NACCHO Aboriginal Health Conferences and events : This week #WorldMentalHealthDay #WMHD2018 #MentalHealthPromise #10OCT This Month : Register and Download #NACCHOagm2018 Oct 30 – Nov 2 Program @hosw2018 #HOSW18 #HealingOurWay @June_Oscar #WomensVoices #IndigBizMth

 

This week 

World Mental Health Day Oct 10

World Mental Health Week Oct 7- 13 

Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander HIV Awareness Week (ATSIHAW) 28th November to 5th December : Expression of Interest open but close 26 October

This Month

NACCHO AGM 2018 Brisbane Oct 30—Nov 2 Registrations now open : Download the Program 

Future events /conferences

Puggy Hunter Memorial Scholarship applications Close October 14 October
National guide to a preventive health assessment for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people (Third edition) Workshop 10 October 

Now open: Aged Care Regional, Rural and Remote Infrastructure Grant opportunity.$500,000  closes 24 October 2018

The fourth annual Indigenous Business Month this year will celebrate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women in business, to coincide with the 2018 NAIDOC theme Because of Her, We Can.

 

Wiyi Yani U Thangani Women’s Voices project. 

2018 International Indigenous Allied Health Forum at the Mercure Hotel, Sydney, Australia on the 30 November 2018

AIDA Conference 2018 Vision into Action

Healing Our Spirit Worldwide
2nd National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Conference 20-21 November Perth

2019 Close the Gap for Vision by 2020 – National Conference 2019
This week 

This World Mental Health Day – on Wednesday 10 October – will be the biggest yet in Australia, with more than 700 organisations, companies, community groups and charities taking part, as well an official Guinness World Record Attempt in Wagga Wagga to raise awareness and reduce stigma.

The ‘Do You See What I See?’ campaign encourages people to make a #MentalHealthPromise and shed a more positive light on mental health in a bid to reduce stigma for the one in five Australians who are affected by mental illness annually.

More than 700 organisations have engaged with the campaign already this year, which has also seen more than 20,000 mental health promises made by individuals at http://www.1010.org.au .

Five days out from World Mental Health Day itself, on Wednesday 10 October, Mental Health Australia CEO Frank Quinlan says this year’s response has been the biggest ever.

“Year-on-year the interest in World Mental Health Day continues to grow and to me that’s a clear sign that we are reducing stigma, and more and more people are prepared to talk and hopefully seek help,” said Mr. Quinlan.

“We’ve seen a huge increase in the participation of workplaces over the last two years, and have tailored our messaging accordingly to encourage people to shed a more positive light on mental health at work.”

“We know from our recent Investing to Save Report with KPMG that investment in workplace initiatives could save the nation more than $4.5 billion, and to see some of the biggest employers in the country engage with this year’s campaign, is a clear sign that people are becoming more and more aware of just how important it is to look after mental health and wellbeing in the workplace.”

To help celebrate this year’s World Mental Health Day, and to add to the success of the campaign, Mental Health Australia has also linked up with the Wagga Wagga City Council and Bunnings Warehouse to attempt a Guinness World Record for the most number of people wearing high visibility vests in one location.

Aimed to again shed a positive light, and raise the visibility and awareness of mental health in a community, particularly amongst young men, tradies, farmers and their families, the high-viz world record attempt in Wagga on World Mental Health Day has already seen the people of the Riverina come together.

“We often speak about mentally healthy communities and this fun Guinness World Record Attempt has been a great opportunity to engage with, and unite the people of Wagga Wagga for a common goal,” said Mr. Quinlan.

“Thanks to the fantastic support of Bunnings and the Wagga Wagga City Council, as well as 3M and Triple M Riverina, we can’t wait to see a sea of high visibility vests in the Bunnings carpark next Wednesday morning, and who knows we might even break the current record of 2,136.”

To find out more or to register for the Guinness World Record Attempt go to www.1010.org.au/wagga (link is external)

Mental Health Australia would like to thank all the organisations who have shown their support this year and will be helping to raise awareness and reduce stigma next Wednesday 10 October on World Mental Health Day.

To find our more go to www.1010.org.au

Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander HIV Awareness Week (ATSIHAW) 28th November to 5th December : Expression of Interest open but close 26 October

In 2017 we supported more than 60 ACCHS to run community events during ATSIHAW.

We are now seeking final EOIs to host 2018 ATSIHAW Events

EOI’s will remain open until 26th October 2018

ATSIHAW coincides each year with World AIDS Day- our aim is to promote conversation and action around HIV in our communities. Our long lasting theme of ATSIHAW is U AND ME CAN STOP HIV”.

If you would like to host an ATSIHAW event in 2018, please complete the EOI form here Expression of Interest 2018 and then send back to us to at  atsihaw@sahmri.com

Once registered we will send merchandise to your service to help with your event.

For more information about ATSIHAW please visit http://www.atsihiv.org.au/hiv-awareness-week/merchandise/

ATSIHAW on Facebook     https://www.facebook.com/ATSIHAW/

ATSIHAW on Twitter          https://twitter.com/atsihaw

NACCHO AGM 2018 Brisbane Oct 30—Nov 2 Registrations still open

Follow our conference using HASH TAG #NACCHOagm2018

Download Draft Program as at 2 October

NACCHO 7 Page Conference Program 2018_v3

Register HERE

Conference Website Link:

Accommodation Link:                   

The NACCHO Members’ Conference and AGM provides a forum for the Aboriginal community controlled health services workforce, bureaucrats, educators, suppliers and consumers to:

  • Present on innovative local economic development solutions to issues that can be applied to address similar issues nationally and across disciplines
  • Have input and influence from the ‘grassroots’ into national and state health policy and service delivery
  • Demonstrate leadership in workforce and service delivery innovation
  • Promote continuing education and professional development activities essential to the Aboriginal community controlled health services in urban, rural and remote Australia
  • Promote Aboriginal health research by professionals who practice in these areas and the presentation of research findings
  • Develop supportive networks
  • Promote good health and well-being through the delivery of health services to and by Indigenous and non-Indigenous people throughout Australia.

Conference Website Link

Puggy Hunter Memorial Scholarship applications Close October 14 October

The Puggy Hunter Memorial Scholarship Scheme is designed to encourage and assist undergraduate students in health-related disciplines to complete their studies and join the health workforce.

Dr Puggy Hunter was the NACCHO Chair 1991-2001

Puggy was the elected chairperson of the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation, (NACCHO), which is the peak national advisory body on Aboriginal health. NACCHO has a membership of over 144 + Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services and is the representative body of these services. Puggy was the inaugural Chair of NACCHO from 1991 until his death.[1]

Puggy was the vice-chairperson of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Council, the Federal Health Minister’s main advisory body on Aboriginal health established in 1996. He was also Chair of the National Public Health Partnership Aboriginal and Islander Health Working Group which reports to the Partnership and to the Australian Health Ministers Advisory Council. He was a member of the Australian Pharmaceutical Advisory Council (APAC), the General Practice Partnership Advisory Council, the Joint Advisory Group on Population Health and the National Health Priority Areas Action Council as well as a number of other key Aboriginal health policy and advisory groups on national issues.[1]

The scheme provides scholarships for Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people studying an entry level health course.

Applications for PHMSS 2019 scholarship round are now open.

Click the button below to start your online application.

Applications must be completed and submitted before midnight AEDT (Sydney/Canberra time) Sunday 14 October 2018. After this time the system will shut down and any incomplete applications will be lost.

Eligible health areas

  • Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander health work
  • Allied health (excluding pharmacy)
  • Dentistry/oral health (excluding dental assistants)
  • Direct entry midwifery
  • Medicine
  • Nursing; registered and enrolled

Eligibility criteria

Applications will be considered from applicants who are:

  • of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander descent
    Applicants must identify as and be able to confirm their Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander status.
  • enrolled or intending to enrol in an entry level or graduate entry level health related course
    Courses must be provided by an Australian registered training organisation or university. Funding is not available for postgraduate study.
  • intending to study in the academic year that the scholarship is offered.

A significant number of applications are received each year; meeting the eligibility criteria will not guarantee applicants a scholarship offer.

Value of scholarship

Funding is provided for the normal duration of the course. Full time scholarship awardees will receive up to $15,000 per year and part time recipients will receive up to $7,500 per year. The funding is paid in 24 fortnightly instalments throughout the study period of each year.

Selection criteria

These are competitive scholarships and will be awarded on the recommendation of the independent selection committee whose assessment will be based on how applicants address the following questions:

  • Describe what has been your driving influence/motivation in wanting to become a health professional in your chosen area.
  • Discuss what you hope to accomplish as a health professional in the next 5-10 years.
  • Discuss your commitment to study in your chosen course.
  • Outline your involvement in community activities, including promoting the health and well-being of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

The scholarships are funded by the Australian Government, Department of Health and administered by the Australian College of Nursing. The scheme was established in recognition of Dr Arnold ‘Puggy’ Hunter’s significant contribution to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and his role as Chair of the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation.

Important links

Links to Indigenous health professional associations

Contact ACN

e scholarships@acn.edu.au
t 1800 688 628

National guide to a preventive health assessment for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people (Third edition) Workshop 10 October 

The RACGP and NACCHO invite you to a workshop to be held prior to GP18, that
will support your practice team to maximise the opportunity for the prevention of
disease at each health service visit.

A National Guide contributor and a cultural educator will discuss how best to utilise
the third edition of the National Guide when providing care for Aboriginal and Torres
Strait Islander people.

The workshop will also include a focus group exploring implementation of the
National Guide in both mainstream and Aboriginal Community Controlled Primary
Health Care Services (ACCHSs), as well as the characteristics of a culturally
responsive general practice.

Program

• Background and purpose of the National Guide
• Features of the National Guide, including:
• Recommendation tables
• Good practice points
• Evidence base
• Lifecycle wall chart
• Putting the National Guide

Date
Wednesday 10 October 2018

Time
Registration and lunch 12.00 pm
Workshop 12.30–4.00 pm

Venue
Jellurgal Aboriginal Cultural Centre
1711 Gold Coast Highway, Burleigh Heads

Cost
Free of charge

RSVP
Friday 5 October 2018

Registration essential

Registration
Email daniela.doblanovic@racgp.org.au
or call Daniela Doblanovic on 03 8699 0528.

We will then contact you to confirm

 

Now open: Aged Care Regional, Rural and Remote Infrastructure Grant opportunity.$500,000  closes 24 October 2018

This grant opportunity is designed to assist existing approved residential and home care providers in regional, rural and remote areas to invest in infrastructure. Commonwealth Home Support Programme services will also be considered, where there is exceptional need. Funding will be prioritised to aged care services most in need and where geographical constraints and significantly higher costs impede services’ ability to invest in infrastructure works.

Up to $500,000 (GST exclusive) will be available per service via a competitive application process.

Eligibility:

To be eligible you must be:

  • an approved residential or home care provider (as defined under the Aged Care Act 1997) or an approved Commonwealth Home Support Program (CHSP) provider in exceptional circumstances (refer Frequently asked Questions) ; and
  • currently operating an aged care service located in Modified Monash Model Classification 3-7 or if a CHSP provider, the service is located in MMM 6-7. (MMM Locator).

More Info Apply 

The fourth annual Indigenous Business Month this year will celebrate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women in business, to coincide with the 2018 NAIDOC theme Because of Her, We Can.

Throughout October, twenty national Indigenous Business Month events will take place showcasing the talents of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women entrepreneurs from a variety of business sectors. These events aim to ignite conversations about Indigenous business development and innovation, focusing on women’s roles and leadership.

Indigenous Business Month is an initiative driven by the alumni of Melbourne Business School’s MURRA Indigenous Business Master Class, who see business as a way of providing positive role models for young Indigenous Australians and improving quality of life in Indigenous communities.

Since the launch of Indigenous Business Month in 2015, [1] the Indigenous business sector is one of the fastest growing sectors in Australia delivering over $1 billion in goods and services for the Australian economy.

Jason Eades, Director, Consulting at Social Ventures Australia and Indigenous Business Month 2018 host said:

It is a privilege to be involved in Indigenous Business Month, to be able to take the time to celebrate and acknowledge the great achievements of our Indigenous entrepreneurs and their respective businesses. Indigenous entrepreneurs are showing the rest of the world that we can do business and do it well, whilst maintaining our strong cultural values.”

The latest ABS Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Survey 2014-15 shows that only 51.5 percent of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women participate in the workforce compared to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men at 65 percent.

The Australian Government has invested in a range of initiatives to increase Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women entrepreneurs in the work-placeincluding: [2) Continued funding for girls’ academies in high schools, so that young women can realise their leadership potential, greater access to finance and business support suited to the needs of Indigenous businesses with a focus on Indigenous entrepreneurs and start-ups, and expanding the ParentsNextprogram and Fund pre-employment projects via the new Launch into Work program providing flexibility to meet the specific needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women.

Michelle Evans, MURRA Program Director AND Associate Professor of Leadership at the University of Melbourne said:

The Indigenous Business Month’s aim is to inspire, showcase and engage the Indigenous business community. This year it is more significant than ever to support the female Indigenous business community and provide a platform for them to network and encourage young Indigenous women to consider developing a business as a career option.”

Indigenous Business Month runs from October 1 to October 31. Check out the website for an event near you (spaces are limited).

The initiative is supported by 33 Creative, Asia Pacific Social Impact Centre at the University of Melbourne, Iscariot Media, and PwC.

For more information on Indigenous Business Month visit

·         The Websitewww.indigenousbusinessmonth.com.au

·         Facebook

·         Twitter

·         LinkedIn

Wiyi Yani U Thangani Women’s Voices project.

June Oscar AO and her team are excited to hear from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and girls across the country as a part of the Wiyi Yani U Thangani Women’s Voices project.

Whilst we will not be able to get to every community, we hope to hear from as many women and girls as possible through this process. If we are not coming to your community we encourage you to please visit the Have your Say! page of the website to find out more about the other ways to have your voice included through our survey and submission process.

We will be hosting public sessions as advertised below but also a number of private sessions to enable women and girls from particularly vulnerable settings like justice and care to participate.

Details about current, upcoming and past gatherings appears below, however it is subject to change. We will update this page regularly with further details about upcoming gatherings closer to the date of the events.

Please get in touch with us via email wiyiyaniuthangani@humanrights.gov.au or phone on (02) 9284 9600 if you would like more information.

We look forward to hearing from you!

Pathways borders

Current gatherings

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and girls are invited to register for one of the following gatherings

Pathways borders

Upcoming gatherings

If your community is listed below and you would like to be involved in planning for our visit or would like more information, please write to us at wiyiyaniuthangani@humanrights.gov.au or phone (02) 9284 9600.

Location Dates
Port Headland October 2018
Newman October 2018
Dubbo TBC
Brewarrina TBC
Rockhampton TBC
Longreach TBC
Kempsey TBC

Pathways borders

 

Download HERE

2018 International Indigenous Allied Health Forum at the Mercure Hotel, Sydney, Australia on the 30 November 2018.

This Forum will bring together Indigenous and First Nation presenters and panellists from across the world to discuss shared experiences and practices in building, supporting and retaining an Indigenous allied health workforce.

This full-day event will provide a platform to share information and build an integrated approach to improving culturally safe and responsive health care and improve health and wellbeing outcomes for Indigenous peoples and communities.

Delegates will include Indigenous and First Nation allied health professionals and students from Australia, Canada, the USA and New Zealand. There will also be delegates from a range of sectors including, health, wellbeing, education, disability, academia and community.

MORE INFO 

AIDA Conference 2018 Vision into Action


Building on the foundations of our membership, history and diversity, AIDA is shaping a future where we continue to innovate, lead and stay strong in culture. It’s an exciting time of change and opportunity in Indigenous health.

The AIDA conference supports our members and the health sector by creating an inspiring networking space that engages sector experts, key decision makers, Indigenous medical students and doctors to join in an Indigenous health focused academic and scientific program.

AIDA recognises and respects that the pathway to achieving equitable and culturally-safe healthcare for Indigenous Australians is dynamic and complex. Through unity, leadership and collaboration, we create a future where our vision translates into measureable and significantly improved health outcomes for our communities. Now is the time to put that vision into action.

Registrations Close August 31

Healing Our Spirit Worldwide

Global gathering of Indigenous people to be held in Sydney
University of Sydney, The Healing Foundation to co-host Healing Our Spirit Worldwide
Gawuwi gamarda Healing Our Spirit Worldwidegu Ngalya nangari nura Cadigalmirung.
Calling our friends to come, to be at Healing Our Spirit Worldwide. We meet on the country of the Cadigal.
In November 2018, up to 2,000 Indigenous people from around the world will gather in Sydney to take part in Healing Our Spirit Worldwide: The Eighth Gathering.
A global movement, Healing Our Spirit Worldwidebegan in Canada in the 1980s to address the devastation of substance abuse and dependence among Indigenous people around the world. Since 1992 it has held a gathering approximately every four years, in a different part of the world, focusing on a diverse range of topics relevant to Indigenous lives including health, politics, social inclusion, stolen generations, education, governance and resilience.
The International Indigenous Council – the governing body of Healing Our Spirit Worldwide – has invited the University of Sydney and The Healing Foundation to co-host the Eighth Gathering with them in Sydney this year. The second gathering was also held in Sydney, in 1994.
 Please also feel free to tag us in any relevant cross posting: @HOSW8 @hosw2018 #HOSW18 #HealingOurWay #TheUniversityofSydney

2nd National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Conference 20-21 November Perth

” The National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention and World Indigenous Suicide Prevention Conference Committee invite and welcome you to Perth for the second National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Conference, and the second World Indigenous Suicide Prevention Conference.

Our Indigenous communities, both nationally and internationally, share common histories and are confronted with similar issues stemming from colonisation. Strengthening our communities so that we can address high rates of suicide is one of these shared issues. The Conferences will provide more opportunities to network and collaborate between Indigenous people and communities, policy makers, and researchers. The Conferences are unique opportunities to share what we have learned and to collaborate on solutions that work in suicide prevention.

This also enables us to highlight our shared priorities with political leaders in our respective countries and communities.

Conference Website 

2019 Close the Gap for Vision by 2020 – National Conference 2019
Indigenous Eye Health and co-host Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance Northern Territory (AMSANT) are pleased to announce the Close the Gap for Vision by 2020 – National Conference 2019 which will be held in Alice Springs, Northern Territory on Thursday 14 and Friday 15 March 2019 at the Alice Springs Convention Centre.
The 2019 conference will run over two days with the aim of bringing people together and connecting people involved in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander eye care from local communities, ACCOs, health services, non-government organisations, professional bodies and government departments from across the country. We would like to invite everyone who is working on or interested in improving eye health and care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians.
More information available at: go.unimelb.edu.au/wqb6 

NACCHO Aboriginal #SexualHealth News Alert : @sahmriAU #NT #QLD #WA #SA Syphilis outbreak : New #YoungDeadlySyphilisFree TV and Radio campaign launched today 9 September @atsihaw : Plus @researchjames article

 ” SAHMRI launches Phase 2 of its Young Deadly Syphilis Free campaign today, with two new TV commercials screening in syphilis outbreak areas across Queensland the Northern Territory, Western Australia and South Australia. Radio snippets will also be broadcast, in English and local languages.”

Watch here 

No 2 Watch here 

Medical experts describe the top end’s syphilis epidemic as a “failure of public health at every level of government .

As an infectious syphilis epidemic continues to ravage northern Australia – now threatening the lives of newborn babies – Indigenous sexual health specialist James Ward is leading a campaign to help remote communities. By Michele Tydd.

From The Saturday Paper see in full Part 2 Below

Aboriginal #Sexualhealth News : 

NACCHO is co-leading a coordinated Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services (ACCHS) $8.8 million response to address the #syphilis outbreak in Northern Australia. @Wuchopperen @DanilaDilba @TAIHS__

Read over 40 Aboriginal Sexual Health articles published over past 6 years

Part 1 : The TV and radio syphilis campaign will build on messaging developed for Phase 1 of the campaign, which ran until March this year.

Once again the campaign will be strongly supported by social media, with regular Facebook posts, Divas Chat advertising  and promotion on our website www.youngdeadlyfree.org.au featuring all new video clips and infographics.

The campaign promotes whole communities’ involvement in tackling syphilis as a public health issue along with other STIs, and has involved young people, clinicians and people of influence such as parents and extended family members/carers.

New clinician resources for those practising in remote communities will also be developed over the next year, promoting appropriate testing to those most at risk, including testing of antenatal women during pregnancy.

Have a look at the TV commercials and a couple of the new short videos by clicking the images below OR access them on the syphilis outbreak webpages at http://youngdeadlyfree.org.au/

Problems downloading the videos?

Contact SAHMRI at kathleen.brodie@sahmri.com for a USB containing Young Deadly Syphilis Free videos, as well as STI and BBV resources developed for the Remote STI and BBV Project – Young Deadly Free; and HIV resources developed for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander HIV Awareness Week – ATSIHAW.

Phase 1 Rescreened

No 2 Watch Here 

The Young Deadly Syphilis Free campaign is funded by the Australian Government Department of Health.

Part 2 As an infectious syphilis epidemic continues to ravage northern Australia – now threatening the lives of newborn babies – Indigenous sexual health specialist James Ward is leading a campaign to help remote communities.

By Michele Tydd

While the federal government committed $8.8 million this year to fight an ongoing syphilis epidemic sweeping Australia’s top end, many prominent sexual health physicians and academics claim the money is too little too late.

From The Saturday Paper 

“Every day there are more cases, so we are not seeing a downward trend yet,” says Dr Manoji Gunathilake, who heads up a government-run health service known as Clinic 34.

Gunathilake is the Northern Territory’s only specialist sexual health physician. She says local health workers are ramping up testing as part of a fight to contain the infection, which particularly affects young sexually active Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders in the territory. However, it seems those measures are struggling to contain the STI’s spread.

Nearly seven years ago, an increase in syphilis notifications showed up in north-west Queensland. The outbreak soon moved across to the NT, then to Western Australia and more recently into South Australia. So far, more than 2100 cases – evenly split between males and females – have been recorded across the affected zones.

However, the key concern for health-care professionals is the potential health consequences for babies born to women with the infection. Syphilis is primarily spread through sexual contact, but it can also be passed from mother to baby. Since 2011, six babies have died from congenital syphilis – the latest death came in January this year in northern Queensland. The STI also carries antenatal risks, increasing the chance of miscarriage and stillbirth.

Darren Russell, a Cairns-based associate professor of medicine at both James Cook University and the University of Melbourne, has been working in sexual health for 25 years. He describes the top end’s syphilis epidemic as a “failure of public health at every level of government”.

He says he’s not sure whether the outbreak could have been prevented entirely. However, he believes there was an opportunity for public health officials to stop it from escalating.

“The first case occurred in the Gulf country of north-west Queensland in January 2012 and the first Northern Territory cases weren’t found until July 2013,” says Russell. “There was a window of opportunity in 2012 to work with the affected local communities and to fly in extra nurses, doctors and Indigenous health workers to do some good culturally appropriate health promotion. But nothing at all happened, absolutely nothing as the epidemic spread.

“The first Queensland state funding to deal with the now widespread epidemic was rolled out in 2016, more than five years after the epidemic began, and the first Commonwealth money has only been allocated this year.”

Russell says he could not imagine the same happening if a deadly epidemic broke out in a major city.

“For years now a multijurisdictional syphilis outbreak committee has been coordinating the response largely without additional resourcing to reach people most at risk,” says Associate Professor James Ward, an Indigenous researcher and sexual health specialist who heads the Aboriginal infection and immunity program at SAHMRI (the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute) in Adelaide. Ward has been working behind the scenes for years, trying to bring more attention and funding to this outbreak.

“Workforce is certainly an issue because syphilis is an infection that not many clinicians have been exposed to in clinical practice and this is further exacerbated by a high turnover of staff in remote communities,” he says. “Community awareness and understanding of the infection has been very low, so we have been recently trying to get the message out on the internet and social media”.

The multi-strategy STI awareness-raising campaign urging people to be tested is targeted at the 30,000 young people aged between 15 and 34 in affected outbreak areas through the website youngdeadlyfree.org.au/syphilis as well as a dedicated Facebook page.

“We’ve also been tapping into online chat programs young people are using in remote areas such as Diva Chat,” says Ward.

Since the 1940s, penicillin has been used to successfully treat the syphilis infection, although people can become reinfected. While deaths in adults are now rare, the consequences can be dire for babies born to mothers who have been infected at some stage either before or during the pregnancy.

“There is a wide range of quite sinister pathology in babies born with syphilis,” says Professor Basil Donovan of the Kirby Institute at the University of New South Wales, who has been treating syphilis cases for nearly four decades.

Some babies are merely snuffly and miserable, sometimes with heavily blood-stained nasal discharge. Others can suffer neurological damage and bone deformities that can cause great pain when they move their limbs.

Donovan says that, for the past 60 years, every pregnant woman in Australia should have been routinely tested for syphilis. “The big difference between adults and babies is that all the damage is done before they are born,” he says. “If there is more syphilis about, then catastrophe becomes inevitable.”

Syphilis, caused by the bacteria Treponema pallidum, is an infection primarily spread through unprotected vaginal, anal or oral sex.

The first sign in adults is most likely a painless sore on the skin, normally where the bacteria has entered the body during sexual intercourse – in the genital area or in the mouth.

Secondary syphilis occurs about six weeks later with symptoms that include a general feeling of being unwell, a rash on the hands, feet or other parts of the body. Soft lumps might also develop on the warm, moist areas of the body such as the genitals and around the anus. Symptoms can often be dismissed as being due to flu or cold.

Outward symptoms of secondary syphilis, such as the initial sores, will disappear without treatment, but the person affected will still have latent syphilis.

The third stage, known as early and late latent syphilis, which may develop any time between one and 30 years later, can seriously affect the brain, spinal cord or heart and – rarely now – can lead to death.

“Before penicillin, syphilis was a terrible way to die,” says Donovan. “In about a third of those who contracted it, it would go on to cause serious neurological or brain disease, spinal disease or heart problems particularly with the aorta.

“That said, even now one in about 30 per cent who get syphilis will get some neurological disease. All of us clinicians have got patients who might have lost sight in one eye or gone deaf in one ear as a result.”

Donovan stresses the current outbreak in the top end has nothing to do with sexual behaviour. “[Residents in these regions] have the same number of partners [as the broader population] so very high levels of STIs including syphilis are more the result of failure in health-care delivery,” he says.

Gunathilake says the NT has seen more than 800 cases of infectious syphilis since the outbreak began. She wants to help build an educated and stable workforce, especially to support the remote clinicians.

“In these remote areas health-care workers don’t tend to say for long periods so it’s important to train and update new staff members quickly,” she says.

Work is also being done in community engagement by producing promotional material in several Indigenous languages to help people better understand the importance of testing and treatment as well as tracing and informing sexual partners.

“Going home and passing on the diagnosis to sexual partners is very difficult for anybody and much more challenging in any close-knit community,” says Gunathilake.

“Many people regardless of background feel ashamed about having STIs and they don’t want to tell anyone, so it is a psychological burden, but our staff are trained to help people in this situation.”

She says contact tracing can be more difficult for people who have casual or anonymous partners. Gay men are represented in the NT outbreak, but only in relatively small numbers.

A spokeswoman for the federal government says the first round of the federal money has gone to three urban Aboriginal health-care centres in Cairns, Darwin and Townsville, which will roll out a new “test and treat” model at the point of care.

The next phase of funding is expected to be directed at remote communities.

There is no indication when this outbreak will start to retract, says Basil Donovan, who was working as a doctor during the AIDS epidemic in the late 1980s. This is because once STIs outbreaks take off, they don’t just cycle through like a flu epidemic. “It takes at least five to 10 years to get a major outbreak under control, and part of that involves a permanent [health-care] workforce to develop trust,” he says. “People flying in and flying out won’t even touch the sides.”

This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on Sep 8, 2018 as “Into the outbreak”. Subscribe here.

Aboriginal #Sexualhealth News : @KenWyattMP : NACCHO is co-leading a coordinated Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services (ACCHS) $8.8 million response to address the #syphilis outbreak in Northern Australia. @Wuchopperen @DanilaDilba @TAIHS__

These tests are a critical weapon in the fight to curb and control the spread of syphilis,

Previously, it could take up to a fortnight for results of traditional blood tests to be returned, leading in some cases to problems locating patients who had moved on after giving blood samples.

These instant tests will allow people to be diagnosed on-the-spot for syphilis and given immediate treatment if needed, hopefully providing a vital circuit-breaker against the spread of the disease.”

Indigenous Health Minister Ken Wyatt AM  : The Turnbull Government has committed $8.8 million over three years to support the work of Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services to combat the syphilis outbreak.

Read over 45 Aboriginal Sexual Health articles pubished by NACCHO over the past 6 years 

 

NACCHO is co-leading a coordinated Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services(ACCHS) $8.8 million response to address the syphilis outbreak in Northern Australia.

This will address the disproportionately high rates of syphilis and other Blood-Borne Viruses (BBV) and Sexually Transmissible Infections (STI) in regional and remote Indigenous communities.

Graph above Outbreak from

There is an ongoing outbreak of infectious syphilis affecting young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, predominately aged between 15 and 29 years, living in northern Australia.

The outbreak began in northern Queensland in January 2011, extended to the Northern Territory in July 2013, and then onto the Kimberley region of Western Australia in June 2014. In March 2017, South Australia declared an outbreak in the Western, Eyre and Far North regions from November 2016.

Current outbreak data to 31 May 2018 are attached in the surveillance report below. For historical data, please refer to the Reports section below.

NACCHO press release continued

NACCHO has appointed an Enhanced Response Coordinator to build community awareness and work with Wuchopperen Health Service, Danila Dilba Health Service and Townsville Aboriginal and Islanders Health Services (TAIHS).

The Training Coordinator Flinders Univesity is already at work rolling out a series of workshops and training of Point of Care (PoC) testing for a 12-month period that has been supported by a grant of $8.8 million from the Federal Department of Health.

NACCHO is also delivering education, testing kits and organising pharmaceutical supplies across Northern Australia.

For more information please email the NACCHO Enhanced Response Coordinator:

ESR@naccho.org.au

Part 2

From today, rapid point-of-care testing is underway across three high-risk regions of Northern Australia, as part of the Turnbull Government’s $8.8 million surge response to the syphilis outbreak.

After months of extensive preparations, followed by recent intensive staff training, 3,000 test kits have been sent to the Townsville Aboriginal and Islander Health Service, 3,000 to the Wuchopperen Health Service in Cairns and 4,000 to the Danila Dilba Health Service in Darwin.

“The three sites we are initially targeting have been chosen in consultation with the Queensland and Northern Territory governments and the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation, based on the high number of syphilis cases in these areas,” Minister Wyatt said.

“Quality assurance programs have also been provided to support the health services to increase syphilis testing and treatment rates, including a strong focus on expectant mothers and women considering pregnancy.

“The Department of Health has finalised negotiations with suppliers for the provision of 62,000 test kits, so all services involved will have further supplies available.”

Minister Wyatt said curbing the syphilis outbreak and ensuring the safety of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities was a top priority for the Turnbull Government.

The surge response funding includes provision for:

  1. Any extra workforce required to implement the ‘test and treat’ strategy
  2. Additional training in syphilis testing and sexual health care
  3. Development of targeted, culturally appropriate communication and education materials

“The Commonwealth Chief Medical Officer is leading this nationally coordinated response, in conjunction with relevant states and territories, which have the primary role of delivering sexual health services and dealing with infectious disease outbreaks,” Minister Wyatt said.

“Discussions are now underway for a second phase of the rollout over the next few months. Sites under consideration are in Katherine, Arnhem Land and the Kimberley. Potential locations in South Australia, as well as additional services in the Northern Territory and Queensland are also being investigated for further phases.”

The Turnbull Government has committed $8.8 million over three years to support the work of Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services to combat the syphilis outbreak.

 

NACCHO Media Alerts : Top 10 Current Aboriginal Health News Stories to keep you up to date

1. Aboriginal sexual health: The Australian : Was the syphilis epidemic preventable ? NACCHO responds

2.Royal Flying Doctors Service extra 4-year funding $84 million Mental Health and Dental Services

3.Nurses PAQ continues political membership campaign spreading false and misleading information about our cultural safety

4.AMSANT has called for re-doubled efforts to implement the recommendations of the Royal Commission into the care and protection of children in partnership with NT Aboriginal leaders

5.Dialysis facilities worth $17 million are sitting padlocked, empty and unused in WA’s north

6.ALRC Report into Incarceration of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People.

7. Minister Ken Wyatt : Listening to Indigenous Needs: Healthy Ears Program Extended with $29.4 commitment

8.Tangentyere Alice Springs Women’s Family Safety Group visits Canberra

9.Minister Ken Wyatt launches our NACCHO RACGP National Guide to a preventative health assessment for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people

10. Your guide to a healthy Easter : #Eggs-actly  

 

1.Aboriginal sexual health: The Australian : Was the syphilis epidemic preventable ? NACCHO responds

“These (STIs) are preventable diseases and we need increased testing, treatment plans and a ­culturally appropriate health ­education campaign that focuses resources on promoting safe-sex messages delivered to at-risk ­communities by our trained Aboriginal workforce,”

Pat Turner, chief executive of peak body the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation, is adamant about this.

Read full article in Easter Monday The Australian or Part B below

2.Royal Flying Doctors Service extra 4-year funding $84 million Mental Health and Dental Services

Read full press release here

 

3.Nurses PAQ continues political membership campaign spreading false and misleading information about cultural safety

SEE NACCHO Response

SEE an Indigenous Patients Response

See Nurses PAQ Misleading and false campaign

4. AMSANT  has called for re-doubled efforts to implement the recommendations of the Royal Commission into the care and protection of children in partnership with NT Aboriginal leaders

Read full AMSANT press Release

Listen to interview with Donna Ah Chee

Press Release @NACCHOChair calls on the Federal Government to work with us to keep our children safe

#WeHaveTheSolutions Plus comments from CEO’s @Anyinginyi @DanilaDilba

4.Dialysis facilities worth $17 million are sitting padlocked, empty and unused in WA’s north

Read full Story HERE

6.ALRC Report into Incarceration of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People;

Read Download Full Transcript

Senator Patrick Dodson

Download the report from HERE

Community Groups Call For Action on Indigenous Incarceration Rates

7. Minister Ken Wyatt : Listening to Indigenous Needs: Healthy Ears Program Extended with $29.4 commitment

The Australian Government has committed $29.4 million to extend the Healthy Ears – Better Hearing, Better Listening Program, to help ensure tens of thousands more Indigenous children and young adults grow up with good hearing and the opportunities it brings.

Read Press Release HEAR

8.Tangentyere Alice Springs Women’s Family Safety Group visits Canberra

This week the Tangentyere Women’s Family Safety Group from Alice Springs were in Canberra. They shared with politicians, their own solutions for their own communities, and they are making an enormous difference.
Big thanks to all the Tangentyere women who made it to Canberra.

Read Download the Press Release

TANGENTYERE WOMEN’S FAMILY SAFETY GROUP (FED

9. Minister Ken Wyatt launches our NACCHO RACGP National Guide to a preventative health assessment for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people

Read press releases and link to Download the National Guide

10. Your guide to a  healthy Easter : #Eggs-actly  

And finally hope you had a Happy Easter all you mob ! After you have enjoyed your chocolate eggs and hot cross buns , this is how much exercise you will require to work of those Easter treats .

For medical and nutrition advice please check with your ACCHO Doctor , Health Promotion / Lifestyle teams or one of our ACCHO nutritionists

 

Part B Full Text The Australian Article Easter Monday

There is no reason it should have happened, especially not in a first-world country like Australia, but it has: indigenous communities in the country’s north are in the grip of wholly treatable sexually transmitted diseases.

In the case of syphilis, it is an epidemic — West Australian Labor senator Patrick Dodson ­described it as such, in a fury, when health department bureaucrats mumbled during Senate estimates about having held a few “meetings” on the matter.

There have been about 2000 syphilis notifications — with at least 13 congenital cases, six of them fatal — since the outbreak began in northern Queensland in 2011, before spreading to the Northern Territory, Western Australia and, finally, South Australia.

What’s worse, it could have been stopped. James Ward, of the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute, wrote in mid-2011 that there had been a “downward trend” over several years and it was likely at that point that the “elimination of syphilis is achievable within indigenous ­remote communities”.

But governments were slow to react, and Ward is now assisting in the design of an $8.8 million emergency “surge” treatment approach on the cusp of being rolled out in Cairns and Darwin, with sites in the two remaining affected states yet to be identified.

It will be an aggressive strategy — under previous guidelines, you had to have been identified during a health check as an active carrier of syphilis to be treated. Now, anyone who registers antibodies for the pathogen during a blood prick test, whether actively carrying syphilis or not, will receive an ­immediate penicillin injection in an attempt to halt the infection’s geographical spread.

This is key: the high mobility of indigenous people in northern and central Australia means pathogens cross jurisdictions with ­impunity. Australian Medical ­Association president Michael Gannon calls syphilis a “clever bacterium that will never go away”, warning that “bugs don’t respect state borders”.

Olga Havnen, one of the Northern Territory’s most respected public health experts, points out that many people “will have connections and relations from the Torres Strait through to the Kimberley and on to Broome — and it’s only a matter of seven or eight kilometres between PNG and the northernmost islands there in the Torres Strait”.

“This is probably something that’s not really understood by the broader Australian community,” Havnen says. “I suspect once you get a major outbreak of something like encephalitis or Dengue fever, any of those mosquito-borne diseases, and that starts to encroach onto the mainland, then people will start to get a bit worried.”

Olga Havnen, CEO of the Danila Dilba Health Service, says transmission is complex issue in Australia’s indigenous communities.
Olga Havnen, CEO of the Danila Dilba Health Service, says transmission is complex issue in Australia’s indigenous communities.

But it is not just syphilis — ­indeed, not even just STIs — that have infectious disease authorities concerned and the network of Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations stretched.

Chlamydia, the nation’s most frequently diagnosed STI in 2016 based on figures from the Kirby Institute at the University of NSW, is three times more likely to be contracted by an indigenous Australian than a non-­indigenous one.

The rate was highest in the NT, at 1689.1 notifications per 100,000 indigenous people, compared with 607.9 per 100,000 non-indigenous Territorians. If you’re indigenous, you’re seven times more likely to contract gonorrhoea, spiking to 15 times more likely if only women are considered. Syphilis, five times more likely.

As the syphilis response gets under way, health services such as the one Havnen leads, the Darwin-based Danila Dilba, will be given extra resources to tackle it. “With proper resourcing, if you want to be doing outreach with those people who might be visitors to town living in the long grass, then we’re probably best placed to be able to do that,” she says.

But the extra focus comes with a warning. A spate of alleged sexual assaults on Aboriginal children, beginning with a two-year-old in Tennant Creek last month and followed by three more alleged ­attacks, has raised speculation of a link between high STI rates and evidence of child sexual assault.

After the first case, former NT children’s commissioner Howard Bath told this newspaper that STI rates were “a better indicator of background levels of abuse than reporting because so many of those cases don’t get reported to anyone, whereas kids with serious infections do tend to go to a ­doctor”. Others, including Alice Springs town councillor Jacinta Price and Aboriginal businessman Warren Mundine, raised the ­spectre of the need for removing more at-risk indigenous children from dangerous environments.

Children play AFL in Yeundumu. Picture: Jason Edwards
Children play AFL in Yeundumu. Picture: Jason Edwards

However, Sarah Giles, Danila Dilba’s clinical director and a medical practitioner of 20 years’ standing in northern Australia, warns this kind of response only exacerbates the problem. She is one of a range of public health authorities who, like Havnen, say connecting high STI figures to the very real scourge of child sex abuse simply makes no sense. They do not carry correlated data sets, the experts say.

“One of the things that’s really unhelpful about trying to manage STIs at a population level is to link it with child abuse and mandatory reporting, and for people to be fearful of STIs,” Giles says. “The problem is that when they’re conflated and when communities feel that they can’t get help ­because things might be misinterpreted or things might be reported, they’re less likely to present with symptoms. The majority of STIs are in adults and they’re sexually transmitted.”

Havnen says there is evidence of STIs being transmitted non-sexually, including to children, such as through poor hand ­hygiene, although Giles says that is “reasonably rare”. And while NT data shows five children under 12 contracted either chlamydia or gonorrhoea in 2016 (none had syphilis), and there were another five under 12 last year, Havnen points to the fact that over the past decade there has been no increasing trend in under 12s being affected. Where there has been a rise in the NT is in people aged between 13 and 19, with annual gonorrhoea notifications increasing from 64 cases in the 14-15-year-old ­female cohort in 2006 to 94 notifications in 2016.

In the 16-17-year-old female ­cohort the same figures were 96 and 141 and in the 12-13-year-old group it rose from 20 in 2006 to 33 in 2016. Overall, for both boys and girls under 16, annual gonorrhoea notifications rose from 109 in 2006 to 186 in 2016, according to figures provided to the royal ­commission into child detention by NT Health. Havnen describes the rise as “concerning but not, on its own, evidence of increasing ­levels of sexual abuse”.

Ward is more direct. Not all STIs are the result of sexual abuse, he warns, and not all sexual abuse results in an STI. If you’re a health professional trying to deal with an epidemiological wildfire, the distinction matters — the data and its correct interpretations can literally be a matter of life and death.

Indeed, in its own written cav­eats to the material it provided to the royal commission, the department warns that sexual health data is “very much subject to variations in testing” and warns against making “misleading assumptions about trends”. Ward says: “Most STIs notified in remote indigenous communities are ­assumed to be the result of sex ­between consenting adults — that is, 16 to 30-year-olds. Of the under 16s, the majority are 14 and 15-year-olds.” He says a historically high background prevalence of STIs in remote indigenous communities — along with a range of other ­infectious diseases long eradicated elsewhere — is to blame for their ongoing presence. Poor education, health services and hygiene contribute, and where drug and ­alcohol problems exist, sexually risky behaviour is more likely too. The lingering impact of colonisation and arrival of diseases then still common in broader ­society cannot be underestimated.

But Ward claims that an apparently high territory police figure of about 700 cases of “suspected child sexual offences” in the NT over the past five years may be misleading. He says a large number of these are likely to be the result of mandatory reporting, where someone under 16 is known to have a partner with an age gap of more than two years, or someone under 14 is known to be engaging in sexual activity. Ward points out that 15 is the nationwide ­median sexual debut age, an age he suggests is dropping. At any rate, he argues, child sex abuse is unlikely to be the main reason for that high rate of mandatory ­reporting in the NT.

Areyonga is a small Aboriginal community a few hours drive from Alice Springs.
Areyonga is a small Aboriginal community a few hours drive from Alice Springs.

Data matters, and so does how it is used. Chipping away at the perception of child sexual abuse in indigenous communities are the latest figures from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare showing the rate of removals for that crime is actually higher in non-indigenous Australia.

According to a report this month from the AIHW, removals based on substantiated sex abuse cases in 2016-17 were starkly different for each cohort: 8.3 per cent for indigenous children, from a total of 13,749 removals, and 13.4 per cent for non-indigenous children, from 34,915 removals.

Havnen concedes there is a need for better reporting of child abuse and has called for a confidential helpline that would be free of charge and staffed around the clock by health professionals.

It’s based on a model already in use in Europe that she says deals with millions of calls a year — but it would require a comprehensive education and publicity campaign if it were to gain traction in remote Australia. And that means starting with the adults.

“If you’re going to do sex ­education in schools and you start to move into the area about sexual abuse and violence and so on, it’s really important that adults are ­educated first about what to do with that information,” she says. “Because too often if you just ­educate kids, and they come home and make a disclosure, they end up being told they’re liars.”

These challenges exist against the backdrop of a community already beset by a range of infectious diseases barely present elsewhere in the country, including the STIs that should be so easily treatable. It is, as Havnen is the first to admit, a complex matter.

Cheryl Jones, president of the Australasian Society for Infectious Diseases, says the answer is better primary treatment solutions and education, rather than trying to solve the problem after it has ­occurred. “For any of these public health infectious disease problems in ­remote and rural areas, we need to support basic infrastructure at the point of care and work alongside communities to come up with ­solutions,” she says.

Sisters play in the mud after a rare rain at Hoppy's 'town camp' on the outskirts of Alice Springs.
Sisters play in the mud after a rare rain at Hoppy’s ‘town camp’ on the outskirts of Alice Springs.

Pat Turner, chief executive of peak body the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation, is adamant about this. “These (STIs) are preventable diseases and we need increased testing, treatment plans and a ­culturally appropriate health ­education campaign that focuses resources on promoting safe-sex messages delivered to at-risk ­communities by our trained Aboriginal workforce,” Turner says.

The Australian Medical ­Association has called for the formation of a national Centre for Disease Control, focusing on global surveillance and most likely based in the north, as being “urgently needed to provide national leadership and to co-ordinate rapid and effective public health responses to manage communicable diseases and outbreaks”.

“The current approach to disease threats, and control of infectious diseases, relies on disjointed state and commonwealth formal structures, informal networks, collaborations, and the goodwill of public health and infectious disease physicians,” the association warned in a submission to the Turnbull government last year.

However, the federal health ­department has rebuffed the CDC argument, telling the association that “our current arrangements are effective” and warning the suggestion could introduce “considerable overlap and duplication with existing functions”.

“I think it (the CDC) might have some merit, if it helps to ­advocate with government about what needs to happen,” Havnen says, “but if these things are going to be targeted at Aboriginal bodies, it needs to be a genuine partnership. It’s got to be informed by the realities on the ground and what we know. That information has to be fed up into the planning process.”

Minister @KenWyattMP launches NACCHO @RACGP National guide for healthcare professionals to improve health of #Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients

 

All of our 6000 staff in 145 member services in 305 health settings across Australia will have access to this new and update edition of the National Guide. It’s a comprehensive edition for our clinicians and support staff that updates them all with current medical practice.

“NACCHO is committed to quality healthcare for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients, and will work with all levels of government to ensure accessibility for all.”

NACCHO Chair John Singer said the updated National Guide would help governments improve health policy and lead initiatives that support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

You can Download the Guide via this LINK

A/Prof Peter O’Mara, NACCHO Chair John Singer Minister Ken Wyatt & RACGP President Dr Bastian Seidel launch the National guide at Parliament house this morning

“Prevention is always better than cure. Already one of the most widely used clinical guidelines in Australia, this new edition includes critical information on lung cancer, Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder and preventing child and family abuse and violence.

The National Guide maximises the opportunities at every clinic visit to prevent disease and to find it early.It will help increase vigilance over previously undiagnosed conditions, by promoting early intervention and by supporting broader social change to help individuals and families improve their wellbeing.”

Minister Ken Wyatt highlights what is new to the 3rd Edition of the National Guide-including FASD, lung cancer, young people lifecycle, family abuse & violence and supporting families to optimise child safety & wellbeing : Pic Lisa Whop SEE Full Press Release Part 2 Below

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) and the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) have joined forces to produce a guide that aims to improve the level of healthcare currently being delivered to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients and close the gap.

Chair of RACGP Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Associate Professor Peter O’Mara said the third edition of the National guide to a preventive health assessment for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people (the National Guide) is an important resource for all health professionals to deliver best practice healthcare to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients.

“The National Guide will support all healthcare providers, not just GPs, across Australia to improve prevention and early detection of disease and illness,” A/Prof O’Mara said.

“The prevention and early detection of disease and illness can improve people’s lives and increase their lifespans.

“The National Guide will support healthcare providers to feel more confident that they are looking for health issues in the right way.”

RACGP President Dr Bastian Seidel said the RACGP is committed to tackling the health disparities between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.

“The National Guide plays a vital role in closing the gap in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health disparity,” Dr Seidel said.

“Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people should have equal access to quality healthcare across Australia and the National guide is an essential part of ensuring these services are provided.

“GPs and other healthcare providers who implement the recommendations within the National Guide will play an integral role in reducing health disparity between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians, and ensuring culturally responsive and appropriate healthcare is always available.”

The updated third edition of the National Guide can be found on the RACGP website and the NACCHO website.

 

Free to download on the RACGP website and the NACCHO website:

http://www.racgp.org.au/national-guide/

and NACCHO

Part 2 Prevention and Early Diagnosis Focus for a Healthier Future

The critical role of preventive care and tackling the precursors of chronic disease is being boosted in the latest guide for health professionals working to close the gap in health equality for Indigenous Australians

The critical role of preventive care and tackling the precursors of chronic disease is being boosted in the latest guide for health professionals working to close the gap in health equality for Indigenous Australians.

Minister for Indigenous Health, Ken Wyatt AM, today launched the updated third edition of the National guide to a preventive health assessment for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

“Prevention is always better than cure,” said Minister Wyatt. “Already one of the most widely used clinical guidelines in Australia, this new edition includes critical information on lung cancer, Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder and preventing child and family abuse and violence.

“The National Guide maximises the opportunities at every clinic visit to prevent disease and to find it early.

“It will help increase vigilance over previously undiagnosed conditions, by promoting early intervention and by supporting broader social change to help individuals and families improve their wellbeing.”

The guide, which was first published in 2005, is a joint project between the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) and the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners RACGP).

“To give you some idea of the high regard in which it is held, the last edition was downloaded 645,000 times since its release in 2012,” said Minister Wyatt.

“The latest edition highlights the importance of individual, patient-centred care and has been developed to reflect local and regional needs.

“Integrating resources like the national guide across the whole health system plays a pivotal role in helping us meet our Closing the Gap targets.

“The Turnbull Government is committed to accelerating positive change and is investing in targeted activities that have delivered significant reductions in the burden of disease.

“Rates of heart disease, smoking and binge drinking are down. We are on track to achieve the child mortality target for 2018 and deaths associated with kidney and respiratory diseases have also reduced.”

The National Guide is funded under the Indigenous Australian’s Health Programme as part of a record $3.6 billion investment across four financial years.

The RACGP received $429,000 to review, update, publish and distribute the third edition, in hard copy and electronic formats.

The National Guide is available on the RACGP website or by contacting RACGP Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health on 1800 000 251 or aboriginalhealth@racgp.org.au.

 

 

 

Press Release @NACCHOChair calls on the Federal Government to work with us to keep our children safe #WeHaveTheSolutions Plus comments from CEO’s @Anyinginyi @DanilaDilba

” The sexual abuse of any Aboriginal or non-Aboriginal children has got to stop.

 It is not acceptable and in no way can our communities, the Australian community at large or Governments at all levels condone this continuing.

 I welcome a thorough investigation by the Northern Territory Child Abuse Taskforce and Children’s Commissioner into this grave allegation.”

The National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation(NACCHO ) Chair John Singer said he is deeply concerned that some of our  children are being sexually interfered with.

Download Press Release NACCHO Calls on the federal government to work with us to keep our children safe – FINAL

 “According to media reports last this week, a four-year-old boy from the community of Ali Curung in the Northern Territory has been taken to Alice Springs for medical care after he was allegedly sexually assaulted on the weekend and police are investigating.”

See The Guardian article Part 2 Below

” High levels of disadvantage, alongside “vulnerable and very impoverished” communities, was putting children at risk.

What’s really tragic is that we’ve known about them [problems] for well over a decade and more, and there’s been very little sustained, concerted effort to deal with them,

What’s absolutely needed are more of the early intervention and prevention programs, better parenting programs, and a better level of education and awareness about child.”

Chief executive of the Danila Dilba Aboriginal Medical Service, Olga Havnen, is unsurprised by the most recent incident : Interview ABC

 ” The community was devastated, but not surprised by the latest allegations, and there had been a feeling of “absolute hopelessness” as community leaders beared witness to social dysfunction, alcohol abuse and child protection problems.

They are issues which are attribute to overcrowded public housing.

Resourcing across all sectors and services is what’s needed to support vulnerable families,

I think it’s just been a build-up of years and years of neglect and limited resources.”

At least 40 extra houses were needed in the area to reduce overcrowding, and reduce the risk for children.

It just allows for an explosion, if you like, to further dysfunction of Aboriginal families.

[It] just leads to total hopelessness… creating such incidents as what’s happening now where our children are being harmed.”

Barb Shaw, the chief executive of the Anyinginyi Health Aboriginal Corporation, which takes in Ali Curung.

Interview ABC

Photo: Children in the Barkly region have been calling for change. (ABC News: Jane Bardon

NACCHO Aboriginal Health Media Alert March 20

CEO Pat Turner , Olga Havnen CEO Danila Dilba and James Ward appear on #Sunrise to respond to Indigenous child protection issues #wehavethesolutions

#WeHaveTheSolutions :Government must take off the blinkers over these issues, show leadership and take the actions outlined.

1.Immediate Government action to assist families to keep their children safe. We know these are complex issues requiring urgent responses but the abuse still continues.

2.We need a comprehensive approach to child and community safety with a focus on prevention and community education.

3. Establishing a Confidential Child Help Line within Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services by regions which is a no-brainer for any government to fund and implement in this budget cycle.

In getting better rates of disclosure, we can respond to both victims and offenders.  This is particularly important when young people are perpetrators so that they can be held to account for their behaviour and receive appropriate rehabilitation and behavioural change programs.

4.Extra resources should also be made immediately available for wrap around Families and Children Support services to work with traumatised children and their families. This requires a multi-disciplinary professional team to provide full assessment and treatment programs in our local communities. A health-led therapeutic model will deliver much better outcomes for our people.

Often as the academic evidence now suggests, perpetrators have themselves often been abused and they too require treatment not punitive punishment regimes or they will not be rehabilitated and will re-offend.

5.National plan to redress the Social Determinants of Health in Aboriginal communities throughout Australia.[1]

6.Liquor licenses :The NT Government needs to take a good hard look at the total number of liquor licenses granted and curtail them to stop the flow of alcohol. People must come before profits. The grog is killing our people and our children are exposed to the results of that every day.

Those dry communities are to be  commended for their efforts to control alcohol consumption, but the sheer number of liquor outlets at Roadhouses on the Highway and in the closest towns undermines their efforts to live safe and peacefully in their local community. Government must take off the blinkers over these issues, show leadership and take the actions outlined,” said Mr Singer.

Part 2 Boy, 16, charged with rape of four-year-old boy in remote Northern Territory community

Helen Davidson in The Guardian

Noting NACCHO press release was published in online article

A 16-year-old boy has been charged over the alleged rape of a four-year-old boy in a remote Northern Territory community.It is at least the second such incident in the Barkly region, after a two-year-old girl was sexually assaulted in Tennant Creek last month.

The 16-year-old is scheduled to appear in the Alice Springs youth court on Tuesday, to face one charge of sexual intercourse without consent.

The NT police child abuse taskforce was investigating the alleged attack, which reportedly occurred on Sunday, and said it was not seeking anyone else in relation to the matter.

The territory families minister, Dale Wakefield, said a full team of staff was on the ground as part of the child abuse taskforce.

“They are working alongside police and engaging with the family and the community,” she said.

“We have also spoken to the children’s commissioner and will keep her informed of any developments.

“It is heartbreaking for any child anywhere to be harmed. Every child deserves a childhood where they are safe and given pathways to reach their full potential.”

A 24-year-old charged with sexually assaulting a two-year-old in Tennant Creek is scheduled to appear in court in April.

That alleged incident prompted emergency measures by NT authorities, including the immediate deployment of extra Territory Families department staff and the implementation of strict alcohol restrictions on Tennant Creek.

The community where the latest alleged assault happened is one of about 100 in the NT with restrictions or bans on drinking alcohol.

Steve Edgington, the mayor of Tennant Creek, said there had been “immediate learnings” after the alleged assault in his town.

Edgington said there was a clear need to decentralise government resources and divert them to identified hotspots of disadvantage.

“What needs to be done is a full audit of where these particular incidents are happening,” he said.

“I’m sure they’re happening elsewhere. We need to allocate resources to where these incidents are, tackling issues from the ground up. It’s just critical – children need to be safe in our communities.”

Edgington said most resources in the Barkly region were based in Tennant Creek and there were a number of small remote communities nearby where governments could look at what resources were allocated for child protection and welfare, housing, and other areas.

On Monday the NT chief minister, Michael Gunner, said extra Territory Families staff had been deployed to the community and the incident would also be referred to the children’s commissioner.

“This is an extremely disturbing incident,” he told the ABC. “Every child, no matter where they live, deserves to be in a safe environment.”

[1] http://www.who.int/violenceprevention/publications/en/index.html and Canadian Red Cross, Ten Steps to Creating Safe Environments, 2nd Edition How organizations and communities can prevent, mitigate and respond to interpersonal violence 2011

Aboriginal #SexualHealth News : Minister @KenWyattMP to launch the third edition NACCHO and @RACGP National guide to a preventive health assessment for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’

 

” In the fifth part of a series focusing on the coming third edition of the ‘National guide to a preventive health assessment for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’, newsGP looks at Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ sexual health and prevention from blood-borne viruses.”

The third edition of the National Guide will be launched next Wednesday 28 March by Minister Wyatt at Parliament House Canberra see content details Part 2 below

RACGP Website here

NACCHO Aboriginal Sexual Health 40 Previous articles

The NACCHO/RACGP National Guide is a resource created for primary healthcare practitioners to help them deliver best practice preventive healthcare to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people anywhere in Australia.

The National Guide is user-friendly with information that is accurate and relevant to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and communities. It is supported by evidence-based recommendations, good practice points, and child, youth and adult lifecycle wall charts with age-specific recommendations.

New topics 3 edition :

• Fetal alcohol spectrum disorder

• Interventions to prevent child maltreatment – optimising child health and wellbeing

• Antenatal care section is now expanded

• Family abuse and violence

• Lung cancer

• Young people lifecycle summary wall chart to complement the existing child and adult charts.

Download

National-Guide-prerelease-info-Flyer-2017

Part 1 : Sexual health education for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples

Edited by Morgan Liotta

The National Guide details several resources that aim to empower Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities through greater levels of sexual health education.

Sexually transmitted infection (STI) and blood-borne virus (BBV) rates within Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander populations can often be difficult to identify and diagnose, due to certain cultural beliefs and a potential lack of access to appropriate healthcare in remote areas. But education and culturally appropriate primary healthcare play an essential role in helping to increase diagnosis these communities

The National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation’s (NACCHO) and the RACGP’s National guide to a preventive health assessment for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people (National Guide) states that the prevalence and incidence of some STIs can also be challenging to estimate accurately due to under-identification of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander status, but that rates are increasing.

The National Guide advocates for interventions by healthcare professionals to help decrease rates of STIs and BBVs in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. Routine screening, education on and accessibility of condoms, hepatitis B and human papillomavirus (HPV) immunisation programs, and needle and syringe exchange programs, can all contribute to early diagnoses and prevention of STIs and BBVs, as well as appropriate management for those diagnosed with infection.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are over-represented in prison populations and have high rates of receptive sharing of syringes, both risk factors for acquiring hepatitis C. As a consequence, the hepatitis C notification rate among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people has increased by more than 20% between 2012–16, while remaining stable in non-Indigenous Australians. With new, effective treatments now available for hepatitis C, eliminating the stigma associated with the infection is a crucial strategy.

Recent research reveals that gonorrhoea notifications are seven times more common among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people than for non-Indigenous Australians. The chlamydia notification rate in major cities was found to be nearly three times as high among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people than non-Indigenous Australians, increasing to five times higher in remote areas.

In addition, rates of syphilis are again increasing in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, after declining up to 2010.

Video added by NACCHO

The National Guide reports that rates of HIV were more than two times higher for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples than for non-Indigenous Australians in 2015, and that infectious syphilis notifications have increased significantly due to a 2015 outbreak in Far North Queensland. Current syphilis infection in northern Australia is considered ‘out of control’ in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander healthcare organisations.

One example of safe-sex education is the Condom tree program in Western Australia, which aims to reduce cost barriers and feelings of shame and embarrassment by providing free condoms in local communities.

The Department of Health recently released a series of videos voiced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to help promote STI prevention in their communities. Initiatives such as these videos are designed to help reduce feelings of shame or stigma Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people may have attached to STIs and/or BBVs.

A diverse range of support for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and healthcare workers, including a comprehensive HIV resource, is available for communities throughout Australia.

The National Guide details more resources, with the aim of empowering Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities through greater levels of sexual health education and the provision of high-quality culturally appropriate primary care.

The National Guide covers further information on sexual health in the following chapters:

  • Sexual health and blood-borne viruses
  • Antenatal care
  • The health of young people
  • Alcohol
  • Family abuse and violence

The National Guide was conceived by the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) in 2001, and is now in its third edition being developed in partnership by NACCHO and The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP).

Part 2 What is the National Guide? Edition 3

Who is it for?

All health professionals delivering primary healthcare for the benefit of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Why use it?

• To help prevent disease, detect early and unrecognised disease, promote health, and consider broader social interventions, while allowing for local and regional variations.

• For evidence-based recommendations and good practice points.

• For the child, young people and adult lifecycle wall charts with age-specific recommendations.

• For the resource lists.

When will it be published?

The third edition of the National Guide and following associated resources will be available in early 2018:

• National Guide website – improved design and usability

• National Guide recommendations – limited print run for ACCHSs

• National Guide evidence base – downloadable PDF.

What’s happening in 2018 to accompany the launch of the

National Guide?

• The third edition of the National Guide will be distributed to NACCHO Affiliates and health services.

• NACCHO and RACGP will be hosting workshops across Australia to support implementation of the National Guide.

What’s new in the third edition?

New topics:

• Fetal alcohol spectrum disorder

• Interventions to prevent child maltreatment – optimising child health and wellbeing

• Antenatal care section is now expanded

• Family abuse and violence

• Lung cancer

• Young people lifecycle summary wall chart to complement the existing child and adult charts.

How to access the National Guide:

The third edition of the National Guide will be March 28

Free to download on the RACGP website and the NACCHO website:

http://www.racgp.org.au/national-guide/

and http://www.naccho.org.au

For further information, contact

RACGP Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health on 1800 000 251 or aboriginalhealth@racgp.org.au

NACCHO Aboriginal #sexualhealth #ClosetheGap : An STI epidemic in young people does not signal sexual abuse

Head 

” Over the past two weeks, a number of commentators have called for the removal of Aboriginal children with sexually transmissible infections (STIs) from their families. This has resulted from the wrongful conflating of rates of STI notifications with child sexual abuse. It’s important to delineate these two issues.

Young people living in remote Aboriginal communities, especially those aged 15-29 years, have high rates of STIs such as chlamydia, gonorrhoea and syphilis. But stating all STI cases among young people are related to child sexual abuse isn’t helpful in dealing with either a serious public health matter or the well-being and safety of vulnerable children.”

From James Ward Doctor John Boffa , Belinda Hengel

From The Conversation

Download from NACCHO / AMSANT

Child Sexual Abuse and STI data – the facts, prepared by AMSANT, addresses key questions relating to child sexual abuse and STI data. It is important that the facts are known and the issues are better understood in our sector. NACCHO is advocating for additional resources for our members in the hot spots of North Queensland, the Northern Territory, and Kimberley.

Download

http://www.naccho.org.au/wp-content/uploads/Child-Sexual-Abuse-and-STI-data-the-facts.pdf


Read more: Northern Australia syphilis outbreak is about government neglect, not child abuse


More STIs in Indigenous communities

In 2016, the rate of chlamydia notifications among Aboriginal people aged 15 to 29 was 4,602 per 100,000 – compared with 1,479 per 100,000 for their non-Indigenous peers.

For gonorrhoea, this was 1,825 compared with 173.

The rate of young Aboriginal people infected with syphilis was 173 per 100,000, compared with 15 per 100,000 in non-Indigenous peers, driven largely by an outbreak occurring over the last six years across northern and central Australia.

The significantly higher notification rates among Aboriginal young people are skewed by the higher numbers in remote areas, where rate differences are even greater.

The reasons for these rates of STI diagnoses are complicated and complex. They include poorer outcomes in many of the social determinants of sexual health: education and health literacy, access to health services, racism (in the form of stigmatising social institutions), income and employment rates. All of these are known to be determinants of higher STI rates in populations globally.


Read more: Social determinants – how class and wealth affect our health


STIs are also driven by risk behaviours such as inconsistent condom use, early sexual debut, partner changes and alcohol misuse. A recent study of 2,877 young Aboriginal people found the median age of sexual debut to be 15 years – around 50% of the participants had their sexual encounter before, and 50% after.

The same study found most people had sex with similar aged peers. The median number of partners in the last year was one, and inconsistent condom use was common, especially when alcohol and or other drugs were involved. All of this isn’t that different really from non-Aboriginal Australians.

The risk of acquiring an STI in remote Aboriginal communities is also influenced by issues including demographics and mobility. The median age of Aboriginal people in Australia is 22 years (a peak time for sexual activity) compared to 36 years for non-Aboriginal counterparts.

Short-term and temporary mobility, especially between remote communities and across borders, also peaks in young Aboriginal adults, typically aged 17 to 25. This happens to occur also when young people begin to explore and expand their immediate social networks.

What is different between non-Aboriginal and Aboriginal people living in remote areas is the underlying prevalence of STIs in the latter communities.

Among 16- to 19-year-olds in remote communities, prevalence has been estimated at 13% for chlamydia and 12% for gonorrhoea.

This compares to prevalence rates of around 3% for chlamydia and way less than 1% for gonorrhoea and syphilis among heterosexual non-Aboriginal people of the same age, living in urban areas of Australia.

With such high prevalences, it’s not surprising young people having consensual sex with each other in remote Aboriginal communities are diagnosed with STIs more often than non-Aboriginal peers in mainstream Australia.

What about STIs in children and young people less than 16 years?

A small proportion of STIs reported each year occur in people under 16 years of age. Around 97% of these cases in people aged less than 16 years occur in young people aged 13 to 15 which relate to two issues: early sexual debut with similar aged peers or sexual abuse.

In rare cases, STIs have been detected in those under 12 years of age. According to personal communication with the Northern Territory’s Department of Health, there were five cases in total of either chlamydia or gonorrhoea in 2017. No cases of syphilis were reported in children less than 12 years. All of these cases have been reported and investigated, by the relevant authorities.

Sexual abuse is never acceptable. All of us need to do more to ensure every child and young person in these communities can live in a safe environment.

It has been recently reported by the Northern Territory Police Department that around 700 cases of suspected “child sexual offences” have been notified over the last five years in young people aged less than 16 years.

It’s important to note that a large number of these are likely to be the result of mandatory reporting. Mandatory reporting occurs when young people under the age of 16 are known to have a partner with an age gap of more than two years, or where there is any suspicion of sexual abuse, or when a person under the age of 14 is known to be engaging in sexual activity.

Mandatory reporting is required by anyone (parent, teacher, clinician or any other person) who becomes aware of such activity.

Given around half of young people in remote areas have commenced sexual activity before the age of 16, it’s not surprising a significant number of notifications have been reported to authorities. These notifications annually represent around 0.01% of the Aboriginal population in this age group.

What needs to be done

As is the case in many remote communities across Australia, there has been a failure to adequately address STIs even in people over the age of 16. Commonwealth, state and territory governments have a responsibility to address these issues holistically with programs that have resonance for young Aboriginal people.

Education, child protection and health departments all have a role to play. More resources are desperately required from Commonwealth, state and territory governments to address this gap in public health.

Further, thinking outside the square to address STIs holistically is required. Building resilience in young Aboriginal people, tapping into the agency that young people already have to reduce risk from STI acquisition, or curbing alcohol through supply reduction measures should be considered as solutions to addressing STIs in remote areas including in larger centres.

A basic principle of any communicable disease outbreak is to quickly respond to diagnose and treat all cases. The ongoing syphilis outbreak and the sustained rates of other STIs in remote Australia, is a case in hand where an urgent public health response is required.

Among other measures, this will require a large, well-resourced response to screen and treat a large proportion of young people in the affected areas within a relatively short time period. Aboriginal community controlled health services and other primary care services can achieve this if properly resourced.

There are examples of successful approaches to address STIs through well-resourced Aboriginal community controlled health services and these need to be built upon.

The program from Nganampa Health, an Aboriginal community controlled health service, that has developed and implemented a comprehensive approach to addressing STIs has shown a reduction in rates over a number of decades and needs to be expanded to other regions of remote Australia.

Donna Ah Chee, CEO of the Central Australian Aboriginal Congress, and Olga Havnen, CEO of the Danila Dilba Health Service, contributed to this article

NACCHO Aboriginal #SexualHealth debate #CloseTheGap : Media reports ” Warning on sexually transmitted diseases ignored ” corrected by Minister

 ” Indigenous Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion ignored a plea from a government MP more than a year ago to implement a $25 million policy to combat sexually transmitted diseases gripping Aboriginal communities, instead adopting a $9m program that remains stalled.

The Australian has obtained a letter penned by Liberal senator Dean Smith warning that the rise of STIs in indigenous communities was “disturbing” and urged Senator Scullion to take immediate action, describing the situation as “critical”.

See Minister Scullion’s  Correction part 2 below

 ” The Minister for Indigenous Health, Ken Wyatt, has confirmed that the surge response is not “stalled” as The Australian has claimed and is being rolled out in partnership with the States and Territories as well as Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations.”

Front Page of the Australian this morning

“I’m sure you would agree that the increase in rates are disturbing and it’s critical that we tackle this challenge head on to ensure the problems do not escalate to a crisis point,” Senator Smith told Senator Scullion in December 2016.

When contacted yesterday about the letter, Senator Scullion shifted blame for the government’s inaction to Indigenous Health Minister Ken Wyatt.

Senator Scullion’s spokesman told The Australian he passed Senator Smith’s letter on to the “health portfolio”.

The letter, addressed to Senator Scullion and copied to Mr Wyatt and former health minister Sussan Ley, outlined a ­detailed proposal drafted by ­experts James Ward and Frank Bowden, in consultation with the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation, to tackle a syphilis epidemic in ­indigenous communities.

Professor Ward yesterday confirmed he had meetings with Senator Scullion, Mr Wyatt and Health Minister Greg Hunt about his policy proposal. The Ward-Bowden policy was drafted following meetings with Ms Ley.

Six children have died from gestational syphilis since the epidemic emerged in north Queensland in 2011 and later spread to the Northern Territory, Western Australia and South Australia.

The government sat on the $25m policy until last November when it agreed to adopt one third of it as part of an $8.8m plan to tackle the syphilis outbreak in central and northern Australia.

The two other elements of the proposed three-year program — to reduce HIV risks and broader STI risks in Aboriginal communities — were rejected.

Since announcing the watered-down policy, the government has failed to rollout the program ­despite bureaucrats holding meetings about its implementation since August, before its funding was signed off by Mr Wyatt.

Mr Wyatt said yesterday the rollout would begin in Cairns and Darwin in May. He said the syphilis outbreak was an “absolute ­priority” and had been targeted on a national basis since 2015 but more funding was needed because the states had not contained it.

“This is why the Chief Medical Officer is leading a nationally co-ordinated enhanced response to the outbreak in conjunction with states and territories who have the primary role for delivering sexual health services and dealing with infectious disease outbreaks,” Mr Wyatt said.

Professor Ward said adopting only a third of the policy would ­reduce its efficacy and cost the community more money to address the problem in the long term.

“We put it to them in December 2016 and they still haven’t rolled out any of it. I don’t mean to make any judgment about whether they are dragging their heels or not,” Professor Ward said.

Olga Havnen, chief executive of the Darwin-based Danila Dilba health service, said she was consulted on Professor Ward’s policy and expressed anger it had not been adopted in full.

“It is obscene, it is ridiculous. If you are going to tackle STIs then it would have made sense to do a comprehensive response,” she said. “This is a preventable disease and, I can tell you now, if this was happening in the major suburbs of Sydney or Melbourne there would have been ­urgent and immediate action.”

Retired Aboriginal magistrate Sue Gordon, who chaired the Howard government’s Northern Territory intervention taskforce, said it was about time state and federal governments took the issue seriously.

Labor indigenous senator Pat Dodson said: “The government has not taken the outbreak seriously enough and have not taken appropriate action to tackle the outbreak, otherwise we would not be in this situation.”

Part 2 **CORRECTION**

Minister for Indigenous Affairs
Senator the Hon. Nigel Scullion

Correction to incorrect reporting in The Australian newspaper

Thursday 15 March 2018
Today’s Australian article by Greg Brown, Sex disease warning ignored,  incorrectly states I ignored a letter by Senator Dean Smith in December 2016 regarding a plan to tackle increasing rates of Sexually Transmissible Infections (STIs) in the Indigenous population.

This is grossly misleading and entirely incorrect. I did not ignore Senator Smith’s letter or the request contained in it but referred it to the Indigenous Health portfolio as the relevant and appropriate portfolio with responsibility for Indigenous Health issues. I responded to Senator Smith on this basis.

Notwithstanding that States and Territories have primary responsibility for delivering sexual health services and dealing with infectious disease outbreaks, the Minister for Indigenous Health announced a nationally coordinated surge response in November last year to address the rising rates of STIs in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population.

The Minister for Indigenous Health, Ken Wyatt, has confirmed that the surge response is not “stalled” as The Australian has claimed and is being rolled out in partnership with the States and Territories as well as Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations.

Questions about the status of the surge response or the proposal referred to in this article should be referred to the Department of Health, as is appropriate.

To suggest however that I ignored any warnings regarding the protection of human life is absolutely repugnant and appalling and I reject any such assertion unequivocally.

This is yet another example of ill-informed and incorrect reporting of Indigenous issues by The Australian newspaper.

NACCHO Aboriginal #SexualHealth #ChildProtection debate #CloseTheGap : Media reports linking STI rates to the abuse of children without evidence have come under fire from #Indigenous community leaders and organisations @congressmob @Malarndirri19 @OnTopicAus

 

” Indigenous organisations have called out comments by politicians and media who have linked STI rates among Indigenous children to abuse without substantial evidence.

The federal Children’s Minister David Gillespie was quoted in News Corporation paper the Courier Mail saying he was shocked by the rates of sexually transmitted diseases amongst Indigenous children and appeared to link the rates to abuse.”

Media reports linking STI rates to the abuse of children without evidence have come under fire from Indigenous community leaders and organisations. By Robert Burton-Bradley, Elliana Lawford see part 1 Below

” The debates in response to news coming out of Tennant Creek and about high STI rates in underage children have splintered. A narrow debate has centred primarily on whether or not to ‘remove children who have suffered’,” the statement said.

“Child abuse in any form, such as we have seen in Tennant Creek, requires that perpetrators must be brought to account in accordance with the law. Plus, it is important to help bring about appropriate responses, but those responses need to come in close consultation with Aboriginal people and organisations. Depicting our leaders as silent or ‘uninterested’ about what is happening in Aboriginal communities is not only counterproductive, but malicious.”

It is highly offensive and ignorant to link any form of child abuse with being acceptable in Aboriginal culture.” – National Congress

Download the Congress Press Release HERE

Shared Responsibility

We have a shared responsibility to ensure the rights of every Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander child to be safe and thrive in their families, communities and cultures. To achieve this, Closing the Gap targets should be expanded to:

  • ensure our children’s safety by including an additional target to eliminate the over-representation of our children in out-of-home care by 2040, sub-targets that address the underlying causes of child protection intervention; and
  • foster our children’s wellbeing and development by strengthening the current target on education to eliminate the under-representation of our 0 to 5-year-old children in early childhood education and care services by 2040

National Congress 1 – Tennant Creek Abuse & High STI Rates – Media Release Final 13th March 2018

“Debates facilitated by the wrong people does little more than stir up emotions and reinforce negative stereotypes rather than focus on solutions.

Sexual abuse, child protection and Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) among children are challenging topics to discuss. They are emotive issues for Indigenous and non-Indigenous people alike.

The current debate we are hearing however, is unhealthy and unhelpful.”

 Summer May Finlay see Part 2 below  

ICYMI Yesterdays post and responses

NACCHO Aboriginal #SexualHealth : No point in a one-size-fits-all fix for #STIs in #remote communities @AMSANTaus @CAACongress @Apunipima @TheAHCWA @atsihaw

Part 1 Debate

FROM NITV

Mr Gillespie acknowledged there may be concerns about creating another Stolen Generation, but says he’s more worried about creating an “abandoned and damaged generation”.

“I don’t want them recycled back into harm. I’ve had my eyes opened in the last couple of weeks … looking at STD rates (among Aboriginal children) is just mind-blowing,” he was quoted as saying.

“If a child is being raped we can’t just say it’s OK on cultural grounds.”

Federal Labor Senator for the Northern Territory and Yanyuwa woman Malarndirri Mccarthy told NITV News said politicians needed to be careful in the language they used.

“I think in terms of where this debate is going, I would remind political leaders that the language they use is important, absolutely critical here in making sure that other families, particularly here in the Northern Territory don’t feel vilified by particular comments which are just not helpful,” she said.

“The care and protection of Aboriginal children is everyone’s business — to isolate it to race is absolutely wrong and sets a very dangerous precedent for where our country is going if these debates are purely focused on the colour of your skin.”

The Courier Mail article this morning claimed Mr Gillespie was in favour of ‘white families’ being allowed to adopt Aboriginal child abuse victims, something they can already do in certain circumstances.

However, Mr Gillespie later told SBS News he was taken out of context and that he wanted more adoptions for Indigenous and non-Indigenous children.

“I’ve never looked at life through the prism of race or culture,” he said.

Tennant creek has become the epicenter over a renewed attempt to link child abuse and Indigenous communities and calls for more child removals.

This morning in a statement, the National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples said the claims by the minister and certain sections of the media, saying that STI rates were a result of abuse were wrong and had echoes of the NT Intervention.

Ms McCarthy said there were many reasons for STI infections and for reporters to assume they were because of abuse was naive and dangerous.

“That kind of reporting is very irresponsible if you are not speaking to the frontline health workers, to the Aboriginal community organisations, health organisations, which will be to explain in many circumstances the reason behind many particular rates of STIs,” she said.

National Congress said Indigenous communities and organisations were well aware of the issues in remote communities and had been working to resolve them, but pointed out that since the intervention that job had been made much harder.

“These peak organisations are aware of what is happening on the ground within Aboriginal communities in urban, regional and remote communities. Leaders from these organisations can never be said to be silent on child abuse, poor health and family breakdown. They are tireless advocates.”

“Aboriginal control of our own communities and the services in those communities have been greatly diminished. Appalling housing, health, education and employment statistics tell us that many Aboriginal people are experiencing great stress and hardship. They are struggling to take control of their lives.”

Additional reporting AAP

Part 2 Debate

 “Debates facilitated by the wrong people does little more than stir up emotions and reinforce negative stereotypes rather than focus on solutions.

Sexual abuse, child protection and Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) among children are challenging topics to discuss. They are emotive issues for Indigenous and non-Indigenous people alike.

The current debate we are hearing however, is unhealthy and unhelpful.”

 Summer May Finlay is a Yorta Yorta woman, academic, writer and a public health consultant. Summer has worked in a number of different areas relating to Aboriginal health and social justice including a term as a NACCHO Policy Officer                                         Follow Summer @OnTopicAus

FROM NITV

This morning, I woke to the continuation of a national debate about the need to place Indigenous  children with white families because of sexual abuse. Twitter soon became aghast with the all-white panel Sunrise convened to discuss the Federal Assistant Minister for Children and Families David Gillespie’s comments about placing Indigenous children with non-Indigenous families.

Sexual abuse, child protection and Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) among children are challenging topics to discuss. They are emotive issues for Indigenous and non-Indigenous people alike. The current debate we are hearing however, is unhealthy and unhelpful.

Gillespie has used the rates of STIs among young Indigenous people to justify his claims that the guidelines that that urge child protection agencies to place Indigenous children with Indigenous families, be relaxed.

To discuss the matter – ‘white families should be allowed to adopt Aboriginal children’ – Channel 7’s popular breakfast program brought together an entire non-Indigenous panel, none of whom had any experience or expertise in child protection matters or in Indigenous affairs.

What the panellists, Prue MacSween and Ben Davis (4GB) failed to mention was some of the most relevant information on the issue – there is a tenuous link between STIs and child abuse.

This was pointed out by two experts in the field, Professor James Ward from the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute and Peter Markey head of disease surveillance at the NT’s Centre for Disease Control, who spoke to the Sydney Morning Herald on this very subject just last week.

As a nation, is the solution to remove these young people from their families or should we be looking at why they are having sex at a young age, and why – as is evident – that they are not protecting themselves?

Most young Indigenous people with STIs are over the age of 14. And most Indigenous people 14 years +  contract STIs from having sex with their peers. As a nation, is the solution to remove these young people from their families or should we be looking at why they are having sex at a young age, and why – as is evident – that they are not protecting themselves?

Not only is the justification of removing Indigenous children with STIs questionable, but Sunrise’s panel made sensationalist and frankly incorrect claims that Indigenous children are currently not placed with white families.

Not only is the justification of removing Indigenous children with STIs questionable, but Sunrise’s panel made sensationalist and frankly incorrect claims that Indigenous children are currently not placed with white families.

A quick Google search would have demonstrated the error of this belief.

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) figures show that 68 per cent of Indigenous children are placed in the care of Indigenous people, which logic tells you then that the remaining 32 per cent must be with non-Indigenous families.

With British and Irish being the most common ancestries in the Australian population, this further suggests that Aboriginal children are currently in care with some “white families”.

In the case of adoption of Aboriginal children in the Northern Territory (the region of these STI figures), government legislation makes clear that while adoption of Aboriginal children by other Aboriginal persons is given preference – as is placing the child with extended family or family in accordance with Aboriginal law – it does not rule out adoption by non-Indigenous families.

These legal principles have created on behalf of the devastating affects of the past that separated children from their families, communities and culture – not as Mr Davis puts it, “political correct nonsense”.

Sunrise would do itself a favour by at least hosting panellists who actually know what they are talking about, unless of course they don’t want facts to get in the way of a good story.

Like for instance, someone from the Secretariat of National Aboriginal and Islander Child Care (SNAICC). SNAICC understands these issues more so than any person or organisation, or talkback radio presenter.

Not only are the claims children are only being placed with Indigenous families untrue, The Courier Mail’s reporting that Gillespie says Indigenous children should be placed with “white families”.

Does that mean only white Australian families are good enough, or can be trusted, to take care of Indigenous children? Adding another level to an already shaky structure, this Anglocentric view is a distraction from the real issues.

Such a publicised debate facilitated by the wrong people does little more than stir up emotions and reinforce negative stereotypes rather than focus on solutions.

So what are the real issues here? There are some Indigenous communities in the Northern Territory and other jurisdictions where STIs have reached endemic proportions. This is troubling, and action needs to be taken. However, this is not the case across all Indigenous communities and such a publicised debate facilitated by the wrong people does little more than stir up emotions and reinforce negative stereotypes rather than focus on solutions.

According to the AIHW, 50 per cent of Indigenous children who are removed from their families come from the lowest socio-economic brackets, with the main reason for removal, neglect. Demonstrating what has been widely researched and reported on, that neglect and poverty are linked.

However, even addressing only the symptoms (neglect and abuse), removing Aboriginal children from their families and communities wouldn’t bring the significant change required to assist our young people to lead healthy, happy lives.

To reduce STIs we need to focus on access to health services, diagnosis and treatment of STIs, health literacy, needs-based funding and sexual health education.

To reduce Indigenous children in out of home care we need investment in early intervention programs with at risk families and address poverty. A wealthy country like Australia should be focusing on eradicating poverty, not whether enough Indigenous children are being placed with white families.

Media sensationalism does little for Indigenous people and is more about the white saviour mentality. We need politicians to look beyond the surface to the root causes. We need cool heads and community driven solutions.