NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: How do GPs practice cultural humility?

The image in the feature tile is of GP Dr Simon Quilty with a patient. Photo: Stephanie Zillman. Image source: ABC News article Specialist on-country healthcare improving outcomes in remote Aboriginal communities, 1 December 2018.

How do GPs practice cultural humility?

Developing professional cultural humility is a ‘key strategy’ to help address health inequalities in Australia, according to researchers from the University of Melbourne. Defined as ‘a shift from the mastering of understanding other cultures, to an approach of personal accountability in advocating against the systemic barriers that impact marginalised groups’, cultural humility is also ‘positively associated’ with improved health outcomes for culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) patients.

It is why researchers, including RACGP President Adjunct Professor Karen Price, are asking practitioners to take part in a new project focused on assessing cultural humility in Australian GPs. The research will see GPs participate in a 10–15-minute online survey about their interactions with patients of different cultural backgrounds, experience in cultural humility training and their interest in further training in this area.

Dr Olivia O’Donoghue, a descendant of the Yankunytjatjara and Narungga Nations people and the RACGP Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Censor – the first Aboriginal person to be appointed the role, says cultural humility is an ‘essential attribute’ for GPs. ‘For me, cultural humility is about understanding myself, my values, my affinities and biases, my attitudes and behaviours and how these effect the people around me,’ Dr O’Donoghue said.

To read the RACGP newsGP article How do GPs practice cultural humility? in full click here.

Dr Olivia O’Donoghue. Image source: SBS NITV Radio.

Culturally safe birthing for the Cape

Women in western Cape York’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities will be able to give birth closer to home, thanks to a birthing project led by Weipa rural generalist obstetrician Dr Riley Savage. The Weipa Birthing Unit is set to open soon, with the completion of capital works due this month, September 2022. The unit’s central feature is the Palm Cockatoo Midwifery Group Practice.

‘I’m so incredibly proud of the service we have produced – a women-centred midwifery group practice model of care, focusing on collaboration, community engagement and cultural safety,’ Dr Savage says. ‘Bringing birthing services to Weipa is such important work. It is delivering maternity services to families who would otherwise have to leave their hometown for six weeks or more in order to have their babies, at great financial and psychological cost.’

The 2009 James Cook University (JCU) graduate, who has an advanced skill in obstetrics and gynaecology, was inspired to become a rural generalist while on fifth-year placement on Thursday Island. ‘I was starstruck by the rural generalists there, who were masters of so many disciplines, from critical care in the emergency department to primary care in beautiful island communities,’ Dr Savage says.

To view the National Rural Health Alliance Partyline article Culturally safe birthing for Cape in full click here.

NSW government responds to ice inquiry

The NSW Government has finally issued its response to a landmark report on ice addiction more than two years since it was handed down, and less than a month after the state’s peak legal organisations condemned cabinet’s failure to implement urgent reforms. On 21 September, Premier Dominic Perrottet announced a half-a-billion-dollar investment to deliver health and justice reforms as part of the Government’s final response to the Special Commission of Inquiry into the Drug Ice. “Ice can ruin lives and have devastating impacts on families and communities. This funding will provide relief, help and hope for thousands of people across NSW,” Perrottet said.

The Law Society of NSW also pushed for the Government to partner with Aboriginal communities to urgently develop and significantly increase the availability of local specialist drug treatment services that are culturally respectful, culturally competent and culturally safe. “Aboriginal people are a priority population in relation to the investment that the NSW Government is making in a range of new programs and activities to increase the availability of specialist drug treatment,” the Government’s response read.

“Funding will support new treatment services, including withdrawal management, substance use in pregnancy and parenting services, rehabilitation and community-based support. There will also be targeted workforce development activities such as increasing the Aboriginal Health/Nursing Workforce, introducing traineeships, and skills development.”

To view the Law Society Journal Online article NSW Government unveils response to ice inquiry in full click here.

Image source: NSW Crime Stoppers.

Helping dads help their partners

For health professionals working to improve the perinatal mental health of women in rural communities, supporting dads is not the first thing that comes to mind. However, recent research into the antenatal psychosocial risk status of Australian women found that over 95% of respondents in the study said they would seek emotional support from their intimate partner. Reported rates for seeking support from health professionals, including GPs, did not exceed 55%.

Clearly, it would be a lost opportunity not to include fathers in efforts to help women who may experience mental health distress in the perinatal period. SMS4dads is a free service that all health professionals supporting women in the perinatal period should be aware of. SMS4dads helps fathers understand and connect with their baby and partner through free text messages that provide information, tips and encouragement. Dads can join from 12 weeks into a pregnancy and throughout the first year of parenthood.

Once enrolled, dads receive three messages a week to help them understand and connect with their baby and support their partner. The messages are brief and some have links to more information or other services. When enrolling, dads enter the expected date of delivery or bub’s birth date, so the texts are linked to the developmental stage of the baby. Some messages provide tips and encouragement. Others are health-related with information on looking after their baby or being mindful of their own health and ways to support their partner.

To read the National Rural Health Alliance Partyline article Helping dads help their partners full click here.

Revised ITC Program for Western NSW

The new year will bring changes to local Aboriginal Medical Services (AMSs) in Western NSW following extensive reviews, with a revised Integrated Team Care (ITC) Program designed to improve the capacity of local services. The ITC is designed to improve the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander residents living with a chronic disease, and has been delivered by Maari Ma Health Aboriginal Corporation since 2016.

Following a 2021 review, the redesigned program will change hands on January 1, changing how Coonamble, Gilgandra, Brewarrina, Walgett, Condobolin and Bourke implement ITC. CEO of Coonamble, Dubbo and Gilgandra AMSs, Phil Naden, has welcomed the funding from Western NSW Primary Health Network (WNSW PHN) for the ITC Program. “I’m looking forward to a strengthened approach in working with WNSW PHN and I’m keen to commence the project in our locations to service Aboriginal Clients in the region.”

To view the Western Plains App article Local AMSs receive funding to broaden services in full click here.

Phillip Naden, CEO of Coonamble and Dubbo AMS. Image source: AH&MRC website.

Advocating for mental health services for youth

Hayley Pymont is using the hundreds of kilometres she is clocking up on the NSW South Coast in preparation for the New York Marathon to build a new purpose for herself and help improve the mental health of others. The 27-year-old Wiradjuri woman, who grew up on Dharawal land is one of the young people selected for the Indigenous Marathon Project (IMP) for 2022, which was founded by Australian champion runner Robert de Castella.

The program also asks participants to undertake further education and complete a Certificate IV in Indigenous Leadership and Health Promotion. Pymont is putting her energy into building mental health resilience. “I struggled at school with bullying growing up,” she said.” Through the program, Pymont is reaching out to community organisations to urge them to provide more support to young people. “We need organisations out there and services to open their doors for everyone and to let people in regardless of how severe their mental health is,” she said.

To read the ABC News article Hayley Pymont aiming for place in New York Marathon to create positive ‘ripple effect’ for bullying support in full click here.

Hayley Pymont hopes to draw attention to the need for better mental health support services for young people. Photo: Billy Cooper, ABC News.

Sector Jobs

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

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

International Day of Sign Languages

The International Day of Sign Languages is a unique opportunity to support and protect the linguistic identity and cultural diversity of all deaf people and other sign language users. During the 2022 celebration of the International Day of Sign Languages, the world will once again highlight the unity generated by our sign languages. Deaf communities, governments and civil society organisations maintain their collective efforts – hand in hand – in fostering, promoting and recognising national sign languages as part of their countries’ vibrant and diverse linguistic landscapes.

According to the World Federation of the Deaf, there are more than 70 million deaf people worldwide. More than 80% of them live in developing countries. Collectively, they use more than 300 different sign languages.

For more information you can access the United Nations webpage International Day of Sign Languages 23 September here. You can also access a related ABC News article Aboriginal sign languages have been used for thousands of years here.

Michael Ganambarr showing the sign for “fruit bat”. Photo: David Hancock. Image source: ABC News.

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

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

Culturally appropriate sepsis resources

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

World Sepsis Day 2022 – striving for better sepsis care 

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

Sepsis Clinical Care Standard

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

National awareness resources 

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

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

Youth Steering Committee applications open

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

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

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

Applications are open until Wednesday 5 October 2022.

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

CVD and chronic kidney disease webinar

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

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

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

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

Chronic wounds costing lives and limbs

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

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

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

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

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

Disparity in genomic medicine access

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

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

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

Image source: Queensland University of Technology website.

Preventing suicide in vulnerable groups

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

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

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

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

Image source: NT Independent.

Mum’s house clinic ‘disparity’ an inspiration

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

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

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

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

Sector Jobs

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

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

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

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

This is not about money, profit or turf

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

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

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

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

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

Image source: RACGP newsGP webiste.

What a male midwife learnt in Arnhem Land

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

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

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

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

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

Must be more than a day of checking in

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

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

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

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

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

Milestone contract to deliver GP training

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

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

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

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

‘Empathy’ key in dementia care

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

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

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

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

Strengh-based approach to kids’ health needed

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

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

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

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

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

Indigenous-led research positions

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

Postdoctoral Research Fellow – Indigenous Studies

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

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

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

Research Fellow – Indigenous Data Network

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

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

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

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

Sector Jobs

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Action needed to reduce health inequalities

Image in the feature tile in from the Emerging Minds website.

Action needed to reduce health inequalities

Last month the Australian Health Promotion Association hosted an event titled Putting equity and the social determinants of health at the heart of prevention which included discussions by world renowned epidemiologist Professor Sir Michael Marmot and a panel of Australian health promotion and public health practitioners. Professor Marmot urged Australian colleagues to advocate for healthy public policy, including tackling discrimination. He encouraged colleagues to engage with different avenues of influence like local governments, international audiences, and anyone else who will listen.

Epidemiologist Dr Kalinda Griffiths spoke about the value of data to identify critical areas in the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. “The way we measure things provides important information on who needs what and where”, she said. “For example, Aboriginal people in NSW are twice as likely to die from lung cancer than non-Aboriginal people. However, Aboriginal people in outer regional and remote areas are eight times more likely to die of lung cancer, but Aboriginal people in metropolitan areas have the same outcomes as non-Aboriginal people. Data like this provides valuable insight for policy making.”

Edwina Macdonald, Co-Deputy CEO of the Australian Council of Social Services (ACOSS), presented a report showing income, employment, and socioeconomic status as strong indicators of health. Some key findings include that 50% of people under 65 whose main source of income is government support reported mental health issues compared to 18% of the general population. In addition, 60% of people on higher incomes report good health compared to 32% of people with lower incomes.

To view the Croakey Health Media article Can we build back fairer? Health promotion panel calls for more action to reduce inequalities in full click here.

Young girls play in Titjikala, An Aboriginal community 120km south of Alice Springs. Photo: AAP. Image source: SBS News.

Health Care Homes evaluation findings

The findings of a recently published evaluation (available here) of the Health Care Homes (HCH) trial show there is much to learn about how to implement future health reform initiatives and will be useful reading for the Federal Government and its new Strengthening Medicare Taskforce., according to Associate Professor Lesley Russell. HCH are general practices or Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services (ACCHSs) that aim to provide better coordinated and more flexible care for Australians with chronic and complex illnesses.

The report says the initiative did not deliver on any of its promised outcomes due to its failure to faithfully implement the model for HCH as articulated by the Primary Health Care Advisory Group (PHCAG), to low levels of participation by general practitioners (GPs) and patients, and to an implementation timeframe that was too short.

An easy and economically viable implementation of the HCH model are exemplified in the primary care services that are specifically designed for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. 18 ACCHSs, all in the NT, entered the trial and 14 (with 1,025 patients) continued to the end. They saw bundled payments as a more viable, more appropriate payment approach that provided certainty of income and enabled staff to be paid for additional work.  The key enablers were the existing operational structure of the ACCHSs, and the existing relationships between communities, clinical staff and patients. The challenges for these primary care providers included: the transient nature of community populations, sub-optimal communications with other healthcare providers, the availability of staff to follow through on care plans, and that patients were largely unaware of Health Care Homes and the trial.

To view the Croakey Health Media article More than six years after a “revolutionary” health reform was announced, what have we learnt? in full click here. Below is a Health Care Homes introduction video from Jan 2018.

Health leaders call for transformational change

With new Australian PM Anthony Albanese putting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ rights at the top of his Government’s agenda, stating he would implement the Uluru Statement from the Heart’s agenda in full, health sector advocates have underscored self-determination, truth-telling, cultural safety, and the elimination of racism as a matter of life or death for First Nations peoples.

The National Health Leadership Forum (NHLF), a peak body representing the views of 12 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations working in health and wellbeing across domains including workforce, research, mental health and service delivery, has been advocating for the Uluru Statement and constitutional reform, arguing that this will support self-determination and transformational change across all aspects of government and public policy.

According to the NHLF, strengths-based, Indigenous-led and driven responses to intergenerational trauma must include a reckoning with history, and an acknowledgment that time’s up for a status quo built on racism and discrimination. “We won’t get transformational change across the health sector until we eliminate racism from the health sector,” explained former CEO of Australian Indigenous Doctors Association and NHLF chair Monica Barolits-McCabe, a Kungarakan woman from Darwin. “I think the real progress journey is just starting.”

To view the Croakey Health Media article As a new Government sets to work, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health leaders call for transformational change in full click here.

Image source: Jobs & Skills WA.

Vision for more equitable healthcare

Growing up in a rural hotel as the son of a nurse, a young Kamilaroi boy called Brad Murphy spent his Saturday nights patching up patrons after brawls and tending to weary travellers as they spun him a yarn. In those formative years, he discovered both an aptitude for providing care and a love of stories that would cement his future. “I am a storyteller,” said Murphy, who works as a GP in the regional Queensland city of Bundaberg and is making an historic tilt at the presidency of the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP). If elected, Murphy will be the first Indigenous person to hold the role and the first Indigenous president of an Australian medical college.

Gunnedah-born Murphy will be the first to admit he took the road less travelled into medicine, a circuitous journey subverted by racism and the tyranny of low expectations, and fuelled by a love for Country and community. He dreamed of being a doctor, but left school in Year 10 after a maths teacher told him he “wouldn’t amount to anything” and should pursue an apprenticeship. He joined the Navy when he was just 15, and after leaving the Navy became an intensive care paramedic. Years later he was one of five Aboriginal students in the first cohort of medical students at the James Cook University. Murphy was among the two that graduated, relishing the course’s focus on rural, remote, Indigenous and tropical health.

“I worked myself into the ground. I was getting by on sort of two to four hours sleep a day, and after three weeks you just couldn’t string a sentence together,” said Murphy of the “terribly unsafe” working conditions, which culminated in him running off the road and narrowly missing a tree. “Small country town medicine, it’s so hard when the system doesn’t support you.” As someone who has lived the challenges of a remote posting, Murphy is passionate about doctors in training who are sent to rural areas to fulfil their clinical obligations.

To read the Croakey Health Media article Profiling Dr Brad Murphy and a vision for more equitable healthcare in full click here.

Dr Brad Murphy. Image source: Bundaberg Now.

Colleges commit to cultural education

Earlier this month senior representatives from the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) and the Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine (ACRRM) met in Melbourne with the GP Training Cultural Educators and Cultural Mentors Network (CECM Network) Governance group. The meeting was a timely opportunity for both colleges to engage with leaders in the field of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health training and recognises their critical importance to the delivery of the Australian General Practice Training (AGPT) program and the colleges’ long-term commitment to improving health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

The ACRRM and the RACGP said the recognise that all community members, in particular our disadvantaged and vulnerable communities, are deserving of care that is culturally appropriate, safe and high quality. Nationally, Cultural Educators and Cultural Mentors shape the capability of our next generation of General Practitioners and Rural Generalists to meet those needs through the unique cultural knowledge, experience and skills they share through the AGPT program. To this end, the RACGP and ACRRM have committed to continuing the agreed current Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Training Strategic Plan strategies for 2023.

To view the medianet. article Joint college commitment to continue the critical role Cultural Educators and Cultural Mentors play in GP training in full click here.

Clinical Yarning eLearning program

The WA Centre of Rural Health of The University of WA has announced the launch of the Clinical Yarning eLearning program. Effective communication between clinicians and patients is the foundation to high quality health care however unfortunately, ineffective communication is common when there are cultural and language differences between clinicians and patients.

Clinical Yarning is a framework to assist clinicians improve the effectiveness of their communication in Aboriginal health care. The framework looks to improve the quality and cultural security of care for Aboriginal patients and their families. The Clinical Yarning eLearning program was developed as a resource to improve the effectiveness of communication of health care clinicians who work with Aboriginal patients, by using the Clinical Yarning model.

The online course is available to health science students and health care providers and is around two hours long, with the opportunity to stop and start progress throughout the course at your own pace. By completing the survey at the end of the course, it’s possible to download a Course Completion Certificate.

To view The University of WA article Clinical Yarning eLearning program to improve communication in Aboriginal health care in full click here and to access the Clinical Yarning website click here.

Racial discrimination and the right to health

Yesterday the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination held a day of general discussion on its proposed general recommendation on racial discrimination and the right to health. The day was comprised of three panel discussions focusing on racial discrimination in health as experienced by individuals and groups; legal obligations regarding the prohibition of racial discrimination and the right to health under international human rights law; and monitoring, accountability and redress for racial discrimination in the right to health.

It was noted that Indigenous peoples were victims of collective trauma and inequitable services since the time of colonialism. Indigenous peoples required greater healthcare services, had worse health, and had greater difficulty accessing quality health services, compared to non-indigenous people. It was vital for disaggregated data on indigenous and ethnic minorities to be collected, to ensure that equal access to healthcare services could be provided, and to eliminate all forms of discrimination. Indigenous peoples had proved to be one of the most marginalised groups during the pandemic. Lack of information in indigenous languages and lack of respect for the culture impacted indigenous peoples from being able to access health services. The vaccination of indigenous peoples was not guaranteed, and was often carried out without consulting the local populations, resulting in their reluctance to be vaccinated. In many countries across the world, business activities had directly impacted the right to health for indigenous peoples.

To read The National Tribune article Committee on Elimination of Racial Discrimination Holds Day of General Discussion on its Proposed General Recommendation on Racial Discrimination and the Right to Health in full click here.

Image source: RACGP.

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: NT PHC workforce crisis – biggest ever

Image in the feature tile is from a video NT chief minister attacks ‘international trolls’ for spreading Covid misinformation published in The Guardian on 25 November 2021.

NT PHC workforce crisis – biggest ever

As critical primary healthcare clinics are forced to close for some weeks in Central Australia due to the pandemic’s impact upon staffing, health leaders are calling for ‘vaccines-plus’ strategies to check COVID transmission, as well as better support for and investment in the Aboriginal health workforce. A leading public health expert has urged governments to do more to tackle the COVID pandemic in the wake of a related workforce crisis forcing the closure of important primary healthcare (PHC) clinics in Central Australia, with worrying implications for the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

The Central Australian Aboriginal Congress (Congress) made the decision to close each of their five town clinics for one day each week from the beginning of August until the end of the month to help manage a shortage of healthcare staff. Congress delivers services to more than 16,000 Aboriginal people living in Mparntwe/Alice Springs and remote communities across Central Australia, including Ltyentye Apurte (Santa Teresa), Ntaria (Hermannsburg), Wallace Rockhole, Utju (Areyonga), Mutitjulu and Amoonguna as well as many visitors.

Dr John Boffa, Chief Medical Officer Public Health at Congress is concerned recent major gains made in life expectancy for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the NT will be reversed without urgent efforts to fix the Territory’s current PHC crisis. “Basically, we’ve got the biggest workforce crisis we’ve ever had now,” Boffa said.

To view the Croakey Health Media article As COVID reduces Aboriginal health services in Central Australia, health leaders call for action in full click here.

Drone photo of Mparntwe/Alice Springs. Phot: Mike Bowers. Image source: The Guardian.

Meaningful health reform suggestions

In a recent Croakey Health Media article health professionals have explored some of the key health reform challenges facing the Federal Government and offered some ways forward, based on appreciation of the importance of addressing health inequities, the needs of patients, and strengthening critical relationships. They say a number of factors combine to deliver an Australian health system that is “universal” in name only, where those with resources can buy access to the care they need but where too many of those who need it most miss out.

Many of these “design faults” have a compounding impact on population groups who already experience the most disadvantage such as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and people with disabilities, living in rural and remote areas and with low incomes. The resulting situation is a clear example of the “inverse care law”: the principle that the availability of good medical or social care tends to vary inversely with the need of the population served. Reversing this situation will only be possible if at least some of these structural problems are addressed, in addition to increasing overall resourcing for primary healthcare and addressing workforce shortages.

Lessons, the article authors say, can be learnt from existing examples of community-based approaches to chronic disease in Australia and internationally. These include the Aboriginal Community Controlled sector, community health centres like co-health and rural health services, which often provide a more integrated and multidisciplinary approach than urban areas.

To view the Croakey Health Media article Amid competing agendas and priorities, some suggestions for ways forward for meaningful health reform in full click here.

Darren Braun is an Aboriginal Health Worker trainee at Danila Dilba in Palmerston, Darwin. Photo: Emilia Terzon. ABC News.

Caring for our mob, in health and wellbeing

Across Australia, the consumption of alcohol and other drugs (AOD) continues to cause a greater burden of disease within Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities than in the non-Aboriginal population. In the Eastern Metropolitan Region of Melbourne, two EACH programs located in Ferntree Gully – the Ngarrang Gulinj-al Boordup Aboriginal Health and Wellbeing Team (AHWT) and Project HOPE/THRIVE – have been successfully working together to provide wrap-around services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community members with alcohol, tobacco and other drugs (ATOD) concerns. Anecdotal evidence suggests that such collaborative care keeps clients with complex issues engaged, supported and hopeful along their recovery journey.

The Ngarrang Gulinj-al Boordup “Caring for our Mob, in health and wellbeing” report uses a case study approach to explore and develop a rich understanding of the key elements underpinning the collaborative model of care between EACH’s Ngarrang Gulinj-al Boordup AHWT and its HOPE/THRIVE program of federally-funded AOD support. This includes relationships and trust; good communication and frequent contacts; colocation of multiple services; supported transport; flexibility and responsiveness; a team-oriented, family-centric and holistic approach to AOD misuse, health and wellbeing; and operationalizing a philosophy emphasizing welcome attitude, empathy and hope. Three real-life client stories are presented in the report, in order to reveal what this collaborative model looks and feels like, from the perspective of those benefiting from it.

To access the Ngarrang Gulinj-al Boordup “Caring for our Mob, in health and wellbeing” report click here.

NE Arnhem Land health lab on wheels

Chronic diseases – such as diabetes and heart disease – cause suffering for thousands of Australians, both Indigenous and non-Indigenous. The Menzies School of Health Research is letting people experience the effects of long-term diseases before they get sick. HealthLAB – a clinic on wheels – lets people see heart and kidney ultrasounds, hear their heart beating, and try on ‘alcohol goggles’ that mimic raised blood alcohol levels. An award-winning interactive Time Machine app completes the picture – literally – by showing how those choices affect appearance.

HealthLAB travels to locations around Darwin and Northeast Arnhem Land, giving locals the opportunity to talk to a range of scientists and health professionals about the science behind the inner workings of the human body, the technology behind the equipment they use, and exciting future careers in science.

To view the medianet. News for Business article An AI ‘Time Machine’ and a health lab on wheels – Northeast Arnhem Land, NT in full click here.

Image source: Menzies HealthLAB Facebook page.

Increasing odds GPs will work rurally

New research which links the amount of training time spent in rural areas with the odds of GPs working in rural and remote areas has been published in the American Journal of Graduate Medical Education. The study addresses an urgent need to understand how to increase the likelihood of junior doctors choosing to practice as GPs in rural or remote areas. The paper titled: Family Medicine Residencies: How Rural Training Exposure in GME Is Associated With Subsequent Rural Practice, shows that when junior doctors do their GP training in rural and remote areas they are more likely to subsequently decide to work in rural areas.

While other research has previously identified associations between rural training – particularly as a medical student – and subsequent rural practice, this study showed that as the amount of rural GP training of junior doctors increased, so did their likelihood of rural practice. Lead author, Menzies Senior Research Fellow Dr Deborah Russell, said that in the US, where this study was undertaken, almost all (91%) junior doctors training to be GPs have no rural training, leaving enormous scope for government policy to increase rural training opportunities for junior doctors. The findings of this US study are relevant for ensuring that enough Australian GPs choose to work in rural and remote areas of Australia.

To view the Menzies School of Health Research media release Increasing the amount of training time in rural areas increased the odds that GPs work rurally in full click here.

Image source: RACGP newsGP.

ACT Rising Woman of Spirit award winner

The Lifeline Canberra Women of Spirit Awards, announced yesterday, recognise women who have overcome adversity and gone on to make a positive contribution to our community, while inspiring others to do the same. A young Indigenous woman, Rachel Fishlock, who was a child carer for her mother who had mental health complexities, was honoured with the Rising Woman of Spirit award.

From the age of 12, Rachel became a full-time career for her single mum, who had severe mental health complications, and experienced systemic neglect during her mother’s frequent and prolonged hospitalisations. Through sheer determination, Rachel completed high school, and went on to found a successful international business, Lunar the Label. She closed this to pursue university education, graduating with a degree in social sciences in 2018 and has since earned a Master of Business Management.

A Yuin woman from Nowra NSW, Rachel now works in Canberra at Gayaa Dhuwi (Proud Spirit), the national peak body for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander social and emotional wellbeing, mental health and suicide prevention. Today, Rachel continues to push for policy reforms to ensure other child carers do not experience the neglect that she did.

To view the Riotact article ‘Leaving the world in better shape than they found it’ – meet the winners of Lifeline’s Women of Spirit Awards in full click here.

Indigenous HealthInfoNet calls for papers

The Journal of the Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet (formerly the HealthBulletin Journal) has been published online since 2020. In that time, it has received over 6,500 downloads, in 62 countries and 230 institutions around the world. You are being invited to submit an article to this rapidly growing publication.

Papers are being sought from researchers and practitioners that address key issues in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health. Our goal is to provide high quality information that is timely, accessible and relevant to support the everyday practice of those in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health sector workforce.

As of 27 June this year one of the most popular papers published by the Journal of the Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet was Culturally Safe and Integrated Primary Health Care: A Case Study of Yerin Eleanor Duncan Aboriginal Health Services’ Holistic Model, available here.

You find more information here and visit the Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet journal here to submit your work. All submissions are subject to double blind peer review.

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: Transforming First Nations nursing education

The image in the feature tile is of midwives Mel Briggs and Kady Colman wearing Sister Scrubs, a new uniform for First Nations midwives to create awareness about the unacceptably high mortality rate of First Nations women and babies. Image source: NITV Radio website.

Transforming First Nations nursing education

Bold recommendations for transforming nursing and midwifery education will be unveiled in a new report to be launched at the 25th Anniversary National Conference of the Congress of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Nurses and Midwives (CATSINaM). The report, ‘gettin em n keepin em n growin em’ – Strategies for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Nursing and Midwifery Education Reform, will include strategies to privilege Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander nursing and midwifery knowledges and embed Cultural Safety across all domains of nursing and midwifery education.

“Its recommendations are bold and practical, emphasising who should act and how,” says Professor Roianne West, the CEO of CATSINaM, a descendant of the Kalkadoon and Djunke peoples. Since the release of the first iteration of this report in 2002, Professor West says there has been negligible improvement in the numbers of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander registered nurses and midwives. “We are far off the necessary numbers completing tertiary programs to ensure parity is reached in the near future,” she said.

Significantly, the conference will also include a National Apology from the Council of Deans of Nursing and Midwifery about the role of nursing and midwifery education and research in contributing to the harm and ongoing suffering of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander nurses and midwives.

To view the CATSINaM media release CATSINaM making news at 25th Anniversary National Conference in full click here.

Image source: Northern Health Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander nursing and midwifery career pathways webpage.

Improving health research experiences for mob

Yesterday the University of Newcastle launched a new national study Murru Minya that aims to understand Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’s experiences and involvement in health research. The Murru Minya project is led by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander researchers with the desire to improve the way all research is conducted with, and for, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. You can find more details on the project’s website here.

Dr Michelle Kennedy, Wiradjuri woman and lead researcher said “Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are the knowledge holders, it is our job to appropriately capture their voices, experiences and directives to improve the conduct of health research into the future”.

The project has launched a short community survey for Aboriginal Community Organisation’s to share their experience of research. Communities can also opt in to hold Yarning Circles with the research team over the next 12 months to share more details and directives for research into the future.

The Murru Minya survey can be accessed here.

Members of Murru Minya research team. Image source: Murru Minya website.

Push to ban junk food adverts aimed at kids

The Royal Australasian College of Physicians (RACP) have welcomed the push for the Federal Government to ban junk food advertising aimed at children by Independent MP Dr Sophie Scamps. The RACP have been recently advocating for this through the Kids COVID Catch Up campaign which is calling for mandatory regulations to restrict the marketing of unhealthy diets to children and young people.

RACP President and Paediatrician Dr Jacqueline Small says, “The widespread advertising of unhealthy foods and drinks is strongly linked to high child obesity rates. In 2017 to 2018, almost one quarter or Australian children aged 5-17 years were overweight or obese. This is a concerning statistic. The Federal Government must recognise this and take immediate action to establish formal standards to protect children and young people from unhealthy food marketing.”

To view the RACGP media release Physicians support push to ban junk food advertising aimed at children click here.

Last year NACCHO made a submission, available here, to the Department of Health on the National Obesity Prevention Strategy supporting efforts to restrict/ban advertising and marketing of unhealthy food, especially to children.

Image source: Priceless SA website.

GP in training returns to Central Australia

For Dr Ellie Woodward, the first time she experienced the landscape and community of the NT was enough to bring her back. Originally from NZ, Dr Woodward moved across the Tasman Sea in 2012 to study medicine in Sydney. It was during this time she was given the opportunity to travel to the NT or an elective placement with the Royal Darwin Hospital physician outreach service. ‘I was immediately drawn to the incredible country and cultures of the Territory,’ Dr Woodward said. “I came back as soon as I could.”

After working as a registrar in medicine and public health in Darwin, she began her GP training in Alice Springs in 2021. Since then, there has never been a dull moment for the GP in training, who this year is splitting her training between the Central Australian Aboriginal Congress (CAAC) and the Alice Springs Centre for Disease Control, in addition to completing dual training on the Australian GP Training (AGPT) and an Extended Skills Post in Public Health with the Australasian Faculty of Public Health Medicine.

All the while she is being enriched by what her surroundings offer. “It’s a privilege to live and work on Arrernte Country, and I’ve been fortunate to engage in two-way learning with patients and colleagues here to learn more about central desert cultures,” Dr Woodward said. “I’ve been hooked by the close-knit community, natural surroundings and unique medicine of Central Australia, and look forward to continuing my practice here after finishing training.”

To view the RACGP newsGP article ‘I came back as soon as I could’: Why this GP in training is staying rural in full click here.

Dr Ellie Woodward is a GP in training and public health registrar at the Central Australian Aboriginal Congress, Alice Springs Centre for Disease Control. Image source: RACGP newsGP.

COVID casts doubt on trachoma target

Assistant Minister for Indigenous Health, Senator Malandirri McCarthy is having ongoing discussions about the previous government’s target to eliminate trachoma by 2025, as the COVID pandemic continues to impact health outcomes for Indigenous Australians. Senator McCarthy told ABC News that overcoming trachoma is one of her priorities, but she would need to fully appreciate the situation before she could set a timeline. She said she would be talking to experts to see what could be done to eradicate the eye disease, which has been successfully eliminated in countries including Cambodia, Ghana, and Mexico, but not yet in Australia.

“I’m incredibly mindful we’re still in a pandemic with COVID, and I know that many communities across the country were isolated and the ability for trachoma and any other health programs to be carried out was severely limited, if not completely stopped, and we have to recognise that,” McCarthy said. “What I would like to see in my role as Assistant Minister for Indigenous Health is to ensure that we pick it up again and run with it, to get rid of trachoma in our country.”

To view the Insight News article COVID casts doubt on target to stamp out trachoma in full click here.

More severe cases of trachoma are treated with antibiotics or surgery but the best way to prevent the disease is better hygiene. Photo: The University Of Melbourne. Image source: The Guardian.

Wounds conference – First Nations focus

After a temporary move online in 2020 due to COVID-related restrictions, Wounds Australia’s biannual wounds conference is returning to Sydney this September. To be held at the ICC Sydney from 14–17 September 2022, the conference will bring together leading experts and clinicians to share their insights and experience in working with wounds.

Presentations in the program will explore this year’s theme: ‘Time to unite, time to heal, time to innovate’, with a special focus on Indigenous health care, in recognition of the need to close the gap between the quality of wound care provision in Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities. Keynote addresses by James Charles and Lesley Salem will discuss Indigenous healthcare initiatives.

Wounds Australia Chair Hayley Ryan said, “As the peak body for wound prevention, diagnosis, treatment and healing in Australia, we are committed to ensuring that Australians receive the best possible wound care. Our national conference is one part of that commitment, helping our hardworking healthcare professionals stay up to date with technological advances and scientific innovations in the area.”

To view the Hospital and Healthcare article Wounds Australia Conference — keynote speakers announced click here.

ANU cybernetics scholarships for mob

The ANU Master of Applied Cybernetics is the world’s first graduate program focusing on the challenges of ensuring AI systems are safe, sustainable and responsible. Masters students participate in a range of educational experiences and research projects at the School of Cybernetics and beyond to consider: who is building, managing and decommissioning our AI-enabled future?

The the School of Cybernetics sees equity of access to their education programs as important. They believe diversity and inclusivity are a MUST if we are to build the future. People from all walks of life are needed to build that future. A future that is safe, responsible and sustainable for all of humanity. With this in mind, and to increase diversity within the School, new scholarship opportunities, named in honour of Florence Violet McKenzie, Australia’s first female electrical engineer, and the founder of the Women’s Emergency Signalling Corps in the Australian Defence Forces in 1939, are being offered, including a targeted Florence Violet McKenzie Indigenous scholarship opportunity for the 2023 Master of Applied Cybernetics program.

You can access an information sheet on the Florence Violent McKenzie Master of Applied Cybernetics scholarships for Indigenous students here.

Image source: University of Texas website.

Sector Jobs

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Recognising First Nations health workers

The image in the feature tile is from a post on the the Aboriginal Health Council of SA (AHCSA) Facebook page, 7 August 2022.

Recognising First Nations health workers

Every year on 7 August the National Association of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workers and Health Practitioners (NAATSIHWP) invites the health sector and all Australians to help celebrate the achievements and evolution of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Worker and Health Practitioner workforce.

The Aboriginal Health Council of SA (AHCSA) has explained that “within the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community this workforce is renowned as a vital and reliable resource critical to improved health and wellbeing outcomes. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workers and Health Practitioners work on the frontline of Australia’s primary health care system. They are rarely part of the fly in fly out workforce, but instead have a lived experience in and deep understanding of the communities they serve. Their combination of clinical, cultural, social and linguistic skills delivers an engagement capability and community reach that sets them apart from others working in the health care system.”

“They act as cultural brokers; health system navigators; and provide a high standard of culturally safe and responsive primary health care. Their ability to respond to the clinical, social and cultural needs and contexts of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families and communities positions them as unique among Health Professionals.”

On the National Day of Recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workers and Health Practitioners and everyday, thank you to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workers and Health Practitioners for their hard work supporting the community, keeping our mob’s health in our own hands.

You can read the NAATSIHWP media release National Day of Recognition for Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander Health Workers and Health Practitioners here.

Alarming rise in First Nations suicide

Ashleigh-Sue Chatters was sketching designs for her butterfly tattoo in the weeks before her death. Having struggled with mental illness since her teenage years, the 28-year-old Palawa woman told her mother the delicate insect planned for her upper arm was an ode to her will to live. “To her, the butterfly was a symbol of survival and that she hadn’t given up on herself yet, even though the system had given up on her,” her mother Tara Chatters said. Ashleigh had spent numerous inpatient stints in Victoria’s burdened mental health system. In February she was admitted to Dandenong hospital’s psychiatric unit, in Melbourne. She took her own life there four days later on 25 February.

Tara believes the biggest barrier her daughter faced was systemic racism in the mental health sector that undermined her ability to get culturally appropriate treatment. “She was labelled just another black fella. They thought well, this is just how they are and it’s a waste of time helping her,” Tara says. “They would look at her as an Aboriginal girl and think she was a drug addict even when the test results didn’t show that. I don’t want another Aboriginal girl to die because people just look at her like she’s not worth saving.”

Ashleigh’s death is part of alarming increase in First Nations suicide in Victoria. Thelest datafrom the state coroner revealed 35 Indigenous Victorians took their own life last year, a 75% increase, despite a drop in suicide in the state’s broader population. It is a trend that is also replicated nationally, where the rate of Indigenous suicide has nearly doubled in the past decade.

To read The Guardian article ‘I’m scared someone else will lose their child this way’: the alarming rise in First Nations suicide in full click here.

Ashleigh-Sue’s brother Wade Chatters and mum Tara. Photo: Jackson Gallagher, Guardian Australia.

Remote community cost of living crisis

With grocery bills rapidly increasing due to supply chain issues and rising inflation, all Australians are feeling the pinch. But in remote Aboriginal communities, the situation is even more dire. A social media post of a receipt from the Docker River store in the remote indigenous community of Kaltukatjara, in the NT – where many families already live close to the breadline – showed a 2L bottle of Pura Milk cost $9.20. While supermarket chain Aldi has warned grocery prices will “inevitably” continue to rise after the inflation rate surged to 6.1%, by comparison, at a Sydney Woolworths, the same product this week cost $3.10.

A 2021 AMSANT report showed groceries were 56% more expensive in remote communities than regional supermarkets in the NT due to poor quality roads and long supply chains. Back in December 2021 during the Morrison government’s Food Security inquiry, the then WA Treasurer, Ben Wyatt, said “Improving food security and making affordable, fresh and nutritious foods more available in remote indigenous communities is an important part of improving the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.” According to a Docker River resident “Nothing has been done” to since then to resolve the cost of living crisis.

To view the news.com.au article ‘Disgusting’: Outrage over cost of living crisis in Aboriginal township where 2L of milk costs $9.20 in full click here.

Two litres of Pura milk now costs $9.20 in Kaltukatjara, in the Northern Territory, showing the dire cost of living crisis in the remote indigenous communities. Image source: news.com.au.

Diabetes rate among world’s highest

Selina and Rhonda Bob are waiting for a lifesaving phone call — one that could be years away. Their kidneys are failing, and they hope they won’t have to wait too long on the organ transplant list. Every week, the sisters are bound to a chair for 16 hours as their blood is pumped out of their bodies and filtered through a dialysis machine. The pair were both diagnosed with diabetes – a disease that can damage the kidneys — at a staggeringly young age. And in this isolated pocket of the world, these sisters are not alone in their prognosis.

New research has found that rates of diabetes in Central Australia are amongst the highest ever seen worldwide – and they are getting worse, with more people diagnosed every year at far younger ages than ever seen before. The lead author is Matthew Hare, an endocrinologist at Royal Darwin Hospital and senior research officer at Menzies School of Health Research, said the new research showed a growing diabetes epidemic in remote NT communities, which was “unprecedented in terms of prevalence. Rates of diabetes in these remote communities are increasing such that now 29% of adults in remote Aboriginal communities are living with diabetes, and this is largely type 2 diabetes. The findings of our research were particularly concerning for the Central Australian region where communities are having diabetes prevalence rates up to 40% of adults.”

You can read the ABC News article Diabetes rates in Central Australia among highest in the world, new research shows in full here.

Selina and Rhonda Bob spend 16 hours a week on dialysis, but they are doing everything in their power to live a healthy lifestyle. Photo: Xavier Martin, ABC News.

GP role in primary mental health care

Tim Senior, a GP at Tharawal Aboriginal Corporation and a Senior Lecturer in General Practice and Indigenous Health at Western Sydney School of Medicine is one of nine GPs who have contributed to an article Myth-busting: role of the GP in primary mental health care published in MJA InSight (a newsletter for medical professionals produced by the Medical Journal of Australia) today.

The authors write “In recent years, we GPs have seen a steep increase in mental distress, and the cracks in the system that fail the most vulnerable are familiar to us all. We are well aware of the enormous unmet need for mental health care at this time and we agree with Rosenberg and Hickie, who wrote in InSight+ recently that primary mental health care reform is long overdue. Where we disagree is in our understanding of the problem and in particular, the role of GPs in contributing to the current mental health crisis and its various solutions.

The article authors said “We [GPs] are the best value mental health care in the country using less than 3% of the total mental health budget to see the majority of the patients needing community care. Current underfunding added to rhetoric that alienates and misrepresents GPs seems a counterproductive strategy if we are to provide better mental health outcomes for all Australians.”

To read the article in full click here.

Dr Tim Senior. Image source: RACGP newsGP.

AMSANT CEO – do alcohol bans work?

There’s been furious debate about the future and safety of hundreds of remote communities in the NT after alcohol restrictions imposed under the NT Emergency Response in 2007 were lifted last month. The NT Government says the intervention era bans were racist, and passed legislation in May this year, giving affected communities the ability to choose or “opt in” if they want alcohol bans.

A similar debate is happening in WA where the Director of Liquor Licensing is investigating whether all mid and full-strength alcohol should be banned from takeaway sales in the Pilbara and Kimberley. But do bans like this actually effect change in communities?

In an ABC Radio National broadcast John Paterson – CEO of Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance NT, Marianne Nungarri Skeen – Jaru Woman from Halls Creek region, former health worker and Harold Tracey – Broome Shire President discuss the issue.

To listen to the ABC Radio National broadcast The Roundtable: Are alcohol restrictions in remote communities working? click here.

Signs are supplied to premises that opt into the liquor restriction scheme, which is enforceable by WA Police. Image source: ABC Radio National website.

CATSINaM conference 18–20 August

The Congress of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Nurses and Midwives (CATSINaM) is holding its 25th Anniversary National Conference from Thursday 18 to Saturday 20 August 2022.  The 4 event series, Opening, Exhibition, Conference and Gala Dinner celebrating 25 years since the organisation was founded on Gadigal Country in 1997 to the day, will commemorate and honour both individual and collective activism by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander nurses and midwives.

NACCHO CEO Pat Turner will deliver a keynote address on the first day of the conference on 19 August 2022 and LaVerne Bellear Bundjalung, CEO of Redfern Aboriginal Medical Service will be a guest speaker.

To view a CATSINaM conference flyer click here and click here to access the CATSINaM National Conference website page

Sector Jobs

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Pleas for governments to ‘listen’

Image in feature tile is from The Guardian article NT intervention a ‘debacle’ and second attempt should be made, commission told, 22 June 2017. Photo: David McLain, Getty Images, Aurora Creative.

Please for governments to ‘listen’

The intervention rolled into the NT like an unseasonal storm. That’s how some Territorians who lived through the policy – formally named the emergency response – remember its arrival, 15 years ago. John Daly, a remote community resident from Nauiyu, was the Northern Land Council’s chairman at the time, says “I think it was done in a way that was so hurtful. When you look at the intervention, it was based on a report – this wasn’t the response [the authors] wanted from their report. Ten years after allegations of abuse and violence in the Indigenous community of Mutitjulu sparked the NT intervention, locals say very little has been achieved.

“Why basically ride in there and take away the rights of every traditional owner and Aboriginal person?” In north-east Arnhem Land, Djambarrpuyngu clan cultural leader Lapulung Dhamarrandji remembers residents from Milingimbi fleeing to neighbouring homelands and communities out of fear. “To us, it was like there wasn’t any blue skies around us, it was covered with thick grey clouds – when the intervention came, it was like that,” he said. “The fear inside us all, I mean we are parents just like you people you know.”

To view the ABC News article Residents who lived through the NT intervention plead for governments to ‘listen’, 15 years on in full click here.

Miriam Rose Ungunmerr Baumann said there was a failure to listen deeply and hear residents’ solutions. Photo: Felicity James, ABC News.

PAMS Healthcare Hub built for the desert

Through a series of projects in the arid environment of WA predominantly built for Aboriginal communities, Kaunitz and Yeung Architecture has proposed a different approach to working with the beautiful, yet harsh, desert environment. Designing with, not for, remote Aboriginal communities, Kaunitz and Yeung are changing the narrative of remote regional architecture – creating a new vernacular for Australian desert architecture.

While one of their most recent projects, the award winning Puntukurnu Aboriginal Medical Service (PAMS) Healthcare Hub, may be the most prominent of Kaunitz and Yeung’s work, some of their earlier Western Desert projects were fundamental in breaking the architectural tradition already present in Australia’s desert areas. The work of Kaunitz and Yeung has been iterative. Starting with the Wanarn Health Clinic in 2015 which, in David Kaunitz’s words, “smashed the mould of verandah buildings” then the Punmu and Parnngurr clinics in 2018, each project has learned from the previous and the design has evolved.

To view The Property Tribune article Creating architecture for the Australian desert in full click here.

The new PAMS building has been constructed around an internal courtyard which provide shad in summer and shelter from the harsh sun. Image source: The Property Tribune.

Pharmacy trial puts patients in danger

A small Aboriginal community in Far North Queensland, the town has in effect been selected as one of the sites for a radical and potentially dangerous experiment in patient care. That experiment is the Queensland Government’s plan to allow pharmacists to diagnose, prescribe and dispense up to 150 different S4 drugs across 23 medical conditions.

Dr King, a Yued/Whadjuk Noongar man, explains why he fears the worst. I first learnt that Yarrabah would be a site for the North Queensland pharmacy trial back in March. I found out because a journalist sent me those secret, confidential documents that had originally been leaked to Australian Doctor earlier this year. I did not find out because the community was consulted about what was coming— the local council, the ED next door to us, both knew nothing. I was confused, and I was angry.

The government says this trial will allow pharmacists to compensate for GP workforce shortages in North Queensland. If Yarrabah is on the list, then that is nonsense. We have seven FTE GPs, and even in the most difficult parts of the pandemic, we haven’t had shortages. To slap us with this trial with no consultation about what is happening is ludicrous and offensive. It also shows a deep level of ignorance at the highest level of Queensland Health for what actually goes on within communities from a primary health perspective and the vulnerabilities of our patients.

To view the Australian Doctor article Pharmacy prescribing trial: ‘The lives of my patients are in real danger’ in full click here.

Dr Jason King, Gurriny Yealamucka Health Service, Yarrabah, QLD. Image source: Australian Doctor.

Use the NDIS? We want your story

Do you or your family use the NDIS??

We’d like to film your story?!

People from all locations welcome.

Your time will be paid $$.

Please contact Chris Lee by email here or by phoning 02 6246 9352.

Urgent need for more mental health services

More than two in five Australians experience a mental health issue in their lifetime. In 2020–21 more than 3.4 million Australians sought help from a health care professional for their mental health. These sobering statistics are from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) National Study of Mental Health and Wellbeing, with in-depth data from more than 5,500 people aged 16 to 85 years old. The study found that during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, 21.4% of Australians had experienced a mental health disorder in the previous 12 months, with anxiety the most common disorder. Almost half (47.1%) of those who had a mental health disorder in 2020–21 sought support, an increase since the last study in 2007.

Across their entire lifetime around one in six (16.7%) Australians reported having had suicidal thoughts or behaviour, with females (18.7%) having a higher rate than males (14.5%). 38% of Australians were close to someone who has attempted or died by suicide, a tragedy which impacts family, friends and communities.

You can read the media release Major Mental Health Study Released issued by Minister for Health and Aged Care, Mark Butler MP and the Assistant Minister for Rural and Regional Health, Emma McBride MP in full here.

Other organisations also issued media releases in response to the ABC data:

Image source: High Street Medical Clinic.

Change starting for VIC LGBTQI community

From growing up with his ‘foot in two camps’ – queer and Indigenous, to being the voice of the LGBTQI community in Victoria, Victorian Commissioner for LGBTIQ+ Communities Todd Fernando says it’s been an exciting journey. Todd Fernando is the first out queer, Indigenous person to be appointed a commissioner in Australia. For this descendant of Kalarie people from the Wiradjuri nation, growing up with his “foot in two camps” was not an easy task.

“Being a young Wiradjuri person, we were fighting for the recognition of our culture. I had to put my queerness on the back burner and, and really not allow it to overshadow what we were trying to do within the Wiradjuri space,” Fernando said. Fernando grew up in the regional rural town of Condobolin, located on the Lachlan River in central-western NSW. “I was very fortunate to grow up on country and to learn about my culture in a variety of ways with my family. One of the things that I did miss out on was connecting to my culture through my queerness.”

To view the Star Observer article We’re starting to see change, says Todd Fernando Victorian Commissioner for LGBT communities in full click here.

Todd Fernando, Victorian Commissioner for LGBTIQ+ Communities at the opening of the Victorian Pride Centre in July 2021. Photo: Gabriel Jia. Image source: Star Observer.

Better anti-racism training needed

Monash researchers have found medical practitioners are promoting ill health through racist practices with Aboriginal health consumers. Monash academic Petah Atkinson published the findings from her PhD research Aboriginal Health Consumers Experiences of an Aboriginal Health Curriculum Framework in The Australian Indigenous HealthBulletin Journal with co-authors Professor Karen Adams and Professor Marilyn Baird.

The study found unwanted care included three racism themes: 1) The practitioner perpetuating and being unresponsive to racism; 2) Assimilation; and 3) An inability to consider the impacts of settler colonialism. Desired care included four anti-racist themes: 1) Responsiveness to racism and settler colonialism; 2) Advocating within the settler colonial health system; 3) Engaging with the diversity of Aboriginal ways of knowing, being and doing; 4) Lifelong learning and reflection.

In settler colonised countries, medical education is situated in colonist informed health systems. This form of colonisation is characterised by overt racism and contributes to the significant health inequities experienced by Indigenous peoples. Curriculum in these countries includes content relating to Indigenous peoples but doesn’t recognise Aboriginal knowledge as valuable nor consider the Indigenous health consumer’s nuanced lived experience of the delivery of medical care.

To view the Monash University article Better anti-racism training needed for medical practitioners in full click here.

Image source: INSIGHT Into Diversity.

Broaden your horizons with AGPT program

General practice is the perfect career choice for any doctor who enjoys diagnosing and treating a wide range of conditions and building long term relationships with their patients. With GPs at the frontline of primary healthcare during this recent pandemic, there are more opportunities than ever for a rewarding career in general practice – particularly those who choose to train in rural and remote Australia.

The Australian General Practice Training (AGPT) Program

Expressions of interest are open for the 2023 Australian General Practice Training (AG{T) Program (AGPT). The AGPT trains medical registrars in general practice. Registrars who achieve their fellowship through the program can work as GPs anywhere in Australia. Explore our pathway to Fellowship for a visual representation of the suggested steps for your journey.

By expressing interest, the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) will support you will valuable information through the application process.

You can express your interest by visiting the RACGP website 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.

16th National Rural Health Conference

In the lead up to the recent Federal election, the crisis in rural health received considerable media attention. It is well understood that the lack of sufficient health professionals and limited access to healthcare, result in lower life expectancy and higher levels of disease and injury in rural, regional and remote communities compared to metropolitan populations.

“If we are going to make significant inroads into improving access to affordable, high-quality healthcare, we need to bring together the whole rural health sector to learn from others about effective, innovative and tailored, place-based solutions for our rural communities,” said Dr. Gabrielle O’Kane, CEO of the National Rural Health Alliance (the Alliance). To this end, the Alliance will host the 16th National Rural Health Conference from 2-4 August 2022 in Brisbane, Queensland.

To read the National Rural Health Alliance media release 16th National Rural Health Conference from 2–4 August 2022 ‘Bridging social distance; rural health innovating and collaborating’ in full click here.

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: NT COVID-19 cases on the rise

Image in the feature tile is from the ABC News website.

NT COVID-19 cases on the rise

NT health experts say they are “alarmed” about a recent spike in COVID-19 cases, saying the territory’s infection rate is growing at a higher rate per capita than the national average. Their warning comes as coronavirus cases rise across the country, marking the start of what Australia’s Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly has described as the start of a new Omicron wave. Professor Kelly said the BA.4 and BA.5 sub-variants of the COVID-19 Omicron strain were highly infectious, and that cases were expected to surge in coming weeks.

Data shows that surge may have already started in the NT, which recorded 671 cases on Tuesday — the highest daily caseload since February and a dramatic jump from 469 cases on Monday. That’s higher percentage per capita than the national average, according to John Paterson, CEO of the Aboriginal Medical Services Alliances of the Northern Territory (AMSANT). “[The figures] make us 22 per cent above the national per capita average on a seven-day rolling average, which is alarming and concerning for our members,” he said. “So, we’ve got to seriously consider perhaps some mandatory public health measures, especially for our most at-risk population and our community members. This is alarming for us.”

To view the view the ABC News article COVID-19 cases are rising in the Northern Territory as Australia approaches a new Omicron wave in full click here.

Territorians are being encouraged to wear face masks to combat the virus’s spread. Photo: Che Chorley, ABC News.

Telehealth cuts leave remote patients behind

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) has once again urged the federal government to make Medicare rebates for longer telehealth phone consultations a permanent fixture of the nation’s telehealth scheme so that patients living outside of major cities can get the care they need when they need it. It comes following reports of a study, which found that 40% of people living in rural and remote areas had internet speeds that were less than 28 kilobits per second. This makes conducting telehealth video consultations challenging, if not impossible, given that the minimum recommended speed for video calls is 600 kilobits per second. In addition, other people are not confident using the technology or find the cost of purchasing a smartphone or laptop prohibitive.

RACGP Vice President Dr Bruce Willett  said “Removing Medicare rebates for longer consults is not only particularly detrimental for patients in the bush but also older patients across Australia, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and those with disability or limited mobility. This is troubling as these patient cohorts already have poorer health outcomes than the general population. We are effectively denying healthcare access to those who need it most.”

To view the view the RACGP media release Rural and remote patients left behind by telehealth cuts in full click here. The AMA has also raised concerns in a media release, available here, that the dropping of a number of telephone Medicare items by the Government on 1 July has left vulnerable people at risk.

Image source: Hospital + Healthcare.

Grants to improve cancer outcomes

Assistant Minister for Indigenous Health Senator Malarndirri McCarthy today announced that nine grants totalling over $1 million have been awarded to improve cancer outcomes, including three aimed at reducing the impacts of cancer on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Senator McCarthy said that Cancer Australia’s Supporting people with cancer grants will fund locally-based programs to make a much needed difference in regional and remote Indigenous Australian communities. “These grants are a step in the right direction to improve wellbeing, provide support and increase equitable cancer outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.”

To view Assistant Minister for Indigenous Health Senator Malarndirri McCarthy’s media release New opportunities to improve Indigenous cancer outcomes click here.

Cancer Council SA’s Yarning Circles provide a way to comfortably connect with the community and break down any barriers or fears that may exist with regards to cancer. Image source: Cancer Council SA website.

Remote areas lack quality drinking water

Australians in more than 400 remote or regional communities lack access to good-quality drinking water, while about 8% of Australia’s population is not included in reporting on access to clean water, according to researchers at The Australian National University (ANU). The researchers reviewed public reporting by 177 water utilities to measure gaps in drinking water quality in regional and remote Australia.

They assessed water quality performance against the Australian Drinking Water Guidelines (ADWG), which provide guidance to water regulators and suppliers on monitoring and managing drinking water quality. The researchers found at least 25,245 people across 99 locations with populations of fewer than 1,000 people had accessed water services that did not comply with the health-based guideline values at least once in 2018–19.

They also identified 408 regional and remote locations with a combined population of 627,736 people that failed to measure up to either health-based guidelines or the ADWG’s aesthetic determinants of good water quality across taste, colour and odour. Furthermore, 40% of all locations with reported health-based non-compliances were remote Indigenous communities. Lead author of a peer-reviewed paper published in Nature Partner Journal Clean Water, Dr Paul Wyrwoll said their research also shows Australia’s national reporting of drinking water quality is not fit-for-purpose.

To view the ANU media release Aussies living remotely lack access to quality drinking water in full click here. You can also access a related Nature article Measuring the gaps in drinking water quality and policy across regional and remote Australia here.

Beswick’s water is very high in calcium. Photo: Isaac Nowroozi, ABC News.

Cervical cancer self-screening resources

The Australian Government Department of Health and Aged Care have produced a range of National Cervical Screening Program (NCSP) resources, including videos (such as the one below), posters, brochures and fact sheets. The resources, available here include ones specifically tailored for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women:

  • a visual guide to help understand Cervical Screening Test results
  • an A3 poster to promote the National Cervical Screening Program
  • visual guide to help understand how to take a vaginal sample for a Cervical Screening Test
  • a video (below) explaining how to take a Cervical Screening Test sample if self-collection is chosen as a screening option for their Cervical Screening Test.

PrioritEYES survey participants thanked

This year in JulEye, NACCHO wants to give a shout out to all ACCHOs that completed the PrioritEYES Survey open from 8 April to 20 May 2022. The information gathered will help us tackle gaps in eye care for our ACCHOs and their communities.

80% of all ACCHOs provided a response to the PrioritEYES survey – a huge achievement and information that will help us progress ACCHO eye care needs.

We learnt, 81% ACCHOs that responded are interested in greater ACCHO ownership and leadership in eye care. We are excited to work towards this as ACCHOs are best placed to support eye and vision care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

ACCHOs will hear from us soon about the findings from the survey and what’s next.

JulEye is also a good reminder to get your eyes tested, wear eye protection, and eat well to maintain healthy eyesight.

Puggy Hunter Memorial Scholarship Scheme

The Puggy Hunter Memorial Scholarship Scheme (PHMSS) is designed to encourage and assist undergraduate students in health-related disciplines to complete their studies and join the health workforce. The scheme provides scholarships for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people studying an entry level health course.

The Australian Government established the Scheme as a tribute to the late Dr Arnold ‘Puggy’ Hunter’s outstanding contribution to First Nations Australians’ health and his role and Chair of the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO). A NACCHO News special tribute edition available here provides an insight to Puggy and his tireless efforts to improve Aboriginal health.

PHMSS will open for applications on Monday 29 August 2022 for studies undertaken in 2023, closing Monday 10 October 2022. Online applications will be available from this website once the scheme opens.

If you would like to be sent the link to the application once the scheme opens, please register for application updates, click here.

PHMSS Deadly Health Professions recipient Shaydeen Stocker (pictured above with her husband and three children) has started her RN Grad program at SJOG in Midland. Image source: Australian College of Nursing First Nations health scholarships webpage.

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: NACCHO CEO at Disability Royal Commission

Image in feature tile is of Rex Munungurr’s wheelchair, which isn’t suitable for uneven ground. Photo: Tamara Howie. Image source: The Guardian, 5 November 2019 article The land the NDIS forgot: the remote Indigenous communities losing the postcode lottery.

NACCHO CEO at Disability Royal Commission

Yesterday NACCHO CEO and Lead Convener of the Coalition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peaks organisations Pat Turner gave evidence on Day 4 of the Disability Royal Commission Public hearing 25 – The Operation of the NDIS for First Nations people with disability in remote and very remote communities. Ms Turner gave a brief overview of NACCHO’s work, the types of services provided by ACCHOs and how many ACCHOs are expanding into disability and aged care service delivery. Ms Turner noted that a third of ACCHOs are in remote or very remote locations and those ACCHOs deliver over one million episodes of care each year.

You can access the Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability website here for more detail about hearing 25 and you can access a transcript of Day 4 of the hearing here.

Remote First Nations parents fear losing kids

Indigenous parents caring for children with a disability in remote communities aren’t seeking assistance from services due to fears their kids will be taken away, an inquiry has been told. This week the Disability Royal Commission has been examining the experiences of thousands of First Nations people with disabilities in isolated communities.

Deputy CEO of the First Persons Disability Network, June Riemer, said she was aware of nine families in Utopia, about three hours’ drive from Alice Springs, with children with severe disabilities who never left the house. “For our vulnerable families who may have children with severe disabilities, they’re afraid they’ll be taken rather than supported,” she told the inquiry yesterday. “They were hidden from the community because there was a fear that the children would be be taken. There is that fear across Australia.”

NACCHO CEO Pat Turner, said data showed there were significant underspends in NDIS plans for Indigenous people. (This) demonstrates that even though our people are becoming NDIS participants, they can’t access the services they need,” she said. “This is compounded in remote and very remote areas. Many services are not available, or those that are may not be culturally safe.”

To view The Canberra Times article Remote Indigenous parents fear losing children click here.

NDIS participant Rex Munungurr (middle) with brothers Djayak (left) and Mithili (right) and cousin Ted Wanambi (second from left) out the front of their homes in the East Arnhem Land community of Garrthalala. Photo: Tamara Howie. Image source: The Guardian.

Climate change is white colonisation

‘Climate change is racist’. So reads the title of a recent book by British journalist Jeremy Williams. While this title might seem provocative, it’s long been recognised that people of colour suffer disproportionate harms under climate change – and this is likely to worsen in the coming decades. However, most rich white countries, including Australia, are doing precious little to properly address this inequity. For the most part, they refuse to accept the climate debt they owe to poorer countries and communities.

The Lowitja Institute, Australia’s national body for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health research, says climate change: disrupts cultural and spiritual connections to Country that are central to health and wellbeing. Health services are struggling to operate in extreme weather with increasing demands and a reduced workforce. All these forces combine to exacerbate already unacceptable levels of ill-health within Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander populations.

To read the Daily Bulletin article Climate change is white colonisation of the atmosphere. It’s time to tackle this entrenched racism in full click here.

Members of Seed, Australia’s first Indigenous youth climate network. Image source: Seed website.

Managing diabetes needs comprehensive approach

The RACGP, along with the NACCHO, is also calling for a more integrated, comprehensive approach to managing diabetes in primary care. RACGP President Adjunct Professor Karen Price said the college wanted to see the introduction of a rebate for GP consults that last 60 minutes. “Greater support for longer consultations and GP-led team care will make a huge difference for people with chronic conditions,” she said. Additional investment in the Workforce Incentive Program, Professor Price said, could also help boost multidisciplinary care for people with diabetes.

NACCHO called for continued funding for the Integrating Pharmacists within ACCHOs to Improve Chronic Disease Management, better known as the IPAC project. It has recently been described by the Medical Services Advisory Committee as an “excellent example of an integrated, collaborative, patient-centred approach to primary care”.

People with diabetes were one of the cohorts which had benefitted from the project so far, according to NACCHO medicines policy and programs director Mike Stephens. “Given the project’s demonstrable acceptability and effectiveness, it is time for government to provide a sustained investment in integrating pharmacists into team-based primary care settings, including ACCHOs,” he said.

You can view The Medical Republic article Why can’t GPs approve glucose monitors? in full here.

Image source: Medical Journal of Australia.

Healthy diets can drain half of regional incomes

Research by Deakin University has found that healthy diets can cost as much as 50% of the disposable income of Australians living in rural and remote areas (including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander groups) because of rampant inflation. The study by Deakin’s Institute for Health Transformation found that before the COVID-19 pandemic, healthy diets cost a low-income family of four about one-quarter to one-third of their income (after tax).

One in four Australians indicated that grocery shopping had a big financial impact on their household budgets. The increased costs were due to global economic factors, supply chain and global shipping issues, the war in Ukraine, labour shortages, and severe weather events. The researchers found the prices of vegetables, particularly lettuce, broccoli and tomato have soared over the past few years.

To view The Canberra Times article Deakin researchers find healthy diets can drain as much as half of rural and remote community incomes in full click here.

Wirrimanu resident Ronald Mosquito says the community has few other options but to pay the prices. Image source: SBS News.

What VTP will mean for First Nations health

Dean Parkin will join the AMA National Conference live from the Garma festival in remote Arnhem Land. The From the Heart Director will speak to doctors about what a voice to parliament (VTP) will mean for Indigenous health and take questions from attendees. Mr Parkin is from the Quandamooka peoples of Minjerribah (North Stradbroke Island) in Queensland and was closely involved in the process that resulted in the historic Uluru Statement From The Heart. The Voice to Parliament was proposed in the From the Heart statement and endorsed by the AMA in 2018.

The Federal Government has committed to a referendum to establish an Indigenous Voice to Parliament in its first term. In his role Mr Parkin continues to advocate for constitutional and structural reform to enable that establishment. He will join the AMA National Conference via video link from the annual celebration of Yolngu culture to discuss what a Voice to Parliament requires and the contribution it can make to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health.

To read the Mirage article From Heart director to address national conference in full click here.

Image source: The Conversation.

VIC regional child and family program launch

Victoria’s peak child and family services body launched a travelling regional program this week, aiming to link like minded organisations within the sector, and share knowledge. The Centre for Excellence in Child and Family Welfare’s Connecting Communities Regional Tour is designed to strengthen their members’ and partners’ grasp on the unique challenges country Victorian families, children and young people experience. It’s also a chance for the Centre to hear from those working in the child and family services sector, to share ideas, start conversations, and strive to problem-solve.

Ballarat was the first stop, with local expert panellists including Child and Family Services Ballarat CEO Wendy Sturgess, Grampians Public Health Unit medical director Rosemary Aldrich, and Ballarat and District Aboriginal Co-operative CEO Karen Heap. “This forum demonstrates a genuine commitment by the Victorian Government to listen to the community about the issues that affect our sector,” Ms Sturgess said. “We would be encouraging anyone who has an interest or works in the child and family services sector to take this opportunity to amplify the voice of regional Victoria directly to the key decision makers at a State level.”

To read the Ballarat Times article Children and families focus for tour in full click here.

Image source: Law Society of NSW Journal Online.

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.