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

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

2021 Census – make sure you’re counted

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kimberley communities without drinking water

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

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

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

To view the full article click here.

two water tanks on a platform, overgrown in bush setting

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

Calls to prioritise support to reduce OOHC

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

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

To view the SNAICC media release in full click here.

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

Image source: The Guardian.

Oral hygiene promoted

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

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

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

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

Dirran the Kangaroo drawing for Dental Health Week

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

Gwandalan National Palliative Care Project

BRAMS Newsletter

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

Click here to view the newsletter.

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

Indigenous aged care preferred

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

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

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

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

To view the full article click here.

elderly Aboriginal man and woman against blurred green foliage

Image source: Australian Ageing Agenda.

New process for job advertising

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

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


dice spelling JOBS resting on keyboard

World Breastfeeding Week

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

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

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Accountability fundamental to Closing the Gap Partnership

Feature tile - Thu.29.7.21 - Accountability fundamental to Closing the Gap

Coalition of Peaks Media Statement: Accountability fundamental to Closing the Gap Partnership

NACCHO CEO and Coalition of Peaks Lead Convenor, Pat Turner AM, welcomed today’s release by the Productivity Commission of its second tool for monitoring impacts of the historic National Agreement on Closing the Gap, reached a year ago between the Coalition of Peaks and all Australian Governments.

“Today’s Annual Data Compilation Report joins the Productivity Commission’s Closing the Gap Dashboard (commencing last month) in providing building blocks for strong oversight and accountability under the National Agreement.

“The Coalition of Peaks, made up of community-controlled organisations, are accountable to their memberships and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities they serve. It is also essential that governments are accountable for their commitments under the National Agreement, which are geared to reaching targets on four Priority Reforms and an expanded set of socio-economic outcomes.

“Together, if we do this right, we will advance both self-determination and accelerate how gaps can be closed in the life circumstances of our People and other Australians.

“The Productivity Commission’s report and Dashboard are fundamental to tracking progress and holding all Parties to account for their responsibilities.

Read the media release by the Coalition of Peaks here.
The Annual Data Compilation Report by the Productivity Commission is available here.
You can view the Closing the Gap Dashboard here.

Illustration from the National Agreement on Closing the Gap.

Illustration from the National Agreement on Closing the Gap. Feature image: Coalition of Peaks logo.

 

Privileged to lead Danila Dilba

The Board of Danila Dilba Health Service is pleased to announce the appointment of its new CEO, Rob McPhee. Mr McPhee will officially commence at the end of August, and was selected from a competitive field of applicants from all over Australia.

Mr McPhee has extensive experience in the Aboriginal health sector, having served as the Deputy CEO and Chief Operating Officer at Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Services in Broome for the past six years. Prior to that Mr McPhee has worked in the energy and university sectors, consistently maintaining a focus on Aboriginal social justice, community development, and self-determination.

“I’m excited to be commencing in the role at the end of August, and getting to know the community that Danila Dilba has served for 30 years,” Mr McPhee said.

Read Danila Dilba Health Service‘s media release here.

 

Danila Dilba Health Service appoints new CEO, Rob McPhee.

Danila Dilba Health Service appoints new CEO, Rob McPhee.

 

76% vaccinated in two days

Proving small but mighty, the remote Aboriginal community of Warmun has vaccinated 76 per cent of its eligible population against the coronavirus in just two days.

The community, located 161km north of Halls Creek, vaccinated 182 community members in a huge effort alongside the WA Country Health Service.

Staff from the Kimberley Public Health Unit arrived in the community three days before the vaccination blitz to speak to the residents about the vaccine, and a well-attended primary school sports carnival provided the perfect opportunity to mingle and discuss people’s concerns.

Gija woman Catherine Engelke spearheaded the vaccination drive. Born in Derby and growing up in Halls Creek, the GP has family ties to Warmun and has worked with the community for a decade. She said being able to protect her people from the virus was a career highlight.

You can read the story in the National Indigenous Times here.

Dr Catherine Engelke. Image credit: The Australian Indigenous Doctors' Association.

Dr Catherine Engelke. Image credit: The Australian Indigenous Doctors’ Association.

 

Is your home COVID-ready?

The Aboriginal Health and Medical Research Council (AH&MRC) of NSW has developed a useful tool to help you and your family plan and be prepared should someone have to self-isolate at home. This could be of particular interest for people living in Sydney at the moment. The COVID-19 pandemic could last a long time.

The Getting Your Home COVID-19 Ready document helps you think about the whole family and what it means for them.

You can view the toolkit here.

Illustration from 'Getting Your Home COVID-ready'.

Illustration from ‘Getting Your Home COVID-ready’.

Home-based palliative care resources

Health professionals, health workers and other interested parties are invited to take part in a national consultation to assist in the development of tailored resources for the caring@home for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Families project.

The Australian Government-funded project aims to support the provision of palliative care at home for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, when this is preferred. This may help connect family, culture, community, country and the spiritual wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families and communities.

You can take part by attending an in-person event, via an online survey, Microsoft Teams meeting or having a one-on-one conversation with the project manager.

Read the Factsheet for more information.
To participate or register visit the caring@home website or call on 1300 600 007  

care@home image for health practitioners.

care@home image for health practitioners.

Campaign targeting syphilis outbreak

In 2020, notifications of infectious syphilis in Australia increased by nearly 90% from recorded rates in 2015.

Three populations are most at risk:

  • men who have sex with men
  • women of child-bearing age
  • those who live in outbreak areas (including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities).

The Department of Health has launched a new Infectious and Congenital Syphilis campaign. The campaign will run nationally on a range of online channels including social media (e.g. Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat), online video, search and programmatic ads.

Visit the campaign webpage for more information and to access a range of downloadable resources.
You can also read more about the campaign in the Department of Health news here.

View the campaign video below.

 

Hepatitis Day trivia fun

Thank you to the ACCHO staff who join in the 2021 World Hepatitis Day Virtual Trivia session yesterday afternoon. The trivia was organised by NACCHO in partnership with EC Australia, Burnet Institute. We had an amazing turn up with 11 teams competing for some awesome prizes.
A huge congratulations to:
🥇 WINNER: AHCWAlube, Aboriginal Health Council of Western Australia
🥈 Second Place: Derbarl Dragons, Derbarl Yerrigan Health Service Aboriginal Corporation
🥉 Third Place: Bunya Nuts, Cherbourg Regional Aboriginal & Islander Community Controlled Health Service
👗 👔 There was also a price for the BEST DRESSED team: Watj Mi Djama, Miwatj Health Aboriginal Corporation
ACCHO staff participating in the 2021 World Hepatitis Day Virtual Trivia session.

ACCHO staff participating in the 2021 World Hepatitis Day Virtual Trivia session.

 

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: NACCHO demands action to eliminate hepatitis

NACCHO demands action to eliminate Hepatitis

This year’s World Hepatitis Day has NACCHO and Eliminate Hepatitis C Australia Partnership (EC Australia) have joined forces to raise awareness of viral hepatitis and unite to demand action from decision-makers to eliminate Viral Hepatitis impacting communities. COVID-19 has significantly impacted access to healthcare services across the country and Australians suffering from chronic diseases, such as Hepatitis B and C, have been greatly impacted. An estimated 200,000 fewer people received Hepatitis screening than the expected number in 2020 – a 20% decrease. Globally, 325 million people are living with a hepatitis infection and every 30 seconds someone dies from a hepatitis related illness.

NACCHO media release on World Hepatitis Day 2021: “Hep Can’t Wait” Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities need to step forward for diagnosis and treatment to help prevent Hepatitis B and C.

More must be done to prevent new infections and ensure all that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who have hepatitis C are treated. Addressing these inequities can’t wait. For each person who remains undiagnosed, their risk of liver damage and complications increases over time. Hepatitis C is curable and easy to treat.

NACCHO Chair Donnella Mills states, “Our communities have worked hard to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in regional areas, proving that when we work together, we can drive positive results for our people. However, the pandemic should not put the treatment of serious diseases at a standstill. The prevalence of viral hepatitis rates within Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities is concerning.”

“I encourage our people to reach out to their local Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations to get tested and seek treatment and help us share relevant information on how to control these diseases.”

In 2021 EC Australia will be convening a national reference group to support the development of a National health promotion campaign targeting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. The campaign will raise awareness about and uptake of the new hepatitis C treatments and address ongoing stigma relating to hepatitis C and injecting drug use. The campaign will require further funding to ensure the message gets out to all Aboriginal communities.

AMS Redfern celebrates 50 years of service

Congratulations AMS Redfern Aboriginal Medical Service Cooperative Ltd on celebrating 50 years since the establishment of the very first Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Service in Australia in 1971!

The Sydney AMS has evolved from a small shop front medical clinic into a multidisciplinary Primary Health Care service and has now been treating generations of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander clients for over half a century.

The documentary created by NACCHO in 2016 celebrates the history of AMS Redfern.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people should be aware that this video may contain images, voices and names of people who have passed away.

ACCHOs need adequate vaccine supply

Dr Jason Agostino is calling for adequate supplies of COVID-19 vaccines for Indigenous health services and other places where Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are accessing healthcare. Dr Agostino says ‘we’ve seen that vaccination rates up to now have been lower than that of non-Indigenous Australians and that’s mainly been due to the supply, as we’ve been getting more Pfizer into Aboriginal health services we’ve seen coverage rates picked up and we need to support those efforts wherever it is happening.’

You can view Dr Agostino talking on ABC here.

screenshot of ABC interview with Dr Agostino re COVID-19 vaccine supply

AHWs increase patient outcomes

A new report has highlighted the importance of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health workers and health practitioners in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patient outcomes. Released by the NSW Bureau of Health Information, the report is the culmination of 8,000 Aboriginal people’s experiences in NSW public hospitals and health services between 2014 and 2019. It found that the support provided by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health workers overwhelmingly contributed to higher levels of patient care and satisfaction.

Proud Kuku Yalanji man and CEO of the National Association of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workers and Practitioners (NAATSIHWP) Karl Briscoe said the “report reinforces what we have always known”. The report found that 64% of patients supported by an Indigenous healthcare worker said they ‘always’ had the opportunity to talk to a doctor compared to 47% who were not supported by an Indigenous health worker. And 79% said that Indigenous health professionals ‘always’ explained things in a way they could understand compared to 68% who were not supported by an Indigenous health worker.

The report also brought together data from Indigenous women who gave birth in hospitals in the care of Indigenous health care workers.

To view the article in full click here.

Aboriginal female patient sitting up in hospital bed, medical professional sitting on bed & Aboriginal Interpreter Service employee sitting beside bed

Image source: SCIMEX website.

Delivering safe water to communities

Aboriginal communities have come together with water planners, tech companies, infrastructure engineers and academics to develop smart solutions. The drinking water is contaminated in nearly a quarter of remote Aboriginal communities in Western Australia. These are communities where Aboriginal people live on their homelands by choice. Traces of arsenic, nitrates, E coli and even uranium are revealed in a damning Auditor-General’s report.

Despite access to safe, acceptable and affordable water being a basic human right, according to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, many Australians are compromising their health when they drink water from the tap.

It’s a risk that Annette Stokes, Chief Investigator for the Western Desert Kidney Health Project, knows too well, “Every Friday we’re having funerals. Our people are dying.”  Stokes’ project set out to reduce diabetes and kidney disease in ten homelands communities. Through her research she identified unsafe nitrate levels in drinking water as a key disease risk in those communities.

To view the full article click here.

Aboriginal hand under running tap water, outback red dusty landscape in background

Image source: ABC News.

Aboriginal English in health communications

Indigenous Australians experience poorer health outcomes than non-Indigenous Australians. They are sick more often, die younger and are at higher risk of serious health complications, including heart disease. One way to improve health outcomes is through targeted health communication in local languages. The COVID-19 pandemic has seen increased attention given to the use of Indigenous languages in health settings around the world, including Australia.

Many COVID-19 resources have been developed in partnership with local communities, including in widely-spoken Australian Aboriginal languages such as Kriol. Other initiatives have inspired new Indigenous health professionals to effectively communicate complex medical terminology and concepts to communities. A frequent assumption among non-Indigenous people in Australia is that mainstream English media should work well for the almost 80% of Indigenous people in Australia for whom Aboriginal English is their first language.

You can view the article in full here and an animated Heart Foundation video encouraging Aboriginal people to get a heart check below.

Updated cancer portal

Cancer is a term used for a variety of diseases that cause damage to the body’s cells. Normally cells grow and multiply in a controlled way but cancer causes cells to grow and multiply in an uncontrolled way. If these damaged cells spread into surrounding areas or to different parts of the body, they are known as malignant. Some cancers can be treated, but the effectiveness of treatment and survival rates vary between different types of cancer and patients.

Cancer is a problem in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community. Some cancers, particularly lung and other smoking-related cancers, are the cause of many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander deaths. This is partly because high proportions of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people engage in smoking tobacco and other risk factors like risky drinking and poor nutrition. Other factors that increase the likelihood of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people dying from cancers are:

  • the types of cancers they develop (such as cancers of the lung and liver) are more likely to be fatal
  • their cancer may be more advanced by the time it is found (which is partly because Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people may visit their doctor later and/or may not participate in screening programs)
  • they often have higher rates of other conditions that affect the cancer or cancer treatment
  • they are less likely to receive optimal treatment

The Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet has an updated Cancer portal providing information on bowel, breast, cervical, lung and prostate cancer as well as risks and protective factors, prevention and management and cultural perspectives.

You can access the cancer portal here. and the Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet Summary of cancer among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people here.cover of Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet summary of cancer among ATSI people publication, including artwork 'Karnta' by Corinne Nampijinpa Ryan

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Conference

The Department of Rural Health invites you to attend the 2021 Ngar-wu Wanyarra Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health Conference.  This year the conference will be held online, commencing at 9:30 AM on Wednesday 13 October 2021.  The conference will begin with a keynote address from Mr Stan Grant.

The conference program is currently being finalised and updates can be viewed on the Department of Rural Health website here.

You can register for the conference here – registrations close Thursday 23 September 2021.

If you have any further enquiries please do not hesitate to contact Ms Di Doyle (Events Coordinator) on 02 5823 4512 or by email here.

banner Aboriginal dot art & portrait shot of Stan Grant

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: Delta outbreak would devastate remote communities

Delta outbreak would devastate remote communities

In an article in the ABC News, outback doctors warn that the COVID-19 Delta variant makes a regional outbreak even more dangerous. They said they do not have enough staff, let alone ventilators, to cope with a Delta outbreak.

NACCHO medical adviser, Dr Jason Agostino, said to ABC News that talk of abandoning any attempt to control COVID-19 would be dangerous.

“In remote Australia and across all of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australia, we only have around 22 per cent of people [who] have received a first dose of any vaccine, and that’s much lower than in the non-Indigenous population.

“We know that COVID-19 causes more serious disease in people with chronic conditions, [such as] diabetes and heart disease and [that] it spreads easily among crowded houses.

“Unfortunately, many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have these chronic diseases from younger ages and also live in crowded houses.

Dr Agostino agreed it was important for Australia to find vaccines that were safe for Indigenous children and said that, until a much higher rate of vaccination had been achieved, “lockdowns are going to be a way of life”.

You can view the article in ABC News here.

Kids playing in remote community. Image credit: Brisbane Times.

Kids playing in remote community. Image credit: Brisbane Times. Feature tile image credit of University of Queensland website.

 

Successful place-based pandemic approach

Pandemics such as COVID-19 are a serious public health risk for Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, yet primary healthcare systems are not well resourced to respond to such urgent events. At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, a federal government advisory group recommended a rapid, tailored Indigenous response to prevent predicted high morbidity and mortality rates. This paper examines the efforts of Gurriny Yealamucka Health Service (Gurriny), which in the absence of dedicated funding, pivoted its operations in response to COVID-19.

Gurriny is the only primary healthcare service in the discrete Indigenous community of Yarrabah, Far North Queensland. They responded to COVID-19 by leading with local solutions to keep Yarrabah safe. Four key strategies were implemented: managing the health service operations, realigning services, educating and supporting community, and working across agencies.

The success of the locally led, holistic, comprehensive and culturally safe response of Gurriny suggests that such tailored place-based approaches to pandemics (and other health issues) are appropriate, but require dedicated resourcing.

You can read the paper in the DocWire News here.

Gurriny Yealamucka Health Service

Gurriny Yealamucka Health Service.

 

Eye health inequity

A recent study published on Science Direct provides a critical realist analysis of eye health inequity among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians.

The prevalence of diabetes among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians is three times greater than non-Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, contributing to a greater risk of blindness from treatable and preventable ocular conditions, most prominently cataract and diabetic retinopathy. In rural and remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, blindness prevalence is higher, and ocular treatment coverage and uptake are lower. In collaboration with Aboriginal Community Based Researchers, this study explored complex contingent factors that shape access to eye health services among rural and remote Aboriginal Australians living with diabetes.

The paper highlighted that:

  • Sociocultural contingencies shape eye health outcomes among Aboriginal Australians.
  • Linguistic, economic, and cultural marginalisation underpin eye health inequity.
  • Differences between Western biomedical and Aboriginal cultural norms form tensions.
  • Supporting linguistic and cultural sovereignty in clinical spaces is needed.
  • Cultural responsivity training and an expanded Aboriginal health workforce are key.

Read the full study in Science Direct here.

close up image of face of elderly Aboriginal stockman with felt hat, blind in one eye

Image source: The Fred Hollows Foundation website.

 

Bridging the Gap in homeownership

Owning your own home has long been part of the Aussie dream, however for some indigenous Australians this pursuit is difficult to achieve for a number of economic, social and cultural reasons.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics 2016 Census, 38 per cent of indigenous people owned their own home compared to two-thirds of non-indigenous Australians.

According to AIHW, “not having affordable, secure and appropriate housing can have negative consequences, including homelessness, poor health, and lower rates of employment and education participation – all of which can lead to social exclusion and disadvantage”.

Acknowledging this fact, Nicheliving has established a new division called Kambarang, created to bridge the gap for indigenous people and their communities, providing access to affordable housing opportunities to make their homeownership dreams a reality.

“The unit’s main goal is to support homeownership through providing open discussions, cultural support, credit assistance, communication and process support, affordable housing options, loan support and an end-to-end experience, including settlement,” said Nicheliving Managing Director Ronnie Michel-Elhaj.

You can read the story in The West Australian here.

Nicheliving - Willetton

Nicheliving – Willetton. Image credit: Julius Pang via The West Australian.

 

NSW Implementation Plan for Closing the Gap

The NSW 2021-2022 Implementation Plan for Closing the Gap is focusing on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander self-determination. The starting point in 2021-22 is to focus on the five Priority Reform areas as they know that transforming the way governments work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities is key to creating positive change. They have also identified a few focus areas under each Priority Reform.

They are working in partnership to bring together expertise from across Aboriginal communities, Aboriginal organisations and government agencies to develop further detailed and ambitious actions. To do this, they need your voice. Get involved and tell them what will make the biggest difference to you and your communities here.

You can view the 2021-22 NSW Implementation Plan for Closing the Gap here.
Visit the NSW Government Aboriginal Affairs website for more information here.

School students from St Francis Xavier School in Daly River, Southwest of Darwin in the Northern Territory. Image credit: The Herald Sun.

School students from St Francis Xavier School in Daly River, Southwest of Darwin in the Northern Territory. Image credit: The Herald Sun.

Winnunga Newsletter

The Winnunga Newsletter June – July 2021 edition is now available here.

Winnunga News June-July 2021 banner

Red socks for kidney support

Kidney Health Australia’s Red Socks Appeal is back and better than ever. Grab your friends, family, your work buddies, even your beloved pooch and either join Kidney Health Australia on one of their Red Socks Walks, set yourself a challenge or buy yourself a pair of red socks to show people living with kidney disease you care.

Wondering what Red Socks have to do with kidney disease? People on dialysis are strapped to a machine for 60 hours a month on average while it cleans their blood. While having dialysis treatment they often get cold, especially their feet. This is why Kidney Health Australia is asking you to go bold this October and wear Red Socks to show people living with kidney disease that you care.

Read more about the appeal and how you can show your support here.

Kidney Health Australia Red Sock Appeal

 

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

Save the Date

Connecting to Country grants program now open

The Connecting to Country grants program is now open, providing support to culture and arts projects and initiatives that renew links between community, Country and culture.

Aboriginal people and organisations can apply for up to $25,000 for activities on-Country that encourage sharing of cultural knowledge and skills between generations, preservation of culture and strengthening of communities.

Applications close: 26 August 2021.
For more information visit the Government of Western Australia Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries website here.

Connecting to Country program image.

Connecting to Country program image.

 

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Rethinking chronic pain and opioid use

feature tile text 'rethinking opioid use for chronic non-cancer pain' & photo of multiple different coloured pills

Rethinking chronic pain and opioid use

NACCHO and NPS MedicineWise have released two new videos in the Asking Painful Questions series. In the video trailer below, Chronic pain and opioids, Aboriginal man Steve talks about living with chronic pain 24/7 for 22 years and Dr Hester Wilson who is a GP and Addiction Specialist talks about the risks of using opioids.

In the second video trailer, Rethinking Opioids in Chronic Non-Cancer Pain, Pene Wood who is a Pharmacist at Wathaurong Aboriginal Co-operative Health Service talks about how opioids work, their side effects and changes to tolerance. She also talks about the new regulations around opioid use and how they will increase safety and protect patients, and how better pain management is important.

You can view NACCHO’s previous news item about the Asking painful questions video series here and access the Living with pain section of the NPS MedicineWise website here including the full video Asking Painful Questions – Yarning about managing pain, in which the above two trailer videos have been extracted.

ACCHO leads hepatitis C elimination effort

Bulgarr Ngaru Medical Aboriginal Corporation (BNMAC), Burnet Institute and the Australasian Society for HIV, Viral Hepatitis and Sexual Health Medicine (ASHM) are joining forces to help stop new infections and reduce severe illness due to hepatitis C infection among Aboriginal communities in northern NSW.

Aboriginal people represent around 8% of Australians living with chronic hepatitis C infection, while comprising only 3% of the population. They are four times more likely not to be included in hepatitis C surveillance data, which means many will miss out on effective treatments if they remain undiagnosed. There are also barriers that prevent testing, treatment and continuing with hepatitis care, including the need for trained staff who can engage in culturally sensitive ways, as well as the stigma felt by Aboriginal people with hepatitis C, which studies have shown reduces their intention to take up treatment.

The project brings together Bulgarr Ngaru’s extensive knowledge of Aboriginal communities in northern NSW; Burnet’s expertise in implementation research, surveillance, monitoring and evaluation; and ASHM’s track record in delivering clinical education in blood borne viruses including viral hepatitis.

To view BNMAC’s announcement in full here.

Bulgarr Ngaru Medical Aboriginal Corporation (NSW) staff completing screening for hepatitis C

Bulgarr Ngaru Medical Aboriginal Corporation staff completing screening for hepatitis C.

Yarn Up about COVID-19 vaccination

The Centre for Aboriginal Health is hosting a Yarn Up video event about COVID-19 vaccination which will be featured on the NSW Health Facebook page on Thursday 29 July 2021.

This is an opportunity for you, your colleagues or community members, to ask any questions about COVID-19 vaccination and have them answered by Aboriginal researchers and a Doctor with specialist knowledge in vaccination.

All and any questions you have about COVID-19 vaccination are welcomed – The Centre for Aboriginal Health will ensure these are answered with the most accurate and current information. As many questions as possible will be answered as part of the Yarn Up and by email if they can’t be answered during the event.

Some examples of questions you might want answers to include:

  • How are the COVID-19 vaccinations made?
  • Are the COVID-19 vaccines safe?
  • Which is the best vaccine?
  • Why should I get the COVID-19 vaccine?
  • Where can I get the COVID-19 vaccine?
  • What can I expect when I get my COVID-19 vaccination – what are the likely side effects ?
  • Will the vaccination be mandatory?
  • Do all Health Workers need to  be vaccinated?
  • Can I pass on COVID-19 to other people if I am vaccinated?
  • What is my immunity after the first dose?
  • Will we need booster shots each year?

Please send your questions through a video recorded on your phone or written, by email by 5:00 PM Monday 26 July.

Some tips on recording your video questions:

  • Try and find a space with good light on your face and an interesting background that is not brighter than you.
  • Film in horizontal “landscape” format.
  • Sit the laptop or phone an arms-length away at around eye height.
  • When you speak, look into the camera lens rather than at the screen.
  • If you are asking multiple questions, make sure there is a gap in between each one.text 'CORONAVIRUS Q&A' against navy blue background with COVID-19 virus vector images

Mental health unit for incarcerated women

Women incarcerated in WA have been given access to the first dedicated mental health unit inside the state’s prison system. A 29-bed unit opened on Friday last week at WA’s largest women’s jail, Bandyup Women’s Prison, to address the complex mental health needs of women behind bars.

Bandyup inmate Anna* told SBS News the facility was a step in the right direction. “It will make [people] feel happy about themselves, have a yarn and a conversation. It will change their mood swings on the day, to actually talk to someone about their problems,” she said.

The new $7 million facility – called Bindi Bindi, the Aboriginal Noongar word for butterfly – will be accessible to the 618 women currently in prison across the state, of which nearly half are Indigenous.

Anna, a Yamatji-Noongar woman, has become a support worker herself for other inmates at Bandyup. “I’ll be proud for them to change and to cope properly in prison with their mental health, just to see them not come back, to go the right way, in their life,”

To view the SBS News story in full click here.

photo of back of woman with two long plaits at the door of a jail cell

Photo: Aaron Fernandes. Image source: SBS News.

Help get your community Census-ready

The 2021 Census is happening soon and ABS Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff have been working with communities across Australia to get Census-ready. The national advertising campaign began on 4 July. It includes materials and resources to encourage all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to complete the Census this August. Radio advertising will be translated into 19 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages.

It’s important that we continue to work together, to make sure all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are counted in the Census. The data from the 2021 Census will be more important than ever. It will provide valuable insights into how the pandemic has changed life in Australia.

A range of resources have been developed to support you in getting your community Census-ready, including:

  • Indigenous stakeholder toolkit
  • conversation guide
  • information sheets and posters
  • infographics and social media tiles

You can access all of these resources here.

You can also read and share stories about how Census data has benefited Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. For example, you can access the story of how Orange Aboriginal Medical Service used Census data to plan its new wellbeing centre, Walu-Win, for the local community here.

All the resources are available for you to download and share on your channels, as well as help you answer any questions from your community.  You’ll get a hard copy pack of some resources in the mail shortly. Remote communities are counted by Census staff throughout July and August, and we’ve been active in many communities until recently.

The health and safety of the community and our staff will continue to be our highest priority. We’re closely monitoring the developing situation across multiple states and territories and will adapt our approach to suit local circumstances. Visit the Census website for the latest updates.

If you have any questions, please reply to this email here or get in touch with your local Census contact. You can also follow us on Facebook for up to date information.

Contraception baseline data survey

Are you a clinician with something to say about contraception and abortion care? General practitioners, practice nurses, and community pharmacists working in general practice/primary care are invited to participate in a short 15 minute survey in the area of long-acting reversible contraception and medical abortion.

The aim of the study is to establish national baseline levels of knowledge, attitudes, and current practices regarding long-acting reversible contraception and medical abortion. The study is led by Prof Danielle Mazza, Head of Department of General Practice at Monash University and SPHERE CRE, and funded by an NHMRC Partnership Grant. You will be reimbursed with a $40 gift card for your time.

Please complete the survey here or contact AusCAPPS here for more information.

This project is in collaboration between Monash University, The university of British Columbia, The University of Sydney, The Centre of Excellence in Rural Sexual Health, La Trobe University, Family Planning NSW, Marie Stopes Australia and SPHERE CRE.SPHERE CRE Centre or Research Excellence log - purple green lavender sphere & text 'SPHERE'

Australia-first eye care nurse survey

Australia’s nurses are being encouraged to take part in a research survey which will help shape the discussion about the future of nurse involvement in eye care. The survey, the first of its kind in Australia, also aims to create a snapshot of the eye care nurse workforce.

CERA researcher Heather Machin, a registered nurse, is leading the study which is supported by the Australian Ophthalmic Nurses Association. She says the study will gather key information about the kinds of settings nurses, caring for people with eye care needs, work in, where they are located and the different roles they perform. “We hope the data collected in this survey will contribute to policy discussions about the future of eye health services in Australia and the role of nurses in how they are delivered,’’ she says. “Currently there is a wealth of data about eye care professionals such as orthoptists, optometrists and ophthalmologists – but there is no data on nurses, despite being the largest healthcare provider group, and their critical role in many settings.

To view the Centre for Eye Research Australia news item in full click here and for information about the survey and how to participate click here.

tile text 'Centre for Eye Research Austrlai - Survey: Australian nurses involved in eye care - Take part in an anonymours 15-minute survey' photo of nurses face in cap, mask, blue gown, Eye Research Australia logo, peach colour background behind text in black font

Remote PHC Manuals project update

The Remote Primary Health Care Manuals are currently being reviewed and updated. Monthly updates are being provided to health services and other organisations to keep them up-to-date throughout the review process. The July 2021 Project Update can be accessed here.

FYA identified roles for mob

The Foundation for Young Australians (FYA) has some deadly identified roles for mob to work on building the power of our young people, their campaigns and movements to heal injustice and transform the future! Young mob are strongly encouraged to apply for the following positions:

First Nations Director, full-time, $105k-113k pa. Location flexible.

The First Nations Director will have a leading role in putting our First Nations Strategy into practice, working closely with young First Nations mob and communities to build and unlock their power to transform the future. We’re looking for a campaigner, activist, advocate or organiser who has experience running projects with community. This person will be working across FYA including with the Advocacy and Campaigns team, Capacity Building and Strategic Projects on exciting initiatives.

2 x First Nations Program Officers, part time or full-time, 18 month contract, $65k-75k pa. Location flexible.

This is a learning and development opportunity – the Program Officers will be working closely with the First Nations team to coordinate campaigns, movement building and programs in community with young mob. We’re looking for someone passionate about building the power of young mob, with experience or interest in working with community on place-based and national projects, ideally someone who loves facilitating and doing training with mob. The Program Officers will be getting coaching, training and guidance and gain experience in campaigning, media, government relations, strategy, project management and more.

FYA is also looking for two exceptional individuals to join the Movement Building team as Training Lead, to deliver a nine-month long place based program in Melbourne’s West, and Wellbeing Project Lead,  to create an environment of safety, nourishment, and care  for young people leading hard, game-changing and important work to heal injustice and transform the future.

Last but not least, FYA’s social enterprise YLab is searching for a nurturing individual with a strong track record of empowering young people to deliver creative co-design projects to become its new Learning and Community Lead.

If you are interested in joining FYA, or know someone who would be a great fit for any of the roles, please direct them here. People can also email Roxanne Moore, Executive Director of FYA, who is keen to yarn with anyone interested in these positions here.

Applications close Wednesday 4 August at 6pm AEST.

tile text 'FYA - Foundation for Young Australians' - photo of 4 participants on the IMPACT NT Indigenous Youth Leadership Program sitting outside on rocks, sandy soil, green trees in background

Participants of FYA IMPACT NT Indigenous Youth Leadership Program.

You can view other job listings on the NACCHO website here.

World Hepatitis Day

On the 28 July each year, World Hepatitis Day brings the world together to raise awareness of the global burden of viral hepatitis and to influence real change. In Australia, the national World Hepatitis Day campaign is coordinated by Hepatitis Australia.

World Hepatitis Day is an opportunity to step up national and international efforts on hepatitis, encourage actions and engagement by individuals, partners and the public and highlight the need for a greater global response as outlined in the WHO’s Global hepatitis report of 2017. With a person dying every 30 seconds from a hepatitis related illness – even in the current COVID-19 crisis – we can’t wait to act on viral hepatitis. World Hepatitis Day 2021 in Australia will align with the global theme, which is ‘Hep Can’t Wait’.

For more information access the Australian World Hepatitis Day website here.

You can also read about an NACCHO member’s involvement in an initiative to boost hepatitis C elimination in regional Aboriginal settings and beyond in the Good News Story section of above.

bannder text 'Australian can't wait to eliminate Heapatitis! #WrldHepatitisDay #HepCantWait - World Hepatitis Day HEP CAN'T WAIT!' orange font, navy background with vector image in lighter blue of the globe

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

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

Ask your mob, your way, R U OK?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1,000s invited to join vaccine rollout

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

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

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

For further information visit the Department of Health website here.

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

Image source: BBC News.

ACCHO model key to PHC reform?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Indigenist Health Humanities for QUT

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

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

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

To view the full article click here.

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

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

Inspiring rural Aboriginal health careers

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

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

To view this full article click here.

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

Image source: newsGP.

Pandemic’s health workforce impact

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

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

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

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

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

To view this article in full click here.

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

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

Health treatment satisfaction gap

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

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

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

To view the full article click here.

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

Image source: The Conversation.

TGA website refresh – have your say

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

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

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

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

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

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

New process for job advertising

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

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

Proud in culture, strong in spirit webinar

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

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

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

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Census to inform quality health care

Feature tile - Thu.22.7.21 - Census to inform quality health care for mob

Census to inform quality health care

First Nations surgeon and Worimi man, Professor Kelvin Kong, said Census information helps health professionals and policy makers locate areas of need, and target efforts to improve community health across Australia.

“Census data helps me understand areas where Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people live, their ages and other basic demographic information.”

“We can combine this with other data to see which areas have better access to hospital treatment, for example, and also see the differences between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians in treatment rates.

“This helps us target our efforts to improve health services by facilitating better access to quality care where and when it is needed.”

“I encourage all our mob to make sure they are included in this year’s Census. It’s the best way to let policy makers know what services are needed, and where, to help us grow and be healthy.” Professor Kong said.

View the case study by the Australian Bureau of Statistics here.

The 2021 Census will be held on Tuesday 10 August.
People living in remote communities will complete the Census during July and August with help from Census staff. Information and resources to support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities is available here or by phone on 1800 512 441.

Census image tile featuring Professor Kelvin Kong.

 

$50,000 raised for Birthing on Country program

The program requires $800,000 to be raised in order to be facilitated, which will help Indigenous women experience their pregnancy in a culturally safe environment. Aboriginal midwife at Waminda, Melanie Briggs said:

“It’s about providing clinical maternity care and embedding culture as part of that.”

“It will also provide social and emotional support and ensure Indigenous women have access to services that they need to.

“The program also invests in Indigenous women for workforce including increasing the number of Aboriginal midwives in the country.”

To donate to the Birthing on Country fundraiser, visit the GoFundMe page here.
Read the full story in the South Coast Register here.

Birthing on Country. Image credit: www.southcoastregister.com.au.

Birthing on Country. Image credit: http://www.southcoastregister.com.au.

 

Grant to give babies best start in life

The Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) is supporting research to improve the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mothers and babies.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women currently have limited access to maternity and midwifery care that meets their cultural, spiritual, social, emotional and physical needs.

Research has highlighted the importance of culturally safe models of care for birthing mothers, which help give babies the best possible start in life.

The MRFF 2021 Improving the Health and Wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Mothers and Babies grant opportunity is supporting research that will improve access to culturally safe care during pregnancy, birthing and the post-natal period.

Up to $15 million is available over four years from 2021-22 to 2024-25. You can read more about the MRFF’s Emerging Priorities and Consumer-Driven Research initiative here.

Visit GrantConnect for more information about this grant opportunity.
Applications open on 12 August 2021, and close on 25 November 2021.

Research to improve health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mothers and babies.

Research to improve health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mothers and babies. Image credit: health.gov.au website.

 

Alcohol sold to children online

The Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education (FARE) and Berry Street are calling on governments to keep families and children safe from the harms from online sales and delivery of alcohol.

A new report by FARE has found children are being put at risk as alcohol retailers in Australia are not required to verify proof of age identification when selling alcoholic products online.

FARE CEO, Ms Caterina Giorgi said that there has been a rapid growth in online alcohol sales in Australia and it’s important we close the loopholes to help keep families and communities healthy and well.

Michael Perusco, CEO of Victoria’s largest child and family services provider, Berry Street, agrees more needs to be done to ensure young people aren’t so easily able to access alcohol.

“For too many, alcohol appears to be an easy escape. But it only adds to the complexities and challenges they face as they seek to recover from their trauma.

View the media release by FARE and Berry Street here.
Read the Online and delivered alcohol during COVID-19 report by FARE here.

Examples of age verification online.

Examples of age verification online.

 

Elders protected from social isolation

A new report by the University of Sydney’s Research Centre for Children and Families has brought to light stories of hardship and the incredible resilience afforded to Aboriginal people in caring roles by informal social networks during COVID-19 lockdowns.

“We realised from our research that this was going to be a particularly challenging time for families [caring for children in out-of-home care] because many of them were already dealing with sick children with significant additional needs, and many of them were our older carers,” said lead researcher Dr Susan Colling.

“What we heard was that children in Aboriginal families stepped up. It was very obvious how mutually beneficial the caring was because the children were in the houses with older family members.”

The report shows that for many older Aboriginal carers, having children in the household was deeply protective against the negative impacts of social isolation.

Another surprising finding was how quickly families found ways to keep Elders who weren’t normally carers from becoming socially isolated.

You can read more about this story in the National Indigenous Times here.
Read The University of Sydney Research Centre for Children & Families NSW Carer Support Needs: Coping in the context of COVID-19 report here.

'Three Rivers' - artwork by Aunty Lorraine Brown and Aunty Narelle Thomas, Coomaditchie United Aboriginal Corporation.

‘Three Rivers’ by Aunty Lorraine Brown and Aunty Narelle Thomas, Coomaditchie United Aboriginal Corporation featured as cover image on The University of Sydney Research Centre for Children & Families – NSW Carer Support Needs: Coping in the context of COVID-19 report.

 

Psychiatric morbidity higher in mob

Limited information exists about the prevalence of psychiatric illness for Indigenous Australians. A study examining the prevalence of diagnosed psychiatric disorders found that there is significant inequality in psychiatric morbidity between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians across most forms of psychiatric illness that is evident from an early age and becomes more pronounced with age. Substance use disorders are particularly prevalent, highlighting the importance of appropriate interventions to prevent and address these problems. Inequalities in mental health may be driven by socioeconomic disadvantage experienced by Indigenous individuals.

You can read the Prevalence of psychiatric disorders for Indigenous Australians: a population-based birth cohort study from the Epidemiology and Psychiatric Sciences journal here.

Photo depicting mental illness by Rene Muller, Unsplash.

Photo depicting mental illness by Rene Muller, Unsplash.

App to reduce ice use

The number of people using ice in Australia has increased in recent years in many communities.

We Can Do This is a confidential web-app designed to assist Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who use methamphetamine (ice) to reduce or stop using. They are seeking people to test the We Can Do This web-app.

It was developed with input from many people, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who have used ice.

We Can Do This is free, confidential and easy to use. But they need help to make sure it works.

To do this, they are making We Can Do This available to people to use either by themselves, or with extra support from participating health services.

Anyone who is 16 years old or older; is Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander and has used methamphetamine (ice) about weekly or more often for the past three months is invited to take part in the We Can Do This trial.

The project is sponsored by South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute with Principal Investigator Associate Professor James Ward.

Visit the We Can Do This website to find out more.

We Can Do This video.

Image from ‘We Can Do This’ project video.

 

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: benefits of using knowledge translation

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

Benefits of using knowledge translation

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rush to vaccinate Mob in outbreak areas

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

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

Spotlight shines on SEWB

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

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

Lockdown health impacts vs virus

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

To view the media release click here.

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

Image source: The University of Manchester.

Mental health workforce web resource

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

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

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

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

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

Data key to suicide prevention

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

To view the media release click here.

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

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

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

Girls forced to give birth alone

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

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

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

To view the full article click here.

KAMS CEO Vicki O'Donnell in front of KAMS building

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

New process for job advertising

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

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

International Self-Care Day

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

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

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

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

Image source: selfcare.ca,

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Reform to butt out smoking rates

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

Reform to butt out smoking rates

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

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

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

You can read the full story by ABC News here.

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

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

 

Delivering 50,000 remote COVID jabs

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

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

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

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

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

Read the full story in The Sydney Morning Herald here.

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

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

 

More patients eligible for PBS

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

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

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

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

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

Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme medicines

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

 

National Anti-Racism Framework

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

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

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

Anti-racism image

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

 

Meningococcal B Vaccination Program continues

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

New dashboard on Closing the Gap

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

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

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

view from waist up of two Aboriginal children one with arm around the shoulders of the other facing away from the canera

Image source: National Indigenous Times website.

 

Know Your Country campaign

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

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

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

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

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

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

Know Your Country campaign logo.

 

New process for job advertising

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

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


dice spelling JOBS resting on keyboard

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: NACCHO Medical Advisor on vaccine rollout

feature tile text 'NACCHO Medical Advisor Dr Agosinto speaks about the COVID-19 vaccine rollout' & photo of hands drawing vaccine from vial

NACCHO Medical Advisor on vaccine rollout

NACCHO Medical Advisor, Dr Jason Agostino spoke on National Indigenous Radio Service (NIRS) on Thursday (15 July 2021) last week about the COVID-19 rollout. Dr Agostino said it is important to reinforce that all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people 16 years and over are eligible to get a vaccine now and that a lot is being done to make sure that both types of vaccines are available within Aboriginal medical services across the country and also via other GPs.

Up until now there has only been AstraZeneca within clinics, that’s the vaccine predominately for people over the age of 60, unfortunately more than 90% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are under the age of 60 and they’ve had to go to Pfizer which hasn’t been around. Dr Agostino said that in the last few weeks there has been more Pfizer getting into communities and health services in the city and the hope is to get more and more Pfizer out there into people’s arms as soon as possible. To listen to the interview in full click on the YouTube link below.

On Sunday 11 July 2021, Dr Agostino also spoke on 3RRRFM’s weekly medical show Radiotherapy with presenter Kent Goldsworthy about the vaccine rollout. You can listen to that interview here.

black & white photo of 3RRR radio presenter Kent Goldsworthy in studio & 3RRR logo 102.7 FM THREE R TRIPLE R R in red, black, white

3RRR presenter Kent Goldsworthy. Feature photo: The West Australian in NIT.

COVID-19 vaccine provider resources

The Australian Government Department of Health has prepared a suite of assets for vaccine providers. The main purpose of the resources is to support healthcare workers in their work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients.

The pack of resources includes:

  • updated guidance on TGA advertising restrictions, explaining how you can inform your patients about different vaccine brands availability in your clinic. This includes social, posters and web content
  • a video animation in plain English that could be sent to patients’ emails or used in clinic waiting rooms explaining what to expect on  vaccination day, side effects and the need for two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine
  •  a suite of talking points talking points designed for healthcare workers to assist them with having conversations with patients about COVID-19 vaccines
  • updated social resources with suggested captions to use across social media networks
  • a summary of general COVID-19 vaccine communications available on the website that have been developed for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, including social content, posters, fact sheets and videos
  • general Coronavirus (COVID-19) resources (social, posters and community announcement script), reminding people of the importance of following restrictions, staying home if feeling unwell, and getting tested

All resources are available for download here via WeTransfer.

You can browse other communication assets, such as videos with Indigenous community leaders and testimonials by real people, and many other resources here.

Health staff shortages in remote communities

COVID-19 border closures and lockdowns have caused a shortage of healthcare workers in remote Indigenous communities, fuelling fears the vaccine rollout to some of the country’s most vulnerable people is being slowed down. In northern WA the Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Services (KAMS) has been dealing with increasingly severe staff shortages as its retention rates plummet.

“In our remote communities we do tend to rely on nursing and medical staff being on a fly-in fly-out roster,” medical director, Palawa woman Lorraine Anderson said. “Generally those staff have not always come from WA, there have been people from all the states and territories across Australia and in a few cases even outside Australia.” Since the pandemic began KAMS’s staff attrition rate has more than doubled from 37–85%. In some of its clinics the figure is as high as 100%, meaning the entire original workforce has been replaced.

The number of job vacancies has also increased from an average of 10–50 – more than 10%of the total KAMS workforce. Dr Anderson said rolling lockdowns and constant changes to travel restrictions were taking a toll. “18 months down the track our staff are actually getting very tired of that, it’s wearing people down, it’s very difficult on family situations and relationships,” she said. Dr Anderson is hopeful staffing issues won’t affect the COVID-19 vaccine rollout for Aboriginal people in the Kimberley as KAMS prioritises the jab, but she says workers won’t be able to offer the standard of primary and preventative healthcare she would like as a result.

To view the full Brisbane Times article click here.

white vehicle on side of bitumen road through red dust landscape

Image source: Create website.

NDIS fighting trust deficit

National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) Minister Linda Reynolds confirmed last week that the controversial NDIS independent assessments proposed by the Federal Government are “dead”. Reynolds said she was sorry that some of Australia’s most vulnerable people had been stressed by the possible impact of the independent assessments, which disability advocates have fought hard against for months.

Associate Professor Jen Smith-Merry and Associate Professor Mary-Ann O’Donovan, from the Centre for Disability Research and Policy and Centre for Disability Studies at the University of Sydney commented on the issue. “The proposed implementation of the NDIS Independent assessments  has been abandoned in its current form and this is a great victory for all the people with disability and supporters who have campaigned against it.

The National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA), which runs the NDIS, contracted our team from the University of Sydney to externally validate the findings of their pilot inf independent assessments. Our team included people with qualitative and quantitative methods expertise, lived experience of disability and understanding of the broader policy and service context around the NDIS. By requesting this validation work, the NDIA acknowledged that the process and findings of the evaluation they conducted may be questioned in terms of credibility and trustworthiness. This request for external validation reflects the need for the NDIA agency to counter the general mistrust towards it in the sector.

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

photo of word 'trust' written in the sand

Photo: Lisa Caroselli, Pixabay. Image source: Croakey Health Media.

Indigenous bowel screening resources

The Australian Government Department of Health has a range of resources for families and communities regarding Indigenous bowel screening. Its collection contains resources for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people about the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program (NBCSP) including information about bowel screening, video stories, community songs, fact sheets, posters and more.

You can access the collection of resources, including the SA Health Making tracks: Health Screening for Bowel Cancer video (below) here.

Closing the walkability gap

Indigenous inequality in Australia has long been known to the public and policy makers. Yet, successive local, state, and federal governments have failed to effectively make a noticeable change in Indigenous health and wellbeing. These inequalities include shorter life expectancy, poorer general health and lower levels of education and employment. Less known is transport inequality and its health implications for Indigenous people.

Walking is a healthy form of physical activity and is proven to reduce rates of chronic disease. Neighbourhood walkability is associated with the number of trips people can make on foot. People living in areas with lower walkability tend to walk less. University of New South Wales’ research shows that 70% of the Indigenous population in the City of Sydney live in neighbourhoods with lower-than-average walkability. This has the potential to aggravate Indigenous people’s health issues, potentially widening the health gap with non-Indigenous Australians, instead of closing it.

To view the full article click here.

woman in dark shadow walking past a wall with Aboriginal dot paintings of emu, kangaroo, dolphin, echidna, snake

Photo: John Pryke/AAP. Image source: UNSW Sydney Newsroom website.

Abstracts for rural health conference

If you are concerned about the health and wellbeing of people who live an work in rural or remote areas of Australia the 16th National Rural Health Conference will be of interest to you. The conference will be held in Perth next year from Monday 30 May to Wednesday 1 June 2022 with the theme is Bridging social distance; Rural health innovating & collaborating.

Abstracts close Sunday 8 August 2021. For more information about the abstract process click here.

For further information, including details about early bird registration which open on 4 October 2021, you can access the conference website here.

banner text '16th National Rural Health COnference 30 May - 1 June 2022, Perth, WA - Bridging social distance Rural health innovating & collaborating,' purple background, green & white font & logo white number '16' with green & purple heads represented by oval lines & purple and wavy lines representing arms, sitting over the number '16

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

Stress Down Day

Stress Down Day, a fun and easy initiative designed to raise awareness around stress in the workplace, and an opportunity to raise vital funds for Lifeline locally. Lifeline relies on fundraising and donations to help cover the cost of providing local crisis support and suicide prevention services.

Research shows that 90% of Australians feel stressed – with 74% of people reporting being stressed from work.

For information about Stress Down Day click here.tile text 'Lifeline's Stress Down Day on 24/7' Lifeline logo, text in light blue, smiling face 2 blue dots for eyes, blue semi-circle for mouth, orange line overlapping corner of right side of mouth making intersection purple & longer yellow line overlapping corner of blue left mouth making green