NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: NACCHO Medical Advisor Dr Jason Agostino on the COVID-19 Vaccine Rollout

NACCHO Medical Advisor Dr Jason Agostino on the COVID-19 Vaccine Rollout

Dr Jason Agostino is a GP and an epidemiologist who has worked mainly in the field of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health. He joins 102.7FM, 3RRR Digital – Mission host Daniel James to talk about the plans underway on the vaccine rollout to First Nation communities across the country.

To listen to to the interview click here.

NACCHO Medical Advisor Dr Jason Agostino

World Hearing Day March 3 2021: New 2020 Otitis Media Guidelines available

March 3, 2021 is World Hearing Day, and the Centre for Research Excellence in Ear and Hearing Health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children have launched the new 2020 Otitis Media Guidelines for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children (“2020 OM Guidelines”).

You can view the OM Guidelines via the website and mobile app, which is free to download via the Apple App Store or Google Play. These guidelines provide interactive, engaging and culturally appropriate best practice up to date information on the prevention, diagnosis and management of otitis media.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children experience some of the highest rates of otitis media (OM) in the world. If left without appropriate care, OM can cause conductive and/or permanent hearing loss and is associated with language delay, speech problems, high vulnerability on entering school, social isolation, poor school attendance, and low education and employment opportunities. Hearing loss and otitis media rates among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children are well above the level considered a ‘public health crisis’ by the World Health Organization (WHO).

The 2020 OM Guidelines mobile app and website have been designed to build on the Guidelines themselves and act as a multimedia tool for primary health care providers, with:

  • step by step guide to assist with diagnosis
  • user-friendly algorithms to assist with clinical decision making based on diagnosis
  • audio recordings in top end Aboriginal languages to assist with communication
  • educational videos for health workers, families and children
  • otitis media otoscopy image gallery and quiz
  • condensed Otitis Media Guidelines with graded evidence and links to publications

The Centre of Research Excellence’s mission is to ‘close the gap’ in educational and social disadvantage associated with the high prevalence of OM and conductive hearing loss in Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children. The 2020 OM Guidelines have been prepared by a group of experts in the field of ear and hearing health* and bring up-to-date the Department of Health’s “2010 Recommendations for Clinical Care Guidelines on the Management of Otitis Media in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Populations”.

The release of the 2020 OM Guidelines for World Hearing Day (3 March 2021) will be accompanied by the publication of an article in the Medical Journal of Australia Leach AJ, Morris P, Coates HLC, et al. Otitis media guidelines for Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children: summary of recommendations.

Please help share the 2020 OM Guidelines as well as putting them into practice.

Use their social media tag #earhealthforlife or tag them on Twitter @cre_ichear or Facebook @CREICHEAR. If you would like more information or to provide us with feedback please contact CRE_ICHEAR@menzies.edu.au or Joanne Howes on 08 89 468 661.

Production and dissemination of the 2020 OM Guidelines is funded by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Centre of Research Excellence in Ear and Hearing Health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children.

health professional checking a small Aboriginal child's ear

Image source: the social photographer website.

Digital tool to dial back COVID-19 Anxiety, Depression and Alcohol Use

With more than a third of Australians now drinking alcohol daily, compared to 6 per cent pre-COVID-19, researchers are developing a digital tool to help communities manage the ongoing impacts of COVID-19.

A team of researchers from the University of Newcastle and Hunter Medical Research Institute (HMRI) has been awarded one of 10 NSW Ministry of Health COVID-19 Research Grants, designed to fund research in priority areas to directly support the NSW Health response to the COVID-19 pandemic. While the mental health consequences of COVID-19 are still emerging, it is estimated depressive and anxious symptoms are two to three times higher than before the pandemic hit, placing more pressure on an already overloaded mental health support system.

Read the full media release here.

both hands over a face

Image source: UNSW Newsroom – UNSW Sydney.

Long-awaited Cashless Debit Card evaluation made public

The National Indigenous Times story featured on the $2.5 million report by the University of Adelaide into the Cashless Debit Card scheme has been released to the public, almost five months after it was made available to the Morrison Government.

The report, commissioned by the Federal Government, was submitted to the Government on October 27.

The report stated that 25 per cent of participants had reported less alcohol consumption and 21 per cent reported less gambling activity.

“These findings are consistent with the more than 10 other evaluations that the CDC leads to people consuming less alcohol, gambling less and feeling safer in their communities,” said Minister for Families and Social Services, Anne Ruston.

“This report will help the Government improve the program and we are already addressing issues such as stigma through our commitment to improving the technology to ensure the CDC works in the exact same way as any other bank card.”

To read the full article click here

Aboriginal hands holding the cashless debit card

Image source: The Morning Bulletin.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics is recruiting over 300 Census remote area team roles

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) is recruiting over 300 Census remote area team roles across Australia for the 2021 Census. The teams will comprise of Remote Area Management Team Leaders and Remote Area Management Team Members.

Both roles have responsibility for ensuring that people in remote and very remote areas are counted in the Census including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, and people in national parks and pastoral stations. Andrew Henderson, Census Executive Director and National Spokesperson said, “remote area teams will manage the collection of Census data in the field by conducting interviews to ensure people from all cultures and communities are included in this important count. ”

To read the full release click here.

Call for Reconciliation Australia to pull Woolworths support over Darwin Dan Murphy’s

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community and health leaders want Reconciliation Australia to revoke its support for Woolworths over the retail giant’s plans to build one of Australia’s largest alcohol stores in Darwin, near three dry Aboriginal communities.

A letter signed by health, legal, domestic violence and community group leaders draws comparison to Rio Tinto, which was dumped by Reconciliation Australia over the destruction of a 46,000-year-old Aboriginal heritage site in the Pilbara, which said Rio’s actions were a “breathtaking breach of a respectful relationship”.

Read the full story in The Guardian here.

shipping container with spray painted Aboriginal flag heart & word Bagot, superimposed with logos for Woolworths and Dan Murphy's

Image source: BlackBusiness.

Funding support for COVID-19 impacted Aboriginal communities (NSW)

Applications have opened for Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations (ACCOs) to apply for funding to strengthen their support of Aboriginal communities impacted by COVID-19.

Grants of up to $50,000 are available from Aboriginal Affairs NSW for ACCOs to provide culturally appropriate, locally-based support to address community wellbeing, education and employment issues, as well as buy supplies for compliance with COVID-safe guidelines.

Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Don Harwin, said that the investment would support activity either as a response to the impacts of COVID-19, or provide additional support to enable scheduled events to take place safely. “COVID-19 has impacted life for Aboriginal communities in a range of unpredictable ways, and we want to ensure that Aboriginal community organisations can keep up their support, especially in regional and remote communities,” said Mr Harwin.

Read the full release here.

Two images: Aboriginal flag with stethoscope & Dr Vinka Barunga

Image sources: AMA, ABC News – Dr Vinka Barunga.

Growth in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander GP numbers to continue

In 2020, there were a total of 404 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students – 121 of whom were first year students – enrolled across Australia’s medical schools.

That represents 2.7% of all domestic students, and is a substantial increase from 265 in 2014, according to findings from the 2020 General Practice: Health of the Nation report.

Dr Olivia O’Donoghue, RACGP Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Censor, believes it is the groundwork laid at a secondary education level to build awareness and encouragement that has helped lead to the increase.

Read the full story in the RACGP here.

Mortality and tobacco smoking among Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander adults

A study just published internationally has followed the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults for nearly 11 years to see the the impact of smoking and quitting. The results are dramatic and stark.

Guest: Prof Tom Calma, National Coordinator, Tackling Indigenous Smoking

Host: Dr Norman Swan

To listen to the podcast click here.
two hands breaking cigarette in half

Image source: The Conversation.

RACP welcomes landmark day for Australia’s COVID-19 protection response

The Royal Australasian College of Physicians says today is a landmark day for Australia’s successful COVID-19 strategy and that Australians should be confident in the Government’s rollout strategy.

RACP President, Professor John Wilson said “Today marks an incredible achievement in our battle against the global COVID-19 pandemic.

“Australia is in this position today thanks to the hard work of our frontline workers, State and Federal Governments, and the everyday Australians who have been doing the right thing and following the advice of health experts.

“The vaccines being rolled out have gone through rigorous approval processes by the Therapeutic Goods Administration, which is one of the best regulators of its kind in the world.

“Australians should be confident in receiving the COVID-19 vaccine as it becomes available to them according to the Government’s roll-out schedule.

Read the full media release here.

gloved hand holding bottle of vaccine, writing with ungloved hand

Image source: BBC News.

NSW – North Ryde – Macquarie University

Postdoctoral Research Fellow – Macquarie University (North Ryde)

Macquarie University are seeking an Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander Postdoctoral Researcher with strong qualitative research skills and a background in health. The Postdoctoral Researcher will contribute to all qualitative aspects of the research, including developing focus group/interview templates, recruit expert stakeholders to focus groups, design and run semi-structured interviews, analyse the findings, develop evidence statements and write up the results for dissemination. They will work with communities to design and implement the focus groups and analyse the resulting data. They will also complete a qualitative evaluation of the new EHC approach at each study site.

To view position descriptions and to apply click here.

Applications close Monday 1 March 2021, at 11.55pm

21st International Symposium on Recent Advances in Otitis Media

Virtual meeting to be held on 11 – 12 June 2021.

Free registration! For more information on the symposium click here.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Moving from Safe to Brave Reconciliation report

feature tile text 'Moving from Safe to Brave - 2021 State of Reconciliation in Australia Report' Aboriginal flag & Australian flag blurred by person walking at right hand side of Aboriginal flag & left hand side of Australian flag

Moving from Safe to Brave Reconciliation report

In 2016 The first State of Reconciliation in Australia Report was produced by Reconciliation Australia in 2016 to mark 25 years of a formal reconciliation process in Australia, through both the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation and Reconciliation Australia. The 2021 report is the second such report and reflects on where we have come from, where we are today, where we need to get to, and how we can get there.

While we recognise the decades of dedication to the reconciliation process, Australians needs to move from ‘safe’ to ‘brave’ in order to realise the promise of reconciliation, a new report says. The 2021 State of Reconciliation in Australia Report assesses the current status of reconciliation and outlines some practical actions that need to be taken if we are to continue to progress the reconciliation process. Reconciliation Australia, CEO Karen Mundine says the report shows the reconciliation movement is at a tipping point. “While we see greater support for reconciliation from the Australian people than ever before, we must be more determined than ever if we are to achieve the goals of the movement — a just, equitable, and reconciled Australia. There is a far greater awareness of the complexity and magnitude of First Nations cultures and knowledges, and many more Australians now understand and acknowledge the impacts that British colonialism and the modern Australian state have had on First Nations families and communities. Reconciliation must be more than raising awareness and knowledge. The skills and knowledge gained must now motivate us to braver action. Actions must involve truth-telling, and actively addressing issues of inequality, systemic racism and instances where the rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are ignored, denied or reduced.

The State of Reconciliation report’s focus of moving from safe to brave is supported by the year’s theme, “More than a word. Reconciliation takes Action” which urges the reconciliation movement towards braver and more impactful action.

To view Reconciliation Australia’s media release in regarding the launch of the report click here, to access a summary report click here and to view the full report click here.
cover of the Reconciliation Australia 2021 State of Reconciliation in Australia Report - Moving From Safe to Brave text against dark red band, top & bottom of cover yellow, pale orange white Aboriginal painting

Plan to slash eyesight-saving surgery wait lists

Extended waiting lists for routine yet potentially eyesight-saving cataract surgery could be slashed under a plan proposed by the eye health and vision care sector in a submission to the 2021–22 Federal Budget. The Vison 2020 Australia submission calls for expanded delivery of public cataract surgery, along with the development and roll out of innovative and sustainable service models and national protocols to support enhanced access to cataract surgery for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. The submission also proposes improving access to local eye care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people by rolling out local case management and supporting community designed and led eye care models.

The full submission can be accessed here and Vision 2020’s media release regarding the submission is available here.

close up of doctor's gloved hands conducting eye surgery

Image source: The Medical Journal of Australia.

Health services needed for iSISTAQUIT project

iSISTAQUIT training aims to train health providers in culturally appropriate smoking cessation techniques through self-paced online modules and a range of other resources. The main aim is to make health providers confident in delivering smoking cessation interventions to pregnant Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women. To achieve this the iSISTAQUIT team is currently actively looking to recruit Aboriginal and mainstream health services in their iSISTAQUIT project. You are invited to consider participating in the iSISTAQUIT project, with an informational webinar on Thursday 11 February at 11:00 am to help you get started.

For further information about the ISISTAQUIT project and webinar click here.

torso of sitting Aboriginal woman in grey sweet pants & white t-shirt breaking a cigarette in half

Image source: The Queensland Times.

Exemption policy impacts across generations

A new book titled Black, White and Exempt: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander lives under exemption presents the untold story of Aboriginal exemption; a policy imposed by state governments on Aboriginal people during the twentieth century. Exemption certificates promised Aboriginal people access to the benefits of Australian citizenship that Aboriginal status denied them, including access to education, health services, housing and employment. In exchange, exempted individuals were required to relinquish their language, identity and ties to kin.

Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island Studies CEO, Craig Ritchie said “the traumatic and complex impacts of this policy [including mental illness] across generations is little understood.”

To view the article in full click here.

photo of Aboriginal woman Daisy Smith with her daughter Valma, circa 1950

Daisy Smith with her daughter Valma, circa 1950. Image source: La Trobe University website.

WA ACCO consortium leads homelessness project

There is an over representation of Aboriginal people among those experiencing homelessness. The WA McGowan Government has awarded $6.8 million 5-year contract to Noongar Mia Mia Pty Ltd who will lead an ACCO partnership with Wungening Aboriginal Corporation and Ngalla Maya Aboriginal Corporation to provide culturally appropriate assertive outreach, case management and after-hours support for individuals and families sleeping rough across the Perth metropolitan area. The new service will link people who are sleeping rough with appropriate wraparound support services, including accommodation, employment, health, mental health, financial management, and social support. ACCOs have been recognised as having the cultural authority to deliver effective services within Aboriginal communities.

To view the Government of WA media statement click here.

Two homeless Aboriginal men in front of a makeshift tent in Perth

Two men in front of a tent in Perth. Photograph: Jesse Noakes. Image source: The Guardian.

Darwin Dan Murphy’s fight continues

Medical leaders are pushing ahead in their fight against plans to build a Dan Murphy’s near three Indigenous communities as they call for an urgent meeting with Woolworths’ bosses. Construction on the alcohol megastore in Darwin’s airport precinct is due to start in May after the NT Government gave it the green light in December last year. Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance Northern Territory (AMSANT) are demanding a meeting with the Woolworths’ board and chairman.

AMSANT CEO John Paterson says the health service deals with alcohol-related incidents every week, and he fears it will worsen if the store goes ahead, “Spanning from violence, deaths, car accidents, you name it, it’s happening as a result of large consumption of alcohol here in Darwin and surrounding suburbs. Our position is quite clear, we do not want the build of a super liquor outlet store in Darwin…full stop.”

To view the Hot100FM news item click here.

Dan Murphy's mega store internal image

Image source: Hot100FM website.

Cherbourg positive parenting program

Cherbourg parents and care-givers have been invited to take part in a free “positive parenting” program which aims to build on the strengths and resilience of the community. For the past two years Darling Downs Health, via Cherbourg Health Service, has been working with CRAICCHS and the University of Queensland to roll out Indigenous Positive Parenting Programs (Triple P) in the community. The programs are known collectively as “D’arin Djanum”, which means “strong together” in Wakka Wakka.

Clinical psychologist Arvind Ponnapalli, co-ordinator of the project, said it aimed to provide positive support for parents and families. “The D’arin Djanum project rests on the proven fact that ‘strong together’ families can create a strong foundation for children, support their growth and development, guide them through challenges of life, and teach positive cultural values,” Mr Ponnapalli said. “According to a recent independent report by the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, Triple P is one of only two programs given a ‘very high’ evidence rating in an international review of 26 parenting interventions designed to prevent or reduce the negative impact of adverse childhood experiences.”

To view the full southburnett.com.au article click here.

Clinical Psychologist Arvind Ponnapalli, Cherbourg Qld, in CRAICCHS logo business shirt standing against Aboriginal art

Clinical Psychologist Arvind Ponnapalli, Cherbourg, Queensland. Image source: southburneett.com.au.

Halfway housing for people leaving prison

The Foundation for Indigenous Sustainable Health (an Australian non-for-profit) is set to build a social, justice, training and agricultural enterprise, incorporating halfway housing for Indigenous people leaving prison at Myalup, 90 minutes south of Perth. Designs are out for public comment regarding the proposed $15 million development Myalup Karla Waanginy – meaning ‘meeting place for different people to come together and yarn around the fire’.

FISH and a team of Aboriginal advisers considered all states for the prototype, but chose WA in part because of its standout Indigenous incarceration rate. The site will house 45 residents at a time, each staying six months, but will also support people after they move on into the community. The program will last 18 months with 180 participants at a time. The wellbeing building will operate like a small campus where participants and staff will work and do counselling, art therapy, education, training and medical checks.

To view the full article in WAtoday click here.

artist's impression of WA Myalup Karla Waanginy

Artist’s impression of Myalup Karla Waanginy complex. Image source: WAtoday website.

Bathurst educator wins Dreamtime Award

Kerrie Kennedy, Senior Educator from Goodstart Early Learning Bathurst is the proud winner of the Awabakal Excellence in Education Award at the Dreamtime Awards. In its fourth year the National Dreamtime Awards has grown to be the biggest and best celebration in the country recognising Indigenous excellence in the categories of Sport, Arts, Education, Health and Community.

Kerrie was nominated for her excellence in education in early childhood. Kerrie said winning the award was a huge honour and paid tribute to her own parents for their commitment to her education, “My mum and dad always told us how important our education was and instilled in us the importance of education for all children. I have helped to establish a Bush Kindy Program in Bathurst, making connections within the local Aboriginal Community, and connecting back to Country. I believe the most important learning and development in anyone’s life happens in high quality early learning centres like ours.”

To view the article in full click here.

three girls with teacher on mat in Goodstart Early Learning Bathurst, Aboriginal flags & images in background

Goodstart Early Learning Bathurst. Image source: Toddle website.

COVID-19 Advisory Group communique

The Australian Government’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Advisory Group on COVID-19 (the Taskforce) have released a new communique, advising vaccination will be free and a staged rollout is expected to start in February 2021 for people at high risk of infection such as frontline healthcare workers, with vaccination of other population groups to follow.

The Taskforce noted the overarching Australian Government approach to prioritisation has been guided by medical and technical experts. The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) acknowledged that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have an increased risk of getting and developing serious illness from COVID-19 due to multiple factors, including having a high rate of chronic health conditions and a greater chance of living in communities where crowded living conditions exist.

To access the communique click here.

3D painting of creased Aboriginal flag with covid-19 cell image in flames superimposed

Image source: The Medical Journal of Australia.

Sport linked to better academic performance

Greater sports participation among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children is linked with better academic performance, according to new research from the University of SA. Conducted in partnership with the University of Sydney and the University of Technology Sydney, the world-first study found that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children who played organised sports every year over four years, had numeracy skills which were advanced by seven months, compared to children who did less sport.

The study used data from four successive waves of Australian’s Longitudinal Study of Indigenous Children, following 303 students (with a baseline age of 5–6 years old) to assess cumulative sports participation against academic performance in standardised NAPLAN and PAT outcomes. Sports participation has been linked with better cognitive function and memory in many child populations, but this is the first study to confirm the beneficial association between ongoing involvement in sport and academic performance among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children.

Lead researcher, Dr Dot Dumuid, says the study highlights the importance of sports as a strategy to help close the gap* for Australia’s First Nations peoples.

To view the University of SA’s media release click here.

group of Aboriginal boys on red dust landscape - Yuendumu footballer Messiah Brown (centre) is sheperded by Jerome Dickson as Ezekial Egan (stripy shirt) and Riley White try to tackle him

Yuendumu footballer Messiah Brown (centre) is shepherded by Jerome Dickson as Ezekial Egan (stripy shirt) and Riley White try to tackle him. Photograph: Steve Strike. Image source: The Australian.

Suicide data release to aid prevention

Victoria’s Coroners Court will release annual statistics on Indigenous suicide rates to help prevention organisations better target programs to reduce the numbers. A new report has found that suicide rates among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Victorians are double that among the non-Indigenous population. State Coroner Judge John Cain says the ongoing discrepancy in Indigenous suicide frequencies is worrying.

The Coroners Court established a Koori Engagement Unit two years ago to help tackle the disparity. Unit manager Troy Williamson said the release of a new full-year data in a report to be released each January came in response to requests for more data from Indigenous-led suicide prevention sector and the community. “In 2020, Victoria had one of the country’s highest suicide rates among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people,” he said. “Our communities have requested more public data to put agency back in their hands and guide culturally safe response to Aboriginal health and wellbeing.”

To view The Young Witness article in full click here.

blue sign outside Coroners Court of Victoria, text Coroners Court of Victoria, state government emblem & the word courtrooms

The Coroners Court set up a Koori Engagement Unit to tackle the frequency of Indigenous suicide. Image source: The Young Witness News website.

Indigenous Governance award nominations open 

Dr Joe Tighe from the Australian Human Rights Commission has commented that unless you have the patience of the Dalai Lama (who had the option of going into exile) – work in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health equity can feel like a very slow, frustrating and painful burn for many advocates. This is one reason why Joe thinks it is so important to recognise and acknowledge successes, the little or big wins, at every opportunity.

When Dr Tighe said that when governments allowed us to dance, these wins sometimes meant a well-deserved night out for an awards ceremony. Acknowledgment of the wins provides a breather and helps to restore some energy. It also reminds governments (again) – that Indigenous health in Indigenous hands is the most effective approach.

Joe encourages you to take the time to nominate the many warriors and success stories for Reconciliation Australia’s Indigenous Governance Awards. It’s a fantastic opportunity for Indigenous organisations to have their governance recognised.

For further information about the Indigenous Governance Awards 2021 and the process for nominations click here.banner text 'Indigenous Governance Awards 2021' right hand side red, yellow, grey Aboriginal irregular dot images - 7 in total

Current tests fail to identify LGA babies

Following a large international study on Hyperglycaemia and Adverse Pregnancy Outcome (HAPO), diagnostic criteria for gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) were changed in WA in 2015. The ORCHID Study (Optimisation of Rural Clinical and Haematological Indicators of Diabetes in pregnancy) is a collaboration between the Rural Clinical School of WA (RCSWA), Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Services and WA Country Health Services. It was designed to help simplify screening for GDM in rural and remote WA. The study’s first paper showed it can be difficult to get everyone to do this test, while the second paper showed two-thirds of women with GDM who do the test are missed due to blood glucose sample instability. A further component of the study (funded by Diabetes Research WA) is still collecting data for the revalidation of glycated haemoglobin (HbA1c) and glycated albumin as an alternative to OGTT for GDM screening at 24–28 weeks gestation.

To view a plain language summary of the research click here.

sleeping Aboriginal baby in orche coloured blanket in bowl with Aboriginal dot painting & Aboriginal colour headband all sitting in dry grass landscape

Image source: Daily Mail Pics Twitter.

2021 State of Telehealth Summit mental health academy COViU Australia's largest online telehealth conference for mental and allied health professionals banner

2021 State of Telehealth Summit

The use of telehealth consultations in mental health has rapidly expanded in recent months. While this accelerating trend has been ignited by the global COVID-19 pandemic, studies suggest that the shift from in-person care to virtual delivery is here for good. As a mental/allied health professional, how prepared are you to effectively deliver telehealth and take advantage of the latest technologies and opportunities in this field of practice?

To help you answer these questions, Mental Health Academy (Australia’s largest CPD provider for mental health professionals) and COVIU (Australia’s leading telehealth platform) have partnered to deliver the largest ever telehealth-focused online conference, the 2021 State of Telehealth Summit.

Join Australia’s largest online telehealth conference for mental and allied health professionals. It’s entirely free. This ground-breaking event brings together 21 subject-matter experts and 10 hours of learning – all accessible from the comfort of your home. As a participant, you’ll be able to join live webinars, watch session recordings (on-demand, 24/7), and much more.

To register click here.

Digital Health Week 2021 Pushing the Boundaries of Health Care banner, grey, two overlapping white triangles, white text, yellow font '2021' & 'of'

Digital Health Week 2021 from 8–11 February 2021 will be hosted by the University of Sydney and the University of Melbourne. The 2021 Theme is Pushing the Boundaries of Health Care. Check out the fully-online conference program and speakers here and explore the ePoster gallery here –  showcasing the work of digital health researchers from across the world. Have your say and vote for the 2021 ‘People’s Choice’ ePoster. Two optional digital health and data workshops are on offer, each running for three half-days – Data Science for Clinical Applications and Design of Clinical Decision Support Systems (CDSS).

To register for the conference click here.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: First Nations media services trusted sources of health information

microphone in radio broadcasting studio

First Nations media critical to health

The critical importance of First Nations media for the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and communities has been highlighted in submissions to a Senate inquiry into media diversity in Australia. However, the sector is under pressure on multiple fronts, according to a detailed submission by peak body First Nations Media Australia (FNMA), which says operational funding provided by the Federal Government has remained virtually unchanged since 1996 despite numerous reviews urging increased funding for the sector.

The FNMA submission highlights many ways in which First Nations media, including radio, TV, newspapers and online sites, affect the social determinants of health, and says the COVID-19 pandemic illustrates the sector’s capacity to deliver timely, relevant information and to address misinformation. “Communities turned to First Nations media services as trusted sources of information, particularly amid conflicting reports shared through social media and other networks,” the submission says.

To view the full Croakey article click here.First Nations Media Australia logo - word plus map of Australia filled with yellow orchre black aqua Aboriginal art circles

Tackling Indigenous Smoking booklet

The Bega Gambirringu Health Service, Kalgoorlie (WA) has created a 20 page booklet to support and educate Aboriginal people and communities about tobacco use. The booklet is filled with colourful infographics and photos and contains a wealth of information about: tobacco history; what’s in a cigarette; how smoking makes you sick; health effects of vaping/e-cigarettes; smoking during pregnancy; second-hand smoke; the financial cost of smoking; benefits of quitting smoking; understanding why you smoke and how to quit. You can access a copy of the booklet here.

cover of Tackling Indigenous Smoking Bega Garnbirringu booklet

Cover of Bega Garnbirringu Health Service’s Tackling Indigenous Smoking booklet.

Game changing heart monitor

With Indigenous Australians 20% more likely to experience heart or circulatory diseases than non-Indigenous people according to the Medical Journal of Australia. The risk is especially evident among younger people, with Indigenous Australians between 30 and 39-years-old over three times as likely to die from heart disease than non-Indigenous Australians.

New devices like the S-Patch Cardio can ease the strain on Aboriginal Medical Services and ACCHOs. S-Patch Cardio, a simple, lightweight, medically proven heart rate diagnostic device is set to be distributed and delivered through a 100% Indigenous-owned company, Supply Aus. Contracts with both Samsung (creators of the S-Patch Cardio) and Sigma Healthcare (a network of independent and franchised pharmacies throughout Australia) will see Supply Aus source and distribute the life-saving device across Australia. Through Sigma, Supply Aus will be able to use National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) members to provide a range of fairly priced health items to Indigenous communities.

To view the article in full click here.red background of graph & white lines of a heart beat

Why birthing on country is important?

NITV Radio have produced a podcast called What is birthing on country and why is it crucial for Aboriginal women? about the role and training of doulas (childbirth companions) in the community as part of the Caring for Mum on Country project.

The podcast features Kerri-Lee Harding from the SBS National Indigenous Television (NITV) Radio program in conversation with Dr Sarah Ireland, midwife and researcher from the Molly Wardaguga Research Centre at the Charles Darwin University, in the NT and other experts on the Caring for Mum on Country project.

To listen to the podcast click here.

three Aboriginal mums holding their babies sitting on rocks

Smoking Ceremony, Welcoming Waminda Goodjaga’s on Yuin Country. L–R; Gemmah Floyd, Elizabeth Luland, Patricia De Vries and their babies. Image source: Waminda South Coast Women’s Health and Welfare Aboriginal Corporation.

Senior Australian of the Year

Dr Miriam-Rose Ungunmerr Baumann AM from the NT, has been named the Senior Australian of the year for 2021. Dr Ungunmerr Baumann was recognised for her contribution to children’s education, demonstrating an admirable commitment to making Australia a better place. Minister for Senior Australians and Aged Care Services, Richard Colbeck, said Dr Ungunmerr Baumann had gone above and beyond in her service to education in the Top End. “Miriam-Rose became the first fully qualified Aboriginal teacher in the NT in 1975, and later served as the principal of the Catholic school in her home community,” Minister Colbeck said. “She is a renowned artist and a strong advocate for visual art to be a part of every child’s education.”

To view the Minister Colbeck’s media release click here.

Dr Miriam-Rose Ungunmerr Baumann AM receiving the 2021 Senior Australian of the Year award

Dr Miriam-Rose Ungunmerr Baumann AM is the 2021 Senior Australian of the Year recipient. Image source: Salty Dingo.

Criminal justice approaches prioritising health

Dr Jill Guthrie has been given one of Australia’s highest honours for significant service to Indigenous health, including her work on reducing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander contact with the criminal justice system. Dr Guthrie, a descendant of the Wiradjuri people of Western NSW, was one of three academics from The Australian National University (ANU) who have been appointed a member of the Order of Australia (AM) in this year’s Australian honours.

Dr Guthrie’s work has led the way in crafting innovative evidence-based approaches to criminal justice that prioritise the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and their communities. The epidemiologist recently led a justice reinvestment project in her hometown of Cowra which redirects funds from prisons to holistic initiatives and services to address the causes of offending and keep those at risk of incarceration from coming into contact with the criminal justice system.

To view the full article click here.

image of Dr Jill Guthrie during a panel discussion

Dr Jill Guthrie. Image source: Institute of Public Administration Australia.

Collaboration across health practitioners

As part of delivering holistic healthcare, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Practitioners work with many other health professionals to protect the public, and especially their communities. In the podcast Collaboration across professions: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health practitioners Tash Miles from the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) talks to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Practitioners and their colleagues about what collaboration across professions looks like and what it means to them, the community, and the potential for the future.

Tash has an insightful discussion with Renee Owen, Program Manager, Aboriginal Health at Barwon Health; Mandy Miller, midwife, Koori Maternity Service, Wathaurong Aboriginal Co-operative; Dr Ed Poliness, GP, Wathaurong Aboriginal Co-operative and Damien Rigney, registered nurse and Aboriginal Health Practitioner, Aboriginal Health Council South Australia. Each guest brings a range of perspectives, centred around a strong connection and acknowledgment of the importance of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Practitioners in our healthcare system.

To listen to the podcast click here.

Aboriginal mum sitting holding standing young child getting a vaccine by health worker

The North West Hospital and Health Service. Image source: The North West Star.

Lived experience of suicide

The Seedling Group and The Lived Experience Centre, in collaboration with Black Dog Institute have produced a report ‘We are Strong. We are Resilient. But we are Tired’ – voices from the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Lived Experience Centre Yarning Circles. The report aims to present the findings and outcomes from several virtual yarning circles used to explore lived experience and build upon the existing work to better understand Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’s lived experience of suicide. Information was gathered to understand: what has helped; how interventions have helped divert a suicide crisis; who was available to help; and what healing has looked like.

To view the report click here.

Gundjeihmi Aboriginal rock art hand stencil and Aboriginal hand against the rockhand

Gundjeihmi hand stencil. Image source: Independent Australia website.

NT alcohol policies reduce ICU admissions

Alcohol misuse is a disproportionately large contributor to morbidity and mortality in the NT. A new study, The effect of alcohol policy on intensive care unit admission patterns in Central Australia: A before–after cross-sectional study, examines the effect of a raft of alcohol legislation reforms that came into effect in the NT in 2018, as part of the NT Government’s Alcohol Harm Minimisation Action Plan. The reforms were based on recommendations from the Riley Review for an integrated alcohol harm reduction framework and included a minimum unit price for alcohol, the introduction of Police Auxiliary Liquor Inspection Officers and a Banned Drinkers Register.

The introduction of alcohol harm limitation policies in Central Australia has had a marked effect on critical health figures, with a 38% relative reduction in Hospital Intensive Care Unit admissions associated with alcohol misuse, as well as a marked reduction in trauma admissions.

To view the media release about the study click here and to access the study click here.

mechanical ventilator for patient in hospital

Image source: Scimex website. 

It’s time to heal

As the state begins to emerge from COVID-19, mental health remains our greatest challenge. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in Victoria are three times more likely to experience high or very high levels of psychological distress. Victoria also has the second highest rate of “high to very high” levels of psychological distress in 39% of young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people (Australia Institute of Health and Welfare, 2018). We know there is a strong link between trauma and poor mental health.

Amongst the Stolen Generations, 40% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 50 plus have poor mental health because of the trauma of removal. This costs us on many levels. Mental health and related conditions have been estimated to be as much as 22% of the health gap (Global Burden of Disease Report 2003). The impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic make existing conditions even worse for vulnerable Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander communities.

To view the opinion piece in full click here.

painting of Union Jack & Aboriginal flag overlaid with Southern cross stars with cracks throughout painting

Image source: The Standard.

Unchecked misinformation risks vaccine response

A newly formed coalition of health and technology experts is calling on the Australian Parliament to force Big Tech companies to reveal the true extent of COVID-19 misinformation. In a letter sent to the Australian Parliament, the coalition warns unchecked misinformation risks Australia’s COVID-19 vaccination efforts. They have called on politicians to introduce a Big Tech ‘Live List’, which details the most popular coronavirus-related material being shared online. The coalition, led by Reset Australia , includes the Immunisation Coalition, the Immunisation Foundation of Australia, Coronavax and the Doherty Institute. “Rampant misinformation on social media is hampering Australia’s COVID-19 efforts and may deter widespread take up of the future vaccine,” said Chris Cooper, executive director of Reset Australia, the local affiliate of the global initiative working to counter digital threats to democracy and society.

To view the Reset Australia media release click here.

drawing of COVID-19 cells & face with cap on head & mask stretched away from the the face with long Pinocchio nose

Image source: Forbes website.

Health scholarships open to regional SA students

Students studying a range of health courses in country SA are being encouraged to apply for scholarships worth up to $20,000. The latest initiative forms part of the SA Health’ 2021 Rural Health Undergraduate Scholarship program. Largely, it seeks to have students working in rural and regional areas of SA and in turn prosper these settings in the long-term.

SA Health’s Rural Support Service executive director Debbie Martin said six undergraduate scholarships. will be available to students who demonstrate a strong commitment to continue their future professional practice in regional areas. “We encourage all year 12 students and new and continuing university students who reside in regional areas to apply for the scholarship,” Ms Martin said. “Scholarship recipients are awarded $5,000 per year for up to four years of their study to help support them while learning.” Successful recipients will be required to work in regional health service settings once graduated, equivalent to the number of years they received funding.

To view the The Times on the Coast article in full click here.

dry SA landscape with sun setting, windmill & sparse vegetation, red dirt

Image source: The Advertiser.

AMA Indigenous Medical Scholarships – last chance

Applications close soon for a scholarship that helps Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander medical students balance work, study and family life. The AMA Indigenous Medical Scholarship provides $10,000 a year to already enrolled Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander medical students for the remainder of their degree. Over the past 27 years, the Scholarship has supported 30 Indigenous medical students, including Australia’s first Aboriginal surgeon, Professor Kelvin Kong.

The 2020 recipient, Lloyd Diggins, was able to use his scholarship to cut down on his working hours, which were restricting his study time outside of classes and his ability to work on country. Mr Diggins, a Wongi man who grew up on Whadjuk and Wardandi Noongar countries in Western Australia, is a physiotherapist, but decided to retrain as a GP after seeing the needs of remote Aboriginal communities. “The scholarship has also allowed me to learn on country. The way I will think and work as a doctor has been changed by the Elders and local Aboriginal people I’ve been able to care for and learn from.”

To view the AMS media release click here.

Aboriginal medical student holding the strut of a light plane on tarmac in outback

Image source: AMA website.

ICE resource feedback sought

Researchers from the Matilda Centre are seeking feedback on a recently developed resource to support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and wellbeing. This research is being done to learn more about the new Cracks in the Ice online resource developed for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. This resource aims to provide trusted and evidence-based information and resources about crystal methamphetamine to support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and wellbeing.

If you, your mob or community has been impacted by ice, or if you are a health professional in this space, make your voice heard and help make sure this resource meets the needs of the community!

The survey is open to people who are: aged 18 years or more; currently living in NSW, SA or WA; identify as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander. The survey will take approximately 15 to 30 minutes, with participants also having the option to provide further detailed feedback in a telephone interview. All participants will go into the draw to win a grocery only voucher valued at $50.

For further information on how to provide your feedback click here.

hands lighting an ICE pipe

Image source: The Conversation.

Fully funded data analyst course

The Digital Skills Organisation (DSO) is an initiative led by the Department of Education Skills and Employment as part of the Delivering Skills for Today and Tomorrow package. Indigenous-owned business Goanna Education has been selected by the DSO to trial and test innovative solutions to train and drive employment for junior data analysts. Data Analytics is the science of being able to tell an accurate story from a set of data. It involves the use of powerful tech systems to organise, format, and model data in order to glean useful information.

Goanna Education is looking for Indigenous candidates over 18 years of age who are looking to pursue a career in tech. Applicants don’t need any previous experience. For further information about the 21 week course starting on 1 March 2021 click here.text Career Pathway Support, Goanna Education logo, Aboriginal woman & words Become a Data Analyst

VIC – Melbourne – Children’s Ground

Manager People & Culture x 1 PT (Initial Fixed Term) – Melbourne (possible occasional travel to NT)

Children’s Ground operates in Central Australia and across the Top End, with support provided by a Melbourne-based Shared Services team. With the organisation growing, following a review of the People & Culture function this position will be key to ensuring Children’s Ground recruits and retains staff who deliver on its vision and approach. Children’s Ground has a small People & Culture team working with the Director Children’s Ground Operations to implement the overall People & Culture (P&C) Function. The team includes the Recruitment/Human Resources Coordinator in Central Australia, Volunteer Coordinator (voluntary), P&C volunteers and this new position of Manager of People & Culture.

To view the position description click here. Applications close Monday 15 February 2021.children's ground banner - 7 Aboriginal children running towards camera on country

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: progressing the Australia Day debate

feature tile, Aboriginal & national flag hanging horizontally, words: Stolen Generations history needed to progress the Australia Day debate

Progressing the Australia Day debate

The Healing Foundation CEO, Fiona Petersen, spoke with Virginia Trioli on ABC Radio Melbourne ‘Mornings’ today about the importance of Stolen Generations history being taught as part of the Australian school curriculum. Fiona said the Healing Foundation encourages school communities to engage with survivors in their local area to learn about not just what happened when they were removed and the follow-on effects of that, but also how they and their families have been overcoming what happened. Fiona agreed that if Stolen Generations history is taught more broadly in schools it is likely to better inform the ongoing conversation about Australia Day.

To view the full transcript of the interview click here.

Aboriginal people with large banner National Day of Mourning 26 January

Image source: Teach Indigenous Knowledge.

COVID-19 patient identification and racism

The Australian Indigenous Doctors’ Association (AIDA) is the peak body representing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander medical students and doctors in Australia. During the COVID-19 pandemic, AIDA members witnessed incidents of racism related to patient identification. Patient identification is imperative to providing culturally safe health care to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients. In one instance, a patient who identified as Aboriginal was denied testing for COVID-19. The justification for this denial was that priority testing would only be offered to “real Aborigines”. Incidents like these highlight the need to improve the cultural safety of all healthcare workers and that increasing community education about why asking all patients whether they identify as being of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander origin is vital.

AIDA advocates for best practice in patient identification to support the development of policies and services related to the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Culturally safe practice begins with sensitively, correctly, and regularly asking the identification question at the admission of care. Addressing under-identification includes asking all patients the identity question and recording responses accurately as one of several best practice principles.

To view AIDA’s position paper on patient identification click here.

desktop resource used as a prompt to 'asking the question' "are you of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander origin?"

Desktop resource to prompt ‘asking the question’. Image source: The University of Melbourne.

Measuring self-reported racism in healthcare

Racism is a fundamental cause of ill health and health inequities globally. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander stakeholders have identified as a high priority, research on the experiences of discrimination, overall and specifically within healthcare. Regardless of the measure used, there is consistent evidence of high exposure to discrimination in this population. High quality measurement of experiences of discrimination is therefore essential to underpin action to improve health and reduce inequities.

A recent article in the International Journal for Equity in Health, Developing and validating measures of self-reported everyday and healthcare discrimination for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults looks at instruments to capture Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ experiences of interpersonal discrimination. The instruments can be used to enable valid measurement of discrimination’s prevalence, in order to identify priority targets for action, quantify discrimination’s contribution to health and health inequities, monitor trends, and evaluate interventions.

To view the paper in full click here.

Image source: The Royal Melbourne Hospital website.

Confronting Australia’s collective racism

In health, ‘bravery’ is something that is typically used about patients. Children (and sometimes adults) are asked to be ‘brave’ when they receive a vaccination. People are often called brave for sharing stories of mental illness to destigmatise it. Sometimes, just seeing a health professional is brave, if the issue is very personal or potentially embarrassing.

However, bravery has now been used about health professionals and policymakers in the 2021 State of Reconciliation in Australia Report: Moving from Safe to Brave. This is the second report (the first being in 2016) outlining where Australia is at with reconciliation between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and other Australians. The report is based on interviews with leaders of national Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations, leaders of relevant non-Indigenous organisations, corporate leaders and Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) partners.

To view the Croakey article in full click here.

street march, lady with flag Aboriginal colours, words no room for racism inside yellow map of Aust, against black top and red lower half of flag, young Aboriginal girl with drum

Image source: The Conversation.

Australia slammed for age of criminal responsibility 

Australia was slammed over its treatment and acknowledgment of First Nations people at the United Nations last week. More than 30 nations – including Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Poland and Mexico – called on Australia to raise the age of criminal responsibility from 10 to 14, in line with the recommendations from the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child.

Nolan Hunter, Amnesty International Australia Indigenous Rights Lead, told NITV News that policies around Australia’s age of criminal responsibility were “outdated” and a “legacy of Colonialism”. “What’s more worrying is to allow it to continue and the acceptance of this where kids as young as 10 years old are being thrown in jail,” he said. “The culture of the community in Australia and more so the government is the attitude that there isn’t a problem or to recognise this as a serious issue.”

To view the article in full click here.

black & white spray paint image of Aboriginal child on brick wall with white bars across image representing imprisonment

Photo by Chris Devers. Image source: New Matilda website.

Mobilising a COVID-19 vaccine workforce

The Australian Government is preparing for the COVID-19 vaccine rollout by securing an additional vaccine workforce and working to deliver essential training to everyone who will administer the vaccinations. “Australia’s vaccine roll out will be carried out through hospitals, general practices, state and Commonwealth vaccination clinics, Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations and pharmacies. This additional vaccination workforce will help support and supplement existing services and assist in outreach in areas such as aged care and remote and Indigenous communities working with existing providers. Through the Australian Government’s plan, a panel of four providers have been appointed, who will be called upon to provide a vaccine workforce to supplement the existing immunisation workforce for specific populations. The providers are Aspen Medical, Healthcare Australia, International SOS, and Sonic Clinical Services.”

To view the media release in full click here, and to read a related article in the Western Advocate click here.

gloved hand placing cotton wool bud on person's upper arm

Image source: startsat60. website.

Biggest mass vaccination program begins

vaccine Coronavirus production line

Image source: European Pharmaceutical Review website.

GPs united on vaccine rollout

Australian GPs stand united to work with the Government on rolling out COVID-19 vaccines across the community and the nation. The Australian Medical Association (AMA) and the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) have worked collaboratively with Health Minister Greg Hunt over the past weeks to ensure the vaccine rollout is delivered with patient safety as the first priority.

In a joint media release AMA President Dr Omar Khorshid and RACGP President Dr Karen Price said “This is an important moment for the Australian community. We have gone from no coronavirus vaccine a year ago to several vaccines, with the first expected to be rolled out next month. GPs are ready to help vaccinate and protect the community from COVID-19 as soon as vaccines are fully approved for use in Australia, and available for delivery. Vaccinations are also an important opportunity to discuss other health concerns with GPs. This is particularly important at a time when many people have deferred health care due to the pandemic.”

To view the joint AMA and RACGP media release click here.

vaccine lying on top of a mask on at bench

Image source: AMA website.

General practices sought for rollout

The Australian Government is seeking expressions of interest from all accredited general practices to take part in the planned delivery of the COVID-19 vaccine. “General practices will play a key role in the Australian Government’s rollout of COVID-19 vaccines, in what will be one of the greatest logistical exercises, public health or otherwise, in Australian history. Providing access to safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines for everyone in Australia is a key priority for our Government. General practices will help deliver the vaccine initially to priority groups, starting with people over 70, adults with underlying medical conditions and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in phase 1. Three more phases will follow until the whole country has been offered the vaccine.”

To view Minister Greg Hunt’s media release click here.

doctor's arm taking blood pressure of Aboriginal woman

Image source: Australian GP Alliance website.

Pandemic compounds hardship for PWD

Despite the refrain throughout the COVID-19 pandemic that ‘we are all in this together’, the Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability (PWD) last week revealed the many hardships encountered by PWD over the past six months. In his closing remarks, Chair Ronald Sackville AO QC said the hearings had shed a “piercing light” on the impact of the pandemic and associated stringent measures to contain it on PWD.

He said the pandemic had exacted a “terrible”, and largely hidden, toll on people with a disability. We have heard people with disability experiencing the sudden loss of essential support services, an absence of clear and consistent information in accessible form essential to their health and wellbeing; an inability to access health care, personal protective equipment and even the basic necessities of life such as food and medication; we’ve heard of isolation from the community, from friends and family and from social networks; exposure to a heightened risk of domestic violence; stress and anxiety associated with exposure to the virus; inadequate measures for the protection of people with disability, and uncertainty about how to survive in the face of disruptions to care and essential services, sometimes leading to worsening mental health.”

To read the Croakey article in full click here.

wheelchair image overlaid on Aboriginal dot painting

Image source: AbSec website.

Kelvin Kong’s pandemic reflections

In a Q&A, ear, nose and throat specialist Associate Professor Kelvin Kong, a Worimi man, based in Newcastle on the country of the Awabakal people, has reflected upon the upheaval and life-changing lessons of the past several months. “I am so thankful that we have not seen the devastation that we have seen in other First Nation populations across the world. COVID-19 is such a travesty to all of us. But it really highlights the inequities we have as health service providers. We are lucky geographically that we were able to shut down communities so quickly. The Aboriginal leadership across the nation needs far more praise in its ability to get the message across. Messages that communities could relate to and believe was, and continues to be, paramount in the response.”

To read a transcript of the interview click here.

image of Associate Professor Kelvin Kong smiling at the camera in scrubs in operating theatre with two health professionals in the background

Dr Kelvin Kong. Image source: University of Newcastle.

First Aboriginal dermatologist

Dana Slape is Australia’s first Aboriginal dermatologist. Her mission is mentoring students who may have never considered a career in medicine, as well as advocating for more Indigenous leadership throughout our healthcare system. “I think there has been a really longstanding narrative in Australia particularly in the healthcare space that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are just sick people, and people that are chronically unwell, that are chronically suffering, but the truth of it is that what we have is a system of unconscious and conscious bias that impacts how people are provided care and how they are able to access all of the things that keep us, as a community, well as individuals but also collectively. So when you have people like me and all of the other people that end up working in senior leadership, in hospitals, in clinics, in places where we access healthcare, it starts to tell a different story. You’re deconstructing those unconscious biases around people being always the patient, and never the care provider.”

“My hope is that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander specialist numbers increase, because the greater leadership we have that are Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people at all layers of the health system and tertiary education system, means that we are opening up doors for people so that those people can go on and be the leaders of the future and provide care to the next generation and that’s extremely important, and I’m thrilled to be a part of that.”

To listen to the ABC interview with Dana Slape click here.

photo of Dana Slape against outback grassland setting

Dr Dana Slape. Image source: The Sydney Morning Herald.

Smoking kills half of those 45+

A study has found smoking kills one in two older Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults, and experts are calling for more funding to boost culturally appropriate smoking cessation services. The report from the Australian National University found smoking caused 37% of deaths at any age in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults, but that increased to about half of deaths in those aged over 45.

Dr Michelle Bovill, a Wiradjuri woman and an Aboriginal smoking health researcher at the University of Newcastle, found the results were “quite alarming”. “Aboriginal people do want to quit,” she said. “But then people still don’t really know what to do to quit, and we really don’t have enough funding being put into our Aboriginal community controlled health services to provide that support.”

To view the full article in The Sydney Morning Herald click here.

elderly Aboriginal man smoking

Image source: The Conversation.

Pharmacy students inform WRAP toolkit

Delivering effective healthcare requires healthcare professionals to reflect on their own cultural background and their patient’s cultural needs. Culture is a determinant of health and if not considered, negative health outcomes can result. This is of particular importance when working with Aboriginal communities and caring for Aboriginal people whose views have been excluded from healthcare models, funding, and policy. Non-indigenous healthcare professionals, such as pharmacy students, benefit from understanding Aboriginal peoples’ healthcare needs and models of holistic healthcare, as well as reflecting on their own cultures, assumptions, and experiences on placement.

A research article, Pharmacy students’ learnings and reflections to inform the development of the ‘Working Respectfully with Aboriginal Peoples’ (WRAP) Toolkit  explores students’ views to inform the development of a Toolkit to support students’ learning prior to engaging in placements in Aboriginal communities. The study involved collaboration with students, Aboriginal community members, educators experienced in Indigenous health and allied health education.

For further details about the research article click here.

Dr Rallah-Baker checking elderly Aboriginal woman's eyes with torch

Dr Rallah-Baker has called for cultural competency to become standard good practice before health workers are registered. Image source: Michael Amendolia (Fred Hollows Foundation).

SNAICC appoints new CEO

SNAICC – National Voice for Our Children, the national peak body for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, has announced that Catherine Liddle has been appointed to the position of Chief Executive Officer. Catherine will commence the role on 8 February 2021. An Arrernte/Luritja woman from Central Australia, she comes to SNAICC with a strong background in senior leadership positions with First Nations organisations. “It is with great pleasure that we welcome Catherine to SNAICC,” says Muriel Bamblett, SNAICC Chair. “With her previous leadership roles, combined with her experience on the Coalition of Peaks, Catherine will ensure that SNAICC can continue to strengthen our partnerships with state and federal governments to make sure our children are at the forefront of policies.”

To view SNAICC’s media release click here.

Katherine Liddle standing in front of a tree in bushland holding a twig with leaves, smiling

Catherine Liddle. Image source: radioinfo website.

feature tile text 'community based organisations are the way forward to overcome disadvantage'

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Community-based organisations are the way forward

feature tile text 'community based organisations are the way forward to overcome disadvantage'

Community-based organisations the way forward

The latest Overcoming Indigenous Disadvantage report shows support for self-determination and community-based organisations is the way forward to address the systemic barriers faced by First Peoples, Oxfam Australia says. The Productivity Commission’s eighth report, which examines progress against 52 indicators, identified some areas of progress, but systemic problems remain in the high rates of removal of children from their families, incarceration, poor mental health, and in rates of suicide and self-harm. “Oxfam has long advocated self-determination as a core element in addressing the challenges that First Peoples face. We welcome the report’s finding that shared decision-making and participation on the ground are common elements in successful outcomes,” said Ngarra Murray, National Manager of Oxfam’s First People’s program.

To view a short video about the report click here and to read the Overcoming Indigenous Disadvantage 2020 report click here.

To view Oxfam’s media release click here and to access the Productivity Commission’s media release click here.

front cover of the Overcoming Indigenous Disadvantage Key Indicators 2020 report

COVID-19 paves new ways for remote health

One positive from COVID-19 disrupting face-to-face teaching is the opportunity it is giving health professions education (HPE) in regional, rural and remote communities, education experts from around Australia say. Health professionals and students are commonly required to drive long distances at a cost of time and money either to themselves and their families, or the health service which employs them.

However, this burden on regional, rural and remote (RRR)-based professionals and students will reduce if in-service, tertiary and professionally accredited training providers can embrace defensibly effective and engaging teaching approaches to make lectures, tutorials, skill education, and practice development accessible from a distance,” says SA Riverland-based Dr Amy Seymour-Walsh, lecturer in Clinical Education Development at Flinders University.

To view the Flinders University media release in full click here.

Aboriginal health worker and Aboriginal mum with Aboriginal baby

Pika Wiya Health Service, SA. Image source: NIAA website.

Condoman creater reflects on career

ABC Radio’s James Valentine spoke with Professor Gracelyn Smallwood on World HIV-AIDS day and two weeks into her retirement. Professor Gracelyn Smallwood AM is a Birrigubba woman from Townsville where she became internationally acclaimed for her work in Indigenous health. After 45 years of midwifery and 50 years of being a registered nurse, Gracelyn reflects on her achievements such as the creation of Condoman, a superhero that was used to promote culturally appropriate sexual health messages to Indigenous communities in the 1980s.

To listen to the Afternoons with James Valentine interview with Professor Gracelyn Smallwood click here.

close up photo of face of Gracelyn Smallwood & the Condoman poster

Professor Gracelyn Smallwood and Condoman poster. Image source: Townsville Bulletin, Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences.

Meth use risk and protective factors

A recently published study Identifying risk and protective factors, including culture and identity, for methamphetamine use in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities: Relevance of the ‘communities that care’ model has highlighted that methamphetamine use is of deep concern in Aboriginal communities and a deep understanding of risk and protective factors is needed to prevent harm. While many risk and protective factors overlap with mainstream settings some do not and it is crucial for culturally informed prevention systems to include culturally relevant factors.

To view the details of the study click here.

silhouette of person smoking ice

Image source: SBS website.

 

Young voices challenge negative race perceptions

Following on from large-scale Black Lives Matter rallies in Australia earlier this year, The Healing Foundation has launched the third podcast in its new series on intergenerational trauma and healing. This latest episode explores how racism continues to impact Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples 250 years after colonisation. It features four young Indigenous people as they confront the negative perceptions, stereotypes and prejudice they have encountered growing up.

The Healing Foundation CEO Fiona Petersen said the latest Healing Our Way podcast highlights the importance of truth telling in breaking the cycle of intergenerational trauma and enabling healing for young people and the nation more broadly.

You can listen to this podcast by clicking here and view The Healing Foundation’s related media release here.

Healing Foundation Healing Our Way podcast logo - microphone drawing surrounded by purple, orange, blue & black Aboriginal dot painting

Image source: Healing Foundation website.

Health problems related to trauma

The Healing Foundation CEO Fiona Petersen, a proud Wuthathi descendant with family roots from the Torres Strait has given a speech to the Indigenous Allied Health Australian (IAHA) Conference. Ms Petersen said “Healing refers to the recovery from the psychological and physical impacts of trauma, which is largely the result of colonisation and past government policies including state and federal assimilation policies.  By healing trauma, we are tackling the source of social and health problems that are far more prevalent for our people, including family violence, substance abuse, incarceration and children in out-of-home care. These are the symptoms of trauma, not the nature of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Unfortunately, negative stereotypes like this still remain, but with your help we can improve understanding about the impacts of trauma that are still being felt today.”

To view the transcript of Fiona’s speech click here.

portrait of Healing Foundation CEO Fiona Petersen

Fiona Petersen, CEO Healing Foundation. Image source: The Healing Foundation website.

Maari Ma mixed results for young people

A new report looking at a number of health, educational, and social indicators for Indigenous children and young people in far-west NSW has shown improvements in some areas but a decline in others. Aboriginal health service Maari Ma released its latest Health, Development, and Wellbeing in Far Western NSW — Our Children and Youth report last week. It was compiled throughout 2019 with the cooperation of several agencies such as the state’s health and education departments, and follows previous reports on the indicators in 2014 and 2009. Maari Ma’s latest report shows that the rate of smoking in pregnancy for young Aboriginal people in the region is more than nine times higher than the rest of the NSW population.

To view the full report click here.

photo of 1 Aboriginal man, 3 Aboriginal women & 4 Aboriginal children walking along river

Image source: ABC News website.

Pioneer Indigenous doctor wins top WA gong

She currently serves as commissioner with the National Mental Health Commission and lectures in psychiatry at the University of WA. A pioneer in Aboriginal and child mental health research, Professor Milroy was also appointed in 2018 as the AFL’s first Indigenous commissioner. “It’s been a privilege as a doctor and as a child psychiatrist to go on those journeys with so many people in their lives,” she said in a UWA profile last month. I think I have a natural inclination to wanting to find out more, to find out what makes people tick and to actually help them get back on track, particularly kids.”

To view the full article published in The Standard click here.

portrait photo of Professor Helen Milroy

Professor Helen Milroy. Image source: The Standard.

Locals unmoved by Dan Murphy’s new site

NRHA Board reflects diverse health skills

The diversity of health professionals working across the rural sector is reflected in the new Board of the National Rural Health Alliance (the Alliance), elected at the 29th Annual General Meeting (AGM) in Canberra this week. The Alliance of 44 national rural and health-related organisations advocates for sustainable
and affordable health services for the 7 million people in rural and remote Australia. There membership includes representation from the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health sector, health professional organisations, health service providers, health educators and students, as well as consumer groups.

At the AGM on Monday 30 November 2020, the representative for Allied Health Professions Australia, Nicole O’Reilly, was elected Chair. A former occupational therapy clinician and health manager from the NT, Ms O’Reilly has comprehensive skills and knowledge, and strong relationships across the allied health sector.

To view the Alliance’s media release about the new board click here.

National Rural Health Alliance logo circle of 8 leaves and dots & portrait shot of NRHA new Chair Nicole O'Reilly

Nicole O’Reilly. Image source: NRHA website.

Palliative care at home project seeks input

Although comprehensive data on rates of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people accessing palliative care services are not available in Australia, clinically it has been observed that these Australians are underrepresented in the palliative care patient population. In addition, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are more likely to be admitted for palliative care-related hospitalisations, with the rate of admissions in public hospitals approximately double that for other Australians.  These statistics are noteworthy given that many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people report feeling culturally unsafe in hospitals and some (especially in remote communities) express a preference for dying ‘on country’. 

The Australian Government Department of Health (DoH) is funding a new project entitled caring@home for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Families.  The initial phase of this project is to consult with relevant stakeholders across the country to get feedback on how the existing caring@home resources for carers need to be tailored to meet the needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families. DoH is currently designing the consultation with the aim of undertaking consultation in 2021.

As a first step in this process DoH would like to connect with relevant individuals/Departments at the state government/local health networks level and with peak Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations to ensure that everyone knows about this project. DoH has Steering and Advisory Committees for the project but would appreciate any advice/feedback about the project, especially any local consultation/processes they should undertake, that will help to promote use of the new resources.

A factsheet describing the project can be accessed here and you are invited to have input into the proposed 2021 consultation process by contacting Karen Cooper by phone 0428 422 818 or email karen.cooper3@health.qld.gov.au.

Aboriginal woman holding a cuppa and caring at home logo

Image source: Brisbane South Palliative Care Collaborative website.

CRE-STRIDE scholarships available

The Centre for Research Excellence – Strengthening Systems for Indigenous Health Care Equity (CRE-STRIDE) vision is equitable health care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities through quality improvement (QI) and collaborative research to strength primary health care systems. CRE-STRIDE involves leading researchers from across Australia with expertise in health systems and QI research, participatory action research, Indigenous methodologies, epidemiology, public health, health and social policy. The CRE Investigator team, and higher degree research (HDR) supervisors have outstanding national and international reputations and track records.

CRE-STRIDE is offering scholarships to support honours, Masters of Research and PhD candidates. 

For more information about the scholarships and details of how to submit an Expression of Interest click here.CRE-STRIDE banner

NT – Alice Springs – Children’s Ground

FT Health Promotion Coordinator – 6 months fixed term contract (extension subject to funding)

The Health Promotion Coordinator will work within a multi-disciplinary team that delivers the Children’s Ground Family Health and Wellbeing Framework – Health in the Hands of the People (HIHP) to improve the health and wellbeing outcomes for the community. This will include the recognition and support of local cultural knowledge systems and practices, and the agency of consumers. This position will coordinate the work of the Health and Wellbeing team. It will also be responsible for leading the development and implementation of family health plans with individuals and families and creating and delivering responses to population health needs with the local community

Children’s Ground is working to create an environment where families realise their aspirations for the next generation of children to be free from trauma and suffering, enjoy equity and safety, be able to grow into adulthood happy and healthy, and have agency over their social, cultural, political and economic life.

To view the position description click here and to apply click here.

Applications close 9.00 am NT time (10.30 am AEST) Monday 7 December 2020.children's ground banner - 7 Aboriginal children running towards camera on country

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: ‘Game changer’ e-prescriptions are coming

feature tile - Aboriginal hands in pharmacy clicking iPad

‘Game-changer’ e-prescriptions are coming

Electronic prescriptions (or e-prescriptions) are being rolled out in stages across Australia after being used in Victoria during the pandemic. E-prescriptions have been common in countries such as the United States and Sweden for more than ten years. In Australia, a fully electronic paperless system has been planned for some time. Since the arrival of COVID-19, and a surge in the uptake of telehealth, the advantages of e-prescriptions have become compelling. To read more about what e-prescriptions are, how they work, their benefits and what they mean for paper prescriptions click here.

feature tile - Aboriginal hands in pharmacy clicking iPad

Image source: Australian Pharmacist.

Electronic prescription roll out expanded

The big news in digital health in recent weeks has been the expansion of Australia’s roll out of electronic prescriptions to metropolitan Sydney, following the fast-track implementation in metropolitan Melbourne and then the rest of Victoria as a weapon in that state’s battle against the COVID-19 pandemic. There was also some rare movement in the secure messaging arena, with a number of clinical information system vendors and secure messaging services having successfully completed the implementation of new interoperability standards that will hopefully allow clinicians and healthcare organisations to more easily exchange clinical information electronically. The road to secure messaging interoperability has been a tortuous one to say the least, but movement does seem to be occurring. At least 19 separate systems have successfully fulfilled the Australian Digital Health Agency’s requirements, with the vendors now getting ready to release the capability in their next versions. It is expected these will start to roll out over the next few months.

To view the full PULSE+IT article click here.

image of hand with phone held to scanning machine

Image source: PULSE+IT website.

Lack of physical activity requires national strategy

A new report finding Australians are not spending enough time being physically active highlights the need for action on a national, long-term preventive health strategy, according to AMA President, Dr Omar Khorshid. The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) report found that the majority of Australians of all ages are not meeting the minimum levels of physical activity required for health benefits, and are exceeding recommended limits on sedentary behaviour.

The AMA is working with the Federal Government on its proposed long-term national preventive health strategy, which was first announced by Health Minister Greg Hunt in a video message to the 2019 AMA National Conference almost 18 months ago. Dr Khorshis said “As a nation, we spend woefully too little on preventive health – only about 2 per cent of the overall health budget. A properly resourced preventive health strategy, including national public education campaigns on issues such as smoking and obesity, is vital to helping Australians improve their lifestyles and quality of life.”

To view the AMA’s media release regarding the physical activity report click here.

image of arms of Aboriginal person in running gear bending to tie shoelaces along bush trail

Image source: The Conversation.

KAMS CEO appointed to WA FHRI Fund Advisory Council

The McGowan Government has today announced the make-up of the Advisory Council of WA’s Future Health Research and Innovation (FHRI) Fund. The FHRI Fund was the centerpiece of the State Government’s commitment to drive research and innovation in WA by providing the State’s health and medical researchers and innovators with a secure and ongoing source of funding. Vicki O’Donnell, CEO, Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Service Ltd (KAMS), is one of seven eminent Western Australians appointed to the Advisory Council to provide high-level advice to the Health Minister and the Department of Health.

To view the Government of Western Australia’s media release click here.

portrait photo of Vicki O'Donnell, KAMS CEO in office

Vicki O’Donnell, CEO KAMS. Image source: ABC News.

PLUM and HATS help save kids hearing

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families are being encouraged to use an Australian Government toolkit to ensure young children are meeting their milestones for hearing and speaking. The rates of hearing loss and ear disease for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children are significantly higher than for the non-Indigenous population. Between 2018–19 and 2022–23, almost $104.6 million will be provided for ear health initiatives to reduce the number of Indigenous Australians suffering avoidable hearing loss, and give Indigenous children a better start to education.

The Parent-evaluated Listening and Understanding Measure (PLUM) and the Hearing and Talking Scale (HATS) have been developed by Hearing Australia in collaboration with Aboriginal health and early education services. As part of a $21.2 million package of funding over five years from 2020–21 to advance hearing health in Australia, the 2020–21 Budget includes an additional $5 million to support early identification of hearing and speech difficulties for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, and embed the use of PLUM and HATS Australia-wide.

To view the Department of Health’s media release click here.

young Aboriginal child having his ear checked by health professional

Image source: The Wire website.

Illawarra Aboriginal Corporation receives research grant

The University of Wollongong (UOW) had announced the recipients of the Community Engagement Grants Scheme (CEGS). CEGS is uniquely focused on addressing the challenges faced by communities and taking action to create real and measurable outcomes. The CEGS projects are dedicated to serving communities on a range of issues that matter in the real world. Some areas of focus are health and wellbeing, disability and social services, culture and multiculturalism, Indigenous and local history and communities.

This year, the University awarded grants to three innovative community partners and UOW academics to support their research and outreach projects. Among the recipients is the Illawarra Aboriginal Corporation and senior Aboriginal researcher and anthropologist, Professor Kathleen Clapham. Their project, titled ‘Amplifying the voices of Aboriginal women through culture and networking in an age of COVID19’ aims to address women’s isolation, restore networks, and nurture the exchange of Aboriginal knowledge and traditional practices.

To view the University of Wollongong’s media release click here.

portrait shot of Professor Kathleen Clapham University of Wollongong

Professor Kathleen Clapham, UOW. Image source: UOW website.

LGBQTISB suicide prevention

Indigenous LGBQTISB people deal with additional societal challenges, ones that can regularly intersect and contribute to the heightened development of depression, anxiety, alcohol and drug problems, and a heightened risk of suicide and suicidal behaviour. Dameyon Bonson, an Indigenous gay male from the NT and recognised as Indigenous suicide prevention subject matter expert, specifically in Indigenous LGBQTI+ suicide, will be presenting ‘An introduction to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander (Indigenous Australian) LGBQTISB suicide prevention’ from 11.00 am to 12.00 pm (ACST) on Tuesday 10 November 2020

For more information about the event and to register click here.image of Dameyon bonson and Indigenous LGBTIQSB Suicide Prevention - An Introduction course banner

Dead quiet to award winner in only two years

“The first year we were almost dead quiet … word of mouth and occupational health is what grew us, and now we’ve been able to really branch into Indigenous health and Closing the Gap initiatives,” said Practice Manager Olivia Tassone. At just 22-years-old, Tassone is also a part-owner of the company, along with former footballed Des Headland and others. Being privately owned gives Spartan First a flexibility that other companies in the same space don’t have. “One of the benefits of being a being a private business is we don’t really have a lot of red tape to jump over. If we want to start making a change, then we can just do it,” Tassone said.

To view the full article click here.

Practice Manager Olivia Tassone standing in front of Spartan building

Spartan Practice Manager Olivia Tassone. Image source: National Indigenous Times website.

Tackling Indigenous Smoking with Prof Tom Calma

Tobacco smoking is the most preventable cause of ill health and early death among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. It is responsible for 23 per cent of the gap in health burden between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and other Australians.

The Tackling Indigenous Smoking (TIS) program aims to improve life expectancy among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples by reducing tobacco use.

Professor Tom Calma, National Coordinator, leads the TIS program which has been running since 2010.  Under the program local organisations design and run activities that focus on reducing smoking rates, and supports people to never start smoking. Activities are:

  • evidence-based — so they are effective, and
  • measurable — so we can tell that they work.

Feature tile - Halls Creek 'Heart of Gold' town entry sign

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Halls Creek leaders recall day COVID-19 came to town

Feature tile - Halls Creek 'Heart of Gold' town entry sign

Halls Creek leaders recall day COVID-19 came to town

When coronavirus came to the small outback town of Halls Creek in WA it was “like a bomb went off”, according to Brenda Garstone, CEO of the Yura Yungi Aboriginal Medical Service. “We all had to run for cover,” she said. “We were scrambling. We didn’t know where to go, or what to do.” The WA Department of Health had warned that any community transmission in towns with remote communities would be devastating for the populations. When four healthcare workers at the local Halls Creek hospital returned positive tests, all at once, residents refused to attend the healthcare clinic for fear of picking up the virus, local shops emptied and Aboriginal men from the town’s night patrol went door to door, trying to communicate the seriousness of what was unfolding. While the outbreak was quickly contained, tensions in the small town have still not eased, with the community now fully aware of the threat COVID-19 poses.

To view the full article click here.

Halls Creek 'Heart of Gold' town entry sign

Image source: ABC News website.

Groundbreaking FASD diagnostic framework

Long wait times and centralised specialist doctors have left families in rural and remote areas waiting up to three years for a diagnosis of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD). But now a group of doctors, academics and Indigenous elders have come together in north-west Queensland to create a unique diagnostic tier system for the disorder. Local Indigenous leaders and Mount Isa rural doctor Marjad Page, a Kalkadoon, Waanyi and Ganggalidda man, wrote a dreamtime story to explain not only the disorder but the medical process to local Indigenous families. “The program is run from the Aboriginal medical service here in Mount Isa called Gidgee Healing, so it’s run out of a culturally appropriate medical service for the region,” Dr Page said.

To read the full article click here.

Gidgee Healing Dr Marjad Page portrait photo & Gidgee Healing logo

Dr Marjad Page. Image source: ABC News – ABC North West Queensland.

Six steps to stopping germs video launch

Australia is the only developed country still with high levels of trachoma and almost all cases occur in  remote Aboriginal communities. The Ending Trachoma project, which is run out of the Public Health Advocacy Institute of WA at Curtin University, aims to reduce the incidence of trachoma and skin infections in ‘trachoma at risk’ Aboriginal communities in remote WA through implementing environmental health strategies. They have developed a short video (see below) showing the importance of personal hygiene using ‘Milpa’s Six Steps to Stop Germs’ message. The video features women from the Nollamarra Football Team together with their children. It was developed by the Indigenous Eye Health at the University of Melbourne, with extensive input from Aboriginal community members and services in WA, SA and the NT. The message aims to encourage everyone, particularly kids, to stay healthy and strong and eliminate trachoma and other infectious diseases through following six steps.

For more information about the project click here.

COVID-19 offers unexpected opportunity to quit smoking

Smokers are worried. A respiratory disease is running rampant across the globe and people with unhealthy lifestyle habits appear to be especially vulnerable. Smokers hospitalised with COVID-19 are more likely to become severely unwell and die than non-smokers with the disease. At any point in time, most smokers want to quit. But COVID-19 provides the impetus to do it sooner rather than later. A recent study has found the proportion intending to quit within the next two weeks almost tripled from around 10% of smokers before COVID-19 to almost 30% in April. This heightened interest in quitting in the face of COVID-19 represents a unique opportunity for governments and health agencies to help smokers quit, and stay off smoking for good.

To view the full article in The Conversation click here.

two hands breaking cigarette in half

Image source: The Conversation.

Adolescent “never smoked” rate rises

Using data from the Australian Secondary School Students’ Alcohol and Drug Survey, a Prevention Centre PhD project led by Christina Heris found that the proportion Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adolescents who have never smoked rose from 49% in 2005 to 70% in 2017. Additionally, rates of low smoking intensity increased by 10% from 67% in 2005 to 77 % in 2017 meaning that, overall, the number of cigarettes smoked in a day has decreased amongst smokers in the 12–17 age group.

Prevention Centre investigator Professor Sandra Eades, a Noongar woman, who supervised Christina’s project said “It’s fantastic to see that tobacco control is working for all students, including driving down rates among Aboriginal young people. But we know that young Aboriginal people experience more of the risk factors for smoking such as stress, racism and disadvantage. There is a need for governments to address these broader determinants.”

To view the full article click here.

Aboriginal child holding & looking atan unlit cigarette

Image source: Deadly Vibe.

Original articles sought for inaugural HealthBulletin

The Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet is welcoming submissions from researchers, practitioners and health workers of original articles (not published elsewhere) for inclusion in their inaugural edition of the next generation of the Australian Indigenous HealthBulletin. They are seeking submissions that provide examples of research on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health, including policies, strategies and programs that have the potential to inform and support everyday practice.

For further information about how to submit papers click here.

Australian Indigenous HealthInforNet HealthBulletin Call for papers banner

Image source: Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet website.

National COVID-19 healthcare worker guidelines

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have a higher prevalence of respiratory conditions, many of which share symptoms with COVID-19. Healthcare workers examining a patient with respiratory symptoms are at risk of spreading infection between patients with the highest risk of transmission likely during throat and nose examination including when a swab is being collected.

Griffith University researchers have helped develop national guidelines to minimise healthcare workers’ risk of acquiring and spreading infection while examining Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients with respiratory symptoms. “These new guidelines aim to provide resources and support healthcare teams in prevention and management of COVID-19,’’ said Associate Professor Jing Sun from the School of Medicine who led the project.

For more information about the new national guidelines click here.

health professional in PPE removing swab from text tube

Image source: Flinders University website.

PPE innovation needed in remote health services

Clinicians, service providers and researchers have issued an urgent call for an Australian innovation in personal protective equipment (PPE) –  the ventilated hood – to be made available to remote health services, saying that without the hoods, the risk of coronavirus transmission within remote healthcare services and communities is grave.

To read the full article click here.

woman in hospitals bed under COVID-19 hood

Image source: Sydney Morning Herald.

JT Academy offers free employment advertising

Lendlease and JT Academy are encouraging all local employers to utilise the JT Academy FREE employment functions and resources. All you need to do is send the details of any job vacancies you have and let them help you find the best candidates – they will advertise your vacancy on their fully functioning job board for free!

This unique collaborative employment initiative, directed by Managing Director, Johnathan Thurston is fast becoming one the most ambitious employment initiatives Far North Queensland has ever seen. It harnesses the unique strengths of both Lendlease and JT Academy, who together are striving to provide direct job opportunities for local jobseekers.

For more information visit the JT Academy website here.

Jonathan Thurston in suit smiling, Job Board advertisement

Image source: Twitter #jtacademy.

Funding still required for rehab services

Weigelli Centre Aboriginal Corporation Inc Chairperson Ray Harris and CEO Daniel Jeffries have doubled down on the need for more funding to be made available for rehab services, saying revenue streams remained of concern with no additional recurrent funding available for rehab services. The Weigelli Centre and other services across the sector need additional funding to address the increasing need for drug and alcohol treatment services. The continuing challenges remain for services to provide support and assistance to Aboriginal individuals, families and their communities.

To read the full article in the Cowra Guardian click here.

Weigelli Centre Aboriginal Corporation metal sign

Image source: Aboriginal Health & Medical Research Council of NSW website.

CHF Big Ideas Competition

Do you have an idea which is going to change the way healthcare is delivered?

What about an idea which will transform how the health system works?

Consumers Health Forum (CHF) of Australia is invites you to send in videos of your ideas for innovation in health, to be part of the Big Ideas Forum at their Australian and NZ Shifting Gears Summit in March 2021. Your big idea could be something totally new, or it might be an example of something that has worked well in your community that could be expanded or tried in other places. You may like to base your idea on one or more of the key shifts highlighted in CHF’s 2018 White Paper Shifting Gears: Consumers Transforming Health. To view the White Paper click here.

For more information about the CHF Big Ideas Competition click here and for details about the CHF Summit 2021 click here.

4 people, each holding speech bubbles: Big Idea, Brain Storm, Think Different, Be Creative

Image source: Consumers Health Forum of Australia website.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Sector has got pandemic ‘by the horns’

Dr Mark Wenitong standing new tropical foliage in Apunipima Cape York Health Council shirt

Our Sector has got the pandemic ‘by the horns’

Enlisting local initiatives, networks and the lessons of the past, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health services were quick off the mark when coronavirus came. Their success to date is a powerful testimony to the importance of Indigenous leadership in narrowing the health gap, experts say.

“We have the basic infrastructure, and probably one of the best primary healthcare models in the world, some of the best public health experts in the world,” says Dr Mark Wenitong, a longtime health officer on Cape York. “The ‘vulnerability’ of our remote communities is much more related to longstanding under-investment in health infrastructure than our people as individuals. Don’t discount us as major players in the Australian health system.”

To view the full article in The Citizen click here.

external image of the Victorian Aboriignal Health Service in Fitzroy

The Victorian Aboriginal Health Service in Fitzroy. Image source: The Citizen.

Durri ACMS rebuild getting back on track

The $5.6 million rebuild of the Durri Aboriginal Corporation Medical Service (ACMS) in Kempsey is getting back on track after progress was delayed by nine months due to staffing issues. The work is expected to start in February 2021 with a temporary medical centre to be set up at Kempsey District Hospital. The rebuild will feature modern facilities focused on key Indigenous health needs, including neonatal, chronic illness and mental health care.

To view the ABC News article relating to the rebuild click here.

DRA Architects sketch of new Durri medical centre

Image source: ABC News.

$25 million for safe use of medicines

The federal government has announced a $25 million investment in a Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) for research to improve the safe use of medicines and medicines intervention by pharmacists.

“The new Quality, Safety and Effectiveness of Medicine Use and Medicine Intervention by Pharmacists MRFF Grant Opportunity will support the Quality Use of Medicine and Medicine Safety National Health Priority, and is part of the Government’s significant ongoing investments aimed at improving access to medicines and the safe use of medicines in the community. On World Pharmacists Day, our Government acknowledges the outstanding work of Australia’s pharmacists and pharmacy staff in communities across the nation.”

To read the Minister for Health, Greg Hunt’s media release click here.

range of different coloured pills and tablets

Image source: The Guardian.

TGA rules prescription required for e-cigarettes

Young Australians will be protected by the interim decision of the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) to ensure that e-cigarettes and vaping fluids containing nicotine are only available on prescription, Australian Medical Association (AMA) President, Dr Omar Khorshid, said today. “The TGA has recognised the significant risks that come with using e-cigarettes, and the lack of evidence for their role as a quit smoking aid,” Dr Khorshid said.

To view the AMA media release click here

person vaping

Image source: Curtin University news and events.

Funding to protect Victorian mental health and AOD services

The Victorian Government has announced an additional $21 million in funding to ensure mental health and alcohol and other drugs services, including Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations have increased COVID-19 safe protections in place.

To view the media release click here.

industrial site person sitting head on knees with beer bottle by side

Image source: Alcohol Rehab Guide.

Funding for Victorian Aboriginal Family Violence sector

The Victorian Government is boosting Aboriginal-led family violence prevention and responses so that more Aboriginal Victorians can access culturally sensitive support when and where they need it. $18.2 million will be made available to Aboriginal organisations and community groups through the Dhelk Dja Family Violence Fund to provide culturally appropriate responses for both victim survivors and those using or at risk of using violence in the home, including emergency support, family counselling and behaviour change support. Organisations and community groups will be granted funding over two years, giving them more certainty in planning how they deliver family violence services that are tailored to the needs of their communities.

To view the media release click here.

person holding palm to camera with word ENOUGH written on palm of hand

Image source: NITV website.

Extra $13 million for community nursing

The Commonwealth government has allocated an additional $13 million for community nursing to provide remote health professional accessibility to instruction, services and mental health care. An additional $8 million will be supplied to assist employment opportunities for nurses in primary healthcare.

For more information on the $13 million funding click here.

Inala Indigenous Health Service staff attending to patient

Image source: Queensland Health.

ACCHO gambling research webinar

Mallee District Aboriginal Services and Gippsland and East Gippsland Aboriginal Services, in collaboration with La Trobe University have conducted two exploratory studies on gambling. 50 Aboriginal people in regional Victoria were interviewed to identify benefits and harms associated with gambling and what community members thought should be done in response. Using social practice theory, findings of the research will be presented and some of the interventions recommended by research participants will be outlined in a free webinar to be presented by Darlene Thomas, Mallee District Aboriginal Services and Sarah MacLean, La Trobe University on Wednesday 20 September from 12.30–1.30 pm.

To register for the webinar click here.Aboriginal woman with hand across shoulder of Aboriginal woman looking sad

National youth survey report released

Mission Australia has released its National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Youth Report: Youth Survey 2019. This report draws on the findings of its Youth Survey 2019 and highlights the views, concerns, experiences and aspirations of 25,126 young people, 1,578 of whom identified as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander. In response to the findings, the report also provides a range of recommendations.

For more information, please read the media release, report and infographic.

Aboriginal man & Aboriginal child looking at laptop

Image source: Mission Australia website.

QLD – Cairns – Wuchopperen Health Service Ltd

FT Deputy Chief Executive Officer 

An exciting opportunity is available for the position of Deputy Chief Executive Officer in an Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Service based in Cairns.

This full-time, permanent position is responsible for the strategic leadership, direction, management and coordination of the portfolio of Deputy Chief Executive Officer, including the areas of Health Services and Service Integration.

To view the position statement click here.  Applications close 5.00 pm Monday 5 October 2020.

VIC – Shepparton – Rumbalara Aboriginal Co-operative Ltd.

FT Woongi Social and Emotional Wellbeing Program Manager x 1

The Woongi SEWB Program Manager is responsible for managing and delivering on the key objectives of the Woongi service.

The successful applicant will provide leadership and utilise effective work practices that enhance the operation, planning and delivery of culturally appropriate, community based, Alcohol & Other Drugs (AOD) and Social and Emotional Wellbeing (SEWB), Bringing Them Home Re-connections and Traditional Healing Services including early intervention and prevention.

FT Woongi Social and Emotional Wellbeing Group Programs Coordinator x 1

The SEWB Group Programs Coordinator is responsible for coordinating the delivery of a structured program of evidence informed SEWB groups (cultural, healing, recovery and rehabilitation) for clients, families and the broader community, impacted by AOD misuse and/or mental health.

To view the position descriptions for the above vacancies click here. Applications close at 4.00 pm on Friday, 9 October 2020.external view of Rumbalara logo emu against a clinic & Rumbalara logo - emu against curve of black, yellow & red curves

National Centre for Clinical Research on Emerging Drugs (NCCRED) virtual symposium

Innovations in therapeutic practice for methamphetamine use disorder

The 2020 symposium will focus on innovations in therapeutic practice for methamphetamine disorder. The symposium brings together leading national researchers, including presentations from recipients of NCCRED’s Round 2 Seed Funding Program. Recipients will share the most up-to-date aspects of their work and research around methamphetamine and emerging drug use.

11am Friday 20 November 2020

For more details regarding the symposium click here.

crystal methamphetamine

Image source: National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre.

medical professional with PPE - head covering, mask & rubber gloves

NACCHO Aboriginal News Alert: Healthcare worker PPE too little too late

Healthcare worker PPE too little too late

The AMA has demanded revised guidelines on personal protective equipment (PPE) for healthcare workers, following revelations that more than 2,500 Victorian healthcare workers have contracted COVID-19. More than two-thirds of the second wave infections of healthcare workers in Victoria have been confirmed to have happened in the workplace.

To view the AMA’s media release click here.

Updated RACS Indigenous Health position paper

The Royal Australasian College of Surgeons’ (RACS) has released an updated Indigenous Health position paper outlining its commitment to addressing health inequities of Indigenous communities in Australia and NZ.

To review the position paper click here.

two medical staff in scrubs in theatre

Image source: Newcastle Herald.

Framework to guide health professional practice

Working effectively with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people is important in maximising the effectiveness of health care interaction between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients and health professionals. BioMed Central (BMC) Health Services Research has published a paper outlining a framework to guide health professional practice in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health.

To view the research article click here.

Image of ophthalmologist with Aboriginal patient lying on medical bed under eye equipment

Image source: Fred Hollows Foundation website.

Self-harm spike across Kimberley

Researchers and medical services in the Kimberley say they are “concerned but not surprised” at the findings of a new University of WA report A profile of suicide and self-harm in the Kimberley, outlining the still disproportionately high suicide and self-harm rates in the region compared to the rest of WA and Australia. The report recommends a thorough redesign of health services in the Kimberley and the need to ensure adequate resourcing to ensure better care is provided.

To view the full ABC News article click here.

image of multiple white crosses marking graves in red dusty country

Image source: ABC News.

Indigenous LGBQTI+SB suicide prevention introduction

Indigenous LGBQTI+SB people deal with additional societal challenges, ones that can regularly intersect, contributing to the heightened development of depression, anxiety, alcohol and drug problems, and risk of suicide and suicidal behaviour. To coincide with World Suicide Prevention Day activities globally on Thursday 10 September 2020, Dameyon Bonson, an Indigenous gay male, recognised as an Indigenous suicide prevention subject matter expert, specifically in Indigenous LGBQTI+SB suicide, will be presenting an on-line introduction to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander LGBQTI+SB suicide prevention.

To register for this event click here.Dameyon Bonson banner for on-line Indigenous LGBTIQ+SB suicide prevention course & photo of Dameyon Bonson

SNAICC COVID-19 resources for children

The Secretariat of National Aboriginal and Islander Child Care (SNAICC) has developed a number of resources to help Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people develop a better understanding of COVID-19 and help children, carers and families get through this difficult time.

For details of the SNAICC COVID-19 resources click here.

young Aboriginal boy

Image source: Health Times.

2020 smoking in pregnancy roudtable summary

An alarming 46% of Indigenous women smoke during pregnancy, 3.6 times the non-Indigenous rate. Serious effects from smoking in pregnancy include obstetric and per-natal complications, heart disease, obesity, diabetes, and behavioural and learning problems in children. Maternal tobacco smoking is the most important preventable risk factor for chronic lung disease in offspring. Babies born to smokers are twice as likely to have low birth weight compared to those born to non-smoking mothers, but if the mother quits smoking early in pregnancy the low birth weight risk decreases to non-smoking levels.

The Australian Government Department of Health convened a Smoking and Pregnancy Roundtable discussion in February 2020, chaired by Professor Tom Calma AO. The summary report of the roundtable presentations and discussions, including videos of the presentations, can be found here.

belly of pregnant Aboriginal women breaking a cigarette in half

Image source: Coffs Coast Advocate.

Canberra – ACT

ACT Ministerial Advisory Council on Women – Council Member

The ACT Ministerial Advisory Council on Women (MACW) has opened up nominations for the next MACW term, 2021–22.

Members of the Council meet bi-monthly and raise and debate issues which matter most to women and girls in Canberra, as well as advocate for the advancement of women and the opportunities available to them, with the Council then providing strategic advice to the ACT Government as an independent voice.

The ACT MACW are hoping for a diverse range of women to be on the Council and would welcome applications from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women.

For further information click here.

silhouette of 10 women holding hands at sunset

Image source: ANU website.

National Stroke Week – 31 August – 6 September 2020

National Stroke Week Become a F.A.S.T. Hero poster - image of man standing against a wooden fence, hand on hip, looking skywards like a hero

Image source: Stroke Foundation website.

World Suicide Prevention Day Thursday 10 September 2020World Suicide Prevention Day & orange & yellow ribbon cross over point hands

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Additional $33 Million for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander primary health care

Additional $33 million for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander primary health care

The Hon. Greg Hunt MP
Minister for Health

The Hon. Ken Wyatt MP
Minister for Indigenous Australians

The Hon. Warren Entsch MP
Federal Member for Leichhardt

The Morrison Government will provide an additional $33 million to strengthen primary health services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

The funding, to be provided over three years, will help to ensure that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people can access culturally appropriate primary health care, when and where they need it.

Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services (ACCHSs) and other eligible providers will be able to apply for grants, to improve health outcomes in the communities who need it most.

As well as delivering better, more effective health care, the grants will empower Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and communities to better manage their own health.

Federal Leichhardt MP Warren Entsch said the Morrison Government is providing this funding to ensure a further step towards closing the gap on health, especially by reducing preventable disease and hospitalisation.

Key stakeholders, including the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation and the Australian Medical Association, were closely involved in developing the revised funding model.

To read the full media release click here.

Significant drop in incarceration rates possible

Incarceration rates can be reduced significantly and quickly if backed by government, and this can be achieved without compromising community health.

Higher targets to reduce the over-representation of First Nations People in Australia’s criminal justice system could be achieved more quickly and safely based on new data, the New South Wales Bar Association said today.

To read the media release click here.

Johnathan Thurston launches Cairns youth program

The JTConnect program, sponsored by the Deadly Choices Indigenous health campain, is being launched by the Johnathan Thurston Academy today. The program is aimed at improving young people’s confidence, courage and self-belief and inspiring Australia’s next generation to pursue the employment and career options which spark their interest. The program will be offered free to schools and open to students aged 15 years and over.

To read more about the JTConnect program click here.

Photo of Johnathan Thurston & JTConnect resource materials.

Image source: Johnathan Thurston Academy website.

 

NSW – Newcastle

FT Project Manager x 1

The University of Newcastle has a vacancy for a Project Manager to guide the development of a campaign to increase smoking cessation rates among expectant Indigenous mothers.

For further information about this position click here.

Photo Pregnant Aboriginal Woman smoking, University of Newcastle Logo & University of Newcastle exterior

Image sources: Medical Xpress, Lyons Architecture.