NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Diabetes burden still impacting mob

Image in feature tile by Tom Joyner, ABC Goldfields showing patient hooked up to dialysis machine.

Diabetes burden still impacting mob

Diabetes is the fastest growing chronic disease condition globally. Type 2 diabetes has reached epidemic proportions, with the greatest burden falling on socially disadvantaged groups and Indigenous peoples. The Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet’s latest Review of diabetes among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people focuses primarily on type 2 diabetes among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

The high levels of type 2 diabetes in many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities reflect a broad range of historical, social and cultural determinants, and the contribution of lifestyle and other health risk factors. It provides general information on the social and cultural context of diabetes, and the behavioural and biomedical factors that contribute to diabetes among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. There is growing concern regarding the emergence of type 2 diabetes in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and adolescents.

The review includes information about incidence and prevalence data; hospitalisations; mortality and burden of disease; the prevention and management of diabetes; relevant programs, services, policies and strategies that address the health issue of diabetes among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

To view a summary of the review in plain language, a one-page factsheet and a short animated video below of the key points from the review you click here.

AH&MRC wins governance award

Last night Reconciliation Australia, the Australian Indigenous Governance Institute, and the BHP Foundation proudly announced the winners of the 2022 Indigenous Governance Awards. The Awards share and promote success from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and organisations around Australia.

CEO of Reconciliation Australia, Karen Mundine said that following a rigorous judging process, the Aboriginal Health & Medical Research Council (AH&MRC) Human Research Ethics Committee based in Sydney was named the winner of Category 1 – Outstanding examples of Governance in Indigenous led non-incorporated initiatives. The AH&MRC is the peak body for Aboriginal controlled health services in NSW and the Ethics Committee helps ensure that Aboriginal people are at the centre of Aboriginal health research. “The Ethics Committee helps ensure that Aboriginal people are at the centre of Aboriginal health research, and provides an Aboriginal lens to make sure that research is conducted ethically and in a culturally safe way,” Committee Co-chair, Dr Summer May Finlay said.

To view the Reconciliation Australia article in full click here and watch a video about the AH&MRC Human Research Ethics Committee below.

Missing piece of chronic pain puzzle

The patient experience isn’t what we thought it was, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health research is showing us better ways to treat it. An important factor has been missing in the assessment of pain, according to Dr Manasi Murthy Mittinty who practices at the Pain Management Research Institute at the Royal North Shore Hospital.

“More and more research shows us that we need to take a biopsychosocial approach to managing pain,” she says. “It is very much a person-centered approach. ‘One size fits all’ doesn’t work for pain.” Dr Mittinty’s pain research has taken her around the world including studies with patients from India, First Nations people from Appalachia in the United States and with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people from SA. She says culture and spirituality are missing aspects in the conventional assessment and treatment of pain.

Dr Mittinty has some helpful tips for GPs, including a new understanding of conventional pain assessment scales. “Most of the pain measurement we use clinically and research has never been adapted for Indigenous communities. The questions we pose to the patient do not always relate to, or reflect, their lived experiences,” she says.

You can listen to the Medical Republic podcast A missing piece of the chronic pain puzzle here.

Image source: Medical Republic website.

Greg Inglis on mental health

He’s one of the greatest rugby league players of all time, but when football injuries put him on the bench Greg Inglis’ mental health started to slip. Former NRL player and Dhungutti man, Greg Inglis has been running the Goanna Academy the first accredited and Indigenous-owned mental health organisation in Australia. The Goanna Academy was designed to help end the stigma surrounding mental health and improve social capacity to identify, talk about, and manage mental health for all Australians – in particular at risk groups such as Regional Males, Youth, and First Nations communities.

The Goanna Academy (est. 2020) is representative of Greg’s life after football – showing his commitment to giving back to the community and improving the mental health outcomes of Australians. The Academy gives Greg the opportunity to share his personal journey and own battles with mental illness with the ambition to inspire and influence others – especially within his own culture, the Indigenous community.

You can listen to the Greg Inglis’ interview with Fi Poole on ABC Coffs Coast radio here. You can also access the Goanna Academy website here.

Poor food choices – a colonisation legacy

The ongoing impacts of colonisation complicates healthy diets and relationships to food for First Nations people in semi-regional areas, a new study has found. The Sax Institute study tapped into local Aboriginal medical services in Western Sydney and Wagga Wagga, where it found food security concerns were not just an issue in remote Aboriginal communities. “Often people when they think of food insecurity, maybe they think of the more extreme food insecurity where people are starving,” said Wotjobaluk woman and lead author of the  study Simone Sherriff.

Ms Sherriff said fast food was often favoured over healthy options, which caused a direct link between financial disadvantage and weight gain, obesity and chronic disease. “A family spoke about how they’ve got so much going on in their lives and stress and things sometimes you just need to make sure the kids are fed,” she said. “That’s going down to the corner shop and getting $5 of hot chips.”

Ms Sherriff heard stories of taxis avoiding certain areas and difficulties with public transport limiting options when there was no family car. She said those accessing food relief services at times felt targeted for taking too much when trying to provide for extended family. Some were also deterred by the lasting impact of the Stolen Generations. “People are really afraid to go and tell a white organisation I’ve run out of food, I can’t afford to feed my family, can you help me,” Ms Sherriff said. “(They are) just so fearful to tell people because they’re worried their kids will be taken.”

To view the National Indigenous Times article How colonisation has left a legacy of poor food choices for First Nations people in full click here.

Nominate those making a difference 

The Purple House story began with paintings by Papunya Tula artists from Walungurru and Kiwirrikurra. Auctioned in 2000, these paintings raised more than $1 million to kick start a new model of care based on family, country and compassion. Since then, the Purple House has been making families well. An entirely Indigenous owned and operated service, Purple House offers remote dialysis, social support, aged care services and the NDIA and it runs a bush medicine social enterprise called Bush Balm.

Purple House has transformed Central Australia from having the worst to the best dialysis survival rates. For service to community health, remote area nursing and to the Indigenous community, CEO Sarah Brown has been appointed a Member of the Order of Australia.

People from all parts of Australia and all backgrounds are honoured and celebrated through the Order of Australia, but they all have one important thing in common – someone nominated them. All nominations are made by members of the Australian community. If you know someone who is making a positive difference in your community, your nomination could help celebrate them. Visit the Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia Australian Honours and Wards webpage here and complete a nomination form today.

To view the Australian Government Department of Health’s Award-winning healthcare for Western Desert communities webpage click here.

Sarah Brown AM, CEO Purple House. Image source: ABC News.

Stayin’ On Track resource for young dads

Stayin’ On Track is a collaborative community-based project, working with funding from Young and Well Co-operative Research Centre, the University of Newcastle NSW, and Microsoft. The website was created by a group of Aboriginal dads who got together and shared their experiences about fatherhood. They wanted to pass on useful information and tips to other young dads for support. The stories shared centre on themes about pride in being a father, tough times, culture, the emotions on finding out they would be a dad, feeling down, and who their role models are. Stayin’ On Track showcases some of these stories and aims to acknowledge dads who are doing great work and sharing their insights with other young dads.

You can visit the Stayin’ On Track website here and hear what other young dads have to say about the real stuff of fathering at a young age.

COVID-19 conference early bird registration due

The Australasian Society for HIV Medicine (ASHM) is hosting the 2nd Australasian COVID-19 Conference. This two-day face-to-face conference will be held at the Sheraton Grand Sydney Hyde Park from Thursday 21 to Friday 22 July 2022. The conference theme is “Taking stock of our COVID toolkit”: researchers from an array of disciplines, specialist clinicians, epidemiologists and community members have developed new and harnessed existing tools to comprehensively address prevention, treatment and management of COVID-19/SARS-COV-2 and evolving challenges presented.

Professor Sharon Lewin, AO, Director of the Peter Doherty Institute; Professor Allen Cheng, ID physician, epidemiologist/statistician, President ASIDANZ and Program Chair Associate Professor Edwina Wright, AM, of the Alfred Hospital and Monash University will convene the conference. The recently released program for the conference can be found here.

The early bird DEADLINE for registration is Sunday 12 June 2022. The early bird registration is a savings of $100 so it is worth getting in early. The registration fee also includes dinner on the first night of the conference as well as morning/afternoon tea and lunch each day.

New process for job advertising

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: National Agreement on CTG vital to making change

Image in the feature tile is of Pat Turner AM with A Report on Engagements with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People to Inform a New National Agreement on Closing the Gap in June 2020.

National Agreement on CTG vital to making change

Today, at the commencement of National Reconciliation Week Friday 27 May to June 2022, NACCHO CEO Pat Turner AM has issued the following media release :

National Agreement on Closing the Gap vital to making change

This National Reconciliation Week, Australians are challenged to be brave and make change. Members of the Coalition of Peaks have been doing change-making work in and for their communities for more than 50 years. The National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) which has a membership of 144 community-controlled health services in every jurisdiction of Australia is one of the key members of the Coalition of Peaks and strongly supports the National Agreement on Closing the Gap.

It was a desire to continue driving change that led the Coalition of Peaks – now a representative body of over 70 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled peak organisations– to enter a genuine, formal partnership with Australian governments to Close the Gap.

This historic partnership and associated National Agreement on Closing the Gap set out how governments and the Coalition of Peaks will change the way they work together, to improve the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. It also provides a framework for governments, policy makers, service delivery organisations and institutions, and all Australians, to take meaningful action towards reconciliation.

“A reconciled Australia is a country in which Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have full control over our own destinies. A country where we live freely and equally, unencumbered by trauma and poor life outcomes, and where there is true recognition of our rights as First Peoples of this land, and our cultures and languages are honoured, protected and flourish”, said Lead Convener of the Coalition of Peaks and CEO of NACCHO, Ms Pat Turner AM.

“The National Agreement can make real changes in the lives of our people, but we won’t get there without Australians understanding it and the part they play in its implementation.

“The National Agreement’s outcomes are centred on what Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have been saying for decades is needed to achieve equality in life outcomes between our people and other Australians, while strengthening our right to self-determination and identity as First Nations peoples.”

NACCHO Chair Donnella Mills said, “NACCHO has been working on this new National Agreement on Closing the Gap, as a member of the Coalition of Peaks. This agreement belongs to all of us!

“The National Agreement is built on four priority reforms to address ongoing critical issues around the social determinants of health such as housing, environment, access to health services, education, justice and others as the targets in there.

“We have worked with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities for decades on matters that are important to our people and are best placed to represent areas like health, early childhood, education, land and legal services.”

For those wanting to be brave and make change this National Reconciliation Week, the Coalition of Peaks is putting out the challenge to:

  • Become familiar with and learn about both the Partnership and National Agreements.
  • Support their implementation and promote them in your own organisation or business.
  • Encourage your community to become involved.
  • Talk to governments on how to apply the commitments under the Agreements to communities and organisations across the country.

You can view NACCHO’s media release National Agreement on Closing the Gap vital to making change here. You can also find out more about National Reconciliation Week on the Reconciliation Australia website here.

Completing unfinished business of reconciliation

For Ken Markwell, National Reconciliation Week from Friday 27 May to Friday 3 June 2022 is a time for Australians to learn about our shared history, culture and achievements – and to find ways we can contribute to achieving reconciliation. NRW is a time to reflect on how we as a country treat our Indigenous elders and the gaps and barriers that currently exist in Australia that prevent them from ageing well. It is widely accepted that how a society treats its elderly is a measure of its humanity. NRW provides an opportunity to consider our most vulnerable older Australians, our First Nations elders, and to measure our progress towards reconciliation by how well we care and look after them. This will be critical in the coming years when Stolen Generations survivors will be aged over 50 years and eligible for aged care support.”

This year’s theme “Be Brave. Make Change.” is a challenge to us all to be brave and complete the unfinished business of reconciliation so we can make change for all. There is no better place to address the unfinished business of reconciliation than to implement aged care reforms improving access to aged care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. The aged care royal commission expressed concerns that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people were not “accessing aged care at a rate commensurate with their level of need”.

The royal commission identified a range of factors for this, including social and economic disadvantage, a lack of culturally safe care, and the intergenerational impacts of colonisation and prolonged discrimination. Their findings also revealed that long-term health conditions affected 88 per cent of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people over the age of 55 years and that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people “should be receiving proportionately higher levels of aged and health care” than the rest of the population. Yet sadly, we find this is not happening.

To view the Australian Ageing Agenda article Completing the Unfinished business of reconciliation in full click here.

Ken Markwell is a Mununjhali man and executive general manager for indigenous services at Australian Unity. Image source: Australian Ageing Agenda.

‘They hug a blackie and move on’

Julie Tongs, CEO of Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health and Community Services, has characterised Canberra’s Reconciliation Day as “tokenistic”, highlighting that more needs to be done to address the treatment of Aboriginal people in the ACT. Ms Tongs has asked “How many people actually turn up for Reconciliation Day? Most of them jump in their car and go down to the coast for the weekend.” Tongs argues that Reconciliation Day – to be celebrated on Monday 30 May this year – is meaningless without greater action to address the ongoing issues facing indigenous people in Canberra. “For me it’s about actions and until the government and the wider community take Aboriginal issues seriously I think that reconciliation is a long way off,” says Tongs.

Tongs, who has worked in Aboriginal Affairs for more than 30 years, says there’s more to addressing the plight of indigenous people in the ACT than merely on one day of the year. “A friend of mine, [the late] Dr ‘Puggy’ Hunter – who was chair of NACCHO used to say ‘They turn up, they hug a blackie and they move on’.” “If we are fair dinkum then people need to turn out and turn up every day not just Reconciliation Day.”

To view the CBR City News article ‘They turn up, they hug a blackie and more on’ click here.

Julie Tongs… “It’s tokenistic. How many people actually turn up for Reconciliation Day? Most of them jump in their car and go down to the coast for the weekend.” Photo: Belinda Strahorn. Image source: CBR City News.

Chance to put children front and centre

With the formation of the newly elected Government imminent as seats are finalised, advocacy body Secretariat of National Aboriginal and Islander Child Care (SNAICC) – National Voice for our Children has expressed its satisfaction at the prominent positioning of early years issues in the campaigning, calling on the new Government to continue to make early learning education and care (ECEC) a priority.

CEO Catherine Liddle said SNAICC is looking forward to working with the new Government to progress much needed policy reform to ensure Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children have their needs and voices heard. While describing the elevation of early learning by both major parties and independents as heartening, Ms Liddle said more needed to be done to consider the unique needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families. “The current policies and systems just aren’t working for our families or our early leaning and support centres,” she explained.

To view The Sector article Formation of a new Government is a chance to put children front and centre: SNAICC in full click here.

Image source: The Indigenous Literacy Foundation.

Keynote for Dr Mickey Dewar oration

Pat Turner AM, CEO of NACCHO, will give the keynote address at National Archives of Australia’s biennial Dr Mickey Dewar oration. The oration will be held at NT Parliament House, Darwin from 5:30PM next Tuesday 31 May 2022, and streamed live from 6:00PM. National Archives’ Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Engagement Director Phyllis Williams said this year’s event, which is held during National Reconciliation Week, is an opportunity to learn about Indigenous matters and explore how each of us can contribute to reconciliation in Australia.

“The oration will bring together notable Indigenous figures Arrernte/Gurdanji woman Pat Turner and MC for the night Gurindji man Charlie King OAM. National Archives will also have key representatives attending the event, including new Director-General Simon Froude”, Ms Williams said. “The Dr Mickey Dewar oration is a not-to-be-missed event. This year’s discussion promises to be lively and engaging for anyone wishing to attend.”

Every second year, a speaker from the NTis invited to give an oration about the history, society or culture of the territory. Ms Turner was raised in Alice Springs and is at the forefront of community efforts to close the gap in health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Her talk will provide a fascinating insight into the challenges and achievements in relation to Indigenous issues. “I am delighted to be a part of such a prestigious and important event”, Ms Turner said. “With the impacts of the pandemic exposing critical issues in the healthcare system and Australia’s ongoing struggle to close the gap, now is the time to inspire change and action from all Australians.”

To view the National Archives of Australia media release Pat Turner AM to deliver keynote for 2022 Dr Mickey Dewar oration click here. You can book to attend this free event here.

The late Dr Mickey Dewar. Image source: Perth Now.

Asymptomatic STI testing research

Dr Simon Graham is an epidemiologist in the Department of Infectious Diseases at the Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity, University of Melbourne. He received the 2021 Sandra Eades Investigator Grant Award (Emerging Leadership) for his research which aims to increase opportunistic sexually transmitted infections (STI) testing to identify asymptomatic infections early so treatment is provided to prevent poor health outcomes.

Dr Graham said he had wanted to stay in the field of sexual health but gain specific academic skills via a Master of Applied Epidemiology at the ANU. Dr Graham said, “The bit I enjoy the most is the field work. Not surprising since one of the components of my master’s degree was investigating outbreaks. Whether its visiting Aboriginal Health Services to visiting prisons in regional Victoria, I have always felt the real work is out in the field connecting with others and listening to people who live in the local area about what they think could be a solution. My brain starts ticking at that point in how I can team up with that local community and test that idea or measure what that community just spoke about.

“I hope that my greatest contribution is to listen, connect, and deliver on what l promised. I aim to design things that communities can own and lead and most importantly keep after the project ends. For me the writing and statistics comes second to the ability to listen and connect. The COVID-19 pandemic has really highlighted this. Although l have won fellowships overseas, I have never planned for my work to have national or international relevance. I am focused on the relevance of the intervention for the communities I work with. Sometimes we are successful at highlighting that this intervention or program made a difference and then we can share it with other communities so they can succeed.”

To view the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) article Research excellence: Build grit and set out a plan in full click here.

Action needed to protect kids in detention

On Wednesday this week Amnesty International Australia issued a statement welcoming election pledges from the new Albanese Government on key human rights issues, and asking for swift action on 11 issues in the Government’s first 100 days, including raising the minimum age of criminal responsibility to at least 14 nationally, establishing a National Justice Reinvestment Unit, and implementing a process for real time national reporting of deaths in custody.

Another human rights issue for the incoming Government’s urgent attention is the 5-year delay in meeting out obligations under the United Nations Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (OPCAT), ratified by Australian in 2017. In an article published this week in Croakey Health Media Lindsay Pearce (University of Melbourne and Murdoch Children’s Research Institute), Andreea Lachsz (Victorian Aboriginal legal Service) and Tiffany Overall (Youthlaw) discuss why this delay is putting children and young people in Australian detention facilities at risk, and highlight the importance of consulting with ACCHOs on the implementation of our OPCAT obligations.

To view the Croakey Health Media article Australia must act now to protect children and young people in detention in full click here.

Image source: The Conversation.

New process for job advertising

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Mob more likely to die in car accidents

Mob more likely to die in car accidents

In a 2021 submission to the Joint Select Committee on Road Safety, the National Aboriginal Community Contorlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) found that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are 2.7 times more likely to die, and 1.4 times more likely to suffer serious injury because of a vehicle crash compared to other Australians.

Pat Turner, CEO of NACCHO says, ‘this year’s National Road Safety Week is an important reminder that significant and sustained action must be taken to improve road safety outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. The level of fatalities is unacceptable for our people. It is also unacceptable across the board for all Australians.’

In a 2021 policy submission, NACCHO outlines key recommendations for improving road safety outcomes for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community including, the need to fund Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations (ACCHOs) and other community-controlled organisations to develop and deliver targeted road safety campaigns to their local communities, and to provide post-accident and trauma care, including training, medicines, and equipment.

Other recommendations include, subsidising public transport options for regional and remote communities to reduce the need for people to drive when it is unsafe to do so; developing and implementing road safety programs, including those that target prevention and early intervention; and, ensuring that any road enforcement policies do not disproportionately impact Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

‘These recommendations must be addressed in genuine partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled organisations and local communities and made widely accessible,’ Pat Turner stated.

Donnella Mills, Chair of NACCHO further commented, ‘government must take immediate action to improve road safety outcomes and reduce fatalities and injuries for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in alignment with the National Agreement on Closing the Gap and the four Priority Reforms. These responses must be holistic and consider the social determinants of health.’

The policy submission can be accessed on the NACCHO website here and this media release here.

Image source: The Conversation.

Growing diabetes epidemic in remote NT

A new paper published this week shows rates of diabetes among Aboriginal people in remote NT communities are some of the highest in the world and getting worse—with the condition affecting more people, year after year. The research shows the prevalence of diabetes is currently 17% (of which 99% is classified as type 2 diabetes)—up from 14.4% recorded in 2012. When focusing on the adult population, the findings show a massive 29% of Aboriginal people in remote NT communities have diabetes, with the burden highest in the Central Australia region, where a staggering 40% of adults now have the condition. Diabetes is a leading contributor to kidney disease, heart disease, strokes, impaired vision and amputations due to infections.

The study analyses seven-years’ worth of health data relating to over 21,000 Aboriginal people from 51 remote communities across the NT. It was published in the online open access journal BMJ Open. Lead author Endocrinologist Dr. Matthew Hare said the burden of type 2 diabetes among Aboriginal people in remote communities of the NT is among the highest reported of any population globally, and there is an urgent need to introduce preventative strategies to address the crisis. “Type 2 diabetes is not due to ‘lifestyle choices.’ This epidemic is strongly related to the impacts of colonisation and the ongoing social and economic disadvantage experienced by many Aboriginal people in the remote NT.” “Holistic prevention strategies need to be developed and implemented in partnership with Aboriginal community members, alongside better resourcing of clinical care for chronic conditionsin remote communities,” Dr. Hare said.

To view the Medical Xpress article Growing diabetes epidemic in remote NT communities by Menzies School of Health Research click here.

Keen basketballer Kudin Brogan and her mum, Gemma Brogan, both live with diabetes. Photo: Michael Franchi, ABC News.

Dramatic increase in RHD funding needed

A dramatic increase in funding will be needed to eradicate a disease which stems from poverty in Australia’s Indigenous community, according to a leading paedeatrician. The federal government has committed to ending rheumatic heart disease (RHD) by 2030, but advocates are adamant the goal will not be met unless there’s a major increase in investment and a radical shift in the way overcrowding is tackled in remote communities.

The disease starts with repeated strep A infections which damage the heart over time, leading to serious illness and death. While the disease is no longer an issue in mainstream Australia, it disproportionately impacts Indigenous people, particularly women, in places like the Kimberley, NT and outback Queensland and SA, where overcrowding and poverty are entrenched. Experts warn the current trajectory of new diagnoses means more than 8,000 Indigenous people are expected to develop the disease in the next decade, leading to the deaths of about 600 people.

Commonwealth funding is largely targeted towards treatment, a task made difficult by cultural barriers and logistical challenges. Remote health workers and specialists who research the disease nationally say overcrowding and poverty among Indigenous Australians must be tackled meaningfully if the 2030 goal has any chance of being achieved.

To view the ABC News article Rheumatic heart disease funding needed to help Indigenous communities in full click here.

Curtis and Trey Brown travelled from Maningrida, NT, to Canberra in 2018 to raise political awareness of rheumatic heart disease. Photo: Josh Francis. Image source: ABC News.

Sign up to join the LIPPE family

The Leaders in Indigenous Pharmacy Profession Education (LIPPE) Network” is a partnership of the Australian Pharmacy Council, and the Council of Pharmacy Schools Australia and New Zealand. Under the leadership of Indigenous pharmacists, and in collaboration with other individuals and organisations, LIPPE will foster transformational change in the pharmacy workforce beginning with the recruitment and retention of students to the provision of care in practice settings.”

And “Sign up to join the LIPPE family – You will be part of a dynamic and growing community who are committed to making a difference through the work that pharmacists do. You will receive news on our progress, be invited to take part in events, including sharing your knowledge and expertise.”  You can watch a short video below of Wiradjiri woman Associate Professor Faye McMillan AM welcoming you to LIPPE, and find further information on the LIPPE Network website here.

New NT liquor laws process “shameful”

A coalition of peak Aboriginal and community bodies have ramped up their attack on the NT Government over its decision to allow booze to be sold in remote communities again for the first time in 15 years. The NT Government on Tuesday passed amendments to the Liquor Act allowing the sale of takeaway booze into hundreds of alcohol protected areas from mid-July. More than 200 remote communities and homelands will be able to decide for themselves whether they remain dry. About 100 will revert to old restrictions.

Aboriginal health, housing and justice organisations have panned the government’s lack of consultation before implementing the changes, arguing the move risked opening the floodgates to booze in remote communities. And now the Territory’s police union and council of social services have added their voices to the chorus of criticism, urging immediate consultation to avoid a looming booze-fuelled disaster. NT Police Association president Paul McCue said frontline police held “significant” concern about the reforms. “The passing of this legislation goes completely against what the Government claims to be achieving in relation to reducing alcohol-related harm,” he said. “Our already stretched resources will now undoubtedly suffer further strain, not to mention the risk to them, other frontline workers and the wider community as a result of alcohol related harm, “Residents in communities and town camps will now likely be subject to an increase of violence and isolation.”

NT Council of Social Services chief executive Deborah Di Natale said the legislation was rushed and done against the advice of ACCOs. The coalition is calling for a moratorium on takeaway alcohol sales until transparent negotiations have taken place, and for more funding for alcohol harm programs to manage increased needs. Concerns have also been raised about the impact of the policy on already-stretched Aboriginal medical services. AMSANT CEO John Paterson said the legislation’s process was shameful.

To view the National Indigenous Times article A relic of NT Intervention is being lifted, but peak Aboriginal groups are furious in full click here.

Image source: National Indigenous Times.

Initiative allows vision-impaired kids play football

Blind and vision impaired Aboriginal children from some of Australia’s most disadvantaged and remote communities will be able to participate in the transformational program through the use of audible balls. A new partnership between two of Australia’s most prolific sporting initiatives will provide football opportunities for children with eye and vision problems, currently the most common long-term health conditions experienced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

The program established by John Moriarty Football (JMF) and Australian Blind Football (ABF) will help facilitate education and knowledge to coaches which will allow for children to enjoy the social benefits of the sport. Yanyuwa man John Moriarty AM, the Co-Founder of JMF and the first Indigenous man to be selected for the Socceroos, claims that the new partnership will be “game changing. Improving access to the game of football is paramount to us at JMF,” he said.

To view the SBS Sport article Game-changing initiative allowing blind, vision-impaired Aboriginal children to play football in full click here.

Vision impaired JMF participant, Alyawarr boy Tarrant Jackson (16 years), celebrates a goal in Tennant Creek, NT. Image source: SBS Sport website.

Chance for 2 years of PIHW membership

Want to be more LGBTQ inclusive in your care?

Through the Coles Grant Scheme, two 2-year Pride in Health + Wellbeing Memberships are available to help smaller organisations provide more LGBTQ inclusive care. These memberships will allow these organisations to not only review and upskill on their care for gender and sexuality diverse patients/service users but also to measure this change through the free annual Health + Wellbeing Equality Index (HWEI) benchmark and surveys.

For further details about the grants and to access an EOI form click here. EOIs close Wednesday 1 June 2022 – so get in QUICK!

New process for job advertising

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

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

National Road Safety Week

Every year, approximately 1,200 people are killed and another 44,000 are seriously injured on Australian roads. Traffic injury is the biggest killer of Australian children under 15 and the second-biggest killer of all Australians aged between 15 and 24. These numbers are growing every year but are preventable if we choose to Drive So Others Survive!.

National Road Safety Week is an annual initiative from the Safer Australian Roads and Highways (SARAH) Group, partnering road safety organisations and Government. The week highlights the impact of road trauma and ways to reduce it.

You can access the National Road Safety Week 2022 website here, as well as view a short video below:

HIV&AIDS Sexual Health conference scholarships deadline extended

The deadline for Scholarship applications for HIV Clinicians to attend the Joint Australasian HIV&AIDS and Sexual Health Conferences 2022, has been EXTENDED to this Sunday 22 May 2022.

HIV Clinician scholarships include:

  • Return economy flights to the conference
  • Accommodation
  • HIV&AIDS Conference registration

View the Scholarships webpage here for more information on eligibility and priority.

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Mob 15 times more likely to have RHD

Image in feature tile is of Tenaya Bell, one of 1000s of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with the incurable disease, RHD. Image supplied to ABC News by Telethon Kids Institute.

Mob 15 times more likely to have RHD

In a media statement released earlier today NACCHO commented on a report released by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) concerning the rate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are diagnosed with Rheumatic Heart Disease (RHD) in comparison to other Australians. The media statement is reproduced here in full:

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are 15 times more likely to be diagnosed with Rheumatic Heart Disease than other Australians

In a report released on 12 April 2022, the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) highlight the alarming findings that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are 15 times more likely to be diagnosed with RHD than all Australians. New diagnoses of Acute Rheumatic Fever (ARF) and Rheumatic Heart Disease (RHD) among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians are also increasing. Previous research has also shown that Aboriginal children between 5 to 15 years of age are 55 times more likely to die from RHD than other Australian children.

Pat Turner, NACCHO CEO said, “ARF and RHD are preventable conditions. Despite this, too many of our communities continue to experience the effects of these diseases of disadvantage. This updated report provides further evidence that a new approach to ending ARF and RHD is needed. It is imperative the ACCHO sector now plays the lead role in identifying and implementing future solutions.”

To address some of the significant issues facing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, particularly in rural and remote areas, NACCHO, with funding support from the Department of Health, is co-designing a new program of activities with the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health sector. These activities will be designed to support early detection and effective treatment of RHD and ARF and ensure services are provided in a culturally safe way, targeting highest need communities.

You can view the media statement on the NACCHO website using this link.

Image source: AIHW ARF and RHD in Australia, 2016–2020 website page.

Galiwin’ku AHP clocks up 30 years

Wanamula Dorothy Gondarra, who celebrated her 70th birthday yesterday, has shown dedication to health promotion in the Galiwin’ku community over the last three decades. During that time Wanamula has worked at Miwatj Health Aboriginal Corporation for almost 20 years.

AMA gives major parties ‘F’ on health

AMA President Dr Omar Khorshid and Victorian emergency physician Dr Stephen Parnis where interviewed this morning on Channel 9’s Today show about the crisis in health and what Labor and the Liberal National Party are promising for health in the federal election.

Dr Omar said “what we need is a solution for our epidemic of chronic disease in the community. That means modernising our Medicare system and making sure that GPs can look after those things properly in the community and take the pressure on off our hospitals. And of course, the other thing we need is both sides of politics to get real, to understand that the ambulance ramping crisis is actually affecting people’s lives on a daily basis now in Australia. They’ve got to find a solution to work with the states, properly fund those hospitals and make sure that every Aussie who gets sick knows that when they go to the hospital, they’re going to get the care they need, when they need it.”

Dr Paris said “a whole number of things were needed, including better resourcing, and part of that means a better financial contribution from the Federal Government for hospitals. It needs better support for staffing, some of that in the short-term to ensure that staff can have time away – there is no substitute for that when you’ve got thousands of people who are burned out. And you also need the support of systems that take away pressure from hospitals, as Omar said, with general practice, but also in the area of aged care which puts an enormous amount of pressure on emergency departments and inpatient wards.”

To view the AMA’s transcript of the interview in full click here.

Calls to shelve NT alcohol legislation

The Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance of the Northern Territory (AMSANT), the Northern Australia Aboriginal Justice Agency (NAAJA) and the Aboriginal Housing NT (AHNT) are calling on the NT Government to immediately shelve legislation that could allow take-away alcohol into more than 430 Community Living Areas, town camps and other small communities from mid-July 2022. These communities became Alcohol Protected Areas (APAs) under the 2007 Federal Intervention, and this continued under Federal Labor’s Stronger Futures legislation. The alcohol-related Stronger Futures provisions will expire on 16 July this year. Territory communities that were already ‘dry’ General Restricted Areas for many years, through their own choice, will keep that status – but the APA communities will have to apply to stay alcohol-free or the condition will lapse and they will have no restrictions.

If the Government’s amendments to the Liquor Act Bill is passed in May, it will open the floodgates to take-away alcohol unless communities ask the Director of Licensing to declare them ‘dry.’ “There has been no proper consultation, and there simply cannot be any in the short time available. Aboriginal health organisations and peak bodies did not know about the Bill,” said Mr Paterson, CEO of AMSANT. “Consultations for the proposed changes have not even begun”, Mr Paterson. “We call on the Chief Minister in the strongest terms to cease playing with Aboriginal people’s lives. High levels of alcohol consumption continue to lead to serious health and social problems in the Territory. This Bill must be withdrawn now, or the Federal Government must act.” concluded Mr. Paterson.

To view the joint AMSANT, Aboriginal Housing NT and North Australian Aboriginal Justice Agency media release in full click here.

Photo: Claire Campbell, ABC News.

Deadly Choices drives positive health

The Men’s Health Golf Day marks one of Deadly Choices’ first community participation events for 2022, driving positive health behaviour from the Gold Coast’s Palm Meadows Golf Course.  The annual event brings together Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men from across Queensland to ‘drive home’ the messages associated with healthy lifestyles, with a focus on raising awareness of mental health and encouraging men to seek out support from their local ACCHOs.  As with all Deadly Choices events, participants must have an up to date 715 Health Check.

The event will allow recently named Birmingham Commonwealth Games weightlifter and Olympian Brandon Wakeling a chance to limber up before international competition in July, joined by fellow Olympian, Australia’s fastest man and 2032 Brisbane Olympic Organising Committee member, Patrick Johnson. The Olympic feel is complemented by a distinct NRL presence, with league legends and fellow Deadly Choices Ambassadors Petero Civoniceva, Steve Renouf, Willie Tonga, Brenton Bowen and Tyrone Roberts enjoying the Gold Coast fairways.

“Mental health overarches everything we do with Deadly Choices relating to overall health and wellbeing, so when men can get on top of that, everything else seems that little bit easier to manage,” said Renouf. “These issues can blind men from their responsibilities as a son, as a husband and as a father – they become closed off and that’s when depression can take hold.”

Deadly Choices Ambassadors Petero Civoniceva, Steve Renouf, Willie Tonga, Tyrone Roberts, Brenton Bowen, plus Olympians Brandon Wakeling and Patrick Johnson joined150 men from right across Queensland to tee off this morning.

Deadly New Dads video competition

Entries are now open for the SMS4dads Deadly New Dads Video Competition, which invites soon-to-be and new Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander fathers to submit a short video (under two minutes) showcasing what they love about being or becoming a new dad.

Click here For more information. Those who enter the competition will go into the draw to win from a total prize pool of $10,000. For each category, prizes include:

  • overall winner – $3000
  • second prize – $1000
  • third prize – $500.

Entries close on Sunday 22 May 2022.

Real time prescription monitoring

Minister for Health, Natasha Fyles, says a new medicine management system is now live across the NT ensuring greater care for patients. NTScript was jointly funded by the Territory Labor Government and the Federal Government, and it provides real time prescription monitoring (RTPM) information for controlled drugs at the point of care, helping to improve clinical decision making.

Through using NTScript, Clinicians in the NT now have greater access to prescribing records, including up-to-date information about the supply of high risk medicines. NTScript will assist with the identification of people who may be at risk of harm from medicine use. This will enable clinicians to have informed conversations with patients and help reduce the risk of medication related harm.

To view the media release in full click here.

TB in Australia’s Tropical North study

The NT has the highest tuberculosis (TB) rate of all Australian jurisdictions. A study has been undertaken combining TB public health surveillance data with genomic sequencing of Mycobacterium tuberculosis isolates in the tropical ‘Top End’ of the NT to investigate trends in TB incidence and transmission. This retrospective observational study included all 741 culture-confirmed cases of TB in the Top End over three decades from 1989–2020. The findings of the study support prioritisation of timely case detection, contact tracing augmented by genomic sequencing, and latent TB treatment to break transmission chains in Top End remote hotspot regions.

To read the research paper Tuberculosis in Australia’s tropical north: a population-based genomic epidemiological study published in The Lancet Regional Health Western Pacific click here.

L-R: Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the bacterium which causes TB. Image source: National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease. TB most commonly causes pneumonia, The Conversation. A Mantoux test for TB being administered in a Darwin Clinic – Katherine Gregory, ABC News.

New process for job advertising

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

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

Joint Australasian HIV&AIDS + Sexual Health Conferences

For 30 years the Joint Australasian HIV&AIDS Conference, the leading HIV conference in Australasia, has brought together delegates from Australia, NZ, Asia, and the Pacific. Importantly, the Conference reaches beyond Australasia, with keynotes and invited speakers from around the world. This makes for an event with global and local relevance, giving delegates a global platform with access to state-of-the-art research and evidence.  ASHM coordinates the conference to disseminate new and innovative research findings among delegates from a range of backgrounds

The Australasian Society for HIV, Viral Hepatitis and Sexual Health Medicine (ASHM)’s vision for reconciliation is that the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples experience equity, dignity, and respect in all aspects of life. Therefore, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples representation in research, policy and health education is an ongoing goal for both ASHM and the Conference, and we welcome all Indigenous delegates and submissions from Indigenous professionals. 

The four-day face-to-face conference will be held from Friday 29 August – Monday 1 September 2022 at The Sofitel Central Brisbane Centre.

For more information visit the Australasian Sexual Health Conference (ASRHA) website here.

Abstract Submission Deadline: Sunday 1 May

Early Bird Registration Deadline: Thursday 30 June

Standard Registration Deadline: Sunday 14 August

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Connection to community protects health

Image in feature is of Central Land Council community engagement meeting from The Sydney Morning Herald, 14 June 2020.

Connection to community protects health

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) have published a paper examining Indigenous understandings of community, as well as understandings of what constitutes a healthy connection to community, and why this is protective for individuals, families, and the community itself. It reports key information about research, evaluation, program and policy initiatives, and identifies best-practice approaches and critical success factors for implementation. The introduction to the paper says:

The collective wellbeing of many Indigenous Australian communities has been chronically impaired by colonisation. Colonisation has undermined the fundamental principles that ‘held’ and guided people by their communities’ connections. This impact is seen worldwide as the world’s Indigenous peoples are vulnerable to suicide because of the impact of colonisation. Indigenous communities experience disproportionately high suicide rates, which reflect a broader pattern of disparate Indigenous suicide mortality across colonised nations. While important advances in government policy, resources, and efforts have been directed at reducing suicide among Indigenous Australians, suicide rates in Australia are increasing, as is the incidence of mental distress.

Social and emotional wellbeing (SEWB) is an expression of traditional life-affirming Indigenous knowledge systems about wellbeing and is central to culturally safe and successful approaches to suicide prevention in Indigenous communities. SEWB comprises 7 interrelated domains: body, mind and emotions, family and kinship, community, culture, Country, and spirituality. SEWB is at its peak when there are harmonious and healthy connections across all the domains. Connection to community is a key domain in the SEWB model. The concept of community is fundamental to identity and concepts of self in Indigenous Australian cultures. It defines relationships, social roles and cultural norms and practices (lores), which are ‘a complex set of relational bonds and reciprocal obligations’ that differ across Australia’s cultural groups.

To view the AIHW’s paper Connection to Community click here.

Image source: ABC News website.

Former ACCHO employee now nursing graduate

Bendigo celebrated its impressive cohort of graduates during a ceremony at Ulumbarra Theatre last week. The graduates successfully completed their training at TAFE over the past 12 months and were awarded with nationally accredited courses ranging from Certificate I through to advanced diplomas. Among the graduates was Bendigo TAFE Diploma of Nursing student Jade Heavyside.

Ms Heavyside, a mother of four and a proud Wemba Wemba woman, was thrilled to finish her diploma after putting it on hold for several years to raise a family. Fulfilling her nursing studies – and finally becoming a nurse – instilled a sense of pride in Ms Heavyside’s children and her community. “My children were my inspiration to complete my diploma,” she said. “I wanted to show them that by using your strength, will and determination, you can succeed in life.”

Ms Heavyside was also the successful recipient of the Puggy Hunter Scholarship for nursing students, which is awarded to Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander students studying an entry level health course. She worked with the Bendigo and District Aboriginal Co-operative undertaking children’s activities and sporting programs to provide additional support to her community. She is also part of the Congress of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Nurses and Midwives. The accomplished nurse is also involved in the Weenthunga group for Indigenous nursing students, which helped motivate and support her on her journey to becoming a nurse.

Like many students over the past two years, Ms Heavyside has faced several challenges and difficulties completing her studies remotely because of the COVID-19 pandemic. “It was hard trying to adapt to online learning at home, home schooling my children and ensuring we stayed safe through lockdowns and workplace restrictions,” she said. Through her dedication, persistence, hard work and the support of her teachers and peers, Ms Heavyside was able to successfully complete her studies to become a registered enrolled nurse. “It is such a relief and honour to have graduated,” she said. “It is a surreal feeling because the past two years of completing the diploma have been so challenging. “But I would do it all again.”

To view the Bendigo Advertiser article Jade Heavyside is one of Bendigo TAFE’s successful 2022 graduates in full click here.

Bendigo TAFE head of health Annette Gunn with Diploma of Nursing Graduate Jade Heavyside. Image source: Bendigo Advertiser.

Health and medical research priorities

The Australian Academy of Health and Medical Sciences has released a statement on priorities for health and medical research ahead of the 2022 Federal Election. Cultivating a world-leading health and medical research sector and a world-class health system to protect the health of Australians against future pandemics, climate change and beyond. Since the pandemic began, health and medical research has been in the global spotlight. In Australia, the path through the pandemic has been heavily reliant on our world-class health and medical research sector, which has provided timely, reliable and effective solutions. These solutions did not just appear overnight. Past government investment has paid dividends. COVID-19 provides an example of how smart, strategic investment in health and medical research and innovation can provide the foundations to navigate Australia through significant health challenges.

In their statement the Australian Academy of Health and Medical Sciences said “As we move beyond the pandemic, the next Australian government has a unique opportunity to maximise the impact of health and medical research, and mitigate major health challenges by investing in community driven, co-designed, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander-led research.”

To view the Australian Academy of Health and Medical Sciences media release Statement ahead of the 2022 Federal Election click here.

Image source: Research Professional News.

What does the election hold for health?

The Consumers Health Forum (CHF) of Australia is holding a webinar from 12:30PM–1:30PM on Wednesday 27 April 2022 addressing the question What does the election hold for health? CHF CEO Leanne Wells will facilitate the webinar and presenters will include:

Jennifer Doggett: Fellow of the Centre for Policy Development and editor at Croakey Health Media

Anna Peeters: Professor of Epidemiology and Equity in Public Health, and Director of the Institute for Health Transformation at Deakin University.

Dr Saba Nabi: Based in Wagga Wagga, Saba has a PhD in Biomedical Sciences. She has been a member of Regional Advisory Council (RAC) member with Multicultural NSW, and represented consumers on Health Boards.

Harry Illes-Mann: A Young Leader with the Youth Health Forum and holds positions on other NSW committees as a consumer representative.

You can register to join CHF, health and policy experts, and consumers analyse the Liberal National Party and Labor Party’s health policy platforms and have your questions answered here.

Grinnin’ Up Mums & Bubs Program

A study has been undertaken to develop and pilot test the model of care, Grinnin’ Up Mums & Bubs, to train Aboriginal Health Workers to promote oral health among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander pregnant women. There was a high level of satisfaction with the components of the model of care among the participants of the study, who believed that the model could be integrated into practice. The training showed some improvement in oral health knowledge and confidence. The participants recommended strategies for discussing oral health with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander pregnant women, and changes in public health dental policy to ensure that all women would be able to access affordable dental services through the referral pathway. Overall the findings suggest a high level of satisfaction with the model of care among the Aboriginal Health Workers. Further evaluation is needed to confirm the short and long-term impact of the model.

To view the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health article Aboriginal Health Workers Promoting Oral Health among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Women during Pregnancy: Development and Pilot Testing of the Grinnin’ Up Mums & Bubs Program click here.

Image sourceL: Your Life Choices website.

HIV&AIDS conference scholarships applications open

Scholarship applications are now open to attend the 2022 Joint Australasian HIV&AIDS and Sexual Health Conferences!

To make the conference accessible to those who ordinarily may not be able to attend, a limited funding has been made available via the ASHM Scholarship Program for people to attend the 2022 Joint Australasian HIV&AIDS and Sexual Health Conferences.

This year’s Conferences will be held as a face-to-face event at the Sunshine Coast Convention Centre, QLD. Scholarships will cover conference registration, and/or accommodation, and/or flights. There are scholarships available for the following:

  • HIV Clinicians
  • Nurses / Pharmacists
  • Community

Scholarship Application Deadline: 11:59PM AEST Sunday 1 May 2022. To see the full criteria, as well as apply for your scholarship, please use this link.

Remote PHC Manuals April update

The Remote Primary Health Care Manuals (RPHCM) are currently being reviewed and updates. Monthly updates are provided to health services and other organisation to keep them up-to-date during the review process. The most recent RPHCM update advises that:

  • the Standard Treatment Manual and Women’s Business Manuals are in final preparations for secondary review, which will start this month. If you would like to review some protocols as part of the secondary review process please email a completed expression of interest form from the RPHCM website using this email link.
  • consultations with key stakeholders will occur concurrently with secondary reviews. You can contact the project team here if you are in a senior or governance role and would like to provide feedback on updated protocols.

New editions are due to publication November/December 2022. You can view the Remote PHC Manuals April 2022 Update here.

Women’s Business Manual review sought

The Remote Primary Health Care Manuals Standard Treatment Manual and Minymaku Kutju Tjukurpa (Women’s Business Manual) have now been updated to reflect the recommended changes arising from primary review. The RPHCM project team would like to invite key stakeholders to review the updated protocols before they are finalised for publication.

The stakeholder consultation period seeks feedback to confirm that the content of the updated protocols are relevant and applicable to remote health practice. Please email using this link with the names of any protocols that you would like to review. Feedback on the protocols should be clearly and concisely outlined in an email returned to this email address by close of business on Friday the 6 May 2022. All feedback will be presented to the RPHCM editorial committee for consideration.

Minymaku Kutju Tjukurpa — Women’s Business Manual current edition.

New process for job advertising

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Support for mob to engage with NDIS

Support for mob to engage with NDIS

To increase support for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with disability, the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIA) has engaged NACCHO to deliver the Aboriginal Disability Liaison Officer (ADLO) program until 30 November 2022. The program will provide dedicated support to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with disability in urban and rural areas to access the NDIS and use their plans.

Employed locally by ACCHOs, ADLOs work will work at a local level to build understanding of NDIS. ADLOs are generally members of the communities they work in, understand the culture and often speak the local languages. Working in partnership with the NDIA and Partners in the Community, ADLOs are a further cultural link between the Indigenous community and the system of disability related supports offered through the NDIS. The insights of ADLOs will also contribute to NDIA led co-design initiatives to improve the way NDIS works with First Nations Australians and communities.

Further information about the ADLO program, including a list of the 37 ACCHOs (NSW-13; NT-1; QLD-10; SA-5: VIC-6; and WA-2) delivering the program is available on the NDIS website here.

NACCHO CEO at Social Impact Strategy launch

NACCHO CEO and Lead Convener of the Coalition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peak Organisations (Coalition of Peaks), Pat Turner AM delivered a speech at the King & Wood Mallesons’ Social Impact Strategy launch earlier today. Ms Turner said “A whole of nation effort is required if we are to close the gap in life outcomes between our peoples and other Australians and I am really pleased to see King & Wood Mallesons stepping up to the task and making its contribution.” Themes in Ms Turner’s speech included the struggle of Closing the Gap; the Coalition of Peaks; the National Agreement on Closing the Gap; and the four priority reforms set out in the National Agreement on Closing the Gap.

You can read Ms Turner’s speech in full here.

Pat Turner AM

NACCHO CEO, Pat Tuner AM. Image source: The Guardian.

AMSANT CEO awarded honorary doctorate

AMSANT is very proud to recognise the significant achievement of their CEO, John (Patto) Paterson, in being awarded the title of Honorary Doctor of Arts by Charles Darwin University (CDU). John, received the honour in recognition of his leadership, commitment, and exemplary work over many decades, particularly in the Aboriginal community-controlled health sector and advocating for Aboriginal Territorians during COVID-19. John’s achievement is especially significant for the ‘AMSANT Family’ that John has led for the past 16 years as their CEO, supporting the personal and professional development of so many staff and strongly advocating for our Aboriginal community controlled health service members.

John is a proud born and bred Territorian with family ties to the Ngalakan people in Ngukurr and has worked in Aboriginal affairs in the public and community sectors since 1979 at a local, Territory and Federal level, focusing on First Nations health, housing and education. Donna Ah Chee, Chair of AMSANT said, “John’s commitment and leadership in Aboriginal Affairs has essentially been life long, and is now being rightly highlighted and formally acknowledged by CDU.”

To view AMSANT’s media release in full click here.

AMSANT CEO John Paterson in red yellow academic gown & black PhD bonnet

AMSANT CEO Dr John Paterson. Image source: AMSANT.

Beyond the Scars – RHD impacts

Rheumatic heart disease (RHD) causes permanent damage to heart valves and is a leading cause of death in young Indigenous people in Australia. Currently there is no cure. Young Indigenous people with RHD experience countless encounters with health care providers and multiple hospital admissions. This is traumatic for the young people, their families and communities. Young Indigenous people already carry the scars of intergenerational trauma, a legacy of colonization. The added trauma of RHD and its social and emotional impact can further worsen health outcomes.

A Menzies School of Health Research have received a grant to explore the social and emotional needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples (15–25 years) with RHD. The grant will support and build the capacity of an Aboriginal PhD student and community researcher, and build capacity of Aboriginal individuals and communities to advocate for their own needs – beyond the biomedical – that must be addressed to improve health outcomes. For further information about the research project visit the Heart Foundation’s webpage Beyond the Scars: Impacts of RHD in young Indigenous peoples here.

In a related story, RHD Australia has developed a range of RHD resources available on their website here, including the video Michael’s Story below:

Grant for syphilis outbreak guide

Among the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Research Excellence Award recipients for grants awarded in 2021 is Dr Simon Graham from the Doherty Institute at the University of Melbourne, who received the 2021 NHMRC Sandra Eades Investigator Grant Award (Emerging Leadership). Dr Graham is an epidemiologist and, through his Investigator Grant, he will be developing a community-led coordination and response guide for a syphilis outbreak in Aboriginal communities.

Dr Graham will work in the Global Outbreak Response Network at the World Health Organization in Geneva to examine how the organisation successfully coordinates and deploys specialist teams to investigate and stop an outbreak in different countries. He will also work with a cohort of Aboriginal people to develop an outbreak response and coordination guide to empower Aboriginal communities to stop outbreaks of syphilis infections.

For more information visit the NHMRC website here. You can also view a short video from the Young Deadly Syphilis Free campaign below.

Men’s heart health program trial

Research shows that a 12-week program run in UK soccer clubs (Football Fans in Training) is effective in supporting men to get to a healthier weight and sustain changes 3.5 years later. Associate Professor Quested and team created an Australianised version, Aussie-FIT, and their pilot in WA found it attracts men living with obesity and supports them to make changes to their physical activity, eating behaviour, weight, and well-being. They have also shown Aussie-FIT to appeal to men with cardiovascular disease, for whom it can play an important role in secondary prevention.

Professor Quested has received funding to substantiate the program’s longer term impact on cardiovascular health by undertaking research with a larger sample and longer follow up. The team will also determine how Aussie-FIT deliveries can be sustained in WA; implemented across other States and Territories (Queensland, Northern Territory); scaled to appeal to a wider audience (e.g., via deliveries in rugby); and identify potential adaptations with marginalised populations such as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men.

For more information visit the Heart Foundation’s webpage Kicking Goals for Men’s Heart Health: A Multi-state Trial of the Aussie-FIT Program here.

EOI: Policy Partnerships under NACTG

The Expression of Interest (EOI) for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Representatives to the next two policy partnerships under the National Agreement on Closing the Gap are now open until COB (AEST) Friday 29 April 2022. Expressions of interest are being sought from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with relevant expertise who wish to join the next two policy partnerships on:

  • Early childhood care and development (including out of home care), and
  • Social and emotional wellbeing (mental health).

These partnerships will be established in August 2022 and represent an historic opportunity to shift the dial in these important policy areas for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. For more information on the policy partnerships, including how to apply, please visit the ‘Get Involved’ section on the Coalition of Peaks website here.

If you have any questions or require support please reach out to the Coalition of Peaks using this email link.

New process for job advertising

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: 5-15-year-olds most at risk of RHD

Image in feature tile is of an RHD Australia doctor supporting RHD control programs. Photo: Emmanuelle Clarke. Image source: Australian Science Communicators website.

5-15-year-olds most at risk of RHD

Therlrina Akene woke up at her home on Yam island recently unable to walk. She and her mum Sandi were transferred via helicopter to Thursday Island Hospital for a series of medical tests. Weeks later they are still in Cairns Hospital Children’s Ward after Thelrina was diagnosed with Rheumatic Heart Disease (RHD). Cairns & Hinterland Hospital and Health Service paediatric cardiologist Dr Ben Reeves said about a third of his patients were living with RHD.

“RHD, if left untreated, can cause structural damage to the heart, ” he said. “It’s a very sad fact that the common strep throat infection that we all develop in our lifetimes, can end up in life-limiting structural conditions in First Nations people.  Those most at risk of developing the disease are young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, aged 5–15, who are 55 times more likely to die of the disease than their non-Indigenous peers. RHD is also responsible for the highest gap in life expectancy between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians – higher than even diabetes or kidney failure.”

To view the full article in the Torres News, Edition 24 click here.

Dr Ben Reeves, Thelrine Akene, Sandi Martin and Far North Queensland Hospital Foundation CEO Gina Hogan in Cairns Base Hospital

Dr Ben Reeves, Thelrine Akene, Sandi Martin and Far North Queensland Hospital Foundation CEO Gina Hogan in Cairns Base Hospital. Image source: Torres News.

Child safety systems failing mob

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders surviving domestic and family violence are not having their needs met by child protection systems reveals a report released today. New Ways for Our Families is the first of two reports. It shows child protection responses to domestic and family violence must focus on children and women. It also reveals these responses do not adequately address all domestic and family violence issues. “Despite the overwhelming impact of child protection systems in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young people’s lives, often resulting from domestic and family violence, their voices on what will support them have largely been silent,” says Garth Morgan, CEO of the Queensland Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Child Protection Peak.

Professor Daryl Higgins, Director, Institute of Child Protection Studies, Australian Catholic University added “No parent, carer or family plans to have their children go into child protection or youth justice. Families welcome children into their lives and communities but often the forces
of intergenerational trauma affect their ability to offer the best support to their children. And unfortunately, systemic bias and racism just make it harder for them.”

To view the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Child Protection Peak media release in full click here.

Image source: Bendigo Advertiser.

Aboriginal prisoner mental healthcare program

Researchers from UNSW will test the effectiveness of mental health interventions for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. UNSW Sydney Professor Kimberlie Dean and her team have received a $1.18 million Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) grant to improve mental healthcare in prison and support the prison-to-community transition for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men and women.

“I’m excited to have the financial support necessary to progress this important research and also to have the opportunity to build much-needed research capacity in the area,” Prof. Dean said. Prof. Dean, who is the Head of Discipline for Psychiatry and Mental Health, and Chair of Forensic Mental Health at UNSW Medicine & Health, said the project will provide an enhanced service to meet the specific cultural and community-connection needs of Aboriginal men and women being released from prison.

The intervention also has the potential to contribute to reducing the over-incarceration of Aboriginal people by reducing risk of a return to custody. In 2021, the Productivity Commission reported Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults were imprisoned at 11 times the rate of non-Indigenous Australians in 2019–20. “Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are incarcerated at an alarming rate and those in prison often suffer with significant mental health needs, which can be associated with an elevated risk of poor outcomes both before and after returning to the community, including risk of re-incarceration,” Prof. Dean said.

To view the full article from the UNSW Sydney Newsroom click here.

Professor Kimberlie Dean. Image source: UNSW Sydney Newsroom webpage.

Heart health program for First Nations dads

To address the growing burden of cardiovascular disease (CVD) in Indigenous Australians, Professor Philip Morgan’s is heading a project that will:

  • Culturally adapt the effective ‘Healthy Dads, Healthy Kids’ family-based lifestyle program for Indigenous Australian families;
  • Test the feasibility of the adapted program with a sample of Indigenous Australian children and their fathers.

This project builds on Professor Philip Morgan’s pioneering ‘Healthy Dads, Healthy Kids’ program, which has demonstrated clinically meaningful effects on CVD risk factors (e.g., weight, diet, activity) in fathers and children. In this context, Professor Philip Morgan’s team expect that a culturally adapted version of ‘Healthy Dads, Healthy Kids’ have similar meaningful effects for Indigenous Australian families. Additionally, expected long-term outcomes include:

  • To formalise partnerships with Awabakal Aboriginal Medical Services to facilitate translation into the future;
  • Inform program refinements in advance of a major grant application to extend to rural and isolated Indigenous Australian communities to achieve widespread, lasting improvements in indigenous cardiovascular health.

For further information about the project you can access the Heart Foundation’s Improving heart health of Indigenous Australian families – ‘Healthy Dads, Healthy Kids – Indigenous’ website page here.

Addictive e-cigarettes harming youth

E-cigarettes, or vapes, are causing harm and risk introducing a new generation to smoking, warn experts from The Australian National University (ANU) following their government report into vaping. The major review found use of nicotine e-cigarettes increases the risk of a range of adverse health outcomes, particularly in youth, including taking up smoking, addiction, poisoning, seizures, trauma and burns and lung injury. “We reviewed the global evidence in order to support informed choices on vaping for Australia,” lead author Professor Emily Banks from the ANU National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health said.

Cancer Council’s Public Health Committee Chair, Anita Dessaix, said the ANU report is the most comprehensive study of all the health impacts of e-cigarettes ever published worldwide and it sends an urgent message to Australian governments. “Every week we’re hearing growing community concern about e-cigarettes in schools, the health harms and the risks of smoking uptake among young people,” Ms Dessaix said. “Now we have the world’s most authoritative independent scientific analysis showing us exactly why we’re seeing those problems. “A public health crisis is rapidly unfolding before our eyes.”

To view the ANU media release in full click here.

teenage girl vaping, face obscured by smoke

Image source: The Age.

Shared Code of conduct for 12 National Boards

A National Board Code of conduct or Code of ethics describes the professional behaviour and conduct expectations for registered health practitioners. 15 National Boards have an approved Code of conduct that applies to the registered health practitioners they regulate. These codes are an important part of the National Boards’ regulatory framework and help to keep the public safe by outlining the National Boards’ expectations of professional behaviour and conduct for registered health practitioners. Registered health practitioners have a responsibility to be familiar with and apply their relevant code.

A shared Code of conduct has been developed for 12 National Boards, including the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Practice Board and comes into effect on Wednesday 29 June 2022. An advance copy of the shared Code of conduct is available here and a range of resources to help health practitioners understand and apply the revised code can be accessed here.

Melbourne Poche Centre for Indigenous Health

The Melbourne Poche Centre for Indigenous Health was officially launched on 27 October 2014 at a special celebration attended by Mrs Kay van Norton Poche, Mr Reg Richardson AM and a number of distinguished Indigenous leaders in health and higher education.

The film Investing In The Future – The Melbourne Poche Centre for Indigenous Health, screened at the launch and available here showcases the vision of the Melbourne Poche Centre for Indigenous Health and highlights how leadership can make a real difference to health outcomes for Indigenous people in Australia.

New process for job advertising

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

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

Parkinson’s Awareness Month

Every hour of every day one person is diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease. That’s 24 people each day – that is more prevalent than many common cancers. The whole month of April is earmarked annually to try to get some awareness of the disease out into the community, with Monday 11 April 2022 recognised as World Parkinson’s Day.

Parkinson’s is still a very misunderstood condition that affects not only the person diagnosed with it, but their family, friends and carers. Parkinson’s is a movement and mood disorder typically presenting with symptoms such as slowness of movement, muscle rigidity, instability, tremor, depression and anxiety. A diagnosis of Parkinson’s can occur at any age.

To view the April Is Parkinson’s Awareness Month article in The Hilltops Phoenix in full click here.

Image source: Southern Cross University website.

hiv@aids + sexualhealth 2022 abstract submission open

The Joint Australasian HIV&AIDS + Sexual Health Conferences, hosted by the Australasian Society for HIV, Viral Hepatitis and Sexual Health Medicine (ASHM), is being held from Monday 29 August to Thursday 1 September 2022 on the Sunshine Coast (QLD) and will highlight new and innovative research findings among delegates from Australia, NZ, Asia, and the Pacific from a range of backgrounds from healthcare, academia, government and social.

To support the conference ASHM are extending invitations to submit abstracts. Abstracts can go towards delivering an oral presentation or a poster presentation at the conference and is a great opportunity to share the amazing work your staff/services do, or share innovative models developed in the ACCHO sector, others in mainstream can learn from.

One of the conference themes has particular sessions with an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander focus, and it would be great to share some of the great work that’s happened and continues to happen in the ACCHO space relating to HIV&AIDS/Sexual Health. For those who submit abstracts and are successful, NACCHO and ASHM can support costs to attend (registration, travel, accommodation etc).

The deadline to submit abstracts is Sunday 1 May 2022. You can access guidelines for abstracts here and a template here. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to NACCHO’s Megan Campbell using this email link or Edan Campbell-O’Brien here. They would love to work with you on writing a submission and answer any questions you have. This is a fantastic opportunity to showcase the work of our sector and see ACCHOs represented at these large mainstream forums.

On a related note, ASHM are also hosting the Australasian Viral Hepatitis Conference from Monday 29 May to Wednesday 31 May 2022 in Brisbane (QLD). The registration deadline closes on Sunday 1 May 2022 – please don’t hesitate to get in touch if you’d like to find out more.

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Culturally responsive palliative care

Culturally responsive palliative care

The Palliative care curriculum for undergraduates (PCC4U) project has launched the Caring for Australian Indigenous peoples affected by life-limiting illness toolkit. The PCC4U is a QUT-led initiative funded by the Australian Government Department of Health to support development of graduate capabilities in palliative care.

National Indigenous Project Manager, Nicole Hewlett, a Palawa woman from Lutruwita (Tasmania), from the QUT School of Nursing worked with PCC4U to ensure culturally safe resources are developed and delivered. She said the new toolkit formed part of the PCC4U curriculum for educators, health and aged care providers, and would bring greater awareness to inequity. “Given the history, trauma and current experience of racism in healthcare, it can be particularly difficult for Australian Indigenous peoples to talk about the kind of care and support they would like as they age or become seriously ill,” Ms Hewlett said.

“As a result, most communities are not receiving the best quality of care and support while they live with chronic Illness and at the end of life. This can have a profound effect on both the sick person and their loved ones’ experience during this end-of-life journey.” Ms Hewlett said the toolkit had not just been redeveloped, but decolonised.

You can access further information about the Caring for Australian Indigenous peoples affected by life-limiting illness toolkit on the QUT website here.

The Glen for Women opens doors

The songs of bellbirds fill Coral Hennessy with peace. They echo around a picturesque rural landscape at Wyong Creek, on the NSW Central Coast. “Just what people need for healing,” Malyangapa woman Ms Hennessy said. Now, the 4.45 hectare property is home to the state’s first Aboriginal community controlled women’s drug and alcohol residential rehabilitation centre. The Glen for Women is a decades-old dream that will open intake applications this week.

The 20-bed facility will house 80 to 100 clients each year, with a focus on local Aboriginal women. During their 12 week stay, women will drive their activities, including a yarning circle, sports and art. Ms Hennessy said her daughter, who struggled with alcohol addiction, died in late 2020. “I always found it hard to find a place for her to go to,” she said. “There never seemed to be the right place … so that was one of my reasons for getting a rehab to be run along the lines of The Glen centre.”

Ms Hennessy is the chair of The Glen for Men, as well as this new women’s offshoot. Her passion to improve lives through drug and alcohol rehabilitation is a legacy of her late brother Cyril, who founded the nearby men’s centre in 1994. The name was in honour of his son, Glen, who died after a battle with addiction.

Network of Alcohol and other Drugs Agencies (NADA) CEO Robert Stirling said the centre will respond to a gap in treatment. “NADA is excited that The Glen for Women is about to become a reality – a culturally secure place for Aboriginal women to address alcohol and drug related harms,” he said. The Glen for Women chief operating officer Kylie Cassidy said it had already been inundated with calls from women.

To read the ABC News article The Glen for Women, Aboriginal community controlled drug and alcohol rehabilitation centre, opens doors in full click here.

The Glen for Women is a 20-bed drug and alcohol rehabilitation centre

The Glen for Women is a 20-bed drug and alcohol rehabilitation centre set on more than four hectares. Photo: Sofie Wainwright, ABC Central Coast. Image source: ABC News website.

80% of mob over 16 have had 2 doses

It’s FANTASTIC to see that 80% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people over the age of 16 have had 2 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.

NACCHO is extending a huge thank you to all ACCHOs for their tireless efforts so far in the vaccination roll-out, and to all the deadly mob who have stepped up to protect themselves, their families and community.

Now, let’s aim for 100%.

To book your vaccination, contact your local Aboriginal health service or visit the Australian Government Department of Health COVID-19 Vaccine Clinic Finder website here.

CTG dashboard update

The Australian Government Productivity Commission Closing the Gap Information Repository is being developed (in stages) to help support reporting . The latest update to the Dashboard (31 March 2022) includes disaggregations of data for a subset of targets under the socioeconomic outcome areas (with a new year of data for five socioeconomic outcome areas) and refinements to the method for assessing progress against the targets.

A further update to the Dashboard will be available in late June 2022. It will include reporting on a further 20 indicators across the Priority Reform areas and socioeconomic outcome areas. The release of the second Annual Data Compilation Report is anticipated by end July 2022.

You can view the fact sheet about the dashboard here.

Image source: wingaru.com.au

New BCNA First Peoples resources

BCNA is thrilled to advise that this month they have launched new content to support First Peoples women who are diagnosed with breast cancer. The development of the content, created with support from Cancer Australia, has enabled BCNA to expand their resources for First Peoples women to help them feel empowered to make decisions about their treatment and care and to help them through their breast cancer journey. The information was developed with significant input and contribution through BCNA’s First Peoples Advisory Group and those First Peoples who are part of the BCNA network.

In addition to written information, the information for First Peoples now includes a series of eight new videos in which First Peoples women from around Australia share their experiences with breast cancer. Video topics include: Advice for First Peoples and their communities; Family and support; Connection to culture; and Treatment.

In the coming weeks, a webcast on the Optimal Care Pathway for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders will be recorded and made available. The videos and webcast will be available to watch on My Journey via this link and on the BCNA website. You can read more about resources available for First Peoples communities here.

National Pancreatic Cancer Roadmap released

The Australian Government has today launched the National Pancreatic Cancer Roadmap (Roadmap) and has committed funding of $20.3 million to support improved outcomes and survival for Australians affected by pancreatic cancer. The Roadmap, developed by Cancer Australia and overseen by a multidisciplinary national expert Steering Group, is for the Australian community. Its implementation will be a collective responsibility involving people affected by pancreatic cancer, health professionals, professional colleges, researchers, pancreatic cancer organisations, peak bodies, non-government and government organisations.

Cancer Australia has created the Roadmap as an interactive, easy to use web-based tool where users can easily identify information in their areas of interest across the continuum of pancreatic research, treatment and care.

To access the National Pancreatic Cancer Roadmap, visit the Australian Government Cancer Australia website here.

Hepatitis elimination needs longer-term funding

Hepatitis Australia welcomes the Australian Government’s commitment of short-term (12 months) funding under the National Preventive Health Strategy 2021–2030 to support key organisations to continue existing programs in the national response to hepatitis B, C, HIV and STIs. “The Government has allocated $8.6 million in 2022–23 allowing key organisations to continue important work towards elimination by 2030,” said Carrie Fowlie, CEO of Hepatitis Australia, the national peak body representing the interests of 350,000 people living with viral hepatitis and the State and Territory Hepatitis Organisations.

It should be noted that the $8.6 million includes a $5 million commitment to implement key activities under the Fifth National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Blood Borne Viruses and Sexually Transmissible Infections Strategy 2018–2022, to improve health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living with, or at risk of blood borne viruses and/or sexually transmissible infections.

To view the Healthcare Channel article in full click here.

Blood testing to detect HIV. Photo: Mak Remissa, EPA. Image source: SBS NITV website.

Health disparity for LGBTQIA+ people

Yesterday on International Transgender Day of Visibility (TDoV), the Australian College of Nursing (ACN) is celebrated the achievements, presence and community of transgender (trans) and gender-diverse people and highlighted the immediate need to address the health gaps they experience. “Today, I would like to acknowledge the persistent contribution trans and gender-diverse people make to our society and especially those who are my colleagues in the nursing profession,” ACN CEO Adjunct Professor Kylie Ward FACN said.

“It is unconscionable that this group continues to experience discrimination in accessing many of our areas of society such as health, education and sports. The flow on effect means trans and gender diverse people are more likely to experience much higher rates of violence, mental health problems and homelessness – just to name a few examples. These statistics are even more troubling for those in already marginalised groups, such as people of colour, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and young Australians. Our society must not tolerate discrimination based on gender or any other form.” Adjunct Professor Ward also highlighted how the nursing profession has a leading role to play in tackling the systemic issues trans and gender-diverse people experience.

You can view the Australian College of Nursing Health disparities of transgender and gender diverse people require urgent attention media release in full here.

Image source: MJA InSight.

The Australian Medical Students’ Association (AMSA) have also issued a media release saying they are extremely disappointed by the lack of measures in the Federal Budget to improve the access to healthcare for LGBTQIA+ Australians. “Transgender and gender diverse Australians are in urgent need of support. The failure of the Government to direct funding to increase access to gender-affirming services will cause significant harm to patients who are unable to afford access,” Jasmine Davis, AMSA President said.

AMSA is also disappointed to see a lack of specific funding for LGBTQIA+ mental health. “Queer Australians already experience higher rates of mental-ill health and suicide. Nearly a third of LGBTI Australians aged 18 and over have attempted suicide, a number which is eight times higher than the general population,” Flynn Halliwell, Chair of AMSA Queer, said. “The federal government has itself continued to perpetuate direct harm to the mental health of these communities through attempts to introduce harmful legislation, as well as political weaponizing of trans and gender diverse people in public discourse. If the Government is serious about improving mental health, and reducing suicide rates in Australia, there should be specific funding for LGBTQIA+ mental health services,” Mr Halliwell said.

You can view the AMSA’s media release in full here.

Image source: The Conversation.

New process for job advertising

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

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

World Health Day

The Australian Global Health Alliance, in partnership with the Climate and Health Alliance, Australian WHO Collaborating Centre Network, Melbourne Climate Futures, and Monash Sustainable Development Institute are delighted to present an expert panel on World Health Day 2022 to celebrate and reflect on our past, present and future connections to this year’s theme: Our Planet, Our Health.

Many groups and individuals claim knowledge in the field of planetary health and global health, and it can sometimes be a cacophony of competing rather than joined interest to act. Our expert panel will explore lived experiences facing floods and heatwaves in Australia and the region, the application and respect for all global and First Nation’s knowledge, and the processes and platforms we use to communicate for action – and for whom.

Our discussion will be co-chaired by Australian Global Health Alliance Executive Director, Dr Selina Lo and Georgia Langmaid, a young generation lead in planetary health from 12:00–1:30PM (AEST) Thursday 7 April, 2022. You can register for the event here.

Parkinson’s Awareness Month

April is Parkinson’s Awareness Month with World Parkinson’s Day recognised on 11 April each year. Parkinson’s Disease (PD) is a movement and mood disorder typically presenting with symptoms such as slowness of movement, muscle rigidity, instability, tremor, depression and anxiety and diagnosis can occur at any age. With one person every hour of every day diagnosed with Parkinson’s, it is important to continue education, research and support for consumers, families and support people who are living with PD.

For more information about PD and Parkinson’s Awareness Month click here.

Parkinson’s disease (PD) is the second most common neurodegenerative disease in the elderly after Alzheimer’s disease. It is expected that PD cumulative incidence will increase in the future, as there are far more people surviving into late age than there ever used to be. Socioeconomic, cultural and genetic factors may influence the way in which anti-parkinsonian medications are prescribed, and how patients respond to them. There is growing recognition that more detailed Australian-specific data are required and that special consideration should be given to obtaining estimates for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander populations of Australia.

You can access the BMJ Neurology Open article Variations in the patterns of prevalence and therapy in Australasian Parkinson’s disease patients of different ethnicities containing the above information here.

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: NACCHO CEO on ABC’s The Drum

Feature tile - Fri 18.3.22 - CEO on The Drum

Image in feature tile: NACCHO CEO Pat Turner AM, Photo: Alex Ellinghausen, The Sydney Morning Herald.

Pat Turner on The Drum

When NACCHO CEO Pat Turner appeared on the ABC’s The Drum last night she said the Close the Gap report released earlier in the day “highlights in no uncertain terms what we already know – policy and programs led by our own people work better for our people. They work so much better because they provide a culturally safe environment for our people to engage with service providers and they also have an ability to reach out into the community. Most of our services are more trusted that government services. The recent Four Corners program on RHD shown that lack of trust was evident in the Doomadgee community.”

“But we also know that comprehensive structural reform is needed to ensure more equitable outcomes for our people, and quite frankly we’ve been telling governments this for decades and it’s about time they took note of the evidence that this report and many others demonstrate that Aboriginal-led initiatives and locally-led solutions work and that’s where the investments have to be made.”

“Key data shows that the gap in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’s health is profound, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are:

    • 5.0 times more likely to die from rheumatic heart disease;
    • 4.5 times more likely to smoke during pregnancy;
    • 3.7 times more likely to have kidney disease;
    • 3.2 times more likely to have diabetes;
    • 2.1 times more likely to suicide as young people;
    • 2.0 times more likely to die in infancy; and
    • 1.4 times more likely to die from cancer.”

“So it’s really hardly surprising that we live 8–9 years less than other Australians.” Pat Turner also said there is a continuing funding gap in health with a dangerous myth that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people receive ‘plenty of health funding’. A recent conservative calculation put the gap in health expenditure, compared to other Australians, at $5,042 per Aboriginal person per year. You can watch the full episode of the ABC’s The Drum here.

screenshot of ABC The Drum episode & panelists Narelda Jacobs, Pat Turner, Paul Karp & Kudzai Kanhutu

Awabakal opens new dental clinic

Hamilton is now home to a new Awabakal Dental Clinic following the official opening of the $400,000 facility this week. The state-of-the-art centre will operate in partnership with Hunter New England Local Health District (HNELHD) to provide bulk-billed dental services to the local Aboriginal community.

Previously, the clinic boasted two chairs working out of a small section of the Awabakal Hamilton Medical Clinic. The new-look facility, funded by NSW Ministry of Health – Oral Health Unit, via the Centre for Aboriginal Health, was custom-built to meet the demand of local oral health needs. “We’ve been trying to get this off the ground for some time,” Awabakal CEO Raylene Gordon said. “So, it’s an important day for us – and I believe it’s one of the best clinics around. This is a collaboration between Awabakal and Hunter New England Local Health District that’s about making dental care more affordable for Indigenous people. Good oral hygiene is directly linked to good overall health. Poor dental care can impact on lots of nutrition and lifestyle issues. If you have no teeth, you can’t eat.”

To view the Newcastle Weekly article in full click here.

wabakal Ltd CEO Raylene Gordon, HNELHD Oral Health Unit’s Dr Lanny Chor, City of Newcastle councillor Deahnna Richardson and Newcastle state MP Crakanthorp at the official opening of the Awabakal Dental Clinic at Hamilton

Awabakal Ltd CEO Raylene Gordon, HNELHD Oral Health Unit’s Dr Lanny Chor, City of Newcastle councillor Deahnna Richardson and Newcastle state MP Crakanthorp at the official opening of the Awabakal Dental Clinic at Hamilton. Photo: Peter Stoop. Image source: Newcastle Weekly.

COVID response praised in CTG report

The Close the Gap report released yesterday detailed how Aboriginal decision-making was critical in responding to the unprecedented health challenges from the COVID-19 pandemic. The report found there was a need for trust and accountability in partnerships to enable transformative change.

Lowitja Institute CEO Janine Mohamed said the report showcased how community-led organisations and services were working to provide equitable health care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. “The report is a beautiful and powerful call to action, showcasing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander-led brilliance at work, in all sorts of settings, paving the way ahead as we have done as peoples over millennia,” she said. “Now it’s time for governments and mainstream services to step up, and step back, if we are to truly close the gap in health outcomes for our people.”

Kimberly Aboriginal Medical Service CEO Vicki O’Donnell said Indigenous community-controlled services were crucial for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. “They achieve better results, employ more Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, are connected and embedded in the community, and are therefore often preferred over mainstream services,” she said.

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

vax being administered into arm

Image source: National Indigenous Times.

ACCHO model for LGBTQ+ health services

The NSW government has committed more than $4 million toward establishing a health centre, which will provide tailored medical services to Sydney’s LGBTQ+ community. The funding announcement is part of NSW Health’s five-year LGBTQ+ health strategy, which also saw the state dedicate $3.4 million annually for a specialist trans and gender diverse public health service. A further $2.65 million went toward NSW Health workforce education and training initiatives to support the strategy.

Operated by LGBTQ+ non-profit ACON, the health centre will also offer state-wide services through telehealth, service partnerships and shared care arrangements. ACON Deputy CEO Karen Price – who, it should be noted, is a fully separate person from RACGP President Dr Karen Price – said that the health centre is similar in concept to an Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Centre. “In other areas, we know that specific services really work well to meet the needs of specific populations,” Ms Price said.

To view The Medical Republic article in full click here.

Aboriginal and Pride flags flying

Photo: Julia Turner. Image source: Cosmos Magazine.

Community Dream Research Project

First Nations’ organisation, Community First Development, has launched a new research project that explores the benefits of tracking the narrative of the long-term dreams of First Nations’ communities.  The research project is set to spark some conversations and challenge some research and evaluation norms.

The organisation holds the belief that research can-and-does enable the creation of spaces that promote First Nations’ self-determination and strong Country. It is intended to make way for the valuable insights found in First Nations’ perspectives and to strengthen the leadership and governance of First Nations’ people in evaluation. Community First Development’s approach is to push the boundaries that limit people’s understanding of First Nations’ perspectives and culture. The organisation’s approach is inclusive to the hundreds of diverse First Nations’ communities it works with – over 800 over the course of the past 20 years.

Community dreams are multi-dimensional and consider a range of aspects: the economic, environmental, mob, spiritual, cultural customs, and Country. Dreams are holistic, shared and form the basis for strengthening First Nations’ future generations and ensuring that Country is sustainable. The dream narrative cannot be understated, not only for the success of individual community projects, but also for the revitalisation and resurgence strategies that communities are putting in place.

To view the Community First Development media release please click here.

Deadly New Dads video competition

The Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet and SMS4dads are proudly supporting a competition giving soon-to-be-dads or dads with a bub under 12 months old the chance to win $3,000 in a video competition.

First Nations dads are invited to submit a short video (under 2 minutes) showcasing what they love about being or becoming a new dad. The video should be about:

  • What’s deadly about becoming a new dad? (for soon-to-be dads); OR
  • What is something you love doing with your new bub? (for dads with a bub under 12 months)

GET YOUR ENTRY IN NOW!!  Don’t miss out – total prize pool of $10,000. To view a flyer with all the details click here.

banner for Deadly New Dads Video Comp - image of young Aboriginal dad & his baby

Medicines safety PhD opportunity

The Univeristy of Queensland in offering PhD opportunity focused in the area of medicine safety in primary care, as part of the MRFF funded trial “Activating pharmacists to reduce medication related problems: The ACTMed trial”. The focus of the PhD can take a number of directions related to this trial including: (i) co-design of the service with health practitioners and/or consumers; (ii) health service design and evaluation; (iii) medicine safety; or (iv) health economics, depending on the skills and interests of the candidate. The specific research questions can be tailored to the candidate.

The candidate will have the opportunity to work with the experienced team to improve medicine safety at ACCHOs and in mainstream health services and improve population health, including the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. First Nations candidates will have access to the UQ “Yarning for Success” program which will connect you with other Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander researchers throughout their PhD.

The candidate will be required to work closely with ACCHOs, peak bodies such as NACCHO, the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia and other government agencies.

For further information about this PhD opportunity and to apply click here.

Image source: Journal of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society website.

Scholarships to research racism

Two research scholarships funded by Australian Research Council (ARC) are available for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students.

The first is an ARC Indigenous Discovery Aboriginal Youth Racism Project, a 3-year research project funded by the ARC to the value of $30,000 p.a. tax free for 3.5 years full-time study (or part-time equivalent). The objective of this project is to test a new model for assessing covert racism experienced by Indigenous youth, which includes the roles and responsibilities of non-Indigenous agents. This model can be utilised to guide evidence-based interventions to address multiple forms of racism against Indigenous Australians. You can access further information about this scholarship, including application details here.

The second scholarship is for the Aboriginal Youth Racism Project, a 3-year research project funded by the Australian Research Council to the value of s for $27,609 p.a. over 3 years. This project involves researchers from across five universities, led by Murdoch University. The candidate will be enrolled at the University of Technology Sydney based on research at the Perth and Sydney sites and the primary supervisors’ university affiliation. The objective of this research project is to test a new model for assessing covert racism experienced by Indigenous youth, which includes the roles and responsibilities of non-Indigenous agents. This model can be utilised to guide evidence-based interventions to address multiple forms of racism against Indigenous Australians. For further information about this scholarship, including application details here.

hand writing 'RACISM' with chalk on blackboard

Image source: Monash University website.

New process for job advertising

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

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

Dietitians Week 2022

Dietitians Week, held from Monday 21 – Sunday 27 March 2022, is about supporting our nutrition champions and the work they do transforming our lives and communities. Accredited Practicing Dietitians (APDs) around the nation, supported by Dietitians Australia, will be sharing stories about how they improve lives through their experience as nutrition professionals.

Dietitians Week is the time to honour the dietitians in your community. Whether they are your colleagues, acquaintances, loved ones, educators, healthcare partners or carers, help share their extraordinary impact on the lives they touch.

You can find out more about Dietitians Week and download the Dietitians Week digital toolkit here.

The Good Tucker App is one example of the great work that dietitians do in the ACCHO sector. The App was developed by Uncle Jimmy Thubs Up, The University of SA and Menzies School of Health Research in partnership with The George Institute, to provide a simple way for people to identify the healthiest food and drink options available in stores. You can watch a video about the App below download the Good Tucker App here.

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: AIDA decry racism in health care system

feature tile text 'Australian Indigenous Doctors' Association decry racism in health care' & vector art of Aboriginal man & woman tending gravesite

Image in feature tile by Nick Wiggins, Four Corners. Image source: ABC website.

AIDA decry racism in health care system

The Australian Indigenous Doctors’ Association (AIDA) has responded to the ‘Betty’s Story’ report which outlines how the treatment of Ms Yvette “Betty” Booth by health officials at Doomadgee Hospital’s emergency department led to her untimely death at the age of 18 from rheumatic heart disease (RHD). “This report reveals that Ms Booth’s treatment was woefully inadequate,” Dr Tanya Schramm, President of AIDA said.

“Moreover, it is proof of the lethal consequences of racism in the health care system. We are seeing yet another community in mourning because of a death that was entirely avoidable. We must eliminate racism to stop the needless deaths of our people,” Dr Schramm said.

AIDA is advocating for better training in recognition of RHD and better systems to track patients with the condition as well as comprehensive cultural safety training across all agencies within the health system. Cultural safety training encourages practitioners, nurses and administrative staff to examine their unconscious biases, including racism, and build in strategies ensuring the highest level of health care is provided to every patient.

According to RHD Australia, more than 5,000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are currently living with RHD or acute rheumatic fever (ARF), and while some non-Indigenous Australians are susceptible to the disease, it is one that predominantly plagues Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. “RHD in 2022 is a national shame, it is a disease of poverty and overcrowding,” Dr Schramm said.

To view AIDA media release in full click here.

red 3D heart on trace of heartbeat

Image source: AJP

How alcohol companies target youth

The Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education (FARE) is partnering with The University of Queensland (UQ) for a three-year study to better understand how young people are targeted by alcohol companies via social media.

This research comes as investigations by Reset Australia found that Facebook tags children as interested in alcohol, approves alcohol advertisements targeted to children, and continues to harvest children’s data to target them with advertising. On average, advertising technology companies collect more than 72 million data points on a child before they reach the age of 13.

UQ, Lead Chief Investigator, Associate Professor Nicholas Carah said “Digital marketing by alcohol companies is rapidly growing, particularly across social media platforms. A lot of this marketing is targeted at people based on their personal data, and we know young people are being exposed to alcohol advertising.”

“Much of this is occurring out of sight, only being seen by those directly targeted and through content that is short-lived, making it extremely difficult to monitor harmful ads and predatory targeting. By revealing what’s behind the curtain and showing the hidden tactics used by alcohol marketers, we hope these insights provide the urgently needed evidence-base for understanding and effectively governing alcohol marketing in the digital age.”

To view FARE’s media release in full click here

hands using iPhone

Photo: PA Archive/PA Images. Image source: Wales Online.

Address racism to improve kidney care 

Today on World Kidney Day – Thursday 10 March 2022, governments and health services are being urged to act on the ways that racism and cultural bias create disparities in kidney care and transplantation between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and non-Indigenous Australians.

Lowitja Institute and the University of Adelaide today released the Cultural Bias and Indigenous Kidney Care and Kidney Transplantation Report, prepared for the National Indigenous Kidney Transplantation Taskforce (NIKTT). The report details ways to improve kidney transplantation rates and care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples through addressing key barriers that lead to culturally biased care.

This report centres the voices of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with lived experience of kidney disease, using their knowledge and understandings to guide the recommendations put forward.

“We know that institutional racism and systemic bias are barriers to kidney transplantation and affect Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples across the health system,” said Kelli Owen, a proud Kaurna, Narungga, and Ngarrindjeri woman, kidney transplant recipient, and kidney health researcher. “We have the answers to help keep our mob healthy and provide culturally safe kidney care. We just need them to be applied,” Ms Owen said.

To view the media release, which includes a link to the report, click here.

arm of Aboriginal person contacted to dialysis machine

Dialysis involves spending up to five hours hooked up to a machine that artificially cleans a patient’s blood. Photo: Tom Joyner, ABC Goldfields. Image source: ABC News.

Gender equity in pharmacy

In an article ‘Achieving gender equity in the pharmacy profession‘ published in the Australian Pharmacist this week two pharmacists discuss their careers and the biases that must be broken to ensure women can succeed. One of the pharmacists Kate Gill MPS is a consultant pharmacist in Cairns who has been in the profession for 20 years.

“About 12 years ago, I became an accredited pharmacist and branched out into Indigenous healthcare, which included working on the Integrating pharmacists into Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services (IPAC) project at Wuchopperen.

Being part of the wider team to ensure patients received the best health outcomes was a career highlight. We had one patient who used a walker and had issues with housing. Instead of referring him to a wellbeing worker, psychologist or social worker in a report, I visited them individually. We set up a case study for the patient, which helped him acquire accommodation and a new walker.

Although Wuchopperen didn’t have the funding to keep me on post-IPAC, we remained in contact and now I provide home medicine reviews (HMRs) for them.”

To view the article in full click here.

Kate Gill MPS

Kate Gill MPS. Image source: Australian Pharmarcist.

Opthalmic organisations list 2022 priorities

Key ophthalmic organisations have revealed their federal election wish lists, drawing attention to issues such as workforce maldistribution and access for rural and remote communities.

The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Ophthalmologists (RANZCO) say that funding is required for an adequate number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health workers/liaison officers, to coordinate and facilitate services. Institutionalisation of Indigenous community control into funding schemes and service delivery models is also needed to ensure ACCHOs are part of the decision-making process. It also reiterated the need for funding of scholarships and enrolment in specialist training programs to grow the Indigenous workforce and leadership development.

To view the Ophthalmic sector lays out priorities ahead of 2022 federal election Insight article in full click here.

Aboriginal child having eye text

Image source: University of Melbourne.

Project supports LGBTQIA+ mob

Walkern Katatdjin (Rainbow Knowledge) is a peer-led national research project, seeking to hear from the experiences of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander LGBTQIA+ people with mental health, wellbeing and support. The groundbreaking project will focus on the lives of young people, using interviews and yarning groups and a national survey to lead into co-design with LGBTQIA+ young people and services.

The research will also help provide essential information on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander lives not readily available to lawmakers and service providers seeking to develop meaningful inclusion in mental health service provision.

Research team member Shakara Liddelow-Hunt said “What we’re really looking to do is understand the mental health and social and emotional wellbeing for young Aboriginal LGBTQ+ mob. We started by yarning with young mob here in Perth and we’re now looking to launch a national survey.”

To view the Out in Perth article in full click here.

cartoon drawing of two ATSI adults holding both hands between them

Image source: Out In Perth.

First Nations burden of disease data

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (2022) Australian Burden of Disease Study 2018: Interactive data on disease burden among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, AIHW, Australian Government report has just been released.

Burden of disease is a measure of the years of healthy life lost from living with, or dying from disease and injury. The report describes the impact of 219 diseases and injuries among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in terms of living with illness (non-fatal burden) and premature death (fatal burden). It finds that: the burden rate fell by 15% between 2003 and 2018, driven by a substantial drop in fatal burden injuries and chronic diseases (such as mental & substance use disorders, cardiovascular diseases, cancers and musculoskeletal conditions) caused most of the burden in 2018.

For further information about the report click here.

adult ATSI hand touching yellow red black bead bracelet of Aboriginal child

Image source: SCIMEX.

New process for job advertising

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

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