NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: SNAICC welcomes early childhood strategy

feature tile text ' SNAICC welcomes launch of ATSI early childhood strategy' & image of Aboriginal child's hand in dirt from cover of the strategy

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

SNAICC welcomes early childhood strategy

The Secretariat of National Aboriginal and Islander Child Care (SNAICC), the national peak body representing the interests of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and families, is pleased to announce the release of the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Early Childhood Strategy in partnership with the Australian Government.

Launched today at the 9th SNAICC National Conference, the development of the Strategy was guided by conversations with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and families; and Aboriginal-led organisations and services in the early childhood, care and development sectors. “Our people know best, and this framework recognises and builds on Aboriginal-led solutions for us to continue to improve the early years experiences of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children,” SNAICC Chairperson Muriel Bamblett said.

Minister for Indigenous Australians, the Hon Ken Wyatt AM, MP, said the Strategy responds to calls for a more joined up approach between jurisdictions and service providers. “The new way of working under Closing the Gap offers a framework to have a whole-of-government and whole-of-community approach to a child’s development.”

To read SNAICC’s media release in full here and Minister Wyatt’s media release here.

cover of the National ATSI early childhood strategy

Cover of the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Early Childhood Strategy.

Miwatj Health’s vax rollout successes

In recent months, COVID vaccination rates have significantly increased in the Miwatj Health region in NE Arnhem Land, where the vaccination rollout began well before the recent NT outbreak. While uptake of the COVID vaccine was initially slow, with many community members feeling hesitant at first, further complicated by the spread of misinformation, more than 6,500 doses have been administered across the Miwatj Health service region.  

For Brando Yambalpal a Yolngu Community Worker, the key to helping people understand the importance of the vaccine was to deliver the COVID-19 story in-language, which, in his community of Galiwin’ku, is Yolngu Matha. “Yolngu people understand their language,” he said.  

Across the region, Miwatj vaccine teams have found the most successful way to boost vaccination uptake was via a house-to-house outreach strategy, visiting people at their homes to spend time telling the COVID story in their own language.  

Galiwin’ku Aboriginal Health Practitioner Wanamula Gondarra said the turnaround in attitude towards the vaccine, driven by the work of she and her colleagues, has been a total relief. “It’s amazing what’s been happening. Our people are really wanting to get the vaccine now, and it’s what we’ve been waiting for, working for months,” she said. “But she said there is still more work to be done, to make sure everyone comes back for their second dose and to convince those people who still haven’t decided.” 

The utilisation of role models including local Elders and members of the Miwatj Board, has also been instrumental in changing attitudes about the vaccine. Sharing consistent messages about COVID and the COVID vaccine in Yolngu Matha on community loudspeakers and on local radio to spread the education and importance of vaccination to their communities. 

Vaccination rates are now encouragingly high region — 83% of the population across the Miwatj region aged 12+ has now received at least one dose, outpacing the Indigenous vaccination rate nationally, which is at 74% first dose for those over 16.

collage of 3 photos top L-R Miwatj vax team Milingimbi, Miwatj public health outreach team, Galiwin'ku & outreach planning session Milingimbi

Clockwise: Miwatj vaccination team Milingimbi; Miwatj public health outreach team, Galiwin’ku; outreach planning session Milingimbi.

Climate change biggest threat to health

RANZCO has formed a united front with other Australasian medical colleges calling for the Federal Government to devise an urgent plan to protect Australians and the healthcare system from the impacts of climate change.

The call comes as the Royal Australasian College of Physicians released a report it commissioned, prepared by the Monash Sustainable Development Institute. Endorsed by RANZCO and nine other medical colleges, it paints a dire picture of the future of the Australian healthcare system under the unmitigated impacts of climate change.

Among the report’s recommendations is the embedding of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander knowledge and leadership in all climate change policy and action.

To view the Insight article in full click here.

Aboriginal woman walking ahead of controlled grass burn

Image source: Country Needs People website.

Aboriginal-led youth mentoring programs

The Andrews Labor Government is supporting Aboriginal young people to achieve their goals through personalised mentoring programs promoting wellbeing, connection to culture, education and employment. Minister for Youth Ros Spence has announced that five Aboriginal organisations will receive $180,000 each, sharing in $900,000 through the Marram Nganyin Aboriginal Youth Mentoring Program.

Programs will be delivered across metropolitan Melbourne and regional Victoria. The Aboriginal Wellness Foundation will provide mentoring and on-country cultural retreats for young Aboriginal men in the Wyndham area, while in the Glenelg and Southern Grampians regions Winda-Mara will support specialised cultural camps and programs with Aboriginal Elders.

To view the media release in full click here.

rear view of man and youth in bush setting

Image source: Strong Brother, Strong Sister website.

SA rural Aboriginal health workforce plan

A plan to strengthen and grow the Aboriginal health workforce in regional areas has been released, as part of the SA Government’s Rural Health Workforce Strategy. SA Minister for Health and Wellbeing Stephen Wade said the Rural Aboriginal Health Workforce Plan aims to help ensure we attract, recruit and strengthen the regional Aboriginal health workforce, while continuing to deliver world-class care in the regions.

“Growing the Aboriginal health workforce in rural SA is vital for delivering culturally responsive health services and improving the health and wellbeing of our Aboriginal communities,” said Minister Wade. “The development of the plan has involved extensive consultation with the Aboriginal workforce, consumers and communities and the non-Aboriginal workforce from all disciplines, with a focus on providing services that are culturally safe and respectful.”

Rural Health Workforce Strategy Aboriginal Health Working Group Chair, Sharon Perkins, said the plan aims to utilise the important skills and cultural expertise of Aboriginal people in providing health services to regional SA communities.

To view the media release in full click here.

Image source: RACGP GPNews.

Vision oration by Aboriginal ophthalmologist

The second annual Barry Jones Vision Oration will be delivered by Associate Professor Kristopher Rallah-Baker, Australia’s first Aboriginal ophthalmologist. Due to ongoing COVID-19 pandemic related restrictions, the oration will be released as a pre-recorded video on Wednesday 8 December 2021 on the Vision 2020 Australia website.

A proud Yuggera and Biri-Gubba man, Associate Professor Rallah-Baker is a highly respected ophthalmologist and is one of the founding members of the Australian Indigenous Doctors Association, a Board Director of the Royal Flying Doctors Service, technical advisor to the Fred Hollows Foundation and Chair of the Vision 2020 Australia Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Committee.

To view the Vision 2020 Australia media release in full click here.

Associate Professor Kristopher Rallah-Baker

Associate Professor Kristopher Rallah-Baker. Image source: ABC News.

Job Trainer free, low-cost courses

Gaining qualifications can help people find rewarding work in a wide range of jobs and industries. The Australian Government has extended the JobTrainer Fund to offer low and fee-free courses for eligible people from 16 years of age.

JobTrainer is a great way for eligible people to learn new skills, upgrade their skills and expand their job options. JobTrainer supports free and low-fee courses for jobs in demand in a range of industries like health, aged care and disability support, IT and trades. A range of course types are available, including accredited diplomas, certificates or short courses.

For additional information about JobTrainer click here.

Aust Govt tile text 'job trainer - what you need to know' Aboriginal male youth & woman

Indigenous aged care facility considerations

Indigenous people are highly under-represented in the Australian aged care system – a result of a lack of cultural understanding, appropriate spaces and safety. Yim Eng Ng’s study of four facilities in Queensland suggests several practical responses that would enhance aged care environments for this sector.

In Australia, the average life expectancy of Indigenous people is estimated to be eight years lower than that of non-Indigenous people. As a result of years of health disparity, Indigenous people access aged care at a much younger age than non-Indigenous people. This is acknowledged by federal government policy that enables Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders aged 50 years and over to access aged care services, 10 years earlier than their non- Indigenous counterparts. A submission to the 2018 Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety by NACCHO highlighted the under-representation of Indigenous people in residential aged care services and the lack of culturally appropriate facilities.

To view the ArchitectureAU article in full click here.

2 Aboriginal men painting in aged care facility

Kungkarrangkalpa (Seven Sisters) Aged Care facility, WA. Photo: Nathan Morris, ABC Goldfields Esperance.

New process for job advertising

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Partnership Agreement on CtG state of play

feature tile text 'partnership agreement on Closing the Gap progress and challenges; & cartoon picture of NACCHO CEO, Ken Wyatt & two others & CoP logo

Partnership Agreement on CtG state of play

The Joint Council on Closing the Gap met today for the seventh time under the historic Partnership Agreement on Closing the Gap where governments are now working together with the Coalition of Peaks to improve outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Progress was welcomed on several high priority actions to advance the four Priority Reforms and socio-economic targets in the National Agreement on Closing the Gap. Areas where the partnership needs strengthening were also acknowledged.

Under Priority Reform Two, the Joint Council agreed in principle two of the Sector Strengthening Plans covering the early childhood care and development sector and the health sector, establishing high level priorities and joint ways of building these key community-controlled sectors nationally.

“I’m pleased to see the first two sector strengthening plans laid out. These plans are an important tool for change and accountability, and the onus is now on every party to turn their commitments into practice. Our community-controlled sector is invaluable to our people: we see real change when Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people deliver services to our communities.” said Patricia Turner AM, Lead Convener of the Coalition of Peaks.

“The Coalition of Peaks are working with governments to ensure they transform how they do business and rise to the challenges set out in the National Agreement. Shared decision making, accountability and transparency are central concerns for us. We also value the independent review of progress to be conducted by the Productivity Commission because there will be things we are doing well, but also areas where we must do better. There will be lessons to learn on how we can work better into the future and invest in those actions which will close gaps faster,” Ms Turner said.

A new target on Community Infrastructure was recommended to First Ministers and the Coalition of Peaks for sign-off and inclusion in the National Agreement on Closing the Gap. This target now includes measures that ensure essential services for remote and discrete Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities will meet or exceed jurisdictional standards. This will not only help with housing standards but deliver significant health outcomes to Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander people.

To view the media release in full click here.

group of Aboriginal people, hands in air & sign Close the Gap

Image source: Their World website.

ACCHO’s telehealth use boosts attendance

When the COVID pandemic struck, the Bendigo District and Aboriginal Co-operative (BDAC) started seeing 90% of its patients via telehealth. BDAC executive director and Dhrug man Dallas Widdicombe said the introduction of telehealth services was behind the rise in people showing up. “We realised we had more people attending their appointments then we’d ever had before,” Mr Widdicombe said.

Clinical practice manager and Arabana woman Jaydene Burzacott confirmed the clinic started seeing a significant number of new patients during the pandemic due to the provision of telehealth, “We were increasing by about six patients a week, including a lot of new people for the first time in a very long time.”

Ms Burzacott says while telehealth helps make a range of health services more accessible for a lot of people, BDAC has seen a surge in people accessing mental health services via telehealth. “Mental health appointments were a really big one,” she said. “I think it really helped people to be able to talk about their mental health over the phone.

To view the ABC News article in full click here.

BDAC CEO Dallas Widdicombe sitting at his desk

BDAC executive director and Dhrug man Dallas Widdicombe said the introduction of telehealth services was behind the rise in people showing up. Photo: Shannon Schubert, ABC Central Victoria. Image source: ABC News.

Sexual health trivia a super success

Last Friday, 3 December 2021, a highly successful virtual sexual health trivia event was held to mark Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander HIV Awareness Week (ATSIHAW).

Associate Professor and Director of Poche Centre for Indigenous Health, University of Queensland James Ward hosted the event together with NACCHO. NACCHO Chair Donnella Mills gave everyone a beautiful welcome while thanking all the health workers for their amazing efforts.

There was a great turn out with 22 teams competing for pride, bragging rights and some nice prizes. After three rounds of trivia questions on HIV, sexual health and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander popular culture, sports and geography, team AHCWALube (AHCWA) took home the first prize of $1,500 closely followed team Us Mob (Us Mob and HIV). Third place went to team GladiAIDors (Miwatj).

The costumes were all amazing and after much deliberation the Chancre Sisters (Congress) took home the prize for Best Dressed. A special shout out also goes to Rachial McCahon (Wirraka Maya) for spending an hour on her Christmas tree hair. Participants were thanked for the amazing work they do and encouraged to take part in next year’s trivia.collage of images from the sexual health virtual trivia afternoon

Government response to food insecurity

The Government has tabled its response to the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Indigenous Affairs’ report into food pricing and food security in remote Indigenous communities. Minister for Indigenous Australians, the Hon Ken Wyatt AM, MP, welcomed the report and thanked the Committee for their work.

“Improving food security and making affordable, fresh and nutritious foods more available in remote Indigenous communities is an important part of improving the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people,” Minister Wyatt said. “This report has affirmed that food security is a long-standing and complex issue in remote and rural communities. It will take a concerted and coordinated effort across jurisdictions and private industry to improve supply chains and storage.”

To view Minister Wyatt’s statement in full click here.

Gina Lyons, Irrunytju WA cooking in an electric frypan

Gina Lyons, Irrunytju WA. Photo by Suzanne Bryce, NPY Women’s Council. Image source: The Australian Prevention Partnership Centre.

New Lowitja Institute Board chair

Lowitja Institute today welcomed health, education and governance leader Mr Selwyn Button, a Gunggari man and former Registrar of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Corporations, as the new chairperson of its Board.

Mr Button succeeds Pat Anderson who retired last week after nearly 20 years in the role. “I am truly humbled to become the new chairperson of the Lowitja Institute,” Mr Button said. “Having served on the board with Pat over the last 8 years, I admire the contributions she has made and will continue to make to the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people across the country.” “She has been an inspiration and hers are significant shoes to fill. I hope to do her proud in continuing her legacy.”

To view the Lowitja Institute’s media release relating to Mr Button’s appointment click here.

new Lowitja Institute Board Chair, Selwyn Button in front of large circular grass wall sculpture

Selwyn Button. Image source: Australian Institute of Company Directors website.

HAPEE free hearing assessments available

Hearing Australia’s Hearing Assessment Program – Early Ears, dubbed, HAPEE, conducts diagnostic hearing assessments to reduce the long term effects of ear disease in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, who have significantly higher rates of hearing loss than non-Indigenous Australian children.

Telehealth appointments are now available to allow parents and carers to access Hearing Australia services and ongoing support from anywhere in Australia. A telehealth appointment is an over the phone conversation where parents and carers can ask questions and an audiologist provides advice and ongoing support.

Parents and carers can choose a telehealth or a face-to-face appointment, depending on which best suits their needs. All HAPEE hearing checks are free* for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander kids aged 0-6 years or not attending full time school. For more information and resources visit Hearing Australia or call 134 432 to book a telehealth appointment.

young Aboriginal boy having hearing test

Image source: Microsoft News Centre.

85,000 NSW adults waiting for dentists

Some 85,000 NSW adults are currently on the public dental waiting list in NSW and it could be two or three years before they see a dentist. Of those, about 30,000 are in rural, remote or regional areas.
Aboriginal man receiving dental treatment

A patient is treated at the Armajun Aboriginal Health Service at Inverell. Photo: Bridget Brennan, ABC News.

Complex PTSD explained

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can arise after exposure to a traumatic event, with symptoms falling into four clusters:

  1. upsetting and intrusive re-experiencing of the trauma (memories and nightmares)
  2. avoiding reminders of a trauma
  3. profound changes to mood and beliefs following the traumatic experience
  4. heightened reactivity to and vigilance for danger.

However, there are a multiple of ways PTSD symptoms can manifest. For some, the highly distressing re-experiencing of trauma memories is most prominent, whereas for others, a persistent hypervigilance for danger and threat may be the most difficult aspect.

Previous efforts to describe a more complex version of PTSD focused on the nature of the traumatic event(s), for instance, that people with CPTSD may have experienced their trauma in childhood. This may lead to a more pervasive set of difficulties in adulthood. Others argues repeated or prolonged exposure to trauma throughout one’s life was the key feature.

To view The Conversation article in full click here.

drawing of head made of barbed wire

Image source: Mood Disorders Clinic.

New process for job advertising

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Minister vows to reduce suicide rate

feature tile text 'Minister vows to reduce suicide rate of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples' & image of Minister Wyatt in Parliament

Minister vows to reduce suicide rate

In pointing out that Indigenous people are dying by suicide at twice the rate of other Australians, Minister for Indigenous Australians, Key Wyatt,  vowed to use ‘every tool at our disposal to have a substantial impact’ on reducing the Indigenous suicide rate.

Minister Wyatt said “We know that there is a need to reach people in distress earlier to prevent the onset of suicidal behaviour. A focus on prevention and early intervention with a more integrated and compassionate mental health system is key.”

The minister added that the National Agreement on Closing the Gap signed by governments last year created, for the first time, shared accountability, greater transparency and embedding working in partnership across all levels of government and the Coalition of Aboriginal Peak Organisations. A commitment under target 14 of the agreement would lead to annual reporting from all jurisdictions on their progress to achieving eliminating the suicide rate among the Indigenous population all together, he said.

To view The Mandarin article in full click here.

$9m+ research funding for CAAC

The Australian Government is supporting nine Australian researchers with almost $62 million to improve the health and wellbeing of Australians by accelerating research knowledge and outcomes into health care and practice. Funded through the Government’s Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF), the 2020 Rapid Applied Research Translation (RART) Grant Opportunity is investing $216 million over 10 years and focuses on turning research findings into real health benefits that help Australian patients.

The University of NSW has been granted $9,967,326 for scaling up infection disease point-of-care testing for Indigenous people; The George Institute for Global Health has $2,410,958 for Implementing holistic burn care through a culturally safe integrated model; and the Central Australian Aboriginal Congress Aboriginal Corporation has received $9,760,245 for a research projected with the title Aboriginal prosperity through community driven translational research.

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

COVID-19’s disproportionate impact on mob

New data shows Aboriginal people in NSW and the ACT have been heavily and disproportionately affected by COVID-19, amid concerns that even after two months of “surge” efforts in 30 Indigenous communities, vaccination rates will not be high enough to withstand further outbreaks.

10% of all COVID-19 cases in NSW and the ACT are Aboriginal and Islander people, meaning they have been affected at twice the rate of other Australians. In the past three months, there have been 7,000 cases, 700 hospitalisations, 80 people in ICU and 14 deaths among Aboriginal people, according to data from NACCHO.

To view the The Guardian article in full  click here.

Door-to-door work by trusted local health workers to answer questions and counter vaccine hesitancy has been effective in raising rates. Photo: Dan Himbrechts, AAP. Image source: The Guardian.

Mary G asks KAMS CEO about COVID-19

Mary G has spoken with Vicki O’Donnell, Chair of the Aboriginal Health Council of Western Australia and CEO of Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Services (KAMS), asking the hard-hitting questions about COVID-19 and vaccination.

You can listen to the interview and read the interview transcript here.

Mary G

Mary G. Image source: Mary G Foundation website.

Rising syphilis rates in remote WA

As syphilis cases continue to surge in WA, contact tracers say they are overwhelmed, with remote areas with high Indigenous populations of particular concern. Increased notifications associated with the outbreak of the sexually transmitted infection (STI) were first reported in the Kimberley region in 2014 and have spread throughout WA.

Health experts say while attention remains on COVID-19, syphilis rates are climbing without enough public awareness, especially among Indigenous populations where social stigma discourages people from getting tested. In the Kimberley, contact tracers are struggling to reach long lists of people who may have caught the STI. The infection can cause serious life-long health complications.

To view the ABC article in full click here.

Anne Clarke & Rosie Jack, Kununurra

Anne Clarke and Rosie Jack have been spreading the word throughout Kununurra that there’s no shame in getting tested. Photo: Ted O’Connor, ABC News.

Close the Gap for Vision events

The University of Melbourne’s Indigenous Eye Health is hosting the following two events over the next few weeks:

2021 Annual Update on the Implementation of The Roadmap to Close the Gap for Vision report launch by Pat Anderson AO
with Professor Hugh Taylor AC – 11.00AM–11.45AM (AEDT) – Tuesday 16 November 2021. To register click here.

Sharing our Findings: Evaluating Regional Implementation of The Roadmap to Close the Gap for Vision by Indigenous Eye Health –  12:00PM–1:00PM (AEDT) – Wednesday 24 November 2021. To register click here.

Aboriginal man having an eye test

Image source: SBS News.

Benefits of community development

Leading economics firm, ACIL Allen, has undertaken a social and economic Impact Assessment of a national community development organisation delivering projects in First Nations’ communities. It found the model has potential to deliver positive health, social and economic impacts for First Nations’ people and significant cost savings for government.

ACIL Allen stated, “Community development activities have the potential to generate large amounts of cost savings for government, by reducing the reliance on government support, services and safeguards. This cost saving is significant, considering the cost of service provision for Indigenous Australians has historically been higher than non-Indigenous Australians.”

The complete ACIL Allen impact statement on Community First Development can be found here and you can view the related media release here.

Economic security boost for two ACCHOs

The Andrews Labor Government is supporting self-determination and increasing financial autonomy for Aboriginal organisations by releasing full ownership of five more properties back to the community.  Minister for Aboriginal Affairs Gabrielle Williams has announced that the latest group of properties owned by Aboriginal organisations have had their first mortgages removed as part of the First Mortgage and Community Infrastructure Program.

These properties include Wathaurong Aboriginal Co-operative’s main office, which includes their health service, in North Geelong; and Winda Mara Aboriginal Corporation’s office plus two other properties housing their services in Heywood. The removal of these mortgages gives Aboriginal communities rightful control of their assets and brings the total number of properties with mortgages lifted under the program to 30.

To view the media release in full click here.

Image source: City of Greater Geelong website.

New process for job advertising

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

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

Perinatal Mental Health Week

This year between the Monday 7 and Saturday 13 November, Perinatal Anxiety & Depression Australia (PANDA) is celebrating Perinatal Mental Health week. Since 2005 PANDA has been leading the perinatal mental health sector in promoting the week to help our community better understand perinatal mental illness, including signs to look for and where to go to seek support.

The theme for this year is “breaking down barriers”. In the last 12 months, PANDA has seen:

  • 51% increase in callers to PANDA’s Helpline.
  • 57% of callers are citing stressful life events as their reason for reaching out for help.
  • More pregnant callers reaching out for help – 75% are either pregnant with their second or third child.
  • Significant increase in the number of callers with babies under 1 month of age (12% in 2019-20 to 26% in 2020-21).

Many may think the statistics are alarming, PANDA sees the increase in demand as positive progress, as it means more families in Australia are no longer trying to manage alone. These families are breaking down barriers created by the stigma that surrounds perinatal mental illness to get the support they need. PANDA is incredibly proud of all the people who have reached out to us.

For more information click here.

tile text 'perinatal mental health week - breaking DOWN barriers - panda.org.au - 7-13 November 2021' & cartoon of max & woman sitting, woman holding baby

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: ACCHOs going above and beyond to get mob vaccinated

ACCHOs going above and beyond to get mob vaccinated.

ACCHOs going above and beyond to get mob vaccinated

On Tuesday night, NACCHO Director of Communicable Diseases, Emily Phillips spoke to John Paul Janke and Narelda Jacobs on SBS NITV The Point about COVID-19 vaccination rates, vaccine hesitancy and complacency, and the lifting of borders and other restrictions.

“We have seen services go above and beyond to get our mob vaccinated. We’ve had door-to-door vaccinations, we’ve had vax-a-thons, we’ve had barbeques. Whatever it takes, our services on the ground are going to do,” said Phillips.

“It’s really important that people go out and get vaccinated.”

You can watch episode 27 of season 2021 here.
Phillips joins the program at 15 minutes and 36 seconds.

NACCHO Director of Communicable Diseases, Emily Phillips on The Point, NITV.

 

WA rolls up sleeves during football festival

South West Aboriginal Medical Service (SWAMS) attended the GWABA Aboriginal Football Festival in Bunbury on Saturday 30 October 2021 where they had a COVID-19 Vaccination Clinic set up. They offered COVID-19 vaccines and provided general information about their services and programs to community. Thank you to everyone who Rolled Up for WA!

SWAMS at GWABA Aboriginal Football Festival 2021

SWAMS with COVID-19 vaccination clinic at GWABA Aboriginal Football Festival 2021.

Congratulations to ACT Senior Australian of the Year nominee

The ACT Council of Social Service (ACTCOSS) today congratulated Julie Tongs OAM, CEO of Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health and Community Services, on her the nomination for the Senior Australian of the Year award.

Julie Tongs is one of the ACT’s most prominent and respected community leaders. She has worked in the CEO position at Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health and Community Services for more than 20 years, advocating for health care services to be delivered in a culturally appropriate way to improve health outcomes for Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander peoples.

ACTCOSS CEO, Dr Emma Campbell said: “Julie Tongs is an an incredible leader, service provider and campaigner for Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander peoples in the ACT and beyond. She is a fearless advocate for people who face inequality and injustice not only in the health services sector but also on issues including child protection, justice, housing and the other social determinants of health and wellbeing.”

You can read more about Ms Tongs nomination in the ACTCOSS media release here.

Julie Tongs OAM, CEO of Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health and Community Services,

Julie Tongs OAM, CEO of Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health and Community Services.

Only half of mob fully vaccinated

According to SBS News, just 50.4 per cent of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 16 and older have received two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine, while 63 per cent have gotten their first jab as of Wednesday 27 October 2021. Across the country, about 76 per cent of all over-16s are double-dosed and nearly 88 per cent have received one dose.

Concerns were raised after more than 200 Indigenous workers at remote community stores, mostly in the Northern Territory, were left unvaccinated two weeks out from the jurisdiction’s jab mandate deadline.

More than 20 Aboriginal leaders and health professionals have sought a meeting with Prime Minister Scott Morrison, and his ministers for health and Indigenous Australians.

There is alarm about the lack of “realistic or actionable contingency plans” to deal with outbreaks agreed to by Aboriginal community-controlled organisations and Indigenous experts.

“It is evident that quarantine is currently near-impossible for those in overcrowded housing, as well as those without ready access to food, grocery and pharmaceutical delivery services,” the letter said.

You can read the article in SBS News here.

Half of Australia's Indigenous population are now fully vaccinated. Source: AAP.

Half of Australia’s Indigenous population are now fully vaccinated. Source: AAP.

The impact of climate change for mob

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities are on the frontlines of the climate emergency, with record temperatures, drought, and loss of biodiversity compounding social and health inequities caused by more than 200 years of colonisation.

It was reported this week that a group of five young Australians, including Wiradjuri teenager, Ethan Lyons, have lodged three human rights complaints with the United Nations over the Morrison Government’s inaction in climate change. And Torres Strait Islander communities, fearful that their islands will be wiped out by sea level incursion and storm damage, have also filed a class action arguing that the Australian Government must cut greenhouse gas emissions by 74 percent.

Affordable, secure energy supply is a critical issue in places like Tennant Creek, where residents are seeing an increasing number of days above 40 degrees Celsius, and the inside temperature of some homes can soar as high as 60 degrees Celsius.

Reliable energy supply takes on added importance for many in the community who require reliable power to undergo kidney dialysis, including Nor­man Jupurrurla Frank, a Waru­mungu Tra­di­tion­al Own­er who requires dialysis three times a week.

“The seasons don’t really match with our climate in our Country how it used to be,” he said.

You can read the article in Croakey Health Media here.

Nor­man Jupurrurla Frank by an important ancestral waterhole, Gurna. Photo courtesy of Mr Jupurrurla. Photo source: Croakey Health Media.

Nor­man Jupurrurla Frank by an important ancestral waterhole, Gurna. Photo courtesy of Mr Jupurrurla. Photo source: Croakey Health Media.

Tackling Aboriginal youth suicide in WA

An expert in the field of Indigenous suicide prevention is optimistic about progress being made to tackle the high rates of suicide in young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in WA following a report by the WA Ombudsman Chris Field. The report was tabled in WA Parliament evaluating the progress towards recommendations made in his previous report on the topic from last year. The Ombudsman’s investigation, Preventing suicide by children and young people 2020, made mention of the disproportionately high rate of suicide within the Indigenous population and included seven recommendations. Two of the recommendations were specific to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Bardi woman and Director of the UWA Centre of Best Practice in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention, Pat Dudgeon welcomed the follow-up report.

“What I liked about it was that they’ve followed through, that there is some kind of continuation rather than do a report and then let it gather dust and forget the issues,” she said.

You can read the article in National Indigenous Times here.

Tackling Aboriginal youth suicide in WA

Tackling Aboriginal youth suicide in WA. Image source: National Indigenous Times.

Costs of accreditation standards for ACCOs

Who benefits from the maze of accreditation standards affecting the work of Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations (ACCOs)?

This critical question is raised in an article by Croakey Health Media. Written by Jenifer Darr, a Yuwi Vanuatu woman and researcher, it invites ACCOs to participate in research investigating the impacts of accreditation standards on their work.

Australia has a national network of more than 154 Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations (ACCOs) providing holistic primary healthcare wrap around services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Accreditation Standards are premised on supporting quality improvement in the work of ACCOs. However, the application of multiple, different standards represents a significant business expense for ACCOs.

You can ready the article in Croakey Health Media here.

torso of doctor in white coat hand on stethoscope around neck

Image source: Armidale Express.

Yarrabah’s digital health journey

Episode 8 of Build ‘Em Up is a special podcast with guest host, Jen Beer, a Darlot woman who works with regional and remote communities for nbnTM. We chatted with the team at the Gurriny Yealamucka (Gurriny) Health Service Aboriginal Corporation at Yarrabah in Far North Queensland – Chief Executive Sue Andrews and Medical Director Dr Jason King.

Themes included expanding the medical perspective of primary care to encompass social, spiritual and cultural health, as well as the health service’s digital journey to prioritise high quality services, information and data.

Build ‘Em Up, which is supported by nbnTM, is available here.

'Build 'Em Up' podcast episode 8.

 

New process for job advertising

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Torres Strait leading way in vax numbers

Image in feature tile: a Torres Strait healthcare worker gets the coronavirus vaccine on Saibai Island. Image source: The Guardian.

Torres Strait leading way in vax numbers

The Torres Strait Islands are beating the national average for Indigenous vaccination, with 67% of over 12’s on the Islands having received a first dose, and 56% fully vaccinated..

Torres Strait Regional Authority Chair, Mr Napau Pedro Stephen AM, said clear communication with health authorities has been key for his people to get the jab. Past negative experiences with Government remained a cloud over the rollout for some Torres Strait Islander people, but Stephen said having their questions answered clearly builds trust.

“People in my age group, we’re in the 60s plus, we were still aware of what actually happened to Indigenous people in the past, and the things that are very much in the back of our mind is that whilst we step up to assume our responsibility, the government [has to] step up as well,” he said. “The trust will come when community know that you have given them all information that is available, but also when you actually sit with them and be honest, then they [know they will] make that decision at the end of the day, [and] that you trust them to do the right thing.”

NACCHO’s Dr Jason Agostino said the Torres Strait was identified early on as a priority area for vaccination against COVID-19. “For people, up on those northern islands like Saibai, there used to be really close relationships between the people of PNG, and the people of those islands,” Dr Agostino said.

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

Image source: The Australian.

Adequate health service funding critical

An annual health check-up on general practice in Australia, the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) General   of the Nation report draws on publicly available data, as well as the Health of the Nation survey of the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) Fellows from across Australia. The report shows promise for the future of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health – but adequate funding for GPs and Aboriginal health services is critical.

This year’s findings show there is strong and growing interest among GPs to work in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health. RACGP Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Chair, Professor Peter O’Mara, said “While we cannot ignore the gap in health outcomes between non-Indigenous people and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, this year’s Health of the Nation report offers us hope for the future.”

“On the workforce front, we continue to see growth in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander GPs, as well as interest in Aboriginal health among GPs in training. This is a positive step forward because we know that more GPs providing high-quality, culturally appropriate and accessible healthcare is key to closing the gap.

To view the article in full click here.

Aboriginal student medical training, stethoscope to female patient's chest

Growing the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander GP workforce is a fundamental part of Closing the Gap. Image: James Cook University General Practice Training. Image source: newsGP website.

Youth-onset type 2 diabetes alarming

A new study, Youth-onset type 2 diabetes among First Nations young people in northern Australia: a retrospective cross-sectional study, has found alarming rates of youth-onset type 2 diabetes among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people across northern Australia. The study uncovered what is arguably the highest reported prevalence in any population of youth internationally within the past 25 years and ten times higher than previously reported in Australia.

Only 14% of young people in the study, defined as before the age of 25 years, had blood glucose levels within recommended targets. For those falling outside of the target, the risk of developing complications such as kidney damage at a young age is significantly increased.

This reflects the reality that the majority of young people in this study are living in poverty with very high levels of educational disadvantage. They are also living with the impacts of intergenerational trauma including exposure to multiple adverse early childhood experiences which we know contributes greatly to the development of chronic disease in later life, including diabetes and metabolic syndrome. Lack of food security further compounds these issues.

To view the Menzies School of Health Research media release in full click here.

table with fruit, water bottle, oats, scales, stethoscope, slate with chalk word 'DIABETES'

Image source: Jammu Links News website.

Lockdown related family violence spike

Aboriginal social workers in the NSW town of Bourke fear that lockdowns have created a spike in rates of domestic and family violence.

Gomeroi man and Manager of Bourke Aboriginal Corporation’s Social and Emotional Wellbeing Program at their Centre for Excellence and Wellbeing Joseph Clarke said lockdowns are not only keeping victims of domestic and family violence at home with perpetrators, but also making it much harder for them to report the violence. “Domestic and family violence is running rampant,” he said. “COVID is being used as a weapon. Basically, [perpetrators say] ‘you can’t go anywhere, you have to stay home,’ whether that be the male or the female perpetrator, it doesn’t matter.”

Social epidemiologist Dr Vanessa Lee-Ah Mat is from the Yupungathi and Meriam people and sits on the Domestic Violence NSW Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Women’s Steering Committee. She said they have found an increase in domestic and family violence in Aboriginal communities that isn’t reflected in reported statistics.

To view the article in full click here.

blurred image man's clenched fist, woman sitting in background

Image source: ABC News.

FASD Hub Australia feedback survey

FASD Hub Australia is currently conducting a feedback survey to evaluate the user experience of the website and seek feedback on its accessibility, content and usefulness, as well as suggestions for improvement. Ethics approval has been received from the University of Sydney Human Research Ethics Committee.

Feedback is important for improving and enhancing the website and is an opportunity to make more informed choices about content. It will also help FASD Hub Australia to meet their mission of being the leading source of high quality, evidence-based content about alcohol and pregnancy and FASD in Australia.

The full version survey will take approximately 5-10 minutes to complete and participants can enter a draw to win one of six $50 e-gift cards. The survey closes on Friday 12 November 2021.

FASD Australia logo blue & orange links, image of mum holding sleeping baby to chest

Hunting restrictions during pandemic

Regulations have made it difficult for some Indigenous Australians to carry out cultural hunting and fishing practices, according to two ANU academics.

You can listen to Stewart Sutherland, Senior Lecturer in Indigenous Health, and Amanda Wingett Associate Lecturer in Indigenous Health for On Country discuss the importance of cultural hunting to First Nations communities on the ABC Radio National Overnights with Rod Quinn here.

Aboriginal hunter Robert Gaykamangu, of the Yolngu people, carries a Magpie Goose he successfully shot as he wades through a billabong near the 'out station' of Ngangalala, located on the outksirts of the community of Ramingining in East Arnhem Land

Aboriginal hunter Robert Gaykamangu, of the Yolngu people, carries a Magpie Goose he successfully shot. Photo: David Gray, Reuters.

A related article in The Conversation examines the link between restrictions on cultural hunting and food insecurity. Western NSW, for example, has been significantly affected by rising COVID-19 cases in Aboriginal communities, with people becoming increasingly food insecure. Some have limited financial resources to purchase food, which in rural and remote areas, is comparatively overpriced.

People are also having to rely on food donations and this has worsened the longer lockdowns have continued. Earlier in the pandemic, Aboriginal people in Wilcannia had maintained their cultural practice of hunting kangaroo and distributing the butchered meat to families within the township. However, health authorities discouraged residents from hunting and distributing roo meat in August this year.

The author of the article argues Australia’s governments must find a way for public health orders and cultural food practices to work together. To view The Conversation article in full click here. You can also view a video about an initiative to deliver kangaroo meat to mob during the pandemic below.

Quality use of medicine program survey 

NPS MedicineWise is developing a new program aimed at promoting the safe and effective quality use of medicine (QUM) approach to the provision of medicines to residents of remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities under the Remote Area Aboriginal Health Services (RAAHS) program.

As part of this program, NPS MedicineWise is seeking feedback from health professions who are working in rural and remote areas to help inform the program direction and interventions. The feedback is key to delivering a nationally available and sustainable online solution that is accessible to any remote health service that provides medicines to patients/consumers.

You can access the survey here.

multiple coloured pills, capsules, tablets

Image source: Australian Journal of Pharmacy.

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.

Cultural Safety and Well Being Review results

Be among the first to see the results of The First Nations Australians, Cultural Safety and Well Being Evidence Review and seize the opportunity to give feedback by attending the Cultural Safety and Well Being Evidence Review Stake Holder Feedback Session on Zoom from 1:30-3:00 PM on Thursday 11 November 2021 using this link.

During this session the Social Policy Research Centre, UNSW and Gamarada Universal Indigenous Resources Pty Ltd will provide a summary presentation on the findings of the review and an opportunity to incorporate your feedback.

The session will be recorded. If you do not wish to be recorded please inform us by the Tuesday 9 November 2021 and we will ensure that you have an opportunity to view the presentation and provide feedback.

Participating in the session will be: the Office of the Children’s Guardian, TEI funded services, ACCHOs across NSW as well as academic colleagues and service providers experienced in the field of cultural safety.

Further information about the First Nations Australians, Cultural Safety and Well Being Evidence Review can be found here.

young Aboriginal girl with body paint on face

Image source: SNAICC.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: PM urged to address mob’s low vax rates

The image in the feature tile is from The Australian Medical Journal.

PM urged to address mob’s low vax rates

Indigenous leaders and health professionals have written to PM Scott Morrison seeking an urgent meeting about low COVID-19 vaccination rates among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. More than 20 leaders, including Professor Peter Yu from The Australian National University (ANU), have signed the letter, which outlines the “gravest concerns” at continuing low levels of COVID-19 vaccination in Indigenous Australian communities.

The letter comes as a number of states, including NSW and Victoria, have eased COVID-19 related restrictions. Currently more than 75% of the overall Australian population aged 16 and older is fully vaccinated. In contrast, 46% of Indigenous Australians have had two COVID-19 vaccine shots.

To view the ANU media release in full click here.

Professor Peter Yu, Vice-President First Nations at ANU. Image source: ANU website.

Yarning about sexual health webinar

The Aboriginal Health & Medical Research Council (AH&MRC) is inviting you to join the ‘Yarning about sexual health through the 715’ webinar rom 10:00 AM-11:00 AM, Tuesday 2 November 2021. This webinar will offer culturally appropriate presentations by two clinicians who are well versed within the field of sexual health and who are dedicated to assisting our mob close the Gap in the high prevalence rates in STIs and BBVs.

The webinar is recommend for Aboriginal Health Workers and Aboriginal Health Practitioners within the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Service sector, as it is aimed at assisting and providing education for them. Other clinicians are also welcome to join.

The webinar will consist of brief statistics, bringing up conversation around sexual health testing through the annual health check-up, or as some may know it, the 715. It will also be addressing how to assist clients and support them if they have a complicated STI and/or BBV and referral pathways for them. The AH&MRC hope to see you there as it will be very informative and an opportunity to ask questions!

For more information about the webinar and to register click here.

hands of Aboriginal man & woman holding hands

Image source: CKN website.

Pharmacist training course input sought

NACCHO and The Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (PSA) are co-designing a training course for pharmacists to build their knowledge and skills for working in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Service settings.

We are seeking input from AHS staff, pharmacists and clinicians on what should be included in the course through this online survey (it should take under 10 minutes to complete).

Alternatively you can contact NACCHO project officer Fran Vaughan on 0417 826 617 or by email here or Hannah Loller, PSA on 0438 783 432 or by email here.

female pharmacist at counter

Image source: NT News.

Camps for Yolngu youth

The East Arnhem Regional Council will run a series of camps over two years for young Yolngu people to deepen their connection with their culture, backed by $150,000 from the Aboriginals Benefit Account (ABA). These camps will see Yolngu youth immerse themselves in their culture, engage with their Elders, develop their leadership skills and participate in positive social activities. Minister for Indigenous Australians, the Hon Ken Wyatt AM, MP, said that being connected with land and culture is vital for young Indigenous Australians.

“Culture is core to a person’s identity and how they relate to the world,” Minister Wyatt said. “We know that when young Indigenous Australians have strong bonds with their culture, they are more likely to thrive and less likely to suffer from social, emotional and mental health issues – that’s why we’re helping support more ways they can participate in cultural practices.”

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

Michael Yunupingu, NE Arnhem Land

Michael Yunupingu, NE Arnhem Land. Photo: Peter Eve. Image source: The Australian.

Preventive Health Conference scholarships

The PHAA Oral Health Special Interest Group (PHAA Oral Health SIG) is offering student scholarships (the Award) to members who have contributed to the advancement of dental public health at national, state or community levels, have submitted an abstract to the Preventive Health Conference 2022, which has been accepted for presentation subject to peer-review.

The Award can be used to cover the registration costs (in-part or in-full) for student towards the virtual or in-person attendance at the Preventive Health Conference 2022 in Brisbane, QLD. Limited number of scholarships are on offer. Recipients of the Award must acknowledge the PHAA Oral Health SIG in any publications and presentations relevant to the abstract acceptance.

For more information click here.

Working with us, not for us

Bond University academics, Kelly Menzel, Assistant Professor, First Nations Health and Richard Matthews, Associate Professor of Medical Ethics have written an article about the need to work with, rather than for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

As a First Nations Australian academic, Kelly is often approached to give guest lectures. She aims to accept these invitations as she believes acts of reciprocity and relationality are essential building blocks for reconciliation.

Unfortunately, on many occasions, her knowledge is appropriated, reproduced without permission, frequently misconstrued, or misrepresented and colonised in some way. This all happens under the guise of a non-Indigenous person having “good intentions”. In addition, Kelly is frequently micromanaged regarding her Indigenous knowledges. Good intentions are not enough. What settlers need to understand are the principles of proper allyship.

This requires not acting on behalf of someone, but ceding space and decisional authority to others, and privileging the voices and experiences of First Nations Peoples and communities. First Nations communities must get to decide on all matters related to themselves and their knowledges. Allies need to understand this is not negotiable.

To the article in full click here.

Aboriginal woman at desk speaking with non-Indigenous people

Image source: University of Melbourne website.

Health + Wellbeing Equality Index

Pride in Health + Wellbeing run a free national annual index (Health + Wellbeing Equality Index) that is open to every organisation, including non-members, to measure their LGBTQ inclusive service delivery.

This benchmarking index has been designed based on international best practice standards for LGBTQ inclusive care and can assist service providers to baseline their current LGBTQ inclusion work, benchmark across the sector and identify gaps and areas for improvement as well as year-on-year growth. Individualised reports are sent to participating services and participation can be anonymous.

The HWEI also has optional staff and service user surveys. These allow services to not only measure what they are doing organisationally but see how well staff are responding to the o and their understanding and comfort levels in providing LGBTQ inclusion. It also then matches your inclusion work to service user experience, to see if the inclusion initiatives are improving the quality of care being received.

More information can be found on the pride in health + wellbeing website here.

New process for job advertising

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Healing response for child sexual abuse

Healing response to child sexual abuse

Yesterday the Australian Government launched the National Strategy to Prevent and Respond to Child Sexual Abuse (2021-2030) (the National Strategy), a 10 year whole-of-nation framework. PM Scott Morrison said the landmark National Strategy was the first of its kind, “the first ever long-term, truly national plan to protect our children from the scourge of sexual abuse.” To the PM’s media release click here.

As part of this National Strategy an independent Indigenous expert group has been formed to co-design a new program to support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander child sexual abuse survivors and their families.

Supporting Healing for Families, one of two distinct initiatives in the National Strategy focused on Indigenous Australians, will support place-based, Indigenous-led healing approaches to strengthen families and improve wellbeing. A second initiative will deliver a suite of trauma-aware, healing-informed and culturally appropriate resources to frontline health workers so the needs of Indigenous Australians seeking help are better tailored for, both in person and via telehealth conversations.

Minister for Indigenous Australians, the Hon Ken Wyatt AM, MP said ‘‘the specific needs of Indigenous Australians, including connections to culture, country and language, have been a key part of the development of the National Strategy. Through the Indigenous Expert Group we’re sharing key decision-making processes including the identification of five communities and corresponding service providers to trial new approaches. Experts from the NACCHO and Gayaa Dhuwi (Proud Spirit) Australia will be part of the expert group.”

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

Image source: 2ser107.3 website.

QAIHC launches bespoke vax website

In a push to drive increased vaccination numbers and reduce the gap in numbers between First Nations people and the general population, QAIHC enlisted New World Order to design one of the first bespoke COVID-19 vaccine websites in Australia.

This new website aims to fill a vital gap in the market by providing vaccine information directly to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. The issues facing QAIHC with regard to the general vaccine rollout included:

  • too much available information
  • the information was poorly explained
  • too hard to find as it wasn’t centrally located
  • concerns It was not culturally safe.

Gert Geyer, communications officer, QAIHC said: “[New World Order] delivered a beautifully designed, culturally safe and user friendly COVID-19 vaccine website for First Nations people in Queensland.”

To view the article in full click here.

CAAC’s vax outreach program needs time

Central Australian Aboriginal Congress (CAcc) CEO Donna Ah Chee says her organisation’s outreach [COVID-19 vaccination] program is starting to see small results but needs time. “It’s not about sitting in the clinic and waiting for people to come into the clinic,” she said. “It’s about getting out there and speaking to people … in order for them to have their questions and their hesitancy thought through.”

Grandmother Annie Young, who proudly calls herself the first to get vaccinated in Santa Teresa, is worried about the misinformation spreading among residents, and spearheads regular community meetings for residents to talk through their concerns.

Aboriginal health groups have been pushing for a vaccination target of 90 to 95% in Aboriginal communities before the Territory’s border restrictions are lifted. CAAC CEO Ms Ah Chee warns COVID-19 could “run rampant” and “overwhelm” communities where vaccination coverage is low. She says the virus could be devastating for elderly people “who, in our thinking, are our universities …that sort of knowledge will go just like that because of this virus.”

Ms Ah Chee says false rumours about the vaccines, especially those circulating on social media, will continue to make it difficult for health workers on the ground in some communities to convince people to get vaccinated. “Stop it. Stop spreading the misinformation because it is going to kill people,” she says.

To view the ABC News article in full click here.

Annie Young from shoulders standing outside, trees/buildings in background

Annie Young was the first person to receive a COVID-19 vaccine in her community. Photo: Eleni Roussos, ABC News

Vax success stories and myths webinar

The Menzies School of Health Research and Telethon Kids Institute will be hosting a COVID-19 Vaccine Workshop – Sharing Success Stories & Smashing Myths on 3:30 PM Darwin time (5-6 PM AEST) Wednesday 3 November 2021 to help promote COVID-19 vaccine uptake across the NT and northern WA. The event will be held in person at Menzies (in Darwin) with a zoom link up to some presenters and peripheral sites.

There are two parts to the workshop:

Sharing Success Stories – with presentations from key health services including AMSANT, Central Australian Aboriginal Congress, Danila Dilba Health Service, Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Service, Mala’la Health Service and others

Smashing Myths Q&A – where the audience can ask questions about COVID-19 vaccines – vaccines in pregnancy, vaccines in children, booster shots, vaccines in the context of RHD etc.

Members of the Q&A panel include Margie Danchin (MCRI/ ATAGI), Chris Blyth (WCVID TKI/ ATAGI), Jane Davies (NT COVID Clinical Lead) and Bhavini Patel (NT Health COVID Vaccine Lead).

You can access a flyer for the workshop here and a program for the workshop here.

Getting vax an act of love

Redfern’s Community Chaplain, Pastor Ray Minniecon, recently made a compelling video urging people to get the COVID-19 vaccination. Paster Minniecon regard the simple act of becoming vaccinated as an act of love for family and community, encouraging all to get vaccinated as quickly as possible.

There have been many barriers for Aboriginal communities to access the vaccine and culturally safe healthcare during the pandemic. However, for some communities access to health services is a struggle that predates the COVID-19 pandemic.

Aboriginal people have faced decades of exclusion from government decision making resulting in poor and inappropriate housing and service provision which has impacted their health.

To view the full article in the Croakey click here.

Webinar series to address vax concerns

With increasing cases of COVID-19 in the Community, NACCHO will begin running a series of webinars to address emerging concerns from the sector and share approaches and success stories our services. The focus will be on responses within the health services to respond to COVID-19.

The first session on Tuesday 2 November will be on “Minimising risk of COVID-19 transmission in the clinic: PPE and staff vaccination”. Staff from Winnunga Nimmityjah in Canberra will share their experience through the recent COVID-19 outbreak. Over 180 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the ACT have been infected with COVID-19. Winnunga has been a central part of the response, acting as a major testing and vaccination centre. They will discuss their strategies to minimise exposure to staff to keep the clinic open, including their mandatory staff vaccination policy

The webinar will cover:

You can access the link to Tuesday’s webinar here.

Image source: News Medical Life Sciences website.

ACCOs role in youth SEWB programs

University of Wollongong (UOW) researcher Dr Marlene Longbottom has been awarded a $1.2m grant from the Australian Research Council (ARC) as part of the Discovery Indigenous Scheme, announced Wednesday 27 October 2021.

The grant will investigate how Indigenous community-controlled organisations in the health, justice and child protection sectors develop and implement culturally and community grounded programs, that can guide and improve the safety and wellbeing of young Indigenous people between the ages of 10-24.

Furthermore, the project seeks to better understand the unique perspectives, strengths and limitations of organisations who provide critical support to young Indigenous people in contact with the carceral system.

To view the media release in full click here.

Dr Marlene Longbottom

Grant recipient Dr Marlene Longbottom. UOW website.

Aunty Pat Ockwell tells her story

Patricia Nicholson’s dad employed an exotic method of saving his children from being taken away by what Aboriginal families knew as “the Welfare”. When he opened a can of food, he opened it from the bottom and stacked it back in the cupboard the right way up with all the other emptied cans.

“The Welfare had said that Mum was an unfit mother,” relates Patricia, now a senior elder of the Wurundjeri people and known for many years as Aunty Pat Ockwell. “But she wasn’t — she was just having kids. Anyway, they came in to inspect the house [at that time in Dimboola, a Wimmera town more than 330 kilometres north-west of Melbourne].

“Well, when the Welfare went through the cupboard … they just opened the doors and saw the tins. They said ‘oh, there’s food here’. They only looked with their white eyes and couldn’t see we were a family who were loved. The place where we lived had an earth floor. Well, they thought that was bad conditions. But it wasn’t. We were just poor.”

Patricia, now 84 and long a powerful leader of her people, has finally told her life story and published it in a large and handsome book entitled simply Aunty Pat Ockwell Tells Her Story with Pauline Mackinnon.

To view the article in full click here.

Aunty Pat Ockwell

Wurundjeri leader Aunty Pat Ockwell. Image source: The Age.

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.

Blue Knot Day

Blue Knot Day is an Australian national day held every year in October on which Blue Knot Foundation calls on all Australians to unite in support of the more than 5 million Australian adults who have experienced complex trauma.

Blue Knot Day 2021 is being held today Thursday 28 October 2021. Events will be held around the country in support of adult survivors during the week from Monday 24 October to Sunday 31 October 2021.

Blue Knot Day is day for all Australians to unite in support of adult survivors of complex trauma. By empowering recovery, we also foster hope and resilience. The tangled knot in Blue Knot’s logo symbolises the tangle of complex trauma while the blue in the logo represents to sky. A clear blue sky opens up the space for new possibilities for healing and recovery.

For more information click here.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Victoria redoubles vax effort for mob

feature tile test 'Victoria redoubles efforts to get mob VACCINATED' & image of young Aboriginal male getting the vax

Photo in feature tile from the National Indigenous Times.

Victoria redoubles vax efforts for mob

The Victorian Government – in partnership with Aboriginal community controlled organisations – is redoubling efforts to close the gap between Indigenous and non- Indigenous vaccination rates.

As Victoria races towards its next roadmap target, mobile outreach vans, culturally sensitive pop-ups and surge workforce teams are being deployed across Victoria offering more opportunities to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders to get vaccinated. The community-led response recognises that while uptake among the community is high compared to other Australian jurisdictions, it remains lower than the broader Victorian population.

To view the media release in full click here.

Victoria Health Minister Martin Foley speaking to press

Health Minister Martin Foley said more needs to be done to boost vaccination rates in Indigenous communities. Photo: VACCHO, Twitter. Image source: SBS News.

Second SEWB Gathering gets underway

The second Social and Emotional Wellbeing (SEWB) Gathering got underway this morning in Perth WA and will run over three days. The three day event will be featured across the co-host social media platforms – Transforming Indigenous Mental Health and Wellbeing (TIMHWB) and the Centre of Best Practice in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention (CBPATSISP).

Highlights over the three days which will include:

  • Welcome to Country by Mr Nigel Wilkes Snr (Mungart Yongah Traditional Owner of Swan River) and Aunty Liz Hayden.
  • Keynote address by Pat Turner AM (NACCHO).
  • Opening addresses by Professor Tom Calma AO, Associate Professor Ted Wilkes, Professor Helen Milroy and Professor Pat Dudgeon (TIMHWB).
  • Traditional Healers from NPY Women’s Council and the Yiriman Project.

The three day program will see delegates following up on previous recommendations and renew the national mental health and SEWB Framework in day one, in day two they will examine issues about workforce, and the third day focuses on tertiary mental health and the role of Traditional Healers in the mental health system.

For further information click here.

Professor Pat Dudgeon at SEWB Gathering Perth Mar 2021

Professor Pat Dudgeon presenting at the first SEWB Gathering in Perth, March 2021.

caring@home launches art competition

caring@home for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Families, a national palliative care project funded by the Australian Government has launched an Indigenous Art Competition. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists are being invited to submit a piece of art based on the theme ‘Journey to Dreaming at Home.’

This theme highlights an important aspect of palliative care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people – a preference for care during the end-of-life journey to be provided at home.

Cash prizes are on offer in a number of categories and entries close on Wednesday 9 February 2022, with winners announced on 17 March 2022; National Close the Gap Day. The winning artworks will be used to illustrate resources being developed by caring@home for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Families.

For more information about the competition click here and to access a poster about the event click here. The online entry form and terms and conditions are available here.

NT Story of Our Children report update

Minister for Children, Lauren Moss, says a  publication released today provides a comprehensive picture of the wellbeing of children and young people across the NT, building on the inaugural Story of Our Children and Young People published in 2019.

The Territory Labor Government publication, prepared by Menzies School of Health Research, provides statistical information across all areas of child development including: being valued, loved and safe; having material basics; being healthy; learning; participating; and having a positive sense of identity and culture. It lays the foundation to inform and guide policy, ensuring that Government programs and resources are targeted where they are needed.

The 2021 Story builds on the 2019 edition with the development of an online data platform which makes available further information by region, sub-region and Aboriginal status, to support easier access to important data for our children and young people.

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

You can access the 2019 Story of Our Children and Young People report including updates here.

covers of 5 booklets covering different NT regions that form part of the 2019 NT Story of Our Children & Young People report

The Story of Our children and Young People 2019 report separates data into five regional areas: Barkly, Big Rivers, Central, East Arnhem and Greater Darwin and Top End.

Rural health workforce program

A key rural health workforce program that enables nursing and dental students and trainee doctors to train in regional and rural Australia is being extended for another three years. Federal Regional Health Minister, Dr David Gillespie said the Rural Health Multidisciplinary Training (RHMT) program provides high-quality clinical rural training experiences for students in a range of career paths, including GPs, nurses, dentists and allied health professionals.

The program is another way the Federal Government is working to address the shortage of medical, nursing and allied health practitioners in rural locations. Dr Gillespie said the 20-year-old RHMT program was continuing to drive a shift in health and medical education and training in regional and rural Australia. “The program has supported more than 31,000 short-term to year-long rural medical  placements over the past five years,” Dr Gillespie said.

To view the media release in full click here.

blood pressure being taken with stethoscope, arm on wooden bench

Image source: Australian Medical Association.

Honorary doctorate for NT elder

Well-respected First Nations senior elder, educator and champion for women and children, Grace Miguyie Daniels (Gotjan), has been presented with an honorary doctorate from Charles Darwin University (CDU) in recognition of her contribution to the NT. The on-country graduation ceremony for Dr Daniels was held in Ngukurr on the banks of the Roper River in southern Arnhem Land on Friday 22 October 2021.

A proud Budal woman and a senior elder of the Marra clan, Dr Daniels has held key roles in the community, particularly as a founding member and co-chair of the Aboriginal Research Practitioners Network (ARPNet), which is hosted by CDU’s Research Institute for the Environment and Livelihoods.

For further information click here.

Dr Grace Miguyie Daniels receives an honorary Doctor of Letters from CDU on-country

Dr Grace Miguyie Daniels receives an honorary Doctor of Letters from Charles Darwin University at an on-country ceremony in Ngukurr. Image source: CDU website.

Rural Woman of the Year – Cara Peek

Regional Development Minister Alannah MacTiernan said the McGowan Government congratulates Broome-based lawyer, entrepreneur and social innovator Cara Peek, who has won the national 2020 AgriFutures Rural Women’s Award. Ms Peek, a Yawuru / Bunubu woman, won the Western Australian accolade in April 2020, however COVID-19 restrictions delayed the announcement of the national winner, with the presentation conducted online today from Canberra.

Passionate about driving opportunities to empower the Aboriginal people in rural and remote communities, Ms Peek’s work spans improving social, emotional and economic wellbeing. Ms Peek is chair of Saltwater Academy, which celebrates the heritage of the Kimberley Aboriginal pastoral industry, providing related cultural initiatives, including training and employment opportunities – building on the legacy of strength and resilience of Aboriginal stockmen and women.

To view the media release in full click here and for a more detailed account of the awards click here.

Cara Peek

Cara Peek. Image source: Farm Weekly.

New process for job advertising

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Vax rollout to WA mob continues to suffer

feature tile text 'WA ACCHOs work to break through COVID-19 vaccine misinformation' & image of road sign with kms to Fitzroy Crossing etc

Vax rollout to WA mob continues to suffer

The vaccine rollout to WA mob continues to suffer as Aboriginal Medical Services work to break through misinformation about the vaccine. The Federal Health Department’s weekly breakdown of Indigenous COVID-19 vaccination data by geographical area shows that nine of the nation’s 16 least vaccinated regions are in WA.

The State’s highest vaccination rate for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people is in the inner suburbs of Perth, where 49.25% of those eligible have received their first jab and 36% have received a second.

However, it’s WA’s south-west, the Bunbury region, that’s the next most vaccinated area in the State. In the region, 37.28% of eligible Indigenous people have received one vaccine dose, and 24% are double jabbed. Those numbers lift the south-west above any of Perth’s outer suburbs, Mandurah, the Wheatbelt and the far Outback areas – regions which have the lowest rate of vaccination anywhere in the nation.

Lesley Nelson is the CEO of the South West Aboriginal Medical Service (SWAMS), which provides medical services to mob throughout the region. Despite the south-west leading most of Perth’s metro areas for vaccination rates, Ms Nelson is still deeply concerned that there aren’t enough vaccines in arms. “We’ve had good uptake in Bunbury, but we are still well behind the goal of 80%,” she said.

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

5 female SWAMS staff standing in line in front of large tree

SWAMS staff. Image source: National Indigenous Times.

QLD borders open without community consultation

The Queensland Aboriginal and Islander Health Council (QAIHC) Chair, Matthew Cooke expressed ‘profound disappointment’ that the state government had not consulted with the Indigenous community before setting a date to open the state’s borders.

The state’s borders are set to open to domestic travellers at 70% vaccination, expected on 19 November 2021. As of October 20, Indigenous vaccination rates in Queensland sits at 40% with a single dose of a vaccine and 30% double dosed, with the general population at 58% and 73% respectively.

Cooke called for an urgent meeting with the Premier to address the impact that reopening would have on Indigenous people, who are vaccinated at a rate 30% lower than the general population. “She didn’t even consult her own Chief Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Officer before releasing that new COVID vaccine plan for Queensland and setting the date on opening borders, and she has not reached out to the peak health body in Queensland for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health,” he said.

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

QAIHC Chair Matthew Cooke.

Top 3 vax questions answered

Dr Lucas De Toca, COVID-19 Primary Care Response First Assistant Secretary, Department of Health (DoH) has answered the Top Three questions received across DoH channels:

  1. What is Ronapreve and how can it help treat COVID-19?
  2. My child is feeling anxious after lockdown, how can I best support them as they return to school?
  3. If I need one, how long do I need to wait before I can receive a third COVID-19 vaccine dose and where can I get one?

You can listen to Dr Lucas De Toca answering these questions in the below video and access a transcript of the video here.

ACT resists compulsory vax for prison staff

The ACT government is resisting compulsory COVID-19 vaccinations for staff at Canberra’s prison despite calls for a jab mandate from an Indigenous health leader.

“We acknowledge in the ACT public service that the AMC is an example of a high risk setting, if we were going to consider such a measure,” ACT health minister Ms Stephen-Smith told the ABC. “But it is very different to disability support work or healthcare work or residential aged care in that correctional services officers are not providing close personal care to detainees.”

Julie Tongs, the CEO of Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health Service, threw her support behind the ACT’s jab mandate for all healthcare workers, earlier this month. But says the mandate doesn’t go far enough and is calling for all prison officers and detention staff be vaccinated.

“I have been advocating since the very beginning of the COVID pandemic for special measures to be adopted to ensure that people detained in the AMC and other places of detention in the ACT, namely Bimberi and Dhuwal, to be accorded the highest possible levels of protection against the virus,” Ms Tongs says.

To view the CanberraCity News article in full click here.

image of inside of Alexander Maconochie Centre

Alexander Maconochie Centre. Image source: ABC News.

Pharmacist reconciliation journey continues

A group of companies have had the first meeting of the Reconciliation Action Plan Health Industry Network. The new network has been formed out of the Pharma Australia Industry Group (PAIG) and currently includes over 20 companies from the pharmaceutical and medical technology sectors.

The goal is to create a regular forum for sharing lessons and learnings between organisations on their own reconciliation journey. Fiona Sheppard, the co-chair of PAIG and diversity, equity and inclusion Leader at J&J, helped establish the new RAP Health Industry Network after receiving positive feedback on the PAIG sessions focused
on reconciliation.

“Across the industry, we are all at different stages of our reconciliation journey. Through this collaborative network, we hope organisations across the pharmaceutical and medical device industries can have open discussions, share knowledge and reflect on learnings to help each other progress meaningful action around reconciliation with Indigenous communities,” she said.

To view the BioPharmaDispatch media release in full click here.

Image source: Retail Pharmacy.

A man for the mob

Dedicated to community and built for opportunity, Indigenous business Minbaringu Services is making a difference through what they do and who they are. Operating in the Pilbara, Minbaringu provides electrical services; heating, ventilation, air conditioning (HVAC); PV solar power; and environmental and waste management services.

Minbaringu is led by director Richard Walker, who leads by example with his strong values on Indigenous employment and community connection. A man with a passion for mob and Country, he has maternal and paternal links to Ngarluma and Ngamal communities.  “I didn’t want to bring kids in, chew them up and spit them out. Now, Minbaringu is Indigenous-owned, and we have Indigenous tradies working for us,” he said.

“One of the biggest things for me with the business is how we support the community, particularly with mental health and youth suicide,” he said. “We want that big brother relationship; it doesn’t have to be getting involved in their personal business but it’s making sure support is there. We know that if we do this internally, that flows our into their communities, and their families.”

“I lost a couple of close friends and a family relative to youth suicide. That really shook me and affected me when I was a young fella,” he said. “I’ve lost too many friends. I’ve lost too many people to this. I want to make a change.”

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

Minbaringu Director Richard Walker sitting on stump in grass field, town in background

Minibaringu Director Richard Walker. Image source: National Indigenous times.

New camp kitchen for healing camp program

Shields for Living, Tools for Life cultural healing camps are a genuine alternative to youth in NT detention. Thanks to donors who have contributed to a funding campaign for CAASE’s bush kitchen trailer, the target $50,000 has been raised.

We are enlisting the support of the youth in detention to create artwork to personalise the bush kitchen and take on their cultural healing camps on Country!! The bush kitchen will provide a mobile home – kitchen and camper and shade shelter – catering for bush food and cold foods.

The CASSE team is very excited to hit the road with this bush kitchen next year. We have up to a dozen country camps to deliver on Country in five remote communities and some day camps at Desert Knowledge Australia (DKA). The bush kitchen will be stationed like a mobile cafeteria!

To view the story in full click here.

old camp kitchen, new trailer kitchen

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.

Children’s Week 2021

Children’s Week is an annual event celebrated in Australia held around the fourth Wednesday in October. In 1996 it was decided to adopt a permanent theme: “A Caring World Shares” as a reflection of Children’s Week aims while at the same time acknowledging the designated year on national posters and other printed materials.

Children’s Week celebrates the right of children to enjoy childhood. It is also a time for children to demonstrate their talents, skills and abilities. Thousands of children and their families around the country are involved in activities and events during “The Week” through the participation of schools, playgroups, childcare, kindergartens, cultural groups, libraries, departments and community groups.

The Children’s Week National Theme for 2021 is: Children have the right to choose their own friends and safely connect with others.

Children’s Week 2021 will be held between Saturday 23 October – Sunday 31 October 2021.

For more information about Children’s week click here.

group of Aboriginal children & Children's Week logo vector world with 4 children

Indigenous kids at Nhulunbuy, NT. Image source: Huffpost.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: NDIS workforce critical given high disability rates

feature tile text 'NDIS workforce critical given high rates of disability among First Nations peoples' & rear silhouette view of elderly lady in wheelchair looking up at blue sky & clouds

NDIS workforce critical given high disability rates

NACCHO CEO recently appeared before the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) Joint Committee. In her opening comments, Pat Turner said “the NDIS workforce is an absolutely critical issue for our people and communities, given our high rates of disability. As you are aware, the National Agreement on Closing the Gap demonstrates a commitment from all levels of government to changing the way policies and programs affecting our people are developed and delivered.”

“Shared decision-making between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and government, strengthening the community controlled sector, improving mainstream organisations, and improving collection of and access to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander data are the priority reforms that underpin the national agreement. NACCHO’s submission [to the NDIS Joint Committee] outlines the need for and provides recommendations about how government can support and build a sustainable, community controlled NDIS workforce.”

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are twice as likely to experience a disability as other Australians. Currently, 9.6% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are NDIS participants. However, there is a severe underutilisation of plans by Aboriginal and Torres Strait people nationally when compared to other Australians. A key barrier for many of our people who are currently on NDIS plans is that they are unable to access culturally safe services or, in many cases, any services. I need to make this very clear: this is not just a remote issue but one also faced by our regional and urban communities. To ensure the successful uptake and utilisation of NDIS and disability services, a multidisciplinary and competent workforce is needed to support and provide services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

However, the community controlled care and health sector is facing major workforce challenges where demand will outstrip the supply of suitably skilled and job-ready Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander employees. This shortage will impact access to culturally appropriate, effective and efficient support and assistance needed by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

To access the full transcript of what Pat Turner said at the NDIS Joint Committee click here.

Pat Turner. Image source: Sydney Morning Herald.

Most vaccinated community in Central Australia

The low rate of COVID-19 vaccinations in Indigenous Australians continues to cause concern for politicians desperate to reopen borders, but one community near Alice Springs has turned that on its head with 94% of the eligible population having received at least one dose.

One major reason for the community’s success was the push by Sarah Gallagher, a long-term health worker in the community, who has almost single-handedly persuaded residents to get the jab.  “We’ve seen it everywhere. Our community heard about it, seen the news, it’s everywhere,” she said. “Our community people have been saying, ‘we’ve got to think about ourselves here. This is a good community, we need to go to the clinic and get vaccinated’.”

Health workers who service the community have also credited strong male leadership in the community in the uptake success. Jonathan Doolan, who has lived in Utju for 20 years, said the community had felt fear and uncertainty about COVID. “Some are getting scared of this thing and some really aren’t sure what they need to do,” said Mr Doolan. “We’re giving them the message and people will come to have the needle, have the thing.”

The combined efforts of Ms Gallagher’s commitment to her community and Mr Doolan’s leadership, has led to success, but the formula has proven difficult to replicate in other communities struggling to promote vaccination. “People trust me. I live here in my community and people trust me,” Ms Gallagher said. The health clinic in Utju is run by the Indigenous-controlled Central Australian Aboriginal Congress (CAAC) and not the NT Government, which is the case for some other remote health clinics.

To view the ABC News article in full click here.

Sarah Gallagher & Jonathan Dooley, Areyonga

Sarah Gallagher and Jonathan Dooley have been crucial in encouraging residents of Areyonga to get vaccinated. Photo: Steven Schubert, ABC Alice Springs. Image source: ABC News.

New COVID-19 vax resources from NSW Health

NSW Health have put together a range of updated COVID-19 vaccination resources for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, including:

  • updated sorry business poster and factsheet to reflect new restrictions
  • updated self-isolation rules
  • new community champion vaccination postcards
  • community champion videos: Blake Tatafu; BudjerahCorey Tutt; Lesley Armstrong
  • updated ‘release and recovery from COVID-19’ factsheet with new advice about vaccination for recovered cases.

All the above resources, as well as the social media resources listed below, can be found on the NSW Government website here.

NSW Health will also be hosting another Yarn Up Q&A at 3:00PM Tuesday 26 October 2021 on the NSW Health Facebook page. This series will focus on the facts about COVID-19 vaccination, responding to some of the misinformation circulating through the community. If you have any questions you think would be valuable to include, please let Helen Gardiner, Aboriginal Health COIVD-19 Communications Lead, Centre for Aboriginal Health, NSW Government know by midday this Thursday 21 October 2021 using this email link.

Youth call for action on “missing middle”

Young leaders have released a Call to Action to promote a much stronger role for young Australians in the design of health services to meet the “missing middle” needs of teenagers and young adults in health policy. The Call to Action seeks innovations including the creation of a youth healthcare card, a National Youth Commissioner and education in schools to promote understanding of the health system.

The call flows from the recent Youth Health Forum National Summit which brought together hundreds of advocates and young people from across Australia to discuss the health system challenges experienced by people aged 18 to 30. This age group has been identified in the report Life Transitions and Youth Pathways to Health services report as the “missing middle” in healthcare, experiencing limited engagement in the health sector and worsening outcomes.

“Changes need to be made within the health system to ensure that young people are able to live their healthiest lives. For these changes to be effective and sustainable, we are directly engaging and listening to young health consumers who are most impacted by the system,” the spokesperson for the Youth Health Forum, Roxxanne MacDonald, said.

To view the CHF media release in full click here.

legs of 5 young people sitting with laptops

Image source: Pro Bono Australia.

$93m to extend Indigenous programs

The Morrison Government is investing more than $93 million into 224 organisations to extend a range of Indigenous programs across early childhood, schooling, vocational education and training, and safety and wellbeing projects. Minister for Indigenous Australians, the Hon Ken Wyatt AM, MP, said the funding continues many successful programs that address essential service gaps and meet community needs.

“Our commitment to initiatives that help realise better outcomes for Indigenous Australians is unwavering – this funding will help deliver a raft of critical services, particularly to improve early life outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children.” “224 organisations will receive funding from the Indigenous Advancement Strategy, allowing them to plan and deliver 253 activities and services for Indigenous Australians.

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

7 young Aboriginal kids jumping in the air, grass underfoot & blue sky

Image source: The Australian.

EOIs sought for Project ECHO Steering Group

The COVID-19 pandemic has had an impact on the use of alcohol and other substances and delivery of treatment services across Australia, and has reinforced the key role primary care, and particularly general practice, plays in keeping people well in the community.

GPs often see the impact of alcohol and drug use on people’s wellbeing and are well placed to offer support. Just like other health problems, substance use issues can be treated, with treatment generally more effective if initiated early.

To build confidence and capability of primary care practitioners to support people experiencing alcohol and other drug (AOD) issues, WA Primary Health Alliance (WAPHA) are establishing WA’s first Project ECHO (Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes). Project ECHO is an evidence-based model which places healthcare providers from diverse settings in direct contact with subject matter experts, empowering them to provide best practice care for their local communities.

WAPHA is seeking expressions of interest (EOIs) from GPs and other health professionals to be part of a Steering Group to guide the development and implementation of Project ECHO. The Steering Committee will provide leadership, oversight and direction; monitor progress; progress relevant actions and contribute to project evaluation.

WAPHA is seeking applications from:

  • General Practitioners (with advanced experience and/or an AOD speciality as well as early career practitioners with a special interest in AOD)
  • Aboriginal Health Practitioners
  • Pharmacists
  • Nurses
  • Other Allied Health professionals and
  • Consumers who use AOD services

If this sounds like you then please submit your EOI here by COB Friday 5 November 2021.

For more information about Project ECHO click here.

banner, vector sign text 'Project ECHO'

Indigenous Justice Research Program established

The national Indigenous Justice Research Program (IJRP) has been established as part of the Morrison Government’s commitment to the National Agreement on Closing the Gap. The IJRP will fund academic research relating to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander criminal justice and aim to reduce the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in detention.

Minister for Home Affairs Karen Andrews said closing the gap was vitally important, not just for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples but for all Australians. “This new research program will build a body of evidence to inform improvements to criminal justice polices and responses as they relate to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander individuals interacting with the justice system,” Minister Andrews said. Minister Wyatt said a solid research and evidence base will support all parties to meet and exceed the targets to reduce Indigenous over-representation in the criminal justice system.

To view the media release in full click here.

Calls for national social prescribing scheme

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP), Consumer Health Forum of Australia (CHF) and Mental Health Australia are urging the government to implement a national social prescribing scheme to tackle Australia’s mental health and wellbeing crisis in the 2021 Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook (MYEFO).

Mental ill health is a growing problem in Australia and has been made worse by the COVID-19 pandemic. Since 2017, GPs across Australia have rated mental health as the most common presentation they see as part of the RACGP’s annual Health of the Nation survey. Medicare data also shows the increase in patients accessing mental health services during the pandemic, with services highest in July 2020 when Victoria’s second wave peaked. We also know that approximately 20% of patients consult their GP for what are primarily social problems.

The RACGP, CHF and Mental Health Australia are calling on the Australian Government to support the development of a nationally coordinated scheme dedicated to tackling the problem with innovative local solutions.

Social prescribing is about health and wellbeing support. It involves a health professional supporting a patient to take up non-medical activities and services to supplement conventional healthcare. It aims to address the key risk factors for poor health, including mental health problems, social isolation, and chronic illness. It has been shown to deliver positive health benefits and improved self-care capability.

To view the joint media release click here.

vector images of 18 social activities

Image source: CTA website.

New process for job advertising

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

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