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

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

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

Community-based organisations the way forward

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

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

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

front cover of the Overcoming Indigenous Disadvantage Key Indicators 2020 report

COVID-19 paves new ways for remote health

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

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

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

Aboriginal health worker and Aboriginal mum with Aboriginal baby

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

Condoman creater reflects on career

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

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

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

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

Meth use risk and protective factors

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

To view the details of the study click here.

silhouette of person smoking ice

Image source: SBS website.

 

Young voices challenge negative race perceptions

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

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

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

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

Image source: Healing Foundation website.

Health problems related to trauma

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

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

portrait of Healing Foundation CEO Fiona Petersen

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

Maari Ma mixed results for young people

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

To view the full report click here.

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

Image source: ABC News website.

Pioneer Indigenous doctor wins top WA gong

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

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

portrait photo of Professor Helen Milroy

Professor Helen Milroy. Image source: The Standard.

Locals unmoved by Dan Murphy’s new site

NRHA Board reflects diverse health skills

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

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

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

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

Nicole O’Reilly. Image source: NRHA website.

Palliative care at home project seeks input

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

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

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

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

Aboriginal woman holding a cuppa and caring at home logo

Image source: Brisbane South Palliative Care Collaborative website.

CRE-STRIDE scholarships available

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

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

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

NT – Alice Springs – Children’s Ground

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

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

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

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

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Perinatal mental health protective factors

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

Perinatal mental health protective factors

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

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

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

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

Image source: Centre of Perinatal Excellence website.

AHCWA launches Mappa platform

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

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

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

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

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

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

NACCHO supports HIV Awareness Week

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

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

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

8,000 Katherine patients without GP

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

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

To view the full article click here.

road sign Kathering 90 Alice Springs 1263

Image source: newsGP website.

Making the invisible visible

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

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

To view the related article published in newsGP click here.

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

Image source: newsGP.

World Scabies Program launched

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

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

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

To learn more about the World Scabies Program click here.

scabies mite under a microscope

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

2021 Eye Health Conference abstracts open

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

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

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

First signs of ear disease at 8 weeks

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

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

To view the full article click here.

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

Image source: Telethon Kids Institute.

NACCHO CEO makes Australians who mattered list

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

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

To view the full article click here.

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

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

Activism against gender-based violence video  

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

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

Dialysis trial focusing on culture

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

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

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

To view the full article click here.

#swab4mob campaign launch

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

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Community-led, wraparound solutions a better way to navigate child protection systems

feature tile - better ways to navigate child protection systems, black and white image of young Aboriginal girl from the back walking down a corridor

Better way to navigate child protection systems

This week the Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability is holding a hearing focused on the experiences of First Nations people with disability and their families in contact with child protection systems. Over recent months Health Justice Australia has engaged with the Royal Commission legal team about health justice partnerships and the role this collaborative model can play to support better outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families.

This engagement and Health Justice Australia’s written submission were drafted based on the experiences of practitioners within Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander-led health justice partnerships, and the perspectives of NACCHO.

To view the Health Justice Australia media release click here.

Aboriginal woman and Aboriginal child portrait shot

Image source: AbSec website.

Mental health first aid includes traditional knowledge

A couple on a mission, Joe and Natasha Collard are breaking the stigma around mental health through the Birrdiya Aboriginal Mental Health First Aid workshops. The proud Noongar duo run Birrdiya, an Aboriginal consultancy and advisory services company which provides a range of culturally appropriate services and solutions. The Perth-based organisation delivers Cultural Events Management, Cultural Awareness Training, Traditional Language Workshops and the Aboriginal Mental Health First Aid (AMHFA) Training.

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

Aboriginal woman and Aboriginal child portrait shot

Image source: AbSec website.

portrait shot of Joe and Natasha Collard

Joe and Natasha Collard. Image source: National Indigenous Times.

SWAMS petition for new medical hub

South West Medical Aboriginal Services (SWAMS) is calling on the WA state government to provide funding which would allow them to build a multi-faceted and holistic Health Hub for Aboriginal and Indigenous clients living in the South West. SWAMS CEO Lesley Nelson recently travelled to Perth to present a petition, signed by over 1,400 local residents, for funding to Bunbury MLA, Don Punch who has agreed to present it to Parliament.

Lesley Nelson said “SWAMS has outgrown our current facility in Bunbury and even after over 20 years of providing important culturally appropriate health care to the Aboriginal community in the South West and providing huge cost savings to the local public health system, we still do not have a place to call home, instead we spend copious amounts on rental premises.However, despite many applications for funding, completed business cases, visioning documents, environmental analysis and DA Approval being granted, SWAMS is yet to be given a commitment for funding from State or Federal Governments.”

To view the full article in the Bunbury Mail click here.

Bunbury MLA Don Punch with SWAMS CEO Lesley Nelson with the petition for WA State Parliament

Bunbury MLA Don Punch with SWAMS CEO Lesley Nelson with the petition for the WA State Parliament. Image source: Bunbury Mail.

Children still being separated from family

The rising tide of over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children removed from their families continues at an alarming rate, with the majority of those children permanently separated from their parents. The Family Matters Report 2020 reveals that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children continue to be removed from family and kin at disproportionate rates – disrupting their connection to community and culture.

Family Matters Chair Sue-Anne Hunter said,  “Our children are 9.7 times more likely to be living away from their families than nonIndigenous children, an over-representation that has increased consistently over the last 10 years. It is time to completely change this broken system that is not working for our kids.”
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children represent 37% of the total population of all children that have been removed from their parents – a staggering 20,077 children – but represent only 6% of the total population of children in Australia.  Without urgent action, the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in out-of-home care is projected to double by 2029.

To view the Family Matters media release click here.

Aboriginal man pushing young Aboriginal child on a tricycle in desert community

Image source: The Conversation.

Growing Stronger Together Award

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) 2020 Growing Stronger Together Award has gone to Dr Justin Hunter, a Wiradjuri man who grew up on Gumbaynggirr country and started his training here. The Growing Strong Together Award recognises an exceptional Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander GP in training.

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Awards are for going above and beyond to care for their patients and communities. Chair of RACGP Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health, Professor Peter O’Mara said “This year’s recipients are truly exceptional and an inspiration for our profession. Australia needs more Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander doctors like Dr Hunter – his hard work and passion have resulted in significant achievements at a very early stage in what I am sure will be a long and successful career.”

To view the full article in Coffs Coast Of the Area News click here.

portrait image Dr Justin Hunter

Dr Justin Hunter. Image source: Coffs Coast Of The Area News.

RACGP’s highest accolade winner

The annual Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) awards are designed to ‘recognise outstanding achievements and exceptional individuals for their contribution to general practice’. Associate Professor Brad Murphy, a GP at Ashfield Country Practice in Bundaberg, Queensland, and founding Chair of RACGP Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health, has been awarded the RACGP’s highest accolade ­– the Rose–Hunt Award.

‘It is the greatest honour to receive the Rose–Hunt Award. It is extremely humbling … to be among so many of the college’s legends and mentors I have had along the way. It is the 10th anniversary of us starting the national faculty of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health and I think it’s acknowledgement of the great work the team within the faculty have done,’ Professor Murphy said.

To read the full newsGP article click here.

portrait Associate Professor Brad Murphy

Associate Professor Brad Murphy. Image source: newsGP.

Dan Murphy’s megastore not wanted at any location

Helen Fejo-Frith says the Bagot Aboriginal community does not want a Dan Murphy’s store in Darwin — at any location — and that her feelings about it could not be any stronger. “We don’t want another [alcohol] outlet here, we’ve got enough as it is,” Ms Fejo-Frith said. “The message is as strong as I can put it.”

Ms Fejo-Frith, the Bagot community advisory group president, was one of the most vocal opponents to this initial proposal and feared the potential for harm if the large liquor outlet was within walking distance of her dry community. “For Bagot Road, we didn’t want it on there because we’ve seen so many people getting hit and deaths on that road and because of the alcohol,” Ms Fejo-Frith said.

To view the full article click here.

portrait Helen Fejo-Frith Bagot Aboriginal community

Helen Fejo-Frith. Image source: ABC News website.

Stay In Bed single drops

Naarm-based Wergaia / Wemba Wemba woman, Alice Skye has released her latest single and video “Stay in Bed”. The song was penned after a phone conversation with a friend and the realisation they were both experiencing difficult times of depression. The song’s relatable truths become an anthem of uplifting support to herself and those loved ones around her, reassuring them of the light that exists within and nearby. Alice Skye has a raw musicality, sensitivity and maturity well byong her years.

The single is available on Bad Apples Music, the prolific Indigenous record label founded by Yorta Yorta rapper Briggs. The label aims to use music as a platform for social change and fostering the talent of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists.

To read more about “Stay in Bed” and Alice Skye’s previous work click here.

moody filtered image of singer Alice Skye

Alice Skye. Image source: The Music Preview Guide to SXSW 2020.

New clinical training facility in Charleville

Bringing modern, best practice training for nursing, midwifery, and allied health students will be one of the important outcomes of the new Southern Queensland Rural Health (SQRH) clinical training facility recently opened in Charleville, Queensland. The new facility boasts a fully equipped clinical simulation lab, telehealth studios, clinical consultation rooms as well as videoconferencing equipped training rooms, meeting rooms, staff offices and an outdoor education area and will provide significant long-term health care support to the Charleville community and wider region

SQRH engages with the South West Hospital and Health Service; the Royal Flying Doctor Service Charleville; Charleville and Western Areas Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community Health; Cunnamulla Aboriginal Corporation for Health; and other community stakeholders to increase the number of students able to access rural and remote health experiences.

To view the full article click here.

photo of the new Southern Rural Health Clinical Training Facility, Charleville

Southern Rural Health Clinical Training Facility, Charleville. Image source: University of Southern Queensland website.

Bush fruit 50 times better than oranges

A Sydney doctor has praised the virtues of an Aussie bush fruit that’s got 50 times more vitamin C than an orange and is better at fighting the flu.

Dr Zac Turner said that during parts of his life, he’d dedicated time to learn about bush medicine from Indigenous Australians. Growing up, he said, he was lucky to live on farms in small rural communities like Bourke, Dubbo and Emerald where both his parents worked on the land as well as in youth support programs. During this time he had his first exposure to local bush medicine from some truly inspiring Aboriginal elders. Learning about these traditional medicines that have been shared and passed along for millennia was one of the key factors in Dr Turner wanting to study biomedical science and eventually medicine.

“We’ve known from tracing back in history that plant medicine has been used for quite some time – that’s more than 20,000 plus years if you factor in Aboriginal Australians. One of the fascinating things about this is that for a lot of us (including many doctors and avid bush enthusiasts) is that Australian bush medicine remains somewhat of a mystery. Indigenous knowledge is passed on through speaking, song and dance and as this practice is becoming more limited, we are at a significant cultural loss.”

To view the full article click here.

Aboriginal hands holding Kakadu Plums

Kakadu plum harvested by Kimberley Wild Gubinge. Image source: SBS website.

NSW government needs to address mental health needs

In 2019–2020, Aboriginal people in NSW have endured displacement and destruction of their communities due to bushfires, floods, drought, and COVID-19. Aboriginal people experience these traumatic events in addition to the transgenerational trauma that exists from colonisation, loss of land and language and Cultural practices.

The Aboriginal Health & Medical Research Council (AH&MRC) and its Member Services work to address the Social Emotional Wellbeing (SEWB) and Mental Health needs of Aboriginal people across NSW. Unfortunately, not all Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services in NSW have sufficient funding to ensure communities are kept safe and maintain resilience to manage the past, current, and emerging environmental challenges, and disparities. The AH&MRC, on behalf of the NSW ACCHO Sector, is calling for an increase in funding to provide and develop culturally appropriate SEWB and Mental Health services and programs.

To read the AH&MRC’s press release click here.AH&MRC logo

Remote health services COVID-19 response

The Australian Journal of Rural Health has a produced an issues paper called Remote health service vulnerabilities and responses to the COVID‐19 pandemic which looks at how the rapid response to the COVID‐19 pandemic in Australia has highlighted the vulnerabilities of remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities in terms of the high prevalence of complex chronic disease and socio‐economic factors such as limited housing availability and overcrowding.

The response has also illustrated the capability of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders and the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services Sector, working with the government, to rapidly and effectively mitigate the threat of transmission into these vulnerable remote communities. The pandemic has exposed persistent workforce challenges faced by primary health care services in remote Australia.

Specifically, remote health services have a heavy reliance on short‐term or fly‐in, fly‐out/drive‐in, drive‐out staff, particularly remote area nurses. The easing of travel restrictions across the country brings the increased risk of transmission into remote areas and underscores the need to adequately plan and fund remote primary health care services and ensure the availability of an adequate, appropriately trained local workforce in all remote communities.

To read the issues paper in full click here.

Utju Areyonga Clinic

Utju Health Service, NT. Image source: CAAC website.

feature tile text Australia's mental health system needs more than band-aids, band-aids over a wall crack

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Australia’s mental health system needs more than band-aids

feature tile text Australia's mental health system needs more than band-aids, band-aids over a wall crack

Mental health system needs more than band-aids

According to the Productivity Commission’s Mental Health Inquiry Report ‘Australia’s current mental health system is not comprehensive and fails to provide the treatment and support that people who need it legitimately expect.’ The report said Australia’s system of community supports was “ad hoc”, with services starting and stopping with little regard to people’s needs. The report identified a host of gaps and barriers  in Australia’s mental health system that lead to poor outcomes for people.

Importantly, the report recognised a disproportionate focus on clinical services – “overlooking other determinants of, and contributors to, mental health, including the important role played by family, kinship groups and carers, and providers of social support services, in facilitating a person’s functional recovery within their community”.

To view the full croakey article click here.

both hands over a face

Image source: UNSW Newsroom – UNSW Sydney.

Community-led rural health workforce model

A new community-driven workforce solution for Wentworth has been launched. Federal Regional Health Minister Mark Coulton said the new workforce solution will trial a collaborative health service to build high quality, sustainable health care for local patients: “We recognise that a one-size-fits all approach to health care doesn’t meet the unique needs of small, rural communities and that’s why we’re funding new collaborative health care models which are developed and driven by local communities. We know that patients in Wentworth have faced difficulties in accessing health care and this community driven model is an important step in creating a viable local health workforce. I congratulate the people of Wentworth and stakeholders, including the Coomealla Aboriginal Service, for working together to get this model up and running.”

The trial will investigate if viable practices may be better achieved by having a group of GPs, nurses and allied health professionals deliver health services across the region.

To view the full article click here.

Aboriginal painting Gathay nyilrun - Lets walk together, Artist Krystall Hurst of Gillawarra Arts

Gathay nyilrun – Lets walk together, Artist Krystall Hurst of Gillawarra Arts. Image source: Partyline – The magazine for Health and sustainable rural, regional and remote communities website.

White Ribbon Day is just the start

White Ribbon Day, Friday 20 November 2020, is an opportunity to raise awareness and commit to action to prevent men’s violence against women. White Ribbon Australia is asking people in workplaces, schools and communities all over Australia to stand up, speak out and act to end gendered violence. For more information about White Ribbon Day click here.
White Ribbon Day banner - ending violence against women Community by Community #WhiteRibbonDay - hand in background holding white ribbon badge to front of image

The Journey to Recovery

The recovery of all Australians affected by the 2019–20 Black Summer bushfires remains the number one priority for the National Bushfire Recovery Agency (NBRA). They are as committed now as they have ever been, to support this monumental recovery effort.

NBRA have launched Journey to Recovery. Journey to Recovery is made up of the real stories of the impact of the bushfires on people and their transition through relief to recovery with support from charities, the business community and all levels of government. And importantly, examples of individuals, communities, governments, private and not-for-profit sectors, working together to move toward longer term recovery.

The Journey to Recovery doesn’t replace the recovery plans of states and territories. Rather, it demonstrates the connections of how these plans connect, with Australian Government support, to be a nationally coordinated approach to recovery. Recovering from an event of this scale was never going to be easy, or quick, but real action is being seen across all impacted areas. Recovery is different for each community, and it’s done best when it’s led by locals.

To access the Journey to Recovery publication click here.

trunks of charred trees shooting new green leaves after the 2020 bushfires

Image source: National Bushfire Recovery Agency – Journey to recovery publication.

Cervical screening complacency

Pathology Awareness Australia has released new findings indicating a lack of knowledge and awareness of the Cervical Screening Test among Australian women.  The survey of over 600 women found that 13% did not know they were overdue for the test and 15% had never had a Cervical Screening Test, putting themselves at risk of developing the cancer. The findings also revealed that the vast number of women are not aware that the Cervical Screening Test is required every five years, or that the test only takes five minutes.

The findings are in line with National Cervical Cancer Awareness Week where organisations including Pathology Awareness Australia and the Australian Cervical Cancer Foundation are calling for Australian women to reengage with their healthcare providers to ensure they are informed about the importance of cervical screening and to speak to family and friends about the test.

To view the full article click here.

vector of hands on preqnant belly and hair falling down a woman's back overlaid with words cervical cancer is a disease of inequality

Image source: World Health Organisation Twitter.

National Homeless Collective founder wins award

Founder and CEO of the National Homeless Collective (NHC), Donna Stolzenberg has been awarded the 2021 Victoria Australian of the Year.  When Donna started @Sisters in Safe Housing (a NHC project) to support women experiencing homelessness to access safe, suitable and timely accommodation she knew a larger portion of clients would be, like herself, First Nations women.

Donna’s cultural background as a member of the Ngajtumay and Mirning people connects her to the systematic issues encountered by Indigenous Australians, who are sadly overrepresented in homelessness statistics. In 2019, 3.57% of Indigenous peoples were experiencing homelessness compared to 1.2% on non-Indigenous Australians. This means that 1 in 28 of all Aboriginal peoples have nowhere safe and suitable to live on our own land. 

For more information about the NHC click here and to listen to an ABC Radio Melbourne interview with Donna Stolzenberg about what the 2021 Victoria Australian of the Year Award means for her and her collective click here.

Liverpool Hospital launches antenatal clinic

The Binya Winyangara (which means pregnant mothers in Darug language) Clinic have been officially launched at Liverpool Hospital. The antenatal clinic provides culturally responsive care to pregnant Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and connects them to health and community services. The clinic’s Aboriginal registered midwife Kaarina Paasila said: “It’s important to make sure Aboriginal women are getting the right care and someone dedicated specifically to give them the confidence that they are being heard and looked after.”

To view the full Liverpool City Champion News article click here.

Aboriginal Liaison officer Kristy-Lee White, Binya Wiyangara Midwife Kaarina Paasila and Aboriginal Mental Health Worker for Perinatal & Infant Mental Health Service Heidi Duncan

Aboriginal Liaison Officer Kristy-Lee White, Binya Wiyangara Midwife Kaarina Paasila and Aboriginal Mental Health Worker for Perinatal and Infant Mental Health Service Heidi Duncan. Image source: Liverpool City Champion News.

Game changer for youth mental health

The BHP Foundation has partnered with the University of Sydney’s Brain and Mind Centre to change the way local communities in Australia invest in youth mental health and social care. The five-year program, commencing in 2021 ‘Right care, first time, where you live,’ will harness latest advances in systems modelling and simulation to guide national and local investments in sustained, coordinated and digitally enhanced youth mental health care. The locally designed dynamic systems models will be embedded in eight Primary Health Networks, which can act as a blueprint for the nation.

To view the full report click here.

painting - silhouette of a head against background of earth coloured triangles

Image source: Clinical Excellence Queensland website.

Health key to life satisfaction

Australians report high levels of life satisfaction but there are gaps – Indigenous Australians and the unemployed fare worse.  Measuring the material factors of people’s lives ­– like finances, work and health – can tell a lot about the state of Australian society and the policy challenges, but what are the things that matter most to people? To help answer this question we need to know not just what people have and don’t have, but how they feel – what researchers call subjective wellbeing.

The Household, Income and Labour Dynamics In Australia (HILDA) Survey asks this question of around 17,000 Australians every year. The results highlight the central importance of basic things like health and safety in life satisfaction, as well as social contact. Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians overall reported similar levels of life satisfaction in 2018, but there are relatively large differences in some important domains that suggest Indigenous Australians do worse. Compared to non-Indigenous people, Indigenous Australians report lower satisfaction with finances, housing and health.

To read the full article published by the University of Melbourne click here.

three Aboriginal women, one holding a young child in the back of a ute in the outback

Image source: Australian Geographic.

Identity and culture key to healing

The Healing Foundation has launched its second podcast in its new series on intergenerational trauma and healing. This latest episode explores what identity means to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander wellbeing and discusses how connection to culture plays an essential role in healing for young First Nations people and Stolen Generations descendants. The Healing Foundation CEO Fiona Petersen said the latest Healing Our Way podcast offered a unique perspective from young people on the importance of staying connected to culture and identity.

“The Healing Our Way podcast takes us on a journey with strong young minds as they share their lived experience on their journey to healing,” Fiona Petersen said. “Our people have always had the answers to their own healing. Now we’re asking our young people about their perspectives about what it’s been like to grow up as an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander person in Australia. These stories, our young people’s lived experience, is all part of the truth telling and part of Australia’s past and ongoing narrative.”

To view the Healing Foundation’s media release regarding their latest podcast click here and to read a transcript of Fiona Petersen’s related interview on ABC Radio Canberra Mornings click here.

Healing Our Way podcast promotional tile, microphone surrounded by Aboriginal dot painting circles

Image source: The Healing Foundation.

National Medicines Symposium 2020

NPS MedicineWise invites you to register for the National Medicines Symposium (NMS) 2020 to be held as fully virtual event on Monday 7 December 2020

With the theme Rising to the medication safety challenge, NMS 2020 will bring together influential organisations, individuals and decision makers within the health sector to discuss and consider collaborative approaches to improving medication safety that focus on the needs of the consumer. NMS 2020 will feature expert speakers including Prof Alex Broom, Prof Amanda Wheeler and Prof Clara Chow to provide the latest updates on medicine safety and the challenges being faced in the current health environment. Australian comedian Tim Ferguson facilitating the event.

Australian comedian Tim Ferguson sitting in his wheelchair with red velvet stage curtain in the background

Australian comedian Tim Ferguson. Image source: Serious Comedy.

Diabetes Education and Management Scholarship

The University of Technology Sydney (UTS) hopes to help increase the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people working in Diabetes Education and Management with its Diabetes Education and Management Scholarship. The scholarship aims to support an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander person studying the Graduate Certificate in Diabetes Education and Management at UTS Faculty of Health.

For details of the eligibility requirements for the scholarship and how to apply click here. Applications close Sunday 31 January 2021.

coloured clay figure with internal organs displayed

Image source: Diabetes Victoria.

NSW – Sydney – University of New South Wales – The Kirby Institute

Manager-Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Research

The Kirby Institute is a leading global research institute dedicated to the prevention and treatment of infectious diseases, with a long-standing program of research focusing on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health. An opportunity exists for a Manager, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Research, to play a leadership role in the development and implementation of an enhanced strategic commitment to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander-led research at the Kirby Institute.

This will involve the development of appropriate systems, policies, processes and a cultural framework to support and guide the Institute’s research in this area. The position will establish and manage strategic partnerships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations, communities and other relevant stakeholders including research organisations, policy makers and industry partners.

For further information about the position click here. Applications close Sunday 29 November 2020.

external image of the Kirby Institute UNSW

Image source: UNSW Sydney.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: World Prematurity Day 2020 – Life’s Little Treasures

World Prematurity Day 2020 - life's little treasures, image of Aboriginal father looking at baby in a humdicrib

World Prematurity Day 2020

Every year, 15 million babies are born premature worldwide. More than one million of these babies die, and many more facing serious, lifelong health challenges. Worldwide, one in 10 babies are born too early – more than 27,000 each year in Australia alone. The National average rate of preterm birth in Australia has remained relatively constant over the last 10 years (between 8.1 and 8.7%), however, for many Aboriginal babies, the news is far worse.

In an address to the National Rural Press Club, National Rural Health Commissioner Dr Ruth Stewart will explain that in 2018, 8.4 per cent of births in major cities were premature compared with 13.5 per cent in rural, remote and very remote Australia. “Those averaged figures hide pockets of greater complexity. In East Arnhem Land communities, 22 per cent of babies are born prematurely,” she will say. But she will argue it is an “urban myth” that the quality of rural maternity care and services is to blame. Rather, she will point to an ongoing decline in available services, clinics and skilled operators.

One solution she will present is the model of care developed through the Midwifery Group Practice on Thursday Island. That program has halved premature birth rates across the Torres Strait and Australia’s northern peninsula since 2015. Crucially, all women have access to continuity of care, or the same midwife throughout the pregnancy, and those midwives are supported by Indigenous health practitioners and rural generalists (GPs with a broad range of skills such as obstetrics).

November 17 is World Prematurity Day, a globally celebrated awareness day to increase awareness of preterm births as well as the deaths and disabilities due to prematurity and the simple, proven, cost-effective measures that could prevent them.

For further information about preterm birth in Aboriginal babies click here and to view the ABC Rural article mentioning the Midwifery Group Practice on Thursday Island click here.

World Prematurity Day 2020 - life's little treasures, image of Aboriginal father looking at baby in a humdicrib & logo of World Prematurity Day 2020 with vector image of white footprint and text November 17th & Get your purple on for prems

Image source: Australian Preterm Birth Prevention Alliance Twitter.

Narrative therapy helps decolonise social work

Social worker, educator and proud Durrumbal/Kullilli and Yidinji woman, Tileah Drahm-Butler, has found a narrative therapy approach resonates with Aboriginal practitioners and clients alike. For many Aboriginal people, the words ‘social work’ trigger the legacy of child removal and everything that comes with that. Social work is a colonised discipline that has had a problematic relationship with Aboriginal communities. Tileah was introduced to the practice of narrative therapy while working on ‘Drop the rock’ – a jobs and training program in Aboriginal communities that supported mental health service delivery and went on to complete a Masters in Narrative Therapy and Community Work. 

Tileah explains that for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, problems have come about from colonisation. So with clients, it is important to re-author – to move away from a medicalised, pathologised discourse to a story that tells of survival and resistance. Narrative therapy helps people to tell their strong stories and identify the skills and knowledge that they already have that can help them make the problem smaller. Tileah said ‘the problem is the problem’, is narrative therapy’s catchphrase. The person, the family, the community aren’t the problem.

To view the full article published by the University of Melbourne click here.

portrait photo of Tileah Drahm-Butler - senior social worker Cairns Hospital

Tileah Drahm-Butler. Image source: The Mandarin Talks.

Joint Council on CTG to meet

The Joint Council on Closing the Gap will meet this afternoon (17 November 2020) to discuss the implementation of the National Agreement on Closing the Gap. It will be the first time the Joint Council has met since the historic National Agreement on Closing the Gap came into effect on 27 July 2020.

The Joint Council will discuss the collective responsibilities for the implementation of the National Agreement on Closing the Gap; funding priorities for the joint funding pool committed by governments to support strengthening community-controlled sectors (Priority Reform Two); a revised Family Violence target and a new Access to Information target which reflect a commitment in the National Agreement to develop these two targets within three months of the Agreement coming into effect; and the first annual Partnership Health Check of the Partnership Agreement on Closing the Gap. The Health Check reflects the commitment of all parties to put in place actions and formal checks over the life of the 10-year Partnership Agreement to make sure that the shared decision-making arrangements strengthen over time.

To view the Coalition of Peaks media alert click here.

Minister Ken Wyatt & Pat Turner sitting at a desk with draft CTG agreement

Minister for Indigenous Australians Ken Wyatt and Co-Chair of the Joint Council on Closing the Gap Pat Turner. Image source: SBS News.

Facebook can help improve health literacy

Health literacy, which generally refers to the abilities, relationships and external environments required to promote health, is an influential determinant of health that impacts individuals, families and communities, and a key to reducing health inequities. New research is showing how Facebook can be a useful source of information – particularly when used in conjunction with other methods – to develop broader understandings of health literacy among young Aboriginal males in the NT, and to spark different conversations, policies and health promotion programs. 

The project, Health literacy among young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander males, led by the Menzies School of Health Research emerged from an understanding that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander males face multiple health and social inequities, spanning health, education and justice settings. Unfortunately, these health and social inequities start early in life and persist across different stages of their life-course. They are particularly pronounced for young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander boys and men.

The project found its participants were very open about sharing information about their health and wellbeing on social media — including the benefits of being on country and the importance of family and friends — and how this influenced their own health-related decision making.

To view the full article published in croakey click here.

three young Aboriginal men at Galiwinku, Elcho Island, NT, 2008

Young Aboriginal men, Galiwinku, Elcho Island, NT, 2008. Image source: Tofu Photography.

Clothing the Gap supports Spark Health

For view the full article and to access a link to an interview with Laura Thompson click here.

photo of Laura Thompson sitting in front of laptop at desk huge smile, arms outstretched

Laura Thompson delivering a Spark Health program. Image source: The Standard.

LGBTIQ mental health crisis

The Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations (AFAO) has called on the Commonwealth Government to develop a mental health and suicide prevention blueprint to tackle the crisis of unmet need within the LGBTIQ community and public investment in LGBTIQ health organisations. La Trobe University research found 57.2% of more than 6,000 surveyed lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer people were experiencing high or very high levels of psychological distress, while 41.9% reported thoughts about suicide over the past 12 months.

“Mental health in the LGBTIQ community is in crisis, and the La Trobe research makes it clear action and investment in LGBTIQ mental health and suicide prevention is sorely needed,” Darryl O’Donnell, CEO of AFAO, said. “Existing approaches aren’t working and LGBTIQ communities are paying the price.”

To view AFAO’s media release click here and the La Trobe University media release click here. To access the La Trobe University’s Private Lives 3 The Health and Wellbeing of LGBTIQ People in Australia report click here.

Aboriginal trans person with rainbow coloured plait

The Tiwi Islands Sistagirls at Mardi Gras. Image source: Balck Rainbow website.

Most kids in out-of-home care with kin

A new report by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) has found the majority of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in out-of-home care were living with relatives, kin or Indigenous caregivers in 2018–19. The report, The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Child Placement Principle Indicators (ATSICPP) 2018–19: measuring progress, brings together the latest state and territory data on five ATSICPP indicators that measure and track the application of the placement and connection elements of the framework. 

‘The ATSICPP is a framework designed to promote policy and practice that will reduce the over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in the child protection system,’ said AIHW spokesperson Louise York. As at June 2019, nearly two-thirds (63% or about 11,300 out of 18,000) of Indigenous children in out-of-home care were living with Indigenous or non-Indigenous relatives or kin or other Indigenous caregivers.

To view the full article click here.

Aboriginal mum kissing small child on the cheek at table of activities in outside setting

Image source: Family Matters website.

STI testing drops during COVID-19

Victorians are being urged to get tested for sexually transmissible infections (STIs), with new figures showing a concerning drop in STI notifications and testing during the coronavirus pandemic. New data from the Melbourne Sexual Health Centre shows a 68% drop in people without symptoms seeking STI testing this year. There are many types of STIs and most are curable with the right treatment, however, if left untreated, STIs can cause long-term damage, including infertility.

This week is STI Testing Week (16–20 November) – and as Victoria moves towards COVID Normal it’s the perfect time for everyone to consider their sexual health, have a conversation about STIs and get the important health checks they might have put off during the pandemic. To view the full article click here.

The Australasian Society for HIV, Viral Hepatitis and Sexual Health Medicine (ASHM) says the COVID-19 pandemic has forced Australia’s top experts in HIV and sexual health to drastically rethink our national response. Over 700 HIV and sexual health experts will gather (virtually due to the COVID-19) this week (16–20 November) for the joint Australasian HIV & AIDS and Sexual Health Conferences, run by the ASHM. To view ASHM’s media release click here

half peeled banana with red patch

Image source: Medicine Direct.

HMRI proud of health related initiatives 

Hunter Medical Research Institute (HMRI) has been helping researchers to undertake research that translates to better treatments and better access to health services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, including:

MRFF grant for Indigenous kid’s ear health

Associate Professor Kelvin Kong received a 5-year Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) grant to explore a telehealth ear, nose and throat (ENT) model, based in metropolitan, rural and regional Aboriginal community controlled health services, enabling improvement in Aboriginal children’s access to specialist ENT care and a reduction in the waiting time for treatment during the vital years of early childhood ear and hearing health.

Partners and Paternal Aboriginal Smokers’ project

Research Associate with the University of Newcastle and HMRI affiliated researcher, Dr Parivash Eftekhari, is running a first-of-its kind program to empower Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander fathers to quit smoking when their partner is pregnant, or if they have young children at home. The Partners and Paternal Aboriginal Smokers’ (PAPAS) project is key in improving children’s health by supporting fathers to have smoke-free homes.

To access further information about these research projects and to download the Indigenous Healthy: Eliminating the Gap seminar held earlier this year click here.

Professor Kelvin Kong presenting at Indigenous Health - Eliminating the Gap virtual seminar

Professor Kelvin Kong. Image source: HMRI website.

Mt Isa Hospital opens new Indigenous family rooms

North West Hospital and Health Service has unveiled its newly built family rooms at the Mount Isa Hospital. The family rooms, situation near the hospital’s Emergency Department are a culturally appropriate space where Indigenous patients and their families can meet, rest or engage with specialist hospital staff. Christine Mann, Executive Manager of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health said the facility was a spacious place close to the hospital for use by families, “We have a lot of sorry business around here and regrettably we are outgrowing the hospital, so this place is spacious enough to accommodate families. This is a place where they can come and have a cup of tea and have family meetings.”

To view full article in The North West Star click here.

9 Aboriginal women cutting red ribbon to Mt Isa Hospital family rooms

Image source: The North West Star.

General Practice: Health of the Nation report

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) has released its General Practice: Health of the Nation report, an annual health check-up on general practice in Australia. Chair of RACGP Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health, Professor Peter O’Mara, said the report contains many positive signs for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health.

“It is important not to just dwell on the problems confronting healthcare for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people,” he said. “On the workforce, education and training front there is very good news. In 2018, there were 74 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander GPs registered and employed – an increase from 50 in 2015. In 2020, there are 404 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander medical students – this has increased from 265 in 2014. This year 121 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students started studying medicine, which is a 55% increase over the past three years. Nearly 11,000 members have joined the RACGP’s National Faculty of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health, which to me shows real interest and engagement.”

To view the full article click here.

Associate Professor Peter O'Mara

Associate Professor Peter O’Mara. Image source: RACGP Twitter.

Prison language program linked to better health

A new Aboriginal Languages in Custody program has been launched at Boronia Pre-release Centre for Women where up to 30 Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal prisoners will be taught Noongar, the official language of the Indigenous people of the south-west of WA. The program will be created and delivered by the Perth-based Noongar Boodjar Language Cultural Aboriginal Corporation and rolled out to Hakea Prison, Bunbury Regional Prison and the rest of the state’s jails in four stages from late 2020 to the first quarter of 2021. 

WA Corrective Services Minister Francis Logan said “There is an intrinsic link between language and culture so this new program aims to help Aboriginal prisoners reconnect with their own people, practices and beliefs. Research shows that teaching Aboriginal languages leads to positive personal and community development outcomes, including good health and wellbeing, self-respect, empowerment, cultural identity, self-satisfaction and belonging.”

To view the related Government of WA media release click here.

Aboriginal painting of Aboriginal person with Aboriginal art and english words in the backgrouns

Image source: ABC News.

Dispelling outdated HIV myths webinar

In the lead up to World AIDS Day on 1 December 2020 Positive Women Victoria will host a ground breaking webinar. A panel of women living with HIV, including Yorta Yorta woman Michelle Tobin, will be  joined by a leading Australian infectious diseases physician, to share stories and knowledge about how this fact has transformed their lives and discuss issues around motherhood, sex, and relationships. The webinar will introduce audiences to more than 20 years of scientific evidence confirming that when antiretroviral treatment is used, and levels of HIV cannot be detected in blood, HIV is not transmitted during sexual contact or to a baby during pregnancy and childbirth. There is also growing evidence that supports mothers with HIV with an undetectable viral load and with healthcare support can also breastfeed their baby. 

For more information about the webinar on Thursday 7.00 pm – 8.30 pm (AEDT) 26 November 2020 and to register for the webinar click here.

portrait shot of Yorta Yorta woman Michelle Tobin

Yorta Yorta woman Michelle Tobin. Image source: AFAO website.

Fully subsidised online antibiotic resistance program

An exciting opportunity exists for 12 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health care professionals to enrol in the inaugural Hot North Antimicrobial Academy 2021. The Antimicrobial Academy is a fully subsidised 9-month online program for Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander health care workers (pharmacists, doctors, nurses or Aboriginal Health Practitioners) to build on their understanding and expertise in antibiotic resistance and to support further leadership of antibiotic use in our communities.

Further details are available here.

Submissions close Monday 30 November 2020.Tropical Australian Academic Health Centre & Hot North Improving Health Outcomes in the Tropical North Antimicrobial Academy 2021 banner

Vision 2030 Roadmap open for consultation

The National Mental Health Commission is inviting you to participate in a guided online consultation to inform the content and recommendations of the Vision 2030 Roadmap.

This online consultation forms part of the Commission’s stakeholder engagement approach to ensure that the Vision 2030 Roadmap incorporates as wide a range of experience as possible when developing evidence-based responses to mental health and psychosocial wellbeing.

Through special interest meetings and external expertise, the Commission has identified a number of priority areas for inclusion in the Roadmap. The online consultation asks you to consider the impact of Vision 2030 on you and identify your needs in its implementation.

More information on Vision 2030, including video recordings of the ‘Introducing Vision 2030 Blueprint and Roadmap’ webinars is available at the Commission’s website. The Vision 2030 Roadmap guided online consultation can be accessed here.

Now is your chance to get involved. This consultation opportunity is open to all until Friday 4 December 2020.purple tile text 'have your say - online consultation now open - VIsion 2020 AUstralian Government National Mental Health Commission' vector map of Australia with magnifying glass image surrounding the map

 

Feature tile 9.11.20 The Pharmacy Guild of Australia promote importance of NAIDOC Week, NAIDOC Week logo

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Pharmacy Guild promotes importance of NAIDOC Week

Feature tile 9.11.20 The Pharmacy Guild of Australia promote importance of NAIDOC Week, NAIDOC Week logo

Pharmacy Guild promotes NAIDOC Week

The Pharmacy Guild of Australia’s Executive Director Suzanne Greenwood has released an editorial about the importance of NAIDOC Week as the annual celebration of the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples saying that NAIDOC Week is celebrated not only in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities but by Australians from all walks of life in what is a national coming-together in cultural recognition and respect.

This year’s NAIDOC Week theme Always Was, Always Will Be, aims to recognise that First Nations peoples have occupied and cared for this land for more than 65,000 years. Our First Nations peoples are spiritually and culturally connected to this country. At the Pharmacy Guild, NAIDOC Week is an opportunity to highlight the way community pharmacies work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, particularly in regional, rural and remote communities.

These pharmacies are going the extra mile in providing services to help address the documented poorer health outcomes experienced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Whether it be through visits to communities, special consultations or even ensuring labelling meets the needs of individual communities, pharmacists are at the forefront. And as the most accessible healthcare professionals, they have a unique role to play in addressing gaps and providing targeted services to improve the health outcomes of these Australians.

To view Suzanne Greenwood’s editorial in full click here and to read the two Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander pharmacist case studies click here.

portrait photo of Aboriginal intern pharmacist Lillian Emery and Aboriginal pharmacist student Louis Emery

Aboriginal intern pharmacist Lillian Emery and Aboriginal pharmacist student Louis Emery. Image source: The Pharmacy Guild of Australia website.

Dr Charles Perkins AO Memorial Oration

In 2001, the University of Sydney, in collaboration with the Koori Centre, launched an annual oration by a leading spokesperson within the field of Indigenous and non-Indigenous race relations. The Dr Charles Perkins AO Memorial Oration was established with the full support of the Perkins family and in acknowledgement of his tireless dedication to human rights and social justice for Indigenous Australians.

This year the 2020 Charles Perkins Memorial Oration, will be presented by Pat Turner AM in honour of her uncle. This event, hosted by Stan Grant and Isabella Higgins at The Great Hall at the University of Sydney, will be a timely look at the state of race relations in Australian over the last two decades.

You can watch the Dr Charles Perkins Oration via livestreamed from 8.00 pm – 9.00 pm (AEST) Thursday 12 November from the following platforms:

University of Sydney Facebook    

University of Sydney YouTube

ABC Indigenous Facebook

ABC Sydney Facebook

black and white photo of Charles Perins on bus home after visit to Tranby, Glebe 1963

Charlies Perkins travelling home on a Sydney bus in 1963. Image source: ABC News website.

Professor Milroy wins mental health prize

Pioneering Aboriginal psychiatrist, researcher and mental health champion Professor Helen Milroy has been named as a joint winner of the 2020 Australian Mental Health Prize. Professor Milroy, recognised as the first Indigenous Australian to become a medical doctor, shares the prestigious prize with leading psychiatrist and founder of the Black Dog Institute, Professor Gordon Parker.

The national prize, presented by the Governor General, His Excellency General the Honourable David Hurley AC DSC (Retd), recognises Australians who have made outstanding contributions to either the promotion of mental health or prevention/treatment of mental health issues. “I am hoping that through this award, we can shine a light on children’s mental health and provide whatever it takes to bring about their wellbeing and that of their families and communities.”

To view the full article click here.

portrait photo of Professor Helen Milroy, background is an office

Image source: The University of Western Australian.

Jimmy Little Foundation supports remote health care

Based in Lightning Ridge, NSW the Jimmy Little Foundation is working to improve the quality of life and access to health care for remote and regional communities. The Foundation’s focus is promoting healthy outcomes for Indigenous Australians facing Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) and the demands of dialysis. It currently depends solely on donations to run its programs and advocacy ventures.

The late Jimmy Little, a proud Yorta Yorta man, musician and actor founded the Jimmy Little Foundation in 2006. After undergoing a kidney transplant, he used his performances as an opportunity to tell the communities he visited there is good quality of life after dialysis. Little’s daughter, Frances Peters-Little, is now Managing Director of the Foundation. She said she’s proud of the Foundation’s current board of directors, who are all Indigenous women.

To read the full article click here.

portrait photo of Francis Peters-Little Managing Director of the Jimmy Little Foundation

Francis Peters-Little. Image source: ALTD Spirits website.

Football has power to improve health

The 2020 Indigenous Football Week (IFW20) – Monday 9 November until Sunday 15 November – will feature a program of events that will engage Indigenous communities and players across Australia. Organisers say IFW20 will highlight how football has the power to create pathways to improved physical and mental health, wellbeing, education, and community engagement for Indigenous players. The football community has come together to support the John Moriarty Football (JMF) initiative. JMF has partnered with Football Federation Australia (FFA), Professional Footballers Australia (PFA), SBS, NITV, and FOX Sports, to celebrate events held in JMF communities in NT, NSW and Queensland.

To read the full article click here.

Aboriginal boy in football uniform kneeling on soccer ball

Image source: Moriarty Foundation website.

48 hour follow up initiative supports recovery

In a resent presentation at the Deniliquin Local Health Advisory Committee, Aboriginal health education officer Jill Owens, shared some information about her role and partnerships, ensuring the health and well-being of Aboriginal members in the community are addressed.  Jill shared information about the ‘48 hour Follow Up’ initiative, a service for patients who have been in hospital for things such as diabetes, heart disease, lung disease or kidney disease, ensuring there is a check in on their well-being within 48 hours of discharge. Jill said ‘‘The value of this is that ongoing health needs can be identified and services put in place to support the patient’s recovery and prevent unnecessary admissions.’’

To view the full article in the Deniliquin Pastoral Times click here.

health worker with middle-aged Aboriginal man in home setting

Image source: GP Synergy website.

Tresillian Mobile2U helps get babies to sleep

If you or someone you know has ever had trouble getting a baby to sleep you have probably heard of the amazing work of Tresiliian and the Mid North Coast Local Health District. Tresilian works with parents to get babies into a sleep routine and have been recognised for their innovative approach to delivering child and family health services to regional NSW. Hesta has announced Tresillian and Mid North Coast Local Health District as a finalist in the HESTA Excellence Awards in the Team Excellence – Community Services category. The Mobile 2U van goes to locations in communities such as the Kempsey Community Centre and the Council Chambers at Wauchope. Ms Carlon said the Tresillian 2U mobile service is innovative, and unique. Nurses are focussed on individual parenting plans and give focussed and individualised support.

Aunty Delya Smith, a Dunghutti woman, is the Aboriginal health worker in the team and close to twenty percent of families who access the service identify as Aboriginal. The van also has two child and family health nurses who work with families providing the specialised services in the locations that are easy for families to access in their own communities.

To read the full News of The Area article click here.

Aboriginal baby sleeping

Image source: News Of The Area website.

Voluntary Indigenous Identifier Framework survey

Since 2002, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have been able to have their status recorded confidentially on a database called the Voluntary Indigenous Identifier (VII). The VII is primarily used to estimate use of the Medicare Benefits Scheme by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. This information, grouped together to produce statistical reports, appears in a range of publications and is used to:

  • improve policies focused on access to health programs and services,
  • target funding to specific areas of need,
  • improve access to benefits and payments, and
  • improve the Department of Health’s plans and policies for First Nations People.

The Framework for the Collection, Release, Use and Publication of Voluntary Indigenous Identifier Data (VII Data Framework) is a set of guidelines that direct how VII data is collected and used.

You can download the draft Framework here. and are invited to provide your feedback via the VII Framework Online Survey.

young Aboriginal woman portrait photo, green foliage in the background

Image source: VincentCare website.

ADHA aims to make health care more equitable

This NAIDOC Week the Australian Digital Health Agency (ADHA) has proudly joined a network of more than 1,100 corporate, government and not-for-profit organisations that have made a formal commitment to reconciliation through the Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) program. Agency CEO Amanda Cattermole PSM said the Agency’s reconciliation commitments include an emphasis on understanding and progressing digital health priorities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living across Australia, in rural, remote and metropolitan communities. “Technology can contribute to closing the gap by improving health care accessibility, quality and safety no matter where people live,” she said. “We can make health care more equitable and efficient using digital tools and technology like My Health Record, telehealth and electronic prescriptions.”

To view the full article click here. and to download the ADHA RAP click here.

cover of ADHA RAP 2020–21 report - Aboriginal dot painting circules orange blue dark red

Image source: Australian Government ADHA website.

Funding for improved use of data collections

The Australia Government is investing $8.9 million to support improved management and use of Indigenous data collections. The funding will be used to create a data network that will transform how Australian social and cultural data is accessed, curated and analysed. The project will support the development of eResearch platforms and tools for visualisation, transcription and entity recognition. Minister for Education Dan Tehan said the investment would boost Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences (HASS) and Indigenous research capability and “will improve the reliability and consistency of data for Indigenous Australians to better support evidence-based Indigenous policy-making.”

To view the media release click here.

Aboriginal dot painting of map of Australia

Image source: Open Forum website.

Unaddressed trauma plays role in present pain

The Healing Foundation CEO Fiona Petersen said that NAIDOC Week this year celebrates the knowledge and ancestral wisdom of First Nations Australians and the importance of being connected to it. “While we marvel at the resilience and survival of our cultures, we have to continue to acknowledge unaddressed trauma and the role it plays in our present and immediate future,” Ms Petersen said. “In our journey, we continue to listen and learn from those who have gone before us, often too soon, and survivors of trauma. This drives our efforts to support intergenerational healing for all generations to come.

“NAIDOC Week is an opportunity to share the truth about the ongoing trauma experienced by Stolen Generations survivors and their descendants – and shine a light on the importance of healing.” For Stolen Generations survivors, being removed from family, community and Country had a profound impact on their connection to identity, language and culture. This has resulted in a huge amount of grief and trauma. Ms Petersen said healing is a proven way to overcome trauma and intergenerational trauma and restore wellbeing, which can bring about long-term change for families and communities. “By healing trauma, we are tackling the source of social and health problems that are far more prevalent for our people,” Ms Petersen said.

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

portrait shot Fiona Petersen CEO The Healing Foundation

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

NSW Aboriginal Deputy Children’s Guardian appointed

The head of Australia’s national peak body for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, Richard Weston will become the first Deputy Children’s Guardian for Aboriginal Children and Young People in NSW. Minister for Families, Communities and Disability Services Gareth Ward said Mr Weston, who is currently the CEO of Secretariat of National Aboriginal and Islander Child Care (SNAICC), brings more than 25 years of experience to the role. “Mr Weston’s wealth of experience working in peak and Indigenous-controlled organisations has delivered significant social, health and economic outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and communities,” Mr Ward said.

To view the NSW Government Minister for Families, Communities and Disability Services media release click here.

Portrait shot of Richard Weston against greenery of a garden

Richard Weston. Image source: @INDIGENOUSX website.

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

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

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

Welfare cards ‘not worth the human cost’

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

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

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

Healthy eating – what works at the store

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

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

To read the full article click here.

9 infographic tiles representing store strategies to encourage healthy eating

Image source: croakey website.

Let’s work together towards Closing the Gap

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

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

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

NACCHO CEO honoured for COVID-19 response

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

To read the full press release click here.

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

Patricia Turner AM Image source: Alice Springs News.

Palawa woman new AIDA President

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

To read the AIDA media release click here.

portrait image of Dr Tanya Schramm

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

Food security essential for remote communities

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

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

GPs encouraged to take up mental health training

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

To view the RACGP’s press release click here.

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

Image source: UKRI Medical Research Council.

Reducing racism in healthcare organisations

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

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

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

protesters holding signs No Room for Racism

Image source: SBS NITV website.

Music’s role as health determinant

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

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

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

Richie Jarrett. Image source: Guardian News.

Sista Connections support college students

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: Cultural approach tackles mental health shame

Feature tile 2.11.20 - young Aboriginal children Quinton and Jasalia Williams with face, hair, hands & chest paint, cultural day on country

Cultural approach tackles mental health shame

Small-town living can have its benefits, like knowing your neighbours, but when it comes to accessing help and support, it can be a barrier. Colleen Berry, who lives in the small inland community of Leonora in WA’s Goldfields, said people often felt “shame” in asking for help — and she wanted to do something to change that. So the proud Wongutha woman founded Nyunnga-ku, a community group for the women of Leonora where they can chat, sew, drink cups of tea and speak freely. As more women came to the group, Ms Berry said she realised how many were struggling with mental health and other issues. “Mental health has become something really big in our communities” she said.

To view the full article click here.

Young Aboriginal children Quinton and Jasalia Williams with face, hair, hands & chest paint, cultural day on country

Quinton and Jasalia Williams enjoy a cultrual day on country at the Nyunnga-Ku women’s camp. Image source: ABC News website.

Program aims to improve medication access

Metro North Hospital and Health Service is launching a pharmaceutical program that will allow greater access to medications for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients visiting its facilities. The Better Together Medication Access program will ensure Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients have access to any medications needed upon discharge from hospital with no out-of-pocket expense.

Redcliffe Hospital Director of Pharmacy Geoffrey Grima said the program would improve health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients who have an increased susceptibility to chronic illnesses such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes. “First Nations Australians have a disease burden 2.3 times the rate of non-Indigenous Australians, which means they may require more medications to treat more illnesses,” Grima said. “We know medications can be expensive, and when a number of medications are required to treat various illnesses, this can add up quickly, making the process burdensome for patients.

To read the article in full click here.

Aboriginal hand holding different coloured pills

Image source: Australian Pharmacist website.

New support for NSW people impacted by suicide

The NSW Government is investing $4.54 million in post-suicide care to provide a range of practical and psychological services to NSW residents bereaved or impacted by suicide. Minister for Mental Health Bronnie Taylor said the state-wide services will range from one-to-one counselling and family therapy, to supporting grieving loved ones to liaise with police, the coroners and media. “It is estimated that up to 135 people can be impacted by a single suicide,” Mrs Taylor said. “We’re building a specialised workforce that can provide both practical and emotional support – from accessing existing services to explaining a suicide death to young children.” $4.2 million will be invested in StandBy Support After Suicide to enable the leading post-suicide support service to expand its footprint and range of services across NSW.

To view the media release  click here.

Aboriginal flay painted on a wall with shadows of two people holding hands

Image source: SBS NITV website.

Become a SOCKSTAR for kidney health

Kidney disease is a deadly disease and there is currently no cure. 1.7 million Australians are affected by the disease and it can have an enormous impact on people’s physical and mental health, family lives and livelihood. There are currently 25,000 Australians living with kidney failure. Dialysis or kidney transplant are needed for them to stay alive. For those on dialysis, they spend an average of 60 hours a month hooked to this life-saving machine, which cleans their blood of toxins. Dialysis can make them feel cold so blankets and warm socks are a must.

Kidney Health Australia has launched a brand new fundraising campaign – the Kidney Health Red Socks Appeal, to take place over the month of November. Participating in the Kidney Health Red Socks Appeal is a great way to show people living with kidney disease that you care. Solo or together with friends, everyone’s effort counts. It is easy to get involved – register as an individual or a team, grab some red socks and get going.

For more information about the Kidney Health Red Socks Appeal click here.

Kidney Health Red Socks Appeal banner - picture of red socks against background of pink and blue kidney vectors & words 'I'm wearing a pair to show I care'

ABS health surveys – have your say

Last year, the Australian government announced a new health study called the Intergenerational Health and Mental Health Study (IHMHS). The IHMHS will run over three years from late 2020 to 2023 and comprise surveys of health, nutrition and physical activity, and an optional biomedical survey. Similar to the Australian Health Survey conducted by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) in 2011–13, the IHMHS will provide an opportunity to measure Australia’s health, including providing a picture of the health and wellbeing of our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. The results will be useful in helping to inform policy, services and programs supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to live healthier lives. 

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) needs your participation to help them shape the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander components of the IHMHS. The ABS want to talk to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to ensure their surveys are done in a culturally appropriate way and reflect the priorities, values and diversity of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Sign up here to participate in an upcoming webinars and have your say!

There is also an online survey on the ABS website that can be completed at any time.

The survey closes on Monday 30 November 2020.ABS tile 'help shape the upcoming ATSI Health Survey, two Aboriginal women sitting at outside tableyoutube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6_jpsVuTR3w&w=560&h=315

Research centre targets regional Victorian health disadvantage

A new research centre at Federation University will work to reduce the health disadvantage of regional and rural residents. The Health Innovation and Transformation Centre, will develop innovative, multidisciplinary solutions for patients and the general community, spearheaded by the digital, genomic and data revolution. It will focus on areas including aged care, cardiovascular health, digital health interventions, workforce development and patient safety, ensuring the right care, in the right place at the right time.

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

entrance to Federation University Australia - sign on sandstone wall and brick university buildings in background

Image source: magiqsoftware website.

Calls for action on NT mental health neglect

The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists (RANZCP) Northern Territory Branch has called on the NT Government to take a cue from Churchill and ‘action this day’ the rescue of NT Mental Health Service funding from decades of neglect.  ‘Northern Territorians have been short-changed on investment in mental health services for decades now and this becomes starkly apparent when we compare NT funding with that of other states and territories,’ said RANZCP NT Branch Chair, Dr David Chapman.

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

Aboriginal hands holding

Image source: St Vincent de Paul Society website.

Cashless Debit Card to be made permanent

Shadow Minister for Families and Social Services, Linda Burney, says the Government decided to make the Cashless Debit Card permanent, despite the Minister for Families and Social Services Senator Anne Ruston admitting at Senate Estimates that she hadn’t read the long-awaited review of the card. The card is currently being trialed in four sites: Ceduna; the Goldfields and East Kimberley; and Bundaberg-Hervey Bay. As well as this, the Government has also revealed it had set up a formal working group with the big banks and Australia Post to work on making the Cashless Debit Card part of mainstream accounts and point of sale technology – revealing their real plan to roll this technology out more broadly.

To view Linda Burney’s media statement in full click here.

Aboriginal hands holding the cashless debit card

Image source: The Morning Bulletin.

HealthInfoNet has new sexual health portal

The Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet has added a new sexual health portal to its website. Through engagement with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander experts in the field, topics for the sexual health portal will focus on the aspects of sexual health that impact Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander individuals and their communities. These topics include safe sex, healthy relationships, sexuality, sexually transmitted infections and blood borne viruses, sexual disorders and reproductive health. Funded by the Australian Department of Health, the portal has information about publications, policies, health promotion and practice resources, organisations and workforce information to provide up-to-date relevant information for those working in this important area. 
 
PVC Equity and Indigenous at Edith Cowan University Braden Hill, says of this important topic ‘This is a wonderful addition to HealthInfoNet’s already important work in ensuring the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. The focus on sexual health is of vital importance and will enable an evidence informed approach to health care in relation to this sometimes complex area of health’. HealthInfoNet Director Neil Drew says, ‘There is a need for trusted evidence based information that is freely accessible in one place and this portal like our others delivers that’.

To access the new sexual health portal click here.

two pairs of legs sticking out from under a doona

Image source: Faculty of Health and Behavioural Sciences – University of Queensland website.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Whole-of-society mental health solutions needed

Whole-of-society mental health solutions needed

Australian Association of Social Workers (AASW) National President, Ms Christine Craik hopes World Mental Health Week (10–17 October) will highlight mental health solutions that go beyond short-term, crisis-oriented responses and encompass a whole of society approach to factors affecting mental health. “The COVID-19 crisis, along with the current recession, have underscored the importance and value of healthy communities which prevent ill-health and promote mental health and accessible early intervention services. We have an opportunity to re-build our mental health system by broadening our approach and addressing the social determinants of health. The pandemic has led to job losses, insecurity of income and housing and social restrictions. Many of us are trying to work from home at the same time as we care for children or family members whose formal care has been interrupted.”

To view the AASW media release click here.

New model to boost rural general practice

A new model, launched this week in Wagga Wagga, will give junior doctors, interested in working in rural general practice in the Murrumbidgee region, the experience, exposure and qualifications they need to become rural generalist doctors – GPs with additional skills such as obstetrics or emergency medicine. Federal Regional Health Minister, Martin Coultin said “This new locally-driven model is an important step in our commitment to delivering better healthcare for rural communities and ensuring rural practice is more appealing for doctors.”

The Murrumbidgee Model will see up to 20 new doctors trained over four years in the region, with sites including Cootamundra, Young, Deniliquin, Temora, Narrandera, Gundagai and an Aboriginal Medical Service in Wagga Wagga. The model will be evaluated, to assist the Government to roll out the National Rural Generalist Pathway and approaches that work to support Australians living in other rural, regional and remote areas.

To view the related media release click here.

country unsealed road

Image source: Australian Medical Association.

Critical kidney disease data to inform policy

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have thrived in the traditional lands known as Australia for millennia, however, in the last 50 years, kidney disease has increased dramatically, and today, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have a high need for health care for advanced chronic kidney disease. In parallel, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have had limited opportunity to guide priorities in the health care system to improve kidney health.

Torres Strait Islander woman, Associate Professor Jaqui Hughes from the Menzies School of Health Research is leading a cohort study which will describe the long-term changes in kidney function of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people over 10 years and provide critical data to inform regional and national policy on identification and care of people with kidney disease. 

To view the full article on the research click here.

Associate Professor Jaqui Hughes standing at a lecturn

Associate Professor Jaqui Hughes, Menzies School of Health Research. Image source: NHMRC website.

Feet health important for overall health

The NT has exceptionally high rates of diabetes and, subsequently, diabetes-related foot disease with Aboriginal people are 4–6 times more likely to be admitted to hospital for a diabetes-related foot wound or complication than non-Aboriginal people. During Foot Health Week (12–18 October) Top End Health Service’s High Risk Foot Service Senior Podiatrist Sally Lamond said feet were often the first place to show diabetes-related symptoms. “It’s important to pay attention to any changes in your feet because a major symptom of diabetes is damage to the nerves in your feet,” she said. “The damaged nerve function is called neuropathy, and about half of all people with diabetes have some form of nerve damage.”

To view the NT Government’s Foot Health Week media release click here.

allied health professional treating patient's feet

Image source: CheckUP Australia website.

Forgotten after leaving out-of-home care

There are currently about 18,000 Indigenous children across Australia who are living in statutory out-of-home care (OOHC), having been removed from their families. This is one-third of Australian children in care, or 11 times the rate of non-Indigenous children in care. The trauma of removal is carried by the child, their family and community for life, and is often passed on knowingly or unknowingly to the next generation. Trauma and separation affect the development of the child, their feelings of self-worth and belonging, their sense of identity, and lifelong connections with family, community, culture and Country.

The first national study to explore what happens to Indigenous children removed from care, once they turn 18, was conducted by Monash University, in partnership with SNAICC, the peak body for Indigenous children and families. If, as a country, we’re serious about “closing the gap” and supporting healthy Indigenous communities, we need to recognise the significant issue of ongoing intergenerational trauma that’s created through the removal of Indigenous children into predominantly white service systems that fail to respond and care for them appropriately.

For further information about the study click here.

6 Aboriginal children walking across a foot bridge in rural Australia

Image source: Monash University website.

Opportunity for pharmacists to do more

One in five Australians are affected by mental illness annually with many more impacted by the recent bushfire crisis and current COVID-19 pandemic. During World Mental Health Week (10–17 October) the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (PSA) is taking stock to recognise the important relationship between a person affected by mental illness, their pharmacist and health care team. Acting PSA President Michelle Lynch acknowledged the Government’s $5.7 billion investment into mental health during this week’s budget, which paves the way for pharmacists to play a greater role in the delivery of mental health care in Australia. “A majority of Australians visit their pharmacist around 14 times a year and as trusted and accessible health professionals pharmacists often come in contact with patients suffering mental ill-health,” she said.

To view the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia’s media release click here.

Pharmacist talking over counter to customer

Image source: AJP website.

NT health student award nominations open

Nominations are open for outstanding health students as part of the NT Aboriginal and Torres Strati Islander Health Worker and Practitioner Excellence Awards. The awards are an opportunity to recognise and acknowledge students who are currently studying qualifications from the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Primary Health Care training package and the significant contribution they make to their families, communities and the NT healthcare system.

To view details about the award categories and the nomination process click here.

5 Mala'la Health Service AC staff

Image source: HK Training and Consultancy website.

Poverty, housing and health links webinar

Secure and affordable housing is critical to overcoming many of the economic, social and chronic disease challenges facing rural and remote Australians, particularly chronic diseases closely related to housing such as rheumatic heart disease. People in rural and remote Australia have lower incomes, lower net household worth, higher instances of risk factors for poor health, higher levels of chronic disease, accidents and injury, and reduced life expectancy.

Two-thirds of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians live outside major cities. A critical factor in improving health outcomes for Indigenous Australians is the provision and maintenance of appropriate housing. As part of Anti-Poverty Week National Rural Health Alliance is hosting a webinar on 12.30–1.30 pm (AEDT) Thursday 15 October 2020. To register click here.anti-poverty week webinar banner

Free wellbeing webinars

The Black Dog Institute under the national eMHPrac program are preparing two webinars and an associated podcast on supporting Indigenous wellbeing through digital resources. The focus of the webinars will be to hear a range of panelists’ yarn about how healthcare workers can use digital wellbeing tools to help keep our mob strong in mind, body and culture. The webinars will showcase the WellMob website launched in July this year by the Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet.

WEBINAR 1: Supporting Indigenous wellbeing through digital resources: an introduction for clinicians

  • Who’s it for? GPs & allied health practitioners 
  • Times & Date: 1.00 pm and 8.00 pm Thursday 22 October
  • What’s it about: a webinar that shares tips on using digital wellbeing resources with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people
  • Register at: click here

WEBINAR 2: Supporting Indigenous wellbeing through digital resources: an introduction for frontline wellbeing workers

  • Who’s it for: frontline wellbeing & community workers
  • Time & Date: 1.00 pm Thursday 29 October
  • What’s it about: a webinar yarning about digital wellbeing resources for our mob and tips to use them with your clients and community
  • Register at: click here

QLD – Innisfail – Mamu Health Service Limited

Chief Financial Officer  Advertisement , Position Description, General Employment Information

Clinic ManagerAdvertisement,  Position Description, General Employment Information

Public Health NurseAdvertisement, Position Description, General Employment Information

Mamu Health Service Limited, an Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation owned and managed by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to provide culturally appropriate and comprehensive primary health care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and communities of Innisfail, Tully, Ravenshoe, Mt Garnet and Babinda, has vacancies for a Chief Financial Officer, a Clinic Manager and a Public Health Nurse.

To view the advertisement, position description and general employment information for each vacancy, click on the links above.

Applications for all positions close Friday 20 October 2020.