feature tile text 'community based organisations are the way forward to overcome disadvantage'

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Community-based organisations are the way forward

feature tile text 'community based organisations are the way forward to overcome disadvantage'

Community-based organisations the way forward

The latest Overcoming Indigenous Disadvantage report shows support for self-determination and community-based organisations is the way forward to address the systemic barriers faced by First Peoples, Oxfam Australia says. The Productivity Commission’s eighth report, which examines progress against 52 indicators, identified some areas of progress, but systemic problems remain in the high rates of removal of children from their families, incarceration, poor mental health, and in rates of suicide and self-harm. “Oxfam has long advocated self-determination as a core element in addressing the challenges that First Peoples face. We welcome the report’s finding that shared decision-making and participation on the ground are common elements in successful outcomes,” said Ngarra Murray, National Manager of Oxfam’s First People’s program.

To view a short video about the report click here and to read the Overcoming Indigenous Disadvantage 2020 report click here.

To view Oxfam’s media release click here and to access the Productivity Commission’s media release click here.

front cover of the Overcoming Indigenous Disadvantage Key Indicators 2020 report

COVID-19 paves new ways for remote health

One positive from COVID-19 disrupting face-to-face teaching is the opportunity it is giving health professions education (HPE) in regional, rural and remote communities, education experts from around Australia say. Health professionals and students are commonly required to drive long distances at a cost of time and money either to themselves and their families, or the health service which employs them.

However, this burden on regional, rural and remote (RRR)-based professionals and students will reduce if in-service, tertiary and professionally accredited training providers can embrace defensibly effective and engaging teaching approaches to make lectures, tutorials, skill education, and practice development accessible from a distance,” says SA Riverland-based Dr Amy Seymour-Walsh, lecturer in Clinical Education Development at Flinders University.

To view the Flinders University media release in full click here.

Aboriginal health worker and Aboriginal mum with Aboriginal baby

Pika Wiya Health Service, SA. Image source: NIAA website.

Condoman creater reflects on career

ABC Radio’s James Valentine spoke with Professor Gracelyn Smallwood on World HIV-AIDS day and two weeks into her retirement. Professor Gracelyn Smallwood AM is a Birrigubba woman from Townsville where she became internationally acclaimed for her work in Indigenous health. After 45 years of midwifery and 50 years of being a registered nurse, Gracelyn reflects on her achievements such as the creation of Condoman, a superhero that was used to promote culturally appropriate sexual health messages to Indigenous communities in the 1980s.

To listen to the Afternoons with James Valentine interview with Professor Gracelyn Smallwood click here.

close up photo of face of Gracelyn Smallwood & the Condoman poster

Professor Gracelyn Smallwood and Condoman poster. Image source: Townsville Bulletin, Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences.

Meth use risk and protective factors

A recently published study Identifying risk and protective factors, including culture and identity, for methamphetamine use in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities: Relevance of the ‘communities that care’ model has highlighted that methamphetamine use is of deep concern in Aboriginal communities and a deep understanding of risk and protective factors is needed to prevent harm. While many risk and protective factors overlap with mainstream settings some do not and it is crucial for culturally informed prevention systems to include culturally relevant factors.

To view the details of the study click here.

silhouette of person smoking ice

Image source: SBS website.

 

Young voices challenge negative race perceptions

Following on from large-scale Black Lives Matter rallies in Australia earlier this year, The Healing Foundation has launched the third podcast in its new series on intergenerational trauma and healing. This latest episode explores how racism continues to impact Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples 250 years after colonisation. It features four young Indigenous people as they confront the negative perceptions, stereotypes and prejudice they have encountered growing up.

The Healing Foundation CEO Fiona Petersen said the latest Healing Our Way podcast highlights the importance of truth telling in breaking the cycle of intergenerational trauma and enabling healing for young people and the nation more broadly.

You can listen to this podcast by clicking here and view The Healing Foundation’s related media release here.

Healing Foundation Healing Our Way podcast logo - microphone drawing surrounded by purple, orange, blue & black Aboriginal dot painting

Image source: Healing Foundation website.

Health problems related to trauma

The Healing Foundation CEO Fiona Petersen, a proud Wuthathi descendant with family roots from the Torres Strait has given a speech to the Indigenous Allied Health Australian (IAHA) Conference. Ms Petersen said “Healing refers to the recovery from the psychological and physical impacts of trauma, which is largely the result of colonisation and past government policies including state and federal assimilation policies.  By healing trauma, we are tackling the source of social and health problems that are far more prevalent for our people, including family violence, substance abuse, incarceration and children in out-of-home care. These are the symptoms of trauma, not the nature of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Unfortunately, negative stereotypes like this still remain, but with your help we can improve understanding about the impacts of trauma that are still being felt today.”

To view the transcript of Fiona’s speech click here.

portrait of Healing Foundation CEO Fiona Petersen

Fiona Petersen, CEO Healing Foundation. Image source: The Healing Foundation website.

Maari Ma mixed results for young people

A new report looking at a number of health, educational, and social indicators for Indigenous children and young people in far-west NSW has shown improvements in some areas but a decline in others. Aboriginal health service Maari Ma released its latest Health, Development, and Wellbeing in Far Western NSW — Our Children and Youth report last week. It was compiled throughout 2019 with the cooperation of several agencies such as the state’s health and education departments, and follows previous reports on the indicators in 2014 and 2009. Maari Ma’s latest report shows that the rate of smoking in pregnancy for young Aboriginal people in the region is more than nine times higher than the rest of the NSW population.

To view the full report click here.

photo of 1 Aboriginal man, 3 Aboriginal women & 4 Aboriginal children walking along river

Image source: ABC News website.

Pioneer Indigenous doctor wins top WA gong

She currently serves as commissioner with the National Mental Health Commission and lectures in psychiatry at the University of WA. A pioneer in Aboriginal and child mental health research, Professor Milroy was also appointed in 2018 as the AFL’s first Indigenous commissioner. “It’s been a privilege as a doctor and as a child psychiatrist to go on those journeys with so many people in their lives,” she said in a UWA profile last month. I think I have a natural inclination to wanting to find out more, to find out what makes people tick and to actually help them get back on track, particularly kids.”

To view the full article published in The Standard click here.

portrait photo of Professor Helen Milroy

Professor Helen Milroy. Image source: The Standard.

Locals unmoved by Dan Murphy’s new site

NRHA Board reflects diverse health skills

The diversity of health professionals working across the rural sector is reflected in the new Board of the National Rural Health Alliance (the Alliance), elected at the 29th Annual General Meeting (AGM) in Canberra this week. The Alliance of 44 national rural and health-related organisations advocates for sustainable
and affordable health services for the 7 million people in rural and remote Australia. There membership includes representation from the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health sector, health professional organisations, health service providers, health educators and students, as well as consumer groups.

At the AGM on Monday 30 November 2020, the representative for Allied Health Professions Australia, Nicole O’Reilly, was elected Chair. A former occupational therapy clinician and health manager from the NT, Ms O’Reilly has comprehensive skills and knowledge, and strong relationships across the allied health sector.

To view the Alliance’s media release about the new board click here.

National Rural Health Alliance logo circle of 8 leaves and dots & portrait shot of NRHA new Chair Nicole O'Reilly

Nicole O’Reilly. Image source: NRHA website.

Palliative care at home project seeks input

Although comprehensive data on rates of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people accessing palliative care services are not available in Australia, clinically it has been observed that these Australians are underrepresented in the palliative care patient population. In addition, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are more likely to be admitted for palliative care-related hospitalisations, with the rate of admissions in public hospitals approximately double that for other Australians.  These statistics are noteworthy given that many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people report feeling culturally unsafe in hospitals and some (especially in remote communities) express a preference for dying ‘on country’. 

The Australian Government Department of Health (DoH) is funding a new project entitled caring@home for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Families.  The initial phase of this project is to consult with relevant stakeholders across the country to get feedback on how the existing caring@home resources for carers need to be tailored to meet the needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families. DoH is currently designing the consultation with the aim of undertaking consultation in 2021.

As a first step in this process DoH would like to connect with relevant individuals/Departments at the state government/local health networks level and with peak Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations to ensure that everyone knows about this project. DoH has Steering and Advisory Committees for the project but would appreciate any advice/feedback about the project, especially any local consultation/processes they should undertake, that will help to promote use of the new resources.

A factsheet describing the project can be accessed here and you are invited to have input into the proposed 2021 consultation process by contacting Karen Cooper by phone 0428 422 818 or email karen.cooper3@health.qld.gov.au.

Aboriginal woman holding a cuppa and caring at home logo

Image source: Brisbane South Palliative Care Collaborative website.

CRE-STRIDE scholarships available

The Centre for Research Excellence – Strengthening Systems for Indigenous Health Care Equity (CRE-STRIDE) vision is equitable health care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities through quality improvement (QI) and collaborative research to strength primary health care systems. CRE-STRIDE involves leading researchers from across Australia with expertise in health systems and QI research, participatory action research, Indigenous methodologies, epidemiology, public health, health and social policy. The CRE Investigator team, and higher degree research (HDR) supervisors have outstanding national and international reputations and track records.

CRE-STRIDE is offering scholarships to support honours, Masters of Research and PhD candidates. 

For more information about the scholarships and details of how to submit an Expression of Interest click here.CRE-STRIDE banner

NT – Alice Springs – Children’s Ground

FT Health Promotion Coordinator – 6 months fixed term contract (extension subject to funding)

The Health Promotion Coordinator will work within a multi-disciplinary team that delivers the Children’s Ground Family Health and Wellbeing Framework – Health in the Hands of the People (HIHP) to improve the health and wellbeing outcomes for the community. This will include the recognition and support of local cultural knowledge systems and practices, and the agency of consumers. This position will coordinate the work of the Health and Wellbeing team. It will also be responsible for leading the development and implementation of family health plans with individuals and families and creating and delivering responses to population health needs with the local community

Children’s Ground is working to create an environment where families realise their aspirations for the next generation of children to be free from trauma and suffering, enjoy equity and safety, be able to grow into adulthood happy and healthy, and have agency over their social, cultural, political and economic life.

To view the position description click here and to apply click here.

Applications close 9.00 am NT time (10.30 am AEST) Monday 7 December 2020.children's ground banner - 7 Aboriginal children running towards camera on country

feature tile text 'strong family relationships prove to be perinatal mental health protective factor' & photo of Aboriginal woman's hands above & below pregnant belly

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Perinatal mental health protective factors

feature tile text 'strong family relationships prove to be perinatal mental health protective factor' & photo of Aboriginal woman's hands above & below pregnant belly

Perinatal mental health protective factors

A recent Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Service (KAMS) and Rural Clinical School of WA (RCSWA) paper that retrospectively analysed 91 perinatal mental health assessments from the Kimberley region found that almost all of the women had protective factors and these appeared to contribute to them not having anxiety or depression even if they had significant risk factors. The most prominent protective factor was positive relationships with family members.

The study found that for Aboriginal women, it is important that the health professional explores a woman’s whole context; that is, the way she experiences stress and risk and how her protective factors support her. This will help the woman and her health professional best understand and support her mental health and wellbeing. Assessing Aboriginal women’s perinatal mental health by only looking at risk is not enough.

Plain language reports and a link to the paper are available on the KAMS research website which can be accessed by clicking here.

black and white image of adult Aboriginal hand holding sleeping Aboriginal baby's hand

Image source: Centre of Perinatal Excellence website.

AHCWA launches Mappa platform

The Aboriginal Health Council of WA (AHCWA), in conjunction with its 23 member Aboriginal community controlled health services (ACCHSs) and associated communities have initiated the development and launch of the Mappa platform live to all Western Australians.

Mappa is a free-to-use online mapping platform developed to address the lack of clarity at all levels in regards to healthcare services being delivered across rural, remote and metropolitan regions throughout WA. Mappa provided comprehensive, culturally appropriate and reliable information for health services, health professionals, patients, clients and their communities.

Mappa brings three worlds together: the patient/client journey world; the healthcare world; and the technology world. In doing this, the mapping platform seeks to help those who are not technology savvy and/or have English as a second or third language, busy healthcare providers, clinicians, GPs, allied healthcare providers and those who want an easy way to find a place, a community or a healthcare service and to know how long it will take to get there.

Mappa is about ‘getting the right care, in the right place, at the right time‘, while being with family, at home and on country.

To view the article about the Mappa platform in The West Australian – New Directions in Telehealth liftout (page 3) click here.

To access the Live Mappa Link click here.Mappa Mapping Health Services Closer to Home banner with vector of tree and tree roots in a teardrop pointing to a place on a map

NACCHO supports HIV Awareness Week

NACCHO supports the World Aids Day 2020 theme ‘now, more than ever’ saying it is time to close the gap on rates of HIV notifications amongst Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and communities in Australia. NACCHO believes as per the National Agreement on Closing the Gap that there is a real opportunity to take Aboriginal-led approaches and partnerships to address Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health outcomes.

NACCHO Deputy CEO, Dr Dawn Casey said, “Our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people face unique issues and social determinants that affect health outcomes, including overcrowded housing. We have demonstrated that a partnership and commitment from the Australian Government’s Departments of Health with NACCHO and direct funding for ACCHOs to address the syphilis outbreak has produced some positive outcomes.”

To read NACCHO’s media release click here.banner text U and Me Can STOP HIV with red, aboriginal flag & Torres Strait Islander flag coloured HIV awareness ribbons

8,000 Katherine patients without GP

Katherine’s only general practice closed its doors last month, leaving the 8,000 patients on its books with no other option but to travel three hours to Darwin for a GP consultation. The decision to close was not an easy one for GP and practice owner Dr Peter Spafford – who has been a resident of the NT town for 19 years and owner of Gorge Health for 10 – but he felt he had no other option.
 
A 2018 workforce assessment conducted by the NT Primary Health Network (PHN) recommended the town, with a population of almost 10,000, needed nine GPs to provide a service equal to elsewhere in Australia. The reality on the ground, however, has been just two GPs, four at best. Constant waitlists have meant there’s always been a difficulty in providing full GP services to the community.

The solution, according to RACGP Rural Chair Dr Michael Clements, is multifaceted and requires a whole-of-system approach that considers everything from housing security and spousal employment to children’s education and the training environment.

To view the full article click here.

road sign Kathering 90 Alice Springs 1263

Image source: newsGP website.

Making the invisible visible

After more than 12 months of hard work, consultation and collaboration, the RACGP has launched a reconciliation action plan (RAP) as part of its vision of a healthcare system free of racism.
 
Designed to help establish a culturally safe organisation that supports continuous education and learning for staff and members, the RAP has been praised by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people within and outside of the college. The plan involves a commitment to improving the knowledge, skills and abilities required to deliver culturally responsive health services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, which relies on a culturally inclusive and safe environment with strong relationships based on mutual respect.

To view The RACGP Innovate Reconciliation Action Plan October 2020 – September 2022 click here.

To view the related article published in newsGP click here.

Aboriginal woman with Aboriginal face paint looking sideways against a background of blue and white Aboriginal dot and line painting

Image source: newsGP.

World Scabies Program launched

The recently launched World Scabies Program (WSP), headed by Professor Andrew Steer, based on key research by Murdoch Childrens’ Research Institute (MCRI), conducted in partnership with the Fijian Ministry of Health and Medical Services (MHMS) and the Kirby Institute of UNSW Sydney, has shown that scabies prevalence can be reduced by more than 90% with a single community wide treatment.

Scabies is a parasitic infestation of the skin with the parasitic ‘itch mite’ Sarcoptes scabiei. The tiny mite burrows into the upper layers of the skin causing intensely itchy lesions which commonly become infected with bacteria and can lead to more serious conditions such and kidney disease and rheumatic heart disease. In humans, scabies is a particularly significant disease in children, but occurs in both sexes, at all ages, in all ethnic groups, and at all socioeconomic levels. Transmission of the mites from one person to the next is by direct skin to skin contact. Scabies is a significant disease worldwide in humans, wildlife, livestock and domestic animals and is a particularly serious problem in many remote Australia Indigenous communities, where overcrowded living conditions are a major factor contributing to high rates of transmission.

Fiji will be one of the first countries in the world to roll out a nationwide scabies elimination program and will be a model for other countries. Approximately one in every five Fijians is at risk of having scabies at any given time, with children at a higher risk. WSP will scale up this approach to the whole population of Fiji, with an aim to essentially eliminate scabies as a public health problem.

To learn more about the World Scabies Program click here.

scabies mite under a microscope

The scabies mite, Sarcoptes scabiei. Image source: SBS NITV website.

2021 Eye Health Conference abstracts open

Abstract submissions are now open for the 2021 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Eye Health Conference (NATSIEHC): The Gap and Beyond. The conference will bring elements from the postponed Close the Gap for Vision National Conference 2020 and, in 2021, will be delivered fully online.

The conference will be held virtually from 20–22 April 2021 with abstracts welcome from all working in, or interested in, improving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander eye health. Topics should be relevant to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander eye health and efforts to close the gap for vision and ultimately eliminate avoidable vision loss and blindness for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in Australia. This could include eye care in primary care; eye care stakeholder collaborations; community-led and cultural engagement approaches and initiatives; workforce development; challenges in coordination and case management; improving outcomes and access to services; health system changes and reform.

For more information about abstract submissions click here. The closing date for abstract submissions is Monday 18 January 2021.banner 2021 National ATSI Eye Health Conference The Gap & Beyond 20-22 April 2021

First signs of ear disease at 8 weeks

Telethon Kids Institute researchers have found close to 40% of Aboriginal babies begin to develop middle ear infections between 2–4 months of age in a first of its kind study in metropolitan Perth. By 6–8 months this increased to over 50% of kids according to results published in Deafness and Educational International, clearly demonstrating the urgent need to prioritise early testing and treatment for Aboriginal children suffering debilitating ear infections, also known as otitis media (OM).

Clinical Associate Professor Deborah Lehmann AO, Honorary Emeritus Fellow at the Wesfarmers Centre of Vaccines and Infectious Diseases, based at Telethon Kids Institute, said 650,000 Australian children are affected by OM each year and Aboriginal children have some of the highest rates in the world. “While our previous research has already shown Aboriginal children are disproportionately impacted by chronic ear disease, most studies have focused on kids in regional and remote areas and information about the true burden of OM in urban areas was very limited,” Professor Lehmann said.

To view the full article click here.

Aboriginal woman with Telethon Kids Institute logo on shift with Aboriginal man holding Aboriginal baby standing outside of a building

Image source: Telethon Kids Institute.

NACCHO CEO makes Australians who mattered list

NACCHO CEO Pat Turner has made the Sydney Morning Herald Good Weekend’s second annual 40 Australians Who Mattered list for her contribution to social justice. Pat’s citation says ‘For decades Pat Turner has being a passionate voice for Aboriginal equality and self-determination, inside and outside governments, particularly in the field of Indigenous health. Her strong leadership was highlighted this year in her role as the lead convenor of the Coalition of Peaks, which brings together more than 50 Indigenous community peak organisations. In July, Turner stood beside Prime Minister Scott Morrison to launch a new national agreement on Closing the Gap, which is supposed to make Indigenous-run organisations central to programs to reduce disadvantage in communities.

“She’s one of the most experienced public servants in Australia,” says federal Labor frontbencher and Wiradjuri woman Linda Burney. “She’s had an incredibly distinguished career spanning both community and government. She shows a willingness to speak truth to power, she understands how governments work and is absolutely committed to driving a proper partnership with Aboriginal people in relation to Closing the Gap.”

To view the full article click here.

portrait shot of Pat Turner sitting in a chair looking directly at the camera, hand to her cheek

Pat Turner AM, NACCHO CEO. Image source: The Sydney Morning Herald.

Activism against gender-based violence video  

Goolum Goolum Aboriginal Co-op has contributed to a video telling the story of what a gender equitable future looks like and the need to call out disrespect, sexism and discrimination. The video, produced with funding from Respect Victoria and the City of Ballarat, is part of the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence global campaign to end gender-based violence. The campaign is book-ended by the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women on 25 November and International Human Rights Day on 10 December. These days were chosen in order to emphasise that violence against women is a human rights violation. 

To view the article about the video’s launch click here, and to view the video click here.banner with text '16 Days of Activism Respect Women: Call It Out' with vector images of people holding up letters that make up words 'Respect is....'

Dialysis trial focusing on culture

Bluey Roberts had been undergoing dialysis treatment in Adelaide’s major hospitals for the past three years. This year, however, he said things have changed for the better. “It’s more like home here,” Mr Roberts said while overlooking a smoking fireplace at Kanggawodli, a short-term accommodation facility in Adelaide’s north-west for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples from across Australia.

Until recently, the site didn’t provide dialysis treatment options — but a trial of on-site facilities has seen immediate results, boosting attendance for vital services. For Bluey, a Ngarrindjeri elder and revered artist whose work features at institutions including the Art Gallery of SA, home is several hours’ drive away. But health difficulties linked to his dialysis needs left him in a challenging spot. “I wasn’t too good when I first came but I’m not too bad now, sort of settled down and got a lot better with my dialysis,” he says.

The six-month SA Health pilot of stationing dialysis machines at Kanggawodli makes it the only treatment location outside of a hospital in a metropolitan setting. Kanggawodli Manager Wade Allan said traditional owners often find hospitals overwhelming and alienating, which results in patients not committing to ongoing treatment.

To view the full article click here.

#swab4mob campaign launch

The Aboriginal Health and Medical Research Council of NSW (AH&MRC) has partnered with The National Association of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workers and Practitioners (NAATSIHWP) and other Aboriginal organisations to launch #swab4mob; a campaign aimed at urging Aboriginal communities to protect their families by getting COVID-19 testing if they feel unwell. While there is currently no available COVID-19 vaccine or cure, it is essential that continued testing rates are maintained to help with community control of the virus and assist with contact tracing.

AH&MRC CEO Robert Skeen stated: “The collective voice of Aboriginal communities and Aboriginal health organisations play an important role to help people maintain COVID-19-safe behaviours and high testing rates while there is no cure or vaccine available for COVID-19. Wash your hands, wear a mask in crowded areas, and if you are feeling unwell, even just a slightly, play your part to protect your Community and get a COVID-19 test.”

To view AH&MRC’s press release about the #swab4mob launch click here and to view the #swab4mob video click here.image from swab4mob video David Follent Chairman NAATSHIHWP

feature tile Aboriginal fingers holding cashless debit card, words 'cashless debit card 'not worth the human cost''

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Welfare cards ‘not worth the human cost’

feature tile Aboriginal fingers holding cashless debit card, words 'cashless debit card 'not worth the human cost''

Welfare cards ‘not worth the human cost’

Cashless debit cards for welfare recipients are not worth the human cost, senators have been told. The Morrison government plans to make the cards permanent in existing trial sites and move welfare recipients in the NT and the Cape York onto the system. A Senate inquiry probing the enabling legislation has heard from academics, charities and Indigenous groups.

Anti-card campaigner Kathryn Wilkes said the system was cruel and demeaning. She told senators the scheme – which limits most welfare spending – had caused stress and mental anguish. “This program is not worth the human cost,” Ms Wilkes said. Fellow campaigner Amanda Smith said the government was legislating segregation. “Whatever the government wants to label what they’re doing, they’re creating and investing in a system of permanent social and economic apartheid,” she said.

Aboriginal Peak Organisations Northern Territory chief John Paterson said the public money earmarked for making the card permanent would be better spent on Indigenous housing, education and health. “We want to get people off the welfare treadmill, we want to create jobs,” he said.

Healthy eating – what works at the store

Supermarkets and food retail stores are the principal source of people’s food and beverage needs and are therefore a prime setting to implement changes designed to increase the purchase of healthy food and decrease the purchase of unhealthy food in order to improve population diet and health. There is growing awareness that where foods are placed in shelves is an important marketing strategy.

A recent study from NZ, involving a retailer/academic collaboration, explored the impact of more prominent shelf placement of healthier products. However, the study found that placing healthier breakfast cereals at adult eye level had no impact on sales. Failure to show any meaningful outcomes is not uncommon in this research area, so it is great to see some results from a study with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities in remote Australia. The Lancet has just published a study led by Professor Anna Peeters at Monash University in conjunction with the Arnhem Land Progress Aboriginal Corporation (ALPA)which owns and manages community stores in remote Australia and has looked at the implementation of the co-designed Healthy Stores 2020 strategy.

To read the full article click here.

9 infographic tiles representing store strategies to encourage healthy eating

Image source: croakey website.

Let’s work together towards Closing the Gap

The Coalition of Peaks (CoPs) is a representative body of around 50 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled peak organisations and members that have come together to change the way Australian governments work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Community-controlled organisations work for and are accountable to their communities, not governments. They believe Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples should have a meaningful say on policies and programs that impact on them through formal partnerships with Australian governments at all levels.

The CoPs and all Australian Governments signed a new National Agreement on Closing the Gap in July this year. This was an historic and exciting moment because it was the first time a national agreement about First Nations people had been made in partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, through their community-controlled organisations.

To find out more about the National Agreement on Closing the Gap go to the Coalitions of Peaks website here.CTG Historial Agreement COP tile - cartoon Aboriginal hand holding paper with title National Agreement

NACCHO CEO honoured for COVID-19 response

The Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association (AHHA) has announced it is jointly awarding the 2020 Sidney Sax medal for outstanding contributions to the development and improvement of Australian healthcare. Patricia Turner AM, CEO NACCHO is one of the award recipients for the significant leadership and proactive response as the COVID-19 pandemic began to impact Australia’s health system and communities. Pat Turner ensured that the PM, state premiers and chief ministers took urgent action to protect communities, close down access and prioritise safety to prevent community transmission of COVID-19. Ensuring that governments worked in partnership with communities, and placing culture at the heart of preventative measures, were key to successfully keeping communities safe. In comparison to the devastating incidence of COVID-19 in Indigenous communities abroad, rates of COVID-19 in First Nations peoples in Australia remain proportionately lower than the rest of the population. This successful model of community leadership will have long-term positive impact for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities working in partnership with governments.

To read the full press release click here.

Pat Turner at meeting Aoriginal and Torres Strait Islander flags in background

Patricia Turner AM Image source: Alice Springs News.

Palawa woman new AIDA President

The Australian Indigenous Doctors’ Association (AIDA) has announced a new Board of Directors, including the elections of Dr Tanya Schramm, a Palawa woman,  as the AIDA President. Tanya is a former AIDA Board member, a General Practitioner and also works for the University of Tasmania as a senior lecturer in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health. Vice President – Dr Simone Raye is a proud Bardi Jabbir Jabbir woman from the Kimberley. Simone was closely involved with the initial meetings that lead to the formation of AIDA. Simone hopes to strengthen relationships with specialty colleges to help First Nations students and trainees achieve Fellowship and be leaders within their chosen field.

To read the AIDA media release click here.

portrait image of Dr Tanya Schramm

Dr Tanya Schramm. Image source: Australian Indigenous Doctors’ Association website.

Food security essential for remote communities

Dietitians Australia is calling for the Government to ensure all Australians have access to affordable, safe, and nutritious food, regardless of their location. This comes ahead of the final report from the Senate Inquiry into Food Pricing and Food Security in Remote Indigenous Communities. Submitting a written response earlier thisyear, Dietitians Australia proposed 16 key recommendations, including the need to develop and implement a national strategy on food security, as well as elevating the status of community stores to an essential service.

“A National Food and Nutrition Security Strategy which includes local voices from remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, is vital to creating practical solutions to support adequate food access,” said Robert Hunt, CEO of Dietitians Australia. “Local food stores often provide the only source of food available for purchase in the community.

GPs encouraged to take up mental health training

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) is encouraging GPs in rural and remote Australia to undertake new mental health training to help children who’ve experienced disasters. It comes as GPs across the nation are dealing with increasing mental health presentations in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and last summer’s devastating bushfires, and with the next fire season approaching. There are two e-learning courses from Emerging Minds, National Workforce Centre for Child Mental Health available to RACGP members on the website: https://www.racgp.org.au/special-pages/login. The first builds knowledge and skills in child mental health assessment and management in general practice, and the second focuses on supporting children and families after natural disaster or community trauma – including in the immediate aftermath, short and long term.

To view the RACGP’s press release click here.

vector image person sitting head on knees whole of back fragments flying off

Image source: UKRI Medical Research Council.

Reducing racism in healthcare organisations

The impact of institutional racism in healthcare, and the steps organisations can take to improve health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples, is just one of the topics being explored as part of Dietitians Australia’s inaugural webinar series for NAIDOC week (8–15 November 2020). Dr Chris Bourke, a Gamilaroi man and Strategic Programs Director at Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association, will be calling on the healthcare sector to reflect on their governance and structure to improve the outcomes of their healthcare for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Dr Bourke, who is Australia’s first Indigenous dentist, highlights the importance of engaging both Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and non-Indigenous people in organisational leadership positions, ensuring a strong foundation to provide equitable healthcare. “Statistics show that just under 50% of the factors that contribute to poor health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are related to racism, intergenerational trauma and lack of cultural safety. We all play a role in reducing this inequality, but to influence change within an organisation, First Australians must be included within the governing team,” said Dr Bourke. Without action, the ongoing impacts of institutional racism are alarming. 

To view the Dietitians Australia media release, including details of how to register for their NAIDOC Week events click here.

protesters holding signs No Room for Racism

Image source: SBS NITV website.

Music’s role as health determinant

A proud descendant of the Wiradjuri First People of Australia, Griffith University researcher Associate Professor Naomi Sunderland (Queensland Conservatorium Research Centre), has been awarded $820,000 Australian Research Council (ARC) funding (including a Discovery Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Award) for the project titled The role of First Nations’ music as a determinant of health’.

This project aims to track how First Nations’ music and musicians are shaped by, and in turn may shape, powerful social determinants of health in Australia. The project responds to calls for health approaches that are strength based, First Nations-led, and culturally secure.

Aboriginal man from Bowraville Richie Jarrett singing into microphone, Aboriginal flag as backdrop

Richie Jarrett. Image source: Guardian News.

Sista Connections support college students

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: CtG targets alone will not close the chasm of need


AIHCTG logo painting of black hand with thumb interlinked with thumb of white hand against burnt orange cirle, surrounded by golden yellor circle, then white dots then black circle

CTG targets alone don’t drive change

The new National Agreement on Closing the Gap released in late July this year, was met with mixed reactions. Featuring 16 new socioeconomic targets and the commitment to shared decision-making between government and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander representatives, it reset the original 2008 targets after little year-to-year progress. The Coalition of Peaks, a representative body made up of approximately 50 Indigenous community-controlled organisations, believes progress on the targets over the last 12 years didn’t progress as far as was hoped, as governments didn’t follow through with their commitments.

Lead Convenor of the Coalition of Peaks and CEO of the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation, Pat Turner AM said targets alone do not drive change. “The National Agreement gives our people and the wider Australian public a birds eye view of every government’s level of commitment to actually close the giant chasm of need,” she said.

To read the National Indigenous Times article click here.

view from waist up of two Aboriginal children one with arm around the shoulders of the other facing away from the canera

Image source: National Indigenous Times website.

SNAICC expresses out-of-home care concerns

The Secretariat for National Aboriginal and Islander Child Care (SNAICC) is deeply concerned about the increasing number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in out-of-home care being placed away from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families and carers, as revealed in a new report released by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) today. The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Child Placement Principle Indicators 2018–19 report measures progress towards implementing the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Child Placement Principle – a principle that aims to ensure the value of culture to the safety and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children is embedded in policy and practice.

To view SNAICC’s media release click here.

sad face of young Aboriginal girl

Image source: AbSec website.

COVID-19 homelessness short-term fix

Research for the Australian Homelessness Monitor 2020 reveals at least 33,000 rough sleepers and other homeless people have been booked into hotels and other temporary accommodation during the COVID-19 crisis. COVID-19 triggered multimillion-dollar commitments by state governments to tackle homelessness, with several states pledging funds and support to move beyond this short-term fix to ensure former rough sleepers find long-term housing. These are commendable actions in a long-neglected policy area, even if largely inspired by public health anxieties rather than concern for the welfare of people without a home. Such action should be part of comprehensive national housing strategy to design and phase-in the wide-ranging reforms of taxes and regulations needed to rebalance Australia’s housing system and tackle homelessness at its source.

To view the full article click here.

homeless camps (multiple tents) Macquarie Street Sydney

Homeless camp in the centre of Sydney. Image source: The Conversation website.

COVID-19 wellbeing survey seeks youth voice

The Menzies School of Health Research Aboriginal and Islander Mental health initiative (AIMhi) Stay Strong team is looking for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth between 16–25 years old to take part in to understand the impacts of the Coronavirus pandemic on mental health and wellbeing.

HAVE A YARN WITH THE TEAM – the team would love to hear about your experiences during the pandemic. Join them for a casual interview in-person (in Darwin) or on Zoom! Each interview participant will receive a $30 voucher! For more information about the research click here and here and to express your interest in participating click here.

UNABLE ATTEND AN INTERVIEW? – you can still take part by completing this 10 minute survey and go in the draw to win a $20 voucher!

Not you, but know someone who might be interested?

Please share this information to spread opportunities for young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to have a voice in Australian research.

backs of Aboriginal Trei and Karlie Stewart leaning against would post rail fence looking at football field

Trei and Karlie Stewart. Image source: ABC news.

Every Doctor, Every Setting National Framework

The Every Doctor, Every Setting: A National Framework was officially launched last week, as part of a national commitment to prioritise the mental health and wellbeing of Australian doctors and medical students. The framework was developed under the guidance of a national working group and in consultation with doctors, doctors in training and medical students in addition to a review of best practice evidence. It aims to guide coordinated action on the mental health of doctors and medical students through target areas including – improving training and work environments, recognising and responding to those needing support, improving the response to doctors and medical students impacted and improving the culture of the medical profession to enable wellbeing and coordinated action and accountability.

To view the DRS4DRS media release click here.Every Doctor, Every Setting banner - stethoscope sitting on keyboard

Reward for NATSIHWA membership referrals

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Worker Association (NATSIHWA) is holding a membership drive for the month of October 2020. NATSIHWA are inviting all student, associate and full members of NATSIHWA to refer new members. By referring a new member, you will assist others to discover the benefits of becoming a NATSIHWA member and get rewarded with a special gift pack for every successful referral. Also, there is a chance to win a Google Home Mini, for the most number of referrals!
 
The offer is valid for the month of October 2020 and applications must be made online.

Better healthcare in hospitals for our people webinar during NAIDOC Week 2020

The Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association will be holding a free webinar Better healthcare in hospitals for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in acknowledgement of NAIDOC Week 2020 at 10.30 am Thursday 12 November 2020.

AHHA would like to invite you and any other interested parties to register here, where you will also find more information on the webinar and presenters.

health professional leaning on rail of hospital bed talking to Aboriginal woman patient

Image source: the footprints network webpage.

Racism embedded in healthcare system

Why do vast gaps exist between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians when it comes to health outcomes? What would you say if someone told you that racism is embedded in Australia’s healthcare system, and that the system itself was perpetuating inequities? Professor Roianne West is taking on the immense task of unravelling racism in Australia’s complex health system through innovative training and education, and inspiring a generation of healthcare workers to understand the impact of racism on the health outcomes of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

To read the full Hospital and Healthcare article click here.

portrait photo of Professor Roianne West

Professor Roianne West, Griffith University. Image source: Hospital and Healthcare website.

Training to support Stolen Generations survivors

The Marumali Journey of Healing Model developed by Aunty Lorraine (Darcy) Peeters, a survivor of the removal policies herself. is unique, original and unparalleled. Since 2000 the Marumali Program, that is based on the nationally recognised best practice, good practice healing model, has been delivered to groups and individuals, with an aim of increasing the quality of support available to Stolen Generations, their families and their communities. Groups  include service providers in the Aboriginal community controlled sector and Government sector and survivors within community and the prison system.

Wingali Marumali Pty Ltd is running two courses in December:

Marumali Program for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Service Providers (4 days) – 1–4 December 2020, Brisbane.

Marumali Program Trauma-Informed Care For Stolen Generations Workshop for Non-Aboriginal Service Providers (2 days) – 7–8 December 2020, Brisbane.

For more information on the courses and to register click here.

close up photo of faces of Aunty Lorraine Peeters & her daughter Shaanf

Aunty Lorraine Peeters and her daughter Shaan. Image source: ABC All In The Mind webpage.

Mental health support network for our mob

Black Dog Institute is one step closer to developing a network to support mob struggling with mental ill-health. Led by the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Lived Experience Centre, the network is being developed through extensive consultation with communities across the nation.

Head of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Lived Experience Centre, Quandamooka woman, Leilani Darwin. said “We have had an opportunity to host some national online yarning circles with mob who have lived experience and I feel so privileged to hear their stories and their journeys. Even though we know how much our communities are impacted by suicide and mental ill-health, when you have families there that are losing 20 people in a year in the family group … the fact they can [attend and] talk about it is powerful.” 

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

Aboriginal man talking on his mobile phone

Image source: ABC News website.

Health worker support essential

The national peak body Mental Health Australia, has released results of a survey on the mental health and wellbeing of healthcare professionals across the country. The research looks at how the pandemic has affected healthcare professionals on a personal level, and what strategies they have used to maintain mental health and wellbeing over the past six months. Over 70% of healthcare professionals stated that COVID-19 restrictions have impacted their mental health and wellbeing in a negative way. 4 out of 5 say that working in healthcare during the pandemic has increased the amount of stress and pressure they experience in the workplace.

To view the Mental Health Australia’s media release click here.

3 Moorundi ACCHS Aboriginal Health Workers in office, one have blood pressure taken

Moorundi ACCHS Aboriginal Health Workers Alfie Gollan, Njirrah Rowe, Dorothy Kartinyeri. Image source: The Murray Valley Standard.

Social determinants of health link to kidney disease

The Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet has produced an updated Review of kidney health among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Kidney disease is a serious health concern for people living in Australia with one in three adult Australians at an increased risk of developing chronic kidney disease (CKD).  Australians diagnosed with CKD regularly suffer poor health outcomes and a compromised quality of life. CKD  can be associated with other chronic diseases like diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people experience an increased burden of kidney disease, particularly those living in remote communities. HealthInfoNet Director Neil Drew says, “The purpose of this review is to provide a comprehensive synthesis of key information on kidney health among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Australia and provide evidence to assist in the development and delivery of policies, strategies and programs”.

To view the Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet media release in full click here.

Aboriginal person's arm & hand with tubes for dialysis

Image source: RACGP website.

Australia-wide – Hearing Australia

Hearing Australia is looking to fill the two Hearing Assessment Program (HAP) positions listed below. The HAP is a major initiative to reduce hearing loss in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children aged 0-6 years living in regional and remote communities.

FT Aboriginal Manager Capability Strategy HAP (fixed term)

The Aboriginal Manager Capability Strategy HAP position is a national role responsible for the detailed design and implementation of the capability strategy with a key focus of building capability in Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services.  The capability strategy contains 3 key areas- ensuring services have the resources (human and physical) to do ear and hearing health checks on 0–3 year olds; that services have staff who are competent to undertake these checks and that services have a system in place to provide checks at regular intervals during a child’s first 3 years of life. To view the job description click and to apply click here.

FT Manager Clinical Operations HAP (fixed term)

The Manager Clinical Operations HAP position is a national role responsible for ensuring that HAP-EE has sufficient clinical staff to meet its national service targets. The Manager will work closely with other HAP-EE managers to ensure that clinical staff and clinical equipment are deployed effectively across all HAP-EE sites, hearing centres and tele-health services to complete assessments and to build capability in participating services. To view the job description click and to apply click here.

Applications for both positions close on Friday 30 October 2020.

Adelaide – CRANAplus

FT or PT Senior Psychologist: Mental Health & Wellbeing Service (permanent)

CRANAplus is the Peak Professional Body for Health Professionals working in remote and isolated areas across Australia. We exist to ensure the delivery of safe, high quality primary healthcare to remote and isolated areas of Australia. Responsible for the development and delivery of high-quality psychological interventions and supports to Health Professionals and their families, across Australia. We are seeking an experienced Practitioner who has a passion to: – Provide counselling care and interventions through CRANAplus’ Bush Support Line – Grow clinical resources, materials, and workshops available to remote and rural Health Professionals to support their wellbeing and professional knowledge growth. – Contribute to new innovations, designs, and position CRANAplus as a specialist service.

To view the position description click here.

Applications close 3.00 pm 9 November 2020.CRANAplus logo & image of 4-wheel drive in outback

older Aboriginal man looking directly at camera with Aboriginal male youth in background - image from Diabetes Australia website

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: First Nations People should not pay price for Australia’s economic recovery

First Nations people should not pay price for economic recovery

The Edmund Rice Centre today expressed serious concern at the disregard for the needs of First Nations Peoples and Refugees in the 2020–21 Federal Budget. “It has been said that the Federal Budget is statement on the nation’s priorities. Clearly if that is the case, judging by this Budget, First Nations Peoples, refugees and people seeking asylum – some of the most vulnerable people to the pandemic – are very low priorities for this Government”, Phil Glendenning, Director of the Edmund Rice Centre and President of the Refugee Council of Australia said. Two months ago the Prime Minister signed a new Closing the Gap Agreement committing Federal and State Governments to a long-term program to finally reduce the huge disparities in life expectancy, health, incarceration, education and employment between First Nations peoples and other Australians. “Prime Minister Morrison’s signing of the new Closing the Gap Agreement just two months ago was a welcome step, but in last night’s Budget the Government provided no resources to make it happen”, Mr Glendenning said. 

To view the Edmund Rice Centre media release click here.

Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (VACCHO) CEO, Jill Gallagher agreed, saying a lack of Federal Government support towards Closing the Gap targets was a major omission in a Budget that would provide some hip pocket relief and new jobs for young people but delivered “nothing of substance” for Victorian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

Ms Gallagher said Treasurer Josh Frydenberg mentioned Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders just once in his speech. She described the lack of money for new Closing the Gap measures as “dispiriting”. “There are a number of targets which all levels of Government have committed too but where is the investment?”, she asked.

To view the article about the VACCHO comments click here.

Funding to improve health of First Nations families

A program that is already showing unprecedented success in improving the health and employment outcomes of First Nations families has been awarded $2.5 million in funding through the National Health and Medical Research Council. Led by the team at Charles Darwin University’s Molly Wardaguga Research Centre at the College of Nursing and Midwifery, the project is focused on providing the Best Start to Life for First Nations women, babies and families and has been awarded a Centres of Research Excellence (CRE) grant. Co-director of the Molly Wardaguga Research Centre Associate Professor Yvette Roe said the funding would allow the centre to expand and build on a current program that had resulted in a 50% reduction in preterm birth and 600% increase in First Nations employment.

To read the full article click here.

Women and researchers during the Caring for Mum on Country project, Galiwinku, Northern Territory. (L-R)-Yvette Roe, Dhurruurawuy, wurrpa Maypilama, Sarah Ireland, Wagarr and Sue Kildea

Women and researchers during the Caring for Mum on Country project, Galiwinku, Northern Territory. (L-R)-Yvette Roe, Dhurruurawuy, wurrpa Maypilama, Sarah Ireland, Wagarr and Sue Kildea. Image source: Katherine Times.

Palawa man heads mainstream health peak body

The Australian Physiotherapy Association (APA) has announced the appointment of Palawa man Scott Willis as its 22nd national president, the first Indigenous president of a mainstream health peak body in Australia. Scott, who commences his two year term on 1 January 2021, said “Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ health remains a priority area for our profession. We’re going to ensure not only that we are a culturally safe, engaged profession by listening to, learning from and working with First Nations peoples, but we’re going to make physio a known, viable and aspirational professional choice for young Aboriginals coming through the education system. I want them to know they can and should aspire to strong and respected leadership roles in the community.”

To view the APA media release click here.

portrait photo of APA President Scott Willis

APA president-elect Scott Willis. Image source: Australian Physiotherapy Association.

Cashless Debit Card expansion opposed

The Aboriginal Peak Organisation of the Northern Territory (APO NT) have called on all members of parliament to strongly oppose the legislation that would make the Cashless Debit Card (CDC) permanent in the current trial sites and expand it to the NT and Cape York, despite there being no proof that compulsory income management works. APO NT spokesperson John Paterson said, “Support for the bill would directly contradict the recent National Agreement on Closing the Gap that was supported by all levels of government including the Commonwealth. It is not in keeping with the spirit of the agreement and its emphasis on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander self-determination.” Mr Paterson added, ”We did not ask for the card, yet 22,000 of us will be affected if the card is imposed on NT income recipients.”

To view the APO NT’s media release click here.

Aboriginal man under tree holding Cashless Debit Card to camera

Image source: Gove Online.

Restricting high-sugar food promotion helps diet

Restricting the promotion and merchandising of unhealthy foods and beverages leads to a reduction in their sales, presenting an opportunity to improve people’s diets, according to a randomised controlled trial of 20 stores in remote regions of Australia. Julie Brimblecombe, of Monash University, Australia, co-joint first author of the study, said: “Price promotions and marketing tactics, such as where products are placed on shelves, are frequently used to stimulate sales. Our novel study is the first to show that limiting these activities can also have an effect on sales, in particular, of unhealthy food and drinks. This strategy has important health implications and is an opportunity to improve diets and reduce associated non-communicable diseases. It also offers a way for supermarkets to position themselves as responsible retailers, which could potentially strengthen customers loyalty without damaging business performance.” 

To read the full article published in The Lancet click here.

hands of Aboriginal person pushing trolley or health foods in outback store

Image source: Adult Learning Australia website.

New research supports self-care

Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt is set to launch a new policy blueprint that calls for policy reform to improve population health and reduce health service demand through effective self-care. Released by the Mitchell Institute, the document notes a range of environmental, economic and social factors drive self-care capability. It says governments can play a major role in creating environments that either inhibit or enable self-care. The importance of self-care to good health has also been highlighted by COVID-19, according to the Mitchell Institute’s Professor of Health Policy, Rosemary Calder. “Now is the time for a systematic approach, led by a national agenda to enable shared responsibility between government organisations and health care professionals to tackle health inequity and support self-care for all Australians,” she says.

To view the full article click here.

man's hand holding baby's hand both cradled in woman's hand against blurred grass background

Image source: Emerging Minds, Australia website.

Funding for healthy ageing research

Professor Dawn Bessarab from the University of WA’s Centre for Aboriginal Medical and Dental Health and her team will lead the Centre for Research Excellence on the Good Spirit Good Life: Better health and wellbeing for older Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians. The first Centre for Research Excellence in Australia to explore Indigenous ageing, Professor Bessarab and her team were awarded $2.5 million in NHMRC funding. They will develop their research with and from the perspective of Aboriginal people, to better understand healthy ageing in older Aboriginal people and inform culturally secure and effective service provision.

To view the full article click here.

elderly Aboriginal woman in hospital bed looking up to nurse

Indigenous elder Mildred Numamurdirdi. Image source: The Guardian.

Cost of hygienic products linked to high disease rates

A Senate committee investigating the over-pricing of items in remote Aboriginal communities has heard from Melbourne University Indigenous Eye Health Institute’s senior engagement officer Karl Hampton, who said the price-gouging of items like soap and towels is a key factor to Indigenous youth holding “the heavy burden” of serious trachoma infections.

To view the full Global Citizen article click here.

supermarket shelves showing high cost of soap

Image source: The Guardian Australian edition.

Keeping our sector strong discussion

Indigenous Business Australia (IBA) is hosting a virtual forum from 12.00–1.00 pm (AEDT) Monday 12 October 2020 with the Minister for Indigenous Australians, The Hon Ken Wyatt, AM, MP, to discuss the changes made by Indigenous businesses adapting to survive and thrive in the current climate.

To find out more and register your attendance click here.

Spaces are limited for this opportunity so be sure to register today!

Learning from each other webinar series

The Sydney Institute for Psychoanalysis invites you to join them as they bring together First Nations’ thinkers with psychoanalysts and psychotherapists in a series of six webinars in the spirit of Two Way – working together and learning from each other.

All profits will go to CASSE’s Shields for Living, Tools for Life, a dual cultural and therapeutic program, based in the Alice Springs region for ‘at-risk’ youth, providing an alternative to detention and reducing the likelihood of offending or reoffending.

The Two-Way: Learning from each other webinar series will stream 8.00–9.30 pm AEST each Tuesday from 13 October to 17 November 2020.

Click here for the webinar program and registration.

Queenie McKenzie Dreaming Place - Gija country 1995

Queenie McKenzie, Dreaming Place – Gija Country, 1995.
Image source: Australian Psychoanalytical Society,

Range of health scholarships available

The following scholarship programs, aimed at increasing Aboriginal and Torres Strait lslander participation in the health workforce and improving access to culturally appropriate health services, are seeking applications.

Indigenous Health Scholarships – Australian Rotary Health administer these scholarships on behalf of the Department of Health, providing a one off grant of $5,000 to assist students with their day to day expenses and provide mentoring support while they undertake a course in a wide range of health related professions. For further information click here.

Nursing Scholarships – the Australian College of Nursing are currently offering nursing scholarship opportunities for study in 2021 with undergraduate and postgraduate scholarships of up to $15,000 per year of full time study being available for eligible courses. Further information is available here. Applications close from 25 October 2020.

Puggy Hunter Memorial Scholarship Scheme – provides financial assistance to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander undergraduate students for entry level studies that lead or are a direct pathway to registration or practice as a health professional.  Further information is available here. Applications close on 8 November 2020 for studies in 2021.

portrait of Indigenous Health Scholarship 2020 recipient Marlee Paterson, UNSW, Doctor of Medicine.

Indigenous Health Scholarship 2020 recipient Marlee Paterson, UNSW, Doctor of Medicine. Image source: Australian Rotary Health website.

NSW – Taree – Biripi Aboriginal Corporation Medical Centre

Aboriginal Health Worker – Drug & Alcohol/Sexual Health – Identified x 2 (male and female)

Human Resources Officer x 1

Maintenance Officer x 1

Biripi Aboriginal Corporation Medical Centre (Biripi ACMC), a community controlled health service providing a wide range of culturally appropriate health and well-being services covering communities across the Mid-Northern NSW Region, is looking to fill a number of vacant positions.

To view the job descriptions for each position click on the name of the position above.

Applications for all positions close 5.00 pm Sunday 18 October 2020.Biripi Aboriginal Corporation Medical Centre logo silhouette of two black hand overlapping inside yellow circle inside border top half black, bottom half red with words Our Health In Our Hands

VIC – Shepparton – Rumbalara Aboriginal Co-operative Ltd.

PT Case Manager (Re-advertised)

FT Cradle to Kinder Worker

FT Family Preservation Worker 

Kinship Care Case Management

FT Practice Manager

Rumbalara Aboriginal Co-operative Ltd. has a number of vacancies within its Health & Wellbeing, Engagement & Family and Positive Ageing & Disability services areas.

Applications for the Case Manager position close 4.00 pm Tuesday 13 October 2020.

Applications for the Cradle to Kinder Worker, Family Preservation Worker and Kinship Care Case Manager positions close 4.00 pm Wednesday 14 October 2020.

Applications for the Practice Manager position close 4.00 pm Friday 23 October 2020.

NSW – Sydney – The George Institute for Global Health

FT Research Associate (project Manager)

The George Institute for Global Health has a very exciting opportunity for a Research Associate (project Manager) to join its ‘Safe Pathways’ team that will work in partnership with families to focus on developing a discharge planning and delivery model of care that will: address institutionalised racism; facilitate access to ongoing specialist burn care; and enhance communication, coordination and care integration between families, local primary health services and the burns service at Westmead. 

The George Institute’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Program cuts across content areas and is conducted within Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander ways of knowing, being and doing, with a focus on social determinants of health, health systems and healthcare delivery, and maintains an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander paradigm of health and healing (physical, emotional, social, cultural and spiritual) and a commitment to making impact through translation that influences policy.

For further details about the position click here. Applications close on 30 October 2020 or sooner if a suitable candidate is found.The George Institute for Global Health banner, words and purple tick with dot in shape of flame

World Evidence-Based Healthcare Day

World Evidence-Based Healthcare Day is a global initiative that raises awareness of the need for better evidence to inform healthcare policy, practice and decision making in order to improve health outcomes globally. It is an opportunity to participate in a debate about global trends and challenges, but also to celebrate the impact of individuals and organisations worldwide, recognising the work of dedicated researchers, policymakers and health professionals in improving health outcomes. World Evidence-Based Health Day is on Tuesday 20 October 2020 and has the 2020 theme is ‘Evidence to Impact’. For further information click here.logo with words World Evidinece-Based Healthcare Day 2020 ebhc 20 October 2020 light blue & navy

White Ribbon Day

Together, we really can end men’s violence against women in our communities and in our workplaces. But it starts with us turning awareness into sustained, collaborative action and it needs to start now. This year White Ribbon Day is on Friday 20 November. White Ribbon Australia are asking you to hold an event – online or as a group (following local COVID-safe guidelines) – to bring your community together as a catalyst for ongoing action. Download a Community Action Kit here to access ideas and resources to bring your community together on White Ribbon Day, get involved on social media, and to kick-start a Community Action Group that will continue to create impact long after the event is over.White Ribbon Australia banner - black bacground words White Ribbon Australia & white ribbon icon

Feature tile - Halls Creek 'Heart of Gold' town entry sign

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Halls Creek leaders recall day COVID-19 came to town

Feature tile - Halls Creek 'Heart of Gold' town entry sign

Halls Creek leaders recall day COVID-19 came to town

When coronavirus came to the small outback town of Halls Creek in WA it was “like a bomb went off”, according to Brenda Garstone, CEO of the Yura Yungi Aboriginal Medical Service. “We all had to run for cover,” she said. “We were scrambling. We didn’t know where to go, or what to do.” The WA Department of Health had warned that any community transmission in towns with remote communities would be devastating for the populations. When four healthcare workers at the local Halls Creek hospital returned positive tests, all at once, residents refused to attend the healthcare clinic for fear of picking up the virus, local shops emptied and Aboriginal men from the town’s night patrol went door to door, trying to communicate the seriousness of what was unfolding. While the outbreak was quickly contained, tensions in the small town have still not eased, with the community now fully aware of the threat COVID-19 poses.

To view the full article click here.

Halls Creek 'Heart of Gold' town entry sign

Image source: ABC News website.

Groundbreaking FASD diagnostic framework

Long wait times and centralised specialist doctors have left families in rural and remote areas waiting up to three years for a diagnosis of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD). But now a group of doctors, academics and Indigenous elders have come together in north-west Queensland to create a unique diagnostic tier system for the disorder. Local Indigenous leaders and Mount Isa rural doctor Marjad Page, a Kalkadoon, Waanyi and Ganggalidda man, wrote a dreamtime story to explain not only the disorder but the medical process to local Indigenous families. “The program is run from the Aboriginal medical service here in Mount Isa called Gidgee Healing, so it’s run out of a culturally appropriate medical service for the region,” Dr Page said.

To read the full article click here.

Gidgee Healing Dr Marjad Page portrait photo & Gidgee Healing logo

Dr Marjad Page. Image source: ABC News – ABC North West Queensland.

Six steps to stopping germs video launch

Australia is the only developed country still with high levels of trachoma and almost all cases occur in  remote Aboriginal communities. The Ending Trachoma project, which is run out of the Public Health Advocacy Institute of WA at Curtin University, aims to reduce the incidence of trachoma and skin infections in ‘trachoma at risk’ Aboriginal communities in remote WA through implementing environmental health strategies. They have developed a short video (see below) showing the importance of personal hygiene using ‘Milpa’s Six Steps to Stop Germs’ message. The video features women from the Nollamarra Football Team together with their children. It was developed by the Indigenous Eye Health at the University of Melbourne, with extensive input from Aboriginal community members and services in WA, SA and the NT. The message aims to encourage everyone, particularly kids, to stay healthy and strong and eliminate trachoma and other infectious diseases through following six steps.

For more information about the project click here.

COVID-19 offers unexpected opportunity to quit smoking

Smokers are worried. A respiratory disease is running rampant across the globe and people with unhealthy lifestyle habits appear to be especially vulnerable. Smokers hospitalised with COVID-19 are more likely to become severely unwell and die than non-smokers with the disease. At any point in time, most smokers want to quit. But COVID-19 provides the impetus to do it sooner rather than later. A recent study has found the proportion intending to quit within the next two weeks almost tripled from around 10% of smokers before COVID-19 to almost 30% in April. This heightened interest in quitting in the face of COVID-19 represents a unique opportunity for governments and health agencies to help smokers quit, and stay off smoking for good.

To view the full article in The Conversation click here.

two hands breaking cigarette in half

Image source: The Conversation.

Adolescent “never smoked” rate rises

Using data from the Australian Secondary School Students’ Alcohol and Drug Survey, a Prevention Centre PhD project led by Christina Heris found that the proportion Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adolescents who have never smoked rose from 49% in 2005 to 70% in 2017. Additionally, rates of low smoking intensity increased by 10% from 67% in 2005 to 77 % in 2017 meaning that, overall, the number of cigarettes smoked in a day has decreased amongst smokers in the 12–17 age group.

Prevention Centre investigator Professor Sandra Eades, a Noongar woman, who supervised Christina’s project said “It’s fantastic to see that tobacco control is working for all students, including driving down rates among Aboriginal young people. But we know that young Aboriginal people experience more of the risk factors for smoking such as stress, racism and disadvantage. There is a need for governments to address these broader determinants.”

To view the full article click here.

Aboriginal child holding & looking atan unlit cigarette

Image source: Deadly Vibe.

Original articles sought for inaugural HealthBulletin

The Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet is welcoming submissions from researchers, practitioners and health workers of original articles (not published elsewhere) for inclusion in their inaugural edition of the next generation of the Australian Indigenous HealthBulletin. They are seeking submissions that provide examples of research on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health, including policies, strategies and programs that have the potential to inform and support everyday practice.

For further information about how to submit papers click here.

Australian Indigenous HealthInforNet HealthBulletin Call for papers banner

Image source: Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet website.

National COVID-19 healthcare worker guidelines

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have a higher prevalence of respiratory conditions, many of which share symptoms with COVID-19. Healthcare workers examining a patient with respiratory symptoms are at risk of spreading infection between patients with the highest risk of transmission likely during throat and nose examination including when a swab is being collected.

Griffith University researchers have helped develop national guidelines to minimise healthcare workers’ risk of acquiring and spreading infection while examining Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients with respiratory symptoms. “These new guidelines aim to provide resources and support healthcare teams in prevention and management of COVID-19,’’ said Associate Professor Jing Sun from the School of Medicine who led the project.

For more information about the new national guidelines click here.

health professional in PPE removing swab from text tube

Image source: Flinders University website.

PPE innovation needed in remote health services

Clinicians, service providers and researchers have issued an urgent call for an Australian innovation in personal protective equipment (PPE) –  the ventilated hood – to be made available to remote health services, saying that without the hoods, the risk of coronavirus transmission within remote healthcare services and communities is grave.

To read the full article click here.

woman in hospitals bed under COVID-19 hood

Image source: Sydney Morning Herald.

JT Academy offers free employment advertising

Lendlease and JT Academy are encouraging all local employers to utilise the JT Academy FREE employment functions and resources. All you need to do is send the details of any job vacancies you have and let them help you find the best candidates – they will advertise your vacancy on their fully functioning job board for free!

This unique collaborative employment initiative, directed by Managing Director, Johnathan Thurston is fast becoming one the most ambitious employment initiatives Far North Queensland has ever seen. It harnesses the unique strengths of both Lendlease and JT Academy, who together are striving to provide direct job opportunities for local jobseekers.

For more information visit the JT Academy website here.

Jonathan Thurston in suit smiling, Job Board advertisement

Image source: Twitter #jtacademy.

Funding still required for rehab services

Weigelli Centre Aboriginal Corporation Inc Chairperson Ray Harris and CEO Daniel Jeffries have doubled down on the need for more funding to be made available for rehab services, saying revenue streams remained of concern with no additional recurrent funding available for rehab services. The Weigelli Centre and other services across the sector need additional funding to address the increasing need for drug and alcohol treatment services. The continuing challenges remain for services to provide support and assistance to Aboriginal individuals, families and their communities.

To read the full article in the Cowra Guardian click here.

Weigelli Centre Aboriginal Corporation metal sign

Image source: Aboriginal Health & Medical Research Council of NSW website.

CHF Big Ideas Competition

Do you have an idea which is going to change the way healthcare is delivered?

What about an idea which will transform how the health system works?

Consumers Health Forum (CHF) of Australia is invites you to send in videos of your ideas for innovation in health, to be part of the Big Ideas Forum at their Australian and NZ Shifting Gears Summit in March 2021. Your big idea could be something totally new, or it might be an example of something that has worked well in your community that could be expanded or tried in other places. You may like to base your idea on one or more of the key shifts highlighted in CHF’s 2018 White Paper Shifting Gears: Consumers Transforming Health. To view the White Paper click here.

For more information about the CHF Big Ideas Competition click here and for details about the CHF Summit 2021 click here.

4 people, each holding speech bubbles: Big Idea, Brain Storm, Think Different, Be Creative

Image source: Consumers Health Forum of Australia website.

Feature tile - First Nations-lead pandemic reponse a triumph - two Aboriginal boys holding a sign 'too dangerous to stop in Wilcannia'

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: First Nations-led pandemic response a triumph

Feature Story

Telethon Kids representatives, including Dr Fiona Stanley, have written to The Lancet, describing Australia’s First Nations-led response to COVID-19 as ‘nothing short of a triumph’. Since the beginning of the pandemic in Australia, there have been only 60 First Nations cases nationwide. This represents only 0.7% of all cases, a considerable under-representation, as First Nations people make up 3% of the total population. Only 13% of First Nations cases have needed hospital treatment, none have been in intensive care, and there have been no deaths.

These results have shown how effective (and extremely cost-effective) giving power and capacity to Indigenous leaders is. The response has avoided major illness and deaths and avoided costly care and anguish.

To read the letter published in The Lancet click here.

Wiradjuri man appointed as a Professor

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) has welcomed the appointment of Peter O’Mara as a Professor of Newcastle University. The Chair of the RACGP Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Faculty, Professor O’Mara is Director of the University’s Thurru Indigenous Health Unit and a practicing GP in an Aboriginal community controlled health organisation, Tobwabba Aboriginal Medical Service. Professor O’Mara said becoming a GP was not something he grew up believing was possible, “I always had a strong interest in science, but in my early years I believed in the stereotypical view that studying and practicing medicine was for other people – doctors’ children and wealthy families.”

To view the full article about Professor O’Mara click click here.

Professor Peter O'Mara speaking into a microphone at a lecturn

Image source: GP News.

Face masks for our mob

The Australian Government Department of Health has developed an information sheet called How to keep our mob safe using face masks.

To access the editorial click here.

Aaron Simon standing against wall painted with Aboriginal art, wearing an Aboriginal art design face mask

Image source: Australian Government Department of Health.

Racial Violence in the Australian health system

The statistical story of Indigenous health and death, despite how stark, fails to do justice to the violence of racialised health inequities that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples continue to experience. The Australian health system’s Black Lives Matter moment is best characterised as indifferent; a “business as usual” approach that we know from experience betokens failure. In an article published in The Medical Journal of Australia a range of strategies have been offered, ‘not as a solution, but as some small steps towards a radical reimagining of the Black body within the Australian health system; one which demonstrates a more genuine commitment to the cries of “Black Lives Matter” from Blackfullas in this place right now.’

To read the full article click here.

back of BLM protester holding sign of face of Kevin Yow Yeh who dies in custody at 34 years

Image sourced Twitter @KevinYowYeh.

Water fluoridation required

Poor oral health profoundly affects a person’s ability to eat, speak, socialise, work and learn. It has an impact on social and emotional wellbeing, productivity in the workplace, and quality of life. A higher proportion of Australians who are socially disadvantaged have dental caries. Community water fluoridation is one of the most effective public health interventions of the 20th century. Its success has been attributed to wide population coverage with no concurrent behaviour change required. The authors of a recent article in The Medical Journal of Australia have said the denial of access to fluoridated drinking water for Indigenous Australians is of great concern and have urged the Commonwealth government to mandate that all states and territories maintain a minimum standard of 90% population access to fluoridated water.

To view the full article click here.

close up photo of three Aboriginal children smiling

Image source: University of Melbourne website.

Torres Strait communities taking back control of own healing

Torres Strait Island communities are leading their own healing by addressing the trauma, distress and long-term impacts caused by colonisation. The island communities of Kerriri, Dauan and Saibai will host a series of healing forums coordinated by The Healing Foundation, in conjunction with Mura Kosker Sorority Incorporated; the leading family and community wellbeing service provider in the Torres Strait. Identifying the need for healing in the Torres Strait, Mura Kosker Sorority Incorporated Board President Mrs Regina Turner said: “We believe that the forums will provide Torres Strait communities a voice for creating their own healing solutions.”

To view the Healing Foundation’s media release click ere.

Wabunau Geth dance group from Kaurareg Nation

Wabunau Geth dance group from Kaurareg Nation. Image source: The Healing Foundation.

New tool to manage healthcare trial

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples can trial a new tool to help them manage their healthcare with the launch of a pilot program in Perth of the GoShare digital platform which has supported over 1,000 patients so far. Launched by the Minister for Indigenous Australians, the Hon Ken Wyatt AM MP, the pilot program enables doctors, nurses and other clinicians at St John of God Midland Public Hospital in Perth to prescribe a tailored information pack for patients. The electronic packs may include video-based patient stories, fact sheets, apps and tools on a range of health and wellness topics. They are prepared and adapted according to the patient’s health literacy levels and are being sent by email or text to improve their integrated care and chronic disease self-management.

To view the Australian Digital Health Agency’s media release click here.

GoShare Healthcare digital platform logo - clip art hand or hand

Image source: Healthily website.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health Workforce News Alert : @NATSIHWA CEO @briscoe_karl and @Ahpra CEO Martin Fletcher writes: “It is a fundamental right that everyone has the right to access health care that is free from #racism “

” It is a fundamental right that everyone has the right to access health care that is free from racism and the harm that it causes notably the impacts on the health and wellbeing of vulnerable populations. The current Black Lives Matter movement has clearly highlighted that racism is a public health issue.

We recently released a statement, No place for racism in healthcare.

This statement called out racist behaviour in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic and made clear there is no place for racism when treating patients.”

Ahpra CEO Martin Fletcher and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Strategy Group’s co chair, Karl Briscoe, CEO of the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Worker Association. Originally published Croakey 

One of the challenges is that most health professionals do not see themselves as racist. They can take great offence when these words are used, possibly without even considering that perhaps they may be unwittingly contributing to the problem. Yet the health outcomes gap tells the true story – we all have work to do to improve the health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples.

All health practitioners and parts of the health and education system must do their part to address racism in healthcare. We were heartened by the support we received from organisations and individuals on our statement.

So how should a practitioner regulatory scheme play its part in ensuring culturally safe health care and addressing the gap in health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples?

Two years ago, we posed this question to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health experts. The beginnings of an answer, they said, was to establish a genuine partnership through which Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are not only providing advice but are equal partners in shared governance and decision making.

And so, the National Registration and Accreditation Scheme Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Strategy Group was born.

A major focus of the work of the Strategy Group is to equip all entities within the National Scheme – National Boards, NSW Councils, Ahpra and accreditation authorities –  with the knowledge, awareness and tools to enable culturally safe health care.

We are proud of our early work in developing a national definition of cultural safety for our scheme, which was led by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health experts. The definition reads:

Cultural safety is determined by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander individuals, families and communities.

Culturally safe practice is the ongoing critical reflection of health practitioner knowledge, skills, attitudes, practising behaviours and power differentials in delivering safe, accessible and responsive healthcare free of racism.

To ensure culturally safe and respectful practice, health practitioners must:

    • Acknowledge colonisation and systemic racism, social, cultural, behavioural and economic factors which impact individual and community health;
    • Acknowledge and address individual racism, their own biases, assumptions, stereotypes and prejudices and provide care that is holistic, free of bias and racism;
    • Recognise the importance of self-determined decision-making, partnership and collaboration in healthcare which is driven by the individual, family and community;
    • Foster a safe working environment through leadership to support the rights and dignity of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and colleagues.

This definition is one of the many strategic actions committed to within the National Scheme’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health and Cultural Safety Strategy 2020 – 2025, which was developed by the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Strategy Group.

The Strategy focuses on achieving patient safety for Aboriginal and Torres Islander Peoples as the norm and the inextricably linked elements of clinical and cultural safety.

To counteract unconscious bias and to help ‘unlearn’ the filtered history many of us were taught at school, we have partnered with two Indigenous-led organisations, PricewaterhouseCoopers Indigenous Consulting and the First People’s Health Unit at Griffith University to develop a solid, pedagogically sound and evidence-based cultural safety training program.

Over time, every person working at Ahpra and on a National Board or committee will attend this in-depth training, because we must ensure that our work as a regulator is culturally safe.

However, the implementation of cultural safety is as much about individual practice as it is about changing systemic and institutional responses, whether that be practice standards, policy or legislation.

The National Boards that Ahpra works with to regulate Australia’s registered health practitioners set the national standards that all registered health practitioners must meet to become and remain registered.

The Boards have been integrating cultural safety requirements to these standards, meaning that the community can be clear about what they can expect from their practitioner. It also means that if a practitioner fails to meet this obligation, a Board may take regulatory action.

Strengthening the Indigenous health workforce

In supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, the current COVID-19 pandemic has also highlighted the opportunities to better use our culturally safe and clinically qualified Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Practitioner workforce. They are one of 16 nationally regulated professions within the National Scheme.

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Practitioner workforce has lived experience in and a deep understanding of the communities they serve, possessing cultural, intellectual, social and linguistic knowledge and skills that set the workforce apart from other health professions.

These skills underpin community reach and engagement capability, coupled with comprehensive foundations in primary health care, give Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Practitioners a unique ability and perspectives as health care professionals, cultural brokers and health system navigators.

More needs to be done to enable this workforce to play its part fully. For example, as has been highlighted in an earlier piece at Croakey variances in the Drugs and Poisons Acts of each jurisdiction significantly limits what Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Practitioners are authorised to do.

To address this, a review of drugs and poisons legislation across Australia could ensure Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Practitioners share the same basic rights to supply and administer medications in their communities.

We continue to engage with the community and sector to increase the numbers of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples on the Agency Management Committee and National Boards.

Work has commenced to develop a monitoring and reporting framework for notifications and during the pandemic we’ve managed to successfully complete the pilot for the Moong-moong-gak cultural safety training.

Furthermore, responding to COVID-19, we established a surge workforce for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Practice profession to be most responsive to the healthcare needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community members.’

Ensuring access to culturally safe healthcare is a priority for Ahpra and the important role of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Practice profession is a foundation for improving health outcomes and ensuring culturally safe health care.

NACCHO Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander #MentalHealth and #Racism #BlackLivesMatter : Australian psychologists stand united against racism in all forms.

 ” Recent international events have put a spotlight on issues of systemic racism in our society.

The resonance of the experiences of African American, Black American and Native American people in the US in their interactions with law enforcement and incarceration with those of Indigenous Australians demonstrates the global reach of this issue.

In Australia, the Black Lives Matter movement has refocused attention on black deaths in custody and the disproportionate rates of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people affected by the criminal justice system, where more than 400 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have died in custody since the end of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal deaths in custody in 1991.

This movement has reminded us to reflect on the role we must play, as individuals and as a profession, in addressing racism and promoting equality and the social and emotional wellbeing of all Australians.

We recognise that racism impacts on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in many ways. It is historical, political, social, cultural, systemic and direct.

The ongoing disparities in social and emotional wellbeing remind us of our responsibility to do more to stand against systemic racism.”

The Australian Indigenous Psychologists Association (AIPA) and the Australian Psychological Society (APS), in conjunction with the Association of Counselling Psychologists (ACP), Australian Clinical Psychology Association (ACPA), Australian Psychology Accreditation Council (APAC), Heads of Departments and Schools of Psychology Association (HODSPA), Institute of Clinical Psychologists (ICP), and Institute of Private Practising Psychologists (IPPP), stand together to call out and combat racism in our profession, our discipline and our society.

Download the Position Statement press release with all signatures 

APS-Black-Lives-Matter-position-statement-Psychologists-take-a-stand-against-racism_1

Read over 130 Aboriginal Health and Racism articles published by NACCHO over 8 years

In 2009, the Boatshed Racism Roundtable Declaration recognised that racism against Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples exists in various forms and in all systems in Australia today. Research evidence shows that racism is a barrier to the social and emotional wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, with a destructive impact on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander education, employment, health, mental health and wellbeing, well beyond its immediate impact.

Racism completely undermines all efforts to close the gap in health and other outcomes between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and other Australians.

We reaffirm our commitment to the recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the First Nations peoples of Australia, and the right of Indigenous peoples to exercise authority in education, employment, health and wellbeing for their communities, with the respectful support of Australian governments.

We remain committed to ensuring that high quality research and evidence are at the heart of public policy and evidence practice, and that the voices of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are heard in shaping policy and practice.

Our profession is not immune to racism and discrimination. In 2016, the APS Apology to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people acknowledged psychology’s role in contributing to their mistreatment and the erosion of culture.

The cultural assumptions that underlie psychological assessment and diagnostic practices, approaches to treatment, and our field’s complicity in research and policy provided the veneer of scientific rigor to harmful policies that further marginalised Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Our profession has not always respected their skills, expertise, world views and unique wisdom developed over thousands of years.

In 2020, we are reaffirming our commitment to action, and calling on others to join us.

We acknowledge that racism is present in the psychology profession and discipline, and we remain committed to addressing it.

Many organisations and professional bodies are taking a public stand against racism. We are asking more from the psychology profession.

Our profession has a responsibility to acknowledge, address and combat racism, and support people impacted by racism and discrimination.

As psychologists, we have a professional and ethical responsibility to defend and uphold the social and emotional wellbeing of all people, providing equitable, effective, and accessible psychological services.

Psychologists must do their best to support persons impacted by racism and discrimination and raise our voices against discriminatory systems and practice that threaten the social and emotional wellbeing of individuals and communities.

And importantly, we must also reflect on ourselves and address our own racism and unconscious biases.

To start to address racism, we need to purposefully strive for social justice and look not only at how we as individuals and a profession can be part of change, but what we must do to reform our systems and practice to address systemic racism.

Successfully standing against racism will depend on our willingness and ability to engage in reflection, truth telling, (have) courageous conversations and working together towards action.

The time for action is now. We invite all psychologists to stand together against racism and discrimination of all kinds.

 

NACCHO Aboriginal Health and Racism : Associate Professor Peter O’Mara, Chair of @RACGP Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health “ Differences in health outcomes are ‘absolutely’ linked to systemic and institutionalised racism in Australia.”

” I can recount ‘hundreds’ of similar experiences and that ‘every Aboriginal person’ would have comparable stories – Aboriginal ethnicity is the strongest predictor of Discharge Against Medical Advice ( DAMA  )and occurs at a rate eight times that of the non-Indigenous population.

I am trying to encourage health services to take more responsibility by getting them to ‘look at it in a different way’, as i believe it is incumbent upon health professionals, including GPs, to lead the fight against racism.

[I want them] to think what is so toxic about this environment … [where] they know if they walk out that front door they could die and they’d rather do that than stay in here.

Everyone in the health system should be advocating for their patients, but GPs are perfectly placed to do that.

Our patients trust us more than any other doctor that they see and they have an intimate, ongoing relationship with us that they don’t necessarily have with any other health professional.

Creating a safe environment for our patients is exactly our responsibility … it’s just about showing an extra level of care for patients and ensuring that they’re comfortable in order to help make a wider change.’

Associate Professor O’Mara highlighted disproportionately high rates of Discharge Against Medical Advice (DAMA) events experienced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as one by-product of discrimination in the health system, but said GPs are well-placed to help prevent such episodes from occurring. Speaking to GPnews

Download the NACCHO RACGP National Guide 

Read over 130 Aboriginal Health and Racism articles published by NACCHO over past 8 years

The 12th Closing the Gap report, released in February this year, laid bare the lack of progress Australia continues to make with regard to improving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health, education and employment outcomes.

Child mortality is twice that of non-Indigenous children, the life expectancy gap remains at about eight years (and equivalent to developing countries like Palestine and Guatemala), and there is a burden of disease 2.3 times greater than that of non-Indigenous Australians.

According to the Coalition of Peaks, which this week released what it called a ground-breaking report into the development of a new National Agreement on Closing the Gap, a change in approach is required to ‘truly close the gap in life outcomes between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and other Australians’.

It advocates for more Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander involvement across the board, and calls for mainstream service delivery – including the health sector – to be reformed to address systemic racism, promote cultural safety, and to be held ‘much more accountable’.

Associate Professor Peter O’Mara, Chair of RACGP Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health, told newsGP that differences in health outcomes are ‘absolutely’ linked to systemic and institutionalised racism in Australia, as is the subsequent trauma it inevitably produces.

View previous NACCHO TV Interview with Associate Professor Peter O’Mara

 

One of the greatest sources of trauma for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, according to Associate Professor O’Mara, is their interaction with police and the criminal justice system.

‘The system is against us in so many ways,’ he said.

‘I went up to a town in the Northern Territory many years ago and when I got to the community a young fella had just been taken across to Darwin where he was spending two weeks in incarceration [due to mandatory sentencing laws].

‘What had happened is, he and his mates were playing cricket on the street … and this young fella had the bat, hit a big shot, and smashed a streetlight.

‘Someone has complained and said, “I’m calling the cops”. He waited and did the right thing, he said, “Look, I’m really sorry, it was an accident, we were playing cricket. I’m sure my parents will try and help pay for the light”, but he got locked up for two weeks.

‘Just for something silly like that – they were playing cricket on a dead-end street in Australia.’

Associate Professor O’Mara says instances like that only tell part of the story.

‘[For example], there’s the fact that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are more likely to suffer hearing disorders – often as a result of things like chronic suppurative otitis media – and the evidence is there to say that when you have a hearing disorder, you’re more likely to be incarcerated,’ he said.

‘Some of the things that we do as GPs, like working on that trying to improve ear health for children, and particularly for Aboriginal children, can have a direct impact.’

Dr Penny Abbott, Chair of the RACGP Specific Interests Custodial Health network, said GPs are at the frontline for people who are in contact with the criminal justice system.

‘The reasons people end up in prison usually include health issues, such as mental health or substance-related problems, and social problems like homelessness and lack of community-based support networks,’ she told newsGP.

‘Addressing these issues before people get to the point of being sent to prison can happen at a primary care level where we are good at treating the whole person in their context.’

Dr Abbott also said once a person is released from prison it is a ‘perfect time’ to consider if an Aboriginal health check, mental health plan, or chronic disease management plan is urgently needed.

‘[GPs] can make a real difference to Aboriginal and Torres Strait patients by being aware of the kinds of health, social and system issues that their patient comes up against when leaving prison – a precarious time where people are at high risk of relapse to drug use, death, hospitalisation, and returning to prison,’ she said.

‘For example, GPs can ensure continuity of healthcare started in prison, manage health issues that weren’t addressed in prison, and look afresh at issues that may be cropping up post-release. Substance-use disorders are of course a big issue to be on top of.’

Aside from the incarcerated person, Associate Professor O’Mara said it is also important to be aware of the vicarious trauma that families can suffer, especially if the family member is assaulted while imprisoned, or worse, dies in custody.

Since the 1991 Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody, imprisoned Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have died at a lower rate than non-Indigenous prisoners – although there are no reliable statistics that can be used to calculate death rates in police custody.

A key finding of the royal commission was that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people ‘do not die at a greater rate than non-Aboriginal people in custody’, but rather ‘what is overwhelmingly different is the rate at which Aboriginal people come into custody, compared with the rate of the general community’.

Yet, in the subsequent years, the proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Australian prisons has nearly doubled from 14% to 27%. As a result, 437 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have died in custody in the past 29 years, as opposed to 99 in the 10-year period investigated by the royal commission.

The high incarceration rate means Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are 15 times more likely to end up in prison than non-Indigenous Australians, and thus more likely to die there as well.

Dr Abbott said deaths in custody are a great burden on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

‘We need to remain vigilant and committed to avoiding people being sent to prison in the first place, as well as providing quality care in prison and after release,’ she said.

‘We also need to continually reflect on the root causes of deaths in custody and over-incarceration of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, the social determinants of poor health and inequities, and the systemic racism that our patients continue to experience.

‘There are many things which will help, such as more programs to divert young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people from prison, and a larger workforce of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in health and prison health.’

But, as pointed out in the Coalition of Peaks report, institutionalised racism is not restricted to the justice system, and remains a common experience among health professionals and within the health system as well.

Associate Professor O’Mara highlighted disproportionately high rates of Discharge Against Medical Advice (DAMA) events experienced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as one by-product of discrimination in the health system, but said GPs are well-placed to help prevent such episodes from occurring.

‘This is a great example, unfortunately, of what happens to our people,’ he said.

‘I’ve seen a gentleman in the clinic in the Aboriginal Medical Service who had chest pain, and I thought that he was having a heart attack – a myocardial infarction. So I started treating him for that and called the ambulance, which took him to a local hospital that … within the health services is known to be blatantly racist.

‘This gentleman goes into the emergency department. He’s quite happy to be there and he’s thankful that he’s receiving the treatment, but some things are said in that environment that are so toxic to him that he decides to pull the ECG leads off, take the IV lines out and walk out the front door.

‘That happens all too commonly in this setting and then at that point, the doctors and nurses, the health professionals will wash their hands of it because we say, “We told them not to go, they chose to go, they signed this [DAMA form]”.’