NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Community-led healthy food initiatives

Community-led healthy food initiatives

The year to June 2021 saw 8 tonnes less sugar consumed* and 508 tonnes of fresh fruit and vegetables sold across the 41 remote Indigenous communities serviced by Outback Stores. This outcome is the joint result of the Outback Stores Healthy Food Policy and strong, community-led decision making from local store directors to tackle diet-related health problems.

Communities such as Engawala, Santa Teresa and Ali Curung have implemented restrictions on the size of soft drink bottles sold, as well as introduced sugar-free days of the week. “At first people didn’t like it, but as store workers we told them it was better for our health and they understood,” said store director Audrey Inkamala, about implementing ‘Sugar-Free Wednesdays’ in Engawala.

Since 2012 an ongoing trend has seen the proportion of full-sugar drinks fall by 23.24% across stores serviced by Outback Stores. The proportion of water sold increased 2.46% and sugar-free drinks also increased 0.25%. The result of this is 80,079 litres less of sugary drinks sold in remote communities, enough to fill an average backyard swimming pool.

“It’s great to see Outback Stores and local store directors working together to promote a healthier retail environment for stores and communities,” said Anna Murison, Health & Nutrition Manager for Outback Stores.

Improving access to nutritious and affordable food continues to be a key component in the Outback Stores nutrition policy. In the last financial year customers bought a total of 508 tonnes of fresh fruit and vegetables, which is a quantity four times greater than the average amount sold per store in 2011.

To view the Outback Stores media release click here.

two Aboriginal male store workers Ali Curung

Store workers, Ali Curung, Barkly Region, NT. The image in feature tile  is another store worker, Audrey Inkamala.

World’s first children’s mental health strategy

The Morrison Government has launched the world’s first National Children’s Mental Health and Wellbeing Strategy. The Strategy provides a framework to guide the development of a comprehensive, integrated system of services to maintain and support the mental health and wellbeing of children aged 0-12 and their families.

Minister for Health and Aged Care, Greg Hunt, said the Strategy was part of the Morrison Government’s long-term national health plan. “Caring for the mental health and wellbeing of our younger children, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, is critical. We know that proper support can improve long-term outcomes and can help children achieve their full potential in life,” Minister Hunt said.

To view Minister Hunt’s media release in full click here.logo for The National Children's Health and Wellbeing Strategy; line drawing red head, arms, orange semi-circle, sunrays blue & green

A number of organisations have commented on the new strategy. Thrive by Five welcomed the recognition of early education in the strategy and urged the Federal Government to introduce universally accessible, high quality early learning and care for every child. Thrive by Five, CEO Jay Weatherill, said: “so many children and families are struggling right now, making the work of our early educators more vital than ever. Thrive by Five is calling for the Federal Government to fast-track the professional training and development of guidelines for educators to follow when they believe a child or family is struggling.”

To view Thrive by Five’s media release click here.

Image source: SNAICC website.

Mental health aides assist police

A new initiative to help people suffering with mental illness involved in incidents where police are called has been praised as a success just four weeks into the trial, thanks to a reduction in the number of people hospitalised which has kept police on the streets for longer.

The first regional roll-out of the police mental health co-response program, which has successfully run in four metropolitan districts since 2016, has seen the detainment of people at the centre of mental health-related police call-outs decrease as much as 60 per cent over the four weeks of the trial.

The program has involved 16 selected Geraldton police officers receiving special Department of Health training. A clinician and an Aboriginal health worker are assigned to the mental health team each shift.

Geraldton police officer-in-charge Sen. Sgt Chris Martin said the result had drastically reduced the amount of time officers had to spend at hospitals dealing with mental-health incidents, which had previously been up to three hours for each case.

To access the article in full click here.

Assistant Commissioner Jo McCabe, Geraldton MLA Lara Dalton, Police Minister Paul Papalia, Aboriginal Health Worker Chris Fitzgerald and Mid-West Gascoyne Supt Roger Beer standing in front of a paddy wagon in front of police station

Assistant Commissioner Jo McCabe, Geraldton MLA Lara Dalton, Police Minister Paul Papalia, Aboriginal Health Worker Chris Fitzgerald and Mid-West Gascoyne Supt Roger Beer. Photo: Edward Scown, Midwest Times. Image source: The West Australian

First Nations perspectives in curriculum

The Australian Physiotherapy Council’s Accreditation Committee member Danielle Manton recently shared her story and why all Australian physiotherapists should become culturally safe healthcare practitioners.

Danielle, is a proud Barunggam woman and Indigenous Health Lecturer. Her work, embedding Indigenous perspectives in the health curriculum involves many community partnerships. Danielle says community partnerships are exceptionally important “the community must lead this and have a direct voice and influence within healthcare education. All the work I do is firmly entrenched in advocating for my family, my community and a better future for my people. There is still a long way to go to influence change in healthcare access and outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.”

“It is important to educate yourself, it is not the responsibility of the community or your Indigenous friends and employees to educate you. The Council has developed a great cultural safety training resource, which will also contribute to continuing professional development to help get you started.”

“The key to inclusive practice for all peoples is communication, authentic relationship building and being proactive, flexible and responsive to client’s needs – the same approach doesn’t always work for all people, it may just be simple adaptations such as allowing clients to attend appointments together or moving to an outdoor space.”

To access the interview in full click here.

Danielle Manton & Australian Physiotherapy Council logo

Danielle Manton. Image source: Australian Physiotherapy Council website.

Oral health workforce needs to grow

Tooth decay and gum disease, the main dental diseases affecting Australians, can cause pain and deformity as well as affecting eating and speech. Dental practitioners are efficient and effective in relieving dental pain, and they can effectively restore oral function. There is good evidence that better health care outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients are associated with care from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health professionals.

Unfortunately, the representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people within the dental practitioner workforce is very low. The authors a research article Addressing the oral health workforce needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians argue that a strategic approach, along with additional investment, is needed to increase the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people qualified as dental practitioners.

To view the article in full click here.

University of Newcastle Bachelor of Oral Health Therapy students completed clinical placements at Ungooroo Aboriginal Corporation in Singleton for the first time in 2017. Image source: Newcastle Herald.

EnableMe Stroke newsletters

The EnableMe newsletter features news, stories and advice on every aspect of life after stroke, whether you are a stroke survivor, carer or family member.

The Stroke Foundation is celebrating its 25th anniversary this month and the October EnableMe newsletter looks back over the years. Twenty five years ago, when a stroke happened, we watched and waited as families were devastated by the impact of stroke. Advances in medical treatment now mean that when someone experiences a stroke, emergency treatment is available including life-saving blood clot-busting drugs or blood clot removal in hospital.

The EnableMe newsletter September issue highlights how the Australian Stroke Alliance is one step closer to achieving its goal of treating regional and remote stroke patients faster. An Adelaide company has started developing a small CT brain scanner that can be fitted in ambulances and emergency aircraft. If successful, the device will allow paramedics and retrieval teams to diagnose and then start treating stroke patients in the golden hour – the first hour after a stroke, wherever they live.

You can view the EnableMe September newsletter edition here and the October edition here.

banner orange with white font, Stroke Foundation logo & enable me stronger after stroke'

Partyline magazine contributions sought

Partyline magazine, a publication produced by the National Rural Health Alliance, has a strong following across the rural health and services sectors. It is a platform to promote products or services to people and organisations of influence that care about health ‘in the bush’. The latest Partyline issue is available here.

Through technology we are increasingly able to merge our digital and physical health systems. This particularly benefits the rural healthcare system in Australia which has unique constraints, such as geographical distance and the sustainability of services in thin markets.

With the end of the publishing year in sight, Partyline would like to celebrate the technology, innovation and digital wins that are helping to strengthen our rural health services in communities across the country.

The Alliance is now seeking contributions for Partyline, Issue 77, to be published in December 2021. Contributions are due by COB Thursday 11 November 2021 and can be submitted using the email link here.

PARTYLINE logo

New process for job advertising

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

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

COVID-19 vaccine update for GPs webinar

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

11:30am–12:00pm (AEST) tomorrow, Thursday 14 October 2021.

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

Joining Professor Michael Kidd AM this week will be Dr Lucas de Toca, First Assistant Secretary, COVID-19 Primary Care Response, Department of Health and Penny Shakespeare, Deputy Secretary, Health Resourcing Group, Department of Health.

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

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

COROONAVIRUS (COVID-19) update for GPs banner, blue background, pink virus vector images

Allied Health Professions Day

Allied Health Professions (AHP) Day 2021 is happening tomorrow Thursday 14 October 2021. As with previous years you are invited to join other Allied Healthcare Professionals in a day of collective action, by doing something that is meaningful and important to you.

The first ever AHP’s Day was held on the 15th October 2018 to celebrate, appreciate and recognise the extraordinary work of the AHP workforce. In 2019 we were all about sharing why we were proud to be an AHP and joined by AHPs from across the globe including Singapore, NZ and Australia making it a truly international social movement.

For more information about AHP Day click here.

banner - Indigenous Allied Health Professionals Day

Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day

Every year, around 110,000 Australians have a miscarriage. 2,200 more endure the pain of stillbirth, 600 lose their baby in the first 28 days after birth and many more face the grief of termination for medical reasons. October is a time for Australia to break the silence and acknowledge the heartbreak happening too often right now.

With October marking International Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month, hundreds of Australian parents are sharing what’s hurting them right now – silence. From now until the end of October, families are sharing their silence stories with Red Nose in a bid to get Australia talking about this too-often taboo topic.

Pregnancy and Infant Loss awareness month events are happening right around Australia and online throughout October, giving families an important opportunity to publicly remember their much-loved babies.

You can read a media release from the ACT Legislative Assembly recognising International Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day here.

For more information about International Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day visit the SANDS website here.

banner text 'International Pregnancy & Infant Loss Awareness Day 15 OCT' & line drawing of red heart held in palms of hands

Image source: SANDS website.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Importance of second vax dose

feature tile text 'COVID-19 second does provides excellent protection against hospitalisation' & 2 vials of vax, 2 syringes & vax record sheet

Importance of second vax dose

According to NACCHO PHMO Dr Jason Agostino over 8,000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are overdue for their second dose of Pfizer. Dr Agostino said it is essential everyone gets both doses. The second dose is what provides the excellent protection against hospitalisation and decreases a person’s chances of spreading the virus to their family and community.

The below infographic, developed by ACHWA, explains the importance of the second dose. You can access the infographic here.

AHCWA infographic - importance of second vax dose, graphic of vax in relation to hospitalisations

Calls for whole of government health response

A leading Aboriginal health expert says systemic failings in NT health requires a whole of government response, as the NT tries desperately to come up with solutions to a health system in crisis.

Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance NT (AMSANT) CEO John Paterson said Aboriginal health outcomes were worse in the NT because governments had not had a holistic approach. “One of the biggest priority areas is housing, the overcrowding of housing here and in remote communities is just unacceptable,” Mr Paterson said. “It is unhealthy to have up to 25 people (or more) residing in three-bedroom homes.”

He said it was about bringing all of government to the table to discuss housing, health, education, literacy and employment. Until we start addressing some of these underlying ­issues, which we’ve been advocating and calling on governments to act upon for a number of years now, we will see very little change,” he said. “We need to begin making inroads and addressing the underlying issues (in health). Together these things will reduce the strain on the health system and the pressure points we are currently experiencing.”

Mr Paterson went on to explain government and Indigenous leadership had ­already agreed on the “perfect plan” which was to Close the Gap. “I’ve been there since day dot. I’ve been throughout the whole process, discussed all the priority target areas that we need to improve on … but what we now need is government leadership and a commitment to funding particularly to Aboriginal ­organisations so we can get on with doing the job for our mob,” he said.

You can read the full article extracted from the NT News here.

AMSANT CEO John Paterson

AMSANT CEO John Paterson is very worried over the Delta strain getting into NT remote communities. Photo: Dane Hirst, ABC News. Image source: ABC News.

Indigenous health gap narrows

“Disease burden” measures an illness or injury’s impact in terms of the number of years of healthy life lost through living with the ailment. Overall, Indigenous Australians experience 2.3 times more disease burden than non-Indigenous Australians. The report found Indigenous Australians born after 2018 can expect to live around 80% of their lives in full health. The absolute gap in disease burden between Indigenous and non-Indigenous dropped by 16% between 2003 and 2018.

To view the full article click here.

palm of hand painted black yellow red

Image source: newsGP.

Telehealth a turnoff for some mob

The Murrumbidgee Aboriginal Health Consortium has told the NSW parliamentary inquiry into rural health that some patients forego cancer treatment in order to afford food and household bills. Committee member Stacey O’Hara said treatment was often hundreds of kms away from home or off country.

Telehealth has been widely used during the COVID-19 pandemic, but the inquiry has heard Aboriginal patients have been reluctant to use it. “Even those in paid employment often have exorbitant living costs and must prioritise whether or not accessing medical treatment is more important than feeding the family or registering the car,” the inquiry heard.

The Upper House committee was also told the way medical services were delivered during the COVID-19 pandemic adversely affected Aboriginal people. “We found that clients just were not comfortable with the telehealth consults,” Ms O’Hara said. “We have seen a big drop in people even accessing any GP consults at a local level. “I just think Aboriginal are more comfortable sitting across the side of a desk and having that conversation with the GP.”

To view the ABC News article in full click here.mobile phone connected to stethoscope

Prisoners struggling to access health care

Indigenous prisoners are experiencing “extreme distress” and fear longer times in custody as they struggle to access appropriate health care amid the pandemic, advocates say. The vaccination rollout program, high transportation rates and the fear of being infected while behind bars were major worries for inmates and their families, Professor Megan Williams has said.

Dr Williams is the head of Girra Maa, the Indigenous health discipline at the Graduate School of Health at the University of Technology Sydney, and an advisor to Corrective Services NSW. “We tend to know that these Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled health organisations are locked out of prisons, and so are not able to be part of any vaccine rollout or providing any information to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in prisons,” she said. “That’s actually where we end up seeing a human rights issue and potential human rights breach.”

To read the full story click here.

prison corridor, yellow cell doors closed

Photo: Daniel Soekov, Human Rights Watch. Image source: ABC News.

Indigenous health leader Julie Tongs says her worst nightmares were confirmed after an Alexander Maconochie Centre prison officer, who was on duty for a number of days, tested positive to COVID-19. The case was recorded more than nine days after Ms Tongs, the CEO of Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health Service, called for COVID-19 vaccinations to be mandatory for prison staff.

Ms Tongs is again calling on the ACT government “to do everything in its power to ensure all detainees in the AMC are accorded every conceivable protection from the virus”.

To view this story in the Canberra CityNews click here.

Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health & Community Services CEO Julie Tongs. Image source: Canberra CityNews.

New project inspires rural GP careers

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) has launched a new project to inspire more people to consider a career in rural general practice and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health. This Rural Life is a digital project, showcasing the unique experiences and rewards of a career in rural general practice, with a focus on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health.

The project puts a spotlight on GPs across all career stages working in rural or remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health by sharing the incredible stories of those in the field. It was inspired by RACGP members who told us that we need to share the important, complex, and often isolating work of GPs in rural and remote areas.

You can view the media release here.

stethoscope hanging on wire gate in bush

Image source: Australian Doctor.

Dedicated youth mentoring programs

The Victorian Government is supporting Aboriginal young people to achieve their aspirations and life goals through dedicated mentoring programs that support wellbeing, education and employment. Minister for Youth Ros Spence today announced that grant applications for the Marram Nganyin Aboriginal Youth Mentoring Program are NOW OPEN for Aboriginal organisations to deliver tailored mentoring programs in collaboration with local Aboriginal young people.

Marram Nganyin – meaning ‘we are strong’ in the Woiwurrung language of the Wurundjeri people – supports Aboriginal young people to be healthy, confident and strong in their identity and culture, and engaged in their community. The program is underpinned by the Government’s support for Aboriginal self-determination, recognising that Aboriginal organisations are best-placed to understand the needs of Aboriginal communities.

To view the media release click here.

face of Aboriginal girl in a grass field, Marram Nganyin logo

Image sources: Koori Youth Council website and YourTown.

PIP – Indigenous Health Incentive

The Practice Incentives Program (PIP) – Indigenous Health Incentive (IHI) supports general practices and Indigenous health practices to provide a range of health services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients with chronic medical conditions.

You can apply for the IHI and register patients online using the PIP Online feature in Health Professional Online Services (HPOS). To assist you manage incentives easily online, we have a range of new educational resources that demonstrate step-by-step how to perform distinct functions through HPOS. To learn more about these tailored resources, refer to the links contained in this information sheet.

$20 note, stethoscope, tablets

Image source: AMA.

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.

Foot Health Week

Foot Health Week is a nationally recognised health awareness campaign run annually in October promoting good foot health and the important role podiatrists play in keeping Australians pain-free and moving.

The 2021 Foot Health Week campaign will run from 11-17 October with the theme, ‘Love your feet and… they’ll love you back!’ highlighting how taking care of your feet will positively impact the rest of your body and encouraging better overall health outcomes for all Australians.

To view the Australian Podiatry Association’s media release click here.

In terms of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander foot health a paper published in the Australian Indigenous HealthBulletin looked at the risk markers, risk factors, and chronic conditions in relation to foot health in the Aboriginal population. It showed high prevalence of serious foot complications in the Aboriginal community, and no research having thoroughly investigated the nature and mechanism of the foot problems affecting Aboriginal communities.

You can view the full paper here.

banner foot health week 11-17 October 2021 'love your feet and ... they'll love you back' comic pictures of feet walking

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Time’s over for thinking about the vax

Feature tile: Elder Don Rowlands, Photo: Bruce Atkinson, ABC Sunshine Coast. Image source: ABC News.

Time’s over for thinking about the vax

Dr Aleeta Fejo (GP and Larrakia traditional owner) said opening borders would be a concern for the NT. “Our people are already vulnerable because we are a long way away from the hospital, because we don’t have a lot of staff at our clinics or the resources needed to look after everybody, because many of us are sick, and because we live in overcrowded conditions,” she told ABC Radio Darwin’s Late Breakfast. “It’s very concerning. “The time for thinking about it is over. The time for action is now.”

To listen to Dr Fejo’s interview click here.

Dr Aleeta Fejo

Larrakia traditional owner, elder and general practitioner Aleeta Fejo.

Minister issues warning to unvaccinated

As the NT government struggles to increase vaccination rates in Indigenous communities, Health Minister Natasha Fyles has issued a stern warning to those who refuse to be jabbed. “A large outbreak in an unvaccinated community would be devastating,” she said. “Let’s be frank about that. People will tragically pass away.”

Ms Fyles said people who refused to be vaccinated could potentially add pressure to the NT’s health care system. According to the NT Department of Health website, the Alice Springs Health Service catchment area covers approximately 42,000 people and covers a distance of more than 1 million square kms — extending into the bordering areas of SA and WA.

Ms Fyles said the Alice Springs Hospital had only 10 intensive care beds. “The more people that are vaccinated, the less impact on our hospital system,” Ms Fyles said.

To view the story in full click here.

NT Health Minister Natasha Fyles getting covid-19 vax

NT Health Minister Natasha Fyles. Image source: NT News.

Need to see my own mob getting vax

Noongar woman Charmaine Councillor, from Bunbury in WA, is fully vaccinated but understands why almost 80% of her community is not. “We don’t actually see it on television. We always see other communities from other places (getting vaccinated); we don’t know these people,” she said.

“But [it would help] if we could see our own local people … maybe nurses that are Aboriginal, that we do know of, or health workers that are actually delivering the vaccine and people that are actually saying ‘yes, I’ve had my vaccine’.”

To read the article in full click here.

Aboriginal woman receiving covid-19 vax

Photo: Samantha Jonscher, ABC Alice Springs. Image source: ABC News.

ANAO immunisation coverage audit

The audit objective was to assess the effectiveness of the Department of Health’s approach to improving and monitoring immunisation coverage. The DoH’s approach has been largely effectice, as reported immunisation rates have been improving.

You can view the report in full here and access the ANAO website here.

baby in mother's arms getting a vaccination in thigh

Image source: Australian Childcare Alliance NSW.

Bidgerdii runs SEWB Program

The Bidgerdii Community Health Service run a nationally funded Social and Emotional Well Being (SEWB) Program providing generalist counselling services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who are experiencing issues and concerns that affect their everyday emotional wellbeing.

The SEWB Program undertakes individual supported case management to empower clients to feel healthier through counselling therapies that relate to specific cultural healing practices, as well as facilitating the Bringing Them Home (BTH) component of the SEWB Program. The program also conducts specific counselling to members of the Stolen Generation and their families to ensure that individuals who access BTH counselling services have access to family tracing and supported referral options to other agencies working in the area of BTH, such as Queensland Link-Up services.

The SEWB Program covers the Rockhampton region of Queensland, including (Capricorn Coast, Blackwater, Central Highlands, Mount Morgan and Woorabinda.

For further information about the program click here.

$55m Amazon Web Services grants

Amazon Web Services (AWS) wants to make telehealth and telemedicine available to remote and marginalised communities around the world through a $55m grants program.

Director of Australia, NZ and Oceania, public sector for AWS Iain Rouse is encouraging Australian organisations to apply. That includes Indigenous health providers and providers of services to the disability community who may struggle with funding. “We would like to see grant applications from non-profits, start-ups, research institutions, universities and public companies.”

For further information visit the AWS website here.

vector images of computer screen, doctor & patient talking, background computer data, blue, white

Image source: AWS website.

OOHC service transferred to ACCO

One of Australia’s largest providers of out-of-home care (OOHC) will transfer services for Indigenous children to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community controlled services. Life Without Barriers (LWB) currently delivers services to around 25,000 people per year across 400 communities and is partnering with the Secretariat of National Aboriginal and Islander Child Care (SNAICC) to guide the transition.

LWB CEO Claire Robbs said though the organisation provided cultural support for Indigenous families, there was no substitute for the children being in the care of community. “We have been providing services to children and families in OOHC for decades now and we absolutely believe that if we are to be an organisation that really acts on our commitment to Reconciliation, this is a very critical step we must take,” she said.

Ms Robbs continued, “The ongoing intergenerational impact of children and families being separated is well documented and distressing. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and community have clearly stated how important it is for children to grow up connected to culture and in community and we simply must heed this call.”

To read the article in full click here.

bright Aboriginal painting of man, girl & boy

Image source: AbSec 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.

Cairns COVID-19 pop-up clinic TOMORROW 

A COVID-19 vaccination walk-in clinic will be held tomorrow 2-6PM Saturday 2 October 2021 at Barlow Park, Cairns. You can access these promotional materials poster, banner and a square tile for the event.

banner text 'COVID-19 vax pop-up clinic walk-in Cairns Barlow Park Sat 2 Oct 2-6pm'

Electronic Prescriptions for Consumers Q+A Session

As electronic prescriptions become more widely available across the country, the Australian Digital Health Agency invites you to join a “Electronic Prescribing Q+A Session for Consumers and Carers”. The purpose of the session is to provide you with a platform where your questions will be answered directly by an expert panel.

Ask any questions you might have related to your experience with using electronic prescriptions. Is there anything that wasn’t clear or left you wondering how it works? We welcome all your questions and there is no requirement to have used electronic prescribing prior to joining a session.

You will be able to participate by speaking directly with our subject matter experts, or by submitting questions anonymously through our questions platform. If you would like to submit your questions prior to the session to ensure they are addressed, please use the registration form below.

These sessions are open to consumer peak organisations, members and consumer advocates, carers and advisors.

Event title: Your questions answered: Electronic Prescriptions for Consumers

Dates: 
12-12.30pm AEDT Thursday – 7 October 2021  (Sydney, Melbourne, Canberra)
12-12.30pm AEDT Thursday – 14 October 2021 (Sydney, Melbourne, Canberra)
12-12.30pm AEDT Thursday – 21 October 2021 (Sydney, Melbourne, Canberra)

Register here (select preferred date from drop-down menu).

hand holding iPhone with electronic script on screen

Image source: Victoria Harbour Medical Centre.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Young mob should be focus for COVID-19 vaccinations

Feature tile - Tue 21.9.21 - Young mob should be focus for COVID-19 vaccinations

Young mob should be focus for COVID-19 vaccinations

Although First Nations children comprise a relatively small proportion of the general child population, they represent more than 30 per cent of the Indigenous population.

And as state governments edge closer to easing restrictions at the 80 per cent double-dosed vaccination targets – targets that do not include under 16s – health and data experts are concerned it will be at the expense of First Nations people.

As children as young as 12 are faced with the choice to be vaccinated, mental health experts are urging support services and structures to be at the ready. Australian Indigenous Psychologists Association board director Tanja Hirvonen said the decision could weigh heavily on the shoulders of young Indigenous people.

“What can help to alleviate that pressure is support from family and friends and the health sector, and getting the information from the qualified professionals,” Dr Hirvonen said.

“Everyone has different circumstances, different health needs, are in different communities, so they can make the best decision for them and their families.”

Illawarra Aboriginal Medical Service chief executive Kane Ellis was concerned First Nations kids had been left behind in the vaccination rollout.

“Our young ones are getting missed in the conversation because they think they don’t have [health] issues, which is not the case for our young ones,” he said.

“We want to make sure we look after our young ones as much as our elders because they’re the future for us.”

You can read the story in the ABC News here.

Kahliah West and her pop, who was recently discharged from hospital. Image source: ABC News.

Kahliah West and her pop, who was recently discharged from hospital. Image source: ABC News.

90-95% First Nations vax rates needed to protect mob

While some Australians are awaiting the nation reopening after lockdowns with hope and optimism, others are approaching it with dread. This is because a blanket lifting of restrictions when the vaccination rate reaches 70% will have devastating effects on Indigenous and other vulnerable populations.

At present, vaccination rates in Indigenous populations are very low. Once restrictions are lifted everyone unvaccinated will be exposed to the virus.

Aboriginal organisations including NACCHO, the Aboriginal Medical Services of the Northern Territory (AMSANT) and the Central Australian Aboriginal Congress (CAAC) have called on state and federal governments to delay any substantial easing of restrictions until vaccination rates among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander populations aged 12 years and older reach 90-95%.

A 90-95% vaccination rate gives about the same level of population coverage for all ages as the 80% target for the entire population. That’s because Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities are younger than the wider population.

You can read the article in the Conversation here.

Australian Wiradjuri elder and Indigenous rights activist Aunty Jenny Munro after receiving a covid vaccine. Image source: The Conversation.

Australian Wiradjuri elder and Indigenous rights activist Aunty Jenny Munro after receiving a covid vaccine. Image source: The Conversation.

Boy with disability detained from age 10 in NT

A Northern Territory Indigenous teenager with disability has been intermittently imprisoned in the Don Dale detention centre since the age of 10, an inquiry has been told. The 17-year-old told the royal commission into violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation of people with a disability that some of the charges related to breaching bail when he fled abusive foster homes.

The young man, who gave evidence under the pseudonym IL, said he’d been placed in 20 Darwin foster homes in his life but had never had an Aboriginal carer or caseworker.

“I’ve never really had anybody to teach me right and wrong, you know,” he told the inquiry in a pre-recorded interview.

You can read the story in 7 News here.

Aboriginal health services are among those expected to give evidence to the royal commission into violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation of people with disability when the latest hearing resumes. The 16th hearing of the royal commission will on Monday examine the experiences of Indigenous children with disability in out-of-home care.

Representatives from the Central Australian Aboriginal Congress and Darwin’s Danila Dilba Health Service are expected to give evidence, along with a disabled Indigenous child and her carer.

The six-day inquiry is the second Indigenous-specific public hearing to be held by the royal commission. It aims to provide an insight into the life course for Indigenous children with disability and their experiences of violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation, including cumulative and systemic abuse and neglect by multiple systems over time.

You can read the article in The West Australian here.

The inquiry is the second Indigenous-specific public hearing to be held by the royal commission. Credit: AAP. Image source: The West Australian.

The inquiry is the second Indigenous-specific public hearing to be held by the royal commission. Credit: AAP. Image source: The West Australian.

Cherbourg calls for help to deal with suicide crisis

The community of Cherbourg has lost more than 10 people, mostly young men, to suicide in the past year. Local leaders say treatment models need a major shakeup to make them more culturally appropriate. Young men account for most of the deaths. Alex Speedy, 35, has stepped forward as a champion for mental health in the community.

“It’s important coming out the other side and talking about it,” he said.

Mr Speedy’s aunt, Dolly Davidson, has lost two sons to suicide in the past few years. She said she reached out to multiple services for help for her younger son, but they were not approachable and did not understand what he was experiencing. He passed when he was 17.

“There were nine other young men [who have died] … who used to attend school with my sons. You’re talking about 11 kids from one school and that’s a lot — 11 kids out of 20,” said Davidson.

Community services manager and SPAN member Edwina Stewart said:

“What’s not being addressed is the underlying stuff that’s happening to our families, the amount of grief and loss we’ve been going through,” she said.

“It’s like a dark cloud over our community.”

You can read the article in the ABC News here.

Alex Speedy wants young men in his community to know it isn't weak to speak up. (ABC Southern Queensland: Georgie Hewson).

Alex Speedy wants young men in his community to know it isn’t weak to speak up. (ABC Southern Queensland: Georgie Hewson).

Free Kimberley Mum’s Mood Scale training

The Kimberley Mum’s Mood Scale (KMMS) is a validated perinatal depression screening tool. It was developed in partnership between Aboriginal women and healthcare professionals in the Kimberley region of Western Australia in response to challenges with the mainstream screening tool the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS).

The KMMS is a two part screening tool. Part one of the KMMS is an adapted version of the EPDS using language and graphics as determined through the community co-design process. KMMS part two is a ‘yarning’ or narrative based assessment focusing on a woman’s risks and protective factors across seven psychosocial domains.

The training takes approximately one hour and will enable healthcare professionals to confidently and appropriately use the KMMS with patients.

Access the KMMS Training here.

For more information on the KMMS implementation project click here.

Please contact the KMMS project team if you have any further queries:
Emma Carlin on emma.carlin@rcswa.edu.au or
Kat Ferrari kmmsprojectofficer@kamsc.org.au.

$10m for frontline digital healthcare research

The Morrison government is investing $10 million in research projects that use the latest digital and mobile technology to improve primary healthcare delivery.

Australian researchers can now apply for grants to undertake critical research through the $20 billion Medical Research Future Fund, which is designed to help develop ideas, make projects viable and improve medical care.

Two areas of primary healthcare research will be funded – testing and implementing new applications of existing wearable electronic devices, and examining new ways of delivering point-of-care testing, particularly for people in rural areas.

Health Minister Greg Hunt said research was the key to better healthcare and treatments, and continued advances in technology could unlock more improvements in medical care, including helping people in rural and remote areas.

The $10 million in grants flagged on Wednesday will be managed through the National Health and Medical Research Council and is funded over two years though to 2023.

You can read the article in The Australian Financial Review here.

 Ambra Health DrHIT: Embracing Healthcare Information Technology in the Information Age - Your Medical Imaging Cloud. Image source Ambra Health website.

Embracing Healthcare Information Technology in the Information Age – Your Medical Imaging Cloud. Image source Ambra Health website.

New online MBS tool

A new interactive tool is now available to help GPs calculate out-of-pocket expenses when delivering care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients. The resources have been developed as part of the RACGP’s Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) online tool.

There are now two easy-to-access interactive guides, including one for GPs providing care to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. These list frequently used items such as face-to-face and telehealth MBS numbers. A complementary tool is available for other medical practitioners (OMPs). This includes items that are often employed by allied health providers and nurse practitioners, for example.

The tool allows users to enter fees for the services provided and subsequently calculate the patient’s out-of-pocket costs based on MBS rebates. Hard copies can also be printed.

You can read more on the RACGP website in GPNews.

The resource allows users to enter fees for the services provided and subsequently calculate the patient’s out-of-pocket costs based on MBS rebates. Image source: RACGP website.

The resource allows users to enter fees for the services provided and subsequently calculate the patient’s out-of-pocket costs based on MBS rebates. Image source: RACGP website.

 

New process for job advertising

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

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


dice spelling JOBS resting on keyboard

 

Australian Community Sector Survey – open

The Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS) and the COSS Network, supported by Bendigo Bank, have opened the 2021 Australian Community Sector Survey.

The Australian Community Sector Survey is the longest running survey of the community sector – by the community sector – for the community sector and communities we serve. This 2021 Survey is a vital opportunity for us to compare changes in the community sector between 2019 and now. The Survey covers the impacts of changes to funding structures, demand on services, emerging needs and pressures and sector priorities.

ACOSS and the COSS Network thank you for your help with the Survey. If you have any questions or would like to discuss this further, please email Penny Dorsch at penny@acoss.org.au for details.

The survey closes Friday 24 September 2021.

You can take the survey here.

ACOSS Community Sector Survey_2021

 

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: AMA wants consistency of mandatory COVID-19 jabs for healthcare staff

Feature tile - Thu 16.9.21 - AMA wants consistency of mandatory COVID jabs for healthcare staff

AMA wants consistency of mandatory COVID-19 jabs for healthcare staff

The Australian Medical Association (AMA) calls on National Cabinet to act urgently on nationally-consistent public health orders for mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations for all healthcare workers, including GPs.

AMA President Omar Khorshid said legal protection should also be given to healthcare employers who mandate vaccinations for all their staff.

“Most health care providers in Australia are small businesses that don’t have the time or resources needed to navigate complex work health and safety laws. We need to make it easier for them to be able to mandate vaccination, which is the best way to protect their staff and patients.”

Dr Khorshid said the Federal Government needed to co-ordinate States and Territories through the National Cabinet to ensure a nationally-consistent approach to mandatory vaccination that included everyone – GPs and practice staff, pharmacists, hospital staff, ambulance staff, cooks and cleaners – leaving no exemptions, except for legitimate medical reasons.

“Nationally-consistent public health orders would provide legal protection to any employer who could reasonably establish work safety would benefit from a workplace vaccine mandate. It’s important for GPs and other small businesses to have government backing and protection when it comes to mandating vaccines for all employees,” Dr Khorshid said.

You can read the media release the AMA here.

female staff member of Northern Navajo Medical Centre receiving COVID-19 vaccine, 3 other staff in background, one taking a photo

Medical staff at the Northern Navajo Medical Center in Shiprock, N.M., were among the first in the Navajo Nation to receive their Pfizer-BioNTech vaccinations, on Dec. 15. What’s followed has been a successful rollout to Navajo Nation residents. Image source: yahoo!life website.

Concerns regional hospitals won’t cope with major COVID outbreak

A COVID-19 outbreak in Western Australia is considered inevitable by many health experts, but doctors have warned if it happens before enough people are vaccinated it will be “horrendous” for regional areas where resources are limited and staff are hard to attract. WA has so far managed to keep out the Delta strain, despite it spreading through New South Wales and Victoria. However, with fewer than 40 per cent of people fully vaccinated in Western Australia, president of the Rural Doctors Association, Brittney Wicksteed, was worried.

“If COVID were to come before we’ve got adequate vaccination rates, it’s going to be horrendous in the regions,” she said.

Dr Wicksteed said many regional hospitals did not have the room, equipment or staff to cope with more than a couple of COVID cases at a time.

“The hospital has been extremely busy already this year,” she said.

“I [also] think it will be really hard to maintain adequate staffing in any of the hospitals in any of the regions in WA once there’s COVID there.”

“I don’t think any of our hospitals are fully prepared should we have a large outbreak … there are not enough ventilators at any hospital,” said Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Service (KAMS) chief executive Vicki O’Donnell.

You can read the article in the ABC News here.

Rural Doctors Association president Brittney Wicksteed says staffing, equipment and space at regional hospitals would be stretched in the case of a COVID-19 outbreak. (ABC Kimberley Jacqueline Lynch).

Rural Doctors Association president Brittney Wicksteed says staffing, equipment and space at regional hospitals would be stretched in the case of a COVID-19 outbreak. (ABC Kimberley Jacqueline Lynch).

Improvements across health and welfare for mob

The two-yearly Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) report on the welfare and wellbeing of Australians was launched today by the release of a video message (see below story) from Senator the Hon. Anne Ruston, Minister for Families and Social Services.

In recent years, there have been improvements across a range of measures of health and welfare for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

“The median equivalised household income for Indigenous Australians grew 29% between 2002 and 2018–19, twice the growth rate of non-Indigenous Australians (14%) over the same period after accounting for inflation,” said AIHW Deputy Chief Executive Officer Matthew James.

“Between 2014–15 and 2018–19, the proportion of working age Indigenous Australians relying on a government pension or allowance as their main income source fell from 47% to 45%.”

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and their communities are at high risk of COVID-19 outbreaks and severe outcomes due to a range of health and socioeconomic inequalities. As of 15 August 2021, there had been 293 confirmed COVID-19 cases among Indigenous Australians since the start of the pandemic. This includes 145 confirmed cases since the beginning of 2021 (1.3% of all cases in the period), and 148 in 2020 (0.5%).

For more information, visit the AIHW website.

Western NSW sets example with COVID jab rates

“We’ve now seen the biggest increase in Western NSW compared to the whole of the state, in vaccination rates, particularly people receiving their first dose and particularly across our Aboriginal community,” he said.

“Thank you to everyone who’s come forward in the last month, in particular who’s changed life outcomes for people, getting protected from COVID.”

“Importantly second dose rates for Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal in our community are now the same at 38 per cent right across our region.”

You can read the story in the Daily Liberal here.

A team from the University of Newcastle nursing staff travelled to Gomeroi Country to provide urgent vaccination and COVID-19 testing to the people of Walgett and greater Western NSW. Image credit: The University of Newcastle.

A team from the University of Newcastle nursing staff travelled to Gomeroi Country to provide urgent vaccination and COVID-19 testing to the people of Walgett and greater Western NSW. Image credit: The University of Newcastle.

Mental health and wellbeing support tailored to mob

As the serious Delta outbreak continues across the state, the Victorian Government is making sure more Victorians struggling during this difficult period have access to the mental health and wellbeing support they need.

On top of the $225 million the Government has already provided to support Victorians’ mental health throughout the pandemic, a further investment of $22 million will deliver fast-tracked, tailored care to those who need it, reducing the burden on emergency departments as the number of coronavirus patients grows.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who are less likely to engage early with mainstream mental health services, will receive $4 million in support for Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations to self-determine the best, most culturally appropriate response to the mental health and wellbeing needs of their local communities.

You can read more about this investment by the Victorian Government here.

Last week, the McGowan Labor Government also committed more than $374 million to ensure
positive outcomes for Aboriginal people and communities in Western Australia. The funding is split over three key policy areas: building strong communities, improving health and well-being, and delivering social and economic opportunities.

“This significant investment will help us Close the Gap in Western Australia and aligns with
our four Priority Reform Areas for changing how governments work with Aboriginal people,” said Aboriginal Affairs Minister Stephen Dawson.

You can read the media release by the McGowan Government here.

Aboriginal student resting on desk with two rocks one with the word 'lonely' & one with the word 'sad'

Headspace ‘take a step’ campaign photo.

Cultural safety important to patients and healthcare workers

Cultural safety is vitally important for the effective delivery of health services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, as well as in medical schools for our medical students and the health settings where our doctors work.

The Australian Indigenous Doctros’ Association (AIDA) supports the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) National Scheme 2020-2025 definition of cultural safety as:

“A sense of being as determined by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander individuals, families and communities” and furthermore, “culturally safe practise is the ongoing critical reflection of health practitioner knowledge, skills, attitudes, practising behaviours and power differentials in delivering safe, accessible and responsive healthcare free of racism”.

You can read mora about AIDA‘s Cultural Safety Program here.

Culturally Appropriate Mental Health Care Is Vital For Indigenous Youth Right Now.
Reframing mental health care through a decolonised lens driven for and by Indigenous voices is the path forward to ensure sensitivity is delivered from diagnosis through to treatment and care. Psychologist and Palawa woman Jodi Jones told Junkee that culturally appropriate access to basic services is one of the biggest challenges impacting Indigenous youth mental health right now.

“Indigenous psychologists have the lived experiences of the real issues and disparities that have existed, and continue within our communities,” Jones said.

“We are the best equipped to deal with Indigenous issues with Indigenous perspectives”.

You can read the article in Junkee here.

AIDA - Cultural Safety Training

Innovative research explores responses to COVID-19

A study being conducted by the University of Queensland, led by Professor Bronwyn Fredericks, and Professor James Ward, seeks to unpack the complexities of Indigenous health and social systems to better understand the effectiveness of responses to COVID-19 in Brisbane.

Although the pandemic and subsequent lockdowns have posed numerous health risks for Indigenous peoples, in the most part, it has merely exacerbated pre-existing issues relating to underlying health conditions, food insecurity, housing, and other social determinants of disparate health outcomes.

This study seeks to better understand the structural reforms needed to construct an effective health system, particularly during times of pandemics. It draws on the collective knowledge and experience of Indigenous and non-indigenous service-providers and healthcare professionals while recognising that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are the experts of their own needs and that sustainable change must be community orientated and driven.

You can read the article in Croakey Health Media here.

Deanne Minnicon and Maurice Woodley from the West Moreton Hospital and Health Service, and Professor Bronwyn Fredericks. Image source: Croakey Health Media.

Deanne Minnicon and Maurice Woodley from the West Moreton Hospital and Health Service, and Professor Bronwyn Fredericks. Image source: Croakey Health Media.

Rural health students protecting themselves and rural communities

The Australian Rural Health Education Network (ARHEN) has acknowledged the efforts of rural health students to protect themselves, their patients and rural communities from COVID-19 by getting vaccinated ahead of their clinical placements.

The Chair of ARHEN, Christine Howard, said health students play a vital role in the delivery of clinical services in many rural and remote communities and can help ease the burden on already stretched services.

“It is pleasing to see so many health students from a range of disciplines step up and get vaccinated and join the fight against COVID-19 in rural and remote communities. Around the country student nurses, pharmacists, paramedics, physiotherapists and occupational therapists have been recruited by state health services to support the vaccine roll-out.

You can read the ARHEN media release here.

health professional looking computer screen engaging in teleconference

Image source: National Rural Health Alliance website.

 

New process for job advertising

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

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


dice spelling JOBS resting on keyboard

 

Now Open: the Puggy Hunter Memorial Scholarship Scheme

The Australian College of Nursing (ACN) is delighted to announce that applications for the Puggy Hunter Memorial Scholarship Scheme (PHMSS) are now open!

Thanks to the Australian Government Department of Health, the PHMSS provides financial assistance to Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people who are studying or intending to study an entry-level health course in 2022, in one of the following disciplines:

  • Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander primary health care
  • Nursing (RN and EN)
  • Midwifery
  • Dentistry/oral health (excluding dental assistants)
  • Medicine
  • Allied health (all specialties except pharmacy)
  • Mental health studies NEW

Additional places for mental health related studies have been made available for this year’s intake! You can view the full list of eligible courses and course areas on our website.

This is an exciting opportunity for Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander students to receive support to pursue their passion in health care!

Applications close at 11:59pm AEDT on Monday 11 October 2021.

If you have any questions or need assistance with your application, feel free to get in touch with us at 1800 688 628 or scholarships@acn.edu.au.

Download the flyer here.
You can apply for a scholarship here.

Ngar-wu Wanyarra Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health Conference

Ngar-wu Wanyarra Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health Conference 2021 
Online event
Wednesday 13th October 2021
The University of Melbourne, Department of Rural Health

The aim for the conference is to facilitate the exchange of information on key issues in Aboriginal
and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ health and wellbeing through the delivery of high impact keynote addresses by national leaders from within the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community.

The conference also provides a forum for the presentation of cutting-edge program initiatives and research findings in Aboriginal health and wellbeing by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health practitioners and their colleagues. The title of the conference ‘Ngar-wu Wanyarra’ translates to ‘listen and act’ in the language of the Yorta Yorta.

You can now download the program and conference booklet.
For up to date information on the conference please visit the website.
If you have any enquiries contact aboriginal-health@unimelb.edu.au or call (03) 5823 4512.

2021 Ngar-wu Wanyarra Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Conference.

 

 

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Low awareness of FASD

Feature tile - Thu 9.9.21 - Low awareness of FASD.

Low awareness of FASD

This International Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) Awareness Day, the Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education (FARE) and NOFASD are calling on Australians to contribute to the prevention of FASD – a range of neurodevelopmental impairments caused by alcohol exposure during pregnancy.

FARE CEO, Caterina Giorgi, said that a new polling snapshot by FARE has identified that many Australians are not aware that alcohol is harmful to health during pregnancy.

“Almost one in three Australians aren’t aware that drinking alcohol during pregnancy can cause FASD and almost one in four aren’t aware that alcohol should be avoided altogether in pregnancy,” Ms Giorgi said.

You can also join the Red Shoes Rock campaign, which was started by RJ Formanek, an adult with FASD. He decided to wear RED SHOES to stand out, be noticed and have some fun starting FASD conversations with strangers. With strong supports and increased awareness FASD can be prevented. Wear red shoes proudly to raise awareness about FASD.
#RedShoesRock #FASDawareness

You can view the media release by FARE and NOFASD here.
You can also download a Polling Snapshot for Alcohol use, Pregnancy and Fetal Alcohol
Spectrum Disorder here.
For more information about International FASD Awareness Day click here.

Red Shoes Rock-banner, FASD.

 

‘Living with COVID’ – what front-line health workers are facing

With the Delta variant raging across New South Wales and Victoria, health services are stretched and strained. In the next few months, the health workforce will care for many more patients with COVID-19, with case numbers in NSW expected to peak over the next two weeks.

The nation is focused on plans to reopen borders and increase freedoms as soon as there are sufficiently high rates of vaccination. But what does ‘living with’ COVID-19 look like for health professionals?

In 2020, The Conversation surveyed front-line health-care workers across Australia and found the pandemic had taken a considerable toll on their mental health. Throughout the pandemic, health-care workers have also been disproportionately infected – often through exposure to the virus at work.

If we are to live with COVID-19, we need a health-care system that can cope with the ‘normal’ pressures of providing health care for 25 million people, intermittent crises, plus respond to both the short and long-term needs of people with COVID-19. Preparing the health-care system to respond to crises such as pandemics, must include supporting health-care workers and protecting them from burnout, overwork, and exhaustion. We risk losing our most valuable asset in the health-care system if we fail to urgently respond to these issues.

You can read the article in The Conversation here.

Kathryn Ivey, an ICU nurse in the USA tweeted these two photos with the text: "How it started. How it's going." in November 2020.

Kathryn Ivey, an ICU nurse in the USA tweeted these two photos with the text: “How it started. How it’s going.” in November 2020.

 

Wilcannia targeted by ivermectin spruiker

Last week, as case numbers in the COVID-ravaged regional New South Wales town of Wilcannia soared, a broadcaster at the local radio station, Brendon Adams, received an offer in an email. It said a prominent Sydney doctor wanted to help the town’s largely Aboriginal population by treating them with a drug that, the sender promised, would “get rid of COVID and prevent them from contracting it again”. The drug was ivermectin and the email Adams received came from a Queensland man named John Huntley.

In Wilcannia, where COVID cases reached 109 on Wednesday, or 14.5% of the population, the appearance of individuals pushing the use of ivermectin prompted an outburst of anger from Adams, who accused the sender of taking advantage of a community where people were already sick, confused and scared.

“This isn’t just happening in Wilcannia. We’re hearing this is happening in communities all over the far west. The information they’re pushing is not reliable, it’s not resourceful. We need them to stop and leave our communities alone. We’ve got enough to deal with at the moment,” he told the Guardian.

You can read the story in the Guardian here.

Brendon Adams, who has been helping with providing food to families in isolation, Wilcannia, NSW, Australia. Photograph: Jessica Hromas/The Guardian.

Brendon Adams, who has been helping with providing food to families in isolation, Wilcannia, NSW, Australia. Photograph: Jessica Hromas/The Guardian.

 

More vaccines, but when can we make them here?

Australia borrows Pfizer jabs, while it waits for purchases to arrive. But when might mRNA vaccines be made onshore? Also there’s anger among Aboriginal leaders about anti-vax propaganda targeted at vulnerable communities. And consumer shortages and delays as a cascade of problems hits global shipping.

Listen to:

  • Associate Professor Archa Fox, RNA biologist, University of Western Australia.
  • Dr Jason Agostino, Senior Medical Adviser to the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO), GP and epidemiologist.
  • Rachel Premack, senior investigative reporter, Business Insider

Produced by Madeleine Genner and Emily Bourke.

Tune in to listen to This Week, 4 September 2021 on ABC Radio here.

Dr Jason Agostino, Senior Medical Adviser to NACCHO, GP and epidemiologist.

Dr Jason Agostino, Senior Medical Adviser to NACCHO, GP and epidemiologist.

 

What challenges lies ahead in epidemiology?

The World Congress of Epidemiology opened on 4 September with a short silence to remember more than 4.5 million people who have died from COVID-19 to date, with particular mention of epidemiologists and public health workers. Hosted by the Australasian Epidemiological Association, the Congress this year is a virtual event, and began with a Welcome to Country from Wurundjeri Elder, Aunty Diane Kerr.

Also at the opening ceremony, President of the International Epidemiology Association, Professor Henrique Barros, reflected on how COVID-19 had provided a “critical moment” for epidemiology. He contrasted the epidemiological tools used to combat the spread of COVID with approaches taken century ago when the 1918 influenza pandemic posed a similar threat to global health.

Clear messages from other keynotes and presentations included the need to celebrate the positive contribution epidemiology has played in worldwide efforts to combat COVID, while also applying a critical lens and learning from past mistakes to meet the challenges of COVID and other public health threats in the future.

Another strong theme was the need for epidemiology to be more effective in addressing health inequities, especially for First Nations people.

You can read the article in Croakey Health Media here.

To date: 4,561,467 COVID deaths and 220,305,973 cases. Image taken from real-time online mapping of the outbreak, by John Hopkins University Center for Systems Science and Engineering. 5 Sept 2021.

To date: 4,561,467 COVID deaths and 220,305,973 cases. Image taken from real-time online mapping of the outbreak, by John Hopkins University Center for Systems Science and Engineering. 5 Sept 2021.

 

Access to COVID-19 digital certificate

Consumers can now get their COVID-19 digital certificate from My Health Record to show proof of their COVID-19 vaccinations. The digital certificate will become available once their vaccination provider has reported all required doses of an approved COVID-19 vaccine to the Australian Immunisation Register (AIR).

Consumers can already get an immunisation history statement from their record to show proof of all vaccinations recorded on the AIR, including COVID-19 vaccinations.

These documents are also available for non-Medicare eligible consumers who have a My Health Record.

Second dose alert date range
The COVID-19 vaccine second dose due date alert now displays a date range on the Record Home page. The dates are calculated based on the minimum and maximum recommended interval for the second dose of the vaccine brand. For example, if someone has one dose of the Pfizer vaccine, their second dose would be due between 21 and 42 days after the first dose.

For more information, see Getting proof of vaccination from My Health Record.
You can also find answers to common consumer questions here.

If consumers need assistance at any time, they can contact the Help line on 1800 723 471 and select option 1. Call charges may apply for mobile phones.

COVID-19 Digital Certificate. Image source: ABC News.

COVID-19 Digital Certificate. Image source: ABC News.

 

Are they really OK? Ask them today!

This year’s R U OK? Day theme is ‘Are they really OK? Ask them today’. R U OK?

The Morrison Government is encouraging Australians to reach out to the people we care about for an important conversation about mental health this R U OK? Day. This year it is more important than ever before as we all continue to face unprecedented challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic, and these challenges can have significant impacts on our mental health.

Research has shown that around 22% of Australians don’t reach out to check on the people around them because there hasn’t been an occasion where they felt someone needed their help. However, a regular check in, or just starting the conversation – even when someone is not visibly distressed or in crisis – can make a real difference.

Read the media release by The Morrison Government here.

In another media release by the Psychotherapy and Counselling Federation of Australia (PACFA), Dr Di Stow, President of the PACFA says you should be prepared for the answer to be ‘No’ when asking a friend, family member or colleague R U OK?

It’s being reported that in lockdown, pre-existing trauma is rising to the surface and cracks in families that were previously covered over with activity are being laid bare. People are seeking help for anxiety, depression and anger arising from the uncertainty and lack of control related to lockdown. Counsellors and psychotherapists are increasingly frustrated at the current situation where Australians struggling with their mental health will seek support on R U OK Day but be turned away by psychologists after referrals from GPs. GPs, particularly in locked-down states, report they cannot find help for their patients through the Better Access initiative because psychologists have waiting lists of 3-6 months, or have closed their books completely.

In the meantime, over 60% of PACFA members responding to a survey said they could take on a new client within a fortnight; 23% said they could take on a new client within 48 hours.

PACFA is advocating for the Federal Government to open up the Better Access initiative beyond psychologists, to counsellors and psychotherapists who are highly-trained, highly experienced mental health professionals.

You can read the media release here.

Click here for more information and resources around R U OK? Day.

 

New process for job advertising

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

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


dice spelling JOBS resting on keyboard

 

Nominations open: the Dennis McDermott Memorial Award For Excellence In Cultural Safety

This award is named in honour of the late Professor Dennis McDermott. From Gomereoi country (north-western New South Wales), with connections to Gadigal country (inner Sydney), he was a psychologist, academic and poet, and was La Trobe University’s inaugural Pro Vice-Chancellor (Indigenous). Dennis worked as an Indigenous health academic for many years. As a respected member of the LIME Network and Reference Group he contributed to the pedagogy of Indigenous cultural safety for future health professionals.

The award, a prize of $1000, will recognise outstanding work by a health practitioner, community organisation or educator in enhancing cultural safety in Australian health contexts, understood broadly. It is intended to recognise both existing good practice and innovations in the field.

Submission must be received by 5pm (AEST), 25 September 2021.

Click here for more information about nominations and applications.
Email submissions to Dr Shayne Bellingham: lime-network@unimelb.edu.au.

Professor Dennis McDermott. Image credit: Flinders University via InDaily.

Professor Dennis McDermott. Image credit: Flinders University via InDaily.

Chronic Kidney Disease, Diabetes & Cardiovascular Disease

This is a webinar for health professionals run by Kidney Health Australia. It will be presented by Associate Professor Shilpa Jesudason, Nephrologist.

7:30pm AEST, Wednesday 22 September 2021.
You can register your interest here.

Chronic Kidney Disease, Diabetes & Cardiovascular Disease webinar.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: AHWs lead major vaccination blitz

feature tile text 'AHW led COVID-19 vaccination blitz sees unbelievable community update'

AHWs lead major vaccination blitz

In Wellington, a small community in western NSW, Aboriginal health workers are leading a major vaccination blitz. While Indigenous vaccination rates in this region are still the lowest in the state, Wellington Aboriginal Corporation Health Service (WACHS) is working hard to change that.

“Over the last two weeks we’ve been able to deliver about 1,500 individual doses,” Jay Forrester from the WACHS said. “I think the community uptake has been unbelievable.”

The health service in Wellington is in the midst of a six-week vaccine drive. Staff believe they have already vaccinated about 50 per cent of the targeted population, and they aim to reach 80 to 90% by the end.

To view the article in full click here.

Feature tile shows WACHS staff administering COVID-19 vaccine. Image source: ABC News.

WACHS vaccination clinic

WACHS vaccination clinic. Image source: ABC News.

Second COVID-19 death in Western NSW

The tiny community of Enngonia in Northwest NSW is in mourning following the death of an Elder yesterday (6 September 2021). The lady in her 70s, who was unfortunately unvaccinated, passed away in Dubbo Hospital after contracting COVID-19.

The news follows the death of an Aboriginal man  in his 50’s in Dubbo on August 30. “A really sad day for a little place like Enngonia to lose one of their much-loved Elders up there,” said Western NSW Police Commander Geoff McKechnie.

The small isolated community, which is an hour’s drive from the nearest hospital in Bourke, has less than 200 residents in the town with almost half the population Indigenous. There are 21 active cases of the virus in the town, while six new cases were announced in Bourke on Monday.

Western Health District CEO Scott McLachlan urged the community to continue to follow health advice to prevent further spread of the virus. “This is a very sombre reminder of the tragic outcomes that can happen when people get COVID,” he said.

To read the full SBS article click here.

entrance to Dubbo Hospital

Image source: The Guardian.

Free WellMob website webinar 

Our health and wellbeing workers are under extra pressure given the COVID-19 pandemic and additional physical and mental health risks to our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

A free webinar will explore the WellMob website, a project delivered by some of our University Centre for Rural Health staff who work under the national electronic Mental Health in Practice project. Wellmob is a digital library of Indigenous specific SEWB resources that makes it easy for you to find culturally relevant online tools to keep our mob strong in these challenging times.

The seminar will tell you about how best to navigate the website and discuss ways for you to use digital wellbeing tools in your work and with your Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander clients. The Q & A will allow you to share your insights and discuss your needs in using online resources to maintain the health and wellbeing of our diverse First Nations communities.

The webinar will take place on Thursday 16 September 2021 at 4:00pm AEST. The webinar is free to attend, however, registration is required.

WellMob Health Our Way banner/logo

Discrimination links to poor mental health

Globally, Indigenous populations have higher rates of suicidal behaviour and psychological distress compared to non-Indigenous populations. Indigenous populations also report high rates of exposure to discrimination, which could potentially contribute to poor mental health outcomes.

A research team have estimated the prevalence of discrimination among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander males in Australia and examined the role of discrimination in the association between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander status and suicidal thoughts and depressive symptoms.

The team’s analysis adds to evidence that discrimination is a contributor to mental health disparities between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and non-Indigenous populations in Australia. The research concludes that reducing discrimination ought to be considered as part of strategies to improve the social and emotional well-being of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

To access the article published in the Australian and NZ Journal of Psychiatry click here

silhouette of Aboriginal man's head with light shining on to eye

Image source: Australian Men’s Health Forum.

A Life Changing Life campaign

The Australian Government wants to see a growing skilled and sustainable care and support workforce. As part of their A Life Changing Life campaign, they have partnered with SEEK to help employers attract the right people to fill care and support roles

They are hosting an exclusive webinar exploring current employment trends and showcasing the tools available to support your resourcing strategies. In the webinar, employers will learn:

  • Employment market trends and insights
  • Employment trends in care and support sector
  • Tools and products available to optimise hiring activity.

The free webinar will be held from: 11:00 AM – 12:00 PM AEST Thursday 9 September 2021.

This is part of a new webinar series in partnership with SEEK, connecting employers with industry experts who will share insights and practical advice tailored to recruiting people into the care and support sector.

The webinar is designed for all employers in the care and support sector, and there is no cost. To register for the webinar click here.

A Life Changing Life tile - Aboriginal woman & man sitting on a bench outside

Support available if concerns about drinking

With the extension of COVID restrictions affecting many Australians, the Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education (FARE) is reminding people that there are supports available if they have concerns about their drinking or the drinking of someone they know.

FARE CEO, Caterina Giorgi, said that people might notice themselves drinking more frequently or drinking as a way to cope with anxiety or stress. “Many of us are experiencing disrupted routines and increased levels of stress as we deal with the affect that the ongoing pandemic has on our everyday lives,” Ms Giorgi said.

“These feelings are unsettling and can increase the likelihood of turning to alcohol to cope. But alcohol increases anxiety and leads to sleep disturbance and having less energy.” Ms Giorgi encouraged anyone concerned about their drinking to reach out to support services.

“There are a range of online, phone and face-to-face support that people can reach out to if they are concerned about their alcohol use or that of someone in their lives,” Ms Giorgi said.

Support is available by calling the National Alcohol and Other Drug hotline (1800 250 015) and online support sites Daybreak, Drinksmeter and Bushtribe.

More support services are available on the FARE website here.

To view the FARE media release here.

FARE logo, photo nuclear family

New process for job advertising

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

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

R U OK? Day

R U OK? is a harm prevention charity that encourages people to stay connected and have conversations that can help others through difficult times in their lives. Their work focuses on building the motivation, confidence and skills of the  help-giver – the person who can have a meaningful conversation with someone who is struggling with life.

R U OK? contributes to suicide prevention efforts by encouraging  people to invest more time in their  personal relationships and building the capacity of informal support networks – friends, family and colleagues – to be alert to those around them, have a conversation if they identify signs of distress or difficulty and connect someone to appropriate support, long before they’re in crisis.

This year’s R U OK? Day message is Are they really OK? Ask them today.

Do you know how the people in your world are really going?

Life’s ups and downs happen to all of us. So chances are someone you know might be struggling. Your genuine support can make a difference whatever they are facing, big or small.  So, don’t wait until someone’s visibly distressed or in crisis. Make a moment meaningful and ask them how they’re really going. Are they really OK? Ask them today. Your conversation could change a life.

You can visit the R U OK? website here.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: All 12-15 year olds now eligible for vaccine

feature tile text 'All 12-15 years olds now eligible for COVID-19 vaccine' & image of syringe injecting COVID-19 virus & vaccine vial

All 12-15 year olds now eligible for vaccine

All children aged between 12 and 15 years will be able to book a COVID-19 Pfizer vaccine from 13September following the Morrison Government’s decision to implement expert medical advice. This is in addition to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 12 and over, who are already able to access a COVID-19 vaccine.

Bookings will be available through GPs, Commonwealth Vaccination Clinics and ACCHOs. Each state and territory will advise when their state vaccination clinics will open to this group.

The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) reviewed detailed medical evidence and recommended Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccination in all children and adolescents 12 years of age and above. PM Scott Morrison said the Moderna vaccine would also be made available subject to approvals from the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) and ATAGI recommendations for 12-18 year olds.

To view the media release in full click here.

Image source for above photo and photo in the feature tile: The Conversation.

RACGP and RACP support 12+ vaccination

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) has welcomed news that all children aged 12 to 15 are eligible to receive the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, with bookings opening on 13 September. Earlier this month, the Therapeutic Goods Administration’s (TGA) gave provisional approval for the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine to be delivered to 12 to 15-year olds.

Shortly after, the RACGP spoke out in support of the ATAGI issuing a new recommendation that vulnerable children groups were eligible to receive the vaccine. Expanding eligibly to all 12 to 15-year-olds comes at an opportune time, with the Delta COVID-19 variant striking many young people in Victoria and NSW – including those aged 16 and under.

To view the RACGP media release in full click here.

Image source: The Smith Family website.

The Royal Australasian College of Physicians (RACP) has also recommended that all children aged 12-15 years receive the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccination when available, in line with recent ATAGI advice. This follows a recent recommendation to administer the Pfizer vaccine to children in this age bracket with pre-existing medical conditions, Indigenous children and children living in remote communities.

The Delta strain of COVID-19 causes infection in a higher number of children, making vaccination in this age group a priority. “Parents can be confident that the safety and effectiveness of the vaccines has been carefully evaluated through international clinical trials and analysis of real-world data,” RACP President Professor John Wilson says.

To view the RACP media release click here.

Image source: Australian Government Institute of Family Studies website.

Attitudes to vaccine improving

Ngukurr resident Michelle Farrell admits she felt a “bit scared” getting her COVID-19 vaccine. But she rolled up her sleeve as part of a new push to get thousands of remote residents in central and southern Arnhem land protected against the virus.

Ms Farrell is a board member on Aboriginal-controlled health service Sunrise Health, which is partnering with the Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS) to boost vaccine rates in communities like Ngukurr, Minyerri and Wugularr (Beswick). Ms Farrell said attitudes towards the vaccine were improving but there was still hesitancy to address.

To view the full article click here.

Ngukurr community leaders hosting BBQ at local football oval where people could also get COVID-19 vaccine

Ngukurr community leaders hosted a barbecue at the local football oval where people could also get COVID-19 vaccines. Photo: Royal Flying Doctor Service. Image source: ABC News.

COVID-19 communications approach for Mob

The National COVID Vaccine Taskforce has produced an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communication campaign slide deck. This campaign provides an overview of the communications approach for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander audiences, including creation of custom designs and relevant assets with Indigenous artwork.

One of the resources available, is the below video of Tatum Moore, Wiradjuri, Yorta Yorta and Barkindji woman and local Dubbo community leader, encouraging everyone to stay home, get tested, and get the COVID-19 vaccine.

Youth programs key to reduce family violence

Teaching young people how to identify healthy and respectful relationships helps mitigate experiences of family violence for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, according to a report led by The Australian National University (ANU).

In the FaCts study, which is a first of its kind, researchers analysed responses from 1,600 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to understand how to reduce family violence in their communities. The Indigenous-led study, commissioned by the Department of Social Services, found support services must be orientated around families and broader kinship systems.

“We found that culturally informed education programs work,” study director Dr Jill Guthrie, from the ANU Research School of Population Health, said. “It is important to have Aboriginal Torres Strait Islander communities lead the change. “Programs like Young Luv engage with Aboriginal teenagers at a stage when destructive patterns in relationships may have started to happen or become normalised.”

To view the ANU article in full click here.

ANU researcher Jill Guthrie standing in stairwell

Study Director Jill Guthrie : “It is important to have Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities lead the change.” Image source: ANU website.

ACCHO values important carer role

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander carers provide ongoing care, support and assistance to family members and friends with disability, a chronic illness (which includes mental illness), terminal illness or who is frail aged, without receiving a salary or wage for the care they provide. 12.4% of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population are carers, compared to 10.5% of the non-Indigenous Australian population.

Derbarl Yerrigan Health Serivce Aboriginal Corporation is one ACCHO that values and recognises the important role of carers as key partners in the delivery of high quality care, and is committed to supporting carers through inclusion and responsiveness as per the Carers Recognition Act 2004.

DYSAC supports the four principles of the WA Carers Charter, including:

  1. Carers must be treated with respect and dignity
  2. The role of carers must be recognised by including carers in the assessment, planning, delivery and review of services that impact on them and the role of carers.
  3. The views and needs of carers must be taken into account along with the views, needs and best interests of people receiving care when decisions are made that impact on carers and the role of carers.
  4. Complaints made by carers in relation to services that impact on them and the role of carers must be given due attention and consideration.

To view this information on the DYSAC website click here. You can also access information and resources for carers on the Carers Australian website here.

Culturally safe suicide bereavement support

The Australian government is providing $15 million over three years to Thirrili Ltd, to provide culturally-appropriate bereavement support and follow-up services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Thirrili was selected as the national provider following a competitive grants process.

Minister for Indigenous Australians, the Hon Ken Wyatt AM, MP, said mental health and suicide prevention is a national priority, including suicide postvention services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

Thirrili will help to reduce adverse health outcomes for families and communities who suffer a suicide and assist in addressing further suicidal behaviours, particularly through their 24-hour help line – 1800 805 801.

To view the media release in full click here.

Mena Condo crouching down against Aboriginal art mural

NPY Women’s Council domestic violence case worker Mena Condo found limited suicide bereavement services in Alice Springs following her son Jack’s death. Image source: ABC News.

New process for job advertising

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

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

Asthma Week 2021

2.7 million Australians are living with asthma (1 in 9).  With air pollution being a regular thing we breathe in, the risks and impacts for people with asthma are getting harder. But it’s not just people with asthma who are impacted. Air pollution, from traffic exhaust to your gas cook-top, can be damaging our lungs and your general health. When we breathe in certain air pollutants, the risk of developing conditions like asthma, heart or lung disease and cancer can increase. Didn’t know? That’s okay.

This Asthma Week – Wednesday 1 to Thursday 7 September 2021 – Asthma Australia has joined forces with key respiratory, health and climate organisations to encourage Australians to care as much about the air they breathe as the food they eat.

The Asthma Week Collaborative is launching – ‘Air Nutrition – you are what you breathe – to educate Australians to think differently about the air we’re breathing in and to take simple steps for a healthier life. For more information visit Asthma Australia’s website here.

 

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Struggling to isolate in overcrowded housing

Ronnie Murray says his brother has been sleeping in a tent to help the family isolate, a difficult task in a household of 10. (Supplied: Wilcannia River Radio)

Struggling to isolate in overcrowded housing

NACCHO CEO Pat Turner told The Point that overcrowded housing in remote communities has been brought to the attention of governments over many years and they’ve failed to act.

“We have repeatedly asked governments throughout Australia to address and to ensure that our people have safe and the right size housing, so we won’t have these problems. There will be future pandemics and we must get this housing issue addressed,” she said.

You can read the article in SBS NITV News here.

Ms Turner also spoke to The Point about the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, the Delta strain, and what resources are in place to help with staff shortages at Aboriginal community controlled health services.

You can watch Pat Turner on Episode 17, Season 2021, The Point SBS NITV below.

 

The power of respectful partnerships

Last week, nursing academic Professor Rhonda Wilson was hard at work in Walgett assisting local health workers with COVID vaccinations. Writing from isolation upon her return home, she reflects on the importance of relationships, respect and trust in providing culturally safe services.

We have been working in partnership with Walgett Aboriginal Medical Service (WAMS) on another project for some time. We saw our partners needed a hand, and we knew we had skills, knowledge, respectfulness, and community connection to help in a culturally safe manner. If we could help, in partnership, we would volunteer to do so.

The response from WAMS was a swift, ‘Yes, your help is needed. When could you come?’

WAMS invited me and my nursing colleagues from the School of Nursing and Midwifery at the University of Newcastle, Professor Amanda Johnson and Associate Professor Donna Hartz, to help urgently with the escalating crisis of COVID-19 cases in their area.

You can read the story in Croakey Health Media here.

Professor Rhonda Wilson, contributing to the pandemic response at Walgett recently. Image source: Croakey Health Media.

Professor Rhonda Wilson, contributing to the pandemic response at Walgett recently. Image source: Croakey Health Media.

On track for vaccine target in Deniliquin

The district population is on track to be 70 to 80 per cent fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by November, according to Murrumbidgee Local Health District.

Practice manager at the Deniliquin Aboriginal Medical Service Sarah Campbell said the clinic is set up to deliver up to 100 vaccines if the clinic opens for half a day, and 160 on a full day. The AMS has fully vaccinated 31 First Nations people while another 87 have had their first vaccine.

Deniliquin’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population at the time of the 2016 Census was about 330 people, or 4.5% of the local population, higher than the 2.9% Australia-wide population.

Ms Campbell said the medical service has been vaccinating elders since April. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 12 and over can get vaccinated in Deniliquin.

You can read the story in Deniliquin Pastoral Times here.

Person receiving vaccine. Image source: ABC News website.

Person receiving vaccine. Image source: ABC News website.

Stolen Generations Redress Scheme a step closer

The Morrison Government is deeply committed to supporting the healing of Stolen Generations survivors and has taken another step on the journey to provide redress for those forcibly removed as children in territories that were administered by the Commonwealth. The passage of the Territories Stolen Generations Redress Scheme (Facilitation) Act 2021 and the Territories Stolen Generations Redress Scheme (Consequential Amendments) Act 2021 will ensure the Scheme can be established over the next six months and start receiving applications by 1 March 2022.

“Today we introduced two pieces of legislation to give effect to key elements of the Scheme
and to make sure that all supports going to Stolen Generations survivors are not hampered
by other Acts,” Minister for Indigenous Australians, the Hon Ken Wyatt AM, MP said.

“With many Stolen Generations survivors being of an advanced age, the imperative to act now has been brought into sharp focus.”

“This redress scheme reflects the Morrison Government’s commitment to support our
nation’s journey to reconciliation and to support inter-generational healing for the health and
wellbeing of Stolen Generations survivors.”

You can read the media release by the Minister for Indigenous Australians, The Hon Ken Wyatt AM, MP here.

Resources to improve children’s wellbeing

With the COVID-19 pandemic amplifying pressures on families, a timely new initiative is seeking to improve Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children’s social and emotional wellbeing.

The resource series, developed by The Healing Foundation and Emerging Minds, highlights the undercurrent of intergenerational trauma among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, and outlines a strengths-based approach to healing. This new package, released recently to coincide with National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children’s Day, contains free e-learning modules, factsheets, and an animation (view below) to help elevate the importance of a child’s development.

You can read more about the initiative in Croakey Health Media here.
Visit the Emerging Minds website to access the e-learning modules.
Visit the Healing Foundations website to view the factsheets.

MBS billing guides now online

The MBS billing guides by The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health are now online.

  • MBS guide for GPs working in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health
  • MBS guide for other medical practitioners (OMPs) working in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health

As well as an extensive list of MBS items used by GPs and OMPs, both guides also include items used by other healthcare professionals such as allied health providers and nurse practitioners. Unlike the other guides they have developed as part of our MBS online tool, these pages are unlocked and can be accessed by anyone.

You can view the MBS billing guides here.

Aboriginal man at GP consultation. Image source: GP Synergy.

Aboriginal man at GP consultation. Image source: GP Synergy.

Disease expenditure in Australia

A new release from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW): Disease expenditure in Australia 2018-19 describes the activity and characteristics of Australia’s health care system in terms of estimated expenditure for different demographic groups in the population, and expenditure relating to different groups of diseases.

This web report provides the most recent data available on the health care expenditure on all Australian Burden of Disease Study conditions, including expenditure by health care sector, type of condition, age group, and sex. Information is presented on the web pages using interactive visualisations, and downloadable Microsoft Excel workbooks.

Visit the AIHW website to view the Disease expenditure in Australia 2018-19.

One of the key findings in the 'Australian Burden of Disease Study 2018'.

One of the key findings in the ‘Australian Burden of Disease Study 2018’.

Pancreatic Cancer Roadmap online survey

Cancer Australia is pleased to provide you with the National Pancreatic Cancer Roadmap online Delphi Survey. The survey is being conducted by Deloitte on behalf of Cancer Australia.

Consultation closes on 30 August 2021, however please feel free to reach out to NACCHO’s Cancer team anytime if you would like to discuss by emailing Kate.Armstrong@naccho.org.au.

You can access the survey here.
You can also read the National Pancreatic Cancer Roadmap – Discussion Paper here.

 

New process for job advertising

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

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


dice spelling JOBS resting on keyboard

 

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Shepparton mob records zero cases

Rumbalara Aboriginal Co-Operative CEO Felicia Dean receiving her COVID-19 vaccine at the Rumbalara Medical Clinic.

Shepparton mob records zero cases

No First Nations people have yet tested positive in Shepparton’s growing cluster, while towns in the region are seeing encouraging vaccination rates.

While the city is home to Victoria’s largest Indigenous population outside Melbourne, no cases have been detected in Greater Shepparton’s Aboriginal community so far.

In the nearby rural town of Mooroopna where Rumbalara Aboriginal Co-operative Health and Wellbeing is located, Executive Manager Shannon Drake said she was pleased to see more than 506 people show up to get tested over the weekend.

“Those who’ve come through over the weekend are encouraging the rest of the mob to come in and are explaining how simple the process is,” Ms Drake said.

“It’s wonderful engagement from our community.”

You can read the article on the SBS NITV website.

Nurses who helped Rumbalara Aboriginal Co-Operative test 506 people over the weekend. Image source: SBS NITV website.

Nurses who helped Rumbalara Aboriginal Co-Operative test 506 people over the weekend. Image source: SBS NITV website. Feature tile image: Rumbalara Aboriginal Co-Operative CEO Felicia Dean receiving her COVID-19 vaccine at the clinic. Image source: Rumbalara Facebook.

 

Concern as COVID-19 reaches Gulargambone

The coronavirus has reached another remote community with a large Aboriginal population, with Gulargambone, recording a new case on Monday. The tiny western NSW town, when last measured, had a population of 400 people with almost half Indigenous.

Practice manager Steven McMahon at the local Bawrunga Aboriginal Medical Service said the virus could have a huge impact.

“In a community like Gulargambone where there is a lot of chronic disease, it was always going to be a concern. Now that we have a case, we’re watching to see what impact that has,” he told NITV News.

“There has been increased demand for vaccinations, which is good . . . I think that is going to be the key to getting back to some sort of normality.”

You can read the article on the SBS NITV website.

Gulgargambone town sign. Image source: SBS NITV website.

Gulgargambone town sign. Image source: SBS NITV website.

 

Mob urged to ‘Step Up’ for the jab

The Institute for Urban Indigenous Health (IUIH) along with its four founding Community Controlled Health Services hopes to a spark a reason for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders aged 12 and over to get the COVID-19 vaccine with the launch of the I Stepped Up campaign and website.

The campaign features informative videos, answers to frequently asked questions and a slew of other resources.

“It is crucial to provide our community with the information and resources they need to feel comfortable about coming out to get vaccinated. Everyone has a different motivation for getting the COVID-19 vaccine, whether to protect their community, to keep family members safe or to make plans for the future, so we want to highlight the different reasons to resonate with more of our mob,” said IUIH CEO, Adrian Carson.

You can read the press release by IUIH here.
For more information and resources, visit the I Stepped Up website.
Follow the campaign on Facebook here.

Keeping mob strong during pandemic

Gayaa Dhuwi (Proud Spirit) Australia provides Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leadership in social and emotional wellbeing, mental health and suicide prevention. They have created a range of free posters on how people can stay healthy and strong during the coronavirus outbreak.

Visit the Gayaa Dhuwi website to download the posters along with a range of other helpful resources.

Illustrations form 'Looking after ourselves - our way' poster by Gayaa Dhuwi (Proud Spirit) Australia.

Illustrations form ‘Looking after ourselves – our way’ poster by Gayaa Dhuwi (Proud Spirit) Australia.

NT’s first Implementation Plan on Closing the Gap

The Territory Labor Government has released the first Closing the Gap NT Implementation Plan in partnership with APO NT and LGANT. This move follows the establishment of the historic National Agreement on Closing the Gap, which reflects a shared genuine and meaningful commitment to achieve equity for First Nations people. The NT Implementation Plan outlines key actions and the transformation of Government to work in partnership with Aboriginal people and organisations to achieve the outcomes and objectives of the National Agreement on Closing the Gap.

The Territory will take a phased approach to the implementation of Closing the Gap, in line with the timeframes set out in the National Agreement, and reflecting the unique circumstances of the Territory.

You can read the media release by Northern Territory Minister for Aboriginal Affairs Selena Uibo here.
To read the Closing the Gap NT Implementation Plan please visit the Northern Territory Government Office for Aboriginal Affairs website.

Image source: Closing the Gap - Northern Territory Implementation Plan.

Image source: Closing the Gap – Northern Territory Implementation Plan.

 

Literacy key to COVID response

Australians going into remote Indigenous communities to fight the pandemic need to understand that many can’t read, an inquiry has been warned.

“How do Aboriginal people make an informed decision about whether to get the vaccination or not when they can’t read the literature?” said Jack Beetson, executive director of Literacy for Life.

“One thing that we’ve learnt is that Indigenous people aren’t going to take something on just because a bunch of white fellas tell them it’s a good thing to do,” said Liberal MP Terry Young who is part of an inquiry into adult literacy and also serves on federal parliament’s Indigenous affairs committee.

Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations chair Jane Halton said the vaccine flying squads need to work with Aboriginal medical services and Aboriginal people to make sure people turn up and get vaccinated.

You can read the story in The West Australian here.

Aboriginal woman learning to read. Image source: Literacy for Life Foundation.

Aboriginal woman learning to read. Image source: Literacy for Life Foundation.

 

TGA updates on COVID-19 vaccine and treatment

The AstraZeneca vaccine will now be called Vaxzevria after an application to rename it was approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA). The vaccine is known as Vaxzevria in Europe and Canada, so there were concerns if the name was different in Australia it could lead to other countries not recognising the vaccine on vaccine passports when international travel resumes.

In a statement, the TGA said it hoped the change in name would make sure there would be no confusion in the future.

You can read more about the name change on the ABC News website.

The TGA has also granted provisional approval for a new COVID-19 treatment for use in Australia. Australians with COVID-19 who are at risk of hospitalisation will now have access to an additional antibody treatment. The sotrovimab treatment requires a single dose to be administered through an intravenous infusion in a health care facility and has been shown to reduce hospitalisation or death by 79 per cent in adults with mild to moderate COVID-19, who are at risk of developing severe COVID-19.

You can read more about the treatment on the Department of Health website.

Vaxzevria is the name used for the AstraZeneca vaccine in Europe and Canada. Image source: ABC News website.

Vaxzevria is the name used for the AstraZeneca vaccine in Europe and Canada. Image source: ABC News website.

 

New process for job advertising

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

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


dice spelling JOBS resting on keyboard

 

Save the Date

Round 2 Applications for the 2022 training intake of the Remote Vocational Training Scheme

RVTS would like to encourage candidates to inquire now and be ready to apply for Round 2 Applications for the 2022 training intake of the Remote Vocational Training Scheme (RVTS).

Applications open on Monday 30 August to Sunday 12 September 2021.

Positions are available in both their AMS and Remote training streams.

In addition to the AMS stream MMM2-7 location eligibility, RVTS is also offering Targeted Recruitment Locations for 2022.

There are currently 5 Aboriginal Medical Services as approved Targeted Recruitment locations across NT, WA and VIC – you’ll find details of the Tennant Creek, Mutitjulu, Halls Creek & Kununurra, South Hedland, and Portland health services here.

For application information visit the RVTS website.

Dr Gary Wood - GP Training AMS Rural and Remote Communities.

Dr Gary Wood – GP Training AMS Rural and Remote Communities.