Global Handwashing Day

Today, 15 October 2021 is Global Handwashing Day, a global advocacy day dedicated to increasing awareness and understanding about the importance of handwashing with soap as an effective and affordable way to prevent diseases and save lives. It is an opportunity to design, test and replicate creative ways to encourage people to wash their hands with soap at critical times.

This unprecedented time provides a unique impetus to institutionalise hand hygiene as a fundamental component of health and safety. The learnings from the past year have emphasised the need for collective action to address the historic neglect of hand hygiene investments, policies, and programs once and for all. This year’s theme, Our Future is at Hand – Let’s Move Forward Together calls for coordinated action as we actively work toward universal hand hygiene.

A example of a creative way in the ACCHO sector of encouraging handwashing is the No germs on me: A social marketing campaign to promote hand-washing with soap in remote Australian Aboriginal communities. This social marketing campaign promoting handwashing with soap was implemented to reduce the high burden of infection experienced by Australian Aboriginal children living in remote communities.

For more information about Global Handwashing Day click here and to view a paper on the No germs on me campaign click here.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Six-week blitz to boost vax rates in remote NT

Feature tile - Tue 28.9.21 - Six-week blitz to boost vax rates in remote NT

Six-week blitz to boost vax rates in remote NT

NT health authorities and Aboriginal organisations have embarked on remote blitzes to try and address vaccine hesitancy and boost rates in remote communities.

The Northern Land Council this week launched a series of campaign videos featuring local leaders and personalities to try and address misinformation posted online.

“We know our mob listen to their countrymen and women better than to any politician in a suit,” NLC chairman Samuel Bush-Blanasi said.

“That’s why we are working with strong Aboriginal leaders from right across the Top End on these films.”

The Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance NT is undertaking a six-week vaccination drive but has also called for restrictions to remain in place until 90-95 per cent of the Territory’s Aboriginal communities are vaccinated.

You can read the article in the ABC News here.

RFDS delivers more than 15,000 jabs at Wilcannia

Running 30 vaccination clinics at Wilcannia has helped the Royal Flying Doctor Service South Eastern Section (RFDSSE) reach a lifesaving milestone. This week it announced the delivery of more than 15,000 jabs to residents of regional and remote communities since June.

The Wilcannia clinics, operated by staff at the RFDSSE Broken Hill base in conjunction with the Far West Local Health District and Central Darling Shire Council, have protected almost 700 people against the deadly coronavirus. The town of about 800 people, 60 per cent of them Indigenous, has also benefitted from the presence of an RFDSSE doctor at its hospital.

RFDSSE Chief Medical Officer Randall Greenberg was among the medicos to work at the remote facility.

“With the number of COVID cases rising during late August we made the decision to make resources available to give the community peace of mind that help was on the ground. We continue to provide medical care through our emergency and primary health services,” he said.

You can read the article in the Daily Liberal here.

Royal Flying Doctor Service South Eastern Section nurse Caryn Love vaccinates James Hatch at Wanaaring. Image credit: Jason King Media.

Royal Flying Doctor Service South Eastern Section nurse Caryn Love vaccinates James Hatch at Wanaaring. Image credit: Jason King Media.

Cultural identification key to vaccinating mob

Most Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults are at risk of severe disease from COVID, but vaccine coverage requires patient identification. As Australia moves towards easing restrictions as states aim to reach vaccination targets, Professor Peter O’Mara, a Wiradjuri man and Chair of RACGP Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Faculty fears some communities may remain unvaccinated – and vulnerable.

“[NSW Premier] Gladys Berejiklian is saying that she’s going to open up at 70% double dosed and we’re rapidly approaching that. But if Aboriginal communities are only at 55%, given the cultural connections and the overcrowded living, it’s just going to be absolutely devastating,” he told newsGP.

“The saving grace is going to be getting the community vaccinated because the overcrowding situation in homes and that kind of stuff, we can’t solve that overnight. But in three weeks, we can solve the vaccine problem,” he said.

“I study pretty much every day because I want to be the best doctor I can. I’ve not seen an easier way to save lives than to do this,” Professor O’Mara said.

You can read the article in newsGP by RACGP here.

Professor Peter O’Mara, a Wiradjuri man and Chair of RACGP Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health, fears some communities may remain unvaccinated – and vulnerable. Image source: RACGP.

Professor Peter O’Mara, a Wiradjuri man and Chair of RACGP Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health, fears some communities may remain unvaccinated and vulnerable. Image source: RACGP.

Smaller residential aged care models beneficial

On the shores of a bay more than 500 kilometres from Darwin, a 10-bed age care facility is catering for a community of about 2,300 people. For Josephine Cooper it’s a secure home in an area grappling with overcrowding – and she is close to family.

“It’s good, we are happy here,” she said.

Lynelle Briggs, one of two people leading the Aged Care Royal Commission said:

“My vision is that, over time, large aged care ‘facilities’ will give way to smaller, more personal residential care accommodation, located within communities, towns and suburbs. Smaller, lower-density congregate living arrangements generally promote a better quality of life for everyone.”

Run by the Mala’la Health Service Aboriginal Corporation, the Maningrida centre also supports dozens of others in the community on home care packages. It’s a model staff and residents believe could benefit other remote communities.

You can read the article in the ABC News here.

Videos of mob who have gotten the COVID-19 vaccine

The Australian Government Department of Health has created a range of great videos of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people from all over Australia who have gotten the COVID-19 vaccine.

In the below video, Eastern Arrernte family, Catherine, Lily, Eddie and Shanley, explain their reasons on why they chose to get vaccinated and encourage us all to do the same.

Free dental services for NT kids and teenagers

Children and teenagers in the Northern Territory have a golden opportunity to boast the best smiles in the country with free dental services available to students enrolled in school under the age of 18.

Free services are available to children who are below school age or attending school or preschool via NT Health’s purpose built Casuarina Paediatric Clinic, school-based clinics or remote community clinics. The Casuarina Paediatric Dental Clinic provides ease of access for children of all ages with families able to bring along their toddler, primary school student and high school student for a dental check in the one visit.

All Territory children enrolled in school are also entitled to free custom-made mouthguards to protect their teeth during sport until they are 18 years old.

You can read the media release by the Northern Territory Government here.

10-year-old Jamal Van Den Berg Hammer gets his mouthguard fitted by NT Health Oral Health Therapist Lauren Cross.

10-year-old Jamal Van Den Berg Hammer gets his mouthguard fitted by NT Health Oral Health Therapist Lauren Cross.

Culturally appropriate gambling harm support in NSW

The Office of Responsible Gambling has awarded a four-and-a-half-year contract worth $1.3 million to NSW Aboriginal Safe Gambling Services, to provide support for First Nation communities across the state to access culturally appropriate gambling harm support services. Natalie Wright, Director of the Office of Responsible Gambling, said the new GambleAware Aboriginal is part of GambleAware’s recent reforms to strengthen connections between GambleAware Providers and Aboriginal communities.

“NSW Aboriginal Safe Gambling led by Ashley Gordon brings over 20 years’ experience in the delivery of services to Aboriginal communities along with a decade delivering the Warruwi gambling awareness program,” Ms Wright said.

“GambleAware is delivering gambling support and treatment services across 10 regions that are aligned with the NSW Local Health Districts. Each region has a GambleAware Provider dedicated to delivering local services to their area who will coordinate with NSW Aboriginal Safe Gambling to provide support to those who need it.”

You can read the media release here.

Winnunga News – August edition

In the August 2021 issue of Winnunga News:

  • COVID-19 Vaccinations Must Be Mandated For All AMC Prison Officers
  • Neville Bonner to be Immortalised in Bronze Statue in Parliamentary Triangle
  • Do You Remember When?
  • Cruel Figures Show Need For Royal Commission
  • ACT Grabbing National Headlines For All The Wrong Reasons
  • Aaron, Elijah and Aaron Jnr.
  • Is Canberra Really OK With This?
  • COVID-19 Update
  • Staff Profile

You can view the newsletter here.

Winnunga News - August 2021

 

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: Unvaccinated adult mob at risk of severe COVID-19 illness

Feature tile - Thu 23.9.21 - Unvaccinated adult mob at risk of severe COVID-19 illness

Two-thirds of First Nations Australian adults at risk of severe illness from COVID-19 if unvaccinated

Almost three-in-five Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults are at an elevated risk of developing severe illness from COVID-19 due to ongoing health inequities, found a major study undertaken by researchers and health practitioners at The Australian National University (ANU), the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO), the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) and the Lowitja Institute.

The study examined the prevalence of health factors like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer and smoking among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults, which all increase the risk of severe illness if an unvaccinated person gets COVID-19. It found 59 per cent of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults have these and other existing conditions that could increase the risk of needing intensive care admission, mechanical ventilation or death if they contract COVID-19 and are not vaccinated.

Dr Jason Agostino from ANU, and a medical advisor to NACCHO, said: “… there are almost 300,000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults who are at higher risk of getting very sick if they are not vaccinated and get COVID-19. This is why getting the vaccine is so important for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.”

Dr Janine Mohamed, CEO of the Lowitja Institute, said: “Our communities are strong and resilient and have responded rapidly and effectively to the pandemic when they have been trusted, enabled and resourced by governments to lead the way. We need governments to work together with Aboriginal Controlled Community Health Organisations to support culturally safe delivery of vaccines and improve data collection to increase vaccination coverage as quickly as we can.”

You can read the media release by ANU here.
The study is published in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health.

AFL legend Adam Goodes, NACCHO CEO Pat Turner, NACCHO Deputy CEO Dr Dawn Casey and Shadow Minister for Indigenous Australians, the Hon Linda Burney, MP all getting their vaccines to be protected against COVID-19.

AFL legend Adam Goodes, NACCHO CEO Pat Turner, NACCHO Deputy CEO Dr Dawn Casey and Shadow Minister for Indigenous Australians, the Hon Linda Burney, MP all getting their vaccines to be protected against COVID-19.

Spread of COVID-19 in Eurobodalla’s sparks alarm

Aboriginal elders, health professionals and politicians say they are concerned about the growing COVID-19 cluster among the Eurobodalla’s Indigenous community.

The cluster linked to Batemans Bay on the NSW far south coast has grown to 19 cases since the first case was reported on September 6.

Bega MP Andrew Constance has expressed concern that the Indigenous population is vulnerable to further spread.

“There is no doubt when you have a vulnerable cohort within the community, that is something we are very concerned about,” he said.

Despite the fact 60 per cent are now fully vaccinated in the region, there is a push to increase the rates among the local Indigenous population. Walk-in clinics will be open at:

  • The Wallaga Lake Community Hall from 10:00am on Thursday September 23.
  • The Bodalla soccer oval from 10:00am to 2:00pm on Sunday September 26.
  • Eden at the community health centre between 10:00am to 2:00pm on Saturday September 25.
  • Twofold, Jigamy on Thursday September 30. 

You can read the article in ABC News here.

Aboriginal elder Uncle Ossie Cruse is calling on the local Indigenous community to get the jab. Australian Story: Marc Smith.

Aboriginal elder Uncle Ossie Cruse is calling on the local Indigenous community to get the jab. Australian Story: Marc Smith.

Historic moment creates opportunity for COVID-19 vaccine promo

The McGowan Labor Government has launched the next phase of its Roll up for WA COVID-
19 vaccination campaign to help get as many Western Australians vaccinated as possible.

The emotive campaign reinforces the benefits of vaccination by featuring Western Australian personal stories of life before the COVID-19 pandemic, by reminiscing of a time when we were safely connected with the world and lived life without fear of a local outbreak.

The commercial (that can be viewed below the story) stars Sheree, a young Aboriginal nursing student, whose roots stretch between the Nyiyaparli and Banjima people originating from Port Hedland, who is passionate about encouraging people to get the COVID-19 vaccine because she wants to keep her community safe.

With all eyes on WA hosting the 2021 AFL Grand Final this Saturday, the McGowan Government is leveraging the historic moment in WA by maximising opportunities to promote the campaign and benefits of getting the COVID-19 vaccine.

The campaign also includes an informative video series with respected medical professional Dr Karl. Through the video series, Dr Karl answers the most common questions about the COVID-19 vaccines.

You  can view the media release by the McGowan Labor Government here.
For more information about the campaign, visit the Roll up for WA website here.

Growing urgency to vaccinate remote Elders before any border reopening

“It’s only a matter of time before Delta gets here, and it could be bad,” says Mr Chris Bin Kali, the director of the Broome Aboriginal Medical Service.

“It will only take one person and we could lose a whole community — lose the whole language, history, lore and culture in one go.”

It’s a grim message delivered with a sole aim — to get as many Kimberley people vaccinated as quickly as possible.

Outback ingenuity is on display. Some remote communities are raffling off washing machines and fishing gear to those getting the jab. Open-invite vaxathons are using country and western music and AFL players to try to cut through. Slowly but surely, it is starting to work.

Vickie O’Donnell, who heads Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Services, says she expects some communities will opt to remain shut.

The outback vaccine rollout is complicated by poor telecommunications, limited road access and a highly mobile population.

But in this critical moment, the years of work by Aboriginal health organisations to build a skilled health workforce is delivering a huge payoff.

You can read the story in the ABC News here.

Some communities are raffling off gift packs to encourage people to get vaccinated. Image source: Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Services.

Some communities are raffling off gift packs to encourage people to get vaccinated. Image source: Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Services.

Statement of support for TGA

Australia’s leading evidence-based health and medical organisations including NACCHO, stand beside Australia’s key medicines regulator, the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA).

We express full support for the vital work the TGA does to assess and regulate new medicines and vaccines. The TGA has a strong reputation for being expert, independent and rigorous in its assessments of new products, and is similarly rigorous in its assessment of the safety of vaccines, so as to improve and protect the health of all Australians.

Another essential role of our medicines regulator is to challenge, and where necessary, prosecute those who seek to mislead the Australian public about important health information so as to pursue their own interests. This role is particularly important in the current global health crisis.

Now is a time when Australians must have confidence in the assessments and recommendations of the TGA, and we believe Australians’ trust in the TGA is well placed.

You can read the statement of support at the Burnet Institute website here.

TGA logo

HOTspots platform maps antibiotic resistance patterns

A new digital surveillance platform has launched enabling healthcare professionals to map circulating antibiotic-resistant pathogens in northern Australia.

The HOTspots platform, developed in the HOT NORTH program, covers tropical areas in Northern Territory, Queensland and Western Australia and has information about up to 13 pathogens and their associated antibiotics.

Lead researcher, Dr Teresa Wozniak, Senior Research Fellow and APPRISE Fellow at Menzies School of Health Research, said the HOTspots program and digital platform support antibiotic stewardship activities in northern Australia, allowing clinicians to choose “the right drugs for the right bugs”.

“The HOTspots data, and now a digital platform, allow end users including doctors, nurses and Aboriginal health practitioners across regional and remote hospitals and clinics to have access to accurate local up-to-date data to make decisions at the point of care,” Dr Wozniak said.

View the HOTspots platform and read more about the HOT NORTH program.

You can read the joint media release by Menzies School of Health Research, Hot North and Apprise here.

HOTspots platform maps antibiotic resistance patterns across northern Australia. Image source: Hot North.

HOTspots platform maps antibiotic resistance patterns across northern Australia. Image source: Hot North.

Clinical learning e-modules for lung cancer symptoms

Lung Foundation Australia, in collaboration with Cancer Australia, has developed accredited clinical learning e-modules, based on Cancer Australia’s Investigating symptoms of lung cancer: a guide for all health professionals. The e-modules use clinical scenario-based learning to increase confidence among health professionals to recognise symptoms and signs of lung cancer, and support early and rapid referral of symptomatic patients into the multidisciplinary diagnostic pathway.

The modules have received accreditation from the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP), with health professionals able to gain accreditation of 40 RACGP CPD points.

Sign up for the modules here.

Symptoms of lung cancer. Illustration from the Lung Foundation Australia website.

Symptoms of lung cancer. Illustration from the Lung Foundation Australia website.

Improving Digital Connectivity for Indigenous Australians

Yesterday the Morrison Government launched public consultations for its landmark Indigenous Digital Inclusion Plan to accelerate the digital connectivity of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

“Ensuring Indigenous Australians have quality access to digital technology encourages entrepreneurialism, wealth creation and economic advancement – it’s about closing the gap and taking the next step after that,” Minister for Indigenous Australians, Ken Wyatt AM MP, said.

“Over the last year and a half, we’ve seen how people have relied on technology, not just to stay in touch with family and friends, but also to launch new ventures and navigate through COVID-19.”

“Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, particularly those in remote communities, are
missing out on opportunities to start new businesses and grow because of access to technology. That is why we are developing a comprehensive plan to address the barriers to digital inclusion,” said Minister Wyatt.

More information and a copy of the discussion paper is available on the NIAA website, or you can contact the Agency at digitalinclusion@niaa.gov.au or on 1800 079 098.
Submissions on the discussion paper close 1 November 2021.

You can read the media release by The Hon Ken Wyatt AM, MP here.

The Indigenous Digital Inclusion Plan will focus on three elements of digital inclusion: access, affordability and digital ability.

The Indigenous Digital Inclusion Plan will focus on three elements of digital inclusion: access, affordability and digital ability.

 

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

 

MDHS Indigenous Postdoctoral Fellowship

The University of Melbourne Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences are pleased to announce that applications for the 2021 round of Indigenous Postdoc fellowships are now open.

The fellowship aims to support the next generation of Indigenous researchers who will actively contribute to health research and/or address critical health issues facing Indigenous communities. The Fellows will contribute to and enrich the Faculty’s diverse scholarly community and strengthen our existing Indigenous research community.

Applications are open to recent Indigenous MDHS PhD graduates and candidates who are near completion and expect to submit between 1 July 2021 – 30 June 2022.

The closing date for applications is Sunday 31 October (5pm) 2021.

We invite all eligible candidates who are interested in continuing an academic path with the Faculty to read more about the Fellowship and consider applying here.

Electronic Prescriptions for Consumers Q+A Session

As electronic prescriptions become more widely available across the country, the Australian Digital Health Agency invites you to join a “Electronic Prescribing Q+A Session for Consumers and Carers”. The purpose of the session is to provide you with a platform where your questions will be answered directly by an expert panel.

Ask any questions you might have related to your experience with using electronic prescriptions. Is there anything that wasn’t clear or left you wondering how it works? We welcome all your questions and there is no requirement to have used electronic prescribing prior to joining a session.

You will be able to participate by speaking directly with our subject matter experts, or by submitting questions anonymously through our questions platform. If you would like to submit your questions prior to the session to ensure they are addressed, please use the registration form below.

These sessions are open to consumer peak organisations, members and consumer advocates, carers and advisors.

Event title: Your questions answered: Electronic Prescriptions for Consumers

Dates: 
Thursday, 7 October 2021, 12-12.30pm AEDT (Sydney, Melbourne, Canberra)
Thursday, 14 October 2021 12-12.30pm AEDT (Sydney, Melbourne, Canberra)
Thursday, 21 October 2021 12-12.30pm AEDT (Sydney, Melbourne, Canberra)

Register here. (Select preferred date from drop-down menu)

 

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Natural helpers help counter vax hesitancy

feature tile text 'Aboriginal natural helpers help counter COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy' & vector image of syringe & vial

Natural helpers help counter vax hesitancy

An Edith Cowan University project funded by the WA government has been consulting with natural helpers in Aboriginal communities in the south west and Perth urban areas of WA. Led by Dr Uncle Mick Adams, Senior Aboriginal Research Fellow at the Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet, Professor Neil Drew, Director of the HealthInfoNet, and Associate Professor Stuart Medley from the School of Arts and Humanities, supported by community Cultural Consultant Brett Hill, the project has been asking natural helpers about their experiences of COVID-19.

Natural helpers are those in the community who are naturally turned to in times of crisis for information and support. A particular focus was to explore where people are getting their information from and how trustworthy they feel those sources are.

Many participants in the study felt that, despite the overwhelming weight of information available, they still lacked information that they could trust. They felt that many of the people used to promote the messages, like sports people or politicians were too far-removed from the circle of trust in communities. Many want to see and hear from local identities or natural helpers; people they know and trust. This includes Elders and community leaders but also, and importantly, other trusted natural helpers. They want authorities to visit and sit with them to discuss the issues in their community.

To view the full article click here.

large group of people sitting & standing around table

Mandurah Focus Group.

Improving Hep C diagnosis

Minister for Health and Aged Care, Greg Hunt, said to help improve the treatment times of those with hepatitis C, the Morrison Government will fund a new national point-of-care testing (POCT) program that can confirm active hepatitis C infections within an hour and allow treatment to begin immediately.

The Kirby Institute at the University of NSW and the International Centre for Point-of-Care Testing at Flinders University will be provided with $6.5 million combined to establish the program. Being able to provide the testing and treatment all in one visit is a real game-changer for people who would normally have to wait several weeks for a test result.

To view Minister Hunt’s media release click here.

young Aboriginal man in front of brick wall, overlaid with line drawing of hands & syringe, text 'protect' your blood

Image source: VIVA Communications website.

Kids with disability in OOHC

The 16th hearing of the Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability has shifted its focus to the experiences of Indigenous children with disability in out-of-home care (OOHC).

More than 20%of Indigenous children have a disability, compared to 8% in the general population. Out of the 45,996 children in OOHC in Australia in 2019 and 2020, 18,862 – more than 40% – were Indigenous despite only making up 6% of the total child population.

Earlier, the inquiry heard that some Indigenous families were having their disabled children taken from them amid a shortage of specialised support programs. The children often need constant care but a lack of services to help parents was leading to perceptions of neglect, health service the Central Australian Aboriginal Congress (CAAC) said. “They can’t meet the care needs of that child because the care needs are higher,” CAAC chief executive Donna Ah Chee said. “We need to have equitable access so that the ability to provide the appropriate level of care is not a consideration for children being removed.” Ms Ah Chee called for more early intervention and child care programs, and trained carers to help struggling families, many of whom live in poverty.

To view the 7 News article in full click here.

young girl gazing out a window

EY Oceania website.

CAAC welcomes NT COVID-19 plan

The Central Australian Aboriginal Congress (CAAC) has acknowledged the NT Government’s Plan for COVID-Management At Stage 3 of The National Plan which will enact some of the strongest protections in the nation for our vulnerable Aboriginal population.

“The modelling for Victoria shows that even opening up at 80% will lead to daily infections in the thousands along with potentially thousands of deaths and a hospital system close to breaking point,” said CAAC CEO Donna Ah Chee.” The NT cannot afford to get to anything like this and the NT Government should be commended for their approach,” she continued.

To view the media release click here.

CAAC logo & CAAC staff member receiving covid-19 vax

CAAC logo from CAAC website. Image source: NT News.

Speech Pathology Indigenous Health major

The number of domestic applications for the undergraduate speech pathology course at Southern Cross University (SCU) have increased 79% compared to the same time last year. It is the only Speech Pathology degree in Australia to offer an Indigenous Health major. The SCU Speech Pathology program has multiple community partnerships which support the students to engage in a range of external placements, across NSW, Queensland and beyond.

“One reason for our growth in demand for the course is a greater community awareness about the need for people trained in this discipline, particularly in regional, rural and remote areas,” SCU Professor Yoxall said.

“There is such a high demand for paediatric speech pathology services, that some families can wait years to have their young child assessed, thereby missing out of vital early intervention. We hear about children who have NDIS funding but are going through a full calendar year or longer without managing to secure an appointment with a speech pathologist.”

To view the Echo article in full click here.

Model improves Type 2 Diabetes outcomes

Research shows an innovative model-of-care that includes a weekly nurse review and an injection of a drug known as Exenatide-LAR significantly improves sugar management for Indigenous Australians with Type 2 Diabetes (T2D) in remote communities.

Diabetes affects Indigenous Australians at alarmingly high rates – more than three to four times that of non-Indigenous Australians. In some of the worst-affected communities in Australia, Indigenous Australians are experiencing a 13-fold increase in kidney failure for people aged 35-44 years and an alarming eight-fold mortality attributed to CVD.

A cluster randomised study known as the ‘Lower Sugar Study’ allocated two communities in Central Australia to receive either a once-weekly Exenatide injection with weekly nurse review and adjustment of medication for 20 weeks, or a weekly nurse review in addition to standard care over 20 weeks in the community without Exenatide.

The aim of the study was to test the feasibility of the intensive diabetes management model-of-care with and without weekly supervised Exenatide. The research team also looked at the change in HbA1c, which is a marker of sugar levels.

Associate Professor Ekinci said there are many reasons why Indigenous Australians have been impacted by diabetes. “We know that the social determinants of health matter here. These include significant cultural losses and dispossession, racial discrimination and food insecurity. These historical, social and other issues contribute to Indigenous Australians developing early on-set and rapidly progressive forms of diabetes,” Associate Professor Ekinci said.

To view the University of Melbourne article in full click here.

Aboriginal person's hands, blood sugar level testing

Image source: The Medical Journal of Australia.

New RPHCM website launched

Remote Primary Health Care Manuals (RPHCM) have launched a new website. The RPHCMs are a widely used and highly regarded resource in remote health across central, northern, and remote Australia – they support and promote good clinical practice in primary health care.

To view the RPHCM website launch flyer click here.

cover of each of 4 RPHCMs

You can also view the RPHCM September 2021 Update here. More than 85% of the Primary Reviews are now completed. Protocol groups endorsed include: birth and birth emergencies; bites and stings, injuries; mental health emergencies; skin; and wounds. Protocol groups coming up for endorsement include: cardiac, renal and diabetes; clinical assessment; contraception; eyes; and respiratory.

Secondary reviews of protocols to check that protocols are clear and can be applied to
remote practice will start later this year.

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

Rural and Remote Health Scientific Symposium

Virtual registrations are now open for the 8th Rural and Remote Health Scientific Symposium which will be held on Wednesday 6 and Thursday 7 October 2021. The full digital program includes more than 60 research presentations, poster sessions and engagement with high-quality keynote speakers.

The theme of the virtual symposium is ‘Connecting research, practice and communities’ – bringing together rural health academics, clinical researchers and practitioners, students, as well as policymakers engaged with the Alliance and the rural health sector. The symposium offers comprehensive knowledge learning and professional development, as well as the opportunity for personal engagement with speakers, presenters and peers.

To register for the symposium click here.

Professor Tom Calma AO will be a keynote speaker at the symposium.

Ngar-wu Wanyaraa Health Conference

Health professionals and community members from across Australia will come together online for the 6th Annual Ngar-wu Wanyarra Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Conference on Wednesday 13 October 2021. The conference will be hosted by the University of Melbourne, Department of Rural Health and showcase advances in the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, highlighting key findings and current health issues facing the community.

Multi-award winning broadcaster and journalist, Stan Grant, who is currently International Affairs Editor for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation will deliver the keynote address. Further information and updates can be viewed on the Department of Rural Health website here.

To register for the virtual conference click here.

Norm Stewart, Kidneys of the Dungala, 2012. Community/Language Group: Yorta Yorta, acrylic on canvas.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: NSW state-wide vax blitz for mob

feature tile text 'NSW state-wide COVID-19 vaccination blitz for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people' & image of Aboriginal teenage girl's arm being vaccinated

NSW state-wide vax blitz for mob

NSW is having a COVID-19 Vaccination Blitz for Aboriginal people. All Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 12 and over can access a priority Pfizer vaccination appointment at the following locations:

  • Hunter New England – Belmont
  • Illawarra Shoalhaven – Dapto and  Nowra
  • Mid North Coast – Galambila AMS
  • Murrumbidgee – Griffith, Wagga Wagga and Young
  • Nepean Blue Mountains – Penrith
  • Northern Sydney – Hornsby and St Leonards
  • South Eastern Sydney – Surry Hills and Sutherland
  • South Western Sydney – Macquarie Fields
  • Southern NSW – Eden
  • Sydney – Redfern
  • Western NSW – Dubbo

For more detailed information the vaccination sites, dates and times click here.

Note: image in feature tile is from the ABC News website.

outdoor pop-up vaccination clinic in Dubbo, man, woman, pram with toddler, desk, health professionals under white shade

Pop-up vaccination clinic in Dubbo. Image source: GPNews.

Wuchopperen getting the job of the jabs done

This Saturday (18 September) Wuchopperen Health Service is hosting a second drop-in COVID-19 vaccine clinic at its Manoora facility. The first in the series of clinics was hosted three weeks ago (Saturday 28 August) when 287 Wuchopperen clients had their first or second Pfizer jab.

“Our first Pfizer vaccine day was a huge success – and great fun,” said Wuchopperen Deputy CEO Rachael Ham. “Before we opened the doors and saw people were lined up at the gates, we knew we were in for a great community day – with a local and global health outcome.

“As an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled health organisation, we have the responsibility to provide the information, the access and the protection to our community members to help fight this pandemic. And while our objective with the community vaccine days is to get our community vaccinated, at the same time we want to offer a good day out for families.” Mrs Ham said.

“By offering entertainment and refreshments we’re encouraging people to come together with community and share stories, knowledge and reconnect in general.”

Wuchopperen staff are expecting over 300 community members at this Saturday’s event,  for their first or second dose of the Pfizer vaccine; and encouraging all eligible Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders (aged 12 years and over) who would like to receive their jab to join the party.

To view Wuchopperen’s media release in full click here.

Wuchopperen Board Member Maureen Mossman receiving vaccination

Wuchopperen Board Member Maureen Mossman has had her jab and said “The COVID jab, keeps me, my family and my community safe and strong.”

Reducing violence against women funding

The Federal Government has announced $13.5 million for nine service providers that deliver community-led programs to reduce violence against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and their children.

The $13.5 million is a portion of the $35.5 million invested in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander-specific measures in the Fourth Action Plan of the National Plan to Reduce Violence Against Women and their Children 2020-2022.

The nine recipients work in “high need communities”, with six being Indigenous organisations. Locations include Kununurra, WA; Port Augusta and Ceduna, SA; Nhulunbuy and surrounds, NT; Darwin and Katherine, NT; and Townsville and Mackay, QLD.

In the last year, the National Indigenous Australians Agency (NIAA) has partnered with these providers to co-design service responses and will continue to do so to support program delivery across the 43 remote and regional areas.

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

Aboriginal mother & daughter

Image source: The University of Melbourne website.

$15m for mental health first aid training

The Federal Government is providing $15 million over three years to the National Wellbeing Alliance Pty Ltd to deliver mental health first aid training for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities across Australia. The National Wellbeing Alliance Pty Ltd was selected as the national provider following a competitive grants process.

They will deliver culturally safe and appropriate mental health first aid courses to upskill participants in recognising when to seek assistance and how to assist family and other community members in need of support. Minister for Indigenous Australians, the Hon Ken Wyatt AM, MP, said protection of the social and emotional wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people is a critical priority.

To view the media release in full click here.

vector image of black head, blue brain, green bag with white medical cross inside white circle, light blue background

Image source: 3btraining website.

Infectious diseases surveillance expansion

Important research projects at The University of Queensland (UQ) have been awarded more than $50 million from the Australian Government. One of the recipients of funding is the UQ Poche Centre for Indigenous Health which will expand an infectious diseases sentinel surveillance network operating in 32 Aboriginal primary care services.

Professor James Ward said the partnership project would increase the number of sites involved and expand the scope of the network to include surveillance of vaccine preventable diseases. “In doing this, we are now able to move to the next phase of progressing our surveillance network to one that will simultaneously be focused on driving quality improvement within health services as well as participation in ongoing research all bound up with strong community participation,” he said.

To view the full article on the UQ website click here.

Aboriginal dot painting art of hand over Country, blue brown, aqua, cream

Image source: SA Aboriginal STI & BBV Action Plan 2020-2024 cover.

Indigenous oral health research funding

The University of Adelaide has been awarded $10.5 million for seven research projects, one of them in the area of Indigenous oral health.

An amount of $2,598,056 has been awarded to Professor Lisa Jamieson, from Adelaide Dental School, to facilitate best practice oral care models for Indigenous Australians. The goal of the project is to improve Indigenous oral health outcomes, raise standards of oral clinical care through cultural competency workshops, and capacity building of the Indigenous oral health workforce.

The funding is through the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) 2021 Investigator Grant program, which invests in world-leading health and medical research projects to improve lives.

To view the article in full click here.

dentist's model of teeth in gums, jaw

Image source: The University of Adelaide website.

Boost for brain health

The growing burden of dementia among older Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders will be addressed by a new research centre that will include researchers from The University of WA (UWA). The Federal Government has announced $3 million funding over five years for the Centre for Research Excellence, to be known as OnTRACK, which will look at developing culturally appropriate and effective ways of promoting brain health among Indigenous people.

Based at the University of Melbourne, OnTRACK hopes to play a crucial role in detecting memory and thinking changes in order to prevent dementia, as well as supporting those living with dementia. The national collaboration is made up of a team of researchers who have already completed landmark research addressing the gaps of dementia prevention and early detection in older Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders..

To view the article in full click here.

older Aboriginal woman looking in direction of smiling Aboriginal teenager (girl)

Image source: The University of WA website.

Digital health’s future – have your say

Today, Australians have access to telehealth, electronic prescriptions, My Health Record and more. What comes next is up to you.

Now’s your chance to influence the future of digital health in Australia by taking part in a short, 15 minute survey.  Your valuable input will help the Australian Government continue to evolve one of the best healthcare services in the world.

For more detail you can access the Australian Digital Health Agency’s website here and to take the survey click here.

New process for job advertising

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

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

World Patient Safety Day

For World Patient Safety Day, 17 September 2021, WHO urges all stakeholders to “Act now for safe and respectful childbirth! with the theme “Safe maternal and newborn care”. Approximately 810 women die every day from preventable causes related to pregnancy and childbirth. In addition, around 6,700 newborns die every day, amounting to 47% of all under-5 deaths. Moreover, about 2 million babies are stillborn every year, with over 40% occurring during labour. Considering the significant burden of risks and harm women and newborns are exposed to due to unsafe care, compounded by the disruption of essential health services caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the campaign is even more important this year.

Fortunately, the majority of stillbirths and maternal and newborn deaths are avoidable through the provision of safe and quality care by skilled health professionals working in supportive environments. This can only be achieved through the engagement of all stakeholders and the adoption of comprehensive health systems and community-based approaches.

World Patient Safety Day was established in 2019 to enhance global understanding of patient safety, increase public engagement in the safety of health care and promote global actions to enhance patient safety and reduce patient harm.

For more information about World Patient Safety Day click here. You can also view a media release issued by Consumers Health Forum Australia to mark World Patient Safety Day here.banner - World Patient Sock Day, 17 September 2021

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Vaccine conspiracies target vulnerable communities

feature tile text 'vaccine misinformation targeted at vulnerable communities' & image of Elder man receiving covid-19 vaccine

Vaccine conspiracies target vulnerable communities

NACCHO CEO Pat Turner called an emergency meeting with Mr Wyatt and 14 Aboriginal church leaders and remote doctors on Friday (3 September 2021) to discuss alarming numbers of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who are hesitant about whether they should be vaccinated as a direct result of misinformation that has targeted Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders.

The group of respected pastors and remote medical professionals confirmed conspiracies and misinformation were circulating in vulnerable communities, spreading fear of COVID-19 vaccines. “The meeting was about getting the advice of religious leaders on how to talk in a way that is respectful of people’s beliefs while keeping people safe from serious illness and death,” Minister Wyatt said.

To view Minister Wyatt’s media release click here.

elder without shirt outdoor setting receiving covid-19 vaccine from KAMS worker

Photo: Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Services. Image source: The Guardian.

Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Services (KAMS) has also written to local churches asking them to counter dangerous misinformation promoting vaccine hesitancy among Aboriginal communities. Vicki O’Donnell, the CEO of KAMS, said that while some communities in the area had high rates of vaccinations, there was “resistance in some communities due to religious groups and the misinformation that they’re providing”.

“We’ve always had issues around religious groups, ever since I can remember,” O’Donnell said. “This is the first time I’ve come across religious groups being very active around anti-vaccination. And I’ve been in Aboriginal health for 25 years now.”

To view the full article in The Guardian click here.

side profile of face of Labor Senator Pat Dodson

Labor Senator Pat Dodson has called on religious leaders of all denominations to condemn groups spreading anti-vaccine propaganda. Photo: Mick Tsikas. Image source: The Guardian.

Mallee District Aboriginal Services chief executive Jacki Turfrey told Sunraysia Daily says vaccine conspiracy theories have spread like wildfire among Sunraysia’s Aboriginal community. “There’s a lot of myths being circulated about there being metal and metal traces in the vaccines, about there being implants being put into people who get the vaccine, about fertility … they’re actually making our job much, much harder,” she said.

“The myths are out there – they’re ramping up. As a result, you’ve got a lot of people are nervous and afraid to get the vaccine. There’s no counter media that actually goes through and dispels the myths. That would have an amazing impact.” Ms Turfrey rejected the suggestion vaccination providers weren’t doing enough to get Aboriginal community members to roll up their sleeves.

To view the full article in the Sunraysia Daily click here.

MDAS CEO Jacki Turfrey

MDAS CEO Jacki Turfrey says incentives offered to Indigenous people are having a positive impact on vaccination rates. Photo: Ben Grose. Image source: Sunraysia Daily.

Yawning divide in vaccination rates

Nationwide, 60.5% of the population over the age of 16 have had one dose, while 36.4%  are fully vaccinated. In comparison, just 37%t of First Nations people have had one jab, and 20.5% both.

New data released by the federal government also exposes a stark divide between Australia’s towns and cities and regional and remote areas. NACCHO’s chief medical advisor Dr Jason Agostino said some of the figures are ‘alarming’. “You just need to look at what’s happened far western NSW to understand what can happen when just a single case of COVID-19 gets in,” he said.

“Without the protection of the vaccine, what’s happening in western NSW and Far West NSW Wales can happen anywhere, so we need to do whatever we can to address vaccine hesitancy and get doses out and into people’s arms.”

To view the full article click here.

Aboriginal man receiving covid-19 vaccination

Despite the higher health risks, the national Indigenous vaccine rates are sitting well behind the general population. Photo: Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Services. Image source: NITV website.

Elder praises community lockdown response

Indigenous people across western NSW are working hard to do the right thing in a COVID crisis that restricts their highly social lives and puts pressure on their emotional wellbeing, says one of the region’s best-known elders. First Nations people continue to make up the overwhelming majority of COVID-19 infections in western NSW.

In Dubbo, which has most of the state’s regional cases, Wiradjuri elder Frank Doolan — better known as “Riverbank Frank” — heaped praise on locals abiding by lockdown laws. “I feel a certain amount of pride in my people, even though their circumstances in many instances may not be conducive to this new phenomenon of lockdown (and) it may not agree with Aboriginal people or the lives they lead,” he said. “I have been amazed at just how people are trying to comply with the health laws at the moment.”

To view the full ABC news article click here.

Wiradjuri Elder "Riverbank Frank" Doolan

“Riverbank Frank” Doolan says lockdown restrictions are especially taxing on the Aboriginal community. Photo: Gary-Jon Lysaght. Image source: ABC News.

COVID-19 exposes Australia’s health inequality

Australians, on the whole, are fortunate when it comes to their health. Generally, people enjoy a high standard of living and access to universal health care, and Australia consistently ranks well on measures such as life expectancy and mortality rates.

But beneath gross measures of health and high OECD rankings lies deeply-entrenched, longstanding inequalities. The gap in health outcomes between Australia’s rich and poor is substantial, and has been laid bare for all to see over the course of the pandemic.

Social scientist Julie Leask from the University of Sydney says the fact poorer, more diverse communities are being most impacted by COVID-19 is not by chance, and reflects “deep inequities in society”. “[The pandemic] is an opportunity for all of the public to see the mechanism by which poverty and social exclusion actually influence health,” she says.

In Australia, health inequalities are felt most acutely by Indigenous people and those living in socio-economically disadvantaged areas, including in rural and remote Australia.

To view the article in full click here.

CAAC vaccination outreach at Irrkerlantye

Central Australia Aboriginal Congress vaccination outreach at Irrkerlantye (White Gate) Damp. Photo: Kate Buckland, CAAC. Image source: Croakey Health Media.

WA releases Aboriginal Empowerment Strategy

The WA Government has released its first Closing the Gap Jurisdictional Implementation Plan together with its Aboriginal Empowerment Strategy – two important and strategic documents that will guide a future whole-of-government approach to Aboriginal affairs in WA.

This is the first Implementation Plan for WA under the new National Agreement on Closing the Gap and was developed through collaboration across government departments and agencies, with crucial input and endorsement from the Aboriginal Advisory Council of WA, as well as the Aboriginal Health Council of WA (AHCWA), the only WA-based member of the Coalition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peak Organisations (the Coalition of Peaks).

Vicki O’Donnell, member of the Aboriginal Advisory Council of WA and Chairperson of the AHCWA said: “The National Agreement on Closing the Gap is strongly supported by Aboriginal people in WA as it defines the reforms that are absolutely necessary for improving the life outcomes of our people, and our communities. The four Priority Reforms require governments to change the way they work with us at all levels, and ensure that Aboriginal self-determination, leadership, and culture are the foundations for shared decision-making, partnership and service delivery into the future.

To view the media statement in full click here.

Hearing health outreach services report

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) has released a report Hearing health outreach services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in the NT July 2012 to December 2020.

The report presents information on hearing health outreach services provided to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young people in the NT. It shows that in 2020 there were: 2,010 audiology services; 701 ear, nose and throat teleotology services; and 1,004 Clinical Nurse Specialist visits. Among children and young people who received at least two services between 2012 and 2020, 61% had improved hearing loss and 71% had improved hearing impairment.

To view the report  click here.

Aboriginal toddler having a hearing test

Photo: Lauren Roberts, NT News. Image source: Menzies School of Health Research.

NDIS Access Program in Kimberley

The Rural Clinical School of WA, The University of WA have released an article about their study of the NDIS ‘Access Program’ in the Kimberley region. Their mixed methods study explores the barriers and enablers of the Access Program in­­­­­­­ linking remote Aboriginal residents with the NDIS. The study also reports on what types of disability people engaging with the Access program had, their age, gender, and if they lived in a town or a community.

The study found the Access program has provided support and assistance for Aboriginal people in accessing the NDIS. Continuation of the Access Program until 2022 will allow more people to receive the support they need to navigate entry to the NDIS. Provision of services for those who have received an NDIS plan requires ongoing advocacy and evaluation.

The research team wants to continue the discussion around the NDIS Access Program to ensure the rights of remote Aboriginal Australians with a disability are met, in ways that are strength based and culturally secure.

To view the Equity in Access: A Mixed Methods Exploration of the NDIS Access Program for the Kimberley Region, WA article click here.

Seven-year-old Kelvina Benny in her wheelchair

Seven-year-old Kelvina Benny lives with her family in the Yungngora community on Noonkanbah Station, Kimberley region, WA. Image source: NDIS 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

World Suicide Prevention Day 

One in four Australians report knowing someone who died by suicide during the past 12 months of the pandemic – the equivalent of 5 million people – with social isolation, the economy and jobs driving concerns, particularly amongst women. It comes as two-thirds of Australians (66%) back the Federal Government introducing a standalone national suicide prevention act requiring all government decisions to consider and mitigate suicide risks two years in a row.

The findings are from Suicide Prevention Australia’s second State of the Nation report, which will be officially released this week on World Suicide Prevention Day 2021 – Friday, 10 September 2021. Suicide Prevention Australia CEO Nieves Murray said history showed major increases in suicide were linked to major social and economic events and there was none more concerning facing Australia than right now.

To view the Suicide Prevention Australia media release click here.

This year, Suicide Prevention Australia is hosting a free webinar form 10:30AM – 11:30AM AEST Friday 10 September 2021 to bring together key members of government, the suicide prevention sector and recipients of our LiFE Awards which recognise work with significant impacts on reducing suicide.

To register for the webinar click here.

banner text 'shining a light on suicide prevention Friday 10 Sep 2021, world suicide prevention day' vector image of one female male & two males with huge yellow spot light

banner text ‘shining a light on suicide prevention Friday 10 Sep 2021, world suicide prevention day’ vector image of one female male & two males with huge yellow spot light

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Health problems dire long before COVID-19

feature tile text 'ATSI health problems dire long before COVID-19 hit' & image of Aboriginal man on dialysis Purple House

Health problems dire long before COVID-19

According to Brewarrina GP Dr Sonia Henry the recent headlines about the northwest of NSW have been clear in their message. Here are two: “Australia’s failure to vaccinate Indigenous Australians” and “Funeral in Wilcannia leads to COVID-19 spread”. Anyone who has lived or worked in remote Australia with Indigenous populations knows the real headline should be: “Australia’s failure of its Indigenous people – full stop”.

The reason Indigenous populations are so “vulnerable”, as we say, is that we effectively have created a two-tiered health system where this is inevitable, long before COVID-19 and long after.

Dr Henry says Brewarrina shares many similarities to Wilcannia (about 500 kms away), where COVID-19 is spreading through the Indigenous population. We all know if COVID-19 were to explode here, not only would issues such as overcrowding and food be problematic (we have two tiny shops, both of which would be forced to close if there were a big outbreak), but also what is always an issue – how to get decent medical care.

To view the article in full click here.

mural on Moorundi Aboriginal Community Health Service building, Raukkan, SA

A mural on the Moorundi Aboriginal Community Health Service building, Raukkan, SA. Photo: Coorong Council. Image source: The Australian. Image in feature tile: NITV news website.

ACCHO trying to meet high vaccine demand

Awabakal Ltd, which runs an Aboriginal medical service in the Hunter, has been running regular vaccination clinics to try and meet the high demand. They have been inundated with requests for appointments and are doing what they can to progress their waiting lists as quickly as possible, although demand far outweighs current supply.

Awabakal is considering mobile vaccination services. “We are in the process of assessing suitable locations and will actively seek to provide outreach services in the coming weeks,” it said.

Worimi Local Aboriginal Land Council Chief Executive Andrew Smith said Aboriginal people often relied on organisations like Awabakal for health care, rather than GPs. “We don’t necessarily participate in the mainstream health sector like everyday Australians do. Generally we don’t get any help until it’s almost the 11th hour. Wilcannia and other communities are a clear example of where we are continuously being left behind and put in the too-hard basket.”

To view the article in full click here.

Worimi Local ALC Andrew Smith receiving first jab

Worimi Local Aboriginal Land Council Chief Executive Andrew Smith receiving first Pfizer vaccination. Image source: Newcastle Herald.

Community-led programs to reduce family violence

Nine service providers across Australia have received a share of $13.5 million for targeted community-led programs to reduce violence against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and their children. This funding is part of $35.3 million for Indigenous-specific measures under the Fourth Action Plan of the National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children 2010-2022.

Minister for Indigenous Australians, the Hon Ken Wyatt AM, MP, said each of these measures were driven by the experiences and expertise of local Indigenous communities. “Breaking the cycle of violence requires community-driven approaches that prioritise cultural healing and family restoration,” Minister Wyatt said. “Putting Indigenous experience at the heart of our efforts is absolutely crucial to reducing violence against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and children.”

To view the media release in full click here.

rear shot of three Aboriginal women in dim light, dusk

Image source: The Conversation.

Indigenous Eye Health Measures 2021

On Monday this week (1 September 2021) the Australian Institute for Health and Welfare (AIHW) launched its Indigenous eye health measures 2021 report which shows measurable progress towards improving the eye health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Despite the pandemic’s impact, the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people having an eye examination by an optometrist or ophthalmologist continued to grow, reaching 104,300 in 2019-20 (compared to 100,700 in 2018-19).

The report also highlights some of the continuing challenges Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people face in accessing the eye care they need, such a wait times substantially longer for cataract surgery (a median number of 124 days) than for other Australians (82 days).

Vision 2020 Australia says investing in public provision of priority treatments (such as cataract surgery and treatments for diabetic eye disease), supporting development of community led models and building local case management that can help Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people connect to, and remain engaged with, treatment are all critical.

Vision 2020 Australia continues to call for Australian Government investment in these and other priority areas so that we can achieve the goal of ending avoidable blindness in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities by 2025.

You can read Vision 2020 Australia’s media release in full here and access the AIHW Indigenous Eye Health Measures 2021 report here.cover of AIHW Indigenous eye health measures 2021 report

Old homelessness interventions don’t work

A government taskforce looking at Adelaide’s Aboriginal homelessness population has found COVID-19 lockdown shelters which permitted alcohol consumption and yarning circles led by Indigenous translators and leaders were more successful than traditional responses.

The taskforce’s report found that unless changes occur to understand and help the “constantly changing groups of people” who gather in the City of Adelaide and Adelaide Parklands, there will continue to be “severe” health and safety consequences of Aboriginal people. “Tragically, this includes a significant but unknown number of Aboriginal people dying prematurely in the heart of the City of Adelaide,” the report says.

Some of the 30 recommendations include decriminalising public drunkenness, funding more Aboriginal health workers, and pursuing tenancy reform to support more culturally appropriate housing.

To view the article in full click here.

homeless person lying on ground covered entirely with blanket, next to shopping trolley

Image source: CityMag website.

First Nations’ community development framework

Community First Development’s (CFD) latest publication A First Nations’ Approach to Community Development: our community development framework results from over 20 years of experience and practice working alongside First Nations’ communities.

Alyawarre woman, Ms Pat Anderson AO, known nationally and internationally as a powerful advocate for the health of Australia’s First Peoples, said, “It is my view that  Community First Development’s Community Development Framework is an essential guide in the field of community development, both in Australia and internationally. This practical and ethical guide is the culmination of conversations shared, relationships nurtured, and activities facilitated. I encourage you to read and reflect on this guide and consider how your initiatives can respect, promote, and fulfil the right to self-determination for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.”

To learn more, join a webinar with special guests Ms Pat Anderson AO, Stephanie Harvey, CEO regional staff and representatives from two communities from 11:00 AM – 12:00 PM Wednesday 8 September. To register click here.

cover of 'A first nations' Approach to Community Development', image of two Aboriginal boys sitting on back of a ute

Overdose deaths remain stubbornly high

International Overdose Awareness Day, marked on Tuesday this week (31 August 2021) is proclaimed as the world’s largest annual campaign to end overdose, remember without stigma those who have died and acknowledge the grief of the family and friends left behind.

It also comes with an urgent demand for action on a number of fronts according to Professor Dan Lubman and Associate Professor Suzanne Nielsen, from Turning Point and the Monash Addiction Research Centre who have written:

‘Unfortunately, the number of Australian deaths from unintentional overdose remains higher than the national road toll, and deaths involving heroin and climbing. We build safety barriers on our roads to reduce fatalities, but too often our response to drug use is just to park the ambulance at the bottom of the cliff. As heroin harms increase, we need to rapidly upscale a broader range of treatment options, and remove as many barriers to care as possible.’

‘Pilots and trials are welcome, but we’ve had evidence-based solutions to the problem of overdose for a long time. They should be implemented everywhere and without further delay. As we’ve seen with other public health responses, small, slow steps in the right direction are not enough in the race to save lives.’

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

purple ribbon, black background, text in chalk font 'Drug Overdose Awareness'

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

Women’s Health Week

In 2013, realising there was no event dedicated to women’s health in Australia, Jean Hailes for Women’s Health ran the very first national Women’s Health Week. Women’s Health Week held from Monday 6 to Friday 10 September 2021 is a nation-wide campaign of events and online activities – all centred on improving women’s health and helping women to make healthier choices. For more information click here.

During Women’s Health Week the House Select Committee on Mental Health and Suicide Prevention will hold its final public hearing with a focus on the mental health concerns and systems that impact women.

Chair, Dr Fiona Martin MP, said ‘The Committee commends the work of Jean Hailes in continuing Women’s Health Week. When we support women in accessing mental health care, as and when they need it, we improve women’s overall health, boost women’s participation in the workforce, and support Australian families.’ To view the Parliament of Australia’s media release in full click here.

Aboriginal mother & two young children, girl, boy

Image source: Jean Hailes for women’s health website.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: All 12-15 year olds now eligible for vaccine

feature tile text 'All 12-15 years olds now eligible for COVID-19 vaccine' & image of syringe injecting COVID-19 virus & vaccine vial

All 12-15 year olds now eligible for vaccine

All children aged between 12 and 15 years will be able to book a COVID-19 Pfizer vaccine from 13September following the Morrison Government’s decision to implement expert medical advice. This is in addition to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 12 and over, who are already able to access a COVID-19 vaccine.

Bookings will be available through GPs, Commonwealth Vaccination Clinics and ACCHOs. Each state and territory will advise when their state vaccination clinics will open to this group.

The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) reviewed detailed medical evidence and recommended Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccination in all children and adolescents 12 years of age and above. PM Scott Morrison said the Moderna vaccine would also be made available subject to approvals from the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) and ATAGI recommendations for 12-18 year olds.

To view the media release in full click here.

Image source for above photo and photo in the feature tile: The Conversation.

RACGP and RACP support 12+ vaccination

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) has welcomed news that all children aged 12 to 15 are eligible to receive the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, with bookings opening on 13 September. Earlier this month, the Therapeutic Goods Administration’s (TGA) gave provisional approval for the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine to be delivered to 12 to 15-year olds.

Shortly after, the RACGP spoke out in support of the ATAGI issuing a new recommendation that vulnerable children groups were eligible to receive the vaccine. Expanding eligibly to all 12 to 15-year-olds comes at an opportune time, with the Delta COVID-19 variant striking many young people in Victoria and NSW – including those aged 16 and under.

To view the RACGP media release in full click here.

Image source: The Smith Family website.

The Royal Australasian College of Physicians (RACP) has also recommended that all children aged 12-15 years receive the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccination when available, in line with recent ATAGI advice. This follows a recent recommendation to administer the Pfizer vaccine to children in this age bracket with pre-existing medical conditions, Indigenous children and children living in remote communities.

The Delta strain of COVID-19 causes infection in a higher number of children, making vaccination in this age group a priority. “Parents can be confident that the safety and effectiveness of the vaccines has been carefully evaluated through international clinical trials and analysis of real-world data,” RACP President Professor John Wilson says.

To view the RACP media release click here.

Image source: Australian Government Institute of Family Studies website.

Attitudes to vaccine improving

Ngukurr resident Michelle Farrell admits she felt a “bit scared” getting her COVID-19 vaccine. But she rolled up her sleeve as part of a new push to get thousands of remote residents in central and southern Arnhem land protected against the virus.

Ms Farrell is a board member on Aboriginal-controlled health service Sunrise Health, which is partnering with the Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS) to boost vaccine rates in communities like Ngukurr, Minyerri and Wugularr (Beswick). Ms Farrell said attitudes towards the vaccine were improving but there was still hesitancy to address.

To view the full article click here.

Ngukurr community leaders hosting BBQ at local football oval where people could also get COVID-19 vaccine

Ngukurr community leaders hosted a barbecue at the local football oval where people could also get COVID-19 vaccines. Photo: Royal Flying Doctor Service. Image source: ABC News.

COVID-19 communications approach for Mob

The National COVID Vaccine Taskforce has produced an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communication campaign slide deck. This campaign provides an overview of the communications approach for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander audiences, including creation of custom designs and relevant assets with Indigenous artwork.

One of the resources available, is the below video of Tatum Moore, Wiradjuri, Yorta Yorta and Barkindji woman and local Dubbo community leader, encouraging everyone to stay home, get tested, and get the COVID-19 vaccine.

Youth programs key to reduce family violence

Teaching young people how to identify healthy and respectful relationships helps mitigate experiences of family violence for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, according to a report led by The Australian National University (ANU).

In the FaCts study, which is a first of its kind, researchers analysed responses from 1,600 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to understand how to reduce family violence in their communities. The Indigenous-led study, commissioned by the Department of Social Services, found support services must be orientated around families and broader kinship systems.

“We found that culturally informed education programs work,” study director Dr Jill Guthrie, from the ANU Research School of Population Health, said. “It is important to have Aboriginal Torres Strait Islander communities lead the change. “Programs like Young Luv engage with Aboriginal teenagers at a stage when destructive patterns in relationships may have started to happen or become normalised.”

To view the ANU article in full click here.

ANU researcher Jill Guthrie standing in stairwell

Study Director Jill Guthrie : “It is important to have Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities lead the change.” Image source: ANU website.

ACCHO values important carer role

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander carers provide ongoing care, support and assistance to family members and friends with disability, a chronic illness (which includes mental illness), terminal illness or who is frail aged, without receiving a salary or wage for the care they provide. 12.4% of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population are carers, compared to 10.5% of the non-Indigenous Australian population.

Derbarl Yerrigan Health Serivce Aboriginal Corporation is one ACCHO that values and recognises the important role of carers as key partners in the delivery of high quality care, and is committed to supporting carers through inclusion and responsiveness as per the Carers Recognition Act 2004.

DYSAC supports the four principles of the WA Carers Charter, including:

  1. Carers must be treated with respect and dignity
  2. The role of carers must be recognised by including carers in the assessment, planning, delivery and review of services that impact on them and the role of carers.
  3. The views and needs of carers must be taken into account along with the views, needs and best interests of people receiving care when decisions are made that impact on carers and the role of carers.
  4. Complaints made by carers in relation to services that impact on them and the role of carers must be given due attention and consideration.

To view this information on the DYSAC website click here. You can also access information and resources for carers on the Carers Australian website here.

Culturally safe suicide bereavement support

The Australian government is providing $15 million over three years to Thirrili Ltd, to provide culturally-appropriate bereavement support and follow-up services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Thirrili was selected as the national provider following a competitive grants process.

Minister for Indigenous Australians, the Hon Ken Wyatt AM, MP, said mental health and suicide prevention is a national priority, including suicide postvention services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

Thirrili will help to reduce adverse health outcomes for families and communities who suffer a suicide and assist in addressing further suicidal behaviours, particularly through their 24-hour help line – 1800 805 801.

To view the media release in full click here.

Mena Condo crouching down against Aboriginal art mural

NPY Women’s Council domestic violence case worker Mena Condo found limited suicide bereavement services in Alice Springs following her son Jack’s death. 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

Asthma Week 2021

2.7 million Australians are living with asthma (1 in 9).  With air pollution being a regular thing we breathe in, the risks and impacts for people with asthma are getting harder. But it’s not just people with asthma who are impacted. Air pollution, from traffic exhaust to your gas cook-top, can be damaging our lungs and your general health. When we breathe in certain air pollutants, the risk of developing conditions like asthma, heart or lung disease and cancer can increase. Didn’t know? That’s okay.

This Asthma Week – Wednesday 1 to Thursday 7 September 2021 – Asthma Australia has joined forces with key respiratory, health and climate organisations to encourage Australians to care as much about the air they breathe as the food they eat.

The Asthma Week Collaborative is launching – ‘Air Nutrition – you are what you breathe – to educate Australians to think differently about the air we’re breathing in and to take simple steps for a healthier life. For more information visit Asthma Australia’s website here.

 

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: COVID-19 impact on young mob

COVID-19 impact on young mob

NACCHO CEO Pat Turner spoke with Dan Bourchier on ABC News about the COVID-19 outbreak in western NSW and the vaccination roll-out and uptake in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

Ms Turner said that it was very concerning to see the average age of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who contracted COVID-19 in NSW in the last day was 24 years old.

“I am really concerned about the impact it’s having on our young people and I implore you all to please stay at home,” said Ms Turner.

She also said she was very pleased to see that daily increases of the Pfizer vaccine is being rolled out in Western NSW.

“We really need all of the state health authorities to be working in partnership and collaborating with our community controlled health sector and making sure they have a constant supply,” she said.

You can view the interview below.

 

Culturally safe vaccination services crucial

Lieutenant General John Frewen, Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly and CEO of NACCHO Pat Turner have co-signed a letter addressing COVID-19 vaccinations for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

The letter that will be sent to Australian COVID-19 vaccine delivery partners states that we all have an important role to play in providing culturally safe vaccination services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

“For all Indigenous Australians to be vaccinated and bridge the current gap, we are asking the whole primary care sector to work together and ensure there is equitable COVID-19 vaccine uptake across Australia.”

You can download the letter here.

An article by Croakey Health Media addresses the same issue: Rushed efforts to halt the alarming spread of COVID-19 in Aboriginal communities in western NSW will fail if they do not have cultural safety at their core. That’s the warning from national, state and local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health leaders. Responses that are not culturally safe will risk adding to vaccine hesitancy and disengagement with public health orders and add to the trauma experienced by Aboriginal people amid a public health emergency.

Donna Murray, CEO of Indigenous Allied Health Australia (IAHA), said there are “huge risks” in “shipping out” mainstream health teams that have not worked before in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities or done cultural safety training. Failure to understand Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander ways of “knowing, being and doing” often ends up in non-Indigenous people and services making uninformed judgements or blaming communities “and then that turns people off being vaccinated”, she said.

You can read the article in Croakey Health Media here.

Walgett Aboriginal Medical Service's Belinda Woodham, Scott Porter & Katrina Ward joined by volunteers from @Uni_Newcastle School Nursing & Midwifery Professors Amanda Johnson, Rhonda Wilson, Donna Hartz with Managers Sally Loughnan & Tabitha Jones of Royal Flying Doctor Service. Photo courtesy of Dharriwaa Elders Group, Croakey Health Media.

Walgett Aboriginal Medical Service’s Belinda Woodham, Scott Porter & Katrina Ward joined by volunteers from @Uni_Newcastle School Nursing & Midwifery Professors Amanda Johnson, Rhonda Wilson, Donna Hartz with Managers Sally Loughnan & Tabitha Jones of Royal Flying Doctor Service. Photo courtesy of Dharriwaa Elders Group, Croakey Health Media.

 

COVID-19 arrives in Bourke

The Army has been called into western NSW, and drive-through clinics are being set up in Dubbo, in a race to vaccinate the community as the COVID outbreak worsens. The outback town of Bourke had its first case confirmed earlier this week, along with further cases in Dubbo, Walgett and Mudgee.

“Nearly 40 per cent are kids between the ages of 10 and 19,” Western NSW Health’s Mr McLachlan said.

“This is a really serious warning for parents of kids running around everywhere at the moment. Please stay home.”

Mr McLachlan said there were low rates of vaccination among Aboriginal children and called on people to get vaccinated, and stressed that Pfizer is available. He urged residents to reach out to local Aboriginal Medical Centres, GP’s, vaccination hubs, respiratory clinics and prompted use of the Health Direct website.

You can read the article online at the NITV website.
To check where you can get your vaccine, visit the Health Direct website here.

Sign for Bourke Aboriginal Health Service. Image source: NITV website.

Sign for Bourke Aboriginal Health Service. Image source: NITV website.

 

Getting vaccinated as COVID-19 gets close

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Why Adam Goodes got the COVID-19 vaccine

feature tile text 'Adam Goodes tells us why he got the COVID-19 vaccine' drawing of syringes

Why Adam Goodes got the COVID-19 vaccine

Adnyamathanha and Narungga man Adam Goodes has explained (see video below) why he chose to get the COVID-19 vaccine and the importance of understanding the risks of COVID-19, and the benefits of vaccination. “Having my first injection does give me a peace of mind that I am doing my part and helping our families and our communities. To be honest, I have put a lot of thought into getting the COVID vaccination.”

“The obstetrician told us that my wife was able to get vaccinated to protect her and our baby. That made it very clear to me that is was very safe and it’s something that not only I, but all of us should really have a think about. Understand the risks involved in contracting COVID-19. I think it’s very important that all of us here in Australia should get vaccinated to protect our family and friends.”

“To my Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander brothers and sisters, it’s just as important for us to know the risks of COVID-19. But more importantly, the benefits of being vaccinated and the benefits to our mob and all of us going out there and getting that jab. Now that I’ve had my first injection, being vaccinated, it’s definitely something that I feel really proud about, not only to help protect myself and my family, but for me to do my part. By getting vaccinated, it’s helping us all move closer to getting back to normality. I’m arming myself against COVID-19 to protect myself, my family and the community.”

For COVID-19 vaccine information refer to state/territory health advice, ATAGI, Commonwealth.

Illustration in feature tile: Heads of State. Image source: WIRED website.

Boost in COVID-19 vaccines for ACCHOs

With COVID-19 numbers growing across NSW the AH&MRC has advocated for increased COVID-19 vaccines for ACCHOs to ensure the safety of Aboriginal people and communities. AH&MRC is proudly supporting 46 clinics across 29 ACCHOs in NSW to deliver the COVID-19 vaccine, with 8 clinics set to receive record numbers of vaccine doses.

Outbreaks of COVID-19 in regional NSW over the last two weeks have seen COVID-19 cases emerge in areas such as Dubbo and Walgett with close contact locations including Maitland, Mudgee, Bathurst and Orange. As the Aboriginal Health Peak Body in New South Wales, the AH&MRC has played a central role in supporting the ACCHOs to roll out the COVID-19 vaccines.

ACCHOs have delivered safe and effective COVID-19 responses to their communities for nearly 18 months now since the pandemic began. Strong communication around social distancing, isolation and quarantine have led to small numbers of Aboriginal cases of COVID-19. The current outbreak in the Greater Sydney area is now seeing cases move out into regional areas with high populations of Aboriginal people. ACCHOs that were receiving up to 120 doses of the Pfizer vaccine per week are now set to receive up to 600 doses per week in high-risk areas.

“In order to keep our people safe, it is essential that the ACCHO sector, including the AH&MRC, have the support of the Ministry of Health and other NSW Government branches. We are a priority population and we need action. We’re seeing workforce fatigue because we haven’t been resourced to be the leaders of the vaccine rollout for Aboriginal people. We can’t continue to foot the bill for this.” said Jade Hansen, Manager of Service Performance and Quality at the AH&MRC.

To view the AH&MRC’s media release in full click here.

vaccine being injected into arm

Image source: UNSW Sydney.

Pleas for Mob to talk about COVID-19 risks

The Mayor of Dubbo has pleaded with the Aboriginal community to speak up about the risks of COVID-19 as the cluster in Western NSW significantly increased.

Dubbo Mayor Stephen Lawrence again reinforced the health advice to stay at home and called upon members of the cities’ Aboriginal community to speak up. “Really, really important for the Aboriginal community to be strong advocates, as they have been, on this issue,” he said.

“If you are Aboriginal in West Dubbo, you can help by contacting your family and friends, especially people that might not be hearing these important health messages. Speak to your family, explain to them the urgent need to stay home. There’s been great reactions from leaders, Elders, sportspeople making social media videos, contributing to media, speaking out loudly to their community.”

To view the SBS NITV article in full click here.

Dubbo aerial view

Dubbo has seen a rise in COVID-19 cases. Image source: Nine News website.

Don’t believe the myths

As country and state leaders set their sites on vaccination goals to lift current COVID-19 restrictions, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are being urged to bolster the efforts and protect our communities.

On the frontline of the call to action is Gurdanji-Arrernte woman and head of NACCHO, Pat Turner OAM. In a high-risk category, Ms Turner described the process of receiving two doses of the Astra Zeneca vaccine as uneventful. “I had no reaction apart from a very sore arm and a bit of a headache,” she told NITV’s The Point. “I went home, took a panadol, went to bed – I woke up fine.”

As of 10 August about 150,000 First Nations people have received a dose of a COVID vaccine – equating to 27.9% of our population. 75,000 have been fully vaccinated, which is 13.6% of our people, figures that are well behind the wider population.

It’s a major concern for ACCHOs across the country, that have recently ordered 197, 246 doses of both the Pfizer and Astra Zeneca. Ms Turner wants First Nations peoples to take advantage of the supply.

“Don’t listen to all the myths, listen to the medical advice, listen to our health services,” she said. “Speak to the doctors if you have any concerns, but be rest assured you will have 99.9% protection if you get vaccinated against getting seriously ill and hospitalised.”

To view the article in full click here.

NACCHO CEO Pat Turner speaking on NITV The Point

Head of NACCHO, Pat Turner, is calling on mob to take advantage of vaccine supplies heading to ACCHOs. Image source: NITV.

Spreads as quick as a grass fire

Coonamble Aboriginal Medical Service CEO Phil Naden said a case there had seemed inevitable. “The reality has now hit home that this spreads as quick as a grass fire,” he said.

A 27-year-old man, released on bail from Bathurst prison, travelled six hours home to Walgett in the state’s north-west, passing through Coonamble on the way. At the time, the man had no inkling that a COVID-19 test he had taken in jail would soon come back positive.

The news was greeted with alarm in towns like Walgett and Coonamble, where around a third of the population is Aboriginal.

You can view the ABC news article in full here.

Coonamble AMS CEO Phil Naden portrait shot with green trees in background

Coonamble Aboriginal Medical Service CEO Phil Naden says the region was expecting a COVID case. Photo supplied: AH&MRC. Image source: ABC News website.

Calls for Indigenous vaccine data release

Under the current roll out plan, Indigenous Australians aged 55 and over have been classified as a 1B priority group since March. In June, it was expanded to all Indigenous people aged 16 and over.

But there is growing concern the vaccination rates of First Nations people are lagging behind the rest of the nation. Just 14% of First Nations people nationally are fully vaccinated compared to the overall national rate of 25%.

Figures released by the federal government show vaccination rates in WA’s Kimberley and Pilbara regions are lagging at 8.6%. It’s among the lowest in the nation.

Unlike NZ, the Australian Government does not provide a breakdown of vaccination rates for our First Nations people. It’s something that opposition Indigenous Australians spokesman and Wiradjuri woman Linda Burney insists must change. Labor is calling on the government to release daily data on local First Nations vaccination rates and on the availability of vaccines.

“The lockdown of Walgett Shire has exposed the low vaccination rates among First Nations people, in particular in regional and remote communities,” she said. “But the issue of First Nations vaccination now as it stands must begin with accountability and transparency. And that means publishing their data and being able to identify the areas that lack supply, and ensuring they don’t get left behind.”

It follows a similar call from NACCHO, who last week demanded greater transparency amid fears the lack of vaccine data could leave big gaps for communities to be exposed to the virus.

You can read the article in full here.

Linda Burney MP

Linda Burney has urged the government to release vaccination data daily. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Gaye Gerard. Image source: The Australian.

Walgett Elders’ COVID-19 fears

Uncle Victor Beale hoped COVID-19 would never reach his hometown of Walgett. But as NSW’s outbreak worsens, remote and regional communities like Walgett and Dubbo are now experiencing the same fear and uncertainty that has gripped cities around the country, and the world, for the past 18 months.

“I thought Walgett is one of the safest places on earth, we’ve been very lucky… [but now] there’s a lot of anxious people,” the 66-year-old Gamilaroi elder said.

The north-western NSW town and seven surrounding areas were plunged into a 7-day lockdown last Wednesday {11 August 2021] after a local man tested positive following his release from Bathurst jail.

“People just don’t know what’s gonna happen. They’re very tough these people out here, they handle just about everything, but when something sneaks up on you like this, it’s a whole different ball game,” Mr Beale said.

According to the 2016 Census, more than 40% of Walgett’s population identify as Indigenous, and many of them suffer from multiple chronic health conditions. The town has a four-bed hospital, and the nearest larger hospital is a three-hour drive away in Dubbo. Concerns are mounting about the strain on local health facilities if things get worse.

“We’ll be doing the best we can. We want to try and keep people on country if we can, but at the same time it’s going to be what’s best for them for medical treatment,” acting CEO of Walgett’s Aboriginal Medical Service Katrina Ward said.

To view the news article in full click here.

Katrina Ward, Acting CEO of Walgett Aboriginal Medical Service

Katrina Ward, Acting CEO of Walgett Aboriginal Medical Service. 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