NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: COVID-19 vaccine access for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children ‘key’ to controlling spread

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

Photograph in feature tile from The North West Hospital and Health Service urging parents to vaccinate kids.

COVID-19 vaccine access for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children ‘key’ to controlling spread

Vaccinating five- to 11-year-olds is key to slowing the spread of COVID-19 into First Nations communities because of their younger population profile, a Australia’s peak Indigenous health body says.

The latest federal government data shows that 62.4 per cent of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people over the age of 16 had been fully vaccinated by the end of November. That’s well behind the general population, which is sitting at 88.9 per cent.

While those figures are concerning, the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) said there needed to be a focus on the vaccination rates of younger First Nations people.

Epidemiological adviser to NACCHO Jason Agostino welcomed news that five- to 11-year-olds would be eligible for the Pfizer vaccine from January.

“From the Doherty modelling they’ve shown that, if we’re going to lower the number of infections among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, getting vaccination into this age group and as high as possible is really key to controlling spread,” he said.
To view the full article in The Age click here.
For further information on vaccinating children from early next year visit the Australian Government Department of Health website.

Community of Binjari is grieving after the NT’s harshest COVID-19 lockdown

The remote community of Binjari on the outskirts of Katherine entered lockdown on the evening of November 20.

The lockdown was the strictest in the Northern Territory and lasted until December 2 in Binjari, before transitioning to a standard lockdown with restrictions easing again this week

In December an Aboriginal woman became the first person to die of COVID in the NT.

For months, Billy Maroney had heard warnings of COVID-19 one day reaching a remote Indigenous community in the NT. But when it happened to his home of Binjari near Katherine, he was in shock.

“It’s one of the worst things I’ve ever actually been through,” said Mr Maroney, one of about 300 residents.

“I think everybody else was in for a bit of a shock [that] it could happen like this to a remote community.”

Read the full article in the ABC here.

Gilgandra Local AMS (GLAMS) Opening FEB 2022

Coonamble Aboriginal Health Service (CAHS) secured funding under the Indigenous Australians Health Programme Primary Health Care,  Service Expansion Funding 2021 – 2023 to establish an Aboriginal Medical Service in Gilgandra (Gilgandra is located in Western NSW  – 60 Mins west of Dubbo).

CAHS are looking at the week of February 21st to Friday 25th 2022, to officially open. This will be a very memorable day for the Aboriginal community of Gilgandra, so when you receive your invite, please consider attending.

Safe and Supported: 10-year National Framework for Protecting our Children 2021-2031

Community Services Ministers have today launched Safe and Supported: National Framework for Protecting Australia’s Children 2021 – 2031, Australia’s next 10-year framework to respond to the needs of children and families experiencing vulnerability.

As shown in The Family Matters Report 2021, launched yesterday, the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in out-of-home care continues to escalate each year. “This National Framework comes at a critical time. Our children are being removed at an alarming rate, with little hope for reunification and keeping connected to their family, their community, their culture, and their story.

“What we need is transformational reform to turn the tide on child removals. And we are optimistic that this framework has the mechanisms to take action in the right areas by investing in Aboriginal-led solutions,” SNAICC CEO and Family Matters Co-Chair, Catherine Liddle said.

To view the full SNAICC media release click here.

4 young Aboriginal children, 1 girl, 3 boys sitting outside on outdoor rug all looking in one direction making hand signals presumably to a song

Image source: Moriarty Foundation website.

AHCSA Tackling Indigenous Smoking Program

The Tackling Indigenous Smoking (TIS) regional tobacco control grants aim to improve the wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people through population health promotion activities to reduce the prevalence of tobacco use.

Cigarette smoking has long been recognised as the largest modifiable risk factor affecting the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. However, the latest research shows that the health effects of smoking amongst Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people were previously underestimated, and that smoking causes half (50%) of deaths in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults aged 45 years or older, and over one-third (37%) of all deaths1.

To view the article in full click here.

AHCSA – project to identify ATSI NDIS barriers

The Aboriginal Health Council of South Australia (AHCSA) is working in collaboration with NACCHO to provide support for all member services to build capability and capacity to deliver the NDIS for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as part of phase two of the Capacity Building Project funded by the Jobs and Market Fund.

The Aboriginal Health Council of South Australia (AHCSA) is working in collaboration with NACCHO to provide support for all member services to build capability and capacity to deliver the NDIS for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as part of phase two of the Capacity Building Project funded by the Jobs and Market Fund.

To read the full article on the AHCSA website click here.

rear view of seat and wheel of a wheelchai

Image source: Pro Bono News website.

Winner of the Bill Armstrong AO Human Rights Award for 2021 is Doyen Radcliffe!

On Human Rights Day, champion of Human Rights, Doyen Radcliffe acknowledged for decades of service to First Nations communities. Doyen, a Yamatji Naaguja Wajarri man from the Midwest Region of Western Australia, has been recognised for his work supporting First Nations’ communities to improve quality of life, health, social and economic wellbeing, and inclusion within Australian society.

Mr Radcliffe has been instrumental in pushing through adversity and challenges to create positive outcomes in human rights for his mob and communities across the Northern Territory (NT) and Western Australia (WA). He is multiplying his efforts and expertise by coaching and training others and generously sharing his knowledge and experience widely to better all First Nations’ communities.

Doyen’s reach and influence expands across the nation as he sits as Director on several community-focused Boards and holds the prestigious position of Director of the Australian Evaluation Society following a period as Vice-President.

Read the full media release here.

Terry Grose, Doyen Radcliffe and Mervyn Eades at the Bill Armstrong AO Human Rights Award 2021 presentation.

 

New process for job advertising

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

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

Sydney Peace Prize

Next year, the Sydney Peace Prize is being awarded to the Uluru Statement From the Heart, for bringing together Australia’s First Nations peoples around a clear and comprehensive agenda; for healing and peace within our Nation and delivering self-determination for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples, that enables Australia to move into the future united and confident.

As part of Sydney Peace Prize week, you are invited to a workshop to publicly commit (or recommit) your organisation to support the Uluru Statement from the Heart.

The workshop will give you resources and ideas on how to engage your staff, board, supporters, members and partners to call for a referendum on a constitutionally enshrined First Nations Voice to Parliament. It will include a panel discussion with the prize winners and a chance to discuss and share with other organisations. We will end the workshop with a public commitment.

You can find out more about the Sydney Peace Prize and this year’s recipients here.

 

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Protecting remote NT communities

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

Protecting remote NT communities

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

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

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

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

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

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

To view Minister Hunts media release in full click here.

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

Better safe than sorry – for all of us!

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

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

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

To view the media release in full click here.

Investment in men’s healing pays off

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

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

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

To view the media release in full click here.

Switching is not quitting

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

Improved cervical cancer screening access

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

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

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

Image source: Menshalena, Getty Images.

Indigenous Governance Award finalists

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

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

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

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

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

For more information about the awards and finalists click here.

DATE CHANGE – ATSIHAW Virtual Trivia

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

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

To register click here.

New process for job advertising

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

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

Pulmonary Hypertension Awareness Month

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

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

PAH resource pack and COPD resource pack.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: $10m to tackle health impacts of climate change

Bushfires in Australia. Image source: Saeed Khan / AFP via Getty, Grist website.

$10 million to tackle health impacts of climate change

Australians will be better protected against the health impacts of climate change, thanks to a new national research network led by The Australian National University (ANU) with partners from across Australia and $10 million in Federal Government funding.

Announced today by Health Minister, the Hon Greg Hunt MP, the Healthy Environments And Lives (HEAL) network brings together Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander knowledge, sustainable development, environmental epidemiology, and data science and communication to address climate change and its impacts on health.

HEAL will be funded for five years through the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Special Initiative in Human Health and Environmental Change and operate across all Australian states and territories.

“We will join forces to address climate change and other environmental challenges, such as bushfires, air pollution, infectious diseases and heatwaves that have a massive burden on our health and ecosystems,” HEAL’s Director, Professor Sotiris Vardoulakis from ANU said.

“This is a historic investment in our future. This coordinated group of experts and practitioners will substantially expand the boundaries of Australia’s environmental, climate change and health research community.”

You can view the media release from ANU here.
You can also view the National Health and Medical Research Council‘s media release here and the Department of Health‘s media release here.

HEAL’s Director, Professor Sotiris Vardoulakis from ANU.

HEAL’s Director, Professor Sotiris Vardoulakis from ANU.

Vaccination milestone celebrated in West Sydney

South Western Sydney Local Health District chief executive Amanda Larkin has praised the south-west Sydney Indigenous community for coming forward for vaccination to help “protect themselves and their loved ones.” Ms Larkin said 85 per cent of local Aboriginal and Torres Strait lslander people had now received their first dose of the vaccine and 80 per cent of residents were fully vaccinated.

“Vaccination is the best protection we can offer against COVID-19 and I would encourage everyone to get vaccinated if they haven’t already. Please come and get your second dose or booster injection so you receive the best possible protection.”

The District, which supports the vaccination efforts of Tharawal Aboriginal Medical Service, Gandangara Health Service and KARI, has a specialised team delivering Pfizer vaccination to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people across the region. The team is made up of nurses, Aboriginal Health workers and support staff and operates several pop-up clinics at convenient locations for Aboriginal communities.

District Director of Aboriginal Health Nate Jones said outreach clinics provided a culturally safe space where Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people can access the vaccine from trusted clinicians.

You can read the story in the Liverpool City Champion here.

South Western Sydney Local Health District chief executive Amanda Larkin, Tharawal Aboriginal Medical Service Medical Services manager Tallulah Lett and acting chief executive Lachlan Wright, the Districts COVID-19 Incident Controller Sonia Marshall and Aboriginal Health deputy director Karen Beetson celebrate the vaccination milestone.

South Western Sydney Local Health District chief executive Amanda Larkin, Tharawal Aboriginal Medical Service Medical Services manager Tallulah Lett and acting chief executive Lachlan Wright, the Districts COVID-19 Incident Controller Sonia Marshall and Aboriginal Health deputy director Karen Beetson celebrate the vaccination milestone. Image source: Liverpool City Champion.

Lockdown and new mask rules in NT

Northern Territory health officials are trying to get on top of a possible COVID-19 outbreak as the communities of Greater Katherine and Robinson River entered a 72-hour lockdown on Monday after two people tested positive. Chief Minister Michael Gunner said the remote community lockdown was the most serious COVID-19 update he had to give since the beginning of the pandemic.

People living in affected areas will only be able to leave their homes for the five permitted reasons and have been urged to send one person to the supermarket at a time. Alongside the lockdown, health officials have already been deployed to affected areas for a testing and vaccine blitz. They are also working around the clock to prepare a list of exposure sites.

“We have always been concerned for our remote communities, because of their mobility and vulnerability, especially since Delta has emerged,” he said.

You can read the article in SBS News here.

In related news, anyone who travels to a Northern Territory remote community that has a first-dose vaccination rate of less than 70 per cent for people aged 16 years and over will have to wear a mask at all times in public for seven days after they arrive. From Friday, the same people will also have to get a rapid antigen test 72 hours before travelling.

The restrictions are in addition to existing requirements imposed by land councils on people who are travelling to remote communities.

You can read more about the new mask rules in the ABC News here.

The first-dose COVID-19 vaccination rate in the NT remote community of Yarralin is less than 70 per cent, meaning the new mask rules will apply there. Image source: Hamish Harty, ABC News.

The first-dose COVID-19 vaccination rate in the NT remote community of Yarralin is less than 70 per cent, meaning the new mask rules will apply there. Image source: Hamish Harty, ABC News.

Ernie Dingo leads ‘Vax the Outback’ campaign

A new campaign to drive Indigenous vaccination rates in remote Western Australia takes off this week with Australian TV personality Ernie Dingo at the wheel. Vax the Outback begins its journey from Perth to the Pilbara on Wednesday, a project delivered by Aboriginal Story Agency BushTV and funded by the National Indigenous Australians Agency.

“Since the start of the vaccination program, we’ve been working with WA’s Department of Health, the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations and other Indigenous organisations, including Indigenous media, to ensure Indigenous people in the state get vaccinated,” Minister for Indigenous Australians Ken Wyatt said.

“I know that we can beat hesitation around vaccines and needles with this approach – that’s why I’m packing up and heading up North to have a yarn with local influencers and elders in each community,” said Dingo.

“It’s about knowledge, about making our communities feel ready for the vaccine when it comes around.”

You can read the media release by The Hon Ken Wyatt AM, MP here.
You can view the campaign video below.

Gestational diabetes increases risk of developing type 2

New research, led by Darwin’s Menzies School of Health Research, shows that Aboriginal women who had gestational diabetes during pregnancy, will have a one-in-four chance of developing type 2 diabetes within two and a half years after giving birth.

It means they are at a much higher risk than non-Indigenous women of developing lifelong health complications that require special diets and medication.

Worse still, their risk of developing type 2 diabetes is increased further if they are older than 40, had high sugar levels or used insulin in pregnancy, and had a higher body mass index, the researchers found.

The study’s co-author, Professor Louise Maple-Brown, said the findings — published in the Diabetes Research and Clinical Practice journal — were a concerning sign of “intergenerational diabetes”.

Researchers say more funding is needed for diabetes prevention programs.

You can read the article in the ABC News here.

Like many Aboriginal mothers in the Northern Territory, Desiree Weetra was diagnosed with gestational diabetes. Image source: ABC News.

Like many Aboriginal mothers in the Northern Territory, Desiree Weetra was diagnosed with gestational diabetes. Image source: ABC News.

Nicotine Vaping Legislative Changes

Since 1 October 2021, all purchases of nicotine vaping products require a prescription from an Australian registered medical practitioner.

The TGA has not approved any nicotine vaping products for supply in Australia, however, there are currently three main pathways that can be used to access these products:

  1. Authorised Prescriber
  2. Special Access Scheme
  3. Personal Importation Scheme

It’s important that evidence-based nicotine and smoking cessation counselling is provided by medical practitioners based on their patients’ needs.

For more info see the RACGP smoking cessation guidelines and visit the TGA website.

You can download a factsheet and social media tiles for clinicians here.
You can download a factsheet and social media tiles for consumers here.

E-cigarettes and Vaping graphics - Clinicians_Twitter

CTG Report 2022: Request for Case Studies

The Lowitja Institute are seeking input from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander individuals, communities and organisations for potential features to be included in the Close the Gap 2022 Report.

The report will take a strengths-based approach to explore themes of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander led transformation; Gender Justice: Equality and Equity; and Allyship.

The Lowitja Institute are seeking case studies that demonstrate strengths-based approaches that are either led or in partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and/or organisations in the design or delivery of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander led transformation, Gender Justice: Equality and Equity and Allyship in line with current affairs.

Expressions of interest are due by Friday 19th November.

For more information and how to apply, please click here.

 

New process for job advertising

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

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

Course in vaccinology and immunisation science

Module 1: A primer in vaccines and immunisation

7pm – 10pm AEDT, 17 November 2021

Presented via Zoom by the The Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity and the National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance (NCIRS).

The first ‘Primer’ module in 2021 is FREE.

This practical online course is for people relatively new to the area and for those wanting to broaden and update their understanding of vaccines, vaccine development and the principles underpinning the introduction and running of immunisation programs. This includes, but is not limited to, practitioners, academics and researchers, such as primary healthcare and specialist doctors, community and immunisation nurses, those working in public health, government (all levels) and health policy, pharmaceutical industry, regulators, aged care workers, journalists and ethics committee members.

For more information and to register visit the NCIRS website here.
You can also view the full course schedule here.

A primer in vaccines and immunisation

Improving Outcomes – Interventions, Networks and Pharmacotherapies

2021 NCCRED Symposium
11am – 2pm, 19 November 2021

The 2021 National Centre for Clinical Research on Emerging Drugs (NCCRED) Symposium will bring into focus three key areas of concern and innovation related to emerging drugs – Interventions, Networks & Pharmacotherapies. The symposium hosts leading national clinical researchers in the AoD field including presentations from recipients of NCCRED’s Round 3 Seed Funding Grants and the current work of the Centre. Areas of exploration in the 2021 symposium include:

  • Interventions to assist early treatment and improved outcomes for methamphetamine dependence
  • Pharmacotherapy trials for the treatment of methamphetamine dependence
  • Developments in drug alerts and national communication networks

NCCRED’s 2021 symposium, in line with the Centre’s aims, is a vital opportunity for the AoD sector to advance its collective response to emerging drugs:

  • Collaborate to build and expand research networks and capacity
  • Generate the best evidence-based knowledge
  • Translate the latest research into best clinical practice

For more information and to register visit the NCCRED website here.

NCCRED Symposium 2021 - banner

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: COVID-19 fears for APY Lands

feature tile text 'fears APY Lands will be left to fend for themselves if covid-19 outbreak in Adelaide' & image of 3 Aboriginal youth on mountain looking out on APY Lands

Photo in feature tile: APY Land Council. Image source: SBS NITV.

COVID-19 fears for APY Lands

The general manager of SA’s Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) Lands is concerned remote communities will be “left to fend for themselves” in the event of an outbreak in Adelaide. The SA government intends to lift border restrictions on Tuesday 23 November, when 80% of residents are expected to be fully vaccinated.

The APY Lands have been subject to strict lockdowns every time there has been an outbreak in SA to avoid COVID-19 spreading to its vulnerable, isolated Indigenous population. “Our lockdowns are fairly intense, in that we close fuel [stations] to stop people moving, and the police also install roadblocks because [we don’t want] people travelling from one community and taking it to the next,” APY general manager Richard King said.

“If we do get major outbreaks all at once in Adelaide and it overwhelms the health services, the services are really going to be focused on urban populations,” Mr King said.

To view the ABC News article in full click here.

aerial view APY Lands

Only 61% of APY residents under 50 have received two doses of the vaccine. Photo: Carl Saville. Image source: ABC News.

Living with COVID-19 requires caution

The Consumers Health Forum has welcomed the Federal Government’s additional support for community-based care for COVID cases but urges Australians to take care as Australia transitions to ‘living with COVID’ arrangements.

“The easing of lockdowns and opening of borders mean that even with an overall decline in pandemic risks, significant challenges for both hospitals and primary care doctors and nurses in the community will continue. Consumers need to play their part in avoiding infection by continuing with sensible anti-COVID precautions,” the CEO of the Consumers Health Forum, Leanne Wells, said.

To view the CHF media release click here.

globe with mask surrounded by covid virus cells in red

Image source: Newshub website.

Aged care for mob best practice study

There is a growing number of older Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and an unmet demand for accessible, culturally safe aged care services. The principles and features of aged care service delivery designed to meet the unique needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples must be understood to inform aged care policy and primary health care planning into the future. Yet to date, this is an area that has not been extensively explored.

A recently published paper Aboriginal community-controlled aged care: principles, practices and actions to integrate with primary health care examines this particular topic.

For more information about the study click here.

The Kapululangu Aboriginal Women’s Law and Culture Centre in Balgo, WA, offers employment and care for elderly members of the community. Image source: Aged Care 101 website.

Future of dispensing discussion paper

The AMA has released The future of dispensing, a discussion paper on Australians having affordable and accessible medicines into the future, and it explores alternative dispensing models for medications. AMA President Dr Omar Khorshid said the discussion paper aims to consider how, where and why medicines are dispensed in Australia and to promote discussion among health professionals, doctors and consumers.

“The AMA earlier this year launched its Vision for Australia’s Healthwhich outlines a blueprint for the future of the Australian healthcare system that is based on the core principles of access, sustainability and patient empowerment that is led by medical practitioners,” he said. “To that end, a good starting point is to consider three simple questions: how, where and why do we dispense medicines in Australia?

“Pharmacists have and will continue to have a critical role in the provision of health care in Australia, and we want to ensure we are making the best use of our highly-trained pharmacist workforce. We need to separate out issues around the business of owning pharmacies, as opposed to the role of pharmacists in general, and to restart the discussion about who can own pharmacies, and where they are located.”

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

3 staff at chemist prescription desk

Wizard Pharmacy Kalgoorlie Central. Image source: AJP.com.au.

More rural renal services for Queensland

Infrastructure upgrades at Ingham and Charters Towers Hospitals will deliver eight renal chairs to bring care closer to home for patients receiving haemodialysis for renal failure and kidney disease.

The new chairs are being funded through a $4 million injection of funds from the Queensland Government’s Rural and Regional Renal Program. Minister for Health and Ambulance Services Yvette D’Ath said ‘‘Patients in Charters Towers and Ingham currently travel up to an hour and a half for a four to five-hour treatment session at Townsville University Hospital. These brand-new, four-chair units will relieve the pressure of disruptive travel on patients living with renal failure and kidney disease and their families.”

Minister D’Ath said establishing these units in rural communities would further the Queensland Government’s commitment to Closing the Gap.

To view the Minister D’Ath’s media release in full click here.

3 Aboriginal women receiving dialysis

Patients in the dialysis unit at Gurriny Yealamucka Health Services Aboriginal Corporation, Yarrabah, Qld. Back-front: Shanelle Graham, Millicent Smith, Myrtle Barkley. Image source: Cairns Local News.

Nor Mor Smok program

Nor Mor Smok is a program run by Torres Health Indigenous Corporation with the aim of reducing smoking rates across the Torres Strait region. The program includes elements such as:

  • the Yumi Kazi program for pregnant mothers and growing families
  • a women’s program for girls and women of all ages
  • a men’s program for boys and men of all ages
  • a youth program for all children aged 11 to 18 years.

Nor Mor Smok is funded under the national Tackling Indigenous Smoking Tackling Indigenous Smoking program.

For more information about the Nor Mor Smok program click here.

Youth suicide attempt aftercare services

Children and young people living in Western Sydney and the Mid-North Coast engaging in serious self-harming behaviour or having ongoing thoughts of suicide can now access practical, non-clinical support in their communities to help their recovery.

Minister for Mental Health Bronnie Taylor said the newly opened Blacktown and Coffs Harbour-based services are part of an innovative trial of child and youth-specific Aftercare services by the NSW and Commonwealth Governments. “Coming out of acute care can be really overwhelming, so it is critical to connect these vulnerable young people with the right support outside of the hospital setting so they can reconnect and reengage with their family, friends and community,” Mrs Taylor said.

To view the media release in full click here.

hand being held in another's hands

Image source: Black Dog Institute.

New process for job advertising

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

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

University entry courses info session

The University of Melbourne’s Department of Rural Health is holding an information session for those who would like to know more about its unique courses that can provide an entry to University for those with experience working in Aboriginal health and/or community development.

The information session will explain what the Specialist Certificate in Empowering Health in Aboriginal Communities will involve, pathways for further study, and support with studying.  During the information session you canmeet the teaching staff and some of the current students and ask questions you might have.

To register for the information session at 4:00 PM (AEDT) Tuesday 16 November 2021 click here.

Image source: University of Melbourne website.

Project ECHO info session

Children’s Health QLD HHS is excited to announce that our Project ECHO hub is supporting the launch and delivery of a new virtual and interactive learning network focused on the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander kids throughout Queensland.

Project ECHO is a model used to deliver interactive, online, collaborative case-based learning for free. Professionals from all streams, sectors and settings, caring for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander kids are most welcome to attend the information session.

You can register here to attend the information session to be held from12:00 PM-1:00 PM Tuesday 23 November.

For more information on Project ECHO, you can visit their website here and If you have any questions or concerns, you can email the ECHO team here.

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

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

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

Expanded vaccine choice for over 60s

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

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

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

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

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

Full community control for Palm Island company

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

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

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

PICC services include:

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

To view the media release click here.

VACCHO Vaccine Vans hit the road

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

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

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

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

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

VACCHO building external view, overlaid with VACCHO logo

Pharmacist guidelines for vaping prescriptions

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

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

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

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

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

To view the full article click here.

chemist counter with vaping fluid packs

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

Now is the time to be vaccinating

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

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

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

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

To view The Guardian article in full click here.

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

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

Culturally appropriate NDIS services trial

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

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

To access the media statement in full click here.

Aboriginal man and woman having a cup of tea at table

Image source: Synapse Australia’s Brain Injury Organisation.

Aboriginal Family Led Decision Making pilot

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

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

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

Health scholarship opportunity closing soon

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

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

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

banner text 'ATSI health scholarship applications open'

Steady pipeline of doctors program

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

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

Charles Darwin University sign

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

New process for job advertising

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

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

World Cerebral Palsy Day

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

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

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

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

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

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

COVID-19 vaccine update for GPs webinar

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

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

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

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

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: BUStopping the Pandemic campaign

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

BUStopping the Pandemic campaign

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

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

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

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

To view AMSANT’s media release click here.

Health on Wheels covid vax clinic van & sign

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

NACCHO PHMO speaks with Officeworks GM

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

You can watch the video below:

Smile Squad dental vans used in vax push

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

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

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

Victoria's fleet of orange Smile Squad dental vans

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

Key issues impacting ear health care

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

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

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

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

Kicking Australia’s smoking addiction

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

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

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

To view the full article in The Conversation click here.

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

Image source: K-72, Canada.

Healing Foundation CEO interview

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

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

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

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

Sport important to mob, but barriers

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

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

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

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

To view the full UNSW Sydney article click here.

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

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

Food security grant round open

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

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

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

Image source: Outback Stores website.

New process for job advertising

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Boosting care sector jobs for mob

Feature tile - Thu 30.9.21 - A Life Changing Life

Boosting care sector jobs for mob

The Morrison Government has launched A Life Changing Life, a new campaign to encourage Indigenous Australians to start a career in the care and support sector. The sector, which includes aged care, disability and veterans’ support is one of the fastest-growing in Australia.

Minister for Indigenous Australians the Hon Ken Wyatt AM MP said it was important to highlight the breadth of opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the sector.

“Caring for mob is a part of our culture – it’s who we are. It makes sense we support Indigenous Australians to consider a future in the sector, so they can deliver the culturally appropriate services our vulnerable people need,” Minister Wyatt said.

“What many people might not know is that this is a sector full of job opportunities, and meaningful careers.

“In many cases, these are jobs you can do without leaving your community and can learn on the job, to start a life-changing career.”

You can read the media release by the Morrison Government here.
You can find out more about the care and support sector, and learn about the meaningful work that makes a difference for mob here.
You can view campaign resources here.

A Life Changing Life

Encouraging others to get the jab

Aboriginal health promotion worker Brittany Wright was asked by Albury Council to contribute to their vaccination messaging on social media.

“They just wanted some young people that have had the vaccination to encourage other people to come and get theirs,” she said.

“I was happy to spread the message, and working at an Aboriginal Health Service, we want to try and get as many Aboriginal people vaccinated as we can.”

AWAHS clinic manager Lauren Blatchford said demand for their program delivering AstraZeneca and Pfizer had increased recently.

“With the COVID cases on both sides of the border, a lot more people are wanting to be vaccinated,” she said.

“We’ve also got some outreach vaccine clinics going around community and that’s really targeting the vulnerable community members who can’t come to the service to be vaccinated, for example,” she said.

“It’s so good to have people like Britt sharing messages – they know who she is and that really encourages other people.

You can read the story in The Border Mail here.

Albury Wodonga Aboriginal Health Service is seeing more Indigenous community members come forward for vaccination, with the support of Brittany Wright and Lauren Blatchford. Image credit: James Wiltshire.

Albury Wodonga Aboriginal Health Service is seeing more Indigenous community members come forward for vaccination, with the support of Brittany Wright and Lauren Blatchford. Image credit: James Wiltshire.

New vaping laws come into effect tomorrow

The Australian Medial Association (AMA) believes new nicotine vaping laws which come into effect this Friday October 1, are timely, with the prevalence of harmful vaping rapidly increasing in the community. The new laws close a loophole in federal legislation which has enabled the unregulated importation and illegal sale of nicotine containing vaping products, or “e-cigarettes”, in each State and Territory.

AMA President Dr Omar Khorshid said under the new rules, nicotine containing vaping products will only be able to be accessed via a prescription from a doctor. He said the changes have a stated aim of protecting the non-smoking public, especially younger people and children, from the clear harms of nicotine poisoning and addiction.

“Vaping is not the risk-free version of smoking that some would have us believe. It is addictive, is associated with proven harms and we know that if nicotine gets into the hands of young children and is ingested, it is highly toxic and can be fatal in very small amounts,” Dr Khorshid said.

The new regulations aim to make nicotine containing vaping products less accessible and aim to prevent the terrible exponential increase in use that is being seen overseas, such as in the US, where around one quarter of all high school students have admitted to current or recent use of mainly high concentration products.

You can read the media release by the AMA here.

hand holding a vap, lots of smoke from mouth

Image source: The Guardian.

Keeping a focus on First Nations’ eye health

The Australian Institute for Health and Welfare (AIHW) has launched its Indigenous eye health measures 2021 report which shows measurable progress towards improving the eye health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

The report includes data from the 2019-20 year, which included the first four months of the COVID-19 pandemic in Australia. Despite the pandemic’s impact, the report highlights that the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people having an eye examination by an optometrist or ophthalmologist continued to grow,

However, the report also highlights some of the continuing challenges Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people face in accessing the eye care they need.

You can read the article in ANZSOG here.

ANZSOG Overturning a blind eye: How coordinated action is on track to eliminate trachoma in Australia Image source: ANZSOG.

ANZSOG Overturning a blind eye: How coordinated action is on track to eliminate trachoma in Australia Image source: ANZSOG.

‘Australians can beat anything’ vax campaign

A powerful new public service campaign that heroes the country’s ingenuity, inventiveness and resilience to overcoming challenges is being released nationally in a bid to boost Australia’s double vaccination rate to 80% or more as quickly as possible. The ‘Australians Can Beat Anything’ campaign – a collaboration between Australia’s advertising, media and consulting industries – hit TV screens, online sites and social media from September 27, rallying Australians to get vaccinated by demonstrating our proven ability to overcome the most difficult of challenges and crises.

Professor Fred Hollows is one of several iconic Australians fronting the campaign.

“Fred was a staunch advocate of modern medicine and improving people’s living standards. We know he would have been encouraging Australians to get vaccinated,” said The Fred Hollows Foundation CEO Ian Wishart.

You can view the advertisement below.

Ideas for looking after your mental health this October

Mental Health Australia has launched its October 2021 calendars for Mental Health Month ahead of World Mental Health Day on 10 October, including daily ideas for all Australians to look after their mental health in the midst of the ongoing pandemic. Mental Health Australia’s downloadable and printable calendars are tailored with some great tips for different audiences, including: the general public, young adults, families, older Australians, and workplaces.

Mental Health Australia CEO, Dr Leanne Beagley says the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is creating an overwhelming situation for many Australians and these daily ideas will help reduce stigma, encourage help seeking and connect communities.

“The calendars provide reminders of something small and tangible we can all do each day to look after our own mental health, as well as improve the wellbeing of others in our families and broader communities,” said Dr Beagley.

This matters to everyone. And we can all benefit from looking after our own mental health and the mental health of our families and communities.

View the media release by Mental Health Australia here.
You can download the calendars here.
To find out more about World Mental Health Day activity this year use the hashtag #LookAfterYourMentalHealthAustralia or visit the website here.

Registration for CTG PBS Co-Payment program extended

Criteria for the Close the Gap (CTG) Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) Co-payment program was expanded in July, allowing registered Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients more streamlined access to subsidised medications.

A grace period to ensure all eligible patients are registered for the program has now been extended to January 2022, with the Department of Health attributing the need for an extension to the ‘significant number’ of eligible patients who are not yet ‘correctly registered’.

This period will prevent CTG PBS Co-payment prescriptions being rejected at the time of dispensing if the Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander person is not formally registered for the program through Services Australia.

PBS prescribers can ensure their Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients are registered for the program via Services Australia’s Health Professional Online Services (HPOS). If the patient is not registered, their status will be indicated as ‘inactive’ in HPOS.

You can read more about the extension in RACGP newsGP here.

Get the treatment you need

The co-payment initiative aims to support better access to medications for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Image source RACGP.

Big Red Kidney Bus flips from vacations to vaccinations

The NSW Big Red Kidney Bus has been repurposed to serve as a mobile vaccination clinic while holidaying is not possible. The Bus is operating as a pop-up clinic in Western Sydney, providing easy access to vaccines for COVID-19.

You can read more in the Norther Sydney Local health District September newsletter here.

Big Red Kidney Bus

Big Red Kidney Bus. Image source: busnews.com.au.

 

Australian Digital Health Agency – identified positions

Partnership Manager
EL1 ($122,716 – $139,959)
Digital Programs and Engagement Division > Communications
Brisbane, Canberra, Sydney

Applications close: 11 October 2021
You can view more information and apply for the role here.

Partnership Lead
APS6 ($99,860 – $112,659)
Digital Programs and Engagement Division > Communications
Brisbane, Canberra, Sydney

Applications close: 11 October 2021
You can view more information and apply for the role here.

New process for job advertising

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

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


dice spelling JOBS resting on keyboard

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Images of Maningrida COVID-19 vaccination campaign.

ACCHO to open new Gympie AMS

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

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

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

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

To view the story in full click here.

NCACCH building being fitted out for new Gympie AMS

Image source: NCACCH website.

First Nations CVD rate is twice as bad

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

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

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

To view the article in full click here.

Aboriginal man's hands gripping chest - heart

Image source: The Medical Journal of Australia.

SA’s ‘silent’ health epidemic

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

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

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

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

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

To read the article in full click here.

person's hands drawing insulin shot

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

Rap message about the vax

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

Smoker rates surge during pandemic

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

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

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

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

To view the article in full click here.

pack of cigarettes, no brand

Image source: SBS News website.

AMA wants easier rural GP hospital access

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

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

To view the AMA’s media release click here.

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

Image source: Healthcare IT.

Stronger patient medicine involvement

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

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

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

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

multiple tablet foil blister packs

Image source: Healthline website.

New process for job advertising

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

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

COVID-19 vaccine update for GPs webinar

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

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

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

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

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: World Sepsis Day 2021

World Sepsis Day – united in the fight

Today is the 10th anniversary of World Sepsis Day, a Global Sepsis Alliance initiative. World Sepsis Day highlights the ongoing impact of sepsis globally – on patients, their families and carers. It is an opportunity for us to unite in the fight against sepsis.

Early recognition and management of sepsis is a priority area for the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care (the Commission). This year, the Commission aims to shine a spotlight on sepsis to raise awareness among clinicians and in the community.

Image source: National Sepsis Awareness campaign

Today the Commission commences its National Sepsis Awareness Campaign. which will run until 26 November 2021. The theme for the campaign is: ‘Could it be sepsis?’ By simply asking whether it could be sepsis, life-saving treatment can be provided to stop severe health complications and death.

You can read a Q&A on sepsis with Dr Carolyn Hullick, emergency physician and Clinical Director at the Commission here and access a campaign toolkit developed to help improve awareness of sepsis, here.

The first national Sepsis Clinical Care Standard is also now open for public consultation. The standard has been developed to ensure that a patient with signs and symptoms of sepsis receives the best possible care, from symptom onset through to discharge from hospital. Have your say on the draft standard here.

Together, we can help reduce the burden of sepsis on patients, clinicians and the Australian healthcare system. So please, just ask “could it be sepsis?”

For further information on World Sepsis Day 2021 including the National Sepsis Awareness Campaign click here.

Awabakal delivers vaccines, food, support

Aboriginal medical service Awabakal has helped deliver hundreds of vaccines and support to COVID-impacted communities in the Hunter. In association with a number of other Aboriginal organisations, Awabakal helped administer COVID-19 vaccines and offer food and support to residents in Windale and Hamilton South over the past week.

The Awabakal team provided 280 vaccinations in Hamilton South on Thursday last week and another 187 vaccinations at Lake Macquarie PCYC in Windale last Saturday.

“We know that sometimes the people who need help the most, whether it be with food or their health, are the least likely to reach out,” Awabakal Ltd CEO Raylene Gordon said. “Taking the clinic to the community is an opportunity for people to connect to services.”

To view the Newcastle Herald article in full click here.

Windale NSW pop-up clinic inside huge hall

Windale pop-up clinic. Image source: Newcastle Herald.

New e-cigarette laws webinar

From Friday 1 October 2021 legislative changes will mean the only way to legally purchase unregistered nicotine vaping products will be with a GP prescription. This has implications for our communities and workforce.

NACCHO has partnered with RACGP and ANU to deliver an interactive webinar on these legislative changes and what they might mean for our communities and ACCHOs.

The webinar will be held on: Wednesday 15 September 2021, 1:00 PM-2:00 PM (AEST)

Professor Emily Banks from the National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health ANU together with Ms Alice Nugent, ACCHO pharmacist and member of the NACCHO Medicines Advisory Team, will present the legislative changes and dive into some of the more emergent issues surrounding safety and toxicity risks, prescription of an unregistered product, harm minimisation including a case study and discussion points to support ACCHOs and health services to develop community-based vaping policies. The webinar will conclude with a 10 minute Q&A session.

This event attracts 2 CPD points.

To register for this FREE webinar click here.

hand holding a vap, lots of smoke from mouth

Image source: The Guardian.

Housing crisis within a crisis

Covid-19 has exposed and aggravated the chronic overcrowding and dilapidated state of Aboriginal housing, especially in remote communities battling the Delta outbreak.

In the far west NSW virus hotspot of Wilcannia, where one in six of the town’s 650 people has been infected, a long-term housing crisis has made safe home isolation nigh impossible. Local health and community workers fear woeful hygiene, endemic disease and growing mental turmoil will take a further toll on First Nations people.

Pat Turner, CEO of NACCHO, said “what we are seeing in western NSW is a crisis within a crisis”. Turner says she warned governments last March that once Covid-19 reached communities such as Wilcannia, “it will hit us like a wildfire”.

“Aboriginal people have been bearing the brunt of overcrowded housing for decades,” she says. “The commonwealth has essentially wiped its hands of responsibility and the federal-state partnerships that have been struck, well, there’s not enough accountability to the people.”

To view the full article in The Australian click here.

Ronnie Murray & members of his family outside their Wilcannia home & the tent Ron was forced to isolate in

Ronnie Murray, right, and members of his family outside their home, and the tent Ron was forced to isolate in. Photo: Chris Pavlich. Image source: The Australian.

Vaccine hesitancy explained

Yuin woman Natalie Williams is a mother-of-two living in a Sydney COVID hotspot. Determined to keep her family safe, she is debunking vaccine myths and helping her family understand the facts.

Her mum Claudette Chenhall is 70, and a grandmother of seven. Claudette is currently fighting cancer, and when it was time to roll up her sleeve to get vaccinated, she became worried after hearing about the side effects.

Vaccine hesitancy isn’t exclusive to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, but factors like traumatic historical events, barriers to access and supply, and misinformation, have turned a tool of protection into a tool of fear.

Ms Vicki O’Donnell, the chairperson of the Aboriginal Health Council of WA and also CEO of Kimberly Aboriginal Medical Service in Broome, said there was a gap in the way information was being shared. “A lot of people are saying they feel sorry for NSW, but [when] you say, ‘Do you know there is over 800 of our mob sick with COVID?’, they can’t believe it,” she said. “The numbers don’t get told at the press conference, so some people think it’s only ‘white people’ with COVID.”

To view the ABC article in full click here.

photo of Natalie with mum Claudette, bay in the background

Natalie says her mum Claudette feels safe after getting the jab. Image source: ABC News.

COVID-19 in our prisons

A human rights lawyer is calling for the NSW government to step up measures to vaccinate prisoners. George Newhouse from the National Justice Project said the government needed to increase its vaccinations or release some inmates.

He said of the 13,000 prisoners in NSW, only 21% were double vaccinated.

30,5% of patients in a state-run correctional centre were fully vaccinated, according to a spokesperson for the Justice Health and Forensic Mental Health Network, which deals with the health of NSW prisoners. “59.6% have had one dose,” they said.

To view this ABC News article in full click here.

top down view of NSW prison open area

Lawyers and relatives say too many NSW prison inmates are missing out on getting vaccinated. Photo: Corrective Services NSW. Image source: ABC News.

Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health and Community Services CEO Julie Tongs said she received a text message from Corrections Commissioner Ray Johnson early on Saturday advising her of a positive case at the prison. “This is a very troubling development and I’m really, really worried for the detainees out there [at the prison],” Ms Tongs said. “I know our [detainee] clients are fully vaccinated but they [ACT Corrections] are not letting anyone know about the vaccination status of the general prison population.

“My information is that vaccination rates are very low and that only 25 doses a fortnight were being offered [to prisoners]. “If that’s the case, this could very quickly turn into an outbreak like Parklea [prison]. There is a lot of very vulnerable people out there, in poor physical health, and if it’s in the general prison community, the virus could quite easily kill some of them [inmates].”

To view the Canberra Times article in full click here.

man wearing covid-19 mask with hands gripping jail bars

Image source: Grattan Institute.

Elders and youth leading vaccine push

Aboriginal elders and teenagers are leading the push to get more people in Queensland’s Indigenous communities vaccinated, but the biggest challenge is dispelling myths and misinformation about the vaccine.

Cherbourg elder Uncle Bevan Costello this week received his second dose of the Pfizer vaccine. “I feel more confident now that I’m fully vaccinated that if I come into contact with COVID I should be OK because I’m a diabetic,” Uncle Bevan said.

Figures released earlier this week showed only 4.6% of the Cherbourg population aged over 15 were fully vaccinated. It’s among the lowest vaccination rates in the nation.

“A lot of my people have been hesitant because of a misunderstanding of the information, mostly on social media,” Uncle Bevan said. Mixed messaging about the AstraZeneca vaccine and other myths circulating online were partly to blame.

Katie Panaretto from the Darling Downs Hospital and Health Service said staff were working closely with the Cherbourg Aboriginal Shire Council to address the vaccine hesitancy. She believes sentiment is changing now that Pfizer is the only vaccine being offered in the community, “The community is slowly changing attitude and demand is increasing a little bit.”

To view the ABC News article in full click here.

Aboriginal female elder receiving covid-19 vax

Queensland Health hopes more remote community residents get a shot after seeing elders and youngsters vaccinated. Photo: Lucy Loram, ABC Wide Bay. Image source: ABC News.

Growing the Aboriginal health workforce

An article written by Dr Janine Mohamed CEO, Distinguished Fellow of the George Institute for Global Health, Growing and supporting the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health workforce, has been published in the Australian Health Review.

In the article Dr Mohamed says “It was a privilege to speak on behalf of the National Health Leadership Forum (NHLF) in Alice Springs in 2018 at a landmark Indigenous Roundtable held on the eve of a Council of Australian Governments (COAG) Health Council meeting. I stressed the urgent need for a dedicated and resourced strategy for growing and supporting the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health workforce. Simply including us as a small focus within mainstream workforce policies was insufficient. I asked Ministers to privilege the voices and wisdom of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations and practise cultural respect and reciprocity in order to build trust. They listened.

The National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workforce Implementation Plan is now under development, part of a refresh of the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workforce Strategic Framework 2021–2031 (NATSIHWSF).”

Dr Mohamed went on to say “ACCHOs are known for their outstanding work, and their outstanding performance during the COVID-19 pandemic has made international headlines. They are a model of primary care for everyone.”

To view the article in full click here.

Aboriginal dot painting of Australia with 4 stick figures' from cover of publication

Image from cover of National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workforce Strategic Framework 2016–2023.

New process for job advertising

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: World Suicide Prevention Day: We will continue to create Hope through Action

feature tile text 'First Nations led work aligns with World Suicide Prevention Day theme fighting hope with action' & image of awareness ribbon two hands linked

World Suicide Prevention Day: We will continue to Create Hope through Action

NACCHO believes this year’s theme on World Suicide Prevention Day, ‘Creating hope through action’, aligns with the innovative work done by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander led organisations and by NACCHO’s members to address disproportionate suicide rates amongst Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, particularly amongst our young people.

NACCHO Chair Donnella Mills said, “Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults are 2.7 times more likely to experience high or very high levels of psychological distress than other Australians. Our people comprise 11% of all emergency department mental health presentations across the Country. Our children and grandchildren continue to experience the impacts of past practices and policies. The rate of suicide for our young people is four times the rate of other Australian young people.

“For Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, social determinants affecting mental health can include factors such as cultural identity, family, intergenerational trauma, participation in cultural activities and access to traditional lands, lack of access to affordable housing, exposure to violence.

“The suffering of the Stolen Generations continues to have significant impacts on their health and well-being with intergenerational impacts of this trauma.

“In addition, the COVID-19 pandemic has contributed to increased feelings of isolation, anxiety and depression.

“To address these factors, adequate and ongoing funding support for evidence-based, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander led, social and emotional well-being (SEWB), mental health, and suicide prevention programs is vital, and we will continue to advocate for funding to support the rollout of culturally competent services.”

To read the media release in full click here.

New e-cigarette laws webinar

From Friday 1 October 2021 legislative changes will mean the only way to legally purchase unregistered nicotine vaping products will be with a GP prescription. This has implications for our communities and workforce.

NACCHO has partnered with RACGP and ANU to deliver an interactive webinar on these legislative changes and what they might mean for our communities and ACCHOs.

The webinar will be held on: Wednesday 15 September 2021, 1:00 PM-2:00 PM (AEST)

Professor Emily Banks from the National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health ANU together with Ms Alice Nugent, ACCHO pharmacist and member of the NACCHO Medicines Advisory Team, will present the legislative changes and dive into some of the more emergent issues surrounding safety and toxicity risks, prescription of an unregistered product, harm minimisation including a case study and discussion points to support ACCHOs and health services to develop community-based vaping policies. The webinar will conclude with a 10 minute Q&A session.

This event attracts 2 CPD points.

To register for this FREE webinar click here.

hand holding a vapper, lots of smoke from mouth

Image source: The Guardian.

New approach to preventing suicide

Two leading organisations will work together on a new approach to preventing suicides among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, combining proven strategies, to create a powerful blueprint for saving lives.

The Centre of Best Practice in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention (CBPATSISP) at The University of WA will collaborate with Black Dog Institute to develop an integrated systems approach to suicide prevention in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

Taking the findings of the 2016 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Evaluation Project (ATSISPEP) as the starting point, the collaboration will work with Indigenous community organisations, clinicians, academics, and others to develop a combination of interventions with the potential to reduce Indigenous suicides. Tragically, suicide rates in this population are more than double that of other Australians.

Professor Pat Dudgeon, Director of the CBPATSISP said, “We demonstrated through ATSISPEP that the unacceptably high rate of suicide in our communities is a consequence of colonisation, intergenerational trauma and systemic racism, and we know that effective responses must be based on Indigenous leadership and empowerment.”

To view the media release in full click here.

Record demand for suicide prevention services

Record numbers of Australians are heeding the call to seek help from suicide prevention services in a “silver lining” that shows the sector is making a major contribution to keeping the community safe, according to a new report released this World Suicide Prevention Day.

Suicide Prevention Australia CEO Nieves Murray said young people were seeking help at twice the rate of their parent’s generations, following decades of awareness-raising, stigma reduction initiatives and advocacy. “Creating hope through action is an important part of World Suicide Prevention Day and every other day of the year,” Ms Murray said.

Suicide Prevention Australia will today release its second annual State of the Nation in Suicide Prevention report, which shows 84% of suicide prevention services and workers experienced an increase in demand in the past 12 months (August 2020 to August 2021).

To view the Suicide Prevention Australia media release in full click here.

National Suicide Prevention Office

Today, on World Suicide Prevention Day, the Morrison Government is recognising this year’s theme of ‘Creating Hope Through Action’ by establishing the Australian National Suicide Prevention Office to lead a national mission to reduce the prevalence and impact of suicide in Australia.

World Suicide Prevention Day is an opportunity to raise awareness of suicide and to promote action that will reduce the number of suicides and suicide attempts. ‘Creating Hope Through Action’ is a reminder that there are actions that we can take that may provide hope to those who are feeling overwhelmed.

The Government is leading this work through record investment in, and concerted structural reform of, the national approach to suicide prevention. In a first for Australia, the new National Suicide Prevention Office will have the capability to work across all governments and sectors to drive a nationally consistent and integrated approach to reducing suicide rates.

To view the media release in full click here.

Image source: Calaveras County website.

Call for 90-95% NT vaccination threshold

The Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance NT (AMSANT) has called on the NT Government to adopt a 90-95% Aboriginal vaccination rate threshold before opening the NT borders.

The call was made by AMSANT’s Board and endorsed by the AMSANT membership. “A target of a 90-95% vaccination rate for all Aboriginal Territorians 12 years and older is required if we are to prevent or minimise the deadly toll of COVID in our communities,” AMSANT CEO, John Paterson said.

“The national target of 80% vaccinations of eligible adults 16 years and older would be a disaster in our communities, which have a much younger age profile and would equate to only about 55% of the total Aboriginal population vaccinated. At that level the virus would rip through our community like wildfire.”

“With one of the world’s highest rates of chronic disease and very overcrowded housing, we cannot risk the devastation this would cause. We only have to look at western NSW where our countrymen are suffering. Our hearts go out to them.”

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

AMSANT CEO John Paterson. Image source: ABC News.

Homeless Noongar women die on streets

At least eight Noongar women have died homeless in Perth this winter, including six on the streets, sparking renewed calls for action to address the homelessness crisis. In 2020, 56 homeless people died on the streets, 28% of them Indigenous.

There are more than 1,000 people sleeping rough on the streets of Perth each night, with 40% Indigenous. Across WA, out of 10,000 homeless people, 30% are Indigenous. In total, 14,000 households are on the public housing waitlist.

Protests have been held to urge action, including the establishment of “tent cities” near Parliament House. Since the early August vigil for Alana Garlett, who died after being found ill while trying to sleep in the city in June, another three young Aboriginal women have been found dead within 250m of where Ms Garlett was found.

Noongar Elder Vanessa Culbong said the crisis is “a product of a system that’s failed us and continues to fail us. We can’t see a light at the end of the tunnel when women and birth-givers are dying in front of us.”

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

Aunty Barbara Moore

Aunty Barbara Moore at a rally to urge action to prevent more homeless deaths in Perth. Photo: Kearyn Cox, NITV. Image source: SBS News.

Reducing violence against First Nations women

The Federal Government will develop a “specific and targeted” National Plan to Reduce Violence against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and their children after calls mounted at this week’s Women’s Safety Summit.

One of the leading voices advocating for an Indigenous-specific plan is the National Family Violence Prevention and Legal Services Forum (National FVPLS Forum). “It is essential that we are part of this important conversation,” said Antoinette Braybrook CEO of Djirra and National FVPLS Forum Co chair.

“Mainstream national plans create an invisibility for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and children. They often do not take in the diversity of our people and our communities. The principles of self-determination are not front and centre in mainstream plans,” said Braybrook. “We must see this national crisis of violence against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women end. The only way we can do that is by having our own dedicated national plan.”

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

photo taken from ground looking to sky Aboriginal woman's hand overlapping with child's hand, not touching

Image source: University of Melbourne – Pursuit.

New process for job advertising

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

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

Diabetes-related foot complications

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Diabetes-related Foot Complication Program aims to reduce diabetes related foot complications and amputations for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the Top End region of the NT, Central Australia, SA,
the Kimberley region and Far North Queensland.

The South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI) is partnering with experts in the 5 regions from the Aboriginal Community-Controlled Health Sector, government and non-government agencies, service providers, research institutions and national and regional peak bodies to implement a range of strategies to improve foot health. You are invited to hear about the implementation of this work from coordinators and staff in the regions from: 1:00 PM-4:00 PM ACST, Thursday 16 September 2021.

For further details, including a zoom link click here.

UNC Health Talk website.