NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Struggle to see way forward on recognition

Struggle to see way forward on recognition

Labor faces fresh challenges as it works towards a referendum on the Indigenous voice to parliament, with Aboriginal leader Pat Turner revealing she is “struggling” to see a way forward on constitutional recognition and Greens Senator Lidia Thorpe saying the nation is not ready for the vote. Ms Turner, who worked with former PM Scott Morrison to redesign the national agreement on Closing the Gap, says Australians will not vote for the Indigenous voice unless they have details.

The Coalition of Peaks chairwoman also told the Australian-Israeli Chamber of Commerce on Friday that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people had unanswered questions. “This is a deeply personal view. I am struggling to see the best way forward on constitutional recognition and responding to the Uluru Statement,” Ms Turner said. “I accept the totality of the Uluru Statement and I am very supportive of a national voice to the parliament, but I need to start to see some detail here. I want some meat on the bones.
“And the proponents of the voice have got to start putting that out because I am not the only – Aboriginal person that is wondering what this is going to look like.”

Ms Turner was a member of the senior advisory group tasked with working on the design of an Indigenous voice for the Morrison government. The group’s work, overseen by prominent Indigenous academics Marcia Langton and Tom Calma, produced a detailed report recommending options for local and regional voices as well as a national voice representing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people from across Australia.

To view The Australian article I’m struggling to see way forward on recognition, Pat Turner says click here.

Pat Turner. Image source: THe Sydney Morning Herald.

Rhythm appointed for new NDIS campaign

Following a competitive national pitch process, Rhythm has been appointed by the NACCHO to design, develop and produce a National NDIS communications campaign. The campaign will target Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities across Australia with culturally secure messaging to improve awareness and uptake of NDIS services. This follows Rhythm’s recent relaunch of its production offering as Rhythm Films, alongside its expansion as a fully fledged creative agency.

Briannan Dean, General Manager of Rhythm, said it’s an exciting and much-needed project. “The NDIS has so much potential to impact and improve people’s quality of life, and to date there hasn’t been a targeted communications campaign that is appropriate for and inclusive of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander audiences. Rhythm is very excited to partner with NACCHO on a national level to drive awareness and better outcomes in this space.”

To view the Campaign Brief article NACCHO appoints Rhythm WA as agency and production partner for new NDIS campaign in full click here.

Rhythm WA team. Image source: Campaign Brief.

Pastors address COVID-19 vax misinformation

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Pastors have linked up to strike down COVID-19 misinformation. The religious leaders have united with health practitioners in our communities in the hope of countering conspiracies about COVID-19 vaccines. Research has told us there are multiple complex reasons for vaccine hesitancy in communities, ranging from misinformation about vaccine safety and efficacy, concerns about side effects and some people’s belief that vaccinating goes against their faith.

To help raise awareness around how COVID-19 vaccinations are the best way to protect your family and communities from COVID-19, NACCHO reached out to Pastors in select communities, who have lent their voices to advocate for the COVID-19 vaccine. Below are links to each of the Pastor videos that will be released through a nationwide campaign by NITV (YouTube link to each video):

  • Pastor Geoff Stokes – Kalgoorlie, WA: here
  • Pastor Willie Dumas – Tweed Heads, NSW: here
  • Pastor George Mann – Bourke, NSW: here
  • Pastor Ray Minniecon – Glebe, NSW: here
  • Uncle Col Watego – Glebe, NSW: here

Catchy iSISTERQUIT video clips launched

Southern Cross University’s iSISTAQUIT project has launched a compilation of catchy video clips in a campaign to raise awareness about the importance of culturally appropriate care in assisting young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander pregnant women to quit smoking. iSISTAQUIT is a blended model of community support and traditional treatment by GPs and other health professionals to help these women stop smoking.

“Through our research we found there are three main things we need to address to really make a difference to the numbers of Aboriginal women who smoke during pregnancy. These are clinician training, better access to oral forms of nicotine replacement therapy and specific health promotion messages to address the challenges Indigenous women face when quitting,” said Coffs Harbour campus-based SCU Professor Gillian Gould, lead investigator and GP.

“Our iSISTAQUIT social media campaign, designed in consultation with community women and with Aboriginal Health Professionals, has a bright, upbeat energy to focus on the positive outlooks and celebrate the successes of the women. It’s important that Aboriginal women feel comfortable with their health professionals to talk about quitting, and it’s vital that a health professional has the appropriate approach to start the chat with minimising barriers. It’s the chat that could save a life.”

To view the News Of The Area article SCU Launches Campaign For ISISTAQUIT Project in full click here.

SAWCAN governance award finalist

The South Australian West Coast ACCHO Network (SAWCAN) has been highly commended for outstanding examples of Aboriginal-led governance on a national level. On 8 June 2022 at the International Convention and Exhibition Centre Sydney, the Indigenous Governance Awards ceremony, hosted by Reconciliation Australia and the BHP Foundation, acknowledged and celebrated outstanding examples of governance in Indigenous led non-incorporated initiatives, projects, or within small to large businesses.

SAWCAN were one of nine Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander-led organisations / initiatives from around the nation who were shortlisted as finalists in the 2022 Indigenous Governance Awards. Whilst SAWCAN didn’t win, they were one of two initiatives who were given high commendations from the judging panel. Romlie Mokak, Indigenous Governance Awards judging panel member and Productivity Commissioner said “the fact that you have been able to, in such a short amount of time, change the way that governments themselves saw their program objectives and you were able to step into that space and not only speak to it but re-negotiate what that looked like for your mob, I think speaks volumes about the strength of your collaboration and the value that others see in it as well, including government.”

To view the SAWCAN media release SAWCAN Highly Commended in Category 1 of the 2022 Indigenous Governance Awards in full click here.

L to R: Karen Mundine, CEO Reconciliation Australia; Janine Mohamed, CEO Lowitja Institute; Donna Murray, CEO Indigenous Allied
Health Australia; Cindy Zbierski, CEO Nunyara Aboriginal Health Service; Zell Dodd, CEO Yadu Health Aboriginal Corporation; Warren
Clements, Public Health Manager Port Lincoln Aboriginal Health Service, Polly Paerata SAWCAN Secretariat, Leeroy Bilney COO Tullawon
Health Service and Romlie Mokak Commissioner with the Productivity Commission.

Flu adds pressure to stretched NT health system

A steep rise in influenza cases across the NTis exacerbating ongoing staff and bed shortages at hospitals, with hundreds hospitalised and patients being flown in from remote communities for treatment. Data from NT Health shows the territory has nearly doubled its recent flu records, with 3,210 cases recorded so far this year — up from 1,878 in 2019. More than 1,000 of those cases have been reported in the past month.

It’s a concerning trend that is dumping more pressure on the NT’s already strained health system, with some units so busy that patients have at times been left waiting in beds in corridors. That’s according to Dr Stephen Gourley, the NT chair of the Australasian College for Emergency Medicine (ACEM). “Unfortunately, you may end up in a bed in a corridor,” Dr Gourley said.  “When the hospital gets very full, we try our best to find people places to be and they’re not always in the most ideal places.”

To view the ABC News article Rising flu cases increasing pressure on chronically stretched NT health system in full click here.

Health workers at Royal Darwin Hospital work hard to keep up with demand. Photo: Che Chorley, ABC News.

Matilda’s goalkeeper supports health workers

Throughout June, Bridging the Gap Foundation (BtGF) has teamed up with Matilda’s goalkeeper, proud Noongar woman, and Canberra local Lydia Williams, aiming to assist the mounting Indigenous healthcare crisis in the NT. Ms Williams is raising funds for The Ramaciotti Regional and Remote Health Sciences Training Centre (Menzies-Ramaciotti Centre) following a severe and systemic shortage of healthcare workers, particularly Indigenous staff, placing the healthcare system under enormous pressure.

This is one of the driving factors for ongoing poor health outcomes and unacceptable health inequities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, says Bridging the Gap. The overcrowded, underfunded, and understaffed hospitals rely on fly-in, fly-out (FIFO) workers due to a lack of investment in career pathways for local people to enter the health workforce. The Foundation revealed the workforce turnover rate is estimated to be around 148%.

“I am proud to work alongside Bridging the Gap Foundation to raise funds for the Menzies-Ramaciotti Centre’s trainees,” says Ms Williams. “I understand the importance of culturally appropriate health programs and I am keen to promote education campaigns that highlight the importance of healthy lifestyles. This campaign kicks these goals for me.”

To view The Canberra Times article Canberra’s Lydia Williams kicks goals with Bridging the Gap Foundation in full click here.

Lydia Williams Arsenal WFC & Matilda’s goalkeeper. Image source: NiniTTi.

New process for job advertising

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Vital role of First Nations midwives

Image in feature tile is of a participant of a new, dedicated, midwifery service for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mums-to-be, established by Townsville Hospital and Health Service in partnership with Townsville Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Services (TAIHS). Image source: Townsville Bulletin.

Vital role of First Nations midwives

First Nations midwives play a vital role in improving health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and children, according to Pamela McCalman (midwife and PhD Candidate at La Trobe University), Professor Catherine Chamberlain (Professor of Indigenous Health Equity at The University of Melbourne) and Machellee Kosiak, who is affiliated with Rhodanthe Lipsett Indigenous Midwifery Charitable Fund.

Reporting on results from the Birthing in our Community study, they write that “in addition to western midwifery training, First Nations midwives draw on cultural and community knowledge systems” and “foster a sense of cultural safety and trust in maternity services for First Nations women”. While Australia is one of the safest places in the world to give birth, First Nations women are three times more likely to die in childbirth than other Australian women and First Nations infants are almost twice as likely to die in the first month of life, with preterm birth the biggest cause of mortality.

Ensuring First Nations children are born healthy and strong is the second Closing the Gap target – a critical foundation for “everyone enjoying long and healthy lives”. A much needed step to guarantee this is to increase First Nations health workers, particularly midwives and nurses. The article goes on to discuss the health impacts of colonisation, the vital role of First Nations nurses and midwives and the need to increasing their number.

To read the Croakey Health Media article First Nations midwives’ leadership and care are central for improving outcomes click here.

Midwife Mel Briggs, wearing “Sister Scrubs” to identify herself as Indigenous, Yuin woman Hayley Williams and baby Jaari. Photo: Janie Barrett. Image source: The Sydney Morning Herald.

AMA emergency pharmacy trial meeting

AMA President Dr Omar Khorshid has called an emergency virtual meeting tonight to discuss the North Queensland Scope of Practice Pilot. The North Queensland pharmacy trial, as it has been called, will allow pharmacists to prescribe and dispense autonomously. It will allow chemists in 37 local government areas to diagnose and treat 23 conditions, including type 2 diabetes, heart failure and asthma without consulting a GP.

The Queensland Government says a recent two-year Queensland urinary tract infection (UTI) pharmacy prescribing trial was a success, but the AMA strongly disagree, saying the trial lacked transparency. With no meaningful data available about the UTI trial, which was open to non-pregnant women aged 18 to 65, AMA Queensland surveyed 1,300 doctors and found approximately one in five treated patients for serious complications which were either missed or misdiagnosed by pharmacists in the trial. The complications ranged from antibiotic allergies to ectopic pregnancies to cervical cancer.

The AMA and AMA Queensland believe the trial places an unacceptable risk on patient health and safety and will exacerbate workforce shortages and hospital pressures; widen the health gap for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities; fragment healthcare and exacerbate emergency department ramping and hospital logjam; and is a major conflict of interest for pharmacists.

To view the AMA Queensland article AMA calls emergency Town Hall meeting click here. You can also view NACCHO’s Media Statement NACCHO and the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health sector oppose the proposed Queensland Community Pharmacy Trial on the NACCHO website here.

Image source: AMA News website.

The new addiction of vaping

Vaping is a multi-billion-dollar global industry that is rapidly growing in popularity amongst teenagers and young adults. Vaping was hailed as the new way to quit smoking but there are serious concerns the product is now causing nicotine addiction in teenagers. On Monday next week Four Corners investigates the explosion in vaping amongst teenagers and the booming black market which is thriving in Australia due to a failure to police the rules. Reporter Grace Tobin tracks down some of the suppliers who are illegally selling nicotine vapes either online or under the counter in stores.

To view the ABC Four Corners media release Vape Haze: The new addiction of vaping in full click here.

According to a Talking About the Smokes survey 21% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who smoke have tried vapes. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who had tried vaping were younger; living in non-remote areas or more advantaged areas; people who smoke daily and wanting to quit, having made a quit attempt/used NRT in the past year.

You can find more information on Tackling Indigenous Smoking webpage Facts about vaping (e-cigarettes) webpage here.

Image source: ABC News website.

Mental health surf program for youth

Biripi and Bundjalung siblings Amber Hamer and James Mercy are working to raise awareness about the importance of mental health through surfing. Surfing has been part of their lives from their earliest days in Coffs Harbour, NSW. “We went straight from the hospital when I was born ,Mum and Dad took me straight to the beach, because Dad was dying for a surf. I guess that started my lifelong affinity with the water,” Ms Hamer said.

Their late father Eric Mercy was a well-known surfer and beloved member of the local community who took his own life. Now, the brother and sister duo are continuing their father’s legacy by teaching youth about mental health and well-being on Gumbaynggirr Country. Five years ago they started hosting regular surfing camps to help young people learn about the healing beauty of the ocean. Their project is called Naru, the Gumbaynggirr word for water.

To view the SBS NITV article The surfing program teaching youth about culture and mental health click here.

Equity and emergency care

Equity and emergency care was the theme for day two of the 21st International Conference on Emergency Medicine on 17 June 2022. One of the speakers, Professor Greg Phillips, spoke about improving outcomes for First Nations people, how to address systemic racism and decolonise healthcare by blending Aboriginal and Western health paradigms with better representation and rewritten health curricula. He highlighted the importance of separating intent from affect, saying white fragility and recognition of privilege in healthcare is a pressing issue that involves a lot of listening and a lot of unlearning, especially for clinicians.

Ways to keep mums-to-be healthy

Dr Karen Best leads SAHMRI research in Adelaide, SA that targets optimal nutrition for women and kids. Dr Best, a Senior Fellow in the Women & Kids theme at the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI), designs and manages clinical trial research to understand the best nutrition for pregnant women.

Food eaten during pregnancy keeps the mother healthy and supports the growth and development of the baby. However, certain components of food – nutrients- are important for more subtle aspects of health. Karen’s recent research has focused on a type of fat called omega-3, which is found in oily fish, walnuts and other foods. “We found a dietary supplement of omega-3 in women who had low levels could reduce their risk of preterm birth,” Karen explains.

Preterm birth can result in developmental problems for babies and is often distressing for families. Required support and healthcare are costly. Even just a small improvement in that rate could translate into better outcomes for the children and families involved, and lowered expense for the healthcare system. SAHMRI’s Women & Kids theme is also researching optimal levels of iodine in pregnancy. Iodine is a naturally occurring mineral important for developing the brain and nervous system. “In this study, we’re looking at levels of iodine in pregnant women and how that is linked with developmental measures we assess once the baby reaches age two,” Karen explains.

To read The Lead article Discovering the best ways to keep mums-to-be healthy in full click here.

Photo: Emma by Jess Naera Creative. Image source: Australian Birth Stories.

Community First Development Fellow’s Oration

At Community First Development, ‘research success’ is research that is requested, led and delivered by First Nations’ people and communities. It is undertaken through deep listening and strives to achieve the outcomes that communities have set out to achieve. The First Nations Research and Evaluation Fellow is a pathway for First Nations’ academics to explore, design and deliver evaluation and research projects driven and led by First Nations’ people and communities.

Community First Development launched the inaugural Fellowship in 2020. As part of the Fellowship Murran/Iwaidja woman, Donna Stephens, our first Fellow, took a lead role in a participatory action research project with 11 communities across Australia. The final report has been published, and findings have been presented at numerous events. At this year’s oration Donna will speak on Participation and Community Development: Reflections on Change Organisations.

You can download an the invitation to the event here and register for the live webcast this Friday, 25 June 2022 by clicking here.

New process for job advertising

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: ‘Sorry’ is not enough – we need action

Flag image in feature tile is from AbSec NSW Tweet 26 May 2021 published in The Conversation article National Sorry Day is a day to commemorate those taken. But ‘sorry’ is not enough – we need action published today 26 May 2022.

‘Sorry’ is not enough – we need action

On the 25th anniversary of the Bringing Them Home report, chair of The Healing Foundation Board Professor Steve Larkin calls for aged care that is trauma-informed and enables healing for the Stolen Generations survivors. The Bringing Them Home report was result of a national inquiry that investigated the forced removal of First Nations children from their families and the first publicly documented account of the experiences of Stolen Generations survivors and the devastating effects of forced removals. In doing so, the report marked a pivotal moment in the healing journey of Stolen Generations survivors and their families.

25 years on, the report continues to guide the work of countless survivors, families, advocates, and organisations. However, implementation of many of the report’s numerous recommendations remain outstanding. Bringing Them Home was followed by other pivotal inquires calling for action in key areas for Stolen Generations survivors, including The Healing Foundation’s own Bringing Them Home: 20 years on and Make Healing Happen reports. Commemorative events, like National Sorry Day, are important reminders not only of what has been achieved to date, but also of what remains to be down. Without meaningful action, the commemoration of National Sorry Day falls short of its potential to be a catalyst for change.

To read the Croakey Health Media article Without action, Sorry Day falls short of its potential as a catalyst for change in full click here. You can access further information about National Sorry Day on the National Today website here and also read a SNAICC’s media release Hope for Our Children this National Sorry Day here.

Image source: Knox City Council, Wantirna, Melbourne (VIC) website.

Aunty Lindy Lawler on her path to healing

Some of Aunty Lindy Lawler’s earliest memories are scarred with fear and pain, including having her little four-year-old hand held over a gas flame as a regular punishment from her government-appointed carer. The 63-year-old Aboriginal elder, Yuin woman and survivor of the Stolen Generations suffered horrendous abuse for years after being removed from her family.

Aunty Lindy and her identical twin sister were born in David Berry Memorial Hospital at Berry on the NSW South Coast in December 1958. In May 1959, their parents were told to take the twins back to the hospital for a check-up and when they returned the girls were gone. “We had no idea we were removed from that place — we were five months old when this happened,” Aunty Lindy said. Over the next few years, the twins were taken to the Royal Alexandra Hospital for Children in Sydney, the Ashfield Infants’ Home, and a convalescent home before being sent to a home in Narrabeen on Sydney’s northern beaches in 1963.

Aunty Lindy attended the apology to the Stolen Generations, delivered by former PM Kevin Rudd, on 13 February 2008. She said it meant a great deal, but her twin had died the year before and never had the chance to hear the words. “But I will never forget it, and how many people went to it, and believed us and that was a really big healing,” she said. It has taken her years to speak about her pain and she said she received help on the journey from the Illawarra Aboriginal Medical Service. She’s now driven to help people understand what happened to those who were stolen.

To view the ABC News article Stolen Generations survivor Aunty Lindy Lawler speaks on her path to healing for National Sorry Day in full click here.

Aunty Lindy Lawler says official records held by the government of her removal fail to include any documentation of the abuse. Photo: Sarah Moss, ABC Illawarra.

First Nations nurse under-supply urgent

From a modest shopfront in Redfern half a century ago, there are now 144 ACCHOs in Australia and the sector is the third largest employer of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Aunty Pat Turner, A Gudanji-Arrente woman and NACCHO CEO said Indigenous peoples overwhelmingly preferred to access ACCHOs over mainstream health services because “their cultural safety is guaranteed”. “Our ACCHOs are more than just another health service. They put Aboriginal health in Aboriginal hands,” she told the Congress of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Nurses and Midwives (CATSINaM) Back to the Fire conference last year. “As the health system becomes more complex, the role of our services becomes even more critical. The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population is increasing rapidly and funding levels have not kept pace with demand.”

These funding shortfalls are widespread across the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander nursing and midwifery workforce, according to CATSINaM CEO Professor Roianne West. A report for CATSINaM by Dr Katrina Alford in 2015 predicted a national shortage of 100,000 nurses by 2020 and estimated that an additional 2,172 Indigenous nurses and midwives were required each year to reach population parity. “The Task is huge and required urgent action. The under-supply of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander nursing and midwifery workforce has been a persistent and long-term problem in Australia,” Professor West said.

To view the Croakey Health Media article Celebrating the many achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander nurses and midwives in Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations click here.

CATSINaM member Kamilaroi-Wiradjuri nurse and artist Kisani Upward painted this portrait of CATSINaM founder Dr Sally Goold – the first Aboriginal nurse at the first ACCHO in Redfern – for the 2022 Archibald Prize. Photo: Kisani Upward. Image source: Croakey Health Media.

Fighting inequitable healthcare access

In her address at the 2022 David Cooper Lecture, former PM Julia Gillard spoke of the need for the global community to enact policy that helps our most vulnerable, to ensure we emerge from the pandemic as a healthier and fairer society. The event, a conversation between Ms Gillard and ABC Science and Health reporter Tegan Taylor, was broadcast to an online audience and was co-presented by the UNSW Centre for Ideas, Kirby Institute and UNSW Medicine & Health.

“It was a privilege having Julia Gillard as the guest speaker for this year’s David Cooper Lecture. She is a truly motivational speaker and her conversation on how infectious diseases disproportionately affect the most disadvantaged in society and what that means for how we respond was fascinating. Her observations on how COVID-19 has helped reduce the stigma attached to mental health were particularly pertinent,” Professor Anthony Kelleher, Director of the Kirby Institute at UNSW Sydney, said.

You can watch a video of Julia Gillard presenting the David Cooper Lecture below and access the UNSW Sydney Newsroom article The importance of fighting inequality: Julia Gillard on lessons learnt from the pandemic in full here.

New advice on winter boosters

Australia’s Deputy Chief Medical Officer Professor Michael Kidd has issued an important Bulletin including information about:

  • the expanded ATAGI recommendations on winter COVID-19 booster doses
  • maintaining cold chain requirements when transferring vaccines off site
  • vaccine ordering

Links are provided below for the key documents:

  • Primary Care Vaccine Roll-out Provider Bulletin 25 May 2022 here 
  • ATAGI Advice for Additional groups recommended for a winter booster dose as of 24 May 2022 here
  • Question and Answer regarding ATAGI revised winter dose advice here

Image source: Disability Support Guide.

Low booster uptake concerns experts

Pathologists are sounding the alarm over the low uptake of coronavirus vaccine boosters as the national immunisation group suggests a fourth dose for some Australians. The Royal College of Pathologists of Australasia says third doses are particularly low in Queensland and NSW even as COVID-19 cases rise. “With winter commencing, it is important for everyone that they are fully up to date with all relevant vaccinations,” RCPA fellow Professor William Rawlinson said.

“The RCPA recently highlighted that it is very likely that we will experience far more influenza cases in Australia this winter. This, combined with the current, rising trend of COVID-19 cases is likely to put an extraordinary strain on the healthcare system.” WA has the highest uptake of third doses at about 80%, while Queensland is the lowest at 58%. Nationally, about two-thirds of eligible Australians have received a booster.

Yesterday, the Australian Technical Advisory Group (ATAGI) on Immunisation expanded eligibility for a second booster to people with health conditions or a disability. Previously, the fourth dose has only been available to people 65 and over, those in aged or disability care, the severely immunocompromised or Indigenous people aged over 50. Acting Health Minister Katy Gallagher urged eligible Australians to get their fourth shot.

To view the Jimboomba Times article Experts concerned over low booster uptake click here.

Image source: Jimboomba Times.

Our Country Our Story mental health program

Most youth mental health service staff are “dedicated people with a strong sense of social justice. They want to meet the needs of young Aboriginal people,” says Professor Michael Wright, Curtin School of Allied Health. “But they also know they don’t know how to do this. For historical reasons, Aboriginal youth distrust mainstream organisations. For this reason, they often don’t seek help early for mental health issues.”

“Our Journey Our Story aims to build the capacity of mental health service staff. We want them to be flexible, confident, and competent in responding to the cultural needs of Aboriginal young people.’ A Nyoongar man, Michael worked with Aboriginal Elders to develop the Debakarn Koorliny Wangkiny (Steady Walking and Talking) co-design framework (DKW). DKW disrupts by questioning service providers’ ‘typical ways of working,’ Michael says. Participants are asked to commit to being motivated, present and teachable, respecting status, staying connected, and continually weaving. Aboriginal Elders and youth and mental health staff usually have a deep self-realisation that change is possible!” Michael said. “Our experience is that the changes they experience are profound.”

To view The National Tribune article Our Journey Our Story in full click here. You can view Professor Wright talking about the Our Journey, Our Story Project in the video below.

HIV is just a part of me – Michelle

As part of their HIV is: Just a part of me campaign Gilead Sciences and the National Association of People with HIV Australia (NAPWHA) have created a series of videos showcasing the lived experience, resilience, joy and hope of six exceptional people living with HIV. In the third video Michelle Tobin, an Aboriginal woman of the Yorta Yorta Nation who is also a descendant of the Stolen Generation, shares her story. At present, Michelle is one of two women across Australia who advocate for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living with HIV. She also represents the positive voice of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, especially for women, on a number of advisory committees.

To read more about ‘HIV Is Just A Part Of Me’ campaign and view all six videos you can access the NAPWHA website here.

New process for job advertising

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

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

World Tobacco Day

Monday 31 May is the World Health Organization’s 35th World No Tobacco Day. This day raises awareness about the dangers of tobacco use and exposure. It highlights national and global efforts to fight the tobacco epidemic and protect future generations from its harmful effects.

World No Tobacco Day is an annual reminder of the dangers of tobacco use and its impact on the health of individuals and communities. It also sheds light on the tactics used by tobacco and related companies to attract younger generations of smokers, despite public health and regulatory efforts to lessen their influence. Growing evidence that smokers are more likely to develop severe COVID-19 disease if they become infected, has triggered millions of smokers world-wide to want to quit tobacco.

The theme of World No Tobacco Day 2022 is Protect the environment, highlighting that, throughout its lifecycle, tobacco pollutes the planet and damages the health of all people. Commit to Quit measures aim to create healthier environments that: For more information on World Tobacco Day 2022 you can access the WHO website here and the Australian Government Department of Health website here.

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: NACCHO-RACGP National Guide user review

NACCHO-RACGP National Guide user review

NACCHO and RACGP are keen to hear from members of primary healthcare teams to help create a fourth edition of the National guide to a preventive health assessment for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people that best meets your needs and supports effective preventive healthcare that is valued by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients and communities.

The National Guide is part of a suite of resources developed by NACCHO and the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners which aim to support health promoting and disease preventing activities that are valued by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

By having your say in this 7-minute survey, you’ll be helping NACCHO and RACGP to understand how you are using the 3rd edition of the National Guide, what suggestions you have for future content, the format of the 4th edition and ideas that can support implementation. Your feedback will support development of the fourth edition of the National Guide due for publication in the second half of 2023.

If you have any questions about this survey or the NACCHO-RACGP Partnership Project, you can contact RACGP Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health using this email.

This anonymous and confidential survey can be completed on your smart phone, tablet or computer and is open from Tuesday 24 May 2022 until midnight Monday 13 June 2022. To complete the survey click here.

Binjilaanii founder Midwife of the Year

Winners of the 2022 HESTA Australian Nursing & Midwifery Awards have been announced. Now in their 16th year, the national awards recognise Australia’s nurses, midwives, nurse educators, researchers and personal care workers for their contributions to improving health outcomes. Each of the winners received $10,000, courtesy of ME – the bank for you, for professional development or to improve services or processes in the workplace.

Melanie Briggs, Waminda South Coast Women’s Health & Welfare Aboriginal Corporation, Binjilaanii Maternity Services, Nowra, NSW was awarded Midwife of the Year in recognition of her tireless work to improve First Nations’ maternal and infant health. A descendant of the Dharawal and Gumbaynggirr peoples, Melanie is the Director and Founder of Binjilaanii, the first Aboriginal-led maternity model of care in Australia. She is also a Senior Midwife at Waminda South Coast Women’s Health and Welfare Aboriginal Corporation.

Briggs said she was honoured to hear she had been named Midwife of the Year. “Being recognised and being an Aboriginal midwife and caring for women on Country is a privilege and I feel incredibly proud,” she said. “My team should be here standing here with me. This award is in recognition of the amazing work our team and organisation do in the community to ensure that our First Nations mums and bubs receive the best start to life.”

Briggs is renowned for her strong advocacy, implementing the Waminda Birthing on Country Model. The model incorporates culture into maternity care to improve outcomes for First Nations women and babies. Her vision is to see Aboriginal women birthing on their homelands, practising traditional lore and continuing cultural connections to Country for their baby and their families. “Practising culture and working with First Nations mothers and supporting women on that journey during pregnancy is so important for us; it is empowering for our women as it brings incredible outcomes — seeing that is the most rewarding part of my job,” she said.

Briggs plans to use the $10,000 prize money to conduct further research and embed cultural practices into the Birthing on Country model of care.

To view the Hospital and Healthcare article HESTA nurses and midwives awards — winners announced in full click here.

Midwife Melanie Briggs holds newborn Talekai during a special cultural ceremony. Photo: Naomi Locke Photography. Image source: ABC News.

Culturally safe stroke screening needed

Professor Ben Freedman, Director of External Affairs at the Heart Research Institute and founder of AF-SCREEN International Collaboration is warning revision of guidelines to screen Aboriginal people for atrial fibrillation (AF), a leading cause of stroke, is needed to help prevent cardiovascular disease in this at-risk population.

Prof Freedman said research shows Indigenous Australians are experiencing catastrophic strokes at a much younger age than other Australians. AF occurs more commonly in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people at an earlier age, and when AF is found earlier, the risk of stroke is much higher than for non-Aboriginal people.

“We’re look­ing at intro­duc­ing life-sav­ing screen­ing for Aus­tralians aged over 65 but that’s too late for half of Abo­rig­i­nal suf­fer­ers. We’re call­ing on cul­tur­al­ly-spe­cif­ic screen­ing guide­lines that will pro­tect this at-risk pop­u­la­tion from an ear­li­er age,” Prof Freed­man said.

Yesterday Professor Freedman is travelled to Armidale with a team led by Dr Kylie Gwynn to take part in a combined health screening program at the Armajun Aboriginal Health Service. Dr Gwynne and Professor Freedman and the team will be using a handheld ECG device which they successfully trialled in Aboriginal health services around Australia previously.

To view The National Tribune article Leading Australian heart expert to improve Indigenous health in full click here.

Rapid skin infection test for First Nations kids

A rapid test to detect antibiotic-resistant skin infections in Aboriginal children could be a step closer, thanks to support from the WA Government’s Future Health Research and Innovation Fund (FHRIF). Telethon Kids Institute and The University of WA researcher, Dr Tim Barnett, has been awarded a FHRIF Translation Fellowship to lead a research project to tackle the burden of skin disease in Aboriginal children. It will aim to develop a rapid point-of-care diagnostic test for antibiotic-resistant Strep A and Staph aureus bacteria, which would fast track accurate treatment.

Dr Barnett said untreated skin infections from both Strep A and Staph aureus bacteria cause significant health problems for young Aboriginal people. “Half of all Aboriginal children suffer from the burden of skin infection, which can lead to severe illness including blood infections and autoimmune diseases like Rheumatic Heart Disease,.” he said. “To combat this, we need to be able to identify resistant infections early for alternative antibiotics to be prescribed.”

84% of Aboriginal children are diagnosed with skin sores caused by Strep A and Staph aureus before their first birthday. Dr Barnett said antimicrobial resistance from regular antibiotic use was common in remote Aboriginal communities but can be well-managed if there is a fast diagnosis.

To view the University of WA article Funding for rapid test to detect antibiotic-resistant skin infections in Aboriginal children in full click here.

Dr Tim Barnett, Telethon Kids Institute and The University of Western Australia researcher. Image source: The University of WA website.

Labor’s First Nations health promises

An article Health promises we must hold Anthony Albanese published yesterday has looked at promises Albanese and his party made during the election campaign including a commitment to training “500 new First Nations health workers, increasing access to lifesaving dialysis treatment for those living with chronic kidney disease and expanding efforts to eradicate rheumatic heart disease in remote communities”. The funding promises include:

  • $52.9 million for a First Nations Health Worker Traineeship Program, following a co-design process with the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO), Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations (ACCHOs) and community-controlled registered training organisations. Traineeships will be rolled out over 4 years, with 100 new trainees starting in the first 2 years of the program, increasing to 150 in the later 2 years;
  • $45 million for better renal services in the city and bush, including $30 million for up to 30 four-chair dialysis units in urban and remote locations across the country, and $15 million for small scale water infrastructure projects that improve access to clean water critical for dialysis; and,
  • $13.5 million to help eradicate rheumatic heart disease, including $12 million to double current federal funding to combat rheumatic heart disease, and $1.5 million to fund portable echo-cardio machines and screening efforts.

To view the Insight article Health promises we must hold Anthony Albanese to click here.

Image source: The New Daily.

Pastor Willie Dumas on COVID-19 vax

In this video developed by the Australian Government Department of Health (DoH), Pastor Willie Dumas from Tweed Heads, NSW, says that the COVID-19 vaccines are here to bring hope and solutions to our lives and invites his mob to yarn with their local healthcare worker and get vaccinated today.

In the video Paster Dumas says “COVID-19 vaccinations bring security and safety. They’re a way to help our Mob and all of humanity. There’s a lot of misunderstanding about what COVID is, and what the vaccine is. Which leads to a lot of fear but the vaccines are here to bring hope and solutions to our lives. It’s only our prejudices that can stand in the way. So, yarn with your local healthcare worker – and get vaccinated.”

For further information visit the Australian Government DoH COVID-19 vaccination – Pastor Willie Dumas shares his COVID-19 message (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people) webpage here.

Tackling Indigenous Smoking video resources

Apunipima Cape York Health Council, Cairns, Queensland, has developed a Tackling Indigenous Smoking (TIS) video resource package. The videos (including the one below), created by the Apunipima Cape York Health Council TIS Team feature community members from Napranum, Queensland discussing their quit smoking journeys:

You can access the Apunipma Cape York Health Council website here; their TIS webpage here; and their contact details here.

Cultural considerations in SEWB support

Emerging Minds has released a recording of its webinar Cultural considerations in the social and emotional wellbeing support provided to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and families. The webinar aims to increase health practitioners’ understanding of the significance of cultural identity when working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and families, and has the following learning outcomes:

  • outline the importance of cultural identity for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children
  • describe self-determination when working alongside Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families
  • identify strategies and resources that support the cultural needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and families at an individual, family, community and organisational level.

The webinar was facilitated by Dana Shen, Aboriginal Cultural Consultant, with an interdisciplinary panel of experts including  Adele Cox, SNAICC Sector Development Manager, and Tricia Nagel, Psychiatrist and Senior Researcher.

You can access the Emerging Minds website, including a link to the webinar here.

New process for job advertising

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

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

Gayaa Dhuwi Australia virtual conference

Gayaa Dhuwi (Proud Spirit) Australia (GDPSA) are extremely excited to announce the first ever Gayaa Dhuwi (Proud Spirit) Australia Conference, which will be held over two days from Tuesday 7- Wednesday 8 June 2022. The theme for the 2022 Gayaa Dhuwi (Proud Spirit) Australia Conference is ‘Keeping Our Spirit Strong’.

The theme #KeepingOurSpiritStrong is an acknowledgment to the achievements of the organisation in building a national peak body for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander social and emotional wellbeing, mental health, and suicide prevention, as well as the achievements of the sector and their initiatives contributing to strengthening approaches and access to mental health care. It also draws on the challenges our communities have faced over the past three years with COVID-19 and natural disasters, and our resilience to keeping a strong spirit in times of isolation and worry.

The conference will be an entirely FREE to attend. Registrations will go live within the week, so make sure you save the dates in your calendars and set your reminders so you don’t miss out on this innovative and exciting virtual event! For further information on this event and how you and your organisation can get involved, please contact Ethan French using this email link.

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: NACCHO CEO joins pre-election health discussion

Image in feature tile, NACCHO CEO Pat Turner AM. Image source: The Sydney Morning Herald, 10 May 2022.

NACCHO joins pre-election health discussion

Yesterday Dr Norman Swan, who hosts the ABC Radio National Health Report, said as it has been a long election campaign with not much on health it had been decided for last Health Report before the election to try and cover health issues that have not been covered in the campaign by the major parties. Dr Norman Swan has hosted the pre-election health discussion with four experts talking about the pressing issues: what are the most pronounced problems, what type of care is the most effective, how should rebates work, and what health questions have not been raised at all.

The discussion begins with Dr Swan asking NACCHO CEO Pat Turner AM about the recent study done of the economics of health care in Aboriginal communities. Ms Turner said that NACCHO commissioned Equity Economics to look at the gap in health expenditure in terms of what is paid by the government for all Australians and for Aboriginal people. It was found that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people require an additional $5,042 per head of population which equates to a $4.4 billion shortfall in funding Aboriginal health in this country – $2.6 billion from the Commonwealth and $1.8 billion from the states and territories in terms of what they should be inputting.

Ms Turner said the figures had been adjusted for the health status of Aboriginal people, who have, on average, over two times the burden of disease that other Australians with a life expectancy still 8–9 years below that of other Australians. Ms Turner then outlined some horrific statistics: Aboriginal people are 3.7 times more likely to have kidney disease, 3.3 times more likely to have diabetes, 3.2 times more likely to suicide as youth, 2.1 times more likely to die in infancy and youth are 55 times more likely to die from RHD. What is driving this is, Ms Turner said, is the overall lack of equal funding to make up for the health gap, “we can’t close the gap between the life outcomes of our people until we get at least equal funding as other Australians do, on basis of need.”

You can listen to the ABC Radio National episode Considering health issues ahead of an election of the Health Report with Dr Norman Swan here.

Nigel Morton and half of the 500 residents of his town, Ampilatwatja, NT have diabetes. Image source: ABC News website.

Remote communities pay 39% more for food

Residents in remote Aboriginal communities pay the highest average price for food in Australia. Advocates say the next PM must act to ensure affordable, healthy food is available for all Australians. The local supermarket is the heart of Wirrimanu, a remote Aboriginal community on the edge of the Great Sandy Desert in WA’s Kimberley region. It’s the only shop of its size for 300 kms and it’s only open limited hours each day, supplying fresh and dry food, as well as clothing, basic furniture and some white goods.

Plastic curtains hang over the front door to keep dust and flies out, as residents enter to pick up their goods and use the ATM. But what’s really surprising about the store are the prices on the shelves. When SBS News visited the Wirrimanu Community Store, a 380g jar of Vegemite was selling for $13.25; a plain loaf of white bread for $4.99 and a two litre bottle of orange juice was priced at $7.20. A 500g bag of San Remo pasta cost $4.40 while a 250g packet of Arnott’s biscuits cost $5.85.

The National Indigenous Australians Agency estimates that residents of remote communities pay 39 per cent more for supermarket supplies than consumers in capital cities, and the gap could be widening. Wirrimanu resident Ronald Mosquito was browsing the aisles, and told SBS News the community has little option but to pay the prices. “If people are desperate and hungry, they will buy whatever they must,” he said. Ronald has diabetes and said he’s trying to improve his diet, but the availability of fresh, affordable food is a major problem.

To view the SBS News article Remote communities pay 39 per cent more at the supermarket checkout than city shoppers. Here’s why that’s a problem. in full click here.

Wirrimanu resident Ronald Mosquito says the community has few other options but to pay the prices. Image source: SBS News website.

Opportunity to transform Australia’s eye health

One of the most important presentations at this year’s 52nd RANZCO Congress was the launch of the college’s Vision 2030 and Beyond plan to overcome Australia’s long-standing and complex eye health equity issues. One of the presenters Dr Kristen Bell called for an Atlas of healthcare delivery to help address healthcare variance, depending on where people live. In her presentation on service delivery issues, Dr Bell – the Vision 2030 and Beyond clinical lead – said ophthalmology differs from other specialties, with 80% being outpatient care-based and 20% surgical. Chronic sight threatening conditions such as diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma, and age-related macular degeneration make up the bulk of ophthalmic service delivery, with acute care often bypassing surgery and emergency to the outpatient setting.

Dr Bell presented maps of Australia showing very few public care areas outside of urban areas. NT and WA fund outreach from Darwin, Alice Springs and Broome, respectively, while Tasmania has recently started funding an additional service in the NW of the state, giving these three jurisdictions the best regional coverage. But across Australia, 30% of entire population and 65% of Indigenous patients have no or limited access to a publicly funded local outpatient service.

To view the Insight article A pivotal opportunity to transform Australia’s eye health in full click here.

Auntie Emily at the Danila Dilba Aboriginal Health Service, Darwin Photo: Brien Holden Vision Institute. Image source: Optometry Australia.

TIS National Coordinator on new vaping laws

In the below video, National Coordinator for Tackling Indigenous Smoking, Professor Tom Calma AO answers questions including:

    • What is vaping?
    • What are the current laws around nicotine vapes?
    • Can nicotine vaping help me stop smoking?

This video forms part of a campaign created by the Therapeutic Goods Administration and the National Best Practice Unit for Tackling Indigenous Smoking. You can view other resources, including a brochure and posters, developed for the campaign here.

NPS MedicineWise low literacy consumer resource

NPS MedicineWise has developed a number of low literacy consumer resources, which aims to support conversations between a Health Care provider and patient (or patient representative) regarding medicine choice for treatment of mild COVID illness in people who identify as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander and are at higher risk of disease progression.

The medicines mentioned in the resources are the two oral antivirals and the monoclonal antibody Sotrovimab. There are also FAQs for prescribers and dispensers working in ACCHOs for these same three medicines. The links below to the low literacy factsheets for use in ACCHOs and remote communities can be found on the NPS MedicinesWise website.

Paxlovid, Lagevrio (Molnupiravir), Sotrovimab (Xevudy). Image sources: FirstWord Pharma+, Medical Update Online, The Guardian, GSK UK Products.

Health services need to cater for the whole person

The University of Melbourne on-line Pursuit magazine has published an article Embracing Queer Indigenous Australia – Health services need to cater to the whole person as a human right, and that includes Indigenous LGBTIQ+ Australians by Todd Fernando, Victorian Commissioner for LGBTIQ+ Communities and University of Melbourne.  In the article, Todd Fernando says: I’ve been fortunate in my life to build a strong sense of pride in my identity as a queer Wiradjuri man. Despite this, my intersectionality – the way different identities can marginalise people or expose them to discrimination – is sometimes misunderstood, particularly in health settings.

This experience rings true for many queer Indigenous people, as evidenced in my recently submitted doctoral thesis exploring health equity for queer Indigenous people. The findings of my own and previous research highlight the need for services to understand the importance of catering to the full person. Because as humans, we don’t divide easily. Without further data that truly captures the lived experience of queer Indigenous people, no effective changes to systems can be lobbied for. The belief that heterosexuality is the preferred or ‘normal’ sexual orientation is as much a direct threat to the survival and advancement of queer Indigenous people as racism is.

To view Todd Fernando’s article in full click here.

Image source: 2SER Breakfast radio.

Keep mob healthy this winter with flu vax

The Lung Foundation of Australia are conducting a campaign from mid-May to June to encourage Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to be vaccinated against respiratory diseases this flu season. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged over six months are eligible for a free flue vaccination. You can access the Lung Foundation Australia website for more information here.

New process for job advertising

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

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

Arthritis Australia National Grants Program

Arthritis Australia has long been a leader in funding nationally and internationally based research programs to find solutions in the management of Arthritis. In the past three years Arthritis Australia has awarded many research projects, fellowships, scholarships, project grants and grant-in-aid projects from an annual donation sum of $7m.  Arthritis Australia’s National Grants Program is currently accepting applications for 2023. This year we are welcoming applications for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Fellowship sponsored by Janssen.

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Fellowship is for research to be undertaken in 2023 for a duration of 12 months, in the field of Arthritis and musculoskeletal conditions among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. The Fellowship will be awarded to a researcher who identifies as an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander, or who has a team member who identifies as an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander. The researcher must be currently undertaking post-doctoral work or following a recently completed Rheumatology Advanced training.

Applications are open until Friday 8 July 2022.

The can access further information about the National Research program here and the Fellowship Application form here. Applications should be forwarded to Arthritis Australia using this email link. If you have any further queries, please email Arthritis Australia using the email address here or call the Arthritis Australia office on 02 9518 4441.

Image source: Merri Health.

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Mental health response to disasters

feature tile text 'to be effective, mental health response to disasters must be culturally informed' Cabbage Tree Island ATSI residents evacuating homes

Image in feature tile is of Cabbage Tree Island residents preparing to evacuate their homes during flooding. Photo: Tracey Nearmy, AAP. Image source: The Conversation.

Mental health response to disasters

Kabi Kabi and Australian and South Sea Islander psychologist, Ms Kelleigh Ryan and other First Nations experts spoke on SBS NITV radio over the weekend about how in order to be effective, the mental health response to disasters must be culturally informed.

Ms Ryan explained that the system that’s currently in place is not set up to provide effective support, resulting in inadequate cultural competency training leading to pervasive and ongoing life-threatening consequences for First Nations peoples, including chronic poor health, high psychological stress and high suicide and incarceration rates.

“These issues are compounded in times of high stress, such as when dealing with the aftermath of natural disasters,” Ms Ryan said. February and March 2022 saw extreme flooding in Queensland and NSW that devastated entire communities, with towns on Bundjalung Country, including Lismore, Coraki and Cabbage Tree Island, some of the hardest hit.

To listen to the SBS NITV interview in full click here.

Kelleigh Ryan - Australian Psychological Association (APS) Fellow

Kelleigh Ryan – Australian Psychological Association (APS) Fellow. Image source: ABC News.

Dr Casey joins HTA reference committee

The Health Technology Assessment (HTA) Review Reference Committee announced yesterday, is tasked with driving major reforms to shape the future of Australia’s health system and provide faster access to novel medicines for patients. The Committee includes stakeholders from Government, industry, the health sector and the patient community.

The independently chaired Committee, will undertake the first major review of the HTA system in 30 years. The HTA Review will focus on medicines, biotherapeutics, and vaccines and will also include any related diagnostic tests and medical devices.

In welcoming NACCHO’s Deputy CEO Dr Dawn Casey PSM as one of two patient advocates appointed to the Committee, Medicines Australia Chair, Dr Anna Lavelle said “The First Nations voice from NACCHO is vital. The outcomes must lead to health system improvement and meet future patient needs and demands,”

To view the Health Industry Hub article Patient advocacy group and Medicines Australia set eyes on bold reform as HTA Review Reference Committee announced in full click here.

NACCHO Deputy CEO, Dr Dawn Casey PSM. Image Source: AIDA.

Formal representation in aged care

The Federal Government has allocated $14.8 million over three years to ensure aged care organisations can continue supporting and advocating for older people during a period of significant change and reform of the aged care system.

Minister for Senior Australians and Aged Care Services, Richard Colbeck, said “we must have a deep understanding of the views, the wishes and the concerns of our diverse communities. It is vital that people with dementia, culturally and linguistically diverse communities, LGBTQI+ individuals and communities, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, gerontologists and associated health professionals continue to be well represented.”

The Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (VACCHO), acting on behalf of the National Advisory Group for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Aged Care (NAGATSIAC) is one of the seven aged care consumer peak bodies being funded from 1 July 2022. Funding will also support the establishment of a National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Ageing and Aged Care Council (NATSIACC) to formalise representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in aged care.

To view Senator Richard Colbeck’s media release in full click here.

Germanus Kent House resident Bertha Linty and care worker Victoria Gardener

Germanus Kent House resident Bertha Linty and care worker Victoria Gardener. Image source: Aged Care Guide.

Help improve how pharmacists provide services

Have your say – help improve how pharmacists provide services

NACCHO is working to make the guidelines for pharmacists working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples better.

We want to understand from you how pharmacists and pharmacies can be culturally safe and give the best care to you and your community.

Click here to complete the online survey.

Please pass this information on to any other Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander people who would be interested in completing the survey.

Remote NT drinking water concerns

Laramba is a remote Aboriginal community, roughly 205 kms west of Alice Springs, that is home to about 300 people. Its water comes from a bore, and uranium occurs naturally in the area. Laramba resident Stanley Fletcher is worried that long-term exposure to the community’s drinking water is making people sick.

A 2020 Power and Water report found the community’s water was contaminated with 0.052 milligrams per litre of uranium, more than three times the concentration limit recommended in Australia’s drinking water guidelines.

Professor Paul Lawton, a kidney specialist with the Menzies School of Health Research, is leading a study to determine whether drinking contaminated water is contributing to health issues. “In remote NT communities, there are great concerns about the quality of drinking water right across the Territory,” Professor Lawton said. “Almost all remote communities are reliant on bore water and, as a result, there are concerns that groundwater is being exposed to large amounts of minerals, particularly heavy metals.”

To view the ABC News article Concerns about drinking water quality in ‘almost all’ remote NT communities. What can be done about it? in full click here.

Laramba resident Stanley Fletcher holding baby

Laramba resident Stanley Fletcher tries to avoid drinking water from the tap whenever he can. Photo: Isaac Nowroozi. Image source: ABC News.

Project to detect diabetes in pregnancy 

A ground-breaking project set up to protect the health of Aboriginal mothers and their families in rural communities by optimising the screening and management of hyperglycaemia in pregnancy has received a $3.2 million funding boost from the Medical Research Future Fund.

Professor Julia Marley, a Senior Principal Research Fellow from The University of WA’s Medical School and the Rural Clinical School of WA, is chief investigator of the ORCHID Study – a collaboration between the Rural Clinical School of WA, Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Services (KAMS) and their member services, Diabetes WA and WA Country Health Services. In welcoming the funding, Professor Marley said diabetes disproportionately impacts the lives of Aboriginal people, with predisposition beginning in pregnancy.

To view the University of WA article Major funding boost for detecting diabetes in pregnancy in rural communities in full click here.

From left, Emma Jamieson (Research Associate, RCSWA), Professor Julia Marley (Senior Principal Research Fellow, RCSWA), Janelle Dillon (Midwife and Diabetes educator at Bega Garnbirringu Health Service), Erica Spry (Research Fellow, RCSWA and Research Officer, KAMS

From left, Emma Jamieson (Research Associate, RCSWA), Professor Julia Marley (Senior Principal Research Fellow, RCSWA), Janelle Dillon (Midwife and Diabetes educator at Bega Garnbirringu Health Service), Erica Spry (Research Fellow, RCSWA and Research Officer, KAMS). Image source: The University of WA website.

RACGP urges action on smoking

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) has urged the federal Government to set ambitious goals and act decisively to reduce tobacco use across the nation. It comes following the college’s submission to the Government’s draft National Tobacco Strategy 2022-2030 (“the Strategy”).

Among its recommendations the RACGP is calling for a targeted approach for different populations, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and other high-risk groups, to help achieve lower smoking rates

RACGP President Professor Karen Price said “We need to consider how to best reach those groups, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, who are using tobacco at higher rates compared to the rest of the population. I think part of the answer here lies in culturally appropriate resources to really zero in on populations who have been left behind in the general population decline in smoking prevalence. The RACGP also strongly supports funding programs for and by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, noting that funding appears to have declined where it is needed most.”

To view the RACGP media release in full click here.

Aboriginal man's hand on wooden rail holding cigarette

New process for job advertising

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

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

2nd Australasian COVID-19 Conference

The 2nd Australasian COVID-19 Conference hosted by the Australasian Society for HIV, Viral Hepatitis and Sexual Health Medicine (ASHM), is being held in Sydney from Thursday 21 to Friday 22 July 2022 and will showcase researchers from an array of disciplines, specialist clinicians, epidemiologists and community members who have developed new and harnessed existing tools to comprehensively address prevention, treatment and management of COVID-19/SARS-COV-2 and evolving challenges presented.

To support the conference ASHM are extending invitations to submit abstracts. Abstracts can go towards delivering an oral presentation or a poster presentation at the conference and is a great opportunity to share the amazing work your staff/services do, or share innovative models developed in the ACCHO sector, others in mainstream can learn from. For those who submit abstracts and are successful, NACCHO and ASHM can support costs to attend (travel, accommodation etc).

One of the conference themes addresses the social, political, and cultural issues shaping responses to the pandemic responses as well as COVID-19 prevention, treatment, and care, in the Australasian region, and it would be great to share some of the great work that’s happened and continues to happen in the ACCHO space relating to the COVID response.

The deadline to submit abstracts is Sunday 24 April 2022. You can access the abstract guidelines here and an abstract template here. If you have any questions or would like to chat more about submitting an abstract, please don’t hesitate to reach out to Megan Campbell using this email link or Edan Campbell-O’Brien using this email link. NACCHO really would love to showcase our sector in these large mainstream forums, so please forward on to services if they’re interested and let us know if you’d like to set up a follow up discussion to discuss further.

On a related note, ASHM are also hosting the Australasian Viral Hepatitis Conference from Sunday 29 May to Tuesday 31 May in Brisbane (QLD). The registration deadline closes on Sunday 1 May 2022please get in touch if you’d like to find out more.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Child safety systems failing mob

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

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

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

Image source: Bendigo Advertiser.

Aboriginal prisoner mental healthcare program

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

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

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

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

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

Heart health program for First Nations dads

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

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

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

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

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

Addictive e-cigarettes harming youth

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

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

To view the ANU media release in full click here.

teenage girl vaping, face obscured by smoke

Image source: The Age.

Shared Code of conduct for 12 National Boards

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

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

Melbourne Poche Centre for Indigenous Health

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

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

New process for job advertising

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

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

Parkinson’s Awareness Month

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

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

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

Image source: Southern Cross University website.

hiv@aids + sexualhealth 2022 abstract submission open

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

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

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

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: NACCHO selected to drive home care workforce

Image in feature tile from IRT Group article Booraja Home Care Secures Funding Through End of June, 3 February 2020.

NACCHO selected to drive home care workforce

NACCHO is one of six organisations selected by the federal government to drive the growth of the Australia’s home care workforce by 13,000 over the next two years, and support more senior Australians to access Home Care Packages and remain independent at home. More than $91 million under the Home Care Workforce Support Program has been allocated to organisations in each state and territory, and to the NACCHO.

Minister for Health and Aged Care, the Hon Greg Hunt MP, said all home care providers can work with these organisations to grow and upskill their workforce. “The Home Care Workforce Support Program will help senior Australians to remain at home by growing the personal care workforce. This will allow people to access home care services where and when they need them,” Minister Hunt said.

To view Minister Hunt’s media release in full click here.

Booraja project manager Bunja Smith helps Veronica Holmes tidy the front yard of her Moruya home. Photo: Rhett Wyman. Image source: SMH.

Dementia rates show racism’s lifelong impact

In his article Dementia Rates of Indigenous Australians show the lifelong impact of racism Nick Keppler argues “The collective trauma of Australia’s Indigenous population may have begat one of the highest dementia rates in the world.” Mr Keppler said “A new study published last month in Neurology, that found the prevalence of dementia in a group of Indigenous Australians living in urban areas was double that of non-Indigenous Australians, echos the findings of a growing body of research.”

Mr Keppler continued “Several health problems and unfortunate life circumstances increase one’s risk of dementia, and many of them are heaped disproportionately onto marginalised and persecuted groups. To look at dementia among Australia’s First Nations population is to look at how the effects of colonialism, racism, and inequity pile up in the brain over a lifetime.”

To view the Inverse article in full click here.

Bidyadanga residents with dementia supported by workers L-R Angelina Nanudie, Zarena Richards, Rosie Spencer and Faye Dean

Bidyadanga residents with dementia are supported by workers at the community care centre. From left: Angelina Nanudie, Zarena Richards, Rosie Spencer and Faye Dean. Photo: Erin Parke. ABC Kimberley. Image source: ABC News website.

ACCHO model lauded by CHF

The Consumers Health Forum (CHF) has welcomed the recommendations in the Community Affairs References Committee’s interim report into the provision of general practitioner and related primary health care services to outer metropolitan, rural and regional Australia. CHF CEO, Leanne Wells said that the report focuses on some of the major issues encountered by regional health consumers, who “have very different experiences accessing primary health care than do people living in cities.”

Ms Wells was disappointed however that the report made no mention of the more systemic reforms to primary care, such as a connected system of primary care, integrating general practice with other health services. “Incorporating new models of care which have already been tested with great success in location-based, or state-based initiatives would be a huge step forward in changing the infrastructure needed to support general practice,” said Ms Wells.

There are existing models of care already demonstrating system reform, such as ACCHOs which operate clinics across Australia delivering holistic community-based is health care services for First Nations people, as well as some state-based models offering community-based medical services.

To view the CHF media release in full click here.

Image source: Bulgarr Ngaru Medical Aboriginal Corporation, NSW website.

Gap widens for children in early years

SNAICC have issued a media release saying it is critical that Governments act now to better support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children if there is to be progress on closing the gap. For the second time in a week new data shows the gap is widening in critical areas relating to young people. The Australian Early Development Census National Report released yesterday shows there has been a decrease in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander child development overall across key measures (domains). SNAICC CEO Catherine Liddle said the declines highlighted the importance of Governments acting on the solutions put forward by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled early childhood services.

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

Image source: National Indigenous Australians Agency website.

AKction project transforms kidney health

In 2018, a funding cut put an end to a free shuttle bus that took Aboriginal patients in Adelaide to and from the dialysis treatments. Nari Sinclair, a Ngarrindjeri and Yorta Yorta woman, was furious about the implications, for herself and others. Reliant on a wheelchair because both her legs have been amputated, Nari is unable to drive, catch public transport or take a standard taxi, and face significant inconvenience and costs as a result of the funding cut. She knew of other kidney patients who were also hit hard.

Determined to fight the decision, Nari joined forces with Pitjantjatjara/Yankunytjatjara Elder Inawinytji (Ina) Williamson, a renowned artist who was forced more than a decade ago to move to Adelaide, away from Country, family and friends, for dialysis treatment that cannot be access in the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) Lands.

They got together for a yarn about how the complex clinical, cultural and social determinants impact Aboriginal people, families and communities affected by chronic kidney disease. Nari and Ina then met with Kidney Health Australia and University Adelaide researcher Dr Janet Kelly, who was working with kidney health professionals on a project to improve the quality and cultural safety of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’s healthcare journeys, particularly for those from remote communities. “And it’s gone from there,” Nari sad of how she, Ina and Janet worked with others to launch what would become the landmark Aboriginal Kidney Care Together – Improving Outcomes Now (AKction) project. It is transforming kidney health research and care.

To view the Croakey Health Media article in full click here.

From back L: Amy Graham, Dr Kim O’Donnell, Kelli Owen, Ina Williamson

From back L: Amy Graham, Dr Kim O’Donnell, Kelli Owen, Ina Williamson. Image source: Croakey Health Media.

Tom Calma presents Basil Hetzel Oration

A transcript of the 2021 Basil Hetzel Oration delivered by Professor Tom Calma AO was published in the 2022 Online Australian and NZ Journal of Public Health last week. In his oration Professor Calma specifically addressed the crises of COVID-19, racism, mental health and smoking. Below are two extracts for the oration:

“The COVID-19 pandemic has presented challenges and opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are at increased risk from COVID-19 given the higher prevalence of health risk factors amongst our populations, implicated with coloniality and systemic racism. However, the experience of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders has meant that we have taken the pandemic seriously from the outset. In bringing prevention measures to communities, Indigenous skill and excellence have been highlighted. We must use this momentum to address ongoing issues among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples brought through colonisation, systemic racism and associated health inequalities.”

“We have known for over 60 years that, when used as directed, tobacco will kill you. Colonisation introduced and continues to support tobacco use. Tobacco was often used in first encounters between colonisers and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as a gesture of goodwill and to establish and build relationships. It was also used as a form of payment in lieu of wages until the mid to late 1960s. This entrenched smoking among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Colonisation has also actively placed Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples at the bottom of the socioeconomic ladder – an outcome that has impacted over generations through mechanics of colonisation that have actively excluded us from the education system and the economy. Socioeconomic status is strongly linked to smoking, and other health and wellbeing outcomes, in an unjust, perpetual and predacious cycle.”

To view Tom Calma’s oration in full click here.

Professor Tom Calma AO. Image source: The Guardian.

Nominate for eye health awards

Nominations are invited for the 2022 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Eye Health Awards. The awards – formerly known as the Leaky Pipe Awards – recognise achievements and contributions in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander eye health.

Nominations are open in the following categories:

  • Contribution to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander eye health by Aboriginal Community-Controlled Health Organisations (ACCHO)
  • Contribution to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander eye health (Individual)
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leadership in eye health
  • Allyship in contribution to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander eye health

‘Unsung heroes’ in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander eye health are particularly sought.

Click here to find out more. Nominations must be received before close of business on Friday 22 April 2022.

Kristopher Rallah-Baker has become Australia’s first Indigenous ophthalmologist

Kristopher Rallah-Baker has become Australia’s first Indigenous ophthalmologist. Image source: National Indigenous Times.

New process for job advertising

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

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

Indigenous Eye Health Conference

The 2022 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Eye Health Conference (NATSIEHC22) will take place on Larrakia country in Darwin from 22-24 May 2022. Presented by Indigenous Eye Health (IEH), the NATSIEHC22 conference aims to advance the collective work of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander eye health sector towards the shared goal of improving eye health access and outcomes of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians.

Key note speakers at this conferences are: Jaki Adams, Thomas Mayor and Nicole Turner. Delegates will include representatives from ACCHOs and other primary care service providers, eye care clinicians, policy makers, researchers, non-government organisations, hospitals, professional peak bodies and government departments from across the country.

To find out more about the conference and key note speakers click here and/or register to attend here.

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Close the Gap 2022 report launches tomorrow

feature tile text 'Close the Gap Cmpaign Report 2022 - Transforming power: voices for generational change launches tomorrow' & 1972 photo of Aboriginal protestors

Image in feature tile from the Library & Archives NT is of demonstrators protesting for land rights outside the Aboriginal Embassy in Canberra, 20 July 1972.

Close the Gap 2022 report launches tomorrow

The Australian Human Rights Commission and Reconciliation Australia are delighted to invite you to the launch of the 2022 Close the Gap Campaign report “Transforming Power; Voices for generational change”, produced by the Lowitja Institute.

The report showcases Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander led community initiatives, that recognise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leadership, provide genuine opportunities for decision making and that strengthen and embed cultures.

Don’t miss this incredible opportunity to see and hear keynote speakers and panel members talk about how Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and their allies, are working to address health equity and equality.

The report will be launched tomorrow on National Close the Gap Day during the  webinar from 11:30 AM – 1:00 PM AEDT Thursday 17 March 2022. To register for the webinar click here. The webinar is FREE, but registration is essential.

ACCHO partners with Diabetes SA

Towards the end of 2021, Moorundi ACCHS contacted Diabetes SA to arrange for an educator to visit their clinic to service the community in Murray Bridge. This partnership has been positive for both parties.

The local catchment area in Murray Bridge, SA, has a significant Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population, and the rates of diabetes are high. Being a regional area, timely access to Credentialled Diabetes Educators is limited. Moorundi ACCHS identified this gap and reached out to Diabetes SA for assistance. Moorundi has partnered with Diabetes SA to have a Credentialled Diabetes Educator visit the clinic once a month to provide culturally appropriate consultations and education about diabetes. So far, we have had two successful clinics with a third scheduled for March 2022. Together, the aim is to improve the management of diabetes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in Murray Bridge.

To access the Moorundi ACCHS website click here and to access the Diabetes SA website click here.

Moorundi ACCHS staff. Image source: Moorundi ACCHS website.

AMA calls out dumping of PHC 10-year plan

The AMA is calling on the Federal Government to urgently release its Primary Health Care 10-Year Plan, which appears to have been dumped, despite over two years of development and significant input from stakeholders. The Government gave a commitment in October 2019 to develop a national Primary Health Care 10-Year Plan to strengthen and modernise Australia’s primary health care system.

The system has been struggling to cope with an increasing workload as the Australian population ages and people’s health needs become more complex. AMA President Dr Omar Khorshid said the Government’s failure to deliver the reform and support necessary to equip GPs into the future represented a major policy backflip.

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

Image source: Delivering Better Care for Patients: The AMA 10-Year Framework for Primary Care Reform

Family violence surges after floods

Catastrophic flooding in NSW and SE Queensland has led to lost lives, homes, belongings, pets and livelihoods. As the process of cleaning up after the floods continues, we can expect an often unspoken outcome of natural disasters. Domestic violence rates surge during and after bushfires, pandemics, earthquakes, cyclones and floods.

Fear and uncertainty are common during disasters and people’s reactions to disasters vary. In some, these feelings can trigger domestic and other types of violence. The many associated losses related to disasters – including loss of homes and their contents, cars and livelihoods – often cause financial strain, which may also place added pressure on families and relationships.

Grief, loss and trauma can also leave people feeling overwhelmed and test a person’s coping skills. Experiencing life-threatening situations or those that bring about loss and trauma can also lead to mental health issues, such as PTSD. This too, can complicate family dynamics and change people’s ability to cope. Drug and alcohol use often soars during and after disasters, which may also exacerbate tensions in relationships.

When people are displaced and need to stay with other community members or in shelters, the rates of violence against women also rises. In those cases, women and children tend to experience more violence in general, not just domestic violence.

To view The Conversation article in full click here.

A related article looks at the first episode of Taking care for 2022 – a powerful and honest conversation about family violence and the role of health practitioners in helping survivors.

screenshot of Taking care Health practitioners' role in eliminating family violence whooshkaa, 43:12 minutes' & image of two female GPs

Image source: Ahpra & National Boards website.

RANZCO launches vision for eye equity

The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Ophthalmologists (RANZCO) has launched its “vision for 2030 and beyond” that aims to deliver equal and sustainable access to eye care for all. The ambitious plan was described at RANZCO Scientific Congress, a virtual event held from 26 February to 1 March 2022.

In his opening address, RANZCO President Professor Nitin Verma highlighted the importance of sight to general well-being and the impact of eye disease and low vision, including increased dementia, falls, car crashes etc. as well as the economic/financial cost. He said “considerable” inequity of access to eye care across Australia is often the single cause of irreversible, unnecessary and preventable vision loss.

The plan has been launched in response to a request in 2021 from the Federal Minister for Health, for a plan that would close the eye health gap for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, and ensure equitable eye care for all Australians, with the aim of eliminating avoidable visual impairment and blindness. The evidence-based plan looks at the problems RANZCO currently sees in eye healthcare delivery through six key areas of focus: service delivery, workforce and training, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander healthcare, global eye health, preventative healthcare and sustainability.

To view the mivision The Ophthalmic Journal article in full click here. The short film below examines the prevalence of eye problems among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Impacts of racism on health and wellbeing

The Australian Government Office of the National Rural Health Commissioner (ONRHC) has issued a Position Statement: impacts of racism on the health and wellbeing of Indigenous Australians. The key points of the statement include:

There is strong evidence of the impact of racism and barriers to accessing health services for Indigenous people negatively impacting a range of health outcomes for Indigenous people irrespective of geography
• Racism negatively impacts the attraction, recruitment, retention and leadership opportunities of the Indigenous health workforce.
• Understanding and addressing racism is a key to increasing the uptake of health services and improving health outcomes.
• Transformational change can only be achieved when Indigenous knowledge and cultures are acknowledged and recognised and services are co-designed with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and organisations.

The statement says the ONRHC will work towards dismantling racism in the health sector by working closely with Indigenous leaders and peak health organisations to advise Governments, medical institutions, colleges and universities to ensure racism is acknowledged and addressed.

You can access the ONRHC Position Statement in full here.

Image source: New Scientist.

Creating equitable access to hearing healthcare

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children have among the highest rates of otitis media and hearing loss in the world – and social determinants of health such as hygiene, nutrition and overcrowding of housing are key risk factors for otits media. From the start of their lives, Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander children experience inequity in hearing health – Indigenous children aged up to 14 years are three times as likely to have otitis media as non-Indigenous children, and are twice as likely to have a long-term ear/hearing problem. Hearing loss can have a catastrophic effect on the lives of Aboriginal children and their families, impacting the life trajectory from childhood development to academic outcomes through to over-representation in the criminal justice system.

Early intervention is critical to diagnosing and treating ear disease and improving the quality of children’s lives. However, despite decades of research demonstrating that early detection and timely intervention are key to diagnosing and treating ear disease in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, not enough progress has been made in providing culturally safe, accessible and equitable hearing health services.

The interview conducted by the Director of the HEAR Centre at Macquarie University, Professor Catherine McMahon, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health leaders, Professor Tom Calma, Professor Kelvin Kong and Associate Professor Boe Rambaldini examined the problems and solutions for creating better, culturally appropriate services to meet the needs of communities where hearing health problems are being neglected.

To read a transcript of the interview click here.

Image source: Macquarie University website.

Hidden e-cigarette dangers awareness campaign

Young people are urged to quit vaping and know the facts and dangers of e-cigarettes, which can contain harmful substances found in cleaning products, nail polish remover, weed killer and bug spray. NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard and Minister for Education and Early Learning Sarah Mitchell have launched Get the Facts – Vaping Toolkit and NSW Health awareness campaign.

The campaign, which is aimed at secondary students, reminds parents, carers, young people and teachers vaping is not safe and can have harmful, long-term effects to the physical and brain development of young people. Minister Hazzard said that research has proven that e-cigarettes are just as addictive and harmful as regular cigarettes. “It makes it pretty obvious as to the harm it can cause to youngsters’ lungs.”

Many vapes contain nicotine, some at extremely high concentrations, even if they are not labelled as such, and evidence suggests they can lead to a lifelong nicotine addiction. NSW Health has worked with the NSW Department of Education to develop the Vaping Toolkit, which contains evidence-based resources and educational materials for parents, carers, young people and schools, to combat the rising number of children and young people who are trying or taking up vaping.

To view The Pulse article in full click here and the NSW Government NSW Health Do you know what you’re vaping? website page here.

Image source: The Guardian.

New process for job advertising

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

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

Primary Care COVID-19 update

The latest in the series of COVID-19 vaccine updates for Primary Care, providing the latest information on the vaccine rollout will now be held from 11:30 AM – 12:00 PM (AEDT) Thursday 17 March 2022.

The panel this week will be Australian Government Department of health staff, Professor Michael Kidd AM (Chair), Deputy Chief Medical Officer and Dr Lucas de Toca, First Assistant Secretary, COVID-19 Primary Care Response, and Professor Nigel Crawford, Chair, Vaccine Safety, Special Risk Group, Austrlaian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation, who will discuss updates on vaccines and the new COVID-19 oral anti-viral medications.

GPs and all health professionals are welcome to attend the webinar and can join using this link. If you’re unable to view this webinar live, you can view it on-demand using the same link, within a few hours of the live stream ending.

banner DoH Primary Care COVID-19 update Dep CMO - image of DCMO & COVID-19 virus cell

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: COVID-19 outbreak in Cherbourg defies odds

feature tile text 'Cherbourg's well-managed COVID-19 outbreak a model for other ATSI communities' & clinic reception desk Cherbourg

Note: image in feature tile by Jon Daley, ABC Southern Queensland.

COVID-19 outbreak in Cherbourg defies odds

The Aboriginal town of Cherbourg, 250 kilometres north-west of Brisbane, is seemingly defying the odds against the highly contagious Omicron variant. When the first case of the virus was detected on 29 December 2021, authorities feared a rapid spread and high numbers of hospitalisations due to the vulnerable population and comparatively low vaccination rates.

Almost a month later, just two people have been hospitalised and both have since recovered. The daily case numbers in the town are also already slowing. Cherbourg Aboriginal Community Council chief executive Chatur Zala said the town seems to have dodged a bullet. “We have managed the situation very well, which could have gone very badly,” he said.

To read the ABC News article in full click here

Cherbourg Mayor Elvie Sandow at meeting

Cherbourg mayor Elvie Sandow says the community has responded well to health advice. Photo: Jon Daly, ABC Southern Queensland. Image source: ABC News website.

Concerns overcrowding escalating outbreaks

Mayors representing Far North Queensland’s Indigenous communities have raised concerns that overcrowded housing has fuelled COVID outbreaks.

Australia’s biggest Indigenous community, Yarrabah, has amassed about 270 cases in less than a fortnight and 160 households are in quarantine. Some Yarrabah houses are home to as many as 20 people from up to three family groups.

Further north across Cape York and the Torres Strait there are 280 active cases and reports of families testing positive in homes shared with as many as a dozen adults.

North Peninsula Area Regional Council Mayor Patricia Yusia is pleading with visitors to test negative before arriving because of a shortage of quarantine space if they test positive while in the region.

To read the ABC News article in full click here.

Yarrabah Mayor Ross Andrews sitting at his desk

Yarrabah Mayor Ross Andrews says overcrowding is a “recipe” for the spread of COVID. Photo: Mark Rigby, ABC Far North. Image source: ABC News.

Helping mob to stop vaping webinar

NACCHO is again partnering with the TGA and RACGP to deliver a follow-up webinar on the legislative changes affecting access to nicotine vaping products and what the changes might mean for our communities and ACCHOs.

Professor Renee Bittoun from the University of Notre Dame and Avondale University, together with Ms Alice Nugent, ACCHO pharmacist and member of the NACCHO Medicines Advisory Team, will present:

  • An approach to vaping cessation and supporting clients who are dual users
  • Key issues related to vaping in young people including NRT options to consider
  • Validated tools and resources available for assessment and cessation support

The webinar will conclude with a 20-minute Q&A session.

This event attracts 2 CPD points.

The webinar will be held from 12:30–1:30PM (AEDT) on Thursday 27 January 2022. You can register your interest via this link.

If you have any specific questions about vaping you’d like addressed at this webinar please forward them to this email address.

hand of person with vape & smoke

Image source: The Guardian.

NPS MedicineWise seeks consumer rep

NPS MedicineWise is an independent and not-for-profit organisation. Our mission is to achieve better health outcomes for all Australians by promoting safe and wise use of medicines and medical tests.

NPS MedicineWise is looking for a consumer representative to join their Clinical Intervention Advisory Group (CIAG). The CIAG helps select, design, deliver and review NPS MedicineWise programs, resources and services for health professionals and consumers.

The  Group currently consists of 15 members, including consumer representatives, health professional representatives, researchers and representatives from stakeholder organisations.

For more information please see the Terms of Reference (which can be found in the application form).  You can also email Raelene Simpson here or Rawa Osman here. To apply, please complete the application form here. Applications close Tuesday 1 February 2022.

text NPS MEDICINEWISE' on purple background - logo

Indigenous art to promote oral health

As part of an overall commitment to improving the oral health of all Australians, the Australian Dental Association is expanding the range of oral health resources available to assist health professionals, which includes culturally appropriate oral health resources for First Nations peoples for which original Indigenous artwork has been commissioned.

The artwork (below), which is being used on the the new Indigenous Oral health web page, will assist in the development and promotion of First Nations oral health resources, which it is planned will expand in range over 2022 as the ADA works with dental and non-dental organisations to create material that can be used in dental and medical practices.

The artwork was created by professional illustrator and animator Ty Waigana, a proud Noongar and Saibaigal (Torres Strait) man, who was the NAIDOC poster artist for 2020 and is currently exhibiting at the Art Gallery of WA. The artist has also worked on projects for Australian National University, Australian Electoral Commission and the Queensland Child and Family Commission.

You can read the ADA article on a new Indigenous artwork designed to assist in the development and promotion of First Nations oral health resources here.

artwork by Ty Waigani, light blue, green, golden yellow, aqua teeth shapes in row

Artwork by Ty Waigaini. Image source: ADA website.

HOT NORTH Antimicrobial Academy course 

The HOT NORTH Antimicrobial Academy is a 9-month program for 12 Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander health care workers (pharmacists, doctors, nurses or Aboriginal Health Practitioners embedded in clinical care in the north) interested in upskilling in antibiotic use, audit, stewardship, surveillance, and resistance.

Candidate nominations to participate will come from interested health care organisations who support the candidate to develop skills and implement change in their organisation.

The training will include skills in how to:

  1. Perform antimicrobial stewardship audits;
  2. Use surveillance skills to collect, understand and utilise antimicrobial resistance data;
  3. Advocated for antibiotic resistance issues affecting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to policy makers and the National AMR Strategy.

You can obtain further details and the Application Form at the HOT NORTH website here. Submissions close Monday 31 January 2022. Please email here or call (07) 3646 1886 for further informationbanner text 'HOT NORTH Antimicrobial Academy 2022]; vector image of Aust top half layers of green, light orange shades

Art competition closing date extended

The caring@home Indigenous Art Competition closing date has been extended to Friday 25 February 2022. All other details of the competition remain the same as previously advertised.

The online entry form, terms and conditions and more information is available at the caring@home project website here. To view the flyer for the caring@home Indigenous Art Competition click here.

Aboriginal woman holding cuppa, green foliage in background; caring@home ATSI logo

New process for job advertising

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

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