NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: NACCHO-RACGP National Guide user review

NACCHO-RACGP National Guide user review

NACCHO and RACGP are keen to hear from members of primary healthcare teams to help create a fourth edition of the National guide to a preventive health assessment for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people that best meets your needs and supports effective preventive healthcare that is valued by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients and communities.

The National Guide is part of a suite of resources developed by NACCHO and the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners which aim to support health promoting and disease preventing activities that are valued by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

By having your say in this 7-minute survey, you’ll be helping NACCHO and RACGP to understand how you are using the 3rd edition of the National Guide, what suggestions you have for future content, the format of the 4th edition and ideas that can support implementation. Your feedback will support development of the fourth edition of the National Guide due for publication in the second half of 2023.

If you have any questions about this survey or the NACCHO-RACGP Partnership Project, you can contact RACGP Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health using this email.

This anonymous and confidential survey can be completed on your smart phone, tablet or computer and is open from Tuesday 24 May 2022 until midnight Monday 13 June 2022. To complete the survey click here.

Binjilaanii founder Midwife of the Year

Winners of the 2022 HESTA Australian Nursing & Midwifery Awards have been announced. Now in their 16th year, the national awards recognise Australia’s nurses, midwives, nurse educators, researchers and personal care workers for their contributions to improving health outcomes. Each of the winners received $10,000, courtesy of ME – the bank for you, for professional development or to improve services or processes in the workplace.

Melanie Briggs, Waminda South Coast Women’s Health & Welfare Aboriginal Corporation, Binjilaanii Maternity Services, Nowra, NSW was awarded Midwife of the Year in recognition of her tireless work to improve First Nations’ maternal and infant health. A descendant of the Dharawal and Gumbaynggirr peoples, Melanie is the Director and Founder of Binjilaanii, the first Aboriginal-led maternity model of care in Australia. She is also a Senior Midwife at Waminda South Coast Women’s Health and Welfare Aboriginal Corporation.

Briggs said she was honoured to hear she had been named Midwife of the Year. “Being recognised and being an Aboriginal midwife and caring for women on Country is a privilege and I feel incredibly proud,” she said. “My team should be here standing here with me. This award is in recognition of the amazing work our team and organisation do in the community to ensure that our First Nations mums and bubs receive the best start to life.”

Briggs is renowned for her strong advocacy, implementing the Waminda Birthing on Country Model. The model incorporates culture into maternity care to improve outcomes for First Nations women and babies. Her vision is to see Aboriginal women birthing on their homelands, practising traditional lore and continuing cultural connections to Country for their baby and their families. “Practising culture and working with First Nations mothers and supporting women on that journey during pregnancy is so important for us; it is empowering for our women as it brings incredible outcomes — seeing that is the most rewarding part of my job,” she said.

Briggs plans to use the $10,000 prize money to conduct further research and embed cultural practices into the Birthing on Country model of care.

To view the Hospital and Healthcare article HESTA nurses and midwives awards — winners announced in full click here.

Midwife Melanie Briggs holds newborn Talekai during a special cultural ceremony. Photo: Naomi Locke Photography. Image source: ABC News.

Culturally safe stroke screening needed

Professor Ben Freedman, Director of External Affairs at the Heart Research Institute and founder of AF-SCREEN International Collaboration is warning revision of guidelines to screen Aboriginal people for atrial fibrillation (AF), a leading cause of stroke, is needed to help prevent cardiovascular disease in this at-risk population.

Prof Freedman said research shows Indigenous Australians are experiencing catastrophic strokes at a much younger age than other Australians. AF occurs more commonly in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people at an earlier age, and when AF is found earlier, the risk of stroke is much higher than for non-Aboriginal people.

“We’re look­ing at intro­duc­ing life-sav­ing screen­ing for Aus­tralians aged over 65 but that’s too late for half of Abo­rig­i­nal suf­fer­ers. We’re call­ing on cul­tur­al­ly-spe­cif­ic screen­ing guide­lines that will pro­tect this at-risk pop­u­la­tion from an ear­li­er age,” Prof Freed­man said.

Yesterday Professor Freedman is travelled to Armidale with a team led by Dr Kylie Gwynn to take part in a combined health screening program at the Armajun Aboriginal Health Service. Dr Gwynne and Professor Freedman and the team will be using a handheld ECG device which they successfully trialled in Aboriginal health services around Australia previously.

To view The National Tribune article Leading Australian heart expert to improve Indigenous health in full click here.

Rapid skin infection test for First Nations kids

A rapid test to detect antibiotic-resistant skin infections in Aboriginal children could be a step closer, thanks to support from the WA Government’s Future Health Research and Innovation Fund (FHRIF). Telethon Kids Institute and The University of WA researcher, Dr Tim Barnett, has been awarded a FHRIF Translation Fellowship to lead a research project to tackle the burden of skin disease in Aboriginal children. It will aim to develop a rapid point-of-care diagnostic test for antibiotic-resistant Strep A and Staph aureus bacteria, which would fast track accurate treatment.

Dr Barnett said untreated skin infections from both Strep A and Staph aureus bacteria cause significant health problems for young Aboriginal people. “Half of all Aboriginal children suffer from the burden of skin infection, which can lead to severe illness including blood infections and autoimmune diseases like Rheumatic Heart Disease,.” he said. “To combat this, we need to be able to identify resistant infections early for alternative antibiotics to be prescribed.”

84% of Aboriginal children are diagnosed with skin sores caused by Strep A and Staph aureus before their first birthday. Dr Barnett said antimicrobial resistance from regular antibiotic use was common in remote Aboriginal communities but can be well-managed if there is a fast diagnosis.

To view the University of WA article Funding for rapid test to detect antibiotic-resistant skin infections in Aboriginal children in full click here.

Dr Tim Barnett, Telethon Kids Institute and The University of Western Australia researcher. Image source: The University of WA website.

Labor’s First Nations health promises

An article Health promises we must hold Anthony Albanese published yesterday has looked at promises Albanese and his party made during the election campaign including a commitment to training “500 new First Nations health workers, increasing access to lifesaving dialysis treatment for those living with chronic kidney disease and expanding efforts to eradicate rheumatic heart disease in remote communities”. The funding promises include:

  • $52.9 million for a First Nations Health Worker Traineeship Program, following a co-design process with the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO), Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations (ACCHOs) and community-controlled registered training organisations. Traineeships will be rolled out over 4 years, with 100 new trainees starting in the first 2 years of the program, increasing to 150 in the later 2 years;
  • $45 million for better renal services in the city and bush, including $30 million for up to 30 four-chair dialysis units in urban and remote locations across the country, and $15 million for small scale water infrastructure projects that improve access to clean water critical for dialysis; and,
  • $13.5 million to help eradicate rheumatic heart disease, including $12 million to double current federal funding to combat rheumatic heart disease, and $1.5 million to fund portable echo-cardio machines and screening efforts.

To view the Insight article Health promises we must hold Anthony Albanese to click here.

Image source: The New Daily.

Pastor Willie Dumas on COVID-19 vax

In this video developed by the Australian Government Department of Health (DoH), Pastor Willie Dumas from Tweed Heads, NSW, says that the COVID-19 vaccines are here to bring hope and solutions to our lives and invites his mob to yarn with their local healthcare worker and get vaccinated today.

In the video Paster Dumas says “COVID-19 vaccinations bring security and safety. They’re a way to help our Mob and all of humanity. There’s a lot of misunderstanding about what COVID is, and what the vaccine is. Which leads to a lot of fear but the vaccines are here to bring hope and solutions to our lives. It’s only our prejudices that can stand in the way. So, yarn with your local healthcare worker – and get vaccinated.”

For further information visit the Australian Government DoH COVID-19 vaccination – Pastor Willie Dumas shares his COVID-19 message (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people) webpage here.

Tackling Indigenous Smoking video resources

Apunipima Cape York Health Council, Cairns, Queensland, has developed a Tackling Indigenous Smoking (TIS) video resource package. The videos (including the one below), created by the Apunipima Cape York Health Council TIS Team feature community members from Napranum, Queensland discussing their quit smoking journeys:

You can access the Apunipma Cape York Health Council website here; their TIS webpage here; and their contact details here.

Cultural considerations in SEWB support

Emerging Minds has released a recording of its webinar Cultural considerations in the social and emotional wellbeing support provided to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and families. The webinar aims to increase health practitioners’ understanding of the significance of cultural identity when working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and families, and has the following learning outcomes:

  • outline the importance of cultural identity for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children
  • describe self-determination when working alongside Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families
  • identify strategies and resources that support the cultural needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and families at an individual, family, community and organisational level.

The webinar was facilitated by Dana Shen, Aboriginal Cultural Consultant, with an interdisciplinary panel of experts including  Adele Cox, SNAICC Sector Development Manager, and Tricia Nagel, Psychiatrist and Senior Researcher.

You can access the Emerging Minds website, including a link to the webinar here.

New process for job advertising

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

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

Gayaa Dhuwi Australia virtual conference

Gayaa Dhuwi (Proud Spirit) Australia (GDPSA) are extremely excited to announce the first ever Gayaa Dhuwi (Proud Spirit) Australia Conference, which will be held over two days from Tuesday 7- Wednesday 8 June 2022. The theme for the 2022 Gayaa Dhuwi (Proud Spirit) Australia Conference is ‘Keeping Our Spirit Strong’.

The theme #KeepingOurSpiritStrong is an acknowledgment to the achievements of the organisation in building a national peak body for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander social and emotional wellbeing, mental health, and suicide prevention, as well as the achievements of the sector and their initiatives contributing to strengthening approaches and access to mental health care. It also draws on the challenges our communities have faced over the past three years with COVID-19 and natural disasters, and our resilience to keeping a strong spirit in times of isolation and worry.

The conference will be an entirely FREE to attend. Registrations will go live within the week, so make sure you save the dates in your calendars and set your reminders so you don’t miss out on this innovative and exciting virtual event! For further information on this event and how you and your organisation can get involved, please contact Ethan French using this email link.

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Mental health response to disasters

feature tile text 'to be effective, mental health response to disasters must be culturally informed' Cabbage Tree Island ATSI residents evacuating homes

Image in feature tile is of Cabbage Tree Island residents preparing to evacuate their homes during flooding. Photo: Tracey Nearmy, AAP. Image source: The Conversation.

Mental health response to disasters

Kabi Kabi and Australian and South Sea Islander psychologist, Ms Kelleigh Ryan and other First Nations experts spoke on SBS NITV radio over the weekend about how in order to be effective, the mental health response to disasters must be culturally informed.

Ms Ryan explained that the system that’s currently in place is not set up to provide effective support, resulting in inadequate cultural competency training leading to pervasive and ongoing life-threatening consequences for First Nations peoples, including chronic poor health, high psychological stress and high suicide and incarceration rates.

“These issues are compounded in times of high stress, such as when dealing with the aftermath of natural disasters,” Ms Ryan said. February and March 2022 saw extreme flooding in Queensland and NSW that devastated entire communities, with towns on Bundjalung Country, including Lismore, Coraki and Cabbage Tree Island, some of the hardest hit.

To listen to the SBS NITV interview in full click here.

Kelleigh Ryan - Australian Psychological Association (APS) Fellow

Kelleigh Ryan – Australian Psychological Association (APS) Fellow. Image source: ABC News.

Dr Casey joins HTA reference committee

The Health Technology Assessment (HTA) Review Reference Committee announced yesterday, is tasked with driving major reforms to shape the future of Australia’s health system and provide faster access to novel medicines for patients. The Committee includes stakeholders from Government, industry, the health sector and the patient community.

The independently chaired Committee, will undertake the first major review of the HTA system in 30 years. The HTA Review will focus on medicines, biotherapeutics, and vaccines and will also include any related diagnostic tests and medical devices.

In welcoming NACCHO’s Deputy CEO Dr Dawn Casey PSM as one of two patient advocates appointed to the Committee, Medicines Australia Chair, Dr Anna Lavelle said “The First Nations voice from NACCHO is vital. The outcomes must lead to health system improvement and meet future patient needs and demands,”

To view the Health Industry Hub article Patient advocacy group and Medicines Australia set eyes on bold reform as HTA Review Reference Committee announced in full click here.

NACCHO Deputy CEO, Dr Dawn Casey PSM. Image Source: AIDA.

Formal representation in aged care

The Federal Government has allocated $14.8 million over three years to ensure aged care organisations can continue supporting and advocating for older people during a period of significant change and reform of the aged care system.

Minister for Senior Australians and Aged Care Services, Richard Colbeck, said “we must have a deep understanding of the views, the wishes and the concerns of our diverse communities. It is vital that people with dementia, culturally and linguistically diverse communities, LGBTQI+ individuals and communities, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, gerontologists and associated health professionals continue to be well represented.”

The Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (VACCHO), acting on behalf of the National Advisory Group for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Aged Care (NAGATSIAC) is one of the seven aged care consumer peak bodies being funded from 1 July 2022. Funding will also support the establishment of a National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Ageing and Aged Care Council (NATSIACC) to formalise representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in aged care.

To view Senator Richard Colbeck’s media release in full click here.

Germanus Kent House resident Bertha Linty and care worker Victoria Gardener

Germanus Kent House resident Bertha Linty and care worker Victoria Gardener. Image source: Aged Care Guide.

Help improve how pharmacists provide services

Have your say – help improve how pharmacists provide services

NACCHO is working to make the guidelines for pharmacists working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples better.

We want to understand from you how pharmacists and pharmacies can be culturally safe and give the best care to you and your community.

Click here to complete the online survey.

Please pass this information on to any other Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander people who would be interested in completing the survey.

Remote NT drinking water concerns

Laramba is a remote Aboriginal community, roughly 205 kms west of Alice Springs, that is home to about 300 people. Its water comes from a bore, and uranium occurs naturally in the area. Laramba resident Stanley Fletcher is worried that long-term exposure to the community’s drinking water is making people sick.

A 2020 Power and Water report found the community’s water was contaminated with 0.052 milligrams per litre of uranium, more than three times the concentration limit recommended in Australia’s drinking water guidelines.

Professor Paul Lawton, a kidney specialist with the Menzies School of Health Research, is leading a study to determine whether drinking contaminated water is contributing to health issues. “In remote NT communities, there are great concerns about the quality of drinking water right across the Territory,” Professor Lawton said. “Almost all remote communities are reliant on bore water and, as a result, there are concerns that groundwater is being exposed to large amounts of minerals, particularly heavy metals.”

To view the ABC News article Concerns about drinking water quality in ‘almost all’ remote NT communities. What can be done about it? in full click here.

Laramba resident Stanley Fletcher holding baby

Laramba resident Stanley Fletcher tries to avoid drinking water from the tap whenever he can. Photo: Isaac Nowroozi. Image source: ABC News.

Project to detect diabetes in pregnancy 

A ground-breaking project set up to protect the health of Aboriginal mothers and their families in rural communities by optimising the screening and management of hyperglycaemia in pregnancy has received a $3.2 million funding boost from the Medical Research Future Fund.

Professor Julia Marley, a Senior Principal Research Fellow from The University of WA’s Medical School and the Rural Clinical School of WA, is chief investigator of the ORCHID Study – a collaboration between the Rural Clinical School of WA, Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Services (KAMS) and their member services, Diabetes WA and WA Country Health Services. In welcoming the funding, Professor Marley said diabetes disproportionately impacts the lives of Aboriginal people, with predisposition beginning in pregnancy.

To view the University of WA article Major funding boost for detecting diabetes in pregnancy in rural communities in full click here.

From left, Emma Jamieson (Research Associate, RCSWA), Professor Julia Marley (Senior Principal Research Fellow, RCSWA), Janelle Dillon (Midwife and Diabetes educator at Bega Garnbirringu Health Service), Erica Spry (Research Fellow, RCSWA and Research Officer, KAMS

From left, Emma Jamieson (Research Associate, RCSWA), Professor Julia Marley (Senior Principal Research Fellow, RCSWA), Janelle Dillon (Midwife and Diabetes educator at Bega Garnbirringu Health Service), Erica Spry (Research Fellow, RCSWA and Research Officer, KAMS). Image source: The University of WA website.

RACGP urges action on smoking

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) has urged the federal Government to set ambitious goals and act decisively to reduce tobacco use across the nation. It comes following the college’s submission to the Government’s draft National Tobacco Strategy 2022-2030 (“the Strategy”).

Among its recommendations the RACGP is calling for a targeted approach for different populations, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and other high-risk groups, to help achieve lower smoking rates

RACGP President Professor Karen Price said “We need to consider how to best reach those groups, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, who are using tobacco at higher rates compared to the rest of the population. I think part of the answer here lies in culturally appropriate resources to really zero in on populations who have been left behind in the general population decline in smoking prevalence. The RACGP also strongly supports funding programs for and by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, noting that funding appears to have declined where it is needed most.”

To view the RACGP media release in full click here.

Aboriginal man's hand on wooden rail holding cigarette

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.

2nd Australasian COVID-19 Conference

The 2nd Australasian COVID-19 Conference hosted by the Australasian Society for HIV, Viral Hepatitis and Sexual Health Medicine (ASHM), is being held in Sydney from Thursday 21 to Friday 22 July 2022 and will showcase researchers from an array of disciplines, specialist clinicians, epidemiologists and community members who have developed new and harnessed existing tools to comprehensively address prevention, treatment and management of COVID-19/SARS-COV-2 and evolving challenges presented.

To support the conference ASHM are extending invitations to submit abstracts. Abstracts can go towards delivering an oral presentation or a poster presentation at the conference and is a great opportunity to share the amazing work your staff/services do, or share innovative models developed in the ACCHO sector, others in mainstream can learn from. For those who submit abstracts and are successful, NACCHO and ASHM can support costs to attend (travel, accommodation etc).

One of the conference themes addresses the social, political, and cultural issues shaping responses to the pandemic responses as well as COVID-19 prevention, treatment, and care, in the Australasian region, and it would be great to share some of the great work that’s happened and continues to happen in the ACCHO space relating to the COVID response.

The deadline to submit abstracts is Sunday 24 April 2022. You can access the abstract guidelines here and an abstract template here. If you have any questions or would like to chat more about submitting an abstract, please don’t hesitate to reach out to Megan Campbell using this email link or Edan Campbell-O’Brien using this email link. NACCHO really would love to showcase our sector in these large mainstream forums, so please forward on to services if they’re interested and let us know if you’d like to set up a follow up discussion to discuss further.

On a related note, ASHM are also hosting the Australasian Viral Hepatitis Conference from Sunday 29 May to Tuesday 31 May in Brisbane (QLD). The registration deadline closes on Sunday 1 May 2022please get in touch if you’d like to find out more.

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Out of sight – chronic overcrowding

Image in feature tile from ABC News article Out of sight.

Out of sight – chronic overcrowding

In the crowded homes of the NT’s remote communities, residents are trying to keep their hopes of a better future alive. On most afternoons in the community of Rockhole, NT’s third-biggest town, about 340 kilometres south of Darwin, Evelyn Andrews can be found holding court in her front yard, sat beneath the shade of a tree. At house number 21, she shares her home with between 10 and 15 other people. “We love it in the community, we’ve got the river right there and the kids are safe,” she says. “But we need some more houses.”

Dr Simon Quilty, who has worked in medicine in the NT for over 20 years, says “the consequences of overcrowding on health are really quite profound”. “When people live in very close proximity in very warm houses that disconnect from electricity all of the time and often have serious problems with plumbing … then it is the ideal environment for the spread of infectious diseases,” he says. “I would say that housing circumstances for Indigenous people in the Northern Territory are by far and away the most significant driver of poor health outcomes universally.”

In a submission to the NT government’s 2016 inquiry into housing repair and maintenance on town camps, the Aboriginal-owned and operated Kalano Community Association, who manage housing in Rockhole, listed a number of conditions hampering its progress. These included “overcrowding and homelessness”, “a large backlog of repairs and maintenance”, “the condition of some housing being uninhabitable” and a “lack of land availability for the construction of new accommodation units within the Katherine township and [surrounds].”

To view the ABC News article in full click here.

5 women, two toddlers one room of house in Rockhole

Image source: ABC News.

Funds for IUIH Early Childhood Wellbeing Program

Queensland is closing the gap on early childhood development under a $1.4m wellbeing program for Australia’s biggest and fastest growing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population in the state’s SE corner. On National Close the Gap Day last week Queensland Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships Minister Craig Crawford announced funding for the Institute for Urban Indigenous Health (IUIH) – one of Queensland’s largest Indigenous-controlled health organisations – to establish a local Early Childhood Wellbeing Program. “Queensland’s Closing the Gap commitment includes targets focusing on life expectancy, healthy birthweight, early childhood education attendance and early development,” Mr Crawford said.

IUIH CEO Adrian Carson said the funding “will build on the proven Birthing in Our Community (BiOC) model of care to continue supporting families through the early years. We know that strong families require us to support our people right across the life course and that journey starts with supporting Mum and Dad during pregnancy. We are now able to continue to support the family through the early years and into early childhood education,’’ he said. The Early Childhood Wellbeing Program will support positive health, social and wellbeing initiatives for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mothers and children up to three years of age, including through comprehensive primary health care, early learning activities, playgroups and intensive support for families in priority need.

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

Image source: IUIH website.

Important COVID-19 vax updates

The Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services (ACCHS) Bulletin and associated information was released last week, on Tuesday 15 March 2022. The documents contain important updates on stock management and CVAS functionality changes as well as the results from the COVID-19 communication materials survey conducted between 12–20 February 2022 . You can access the documents by clicking on these links:

COVID-19 Vaccine Roll-out ACCHS update 15 March 2022

COVID-19 Vaccine Ordering System (CVAS) Ordering Amounts

Update of COVID-19 Vaccine Ordering System

COVID-19 communication materials survey findings March 2022

If you have any questions or queries, please do not hesitate to contact NACCHO using this email or the Commonwealth Department of Health using this email.

Image source: AMA website.

First Nations people and stroke

Australia’s First Nations people are 1.3 times more likely to die from a stroke than non-Indigenous people and are hospitalised 1.6 times more. Whether it’s in the statistics or stories of people affected by stroke, the existing gap in stroke outcomes is unacceptable.

Charlotte, a proud Wiradjuri woman, has shared her story through the Stroke Foundation’s Young Stroke Project which helps to shine a light on this issue. Charlotte is a mother of four and was working a double shift on the day of her stroke in 2018. Charlotte had a pounding headache, extreme fatigue and then noticed that her arm felt heavy and she could not lift it. She went to her local health clinic who called for an ambulance immediately. After the 23 hour wait, it was good treatment. I had doctors tend to my current situation, which was pretty good because I didn’t want to leave hospital knowing that I live in a rural area. I have no doctor here.

You can access the Stroke Foundation EnableMe newsletter with Charlotte’s story here and watch Charlotte tell her story in the video below.

National strategy to eliminate cervical cancer

On 17 November 2021 the Australian Government announced the development of a collaborative National Cervical Cancer Elimination Strategy (the Strategy), led by the Australian Centre for the Prevention of Cervical Cancer (ACPCC). This project will inform the Australian Government Department of Health’s future activities to eliminate cervical cancer as a public health problem in Australia by 2035.

The Strategy will be informed by a series of consultations with experts, representatives of priority communities, and other interested parties, to inform the three pillars of cervical cancer elimination – vaccination, screening, and treatment – and ensure a strong equity lens is applied at every step of the project. The overarching vision is to achieve elimination for all women and people with a cervix across the diverse communities we have in Australia. 

If you would like to be part of the development of a strategy to eliminate cervical cancer in Australia by 2035, you can register to join the consultation here.

Aboriginal artist Madison Connors, a Yorta Yorta, Dja Dja Wurrung, Kamilaroi woman from North East Victoria has created art inspired about the importance of cervical screening. Image source: Cancer Council Victoria website.

Women must lead equity drive

Equity for Indigenous women and girls is at the forefront of this year’s Closing The Gap Day message, with first Nations people still facing lower quality of life and shorter life expectancies compared to the rest of Australia. Last week’s Closing The Gap Day on March 17 marked the ongoing progress of the campaign to expand health, education and other fundamental expectations for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians.

Aoriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner and Close the Gap Co-Chair, Bunuba woman June Oscar, said gender equity was central to supporting strong families and communities to lead healthy lives. She reinforced the message that it was through Indigenous leadership that prospects for Indigenous people would improve. “This year’s report highlights in no uncertain terms what we already know,” she said. “It’s our organisations that know our people, carry our culture and knowledges, and deliver the services that we need.”

To view the 9 News article in full click here.

young Aboriginal girl with Aboriginal flag on shoulders of Aboriginal woman with Aboriginal art covid-19 mask

Indigenous women and girls must be central to the ongoing #MeToo movement, the Close The Gap campaign has said. Photo: Cole Bennetts. Image source: 9 News website.

Jail rates related to unmet basic needs

Victorian Aboriginal Legal Service CEO and Yorta Yorta woman Nerita Waight says the justice system is incapable of benefitting First Nations people who are at a systemic disadvantage. Ms Waight said incarceration numbers reflected the position of Indigenous people within the political and social landscape as a whole. Homelessness, the education system, workforce discrimination, racism and over-policing were identified by VALS as contributors to disparity.

“Most people end up in the justice system because society has failed to provide them with basic needs, like a home or proper healthcare,” Ms Waight said. “Once our people are in the justice system they are subjected to systemic racism from police, the courts, and prison staff. Most people get trapped in the justice system for the rest of their lives.” VALS conceded the cost of inadequately addressing these issues would likely see devastating results.

To view the National Indigenous Times Aboriginal Legal Service calls out justice failures on Closing the Gap Day article click here.

A related article Shocking Numbers of Aboriginal Children are in Prison and it’s a threat to Closing the Gap cites Royal Australasian College of Physicians (RACP) spokesperson and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Committee Chair Professor Ngiare Brown spoke to the ongoing damage that early incarceration can have on an Indigenous young person. “As the RACP has emphasised, along with other medical and First Nations experts, there is substantial evidence showing the detrimental and long term effects youth incarceration has on physical and psychological health and wellbeing.”

Rather than jump to incarceration, the report is calling for Attorney Generals to consider alternative approaches including earlier care, support and treatment options which will preserve human rights and hopefully, more just outcomes for the First Nations Youth community. It is hoped that continued advocacy and increased awareness will push the issue into the spotlight, encouraging critical reform and address the significant disadvantages experience by Australia’s Indigenous community. To view this NIT article in full click here.

Aboriginal man waist up no clothes, hands gripped together through jail bars

Image source: The Conversation.

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.

Multiple Birth Awareness Week

Multiple Birth Awareness Week (MBAW) is a national campaign to raise awareness around, and draw attention to, the unique realities for multiple birth families in Australia – and how advocacy, positive education and engaged communities can contribute to enabling positive health outcomes for families with multiples. You can access more information about MBAW on the Australian Multiple Birth Association website here.

Indigenous Australian twins and their mothers face unique challenges, according to research supported by Twins Research Australia. All mothers of twins face challenges but the study found these may be more difficult to overcome for some Indigenous Australian mothers. The study investigated the birth data of over 64,000 indigenous twins in NSW and WA.

It was found that many Aboriginal twin pregnancies and births are physically and practically challenging and the majority of multiples are born early and small. Factors included that they are: more likely to live far from specialist medical care, are younger, more socio-economically disadvantaged, and more likely to have older children. Researchers recommended that specific guidelines for the care of indigenous mothers and twins may be need to improve outcomes. The study highlights the importance of policies that support health services to meet the practical, financial and psychosocial needs of mothers and families, in addition to meeting their health needs.

You can read the Twins Research Australia article in full here, the paper in full here and a simplified explainer here.

Aboriginal women with her hands & partner's hands on her pregnant belly

Image source: Pathology Awareness Australia website.

NACCHO Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health News: Celebrating NACCHO’s women leadership

feature tile text 'celebrating NACCHO's inspiring & strong women's leadership this International Women's Day' & photo collage of 7 women: NACCHO CEO, Chair etc

Feature tile images clockwise from top left: Pat Turner AM, Donnella Mills, Dr Dawn Casey, Donna Ah Chee, Raylene Foster, Vicki O’Donnell and Polly Sumner-Dodd.

Celebrating NACCHO’s women leadership

The National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health organisation (NACCHO) is proud to be guided and led by an extraordinary group of women from the NACCHO Executive team to the Board of Directors.

From the top left in the image collage above:

  • Pat Turner AM – NACCHO CEO and Lead Convenor of the Coalition of Peaks. Pat is the daughter of an Arrernte man and a Gurdanji woman and was raised in Alice Springs. As CEO of NACCHO, she is at the forefront of community efforts in Closing the Gap in health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Pat has over 40 years of experience in senior leadership positions in government, business and academia, including being the only Aboriginal person and longest-serving CEO of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission (ATSIC).
  • Donnella Mills – NACCHO Chair and Chair of Wuchopperen Health Service, a member of James Cook University Council and was recently appointed to the Australian Government’s Advisory Council on Family, Domestic and Sexual Violence. Donnella Mills is a proud Torres Strait Islander woman with ancestral and family links to Masig and Nagir. From 2014 to 2021, she worked as a Cairns-based lawyer with LawRight, a community legal centre which coordinates the provision of pro-bono services for vulnerable people. She was also the managing lawyer for the innovative Wuchopperen Health Justice Partnership, in which lawyers and health professionals partnered to achieve improved health, wellbeing and justice outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
  • Dr Dawn Casey – NACCHO Deputy CEO and Co-chair of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Advisory Group on COVID-19. Dr Dawn Casey is a descendant of the Tagalaka clan from North Queensland. She was recently awarded the Public Health Association Australia’s 2021 Sidney Sax Public Health Medal Award. She has also been awarded three Honorary Doctorates (QLD Charles Sturt, QLD and Macquarie Universities), a Commonwealth Government’s Public Service Medal (PSM), an Australian Government’s Centenary Medal, three Australia Day Public Service Medals, the Australian Institute of Architects’ Clem Cummings Award and a Fellow of the Australian Academy of the Humanities (FAHA).
  • Donna Ah Chee – NACCHO Board Member and CEO of the Central Australian Aboriginal Congress Aboriginal Corporation (CAAC) in Alice Springs. She is a Bundgalung woman from the far north coast of NSW and has lived in Alice Springs for over 25 years. Donna has been actively involved in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander affairs for many years, especially in the area of adult education and health.
  • Raylene Foster – NACCHO Board Member and Chief Operating Officer Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre (TAC). Raylene represents Tasmania/Lutruwitadeep on the NACCHO Board. She has a historical understanding of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health sector, at national and local levels. For the past 25 years, Raylene has worked for the TAC in various leadership roles building the capacity of the organisation, staff, and community to provide health services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
  • Vicki O’Donnell OAM– NACCHO Board Member and CEO Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Services Ltd (KAMS). Vicki is a Nyikina Mangala woman from Derby who has worked as a strategic leader in Aboriginal community-controlled health for 15 years. Vicki was instrumental in the establishment of both the Derby Aboriginal Health Service dialysis unit and the Kimberley Renal Service. Vicki has been a board member of AHCWA for over 15 years (eight years as chair) and chairs the WA Aboriginal Health Ethics Committee. She is an advisor on numerous state and federal ministerial committees involved in Aboriginal health including the WA Aboriginal Advisory Committee and the national Closing the Gap Coalition of Peaks.
  • Polly Sumner-Dodd – NACCHO Board Member and Aboriginal Health Council of SA Ltd (AHCSA). Now retired, Polly was CEO of Nunkuwarrin Yunti of SA for over 30 years. Polly advocates strongly for Aboriginal community control, self-management and self-determination. She has participated on a wide and varied range of committees and boards, including NACCHO, Aboriginal Sobriety Group, Aboriginal Legal Rights Movement, Women’s Legal Service, Pharmacy Board SA and the Women’s Art Movement, to name a few. Polly’s involvement with NACCHO’s affiliate AHCSA has spanned more than 38 years, beginning with the Aboriginal Health Organisation that underwent major transformations, giving birth to ACHSA and, more importantly, moving to Aboriginal community control.

The theme for this year’s International Women’s Day is #BreakTheBias.

Imagine a gender-equal world. A world free of bias, stereotypes, and discrimination. A world that is diverse, equitable, and inclusive. A world where difference is valued and celebrated.

Together we can forge women’s equality. Collectively we can all #BreakTheBias. As women who are a guiding force and carers of our families and communities, we need to look after ourselves, our physical, spiritual, and mental health and wellbeing.

Individually, we’re all responsible for our own thoughts and actions – all day, every day. We can break the bias in our communities and families. We can break the bias in our workplaces. We can break the bias in our schools, colleges and universities.

You can read more about International Women’s Day and download resources here.BreakTheBias - International Women's Day - Selfie CardsExcerpt from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, June Oscar’s newsletter:

This year’s theme, Changing Climates: Equality today for a sustainable tomorrow, reminds us of the powerful leadership and legacy of First Nations women and girls on the frontline of climate justice movements. It is within our women’s knowledge systems, ways of living and caring for all members of our families and Country, that the solutions exist to form more sustainable social, economic, ecological and political structures.

This International Women’s Day, read the new Wiyi Yani U Thangani Implementation Framework—which will drive dialogue and decision making in the lead up to the first-ever First Nations women and girls’ national summit in 2023.

Artwork: Aboriginal Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice from the Australian Human Rights Commission website

 

Showcasing the women of Yarrabah

One of our ACCHOs, Gurriny Yealamucka Health Service Aboriginal Corporation (GYHSAC) has done their own campaign to celebrate International Women’s Day 2022, recognising the #WomenOfYarrabah.

They value the contribution made to their community by women: mothers, sisters, aunties, daughters and grandmothers. ‘Who we are today is a reflection of the work and sacrifice of the women in our community’.

You can read more about the Women of Yarrabah campaign here.

Gurriny Yealamucka - Break The Bias campaign

Adelaide Sands, Renee Grosso and Lucresia Willett (pictured left to right above) are three of the employees at GYHSAC who feature in the campaign.

All governments “buck-passing” on housing

Australia’s road map for reducing Indigenous disadvantage is at risk because all governments are “buck-passing” over housing and reluctant to cede control to Aboriginal organisations, according to Closing the Gap co-chair and NACCHO CEO Pat Turner.

Ms Turner, who has previously praised Scott Morrison for his commitment to recast the national agreement on Closing the Gap as a partnership with Indigenous organisations, says there is a concerning lack of political will from all governments who “think they know best”.

The new Closing the Gap obliges state, territory and even local governments to work with the commonwealth and Indigenous organisations to improve the lives of Indigenous Australians against key markers, including by reducing incarceration rates and increasing employment rates.

To view The Australian article in full click here.

Pat Turner

Closing the Gap co-chair and NACCHO CEO Pat Turner. Image source: The Australian.

ABC Four Corners aired episode on Heart Failure and Rheumatic Heart Disease

Last night ABC Four Corners aired Heart Failure: An investigation into the hidden killer in remote Australian communities. According to the ABC Four Corners website page the episode is ‘an investigation into the hidden and shameful failure in public health taking place in remote Australian communities, where incompetent and inexcusable medical care has resulted in multiple preventable deaths.’

The program starts off with reporter Louise Milligan’s description of Doomadgee in remote NW Queensland Gulf country: “The children have come out to play. They’re joining in a medicine dance. Almost 40% of the people who live here are aged under 14 years old. Despite the joy in the children’s faces, there’s a sadness that runs through the heart of this place. In Doomadgee, young people are dying from a disease that all but disappeared in the rest of Australia decades ago, without getting the healthcare they need.”

In referring to one of the teenagers who died from Rheumatic Heart Disease (RHD) NACCHO CEO Pat Turner says “If that was a white kid, in middle class Sydney, you know, there’d be an uproar, okay? But it’s not a white kid. You know? It’s an Aboriginal kid living in the bush. Does that child deserve any less, than a white kid living in middle class Sydney?”

Paediatric cardiologist, Dr BoReményi said “We had the solutions for this over 50 years ago, yet today we’re standing back and watching young people developing rheumatic fever and RHD and dying from this.”

You can view the Heart Failure episode and access a transcript of the episode here.

image of ABC Four Corners episode text 'HEART FAILURE' across image of graveyard with heart shaped headstones

Qld releases new RHD strategy

Queensland has announced a new strategy dedicated to reducing the impact of acute rheumatic fever and rheumatic heart disease in Queensland. Minister for Health and Ambulance Services Yvette D’Ath released the Ending Rheumatic Heart Disease: Queensland First Nations Strategy 2021-2024 on Friday 4 March 2022.

Minister D’Ath said Queensland was leading the way with a targeted action plan, and now a strategy, to address the prevalence of Acute Rheumatic Fever (ARF) and Rheumatic Heart Disease (RHD) among First Nations peoples. “Both RHD and ARF are preventable conditions. Unfortunately, Australia has some of the highest documented rates of RHD in the world, with a significant number of patients living in the north of the Queensland,” Minister D’Ath said.

To view Minister D’Ath’s media release in full click here. You can also view a short film about Queensland teenager Shikyna’s RHD story below.

Combatting syphilis epidemic webinar 

While Australia has made some notable progress in the management of sexually transmissible infections (STIs), Syphilis remains a significant public health challenge. About 2 million Australians see a GP each week, and most STI’s are diagnosed in general practice – GPs have a crucial role in reducing the prevalence of Syphilis in the community through early diagnosis, testing and re-testing at risk patients, and timely and appropriate antibiotic treatment for cure.

The Royal Australian College of General Practice (RACGP) is hosting a FREE webinar from 7:30 PM – 9:30 AEDT PM Wednesday 23 March 2022 to inform GPs of how they can help to strengthen Australia’s response to syphilis, and help people to access testing and treatment. You can register for the free webinar via this link.

blue rubber gloved hand holding Syphilis vial, positive box ticked

Image source: RACGP Events webpage.

Addressing AOD workers’ needs

The Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet’s Alcohol and Other Drugs Knowledge Centre, in partnership with the National Centre for Education and Training on Addiction (NCETA), invite you to attend a FREE webinar on Wednesday 16 March 2022 where key findings from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander alcohol and other drugs (AOD) workers who participated in a national AOD workforce survey will be presented, along with discussion on next steps for the sector.

There will be a Q&A session facilitated by Professor Neil Drew, Director of the Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet. Key findings from the report will be presented by Dr Alice McEntee, report co-author and Research Fellow at NCETA and further insights will be provided by Dr Jocelyn Jones on what these findings mean to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander workers in the AOD sector.

For further information about the webinar and to register click here. Registrations are due by Friday 11 March 2022.

Professor Neil Drew, Dr Alice McEntee & Dr Jocelyn Jones

Clockwise: Professor Neil Drew, Dr Alice McEntee and Dr Jocelyn Jones.

NRL club and ACCHO join forces

A Newcastle Knights initiative to ensure healthy, positive futures for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people has been labelled “momentous” by CEO Phil Gardner. The NRL club unveiled its formidable partnership with leading Hunter Valley medical provider Awabakal at its new $20 million Centre of Excellence yesterday, Monday 7 March 2022.

The program, Knight Strong, will promote better health outcomes for Indigenous residents throughout the region – and country NSW. “It’s an important day for us,” Gardner said. “It is the start of the Knights walking the walk. The likes of South Sydney and North Queensland Cowboys, for example, have done a great job with similar campaigns in their areas – I take my hat off to them. So, there’s nowhere better for us to begin our own Indigenous relationships than Knight Strong. Awabakal – who cares for people’s health and mental wellbeing, while providing many other fantastic services – is hugely vital to us.”

To view the Newcastle Weekly article in full click here.

Newcastle Knights CEO Phil Gardner at the launch of their new initiative, Knight Strong

Newcastle Knights CEO Phil Gardner at the launch of their new initiative, Knight Strong. Photo: Peter Stoop. Image source: Newcastle Weekly.

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 & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Community calls to drop proposed beer tax cut

feature tile text 'NACCHO CEO one of 80 signatories to open letter asking government to abandon beer tax cut

Calls to dump proposed beer tax cut

More than 80 community leaders and organisations have asked the Government to abandon reported plans for a beer tax cut in the upcoming budget. NACCHO CEO Pat Turner is one of the signatories, and has warned the price reduction would cause serious harm to Indigenous communities. Ms Turner said “Alcohol already has a huge impact on the health of our communities from family violence, injuries, road accidents, to cancer and chronic diseases, and this has been compounded by COVID-19 where we have seen increased use of alcohol among our people. So we are very concerned that making alcohol a lot cheaper and more readily available for people will increase consumption and therefore the ongoing harm that alchol causes our people and we can ill-afford to do that.”

You can view the open letter to Treasurer Josh Frydenberg here and listen to Pat Turner’s nine minute interview on ABC RN Breakfast with Patricia Karvelas here.

The Alcohol and Drug Foundation (ADF) and the Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education (FARE) have joined more than 80 community leaders and organisations in signing an open letter calling on the Morrison Government to abandon its irresponsible plan to make alcohol more accessible.  The letter urges the Government to prioritise the health, wellbeing and safety of families and communities given the significant increase in alcohol sales during the pandemic. Alcohol misuse in Australia costs a staggering $36 billion per year, touching every part of our community, economy, and health system. In 2019-2020, alcohol-induced deaths increased by 8.3 per cent and calls to the national alcohol hotline have doubled since 2019. Alcohol retail sales have grown substantially over the course of the pandemic – with alcohol companies raking in an additional $3.6 billion in 2021, compared to 2019.

To view the ADF’s media release in full click here and the FARE media release here.

How COVID-19 is affecting mob

Some of Australia’s most vulnerable people are in the midst of dealing with a widespread outbreak of COVID-19, as the virus spreads in the Northern Territory. Soon WA, where there are 200 remote Aboriginal communities, will open its border. So, two years since the start of the pandemic, how have Indigenous Australians been impacted? And how are communities coping with Omicron?

Donna Ah Chee, CEO, Central Australian Aboriginal Congress and Jason Agostino, GP and epidemiologist, ANU Medical School, medical advisor to NACCHO spoke with Hilary Harper on ABC On Life Matters earlier this morning. You can listen to the 19 minute interview here.

SAWCAN runs booster campaign

Over the next three months South Australian West Coast ACCHO Network (SAWCAN) will launch a series of TV adverts to be run across the Eyre and West Coast. Childhood vaccination (5–11 years) adverts (English and Pitjantjatjara versions below) will be running from February to April. Booster adverts will be launched in March and run on local TV until May. Finally, the ‘my why’ campaign showcasing Aboriginal people across communities sharing the reason they chose to get the vaccine will be launched in April and run on local TV until June.

First Nations’ proactive pandemic response

The Australian Journal of General Practice (AJGP) has published an article with the title Aboriginal communities need to be at the forefront of the COVID-19 vaccination campaign. The authors of the article say the COVID-19 pandemic and its potential devastating impact on First Nations people has been extensively contemplated and the potential devastating impacts on First Nations people due to health and social justice issues widely postulated. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and health organisations in Australia were proactive in trying to plan for the pandemic and mitigate any adverse outcomes.

The results of this foresight and preparedness were that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities were spared any significant impact during the first wave of the pandemic in 2020. A significant reason for the success of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities in warding off the impacts of COVID-19 was that each community and often the ACCHO understood how to effectively communicate health information and health risks to community members in a manner that was meaningful.

To view the full Australian Journal of General Practice click here.

health professional in PPE administering covid-19 vax to Aboriginal man Katherine clinic

A COVID-19 clinic in Katherine, NT. Photo: Katherine Morrow, AAP. Image source: The Guardian.

Disability research agenda for Australia

Researchers from Ninti One are working with researchers from the University of Sydney to develop a disability research agenda for Australia for the next 10 years. The Ninti One team is seeking the views of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to help Ninti One develop the agenda.

Ninti One is inviting you to participate in a survey which aims to understand your thoughts and priorities in relation to disability research in Australia. Ninti ONe would like to hear from as many people as possible from a very broad range of backgrounds so they can understand the areas that people think are important for research. This research has been developed in partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with disability.

Please share this email with other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people you know who might be interested in participating. Click here to access the survey and the project participant information sheet.

wheels of wheelchair of Rex Mumumgurr on uneven ground

Rex Munungurr, Garrthalala, East Arnhem Land. The wheels of Rex’s wheelchair are unsuitable for uneven ground. Photo: Tamara Howie. Image source: The Guardian.

RACGP-endorsed otitis media guidelines

Each year, the RACGP approves and endorses a range of clinical resources and guidelines that are produced to National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) guidelines standard. Approved resources are regarded as a distinguished mark of approval by the Australian health professional community. These guidelines provide best-practice recommendations for the diagnosis and management of otitis media in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children.

With rates of ear disease among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children declared a ‘public health emergency’ the guidelines aim to guide prevention of the life-long impacts that undetected otitis media and hearing loss have on these high-risk children. Developed by Menzies Health, the guidelines follow the Grading of Recommendations, Assessment, Development and Evaluation (GRADE) approach.

To view the newsGP article in full click here.

Aboriginal girl having ears checked by health professional

Image source: Office of the Auditor General.

Support for parents experiencing trauma

A webinar developed by Child Family Community Australia (CFCA) and Emerging Minds draws on the voices, experiences and knowledge of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander practitioners to explore how services can work through the perinatal period to support the social and emotional wellbeing of infants and their families.

The webinar will support practitioners to:

  • extend their awareness of the historical and contextual factors impacting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities
  • increase their understanding of intergenerational trauma on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities
  • understand the important role of service providers during the perinatal period for parents experiencing complex trauma
  • outline key principles and practice approaches for fostering safety in perinatal care.

This FREE online webinar being held from 1:00–2:00PM Wednesday 9 March 2022 will be of interest to professionals working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families and children in health, education, social and community service settings.

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

Aboriginal mum and toddler sitting in red sand of outback

Image source: Australian Institute of Family Studies 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 & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Quarantine centre closer to community needed

feature tile text 'calls for quarantine centre clos to remote communities for covid-positive mob' & image of Indigenous leader Lisa Mumbin

Image in feature tile is of Barunga Indigenous leader Lisa Mumbin who backs calls for a quarantine site closer to remote communities. Photo: Michael Franchi, ABC News.

Quarantine centre closer to community needed

Justina Blacksmith and her one-year-old daughter Nyeisha were the first in their household to fall sick with COVID-19 early this month. Then her uncle and the other five adults living in their small three-bedroom house tested positive. By day six of their isolation period, all four children had symptoms and their week of quarantine turned into two. “It was very hard with 11 people in the house,” Ms Blacksmith said. “We couldn’t do our shopping or get a power card.”

In the remote Indigenous community of Binjari, 15 kms outside Katherine, the toll of COVID-19 is being felt in the small homes that sometimes house as many as 15 people. Amid Omicron outbreaks, the Australian Medical Association’s (AMA) NT branch is calling on the NT government to declare a Code Brown alert for every public hospital.

Binjari Community Aboriginal Corporation CEO Deb Aloisi said residents who tested positive were no longer being taken to the Howard Springs quarantine facility. Instead, she said they were being forced to isolate together in cramped conditions.

To view the ABC News article in full click here and the AMA media release here.

Justina Blacksmith with her baby girl outside house

Justina Blacksmith had to isolate in her small house with 11 people. Roxanne Fitzgerald, ABC Katherine. Image source: ABC News.

Working with mob makes Kim’s heart skip

Kim is a traditional Saltwater Bidjigal/Gweagal woman from La Perouse, Botany Bay, Sydney. She’s 52 and has been working in clinical and non-clinical roles for over 30 years. Ordinarily she practices at the Albury Wodonga Aboriginal Health Service, but is currently in Central Australia, nearing the end of her third week of a nine-week placement in Tennant Creek working as an Aboriginal Health Practitioner/Nurse Immuniser as part of the government’s “Vaccination Acceleration Campaign” targeting remote communities. Kim said it is so rewarding talking to and educating mob about the COVID-19 vaccine, and how important it is to protect themselves, their mob and the rest of community.

As an Aboriginal Health Practitioner/Nurse Immuniser in this role, Kim said she can connect easily with mob and treat them in a culturally safe way. She is also able to educate the non-Indigenous nurses who work alongside her on how to provide care in a culturally sensitive and appropriate manner. Together they’ve formed a great team – they are having fun and creating memories, trusting friendships and relationships with community.

Kim, whose mob still live in La Perouse (formerly the site of the La Perouse Aboriginal Mission), grew up not having a lot. She believes she didn’t choose health as a career it chose her. She remembers the nurses from the Prince of Wales Hospital coming to the mission 3-4 times per week to change the dressings for her Nan’s sister’s toes. The dressings were for the sores and ulcers that were slow to heal due to diabetes. By the time she was 12 years old, Kim had learnt how to replace the dressings and draw up the insulin for her Aunty Marie – something her aunty found difficult due to her poor eyesight, also the result of diabetes.

Kim has had a lengthy career in health starting her first job in 1986 working in the kitchen of Prince Henry Hospital, Sydney. From there she worked in several private hospitals (Prince of Wales, Westmead, Nepean ) before being contracted as a civilian heath professional by the Royal Australian Air Force (3 Combat Support Hospital, RAAF Richmond), working as a Endoscopy Technician/CSSD Manager. Kim was directly involved in supporting the RAAF medical team and their sterilised equipment that was deployed at extremely short notice to evacuate injured Australians following the Bali bombings in October 2002. Following a move to Albury in 2004, Kim worked for seven years as an endoscopy technician in the operating theatres of Albury Base Hospital.

Now with a passion for working in Aboriginal health and after completing further training and study, Kim worked in various Aboriginal health roles including as an Aboriginal Liaison Officer at the Wangaratta Hospital, an Aboriginal Health Worker with Ovens and King Community Health and with Mungabareena Aboriginal Corporation. Kim then completed her training to become an Aboriginal Health Practitioner (AHP) and started work with the Albury Wodonga Aboriginal Health Service (AWAHS). Kim said she uses the knowledge and skills gained from her years of health experience and the clinical work she has undertaken and AHP training in her job every day.

Kim said she is having so much fun on her placement and the enormous satisfaction gained from working with mob makes her ‘heart skip’. Kim’s husband and former Australian Soldier, Darren Moffitt – who is also Aboriginal, (who she supported throughout his 27 years in the Army) said “it is now Kim’s time to shine”, with full support of the whole family and mob back home.

Kim wants to encourage young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and Men to work in health, where they can do great stuff. With good mentors along the way, Kim said, her experience has been so much fun. Kim said it is so rewarding working with mob knowing you are making an enormous difference in their health and wellbeing.

Kim Moffitt

Kim Moffitt, AHW, Nurse Immuniser, NT.

Health worker shares COVID-19 experience

Scared for her life and feeling isolated away from her ‘mob’, Bowen local Charmaine Pangi spent eight days in the COVID ward of Mackay Base Hospital where she was often struggling to breathe and suffering immense kidney pains. The Indigenous Health Care Worker, who looks after Bowen and Collinsville residents, was diagnosed with COVID on Friday 21st January.

On the days prior, she had been feeling hot but strangely her temperature had remained normal, then on day three she got a tickle in the back of her throat. She went to the hospital the next day because she was finding it hard to breathe and received some medicine which eased her symptoms considerably. That afternoon, however, they came back ten-fold, and she was admitted to hospital. By the following afternoon she was transported to Mackay Base Hospital for specialist monitoring.

“Trying to get air . . . it was scary – even now I struggle sometimes,” she said. Alone in her room at the hospital, Ms Pangi began creating some short videos to document her journey and show others what it was like to endure COVID. “I thought I have to do something, I don’t care how it looks, I just need to tell people wear that mask properly. Don’t wear it under your nose – cover your mouth and nose,” she said.

To view the Mackay and Whitsunday Life article in full click here.

Charmaine Pangi in hospital with covid-19

Charmaine Pangi describing what COVID-19 feels like from hospital bed. Image source: Facebook.

Calls for transparency on WA COVID-19 response

The Aboriginal Health Council of Western Australia (AHCWA) has refuted claims by the Department of Health that the Government’s WA COVID Care at Home program is accessible to clients in remote locations. AHCWA Chair Vicki O’Donnell OAM said while the sector had been involved in some of the clinical protocol details of the State Government’s opt-in telehealth program, which was launched this January to provide at-home care to patients diagnosed with COVID-19; Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services (ACCHS) were never afforded the opportunity to be part of the process as contracted providers of services to fill the inevitable gaps.

“The ACCHS sector has on multiple occasions raised concerns about aspects of the proposed model, and while some have been addressed, a number of serious issues remain,” Ms O’Donnell said. “The State Government’s WA COVID Care at Home program does not address concerns raised by the AHCWA around accessibility barriers for Aboriginal people. While the program will likely be effective for much of the general population; an opt-in phone service delivered by an Eastern States-based third party unfamiliar with Western Australian Aboriginal communities will not meet the needs of many Aboriginal people,” she said.

“The Council is concerned this will result in a service gap and additional, unresourced work by the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services sector will be needed to fill it, which, without additional funding from the State Government, will in turn divert resources from other services.” Ms O’Donnell said the program neglected a significant proportion of Western Australians not just in remote and regional locations, but in metropolitan areas as well.

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

KAMS CEO Vicki O'Donnell

KAMS CEO Vicki O’Donnell.

Top 3 COVID vax questions

Dr Lucas de Toca, COVID-19 Primary Care Response First Assistant Secretary, has answered the current Top 3 questions (below) being asked on social accounts in a short video.

  1. What is classified as fully vaccinated in Australia and why has this changed?
  2. Why are some people in the same household getting sick with COVID-19 while others don’t show any symptoms?
  3. What is classified as an adverse COVID-19 vaccine reaction?

Reducing mob’s nutritional poverty

Recognising that poor nutrition was a key reason for health disadvantages in Aboriginal communities, Caroline De Mori founded Edge of Nowhere Thriving Community Program (EON) which partners with Indigenous communities and schools to create access to fresh and affordable fruit and vegetables through edible gardens and other initiatives.

The former Perth journalist and public relations supremo told Gareth Parker on 6PR Breakfast’s ‘West Aussie Great’ segment that she became passionate about providing nutrition education and training opportunities for Aboriginal communities to create long-term, healthy lifestyle change after meeting legendary WA Indigenous politician Ernie Bridge. “I saw first hand for the first time what was going on…  it’s just the most shameful thing to be in such a successful, powerful, rich state and yet there’s children with health statistics and infection and disease loads that are just outrageous, worse than the poorest developing nation on the planet,” she told Parker.

“It’s the nutritional poverty that leads to for example some 70% of Aboriginal kids starting school with hearing loss. We offer this as opportunity [for communities] to grow their own food, harvest their own food, cook their own food, eat their own food and get the health benefits of getting off [bad nutrition].”

You can listen to the full interview with Caroline De Mori here.

young Aboriginal girl chopping shallots on red cutting board

Image source: EON Foundation.

Remote PHC Manuals February update

Review and updating of the Remote Primary Health Care Manuals (RPHCM) continues. The most recent RPHCM update advises: 99% of protocols (excluding administration protocols) are in the updating stage with progress towards finalisation of protocols for secondary review which is due to go out at the start of March 2022. Project activities are progressing well, considerations for adaptions for working with Editorial Committee champions and undertaking secondary review are in place given recent increase in DOVID numbers within the NT.

Coming up sales of the remaining current editions of manuals will cease in April 2022. If you would like to order a printed copy before then, please download an order form here. 33% of protocols are finalised and awaiting formatting prior to secondary review.

To view the RPHCM February 2022 update click here.

First Nations youth and the justice system

Professor Pat Dugeon (from the Bardi people of the Kimberley in WA and the first Aboriginal psychologist to graduate in Australia) and her team at the University of WA are leading the Transforming Indigenous Mental Health and Wellbeing (TIMHWB) project. The TIMHWB team have produced a fact sheet First Nations Youth and the Justice System, which is an executive summary of the 2021 article First Nations peoples and the law by Professor Helen Milroy (a consultant psychiatrist with the WA Department of Health and the first Indigenous Australian to become a medical doctor) and colleagues.

The fact sheet, which organises information under three key headings: (1) historical and contemporary context (2) the Australian context, and (3) ways forward, seeks to summarise how the current situation has come about and what the way forward could look like. Some key points include:

  • Young people ending up in the criminal justice system represents a failure of other systems to properly identify and provide support and effective interventions across development.
  • Imprisoning traumatised, developmentally compromised, and disadvantaged young people adds to the re-traumatisation and complexity of supporting rehabilitation and recovery.
  • Overall, the article argues that offending behaviours lie at the end of a continuum of risk. This continuum includes exposure to intergenerational and current trauma within the historical context of genocide, and the ongoing issues of generational poverty, social disadvantage, and discrimination.
  • Ideally, the way forward would include prevention, early intervention and comprehensive clinical and community intervention should a child or young person encounter the youth justice system.

To download a copy of the fact sheet click here.

banner text 'fact sheet: First Nations youth and the justice system' transforming Indigenous mental health and wellbeing' & small square of brown white blue black Aboriginal dot paining

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.

Teal Ribbon Day

Teal Ribbon Day will be held on Wednesday 23 February 2022 – the last Wednesday in February. It’s a day to support Australians affected by ovarian cancer, honour those we have lost and raise awareness of this deadly disease to change the story for future generations. Ovarian cancer is a disease where some of the cells in one or both ovaries start to grow abnormally and develop into cancer. Learn the signs and symptoms, stages of ovarian cancer, risk reduction and prevention.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are 1.4 times as likely to be diagnosed with ovarian cancer as non-Indigenous Australians, str 0.9 times as likely to die and have only a 45% change of surviving for five years. You can access the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) report containing these figures about ovarian cancer in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people here.

Ovarian Cancer Australia provides care and support for those affected by ovarian cancer and strives to make ovarian cancer a national priority. They advocate for increased sector funding to enable delivery of the key priority areas outlined in the National Action Plan. For more information about Teal Ribbon Day click here.

tile text 'ovarian cancer Australia' logo & blue teal ribbon

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Health workforce investment is urgent

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

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

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

Health workforce investment is urgent

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

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

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

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

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

KAMS students in class learning child health checks

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

AMSANT wants borders closed into new year

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

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

To view the full ABC News story click here.

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

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

Homeless women with disability research

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

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

To read the UNSEEN media release in full click here.

park bench with rolled sleeping bag, sign underneath

Image source: Women’s Agenda website.

Sobering OOHC over-representation data

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

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

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

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

Image source: SBS NITV website.

New incentives for doctors to go bush

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

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

To view the ABC News article in full click here.

outback road with yellow road sign 'clinic 100km'

Image source: RACGP website.

Culture in nursing and midwifery education

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

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

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

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

Rural GP awarded for parasitic worm work

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

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

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

New process for job advertising

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: SNAICC welcomes early childhood strategy

feature tile text ' SNAICC welcomes launch of ATSI early childhood strategy' & image of Aboriginal child's hand in dirt from cover of the strategy

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

SNAICC welcomes early childhood strategy

The Secretariat of National Aboriginal and Islander Child Care (SNAICC), the national peak body representing the interests of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and families, is pleased to announce the release of the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Early Childhood Strategy in partnership with the Australian Government.

Launched today at the 9th SNAICC National Conference, the development of the Strategy was guided by conversations with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and families; and Aboriginal-led organisations and services in the early childhood, care and development sectors. “Our people know best, and this framework recognises and builds on Aboriginal-led solutions for us to continue to improve the early years experiences of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children,” SNAICC Chairperson Muriel Bamblett said.

Minister for Indigenous Australians, the Hon Ken Wyatt AM, MP, said the Strategy responds to calls for a more joined up approach between jurisdictions and service providers. “The new way of working under Closing the Gap offers a framework to have a whole-of-government and whole-of-community approach to a child’s development.”

To read SNAICC’s media release in full here and Minister Wyatt’s media release here.

cover of the National ATSI early childhood strategy

Cover of the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Early Childhood Strategy.

Miwatj Health’s vax rollout successes

In recent months, COVID vaccination rates have significantly increased in the Miwatj Health region in NE Arnhem Land, where the vaccination rollout began well before the recent NT outbreak. While uptake of the COVID vaccine was initially slow, with many community members feeling hesitant at first, further complicated by the spread of misinformation, more than 6,500 doses have been administered across the Miwatj Health service region.  

For Brando Yambalpal a Yolngu Community Worker, the key to helping people understand the importance of the vaccine was to deliver the COVID-19 story in-language, which, in his community of Galiwin’ku, is Yolngu Matha. “Yolngu people understand their language,” he said.  

Across the region, Miwatj vaccine teams have found the most successful way to boost vaccination uptake was via a house-to-house outreach strategy, visiting people at their homes to spend time telling the COVID story in their own language.  

Galiwin’ku Aboriginal Health Practitioner Wanamula Gondarra said the turnaround in attitude towards the vaccine, driven by the work of she and her colleagues, has been a total relief. “It’s amazing what’s been happening. Our people are really wanting to get the vaccine now, and it’s what we’ve been waiting for, working for months,” she said. “But she said there is still more work to be done, to make sure everyone comes back for their second dose and to convince those people who still haven’t decided.” 

The utilisation of role models including local Elders and members of the Miwatj Board, has also been instrumental in changing attitudes about the vaccine. Sharing consistent messages about COVID and the COVID vaccine in Yolngu Matha on community loudspeakers and on local radio to spread the education and importance of vaccination to their communities. 

Vaccination rates are now encouragingly high region — 83% of the population across the Miwatj region aged 12+ has now received at least one dose, outpacing the Indigenous vaccination rate nationally, which is at 74% first dose for those over 16.

collage of 3 photos top L-R Miwatj vax team Milingimbi, Miwatj public health outreach team, Galiwin'ku & outreach planning session Milingimbi

Clockwise: Miwatj vaccination team Milingimbi; Miwatj public health outreach team, Galiwin’ku; outreach planning session Milingimbi.

Climate change biggest threat to health

RANZCO has formed a united front with other Australasian medical colleges calling for the Federal Government to devise an urgent plan to protect Australians and the healthcare system from the impacts of climate change.

The call comes as the Royal Australasian College of Physicians released a report it commissioned, prepared by the Monash Sustainable Development Institute. Endorsed by RANZCO and nine other medical colleges, it paints a dire picture of the future of the Australian healthcare system under the unmitigated impacts of climate change.

Among the report’s recommendations is the embedding of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander knowledge and leadership in all climate change policy and action.

To view the Insight article in full click here.

Aboriginal woman walking ahead of controlled grass burn

Image source: Country Needs People website.

Aboriginal-led youth mentoring programs

The Andrews Labor Government is supporting Aboriginal young people to achieve their goals through personalised mentoring programs promoting wellbeing, connection to culture, education and employment. Minister for Youth Ros Spence has announced that five Aboriginal organisations will receive $180,000 each, sharing in $900,000 through the Marram Nganyin Aboriginal Youth Mentoring Program.

Programs will be delivered across metropolitan Melbourne and regional Victoria. The Aboriginal Wellness Foundation will provide mentoring and on-country cultural retreats for young Aboriginal men in the Wyndham area, while in the Glenelg and Southern Grampians regions Winda-Mara will support specialised cultural camps and programs with Aboriginal Elders.

To view the media release in full click here.

rear view of man and youth in bush setting

Image source: Strong Brother, Strong Sister website.

SA rural Aboriginal health workforce plan

A plan to strengthen and grow the Aboriginal health workforce in regional areas has been released, as part of the SA Government’s Rural Health Workforce Strategy. SA Minister for Health and Wellbeing Stephen Wade said the Rural Aboriginal Health Workforce Plan aims to help ensure we attract, recruit and strengthen the regional Aboriginal health workforce, while continuing to deliver world-class care in the regions.

“Growing the Aboriginal health workforce in rural SA is vital for delivering culturally responsive health services and improving the health and wellbeing of our Aboriginal communities,” said Minister Wade. “The development of the plan has involved extensive consultation with the Aboriginal workforce, consumers and communities and the non-Aboriginal workforce from all disciplines, with a focus on providing services that are culturally safe and respectful.”

Rural Health Workforce Strategy Aboriginal Health Working Group Chair, Sharon Perkins, said the plan aims to utilise the important skills and cultural expertise of Aboriginal people in providing health services to regional SA communities.

To view the media release in full click here.

Image source: RACGP GPNews.

Vision oration by Aboriginal ophthalmologist

The second annual Barry Jones Vision Oration will be delivered by Associate Professor Kristopher Rallah-Baker, Australia’s first Aboriginal ophthalmologist. Due to ongoing COVID-19 pandemic related restrictions, the oration will be released as a pre-recorded video on Wednesday 8 December 2021 on the Vision 2020 Australia website.

A proud Yuggera and Biri-Gubba man, Associate Professor Rallah-Baker is a highly respected ophthalmologist and is one of the founding members of the Australian Indigenous Doctors Association, a Board Director of the Royal Flying Doctors Service, technical advisor to the Fred Hollows Foundation and Chair of the Vision 2020 Australia Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Committee.

To view the Vision 2020 Australia media release in full click here.

Associate Professor Kristopher Rallah-Baker

Associate Professor Kristopher Rallah-Baker. Image source: ABC News.

Job Trainer free, low-cost courses

Gaining qualifications can help people find rewarding work in a wide range of jobs and industries. The Australian Government has extended the JobTrainer Fund to offer low and fee-free courses for eligible people from 16 years of age.

JobTrainer is a great way for eligible people to learn new skills, upgrade their skills and expand their job options. JobTrainer supports free and low-fee courses for jobs in demand in a range of industries like health, aged care and disability support, IT and trades. A range of course types are available, including accredited diplomas, certificates or short courses.

For additional information about JobTrainer click here.

Aust Govt tile text 'job trainer - what you need to know' Aboriginal male youth & woman

Indigenous aged care facility considerations

Indigenous people are highly under-represented in the Australian aged care system – a result of a lack of cultural understanding, appropriate spaces and safety. Yim Eng Ng’s study of four facilities in Queensland suggests several practical responses that would enhance aged care environments for this sector.

In Australia, the average life expectancy of Indigenous people is estimated to be eight years lower than that of non-Indigenous people. As a result of years of health disparity, Indigenous people access aged care at a much younger age than non-Indigenous people. This is acknowledged by federal government policy that enables Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders aged 50 years and over to access aged care services, 10 years earlier than their non- Indigenous counterparts. A submission to the 2018 Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety by NACCHO highlighted the under-representation of Indigenous people in residential aged care services and the lack of culturally appropriate facilities.

To view the ArchitectureAU article in full click here.

2 Aboriginal men painting in aged care facility

Kungkarrangkalpa (Seven Sisters) Aged Care facility, WA. Photo: Nathan Morris, ABC Goldfields Esperance.

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: Invest in public health before next pandemic

Feature tile - Tue 7.12.21 - Invest in Public Health Workforce now

Invest in Public Health Workforce now, before the next pandemic hits

Chief Health Officers and public health leaders from across Australia will today, 7 December outline their ideas for the future of Australia’s Public Health Workforce in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Dr Kerry Chant PSM (NSW), Prof Brett Sutton (VIC) and Dr James Smith (QLD) among others will focus their attention on ensuring the development of the future public health experts, in a forum organised by the Public Health Association of Australia in partnership with NACCHO and the Australasian Faculty of Public Health Medicine (AFPHM).

With the pandemic far from over and the next one around the corner, now is the time to plan for and commit resources to developing the next generation of public health leaders, PHAA CEO, Adjunct Prof Terry Slevin said.

“In our efforts in ‘Closing the gap’, it is essential that we strengthen the cultural safety and Aboriginal health expertise of our public health workforce,” Dr Megan Campbell from NACCHO said.

“There must be training and leadership opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and recognition of the important role of ACCHOs in keeping communities safe and healthy.”

You can view the media release here.

Aboriginal dot painting of Australia with 4 stick figures' from cover of publication

Image from cover of: National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workforce Strategic Framework 2016–2023.

Closing the Gap National Agreement – a framework for our children’s futures

NACCHO CEO and Lead Convener of the Coalition of Peaks Pat Turner AM delivered the keynote address this morning at the SNAICC National Conference.

“We have been protecting and caring for our families and our children for more than 60,000 years.”

“Before I am the CEO of any organisation, I am foremost an Aboriginal woman, the daughter of an Arrente man and a Gurdanji woman. I am part of a kinship structure where I have many reciprocal obligations and caring responsibilities to my family.”

“I say this as it is important that when we are talking now about supporting our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and families to thrive and addressing the rates of out of home care of our children, that we always remember the strength that is in our peoples, our culture and our own ways. And that we remember that it is not our culture that is the problem, as our culture is our strength and the way forward.”

“Today, I want to talk to you about the voices of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are saying about the reasons why there are so many of our children in the child protection system and what is needed by governments and non-Indigenous organisations and those working to improve the situation.”

“As part of this, I will talk about how the new National Agreement on Closing the Gap provides a framework to design and implement national and local responses to support our children.”

You can read the keynote address here.

Danila Dilba Health Service celebrates 30 years

On Saturday 4 December 2021, Danila Dilba Health Service in Darwin celebrated their 30th anniversary.

Danila Dilba_30 years

Danila Dilba has a wide range of services in and around Darwin, including a special men’s clinic, tackling tobacco and healthy lifestyles, youth support, social and emotional wellbeing, care co-ordination, parenting support, alcohol and other drugs, and advocacy.

The service is an integral part of their local communities regularly organising BBQs, sports carnivals and beach events.

During the pandemic Danila Dilba has been organising meals for isolated elders. They also have a great record in getting services to transient people with about 800 people sleeping rough in the area.

Upon request by Danila Dilba, NACCHO CEO Pat Turner AM created the below video with a congratulatory message to be played during the anniversary ceremony.

“It is a truly wonderful thing to see the ‘community control’ model that was developed by Aboriginal people at the very first ACCHO in Redfern, fifty years ago, now taken up all over the country. And it’s organisations like Danila Dilba that have been leading the way,” said Ms Turner.

Health and medical experts call for the age of criminal responsibility to be raised to at least 14

Leading health and medical organisations in Australia say they will not stop pushing for the law to reflect medical science, and for governments to raise the age of criminal responsibility to at least 14.

In an open letter sent today, a coalition of 30 health and medical organisations has called on all state and territory Premiers, Health Ministers and Attorneys-General to urgently raise the age of criminal responsibility from 10 to at least 14 years of age.

The letter outlines evidence which shows children under 14 do not possess the capacity to have criminal intent:

  • Medical evidence is clear that children under 14 years of age are undergoing rapid brain development which makes them vulnerable to increased impulsivity, sensation-seeking behaviour and peer influence.
  • Child development and neuroscience demonstrates that maturity and the capacity for abstract reasoning are still evolving in children aged 10 to 13 years, due to the fact that their frontal cortex is still developing.

The experts say alternative models to incarceration exist, and there is already an evidence-based pathway to raising the age as set out through the independent review headed by Emeritus Professor Morag McArthur.

You can read the media release here.
Read the open letter here.
You can read Emeritus Professor Morag McArthur’s independent review here.

Raise The Age logo

$540 million to continue and expand Australia’s COVID-19 response

The Australian Government has invested a further $540 million in response to the COVID 19 pandemic including significant funding to keep Australians safe, and for COVID-19 testing.

COVID-19 has had an unprecedented impact on Australians’ way of life and the emergence of the Omicron variant of concern highlights that while we have come a long way, we require robust health measures to continue to underpin our COVID-19 Health Response.

Of this funding, $492 million will be invested into measures to continue support for all Australians, including:

  • The Aged Care Preparedness Support Measures Extension
  • The Victorian Aged Care Response Centre (VACRC)
  • Support for Aged Care Workers in COVID-19 Program (SACWIC)
  • COVID-19 Indigenous and Remote Response Measures
  • The National Incident Centre
  • MBS fee for COVID-19 pathology items
  • COVID-19 pathology testing in aged care
  • Aged Care: RAD Loan Scheme

In addition, $48 million will be invested into COVID-19 medical research to explore multiple aspects of COVID-19, including vaccination, treatment and modelling.

You can read the media release here.

COVID-19 testing

COVID-19-testing. Image source: Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Services.

First COVID death in the NT

This story contains names and details of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples who have passed on.

A 78-year-old woman from the remote community of Binjari has become the first person in the Northern Territory to die from COVID-19. Her infection was linked to the current viral cluster in the Katherine region. The elderly woman who was not vaccinated died in Royal Darwin Hospital last Thursday night from complications related to COVID-19.

Before now, the Northern Territory was the only jurisdiction in Australia without any deaths from coronavirus.

“It is an awful reminder of the severity of COVID. It is a critical reminder of why we take COVID so seriously,” NT Chief Minister Michael Gunner said.

You can read the article in the ABC News here.

Binjari woman in her 70s becomes first person in Northern Territory to die from COVID-19. Image source: ABC News.

Binjari woman in her 70s becomes first person in Northern Territory to die from COVID-19. Image source: ABC News.

Connecting primary care, research and policy

Dr Isabel Hanson, a recent recipient of a research scholarship and a RACGP 2021 Academic Post Registrar, wants to combine her skills to make a positive impact.

Dr Hanson’s 2022 scholarship will take her to the University of Oxford in the UK, where she will undertake further postgraduate study in the field of translational health sciences.

On return to Australia from the University of Oxford, Dr Hanson plans to link her translational health research and policy skills with her work with Aboriginal communities, to continue advocating for an equitable health system.

“I am committed to working in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health,” she said.

“I hope in the future to work closely with Aboriginal communities, to ask them what they need for better health, and to be part of the team who does the research and implementation to make that happen.”

You can read the story in RACGP newsGP here.

Dr Isabel Hanson is passionate about giving back to the community.

Dr Isabel Hanson is passionate about giving back to the community. Image source: RACGP

Diabetes strategy endorsed

The report found up to 80 per cent of people reported feeling a sense of blame or shame for having the condition, while more than 25 per cent said other people’s attitudes and stereotypes about diabetes negatively impacted their mental health.

52 per cent of people with type 2 diabetes said people assume they were overweight or had been in the past, while 37 per cent said people made a judgment on their food choices. 26 per cent of respondents with type 2 diabetes said they had been told they brought it on themselves.

The Australian National Diabetes Strategy 2021-2030, the federal government’s strategy to identify and manage diabetes also found Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities had one of the highest rates of type 2 diabetes in the country. The strategy found Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities had recorded increasing rates of diabetes in children, adolescents, young adults and pregnant women, leading to intergenerational patterns of premature disease.

You can read the article in the Examiner here.

Aboriginal person's hands, blood sugar level testing

Image source: The Medical Journal of Australia.

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: Huge spike in NT mob vax rate

resident of remote community of Utju getting covid-19 vax

Image in feature tile: remote community of Utju resident getting COVID-19 vaccination. Image source: ABC News.

Huge spike in NT mob vax rate

There has been a huge spike in the number of Indigenous Territorians rolling up their sleeves to be vaccinated amid the NT’s most recent COVID scare, according to federal figures. Commonwealth public health expert Lucas de Toca said the percentage of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Territorians who had their first dose was now higher than the national average. As of yesterday, 69% of First Nations Territorians had had one jab, compared to 67% of Indigenous Australians.

“Overall, the NT has been really accelerating [its vaccine uptake] in the last few months, and of course in particular the last week, since the cases in Katherine were first detected,” Dr de Toca said. “In fact, the NT has been outpacing the national rate of first doses by an order of three to six times the last few days, which is really, really nice to see.”

Dr de Toca, who leads the Commonwealth’s vaccination program through GPs and Aboriginal health services, says the uptake in some remote communities was moving even faster. “We’ve seen pleasingly, for instance, East Arnhem has been increasing their First Nations vaccination rate by 4 to 5% … [in] the last couple of weeks, which is a really high rate, so we’re confident that will continue to grow,” he said. “That’s between 2-4 times higher than what we were seeing prior.”

To Be Born Upon a Pandanus Mat project

Minister for Health and Aged Care, Greg Hunt, said an innovative project to help more Indigenous expectant mothers to give birth on their home country is one of five projects funded through the Federal Government’s $5.5 million investment in the NHMRC Partnership Project scheme.

The partnership-based research project To Be Born Upon a Pandanus Mat is led by Professor Yvette Roe, a proud Njikena Jawuru woman, and Professor Sue Kildea, Co-Directors of the Molly Wardaguga Research Centre, Charles Darwin University. The project will receive nearly $1.5 million and will follow women’s law to incorporate Yolnu skills and knowledge to enhance the delivery of clinically and culturally safe healthcare in line with Yolnu priorities.

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

Aboriginal baby in coolamon

Image source: ABC News.

APY Lands lose mental health staff

Aboriginal elders and mental health experts are concerned about some of Australia’s most vulnerable children after the sudden departure of key support workers from SA’s remote Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) Lands.

Two permanent mental health staff who lived and worked on the APY Lands for a decade are no longer there, and that a fly-in-fly-out (FIFO) model has been implemented, despite objections from senior staff in the Department for Child Protection and traditional owners. Nearly 1,000 reports of child abuse have been made in the region in the past two years.

Pukatja community elder Makinti Minutjukar said the two Child and Adolescent Mental Health (CAMHS) workers provided invaluable support to local families. “They have been a really strong support for everyone, they’ve been doing good work for many, many years,” she said.

To view the full ABC News article click here.

blurred photo of torsos of Aboriginal kids in desert setting

Image source: ABC News website.

Understanding needs of mob with cancer

Aboriginal health professionals and educators from across WA gathered in Perth last week to increase their awareness and understanding of the specific needs of Aboriginal people with cancer.

The WA Centre for Rural Health (WACRH) of The University of WA in conjunction with Cancer Council WA hosted a three-day professional development course to train participants in the ‘Whisper No More’ learning package. WACRH Director Professor Sandra Thompson said part of the innovative program features Aboriginal cancer patients from WA’s Midwest sharing their personal stories on video.

“Understanding more about Aboriginal people’s views of cancer and experiences of health care is essential to developing better cancer care and health outcomes,” Professor Thompson said. “By sharing their stories on video, those involved in Whisper No More have contributed to a valuable resource for health professionals to help enhance their understanding of what matters to Aboriginal people when they have cancer.”

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

RACGP warns PHC plan will fail

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) has warned that general practice is in ‘a state of crisis’ that could further deteriorate. In a written submission responding to the Department of Health’s (DoH) draft Primary Health Care 10 Year Plan, the RACGP states that high-quality care offered by GPs is at risk if substantial investment and reform do not take place.

Calling general practice ‘the most efficient and cost-effective’ aspect of the health system, the college says that the urgency of the situation has been exacerbated by COVID-19, “Rising rates of chronic disease, an ageing population, the COVID-19 pandemic, delayed preventive care due to the pandemic and a looming mental health crisis are putting increasing pressure on the system. This is resulting in poorer outcomes and long hospital wait times. Unless there is significant investment and reform, the system will fail.’”

To view the newsGP article in full click here.

stethoscope parts for ears, chest, pressure against blue background

Image source: AMA website.

Maternity services to use Yolnu knowledge

Researchers at Charles Darwin University (CDU) are set to redesign maternity services to use Yolnu knowledge and non-Yolnu knowledge at Galiwin’ku, Elcho Island in Arnhem Land. New funding of about $1.5 million from the Federal Government’s National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Partnership Project scheme will ensure that on-country maternity services reach communities where the premature birth rate is three times the national average.

The partnership-based research project To Be Born Upon a Pandanus Mat is led by Professor of Indigenous Health Yvette Roe, a proud Njikena Jawuru woman, and Professor Sue Kildea, Co-Directors of the Molly Wardaguga Research Centre at CDU.

To view the CDU media release in full click here.

Aboriginal baby in coolamon

Image source: ABC News.

Crucial for GPs to understand mob 

A rural doctor is a true general physician, a jack of all trades. And a junior doctor’s clinical judgment is necessarily influenced by the epidemiology of regional and rural medicine and the particular issues facing centres in these areas.

11% of the Western NSW LHD is Indigenous. Dr Antonia Clarke has written an article about how understanding the complexity of the relationships between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and our health care system is a crucial part of being a doctor, regardless of your intended specialty. Closing the gap in part means working to forge a relationship between the patient, medical and nursing teams and Indigenous support officers to help to enable early screening, referral and management for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders at risk of chronic disease.

To view the MJA Insight article in full click here.

Dr Antonia Clarke

Dr Antonia Clarke. Image source: MJA Insight 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.

First Nations Women’s Voices

You are invited to attend an inspiring panel discussion about the transformative power of First Nations Women’s Voices. An incredible panel of speakers will explore the role women play in shaping and protecting culture and community – and what you can do to support First Nations gender justice and equality.

The discussion will be led by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, June Oscar AO, in conversation with Professor Marcia Langton AO, Fiona Cornforth, Teela Reid and Charlee-Sue Frail. The conversation will be facilitated by Patricia Karvelas (ABC), with a special welcome from Rosalind Croucher AM, President of the Australian Human Rights Commission.

The panel discussion will be held at 1:00PM Wednesday 24 November 2021. For more information about the event and to register for your FREE ticket click here .