NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: VACCHO toolkit to help mainstream services

feature tile artwork by Dixon Patten (Bitja); text: 'VACCHO develops Victorian Aboriginal Health and Wellbeing Workforce Strategy Implementation Tool'

The image in the feature tile is of artwork by Dixon Patten (Bitja) that appears on page 35 of the  Victorian Aboriginal Health and Wellbeing Workforce Strategy: An implementation tool for organisations in Melbourne’s north and west 2023–2026.

The NACCHO Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health News is platform we use to showcase the important work being done in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health, focusing on the work of NACCHO, NACCHO members and NACCHO affiliates.

We also share a curated selection of news stories that are of likely interest to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health sector, broadly.

VACCHO toolkit to help mainstream services

Efforts to close the health and life expectancy gaps between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and non-Indigenous communities are ongoing and urgent. An important way to achieve that is to ensure organisations operate in ways that embrace Aboriginal cultures and practices. The Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (VACCHO) is acutely aware of this, and for nearly 30 years has been advocating for vibrant, healthy, self-determining Aboriginal communities.

A key part of this work is the creation and rollout of the Victorian Aboriginal Health and Wellbeing Workforce Strategy 2022–26, available here. This plan supports a strong and able workforce across VACCHO’s 33 member organisations, delivering holistic wellbeing services to Aboriginal people.

However, for this vision to be achieved other organisations must also contribute, says VACCHO’s CEO, Jill Gallagher AO. “The [ACCHO] sector is leading the way in providing culturally safe services, but we are not immune to the challenges of workforce shortages and infrastructure limitations,” she said. “With a rapidly growing population, we need all services in the health system to deliver culturally safe care. It’s vital that there is no wrong door for Aboriginal families in being able to gain access to quality, culturally safe healthcare that is delivered in a high-trust environment.”

With this in mind, North Western Melbourne Primary Health Network (NWMPHN) commissioned VACCHO to develop a toolkit to help mainstream organisations in Melbourne’s north and west implement the health and wellbeing strategy. NWMPHN’s CEO said the free toolkit, available here, provides practical ways for mainstream organisations to support the work of Aboriginal community-controlled organisations.

N

To view the NWMPHN article New toolkit to help mainstream organisations support Victoria’s Aboriginal Health and Wellbeing Workforce Strategy in full click here.

VACCHO staff Jessica Mitchell (L) and Abe Ropitini (R) standing outside VACCHO building

VACCHO staff Jessica Mitchell (L) and Abe Ropitini (R). Photo: Leigh Henningham. Image source: NWM PHN News.

DHAC key health updates, August 2023

The Australian Government Department of Health and Aged Care (DHAC) has released its Health updates for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities August 2023 edition.

This edition includes information about:

  • World Breastfeeding Week
  • ‘Yarning About’ resources series
  • Hearing Health
  • Helping eliminate hepatitis in Australia
  • New childhood immunisation videos featuring child health nurses

You can view the August 2023 edition of DHAC’s Health updates for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities in full here, including the below new childhood immunisation video featuring child health nurses.

Boosting cancer outcomes for priority populations

Eight grants totaling over $840,000 have been awarded to increase equity for people in population groups with poorer cancer outcomes. The Assistant Minister for Indigenous Health Senator Malarndirri McCarthy announced the Supporting people with cancer grants today, including three directly aimed at reducing the impacts of cancer on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

The Supporting people with cancer grant initiative is an annual grants program that funds community organisations and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations to better support people affected by cancer at a community level. Since its inception in 2005, 137 grants totalling $11.55m have been funded through this initiative, with funded projects attracting over $9m in contributions from grant recipients and served communities.

The community programs will support locals including through screening, early detection, cancer prevention and care management nationally and in regional and remote communities.

You can find more information about the Supporting people with cancer Grant initiative on the Australian Government Cancer Australia website here, and read Senator the Hon Malarndirri McCarthy, Assistant Minister for Indigenous Health’s media release Enhanced funding initiatives to boost cancer outcomes for priority populations in full here.

ATSI woman on phone holding had of sick Aunty lying on couch

Image source: NSW Government Cancer Institute NSW website.

RFDS confronts First Nations stories

Tiwi Islander and actor Rob Collins who returns as Senior Medical Officer Dr Wayne Yates in Season 2 of the TV series RFDA says the “RFDS is unapologetic in confronting First Nations stories.” The series reflects the Broken Hill community and addresses medical issues for the mob. Rob Collins is particularly proud of RFDS for addressing First Nations medical issues to a broad audience in an authentic way.

This season the series not only weaves bush medicine into its storylines, but it does not shy away from the very real concerns faced by Indigenous communities. Rob Collins said he’s “really excited for people to see Wayne’s journey in this [series] because it raises some serious questions about the intersection between Aboriginal people and the medical profession.

“We know anecdotally, that Aboriginal people are over-represented, when it comes to fronting up to hospitals, and suffering chronic diseases. We don’t shy away from that conversation in the series. I’m really proud of the work that we’ve done and of the show for going there. I think it’s going to start conversations that I don’t think we’ve had, in such an unapologetic way on Aussie telly before.”

To view the TV Tonight article Rob Collins: “RFDS is unapologetic in confronting First Nations  stories” in full click here.

Aboriginal actor Rob Collins in RFDS TV series RFDS navy uniform standing in middle of red dirt outback road

RFDS actor Rob Collins. Image source: TV Tonight.

Better sleep to improve mob’s health

A program linking sleep science and traditional knowledge is being expanded to treat Obstructive Sleep Apnoea in regional Indigenous communities. Associate Professor Yaqoot Fatima from The University of Queensland’s (UQ) Poche Centre for Indigenous Health said one in four Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have the condition, known as OSA, to a moderate or severe level but it is largely untreated.

“When a person’s airway is blocked during sleep, there are sudden drops in blood oxygen levels and frequent wakefulness affecting restorative sleep and straining the cardiovascular system,” Dr Fatima said. “People who don’t sleep well are more likely to be overweight and at risk of diabetes, heart disease and mental health issues like depression and anxiety.”

The OSA project has received $4.06m from the Medical Research Future Fund and will be an extension of Let’s Yarn About Sleep (LYAS), a partnership led by UQ which runs a co-designed sleep health program for young Indigenous people in NW QLD. Through consulting with community members and up to 100 service providers the researcher will identify what’s contributing to poor sleep and upskill local health workers to improve the diagnosis and treatment of OSA and other sleep health conditions.

To view the UQ article Better sleep to improve health in Indigenous communities in full click here.

Roslyn Von Senden leads a Walk on Country talking about the use of plants and relaxation techniques as part of the LYAS program for young people

Roslyn Von Senden leads a Walk on Country talking about the use of plants and relaxation techniques as part of the LYAS program for young people. Image source: UQ News.

Helping teens addicted to vaping

The Australian government is cracking down on vaping. Recreational vapes of any type – whether they contain nicotine or not – will be banned from retail sale across Australia after legislation is introduced (though the date is yet to be set).

Rates of teen vaping have been rising rapidly in Australia, from 0.8% of 14- to 17-year-olds describing themselves as a current vaper over the past six months in 2018 to 14.5% in 2023. Among 18- to 24-year-olds, 19.8% have been a current vaper over the past six months. The majority of e-cigarettes contain nicotine, even when they’re not labelled as such. Some vaped tested in Australia contained 900 mgs of nicotine – the equivalent of the nicotine in almost 100 cigarettes.

Nicotine dependence produces a strong desire for, and difficulty controlling, nicotine use and young people are at greater risk of nicotine dependence than adults and can develop dependence faster. Once nicotine-dependent, a person will experience withdrawal symptoms if they reduce or cease their use. A Hooked on Nicotine Checklist, available here, is a tool to assess dependence on smoking cigarettes or vaping, specially designed for adolescents. The higher the score, the less control a teen will have over their nicotine addiction.

To view The Conversation article My teen is addicted to vaping. How can I help them quit and manage their withdrawal symptoms? in full click here.

hand holding out a vape, person's face obscured by a cloud of smoke

Photo: AdobeStock. Image source: ABC btn.

Don’t miss out – COVID-19 vax competition

Win return flights, accommodation, and tickets to the 2023 NACCHO Members’ Conference

6 ACCHOs and 15 creative people can win return flights, accommodation, and tickets for up to 3 ACCHO staff members to attend the NACCHO’s Members’ Conference in Perth this October.

Enter the COVID-19 Vaccination promotion competition by submitting a deadly video advertisement/promotion that represents the theme: Getting a COVID-19 vaccination is looking after yourself, for your chance to win! Entries will be judged on the following criteria:

  • Relevance to the theme: Getting a COIVD-19 vaccination is looking after yourself
  • Composition
  • Creativity
  • Originality
  • Appropriateness for the target age group: Category 1 – kids 5–12 years (in the ACCHO community), Category 2 – teens and adults 13–49 years (in the ACCHO community), Category 3 – older adults 50+ (in the ACCHO community).

There are 3 amazing prizes up for grabs:

Category 1

  • First Prize includes return flights, accommodation, and tickets to NACCHO’s 2023 Conference in Perth for 3 staff members
  • Second Prize includes return flights, accommodation, and tickets to NACCHO’s 2023 Conference in Perth for 2 staff members

Category 2

  • First Prize includes return flights, accommodation, and tickets to NACCHO’s 2023 Conference in Perth for 3 staff members
  • Second Prize includes return flights, accommodation, and tickets to NACCHO’s 2023 Conference in Perth for 2 staff members

Category 3

  • First Prize includes return flights, accommodation, and tickets to NACCHO’s 2023 Conference in Perth for 3 staff members
  • Second Prize includes return flights, accommodation, and tickets to NACCHO’s 2023 Conference in Perth for 2 staff members

This is an opportunity for you to really show who and what your community is like, and the best ways to communicate with them.

We encourage teams to be creative with the theme. Is the best way to get your mob interested, through humour? Being strong and serious? Telling a story? Addressing negative stereotypes?

Be open to the possibilities of what ‘self-care’ looks like. Self-care could be 30-year-olds discussing the importance of getting the vaccination; or 70-year-olds spinning around the basketball courts because they’re fit and healthy and vaccinated; or tie your promotion to building community strength and vitality.

The more original and community-oriented, the better.

You can access a competition Entry Form here.

The Terms and Conditions for the competition are available here.

NACCHO tile text 'NACCHO Members' Conference 2023 - 23-26 October, Noongar Boodjar (Perth) MAY THE BEST ACCHOs WIN... - Return Flights; Tickets to NACCHO's Conference for 3 staff members; Accommodation; images of plane, city of Perth at night & motel bedroom

Sector Jobs

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

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

Key Date

(text)

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Tues 9.5.23

feature tile vector of 12 ATSI women, text 'Wiyi Yani U Thangani National Summit - We Are The Change - National gathering brings "a necessary First Nations gender lens" to everything from housing to education, healing and economic development'

The image in the feature tile is from the Australian Human Rights Commission website Wiyi Yani U Thangani National Summit. We are the change. 9–11 May 2023 webpage.

The NACCHO Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health News is platform we use to showcase the important work being done in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health focusing on the work of NACCHO, NACCHO members and NACCHO affiliates.

We also share a curated selection of news stories that are of likely interest to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health sector, broadly.

Gathering has a “necessary First Nations gender lens”

First Nations women have the right to move beyond “holding society together, healing, reducing harms and violence, and guaranteeing cohesion and healthy environments for everyone” and be free to imagine “gender justice”, the social justice commissioner June Oscar says. More than 900 First Nations women are meeting in Canberra this week, the first national gathering of its kind, to bring “a necessary First Nations gender lens” to everything from housing to education, healing and economic development. “There has never been a national action plan or approach to realising the rights of First Nations women and girls,” the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander social justice commissioner Oscar said.

For the past five years, Oscar, a Bunuba woman from the Kimberley, has been developing the Wiyi Yani U Thangani (women’s voices) program. Oscar has consulted more than 2,000 Indigenous women across the nation to identify their greatest needs and aspirations. The Wiyi Yani U Thangani report found that Indigenous women are managing the social health and wellbeing of First Nations communities largely through unpaid and unrecognised work at home, in communities and on country. Without adequate formalised support in place, women are caring for children, elders and those with disabilities, often in overcrowded housing. They are delivering frontline crisis services, supporting family to navigate courts and child protection, as well as maintaining culture.

Oscar says the conference will help design the establishment of the First Nations Gender Justice Institute, based at the Australian National University, to make sure women and girls have a say on the policies and systems that govern their lives and the lives of those they are supporting. “Our vision for the First Nations Gender Justice Institute is that it should be a dedicated independent space for women and girls to talk about issues that affect them and their communities … such as leadership and self-determination, such as women’s knowledges in culture, language, country and water rights, lifting women and their families out of poverty,” Oscar says.

To view The Guardian article National gathering of First Nations women aims to bring ‘gender justice’ to Indigenous issues in full click here. You can watch a livestream of the Wiyi Yani U Thangani National Summit below.

Supporting access to medicines webinar this THURSDAY

All ACCHO sector staff are invited to participate in a free webinar hosted by NACCHO and the Department of Health and Aged Care’s Office of Health Technology Assessment.

Topics include:

  • How do communities get access to medicines, medical products and services?
  • Medicines and the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee (PBAC): How does it work?
  • Medical products and services and the Medical Services Advisory Committee (MSAC): How does it work?
  • NACCHO’s consultation and advocacy activities in Health Technology Assessment
  • How can ACCHOs get more involved in Health Technology Assessment?

Panel members include NACCHO representatives and experts from PBS and MBS committees.

The webinar ‘Have your say on HTA – Getting involved with the funding of medicines and medical services’ was first held on Thursday 4 May.

If you missed it, you can register here for the second webinar being held this:

Thursday 11 May: 12.30pm-1.45pm (AEST)

If you have any questions, please contact Mike Stephens via email here.

NACCHO tile text 'Hear from the experts to imprve accdess to medicines and medical services for community in the upcoming webinar: Have your say on HTA - Thursday 11 May: 12.30pm-1.45pm (AEST)

Review of funding for mental health services

The Department of Health and Aged Care currently funds mental health and suicide prevention services commissioned through Primary Health Networks (PHNs) and the Integrated Team Care (ITC) program which supports Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who live with complex chronic conditions and is also commissioned through PHNs.

Ninti One and First Nations Co are undertaking a review of sector funding arrangements a service capability for both programs and the purpose of this review is to explore how the government can best align with the National Agreement on Closing the Gap in the delivery of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mental health and suicide prevention services and the ITC program.

Ninti One and First Nations Co are seeking to learn more from you about your perspectives on current and future commissioning arrangements for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Services and the ITC program via a survey response or submission. Your insights will contribute to evidence to inform the review. The survey consists of both multiple choice and free-text and may take approximately 20 minutes to complete, depending on how much information you wish to provide.

You can find out more about the review here and access the survey here.

The survey will remain open until COB Friday 19 May 2023.

Ninti One Limited & First Nations Co logos

An Australia without the RFDS is unthinkable

One of Australia’s most iconic organisations is the Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS). The RFDS was founded by Reverend John Flynn in Queensland in 1928 and since then it has been an integral part of the landscape – and skies. Reverend Flynn recognised that vast distances and poor communications created intolerable difficulties for the sick or injured in the regions. Almost 100 years on, and even with exponential advances in technology during that time, the RFDS continues to serve a unique purpose – the ability to bring medical care to the most remote parts of Australia, by integrating an airline with intensive care medical services.

Growth in the primary health areas of the organisation means the RFDS helps fill the gap of providing basic GP and dental clinics in locations where it is challenging – or almost impossible – to attract medical professionals to live permanently. In 2022, RFDS facilitated a total of 606 GP and nursing clinics and 151 dental clinics in remote WA. This provided accessible primary care to 8,427 patients who may have otherwise found it challenging to access health services, simply because of where they choose to live.

The RFDS is part of Australia’s broad national health system, and works closely with governments, industry, Aboriginal medical services, primary health networks, local hospital districts, GPs and rural and remote communities.

To view the Business News article An Australia without the Royal Flying Doctor Service is unthinkable – let’s keep it flying high click here.

RFDS dental assistant & dentist, ATSI patient & patient's mother

L-R: RFDS dental assistant Wendy Andrews, dentist Vincenzo Figliomeri, Sonya Williams (standing) and patient Chervina Wongawol. Image source: Business News.

WA prisons mental health emergency

Content warning: This article contains reference to suicide. Please refer to the services at the bottom of this article for support.

A series of suicides in WA’s Serco-operated Acacia Prison will be highlighted by human rights lawyers and a bereaved family this week as the WA Coroner examines the death of nineteen-year-old Noongar and Wirlomin man, Stanley Inman Jnr. On 11 July 2020 Mr Inman was found in a critical condition in a prison storeroom and he died in hospital two days later.

His sister has said she attempted to speak to an Aboriginal Liaison Officer about her concerns regarding her brother’s mental health just days before his deaths. In a statement, Mr Inman’s family said on Monday: “We as a family have stood alongside those other families also affected by this great epidemic and injustice against Indigenous men, women, youth, and children of this country. We simply just don’t understand how to others he has just become a statistic.”

National Justice Project chief executive and Principal Solicitor, George Newhouse, has called on the WA Minister for Corrective Services, Bill Johnston, to take urgent action to address the “mental health emergency” unfolding in WA prisons. “How many more suicides will it take before the WA government acts? We need Aboriginal Medical Services available in prisons to provide the culturally safe care that WA prisons are incapable of delivering,” he said.

To view the National Indigenous Times article WA prisons mental health emergency under the microscope at inquest into death of Aboriginal teenager in full click here.

black and white blurred image of person behind bars

Image source: ABC News.

If this article brought up anything for you or someone you love, please reach out to, call or visit the online resources listed below for support:

13YARN – 13 92 76, 13yarn.org.au

Lifeline – 13 11 14, lifeline.org.au

Beyond Blue – 1300 224 636, beyondblue.org.au/forums

MensLine – 1300 789 978

Kids Helpline – 1800 551 800

Suicide Call Back Service – 1300 659 467

VACCHO backs state’s drug reforms

The Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (VACCHO) welcomed the passage of the Drugs, Poisons and Controlled Substances Amendment (Medically Supervised Injecting Centre) Bill 2023 last Thursday night. The new law will make the North Richmond Safe Injection Room facility permanent and widen eligibility criteria to provide “vital lifesaving healthcare to vulnerable members of the community”, VACCHO said.

The proposed amendments to the Bill are based on recommendations of an independent review of the facility by renowned public health researcher John Ryan. The Fatal overdose among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people Victoria 2018–2021 report states a majority of the fatal overdoses amongst Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people were unintentional. VACCHO Executive Director of Social and Emotional Wellbeing, Sheree Lowe, said this year’s Coroners Court of Victoria report demonstrated that Aboriginal families in Victoria “continue to be severely impacted by addiction”.

“The North Richmond initiative is one important part of a multifaceted services system to help manage the complex forms of trauma that lead to addiction. This service along with holistic supports are required to provide important life-saving support to community,” Ms Lowe said. VACCHO noted in a statement on Friday that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people experience fatal overdoses at a rate more than three times higher than non-Indigenous people. “In 2023, the significant disparity between Aboriginal and non-Indigenous people should not exist,” the organisation said.

To view the National Indigenous Times article Victorian Aboriginal health peak body backs state’s drug reforms in full click here.

VACCHO HQ Melbourne - external view

VACCHO HQ Melbourne. Image source: VACCHO website.

Sector Jobs

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: The Family Matters Report 2022

The Family Matters Report 2022 released by SNAICC

“The statistics in the Family Matters Report 2022 tell a grim story! Our children continue to be over-represented in out-of-home care, and the trend is increasing. But we know what it takes to turn this tide. The evidence is there. Our communities and organisations have the answers. We need the commitments from governments to make it happen,” taken from post on SNAICC’s social media.

Family Matters reports examine what governments are doing to turn the tide on over-representation and the outcomes for our children. They also highlight Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander-led solutions and call on governments to support and invest in the strengths of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to lead on child wellbeing, development and safety responses for our children.

This year’s Family Matters report is the third to be published following the development of the new National Agreement on Closing the Gap (the National Agreement), which was entered into in July 2020. Under the
National Agreement, governments across the country committed to make decisions in genuine partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and organisations; to invest in our community-controlled services; to transform government agencies and non-Indigenous services into culturally safe organisations; and to develop data and monitor outcomes in partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. The National Agreement also committed specifically to reducing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children’s over-representation in out-of-homecare by 45% by the year 2031, a target well aligned to the Family Matters campaign’s call to eliminate overrepresentation by 2040.

Read more details and download the report here.

Four Corners release on dismal failures of youth detention policy

Over 130 pages it spells out the dismal failures of youth detention policy in Australia — a country that continues to lock up primary school-age children in the face of evidence that incarceration only leads to more crime.

Prepared for the Council of Attorneys-General with input from state, territory and Commonwealth justice departments, as well as 93 public submissions, the report was finalised in 2020.

ABC Four Corners, as part of an investigation into ongoing abuses within youth detention, has obtained a report of the Council of Attorneys-General review examining the age of criminal responsibility.

At times the language is academic. At times it’s blunt. The recommendation is clear: no child below the age of 14 should be prosecuted for

“The Commonwealth, State and Territory governments should raise the minimum age of criminal responsibility to 14 years of age, without exception,” the report says — a conclusion supported by the majority of justice departments around the country.

Australia is one of the only developed countries in the world to prosecute and detain children as young as 10. The global average is 14. What’s commonplace in this country, is prohibited by nations including Russia and China.

The United Nations has repeatedly condemned Australia’s position.

To read the full story click here.

Photo: Matt Davidson. Image source: WAtoday.

Research finds many Australians ignore Covid-19 warnings despite spike in cases

As a string of new Covid-19 warnings ramp up across the country, a research survey conducted by Pfizer Australia found 60 per cent of Australians believed Covid-19 was a thing of the past.

The data compares community sentiment to how Australians were feeling a year ago when Covid-19 was rampant across the states and territories, borders were shut and many people were in and out of lockdown.

The research also found 61 per cent of people were less concerned about the impact of Covid-19 in their community, while about 46 per cent felt less concerned about their personal risk of serious illness.

Health experts have urged people to work from home where they can.

University of Sydney infectious diseases specialist and paediatrician Robert Booy said complacency during the current wave was concerning.

“Protection against Covid-19 infection requires several steps, including ensuring your vaccinations are up to date, practising Covid-safe behaviours and ensuring if you do test positive to Covid, you act fast by talking to your GP to learn if antiviral medicines are right for you,” Professor Booy said.

Reconciliation Australia’s barometer report shows greater levels of racism than 2020

Reconciliation Australia has released the biennial Barometer report, which takes the temperature of relationships between First Nations people and the broader community.

Reconciliation Australia chief executive Karen Mundine says the report is an important tool to track progress.

“The report has been going since 2008 and we run it every two years, just so we get a picture a snapshot of what’s going on at that moment,” she said.

SUMMARY STATISTICS
  • 93% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people (95% in 2020)and 89% of Australians in the general community (91% in 2020) feel our relationship is important.
  • Nearly all Australians (93%) want Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to have a say in their own affairs,
  • 80% of the general community (86% in 2020) and
  • 86% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people (91% in 2020) believe it is important to establish a representative Indigenous Body.
  • Support for a national First Nations representative body remains strong with 83% general community and 87% Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
  • More Australians than ever before back a Treaty with 72% of non-Indigenous Australians now supporting a treaty – up from 53% in 2020.
  • A majority believe it is important to undertake formal truth-telling processes in relation to Australia’s shared history – 83% general community and 87% Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people
  • 63% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples said they trusted non-Indigenous people they have not interacted with, and non-Indigenous people felt the same way.
  • Trust levels rise steeply when people have social contact: 86% of non-Indigenous people expressing trust in First Nations people and 79% of First Nations trusting non-Indigenous people.
  • 80% of the general community support ANZAC Day ceremonies to honour First Nations and non-Indigenous soldiers.
  • 70% of the general community support the establishment of a national day of significance that celebrates First Nations histories and cultures.
  • 60% of First Nations peoples have experienced at least one form of racial prejudice in the past 6 months (52% in 2020, 43% in 2018). This compares with 25% of non-Indigenous people.
“This latest survey provides evidence that support for reconciliation and the Uluru Statement from the Heart remains strong,” said Reconciliation Australia CEO Karen Mundine. “As does mutual trust between First Nations people and non-Indigenous Australians.
“Of particular interest is the steep rise in trust when both groups surveyed by the ARB have a social connection with the other group.
“However, these percentages rise significantly when the respondents were asked the same question about people with whom they had interacted with. Trust levels rose to 86% of non-Indigenous people expressing trust in First Nations people and 79% of First Nations trusting non-Indigenous people.
“These rising levels of trust augur well for change, as we head towards the national referendum on The Voice to Parliament.
“This Barometer continues a long-standing trend of overwhelming support for a national representative Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander body and the comprehensive telling (and teaching) of Australia’s true colonial history.”
Voice, Treaty, Truth.”
Read the full story here.

Image source: ABC Kimberley

Hearing Australia’s action plan to halve the rate of hearing loss in First Nations children by 2029

The most recent National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey found 30 per cent of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander school-aged children had a measured hearing loss in one or both ears.

Chronic otitis media, a middle ear infection and inflammation, is far more frequent in Indigenous children with one in three experiencing the disease.

The Hearing Australia Action Plan for Improving Ear Health and Hearing Outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children is all about activities that prevent hearing loss and collaboration with local Aboriginal communities.

Hearing Australia acting national manager stakeholder relations, First Nations services unit and Wiradjuri woman Sherilee McManus, who is based in Maitland, said the action plan is incredibly important because when kids are starting school and have experienced hearing loss, they haven’t had as much of an opportunity to learn and grow.

Read the full story here.

In another ear health news: Australia’s National Children’s Commissioner Anne Hollonds has welcomed the Commonwealth Government’s new Early Years Strategy as an important step towards prioritising the wellbeing of Australia’s children.

Commissioner Hollonds said: “The Early Years Strategy will be an opportunity for cross-portfolio systems reform, recognising that children and their families do not exist in one policy silo. Rather, their needs stretch across numerous portfolios including health, education, social services, Indigenous affairs, and others.”

Read the full story here.

Dr Kelvin Kong. Photo: Simone De Peak. Image source: RACGP news GP.

Support for high-risk groups after stillbirth and miscarriage

The Hon Ged Kearney MP

Assistant Minister for Health and Aged Care

The Australian Government is providing greater support to ease the heartbreak of stillbirth and miscarriage among higher-risk groups.

From today, $5.1 million is available in grants to organisations that can provide high quality, evidence-based bereavement care nationally for women and families who have experienced stillbirth or miscarriage.

Groups that are at higher risk of stillbirth or miscarriage include First Nations, culturally and linguistically diverse, refugee and migrant communities, as well as women and families living in rural and remote Australia and women and girls younger than 20 years of age.

Every day in Australia, six babies are stillborn and two die within 28 days of birth, equating to around 3,000 perinatal deaths per year. Up to 1 in 5 confirmed pregnancies end in miscarriage before 20 weeks.

Grants are open to organisations that can develop and deliver holistic and individualised bereavement care for women and families in the target population groups across Australia.

Read the full article here.

Youth yarn about how to get over the shame of STI testing 

This video released by YoungDeadlyFree is for youth with the voices of youth!

Shame is something that can stop us from doing the things we need to do to look after our health. However, shame is something that our mob overcome on a daily basis. This video explores how a range of different young people have overcome shame when it comes to taking charge of their sexual health. Get inspired, get motivated and #gettested 

Sector Jobs

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

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

 

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Coalition of Peaks releases first Annual Report

feature tile cover of CoPs Annual Report 2021-2022; text 'First Annual Report released by the CoPs'

Coalition of Peaks releases first Annual Report

The Coalition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peak Organisations (Coalition of Peaks) has released its first Annual Report, outlining progress in implementing the National Agreement on Closing the Gap (National Agreement).

Significant progress is being made against commitments in the Coalition of Peaks Implementation Plan, with the first Annual Report showing:

  • progress on establishment of five policy partnerships and five place-based partnerships
  • development of a number of sector-strengthening plans
  • establishment of three Community Data Project sites, and progress on another one
  • Agreement on the Data Development Plan
  • growth in Coalition of Peaks membership
  • case studies highlighting the successful implementation of the National Agreement across the country, leading to better outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

However, the Annual Report also reveals that progress on Priority Reform Three – transforming mainstream organisations – remains slow, and that more needs to be done.

Scott Wilson, Acting Lead Convener of the Coalition of Peaks, is concerned. “Priority Reform Three is an opportunity to identify, call out, and then address, the institutionalised racism in our mainstream agencies and services”, said Mr Wilson.

Read the full Coalition of Peaks releases first Annual Report – media release.

Great new campaign by VACCHO on early detection and cancer screening

The Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (VACCHO) is calling on the Community to come forward for potentially life-saving cancer screening and health checkups as part of the ‘Don’t Miss a Moment’ campaign launch.

Cancer Council Victoria data also indicates that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Victoria are nearly 2.5 times more likely to die from cancer than non-Aboriginal people.

The reduction in the number of people coming forward for cancer screening adds further cause for concern for VACCHO and has led to the development of the Community focused ‘Don’t Miss a Moment’ initiative.

The ‘Don’t Miss a Moment’ campaign is narrated by proud Wongutha-Yamatji man, staunch advocate, and award-winning performer, writer, and director Meyne Wyatt.

It is recommended that Mob get a health checkup with their GP or Aboriginal health service each year. Health check-ups help you to manage your health, prevent chronic diseases, make sure you are up to date with cancer screening and help make sure you are there for the moments that matter.
Book your health checkup with your GP or Aboriginal health service today.

Marlamanu on-country diversionary program to tackle youth offending in Kimberley

Regional Development Minister Alannah MacTiernan says the McGowan Government’s on-country diversion facility in the Kimberley has reached a major milestone, with Marlamanu Pty Ltd selected to progress delivery of the pilot program for at-risk youth.

A detailed service agreement will now be negotiated with Marlamanu Pty Ltd which will see an Aboriginal-led diversionary program established at the Myroodah cattle station, approximately 112 kilometres south-east of Derby in the West Kimberley. It follows completion of the program design – aimed at providing up to 16 places each year for young men between 14 and 17. Work is underway with agencies – including the Western Australia Police Force and the Department of Communities and Justice – to refine the pathways for referrals to the program, including from the courts.

For more details click here.

Read the full article released by the National Indigenous Times here.

New promising project to tackle hearing loss issues in remote areas 

Newly-graduated Indigenous audiometrists are heading home to the bush, to help tackle a ‘shameful crisis’ of hearing loss. It’s estimated that in some remote communities, up to 90 per cent of children are affected.

Margaret Murray is an Aboriginal Health Worker living in the NSW-Victorian border town of Albury, who knows firsthand about the devastating impacts of hearing infections.

“As a child growing up near Mildura [in northern Victoria] I had a perforated ear,” the Maraura Barkindji woman says.

“Dad had to take me to the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne for surgery,” she says.
“I was lucky to be left with scarring but no permanent hearing loss. But a lot of other children with perforated ears grow up to need hearing aids.”

Read the full story released in SBS News here.

Creating safe spaces for conversations to prevent suicide

Introduction by Croakey: Dharawal and Dharug woman Shannay Holmes writes below about the importance of providing young people with culturally safe tools and language to navigate support and discussions around the topic of suicide.

“It’s time our young mob are supported and equipped with the appropriate tools to be able to support themselves and their peers,” Holmes writes. “I imagine if myself and my friends were taught how to talk about suicide and how to better support each other at school, we may not have had to struggle for as long as we did.”

Holmes works on the Heal Our Way campaign, which aims to provide practical resources to community members to equip them with the skills to have safe conversations around suicide.

Led by Cox Inall Ridgeway in partnership with Aboriginal communities in NSW, health leaders and people who have lived experience of suicide, Heal Our Way is a NSW Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Campaign funded by the NSW Ministry of Health under Towards Zero Suicides (TZS) initiatives.

Read the full story released in Croakey Health Media here

Remote Primary Health Care Manuals

The Remote Primary Health Care Manuals are currently being reviewed and updated and will be launched in February 2023.

For more information click here.

Research Report MJA: Aboriginal people are less likely to survive the year after an ICU admission

Risk of death and 12-month mortality among critically ill patients admitted to the intensive care unit are higher for Indigenous than non-Indigenous people, according to research published today by the Medical Journal of Australia

“Rates of ill-health are higher and  lower for  than for other people in many countries,” wrote the researchers, led by Dr. Paul Secombe, an intensivist at Alice Springs Hospital and Adjunct Lecturer at Monash University.

“After taking the lower median age of Indigenous ICU patients into account, their mortality outcomes are significantly poorer than for non-Indigenous patients.”

The authors concluded that their findings suggested that  may contribute to earlier death among Indigenous Australians, and “consequently to lower life expectancy.”

Read the full story in the Medical Express here.

Sector Jobs

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

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

 

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Stan Grant on knowing how to live well

Image in feature tile is of Stan Grant. Image source: The Monthly.

Stan Grant on knowing how to live well

Wiradjuri and Kamilaroi journalist Stan Grant delivered an impassioned and eloquent keynote address reflecting on the scars of colonisatio at the recent Royal Australian and NZ College of Psychiatrists Congress in Sydney. Grant said that after years of “dragging my history around with me”, which took “an enormous toll”, he decided to leave Australia – a “foreign country, for other people” where he never felt he belonged. “I felt a great sense of liberation, freed from the history of this country and what it does to us, written on our bodies,” he said.

Overseas, reporting on the legacies of “colonisation, empire, dictators and despots, kings appointed by foreign powers”, he recognised in oppressed people, “positioned on the other side of history”, a familiar grief where “only the afflicted know the truth. I saw the eyes of my own family, people for whom all certainty had been removed, who cou;ldn’t believe in the promise of Western liberalism and all it purported to deliver,” he said. Grant reflected on the cumulative trauma of growing up Aboriginal in Australia, culminating for him in a breakdown whilst posted overseas with an “irrepressible surging wave” to end his life. Grant seeing a psychiatrist was very important in his recovery, but absolutely nothing was as important as “standing on my land.”

To view Croakey Health Media article Yindyamarra winhanganha – the wisdom of respectfully knowing how to live well in a world worth living in click here.

You can also watch a video below of Stan Grant delivering a National Reconciliation Week 2022 Keynote Address.

NACCHO CEO welcomes end of cashless debit card

Labor will push ahead with plans to abolish the cashless debit card scheme with Social Services Minister Amanda Rishworth saying last week that she was in discussions to terminate the program, which was a Labor election commitment. She pledged to work with communities to find “better local solutions”. The decision followed an Australian National Audit Office ­report released on Thursday last week which highlighted a lack of evidence to demonstrate the effectiveness of the scheme. “The former Coalition government spent more than $170m on the privatised cashless debit card – money that could have been spent on services locals need,” Ms Rishworth said.

Implemented under the ­Abbott government in 2016, the scheme was designed to encourage socially responsible behaviour by quarantining 80% of a person’s welfare payments on a debit card to prevent it being spent on alcohol and gambling. It was initially introduced in Ceduna, SA, East Kimberley and the Goldfields in WA, and then ­expanded to Bundaberg and Hervey Bay in Queensland. The cost of the program reached $36m in 2020–21, with nearly 17,000 people participating as of February this year.

Pat Turner AM, NACCHO CEO, said the scheme had caused “unnecessary embarrassment” for Indigenous Australians. “I certainly welcome the scrapping of the cashless debit card,” she said. “The Auditor-General’s report confirms what we already knew and why we were so opposed to the scheme. It’s simply poor public policy to run trials as the former government did for five years.”

The above has been extracted from an article by Jess Malcolm’s Cashless welfare card to be folded article published in The Australian on Friday 3 June 2022.

Image source: Crikey, 3 June 2022.

Using culture to turn suicide tide

Rocked by a spate of suicides, Shepparton’s Aboriginal community is using culture to turn the tide It began in October 2021 when a group of Shepparton’s First Nations community members came together in a backyard to figure out how to change the situation on youth suicide rates in town. “We had a cuppa and said, ‘what are we going to do about this?’,” Yorta Yorta woman and founding member of Dunguludja Dana Jean Miller said. “Our kids have been exposed to way too much trauma here, and something needs to be done.” Shepparton is home to the largest Aboriginal community and one of the highest rates of suicide in regional Victoria. Jean Miller said last year the community experienced about seven suicides by youth in just two months. This is when Dunguludja Dana was formed with a purpose to change the numbers. “It’s a Yorta Yorta word for strong pathways or strengthening journeys, and that’s what we want to do, that’s our vision,” Jean Miller said. “It was just about trying to engage our youth and let them know that no matter what life path they’re currently on, there’s always someone that loves them and cares and wants to support them.“ It could be a friend, it could be a cousin, it could be someone they knew in their school, but the impact is a ripple effect.”

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

Each Wednesday, the group run three sessions where First Nations students partake in painting, drawing, charcoal, and burning art – as well as creating possum skin cloaks. Image source: National Indigenous Times.

Undrinkable water, casual racism the reality

Rebecca Davis, a Senior News & Features Writer for MamaMia, has written a lengthy article Undrinkable water and casual racism: The reality of Indigenous health in Australia. In the article Ms Davis includes several accounts from Indigenous women about:

  • undrinkable water contaminated with uranium in Laramba, NT
  • Betty Booth from Doomadgee who died after being given Panadol by the local hospital and told to go home
  • a Melbourne woman routinely soiling herself as her bathroom door is not wide enough for her walker

For her article Ms Davis spoke to Pat Turner, a revered figure; a Gudanji-Arrernte woman with a long history as an Indigenous and women’s rights activist. Aside from being CEO of NACCHO, she was the founding CEO of NITV, and is an advisor to the establishment of an Indigenous voice to government. NACCHO facilitates 144 ACCHOs across the country, bringing comprehensive primary health care to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. It’s not just for Indigenous people – it’s largely run by them too, with more than half of their 6,000-strong staff of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander background.

Speaking with Mamamia from Darwin, Pat reflected on the impact of institutionalised racism that still plagues many state-run hospitals. “Many Indigenous people also discharge themselves against medical advice, which I think is a sign of being unhappy with how they are treated, and not having access to their families,” she says. “There is still a lot of unconscious bias and racism across the board, particularly where you have large numbers of Aboriginal clients, so it’s about getting staff that are more culturally competent. Some of the worst offenders are the nurses. They really have to smarten up their attitudes. They think they know everything, and they can be very direct and rude. A lot of Aboriginal people feel very confronted by that.”

To read the article in full click here.

Feature Image: Children from the remote Indigenous community of Laramba in the Northern Territory, a region affected by undrinkable tap water. Credit: Marianna Massey, Corbis via Getty Images, Mamamia.

Moves to save Coonamble’s Marrabinya program

Petitions are circulating in each of the western NSW communities served by the Marrabinya program as Aboriginal people react to a decision by the Western NSW Primary Health Network (Western PHN) to cease funding the service from the end of 2022. Marrabinya is a Wiradjuri word meaning “hand outstretched” and since 2016, the Aboriginal-run program has acted as brokerage service to assist Aboriginal people with a diagnosed chronic illness to access medical support services, even in the most isolated communities. The priority chronic diseases are heart disease, diabetes, respiratory disease, kidney and liver disease and cancer.

The Western NSW PHN are yet to issue a statement regarding the end of funding for Marrabinya’s program however, Coonamble Aboriginal Health Service CEO Phil Naden told the Coonamble Times that the situation was not all doom and gloom. “A major review was conducted and feedback provided from right around the region,” he said. “Whilst Marrabinya might not continue in its current form the service will not be lost.”

To learn more about the Marrabinya program you can listen to a podcast “Marrabinya – Aboriginal Health in Aboriginal Hands” here. You can also read the May 2022 Marrabinya News, including details of the Save Marrabinya Campaign 2022 here.

To view the Coonamble Times article Moves afoot to save Marrabinya in full click here.

Alarming STD-caused throat cancer

The prevalence of throat cancer caused by a prominent sexually transmitted disease among Indigenous Australians has been laid bare by new global research. University of Adelaide (UOA) researchers human papilloma virus-led throat cancer was 15 times more prevalent in Indigenous Australians than young non-Indigenous Australians, and five times higher than rates found in the US, Brazil, Mexico and Finland.

UOA Indigenous oral health unit director and Yamatji woman Joanne Hedges said Indigenous communities had worked closely with the researchers on the project. “Participants wanted to be part of this HPV project because they wanted to be part of change,” she said. “The theme coming out was, ‘I had a family member pass away with this throat sickness, and I don’t want to happen to any other Nunga in my community or my family’. There was a real strength of participation.”

HPV is normally associated with cervical cancer, but can spread to the throat, head and neck via oral sexual activities, and is increasing at a rapid rate globally. UOA Australian Research Centre for Population Oral Health director Lisa Jamieson said extending the study would allow a deep dive of the knowledge they had already learnt.

To view the National Indigenous Times article Alarming STD-caused Indigenous throat cancer statistic laid bare in new report in full click here.

Lisa Jamieson and Joanne Hedges (inset). Photo: University of Adelaide. Image source: University of Adelaide.

Home Stretch WA supports kids leaving OOHC

The WA State Government has committed $37.2 million to support the Department of Communities state-wide roll out of its Home Stretch WA program over the next three years. Home Stretch WA will support young people who exit the State’s child protection system at 18 years of age, until they turn 21, helping them successfully transition to independence. Research shows young people leaving care are at greater risk of unemployment, homelessness, mental health issues and interacting with criminal justice systems.

The Home Stretch WA program will provide flexible one-to-one individualised support focused on coaching young people towards independence. This support can include to obtain stable accommodation, enrol in further education, progress to work opportunities, identify where to access assistance in the local community, access health services, build support networks and improve financial skills.

The WA Department of Communities is looking forward to working in partnership with Yorganop Association Incorporated (Yorganop) to deliver Home Stretch WA to young Aboriginal people preparing to leave the child protection system  in the metropolitan area. Yorganop’s readiness to deliver Home Stretch WA is built from direct involvement in development of the ‘Nitja Nop Yorga Ngulla Mia’ (our boys and girls are staying home) model that formed part of the Home Stretch WA Trial.

You can view the WA Government Department of Communities article Young people to benefit from the state-wide roll out of Home Stretch WA click here.

Image source: WA.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.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: NDIS workforce critical given high disability rates

feature tile text 'NDIS workforce critical given high rates of disability among First Nations peoples' & rear silhouette view of elderly lady in wheelchair looking up at blue sky & clouds

NDIS workforce critical given high disability rates

NACCHO CEO recently appeared before the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) Joint Committee. In her opening comments, Pat Turner said “the NDIS workforce is an absolutely critical issue for our people and communities, given our high rates of disability. As you are aware, the National Agreement on Closing the Gap demonstrates a commitment from all levels of government to changing the way policies and programs affecting our people are developed and delivered.”

“Shared decision-making between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and government, strengthening the community controlled sector, improving mainstream organisations, and improving collection of and access to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander data are the priority reforms that underpin the national agreement. NACCHO’s submission [to the NDIS Joint Committee] outlines the need for and provides recommendations about how government can support and build a sustainable, community controlled NDIS workforce.”

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are twice as likely to experience a disability as other Australians. Currently, 9.6% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are NDIS participants. However, there is a severe underutilisation of plans by Aboriginal and Torres Strait people nationally when compared to other Australians. A key barrier for many of our people who are currently on NDIS plans is that they are unable to access culturally safe services or, in many cases, any services. I need to make this very clear: this is not just a remote issue but one also faced by our regional and urban communities. To ensure the successful uptake and utilisation of NDIS and disability services, a multidisciplinary and competent workforce is needed to support and provide services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

However, the community controlled care and health sector is facing major workforce challenges where demand will outstrip the supply of suitably skilled and job-ready Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander employees. This shortage will impact access to culturally appropriate, effective and efficient support and assistance needed by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

To access the full transcript of what Pat Turner said at the NDIS Joint Committee click here.

Pat Turner. Image source: Sydney Morning Herald.

Most vaccinated community in Central Australia

The low rate of COVID-19 vaccinations in Indigenous Australians continues to cause concern for politicians desperate to reopen borders, but one community near Alice Springs has turned that on its head with 94% of the eligible population having received at least one dose.

One major reason for the community’s success was the push by Sarah Gallagher, a long-term health worker in the community, who has almost single-handedly persuaded residents to get the jab.  “We’ve seen it everywhere. Our community heard about it, seen the news, it’s everywhere,” she said. “Our community people have been saying, ‘we’ve got to think about ourselves here. This is a good community, we need to go to the clinic and get vaccinated’.”

Health workers who service the community have also credited strong male leadership in the community in the uptake success. Jonathan Doolan, who has lived in Utju for 20 years, said the community had felt fear and uncertainty about COVID. “Some are getting scared of this thing and some really aren’t sure what they need to do,” said Mr Doolan. “We’re giving them the message and people will come to have the needle, have the thing.”

The combined efforts of Ms Gallagher’s commitment to her community and Mr Doolan’s leadership, has led to success, but the formula has proven difficult to replicate in other communities struggling to promote vaccination. “People trust me. I live here in my community and people trust me,” Ms Gallagher said. The health clinic in Utju is run by the Indigenous-controlled Central Australian Aboriginal Congress (CAAC) and not the NT Government, which is the case for some other remote health clinics.

To view the ABC News article in full click here.

Sarah Gallagher & Jonathan Dooley, Areyonga

Sarah Gallagher and Jonathan Dooley have been crucial in encouraging residents of Areyonga to get vaccinated. Photo: Steven Schubert, ABC Alice Springs. Image source: ABC News.

New COVID-19 vax resources from NSW Health

NSW Health have put together a range of updated COVID-19 vaccination resources for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, including:

  • updated sorry business poster and factsheet to reflect new restrictions
  • updated self-isolation rules
  • new community champion vaccination postcards
  • community champion videos: Blake Tatafu; BudjerahCorey Tutt; Lesley Armstrong
  • updated ‘release and recovery from COVID-19’ factsheet with new advice about vaccination for recovered cases.

All the above resources, as well as the social media resources listed below, can be found on the NSW Government website here.

NSW Health will also be hosting another Yarn Up Q&A at 3:00PM Tuesday 26 October 2021 on the NSW Health Facebook page. This series will focus on the facts about COVID-19 vaccination, responding to some of the misinformation circulating through the community. If you have any questions you think would be valuable to include, please let Helen Gardiner, Aboriginal Health COIVD-19 Communications Lead, Centre for Aboriginal Health, NSW Government know by midday this Thursday 21 October 2021 using this email link.

Youth call for action on “missing middle”

Young leaders have released a Call to Action to promote a much stronger role for young Australians in the design of health services to meet the “missing middle” needs of teenagers and young adults in health policy. The Call to Action seeks innovations including the creation of a youth healthcare card, a National Youth Commissioner and education in schools to promote understanding of the health system.

The call flows from the recent Youth Health Forum National Summit which brought together hundreds of advocates and young people from across Australia to discuss the health system challenges experienced by people aged 18 to 30. This age group has been identified in the report Life Transitions and Youth Pathways to Health services report as the “missing middle” in healthcare, experiencing limited engagement in the health sector and worsening outcomes.

“Changes need to be made within the health system to ensure that young people are able to live their healthiest lives. For these changes to be effective and sustainable, we are directly engaging and listening to young health consumers who are most impacted by the system,” the spokesperson for the Youth Health Forum, Roxxanne MacDonald, said.

To view the CHF media release in full click here.

legs of 5 young people sitting with laptops

Image source: Pro Bono Australia.

$93m to extend Indigenous programs

The Morrison Government is investing more than $93 million into 224 organisations to extend a range of Indigenous programs across early childhood, schooling, vocational education and training, and safety and wellbeing projects. Minister for Indigenous Australians, the Hon Ken Wyatt AM, MP, said the funding continues many successful programs that address essential service gaps and meet community needs.

“Our commitment to initiatives that help realise better outcomes for Indigenous Australians is unwavering – this funding will help deliver a raft of critical services, particularly to improve early life outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children.” “224 organisations will receive funding from the Indigenous Advancement Strategy, allowing them to plan and deliver 253 activities and services for Indigenous Australians.

To view Minister Wyatt’s media release in full click here.

7 young Aboriginal kids jumping in the air, grass underfoot & blue sky

Image source: The Australian.

EOIs sought for Project ECHO Steering Group

The COVID-19 pandemic has had an impact on the use of alcohol and other substances and delivery of treatment services across Australia, and has reinforced the key role primary care, and particularly general practice, plays in keeping people well in the community.

GPs often see the impact of alcohol and drug use on people’s wellbeing and are well placed to offer support. Just like other health problems, substance use issues can be treated, with treatment generally more effective if initiated early.

To build confidence and capability of primary care practitioners to support people experiencing alcohol and other drug (AOD) issues, WA Primary Health Alliance (WAPHA) are establishing WA’s first Project ECHO (Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes). Project ECHO is an evidence-based model which places healthcare providers from diverse settings in direct contact with subject matter experts, empowering them to provide best practice care for their local communities.

WAPHA is seeking expressions of interest (EOIs) from GPs and other health professionals to be part of a Steering Group to guide the development and implementation of Project ECHO. The Steering Committee will provide leadership, oversight and direction; monitor progress; progress relevant actions and contribute to project evaluation.

WAPHA is seeking applications from:

  • General Practitioners (with advanced experience and/or an AOD speciality as well as early career practitioners with a special interest in AOD)
  • Aboriginal Health Practitioners
  • Pharmacists
  • Nurses
  • Other Allied Health professionals and
  • Consumers who use AOD services

If this sounds like you then please submit your EOI here by COB Friday 5 November 2021.

For more information about Project ECHO click here.

banner, vector sign text 'Project ECHO'

Indigenous Justice Research Program established

The national Indigenous Justice Research Program (IJRP) has been established as part of the Morrison Government’s commitment to the National Agreement on Closing the Gap. The IJRP will fund academic research relating to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander criminal justice and aim to reduce the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in detention.

Minister for Home Affairs Karen Andrews said closing the gap was vitally important, not just for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples but for all Australians. “This new research program will build a body of evidence to inform improvements to criminal justice polices and responses as they relate to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander individuals interacting with the justice system,” Minister Andrews said. Minister Wyatt said a solid research and evidence base will support all parties to meet and exceed the targets to reduce Indigenous over-representation in the criminal justice system.

To view the media release in full click here.

Calls for national social prescribing scheme

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP), Consumer Health Forum of Australia (CHF) and Mental Health Australia are urging the government to implement a national social prescribing scheme to tackle Australia’s mental health and wellbeing crisis in the 2021 Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook (MYEFO).

Mental ill health is a growing problem in Australia and has been made worse by the COVID-19 pandemic. Since 2017, GPs across Australia have rated mental health as the most common presentation they see as part of the RACGP’s annual Health of the Nation survey. Medicare data also shows the increase in patients accessing mental health services during the pandemic, with services highest in July 2020 when Victoria’s second wave peaked. We also know that approximately 20% of patients consult their GP for what are primarily social problems.

The RACGP, CHF and Mental Health Australia are calling on the Australian Government to support the development of a nationally coordinated scheme dedicated to tackling the problem with innovative local solutions.

Social prescribing is about health and wellbeing support. It involves a health professional supporting a patient to take up non-medical activities and services to supplement conventional healthcare. It aims to address the key risk factors for poor health, including mental health problems, social isolation, and chronic illness. It has been shown to deliver positive health benefits and improved self-care capability.

To view the joint media release click here.

vector images of 18 social activities

Image source: CTA website.

New process for job advertising

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Expanded vaccine choice for all over 60 years

feature tile text 'Expanded COVID-19 vaccine choice now available for all over 60 years' & 62 year old Aboriginal man receiving vax

Feature image source The Conversation: Cecil Phillips, 62, receiving his COVID-19 vaccination by registered nurse, Sam Parimalanathan, at the Aboriginal Medical Service in Redfern. Photograph: Isabella Moore

Expanded vaccine choice for over 60s

The Minister for Health has announced people aged 18 and over are now eligible to receive any COVID-19 vaccine available in Australia. This includes Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca.

Previously, AstraZeneca was the only vaccine available, outside of remote areas, to those aged over 60 years.

The expansion of COVID-19 vaccine choice may help to address the approximately 20% of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population over 60 years who have not yet been vaccinated.

For further information visit the Department of Health’s website here.

DoH banner text 'All 3 vaccines available for people over 18'

Full community control for Palm Island company

This week saw a major step towards self-determination for the Palm Island community with the transition of the Palm Island Community Company (PICC) to full community control. The Queensland Government and the Palm Island Aboriginal Shire Council have now transferred their shareholding in PICC to enable a community-controlled organisation that is fully owned by community members.

PICC has been operating since 2008 and has grown into a large professional organisation delivering a wide range of community services with a workforce of nearly 150 employees, who are overwhelmingly local Palm Islanders. In August, PICC took on responsibility for Palm Island primary health services, amalgamating their existing health centre with the Townsville Hospital and Health Service (THHS) primary health centre to create an integrated community-controlled Aboriginal Medical Service.

The Palm Island Mayor and past chairperson of PICC, Mislam Sam said: “this is a hard-won achievement for the Palm Island community. Our community and our elders and leaders have worked for decades for self-determination, and we are proud to finally have local control over services, especially health, that support our families and employ local people.”

PICC services include:

  • an integrated Aboriginal medical service
  • community services, including in the areas of family well-being, early childhood, healing, disability, child protection, domestic violence, men’s groups, children and youth activities
  • social enterprises, including a mechanics workshop, fuel supply and a community shop.

To view the media release click here.

VACCHO Vaccine Vans hit the road

The Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (VACCHO) have launched dedicated Vaccine Vans. The vans, which will travel through Greater Shepparton and Latrobe Valley, are crucial in making the COVID-19 vaccine available to the Indigenous community who’ve faced barriers accessing the vaccine so far.

“Building on the hard work of ACCHOs across the state – the vans will boost support of COVID-19 vaccine delivery to community members during regional residencies across Victoria over the coming weeks,” said VACCHO CEO Jill Gallagher.

Gallagher stressed the urgent need for this initiative and vaccinating the community given the record high case numbers in the state, and the plans to open up restrictions as vaccination rates improve. “We must be mindful of the fact that risk factors for COVID-19 are disproportionately higher for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people,” she said.

“[This is] due to a combination of factors including pre-existing health concerns, pressing mental health and wellbeing issues, and people living in overcrowded or transient accommodation.”

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

VACCHO building external view, overlaid with VACCHO logo

Pharmacist guidelines for vaping prescriptions

In December 2020, the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) announced that from 1 October 2021, a prescription will be required to access liquid nicotine for inhalation (vaping), following a change to its scheduling.

To manage these legislative changes, the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (PSA), with support from the Commonwealth Department of Health, has developed guidelines and education to support Australian pharmacists through the transition.

Claire Antrobus, Manager, Practice Support and project lead, explained why such support is required. “From today, a prescription will be required to access nicotine vaping products. When nicotine vaping products are prescribed under the Authorised Prescriber Scheme or the Special Access Scheme they can be dispensed through local pharmacies.

“As a result of these legislative changes, we are likely to see patients presenting to pharmacies, to access nicotine vaping products via prescription. PSA has worked with the Therapeutic Goods Administration, the Department of Health’s Tobacco Control Section, Quit Victoria, the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners, the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation, the Pharmacy Guild of Australia and the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists to develop guidelines and education which equips pharmacists with the skills and knowledge to effectively manage the transition.

“These guidelines outline the pharmacist’s role in providing smoking cessation support and key requirements for dispensing nicotine vaping products, including counselling and safety considerations.

To view the full article click here.

chemist counter with vaping fluid packs

Australian manufacturer Liber Pharmaceuticals produces a nicotine vaping product (NVP). Image source: Business News Australia.

Now is the time to be vaccinating

According to the peak Aboriginal health body, NACCHO, the vaccination gap between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and non-Indigenous people is partly due to the low coverage among the younger population.

NACCHO medical adviser, epidemiologist Dr Jason Agostino, said almost 90% of the Indigenous population is under 60, and many of them had only recently become eligible for vaccination. “This is really an issue about immunisations for younger Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people,” Dr Agostino, said. “If we look at the over-60 population, more than 70% have had a first dose nationwide and in ACT, NSW and Victoria it’s about 85%.”

Agostino said he was “quite confident” that the ACT, Victoria and NSW would reach a fully vaccinated rate above 80% for the 12 and over population before the end of October. But he said states which have had very few Covid cases, such as Queensland and WA, should be dramatically lifting their vaccination rates now, to avoid a a situation like the one unfolding in Wilcannia, which now had more than 156 cases in a population of 720 people.

“It’s so important, because starting to lift your vaccination [rates] during an outbreak is not the ideal time,” he said. As you’ve seen in western NSW, in the space of six weeks, they’ve had almost 1,000 cases and they’ve had five deaths in that region. Now is the time to be vaccinating.”

To view The Guardian article in full click here.

Darren Wright receives the first dose of a COVID vaccine at the Ungooroo Vaccination Hub in Singleton. Photo supplied by: Ungooroo Aboriginal Corporation

Darren Wright receives the first dose of a COVID vaccine at the Ungooroo Vaccination Hub in Singleton. Photo supplied by: Ungooroo Aboriginal Corporation. Image source: Muswellbrook Chronicle.

Culturally appropriate NDIS services trial

The WA Government will fund a trial of culturally appropriate services for Aboriginal NDIS participants in the Kimberley. The Broome Regional Aboriginal Medical Service (BRAMS) will undertake research and consult with specialists and Aboriginal people to develop a culturally competent model of allied health service delivery for the region over 18 months.

There will be a particular focus on developing techniques and resources that can be used by allied health professionals who work with Aboriginal NDIS participants. A six-month ‘Community of Practice’ will also be set up to test and learn from the practical tools and resources created by the project.

To access the media statement in full click here.

Aboriginal man and woman having a cup of tea at table

Image source: Synapse Australia’s Brain Injury Organisation.

Aboriginal Family Led Decision Making pilot

Child Protection Minister Simone McGurk has announced Wungening Aboriginal Corporation (Wungening) as the successful Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisation (ACCO) for the Aboriginal Family Led Decision Making (AFLDM) pilot in Mirrabooka.

Through the pilot, Wungening will enlist independent Aboriginal convenors to facilitate a culturally safe process that supports Aboriginal families to make decisions about how to best keep their children safe and connected with their community. AFLDM aims to address the overrepresentation of Aboriginal children in the child protection system by promoting greater participation and self-determination for Aboriginal families and to provide input into decisions regarding their children.

To view the media release click here.
Wungening AC building & logo

Health scholarship opportunity closing soon

The opportunity to apply for a scholarship is closing soon. The scholarship supports students studying in a number of health disciplines including additional scholarship places for Mental Health studies.

Attached are a couple of web banners for your use. If you require any adjustments to the artwork, please contact Sam. The  social media caption is: ‘DON’T MISS OUT! Scholarships for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students studying, or intending to study, entry-level health courses. The scholarships are funded by the Australian Government Department of Health.

Visit here to find out more and apply, closes Monday 11 October 2021.

banner text 'ATSI health scholarship applications open'

Steady pipeline of doctors program

A new locally-led medical program, the first of its kind, could be launched as early as 2023, to build a steady pipeline of doctors into regional, rural, and urban areas in the Northern Territory. Charles Darwin University has joined Menzies School of Health Research (Menzies) in its aspirations to establish the CDU/Menzies Medical Program, as a part of a new Northern Australian Health Workforce Alliance to support the health workforce needs of the Northern Territory and, more broadly, northern Australia. The opportunity to expand general practice and rural medicine training, consultant medical training and health research will be enhanced through such an Alliance.

To view the CDU media release click here and to view a more detailed article click here.

Charles Darwin University sign

Charles Darwin University is joining forces with Menzies School of Health Research to establish a medical program in the NT. Image source: NT 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.

World Cerebral Palsy Day

World Cerebral Palsy Day, marked today Wednesday 6 October, is a movement of people with Cerebral Palsy (CP) and their families, and the organisations that support them, in more than 75 countries. CP affects more than 17 million people worldwide. Another 350 million people are closely connected to a child or adult with CP. It is the most common physical disability in childhood. CP is a permanent disability that affects movement. Its impact can range from a weakness in one hand, to almost a complete lack of voluntary movement:

  • 1 in 4 children with CP cannot talk
  • 1 in 4 cannot walk
  • 1 in 2 have an intellectual disability
  • 1 in 4 have epilepsy.

The World CP DAY movement’s vision is to ensure that children and adults with Cerebral Palsy have the same rights, access and opportunities as anyone else in our society. It is only together, that we can make that happen.

The report Comparing risks of cerebral palsy in births to Australian Indigenous and non-Indigenous mothers concludes that those of Indigenous heritage may be the subject of greater under-ascertainment of CP than those without Indigenous heritage and Indigenous children are at significantly greater risk of CP, particularly postneonatal CP, and their impairments tend to be more severe.

The theme of World CP Day this year is Because every person living with cerebral palsy is a reason to strive for change.

For more information click here.banner text 'World CP Day October 6' green, blue, yellow, vector map of world

COVID-19 vaccine update for GPs webinar

The latest in the Australian Government Department of Health’s series of COVID-19 vaccine updates for GPs webinar will be held from:

11:30am–12:00pm (AEST) tomorrow, Thursday 7 October 2021.

At this webinar, you’ll be provided with the latest information on the vaccine rollout. GPs and all health professionals are welcome.

Joining Professor Michael Kidd AM this week will be Dr Lucas de Toca, First Assistant Secretary, COVID-19 Primary Care Response, Department of Health and Dr Clara Soo
Practice Principal, Hobart Place General Practice and East Canberra General Practice, Canberra.

This week’s GP webinar will have a slightly different look and feel as it will be held via webex. This will enable guests from other locations to join the GP webinar panel. If you’re unable to view this webinar live, you can view it on-demand using the same link, within a few hours of the live stream ending.

When you’re ready to join, use this link.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: QAIHC comments on vax rates

feature tile text 'vulnerable First Nations communities could be at risk of being overwhelmed according to QAIHC' & image of cartoon drawing of two Aboriginal people wearing masks & 'QAIHC' along footer

QAIHC comments on vax rates

Vulnerable indigenous communities could be at risk of being ‘overwhelmed’ by COVID-19 if their vaccination rates continue to dwindle, the Queensland Aboriginal and Islander Health Council (QAIHC) has said.

Modelling based on current vaccination rates for indigenous populations suggests the 80% inoculation target for First Nations Queenslanders won’t be achieved until February 2022. The QAIHC says current health data shows 34.2% of Indigenous Queenslanders have had at least one vaccine dose. The state’s lowest vaccinated Indigenous population is in central Queensland at 17.78% fully vaccinated, with Townsville second last at 19.19%.

With target vaccination rates being set, and the notion of opening the borders to ‘live with the virus’, Queensland’s First Nations communities face the very real threat of being completely overwhelmed by COVID-19, QAIHC chair Matthew Cooke says.

“Targeted investment is needed immediately from both levels of government, otherwise our mob will be left behind when the borders open and be left most vulnerable to this virus”, Mr Cooke said. He says the vaccination gap is a grave cause for concern, particularly as discussions shift to reopening borders.

To view the full article in The West Australian click here.

Aboriginal woman with mask & health worker with mask & face shield

Image source: Yahoo! News website.

Min Wyatt outlines COVID-19 activities

The Minister for Indigenous Australians, the Hon Ken Wyatt MP has outlined a number of activities being undertaken by the Commonwealth to support states and territories, and Indigenous communities against the threat of COVID-19, including the formation of a National Food Security Taskforce. The role of this taskforce is to address food security issues in remote Indigenous communities, and work in close collaboration with states and territories under the National Coordination Mechanism to coordinate responses in a range of sectors. Ensuring a reliable supply of essential goods, groceries, pharmaceuticals and other critical supplies during the COVID-19 pandemic remains a high priority.

The National Indigenous Australians Agency (NIAA) has been working closely with the Department of Health from the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak and, with its regional presence and on-the-ground contacts, has coordinated with other jurisdictions throughout the pandemic. The Minister for Indigenous Australians and NIAA continue to receive correspondence from a range of organisations and individuals regarding COVID-19 and includes this information as part of its ongoing communication with relevant Commonwealth and State and Territory bodies.

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

AUSMAT’s longest deployment on home soil

The Australian Medical Assistance Team, or AUSMAT, is a crack team of emergency disaster responders who deploy overseas providing emergency humanitarian support during major disasters. They never imagined their longest deployment would be on home soil.

Emergency nurse practitioner Angela Jackson has been at the frontline of many AUSMAT international rescue missions but this deployment, although closer to home, is shaping up to be a much bigger challenge. Angie and her team were tasked with providing COVID-19 vaccination support to remote communities that are home to many isolated, vulnerable, and Indigenous Australians.

Regional local health services in the NSW far-western region were faced with the monumental task of covering this vast remote area to provide vaccinations with already pre-pandemic stretched resources.

To view the full ABC News article click here.

two health professionals full PPE country road back of van

Namatjira community vaccine rollout in Dareton, NSW. Image source: ABC News website.

Calls for clean water continue

The WA government is under pressure to ensure remote Aboriginal communities have access to clean drinking water.

WA Shadow Minister for Water James Hayward has called on “the Departments of Water, Communities and Health, to work together cohesively to deliver a program to identify and test drinking water supplies in Aboriginal communities that have been left untested for going on a decade. It is in no way appropriate for a first world country to dismiss a community’s cry to ensure they have clean drinking water.“

Kimberley Labor MP and Yawuru, Nimanburr and Bardi woman, Divina D’Anna said she would “continue to advocate for better quality services to remote communities. It is critical that we provide services to remote communities. I am passionate about ensuring that the people of the Kimberley, especially Aboriginal people in remote communities, are afforded the same opportunities and access to essential services that city people are.”

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

old broken water tap in outback

Image source: National Indigenous Times.

Dementia cases to double by 2058

A major report on dementia from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) was recently release, finding that dementia is the second leading cause of death in Australia and the number of people developing the disease is growing at an alarming rate. It is expected that by 2058, dementia cases will double to 849,300 Australians from the estimated 386,000 – 472,000 people living with dementia in 2021.

The Dementia in Australia report was launched by the Minister for Senior Australians and Aged Care Services, Richard Colbeck on Monday. Also announced at the launch was the establishment of AIHW’s National Centre for Monitoring Dementia. The aim of the Centre is to undertake routine monitoring of dementia, find data gaps and address them, and help inform policy that meets the needs of Australians with dementia.

For people who are Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander, rates of dementia are three to five times higher than non-Indigenous Australians. Due to an ageing Indigenous Australian population, AIHW believes the numbers of dementia among this group will continue to rise in the future.

To read the article in full click here.

Aged care worker Faye Dean (left) is supporting Winnie Coppin (right), who has dementia. Photo: Erin Parke, ABC Kimberley. Image source: ABC News.

New process for job advertising

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

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


dice spelling JOBS resting on keyboard

Stride4Stroke campaign

The Stroke Foundation’s flagship campaign Stride4Stroke is back. For many Australians, the various lockdowns around the country have made keeping fit and active a challenge. That’s why this November you’re invited to join Stride4Stroke your way, wherever you are, and raise vital funds to help prevent, treat and beat stroke.

Get together with friends, colleagues, or family to create a team or go solo.

Ask your friends and family to donate to your online fundraising page. Every conversation and dollar raised will help prevent stroke, save lives and enhance recovery.

Simply select any activity – we’re talking any activity, such as swimming, exercise bike, yoga, walking, running – set your Moving Minutes target, and stride your way this November.

Register here by Friday 15 October 2021 to go in to the draw to WIN your very own Apple Watch for access to the latest in fitness tracking technology.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: First Nations COVID-19 vaccine implementation plan released

feature tile text 'Australian Government releasesCOVID-19 Vaccination Program Implementation Plan: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People', photo of purple gloved hands injecting person's arm

First Nations COVID-19 vaccine implementation plan released

The Australian Government has released its COVID-19 Vaccination Program – Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples Implementation Plan. This Implementation Plan is for the COVID-19 vaccination program for all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples over 18 years of age. This plan has been developed in consultation with the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health sector, and with state and territory governments.

To view the plan click here.cover of Australian Government Department of Health COVID-19 Vaccination Program Implementation Plan: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples

Sydney hospital goes from worst to best

It’s one of the busiest and most esteemed emergency rooms in the country, but for decades some of the most vulnerable have slipped through the cracks. Located in the heart of Sydney’s nightlife district, St Vincent’s Hospital has saved thousands of lives — but it was considered the worst in the state when it came to caring for certain patients. “A high number of Aboriginal people were coming in through our emergency department and were leaving us, not completing their treatment,” said Pauline Deweerd, director of Aboriginal health at the hospital.

Some months, as many as one in three patients left the hospital before receiving the vital care they needed. “It was because of past bad experiences, they didn’t like waiting, and they didn’t like the way we treated them,” Ms Deweerd said. It was a persistent, hard to address problem, even for a hospital that has a reputation for providing top-notch emergency medicine.

But in the middle of a global pandemic the hospital found a solution, and doctors are certain the rest of the country can learn from it. “It’s our attempt at closing the gap for our small part of the health world; we not only brought it to the level of the general population, we made it a little better,” Dr Preisz said.

To view the full ABC News article click here.

Aboriginal Health Manager Scott Daley in scrubs sitting on patient bed at St Vincent's Hospital

Aboriginal Health Manager Scott Daley, St Vincent’s Hospital, Sydney. Photo: Brendan Esposito. Image source: ABC News website.

Former PM urges women to get COVID-19 vaccine

Julia Gillard has had her coronavirus jab, urging everyone – and particularly women – to get vaccinated. The former PM joined Health Minister Greg Hunt and Department of Health secretary Brendan Murphy to be among the first to receive the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccination at a Melbourne clinic on Sunday 7 March 2021. “Me being here today is a visible representation that no matter what side of politics you barrack for, no matter whom you intend to vote for, there is a united message,” Ms Gillard told reporters. “Please get the vaccine. And particularly to Australian women, can I say, please get the vaccine.

She understands that people might feel a little bit anxious, but recommended they get their information from reliable sources, such as the Australian government or from their local health practitioner. “Whether it’s smallpox, measles, mumps, rubella, whooping cough, influenza, and now COVID-19, vaccinations can save lives and protect lives,” Mr Hunt said.

AstraZeneca and Pfizer doses from overseas are being given to frontline health and hotel quarantine workers, as well as aged and disability care residents and staff, as part of phase 1a. The AMA said more than 130 respiratory clinics and over 300 Aboriginal community controlled health service sites will support the phase 1b rollout.

To view the full SBS News article click here and to listen to a Julie Gillard urging Australians to get the COVID-19 vaccine click here.

portrait photo of ex-PM Julia Gillard

Former Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard. Image source: SBS News website.

Umoona Tjutagku frontline staff receive COVID-19 vaccine

“South Australia’s economic and health response to the COVID-19 threat has been world-leading, and we are focused on working with our health experts to deliver a safe and quick roll out of the vaccines,” SA Premier Marshall said. “This is the biggest peacetime operation in our state’s history, and a big plank in our plan to keep South Australia safe and strong. “The roll out is happening right across the State, with our three key hubs in the north, south and centre of Adelaide all operational, and our regional hubs also progressing .”

Minister Wade said the rollout continues to expand into regional areas with 240 doses of the vaccine arriving at Coober Pedy Hospital today.

“Frontline staff of the Coober Pedy Health Service, Umoona Tjutagku Aboriginal Health Service and Umoona Aged Care as well as aged care residents will receive their COVID-19 vaccine over the next four days.  It is an excellent example of cooperation across all sectors of Health and Aged Care in the Eyre and Far North Local Health Network, SA Minister for Health and Wellbeing Stephen Wade said.

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

two Aboriginal health workers at Umoona Tjutagku Health Service AC checking medicine box

Image source: Umoona Tjutagku Health Service Aboriginal Corporation website.

Over 55s in next phase of COVID-19 vaccine rollout

More GPs and health clinics will be involved in the vaccine rollout every week from March 22, as the mass COVID-19 vaccination program enters its next phase. Federal Health Department secretary Brendan Murphy says phase 1b of the vaccine rollout will include adults based on their vulnerability to getting COVID-19. “[It] will involve the over 80s who are most at risk as a general group, then the over 70s, and those who are immunocompromised. We will have our Indigenous Australians over 55 as well as frontline emergency service and defence workers.”

The staged commencement of general practices will be complemented by GP-led respiratory clinics and Aboriginal community controlled health services. The AMA said more than 130 respiratory clinics and over 300 Aboriginal community controlled health service sites will support the phase 1b rollout.

To view the full SBS News article click here.

Aboriginal woman and man both 50+ years

Image source: AbSec – NSW Child, Family and Community Peak Aboriginal Corporation website.

Professor Langton talks about the COVID-19 vaccine 

Professor Marcia Langton AO has warned of the ongoing dangers of COVID-19, the effectiveness of available vaccines and the importance of getting vaccinated as soon as possible.

You can view the short video and transcript here.

snapshot of Professor Marica Langton AO The Uni of Melbourne video for DoH on COVID-19 importance, standing in park with trees in background

Professor Marcia Langton AO, The University of Melbourne.

Pain treatment and opioid use – have your say!

NACCHO is working on a project to create some support materials for pain management and the use of opioid medicines, including for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and is looking for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people consumers and health professionals to take part in group discussion to understand the important issues so that the materials made can be useful.

If you are a health consumer and experience pain and use opioids or are interested in pain management as a practitioner in your ACCHO we invite you to contribute to this project. NACCHO will provide financial compensation for your participation.

To apply or learn more please contact Fran Vaughan at NACCHO medicines@naccho.org.au.

bottles of tablets & blister packs

Image source: NPS Medicinewise website.

System must be held accountable for deaths in custody

Responding to news that two Indigenous people died in custody in NSW in the past week, Amnesty International Australia Indigenous Rights Lead Nolan Hunter said: “We’re coming up to the 30 year anniversary of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths In Custody (RCIADIC) and it feels as though very little has changed. For example, recommendation 165 called for the screening and removal of hanging points that could be used for self-harm; now nearly 30 years later, we hear of an Indigenous woman who used such a hanging point to tragically take her own life. Here we have two tragic deaths in custody and the Corrective Services Commissioner Peter Severin claims the system can be accountable, while not making these tragedies public.”

To view Amnesty International’s media quote in full click here. and a related article in The Sydney Morning Herald here.

crosses in row on grass with Aboriginal flag painted on them & words Black Deaths In Custody Cross For Loss

Image source: ABC News website.

World Kidney Day

Kidney disease is a non-communicable disease (NCD) and currently affects around 850 million people worldwide. One in ten adults has chronic kidney disease (CKD). Being diagnosed with kidney disease can be a huge challenge, both for the patient and those people around them. Its diagnosis and management, particularly in advanced stages of kidney disease, impacts severely upon their lives by reducing their, and that of family and friends, ability to participate in everyday activities like work, travel and socialising whilst causing numerous problematic side effects  – e.g. fatigue, pain, depression, cognitive impairment, gastrointestinal problems and sleep problems.

This year World Kidney Day continues to raise awareness of the increasing burden of kidney diseases worldwide and to strive for kidney health for everyone, everywhere. Specifically, the World Kidney Day Steering Committee has declared 2021 the year of “Living Well with Kidney Disease”. This has been done in order to both increase education and awareness about effective symptom management and patient empowerment, with the ultimate goal of encouraging life participation.

When compared to non-Indigenous Australians, Indigenous Australians

  • Are more than twice as likely to live with biomedical markers of chronic kidney disease – representing 1 in 5 Indigenous Australian adults
  • Experience an increased prevalence of significant medical co-morbidities
  • Have a median onset of ESKD around 30 years younger
  • Are almost 4 times as likely to die with CKD as a cause of death
  • Have incidence rates of renal replacement therapy (RRT) 8 – 9 times greater
  • Are less likely to receive dialysis in a home setting (either peritoneal or haemodialysis)
  • Are less likely to receive a kidney transplantation
  • Have worse outcomes from transplantation
  • Are more likely to live in very remote or remote areas which is associated with poorer health outcomes
  • Experience a greater psycho-social impact of their disease

For further information on World Kidney Day Thursday 11 March 2021 click here.

Aboriginal painting titled My Kidney Journey by Inawinytji Williamson, a Pitjantjatjara and Yankunytjara Woman and kidney patient

My Kidney Journey by Inawinytji Williamson, a Pitjantjatjara and Yankunytjara woman and kidney patient. Image source: World Kidney Day website.

2021 Indigenous Wellbeing Conference

The Australian & New Zealand Mental Health Association (ANZMHA) has announced details of its new conference, the 2021 Indigenous Wellbeing Conference to take place in Cairns from 7–8 October 2021.

Its theme will be “Honouring Indigenous Voices & Wisdom: Balancing the System to Close the Gap” and will showcase a high calibre of keynote speakers and presenters, covering four vital topics: (1) Promoting Wellness, (2) Social, Emotional & Cultural Determinants, (3) Community Care & Social Recovery and (4) Service Care & Recovery.

With a vision to “shine light on the key challenges in Indigenous communities and address the past and present issues contributing to inequities in mental health treatment and care,” the conference is set to enlighten, educate, and share the hard truths amongst keynote speakers, presenters and attendees.

For more information about the conference and to register click here.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health Research Alerts : Download @AIHW Report Indigenous primary health care results : Our ACCHO’s play a critical role in helping to improve the health of our mob

 ” Comprehensive and culturally appropriate primary health care services play a key role in improving the health and wellbeing of Indigenous Australians through prevention, early intervention, health education, and the timely identification and management of physical and psychological issues. “

Download the 77 Page AIHW Report HERE

Indigenous-primary-health-care-results-from-the-OSR-and-nKPI-collections

Primary health care organisations play a critical role in helping to improve the health of Indigenous Australians.

In 2018–19:

To this end, the Australian Government provides funding through the IAHP to organisations delivering Indigenous-specific primary health care services (referred to hereafter as organisations).

These organisations, designed to be accessible to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander clients, are administered and run by:

  • Aboriginal community-controlled health organisations (ACCHOs)
  • state/territory/local health services
  • non-government organisations (NGOs), such as women’s health services (a small proportion of services).

They vary in size, location, governance structure, length of time in operation, workforce composition, sources of funding, the services they offer, the ways in which they operate (for example, stand-alone or part of a consortium), and the needs of their clients.

What they all share in common is a holistic approach to meeting the needs of their Indigenous clients, which often involves addressing a complex mix of health conditions.

Each organisation provides contextual information about their organisation to the OSR once each financial year (covering the period July–June). The OSR includes all activities of the funded organisations, regardless of the percentage of those activities funded by IAHP.

This chapter presents a profile of organisations delivering Indigenous-specific primary health care services, including staffing levels, client numbers, client contacts, episodes of care and services provided. It excludes data from organisations that received funding only for maternal and child health services.

Trends over time are presented where possible, noting that the organisations providing data can vary over time which may limit comparability for some purposes (see Technical notes and Glossary for more information). Also, in 2018–19, the OSR collection underwent significant change and was scaled back to include only ‘core’ items. Plans are underway to reintroduce key items in a staged approach over the next few years.

The following boxes show key results for organisations providing Indigenous-specific primary health care in 2018–19.

Clicking HERE will go to more information on the selected topic.

%d bloggers like this: