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

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

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

COVID-19 outbreak in Cherbourg defies odds

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

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

To read the ABC News article in full click here

Cherbourg Mayor Elvie Sandow at meeting

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

Concerns overcrowding escalating outbreaks

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

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

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

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

To read the ABC News article in full click here.

Yarrabah Mayor Ross Andrews sitting at his desk

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

Helping mob to stop vaping webinar

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

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

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

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

This event attracts 2 CPD points.

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

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

hand of person with vape & smoke

Image source: The Guardian.

NPS MedicineWise seeks consumer rep

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

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

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

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

text NPS MEDICINEWISE' on purple background - logo

Indigenous art to promote oral health

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

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

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

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

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

Artwork by Ty Waigaini. Image source: ADA website.

HOT NORTH Antimicrobial Academy course 

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

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

The training will include skills in how to:

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

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

Art competition closing date extended

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

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

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

New process for job advertising

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

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

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

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

Torres and Cape COVID-19 response

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

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

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

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

To view the SBS NITV article in full click here.

view of Torres Strait Island from a plane

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

Fitzroy Valley needs dedicated rehab centre

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

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

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

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

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

Fitzroy Crossing wooden bridge, river

Fitzroy Crossing. Image source: National Indigenous Times.

IMeRSe public consultation underway

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

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

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

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

multiple tablet & capsule blister packs, multiple colours

Image source: Healthline.

TGA vaping ban and Aboriginal health

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

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

To view the Quadrant article in full click here.

row of vapes

Image source: GPNews.

Victorian Aboriginal suicide rate jumps

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

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

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

To view the ABC News article in full click here.

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

Image source: SBS NITV website.

Remote PHC Manuals January 2022 update

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

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

To view the RPHCM January 2022 update click here.

Safe, reliable water supply needed for NT

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

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

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

To view the NLC media release in full click here.

Aboriginal hand held under running tap in NT outback

Photo: Isabella Higgins. Image source: ABC News.

New process for job advertising

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

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

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

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

Concerns over growing COVID-19 cases

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

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

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

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

Dr Jason Agostino ABC radio interview tile

Dr Jason Agostino, Medical Advisor, NACCHO.

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

You can watch the news item in full here.

Indigenous COVID-19 response failure

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

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

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

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

To view the NITV article in full click here.

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

Image source: NITV.

Breaching the Indigenous vax gap

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

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

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

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

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

To view the GPNews article in full here.

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

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

RACGP welcomes telehealth restoration

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

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

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

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

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

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

health professional at desk giving telehealth consult

Image source: The Medical Journal of Australia.

Funding to improve cancer screening

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

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

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

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

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

To view the media release in full click here.

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

Image source: Boarding1Now.

AIDA launches 25th anniversary celebrations

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

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

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

RVTS late application round

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

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

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

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

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

Check details on the RVTS website here.

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

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

New process for job advertising

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

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

Unique pharmacy graduate program

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You can read the Department of Health media release here.

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

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

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

Closing the Gap Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme scripts deadline 31 January 2022

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

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

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

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

You can view the NACCHO media statement here.

PBS Co-Payment Gap

Laynha joins the NACCHO family

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

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

Laynha supports homeland communities through:

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

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

Laynhapuy Homelands Aboriginal Corporation - logo

Program needed to invest in culturally safe public health workforce

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

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

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

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

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

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

You can listen to the interview here.

Image sources: Public Health Association Australia.

Attention turns to supporting mob through QLD outbreak

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

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

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

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

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

You can read the article in the ABC News here.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You can read the AMA Media release here.

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

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

WA on high alert as COVID-19 spreads towards border

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

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

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

You can read the article in the ABC News here.

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

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

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

You can read the article in the Mudgee Guardian here.

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

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

Significant progress to Close the Gap for Vision

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

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

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

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

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

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

Reanna Bathern having an eye test

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

Regional statistics about First Nations’ health and wellbeing

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

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

You can view the RIFIC website here.

Woman gently touching child's face

Image source: AIHW RIFIC website.

Winnunga News December 2021

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

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

You can view the newsletter here.

 

New process for job advertising

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Permanent telehealth to strengthen health system

Feature tile - Tue 14.12.21 - Permanent telehealth

PLEASE NOTE: the last date for this publication this year is Wednesday 15 December 2021 – the publication will start again in the new year from 18 January 2022.

Photograph in feature tile from MiVision – Delivering telehealth in Western Australia.

Permanent telehealth to strengthen health system

In a media release published yesterday 13 December 2021 by the Australian Government, telehealth will become a permanent feature of primary health care, which has been transformational to health care delivery and underpinned much of the Government’s successful COVID-19 response.

The Morrison Government is providing $106 million over four years to support permanent telehealth services, ensuring greater flexibility to patients and doctors for the delivery of health care; allowing GPs, specialists, and allied health professionals to continue to consult with their regular patients by phone or online.

The AMA says the health of all Australians will benefit from the availability of telehealth.

AMA President Dr Omar Khorshid said telehealth also improved access to healthcare for people who found it difficult to take time off work; could not leave children or people they were caring for and who live out of town and away from their GP or non-GP specialist.

You can  read the AMA media release here and the Department of Health’s media release here.

Jigalong patient and carer being supported by Stephen Copeland, optometrists. Image credit: mivision.com.au

Jigalong patient and carer being supported by Stephen Copeland, optometrists via telehealth. Image credit: mivision.com.au

Urgency to contain Katherine and Big Rivers outbreak

In a media release published by The Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance Northern Territory (AMSANT) yesterday 13 December 2021, AMSANT expressed alarm and deep concern at the rapidly increasing numbers of cases stemming from the Katherine COVID-19 outbreak and its spread into communities in the surrounding regions.

“AMSANT is today calling on the NT Government to take immediate steps to strengthen their response to this continuing crisis”, AMSANT Chief Executive officer, John Paterson, said.

“We acknowledge the very good job that the NT Government has done in responding to the outbreaks in Robinson River, Binjari and Rockhole, however, subsequent measures to contain the Katherine outbreak have been unsuccessful.”

“News of a likely positive case in Timber Creek and multiple positive wastewater results appearing in numerous remote communities underscores the growing and urgent need for a stronger response,” Paterson said.

You can read the AMSANT media release here.

Possible positive COVID-19 case in Timber Creek

A possible positive COVID-19 case was recorded in Timber Creek yesterday and is being re-tested to confirm the result. Image source: CareFlight, ABC News.

Importance of timely COVID-19 booster vaccination

The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) states that the COVID-19 vaccines used in Australia are critical in protecting against COVID-19 due to all variants, including the newly emerged Omicron variant. Given the likelihood of ongoing transmission of both Omicron and Delta variants, ATAGI recommends COVID-19 booster vaccination for anyone aged 18 and older who completed their primary course of COVID-19 vaccination 5 or more months ago.

Timely receipt of a booster dose is particularly important for people with increased exposure risk (e.g. occupational risk or outbreak areas) or who have risk factors for severe disease. ATAGI reiterates that a third (primary) dose of COVID-19 vaccine is also recommended for anyone with immunocompromising conditions, a minimum of two months after their second dose.

Either Comirnaty (Pfizer) or Spikevax (Moderna) are recommended for use as a booster vaccine, and are considered equally acceptable. The Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, has been provisionally approved for use as a COVID-19 booster vaccine in people aged 18 years and older by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) as of 12 December 2021.

You can read the ATAGI statement on the Omicron variant and timing of COVID-19 booster vaccination here, and you can read the ATAGI recommendations on the use of Moderna as a COVID-19 booster vaccine here.

COVID-19 Dose One vial, Dose Two vial & Booster vial - ticks on first two doses

Image source: NIH Director’s Blog.

10-year preventive health strategy plan

Yesterday 13 December 2021, the Australian Government launched the National Preventive Health Strategy, a 10-year plan to improve the health and wellbeing of all Australians at all stages of life. The Strategy seeks to improve Australia’s health system, fundamentally focused on the treatment of illness and disease, by increasing the focus on prevention – from illness to wellness, and from healthcare to health.

Chronic conditions are the leading cause of ill health and death in Australia and account for 87% of deaths. The Strategy recognises that around 38% of the chronic disease burden could be prevented through a reduction in modifiable risk factors such as obesity, physical inactivity and the use of alcohol, tobacco and other drugs. This figure rises to be 49% for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

The Strategy identifies 7 key system enablers that will be integral to creating long-term, sustainable changes to the health system for all Australians, outlining seven focus areas that require critical action to reduce the risks of poor health and disease:

  • nutrition
  • physical activity
  • tobacco
  • immunisation
  • cancer screening
  • alcohol and other drug use;
  • and mental health.

You can read the Government Department of Health‘s media release here.
The National Preventive Health Strategy can be downloaded here.

National Preventive Health Strategy 2021-2030

Tracking progress in First Nations’ health

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) has published a data visualisation tool for tracking progress against the 20 Implementation Plan goals for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan 2013–2023. It presents data for each of the 20 goals, and assesses progress against the goals at the national level.

Of the 14 goals for which updates were available, 5 were on track, 6 were not on track and 3 were not assessed.

Some of the key findings:

  • In 2019, 64% of Indigenous mothers had antenatal care in the first trimester and 89% attended 5+ antenatal visits.
  • The proportion of Indigenous Australians aged 15–17 who had never smoked increased from 61% in 2002 to 85% in 2018–19.
  • In 2020, 97% of Indigenous children aged 5 were fully immunised, compared with 95% of other children.

You can read more about the AIHW tracking progress here and you can view the report here.
View the Implementation Plan for the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan 2012-2023 here.

Exciting opportunity for Aboriginal health students

Aboriginal health students across the Northern Territory can now apply for the 2022 NT Health Aboriginal Cadetship Program. The Program is a key ‘entry to practice’ initiative for NT Health to achieve greater representation of tertiary educated Aboriginal employees and increase Aboriginal health professionals in our workforce.

NT Health currently supports five cadets and will offer a sixth space in the 2022 intake.

The program assists eligible NT Aboriginal students undertaking their first undergraduate degree or postgraduate studies to gain professional health qualifications in skill shortage areas. Additionally, the program provides work placement and experience within NT Health.

The program is funded by NT Health and will provide successful cadets with:

  • Study allowance of up to $1200 per fortnight whilst engaged in full time studies
  • Book allowance of up to $1000 per year
  • An incentive payment of up to $4000 per year
  • 12 weeks paid on the job work placement during the university major academic breaks.

NT Health has a dedicated Aboriginal Workforce Development unit that administers the program. The unit’s staff will provide ongoing mentoring and support to the cadets for the term of their cadetship.

You can read the media release by NT Minister for Health Natasha Fyles here.
Further cadetship information can be found on the NT Health website.

NT Health Aboriginal Cadetship Program. Image Source: NT Health Facebook page.

NT Health Aboriginal Cadetship Program. Image Source: NT Health Facebook page.

Covid Song – Ali Curung

Check out this great Red Dust video with a straight-up message from the Ali Curung mob made with the help of Barkly Shire Council and Anyingini Health Aboriginal Corporation.

“I don’t want to see you get sick when the COVID comes in quick. We gotta get the jab before it’s too late. No time to hesitate. I got one, two, what about you! What ya gonna do? What ya gonna do when the COVID comes?”

“Yeah, we gotta do it for our families. To protect our communities. Go to the clinic and check the facts. We’re only safe when we all get vaxxed!”

Managing inappropriate comments online

The Department of Health has created a guide that can help your service with managing inappropriate comments and misinformation on your social media channels. There has recently been a significant spike in online activity and emotion. This high level guide provides information about steps your service can take to moderate inappropriate comments and content on your pages.

You can download the social media guide here.

Word cloud - misinformation

 

New process for job advertising

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: COVID-19 vaccine access for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children ‘key’ to controlling spread

PLEASE NOTE: the last date for this publication this year is  Wednesday 15 December 2021 – the publication will start again in the new year from 18 January 2022.

Photograph in feature tile from The North West Hospital and Health Service urging parents to vaccinate kids.

COVID-19 vaccine access for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children ‘key’ to controlling spread

Vaccinating five- to 11-year-olds is key to slowing the spread of COVID-19 into First Nations communities because of their younger population profile, a Australia’s peak Indigenous health body says.

The latest federal government data shows that 62.4 per cent of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people over the age of 16 had been fully vaccinated by the end of November. That’s well behind the general population, which is sitting at 88.9 per cent.

While those figures are concerning, the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) said there needed to be a focus on the vaccination rates of younger First Nations people.

Epidemiological adviser to NACCHO Jason Agostino welcomed news that five- to 11-year-olds would be eligible for the Pfizer vaccine from January.

“From the Doherty modelling they’ve shown that, if we’re going to lower the number of infections among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, getting vaccination into this age group and as high as possible is really key to controlling spread,” he said.
To view the full article in The Age click here.
For further information on vaccinating children from early next year visit the Australian Government Department of Health website.

Community of Binjari is grieving after the NT’s harshest COVID-19 lockdown

The remote community of Binjari on the outskirts of Katherine entered lockdown on the evening of November 20.

The lockdown was the strictest in the Northern Territory and lasted until December 2 in Binjari, before transitioning to a standard lockdown with restrictions easing again this week

In December an Aboriginal woman became the first person to die of COVID in the NT.

For months, Billy Maroney had heard warnings of COVID-19 one day reaching a remote Indigenous community in the NT. But when it happened to his home of Binjari near Katherine, he was in shock.

“It’s one of the worst things I’ve ever actually been through,” said Mr Maroney, one of about 300 residents.

“I think everybody else was in for a bit of a shock [that] it could happen like this to a remote community.”

Read the full article in the ABC here.

Gilgandra Local AMS (GLAMS) Opening FEB 2022

Coonamble Aboriginal Health Service (CAHS) secured funding under the Indigenous Australians Health Programme Primary Health Care,  Service Expansion Funding 2021 – 2023 to establish an Aboriginal Medical Service in Gilgandra (Gilgandra is located in Western NSW  – 60 Mins west of Dubbo).

CAHS are looking at the week of February 21st to Friday 25th 2022, to officially open. This will be a very memorable day for the Aboriginal community of Gilgandra, so when you receive your invite, please consider attending.

Safe and Supported: 10-year National Framework for Protecting our Children 2021-2031

Community Services Ministers have today launched Safe and Supported: National Framework for Protecting Australia’s Children 2021 – 2031, Australia’s next 10-year framework to respond to the needs of children and families experiencing vulnerability.

As shown in The Family Matters Report 2021, launched yesterday, the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in out-of-home care continues to escalate each year. “This National Framework comes at a critical time. Our children are being removed at an alarming rate, with little hope for reunification and keeping connected to their family, their community, their culture, and their story.

“What we need is transformational reform to turn the tide on child removals. And we are optimistic that this framework has the mechanisms to take action in the right areas by investing in Aboriginal-led solutions,” SNAICC CEO and Family Matters Co-Chair, Catherine Liddle said.

To view the full SNAICC media release click here.

4 young Aboriginal children, 1 girl, 3 boys sitting outside on outdoor rug all looking in one direction making hand signals presumably to a song

Image source: Moriarty Foundation website.

AHCSA Tackling Indigenous Smoking Program

The Tackling Indigenous Smoking (TIS) regional tobacco control grants aim to improve the wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people through population health promotion activities to reduce the prevalence of tobacco use.

Cigarette smoking has long been recognised as the largest modifiable risk factor affecting the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. However, the latest research shows that the health effects of smoking amongst Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people were previously underestimated, and that smoking causes half (50%) of deaths in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults aged 45 years or older, and over one-third (37%) of all deaths1.

To view the article in full click here.

AHCSA – project to identify ATSI NDIS barriers

The Aboriginal Health Council of South Australia (AHCSA) is working in collaboration with NACCHO to provide support for all member services to build capability and capacity to deliver the NDIS for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as part of phase two of the Capacity Building Project funded by the Jobs and Market Fund.

The Aboriginal Health Council of South Australia (AHCSA) is working in collaboration with NACCHO to provide support for all member services to build capability and capacity to deliver the NDIS for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as part of phase two of the Capacity Building Project funded by the Jobs and Market Fund.

To read the full article on the AHCSA website click here.

rear view of seat and wheel of a wheelchai

Image source: Pro Bono News website.

Winner of the Bill Armstrong AO Human Rights Award for 2021 is Doyen Radcliffe!

On Human Rights Day, champion of Human Rights, Doyen Radcliffe acknowledged for decades of service to First Nations communities. Doyen, a Yamatji Naaguja Wajarri man from the Midwest Region of Western Australia, has been recognised for his work supporting First Nations’ communities to improve quality of life, health, social and economic wellbeing, and inclusion within Australian society.

Mr Radcliffe has been instrumental in pushing through adversity and challenges to create positive outcomes in human rights for his mob and communities across the Northern Territory (NT) and Western Australia (WA). He is multiplying his efforts and expertise by coaching and training others and generously sharing his knowledge and experience widely to better all First Nations’ communities.

Doyen’s reach and influence expands across the nation as he sits as Director on several community-focused Boards and holds the prestigious position of Director of the Australian Evaluation Society following a period as Vice-President.

Read the full media release here.

Terry Grose, Doyen Radcliffe and Mervyn Eades at the Bill Armstrong AO Human Rights Award 2021 presentation.

 

New process for job advertising

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

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

Sydney Peace Prize

Next year, the Sydney Peace Prize is being awarded to the Uluru Statement From the Heart, for bringing together Australia’s First Nations peoples around a clear and comprehensive agenda; for healing and peace within our Nation and delivering self-determination for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples, that enables Australia to move into the future united and confident.

As part of Sydney Peace Prize week, you are invited to a workshop to publicly commit (or recommit) your organisation to support the Uluru Statement from the Heart.

The workshop will give you resources and ideas on how to engage your staff, board, supporters, members and partners to call for a referendum on a constitutionally enshrined First Nations Voice to Parliament. It will include a panel discussion with the prize winners and a chance to discuss and share with other organisations. We will end the workshop with a public commitment.

You can find out more about the Sydney Peace Prize and this year’s recipients here.

 

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Understanding mob’s vax hesitancy

feature tile text 'understanding covid-19 vaccine hesitancy in Aboriginal communities key to increase vax rates' & pop art image of vax being drawn from vial

PLEASE NOTE: the last date for this publication this year is Friday 15 December 2021 – the publication will start again in the new year from 18 January 2022.

Photograph in feature tile from Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Services, The Guardian.

Understanding mob’s vax hesitancy

Understanding COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy in Aboriginal communities is proving vital in the push to increase vaccination rates. As of 1 December 2021, 57.5% f the Aboriginal population in WA had received a first dose of the COVID-19 vaccination and 39.4% had received both doses. This is compared to 86.7% of the general population across the state having had one COVID-19 jab and 76.4% having also had their second.

Yamatji Noongar woman Sharon Wood-Kenney, who has been part of a team holding information sessions with Indigenous people in Perth about vaccinations, said many of the sessions were spent discussing why people did not want to get vaccinated. “We run our sessions to myth-bust, to talk about what’s going on, to answer questions — I’m finding a lot of people not really sure about what the facts are about COVID,” she said.

Ms Wood-Kenney said coming from a family that was affected by the Stolen Generation, she understood hesitancy about trusting the Government, but stressed the advice and information were coming from health experts With restrictions on the State border set to be removed when 90% of West Australians are vaccinated, community transmission of the virus is inevitable, according to modelling done by the WA Health Department.

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

Cherbourg resident Colin Morgan received his COVID vaccine out the front of his home

Cherbourg resident Colin Morgan received his COVID vaccine out the front of his home. Photo: Georgie Hewson, ABC Southern QLD, Image source : ABC News.

Why you need a vaccine booster

If it’s been six months since you got the second COVID vaccine dose, it’s time to book in for your booster shot. This will provide additional protection against COVID, including the new Omicron variant. While the evidence is still emerging, preliminary data suggests a Pfizer booster might give the same protection against Omicron as double-dose vaccination did for the original strain.

When you get your first dose of COVID vaccine, your body produces an immune response against a part of the virus called the spike protein. If you’re exposed to the SARS-CoV-2 virus, your immune system can recognise and fight the virus quickly. The immune response to a single dose of COVID vaccine is generally short-lived. So a second dose is needed to have a stronger and longer-lasting response. Over time, the amount of antibodies in your body decreases – this is referred to as waning immunity.

If the immune response wanes below the level needed for protection against COVID – the “protective threshold” – your immune system may not be able to prevent infection when exposed to the virus.

To view The Conversation article in full click here.

COVID-19 Dose One vial, Dose Two vial & Booster vial - ticks on first two doses

Image source: NIH Director’s Blog.

Support for First Nations Voice to Parliament

On International Human Rights Day, the Law Council of Australia has restated its unwavering support for a First Nations Voice to Parliament enshrined in the Australian Constitution, as called for in the Uluru Statement from the Heart and the recommendations of the Referendum Council. “Constitutional recognition is vital to protect the rights and aspirations of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples,” Law Council of Australia President, Dr Jacoba Brasch QC said.

A First Nations Voice, constitutionally enshrined, is a manifestation of the right to self-determination, which, at a minimum, entails the entitlement of peoples to have control over their destiny and to be treated respectfully. This includes peoples being free to pursue their economic, social and cultural development.

To view the Law Council of Australia’s media release in full click here.

According to research undertaken by the Australian National University support for legal reform on Indigenous issues is not only high, it’s also durable. Public attitudes have shifted to such an extent in the last 40 years, there is little reason to think a constitutionally enshrined Voice wouldn’t pass a referendum if it was held today.

To view The Conversation article in full click here.

Image source: The Guardian.

Prof Behrendt wins Human Rights Medal

Distinguished Professor Larissa Behrendt AO is a Eualeyai and Kamillaroi woman and the Director of Research at the Jumbunna Institute for Indigenous Education and Research, University of Technology Sydney (UTS). Professor Behrendt holds the UTS inaugural Chair in Indigenous Research. Her contribution to Indigenous education and research has been widely recognised.

In 2009 she was named NAIDOC Person of the Year for her advocacy for the rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. In 2011 she was the NSW State recipient Australian of the Year. This Award noted that Professor Behrendt would “continue to be at the forefront of national discussion for many years”. That prediction has demonstrably come to fruition – whether it be in the fields of Indigenous justice and the law, advocacy, or the visual and performing arts. Her leadership and work have continued to be recognised through many awards. In 2020 Professor Behrendt was awarded Officer of the Order of Australia.

To view the Australian Human Rights Commission media release announcing the three 2021 Human Rights Award winners click here.

Professor Larissa Behrendt

Professor Larissa Behrendt. Image source: Australian of the Year Awards website.

Highest rate of leukaemia virus in world

A new study has found that remote central Australian Aboriginal communities have the highest prevalence of human T-cell leukaemia virus type 1 (HTLV-1) in the world. This devastating virus can cause severe disease, including aggressive adult T-cell lymphoma (ATL), HTLV-1 associated myelopathy, and uveitis, an inflammation of the eyes that can, if left untreated, lead to vision loss.

The study published in the PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases found the prevalence of HTLV-1 in adults in central Australia was 36.8%, the highest reported worldwide. Prevalence increased with age suggesting that sexual contact may be the predominant mode of transmission.

To view the article in full click here.

HTLV-1 cell

Image source: Newsweek.

Type 2 diabetes in Aboriginal girls research

Dr Lisa Nicholas from the Adelaide Medical School has been awarded $150,000 over two years to study why Aboriginal girls are more prone to youth-onset obesity and type 2 diabetes than non-Aboriginal girls. She will examine whether the disparity is exacerbated in children of mothers who developed diabetes during pregnancy.

Knowledge gained from the study will help to identify individuals most at risk of these conditions and provide opportunities for earlier intervention strategies. Dr Nicholas was awarded the funding under the 2021 Women’s Health grant which is a new scheme.

To view the University of Adelaide media release in full click here.

Aboriginal hands blood sugar levels finger prick test

Image source: The The Medical Journal of Australia.

Health journal research assistant opportunity

The University of Melbourne are seeking expressions of interest for a short-term casual Level A (Research Assistant) role to support the establishment of a First Nations health and wellbeing journal. Support would include organising stakeholder meetings, taking meeting minutes, following up on actions, coordinating documentation requirements, assisting with referencing, formatting documents, presentations, tables and charts.  The work could be flexible to fit within existing study or work, with an estimate around 7 to 15 hours a week for 6 to 9 months. 

Professor Catherine Chamberlain, Indigenous Health Equity can be contacted by phone 0428 921 271 or by email using this link for any enquiries.

young Aboriginal woman & grandparents of toddler

Image source: indigenous.gov.au.

New process for job advertising

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

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

International Human Rights Day

International Human Rights Day is observed every year on 10 December — the day the United Nations General Assembly adopted, in 1948, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). The UDHR is a milestone document, which proclaims the inalienable rights that everyone is entitled to as a human being – regardless of race, colour, religion, sex, language, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.

This year’s Human Rights Day theme relates to ‘Equality’ and Article 1 of the UDHR – “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.”

The principles of equality and non-discrimination are at the heart of human rights. Equality is aligned with the 2030 Agenda and with the UN approach set out in the document Shared Framework on Leaving No One Behind: Equality and Non-Discrimination at the Heart of Sustainable Development. This includes addressing and finding solutions for deep-rooted forms of discrimination that have affected the most vulnerable people in societies, including women and girls, Indigenous peoples, people of African descent, LGBTI people, migrants and people with disabilities, among others.

For more information about International Human Rights Day click here.

banner text 'International Human Rights Day 10 December 2021' multiple hands reaching up, different skin tones

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Health workforce investment is urgent

4 Marr Mooditj Training AC students working on a dummy on hospital bed

PLEASE NOTE: the last date for this publication this year is Friday 15 December 2021 – the publication will start again in the new year from 18 January 2022.

Image in feature tile: Marr Mooditj Training Aboriginal Corporation students.

Health workforce investment is urgent

Around the world, news of the Omicron variant of concern has created questions about the implications for an already stretched and burdened health workforce. It is not only the clinical workforce that is feeling the pressure, there is an urgent need to invest in expanding and developing the public health workforce.

A virtual symposium, held this week, hosted by the Public Health Association of Australia (PHAA), Australasian Faculty of Public Health Medicine (AFPHM) and NACCHO, heard of public health worker burnout, the traumas of dealing with the pandemic, of the value and shortage of epidemiologists, and of a lack of adequate data on the workforce.

NACCHO Medical Director, Dr Megan Campbell, stressed the need for training and leadership opportunities for First Nations peoples and recognition of the role of ACCHOs in keeping communities safe. Campbell said the public health workforce had been “absolutely essential’ in supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities to stay safe during the pandemic and improving the cultural safety and quality of government and mainstream organisation responses as well.”

Campbell went on to say, “We absolutely need to increase the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander public health workforce and that’s going to require substantial commitments.” NACCHO wants to ensure the curriculum is appropriate, includes competencies around Indigenous public health practice – not just knowledge – and its development must be led by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

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

KAMS students in class learning child health checks

KAMS students in class learning child health checks. Photo supplied by KAMS. Image source: National Indigenous News.

AMSANT wants borders closed into new year

The CEO of Aboriginal Medical Medical Services Alliance NT (AMSANT) is calling on the NT government to keep the borders closed into the new year. The current plan is to drop the need for any quarantine requirements for double vaccinated travellers from interstate red zones on 20 December 2021.

AMSANT CEO John Paterson said he would prefer a mid-January date, “That would allow us time to increase the vaccination rates, particularly in those low vaccinated local government areas throughout the NT. Monday 17 [January 2022] looks like a good day to open up the borders as that would give the low vaccination regions time to boost their rates. We’d probably be getting very close to that 90 to 95% vaccination rate, if we continue the trend that we’re on.”

To view the full ABC News story click here.

outback highway with orange cones funnelling traffic & road sign 'state border visitor information bay'

The current plan is to let interstate visitors heading into the NT from 20 December 2021. Photo: Mitchell Abram, ABC News.

Homeless women with disability research

Homelessness is having a disastrous impact on women with disabilities, according to new research by the UNSEEN Project. UNSEEN is led by social documentarian Belinda Mason (BLUR Projects), in collaboration with the Women’s Electoral Lobby NSW, and has been designed with women to tell real stories of some of the State’s 15,000 homeless women. It provides a unique platform for women of all ages to share their true experiences.

Artist and Paralympian, Caitlin [pseudonym used for safety reasons], 44, became homeless in February 2020 when floodwater engulfed her home, badly damaging the property and taking with it much of her prized possessions. She said finding suitable temporary accommodation was near impossible. “My home was no longer habitable.”

To read the UNSEEN media release in full click here.

park bench with rolled sleeping bag, sign underneath

Image source: Women’s Agenda website.

Sobering OOHC over-representation data

Shadow Minister for Family and Community Services, Kate Washington said the Family Matters Report 2021 has revealed sobering data on the the over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children in out-of-home care. NSW was ranked as poor or very poor across all four building blocks within the report, with the rate of over representation increasing steadily since 2012-13.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in NSW are 9.9 times more likely to be removed from their families by child protection services than non-Indigenous children. The Report has slammed the lack of transparency and accountability within the NSW child protection system and has called for major investment from the NSW Government in community-led solutions.

To view the joint media release by NSW Shadow Ministers Kate Washington and David Harris in full click here.

rear view of small Aboriginal child looking towards run-down house

Image source: SBS NITV website.

New incentives for doctors to go bush

A new scheme aims to attract more health professionals to rural, regional and remote areas. From January 2022, the federal government will wipe the university debt of doctors or nurse practitioners, under a few conditions.

Regional Health Minister David Gillespie said the incentives were on top of current benefits, such as scholarship programs and additional Medicare benefits. “The more remote you go, the more significant the practice incentive payment or the workforce incentive payment is,” Dr Gillespie said. “It is targeted because there is an acute shortage of general practitioners in the outer, regional and remote areas — more so than anywhere else.”

To view the ABC News article in full click here.

outback road with yellow road sign 'clinic 100km'

Image source: RACGP website.

Culture in nursing and midwifery education

Increasing the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander nurses and midwives is critical to improving the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, yet efforts over more than 20 years are still to make significant inroads.

However, a small, award-winning Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander training provider in Perth, Marr Mooditj, is showing the way amid other hopes for change in nursing and midwifery courses and curriculum showcased at the recent Congress of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Nurses and Midwives (CATSINaM) Back To The Fire conference event in WA.

Marr Mooditj’ is one of just three organisations across Australia to provide dedicated healthcare training solely to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander  students. Their unique staff motto “Eat the frog” is about how staff make sure they are providing wrap-around support to students from across WA, in a way that goes beyond the time and focus given by most other training organisations. It means that any staff member who runs into a student who needs help is expected to step up.

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

Rural GP awarded for parasitic worm work

Dr Wong has received a RACGP Rural GP award, recognising he has directly contributed to healthcare improvement and positively impacted the local community. “Parasitic worms may not be a popular topic, but it is a serious health issue in the Kimberley region, and anyone can get it,” he said.

“I recognised part of the problem where I work was a lack of community awareness. There are simple steps people can take in terms of prevention and treatment, so I put together posters to help raise awareness across the region, as well as clear guidelines for managing parasites, which have been really useful for patients.”

To view the Kimberley Clinical Protocol Parasitic Worms that Dr Wong helped update click here and to view the RACGP media release about the Rural GP awards click here.

New process for job advertising

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Partnership Agreement on CtG state of play

feature tile text 'partnership agreement on Closing the Gap progress and challenges; & cartoon picture of NACCHO CEO, Ken Wyatt & two others & CoP logo

Partnership Agreement on CtG state of play

The Joint Council on Closing the Gap met today for the seventh time under the historic Partnership Agreement on Closing the Gap where governments are now working together with the Coalition of Peaks to improve outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Progress was welcomed on several high priority actions to advance the four Priority Reforms and socio-economic targets in the National Agreement on Closing the Gap. Areas where the partnership needs strengthening were also acknowledged.

Under Priority Reform Two, the Joint Council agreed in principle two of the Sector Strengthening Plans covering the early childhood care and development sector and the health sector, establishing high level priorities and joint ways of building these key community-controlled sectors nationally.

“I’m pleased to see the first two sector strengthening plans laid out. These plans are an important tool for change and accountability, and the onus is now on every party to turn their commitments into practice. Our community-controlled sector is invaluable to our people: we see real change when Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people deliver services to our communities.” said Patricia Turner AM, Lead Convener of the Coalition of Peaks.

“The Coalition of Peaks are working with governments to ensure they transform how they do business and rise to the challenges set out in the National Agreement. Shared decision making, accountability and transparency are central concerns for us. We also value the independent review of progress to be conducted by the Productivity Commission because there will be things we are doing well, but also areas where we must do better. There will be lessons to learn on how we can work better into the future and invest in those actions which will close gaps faster,” Ms Turner said.

A new target on Community Infrastructure was recommended to First Ministers and the Coalition of Peaks for sign-off and inclusion in the National Agreement on Closing the Gap. This target now includes measures that ensure essential services for remote and discrete Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities will meet or exceed jurisdictional standards. This will not only help with housing standards but deliver significant health outcomes to Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander people.

To view the media release in full click here.

group of Aboriginal people, hands in air & sign Close the Gap

Image source: Their World website.

ACCHO’s telehealth use boosts attendance

When the COVID pandemic struck, the Bendigo District and Aboriginal Co-operative (BDAC) started seeing 90% of its patients via telehealth. BDAC executive director and Dhrug man Dallas Widdicombe said the introduction of telehealth services was behind the rise in people showing up. “We realised we had more people attending their appointments then we’d ever had before,” Mr Widdicombe said.

Clinical practice manager and Arabana woman Jaydene Burzacott confirmed the clinic started seeing a significant number of new patients during the pandemic due to the provision of telehealth, “We were increasing by about six patients a week, including a lot of new people for the first time in a very long time.”

Ms Burzacott says while telehealth helps make a range of health services more accessible for a lot of people, BDAC has seen a surge in people accessing mental health services via telehealth. “Mental health appointments were a really big one,” she said. “I think it really helped people to be able to talk about their mental health over the phone.

To view the ABC News article in full click here.

BDAC CEO Dallas Widdicombe sitting at his desk

BDAC executive director and Dhrug man Dallas Widdicombe said the introduction of telehealth services was behind the rise in people showing up. Photo: Shannon Schubert, ABC Central Victoria. Image source: ABC News.

Sexual health trivia a super success

Last Friday, 3 December 2021, a highly successful virtual sexual health trivia event was held to mark Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander HIV Awareness Week (ATSIHAW).

Associate Professor and Director of Poche Centre for Indigenous Health, University of Queensland James Ward hosted the event together with NACCHO. NACCHO Chair Donnella Mills gave everyone a beautiful welcome while thanking all the health workers for their amazing efforts.

There was a great turn out with 22 teams competing for pride, bragging rights and some nice prizes. After three rounds of trivia questions on HIV, sexual health and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander popular culture, sports and geography, team AHCWALube (AHCWA) took home the first prize of $1,500 closely followed team Us Mob (Us Mob and HIV). Third place went to team GladiAIDors (Miwatj).

The costumes were all amazing and after much deliberation the Chancre Sisters (Congress) took home the prize for Best Dressed. A special shout out also goes to Rachial McCahon (Wirraka Maya) for spending an hour on her Christmas tree hair. Participants were thanked for the amazing work they do and encouraged to take part in next year’s trivia.collage of images from the sexual health virtual trivia afternoon

Government response to food insecurity

The Government has tabled its response to the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Indigenous Affairs’ report into food pricing and food security in remote Indigenous communities. Minister for Indigenous Australians, the Hon Ken Wyatt AM, MP, welcomed the report and thanked the Committee for their work.

“Improving food security and making affordable, fresh and nutritious foods more available in remote Indigenous communities is an important part of improving the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people,” Minister Wyatt said. “This report has affirmed that food security is a long-standing and complex issue in remote and rural communities. It will take a concerted and coordinated effort across jurisdictions and private industry to improve supply chains and storage.”

To view Minister Wyatt’s statement in full click here.

Gina Lyons, Irrunytju WA cooking in an electric frypan

Gina Lyons, Irrunytju WA. Photo by Suzanne Bryce, NPY Women’s Council. Image source: The Australian Prevention Partnership Centre.

New Lowitja Institute Board chair

Lowitja Institute today welcomed health, education and governance leader Mr Selwyn Button, a Gunggari man and former Registrar of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Corporations, as the new chairperson of its Board.

Mr Button succeeds Pat Anderson who retired last week after nearly 20 years in the role. “I am truly humbled to become the new chairperson of the Lowitja Institute,” Mr Button said. “Having served on the board with Pat over the last 8 years, I admire the contributions she has made and will continue to make to the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people across the country.” “She has been an inspiration and hers are significant shoes to fill. I hope to do her proud in continuing her legacy.”

To view the Lowitja Institute’s media release relating to Mr Button’s appointment click here.

new Lowitja Institute Board Chair, Selwyn Button in front of large circular grass wall sculpture

Selwyn Button. Image source: Australian Institute of Company Directors website.

HAPEE free hearing assessments available

Hearing Australia’s Hearing Assessment Program – Early Ears, dubbed, HAPEE, conducts diagnostic hearing assessments to reduce the long term effects of ear disease in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, who have significantly higher rates of hearing loss than non-Indigenous Australian children.

Telehealth appointments are now available to allow parents and carers to access Hearing Australia services and ongoing support from anywhere in Australia. A telehealth appointment is an over the phone conversation where parents and carers can ask questions and an audiologist provides advice and ongoing support.

Parents and carers can choose a telehealth or a face-to-face appointment, depending on which best suits their needs. All HAPEE hearing checks are free* for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander kids aged 0-6 years or not attending full time school. For more information and resources visit Hearing Australia or call 134 432 to book a telehealth appointment.

young Aboriginal boy having hearing test

Image source: Microsoft News Centre.

85,000 NSW adults waiting for dentists

Some 85,000 NSW adults are currently on the public dental waiting list in NSW and it could be two or three years before they see a dentist. Of those, about 30,000 are in rural, remote or regional areas.
Aboriginal man receiving dental treatment

A patient is treated at the Armajun Aboriginal Health Service at Inverell. Photo: Bridget Brennan, ABC News.

Complex PTSD explained

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can arise after exposure to a traumatic event, with symptoms falling into four clusters:

  1. upsetting and intrusive re-experiencing of the trauma (memories and nightmares)
  2. avoiding reminders of a trauma
  3. profound changes to mood and beliefs following the traumatic experience
  4. heightened reactivity to and vigilance for danger.

However, there are a multiple of ways PTSD symptoms can manifest. For some, the highly distressing re-experiencing of trauma memories is most prominent, whereas for others, a persistent hypervigilance for danger and threat may be the most difficult aspect.

Previous efforts to describe a more complex version of PTSD focused on the nature of the traumatic event(s), for instance, that people with CPTSD may have experienced their trauma in childhood. This may lead to a more pervasive set of difficulties in adulthood. Others argues repeated or prolonged exposure to trauma throughout one’s life was the key feature.

To view The Conversation article in full click here.

drawing of head made of barbed wire

Image source: Mood Disorders Clinic.

New process for job advertising

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Community-led COVID-19 plan success

feature tile text 'Community-led COVID-19 lockdown plan implemented successfully'

Community-led COVID-19 plan successful

One of the world’s toughest lockdowns has just ended for the small community of Binjari in the NT. People haven’t been able to leave home — for even groceries or exercise — as the territory fights its first significant outbreak.

An ABC News report by Dan Conifer says this action has all been aimed at preventing Indigenous deaths. For months, Indigenous health experts have been preparing for a lockdown like this, fearing the virus could spread quickly in populations with high levels of existing health conditions. NACCHO’s Dr Jason Agostino said “The state of housing is so poor and the level of crowding so high , that to leave someone who has COVID-19 in their home is to condemn the rest of the household to also get it.” Dr Jason Agostino helped develop the Binjari’s lockdown plan that’s guided the response to COVID-19 cases, including hard lockdowns and removing people from hotspots.

“It’s great to see that a plan that was led by the community has been implemented successfully and at the moment we are seeing good results” Dr Agostino said.

To watch the ABC 7.30 Report with Leigh Sales episode, including a transcript click here.

ABC 7.30 report with Leigh Sales, Welcome to Binjari Community photo

Kids should not be brought up in prison

Demonstrators gathered outside Banksia Hill Detention Centre earlier this week to call for an end to child imprisonment, and to support the prospective class action being organised on behalf of current and former detainees of the child prison.

Ramon Vida, 23, did two stints in Banksia Hill at age 16 and 17. He told the rally that it was “terrible to see young fellas, little fellas coming in. They get mistreated, they get locked down. I saw fights. It was pretty violent in there… Too many lockdowns, not much activities. The only help they gave us was the school they built.”

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

Banksia Hill protest

Banksia Hill protest. Photo: Giovanni Torre. Image source: National Indigenous Times.

Lowitja Institute Chair steps down 

Lowitja Institute has today paid tribute to internationally respected Aboriginal health leader Pat Anderson AO as she steps down as Lowitja Institute Chair after nearly 20 years. Ms Anderson was instrumental in the organisation’s establishment and its development as Australia’s renowned national Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community controlled health research institute.

Lowitja Institute CEO Dr Janine Mohamed said Ms Anderson played a key role in the first efforts nearly three decades ago in Darwin to advance research led by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. “This involved challenging and disrupting Western models of research that was done on and about us, not by and for us — and that was not an easy task,” Dr Mohamed said.

“Pat has been a fearless advocate for justice and equity for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people for decades and an outstanding mentor and strong moral compass. She is a trailblazer and ceiling breaker for all women. Like our founding patron and namesake Dr Lowitja O’Donoghue, Pat is a guiding light for all of us at Lowitja Institute, and we are so grateful she will continue to be involved with us as a patron.”

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

Patricia Anderson AO

Patricia Anderson AO. Image source: Australian of the Year 2021 website.

National recognition for NT POC testing

Flinders University’s NT Point-of-Care Testing program which has been delivering rapid on-site pathology testing across 90 remote communities since 2008, has been recognised for its efforts in being a joint winner of the Outstanding Engagement for Research Impact award at this year’s Engagement Australia Excellence Awards.

Delivered in collaboration with NT Health and AMSANT, with funding from NT Health, the program performs more than 3,000 pathology tests each month, with the point-of-care testing devices delivering results within 2-10 minutes to guide patient triage, clinical management and diagnose a variety of illnesses, including sepsis and heart attack.

To view the Flinders University News article in full click here.

Taking the cap off soft drink consumption

In spite of health warnings about high consumption of carbonated soft drinks, global consumption has been rising rapidly for more than 50 years. Flinders University psychology researchers are looking to arrest this trend by investigating potential individual responses and ‘mechanisms’ for this increase in soft drink consumption.

One contributing factor is believed to be how people respond differently to daily exposure to soft drink ‘cues’, with soft drinks available around-the-clock 24/7 from supermarkets, convenience stores, vending machines and petrol stations. Young adults in this age group are the core consumers of soft drinks, now a major public health problem with 40-50% of adults in Australia consuming at least one soft drink a week.

The Flinders University research will expand in 2022 to investigate targeted interventions to reduce soft drink consumption. With weight gain, tooth decay, risk of diabetes and even lower academic performance among the pitfalls of excessive soft drink consumption, awareness campaigns and medical interventions are in the pipeline in both developing and advanced economies.

You can view the report The predictive value of evaluative bias, attentional bias, approach bias, and self-regulatory control in soft drink consumption here.

soft drink cans & bottles in a supermarket fridge

Image source: ABC News AM with Sabra Lane.

Far West hospitals under enormous pressure

Walgett Hospital may have to close its beds in February 2022 because it does not have enough staff to manage them. Elderly people are being forced to travel 5,000 kms a month to access dialysis and up to 40 staff have left Broken Hill Hospital in the past two years.

Elizabeth “Betty” Kennedy, a 42-year stalwart of Walgett Hospital’s nursing staff said early in her career there was a suitable ratio of staff to patients, but it had gradually deteriorated to the point where staff routinely work 60-hour weeks or longer. Some women giving birth in Walgett are doing so without a midwife present because they are reluctant to travel to larger facilities and leave their young families behind.

To view the WAtoday article in full click here.

road sign text 'hospital, Kamilaroi Hwy, B76 Walgett'

Image source: The Conversation.

Melbourne Uni teaching coordinator sought

The University of Melbourne’s Centre for Health Equity, Melbourne School of Population and Global Health is keen to recruit an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander person to a teaching coordinator position within the Melbourne School of Population and Global Health.

This well-supported role is suitable for someone who is interested in developing and coordinating an innovative teaching and learning program that helps to build the next generation of public health professionals to improve Indigenous Health and Health Equity, in alignment with the National Agreement on Closing the Gap.

This will be integrated with outstanding research/knowledge generation projects and translation into policy and practice to form a coherent program to drive authentic positive health improvements so communities can once again live happy full lives in this abundant land.

You can access a full position description here and for more information you can contact Professor Indigenous Health, Cath Chamberlain by email here or 0428 921 271.

Melbourne Uni log, text 'Melbourne School of Population and Global Health' image of Professor Catherine Chamberlain.

Professor Catherine Chamberlain, Head of the Indigenous Health Equity Unit, University of Melbourne.

New process for job advertising

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

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

Eye Conference Early Bird Rego open

Indigenous Eye Health (IEH) at the University of Melbourne are pleased to announce the 2022 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Eye Health Conference, which will take place on Larrakia country in Darwin on Tuesday 24 to Thursday 26 May 2022.

The conference aims to advance the collective work of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander eye health sector towards the shared goal of improving eye health access and outcomes of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians. Delegates will include representatives from ACCHOs and other primary care service providers, eye care clinicians, policy makers, researchers, non-government organisations, hospitals, professional peak bodies and government departments from across the country.

Early bird registration is now open – register here. To receive conference updates and other IEH news, join can also join their mailing list here.

tile text '2022 National ATSI Eye Health Conference 24-26 May 2022, Darwin, NT'