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: 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: Mob urged to get vaccinated

feature tile text 'ATSI health experts urge mob to get vaccinated' photo of Aboriginal man getting the vaccine

Mob urged to get vaccinated

With Sydney’s eastern suburbs outbreak numbers growing by the day and new cases confirmed in Victoria, Aboriginal leaders are encouraging communities to get vaccinated. As of 11am this morning (Wednesday 14 July 2021), the NSW Government confirmed a total of 99 new cases within 24 hours, with the source of 36 cases currently unknown. In response to rising numbers, the NSW Government has extended the current greater Sydney lockdown until 30 July 2021.

There have been 825 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state since 17 June 2021, when the first case of the cluster was detected in Bondi. On 4 June 2021, the Morrison Government expanded COVID-19 vaccination eligibility to include all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples aged over 16 years.

Aboriginal health experts say that it’s critical that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples get vaccinated to protect themselves, their families, and their communities. “Please get your COVID-19 shots! It’s not just important for us as individuals but it’s important for all members of our families and our communities,” said Pat Turner AM, NACCHO CEO. “The more people [that] have the vaccination, the safer we will be.”

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

Dr Dawn Casey Deputy CEO NACCHO receiving COVID-19 vaccine

Dr Dawn Casey Deputy CEO NACCHO receiving COVID-19 vaccine. Feature tile image Cecil Phillips, 62, receiving his AstraZeneca vaccine, at the Aboriginal Medical Service in Redfern. Photo: Isabella Moore. Image source: The Guardian.

New Indigenous mental health website

A new website has been set up to improve Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’s mental health, with information on social and emotional wellbeing, country, spirituality and homelessness. The Indigenous Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Clearinghouse will also house scientific research about connection to family and kinship, the criminal justice system, child protection, nutrition and mental health services.

This will help service providers develop culturally safe holistic programs about physical, social, emotional, cultural and spiritual wellbeing for individuals and communities. “Indigenous adults experience higher rates of psychological distress and suicide than other Australians,” Indigenous health expert Fadwa Al-Yaman said. “It’s vital to improve the evidence base available on Indigenous mental health and suicide prevention.”

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare portal was developed with Indigenous mental health experts and policymakers in response to the Fifth National Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Plan. “Our communities continue to experience high rates of suicide,” Bardi woman, psychologist and Indigenous suicide prevention expert Pat Dudgeon said. “The Clearinghouse will contribute to an evidence base to ensure information that is current, safe, and relevant to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people is accessible.”

To view the Magnet News article in full click here and to access the AIHW Indigenous Mental Health & Suicide Prevention Clearinghouse click here.

Aboriginal dot painting by Linda Huddleston (Nungingi) - on AIHW Indigenous Mental Health & Suicide Prevention Clearinghouse, circle with wedges mustard, light brown, white, black, surrounded by white footprints & border with spaced circles made up of 3 concentric circles

The Journey toward Healing by Linda Huddleston (Nungingi). Image source: AIHW website.

Identifying large baby risk

WA diabetes researchers aiming to simplify gestational diabetes screening have discovered that a blood test early in pregnancy can help identify Aboriginal women at risk of having large babies. Research leader Associate Professor Julia Marley, from the Rural Clinical School of WA, said the discovery was made through the ORCHID Study, which aims to simplify screening for high blood glucose levels in pregnancy.

“Our recently-published research shows the risk of having a large baby is twice as high in women with an early HbA1c above the normal range compared to women who were in the normal range and did not develop gestational diabetes later in pregnancy. These mums with high HbA1c results likely had prediabetes going into pregnancy,” said Associate Professor Marley. “Almost 3 in 4 of them went on to have a positive Oral Glucose Tolerance Test – also known as the sugar drink test – which is the current standard way to test for gestational diabetes, later in pregnancy. Having a large baby can cause birth complications for mum and these larger infants are more likely to develop obesity and type 2 diabetes in later life, so if we can detect high blood sugar levels using an early pregnancy HbA1c test, we have a chance of reducing that risk.”

For further information head to the Diabetes Research WA website here and to access the media release click here.banner text 'Diabetes Research WA' - blue vector bird with long green tail between words Diabetes Research & WA

Perinatal mental health project

Western Sydney University, in partnership with Western Sydney Local Health District’s (WSLHD) Perinatal Child Youth Mental Health Service, has been awarded $650,000 from the Australian Government’s Perinatal Mental Health and Wellbeing Program to develop a national resource to support young mother’s mental health.

The project will address perinatal mental health by creating an online and interactive learning resource that focuses on young mothers, particularly those at higher risk of mental health conditions, such as Indigenous, migrant and refugee women, women with disabilities, young women who have been in out-of-home-care and those experiencing poor mental health in adolescence.

Project lead Dr Arianne Reis, from the University’s School of Health Sciences and Translational Health Research Institute, said the project importantly represents a collaborative and tailored approach to improving the mental health of mothers, including those most vulnerable in our communities. “We’re very pleased about the opportunity to gather together expertise from researchers, online teaching and technology specialists, clinicians, community practitioners, and young mothers from all walks of life to develop a resource that truly speaks to their needs and wants,” said Dr Reis.

To view the Western Sydney University media release in full click here.

Aboriginal baby sitting on chest of mother lying down smiling at baby

Image source: COPE Centre of Perinatal Excellence website.

Caring for Spirit dementia training

Growing old well is something we all want for our communities. What we know, is that growing old well is influenced by many things that happen throughout our lives. Getting dementia can have an effect on our mind, body and spirit.

The Aboriginal Health and Ageing Program at NeuRA are excited to let you know that the Caring for Spirit online dementia education and training resources are now live and available. Caring for Spirit has been co-designed with the Koori Growing Old Well Study, partners and wider networks, with funding support from the Department of Health Dementia and Aged Care Services Fund.

The learning modules, designed to make learning fun, are now available to be accessed via the Caring for Spirit website here.

For those who missed the launch and are interested in watching the presentations, you can access a link to a recording of the launch here.banner text 'caring for spirit ATSI online dementia education' & circle containing Aboriginal dot painting of circle green, black, blue, red - 4 concentric circles with lines going either side as like water flowing passed the circle

On Country medical treatment

A new $19.1 million regional WA residential care facility will carry state-of-the-art technology and allow people to stay on Country for medical treatment. The new centre has been named Gnullingoo Mia from the Inggarda words translating together to ‘our home’,

A spokesperson for the WA Country Health Service (WACHS) said their Midwest team consulted with senior Inggarda Elders and the Bundiyarra – Irra Wangga Language Centre to pick the facility’s name. WACHS Regional Director Karen Street said the name highlights the close connection the community feels to the land and the region.

The 38-bed facility is located at the Carnarvon Health Campus and is slated for completion in late 2021. It will allow local people with greater care needs to stay on Country in residential accommodation and will cater to a wide range of people who require permanent and respite care and are unable to live independently at home. The beds at Gnullingoo Mia will meet a rising demand for aged and palliative care services in the Gascoyne area and are designed to facilitate telehealth initiatives to give residents greater access to specialists in Perth.

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

aerial view of new Carnarvon residential care facility being built

The new Carnarvon residential care facility aims to be culturally welcoming. Image source: National Indigenous Times.

WA Trachoma Storybook

The Western Australian trachoma storybook showcases the health promotion and environmental health projects in remote communities to prevent and reduce trachoma. It is an output of the Environmental Health Trachoma Project. which aims to reduce the incidence of trachoma and skin infections in ‘trachoma at risk’ Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities in remote WA. Australia is the only developed country that has endemic trachoma. Almost all cases of trachoma are detected in remote Aboriginal communities. This first edition of the Western Australian trachoma storybook was funded by the WA Country Health Service and launched in Geraldton, WA.

To access The West Australian Storybook – Celebrating & Sharing Good News Stories click here.close up photo of Aboriginal man's mouth, nose & bloodshot eyes - text 'The WA Trachoma Storybook - Celebrating & Sharing Good News Stories'

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

National Pyjama Day

The Pyjama Foundation was founded in 2004 to give children in foster care the opportunity to change the direction of their lives with learning, life skills, and confidence. Alarmed at the statistics highlighting poor literacy and numeracy levels of children in care, and how this contributes to a lifetime of disadvantage, founder Bronwyn Sheehan made the decision to offer hope and a more positive outlook for these children.

Through a simple program known as the Love of Learning Program, volunteers called Pyjama Angels are matched with a child in care, and spend just one hour a week focusing on learning based activities.

National Pyjama Day is all about wearing your favourite pyjamas to work or school (and everywhere in-between!) to help raise funds and awareness for children in foster care. This year, National Pyjama Day falls on Friday 23 July 2021 but you are welcome to host your day anytime throughout July-September. The aim of the day is to raise as much funds as possible for The Pyjama Foundation’s Love of Learning Program which is offered to children in foster care – Australia’s lowest performing educational group.

When you register your organisation for Pyjama Day, you will receive a FREE host kit – including: posters, balloons, bunting, stickers and so much more! It doesn’t cost a cent to register; we just ask that all organisations raise funds (every cent counts!).

For more information about National Pyjama Day click here. You can view a short video featuring a participant of Love of Learning Program below.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Reclaiming the right to give birth on Country

feature tile text 'Yolgnu women are reclaiming their right to give birth on the lands of their ancestors' & image of a newborn Aboriginal baby in a coolamon with mother's hands resting on the baby's chest

Reclaiming the right to give birth on Country

One in five babies born in East Arnhem Land are born premature. The ABC Radio National episode of Science Friction Medicine, listen up! Birthing on country makes the land shake looks at how a Yolngu community has a plan to change that statistic.

For many millennia, Aboriginal women in remote East Arnhem land gave birth on their traditional lands. But for the Elcho island community of Galiwin’ku, that all changed when women were made to travel to the big smoke to give birth, far away from home. Medical professionals said it would be safer for mothers and babies, but now Yolgnu women want to reclaim their birthing rights.

To listen to this episode of ABC Radio National’s Science Friction click here.

Female Elder with white wavy hair & white ceremonial paint on face

Elaine Guyman, Galiwin’ku community, Elcho Island, East Arnhem Land. Photo: Emma Vincent. Image source: ABC News. Feature tile photo taken by Bobbi Lockyer. Image source: ABC News.

You can also listen to another interview about the benefits of Birthing on Country here. In this ABC Radio Conversations with Richard Fidler episode midwife Christian Wright, talks about his work with the Indigenous women of Arnhem Land. screenshot of Conversations with Richard Fidler, ABC Radio, episode The male midwife, Christian Wright standing in bush with Akubra & open short sleeved shirt

Study tracks lives of preterm babies

Long before Cian McCue had any say in it, his mother Camille Damaso enrolled the healthy newborn in Australia’s own 7-Up program. Aidan Hill, 34, was also enrolled. He was born four weeks early. Lennair Hill, 34 and now Aidan’s wife, is also in the program. She was born eight weeks premature, at a very low birth weight, with a heart condition. Ms Hill’s mother Donna Sinclair said the birth was “as traumatic as you can get. I thought I was giving birth to a dead baby”.

The Life Course study was started in 1987 by the late paediatrician Dr Susan Sayers from the Menzies School of Health Research in DarwinShe described it as “Australia’s own 7-Up“. It started with an Aboriginal birth cohort of 686 babies including Aidan and Cian, and later added 196 non-Indigenous participants, including Lennair. Dr Sayers wrote that it would follow “the progress of tiny babies into adults, into sickness and health, for the rest of their lives.” The study is loosely modelled on the 7-up documentary series in England that followed the lives of 14 children from 1964, checking in with them every seven years.

Mr McCue, 33, a father and a video maker, said the project was about more than health checks. “It is about trying to close the gap, and raise that life expectancy of Aboriginal people,” he said. The study is looking for clues to who will get chronic diseases such as diabetes and heart disease, the No.1 killer of Indigenous people.

To view The Sydney Morning Herald article in full click here.

Cian McCue & his mother Camille Damasco standing under a tree with beach in the background

Cian McCue and mum Camille Damaso. Photo: Rhett Wyman. Image source: The Sydney Morning Herald.

Australia’s poor human rights results

The Human Rights Measurement Initiative (HRMI) tracker has again revealed Australia’s poor results when it comes to Indigenous human rights and treatment. Surveying experts and collating data analysis on civil, political, economic and social rights, the HRMI measures a nation’s performance on all human rights covered by international law. It found the majority of experts agreed Indigenous Australians had most of their human rights at risk.

Across the four key rights to education, food, health, and work, Australia averaged a ‘bad’ score of 78.85%. 57% of experts surveyed identified a risk to education, 71% identified a risk to health, and 61% noted the right to housing was also at risk. It was also identified that 71% of experts believe Indigenous people are at risk of having their freedom from arbitrary arrest violated. This lack of safety was particularly present in the freedom from torture for Indigenous people, which three-quarters of experts found to be in danger of not being recognised.

Whilst the poor results were not limited to Indigenous Australians, they were at a significantly higher risk of not having their human rights upheld. “It’s certainly true that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, people with disabilities, people with low socioeconomic status, and refugees and asylum seekers are identified as being at risk of violations of nearly every right that we measure,” HRMI strategy lead Thalia Kehoe Rowden told SBS News.

You can view this National Indigenous Times article in full here and a related article in Croakey Health Media here.

older Aboriginal woman sitting cross-legged with face in hands, makeshift bedding, surrounded by rubbish, black dog looking at camera

One Mile Dam, an Aboriginal community camp close to Darwin, where Indigenous people live in extreme poverty. Photograph: Jonny Weeks. Image source: The Guardian.

Charity status changes – a public health hazard

Leading public and Indigenous health groups have joined environmental, social sector and legal organisations in warning the Federal Government against proceeding with changes to the regulation of charities. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander justice advocates warn the move could silence their advocacy for people in custody, as well as undermining the work of organisations such as the First Peoples Disability Network Australia.

In an open letter to PM Scott Morrison, more than 70 organisations warn that the regulations would impede the work of charities in responding to communities’ needs in times of crisis and disaster. Signatories include the Public Health Association of Australia (PHAA), the Fred Hollows Foundation, Doctors for the Environment Australia, People with Disability Australia, the Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education, the Alliance for Gambling Reform and the Climate Council.

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

top of the white caps with FPDN logo on two children bending down, image of blurred green grass in the background

Image source: First Peoples Disability Network website.

Indigenous health checks and follow-ups

Through Medicare, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people can receive Indigenous-specific health checks from their doctor, as well as referrals for Indigenous-specific follow-up services. In 2019–20, 239,000 Indigenous Australians had one of these health checks (28%). The proportion of Indigenous health check patients who had an Indigenous-specific follow-up service within 12 months of their check increased from 12% to 47% between 2010–11 and 2018–19.

A recent AIHW report presents data on Indigenous health checks for a time period up until the end of June 2020 (i.e. overlapping with the COVID-19 period). It also includes data on telehealth MBS items that were introduced in 2020 as part of the response to COVID-19.

To view the AIHW report click here.

Comedian Sean Choolburra receiving one part of his 715 health check

Comedian Sean Choolburra receiving one part of his 715 health check. Image source: NIAA website.

Access to Aged Care medicines programs expanded

Access to Aged Care medicines programs have been expanded for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in remote areas. From 1 July 2021, Aged Care Facilities funded under the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Flexible Aged Care program (NATSIFAC) are able to receive Quality Use of Medicines (QUM) support from a pharmacist. Access to the Residential Medication Management Review (RMMR) program was extended to these Aged Care Facilities on 1 April 2021.

You can get more information about these program here or contact the pharmacy coordinating supply of medicines to your ACF.

blue multiple pill holder each compartment with 6 different coloured tablets

Image source: iStock.

New process for job advertising

NACCHO have introduced a new system for the advertising of job adverts via NACCHO’s communication platforms.

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 to the NACCHO website and once approved it will go live.dice spelling JOBS resting on keyboard

NAIDOC Week 2021 – 4–11 July

NAIDOC Week 2021 will be held from Sunday 4 July to Sunday 11 July.

This year’s theme – Heal Country! – calls for stronger measures to recognise, protect, and maintain all aspects of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture and heritage. Events will be held around Australia during the week to celebrate the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

You can download this year’s poster here and resources here and find out more about NAIDOC Week here.   banner - Aboriginal dot painting art circles, gum leaves blue green brown orange pink white & text 'Health Country! 4–11 JULY 2021 & Celebrating NAIDOC Week logo

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: First Nations communities on high COVID-19 alert

feature tile test 'First Nations communities on high COVID-19 alert' circle images or Pat Turner & Dawn Casey having covid-19 vaccine, Pat with orange Aboriginal art dot on one edge of circle & Dawn with blue dots

First Nations communities on high COVID alert

NACCHO CEO, Pat Turner has an opinion editorial published in today’s The Sydney Morning Herald. The below is an excerpt from Pat Turner’s article.

‘The Granites gold mine COVID outbreak is a reminder that we continue to be one spark away from a COVID-19 wildfire in Australia’s Indigenous communities. We know that COVID hits the elderly and those with underlying health conditions hardest. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are more likely to live with cardiovascular disease, kidney disease or cancer and almost one-quarter have two or more of these chronic conditions.

These COVID risks are compounded by where we live. One in eight Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples live in overcrowded housing, which means COVID-19 could spread rapidly through our communities. And overcrowding poses real challenges for isolating suspected cases. Poor health outcomes and overcrowding are worse in remote settings, making the Granites mine outbreak all the more dangerous.

It has been because of the leadership of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and our community controlled health organisations that our peoples have been relatively unscathed by COVID-19 to date, with 153 cases nationally and no deaths. We need governments to step up on the vaccine roll out to keep it this way.’

To view the full opinion editorial click here. Note the 173 cases mentioned in the article should be 153.

clinic setting with man in mask holding cotton ball to arm, health professional in mask to front of photo

Image source: The Sydney Morning Herald.

Earlier this morning Dr Dawn Casey, Deputy CEO of NACCHO spoke with Fran Kelly on ABC Radio National Breakfast. Fran Kelly introduced the interview saying “as the highly contagious Delta variant of COVID-19 threatens to cause a national outbreak, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities are on high alert, particularly in the NT and north Queensland. Lockdowns in the NT and now parts of Queensland, including the Aboriginal community of Palm Island, have highlighted the vulnerability of First Nations people as vaccination levels remain low.”

Dr Casey responded saying that ACCHOs are very worried however are on high alert and have been since March last year. You can listen to the interview here.

screen shot ABC RN Breakfast with Fran Kelly audio Dr Dawn Casey Deputy CEO NACCHO being administered the COVID-19 vaccine at Winnunga ACT

Dr Dawn Casey, Deputy CEO of NACCHO. Image source: ABC RN Breakfast with Fran Kelly website.

RACGP calls for nation-wide COVID-19 campaign

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) is strengthening its calls for the federal Government to urgently ramp up a campaign to boost vaccine confidence in the community. The RACGP has previously stressed the importance of national targeted messaging and advertising for specific cohorts to clear up mixed messages and encourage more eligible people to get vaccinated. This is particularly important in the context of recent changes to AstraZeneca vaccine eligibility and patient concerns about vaccine safety.

To view the media release click here.

red stop sign, grey background & black chalk font writing 'COVID-19'

Image source: WA City of Swan website.

No-fault vaccine injury compensation

Today during the National Immunisation Conference held by the Public Health Association of Australia (PHAA), Professor Paul Kelly, Australia’s Chief Medical Officer, confirmed the introduction of a no-fault Vaccine Injury Compensation Scheme (VICS) for COVID-19 vaccines administered in Australia, a move that is strongly welcome to assist in Australia’s COVID vaccine roll out and boost public trust in the program.

A no-fault vaccine injury compensation scheme compensates individuals who have a vaccine injury following the correct administration of a registered vaccine. It is considered a vital component of a strong immunisation program by public health experts. PHAA CEO Adjunct Professor Terry Slevin commented, ‘This is a very welcome announcement.”

To view the media release click here.

medical professional with mask & gloves, in scrubs, drawing COVID-19 vaccine

Image source: Sharp Health News website.

New Minister for Regional Health welcomed

The Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (PSA) warmly welcomes the Hon Dr David Gillespie MP as Minister for Regional Health, and extends its gratitude to the Hon Mark Coulton MP for his service in this portfolio. PSA National President, A/Prof Chris Freeman, welcomed Dr Gillespie back to the portfolio and thanked Minister Coulton for his exceptional service to regional Australia.

“PSA congratulates Dr Gillespie on his appointment as Minister for Regional Health. His past experience in the portfolio, and as a clinician, will help drive innovation in the portfolio. PSA looks forward to working with him to improve health care and health outcomes for people in regional Australia.”

To view the PSA’s media release click here.

Dr David Gillespie blue shirt, elbow on wooden fence post in paddock with white black cow in the background

Dr David Gillespie. Image source: Port Macquarie News.

CoP priority reform video animations

The Coalition of Peaks has announced that all four Priority Reforms video animations are complete and available for Coalition of Peaks members use and community engagement. All members are encouraged to use the animations to help build awareness and ownership for the National Agreement and the Priority Reforms. The animations are available on the Coalition of Peaks website under resources or by using the below links.

Priority Reform One – shared decision making partnerships

Priority Reform Two – building community controlled sector

Priority Reform Three – improving mainstream services

Priority Reform Four – ensuring access to relevant data

snapshot from CoP priority 1 shared decision making partnerships animation 6 Aboriginal people, 4 women, 2 men, 2 children (boy & girl; centre Aboriginal woman shaking hands with an offical; top right CoPs logo

Image source: CoPs website, Priority Reform One – shared decision making animation.

$12.9m for PHC research

$12.9 million is to be invested into seven new research projects around Australia to use data to improve health outcomes for Australian patients. Funded through the 2020 Primary Healthcare Research Data Infrastructure grants, a number of research institutions will receive funding to undertake projects that use new and existing data sets to improve access, quality, safety and efficiency of our primary health care (PHC) system.

As part of the program, the South Australian Health Medical Research Institute Ltd will receive around $2 million for its Registry of Senior Australians (ROSA) project, which aims to expand the existing platform to understand emerging issues and continue ground-breaking research on key, and currently unknown, residential aged care impacts. ROSA’s efficient model leverages existing information, bringing together diverse datasets collected by different organisations throughout the country, to provide a whole picture of the ageing pathway.

The research will use new data gathered on immunisation, rehabilitation and social welfare to further research and embed ROSA as the only national data solution for policy and practice change in residential aged care.

To view the full article click here.ROSA logo text 'ROSA' in dark blue' Aboriginal dot art 6 circles yellow, aqua, yellow linked to inner circle

Hearing Loss Responsive Communications Training

Up to 40% of Indigenous adults in urban areas and 60% in remote communities have some degree of hearing loss. In some specific populations it is higher and in prison inmates over 90%. 79% of those affected are not aware they have hearing loss. Early onset hearing loss means bigger life impacts and unknown hearing loss has more impacts.

Below is a video giving information on Hearing Loss Responsive Communications Training for health professionals:

New process for job advertising

NACCHO have introduced a new system for the advertising of job adverts via NACCHO’s communication platforms.

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 to the NACCHO website and once approved it will go live.dice spelling JOBS resting on keyboard

National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children’s Day

SNAICC’s latest campaign National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children’s Day will be held on Sunday 4 August 2021.

Children’s Day is a time to for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families to celebrate the strengths and culture of their children. It is an opportunity for all Australians to show their support for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, as well as learn about the crucial impact that culture, family and community play in the life of every child.

The Children’s Day 2021 theme, Proud in culture, strong in spirit, highlights the importance of supporting strong family and community connections to help children achieve strong spiritual and cultural wellbeing and to form proud cultural identities.

SNAICC has produced and will distribute 15,000 fun Children’s Day bags to communities across Australia to help local communities and organisations celebrate. These bags, containing resources and activities for preschool-age children, are now on sale at the usual price of $6 per bag. Each bag will contain the Children’s Day 2021 Activity Sheet which you can also download.

contents of SNAICC Children's Day 2021 4.8.21 activity bag

Contents of the SNAICC’s Children’s Day 2021 activity bag.

Through SNAICC’s social media, website and email communications, they will also support people with online resources and ideas on how to celebrate and acknowledge this year’s Children’s Day. SNAICC also encourages people to register their events to showcase here.

SNAICC would love you to get involved in their promotions as they build momentum for Children’s Day on 4 August!

poster of National ATSI Children's Day 'Proud in Culture, Strong in Spirit - 4 August 2021 - SNAIC logo & Children's Day logo #ProudInCulture, #StrongInSpirit - Aboriginal boy with ceremonial pain & lap lap,& feather headdress standing on sandstone rock against blue background

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Territorians warned against COVID-19 complacency

feature tile text 'Territorians warned against COVID-19 complacency' Granites Tanamai gold mine site with vector images of covid-19 virus

Territorians warned against complacency

NT medical authorities are urging residents to avoid complacency after the outbreak of coronavirus at a Central Australian mine site. On Saturday morning (27 June 2021), a FIFO worker at the Granites Mine site, 540 kms NW of Alice Springs, tested positive for Coronavirus. 24 close contacts of the worker, including a town camp resident, travelled to Alice Springs last week.

Head of Public Health at Central Australian Aboriginal Congress (CAAC), John Boffa, said by Saturday night all had been contacted and were in isolation. By Sunday afternoon all 24 had returned negative test results. He said another 19 close contacts of the man transited through the Alice Springs airport and were being managed in other states. “We’re not totally out of the woods yet, you know, day three some of those people might become positive. But with the Delta variant it does look like the incubation period is very short, so it’s very encouraging. We’re quietly confident that perhaps we’ve dodged a bullet.” said Dr Boffa.

Dr Boffa said that vaccination rates among Indigenous residents of Central Australia remained low and that this near miss should be heeded as a wake-up call. Dr John Boffa said he hoped this near miss showed the Alice Springs community the importance of getting vaccinated. “We’ve been living as if COVID doesn’t exist – well it does exist, its real. We hope now with this scare that people will really jump in and get vaccinated.”

To view the full ABC News article click here.

CAAC female health worker being given the COVID-19 vaccine

Image source: ABC News, Samantha Jonscher. Feature tile image of Granites Tanamai gold mine site. Image source: NT Independent.

In another article in The Guardian: Low rate of Indigenous vaccination a worry, says minister, as NT Covid cases rise to seven

“I don’t want to see any deaths,” says Ken Wyatt, pointing to significant vaccine hesitancy in some communities.

“Our population is very young, the bulk of our people are under 50 so we need a good supply of Pfizer on a regular basis, especially now there’s a real risk to remote communities,” said CEO of the Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance Northern Territory, John Paterson.

Minister Ken Wyatt says he is ‘worried’ that the current Covid outbreak poses a significant risk to Indigenous communities. Photograph: Mick Tsikas/AAP

Focus on remote vulnerable NT communities

In an interview on Saturday 27 June 2021 the Minister for Health and Aged Care, Greg Hunt MP said the NT has taken strong actions early to ensure that their Territory and their Indigenous as well as non-Indigenous communities are protected and that these actions were appropriate and timely.

Minister Hunt outlined the 10 principal actions that make up the Commonwealth’s response, “Firstly, we have set up a National Incident Management Team to support the NT response, and that’s hosted in the National Incident Centre and includes representatives from the National Indigenous Australians Agency. We’ve ensured that the current stock of point of care testing is focused in the NT. More than 4,000 cartridges for testing all of those who maybe need it in remote or otherwise difficult-to-reach communities.”

“Thirdly, asymptomatic testing has been activated in the NT. Fourthly, the Royal Flying Doctor Service has been put into a position to assist with rapid deployment. Fifthly, Aspen is available for additional workforce support to the Aboriginal community-controlled health services. Then we have Purple House, where we are working to ensure that dialysis for patients continues safely. The seventh action is that all aged care facilities have had first and second dose visits and that we are assisting the NT Health in terms of their joint aged care response centre.”

“And we have convened a joint briefing with the Aboriginal health sector along with the NT and are working closely with them. Our focus is in particular on the remote and vulnerable Indigenous communities. Then, finally, flight manifests have been provided to all states and territories with regards to the workers who have left the Granites Gold Mine near Yuendumu. And then finally, we’ve offered any and all support to the NT Government for contact tracing.”

To view a transcript of Minister Greg Hunt MP’s interview click here.

The granites gold mine, Tanami Desert NT view from the sky

The Granites gold mine, Tanami Desert, NT. Photo: Caddie Brain. Image source: ABC News.

AMSANT and Land Council message to Mob 

In a joint media release the CEOs and Chairpersons of the Northern, Tiwi and Anindilyakwa Aboriginal Land Councils and the Aboriginal Medical Alliance of the NT (AMSANT) encouraged everyone to get vaccinated as soon as possible and provided the following message for Aboriginal people living in their areas: “If you are in the Greater Darwin lockdown area you must stay there. If you are outside the lockdown area you should stay in your community. That is the safest place for you and your family. Stay Safe, Stay on Country, Look after Family.”

To view the media release in full click here.

Aboriginal man & woman at the Miwatj Health Aboriginal Corporation, the woman is receiving the covid-19 vaccine by a health worker

The vaccine rollout in East Arnhem Land started in early April 2021. Photo: Miwatj Health Aboriginal Corporation. Image source: ABC News website.

Culturally sensitive service boosts jab rate

An Aboriginal Health Service in South Australia is operating dedicated vaccination cubicles for Indigenous people. All Indigenous Australians above the age of 16 are eligible for COVID-19 vaccination. To listen to the SBS News audio describing a program run by the Watto Purrunna Aboriginal Health Clinic in Adelaide offering culturally safe primary health care including COVID-19 vaccination click here.

An Aboriginal Primary Health physician from Watto Purrunna talking to a client before administering a COVID-19 vaccine

An Aboriginal Primary Health physician from Watto Purrunna talking to a client before administering a COVID-19 vaccine. Image source: SBS News website.

Calls to turn tide on unsafe medicine use

A consortium of Australia’s leading medicine safety experts has endorsed calls to turn the tide on unsafe medicine use and to better protect Australians against preventable harm caused by medicines. In a new report released yesterday, the consortium made consensus recommendations which will help shape Australia’s response to the declaration of medicine safety and quality use of medicines as Australia’s 10th National Health Priority Area.

With the long-awaited review of the National Medicines Policy starting next month, there is no better time to ensure medicines safety is front and centre of Australia’s National Medicines Policy. The recommendations come off the back of last month’s NPS MedicineWise Symposium, hosted by NPS MedicineWise, where health and government leaders lamented the lack of good data on medicine errors and data on the patient impacts of those errors.

To view the media release click here.

hand palm up on wooden table, blister pack of tablets - 3 remaining, 6 tablets on table & a syringe

Image source: Business Daily website.

Indigenous LGBTQIA+ discrimination research

New research from Edith Cowan University (ECU) has found 73% of Indigenous LGBTQIA+ participants have experienced discrimination, in a first-of-its-kind study that addresses the impacts of racism, social exclusion and queer-phobia on Indigenous LGBTQIA+ people in WA. The study, Breaking the Silence, was led by Pro Vice Chancellor Professor Braden Hill, a Nyungar Wardandi man and head of Kurongkurl Katitjin, ECU’s Centre for Indigenous Australian Education and Research. The research was also supported by Indigenous LGBTQIA+ researchers from Kurongkurl Katitjin and funded by government health promotion organisation Healthway.

The study also found over 40%of participants decided not to disclose their Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander heritage on dating apps for fear of racism. Almost 13% had experienced homelessness or housing insecurity, one third felt ‘invisible’ within their Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, and about 45% felt a sense of belonging to the wider LGBTQIA+ community. Over 60%of participants had listed GPs and psychologists as a source of significant support.

Breaking the Silence centres on the findings from a survey of 63 Indigenous LGBTQIA+ community members, 206 health care professionals and 49 focus group sessions. “For many of the participants there was a great sense of pride in being Indigenous and LGBTIQ+, however, the experience of discrimination, particularly racism, was a major concern,” said Professor Hill. Participants noted discrimination in the forms of being ignored, teased, maliciously outed, followed in public or being “victims of physical violence or other crimes”.

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

Professor Braden Hill in navy suit, purple shirt & tie standing outside university building with wooden totem poles

Professor Braden Hill. Image source: National Indigenous Times website.

Diabetes remission diet

It wasn’t too long ago that researchers in the UK challenged the convention that type 2 diabetes – diabetes that comes on in adulthood – is a lifelong condition that’s irreversible. Using a weight management program, they showed for some, that the diagnosis can be shelved.

Now those researchers have found more encouraging signs. The high blood pressure that often goes along with type 2 diabetes may be helped as well, with some people no longer needing medication. Here in Australia, experts have taken notice, with the very low calorie program now being used in Sydney as well as in remote communities where people are at greater risk.

To listen to the ABC Health Report with Norman Swan episode Diabetes remission diet also found to reduce high blood pressure click here.hot pink background with stethoscope, blood pressure gauge, pills, syringe and board with the word Diabetes

New process for job advertising

NACCHO have introduced a new system for the advertising of job adverts via NACCHO’s communication platforms.

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 to the NACCHO website and once approved it will go live.dice spelling JOBS resting on keyboard

Group B Strep Awareness Month

July is Group B Strep Awareness Month, an annual campaign to highlight the importance of group B Strep awareness, education and research.

  • Group B streptococcal bacteria can cause a wide range of illnesses.
  • Between one and four out of every 1,000 newborns contract group B streptococcal disease (GBS disease) from their mothers during birth.
  • Some of the life-threatening complications of GBS infection in newborns include bacterial infection of the bloodstream (septicaemia), pneumonia and meningitis.
  • Many Australian maternity hospitals screen pregnant women for GBS infection to reduce the risk of GBS infection in newborn infants.

Tragically, many families first hear about group B Strep after their baby is seriously ill with GBS meningitis, sepsis or pneumonia.

It is important more families hear about group B Strep so they can take action to protect their newborn baby.

For more information click here.pink vector paper with tape at top & text 'July is International GBS Awareness Month! GROUP B STREP INTERNATIONL' pink, white & blue awareness ribbons

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Protecting remote NT communities from COVID-19

feature tile text "Stay Safe, Stay on Country, Care for Family" - 'Northern Land Council' - skyview of Santa Teresa NT

Protecting remote NT communities from COVID-19

Over the weekend the NT Government declared that Darwin, Palmerston and Litchfield local government areas would enter a full lockdown for 48 hours effective from 1pm on Sunday 27 June 2021. Travel into remote Aboriginal communities on Aboriginal land – or travel to communities that involves crossing Aboriginal land – will be restricted to NT Government essential services staff and functions only.

The Northern Land Council (NLC) Chairman Samuel Bush-Blanasi said the NLC considers this the right thing to do and urged Aboriginal Territorians to look after each other: “The message is the same as last year: ‘Stay Safe, Stay on Country and Care for Family’.” Mr Bush-Blanasi also urged people not to respond to or be guided by what NT Police Commissioner Chalker called ‘rumour and innuendo’ being spread on social media. “People shouldn’t listen to gossip being spread on Facebook and other social media sites – particularly about something as serious as this. The best information is available at the NT Government website or on reliable media outlets like the NT News or the ABC,” said Mr Bush-Blanasi.

Referring to the reported case of COVID-19 in a worker in a mining site in the Tanami Desert in Central Australia, Deputy Chief Medical Officer Professor Kidd has said “We are taking this very seriously – right from the start of the pandemic we’ve had plans in place to work with local Aboriginal communities to respond to outbreaks in remote areas in Australia. The Commonwealth is working with the NT government and the Aboriginal community controlled health services in the affected area to provide whatever support is needed.”

To view the NLC’s media release click here and to view the news article with Professor Kidd’s comments click here.

NACCHO CEO Pat Turner speaks to SBS News:

New PHC nKPIs? – have your say

The Australian Government Department of Health (DoH) is inviting you to participate in the consultation process for Potential new National Key Performance Indicators for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Primary health care (nKPIs).

In May 2018, the Department commissioned the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) to undertake a comprehensive review of the nKPI collection (the Review). The final report was endorsed by the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Services Data Advisory Group (HS DAG) in December 2019 and published in February 2020. 

In order to implement the recommendations from the Review, DoH commissioned KPMG to develop an Implementation Roadmap and set up a Clinical and Technical Working Group for the HS DAG. The Working Group met in April this year to discuss potential new indicators. After four meetings the Working Group recommended development of three new indicators: sexual health/STI, mental health, and ear health.

The purpose of this consultation is to seek stakeholder and community feedback on the three proposed new nKPIs. The diverse perspectives, experience and knowledge of all stakeholders and interested members of the community are valued and will contribute to the final recommendations regarding the new nKPIs.

Feedback from the public consultation will be provided to the HS DAG who will provide final endorsement (or not) of the indicators. It is planned that any new nKPIs that receive HS DAG approval will first be piloted with selected health services prior to full rollout to all health services and public data reporting.

You can access the Consultation Hub and provide feedback here.

The consultation will be open for five (5) weeks and will close on Thursday 29 July 2021.

5 Aboriginal women sitting cross-legged in colourful tropical skirts, elder at front is holding a sign with words 'Please support my hope for health', tropical green foliage in background

Image source: University of Wollongong Australia website.

PM hosts second roundtable with CoPs

On25 June 2021 the Prime Minister hosted the second roundtable of senior Ministers and the Coalition of Peaks (CoPs), a representative body made up of more than 50 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled peak organisations. The Prime Minister noted the joint success of the Australian Government’s and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled organisations led by NACCHO in supporting their communities through the COVID pandemic.

Continuing leadership in the roll-out of the vaccination strategy is critical and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leadership is appreciated and recognised by all government members. The Morrison Government and CoPs are working together, with the states and territories and Australian Local Government Association, to implement the new National Agreement on Closing the Gap, signed by all Australian governments in July 2020.

To view the media release click here.

multiple people at large oval desk in Parliament House for second roundtable of senior Ministers & the CoPs

PM Scott Morrison hosted the second roundtable of senior Ministers and the CoPs to advance the implementation of the National Agreement on Closing the Gap. Image source: CoPs Twitter.

Consider Indigenous business for medical supplies

Why ACCHO members should consider a 100% Indigenous owned business for medical supplies?

Indigenous Medical Supplies (IMS) is a Supply Nation registered, 100% Indigenous-owned supplier of medical device, hand & hygiene, PPE & covid-19 to ACCHOs or AMSs, other medical centres, day hospitals and workplaces. Their product range includes surgical masks, a wide range of hand & hygiene stock, alcohol wipes, surgical gowns, medical gloves, face shields, protective eyewear, AED defibrillators and temperature devices at very competitive prices. You can view the IMS range on the IMS website here.

Awabakal Ltd CEO Raylene Gordon recommends IMS to CEOs, Practice Managers and management of other ACCHOs “The service from this company is reliable, honest and great quality. This was particularly important to us during COVID-19 and now into the future. Please join Awabakal in supporting this business.”

For further information contact IMS Managing Director Merv Fernando by email here or mobile phone: 0411 290 755.

health worker from Wuchopperen Health Service Limited (QLD) holding a selection of Indigenous Medical Supplies Pty Ltd products e.g. PPE; Awabakal Ltd NSW CEO & Board

Wuchoperren Health Service (QLD) employee holding selection of Indigenous Medical Supplies Pty Ltd products and Awabakal Ltd (NSW) CEO and Board members.

Indigenous bowel cancer screening resources

The Australian Government Department of Health (DoH) have publications on different health topics including bowel cancer. The National Bowel Cancer Screening Program collection, contains of a range of resources specifically tailored for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, including:

yellow tile with text 'don't delay do a bowel test today' - header & footer Aboriginal dot art in blue, brown, purple, green, orange

Australian Government Department of Health Indigenous bowel screening postcard.

RVTS Targeted Recruitment 2022 placements

Be part of something special…AND complete your specialist GP training!

Picture yourself working as a doctor in an iconic rural or remote community, while also undertaking your specialist GP training?

Apply now via our Targeted Recruitment to train with Remote Vocational Training (RVTS) in 2022. Through its Targeted Recruitment Strategy, RVTS partners with rural and remote communities of high medical workforce need to offer RVTS training as part of a package to recruit doctors to these communities. RVTS is offering specialist GP training positions in the following Targeted Recruitment locations in 2022, including five Aboriginal Medical Services, (multiple positions are offered in some locations; * denotes Aboriginal Medical Service):

  • NT – Tennant Creek* and Santa Teresa*
  • QLD – Clermont
  • VIC – Portland*
  • WA – Halls Creek, Kununurra* and South Hedland*
  • NSW – Lake Cargelligo
  • TAS – Smithton
  • SA – Mid Eyre Peninsula (Cleve, Cowell, Kimba) and Streaky Bay

Find more details (and contact officers) for each of these positions by clicking here.

Targeted Recruitment is not the only entry pathway to RVTS training. Training is also available to doctors already working in eligible rural, remote and First Nation communities across Australia! Further information about our AMS Stream for doctors in Aboriginal Medical Services in MMM2-7 locations and the Remote Stream for doctors in MMM 4-7 locations can be found here.

Don’t miss outRound 1 of the 2022 intake (all streams) is open for applications until 4 July 2021.

Doctors interested in applying for Targeted Recruitment Stream positions after this date are encouraged to contact us, as deadlines may be extended for some Targeted Recruitment locations.

text 'RVTS Remote Vocational Training Scheme Ltd - GP Training for Doctors In Aboriginal Medical Services, Rural and Remote Communities'; RVTS logo line drawing of white sun against orange sky sinking into red ground/sea; image of young man & older man wearing polo with Aboriginal art & text 'cultural mentor'

New AOD service in Wyndham

WA Mental Health Minister Stephen Dawson has launched a new culturally secure alcohol and drug and mental health support service at the Ngnowar-Aerwah Aboriginal Corporation (NAAC) in Wyndham. NAAC, together with the Mental Health Commission, co-designed the service which will provide a 16-bed sobering up service as well as outpatient counselling, prevention and diversion services.

Local planning workshops and meetings ensured a culturally secure process and the local community had an opportunity to contribute to the development of the service model. The new principles of the service include whole-of-family approaches, holistic consideration of social factors and adverse life experiences; increasing Aboriginal staff participation; developing local employment pathways; and more community awareness and education.

The new program will be delivered through a partnership between NAAC and Anglicare WA. It will also contribute to developing the capacity of the Wyndham community to respond to mental health, alcohol and drug issues and lead responses from within the community.

To view Minister Dawson’s media statement in full click here and for an overview of NAAC watch the YouTube video below.

New process for job advertising

NACCHO have introduced a new system for the advertising of job adverts via NACCHO’s communication platforms.

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 to the NACCHO website and once approved it will go live. dice spelling JOBS resting on keyboard

JulEYE

JulEYE is national eye health awareness month. 75% of vision loss is preventable or treatable if detected early enough, yet every 65 minutes an Australian loses part or all their vision.

This JulEYE, the Australian and New Zealand Eye Foundation (ANZEF) (the fundraising arm of The Royal Australian and NZ College of Ophthalmologists (RANZCO)) will be campaigning to increase the public’s awareness of eye health issues. JulEYE has three core aims:

  • to raise community awareness of eye health issues.
  • to raise funding for research projects into the causes and cures of vision impairment and blindness.
  • to support international development projects whose goals are aligned with those of The Foundation.

For more information about JulEYE click here.

tile text 'look out for your eyes this JulEYE' 'wyes & July are in white font, rest is in yellow font, medium blue background

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: New patient assessment for COVID-19 vaccine

feature tile text 'new MBS items for in-depth clinical assessments for patients 50+ years receiving COVID-19 vaccine' - image of torso of GP with pen in hand & hands of patient

New patient assessment for COVID-19

On 18 June 2021, the Australian Government introduced two new MBS items (10660 and 10661) to support general practitioners and other medical practitioners. The two new MBS items provide in-depth clinical assessments of patients aged 50 years and over. This is in regard to the patient’s individual health risks and benefits associated with receiving a COVID-19 vaccine.

The key information on these new MBS items are as follows:

  • MBS items 10660 and 10661 may only be claimed where a GP or OMP attends to a patient in person for more than 10 minutes.
  • The item must be billed in association with a relevant MBS COVID-19 vaccine suitability assessment item.
  • Consistent with the other MBS vaccine suitability assessment items, items 10660 and 10661 must be bulk-billed.

To view a the COVID-19 Vaccine Rollout Primary Care Update click here.

GP swabbing arm of patient in consult room

Image source: AMA website. Feature tile image from: Medium website.

Pfizer vaccine set to ‘ramp up’

Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly has also urged people who received their first shot of AstraZeneca to get a second dose, saying “you need to match, not mix” vaccines. The coordinator of Australia’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout says supplies are being “carefully managed” ahead of a major ramping up of doses from August.

Premiers have been critical of a shortage of supplies. Lieutenant General John Frewen, who is in charge of logistics for the vaccine rollout and briefed the national cabinet, told reporters the premiers had now been given a detailed breakdown of what supplies they can expect, including dose number forecasts. “We are still in a resource-constrained environment we need to carefully manage,” he said. “But on current forecasts, we are looking forward to ramp up availability of Pfizer through August into September and into October.”

To view the full article click here.

production line of Pfizer vaccine

Image source: Chemist and Druggist website.

Aboriginal community-controlled councils closer

Delegates to the 27th National General Assembly of Local Government have backed moves to give Indigenous Australians a greater say in how they address entrenched disadvantage in their local communities. A motion put forward by East Arnhem Regional Council to support nationally consistent recognition of Aboriginal controlled councils was carried unanimously at yesterday’s session of the NGA. Djuwalpi Marika, the Deputy President of East Arnhem Regional Council, hailed the unanimous support for the motion, saying it aligns with and further strengthens the recognition of Local Government in the Closing the Gap National Partnership Agreement. “Council is the arm of the people of East Arnhem Land,” he said yesterday.

To view the Australian Local Government Association’s media release click here.

blurred image of the back of the heads of attendees of 27th national general assembly of local government Canberra June 2021

The 27th national general assembly of local government has unanimously backed a motion to support nationally consistent recognition of Aboriginal controlled councils. Image source: The Mandarin.

Caregivers of Indigenous cancer survivors

Caregivers of Indigenous cancer survivors provide critical unpaid support to survivors, yet they rarely receive information or training for this role and may themselves benefit from support services. Little is documented about the experiences of caregivers of Indigenous cancer survivors. The aim of a systematic review published in the Journal of Psychosocial Oncology Research and Practice was to identify and aggregate qualitative research describing the experiences of caregivers of Indigenous cancer survivors in Australia, NZ, Canada and the US.

The findings reveal caregivers’ unique experiences of caring for an Indigenous cancer survivor, and identifies several unmet needs which should be appropriately and systematically addressed. Caregivers should be regarded as co-clients with their own needs as well as co-workers with health professionals providing cancer care. Ultimately supporting caregivers will contribute to improving health outcomes for Indigenous cancer survivors.

To view the article in full click here.

7 Aboriginal women sitting on chairs in circle in bush setting

Image source: Cancer Council SA website.

National Sepsis Program – get involved

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

T for Thomas is a campaign to raise awareness around the sepsis, the signs and symptoms. Thomas “Snelly” Snell was almost 14 when he contracted influenza A while on a rugby trip to Brisbane in 2017, he developed pneumonia and a secondary bacterial infection, which triggered sepsis and septic shock.  Sepsis can be triggered by any infection, but most commonly occurs in response to bacterial infections of the lungs, urinary tract, abdominal organs or skin and soft tissues. To view the T 4 Thomas website click here.

The Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care (the Commission) is undertaking a program of work to improve early recognition, treatment, outcomes and post-discharge support for people at risk of or diagnosed with sepsis in Australia. To view the Commission’s first newsletter click here.

If you or someone you know has a lived experience of sepsis, or professional interest in the topic and would like to be more involved in the National Sepsis Program, please email NACCHO Medical Advisor Dr Kate Armstrong here for more information.

image of gloved hand holding petri dish with sepsis infection; text ' #spesis 2 x as many Australian as road accidents' #sepsiskills in dark grey font & other words in hot pink

Image sources: BBC News; and Australian Sepsis Network website.

Call for abstracts – Aboriginal Health Conference

Rural Health West is seeking abstracts for the 2021 Aboriginal Health Conference to be held in Perth from 20–21 November 2021.

The conference will celebrate culture, strengths and successes in Indigenous health – a time to reflect on achievements so far and how we can address the challenges, and provide a space to rejoice and reconnect with colleagues after a challenging year in terms of environmental impacts and the COVID-19 pandemic.

Rural Health West is calling for abstracts for interesting and thought-provoking 20-minute oral presentations and E-poster presentations under the following streams:

  • Mental Health
  • Quality improvement – interrogating data for the benefit of Aboriginal people and their communities
  • Environmental Health
  • Chronic Disease with a focus on palliative care, voluntary assisted dying and end of life
  • Early intervention with a focus on child health, chest, ear and skin

While these streams are provided for guidance, abstracts may be applicable across multiple streams. All innovative projects, programs, research and initiatives will be considered. Preference will be given to presentation and poster abstracts that are action-oriented, strengths-based and solution-focused. Submissions from the Aboriginal health workforce, students, researchers and educators are encouraged.

Closing date for abstract submission is Monday 19 July 2021.

If your Abstract Submission is selected you may be eligible for funding towards your conference fee, travel and accommodation through the Health Workforce Scholarship Program (HWSP).

 For more information visit the conference website here.banner text 'Celebrating success - rejoice reconnect reflect - Call for Abstracts closes 19 July 2021 VVISIT ruralhealthwest.eventsair.com/2021-ahc TO SUBMIT YOUR ABSTRACT' image of smiling Aboriginal child hanging on to swing

Ngar-wu Wanyarra Conference – call for abstracts

The 6th Annual Ngar-wu Wanyarra Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health Conference is an opportunity for sharing information and connecting people that are committed to reforming the practice and research of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health. It is an opportunity to present evidence-based approaches, Aboriginal method s and models of practice, Aboriginal perspectives and contribution to health or community led solutions, underpinned by cultural theories to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and wellbeing.

Submissions from collaborators whose expertise and interests are embedded in Aboriginal health and wellbeing are WELCOMED.

If you are interested in presenting, please complete your registration here.

Note: there is a requirement that at least one presenter is of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander descent.

Closing date for abstract submission is Monday 5 August 2021.

Aboriginal dot art painting 'Kidneys of Dungala' by Norman Stewart, 2014, colours light blue, yellow, orange, ochre, white, brown, black

Norman Stewart, ‘Kidneys of Dungala’ 2014, Community / Language Group: Yorta Yorta. Image source: University of Melbourne website.