NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Mob think they’re immune, they’re not

Mob think they’re immune, they’re not

The full lockdown of remote Aboriginal communities during the first wave of the pandemic was “too successful” and now many Indigenous people believe COVID-19 will never reach them, according to evidence to a select committee on Australia‘s response to the virus.

Pat Turner, who represents Aboriginal health clinics across Australia as head of NACCHO, has offered the most comprehensive explanation yet for why so few Indigenous Australians are vaccinated against COVID-19. Ms Turner told the select committee she was deeply concerned about the consequences for Indigenous Australians when the nation opened up because only 37% of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population over the age of 12 was fully vaccinated. Only 50% had received one dose. Aboriginal people had died at twice the rate of non-Aboriginal Australians during the Delta outbreak in NSW and Victoria, Ms Turner said. Up until 16 June only 153 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people had contracted COVID-19 and none of them had died.

However, since the outbreak of the Delta strain in NSW and Victoria, more than 4,500 Indigenous people had tested positive to COVID-19, more than 500 of them have required hospitalisation and 10 had died. Ms Turner said this was entirely predictable given that higher proportions of Indigenous people are susceptible to falling seriously ill and dying from Covid-19 because they have developed chronic disease early in life. Also, one in eight Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people live in overcrowded housing which helps the virus spread. Overcrowding is far worse in regional and remote areas, she told the select committee. Ms Turner said her organisation had told parliament in July last year that if COVID-19 got into the far western community of Wilcannia it would be impossible to contain, and that is what happened.

Ms Turner said, vaccine hesitancy and misinformation were causing big problems in Aboriginal communities in WA, the NT, SA  and Queensland. Health workers were now going door to door to answer Aboriginal people‘s questions about the vaccines. While there, they vaccinate those who are willing. “They think it‘s not going to get there, so we are increasing our advice to them about how rapidly it spread from greater Sydney to Wilcannia,” Ms Turner told the select committee. She said states and the NT must organise contingency plans for Aboriginal communities. She said locking down remote communities at the start of the pandemic was successful but it would not work once Australia opened its borders. “I think we were too successful (during the first lockdowns of remote Aboriginal communities),” Ms Turner said. “They think they‘re immune to COVID-19, but they’re not.”

To view the full article in The Australian click here.

Pat Turner AM. Image source: National Indigenous Times.

VACCHO launches medical cadet program

VACCHO has launched a new and innovative Aboriginal Medical Cadet Program. A first for VACCHO, the specialised program offers a life-changing opportunity through the two-year Medical Cadetship for a number of medical students from Victoria. It will see cadets develop their skills and knowledge by gaining hands-on experience in a real-life setting working as highly valued contributing member of an Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (ACCHO).

VACCHO CEO Jill Gallagher AO says the Aboriginal Medical Cadet Program presents an exciting and unique opportunity for members, the cadets, and most importantly community. “Over the last 18 months we have seen ACCHOs play a critical role in the protection of our community against COVID – and this cadet program will be instrumental in inspiring the next generation of medical practitioners in this sector.”

Ms Monica Barolits-McCabe, CEO, Australian Indigenous Doctors’ Association (AIDA) has also welcomed the program. “This program will encourage more Indigenous medical students to return to work in the ACCHO sector when they graduate as doctors. Aboriginal community controlled health services understand the comprehensive needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients and Indigenous doctors’ unique medico-cultural skills can complement those services very effectively.”

Applications for the Aboriginal Medical Cadet Program are now open and will close on Sunday 24 October 2021.

To view VACCHO’s media release, including details on how to submit an application for the Aboriginal Medical Cadet Program click here.

Gayaa Dhuwi suicide prevention strategy

Gayaa Dhuwi (Proud Spirit) Australia is inviting you to attend the virtual launch of the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Strategy 2021-2031 on Friday 22 October 2021 at 3:00pm AEDT.

In early 2020, the Commonwealth Government tasked Gayaa Dhuwi (Proud Spirit) Australia to renew the 2013 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Strategy. Extensive consultation with governments, stakeholders and community members over the past 12 months contributed to the renewed National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Strategy 2021-2031.

To attend the launch, please register here.

tile text 'National A&TSI suicide prevention strategy 2021-2031 virtual launch Frid 22 October 2021 3:00 PM AEDT' with Aboriginal dot art border in black, yellow, white, orange

It’s in our cultures to protect each other

Nayuka Gorrie, a Kurnai/Gunai, Gunditjmara, Wiradjuri and Yorta Yorta freelance writer. has written an article Why vaccination presents an ethical dilemma for us, but remains the best way to keep our families safe.

In writing about getting the COVID-19 vaccine Nayuka says “So much is uncertain but what I do know is: I am surrounded by people who would become very sick and possibly die if they got COVID-19 and I’m not sure how I would live carrying that guilt. I also trust our community health services who are trying their best to keep us alive and well in a hostile colony.”

“I wrote to a friend a few weeks ago who was watching Covid-19 sweep its way across her Gomeroi country. I wrote that the way our community cares for each other is our greatest strength right now. Where white culture leaves their most vulnerable behind, it is in our cultures to protect each other to ensure our survival. Right now, with the information we have, we are all we have to keep each other safe.”

To view the story in IndigenousX in full click here.

vector images of covid-19 vax & diagram of people in circles linked to other people

Image source: IndigenousX.

Role of AHWs in administering vax

The COVID-19 pandemic has devastated communities throughout the world and has required rapid paradigm changes in the manner in which health care is administered.

Previous health models and practices have been modified and changed at a rapid pace. The Rural and Remote Health section of James Cook University has published a paper detailing the experiences of a regional Victorian ACCHO in a COVID-19 vaccination program led and managed by Aboriginal Health Practitioners.

To view the paper in full click here.

Image source: The Medical Journal of Australia.

RHIF funding for VIC ACCHOs

The Regional Health Infrastructure Fund (RHIF) provides government funding to rural and regional health services and agencies across Victoria so these services can continue to provide safe and efficient care to local communities.

Established in 2016, the $490 million fund is the largest program of its type in Victoria and was created to improve:

  • safety and quality of services
  • enhance service capacity
  • efficient models of care
  • patient and staff amenity
  • service efficiency.

Seventy-nine health services will share $120 million in funding from the fifth round of the Regional Health Infrastructure Fund (RHIF), including ACCHOs Bendigo and District Aboriginal Co-operative Ltd and Gunditjmara Aboriginal Co-operative Limited. You can see the full recipient listing here.

Gunditjmara Aboriginal Co-operative will also receive over $35,000 through the Supporting Carers Locally Grants Program. This program provides opportunities for carers to be physically and mentally healthy and connect with family, friends, other carers and their local community – whether through accessible peer support, grassroots community support programs or tailored resources. To view an article about this grant click here.

Suicide and self-harm monitoring website

The latest AIHW release Suicide and Self-harm monitoring website (new ambulance attendance data and social factors and deaths by suicide modelling) is now This release includes new data relating to: ambulance attendances for suicide attempts, suicidal ideation, and self-injury, and a modelling study on the association between socioeconomic factors and deaths by suicide using the MADIP linked data asset.

The reporting of suicide and self-harm statistics and information on the AIHW website represents only one part of the National Suicide and Self-harm Monitoring Project. The web-based format for Suicide and self-harm monitoring includes interactive data visualisations and geospatial mapping to illustrate and explore the statistics as well as text to assist with their interpretation and clarification of the limitations of the data.

To view the media release in full click here.

Draft PHC 10 Year Plan opens for consultation

The Australian government is calling for stakeholder input following the opening of the consultation period for the draft Primary Health Care 10 Year Plan.

The focus of the 10 Year Plan is on Australia’s primary health care (PHC) services provided through general practices, Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations (ACCHOs), community pharmacies, allied health services, mental health services, community health and community nursing services and dental and oral health services. The Plan also focuses on the integration of PHC with hospitals and other parts of the health system, aged care, disability care and social care systems.

You can now provide feedback on the draft plan, and individuals and organisations with an interest in primary health care and what a future focused system can deliver for all Australians are encouraged to share their views.  Written submissions can be provided until 11:59 PM Tuesday 9 November 2021 here.

For more information on the consultation process click here.

AMA Vice President Dr Chris Moy spoke on Channel 10 talking about the PHC 10-Year Plan. To view a transcript of the Dr Moy’s interview click here.

Danila Dilba health worker checking child's ear

Image source: RTR FM92.1 website.

Outback Stores lead way on vax

As the Delta strain of COVID-19 continues to threaten remote communities, Outback Stores recognises that being vaccinated is one of the key contributing factors to saving lives and reducing the likelihood of spreading the virus to others.

The company’s CEO, Michael Borg, acknowledges the importance and understands the crucial role the company can play in safeguarding the health of customers and employees in the 44 retail sites for which Outback Stores manages on behalf of their owners. “In the anticipation of vaccinations becoming mandated, Outback Stores has been working for some time towards 100% vaccination of its front-line employees,” Mr Borg said. “We currently have 109 team members either based in or visiting remote communities regularly, and I can report that they are all double-vaccinated.”

To view the Outback Stores media release in full click here.

6 Ngukurr Outback Stores staff with certificates standing in front of wall refrigerators

Outback Stores Ngukurr store workers.

New process for job advertising

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

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

Global Handwashing Day

Today, 15 October 2021 is Global Handwashing Day, a global advocacy day dedicated to increasing awareness and understanding about the importance of handwashing with soap as an effective and affordable way to prevent diseases and save lives. It is an opportunity to design, test and replicate creative ways to encourage people to wash their hands with soap at critical times.

This unprecedented time provides a unique impetus to institutionalise hand hygiene as a fundamental component of health and safety. The learnings from the past year have emphasised the need for collective action to address the historic neglect of hand hygiene investments, policies, and programs once and for all. This year’s theme, Our Future is at Hand – Let’s Move Forward Together calls for coordinated action as we actively work toward universal hand hygiene.

A example of a creative way in the ACCHO sector of encouraging handwashing is the No germs on me: A social marketing campaign to promote hand-washing with soap in remote Australian Aboriginal communities. This social marketing campaign promoting handwashing with soap was implemented to reduce the high burden of infection experienced by Australian Aboriginal children living in remote communities.

For more information about Global Handwashing Day click here and to view a paper on the No germs on me campaign click here.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Community-led healthy food initiatives

Community-led healthy food initiatives

The year to June 2021 saw 8 tonnes less sugar consumed* and 508 tonnes of fresh fruit and vegetables sold across the 41 remote Indigenous communities serviced by Outback Stores. This outcome is the joint result of the Outback Stores Healthy Food Policy and strong, community-led decision making from local store directors to tackle diet-related health problems.

Communities such as Engawala, Santa Teresa and Ali Curung have implemented restrictions on the size of soft drink bottles sold, as well as introduced sugar-free days of the week. “At first people didn’t like it, but as store workers we told them it was better for our health and they understood,” said store director Audrey Inkamala, about implementing ‘Sugar-Free Wednesdays’ in Engawala.

Since 2012 an ongoing trend has seen the proportion of full-sugar drinks fall by 23.24% across stores serviced by Outback Stores. The proportion of water sold increased 2.46% and sugar-free drinks also increased 0.25%. The result of this is 80,079 litres less of sugary drinks sold in remote communities, enough to fill an average backyard swimming pool.

“It’s great to see Outback Stores and local store directors working together to promote a healthier retail environment for stores and communities,” said Anna Murison, Health & Nutrition Manager for Outback Stores.

Improving access to nutritious and affordable food continues to be a key component in the Outback Stores nutrition policy. In the last financial year customers bought a total of 508 tonnes of fresh fruit and vegetables, which is a quantity four times greater than the average amount sold per store in 2011.

To view the Outback Stores media release click here.

two Aboriginal male store workers Ali Curung

Store workers, Ali Curung, Barkly Region, NT. The image in feature tile  is another store worker, Audrey Inkamala.

World’s first children’s mental health strategy

The Morrison Government has launched the world’s first National Children’s Mental Health and Wellbeing Strategy. The Strategy provides a framework to guide the development of a comprehensive, integrated system of services to maintain and support the mental health and wellbeing of children aged 0-12 and their families.

Minister for Health and Aged Care, Greg Hunt, said the Strategy was part of the Morrison Government’s long-term national health plan. “Caring for the mental health and wellbeing of our younger children, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, is critical. We know that proper support can improve long-term outcomes and can help children achieve their full potential in life,” Minister Hunt said.

To view Minister Hunt’s media release in full click here.logo for The National Children's Health and Wellbeing Strategy; line drawing red head, arms, orange semi-circle, sunrays blue & green

A number of organisations have commented on the new strategy. Thrive by Five welcomed the recognition of early education in the strategy and urged the Federal Government to introduce universally accessible, high quality early learning and care for every child. Thrive by Five, CEO Jay Weatherill, said: “so many children and families are struggling right now, making the work of our early educators more vital than ever. Thrive by Five is calling for the Federal Government to fast-track the professional training and development of guidelines for educators to follow when they believe a child or family is struggling.”

To view Thrive by Five’s media release click here.

Image source: SNAICC website.

Mental health aides assist police

A new initiative to help people suffering with mental illness involved in incidents where police are called has been praised as a success just four weeks into the trial, thanks to a reduction in the number of people hospitalised which has kept police on the streets for longer.

The first regional roll-out of the police mental health co-response program, which has successfully run in four metropolitan districts since 2016, has seen the detainment of people at the centre of mental health-related police call-outs decrease as much as 60 per cent over the four weeks of the trial.

The program has involved 16 selected Geraldton police officers receiving special Department of Health training. A clinician and an Aboriginal health worker are assigned to the mental health team each shift.

Geraldton police officer-in-charge Sen. Sgt Chris Martin said the result had drastically reduced the amount of time officers had to spend at hospitals dealing with mental-health incidents, which had previously been up to three hours for each case.

To access the article in full click here.

Assistant Commissioner Jo McCabe, Geraldton MLA Lara Dalton, Police Minister Paul Papalia, Aboriginal Health Worker Chris Fitzgerald and Mid-West Gascoyne Supt Roger Beer standing in front of a paddy wagon in front of police station

Assistant Commissioner Jo McCabe, Geraldton MLA Lara Dalton, Police Minister Paul Papalia, Aboriginal Health Worker Chris Fitzgerald and Mid-West Gascoyne Supt Roger Beer. Photo: Edward Scown, Midwest Times. Image source: The West Australian

First Nations perspectives in curriculum

The Australian Physiotherapy Council’s Accreditation Committee member Danielle Manton recently shared her story and why all Australian physiotherapists should become culturally safe healthcare practitioners.

Danielle, is a proud Barunggam woman and Indigenous Health Lecturer. Her work, embedding Indigenous perspectives in the health curriculum involves many community partnerships. Danielle says community partnerships are exceptionally important “the community must lead this and have a direct voice and influence within healthcare education. All the work I do is firmly entrenched in advocating for my family, my community and a better future for my people. There is still a long way to go to influence change in healthcare access and outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.”

“It is important to educate yourself, it is not the responsibility of the community or your Indigenous friends and employees to educate you. The Council has developed a great cultural safety training resource, which will also contribute to continuing professional development to help get you started.”

“The key to inclusive practice for all peoples is communication, authentic relationship building and being proactive, flexible and responsive to client’s needs – the same approach doesn’t always work for all people, it may just be simple adaptations such as allowing clients to attend appointments together or moving to an outdoor space.”

To access the interview in full click here.

Danielle Manton & Australian Physiotherapy Council logo

Danielle Manton. Image source: Australian Physiotherapy Council website.

Oral health workforce needs to grow

Tooth decay and gum disease, the main dental diseases affecting Australians, can cause pain and deformity as well as affecting eating and speech. Dental practitioners are efficient and effective in relieving dental pain, and they can effectively restore oral function. There is good evidence that better health care outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients are associated with care from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health professionals.

Unfortunately, the representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people within the dental practitioner workforce is very low. The authors a research article Addressing the oral health workforce needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians argue that a strategic approach, along with additional investment, is needed to increase the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people qualified as dental practitioners.

To view the article in full click here.

University of Newcastle Bachelor of Oral Health Therapy students completed clinical placements at Ungooroo Aboriginal Corporation in Singleton for the first time in 2017. Image source: Newcastle Herald.

EnableMe Stroke newsletters

The EnableMe newsletter features news, stories and advice on every aspect of life after stroke, whether you are a stroke survivor, carer or family member.

The Stroke Foundation is celebrating its 25th anniversary this month and the October EnableMe newsletter looks back over the years. Twenty five years ago, when a stroke happened, we watched and waited as families were devastated by the impact of stroke. Advances in medical treatment now mean that when someone experiences a stroke, emergency treatment is available including life-saving blood clot-busting drugs or blood clot removal in hospital.

The EnableMe newsletter September issue highlights how the Australian Stroke Alliance is one step closer to achieving its goal of treating regional and remote stroke patients faster. An Adelaide company has started developing a small CT brain scanner that can be fitted in ambulances and emergency aircraft. If successful, the device will allow paramedics and retrieval teams to diagnose and then start treating stroke patients in the golden hour – the first hour after a stroke, wherever they live.

You can view the EnableMe September newsletter edition here and the October edition here.

banner orange with white font, Stroke Foundation logo & enable me stronger after stroke'

Partyline magazine contributions sought

Partyline magazine, a publication produced by the National Rural Health Alliance, has a strong following across the rural health and services sectors. It is a platform to promote products or services to people and organisations of influence that care about health ‘in the bush’. The latest Partyline issue is available here.

Through technology we are increasingly able to merge our digital and physical health systems. This particularly benefits the rural healthcare system in Australia which has unique constraints, such as geographical distance and the sustainability of services in thin markets.

With the end of the publishing year in sight, Partyline would like to celebrate the technology, innovation and digital wins that are helping to strengthen our rural health services in communities across the country.

The Alliance is now seeking contributions for Partyline, Issue 77, to be published in December 2021. Contributions are due by COB Thursday 11 November 2021 and can be submitted using the email link here.

PARTYLINE logo

New process for job advertising

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

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

COVID-19 vaccine update for GPs webinar

The latest in the Australian Government Department of Health’s series of COVID-19 vaccine updates for GPs webinar will be held from:

11:30am–12:00pm (AEST) tomorrow, Thursday 14 October 2021.

At this webinar, you’ll be provided with the latest information on the vaccine rollout. GPs and all health professionals are welcome.

Joining Professor Michael Kidd AM this week will be Dr Lucas de Toca, First Assistant Secretary, COVID-19 Primary Care Response, Department of Health and Penny Shakespeare, Deputy Secretary, Health Resourcing Group, Department of Health.

This week’s GP webinar will have a slightly different look and feel as it will be held via webex. This will enable guests from other locations to join the GP webinar panel. If you’re unable to view this webinar live, you can view it on-demand using the same link, within a few hours of the live stream ending.

When you’re ready to join, use this link.

COROONAVIRUS (COVID-19) update for GPs banner, blue background, pink virus vector images

Allied Health Professions Day

Allied Health Professions (AHP) Day 2021 is happening tomorrow Thursday 14 October 2021. As with previous years you are invited to join other Allied Healthcare Professionals in a day of collective action, by doing something that is meaningful and important to you.

The first ever AHP’s Day was held on the 15th October 2018 to celebrate, appreciate and recognise the extraordinary work of the AHP workforce. In 2019 we were all about sharing why we were proud to be an AHP and joined by AHPs from across the globe including Singapore, NZ and Australia making it a truly international social movement.

For more information about AHP Day click here.

banner - Indigenous Allied Health Professionals Day

Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day

Every year, around 110,000 Australians have a miscarriage. 2,200 more endure the pain of stillbirth, 600 lose their baby in the first 28 days after birth and many more face the grief of termination for medical reasons. October is a time for Australia to break the silence and acknowledge the heartbreak happening too often right now.

With October marking International Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month, hundreds of Australian parents are sharing what’s hurting them right now – silence. From now until the end of October, families are sharing their silence stories with Red Nose in a bid to get Australia talking about this too-often taboo topic.

Pregnancy and Infant Loss awareness month events are happening right around Australia and online throughout October, giving families an important opportunity to publicly remember their much-loved babies.

You can read a media release from the ACT Legislative Assembly recognising International Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day here.

For more information about International Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day visit the SANDS website here.

banner text 'International Pregnancy & Infant Loss Awareness Day 15 OCT' & line drawing of red heart held in palms of hands

Image source: SANDS website.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Historical factors impact healthcare access

feature tile text 'historical factors impact first nations accessing traditional western healthcare' & image of doctor's torso, white lab coat, stethoscope in pocket

Historical factors impact healthcare access

A NSW Upper House committee examining the challenges in accessing medical services outside metropolitan areas has been told Aboriginal people are reluctant to access public healthcare in NSW because they believe they may not survive.

The Aboriginal Health and Medical Research Council gave evidence at the hearing about why Indigenous residents in rural and regional areas will not attend hospitals even if they are very ill.

“Historical factors impact on Aboriginal people accessing western, traditional healthcare services,” Associate Professor Peter Malouf from the Aboriginal Health and Medical Research Council told the inquiry.  “Aboriginal people have a fear factor of going into the health system because they’ve seen many Aboriginal loved ones and community members passing away.”

The Upper House committee was asked to recommend to the NSW government that the public health system works closely with Aboriginal medical services to improve the quality of care given to Indigenous residents.

Aboriginal youth receiving vax at Walgett AMS

The inquiry heard Indigenous people are fearful of the public health system. Photo supplied by: Walgett Aboriginal Medical Service. Image source: ABC News website.

ACCHO to build $7m new medical facility

An Aboriginal cooperative in Bendigo is set to receive more than $7 million to build a new mixed-use medical facility. The Bendigo District Aboriginal Co-Operative (BDAC) will use the funding to help expand medical services to meet growing demand.

BDAC’s new building will include 10 consulting rooms and three allied health rooms. BDAC chief executive Raylene Harradine said the new building will be built at the current site and will help expand current medical services to meet growing demand.

Director of BDAC Programs Dallas Widdicombe said when the site opened four years ago, BDAC had around 1,100 active patients. Now, more than 2,000 residents access the Aboriginal corporation’s health services. “Our wait times can be up to a month for a doctor’s appointment, because we can only have three doctors with our limited space,” Mr Widdicombe said.

To view the article in full click here.

 BDAC staff looking at building plans

Raylene Harradine, centre, inspects the plans for the new building with Maree Edwards (left) and Jacinta Allan (right). Photo: BDAC. Image source: ABC News.

Top COVID-19 vax questions

Dr Lucas de Toca, COVID-19 Primary Care Response First Assistant Secretary, has answered the top three COVID-19 questions asked on our social accounts.

Dr de Toca spoke about people 60 years and over getting the vaccine; some of the misinformation about the vaccine and infertility or risks during pregnancy; and how to protect kids from COVID-19 and whether kids can get COVID-19. You can listen to Dr de Toca below.

Mob overrepresented in road trauma statistics

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are overrepresented in road trauma statistics is one more reason there needs to be culturally appropriate countermeasures which prioritise self-determination and account for the social determinants of health. There are higher rates of death and serious injury on regional, rural, and remote roads, with fatality rates associated with crashes on very remote roads more than 13 times higher than fatality rates in our major cities.

Local governments, which are responsible for managing most of our road networks, will be critical to addressing road trauma outside of our major cities, and indeed at the national level. The work of state governments will also be crucial to develop integrated, holistic, nationally consistent solutions.

To view the Parliament of Australia media release in full click here.

roadside memorial

Six people have died in the past decade on a small stretch of the highway near Barunga, 300 kms SE of Darwin. Photo: Jano Gibson. Image source: ABC News website.

More needed to tackle Kimberley suicide rate

It has been 18 months since the WA government vowed to improve mental health services and tackle high Indigenous suicide rates in the state’s north, but Aboriginal health advocates say nothing has changed.

The state’s far-north has some of the highest rates of youth suicide in the world and the suicide rate of Aboriginal people in the Kimberley is twice as high as among all Indigenous Australians.

After 13 young people took their own lives in the Kimberley in less than four years, the WA government promised to roll out more culturally appropriate mental health services, boost access to clinical services and engage with local Indigenous people on a pathway forward.

Months on, veteran Indigenous health worker Kathy Watson said she was still extremely concerned about the mental health of young people in the region.

To view the ABC News article in full click here.

Jacob Smith - social worker Headspace, Kimberleys

Jacob Smith has been working in the Kimberley to combat suicide prevention for four years and works as a social worker at Headspace. Image source: ABC News.

Food security in remote communities

Last year the National Rural Health Alliance (NRHA) made a submission to the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Indigenous Affairs Inquiry into food pricing and food security in remote Indigenous communities.

Through this Inquiry the Committee highlighted there continues to be significant barriers to addressing food security in remote Indigenous communities. This has been underlined by the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic and the vulnerability of remote Indigenous communities to supply chain interruptions.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in remote communities in Australia experience a disproportionate burden of chronic disease and there is clear evidence of the significant detrimental health effects of poor nutrition linking to a range of chronic diseases which affect life expectancy and overall community well-being. Food insecurity has adverse health and social effects from early childhood through all stages of life. The key food security issue for remote Indigenous communities relates to access to affordable, high quality, nutritious food. There are many factors that influence food security which are explored in this submission, however, the high cost of fresh food relative to the low level of incomes in remote communities emerges as a significant factor.

It is clear that market forces alone cannot be relied upon to address food security issues in remote communities, and there is a role for government at the national, state/territory and local level to intervene in the market to ensure both demand and supply side issues are addressed. Finally, locally-based solutions must be the result of outcomes designed and supported by communities in response to specific community circumstances an

To read the submission in full click here.

Aboriginal staff at checkout in Barlmarrk Supermarket

Barlmarrk Supermarket. Image source: Bawinanga Aboriginal Corporation website.

Type 2 diabetes glucose management study

The FlashGM study is a national Indigenous multicenter trial that asks: Can Flash Glucose Monitoring (FlashGM) improve glucose management in Indigenous Australians with type 2 diabetes?

Diabetes is a major contributor to the mortality gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians, and the risk and severity of diabetes complications (CVD, kidney failure, blindness) are far greater in this population than in non-Indigenous Australians.

There is an urgent need for effective and convenient ways of improving glycaemic management in Indigenous Australians. Diabetes Nurse Educator, Donna Rumbiolo, has driven recruitment for the pilot study and is an integral member of the Flash leadership team. She said “The FlashGM study is about giving communities the experience of using leading diabetes technology. Hopefully we can see this improve people’s health and makes life easier for all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living with diabetes.”

The 5th edition of the Flash Study newsletter includes recent study updates and a spotlight on Rumbalara Aboriginal Cooperative in Shepparton and Apunipima Cape York Health Service in Cairns.

As the study is expands and continues to recruit, expressions of interest are being sought for recruitment sites across Australia.  You can access the study website here for more information and if you would like to discuss the study further please feel free to contact Mariam Hachem by email here.

Aboriginal line drawing of hand with outstretched finger being pricked for sugar level diabetes check

Image source: University of Melbourne website, FlashGM Study page.

AHCSA Sexual Health and BBV Program

The AHCSA Sexual Health and Blood Borne Virus (BBV) Program works with Aboriginal health services and the broader health sector across SA, supporting the prevention and treatment of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and BBVs.

The Program supports ACCHOs and other services working with young Aboriginal people in the promotion of, and improved access to, opportunistic and voluntary STI screening for people aged between 16 and 35 years.

For more information about the program click here.

Aboriginal art text 'end the cycle stay connected' black, olive, burnt orange, white

Image source: AHCSA website.

New process for job advertising

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

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

National Carers Week

Carers are people who provide unpaid care and support to family members and friends who have a disability, mental health condition, chronic condition, terminal illness, an alcohol or other drug issue or who are frail aged – anyone at any time can become a carer. National Carers Week is an opportunity to raise community awareness among all Australians about the diversity of carers and their caring roles.

12.4% of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population are carers, compared to 10.5% of the non-Indigenous Australian population. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander carers living in regional, rural, and remote areas often experience:

  • language and cultural barriers 
  • geographic barriers in accessing health and welfare services
  • and may face barriers to health literacy.

For more information click here.

text 'national carers week 10-16 October 2021' & image of aged hands being held by younger hands

Vax for people living with kidney disease

On Wednesday, 13 October from 6:30PM – 7:30PM (AEDT) Kidney Health Australia is hosting a Q&A webinar on the COVID-19 vaccine for people living with kidney disease. The webinar is open to kidney disease patients, transplant recipients, parents and carers, and health professionals, and aims to answer your questions and concerns around getting the covid vaccine.

To ensure your questions are answered, make sure to submit your question/s when registering for the webinar. Registrations close on Wednesday 13 October at 5:00PM. Click here for more information about the webinar and to register.

banner Kidney Health Australia Q&A webinar Covid-19 vaccines, image of covid-19 cell

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Maningrida mob show up in record numbers for COVID-19 vaccine

feature tile text 'Record numbers of Maningrida mob show up for jab after community-led campaigns' & Aboriginal hand holding loud speaker out of bus window

Maningrida mob show up in record numbers for COVID-19 vaccine

Maningrida, NT is home to over 2,300 people, with 77% of those identifying as Aboriginal (Source: 2016 ABS Census). It is estimated the population has increased during the COVID-19 pandemic with many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people moving to the region in 2020-21, with the current population estimated to be close to 4,000.

Maningrida’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout made national news headlines recently after record numbers showed up to get their Pfizer vaccines.

A total of three COVID-19 Vaccination drives were held from July-September, administering a total of 2,843 vaccine doses to the Maningrida community, representing well over 70% of all eligible community members aged 16 and over receiving their first dose and almost 45% fully vaccinated.

The successful rollout comes after weeks of community-led campaigning by Mala’la Health Service, Aboriginal Health Workers (AHWs), Traditional Owners, community leaders and multiple agencies working together to build community confidence about the vaccine.

Mala’la took to dispelling COVID-19 vaccination myths, using their social media platform, local presence and Elders to spread the message. These were both in English and local Aboriginal languages.

The most important thing made clear from the community leaders was the need to ‘talk straight’ and ‘our way’ to the community, stating that mainstream campaigns were confusing and would not work.

  • With the support of local businesses and organisations, Mala’la were able to set up COVID-19 Vaccine info desks at the local supermarket, mobile community info sessions with Orange Sky Laundry van service and hold meetings with local business staff.
  • Local community videos were broadcast in multiple languages online and on large screens, community workers went door to door to talk with families and multiple information sessions were held to address community concerns.
  • When the vaccines arrived, the community leaders were among the first to get the vaccines including, the local Mayor, Traditional Owners and AHWs.
  • Mala’la organised a number of COVID-19 vaccination drives, engaging the support of NT Bush Bus, Bawinanga Aboriginal Corporation and Northern Land Council to support pickup and drop off community members who would otherwise be unable to attend.

Chairman of the Mala’la Health Service, Charlie Gunabarra, was the first in line to get the vaccine to huge cheers. “This is a serious thing all over the world.  We’ve got eight language groups here and we have culture and family to look after. It’s important to get that vaccine to protect our Songlines”, said Gunabarra.

On the vaccination days, campaigning continued non-stop with Traditional Owners on megaphones encouraging the community to get the vaccine. In the second round, Maningrida broke its own previous NT record administering 467 vaccines on a single day – the highest in any single vaccine hub in the Territory at that time.

To support this strong uptake, it took culturally appropriate, community-led approach to engage with community and get the right COVID-19 vaccine messaging across. It took the culmination of engaging local Elders and community leaders, other local organisations getting on board to support Mala’la staff to get the messaging across and the health departments allowing Mala’la to administer these vaccines.

billboard on truck, Elder with loudspeaker, male & female Elders getting vax

Images of Maningrida COVID-19 vaccination campaign.

ACCHO to open new Gympie AMS

The North Coast Aboriginal Corporation for Community Health (NCACCH) held a series of community consultation sessions this month seeking feedback for their new Aboriginal Medical Service (AMS) delivery. Sessions were held in Gympie, Tin Can Bay, Kilkivan and Gunalda outlining plans for the Aboriginal Medical Centre currently being fitted out at 31 Excelsior Road, Gympie.

The centre will be available to all people who identify as Aboriginal and or Torres Strait Islander and their families (including non-Indigenous partners, children, the whole family unit). The AMS will have an holistic approach and be a ‘one stop shop’ for patients offering comprehensive free health checks and medical services.

The money for the building fit out was raised by a successful grant and directors hope the centre will be finished by mid to late October, with a soft opening later this year and an official launch opening in February 2022.

Chairperson and director of NCACCH Helen Felstead said it was proud of the facility and the work being done to help Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders get the medical help they need in our region. “Prior to now, all patients had to travel to the Sunshine Coast for specialist health care. This is an extension to what we have, nothing will change, it’s just a better service and it’s local. The hospital will still have services as with other practices, we are just making it easier and providing patients with choices.”

To view the story in full click here.

NCACCH building being fitted out for new Gympie AMS

Image source: NCACCH website.

First Nations CVD rate is twice as bad

The rate of Cardiovascular disease (CVD) among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people is more than twice that of non-Indigenous people according to a recently released Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW). The report, released on today (Wednesday 29 September) to coincide with World Heart Day, looks at a range of data, including Australian Bureau of Statistics health surveys.

It estimates 42,700 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults had heart, stroke and vascular disease in 2018-19, based on self-reported data from the ABS. It equates to a rate of 11.4% of Australia’s adult Indigenous population, more than twice that of non-Indigenous adults (5.4%), the report concluded. The rate of death from heart disease from 2017-19 among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people was 1.8 times greater than non-Indigenous Australians.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people were more likely to be exposed to several risk factors. Indigenous Australians aged over 15 were more than three times more likely to smoke daily and were more likely to have high blood pressure in 2017-18 (37 to 29%).

To view the article in full click here.

Aboriginal man's hands gripping chest - heart

Image source: The Medical Journal of Australia.

SA’s ‘silent’ health epidemic

While the nation focuses on the COVID pandemic, a “silent” epidemic is afflicting SA – with huge implications for individuals and hospitals. The figures are stark.

A concerning 6.4% of South Australians are diagnosed with diabetes, compared to 5.3% nationally – and in some regions it’s above 10% – according to the latest figures from Diabetes Australia. That’s more than 113,000 South Australians – a significant jump from 5.8% of the population diagnosed just six years ago.

Most are afflicted with the largely-preventable, lifestyle-related Type 2 disease. Diabetes is a leading cause of hospitalisation. Over time, high glucose levels damage the body’s blood vessels and nerves, leading to a raft of serious health problems such as heart, kidney and eye disease, and even limb amputations from ulcers.

What frustrates health professionals is it doesn’t have to be this way, yet SA continues to top the nation in its prevalence of the disease. And there are warnings the actual rate – including in those who don’t yet know they have it – is up to twice the recorded level.

Researchers and doctors say younger people are increasingly affected by this chronic condition because of sedentary lifestyles and poor diets. They’re calling for urgent and radical intervention, declaring the issue is much bigger than the already disturbing official figures show.

To read the article in full click here.

person's hands drawing insulin shot

An insulin shot. Photo: John Locher, AP. Image source: INDAILY Adelaide independent news.

Rap message about the vax

Ballarat and District Aboriginal Co-operative have produced an awesome jab rap to encourage mob to get vaccinated. You can view the rap below:

Smoker rates surge during pandemic

Smoker numbers have increased across Australia since the beginning of the pandemic, with data released by  SiSU Health showing the greatest percentage jumps in the ACT (up 3.9%) and Queensland.

Increases occurred across all age groups following the arrival of COVID-19, with the rate amongst 65 to 74 year olds nearly doubling since before the pandemic. Smoking levels are markedly higher in regional and remote areas  than in cities, while ATSIC rates are stubbornly high at 3 times the rate of non-indigenous Australians.

SiSU Health Managing Director Dr Noel Duncan said: “Cardiovascular disease is the world’s number one killer,  with heart disease and stroke claiming 18.6 million lives each year. But many of the risk factors, such as tobacco  use, unhealthy diet and lack of physical activity, are within our control to change.”

“We detected a sharp jump in our users’ smoking rates at the very onset of the pandemic. These rates have  tapered only slightly in 2021 and remain more than two percentage points higher than in the period prior to COVID.  The reasons for this upswing are complex, but stress and anxiety associated with lockdowns, often in combination  with more frequent alcohol consumption at home, are likely to be contributing factors.”

To view the article in full click here.

pack of cigarettes, no brand

Image source: SBS News website.

AMA wants easier rural GP hospital access

The AMA is calling for easier pathways for rural doctors to work in their local hospitals and better support remote, regional and rural health in the community. Examining rural workforce shortages, the AMA has found stringent bureaucratic processes by local hospitals or health services prevent some rural GPs and rural generalists from having any connection or involvement whatsoever in their local hospitals.

In a new AMA Position Statement on integrating GPs into rural hospitals, the AMA makes a series of recommendations addressing doctor shortages in rural areas, with benefits to local hospitals, better health care for regional communities and which contribute to a more viable sustainable career for rural GPs.

To view the AMA’s media release click here.

road sign with text 'hospital' against rural scene - wheat field, blue sky

Image source: Healthcare IT.

Stronger patient medicine involvement

Consumer involvement in Australia’s medicines choices has been further strengthened under a new strategic agreement Medicines Australia has signed with the Federal Government. The Consumers Health Forum (CHF) has welcomed the acknowledgement in the agreement that the Government and Medicines Australia have a common interest in patients having improved involvement in the decision-making for medicines access, the CEO of CHF, Leanne Wells, said today.

“We welcome the statement by Medicines Australia that the agreement heralds a new era by securing stronger patient involvement in critical processes and ensuring Australia keeps pace with access to rapidly transforming medical advancements developed around the world. This agreement also provides for more certainty of Government funding for new drugs. This is vital for the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme which aims at ensuring all Australians have affordable access to quality medication.

“The agreement means patients will have a role in the first independent review of Australia’s health technology assessment system in nearly 30 years. As well the agreement provides for a new process to incorporate patients’ views and experiences early in the processes of the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee (PBAC) which recommends to Government what new drugs should be subsidised.”

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

multiple tablet foil blister packs

Image source: Healthline website.

New process for job advertising

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

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

COVID-19 vaccine update for GPs webinar

The latest in the Australian Government Department of Health’s series of COVID-19 vaccine updates for GPs webinar will be held from:

11:30am–12:00pm (AEST) tomorrow, Thursday 30 September 2021.

At this webinar, you’ll be provided with the latest information on the vaccine rollout. GPs and all health professionals are welcome.

Joining Professor Michael Kidd AM this week will be Dr Lucas de Toca, First Assistant Secretary, COVID-19 Primary Care Response, Department of Health and Julie Tonga AOM, CEO, Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal and Community Services, Narrabundah, Canberra.

This week’s GP webinar will have a slightly different look and feel as it will be held via webex. This will enable guests from other locations to join the GP webinar panel. If you’re unable to view this webinar live, you can view it on-demand using the same link, within a few hours of the live stream ending.

When you’re ready to join, use this link.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Six-week blitz to boost vax rates in remote NT

Feature tile - Tue 28.9.21 - Six-week blitz to boost vax rates in remote NT

Six-week blitz to boost vax rates in remote NT

NT health authorities and Aboriginal organisations have embarked on remote blitzes to try and address vaccine hesitancy and boost rates in remote communities.

The Northern Land Council this week launched a series of campaign videos featuring local leaders and personalities to try and address misinformation posted online.

“We know our mob listen to their countrymen and women better than to any politician in a suit,” NLC chairman Samuel Bush-Blanasi said.

“That’s why we are working with strong Aboriginal leaders from right across the Top End on these films.”

The Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance NT is undertaking a six-week vaccination drive but has also called for restrictions to remain in place until 90-95 per cent of the Territory’s Aboriginal communities are vaccinated.

You can read the article in the ABC News here.

RFDS delivers more than 15,000 jabs at Wilcannia

Running 30 vaccination clinics at Wilcannia has helped the Royal Flying Doctor Service South Eastern Section (RFDSSE) reach a lifesaving milestone. This week it announced the delivery of more than 15,000 jabs to residents of regional and remote communities since June.

The Wilcannia clinics, operated by staff at the RFDSSE Broken Hill base in conjunction with the Far West Local Health District and Central Darling Shire Council, have protected almost 700 people against the deadly coronavirus. The town of about 800 people, 60 per cent of them Indigenous, has also benefitted from the presence of an RFDSSE doctor at its hospital.

RFDSSE Chief Medical Officer Randall Greenberg was among the medicos to work at the remote facility.

“With the number of COVID cases rising during late August we made the decision to make resources available to give the community peace of mind that help was on the ground. We continue to provide medical care through our emergency and primary health services,” he said.

You can read the article in the Daily Liberal here.

Royal Flying Doctor Service South Eastern Section nurse Caryn Love vaccinates James Hatch at Wanaaring. Image credit: Jason King Media.

Royal Flying Doctor Service South Eastern Section nurse Caryn Love vaccinates James Hatch at Wanaaring. Image credit: Jason King Media.

Cultural identification key to vaccinating mob

Most Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults are at risk of severe disease from COVID, but vaccine coverage requires patient identification. As Australia moves towards easing restrictions as states aim to reach vaccination targets, Professor Peter O’Mara, a Wiradjuri man and Chair of RACGP Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Faculty fears some communities may remain unvaccinated – and vulnerable.

“[NSW Premier] Gladys Berejiklian is saying that she’s going to open up at 70% double dosed and we’re rapidly approaching that. But if Aboriginal communities are only at 55%, given the cultural connections and the overcrowded living, it’s just going to be absolutely devastating,” he told newsGP.

“The saving grace is going to be getting the community vaccinated because the overcrowding situation in homes and that kind of stuff, we can’t solve that overnight. But in three weeks, we can solve the vaccine problem,” he said.

“I study pretty much every day because I want to be the best doctor I can. I’ve not seen an easier way to save lives than to do this,” Professor O’Mara said.

You can read the article in newsGP by RACGP here.

Professor Peter O’Mara, a Wiradjuri man and Chair of RACGP Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health, fears some communities may remain unvaccinated – and vulnerable. Image source: RACGP.

Professor Peter O’Mara, a Wiradjuri man and Chair of RACGP Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health, fears some communities may remain unvaccinated and vulnerable. Image source: RACGP.

Smaller residential aged care models beneficial

On the shores of a bay more than 500 kilometres from Darwin, a 10-bed age care facility is catering for a community of about 2,300 people. For Josephine Cooper it’s a secure home in an area grappling with overcrowding – and she is close to family.

“It’s good, we are happy here,” she said.

Lynelle Briggs, one of two people leading the Aged Care Royal Commission said:

“My vision is that, over time, large aged care ‘facilities’ will give way to smaller, more personal residential care accommodation, located within communities, towns and suburbs. Smaller, lower-density congregate living arrangements generally promote a better quality of life for everyone.”

Run by the Mala’la Health Service Aboriginal Corporation, the Maningrida centre also supports dozens of others in the community on home care packages. It’s a model staff and residents believe could benefit other remote communities.

You can read the article in the ABC News here.

Videos of mob who have gotten the COVID-19 vaccine

The Australian Government Department of Health has created a range of great videos of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people from all over Australia who have gotten the COVID-19 vaccine.

In the below video, Eastern Arrernte family, Catherine, Lily, Eddie and Shanley, explain their reasons on why they chose to get vaccinated and encourage us all to do the same.

Free dental services for NT kids and teenagers

Children and teenagers in the Northern Territory have a golden opportunity to boast the best smiles in the country with free dental services available to students enrolled in school under the age of 18.

Free services are available to children who are below school age or attending school or preschool via NT Health’s purpose built Casuarina Paediatric Clinic, school-based clinics or remote community clinics. The Casuarina Paediatric Dental Clinic provides ease of access for children of all ages with families able to bring along their toddler, primary school student and high school student for a dental check in the one visit.

All Territory children enrolled in school are also entitled to free custom-made mouthguards to protect their teeth during sport until they are 18 years old.

You can read the media release by the Northern Territory Government here.

10-year-old Jamal Van Den Berg Hammer gets his mouthguard fitted by NT Health Oral Health Therapist Lauren Cross.

10-year-old Jamal Van Den Berg Hammer gets his mouthguard fitted by NT Health Oral Health Therapist Lauren Cross.

Culturally appropriate gambling harm support in NSW

The Office of Responsible Gambling has awarded a four-and-a-half-year contract worth $1.3 million to NSW Aboriginal Safe Gambling Services, to provide support for First Nation communities across the state to access culturally appropriate gambling harm support services. Natalie Wright, Director of the Office of Responsible Gambling, said the new GambleAware Aboriginal is part of GambleAware’s recent reforms to strengthen connections between GambleAware Providers and Aboriginal communities.

“NSW Aboriginal Safe Gambling led by Ashley Gordon brings over 20 years’ experience in the delivery of services to Aboriginal communities along with a decade delivering the Warruwi gambling awareness program,” Ms Wright said.

“GambleAware is delivering gambling support and treatment services across 10 regions that are aligned with the NSW Local Health Districts. Each region has a GambleAware Provider dedicated to delivering local services to their area who will coordinate with NSW Aboriginal Safe Gambling to provide support to those who need it.”

You can read the media release here.

Winnunga News – August edition

In the August 2021 issue of Winnunga News:

  • COVID-19 Vaccinations Must Be Mandated For All AMC Prison Officers
  • Neville Bonner to be Immortalised in Bronze Statue in Parliamentary Triangle
  • Do You Remember When?
  • Cruel Figures Show Need For Royal Commission
  • ACT Grabbing National Headlines For All The Wrong Reasons
  • Aaron, Elijah and Aaron Jnr.
  • Is Canberra Really OK With This?
  • COVID-19 Update
  • Staff Profile

You can view the newsletter here.

Winnunga News - August 2021

 

New process for job advertising

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

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


dice spelling JOBS resting on keyboard

 

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: QAIHC comments on vax rates

feature tile text 'vulnerable First Nations communities could be at risk of being overwhelmed according to QAIHC' & image of cartoon drawing of two Aboriginal people wearing masks & 'QAIHC' along footer

QAIHC comments on vax rates

Vulnerable indigenous communities could be at risk of being ‘overwhelmed’ by COVID-19 if their vaccination rates continue to dwindle, the Queensland Aboriginal and Islander Health Council (QAIHC) has said.

Modelling based on current vaccination rates for indigenous populations suggests the 80% inoculation target for First Nations Queenslanders won’t be achieved until February 2022. The QAIHC says current health data shows 34.2% of Indigenous Queenslanders have had at least one vaccine dose. The state’s lowest vaccinated Indigenous population is in central Queensland at 17.78% fully vaccinated, with Townsville second last at 19.19%.

With target vaccination rates being set, and the notion of opening the borders to ‘live with the virus’, Queensland’s First Nations communities face the very real threat of being completely overwhelmed by COVID-19, QAIHC chair Matthew Cooke says.

“Targeted investment is needed immediately from both levels of government, otherwise our mob will be left behind when the borders open and be left most vulnerable to this virus”, Mr Cooke said. He says the vaccination gap is a grave cause for concern, particularly as discussions shift to reopening borders.

To view the full article in The West Australian click here.

Aboriginal woman with mask & health worker with mask & face shield

Image source: Yahoo! News website.

Min Wyatt outlines COVID-19 activities

The Minister for Indigenous Australians, the Hon Ken Wyatt MP has outlined a number of activities being undertaken by the Commonwealth to support states and territories, and Indigenous communities against the threat of COVID-19, including the formation of a National Food Security Taskforce. The role of this taskforce is to address food security issues in remote Indigenous communities, and work in close collaboration with states and territories under the National Coordination Mechanism to coordinate responses in a range of sectors. Ensuring a reliable supply of essential goods, groceries, pharmaceuticals and other critical supplies during the COVID-19 pandemic remains a high priority.

The National Indigenous Australians Agency (NIAA) has been working closely with the Department of Health from the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak and, with its regional presence and on-the-ground contacts, has coordinated with other jurisdictions throughout the pandemic. The Minister for Indigenous Australians and NIAA continue to receive correspondence from a range of organisations and individuals regarding COVID-19 and includes this information as part of its ongoing communication with relevant Commonwealth and State and Territory bodies.

To view Minister Wyatt’s statement in full click here.

AUSMAT’s longest deployment on home soil

The Australian Medical Assistance Team, or AUSMAT, is a crack team of emergency disaster responders who deploy overseas providing emergency humanitarian support during major disasters. They never imagined their longest deployment would be on home soil.

Emergency nurse practitioner Angela Jackson has been at the frontline of many AUSMAT international rescue missions but this deployment, although closer to home, is shaping up to be a much bigger challenge. Angie and her team were tasked with providing COVID-19 vaccination support to remote communities that are home to many isolated, vulnerable, and Indigenous Australians.

Regional local health services in the NSW far-western region were faced with the monumental task of covering this vast remote area to provide vaccinations with already pre-pandemic stretched resources.

To view the full ABC News article click here.

two health professionals full PPE country road back of van

Namatjira community vaccine rollout in Dareton, NSW. Image source: ABC News website.

Calls for clean water continue

The WA government is under pressure to ensure remote Aboriginal communities have access to clean drinking water.

WA Shadow Minister for Water James Hayward has called on “the Departments of Water, Communities and Health, to work together cohesively to deliver a program to identify and test drinking water supplies in Aboriginal communities that have been left untested for going on a decade. It is in no way appropriate for a first world country to dismiss a community’s cry to ensure they have clean drinking water.“

Kimberley Labor MP and Yawuru, Nimanburr and Bardi woman, Divina D’Anna said she would “continue to advocate for better quality services to remote communities. It is critical that we provide services to remote communities. I am passionate about ensuring that the people of the Kimberley, especially Aboriginal people in remote communities, are afforded the same opportunities and access to essential services that city people are.”

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

old broken water tap in outback

Image source: National Indigenous Times.

Dementia cases to double by 2058

A major report on dementia from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) was recently release, finding that dementia is the second leading cause of death in Australia and the number of people developing the disease is growing at an alarming rate. It is expected that by 2058, dementia cases will double to 849,300 Australians from the estimated 386,000 – 472,000 people living with dementia in 2021.

The Dementia in Australia report was launched by the Minister for Senior Australians and Aged Care Services, Richard Colbeck on Monday. Also announced at the launch was the establishment of AIHW’s National Centre for Monitoring Dementia. The aim of the Centre is to undertake routine monitoring of dementia, find data gaps and address them, and help inform policy that meets the needs of Australians with dementia.

For people who are Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander, rates of dementia are three to five times higher than non-Indigenous Australians. Due to an ageing Indigenous Australian population, AIHW believes the numbers of dementia among this group will continue to rise in the future.

To read the article in full click here.

Aged care worker Faye Dean (left) is supporting Winnie Coppin (right), who has dementia. Photo: Erin Parke, ABC Kimberley. Image source: ABC News.

New process for job advertising

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

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


dice spelling JOBS resting on keyboard

Stride4Stroke campaign

The Stroke Foundation’s flagship campaign Stride4Stroke is back. For many Australians, the various lockdowns around the country have made keeping fit and active a challenge. That’s why this November you’re invited to join Stride4Stroke your way, wherever you are, and raise vital funds to help prevent, treat and beat stroke.

Get together with friends, colleagues, or family to create a team or go solo.

Ask your friends and family to donate to your online fundraising page. Every conversation and dollar raised will help prevent stroke, save lives and enhance recovery.

Simply select any activity – we’re talking any activity, such as swimming, exercise bike, yoga, walking, running – set your Moving Minutes target, and stride your way this November.

Register here by Friday 15 October 2021 to go in to the draw to WIN your very own Apple Watch for access to the latest in fitness tracking technology.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Unvaccinated adult mob at risk of severe COVID-19 illness

Feature tile - Thu 23.9.21 - Unvaccinated adult mob at risk of severe COVID-19 illness

Two-thirds of First Nations Australian adults at risk of severe illness from COVID-19 if unvaccinated

Almost three-in-five Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults are at an elevated risk of developing severe illness from COVID-19 due to ongoing health inequities, found a major study undertaken by researchers and health practitioners at The Australian National University (ANU), the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO), the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) and the Lowitja Institute.

The study examined the prevalence of health factors like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer and smoking among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults, which all increase the risk of severe illness if an unvaccinated person gets COVID-19. It found 59 per cent of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults have these and other existing conditions that could increase the risk of needing intensive care admission, mechanical ventilation or death if they contract COVID-19 and are not vaccinated.

Dr Jason Agostino from ANU, and a medical advisor to NACCHO, said: “… there are almost 300,000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults who are at higher risk of getting very sick if they are not vaccinated and get COVID-19. This is why getting the vaccine is so important for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.”

Dr Janine Mohamed, CEO of the Lowitja Institute, said: “Our communities are strong and resilient and have responded rapidly and effectively to the pandemic when they have been trusted, enabled and resourced by governments to lead the way. We need governments to work together with Aboriginal Controlled Community Health Organisations to support culturally safe delivery of vaccines and improve data collection to increase vaccination coverage as quickly as we can.”

You can read the media release by ANU here.
The study is published in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health.

AFL legend Adam Goodes, NACCHO CEO Pat Turner, NACCHO Deputy CEO Dr Dawn Casey and Shadow Minister for Indigenous Australians, the Hon Linda Burney, MP all getting their vaccines to be protected against COVID-19.

AFL legend Adam Goodes, NACCHO CEO Pat Turner, NACCHO Deputy CEO Dr Dawn Casey and Shadow Minister for Indigenous Australians, the Hon Linda Burney, MP all getting their vaccines to be protected against COVID-19.

Spread of COVID-19 in Eurobodalla’s sparks alarm

Aboriginal elders, health professionals and politicians say they are concerned about the growing COVID-19 cluster among the Eurobodalla’s Indigenous community.

The cluster linked to Batemans Bay on the NSW far south coast has grown to 19 cases since the first case was reported on September 6.

Bega MP Andrew Constance has expressed concern that the Indigenous population is vulnerable to further spread.

“There is no doubt when you have a vulnerable cohort within the community, that is something we are very concerned about,” he said.

Despite the fact 60 per cent are now fully vaccinated in the region, there is a push to increase the rates among the local Indigenous population. Walk-in clinics will be open at:

  • The Wallaga Lake Community Hall from 10:00am on Thursday September 23.
  • The Bodalla soccer oval from 10:00am to 2:00pm on Sunday September 26.
  • Eden at the community health centre between 10:00am to 2:00pm on Saturday September 25.
  • Twofold, Jigamy on Thursday September 30. 

You can read the article in ABC News here.

Aboriginal elder Uncle Ossie Cruse is calling on the local Indigenous community to get the jab. Australian Story: Marc Smith.

Aboriginal elder Uncle Ossie Cruse is calling on the local Indigenous community to get the jab. Australian Story: Marc Smith.

Historic moment creates opportunity for COVID-19 vaccine promo

The McGowan Labor Government has launched the next phase of its Roll up for WA COVID-
19 vaccination campaign to help get as many Western Australians vaccinated as possible.

The emotive campaign reinforces the benefits of vaccination by featuring Western Australian personal stories of life before the COVID-19 pandemic, by reminiscing of a time when we were safely connected with the world and lived life without fear of a local outbreak.

The commercial (that can be viewed below the story) stars Sheree, a young Aboriginal nursing student, whose roots stretch between the Nyiyaparli and Banjima people originating from Port Hedland, who is passionate about encouraging people to get the COVID-19 vaccine because she wants to keep her community safe.

With all eyes on WA hosting the 2021 AFL Grand Final this Saturday, the McGowan Government is leveraging the historic moment in WA by maximising opportunities to promote the campaign and benefits of getting the COVID-19 vaccine.

The campaign also includes an informative video series with respected medical professional Dr Karl. Through the video series, Dr Karl answers the most common questions about the COVID-19 vaccines.

You  can view the media release by the McGowan Labor Government here.
For more information about the campaign, visit the Roll up for WA website here.

Growing urgency to vaccinate remote Elders before any border reopening

“It’s only a matter of time before Delta gets here, and it could be bad,” says Mr Chris Bin Kali, the director of the Broome Aboriginal Medical Service.

“It will only take one person and we could lose a whole community — lose the whole language, history, lore and culture in one go.”

It’s a grim message delivered with a sole aim — to get as many Kimberley people vaccinated as quickly as possible.

Outback ingenuity is on display. Some remote communities are raffling off washing machines and fishing gear to those getting the jab. Open-invite vaxathons are using country and western music and AFL players to try to cut through. Slowly but surely, it is starting to work.

Vickie O’Donnell, who heads Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Services, says she expects some communities will opt to remain shut.

The outback vaccine rollout is complicated by poor telecommunications, limited road access and a highly mobile population.

But in this critical moment, the years of work by Aboriginal health organisations to build a skilled health workforce is delivering a huge payoff.

You can read the story in the ABC News here.

Some communities are raffling off gift packs to encourage people to get vaccinated. Image source: Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Services.

Some communities are raffling off gift packs to encourage people to get vaccinated. Image source: Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Services.

Statement of support for TGA

Australia’s leading evidence-based health and medical organisations including NACCHO, stand beside Australia’s key medicines regulator, the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA).

We express full support for the vital work the TGA does to assess and regulate new medicines and vaccines. The TGA has a strong reputation for being expert, independent and rigorous in its assessments of new products, and is similarly rigorous in its assessment of the safety of vaccines, so as to improve and protect the health of all Australians.

Another essential role of our medicines regulator is to challenge, and where necessary, prosecute those who seek to mislead the Australian public about important health information so as to pursue their own interests. This role is particularly important in the current global health crisis.

Now is a time when Australians must have confidence in the assessments and recommendations of the TGA, and we believe Australians’ trust in the TGA is well placed.

You can read the statement of support at the Burnet Institute website here.

TGA logo

HOTspots platform maps antibiotic resistance patterns

A new digital surveillance platform has launched enabling healthcare professionals to map circulating antibiotic-resistant pathogens in northern Australia.

The HOTspots platform, developed in the HOT NORTH program, covers tropical areas in Northern Territory, Queensland and Western Australia and has information about up to 13 pathogens and their associated antibiotics.

Lead researcher, Dr Teresa Wozniak, Senior Research Fellow and APPRISE Fellow at Menzies School of Health Research, said the HOTspots program and digital platform support antibiotic stewardship activities in northern Australia, allowing clinicians to choose “the right drugs for the right bugs”.

“The HOTspots data, and now a digital platform, allow end users including doctors, nurses and Aboriginal health practitioners across regional and remote hospitals and clinics to have access to accurate local up-to-date data to make decisions at the point of care,” Dr Wozniak said.

View the HOTspots platform and read more about the HOT NORTH program.

You can read the joint media release by Menzies School of Health Research, Hot North and Apprise here.

HOTspots platform maps antibiotic resistance patterns across northern Australia. Image source: Hot North.

HOTspots platform maps antibiotic resistance patterns across northern Australia. Image source: Hot North.

Clinical learning e-modules for lung cancer symptoms

Lung Foundation Australia, in collaboration with Cancer Australia, has developed accredited clinical learning e-modules, based on Cancer Australia’s Investigating symptoms of lung cancer: a guide for all health professionals. The e-modules use clinical scenario-based learning to increase confidence among health professionals to recognise symptoms and signs of lung cancer, and support early and rapid referral of symptomatic patients into the multidisciplinary diagnostic pathway.

The modules have received accreditation from the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP), with health professionals able to gain accreditation of 40 RACGP CPD points.

Sign up for the modules here.

Symptoms of lung cancer. Illustration from the Lung Foundation Australia website.

Symptoms of lung cancer. Illustration from the Lung Foundation Australia website.

Improving Digital Connectivity for Indigenous Australians

Yesterday the Morrison Government launched public consultations for its landmark Indigenous Digital Inclusion Plan to accelerate the digital connectivity of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

“Ensuring Indigenous Australians have quality access to digital technology encourages entrepreneurialism, wealth creation and economic advancement – it’s about closing the gap and taking the next step after that,” Minister for Indigenous Australians, Ken Wyatt AM MP, said.

“Over the last year and a half, we’ve seen how people have relied on technology, not just to stay in touch with family and friends, but also to launch new ventures and navigate through COVID-19.”

“Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, particularly those in remote communities, are
missing out on opportunities to start new businesses and grow because of access to technology. That is why we are developing a comprehensive plan to address the barriers to digital inclusion,” said Minister Wyatt.

More information and a copy of the discussion paper is available on the NIAA website, or you can contact the Agency at digitalinclusion@niaa.gov.au or on 1800 079 098.
Submissions on the discussion paper close 1 November 2021.

You can read the media release by The Hon Ken Wyatt AM, MP here.

The Indigenous Digital Inclusion Plan will focus on three elements of digital inclusion: access, affordability and digital ability.

The Indigenous Digital Inclusion Plan will focus on three elements of digital inclusion: access, affordability and digital ability.

 

New process for job advertising

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

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


dice spelling JOBS resting on keyboard

 

MDHS Indigenous Postdoctoral Fellowship

The University of Melbourne Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences are pleased to announce that applications for the 2021 round of Indigenous Postdoc fellowships are now open.

The fellowship aims to support the next generation of Indigenous researchers who will actively contribute to health research and/or address critical health issues facing Indigenous communities. The Fellows will contribute to and enrich the Faculty’s diverse scholarly community and strengthen our existing Indigenous research community.

Applications are open to recent Indigenous MDHS PhD graduates and candidates who are near completion and expect to submit between 1 July 2021 – 30 June 2022.

The closing date for applications is Sunday 31 October (5pm) 2021.

We invite all eligible candidates who are interested in continuing an academic path with the Faculty to read more about the Fellowship and consider applying here.

Electronic Prescriptions for Consumers Q+A Session

As electronic prescriptions become more widely available across the country, the Australian Digital Health Agency invites you to join a “Electronic Prescribing Q+A Session for Consumers and Carers”. The purpose of the session is to provide you with a platform where your questions will be answered directly by an expert panel.

Ask any questions you might have related to your experience with using electronic prescriptions. Is there anything that wasn’t clear or left you wondering how it works? We welcome all your questions and there is no requirement to have used electronic prescribing prior to joining a session.

You will be able to participate by speaking directly with our subject matter experts, or by submitting questions anonymously through our questions platform. If you would like to submit your questions prior to the session to ensure they are addressed, please use the registration form below.

These sessions are open to consumer peak organisations, members and consumer advocates, carers and advisors.

Event title: Your questions answered: Electronic Prescriptions for Consumers

Dates: 
Thursday, 7 October 2021, 12-12.30pm AEDT (Sydney, Melbourne, Canberra)
Thursday, 14 October 2021 12-12.30pm AEDT (Sydney, Melbourne, Canberra)
Thursday, 21 October 2021 12-12.30pm AEDT (Sydney, Melbourne, Canberra)

Register here. (Select preferred date from drop-down menu)

 

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Natural helpers help counter vax hesitancy

feature tile text 'Aboriginal natural helpers help counter COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy' & vector image of syringe & vial

Natural helpers help counter vax hesitancy

An Edith Cowan University project funded by the WA government has been consulting with natural helpers in Aboriginal communities in the south west and Perth urban areas of WA. Led by Dr Uncle Mick Adams, Senior Aboriginal Research Fellow at the Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet, Professor Neil Drew, Director of the HealthInfoNet, and Associate Professor Stuart Medley from the School of Arts and Humanities, supported by community Cultural Consultant Brett Hill, the project has been asking natural helpers about their experiences of COVID-19.

Natural helpers are those in the community who are naturally turned to in times of crisis for information and support. A particular focus was to explore where people are getting their information from and how trustworthy they feel those sources are.

Many participants in the study felt that, despite the overwhelming weight of information available, they still lacked information that they could trust. They felt that many of the people used to promote the messages, like sports people or politicians were too far-removed from the circle of trust in communities. Many want to see and hear from local identities or natural helpers; people they know and trust. This includes Elders and community leaders but also, and importantly, other trusted natural helpers. They want authorities to visit and sit with them to discuss the issues in their community.

To view the full article click here.

large group of people sitting & standing around table

Mandurah Focus Group.

Improving Hep C diagnosis

Minister for Health and Aged Care, Greg Hunt, said to help improve the treatment times of those with hepatitis C, the Morrison Government will fund a new national point-of-care testing (POCT) program that can confirm active hepatitis C infections within an hour and allow treatment to begin immediately.

The Kirby Institute at the University of NSW and the International Centre for Point-of-Care Testing at Flinders University will be provided with $6.5 million combined to establish the program. Being able to provide the testing and treatment all in one visit is a real game-changer for people who would normally have to wait several weeks for a test result.

To view Minister Hunt’s media release click here.

young Aboriginal man in front of brick wall, overlaid with line drawing of hands & syringe, text 'protect' your blood

Image source: VIVA Communications website.

Kids with disability in OOHC

The 16th hearing of the Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability has shifted its focus to the experiences of Indigenous children with disability in out-of-home care (OOHC).

More than 20%of Indigenous children have a disability, compared to 8% in the general population. Out of the 45,996 children in OOHC in Australia in 2019 and 2020, 18,862 – more than 40% – were Indigenous despite only making up 6% of the total child population.

Earlier, the inquiry heard that some Indigenous families were having their disabled children taken from them amid a shortage of specialised support programs. The children often need constant care but a lack of services to help parents was leading to perceptions of neglect, health service the Central Australian Aboriginal Congress (CAAC) said. “They can’t meet the care needs of that child because the care needs are higher,” CAAC chief executive Donna Ah Chee said. “We need to have equitable access so that the ability to provide the appropriate level of care is not a consideration for children being removed.” Ms Ah Chee called for more early intervention and child care programs, and trained carers to help struggling families, many of whom live in poverty.

To view the 7 News article in full click here.

young girl gazing out a window

EY Oceania website.

CAAC welcomes NT COVID-19 plan

The Central Australian Aboriginal Congress (CAAC) has acknowledged the NT Government’s Plan for COVID-Management At Stage 3 of The National Plan which will enact some of the strongest protections in the nation for our vulnerable Aboriginal population.

“The modelling for Victoria shows that even opening up at 80% will lead to daily infections in the thousands along with potentially thousands of deaths and a hospital system close to breaking point,” said CAAC CEO Donna Ah Chee.” The NT cannot afford to get to anything like this and the NT Government should be commended for their approach,” she continued.

To view the media release click here.

CAAC logo & CAAC staff member receiving covid-19 vax

CAAC logo from CAAC website. Image source: NT News.

Speech Pathology Indigenous Health major

The number of domestic applications for the undergraduate speech pathology course at Southern Cross University (SCU) have increased 79% compared to the same time last year. It is the only Speech Pathology degree in Australia to offer an Indigenous Health major. The SCU Speech Pathology program has multiple community partnerships which support the students to engage in a range of external placements, across NSW, Queensland and beyond.

“One reason for our growth in demand for the course is a greater community awareness about the need for people trained in this discipline, particularly in regional, rural and remote areas,” SCU Professor Yoxall said.

“There is such a high demand for paediatric speech pathology services, that some families can wait years to have their young child assessed, thereby missing out of vital early intervention. We hear about children who have NDIS funding but are going through a full calendar year or longer without managing to secure an appointment with a speech pathologist.”

To view the Echo article in full click here.

Model improves Type 2 Diabetes outcomes

Research shows an innovative model-of-care that includes a weekly nurse review and an injection of a drug known as Exenatide-LAR significantly improves sugar management for Indigenous Australians with Type 2 Diabetes (T2D) in remote communities.

Diabetes affects Indigenous Australians at alarmingly high rates – more than three to four times that of non-Indigenous Australians. In some of the worst-affected communities in Australia, Indigenous Australians are experiencing a 13-fold increase in kidney failure for people aged 35-44 years and an alarming eight-fold mortality attributed to CVD.

A cluster randomised study known as the ‘Lower Sugar Study’ allocated two communities in Central Australia to receive either a once-weekly Exenatide injection with weekly nurse review and adjustment of medication for 20 weeks, or a weekly nurse review in addition to standard care over 20 weeks in the community without Exenatide.

The aim of the study was to test the feasibility of the intensive diabetes management model-of-care with and without weekly supervised Exenatide. The research team also looked at the change in HbA1c, which is a marker of sugar levels.

Associate Professor Ekinci said there are many reasons why Indigenous Australians have been impacted by diabetes. “We know that the social determinants of health matter here. These include significant cultural losses and dispossession, racial discrimination and food insecurity. These historical, social and other issues contribute to Indigenous Australians developing early on-set and rapidly progressive forms of diabetes,” Associate Professor Ekinci said.

To view the University of Melbourne article in full click here.

Aboriginal person's hands, blood sugar level testing

Image source: The Medical Journal of Australia.

New RPHCM website launched

Remote Primary Health Care Manuals (RPHCM) have launched a new website. The RPHCMs are a widely used and highly regarded resource in remote health across central, northern, and remote Australia – they support and promote good clinical practice in primary health care.

To view the RPHCM website launch flyer click here.

cover of each of 4 RPHCMs

You can also view the RPHCM September 2021 Update here. More than 85% of the Primary Reviews are now completed. Protocol groups endorsed include: birth and birth emergencies; bites and stings, injuries; mental health emergencies; skin; and wounds. Protocol groups coming up for endorsement include: cardiac, renal and diabetes; clinical assessment; contraception; eyes; and respiratory.

Secondary reviews of protocols to check that protocols are clear and can be applied to
remote practice will start later this year.

New process for job advertising

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

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

Rural and Remote Health Scientific Symposium

Virtual registrations are now open for the 8th Rural and Remote Health Scientific Symposium which will be held on Wednesday 6 and Thursday 7 October 2021. The full digital program includes more than 60 research presentations, poster sessions and engagement with high-quality keynote speakers.

The theme of the virtual symposium is ‘Connecting research, practice and communities’ – bringing together rural health academics, clinical researchers and practitioners, students, as well as policymakers engaged with the Alliance and the rural health sector. The symposium offers comprehensive knowledge learning and professional development, as well as the opportunity for personal engagement with speakers, presenters and peers.

To register for the symposium click here.

Professor Tom Calma AO will be a keynote speaker at the symposium.

Ngar-wu Wanyaraa Health Conference

Health professionals and community members from across Australia will come together online for the 6th Annual Ngar-wu Wanyarra Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Conference on Wednesday 13 October 2021. The conference will be hosted by the University of Melbourne, Department of Rural Health and showcase advances in the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, highlighting key findings and current health issues facing the community.

Multi-award winning broadcaster and journalist, Stan Grant, who is currently International Affairs Editor for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation will deliver the keynote address. Further information and updates can be viewed on the Department of Rural Health website here.

To register for the virtual conference click here.

Norm Stewart, Kidneys of the Dungala, 2012. Community/Language Group: Yorta Yorta, acrylic on canvas.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Young mob should be focus for COVID-19 vaccinations

Feature tile - Tue 21.9.21 - Young mob should be focus for COVID-19 vaccinations

Young mob should be focus for COVID-19 vaccinations

Although First Nations children comprise a relatively small proportion of the general child population, they represent more than 30 per cent of the Indigenous population.

And as state governments edge closer to easing restrictions at the 80 per cent double-dosed vaccination targets – targets that do not include under 16s – health and data experts are concerned it will be at the expense of First Nations people.

As children as young as 12 are faced with the choice to be vaccinated, mental health experts are urging support services and structures to be at the ready. Australian Indigenous Psychologists Association board director Tanja Hirvonen said the decision could weigh heavily on the shoulders of young Indigenous people.

“What can help to alleviate that pressure is support from family and friends and the health sector, and getting the information from the qualified professionals,” Dr Hirvonen said.

“Everyone has different circumstances, different health needs, are in different communities, so they can make the best decision for them and their families.”

Illawarra Aboriginal Medical Service chief executive Kane Ellis was concerned First Nations kids had been left behind in the vaccination rollout.

“Our young ones are getting missed in the conversation because they think they don’t have [health] issues, which is not the case for our young ones,” he said.

“We want to make sure we look after our young ones as much as our elders because they’re the future for us.”

You can read the story in the ABC News here.

Kahliah West and her pop, who was recently discharged from hospital. Image source: ABC News.

Kahliah West and her pop, who was recently discharged from hospital. Image source: ABC News.

90-95% First Nations vax rates needed to protect mob

While some Australians are awaiting the nation reopening after lockdowns with hope and optimism, others are approaching it with dread. This is because a blanket lifting of restrictions when the vaccination rate reaches 70% will have devastating effects on Indigenous and other vulnerable populations.

At present, vaccination rates in Indigenous populations are very low. Once restrictions are lifted everyone unvaccinated will be exposed to the virus.

Aboriginal organisations including NACCHO, the Aboriginal Medical Services of the Northern Territory (AMSANT) and the Central Australian Aboriginal Congress (CAAC) have called on state and federal governments to delay any substantial easing of restrictions until vaccination rates among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander populations aged 12 years and older reach 90-95%.

A 90-95% vaccination rate gives about the same level of population coverage for all ages as the 80% target for the entire population. That’s because Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities are younger than the wider population.

You can read the article in the Conversation here.

Australian Wiradjuri elder and Indigenous rights activist Aunty Jenny Munro after receiving a covid vaccine. Image source: The Conversation.

Australian Wiradjuri elder and Indigenous rights activist Aunty Jenny Munro after receiving a covid vaccine. Image source: The Conversation.

Boy with disability detained from age 10 in NT

A Northern Territory Indigenous teenager with disability has been intermittently imprisoned in the Don Dale detention centre since the age of 10, an inquiry has been told. The 17-year-old told the royal commission into violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation of people with a disability that some of the charges related to breaching bail when he fled abusive foster homes.

The young man, who gave evidence under the pseudonym IL, said he’d been placed in 20 Darwin foster homes in his life but had never had an Aboriginal carer or caseworker.

“I’ve never really had anybody to teach me right and wrong, you know,” he told the inquiry in a pre-recorded interview.

You can read the story in 7 News here.

Aboriginal health services are among those expected to give evidence to the royal commission into violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation of people with disability when the latest hearing resumes. The 16th hearing of the royal commission will on Monday examine the experiences of Indigenous children with disability in out-of-home care.

Representatives from the Central Australian Aboriginal Congress and Darwin’s Danila Dilba Health Service are expected to give evidence, along with a disabled Indigenous child and her carer.

The six-day inquiry is the second Indigenous-specific public hearing to be held by the royal commission. It aims to provide an insight into the life course for Indigenous children with disability and their experiences of violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation, including cumulative and systemic abuse and neglect by multiple systems over time.

You can read the article in The West Australian here.

The inquiry is the second Indigenous-specific public hearing to be held by the royal commission. Credit: AAP. Image source: The West Australian.

The inquiry is the second Indigenous-specific public hearing to be held by the royal commission. Credit: AAP. Image source: The West Australian.

Cherbourg calls for help to deal with suicide crisis

The community of Cherbourg has lost more than 10 people, mostly young men, to suicide in the past year. Local leaders say treatment models need a major shakeup to make them more culturally appropriate. Young men account for most of the deaths. Alex Speedy, 35, has stepped forward as a champion for mental health in the community.

“It’s important coming out the other side and talking about it,” he said.

Mr Speedy’s aunt, Dolly Davidson, has lost two sons to suicide in the past few years. She said she reached out to multiple services for help for her younger son, but they were not approachable and did not understand what he was experiencing. He passed when he was 17.

“There were nine other young men [who have died] … who used to attend school with my sons. You’re talking about 11 kids from one school and that’s a lot — 11 kids out of 20,” said Davidson.

Community services manager and SPAN member Edwina Stewart said:

“What’s not being addressed is the underlying stuff that’s happening to our families, the amount of grief and loss we’ve been going through,” she said.

“It’s like a dark cloud over our community.”

You can read the article in the ABC News here.

Alex Speedy wants young men in his community to know it isn't weak to speak up. (ABC Southern Queensland: Georgie Hewson).

Alex Speedy wants young men in his community to know it isn’t weak to speak up. (ABC Southern Queensland: Georgie Hewson).

Free Kimberley Mum’s Mood Scale training

The Kimberley Mum’s Mood Scale (KMMS) is a validated perinatal depression screening tool. It was developed in partnership between Aboriginal women and healthcare professionals in the Kimberley region of Western Australia in response to challenges with the mainstream screening tool the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS).

The KMMS is a two part screening tool. Part one of the KMMS is an adapted version of the EPDS using language and graphics as determined through the community co-design process. KMMS part two is a ‘yarning’ or narrative based assessment focusing on a woman’s risks and protective factors across seven psychosocial domains.

The training takes approximately one hour and will enable healthcare professionals to confidently and appropriately use the KMMS with patients.

Access the KMMS Training here.

For more information on the KMMS implementation project click here.

Please contact the KMMS project team if you have any further queries:
Emma Carlin on emma.carlin@rcswa.edu.au or
Kat Ferrari kmmsprojectofficer@kamsc.org.au.

$10m for frontline digital healthcare research

The Morrison government is investing $10 million in research projects that use the latest digital and mobile technology to improve primary healthcare delivery.

Australian researchers can now apply for grants to undertake critical research through the $20 billion Medical Research Future Fund, which is designed to help develop ideas, make projects viable and improve medical care.

Two areas of primary healthcare research will be funded – testing and implementing new applications of existing wearable electronic devices, and examining new ways of delivering point-of-care testing, particularly for people in rural areas.

Health Minister Greg Hunt said research was the key to better healthcare and treatments, and continued advances in technology could unlock more improvements in medical care, including helping people in rural and remote areas.

The $10 million in grants flagged on Wednesday will be managed through the National Health and Medical Research Council and is funded over two years though to 2023.

You can read the article in The Australian Financial Review here.

 Ambra Health DrHIT: Embracing Healthcare Information Technology in the Information Age - Your Medical Imaging Cloud. Image source Ambra Health website.

Embracing Healthcare Information Technology in the Information Age – Your Medical Imaging Cloud. Image source Ambra Health website.

New online MBS tool

A new interactive tool is now available to help GPs calculate out-of-pocket expenses when delivering care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients. The resources have been developed as part of the RACGP’s Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) online tool.

There are now two easy-to-access interactive guides, including one for GPs providing care to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. These list frequently used items such as face-to-face and telehealth MBS numbers. A complementary tool is available for other medical practitioners (OMPs). This includes items that are often employed by allied health providers and nurse practitioners, for example.

The tool allows users to enter fees for the services provided and subsequently calculate the patient’s out-of-pocket costs based on MBS rebates. Hard copies can also be printed.

You can read more on the RACGP website in GPNews.

The resource allows users to enter fees for the services provided and subsequently calculate the patient’s out-of-pocket costs based on MBS rebates. Image source: RACGP website.

The resource allows users to enter fees for the services provided and subsequently calculate the patient’s out-of-pocket costs based on MBS rebates. Image source: RACGP website.

 

New process for job advertising

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

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


dice spelling JOBS resting on keyboard

 

Australian Community Sector Survey – open

The Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS) and the COSS Network, supported by Bendigo Bank, have opened the 2021 Australian Community Sector Survey.

The Australian Community Sector Survey is the longest running survey of the community sector – by the community sector – for the community sector and communities we serve. This 2021 Survey is a vital opportunity for us to compare changes in the community sector between 2019 and now. The Survey covers the impacts of changes to funding structures, demand on services, emerging needs and pressures and sector priorities.

ACOSS and the COSS Network thank you for your help with the Survey. If you have any questions or would like to discuss this further, please email Penny Dorsch at penny@acoss.org.au for details.

The survey closes Friday 24 September 2021.

You can take the survey here.

ACOSS Community Sector Survey_2021

 

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Getting jabs to rural and remote communities

tile text 'ACCHOs finds ways to bring COVID-19 vaccine to vulnerable rural and remote communities' & image of front of 4-wheel drive on outback red dirt road

*Image source in feature tile, The Conversation.

Getting jabs to rural and remote communities

NACCHO Chair, Donnella Mills says Covid-19 vaccination is a key priority. There 143 Aboriginal community controlled health organisations with more than 500 clinics currently trying to get jabs in arms with the help of the Royal Flying Doctor Service.

Covid has cut a devastating swathe through the Navajo and Amazonian Indigenous people. “When I think of the devastation in other first nations, that footprint, that traditional passage of law, language, culture and custom, it just stops,” Ms Mills said. “So it is why we must, if we have questions, go to your doctor. We have to protect our longevity in the country, 60,000 years and we must keep going strong.”

And getting vaccination rates up in far flung communities is vital. Some of the lowest rates are in WA northern region with only 10.86 fully vaccinated and 21.29% fully vaccinated. Rates across all Indigenous communities are lower than all other groups across the board.

But some communities are doing exceptionally well. “Shout out to NT mob Maningreda they did over 65% of their population over four days and in the Kimberleys, they’ve had two pop up vaccination clinics and they have done in excess of 250 vaccinations each day. We have to get as close of possible to 100% because of the fact we have 2.3 times the burden of disease than non-Indigenous Australians,” she said. “Some of our services have been doing door to door if we identify there may be an elder that can’t get to a clinic. We are reaching out and finding ways of bringing the vaccine to them.” Ms Mills said.

Donnella Mills NACCHO Chair with nurses Melinda Pascoe (left), and Catherine Moro (right)

Donnella Mills NACCHO Chair with nurses Melinda Pascoe (left), and Catherine Moro (right). Image supplied.

Another hurdle has been vaccine hesitancy, and the anti-vaccine movement has targeted the Indigenous population with scare tactics. “It has been so challenging, there has been such a direct intentional move to put this anti-vax narrative out there and what we’ve had to do is face that front on and make sure we keep communicating with all of our mob and identifying leaders in the community encourage them to keep coming to speak to us,” Ms Mills said.

This news story has been released by News Corp Media and released in The Telegraph and The Advertiser.

CAAC vax efforts applauded

The Burnet Institute, whose mission is to achieve better health for vulnerable communities in Australia and internationally by accelerating the translation of research, discovery and evidence into sustainable health solutions, has affirmed their support for the efforts of the Central Australian Aboriginal Congress (Congress) to protect Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities from the Delta variant of the SARS-Cov-2 virus.

The Burnet Institute says the leadership of community-controlled services like Congress has helped keep Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities safe during the first and second waves of COVID-19 during 2020 and the success of that control effort was driven in no small part by the self-determining and community-led responses that should underpin the delivery of all health services to Indigenous communities.

A just published paper co-authored by Burnet colleague Troy Combo offers some interesting insights into the response to the pandemic by Indigenous communities in Brisbane.

Burnet’s consistent message to the public has been to ‘leave no one behind’. They note the low vaccination coverage among Indigenous Australians in most states and territories and the demonstrated vulnerability of communities in Western NSW to the severe impacts of Delta infections. The outbreaks in the West and Far West local health districts of NSW could be repeated in other areas of Australia unless Indigenous communities are protected by high vaccination rates and other public health measures.

To view the full article click here.

Lilly Watson and Montanna Hudson at a pop-up COVID-19 vaccination clinic at Yeperenye shopping centre in Alice Springs

Congress employees Lilly Watson and Montanna Hudson at a pop-up COVID-19 vaccination clinic at Yeperenye shopping centre in Alice Springs. Image source: ABC News website.

Remote AMSs mobilise rapid testing drives

As COVID arrived in remote areas of the Western NSW Local Health District (LHD), health workers on the ground mobilised testing and outreach services in a matter of hours. While the LHD set up makeshift testing facilities that would service the droves that followed, Walgett Aboriginal Medical Service (AMS) acting chief executive Katrina Ward sent out staff to collect swabs from close contacts to be processed back at the clinic.

“It just gave that speed of results because otherwise you were waiting a good 12 hours before it got back to Dubbo [pathology],” she said. “At one stage my staff worked until midnight trying to get through the close contact tests just to alleviate a lot of the fear and anxiety off the community.”

Remote health clinics like the Walgett AMS were given access to a rapid PCR testing device called GeneXpert. Each machine can test four swabs at a time and produce results in about 45 minutes — much faster than the tests taken at hospitals and pop-up clinics, which are sent to pathology labs. The technology is part of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander COVID-19 Point-of-Care Testing Program, a federally funded initiative managed by the Kirby Institute in partnership with Flinders University.

To view the ABC News article in full click here.

close up photo of rapid covid-19 tests

Image source: ABC News.

School exclusion further harms vulnerable

Increasing numbers of students are being excluded from Australian schools. This is done both temporarily, through informal and formal suspensions, and permanently, through expelling them and cancelling their enrolments.

Publicly available data in NSW, SA and Queensland shows these exclusions begin in the first year of school when children can be as young as four years old. Informal exclusions are more common at this stage and usually occur in the form of a phone call requesting parents “take home” their child.

But because exclusionary discipline does not address the issues underlying childrens’ behaviour — and can reinforce it — short informal exclusions quickly progress to longer, formal suspensions. And because suspension still doesn’t solve the problem, one suspension can become many.

Four in five students suspended more than five times have a disability. Along with students with a disability, Indigenous students and those living in out-of-home care are also massively overrepresented in suspension and exclusion statistics. These are not distinct groups. It is possible to be Indigenous, have a disability and be living in care.

To view The Conversation article in full click here.

rear view of youth with blue hoodie facing brick wall with graffiti

Image source: world.edu.

Concerns for long-term mental health

Psychologists are concerned about anxiety and depression becoming long-term problems due to the pandemic, with the worst effects felt by the young and the vulnerable.

Professor Richard Bryant, of UNSW Sydney’s school of psychology, an expert on post-traumatic stress and anxiety believes the effects of continuing lockdowns and uncertainty are cumulative. “We know from previous experience that people are able to manage certain stressors for a time, but after a while they start to erode our resources.”

Research shows adults are adaptive. But what happens in kids is different, because they’re not adapting. Instead, they’re maintaining higher and higher levels of distress as time goes on.”

The mental health of Indigenous Australians has also been negatively affected. Professor Pat Dudgeon, a Bardi woman and director of the Centre of Best Practice in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention at the University of WA, says the pandemic has amplified existing vulnerabilities and inequities, compounding the already extremely high rates of mental illness and psychological distress among Indigenous Australians. She also points to a series of pressures unique to Indigenous people, in particular the psychological effects of being prevented from carrying out cultural practices, concern about the potential loss of Elders due to infection, and of being unable to visit Country due to lockdowns and border closures.

To view The Saturday Paper in full click here.

hand palm holding white line drawing of brain, outback sunset in background

Image source: The Mandarin.

The most amazing opportunity

“People think general practice is so isolated, but it’s just such a nice cohesive community and the colleagues and friends I’ve made here are just sensational.”

New Fellow Dr Melanie Matthews has had a similar experience in the NT.

It was while spending three months as a junior doctor in Maningrida through the Prevocational General Practice Placements Program (PGPPP) that she decided to apply for AGPT, and says she hasn’t looked back. ‘I just really, really loved it,’ Dr Matthews said. “I decided that it was Aboriginal Health that I wanted to work in, and that the NT was the right place for that.”

Her training program was delivered through NT GP Education (NTGPE), and she says it was ‘very supportive’, with opportunities throughout the year for registrars to come together. ‘I thought it was excellent,’ Dr Matthews said.

Positions for the 2022 AGPT Program’s General and Rural Pathways are still available in NSW, Queensland, SA and the NT.

Applications for the final intake of the 2022 AGPT Program close at 11.59 pm (AEST) –  Tuesday 21 September 2021. More information, including resources to assist with the application process, is available on the RACGP website here.

To view the full article in GPNews click here.

Dr Melanie Matthews sitting at desk at clinic

Dr Melanie Matthews, Mala’la Aboriginal Health Board, Maningrida. Image source: ABC News website.

Aboriginal author wins Stanner Award

A thesis tracking the development of the first truly empowering national study of health and wellbeing in Indigenous Australia (the Mayi Kuwayu National Study of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Wellbeing) has won the 2021 Stanner Award from AIATSIS.

‘Making Cultures Count: Transforming Indigenous Health Data in Australia’ by Sarah Bourke was assessed by a panel of independent judges as the best academic manuscript submitted for this year’s award. The AIATSIS Stanner Award is presented biennially to the best academic manuscript submitted by an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander author.

Ms Bourke is a descendant of the Gidja people from the Kimberley region in WA and the Gamilaroi people on the border of NSW and QLD. Her doctoral thesis used an Indigenist research framework to examine the historical, social, and political factors that influenced the development of Mayi Kuwayu and its emphasis on measuring cultural determinants of health.

The Stanner Award acknowledges the significant contribution of the late Emeritus Professor William Edward Hanley (Bill) Stanner to the establishment and development of AIATSIS.

To access the full media release and an interview with Sarah Bourke click here.

tile text '2021 Stanner Awards best academic manuscript by an ATSI author congratulations Sarah Bourke' & portrait photo of Sarah Bourke

Image source: Books+Publishing.

Pregnant prisoners need more care

Research into the health of women and mothers in prison has found a high number of incarcerated Aboriginal women were pregnant, with many giving birth while in prison, according to a study by The University of WA. The paper, published in  Australian and NZ Journal of Public Health, identified the need to provide more opportunities for primary care in the prison system, particularly for Aboriginal women and mothers.

Adjunct Associate Professor Marisa Gilles from UWA’s School of Population and Global Health has researched prisoner health since 2008. Her findings revealed that 30% of incarcerated Aboriginal women had been pregnant while in prison, and 20% had given birth while in prison.

Periods of custody also served as a vital time for providing healthcare to women who may not have been engaged with a GP when living in the community, or who hadn’t had a positive experience with health services prior to incarceration. Dr Gilles’ research showed that one in five Aboriginal mothers in custody had themselves been separated from their families as children by government services. They are typically also young, with 42% aged under 30. Furthermore, 92% of Aboriginal mothers in custody were current tobacco users.

Dr Gilles said the results suggested a strong correlation between inmates’ mental health, alcohol and drug issues, and violence. “It is an area of interest for me, particularly with respect to the high proportion of inmates with alcohol and drug issues, the high prevalence of mental health issues, and the history of violence in the lives of women in prison,” Dr Gilles said. “Not only do prisoners frequently arrive in prison with a number of health problems, they may face higher exposure to some conditions as a result of their incarceration, for example, communicable diseases, mental health issues, and violence.”

To view the article in full click here.

shadowy side image of pregnant woman against prison bars

Image source: University of WA website.

New process for job advertising

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

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

Let’s CHAT dementia research project

The University of Melbourne’s research project Let’s CHAT (Community Health Approaches To) Dementia in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Communities aims to increase detection rates of dementia by developing and implementing a best-practice model of care for dementia care with a group of ACCHO partner organisations.

Let’s CHAT Dementia is running a free webinar series with Dementia Training Australia over the coming months. The main target audience is Aboriginal Health Workers / Practitioners, and nurses, allied health and other staff who work in ACCHOs and/or with First Nations patients in primary care. It’s a great opportunity for primary care staff to learn about culturally safe and appropriate best-practice care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living with dementia.

A session coming up on 6:00 PM (AEST) – Wednesday 22 September 2021 will focus on detection of cognitive impairment and dementia. It will be run by GP and Adjunct Professor Mark Wenitong from the Kabi Kabi tribal group of South Queensland and Adjunct Professor Edward Strivens, Clinical Director for Older Persons, James Cook University and Cairns and Hinterland Hospital.

You can view a flyer for the webinar here and register here.

female Elder being shown a booklet by a male health professional

Image source: Dementia Training Australia.

‘This Rural Life’ launch

You are invited to join RACGP Rural and RACGP Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health from 7.30–8.15 PM (AEDT) – Wednesday 6 October 2021 as they launch the ‘This Rural Life’ photo competition in  webinar from .

This innovative project puts the spotlight on RACGP members across all career stages working in rural or remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health by sharing their incredible stories and experiences to inspire others to consider a career in rural general practice.

You can register for the FREE online webinar here.

6 photos taken by GP Jean-Baptiste Philibert of outback

Jean-Baptiste Philibert’s rural placement inspired him to pursue a career as a rural GP. Image source: GPNews.