NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Management of COVID-19 in community

The image in the feature tile is from ABC News article Indigenous communities won’t be safe from COVID until we act on the lessons learnt in Wilcannia, 28 November 2021. Photo: Micahel Franchi.

Management of COVID-19 in community

A research article published in The Medical Journal of Australia (MJA) says we need to learn from Australia’s response to the pandemic and break down siloes, so we can build a more integrated and resilient health system. While the Australian health care system is well regarded on the global stage in terms of the balance between investment in health care and outcomes delivered, there is considerable fragmentation and poor coordination of care and communication between hospitals and primary care, which limits further improvement. Geographical barriers, workforce shortages and issues relating to acceptability of services limit health care access for residents of rural, regional and remote communities, Aboriginal peoples and Torres Strait Islanders, and together with an inadequate focus on prevention, limit progress towards health equity.

The article says strong advocacy from NACCHO and GPs in outbreak areas (including the Primary and Chronic Care Panel of the National COVID‐19 Clinical Evidence Taskforce) did consider the issues inherent in managing COVID‐19 in remote communities with overcrowded housing, but resource constraints limited execution of solutions. Early central planning and discussion also rarely involved primary care providers — from private, public or Aboriginal community controlled health sectors — and highlighted a lack of regional health care planning structures. The authors claim there is a particular need for purposeful rebuilding of remote PHC, emphasising the primacy of the Aboriginal clinical workforce, demonstrated as essential for overcoming vaccine hesitancy and enabling timely vaccine rollout.

To view The Medical Journal of Australia article Management of COVID‐19 in the community and the role of primary care: how the pandemic has shone light on a fragmented health system in full click here.

NACCHO developed COVID-19 resource. Image source: Croakey Health Media .

Racism is a public health issue

The Yokayi Footy panel has weighted in on the “horrifying chapter” of racism accusations embroiling Hawthorn football club and AFL coaches Alastair Clarkson and Chris Fagan Program host Megan Waters made a heartfelt plea and said as mob the news makes her feel “sick to the gut” before emotions got the best of former players Andrew Krakouer, Gillbert McAdam and Darryl White.

Hawthorn football staff, including Clarkson and Fagan, are alleged to have targeted three unnamed First Nations players during their time at the club, pressuring them into severing relationships with partners and families to better focus on their careers. “The story of racism is still very much alive in this country,” Ms Waters said.

Krakouer said similar stories of racism seem to come up every week, highlighting the need for stronger processes to better address the issue, cut suicide rates and social determinate factors felt by Indigenous people as a result of its ongoing impacts. “Racism is a public health issue,” he said. “It affects our health, life and our safety so we need to get serious about racism because what has been done previously, it’s not good enough.”

To view the National Indigenous Times article ‘Racism is a public health issue’: Indigenous footy personalities speak out on Hawthorn probe in full click here.

Andrew Krakouver. Photo: AFL.com.au. Image source: National Indigenous Times.

Abolition of cashless debit card

The Albanese Labor Government is delivering a long-term plan to ensure certainty, choice and support to communities moving off the cashless debit card program. Following extensive consultation in sites across the nation, the Government has today announced a suite of measures that empowers local communities and will assist in abolishing the cashless debit card program and ensure communities are better off.

This will deliver on our election commitment to end a failed program. The Government will abolish the cashless debit card program and make income management voluntary in Ceduna, East Kimberley, Goldfields and Bundaberg-Hervey Bay. Under the plan, the Cape York region will retain all of its powers of self-determination and referral for community members to go onto income management under the Family Responsibilities Commission.

To view the joint media release Empowering communities with the abolition of the cashless debit card program in full click here.

Photo: Natalie Whitling, ABC News.

WA study to address low vax rate

Pregnant, expectant and breastfeeding First Nations mums will be the focus of new research that seeks to increase COVID-19 vaccination rates among Aboriginal women across WA. The project will be led by Dr Anne-Marie Eades from the Curtin School of Allied Health. Dr Eades, a Noongar woman from the Wagyl Kaip region of WA, said First Nations women, particularly of a childbearing age, urgently needed greater access to vaccinations because they were most vulnerable to infection.

“There is currently a lack of research addressing the barriers to the uptake of the COVID-19 vaccination among Aboriginal families,” Dr Eades said. “What we do know is that Aboriginal people are less likely to have been vaccinated against COVID-19 compared to the general population, with the differences most bleak in WA. Our study will evaluate the successes, barriers and opportunities of Australia’s COVID-19 vaccination program to reach Aboriginal women and their unborn children – and potentially target children under five in the event of an early childhood COVID-19 vaccine rollout.”

Partnering with the South-West Aboriginal Medical Service (SWAMS) and Babbingur Mia-Aboriginal Women’s Health Service, Dr Eades will be supported by a team of leading experts in Aboriginal health, COVID-19 vaccinations, immunisation, and midwifery. “We need to determine what factors could have encouraged a greater uptake of vaccination for First Nations mothers who are pregnant, breastfeeding or trying to conceive,” Dr Eades said.

To view the Curtin University media release Study to address low COVID-19 vaccinations among Aboriginal women in full click here.

Michell Farrell gets her first COVID-19 vaccine at the Ngukurr Clinic. Photo: Kate Ashton, ABC News.

Healthy Skin Guidelines online survey

Telethon Kids Institute is inviting you to participate in an online survey to help with the evaluation of the 1st edition of the National Healthy Skin Guidelines (NHSG). The 1st edition of the NHSG was published in 2018 by the Australian Healthy Skin Consortium, and endorsed by NACCHO. It focuses on the prevention, treatment, and public health control of skin infections (such as impetigo, scabies, crusted scabies and tinea) for Aboriginal populations. Available online, the NHSG has been viewed >10,000 times, downloaded > 3,500 times, and the quiz for knowledge assessment completed >300 times.

Telethon Kids Institute want to know your experience of the guideline to help inform the updates to the next edition, or if you haven’t used it, we’d like to know about where you might go to access this kind of information and resources. The survey is intended for any healthcare worker who cares for people with skin infections. There are two separate surveys for those who have, and those who have not, used the 1st edition of the NHSG. You do not have to have used the 1st edition to take part in this survey, and you will only complete one survey.

It is estimated that the survey will take a maximum of 20 minutes. All responses are anonymous.

Click on this link to begin the survey.  If you have any queries, please do not hesitate to contact Dr Asha Bowen using this email link.

Increasing maternal health service uptake

University of Huddersfield researcher Devendra Raj Singh hopes that improvements in public health in disadvantaged communities will be the result of his international collaborations under the UK’s Turing Scheme. Devendra recently spent two months at the Australian National University (ANU) in Canberra, where he found that his research drew parallels between health issues faced by Australia’s Aboriginal community and people in his native Nepal.

The PhD research aims to co-design an initiative to improve the delivery and uptake of free maternal and new-born health services in Nepal, where Devendra hails from Madhesh Province in the south of the country. While in Canberra, Devendra worked closely with academics at the National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health at ANU, one of Australia’s highest-ranked universities, and he gained invaluable insights into the issues facing Australia’s First Nations peoples.

“My visit to ANU has provided me with an excellent practical introduction to implementation research methodologies such as co-design, realist review, and policy analysis. But it was my absolute privilege to learn about the historical past, culture, and challenges of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders in Australia,” he adds.

To view the University of Huddersfield article Health researcher Devendra aims to build on Turing Scheme experience in full click here.

Natalia Moore-Deagan says the Indigenous health workers are one reason she goes to Danila Dilba. Photo: Lucy Marks, ABC News.

Medicare must be accessible to prisoners

Gerry Georgatos, a suicide prevention and poverty researcher with an experiential focus on social justice has written an article for Independent Australia arguing that Medicare must be accessible for prisoners. “It is my experience, in general, people come out of prisons in worse conditions than when they commenced the situational trauma of incarceration” Georgatos said. Health inequalities and discrimination in this nation’s 132 prisons are rife. Nearly 45,000 prisoners are denied Medicare.  Medicare is denied to prisoners, old and young, and to children as young as ten.

In addition, the incarcerated in effect are denied access to the Pharmaceuticals Benefits Scheme  and denied access to the National Disability Insurance Scheme, with disastrous impacts. It is established and self-evident, nearly all of Australia’s prisoners are comprised of people living in the lowest quintile of income. Additionally, they also comprise the quintile of the weakest primary and secondary health.”

To view the Independent Australia article Medicare must be accessible for prisoners in full click here.

Image source: The West Australian.

Sector Jobs

Sector Jobs – you can see sector job listings on the NACCHO website here.

Advertising Jobs – to advertise a job vacancy click here to go to the NACCHO website Current job listings webpage. Scroll down to the bottom of the page to find a Post A Job form. You can complete this form with your job vacancy details – it will then be approved for posting and go live on the NACCHO website.

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Environmental experts share advice

The image in the feature tile is from the Animal Management in Rural and Remote Indigenous Communities (AMRRIC) website.

Environmental health experts share advice

The impact of climate change upon Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities was in the spotlight recently at the 13th National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Environmental Health Conference. Attended by over 170 delegates from most Australian states and territories, the conference, held on Larrakia Country in Darwin, also heard calls for the establishment of a National Environmental Health First Nations Expert Group.

The conference provided a platform for hearing from a variety of environmental health practitioners from across Australia, highlighting the programs and activities being undertaken and the challenges faced. Among the presenters was CEO of One Disease Team Michelle Dowden, whose  presentation A “Mitey” Task Made Easier By Working Together looked at the social determinants of health and the need for a strength based approach to underpin the its aim to achieve scabies free communities and households. Other presenters included Chicky Clements, an environmental health worker for Nirrumbuk Aboriginal Corporation, who asked why after 13 national conferences over 26 years, action to consolidate a national environmental health workforce had not progressed and first time presenters from Miwatj Health Aboriginal Corporation who spoke about their important work in remote communities.

A wide range of topics were covered at the conference, including: the links to environmental health and the prevention of rheumatic heart disease and trachoma; WHO statistics showing 25% of the health burden is due to environmental health conditions; all wetlands in the NT being at risk of Japanese Encephalitis; the post border, active surveillance early detection biosecurity community dog and cat health project which results in an animal census for local decision making; the environmental health response to 2022 floods which included ensuring potable water, reopening flooded food businesses and managing waste; the need to incorporate traditional knowledge into water guidelines; the COVID-19 response; an overcrowding study; the cost of hospitalisation attributable to environmental health conditions; animal management; the impacts of climate change; and mosquito borne diseases.

To view the Croakey Health Media article Putting the spotlight on environmental health expertise and challenges in full click here.

Lived experience of addiction voices essential

Hundreds of people gathered in Canberra this week for a conference that flipped the usual proceedings and power dynamics. Too often people experiencing or affected by health issues are on the sidelines, in the background or completely missing in major health gatherings. But people with lived experience of addictions took centre-stage at this week’s inaugural Rethink Addiction convention, titled ‘It’s time to change the conversation’.

They were not just token voices on panels stacked with ‘experts’ as seen at many conferences, but the main voices in session after session of the two-day event, their expertise, knowledge and experiences privileged and valued. In heart-breaking detail, they told raw and powerful stories about addictions to alcohol, other drugs, and gambling which took many to the brink, facing suicide, prison, financial ruin, the removal of children or – in the case of Australian of the Year Local Hero Shanna Whan – waking up in Emergency after falling down a concrete flight of stairs.

As well as showcasing their courage, strength and commitment to others, they took strong aim at the structural barriers they have faced in their recovery, including government, industry and media, and a fragmented and flawed health system. Among the audience were health and service professionals, academics, policy makers and researchers – there to listen and put up their hands to ask the questions.

To view the Croakey Health Media article Privileging the voices of people with lived experiences of addiction in full click here.

Building our mental health workforce

The Andrews Labor Government is building a mental health workforce that provides culturally safe and inclusive care by supporting traineeships and scholarships for Aboriginal people who want to work in the sector. The Government has invested $5.6 million over five years to support the Aboriginal Social and Emotional Wellbeing Scholarships Program – providing training courses and professional development opportunities for Aboriginal people who wish to work in the mental health sector.

The program provided more than a dozen scholarships for students attending RMIT and Deakin Universities in semester one this year. Providing the best quality education and training for Victoria’s mental health workforce ensures the best quality care for all Victorians with mental illness. Building on the transition from study to work, the Government has also provided more than $7 million since 2017 for the Aboriginal Mental Health Traineeship Program – a specialist course that provides workplace training, while trainees complete placements and mental health qualifications.

The program also allows our mental health services to learn from trainees about Aboriginal culture and gain knowledge and perspective, so they can develop more holistic and well-informed supports and care programs for all Victorians. The first graduates are now working in an ongoing role with the health service where they undertook their traineeship or as an Aboriginal social and emotional wellbeing worker in a local Aboriginal community-controlled health organisation.

To view the medianet article Building Our Aboriginal Mental Health Workforce in full click here.

Suicide prevention consultation in Balgo community. (L to R)Brian Darkie Junior (Community Liaison Officer Balgo), Vicki McKenna (Suicide Prevention Coordinator), Desmond Stretch, Daniel Rockman, Darren Brown, Justin Mosquito, Nathaniel Stretch, Larissa Mudgedell. Photo supplied by KAMS. Image source: National Indigenous Times.

Calls for urgent action on detention protocol

The death this week of another Indigenous man in custody in Victoria, the third such life lost in the state’s prisons in the last 12 months, has renewed focus on Australia’s disproportionate incarceration rates for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. With over 500 deaths in custody since the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody, the Victorian Aboriginal Legal Service (VALS) will use an upcoming submission to the UN Committee Against Torture (CAT) to call out Australia’s slow implementation of the Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture (OPCAT), to establish a system of unannounced visits to places of detention.

VALS condemns the lack of action on implementing the recommendations of 1991 Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody (RCIADIC) and calls for OPCAT to be implemented in Victoria. “The urgent need to implement OPCAT in Victoria has been identified by the Victorian Ombudsman, which carried out two OPCAT style investigations in custodial facilities in 2017 and 2019,” the submission reads. The submission described the Victorian Government’s response as woefully inadequate and expressed concern that this once in a generation opportunity to prevent torture and inhumane treatment in detention is being squandered.

To view the Croakey Health Media article Clock is ticking for Australian governments to address human rights concerns around places of detention in full click here.

Image source: Sydney Criminal Lawyers.

In a related ABC News broadcast Why are Aboriginal deaths in custody still happening in Victoria? Jill Gallagher, CEO of the Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation, spoke with Amber Irving-Guthrie. You can listen to the interview in full using this link.

Heal Our Way suicide prevention

Heal Our Way is a NSW Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Campaign funded by the NSW Ministry of Health under Towards Zero Suicides (TZS) initiatives. Led by Cox Inall Ridgeway in partnership with Aboriginal communities in NSW, health leaders and people who have lived experience of suicide, the campaign aims to provide practical resources to community members to equip them with the skills to have safe conversations around suicide.

Uncle George Ellis has been shared as part of the Heal Our Way campaign. Uncle George Ellis is a descendant of Kinchela Boys Home. He is a Gomeroi and Likaparta man who now lives in the Northern Rivers of NSW. He said “What we’ve done with Heal Our Way, which is what we need to keep doing, is to put these kinds of stories at the centre of our conversations about suicide. They are stories of strength, sadness, resilience, hurt and hope – but they important because they are real. They also bring us together because they are shared experiences in our communities and that way, we can address them as a community.

To access the Croakey Health Media article Heal Our Way: supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to have safe conversations around suicide prevention in full click here.

Uncle George Ellis. Image source: Croakey Health Media.

Supporting mob with Musculoskeletal conditions

Despite national, state and local campaigns to Close the Gap in Australia, considerable health gaps still exist between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people. Musculoskeletal conditions are an area of health where there is a significant difference between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people. Although Indigenous people experience musculoskeletal conditions more. their access to high-quality and culturally informed support remains low.

Musculoskeletal conditions can have a considerable effect on people’s lives. Such conditions can affect a person’s ability to walk, complete simple tasks at home without help, and participate in sports or work. Government health organisations need to provide better support for Indigenous people suffering from these conditions by encouraging culturally safe community-based care.

Internationally, low back pain is the leading cause of disability, and osteoarthritis is the leading cause of physical activity limitiation. Both of these ailments are more common in Indigenous people, who are 20–50% more likely to have osteoarthritis and 10% more likely to report current back pain than the non-Indigenous population in Australia. Musculoskeletal conditions have also been shown to contribute to the development of chronic diseases such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease. With 46% of Australia’s Indigenous population having at least one chronic condition, this may lead to even higher rates of chronic diseases.

To view The Conversation How do we support Indigenous people in Australia living with musculoskeletal conditions? in full click here.

Photo: Shutterstock. Image source: The Conversation.

Sector Jobs

Sector Jobs – you can see sector job listings on the NACCHO website here.

Advertising Jobs – to advertise a job vacancy click here to go to the NACCHO website Current job listings webpage. Scroll down to the bottom of the page to find a Post A Job form. You can complete this form with your job vacancy details – it will then be approved for posting and go live on the NACCHO website.

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Culturally appropriate sepsis resources

The image in the feature tile is from a research article Long term outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians after hospital intensive care published in The Medical Journal of Australia 15 June 2020.

Culturally appropriate sepsis resources

Yesterday Professor Anne Duggan who is the Chief Medical Officer at the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care (ACSQHC) issued the following statement:

World Sepsis Day 2022 – striving for better sepsis care 

Today is World Sepsis Day – an opportunity to unite globally in the fight against sepsis. The Commission actively supports this important initiative to highlight the devastating impact of sepsis, which affects more than 55,000 Australians of all ages every year.

Sepsis Clinical Care Standard

As part of the National Sepsis Program, the Commission released the first national Sepsis Clinical Care Standard in June, in partnership with The George Institute for Global Health. By outlining the best possible care for sepsis patients, the standard supports the work of healthcare services across Australia already striving to improve outcomes for sepsis. It’s clear the standard is a game changer that supports healthcare workers to recognise sepsis as a medical emergency and provide coordinated high-quality care. Refer to our implementation resources and case studies for guidance on integrating into practice.

National awareness resources 

Over the past year, the Commission has released a suite of resources under the theme ‘Could it be sepsis?’, focused on improving consumer awareness and clinician recognition of sepsis. I invite you to continue to spread the word about the signs and symptoms of sepsis using the resources in our communications toolkit. We have created culturally appropriate materials for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

I also encourage you to watch and share our sepsis video series, offering a range of perspectives about why it’s so important to recognise and speak up about sepsis. By simply asking “could it be sepsis?”, we can encourage life-saving treatment that may help to reduce preventable death or disability caused by sepsis. Let’s continue to work together to reduce the burden of sepsis on our community.

Youth Steering Committee applications open

Applications for the Youth Steering Committee have now opened on the Australian Youth Affairs Coalition website here. A stakeholder kit including promotional and social media materials can be found on the Department of Education’s Youth Hub here.

The Youth Steering Committee will support the implementation of the new Youth Engagement Model by engaging in meaningful and ongoing conversation with Government to inform and develop successful youth policies. The committee will work closely with the Minister for Youth to provide advice and feedback on Government engagement with young people and youth programs and policies.

Any young person aged between 12 and 25 can apply. We are seeking a diverse group of people from across the country. No previous experience is required. 15 young people will be appointed to the committee. Committee members will be paid on honorarium to recognise contributions made over the committee term. The first meeting of the committee will occur in Canberra from Monday 21 November to Wednesday,23 November. Applicants must be available for this meeting. Travel and accommodation costs for this meeting will be covered for participants.

Applications are open until Wednesday 5 October 2022.

Please contact the Youth Team using either this email address or this email address if you require more information or support.

CVD and chronic kidney disease webinar

On Thursday 29 September 2022, the Heart Foundation is partnering with the World Heart Federation to bring to you a health professional webinar exploring the latest evidence on cardiovascular disease (CVD) and chronic kidney disease (CKD), including early detection of renal risk factors for CVD. This event will be chaired by Prof Garry Jennings, Chief Medical Advisor of the Heart Foundation, and we will be joined by Professor George Bakris, internationally renowned nephrologist, as well as Australian experts as they discuss the latest evidence and how it can be translated into practical preventative care.

Title: Filtering through the impact of Chronic Kidney Disease on CVD

When and Where: 8:00PM AEST Thursday 29 September 2022 – live and recorded, free Zoom webinar

This webinar has been accredited by RACGP for 2 CPD points. (Activity no. 367709). To REGISTER click here.

Chronic wounds costing lives and limbs

Band-aid solutions to chronic wounds are costing lives and limbs, and a simple solution could not only prevent those losses but cut billions in health system costs, AMA Vice President Dr Danielle McMullen told the Wounds Australia 2022 conference. Dr McMullen said people are dying prematurely and limbs are being amputated because the current system prevents some of the most vulnerable people in the country getting the right treatment at the right time.

“Chronic wound care is a poorly understood and under-funded public health issue, even though it affects around 450,000 Australians and costs $3 billion each year,” Dr McMullen said. “A lack of awareness about the significance of chronic wounds means vulnerable patients — mostly older Australians, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, or patients with other chronic conditions — often suffer in silence and fall through the cracks in our health system.”

“The AMA is proposing a national scheme to fund medical dressings for chronic wounds and new MBS items to cover the unmet costs of providing care for patients suffering chronic wounds. Our analysis shows investing just $23.4 million over four years to deliver best practice wound care for diabetic foot ulcers, arterial leg ulcers, and venous leg ulcers would save the health system more than $203 million. This is a no brainer. I don’t know of many investments where for every $1.00 you spend, the return is $8.36, but this is the case with evidence-based wound care. The government often mentions its inherited trillion-dollar debt, so it should be looking for smart investments which will save the health system money and deliver better health outcomes for patients at the same time.”

To view the AMA’s media release Replacing band-aid wound solutions could save lives and millions in health system costs in full click here.

Wound care training in the Top End, NT. Image source: CRANAplus website.

Disparity in genomic medicine access

Globally there is a robust and growing evidence base that reveals access and outcomes across health systems are different for Indigenous populations. For Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander populations, research reveals disparities in access to the Australian health system and the clinical services it provides, including diagnostic investigations, procedures, care planning, treatments, as well as service adherence to best practice treatment guidelines. However, to date, access to clinical genetic health services has not been quantified among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander populations.

Research investigating disparity in access to Australian clinical genetic health services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people has been conducted as part of the Better Indigenous Genomics (BIG) Health Services Study funded by the Lowitja Institute. It was a university led project conducted in partnership with Australian clinical genetic health services. Formal support for this project was provided by Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance Northern Territory (AMSANT), Machado-Joseph Disease Foundation, Bega Garnbirringu Health Service (Kalgoorlie), and the Aboriginal Health Council of Western Australia (AHCWA) (via Ethics support). Extensive stakeholder consultation and engagement took place with 14 Aboriginal Health Organisations to identify research study priorities as part of the wider BIG study.

To view the Nature Communication article Investigating disparity in access to Australian clinical genetic health services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in full click here.

Image source: Queensland University of Technology website.

Preventing suicide in vulnerable groups

The Territory Labor Government is investing in infrastructure and community programs to support mental health and suicide prevention initiatives. More than $50 million in funding includes a new 18 bed inpatient unit and Stabilisation and Referral Area in the Top End and the establishment of universal aftercare services, meaning Territorians discharged from hospital following a suicide attempt will receive immediate follow-up care. This week the NT Government has released the fourth Suicide Prevention Progress Report.

The report provides a snapshot of the key achievements of the NT Suicide Prevention Strategic Framework Implementation Plan 2018-2023. Some of the top achievements in the report include: Community Suicide Prevention Grants: 30 grants totalling $222,750 awarded for activities during 2022-2023. More than $1.22 million has been provided in community grants since 2018.Training for Staff and Community Members Working with Priority Groups: 1,463 Territorians trained in suicide prevention in the past 12 months. Priority groups include men, youth, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, migrant and refugee communities, current and former defence force personnel, and the LGBTQ+ community.

Grant recipient, Northern Territory Aids and Hepatitis Council (NTAHC), has run a successful program with Tiwi Islands Sistergirls using imagery that speaks to the lived expertise of the Sistergirls. In its current grants program, NTAHC is developing resources to decrease stigma around sexual health among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island people and LGBTQ+ youth, groups which often have poor mental health outcomes.

To view the Mirage News article Report Card: Preventing suicide in vulnerable groups in full click here.

Image source: NT Independent.

Mum’s house clinic ‘disparity’ an inspiration

Worimi head and neck surgeon Kelvin Kong attributes his chosen career path to his life growing up witnessing firsthand the disparity between himself and his non-Indigenous friends. The University of Newcastle school of Medicine and Public Health doctor and Royal Australasian College of Surgeons fellow has always had interest in giving back and helping. Growing up with a nurse for a mum, Mr Kong often had mob around his house for basic procedures such as wound dressings and cyst removals.

“It wasn’t until we got to high school that we started asking why we weren’t going to hospital,” Mr Kong said. “None of my non-Indigenous friends had the same kinds of concerns – they weren’t going around to people’s houses to get medical care. You start realizing there is this disparity with access to care, particularly medical care.” Mr Kong’s career path appeared laid out before him from an early age, but a school visit from University of Newcastle doctors set his eyes on the prize. The key difference of that visit was the presence of Aboriginal doctors, a career Mr Kong had never previously thought was attainable for him.

“I still remember coming home and saying to my sister, wow you can actually go to university – that’s something we should pursue,” Mr Kong said. These days Mr Kong dedicates his time to rare diseases, in particular, otitis media, which disproportionately affects Aboriginal people. According to Mr Kong, otitis media affects the majority of children in Australia, but access to care is the one of the main reasons it affects Aboriginal kids differently.

To view the National Indigenous Times article Mum’s house clinic ‘disparity’ an inspiration for Worimi surgeon Kelvin Kong in full click here.

Sector Jobs

Sector Jobs – you can see sector job listings on the NACCHO website here.

Advertising Jobs – to advertise a job vacancy click here to go to the NACCHO website Current job listings webpage. Scroll down to the bottom of the page to find a Post A Job form. You can complete this form with your job vacancy details – it will then be approved for posting and go live on the NACCHO website.

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: World Sepsis Day 2022

The image in the feature tile is from the Hartmann Science Center website International Campaign Days webpage.

World Sepsis Day 2022

Sepsis is the body’s overwhelming and life-threatening response to an infection that can lead to tissue damage, organ failure and death. Every 2.8 seconds someone in the world dies from sepsis. Every year at least 18,000 Australian’s are diagnosed with sepsis, with around 5,000 losing their lives.

Sepsis has been coined the “silent killer” – it can rapidly cause death – sometimes within hours, but the signs of sepsis can be difficult to diagnose as early symptoms can be dismissed or confused with simple cold and flu symptoms or other similar conditions. Sepsis happens when the body is fighting an infection but it starts to attack itself. It can damage many parts of the body and cause death.

The best chance of getting better from sepsis is to treat it quickly. The public are being urged to educate themselves and get to know the signs of sepsis. If you suspect sepsis, seek urgent medical attention and never be afraid to ask – It it sepsis?

The below animation is from the T 4 Thomas Is It Sepsis? website here. You can also find more about World Sepsis Day 2022 on the Australian Sepsis Network (ASN) webpage here.

Farewell Uncle Jack Charles

The beloved star of stage and screen Uncle Jack Charles has passed away peacefully surrounded by loved ones. The legendary actor, musician and activist celebrated his 79th birthday last week, and is being remembered as a towering figure of Indigenous culture. In a statement, his family stated that Uncle Jack Charles had suffered a stroke, before passing away at the Royal Melbourne Hospital Tuesday morning. “We are so proud of everything he has achieved in his remarkable life,” reads the statement. “May he be greeted by his Ancestors on his return home.”

The Boon Wurrung Dja Dja Wurrung Woiwurrung Yorta Yorta Elder is well known to generations of Australians as the actor with the treacle vocal cords, his rich baritone the soundtrack to innumerable plays, television programs and movies. His activism for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander progress, especially regarding the Stolen Generations and education, was also an unfailing part of his efforts. Before he passed away, his family were able to send him off on Country during a smoking ceremony at the Royal Melbourne hospital.

To view the SBS NITV article Beloved Elder Uncle Jack Charles passes away in full click here. You can also view Minister for Indigenous Australians, Linda Burney’s media release Passing of Uncle Jack Charles here.

Uncles Jack Charles. Image source: NITV News.

Sowing seeds for a healthy future

A grassroots, community-based approach aims to address poor nutrition in remote Indigenous communities. EON Foundation, which works in partnership with 39 Aboriginal communities and schools to build edible gardens and develop and deliver nutrition programs, is setting up a program in Kalkarindji in the NT. Funding has been provided by the Katherine Region Communities for Children Facilitating Partner program, facilitated by the Smith Family and funded through the Australian Government.

In remote areas like this, accessing  fresh produce can be difficult, with fruit and vegetables  costing up to 50% more than they would in urban areas. As a result, the Victoria Daly Regional Council (VDRC) says 94% of Aboriginal children have an inadequate daily intake of fruit and vegetables. Poor nutrition then leads to health problems like heart and kidney disease and type two diabetes. Phase one of the Kalkarindji project will see a section of the Kalkarindji School grounds transformed into an edible bush tucker and sensory garden. Donna Donzow, the EON Foundation’s NT operations manager, said working closely with the school was a great way to teach kids about healthy eating habits.

To view the Pro Bono Australia article Sowing seeds for a healthy future in Kalkarindji in full click here.

Donna Donzow in front of the garden site. Image source: Pro Bono Australia.

We need to talk about family violence

Doctpr Gracelyn Smallwood does not have time to retire. “Some people my age would be sitting by the beach, drinking pina coladas,” she said with a laugh. “Not me, there’s too much work to do.” The 71-year-old Indigenous health and human rights advocate spoke at the Red Rose Domestic Violence fundraiser luncheon at Victoria Park Golf complex last Friday. “I had to cram about 200 years of knowledge into a 15-minute speech,” Dr Smallwood joked.

Founded in 2016 by chief executive Betty Taylor, the Red Rose Foundation works to address the impact of domestic and family violence in Australian communities. The national charity provides holistic medical, legal and trauma counselling support to victims of “high-harm and high-risk” domestic violence such as strangulation.

Mrs Taylor said Red Rose was honoured to host Dr Smallwood as their keynote speaker. “Gracelyn is an absolute champion of diversity and inclusivity,” Mrs Taylor said. Regarded as one of the most prominent First Nations health and justice experts, Dr Smallwood was a published author, a former consultant to the World Health Organisation, and the recipient of the 2022 Queensland Greats Awards.

To view The Catholic Leader article ‘Changing the ending’ – Why the Red Rose Foundation wants Australia to talk about domestic violence in full click here.

Red Rose founder Betty Taylor and Dr Gracelyn Smallwood. Phot: Martin Pouwelse. Image source: The Catholic Leader.

Quantifying myocardial inflammation

Dr Jessica O’Brien is a cardiologist and PhD student at Monash University and Alfred Health. Dr O’Brien received an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Award from the Heart Foundation for her project Quantifying myocardial inflammation in acute rheumatic fever (ARF) and rheumatic heart disease (RHD). This grant is focused on capacity building and increasing Indigenous representation at all levels of research. Dr O’Brien will use cardiac magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to identify myocardial inflammation (inflammation of the heart muscle) in ARF. The aim is to improve diagnostic accuracy and the ability to predict who is most likely to progress to RHD.

By being able to diagnose acute rheumatic fever early, this will help to improve access to effective medications (antibiotics) to prevent infection. The overall goal is to help reduce the impact of rheumatic heart disease in Australia. Dr O’Brien says, “Because of my background, I have always been interested in Indigenous health, but it wasn’t until I started medical specialist training that I saw the extent of the gap in health outcomes between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians. One of the many contributors to this issue is that there are not enough Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health professionals and researchers, which is important to ensure Indigenous people can receive culturally appropriate, best practice care.”

To view the Heart Foundation article Q&A with Dr Jessica O’Brien in full click here.

Dr Jessica O’Brien. Image source: The Heart Foundation website.

Jalngangurru Health Trial

Cultural (traditional) healing can be used to address physical ailments, social and emotional wellbeing, mental health issues, drug dependence and culture bound syndromes (e.g. being sung). There are varied forms of healing practices from the Kimberley including mabarn, bush medicinal products, the smoking of various woods and leaves, the use of ochre and ceremonial songs, palliative care and child and maternal health.

The Jalngangurru Healing model is being trialled in Derby and Fitzroy Crossing with 19 healers currently registered. The model will enable the healers to be compensated for their work, with cultural safety and security embedded in the model, and will enable the safe keeping of knowledge for future generations. The trial is open until mid December 2022.

Jalngangurru Healing, formerly known as the Traditional Healing Practices Pilot (THPP) is a project managed by the Yiriman Project in partnership with Emama Nguda Aboriginal Corporation, auspiced by the Kimberley Law and Culture Centre (KALACC), funded by the WA Primary Health Alliance (WAPHA), supported by the Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Service (KAMS) and it is being evaluated by Notre Dame University’s Nulungu Research Centre.

You can access Jalngangurru Healing Trial Explainer here and a Jalngangurru Healing Trial Poster here.

Photos: John Reed. Image source: 2022 Jalngangurru Healing.

Winnunuga News August 2022 edition

The August 2022 edition of Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health and Community Services newsletter Winnunga News is now available here. This edition includes a CEO Update and a range of articles including:

  • ACT Budget Leaves Health Behind
  • Poverty in the ACT?
  • AMC Under The Spotlight
  • August Anniversary Events
  • Julie’s Tough Turning Point: Sober Up or Kill Yourself
  • Report Into Death of Detainee at AMC Identifies Serious Shortcomings
  • Keira Brown v. Director General of the Justice and Community Safety Directorate
  • Maconochie’s Experiment
  • COVID-19 and Influenza Update

Sector Jobs

Sector Jobs – you can see sector job listings on the NACCHO website here.

Advertising Jobs – to advertise a job vacancy click here to go to the NACCHO website Current job listings webpage. Scroll down to the bottom of the page to find a Post A Job form. You can complete this form with your job vacancy details – it will then be approved for posting and go live on the NACCHO website.

 

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: This is not about money, profit or turf

The Pixabay image in the feature tile is from the ABC News article Pharmacist prescription trial proposed as possible solution to the GP shortage faces indefinite delays, 23 August 2022.

This is not about money, profit or turf

Dr Jillann Farmer, a Brisbane-based GP and former Medical Director of the United Nations has written an article for the Medical Journal of Australia’s InSight arguing that when something looks simple, it can deceptively create a sense that the work is simple. The ease with which health professionals exercise heuristic skills to rapidly synthesise patient demographic and social circumstances, comorbid conditions, pathology and epidemiology and arrive at a diagnosis and treatment choice make that expertise largely invisible and has likely contributed to an overall perception that most of what GPs do is simple and can be safely and appropriately done by alterative health professionals with significantly less training and experience. Some of the work GPs do absolutely can be done by others. But the health system needs those decisions to be informed by actual expert practitioners.

The North Queensland pharmacy trial, an election promise of the Palaszczuk government, followed on the urinary tract infection (UTI) treatment trial/pilot which allowed patients to present to a pharmacy and be dispensed antibiotics for a UTI. There have been significant concerns expressed about the diagnostic acumen of pharmacists in this space – prescribing based on symptoms alone. GPs do the same if we treat a UTI by telehealth, but for most, that is the exception, not the standard.

The UTI program seems to have emboldened the Queensland Government, and the North Queensland Pharmacy Trial was born. The proposal could cut doctors (not just GPs, but all doctors) out of decisions to diagnose and initiate prescription medicines of some pretty significant diseases. Hypertension and diabetes were on the original list where pharmacists would be able to diagnose and prescribe. The details of the proposals are not public domain, but within current funding frameworks, it seems almost impossible that pharmacists would be able to implement current guidelines for appropriate care to the same standard as doctors.

It is of particular concern that the trial was proposed for a region of Queensland where Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are a significant proportion of the population. So we target an already disadvantaged population and substitute care that cuts them off from recommended diagnostic and management capabilities. It is no wonder that NACCHO expressed opposition to the trial.

To view the InSight+ article Give GPs problems to solve, not election promises in full click here.

Image source: RACGP newsGP webiste.

What a male midwife learnt in Arnhem Land

It was a dry Thursday afternoon in Arnhem Land, NT, when young mum Tanisha’s [name changed for privacy] waters broke at just 23 weeks of gestation. Approximately 417 kms from the nearest hospital, an aircraft and doctor chaperone were flown in to her remote Aboriginal community within a few hours of the call for medical evacuation. But Tanisha felt anything but relief when her medical retrieval arrived. The doctor disembarking the aircraft was a man, and in her Aboriginal culture it is taboo for men — including medical practitioners — to interact with women about ‘women’s business’.

In an interesting plot twist, however, Tanisha requested for her male midwife Christian Wright to come with her and be present for the birth. Aside from being one of just 448 men to be working in midwifery in Australia (1.6% of the total workforce) Christian is no ordinary practitioner. Recognising the sensitivities around men and women’s interactions in Aboriginal culture, Christian has always thought outside the box about how he can make his patients feel comfortable.

His trust building with Tanisha began early in the antenatal process, when he learnt the local language and used cultural linguistic cues to convey empathy and earn trust. “Speaking to people ‘in language’ is a great way to help them feel culturally safe. In some Aboriginal cultures though, there are other important linguistic considerations,” he said. “For example, when discussing taboo subjects, like women’s health, men should use alternative, almost euphemistic, variations to formal language, to minimise embarrassment.”

To view the Hospital and Healthcare article What I’ve learned as a male midwife in Arnhem Land in full click here.

Midwife Christian Wright. Image source: ABC Conversations Radio National Twitter.

Must be more than a day of checking in

In 2019 WA Coroner Ros Fogliani delivered the results of her inquest into the deaths of 13 children and young people in the Kimberley. The report is incredibly distressing to read and hollows you out with every page you turn. 13 Aboriginal children and young people who died as a result of hanging, with all bar one considered definite suicide (the other being an open finding). The Coroner explained in meticulous detail the cycle of violence, inter-generational trauma, complexities of distance and circumstances which saw the premature death of 13 people aged between 10 and 24 years of age.

What desolate desperation these children and young people must have faced, with hope so lost, that they thought the only solution was suicide. Case 12 was a young man, part of the Wungu community, born in 1994 and he died at age 20. Growing up his health was very poor, at 18 months of age he was presented to Katherine Hospital with anaemia, gastro and abscess so bad it required surgical intervention. At age six, he was referred to a child psychologist where he stated that he wanted to kill himself. Age six. In his mid-teens he witnessed multiple incidents of domestic violence between his parents.

Last Friday was R U OK? Day.If you asked an Indigenous person that question, the chances are that things are pretty tough. In truth we need to move beyond a single day of checking in (which is the real message of RUOK? Day) because if we’re ever going to start making positive change and turning the tide of suicide, it’ll only be a concerted and constant effort of talk the hard truths and face our struggles together.

To view the National Indigenous Times article Things can be tough for Indigenous people. RUOK Day needs to start a conversation for change in full click here.

Photo: Emily Jane Smith. Image source: ABC News.

Milestone contract to deliver GP training

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) has signed a milestone contract with the federal Health Department to deliver GP training in Australia from 1 February 2023. It is the largest medical vocational training contract entered into in history by an Australian Government. The signing of the contract comes after the transition of GP training back to Australia’s specialist medical colleges, the RACGP and Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine (ACRRM), was announced in October 2017 by then federal Health Minister Greg Hunt.

RACGP President Adj. Professor Karen Price welcomed the signing of the contract, “Just as general practice is integral to our health system, GP training is fundamentally important to provide our next generation of GPs, who will care for our communities into the future. We are working to make this a seamless transition, with as little disruption to the delivery of GP training as possible. We are also working closely with numerous stakeholders to make this happen, including the Department of Health, peak bodies representing GP supervisors and registrars, the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation or NACCHO, rural workforce agencies and clinical schools, primary health networks, state health organisations, local hospitals and community health services, the list goes on.”

To view the medianet article RACGP welcomes milestone contract to deliver GP training in Australia in full click here.

Dr Tarun Patel trained as a GP in the NT and worked at Wurli Wurlinjan, an Aboriginal Medical Service in Katherine. Image source: ACRRM website.

‘Empathy’ key in dementia care

Nearly 500, 000 Australians are living with dementia. Its most common form, Alzheimer’s disease, is set to cost $26.6 billion over the next 20 years. Dementia, a degenerative brain disease, affects thinking, behaviour and the ability to perform everyday tasks, interfering with a person’s normal social or working life. First nations’ voices have rarely been heard on dementia care and health services have not always been developed with Indigenous people in mind.

Speaking at the two-day International Dementia Conference 2022 in Sydney last week former Olympian and federal senator Nova Peris – the first Aboriginal woman elected to federal parliament – said dementia care for Indigenous Australians needed to draw on best practice overseas and Indigenous consultation. “Don’t try and reinvent the wheel, look to world’s best practice … acknowledging and respecting the work that’s already been done in the first nations space,” Ms Peris said. She urged the aged care sector to have empath front and centre when caring for Indigenous people with dementia. “Empathy having that understanding of that person’s life and the care that you provide for them, makes them happy,” the former federal politician said.

To view the HealthTimes article ‘Empathy’ key in Indigenous dementia care in full click here. You can also read a related AgedCare News article IDC2022: our wrap-up of a conference promising a Brave New World ahead in full here.

Bidyadanga residents with dementia are supported by workers at the community care centre. From left: Angelina Nanudie, Zarena Richards, Rosie Spencer and Faye Dean. Photo: Erin Parke, ABC Kimberley.

Strengh-based approach to kids’ health needed

First Nations children represent the future of the world’s oldest continuing culture. Of the 66,000 Victorians who identified as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander in the 2021 Census, one-third were aged under 15 years. First Nations children in Victoria are doing well in several health outcomes, a recent Aboriginal Data and Action on Prevention Together (ADAPT) report, available here, has found. This report provides valuable insight into nutrition, physical activity and wellbeing among First Nations children living in regional Victoria.

The survey found more than 300 First Nations primary school children were meeting guidelines for physical activity, healthy eating and screen time. Those who met these guidelines also had higher health-related quality of life. However, the study is rare. Before the report, there was no information available about nutrition and physical activity among primary school-aged First Nations children in Victoria.

To examine First Nations childrens’ health, Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal researchers from Deakin University partnered with the Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (VACCHO), the peak body representing Victoria’s Aboriginal community-controlled health sector. VACCHO’s nutrition team works to improve food security and nutrition outcomes among Aboriginal communities across Victoria.

To view The Conversation article Rather than focusing on the negative, we need a strength-based way to approach First Nations childrens’ health in full click here.

Aboriginal childrens’ health data needs to steer away from negative focuses by balancing the findings with respective community’s progresses. Photo: Dan Peled, AAP. Image source: The Conversation.

Indigenous-led research positions

The University of Melbourne Indigenous Studies Unit, Melbourne School of Population and Global Health, Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences has two positions available:

Postdoctoral Research Fellow – Indigenous Studies

This is an exciting opportunity to become involved in leading Indigenous health research with a passionate and dedicated team. We are seeking a highly motivated Postdoctoral Research Fellow with a research background in qualitative and/or mixed methods research, particularly using action research approaches. As a member of the NHMRC funded ‘Improving understandings of and responses to alcohol-related family violence for Aboriginal people’ team, the successful applicant is expected to contribute to independent and team-based research aiming to develop the evidence base of alcohol misuse and family violence within Indigenous communities using innovative theoretical and methodological approaches, combining theories of medical anthropology, social network analysis (SNA) and Indigenous Studies.

The successful applicant will be expected to contribute to the development of high-quality research projects and play a key role in the production of outstanding quality outputs. The successful applicant will also contribute to the supervision of honours, Masters and/or PhD students. Indigenous Australians are strongly encouraged to apply for this position.

For more information about the position and details of how to apply click here.

Research Fellow – Indigenous Data Network

The Indigenous Data Network (IDN) is seeking a highly motivated Research Fellow with a background in quantitative and/or mixed methods research, with experience in data linkage. The IDN is a national consortium of organisations and individuals led by the University of Melbourne, within the Indigenous Studies Unit, Centre for Health Equity, Melbourne School of Population & Global Health. The Research Fellow will be expected to make significant contributions to existing projects and to the development or extension of new, innovative research.

The Research Fellow will work with the IDN leadership team to drive Indigenous data ecosystems transformation, and to develop and undertake ongoing community-led research and national and international engagement. The role will include significant engagement and governance activities with key stakeholders including universities, Federal, State and Local Governments, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations and communities, and private and non-profit organisations.

For more information about the position and details of how to apply click here.

Students from the University of Melbourne Indigenous Knowledge Institute. Image source: University of Melbourne website.

Sector Jobs

Sector Jobs – you can see sector job listings on the NACCHO website here.

Advertising Jobs – to advertise a job vacancy click here to go to the NACCHO website Current job listings webpage. Scroll down to the bottom of the page to find a Post A Job form. You can complete this form with your job vacancy details – it will then be approved for posting and go live on the NACCHO website.

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Impact of alcohol-free pregnancy campaign

The image in the feature tile is from the Menzies School of Health Research webpage PANDORA – pregnancy and neonatal diabetes outcomes in remote Australia.

Impact of alcohol-free pregnancy campaign

To mark International FASD Awareness Day, the Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education (FARE) has released data that demonstrates the impact of the Every Moment Matters campaign – Australia’s first, nation-wide public awareness campaign supporting alcohol-free pregnancies and safe breastfeeding practices.

Developed by FARE and endorsed and funded by the Australian Government, Every Moment Matters aims to increase Australians’ awareness of the risks of alcohol use during pregnancy, and increase the number of Australian women who intend not to drink alcohol during pregnancy.

With the tagline ‘The moment you start trying is the moment to stop drinking’, the campaign features nationally on television, radio, digital and out-of-home channels and runs until July 2024. The results of the ongoing evaluation led by the University of Adelaide demonstrates that Every Moment Matters is overcoming the mixed messages people often receive about alcohol and pregnancy.

As part of the broader program of work, NACCHO has designed a culturally appropriate awareness raising campaign with regional and remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. NACCHO CEO Pat Turner said, “FASD is a whole of community issue. We look forward to launching the Strong Born campaign with ACCHOs across rural and remote Australia next month. The campaign will support mums, their families, their communities, their health practitioners and health services, to bring everyone together to help prevent and better understand the issues that contribute to FASD.”

You can find the joint FARE, NOFASD Australia and NACCHO media release Celebrating 9 months of impact on 9 September: International FASD Awareness Day on the NACCHO website here.

Referendum Working Group announced

Minister for Indigenous Australians Linda Burney has announced members of the Referendum Working Group which will establish the path to a Voice to Parliament. Speaking at the Centre for Economic Development of Australia (CEDA) State of the Nation conference at the National Museum of Australia, Ms Burney outlined a “working group of First Nations leaders” with Senator Pat Dodson and herself as co-chairs.

The Referendum Working Group will collaborate with the government to consider and navigate “the big questions” in the next following months. The minister said getting the groups working is the first step, with building a “broad consensus of community support” and “harnessing the goodwill in the Australian community to take Australia forward” being the following.

“[There are] many more steps to be taken on the road to the referendum and let’s be clear government cannot lead this referendum,” she said. “This will come from the grassroots, from communities, because the Voice is a nation-building project.” Included among the  group of 22 are:

  • Co-chairs of Uluru Dialogue Professor Megan Davis and Pat Anderson AO
  • Co-chairs of the Indigenous Voice co-design group Professor Marcia Langton AO and Professor Tom Calma AO
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner June Oscar AO, NACCHO CEO Pat Turner AM and former Minister for Indigenous Australians Ken Wyatt.

To view the SBS article Linda Burney outlines next referendum steps including working group with Ken Wyatt in full click here.

Image source: National Indigenous Times website.

Dedicated to fighting for mental health

Australians of all ages and backgrounds are increasingly at risk of mental health issues like depression and anxiety. Paul Bird and Alex Speedy of the National Wellbeing Alliance, a First Nations-owned and -operated training provider dedicated to fighting for mental health, are right on the forefront of advocating for “acceptance” of the devastating, hidden conditions plaguing many in the region.

The two spoke to students from Murgon, Proston and Goomeri schools at last month’s careers expo at the Murgon Cherbourg Youth Hub, extending helping hands to those wishing to speak out and start the journey of recovery. “Mental health issues are bad – they’re definitely on the increase,” Mr Bird said. “People are getting younger with depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, self-harm – and it’s not just for Indigenous people, it’s through all societies and countries!”

The pair are based out of the Murgon area but hold workshops for ‘mental first-aid’ wherever they are needed most -equipping people to have those all important conversations and to be able to respond in a mental health emergency. “Alex is a community member, born and bred here, and my father was born here, but I was born in NSW,” Mr Bird explained. “Through a turn of events I’ve come back to my father’s country to facilitate and engage with community through workshops and mental health first-aid.”

To read The Burnett Today article Locals join in tackling mental health crisis click here.

National Wellbeing Alliance workers Paul Bird and Alex Speedy are passionate about helping others improve their mental wellbeing. Photo: Julian Lehnert. Image source: Burnett Today.

Number of WA ACCOs to increase

The WA Government has announced a new strategy to strengthen the delivery of services to Aboriginal children, families and communities by increasing opportunities for Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations (ACCO) to deliver culturally appropriate services. The ACCO strategy is directly aligned to Priority Reform Area Two of the 2020 National Agreement on Closing the Gap, “Building the community-controlled sector.”

The ten-year strategy was developed by representatives from 11 ACCOs across the State, Department of Communities and the Department of Finance. It aligns to several Priority Reform Areas and Socio-Economic targets identified within the National Agreement on Closing the Gap and aims to empower Aboriginal children, families and communities to choose their own futures from the foundations provided by ACCOs.

“Aboriginal people across WA have repeatedly told us that to truly change outcomes, Aboriginal communities must lead the way, and that is achieved through community-based and family-led solutions,” Community Services Minister Simone McGurk said. “ACCOs usually achieve better results, employ a majority of Aboriginal workforce and are the preferred providers by Aboriginal people over mainstream services,” she continued.

To view The Sector’s article WA Gov will boost the number of ACCOs to improve services for First Nations families in full click here.

Image source: The Sector.

Physiotherapist making a difference

As an elite hockey player, Candice Liddy knew her strength was positioning: putting herself in the right place to maximise the team’s opportunity of moving forward and getting a goal. “There were other players who could run all day, but I just knew I had to be in the right spot,” she says.

Candice lives in Darwin, where she was born and raised on Larrakia land. Her grandparents on her dad’s side were part of the Stolen Generations, taken from other parts of the NT as children to live at Garden Point Mission on Melville Island. Her father grew up in Darwin and nearby Howard Springs but was evacuated after cyclone Tracy in 1974 to Brisbane, where he met Candice’s mother, who was born in India, and moved to Australia with her family.

Sporting talent runs in the family and also led Candice to a career in physiotherapy. Playing for many years at State level for the NT, she noticed the team physiotherapists were good at working in the athletes’ best interests while keeping them game-ready, and they also got to travel with the teams. “I wanted those skills and that lifestyle, and I was going to work as hard as I could to get there.”

A later non-clinical role brought her experience in remote communities as a National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) planner, where she quickly realised that all the planning in the world would be useless if services weren’t available where they were needed. “And that’s when I thought, You know what, there’s a gap. A gap I’m trained to fill.”

To view the Indigenous Allied Health Australia (IAHA) article 2022 World Physiotherapy Day in full click here.

Candice Lidday. Image source: IAHA website.

Prostate cancer, know the symptoms

The Cancer Council of WA (CCWA) is urging men to visit their doctor and learn the common symptoms of prostate cancer this month. CCWA Great Southern regional education officer Bruce Beamish said prostate cancer awareness month was the perfect chance for men to learn more about how their bodies might be telling them something is wrong. He said unlike for breast, bowel and cervical cancer which have screening tests to confirm the presence of cancer prior to symptoms presenting, there is no such test for prostate cancer. Therefore, it is “vital” to visit a doctor, Aboriginal health care worker or clinic nurse when unusual symptoms present.

“Common symptoms of prostate cancer include waking a lot at night to pee, a sudden or urgent need to pee, problems starting or stopping peeing, needing to pee more often, a slow or weak flow when peeing, or dribbling at the end of peeing,” he said. “These symptoms can be found in other conditions but if you have had any of these for more than four weeks, or you’ve noticed blood in your pee or semen even just once, tell your doctor, clinic nurse or Aboriginal health worker as soon as possible. “It doesn’t mean you’ve got prostate cancer — often it turns out to be something far less serious and your doctor may be able to help reduce the annoying symptoms.”

To view the Broome Advertiser article Men urged to learn the symptoms during Prostate Cancer Awareness Month in full click here.

Image source: Vitalii Abakumou, Getty Images, iStockphotos.

Emergency relief centre for Gippsland mob

A groundbreaking emergency relief centre to support members of East Gippsland’s Aboriginal communities in times of crisis is getting underway thanks to a $2.4 million investment by the Andrews Labor Government. Minister for Emergency Services Jaclyn Symes joined Member for Eastern Victoria Tom McIntosh and representatives of the Lake Tyers Aboriginal community to announce the funding and hear about their vision for the new centre.

The Lake Tyers Emergency Relief Centre project will bring together Gunaikurnai Land and Waters Aboriginal Corporation (GLaWAC), Lake Tyers Aboriginal Trust and Lake Tyers community to co-design a supportive, safe and secure space for Aboriginal communities within Lake Tyers during and after a bushfire disaster. The centre will also bring community together for activities and meetings outside of emergencies.

The need for the dedicated relief centre was identified following the devastating 2019-20 Eastern Victorian bushfires, during which over 1,000 known registered Aboriginal heritage places were damaged and hundreds of Aboriginal Victorians were affected.

To read The National Tribune article First Relief Centre For Aboriginal Community In Gippsland in full click here.

Terylene Hood says residents need a place where they can be comfortable during an emergency. Photo: Bec Symons, ABC Gippsland.

Sector Jobs

Sector Jobs – you can see sector job listings on the NACCHO website here.

Advertising Jobs – to advertise a job vacancy click here to go to the NACCHO website Current job listings webpage. Scroll down to the bottom of the page to find a Post A Job form. You can complete this form with your job vacancy details – it will then be approved for posting and go live on the NACCHO website.

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Housing to meet minimum standards by 2031

The image in the feature tile is of the remote NT community, Yarralin, west of Katherine. Photo: Hamish Harty. Image source: ABC News article FOI documents show NT government previously forecast it would not meet target to build 650 remote houses in five years, 5 April 2022.

Housing to meet minimum standards by 2031

State and territory governments will be required to ensure all First Nations houses in homeland communities and town camps meet or exceed minimum standards for essential services within the next decade, under new targets agreed by the Joint Council on Closing the Gap. The Minister for Indigenous Australians, Linda Burney, the Assistant Minister, Malarndirri McCarthy, and their state and territory counterparts met Aboriginal peak bodies in Adelaide last Friday to discuss progress on social, health, economic and educational indicators.

Burney said all jurisdictions must come together to address the inequities that too many First Nations people experience across the country. “The importance of closing the gap cannot be underestimated,” she said. Access to essential services and poor housing conditions are a problem for many Indigenous families, particularly those in remote and regional areas. States and territories have agreed in principle that essential services – including to households within town camps or town-based reserve – should meet or exceed “jurisdictional standards.”

To view The Guardian article Closing the Gap: states and territories pledge to lift First Nations housing standards in full click here.

Photo: Dr Simon Quilty. Image source: ANU National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health webpage.

Former NRL player now R U OK? ambassador

In his early 20s Kevin Heath fell into a depression he didn’t see coming. The proud K’Gari Indigenous man and former Rugby League player said it was a single conversation which helped him start tackling his mental health and eventually build the life he once might have dismissed as a fantasy. Rocking his eight-month-old daughter, Mr Heath said it was an experience he wouldn’t wish on anyone. “It was through that experience that those close to me told me I needed to speak to somebody,” Mr Heath said.

The former Rugby League player is now a community ambassador for R U OK?, an Indigenous Health Outreach Worker in south east Sydney, and founder of sport-specific training and mentoring company Dream Time Academy. He said his personal experience with mental health proves the message of the R U OK 2022 campaign – that you don’t need a fancy degree to be qualified to ask a mate “are you OK?”.

The article RUOK Day 2022: Kevin Heath, mental health advocate, Dream Time Academy founder referred to above appeared in the Daily Telegraph here.

Kevin Heath. Image source: Daily Telegraph.

GPs fill mental health system gaps

Dr Tim Senior, a long-standing GP at Tharawal Aboriginal Medical Service, an ACCHO in South West Sydney, and a Senior Lecturer in General Practice and Indigenous Health at Western Sydney School of Medicine has co-authored a article for InSight+ with Louise Stone, a GP with clinical, research, teaching and policy expertise in mental health and Associate Professor in the Social Foundations of Medicine group, ANU Medical School and works in youth health.

In the article they say “GPs are used to filling gaps in the health system. Over our careers, we have lived through times where we are seen as underqualified and then essential to a range of services, including maternity care, dermatology, sexual health and more recently, urgent care, infectious disease and psychiatry. An ability to flex with community need is one of the core capacities of generalists, and enables the health system to rapidly adapt to changing community need.”

“If we are to understand and respond to the breadth and depth of mental health issues in the community, we need to think beyond simplistic views of episodic “disorders”. General practice mental health care ranges from disorder management, to prevention, to individual trauma (domestic violence, sexual abuse, medical trauma), to crisis (natural disasters, major medical illness) to life stressors (eg grief, suicide postvention) to social harms (discrimination, harassment) to existential crises (infertility, death and dying).”

To read the InSight+ article General practice: the liquid in the mental health system in full click here.

Dr Tim Senior. Image source: RACGP newsGP.

More NT nurses transition to Country

Ten Territory nurses will spend the next 12 months building their skills and providing services to remote communities under the Transition to Remote Practice Program. This year is the first time the program recruited a second cohort of participants. They will join the 12 nurses who commenced the program at the beginning of 2022. The program is designed to bolster the Territory’s remote nurse workforce and help nurses develop a broad range of skills to cover emergency care and general primary health care issues with a focus on culturally safe practice and Indigenous health needs.

Over the next 12 months the second intake of nurses will work at health clinics including: seven nurses will be stationed in the Top End region including Jabiru, two in Wadeye, Palumpa, Peppimenarti, Gunbalanya and Wurrumiyanga. Two nurses will be based in the East Arnhem region, including Alyangula, and Angurugu.One nurse will work at the health clinic in Numbulwar in the Big Rivers region.

Nurses receive a Transition to Primary Health Care Certificate following completion of the program, enabling them to apply for remote area nurse positions. To view the Chief Minister of the NT, Natasha Fyles media release Another Cohort of Territory Nurses Transition to Country click here.

Below is a short video of the Mpwelarre Health Service Clinic Manager, talking about her work in Santa Teresa, a remote NT town of 600 people. Mpwelarre Health Service is a community controlled health service led by the Mpwelarre Health Aboriginal Corporation. is one of Central Australian Aboriginal Congress’ five remote health services.

Prisons an opportunity to address complex health needs

Police watch-houses present a unique opportunity for medical interventions in high-risk populations, according to the authors of an article recently published in the Medical Journal of Australia. The authors examine the opportunities to “intercept a vulnerable, complex and otherwise hard-to-reach population, and identify unmet health needs” in Queensland police watch-houses.

The report said 43 of the 505 deaths (9%) in police custody between 1991 and 2016 occurred in a police station, police vehicle, police cell, or watch-house. Almost half of those were deaths due to a medical cause (49%). Lead author Julia Crilly, Professor of Emergency Care at Griffith University, studied the key challenges for people and systems responsible for the health and safety of detainees in short-term custody alongside her colleagues.

“As a group, [police watch-house detainees] are largely disconnected from health services, so beyond their immediate, untreated health problems, comparatively little is known about underlying and unaddressed social determinants,” the paper stated. Issues such as substance dependence, mental illness, and chronic health conditions like hypertension and asthma are all significantly more prevalent than in the general population for vulnerable groups. “This is especially evident for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, who represent 30% of the custodial population despite comprising only 3.3% of the Australian population.”

To view The Mandarin article Police watch-houses offer opportunity to address complex health needs in full click here.

Melbourne Remand Centre. Photo: Joe Castro, AAP. Image source: The Mandarin.

New forum to give young leaders a voice

Aboriginal youth need to stand up to reverse the declining state of social justice in Australia’s North West, according to the organiser of a young leaders group. The first Empowered Young Leaders Kimberley Youth Gathering was held this week on Gooniyandi Country at a remote Kimberley community. More than 50 Aboriginal youth aged 18–35 were encouraged to raise their concerns at the meeting hosted as part of a series of AGM’s held at Kupartiya Community for the Kimberley Land Council.

West Kimberley Empowered Young Leaders Coordinator Toni Wajayi Skeen said the youth forum was a long time coming. “When you’re constantly being talked to and being told about your community issues you feel as thought you don’t have a say in decisions that affect yourself and community, we intended this space to be solution based,” she said. “We are asking for young people to have a seat at the table, to make their own decisions and create their own voice. In terms of the social justice issues here, it has gotten worse. We hear this term that young people are the leaders of tomorrow, but what are we doing today to make sure they are the leaders of tomorrow.”

To view the National Indigenous Times article New forum launched to give young Kimberley Indigenous leaders a voice in full click here.

Attendees of the first Empowered Young Leaders Kimberley Youth Gathering. Image source: National Indigenous Times.

myGov is changing soon

myGov has given people a simple and secure way to access My Health Record for many years. But the way people use government services is changing, so myGov is getting an upgrade to meet these growing needs. If you access My Health Record through myGov, you’ll start noticing some changes soon.

When myGov changes, you won’t need to do anything different. You’ll still find myGov at the same web address, use the same sign in details and all your linked services will stay the same. The upgraded myGov will be modern, offer personalised information about government services and have a new look.

When your My Health Record is linked in your myGov account, the important health information that you and your healthcare provider organisations have added can be viewed securely whenever it’s needed, including in an emergency.

You won’t need to do anything different to access My Health Record through myGov.

Explore the changes and learn more here. You can do everything you currently do in myGov using myGov Beta – it’s just as safe and secure.

The myGov eKit will help you inform people in your community. You can download the myGov community resources here so you can let people know about the changes.

Sector Jobs

Sector Jobs – you can see sector job listings on the NACCHO website here.

Advertising Jobs – to advertise a job vacancy click here to go to the NACCHO website Current job listings webpage. Scroll down to the bottom of the page to find a Post A Job form. You can complete this form with your job vacancy details – it will then be approved for posting and go live on the NACCHO website.

Women’s Health Week 2022

In 2013, realising that there was no event dedicated to women’s health in Australia, Jean Hailes for Women’s Health ran the very first national Women’s Health Week. Thousands of women across Australia subscribed to take part in a week of events and online activities, learning more their health.

Now in its 10th year, Women’s Health Week is a celebration of women in Australia, women from all walks of life. In 2021 (despite a second year impacted by lockdowns and restrictions), more than 128,000 women participated in 2.277 events, over 54,000 women subscribed to the online campaign and we reached over 3.6 million people via social media. Women’s Health Week is recognised as the biggest week for women’s health and wellbeing in Australia and takes place annually in the first week of September.

For more information about Women’s Health Week visit the Jean Hailes for Women’s Health website here.

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Workforce shortages across the sector

The image in the feature tile is from the Trainee Aboriginal Health Practitioner webpage of the Danila Dilba Health Service website.

Workforce shortages across the sector

Workforce shortages across the health sector is impacting access to culturally appropriate services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people nationally. To effectively support growing demand, we need to leverage the current ACCHO workforce and draw from local communities to build a multi-disciplinary care workforce that includes both cultural and clinical experts.

The Government’s commitment to the roll out of a NACCHO-led national traineeship program has been welcomed by the ACCHO sector as an ideal way to grow a suitably qualified and job ready Aboriginal Health Worker (AHW) and Health Practitioner (AHP) workforce. Our Aboriginal Health Workers and Health Practitioners are the heart of our ACCHO workforce. They are skilled, valued and trusted members of ACCHO teams and local communities.

NACCHO is working closely with our eleven community-controlled RTOs which will play a key role in delivering these traineeships. Their focus on the provision of culturally competent, holistic care, and accessibility for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students is a critical difference in the training they offer.

You can read more about the NACCHO-led traineeship program in this media release from the Minster for Indigenous Australians, the Hon Linda Burney MP, here.

Image source: AHCSA About RTO / Education webpage.

Eliminating workplace racism a must

Eliminating racism in the workplace and securing ongoing employment for Indigenous Australians must be a priority for all organisations, the Jobs and Skills Summit has been told. A first step is recognising racism as a genuine work health and safety issue, University of Queensland Business School Indigenous engagement director Sharlene Leroy-Dyer said yesterday at the summit.

Dr Leroy-Dyer said Indigenous workers who experience racism and a lack of action to combat it will often leave the workplace. She told the summit this perpetuates a welfare mentality rather than empowering Indigenous people to take up employment opportunities. “We would like to see a racism-busting agenda spearheaded by the union movement that ensures responsibility for tackling racism is shared by all: employers, government, business and sector bodies, and the public,” Dr Leroy-Dyer said.

Indigenous women and girls in particular are calling for the right to have a say on workplace reform, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander social justice commissioner June Oscar said. “Their right to be at the table to inform these processes going forward, that are so needed, that will impact and create opportunities,” she told the summit.

To view The Standard article Racism in workplaces spotlighted at summit click here.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner June Oscar shines light on racism. Photo: Aaron Bunch , AAP Photos. Image source: The Standard.

Mentoring program aims to increase retention

Charles Sturt University has led a pre-pilot program with a local health district to increase retention and satisfaction of First Nations midwives and nurses through a cultural mentoring program. Charles Sturt University in conjunction with five local health districts and four universities has received a grant of more than $360,000 to extend a pilot program that aims to increase the retention and satisfaction of First Nations nurses and midwives through culturally safe practices.

The project: ‘DANMM that’s good!”: Evaluating the feasibility and acceptability of the Deadly Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Nursing and Midwifery Mentoring (DANMM) Program across rural, regional, and metropolitan NSW’ received the funding from NSW Health to be piloted across five local health districts in NSW.

One of the chief academic investigators of the pre-pilot program who was heavily involved in the grant submission process, Senior Lecturer in the Charles Sturt School of Nursing, Paramedicine and Health Care Sciences, Dr Jessica Biles said the pre-pilot program achieved positive outcomes which led to the extra funding.

To view the Charles Sturt University article $360,000 grant for First Nations Nursing and Midwifery Mentoring program in full click here.

Dr Jessica Biles, Senior Lecturer in the Charles Sturt School of Nursing, Paramedicine and Health Care Sciences. Image source: Charles Sturt University website.

How to fix Australia’s broken health system

An article published in The Guardian yesterday six experts from different fields commented on ways to fix our healthcare system so that more people can access timely and affordable care. Profressor Mary Chiarella from the University of Sydney’s Susan Wakil School of Nursing and Midwifery said we need to rethink the role of nurses. True equity of access in community and primary healthcare, she said, will only be achieved by the full deployment of nurses.

Adjunct Associate Prof Lesley Russell from the Menzies Centre for Health Policy and Economics said more emphasis needs to be put on preventive care. If the system is to be truly patient-centred, then the focus must be on patients’ needs – and specifically on affordable and timely access to preventive services, treatment and care.  Dr Sebastian Cordoba from the International Federation of Social Workers and course coordinator at RMIT University said we need to understand that poverty is a health issue. He said PHC in Australia is an impenetrable, unnecessarily complex and expensive system that fails to provide care and support for some of the most marginalised groups in society. The system entrenches inequality and provides interventions that fail to get to the cause.

Prof Jen Smith-Merry, director of the University of Sydney’s Centre for Disability Research and Policy said we need to address disability competency. The health of people with disability is on average much worse than people without and they are more likely to have complex needs that necessitate a range of health and disability supports.

Dr Lisa Hodge, a counsellor, lecturer and social scientist at Charles Darwin University said we need to take mental health seriously. Mental health problems, including eating disorders, often manifest in self-harm and suicide. Finally Prof Catherine Chamberlain, an Indigenous and child health expert said we need to improve access for Indigenous children as currently, there is virtually no access to a range of essential primary healthcare services other than medical care for many Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander children.

To read The Guardian article How to fix Australia’s broken health system: six experts have their say in full click here.

Image source: AMA News.

Chronic kidney disease education program

Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is a common, harmful and silent disease that affects almost one in five Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults. It is twice as common as diabetes, and a significant cause of cardiovascular deaths among Australian adults. CKD often remains undetected until the majority of kidney function is lost. Health workers in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities are well placed to carry out targeted screening for early detection of CKD. The disease can then be managed through individualised action plans that can slow the progression of CKD and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.

NPS MedicineWise is inviting GPs, Aboriginal Health Workers and Health Practitioners who work for ACCHOs to take part in an educational visit on this topic. Sessions can be provided through an in-practice visit, or online through most video conferencing platforms (Teams, Zoom, FaceTime).

This program has been funded by the Australian Government Department of Health and Aged Care, with content developed in collaboration with the NACCHO and Kidney Health Australia.

Delivery starts on Monday 26 September 2022 and will be available until the end of December 2022. To register your interest click here.

NSW’s new 2-year CTG plan

Peak First Nations agencies are hopeful Aboriginal Communities across NSW will realise their ambitions for greater socio-economic outcomes as a new agreement boosting self determination efforts took its next steps this week. The state’s Closing the Gap initiation plan outlined five priorities over the next 24 months. Among them, commitments to strengthen group partnerships increasing community informed dialogue, redirection from state bodies into Aboriginal community controlled organisations and measures addressing experiences of racism in Government. The shift is said to see community-controlled organisations have equal say in the direction of funding.

The announced $30 million injection, under the Community and Place Grants, came from NSW Coalition of Aboriginal Peak Organisations co-chair Charles Lynch and Aboriginal Affairs Minister Ben Franklin. Some 28 of the 144 initiatives set to benefit were co-developed with CAPO. “The initiatives included in this plan have been driven by principles of self-determination, based on what communities have told us in consultations, and developed through shared decision-making with our government partners,” Mr Lynch said.

Going forward, ACCO’s will gain equal access to data and analytics to support decision making and business going forward. “We know that our communities are hurting, that there needs to be more support, more accountability and more transparency,” Aboriginal Health and Medical Research Council co-chair Robert Skeen said.

ACCO’s are required to submit applications for funding by Friday 20 September and report back on program delivery by the end of 2023.

To read the National Indigenous Times article Priorities revealed in NSW’s new two-year plan to Close the Gap click here.

Image source: South West Aboriginal Medical Service website.

NACCHO Youth Conference

Are you under 29 years and working in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health sector?

If so, register NOW for our FREE NACCHO Youth Conference 2022:

Where: Beautiful Ngunnawal and Ngambri country (Canberra)

Date: Monday 17 October 2022

Time: 9:00AM to 5:00PM

Engage in discussions, share your experiences, and meet up with many deadly peers from across the country.

Places are filling quick! Register here.

Sector Jobs

Sector Jobs – you can see sector job listings on the NACCHO website here.

Advertising Jobs – to advertise a job vacancy click here to go to the NACCHO website Current job listings webpage. Scroll down to the bottom of the page to find a Post A Job form. You can complete this form with your job vacancy details – it will then be approved for posting and go live on the NACCHO website.

International Childhood Cancer Awareness Month

September is International Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, a time when cancer organisations around the world put the spotlight on children’s cancer and the need to improve diagnosis, treatment and outcomes.

70% of Australians are unaware that more kids die from cancer than any other disease in this country. Sadly around 750 to 800 children under the age of 15 are diagnosed with cancer every year and almost half of those diagnosed are aged 0-4 years. Leukaemias, tumours of the nervous system (mainly brain tumours) and lymphomas are collectively responsible for two out of every three cases of childhood cancer. Australia is estimated to have the sixth highest incidence rate of childhood cancers among the G20 countries.

The good news is that survival rates for children with cancer in Australia continue to approve. Most of the gains have occurred as a direct result of improvements in treatment through international collaborative clinical trials.

Fore more information about Childhood Cancer Awareness Month 2022 visit the World Health Organisation Internationl Agency for Research on Cancer webpage here.

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Pat Turner attends Jobs and Skills Summit

The image in the feature tile is of NACCHO CEO and Lead Convener Coalition of Peaks, Pat Turner AM. Image source: The Conversation, 10 June 2020.

Pat Turner attends Jobs and Skills Summit

NACCHO CEO and Lead Convener Coalition of Peaks, Pat Turner AM is one of 143 representatives attending the Australian Government’s Jobs and Skills Summit 2022 today in Canberra. The two-day event, being led by PM Anthony Albanese and Treasurer Dr Jim Chalmers, will bring together business, unions, industry and state and territory political leaders for an intensive discussion about the economic challenges within Australia’s labour market.

Earlier last month Pat Turner gave the keynote address at the Congress of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Nurses and Midwives (CATSINaM) National Conference where she commented on workforce issues with the sector “Demand is outstripping supply of suitably skilled and job ready Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander employees. We are experiencing workforce shortages across the sector and this shortage is already impacting access to culturally appropriate services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people nationally.”

“Moreover, without an overall increase in the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people participating in the workforce, services will be competing for workers who are a limited resource across all health and care sectors. Increasing the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander nurses, midwives and other clinical staff is critical to help ensure culturally safe care for our people. To effectively support growing demand, we need to leverage the current ACCHO workforce and draw from local communities to build a multi-disciplinary care workforce that includes both cultural and clinical experts.”

You can read The Sydney Morning Herald article The snap guide to the jobs and skills summit here.

Jobs and Skills Summit 2022. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen. Image source: Financial Review.

Hearing loss mistaken for misbehaviour

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children experience ear disease – fluid build ups, perforated eardrums and ear infections that can impair hearing – more frequently than most populations in the world. Rates are 8.5 times as highas for non-Indigenous children in Australia. Early childhood development related to speech, language and learning, relies heavily on being able to hear. The consequences of poor hearing can greatly disadvantage a child in the classroom, in the criminal justice system and cause delays in other medical diagnoses.

Caregivers of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children have described how ear disease and hearing loss can easily be mistaken for misbehaviour.  Letitia Campbell, Aboriginal Research Officer, School of Medicine, Western Sydney University has found that a strong relationship of respect, collaboration and information-sharing between the caregiver and health professionals is a key component to successfully navigating ear disease.

To view The Conversation article More Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children have ear and hearing problems – and it’s easy to mistake for bad behaviour in full click here.

Audiologist Arveen Kaur tests the hearing of Jackson Wellington in Nowra. Photo: Rhett Wyman. Image source: The Sydney Morning Herald.

Politics can’t be separated from health

A new discussion paper, Indigenous Nation Building and the Political Determinants of Health and Wellbeing, available here, has been published this week by the Lowitja Institute in partnership with Jumbunna Institute for Indigenous Education and Research at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS). Led by Professor Daryle Rigney, a citizen of the Ngarrindjeri Nation, the paper demonstrates that self-governance and self-determination through nation building results in improved health outcomes for Indigenous peoples.

According to Adjunct Professor Janine Mohamed, CEO of the Lowitja Institute, and Senior Policy Officer Jessica Szwarcbord “Those working in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health sector have always known that politics cannot be separated from health. Our peoples have a holistic, collectivist worldview. We understand that individual and collective health and social and emotional wellbeing relates to cultural, social, and political determinants and that health and wellbeing sit within a complex constellation of factors that cannot be separated. There are inextricable links between our collective and individual health and wellbeing, our governance, self-determination and nation building as First Nations Peoples.”

To view the Croakey Health Media article Harnessing the power of nation building to strengthen Indigenous health and wellbeing in full click here.

Artwork by Tom Day, citizen of the Gunditjmara people, features on the cover of the new discussion paper, Indigenous National Building and the Political Determinants of Health and Wellbeing. Published with permission of Lowitja Institute in Croakey Health Media.

First new kidney treatment in 20 years

Lachlan Ross describes his more than a decade-long battle with kidney failure as “very long, and very hard.” The 54-year-old from the NT remote community of Lajamanu has been lucky enough to receive a kidney transplant, meaning he no longer has to receive thrice-weekly dialysis treatments. But, he said chronic kidney disease — which Indigenous residents of remote Central Australia are up to 30 times more likely to suffer from — has no quick fix. “You get [a] transplant doesn’t make you any better you know because you’ve still got the hard work of looking after yourself and the transplant and that’s what a lot of people don’t understand, they think a kidney is a cure, it’s not.”

Mr Ross now works as a mentor for others living with kidney disease at Darwin dialysis centre The Purple House, where Assistant Minister for Indigenous Health Malarndirri McCarthy announced yesterday that people with the disease would now have more affordable access to a drug which slows its progression. The drug dapagliflozin, also known as Forxiga, is already used to treat diabetes and heart failure, but will now also be available to people with kidney disease under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme. It would have previously cost renal patients more than $700 a year, with the expansion of the scheme meaning it will now cost $42.50 per script, or $6.80 for people with a concession card.

To view the ABC News article Kidney disease drug dapagliflozin added to Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme in full click here.

Lachlan Ross says remote Indigenous Territorians need to be educated about kidney disease. Photo: Dane Hirst, ABC News.

VACCHO supports Food Fight! Campaign

An Australia Institute poll released this week has found high levels of public support for bans on television advertising of unhealthy products and services, including junk foods, alcohol and gambling.  When Asherly Bradac asks her four young children how they would like to spend their pocket money, they respond with a resounding “slurpee”. When she asks where they want to go on a special outing, they say “McDonalds” or “Hungry Jacks”. These are likely familiar scenarios for many families inundated by advertising of unhealthy food and drinks.

Bradac is a keen supporter of the Food Fight! campaign, led by Cancer Council Victoria, to raise awareness of unhealthy food and drink advertising in places where children spend time.  The campaign is building community support for action to stop harmful advertising on government-owned assets such as public transport and within 500 metres of schools. According to Jane Martin, Executive Manager Obesity Program Cancer Council Victoria the campaign has garnered the support of more than 30 community, public health and other groups and over 10,000 individuals who have signed an online statement.

The Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (VACCHO) is one supports the Food Fight! Campaign, and through a bold project called FoodPATH (Food Policies for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health), has been working to empower Aboriginal communities across Victoria to determine the actions needed to promote good nutrition and healthier food environments in their local communities.

To view the Croakey Health Media article How this campaign is fighting to end unhealthy advertising to children in full click here.

New lease on life after Hep C cure

Debbie Robinson is enjoying a new lease on life after being cured of hepatitis C. Now the proud Worimi woman is urging other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to get tested even if they have no symptoms. Ms Robinson completed the 8-12 week treatment program at Gandangara Health Service in Liverpool. “I had a blood test, the doctor told me I had hepatitis C and I felt numb.

“Then the doctor told me I had 10 years to live. I went to Gandangara and they helped me to access treatment right away,’’ Ms Robinson said. “If it wasn’t for Gandangara, I wouldn’t be here. I wouldn’t have done anything about it because I felt healthy. “I felt supported every step of the way at Gandangara. “I’m cured and have a long life ahead of me. I’m proud of myself and my family is proud of me too.’’

To view the South West Voice article Health district bid to eliminate hepatitis C in full click here.

Debbie Robinson. Image source: South West Voice.

WA emerging as hub for eye health

WA is rapidly becoming known as‎ a global centre for research excellence in ocular‎ disease, thanks to a ‘trifecta’ collaboration ‎between Lions Eye Institute (LEI), Curtin University,‎ and University of WA (UWA). To encourage more young optometrists to provide primary care in rural WA, where unmet eye care is particularly prevalent, a team led by Professor Garry Fitzpatrick, has developed a placement program that will see third year students spend significant time working in clinics and on research programs from ‘hub and spoke’ health care models in Broome and Geraldton. Students will gain experience working alongside optometrists and ophthalmologists on outreach programs, with local Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations (ACCHOs) and in other community allied health settings.

Professor Fitzpatrick hopes the placement program will provide students with a “very real experience” that increases their awareness of rural and remote eye care needs. He explained that evidence shows students who are exposed and trained in rural settings are more likely to return to practise in these settings.

To read the mivision article Western Australia: An Emerging Hub for Eye Health in full click here.

Image source: SBS NITV website.

TGA committee applications CLOSE Sunday

Applications for the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA)’s statutory advisory committee vacancies will CLOSE at 11:30 PM this Sunday 4 September 2022.

They are seeking applications from professionals with expertise in relevant medical or scientific fields or consumer health issues to support our function as a best practice regulator. Committee members contribute significantly towards the TGA’s regulatory functions by providing independent expert advice relating to the regulation of medicines, devices, vaccines and other products and substances.  The statutory advisory committees are:

  • Advisory Committee on Biologicals
  • Advisory Committee on Medicines
  • Advisory Committee on Vaccines
  • Advisory Committee on Complementary Medicines
  • Advisory Committee on Medical Devices
  • Advisory Committee on Chemicals Scheduling
  • Advisory Committee on Medicines Scheduling

Committee members do not have full-time duties – some committees meet monthly, with others meeting up to three times a year.  Members are remunerated in accordance with the principles and rates set by the Remuneration Tribunal (Remuneration and Allowances for Holders of Part-time Public Office) Determination.

You can find further information regarding the statutory advisory committees on the Australian Government Department of Health and Aged Care website here along with the requirements for applying here and a flyer here. Further enquiries can be made by email here.

Sector Jobs

Sector Jobs – you can see sector job listings on the NACCHO website here.

Advertising Jobs – to advertise a job vacancy click here to go to the NACCHO website Current job listings webpage. Scroll down to the bottom of the page to find a Post A Job form. You can complete this form with your job vacancy details – it will then be approved for posting and go live on the NACCHO website.

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Hope for reducing rheumatic fever cases

The image in the feature tile is of Paediatric Cardiologist Dr Bo Remenyi with RHD patient Trenton. Image source: The Katherine Times, 1 July 2019.

Hope for reducing rheumatic fever cases

Findings from a new study in the NT provide hope for reducing rheumatic fever cases and the bacterial infections that trigger the condition. The study – part of a 4-year collaboration with Menzies School of Health Research, Telethon Kids Institute, Sunrise Health Service and NT Health – focused on reducing household health risks through community-based activities led by Aboriginal Community Workers, in a bid to curb infection rates. Housing and environmental health support – such as fixing showerheads, broken pipes and other health hardware – as well as information-sharing about rheumatic fever and assisting families to navigate healthcare, made up the focus of the activities.

People gained the knowledge needed to seek medical treatment, which initially increased the number of reported infections. Because those infections were then able to be properly treated, rates of infection decreased to below baseline levels, especially in children. Study co-author and Chairperson of the Board for Sunrise Healthcare, Anne-Marie Lee, said the findings suggested the community-led activities translated into a reduction of the types of infection that drive rheumatic fever. The number of new cases of rheumatic fever also decreased during the study.

To view the Menzies School of Health Research media release Community-led approach delivers promising results to reduce rheumatic fever in full click here.

Children from Maningrida, Arnhem Land, NT. Photo: Lucy Marks, ABC News.

National Medicines Policy Review – have your say

An online consultation survey in relation to Australia’s National Medicines Policy is now available here. It focuses on the revised draft that was started on 17 August 2022 and is open for six weeks until 11:59 PM Tuesday 27 September 2022 via the Department of Health and Aged Care’s Health Consultation Hub available here.

In addition to the online survey, there will be:

  • targeted consultation sessions hosted via WebEx with a range of key stakeholder groups, including: consumers; Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander representatives; the medicines industry; the pharmacy sector; prescribers; and state and territories
  • an open stakeholder forum in September 2022

Information including the precise timing of the consultation sessions and how people may register interest to attend is available on the Health Consultation Hub. If you or your associates have questions regarding the NMP Review or the consultation process, please contact the NMP Secretariat via email here.

Background

On 29 July 2022, the Minister for Health and Aged Care, the Hon. Mark Butler MP announced that the National Medicines Policy (NMP) Review was set to restart.  Professor Michael Kidd AM FAHMS, Deputy Chief Medical Officer and Principal Medical Advisor, Australian Government Department of Health and Aged Care, was reappointed as the sole reviewer to complete the NMP Review and provide a final report to Government later this year.

All interested stakeholders will have the opportunity to engage and provide feedback on the revised draft of the 2022 NMP which will be accompanied by a Summary Consultation Report and Recommendations with the outcomes of the previous round of consultations and the former NMP Review Committee’s recommendations (reflected in the latest draft NMP 2022). The diverse perspectives, experience and knowledge of all stakeholders is highly valued and will contribute to the report to Government and finalisation of the 2022 NMP.

Image source: AMA website.

First Nations-led employment policy needed

On the eve of the federal government’s Jobs and Skills Summit from 1–2 September 2022, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander workers, union representatives, peak bodies and researchers gathered in Canberra for a First Nations Workplace Symposium earlier this week to ask some critical questions. Now we have a new government and a new policy environment, what do First Nations people want around work and work policy? And how do we ensure Indigenous-led policy is a feature of the mainstream employment landscape?

The symposium was hosted by the First Nations Employment Alliance (which includes the Jumbunna Institute for Indigenous Education and Research, the ACTU, Reconciliation Australia, Kara Keys Consulting and PWC’s Indigenous Consulting) and aimed to listen to mob and establish a work plan and strategy to explore the future of First Nations employment that is First Nations-led and implemented.

Nareen Young, Industry Professor, Jumbunna Institute of Education and Research, University of Technology Sydney, who attended the symposium said, “First Nations workers are everywhere, but labour market experiences can be very different to those of non-First Nations workers. Existing policy doesn’t always address those needs or relate to the experiences of First Nations workers. Australia needs Indigenous-led policy design to meet the needs of First Nations workers.”

To view The Conversation article First Nations workers are everywhere. The jobs summit must tackle Indigenous-led employment policy too in full click here.

Image source: The Heart Foundation website.

Culturally safe ASD education resources

When Tanika Davis’s son was diagnosed with autism at just two years old, the Worimi mother was confronted with the stigma surrounding the developmental disorder, but also surprised at the lack of consideration for Slade’s Indigenous culture. “It came as a bit of a shock,” Ms Davis said. Her young family attended countless health appointments and consultations but found health professionals lacked the knowledge needed to appropriately treat and assist Indigenous families. “We thought that everything could be quite readily available to us as a family … but unfortunately it wasn’t,” she said.

Ms Davis said she had to inform professionals, including speech pathologists and occupational therapists, about culturally appropriate resources such as Indigenous books and activities. “Too often, as an Aboriginal family, we were required to kind of educate allied health services and professionals around cultural safety and our son’s world,” she said. Ms Davis decided to launch The I Am, Movement. The organisation provides culturally sensitive educational resources including flashcards featuring Indigenous artwork.

To view the ABC News story The I Am, Movement designs ‘culturally safe’ education resources for Indigenous children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder in full click here.

Ms Davis’s background in Aboriginal health promotion helped her develop The I Am, Movement. Photo: Mark Graham, ABC Heywire.

Supporting PHC in remote NT communities

A new project supporting comprehensive primary health care (PHC) in remote communities in the NT has just been announced as part of the Digital Health Cooperative Research Centre program of works. The project – a partnership between the University of Sydney, the Menzies School of Health Research (Alice Springs), NT Health, the Australian Government Department of Health and Aged Care, Health Direct Australia, and NT Primary Health Network (PHN) – focuses on working closely with First Nations communities in the Northern Territory, as well as Indigenous providers and consumers to develop community-centred care models.

“While telehealth has been widely used in remote communities, there is a significant gap in our understanding of how Indigenous Australians want to use technology to support their health and wellness,” said Professor Time Shaw, project lead, and Charles Perkins Centre member. This is a great team and continues the Charles Perkins Centre’s collaborative approach to all its work, particularly when working with First Nations communities. Embedding Indigenous researchers in the team will help to ensure that this community-led model has impact.

To view The University of Sydney article Supporting primary health care in remote NT communities in full click here.

Wadeye, NT. Photo: James Dunlevie, ABC News.

Ngar-wu Wanyarra conference registrations open

The annual Ngar-wu Wanyarra Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Conference will be delivered by The University of Melbourne, Department of Rural Health and is in its 7th year running.

The aim of the conference is to facilitate the exchange of information on key issues in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ health and wellbeing through the delivery of high impact keynote addresses by national leaders from within the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community. The conference also provides a forum for the presentation of cutting-edge program initiatives and research findings in Aboriginal health and wellbeing by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health practitioners and their colleagues.

Conference date: Wednesday 12 October 2022

Location: The Department of Rural Health, Shepparton campus on Yorta Yorta Country or online.

You can register and purchase tickets for the conference here.

AMS Redfern 50th Anniversary Gala Dinner

The Aboriginal Medical Service Co-operative Ltd Redfern is inviting you to join them at a Gala Dinner to celebrate more than 50 years of Aboriginal Leadership and outstanding contributions made by Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services.

You will enjoy an evening to remember as AMS Redfern celebrates their unique history. The evening will feature a formal dinner and spectacular entertainment showcasing traditional and contemporary performers.

The Gala Dinner will be held at the International Convention Centre Sydney, Darling Harbor on Saturday 26 November 2022 with doors open from 6:00PM.

Tickets can be purchased here.

Sector Jobs

Sector Jobs – you can see sector job listings on the NACCHO website here.

Advertising Jobs – to advertise a job vacancy click here to go to the NACCHO website Current job listings webpage. Scroll down to the bottom of the page to find a Post A Job form. You can complete this form with your job vacancy details – it will then be approved for posting and go live on the NACCHO website.