NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Funding to eliminate HIV transmission

feature tile, HIV under microscope; text 'Additional $19.7m to improve access to HIV, BBV and STI testing, treatment, information and care'

The feature tile includes a colourised transmission electron micrograph image showing HIV particles (in blue) budding from a white blood cell. Image source: Australian Academy of Science webpage Zero HIV transmissions in Australia by 2020.

The NACCHO Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health News is platform we use to showcase the important work being done in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health focusing on the work of NACCHO, NACCHO members and NACCHO affiliates.

We also share a curated selection of news stories that are of likely interest to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health sector, broadly.

Funding to eliminate HIV transmission

The Australian Government is delivering on its commitment to eliminate HIV transmission in Australia, and address the health disparities experienced by LGBTIQA+ people. An additional $19.7m in the 2023–24 Budget will ensure better access to HIV testing, treatment and information, including support for the HIV workforce and to continue to address other Blood Borne Virus (BBV) and Sexually Transmissible Infections (STI).

The Government will:

  • expand access to HIV treatment for people who are ineligible for Medicare to ensure no one is left behind
  • extend the HIV testing vending machine pilot to increase access to HIV testing for students in South Australia
  • fund the Emen8 website, a critical information hub for sharing HIV information for members of the LGBTIQA+ community
  • fund the HIV Online Learning Australia program to provide up-to-date education and training for the HIV workforce
  • provide additional support for BBV and STI peaks ($2.9 million) including for the Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations (AFAO) and National Association of People with HIV in Australia (NAPWHA) to drive the national response
  • provide funding to ACCHOs for BBV and STI testing, treatment and care services for First Nations Australians ($5.0 million).

This investment continues the implementation of the Eighth National HIV Strategy (2018–2022), and provides a platform for the important work of the HIV Taskforce, announced by the Government in December 2022, encompassing the development of the Ninth National HIV Strategy. It will bring Australia closer to its goal of ending HIV transmission by 2030.

The Government is also developing the 10 Year National Action Plan for the Health and Wellbeing of LGBTIQA+ people and will establish an LGBTIQA+ Health Advisory Group to break down barriers to accessing health care.

To view Minister Butler’s media release Eliminating HIV transmission and ensuring health equity for LGBTIQA+ Australians in full click here.

blue gloved hand holding 4 vials of blood with labels HCV,HBV, Syphilis & HIV

Image source: PHN North Western Melbourne website.

$15m+ to improve health infrastructure

Ten new major capital works projects will improve health infrastructure in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities across the country. Projects include building and renovating clinics, constructing houses for health workers, improving ventilation and cooling in clinics and building the overall capacity of Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services (ACCHS). More than $15m will be provided to successful applicants through today’s announcement of Round 1 of the Indigenous Australians’ Health Programme – Closing the Gap – Major Capital Works (MCW) program. These projects are the first of the 52 grants which were announced at the Joint Council on Closing the Gap last December, totalling more than a $120m investment.

The existing stock of ACCHS infrastructure is between 20–40 years old and in significant need of repair, reconstruction and/or enhancement. Ongoing rounds of capital works will provide better care for First Nations patients and attract and retain essential health workers in some of the most remote communities in Australia.

Deteriorating and inadequate infrastructure can compromise service delivery, pose safety risks for patients and staff, and inhibit efforts to attract workers. Best practice clinical care can also be compromised by the inability to accommodate an increase in patients and deliver multidisciplinary integrated care. The grants have been co-designed in partnership with NACCHO on behalf of the ACCHS sector. Once completed, the projects will provide First Nations people with culturally safe care in quality surroundings, particularly in remote and very remote locations.

To view Minister Burney’s media release $15.45 million for major capital works in First Nations communities in full click here.

old Armajun Health Service building & new health clinic completed June 2021

Armajun Aboriginal Health Service (AAHS) moved into a new building in June 2021. Image source: AAHS website.

Study highlights success of youth program

Minister for Police and Corrective Services, Mark Ryan, says a State Government funded youth program involving a partnership between Queensland Police and the Johnathan Thurston Academy has been proven to significantly reduce juvenile offending among its participants.

The University of the Sunshine Coast (UniSC) conducted an independent review into the JT Academy initiative, You Got This, developed in 2021 and sponsored by the QPS. The program is designed to boost the courage and self-belief of disadvantaged young people aged between nine and 16 years. The study found significant reductions in criminal offending by at-risk teenagers taking part in the You Got This program in Cairns.

17 You Got This programs have been delivered across Queensland, including Cairns, Mareeba, Mount Isa, Townsville, Logan, Zillmere and Brisbane City. Jonathan Thurston said he is “so proud of the young people who are showing up to this program and keep showing up
for themselves.” He said, “This is an amazing group of young adults with so much potential. To see the changes they’re making in themselves and their commitment to take a different direction in life just blows my mind.”

To view the Minister for Police and Corrective Services and Minister for Fire and Emergency Services, the Hon. Mark Ryan’s media release Study finds success in Far North youth program in full click here.

Johnathan Thurstan at Yarrabah PCYC last week for YouGotThis Program

Johnathan Thurstan at Yarrabah PCYC last week for YouGotThis Program. Image source: Cairns Post.

ALOs linked to drop in hospital self-discharges

Dr Morgan Berman, an orthopaedic registrar at the hospital, said prior to the introduction of liaison officers a high percentage of Indigenous patients were self-discharging before their treatment had concluded, and in some cases even before surgeries. “Risk factors for self-discharge were younger in age, pensioners or unemployed. They were more likely to be residents of Alice Springs town camps or live in communities within 51–100km of Alice Springs Hospital,” he said. “Some Indigenous men and women are sceptical of Australia’s health care system. The ALOs played a key role brokering appropriate treatment and insured significantly fewer Indigenous patients self-discharged before they had concluded treatment.”

As part of his research, which was unveiled at the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons Annual Scientific Congress in Adelaide this week, Dr Berman analysed patients who had been admitted to the hospital in the nine months prior to the ALOs introduction, and in the nine months following. He found there had been a 37% reduction in self-discharge among Indigenous patients.

The above has been extracted from the article Self-discharges drop by more than a third at Alice Springs Hospital published earlier today in The Chronicle.

main entrance to Alice Springs Hospital at night

Alice Springs Hospital. Image source: The Daily Telegraph.

Adequate health support in jail not a given

Aboriginal organisations are “fighting for scraps” and prisoners are crying out for better health support while authorities funnel millions into a $1.1b jail sitting idle in Victoria. The decision to build Western Plains Correctional Centre was made pre-COVID-19 when detainee numbers were increasing, Corrections Victoria Commissioner Larissa Strong explained yesterday. Inquiry commissioner Travis Lovett suggested the same amount of money could have made a huge difference to the land’s traditional owners, the Wadawurrung people. Aboriginal organisations were missing out in the meantime, he said.

Commissioners also noted prisoners had to fight to get adequate health support in jail. Commissioner Sue-Anne Hunter said detainees were “crying out for mental health facilities, putting in form after form, not wanting to complain and not wanting to upset any prison guard because they know that their form won’t get through”. Officials conceded that while they were exploring whether there could be direct Aboriginal Health Service delivery within prisons, a recently signed primary health contract had a five-year lifespan.

Ms Strong accepted it could be of great benefit to Aboriginal prisoners if they were able to serve sentences in the community. As of Monday, more than 820 Aboriginal people were in adult prisons in Victoria, representing 12.5% of the state’s entire prison population, she said. Earlier, Youth Justice officials told the inquiry they were determined to achieve zero Aboriginal young people in custody, regardless of legislative change.

To view the Kyabram Free Press article Prisoner health neglected while $1.1b jail sits idle in full click here.

main entrance of Western Plains Correctional Centre

Image source: Community Safety Building Authority, Victoria State Government website.

Vaping crackdown draws global acclaim

In the most significant tobacco and vaping control reforms in years, the Albanese Government has announced a range of measures aimed at reducing the prevalence of tobacco use, its associated harms and reducing the risk of a new generation of people becoming addicted to nicotine. The Government will work with state and territory governments to restrict the import and sale of vaping products, increase minimum quality standards for e-cigarettes to make them less appealing, reduce allowed nicotine concentrations and ban all single use, disposable e-cigarettes.

Many public health leaders have welcomed the news, including the World Health Organization’s Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. Emeritus Professor Simon Chapman, a longstanding advocate for tobacco control, said in a statement: “Like plain packaging, countries around the world will be lining up to copy Australia. The Government has again stared down Big Tobacco. All companies wanted to be able to sell these products through cooperative retail outlets with years of form in selling tobacco and illegal vapes to kids.”

Dr Raglan Maddox, program lead of the Tobacco Free Program at the Australia National University, said: “We know that people who don’t smoke but use e-cigarettes are around three times as likely to take up smoking as those who don’t use e-cigarettes…these measures are a much welcome step toward accelerating reductions in tobacco use”.

Speaking ahead of his Douglas Gordon Oration at the Preventive Health Conference on Kaurna Country on Thursday, Emeritus Professor Mike Daube AO said the Government’s announcement on tobacco and vaping “is the best news the public health community has had in years”. While welcoming the vaping reforms, the Alcohol and Drug Foundation said that it is important for adequate support to be in place for people who developed a nicotine dependence through vaping.

To view the Croakey Health Media article Crackdown on vaping and tobacco industries draws global acclaim in full click here.

vapes sitting on wooden table top

Image source: Bowman Dental.

Sector Jobs

Sector Jobs – you can see sector job listings on the NACCHO website here.

Advertising Jobs – to advertise a job vacancy click here to go to the NACCHO website Current job listings webpage. Scroll down to the bottom of the page to find a Post A Job form. You can complete this form with your job vacancy details – it will then be approved for posting and go live on the NACCHO website.

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Remote health centres move to ACCHO control

aerial view of Imanpa Community NT

The image in the feature tile is an aerial view of Imanpa Community. Image source: ResearchGate website.

The NACCHO Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health News is a platform we use to showcase the important work being done in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health focusing on the work of NACCHO, NACCHO members and NACCHO affiliates.

We also share a curated selection of news stories that are of likely interest to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health sector, broadly. The content included in these new stories are not necessarily NACCHO endorsed.

Remote health centres move to ACCHO control

Central Australian Aboriginal Congress (Congress) has this month assumed operations of the primary health care clinics in Imanpa and Yulara. Congress already provides care at nearby Mutitjulu, an Aboriginal community adjacent to Uluru, as well as other communities. One of the most experienced services in the country in Aboriginal health, Congress is the largest Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Service (ACCHS) in the NT, a national leader in primary health care, and a strong advocate for the health of Aboriginal people.

Yulara will become a service hub for the region and, in Imanpa, NT Health will continue providing BreastScreen appointments along with other specialist outreach services. The Kaltukatjara (Docker River) Health Centre will also transition to Congress on 1 July, 2023. Evidence shows that increasing community involvement in the planning and delivery of local health services brings additional health benefits to local residents. This supports local communities with greater opportunities to influence the health care services offered, in particular, their cultural responsiveness.

Congress CEO, Donna Ah Chee said “Congress is proud to welcome Imanpa and Yulara communities to the Aboriginal community controlled health service model. ACCHS delivery is recognised as best practice for Aboriginal health, and the further development of the ACCHS sector is a key part of the Closing the Gap commitments that all governments have signed. This is because, for every dollar spent there is a greater return in health improvement for our people with this model of health care.”

To view the Chief Minister of the NT, Natasha Fyles and Chansey Paech, Member for Bwoja’s joint media release More Central Australian remote health centres set to transition to Aboriginal community control in full click here.

external view of Imanpa Health Centre

Imanpa Health Centre. Photo: Nick Hose. Image source: ABC News.

Maningrida PHC graduates make history

Last week the first-ever cohort to obtain formal health qualifications on-country in Maningrida made history, graduating with a Certificate II in Aboriginal Primary Health Care. The ceremony started with a beautiful welcome to Kunibidji Country from Traditional Owner, David Jones, followed by a welcome speech from Mala’la Health Service Aboriginal Corporation chairperson and Senior Aboriginal Health Practitioner, Charlie Gunabarra. David and Charlie are dedicated to bettering community health outcomes and have been proactive in guiding the Aboriginal community-control model of health service delivery.

Guest speaker, NT Chief Aboriginal Health Practitioner, Iris Raye welcomed the new graduates, Eileen Gunabarra, Fabian Smith, Jermaine Namanurki, Kurt Brown, Natasha Bond and Shannon Brown, to the health profession and imparted her passion for Aboriginal health care with the students.  On-country adult learning provided an accessible format that also ensured students could continue their family, cultural, work and community responsibilities whilst undertaking studies.

Support and funding for the place-based model of adult-learning course was received from NT PHN, the NT Department of Employment and Workplace Relations’ Foundation Skills for Your Future program and Industry NT and Ninti Training delivered engaging, fun and relatable learning.

To view the Mala’la Health Service Aboriginal Corporation Facebook post The End of a Journey. The Beginning of a Legacy. click here.
6 Maningrida (NT) graduates of Aboriginal PHC Certificate II

Certificate II in Aboriginal PHC graduates. Image source: Mala’la Health Service Aboriginal Corporation Facebook page.

Medicare changes could reduce deaths in custody

The federal government has been urged to make an immediate improvement to the lives of prisoners by providing Medicare in custodial settings, in a change that coroners have argued could reduce Indigenous deaths in custody. Advocates have argued for decades that Medicare should be available in custody. However, the change has not yet been made. Medicare is not available for prisoners because of a section of the Health Insurance Act that prohibits Medicare benefits from being paid when state funding has been provided.

Nadine Miles, principal legal officer of the NSW and ACT Aboriginal Legal Service, said her organisation had appeared at inquests where Indigenous men in their 20s, 30s, 40s and 50s died in custody from ailments including an asthma attack, organ failure, an ear infection, a clot in the lung, and coronary artery disease.

“Inadequate healthcare was an issue brought up for each of them,” Miles said. “We have seen far too many preventable deaths and far too many failures to provide a basic standard of healthcare for people behind bars. The result is that lives are lost too soon and whole families and communities are changed forever.”

To view The Sydney Morning Herald article The change to Medicare that could reduce deaths in custody in full click here.

Smoking Ceremony held at the NSW Coroners Court in July 2022 during the inquest for Mootijah Shillingsworth, who died from an ear infection

A smoking ceremonyat the NSW Coroners Court in July 2022 during the inquest for Mootijah Shillingsworth, who died from an ear infection. Photo: Dean Sewell. Image source: SMH.

Resources for health workers supporting mob with cancer

Ngununggula is a new package of resources, including a manual and quality improvement resources developed for ACCHOs in NSW to support best practice cancer care of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. The training materials are based on the work of the Illawarra Aboriginal Medical Service Cancer Care Team and feature work of other cancer care workers around the state.

The training resources are a result of a collaboration with the Aboriginal Health and Medical Research Centre of NSW (AH&MRC), the University of Sydney, the University of Wollongong, the Menzies School of Health Research and Coordinare and have been funded through Cancer Australia’s Supporting People with Cancer Grant Initiative.

The Ngununggula package of resources includes a series of webinars providing guidance on:

  • cancer prevention
  • investigations and treatment
  • cancer survivorship
  • end of life.
You can access the links to the webinars, including the one below, on the Australian Indigenous HealthBulletin website here.

How to save PHC in remote Australia

What happens when an area loses its GPs? Dr Sam Heard is witnessing the fallout, and has set out a treatment plan to combat the issue before it is too late. Dr Heard says there is a health workforce crisis in Central Australia and much of remote NT. The current social disruption and negative experiences of residents in Alice Springs mirrors the turmoil sometimes faced by remote health staff. But this is our country and remote Australians require healthcare to a level that many in the city do not.

Patients are having dialysis locally, there are emergencies that frequently require patients to be evacuated, along with housing, educational and environmental issues that desperately need advocacy. It was not always like this.

During more than 30 years as a GP and educator in the NT, Dr Heard says he has attempted to strengthen primary care and has been ably supported by motivated colleagues along the way: young doctors, nurses and Aboriginal Health Practitioners in training, and by older doctors who have moved to the area to contribute to the health of remote Australians. Over the past decade, however, Dr Heard says he has witnessed a worrying decline in primary care services and an unwillingness to tackle the issue until it is too late.

To read the RACGP newsGP article How to save primary care in remote Australia: RACGP NT Chair in full click here.

RACGP NT Chair Dr Sam Heard

RACGP NT Chair Dr Sam Heard. Image source: RACGP newsGP.

Language to be no barrier to HIV support

Hundreds of people from culturally and linguistically diverse communities living with HIV will be better able to understand vital education material as part of a national push to improve their quality of life. The non-profit organisation Living Positive Victoria is one of four HIV-focused community organisations nationally to have been awarded $200,000 in grants to help the nearly 30,000 Australians living with the disease access better healthcare.

Living Positive Victoria along with Positive Life NSW, the Bobby Goldsmith Foundation and the National Association of People Living with HIV Australia (NAPWHA) have established five projects that will receive funding. NAPWHA will unite Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living with HIV from across Australia for a three-day residential workshop to promote healing.

To view the PerthNow article Language to be no barrier for accessing HIV support in full click here. Below is a Young Deadly Free animation explaining the basics of HIV.

Sector Jobs

Sector Jobs – you can see sector job listings on the NACCHO website here.

Advertising Jobs – to advertise a job vacancy click here to go to the NACCHO website Current job listings webpage. Scroll down to the bottom of the page to find a Post A Job form. You can complete this form with your job vacancy details – it will then be approved for posting and go live on the NACCHO website.

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Pharmacist Scholarship Applications Open

Feature tile - NACCHO ATSI Pharmacist Scholarship applications open

The NACCHO Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health News is a platform we use to showcase the important work being done in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health focusing on the work of NACCHO, NACCHO members and NACCHO affiliates.

We also share a curated selection of news stories that are of likely interest to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health sector, broadly. The content included in these new stories are not necessarily NACCHO endorsed.

Pharmacist Scholarship Applications Open

NACCHO is excited to announce that applications are open for the 2nd year of the NACCHO Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Pharmacist Scholarship* which provides subsidy and support for prospective or current Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander pharmacy students.  


Each recipient will receive up to $10,000 per annum to contribute to university expenses. The scholarship also offers support and mentorship from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health professionals and organisations to ensure ongoing integration and connection with the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community controlled health sector.  


The scholarship program aims to build the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander pharmacist workforce and to raise the profile of the beneficial role that pharmacy and pharmacists can play in supporting appropriate and culturally safe care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.  


For more information about the scholarship and how to apply, click here.


You can also contact Mike Stephens on 0408 278 204 or via email using this link.NACCHO ATSI pharmacist scholarship applications open tile

Scholarship opens door for speech pathology career

The art of being committed to your work at Victoria’s largest public health service while being a prominent advocate for First Nations wellbeing is all in a day’s work for CQ University alumnus Hannah Thompson. A proud Kara Kara woman from the Central Highlands, Hannah is an active member of five different Speech Pathology Australia groups and advisory committees, where she provides input on how Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture relates to the organisation’s competency standards.

Ms Thompson received a BMA Indigenous Scholarship during her studies which she notes helped her embrace new career opportunities. “My goal is to combine my passion in speech pathology with my desire to help close the gap between First Nations and non-First Nations Australians in the healthcare and education sectors,” Ms Thompson said. “The experiences I had at CQ University, my BMA scholarship, and the connections I made throughout my studies opened doors for me post graduation.”

Upon graduating in 2018, Ms Thompson was employed at a Central Queensland therapy clinic before accepting an early career speech pathologist position in the public sector. “My current role has certainly changed my perspective of working in public healthcare,” she said. “Every day has its own challenges, especially being the primary speech pathologist on the COVID ward during the peak of the pandemic, however, the team around me are very supportive and uplifting. In the public space, you work alongside incredible people and learn so much on the job.”

To view the National Indigenous Times article Scholarship put young Kara Kara woman on the path to speech pathology career in full click here.

CQ Uni alumnus Hannah Thompson standing in front of Aboriginal and TSI flags

CQ University alumnus Hannah Thompson. Image source: National Indigenous Times – 18 February 2023.

Celebrating WorldPride with WSLHD’s Darren Lee

Just six weeks into his new role at Western Sydney Local Health District (WSLHD), Darren Lee already has a deep connection with the local community at Mount Druitt Hospital. Despite living in Darwin for over a decade, Darren has returned home. “I am born and bred in this area – all my family are here, I was born in Blacktown Hospital and went to the school just down the road; Plumpton High School, so it’s all really familiar to me,” he said. “This community is my home. I went to school here, my friends are now teachers here, I’ve got four or five friends who are now nurses and staff at Mount Druitt Hospital. It’s home. I’ve worked in other districts and I called Darwin home for 13 years but this is my home.”

Darren is an Aboriginal Sexual Health Promotion Officer at the WSLHD Aboriginal Health Hub, located at Mount Druitt Hospital. In the days leading up to Sydney WorldPride, and as a part of the LGBTQIA+ community, Darren is urging his mob to have a great time during WorldPride, but to prioritise their health by getting tested and partying safely. “Gay, straight, green or blue, we all like to have sex. Our job is to remind people to do it safely.

“Being an Aboriginal Health Promotion Officer, it’s about promoting to my mob who we are, where we are and what our services do, and to normalise it. If you’re going for your annual health check for your blood sugar levels, what’s wrong with peeing in a cup or doing a swab or taking a blood test to check your full health. It’s about not stereotyping or stigmatising people for what they do in their personal lives. As an Aboriginal man and a gay man myself, I’m proud of both of those things completely equally.”

To view The Pulse article in full click here.

Long COVID causing job losses and homelessness

The federal government is developing a national Long COVID strategy, with a parliamentary inquiry hearing the condition has resulted in job losses and homelessness among some sufferers. The chief medical officer, Professor Paul Kelly, said the federal health department had been tasked with developing a national Long COVID strategy that would cover prevention, immunisation, treatment and research into the condition.

“That is well under way,” Kelly said at a public hearing on Friday, although he went on to say the strategy would probably not be finalised until after the health department had received advice following the parliamentary inquiry into Long COVID and repeated COVID-19 infections. Speaking at the inquiry’s third public hearing on Friday, Labor MP Dr Michelle Ananda-Rajah said, “I think we’re going to probably land on a recommendation that we obviously need national guidelines … and perhaps living guidelines that keep evolving as the data keeps coming in.”

A lack of data about Long COVID in Australia was repeatedly raised as a concern during the hearing. Dr Jason Agostino, a senior medical adviser at NACCHO, told the inquiry that there was “no clear evidence on Long COVID cases among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people – most jurisdictions have not shared data on presentations to their LONG COVID clinics by Indigenous status”.

To view The Guardian article Long COVID causing job losses and homelessness in Australia, inquiry hears in full click here.

4 COVID-19 Antigen test results - 2 negative 2 positive

Australian affected by long Covid told the parliamentary inquiry about months-long wait times to see specialists. Photo: Amer Ghazzal, Rex, Shutterstock. Image source: The Guardian – 17 February 2023.

Virtual reality part of mental health trial

Young people in the NT are stepping into the world of virtual reality (VR) as part of a new trial aimed at breaking down the barriers to mental health care. VR mental health sessions have started being trialled in parts of the NT’s Top End region, as part of a project from the NT’s Menzies School of Health Research and Aboriginal VR developer Brett Leavy.

By gamifying programs to address youth mental illness, cognitive disabilities and neurodiversity, the team hopes the project will help tackle major obstacles to care in the territory such as issues with remoteness and staffing. Mr Leavy, a Kooma man, said the project particularly took a new approach to the mental health of young First Nations people by connecting them to their culture and country through VR.

“It’s fun, it’s engaging, it’s a new technology,” he said. “It’s a new technology for an ancient culture.” The NT has the highest rate of suicide in the country, with young people and First Nations people particularly at risk.

To view the ABC News article Children explore virtual reality as part of trial for new NT youth mental health project in full click here.

Aboriginal teenager at Darwin school using virtual reality

Darwin school students test virtual reality software designed to improve mental health. Photo: Peter Garnish, ABC News.

Alice Springs alcohol rehabs desperate for support

Jocelyn Dhu has seen more desperation than most while working on the frontlines of alcohol addiction in Alice Springs. The Eastern Arrernte woman has watched people from all walks of life come through her door. Some for the first time, others for the tenth, but all battling shame, stigma and a sense they are “too far gone”. But Ms Dhu knows that’s never the case. “You have to see the person,” she said. “When you look at an individual, and you see their stories, and why alcohol or drugs became a problem for them — that’s what you need to fix.”

Alice Springs has attracted frenzied national attention in recent weeks amid a crime crisis. Liquor has been recognised as a major driver behind issues in the town. However, the NT’s peak drug and alcohol body said frontline addiction services had been chronically neglected by all levels of government.

Drug and Alcohol Services Australia, where Ms Dhu works as deputy chief executive, is just one Alice Springs service calling for help. It recently had to clear clients out of its ageing residential rehabilitation facility, Aranda House, because of a cockroach and bed bug infestation. Ms Dhu said it had sparked a waitlist of about 20 people. “I think the biggest issue is people’s level of motivation to change,” she said. “They might want to come in now, but having to wait, they change their mind and go, ‘Oh, no, I’m OK’.”

To view the ABC News article Alice Springs alcohol rehabs call desperately for support as liquor bans reinstated in full click here.

portrait shot of Jocelyn Dhu, Eastern Arrernte woman

Jocelyn Dhu says people can struggle with alcoholism for a wide range of reasons.Photo: Xavier Martin, ABC Alice Springs.

Sector Jobs

Sector Jobs – you can see sector job listings on the NACCHO website here.

Advertising Jobs – to advertise a job vacancy click here to go to the NACCHO website Current job listings webpage. Scroll down to the bottom of the page to find a Post A Job form. You can complete this form with your job vacancy details – it will then be approved for posting and go live on the NACCHO website.

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: RACGP calls for QLD government to come clean

The image in the feature tile is from an RACGP newsGP article ‘Very disappointing’: UTI pharmacy prescribing pilot extended indefinitely published on 4 July 2022.

RACGP calls for QLD government to come clean

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) has called on the Queensland Government to come clean on the North Queensland Retail Pharmacy Scope of Practice Pilot. It comes following the RACGP lodging a Right to Information Act 2009 (RTI Act) request to the Queensland Health Department on 28 March this year – 256 days ago. So far, no information has been forthcoming. The application sought access to meeting agendas, meeting papers (including notes and briefing papers), minutes, correspondence, budget documents and briefings relating to the pilot.

The college has previously cautioned that the pilot will fragment care and put patient safety and wellbeing at risk. In October this year, the RACGP doubled down on warnings that the experiment will result in poorer health outcomes for patients and much higher healthcare costs. Since then, several jurisdictions including Victoria and NSW, have forged ahead with their own pharmacy prescribing plans.

RACGP President and Mackay-based GP Dr Nicole Higgins said that scrutiny of the pilot was needed more than ever. “This is not rocket science, if due process has been followed then these documents exist, and it is in the public’s interest to know what they contain, especially as this pilot is the product of an election promise rather than responding to a demonstrable public need,” she said.

To view the RACGP media release What is the Queensland Government hiding on the controversial pharmacy prescribing pilot? in full click here.

Image source: The Conversation.

Concerns mob missing out on eating disorder treatment

To view the ABC News article Concerns Indigenous Australians missing out on eating disorder treatment in full click here.

Wiradjuri and Wotjobulak man AJ Williams battled bulimia for three years. Image source: ABC News.

Remote housing: holding government to account

Royal Darwin Hospital’s Dr Nerida Moore and paediatric registrar Dr Tasmyn Soller have co-authored an article about how overcrowding and poor-quality housing are significant driving forces of death and disease in remote communities of the NT, saying “As health care workers, we bear witness to the devastating impact that overcrowding and grossly substandard infrastructure brings. We see mothers who are desperate to find solutions to enable them to wash their children’s clothes, limited by access to washing machines, power and water. Likewise, we see families advocating to reduce overcrowding in their community who are told to wait patiently for nearly a decade for a new house to be built.”

Inadequate housing and overcrowding are at crisis level in many parts of the NT – a fact that has been established over many decades. In Australia, the highest levels of overcrowding occur in very remote communities. In 2019, it was estimated that 51% of Indigenous Australians living in very remote communities resided in overcrowded homes. Estimates suggest an extra 5,000 homes are needed by 2028 to reduce levels of overcrowding to an acceptable level.

It is therefore unsurprising that remote communities experience some of the highest rates of devastating and preventable diseases such as acute rheumatic fever (ARF), rheumatic heart disease (RHD), acute post streptococcal glomerulonephritis, chronic suppurative lung disease, skin infections and otitis media. These diseases, even though they have different pathophysiology, all have common links to the social determinants of health. This is further highlighted by the steep decline of these diseases globally as living conditions have gradually improved across the world.

To view the InSight article Remote community housing: holding government to account in full click here.

Gloria Chula lives in a three-bedroom house of 16 people in Wadeye, one of the Northern Territory’s poorest and most troubled Indigenous communities. Image source: The Islander.

Nine-year-old ‘doctors’ set to graduate

A group of primary school-aged “doctors” are set to graduate in Melbourne’s north and become life-long health ambassadors for themselves and their communities. The 30-odd students in grades three and four at Reservoir East Primary School are graduating from the 15-week Malpa Young Doctors for Life program this week.

The program is culturally derived and teaches both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal children traditional ways of healing, along with modern ways of keeping communities healthy. Interstate, nine South Australian schools signed up in 2022, and three schools are also part of the program in NSW in Dubbo South, and in Smithtown and Kempsey West in the Mid North Coast region.

The program “equips them with Indigenous and non-Indigenous knowledge which they end up sharing with others – I believe they are closing the gap for themselves,” Malpa leader Mel Harrison said. “At Reservoir, one of the main benefits is that it has dramatically improved school attendance. “The way the program is designed means that every child feels some form of success in Malpa.”

To view the Milton Ulladulla Times article Nine-year-old ‘doctors’ set to graduate in full click here.

Students from a primary school in Melbourne took part in the Malpa Young Doctors for Life program. Image source: Milton Ulladulla Times.

NT facing COVID-19 spike

COVID-19 cases have doubled in the NT in the past week, rising faster than anywhere else in the country. The NT Chief Minister Natasha Fyles says the NT has moved out of the COVID-19 emergency phase but Aboriginal health care providers say that call is premature. Angus Randall reports that health services are very worried about a Christmas peak. The NT recently recorded a worrying COVID milestone, 100,000 cases since the start of the pandemic. Experts say that is likely an undercount, but the trend in the official numbers shows a steeper rise in the NT right now than anywhere else in Australia.

John Paterson the CEO, of the Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance NT (AMSANT) said “Up until this year we’ve had 40 Aboriginal deaths in the NT, it’s killing Aboriginal people at younger ages, with the highest numbers of deaths in the 60-69 age group then the 50-59 age group compared to over 80 for the non-Aboriginal population, so you can see the Aboriginal population is at most risk.”

Mr Paterson is concerned about what will happen over the coming weeks as those in remote communities travel to the more populated centres during the Christmas season. “It is unfortunate and I think premature that governments are taking their foot off the pedal and not giving this issue the attention it deserves given we are now seeing a rise in COVID-19 numbers again. Our advice would have been to wait until after the Christmas New Year period to see what the numbers are like and reconsider any other public measures we might need to take during that period.”

You can listen to The World Today ABC broadcast NT facing COVID-19 spike in full here.

Photo: Steven Schubert, ABC News. Image source: ABC News – The World Today.

Australia’s annual sexual health check up

New data released last week by the Kirby Institute at UNSW Sydney reveals how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted testing and diagnoses of sexually transmissible infections (STI) in Australia. The report titled HIV, viral hepatitis and sexually transmissible infections in Australia: Annual surveillance report shows that in 2021 there were 86,916 diagnoses* of chlamydia, 26,577 of gonorrhoea and 5,570 of infectious syphilis in Australia.

“Prior to the pandemic we were seeing increases in chlamydia and gonorrhoea, but in 2021 we recorded a small decline. We believe this reduction is a consequence of both reduced testing and reduced sexual activity with new or casual partners, due to social restrictions and lockdowns during 2020 and 2021,” says Dr Skye McGregor from the Kirby Institute, one of the report’s authors. “On the other hand, syphilis has been steadily increasing among women of reproductive age, gay and bisexual men and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. This reflects sustained and ongoing transmission across Australia, which is extremely concerning.”

To view the scimex article Australia’s Annual Sexual Health Check Up: STIs are mostly down, but reductions in testing could be the cause in full click here.

Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) webpage of 1800 My Options website.

Sector Jobs

Sector Jobs – you can see sector job listings on the NACCHO website here.

Advertising Jobs – to advertise a job vacancy click here to go to the NACCHO website Current job listings webpage. Scroll down to the bottom of the page to find a Post A Job form. You can complete this form with your job vacancy details – it will then be approved for posting and go live on the NACCHO website.

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: NACCHO Deputy CEO talks about HIV

The image in the feature tile is of NACCHO Deputy CEO Dr Dawn Casey PSM.

NACCHO Deputy CEO talks about HIV

Yesterday NACCHO Deputy CEO Dr Dawn Casey spoke to Lola Forester on Blackchat, Koori Radio 93.7 FM about positive actions being taken to get the right information out to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities about HIV. Dr Casey said the community is tracking pretty well in terms of the numbers of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people contracting HIV and cases being reported. She said there’s been a massive program, funded by the Commonwealth Department of Health and Aged Care, over the last couple of years where many of the ACCHOs are involved in running programs for overall blood borne viruses (BBV) and STIs. Communities have made significant headway in terms of creating awareness about BBVs and STIs and prevention. Stigma and shame around HIV however continues to be a problem.

Dr Casey said so much more awareness needs to happen so people understand HIV is not threatening like it was many years ago. An issue that needs to be improved considerably is partner notification and contract tracing. ACCHOs are doing an incredible job with prevention programs and awareness campaigns, in language where required, around BBVs, STIs and HIV. Dr Casey and Lola reflected on the very inventive and funny ways ACCHOs have been getting the message out about safe sex, including condom trees.

You can listen to the 10-minute Koori Radio Blackchat radio interview in full by clicking here.

Koori Radio 93.7 FM Blackchat presenter Lola Forester.

Calls to stop ‘pipeline’ of shattered children

The Yoorrook Justice Commission has called for the age of criminal responsibility to be raised from 10 to at least 14, to help stop vulnerable Indigenous children getting “lost in the pipeline” of child protection and criminal justice systems. The Standing Council of Attorneys-General – a group of attorneys-general from federal, state and territory governments that focuses on best practices in law reform – will review the age of criminal responsibility when it meets later this week.

Counsel assisting the Yoorrook Justice Commission Fiona McLeod, SC, urged the council to consider First Nations people, “the many, many reports into this issue” and the testimonies that would be heard at the commission’s public hearings this week. McLeod said the number of First Nations children in out-of-home care in Victoria was “heading in the wrong direction” and contributing to a high incarceration rate among First Nations people. “It appears the current system is failing in its fundamental object of child protection,” she said. “It appears it is broken. It is fuelling a pipeline of shattered children straight to our health services and our criminal justice system.”

To view the WAtoday article Call to raise age of criminal responsibility and stop ‘pipeline of shattered Indigenous children’ in full click here.

Kutcha Edwards and niece Eva Jo Edwards are survivors of the stolen generations. Photo: Simon Schluter. Image source: WAtoday.

Kids face higher rates of skin infections

Bacterial skin infections and atopic dermatitis may be underdiagnosed among urban Indigenous children, says a WA dermatologist and researcher. A systematic review, published in Pediatric Dermatology, assessed the burden of atopic dermatitis and bacterial skin conditions in Indigenous children and young people living in urban environments in high-income countries.

Researchers included 16 papers from Australia, NZ, Canada and Greenland spanning 26 years. “Atopic dermatitis is common among urban-living Indigenous children in high-income countries with current symptoms and current severe symptoms higher than their non-Indigenous peers,” the researchers wrote. “This may suggest under-treatment of atopic dermatitis, reflecting the socioeconomic disadvantage that disproportionately affects Indigenous people, creating financial barriers to primary and dermatologic care, prescription treatments, and costly skin care regimens.”

The researchers said S.aureus colonised the skin in atopic dermatitis, exacerbating the disease and increasing the risk of bacterial skin infections. “Untreated bacterial skin infections can lead to serious complications including sepsis, post-infectious glomerulonephritis, and rheumatic heart disease,” they wrote. Urban-living Indigenous children in Australia and other high-income countries shared a history of colonisation, displacement and negative impacts on health, said lead author and dermatologist, Dr Bernadette Ricciardo from the University of WA and the Telethon Kids Institute.

To read the Medical Republic article Kids face higher rates of infections click here.

Image source: Medical Republic.

Healthy Skin Week in Maningrida

Mala’la Health Service recently coordinated Healthy Skin Week to promote early identification and treatment of skin infections in a bid to lower long term health conditions such as Acute Rheumatic Fever, Rheumatic Heart and Kidney Disease. Over five days, the dedicated crew of Aboriginal Community Health Workers, Nurses and Volunteer Doctors assessed and treated more than 1,200 people in Maningrida and outstations. Outreach clinics through late night shops, child and family centre and public spaces around the community provided extra points of access for the community.

Natasha Bond was involved in leading the community response with home-to-home visits and workshops to provide health information and support. “Rheumatic Heart Disease (RHD) is a huge concern for our mob, we have the highest rates of RHD in the world. We want to encourage everyone to work on this together, get treatment straight away and stop further health complications”.

In the lead up to Healthy Skin Week, West Arnhem Regional Council coordinated hard-rubbish collections with Stedman’s also coming on board to provide Skip Bins at various sites. Maningrida College hosted multiple workshops with the school students from kindy to seniors’ cohorts. These Workshops were delivered by the Mala’la team of Aboriginal Health Workers in-training, Natasha Bond and Eileen Gunabarra alongside Jennifer Damsey in Burarra and English languages.

To view the West Arnhem Regional Council article Healthy Skin Week in Maningrida in full click here.

Image source: West Arnhem Land Regional Council website.

Informing National Health and Climate Strategy

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander knowledge and leadership will inform climate health policy and action at all levels under a discussion paper that is being circulated for feedback to inform development of a National Health and Climate Strategy. This is the first of six principles informing the paper, and “recognises the role of First Nations people in protecting and caring for Country, that Indigenous ecological knowledge should be considered in policy development, and that First Nations’ engagement will lead to better health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples”.

Other principles informing the paper are that:

  • a more sustainable healthcare system will improve public health outcomes
  • all Australians have equal access to a strong and climate-resilient health system, both now and in the future
  • evidence underpins strategies and actions
  • all levels of government and stakeholders work in partnership to implement agreed focus areas and actions
  • a health lens is applied to climate change policy.

The paper asks readers to consider whether other principles should be considered. “For example, should transparency, reporting and accountability also be included as a key principle underpinning the Strategy?” While the paper “acknowledges that some populations, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, rural and remote communities, elderly Australians and Australians from lower socio-economic backgrounds, are more vulnerable to poorer health outcomes from the impacts of climate change”, it does not mention the term ‘health equity’. Nor does ‘climate justice’ rate a mention.

To read the Croakey Health Media article On the National Health and Climate Strategy, how’s it shaping up? in full click here.

Raylene Lenmardi and Sumayah Surprise, Ngurrara Rangers. Image source: WWF Australia.

Winnunga Nimmityjah health centre opens

The Winnunga Nimmityjah health centre opened in a formal ceremony on Saturday 3 December 2022 is the first purpose-built facility of its type in the ACT. CEO Julie Tongs said “This building is a huge game-changer in many ways and is a true testament to Aboriginal self-determination.” She said it was needed because the life expectancy of Aboriginal people and Torres Strait islanders was still far behind that of the wider community.

The elegant purpose-built building in Narrabundah will serve about 5,000 people a year in about 60,000 visits. “We’ve got so many people who are vulnerable,” she said. “Here, in Canberra, people think it’s the land of milk and honey but it’s not for a lot of people.”

At a cost of $20 million, it will provide a wide range of medical facilities for Aboriginal people in the territory. There are six GPs, three nurse practitioners and 14 nurses. Physical and mental health will be dealt with at the centre. Julie Tongs is clearly very proud. “This is a huge deal because it’s what our community deserves,” she said.

To read The Canberra Times article Winnunga Nimmityjah health centre, the ACT’s first Aboriginal-run health centre, to open in full click here.

Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health and Community Services chief executive Julie Tongs at the new centre. Photo: Keegan Carroll. Image source: The Canberra Times.

Sector Jobs

Sector Jobs – you can see sector job listings on the NACCHO website here.

Advertising Jobs – to advertise a job vacancy click here to go to the NACCHO website Current job listings webpage. Scroll down to the bottom of the page to find a Post A Job form. You can complete this form with your job vacancy details – it will then be approved for posting and go live on the NACCHO website.

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Pharmacist Scholarship recipient Bryony Forrest

The image in the feature tile is of NACCHO Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Pharmacist Scholarship recipient Bryony Forrest during an interview at the 2022 NACCHO Members’ Conference in Canberra.

Pharmacist Scholarship recipient Bryony Forrest

Bryony Forrest (Darumbal / Kanolu), an aspiring deadly pharmacist and a recipient of the NACCHO Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Pharmacist Scholarship was interviewed at the recent NACCHO Members’ Conference following the Medicines and Pharmacy stream session.

In February 2022, NACCHO announced applications were open for the inaugural NACCHO Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Pharmacist Scholarship, proudly supported by a grant from Sanofi Australia. The scholarship provides subsidy and support for prospective or current Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander pharmacy students and aims to build the pharmacist workforce among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. It includes tailored mentoring from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health leaders.

In April 2022 NACCHO was pleased to announce the five successful recipients. Though the scholarship was initially established to support two applicants, the quality and number of applicants led to the expansion of the program:

  • Bryony Forrest, Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT)
  • Jai-ann Eastaughffe, James Cook University
  • James Sowter, RMIT
  • Jason Coleman, University of SA
  • Louis Emery, Queensland University of Technology (QUT)

Dr Dawn Casey, NACCHO Deputy CEO said, ‘NACCHO was impressed with the calibre and volume of applicants we received, especially in this first year of the scholarship’s implementation. We are proud to provide opportunities that help build leadership and skills amongst Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health professionals, who are significantly underrepresented in the pharmacy profession.’

Karen Hood, Sanofi’s Country Lead said, ‘As members of Australia’s healthcare community we know how important it is to listen to, and work in partnership with, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities to improve health outcomes and support meaningful steps toward a more fair, equal and just society. ‘Recognising the crucial role pharmacists play in our health system and the clear need for greater Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander participation in this field of study, we are delighted to be supporting the inaugural NACCHO scholarship as another step toward improving health and economic participation as determined by Australia’s First Peoples.’

Bryony Forrest said ‘I have always had a passion for pharmacy from when I started as a pharmacy assistant in 2018, which only deepened as time went on and I gained more experience in this field. Connecting with my community is extremely important to me and forming these meaningful connections with individuals in the context of health showed me how powerful being a pharmacist is, and what a unique opportunity it holds for health interventions and long-term health solutions in improving the lives of others. I look forward to practising as a pharmacist and making a difference for other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.’

You can find further information about the NACCHO Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Pharmacist Scholarship on the NACCHO website here and listen to Bryony Forrest’s interview below.

Winnunga Health and Wellbeing Service at AMC

Winnunga has been operating the standalone Winnunga Health and Wellbeing Service in the AMC (Alexander Maconochie Centre, ACT adult prison) since January 2019, within its own model of care. This is an Australian first and one Winnunga believes will prove to be one of the most significant advances in the care and rehabilitation of Aboriginal detainees. Development of this service required meeting the RACGP Standards for health services in Australian prisons with infrastructure, staffing, equipment and policies. The service provides high quality holistic care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in prison and continuity upon a client’s release from prison.

A client satisfaction survey of the Winnunga prison health and wellbeing service was published in the Journal of the Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet in February 2022. Participant responses indicated a high quality of care across all five aspects of
care that were evaluated (participation in care; care design; care planning and self management; care coordination; follow up and respectful care). At least three-quarters of respondents indicated that they had received the specified aspects of care ‘Most of the time’ or ‘Always’. The provision of respectful care was rated particularly high, with all respondents indicating that they always had things explained in a way they could understand, had their concerns listened to, and felt that they and their beliefs were respected by Winnunga staff. Clients were also highly satisfied with the care provided to them and their families through Winnunga.

The most common suggestions for improvement in the client survey related to Winnunga not yet having an opioid replacement pharmacotherapy program so some clients could not be transferred to Winnunga care. This has now been addressed and more detainees have access to the Winnunga prison health and wellbeing service

The above information about the AMC Health and Wellbeing Service Survey was published the Winnunga News November 2022 edition here. You can read the Evaluating Patient Experience at a Novel Health Service for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Prisoners: A Pilot Study article here.

Winnunga Health Clinic at Alexander Maconochie Centre. Image source: The Canberra Times.

HIV and sexual health webinar this WEDNESDAY

The Australasian Society for HIV, Viral Hepatitis and Sexual Health Medicine (ASHM), the Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations (AFAO) and NACCHO are partnering to deliver a webinar during Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander HIV Awareness Week 2022, to discuss available HIV resources and support that we can offer to the sexual health sector. The purpose of the HIV Toolkit Webinar is to provide ACCHOs and the HIV and Sexual Health Sector with culturally appropriate, evidence informed, and effective training for workers to build the capacity and confidence to support and educate their Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander clients around HIV and sexual health.

The webinar also aims to increase the uptake and utilisation of AFAO’s recently published ‘Healthcare Workforce Toolkit: HIV and Sexual Health for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people tool kit as an ongoing resource with comprehensive information, including to help improve rates of HIV and sexual health testing, and to increase the awareness and uptake of HIV treatment, and prevention tools including condoms, PrEP (Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis) and PEP (Post-Exposure Prophylaxis).

The webinar is from 12:00 pm to 1:00 pm (AEST) Wednesday 7 November 2022. To REGISTER click here.

ACCO literacy campaign linked to crime reduction

Researchers from Literacy for Life Foundation, the Lowitja Institute and the University of NSW have authored a report about the beneficial impacts of a First Nations community-controlled adult literacy campaign. The most significant quantitative finding was a 50% reduction in reported serious offences in a sample of 162 campaign participants. Qualitative data from interviews found an increased use of legal assistance services following the campaign. These findings are contextualised through the lived experiences and perceptions of First Nations campaign staff and participants, community leaders and government and non-government agency personnel.

This study demonstrates the potential benefits of an adult literacy campaign in reducing the incidence of negative justice system outcomes in rural and remote NSW Indigenous communities with low levels of English literacy. By drawing on linked administrative data to corroborate self-reported and observer reported data, this study has shown that participation in a community-controlled Aboriginal adult literacy campaign correlates with reductions in the average number of total offences, especially those related to traffic and justice procedures.

Of particular note, serious offences were halved in our study group, especially in women and in relation to assault. The analysis of qualitative data indicates that improved literacy may lead to greater degrees of self-control, among other positive impacts. If efforts to reduce the overrepresentation of Indigenous adults in the criminal justice system are to be successful, further research into and resourcing of adult literacy interventions is urgently required. Such research can assist in moving beyond simplistic law-and-order agendas by acknowledging that ‘building of positive futures for communities relies on building a foundation of well addressed non-criminal needs’.

You can read the International Journal for Crime, Justice and Social Democracy article Impact of a Community-Controlled Adult Literacy Campaign on Crime and Justice Outcomes in Remote Australian Aboriginal Communities in full here.

Image source: Literacy for Life Foundation website.

What’s next for our kids? asks Chris Bin Kali

Deputy Chairperson, Aboriginal Health Council of WA (AHCWA) Chris Bin Kali has written an opinion piece published in the National Indigenous Times last Friday about Premier Mark McGowan announcement of a $63m plan to address conditions for youth in detention. Bin Kali said while it is clear that additional funding is desperately needed, so is clarity around what is next for our young people in detention.

Bin Kali said a single funding announcement is not enough to make lasting change, ‘We know that in Australia, Aboriginal youth are disproportionately represented in youth detention. A large majority of the youth detainees currently at Banksia Hill are Aboriginal.  Under the National Agreement on Closing the Gap, the WA Government has committed to partnerships and shared decision-making with Aboriginal people about issues impacting our lives, and to improving the accountability and responsiveness of government to the needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.”

“To honour these commitments, the WA Government must listen to Aboriginal people and partner with us to find solutions to these issues. We know that these problems are complex and will require long-term changes across a range of areas. We know how troubled some of our young people are and the healing they need. We don’t pretend these things can be fixed overnight. But we are certain that they won’t be fixed without prioritising Aboriginal voices.”

To view the NIT article What next for our kids, Premier? in full click here.

Chris Bin Kali. Photo supplies by AHCWA. Image source: National Indigenous Times.

NDIS Ready videos and social media tiles

At the end of 2021 NACCHO delivered over $1.25m in grants to 57 Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations (ACCOs) to support the delivery of culturally safe and appropriate National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) services to their communities. The grants were delivered through the NDIS Ready program which is funded by the Department of Social Services.

The Indigenous Business Support Funding (IBSF) grants, worth $22,000 each, are designed to build the capacity of ACCHOs and ACCOs to deliver disability services sustainably under the NDIS by empowering them with the resources they need to be NDIS ready. This will support the growth of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander NDIS market and workforce and help improve access to culturally safe services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with disability.

Some of the funding has been used by NACCHO affiliates to produce the following videos:



AHCSA (no videos)

Sector Jobs

Sector Jobs – you can see sector job listings on the NACCHO website here.

Advertising Jobs – to advertise a job vacancy click here to go to the NACCHO website Current job listings webpage. Scroll down to the bottom of the page to find a Post A Job form. You can complete this form with your job vacancy details – it will then be approved for posting and go live on the NACCHO website.

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: World AIDS Day 2022: Boldly Positive

The image in the feature tile is of awareness red ribbons, the universal symbol of support and solidarity for people living with HIV and to remember those who have died from AIDS-related illnesses. The image is taken from the UK World AIDS Day Facebook page.

World AIDS Day 2022: Boldly Positive

In 2021 there were an estimated 580 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living with HIV in Australia. While new diagnoses have declined over the past year, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are more likely to be diagnosed late (more than 4 years after becoming infected with HIV) compared to non-Indigenous people, reflecting complex social factors including poverty, lack of access to health services, low health literacy, high incarceration rates and intergenerational trauma.

The national theme for World AIDS Day 2022 is Boldly Positive, promoting openness around HIV and AIDS discussion without shame and stigma, while developing bold and effective prevention strategies free from discrimination.

NACCHO Chair, Donnella Mills says, ‘in the spirit of this year’s theme, Boldly Positive, it cannot be understated that 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’.

To coincide with World AIDS Day, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander HIV Awareness Week (ATSIHAW) brings together Aboriginal Community Controlled health sector professionals to raise awareness of HIV and promote community action. Whist ATSIHAW is a great event to shed light on HIV in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Communities, sexual health teams within the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health sector, work tirelessly throughout the year to test, treat and educate Community about HIV and other BBVs and STIs.

One of the most popular ATSIHAW events is Virtual Trivia which will be held on Thursday 8 December 2022, co-hosted by the University of Queensland Poche Centre for Indigenous Health and NACCHO. Mills states, ‘this event brings together people from across Australia, working in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community, to raise awareness of HIV and mobilise community action to bring down HIV rates. This event raises serious issues with serious amounts of fun. It really is a wonderful event that gains momentum each year.’

NACCHO will continue to advocate for ongoing funding and work with partner organisations to address the disproportionate rates of sexually transmitted diseases and blood-borne viruses among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

You can register here for the ATSIHAW virtual trivia, which will be held on Thursday 8 December at 4pm and is open to all ACCHO staff and organisations supporting ACCHOs.

You can view the NACCHO media release World AIDS Day 2022: Boldly Positive on the NACCHO website here.

NACCHO Deputy CEO Dr Dawn Casey attended the World AIDS Day Parliamentary Breakfast held earlier this morning. Following the breakfast the Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations (AFAO) issued a media release Australia charts a path to zero on World AIDS Day, available here. You can find the annual World AIDS Day Booklet on the AFAO website here and AFAO’s annual snapshot of the profile of HIV in Australia, HIV in Australia 2023 here.

Beyond the C to eliminate hepatitis C

Be a part of Beyond the C and help eliminate hepatitis C.

Beyond the C is part of a National hepatitis C 50,000 Project to find 50,000 people living with hepatitis C who have not accessed treatment, support and care.

The Australasian Society for HIV Medicine (ASHM) is calling on people working in general practice across Australia to join the Beyond the C program to help identify, support and enhance people’s wellbeing, and eliminate hepatitis C.

Beyond the C is a national partnership program with general practices to find people living with hepatitis C to treat, cure and connect them with care.

You can REGISTER for the National Program Launch of Beyond the C click here.

Special guests will include Dr Jacqui Richmond (EC Australia), Carrie Fowlie (Hepatitis Australia), and Elena Donaghy, Joe Staniszewski and Daniel Hunt (DYHS).

Date: Wednesday 7 December 2022 

7:00pm – 9:00pm AEDT (NSW, ACT, VIC, TAS)

5:30pm – 7:30pm ACST (NT)

6:00pm – 8:00pm AEST (QLD)

6:30pm – 8:30pm ACDT (SA)

4:00pm – 6:00pm AWST (WA)

 You can view a flyer about the national launch of Beyond the C here.

Pointed questions about research, ethics and the law

Research ethics and research misconduct, Indigenous Data Sovereignty, socioecological justice, and harmful treatments were among wide-ranging topics up for discussion at the recent Australasian Association of Bioethics and Health Law 2022 Conference in nipaluna/Hobart last month.

Topics covered at the conference included:

  • whether research ethics committees are still fit for purpose
  • how health issues can increase the risk of youth reoffending
  • an analysis of the relationship between consumer law and negligence
  • ethical and legal complexities with consent when undertaking research
  • the key role of data monitoring committees in clinical trials
  • what Australian health law is and what it’s for
  • how data can be better used for advocating positive change, especially for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health
  • Monitored Emergency Use of Unregistered and Experimental Intervention (MEURI)
  • who is responsible for published studies with falsified data
  • ethical issues associated with adaptive machine learning systems
  • organ donation following voluntary assisted dying
  • theory and practice of precedent in research ethics committee review
  • the lack of any mechanism in Australia to hold Human Research Ethic Committees to account

To view the Croakey Health Media article Raising some pointed questions about research, ethics and the law in full click here.

Strong community response to monkeypox

The World Health Organization (WHO) announced this week that following consultations with global experts, a new name for monkeypox virus is recommended. The new preferred term is mpox – WHO advise that both names will be used for the next year while “monkeypox” is phased out. According to the WHO, “when the outbreak of monkeypox expanded earlier this year, racist and stigmatising language online, in other settings and in some communities was observed and reported to WHO.”

A spokesperson from NACCHO said they have been involved in the mpox response from the earliest stages, including participation in the National MPX Taskforce and through the Blood Borne Viruses and Sexually Transmissible Infections Standing Committee.

“As part of our work supporting the ACCHO sector we have shared updates and information with member services, delivered a monkeypox webinar for member services and produced monkeypox resources for ACCHOs to use in their clinics and with communities,” they said. “Monkeypox remains rare in Australia and there has been only a very small number (less than five) of cases among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.”

To view the Croakey Health Media article Strong community mobilisation: how Australia is responding to monkeypox (mpox) in full click here.

Photo: Dado Ruvic. Image source: Reuters.

Criminal age of 12 still too young

Aboriginal groups have given conditional support to the NT government’s decision to increase the age of criminal responsibility from 10 to 12 years old, but argue children are often still too young to be in detention. The NT is the first jurisdiction in the country to raise the age of criminal responsibility. The move follows longstanding calls by Indigenous advocates, human rights experts and lawyers to raise the age to at least 14.

Aboriginal Peak Organisations NT (APO NT)welcomed the reforms and said breaking the cycle of offending and ending the over-representation of Indigenous children in custody required complex solutions. “The revolving door of repeated incarceration is not working and does not improve community safety,” its statement said. “We want to see responsive action, centred on addressing the risk factors for crime, because this leads to better outcomes for everyone.” But the group, which brings together a coalition of Aboriginal peak bodies including justice and health groups, are continuing to push for the age of criminal responsibility to be increased to 14 years old. “Now that this has been achieved, APO NT commits to working with the government to eventually raise age of criminal responsibility to 14 years of age,” said Dr John Paterson, a spokesperson with the group.

The North Australian Aboriginal Justice Agency said the reform was a welcome “momentous first step” and is calling for further investments into community programs for young people and families. “The cost of imprisoning one child costs the taxpayers roughly $4,600 a day,” its acting CEO, Mark Munnich, said. “The government needs to redirect these funds to better resource community-led organisations and initiatives to provide holistic services to improve outcomes.”

To view The Guardian article Indigenous groups welcome Northern Territory raising criminal age but say 12 still too young in full click here.

The NT government has lifted the age of criminal responsibility from 10 to 12 – a move Aboriginal organisations welcomed while wanting it raised further. Photo: Luoman/Getty Images. Image source: The Guardian.

Winnunga News – November 2022 edition

Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health & Community Services (Winnunga) have released the November 2022 edition of their Winnunga News newsletter. In this edition Winnunga CEO Julie Tongs OAM gives an update on the lack of progress that has been made in response to the concerns she raised with government over two years ago about “the crisis in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander contact with the justice system and the level of Indigenous incarceration in the ACT.”

Other topics covered in the Winnunga News November 2022 edition include:

  • What do Nurse Practitioners do at Winnunga?
  • Alexander Maconochie Centre (AMC) Health and Wellbeing Service Survey
  • New advocate for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children and Youth takes the reigns in ACT
  • Winnunga AMC Health and Wellbeing Clinic – an Australian first
  • ACT least affordable jurisdiction for renters on low incomes
  • Official opening of new Winnunga building along with Community Day – Saturday 3 December 2022
  • Children’s Christmas Party – Saturday 10 December 2022
  • COVID-19 Update
  • Staff Profile – Sharon Ingram – Assistant Practice Manager

You can access the Winnunga News newsletter – November 2022 edition here.

Sector Jobs

Sector Jobs – you can see sector job listings on the NACCHO website here.

Advertising Jobs – to advertise a job vacancy click here to go to the NACCHO website Current job listings webpage. Scroll down to the bottom of the page to find a Post A Job form. You can complete this form with your job vacancy details – it will then be approved for posting and go live on the NACCHO website.

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: The Family Matters Report 2022

The Family Matters Report 2022 released by SNAICC

“The statistics in the Family Matters Report 2022 tell a grim story! Our children continue to be over-represented in out-of-home care, and the trend is increasing. But we know what it takes to turn this tide. The evidence is there. Our communities and organisations have the answers. We need the commitments from governments to make it happen,” taken from post on SNAICC’s social media.

Family Matters reports examine what governments are doing to turn the tide on over-representation and the outcomes for our children. They also highlight Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander-led solutions and call on governments to support and invest in the strengths of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to lead on child wellbeing, development and safety responses for our children.

This year’s Family Matters report is the third to be published following the development of the new National Agreement on Closing the Gap (the National Agreement), which was entered into in July 2020. Under the
National Agreement, governments across the country committed to make decisions in genuine partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and organisations; to invest in our community-controlled services; to transform government agencies and non-Indigenous services into culturally safe organisations; and to develop data and monitor outcomes in partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. The National Agreement also committed specifically to reducing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children’s over-representation in out-of-homecare by 45% by the year 2031, a target well aligned to the Family Matters campaign’s call to eliminate overrepresentation by 2040.

Read more details and download the report here.

Four Corners release on dismal failures of youth detention policy

Over 130 pages it spells out the dismal failures of youth detention policy in Australia — a country that continues to lock up primary school-age children in the face of evidence that incarceration only leads to more crime.

Prepared for the Council of Attorneys-General with input from state, territory and Commonwealth justice departments, as well as 93 public submissions, the report was finalised in 2020.

ABC Four Corners, as part of an investigation into ongoing abuses within youth detention, has obtained a report of the Council of Attorneys-General review examining the age of criminal responsibility.

At times the language is academic. At times it’s blunt. The recommendation is clear: no child below the age of 14 should be prosecuted for

“The Commonwealth, State and Territory governments should raise the minimum age of criminal responsibility to 14 years of age, without exception,” the report says — a conclusion supported by the majority of justice departments around the country.

Australia is one of the only developed countries in the world to prosecute and detain children as young as 10. The global average is 14. What’s commonplace in this country, is prohibited by nations including Russia and China.

The United Nations has repeatedly condemned Australia’s position.

To read the full story click here.

Photo: Matt Davidson. Image source: WAtoday.

Research finds many Australians ignore Covid-19 warnings despite spike in cases

As a string of new Covid-19 warnings ramp up across the country, a research survey conducted by Pfizer Australia found 60 per cent of Australians believed Covid-19 was a thing of the past.

The data compares community sentiment to how Australians were feeling a year ago when Covid-19 was rampant across the states and territories, borders were shut and many people were in and out of lockdown.

The research also found 61 per cent of people were less concerned about the impact of Covid-19 in their community, while about 46 per cent felt less concerned about their personal risk of serious illness.

Health experts have urged people to work from home where they can.

University of Sydney infectious diseases specialist and paediatrician Robert Booy said complacency during the current wave was concerning.

“Protection against Covid-19 infection requires several steps, including ensuring your vaccinations are up to date, practising Covid-safe behaviours and ensuring if you do test positive to Covid, you act fast by talking to your GP to learn if antiviral medicines are right for you,” Professor Booy said.

Reconciliation Australia’s barometer report shows greater levels of racism than 2020

Reconciliation Australia has released the biennial Barometer report, which takes the temperature of relationships between First Nations people and the broader community.

Reconciliation Australia chief executive Karen Mundine says the report is an important tool to track progress.

“The report has been going since 2008 and we run it every two years, just so we get a picture a snapshot of what’s going on at that moment,” she said.

  • 93% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people (95% in 2020)and 89% of Australians in the general community (91% in 2020) feel our relationship is important.
  • Nearly all Australians (93%) want Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to have a say in their own affairs,
  • 80% of the general community (86% in 2020) and
  • 86% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people (91% in 2020) believe it is important to establish a representative Indigenous Body.
  • Support for a national First Nations representative body remains strong with 83% general community and 87% Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
  • More Australians than ever before back a Treaty with 72% of non-Indigenous Australians now supporting a treaty – up from 53% in 2020.
  • A majority believe it is important to undertake formal truth-telling processes in relation to Australia’s shared history – 83% general community and 87% Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people
  • 63% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples said they trusted non-Indigenous people they have not interacted with, and non-Indigenous people felt the same way.
  • Trust levels rise steeply when people have social contact: 86% of non-Indigenous people expressing trust in First Nations people and 79% of First Nations trusting non-Indigenous people.
  • 80% of the general community support ANZAC Day ceremonies to honour First Nations and non-Indigenous soldiers.
  • 70% of the general community support the establishment of a national day of significance that celebrates First Nations histories and cultures.
  • 60% of First Nations peoples have experienced at least one form of racial prejudice in the past 6 months (52% in 2020, 43% in 2018). This compares with 25% of non-Indigenous people.
“This latest survey provides evidence that support for reconciliation and the Uluru Statement from the Heart remains strong,” said Reconciliation Australia CEO Karen Mundine. “As does mutual trust between First Nations people and non-Indigenous Australians.
“Of particular interest is the steep rise in trust when both groups surveyed by the ARB have a social connection with the other group.
“However, these percentages rise significantly when the respondents were asked the same question about people with whom they had interacted with. Trust levels rose to 86% of non-Indigenous people expressing trust in First Nations people and 79% of First Nations trusting non-Indigenous people.
“These rising levels of trust augur well for change, as we head towards the national referendum on The Voice to Parliament.
“This Barometer continues a long-standing trend of overwhelming support for a national representative Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander body and the comprehensive telling (and teaching) of Australia’s true colonial history.”
Voice, Treaty, Truth.”
Read the full story here.

Image source: ABC Kimberley

Hearing Australia’s action plan to halve the rate of hearing loss in First Nations children by 2029

The most recent National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey found 30 per cent of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander school-aged children had a measured hearing loss in one or both ears.

Chronic otitis media, a middle ear infection and inflammation, is far more frequent in Indigenous children with one in three experiencing the disease.

The Hearing Australia Action Plan for Improving Ear Health and Hearing Outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children is all about activities that prevent hearing loss and collaboration with local Aboriginal communities.

Hearing Australia acting national manager stakeholder relations, First Nations services unit and Wiradjuri woman Sherilee McManus, who is based in Maitland, said the action plan is incredibly important because when kids are starting school and have experienced hearing loss, they haven’t had as much of an opportunity to learn and grow.

Read the full story here.

In another ear health news: Australia’s National Children’s Commissioner Anne Hollonds has welcomed the Commonwealth Government’s new Early Years Strategy as an important step towards prioritising the wellbeing of Australia’s children.

Commissioner Hollonds said: “The Early Years Strategy will be an opportunity for cross-portfolio systems reform, recognising that children and their families do not exist in one policy silo. Rather, their needs stretch across numerous portfolios including health, education, social services, Indigenous affairs, and others.”

Read the full story here.

Dr Kelvin Kong. Photo: Simone De Peak. Image source: RACGP news GP.

Support for high-risk groups after stillbirth and miscarriage

The Hon Ged Kearney MP

Assistant Minister for Health and Aged Care

The Australian Government is providing greater support to ease the heartbreak of stillbirth and miscarriage among higher-risk groups.

From today, $5.1 million is available in grants to organisations that can provide high quality, evidence-based bereavement care nationally for women and families who have experienced stillbirth or miscarriage.

Groups that are at higher risk of stillbirth or miscarriage include First Nations, culturally and linguistically diverse, refugee and migrant communities, as well as women and families living in rural and remote Australia and women and girls younger than 20 years of age.

Every day in Australia, six babies are stillborn and two die within 28 days of birth, equating to around 3,000 perinatal deaths per year. Up to 1 in 5 confirmed pregnancies end in miscarriage before 20 weeks.

Grants are open to organisations that can develop and deliver holistic and individualised bereavement care for women and families in the target population groups across Australia.

Read the full article here.

Youth yarn about how to get over the shame of STI testing 

This video released by YoungDeadlyFree is for youth with the voices of youth!

Shame is something that can stop us from doing the things we need to do to look after our health. However, shame is something that our mob overcome on a daily basis. This video explores how a range of different young people have overcome shame when it comes to taking charge of their sexual health. Get inspired, get motivated and #gettested 

Sector Jobs

Sector Jobs – you can see sector job listings on the NACCHO website here.

Advertising Jobs – to advertise a job vacancy click here to go to the NACCHO website Current job listings webpage. Scroll down to the bottom of the page to find a Post A Job form. You can complete this form with your job vacancy details – it will then be approved for posting and go live on the NACCHO website.


NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Registrations OPEN – 2022 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander HIV Awareness Week Virtual TRIVIA

Registrations OPEN: 2022 ATSIHAW Virtual TRIVIA 

Inviting all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community Controlled Health Services (ACCHOs) staff and other organisations supporting ACCHOs to join us in this year’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander HIV Awareness Week (ATSIHAW) Virtual Trivia on Thursday 8 December 2022.

Loads of prizes up for grabs for your team and sexual health resources for your ACCHOs……entertainment priceless!

REGISTER NOW! Early bird registrations get rewarded! First 10 teams to register will receive a free lunch (value $20pp up to 5 people per team)

Trivia Times:
• 1pm – WA
• 2.30pm – NT
• 3pm – QLD
• 3.30pm – SA
• 4pm – NSW, ACT, TAS, VIC


*Only one person from each team needs to register for their team.

Each year, ATSIHAW provides an opportunity for conversations about HIV in our communities to increase education and awareness, prevention and treatment, the importance of regular testing and to reduce stigma. In 2022, NACCHO are co-hosting the ATSIHAW Virtual Trivia alongside the University of Queensland’s Poche Centre for Indigenous Health.

Sexual health-themed costumes and props are highly encouraged – there will be prizes for the best dressed! Keep it classy!

Background: The ‘U and Me Can Stop HIV’ campaign was created in collaboration, led by Professor James Ward currently at the University of Queensland’s Poche Centre for Indigenous Health (previously with the South Australia Health and Medical Research Institute).

Each year coinciding with World AIDS Day on 1 December, Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander HIV Awareness Week (ATSIHAW) is held nationally to continue conversations about HIV in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Communities. ATSIHAW was launched in 2014 with support from the Australian Government Department of Health and has been run annually ever since. The ongoing theme for ATSIHAW is: ‘U and Me Can Stop HIV’ further promoting the importance of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health being in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander hands!

For more details on ATISHAW’s history click here.

If you have any questions please contact us at

Danila Dilba diversion connects young people with their victims in effort to stop reoffending

A local diversion program is reducing reoffending by forcing young people to hear from their victims. Read how the program is reducing youth crime.

Bringing children face-to-face with their victims has proven to decrease their chances of reoffending, according to an Aboriginal health provider.

Danila Dilba Health Service runs a holistic diversion program that has a 76 per cent completion rate.

The Aboriginal health provider was contracted by the NT government to run diversion and primary care inside Don Dale Youth Detention after the Royal Commission into the Protection and Detention of Children recommended young people be exposed to culturally-appropriate services.

Chief executive Rob McPhee said the program started in 2020 and involved taking young people into the hospital to see the impacts of trauma, while also putting support services around both the child and family.

“We’ve had 50 young people participate in the program and 38 of them have completed it,” Mr McPhee said.

“We get really positive feedback from the young people and from families and where possible, we try to include the victims of their crime as well so that the young people hear from victims that are affected by their behaviour.”

Read the full story released in NT News here.


Image source: NT News

AMA calls on NT legislators and all jurisdictions to raise the age of criminal responsibility

The Australian Medical Association has called on the Northern Territory government and all Australian governments to stop putting children in jail.

The Northern Territory is set to pass legislation which will see the age of criminal responsibility in the Territory rise from 10-years-old to 12, however the AMA says the changes do not go far enough and the minimum age for incarceration should be 14 years old.

President of the AMA Professor Steve Robson said the Northern Territory law will still allow children in primary school and in their first year of high school to be placed in jails like the Don Dale Youth Detention Facility.

“The AMA urges Northern Territory legislators to listen to the experts and not turn their backs on this issue. The health advice is clear, kids aged 12 and 13 should not be held criminally responsible. The job will not be done until the minimum age is raised to 14 years,” Professor Robson said.

“Our position is informed by medical evidence — jail is no place for children. It offers limited rehabilitation opportunities and has serious adverse impacts on child development and mental and emotional wellbeing. There are alternatives.”

AMA Northern Territory President, Associate Professor Robert Parker, said the AMA was also calling on the Northern Territory Government to close the Don Dale Youth Detention Facility.

Read the AMA full media release here.

two Aboriginal youths in Darwin Don Dale Juvenile Prison

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

Two great scholarships honouring two incredible women 

Aunty Angela Clarke (Grad Cert)…/n/angela-clarkescholarship

Aunty Joan Vickery (Masters)…/aunty-joan-vickery…

Aunty Angela Clarke worked as the Koori Hospital Liaison Officer at the Royal Children’s Hospital and later was the Deputy Director of the VicHealth Koori Health Research Unit (Onemda). Her contribution to Aboriginal health was transformative, pioneering new models of community participation in research and embedding culturally responsive clinical practice for Indigenous patients.

Aunty Joan Vickery’s impressive leadership and advocacy over many decades improved Indigenous health outcomes and delivery of services across Victoria. Helping to establish the Ngwala Willumbong Co-operative in 1975 – which continues to deliver outreach services to Aboriginal people affected by substance abuse – she later worked to improve understanding of diabetes among Indigenous families as the first Aboriginal Liaison Officer at St Vincent’s Hospital through rolling out a series of programs and support networks.

For more information visit the University of Melbourne website here.

High school students throughout Cairns can fast-track into a career in healthcare

High school students throughout Cairns can fast track into a career in healthcare with the launch of a $1.4m state-of-the-art medical precinct at Bentley Park College.

There are critical workforce shortages in Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services across the nation as well as a broader shortage of health care workers and Bentley Park College Principal Bruce Houghton said 40 per cent of students were of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander descent.

“The student response has been outstanding – by completing their certificate courses they can go on to do their diploma at TAFE or go on to nursing at university or become a medical practitioner, a paramedic or a doctor,” Mr Houghton said.

Students can complete certificate two and three courses as well as an assistant in nursing qualification at the precinct, while students from other schools can jump in on school holidays and gain the same qualifications.

Mr Houghton said data in 2020 showed that a lot of Bentley Park graduates were going into medical work.

To read the full story released in the Daily Telegraph click here.

Source: Daily Telegraph

AMSANT Annual Report 2021–2022

AMSANT is staying flexible and moving fast to meet the growing primary healthcare needs of Aboriginal people in the Northern Territory.

AMSANT’s support of Member Services and community controlled health, and their leadership in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, is outlined in our new Annual Report that you can view here.

If you have any queries or feedback email:

Sector Jobs

Sector Jobs – you can see sector job listings on the NACCHO website here.

Advertising Jobs – to advertise a job vacancy click here to go to the NACCHO website Current job listings webpage. Scroll down to the bottom of the page to find a Post A Job form. You can complete this form with your job vacancy details – it will then be approved for posting and go live on the NACCHO website.


NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Indigenous perspectives of planetary health

The image in the feature tile is artwork by Yaegl artist Frances Belle Parker, who explained the symbolism of her artwork: the gum leaf shape, when upright, can also represent a flame. Inside the leaf is an aerial mapping of the Clarence River, the river is one that connects all people of the Clarence Valley. The dots represent people and the stripes represent the resilience embedded into us as people. The yellow dashes represent the bushfires which have caused havoc in the region, the green represents the replenishing and the new growth of nature. Image source: Monash University article Indigenous knowledge at the heart of planetary health published on the Monash Sustainable Development Institute webpage on 1 July 2022.

Indigenous perspectives of planetary health

The 2022 United Nations Climate Change Conference, more commonly referred to as Conference of the Parties of the UNFCCC, or COP27, is being held from 6–18 November 2022 as the 27th United Nations (UN) Climate Change conference. This year marks the 30th anniversary of the adoption of the UNs Framework Convention on Climate Change. In the thirty years since, the world has come a long way in the fight against climate change and its negative impacts on our planet; we are now able to better understand the science behind climate change, better assess its impacts, and better develop tools to address its causes and consequences.

Indigenous Peoples have resiliently weathered continued assaults on their sovereignty and rights throughout colonialism and its continuing effects. Indigenous Peoples’ sovereignty has been strained by the increasing effects of global environmental change within their territories, including climate change and pollution, and by threats and impositions against their land and water rights.

This continuing strain against sovereignty has prompted a call to action to conceptualise the determinants of planetary health from a perspective that embodies Indigenous-specific methods of knowledge gathering from around the globe. A group of Indigenous scholars, practitioners, land and water defenders, respected Elders, and knowledge-holders came together to define the determinants of planetary health from an Indigenous perspective. Three overarching levels of interconnected determinants, in addition to ten individual-level determinants, were identified as being integral to the health and sustainability of the planet, Mother Earth.

To view The Lancet article The determinants of planetary health: an Indigenous consensus perspective in full click here.

Photo: Nicolas Rakotopare. Image source: Threatened Species Recovery Hub website.

SWAMSmob digital health platform wins award

SWAMSmob app, a digital health platform designed specifically for the South West Aboriginal Medical Service (SWAMS) and their patients is the annual Curtinnovation Awards Faculty of Health Sciences winner. The app enables SWAMS patients to access telehealth and health promotion information 24-hours a day. It provides another way for SWAMS to engage and connect with the Aboriginal residents and promote wellbeing, by enabling GPs and Aboriginal healthcare workers to provide individual or group health consultations.

The app is novel in that it has been programmed for Aboriginal identity and cultural practices as well as health features. For example, the app accommodates ‘men only’ and ‘women only’ spaces. Importantly, the app will also help to increase digital literacy and technology education among Aboriginal users. Overall, the technology helps SWAMS to transform be more prepared for health challenges and to help Close the Gap.

To view the Curtin University article Alzheimer’s discovery crowned overall Curtinnovation winner in full click here.

Ieramaguadu woman uses FASD diagnosis to help mob

For 43-year-old Ieramagadu (Roebourne) woman Rachel Sampson, her diagnosis of foetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) opened the door to work and putting smiles on the faces of mob in the Pilbara. After accessing the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) via Mawarnkarra Health Service, Ms Sampson took on the role of an NDIS community connector.

FASD can cause a range of complications to those exposed to alcohol in the womb. For Ms Sampson, difficulties concentrating and being easily distracted have been a factor in life. Now difficulties once endured to find work have shifted to a new confidence in her knack for brightening others’ days, travelling around Ieramagadu, Wickham and Karratha to assist people living with disabilities with their everyday needs and tasks. “I feel very proud of it,” Ms Sampson said. “I really feel that I’ve found my purpose to help others. It was nerve-wracking when I first started, but with love and support, with these guys I found my confidence.

To view the National Indigenous Times article The Roebourne foetal alcohol disorder sufferer turning disability into opportunity for local mob in full click here.

Ieramagadu (Roebourne) woman Rachel Sampson. Image supplied by: Regen Strategic. Image source: National Indigenous Times.

Non-Indigenous world views still inform health research

While Indigenous health research is often following guidelines aimed at ensuring Indigenous participation and governance, much of the research is still largely based on non-Indigenous world views, according to Australian researchers. Researchers conducted a survey of about 250 people involved in Indigenous research,to find out how frequently the National Health and Medical Research Council’s (NHMRC) ethics guidelines for Indigenous health and medical research were being followed. They say while the non-compulsory guidelines were seeing widespread use, Indigenous health research is still largely informed by non-Indigenous world views, led by non-Indigenous people, and undertaken in non-Indigenous organisations.

According to the researchers the fundamental question raised by the survey was “how can Indigenous health research benefit Indigenous people without meaningful oversight and participation by Indigenous people?” The survey findings suggest that barriers to translating the NHMRC guidelines into research practice remain,” they wrote. “These include inadequate levels of education about applying the guidelines, the history of Indigenous health research in Australia, and Indigenous governance and data sovereignty. Most importantly, we found that Indigenous governance and participation was inadequate at each stage of research. Re-orientation and investment are needed to give control of the framing, design, and conduct of Indigenous health research to Indigenous people.”

To view the Medical Journal of Australia media release Indigenous Health Research: governance by Indigenous organisations vital in full click here.

Aboriginal doctor and researcher Professor Alex Brown is leading a five-year $5m project to advance the benefits from Genomic Medicine for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Image source: John Curtin School of Medical Research, ANU.

Kimberley urgently needs youth suicide action

A suicide in Fitzroy Crossing has sparked renewed calls for urgent action to address mental health needs among young people in the Kimberley. The recent death came two weeks after an attempted suicide by another young person. Local businessman Patrick Green said the blackout occurred after a young boy who had repeatedly sought medical attention attempted to take his own life.

WA Mental Health Commission’s operations acting deputy commissioner Ann Marie Cunniffe said Fitzroy Crossing Hospital provided 24/7 access to mental health support through drug and alcohol teams, psychiatrists and telehealth services. “Nurses and doctors at Fitzroy Crossing Hospital also work with Aboriginal liaison officers to provide cultural support and ensure care is culturally appropriate,” she said. Ms Cunniffe said the Kimberley Aboriginal Youth Wellbeing Steering Committee has been established to support Aboriginal community-led solutions to improve Aboriginal youth wellbeing.

The Committee facilitates implementation of the 86 recommendations identified in the State Coroner’s 2019 Inquest, among other measures. Ms Cunniffe said Aboriginal-led solutions and cultural understanding and respect were guiding principles of the approach. “The Commission funds regional Community Liaison Officers across the State, including the Kimberley,” she said. “These positions are employed by ACCHOs as they have the strongest understanding of their region, knowledge of appropriate cultural considerations and local issues.”

To view the National Indigenous Times article Youth suicide sparks renewed call for urgent action in the Kimberley in full click here.

Patrick Green, Photo: Giovanni Torre. Image source: National Indigenous Times.

Chlamydia prevention and management

14 years on from a call for innovative chlamydia screening programs to reduce the high rates of notifications in Australia at the time, chlamydia remains as the country’s most notified bacterial sexually transmissible infection (STI). Most new chlamydia infections are occurring among young people aged 15–29 years. An important exception is that notification rates appear to be falling in women under 25 years old, for whom chlamydia testing rates have plateaued and positivity among those tested is declining.

In addition to people with female reproductive organs and young people aged 15–29 years, chlamydia is also disproportionately high among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, people living in remote and very remote areas, those with greater socio‐economic disadvantage, and among gay and bisexual men. People who are pregnant are also a priority population, where chlamydia infection is associated with miscarriage, stillbirth, preterm birth, low birth weight, and postpartum infections in the mother and/or newborn. Once treated, an individual may become reinfected, contributing to further potential transmission and increasing the risk of morbidity in the form of pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), ectopic pregnancies, infertility, and chronic pelvic pain. Chlamydia remains a significant public health issue in Australia, with the search for novel prevention and management strategies ongoing.

To reduce the burden of disease from chlamydia in Australia, comprehensive follow‐up of cases and contacts to reduce the risk of complications is required. When chlamydia is detected, retesting at 3 months for reinfection and performing thorough partner tracing and management can help interrupt transmission and reduce the risk of reinfection and reproductive complications. Further studies investigating the timing of testing and treatment of chlamydia infections on the progression to reproductive complications will help guide public health strategies to further reduce the burden of chlamydia in Australia.

To view the Medical Journal of Australia article Chlamydia prevention and management in Australia: reducing the burden of disease in full click here.

Chlamydia bacteria. Image source: Medicine Plus website.

Sector Jobs

Sector Jobs – you can see sector job listings on the NACCHO website here.

Advertising Jobs – to advertise a job vacancy click here to go to the NACCHO website Current job listings webpage. Scroll down to the bottom of the page to find a Post A Job form. You can complete this form with your job vacancy details – it will then be approved for posting and go live on the NACCHO website.