NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Big believer in ACCHO model of health care

The image in the feature tile is of Dr David Scrimgeour who has published a book about his experiences working in the Western Desert. Photo: Giulia Bertoglio, ABC Goldfields. Image source: ABC News article Reflections on Australia’s last desert nomads, Pintupi Nine and Richters, and the homelands movement published on Sunday 27 November 2022.

Big believer in ACCHO model of health care

When Australia’s last groups of nomads walked out of the desert, David Scrimgeour was the first doctor to examine them. Dr Scrimgeour recounts this experience as well as two defining moments in Aboriginal history: the homelands movement and the push for Aboriginal-controlled health care in his book Remote As Ever: The Aboriginal struggle for autonomy in the Western Desert.

Dr Scrimgeour is a big believer in the Aboriginal community-controlled model of health care and hopes his book will show how important autonomy is for Aboriginal communities — particularly, he said, as government policies have ebbed away at the pride people felt when the communities were first established. “I think it’s important that that the Australian public generally are aware of how people did get out here to these communities,” he said. “And how important taking control of your own life is for people’s health.”

Dr Scrimgeour said there was now another social movement taking place in remote Aboriginal communities that gave him hope for the future. He described it as the “caring for country movement”, which was underpinned by ranger programs. He believes funding local people to undertake ecological and cultural work on country not only helps the environment but also people’s physical and spiritual health. “Caring for country is good for the health of the people,” he said. “It’s good for the health of the country. It’s good for the health of the whole country of Australia.”

To read the ABC News article Reflections on Australia’s last desert nomads, Pintupi Nine and Richters, and the homelands movement in full click here.

Aboriginal health practitioner Tyson Stevens, remote area nurse Simon Gabrynowicz, Dr Scrimgeour and Aboriginal health worker Winmati Roberts all worked at the Spinifex Health Service. Photo: Paul Bulley. Image source: ABC News.

Researchers need to invest time to build trust

Historically in Australia, research has been a dirty word among First Nations communities, some of the most ‘researched on’ people in the country. They got no ownership of the data obtained from their participation, no recognition of their sovereignty and no help in building their own research capacity. But there’s been a national push to try to ensure that research is driven, and co-designed, by Indigenous Australians themselves. Increasingly, national funders, including the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC), require grant applicants to provide evidence of Indigenous partnerships, including Indigenous leadership.

As part of short series of articles about decolonizing the biosciences, paediatric lung researcher Pamela Laird has outlined the steps that clinical researchers must take to establish and maintain trusting relationships with Indigenous communities that they serve. Based at the University of WA and at Telethon Kids Institute, both in Perth, Laird’s team has spent years laying the foundation to study respiratory disease in Indigenous Australian children.

To view the nature article Invest the time to build trust among marginalized research participants in full click here.

Pamela Laird (right) and her team have spent years earning the trust of Indigenous Australian mothers whose children participate in respiratory research. Image source: nature.

NT set to raise age of criminal responsibility

The NT is this week set to become the first Australian jurisdiction to raise the age of criminal responsibility from 10 to 12 years old. The move has been praised by health organisations and Indigenous groups, who say it will prevent children from becoming trapped in the criminal justice system. But the plan has also come under fire from the territory’s opposition, who say it risks encouraging youth offenders, and from paediatricians who say the age should be raised even higher.

In all Australian states and territories, the current minimum age of criminal responsibility is 10 — much younger than most other developed nations. Governments on both sides of politics have been under growing pressure to radically overhaul how they deal with youth offending since a Four Corners investigation into youth detention made global headlines in 2016.

At the centre of the investigation was the treatment of detainees inside Don Dale Youth Detention Centre near Darwin. The shocking vision included in the episode led to a royal commission which, among other things, recommended raising the age of criminal responsibility to 12. This is below the United Nations’ recommended minimum age of criminal responsibility, which was set at 14 by the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child in 2019.  Last year, in an escalation of international pressure, 31 UN member states called on Australia to raise the age as part of the Universal Periodic Review. But so far, only the NT and the ACT have announced plans to legislate the change.

To view the ABC News article Northern Territory set to become first Australian jurisdiction to raise age of criminal responsibility. Here’s what that means in full click here.

The NT’s minimum age of criminal responsibility is set to to be raised from 10 to 12. Photo: Tristan Hooft, ABC News.

WA Premier needs to “take notice” of evidence

Mark McGowan says “activists” like former Australian of the Year Fiona Stanley, who are campaigning for major reform of WA’s youth justice system, are not “dealing with the real world”. Professor Stanley, at the weekend described WA as the “worst” State for the development health of children. She called for the age of criminality to increase from 10 to 14, for the juvenile Unit 18 at Casuarina Prison to close by Christmas and for the McGowan Government to adopt Aboriginal service-led solutions.

The highly-respected child health advocate also publicly urged Mr McGowan to “take notice” of research and evidence that showed early intervention could prevent children from being locked-up. “We know from our studies, in our Telethon Kids Institute, that nearly 90 per cent of the children who have gone into Banksia and have been transferred into Casuarina have a major developmental disorder, either FASD (fetal alcohol syndrome) or ADHD or an intellectual disability. It’s not just FASD — it’s early life trauma, it’s actually intergenerational trauma.” Prof Stanley said. “Now, if you know that and understand it — and we have briefed every minister about that — how could you then do what’s happening to children in Banksia and Casuarina … it beggars belief.”

Former Labor premier Dr Carmen Lawrence joined forces with Prof Stanley to criticise the current Labor Government’s approach to youth detention, saying “it was a “disgrace” that so many young people were still being incarcerated in WA and that it was a “breach of any decent standards” to detain children at an adult prison. If you think of your own children or grandchildren, you’ll know that if they were kept in solitary confinement, even for an hour, they would start to climb up the walls. It’s inevitable that children will not behave well in those circumstances, so those practices have to stop,” she said.

To read the Kalgoolie Miner article Banksia Hill: Premier Mark McGowan slams activists’ ‘fanciful’ ideas regarding WA’s youth justice system in full click here.

On Sunday, Professor Stanley endorsed a suggestion that because 80% of the children in detention were Aboriginal, the aim should be for 80% of the facility’s staff to be Aboriginal. Photo: Andrew Ritchie, The West Australian.

AEC launches First Nations enrolment drive

The Australian Electoral Commission has launched a month-long advertising and communication campaign aimed at empowering First Nations Australians to have their say at electoral events. Electoral Commissioner Tom Rogers says the campaign is aimed at the estimated 101,000 Indigenous Australians who are not enrolled to vote.

“Australia’s estimated Indigenous enrolment rate of 81.7% is the highest it’s ever been, but we’re not going to be satisfied until we’ve closed the gap with the broader national enrolment rate,” Mr Rogers said. “There is clearly the likelihood of a referendum soon with a topic specific to First Nations Australians, making high levels of enrolment and engagement even more important.”

To read the AEC media release Vote Loud. Vote Proud. AEC launches First Nations enrolment drive in full here.

CSIRO postgraduate scholarships available

The CSIRO has Master and PhD scholarships available for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students who are enrolled in an Australian university and wish to undertake a postgraduate research degree.

If you have studied in any of the following disciplines, the CSIRO is especially keen to hear from you:

  • science
  • technology
  • engineering
  • maths.

The CSIRO postgraduate scholarships provide additional funding to a research training program (RTP) Scholarship, Centrelink education scheme payment or equivalent scholarship. Applicants must be of Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander descent and enrolled in an Australian university.

Students can apply at any time of the year!!

You can find more information about the CSIRO Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Postgraduate Scholarships by clicking 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: Ancient practice helping Kimberley

The image in the feature tile is of a cultural healer treating a patient’s knee by rubbing in red ochre and singing healing songs. The image appeared in an article ‘The women’s song is so strong’: cultural healing in the Kimberley published in The Guardian yesterday, Monday 14 November 2022. Photo: Richard Wainwright, AAP.

Ancient practice helping the Kimberley

Deep in WA’s outback, in a region haunted by trauma and loss, a group of elderly women carry out an ancient healing practice. Red ochre is rubbed into a patient’s knee as they sing a powerful song, their arthritic hands working in a liquid motion. The healers have seen plenty of pain – both physical and spiritual – among those seeking their help.

“We see their eyes when they come to us. We see the eyes and the eyes tell us that person is sick,” a healer said. “They come to us ladies and we sing that healing song to them. We put the red ochre on them first to protect them, because the women’s song is so strong. And after that, they feel real good. They feel settled and calm and everything.”

Jalngangurru Healing is a trial program connecting patients in the Kimberley with male and female cultural healers. It targets clients in Fitzroy Crossing, Derby and surrounding communities, supported by the Kimberley Aboriginal Law and Culture Centre and Emama Nguda Aboriginal Corporation with federal funding. But the demand for its services is flooding in from across the nation.

“It went active on social media and it just went mad,” said Emama Nguda chief executive Ben Burton. “There were people from all over Australia sending messages trying to access help … people who are just desperate, in pain and suffering from mental health, loss after loss after loss and depression. All the feedback so far from people is it’s just life-changing.”

To view the Australian Associated Press article Ancient practice helping to heal Kimberley in full click here.

Tammy Solonec is helping people access traditional cultural healing in WA’s north. Photo: Richard Wainwright. Image source: AAP.

Repeated breaches of child rights at detention centre

Save the Children is appalled by the footage from WA’s Banksia Hill Juvenile Detention Centre aired by ABC’s Four Corners and condemns the conduct as a gross violation of children’s rights. The video shows a boy being handcuffed, forcibly held down and sat on by guards in a dangerous restraint technique known as ‘folding up’, with reports several other boys have been subjected to similar practices. The ABC footage is further evidence that children’s rights are continuing to be violated at Banksia Hill Juvenile Detention Centre, highlighting the urgent need for an overhaul of WA’s youth justice system before more irreparable harm is done.

To view the Save the Children media release Repeated breaches of child rights in WA youth detention must end now in full click here.

In a related article Union: ‘Chronic understaffing’ contributing to stress and aggression among Banksia Hill child detainees available here a union representing youth custodial officers say “chronic understaffing” at Banksia Hill Detention Centre is contributing to the heightened stress and aggression among child detainees.

The CPSU/CSA on Monday released a letter its leadership sent to the Department of Justice in May 2021 – 18 months ago – that sounded the alarm on safety concerns at the facility. The letter said dangerously low staffing levels was putting the workforce at risk, denying the children in custody proper rehabilitation and resulting in “rolling lockdowns”.

The 15-year-old boy spent more than 60% of his recent stint in custody, in unlawful solitary confinement. Image source: ABC News.

Flooding makes existing disadvantage worse

Australia is currently experiencing its third consecutive year of a La Niña weather cycle, with more rainfall than average expected over the spring and summer months and a heightened risk of floods, tropical cyclones, prolonged heatwaves and grass fires in southern Australia.  According to the Human Rights Council Report 75-80% of the world’s population will be negatively impacted by climate change. It also states climate change will exacerbate existing poverty and inequality and have the most severe impact on our poor.

Indigenous people in Australia make up just 3.8% of the population. Still, they account for nearly 30% of those living in poverty and up to 50% in remote communities. Many live in poor, overcrowded housing not prepared for natural disasters or the effects of climate change such as persistently hotter temperatures. In addition, there is limited nearby infrastructure or resources to prepare for and respond to emergencies.

All levels of government have been criticised for a lack of action in supporting Indigenous communities during times of crisis. This now needs to be addressed urgently, given the destructive weather is forecast to continue in the coming months. Earlier this year, when floods hit the town of Lismore in NSW, the local Indigenous community was left to fend for themselves, with many people losing their homes and possessions. First Nations communities were among those worst affected, with many people stranded without access to food or clean water.

To read the Mirage article Effects of climate change such as flooding makes existing disadvantages for Indigenous communities so much worse in full click here.

Chelsea Claydon (left) and Izzy Walton (right) have been running the Koori Kitchen in Lismore, which is still providing 100s of meals to flood-affected residents on the Northern Rivers. Photo: Matt Coble. Image source: ABC News.

Workplace racism leaves workers traumatised

Between 2018 and 2020, Ms Jacqueline Stewart worked within the NSW Health Education Centre Against Violence (ECAV) — a unit responsible for helping with the prevention and response to violence, abuse and neglect, including within Indigenous communities. She resigned in 2021 after, she said, her complaints to NSW Health management about racism and bullying were not properly addressed.

There were several incidents, but some of the main ones she made formal complaints about included that a contracted worker in her team painted her face black at a work function and then posted it on the ECAV’s Facebook page at the time. Ms Stewart describes her time at NSW Health as “emotional destruction” and says the impacts of racism and bullying are long lasting. “It’s impacted my family. It’s been a massive impact.”

Research conduct last year by consulting firm MindTribes and the University of Melbourne, found that 76% of respondents either witnessed discrimination, experienced discrimination, or had both witnessed and experienced it, and 69% of respondents felt “low or no confidence” in the reporting process.

The latest data follows a report from Diversity Council Australia (DCA) called Racism at Work, released earlier this year found 88%t of respondents agreed racism was an issue in Australian workplaces and 93% agreed organisations needed to take action to address it. While support for organisations to tackle workplace racism was high, only 27%t of survey respondents said their organisations were proactively preventing workplace racism.

To view the MSN article ‘Isolated and traumatised’ workers subject to racist slurs call for employers to do more to stamp out bullying and harassment in full click here.

Jacqueline Stewart, a former employee of NSW Health, was a victim of racism. Photo: Daniel Irvine, ABC News.

Calls for input on draft Australian Cancer Plan

Minister for Health and Aged Care, Mark Butler, said the Australian Government is calling for stakeholder input on the draft Australian Cancer Plan (ACP) which is designed to provide lasting change and improve outcomes for all people affected by cancer. Australia leads the world in cancer outcomes however, it is still the leading cause of death in this country. This year alone, 50,000 people will lose their lives to cancer.

The draft ACP presents the opportunity for all Australians to comment on a ground-breaking national strategy that sets out strategic objectives, ambitions, goals and priority actions for cancer control. To make a difference we need coordinated system-wide engagement.

To view Minister Butler’s media release Consultation opens on draft Australian Cancer Plan in full click here.

Indigenous Eye Health Unit to launch book

Indigenous Eye Health Unit invite you to the launch of “Minum Barreng: The story of the Indigenous Eye Health Unit” (IEHU). This book documents the work and achievements of the IEHU over the last 15 years.
The launch will be from 10:00 – 11:30AM on Friday 2 December 2022 in the Woodward Centre, Level 10, Melbourne Law School, 185 Pelham Street, Carlton.

Registrations for the launch close on Thursday 24 November 2022.

For more information you can access a flyer about the book launch event 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: How mob view and experience cancer

The image in the feature tile is from the Yarn for Life – It’s OK To Talk About Cancer website, available here.

How mob view and experience cancer  

A new national study has launched to give Australians a better understanding of how First Nations people view and experience cancer. Funded by Cancer Australia, Kulay Kalingka – the first study of this kind in Australia – is led, designed and implemented by an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander research team at the Australian National University (ANU).

The team will collect data for 22 cancer control indicators in First Nations people. These include their knowledge, attitudes and understanding of cancer, participation in health promotion and cancer screening programs. Assistant Minister Malarndirri McCarthy, says improving cancer outcomes for First Nations people is a national priority for the Government.

To view Senator McCarthy’s media release First of its kind study to explore cancer from a First Nations perspective in full here. Below is a video of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people talking about their cancer journeys.

Mob lean on each other during floods

An Aboriginal community education centre in Shepparton is working overtime to set up a culturally safe evacuation facility and schedule food and supply drop offs to those who remain stranded. Yorta Yorta woman Leonie Dwyer is the manager of Shepparton’s Academy of Sport, Health and Education (ASHE), a service for young Aboriginal people.

With so many staff, students and families displaced, Ms Dwyer opened the ASHE office and their residential facility as a refuge. While waters are receding in Shepparton, Ms Dwyer said there’s talk that the town may be getting another downpour. “Everyone’s emotionally drained and really a bit traumatised in the sense they don’t know what’s next” she said. People are worried the flood waters will come back up, and that it might be another week until they can get out.

With the future unknown, Ms Dwyer remains staunch – saying whatever happens mob will be ok. “We’re a strong Aboriginal community here in the valley and we’ll stick together. We’re resilient. We know that,” she said. “I think that this is just another something that’s in our way, but we will get through it.”

To view the SBS NITV article Victorian Indigenous communities leaning on one another during severe floods in full click here.

Photo of flooding in Mooroopna, taken by Mooroopna local and Yorta Yorta man Neil Morris. Image source: SBS NITV.

COVID hits some more than others

For lots of Australians, their experience of the COVID-19 pandemic was one of inconvenience, with missed holidays, home haircuts, and social events moved online. But for many others, the physical, mental, emotional, and financial cost was much greater.

A new report Fault lines: An independent review into Australia’s response to COVID-19, available here, has highlighted who was worst-hit by the handling of the pandemic. The report says Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people were already affected by disproportionate rates of physical and mental ill health, along with other disadvantages, but the pandemic made them “particularly vulnerable”.

The report said that for the first 12 to 18 months of the pandemic, COVID-19 was largely kept out of remote communities thanks to the work of ACCHOs. But once the virus reached those communities, poor funding of those organisations, and inadequate health infrastructure and workforce capacity caused significant problems in containing the virus and treating those infected Those issues were compounded when governments under-utilised AACCHOs during the vaccine rollout.

To read the SBS News article Job loss, trauma, isolation: COVID hit some people more than others. Were you among them? in full click here.

Health workers practice remote outbreak response measures at an Aboriginal health clinic in Ramingining, NT, last year. Photo: Miwatj Health Aboriginal Corporation. Image source: The Washington Post.

Co-designing food sovereignty models

A project to co-design a food sovereignty model with Indigenous communities by a multidisciplinary team of researchers from QUT and University of Southern Queensland and Diabetes Australia has received a $829,628 ARC Discovery Indigenous grant. Wakka Wakka Warumungu woman Associate Professor Debbie Duthie, from QUT School of Public Health and Social Work, said food sovereignty was considered an essential element of health of First Nations people.

“Food sovereignty is a core human right that privileges Indigenous knowledges and methodologies to co-design local strategies for addressing food insecurity,” Professor Duthie said. “We aim to develop place-based food sovereignty models with both rural and urban Indigenous communities to build sustainable food systems. This project’s outcomes will ultimately lead to tailored strategies to foster food sovereignty and develop resources to preserve language and cultural foodways that can be integrated into educational programs.”

To view the QUT article Co-designing food sovereignty models for Indigenous communities in full click here.

Photo: Yurbay 2021. Image source: ACT Historic Places website.

Reducing diabetes – Ngarrindjeri pilot

A new regional diabetes program will be piloted in Ngarrindjeri country – the Coorong and the Murraylands – with the aim to reduce the burden of diabetes in Aboriginal communities. The pilot program has been co-designed with Aboriginal Elders and senior community representatives, with recent funding from the federal government’s Medical Research Future Fund.

Using a ketogenic eating program and new point-of-care testing technology will monitor health and wellbeing and aim to motivate change. Senior Lecturer in Public Health and Indigenous Health at Flinders University, Doctor Courtney Ryder said Aboriginal people in Australia are three times more likely to be diagnosed with diabetes and five times more likely to die from it than non-Indigenous Australians.

“This burden impacts on the overall health and wellbeing of Aboriginal patients, families and communities. Targeted, community co-designed intervention programs are needed to stop this ongoing cultural devastation,” Doctor Ryder said.

To view The Murray Valley Standard article Reducing burden of diabetes, starting with Ngarrindjeri pilot in full click here.

Image source: AMA InSight.

Join AMA’s Equity, Inclusion and Diversity Committee

Nominations are now open for up to five vacancies on the Australian Medical Association’s (AMA) Equity, Inclusion and Diversity Committee which develops policy and initiatives targeted towards enhancing equity and addressing discrimination in the medical profession. The AMA is inviting nominations from its members to fill up to five vacancies on its Equity, Inclusion and Diversity Committee (EIDC) for 2023–2024.

The role of the EIDC is to develop policy and initiatives targeted towards enhancing equity and addressing inequitable and discriminatory practices that exist in the medical profession. It also considers how the AMA can actively promote equity and diversity of representation in the AMA’s own governance structures. Committee members offer in-depth knowledge of, and experience in, a range of equity, inclusion and diversity issues and help to shape our work on equity, inclusion and diversity for our members and the medical workforce. T

Visit here for more information on time commitments. If you would like to get involved in the AMAEIDC please submit a short expression of interest (between 200-400 words) and your CV by email here by 5:00 PM AEDT Friday 28 October 2022.

To view the AMA article Join the AMA’s Equity, Inclusion and Diversity Committee in full click here.

Image source: Stanford University website.

Sax Institute Resource Hub

The Sax Institute is an independent, not-for-profit organisation that improves health and wellbeing by driving better use of evidence in policies, programs and services. Their Resource Hub allows you to search for downloadable files such as PDFs, videos and Word files. You can filter your search by publication date, topic keyword, type of product, as well as the Sax program associated with it.

An example of publications available via the Sax Institute Resource Hub include Establishing an enduring co-production platform in Aboriginal health; Outcomes reported in evaluations of programs designed to improve health in Indigenous people; and Murradambirra Dhangaang (make food secure): Aboriginal community and stakeholder perspectives on food insecurity in urban and regional Australia.

To access the Sax Institute Resource Hub click here.

Image source: Sax Institute Resource Hub webpage of Sax Institute 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: Redesigning maternity services for mob

The image in the feature tile is from the Holistic Care With No Limits – Empowering the Aboriginal Community on Darkinjung Country webpage of the Yerin Eleanor Duncan Aboriginal Health Services (Central Coast, Darkinjung Country) website.

Redesigning maternity services for mob

Earlier this week more than 250 representatives from First Nations communities, health services, universities and research institutes, came together in Mparntwe (Alice Springs) to explore the scope for system-wide reform to secure the ‘best start to life’ for First Nations babies and their families.

The 2022 Best Start to Life Conference: a national gathering in Mparntwe was co-hosted by Molly Wardagugu Research Centre, Charles Darwin University (CDU) and Central Australian Aboriginal Congress (CAAC) to improve maternity services for First Nations communities and, ultimately, reduce maternal health inequities in the NT.

The Charles Darwin Universities’s Co-Director at CDU’s Molly Wardaguga Research Centre and Indigenous Health Professor Yvette Roe, who is a Njikena Jawuru woman from the West Kimberly region, WA, who grew up in Darwin, spoke on CAAMA Radio about the challenges faced by first nations mothers, in bringing up strong healthy babies.

“Before colonisation, our babies were born on country, we were raised by our mothers, we were raised by grandmothers, we had cultural ceremony and we had a real connection to community – after 200 years of colonisation, we have babies too early, too small, that are very sick when they’re born, we have mothers that have babies that are very sick, we got a health system that is being designed by a colonised system, a system imposed on our people… and this has really had poor outcomes, especially with our women in very remote communities, but also our women in urban centres.” Professor Yvette Roe said.

To view the CAAMA article Maternity services redesigned for First Nations women, which includes a video of Professor Roe speaking about the aim of the The Best Start to Life national gathering and improving maternity and birthing outcomes for First Nations women across Australia, click here.

Improving tobacco and e-cigarette control

Five ANU researchers have been awarded more than $10.7 million from the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Investigator Grant scheme, to help tackle some of the world’s biggest medical and health challenges. Professor Emily Banks will receive more than $2.9 million to drive improved tobacco and e-cigarette control and provide new insights into cardiovascular disease prevention.

“Smoking remains Australia’s number one cause of premature death and disability,” Professor Banks said. “It is also a major cause of health inequity. Excellent progress by communities means that most Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people don’t smoke. At the same time, around half of all deaths at age 45 and over in this priority population are due to tobacco smoking.

“Australia is aiming for a tobacco-free future and is up against a predatory industry that is constantly innovating. E-cigarettes, or vaping, also present new challenges. My team and I will use this funding to generate and translate new insights to empower the next generation of tobacco and e-cigarette control and chronic disease prevention,” Professor Banks said.

To view the Canberra Weekly article Major ANU funding win to boost health for all Australians in full click here.

Photo: Mike Mozart, Flickr. Image source: Croakey Health Media.

Great oral health habits for kids

Smiles 4 Miles (an initiative of Dental Health Services Victoria – DHSV), the Healthy Eating Advisory Service (HEAS) and Ballarat Community Health are supporting early childhood services to improve children’s oral health and healthy eating habits. This work is highlighted in a new video case study (below) celebrating how Perridak Burron Early Learning, an Aboriginal community-owned education and care service, embedded these health priorities into their centre.

Tooth decay is largely preventable. However, public dental data shows that approximately one in four children aged five years and under who presented to public dental clinics in 2021–22 have a history of tooth decay and only 6% of Victorian children aged two to 17 eat the recommended serves of fruit and vegetables per day.

“We hope that Perridak Burron’s holistic, whole-of-service approach to healthy eating and oral health will inspire other early childhood education and care services to also make positive changes,” Smiles 4 Miles coordinator Demelza Diacogiorgis said. “Early childhood is a crucial stage in learning and development. Promoting health messages in simple ways enables children attending early childhood education and care settings to get a healthy start in life.”

To view the Bite magazine article Early childhood service leading the charge for great oral health habits in full click here.

New Deadly pharmacists training course

The new Deadly pharmacists foundation training course, co-designed by PSA and NACCHO, is designed to upskill pharmacists to work in ACCHOs. Lucky Zeniou MPS, Senior Pharmacist at the Institute for Urban Indigenous Health (IUIH) in Brisbane thinks the seven-module course, available on the PSA platform, will broaden career pathways for pharmacists.

Mike Stephens MPS, Director, Medicines Policy and Programs at NACCHO, said pharmacists can expect to gain a good understanding of the key concepts that underpin Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health, including the importance of self-determination and community control. ‘There are so many services ACCHOs can offer their community, and clinical care and pharmacy is just one part of that integrated care model,’ he said.

‘In some ACCHOs a pharmacist may be working alongside tobacco outreach workers, legal services, diabetes educators and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health workers all in the same location.’ For pharmacists interested in working in an ACCHO, Mr Stephens recommends undertaking the course before or as soon as they begin work in this space. ‘This course will be a great enabler for this emerging workforce to grow,’ he said. ‘We know many ACCHOs are looking for suitable pharmacists to employ.’

To view the Australian Pharmacist article Securing a job in an Aboriginal Community-Controlled Health Service in full click here.

Image source: PSA Deadly pharmacists foundation training course webpage.

Closing the digital exclusion gap

Tech for good’ organisation Hitnet has been working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people for over 20 years, but its recent move is going further to amplify Indigenous voices. Co-founder and director Julie Gibson has ceded the company, which brings information and services to close the digital exclusion gap in rural and remote communities, to Visual Dreaming, a First Nations technology platform drawing on cultural practices and storytelling to support Indigenous youth.

For Gibson, the business move acts as a symbol for the non-Indigenous community to make room for First Nations organisations in an authentic and meaningful way. “Myself and the other founders strongly believe that Hitnet needed First Nations innovation, knowledge, creativity and entrepreneurship to take it to the next level,” said Gibson. “It was actually us that approached Visual Dreaming after a national search of actively looking to transition out.”

“I think the time has well and truly come for businesses that operate in the First Nations space to have management structures to ensure there is solid First Nations representation, which is not tokenism, but genuine ownership and control.”

To view the Pro Bono Australia article How ‘yindyamarra’ informed a business acquisition in full, click here.

How to provide better safer care

The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted health and healthcare in many ways. One important issue is developing a better understanding of its impacts upon Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ experiences of healthcare. An important indicator of the quality and cultural safety of healthcare is whether Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people feel safe to remain in a service to receive healthcare, or whether they leave before healthcare is delivered or completed.

According to data recently reviewed by the Australian Commission on Safety and Healthcare, there are some grounds for concern that the pandemic has been associated with an increase or, at the very least, no improvement in leave events.

Another important question is how the pandemic has affected Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ access to care, given widespread reports of service closures, workforce shortages and systems under grave pressure. Dr Julieann Coombes and Keziah Bennett-Brook, researchers from the George Institute who conducted a systematic review informing national policy on leave events, suggest the issue deserves far more attention from policymakers, health services and providers, through efforts to address racism and improve cultural safety at all levels of the system.

To view the Croakey Health Media article How can health services provide safer, better care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people? in full click here.

Image source: CommunitySkills WA 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.

Global Handwashing Day

October 15 is Global Handwashing Day, a global advocacy day dedicated to increasing awareness and understanding about the importance of handwashing with soap as an effective and affordable way to prevent diseases and save lives.

In Australia trachoma remains a major cause of avoidable blindness and as a prevention, face and hand washing are critically important. Australia is the only developed country still with high levels of trachoma, and almost all cases occur in our remote Aboriginal communities. Curtin University in partnership with West Australian Country Health Service, the Directorate of Environmental Health (WA Health) and Indigenous Eye Health (University of Melbourne) have produced a 30 second video, available here, based on Milpa’s Six Steps to Stop Germs!

For more information about Global Handwashing Day 2022 click here.

The University of Melbourne’s School of Population and Global Health webpage.

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

The image in the feature tile is from an article Cardiovascular disease risk assessment for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults aged under 35 years: a consensus statement published in The Medical Journal of Australia, Monday 16 March 2020.

World Heart Day 2022

Today on World Heart Day 2022, we proudly share with you NACCHO’s new Acute Rheumatic Fever (ARF) and Rheumatic Heart Disease (RHD) logo. This logo has been created to promote the important work that we do around ARF and RHD. The logo depicts the flow of blood cells through a heart valve and also symbolises a healthy and happy person.

With the theme of World Heart Day being Use Heart for Every Heart, NACCHO would like to encourage all mob to get a health check so we can keep our hearts healthy. Cardiovascular disease can affect anyone at any age. It’s important for us to get checked out so we can live healthy lives.

For more information about World Heart Day click here.

Community-led approach to tackling RHD

On World Heart Day 2022, NACCHO would like to highlight the innovative work done towards improving the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and building better outcomes for them by our member, Mala’la Health Service Aboriginal Corporation in Maningrida, NT. Below is an extract from the article Maningrida program aims to stop the spread of rheumatic heart disease published in The NT News earlier today, available here.

Top End locals quite literally sick of the high rates of disease in their community have taken their health into their own hands. Maningrida residents drove a community-led and owned approach to tackling the increasing incidence of rheumatic heart disease (RHD). The initiative began at the ACCHO Mala’la Health Service in 2018 and has already seen success, with the long-term goal to “eradicate it completely”. “We have done some great work and the program ran beautifully for three years,” Mala’la Health Clinic Health and Community manager Lesley Woolf said. “We are now looking at revitalising it and seeing how we can enhance it.”

The latest Australian Institute of Health and Welfare data shows ARF cases increasing from 60 per 100,000 in 2016 to 69 per 100,000 in 2020. Ms Woolf said the community of just 3,000 people was identified as having some of the highest rates of ARF and RHD in the world. She said the residents had stabilised the number of new cases of heart disease where before it was dramatically rising. It is largely down to a handful of activities brought in to the community.

“What this looked like was community screening of all the school kids — we screened 400 kids and found that one in 20 had or were at risk of developing RHD,” Ms Woolf said. “It was a very high cohort of previously undiagnosed kids.” The students were educated on symptoms of heart disease and when they should present to the school nurse. “This led to a very good level of health literacy and certainly that has continued,” Ms Woolf said. It also lead to undiscovered cases able to receive earlier intervention and increase the health outcomes for these residents.

The council was also engaged to provide trailers for yard clean ups and help with repairs for housing which promoted healthy homes. As part of that Orange Sky was also brought in to provide residents with a free laundry service. Ms Woolf said the combined effort of these services and using “community champions” to ensure decision-making was all kept local was what made the program so effective. She said the introduction of the initiatives would be something of a lasting legacy in Maningrida. Ms Woolf said, “You may eventually eradicate it but in the meantime we will focus on education, promoting healthy homes and healthy environments.”

Orange Sky was brought into the community of Maningrida to help reduce incidence of ARF. Image source: Mala’la Health Service website.

Climate change victory for Torres Strait Islanders

In a groundbreaking decision last week, a United Nations Human Rights Committee found that Australia has failed to: “protect Indigenous Torres Islanders against climate change impacts, has violated their rights to enjoy their cultures, free from “arbitrary interference” with their private life, family and home.”

The decision sends a clear message that governments must act on climate change and places a duty on the Albanese Government to ensure Indigenous rights are upheld as part of climate policy and planning, according to Professor Kristen Lyons at The University of Queensland. Lyons says the decision will open “up new pathways for Indigenous communities – who are often on the frontline of the climate crisis – to defend their rights.”

To hear more about the win, a webinar will be held with the Torres Strait Group 8 and their legal team tonight, Thursday 29 September at 6.30 PM AEST. For more details about the webinar and to register click here.

To view the Croakey Health Media article Groundbreaking victory for Torres Strait Islander people in their fight against climate change in full click here.

Keeping FV victim-survivors in own homes

A program to keep victim-survivors of domestic violence in their own homes will be able to support another 1,000 families with its expansion into 14 local government areas where the critical service has been unavailable. Canterbury and Burwood, Georges River and Sutherland in Sydney, along with regional councils stretching the north, mid-west and south of the state will soon support the Staying Home Leaving Violence program that assisted more than 4,600 people last year.

The program, which attracted $32.5 million funding in the state budget, helps support victim-survivors remain in their home without the threat of their abuser. Home security audits, safety planning, counselling services and property repairs following acts of violence are among the services clients can access through the program.

In 2021-22 the program supported 4,621 clients, including 3,690 adults and 844 children, while more than 1,000 information and referral services were provided. South Coast Women’s Health and Welfare Aboriginal Corporation, Waminda, previously received $150,000 under the program. A spokeswoman said the high rates of Aboriginal clients accessing Staying Home Leaving Violence highlighted the importance of a culturally safe service. “This is especially significant, considering the under-reporting of domestic and family violence by members of our community,” she said.

To view the Brisbane Times article Critical service to help domestic violence victims stay in their homes expanded across NSW in full click here.

Image source: Pursuit, University of Melbourne.

Lessons in overcoming racism

Three-time boxing world champion Anthony Mundine has spoken about facing racism and major obstacles throughout his life to achieve his goals while speaking to a select audience in the South West last week. The Super League Premiership winner and NSW State of Origin representative held three Mundine: Mindset of a Cham’p workshops last week, hosted by the South West Aboriginal Medical Service (SWAMS).

“Everybody already has their power,” Mundine said. “We’ve got to teach them the basic skills and the fundamentals of how to get that power back.” In the context of the current racism scandals rocking the AFL and other smaller sporting clubs around the country, Mundine said people needed to become more educated. “I was called a black c…, a monkey, all that, you know — all my life when I was young, playing sport,” he said. “Its part of society, and always will be, but we just have to just try to educate people as much as we can.”

Mundine framed the workshops around helping people use their hardships to help build resilience and work towards their goals, but also to encourage people to ask for help when they need it. This mindset aligns with the goals of the SWAMS mental health outreach programs in schools, which aim to education young people on sexual health and youth-suicide prevention.

SWAMS mental health services coordinator Justin Brown said the service had a dedicated team with tertiary qualified Aboriginal counsellors and a social worker, alongside specialist mental health workers. “It is important to reach out if you need support, our Mental Health Team are here for a yarn,” Mr Brown said.

To view the Bunbury Herald article Mindset: Anthony Mundine reveals powerful lessons of overcoming racism to South West audience in full click here.

Anthony Mundine, centre, with staff from SWAMS at the workshop. Photo: Jacinta Cantatore. Image source: Bunbury Herald.

Prevention key to fairer, healthier future

Australians on low incomes are cutting back on healthy foods, skipping meals and reporting wide-ranging consequences for their physical and mental health as a result of escalating cost-of-living pressures, according to a report released this week by the Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS). Almost two-thirds of people on JobSeeker, Youth Allowance and Parenting Payment have had difficulty buying medication or getting medical care because they do not have enough money, the report found.

While the report’s recommendations are directed at the Federal Government, addressing cost-of-living pressures is also within scope for state, territory and local governments. When health leaders in Victoria were surveyed about key health issues ahead of the upcoming state election, many highlighted the importance of increased investment in prevention through addressing poverty, housing insecurity and the wider determinants of health.

Emma King, CEO VCOSS suggested the Government should prioritise and “formalise the role of community health” who are trusted and embedded in communities. “We saw this, it was highlighted throughout the pandemic,” she said. Community health services have a strong focus on the prevention of illness, operating with a social determinants of health lens, King said, and the “health literacy that they build is pretty phenomenal”.

Nerita Waight, Victorian Aboriginal Legal Service CEO said “ACCHOs were recognised here and globally for keeping their communities safe” during the pandemic, showing strong evidence of the high quality care that community congtrolled health services provide for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Community-led programs where people “identify their own needs and can get them addressed” are vital – “it’s them advocating for their needs”, according to Sampson at cohealth. “The issues are often the social determinants and they are often around mental health and social inclusion,” she said. “The barriers that are experienced by minority communities are disproportionate and so taking a one-stop-shop approach is not equitable.”

To read the Croakey Health Media article As Victoria faces an election, increased investment in prevention is key to unlocking the door on a fairer, healthier future in full click here.

Nerita Waight, CEO VALS. Image source: Croakey Health Media.

Government policies fail to ensure adequate housing

Research findings show the social values of Aboriginal people differ significantly from non-Aboriginal values. Unfortunately, well-intentioned government policies too often ignore these crucial differences. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights says everyone has the right to decent housing, which provides for their security, health and well-being.

However, past policies have not done enough to ensure Aboriginal people have adequate housing — it continues to lag behind non-Aboriginal housing across Australia. In 2020, the National Agreement on Closing the Gap included housing among its 16 key socio-economic targets to improve life outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

However, the Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute (AHURI) has found closing the gap targets cannot be met without addressing the current lack of affordable and quality housing. As it stands:

  • a much higher proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people live in overcrowded and public housing
  • only 42% own their own home compared with 65% of non-Indigenous households
  • housing shortages are predicted to increase to 90,901 dwellings across Australia by 2031, of which 65,000 are in NSW

To view the Architecture and Design article AHURI research shows that Indigenous housing policies need to be based on their community’s needs in full click here.

Image source: The Conversation.

Sector Jobs

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

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

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

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

Management of COVID-19 in community

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

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

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

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

Racism is a public health issue

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

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

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

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

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

Abolition of cashless debit card

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

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

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

Photo: Natalie Whitling, ABC News.

WA study to address low vax rate

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

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

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

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

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

Healthy Skin Guidelines online survey

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

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

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

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

Increasing maternal health service uptake

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

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

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

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

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

Medicare must be accessible to prisoners

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

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

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

Image source: The West Australian.

Sector Jobs

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: 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: QLD health service delivery needs overhaul

The image in the feature tile is of the entrance to Doomadgee’s hospital emergency department. The photo is from an NCA NewsWire article Teenager given ‘shut-up pill’ before death, 7 March 2022.

QLD health service delivery needs overhaul

Speaking earlier this week at the the inquest of three young Indigenous women from Doomadgee who died with rheumatic heart disease between 2019–2020, Queensland health chief operating officer David Rosengren told the Queensland coroner health service in the town was too complicated. Gidgee operates branches across Queensland’s north-west and works with Doomadgee Hospital and the State’s health service, which the inquest heard could confuse patients on where to go for help. Earlier this week former Gidgee Healing CEO Renee Blackman said she faced significant barriers during her time in Doomadgee.

The coroner heard those roadblocks included gaining ACCHO accreditation, recruiting, securing premises for operation and a fractured relationship with the local state hospital. Similar concerns had been echoed by witnesses during the week. The court heard difficulties obtaining medical notes between services complicated the treatment of one of the women at the centre of the inquest in the months leading up to her death.

Ms Blackman’s said Gidgee used a seperate platform for lodging patient records to the state hospital leading to constraints accessing information. The court heard a laptop was provided to the hospital for access to Gidgee’s notes when needed. But evidence presented to the coroner suggested there was a strained relationship between the two providers which may have affected collaboration. Ms Blackman said without a positive relationship people “will fall through the cracks”.

To view the National Indigenous Times article Ex-health boss backs inquest calls to overhaul fractured QLD Aboriginal health service delivery in full click here.

Former Gidgee Healing CEO Renee Blackman. Image source: National Indigenous Times.

NACCHO leads environmental health workshop

A team from NACCHO had an awesome time last week in Darwin for the 13th National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Environmental Health Conference 2022 (NATSIEH). The team hosted an Aboriginal-led workshop to identify longstanding issues in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander environmental health and new solutions through Closing the Gap.

This marked the beginning of NACCHO’s consultation for a National Strategic Roadmap on an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community Controlled Environmental Health Workforce with the NACCHO team excited to continue working closely with experts of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Environmental Health sector.

For more information about the NATSIEH Conference 2022 click here.

NACCHO presentation at 13th NATSIEH Conference in Darwin, 5-8 September 2022.

ACCHOs consulted over RHD program

NACCHO held a meeting in Darwin last week with the first group of ACCHOs receiving funding through their new RHD program. This was a great opportunity to come together to discuss the program and hear from the participating ACCHOs and all the awesome work they are doing in community.

Organisations that attended included:

  • Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Services (KAMS)
  • Sunrise Health Service Aboriginal Corporation
  • Mala’la Health Service Aboriginal Corporation
  • Miwatj Health Aboriginal Corporation
  • Nirrumbuk Aboriginal Corporation

as well the Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance NT (AMSANT) and Gurriny Yealamucka (Good Healing) Health Services Aboriginal Corporation who  as joined the meeting online.

ACCHO representatives who met with NACCHO staff in Darwin to discuss their participation in an RHD program.

Homelessness linked to vulnerability clustering

Poverty and discrimination are key issues tipping Indigenous Australians into homelessness, but a lack of funding, affordable housing and crisis accommodation remain bigger problems, a new report has found. Research by the University of SAhas revealed the homelessness rate for Aboriginal Australians is 10 times that of other people.

It found that dispossession of land, racism, profound economic disadvantage and cultural oppression continue to shape the lived experience of many Indigenous communities. And it identified poor literacy, education, criminal histories, domestic violence and lack of sustained tenancies as leading to a “revolving door” of homelessness among Aboriginal people in cities.

“Homelessness among Indigenous people arises from a clustering of vulnerabilities that easily spiral out of control,” the authors said in the report, commissioned by the Australian Housing and Urban Institute.

To view the Inverell Times article Funding call for Aboriginal housing in full click here.

Poverty and discrimination are key issues tipping Indigenous Australians into homelessness. Photo: Dan Peled, AAP . Image source: The Inverell Times.

Better drug treatment needed in Far West NSW

During a visit to Broken Hill on 14 September 2022, the President of the Law Society of NSW Joanne van der Plaat said the remote area needs an alternative approach to making its community safer. She told ABC local radio “I was keen to get out here and particularly to some of the other regions that are further away from Sydney to just see what is going on and to really listen to some of the practitioners … to see what they’re facing in terms of their daily practice.”

Data from the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research shows rates across multiple offence categories in Broken Hill sit at two and three times the state average. “With illicit-drug offences in Broken Hill in the year to March 2022 at about double the state average, and bail breaches at almost three times the average NSW rate, it’s clear that current approaches are not working,” van der Plaat said.

President of the Far West Law Society Eric Craney said establishing health and culturally safe treatment services for drug and alcohol use in Broken Hill would be a major step in helping to reduce the over-representation of Indigenous people in the criminal justice system. “Additionally, the Government should extend the Dubbo Aboriginal Bail Pilot across regional areas including Broken Hill, to reduce the incidents of technical bail breaches that cause no safety risk to the community, but that can result in unnecessary incarceration of vulnerable defendants,” Mr Craney said.

To view the NSW Law Society Journal online article Calls for better drug treatment and rehabilitation in NSW’s far west in full click here.

Image source: Australian Journal of General Practice.

Dementia cases could be prevented

More than half of Indigenous dementia cases in far north Queensland could be prevented after scientists identified a series of risk factors linked to the condition. The James Cook University study found 11 risk factors contribute to up to 52% of dementia cases in its sample population. “Dementia is an emerging health issue among Torres Strait Islander and Aboriginal peoples in Far North Queensland,” lead researcher Fintan Thompson said.

“We thought it likely that historically recent exposure to modifiable risk factors was contributing, and that a large proportion of dementia could potentially be reduced or delayed.” Analysing health data from more than 370 First Nations people in the Torres Strait and Northern Peninsula, the research team identified risk factors that could be modified. “The most important dementia risk factors are already public health priorities in this population. Risk factors such as hypertension, diabetes, obesity, and smoking were important contributors, which is somewhat similar to other populations,” the report said.

The study suggests rates of dementia could decline if these risk factors were reduced at a population level. The study also shows dementia risks in the Torres Strait region may be comparatively less certain. “Risks, such as social isolation and heavy alcohol consumption, contributed less to dementia in the Torres Strait region, which is great news,” Mr Thompson said.

To view the Pilbara News article Scope to lessen Indigenous dementia: study in full click here.

A study has found more than half of dementia cases in the Torres Strait region could be avoidable. Photo: Tracey Nearmy, AAP. Image source: Perth Now.

 

Youth held in police watch houses to sue

Three young people are taking on the Queensland government with a legal case claiming their human rights were breached when they were locked up in police watch houses. An anti-discrimination and human rights legal challenge is currently before the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT).

The police cells are meant for some of the state’s worst criminals, including adults accused of murder or sexual abuse. Katie Acheson, the outgoing CEO of the Youth Advocacy Centre, believes the case will shine a light on the practice which she believes should end. “It should be a wake-up to the Queensland government and the Queensland population,” she said. “I think many of us don’t realise that there are children right now in an adult watch house. “They’re scared and alone and they’re children and we have a responsibility to take care of them and not be further traumatising them.”

One organisation is trying to keep kids out of custody. Five nights a week the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community Health Service (ATSICHS) Brisbane outreach team, lead by Pita Taimani, head to areas where at-risk young people like to hang out. They check on their safety and offer them a lift home before there’s any trouble. “We see that there’s a need to support young people that are in the CBD, where they’re not in the eyes of the police, not getting into the watch house,” Pita Taimani said. Mr Taimani’s team also offers crucial support to young people, like access to health care and vocational education.

To view the ABC News article Young people taking legal action against Queensland government after being held in watch houses in full click here.

Pita Taimani’s outreach team is focused on keeping at-risk youth out of police custody. Photo: Michael Atkin, 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.

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

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

Environmental health experts share advice

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

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

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

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

Lived experience of addiction voices essential

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

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

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

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

Building our mental health workforce

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

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

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

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

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

Calls for urgent action on detention protocol

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

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

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

Image source: Sydney Criminal Lawyers.

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

Heal Our Way suicide prevention

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

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

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

Uncle George Ellis. Image source: Croakey Health Media.

Supporting mob with Musculoskeletal conditions

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

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

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

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

Photo: Shutterstock. Image source: The Conversation.

Sector Jobs

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Ask your mob, in your way, R U OK?

The image in the feature tile is of Steven Oliver, An R U OK? Ambassador, Aboriginal poet, comedian and performer whose life has been affected by suicide. Image source: R U OK? Day Facebook page, 29 June 2016.

Ask your mob, in your way, R U OK?

If someone you know – a family member, someone from your community, a friend, neighbour, team mate or workmate –  is doing it tough, they won’t always tell you. Sometimes it’s up to us to trust our gut instinct and ask someone who may be struggling with life “are you OK?”, in our own way. By taking the time to ask and listen, we can help those we care about feel more supported and connected, which can help stop little things becoming bigger things.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples share a special connection to this country and to each other, through our cultures, communities and shared experiences. Regardless of where we live, or who our mob is, we all go through tough times, times when we don’t feel great about our lives or ourselves. That’s why it’s important to always be looking out for each other. Because we’re Stronger Together.

Earlier this year 13YARN (13 92 76), a Lifeline supported service was launched. It is the first national crisis phone support line for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Designed, led and delivered by mob, 13YARN provides a confidential 24/7 one-on-one yarning opportunity with a Lifeline-trained Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Crisis Supporter.

You could also connect with a trusted health professional, like your doctor or your local Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander Medical Service.

For more information about R U OK? Day and to access resources specifically for Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander communities click here.

Working Group on Voice to Parliament

The government is primed to announce a working group on the referendum to enshrine an Indigenous Voice to Parliament. The group will be tasked with answering some of the big questions on the process in the lead-up to the referendum. The referendum’s timing, question and information on the Voice to Parliament will all fall under the remit of the group, made up of more than 20 Indigenous leaders from across the country.

Notable names include Pat Anderson, Marcia Langton, Tom Calma, Pat Turner, Ken Wyatt and June Oscar. It will be co-chaired by Indigenous Australians Minister Linda Burney and Special Envoy for Reconciliation and Implementation of the Uluru Statement Patrick Dodson. Ms Burney will officially announce the working group as part of her address today at the Committee for Economic Development of Australia’s State of the Nation forum. “These are the next steps, the plan on the road to the referendum,” Ms Burney said. “There is much to work to do, many more steps to be taken on the road to the referendum. Let’s be clear, government cannot lead this referendum. This will come from the grassroots.”

To view the ABC News story Working group to answer big questions leading up to Indigenous Voice to Parliament referendum in full click here.

The government’s Voice working group will help shape the looming referendum. Photo: Tim Leslie, ABC News.

JobKeeper rate a health hazard

Touted as a “much-needed boost” by the Minister for Social Services, Amanda Rishworth, the JobSeeker payment is set to rise $1.80 per day on 20 September. The daily rate will go from $46 to $47.80 – $17,378 per year – still well below the Melbourne Institute’s poverty line of approximately $28,000 per year. “It does not deliver a real increase – an increase above inflation – and that is what people on JobSeeker and other payments need to keep a roof over their head and put food on the table,” Australian Council of Social Service CEO Edwina MacDonald said in a statement.

Karl Briscoe, the CEO of the National Association for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workers and Health Practitioners (NAATSIHWP), said the low JobSeeker rates affect food security and housing among Indigenous communities. “Access to adequate nutrition, fresh fruit and veg, is probably one of the biggest issues that people are faced with,” he said.  ” When people cannot access vitamins and minerals due to poverty, they can be more susceptible to a range of diseases, including skin infections and diabetes, according to Briscoe.”

Overcrowding is another major issue, he said. In Aboriginal communities, it can contribute to the spread of scabies, a skin infection which is linked to chronic kidney disease. Too many people living in the same house can also increase the spread of Strep A infections, which can cause rheumatic fever and RHD, an autoimmune condition where the heart valve tissue becomes swollen and scarred.

While increasing the JobSeeker rate is a clear necessity, what is really needed to improve conditions in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities is capital investment, such as infrastructure projects that bring jobs, according to Briscoe. “Poverty is an outcome of colonisation for many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. We don’t have a long line of inheritance that’s been passed down generation to generation,” Briscoe said.

To view the Croakey Health Media article Stories from the frontlines: why the low JobSeeker rate is a health hazard in full click here.

Verdict on government’s first 100 days

The Albanese government has now passed its first 100 days in office and major announcements are coming in thick and fast. Key ministers and central figures within the for-purpose sector have reflected on the federal government’s progress so far and what should be the next steps from here.

The federal government came to power promising a referendum on an Indigenous Voice to Parliament. Minister for Indigenous Australians, Linda Burney said the government had “hit the ground running. A constitutionally enshrined Voice to Parliament is about improving the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people across the country.  It’s about making sure First Nations people have a say on the issues and policies that affect them,” she said. “It’s about drawing a line on the poor outcomes from the long legacy of failed programs and broken policies and about recognising the glaring omission of First Peoples in Australia’s birth certificate.”

CEO of SNAICC Catherine Liddle said many of the government’s broad commitments, including more affordable childcare, would benefit First Nations people. However, she said such mainstream reforms “must take into account the particular needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and families. SNAICC has already met with senior government ministers and we look forward to strengthening those relationships and working with the new government to progress much needed policy reform to ensure Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children have their needs and voices heard,” she said.

“Federal Labor has committed to the implementation of the National Agreement with the Coalition of Peaks. There’s no doubt that we lost some ground in the run up to and during the federal election. But I think that implementation of the National Agreement is being brought back to where it needs to be” Liddle said. “SNAICC looks forward to working with the government on reforms to early education, family services, and out of home care, with access to childcare identified as being particularly important as a lack of access can create barriers that prevent First Nations people from engaging in work and study.”

To view the Pro Bono Australia article Sector delivers verdict on government’s first 100 days in full click here.

Image source: ABC News website.

System rigged against people with additions

Amid concerns that Australian health systems are failing people with addictions to alcohol, other drugs and gambling, experts will call next week for a national roadmap to ensure better and more equitable treatment pathways. A two-day national conference in Canberra will put the spotlight on a lack of national policy leadership in addressing the fragmented, inadequate services available for people living with addictions, which one expert says means it’s a “complete lottery” as to what care people and families might find. The Rethink Addiction Convention titled ‘It’s time to change the conversation’, will bring together people with lived and living experience, clinicians, services providers, law and justice practitioners and policymakers and seek to address the stigma that affects access to treatment and care.

Jasmin Wilson, a Wellbeing Officer from from Aboriginal Drug & Alcohol Council SA will be speaking at the inaugural Rethink Addiction Convention. She says “Addiction doesn’t discriminate, so why do we? To Close the Gap we need to address addiction in First Nations Communities.”

Ending that harmful stigmatisation is the work at the heart of the Rethink Addiction campaign, headed by psychiatrist Professor Dan Lubman, who is Executive Clinical Director of the Turning Point and Professor of Addiction Studies and Services at Monash University  and Director of the Monash Addiction Research Centre. He cites the damning statistics: around one in four Australians will develop an alcohol, drug or gambling disorder during their lifetime, and around one in 20 will develop addiction, the most severe form of the disorder. One Australian dies almost every hour from alcohol, other drug or gambling harm.

To view the Croakey Health Media article How the system is rigged against people with addictions in full click here.

Jasmin Wilson, a former ice addict will speak at the convention. Image source: The Advertiser.

Calls for youth justice system reforms

Amnesty International Australia issued a statement yesterday calling on all State and Territory governments to raise the age of criminal responsibility and close detention centres. “State and Territory governments have it in their power now to do more than make empty statements about the importance of child safety,” Amnesty International Australia Indigenous Rights Campaigner Maggie Munn, said. “Until they take the most obvious and proven step to truly care for some of the most vulnerable children in our country, then these words ring very hollow indeed.”

Calls for reform of the youth justice system have been echoed by many including, Change the Record, Victorian Aboriginal Legal Service (VALS) and the Public Health Association of Australia. The deep-rooted culture of abuse of children in youth detention was again in the spotlight last week during an Inquiry into Government Responses into Child Sexual Abuse in Institutional Settings in Tasmania. The Inquiry and others before have highlighted the abuse of children in detention centres as a “black mark against this country as a whole”, according to barrister Greg Barns, the National Criminal Justice Spokesman for the Australian Lawyers Alliance.

Barns said “If there was ever a time for major reform and a cultural shift on the part of legislators and society generally when it comes to dealing with children and young people who come into contact with the police, then now is it. Doing nothing is not an option.”

To view the Croakey Health Media article Calls for reform, not platitudes, on youth justice system in full click here.

Image source: Amnesty International Australia.

QAS drives cultural safety in the community

The Queensland Ambulance Service has appointed a team of leaders to build on the organisation’s cultural capability and advance health equity for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. The organisation’s recently established Cultural Safety Unit has appointed three new Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Cultural Safety Support Officers (CSSOs) and two new Senior Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Cultural Safety Advisors.

Health and Ambulance Services Minister Yvette D’Ath said it was vital for the Queensland Ambulance Service to embrace diversity in its ranks. “The QAS is really leading the way when it comes to Indigenous relations within the service and community,” she said. “We’ve seen first-hand, with initiatives like the QAS Indigenous Paramedic Program, what a difference it makes to health outcomes when First Nations people are on the front line in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities”.

QAS Deputy Commissioner Operations North, Rural and Remote Kari Arbouin said three officers have been appointed to the inaugural CSSO positions and will be operating within their own areas, including North Queensland, Central Queensland and South Queensland. “Our CSSOs will also be out and about playing their part in improving health equity and foster better engagement across all Queensland communities.” “As QAS continues to develop a more culturally responsive and inclusive workplace, our new team will be working to support our workforce to become more culturally aware and safe.”

To view the Queensland Minister for Health and Ambulance Services, the Hon. Yvette D’Ath’s media release QAS drives greater cultural safety in the community in full click here.

Image source: Australian Paramedical College 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.