NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Spiralling impact of diabetes requires action

The image in the feature tile is from 2SER 107.3 website, 14 November 2018.

Spiralling impact of diabetes requires action

A new Diabetes Australia (DA) report has revealed the spiralling impact of diabetes and warned that unless urgent action is taken, the condition – and complications like vision loss – will threaten to overwhelm the country’s health system. In the last two decades, the report revealed the disease’s significant burden on the Australian economy, in terms of the cost of direct healthcare (up 289%), hospital costs (up 308%) and medicines (up 282%), while hospitalisations have increased by 149% since 2004.

Looking ahead, Diabetes Australia (DA) is warning that the number of people living with diabetes could climb to more than 3.1m by 2050, resulting in 2.5m hospitalisations per year and costing Australia around $45b per annum. To coincide with World Diabetes Day today – 14 November, the organisation released its report Change the Future: Reducing the impact of the diabetes epidemicwhich it described as “a call-to-arms to combat the diabetes epidemic”.

Diabetes Australia Group CEO Ms Justine Cain said the report looked at the best available evidence to assess the significant burden of diabetes and identified a number of areas of concern. “Diabetes Australia is particularly concerned about the number of people currently living with diabetes, the increase in younger Australians being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, the impact of diabetes on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, rising numbers of mothers being diagnosed with gestational diabetes and the emergence of a number of recently identified complications,” Cain said.

To view the Insight article New Diabetes Australia report reveals dramatic jump in diabetes costs for economy, including a link to the Change the Future: Reducing the impact of the diabetes epidemic click here.

ACCHO expands into Permanency Support Program

Ungooroo Aboriginal Corporation is now accredited with the Office of the Children’s Guardian to provide support to Aboriginal children and young people through the Permanency Support Program. The Permanency Support Program offers tailored services to vulnerable children so they can grow up in stable, secure and loving homes.

To support this initiative, Ungooroo has recruited a team of qualified and experienced staff, including caseworkers and carer engagement officers who will work with children, young people and their carers to identify the best permanency goal. Ungooroo CEO Taasha Layer says the program plays a crucial role in providing positive life outcomes for Aboriginal children and young people.

“Our priority is keeping families together safely and achieving permanency for Aboriginal children and young people. We know that vulnerable Aboriginal children and young people are much better off if they are living in a safe and stable home with relatives or kin, in community and on Country,” she said.

To read the Muswellbrook Chronicle article Ungooroo Aboriginal Corporation expands into the Permanency Support Program in full click here.

Ungooroo Aboriginal Corporation is now accredited to provide support to Aboriginal children and young people through the Permanency Support Program. Image source: Muswellbrook Chronicle.

Want to improve hearing health for our mob?

Do you work in the ear and hearing health space?

Do you want to improve hearing health care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people?

Let us know what you think about the big challenges, the gaps, and what we need to be doing more of.

Researchers, service providers, government organisations, universities, peak health bodies, and anyone working in this space, we want to hear from you!

Let us know what you think in this survey here.

Any queries, contact NACCHO using this email link.

Trainers need to understand cultural needs

Trainers will need to understand the cultural needs of local communities if the transition to college-led training is to be successful in the NT, the head of the Territory’s RTO says. “It’s taken 20 years for us to really understand how to do this work in NT communities,” the NTGPE’s Dr Richard Zanner said, following a four-day tour of remote communities during which he hosted RACGP leaders.

“The curriculum, manuals and data – that’s all explicit knowledge or information that we can easily transfer to the colleges. But the real meat, the real essence, of course, lies in the tacit knowledge and that’s a very tricky thing to try and transfer to another organisation – but that’s where the value in our training lies. “If the IT systems don’t work perfectly on day one or day two that would be a shame, but it wouldn’t be a tragedy.”

The tour came less than three months before Australia transitions to training led either by the RACGP or ACRRM, but Dr Zanner is optimistic about these goals being achieved. “After flying around the Top End in and out of communities with [RACGP president-elect Dr Nicole Higgins and vice-president Dr Bruce Willett], I feel a lot more re-assured,” he said. “I’m convinced they recognise the importance of relationships and of that knowledge in the way we’ve gone about our work.”

To view The Medical Republic article Tour reveals secret to NT training success in full click here.

Image source: The Medical Republic.

HEAL 2022 conference next week

Join us at the Healthy Environments and Lives (HEAL) 2022 conference focusing on the latest research and policy priority setting on human health, climate and environmental change solutions in Australia. This two-day event will connect diverse Australian and international stakeholders from academia, policy, practice, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations and local communities.

This innovative conference has a hybrid multi-node format allowing for interactions online and in-person at eight nodes located across Australia. To learn more about the conference and to register, please visit the HEAL Network website here.

You can also view a flyer about the conference here.

IAHA Conference 28-30 November

You are invited to join the First Nations Allied Health Workforce at the National Convention Centre Canberra, for the 2022 Indigenous Allied Health Australia (IAHA) National Conference. The theme for this year’s conference is Celebrating the past, present and future in Allied Health.

Can’t make it to the conference? Come along to our IAHA Markets on Wednesday 30 November at the Convention Centre. Open to the public. Register online by scanning the QR code (available in the flyer here) or visit the IAHA website here.

Sector Jobs

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

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

ATSIHAW Virtual Trivia – 8 December 2022

Save the date!

Inviting all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community Controlled Health Services’ staff to join this year’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander HIV Awareness Week (ATSIHAW) Virtual Trivia on Thursday 8 December 2022:

  • 1:00 PM – WA
  • 2:30 PM – NT
  • 3:00 PM – QLD
  • 3:30 PM – SA
  • 4:00 PM – ACT, NSW, TAS, VIC

Each year, ATSIHAW provides an opportunity for conversations in our communities to increase education and awareness about HIV, prevention and treatment, the importance of regular testing and to reduce stigma.

NACCHO are co-hosting the ATSIHAW Virtual Trivia 2022 along with the University of Queensland’s Poche Centre for Indigenous Health.

A link to register your team for the virtual trivia will be sent later this week. Sexual health themed costumes and props are highly encouraged – there will be prizes for the best dressed!

If you have any questions please contact NACCHO using this email link.

The U and Me Can Stop HIV campaign was created by University of Queensland’s Poche Centre for Indigenous Health in collaboration with the SA Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHRMI). Each year coinciding with World AIDS Day on 1 December, Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander HIV Awareness Week (ATSIHAW) is held nationally to refresh the conversations about rates of HIV in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Communities. ATSIHAW was launched in 2014 with support from the Commonwealth Department of Health and has been run annually by Professor James Ward and his team at the University of Queensland Poche Centre for Indigenous Health (and previously SAHMRI). ATSIHAW continues to expand growing bigger and more inclusive of the ACCHO sector running events that raise awareness, educate, inform, and promote testing for HIV in Communities. The theme for ATSIHAW is: ‘U and Me Can Stop HIV’ further promoting the importance of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health being in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander hands!

For more information about the history of ATSIHAW click here.

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: NACCHO CEO reflects on successful conference

The image in the feature tile is of Jadlyn David De Bush and Daniel Rosedal presenting feedback from the 76 delegates at the NACCHO Youth Conference 2022 to the 500 delegates at the NACCHO Members’ Conference 2022. Image source: NACCHO Australia Twitter post, 20 October 2022.

NACCHO CEO reflects on successful conference

In closing the NACCHO Members’ Conference 2022, NACCHO CEO Pat Turner AM said it had been a wonderful event, with it being “great to be able connect to people face-to-face rather than the virtual connections we’ve had over the last 3 years with COVID-19 preventing us from being able to get together like this.”

Ms Turner said the NACCHO Members’ Conference is not only an opportunity to strengthen our network and get to know each other better but to hear about the amazing work that is being done right around the country, saying it was a testimony to the strength of the sector to come together, noting it was a long way for many and expensive.

Ms Turner said she hoped attendees at the conference had been inspired to pick up on good ideas and best practice shared at the conference and that they would be used to continue to strengthen the delivery of health services to our people. Ms Turner said we have got to be able to get the governments to understand the importance of the environments our people live in and what a negative effect overcrowded housing and unhealthy environments have on our people’s health, “as part of the comprehensive primary health care model its our job at every level to advocate for our communities in those areas as well.”

Housing shortage potentially “life-threatening”

Preston Mapuyu is on a public housing waitlist that on average takes more than half a decade to see any movement – but due to a chronic lung condition, he may not have that long to wait. Nurses in remote north-east Arnhem Land say a housing shortage has become potentially “life-threatening for patients” such as Mr Mapuyu, and is simultaneously burdening the health system.

Mr Mapuyu’s inability to access public housing has meant he’s been forced to rely on the kindness of relatives for accommodation, often overcrowded and unsuitable for someone with his condition. He and his wife, Serena Munyarryun, were living on a remote homeland 100km from the nearest hospital, where access via dirt road is seasonal and emergency planes can only land during the day. “If we call emergency for ambulance to get here, sometimes it takes them three to four hours to get here,” Ms Munyarryun said.

The pair has applied to access public housing in the nearest township of Nhulunbuy but, given a Territory-wide public housing shortage, they’re up against it. NT government data shows there is an average wait of six to eight years for applicants in Nhulunbuy. That stretches up to a decade for those seeking housing in hubs like Alice Springs. Across the NT there are nearly 6,000 applications for housing, but only 162 homes listed as vacant.

To view the ABC News article NT government’s years-long public housing waitlist putting a strain on remote health system in full click here.

Serena Munyarryun and Preston Mapuyu could be forced to wait years for public housing. Photo: Michael Franchi, ABC News.

RHD landmark study makes inroads

An entirely preventable “killer” disease plaguing remote communities in the NT will never end unless Aboriginal workers become the backbone of prevention, an Indigenous health organisation warns. Sunrise Health chairperson Anne-Marie Lee is the co-author of a four-year, landmark study – published in the International Journal of Environmental Research Public Health – which was conducted in three Aboriginal communities where it is not uncommon to see children under 10 bearing the vertical, long scars of open-heart surgery.

“Nothing can work in Indigenous communities unless you employ local people,” Ms Lee said. “Rheumatic heart disease (RHD) is a killer. It’s a killer, and it’s killing a lot of my young ones.” RHD is mostly eradicated in first world countries and is only found in the most disadvantaged areas of developing countries. But in Australia, rates in remote Aboriginal communities beset by social disadvantage are among the highest in the world.

Studies to date have largely focused on secondary and tertiary prevention once somebody’s already been diagnosed, instead of the root causes, such as addressing severe overcrowding in houses and a lack of effective education. Ms Lee said in her community of Barunga, about an hour’s drive from Katherine, there was not enough suitable information about the disease for families. She lamented the notion that short-term fly-in-fly-out health workers could make meaningful inroads. “We need more of me … because they trust us,” Ms Lee said.

To view the ABC News article Rheumatic heart disease still killing Australian children but a landmark study makes inroads in full click here.

Anne-Marie Lee [L] says rates of RHD fell in her community during the study. Photo: Menzies School of Health. Image source: ABC News.

Improving health for people with intellectual disability

The Australian Government is investing more than $5 million in four research projects to improve the long-term health outcomes of people with intellectual disability. Funded by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC), the research will develop the evidence base for future policies, interventions and other initiatives to improve the quality of life of people with an intellectual disability. A key factor in each of the projects is the involvement of people with intellectual disability, their families and carers in the design of the research and implementation.

Professor Sandra Eades from the University of Melbourne has received $792,020 to undertake a research project: Equitable access to health and disability services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children with intellectual disability.

This project will improve the health and wellbeing of Indigenous children with intellectual disability by recommending effective models of care to ensure appropriate, timely diagnoses and access to high-quality health and disability services. National Disability Insurance Scheme data and interviews with families, adolescents with intellectual disability, and healthcare and disability services will be analysed to identify barriers and facilitators to meeting the healthcare needs of Indigenous children with intellectual disability.

To view Minister Butler’s media release Improving long-term health outcomes for people with intellectual disability in full click here.

Image source: Supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families of children with disabilities webpage of Community Early Learning Australia website.

Urapunga Store’s sugar cut success

Remote residents of Urapunga in the NT have reduced consumption of sugary drinks by 43% in the past year, due to a range of sugar-reduction measures implemented at their local grocery store. Urapunga Store, operated by the Urapunga Aboriginal Corporation and serviced by Outback Stores, has restricted the size of soft drinks sold, and implemented “Sugar-Free Wednesdays” – a day in which no full-sugar soft drinks are available for purchase.

“We knew the community was drinking too much sugar, so we came up with a plan to start changing that,” said Antonella Pascoe, board member of Urapunga Aboriginal Corporation. “As directors of the store, we felt like we could make a positive change.”

In the first six months, the proportion of sugary drinks sold has fallen by 4.7% which equates to 1,921 litres, or twelve bathtubs less of full-sugar soft drink consumed in the community. “We know that the community is now drinking less sugar,” says Ms Pascoe. “One of the best things is the way it has made the community think about what they are drinking, even on days when they can buy sugary drinks.

To view the Retail World article Urapunga Store’s sugar cut success in full click here.

Photo: Isabella Higgins, ABC News.

Sax Institute, a community-led research pioneer

The Sax Institute are pioneers of the community-led research model and have been building strong relationships with Aboriginal health organisations since 2003. These partnerships have been critical to enabling the design and conduct of health research that is most likely to meet the needs of Aboriginal communities and policy makers. The Sax Institute says these partnerships are an essential part of how they work and central to their success.

In 2003, Sax Institute formed a partnership with the Aboriginal Health and Medical Research Council (AH&MRC) to set up the Coalition for Research to Improve Aboriginal Health (CRIAH) as a vehicle for bringing together Aboriginal communities and leading research expertise to support better health outcomes.

Over the past 15 years, the Sax Institute has worked with a number of ACCHOs across NSW to improve the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal people. Through these partnerships, ACCHOs nominate their research priorities, control how the research is conducted and take the lead in determining what works for them and their communities.

Four ACCHOs – Tharawal Aboriginal Corporation, Riverina Medical and Dental Aboriginal Corporation, Awabakal and Greater Western Aboriginal Health Service – have been cornerstone partners with the Institute in developing the Study of Environment on Aboriginal Resilience and Child Health (SEARCH), Australia’s largest long-term study of the health and wellbeing of urban Aboriginal children.

You can find more information on the Partnerships – How we work webpage of the Sax Institute website here.

Image source: Sax Institute website.

Sector Jobs

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

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

Children’s Week 2022

Saturday marked the beginning of Children’s Week 2022 (22-30 October). Children’s Week is an annual event celebrated in Australia held around the fourth Wednesday in October. A diverse range of events and activities at national, state and local levels focus the attention of the wider community on children, their rights and achievements. Children’s Week celebrates the right of children to enjoy childhood.

Children’s Week promotes the Rights of the Child as proclaimed by the United Nations in 1954. It also exists to remind us of our responsibility to advocate for children as citizens and their right to a positive childhood.

The 2022 Children’s Week theme All Children have the right to a standard of living that supports their wellbeing and healthy development aligns with Article 27 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

For more information about Children’s Week click here.

Logo: ClipartMax. Photo: The North West Star. Image source: The Pulse.

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

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

World Heart Day 2022

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

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

For more information about World Heart Day click here.

Community-led approach to tackling RHD

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

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

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

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

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

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

Climate change victory for Torres Strait Islanders

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

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

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

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

Keeping FV victim-survivors in own homes

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

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

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

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

Image source: Pursuit, University of Melbourne.

Lessons in overcoming racism

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

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

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

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

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

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

Prevention key to fairer, healthier future

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

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

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

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

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

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

Government policies fail to ensure adequate housing

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

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

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

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

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

Image source: The Conversation.

Sector Jobs

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: How poor housing affects health

The image in the feature tile is of Shannon Urban is camping in a derelict building with no power and water connected while he waits for new houses to be built. Photo: Che Chorley. Image source: ABC News article Feeling again forgotten at a federal election, remote voters lament empty promises to close the gap, 5 May 2022.

How poor housing affects health

The housing crisis is currently a hot-button issue making headlines Australia-wide. But it’s been endemic in Central Australia for decades. A chronic shortage of available housing in remote Indigenous communities has significant consequences, with unintended household crowding ultimately contributing to the poor health of residents.

University of Queensland anthropologist and architect Professor Paul Memmott has been visiting the Barkly region in the centre of the NT for decades. He’s part of a multi-disciplinary team of five UQ researchers who collaborated with local medical service, Anyinginyi Health Aboriginal Corporation, to examine the link between housing and health for Indigenous people living on remote Country. The resulting study, Pilyii Papulu Purrakaj-ji (Good housing to prevent sickness), won a UQ Research Partnerships and Translation Award (RPAT) on Friday (16 September 2022) last week.

“We co-designed a research project to investigate the relationship between housing, crowding and infectious diseases,” Professor Memmott said. “But importantly, it also collated an evidence base to advocate for change.”

To view The University of Queensland Australia article How housing affects health on remote Country click here.

Tin houses on the outskirts of Tennant Creek, NT, that are used informally as spillover accommodation. Image source: The University of Queensland Australia UQ News webpage.

Far North research to treat tuberculosis

A breakthrough treatment for tuberculosis and ways to prevent dementia were unveiled last week at the Cairns Hospital annual research and innovation symposium. The annual event featured more than 40 presentations from the Far North Queensland medical and allied health research community. The symposium heard about research into harnessing the power of immune cells for treating tuberculosis (TB), one of the world’s deadliest diseases, causing more than 1.5 million deaths a year.

Doctor Saparna Pai, from the Australian Institute of Tropical Health and Medicine at James Cook University, said his team had discovered immune cells called Q+ cells, which could help fight TB. TB risk is low in Queensland, but it’s frequently reported in Papua New Guinea and health authorities are concerned about potential spread through Torres Strait to mainland Australia.

To view the Tropic Now article Far North research to treat tuberculosis and prevent dementia click here. Note, a more detailed article on preventing dementia was published in the in the NACCHO Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander News on 16 September 2022 , available here.

Cairns Hospital. Image source: Tropic Now.

Strong Women for Healthy Country meet

Over 200 Aboriginal women have convened on Eastern Arrernte Country to finalise a 4 year effort in designing an NT wide network aimed at supporting each other in the face of urgent issues impacting their communities. The Strong Women for Healthy Country (SWHC) Forum takes place this week at Ross River where women caring for Country across the NT will continue driving the network.

The forum has once again drawn hundreds of women to make the journey from over 30 remote towns and communities, to continue to build a strategy to realise their vision. “We are strong Indigenous women of the NT. We stand united as one strong voice. We commit to a network that gives equal power to the rights of all our women. Strong Women means Healthy Country.” (SWHC Vision Statement). The Strong Women for Healthy Country Network, with the support of Mimal Land Management, was initiated by women involved in ranger programs, who quickly invited Aboriginal healers, artists, and community workers to join the conversation.

To view the SWHC Network media release NT’s First Nations women take their futures into their own hands in full click here.

2021 Strong Women for Healthy Country Forum. Image source: Indigenous Carbon Industry Network website.

Group A Streptococcus molecular POC testing

A research article Roadmap to incorporating group A Streptococcus molecular point‐of‐care testing for remote Australia: a key activity to eliminate rheumatic heart disease (RHD) has been published today in the Medical Journal of Australia. Strep A Point Of Care Testing (POCT) is a critical element in preventing acute rheumatic fever (ARF) and will contribute to the elimination of RHD in Australia.

Group A β‐haemolytic Streptococcus pyogenes (Strep A) most commonly causes superficial infections of the throat (pharyngitis) and skin (impetigo). In Australia, one‐third of primary school aged children have an episode of pharyngitis each year, with Strep A identified in about 20% of children with symptomatic pharyngitis and 10% of asymptomatic children. Superficial Strep A infections are the sole precursor of ARF and RHD. The burden of ARF and RHD in remote Australian communities is high and disproportionately affects Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, with the reported mortality rates of RHD in Aboriginal populations are among the highest worldwide. This is despite ARF and RHD being preventable through the early treatment of Strep A. I

Given the increasing pipeline of POCT and momentum to expand decentralised testing across Australia, evaluations are urgently needed to determine the population benefits, health service impacts and costs associated with integrated multi‐pathogen POCT. These will ensure that adequate frameworks including workforce planning and funding models are in place to support further scale up. The infrastructure, rationale and need for Strep A molecular POCT in remote Australia, where prevention of ARF has the highest economic and societal benefit, is crucial.

To view the article in full click here.

Group A Streptococcus. Image source: Microbiologics Blog webpage.

Mental health, substance use, reincarceration

New research shows that people released from prison who sought help for their mental health or substance use problems were more likely to end up back in prison, prompting calls for an overhaul of the system to allow quicker and more consistent support. The study, published in the Journal PLOS ONE, examined the link between contact with mental health and substance use treatment services and reincarceration rates among 1,115 adults released from prisons in Queensland, Australia.

Lead researcher Professor Stuart Kinner, from the Curtin School of Population Health, said despite widespread belief that access to substance use treatment and community mental health services after release from prison can reduce reincarceration rates, this study actually found the opposite. “Globally, more than 11 million people are incarcerated on any given day, and many of these individuals experience significant mental health and substance use issues. In our study, we found that more than half of the people released from prison had been diagnosed with a mental illness or a substance use disorder, and 21% had been diagnosed with both,” Professor Kinner said.

“In Australia, more than 60,000 people are released from prison each year and the incarceration rate is increasing rapidly. Almost one in two people released from prison is back in custody within two years. “Although you might expect that treating substance use and mental health issues would result in better outcomes, our study found that people who accessed these services after release from prison were actually more likely to be reincarcerated.”

To view the Curtin University article Inadequate post-release support drives up reincarceration rates: study click here.

Photo: Jono Searle, AAP. Image source: The West Australian.

Aboriginal SEWB Scholarships Program

Over five years, $5.6 million will be invested to support the Aboriginal Social and Emotional Wellbeing Scholarships Program which provide training courses and professional development opportunities for Aboriginal people who wish to work in the mental health sector. The state government said the program provided more than a dozen scholarships for students attending RMIT and Deakin Universities in semester one this year. “A mental health and wellbeing system that provides culturally safe and inclusive care ensures the best possible support for every Victorian with mental illness,” mental health and treaty and first peoples minister Gabrielle Williams said.

“Our dedicated mental health workers are the backbone of our reformed mental health system – supporting them through study and work is the best way to support every Victorian that needs help.” The program also allows our mental health services to learn from trainees about Aboriginal culture and gain knowledge and perspective, so they can develop more holistic and well-informed supports and care programs for all Victorians.

To view the Star Weekly article Funding for Aboriginal Social and Emotional Wellbeing Scholarships Program in full click here.

Aboriginal Health Practitioner Stevie-Lee Ryan with a client. Photo: Justin McManus. Image source: The Age.

Sector Jobs

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

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

Dementia Action Week 19–25 Sep 2022

Dementia impacts close to half a million Australians and almost 1.6 million Australians are involved in their care. The number of people living with dementia is set to double in the next 25 years. With so many people impacted now and into the future, it is vital we clear up some of the prevailing misconceptions about dementia. People living with dementia can live active and fulfilling lives many years after diagnosis. Despite this, they often experience discrimination. In a Dementia Australia survey, more than 70% of people believed discrimination towards people with dementia is common or very common.

The concept for Dementia Action Week was developed in consultation with Dementia Advocates, who have a lived experience of dementia. The ‘A little support makes a big difference‘ campaign demonstrates that many people living with dementia can continue to live well for many years after their diagnosis. In 2021, the focus was also on supporting and celebrating carers of people living with dementia.

Dementia Australia has a range of resources for: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, available here, Aboriginal workers, available here, and Aboriginal health workers, available here.

For more information about Dementia Action Week 2022 click here.

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

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

QLD health service delivery needs overhaul

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

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

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

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

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

NACCHO leads environmental health workshop

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

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

For more information about the NATSIEH Conference 2022 click here.

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

ACCHOs consulted over RHD program

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

Organisations that attended included:

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

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

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

Homelessness linked to vulnerability clustering

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

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

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

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

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

Better drug treatment needed in Far West NSW

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

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

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

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

Image source: Australian Journal of General Practice.

Dementia cases could be prevented

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

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

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

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

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

 

Youth held in police watch houses to sue

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

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

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

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

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

Sector Jobs

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

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

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

The image in the feature tile is from the Hartmann Science Center website International Campaign Days webpage.

World Sepsis Day 2022

Sepsis is the body’s overwhelming and life-threatening response to an infection that can lead to tissue damage, organ failure and death. Every 2.8 seconds someone in the world dies from sepsis. Every year at least 18,000 Australian’s are diagnosed with sepsis, with around 5,000 losing their lives.

Sepsis has been coined the “silent killer” – it can rapidly cause death – sometimes within hours, but the signs of sepsis can be difficult to diagnose as early symptoms can be dismissed or confused with simple cold and flu symptoms or other similar conditions. Sepsis happens when the body is fighting an infection but it starts to attack itself. It can damage many parts of the body and cause death.

The best chance of getting better from sepsis is to treat it quickly. The public are being urged to educate themselves and get to know the signs of sepsis. If you suspect sepsis, seek urgent medical attention and never be afraid to ask – It it sepsis?

The below animation is from the T 4 Thomas Is It Sepsis? website here. You can also find more about World Sepsis Day 2022 on the Australian Sepsis Network (ASN) webpage here.

Farewell Uncle Jack Charles

The beloved star of stage and screen Uncle Jack Charles has passed away peacefully surrounded by loved ones. The legendary actor, musician and activist celebrated his 79th birthday last week, and is being remembered as a towering figure of Indigenous culture. In a statement, his family stated that Uncle Jack Charles had suffered a stroke, before passing away at the Royal Melbourne Hospital Tuesday morning. “We are so proud of everything he has achieved in his remarkable life,” reads the statement. “May he be greeted by his Ancestors on his return home.”

The Boon Wurrung Dja Dja Wurrung Woiwurrung Yorta Yorta Elder is well known to generations of Australians as the actor with the treacle vocal cords, his rich baritone the soundtrack to innumerable plays, television programs and movies. His activism for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander progress, especially regarding the Stolen Generations and education, was also an unfailing part of his efforts. Before he passed away, his family were able to send him off on Country during a smoking ceremony at the Royal Melbourne hospital.

To view the SBS NITV article Beloved Elder Uncle Jack Charles passes away in full click here. You can also view Minister for Indigenous Australians, Linda Burney’s media release Passing of Uncle Jack Charles here.

Uncles Jack Charles. Image source: NITV News.

Sowing seeds for a healthy future

A grassroots, community-based approach aims to address poor nutrition in remote Indigenous communities. EON Foundation, which works in partnership with 39 Aboriginal communities and schools to build edible gardens and develop and deliver nutrition programs, is setting up a program in Kalkarindji in the NT. Funding has been provided by the Katherine Region Communities for Children Facilitating Partner program, facilitated by the Smith Family and funded through the Australian Government.

In remote areas like this, accessing  fresh produce can be difficult, with fruit and vegetables  costing up to 50% more than they would in urban areas. As a result, the Victoria Daly Regional Council (VDRC) says 94% of Aboriginal children have an inadequate daily intake of fruit and vegetables. Poor nutrition then leads to health problems like heart and kidney disease and type two diabetes. Phase one of the Kalkarindji project will see a section of the Kalkarindji School grounds transformed into an edible bush tucker and sensory garden. Donna Donzow, the EON Foundation’s NT operations manager, said working closely with the school was a great way to teach kids about healthy eating habits.

To view the Pro Bono Australia article Sowing seeds for a healthy future in Kalkarindji in full click here.

Donna Donzow in front of the garden site. Image source: Pro Bono Australia.

We need to talk about family violence

Doctpr Gracelyn Smallwood does not have time to retire. “Some people my age would be sitting by the beach, drinking pina coladas,” she said with a laugh. “Not me, there’s too much work to do.” The 71-year-old Indigenous health and human rights advocate spoke at the Red Rose Domestic Violence fundraiser luncheon at Victoria Park Golf complex last Friday. “I had to cram about 200 years of knowledge into a 15-minute speech,” Dr Smallwood joked.

Founded in 2016 by chief executive Betty Taylor, the Red Rose Foundation works to address the impact of domestic and family violence in Australian communities. The national charity provides holistic medical, legal and trauma counselling support to victims of “high-harm and high-risk” domestic violence such as strangulation.

Mrs Taylor said Red Rose was honoured to host Dr Smallwood as their keynote speaker. “Gracelyn is an absolute champion of diversity and inclusivity,” Mrs Taylor said. Regarded as one of the most prominent First Nations health and justice experts, Dr Smallwood was a published author, a former consultant to the World Health Organisation, and the recipient of the 2022 Queensland Greats Awards.

To view The Catholic Leader article ‘Changing the ending’ – Why the Red Rose Foundation wants Australia to talk about domestic violence in full click here.

Red Rose founder Betty Taylor and Dr Gracelyn Smallwood. Phot: Martin Pouwelse. Image source: The Catholic Leader.

Quantifying myocardial inflammation

Dr Jessica O’Brien is a cardiologist and PhD student at Monash University and Alfred Health. Dr O’Brien received an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Award from the Heart Foundation for her project Quantifying myocardial inflammation in acute rheumatic fever (ARF) and rheumatic heart disease (RHD). This grant is focused on capacity building and increasing Indigenous representation at all levels of research. Dr O’Brien will use cardiac magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to identify myocardial inflammation (inflammation of the heart muscle) in ARF. The aim is to improve diagnostic accuracy and the ability to predict who is most likely to progress to RHD.

By being able to diagnose acute rheumatic fever early, this will help to improve access to effective medications (antibiotics) to prevent infection. The overall goal is to help reduce the impact of rheumatic heart disease in Australia. Dr O’Brien says, “Because of my background, I have always been interested in Indigenous health, but it wasn’t until I started medical specialist training that I saw the extent of the gap in health outcomes between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians. One of the many contributors to this issue is that there are not enough Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health professionals and researchers, which is important to ensure Indigenous people can receive culturally appropriate, best practice care.”

To view the Heart Foundation article Q&A with Dr Jessica O’Brien in full click here.

Dr Jessica O’Brien. Image source: The Heart Foundation website.

Jalngangurru Health Trial

Cultural (traditional) healing can be used to address physical ailments, social and emotional wellbeing, mental health issues, drug dependence and culture bound syndromes (e.g. being sung). There are varied forms of healing practices from the Kimberley including mabarn, bush medicinal products, the smoking of various woods and leaves, the use of ochre and ceremonial songs, palliative care and child and maternal health.

The Jalngangurru Healing model is being trialled in Derby and Fitzroy Crossing with 19 healers currently registered. The model will enable the healers to be compensated for their work, with cultural safety and security embedded in the model, and will enable the safe keeping of knowledge for future generations. The trial is open until mid December 2022.

Jalngangurru Healing, formerly known as the Traditional Healing Practices Pilot (THPP) is a project managed by the Yiriman Project in partnership with Emama Nguda Aboriginal Corporation, auspiced by the Kimberley Law and Culture Centre (KALACC), funded by the WA Primary Health Alliance (WAPHA), supported by the Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Service (KAMS) and it is being evaluated by Notre Dame University’s Nulungu Research Centre.

You can access Jalngangurru Healing Trial Explainer here and a Jalngangurru Healing Trial Poster here.

Photos: John Reed. Image source: 2022 Jalngangurru Healing.

Winnunuga News August 2022 edition

The August 2022 edition of Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health and Community Services newsletter Winnunga News is now available here. This edition includes a CEO Update and a range of articles including:

  • ACT Budget Leaves Health Behind
  • Poverty in the ACT?
  • AMC Under The Spotlight
  • August Anniversary Events
  • Julie’s Tough Turning Point: Sober Up or Kill Yourself
  • Report Into Death of Detainee at AMC Identifies Serious Shortcomings
  • Keira Brown v. Director General of the Justice and Community Safety Directorate
  • Maconochie’s Experiment
  • COVID-19 and Influenza Update

Sector Jobs

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

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

 

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Learning from people with lived experience

The image in the feature tile is from the Aboriginal heart health webpage of the Heart Foundation website.

Learning from people with lived experience

Communities and individuals have a right and a duty to participate in the design and delivery of their health care. In tackling the complex global epidemic of noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) and mental health conditions, people with lived experience offer powerful expertise and narratives to shape policies, programs and services, and influence and inform those in power. Despite the right of participation, many global health interventions are top–down, one-size-fits-all or donor-driven models.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has created a short film documentary that sheds light on the experiences of people living with noncommunicable diseases and mental health conditions around the world. Nothing for Us, Without Us: listening and learning from people with lived experience highlights six individuals with diverse health conditions, including rheumatic heart disease, Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes, cancer, bipolar affective disorder and auto-immune disease and includes perspectives from Australia, Brazil, Lebanon, Nepal, Nigeria and the United Kingdom.

These individuals provide powerful expertise and evidence of why including the voices of people with lived experience is critical in the co-design of related policies, programs and health services. In addition to the full-length film, there is also the opportunity to learn from the experiences of the individuals, including the CEO of Aboriginal Medical Service Co-operative Limited, LaVerne Bellear, through a series of short films.

Click here to access the WHO’s Nothing for us, without us: new film series on people living with noncommunicable diseases and mental health conditions webpage. You can also access the WHO report Nothing for us, without us: opportunities for meaningful engagement of people living with NCDs here.

Addressing health holistically for 25 years

Addressing health holistically can go a long way to improving the quality of life for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders. On a day-to-day level, it’s services like Goolburri Aboriginal Health Advancement in Queensland that makes all the difference. The incorporated community not-for-profit organisation has been providing culturally safe and sensitive services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and non-Indigenous people in Queensland’s Toowoomba and Darling Downs regions, and SW Queensland for 25 years.

Goolburri knows that encompassing the importance of connection to land, culture, ancestry and how these impact on overall wellbeing of the individual and broader community cannot be underestimated. Goolburri supports Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders with a range of services to strengthen families and community relationships, while also protecting the vulnerable and those at risk. These services include GPs, dental services, home support, healing and wellbeing services and a family wellbeing service. It also extends to problematic substance abuse, domestic violence, social and emotional wellbeing, safety plans for children and in-home support.

To view The Sydney Morning Herald article Strengthening communities by advancing health care options in full click here.

Goolburri employs around 80 team members across 10 offices. Image source: The Sydney Morning Herald.

Condo SkyFest supports mental health initiatives

The recent Condo Skyfest Miima Warrabinya (Seeking the Stars) festival washosted by Wiradjuri Condobolin Corporation (WCC) and Big Skies Collaboration. The festival showcased works from a number of local community organisations and individuals including the:

  • Condo SistaShed, where Sistas meet regularly to enjoy arts and crafts activities;
  • Marathon Health’s Wiradjuri Wellness Project’s Shine group, who meet regularly to paint, sew, yarn and relax. Their artworks celebrate good mental and physical health and positive attitudes;
  • Focus on the Sky: Suicide Prevention Program exhibition, by participants of workshops conducted by Condobolin artist Karen Tooth for the Suicide Prevention Program, an initiative of the Primary Health Network supported by Western Plains Regional Development, Condobolin Aboriginal Health Service and Lachlan Arts Council.

To view the Eastern Advocate article Condo Skyfest Miima Warrabinya (Seeking the Stars) held at the iconic Wiradjuri Study Centre in full click here.

Some of the Sistas at the Condo SistaShed with some of their lantern experiments. From left, Aleesha Goolagong, Zanette Coe, Bev Coe, Charmaine Coe. Photo: Merrill Findlay. Image source: Arts OutWest website.

Scholarships to support health workers

Applications for 400 scholarships for personal care workers and nurses undertaking vocational, undergraduate and postgraduate courses related to aged care, leadership and management have opened. There are also 100 scholarships available for allied health professionals to focus on dementia-related post-graduate qualifications under the three-year commonwealth program, which launched last year. Students are eligible to apply if their course commences or continues in 2023. There is a guaranteed number of scholarships per year for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. All scholarship recipients are eligible for a completion bonus on successfully finishing their course.

Chief nursing and midwifery officer Professor Alison McMillan said the priority of the scholarships is to develop skills for aged care nurses in leadership and clinical management, and to improve expertise in areas such as palliative care, dementia care and infection prevention and control. “I’d encourage all nurses and aged care workers working in aged care to look at what courses are available and consider applying for study that will support their career in the long term,” Professor McMillan said in a statement.

“Personal care workers interested in becoming an enrolled nurse should consider applying for a scholarship to complete a Diploma of Nursing. Enrolled nurses can apply for a scholarship to complete a Bachelor of Nursing to become a registered nurse,” she said. For allied health, courses related to aged care including clinical gerontology, behavioural management, dementia, continence and palliative care are eligible in addition to leadership and management courses.

Aged care nurse practitioner Khera said the scholarships changed her life. “The best part about my studies is applying the theories and learnings in the workplace and seeing the positive outcomes.”

For more information you can access the Australian Ageing Agenda article More scholarships for aged care nursing, care, allied health staff in full here.

Image source: VACCHO website.

$2.1m for Pilbara Aboriginal Health Alliance

With access to health services a big issue for Aboriginal communities in the Pilbara, BHP is providing $2.1 million in funding to help establish the Pilbara Aboriginal Health Alliance (PAHA). BHP’s partnership with PAHA will help transform how Indigenous health services are provided in the Pilbara, by establishing new services and creating a strong voice for Indigenous health care.

The Alliance brings together three member organisations, Puntukurnu Aboriginal Medical Service (Newman), Wirraka Maya Health Service (Port Hedland) and Mawarnkarra Health Service (Roebourne and Karratha). Through their collective expertise and community connections, PAHA has a unique understanding of Indigenous health challenges in the Pilbara. Their goal is to work towards breaking down the barriers and improving the health and resilience of Aboriginal people now and in the future.

Wirraka Maya Health Service CEO, June Councillor, says the funding will make a huge difference in driving real improvements in the health and wellbeing of Indigenous people in the Pilbara. “It will help us identify, develop and roll out the Indigenous health services that will have the greatest impact on our communities in Newman, Port Hedland, Roebourne and Karratha.”

To view the BHP article Transforming Indigenous healthcare in the Pilbara in full click here.

PAHA logo, PAHA health workers. Image sources: PAHA Facebook, BHP website.

Indigenous Literacy Day

Today, Wednesday 7 September 2022 is Indigenous Literacy Day. This is a yearly initiative by Australia’s Indigenous Literacy Foundation. Through literacy programs, the organisation seeks to improve the lives and possibilities of Indigenous Australians. Not just any literacy program, but one that puts the knowledge and wisdom of the Indigenous people first.

Australia’s First Peoples have a deep knowledge of community, culture, and land. These are concepts of “literacy” that the western world may not understand. We must redefine what literacy means for different communities and their needs. To create forward-thinking spaces without losing roots. Indigenous Literacy Day advocates people’s right to an education in the languages they speak at home. It celebrates Indigenous freedom of expression and participation in public life just as they are.

For more information about Indigenous Literacy Day click here.

Eating disorders research grants available

Sydney’s first eating disorders research and translation centre offers nationwide grant opportunity to progress prevention, treatments and support in partnership with research, lived experience, clinical and community experts. The Australian Eating Disorders Research and Translation Centre, led by InsideOut Institute at the University of Sydney, has launched the IgnitED Fund to unearth new ideas that have the potential to solve the problem of eating disorders.

Open to anyone living in Australia, IgnitED offers grants of up to $25,000 to develop and test innovative ideas that have potential to improve outcomes for people with eating disorders and their loved ones. It is the Centre’s first funding initiative following the $13m grant awarded in January to establish the new national centre.

According to the Centre’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Co-Lead, Leilani Darwin, First Nations Australians are believed to experience high rates of eating disorders, disordered eating and food insecurity issues. “The IgnitED Fund facilitates Indigenous innovation,” said Darwin. “For the first time, we are uniquely positioned to elevate the need to better understand the issue of eating disorders and to build the evidence and best practice for our communities.”

For further information you can access The University of Sydney webpage National eating disorders centre ignites research fund for new solutions here.

Sector Jobs

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Hope for reducing rheumatic fever cases

The image in the feature tile is of Paediatric Cardiologist Dr Bo Remenyi with RHD patient Trenton. Image source: The Katherine Times, 1 July 2019.

Hope for reducing rheumatic fever cases

Findings from a new study in the NT provide hope for reducing rheumatic fever cases and the bacterial infections that trigger the condition. The study – part of a 4-year collaboration with Menzies School of Health Research, Telethon Kids Institute, Sunrise Health Service and NT Health – focused on reducing household health risks through community-based activities led by Aboriginal Community Workers, in a bid to curb infection rates. Housing and environmental health support – such as fixing showerheads, broken pipes and other health hardware – as well as information-sharing about rheumatic fever and assisting families to navigate healthcare, made up the focus of the activities.

People gained the knowledge needed to seek medical treatment, which initially increased the number of reported infections. Because those infections were then able to be properly treated, rates of infection decreased to below baseline levels, especially in children. Study co-author and Chairperson of the Board for Sunrise Healthcare, Anne-Marie Lee, said the findings suggested the community-led activities translated into a reduction of the types of infection that drive rheumatic fever. The number of new cases of rheumatic fever also decreased during the study.

To view the Menzies School of Health Research media release Community-led approach delivers promising results to reduce rheumatic fever in full click here.

Children from Maningrida, Arnhem Land, NT. Photo: Lucy Marks, ABC News.

National Medicines Policy Review – have your say

An online consultation survey in relation to Australia’s National Medicines Policy is now available here. It focuses on the revised draft that was started on 17 August 2022 and is open for six weeks until 11:59 PM Tuesday 27 September 2022 via the Department of Health and Aged Care’s Health Consultation Hub available here.

In addition to the online survey, there will be:

  • targeted consultation sessions hosted via WebEx with a range of key stakeholder groups, including: consumers; Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander representatives; the medicines industry; the pharmacy sector; prescribers; and state and territories
  • an open stakeholder forum in September 2022

Information including the precise timing of the consultation sessions and how people may register interest to attend is available on the Health Consultation Hub. If you or your associates have questions regarding the NMP Review or the consultation process, please contact the NMP Secretariat via email here.

Background

On 29 July 2022, the Minister for Health and Aged Care, the Hon. Mark Butler MP announced that the National Medicines Policy (NMP) Review was set to restart.  Professor Michael Kidd AM FAHMS, Deputy Chief Medical Officer and Principal Medical Advisor, Australian Government Department of Health and Aged Care, was reappointed as the sole reviewer to complete the NMP Review and provide a final report to Government later this year.

All interested stakeholders will have the opportunity to engage and provide feedback on the revised draft of the 2022 NMP which will be accompanied by a Summary Consultation Report and Recommendations with the outcomes of the previous round of consultations and the former NMP Review Committee’s recommendations (reflected in the latest draft NMP 2022). The diverse perspectives, experience and knowledge of all stakeholders is highly valued and will contribute to the report to Government and finalisation of the 2022 NMP.

Image source: AMA website.

First Nations-led employment policy needed

On the eve of the federal government’s Jobs and Skills Summit from 1–2 September 2022, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander workers, union representatives, peak bodies and researchers gathered in Canberra for a First Nations Workplace Symposium earlier this week to ask some critical questions. Now we have a new government and a new policy environment, what do First Nations people want around work and work policy? And how do we ensure Indigenous-led policy is a feature of the mainstream employment landscape?

The symposium was hosted by the First Nations Employment Alliance (which includes the Jumbunna Institute for Indigenous Education and Research, the ACTU, Reconciliation Australia, Kara Keys Consulting and PWC’s Indigenous Consulting) and aimed to listen to mob and establish a work plan and strategy to explore the future of First Nations employment that is First Nations-led and implemented.

Nareen Young, Industry Professor, Jumbunna Institute of Education and Research, University of Technology Sydney, who attended the symposium said, “First Nations workers are everywhere, but labour market experiences can be very different to those of non-First Nations workers. Existing policy doesn’t always address those needs or relate to the experiences of First Nations workers. Australia needs Indigenous-led policy design to meet the needs of First Nations workers.”

To view The Conversation article First Nations workers are everywhere. The jobs summit must tackle Indigenous-led employment policy too in full click here.

Image source: The Heart Foundation website.

Culturally safe ASD education resources

When Tanika Davis’s son was diagnosed with autism at just two years old, the Worimi mother was confronted with the stigma surrounding the developmental disorder, but also surprised at the lack of consideration for Slade’s Indigenous culture. “It came as a bit of a shock,” Ms Davis said. Her young family attended countless health appointments and consultations but found health professionals lacked the knowledge needed to appropriately treat and assist Indigenous families. “We thought that everything could be quite readily available to us as a family … but unfortunately it wasn’t,” she said.

Ms Davis said she had to inform professionals, including speech pathologists and occupational therapists, about culturally appropriate resources such as Indigenous books and activities. “Too often, as an Aboriginal family, we were required to kind of educate allied health services and professionals around cultural safety and our son’s world,” she said. Ms Davis decided to launch The I Am, Movement. The organisation provides culturally sensitive educational resources including flashcards featuring Indigenous artwork.

To view the ABC News story The I Am, Movement designs ‘culturally safe’ education resources for Indigenous children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder in full click here.

Ms Davis’s background in Aboriginal health promotion helped her develop The I Am, Movement. Photo: Mark Graham, ABC Heywire.

Supporting PHC in remote NT communities

A new project supporting comprehensive primary health care (PHC) in remote communities in the NT has just been announced as part of the Digital Health Cooperative Research Centre program of works. The project – a partnership between the University of Sydney, the Menzies School of Health Research (Alice Springs), NT Health, the Australian Government Department of Health and Aged Care, Health Direct Australia, and NT Primary Health Network (PHN) – focuses on working closely with First Nations communities in the Northern Territory, as well as Indigenous providers and consumers to develop community-centred care models.

“While telehealth has been widely used in remote communities, there is a significant gap in our understanding of how Indigenous Australians want to use technology to support their health and wellness,” said Professor Time Shaw, project lead, and Charles Perkins Centre member. This is a great team and continues the Charles Perkins Centre’s collaborative approach to all its work, particularly when working with First Nations communities. Embedding Indigenous researchers in the team will help to ensure that this community-led model has impact.

To view The University of Sydney article Supporting primary health care in remote NT communities in full click here.

Wadeye, NT. Photo: James Dunlevie, ABC News.

Ngar-wu Wanyarra conference registrations open

The annual Ngar-wu Wanyarra Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Conference will be delivered by The University of Melbourne, Department of Rural Health and is in its 7th year running.

The aim of the conference is to facilitate the exchange of information on key issues in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ health and wellbeing through the delivery of high impact keynote addresses by national leaders from within the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community. The conference also provides a forum for the presentation of cutting-edge program initiatives and research findings in Aboriginal health and wellbeing by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health practitioners and their colleagues.

Conference date: Wednesday 12 October 2022

Location: The Department of Rural Health, Shepparton campus on Yorta Yorta Country or online.

You can register and purchase tickets for the conference here.

AMS Redfern 50th Anniversary Gala Dinner

The Aboriginal Medical Service Co-operative Ltd Redfern is inviting you to join them at a Gala Dinner to celebrate more than 50 years of Aboriginal Leadership and outstanding contributions made by Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services.

You will enjoy an evening to remember as AMS Redfern celebrates their unique history. The evening will feature a formal dinner and spectacular entertainment showcasing traditional and contemporary performers.

The Gala Dinner will be held at the International Convention Centre Sydney, Darling Harbor on Saturday 26 November 2022 with doors open from 6:00PM.

Tickets can be purchased here.

Sector Jobs

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: The Voice explained

The image in the feature tile is of Torres Strait Islander man Thomas Mayer, a tireless campaigner for a constitutionally enshrined First Nations voice. Image source: Twitter, 26 August 2022.

The Voice explained

The Albanese government has put forward a preferred form of words to insert into the constitution to enshrine an Indigenous voice to parliament, starting with a simple question for us all to vote on. “We should consider asking our fellow Australians something as simple as: ‘Do you support an alteration to the constitution that establishes an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice?’” Anthony Albanese said in July during a landmark speech at the Garma Festival in Arnhem Land.

The government is now in “the consultation phase of this important nation-building project”, according to the minister for Indigenous Australians, Linda Burney. She has promised a public education campaign ahead of the referendum, to answer the most commonly asked questions. But the PM has said there is “already an extraordinary level of detail out there from the work that Marcia Langton and Tom Calma did”.

The Guardian article How would an Indigenous voice work and what are people saying about it? available in full here, goes on to answer the following questions:

  • What do we already know?
  • How would the national voice work?
  • How would it be structured?
  • How would local and regional voices feed in?
  • What would a voice not do?
  • How would disputes be resolved?
  • What action is being taken?
  • What are people saying about the plan?

NBA legend supports the Voice

The PM has enlisted the support of NBA legend Shaquille O’Neal in calling for constitutional recognition of Indigenous Australians and a Voice to Parliament. Anthony Albanese praised O’Neal after meeting with the basketball great in Sydney on Saturday morning, highlighting his work “in the United States about social justice and lifting people up who are marginalised”.

“He knows that we’re a warm and generous people,” Mr Albanese said. “And he wanted to inform himself about what this debate was about.” The PM argued the world was watching the debate in Australia about recognition of First Nations people. “I just believe that it will send a really positive message to the world about our maturity as a nation,” Mr Albanese said.

The PM, along with Minister for Indigenous Australians Linda Burney, presented O’Neal with a boomerang handmade by First Nations artist Josh Evans, and two jerseys from Mr Albanese’s beloved South Sydney Rabbitohs. “I’m here in your country, whatever you need from me, just let me know,” O’Neal said.

To view the ABC News article Shaquille O’Neal joins PM as Anthony Albanese says ‘world is watching’ Voice to Parliament debate in full click here.

Image source: ABC News website.

Healing Works suicide prevention workshops

Healing Works Australia is an Indigenous Company that provides an array of suicide prevention and cultural services is leading the rollout of I-ASIST training across Australia and in August / September the development of the safeYARN suicide alertness workshops to 12 Aboriginal community controlled health organisations in NSW involved in the “Building on Aboriginal Communities Resilience initiative “ with NSW Health.

They aim to empower organisations and communities through education and sustainable outcomes. Healing Works achieve this by working with organisations and communities, to determine their unique needs so that they can more effectively respond to suicide and broader emotional wellbeing. The two workshops on offer are I-ASIST Indigenous Applied Suicide Skills Training, and safeTALK/YARN, Suicide Alertness For Everyone. Their delivery model for suicide prevention training is stepped in care and built around a solid framework that directly relates to their community members.

To view the Healing Works Australia press release in full click here.

Australia’s HIV diagnoses lowest ever

There were 552 new HIV diagnoses in Australia in 2021, meaning the number of new diagnoses has halved over the past 10 years, according to a new national HIV report released today by UNSW’s Kirby Institute.

  • There were 552 new HIV diagnoses in Australia in 2021, the lowest number since the beginning of the HIV epidemic.
  • The majority of new diagnoses remain in gay and bisexual men (68%), but have reduced by more than 52% over the past 10 years. The decline is due to a range of successful HIV prevention strategies including the scale-up of biomedical prevention tool PrEP, particularly over the past five years.
  • HIV diagnoses among heterosexual people have reduced at a lower rate; 28% in the past 10 years.
  • In 2021, HIV diagnoses remained stable among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
  • Almost half (48%) of new diagnoses were ‘late diagnoses’, meaning that the person may have been living with HIV for four or more years without knowing. It is estimated that nearly one in 10 people living with HIV are unaware they have it.
  • Timely initiation of treatment is crucial, and by the end of 2021, an encouraging 98% of people on treatment had achieved viral suppression, which makes HIV untransmittable.
  • Further work is needed to optimise and tailor HIV programs to meet our global and national targets, and to achieve virtual elimination of transmission in Australia.

To read the scimex article Australia records lowest ever HIV numbers, but late diagnoses are concerning in full click here.

In a related Queensland University of Technology (QUT) article Zeroing-in on HIV transmission in Australia, available here, QUT health expert Dr Jo Durham says Australia had done well to reduce HIV transmissions, but insufficient focus on cultural and language differences had created inequities in healthcare access. We can’t reduce the number of people already living with HIV, but we want to stop further infections by reducing the transmission. A more targeted approach is needed to ensure access to HIV information and health care for populations experiencing HIV, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples” Dr Durham said.

Image source: Health Times website.

Sleep disorders common for NT’s Top End kids

Sleep disorders are more common and more severe in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children than non-Indigenous children, with Indigenous children often having higher screen use before bed, later bedtimes and reduced sleep, an analysis of NT data has found. The authors say targeted interventions and further resources are needed to address sleep quality issues, in order to improve the health of NT children.

“While sleep disorders, including obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA), are a common and significant health issue in children, there has been very little research investigating their prevalence in both Indigenous and non-Indigenous children in the Top End region of the NT,” says study senior author Associate Professor Subash Heraganahally, affiliated with Flinders University in the NT and a respiratory and sleep physician based at the Darwin Private Hospital and Royal Darwin Hospital.

“If left untreated, OSA and issues with overall sleep quality can lead to the development of chronic conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, anxiety and depression, in addition to the potential lasting effects of reduced academic engagement in childhood. Given what we know from previous research in other populations into the impact of sleep disturbances, the presence of OSA and other sleep disorders is likely to have a dramatic impact upon the Indigenous and non-Indigenous paediatric population”

To read the scimex article Sleep disorders common for children in NT’s Top End region in full click here.

Image source: Australian Institute of Family Studies website.

Trek tackles Australia’s rising RHD rates

A group of highly experienced doctors, health workers, and First Nations’ leaders from across the nation have begun a ‘Deadly Heart Trek’ in Queensland. The trek aims to help tackle the rising rates of rheumatic heart disease (RHD) amongst Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. While virtually eradicated amongst non-indigenous Australians, rates of RHD in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, particularly those living across northern and central Australia, are the highest in the world.

“If not diagnosed or treated, RHD can cause heart failure, disability, and even death,” says Paediatric Cardiologist and Deadly Heart Trek member Dr Bo Remenyi. “Without action, it is estimated that more than 9,000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, most under 25 years of age, will develop acute rheumatic fever or RHD by 2031. “We must prevent this, through education, the upskilling of local community members, and early detection and treatment – particularly in communities with restricted access to medical facilities.”

The trek started on Thursday Island and will see two teams travel from Cape York to Mount Isa, visiting communities by invitation, where there is a high burden of disease.

To read the Retail Pharmacy Assistants article Trek tackles rising RHD rates in Australia in full click here.

Image source: Take Heart Deadly Heart website.

RPHC Manuals August 2022 update

The Remote Primary Health Care Manuals (RPHCM) are currently being reviewed and updated with monthly updates being provided to health services and other organisations to keep them up-to-date during the review process.

The RPHCM team recently attended the National Rural Health Conference in Brisbane to promote the upcoming publication of the new manuals. The team will also attend the Council of Remote Area Nurses of Australia (CRANAplus), Rural Medicine Australia and NACCHO conferences. All manuals are now making their way to the publishers for final formatting and editing.

All sales of the Clinical Procedures Manual will cease tomorrow Wednesday 31 August 2022.

The RPHCM team will be meeting with health services and key organisations over the coming months to discuss the changes made to protocols and new content in the latest edition. You can access the RPHCM Project Update August 2022 flyer here, the Remote Primary Health Care Manuals website here and the RPHCM team by email here if you would like a change to the report or to meet the team.

Sector Jobs

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: 500 new First Nations health care workers

The image in the feature tile is of Tyla West-Chong who works with Gidgee Healing in the north-west Queensland region. Photo: Kelly Butterworth. Image source: ABC North West Qld article Indigenous health workers deliver trusted medical care to outback communities, 13 April 2021.

500 new First Nations health care workers

The federal government has announced a plan to train 500 health workers across Australia. Speaking from the front steps of SA’s Parliament House ahead of the Joint Council on Closing the Gap meeting last Friday, Assistant Indigenous Health Minister Malarndirri McCarthy said the government would spend $52.9 million over five years to employ the Aboriginal trainees. “We need to lift the standard of living for First Nations people in this country,” she said. The trainees will get Certificate III or IV qualifications to allow them to work in health settings and deliver culturally appropriate care.

Federal Indigenous Australian Minister Linda Burney said the Closing the Gap targets were “absolutely fundamental” to changing the lives of Aboriginal people in Australia. She said the gap cannot be closed without adequate data and shared decision-making between governments and Aboriginal organisations. “It is patently obvious that Aboriginal organisations know their communities and know what the resolutions are to what seems like intractable problems,” she said.

NACCHO CEO and Lead Convener of the Coalition of Peaks, Pat Turner said government institutions — hospitals, police stations, youth detention centres — need to be reformed to be more “culturally safe and culturally respectful in their dealings with Aboriginal people”.

To view the ABC News article Government announces investment in training 500 Aboriginal healthcare workers as Closing the Gap council meets click here.

Federal and state Indigenous affairs ministers and Aboriginal leaders meet in Adelaide for a Closing the Gap meeting. Photo: Richard Davies. Image source: ABC News.

New PHC centre opens in Mapoon

Dignitaries from all over Queensland headed for the tiny Cape York community of Mapoon last week for the opening of Apunipima Cape York Health Council’s Thimithi Nhii Primary Health Care Centre. This is Apunipima’s fourth standalone Primary Health Care Centre built under the Federal Government’s Rural and Remote Health Infrastructure Project and the result is a win for the community of Mapoon and Cape York communities in general.

Mayor of Mapoon and Apunipima Chairperson, Aileen Addo thanked a long list of people before cutting the ribbon in front of the community and guests to officially open the new facility. “This is something very positive, it’s been a long time coming but it’s finally here. This community is growing and we have to build infrastructure to go with that growth,” Mrs Addo said.

According to Mrs Addo, the flow-on effects from the opening of the new centre will resonate for years to come. “This is about more than just health, this is another strategy we’ve put in place to close the gap. This is about getting everything in order and seeing better outcomes like more community-based jobs, better infrastructure and community development.”

To view the Apunipima Cape Yourth Health Council media release Thimithi Nhii Primary Health Care Centre opens in Mapoon in full click here.

Images from the opening of thThimithi Nhii Primary Health Care Centre in Mapoon. Images provided by Apunipima Cape York Health Council.

$1.6m for Healing Spirit Youth Hub

The Andrews Labor Government is ensuring Aboriginal organisations have the facilities they need to support their communities and deliver the best services to First People’s Victorians. Minister for Treaty and First Peoples Gabrielle Williams has announced 21 Aboriginal organisations will share in $11 million to build or upgrade community infrastructure as part of the sixth round of the Aboriginal Community Infrastructure Program.

This includes Wathaurong Aboriginal Cooperative in Geelong, which will receive $1.6 million to develop a Healing Spirit Youth Hub, creating a fit-for-purpose, culturally safe space for children and young people to access clinical and therapeutic, social and emotional wellbeing services and supports.

To view the media release Boosting Capacity of Aboriginal Community Services by the Hon Gabirelle Williams MP, Victorian Minister for Mental Health and Minister for Treaty and First Peoples click here.

Image source: City of Greater Geelong website.

Managing tenecteplase (Metalyse) shortage

The Australian Government Department of Health and Aged Care Therapeutic Good Administration (DoH TGA) have have published a statement, available here with clinical recommendations to assist healthcare professionals during this shortage.

A printable summary, How to manage tenecteplase (Metalyse) shortage, of the recommendations is available here for clinicians to print and display in relevant health settings.

Links to both of these statements can be found here on the DoH TGA main shortage of tenecteplase (Metalyses) webpage.

Image source: AJP e-mag.

Strep A POCT set to safe lives

Instant diagnosis and treatment of potentially life-threatening Strep A infections is now very close to reality across Australia’s remote and regional areas thanks to molecular point-of-care testing (POCT) that slashes result times from five days to just minutes. Published today in the Medical Journal of Australia, researchers from Telethon Kids Institute and their collaborators have shown that utilising POCT machines to fast-track diagnosis of group A streptococcal (Strep A) pharyngitis in kids has the potential to revolutionise prevention strategies for acute rheumatic fever (ARF) and rheumatic heart disease (RHD).

Strep A infections are often responsible for sore throats and painful skin infections, which can lead to irreversible and potentially deadly heart and kidney damage if left untreated. Affecting remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians at some of the highest rates in the world, the key challenge in the prevention of ARF and RHD has been timely diagnosis and treatment of Strep A to minimise the risk of serious complications and stop the spread of infection throughout communities.

To view the Telethon Kids Institute media release Point-of-care Strep A tests set to save lives in remote settings in full click here.

Image source: Telethon Kids Institute.

Call to restore child and family centre funding

The Albanese Federal Government has an opportunity to demonstrate its commitment to Closing the Gap for our children by reinstating funding in the October Budget for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander child and family centres. The Abbott Government cut funding in 2014 to 38 Aboriginal Child and Family Centres (ACFCs), undermining efforts to ensure Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children had the best start in life through accessing community-controlled early childhood education and services.

SNAICC CEO Catherine Liddle said the ACFCs represented a considerable investment from COAG and the sector was still feeling the impacts of the cuts. “While some State and Territory Governments took up parts of the funding challenge, many ACFCs struggled to keep operating as integrated community-controlled early years services.”

To view the SNAICC media release Restore funding to Close the Gap for our Children in full click here.

Bubup Wilam Aboriginal Child and Family Centre
Thomastown, Melbourne. Image source: Hayball website.

ADHA seeking applications

The Australian Digital Health Agency (the Agency) is seeking applications, through a Request for Tender process, for suitably qualified, experienced, and interested individuals to join our group of expert advisors who will support the Agency’s program of work.

Digital Health Expert Advisors are critical to this role and support the Agency by applying everyday health industry experience to the design, development and implementation of Agency products and services. This includes focusing on the clinical safety, quality and usability of all products and services developed by the Agency, and the systems within which the Agency operates.

  • Subject matter expertise: contributing clinical and/or digital health subject matter expertise into the Agency’s work program to ensure that our products, services and activities align with contemporary clinical practice and are high quality, clinically safe and usable;
  • Strategic advice: providing strategic advice within their area(s) of expertise, on approaches, processes, services and products, via participation in expert committees, advisory groups and other forums;
  • Advocacy and engagement: advocating and engaging with the broader clinical and consumer communities on the establishment and adoption of a national digital health infrastructure and representing the Agency in this regard; this may include conferences and media appearances;
  • Information and education: participating in the development and presentation of clinical messaging, education and adoption activities, and materials; and
  • Other activities: undertaking other activities as directed that aim to raise awareness and promote adoption and use of digital health products, services, and systems nationally.

The Request for Tender has now been released, via Austender, with applications closing Monday 19 September 2022.

To access the Australian Digital Health Agency website click here and to access the Digital Health Expert Advisor position details click here.

Sector Jobs

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

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