NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Telehealth review shows we could do better

feature tile - Dr assessing cut Aboriginal hand on computer screen; text 'telehealth a game changer for many First Nations people but review shows we could do better'

The image in the feature tile is from an article Telehealth a game changer: closing the gap in remote Aboriginal communities published in The Medical Journal of Australia on 31 March 2019.

The NACCHO Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health News is a platform we use to showcase the important work being done in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health focusing on the work of NACCHO, NACCHO members and NACCHO affiliates.

We also share a curated selection of news stories that are of likely interest to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health sector, broadly.

Telehealth review shows we could do better

Telehealth has been a game changer for many First Nations people globally, including in Australia. It has allowed First Nations people to access health care close to home – whether that’s screening for health issues, diagnosing illness or monitoring existing conditions. It has done this while minimising exposure to COVID. Telehealth uses information and communication technology to deliver health care at a distance. In Australia, this is mainly via phone and video consultations. Telehealth can be delivered by any health-care provider including doctors, nurses, and allied health or ancillary health providers. Telehealth is not a complete replacement for in-person care. But it can be used instead of some face-to-face appointments.

ACCHOs have traditionally provided primary (initial) health care and some specialist care for First Nations people in Australia. Telehealth allows them to provide a greater range of specialist services. So, this allows First Nations people access to care close to home, with optional support from an Indigenous health worker.

A recent review of telehealth for First Nations people – in Australia, Canada, NZ and the US – shows we could do better. Unreliable internet access, services designed without meaningful First Nations’ input, and concerns about establishing rapport with health workers were some of the concerns.

To view The National Tribune article Telehealth has much to offer First Nations people. But technical glitches and a lack of rapport can get in the way in full click here.

stethoscope on wooden surface wrapped around mobile phone with vector stethoscope on its screen

Image source: The University of Queensland Australia, UQ News webpage.

NT-specific solution to health staff shortages

Finding solutions to the dire challenges facing the health workforce in rural and remote areas to better support Territorians, particularly First Nations people, is the focus of the Better Health Futures Symposium being held in Alice Springs today. The Symposium will bring together the diverse perspectives and experience of influential leaders, rural and remote health experts, educators and researchers to address health challenges spanning the NT.

For instance high staff turnover, high job vacancy rates and low staff retention resulting in critical staff shortages. Plus a decline in Aboriginal health practitioners and international medical graduates, clinic closures, clients not visiting a GP and lacking care plans for chronic conditions. The Symposium is presented by Charles Darwin University (CDU) in partnership with Menzies School of Health Research, Central Australian Aboriginal Congress (CAAC), Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance Northern Territory (AMSANT) and NT Health.

AMSANT Acting Chief Executive Officer Dr Donna Ah Chee said the Symposium will help address major health issues, such as the life expectancy of First Nations people in the NT. “While the life expectancy gap in the Northern Territory is still unacceptable there has been substantial improvement over the past two decades, with a nine-year improvement in life expectancy for men and almost five years for women,” Dr Ah Chee said. “Our sector has been critical in leading these gains. However the progress we have made will stall if we do not urgently address the workforce crisis we are now facing. Many of our services are facing severe shortages of health professionals, leading to reduced services and temporary clinic closures.”

To view the CDU article Health workforce lift for NT in Alice Springs in full click here.

3 ATSI participants (2 young females, 1 male) at 2023 Better Futures Symposium, Alice Springs

The 2023 Better Health Futures Symposium in Alice Springs aims to build a robust rural and remote health workforce in, and for, the NT. Image source: CDU Australia News webpage.

Emerging leaders hope to make communities better

Emerging Indigenous leaders from across the Big Rivers region are among a group of 24 participants of the 2023 First Circles Leadership Program. The program aims to build leadership skills and bring new voices from remote communities to the Territory conversation on matters affecting Aboriginal Territorians.

This year, education, health services, infrastructure, housing and telecommunications will be among the topics discussed at the regional workshops, which take place in Darwin, Katherine, Nhulunbuy and Alice Springs until November. The year-long series of intensive workshops culminate in the group addressing all Ministers in the Northern Territory Government Cabinet, presenting ideas on policies, projects and initiatives that could positively impact their communities.

Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Selena Uibo, a First Circles graduate herself, said he had learned firsthand how important this program was in “fostering the next generation of Aboriginal leaders. The program gave me an invaluable opportunity to hone my leadership skills and to work with Government at a grassroots level,” she said. “I look forward to supporting new voices to join the conversation about how to improve lives in remote communities.”

To view the Katherine Times article Emerging leaders hope to ‘make communities better for everyone’ click here.

2023 First Circles Leadership Program participant Leon Kinthari from Wadeye

Leon Kinthari from Wadeye said he joined the 2023 First Circles Leadership Program in a bid to build his skills. Image source: Katherine Times.

World-first framework for remote nursing

The National Rural Health Alliance (the Alliance) congratulates the Government, the National Rural Health Commissioner and all the professional bodies that have worked together to release the National Rural and Remote Nursing Generalist Framework 2023–2027. This Framework supports registered nurses to work to their full ability in rural and remote healthcare settings.

“We see this as a step in the right direction in building a multidisciplinary model of care in rural and remote settings,” said Alliance Chief Executive Susanne Tegen. “We would like to congratulate and we appreciate the work of Minister Emma McBride and Assistant Minister Ged Kearney in working with grassroots nurses, medical and allied health professionals – including dentists, paramedics and pharmacists – to bring sustainable solutions to the healthcare inequities seen in rural Australia,” said Ms Tegen.

The Alliance advocates for the Primary care Rural Integrated Multidisciplinary Health Services (PRIM-HS) model, which is an evidence-based and community-led policy and funding solution to support primary care where markets are failing or communities are without medical and healthcare services. It aims to overcome the professional, financial and social barriers to working rurally. The Framework aligns with the Alliance’s advocacy efforts to bring this multidisciplinary model of care to rural communities and we seek government funding and support to promote PRIM-HS nationwide.

You can view the NRHA media release More support for nurses under world-first framework for rural and remote nursing in full click here.

Fewer kids in detention but more support needed

The number of young people coming into contact with the criminal justice system has fallen in the past five years. However, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children continue to be over-represented under youth justice supervision in every state and territory, according to data released by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).

Indigenous people aged 10-17 are about 24 times more likely to be in detention than other young people. On an average day in 2021-22, almost two-thirds (60%) of people aged 10-17 in detention were Indigenous compared with almost one-third (32%) of adults in prison, the report found. Palawa elder and Amnesty International Australia Indigenous advisor Rodney Dillon said the underlying causes of poverty and inequality needed to be addressed.

Arrernte/Luritja woman Catherine Liddle is the CEO of SNAICC – National Voice for our Children, the peak body that represents Indigenous children in out-of-home care. Ms Liddle said research has consistently shown Indigenous children were more likely than other Australian children to be in out-of-home care, which is a major contributing factor to coming into contact with the criminal justice system. “What we need to do is be putting the dollars into early intervention and looking at ways that we strengthen families so that children don’t hit child protection systems, but rather have the supports that they and their families need,” she said.

To view The Islander article Fewer kids in detention but more support needed click here.

children's hands on bars - one set of hands are Aboriginal

Image source: Law Society of NSW Journal Online.

GRAMS launch competition for No Tobacco Day

As World No Tobacco Day approaches, the Geraldton Regional Aboriginal Medical Service (GRAMS) has thought of a unique approach to tackle smoking in the community with a recipe competition and free cookbook. GRAMS has launched the recipe competition to coincide with this year’s World No Tobacco Day theme of We Want Food Not Tobacco, and are seeking the community’s best recipe entries.

The competition began on Tuesday 7 March and will end on Friday 21 April, with a Tackling Indigenous Smoking Cookbook to be released on Wednesday 31 May during World No Tobacco Day. GRAMS is asking the community to ditch the smokes and get their recipes into the competition, with weekly prizes for the winning recipe. Recipes include family favourites, healthy snacks, sauces and traditional food.

Tackling Indigenous Smoking acting co-ordinator Brent Walker said anyone could submit a recipe and he hoped to see a variety of healthy, traditional food from the local area such as bush fruits, herbs and spices. Mr Walker said GRAMS took up the idea to raise awareness that cigarettes were not that important and to send a message to give up smoking. “It’s making parents and adults aware that providing food for their kids is more important than buying smokes, they’re getting expensive and kids are going to school hungry,” he said.

To view The West Australian article Geraldton Regional Aboriginal Medical Service launch recipe competition for World No Tobacco Day in full click here.

GRAMS employees Brent Walker, Levi Thorne and Neau Simpson

GRAMS employees Brent Walker, Levi Thorne and Neau Simpson. Photo: Tamati Smith, Regional Hub. Image source: The West Australian.

Sector Jobs

Sector Jobs – you can see sector job listings on the NACCHO website here.

Advertising Jobs – to advertise a job vacancy click here to go to the NACCHO website Current job listings webpage. Scroll down to the bottom of the page to find a Post A Job form. You can complete this form with your job vacancy details – it will then be approved for posting and go live on the NACCHO website.

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Birthing service reduces preterm births by 38%

feature tile text Birthing in Our Community services reduces preterm birth rates for ATSI babies by 38%

The image in the feature tile is from an article Indigenous-led birthing program gains international recognition published in the National Indigenous Times on 1 April 2021.

The NACCHO Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health News is a platform we use to showcase the important work being done in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health focusing on the work of NACCHO, NACCHO members and NACCHO affiliates.

We also share a curated selection of news stories that are of likely interest to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health sector, broadly.

Birthing service reduces preterm births by 38%

A birthing service established by three SE Queensland health organisations has reduced preterm birth rates for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander babies by 38% and demonstrated significant cost savings to the health system. Results published in the Lancet Regional Health – Western Pacific this week highlighted improved outcomes for women having a baby through the Birthing in Our Community (BiOC) service. The reduction in preterm birth rates meant that women accessing the program required fewer costly interventions, procedures and neonatal admissions, resulting in savings of $4,810 per mother/baby pair. Additionally, the BiOC service reduced two thirds of women’s out of pocket costs by bringing the service closer to home.

The cost-effectiveness study concluded that replication of the BiOC service across Australia has the potential to reduce the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander babies born preterm by 965 each year, thereby potentially saving the Australian health system $86,994,021 per annum. The BiOC service and model of care was established in 2013 by the Institute for Urban Indigenous Health (IUIH), the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community Health Service (ATSICHS) Brisbane and Mater Health in Brisbane in response to a need for women who are pregnant with an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander baby to access culturally and clinically safe care throughout their pregnancy and at birth.

Ms Renee Blackman, ATSICHS Brisbane CEO, said that “the success of the BiOC service shows what can be achieved when partners work together with a shared vision and a commitment to Aboriginal-led models of care”.

You can view the medianet. article Improved birthing outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families generates savings to the health system in full here and the The Lancet Regional Health Western Pacific research paper (The Lancet Regional Health Western Pacific article Birthing on country service compared to standard care for First Nations Australians: a cost-effectiveness analysis from a health system perspective) in full click here.

IUIH tile Birthing In Our Community, ATSI mum and baby

Image source: Birthing in Our Community North Facebook page.

Disproportionate impact of diabetes on mob

Diabetes WA is calling for greater recognition of the disproportionate impact of diabetes on Aboriginal Communities in WA. Aboriginal West Australians are at far greater risk of diabetes and diabetes-related complications than any other community in the State. Aboriginal West Australians are nearly 40 times more likely to have major lower limb amputation. Aboriginal people living in remote areas have 20 times the incidence of end-stage renal disease compared with the national average. Cataract and diabetic retinopathy continues to be the leading causes of vision loss in Aboriginal people in WA. The diabetes gap is also generational.  Type 2 diabetes in children, once rare, is on the rise.

Gestational diabetes, also more common in Aboriginal Communities, is the fastest growing type of diabetes in WA, with many women remaining undiagnosed while diabetes silently impacts their unborn baby. In some remote communities, 60–70% of people over the age of 65 have type 2 diabetes. Too many older Aboriginal people are living with preventable disabilities as a result of diabetes and its silent damage.

Project Lead for Diabetes WA, Natalie Jetta, is an experienced Aboriginal Health Professional. She says training Aboriginal Health Professionals will make diabetes education more accessible and more culturally safe for Aboriginal West Australians. “We know that Aboriginal Health Professionals are best placed to talk to people within their own Community, because they already have the respect, trust, knowledge and connection they need to nurture their clients,” Natalie says. “We have now trained 20 Aboriginal Health Professionals employed by the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health sector to deliver the Diabetes Education Self Yarning (DESY) program. This will improve the cultural security of this diabetes education program and enable it to be delivered on Country across WA.”

To view the News Medical Life Sciences article Diabetes WA calls for greater recognition of diabetes impact on Aboriginal Communities in full click here.

6 Aboriginal female graduates of the Diabetes WA Diabetes education program - Diabetes Education Self Yarning (DESY)

Graduates of the Diabetes WA Diabetes education program – Diabetes Education Self Yarning (DESY). Image source: News Medical Life Sciences.

Jury is in on vaping – time for action

The jury is in on the harms of vaping, with a new study published in the Medical Journal of Australia today providing the most comprehensive review yet on the health impacts of e-cigarettes. Australian Medical Association (AMA) President Professor Steve Robson said the findings of the study leave zero room for confusion about the dangers of e-cigarettes and vaping. “It’s time for stronger, strictly enforced regulations so we can avoid another public health crisis like tobacco,” Professor Robson said.

“Vaping is not harmless, it is not safe, it is not part of tobacco control. It has become a scourge in our schools, with parents and educators reporting that it has got out of hand. And we are seeing adults and children alike suffering as a result of vaping.” Risks identified in the review include addiction, poisoning, especially in small children, seizures and loss of consciousness caused by nicotine overdose, headache, cough, throat irritation, and burns and injuries, largely caused by exploding batteries.

Another major risk identified by the study was that young non-smokers who use e-cigarettes are around three times as likely to go on to smoke regular cigarettes, compared to young people who did not use e-cigarettes. “Vaping products are a gateway to smoking for young people and there are significant risks from vaping that warrant much stronger regulation. For example, we know many products marketed as not containing nicotine have been found to contain nicotine and products have also been found to contain prohibited chemicals that can cause serious harm, like vitamin E acetate and diacetyl, which can cause serious damage to the lungs.”

To view the AMA’s media release Jury is in on vaping and associated harms – time for action in full click here.

cloud of vape smoke obscuring most of man's face

Image source: ABC News.

RACGP says international medical graduates needed

As Australia’s health system faces a crisis, amid a growing shortage of GPs and mounting pressure on both primary and secondary care services, the RACGP is calling on the Federal Government to support international medical graduates (IMGs). College President Dr Nicole Higgins said the workforce shortage is a significant part of the crisis, and that it is widespread, from general practice to pharmacy and nursing.

She said IMGs could help to address the issue in the short-term, and that many are eager to work in Australia, but are being held back and becoming disillusioned by red tape and a lack of support. “Rural and remote communities are particularly affected,” Dr Higgins said. “But there is a simple solution to boost the number of GPs in the short-term: we can and should be doing much more to attract IMGs to Australia, and to support and retain them as valuable community members. This includes cutting red tape and making the application process easier for doctors who want to work in areas of need.”

To view the RACGP newsGP article IMGs a ‘simple solution’ to boost GP numbers: RACGP in full click here.

RACGP President Dr Nicole Higgins

RACGP President Dr Nicole Higgins says barriers to overseas doctors wanting to work in Australia make no sense amid crisis. Photo: Jono Searle/AAP Photos. Image source: Bunbury Mail.

Sector Jobs

Sector Jobs – you can see sector job listings on the NACCHO website here.

Advertising Jobs – to advertise a job vacancy click here to go to the NACCHO website Current job listings webpage. Scroll down to the bottom of the page to find a Post A Job form. You can complete this form with your job vacancy details – it will then be approved for posting and go live on the NACCHO website.

International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination

Minister for Immigration, Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs, Andrew Giles, says every year in March, Australians come together to mark Harmony Week, culminating in the observance of the United Nations International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination on the 21 March. Australia is one of the world’s most successful multicultural nations. We are home to the world’s oldest continuous cultures as well as migrants from nearly 200 countries.

This week schools, workplaces and community groups will reflect on this diversity by participating in events across the country and nearly 7000 people from more than 120 countries will become new citizens. Multiculturalism is integral to our national identity- but we cannot take it for granted. This International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination marks 75 years since the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and focuses on the urgent need to combat racism and racial discrimination.

To view Minister Giles’ media release Harmony Week and International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination in full click here. You can find more information about International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination on the United Nations website here.

tile text International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination March 21

Image source: Ontario Nurses’ Association website 14 March 2023.

World Down Syndrome Day

Today, Tuesday 21 March 2023, is World Down Syndrome Day. World Down Syndrome Day aims to celebrate the progress that has been made over the last 50 years and, in particular, over the last 10 years. Progress is often made in small steps, sometimes pausing to review our journey, but always aware of how far we have come and the difference that our small steps make to the day-to-day life of people living with disability.

As part of the worldwide celebrations, World Down Syndrome Day lights up buildings of significance. This is referred to as ‘Light up a Landmark’. Buildings that have been lit up previously, include: Palais des Nation – UN Geneva; The Empire State Building – NY; Eiffel Tower – Paris; Tower 42 – London and Belfast City Hall – Ireland. Once the buildings are lit up, images are taken and shared on Social Media to build awareness and engagement throughout the world. This year the iconic Canberra Grammar School Quad will be the first in Australia to take part in this international event!

Dietitians Week 20–26 March 2023

Today is Day 2 of Dietitians Week 2023. When it comes to managing health through food and nutrition, a dietitian should be your first port of call. Ongoing and specialised education ensures dietitians are the reliable choice for life-changing food and nutrition support. Because we all have our own unique goals, challenges and lifestyles, Accredited Practising Dietitians understand that our health is not a one-size fits all approach. They are trained to offer personalised health advice that is fine-tuned to a person’s specific needs.  Dietitians Australia has an Indigenous nutrition role statement, available here, which listed the knowledge and skills of an APD working in the area of Indigenous nutrition.

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Genuine engagement needed over consultation

feature tile text 'NACCHO Chairperson tells conference that Governments need to recognise they do not have the answers; image of Donnella Mills

The image in the feature tile has been extracted from a YouTube video of NACCHO Chair Donnella Mills sharing her message on COIVD-19 and the vaccines in early 2021.

The NACCHO Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health News is a platform we use to showcase the important work being done in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health focusing on the work of NACCHO, NACCHO members and NACCHO affiliates.

We also share a curated selection of news stories that are of likely interest to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health sector, broadly.

Genuine engagement needed over consultation

The Australia and NZ School of Government’s (ANZSOG’s) 2023 First Nations Public Administration Conference, held earlier this month, focused on the importance of genuine engagement rather than consultation. Delegates supported a strengths-based approach to policy and programs which recognised First Nations knowledge and culture. The conference was divided into four sessions based around the priority reforms of the National Agreement on Closing the Gap. These were: formal partnerships and shared decision-making; building the First Nations community-controlled sector; transforming Government organisations, and shared data and access to information.

Chair of the NACCHO, Donnella Mills told the conference that Governments needed to recognise they did not have the answers, and that Indigenous people would “work harder than anyone else to take care of our people”. She said structural reform was needed to change the way power was distributed. “If the National Agreement on Closing the Gap isn’t on your desk; if you can’t rattle off the priority reforms, if your Agency hasn’t resourced it — you need to lean in, and quickly. We are now in a new way of operating,” Ms Mills said.

The conference featured more than 20 First Nations speakers who discussed the transformation that was happening in First Nations policy. They outlined how approaches that included First Nations knowledge, perspectives and values could serve the wider public and First Nations interests — and how Governments needed to change to better serve First Nations communities.

To view the PS News article ANZSOC conference backs PS Indigenous in full click here.

portrait shots of John Paterson, AMSANT CEO & Robert Skeen, AH&MRC CEO

AMSANT CEO John Paterson and AH&MRC CEO Robert Skeen, were both speakers on Day Two of the conference. Image sources: ANZSOG website and AH&MRC website.

$32m+ for First Nations health research projects

Through the Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF), nearly 200 ground-breaking medical research projects will share in more than $382m in grants, including more than $32m to improve First Nations health. The projects will help Australia’s outstanding medical researchers, including clinician researchers, discover new ways to diagnose, treat and care for people with a variety of health conditions. They will also support early and mid-career researchers and give more Australians access to clinical trials.

Research projects on cardiovascular disease, primary and preventive health care, respiratory diseases, maternal health, mental health and First Nations health, will receive funding to progress important work.

Two innovative First Nations-led projects to receive funding are:

University of Newcastle – $2m  Gulibaa (Coolamon) Project
This will be a co-designed model of care supporting Aboriginal mothers across NSW to be smoke-free in pregnancy and beyond. The project will co-design, embed in Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services, and evaluate a group-based smoking cessation program.

The Sax Institute – $1.5m  Healthy Ageing for Aboriginal people
This project will evaluate the implementation and uptake of prevention programs to support healthy ageing amongst Aboriginal people. The Institute will collaborate with Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services which run holistic and culturally safe preventive healthy ageing programs for their communities.

Of the 193 projects funded, 19 grants worth more than $32.3m are related to First Nations health and a further 13 grants worth more than $16.9m are related to mental health.

To view the Hon Mark Butler MP, Minister for Health and Aged Care’s media release Nearly $400 million for exceptional medical research projects including projects to improve First Nations health in full click here.

Aboriginal woman's hands on pregnant belly; male & 2 female ATSAI Elders, MRFF logo

Image sources: SBS; Aged Care Online website; Australian Government Department of Health and Aged Care.

Program to help teens get a good night’s sleep

Karen Chong is the world’s first Indigenous sleep coach. “We are the people of the Dreamtime with the oldest continuing culture shaped by dreams, which is why I became a sleep coach and I want to train others,” she said. Mother of seven and grandmother of 10 Ms Chong, a Waanyi Garawa Gangalida woman, knows all too well how much harder parenting can be if your kids aren’t sleeping properly. “If they weren’t having a proper night’s sleep, they were waking up cranky and moody and it affects their eating too,” she said. “The biggest issue I’ve had with my two girls is that they want to stay up all night on their phones – if you’re a parent you’ll know what kids are like.”

The University of Queensland and Beyond Blue have partnered to deliver culturally responsive sleep health services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adolescents in Queensland. Project lead Associate Professor Yaqoot Fatima from UQ’s Poche Centre for Indigenous Health said Indigenous teens experience up to twice the rates of poor sleep as other adolescents. “Poor sleep can be caused by medical conditions like sleep apnoea and restless leg syndrome, or behavioural issues such as an irregular bedtime, late nights, and not getting enough sleep,” she said.

“Indigenous adolescents sleep better when they feel connected to their culture, which is why this program is important.” The 10-week Sleep for Strong Souls program is holding workshops with more than a hundred 12-18-year-olds in north and western Queensland communities.

To view the Kyabram Free Press article Indigenous sleep coach wants a score of 40 winks all in full click here.

ATSI teenage school kids looking at table of Sleep for Strong Souls program resources with coach

The Sleep for Strong Souls program is aiming to help Indigenous teenagers get a good night’s sleep. Image source: Kyabram Free Press.

Conference to examine rural health challenges

The challenges facing the rural health system are well-documented and well-known: difficulty attracting and retaining staff, fewer resources, lack of access to services, and building capacity and resilience in times of disaster and emergency. The 2023 Shoalhaven Rural Health Research Conference aims to unpack many of these issues, and more, while focusing on how to improve rural health services through collaboration, research and innovation.

The inaugural, nation-wide conference will be held at the University of Wollongong’s (UOW) Shoalhaven Campus on Saturday 18 March 2023 with a theme of Connection and Capacity Building. Associate Professor Marlene Longbottom ,a proud Yuin woman from Roseby Park (Jerrinja) Mission in the Shoalhaven, will deliver the keynote address, titled ‘Connection and Country’.

As Principal Research Fellow at the Ngarruwan Ngadju First Peoples Health and Wellbeing Research Centre at UOW, Associate Professor Longbottom has worked extensively in the health and human services sector with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities from urban, regional and remote areas of New South Wales, Queensland and the Northern Territory. The keynote address will be followed by a series of workshops on the rural health and research landscape, hosted by UOW academics and primary healthcare professional across the fields of dietetics and nutrition, nursing, medicine and Indigenous health.

To view the University of Wollongong Australia article Inaugural conference to examine acute challenges facing rural health system in full click here.

portrait of Associate Professor Marlene Longbottom, University of Wollongong

Associate Professor Marlene Longbottom. Image source: LinkedIn.

Scholarship opportunities for First Nations nurses

As part of the Australian College of Nursing’s (ACN) commitment to advancing the nursing profession, the ACN Foundation has just released scholarships, grants and awards exclusively available to First Nations nurses to advance their nursing careers. Applications for the below scholarships are now open:

Graduate Certificate Nursing Scholarship, Sponsored by Johnson & Johnson Family of Companies – 20 scholarships are available for registered nurses to undertake selected ACN Graduate Certificate courses including Cancer Nursing, Community and Primary Health Care Nursing, Critical Care Nursing, Digital Health, Leadership and Management, Orthopaedic Nursing or Perioperative Nursing. Of the twenty available, five scholarships will be allocated to First Nations nurses and five will be allocated to nurses working in rural and remote areas of Australia.

Graduate Certificate Scholarships for First Nations nurses, Sponsored by HESTA – two scholarships are available for First Nations registered nurses to complete an ACN Graduate Certificate course of their choice out of ACN’s Graduate Certificate in Leadership and Management, Aged Care Nursing, Perioperative Nursing, Critical Care Nursing or Community and Primary Health Care Nursing, commencing in July 2023.

If you are not at a career stage to apply for a postgraduate nursing scholarship, discover ACN’s scholarships for undergraduates, nursing leadership courses, research and more on their website here.

Applications close 11:59 PM AEDT – Monday 3 April 2023. To apply click here.

Australian College of Nursing Foundation Grants and Awards, HESTA tile; text 'Graduate Certificate Scholarships for First Nations Nurses; photo of ATSI female student

Sector Jobs

Sector Jobs – you can see sector job listings on the NACCHO website here.

Advertising Jobs – to advertise a job vacancy click here to go to the NACCHO website Current job listings webpage. Scroll down to the bottom of the page to find a Post A Job form. You can complete this form with your job vacancy details – it will then be approved for posting and go live on the NACCHO website.

National Close the Gap Day

National Close the Gap Day is being held tomorrow, Thursday 16 March 2023, to raise community awareness about health inequalities facing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. In the SBS News – News in Depth broadcast Health differences for First Nations people targets on Close the Gap Day,available here, Karl Briscoe, CEO of the National Association of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workers and Practitioners (NAATSIHWP) said “we believe the Close the Gap campaign priority reform areas are the biggest areas that will get the better gains that are required to close the gap”. Mr Briscoe said First Nations people must have access to appropriate housing, he said that with “Rheumatic Heart Disease (RHD) a fix that can be done straight away is adequate housing, we know that overcrowding is a huge component of RHD being prevalent within Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and it is really quite solvable by having adequate housing.”

In this broadcast, Dr Thalia Anthony, University of Sydney Law Professor commented on the National Agreement on Closing the Gap target of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults and young people not being overrepresented in the criminal justice system.

banner SBS News, News in Depth, text: Health differences for First Nations people targeted on Close the Gap Day; image of Uni of Sydney Law Professor Thalia Anthony

University of Sydney Law Professor Thalia Anthony. Image source: SBS News.

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: ACCHOs exemplars of comprehensive primary healthcare

The image in the feature tile is of Uncle Patrick Dodson receiving a COVID-19 vaccination at the Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health and Community Services (WNAH&CS) Canberra, ACT. Image source: WNAH&CS Facebook page, 6 August 2021.

ACCHOs exemplars of comprehensive primary healthcare

System-wide and comprehensive primary healthcare reform is “needed to bring together an increasingly fragmented system, where the most disadvantaged struggle to get the care they need, when they need it”, according to public health practitioner and Masters of Global Health student Lauren Richardson. In a submission to the Public Health Association of Australia’s Student Think Tank competition, Richardson calls on governments to show strong political commitment and leadership to reduce inequalities in accessing healthcare.

Richardson said Health Ministers face many demands from many competing interests, and this has led to health policy being driven in ways that often are not in the best interests of the community, patients’ and taxpayers. The election of a new Federal Government with a commitment to policy development and implementation brings an opportunity to rewrite the history of health reform and prioritise efforts to increase Australians’ access to comprehensive Primary Health Care (PHC).

So often, Richardson said, reform and public debate is focused on general practice rather than the multi-disciplinary PHC model required to deliver good health care. Whilst GPs deliver the majority of PHC in Australia, comprehensive PHC involves much more than this. According to Richardson the ACCHO sector provides exemplars of good, comprehensive PHC, with Aboriginal communities  successfully initiating and  leading the delivery of holistic, and culturally appropriate PHC through a team-based workforce model. Richardson argues we must focus our attention to good PHC models of care like this and scale up what works.

To view the Croakey Health Media article Seize the opportunity: prioritise comprehensive primary healthcare reform in full click here.

Umoona Tjutagku Health Service Aboriginal Corporation (UTHS), Coober Pedy, SA. Image source: UTHS.

Australia’s oldest AMS celebrates 50 years

800 guests joined the Aboriginal Medical Service Co-operative (AMS Redfern) to celebrate 50 years (+1 for Covid) of outstanding achievements at a gala dinner at the International Convention & Exhibition Centre (ICC) Darling Harbour on 26 November 2022. The night of celebration was emceed by Walkley Award winning journalist Karla Grant and featured several live acts including, The Donovan Band, Jarrod Hicling, Kebi Kub Dancers ad The Brolga Dance Academy.

Welcome to Country by Gadigal Elder Allen Madden, speeches by the Honourable Linda Burney MP, Aunty Gracelyn Smallwood, Professor Kelvin Kong (Worimi man and the first Aboriginal surgeon in Australia), Aunty Dulcie Flower and also from AMS Redfern Chair Edie Coe, CEO LaVerne Bellear and Director Ricky Lyons traced the organisation’s history and impact.

AMS Redfern pioneered the concept of Aboriginal Community Controlled Healthcare and was founded to provide healthcare services to the local Aboriginal community. AMS Redfern is underpinned by the principles of self-determination and worked hard to overcome the neglect and racism Aboriginal people were experiencing in mainstream health services.

To view The South Sydney Herald article Australia’s oldest Aboriginal medical service celebrates 50th anniversary in full click here.

A gala dinner at the ICC Darling Harbour in November paid tribute to the Aboriginal Medical Service Co-operative for 50 years of outstanding achievement. Photo: AMS Redfern. Image source: The South Sydney Herald.

Thrive by Five welcomes $335m investment

Minderoo Foundation’s Thrive by Five initiative has welcomed the Federal Government’s $334 million investment into Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders early childhood education and care (ECEC). The Federal Government says the new programs and extension of existing funding will help 100,000 children across the country.

The investment, which will supplement current Commonwealth and State and Territory funding, will include a range of activities including facilitated playgroups in Alice Springs and SA’s Far West Coast and early childhood education programs in WA’s East Kimberley region. The Federal Government’s $334 million investment will continue until 2025 and is part of a broader commitment to the National Agreement for Closing the Gap.

To view the Minderoo Foundation’s media release Thrive by Five welcomes Federal Government’s $334 million investment in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Early Education click here.

Image source: University of Melbourne.

WA Cultural Treasures Award recipients

The WA Clutural Treasures Awards (previously known as the State Living Treasures Awards) were inaugurated in 1998 to honour senior WA artists who have made a lifelong contribution to their art form and their community. The awards acknowledge the ability of recipients to engage, move, involve and entertain audiences and honour the skill, imagination and originality of the artist.

The WA awards were again presented in 2004 and 2015 to honour and celebrate the diversity, talent and richness of a new group of individual artists. A distinguished panel selected recipients based on their exceptional level of artistic skill and dedication to developing their particular art form, their contribution in teaching and collaborating with other artists, as well as a demonstrated long- term involvement in the arts in WA.

The 2022 State Cultural Treasures Awards have seen a new category of community impact being introduced, acknowledging the impact community arts organisations have within their communities and on WA as a whole. Below is a video of one of the eight State Cultural Treasures 2022 award recipients, Jabbir Jabirr and Djugan Kimberley Lawman, Wayne Jowandi Barker, in the Community Impact – Individual category.

To view the Government of WA Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries article State Cultural Treasures 2022 in full click here.

55 days left for wellbeing budget consultation

The health sector, and particularly the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health sector with its holistic approach to addressing the cultural and social determinants of health and wellbeing, has much to contribute to Treasury’s consultation on developing Wellbeing Budgets. As of 7 December 2022 Treasury’s website says there are only “56 days left to have your say” on the “Measuring what Matters” framework, outlined in the recent Federal Budget.

The framework is an opportunity to address climate concerns and the social determinants of health, a Consumers Health Forum (CHF) of Australia event was told recently. Melissa Le Mesurier, who MC-d the event, reports below. More than 30 members of CHF recently examined the opportunities and risks posed by the Australian Government’s proposed Wellbeing Budget.

“The forum was designed to help organisations, particularly in the health and social service sectors, shape their submissions to Treasury on how Australia might better measure what matters,” CHF CEO Dr Elizabeth Deveny said.“For those countries that already have wellbeing frameworks, the policy areas covered include income, employment, education, environment, personal safety and health. These are all social determinants of health and CHF has been actively involved in policy discussions around each of these issues. Submissions to Treasury close on Thursday 31 January 2023 so there is limited time to consider this important and broad-reaching topic,” Deveny said.

To read the Croakey Health Media article With just 56 days left on wellbeing budget consultation, putting some issues and questions on the radar in full click here.

Image designed by Mitchel Ward, reflecting cultural and social determinants of health and wellbeing. Image source: Croakey Health Media.

Amazing race to walk away from smoking

A swarm of people in white shirts could be seen running around Coonamble last Wednesday 30 November 2022, twelve teams took on the Amazing Race challenge as a part of Quit B Fit’s ‘Walking away from Smoking and Vaping’ day. Quit B Fit works in partnership with the Wellington Aboriginal Corporation Health Service (WACHS) to reach Close the Gap targets.

More specifically, Quit B Fit focuses on ‘Tackling Indigenous Smoking’, through a series of community health promotion days like the Amazing Race challenge. Australia has been fighting the smoking habit for decades now, and while there is still progress to be made, it’s a battle we’re slowly winning.

In 2021, the Cancer Council found that 38% of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population are daily smokers, compared to the national average of 11.6%. As concerning as this statistic may seem, it is still a far cry from the 53.1% of Indigenous Australians that smoked in 2002 – that’s a 15% reduction over twenty years! Smoking in Coonamble is also significantly higher than the national average; a study from the University of NSW in 2015 found that 24.5% of Coonamble smoked daily – compared to a national average of 15%.

To view the Western Plains App article Amazing Race to walk away from smoking in full click here.

Kym Lees, Jyo Raman, Elsie Manson and Jess Blattman participated in the Amazing Race. Image source: Coonamble Times.

Sector Jobs

Sector Jobs – you can see sector job listings on the NACCHO website here.

Advertising Jobs – to advertise a job vacancy click here to go to the NACCHO website Current job listings webpage. Scroll down to the bottom of the page to find a Post A Job form. You can complete this form with your job vacancy details – it will then be approved for posting and go live on the NACCHO website.

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Youth justice funding response to rising public alarm

The image in the feature tile is from an article WA government announces funding boost for youth justice reforms in the face of growing pressure published in the National Indigenous Times on 27 November 2022. Photo: Govanni Torre.

Youth justice funding response to rising public alarm

After a long-running campaign and in the face of rising public alarm, the WA government has announced a $63m package it says will address the crisis in youth detention. The funding and reform plan is intended to deliver expanded mental health care, improved conditions and more education and vocational training in youth detention.

This comes in addition to funding announced earlier for building upgrades and to tackle the long-running dire staff shortages that saw the excessive use of lockdowns in the system. “The public rightfully expects that community safety is paramount. It is also vital to break the cycle of crime for young people,” Premier Mark McGowan said.

Former Inspector of Custodial Services, Professor Neil Morgan, has noted repeatedly that the high rate of re-offending among former Banksia Hill detainees, around 70%, indicated the failure of the system. Indigenous youth are radically overrepresentated in the children detained at Banksia Hill and Casuarina Prison’s Unit 18.

Premier McGowan recently met with a small group of advocates at a summit called in the wake of disturbing footage from within Banksia Hill being broadcast by state and national media. Human rights advocate Megan Krakouer, who has worked with hundreds of current and former Banksia Hill detainees building a class action case, said that “more than half of the newly announced spend is on upgrading cells”.

To view the National Indigenous Times article WA government announces funding boost for youth justice reforms in the face of growing pressure in full click here.

A related article Fiona Stanley and advocates urge for inquiry, greater Indigenous involvement in rehabilitation in juvenile detention was published earlier today by ABC News and is available here.

Fiona Stanley says Indigenous people have answers to problems facing the youth justice system. Photo: Cason Ho, ABC News.

SCMSAC celebrates 40 years

The Nowra Showground came alive as mob celebrated four decades of the South Coast Medical Service Aboriginal Corporation (SCMSAC) on Friday. Elders and school students united in song and dance to champion and reflect on the incredible work done by so many part of the organisation.

In 1982, Jane Ardler along with a number of local leaders formed the corporation, with the aim of achieving accessible and effective health care for Aboriginal communities with a focus on prevention and self-determination. The service started with just a single doctor working one day in a small meeting room at the cultural centre in Nowra.

Now 40 years on, the corporation has a proud team of over 120 employees, spread across eight locations, spanning from the head office in Nowra down to the Victorian border.

To read the Illawarra Mercury article South Coast Medical Service Aboriginal Corporation celebrates four decades of self-determination in full click here.

The Nowra Showground came alive as mob celebrated four decades of the South Coast Medical Service Aboriginal Corporation on Friday 25 November 2022.

Supporting students into tertiary studies

The vital knowledge of First Nations people will be harnessed in a new program to support students into tertiary studies in health, education, and arts. In January 2023, Charles Darwin University (CDU) will launch the First Nations Introduction to University for Health, Education, and Arts students, a taste of university for students interested in a career in health, education or arts.

Split into two interlinked units, the program will give foundational academic skills and knowledge in the students proposed future study area. The program was co-designed with First Nation and non-First Nation educators and professionals and will include guest speakers from local organisations.

Co-developer and Gudanji and Wakaja woman Dr Debra Dank said the inclusive program aimed to empower students and give them confidence to use and expand their knowledge.

To view the Charles Darwin University article New program to guide First Nations students into health, education and arts in full click here.

Image source: Charles Darwin University website.

Early Childhood Voice Conference 2022

Charles Sturt University is hosting a major early childhood education and research conference online from Monday 5 to Friday 9 December 2022 featuring international experts from Luxembourg, Canada, the USA and Australia as keynote speakers.

One of the keynote speakers will be Dr Hontel Givson  by Dr Chontel Gibson, a Kamilaroi woman from north-western NSW, who presentation is titled ‘Valuing Indigenous peoples and their health and wellbeing in early childcare services’. Dr Gibson graduated as an occupational therapist in 2000, was awarded a Master of Public Health in 2010, and a Doctorate of Philosophy relating to Aboriginal health and wellbeing in 2018. She has worked as an occupational therapist, policy officer and academic, and has held many leadership roles, including Board Director of Occupational Therapy Australia and the inaugural Deputy Chairperson for Indigenous Allied Health Australia.

Dr Gibson co-developed and continues co-chairing the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Occupational Therapy Network, which provides strategic advice on occupational therapy. She is currently managing the ‘Good for Kids. Good for Life’ team that supports early childhood education and care (ECEC) services in the NSW Hunter-New England region to implement health promoting practices in-line with ‘Munch and Move’.

To view the Charles Sturt University article Leading experts to speak at online Early Childhood Voices 2022 Conference in full click here.

iSISTAQUIT – change starts with a chat

For centuries, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People have been yarning with each other, utilising collective knowledge to solve complex problems. Through the iSISTAQUIT (implementing Supporting Indigenous Smokers to Assist Quitting) program, health providers are being trained and empowered to start a chat with pregnant women who smoke tobacco to encourage them to quit smoking, and empower Indigenous women to connect with health services that are trained and ready to assist.

All health providers understand the importance of quitting smoking, especially during pregnancy. Quitting smoking in pregnancy not only improves infant health outcomes such as birth weight and gestational age it also improves the health and wellbeing of the woman, her family and the entire community. Most Indigenous pregnant women want to quit smoking but may not get enough culturally appropriate guidance, resourcs and support from health providers.

It is not that health providers lack motivation to provide smoking cessation assistance. The issue is that Australian GPs and other health care workers who provide care to pregnant women often find themselves ill-equipped to provide smoking cessation care to Indigenous pregnant mums. In a study of 378 GPs and obstetricians, more than 75% agreed that training would help them provide better smoking cessation care in pregnancy.

To view the Insight Plus article Change starts with a chat – connecting through iSISTAQUIT in full click here.

Massive GP problems in coming years

The more than 1,500 RACGP members attending the GP22 conference were left in no doubt about the scale of the problems facing general practice in the coming years. Continued underinvestment, current and projected workforce shortages, and the erosion of their place in the healthcare system were at the top of the agenda. However, attendees also received insights into the amount of behind-the-scenes work the college has been doing to reverse this burgeoning crisis, as well as a path towards a brighter, more sustainable future.

Outgoing President Adjunct Professor Karen Price spoke about the challenges of her two-year term and thanked members for their tireless and much needed efforts. But she also warned about the need to redouble efforts to combat the coming headwinds. “We have endured another exhausting 12 months; however, you should all hold your heads high,” she said. “You have to delivered millions of COVID vaccines and boosters, flu vaccines, cared for patients who delayed or avoided screenings and consults during the pandemic, [and] we’ve helped those with mental health [concerns] and will continue to do so.”

“We achieved all of this despite many of the nation’s leaders and media commentators not fully appreciating the immense challenges and the complexity that we face every day – nor do they understand the value of our work. As professionals we must actively and rebelliously resist. We must declare that we are the experts in complexity and in general practice. We need meaningful reform backed by real investment. And as I’m fond of saying … reform without reinvestment is just red tape. We must draw more future GPs to the profession. We must keep the GPs we have. We must ensure high quality care is available to all patients in all corners of Australia. And we must secure the future of general practice care for years to come.”

To view the newsGP article Message of hope kicks off GP22 click here.

More than 1500 people have travelled to Melbourne to attend GP22 in-person. Photo: Adam Thomas, Image source: newsGP.

Sector Jobs

Sector Jobs – you can see sector job listings on the NACCHO website here.

Advertising Jobs – to advertise a job vacancy click here to go to the NACCHO website Current job listings webpage. Scroll down to the bottom of the page to find a Post A Job form. You can complete this form with your job vacancy details – it will then be approved for posting and go live on the NACCHO website.

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Get hair this Movember!

The image in the feature tile is a a Twitter post from Kambu Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Corporation for Health promoting their Movember event held at their Ipswich clinic, Queensland on 27 November 2020.

Get hairy this Movember!

Movember is the leading global charity changing the face of men’s health, focusing on mental health and suicide prevention, prostate cancer and testicular cancer. Since 2003, Movember has funded more than 1,250 men’s health projects around the world. Movember has set the goal of reducing the number of men dying prematurely by 25 and halve the number of deaths from prostate and testicular cancer by 2030.

For more information visit the Movember website here. This website includes examples of projects funded by Movember such as (1) Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Men’s research, a 12 month research grant to conduct research into common mental disorders among Koori Men, and to identify, test and investigate whether treatment for common mental disorders results in an improvement in general health and wellbeing of Koori Men; and (2) Mibbinbah, otherwise known as ‘Men’s Spaces’, an organisation, program and concept that centres on the idea that men require safe spaces within their communities to discuss issues and share experiences. This conceptual basis is similar to that of the Men’s Sheds program.

NACCHO staff participants of the 2022 Movember challenge.

Calls for data after NT alcohol bans lifted

A lobby group has called on the NT to release more data illustrating the extent of the harm caused, since long-term alcohol bans were lifted across dozens of Indigenous communities in July this year. There is particular concern around the level of alcohol-related harm occurring in the Central Australian town of Alice Springs, which serves as a services hub for dozens of surrounding communities.

While the NT government said there had been “no substantial increases” in harm to the community since the Stronger Futures legislation ended, police and other frontline organisations have told a different story about the impact alcohol is having. In the the latest NT Police statistics, there was a 159% jump in assaults involving alcohol in Alice Springs in August 2022, compared to the same period last year.

But the extent of the harm cannot be fully captured without additional data being from the NT government, according to leading alcohol reform lobby group People’s Alcohol Action Coalition (PAAC). PAAC spokesperson John Boffa said the number of assaults causing serious harm — broken down by region — was a key data set held by the government.

To view the ABC News article Alcohol data dashboard still in the works after bans lifted, as assaults surge in Alice Springs in full click here.

Dr Boffa wants real-time data on alcohol harm to be made public. Photo: Tobias Hunt, ABC News.

Lowitja Institute Major Grant Round webinar

Lowitja Institute’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Major Grant Round 2022-23 is now open for applications.

The purpose of the Major Grants is to support innovative and responsive community research led by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community controlled organisations to improve the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. The aim is for research to influence policy and practice through the rapid translation of community priorities for improved outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and wellbeing. It will also support the capability and capacity building of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations to do their own research, their way.

Applications are now open and close on Monday 21 November 2022. More information can be found on the Lowitja Institute website here.

Following success of the first Q&A webinar held on Friday 28 October 2022, and with the closing date for applications fast approaching, the Lowitja Institue Research and Knowledge Translation team will be hosting a second webinar to answer any questions community organisations may have with the application process.

The webinar will be hosted on Friday 4 November 2022 at 12.30pm AEDT. You can sign up for the webinar here.

Background image from Bond University website.

Campaign to bust end-of-life services myths

A new campaign placing the spotlight on palliative care services for Indigenous people has been launched by Australia’s health sector. Palliative Care Australia’s (PCA) Federal Government-funded More Than You Think campaign launched in September to prompt conversations and connect people to end-of-life care and support.

Palliative Care Australia chief executive Camilla Rowland said the campaign was challenging misconceptions about the service. “The campaign helps communities tap into the support that is currently available and builds awareness of some to the questions this stage of life can prompt, but our friends in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health sector tell us that much more needs to be done,” she said. “PCA has engaged with a group of Aboriginal health leaders to create the Palliative Care Yarning Circle to offer advice on existing programs and consider next steps. “It’s important to us that this work is led and shaped by the people it seeks to serve.”

Ms Rowland said cultural sensitivities needed to be understood for culturally appropriate care to be delivered. Complementing the More Than You Think campaign and PCA’s ongoing advocacy is the grassroots work of the Indigenous Program Experience in Palliative Approach (IPEPA), Caring@Home, and the Gwandalan Palliative Care Project.

To view the National Indigenous Times article Palliative Care Australia launches campaign to bust myths about end-of-life services in full click here. The video below is part of the animation series: Demystifying palliative care and dying for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples available on the Palliative Care NSW website here.

Making all equal at front door of health system

Following the outcome of this year’s Federal Election, Health Minister Mark Butler convened the Strengthening Medicare Taskforce (SMT). At its first meeting, the SMT established five focus areas to guide its recommendations to the Australian Minister of Health and Aged Care. The fifth focus area is to provide “universal health care and access for all through health care that is inclusive and reduces disadvantage.”

Providing universal healthcare means every person needs to be equal at the front door of the health system. It is well established that “where you live, how much you earn, whether you have a disability, your access to services and many other factors can affect your health”. These issues are compounded by issues related to funding models, workforce capacity and workforce distribution.

Planning true universal health care requires recognition of the health issues facing our most marginalised members of society. The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) states that: Overall, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, people from areas of socioeconomic disadvantage, people in rural and remote locations, and people with disability experience more health disadvantages than other Australians. These disadvantages can include higher rates of illness and shorter life expectancy. Further, the AIHW reports that While many aspects of Indigenous health have improved, challenges still exist. Indigenous Australians have a shorter life expectancy than non-Indigenous Australians and are at least twice as likely to rate their health as fair or poor.

To view the article The Strengthening Medicare Taskforce: Making everyone equal at the front door of the health system in full click here.

Image source: STAT+.

Sector Jobs

Sector Jobs – you can see sector job listings on the NACCHO website here.

Advertising Jobs – to advertise a job vacancy click here to go to the NACCHO website Current job listings webpage. Scroll down to the bottom of the page to find a Post A Job form. You can complete this form with your job vacancy details – it will then be approved for posting and go live on the NACCHO website.

Lung Cancer Awareness Month

Lung Cancer Awareness Month is observed annually in November and highlights the need for more research to be conducted while cultivating a better understanding of the disease. This is an important time of the year, that brings the community together to help provide awareness, and to inform and educate people on the signs and symptoms of the disease. It is the fifth most common cancer in Australia, with around 12,000 Australians diagnosed each year. In 2015, 11,788 new cases of lung cancer were diagnosed in Australia, this equates to nearly 9% of all cancers that were diagnosed that year. In 2016, 8410 deaths were caused by lung cancer in Australia.

According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) report Cancer in Australia 2021 lung cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and the leading cause of cancer-related mortality. If lung cancer is found at an earlier stage, there is more chance of a better outcome. It’s important to know the symptoms of lung cancer as although lung cancer occurs mostly in people aged 60 and over, it can affect people of any age. New and constantly evolving treatments such as immunotherapy are likely to continue to improve outcomes for people affected by lung cancer.

You can find more information about lung cancer on the Lung Foundation Australia website here.

Image source: MNA Group Limited website.

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Redesigning maternity services for mob

The image in the feature tile is from the Holistic Care With No Limits – Empowering the Aboriginal Community on Darkinjung Country webpage of the Yerin Eleanor Duncan Aboriginal Health Services (Central Coast, Darkinjung Country) website.

Redesigning maternity services for mob

Earlier this week more than 250 representatives from First Nations communities, health services, universities and research institutes, came together in Mparntwe (Alice Springs) to explore the scope for system-wide reform to secure the ‘best start to life’ for First Nations babies and their families.

The 2022 Best Start to Life Conference: a national gathering in Mparntwe was co-hosted by Molly Wardagugu Research Centre, Charles Darwin University (CDU) and Central Australian Aboriginal Congress (CAAC) to improve maternity services for First Nations communities and, ultimately, reduce maternal health inequities in the NT.

The Charles Darwin Universities’s Co-Director at CDU’s Molly Wardaguga Research Centre and Indigenous Health Professor Yvette Roe, who is a Njikena Jawuru woman from the West Kimberly region, WA, who grew up in Darwin, spoke on CAAMA Radio about the challenges faced by first nations mothers, in bringing up strong healthy babies.

“Before colonisation, our babies were born on country, we were raised by our mothers, we were raised by grandmothers, we had cultural ceremony and we had a real connection to community – after 200 years of colonisation, we have babies too early, too small, that are very sick when they’re born, we have mothers that have babies that are very sick, we got a health system that is being designed by a colonised system, a system imposed on our people… and this has really had poor outcomes, especially with our women in very remote communities, but also our women in urban centres.” Professor Yvette Roe said.

To view the CAAMA article Maternity services redesigned for First Nations women, which includes a video of Professor Roe speaking about the aim of the The Best Start to Life national gathering and improving maternity and birthing outcomes for First Nations women across Australia, click here.

Improving tobacco and e-cigarette control

Five ANU researchers have been awarded more than $10.7 million from the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Investigator Grant scheme, to help tackle some of the world’s biggest medical and health challenges. Professor Emily Banks will receive more than $2.9 million to drive improved tobacco and e-cigarette control and provide new insights into cardiovascular disease prevention.

“Smoking remains Australia’s number one cause of premature death and disability,” Professor Banks said. “It is also a major cause of health inequity. Excellent progress by communities means that most Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people don’t smoke. At the same time, around half of all deaths at age 45 and over in this priority population are due to tobacco smoking.

“Australia is aiming for a tobacco-free future and is up against a predatory industry that is constantly innovating. E-cigarettes, or vaping, also present new challenges. My team and I will use this funding to generate and translate new insights to empower the next generation of tobacco and e-cigarette control and chronic disease prevention,” Professor Banks said.

To view the Canberra Weekly article Major ANU funding win to boost health for all Australians in full click here.

Photo: Mike Mozart, Flickr. Image source: Croakey Health Media.

Great oral health habits for kids

Smiles 4 Miles (an initiative of Dental Health Services Victoria – DHSV), the Healthy Eating Advisory Service (HEAS) and Ballarat Community Health are supporting early childhood services to improve children’s oral health and healthy eating habits. This work is highlighted in a new video case study (below) celebrating how Perridak Burron Early Learning, an Aboriginal community-owned education and care service, embedded these health priorities into their centre.

Tooth decay is largely preventable. However, public dental data shows that approximately one in four children aged five years and under who presented to public dental clinics in 2021–22 have a history of tooth decay and only 6% of Victorian children aged two to 17 eat the recommended serves of fruit and vegetables per day.

“We hope that Perridak Burron’s holistic, whole-of-service approach to healthy eating and oral health will inspire other early childhood education and care services to also make positive changes,” Smiles 4 Miles coordinator Demelza Diacogiorgis said. “Early childhood is a crucial stage in learning and development. Promoting health messages in simple ways enables children attending early childhood education and care settings to get a healthy start in life.”

To view the Bite magazine article Early childhood service leading the charge for great oral health habits in full click here.

New Deadly pharmacists training course

The new Deadly pharmacists foundation training course, co-designed by PSA and NACCHO, is designed to upskill pharmacists to work in ACCHOs. Lucky Zeniou MPS, Senior Pharmacist at the Institute for Urban Indigenous Health (IUIH) in Brisbane thinks the seven-module course, available on the PSA platform, will broaden career pathways for pharmacists.

Mike Stephens MPS, Director, Medicines Policy and Programs at NACCHO, said pharmacists can expect to gain a good understanding of the key concepts that underpin Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health, including the importance of self-determination and community control. ‘There are so many services ACCHOs can offer their community, and clinical care and pharmacy is just one part of that integrated care model,’ he said.

‘In some ACCHOs a pharmacist may be working alongside tobacco outreach workers, legal services, diabetes educators and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health workers all in the same location.’ For pharmacists interested in working in an ACCHO, Mr Stephens recommends undertaking the course before or as soon as they begin work in this space. ‘This course will be a great enabler for this emerging workforce to grow,’ he said. ‘We know many ACCHOs are looking for suitable pharmacists to employ.’

To view the Australian Pharmacist article Securing a job in an Aboriginal Community-Controlled Health Service in full click here.

Image source: PSA Deadly pharmacists foundation training course webpage.

Closing the digital exclusion gap

Tech for good’ organisation Hitnet has been working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people for over 20 years, but its recent move is going further to amplify Indigenous voices. Co-founder and director Julie Gibson has ceded the company, which brings information and services to close the digital exclusion gap in rural and remote communities, to Visual Dreaming, a First Nations technology platform drawing on cultural practices and storytelling to support Indigenous youth.

For Gibson, the business move acts as a symbol for the non-Indigenous community to make room for First Nations organisations in an authentic and meaningful way. “Myself and the other founders strongly believe that Hitnet needed First Nations innovation, knowledge, creativity and entrepreneurship to take it to the next level,” said Gibson. “It was actually us that approached Visual Dreaming after a national search of actively looking to transition out.”

“I think the time has well and truly come for businesses that operate in the First Nations space to have management structures to ensure there is solid First Nations representation, which is not tokenism, but genuine ownership and control.”

To view the Pro Bono Australia article How ‘yindyamarra’ informed a business acquisition in full, click here.

How to provide better safer care

The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted health and healthcare in many ways. One important issue is developing a better understanding of its impacts upon Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ experiences of healthcare. An important indicator of the quality and cultural safety of healthcare is whether Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people feel safe to remain in a service to receive healthcare, or whether they leave before healthcare is delivered or completed.

According to data recently reviewed by the Australian Commission on Safety and Healthcare, there are some grounds for concern that the pandemic has been associated with an increase or, at the very least, no improvement in leave events.

Another important question is how the pandemic has affected Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ access to care, given widespread reports of service closures, workforce shortages and systems under grave pressure. Dr Julieann Coombes and Keziah Bennett-Brook, researchers from the George Institute who conducted a systematic review informing national policy on leave events, suggest the issue deserves far more attention from policymakers, health services and providers, through efforts to address racism and improve cultural safety at all levels of the system.

To view the Croakey Health Media article How can health services provide safer, better care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people? in full click here.

Image source: CommunitySkills WA website.

Sector Jobs

Sector Jobs – you can see sector job listings on the NACCHO website here.

Advertising Jobs – to advertise a job vacancy click here to go to the NACCHO website Current job listings webpage. Scroll down to the bottom of the page to find a Post A Job form. You can complete this form with your job vacancy details – it will then be approved for posting and go live on the NACCHO website.

Global Handwashing Day

October 15 is Global Handwashing Day, a global advocacy day dedicated to increasing awareness and understanding about the importance of handwashing with soap as an effective and affordable way to prevent diseases and save lives.

In Australia trachoma remains a major cause of avoidable blindness and as a prevention, face and hand washing are critically important. Australia is the only developed country still with high levels of trachoma, and almost all cases occur in our remote Aboriginal communities. Curtin University in partnership with West Australian Country Health Service, the Directorate of Environmental Health (WA Health) and Indigenous Eye Health (University of Melbourne) have produced a 30 second video, available here, based on Milpa’s Six Steps to Stop Germs!

For more information about Global Handwashing Day 2022 click here.

The University of Melbourne’s School of Population and Global Health webpage.

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: NACCHO Member’s Conference 2022 theme

NACCHO Member’s Conference 2022 theme

We’re just 5 days away from our long awaited NACCHO Members’ Conference, NACCHO Youth Conference, EGM and AGM!

Today we are delighted to announce the theme for this year’s conference – Honour the Past, Prepare for the Future.

NACCHO is proud to have a membership of 144 Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations with over 50 years of cultural expertise, knowledge and capability in the delivery of comprehensive primary health care to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Our sector has led the way in responding to the many challenges faced over the last three years and have demonstrated that we are an integral part of the health architecture in Australia. The Conference is an opportunity for us to come together to celebrate the resilience and success of our sector. It is a success worth celebrating and honouring as we prepare for the future.

We look forward to seeing you all soon!

NACCHO also wishes to acknowledge the generous support from our wonderful sponsors who helped make #NACCHOConference22 happen!

We can’t wait to network with you all next week at the NACCHO Youth and NACCHO Members’ Conferences on Ngunnawal and Ngambri Country (Canberra).

Mob experience higher rates of obesity

Population groups, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, people with disability, and people from culturally and linguistically diverse
communities (CALD) experience health inequity and resulting disparities in disease rates. These include higher rates of obesity and associated chronic diseases. A paper in the Sax Institute journal, Public Health Research & Practice brings together three perspectives by researchers in the fields of Indigenous health, disability and CALD health to examine how overweight and obesity impact these populations in Australia and to put forward ways of addressing the problem.

The authors urge investment in research co-designed with people from each of these communities and with lived experience of obesity to build valuable knowledge about what preventive actions and interventions will work to reduce obesity rates. They call for evidence-based, tailored obesity prevention programs to address these historical disparities and improve health outcomes among some of Australia’s disadvantaged populations.

One of the three perspectives examined in the paper is the inequities in the treatment of obesity in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. The author, Ray Kelly from the University of Melbourne finds:

  • Obesity is increasing in Indigenous people and is now up to 45% of that population
  • There is very little Indigenous input into Australian Dietary Guidelines
  • Adopting traditional dietary lifestyle could help Indigenous people lose weight
  • Far more research involving Indigenous people needs to be done in this area.

To view the Public Health Research & Practice (a journal of the Sax Institute) article Inequities in obesity: Indigenous, culturally and linguistically diverse, and disability perspectives in full click here.

Image source: NAAFA website.

Information vacuum around miscarriage

Miscarriage Australia is a first of its kind website that uses medically proven facts to help patients, and it’s been far too long in the making. The information vacuum around miscarriage, combined with the desperation of the grief-stricken, is the perfect breeding ground for misinformation and fertile soil for superstition. And that is why the development and launch of a new website, the first of its kind in Australia dedicated solely to evidence-based, medically-proven information and research, will be an absolute asset for patients in this space. It has been far too long in coming.

The team behind the Miscarriage Australia website comprises academics and clinicians. The site includes information for women, men, LGBTIQ+, friends or family of those affected. You’ll find details on what comprises a miscarriage, why someone miscarries, types of miscarriage and so on. There are referrals to support services. And crucially, there is information and support for medical practitioners working in this space or any other who are likely to come into contact with pregnancy loss patients. The information is fact-checked and the site is managed by the Miscarriage Australia research team, co-led by Bilardi and Temple-Smith, and an expert advisory committee.

You can access the new Miscarriage Australia website here.

To view The Guardian article After my miscarriage, it was hard to find reliable online support for an issue shrouded in silence – that’s about to change in full click here.

Image source: Miscarriage Australia website.

Pathology drones for remote Qld patients

Drones could be used to fly patient pathology samples from Moreton Bay island communities to Brisbane testing labs as early as next year. Yesterday Brisbane’s Mater Hospital announced a partnership program with drone company Swoop Aero that will see a fleet of drones used to shuttle patient pathology samples from areas across Moreton Bay to the hospital’s testing labs at Springfield in Ipswich.

Mater Pathology general manager Deb Hornsby said the initiative was an “Australian first” and would slash waiting times for test results, particularly blood samples and COVID-19 swabs. “It is a game-changer, it will take pathology services to a different level – we’re the first pathology service in Australia to offer this,” Ms Hornsby said. “Right now, we are reliant on ferry terminals and courier pick ups to get samples back to Mater for testing from Stradbroke Island and the other islands. Depending on ferry services, it can take up to six hours. Pathology is a time-sensitive service … turnaround times are really critical to get those results back to GPs and specialists.” She said a 45-minute drive would now become a 15-minute flight.

To read the ABC News article Drones set to transport Mater Hospital pathology samples across south-east Queensland in ‘Australian first’ in full click here.

Swoop Aero pathology drone. Image source: DroneDJ.

Rural GP shortage sees patients turned away

After the departure of a local doctor, a Quirindi aged care will have to turn residents away, threatening the centre’s viability. In a bid to entice a new doctor to urgently fill a vacancy, a NSW town is offering three months free rent, with an ongoing rent cap, in a bid to save its community-run aged acre home, Eloura. The doctor who has left treated a quarter of its aged care residents, and the current medical practices are not taking new patients due to high demand. Without a replacement, the community-built aged care centre will have to turn away new residents, unless they already have access to a GP.

Walhallow Aboriginal Health Corporation, based in Quirindi, has three GPs and two registrars, who are split between the three towns of Coledale, Caroona, and Quirindi. The practice manager, Eileen Goode, said that they did not just need another doctor, they needed “probably another four”. Walhallow has been seeing whoever they can, whenever they can, but still could not keep up with demand. We have a lot of phone calls from non-registered patients saying ‘Can we come and see you? We can’t get into a doctor, our doctor’s not here any more – can you help us?’” Goode said.

“Unfortunately, a lot of those people we’ve actually had to turn away because we’re servicing around 5,000. One of the worst feelings in the world,” Goode says, “is turning someone away, sending them to a hospital who also doesn’t have a doctor.” Goode’s experience means she understands the leap it takes to move to the bush, and that dealing with a backlog of patients in a rural practice meant that GPs could quickly burn out.

To view The Guardian article NSW town offering free rent to attract a GP so aged care home can avoid BYO doctor policy in full click here.

View of Quirindi, NSW. Image source: Aussie Towns website.

WA E-cigarette ban proposal

The WA Cancer Council is leading a push to “revitalise tobacco control” in the state by proposing halving the number of retailers and banning the sale of e-cigarettes, among other measures. The organisation, which is proposing to halve smoking rates in the state by 2030, launched its plan at a two-day symposium of health workers and experts in Perth this week. WA Cancer Council president Ruth Shean said tobacco control in WA had benefited greatly from a strong commitment by the state government.

“However, there are more than 200,000 West Australians still smoking,” Dr Shean said. “Our goal is to halve smoking rates in WA by 2030, but it requires all tiers of government to work together to implement an evidence-based, comprehensive approach.” The WA organisation wants to ban the sale and advertising of e-cigarette devices and components and prohibit vaping in places where cigarette smoking is banned.

Samuel Stubbs, a tackling Indigenous smoking coordinator at the WA Aboriginal Health Council, supported the call to ban e-cigarettes. He said his organisation was seeing a troubling number of young people using the smoking devices. “It’s huge. It’s just taking off,” Mr Stubbs said. “That’s probably the biggest thing we’re facing at the moment, with a lot of questions being asked from community groups, schools — how we can come in and help educate the youth about the effects that e-cigarettes have.”

To view the ABC News article E-cigarette ban proposed as WA Cancer Council aims to halve smoking rates by 2030 in full click here.

WA Aboriginal Health Council’s Samuel Stubbs says vaping has taken off among his community. Photo: Alicia Bridges, ABC Radio Perth.

Sector Jobs

Sector Jobs – you can see sector job listings on the NACCHO website here.

Advertising Jobs – to advertise a job vacancy click here to go to the NACCHO website Current job listings webpage. Scroll down to the bottom of the page to find a Post A Job form. You can complete this form with your job vacancy details – it will then be approved for posting and go live on the NACCHO website.

World Sight Day 2022

The aim of World Sight Day 2022 tomorrow Thursday 13 October 2022 is to focus the world’s attention on the importance of eye care.​ The International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB) has confirmed it will continue the World Sight Day 2021 theme of Love Your Eyes for this year. The theme stresses the need for awareness about our eye health and the need for taking care of our eyesight. For this purpose, we must get our eyes tested and encourage those we know to go for it, as well.

As per data from IAPB people worldwide live with low vision and blindness. Out of these, 39 million are completely blind while 246 others have moderate to severe visual impairment. Most of these people (approx 90%) reside in low-income countries. However, 80% of visual impairment is avoidable, given that they are readily treatable or preventable. However, there is much that needs to be done to provide eye care facilty to each and every person in need of it. Spreading awareness of the eye related problems including blindness and vision impairment can help a lot in making eye care accessible to all. The World Health Organisation has identified eye health as critical to achieving its Sustainable Development Goals.

To find out more about World Sight Day 2022 click here.

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Doomadgee launches first ACCO

The image in the feature tile is from the ABC News article Doomadgee Aboriginal organisation spells end of ‘failed, wasted services’, say local leaders, 2 September 2022. The image caption is ‘The only path to success is one that keeps Indigenous culture at the heart of any programs delivered, Goonawoona Jungai leaders say’. Photo: ABC Open Contributor Kane Chenoweth.

Doomadgee launches first ACCO

Over the past 15 years, the quality of life has not improved in the remote Aboriginal community of Doomadgee. That is despite the Queensland budget overview saying hundreds of millions of dollars in state and federal funding had been thrown at programs and services for Indigenous people over the years. Now, for the first time in Australia, a group of First Nations people are taking power off the government to end years of “failed, duplicated and wasted services”, said Doomadgee Aboriginal Shire Council chief executive Troy Fraser. “At the moment, we find a lot of service delivery is very fragmented and duplicated because the government has been at the helm for a long time and one thing they don’t do well is talk to each other,” Mr Fraser said.

The community’s first Aboriginal community-controlled organisation, Goonawoona Jungai Ltd, launched last week. Mr Fraser said Goonawoona Jungai would be made up of First Nations residents, would stop organisations from copying and pasting programs with weak KPIs into the community, and would help foster services that delivered tangible results. “There is a lot of wastage around resources, around funding. Outcomes and objectives and KPIs that don’t fit in with our practices,” he said.

To view the ABC News article Doomadgee Aboriginal organisation spells end of ‘failed, wasted services’, say local leaders in full click here.

The first community-controlled Aboriginal organisation has been launched in Doomadgee. Photo: Larissa Waterson, ABC North West Qld.

Local CT scans for Torres Strait communities

A new computed tomography (CT) scanner will be installed at Thursday Island Hospital early next year, giving Torres Strait residents access to vital medical imaging services closer to home. Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and Minister for Health and Ambulance Services Yvette D’Ath announced the $2.14 million project when they visited the hospital yesterday. “This is an exciting addition to the region’s health services,” the Premier said. “We know how important it is for First Nations communities to receive health care as close to home as possible. Once this machine is installed, people living in the Torres Strait and Northern Peninsula Area will no longer have to travel to Cairns for CT scans.”

To view the Joint Statement from Queensland Premier and Minister for the Olympics, the Hon. Annastacia Palaszczuk and Minister for Health and Ambulance Services, the Hon. Yvette D’Ath Local CT scans soon to be a reality for Torres Strait communities click here.

Photo: Jessica Shapiro. Image source: The Canberra Times.

Women’s health declining

Women are continuing to suffer from the health effects of the pandemic regardless of whether they have contracted COVID-19 or not, a new survey has found. The national survey – conducted by researchers for women’s health organisation Jean Hailes – found there had been a significant decline in women’s physical and mental health since the pandemic began. Nearly half of the 14,000 survey respondents said their physical health had declined, citing weight gain, fitness loss and muscle and joint pain as the most common problems. One in five respondents said their mental health had stopped them engaging in everyday activities and 17% reported a pre-existing mental health condition had worsened.

Researchers had expected there would be a significant recovery in women’s health but the data collected for the survey revealed the opposite, Monash University Global and Women’s Health director Jane Fisher said. “We haven’t seen the bounce back in physical or mental health we were expecting to see by now,” she said. The survey also highlighted major health inequities particularly for women living with a disability, those from non-English speaking backgrounds, and in LGBTIQ and First Nations communities.

Nearly 45% of all women said they could not afford to see a doctor or health professional. But the same problem was reported by 70% of women speaking a language other than English, 62% of those with a disability and nearly half of Indigenous women. More than half of women from a non-English speaking background said they could not find health information in their own language.

To view The Canberra Times article Survey reveals decline of women’s health in full click here.

Photo: NATSIHWA. Image source: National Rural Health Alliance.


Bringing equity to adolescent health

Working as a youth mentor in his early career, Seth Westhead developed a strong sense of the health and well-being priorities of young Indigenous Australians. Now as co-lead of the Adolescent Health Group in the SAHMRI (South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute) Wardliparingga Aboriginal Health Research Unit, he’s working with colleagues to collect evidence and create positive change.

“Support for mental health, addressing racism and discrimination, access to education, health services and employment; these were the big issues then and still now,” Seth says. Seth and the Adolescent Health team at Wardliparingga are leading the development of the first national strategy for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adolescent health. “It’s important to focus on this age group so we can provide support to young people before health crisis or chronic disease have a chance to become established,” Seth says. “But marching in and trying to tell them what they should and shouldn’t do won’t work – young people have to be a part of the process.”

The strategy focuses on people aged 10-24. “We’re asking Indigenous youth what they really want and need to support their health and wellbeing,” says Seth. “We find they engage really well using online platforms.” Once the survey work is complete, the evidence gathered will help create better, more accessible health and well-being services for young Indigenous people.

To view The Lead Health & Medical article Wardliparingga is bringing equity to adolescent health in full click here.

Seth Westhead and the Adolescent Health team at Wardliparingga are leading development of the first national strategy for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adolescent health. Image source: ABC News.

Setting a course for change

When she left high school, Dr Talila Milroy thought becoming a journalist was the way for her to advocate for Aboriginal social justice. She certainly never thought she would become a GP. Luckily for her patients, she didn’t enjoy the media and communications course and not long after, decided a switch to medicine, with a strong feeling it would better satisfy her goals around social justice, health care education and research. “I knew there was a huge discrepancy between the health of Aboriginal people and non-Aboriginal people. Medicine seemed like the place where I could make the biggest impact. I chose psychology as my major in my science degree which has worked in well.”

A Yindjibarndi and Palyku woman, Talila grew up in Perth, with family in the Pilbara. When she was 13, her mother got a job in Sydney, so she finished school there.  Talila was the only Indigenous medical graduate in her 2015 class at the University of Sydney. She spent her intern and resident years at the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital. With a Bachelor of Medicine and Surgery from the University of Sydney, Talila also has a Bachelor of Science, majoring in Psychology. 

She spent her undergraduate years working in the Faculty of Economics and Business at Sydney University, The Garvan Institute and Moreton Consulting. She gained further experience doing her rural general practice medical school placement in Roebourne and medical elective team at the Aboriginal Medical Service Redfern.  Earlier this year she was awarded her Fellowship with the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners. She lectures at UWA’s Centre for Aboriginal Medical and Dental Health and is considering a masters and PhD.

To read the Medical Forum article Setting course for change in full click here.

Dr Talila Milroy. Image source: Medical Forum website.

Dental Health Week 2022 wrap-up

For this year’s Dental Health Week (DHW), which ran from 1 to 7 August, Australians were asked to love their teeth, with a campaign concept designed by talented ADA member, Dr Elice Chen. Promoting the importance of dental self-care was a timely one, with some Aussies having let their oral health fall by the wayside during the Covid-19 period, and with a good number only just getting back to the dentist.

In an effort to increase the oral health knowledge of non-dental professionals, the ADA holds webinars for other health associations and organisations. During Dental Health Week, ADA held a webinar for members of the National Association of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workers and Health Practitioners (NAATSIHWP) to provide an oral health update. The webinar was facilitated by Indigenous dental practitioners, Dr Georgia Clarke, and Ms Kirrily Phillips.

To view the Australian Dental Association article Loving their teeth: Dental Health Week 2022 wrap-up in full click here.

Dr Georgia Clarke. Image source: Brookwater Dental Facebook page. Oral Health Therapist Kirrily Phillips. Image source: 2019 QAIHC Youth Health Summit website.

Prison smokes ban will lead to ‘black market’

The ACT’s Alexander Maconochie Centre (AMC) is preparing to go smoke-free. Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health and Community Services CEO Julie Tongs said the government’s plan to ban smoking at the prison is “ridiculous” and could lead to a black-market in contraband tobacco. “There’s no way it will be a smoke-free jail,” said Tongs. “Tobacco will become another contraband. At the moment it’s about $60 for a pouch of tobacco and if they ban it they’ll be paying $300 or $600 depending on the market. It’s ridiculous.”

To view the CBR City News article Smokes ban will lead to ‘black market’ in prison in full click here.

Image source: The Conversation.

Sector Jobs

Sector Jobs – you can see sector job listings on the NACCHO website here.

Advertising Jobs – to advertise a job vacancy click here to go to the NACCHO website Current job listings webpage. Scroll down to the bottom of the page to find a Post A Job form. You can complete this form with your job vacancy details – it will then be approved for posting and go live on the NACCHO website.

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Vanuatu eliminates trachoma

The image in the feature tile if from the World Health Organization’s news release Vanuatu leads the way for Pacific elimination of trachoma – the world’s biggest infectious cause of blindness published on 12 August 2022.

Vanuatu eliminates trachoma

The Fred Hollows Foundation has welcomed the World Health Organization’s (WHO) confirmation that Vanuatu has ended trachoma as a public health problem, making it the first Pacific island nation to eliminate the disease. The foundation, with the support of The Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust, The UK Government’s The Commonwealth Fund and the Australian Government’s Australian NGO Cooperation Program (ANCP) funding, has helped drive the final push to eliminate the infectious disease.

It comes as Australian health authorities struggle to stamp out trachoma in Indigenous communities, with a 2020 elimination target pushed out to 2022 due to COVID, and then again to 2025. Australia remains the only developed nation with endemic trachoma. According to Fred Hollows, the disease thrives in areas where drinking water and sanitation is poor. It is easily spread through personal contact and by flies that have been in contact with people’s eyes or noses. It disproportionately affects mothers and children.

Fred Hollows CEO Mr Ian Wishart congratulated Vanuatu for declaring trachoma is no longer a public health problem. It’s the second neglected tropical disease eliminated from the archipelago nation of 83 islands, after lymphatic filariasis in 2016.

To read the Insight News article Vanuatu first Pacific island nation to eliminate trachoma in full click here.

Dr Anasaini Cama, Fred Hollows Pacific trachoma expert, assessing a child’s eye health. PHoto: Shea Flynn, RTI International. Image source: Insight News.

47 years since start of land rights movement

The historically significant gesture of then Prime Minister Gough Whitlam pouring a handful of red soil into the hands of senior Gurindji man, Vincent Lingiari on 16 August 1975, symbolised the legal transfer of more than 3,000 square kms of the Wave Hill cattle station back to the Gurindji people. It also meant the Gurindji became the first Aboriginal community to have land returned to them by the Commonwealth Government and would be a turning point – the start of the Aboriginal land rights movement for the rest of Indigenous Australia, that continues even today.

“Vincent Lingiari, I solemnly hand to you these deeds as proof, in Australian law, that these lands belong to the Gurindji people and I put into your hands part of the earth itself as a sign that this land will be the possession of you and your children forever,” Gough Whitlam said.

Almost 56 years ago on the 23 August, the Gurindji people of the NT made their name across Australia with the 1966 Wave Hill Walk-Off. A landmark event that inspired national change: equal wages for Aboriginal workers, as well as a new Land Rights Act. Many people know a small part of the walk-off story because of the song From Little Things, Big Things Grow about 200 stockmen, house servants and their families who walked off Wave Hill Station on 23 August 1966, in protest at appalling pay and living conditions. But what is not widely known is that the walk-off followed more than 80 years of massacres and killings, stolen children and other abuses by early colonists.

You can read more about the Wave Hill Walk-Off and the transfer of leasehold title to the Gurindji on the National Archives of Australia website here.

Prime Minister Whitlam pouring a handful of earth back into the hand of Gurindji elder and traditional landowner Vincent Lingiari – marking the return of his people’s is traditional lands. Photo: Mervyn Bishop. Image source: Head On Foundation.

$3m to address family violence in Alice Springs

Foot patrols and women’s support services will be among programs funded under a Federal Government deal to address high family and domestic violence rates in Alice Springs. Announced on Wednesday, the $3 million injection of funding to address domestic and family violence hopes to address disproportionately high levels of abuse across the NT. Among organisations to receive funding is the Tangentyere Council Aboriginal Corporation, which will expand patrol activities and increase support services through its Women’s Family Safety Group.

“One woman dies every ten days at the hands of her former or current partner in Australia. This is unacceptable,” Federal Social Services Minister Amanda Rishworth said. “We know Indigenous women are more likely to experience family and domestic violence – more than 34 times likely. We’re committed as a whole-of-government to reducing this scourge.” The provisions intend to expand the reach of local services, support victims and increase work to prevent reoffending in central Australia. Ngaanyatjarra Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjara Women’s Council Aboriginal Corporation will similarly expand its rollout of women’s support services.

Federal Indigenous Australians Minister Linda Burney self-determination played a key role in addressing domestic violence “As well as intervention and responding to incidents, (the funding) will empower leaders in the community to address some of the underlying factors that lead to violence and unlawful behaviour, and support women to take a leading role in keeping the community safe,” she said.

To read the National Indigenous Times article Federal cash injection for street patrols, safety services to tackle Alice Springs domestic violence in full click here.

Alice Springs. Photo: Neda Vanovac. Image source: ABC News.

Is vaping a threat to public health?

With their alluring scent and brightly coloured packaging e-cigarettes or vapes have become increasingly popular with young people but their addictive nature and a lack of understanding about what’s really in them continues to spark concern. Megan Varlow, Director Cancer Control Policy at Cancer Council Australia, says e-cigarettes are deliberately made in a way that is attractive, marketed and made in flavours and designs that are interesting and engaging for younger people.

Research show the vast majority of Australians are supportive of action to better regulate the usage of e-cigarettes. Unlawful over the counter availability is threatening to undo decades of public health success in Australia. You can listen to the SBS News – News in Depth podcast Is vaping a threat to public health? in full here.

Image source: News Medical Life Sciences.

Pharmacist of the Year takes on UTS role

Along with winning Pharmacist of the Year at PSA’s Excellence Awards, Faye McMillan MPS was recently appointed Professor of Indigenous Health at Sydney’s University of Technology (UTS). But growing up in remote NSW, Wiradjuri woman Associate Professor Faye McMillan AM MPS never expected a career in pharmacy – let alone becoming the first Aboriginal registered pharmacist. Working as a pharmacy assistant in the local pharmacy in Trangie, about 75 kms from Dubbo in central west NSW, Faye McMillan enjoyed interacting with the local community. ‘People would come in just to talk about how their day was going or if something significant had happened in the town,’ she says. ‘It really was such a wonderful place to be.’

Encouraged by the pharmacist she worked with, A/Prof McMillan became a dispensary technician before deciding to study pharmacy as a mature-aged student at 27.  After graduating in 2001, A/Prof McMillan did her intern year at a community pharmacy in Wagga Wagga. She became fully registered in 2002, unknowingly becoming the first Aboriginal person in Australia to do so. ‘For me personally, I didn’t think about it … But when it was pointed out to me, I felt a sense of obligation as part of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community to take it on,’ she says.

To read the Australian Pharmacist article New beginnings for PSA’s Pharmacist of the Year in full click here.

Pharmacist of the Year Associate Professor Faye McMillan MPS. Image source: Australian Pharmacist.

Final chance to win $350 voucher

Australian Indigenous HealthINfoNet is conducting an online survey designed to gather feedback from users of the Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet as part of its continual improvement. The survey will take about 5-10 minutes to complete. Survey responses will remain anonymous. Choosing to answer the survey questions indicates your informed consent to participate. You can stop the survey at any time by closing the computer window in which the survey appears.

At the end of the survey, you have the option to submit an entry for a prize draw for a $350 Coles Group & Myer gift voucher. The winner’s name will be drawn at random and they will be contacted by phone or email after the survey closes. Your contact details will not be linked to your survey responses. Survey respondents who enter the prize draw within its first week will automatically be entered twice.

For your final chance to win a $350 Coles-Myer voucher, take the HealthInfoNet’s 2022 User Survey by the end of this week. The survey is open until 11.59pm (AWST) Sunday 21 August 2022.

Click here to start the survey.

Extent of WA homelessness revealed

New data shows Aboriginal people remain radically over-represented in WA’s homeless population. The figures also show a sharp rise in the number of people using government-funded homelessness services in the state, particularly in the north. Compiled by the University of WA Centre for Social Impact, the Ending Homelessness in WA 2022 report provides an overview of homelessness in WA, a decade of data held by community agencies, and studies of the initiatives and programs aimed at ending homelessness in the state.

Centre director Paul Flatau said the data showed a significant over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in WA’s homeless population. “While making up only 3.1% of the general population, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders form 29.1% of the homeless population in the Census,” he said. “Aboriginal people make up an even higher proportion of those receiving support form homeless services. The population of people experiencing homelessness in WA is characterised by an over-representation of Aboriginal people who have experienced family or domestic violence, people with mental health issues, young people, and people with substance use issues.”

To view the National Indigenous Times article New report reveals extent of Indigenous WA homelessness crisis in full click here.

The Fremantle Homeless camp is providing a sense of community and security. 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.