NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Embedding cultural determinants of health in policy

feature tile text ' Lowitja Institute report offers blueprint for embedding cultural determinants of health in policy & practice

Embedding cultural determinants in health policy

A new report published by Lowitja Institute provides a blueprint for placing culture at the core of policies affecting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, showing how the cultural determinants of health can be implemented into policy and practice.

Lowitja institute CEO Dr Janine Mohamed said the report Culture is key: towards cultural determinants-driven health policy outlines how culture is a protective factor for health and wellbeing and needs to be integrated and valued within health policy frameworks and programs, and also in broader government policies. “For Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, the cultural determinants are an essential part of our identity and are protective factors of health and wellbeing, anchored in ways of knowing, doing and being that have continued for tens of thousands of years,” she said. “However, this holistic concept of health is often neglected in government approaches to our health and wellbeing because it does not align with dominant culture or western perspectives and is not understood or fully appreciated by policymakers,” she said.

Dr Mohamed said the new Closing the Gap National Agreement and the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan refresh offer a unique window of opportunity for the government to invest in cultural determinant-driven whole-of-government policy.

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

Lowitja Institute is hosting a webinar on Thursday 29 April 2021 to support the release of the report. For more details or to register for the webinar, click here. For more information about the report or to arrange an interview with Dr Janine Mohamed, please contact Amy Hofman on 0405 114 930.

young Aboriginal girl Allorah Saunders with face paint, wearing t-shirt with Aboriginal flag, hanging from a bar, head half concealed by her arm

Allorah Saunders, whose health care is provided by the Tharawal Aboriginal Corporation Medical Service in western Sydney. Photo: Steven Siewert. Image source: Oxfam Australia.

Mental health & suicide prevention interim report

The House Select Committee on Mental Health and Suicide Prevention (the Select Committee) has released its interim report. The Committee’s interim report includes an update on the Committee’s activities to date, and emerging themes identified through recent reports into Australia’s mental health system and engagement with the Productivity Commission, National Mental Health Commission and Department of Health.

Chair of the Committee, Dr Fiona Martin MP, said ‘The interim report provides a snapshot of the breadth of work underway on mental health and suicide prevention. It also identifies some areas that the Committee feels need further examination as the inquiry progresses. These areas include the divide between public and private mental healthcare, coordination and funding of mental health services, affordability, the growth of telehealth and digital services in response to COVID-19, and the role of professional bodies in advocating for, regulating and supporting the workforce.’

To view the media release in full click here.

drawing of a bust sliced into 7 sections, inside of slices is red, outside of slices are white, reflected on black surface, dark grey background

Image source: The Medical Journal of Australia.

The Hon David Coleman MP, Assistant Minister to the Prime Minister for Mental Health & Suicide Prevention delivered a speech at the Suicide Prevention Australia Symposium 2021 earlier today in which he released the National Suicide Prevention Adviser’s final advice.

pile of 4 lots of paper with dog clips on desk, potted plant blurred in background

Image source: The Mandarin.

Change makers create future they want

“We can all be superheroes, we can save the world, we’ve just got to care enough to do it,” says JK-47, the 23-year-old rising star of Australian rap on what he is trying to communicate through his music. He is one of the passionate change makers who answered the call the ABC put out for young people to tell them how they are coping with a world that is increasingly scary.

It is hard not to feel disempowered in the face of stories about climate change, racism, new wars, and now global pandemics — particularly when you are young. However, the teenagers and 20-somethings featured in the article have discovered a way to create the future they want to grow into.

To view the full ABC News article click here.

black & white photo of rapper JK-47's face with white paint lines, fingers raised to face against trunk of a gum tree

JK-47’s debut album Made For This features lyrics about the daily injustices First Nation people face. Photo: Kiarney Mulyono. Image source: ABC News website.

Healthy sexual relationships campaign

WA’s new HealthySexual campaign is all about preventing, testing, treating and talking to minimise the personal and social impact of sexually transmitted infections (STIs). With outbreaks of infectious syphilis occurring in metropolitan, regional and remote parts of the state and notifications rising over the past five years, it’s a timely reminder to be aware of and talk about sexual health.

In 2020, notifications of infectious syphilis in WA were 26% higher than the previous year. The Department of Health’s Sexual Health and Blood-borne Virus Program Manager, Lisa Bastian said outbreaks of STIs over much of the state had placed populations at risk and prompted a more mainstream prevention campaign for the general community. She said an outbreak that started in the Kimberley region in June 2014 had spread to the Pilbara in February 2018 and the Goldfields in January 2019.

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

banners from WA Healthy Sexual Campaign text 'anyone can be a Healthy Sexual, Talk, Test, Protect, When you look after yourself, you look after all of us' talk has a photo of a girl with glasses & very broad smile, test has a photo of a man with eyeshadow with hands holding rainbow coloured braces, protect has bald man with goaty beard & hawaiian shirt, last slide has a young smiling woman with long wavy golden hair

Image source: Government of WA Department of Health.

Deaths in custody, every family has a story

A detective visited the parents of a young Aboriginal man; a warrant had been issued for their son’s arrect. ‘We’re going to get your son; he’s going to be locked up,’ the detective told them. ‘But if you get him to come around now, I can guarantee you that the arrest will be a non-eventful process. He won’t be harmed; we’ll put him into custody, he’ll serve his time and then he can get on with his life.’

The request went against their instincts, but the parents agreed. When their son arrived, however, the promise fell through. ‘They grabbed him, ruffed him up and smashed him into the fence, causing a head injury,’ Professor Peter O’Mara, a Wiradjuri man and Chair of RACGP Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health, told newsGP. ‘That young man then went into the system. Approximately one week later, he died.’

To view the newsGP article in full click here.

Aboriginal flag billowing in the wind

On average, one Aboriginal life is lost in custody every three weeks. Image source: newsGP.

Stan Grant has written an in-depth analysis of the reasons for Aboriginal deaths in custody in his article Aboriginal deaths in custody reflect the poor health of Australia’s democracy. His article begins with some frightening statistics ‘3% of the population comprise nearly 30% of those behind bars. Look closely and it becomes even more alarming. In WA, 40% of prisoners are Indigenous. In the NT, it is more than 80%. Among youth it is even worse. Half of all children in detention nationally are Indigenous. In the NT, more than 90% of all juveniles detained are black.’

‘Despite the recommendations of the royal commission, we are going backwards. The number of Indigenous people imprisoned has increased 100% in the past three decades. Since 1991, more than 400 Indigenous people have died in custody. Thirty years after the royal commission, things are worse.’

To read Stan Grant’s article click here.

white banner with text in red '30th anniversary' text in black 'roayl commission into Aboriginal deaths in cutody' red text '1991:99 lives; 1991-2021: 500 lives' yeallow text on black separate placard ' Australia is a crime scene under the crown'

Banners at the black deaths in custody Photo: Mitch Abram. Image source: ABC News website.

Young people staying away from jail

Corrie Bell didn’t think he’d make it to his 28th birthday. He’d been taken away from his parents at the age of 15 and didn’t have a lot of hope. “All my life I’ve been living in prison… mentally and emotionally, you know feeling caged in and trapped,” he said. Corie’s a Ngunnawal Kamilaroi man from Campbelltown in south-west Sydney. He told Triple J Hack he had a really rough childhood. “Drugs, alcohol, crime, domestic violence… was very frequent within my family home,” Corie said.

Corie says what he really needed as a kid to keep him out of trouble was stability and guidance from positive role models. Instead he had cops following him, dealers for mates and a bunch of trauma he was trying to drown out. By 18, Corie was sent to jail for robbery and reckless wounding. He says he was so drunk he didn’t even realise where he was.

To view the Triple J HACK article What do young people need to stay away from jail? in full click here.

Uncle Glen from The Glen Centre with white face paint standing in front of 9 men, 8 with faces & chests painted with white paint & one with a black t-shirt & white paint on his forehead

Uncle Glenn (front) says ‘The Glen Centre’ adopts a holistic approach to rehabilitation, with a focus on integrating Indigenous culture and spirituality. Image source: ABC News website.

In a related story, Amnesty International Australia have expressed disappointment that the Committee charged with investigating the proposed youth justice amendments in Queensland has recommended the amendments pass, despite its own report being full of evidence that they will do nothing to address youth crime. The youth justice amendments seek to take a punitive approach to young children who often have complex needs the justice system is ill equipped to address, and which ultimately condemn these kids to life in the quagmire of the criminal justice system. Amnesty International Australia Indigenous Rights Campaigner Maggie Munn gave evidence at the committee hearings.

To view Amnesty International Australia’s media release click here.

two Aboriginal youths in Darwin Don Dale Juvenile Prison

Youth detained in a Darwin prison. Image source: ABC News website.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: acceleration of efforts to reduce overincarceration

feature tile text 'Joint Council agrees to accelerate collective efforts to reduce overincarceration of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people' & photo of an Aboriginal man's hands through prison bars

Acceleration of efforts to reduce overincarceration

The Joint Council on Closing the Gap met today and acknowledged the 30th anniversary of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody and agreed that joined up work between all governments in partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander representatives is critical to reducing the rate at which Indigenous people are incarcerated, and thereby reduce deaths in custody. Given the urgency and enduring nature of this issue Joint Council agreed to the high priority of accelerating the critical work to establish a Policy Partnership on Justice with the aim of reducing youth and adult incarceration.

Patricia Turner AM, Lead Convener of the Coalition of Peaks said “It’s vital that governments, in partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander representatives, are taking urgent and decisive steps to address the overincarceration of our peoples. For the first time, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander representatives will be at the table with Ministers, Attorneys’-General, government officials, corrections, policing, housing and health under a formal shared decision making arrangement.”

To view the Coalition of Peaks media release click here.

protest march with placard of Aboriginal flag overlaid with text 'most incarcerated people on earth'

Photo: Getty. Image source: BBC News website.

Aboriginal people still dying in custody

Aboriginal man David Dungay Jr died in a Sydney prison cell in 2015 after officers restrained him to stop him eating biscuits. During the struggle, he was pinned face-down by guards and jabbed with a sedative. Video later shown at his inquest captured his final moments: his laboured breathing and muffled screams under the pack of guards. “I can’t breathe,” he yelled repeatedly.

His case has parallels to that of African-American man George Floyd, whose death triggered global protests against racism and policing in the US. The Black Lives Matter movement also threw a spotlight on Australia’s own incarceration of indigenous people and their deaths in custody.

This week marks 30 years since a landmark inquiry into Aboriginal deaths in custody. The royal commission made hundreds of recommendations to address the crisis. But three decades on, the situation has worsened. Central to the problem is overrepresentation. Indigenous people are about 12 times more likely to be in custody than non-indigenous Australians.

That reality, a product of systemic problems and disadvantage faced by Aboriginal people, has prompted fresh anger over a lack of action. “The system is continuing to kill us and no one’s doing anything about it,” Paul Silva, the nephew of David Dungay Jr, said at a rally this week.

To view the BBC article in full click here.

2 young Aboriginal women BLM protestors, one with t-shirt Always Was Always Will Be holding up hands covered in red paint to indicate blood, other woman holding Aboriginal flag behind her with raised arms, t-shirt with text black' and Aboriginal flag broken into 4 horizontal rectangular segments

Photo: Getty: Image source: BBC News website.

Deaths in custody & intergenerational healing

The Healing Foundation CEO Fiona Cornforth spoke with Dan Bourchier, ABC Radio 666 Canberra ‘Afternoons’ yesterday about the 30-year anniversary of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody and intergenerational healing.

Fiona Cornforth said “it is an important time to do that reflecting. Though it’s something we carry every day, I think, as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Unfortunately, we’re at a point now where we’ve lost hope in recommendations being fully implemented, despite all our voices being in these reports over time and people being generous and courageous to put forward their stories, time and time again. Where the solutions are in community, the solutions are given up as important by those with lived experience. But the powers that be and the complex system, the incarceration system, and all the service providers, the big web just can’t seem to get these recommendations out of the too hard basket.”

You can view a transcript of the interview here.

Aboriginal adult hand with small Aboriginal child's hand holding one of the fingers

Image source: Parks Australia website.

NDIS independent assessments on hold

The Morrison government has decided to delay introducing mandatory independent assessments (IAs) for the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), in a move strongly welcomed by disability groups.

New NDIS Minister Linda Reynolds said earlier this week that she would not be making any decisions around in IAs legislation until an IA trial was finished and the government could examine the feedback. While people currently need to get reports from multiple health providers of their choosing to assess their NDIS eligibility, the new mandatory assessments will be conducted by NDIS-appointed healthcare professionals using standardised tools.

The decision to introduce IAs has been met with overwhelming opposition from disability advocates, who say the process does not adequately capture the complexity of a person’s support needs and will lead to unfair outcomes for people with disability. Reynolds acknowledged the “significant feedback” IAs have already received, and said she would be consulting across the country with as many stakeholders as she could. Disability groups – who feared people would disengage from the scheme entirely because of their unwillingness to engage with IAs – strongly welcomed the minister’s comments.

To view the Pro Bono Australia article in full click here.

rear view of seat and wheel of a wheelchai

Image source: Pro Bono Australia News website.

The more that have the vaccine, the safer we’ll be

NACCHO CEO and lead convenor of the Coalition of Peaks, Pat Turner and NACCHO Deputy CEO, Dr Dawn Casey received their first AstraZeneca vaccines at Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health and Community Services last week. “The more people have the vaccinations, the safer we will be,” said Pat. “We’ve managed to keep our community free of any deaths from COVID-19 to date and we want to continue that outstanding record.”

Contact your local Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation or GP to find out when you can receive your vaccine and to ask any questions you may have. To view the  Pat Turner’s video click here.

photo of Pat Turner receiving vaccine, text 'NACCHO CEO & Lead Convenor of the Coalition of Peaks PAT TURNER'

Review of kidney transplant wait-listing

Research has confirmed poor access to wait-listing for kidney transplantation for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians from the NT. The study found causes of delays to wait-listing included: failure to attend appointments due to competing priorities and communication barriers, access and navigating complex pathways to specialist services, transport, co-morbidities requiring multiple tests and multiple specialty services, and pressures on dialysis and hospital bed capacity.

The study concluded that barriers to wait-listing for kidney transplantation for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians are complex and can be addressed by redesigning healthcare provision, including increasing the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander workforce to provide education and patient navigation of the healthcare system and improve communication, streamlining investigations and coordinating specialist services.

To view the full research paper here.

health professional in green gown, green rubber gloves holding white box with red text ' HUMAN ORGAN FOR TRANSPLANT' against surgical theatre background

Image source: Renal and Urology News.

Lessons from subsidised spectacles scheme

A study has been undertaken to determine what lessons can be learned from the Victorian Aboriginal Spectacles Subsidy Scheme (VASSS). The VASSS, which started in July 2010 and has operated continually since, aims to improve access to visual aids and eye care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Victorians.

An estimated 10,853 VASSS cofunded visual aids were delivered over the first 6 years of the scheme. During that time the mean annual number of comprehensive eye examinations provided within services using VASSS grew 4.6-fold faster compared with the 4 years preceding the VASSS. VASSS achievements were attained through collaborations, flexibility, trust and communication between organisations, all facilitated by funding resulting from evidence-based advocacy.

Access to visual aids and eye examinations by Aboriginal Victorians has improved during the operation of the VASSS, with associated direct and indirect benefits to Aboriginal health, productivity and quality of life. The success of the VASSS may be replicable in other jurisdictions and provides lessons that may be applicable in other fields.

To view the full research paper click here.

Aboriginal man wearing eye test equipment spectacles

Image source: Optometry Australia website.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: 30 years on, deaths in custody a national shame

feature tile text '30 years on from Royal Commission report Aboriginal deaths in custody a national shame' transparent Aboriginal flay overlaying Aboriginal hands holding jail bars

30 years on, deaths in custody a national shame

Today marks the 30th anniversary of the of the Report of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody (RCIADIC) and numerous stakeholder organisations have released statements condemning the continued failure of governments to implement all of the report’s recommendations.

The Partnership for Justice in Health (P4JH) said it stands in solidarity with the grieving families and communities of loved ones who have died in custody due to a failure of governments to effectively implement the clear and comprehensive recommendations outlined in the RCIADIC report. The P4JH said all levels of government must reflect on the loss and grief that could have been prevented had they acted on the recommendations as a matter of priority in 1991 and in the years since. “We are sending our strength to those families and friends whose grief and trauma is compounded by that continued failure of Australian governments to act with resolve and commitment,” said the P4JH co-chairs Dr Janine Mohamed, CEO of the Lowitja Institute and Karl Briscoe, CEO of the National Association of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workers and Practitioners (NAATSIHWP). To view P4JH’s media release click here.P4JH logo

Indigenous Allied Health Australia (IAHA) released a statement acknowledging the deep loss and grief of families and friends whose loved ones have passed away while in custody, both before and since the RCIADIC report. IAHA said ‘we are at our best when we go beyond empathy and act to reduce the causes of that grief and loss. We must do that now.’ IAHA called for the full implementation of the RCIADIC report’s recommendations. To view the IAHA’s media release click here.IAHA logoThe Australian Indigenous Doctors’ Association (AIDA) said that ‘Aboriginal deaths in custody continue to occur to this day – and the over-representation of our people in custody – is a national travesty. This is an abject failure of Australian governments. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people suffer unacceptably high levels of physical illness, mental illness and suicide. There is ample evidence that grief, stress and trauma make us sick and incidents such as ongoing deaths and over-representation – further add to the burden of health and disadvantage. Racism and unconscious bias – institutional, systemic and individual – is an unacceptable fact of life for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Culturally safe services can support service providers to confront and understand cultural difference and deliver effective and safe services to our people.’ AIDA called on all governments to accept, and to address racism and unconscious biases that are embedded in police, prison, legal and health systems. To view AIDA’s media release click here.AIDA logoThe National Native Title Council (NNTC) similarly said that three decades on from the RCIADIC report the rate of Indigenous incarceration and deaths in custody continues to be one of our country’s greatest shames. The NNTC referred to research from The Guardian that found Indigenous peoples who died in custody were “more likely to not have been charged with any crime” and were “three times more likely to not receive all required medical care, when compared to non-Indigenous people”. The Royal Commission made 339 recommendations, of which more than one hundred have not been implemented. To view the NNTC’s media release click here.National Native Title Council logo

Change the Record says it is a national shame that in the three decades since the RCIADIC report, state, territory and Commonwealth governments have failed to implement the majority of the report’s recommendations – and as a result ‘our people are still dying at horrendous rates.’ To view the Change the Record’s media release click here.Change the Record logo

Human Rights Watch agreed that the Australian government’s continued failure to address Indigenous deaths in custody tarnishes the country’s rights record and global standing. To view the Human Rights Watch article click here.

Oxfam Australia Chief Executive Lyn Morgain said: “Today is a historic and shameful day for our nation. Thirty years ago, the landmark report of the RCIADIC revealed the full extent of the danger that our justice system presents to First Peoples, and laid out the path we needed to take to make things right. Thirty years on, and things are much worse – with incarceration rates of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people more than doubling in relative terms. Our leaders have been missing in action on this issue. They have failed to implement many of the report’s 334 recommendations, and they have failed to show care and compassion for First Peoples by changing an unfair and unjust system.” To view Oxfam Australia’s media release click here.OXFAM Australia logo

Thirty years ago Robert Tickner AO, the Aboriginal Affairs Minister in the Hawke government, presented the RCIADIC report to the national Parliament. Now as the Chair of the Justice Reform Initiative he said “It is to our great shame that 30 years later, we have progressed so little. We cannot wait another 30 years for real change.” The report made 339 recommendations, including that imprisonment should only occur as a last resort. This recommendation was adopted by all Australian Governments including by every State and Territory Government from all political persuasions. This support was given on the back of incontestable evidence that jailing was failing Aboriginal people. To view the media release click here. Justice Reform Initiative logo

Cairns ACCHO gives students a strong start

Commencing on 22 April, six students in Year 11 from Bentley Park College and Trinity Bay State High School, will start a school-based traineeship at Wuchopperen Health Service (Wuchopperen) to kickstart their health career with 100% Indigenous owned and operated Group Training Organisation, Australian Training Works Group (ATW), leading the recruitment drive.

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Traineeship Program, ‘Strong Start’, will give Indigenous youth a head start, achieving a nationally recognised qualification and on the job training while completing year 11 and 12. “By allowing students to gain work skills while completing school, they’re able to work towards a goal, whether that be higher education or transition to work,” says Rachael Ham, Deputy CEO at Wuchopperen. To view the media release in full click here.

photo L–R: Tony Marten (owner & Managing Director at ATW), Wendy Burke (Director of Health Services at Wuchopperen), Rachael Ham (Deputy CEO at Wuchopperen) standing in front of Wuchopperen banner

L–R: Tony Marten (owner & Managing Director at Australian Training Works), Wendy Burke (Director of Health Services at Wuchopperen), Rachael Ham (Deputy CEO at Wuchopperen).

Health sector’s role in deaths in custody

As Australia marks the 30th anniversary of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody (RCIADIC)  the health sector has been urged to reflect on whether it is part of the problem or offering solutions. Associate Professor Megan Williams, Wiradjuri justice health researcher and educator, has identified multiple areas where the sector has failed to address the health needs of prisoners.

Professor Williams says ‘justice is essential for health, for all people in Australia. How we disregard the Royal Commission recommendations is as sick as how we treat First Peoples. $40 million, three years of testimony and evidence about 99 Aboriginal deaths in custody in the 1991 final report and 339 recommendations. But what about deaths since? More than 474. Barely a family have not been affected by Aboriginal deaths in custody, police brutality, poverty or racism. It’s time to make a list of all the government frameworks that overlook, minimise, forget, ignore, exclude, tokenistically mention or silence Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in prison, and all people in prison.’

To view the full Croakey article click here.

End Black Deaths In Dustody rally in Naarm Melbourne to mark 30th anniversary of the Roayl Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody - crowd carrying photos, signs, placards

End Black Deaths In Custody rally in Naarm Melbourne to mark 30th anniversary of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody. Photo by Marie McInerney. Image source: Croakey.

Raising criminal responsibility age urged

National Children’s Commissioner, Anne Hollonds and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, June Oscar AO have urged all Australian governments to raise the age of criminal responsibility as a matter of priority. A report commissioned by a meeting of Attorneys-General in July last year recommended that all jurisdictions raise the age and ensure younger teenagers are not held in detention. Recent reports have suggested that Australian Attorneys-General are considering raising the age from 10 to 12. The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child recommends raising the age of criminal responsibility to 14-years-old as a minimum. As we mark 30 years since the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody handed down its report, it’s important to acknowledge that Indigenous children account for 58% of young people being held on remand and 48% of young people in sentenced detention.

To view the Australian Human Rights Commission media release in full click here.

spray painted image of an Aboriginal child on a brick wall overlaid with white chalk lines representing jail bars

Image: Chris Devers, Flickr. Image source: newmatilda.com.

Mega prison raises fears for prisoner health

Governments often hail the economic benefits that new or expanded prisons bring to regional communities. But what are their health and social impacts? These issues are investigated as part of Croakey’s new Rural Health Justice series. In the feature article launching the series, journalist Linda Doherty explores how Australia’s newest mega jail, the Clarence Correctional Centre (CCC), near Grafton, NSW is affecting the health and wellbeing of prisoners, their families and the local community.

Around 60% of the 155 women prisoners in CCC have dependent children and one-third are Aboriginal women, according to SHINE for Kids which advocates for the human rights of children with a parent in prison, transports children to jail visits, runs evidence-based parenting, cultural and education courses in 27 jails in NSW, Queensland, Victoria, ACT and WA, and funds tutors for primary school children.

Like many of the 339 recommendations of the 1991 Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody that have been ignored by governments, recommendation 168 resonates for the parents in the new CCC facility. It says: “…where possible, an Aboriginal prisoner should be placed in an institution as close as possible to the place of residence of his or her family.”

To view the full article in Croakey click here.

photo of Storytime book called 'Tracks my Country' created by parents in prison for their children

One of the Storytime books created by parents in prison for their children. Image source: SHINE for Kids.

Increasing vaccine take-up in remote NT

In East Arnhem Land, the Miwatj Health Aboriginal Corporation said only 129 of about 5,600 eligible people had received the AstraZeneca vaccine since the rollout began in the region at the start of April. Chief executive Eddie Mulholland told the ABC he expected that number to be higher, but people were now becoming even more reluctant because people are hearing reports of rare blood clotting among recipients of the AstraZeneca vaccine.

The NT’s peak Aboriginal health service is working on a plan to improve the take-up of COVID-19 vaccines after reports of growing reluctance in remote areas. A spokeswoman for the Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance NT said details will be released early next week.

To view the article in full click here.

photo of 9 Aboriginal adults, one holding a baby around table at Miwatj Health indicating they have had a COVID-19 vaccine

All adults in remote communities are eligible for vaccination under phase 1b of the rollout. Photo supplied by: Miwatj Health Aboriginal Corporation. Image source: ABC News website.

COVID-19 radio ads in language

The Australian Government Department of Health has produced a collection of translations of the radio ad, ‘Living the new normal’, in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages. To access the collection click here.DoH banner text 'Keep Our Mob Safe' Coronavirus (COVID-19) Help Stop the Spread and Stay Healthy' against Aboriginal dot art painting in black, gold, pink, light blue, tan

Health system needs to learn from patient experience

The health system in Australia would benefit significantly by paying more attention to the lessons learned from patient experience, the Consumers Health Forum (CHF) says. This is a key message from the latest edition of the Health Voices ejournal which covers the recent Shifting Gears Australasian summit conference of the CHF.

“The value of learning from experience was given fresh power at the inaugural Australasian summit last month,” the CEO of CHF, Leanne Wells, said. “As the conference heard more than once, health consumers, particularly those with chronic conditions are more likely to have deeper knowledge of their overall care than any one health professional dealing with a single aspect of their care. There is much to learn, including from such community-centred programs as the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation success in countering COVID-19.”

To view the Consumes Health Forum of Australia media release click here.

5 stacked wooden blocks, top two & bottom two with black arrows to left, middle with red arrow to the right

Image source: Australian College of Nursing.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: ACCHOs stay the course on vaccine rollout

feature tile text ' ACCHOs are staying the course on vaccine rollout despite challenges' photo of Dr Dawn Casey receiving COVID-19 vaccine at Winnunga

ACCHOs stay the course on vaccine rollout

In 2020, ACCHOs played a key role in keeping Indigenous communities safe and informed about coronavirus. Now, more than 100 of these organisations are helping to vaccinate their communities. But the changed advice around the AstraZeneca vaccine is throwing up challenges and in the Torres Strait and Cape York in Queensland, the rollout has been paused.

NACCHO’s Deputy CEO and co-chair of the COVID-19 Advisory Group for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, Dr Dawn Casey. Dr Lorraine Anderson, Medical Director of Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Services and Dr Tony Brown, Executive Director of Medical Services for the Torres and Cape Hospital and Health Service spoke on ABC Radio National Life Matters with Michael Mackenzie earlier this morning.

To lister to the discussion click here.

Saibai Island (Torres Strait Islands) councillor Conwell Tabuai being vaccinated by nurse Sue Bowler

Saibai Island Councillor Conwell Tabuai being vaccinated by nurse Sue Bowler. Image source: The Sydney Morning Herald.

Wellington Aboriginal Health Service produces vaccine videos

Wellington Aboriginal Corporation Health Service (WACHS) has produced a number of videos featuring health professionals talking about the COVID-19 vaccine.

The first video (2:13 minutes) is of Dr Bijay, General Practitioner, WACHS.

screen shot from video of Dr Bijay Wellington Aboriginal Corporation Health Service talking about the COVID-19 vaccine

Dr Bijay, GP Wellington Aboriginal Corporation Health Service.

Pharmacist Alice Nugent has recorded the following three videos:

What are AstraZeneca and Pfizer? (17:47 minutes)

How does the COVID-19 vaccine work? (2 minutes)

What are Oxford AstraZeneca and Pfizer Biotech? (2 minutes)

screen shot from video of pharmacist Alice Nugent Wellington Aboriginal Corporation Health Service & NACCHO Medicine Policy & Program team

Alice Nugent. Pharmacist – Wellington Aboriginal Corporation Health Service & NACCHO Medicine Policy & Program team.

New resources based on latest AstraZeneca advice

The Department of Health as put together a kit for ACCHOS based on the new recommendations regarding the AstraZeneca vaccine, to support their work with patients.

The resources include:

  • a video featuring Dr Lucas de Toca summarising the new information and recommendations that have arisen regarding AstraZeneca and the change in the vaccination rollout
  • social media content including two new social tiles that ACCHOs can use in promoting the new information to their followers/patients, as well as some suggested captions to use alongside them
  • a poster that can be printed and displayed in your clinics
  • information for ACCHOs – document answering new questions that may arise from patients about the AstraZeneca vaccine.

    vaccine vial with words COVID-19 & text AstraZeneca

    Image source: BBC News.

EveryBODY is Deadly

Over 1 million Australians are living with an eating disorder. Less than a quarter of those receive treatment or support. Butterfly Foundation is a national charity organisation for all Australians impacted by eating disorders and body image issues, and for the families, friends and communities who support them.

Anybody, from any mob, can have eating or body concerns. Eating or body image concerns can weaken your mind, body and spirit. It’s not about your body size – and it’s different for different people. But reaching out to talk it out with friends, family or the free Butterfly Foundation Helpline can help. The helpline is a confidential safe space with qualified counsellors who have ongoing cultural competence training.

Butterfly Foundation talked to two mob about their experience with eating and body image concerns. From their highs and lows, to the way they are rising above, they learned that yarning can help.

Garigarra Mundine is from Dubbo, NSW. She is Wiradjuri and Kamilaroi on her mother’s side, and Bundjulung and Yuin on her father’s. Garra’s passion is to advocate and promote Indigenous culture through art and advocacy. She works for the Australian government in Canberra and uses her weaving skills passed down by elders to create art pieces. To view Garra’s story click here.

To access the Butterfly Foundation’s website click here.

Lives need to be valued & culture known 

Meena Singh, a Yorta Yorta and Indian woman, born and living on the land of the Kulin Nations, is the Legal Director of the Human Rights Law Centre and is currently undertaking her PhD at Melbourne Law School, looking at how the experiences of women of colour as lawyers can impact on legal practice and knowledge. Meena has written an article for IndigenousX examining what keeps us [Aboriginal people] safe, and what will stop more deaths in custody.

To view the IndigenousX article in full click here.

portrait shot of Meena Singh

Meena Singh. Image source: ABC Radio Melbourne.

Youth calls to bridge gap in health system

The challenges facing young people in the health system and potential remedies are aired by Youth Health Forum leaders in a new video released today. The video features two young health leaders, Jasmine Elliott and Roxxanne MacDonald, explaining the challenges for young people in transitioning from child-centred to adult services.

They say a key challenge for young people is that “the current system is not designed for us”.

The video is based on the Youth Health Forum-commissioned report on Life Transitions and Youth Pathways to Health Services which revealed the significant barriers to services facing many young people, particularly those with chronic health conditions.

The report identified six key challenges for young people in health care including trusting health services, transitioning to adult care, delivering digital services and building more equitable services.

To read the Consumers Health Forum of Australia Youth Health Forum media release in full click here.

6 hands reaching in air

Image source: HIMSS website.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: NDIS Ready Indigenous Business Support Funding grant round opening soon

Feature tile text 'NDIS Ready Indigenous Business Support Funding Grant Round Opening Soon' & image of tile with same text & logo artwork

Hi there

You may have accidently received the previous blog post that went out earlier today. Our WordPress site had a ‘whoops’ moment and it was published by mistake.

We apologies for the error! This is the final version of today’s NACCHO Aboriginal Health News.

Thank you.

NDIA Ready IBSF grant round opening soon

Attention NACCHO members!

We are excited to announce that the NDIS Ready Indigenous Business Support Funding (IBSF) grant round will be opening soon!

IBSF offers funding to eligible ACCHOs to help address:

  • basic establishment costs, and/or
  • business and technical challenges in registered and delivering services under the NDIS.

Grants of $20,000 will be available for up to 100 member ACCHOs. ACCHOs will be contacted shortly via email with information about the grants and how to apply.

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

Image source: AbSec website.

Outcry over fifth death in custody in a month

The fifth Indigenous death in custody in a month has provoked an outcry by Aboriginal leaders after a 45-year-old maximum security inmate died in a WA prison. The prisoner from WA’s Casuarina Prison, who has not been publicly identified was taken to the secure wing of Fiona Stanley Hospital in southern Perth where he underwent a medical procedure and was placed in intensive care where he died.

Among the outcry from Indigenous leaders, Victoria’s first Aboriginal politician, Greens Senator Lidia Thorpe posted on Twitter that the man was “the 5th Aboriginal person to die in this country’s criminal legal system since the start of March. The pain is never ending! No justice, no peace!!,” she wrote. Since 1991, almost 500 Indigenous Australians have died in prison or in the custody of police.

To read the full article click here.

Indigenous Senator Lidia Thorpe holding Aboriginal flag & wearing hat with the word Deadly at an Invasion Day rally in January 2021

Indigenous Senator Lidia Thorpe (above at an Invasion Day rally in January) has protested at the fifth death in custody in a month. Picture: Darrian Traynor. Image source: news.com.au

Fears new NDIS assessments not culturally safe

Submissions to a parliamentary inquiry have raised concerns that controversial proposed changes to the NDIS will not serve people from Indigenous and culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds. A parliamentary committee examining controversial independent assessment reforms under the NDIS has been warned about the potential impact of changes on Indigenous and culturally diverse communities.

The inquiry is looking into the proposed changes intended to overhaul the evaluation process for determining an individual’s eligibility for support and funding under the disability support scheme. Currently, people with disability are required to submit evidence from their own experts such as specialists for evaluation by the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA).

The reforms would instead see participants undergo an “independent assessment” from an allied health professional employed by contracted providers – paid for by the Australian government. Critics claim the move is a cost-cutting exercise that will leave participants worse off and undermine their control over the support they receive – a claim strongly denied by the government.

To view the full SBS News article click here.

portrait photo of SA artist Jackie Saunders with her artwork in the background

Ngarrindjeri Wirangu woman and artist Jackie Saunders lives with FASD. Image source: SBS News website.

Funding boost for Indigenous healthcare provider

FIRST Peoples’ Health and Wellbeing has received nearly $2 million to expand its services. The Frankston-based Indigenous healthcare provider’s CEO, Karinda Taylor, said the funding would “ensure that first nations’ people are provided with culturally safe services that meet the health and wellbeing needs of local communities”. The funding was secured through the federal government’s Indigenous Australians’ Health Programme. and is expected to fund service expansion and minor capital costs until 2023.

Dunkley MP Peta Murphy said, “the City of Frankston is home to one of the fastest growing indigenous populations in Victoria. This funding will allow First Peoples’ Health and Wellbeing to continue their crucial work and expand their local services. I’m proud to have lobbied the federal government for this additional funding”.

To view the full article click here.

FIRST Peoples’ Health and Wellbeing’s Naaz Stojkova and Karinda Taylor with MPs Peta Murphy & Paul Edbrooke standing outside FPH&WS shopfront

FIRST Peoples’ Health and Wellbeing’s Naaz Stojkova & Karinda Taylor with MPs Peta Murphy & Paul Edbrooke. Image source: Bayside News.

Crusted scabies NT study

Scabies is listed as a neglected tropical disease by the World Health Organization. Crusted scabies affects vulnerable and immunosuppressed individuals and is highly contagious because of the enormous number of Sarcoptes scabiei mites present in the hyperkeratotic skin. Undiagnosed and untreated crusted scabies cases can result in outbreaks of scabies in residential facilities and can also undermine the success of scabies mass drug administration programs.

Crusted scabies became a formally notifiable disease in the NT in 2016. A 2-year prospective study of crusted scabies cases notified between March 2016 and February 2018, with subsequent follow up for 22 months has been conducted. Demographics, clinical and laboratory data, treatment and outcomes were analysed, with cases classified by severity of disease.

The study concluded that crusted scabies can be successfully treated with aggressive guideline-based therapy, but high mortality remains from underlying comorbidities. Reinfection on return to community is common while scabies remains endemic.

To view the research article in full click here.

crusted scabies manifestation on feet & sarcoptes scabiei mite under the microscope

Sarcoptes scabiei mite under a microscope. Image source: Managing Crusted Scabies in Remote Communities 2017 Edition.

The Lucky Country – but not for all

Australia’s lack of action on climate change, treatment of Indigenous people and the ongoing detention of refugees have been singled out for criticism in Amnesty International’s annual report into the state of human rights around the world: Amnesty International Report 2020/21 – The State of the World’s Human Rights. The report highlighted widespread public support for raising the age of criminal responsibility from 10 to 14, and Australian law makers reluctance to move on an important reform which would have a significant impact on the health and wellbeing of Indigenous children. “Australians like to see ourselves as living in the lucky country, and that’s true for the privileged among us, but there are swathes of our community who are unable to access justice and the basic rights to which we’re all entitled,” Amnesty International Australia National Director, Samantha Klintworth, said.

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

remote Aboriginal community with multiple beds in the open outside a dwelling

Image source: Street Smart Action Against Homelessness website.

Check yourself, before you wreck yourself

A major push to improve the health of the Indigenous community was launched by the Australian Government last month, with a focus on increasing Annual health checks. Backed by a new radio advertising campaign delivered in five Aboriginal languages: Kriol, Yolngu Matha, Warlpiri, Arrernte and Burarra, the Government is encouraging Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to see their GP and have a 715 health check.

The health check, listed as item 715 on the Medicare Benefits Schedule, is tailored specifically to support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people of all ages. It is free and available every nine to twelve months. Minister for Health and Aged Care, Greg Hunt said the health checks are an opportunity for early intervention, prevention and chronic disease management for all age groups.

In one of the campaign’s latest resources comedian Sean Choolburra urges mob to get a regular 715 health check. After completing his 715, Sean says there’s nothing to be afraid of. “It was what I expected – I had my hearing checked, my eyesight checked, and I thought my eyesight has been getting worse, but apparently Dr. Prabash says I have great eyes. No joke, I do have great eyes,” says Sean. “I’d love to bring my kids in because they seem to not hear me. And they don’t seem to see their clothes all over the floor and their empty cups. I think they’re the ones who need their eyes and hearing checked!” Sean jokes.

Further information, including resources for patients and health practitioners is available here.

To view the Minister for Health’s media release click here and to view the Sean Choolburra case study click here.

Aboriginal comedian Sean Choolburra getting ear check by health professional - Sean's mouth is wide open

Comedian Sean Choolburra. Image source: Department of Health.

Suicide rises linked to disasters

NSW suicide deaths data released today highlights the need for immediate action to address distress in our community and future-proof against disasters. According to the NSW Suicide Monitoring and Data Management System there have been 104 suspected or confirmed suicide deaths reported in NSW from 1 January to 31 January 2021. This is significantly more than the number of deaths reported within the same period in 2019 (75) or 2020 (81). Suicide Prevention Australia, CEO, Nieves Murray said, “Any increase in deaths by suicide is a tragedy. The ripple affect across families, workplaces and communities is unfathomable. “The past year has presented many trying circumstances across NSW communities including droughts, bushfires and COVID-19. This has increased risk factors for suicide such as financial distress and unemployment.

To view the Suicide Prevention Australia media release click here.

split image of a tree, half green & lush, half bare branches grey skys

Image source: Psychiatric Times.

COVID-19 vaccine priority groups

In this video, Professor James Ward explains why Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people will be some of the first to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Professor Ward says he’s heard some concerns regarding which vaccine people will get and why the vaccine is being rolled out to our mob first. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, like other Indigenous peoples around the world, will be some of the first to receive the vaccines. This is solely to protect our Elders and those in our communities with underlying health conditions. Without the vaccine, our population will remain susceptible to COVID-19. When it’s your turn to be vaccinated, you’ll have access to whichever vaccine is available at that time. There’ll be enough vaccine doses for everyone in Australia.

VIC or ACT – Melbourne or Canberra – Australian Physiotherapy Association (APA) 

Senior Advisor – Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health  x 1 PT (4 days/week)- Melbourne or Canberra

The Australian Physiotherapy Association (APA) is the peak body representing the interests of over 28,000 physiotherapists in Australia. It does so by advocating for access to quality physiotherapy services, providing leadership in the wider health landscape, creating lifelong learning opportunities for members, and promoting the value of physiotherapy to the community.

The Senior Advisor – Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health (ATSIH) is responsible for the development and implementation of our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health policy and advocacy initiatives, including the implementation of our Reconciliation Action Plan (2021-23), Physiotherapy Cultural Safety Action Plan and our involvement in the Close the Gap (CtG) Campaign.

To view the job description and to apply click here. Applications close Wednesday 14 April 2021.logo: text 'Australian Physiotherapy Association' & triangular blue shape with cursive letters APA, all in blue & white

NSW – Sydney – The University of Sydney 

Senior Ad (identified) x 1 FT (Fixed Term) – Sydney – CLOSING DATE EXTENDED

The Centre for Kidney Research are seeking a Research Assistant (Identified) to work on a project alongside a team of researchers and educators. This project aims to develop clinical practice guidelines on the management of chronic kidney disease in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the management of kidney stones.

You will join the project at an interesting stage and will be responsible for actively contributing to research activities for the project including, building relationships and engaging with Aboriginal people and communities to ensure that the clinical guidelines are incorporating community needs and promoting awareness of the guidelines to improve the management and prevention of kidney disease.

This role is primarily located at The Children’s Hospital at Westmead in Sydney but will be required to spend short periods in rural and regional Australia.

To view position descriptions and to apply click here. Applications close midnight Sunday 18 April 2021.

drawing of cross-section of kidney & kidney stones

Image source: Kettering Health Network website.

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

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

St Vincent’s Hospital transforms delivery of care

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

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

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

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

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

Wirraka Maya leads way in better patient management

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

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

Building a more robust medicine supply

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

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

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

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

The consultation will close on Monday 17 May 2021.

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

Image source: Newsbook website.

Resources for First Peoples with Disability

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

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

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

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

Gaps in Aboriginal aged care project

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

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

To read the full article click here.

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

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

Disadvantaged neighbourhoods can shape adolescent brains

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

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

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

To view the story in full click here.

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

Image source: Momentous Institute website.

Better cardiac care measures report

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

To view the report click here.

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

Image source: Haus of Dizzy website.

Mental health challenges & disability

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

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

young Aboriginal man sitting on a headland looking out to sea

Image source: SBS News website.

Vaccinations being in regional SA AHS

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

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

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

To view the full article click here.

Indigenous transport worker Peter Brennan receiving COVID-19 vaccine

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

Keeping the momentum on eye health equity

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

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

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

To view the full article click here.

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

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

WA – Broome – University of WA

Research Fellow x 1 FT (Fixed Term) – Broome

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

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander researchers are encouraged to apply.

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

World Health Day 2021 – Building a fairer, healthier world

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

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

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

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: First Australians urged to get vaccinated

feature tile text 'First Australians urged to protect themselves, family & community by getting vaccinated' - image of COVID-19 vaccine vials

First Australians urged to get vaccinated

This week marks the second phase of the national COVID-19 vaccine rollout which is targeting over six million higher-risk Australians. NACCHO CEO, Pat Turner say last week on ABC The Drum that “While the focus remains on those at highest risk – people over 55 or with chronic medical conditions – ACCHOs can also vaccinate family members and household members of those at high risk. A remote vaccine working group is considering a whole of community strategy – including all non-Indigenous and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults in the community.”

Minister for Indigenous Australians, the Hon Ken Wyatt AM, MP, Shadow Minister for Indigenous Australians, Linda Burney MP and Professor Tom Calma AO made time this morning to attend Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health and Community Service to receive their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Minister Wyatt said “We have done a remarkable job so far in the fight against the COVID-19 virus, we cannot now become complacent. Vaccines are an important tool in our strategy and I urge all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to come forward and get vaccinated when they are able to. It will help protect themselves, their family and their community.”

To view the Minister Ken Wyatt’s media release click here and to read a transcript of Linda Burney’s doorstop interview click here.

Ken Wyatt, Linda Burney & Tom Calma in waiting room at WNAHS ACT to receive vaccine 24.3.21

Ken Wyatt, Linda Burney and Tom Calma were among Indigenous leaders to receive their first vaccine dose in Canberra this morning at Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health Service.

ACCHO’s first vaccine day incredibly successful

The first words from the first Aboriginal elder in Campbelltown to get his COVID-19 vaccine on Monday this week were those of love and gratitude for his people and those who kept them safe during the pandemic. “I love you, I love the work you do, and the people you serve,” elder Uncle Ivan Wellington told Darryl Wright, the chief executive of the Tharawal Aboriginal Corporation and the staff of its Aboriginal Medical Service (AMS) after he got the jab.

During the pandemic, the first priority at Tharawal was protecting elders. Tharawal health workers visited homes to deliver flu shots and do health checks, telephoned frequently and arranged for deliveries of food and vegetables. “If we lose our elders, we lose our entire library [of knowledge],” said Leonie Murdoch, 62, who was also vaccinated on Monday.

Dr Heather McKenzie, who is coordinating the vaccine roll-out at Tharawal, was excited about getting her injection because it would protect the community she serves. To prepare people before today’s injections Dr McKenzie had run a Q and A session about what to expect. Despite that, some were nervous, including Uncle Ivan who had heard about the rare blood clots experienced by some people. But Ms Murdoch reassured him, “They can treat that [blood clots], but they can’t treat COVID.”

When the medical service texted the community offering the first round of vaccinations on Monday, it was inundated. Every appointment was taken within 10 minutes, Mr Wright said. Dr Tim Senior, a doctor with Tharawal’s AMS, said nearly all the service’s 5,000 patients would qualify to be vaccinated during this phase because of problems with chronic disease and other health issues. “It would be a struggle to find people who aren’t eligible under 1B,” he said.

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

Tharawal elder Uncle Ivan Wellington receives his first AstraZeneca vaccine from Tharawal Aboriginal Corporation GP Heather MacKenzie

Tharawal elder Uncle Ivan Wellington receives his first AstraZeneca vaccine from Tharawal Aboriginal Corporation GP Heather MacKenzie. Photograph: Tharawal Aboriginal Corporation. Image source: The Guardian.

The Guardian also reported on the second phase of Australia’s vaccine rollout. It said Aboriginal community health services across Australia have overcome major challenges including floods and wild weather to deliver their first Covid-19 vaccines to Aboriginal elders. “Our elders are our leaders and during the pandemic they continue to show us the way forward by proudly getting vaccinated first,” Dr Heather Mackenzie, from Tharawal Aboriginal Corporation, said.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have the highest rate of immunisation among the Australian population, according to NACCHO medical advisor, Dr Jason Agostino, who said “The Aboriginal health sector is extremely equipped in delivering large-scale immunisation programs and has been working hard to support communities during the pandemic.”

To view The Guardian’s article Aboriginal health sector overcoming major challenges to deliver first Covid vaccine jabs click here.

photo of Cecil Phillips, 63, receiving AstaZeneca vaccine by registered nurse, Sam Parimalanathan at AMS Redfern

‘I didn’t even feel it,’ says Cecil Phillips, 62, receiving his AstraZeneca vaccination by registered nurse, Sam Parimalanathan, at the Aboriginal Medical Service in Redfern. Photograph: Isabella Moore. Image source: The Guardian.

Community-based COVID-19 responses among best

The Consumers Health Forum (CHF) has welcomed the start of the 1b phase of the COVID vaccination rollout to older people and other vulnerable groups, urging the importance of the need for community patience and two-way communication between health authorities and consumers. The success of Australia’s response so far in keeping the spread of COVID to relatively low levels should not make us complacent about the priority of prompt vaccination of all Australians in the interests of our health and of the economy.

It is vital that people get the facts about the vaccine and the rollout from authoritative and readily accessible sources, including government websites and their GPs who, from this week, will be scaling up vaccination availability. The CHF CEO, Leanne Wells, said “A convincing example of just how effective community-based responses can be, has been the success in countering pandemic infections achieved by the member groups of NACCHO. The 107 NACCHO groups achieved among the best results in preventing COVID compared to similar entities anywhere in the world and that was because of the strong community engagement and leadership.”

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

Aboriginal flag with COVID-19 virus cell shooting across image with flames coming from it

Image source: The Medical Journal of Australia.

COVID-19 information for Victoria’s mob

The Victorian Government has developed a very useful COVID-19 information for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities webpage.

The site says there are a couple of reasons why, for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, the risk of COVID-19 transmission is higher and it can cause more severe symptoms. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people over the age of 50 years, or who have a pre-existing health condition, such as diabetes, asthma, heart and lung conditions, or immune problems, are at higher risk of developing a severe illness associated with COVID-19. Younger Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people can also get COVID-19 and infect family, friends and elders. As a lot of mob often live under the same roof, it’s also harder to practise physical distancing and isolation, which increases the risk of spreading the disease within the community.

The webpage says that in order to slow the spread of COVID-19 in Victoria, we must all do our part. We know it’s tough, but together we can keep our families, mob and ourselves safe, strong and well. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community sector partners are working closely with government to coordinate response plans and ensure communities have the necessary information, resources and support they need.

close up photo of face of Victorian Senator Lidia Thorpe wearing cap with the word 'Deadly' & black face mask, blurred image of crowd in the background

Victorian Senator Lidia Thorpe. Image source: BBC News.

Updated health check templates survey

The Commonwealth Department of Health has endorsed recently updated Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health check templates developed in a partnership between NACCHO and the RACGP.

The NACCHO-RACGP Partnership Project Team is keen to hear your feedback on the templates by:

  • participating in this 10 minute survey open until 1 April 2021
  • expressing interest to be one of 10 primary healthcare teams testing the templates between 12 April and 11 June 2021 by contacting the Team at aboriginalhealth@racgp.org.au

Your feedback will support the team to understand what it takes to get these health check templates into practice and what other innovations can support quality health checks and primary healthcare for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Aboriginal Health Worker smiling at Aboriginal man lying on examination bed in a clinic

Image source: NT PHN & Rural Workforce Agency NT webpage.

Remote PHC Manuals update

The Remote Primary Health Care Manuals review process in underway. Monthly updates will be available to health services and other organisations to provide updates on the review process.

What’s new: new Acute Assessment Protocols are being developed to guide practitioners to assess emergencies and guide differential diagnoses.

Coming up next: Expert Advisory Groups have been working to update protocols.

This flyer provides further information about the RPHCM project, including what you need to do to become a reviewer or provide feedback on the new manuals.Remote Primary Health Care Manaulas (RPHCM) logo - Aboriginal painting, path, footprints, blue green pink purple petal flower and horseshoe shapes x 5

Aboriginal-led ways to foster mental health

A report Balit Durn Durn – strong brain, mind, intellect and sense of self: report to the Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System was developed by the Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (VAACHO) to support the final report for the Royal Commission into Victoria’s (Vic) Mental Health System. The report outlines five Aboriginal-led ways to build strength, resilience, connectedness and identity in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and communities to create essential pathways for fostering positive mental health and wellbeing.

The report aims to provide an overview of Aboriginal communities’ experience with the current mental health system and offers innovative solutions that have the potential to dramatically transform the Victorian mental health system to better meet the needs of Aboriginal communities.

To view the report click here.cover of VACCHO Balit Durn Durn Storng brain, mind, intellect & sense of self Report to the Royal Commission into Victoria's Mental Health System report

What ‘healing’ means

The Healing Foundation has been working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders in Queensland to co-design and develop the state’s first healing strategy. The Dreaming big process identified community issues and themes by the number of times keywords were mentioned in surveys and yarning circles.

The report outlines what over 400 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people from 80 different cultural groups in over 50 locations in Queensland, said when asked what healing means and what happy and strong feels like. The aim being to help transcend the divide between deficit-based solutions and strength-based outcomes.

To view the report Dreaming big – voices we heard: informing the Queensland Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Healing strategy click here.cover of Healing Foundation Dreaming big Voices we hear informaing the Qld A&TSI Healing Strategy October 2020

Healthier smiles in Loddon Mallee

Minister for Health Martin Foley says the Andrews Labor Government is ensuring Aboriginal children in the Loddon Mallee region have strong and healthy teeth. “The $360,000 Loddon Mallee Fluoride Varnish program will help protect 600 Aboriginal children in schools, Aboriginal-specific early years services and Aboriginal childcare organisations at heightened risk of tooth decay. Fluoride varnish applications reduce tooth decay in young children by 37% by providing a protective covering. The varnish also prevents an existing tooth decay from progressing further. The preventive oral health program provides including twice-yearly fluoride varnish applications, oral health promotion and free tooth packs to Aboriginal children across the Loddon Mallee region. The expanded program builds on a successful pilot in 2018/20, which reached 200 Aboriginal children aged up to 18 across the region.”

To view the Victoria State Government media release click here and to view a related article Bendigo and District Aboriginal Cooperative to deliver Fluoride Varnish program click here.

close up photo of gloved dentist's hands inspecting teeth of an open mouth

Image source: Bendigo Advertiser.

Proposed NT youth justice changes flawed

Australia’s only national First Nations-led justice coalition has warned that the NT Gunner Government’s proposed youth justice reforms will see the number of Aboriginal children behind bars skyrocket. The reforms are highly punitive and will disproportionately drive Aboriginal kids into police and prison cells. Change the Record has highlighted that the proposed law changes fly in the face of the Royal Commission recommendations to invest in supporting children outside of the criminal justice system and move away from the ‘tough on crime’ policies that have been proven to fail. Change the Record, Co-Chair Cheryl Axleby said “If the NT Government goes ahead with these youth justice reforms it will take the Northern Territory back to the dark days before the Royal Commission when Don Dale was full of Aboriginal children being subjected to the most  horrendous abuse.”

The NT Council of Social Service and Amnesty International Australia have also expressed concerns about the proposed changes to the NT’s youth justice system. “This is a callous, racist legislative crackdown in search of a problem,” Amnesty International Australia Indigenous Rights Advocate, Rodney Dillon, said. “Chief Minister Gunner has picked up the Royal Commission report and thrown it in the bin. Let’s be clear: no one wants youth crime. But cracking down on Indigenous kids – because all the kids in the NT justice system are Indigenous – who have complex needs, by throwing them in jail fixes nothing. What it does is condemn young kids to the quicksand of the youth justice system, and it entrenches recidivism, which is what all the politicians say they want to address,” Dillon said.

You can view the Change the Record media release here, the NTCOSS media release here and the Amnesty International Australia media release here.

painting of 7 Aboriginal youth with text 'free our future'

Image source: Change the Record website.

NSW – Sydney – The University of Sydney

Research Assistant (Identified) x 1 FT (Fixed Term) – Sydney

The Centre for Kidney Research are seeking a Research Assistant (Identified) to work on a project alongside a team of researchers and educators. This project aims to develop clinical practice guidelines on the management of chronic kidney disease in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the management of kidney stones.

You will join the project at an interesting stage and will be responsible for actively contributing to research activities for the project including, building relationships and engaging with Aboriginal people and communities to ensure that the clinical guidelines are incorporating community needs and promoting awareness of the guidelines to improve the management and prevention of kidney disease.

To view position description and to apply click here. Applications close midnight Monday 5 April 2021.

vector image of kidneys, one sliced showing kidney stones

Image source: Kettering Health Network.

Purple Day

Purple Day (Friday 26 March 2021) is a global initiative dedicated to raising epilepsy awareness. Purple Day was founded in 2008, by nine-year-old Cassidy Megan of Nova Scotia, Canada. Motivated by her own struggles with epilepsy, Cassidy started Purple Day to get people talking about the condition and to let those impacted by seizures know that they are not alone. She named the day, Purple Day after the internationally recognised colour for epilepsy, lavender.

Purple Day has grown into a well-known and supported national awareness day with thousands of people across Australia gathering within their community, education and corporate sectors to raise much needed awareness and funds for those affected by epilepsy. You can access epilepsy information for Indigenous communities here.World epilepsy day. Purple ribbon on bright dark violet background. Epilepsy solidarity symbol. Vector illustration

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: second phase of COVID-19 vaccine rollout starts

feature tile text 'Second phase of COVID-19 vaccine rollout starts with 33 ACCHOs first to administer the jab', image of COVID-19 vaccine vial & syringe destroying a virus cell - image from The Conversation

Second phase of COVID-19 vaccine rollout starts

While Liverpool became a COVID-19 hotspot during the pandemic, not one case was recorded at the Gandangara clinic. Medical adviser to NACCHO, Jason Agostino, said Indigenous leadership was critical in this achievement. “All the ACCHOs across the country have just been really incredible in getting messages out to their communities about how to stay safe in the initial part of the pandemic and in those spots where there have been outbreaks, places in Melbourne, in Brisbane, have just been exceptional in supporting their communities and keeping them safe,” he said. “So it’s been a whole bunch of things all put together but at the heart of it is leadership by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.”

The second phase of the nation’s COVID-19 vaccine roll-out started today with 33 ACCHOs being the first to administer the jab, including the Gandangara Local Aboriginal Land Council’s health service in Liverpool, in Sydney’s south-west.

But questions remain within the community about the vaccine. “A lot of them are saying yes, a lot of them are just not sure,” said Dunghutti elder and Gandangara Local Aboriginal Land Council board member Aunty Gail Smith. Aunty Gail, who’s worked in the health industry for almost 40 years, said despite the community’s low case numbers the pandemic had had a huge impact. “It was a big strain because they couldn’t go out or meet their families, a lot of us come from country areas we couldn’t go there as well,” she said.  “I think it’s been tough across the board for everybody… but now we’re slowly getting back to it. I encourage everyone if they could, it’s up to them, [but] if its gonna help our community and our people, why not, because we’re survivors and we want to survive for our next generations as well.”

To view the ABC news article in full click here.

Dunghutti Elder & Gandangara Local ALC board member Aunty Gail Smith

Dunghutti Elder and Gandangara Local Aboriginal Land Council board member Aunty Gail Smith. Image source: ABC News website.

Kimberley Aboriginal Health Research Alliance launched

Kimberley-based Aboriginal community-controlled and government health services, research institutes and universities have united to form the Kimberley Aboriginal Health Research Alliance (KAHRA) with the objective of improving and promoting the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal people in the Kimberley through the development and application of practical health research. This collaboration combines the power of research to drive evidence-based change, the commitment of regional health services, and the vast cultural knowledge and strength of communities.

The development of collaborative projects utilising the strengths of the Alliance will seek to drive change to health outcomes, policy and services within the Kimberley and ultimately improve health outcomes of Kimberley Aboriginal community members. KAHRA has already seen unprecedented collaboration across health services in the region, with a collective voice advocating for better use of data to inform health service delivery in the region. Work has begun on a project to enable health services and researchers to see the full picture of disease burden in the region.

To view the KAHRA media release click here.banner text 'KAHRA - Kimberley Aboriginal Health Research' yellow black & red dots

Vicki O'Donnell - KAMS CEO speaking at the launch of KAHRA

KAMS CEO Vicki O’Donnell speaking at the launch of KAHRA.

Rhetoric and action gap needs to close

As communities across Australia mark National Close the Gap Day, leaders of the Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress (UAICC), the Uniting Church and UnitingCare Australia have come together to call for enduring reforms to support self-determination and tangible outcomes for First Peoples. According to  Pastor Mark Kickett, UAICC Interim Chair, “after 13 years of Closing the Gap, it is time to turn rhetoric into real action that genuinely empowers First Peoples and delivers lasting benefits.

Pastor Kickett continued, “the new National Agreement on Closing the Gap has the potential to be a gamechanger. But we are yet to see the structural change and funding commitments needed to achieve real reform, and pressure needs to be kept on governments to maintain their commitments and to apply the principles of reform that they signed off in 2020. Real change requires more than words and minor policy tinkering. It requires closing the gap between rhetoric and action. And it requires enduring structural and constitutional reform to empower First Peoples to take leadership in their affairs, in true partnership with government. The response of our communities to COVID-19 demonstrated the benefits of community-led action and the enduring resilience, creativity, and decisiveness of First Peoples leaders and governance.”

Uniting Church in Australia President Dr Deidre Palmer said the Uniting Church lamented with First Peoples the ongoing health inequality, lack of self-determination, experiences of racism, high incarceration rates and the tragic prevalence of preventable deaths in custody. Dr Palmer said investing in solutions led by First Peoples was key to Closing the Gap.

To view the joint media release here.

4 Mutitjulu elders at Uluru, all with checked shirts & Akubra hats, one in a wheelchair

Mutitjulu elders at Uluru. Photo by Jimmy Widders Hunt. Image source: BBC News.

Aged care fails remote communities 

For the last five years, Mary Dadbalag, aged in her 90s and confined to a wheelchair, has been living in a tent on a verandah in the NT remote community of Jibena. For the last three years, her granddaughter Jacqueline Phillips has been knocking on every government service provider’s door she can think of asking for help to get her grandmother a bedroom built with a toilet attached. She said her grandmother is living in the tent at the edge of what she described as a “chicken house” because she can’t get to the nearest toilet 20 metres away over grass in her wheelchair, but she can shuffle to the edge of the verandah.

“It’s upsetting, not healthy and not hygienic. Like, her tent is just right next to where she does her toilets. She’s a great, great, great-grandmother, one of the last elders of our region and she’s just not being respected.” Ms Phillips is worried her grandmother may continue to fall through the cracks. “There needs to be better aged care services, especially for the people on the homelands,” she said. “We really need the federal government to listen to the very remote communities and provide that service, it’s human rights.”

To view the full article click here.

Elder Mary Dadbalag sleeping on ground outside tent on the veranda of a makeshift home

Mary Dadbalag has been living in a tent on the veranda of a makeshift home. Image source: ABC News.

High youth detention FASD rates acknowledged

Danila Dilba Health Service has welcomed the release of the Senate’s report on effective approaches to prevention, diagnosis, and support for Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) (17 March 2021). Danila Dilba provides comprehensive primary health services within the Darwin/Palmerston region, including to many children and families impacted by FASD or other neurodevelopmental impairments. The release of the Senate’s report the day before National Close The Gap Day provides a timely reminder of the tangible ways the government can fulfil its commitment to address the health gap between First Nations and non-Indigenous Australians.

The report highlights the need to incorporate FASD prevention, assessment, and management into a comprehensive primary health care model. In particular, the Senate Committee recognises the importance of Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations (ACCHOs) like Danila Dilba in delivering culturally appropriate, holistic care to families affected by FASD.

Danila Dilba’s Head of Clinical Governance, Dr Andrew Webster, gave evidence to the inquiry about the lack of culturally appropriate assessment, therapeutic interventions, and support for children with FASD and their families, “ACCHOs can provide a ‘one-stop shop’ within a trusted service rather than families having to go through the process of diagnosis and therapy with multiple providers. Sadly, due to the barriers to assessment, many children suffering from FASD or other impairments do not get a diagnosis, and so are unable to receive the supports that they need. It is these children that we then unfortunately see coming to the attention of the child protection and justice systems.”

To view Danila Dilba’s media release in full click here.

Aboriginal youth at skate park with hands over his face & policeman in the background

Image source: The Conversation.

International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination

Yesterday the ACT Council of Social Service (ACTCOSS) celebrated the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination and called upon Canberrans to reflect on their personal responsibility in combatting racism. “This year’s theme is ‘Youth standing up against Racism’, and it is an opportunity to reflect on the power that young people have in shifting narratives and creating change, both online and in person,” said ACTCOSS CEO Dr Emma Campbell. “Over the past year, the Black Lives Matter movement has brought racism to the forefront of global conversation. In Australia it drew attention to the overrepresentation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in our justice system, and reignited conversations about racism and implicit bias more broadly.”

To view the ACTCOSS media release in full click here.banner text 'Internationald Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination March 21' vector image of handprint finger colours yellow, red, blue, aqua, black & brown palm with white heart

Diabetes management in Aboriginal communities webinar

The first webcast session of a four-part series of interprofessional webinars focusing on Diabetes management in an Aboriginal community will be held from 12:30–1:30 PM this Thursday 25 March 2021.

The webcast, Prevention and Control of Type-2 Diabetes in Aboriginal Communities: Changing Dietary, Activity and Lifestyle Patterns will explore evidence-based approaches and practical strategies for nutrition, exercise, lifestyle and behaviour changes to support the prevention and management of diabetes in Aboriginal people. Barriers and solutions to improving engagement with Aboriginal communities will also be discussed.

Diabetes is a complex condition that can impact people in different ways. It has a significant impact on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. This webcast provides an overview of the prevalence of diabetes in the Aboriginal population, discusses risk factors for early diabetes detection and focuses on the key lifestyle behaviours for the prevention and management of diabetes. Key nutritional considerations relating to the use of whole foods, fibre, carbohydrates and how to shop on a budget will be discussed. Further to this, stress management, importance of sleep, exercise, flexibility and ways to reduce sedentary behaviour will be covered. The presenters will also discuss their local Aboriginal community group programs, including culturally safe practices.

For more information you can download an event flyer here and register here.

Aboriginal person's hands - diabetes blood test

Image source: The Medical Journal of Australia.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Health sector racism a key barrier to medical care

feature tile: RACISM is a key barrier to Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander people's access medical care; image Aboriginal flag colours black top half, red bottom half, yellow map of Australia is words 'No Room for Racism'

Racism a key barrier to health care

Racism within the NSW public health service has been identified as a key barrier for Aboriginal people trying to access medical care. A state parliamentary inquiry into remote, rural and regional healthcare has been given examples of Aboriginal residents who say they have been mistreated and disrespected. The submissions state that this is the reason why Aboriginal people do not always trust or feel safe in the public health service.

The CEO of the Orange Aboriginal Medical Service (OAMS), Jamie Newman and the spokeswoman, Ariane Dozer for the civil rights and legal service, National Justice Project say there are still racist attitudes among some staff, despite the rollout of cultural sensitivity programs, awareness campaigns and training. “What we would like to see is health services dedicated to working with the local Aboriginal communities to develop strong localised models for culturally safe care because not all Aboriginal communities are the same,” said Ms Dozer.

The way Aboriginal health services are funded is also a key issue. “The levels of funding have to change, the length of funding has to change,” said Mr Newman. He said that unlike the public health system, Aboriginal medical services in NSW have a three-year funding cycle. “We can’t recruit GPs, specialists, allied health services when we only guarantee a three-year contract based on the funding arrangements. We’re not going to get health outcomes in the next three years. We’re talking about generational change over 10–15 years and if we don’t have that approach we will fail in the next three years to Close the Gap.”

To view the ABC News article in full click here.

doctor having consult with Aboriginal man

Image source: Fred Hollows Foundation website.

A related article says the state parliamentary inquiry has been told racist attitudes within the NSW public health system are stopping Indigenous people from seeking medical help. The Aboriginal Health and Medical Research Council says figures show Indigenous patients are five times more likely to discharge themselves early from hospital. Ariane Dozer from the National Justice Project says First Nations people did not trust the public health service, which they said had provided them with “derogatory” and “degrading” treatment. [They are] essentially dismissed and turned away without proper assessment,” she said. “People’s individual concerns and views of their concerns and their suffering can be ignored.”

To view this article click here.

emergency hospital entrance

Image source: ABC News website.

BLM spurs Linda Burney to change Australia

Thousands of protesters took to the streets chanting “Black Lives Matter” in June last year, exasperated at high incarceration rates and deaths in custody. But this was 10,000 miles from New York, Washington and Los Angeles, on the other side of the globe – in Australia. While conservative PM Scott Morrison claimed the protests Down Under showed there was a risk of “importing the things that are happening overseas,” for Linda Burney, the first Indigenous woman elected to the nation’s lower house, the anger was justifiable.

Mirroring the U.S., where the Black imprisonment rate is more than five times than that of Whites, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people make up just 2% of the population but 29% of all prison inmates in Australia. “The Black Lives Matter movement very seriously resonated here because Australia has had such a denial of its history,” Burney, 63, said in an interview. “It clicked because of the extraordinary large numbers of Aboriginal people incarcerated and the hundreds of deaths in custody.”

To view the full article click here.

Linda Burney in house or representatives during Morrison's CtG ministerial statement 14.2.19

Linda Burney during Morrison’s Closing the Gap ministerial statement at Parliament House in Canberra, on 14 February 2019. Photo: Tracey Nearmy. Image source: Bloomberg Equality.

NDIS independent assessments

The National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) has released a joint paper with the Department of Social Services about independent assessments. The paper is the Government’s submission to the Joint Standing Committee (JSC) on the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) inquiry on independent assessments. The NDIA’s submission sets out a picture of the planned reforms and why they are necessary to deliver a simpler, faster, fairer and more flexible NDIS that will benefit all Australians. The paper released provides a summary of the background, the key reasons independent assessments are being introduced and clarifies the intent of independent assessments.

The concerns raised in the recent reforms consultation process indicate that there are misconceptions and misunderstandings about the details of independent assessments and how they will be implemented. The submission paper is the Government’s clear statement of independent assessments and is an opportunity for us to clarify details about the planned reforms.

The NDIA says it is committed to actively seeking feedback on independent assessments and other reform proposals through an ongoing and comprehensive consultation program and encourages you to read the joint submission paper here.

torso of a person in a wheelchair view from side

Image source: Disability Insider website.

Second lowest COVID-19 case rate in OECD

The Government will invest more than $1.1 billion to extend its national COVID-19 health response and suppression strategy until 31 December 2021. Australia is leading the world out of the global COVID-19 pandemic and recession. As COVID-19 vaccines roll out across the nation, protecting Australians from the ongoing threats of the pandemic remains a priority. This $1.1 billion is in addition to more than $22 billion spent in these areas to date, including more than $6 billion to support the COVID-19 vaccine rollout. Australia’s suppression strategy has been extremely successful to date, particularly when compared with the devastation caused by the virus in many places overseas. Australia’s remarkable performance in saving lives is evident – we have the second lowest case rate and third lowest mortality rate amongst countries in the OECD.

To view the media release click here.

gloved hands holding pink piece of paper with text 'COVID-19'

Image source: AMA website.

Vaccine rollout to include more Aboriginal Australians

Just over a week out from the beginning of the COVID-19 vaccinations for the phase 1b priority group, the Australian government has quietly changed the parameters to include more Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and remote residents. The ABC understands the decision has been made to assist the logistics of delivering the vaccines to remote communities.

It would mean vaccination teams who head to remote Aboriginal communities can immunise all adults over the age of 18 who want the vaccine, rather than just people over 55 or those who met the previous criteria for phase 1b. The changes would not be targeting, for instance, young Aboriginal people living in urban areas.

The federal Department of Health website has changed its phase 1b category to say, “beginning to vaccinate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people”. A spokeswoman from the department confirmed the change would also include non-Indigenous remote residents. “All remote and very remote residents [inclusive of both the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population and the non-Indigenous population] over the age of 18 will be considered a priority group, due to logistical requirements,” she said. “This will limit the need to transfer workforce and relevant materials and will assist with issues associated with distribution and access.”

Previously it was “Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged over 55” or who met other phase 1b criteria, like having an underlying medical condition, being a healthcare worker, critical or high-risk worker. There was no change to this for people living in urban and regional locations.

To view the media release in full click here.

medical tray of COVID-19 vaccine syringes

Image source: Surf Coast Times.

Countering vaccine misinformation

The Australian Government is ramping up its campaign against misinformation on the COVID-19 vaccines, as the vaccination program ramps up moving into Phase 1B. Australians can get all their questions answered on the health website to find out what they want – and need – to know about the COVID-19 vaccines. The new material on the website, called Is it true? will help answer questions people may have about the vaccine, and respond to vaccine misinformation they may have heard. This new function will provide trusted, credible information on COVID-19 vaccines for everyone in Australia. It will sort the fact from the fiction. The information on the website will be clear, accurate and timely. This will help reassure Australians about the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine and answer commonly asked questions and misinformation relating to the COVID-19 Vaccination program.

To view the media release in full click here.

blackboard with arrow to left & word myths, arrow to right & word facts

Image source: The Irish Times.

Self-identification sufficient for vaccine

The AMA has received advice from the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander COVID-19 Advisory Group that for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people seeking vaccination in the 1b and 2a rollout, self-identification is sufficient proof of Indigenous status – no other documentation in required.  The advisory group re-affirmed that no proof beyond self-identification is required and this is consistent with the RACGP standards. While there is the potential for non-indigenous people to take advantage of this system, it was thought the greater harm was in potential racism towards Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people seeking vaccination and of having to prove one’s identity.

To view the full article click here.

gloved hand administering vaccine to upper arm

Image: SBS website.

Cancer research priorities survey

Are you interested in contributing to cancer in primary care research?

PC4, the Primary Care Collaborative Cancer Clinical Trials Group, is undertaking a prioritisation study that aims to explore the views of different stakeholders to identify their perspective on what the top research priorities should be in the field of cancer in primary care research. PC4 is funded by Cancer Australia to support the development of cancer in primary care trials.

The survey should take less than 10 minutes to complete and will give you an opportunity to advocate for the areas of cancer in primary care research you feel should be addressed most urgently.

You can access the link to survey for health care professionals, researchers etc. here and the link to the consumer survey here.

This survey is being distributed nationally and is set to close on Friday 16 April 2021.
PC4 banner text 'help rank the top 10 research priorities for cancer in primary care research' photo of a woman at a table, man writing on whiteboard & woman running brain-storming session, text 'Have Your Say with arrow to box containing words Priority 1, Priority 2., priority 3'

National Bowel Cancer Screening Program promotion

Bowel cancer is the third most common cancer for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. If found early, up to 90% of cases can be treated successfully. Bowel cancer often has no obvious early warning signs. The good news is, a bowel screening test can detect changes in the bowel long before your patient notices any problems.

The National Bowel Cancer Screening Program provides free bowel screening kits for eligible people aged 50–74. So, have the bowel screening chat with your patients. An A4-sized poster (for display in staff only access areas) encouraging health professionals to talk to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people about bowel screening as well as other resources can be accessed here.

poster text 'bowel screening can save lives have you discussed bowel screening with patients?'

JobSeeker cuts will widen health gaps

The Federal Government’s failure to provide a liveable income through JobSeeker payments will harm the health of many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and contribute to widespread distress as people and families struggle to afford healthy food and housing. Health groups have also warned that the new base rate for JobSeeker will contribute to growing health inequalities and have consistently highlighted evidence of the link between poverty and sickness.

More than 500 submissions were made to the Senate inquiry into the Social Services Legislation Amendment (Strengthening Income Support) Bill 2021, with many testimonials of hardship from families and individuals choosing between food and medications, and forced into homelessness. Economic modelling by The Grattan Institute predicts that 40,000 more jobs will be lost when the Government axes the Coronavirus Supplement (currently $75 a week) at the end of March and replaces it with a $25 a week increase to JobSeeker payments.

To view the full article in Croakey click here.

platter of fruit & vegetables, lettuce, apples, ginger, cucumber, broccoli, celery

Demand soared for fresh fruit and vegetables when Aboriginal communities received the Coronavirus Supplement. Photo by k15 on Unsplash. Image source: Croakey.

Innovative post suicide support program

An innovative trial will give children and young people access to community-based, non-clinical support following an attempted suicide, thanks to a $3.8 million investment from the NSW Government. Minister for Mental Health Bronnie Taylor said the service will be designed by young people with lived experience of suicide alongside families and carers, youth mental health and suicide prevention experts. “Growing evidence tells us that following up and increasing community support for people after a suicide attempt can reduce the likelihood of a further attempt,” Mrs Taylor said. “We know that young people are often reluctant to reach out for help and don’t always engage well with clinical services – what works well for adults often doesn’t work well for young people.

To view the NSW Government media release in full click here.

young Aboriginal girl's hands with chipped nail polish holding another Aboriginal child's hands

Image source: Amnesty International website.

Close The Gap Report Launch 2021

The Close the Gap Campaign aims to close the health and life expectancy gap between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and non-Indigenous Australians within a generation. The campaign is built on evidence that shows significant improvements in the health status of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples can be achieved by 2030.

The Australian Institute is delighted to invite you to the launch of the 2021 Close the Gap Campaign report “Leadership & Legacy Through Crises: Keeping Our Mob Safe”, written by the Lowitja Institute. 

The report will be launched via webinar, on National Close the Gap Day from 12:00 PM (AEDT) Thursday 18 March 2021 – hosted by the Australia Institute in support of the Close the Gap Campaign.

The webinar is free, but registration is essential. To book click here.

You can also view an invite to the Close the Gap & Mental Health Awareness Event here.banner 'close the gap report launch 2021 leadership & Legacy Through Crises: Keeping Our Mob Stafe' June Oscar AO, Karl Briscoe, Dr Janine Mohamed, Sir Michael Marmot

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: ACCHOs prepare for COVID-19 vaccine rollout

feature tile text 'ACCHOs prepare for imminent COVID-19 vaccine rollout' photo of COVID-19 vaccine vialst

ACCHOs prepare for COVID-19 vaccine rollout

This morning NACCHO CEO Pat Turner joined a panel on ABC Radio National Breakfast to discuss how preparations are ramping up in earnest for the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. Many will get the jab as part of Phase 1B which begins on Monday 22 March 2021. At the coalface, health organisations are also busy tackling vaccine hesitancy and misinformation.

To listen to the episode click here.ABC RN banner text 'COVID-19 vaccines OurJobToProtectOurMOb NACCHO CEO Patricia Turner Fri 12 March 6–9am, photo of Pat Turner smiling

Yesterday afternoon NACCHO Deputy CEO Dr Dawn Casey also spoke on ABC radio about COVID-19. Along with human rights advocate and lawyer Teela Reid and public health expert Professor Fiona Stanley, Dr Casey spoke with Richard Glover on ABC Radio Sydney program Drive about the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health sector’s successful response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Reference was made to how programs run by Indigenous people work, but programs imposed on communities don’t. Professor Fiona Stanley said there is lots of evidence to show better outcomes are achieved when Aboriginal people control programs, saying “when you give First Nations’ people this power it works every time”.

In terms of ensuring Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities were kept safe from COVID-19, Professor Stanley said local services understand the context in which their people are living, they know who and where their Elders are and are immediately able to implement the best preventative strategies for them. Only 0.1 per 1,000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Australia have contracted COVID-19 compared to 1.1 per 1,000 for non-Indigenous Australians.

To listen to the interview click here.

portrait photos Dr Dawn Casey, Teela Reid, Professor Fiona Stanley

L-R: Dr Dawn Casey (NITV website), Teela Reid (National Indigenous Times), Professor Fiona Stanley (ABC News website).

Truth and justice commission announced

Victoria’s ‘truth-telling’ commission (launched earlier this week) has been owed for 233 years according to Victoria’s Deputy Premier, James Merlino who said “233 years of violence, dispossession and deprivation. 233 years of deliberate silence. We commit to telling the truth. We do so for the kids who never came home – and those who are still finding their way back. For those who were told they were not allowed to speak their own language, practice their own culture, know their own identity. For the families who lost loved ones in the massacres. For those who were made to feel like they didn’t belong to their own country. And for those who still feel this way. Today we commit to telling their truth.”

The Truth and Justice Commission is a shared commitment between the Victorian Government and the First Peoples’ Assembly of Victoria, the state’s first and only democratically-elected body for Aboriginal people. Named after the Wemba Wemba/Wamba Wamba word for ‘truth’, the Yoo-rrook Justice Commission will formally begin its work in the coming months. Held independently from Government, and afforded the full power of a Royal Commission, it will mark the beginning of a conversation long overdue, and a commitment to change.‌ It will compel us to confront what’s come before. To acknowledge that the pain in our past lives on in our present.

To view the First Peoples’ Assembly of Victoria and Victoria State Government joint statement click here and to view a related article in The Age click here.

Ms Atkinson, Ms Williams and Mr Merlino in Coranderrk

Ms Atkinson, Ms Williams and Mr Merlino in Coranderrk for the announcement of the commission. Image source: The Age.

Final Call: COVID-19 in aged care facilities survey

Professor Lyn Gilbert and Adjunct Professor Alan Lilly have been commissioned by the Department of Health to undertake a national review of COVID-19 outbreaks in Australian Residential Aged Care Facilities (RACFs). RACF managers (or equivalent) are invited to complete a short online survey about the facility’s preparation for and, if an outbreak occurred, management of a COVID-19 outbreak.

The data will be collected and analysed by the University of Sydney. Survey responses will remain anonymous and no individual RACF will be identifiable. The feedback and analysis will be an invaluable contribution to the report and recommendations to the Department of Health.

The survey will be closing on 5:00 PM Wednesday 17 March 2021.

If you haven’t completed the survey, please do take the time to share your thoughts and experiences with the review. It only takes 10-15 minutes. and can be accessed by clicking on this link.

Your input is critical to continuous improvement in the management of potential COVID-19 outbreaks in residential care.

elderly Aboriginal man and Aboriginal woman wearing paper party hats sitting at table looking at a mobile phone screen

Image source: Inner Sydney Voice website.

National Preventive Health Strategy coming soon

You have until 19 April 2021 to make submissions on the draft National Preventive Health Strategy. The final document is expected to be launched mid-year.

Croakey journalist Melissa Sweet has written an overview of some of the key issues, including concerns that without proper funding and implementation commitments, the strategy will be “another worthy document which does not advance the health of Australians one iota”. Below is an excerpt from Melissa’s overview:

“OMG. The Federal Health Department has released a publication that finally utters the words so many have been waiting SO long to hear. The draft National Preventive Health Strategy cites a contributor saying that “climate change is likely to be the biggest challenge to health, wellbeing and economic prosperity”. The document goes on to note that human health is dependent on planetary health, and that environmental issues, such as extreme weather events and significant changes in climate systems, have had, and will continue to have, an impact on the health and wellbeing of all Australians.

“This is particularly true for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, who have close cultural, spiritual and social connections to the land. In order to prepare for future challenges and address the health of the planet, the impacts of climate change on physical and mental health need to be understood, especially through a health equity lens,” it says. But don’t get too excited. These words don’t come until page 40 and although climate change is mentioned a number of times throughout the document, the draft strategy does not convey a strong sense of urgency about the climate crisis and how it will undermine all other efforts in health prevention without urgent action.

To view overview in full click here and for further information about the National Preventive Health Strategy and how to make a submission click here.

banner with text National Preventive Health Strategy' vector images of city, wind farm, clouds, park, city, road

Image source: Australian Government Department of Health.

Indigenous kids are losing sleep

New analysis has found that Indigenous Australian children suffer from sleep problems at higher rates than non-Indigenous children. Aboriginal children reported insomnia, severe daytime sleepiness and breathing difficulties while sleeping, researchers say. “Poor sleep can lead to health problems and lower levels of academic achievement,” according to Senior Research Fellow, James Cook University Yaqoot Fatima. “Indigenous children suffer from at higher rates of obesity, diabetes and respiratory problems than non-Indigenous children.” School attendance rates among Indigenous children are 10 per cent lower than non-Indigenous children, she said. “Understanding sleep health is very important,” Dr Fatima said.

To view the article 7 News article in full click here and to view a related article in The Conversation click here.

Aboriginal toddler sleeping with head on carer's shoulder

Image source: CRAICCHS website.

Media invalidates Indigenous experience of racism

Gunditjamara Elder Charmaine Clark has commented on the response by national mainstream media to a report tabled last week by the Victorian anti-vilification protections inquiry. She said “the media completely missed the point and instead we saw sensational headlines of Nazi Swastika banned or Nazi flags banned.” In the course of the Inquiry, Charmaine gave her personal testimony, representing the Victorian Indigenous community. Supported by organisations such as the Victorian Aboriginal Legal Service and Victorian Legal Aid Charmaine’s case mirrored other experiences of racial abuse and indifference that many Indigenous people experience throughout their lifetime.

Charmain said “One of the most persistent aspects of today’s discourse regarding racism in Australia, Charmaine said, is the very denial of its existence. Out of all the most sustained political campaigns operating in Australia, the political project of controlling and diminishing Indigenous human rights and dignity is by far the longest. It has cost us much, in lives and loss of access to country, high incarceration rates and alarming mental health and health statistics.”

“Our media choose to personify racists as those Nazi’s or Proud Boys, with the effect that all other forms of racial vilification are at best of lower importance and at worst – invalidated in the eyes of the public consuming this media. It highlights the systemic nature of how perceptions of racism are controlled, perceived and presented to the general public. This narrow definition of ‘racist’ paints a picture to the public and reduces the impact of our calls for action to address racism we uniquely experience.”

To view the full IndienousX article click here.

Charmaine Clark

Charmaine Clark. Image source: IndigenousX website.

Institutional racism factor in health gap

A new report from the Poche Centre for Indigenous Health has found institutional racism leads to a silencing of Indigenous knowledges, perspectives and cultural practices which are crucial to closing the gap in health for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Published in Public Health Research and Practice, a peer-reviewed journal of the Sax Institute, the report was authored by several Indigenous leaders and noted the reluctance in health care structures to address systemic and institutional racism against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Lead author Dr Carmen Parter is a proud descendent of the Darumbal and Juru clans of the Birra Gubba Nation of Queensland. She also has South Sea Islander heritage and is a Senior Research Fellow at the University of Queensland’s Poche Centre for Indigenous Health. “Our paper gives voice to Indigenous communities who have consistently said that racism is a critical issue in the provision of health care, as is the incorporation of culture into the design of health care services,” said Dr Parter. “When an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander person accesses a health care service, there is always a level of mistrust and fear. A lot of people forget that our health system was one of the many institutions involved in the Stolen Generations that took children from their families and communities — which still happens today. Those stories resonate through our communities.” Dr Parter highlights the importance for health care providers in discussing and addressing racism.

To view the Indigenous National Times article in full click here and to view the related SaxInstitute media release Indigenous leaders call for an end to racism in the health system click here.

Dr Carmen Parter Mayi Kuwayu The National Study of Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Wellbeing

Image source: Mayi Kuwayu The National Study of Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Wellbeing website.

Race conversations program developer recognised

Bundjalung and Kullilli woman Melissa Browning has been recognised at the national HESTA Impact Awards for her contribution to improving health equity for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. The awards are a national celebration of health and community services professionals working to protect the future of the planet and its people.

Browning was a joint winner of the Individual Distinction Award for her work developing and implementing the Courageous Conversations About Race (CCAR) program at the Fold Coast Hospital and Health Service (GCHHS). Having a career in health spanning just short of two decades, Browning is one of the only Aboriginal women at GCHHS who sits in a senior role. She is the current Coordinator for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health and has held that position for over a decade. Working in the health sector as long as she has, Browning has faced her fair share of adversity.

“I have often been called challenging. I like to reframe that and step away from the angry Blak woman trope,” she said. “I’m not angry, I’m passionate. I do get framed as the challenging Blak woman because I do want to make that change, make that difference for my people.  Aboriginal women are constantly taking the brunt for our community, there are so many inspiring women that have gone before me that have inspired me to keep going in doing what I do. The reason I am doing this is for my people, for the future generations — that is what holds me.”

Browning’s CCAR program originates from the Us but she has worked to contextualise it to an Australian audience. The program aims to talk about racism in a safe space. “Talking about race and racism is always very hard, but I think … to move forward we can’t not have those conversations,” she said.

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

Melissa Browning holding HESTA Impact Award

Melissa Browning. Image source: National Indigenous Times.

Tooth decay rates fall

A trial of a children’s dental health program in a remote Queensland Indigenous community showed the value of simple health interventions in promoting overall health in Indigenous communities, researchers said. Dental health is a serious problem for some Indigenous communities, with Indigenous children in rural Australia recording up to three times the rate of tooth decay compared with other Australian children. Associate Professor Ratilal Lalloo from the University of Queensland School of Dentistry led the study to find out what effect a simple intervention could have.

“We wanted to test an intervention to reduce that burden – the idea was to take what we considered the main preventative strategies against tooth decay and see what effect that had on ongoing dental health,” he said. “Primary health care workers such as community nurses and Aboriginal health workers can be trained to do these treatments, making them even more cost-effective.” Dr Lalloo said researchers hoped the findings would lead to evidence-based policies and practices in preventing tooth decay in remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities across Australia.

To view the article in the Brisbane Times click here and to view a more detailed article about the research in UQ News click here.

Aboriginal girl holding blue toothbrush to her mouth

Image source: The Conversation.

Shifting Gears Summit

What would our health systems look like if consumers were in the driving seat – if consumer experiences and leadership were enabled to seamlessly transform health and social care to better serve their needs? In Australia we do have successful models that have arisen from genuine consumer co-design, such as the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services.

A summit hosted by the Consumer’s Health Forum of Australia next week (17–19 March) starts off by asking speakers and participants why such reform is needed, and goes on to showcase success, and provide inspiration for future efforts. This is a virtual event with an international cast of speakers and participants.

It’s not too late to register for the Summit (and/or one of the two pre-summit masterclasses).

To join the event, register here, banner text 'CHF Summit 2021 Shifting Gears 18–19 March 2021', orange and purple for cogs with vector medical images

COVID-19 vaccine rollout in Qld Q&A

Health Consumers Qld is hosting a panel of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health leaders, including Ms Haylene Grogan, Dr Mark Wenitong, Associate Professor James Ward and Associate Professor Margie Danchin to answer questions from the community about the COVID-19 vaccine rollout.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health consumers from across Queensland are invited to attend another Q&A session.

The Q&A session will take place from 9:30–11:00 AM on Monday 29 March 2021 by Zoom videoconference and “watch parties”. We hope that groups of people may come together to join the on-line session so those without internet access and those who would prefer to be in a group, can come together for a “watch party” .

To register click here.banner text 'COVID-19 vaccine rollout in Queensland Your Questions Answered for Aboriginal Torres Strait Islander People Session 2 - Health Consumers Queensland, Queensland Government'