- Fight to shift dial on CTG has not ended
- Flinders Uni empowers future health professionals
- $1.7m for Indigenous health research
- New adult COVID-19, flu, shingles vax plan needed
- Nathan is proud of his old man for reaching out
- Value of lived experience in creating change
- Sector Jobs
The image in the feature tile is from page 10 of the Barhava Report Indi Kindi Impact Report August 2020, available here.
The NACCHO Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health News is a platform we use to showcase the important work being done in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health, focusing on the work of NACCHO, NACCHO members and NACCHO affiliates.
We also share a curated selection of news stories that are of likely interest to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health sector, broadly.
Fight to shift dial on CTG has not ended
Victoria’s Minister for Treaty and First Peoples and key delegates in the state have declared the fight to shift the dial on positive outcomes has not ended despite October’s unsuccessful Voice referendum, with key goals in place before the end of the current government’s term. The Joint Council for Closing the Gap (CTG) held their first meeting following the result in Naarm (Melbourne) last Thursday (23 November 2023). State ministers responsible for Indigenous affairs, federal Minister for Indigenous Australians Linda Burney, and Coalition of Peaks, local government and First Peoples’ Assembly of Victoria representatives attended the gathering. Recently re-appointed Minister for Treaty and First Peoples Natalia Hutchins said her government “remains steadfast in our commitment in progressing voice, truth and treaty with our First Peoples”.
Co-chair of Ngaweeyan Maar-oo (Voice of the People) – the Koori Caucus of Victoria’s Partnership Forum towards Closing the Gap, Lisa Briggs, said the journey towards better outcomes is “gaining momentum” despite being “challenging work”. Victoria’s implementation plan towards CTG has four priority areas; Formal partnerships and shared decision-making; Building the community-controlled sector; Transforming government organisations; and Shared access to data and information at a regional level.
“The priority reforms are intended to drive the structural changes needed to see meaningful improvements,” Ms Briggs said. First People’s Assembly co-chair Ngurra Murray said the assembly wants input on policy, and to see decision making in community. “We believe decisions about Aboriginal people should be made by Aboriginal people. Not just because it’s morally right, but it delivers better outcomes,” Ms Murray said. “My message to government is if you want to close the gaps, then give everyone an equal opportunity to implement our solutions. She said while “we can’t change history”, there is a need to address ongoing impacts of colonisation negatively affecting First Nations people.
To view the National Indigenous Times article Closing the Gap Joint Council meet for first time post-referendum in full click here.
Flinders Uni empowers future health professionals
A group of 12 Indigenous students are celebrating a huge milestone on the path to becoming a doctor after successfully completing the 2023 Indigenous Entry Stream (IES) at Flinders University. Five students in NT and seven in SA have completed the program which provides Indigenous people with an alternative route to pursue a Doctor of Medicine (MD) degree.
Now in its 11th year, Flinders University offers this program to potential students wishing to study medicine who do not have a valid GAMSAT score. Arrernte woman and Program Director, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Pathways in Medicine, College of Medicine and Public Health, Kath Martin is pleased to report that the IES has just seen their biggest intake since the programs inception.
“This is the biggest intake we’ve had (12). Previously we’ve got about 5 or 6 in total,” she said. “The IES is about preparing them for what’s required of them when they come into the medial program where they get a taste of what they’ll be studying like Anatomy and science.” IES participants get acquainted with cultural, academic, and social support staff and available programs for potential progression into medicine studies.
To view the National Indigenous Times article Flinders University is empowering future Indigenous health professionals in full click here.
$1.7m for Indigenous health research
Millions of dollars have been invested in five Hunter research projects through federal government health and medical funding. Two projects led by University of Newcastle and Hunter Medical Research Institute researchers received $1.7m through the Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) Indigenous Health Research scheme.
Professor Kirsty Pringle received $726,149 as part of The Gomeroi Gaaynggal Breastfeeding Study, a community-led program to support breastfeeding Indigenous families and Associate professor Michelle Kennedy was awarded $999,186 for Koori Quit Pack, support for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to quit smoking.
New adult COVID-19, flu, shingles vax plan needed
Governments should create a new national plan to make adult vaccination as robust as childhood vaccines, as rates lag across dangerous diseases and misinformation increases, according to a new report. A Grattan Institute report published today has found Australia “urgently needs a policy reset” with data showing rates of adult vaccination against COVID-19, flu, shingles and pneumococcal disease are far too low.
Beyond childhood, adults are recommended to get the influenza vaccine every year, the shingles vaccine at 65 and the pneumococcal vaccine, which protects against a bacteria which can cause pneumonia, bloodstream infection and meningitis, at 70. Indigenous Australians and adults with medical risks are recommended to get these vaccines earlier. However, the report – titled A fair shot: How to close the vaccination gap – has found fewer than half of all Australians in their 70s are vaccinated for shingles, and only one in five are vaccinated for pneumococcal disease.
The report also highlights that rates of COVID-19 vaccination have “plunged”, with two and a half million people over the age of 65 not up-to-date with their vaccinations at the start of winter 2023 – two million more than a year earlier. The report found certain sectors of the population were more likely to miss out, including people who are not proficient in English, Indigenous, living in rural areas and poorer Australians. “Recent vaccination for the poorest people is nearly 40% lower than it is for the richest people, and the poorest people are nearly 20% less likely to be vaccinated against flu,” the report said. It also found people who didn’t speak English at home were only half as likely to get recommended COVID-19 vaccinations, while Indigenous people were a third less likely.
To view The Guardian article Australia needs new adult vaccination plan for Covid, flu and shingles, report warns in full click here.
Nathan is proud of his old man for reaching out
Nathan Appo understands the importance of knowing when to reach out for help. The Brisbane resident and prominent Voice campaigner has worked in Indigenous health for years and watched his father struggle with depression and anxiety. “I’m really proud of my old man for eventually saying, “I need to go and see a doctor and get help”. “To see where he is now and how he looks after his health and how he reaches out for help when he needs it is really empowering.”
And Appo, a Mamu man from Innisfail with connections to Goreng Goreng and Bundjalung Country, recently did the same after spending more than a year campaigning for an Indigenous Voice to Parliament. “I knew how I would feel if the vote didn’t get up, so I booked to see a counsellor straight away,” he says. In the lead-up to the referendum, he door-knocked Brisbane suburbs, hosted town halls, led Yes marches and handed out flyers at polling booths. While he never lost hope, by the campaign’s end his efforts on the frontline had taken a toll on his mental health.
“When I was polling, I had people racially abusing me, people try to fight me,” Appo says. “The discrimination and racism and the attacks on my identity and culture, the slander, it all really affected me, and I think it will have an effect on me for a long time.” But weeks after the referendum result, Appo was back on the campaign trail, this time as an ambassador for Movember. “The work doesn’t stop,” he says. Appo has grown his moustache to raise awareness for men’s health issues, including men’s suicide, for the past eight years.
To view The Age article ‘I’m really proud of my old man for saying he needed to get help’ in full click here.
Value of lived experience in creating change
Award winning founder of Yindamara Mens Healing Group, More Cultural Rehabs, Less Jails and co-founder of Brothers 4 Recovery Drug and Alcohol Awareness, Proud Wiradjuri man Jeffery Amatto, is an example of how recognising the value of lived experience can create the change our country needs. Mr Amatto, an advocate and presenter, has travelled more than 350,000 kms delivering workshops across Australia sharing his inspiring journey of grit, strength and resilience to uplift and give hope to others who are experiencing struggles similar to what he survived.
Bringing knowledge and passion to his work, Mr Amatto has a lived experience of incarceration, addiction and growing up black in the regional town of Wellington, New South Wales which he fondly refers to as god’s country. He currently resides on Darkinjung Country, a place he feels privileged to call home, because that is where his healing happened at a cultural rehab centre – The Glen.
As a child Mr Amatto was exposed to the negative impacts of intergenerational trauma including poverty, alcoholism and gambling, yet he still reflects on his childhood with positive memories of growing up and the strong relationship he had with his mum, nan and pop, and culture. “As a kid growing up, back home I loved it, I loved being back on country. It was a normal thing to go down to the river swimming and playing at the park or fishing,” he said. “We didn’t have the material things, but what we had was the three most important things for us as Indigenous people which was love, culture and respect.” Whilst there were good times growing up, once alcohol and gambling had started infiltrating his home life by age of five, his memories start to change.
To view the National Indigenous Times article More Cultural Rehabs, Less Jails founder Jeffrey Amatto on culture and lived experience in full click here.
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