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

Mob think they’re immune, they’re not

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

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

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

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

To view the full article in The Australian click here.

Pat Turner AM. Image source: National Indigenous Times.

VACCHO launches medical cadet program

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

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

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

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

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

Gayaa Dhuwi suicide prevention strategy

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

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

To attend the launch, please register here.

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

It’s in our cultures to protect each other

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

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

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

To view the story in IndigenousX in full click here.

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

Image source: IndigenousX.

Role of AHWs in administering vax

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

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

To view the paper in full click here.

Image source: The Medical Journal of Australia.

RHIF funding for VIC ACCHOs

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

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

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

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

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

Suicide and self-harm monitoring website

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

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

To view the media release in full click here.

Draft PHC 10 Year Plan opens for consultation

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

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

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

For more information on the consultation process click here.

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

Danila Dilba health worker checking child's ear

Image source: RTR FM92.1 website.

Outback Stores lead way on vax

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

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

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

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

Outback Stores Ngukurr store workers.

New process for job advertising

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

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

Global Handwashing Day

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

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

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Community-led healthy food initiatives

Community-led healthy food initiatives

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

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

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

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

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

To view the Outback Stores media release click here.

two Aboriginal male store workers Ali Curung

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

World’s first children’s mental health strategy

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

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

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

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

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

Image source: SNAICC website.

Mental health aides assist police

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

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

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

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

To access the article in full click here.

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

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

First Nations perspectives in curriculum

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

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

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

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

To access the interview in full click here.

Danielle Manton & Australian Physiotherapy Council logo

Danielle Manton. Image source: Australian Physiotherapy Council website.

Oral health workforce needs to grow

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

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

To view the article in full click here.

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

EnableMe Stroke newsletters

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

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

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

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

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

Partyline magazine contributions sought

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

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

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

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

PARTYLINE logo

New process for job advertising

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

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

COVID-19 vaccine update for GPs webinar

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Allied Health Professions Day

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

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

For more information about AHP Day click here.

banner - Indigenous Allied Health Professionals Day

Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day

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

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

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

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

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

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

Image source: SANDS website.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Concerns for irreplaceable knowledge loss

feature tile text 'protect elders from COVID-19 or risk 'irreplaceable culture loss' & image of elder weaving

Concerns for irreplaceable knowledge loss

Indigenous artists, major arts organisations and Aboriginal health services are calling for a road map to protect Indigenous elders from dying from COVID-19 and the irreplaceable loss of culture and knowledge that would cause.

The organisations are worried that as Australia opens up and travel restrictions ease, the virus could reach more vulnerable remote communities. Lily Roy is a prominent senior weaving artist, traditional owner and also sits on the board of the Arnhem Land Progress Association and she founded the Milingimbi Art and Culture Centre on Milingimbi (Yurrwi) Island.

But Ms Roy, a grandmother to at least 35 children, is very concerned about what could happen to Indigenous people if COVID-19 spreads in remote communities, especially with some vaccine hesitancy still in the community. “[Of] course there’s a danger,” she said. “I’m a bit worried for my family, Indigenous people a bit worried.”

The CEO of the Arnhem, Northern and Kimberley Artists Aboriginal Corporation (ANKA), the peak advocacy body for Aboriginal artists and art centres across northern Australia, Christina Balcombe Davidson said there was a serious risk of losing culture, and even the extinction of languages, if elders die from COVID-19 in remote communities, which have little infrastructure, limited health services and overcrowded housing. “We are extremely concerned about safety for Aboriginal people and with them, for the culture that they are the custodians of,” she said.

To view the ABC News article in full click here.

Images in feature tile and above from Maningrida Arts and Culture Annual Report 2019-20.

Summary of Fact-based COVID-19 Communication Resources

The Australian Government Department of Health have prepared a suite of communication resources containing fact-based content about COVID-19 vaccines, including ones developed specifically for vaccine providers that work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients.

The resources are referred to as myth busters because they have been developed to dispel some most common misinformation.

In the suite you will find social media content including images and suggested text, and a fact sheet that could be turned into separate posters/flyers as needed:

  • Facts about COVID-19 vaccines click here
  • Indigenous myth-busting resources click here
  • List of COVID-19 vaccine materials click here
  • List of resources developed for vaccine providers that work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients click here
  • Suite of communication resources around COVID-19 vaccines download here and available to download as a pack on via Google drive share here.

Below is one of the videos in the suite of resources.

Third vax dose for immunocompromised

The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) has created a document with recommendation on the use of the third primary dose of COVID-9 vaccine in individuals who are severely immunocompromised. To access the document click here.

vax vial, syringe

Image source: The Hill website.

Lowitja’s 20 new research grants

Lowitja Institute, Australia’s national institute for community controlled Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health research, has unveiled a landmark program of 20 new research grants that changes the way Indigenous health research is done in Australia.

Lowitja Institute CEO Dr Janine Mohamed said the $4.32 million 2021-2024 Lowitja Institute Research Program delivers research that is truly community-led, culturally-safe and self-determined and puts the cultural determinants of health at the heart of each project.

“Last year, Lowitja Institute fulfilled our long-held vision of becoming an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community controlled organisation, allowing us to throw of the shackles of the old Cooperative Research Centres framework which had always required us to partner only with established research institutions,” Dr Mohamed said. “Being community controlled allows us to privilege our mob when it comes to allocating research funds. It means we can ensure Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people drive our research agenda and that we do the research our people want and need.”

The 2021-2024 Lowitja Institute Research Projects range from the world acclaimed Melbourne-based Short Black Opera to a focus on aged care in the Torres Strait and on children by the Marinwarntikura Women’s Resource Centre in Fitzroy Crossing. Projects will also explore the health impacts of out-of-home care and Indigenous community radio, and map Rainbow Mob cultures, knowledges, and experiences.

To view the media release in full click here.

Simple salt swap could save lives

A landmark study shows a simple salt swap could prevent millions of deaths.

High levels of sodium intake and low levels of potassium intake are widespread, and both are linked to high blood pressure and greater risks of stroke, heart disease and premature death.  Using a salt substitute – where part of the sodium chloride is replaced with potassium chloride – addresses both problems at once.  Salt substitutes are known to lower blood pressure but their effects on heart disease, stroke, and death were unclear, until now.

Lead investigator, Professor Bruce Neal of The George Institute for Global Health, said that the scale of the benefit seen in the study could prevent millions of early deaths if salt substitutes were widely adopted. “Almost everyone in the world eats more salt than they should.  Switching to a salt substitute is something that everyone could do if salt substitutes were on the supermarket shelves,’’ he said.

To view the article in full click here.

salt shaker, salt on bench with word salt spelt in salt

Image source: Mary Hare Hearing Services website.

RACGP looks at NT GP challenges

The RACGP are undertaking a tour of key locations in the NT, including Alice Springs and Central Australia, to understand GP workforce concerns. The RACGP said its mission is to learn from stakeholders in health care settings what challenges face the NT’s workforce and local communities.

RACGP vice president Dr Bruce Willett said that the RACGP understood the serious impact that a doctor shortage had on primary care services in the NT. “There are simply not enough GPs in the training and practising across the state, particularly in rural and remote areas,” Willet said. “Everyone deserves access to high-quality general practice care, regardless of their postcode. Without this, we see patients end up in hospital with much worse health issues that could have been managed in general practice.”

As part of a new transition plan, specialists colleges will once again be responsible for delivery of the Australian General Practice Training Program (AGPT). RACGP rural chair Dr Michael Clements said this change would improve the distribution and placements of GPs Australia wide.

To view the article in full click here.

Image source: Katherine Times.

Kidney disease voices sought

Are you or do you know an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander person living with kidney disease? Did you know that being of Indigenous descent puts you at higher risk of developing kidney disease? Has you doctor explained these risks to you?

The CARI Guidelines Workshop on the Management of Chronic Kidney Disease among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people is seeking voices of lived experience.

Would you like to share your story to help education others to understand better what it is like living with kidney disease?

To view a flyer explaining how you can get involved click here and/or David Tunnicliffe here for more information.

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.

letters J O B S pinned to a cork board

World Sight Day

World Sight Day is this Thursday 14 October 2021. Given the varied impacts of the COVID-19 restrictions across different parts of the country, Vision 2020 have come up with a more nuanced message than in previous years. Taking a lead form the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB) messaging, they are  encouraging Australians to:

Take the pledge to #LoveYourEyes:

  1. Have an eye test as soon as you can.
  2. Don’t ignore changes in your vision.
  3. Maintain your ongoing treatment if you have an existing eye condition.

For more information about World Sight Day, including access to a suite of resources click here.

banner black heart with heart shape & text 'your eyes - 2021 World Sight Day' - background blue, purple, orange

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Historical factors impact healthcare access

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

Historical factors impact healthcare access

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

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

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

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

Aboriginal youth receiving vax at Walgett AMS

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

ACCHO to build $7m new medical facility

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

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

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

To view the article in full click here.

 BDAC staff looking at building plans

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

Top COVID-19 vax questions

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

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

Mob overrepresented in road trauma statistics

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

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

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

roadside memorial

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

More needed to tackle Kimberley suicide rate

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

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

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

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

To view the ABC News article in full click here.

Jacob Smith - social worker Headspace, Kimberleys

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

Food security in remote communities

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

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

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

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

To read the submission in full click here.

Aboriginal staff at checkout in Barlmarrk Supermarket

Barlmarrk Supermarket. Image source: Bawinanga Aboriginal Corporation website.

Type 2 diabetes glucose management study

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

AHCSA Sexual Health and BBV Program

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

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

For more information about the program click here.

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

Image source: AHCSA website.

New process for job advertising

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

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

National Carers Week

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

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

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

For more information click here.

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

Vax for people living with kidney disease

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

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: ‘We have the platform and we have the commitment’ NACCHO’s message on World Mental Health Day

feature tile text 'World Mental Health Day - Sunday 10 October 2021' & image of arms around heart, Aboriginal dot art faded in background, bold for heart shape

‘We have the platform and we have the commitment’ NACCHO’s message on World Mental Health Day

On World Mental Health Day, the NACCHO emphasises that the commitment in the National Agreement on Closing the Gap needs continued funding to support critical reform and close the mental health gap. The funding will help shape mental health policy and program delivery for the coming decades.

In Australia, the suicides rates in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities continue to rise and the COVID-19 pandemic highlights the urgent need to develop and invest in culturally appropriate Social and Emotional Wellbeing (SEWB), suicide prevention, aftercare, postvention and mental health services.

NACCHO Chair Donnella Mills states, “Our communities are disproportionately represented in mental health statistics and are more than twice as likely to die by suicide compared to other Australians.

“The concept of social and emotional wellbeing is essential. It is central to our ways of being. It recognises our connection to Country, community, and culture. To family and kinship. To spirituality and our ancestors. It recognises that a person’s wellbeing is influenced and impacted by past events, traumas, and government policies. It is a term that encompasses both mental health and mental illness.

“Reforms need to be made in alignment with the National Agreement on Closing the Gap. The National Agreement commits our Country to a new direction and is a pledge from all governments to fundamentally change the way they work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and organisations.”

“We have the platform, we have the commitment, and we have the evidence to support Aboriginal Community Controlled Services provide the best quality of care for our communities,” said Ms Mills.

To view NACCHO’s media statement in full click here.tile text 'World Mental Health 10 October 2021 we have the platform and we have the commitment' & graphic of arms around a heart, NACCHO Aboriginal dot painting in background

Derbarl Yerrigan employee marks 30 years

The Derbarl Yerrigan Health Service has recognised 30 years of outstanding service and commitment of its longest serving employee, Uncle Arnold Yarran. It all started on Friday afternoon in September 1991; when Uncle Arnold attended the (then) Perth Aboriginal Medical Service to see a Doctor and needed a transport home. With the service down two drivers, the Doctor asked if he would like to drive.

Uncle Arnold agreed to help the service out and transported patients home that afternoon. As he returned the keys, he was asked if he could help out for a few weeks. Thirty years on he still holds one of the most important positions in our health service, transporting our patients and enabling patients’ access to health care.

Over three decades, he has gained trust from community members, patients and is highly respected by the Derbarl team. His cultural and community knowledge brings strength and integrity to the service. He has served his people with a caring and compassionate heart and also fierce and resilient. Uncle Arnold is a member of the Aboriginal Advisory group and provides the cultural lens to Derbarl’s service delivery.

To Derbarl Yerrigan’s media release in full click here.

Arnold Yarren.

NACCHO Medical Advisor on narrowing health gap

NACCHO Medical Advisor Dr Jason Agostino spoke on ABC News yesterday about a new report suggesting health outcomes for Indigenous Australians may be improving. The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare has found there has been a 27% decline in premature deaths among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people compared to two years ago. You can watch the interview in full below.

Pandemic needs trauma-informed response

Fear is one of the central response during the pandemic. Every day brings a new level of stress: concerns about getting sick, the stigma of testing positive, financial difficulties due to not being able to work, separation from loved ones in lockdown (or being locked in an unsafe household). The list goes on.

It can be particularly hard for people already experiencing complex post-traumatic stress disorder or trauma associated with earlier exposure to severe, repeated and inescapable threats or abuse, often from those meant to protect them.

As the pandemic hit last year, a study called Healing the Past by Nurturing the Future was being undertaken with the aim of improving support for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander parents experiencing complex trauma.

To view the article in full click here.

hand being held in palms of another

Image source: NC State University website.

Jalbi Jiya home ownership program

Two Aboriginal families will enter home ownership for the first time through the McGowan Government’s $9.7 million Jalbi Jiya housing program. Jalbi Jiya means ‘your home’ in the language of the Yawuru people, the traditional owners of Broome.

The program was co-designed and is run in partnership with Nyamba Buru Yawuru (NBY), the operational company of the Yawuru people. Funded through the Department of Communities North West Aboriginal Housing Fund, the Jalbi Jiya program was established in 2020 and offers culturally safe support services, alongside 25 affordable rental homes.

To view the media release in full click here.

street of houses overlaid with white Jalbi Jiya logo

Image source: Yawuru website.

Carnival promotes healthy life choices

The importance of making healthy life choices, including getting vaccinated against COVID-19, will be widely promoted at the annual Bindal Sharks All Blacks Rugby League Carnival kicking off in Townsville today. This year, the three-day drug and alcohol-free event will feature a pop-up COVID-19 vaccination clinic and health professionals will be on hand to educate people and address any concerns they may have about getting the vaccine.

The Morrison Government, through the National Indigenous Australians Agency, will be offering free entry for the three days to the first 1,000 spectators who can demonstrate they have had at least one COVID-19 vaccination prior to the day, Minister Wyatt said. And for anyone who chooses to get vaccinated on the day, Queensland Health will subside their entry for the remaining days.

To view the media release in full click here.

Torres Strait community driven research

The people of the Torres Strait have been the subjects of research for almost 50 years. It has been an especially fertile region for researchers focusing on Indigenous health, but this activity has been almost entirely driven by institutions and researchers from outside the Torres Strait. Local people are mostly at a loss to identify how this research has translated into better health outcomes for them. For many, research has become a dirty word; people have felt cheated.

Externally based research endeavours usually fail to appreciate the depth of local family and island connections, the unwritten cultural responsibilities, the transgenerational obligations, and the ever‐present grief of lost loved ones. In this context, future research questions must be created by local people themselves if they are to have meaning for them.

In the words of one community elder: “We have been researched to death. It is time we researched our way back to life”. There is a culture shift; it is now time for Torres Strait people to take control and breathe life back into their community health and wellbeing through community‐based research. This is a key part of the Torres Strait search for greater life meaning.

To access the full article click here.

small Torres Strait Islander girl ceremonial dance

Photo: Patricia Woods. Image source; Flickr.

Program to boost rural doctor numbers

A program that provides young doctors with the experience of training in a rural general practice or Aboriginal Medical Services and provides more medical care to regional, rural and remote communities is being extended by the Federal Coalition Government.

Federal Regional Health Minister, Dr David Gillespie said extending the Rural Junior Doctor Training Innovation Fund (RJDTIF) for another year will mean 60 fulltime-equivalent rurally based interns and postgraduate doctors can undertake training in country practices. “This program allows early-career doctors to take the opportunity to train in the rural communities where clinical opportunities are abundant, while also enjoying the benefits of a regional or rural lifestyle,” Dr Gillespie said.

“There is strong evidence that undertaking medical training in a regional or rural setting increases retention rates. The program has already benefitted more than 50 towns and 80 sites across regional, rural, and remote locations, such Nhulunbuy in the NT, Goondiwindi in QLD and Bega in NSW with approximately 814 rotations since 2018.”

To view the article in full click here.

yellow road sign on regional road

Image source: AMA website.

New process for job advertising

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

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

World Hospice and Palliative Care Day

Tomorrow Saturday 9 October 2021 is World Hospice and Palliative Care Day.

There are currently two Indigenous National Palliative Care Projects that are working actively to raise awareness and importance of palliative care for our communities.

Gwandalan National Palliative Care Project

Education and training materials for the Gwandalan Project aim to support relationships between service providers, frontline staff and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Communities through cross-cultural education and the sharing of knowledge. This will be achieved through the provision of education and training to support increased capacity in those who care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples during their returning to Sprit journey.

The Gwandalan Project does not address clinical palliative care content but rather, supports the provision of culturally safe and responsive palliative care by upskilling frontline staff to contextualise care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, and deliver services in a way which supports a good ‘finishing up’.

Indigenous Program of Experience in the Palliative Approach (IPEPA)

IPEPA’s goal is to achieve the vision by preparing mainstream and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health professionals to deliver high quality, holistic and culturally responsive palliative care to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and their loved ones.

IPEPA is a grassroots approach to breaking down the barriers to palliative care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples across Australia.

Mental Health Month

October is Mental Health Month, the highlight of which is World Mental Health Day on Sunday 10 October, only two days away.

This year’s World Mental Health Day campaign encourages everyone to “Look after your mental health, Australia” as well as to look up, look forward, and look out for each other. The message is particularly prescient in light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, says Mental Health Australia CEO, Dr Leanne Beagley.

To view Mental Health Australia’s media release click here.

Ungaroo walk-in vax clinics next week

Ungooroo Aboriginal Corporation will be holding walk-in COVID-19 vaccination clinics at Musswellbrook and Singleton next week. The walk-in clinics will be open as follows:

Muswellbrook9:30 AM – 4:00 PM Wednesday 13 October

Singleton10:00 AM – 3:00 PM Friday 15 October.

To view more details click on the flyer here.

tile Ungooroo walk-in clinics Muswellbrook & Singleton, group of 5 Aboriginal people, various ages

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Importance of second vax dose

feature tile text 'COVID-19 second does provides excellent protection against hospitalisation' & 2 vials of vax, 2 syringes & vax record sheet

Importance of second vax dose

According to NACCHO PHMO Dr Jason Agostino over 8,000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are overdue for their second dose of Pfizer. Dr Agostino said it is essential everyone gets both doses. The second dose is what provides the excellent protection against hospitalisation and decreases a person’s chances of spreading the virus to their family and community.

The below infographic, developed by ACHWA, explains the importance of the second dose. You can access the infographic here.

AHCWA infographic - importance of second vax dose, graphic of vax in relation to hospitalisations

Calls for whole of government health response

A leading Aboriginal health expert says systemic failings in NT health requires a whole of government response, as the NT tries desperately to come up with solutions to a health system in crisis.

Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance NT (AMSANT) CEO John Paterson said Aboriginal health outcomes were worse in the NT because governments had not had a holistic approach. “One of the biggest priority areas is housing, the overcrowding of housing here and in remote communities is just unacceptable,” Mr Paterson said. “It is unhealthy to have up to 25 people (or more) residing in three-bedroom homes.”

He said it was about bringing all of government to the table to discuss housing, health, education, literacy and employment. Until we start addressing some of these underlying ­issues, which we’ve been advocating and calling on governments to act upon for a number of years now, we will see very little change,” he said. “We need to begin making inroads and addressing the underlying issues (in health). Together these things will reduce the strain on the health system and the pressure points we are currently experiencing.”

Mr Paterson went on to explain government and Indigenous leadership had ­already agreed on the “perfect plan” which was to Close the Gap. “I’ve been there since day dot. I’ve been throughout the whole process, discussed all the priority target areas that we need to improve on … but what we now need is government leadership and a commitment to funding particularly to Aboriginal ­organisations so we can get on with doing the job for our mob,” he said.

You can read the full article extracted from the NT News here.

AMSANT CEO John Paterson

AMSANT CEO John Paterson is very worried over the Delta strain getting into NT remote communities. Photo: Dane Hirst, ABC News. Image source: ABC News.

Indigenous health gap narrows

“Disease burden” measures an illness or injury’s impact in terms of the number of years of healthy life lost through living with the ailment. Overall, Indigenous Australians experience 2.3 times more disease burden than non-Indigenous Australians. The report found Indigenous Australians born after 2018 can expect to live around 80% of their lives in full health. The absolute gap in disease burden between Indigenous and non-Indigenous dropped by 16% between 2003 and 2018.

To view the full article click here.

palm of hand painted black yellow red

Image source: newsGP.

Telehealth a turnoff for some mob

The Murrumbidgee Aboriginal Health Consortium has told the NSW parliamentary inquiry into rural health that some patients forego cancer treatment in order to afford food and household bills. Committee member Stacey O’Hara said treatment was often hundreds of kms away from home or off country.

Telehealth has been widely used during the COVID-19 pandemic, but the inquiry has heard Aboriginal patients have been reluctant to use it. “Even those in paid employment often have exorbitant living costs and must prioritise whether or not accessing medical treatment is more important than feeding the family or registering the car,” the inquiry heard.

The Upper House committee was also told the way medical services were delivered during the COVID-19 pandemic adversely affected Aboriginal people. “We found that clients just were not comfortable with the telehealth consults,” Ms O’Hara said. “We have seen a big drop in people even accessing any GP consults at a local level. “I just think Aboriginal are more comfortable sitting across the side of a desk and having that conversation with the GP.”

To view the ABC News article in full click here.mobile phone connected to stethoscope

Prisoners struggling to access health care

Indigenous prisoners are experiencing “extreme distress” and fear longer times in custody as they struggle to access appropriate health care amid the pandemic, advocates say. The vaccination rollout program, high transportation rates and the fear of being infected while behind bars were major worries for inmates and their families, Professor Megan Williams has said.

Dr Williams is the head of Girra Maa, the Indigenous health discipline at the Graduate School of Health at the University of Technology Sydney, and an advisor to Corrective Services NSW. “We tend to know that these Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled health organisations are locked out of prisons, and so are not able to be part of any vaccine rollout or providing any information to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in prisons,” she said. “That’s actually where we end up seeing a human rights issue and potential human rights breach.”

To read the full story click here.

prison corridor, yellow cell doors closed

Photo: Daniel Soekov, Human Rights Watch. Image source: ABC News.

Indigenous health leader Julie Tongs says her worst nightmares were confirmed after an Alexander Maconochie Centre prison officer, who was on duty for a number of days, tested positive to COVID-19. The case was recorded more than nine days after Ms Tongs, the CEO of Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health Service, called for COVID-19 vaccinations to be mandatory for prison staff.

Ms Tongs is again calling on the ACT government “to do everything in its power to ensure all detainees in the AMC are accorded every conceivable protection from the virus”.

To view this story in the Canberra CityNews click here.

Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health & Community Services CEO Julie Tongs. Image source: Canberra CityNews.

New project inspires rural GP careers

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) has launched a new project to inspire more people to consider a career in rural general practice and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health. This Rural Life is a digital project, showcasing the unique experiences and rewards of a career in rural general practice, with a focus on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health.

The project puts a spotlight on GPs across all career stages working in rural or remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health by sharing the incredible stories of those in the field. It was inspired by RACGP members who told us that we need to share the important, complex, and often isolating work of GPs in rural and remote areas.

You can view the media release here.

stethoscope hanging on wire gate in bush

Image source: Australian Doctor.

Dedicated youth mentoring programs

The Victorian Government is supporting Aboriginal young people to achieve their aspirations and life goals through dedicated mentoring programs that support wellbeing, education and employment. Minister for Youth Ros Spence today announced that grant applications for the Marram Nganyin Aboriginal Youth Mentoring Program are NOW OPEN for Aboriginal organisations to deliver tailored mentoring programs in collaboration with local Aboriginal young people.

Marram Nganyin – meaning ‘we are strong’ in the Woiwurrung language of the Wurundjeri people – supports Aboriginal young people to be healthy, confident and strong in their identity and culture, and engaged in their community. The program is underpinned by the Government’s support for Aboriginal self-determination, recognising that Aboriginal organisations are best-placed to understand the needs of Aboriginal communities.

To view the media release click here.

face of Aboriginal girl in a grass field, Marram Nganyin logo

Image sources: Koori Youth Council website and YourTown.

PIP – Indigenous Health Incentive

The Practice Incentives Program (PIP) – Indigenous Health Incentive (IHI) supports general practices and Indigenous health practices to provide a range of health services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients with chronic medical conditions.

You can apply for the IHI and register patients online using the PIP Online feature in Health Professional Online Services (HPOS). To assist you manage incentives easily online, we have a range of new educational resources that demonstrate step-by-step how to perform distinct functions through HPOS. To learn more about these tailored resources, refer to the links contained in this information sheet.

$20 note, stethoscope, tablets

Image source: AMA.

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.

Foot Health Week

Foot Health Week is a nationally recognised health awareness campaign run annually in October promoting good foot health and the important role podiatrists play in keeping Australians pain-free and moving.

The 2021 Foot Health Week campaign will run from 11-17 October with the theme, ‘Love your feet and… they’ll love you back!’ highlighting how taking care of your feet will positively impact the rest of your body and encouraging better overall health outcomes for all Australians.

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

In terms of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander foot health a paper published in the Australian Indigenous HealthBulletin looked at the risk markers, risk factors, and chronic conditions in relation to foot health in the Aboriginal population. It showed high prevalence of serious foot complications in the Aboriginal community, and no research having thoroughly investigated the nature and mechanism of the foot problems affecting Aboriginal communities.

You can view the full paper here.

banner foot health week 11-17 October 2021 'love your feet and ... they'll love you back' comic pictures of feet walking

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Expanded vaccine choice for all over 60 years

feature tile text 'Expanded COVID-19 vaccine choice now available for all over 60 years' & 62 year old Aboriginal man receiving vax

Feature image source The Conversation: Cecil Phillips, 62, receiving his COVID-19 vaccination by registered nurse, Sam Parimalanathan, at the Aboriginal Medical Service in Redfern. Photograph: Isabella Moore

Expanded vaccine choice for over 60s

The Minister for Health has announced people aged 18 and over are now eligible to receive any COVID-19 vaccine available in Australia. This includes Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca.

Previously, AstraZeneca was the only vaccine available, outside of remote areas, to those aged over 60 years.

The expansion of COVID-19 vaccine choice may help to address the approximately 20% of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population over 60 years who have not yet been vaccinated.

For further information visit the Department of Health’s website here.

DoH banner text 'All 3 vaccines available for people over 18'

Full community control for Palm Island company

This week saw a major step towards self-determination for the Palm Island community with the transition of the Palm Island Community Company (PICC) to full community control. The Queensland Government and the Palm Island Aboriginal Shire Council have now transferred their shareholding in PICC to enable a community-controlled organisation that is fully owned by community members.

PICC has been operating since 2008 and has grown into a large professional organisation delivering a wide range of community services with a workforce of nearly 150 employees, who are overwhelmingly local Palm Islanders. In August, PICC took on responsibility for Palm Island primary health services, amalgamating their existing health centre with the Townsville Hospital and Health Service (THHS) primary health centre to create an integrated community-controlled Aboriginal Medical Service.

The Palm Island Mayor and past chairperson of PICC, Mislam Sam said: “this is a hard-won achievement for the Palm Island community. Our community and our elders and leaders have worked for decades for self-determination, and we are proud to finally have local control over services, especially health, that support our families and employ local people.”

PICC services include:

  • an integrated Aboriginal medical service
  • community services, including in the areas of family well-being, early childhood, healing, disability, child protection, domestic violence, men’s groups, children and youth activities
  • social enterprises, including a mechanics workshop, fuel supply and a community shop.

To view the media release click here.

VACCHO Vaccine Vans hit the road

The Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (VACCHO) have launched dedicated Vaccine Vans. The vans, which will travel through Greater Shepparton and Latrobe Valley, are crucial in making the COVID-19 vaccine available to the Indigenous community who’ve faced barriers accessing the vaccine so far.

“Building on the hard work of ACCHOs across the state – the vans will boost support of COVID-19 vaccine delivery to community members during regional residencies across Victoria over the coming weeks,” said VACCHO CEO Jill Gallagher.

Gallagher stressed the urgent need for this initiative and vaccinating the community given the record high case numbers in the state, and the plans to open up restrictions as vaccination rates improve. “We must be mindful of the fact that risk factors for COVID-19 are disproportionately higher for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people,” she said.

“[This is] due to a combination of factors including pre-existing health concerns, pressing mental health and wellbeing issues, and people living in overcrowded or transient accommodation.”

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

VACCHO building external view, overlaid with VACCHO logo

Pharmacist guidelines for vaping prescriptions

In December 2020, the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) announced that from 1 October 2021, a prescription will be required to access liquid nicotine for inhalation (vaping), following a change to its scheduling.

To manage these legislative changes, the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (PSA), with support from the Commonwealth Department of Health, has developed guidelines and education to support Australian pharmacists through the transition.

Claire Antrobus, Manager, Practice Support and project lead, explained why such support is required. “From today, a prescription will be required to access nicotine vaping products. When nicotine vaping products are prescribed under the Authorised Prescriber Scheme or the Special Access Scheme they can be dispensed through local pharmacies.

“As a result of these legislative changes, we are likely to see patients presenting to pharmacies, to access nicotine vaping products via prescription. PSA has worked with the Therapeutic Goods Administration, the Department of Health’s Tobacco Control Section, Quit Victoria, the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners, the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation, the Pharmacy Guild of Australia and the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists to develop guidelines and education which equips pharmacists with the skills and knowledge to effectively manage the transition.

“These guidelines outline the pharmacist’s role in providing smoking cessation support and key requirements for dispensing nicotine vaping products, including counselling and safety considerations.

To view the full article click here.

chemist counter with vaping fluid packs

Australian manufacturer Liber Pharmaceuticals produces a nicotine vaping product (NVP). Image source: Business News Australia.

Now is the time to be vaccinating

According to the peak Aboriginal health body, NACCHO, the vaccination gap between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and non-Indigenous people is partly due to the low coverage among the younger population.

NACCHO medical adviser, epidemiologist Dr Jason Agostino, said almost 90% of the Indigenous population is under 60, and many of them had only recently become eligible for vaccination. “This is really an issue about immunisations for younger Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people,” Dr Agostino, said. “If we look at the over-60 population, more than 70% have had a first dose nationwide and in ACT, NSW and Victoria it’s about 85%.”

Agostino said he was “quite confident” that the ACT, Victoria and NSW would reach a fully vaccinated rate above 80% for the 12 and over population before the end of October. But he said states which have had very few Covid cases, such as Queensland and WA, should be dramatically lifting their vaccination rates now, to avoid a a situation like the one unfolding in Wilcannia, which now had more than 156 cases in a population of 720 people.

“It’s so important, because starting to lift your vaccination [rates] during an outbreak is not the ideal time,” he said. As you’ve seen in western NSW, in the space of six weeks, they’ve had almost 1,000 cases and they’ve had five deaths in that region. Now is the time to be vaccinating.”

To view The Guardian article in full click here.

Darren Wright receives the first dose of a COVID vaccine at the Ungooroo Vaccination Hub in Singleton. Photo supplied by: Ungooroo Aboriginal Corporation

Darren Wright receives the first dose of a COVID vaccine at the Ungooroo Vaccination Hub in Singleton. Photo supplied by: Ungooroo Aboriginal Corporation. Image source: Muswellbrook Chronicle.

Culturally appropriate NDIS services trial

The WA Government will fund a trial of culturally appropriate services for Aboriginal NDIS participants in the Kimberley. The Broome Regional Aboriginal Medical Service (BRAMS) will undertake research and consult with specialists and Aboriginal people to develop a culturally competent model of allied health service delivery for the region over 18 months.

There will be a particular focus on developing techniques and resources that can be used by allied health professionals who work with Aboriginal NDIS participants. A six-month ‘Community of Practice’ will also be set up to test and learn from the practical tools and resources created by the project.

To access the media statement in full click here.

Aboriginal man and woman having a cup of tea at table

Image source: Synapse Australia’s Brain Injury Organisation.

Aboriginal Family Led Decision Making pilot

Child Protection Minister Simone McGurk has announced Wungening Aboriginal Corporation (Wungening) as the successful Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisation (ACCO) for the Aboriginal Family Led Decision Making (AFLDM) pilot in Mirrabooka.

Through the pilot, Wungening will enlist independent Aboriginal convenors to facilitate a culturally safe process that supports Aboriginal families to make decisions about how to best keep their children safe and connected with their community. AFLDM aims to address the overrepresentation of Aboriginal children in the child protection system by promoting greater participation and self-determination for Aboriginal families and to provide input into decisions regarding their children.

To view the media release click here.
Wungening AC building & logo

Health scholarship opportunity closing soon

The opportunity to apply for a scholarship is closing soon. The scholarship supports students studying in a number of health disciplines including additional scholarship places for Mental Health studies.

Attached are a couple of web banners for your use. If you require any adjustments to the artwork, please contact Sam. The  social media caption is: ‘DON’T MISS OUT! Scholarships for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students studying, or intending to study, entry-level health courses. The scholarships are funded by the Australian Government Department of Health.

Visit here to find out more and apply, closes Monday 11 October 2021.

banner text 'ATSI health scholarship applications open'

Steady pipeline of doctors program

A new locally-led medical program, the first of its kind, could be launched as early as 2023, to build a steady pipeline of doctors into regional, rural, and urban areas in the Northern Territory. Charles Darwin University has joined Menzies School of Health Research (Menzies) in its aspirations to establish the CDU/Menzies Medical Program, as a part of a new Northern Australian Health Workforce Alliance to support the health workforce needs of the Northern Territory and, more broadly, northern Australia. The opportunity to expand general practice and rural medicine training, consultant medical training and health research will be enhanced through such an Alliance.

To view the CDU media release click here and to view a more detailed article click here.

Charles Darwin University sign

Charles Darwin University is joining forces with Menzies School of Health Research to establish a medical program in the NT. Image source: NT 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.

World Cerebral Palsy Day

World Cerebral Palsy Day, marked today Wednesday 6 October, is a movement of people with Cerebral Palsy (CP) and their families, and the organisations that support them, in more than 75 countries. CP affects more than 17 million people worldwide. Another 350 million people are closely connected to a child or adult with CP. It is the most common physical disability in childhood. CP is a permanent disability that affects movement. Its impact can range from a weakness in one hand, to almost a complete lack of voluntary movement:

  • 1 in 4 children with CP cannot talk
  • 1 in 4 cannot walk
  • 1 in 2 have an intellectual disability
  • 1 in 4 have epilepsy.

The World CP DAY movement’s vision is to ensure that children and adults with Cerebral Palsy have the same rights, access and opportunities as anyone else in our society. It is only together, that we can make that happen.

The report Comparing risks of cerebral palsy in births to Australian Indigenous and non-Indigenous mothers concludes that those of Indigenous heritage may be the subject of greater under-ascertainment of CP than those without Indigenous heritage and Indigenous children are at significantly greater risk of CP, particularly postneonatal CP, and their impairments tend to be more severe.

The theme of World CP Day this year is Because every person living with cerebral palsy is a reason to strive for change.

For more information click here.banner text 'World CP Day October 6' green, blue, yellow, vector map of world

COVID-19 vaccine update for GPs webinar

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

11:30am–12:00pm (AEST) tomorrow, Thursday 7 October 2021.

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

Joining Professor Michael Kidd AM this week will be Dr Lucas de Toca, First Assistant Secretary, COVID-19 Primary Care Response, Department of Health and Dr Clara Soo
Practice Principal, Hobart Place General Practice and East Canberra General Practice, Canberra.

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: BUStopping the Pandemic campaign

feature tile text NT ACCHOs launch BUStopping Pandemic Campaign,' & vector bus with covid virus wallpaper in background

BUStopping the Pandemic campaign

Danila Dilba and AMSANT along with Central Australian Aboriginal Congress (CAAAC) in Mparntwe / Alice Springs, have launched a new look to their bus services.

“As we all step up our efforts to vaccinate as many people as we can, we figured our messages should be taken to the streets,” AMSANT CEO John Paterson said today.

“Our messages are clear: we want to protect our Elders, our Kids and our Communities. We urge everyone in Darwin to take a look at the buses, and go and get the jab.” The BUStopping the Pandemic campaign was part of the blitz to increase vaccination rates in the Greater Darwin region and central Australia.

“We are aiming high, we want to achieve 90%+ double vaccination for everyone – with a particular push on getting to the most vulnerable in our community,” said Mr Paterson. John Paterson also welcomed the involvement with BUStopping the Pandemic through Congress. “Cuz Congress features prominently on two buses in Mparntwe / Alice Springs – with the same message: “Get Vaccinated!”

To view AMSANT’s media release click here.

Health on Wheels covid vax clinic van & sign

The Health on Wheels truck also offers vaccinations and messaging in the NT. Photo: NT Department of Health. Image source: ABC News.

NACCHO PHMO speaks with Officeworks GM

Jason Mifsud, Head of First Nations Affairs and Enterprise at Wesfarmers and Alex Staley, General Manager Corporate Affairs at Officeworks, have spoken with Dr Jason Agostino, GP, Epidemiologist, Medical Advisor at NACCHO and Shaun Burgoyne, former AFL player about COVID-19 vaccines and misinformation, making an informed choice, Officeworks staff and the future.

You can watch the video below:

Smile Squad dental vans used in vax push

Minister for Health, Martin Foley, and Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Gabrielle Williams, say some of Victoria’s ‘Smile Squad’ dental vans will be used to support targeted vaccination efforts, in partnership with the Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (VACCHO), community leaders and mainstream health services.

The first of three dedicated COVID-19 Vaccine Vans will hit the road this week, travelling to the City of Greater Shepparton, with another van travelling to the City of Latrobe later in the week. The mobile vaccination units will be staffed and run by Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations and mainstream partners to remove transport and geographic barriers to access among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Victorians. Over the last several weeks, vaccination in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community has been increasing week on week as further clinics continue to open.

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

Victoria's fleet of orange Smile Squad dental vans

Victoria’s fleet of dental vans to be used as part of a mobile vaccination drive across the state. Image source: The North West Star.

Key issues impacting ear health care

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in Australia experience some of the highest rates of ear disease and associated hearing loss in the world. This has been and continues to remain a significant health issue. In the 2018-19 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey (NATSIHS), the proportion of Indigenous Australians with measured hearing loss (43%) was higher than self-reported hearing loss (12%) among those aged seven and over.

Additionally, in some remote NT communities, studies have found rates of ear disease and hearing loss in children be as high as 90%. The World Health Organisation (WHO) considers a4% prevalence rate of Chronic Suppurative Otitis Media (CSOM) as a “public health emergency” requiring immediate attention. Whilst the rate of CSOM among Indigenous children has declined 24% in 2001 to 14%in 2012, these prevalence rates remain extremely high with profound, long-term impacts for Aboriginal children and
adults.

The report Needs analysis: key issues impacting primary health care sector capacity to improve ear and hearing health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres strait Islander children in the NT prepared by AMSANT’s Ear Coordination Program can be accessed here.

Dr Kelvin Kong examines a child’s ear. Photo: Simone De Peak. Image source: GPNews.

Kicking Australia’s smoking addiction

From 1 October 2021, Australians who use e-cigarettes and other vaping products containing nicotine will need a doctor’s prescription to buy them from a local pharmacy or to order them from overseas.

But there’s another evidence-based way to help more smokers quit, which Australia is yet to act on: reducing the nicotine in cigarettes to non-addictive levels. And e-cigarettes could play an important role in this policy.

If you know someone who’s ever tried to stop smoking and failed, nicotine addiction is likely the reason they found it so hard. While nicotine itself is not a significant direct cause of the health harms from smoking, it makes tobacco products highly addictive.

To view the full article in The Conversation click here.

man with smoke coming from nose, mouth, cigarette wrapped around his neck

Image source: K-72, Canada.

Healing Foundation CEO interview

Intergenerational trauma is a massive problem for Australia’s First Nations people. There are efforts being made, though, to heal that trauma so that people living can actually move on with their lives without being anchored to the horrors of the past. Three Torres Strait Island communities have actually taken some really significant steps in regard to this.

Dauan, Saibai, and Kerriri islands have all been involved in conversations around healing with The Healing Foundation to try and create a roadmap towards improvement in their health.

The Healing Foundation’s CEO, Fiona Cornforth recently spoke with Adam Stephen about the journey that these islands have taken, their residents, and what this roadmap will actually look like and what it might achieve for those that have been hurt.

You can view a transcript of the interview click here and watch a short video about the Torres Strait Island (Kerriri) Healing Forum below.

Sport important to mob, but barriers

Physical activity and sport are important in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures. Traditional activities like hunting and caring for Country are still practised today. These activities require physical exertion and have cultural significance.

Organised sport is important in many regional and remote communities where higher numbers of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples live. This can be seen through competitions like the NSW Koori Knockout and the NAIDOC Netball Carnival.

Many factors influence Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander participation in physical activity and sport. These can be classified as facilitators, that enable participation, or barriers, that can make participation more challenging.

Data from the  Australian Bureau of Statistics show fewer than 4 in 10 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults are doing enough physical activity. This is despite high Indigenous representation in professional sport, for example in Rugby League and AFL.

To view the full UNSW Sydney article click here.

Aboriginal All Stars at Football Park, Darwin - rear view of players with arms around each others waist, neck

Aboriginal All Stars at Football Park, Darwin. Photo: Stephen Cherry/AAP. Image source: UNSW Newsroom.

Food security grant round open

Applications for the $5 million Strengthening Remote Communities – Food Security Grant Opportunity have now opened.  The Minister for Indigenous Australians, the Hon Ken Wyatt AM MP, said ensuring a reliable supply of essential goods, groceries and other critical supplies in remote communities is a high priority.

“In the 2021-22 Budget we committed to invest in remote stores to improve food security and strengthen supply chains. This grant delivers on our commitment,” Minister Wyatt said. “There are over 200 community stores providing food and essential groceries to remote Indigenous communities on a daily basis. These stores provide a crucial community service but can face significant barriers, including poor road access, seasonal isolation, cold supply chain interruptions and inflated maintenance costs.”

To view the media release here and find additional information about the grants, including Grant Opportunity Guidelines on GrantConnect here.

Image source: Outback Stores website.

New process for job advertising

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Time’s over for thinking about the vax

Feature tile: Elder Don Rowlands, Photo: Bruce Atkinson, ABC Sunshine Coast. Image source: ABC News.

Time’s over for thinking about the vax

Dr Aleeta Fejo (GP and Larrakia traditional owner) said opening borders would be a concern for the NT. “Our people are already vulnerable because we are a long way away from the hospital, because we don’t have a lot of staff at our clinics or the resources needed to look after everybody, because many of us are sick, and because we live in overcrowded conditions,” she told ABC Radio Darwin’s Late Breakfast. “It’s very concerning. “The time for thinking about it is over. The time for action is now.”

To listen to Dr Fejo’s interview click here.

Dr Aleeta Fejo

Larrakia traditional owner, elder and general practitioner Aleeta Fejo.

Minister issues warning to unvaccinated

As the NT government struggles to increase vaccination rates in Indigenous communities, Health Minister Natasha Fyles has issued a stern warning to those who refuse to be jabbed. “A large outbreak in an unvaccinated community would be devastating,” she said. “Let’s be frank about that. People will tragically pass away.”

Ms Fyles said people who refused to be vaccinated could potentially add pressure to the NT’s health care system. According to the NT Department of Health website, the Alice Springs Health Service catchment area covers approximately 42,000 people and covers a distance of more than 1 million square kms — extending into the bordering areas of SA and WA.

Ms Fyles said the Alice Springs Hospital had only 10 intensive care beds. “The more people that are vaccinated, the less impact on our hospital system,” Ms Fyles said.

To view the story in full click here.

NT Health Minister Natasha Fyles getting covid-19 vax

NT Health Minister Natasha Fyles. Image source: NT News.

Need to see my own mob getting vax

Noongar woman Charmaine Councillor, from Bunbury in WA, is fully vaccinated but understands why almost 80% of her community is not. “We don’t actually see it on television. We always see other communities from other places (getting vaccinated); we don’t know these people,” she said.

“But [it would help] if we could see our own local people … maybe nurses that are Aboriginal, that we do know of, or health workers that are actually delivering the vaccine and people that are actually saying ‘yes, I’ve had my vaccine’.”

To read the article in full click here.

Aboriginal woman receiving covid-19 vax

Photo: Samantha Jonscher, ABC Alice Springs. Image source: ABC News.

ANAO immunisation coverage audit

The audit objective was to assess the effectiveness of the Department of Health’s approach to improving and monitoring immunisation coverage. The DoH’s approach has been largely effectice, as reported immunisation rates have been improving.

You can view the report in full here and access the ANAO website here.

baby in mother's arms getting a vaccination in thigh

Image source: Australian Childcare Alliance NSW.

Bidgerdii runs SEWB Program

The Bidgerdii Community Health Service run a nationally funded Social and Emotional Well Being (SEWB) Program providing generalist counselling services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who are experiencing issues and concerns that affect their everyday emotional wellbeing.

The SEWB Program undertakes individual supported case management to empower clients to feel healthier through counselling therapies that relate to specific cultural healing practices, as well as facilitating the Bringing Them Home (BTH) component of the SEWB Program. The program also conducts specific counselling to members of the Stolen Generation and their families to ensure that individuals who access BTH counselling services have access to family tracing and supported referral options to other agencies working in the area of BTH, such as Queensland Link-Up services.

The SEWB Program covers the Rockhampton region of Queensland, including (Capricorn Coast, Blackwater, Central Highlands, Mount Morgan and Woorabinda.

For further information about the program click here.

$55m Amazon Web Services grants

Amazon Web Services (AWS) wants to make telehealth and telemedicine available to remote and marginalised communities around the world through a $55m grants program.

Director of Australia, NZ and Oceania, public sector for AWS Iain Rouse is encouraging Australian organisations to apply. That includes Indigenous health providers and providers of services to the disability community who may struggle with funding. “We would like to see grant applications from non-profits, start-ups, research institutions, universities and public companies.”

For further information visit the AWS website here.

vector images of computer screen, doctor & patient talking, background computer data, blue, white

Image source: AWS website.

OOHC service transferred to ACCO

One of Australia’s largest providers of out-of-home care (OOHC) will transfer services for Indigenous children to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community controlled services. Life Without Barriers (LWB) currently delivers services to around 25,000 people per year across 400 communities and is partnering with the Secretariat of National Aboriginal and Islander Child Care (SNAICC) to guide the transition.

LWB CEO Claire Robbs said though the organisation provided cultural support for Indigenous families, there was no substitute for the children being in the care of community. “We have been providing services to children and families in OOHC for decades now and we absolutely believe that if we are to be an organisation that really acts on our commitment to Reconciliation, this is a very critical step we must take,” she said.

Ms Robbs continued, “The ongoing intergenerational impact of children and families being separated is well documented and distressing. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and community have clearly stated how important it is for children to grow up connected to culture and in community and we simply must heed this call.”

To read the article in full click here.

bright Aboriginal painting of man, girl & boy

Image source: AbSec website.

New process for job advertising

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

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

Cairns COVID-19 pop-up clinic TOMORROW 

A COVID-19 vaccination walk-in clinic will be held tomorrow 2-6PM Saturday 2 October 2021 at Barlow Park, Cairns. You can access these promotional materials poster, banner and a square tile for the event.

banner text 'COVID-19 vax pop-up clinic walk-in Cairns Barlow Park Sat 2 Oct 2-6pm'

Electronic Prescriptions for Consumers Q+A Session

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

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

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

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

Event title: Your questions answered: Electronic Prescriptions for Consumers

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

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

hand holding iPhone with electronic script on screen

Image source: Victoria Harbour Medical Centre.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Images of Maningrida COVID-19 vaccination campaign.

ACCHO to open new Gympie AMS

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

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

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

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

To view the story in full click here.

NCACCH building being fitted out for new Gympie AMS

Image source: NCACCH website.

First Nations CVD rate is twice as bad

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

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

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

To view the article in full click here.

Aboriginal man's hands gripping chest - heart

Image source: The Medical Journal of Australia.

SA’s ‘silent’ health epidemic

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

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

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

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

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

To read the article in full click here.

person's hands drawing insulin shot

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

Rap message about the vax

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

Smoker rates surge during pandemic

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

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

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

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

To view the article in full click here.

pack of cigarettes, no brand

Image source: SBS News website.

AMA wants easier rural GP hospital access

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

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

To view the AMA’s media release click here.

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

Image source: Healthcare IT.

Stronger patient medicine involvement

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

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

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

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

multiple tablet foil blister packs

Image source: Healthline website.

New process for job advertising

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

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

COVID-19 vaccine update for GPs webinar

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

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

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

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

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

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