NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: 2021 Census – make sure you’re counted

feature tile text 'make sure your community is counted in the 2021 census' & vector image of Australia with orange yellow black brown people all over the map

2021 Census – make sure you’re counted

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) has started sending instructions on how to complete the Census to more than 10 million Australian households ahead of the Census on Tuesday 10 August 2021. For people in remote communities, there will be Census teams available to help households complete their form. Where possible, they’ll be people from within the community.

Chenile Chandler, a young Wurundjeri woman of the Kulin Nations and Census Community Engagement Officer is helping more Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians to understand the benefits of completing the Census. Chenile said the ABS has been working closely with communities to make sure people can take part and be counted, “Our ABS Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander engagement staff, and our Census teams, are there to support community, including the local people who choose work on the Census. Having the right numbers means the right services can be provided in communities. For example, knowing the number of babies in a region can help plan funding for preschools or mums and bubs health programs. There’s plenty of help for our mob to complete the Census, so that everyone participates.”

“You can start as soon as you get your instructions if you know where you’ll be on Census night. You can complete the Census online, on a mobile device or on paper. This will make it easier for people to complete their Census at a time that suits them. Remember, the Census can help plan for community needs. That’s why it’s important to include everyone who is staying in your home on Census night, such as Elders, babies and visitors. Now more than ever, as we live through the COVID-19 pandemic, we need to know the demographics of our communities to help plan programs and services.”

“Your participation in the Census means having the right services for our mob. Make sure you and your family are counted.”

To view the ABS Census media release in full click here and for more information and resources, visit the ABS website here.

banner text 'ABS logo Census on orange strip with Aboriginal art in background

‘Our Story. Our Future.’ was created by proud Wiradjuri, Wotjobaluk, Yuin and Gumbaynggirr artist Luke Penrith and Maluililgal people, Badu Island artist Naseli Tamwoy.

Kimberley communities without drinking water

Throughout WA’s Kimberley region, potentially hundreds of Indigenous residents drink water each day without knowing whether it is harming their health. Those residents live in or regularly visit the 44 remote communities classed as ‘very small’, which are included in the WA Government’s Remote Essential and Municipal Services Program, known as REMS.

In 2019, these communities started receiving annual drinking water testing for only chemical contaminants — four years after a scathing WA Auditor General’s report. Since then, a handful of those very small remote communities have been put on the Department of Communities’ regular water testing schedule. But the vast majority, all of which are in the Kimberley, still do not receive testing for dangerous microbes such as the potentially lethal E. coli bacteria.

That lack of testing was highlighted in this year’s follow-up Auditor General’s report, which found E. coli and uranium contamination still remained an issue in some communities.  Residents in those communities say they, like almost all Australians, deserve to know their drinking water is safe, while experts point to technologies such as mobile testing kits as a potential solution.

To view the full article click here.

two water tanks on a platform, overgrown in bush setting

Successive WA Auditor General reports have highlighted drinking water in remote Indigenous communities as an area of concern. Photo: Erin Parke, ABC Kimberley. Image source: ABC News.

Calls to prioritise support to reduce OOHC

One year after all Australian governments and the Coalition of Peaks signed the National Agreement on Closing the Gap, the Productivity Commission has released the first Annual Data Compilation Report. “As a national member of the Peaks, we welcome the report. It will monitor the progress on key outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children,” SNAICC CEO Catherine Liddle said.

“Our families need urgent support – and the report highlights that systemic transformation is what is required. It calls for governments to change the way they do business with our people to close the gap. This includes continuing to work with our sectors to ensure they are prioritised as the experts in delivering culturally and locally appropriate services to our families. Importantly, this first report also sets baselines to track progress of the Closing the Gap targets and provides building blocks for accountability to the actions that governments make,” Ms Liddle said.

To view the SNAICC media release in full click here.

black & white image of girl holding teddy in one hand and pulling back a curtain with the other hand

Image source: The Guardian.

Oral hygiene promoted

The importance or oral health will be highlighted during Dental Health Week, with children, families and staff at early year services within the Lower Hume (Mitchell and Murrindindi Shires) are getting excited about this year’s theme: Keep your smile for life. Dental Health Services Victoria (DHSV) supports the Australian Dental Association’s campaign, which runs from August 2 to 8. This year’s theme aims to raise awareness across all ages of the importance of maintaining good oral health to keep a smile for life.

DHSV have also launched Aboriginal dental health ambassador’s and resources to help promote oral health to Aboriginal communities this year. These include Wala the Platypus, Dirran the Kangaroo and Dhuna (pronounced thuna) the Koala who promote the Smiles 4 Miles key messages of drink well, clean well and eat well. These characters were created by artist Madison Connors, a proud Yorta Yorta (Wolithica), Dja Dja Wurrung and Kamilaroi woman and mother to two. Wala is the Yorta Yorta word for water, Dirran is the Yorta Yorta word for teeth and Dhuna is the Yorta Yorta word for eat.

The Smiles 4 Miles program is an initiative of DHSV, implemented locally by Lower Hume Primary Care Partnership (PCP) which aims to improve the oral health of preschool aged children and their families by encouraging healthy eating, healthy drinking, good oral hygiene and regular dental visits.

To view the full article in the Riverine Herald click here and for more information on the Smiles 4 Miles program in Lower Hume and resources click here.

Dirran the Kangaroo drawing for Dental Health Week

Aboriginal dental health ambassador’s and resources to help promote oral health to Aboriginal communities have been launched as part of Dental Health Week, including Dirran the Kangaroo.

Gwandalan National Palliative Care Project

BRAMS Newsletter

Broome Regional Aboriginal Medical Service (BRAMS) have published the July edition of their newsletter. In this edition topics covered include SOLID Fit, NDIS service delivery, Health Check Month, COVID-19 vaccine staff stories, capacity building funding and a patient profile.

Click here to view the newsletter.

banner text 'BRAMS NEWSLETTER July 2021' blue red grey black white Aboriginal dot painting

Indigenous aged care preferred

The majority of older Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people prefer to access aged care provided by Aboriginal services, a Neuroscience Research Australia study has found. The study, published in the Australasian Journal on Ageing, investigated Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’s preferences for health and aged care services.

It involved 336 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 60 years or older from both regional and urban areas. Most participants reported a preference for care from an Aboriginal community-controlled service (59%) but 10% prefer a mainstream service and almost a third indicate they are comfortable receiving either (31%).

NeuRA Aboriginal Health and Ageing Group lead Dr Kylie Radford said the research highlighted a lack of cultural safety for older Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in mainstream aged care, “There is a strong preference for accessing services and receiving services through Aboriginal community-controlled health organisations and a lot of people say that they would only receive services through that means. One of the upshots of that is where those services aren’t available or accessible, people may not be receiving any services because mainstream services are not seen as appropriate or culturally safe.”

The study identified racism as the main reason Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people preferred to receive care from Aboriginal services.

To view the full article click here.

elderly Aboriginal man and woman against blurred green foliage

Image source: Australian Ageing Agenda.

New process for job advertising

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

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


dice spelling JOBS resting on keyboard

World Breastfeeding Week

Set every August for the first seven days of the month, World Breastfeeding Week aims to raise awareness of the health and wellbeing outcomes of breastfeeding and the importance of supporting mothers to breastfeed for as long as they wish.

The event is organised every year by the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA), a global network that aims to protect, promote and support breastfeeding around the world. Along the way, it works with the World Health Organization and UNICEF to get its aid to the right people in the right communities.

Traditionally breastfeeding was common practice for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women. The traditional way was to breastfeed for up to four years, sometimes longer, gradually introducing nutritious bush foods. Today the good news is that most Aboriginal women (83%) begin breastfeeding. You can access the booklet Yarning about breastfeeding: Celebrating our stories booklet produced by VACCHO here.

For more information about World Breastfeeding Week 1–7 August 2021 click here.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Ask your mob, your way, R U OK?

feature tile text 'targeted suicide prevention campaign for ATSI communities - Stronger Together - Ask your mob, your way, R U OK?' yellow font, border black & white Aboriginal body paint

Ask your mob, your way, R U OK?

This week R U OK? has launched “I ask my mob, in my way, are you OK?”, to support ‘Stronger Together’ a targeted suicide prevention campaign for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. The suite of resources for “I ask my mob, in my way, are you OK?” includes culturally appropriate content led by community voices with guidance from the R U OK? Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Advisory Group and in collaboration with the Brisbane Indigenous Media Association.

The campaign encourages people to engage and offer support to their family, friends and colleagues who may be struggling with life. The resources feature engaging and authentic stories that promote a sense of connection, hope and identity.

“The Stronger Together campaign reinforces the power of yarning and “I ask my mob, in my way, are you OK?” is about showing the many ways we can ask, listen, encourage, and check in with our mob,” said Stronger Together Campaign Manager, Mr Stephen Satour. “The most important thing for mob to remember is that you don’t have to be an expert, you just have to be yourself and ask, in your own way, so you look after your mob. The resources give us the opportunity to get conversations started with individuals, organisations, and communities across Australia.” The stories show there are so many ways we can, and already do, have R U OK? conversations.”

“Nationally, Indigenous people die from suicide at twice the rate of non-Indigenous people. We know that starting conversations early can stop little problems growing into big ones. We need our mob to ask the question, their way.” says Dr Vanessa Lee-Ah Mat (BTD, MPH, PhD) is the Chair of the R U OK? Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Advisory Group. “When we launched Stronger Together in 2019 it got conversations started. These new stories from our community will help to keep the conversation going,” said Dr Lee. “Together we can empower our friends, family members, and the wider community to look out for each other as well as provide guidance on what to do if someone answers ‘no, I’m not OK’.”

The FREE Stronger Together community resources, including the Stronger Together video (screenshot below), are available on the R U OK? website here.

To view the media release click here, and to listen to a radio interview with Mr Satour click here.

screen shot from Stronger Together vimeo video, rectangular tile made up of portrait shots of 8 Aboriginal people with text 'stronger together' in the cetre

1,000s invited to join vaccine rollout

Thousands of community pharmacies and additional GPs across Australia will be invited to join the COVID-19 vaccine rollout.

This additional workforce will be brought on board to support pharmacies and GPs already delivering COVID-19 vaccines in cities, regional, rural and remote areas, as well as areas with a COVID-19 outbreak. To date, 118 community pharmacies are currently vaccinating across the country and over 470 community pharmacies will be vaccinating by the end of July 2021.

From Monday, over 3,900 community pharmacies who have expressed interest in joining the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, and who have previously been found suitable, will also be invited to participate.

For further information visit the Department of Health website here.

Torres Strait Islander woman receiving covid-19 vaccine with blurred image of inside of a warehouse in the background

Image source: BBC News.

ACCHO model key to PHC reform?

Wider implementation of a model of care exemplified by ACCHOs may be key to reforming primary healthcare in the bush, says a rural health leader. Dr Gabrielle O’Kane, CEO of the National Rural Health Alliance (NRHA), recently outlined a proposal for a Rural Area Community Care Health Organisations (RACCHO) model of care to ensure greater sustainability and accessibility of primary healthcare in rural Australia.

“[It is] picking up on the ideas of ACCHOs, where we want wrap around services for people living rurally,” O’Kane said. This place-based model of care could employ a range of health practitioners – including GPs, nurses, midwives and psychologists – and would have close links with community pharmacies, infant health centres, dentists, multipurpose centres and hospitals, paramedics, and scope for visiting specialists.

O’Kane discussed the proposal in a recent Consumers Health Forum of Australia (CHF) webinar exploring how the draft recommendations from the Primary Health Reform Steering Group may work on the ground. One the Primary Health Care Reform Steering Group recommendations is for “single primary health care destinations”. This has been the way ACCHOs have been doing things for 50 years, NACCHO’s Dr Dawn Casey told the webinar. “The most important feature [of ACCHOs] is that all of the people working in that particular health service will know all of the patients, whether it’s the receptionist at the front, the nurse, or the GP; they know their patients,” she said. GPs, she said, played an important role in ACCHOs, but so did all other practitioners and staff. There is equal recognition given to health practitioners, nurses, along with GPs, so that has been critical,” Casey said.

To view the Croakey Health Media article Primary health reform: some real-world views in full click here.

Orange AMS nurse Jamie Maney in clinic room with OAMS logo polo, name badge & lanyard

Orange Aboriginal Medical Service nurse Jamie Maney. Image source: NIAA website.

Indigenist Health Humanities for QUT

Indigenous academic Professor Chelsea Watego will join QUT on 26 July 2021, leading a $1.7 million project to develop Indigenist Health Humanities. Professor Watego, who joins QUT from The University of Queensland, said the project was aimed at developing Indigenist Health Humanities as a new and innovative field of enquiry, building an intellectual collective.

The funding was announced under the Federal Government’s ARC Discovery Indigenous scheme for 2021. “We are aiming to bridge the knowledge gap that hinders current efforts to close the gap in Indigenous health inequality,” Professor Watego said. “The project will bring together health and the humanities and will examine how race and racism operate within the health system in producing health disparities experienced by Indigenous peoples.”

She said the potential benefits included a more sustainable, relational, and ethical approach to advancing new knowledge, advancing research careers and advancing health outcomes for Indigenous peoples. The work will include opportunities for artists, academics, and activists to join and to take part in podcasts, writing retreats and public seminars.

To view the full article click here.

Professor Chelsea Watego, QUT, in horizontal striped dress grey navy green with arms folded leaning against wood sculpture wall

Professor Chelsea Watego, QUT. Image source: QUT website.

Inspiring rural Aboriginal health careers

It has been said that a picture is worth a thousand words, which is why the RACGP has decided to run a photo competition to showcase the experiences of members working in rural or remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health. Launched as part of ‘This Rural Life’, a new collaborative project of the college’s Rural and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health faculties, it aims to inspire others to pursue a career in rural general practice by showcasing the diverse work and skills being carried out in communities across Australia.

‘We know that our rural doctors and those working in Indigenous communities have some of the highest levels of professional satisfaction and personal satisfaction in their roles,’ Dr Michael Clements, Chair of RACGP Rural, told newsGP. ‘So we’re hoping that through using the photo competition and using these stories, we can really connect with and engage with the membership to think about taking on some of this work.’

To view this full article click here.

woman holding a camera to her face against dry outback blurred background

Image source: newsGP.

Pandemic’s health workforce impact

Right across Australia the health and medical workforce is stretched thin and fatigued by COVID-19 outbreaks, lockdowns, border restrictions and the vaccine rollout program. Workforce shortages are particularly severe in remote, rural and regional communities, and have highlighted Australia’s longstanding reliance on overseas-trained health professionals.

In WA, the remote communities in the Kimberley rely heavily on a fly-in fly-out workforce of remote area nurses who spend six weeks living and working in Aboriginal communities, then rotate for two weeks’ isolation leave and a week of annual leave. But since COVID-19 arrived in Australia 18 months ago, the nurses – and other health professionals like doctors and Aboriginal Health Workers – have been harder to recruit and retain.

The annual turnover rate of healthcare staff in the five remote communities serviced by Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Services (KAMS) is now 87%, more than double the rate of 35% a year ago. Julia McIntyre, KAMS Executive Manager Workforce, said staff have simply got “isolation fatigue” from having to quarantine for 14 days almost every time they entered WA.

Nurses account for 65% of KAMS workforce in the remote communities of Balgo, Beagle Bay, Bidyadanga, Billiluna and Mulan. Overall, the service employs 290 people and has a footprint across 421,000 square kilometres. Up to 70 staff work in the remote communities. Compounding domestic recruitment problems is the inability to use overseas staff, who make up a significant percentage of KAMS’ workforce. The impact of the staff shortage has resulted in reduced clinic hours, the use of more telehealth, redirection of clinical staff away from working on programs such as smoking cessation, and calls to recruitment agencies in Perth and the NT.

“But we can’t let it affect the vaccine rollout, that’s absolutely our priority,” McIntyre said. “We have a separate strategy for that, a dedicated FiFo team and the Royal Flying Doctor Service is now working with us to do Pfizer [vaccine] drops.”

To view this article in full click here.

rremote area nurse administering a COVID-19 vaccine to a Balgo Aboriginal Elder WA, sitting at a table outside a building

A remote area nurse administers a COVID-19 vaccine to a Balgo community member in WA. Photo supplied by KAMS. Image source: Croakey Health Media.

Health treatment satisfaction gap

Indigenous Australians using the NSW public hospital system reported less satisfaction with their treatment than their non-Indigenous peers, according to new data. The Bureau of Health Information (BHI) has released new data on 8,000 Indigenous people who were admitted to a NSW hospital between 2014 and 2019, as well as almost 300 women who gave birth in one of the state’s hospitals in 2019.

It found ratings of care provided by Aboriginal admitted patients improved from 2014 to 2019 in several areas, most notably in rural NSW hospitals. But a gulf between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians still exists. More than seven in 10 Aboriginal patients said health professionals always explained things in an understandable way, but that figure was eight in 10 for non-Aboriginal patients. “Aboriginal patients admitted to hospital were significantly less likely to provide positive ratings of communication, information provision and being treated with respect and dignity,” BHI chief executive Diane Watson said in a statement.

In maternity care, 77% of surveyed Indigenous women said they always had confidence in the health professionals who cared for them during childbirth. However confidence rates sat at 85% among non-Indigenous women. More than a quarter of surveyed Indigenous women also said their decision on how to feed their baby was not always respected. Dr Watson said the data should be used to drive improvements in Indigenous health, highlighting the importance of Aboriginal Health Workers in supporting and communicating with patients.

To view the full article click here.

older Aboriginal man in hospital bed with young Aboriginal girl looking at machines & young Aboriginal boy sitting on his bed

Image source: The Conversation.

TGA website refresh – have your say

The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) are responsible for regulating the supply, import, export, manufacturing and advertising of therapeutic goods, including medicines.  This ensures all Australians have access to safe and high-quality health products.  For example, TGA have an important role in the oversight of medicines shortages, side effects and product recalls.

TGA are currently in the discovery phase of their Website Redevelopment Project. They are looking to capture a clear understanding of the sector’s needs, including functionality, design, and integration of dependent services. This research is an informal exploration of how TGA can provide a better experience or service for you and your colleagues.  The findings and recommendations will help inform the website TGA will launch by 30 June 2022, as well as the continuous improvements they make next financial year and beyond.

How can you get involved? – over the next two weeks (19-31 July), TGA will be running 1 hour informal discussions via video conference to understand:

  • How you currently interact with the TGA website and any issues or barriers you encounter
  • A ‘hand’s on’ exploration of the current TGA website to identify pain points and future needs, and
  • Opportunities to provide an enhanced experience.

If you would be interested in getting involved to share your views and ideas for improvement of the TGA website, please get in touch here. The other option is  to register for our External Collaboration Forum session to be held on Thursday 5 August 2021 from 10am to 1pm via video conference. To register for this session click here.

TGA.gov.au logo & vector image of TGA building

New process for job advertising

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

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

Proud in culture, strong in spirit webinar

You are invited to the ‘Proud in culture, strong in spirit: celebrating National Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Children’s Day’ webinar on Tuesday 10 August 2021, 1:00pm–2:00pm (Sydney AEST).

The webinar will be moderated by Professor Bruce Neal, Executive Director of The George Institute and include presenters Dr Janine Mohamed, CEO of the Lowitja Institute, and Dr Julieann Coombes, Research Fellow in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Program at The George Institute.

Dr Mohamed will outline the importance of services in providing cultural connection, and the key role of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workforce in the safety and wellbeing of children and families. Dr Coombes will share her work, ‘Safe Pathways’- a quality improvement and partnership approach to discharge planning for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children following burn injury.

A facilitated conversation will follow the presentations. You can register for the webinar here.

purple banner text '#georgetalks - Pro9ud in culture, strong in spirit: Celebrating National ATSI Children's Day with Dr Janine Mohmed CEO Lowitja Institute & Dr Julie3ann Coombes, Research Fellow, ATSI Health Program, The George Institute for Health'

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: benefits of using knowledge translation

Place of Knowledge, 2014 by Chris Thorne -Aboriginal dot art, yellow dot background, outline of 4 pairs of dark grey hands with red bordered by white wavy line from the centre of each hand to circle in the centre

Benefits of using knowledge translation

Knowledge translation has been at the heart of the Lowitja Institute’s work since its inception, due to the transformative potential for research, practice, policy and community wellbeing. The Lowitja Institute’s way of doing knowledge translation means community members and end users drive the research agenda, ensuring it is research that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people want and need.

“We have always been researchers,” says Dr Mark Wenitong, one of the first Aboriginal people trained in western medicine in Australia and an experienced researcher and policy adviser. “Our knowledge bank is based on research over a very, very long period of time; it’s experiential research that has meaning for the cultural, social and emotional wellbeing of our communities.” It is this sustained and effective use of research over millennia that compels Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander researchers today as leading practitioners of knowledge translation and research for impact.

In this role Indigenous researchers are also frequently compelled to redress the overwhelmingly negative experiences Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have had with their knowledges often being ignored, dismissed or diminished by western science researchers and rigid research methodologies and funding processes. “Much of today’s health research is still done on, rather than by or with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander individuals and communities, without valuing local cultural protocols and ways of knowing, being and doing,” says Dr Janine Mohamed, CEO of the Lowitja Institute and a Narrunga Kaurna woman from SA. “Since day one of British colonisation, systems in society had been created which privilege non-Indigenous peoples and lock out Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, including from research and the benefits of research.

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

10 Aboriginal men sitting on rocks around campfire on banks of river

Image source: newsGP. Feature tile image: Place of Knowledge, 2014 by Chris Thorne (acrylic on canvas) community / language group – unknown. Image: Chris Thorne. Image source: The University of Melbourne website.

Rush to vaccinate Mob in outbreak areas

Aboriginal health services are securing more supplies of Pfizer and are now racing to inoculate as many vulnerable people as possible. You can view the report by ABC News Indigenous Communities Reporter Nakari Thorpe here.

In a related story on the ABC Radio Sydney, PM with Linda Mottram Aboriginal health services in Sydney’s COVID-19 outbreak zones are beginning a vaccine blitz in their communities with hopes to immunise hundreds in just a few weeks. It’s hoped it will bring much needed protection for the thousands of vulnerable Indigenous residents locked down in the city’s COVID-19 hotspots. You can listen to the broadcast here.

Spotlight shines on SEWB

Decolonising psychology, social and emotional wellbeing and best practice in suicide prevention for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people were key issues discussed on Croakey Health Media’s communication platforms during NAIDOC Week 2021 – Health Country. Calls were made to put the spotlight on social and emotional wellbeing (SEWB), holistic health, and the role of connection to Country and land for individual, community and global wellbeing.

You can view a selection of the issues discussed here. including reference to the role of the Centre of Best Practice in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention (CBPATSISP) in promoting and disseminating best practice programs and services, such as the Love and Hope video below, to stakeholders.

Lockdown health impacts vs virus

New research shows the loss of access to healthcare during lockdown is not worse than exposure to the virus itself.  James Cook University and University of Queensland researcher Dr Lea Merone was part of an international team of doctors who examined the impacts of lockdowns on mortality, routine health services, global health programs, and suicide and mental health.  She said they were trying to determine whether government interventions or the lethality and infectiousness of COVID-19 are to blame for negative health consequences.  “We found that although lockdowns are undoubtedly associated with health harms, their impact on health is unlikely to be worse than the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic itself,” said Dr Merone.

To view the media release click here.

young man on stretched out on window sill looking out picture window to city, transparent virus vector images on the outside of the window

Image source: The University of Manchester.

Mental health workforce web resource

The Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet‘s existing social and emotional wellbeing (SEWB) portal has been expanded to encompass information that is based on the holistic meaning of social and emotional wellbeing for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. This new content is based on substantial evidence around models of SEWB which will provide a strengthened coverage of updated resources for both policy makers and health practitioners.

New subtopics on the already comprehensive portal will include Staying strong; Country, culture and spirituality and Family, kinship and community. Each of these subtopics will provide high quality information for the health sector workforce about relevant publications, resources and programs. The existing subtopics have been changed to fit within these models. The free to access portal will continue to be regularly updated.

HealthInfoNet Director, Professor Neil Drew says of the expanded portal “The importance of social and emotional wellbeing to the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people should not be underestimated. It includes the social, emotional, spiritual and cultural wellbeing and connection to country, family and community which all impact on wellbeing. This new evidenced based information will be of great use to those in the sector and will provide them with an expanded suite of resources to support them in their work”.

To view the media release about HealthInfoNet‘s expanded SEWB portal click here. and to access the portal click here.

banner text 'Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet - Social and Emotional Wellbeing' black line drawing of goanna & Aboriginal dot painting aqua, blue, green, yellow

Data key to suicide prevention

Data released today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) reinforces the value of data collection to help save lives. Despite a rise in demand for helplines and mental health services, the AIHW’s National Suicide and Self-Harm Monitoring System shows the numbers of suspected deaths by suicide in 2020 were similar to those in previous years. Suicide Prevention Australia, CEO, Nieves Murray said, “Monitoring the number, trends and rates of suicide in Australia is key to understanding who is at risk and for the planning and targeting of suicide prevention activities. Every life lost to suicide is heartbreaking. It’s important to remember that every statistic represents a life lost and a cascade of grief amongst family, friends, schools, workplaces and community groups.”

To view the media release click here.

banner text 'suicide & self-harm monitoring data now available - statistics on death by suicide, intentional self-harm and suicidal behaviour among Australian AIHW' purple aqua, image of hands cupping other hands

In a related story suicide prevention grant deliver territory success stories. Health Minister Natasha Fyles said the NT Labor Government’s Suicide Prevention Grants have helped local organisations make a genuine difference to the lives of Territorians. One success story from last year was FORWAARD Aboriginal Corporation’s Lyrics for Life project, which was rolled out with the support of 30 Territorians. FORWAARD used their Suicide Prevention Grant to produce two songs touching on themes including how to reach out for help and overcome the stigma associated with mental health. This enabled FORWAARD’s clients to pass on the message to their community in a simple way understood by all ages.

To view the media release click here.logo for 'FORWAARD AC Foundation of Rehabilitaition with Aboriginal Alcohol Related Difficulties - "Keep the circle strong" under Aboriginal art of fishh over red, yellow, black concentric circles

Girls forced to give birth alone

When she was a teenager, Vicki O’Donnell was sent thousands of kms away from her hometown in remote WA to give birth – alone. She spent weeks waiting in Perth for her little girl to arrive, and when she did, Ms O’Donnell had to quickly return to Derby to look after the other child she’d to leave behind. For three months she was unable to see her newborn and received updates about her condition through letter and through telegram. “I was 18 years of age,” Ms O’Donnell said. “That was 40 years ago. When you think about it, not a lot has changed.”

A Nyikina Mangala woman, Ms O’Donnell is now the CEO of the Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Service (KAMS) in Broome. It’s a service that regularly helps pregnant mothers from remote communities come into WA regional centres to give birth and if necessary, works to connect them with travel to Perth if they have complications beyond the resources of local healthcare providers.

This means using the Patient Assisted Travel Scheme (PATS). A State Government-funded model, PATS provides a subsidy towards the cost of travel and accommodation for regional patients, and an approved escort. While the model has undoubtedly provided valuable access to healthcare for regional West Australians, health authorities and medical services have long highlighted problems with the PATS model and how it works for pregnant women in remote communities in the North West. Many midwives say the experience of women coming into town or Perth to give birth stands completely at odds with how Indigenous women in community often choose to give birth.

To view the full article click here.

KAMS CEO Vicki O'Donnell in front of KAMS building

Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Service CEO Vicki O’Donnell. Photo: Andrew Seabourne. Image source: ABC News.

New process for job advertising

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

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

International Self-Care Day

International Self-Care Day (ISD) has been running since 2011 and is held on 24 July each year, to provide a focus and opportunity to raise the profile of healthy lifestyle self-care programs around the world. Self-care is a lifelong habit and culture. It is the practice of individuals looking after their own health based on the knowledge and information available to them. It is a decision-making process that empowers individuals to look after their own health efficiently and conveniently, in collaboration with health and social care professionals as needed.

A recently released report by the Mitchell Institute, Self-care and health: by all, for all, Learning from COVID-19, highlights the effectiveness of self-care in improving health and wellbeing for individuals and communities, and how it can help limit the devastating impact of infectious diseases. Professor of Health Policy, Rosemary Calder explains, “COVID-19 has shown us that engaging people in understanding how to prevent infection and illness, and how to be as healthy as possible, can reduce preventable health problems. We have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to apply this lesson to develop our health system to help people to be healthier, rather than waiting for them to be unwell with health problems that are preventable – which is what happens now.”

For more information on the Mitchell Institute report click here. and to view a short video about International Self-Care Day click here.

woman with long dark hair eyes closed head tilted back to sky, green tree foliage in the background, text 'self-care day - Saturday, July 24, 2021'

Image source: selfcare.ca,

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Reform to butt out smoking rates

Feature tile - Tue.20.7.21 - Reform to butt out high Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander smoking rates

Reform to butt out smoking rates

A recent report from a health committee formed to advise the government on tobacco control shows Territorians are more likely to smoke than people anywhere else in Australia, and that half of Aboriginal adults in the NT are daily smokers. Research shows the smoking rate for people in remote and regional areas has not changed, although nationally fewer Aboriginal people are smoking.

“There needs to be more investment if we are serious and fair dinkum about reducing the number of Indigenous Australians who are smoking”
Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance NT Chief Executive John Paterson

The Australian Medical Association (AMA) NT Branch President Robert Parker urged the Chief Minister and his colleagues to introduce new laws which would help people in the NT quit smoking. While his letter did not flag any specific legislative reforms, Dr Parker told the ABC he wanted stronger surveillance on the sale and supply of tobacco, especially in remote areas.

You can read the full story by ABC News here.

Half of Aboriginal adults in the Northern Territory. are daily smokers. Photograph: Dave Hunt/AAP.

Half of Aboriginal adults in the NT are daily smokers. Photograph: Dave Hunt/AAP. Feature tile image credit: Raul Lieberwirth (Flickr).

 

Delivering 50,000 remote COVID jabs

The Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS) has vaccinated more than 5,000 people against COVID-19 in remote communities across Australia.

“We’re expecting on the back of the plans we’ve worked up to be delivering some 50,000 vaccines to some 500 vaccine clinics between now and the end of the year,” said RFDS Federation Executive Director Frank Quinlan.

The RFDS has been brought in to help federal, state, and territory health services and ACCHOs rollout the vaccine.

“The remoteness of some communities has been both their protection but also their risk because we know that those communities are often protected by distance but at the same time they experience poorer health by distance, and we know if COVID was to get into communities the impact would be devastating,” Mr Quinlan said.

In some areas, the RFDS are just delivering vaccine doses to medical centres. In others, they’re also deploying support staff to help local health workers. Elsewhere, they’re supplying the vaccines and all the health care staff required to administer the jabs.

Read the full story in The Sydney Morning Herald here.

A Royal Flying Doctor Service of Australia plane on the job in 2019. Image credit: Royal Flying Doctor Service of Australia.

A Royal Flying Doctor Service of Australia plane on the job in 2019. Image credit: Royal Flying Doctor Service of Australia.

 

More patients eligible for PBS

The Closing the Gap (CTG) Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) Co-payment program has expanded. From 1 July 2021, there is a new national registration database and more patients are eligible. To support providers register patients they have included three new exciting education resources on the Health Professional Education Resources Gateway:

eLearning module – the customised e-Learning module provides a clear overview of the CTG PBS Co-payment program, including patient access and prescriber eligibility. It also explains CTG PBS prescription requirements and the PBS Safety Net.

How to register a patient for CTG – the simulation demonstrates how to register a patient for CTG PBS Co-payment. It is easy to register patients using the new national registration database. You can access it through Health Professional Online Services (HPOS). To use HPOS, you need a Provider Digital Access (PRODA) account.

How to create a PRODA account – if you do not have a PRODA account, you can check out the new simulation on how to create a PRODA account.

You can read more about CTG PBS Co-payment program on the Australian Government Services Australia website.

Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme medicines

Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme medicines. Image credit:. healthstaffrecruitment.com.au.

 

National Anti-Racism Framework

The Australian Human Rights Commission has launched a plan to develop a National Anti-Racism Framework. The Commission is working with all levels of Government, peak bodies, human rights agencies and community organisations to progress the Framework. A Commission Concept Paper available on their website provides an initial overview of the Framework’s key principles, outcomes and strategies.

The Commission is in the early stages of scoping this proposal and is undertaking a series of targeted consultations and roundtables to identify stakeholders’ priorities and build a strong foundation for the Framework.

For more information and if your organisation is interested in participating in this process, please visit the Australian Human Rights Commission website.

Anti-racism image

Anti-racism. Image Credit: http://www.australiansagainstracism.org.

 

Meningococcal B Vaccination Program continues

The Marshall Liberal Government’s world-leading Meningococcal B Immunisation Program will continue indefinitely after proving it’s been incredibly effective at preventing the illness in high-risk age groups.

“This landmark vaccination program is saving lives and protecting lives.”

The landmark immunisation program was initially a three-year commitment, but the recent State Budget committed $3 million in 2021–22 and $5.3 million ongoing from 2022–23 to embed the program indefinitely for SA babies and young people. That’s on top of the $30.7 million allocated in the first three years of the program.

It comes as a joint Women’s and Children’s Hospital and University of Adelaide study found the program has been key in a 60% reduction in cases among infants and a 73% drop in cases for adolescents.

Minister for Health and Wellbeing Stephen Wade said given the program’s success, it will now be ongoing.

Read the media release by Steven Marshall Premier of SA here.

Meningococcal B Vaccination campaign image. Credit: healht.gov.au.

Meningococcal B Vaccination campaign image. Credit: healht.gov.au.

 

New dashboard on Closing the Gap

The Australian Government Productivity Commission have been populating a new dashboard on Closing the Gap. From this Dashboard, you can access available data on the targets agreed as part of the National Agreement on Closing the Gap.

Baseline data are available for the targets under the 17 socioeconomic outcome areas and more recent data are available for seven of these targets. Data are not yet available for the targets under the four Priority Reforms.

You can read more about how to access and interpret the data on the Australian Government Productivity Commission’s website.

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.

 

Know Your Country campaign

We love our country but how well do we really know it? Closing the knowledge gap about First Nations people and cultures start at school.

The Know Your Country campaign asks principals, teachers, organisations and individuals to sign the petition to employ First Nations Cultural Educators in every primary school.

  • Give every kid a better education about local First Nations people and culture.
  • Ally with local First Nations communities and their right to share the wisdom of their own culture in school.
  • Back all parliaments to commit proper funding before their next elections.

Know Your Country is an open source, coalition advocacy campaign calling for locally approved First Nations Cultural Educators in every primary school across the continent.

The campaign policy was written and convened after 12 months of extensive consultation by Wiradjuri Man and World Vision Senior Policy Advisor Dr Scott Winch but it is being led by a First Nations Advisory Panel which includes Professor Tom Calma. The campaign is supported by a growing list of ally organisations.

Visit their website to sign the petition and download a range of great educational resources.

Know Your Country campaign logo.

 

New process for job advertising

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

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


dice spelling JOBS resting on keyboard

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Decreased access exacerbates chronic illness

feature tile text 'First Nations Peoples' chronic illness over-representation exacerbated by decreased healthcare access' photo of Aboriginal man's hands in lap

Decreased access exacerbates chronic illness

Residents in Sydney, the NSW Central Coast, Blue Mountains and Wollongong will spend at least two more weeks in lockdown as authorities grapple with high COVID-19 case numbers. The growing cluster now centred in Sydney’s south west raises major health and wellbeing concerns for people living in larger households, with chronic health issues and more precarious jobs and incomes, and the urgent need for tailored communications and supports that are led by community.

The extension of the Greater Sydney lockdown to contain the latest outbreak of COVID-19 is expected to put added strain on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities with implications for management of chronic health conditions, social isolation, and mental health, say community experts. A key concern for Professor Aunty Kerrie Doyle, Associate Dean, Indigenous Health, Western Sydney University, is the interruption of the care of chronic conditions for south-west Sydney’s 6,000-strong Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population. “This halt in day-to-day health business will have huge impacts down the road,” said Doyle, a Winninninni woman.

While she said phone consultations were valuable, there were limitations to this care. “You are less likely to go and do things that you need to do; like, do you need to have your blood taken for your diabetes? How’s your podiatry going?”, she said.  Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people suffer disproportionately from lockdowns.

Dr Paul Saunders, a Biripi man, medical doctor and Research Fellow in Translational Health Research at Western Sydney University, said reduced access to care in a lockdown was an issue for the whole community, but its impact would be felt more acutely among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. “Indigenous people have an over-representation of chronic illnesses, these are just exacerbated by this decreased access to health care,” he said.

To view the full article click here.

3 Aboriginal women sitting outside of Tharawal Clinic, all wearing different Aboriginal dot art shirts

Tharawal health clinic supporting community. Image source: Croakey Health Media.

Strengthening mental health workforce

New research by Charles Darwin University (CDU) scholars suggests a strengthened Indigenous mental health workforce could effectively improve mental health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. The report, written by Professor Dominic Upton, Associate Professor Linda Ford, Professor Ruth Wallace, Sarah Jackson, Jenna Richard from CDU and Dr Penney Upton from the University of Canberra, has found  that an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander led mental health workforce would promote self-determination and increase the reach of mental health services by providing culturally competent services. Mental health services delivered by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander professionals are considered more culturally safe and trustworthy.

For more information about the research click here and to view the Charles Darwin University media statement in full click here.

wall painted with Aboriginal flag layout with centre a yellow brain, shadow of bars across painted brick wall

Image source: VICE.

Challenges facing Aboriginal adolescents

In Australia, an understanding of Aboriginal adolescence is urgently needed to ensure equitable treatment. Not only must young Aboriginal people adjust to their changing bodies and minds, but they must also negotiate these changes in conflicting environments often characterised by racism and poverty.

A new book Indigenous Australian Youth Futures – Living the Social Determinants of Health edited by University of Newcastle medical anthropologist, Associate Professor Kate Senior, aims to provide better contextualisation around Aboriginal youth and the challenges they face in modern Australia.

The new publication aims to provide a greater understanding of the day-to-day lives of Aboriginal adolescents, and some of the adults who care for or neglect them. It seeks to provide better understanding of the circumstances, processes and factors that affect adolescent health, wellbeing and future prospects in their intercultural environments.

For a more detailed description of the book click here.cover of book text 'Indigenous Australian Youth Futures - living the social determinants of health - edited by Kate Senior, Richard Chenhall and Victoria Burbank' sepia photo of two young Aboriginal children in long grass, one attempting a hand stand

NDIS latest news

The July 2021 edition of the NDIS Latest news includes:

  • Home & Living and Support for Decision Making Consultations – have your say
  • Coronavirus information
  • Would We Fund It update
  • 2021–22 pricing update
  • Participant spotlight

To view the NDIS Latest news July 2021 edition click here.tile text 'ndis Latest news' along footer white text, purple background, phot of man in wheelchair on path with young boy holding man's hand and woman with young girl walking on the other side of the wheelchair

IAHP Yarnes evaluation update

An update of the Indigenous Australian’s Health Programme (IAHP) Yarnes Evaluation has been released. The update provides an overview of the progress made on the evaluation during the first half of 2021, including 17 sites (with 23 ACCHOs and 13 Primary Health Networks) formalising their participation as site partners in the evaluation and ethics approval allowing fieldwork to being in all 17 sites.

You can view the evaluation update here and access the evaluation website here.banner text 'IAHP Yarnes IAHP Yarning Action Reflection National Evaluation Systems' 5 Aboriginal art circles overlapping, blue, green, brown, taupe, white

NT GP training enrolments plummet

The difficulties of retaining medical practitioners in the NT have been laid bare, with a study showing a 50% fall in the number of junior doctors deciding to become GPs. The NT leads a national trend of declining enrolments in GP training, according to the Menzies School of Health Research. “This is a complex problem and there is no easy solution,” researcher Deb Russell said in a statement earlier this week.

Historically, the NT has struggled to attract and retain GPs, especially in remote areas. It relies heavily on locally training junior doctors to become GPs, however, between 2016 and 2020 new enrolments fell by 50%. The decline is far larger than the national average of 12%.

Dr Russell said graduating medical students and junior doctors need to be attracted to GP training as soon as they graduate. “Many are still making up their minds about their career path at this time,” she said. Training opportunities in remote areas should be offered, along with cultural awareness education and support to overcome the barriers to rural work. Also, intern and other hospital training positions should also be awarded to junior doctors who express an interest in rural general practice, Aboriginal health, remote medicine, and staying in the NT long term.

You can view The West Australian article in full here and a related ABC News article here.

Dr Melanie Matthews a GP at Mala'la Indigenous health service Maningrida sitting at her clinic desk with stethoscope around her neck

Dr Melaine Matthews, Mala’la Indigenous health service, Maningrida, NT. Image source: ABC News.

New Graduate Certificate available

A new Graduate Certificate in Health Service Management (Safety and Quality) is now available through the University of Tasmania.

This new course follows a collaboration between the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care with the University of Tasmania to introduce training on healthcare safety and quality, particularly the National Safety and Quality Health Service (NSQHS) Standards. The course is part-time and is delivered fully online, with optional half-day masterclasses.

The Graduate Certificate in Health Service Management (Safety and Quality) is open for enrolment now, and for a limited time the University is providing a 100% HECS fee waiver. This is a fantastic opportunity for managers and clinicians across Australia to boost their skills and knowledge and get a qualification in this important area.

Course participants will get an in-depth understanding of how to apply NSQHS Standards and the National Model Clinical Governance Framework to improve the safety and quality of care in their health service. You can access a more detailed overview of the course here.

If you are interested in this course and have any queries, please contact the course coordinator, Professor Melanie Lauva here.

banner image of torso of woman holding stethoscope towards camera, overlaid with medical vector images e.g. medical chart, thermometer, ambulance contained within hexagons, blue white

Image source: Future Health Skills website.

New process for job advertising

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: We need to work together across the community on vaccine rollout: ACOSS

We need to work together across the community on vaccine rollout: ACOSS

ACOSS welcomes the support of business groups on the vaccine roll out and is looking forward to engaging with the vaccine taskforce on the community sector’s crucial role, along with other key stakeholders, such as the union movement.

Australian Council of Social Service CEO Dr Cassandra Goldie said: “Government needs to go beyond working with the business community on the vaccine roll out and there is support from the community sector, unions and business leaders to all work together. Community services are on the ground helping people to understand how they can access vaccines. We need to see community sector leaders also empowered and resourced to communicate clear messages to the people their services support, especially people facing poverty and disadvantage.

“Communities across the country need to be hearing about the vaccination roll-out from local leaders who they trust, for example, from First Nations leaders and culturally diverse leaders,” Dr Goldie said.

CEO of the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation, Pat Turner, said: “When First Nations leaders get vaccinated it really helps to encourage the rest of the community and I’ve seen great examples of that. First Nations leaders are absolutely vital to the success of our vaccine roll out, with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people more susceptible to the virus. First Nations health leaders have done an exceptional job keeping our people safe from the virus, particularly in remote areas, and their experience and relationships are also crucial on the vaccine front.”

To read the full media release by ACOSS click here.

AIHA partners with Northern Rivers ACCHOs

A new Indigenous Allied Health Australia Ltd (IAHA) National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Academy in Lismore is aiming to support education and increase career opportunities in the health and social assistance sectors, thanks to a new partnership between IAHA, the Northern NSW Local Health District (NNSWLHD) and local Aboriginal Medical Services.

IAHA National Academy will give Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students in Year 11 and 12 in the Northern Rivers region the opportunity to complete a school based traineeship undertaking a nationally recognised Certificate III in Allied Health Assistance (HLT33015) qualification through TAFE NSW.

The partnership will build on existing relationships and also strengthen local health workforce development strategies, including paid employment for school-based trainees, mentoring, leadership development and career planning. Pathway options for students range from gaining employment in the health field, to continuing study with partner organisations, including Bulgarr Ngaru Medical Aboriginal Corporation, Rekindling the Spirit Aboriginal Medical Service, Bullinah Aboriginal Medical Service, Northern NSW Local Health District, TAFE NSW and Southern Cross University.

Donna Murray, IAHA Chief Executive Officer, said: “The IAHA national academy program has been developed with community and is Aboriginal-led, providing a culturally safe and responsive holistic approach to education, training and employment at the local level. To date, many of the graduates are first in family to complete year 12, and graduates have transitioned successfully into further education, and employment across the health and related sectors.”

Kirsty Glanville, NNSWLHD Associate Director Aboriginal Health said the Academy in Northern Rivers is unique to others around the country, being the first to have direct engagement with the Aboriginal Community Controlled sector. “This partnership highlights the very important role Aboriginal Medical Services provide in our communities in improving the health outcomes for Aboriginal communities and empowering people to take an active role in their health journey,” Ms Glanville said.

To view the full AIHA article click here.Indigenous Allied Health Australian IAHA logo

A related news article describes the near doubly of the proportion of Western Sydney Local Health District (WSLHD) staff who identify as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander in the past two years as the district takes steps to remove historical barriers and create new opportunities. WSLHD is currently working on a partnership with IAHA in providing Year 11 and Year 12 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students the opportunity to complete a nationally recognised Certificate III in Allied Health Assistance qualification through TAFE NSW.

To view the full article in The Pulse click here.

Cleaners Codie Fuller, porter Darrin Smith and cleaner Jade Hookey - general services team at Westmead Hospital i

Cleaners Codie Fuller, porter Darrin Smith and cleaner Jade Hookey were among 15 new Aboriginal staff to join the general services team at Westmead Hospital in March this year. Image source: The PULSE.

Mainstream health model ignores connection to Country

Associate Professor Luke Burchill from the University of Melbourne has written an article called Healing Country in which he says the theme for NAIDOC 2021: Health Country! comes at an important time when Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are calling for greater protection of their lands, waters and sacred sites, “In the past year alone, we have observed repeated failures to protect sites that are sacred to our communities; the destruction of 46,000-year-old caves at Juukan Gorge in WA, the removal of the Kuyan ancient eel rock formation at Lake Bolac and the felling of sacred Djab Wurrung trees in Western Victoria.”

“This devastation is not only physical. For Aboriginal people, the impact is emotional, cultural and spiritual – directly affecting mental health, family and community wellbeing. Country is the place from which we come and to which we will return. Country sustains us culturally, physically, linguistically, spiritually and emotionally. As custodians of the land, it is our duty to protect Country. With climate change our Country is hurting and so are we.”

Having worked in Australia’s mainstream health care system, Professor Burchill said he can say that connection to Country is not included when assessing someone’s health and wellbeing. The mainstream model is one of risk factors, lifestyle choices and genetic factors that underpin a condition or health outcome. The problem here is that when drawn entirely from a Western perspective this point of view fails to capture Indigenous dimensions of wellbeing including the importance of connectedness to family, community and Country for social, emotional and spiritual wellbeing. For these connections to be strong, we need to live our lives free of racism.

To read Professor Burchill’s article in full click here.

The Juukan Gorge rock shelters in WA. Picture: AAP/Supplied by PKKP and PKKP Aboriginal Corporation.

Yarning Up After Stroke wins funding

A program designed to empower Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living with stroke to take control of their stroke recovery has won Federal Government funding of almost $500,000. This program arises from the Yarning Up After Stroke collaborative project co-led by Tamworth Aboriginal communities, Professor Chris Levi and Dr Heidi Janssen of Hunter New England Local Health District (NSW) and University of Newcastle. Dr Janssen was initially given a funding kick start by the Stroke Foundation, and this proof-of-concept work has now secured a significant grant through the Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF).

The funding commitment to Yarning Up After Stroke is timely as NAIDOC Week gets underway. This year’s NAIDOC Week theme is Heal Country! and aims to raise awareness and promote greater understanding of the need to protect the traditional lands, waters, sacred sites and cultural heritage of First Nations communities.

The Yarning up After Stroke team’s approach uses ‘yarning’, which is a culturally respectful, conversational way to learn, listen, share and receive information. In Aboriginal culture Yarning Circles are safe spaces in which everyone can have a say. Stroke Foundation Chief Executive Sharon McGowan said she is immensely pleased to see Yarning Up After Stroke secure the additional funding grant, “Introducing stroke recovery support services which use tools already embraced by Indigenous cultures, offers a more relatable way forward and are therefore likely to be more successful.”

To view the Stroke Foundation’s media release click here.

stroke survivor Bill Toomey in wheelchair with Carol Toomey crouching down behind him with her left arm across his chest

Coral and Bill Toomey, a stroke survivor. Photo: Gareth Gardner. Image source: The Northern Daily Leader.

AMA welcomes COVID-19 national roadmap

The Australian Medical Association (AMA) welcomes the leadership shown by National Cabinet in the release of the national roadmap allowing Australia to open up in a safe and sustainable way. AMA President, Dr Omar Khorshid said it was important that any plan be based on science, and this plan is to be based on modelling of a Delta outbreak on a vaccinated community.

“The AMA has repeatedly called for consistency in responses across the nation – including in our May Communique Prepare Australia before opening up to the world and National Cabinet’s plan will move us towards that goal,” he said. “We need a clear vision, as a community, on how to live in a world where COVID will continue to exist. This plan, with four stages, recognises the important fact that our road out of this crisis is vaccination. Of that there is no doubt.”

To view the AMA’s media release click here.

PM Scott Morrison at lecturn with Roadmap to COVIDSafe Australia on screen in background

Image source: Daily Mail Australia website.

MedicineWise app

NAIDOC Week celebrates the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. NAIDOC is celebrated not only in Indigenous communities, but by Australians from all walks of life. This year’s NAIDOC Week theme is Heal Country! – calling for stronger measures to recognise, protect, and maintain all aspects of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture and heritage.

This week is a great opportunity to participate in a range of activities and to support your local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community.

Did you know? You can receive information specific to the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community members by following these steps in your MedicineWise app:

  1. Tap on your profile.
  2. Go to ‘Personal Details’ module.
  3. Scroll down to switch on the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander toggle(s) most appropriate to you

For further information visit the NPS MedicineWise website here.

Australia’s Chernobyl – Maralinga

For tens of thousands of years, the Aṉangu people lived on the warm, red earth of their country. The land provided them with food, water and shelter as they travelled around an area we now know as outback Far North SA.

But after colonisation, they were moved off their land: forcibly removed, sent into missions across the region and displaced by train lines linking Australia’s east and west that impacted their water supply. In 1984, the SA government handed much of the land back to its traditional owners. But by this point, parts of it were uninhabitable because of British nuclear testing.

The theme of NAIDOC Week 2021 is Heal Country! but much of the Aṉangu lands in and around Maralinga are beyond healing. Glen Wingfield, whose mother Eileen Wani Wingfield co-founded the Coober Pedy Women’s Council to campaign against a government proposal in the 1990s for a nuclear waste dump on their lands, said “A lot of the Aboriginal communities that live in and around that area, they just will not and do not go back near that country. I think that’s a word, healing, that we can’t use in the same sentence with that area.” There are parts of the area that will be uninhabitable for a quarter of a million years.

To view the full article click here.

photo of sign in desert landscape with text 'Former Maralinga Nuclear Test Stie. This land is part of the Maralinga Tjarutja Lands' etc.

Image source: Mamamia website.

BRAMS June newsletter

Broom Regional Aboriginal Medical Service have released the June 2021 edition of their newsletter. This edition includes articles on World No Tobacco Month, the Yawardani Jan-Ga program and the Social and Emotional Wellbeing Men’s and Women’s Groups.

To access the BRAMS Newsletter click here.banner BRAMS NEWSLETTER June 2021

Road accident survivor CTP experience study

A new partnership between Griffith University and the Motor Accident Insurance Commission (MAIC) will examine the experiences of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders injured in road accidents and their interactions with the Compulsory Third Party (CTP) scheme.

The Hopkins Centre’s Dr Leda Barnett, assisted by Griffith University PhD candidate Andrew Gall, will lead the three year study, funded by a $460,000 MAIC grant and supported by partnerships with Griffith’s Indigenous Research Unit (IRU), Synapse and the Institute for Urban Indigenous Health (IUIH).

“Indigenous Australians living in Queensland are up to six times more likely to be involved in a motor vehicle accident than a non-Indigenous citizen, but also 1.4 times more likely to be seriously injured, and 2.9 times more likely to die in an accident,” Dr Barnett said. The research will examine the factors that influence Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to engage with the CTP scheme following a motor vehicle accident, the nature of their experience and ways in which the scheme could better align with their requirements.”

To view the full Griffith News article click here.

4 Aboriginal young adults around outside table, blurred greenery in the background

Griffith researchers will consult with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Queensland to better understand their experiences with the Compulsory Third Party scheme. Image source: Griffith News.

 

New process for job advertising

NACCHO have introduced a new system for the advertising of job adverts via NACCHO’s communication platforms.

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

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Reclaiming the right to give birth on Country

feature tile text 'Yolgnu women are reclaiming their right to give birth on the lands of their ancestors' & image of a newborn Aboriginal baby in a coolamon with mother's hands resting on the baby's chest

Reclaiming the right to give birth on Country

One in five babies born in East Arnhem Land are born premature. The ABC Radio National episode of Science Friction Medicine, listen up! Birthing on country makes the land shake looks at how a Yolngu community has a plan to change that statistic.

For many millennia, Aboriginal women in remote East Arnhem land gave birth on their traditional lands. But for the Elcho island community of Galiwin’ku, that all changed when women were made to travel to the big smoke to give birth, far away from home. Medical professionals said it would be safer for mothers and babies, but now Yolgnu women want to reclaim their birthing rights.

To listen to this episode of ABC Radio National’s Science Friction click here.

Female Elder with white wavy hair & white ceremonial paint on face

Elaine Guyman, Galiwin’ku community, Elcho Island, East Arnhem Land. Photo: Emma Vincent. Image source: ABC News. Feature tile photo taken by Bobbi Lockyer. Image source: ABC News.

You can also listen to another interview about the benefits of Birthing on Country here. In this ABC Radio Conversations with Richard Fidler episode midwife Christian Wright, talks about his work with the Indigenous women of Arnhem Land. screenshot of Conversations with Richard Fidler, ABC Radio, episode The male midwife, Christian Wright standing in bush with Akubra & open short sleeved shirt

Study tracks lives of preterm babies

Long before Cian McCue had any say in it, his mother Camille Damaso enrolled the healthy newborn in Australia’s own 7-Up program. Aidan Hill, 34, was also enrolled. He was born four weeks early. Lennair Hill, 34 and now Aidan’s wife, is also in the program. She was born eight weeks premature, at a very low birth weight, with a heart condition. Ms Hill’s mother Donna Sinclair said the birth was “as traumatic as you can get. I thought I was giving birth to a dead baby”.

The Life Course study was started in 1987 by the late paediatrician Dr Susan Sayers from the Menzies School of Health Research in DarwinShe described it as “Australia’s own 7-Up“. It started with an Aboriginal birth cohort of 686 babies including Aidan and Cian, and later added 196 non-Indigenous participants, including Lennair. Dr Sayers wrote that it would follow “the progress of tiny babies into adults, into sickness and health, for the rest of their lives.” The study is loosely modelled on the 7-up documentary series in England that followed the lives of 14 children from 1964, checking in with them every seven years.

Mr McCue, 33, a father and a video maker, said the project was about more than health checks. “It is about trying to close the gap, and raise that life expectancy of Aboriginal people,” he said. The study is looking for clues to who will get chronic diseases such as diabetes and heart disease, the No.1 killer of Indigenous people.

To view The Sydney Morning Herald article in full click here.

Cian McCue & his mother Camille Damasco standing under a tree with beach in the background

Cian McCue and mum Camille Damaso. Photo: Rhett Wyman. Image source: The Sydney Morning Herald.

Australia’s poor human rights results

The Human Rights Measurement Initiative (HRMI) tracker has again revealed Australia’s poor results when it comes to Indigenous human rights and treatment. Surveying experts and collating data analysis on civil, political, economic and social rights, the HRMI measures a nation’s performance on all human rights covered by international law. It found the majority of experts agreed Indigenous Australians had most of their human rights at risk.

Across the four key rights to education, food, health, and work, Australia averaged a ‘bad’ score of 78.85%. 57% of experts surveyed identified a risk to education, 71% identified a risk to health, and 61% noted the right to housing was also at risk. It was also identified that 71% of experts believe Indigenous people are at risk of having their freedom from arbitrary arrest violated. This lack of safety was particularly present in the freedom from torture for Indigenous people, which three-quarters of experts found to be in danger of not being recognised.

Whilst the poor results were not limited to Indigenous Australians, they were at a significantly higher risk of not having their human rights upheld. “It’s certainly true that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, people with disabilities, people with low socioeconomic status, and refugees and asylum seekers are identified as being at risk of violations of nearly every right that we measure,” HRMI strategy lead Thalia Kehoe Rowden told SBS News.

You can view this National Indigenous Times article in full here and a related article in Croakey Health Media here.

older Aboriginal woman sitting cross-legged with face in hands, makeshift bedding, surrounded by rubbish, black dog looking at camera

One Mile Dam, an Aboriginal community camp close to Darwin, where Indigenous people live in extreme poverty. Photograph: Jonny Weeks. Image source: The Guardian.

Charity status changes – a public health hazard

Leading public and Indigenous health groups have joined environmental, social sector and legal organisations in warning the Federal Government against proceeding with changes to the regulation of charities. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander justice advocates warn the move could silence their advocacy for people in custody, as well as undermining the work of organisations such as the First Peoples Disability Network Australia.

In an open letter to PM Scott Morrison, more than 70 organisations warn that the regulations would impede the work of charities in responding to communities’ needs in times of crisis and disaster. Signatories include the Public Health Association of Australia (PHAA), the Fred Hollows Foundation, Doctors for the Environment Australia, People with Disability Australia, the Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education, the Alliance for Gambling Reform and the Climate Council.

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

top of the white caps with FPDN logo on two children bending down, image of blurred green grass in the background

Image source: First Peoples Disability Network website.

Indigenous health checks and follow-ups

Through Medicare, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people can receive Indigenous-specific health checks from their doctor, as well as referrals for Indigenous-specific follow-up services. In 2019–20, 239,000 Indigenous Australians had one of these health checks (28%). The proportion of Indigenous health check patients who had an Indigenous-specific follow-up service within 12 months of their check increased from 12% to 47% between 2010–11 and 2018–19.

A recent AIHW report presents data on Indigenous health checks for a time period up until the end of June 2020 (i.e. overlapping with the COVID-19 period). It also includes data on telehealth MBS items that were introduced in 2020 as part of the response to COVID-19.

To view the AIHW report click here.

Comedian Sean Choolburra receiving one part of his 715 health check

Comedian Sean Choolburra receiving one part of his 715 health check. Image source: NIAA website.

Access to Aged Care medicines programs expanded

Access to Aged Care medicines programs have been expanded for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in remote areas. From 1 July 2021, Aged Care Facilities funded under the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Flexible Aged Care program (NATSIFAC) are able to receive Quality Use of Medicines (QUM) support from a pharmacist. Access to the Residential Medication Management Review (RMMR) program was extended to these Aged Care Facilities on 1 April 2021.

You can get more information about these program here or contact the pharmacy coordinating supply of medicines to your ACF.

blue multiple pill holder each compartment with 6 different coloured tablets

Image source: iStock.

New process for job advertising

NACCHO have introduced a new system for the advertising of job adverts via NACCHO’s communication platforms.

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

NAIDOC Week 2021 – 4–11 July

NAIDOC Week 2021 will be held from Sunday 4 July to Sunday 11 July.

This year’s theme – Heal Country! – calls for stronger measures to recognise, protect, and maintain all aspects of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture and heritage. Events will be held around Australia during the week to celebrate the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

You can download this year’s poster here and resources here and find out more about NAIDOC Week here.   banner - Aboriginal dot painting art circles, gum leaves blue green brown orange pink white & text 'Health Country! 4–11 JULY 2021 & Celebrating NAIDOC Week logo

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Protect our people who give us knowledge to Heal Country, heal our nation!

feature tile 2.7.21 text 'protect our people who give us the knowledge to Heal Country, heal our nation.' image of NACCHO Chair Donnella Mills in light pink top & gold chair with hand against shoulder where she has had the covid-19 vaccine

Protect our people who give us knowledge to Heal Country, heal our nation!

NACCHO Chair Donnella Mills says NAIDOC Week 2021 calls upon all of us to continue to seek greater protection for our lands, our Elders, our people, and safeguard our culture.

“The health of Country, and the health of First Nation’s people, is firmly bound together. Country is family, kin, law, lore, ceremony, traditions, and language. After 250 years of dispossession and dislocation, traditional connection to Country and knowledge of Country is precarious. So much rests in the hands and minds of our Elders, our living national treasures. Right now, we have to protect the people who give us the knowledge to heal Country.”

“We have shown the world what can be done to keep First Nations peoples safe during a global pandemic. In the USA, the Navajo had the highest death rate of any ethnic population. In Australia, not one Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander person has died from COVID-19. That is because the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health sector and Governments are working together to protect our most vulnerable families and communities. Our sector should be proud. Indeed, the pandemic is not yet defeated, but at least recent gains have positioned us well and we can afford a little time to reflect on what we have achieved.”

“We have a new challenge and that is to urgently vaccinate our people!”

To view the media statement from NACCHO Chair Donnella Mills click here.

You can also watch Donnella talk about the COVID-19 vaccination in the short video below.

Remote NT community almost fully vaccinated

Tarna Andrews was scared of getting the needle. So scared that last month she visited her local clinic, sat down in the waiting room, and left before she could be seen. “I walked out because I had been speaking to some of my family, they were scared,” she said.  “Now I’ve had the needle, I’m safe and happy now.”

Ms Andrews, a Pitjantjatjara teacher in Utju, 200 kms from Alice Springs, is one of many in her community who have had their first dose of the jab despite months of vaccine scepticism. Central Australian Aboriginal Congress (CAAC), who runs the clinic there, said that almost everyone who was eligible in the remote community had been vaccinated, bucking a trend of vaccine scepticism among remote residents in the NT.

Fellow resident and a community worker for Congress, Frank Dixon, said word of mouth had helped reverse the tides of concern he was fielding in his community. “People started talking, gathering families and friends together to talk about it — people felt safe,” he said.

The vaccination rate in Utju is the envy of Congress’s four other remote clinics, especially as Alice Springs heads into lockdown. CAAC CEO Ms Ah Chee said the organisation hoped more people, especially in remote communities where there is a high burden of disease, would want to get the jab as a result of the recent cluster, “This is a timely reminder, we’ve been lucky for the last 18 months and it’s here. It’s not going away,”

To view the full article click here.

Aboriginal woman Tarna Andrews from Utju, sitting outside, red dust, couple of camp dogs, yellow black beanie, black t-shirt, pink t-shirt, red grey hoodie, orange glasses on top of head

Tarna Andres is encouraging family members in other remote communities to get vaccinated. Photo: Samantha Jonscher, ABC Alice Springs. Image source: ABC News website.

COVID-19 and remote communities

NACCHO CEO Pat Turner was on the panel of the ABC television program The Drum last night. Pat Turner spoke on a range of issues saying “Aboriginal communities will continue to suffer and be among the most vulnerable with every new pandemic unless we fix up the living environments and the housing of Aboriginal people. We will not close the gap without addressing these issues.” You can watch this edition of The Drum here.

screenshot of frame from ABC The Drum Pat Turner CEO NACCHO talking

Pat Turner, CEO NACCHO, The Drum 1 July 2021.

Rough sleepers ‘completely neglected’

Aboriginal organisations have expressed frustration at the NT government’s “flawed” pandemic response, demanding it do more to accommodate hundreds of Aboriginal people sleeping rough around town centres they say are at risk of COVID-19. Both Darwin and Alice Springs were in lockdown amid concerns about the significant risk posed to Aboriginal communities.

The CEO of the Danila Dilba Aboriginal Health Service, Olga Havnen said the lack of support for homeless people created a “ridiculous situation”. “The pandemic response plan doesn’t include any provision for housing people who may be homeless or visitors to town,” Havnen said. “Here we are on day four of a lockdown, and they’re only just sorting out the arrangements that might be made available for Aboriginal people, particularly visitors and rough sleepers who might need a COVID-19 test, and who will need to self-isolate.” “Who else in the community gets so studiously ignored under these sorts of circumstances? It’s either gross incompetence, maladministration or straight out racism. Or probably, a combination of all three,” Havnen said.

Danila Dilba, Yilli Aboriginal housing, AMSANT (the Aboriginal medical services of the NT) and NAAJA (the Aboriginal legal service) jointly called on the NT government to “get people off the streets today”. “Rough sleepers are among the most vulnerable people in our community, many of them have not been vaccinated, and the NT government’s pandemic response plan has completely neglected them,” the CEO of AMSANT, John Paterson, said.

To view the full article in The Guardian click here.

4 Aboriginal men with masks walking along Smith Street, Darwin

People wearing masks in Smith Street, Darwin. Image source: The Guardian.

Calls for increased FIFO COVID-19 testing

Mining sites that operate near “vulnerable” remote Aboriginal communities and rely on FIFO workers need to regularly test staff for COVID-19, insist peak health groups.

NACCO CEO Pat Turner said people should be immediately isolated and given a rapid COVID-19 test when they arrived on site and workers should only be allowed to mingle after returning a negative result. “Every mining site that is in reasonable proximity to remote Aboriginal communities or in regional towns where there are lots of Aboriginal people should have mandatory COVID-19 testing for all workers returning to the site,” Ms Turner said. “This should be standard practice.” Ms Turner said workers should be re-tested in a week or two in case they were incubating the virus or became infected by a co-worker while on site.

Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance NT CEO John Paterson agreed. “Mining companies should have permanently employed physicians on-site that check [workers] in when they get in and check them out on the way out,” he said. “It’s critical that we do as much testing as possible especially when it comes to a lot of people doing a lot of travel. To view the full article click here.

Annual health check resources

The Australian Government Department of Health have a collection of resources, including videos, podcasts and print resources about the free annual health check for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. To access the resource collection click here.

cover of brochure text 'patient information your health is in your hands - have you had your 715 health check?' photo of Aboriginal woman holding toddler & health worker in outdoor setting, purple, aqua, black colours, Aboriginal & Torres Strait flags

DoH Your health is in your hands brochure.

Importance of cultural strengths in suicide prevention

Suicide deaths among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people continue to increase and are an unrelenting tragedy for families and communities. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander (Indigenous) people take their own lives at twice the rate of other Australians. Suicide is the second leading cause of death among Indigenous males (vs 10th non-Indigenous) and the seventh leading cause of death for Indigenous females (vs 23rd non-Indigenous).

Suicide rates peak disproportionately young for Indigenous people; the median age for the suicide death of an Indigenous person is 29, while suicide accounts for one-third of all deaths of Indigenous children aged 5 to 17 years, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), and is the largest cause of Indigenous child deaths. Overall, the same ABS figures show the Indigenous suicide rate increased from 21.3 to 24.6 per 100,000 people between the first and second halves of the decade from 2010-2019; by 2019 it had risen to 27.1 per 100,000.

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Evaluation Project (ATSISPEP) has established a connection between suicide and experiences of colonisation, structural racism and continuing social and economic disadvantage.

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

metal wall with large painting of Aboriginal man's face in black, yellow & red colours in pop art style

Image source: Australian Human Rights Commission website.

APY Lands key mental health service faces cuts

Some of Australia’s most vulnerable Aboriginal communities are worried they could be left without permanent on-country mental health staff for young people, despite nearly 1,000 reports of child abuse being made in the region in the past two years. Documents obtained by the ABC under Freedom of Information laws show that 947 allegations of child abuse were recorded by SA’s Department for Child Protection for the area covering the remote Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) Lands between 2018 and 2020.

A report tabled in the SA Parliament covering part of that same period said that “80% of children in the APY Lands have exposure to or continue to experience problem sexual behaviour”. Despite these numbers, elders and SA’s opposition are concerned that a review of the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) APY will reduce services to communities in need.

To view the full article click here.

aerial view of APY Lands community Amata, red dust, approx 60 houses, dirt playing field, mountains in the distance

At the last census in 2016, there were 742 children aged under 19 living on the APY Lands communities like Amata. Photo: Carl Saville, ABC News. Image source: ABC News website.

New process for job advertising

NACCHO have introduced a new system for the advertising of job adverts via NACCHO’s communication platforms.

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

NAIDOC Week 4–11 July 2021

The NAIDOC 2021 theme – Heal Country! – calls for all of us to continue to seek greater protections for our lands, our waters, our sacred sites and our cultural heritage from exploitation, desecration, and destruction. Country that is more than a place and inherent to our identity. Country that we speak about like a person, sustaining our lives in every aspect – spiritually, physically, emotionally, socially, and culturally.

NAIDOC 2021 invites the nation to embrace First Nations’ cultural knowledge and understanding of Country as part of Australia’s national heritage and equally respect the culture and values of Aboriginal peoples and Torres Strait Islanders as they do the cultures and values of all Australians. For generations we have been calling for stronger measures to recognise, protect, and maintain all aspects of our culture and heritage. We are still waiting for those robust protections.

This year’s theme also seeks substantive institutional, structural, and collaborative reform – something generations of our Elders and communities have been advocating, marching and fighting for. Healing Country means finally resolving many of the outstanding injustices which impact on the lives of our people. It is about hearing and actioning the aspirations of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples which are the culmination of generations of consultation and discussions among our nations on a range of issues and grievances.

After 250 years, our children and our future generations deserve better. We cannot afford to let pass the very real opportunity that now presents itself for reform based on a fundamental change in the relationship Australia has with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

NAIDOC Week 2021 will be held from Sunday 4 July to Sunday 11 July 2021. For more information click here.

banner text 'Heal Country! 4–11 JULY 2021' & NAIDOC logo black circle with red yellow green blue Aboriginal dot painting overlaid with white circle & 2 boomerang shapes, one for the arms & one for the legs, text around inner rim of circle 'Celebrating NAIDOC Week'

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Territorians warned against COVID-19 complacency

feature tile text 'Territorians warned against COVID-19 complacency' Granites Tanamai gold mine site with vector images of covid-19 virus

Territorians warned against complacency

NT medical authorities are urging residents to avoid complacency after the outbreak of coronavirus at a Central Australian mine site. On Saturday morning (27 June 2021), a FIFO worker at the Granites Mine site, 540 kms NW of Alice Springs, tested positive for Coronavirus. 24 close contacts of the worker, including a town camp resident, travelled to Alice Springs last week.

Head of Public Health at Central Australian Aboriginal Congress (CAAC), John Boffa, said by Saturday night all had been contacted and were in isolation. By Sunday afternoon all 24 had returned negative test results. He said another 19 close contacts of the man transited through the Alice Springs airport and were being managed in other states. “We’re not totally out of the woods yet, you know, day three some of those people might become positive. But with the Delta variant it does look like the incubation period is very short, so it’s very encouraging. We’re quietly confident that perhaps we’ve dodged a bullet.” said Dr Boffa.

Dr Boffa said that vaccination rates among Indigenous residents of Central Australia remained low and that this near miss should be heeded as a wake-up call. Dr John Boffa said he hoped this near miss showed the Alice Springs community the importance of getting vaccinated. “We’ve been living as if COVID doesn’t exist – well it does exist, its real. We hope now with this scare that people will really jump in and get vaccinated.”

To view the full ABC News article click here.

CAAC female health worker being given the COVID-19 vaccine

Image source: ABC News, Samantha Jonscher. Feature tile image of Granites Tanamai gold mine site. Image source: NT Independent.

In another article in The Guardian: Low rate of Indigenous vaccination a worry, says minister, as NT Covid cases rise to seven

“I don’t want to see any deaths,” says Ken Wyatt, pointing to significant vaccine hesitancy in some communities.

“Our population is very young, the bulk of our people are under 50 so we need a good supply of Pfizer on a regular basis, especially now there’s a real risk to remote communities,” said CEO of the Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance Northern Territory, John Paterson.

Minister Ken Wyatt says he is ‘worried’ that the current Covid outbreak poses a significant risk to Indigenous communities. Photograph: Mick Tsikas/AAP

Focus on remote vulnerable NT communities

In an interview on Saturday 27 June 2021 the Minister for Health and Aged Care, Greg Hunt MP said the NT has taken strong actions early to ensure that their Territory and their Indigenous as well as non-Indigenous communities are protected and that these actions were appropriate and timely.

Minister Hunt outlined the 10 principal actions that make up the Commonwealth’s response, “Firstly, we have set up a National Incident Management Team to support the NT response, and that’s hosted in the National Incident Centre and includes representatives from the National Indigenous Australians Agency. We’ve ensured that the current stock of point of care testing is focused in the NT. More than 4,000 cartridges for testing all of those who maybe need it in remote or otherwise difficult-to-reach communities.”

“Thirdly, asymptomatic testing has been activated in the NT. Fourthly, the Royal Flying Doctor Service has been put into a position to assist with rapid deployment. Fifthly, Aspen is available for additional workforce support to the Aboriginal community-controlled health services. Then we have Purple House, where we are working to ensure that dialysis for patients continues safely. The seventh action is that all aged care facilities have had first and second dose visits and that we are assisting the NT Health in terms of their joint aged care response centre.”

“And we have convened a joint briefing with the Aboriginal health sector along with the NT and are working closely with them. Our focus is in particular on the remote and vulnerable Indigenous communities. Then, finally, flight manifests have been provided to all states and territories with regards to the workers who have left the Granites Gold Mine near Yuendumu. And then finally, we’ve offered any and all support to the NT Government for contact tracing.”

To view a transcript of Minister Greg Hunt MP’s interview click here.

The granites gold mine, Tanami Desert NT view from the sky

The Granites gold mine, Tanami Desert, NT. Photo: Caddie Brain. Image source: ABC News.

AMSANT and Land Council message to Mob 

In a joint media release the CEOs and Chairpersons of the Northern, Tiwi and Anindilyakwa Aboriginal Land Councils and the Aboriginal Medical Alliance of the NT (AMSANT) encouraged everyone to get vaccinated as soon as possible and provided the following message for Aboriginal people living in their areas: “If you are in the Greater Darwin lockdown area you must stay there. If you are outside the lockdown area you should stay in your community. That is the safest place for you and your family. Stay Safe, Stay on Country, Look after Family.”

To view the media release in full click here.

Aboriginal man & woman at the Miwatj Health Aboriginal Corporation, the woman is receiving the covid-19 vaccine by a health worker

The vaccine rollout in East Arnhem Land started in early April 2021. Photo: Miwatj Health Aboriginal Corporation. Image source: ABC News website.

Culturally sensitive service boosts jab rate

An Aboriginal Health Service in South Australia is operating dedicated vaccination cubicles for Indigenous people. All Indigenous Australians above the age of 16 are eligible for COVID-19 vaccination. To listen to the SBS News audio describing a program run by the Watto Purrunna Aboriginal Health Clinic in Adelaide offering culturally safe primary health care including COVID-19 vaccination click here.

An Aboriginal Primary Health physician from Watto Purrunna talking to a client before administering a COVID-19 vaccine

An Aboriginal Primary Health physician from Watto Purrunna talking to a client before administering a COVID-19 vaccine. Image source: SBS News website.

Calls to turn tide on unsafe medicine use

A consortium of Australia’s leading medicine safety experts has endorsed calls to turn the tide on unsafe medicine use and to better protect Australians against preventable harm caused by medicines. In a new report released yesterday, the consortium made consensus recommendations which will help shape Australia’s response to the declaration of medicine safety and quality use of medicines as Australia’s 10th National Health Priority Area.

With the long-awaited review of the National Medicines Policy starting next month, there is no better time to ensure medicines safety is front and centre of Australia’s National Medicines Policy. The recommendations come off the back of last month’s NPS MedicineWise Symposium, hosted by NPS MedicineWise, where health and government leaders lamented the lack of good data on medicine errors and data on the patient impacts of those errors.

To view the media release click here.

hand palm up on wooden table, blister pack of tablets - 3 remaining, 6 tablets on table & a syringe

Image source: Business Daily website.

Indigenous LGBTQIA+ discrimination research

New research from Edith Cowan University (ECU) has found 73% of Indigenous LGBTQIA+ participants have experienced discrimination, in a first-of-its-kind study that addresses the impacts of racism, social exclusion and queer-phobia on Indigenous LGBTQIA+ people in WA. The study, Breaking the Silence, was led by Pro Vice Chancellor Professor Braden Hill, a Nyungar Wardandi man and head of Kurongkurl Katitjin, ECU’s Centre for Indigenous Australian Education and Research. The research was also supported by Indigenous LGBTQIA+ researchers from Kurongkurl Katitjin and funded by government health promotion organisation Healthway.

The study also found over 40%of participants decided not to disclose their Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander heritage on dating apps for fear of racism. Almost 13% had experienced homelessness or housing insecurity, one third felt ‘invisible’ within their Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, and about 45% felt a sense of belonging to the wider LGBTQIA+ community. Over 60%of participants had listed GPs and psychologists as a source of significant support.

Breaking the Silence centres on the findings from a survey of 63 Indigenous LGBTQIA+ community members, 206 health care professionals and 49 focus group sessions. “For many of the participants there was a great sense of pride in being Indigenous and LGBTIQ+, however, the experience of discrimination, particularly racism, was a major concern,” said Professor Hill. Participants noted discrimination in the forms of being ignored, teased, maliciously outed, followed in public or being “victims of physical violence or other crimes”.

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

Professor Braden Hill in navy suit, purple shirt & tie standing outside university building with wooden totem poles

Professor Braden Hill. Image source: National Indigenous Times website.

Diabetes remission diet

It wasn’t too long ago that researchers in the UK challenged the convention that type 2 diabetes – diabetes that comes on in adulthood – is a lifelong condition that’s irreversible. Using a weight management program, they showed for some, that the diagnosis can be shelved.

Now those researchers have found more encouraging signs. The high blood pressure that often goes along with type 2 diabetes may be helped as well, with some people no longer needing medication. Here in Australia, experts have taken notice, with the very low calorie program now being used in Sydney as well as in remote communities where people are at greater risk.

To listen to the ABC Health Report with Norman Swan episode Diabetes remission diet also found to reduce high blood pressure click here.hot pink background with stethoscope, blood pressure gauge, pills, syringe and board with the word Diabetes

New process for job advertising

NACCHO have introduced a new system for the advertising of job adverts via NACCHO’s communication platforms.

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

Group B Strep Awareness Month

July is Group B Strep Awareness Month, an annual campaign to highlight the importance of group B Strep awareness, education and research.

  • Group B streptococcal bacteria can cause a wide range of illnesses.
  • Between one and four out of every 1,000 newborns contract group B streptococcal disease (GBS disease) from their mothers during birth.
  • Some of the life-threatening complications of GBS infection in newborns include bacterial infection of the bloodstream (septicaemia), pneumonia and meningitis.
  • Many Australian maternity hospitals screen pregnant women for GBS infection to reduce the risk of GBS infection in newborn infants.

Tragically, many families first hear about group B Strep after their baby is seriously ill with GBS meningitis, sepsis or pneumonia.

It is important more families hear about group B Strep so they can take action to protect their newborn baby.

For more information click here.pink vector paper with tape at top & text 'July is International GBS Awareness Month! GROUP B STREP INTERNATIONL' pink, white & blue awareness ribbons

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Racism linked to poorer health

feature tile text 'racism linked to poorer health in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people' overlaid silhouette images of heads of different shades of brown, yellow, cream overlaid with transparent white medical thickness symbol cross

Racism linked to poorer health

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults who have experienced discrimination have poorer health and wellbeing outcomes regardless of their age, where they live and their gender, according to a new national study. It’s the first national study outlining the experiences of racism and health outcomes among Indigenous Australians. Researchers from The Australian National University (ANU) analysed data from more than 8,000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults from the national Indigenous-led Mayi Kuwayu Study, collected between 2018–2020.

“These results highlight the breadth and extent of just how bad racism is for our mob’s wellbeing,” ANU Associate Professor Raymond Lovett said. “Across the board, we found consistent links between racism and poor mental health, physical health and cultural wellbeing. “Experiencing discrimination is linked to negative outcomes ranging from low happiness to heart disease.” Discrimination was linked to all negative outcomes examined in the study. These included, but are not limited to, pain, poor life satisfaction, psychological distress, anxiety, depression, heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes.

“We found these negative outcomes were increasingly common as the extent of discrimination increased,” lead author Dr Katherine Thurber, from ANU, said. “Discrimination experiences were pervasive, with almost six-in-10 participants in the study reporting having experienced discrimination in their everyday life.”

To view the ANU’s media release click here.

brick wall with mural of Aboriginal people, with 2 Aboriginal men walking past

Image source: The Young Witness.

Census data used to determine need

Last year, Orange Aboriginal Medical Service (OAMS), opened a purpose-built wellbeing and rehabilitation centre in Orange, NSW. The name of the centre – walu-win – comes from the Wiradjuri word for ‘healthy’. Jamie Newman, proud Wiradjuri man and OAMS’ CEO, said they use Census data to understand needs of the local community and help secure further investment from partners. walu-win’s services include health, housing and employment, which are vital for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to thrive.

OAMS combined Census data with other local data to build a profile of the region, helping it to better understand what was needed in the local community. The centre combines holistic and traditional medical practices to improve health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. “Improving access to health services through walu-win, and a more holistic and wellbeing focus is vital to closing the gap. We can’t close the gap without focusing on wellbeing for our people,” Jamie said.

Walu-win’s Manager, Zara Crawford, describes salu-win as a hub for a variety of health outcomes. “We often see clients more than a GP would, which could be about something that is stressing them out socially or emotionally, through to developing exercise and nutritional programs. That’s our day-to-day service and that’s what we mean about being holistic.” Jamie and Zara believe participation in the Census is an important conversation for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities ahead of this year’s count.

For further details about how Census data and local partnerships promote wellbeing at the new walu-win Centre in Orange click here.

image of the Walu-win Centre in Orange NSW

New walu-win Centre in Orange NSW.

Making CTG data more accessible

The Productivity Commission has today launched a new Closing the Gap Information Repository, making available the most comprehensive data set for measuring the 17 targets agreed to in the National Agreement on Closing the Gap. Minister for Indigenous Australians, the Hon Ken Wyatt AM, MP, said the new website is another step towards delivering on the Government’s commitment to share data and support more informed decision making by all parties to the National Agreement. This delivers on the Morrison Government’s 2020–21 Budget commitment of $10.1 million to provide independent oversight and accountability of progress under the National Agreement on Closing the Gap.

To view the media release click here.

piece of paper with graph 2016 - 2021

Image source: National Indigenous Times.

Advance redress payments now available

Survivors of institutional child sexual abuse who are older or terminally ill will be able to access advance payments of $10,000 under proposed changes to the National Redress Scheme. Minister for Families and Social Services and Minister for Women’s Safety Anne Ruston announced the plan as part of the Morrison Government’s initial response to the Final Report, Second Year Review of the National Redress Scheme (the Final Report) prepared by Independent Reviewer Ms Robyn Kruk AO. I would like to thank Ms Kruk for her work on the Final Report which outlines how the Scheme can be improved and deliver a better experience for survivors, Minister Ruston said.

To view Senator Ruston’s media release click here. In another media release the Healing Foundation welcomed the Australian Government’s advice that it supports making advance payments to elderly or terminally ill survivors.

Eunice Wright in wheel chair holding sign with 'stolen' written on it at rally in Melbourne

Stolen Generation survivor Eunice Wright. Image source: ABC News website.

Future of primary care – much to discuss

The Primary Health Reform Steering Group has circulated a discussion paper to stakeholders seeking feedback on its recommendations to inform the Australian Government’s Primary Health Care 10-Year Plan. Croakey columnist and contributing editor Associate Professor Lesley Russell has written an overview of the paper’s strengths and weaknesses, as well as identifying important omissions.

One such glaring gap is the absence of any discussion around the sector’s role in planning, preparing and responding to climate change and its health impacts. Yet, there is an extensive literature that could have informed such a discussion, dating back to a 2007 paper by the late Professor Tony McMichael and others arguing that “primary health care has an important role in preparing for and responding to these climate change related threats to human health.”

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

dark outback signpost against pink blue cream sky of dusk

Image source: Croakey Health Media website.

Victoria leading the way on CTG

Minister for Aboriginal Affairs Gabrielle Williams says Victoria is leading the way on Closing the Gap, using self-determined solutions to tackle Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander disadvantage. The Victorian Government is delivering an additional $5 million to support reaching the targets in the National Agreement on Closing the Gap, to improve the lives of Aboriginal people.

The new funding builds on the $3.3 million announced in 2020, when Victoria became the first state or territory to provide funding to the National Agreement on Closing the Gap. This funding has been vital to making some of the significant progress highlighted in the Victorian Government Aboriginal Affairs Report 2020 possible.

To view the Victoria State Government media release click here.

shadow of child cast over Aboriginal flag on the ground

Image source: The West Australian.

Martumili art for Newman Health Service

Health Minister Roger Cook said the Newman Health Service is set to become home to a series of artworks by local Martumili artists when the brand new hospital and health service is completed in 2023. The $61.4 million McGowan Government redevelopment project, which includes a $15 million contribution from BHP Iron Ore (BHP), will provide Newman and the surrounding communities with a modern, fit-for-purpose facility delivering care closer to home and on Country.

The incorporation of artwork by local Aboriginal artists is part of the State’s commitment to ensuring Aboriginal people can receive care in a culturally safe and welcoming facility that meets the needs of the community. Artwork for the main entry screen of the Newman Health has been awarded to Manyjilyjarra woman Mulyatingki Marney whose piece tells the story of Minyipuru, or the Seven Sisters, and embodies Aboriginal notions of interconnectedness between spirituality, land and self.

To view Minister Cook’s media release click here.

portrait of Mulyatingki Marney & photo of her from waist down sitting painting

Manyjilyjarra woman Mulyatingki Marney. Image source: Spinifix Hill Studio.

New kidney unit location ‘despicable’

The decision by the Queensland Government to establish a new Kidney Transplant Unit in Townsville ahead of Cairns has been labelled as “despicable and appalling” by Cairns Mayor Bob Manning. “We were originally told that Cairns had been slated to get this unit, but then we were told that people from the State Government got involved who were in favour of it being in Townsville – it became political,” Cr Manning said.

“We took up the matter in support of a number of Indigenous councils and communities who indicated they found it hard to take the matter forward. As part of that, we did an analysis with clinicians from within the hospital and we were given assurances that the right place for this facility was in Cairns.” Cr Manning said he was shocked to learn of the decision to establish the kidney unit in Townsville. “This is possibly the most despicable act I have seen. This decision is despite that clearly the greatest need is in this region – the facts support this.”

To view the Cairns Regional Council’s media release click here.

arm of Aboriginal man linked to dialysis with red black white tartan blanket over lap

Image source: newsGP.

New process for job advertising

NACCHO have introduced a new system for the advertising of job adverts via NACCHO’s communication platforms.

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

Go Dry This July

Dry July Foundation is the registered charity behind the Dry July campaign. Dry July is a fundraiser that encourages you to go alcohol-free in July to raise funds to help improve the comfort, care and wellbeing of people affected by cancer, whether it’s a lift to a life-saving appointment, guidance from a specialist nurse, connection to an informative voice, access to therapy programs or a bed close to treatment.

Since the first Dry July in 2008, the Dry July campaign has raised over $60 million dollars for people affected by cancer. Funds raised through the Dry July campaign are distributed to cancer organisations across Australia. These organisations provide support services to cancer patients, their families and carers. Like the Dry July Foundation, these organisations depend on the generosity of the community through campaigns like Dry July.

Having a month off alcohol also has great health benefits, such as sleeping better, having more energy and of course, no hangovers! So you’re not only helping others, you’re helping yourself. It’s a win-win!

For more information click here.yellow bottle top with black text 'Dry July' against blue background, 'v' in word 'July' is an empty beer glass