NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Understanding mob’s vax hesitancy

feature tile text 'understanding covid-19 vaccine hesitancy in Aboriginal communities key to increase vax rates' & pop art image of vax being drawn from vial

PLEASE NOTE: the last date for this publication this year is Friday 15 December 2021 – the publication will start again in the new year from 18 January 2022.

Photograph in feature tile from Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Services, The Guardian.

Understanding mob’s vax hesitancy

Understanding COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy in Aboriginal communities is proving vital in the push to increase vaccination rates. As of 1 December 2021, 57.5% f the Aboriginal population in WA had received a first dose of the COVID-19 vaccination and 39.4% had received both doses. This is compared to 86.7% of the general population across the state having had one COVID-19 jab and 76.4% having also had their second.

Yamatji Noongar woman Sharon Wood-Kenney, who has been part of a team holding information sessions with Indigenous people in Perth about vaccinations, said many of the sessions were spent discussing why people did not want to get vaccinated. “We run our sessions to myth-bust, to talk about what’s going on, to answer questions — I’m finding a lot of people not really sure about what the facts are about COVID,” she said.

Ms Wood-Kenney said coming from a family that was affected by the Stolen Generation, she understood hesitancy about trusting the Government, but stressed the advice and information were coming from health experts With restrictions on the State border set to be removed when 90% of West Australians are vaccinated, community transmission of the virus is inevitable, according to modelling done by the WA Health Department.

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

Cherbourg resident Colin Morgan received his COVID vaccine out the front of his home

Cherbourg resident Colin Morgan received his COVID vaccine out the front of his home. Photo: Georgie Hewson, ABC Southern QLD, Image source : ABC News.

Why you need a vaccine booster

If it’s been six months since you got the second COVID vaccine dose, it’s time to book in for your booster shot. This will provide additional protection against COVID, including the new Omicron variant. While the evidence is still emerging, preliminary data suggests a Pfizer booster might give the same protection against Omicron as double-dose vaccination did for the original strain.

When you get your first dose of COVID vaccine, your body produces an immune response against a part of the virus called the spike protein. If you’re exposed to the SARS-CoV-2 virus, your immune system can recognise and fight the virus quickly. The immune response to a single dose of COVID vaccine is generally short-lived. So a second dose is needed to have a stronger and longer-lasting response. Over time, the amount of antibodies in your body decreases – this is referred to as waning immunity.

If the immune response wanes below the level needed for protection against COVID – the “protective threshold” – your immune system may not be able to prevent infection when exposed to the virus.

To view The Conversation article in full click here.

COVID-19 Dose One vial, Dose Two vial & Booster vial - ticks on first two doses

Image source: NIH Director’s Blog.

Support for First Nations Voice to Parliament

On International Human Rights Day, the Law Council of Australia has restated its unwavering support for a First Nations Voice to Parliament enshrined in the Australian Constitution, as called for in the Uluru Statement from the Heart and the recommendations of the Referendum Council. “Constitutional recognition is vital to protect the rights and aspirations of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples,” Law Council of Australia President, Dr Jacoba Brasch QC said.

A First Nations Voice, constitutionally enshrined, is a manifestation of the right to self-determination, which, at a minimum, entails the entitlement of peoples to have control over their destiny and to be treated respectfully. This includes peoples being free to pursue their economic, social and cultural development.

To view the Law Council of Australia’s media release in full click here.

According to research undertaken by the Australian National University support for legal reform on Indigenous issues is not only high, it’s also durable. Public attitudes have shifted to such an extent in the last 40 years, there is little reason to think a constitutionally enshrined Voice wouldn’t pass a referendum if it was held today.

To view The Conversation article in full click here.

Image source: The Guardian.

Prof Behrendt wins Human Rights Medal

Distinguished Professor Larissa Behrendt AO is a Eualeyai and Kamillaroi woman and the Director of Research at the Jumbunna Institute for Indigenous Education and Research, University of Technology Sydney (UTS). Professor Behrendt holds the UTS inaugural Chair in Indigenous Research. Her contribution to Indigenous education and research has been widely recognised.

In 2009 she was named NAIDOC Person of the Year for her advocacy for the rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. In 2011 she was the NSW State recipient Australian of the Year. This Award noted that Professor Behrendt would “continue to be at the forefront of national discussion for many years”. That prediction has demonstrably come to fruition – whether it be in the fields of Indigenous justice and the law, advocacy, or the visual and performing arts. Her leadership and work have continued to be recognised through many awards. In 2020 Professor Behrendt was awarded Officer of the Order of Australia.

To view the Australian Human Rights Commission media release announcing the three 2021 Human Rights Award winners click here.

Professor Larissa Behrendt

Professor Larissa Behrendt. Image source: Australian of the Year Awards website.

Highest rate of leukaemia virus in world

A new study has found that remote central Australian Aboriginal communities have the highest prevalence of human T-cell leukaemia virus type 1 (HTLV-1) in the world. This devastating virus can cause severe disease, including aggressive adult T-cell lymphoma (ATL), HTLV-1 associated myelopathy, and uveitis, an inflammation of the eyes that can, if left untreated, lead to vision loss.

The study published in the PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases found the prevalence of HTLV-1 in adults in central Australia was 36.8%, the highest reported worldwide. Prevalence increased with age suggesting that sexual contact may be the predominant mode of transmission.

To view the article in full click here.

HTLV-1 cell

Image source: Newsweek.

Type 2 diabetes in Aboriginal girls research

Dr Lisa Nicholas from the Adelaide Medical School has been awarded $150,000 over two years to study why Aboriginal girls are more prone to youth-onset obesity and type 2 diabetes than non-Aboriginal girls. She will examine whether the disparity is exacerbated in children of mothers who developed diabetes during pregnancy.

Knowledge gained from the study will help to identify individuals most at risk of these conditions and provide opportunities for earlier intervention strategies. Dr Nicholas was awarded the funding under the 2021 Women’s Health grant which is a new scheme.

To view the University of Adelaide media release in full click here.

Aboriginal hands blood sugar levels finger prick test

Image source: The The Medical Journal of Australia.

Health journal research assistant opportunity

The University of Melbourne are seeking expressions of interest for a short-term casual Level A (Research Assistant) role to support the establishment of a First Nations health and wellbeing journal. Support would include organising stakeholder meetings, taking meeting minutes, following up on actions, coordinating documentation requirements, assisting with referencing, formatting documents, presentations, tables and charts.  The work could be flexible to fit within existing study or work, with an estimate around 7 to 15 hours a week for 6 to 9 months. 

Professor Catherine Chamberlain, Indigenous Health Equity can be contacted by phone 0428 921 271 or by email using this link for any enquiries.

young Aboriginal woman & grandparents of toddler

Image source: indigenous.gov.au.

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.

International Human Rights Day

International Human Rights Day is observed every year on 10 December — the day the United Nations General Assembly adopted, in 1948, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). The UDHR is a milestone document, which proclaims the inalienable rights that everyone is entitled to as a human being – regardless of race, colour, religion, sex, language, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.

This year’s Human Rights Day theme relates to ‘Equality’ and Article 1 of the UDHR – “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.”

The principles of equality and non-discrimination are at the heart of human rights. Equality is aligned with the 2030 Agenda and with the UN approach set out in the document Shared Framework on Leaving No One Behind: Equality and Non-Discrimination at the Heart of Sustainable Development. This includes addressing and finding solutions for deep-rooted forms of discrimination that have affected the most vulnerable people in societies, including women and girls, Indigenous peoples, people of African descent, LGBTI people, migrants and people with disabilities, among others.

For more information about International Human Rights Day click here.

banner text 'International Human Rights Day 10 December 2021' multiple hands reaching up, different skin tones

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Partnership Agreement on CtG state of play

feature tile text 'partnership agreement on Closing the Gap progress and challenges; & cartoon picture of NACCHO CEO, Ken Wyatt & two others & CoP logo

Partnership Agreement on CtG state of play

The Joint Council on Closing the Gap met today for the seventh time under the historic Partnership Agreement on Closing the Gap where governments are now working together with the Coalition of Peaks to improve outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Progress was welcomed on several high priority actions to advance the four Priority Reforms and socio-economic targets in the National Agreement on Closing the Gap. Areas where the partnership needs strengthening were also acknowledged.

Under Priority Reform Two, the Joint Council agreed in principle two of the Sector Strengthening Plans covering the early childhood care and development sector and the health sector, establishing high level priorities and joint ways of building these key community-controlled sectors nationally.

“I’m pleased to see the first two sector strengthening plans laid out. These plans are an important tool for change and accountability, and the onus is now on every party to turn their commitments into practice. Our community-controlled sector is invaluable to our people: we see real change when Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people deliver services to our communities.” said Patricia Turner AM, Lead Convener of the Coalition of Peaks.

“The Coalition of Peaks are working with governments to ensure they transform how they do business and rise to the challenges set out in the National Agreement. Shared decision making, accountability and transparency are central concerns for us. We also value the independent review of progress to be conducted by the Productivity Commission because there will be things we are doing well, but also areas where we must do better. There will be lessons to learn on how we can work better into the future and invest in those actions which will close gaps faster,” Ms Turner said.

A new target on Community Infrastructure was recommended to First Ministers and the Coalition of Peaks for sign-off and inclusion in the National Agreement on Closing the Gap. This target now includes measures that ensure essential services for remote and discrete Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities will meet or exceed jurisdictional standards. This will not only help with housing standards but deliver significant health outcomes to Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander people.

To view the media release in full click here.

group of Aboriginal people, hands in air & sign Close the Gap

Image source: Their World website.

ACCHO’s telehealth use boosts attendance

When the COVID pandemic struck, the Bendigo District and Aboriginal Co-operative (BDAC) started seeing 90% of its patients via telehealth. BDAC executive director and Dhrug man Dallas Widdicombe said the introduction of telehealth services was behind the rise in people showing up. “We realised we had more people attending their appointments then we’d ever had before,” Mr Widdicombe said.

Clinical practice manager and Arabana woman Jaydene Burzacott confirmed the clinic started seeing a significant number of new patients during the pandemic due to the provision of telehealth, “We were increasing by about six patients a week, including a lot of new people for the first time in a very long time.”

Ms Burzacott says while telehealth helps make a range of health services more accessible for a lot of people, BDAC has seen a surge in people accessing mental health services via telehealth. “Mental health appointments were a really big one,” she said. “I think it really helped people to be able to talk about their mental health over the phone.

To view the ABC News article in full click here.

BDAC CEO Dallas Widdicombe sitting at his desk

BDAC executive director and Dhrug man Dallas Widdicombe said the introduction of telehealth services was behind the rise in people showing up. Photo: Shannon Schubert, ABC Central Victoria. Image source: ABC News.

Sexual health trivia a super success

Last Friday, 3 December 2021, a highly successful virtual sexual health trivia event was held to mark Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander HIV Awareness Week (ATSIHAW).

Associate Professor and Director of Poche Centre for Indigenous Health, University of Queensland James Ward hosted the event together with NACCHO. NACCHO Chair Donnella Mills gave everyone a beautiful welcome while thanking all the health workers for their amazing efforts.

There was a great turn out with 22 teams competing for pride, bragging rights and some nice prizes. After three rounds of trivia questions on HIV, sexual health and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander popular culture, sports and geography, team AHCWALube (AHCWA) took home the first prize of $1,500 closely followed team Us Mob (Us Mob and HIV). Third place went to team GladiAIDors (Miwatj).

The costumes were all amazing and after much deliberation the Chancre Sisters (Congress) took home the prize for Best Dressed. A special shout out also goes to Rachial McCahon (Wirraka Maya) for spending an hour on her Christmas tree hair. Participants were thanked for the amazing work they do and encouraged to take part in next year’s trivia.collage of images from the sexual health virtual trivia afternoon

Government response to food insecurity

The Government has tabled its response to the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Indigenous Affairs’ report into food pricing and food security in remote Indigenous communities. Minister for Indigenous Australians, the Hon Ken Wyatt AM, MP, welcomed the report and thanked the Committee for their work.

“Improving food security and making affordable, fresh and nutritious foods more available in remote Indigenous communities is an important part of improving the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people,” Minister Wyatt said. “This report has affirmed that food security is a long-standing and complex issue in remote and rural communities. It will take a concerted and coordinated effort across jurisdictions and private industry to improve supply chains and storage.”

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

Gina Lyons, Irrunytju WA cooking in an electric frypan

Gina Lyons, Irrunytju WA. Photo by Suzanne Bryce, NPY Women’s Council. Image source: The Australian Prevention Partnership Centre.

New Lowitja Institute Board chair

Lowitja Institute today welcomed health, education and governance leader Mr Selwyn Button, a Gunggari man and former Registrar of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Corporations, as the new chairperson of its Board.

Mr Button succeeds Pat Anderson who retired last week after nearly 20 years in the role. “I am truly humbled to become the new chairperson of the Lowitja Institute,” Mr Button said. “Having served on the board with Pat over the last 8 years, I admire the contributions she has made and will continue to make to the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people across the country.” “She has been an inspiration and hers are significant shoes to fill. I hope to do her proud in continuing her legacy.”

To view the Lowitja Institute’s media release relating to Mr Button’s appointment click here.

new Lowitja Institute Board Chair, Selwyn Button in front of large circular grass wall sculpture

Selwyn Button. Image source: Australian Institute of Company Directors website.

HAPEE free hearing assessments available

Hearing Australia’s Hearing Assessment Program – Early Ears, dubbed, HAPEE, conducts diagnostic hearing assessments to reduce the long term effects of ear disease in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, who have significantly higher rates of hearing loss than non-Indigenous Australian children.

Telehealth appointments are now available to allow parents and carers to access Hearing Australia services and ongoing support from anywhere in Australia. A telehealth appointment is an over the phone conversation where parents and carers can ask questions and an audiologist provides advice and ongoing support.

Parents and carers can choose a telehealth or a face-to-face appointment, depending on which best suits their needs. All HAPEE hearing checks are free* for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander kids aged 0-6 years or not attending full time school. For more information and resources visit Hearing Australia or call 134 432 to book a telehealth appointment.

young Aboriginal boy having hearing test

Image source: Microsoft News Centre.

85,000 NSW adults waiting for dentists

Some 85,000 NSW adults are currently on the public dental waiting list in NSW and it could be two or three years before they see a dentist. Of those, about 30,000 are in rural, remote or regional areas.
Aboriginal man receiving dental treatment

A patient is treated at the Armajun Aboriginal Health Service at Inverell. Photo: Bridget Brennan, ABC News.

Complex PTSD explained

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can arise after exposure to a traumatic event, with symptoms falling into four clusters:

  1. upsetting and intrusive re-experiencing of the trauma (memories and nightmares)
  2. avoiding reminders of a trauma
  3. profound changes to mood and beliefs following the traumatic experience
  4. heightened reactivity to and vigilance for danger.

However, there are a multiple of ways PTSD symptoms can manifest. For some, the highly distressing re-experiencing of trauma memories is most prominent, whereas for others, a persistent hypervigilance for danger and threat may be the most difficult aspect.

Previous efforts to describe a more complex version of PTSD focused on the nature of the traumatic event(s), for instance, that people with CPTSD may have experienced their trauma in childhood. This may lead to a more pervasive set of difficulties in adulthood. Others argues repeated or prolonged exposure to trauma throughout one’s life was the key feature.

To view The Conversation article in full click here.

drawing of head made of barbed wire

Image source: Mood Disorders Clinic.

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: U AND ME CAN STOP HIV

U AND ME CAN STOP HIV

For the second year in a row NACCHO have joined forces with The University of Queensland’s Poche Centre for Indigenous Health to co-host Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander HIV Awareness Week (ATSIHAW) trivia which coincides with World AIDS Day.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples continue to be disproportionately impacted by sexually transmitted diseases and blood borne viruses, including HIV. There is also an ongoing outbreak of infectious syphilis affecting young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. This higher prevalence of other STIs increases the risk of HIV transmission.

Professor James Ward from University of Queensland Poche Centre for Indigenous Health said “ATSIHAW in its eighth year brings together researchers, health workers, policymakers and the community and gets the conversation going in our community about HIV prevention and the importance of regular testing for HIV. ATSIHAW empowers our community to take a stand on HIV Prevention with the ‘U and me can stop HIV’ campaign with 44 community events hosted by Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services during the week of ATSIHAW 2021.”

The theme of World AIDS Day 2021 ‘End inequalities. End AIDS’ focuses on reaching people left behind and drawing attention to the growing inequalities in access to essential HIV services. This message also resonates with the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Sector.

NACCHO Chair Donnella Mills said, “The theme this year for World AIDS Day is very relevant to us considering the disproportionately high rates of sexually transmissible infections (STIs), blood borne viruses (BBVs) and other communicable diseases driven by a legacy of neglect, disjointed public policy, insufficient or poorly distributed resources that fail to reach Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people on the ground, and lack of genuine co-design or culturally appropriate holistic health services.”

“We have demonstrated that a commitment from the Australian Government Department of Health, in partnership with NACCHO, to provide direct funding for Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services (ACCHS) to address the syphilis outbreak has produced some positive outcomes.”

“Over the last five years, the Australian Government’s public health response has built on the strengths of the ACCHS sector. NACCHO, together with members and other partners, has delivered increased rates of testing and treatment for STIs and BBVs. Though this sector-led response has seen some success, more must be done.”

“We thank the Australian Government Department of Health who so far have committed over $30 million over the next 3 years (2021–2024) to support locally developed responses to STI/BBVs.”

“To achieve the goal of eliminating HIV transmission in Australia for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, we need further investment for the scale up of preventative measures, innovative approaches to increase access to culturally safe testing and treatment pathways and improved stigma reduction programs. More must be done to improve the HIV cascade of care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, ensuring access to treatment and supporting people to achieve viral suppression. “U AND ME CAN STOP HIV’, the conversation needs to start now,” said Ms Mills.

Michael Brown, Sexual Health Project Officer, working with the Cherbourg Regional Aboriginal and Islander Community Controlled Health Services (CRAICCHS), 170 km north-west of Brisbane, in Wakka Wakka tribal country first discovered he was HIV-positive, when he lived in Cairns in far north Queensland. He is a firm advocate for My Health Record and is encouraging other HIV-positive people to use their record and take control of their health, knowing their privacy is protected.

Mr Brown said, “It has been 40 years since the first HIV diagnosis, and we as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are still in need of a culturally appropriate support system in the HIV area. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people need to be a priority if we are going to eradicate HIV in Australia.

“We need funding for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander HIV peer support and case management programs post the diagnosis of HIV where there is a lived experience of HIV within Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.”

NACCHO will continue to advocate for ongoing funding and work with our partner organisations including our Affiliates, the Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations (AFAO),  National Association of People Living with HIV Australia (NAPWHA), Australasian Society of HIV, Viral Hepatitis and Sexual Health Medicine (ASHM) to address the disproportionate rates of sexually transmitted diseases and blood borne viruses. This is an important step towards Closing the Gap.

To view the NACCHO Media Statement in full click here.

blood testing for HIV

Image source: SBS NITV website.

Ernie on Country with vax message

The COVID-19 vaccine rollout in the Pilbara is proceeding slowly but a push to translate jab information into Martu and a visit from Ernie Dingo have medical services feeling positive. Among the general population, the Pilbara is the least vaccinated part of WA.

The Pilbara has three Aboriginal medical services, Puntukurnu, Wirrika Maya, and Mawarnkarra, which in March came together to establish the Pilbara Aboriginal Health Alliance (PAHA). The alliance is working together with the Royal Flying Doctor Service and the WA Country Health Service to get jabs into arms, but PAHA CEO Chris Pickett said it was not an easy task. “People need to remember the logistics of making this happen. We’re talking about people in communities hundreds of kilometres from the nearest hospital,” he said.

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

Min Ken Wyatt, 2 other Aboriginal men & Ernie Dingo holding cardboard Vaxx the Outback campaign, NIAA

Photo: Leslie Dingo, Bush TV. Image source: National Indigenous Times.

AMSANT responds to vax misinformation

Claims on social media that the Australian Army had forced Aboriginal people in the remote NT communities at Binjari and Rockhole to have COVID-19 injections have been strongly rejected by Aboriginal leaders and a peak NT health body. The unsubstantiated claims, which were reported globally caused further stress to the community members – according to AMSANT CEO John Patterson.

To listen to John Patterson speak on the topic click here.

black & white portrait of AMSANT CEO John Paterson

AMSANT CEO, John Paterson. Image source: CAAMA Radio Network Australia website.

AOD support missing piece of puzzle

When it comes to addressing the over-representation of Aboriginal people in criminal justice, out-of-home care, family and domestic violence and homelessness, the missing piece of the puzzle is alcohol and other drug support. AOD treatment is chronically underfunded, but for every dollar spent on treatment services, we see a $7 return to the community.

Many of the leading causes of death and harm for Aboriginal people stem from AOD misuse. Similarly, there is a strong association between suicide and harmful AOD use.

AOD use ultimately stems from the violence and trauma enacted on Aboriginal communities since colonisation. A 2013 report from the National Indigenous Drug and Alcohol Committee found services for Aboriginal people should be culturally secure, have strong community engagement, and support Aboriginal control of solutions. There should also be continued support for the capacity building of ACCHOs to provide AOD services at a local level.

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

Daniel Morrison, Wungening Aboriginal Corporation

Daniel Morrison, Wungening Aboriginal Corporation. Image source: National Indigenous Times.

Videos to keep mob strong and deadly

The WellMob website is an online library of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander specific mental health and social and emotional wellbeing resources. These resources include over 250 apps, videos, podcasts, websites and pdfs that provide low intensity mental health interventions and cultural wellbeing content for our diverse communities. The website fills the gap in the online space not serviced by mainstream mental health providers.

The WellMob website team have recently launched a series of short videos to improve awareness about how the WellMob website can keep our diverse mob feeling strong and deadly.

The WellMob: An introduction video describes the WellMob website, a digital library of wellbeing resources made by and for our mob including over 250 apps, podcasts, websites, videos, social media and printable wellbeing materials.

The WellMob: Website tour video shows you how to use the WellMob website. Starting on the landing page, it shows the six main topics and steps through how to find digital wellbeing resources.

The WellMob: Tips for workers video has tips for health workers on how to use digital wellbeing resources found on WellMob.

For further details about the video rollout click here.

Lived experience role in mental health 

The role of lived experience is being embedded within the mental health system and suicide prevention system, with the launch of Australia’s first national guidelines for a lived experience workforce.

The National Mental Health Commission has released the National Lived Experience (Peer) Workforce Development Guidelines, which contains the principles, values and roles of the lived experience workforce, together with detailed steps for employers to help them plan and embed lived experience into their core business. The guidelines are the result of an extensive consultation and co-design process with almost 800 stakeholders.

To view the media release in full click here.

grey silhouette of head, scrunched colourful paper coming out of head

Image source: Pro Bono News Australia website.

Missing, murdered women and kids inquiry

The Australian Senate has voted to hold an inquiry into missing and murdered Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and children. Yamatji Noongar woman and Green Senator for WA Dorinda Cox called for the inquiry in her first speech to the Senate in October this year.

In a statement, the office of Senator Cox said the inquiry will be the first of its kind in Australia and will investigate “the systemic causes of violence including underlying social, economic, cultural, institutional and historical causes contributing to the ongoing violence and particular vulnerabilities of First Nations women and children.”

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

Senator Cox clapping in park with crowd in background

Senator Cox. Image source: National Indigenous Times.

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: World AIDS Day 2021 – Us Mob and HIV

feature tile text 'World AIDS day 2021 - Us Mob & HIV updated booklet and new website' artwork from cover of booklet

Feature tile artwork by Arone Raymond Meeks, cover of Us Mob and HIV 4th Edition 2021.

World AIDS Day 2021 – Us Mob and HIV

To tie in with today’s World AIDS Day and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander HIV Awareness Week (ATSIHAW) 2021 which runs from 29 November to 6 December 2021 Anwernekenhe National HIV Alliance (ANA) and the Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations (AFAO) have launched a short 30-second video to promote their updated Us Mob and HIV booklet and new website. The video will play on TVs in waiting rooms in Aboriginal Medical Services (AMSs) across Australia over ATSIHAW.

My Health Record securely stores HIV status

When Kalkadoon, Barahda Barna and Wangi man Michael Brown first discovered he was HIV-positive, he was living in Cairns in far north Queensland. He initially suffered some judgement in his interaction with health services and as a result, had limited trust in the health system and care he was receiving.

This changed following a positive interaction with pharmacist in Cairns, a doctor who treated him with dignity and a leap into digital health. Michael is now a firm advocate for My Health Record and is encouraging other HIV-positive people to use their record and take control of their health, knowing their privacy is protected.

Michael, who now works as a sexual health project officer in the Cherbourg Aboriginal community, said while “Indigenous people are 2.6 times at higher risk of acquiring HIV than any other demographic in Australia, HIV doesn’t have to be a death sentence. People need to know to come and get tested. They need to know they are at risk. I didn’t realise I was at risk. When I started doing my study in Indigenous primary health care, there was no sexual health studies.”

You can listen to Michael Brown’s story below and read the Australian Digital Health Agency’s media release in full click here.

World AIDS Day Parliamentary Breakfast

The Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations (AFAO), the national federation for the community response to HIV in Australia, has thanked those who attended the World AIDS Day Parliamentary Breakfast earlier today. You can view a recording of the event below.

AFAO welcomed several announcements from the Minister for Health, the Hon Greg Hunt during the event, including a $39 million investment to provide HIV treatment for people ineligible for Medicare, $11m for the continued work of peak HIV organisations and reconfirmation of the Government’s commitment to Agenda 2025, a plan developed to end HIV transmission by mid-decade.

You can see the latest HIV data in the AFAO’s HIV in Australia 2022 infographic publication here, access the World AIDS Day Booklet here and read AFAO and National Association of People with HIV Australia (NAPWHA) joint media release here.

banner text 'world AIDS day' red, white, black

AMSANT urges Omicron caution

The Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance Northern Territory (AMSANT) says that should be paused to protect the territory’s vulnerable Aboriginal population now Omicron has arrived. “The NT should be cautious until we know more about this new variant,” CEO John Paterson said yesterday.

You can read why the World Health Organisation has declared Omicron a variant of concern here and view the Port Macquarie News article about AMSANT urging caution here.

Howard Springs NT quarantine, 2 staff in PPE

Howard Springs, NT quarantine. Image source: SBS News.

NCSP Guidelines feedback reminder

Cancer Council Australia has been contracted by the Australian Department of Health to perform an update to the The National Cervical Screening Program: Guidelines for the management of screen-detected abnormalities, screening in specific populations and investigation of abnormal vaginal bleeding to support the planned policy change to provide universal access to self-collection.

The updates are now open for public consultation. The updates to the affected chapters have been compiled into a single word document for you to consider. To facilitate your review, changes are marked in colour; the majority of the text in chapters (in black) has not changed.

If you wish to submit feedback you can do this in one of two ways;

  1. Insert comments directly into the word document
  2. Alternatively, you can submit feedback simply in the body of an email, replying to this email or direct to Laura Sergeant here.

The deadline for response is 5:00 PM Sunday 5 December 2021.

To view the media release relating to this request for feedback click here.

three women's underpants hanging on a clothesline

Image source: Victorian State Government My Options website.

Cannington headspace opens its doors

headspace Cannington has recently opened its doors to provide young people, their families and friends access to youth friendly support for their mental health and other wellbeing challenges. Arche Health, who have been engaged to establish and run headspace Cannington, have worked closely with local service providers and the community to ensure the centre complements the existing strong local investment in youth support services in the area.

Arche Health CEO, Sujeewe Gamagedera said “headspace Cannington listens to young people’s views on the type of services offered and adapt services where necessary to achieve better outcomes. We will also be encouraging the involvement of family and friends in any recovery process, recognising the immense benefit this support creates.”

To view the media release in full click here.

external image of headspace cannington building, green grey

Better cardiac care measures for mob

The sixth national report on the 21 Better Cardiac Care measures for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, has been released with updated data available for 14 measures. The level of access for cardiac-related health services is improving for Indigenous Australians and mortality rate from cardiac conditions is falling although it is still higher than among non-Indigenous Australians.

To view the report click here.

health care worker showing patient model of heart

Image source: Heart Foundation.

Employment, housing prevent recidivism

New research has shown that employment and housing for those leaving prison are key to preventing recidivism and a subsequent return to detention. The research, which focused on former detainees in the ACT, highlighted the importance of reducing barriers to employment for people leaving prison, so that they are better equipped to begin life after detention and stay out of the justice system.

ACTCOSS CEO, Dr Emma Campbell said: “The ACT has one of the highest rates of re-imprisonment in the country. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the ACT experience re-imprisonment at the rate of 94% – the highest rate of any jurisdiction. “The ACT Government has committed to a program of justice reinvestment. However, too many detainees are being released from the ACT’s prison without adequate support and into homelessness, unemployment and economic uncertainty,” said Dr Campbell.

To view the ACTCOSS media release in full click here.

Aboriginal hands on jail bars, overlaid with transparent Aboriginal flag

Image source: Amnesty International.

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.

International Day of People with Disability

International Day of People with Disability (IDPwD) is a United Nations observed day that occurs annually on 3 December. The day celebrates and recognises the achievements, contributions and abilities of people with disability as well as aiming to increase public awareness, understanding and acceptance of people with disability and promote inclusion.

The Australian Government has been supporting IDPwD since 1996 and provides funds to promote and raise awareness of the day and support activities around Australia. To find out more about IDPwD and how you can get involved and help break down barriers (both structural and attitudinal) for people with disability click on the IDPwD website here.banner text '3 December - International Day of People with Disability' vector logo of navy person & blue, orange, green swirls either side

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: New campaign raising awareness of FASD

New National Awareness Campaign on the risks of drinking alcohol during pregnancy launched

Almost one in three Australians aren’t aware that drinking alcohol during pregnancy can cause Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD). Nearly one in four aren’t aware alcohol should be avoided altogether during pregnancy.*

Every Moment Matters, a new national awareness campaign developed by the Foundation of Alcohol Research and Education (FARE), supports and empowers Australians to go alcoholfree through all the moments of pregnancy, right from the moment they start trying.

Endorsed and funded by the Australian Government Department of Health, this campaign provides clear and consistent messages about alcohol, pregnancy and breastfeeding.

“FASD is a whole of community issue. NACCHO is supporting ACCHOs across rural and remote Australia, to support mums, their families, their communities, their health practitioners and health services, to bring everyone together to help prevent and better understand the issues that contribute to FASD,” said NACCHO CEO Pat Turner.

“This project is about raising awareness and understanding of FASD and reducing stigma through: Providing culturally appropriate health information, training our Aboriginal healthcare workers and by bringing our communities together to create safe places for yarning about the impacts of alcohol on pregnancy.”

“Growing strong healthy mums and bubs leads to healthy communities. This project is about bringing our communities together to deal with FASD.”

“50% of pregnancies in Australia are unplanned. Being around alcohol during pregnancy can lead to lifelong problems. This campaign will spread awareness in our rural and remote communities that no amount of alcohol is safe to drink during pregnancy,” she said.

“FASD has lifelong impacts. Our communities need to understand the risks of drinking alcohol in pregnancy, and where to go for support, so they can make good choices and ask for help if they need it. Health professionals need to support families to have access to the correct information about the risks of drinking alcohol in pregnancy so they can make informed decisions and ask for help if they need it.”

“In Australia, it is still widely accepted that ‘a few’ drinks while pregnant is ok. However, the latest research demonstrates that there is no safe amount of alcohol to drink whilst pregnant. This campaign will help us safely and respectfully communicate to our communities, and their health professionals, what can happen, and where to get support if they need it,” said Turner.

View the FARE media release.
View the Australian Government Department of Health media release.
Download the Stakeholder Toolkit for the campaign to share the campaign materials in your communications
View and share the Women Want to Know resources here
View the Key Findings of the alcohol and pregnancy research conducted by Kantar Public on behalf of FARE.
You can learn more about the campaign on the Every Moment Matters website.

* Polling Snapshot by FARE on Alcohol use, pregnancy and Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder.

Here is one of the available assets for social media as part of the Stakeholder Toolkit for the campaign. 

Watch the below video, developed by FARE, to see how Every Moment Matters when it comes to pregnancy and alcohol.
Please share the video on Facebook or Twitter.

 

ACCHOs key to effective vaccine rollout

Larissa Behrendt spoke with NACCHO CEO and Lead Convener of the Coalition of Peaks Pat Turner AM on Sunday 28 November 2021 on ‘Speaking Out’ on ABC Radio.

Ms Behrendt asked Ms Turner what her thoughts are on the effectiveness of the vaccination rollout for First Nations communities.

“I think overall our community controlled sector has done pretty well. Supply is not an issue. Supply has been available on request, so if any ACCHOs advise us of any quantity and other supports around administering the vaccines, we have supported them to the fullest extent possible,” said Ms Turner.

She said she’s not as confident about the rollout in the areas that are run by state government clinics and that they haven’t done a swell and need to pick up their game.

“As you said, where the response to COVID has been most effective is when it is community controlled. What sort of difference is the community controlled sector making?” asked Ms Behrendt.

“What the Aboriginal community controlled health services are good at is establishing a good relationship with the client population and people who use our health services. Cultural respect and cultural safety are key elements of our service provision in the comprehensive primary healthcare model that we deliver in the main. I think that people have really understood that and accepted that, so there’s a lot more trust between us and the patients that we have, and that’s all going well for us to get through to our people on the importance of looking after themselves during COVID and getting the vaccination,” said Ms Turner.

You can listen to the interview on ABC Radio here.

elder without shirt outdoor setting receiving covid-19 vaccine from KAMS worker

Photo: Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Services. Image source: The Guardian.

Vigorous booster roll out and quarantine facilities needed

The emergence of the Omicron COVID-19 variant underlines the need for Australia to develop a network of dedicated quarantine facilities and to pursue the roll out of booster shots more vigorously, the AMA said today.

With public health measures easing around the country and hotel quarantine starting to be dismantled, the AMA warned Omicron and the resurgence of COVID-19 in many parts of globe is a timely reminder that the pandemic is not over.

“The emergence of Omicron in Africa should come as no surprise, given the very low levels of vaccination in many African nations, providing the ideal environment for COVID-19 to mutate and spread to other nations,” AMA President Dr Omar Khorshid said.

“Effective dedicated quarantine arrangements are a necessary tool in our efforts to combat the inevitable emergence of COVID-19 variants and to protect the community. While work on quarantine facilities has commenced in some states and territories, we are yet to see a nationally coordinated approach, which could provide Australia with a national asset of dedicated Commonwealth quarantine facilities.”

“National Cabinet also needs to approach the roll out of booster doses with far more vigour,” Dr Khorshid said.

You can read the AMA media release here.

Single coronavirus cell with DNA strands and white blood cells. Image source: wfla.com.

Single coronavirus cell with DNA strands and white blood cells. Image source: wfla.com.

Keeping people with dementia connected to Country

A decline in verbal skills is a source of grief for any person living with dementia. For First Nations peoples, the loss of speech brings the added pain of lost connection to Country, community, family and culture, which are so central to their health and well-being.

Dementia is a serious emerging health issue for Indigenous people, who experience the disease at a rate between three to five times that of the general population, with onset at an earlier age.

Dementia Support Australia, funded by the Australian government, has produced a set of picture cards designed to support First Nations older people and people with dementia. Co-designing the cards involved listening to and learning what First Nations people needed.

The inability for a person with dementia to communicate what they want or need can be frustrating for both them and care staff. For an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander person with dementia, the communication barrier with those providing care can be greater due to language and cultural differences.

You can read the article in The Conversation here.
Communication resources for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living with dementia can be downloaded here.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communication cards

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communication cards co-designed with First Nations representatives including artist Samantha Campbell.

Improving community health outcomes for Elders

An article published online in the Australian Health Review 23 November 2021 examines how Elders consider the Closing the Gap programs for improving community health outcomes.

A participatory action research project was undertaken in collaboration with eight Elders from a remote Aboriginal community in Tasmania. The findings emerged from thematic analysis of individual interviews and yarning circles.

The Closing the Gap programs were seen by Elders as having instrumental value for addressing Aboriginal community disadvantage. However, the programs also represented a source of ongoing dependency that threatened to undermine the community’s autonomy, self-determination and cultural foundations. The findings emerged to represent Elders attempting to reconcile this tension by embedding the programs with cultural values or promoting culture separately from the programs. Ultimately, the Elders saw culture as the core business of community well-being and effective program delivery.

The findings are reflective of tensions that arise when neoliberal policies are imposed on Aboriginal ways of knowing, being and doing. The Elders premised cultural well-being as the key determinant of Aboriginal community health.

You can read the article in the Australian Health Review here.

Elder walking with child.

Closing the Gap in Aboriginal health disparities: is there a place for Elders in the neoliberal agenda? Image source: NITV.

Employment and housing key to reduce re-imprisonment

New research has shown that employment and housing for those leaving prison are key to preventing recidivism and a subsequent return to detention. The research, which focused on former detainees in the ACT, highlighted the importance of reducing barriers to employment for people leaving prison, so that they are better equipped to begin life after detention and stay out of the justice system.

ACTCOSS CEO, Dr Emma Campbell said: “The ACT has one of the highest rates of re-imprisonment in the country. Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people in the ACT experience re-imprisonment at the rate of 94% – the highest rate of any jurisdiction.

The research notes that a lack of access to safe and affordable housing is one of the barriers to obtaining employment post-release.

“ACTCOSS has joined with Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health and Community Services and other Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander organisations in calling on the ACT Government to initiate a Royal Commission or similar commission of inquiry into the overrepresentation of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people in the ACT’s justice system,” said Dr Campbell.

You can read the article in The National Tribune here.

silhouette of person in jail, sitting with head in hands

Image source: The Conversation website.

Only four days until ATSIHAW Trivia

It’s not too late for Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services staff to join the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander HIV Awareness Week Virtual Trivia.

Friday December 3, 2021
4pm AEDT, 3.30pm ACDT, 3pm AEST, 2.30pm ACST, 1pm AWST

Amazing prizes up for grabs including a set of Bose Wireless Noise Cancelling Over-Ear Headphones 700, clothing, apparel and accessories from organisations that are 100% Indigenous owned, giant microbes and other sexual health resources for your clinic.

Register your team here.
Registrations close COB Thursday 2 December 2021.

Game on!

#atsihaw2021 #TriviaTime #hivawareness #hivawarenessandprevention

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: ADF, NT Chief slam dangerous vax lies

feature tile text 'NT Chief Minister and ADF slam dangerous vax lies' & image of vax vials & dice with letters f, a, c, t, k, e

Image in feature tile from The Conversation, Photo: Alexander Limbach, Shutterstock.

ADF, NT Chief slam dangerous vax lies

In a press conference yesterday, Thursday 25 November 2021, NT Chief Minister Michael Gunner blasted COVID conspiracy theorists, saying he wanted to address “the huge amount of misinformation being spread online over the past few days. There are ridiculous, untrue rumours about the ADF’s involvement. As we all know, they aren’t carrying weapons — they are carrying fresh food for people.” He urged people not to worry about the dangerous lies spreading online.

You can access the ABC News article in full here and view the Chief Minister’s press conference below – his comments mentioned above can be found from 3 min 46 sec to 7 min 13 sec.

The Australian Defence Force has also rejected as lies “wild” social media claims that it’s forcibly vaccinating Indigenous Northern Territorians against COVID-19. The misinformation has been shared and reposted to multiple platforms and there are fears it could threaten efforts to contain an outbreak.

“Defence is aware of social media posts claiming the Australian Defence Force is forcibly vaccinating or detaining members of the Australian community,” a spokesman said in a statement. “These claims are emphatically false.”

To read the Canberra Times article in full click here.

NACCHO CEO, Pat Turner has commended the ADF for calling out the outrageous claims by people who are making the wild accusations without being privy to the facts. She said people need to stop confusing our people with all the misinformation on social media and talk to the health staff instead and look at credible sites for good advice.

AMSANT and Amnesty International Australia have also released a joint media release regarding ADF involvement in Katherine, NT which can be viewed here.

CEO protecting mob one vial at a time

A Queensland CEO armed with a syringe, is fighting to have Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples protected against COVID-19, personally administering the vaccine, one vial at a time. Gidgee Healing CEO Renee Blackman, a proud Gubbi Gubbi woman and registered nurse, has remained hands-on in her quest to have all her people from Mt Isa, the North West and Lower Gulf regions of the State fully vaccinated.

Renee is part of an entire First Nation contingent of doctors, nurses and Aboriginal health practitioners injecting vaccines, imparting a greater understanding of the virus, while also allaying personal fears around getting the jab. That process will again be on show in Mt Isa TONIGHT as Gidgee Healing hosts it’s Deadly Night Out push for vaccinations among Australia’s First Nations populations.

When: from 4:00 PM Friday, 26 November 2021

Where: Buchanan Park: Cnr Sutton and George Street, Mount Isa

Who: Gidgee Healing CEO Renee Blackman, Current and former Broncos players Jordan Rikki, Ezra Mam, Xavier Willison, Ethan Quai-Ward and Lote Tuqiri; Deadly Choices Ambassadors Steve Renouf and Tallisha Harden

To view the media release about this event in full click here.

Gidgee Healing Mt Isa CEO Renee Blackman

Mob hit back at vax misinformation

They rejected claims made on social media that members of Binjari community were being forcibly removed by ADF personnel or otherwise mistreated by authorities. “We have been treated with a lot of respect and appreciate all the support being given by these support personnel people,” the statement reads. “We are in lockdown because we’re in the biggest fight of our lives. We’re trying to keep safe. We’re trying to do the right thing by the community and Katherine.”

To view the full story in the Katherine Times click here.

COVID-19 Binjari roadblock in Katherine, NT

The COVID-19 Binjari roadblock in Katherine, NT on 23 November 2021. Photo: AAP. Image source: SBS NITV website.

Closing culture gaps to help sick kids

A new Curtin University study has found that there is an urgent need to develop and implement strategies to empower Aboriginal families to identify deteriorating health in their child and alert clinicians. The research, published in Pediatric Nursing, explored the perspective of family members of Aboriginal children to see if they could recognise, and respond to, health deterioration in a hospital setting.

Lead researcher, Associate Professor Fenella Gill from Curtin’s School of Nursing, said it was hoped the study results would lead to the development of a culturally secure escalation system. “Previous research has indicated that there are higher rates of hospital mortality for Aboriginal children, including due to failures in escalation of care, therefore it is vital to address these barriers,” Associate Professor Gill said.

To view the article in full click here.

Aboriginal mum holding toddler

Image source: Curtin University.

Crucial tool to eliminate Chronic Hepatitis B

An educational app designed to improve health literacy around the hepatitis B virus (HBV) has been translated to provide more than 70% of the NT Aboriginal population access in their first language. The Hep B Story App, a crucial tool in the work to eliminate Chronic Hepatitis B (CHB), a disease endemic in Aboriginal communities in the NT, was launched yesterday, Thursday 25 November 2021.

The NT has an estimated CHB prevalence of three to 12%, meaning the NT has the highest CHB prevalence in Australia at 1.77%. Of those living with CHB, 25% will die from decompensated cirrhosis (liver failure) or hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC – liver cancer). Liver cancer is the fastest growing cause of cancer death in Australia and liver disease is the third most important contributor to the gap in life expectancy between First Nations and non-Indigenous Australians.

To view the media release regarding the launch in full click here.

The Hep B Story app is free to download from the Apple and Google Play stores and the Menzies website here.

Cultural competence resources

The University of Sydney’s National Centre for Cultural Competence has produced a selection of articles and book chapters that continue to inform and shape the discourse of cultural competence nationally and internationally. This curated group of resources will be updated as new ideas and publications are encountered.

To access the resources click here.

Image source: The University of Sydney.

National Nurse Practitioner Plan

A new 10-year strategic plan is being developed to help Australia’s highly skilled and respected nurse practitioners, by enhancing the way they work as they deliver essential health care for Australians .

Registered with the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia, Nurse Practitioners are focused on improving access to treatment, and dedicated to improving access to treatment, and improving health outcomes of all Australians, particularly at risk populations, including aged care residents, Indigenous Australians and those living in regional, rural and remote areas.

As part of the strategic plan, the Government is commencing consultations for the plan, which aims to address workforce issues and enhance the delivery of patient care. Minister for Health and Aged Care, Greg Hunt, said “This is the first opportunity for the community, health providers, clinicians, and experts to make a contribution to this new plan, which will be delivered by the middle of next year.”

To view Minister Hunt’s media release in full click here.

Aboriginal health worker taken child's blood pressure

Image source: Department of Health website.

Suicide prevention grants double

Suicide prevention grants to organisations across the country are being increased to help reduce Australia’s suicide rate towards zero. Through the National Suicide Prevention Leadership and Support Program Grant Opportunity, $114 million will be available for national projects that will raise awareness of the impact of suicide and support Australians who are at risk.

Specific vulnerable groups – including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, veterans, men, regional communities, and culturally and linguistically diverse communities – have been identified as the primary focus of the Grant Opportunity as these groups have higher rates of suicide than the general population. Minister for Health and Aged Care, Greg Hunt, said suicide is a national tragedy, with 3,139 Australians taking their lives in 2020.

To view the full media release click here,

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: Uncle Jack Charles tells mob to get the vax

Image in feature tile: Uncle Jack Charles at Victoria Aboriginal Health Service in Fitzroy Melbourne. Photo: Darrian Traynor. Image source: The Age.

Uncle Jack Charles tells mob to get the vax

The Victorian Government, in partnership with the Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation, has launched a new campaign to help further boost vaccination rates among Victoria’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

Renowned actor and advocate Uncle Jack Charles will front the campaign, which will run for three weeks across social media, NITV and radio.

The new content forms part of an expansion of the ongoing Community, Unity, Immunity campaigna community-led initiative developed by the Department of Health in partnership with VACCHO to help encourage vaccinations and provide information on keeping community safe.

To view the full media release click here.

filling syringe from vial

Image source: The Canberra Times.

Health Minister on NT COVID-19 outbreak

Yesterday, Monday 22 November 2021, Minister Hunt spoke with Katie Woolf from MIX 104.9 Darwin, on Outbreak in the COVID-19 NT.

Ms Woolf said to Minister Hunt “the situation that we’re experiencing in the Northern Territory is one which we’d all hoped wouldn’t happen, COVID in a remote Indigenous community. What support is the Federal Government going to provide at this point?”

In reply Minister Hunt said: So across the Territory, we now have 105 defence personnel who are supporting COVID-19 efforts. That’s 40 in Howard Springs and Bladin Village. And then we’ve now deployed at 40 personnel and vehicles to support NT Health in the Katherine area and that’s- in particular with food and other critical supplies, and another 25 people with vehicles to support transport for isolated personnel from regional communities in and around Katherine with testing and other health issues.

And if more is needed, more will be required. We’re also providing PPE, assisting in the vaccination program. And I have to say, the NT vaccination rate is, is, and has been growing for some weeks now, at the fastest rate in the nation. So it’s now 86% all up, 73.3% second dose. And importantly, the Indigenous rate has increased quite significantly to 76.1%. We want that to go higher, but we’ll continue to work with the NT Government and communities and ACCHOs.

To view the transcript of the interview in full click here.

Vaccination rates in remote Aboriginal communities lag behind the NT capital. Photo: Hamish Harty, ABC News.

Disability Gateway Stakeholder Kit

Australians living with disability, their families and carers have identified accessing information about policies, programs and support as a key barrier to their independence and community participation. The Department of Social Services (DSS) has developed a way to improve access to this information by creating the Disability Gateway.

The Disability Gateway includes a website, a dedicated phone line (1800 643 787) and social media channels, to assist people with disability, their families and carers, to find and access trusted information and services.
The Disability Gateway is for all Australians with disability, regardless of whether they are a National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) participant or not.

A range of resources are available to download from the Disability Gateway website here.

Specialist resources are also available for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and culturally and linguistically diverse communities.

Factsheet available for download

Poster available for download

Access an updated accessible Communication Toolkit including Alt Text descriptions of the images here.

Dementia and changed behaviours

Over the past 12 months, the NPS MedicineWise Dementia and changed behaviours: a person-centred approach program has focused on reducing unnecessary use of antipsychotics and benzodiazepines, as well as improving use of non-pharmacological techniques in supporting people living with dementia. NPS MedicineWise have advised that:

  • As well as our delivering educational visits to GPs in general practice, our educational visitors have visited over 1,000 aged care facilities to provide training to nurses and pharmacists. The workbook and videos to help support this component of the program are available on our website.
  • Following the positive feedback on our webinar focusing on the practical aspect of working as a multidisciplinary team, we also produced a video featuring Theresa Flavin, who is living with dementia. In this short and moving video, Theresa provides a unique insight into what it is like to live with dementia and her experience being prescribed a psychotropic medicine.
  • We also have a range of clinical resources and tools available to support healthcare professionals manage this complex condition. These include a behaviour diary, a tool to facilitate tapering antipsychotic medicines, information on implementing non-pharmacological strategies, and a stepwise approach to managing changed behaviour.
Winnie Coppin holding play list

Winnie Coppin listens to music to trigger her memory when she feels confused. Photo: Erin Parke, ABC Kimberley.

Record spend on NSW Indigenous programs

A record $1.1 billion is being invested in Indigenous programs, services and initiatives this financial year, with NSW today becoming the first state to publish its own Interim Indigenous Expenditure Report (IER). The Interim IER maps and tracks the State’s current financial commitment to Indigenous-specific programs and services across government. It will inform future policy decisions and the allocation of funds.

Treasurer Matt Kean said spending on Indigenous initiatives is up 18.9% on the previous financial year, with the NSW Government focused on delivering improved programs and services for First Nations people. “I know we’ve still got a long way to go to close the gap, but the NSW Government is proud to be working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to create better outcomes for communities right across the state,” Mr Kean said.

To view the NSW Treasurer Matt Kean’s media release in full click here.

Image source: visitnsw.com.

Decolonisation in the workplace

A recent article wriiten for IndigenousX begins with a statement from Professor Gregory Phillips, CEO of ABSTARR Consulting: “Black Lives Matter, the impacts of coronavirus and the rise in bushfires and floods are the natural consequence of colonisation… systems set up to privilege white men’s property rights over all others has given rise to a gross imbalance in distribution and sustainability of the globe’s resources – human, cultural, economic, social and natural.

As such the calls for decolonisation have become louder and more unified. Indigenous peoples are leading the calls, but many in ‘mainstream’ sectors are starting to see the wisdom and criticality of Indigenous knowledges to contemporary wicked problems.’–

To view the full article in IndigenousX click here.

vector of orange head, with white oval for the brain & text 'Decolonisation'

Image source: IndigenousX.

Winnunga News October 2021 edition

The first item in the Winnunga News October 2021 is a CEO Update. Julie Tongs says she is extremely pleased with the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander members of the local community who have received their COVID-19 vaccine, and she continues to encourage those yet to be vaccinated to arrange to have the vaccination.

More broadly, Julie Tongs says that the disparity in the numbers of Aboriginal people not yet vaccinated together with the significant over-representation of Aboriginal people in the ACT who have tested positive to COVID-19 is anything other than yet another stark illustration of the depth and extent of the disadvantage which Aboriginal people living in Canberra endure.

You can access the Winnunga News October 2021 edition here.

 

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.

Towards hepatitis C elimination webinar

A webinar to showcase efforts towards hepatitis C elimination in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people will be held from 12:00 PM (AEST) Wednesday 24 November 2021.

The Chairs for the webinar, Troy Combo and Professor Margaret Hellard AM will be joined by guest speakers: Professor Greg Dore (Kirby Institute), Phoebe Schroder and Adam Howie (ASHM), Janet Stajic (IUIH), Esha Lay (QuIHN), Erin Flynn (SCALE – C) and Scott Monaghan (Bulgarr Ngaru MAC).

To more information about the webinar and to register click here.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Protecting remote NT communities

Image in feature tile:  remote NT community of Ali Curung. Photo: James Dunlevie, ABC News.

Protecting remote NT communities

The Australian Government has implemented additional measures to protect remote communities during the current COVID-19 outbreak in the NT.

As Minister for Health and Aged Care, I have made a determination under section 477 of the Commonwealth Biosecurity Act 2015 to prevent a person from entering and/or exiting the Robinson River and surrounding homelands, which is aimed at stopping any further spread of COVID-19 in the community.

These measures are based on the medical advice from the acting Chief Medical Officer, Dr Sonya Bennett. The implementation of these measures will help to contain the current outbreak by ensuring that a person will only enter and/or leave the area if necessary, and for essential purposes.

These measures will help to prevent and contain the current COVID-19 outbreak in the Robinson River, and will assist in preventing the emergence, establishment and spread of the disease to neighbouring remote communities in the Northern Territory.

The Determination was requested by the Northern Territory Government to supplement restrictions they have also implemented and is supported by the Northern Land Council and the Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance of the Northern Territory (AMSANT).

The implementation of these measure follows extensive engagement with the Northern Territory Government and consultation with and support from Federal MPs and representatives of the affected communities.

To view Minister Hunts media release in full click here.

As at the end of October 2021 Areyonga residents were 80% double vaccinated. Photo: Steven Schubert, Alice Springs ABC.

Better safe than sorry – for all of us!

AMSANT has called for Territory-wide caution in light of its first Aboriginal COVID-19 cases, including the first on a very remote community. AMSANT CEO John Paterson said “this is potentially our Wilcannia moment—this is our call for maximum vigilance at a clinical and political level—but more importantly a call for maximum care and love for our families and friends.”

“What we need now is for all of us in remote communities, as well as our larger towns and cities, to refocus on the simple issues we have emphasised from the first,” said Mr Paterson. “Stay at home, care for your families, protect your communities. Call the clinic if you are experiencing any health difficulties.

“This applies wherever you are in the Territory, not just Katherine and Robinson River. And do the right thing: get vaccinated as a matter of urgency to protect our Elders and Kids,” said Mr Paterson.

To view the media release in full click here.

Investment in men’s healing pays off

A new report shows clearly that targeted government investment in Aboriginal community-led men’s healing and behaviour change programs delivers better healing outcomes and significant economic savings.

The report Strengthening Spirit and Culture: A Cost Benefit Analysis of Dardi Munwurro’s Men’s Healing Programs explains the findings of an analytical study by Deloitte Access Economics of the impacts of three programs delivered by Dardi Munwurro, a Victorian specialist Aboriginal healing and family violence prevention service.

The groundbreaking study, funded by The Healing Foundation, proves the economic benefits associated with Aboriginal men’s healing. The analysis found that each dollar invested in Dardi Munwurro is estimated to provide a return on investment of 50-190%, noting that this should be viewed as a conservative estimate of benefits as it was not possible to quantify all benefits from the programs.

To view the media release in full click here.

Switching is not quitting

Tobacco use is falling by five million people per year. The reduced number of tobacco users have the industry worried. Don’t fall for their tricks, don’t switch to products promoted by tobacco and related industries.

Improved cervical cancer screening access

The Australian Government has announced that all women under the National Cervical Screening Program (NCSP) will be able to self-collect their own screening sample from Friday 1 July 2022.

  • From 1 July 2022, current eligibility criteria for access to self-collection under the NCSP Self-collection Policy will be removed.
  • This change means that self-collection will be available to all women and people with a cervix under the NCSP and will no longer be restricted to under-screened or never-screened women.
  • This change is supported by evidence showing that HPV tests performed on self‑collected vaginal samples are as safe and accurate as HPV tests performed by a clinician.

For more detailed information click here. and to access Minister Hunt’s media release click here.

Image source: Menshalena, Getty Images.

Indigenous Governance Award finalists

The Indigenous Governance Awards share and promote success from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and organisations around Australia. There are three categories of Award for outstanding examples of governance in Indigenous-led organisations:

  • Projects or unincorporated initiatives or projects
  • Small to medium incorporated organisations
  • Large incorporated organisations

Reconciliation Australia and the BHP Foundation have proudly partnered to deliver the Indigenous Governance Awards since their inception in 2005. In 2018  the Australian Indigenous Governance Institute (AIGI) became a co-host.

Nine Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander-led organisations and initiatives from around the country have been shortlisted as finalists in the Indigenous Governance Awards 2022. Each finalist organisation or initiative has been selected for its culturally-informed ways of working, driving positive and long-lasting change for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. Finalists in Category 1 (Outstanding examples of governance in Indigenous-led non-incorporated initiatives or projects) include:

  • South Australian West Coast ACCHO Network (SAWCAN) – Whyalla Norrie, SA; and
  • Aboriginal Health & Medical Research Council Human Research Ethics Committee – Sydney, NSW.

For more information about the awards and finalists click here.

DATE CHANGE – ATSIHAW Virtual Trivia

2021 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander HIV Awareness Week (ATSIHAW) Virtual Trivia, co-hosted by UQ and NACCHO is held in the first week of December each year, to coincide with World AIDS Day. This year it is being held at 4:00PM (AEDT) – Friday 3 December 2021. It provides an opportunity to engage our communities, as well as HIV researchers, doctors, health workers and policy-makers.

The University of Queensland’s Poche Centre for Indigenous Health and  NACCHO will co-host the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander HIV Awareness Week (ATSIHAW) Virtual Trivia for staff of the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Sector and those working in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander sexual health.

To register click here.

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.

Pulmonary Hypertension Awareness Month

November is Pulmonary Hypertension Awareness Month (November) with World Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease Day (COPD) held yesterday, Wednesday 17 November 2021. The Lung Foundation Australia’s goal of these campaigns is to raise awareness of and connection to Lung Foundation’s services and programs, supporting patients to live well with their condition.

The main call to action is to download a resource pack, which will bring consumers into our database and place them on a tailored email journey. The email series covers a range of topics including self-management, exercise, peer support and mental health. The Lung Foundation is encouraging patients to complete the short forms on the following pages which will activate this email journey:

PAH resource pack and COPD resource pack.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Save the date – HIV Awareness Week Trivia

HIV Awareness Week Virtual Trivia 2021 - Save the date.

Join us for ATSIHAW virtual trivia

Save the date: Inviting all Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services staff to join the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander HIV Awareness Week Virtual Trivia 2021 at 3pm (AEST), 1 December 2021.
 
Each year Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander HIV Awareness Week gets a conversation going in our community about HIV prevention and the importance of regular testing for HIV.
 
What team will take the title this year?
Will Condoman or Lubelicious make an appearance?
Special prizes for BEST and WORST dressed once again.
 
Stay tuned! More information coming soon.
ATSIHAW2021 VIRTUAL TRIVIA - Save the date.

#TriviaTime #hivawareness #hivawarenessandprevention

Struggle to vaccinate communities in QLD

Health officials in Queensland are struggling to vaccinate Indigenous communities across the state due to misinformation and hesitancy.

Health officials are taking vaccines directly to communities. Teams of nurses from Brisbane’s Mater Hospital began the clinic last week in partnership with Indigenous health workers.

“It enables people to have a private conversation and ask the questions that they’ve got about vaccine. We know that there is misinformation, we know that there is hesitancy and I think having that personal conversation with people makes a difference,” said Michelle Forrest from Darling Downs Health.

135 vaccines have been delivered in the week since the program started, but with a 2-dose vaccination rate of 27% Cherbourg still has a long way to go.

You can view the story on the ABC News website.

Health officials struggle to vaccinate Indigenous communities in Queensland

Health officials struggle to vaccinate Indigenous communities in Queensland.

COVID-19 vaccination highly effective

Fully vaccinated people have been significantly less likely to become seriously ill or die, and better protected from acquiring COVID-19, during the Delta outbreak.

Yesterday, Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant highlighted the findings in the latest NSW Health In Focus report which shows hospitalisations, ICU admissions and deaths were all far lower among the fully vaccinated population during the outbreak’s peak. Dr Chant said the report also makes it clear fully vaccinated people were significantly less likely to become infected with COVID-19.

“The COVID-19 Delta outbreak has been the biggest challenge the state has faced during the pandemic because of its transmissibility. However, this report shows vaccination has been key in protecting ourselves, our families, and the community from the harmful effects of the virus,” Dr Chant said.

You can read more on the NSW Government Department of Health website.
You can view the In Focus report here.

elder without shirt outdoor setting receiving covid-19 vaccine from KAMS worker

Photo: Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Services. Image source: The Guardian.

98% of COVID-19 cases in Moree are First Nations people

Large gatherings have led to an explosion of COVID-19 positive cases in and around Moree in the past week. Since the first positive cases were identified last Monday, the number of positive tests has jumped close to 100, and COVID-19 has also been found in the neighbouring shire of Inverell.

The surging outbreak is almost exclusively impacting Aboriginal people: 98 per cent of the 94 active cases on Sunday were Indigenous, according to NSW Health. And the vast majority with the virus, at present, are young: 90 per cent are under 40, and 43 per cent are under 20.

Ros Rose, nursing manager at Moree’s Pius X Aboriginal Corporation, said the organisation, which provides health care to 3,500 Indigenous residents, has been offering vaccines since March but has struggled to convince young people to get the jab. The outbreak has been a “wake-up call”, she said, and more people – about 30 a day – are now coming for their vaccinations.

After having COVID-19 for a week, 34-year-old Gomeroi woman Lisa Duncan now regrets that she was hesitant. She said she was anxious about side effects, and thought: “I’ll be right, I won’t get coronavirus.”

Now, she plans to get vaccinated as soon as she’s clear of the virus. She doesn’t want to get it again.

“I can’t be a voice for everybody but just coming from my point of view, get the vax, or you do suffer. The symptoms are bad, it’s horrible.”

You can read the article in the Brisbane Times here.

Lisa Duncan, 34, says she regrets not getting the vaccine due to anxiety. She tested positive to COVID-19 along with children Hayden, 4, Haylee, 8 and Nazariiah, 10. Image credit: Louise Kennerley.

Lisa Duncan, 34, says she regrets not getting the vaccine due to anxiety. She tested positive to COVID-19 along with children Hayden, 4, Haylee, 8 and Nazariiah, 10. Image credit: Louise Kennerley.

Raising awareness around perinatal mental health

In Australia, one in five mothers and one in 10 fathers will experience perinatal depression and anxiety. Many support services have seen a sharp rise in calls for help during the pandemic. Health experts say Indigenous, multicultural and LGBTIQ+ families are especially at risk.

“We know that so many parents are having a really hard time, even more than normal,” said clinical psychologist Chris Barnes from Gidget Foundation Australia.

It’s why more than 40 organisations across Australia have united to help raise awareness for Perinatal Mental Health Week, which runs from 7 to 13 November.

Their aim is to break down the stigmas, particularly affecting parents from Indigenous and migrant backgrounds, that prevent many families from reaching out for help.

“New and expectant parents are not alone. There are many services available,” said Ms Barnes.

You can read the article in SBS News here.

First Nations woman Jami Seale (centre) struggled with postnatal anxiety and depression during the pandemic. Image source SBS News.

First Nations woman Jami Seale (centre) struggled with postnatal anxiety and depression during the pandemic. Image source SBS News.

Strong community support for #RaisetheAge

The ACT Council of Community Service (ACTCOSS) has commended the ACT Government on its progress towards raising the age of criminal responsibility in the ACT. In its Listening Report, the ACT Government found that 90 per cent of submissions supported raising the minimum age of criminal responsibility from 10 years. It also showed that:

  • this change is required to protect the safety and wellbeing of the Territory’s children and young people
  • medical evidence clearly shows that children under the age of 14 are developmentally and neurologically unable to form criminal intent and should not be held criminally responsible for their actions; and
  • there is limited support for the creation of exceptions or ‘carve outs’ to the minimum age for serious or repetitive behaviour.

“All the evidence tells us that prison is no place for children. Not only is the brain of a child under 13 years of age not yet sufficiently developed to understand criminal responsibility, we know that imprisoning kids only makes them far more likely to become repeat adult offenders,” said ACTCOSS CEO Dr Emma Campbell.

You can view the media release by ACTCOSS here.
The Listening Report and submissions can be found on the ACT Government YourSay website.

two Aboriginal youths in Darwin Don Dale Juvenile Prison

Youth detained in Darwin prison. Image source: ABC News website.

Improving access to mental health services 

The Australian Rural Health Education Network (ARHEN) has welcomed the Final Report from the House Select Committee on Mental Health and Suicide Prevention and the recommendations to improve access to services for people in rural and remote Australia. The Committee recommended the Australian Government leverage the existing Australian Rural Health Education Network by providing funding for clinical placements in regional, rural and remote university clinics and using these clinics to trial multi-disciplinary, hybrid mental health hubs that integrate digital services and face to face services.

“For more than twenty years the University Departments of Rural Health have been training health students from a range of allied health disciplines such as nursing, occupational therapy, psychology and pharmacy to work in rural and remote locations. With appropriate additional resourcing our rurally-based university campuses would be well-placed to deliver on the Committee’s recommendation to trial mental health clinics and hubs which may offer a mix of digital and face to face services for people in rural and remote regions,” said Chair of ARHEN Christine Howard.

You can read the media release by ARHEN here.
You can view the Final Report here.

aerial view of APY Lands community Amata, red dust, approx 60 houses, dirt playing field, mountains in the distance

Aerial view of APY Lands community Amata. Photo: Carl Saville, ABC News. Image source: ABC News website.

Post-Lockdown support for Belconnen and Gungahlin mob

Lockdown has put a strain on households with the increase in electricty and heating usage and Yerrabi Yurwang are providing support of $100 towards utility bills for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families residing in Belconnen or Gungahlin areas.

Funds are limited and to be eligible for this support you must be:

  • Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander
  • be over 18 and
  • live in the Belconnen or Gungahlin area

For more information, please contact Selina Walker at: info@yerrabi.org.au

You can download a flyer for the initiative here.
Please visit the Yerrabi Yurwang website to apply.

Hands of different skin tones gently stacked.

Image source: Yerrabi Yurwang 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: Minister vows to reduce suicide rate

feature tile text 'Minister vows to reduce suicide rate of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples' & image of Minister Wyatt in Parliament

Minister vows to reduce suicide rate

In pointing out that Indigenous people are dying by suicide at twice the rate of other Australians, Minister for Indigenous Australians, Key Wyatt,  vowed to use ‘every tool at our disposal to have a substantial impact’ on reducing the Indigenous suicide rate.

Minister Wyatt said “We know that there is a need to reach people in distress earlier to prevent the onset of suicidal behaviour. A focus on prevention and early intervention with a more integrated and compassionate mental health system is key.”

The minister added that the National Agreement on Closing the Gap signed by governments last year created, for the first time, shared accountability, greater transparency and embedding working in partnership across all levels of government and the Coalition of Aboriginal Peak Organisations. A commitment under target 14 of the agreement would lead to annual reporting from all jurisdictions on their progress to achieving eliminating the suicide rate among the Indigenous population all together, he said.

To view The Mandarin article in full click here.

$9m+ research funding for CAAC

The Australian Government is supporting nine Australian researchers with almost $62 million to improve the health and wellbeing of Australians by accelerating research knowledge and outcomes into health care and practice. Funded through the Government’s Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF), the 2020 Rapid Applied Research Translation (RART) Grant Opportunity is investing $216 million over 10 years and focuses on turning research findings into real health benefits that help Australian patients.

The University of NSW has been granted $9,967,326 for scaling up infection disease point-of-care testing for Indigenous people; The George Institute for Global Health has $2,410,958 for Implementing holistic burn care through a culturally safe integrated model; and the Central Australian Aboriginal Congress Aboriginal Corporation has received $9,760,245 for a research projected with the title Aboriginal prosperity through community driven translational research.

To view Minister Hunt’s media release in full click here.

COVID-19’s disproportionate impact on mob

New data shows Aboriginal people in NSW and the ACT have been heavily and disproportionately affected by COVID-19, amid concerns that even after two months of “surge” efforts in 30 Indigenous communities, vaccination rates will not be high enough to withstand further outbreaks.

10% of all COVID-19 cases in NSW and the ACT are Aboriginal and Islander people, meaning they have been affected at twice the rate of other Australians. In the past three months, there have been 7,000 cases, 700 hospitalisations, 80 people in ICU and 14 deaths among Aboriginal people, according to data from NACCHO.

To view the The Guardian article in full  click here.

Door-to-door work by trusted local health workers to answer questions and counter vaccine hesitancy has been effective in raising rates. Photo: Dan Himbrechts, AAP. Image source: The Guardian.

Mary G asks KAMS CEO about COVID-19

Mary G has spoken with Vicki O’Donnell, Chair of the Aboriginal Health Council of Western Australia and CEO of Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Services (KAMS), asking the hard-hitting questions about COVID-19 and vaccination.

You can listen to the interview and read the interview transcript here.

Mary G

Mary G. Image source: Mary G Foundation website.

Rising syphilis rates in remote WA

As syphilis cases continue to surge in WA, contact tracers say they are overwhelmed, with remote areas with high Indigenous populations of particular concern. Increased notifications associated with the outbreak of the sexually transmitted infection (STI) were first reported in the Kimberley region in 2014 and have spread throughout WA.

Health experts say while attention remains on COVID-19, syphilis rates are climbing without enough public awareness, especially among Indigenous populations where social stigma discourages people from getting tested. In the Kimberley, contact tracers are struggling to reach long lists of people who may have caught the STI. The infection can cause serious life-long health complications.

To view the ABC article in full click here.

Anne Clarke & Rosie Jack, Kununurra

Anne Clarke and Rosie Jack have been spreading the word throughout Kununurra that there’s no shame in getting tested. Photo: Ted O’Connor, ABC News.

Close the Gap for Vision events

The University of Melbourne’s Indigenous Eye Health is hosting the following two events over the next few weeks:

2021 Annual Update on the Implementation of The Roadmap to Close the Gap for Vision report launch by Pat Anderson AO
with Professor Hugh Taylor AC – 11.00AM–11.45AM (AEDT) – Tuesday 16 November 2021. To register click here.

Sharing our Findings: Evaluating Regional Implementation of The Roadmap to Close the Gap for Vision by Indigenous Eye Health –  12:00PM–1:00PM (AEDT) – Wednesday 24 November 2021. To register click here.

Aboriginal man having an eye test

Image source: SBS News.

Benefits of community development

Leading economics firm, ACIL Allen, has undertaken a social and economic Impact Assessment of a national community development organisation delivering projects in First Nations’ communities. It found the model has potential to deliver positive health, social and economic impacts for First Nations’ people and significant cost savings for government.

ACIL Allen stated, “Community development activities have the potential to generate large amounts of cost savings for government, by reducing the reliance on government support, services and safeguards. This cost saving is significant, considering the cost of service provision for Indigenous Australians has historically been higher than non-Indigenous Australians.”

The complete ACIL Allen impact statement on Community First Development can be found here and you can view the related media release here.

Economic security boost for two ACCHOs

The Andrews Labor Government is supporting self-determination and increasing financial autonomy for Aboriginal organisations by releasing full ownership of five more properties back to the community.  Minister for Aboriginal Affairs Gabrielle Williams has announced that the latest group of properties owned by Aboriginal organisations have had their first mortgages removed as part of the First Mortgage and Community Infrastructure Program.

These properties include Wathaurong Aboriginal Co-operative’s main office, which includes their health service, in North Geelong; and Winda Mara Aboriginal Corporation’s office plus two other properties housing their services in Heywood. The removal of these mortgages gives Aboriginal communities rightful control of their assets and brings the total number of properties with mortgages lifted under the program to 30.

To view the media release in full click here.

Image source: City of Greater Geelong 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.

Perinatal Mental Health Week

This year between the Monday 7 and Saturday 13 November, Perinatal Anxiety & Depression Australia (PANDA) is celebrating Perinatal Mental Health week. Since 2005 PANDA has been leading the perinatal mental health sector in promoting the week to help our community better understand perinatal mental illness, including signs to look for and where to go to seek support.

The theme for this year is “breaking down barriers”. In the last 12 months, PANDA has seen:

  • 51% increase in callers to PANDA’s Helpline.
  • 57% of callers are citing stressful life events as their reason for reaching out for help.
  • More pregnant callers reaching out for help – 75% are either pregnant with their second or third child.
  • Significant increase in the number of callers with babies under 1 month of age (12% in 2019-20 to 26% in 2020-21).

Many may think the statistics are alarming, PANDA sees the increase in demand as positive progress, as it means more families in Australia are no longer trying to manage alone. These families are breaking down barriers created by the stigma that surrounds perinatal mental illness to get the support they need. PANDA is incredibly proud of all the people who have reached out to us.

For more information click here.

tile text 'perinatal mental health week - breaking DOWN barriers - panda.org.au - 7-13 November 2021' & cartoon of max & woman sitting, woman holding baby