NACCHO Aboriginal Health News – ‘we must incorporate justice into health care’

feature tile: text: 'we must incorporate justice into health care' Donnella Mills NACCHO Chairperson - Aboriginal flag painted on brick wall, scales of justice vector image in yellow centre of flag and vector image of stethoscope around yellow circle centre of flag

‘We need to incorporate justice into health care’

According to Donnella Mills, who is the managing lawyer at LawRight Community Legal Centre, Chair of NACCHO, sits on James Cook University Council and is the project lawyer for the Wuchopperen Health Justice Partnership, “we need to incorporate justice into health care.”

Mills was central to the establishment of the Wuchopperen Health Justice Partnership, a partnership between Wuchopperen Health Service (Cairns) and LawRight that sees lawyers provide free legal advice, referral and casework to clients of the health service. “I kept seeing this missing link, we were talking about family wellbeing, child protection, youth detention, we were talking about issues around chronic disease and I just kept thinking how can we be delivering services when we are not connecting people to legal representation?” said Mills. “Our people will go to their ACCHO and tell their doctor about all of their concerns because the trust is there. The trust is not in the legal institution. We need to start talking about incorporating justice in the way we deliver primary health care.”

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

AHW trainee Darren Braun, Danila Dilba, Palmerston, Darwin NT. Image source: ABC News.

Aboriginal Health Worker trainee Darren Braun, Danila Dilba, Palmerston, Darwin NT. Image source: ABC News.

Vaccines a massive challenge for remote areas

Government health authorities are fine-tuning plans to distribute COVID-19 vaccines to remote and vulnerable Indigenous populations across Australia — a task an Aboriginal health organisation says is an unprecedented challenge.

remote community buildings with Uluru in background

There are an estimated 500 homelands and 70 remote communities in the NT alone — including Mutitjulu, at the base of Uluru. Image source: ABC News.

GP-led COVID-19 vaccine rollout

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) has welcomed government confirmation that GPs will be at the forefront of Australia’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout. RACGP President Dr Karen Price said GPs will play an important role in the vaccine rollout. “This is a massive undertaking for our country and GPs will be essential. The majority of Australians go to their GP for their vaccinations and for many Australians they will do the same for their COVID-19 vaccine. Vaccinations are one of the greatest success stories of modern medicine and GP-led vaccination programs have been at the forefront all along.”

To view the RACGP’s media release in full click here.

gloved health professional administering a vaccine into an arm

Image source: ABC News.

Peak bodies support COVID-19 vaccine strategy

The Australasian Society for Infectious Diseases (ASID), the Australasian College for Infection Prevention and Control (ACIPC), and the Public Health Association of Australia (PHAA) have come out in support of the Commonwealth Government’s COVID-19 vaccine strategy, stressing that concerns about the ability of any vaccines to create herd immunity were not justified at this stage of the process. Immediate Past President of ASID Professor Josh Davis, ACIPC President Associate Professor Philip Russo, and PHAA President, Professor Tarun Weeramanthri said we need to wait until the Therapeutic Goods Administration has completed its review process of the available vaccines.

To view the media release in full click here.

open cardboard box with hundreds of vials of COVID-19 vaccines

Image source: Science News.

Supermarket profits before Aboriginal health

The NT government has caved in to liquor lobby pressure and imperilled the health of First Nations People by approving a Dan Murphy’s Darwin mega-store for Woolworths and lifting the licence cap for Coles.  According to Professor Lesley Russell and Dr Jeff McMullen the Aboriginal communities will pay the price with their health.

To view the full article published by Michael West Media Independent Journalists click here.

shipping container with spray painted Aboriginal flag heart & word Bagot, superimposed with logos for Woolworths and Dan Murphy's

Image source: BlackBusiness.

Back on Track diabetes campaign

Diabetes Australia and the National Diabetes Services Scheme will launch a new health campaign called Back on Track. The campaign has been developed on the back of research which shows that in the last year many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people disengaged from their routine diabetes and health care management plans due to social distancing, fear of exposure to COVID-19, and a focus on other priorities.

The Back on Track campaign is specifically targeted to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to encourage them to get ‘back on track’ with their diabetes self-care in 2021. It has been designed to provide practical, culturally appropriate and engaging messaging to encourage people to reconnect with their diabetes health. The messaging acknowledges that ‘things have been tough for everyone’ but that it is still important for people to look after themselves and look out for their friends and family too.

The steps to getting back on track (key messages) include:

  • Check in with our diabetes health team
  • Check our blood sugar and take our medications
  • Check that we are eating healthy food and being active every day
  • Check that we are looking after each other and taking time to look after ourselves.

Back on Track with our diabetes campaign banner

New diabetes research centres

The Medical Research Futures Fund will provide $10 million each for two new research centres to address diabetes and cardiovascular disease through the Targeted Translation Research Accelerator. The aim of the centres is to produce rapid improvements in preventing, treating and curing diabetes and cardiovascular disease, and their complications. A further $18 million of funding will go to support translational research projects in these areas.

To view the media release in full click here.

researcher looking down through a microscope, superimposed with transparent images of the cells

Image source: Australian Government Department of Health.

NACCHO housing for health position paper

Housing is a key determinant of health, yet Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people face a range of issues that prevent them from accessing housing that is affordable, adequate, safe and sustainable. Overcrowding is increasingly prevalent, making household members further susceptible to the burden of disease, psychological distress and other health and wellbeing issues. The COVID-19 pandemic is a stark reminder of the importance of housing for maintaining health and slowing and stopping the spread of disease. Significant Australian, state and territory government leadership and investment is urgently needed to Improve housing and health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

To view NACCHO’s housing policy position paper in full click here.

Walpiri Transient Camp, Katherine (NT) rudimentary tin dwellings in a poor state

Walpiri Transient Camp, Katherine (NT). Image source: The Conversation.

NSW – Wyong – Yerin Aboriginal Health Services Limited

Aboriginal Family Preservation Manager

Yerin Aboriginal Health Services Limited is looking to employ an Aboriginal Family Preservation Manager to provide high-quality management and leadership to the Family Preservation team so they can meet all required legal and practice standards for Family Preservation. This position will provide high quality culturally responsive leadership and management practices that focus on supporting effective, flexible, high quality, child-focused, and family-focused, culturally responsive interventions and supports so that our children and young people can remain safely with their families.

To view the position description and to apply click here. Applications close 9:00 am Wednesday 27 January 2021.Yerin Eleanor Duncan AHS logo

QLD – Toowoomba & Warwick – Carbal Medical Services

Aboriginal Health Worker x 2

Carbal Medical Services (Carbal) is a not-for-profit, charitable organisation that provides health services to members of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities in and around Toowoomba and Warwick. The core function of Carbal is to provide medical services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people through two medical practices and over 17 community programs covering the regions of Darling Downs and Southern Downs.

Carbal is seeking to fill two Aboriginal Health Worker positions based in Warwick and Toowoomba.

To view the position description and to apply click here.

Applications close COB Friday 5 February 2021.Carbal Medical Services logo, words & snake

NT – Darwin – Menzies School of Health Research

Champions4Change Project Coordinator – 6 months FT contract, possible extension

RHDAustralia supports the prevention, diagnosis and management of acute rheumatic fever (ARF) and rheumatic heart disease (RHD) in Australia. RHDAustralia is based at the Menzies School of Health Research and is funded under the Australian Government’s Rheumatic Fever Strategy. The Champions4Change (C4C) program is a culturally safe support program for people living with ARF and RHD. With support from RHDAustralia, the program is run by people from across Australia with the lived experience of ARF and RHD, designed and led by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and communities. The C4C Project Coordinator will contribute to the conceptual development of the C4C program using experience-based, co-design approaches, and will implement core components of the program.

For more information and the position description click here.

Applications close Friday 22 January 2021.Menzies School of Health Research logo, words plus dot with 3 concentric circles orange black white

NSW – Blacktown/Campbelltown – OzChild

Aboriginal Practice Lead – identified position

OzChild in Blacktown/Campbelltown is looking for an Aboriginal Practice Lead to join its team. The position will be a part of the Dhiiyaan Mirri (family of stars), OzChild’s Bridging Cultures Unit (BCU) and will support the Functional Family Therapy Child Welfare (FFT-CW), Multi systemic Therapy for Child Abuse and Neglect (MST-CAN) and Treatment Foster Care Oregon (TFCO) Teams at Blacktown and Campbelltown. The position will be based a minimum of 2 days per week at each location, however this can be flexible based on need.

The Aboriginal Practice Lead Position within OzChild will work to ensure that participating First Nation families can benefit from these Evidence Based Models (EBMs), and from time to time other programs that OzChild may deliver. The Aboriginal Practice Lead will also facilitate access and receive support in a timely and culturally responsive manner.

Working with OzChild’s Teams, for the effective delivery of OzChild Services to First Nations Children, Young People and their Families/Kin/Carers, the Aboriginal Practice Lead will contribute from intake through to completion (when required) to the provision of culturally responsive services and a culturally safe working environment through consultation and engagement with OzChild staff, First Nations Peoples, stakeholders and relevant Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations.

For more information and the position description click here.

Applications close Thursday 28 January 2021.two Aboriginal young girls, one kissing the other on the cheek, OzChild logo

NSW – Newcastle – University of Newcastle

Senior Lecturer in Nursing – FT x 1

The teaching team within the School of Nursing and Midwifery is led by award winning academics who are all specialists in their fields of practice and committed to teaching and learning strategies which develop and enhance nursing knowledge, and the full range of clinical and interpersonal skills needed by nurses and midwives to function as effective practitioners. The School enjoys a close collaboration with local area health services in providing clinical learning experiences for students, in the provision of graduate programs and in the conduct of clinical research. The aim is to prepare and develop nurses to function in a wide range of clinical settings, health facilities and rehabilitation services.

A vacancy exists for a full-time ongoing position located either at the Callaghan Campus or Central Coast, with an expectation to work across the Callaghan and Ourimbah (transitioning to Central Coast in mid-2021, subject to ANMAC approval) campuses as well as online.

In this role, you will promote and foster a collaborative, dynamic, productive and globally competitive research environment through research collaboration, external grant income, publication outputs, and research higher degree graduates. The promotion of excellence in teaching and learning through appropriate curriculum development and delivery is also a key requirement of this role.

For more information and the position description  click here.

Applications close Sunday 14 February 2021.University of Newcastle logo white on black vector of horse head and external image of the uni

NSW – southern NSW – Murra Mia Tenant Advocacy Service 

Tenant Advocates – FT x 2

Murra Mia Tenant Advocacy Service (Southern NSW Aboriginal TAAS) is seeking  two motivated Tenancy Advocates to engage with Aboriginal tenants whose tenancies are identified as at risk and provide a range of interventions.

For more information and the position description click here.

Applications close Wednesday 27 January 2021.outline of NSW, top black, bottom red, middle yellow house, state surrounded by red dots

feature tile text 'partnering withACCHOs key to tackling health disparity', painting of brick wall with Aboriginal flag overlaid with hand holding stethoscope for yellow centre of flag

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Partnering with ACCHOs key to tackling health disparity

feature tile text 'partnering withACCHOs key to tackling health disparity', painting of brick wall with Aboriginal flag overlaid with hand holding stethoscope for yellow centre of flag

Partnering with ACCHOs key to tackling health disparity

The Heart Foundation has welcomed a NSW Government announcement of a $7.4 million investment towards its Closing the Gap commitment. “Investing in and partnering with Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations, as well as enabling them to lead the way, is key to tackling the conditions of disadvantage that affect Indigenous Australians, such as housing and health,” said Heart Foundation Group CEO, Adjunct Professor John Kelly AM. “This commitment also recognises that community and Indigenous leadership is a pivotal step forward in Closing the Gap and ending rheumatic heart disease (RHD) for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. “The NSW Government’s expansion of the Aboriginal Community Controlled organisations in the key sectors of early childhood, housing, disability and health is a step closer to making sustainable change to close the gap.

To view the full article click here.

Weigelli Centre Aboriginal Corporation metal sign

Image source: Aboriginal Medical Research Council of NSW website.

Record high vaccination rates

More Australian families are vaccinating their children, with new figures showing four quarters of growth in all childhood coverage rates to September 2020, the highest on record. Each year, the Morrison Government invests more than $400 million in the National Immunisation Program to protect young and vulnerable Australians. The highest rates of vaccination are among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children at five years, at more than 97%. The coverage rate for all five-year-olds continues to grow towards the aspirational 95% target. In the year to September 2020, it reached 94.9%. Among all two-year-old children, the coverage rate has risen to almost 92.4 per cent, which is the first time it has climbed above 92 per cent since 2014. The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander two-year-old vaccination rate has also risen to almost 91.2 per cent in the current quarter.

To view the media release  click here.

NSW $7.4m for new National CTG Agreement

The NSW Government has announced funding of $7.4 million as a first step to begin state-based actions to support the National Agreement on Closing the Gap. Minister for Aboriginal Affairs Don Harwin confirmed this new investment at the 400th meeting of the NSW Aboriginal Land Council (NSWALC), held at Broken Hill. “This investment demonstrates the NSW Government’s commitment to achieving a critical priority under the Closing the Gap National Agreement – strengthening the capacity of Aboriginal Community Controlled organisations,” Mr Harwin said.

To view the media release click here.

Closing the Gap banner Aboriginal art black and white hands thumbs interlocked

Image source: Wellington Aboriginal Corporation Health Service.

Better hospital healthcare free webinar

Australian Healthcare & Hospitals Association (AHHA), with support from HESTA, is presenting a free webinar on better healthcare in hospitals for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people during NAIDOC week. The webinar will cover the latest research from Australia and North America on how hospitals can deliver better care. Following the presentations a Q&A session will be facilitated by AHHA Strategic Programs Director. 

Webinar: Better healthcare in hospitals for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people

Date:  0.30 am – 11.30 am Thursday 12 November 2020 (EDST).

To register for the free webinar click here.

female Aboriginal patient, Aboriginal support person and Aboriginal health worker in hospital room

Image source: Creative Spirits website.

Changing the future of heart health

Heart disease is one of Australia’s biggest health problems, representing one in four of all deaths, with over one thousand people a day hospitalised and costing the economy $7 billion each year.

Monash University is aiming to change the future of heart health, with the establishment of the Victorian Heart Institute (VHI), which will focus on training and leading a future focused workforce, extensive research and innovation to deliver measurable change in the rates of heart disease in Australia. The Institute will be located within the Victorian Heart Hospital (VHH) upon its completion in 2022. The VHH is a collaborative partnership between the Victorian Government, Monash Health and Monash University and will be Australia’s first stand-alone heart hospital and research facility. 

To mark the launch of the Victorian Heart Institute and explore the important issues around heart health, Monash University will be hosting a free live event A Different Lens: Matters of the Heart at 7.30 pm on Thursday 5 November 2020 with leading experts in heart disease. For more information about the event and how to join click here.

National health campaign: How’s Your Head Today? 

A national COVID-19 mental health campaign How’s your head today? is being rolled out to urge people to prioritise their mental health, raise awareness about how to identify when something is wrong, and encourage people to seek help. The campaign has been launched on TV, radio, in shopping centres and venues, online and through social mediaand will continue through to next year. How’s your head today? encourages all Australians to check in with how they are feeling. Through animated characters, the campaign recognises the emotions many people are feeling and illustrates the actions they can take to help themselves feel better.

To view the media release click here.

Greg Inglis' face & text 'I want people to know that they're not alone'

Greg Inglis opens up about mental health battles. Image source: ABC Australian Story.

Stars Foundation program for young women

Students at Newman Senior High School will be among the first in WA to take part in a motivating mentoring program for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander girls and young women. The pilot of the Stars Foundation program would run at Newman Senior High School and Butler College in Perth. Stars Foundation staff will work with the school communities this year to identify the needs of the students before the program starts in 2021. The Stars Foundation program provides mentoring and targeted support to improve the health and education outcomes of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander girls and young women. The program at Newman Senior High School will operate full time in a dedicated ‘Stars Room’ supporting students to develop their confidence, self-esteem and the life skills needed for school and beyond.

To view the full article click here.

close up face of Aboriginal young girl with Aboriginal face paint and Stars Foundation logo

Image source: Stars Foundation Facebook page.

Community pharmacies critical role during disasters

The report of the Royal Commission into National Natural Disaster Arrangements has acknowledged the critical role played by community pharmacies during disasters. The report also called for the inclusion of primary healthcare workers, including pharmacists, in disaster management and planning bodies. The report says Australian, State and Territory Governments “should develop arrangements that facilitate greater inclusion of primary healthcare providers in disaster management, including: representation on relevant disaster committees and plans, and providing training, education and other supports”.

Elsewhere the report highlights the importance of community pharmacists and other healthcare providers by stating they are generally the main point of contact that Australians have with the health system. “They are the entry level to the health system and are a broad group, including general practitioners, pharmacists, Aboriginal health workers, nurses and allied health professionals. Primary care providers have valuable local knowledge and strong connections with the communities they support,” the report says. The importance of continued dispensing during emergencies also is highlighted in the report.

To view the full article click here.

male and female Aboriginal people with pharmacy sign

Image source: The Conversation.

Lung cancer symptoms

Lung cancer remains the fourth most commonly diagnosed cancer in Australia and the most common cause of cancer death according to Australian Institute of Health and Welfare data. Smoking is linked to as many as 80 per cent of lung cancers with current smokers almost nine times more likely to develop lung cancer than people who have never smoked.

November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month and the WA is community is being reminded of the symptoms of lung cancer and what to do if they notice any unusual changes to their body. The Cancer Council WA Cancer Prevention and Research Director, Melissa Ledger, said many people don’t realise a cough which lasts for three weeks or more needs to be investigated. “If you have a long standing cough that worsens or changes for three weeks or more, it needs to be investigated,” Ms Ledger said. “If you have repeated chest infections, you notice you are becoming more short of breath or lacking energy, and have had any of these symptoms for more than four weeks, they should be investigated too. “If you cough up blood – even once – it’s really important to visit your doctor, clinic nurse or Aboriginal health worker right away to find out the cause. “It doesn’t mean you’ve got cancer, often it turns out to be something less serious, though,” she says. “Remember, the chances of successful treatment are much higher when cancer is found early,” Ms Ledger said.

To view the Cancer Council WA’s full article click here.

David Gulpilil with image of his younger self as an actor on a computer screen in the background

In July 2019 Yolngu traditional dancer and actor David Gulpilil revealed he was dying from lung cancer. Image source: SBS NITV.

Culturally secure community services funding

The WA McGowan Government has allocated an immediate additional $1.2 million to deliver workforce development in the mental health, alcohol and other drug community sector. This initial suite of programs will support workforce development in key areas identified by peak bodies, service providers, stakeholders and consumers and carers. They cover key focus areas of need including building the peer workforce; Aboriginal culturally secure services; building capacity in trauma-informed care; and providing employment pathways.

The programs follow the release of the WA Mental Health, Alcohol and Other Drug Workforce Strategic Framework 2020–2025, which outlines priority areas and principles to guide the growth and development of the mental health, alcohol and other drug workforce in WA. The workforce development program will include future phases and will support peer workers, the Aboriginal workforce, clinicians, counsellors, social workers and more who assist and care for people with mental health, alcohol and other drug issues.

To view the media release click here.

Aboriginal painting of a head with footprints across the head

Image source: NSW Governement SafeWork website.

CTG education target will improve health

The new National Agreement on Closing the Gap has a higher education target for the first time. It’s also the first time an agreement between governments on Indigenous issues was negotiated and signed by Indigenous Australians. The Coalition of Aboriginal Peak Organisations represented Indigenous Australians. Endorsed by the National Cabinet on July 30 this year, the 10-year agreement replaces the 2008 National Indigenous Reform Agreement. The higher education target is for 70% of Indigenous Australians between 25 and 34 years of age to have a tertiary qualification by 2031.

In 2016, 42.3% of Indigenous Australians in this age group had tertiary qualifications at the target’s required level. The proportion had more than doubled from 18.9% in 2001. By contrast, however, 72% of non-Indigenous Australians had such qualifications in 2016. Achieving higher Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander education levels has a flow on impact of improvements in other CTG targets including health, child protection, housing, employment, community safety, language and land.

To view the full article click here.

11 Aboriginal graduates Cooktown Townsville

Image source: The Bouverie Centre.

Housing and health linked

The World Health Organisation has always been interested in housing as one of the big “causes of the causes”, of the social determinants, of health. The WHO launched evidence-based guidelines for healthy housing policies in 2019. Australia is behind the eight ball on healthy housing. Other governments, including in the US, UK and NZ acknowledge housing as an important contributor to the burden of disease. These countries have major policy initiatives focused on this agenda. In Australia, however, we do housing and we do health, but they sit in different portfolios of government and aren’t together in the (policy) room often enough. Housing should be embedded in our National Preventive Health Strategy.

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced us to rethink how we approach health and protect our populations. It has amplified social and economic vulnerability. The pandemic has almost certainly brought housing and health together in our minds. Housing – its ability to provide shelter, its quality, location, warmth – has proven to be a key factor in the pandemic’s “syndemic” nature. That is, as well as shaping exposure to the virus itself, housing contributes to the social patterning of chronic diseases that increase COVID-19 risks.

To view the full article click here.

Aboriginal art from APY lands SA showing poor living environment

Image source: Health Habitat Housing for health website.

Medicines Australia-NACCHO Committee seeks representatives 

Consumer representatives are being sought to participate in the Medicines Australia-NACCHO Committee. As the national leadership body for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health in Australia NACCHO provides advice and guidance to the Australian Government on policy and budget matters while advocating for community-developed health solutions that contribute to the quality of life and improved health for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Medicines Australia leads the research-based medicines industry of Australia. Its members discover, develop and manufacture prescription medicine products, biotherapeutic products and vaccines that bring health, social and economic benefits to Australia.

NACCHO and Medicines Australia have established a Committee to lead and support medicine related measures that improve health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander clients and communities. The role of the Committee is to provide advice for projects, programs and services in addressing the medicines priorities and challenges faced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people across Australia. The Committee is comprised of representatives from the ACCH sector, including NACCHO, and from Medicines Australia and its members. 

The Committee is now recruiting for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander consumer representatives.

Interested consumers will have some experience with the health system and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander consumer issues. The appointment is for a twelve-month term, with the possibility of extension.  The meetings will be held quarterly and are virtual. If you are interested, please email a letter of endorsement from a supporting health consumer organisation with discussion of your links to health consumer base and/or community using this link. You may consider including a short CV (no longer than two pages) in pdf format. The deadline is COB 16 November 2020.

The nominations will be reviewed by a small panel of NACCHO and Medicines Australia representatives and based on a set of criteria related to the consumer’s skills, knowledge and experience. Please contact NACCHO here if you have any questions.

range of multi-coloured pills

Image source: Australian Journal of Pharmacy website.

NSW – Taree – Biripi Aboriginal Corporation Medical Centre

Aged Care Manager

Biripi Aboriginal Corporation Medical Centre (BACMC) provides a wide range of culturally-appropriate health and well-being services covering communities across the mid-northern NSW region. BACMC have a vacancy for an Aged care Manager who will responsible for the day to day management of the Aged Care team to meet the strategic goals of BACMC.

To view the job description click here. Application close 9.00 am Monday 9 November 2020.Biripi Aboriginal Corporation Medical Centre banner

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: World Heart Day – NACCHO calls for RHD action

RHD call to action on World Heart Day

The National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) is marking this World Heart Day with a call to action to oversee the implementation of the rheumatic heart disease (RHD) Endgame Strategy to end the high prevalence of RHD in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. The ‘RHD Endgame Strategy: the blueprint to eliminate rheumatic heart disease in Australia by 2031’ was launched by The Hon. Greg Hunt, MP, Minister for Health, alongside Professor Jonathan Carapetis AM, senior author of the Strategy and Ms Pat Turner AM, CEO of NACCHO on Thursday, 24 September 2020.

Over 5,000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are living with the effects of acute rheumatic fever, the precursor to RHD, or have RHD. If action is not taken now, it is estimated another 8,000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children will develop ARF or RHD, in the next ten years. Pat Turner announced, “98% of people who get RHD are our people. I call for that cycle of infection, disease, and tremendous sadness to end.  We know what needs to be done, and we know that it can be done. Our shared vision is that no child born in Australia from this day forward dies of RHD.”

To view the NACCHO media statement click here.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: RHD finally on the verge of elimination

RHD Endstrategy feature tile & small Aboriginal girl making heart shape with her hands, Aboriginal woman and teenage Aboriginal boy standing behind girl, all in front of a large tree

Rheumatic Heart Disease finally on the verge of elimination

Australia now has an evidence-based approach to achieve the national goal of eliminating rheumatic heart disease (RHD) within a decade.

The Endgame Strategy was launched by The Hon. Greg Hunt, MP, Minister for Health, alongside Professor Jonathan Carapetis AM, senior author of the Strategy and Ms Pat Turner AM, CEO of the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation by webinar today, Thursday 24 September.

More than 5,000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are living with rheumatic heart disease (RHD) – for which there is no cure – or its precursor, acute rheumatic fever. This deadly, yet entirely preventable, heart disease taking the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people is finally on the verge of elimination thanks to new research released today. Implementation of the RHD Endgame Strategy, an evidence-based approach, could prevent 8,000 new RHD cases and 650 deaths by 2031 and achieve the national goal of eliminating RHD within a decade.

A deadly yet entirely preventable heart disease taking the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people is finally on the verge of elimination thanks to new research released today.

The RHD Endgame Strategy: the blueprint to eliminate rheumatic heart disease in Australia by 2031, has been five years in the making and pairs research by leading infectious diseases specialists with the knowledge and experience of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders across the country.

Produced by the End Rheumatic Heart Disease Centre of Research Excellence (END RHD CRE), based at Perth’s Telethon Kids Institute, with the backing of 25 leading health and research organisations – including the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) – the report clearly sets out the steps needed to eliminate the disease.

The Aboriginal Community Controlled Health sector was heavily involved in development of the Strategy, with Ms Pat Turner AM, CEO of the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) and Lead Convenor of the Coalition of the Peaks, saying that tackling RHD was a priority for communities.

Images and Video Source Credit: Telethon Kids Institute

“Our people are telling us that they want to use research evidence to help choose community-driven solutions to tackle RHD,” Ms Turner said.

“Kids are coming off country for months at a time for surgery, people are dying before their time. We’ve got the community demand, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leadership – and with the Endgame Strategy, a culturally appropriate and meaningful plan.

“What we need now is funding and commitment to actually do the work on the ground to make ending this disease possible.

“It really is unconscionable to let the next generation of our children develop this disease – to be subjected to heart surgery, a needle every month, and have their life expectancy limited by decades – when we know how to stop this.”

Professor Carapetis agreed, highlighting that without a catalytic investment, the Commonwealth Government was unlikely to meet its commitment to eliminate the disease by 2031.

“The Commonwealth Government has been open about their commitment to eliminating RHD within the next decade, so we hope that with the release of the Endgame, we now have the final piece of the puzzle needed to make this shared vision a reality,” Professor Carapetis said.

To view the media release in full click here.

To view a snapshot of the RHD Endgame Strategy click here.

CEO of NACCHO and Co-Chair of END RHD Pat Turner AM spoken earlier today about the significance of the RHD Endgame Strategy. She said it is “a world-leading project for researchers to walk with us and make the commitments to end rheumatic heart disease a reality.” She called for that cycle of infection, disease and tremendous sadness to end, saying “We know what needs to be done, and we know that it can be done. Our shared vision is that no child born in Australia from this day forward dies of RHD.”

Pat Turner’s RHD Endgame Strategy launch full speech can be viewed here.

Vicki O’Donnell, Chairperson of the Aboriginal Health Council of Western Australia (AHCWA), praised the RHD Endgame Strategy launch saying “Absolutely awesome launch of the RHD Strategy. So proud to be a part of better outcomes for our kids and families in the future.”

Aged just seven, Tenaya underwent emergency life-saving surgery to repair her heart valve as a result of developing rheumatic heart disease (RHD), the leading cause of cardiovascular inequality for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in Australia. Watch the story in the link below

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: RHD Endgame Strategy virtual launch this Thursday, 24 September at 9am

RHD Endgame Strategy virtual launch

The End Rheumatic Heart Disease Centre of Research Excellence (END RHD CRE) invites you to attend the virtual launch of the RHD Endgame Strategy: The blueprint to eliminate rheumatic heart disease in Australia by 2031.

You can join the session this Thursday 24 September via Zoom, as the Strategy is launched by The Hon. Greg Hunt, MP, Minister for Health, alongside Ms Pat Turner AM, CEO of NACCHO, and Professor Jonathan Carapetis AM, leading RHD expert and senior author of the RHD Endgame Strategy.

In Australia over 5,000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are living with RHD, and without urgent action, it is estimated that this number will more than double by 2031. The Endgame Strategy assesses existing and potential strategies to both prevent the next generation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children from developing RHD; and improve the quality of life and outcomes for those already living with the disease.

9.00–9.30 am AEST – Thursday, 24 September 2020 – Zoom webinar

Registration is essential, so secure your spot by clicking here.

RHD Endgame Strategy launch banner

WA – East Perth and Mirrabooka

FT Aboriginal Liaison Officer x 2

Derbarl Yerrigan Health Service has two Aboriginal Liaison Officer positions available. The primary responsibility of the role is to provide support, care co-ordination and advocacy to Aboriginal clients who are admitted to, already in or are being discharged from hospitals, and are Derbarl Yerrigan clients.

To view the position description click here. Applications close 5.00 pm Monday 28 September 2020.

Derbarl Yerrigan Health Service logo & photo of employee at office desk answering the phone

Image source: Derbarl Yerrigan Health Service website.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health Research Alert : @HealthInfoNet releases Summary of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health status 2019 social and cultural determinants, chronic conditions, health behaviours, environmental health , alcohol and other drugs

The Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet has released the Summary of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health status 2019

This new plain language publication provides information for a wider (non-academic) audience and incorporates many visual elements.

The Summary is useful for health workers and those studying in the field as a quick source of general information. It provides key information regarding the health status of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people across the following topics:

  • social and cultural determinants
  • chronic conditions
  • health behaviours
  • environmental health
  • alcohol and other drugs.

The Summary is based on HealthInfoNet‘s comprehensive publication Overview of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health status 2019. It presents statistical information from the Overview in a visual format that is quick and easy for users to digest.

The Summary is available online and in hardcopy format. Please contact HealthInfoNet by email if you wish to order a hardcopy of this Summary. Other reviews and plain language summaries are available here.

Here are the key facts

Please note in an earlier version sent out 7.00 am June 15 a computer error dropped off the last word in many sentences : these are new fixed 

Key facts

Population

  • In 2019, the estimated Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population was 847,190.
  • In 2019, NSW had the highest number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people (the estimated population was 281,107 people, 33% of the total Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population).
  • In 2019, NT had the highest proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in its population, with 32% of the NT population identifying as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islanders
  • In 2016, around 37% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people lived in major cities
  • The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population is much younger than the non-Indigenous population.

Births and pregnancy outcomes

  • In 2018, there were 21,928 births registered in Australia with one or both parents identified as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander (7% of all births registered).
  • In 2018, the median age for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mothers was 26.0 years.
  • In 2018, total fertility rates were 2,371 births per 1,000 for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women.
  • In 2017, the average birthweight of babies born to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mothers was 3,202 grams
  • The proportion of low birthweight babies born to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mothers between 2007 and 2017 remained steady at around 13%.

Mortality

  • For 2018, the age-standardised death rate for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in NSW, Qld, WA, SA and the NT was 1 per 1,000.
  • Between 1998 and 2015, there was a 15% reduction in the death rates for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in NSW, Qld, WA, SA and the NT.
  • For Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people born 2015-2017, life expectancy was estimated to be 6 years for males and 75.6 years for females, around 8-9 years less than the estimates for non-Indigenous males and females.
  • In 2018, the median age at death for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in NSW, Qld, WA, SA and the NT was 2 years; this was an increase from 55.8 years in 2008.
  • Between 1998 and 2015, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander infant mortality rate has more than halved (from 5 to 6.3 per 1,000).
  • In 2018, the leading causes of death among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in NSW, Qld, WA, SA and the NT were ischaemic heart disease (IHD), diabetes, chronic lower respiratory diseases and lung and related cancers.
  • For 2012-2017 the maternal mortality ratio for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women was 27 deaths per 100,000 women who gave birth.
  • For 1998-2015, in NSW, Qld, WA, SA and the NT there was a 32% decline in the death rate from avoidable causes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 0-74 years

Hospitalisation

  • In 2017-18, 9% of all hospital separations were for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
  • In 2017-18, the age-adjusted separation rate for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people was 2.6 times higher than for non-Indigenous people.
  • In 2017-18, the main cause of hospitalisation for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people was for ‘factors influencing health status and contact with health services’ (mostly for care involving dialysis), responsible for 49% of all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander seperations.
  • In 2017-18, the age-standardised rate of overall potentially preventable hospitalisations for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people was 80 per 1,000 (38 per 1,000 for chronic conditions and 13 per 1,000 for vaccine-preventable conditions).

Selected health conditions

Cardiovascular health

  • In 2018-19, around 15% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people reported having cardiovascular disease (CVD).
  • In 2018-19, nearly one quarter (23%) of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults were found to have high blood pressure.
  • For 2013-2017, in Qld, WA, SA and the NT combined, there were 1,043 new rheumatic heart disease diagnoses among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, a crude rate of 50 per 100,000.
  • In 2017-18, there 14,945 hospital separations for CVD among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, representing 5.4% of all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander hospital separations (excluding dialysis).
  • In 2018, ischaemic heart disease (IHD) was the leading specific cause of death of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in NSW, Qld, WA, SA and the NT

Cancer

  • In 2018-19, 1% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people reported having cancer (males 1.2%, females 1.1%).
  • For 2010-2014, the most common cancers diagnosed among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in NSW, Vic, Qld, WA and the NT were lung cancer and breast (females) cancer.
  • Survival rates indicate that of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in NSW, Vic, Qld, WA, and the NT who were diagnosed with cancer between 2007 and 2014, 50% had a chance of surviving five years after diagnosis
  • In 2016-17, there 8,447 hospital separations for neoplasms2 among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people
  • For 2013-2017, the age-standardised mortality rate due to cancer of any type was 238 per 100,000, an increase of 5% when compared with a rate of 227 per 100,000 in 2010-2014.

Diabetes

  • In 2018-19, 8% of Aboriginal people and 7.9% of Torres Strait Islander people reported having diabetes.
  • In 2015-16, there were around 2,300 hospitalisations with a principal diagnosis of type 2 diabetes among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people
  • In 2018, diabetes was the second leading cause of death for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
  • The death rate for diabetes decreased by 0% between 2009-2013 and 2014-2018.
  • Some data sources use term ‘neoplasm’ to describe conditions associated with abnormal growth of new tissue, commonly referred to as a Neoplasms can be benign (not cancerous) or malignant (cancerous) [1].

Social and emotional wellbeing

  • In 2018-19, 31% of Aboriginal and 23% of Torres Strait Islander respondents aged 18 years and over reported high or very high levels of psychological distress
  • In 2014-15, 68% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15 years and over and 67% of children aged 4-14 years experienced at least one significant stressor in the previous 12 months
  • In 2012-13, 91% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people reported on feelings of calmness and peacefulness, happiness, fullness of life and energy either some, most, or all of the time.
  • In 2014-15, more than half of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15 years and over reported an overall life satisfaction rating of at least 8 out of 10.
  • In 2018-19, 25% of Aboriginal and 17% of Torres Strait Islander people, aged two years and over, reported having a mental and/or behavioural conditions
  • In 2018-19, anxiety was the most common mental or behavioural condition reported (17%), followed by depression (13%).
  • In 2017-18, there were 21,940 hospital separations with a principal diagnosis of International Classification of Diseases (ICD) ‘mental and behavioural disorders’ identified as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander
  • In 2018, 169 (129 males and 40 females) Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in NSW, Qld, WA, SA, and the NT died from intentional self-harm (suicide).
  • Between 2009-2013 and 2014-2018, the NT was the only jurisdiction to record a decrease in intentional self-harm (suicide) death rates.

Kidney health

  • In 2018-19, 8% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people (Aboriginal people 1.9%; Torres Strait Islander people 0.4%) reported kidney disease as a long-term health condition.
  • For 2014-2018, after age-adjustment, the notification rate of end-stage renal disease was 3 times higher for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people than for non-Indigenous people.
  • In 2017-18, ‘care involving dialysis’ was the most common reason for hospitalisation among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
  • In 2018, 310 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people commenced dialysis and 49 were the recipients of new kidneys.
  • For 2013-2017, the age-adjusted death rate from kidney disease was 21 per 100,000 (NT: 47 per 100,000; WA: 38 per 100,000) for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in NSW, Qld, WA, SA and NT
  • In 2018, the most common causes of death among the 217 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who were receiving dialysis was CVD (64 deaths) and withdrawal from treatment (51 deaths).

Injury, including family violence

  • In 2012-13, 5% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people reported having a long-term condition caused by injury.
  • In 2018-19, 16% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15 years and over had experienced physical harm or threatened physical harm at least once in the last 12 months.
  • In 2016-17, the rate of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander hospitalised injury was higher for males (44 per 1,000) than females (39 per 1,000).
  • In 2017-18, 20% of injury-related hospitalisations among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people were for assault.
  • In 2018, intentional self-harm was the leading specific cause of injury deaths for NSW, Qld, SA, WA, and NT (5.3% of all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander deaths).

Respiratory health

  • In 2018-19, 29% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people reported having a long-term respiratory condition .
  • In 2018-19, 16% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people reported having asthma.
  • In 2014-15, crude hospitalisation rates were highest for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people presenting with influenza and pneumonia (7.4 per 1,000), followed by COPD (5.3 per 1,000), acute upper respiratory infections (3.8 per 1,000) and asthma (2.9 per 1,000).
  • In 2018, chronic lower respiratory disease was the third highest cause of death overall for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in NSW, Qld, WA, SA and the NT

Eye health

  • In 2018-19, eye and sight problems were reported by 38% of Aboriginal people and 40% of Torres Strait Islander people.
  • In 2018-19, eye and sight problems were reported by 32% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander males and by 43% of females.
  • In 2018-19, the most common eye conditions reported by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders were hyperopia (long sightedness: 22%), myopia (short sightedness: 16%), other diseases of the eye and adnexa (8.7%), cataract (1.4%), blindness (0.9%) and glaucoma (0.5%).
  • In 2014-15, 13% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, aged 4-14 years, were reported to have eye or sight problems.
  • In 2018, 144 cases of trachoma were detected among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children living in at-risk communities in Qld, WA, SA and the NT
  • For 2015-17, 62% of hospitalisations for diseases of the eye (8,274) among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people were for disorders of the lens (5,092) (mainly cataracts).

Ear health and hearing

  • In 2018-19, 14% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people reported having a long-term ear and/or hearing problem
  • In 2018-19, among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children aged 0-14 years, the prevalence of otitis media (OM) was 6% and of partial or complete deafness was 3.8%.
  • In 2017-18, the age-adjusted hospitalisation rate for ear conditions for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people was 1 per 1,000 population.

Oral health

  • In 2014-15, the proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children aged 4-14 years with reported tooth or gum problems was 34%, a decrease from 39% in 2008.
  • In 2012-2014, 61% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children aged 5-10 years had experienced tooth decay in their baby teeth, and 36% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children aged 6-14 years had experienced tooth decay in their permanent teeth.
  • In 2016-17, there were 3,418 potentially preventable hospitalisations for dental conditions for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander The age-standardised rate of hospitalisation was 4.6 per 1,000.

Disability

  • In 2018-19, 27% of Aboriginal and 24% of Torres Strait Islander people reported having a disability or restrictive long-term health
  • In 2018-19, 2% of Aboriginal and 8.3% of Torres Strait Islander people reported a profound or severe core activity limitation.
  • In 2016, 7% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with a profound or severe disability reported a need for assistance.
  • In 2017-18, 9% of disability service users were Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, with most aged under 50 years (82%).
  • In 2017-18, the primary disability groups accessing services were Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with a psychiatric condition (24%), intellectual disability (23%) and physical disability (20%).
  • In 2017-18, 2,524 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander National Disability Agreement service users transitioned to the National Disability Insurance Scheme.

Communicable diseases

  • In 2017, there were 7,015 notifications for chlamydia for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, accounting for 7% of the notifications in Australia
  • During 2013-2017, there was a 9% and 9.8% decline in chlamydia notification rates among males and females (respectively).
  • In 2017, there were 4,119 gonorrhoea notifications for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, accounting for 15% of the notifications in Australia.
  • In 2017, there were 779 syphilis notifications for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people accounting for 18% of the notifications in Australia.
  • In 2017, Qld (45%) and the NT (35%) accounted for 80% of the syphilis notifications from all jurisdictions.
  • In 2018, there were 34 cases of newly diagnosed human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Australia .
  • In 2017, there were 1,201 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people diagnosed with hepatitis C (HCV) in Australia
  • In 2017, there were 151 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people diagnosed with hepatitis B (HBV) in Australia
  • For 2013-2017 there was a 37% decline in the HBV notification rates for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
  • For 2011-2015, 1,152 (14%) of the 8,316 cases of invasive pneumococcal disease (IPD) were identified as Aboriginal and Torres Strait people .
  • For 2011-2015, there were 26 deaths attributed to IPD with 11 of the 26 deaths (42%) in the 50 years and over age-group.
  • For 2011-2015, 101 (10%) of the 966 notified cases of meningococcal disease were identified as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people
  • For 2006-2015, the incidence rate of meningococcal serogroup B was 8 per 100,000, with the age- specific rate highest in infants less than 12 months of age (33 per 100,000).
  • In 2015, of the 1,255 notifications of TB in Australia, 27 (2.2%) were identified as Aboriginal and seven (0.6%) as Torres Strait Islander people
  • For 2011-2015, there were 16 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people diagnosed with invasive Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) in Australia
  • Between 2007-2010 and 2011-2015 notification rates for Hib decreased by around 67%.
  • In 2018-19, the proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people reporting a disease of the skin and subcutaneous tissue was 2% (males 2.4% and females 4.0%).

NACCHO Aboriginal Health and Rheumatic Heart Disease #RHD : The new @RHDAustralia 2020 Australian guideline for prevention, diagnosis and management of ARF and RHD (3rd edition) focus is on placing people and their families and communities, at the centre of care

By refocusing on people with this disease, this guideline acknowledges Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ unique culture, and the social, economic and environmental circumstances in which they live.

The updated guideline identifies the systemic factors that drive disparities in best practice care delivery and offers culturally safe solutions.

We have come a long way from the first edition, and this journey has culminated in an important balance between cultural and clinical competence.”

RHDAustralia’s senior cultural advisor Vicki Wade was central in ensuring the new guideline addresses RHD as the leading cause of cardiovascular inequality and provide health professionals with a more holistic model of care

Read all Aboriginal Health and RHD articles published by NACCHO over the past 8 Years

Rheumatic Heart Disease Australia (RHDA) is proud to release the 2020 Australian guideline for prevention, diagnosis and management of acute rheumatic fever and rheumatic heart disease (3rd edition), available for download now at https://www.rhdaustralia.org.au/arf-rhd-guideline.

This website also houses several supporting resources, including a summary of the key changes from the 2nd edition, and an option to pre-order a printed version of the guideline.

Written by experts from across the country and developed in collaboration with key stakeholders and an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander advisory group, the 3rd edition will serve as the definitive guide to current ARF and RHD diagnosis and management in Australia, and contains significant changes and updates for clinicians to be aware of.

RHD APP

RHDA also has an app to assist clinicians in the diagnosis and management of ARF and RHD, available at: https://www.rhdaustralia.org.au/apps.

The app has been updated with content from the 3rd edition, and also contains an ARF Diagnosis Calculator which embeds the complex ARF diagnosis algorithms into a series of simple questions that assist clinicians to diagnose ARF.

If you already had the app on your phone, it should have automatically updated with the new content .

 

 

 

 

 

NACCHO Aboriginal Health and @END_RHD Our CEO Pat Turner and @jcarapetis deliver a heart-felt evidence-based Aileen Plant Oration @_PHAA_ #CDCConference2019 on Ending #RHD in Australia #ClosingTheGap

At END RHD, our vision is simple: that no child born in Australia today dies of rheumatic heart disease.

And in theory, it should be just that, simple, because RHD has already been eliminated in Australia’s non-Indigenous population. 94% of people who get RHD are our mob.

Despite widespread improvements to the living standards of most Australians, our First Nation’s people continue to experience disadvantage and conditions that perpetuate the spread of infectious diseases.

In my mind, there is no clearer example of a disease of disparity than rheumatic heart disease.

At NACCHO, we became a founding partner of END RHD not because this disease is a simple fix, but because it is hard.

Because it spans from housing, to clinics, to open heart surgery, and highlights the inequalities within the health system, and in outcomes. “

Pat Turner CEO NACCHO delivering this year’s Aileen Joy Plant Oration with END RHD Co-Chair, Professor Jonathan Carapetis. See Pats speech Part 2 below

Part 1 PHAA Press Release 

Download the full Press Release

PHAA RHD Press Release

The conference was run by the Public Health Association of Australia (PHAA) and delegates got a sneak preview on an end game strategy to rid Australia of RHD – a detailed report that is due for formal release early next year.

“It’s a strategy that relies on partnerships and empowering Indigenous people,” said Professor Jonathan Carapetis, Executive Director, Telethon Kids Institute

“The time has never been better for us to control this disease.”

Researchers are looking at new formulations so that sufferers don’t have to have monthly penicillin

injections for years. “An implant is being worked on,” Professor Carapetis said.

“For 25 years we’ve all been looking at silver bullets and not seeing improvements but we should have hope as we now pull together all we know especially the environmental determinants.”

“We should be able to reduce RHD prevalence by 70 percent,” Professor Carapetis said.

“It’s complex but not overwhelming. It involves multiple sectors and a comprehensive response.”

“The Australian Government is funding the development of a Strep A vaccine. There is progress in the field as we move towards a trial. But that won’t result in a vaccine for our kids for a decade.”

 

Part 2 Pat Turners Speech 

As an Aboriginal woman of Gurdanji-Arrernte heritage, I wish to acknowledge the Ngunnawal people as the traditional owners of the land where we meet today.

I also acknowledge our continuing and vibrant First Nation’s cultures. I am grateful for the contributions of our past, present, and emerging leaders.

Today, I stand here wearing two hats. As CEO of the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation – NACCHO – and as Co-Chair of END RHD, an alliance of peaks, community and research organisations committed to ending rheumatic heart disease in Australia.

It gives me great honour to be here today to deliver this year’s Aileen Joy Plant Oration with my END RHD Co-Chair, Professor Jonathan Carapetis.

RHD begins with a sore throat or a skin sore caused by Strep A.

For our children, these are common infections – but the impact can last a lifetime.

A lifetime which, too often, is cut short.

There is no cure for RHD, but patients must undergo a painful injection of antibiotics every 28 days for at least a decade to keep their heart as strong as possible. Some must also undergo surgery to have their heart valves replaced or repaired.

In our work to close the gap, there are many priorities. Our people are telling us that. There is just so much to be done, we can’t afford to have ‘favourite’ diseases.

But RHD sticks out. It is the greatest cause of cardiovascular inequality for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in this country. Non-Indigenous people, literally, just don’t get it.

In the Kimberley, the average age of death of people living with RHD is just 41 years old. This is a chronic, life-limiting disease… and it starts from a skin sore or sore throat.

We get it because of crowded houses. Because a lot of our people don’t always have access to hot water. To showers that work. To washing machines that aren’t broken.

We get it because our clinics are overwhelmed with demand, and sometimes skin sores and sore throats go untreated.

We get it because acute rheumatic fever gets missed and sometimes it is too late for treatment.

At NACCHO, we became a founding partner of END RHD not because this disease is a simple fix, but because it is hard. ( Partners in this image )

Because it spans from housing, to clinics, to open heart surgery, and highlights the inequalities within the health system, and in outcomes.

Because tackling this disease offers a way to significantly close the gap.

We are fighting to prevent the next generation of our children experiencing this needless suffering. And we are fighting for our people already living with the disease.

Kids like Tenaya, who you can see in this photo

Read Tenaya’s full story Here

You wouldn’t know it from that gorgeous smile, but when I met Tenaya at the start of the year, she had recently been flown down to Perth in a critical condition suffering from heart failure. Her mother had taken her to the local hospital three times, and each time she had been sent home.

The fourth time, her mother refused to leave until she was flown to Perth, where upon arrival, she was rushed to the intensive care unit and put on life-support for two weeks.

A month later, when she was strong enough, she underwent two rounds of open-heart surgery.

Tenaya is seven years old. And she’ll need monthly injections until she is twenty-one. Most likely, she’ll need further surgery too.

She bears both the physical scars of her surgery, and the emotional scars of months spent away from friends, family and her community.

Her mum says that every time she sees a nurse she bursts into tears, terrified.

And on top of all of that, her family have been forced to make the tough decision to move off country to be closer to the specialist medical treatment needed to keep her alive.

The fact that this suffering was caused by a preventable disease is horrifying.

The fact that RHD persists in a country as wealthy as Australia is a national shame.

The fact that without urgent investment, it’s predicted another 10,000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children will develop the disease by 2031, is unconscionable.

We cannot let it happen.

Our people know what needs to happen to end RHD in this country.

In fact, community-driven work is already underway across Australia.

Our communities are rising. They are demanding support.

In March this year, a historic Partnership Agreement on Closing the Gap was signed between COAG and the Coalition of Peaks, and a joint council was formed of which I am Co-Chair.

This means that now, for the first time, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, through their peak body representatives, will share decision making with governments on Closing the Gap.

The Partnership Agreement embodies the belief of all signatories that:

  • When Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are included and have a real say in the design and delivery of services that impact on them, the outcomes are far better;
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples need to be at the centre of Closing the Gap policy: the gap won’t close without our full involvement; and
  • COAG cannot expect us to take responsibility and work constructively with them to improve outcomes if we are excluded from the decision making.

Rheumatic heart disease exemplifies the gap in health outcomes between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and non-Indigenous Australians.

And we know that by addressing the causes, we can also eliminate other linked conditions that unfairly blight our people such as scabies, otitis media, and kidney disease.

We cannot, and will not, close the gap without ending rheumatic heart disease.

Right now, we have the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leadership and community demand to tackle this disease.

We have a commitment from government to equal partnership in our work to close the gap.

And with over 25 years of research behind us, we have a strong evidence-base to support this community-driven work.

 

 

NACCHO Aboriginal Health and @END_RHD #NACCHOAgm19 #ClosingTheGap #HaveYourSayCTG : Our CEO Pat Turners speech ” #RHD the greatest cause of cardiovascular inequality for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in this country. “

 ” Thank you for that introduction and warm welcome, and a special thank you to Minister Hunt for his commitment to Closing the Gap.

It is wonderful to stand here on the land of the Larrakia people in a room filled with such strength; with representation from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people from around the country, all with a common goal: to improve the health and wellbeing of our mob.

Today I’m up here wearing two hats.

As CEO of NACCHO, and as Co-Chair of END RHD – an alliance of peaks, community and research organisations leading the work to end rheumatic heart disease in Australia.”

NACCHO CEO Pat Turner at NACCHO Members Conference see Part 1 Full Speech 

“Today is a game-changing step. Ending RHD is a critical, tangible target to close the gap in Indigenous life expectancy.

Our Government is building on the work of the Coalition to Advance New Vaccines Against Group A Streptococcus (CANVAS) initiative, by providing $35 million over 3 years to fund the creation of a vaccine that will bring an end, once and for all, to RHD in Australia.

The trials and development, led by Australia’s leading infectious disease experts and coordinated by the Telethon Kids Institute, will give hope to thousands of First Nations people whose lives and families have been catastrophically affected by this illness.”

The funding was announced in early 2019 by Indigenous Health Minister Ken Wyatt AM is being provided from the Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF).

Read NACCHO Aboriginal Health and RHD Articles Here

 “Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people know what works best for us.

We need to make sure Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander voices are reflected and expertise is recognised in every way at every step on efforts to close the gap in life outcomes between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and other Australians.’

‘The Coalition of Peaks is leading the face to face discussions, not governments.

The Peaks are asking Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to tell us what should be included in a new Closing the Gap agreement and we will take this to the negotiating table.’”

Closing the Gap / Have your say CTG online survey closes today Friday, 8 November 2019 see survey link Part 2 below

Part 1 Pat Turners Speech 

Most of you will know too well the devastation that rheumatic heart disease is causing to our people. Some of you will have lost family members and friends to RHD; some of you yourselves will be living with the disease; and as Aboriginal health workers, a lot of you will be the ones on the frontline administering the monthly injections that prevent heart failure, stroke, and death.

END RHD’s vision is simple: that no child born in Australia today dies of rheumatic heart disease. And in theory, it should be just that, simple, because RHD has already been eliminated in Australia’s non-Indigenous population. 94% of people who get RHD now are our mob.

It’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children who are most at risk of developing RHD – our kids, kids as young as five have open heart surgery. And without critical investment, the number of our mob living with the disease will triple to 15,000 over the next 11 years. That figure represents another 10,000 of our children developing a deadly disease that is preventable. We cannot let it happen.

Today, my END RHD Co-Chair, Professor Jonathan Carapetis, is going to talk about the RHD Endgame Strategy – a plan for us to prevent these unnecessary deaths; to eliminate the disease by 2031.

After him, we’ll hear from Raychelle McKenzie and her mother Noeletta. Raychelle was diagnosed with RHD aged 8. Half her life she’s been living with RHD, getting monthly injections to keep her heart strong.

But first, I want to tell you why ending RHD is so important to me.

As Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health professionals, the range of issues that require our urgent attention is extensive. Doing everything means that we rarely choose to focus on a single disease. There is so much to be done, we can’t afford to have ‘favourite’ diseases.

But RHD sticks out. It’s the greatest cause of cardiovascular inequality for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in this country.

We get it because of crowded houses, because a lot of our people don’t always have access to hot water, to showers that work, to washing machines that aren’t broken.

We get it because our clinics are overwhelmed with demand and sometimes skin sores and sore throats go untreated. We get it because rheumatic fever gets missed and sometimes it is too late for treatment.

At NACCHO, we became a founding partner of END RHD not because this disease is a simple fix, but because it is hard. Because it spans from housing to clinics to open heart surgery and exemplifies the gaps in the health system and in outcomes.

We are focusing on this disease because the only possible solution is a comprehensive, Indigenous-led, primary care-based strategy of both prevention and treatment.

Our people know what needs to happen to end RHD in this country. In fact, community-driven work is already underway across Australia; our communities are rising, demanding action, demanding support to prevent the next generation experiencing this unnecessary suffering.

But what we’ve been missing, is a blueprint that ties it all together. A collaborative strategy, involving community, government and research, that outlines what needs to happen, who needs to do it, and what it’s going to cost. A plan that has been informed by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and communities – our perspectives and expertise – and aligns with the community-controlled work and principles of the Coalition of the Peaks.

And that’s exactly what this RHD Endgame Strategy offers. If fully funded and implemented, not only will this strategy eliminate RHD, it will significantly help close the gap in health outcomes. Because by addressing the root causes of RHD, we will also eliminate other linked conditions like scabies, ear infections, and kidney disease that unfairly blight our people.

The RHD Endgame Strategy is research with an impact; a solution to RHD that we can all be part of, and I ask you all to get behind it.

Part 2 Closing the Gap / Have your say CTG online survey closes today Friday, 8 November 2019.

 

The engagements are now in full swing across Australia and this is generating more interest than we had anticipated in our survey on Closing the Gap.

The Coalition of Peaks has had requests from a number of organisations across Australia seeking, some Coalition of Peak members and some governments for more time to promote and complete the survey.

We want to make sure everyone has the opportunity to have their say on what should be included in a new agreement on Closing the Gap so it is agreed to extend the deadline for the survey to Friday, 8 November 2019.

This will help build further understanding and support for the new agreement and will not impact our timeframes for negotiating with government as we were advised at the most recent Partnership Working Group meeting that COAG will not meet until early 2020.

There is a discussion booklet that has background information on Closing the Gap and sets out what will be talked about in the survey.

The survey will take a little bit of time to complete. It would be great if you can answer all the questions, but you can also just focus on the issues that you care about most.

To help you prepare your answers, you can look at a full copy here

The survey is open to everyone and can be accessed here:

https://www.naccho.org.au/programmes/coalition-of-peaks/have-your-say/

NACCHO Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health and #WorldHeartDay #ClosingTheGap : NACCHO and the @END_RHD Coalition highlights #RHD Rheumatic Heart Disease as a leading cause of cardiovascular inequality for our mob

“ With Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people being 122 times more likely to have RHD than other Australians, it has become a priority issue for us to confront. In some of our communities, the average age of death from RHD is just over 40 years of age.

These statistics alone speak to the urgency of increased comprehensive and collaborative action.

We want to put ourselves in the strongest position to end this disease over the coming decades.

NACCHO Chief Executive Officer and Co-Chair of END RHD , Ms Patricia Turner AM

Read / Download full NACCHO Press Release HERE

What causes Rheumatic Heart Disease (RHD)? see Part 2 below

Photo above: In February 2019, NACCHO also welcomed an announcement from the Hon Ken Wyatt AM, Minister for Indigenous Australians, that saw the Federal Government commit $35 million over three years to support the creation of a vaccine that could end RHD in Australia.

Read NACCHO RHD articles HERE

You can find lots of #WorldHeartDay resources like printable factsheets & infographics, to help educate, inspire & motivate people in your community to keep their hearts healthy

Download these Resources HERE

Read over 80 Aboriginal Heart Health articles published by NACCHO over past 7 Years

The National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) is marking World Heart Day by raising awareness of the high prevalence of rheumatic heart disease (RHD) in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

Over 4,500 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are living with the effects of acute rheumatic fever, the precursor to RHD, or have RHD. If action is not taken now it is estimated another 10,000 will have developed ARF or RHD by 2031.

NACCHO is a founding member of END RHD, an alliance of health, research and community organisations seeking to amplify efforts to end rheumatic heart disease in Australia through advocacy and engagement.

To affirm the continued effort by NACCHO and its members to eradicate this disease, NACCHO encourages all Australians to show their support by pledging their commitment to ending RHD on the END RHD website: https://endrhd.org.au/take-action/.

RHD can have devastating effects and is a form of permanent heart damage which results from a throat or skin infection caused by Strep A bacteria.

Although it is most commonly experienced by individuals living in developing countries, Australia has some of the highest rates of the disease in the world, occurring almost exclusively in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

Full details of these 5 priorities HERE 

 

Part 2 What causes Rheumatic Heart Disease (RHD)?

What causes Rheumatic Heart Disease (RHD)?

When a child gets a group A streptococcal infection of the throat (known as strep throat), their body’s immune system, in trying to fight that infection, produces antibodies. Sometimes these antibodies, in addition to killing the strep, can damage their heart. Acute rheumatic fever can occur following an untreated strep throat infection and can cause irreparable damage to the major cardiac valves, known as rheumatic heart disease.

How common is RHD?

RHD is considered a third-world disease yet Australia has some of the highest rates in the world. About 3-5 per cent of Aboriginal people living in remote and rural areas have the condition. Children aged between 5 and 14 years are most likely to get rheumatic fever.

What are the risk factors of RHD?

Certain living conditions make streptococcal infections more likely. Known risk factors include poverty, overcrowding and limited access to medical care. It is thought that the bacteria may also enter the body through skin cuts and abrasions – so skin sores in a child should never be ignored.

What are the symptoms?

Damaged heart valves found in RHD mean the heart cannot work normally. Symptoms include heart murmur, chest pain, breathlessness, and swelling of face and legs. RHD can result in heart failure and premature death.

How is it diagnosed?

Rheumatic fever is not a straightforward diagnosis – there’s no single test but rather a checklist of symptoms, including heart inflammation, fever, painful joints and skin rash. Early diagnosis and taking preventative antibiotics can stop it developing into RHD. People with RHD require ongoing medical care, antibiotic treatment and possibly cardiac surgery.

The only effective way to stop rheumatic fever recurring is to have monthly penicillin injections, for 10 years or until the patient has turned 21.