NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: International Nurses Day 2022

Image in feature tile is of registered nurse and midwife, Matthew Shields, Aboriginal Medical Service in Redfern. Photo: Isabella Moore. Image source: The Guardian.

International Nurses Day 2022

International Nurses Day is celebrated around the world every May 12, the anniversary of Florence Nightingale’s birth. The International Council of Nurses (ICN) commemorates this important day each year with the production and distribution of the International Nurses’ Day (IND) resources and evidence. The theme for the 2022 resource is Nurses: A Voice to Lead – Invest in Nursing and respect rights to secure global health. For more information about International Nurses Day click here.

This year the Congress of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Nurses and Midwives (CATSINaM), Australia’s peak advocacy body representing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander nurses and midwives is celebrating its 25th anniversary. As part of the celebrations CATSINaM is promoting a book In Our Own Right: Black Australian Nurses’ Stories edited by Sally Goold OAM and Kerrynne Liddle. The intimate, private, and heart wrenching stories told in this book, the first of its kind in Australia, will penetrate the hearts and souls of even the most hardened reader.

Told with incredible dignity and humility, each of the individual and deeply personal stories recounted is a powerful testimony to the gross inhumanity and brutal capacity of white people in Australia – colonists who selectively destroy and humiliate, without remorse, the lives and souls of their fellow black Australians. In Our Own Right: Black Australian Nurses’ Stories provides a powerful catalyst for questioning and calling into question the taken-for-granted humanity of us all. For more information about the book click here.

Major parties silent on First Nations housing

Overcrowding in remote Aboriginal communities is as bad as its ever been, but neither of the major parties has a nationwide strategy to solve it. At 66 years of age, Dulcie Nanala has lived virtually her entire life in the same house. There are mattresses sprawled through every room. Four generations of her family live here too, including her mother, who sleeps in the dining room. “My mother, my son and daughter and a partner, and two grandkids. Plus another son. Eight people.” she says.

Australia hasn’t had a national strategy to address overcrowding in remote Aboriginal communities since 2018, when the last one was discontinued by the Liberal government under Malcolm Turnbull. The overcrowding and maintenance issues in Dulcie’s house are a major concern for her. Most of the lights aren’t working and turning on the shower or flushing the toilet caused the house to flood. “When we have showers, it’s all filling up and then it comes out (through the hallway). I’ve got an old house from the seventies, nothing is done,” she says.

It’s a similar situation across Wirrimanu, also known as Balgo, a remote Aboriginal community on the edge of the Great Sandy Desert in WA’s East Kimberley Region. The Wirrimanu Aboriginal Corporation estimates the majority of houses are overcrowded and in urgent need of repairs. Making the situation worse, the community is going through an outbreak of COVID-19, with most of the 450 residents needing to isolate at home in recent weeks. “There was nowhere that they could isolate other than in those houses,” Aboriginal Health Council of Western Australia chairperson Vicki O’Donnell says. “You end up with spikes of strep A, rheumatic heart fever. You end up with spikes of skin infections, ear infections, because you’ve got overcrowded housing and the limited space that people can move around in.”

To view the SBS News story Why is no-one talking about Aboriginal community housing in this election? in full click here.

Dulcie Nanala at her home in Wirrimanu. Photo: Kearyn Cox, SBS. Image source: SBS News.

Fixing primary care – GPs have solutions

GPs have proven they are capable of implementing major national health initiatives, and politicians and policymakers need to start trusting them with programs that can deliver accessible, high quality care to all Australians over the next 5 years. Professor Claire Jackson, Director of the Centre for Health System Reform and Integration at the University of Queensland, and a practising GP, says three major issues are plaguing primary care currently, but, in conjunction with the recently announced National Primary Health Care 10 Year Plan, GPs were ready and able to solve those problems.

Professor Jackson, speaking in an exclusive podcast, said workforce problems, funding and access were “the three biggest issues we are confronting at the moment”. “It’s a lively time, particularly in general practice. COVID-19 made us reflect a lot on what is great and going well in general practice, and the obvious frailties in the system,” she said. “The general practice workforce is heading towards where we were in 2001, when we had eight-person practices down to three-person practices in rural areas, where the situation is absolutely dire. The issue that underpins that workforce problem is funding. It’s very difficult to deliver a high quality, comprehensive general practice service when you’re being funded [a Medicare rebate of] $38 for 19 minutes with a patient and there’s no other opportunity to bring in income very much.”

To read the InSight article How to fix primary care: trust, fund and reward GPs in full click here.

Image source: Medical Journal of Austalia.

CTG in health disparities – a place for Elders?

An Australian Health Review research article Closing the Gap in Aboriginal health disparities: is there a place for Elders in the neoliberal agenda? outlines the findings of a project examining how Elders consider the Closing the Gap (CTG) programs for improving community health outcomes, in light of concerns surrounding neoliberal government approaches to addressing Aboriginal disadvantage. Neoliberalism is a political approach that favours free-market capitalism, deregulation and a reduction in government spending.

The participatory action research project was undertaken in collaboration with Elders from a remote Aboriginal community in Tasmania. The Closing the Gap programs were seen by Elders as having instrumental value for addressing Aboriginal community disadvantage. However, the programs also represented a source of ongoing dependency that threatened to undermine the community’s autonomy, self-determination and cultural foundations. The findings emerged to represent Elders attempting to reconcile this tension by embedding the programs with cultural values or promoting culture separately from the programs. Ultimately, the Elders saw culture as the core business of community well-being and effective program delivery.

To view the research article in full click here.

Jason Thomas, Oyster Cove, Southern Tasmania. Image source: ABC News.

Calls for action on rural road toll

Researchers who analysed ten years of Australian road traffic deaths are calling for immediate reforms as the numbers reveal huge disparities among those killed on our roads. Hannah Mason is an Associate lecturer at James Cook University’s College of Public Health, Medical & Vet Sciences. She was the lead author of a study that examined all road deaths in Australia between 2006 and 2017. “Other studies have shown road traffic fatalities are five times higher for those living in very remote areas, compared to their urban counterparts. Our study examined the trends and risk factors contributing to the inequities in rural motor vehicle collision (MVC) fatalities,” said Miss Mason.

She said the researchers found MVC fatalities rise with increasing remoteness. “Females, children under 14 years, pedestrians, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are at a significantly higher risk of fatal collisions than their respective metropolitan counterparts. Road fatality rates in the NT, WA, and all rural and remote areas require immediate attention and targeted action,” said Miss Mason. “Risk was higher for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples than for non-Aboriginal peoples in outer regional, remote and very remote areas. The highest risk for males and females occurred in very remote areas,” said Miss Mason.

To view the James Cook University media release in full click here.

roadside memorial Great Northern Highway Kimberley

Roadside memorial on the Great Northern Highway; Photo: Lisa Herbert, ABC Kimberley.

Darwin Elder recognised with Honorary degree

A life of incredible contribution to community and overcoming the odds has seen respected Darwin Elder Richard Fejo presented with a coveted Honorary Doctorate by Flinders University. Uncle Richie, as he is known to many is a Larrakia man of direct male descent who has dedicated his life to cross-cultural education and improvement of outcomes for Aboriginal people.

“Uncle Richie plays a pivotal role in educating Northern Territory staff and students about culture and the importance of understanding and committing to holistic solutions for health in his role as an Elder on Campus” Chancellor Stephen Gerlach said. “Not only that, but he has been instrumental in advising and supporting the Poche SA+NT team in developing improved links and profile with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities to improve health outcomes. His substantial contributions to our knowledge and capacity as a University have enabled us to strengthen the linkages between the University and Aboriginal communities.”

You can rad the Flinders University media release in full here.

Darwin Elder Richard Fejo.

Gunditjmara Adult SEWB Program

The Gunditjmara Aboriginal Cooperative Adult Social and Emotional Wellbeing Program aims to provide holistic support for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the Warrnambool region of south west Victoria that are experiencing social, emotional, cultural and mental health challenges.

The program works to:

  • support Aboriginal adults to be strong and stay strong
  • raise community awareness about the importance of being healthy in mind, body, spirit and connecting with Aboriginal culture
  • provide support in line with the culturally informed Aboriginal and Islander Mental Health Initiative (AIMHi) Stay Strong app
  • support individuals to identify and build on their strengths and reduce their worries
  • encourage clients to develop a strong sense of cultural identity and cultural connection as a way to facilitate healing and growth.

You can access a brochure on the Gunditjmara Family and Community Services Adult Social & Emotional Wellbeing (SEWB) program here.

Tanya Geier, Aboriginal Health Practitioner, Gunditjmara Aboriginal Corporation.

New process for job advertising

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Congress concerned about end of APAs

Image in feature tile from ABC News website.

Congress concerned about end of APAs

In a media release today Central Australian Aboriginal Congress (Congress) added its voice to a growing chorus of concerns about the forthcoming end to Alcohol Protected Areas (APAs). As it stands, the sunset clause in s118 of the Australian Government’s Stronger Futures in the Northern Territory Act 2012 will take effect on 16 July 2022. At a stroke, many NT communities, town camps and Community Living Areas will lose their legal protection from alcohol abuse.

The ‘rivers of grog’ will once again flow through our communities. The effects on the broader community through increased crime, antisocial behaviour and violence will be of great concern. “Since the NT Government’s alcohol reforms of 2018, we have made really good progress on reducing alcohol-related harm in Alice Springs, and the introduction of the full-time Police Auxiliary Liquor Inspectors (PALIs) at bottle shops has been a big part of this,” said Donna Ah Chee, Chief Executive Officer of Congress.

To view the Congress media release What everyone knows about Alice – the Alcohol Protected Areas and PALIs really work! in full click here.

Image source: ABC News website.

Mala’la Community Wellness Program awarded

The Mala’la Community Wellbeing Program are the winners of the Excellence in Indigenous AOD Programs Award at the recent 2022 Association of Alcohol and other Drug Agencies Northern Territory (AADANT) NT AOD awards night in Darwin. This Australian Indigenous Health InfoNet sponsored award is presented to a non-government organisation in the NT with an alcohol and other drug (AOD) program specifically for Indigenous Australians.

Mala’la successfully combines culturally safe and secure AOD interventions with individual psychotherapy, family therapy, wellness education and advocacy. It encourages reconnection with family and community, re-engagement with education and employment and participation in traditional ceremonies and other forms of culturally appropriate meaningful activity as part of the recovery journey.

Maddy Mackey accepted the award on behalf of the Mala’la Community Wellbeing Program. You can read more about Mala’la Community Wellness Program here and access the Mala’la Health Service Aboriginal Corporation website click here.

Felicity Douglas, Manager of Mala’la Community Wellness Support Service and participants of the Youth Dance Program. Images from Mala’la Health Service website.

Rapid antigen tests (RAT) information kit

Rapid antigen tests (RATs) are a quick way to check if you have COVID-19 without needing to go to a clinic. There are 3 different types of RATs. These include RATs you can do from your nose, RATs you can do with your spit and RATs that you suck like a lollipop. The Australian Department of Health has developed a RAT information kit of communication materials for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. The information pack contains resources which explain what RATs are, where to get them and how to use each type of RAT. Within the information pack are:

Fact sheets:

A social tile:

Videos:

You can access a summary of the RAT information kit here.

Mob encouraged to get protected for winter

As the country heads into winter, a new campaign is encouraging First Nations people to check in with their doctors to discuss COVID-19 boosters, vaccines for kids and the flu shot. SE NSW primary health network COORDINARE has partnered with local CCHOs for the digital campaign titled #fabvac. “This campaign highlights how vaccines make a difference, even for people who’ve had COVID,” COORDINARE’s Aboriginal Health Service development and performance manager Nathan Deaves said. “The videos are made by local young Aboriginal people who recently yarned with local Aboriginal community members and health workers about their experiences of COVID and attitudes to vaccines.”

One of the videos features Uncle Ken, a community member from Bermagui, who said 13 family members ended up catching the virus. “It is just as well we had the double jab in the first place, only the two out of the 13 went to hospital, but just overnight and they came back home,” he said. “It was scary at the time, we didn’t know if they were going to come back or not. We all said to ourselves we’ve got to get the jab whether we like it or not. “We’re all going to get COVID, but we won’t get it as bad so that’s what happened – no one got it as bad.”

Mr Deaves said the key message with the #fabvac campaign was that community members needed to keep up to date with their COVID vaccines because their immunity to current and future variants of the virus does reduce over time. Respiratory illnesses spread more in winter because we all spend more time indoors, so getting the flu shot is also important, he said.

You can watch a a short video about getting the COVID-19 vaccine below.

Top 3 questions – Flu season

In the video below Dr Lucas De Toca, COVID-19 Primary Care Response First Assistant Secretary, Australian Government Department of Health answers the Top Three questions across their channels about the flu:

  1. Why are we especially vulnerable to flu this year?
  2. What can we do to protect ourselves against a bad flu season?
  3. I’ve heard of plenty of people who have been immunised with the flu shot and still get the flu! What’s the point?

You can access the Australian Government Department of Health Top 3 questions – Flu season webpage here.

First youth contact with health system critical

The first contact a young person has with a health professional about a problem with their mental health can be critical in helping them to engage with treatment and recovery. the NPS MedicineWise webpage How can GPs help young people engage with treatment for mental health issues? lists the following key points:

  • Mental health problems in young people are extremely common. More than 50% of young people will experience some form of mental ill health by the age of 25.
  • Early intervention with effective support and treatment is essential to reduce potential chronicity of mental illnesses. 75% of adult mental health disorders have their onset before the age of 25.
  • Personal connections between the young person, their supports and the health professional, a focus on the person’s needs rather than their diagnosis, and shared goals are essential for good engagement.
  • Regular, scheduled follow-up sessions can be very helpful as they demonstrate to the young person that you are invested in their wellbeing.
  • Evidence-based treatments are available, but not equally readily accessible for young people. Work with the young person to determine most suitable treatments based on their needs and preferences and to optimise meaningful engagement.

To access the relevant NPS MedicineWise webpage click here.

Image source: Amnesty International Australia.

Kidney Health Australia professional webinar

Kidney Health Australia are hosting a health professional webinar Chronic Kidney Disease, Diabetes and Cardiovascular Disease: The clinical importance to make the link from 7.30PM–8.30PM AEST Thursday 19 May 2022.

The guest Nephrologist speaker on this webinar, Dr Veena Roberts, will explore the evidence in making the link between chronic kidney disease, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease, and the clinical importance of these three conditions.

This is a RACGP accredited activity for 2 CPD points. Activity # 332307.

To register for this webinar click here. Upon successful registration you will receive a confirmation email from Zoom.

New funds for Hep C awareness campaigns

The Eliminate hepatitis C Australia Partnership (EC Australia), created in 2018 to bring together researchers, implementation scientists, government, health services and community organisations to ensure the whole of Australia sustains high numbers of people accessing hepatitis C treatment, has welcomed the provision of $1.25 million in funding from the Australian Government Department of Health.

The funding will support three different awareness campaigns as part of a broader partnership, the National Hepatitis C 50,000 Project, which aims to scale up testing and treatment. The funds will boost paid advertising for the It’s Your Right campaign and will also support the codesign of Aboriginal specific artwork for the rollout. EC Australia will also work in partnership with NACCHO to design and implement a hepatitis treatment campaign for ACCHOs.

The 50,000 Project is an innovative national partnership project to scale up testing and treatment to find 50,000 people living with hepatitis C by the end of 2022. In doing so, the 50,000 Project will be central in Australia achieving the 2022 national hepatitis C targets for testing and treatment.

To view The National Tribune article New funding for hepatitis campaigns click 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.

FASD Forum 2022

The inaugural FASD Forum ’22 Conference aims to provide an opportunity for everyone interested in Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) to hear from research-leading and lived-experience experts. The conference theme is FASD@50 reflecting that it is 50 years since FASD was first identified in medical literature in the English-speaking world.

Presentations over the two-day conference will cover themes related to:

  • behaviour support
  • behaviours of concern
  • transitions in education and employment
  • parent/carer support and self-care (including an expert parent panel)
  • mental health
  • sexualised behaviour
  • justice.

Presentations will combine lived experience perspectives with professional knowledge and current research topics. They will also enable opportunities for information sharing to deepen understanding. Practical strategies and interventions to assist those living with FASD and their families will be a key focus.

The opening keynote address will be presented by world-renowned paediatrician and researcher, Professor Kenneth Lyons Jones MD (University of California, San Diego), who, together with Dr David Smith, was the first to identify FASD in their research fifty years ago.

To register your interest in the conference, contact NOFASD here.

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Labor releases Indigenous health policy

Labor releases Indigenous health policy

Labor have issued a media release outlining the focus of their Indigenous health policy. An Albanese Labor Government will train 500 additional First Nations Health Workers and invest in life-saving dialysis and rheumatic heart disease treatments to help close the gap in First Nations health outcomes.

Aboriginal community-controlled health services worked tirelessly to keep First Nations communities safe during the pandemic. Their workforce has been stretched to its limits and vital programs such as chronic disease prevention and First Nations health checks have had to be scaled back.

Labor will work in partnership with community-controlled and other health services to strengthen the sector and improve health outcomes for First Nations people by:

  • Training 500 First Nations Health Workers – building the First Nations health workforce, creating jobs and revitalising community-controlled health services after the pandemic.
  • Delivering up to 30 new dialysis units – so people living in the city and the bush can access lifesaving treatment for chronic kidney disease.
  • Doubling federal funding to combat Rheumatic Heart Disease – so that fewer people miss out on lifesaving screening, treatment and prevention programs in high-risk communities.

To view the Labor media release Labor will Strengthen First Nations Health in full click here.

Bibbulmun woman Corina Abraham-Howard from Perth receives dialysis at the Purple House in Alice Springs. Photograph: Photo: Mike Bowers. Image source: The Guardian.

Calls for healthcare language boost

A NT collective responsible for aiding Yothu Yindi member Witiyana Marika manage a serious illness say appropriate health messaging could halve medical conditions in Aboriginal communities. Mr Marika recently underwent a second operation to treat his rheumatic heart disease thanks to education provided by Why Warriors co-founder Richard Trudgen.

For years Mr Marika lived with his condition without properly understanding it as language used by doctors was difficult to comprehend. Mr Trudgen said this has been a failure of the system for some time. Why Warriors aim to provide First Nations people with radio and on-demand content presented in language for this purpose.

In cases like Mr Marika’s, messaging form Western and Aboriginal medical services are not adjusted for patients who use English as a second language, if at all. Mr Trudgen said simplifying the information does little more than restrict people from the important details. “They want evidential information that shows the cause and effect right down to a biomedical level.” Why Warriors hope to secure funding to stretch their processes to First Nations communities around the country.

To view the ABC News article Yothu Yindi legend undergoes operation amid calls for healthcare language boost in full click here.

Founding Yothu Yindi member Witiyana Marika

Founding Yothu Yindi member Witiyana Marika. . Image source: NT News.

Why Western therapy is not the answer

Portia Walker-Fernando was 16 when she first saw a counsellor, overwhelmed by anger and distress that her brother was being bullied at school because he was Indigenous. “The racism was fairly frequent,” says Walker-Fernando, a Bundjalung woman, from the Northern Rivers of NSW, who, at 24, still carries anxiety and depression.

“As a 16-year-old who was trying to understand why, it really, really hurt. Being Indigenous and being black is something you can’t change.”

Walker-Fernando says intergenerational trauma and racism have contributed to her mental health issues, with her anxiety spiking every year about January 26. “Looking at our history and our story, there’s so much trauma embedded in that. I have a panic attack pretty much every Survival Day – or Australia Day – because of that really strong impact that it has on me,” she says. “No one’s been given the life tools to be able to heal from these traumas, so we’re still carrying them today.”

Half the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who experience racial discrimination report feelings of psychological distress, according to a Victorian study by the Lowitja Institute, meaning they are vulnerable to developing anxiety and depression.

To view The Age article ‘I have a panic attack every Survival Day’: Why Western therapy wasn’t the answer for Portia in full click here.

Portia Walker-Fernando from Casino pictured with her children. Photo: Natalie Grono. Image source: The Age.

Broncos support IUIH’s Deadly Choices

The Brisbane Broncos will continue to encourage Queensland’s Indigenous youth to get active and healthy, as part of its ongoing support of the Institute for Urban Indigenous Health’s (IUIH) Deadly Choices preventative health program.

By prioritising healthy eating, exercise, the avoidance of tobacco and alcohol use, and ensuring individuals continue to complete an annual health check, the Club hopes to unearth and foster future talent of the calibre of current players, Selwyn Cobbo and Kotoni Staggs.

Cobbo, a proud Wakka Wakka man from Cherbourg was today joined by the Burnett’s original Broncos flyer, current and fellow Deadly Choices Ambassador, Steve Renouf to unveil a new suite of health check shirts, used as incentives to encourage local communities to visit the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community Health Service (ATSICHS) Brisbane for an annual check-up.

Broncos CEO Dave Donaghy said: “Deadly Choices is an outstanding program making a real difference and we are proud of our partnership with the IUIH that now extends beyond a decade.

To view the Broncos promote ‘Deadly’ Communities media release in full click here.

Selwyn Cobbo. Image source: Broncos website.

NT AHW Excellence Awards noms open

The NT’s best and brightest Health Workers and Practitioner’s have the chance for their efforts and work to be recognised, with nominations opening for the 2022 Northern Territory Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Worker and Practitioner Excellence Awards.

The awards are held annually to recognise and acknowledge the significant contribution Aboriginal health workers and practitioners make to their families, communities and the healthcare system across the Northern Territory. These awards acknowledge the outstanding contribution made by our highly valued Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workers and Practitioners workforces within the previous 12 months.

Nominations are open from Tuesday 26 April 2022 to Sunday 19 June 2022. To submit a nomination, visit the awards webpage Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Worker and Practitioner Excellence Awards – Department of Health here, or contact Aboriginal Workforce Development
using this email link or ring (08) 89227 278.

To view the NT Government Health Minister Natasha Fyles’ media release in full click here.

Aboriginal health workers, Sherryl King and Keinan Keighran, from Wurli-Wurlinjang Aboriginal Health Service were recognised for their work at the 2021 NT Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Worker and Practitioner Excellence Awards. Photo: Charlie Bliss. Image source: Katherine Times.

Swapping the screen for nature

Model and actor Magnolia Maymuru is careful about how she spends her time. When not in the make-up chair, she retreats into nature – a habit she wishes the rest of the world would adopt, too.

Modern science may have only recently uncovered the link between exposure to nature and increased wellbeing, but Indigenous Australians such as Magnolia Maymuru have been aware of it for thousands of years. “Up here, we have connections to everything around us, from the ground to the sky,” the model and actor said.

Born in Darwin, Maymuru belongs to the Yolngu people – a group of Aboriginal clans from north-east Arnhem Land – who believe that they don’t only come from the land, they are the land, too. “We’re born into our connection [with the outdoors],” she explains. “Every time I come back from the city and hear the waves crash, it just does something to me.”

To view the Body + Soul article Magnolia Maymuru on swapping screen time for real connections with nature in full click here.

Magnolia Maymuru. Photo: Body+Soul. Image source: BodyAndSoul.

Barriers to physical activity for mob

Physical activity has cultural significance and population health benefits. However, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults may experience challenges in participating in physical activity. A review that aims to synthetize existing evidence on facilitators and barriers for physical activity participation experienced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults in Australia has been undertaken.

The review identified 63 barriers: 21 individual, 17 interpersonal, 15 community/environmental and 10 policy/program barriers. Prominent facilitators included support from family, friends, and program staff, and opportunities to connect with community or culture. Prominent barriers included a lack of transport, financial constraints, lack of time, and competing work, family or cultural commitments. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults experience multiple facilitators and barriers to physical activity participation. Strategies to increase participation should seek to enhance facilitators and address barriers, collaboratively with communities, with consideration to the local context.

To view the Facilitators and Barriers to Physical Activity and Sport Participation Experienced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Adults: A Mixed Method Review in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health in full click here.

Photo: IUIH. Image source: Exercise Right 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.

World Immunisation Week

World Immunisation Week, celebrated in the last week of April, aims to highlight the collective action needed and to promote the use of vaccines to protect people of all ages against disease.

The World Health Organisation works with countries across the globe to raise awareness of the value of vaccines and immunisation and ensures that governments obtain the necessary guidance and technical support to implement high quality immunisation programmes.

The ultimate goal of World Immunization Week is for more people – and their communities – to be protected from vaccine-preventable diseases.

In a related article parents and carers are being reminded of the importance of getting their children vaccinated against COVID-19 in a new information video from the Department of Health.

The video features GP and Senior Doctor at Wirraka Maya Health Service Aboriginal Corporation (HSAC), Dr Aleeta Fejo who answers important questions about children and the COVID-19 vaccines.

Dr Fejo, a Larrakia and Warumungu traditional owner and Elder, said fake stories and misinformation about COVID-19 vaccines were unfortunately very common, especially on social media.

She said it was natural for parents to have questions about giving their kids the jab. “COVID-19 is a serious illness that can affect everyone—including children,” Dr Fejo said. “Vaccines can help stop your child becoming very sick, or even dying, if they catch the virus,” she said.

You can view a three-minute video featuring Dr Fejo below.

Also related is a advice from AMA NSW: with shorter days and cooler temperatures, NSW residents are urged to talk to their GP about getting their flu jab. “Flu season usually occurs from June to September in Australia, and we urge patients to time their vaccination to achieve the highest level of protection during the peak of the season,” said AMA (NSW) President, Dr Danielle McMullen.

“Your GP can provide you with advice on when to get your flu shot. Patients should also know that influenza vaccination is recommended for everyone aged six months and over and is free for patients most at risk. “This includes adults over 65 years and over, children under five, pregnant women, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and people with certain medical conditions.”

To view the AMA NSW media release Flu season around the corner – time to plan click here.

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Birthing on Country services empower women

Image in feature tile is of South Coast Women’s Health and Welfare Corporation Waminda midwife Melanie Briggs sourced from the South Coast Register.

Birthing on Country services empower women

Many Australian women rely on and trust maternity services to see them through pregnancy, labour and the early stages of new parenting. But for First Nations women, these same services can be confronting and can result in poor outcomes. Many women must travel far from family and community to birth. And if they do, they often feel misunderstood and judged by mainstream health services.

There is another way. Birthing on Country means First Nations women give birth on their ancestral country. It acknowledges First Nation peoples’ continued ownership of land and unique birthing practices. Birthing on Country services centre First Nations values, and are designed to meet First Nations people’s social, emotional, cultural and health needs. The services are embedded within larger health service networks.

The Molly Wardaguga Research Centre team works in partnership with First Nations communities to deliver Birthing on Country maternity services that address health inequities. In one urban setting there was a profound reduction in preterm birth and increased antenatal attendance and breastfeeding. This was achieved through integrating within a wraparound system of care, designed as a one-stop-shop in an Aboriginal community controlled setting.

It also involved redesigning the service using a successful blueprint that prioritises investing in the workforce, strengthening families’ capabilities, and embedding First Nations governance and control in all aspects of maternity service planning and delivery. However, Birthing on Country services are yet to be trialled in regional and remote Australia. So there is much work to do to ensure all First Nations women can access these services.

To view The Conversation article in full click here. You can also view a trailer of a documentary (mentioned in the article) filmed in remote Arnhem Land, following two women who hope to reclaim 60,000 years of birthing culture from the stronghold of Western medicine, by working with community to pilot the training of djäkamirr- the caretakers of pregnancy and birth, below.

Cultural safety and humility program

The values and beliefs of those who provide healthcare to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities is a central area of study in Congress of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Nurses and Midwives (CATSINaM) ground-breaking Murra Mullangari program. The first Indigenous-developed Cultural Safety program for nursing and midwifery to also include Cultural Humility has been a very long journey, according to CATSINaM CEO Professor Roianne West, who said Elders and ancestors had for five decades been calling for education that took into account colonial power structures.

“It’s the very first time a program like this has been done outside of the university sector and a program that really sets the standard for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and Cultural Safety education. It adds the additional dimension that’s unique to CATSINaM, and that the aspect of Cultural Humility,” Professor West said. Murra Mullangari means “the pathway to wellbeing” and is a term gifted to CATSINaM by Aunty Dr Matilda Williams-House, a Ngambri-Ngunnawal Elder and CATSINaM Matriarch.

Clinically safe practice in nursing and midwifery is not possible without cultural safe practice Professor West said during the webinar (see below) to launch Murra Mullangari: Introduction to Cultural Safety and Cultural Humility e-learning program. You can read the full Croakey Health Media article here.

iSISTAQUIT supports pregnant women

Indigenous people experience a disproportionate burden of disease due to high tobacco smoking rates, a legacy of colonisation and government sanctioned policies where rations of tobacco were widely distributed to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. In pregnancy, 44% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women smoke, compared to 12% of non-Indigenous mothers. Although Indigenous women are motivated to quit smoking to protect their unborn child, they typically receive inadequate health provider support to quit.

iSISTAQUIT provides wrap-around support for pregnant Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women who are wanting to quit smoking. It involves a model of care designed with culturally appropriate and national best practice training informed from previous studies. iSISTAQUIT provides free, online training for health providers in smoking cessation methods and educational resources for pregnant women. Having culturally thought out approaches with assisting women to quit smoking through a pathway of support, helps Indigenous women navigate health and wellbeing systems safely. Building on the research their team has been undertaking over the last seven years, the project is now leading a nationwide scale up of iSISTAQUIT. The ISISTAQUIT team is a multi-disciplinary team of doctors, researchers, communicators, community engagement specialists and students. Quitting smoking is a process that is hard to do alone. Getting support and help from different places can increase a person’s changes to become smoke-free.

To read the full Croakey Health Media article click here and access the iSISTAQUIT website here.

tile image of 2 Aboriginal mums & babies, text 'iSISTAQUIT'

Image source: iSISTAQUIT website.

First Nations Youth and Justice System

Transforming Indigenous Mental Health and Wellbeing (TIMHWB) have produced a Fact Sheet: First Nations Youth and the Justice System, an executive summary of the article ‘First Nations peoples and the law’ by Milroy and colleagues 2021. The headings in the fact sheet include: Historical and Contemporary Context; The Australian Context; and Ways Forward. The Fact Sheet highlights three quotes from the Milroy article:

  • “We suggest that young people ending up in the criminal justice system represents a failure of other systems to properly identify and provide support and effective interventions across development.”
  • “We are imprisoning traumatised, developmentally compromised, and disadvantaged young people, where imprisonment itself adds to the re-traumatisation and complexity of supporting rehabilitation and recovery.”
  • “Ideally, the way forward would include prevention, early intervention and comprehensive clinical and community intervention should a child or young person encounter the youth justice system.”

To download the Fact Sheet click here.

Non-GP Specialist Trainee Support Program

The Australian Indigenous Doctors’ Association (AIDA) has secured funding to implement a unique and comprehensive program. the Non-GP Specialist Trainee Support Program (AIDA STSP) to support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander non-GP specialist trainees.

“The STSP will be the first Indigenous-led initiative established to provide peer and collegiate support to non-GP doctors in training, with the goal to increasing numbers into training programs and supporting them through the program so that we see high success rates of graduation.” – Ms Monica Barolits-McCabe, CEO AIDA.

Interviews can be arranged upon request. Please contact the communications team via email on here or call Wendy Wakwella on 0426 169 109. To streamline the interview process, we ask that you please complete the interview request e-form available here, prior to contacting the communications team.

To read the AIDA’s media release in full click here.

Kiara Peacock is a trainee Aboriginal Health Worker in Darwin. Photo: Emilia Terzon, ABC News.

AMA wants tax on sugary soft drinks

The AMA says with polling consistently highlighting health is a top concern for voters, next week’s Federal Budget is the last chance for Government to demonstrate it is serious about addressing the health system’s significant strains and logjams. As part of Australia’s prevention agenda, the AMA is calling for tax on sugary soft drinks to help tackle obesity and other preventable chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and some cancers.

In comments made in 2018, on the priorities for inclusion in the 2018-2023 Implementation Plan for the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan AMSANT said a tax on sugar has been shown to be effective in reducing consumption and is projected to lead to the biggest health gains, particularly for people on the lowest incomes. Similarly NACCHO proposed in its 2021–22 Pre-Budget Submission that the Commonwealth introduce a 20% tax on sugar-sweetened beverages, with the revenue accrued redirected back into a subsidy on fresh fruit and vegetables back into communities where the impact is greatest.

You can view the AMA’s media release in full here.

Image source: The Guardian.

LGBTQA+ mental health and wellbeing project

Walkern Katatdjin is a national research project that aims to understand and promote the mental health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer/Questioning, Asexual + young people, and to work with services to develop appropriate interventions. There is very little locally-specific information and guidance available for services that work with young people on how best to support someone who is both Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander and identifies as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, or Asexual (LGBTQA+). This means that young people (14-25 years) who are Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and LGBTQA+ may not receive the same level of social support and health care as other members of the community.

Young people who are Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and LGBTQA+ may be at increased risk of poor social emotional wellbeing and increased mental health difficulties, but there is very little research currently. This is an opportunity for researchers to talk to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and LGBTQA+ young people to: understand their mental health needs and social emotional wellbeing, and work with local health services to develop interventions that Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander and LGBTQA+ young people say will support them.

You can take part in the National Survey of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander LGBTQA+ young people’s mental health and social emotional wellbeing if you are: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander; LGBTQA+ (you don’t have to be ‘out’); and 14 – 25 years old.

You can read the Participant Study Information Letter here and some of the important information here. You can access the Walkern Katatdjin Rainbow Knowledge website here which includes a link to the survey.

cartoon image of Aboriginal woman midriff top, trans Aboriginal man & Aboriginal woman holding hands of each other, Aboriginal man with gay pride flag, text 'Walkern Katatdjin Rainbow Knowledge' & chalk like lines red, yellow, white, green, dark blue/purple

Artwork by Shakyrrah Beck. Image source: Walkern Katatdjin Rainbow Knowledge 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.

Australasian Viral Hepatitis Conference

The Australasian Viral Hepatitis face-to-face Conference from Sunday 29 ­– Tuesday 31 May 2022 will be a forum with the aim of supporting the health workforce, government and community to work towards the elimination of hepatitis B and hepatitis C and support the communities living with these conditions in Australia, NZ and the Asia and Pacific regions.

To access further information about the conference, to register and submit a late submission click here.

Late Breaker Abstract Submission Deadline: Monday 27 March 2022

Early Bird Registration Deadline: Monday 27 March 2022

Accommodation Deadline: 10 April 2022

Standard Registration Deadline: 1 May 2022

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Cost of living hikes a health danger

feature tile text 'cost of living hikes dangerous for ATSI health' & Aboriginal hands holding shopping trolley

Image in feature tile from Adult Learning Australia website Food in remote Australia is expensive section.

Cost of living hikes a health danger

The cost of basic household items has reached new heights in regional centres but also Aboriginal communities. In yesterday’s episode of ABC radio’s The World Today with Sally Sara experts Diane Temple, Mamu woman, Queensland, June Riemer, Gumbaynggirr woman and deputy CEO, First Peoples Disability Network and Dr Joy Linton, GP, Gurriny Yealamucka Health Services Aboriginal Corporation, Yarrabah discuss how the cost of living hikes are dangerous for Indigenous health. Health experts are worried the lack of access to fresh fruit and vegetables will cause serious health issues.

You can listen to the radio segment here and a related story Doctors fear impacts of more expensive fruit and veg, featuring Dr Kean-Seng Lin, GP in Mt Druitt, western Sydney and Professor Sharon Friel, Australian National University also on The World Today here.

screenshot of The World Today ABC logo tile

Dietitians Australia say Improving food security for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples living in remote, regional and urban parts of Australia is essential to achieving health equity. “Food security is a fundamental human right,” said Board Director of Dietitians Australia and Gamilaroi woman, Tracy Hardy. “The 2021 Close the Gap Report stated that we need strategies to manage food security in response to the rising cost of food, and the impact of climate change on food availability.” You can view the Dietitians Australian media release here.

Remote community stores across Australia are receiving $8 million to strengthen the supply of essential goods, groceries and other critical supplies. Minister for Indigenous Australians, the Hon Ken Wyatt MP, said the funding will provide 43 stores with the resources they need to improve their supply chains, storage and delivery of products in their communities. “In the 2021–22 Budget we committed $5 million to invest in remote stores to improve food security and strengthen supply chains,” Minister Wyatt said. “Since then, we’ve seen an increased need for reliable food security in remote communities, and we’re responding with increased support. “We’re now investing $8 million to directly support remote stores to fund infrastructure upgrades, cool and dry storage expansion, green energy systems and training for staff and management.”

To view the Minister Wyatt’s Securing Essential Supplies for Remote Australia media release click here.

Gina Lyons, Irrunytju WA cooking with frypan

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

Purple House making families well on Country

Western Desert Nganampa Walytja Palyantjaku Tjutaku Aboriginal Corporation is the official name for what is now more commonly known as the Purple House. The Purple House is an organisation dedicated to getting First Nations Peoples from remote communities back home on Country through the delivery of renal services. Its conception, design and delivery are based firmly in the values of Yanangu. It remains entirely Indigenous-owned and run, with an all-Yanangu Board of Directors who are elected by its members.

A translation of the Purple House’s official title means ‘making all our families well’. This is also the vision statement for the organisation. Since its beginnings in 2000, Purple House has concentrated on addressing the epidemic of renal disease inflicting remote First Nations communities. It has done this effectively and successfully, vastly improving the quality of life and life expectancy of renal patients. It is now possible to say that, in this space, the Purple House has not only closed the gap but has opened a gap on the national average.

The Purple House now operates 19 permanent remote dialysis clinics and two mobile units called Purple Trucks. The success of the model has led to an expansion of services, which now include aged care, disability, primary health and social support. However, there remains a constant call from other remote communities to support their needs as well.

To view the RAHC Partyline article in full click here.

Purple House van

The Purple Truck. Image source: RAHC Partyline website.

The disease of racism

Veteran Queensland health professional, Bindal Elder Gracelyn Smallwood and Aboriginal businessman and human rights campaigner Dr Stephen Hagan have filed complaints with the Australian Human Rights Commission alleging they were recently racially discriminated against at a Townsville service station. Professor Smallwood told CAAMA Radio it was not unusual in Townsville and that nothing surprised her about the alleged incident. Following a phone call from Ms Smallwood, Dr Hagan drove to the same service station to fill up his car as a “test” – but says he too was also discriminated against by the same attendant because he was Aboriginal. Professor Smallwood says despite being stereotyped for decades because of her stand against racism the only way attitudes are going to change is by suing the perpetrators. You can listen to the interview in full here.

A related article looks at a study exploring the relationships between experiences of perceived racism, mental health and drug and alcohol use among Aboriginal Australians. The current research indicates that racism is still frequently experienced by Aboriginal Australians and is directly associated with poorer mental health, and indirectly with substance use through poorer mental health. The findings demonstrate a clear need for further research in this area. To view the Examining the Associations Between Experiences of Perceived Racism and Drug sand Alcohol Use in Aboriginal Australians article in full click here.

Annual overview of First Nations health

Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet has just released its annual authoritative online publication The Overview of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health status 2021. There is a featured section on the Coronavirus disease and its impact on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and their communities. During the pandemic, health authorities have reinforced that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are at greater risk but have praised the response of ACCHOs in delivering strong evidence based and culturally responsive prevention initiatives.

The release of the key findings from the Australian Burden of Disease Study 2018 for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people provides promising news for specific diseases. There was a decline in total burden for coronary heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke, rheumatoid arthritis, hearing loss and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

Improvements in birth and pregnancy outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mothers and babies continue, with evidence of an increase in the proportion of mothers attending antenatal care in the first trimester (increased from 49% in 2012 to 67% in 2019), a decrease in the rate of mothers smoking during pregnancy, and a slight decrease in the proportion of babies born small for gestational age. The national target for childhood immunisation has been met for 5 year olds with 97% coverage.

Of all specific causes of death, ischaemic heart disease was  the leading cause of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander deaths in NSW, Qld, WA, SA and the NT combined in 2020.  Injury was the leading cause of hospitalisation in 2019–20 (excluding dialysis).

HealthInfoNet Director, Professor Neil Drew, said ‘Our annual authoritative Overview is a comprehensive evidenced based resource for those working in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health sector. The overall data shows it is critical to also address environmental health factors  – such as housing and hygiene – that underpin the spread of many infectious diseases.”

As part of the HealthInfoNet’s commitment to knowledge exchange, a plain language infographic Summary version of the Overview’s key topics has been produced here with PowerPoint slides of the key points.

An ‘increasingly angry black woman’

In an article for the Canberra City News Winnunga CEO Julie Tongs refers to a feature in The Guardian written by South African writer, activist and political analyst Sisonke Msimang. Msimang says “while I have been full of admiration, each time Tame has earned the spotlight, I have imagined the response if I had behaved that way, or if any number of black and Indigenous women in the public domain had dared to do the same. I am yet to see black women’s anger greeted with the same kind of public solidarity or sympathy. And yet black women have been expressing anger for years as they address racist police and education systems, as they try to create opportunities for themselves and face the double burden of sexism and racism.”

Julie Tongs agrees with Msimang, saying “I will mention just two of the many issues that I, an increasingly angry black woman, have raised loudly, publicly and repeatedly over a number of years. However, the depth of the silence with which my entreaties for the scandalous treatment of Aboriginal women and children in Canberra to be addressed can, in my opinion, be best explained by reference to the fact that these issues are being raised and agitated by a black woman on behalf of other black women and their children. Frankly, what other explanation can there be?”

“Despite the lengths I have gone to, I have not generated any meaningful response from the ACT government or more than a scintilla of interest, concern or serious response from local media including the ABC, the Canberra community or the sisterhood. Those two issues are the rates of incarceration of black women and the number of Aboriginal children subject to care and protection orders in Canberra, the national capital and alleged haven of progressivity.”

To view the City News article in full click here.

Winnunga CEO Julie Tongs

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

Consent education needs Blak voices

The Teach Us Consent movement – founded by Chanel Contos in 2021 – has gained bipartisan political support to mandate consent education in Australian schools from 2023. The movement was rapidly successful after collecting over 6,600 stories of people who had experienced sexual assault by someone when they were at school. This was followed quickly by the federal government committing $189 million over five years to strengthen prevention and early intervention efforts in family, domestic and sexual violence.

Issues of sexual violence and consent are gaining momentum at a national level., yet, within these important discussions, the voices, experiences and needs of First Nations people are not widely represented or heard. Drawing on the current momentum and interest in consent education, there is an opportunity to fund place-based, culturally appropriate and co-designed consent education with First Nations young people.

The response to sexual violence must move beyond simply adding “dot paintings” to mainstream curricula to address the conditions that make sexual violence an issue for many. To have a real impact on young people and our communities, we need to be telling the whole story of women, gender and sexual violence in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’s lives against the backdrop of colonisation.

To view The Conversation Consent education needs Blak voices for the safety and well-being of young First Nations people article in full click here.
Aboriginal teacher, two young boys with raised hands

Image source: The Conversation.

Urban health professionals in remote communities

Since 2008, the Commonwealth-funded Remote Area Health Corps (RAHC) has been supporting urban-based health professionals wanting to work in remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities in the NT. In that time, more than 1,700 registered nurses, GPs, dentists, dental therapists, dental assistants, audiologists and allied health professionals have taken up over 7,000 placements throughout the Territory.

RAHC’s main priority for 2022 is to assist in reducing health disadvantage among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, addressing the Close the Gap strategy. More than a recruitment agency, RAHC provides cultural orientation and ongoing clinical support to healthcare professionals going out on placement. “Developing rapport with a community provides an experience that encourages health professionals to stay with us long-term,” says Clinical Manager Emma Thomas.

Acting National Manager Tess McGuigan adds, ‘We help improve the health and wellbeing of those living in rural, regional and remote areas of the NT with regular professional development, both online and through personal consultations with a clinical coordinator and cultural development adviser. It builds knowledge and confidence so our team can deliver high-quality health care tailored to the unique needs of that community.’

To view the RAHC Partyline article in full click here.

A RAHC health professional driving to Imanpa, a remote community in the NT. Photo courtesy of RAHC and Dr Richard Davey. Photo courtesy of Richard Davey. Image source: NRHA Partyline online magazine.

Increasing tick-borne dog disease awareness

An NT campaign to increase awareness in remote communities of a serious tickborne disease has been given a $150,000 boost by the Australian Government. Minister for Agriculture and Northern Australia David Littleproud said the disease ehrlichiosis is caused by the tick-borne bacteria Ehrlichia canis and is carried by the brown dog tick, which is present across northern Australia. “The number of infections in dogs is continuing to increase in northern Australia’s vulnerable Indigenous communities, with prevalence rates of up to 100% in some places,” Minister Littleproud said.

“This disease is relatively new to Australia, having first been detected in WA in May 2020. It was then confirmed in the NT and SA within a year. Dog mortality rates range from 10–30%. However, the disease can be effectively controlled through a combination of antibiotic treatment, preventative measures such as tick collars and containing infected dogs. It’s not just an animal-health issue, dogs are an integral social part of many rural people’s lives.”

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

dogs on road remote community

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.

World Tuberculosis Day

March 24 marks the day in 1882 when Dr Robert Koch announced that he had discovered the bacterium that causes TB, which opened the way towards diagnosing and curing this disease. However, TB still claims 4,100 people lives each day and close to 27,000 people fall ill with this preventable and curable disease. The emergence of drug-resistant TB poses a major health threat that could put at risk the gains made to end the global TB epidemic. World TB Day is an opportunity to focus on the people affected by this disease and to call for accelerated action to end TB suffering and deaths. For more information about World Tuberculosis Day 2022 click here.

Disparities in tuberculosis (TB) rates exist between Indigenous and non-Indigenous populations in many countries, including Australia. The social determinants of health are central to health inequities including disparities in TB rates. There are limitations in the dominant biomedical and epidemiological approaches to representing, understanding and addressing the unequal burden of TB for Indigenous peoples represented in the literature. This paper applies a social determinants of health approach and examines the structural, programmatic and historical causes of inequities for TB in Indigenous Australia.

Development of TB policies and programmes requires reconfiguration. Space must be given for Indigenous Australians to lead, be partners and to have ownership of decisions about how to eliminate TB. Shared knowledge between Indigenous Australians, policy makers and service managers of the social practices and structures that generate TB disparity for Indigenous Australians is essential.

To view the research article The missing voice of Indigenous Australians in the social, cultural and historical experiences of tuberculosis: a systemic and integrative review click here.

The most common kind of TB is pulmonary tuberculosis, which affects the lungs. A latent TB infection (left) can have no symptoms, while with active TB disease (right), the bacteria multiply in the body, becoming contagious. Image source: iStock, Everyday Health.

Primary Care COVID-19 update

The latest in a series of webinars to update primary care on the COVID-19 response and the vaccine rollout will be held from 11:30 AM–12:00 PM (AEDT) Thursday 24 March 2022.

The panel this week will include Australian Government Department of Health Dr Lucas de Toca, First Assistant Secretary, COVID-19 Primary Care Response, and Dr Michael Bonning, Medical Director, Inner West GP Respiratory Clinic, Balmain Village Health.

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

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

National Advance Care Planning Week

National Advance Care Planning week, Monday 21 to Sunday 27 March 2022, an initiative of Advance Care Planning Australia, is a reminder for Australians to talk to their loved ones about who they would want to speak for them if they become too sick to speak for themselves. Advance Care Planning Australia ambassador and AMA Vice President Dr Chris Moy said while advance care planning conversations might be confronting, they are important. “Advance care planning is a process of planning for your future health and personal care by ensuring your values, beliefs and preferences are known to guide those who will make health care decisions on your behalf, should you lose capacity in the future,” Dr Moy said.

“Without such a plan, you may have no voice to guide those decisions and no choice as to what decisions are made on your behalf, instead placing the burden of decision-making on loved ones who may have no idea what care you would actually want – which can bring a legacy of guilt on families which extends after death.

The AMA strongly supports advance care planning as it benefits everyone, the patient, their family, carers and health professionals and is particularly important for people with advanced chronic illness, a life-limiting illness, who are aged 75+ years or at risk of losing competence. The AMA strongly agrees with Advance Care Planning Australia that having an advance care plan can reduce anxiety, depression, stress and increase satisfaction with care for the patient’s family members. In addition, advance care planning assists healthcare professionals and organisations by reducing unnecessary transfers to acute care and unwanted treatment,” Dr Moy said.

Advance Care Planning Australia has found less than 15% of people have documented their health care preferences in an advance care directive.  Dr Moy said advance care planning discussions, and clearly delineating ‘goals of care’, should become a key part of routine healthcare conversations across Australia. He said the Advance Care Planning Australia website is an excellent resource for individuals, families, friends, carers and health professionals.

The AMA’s Position Statement on End of Life Care and Advance Care Planning can be found here and you can view a Palliative Care Australia video on Indigenous Advance Care Plans below.

 

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Out of sight – chronic overcrowding

Image in feature tile from ABC News article Out of sight.

Out of sight – chronic overcrowding

In the crowded homes of the NT’s remote communities, residents are trying to keep their hopes of a better future alive. On most afternoons in the community of Rockhole, NT’s third-biggest town, about 340 kilometres south of Darwin, Evelyn Andrews can be found holding court in her front yard, sat beneath the shade of a tree. At house number 21, she shares her home with between 10 and 15 other people. “We love it in the community, we’ve got the river right there and the kids are safe,” she says. “But we need some more houses.”

Dr Simon Quilty, who has worked in medicine in the NT for over 20 years, says “the consequences of overcrowding on health are really quite profound”. “When people live in very close proximity in very warm houses that disconnect from electricity all of the time and often have serious problems with plumbing … then it is the ideal environment for the spread of infectious diseases,” he says. “I would say that housing circumstances for Indigenous people in the Northern Territory are by far and away the most significant driver of poor health outcomes universally.”

In a submission to the NT government’s 2016 inquiry into housing repair and maintenance on town camps, the Aboriginal-owned and operated Kalano Community Association, who manage housing in Rockhole, listed a number of conditions hampering its progress. These included “overcrowding and homelessness”, “a large backlog of repairs and maintenance”, “the condition of some housing being uninhabitable” and a “lack of land availability for the construction of new accommodation units within the Katherine township and [surrounds].”

To view the ABC News article in full click here.

5 women, two toddlers one room of house in Rockhole

Image source: ABC News.

Funds for IUIH Early Childhood Wellbeing Program

Queensland is closing the gap on early childhood development under a $1.4m wellbeing program for Australia’s biggest and fastest growing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population in the state’s SE corner. On National Close the Gap Day last week Queensland Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships Minister Craig Crawford announced funding for the Institute for Urban Indigenous Health (IUIH) – one of Queensland’s largest Indigenous-controlled health organisations – to establish a local Early Childhood Wellbeing Program. “Queensland’s Closing the Gap commitment includes targets focusing on life expectancy, healthy birthweight, early childhood education attendance and early development,” Mr Crawford said.

IUIH CEO Adrian Carson said the funding “will build on the proven Birthing in Our Community (BiOC) model of care to continue supporting families through the early years. We know that strong families require us to support our people right across the life course and that journey starts with supporting Mum and Dad during pregnancy. We are now able to continue to support the family through the early years and into early childhood education,’’ he said. The Early Childhood Wellbeing Program will support positive health, social and wellbeing initiatives for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mothers and children up to three years of age, including through comprehensive primary health care, early learning activities, playgroups and intensive support for families in priority need.

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

Image source: IUIH website.

Important COVID-19 vax updates

The Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services (ACCHS) Bulletin and associated information was released last week, on Tuesday 15 March 2022. The documents contain important updates on stock management and CVAS functionality changes as well as the results from the COVID-19 communication materials survey conducted between 12–20 February 2022 . You can access the documents by clicking on these links:

COVID-19 Vaccine Roll-out ACCHS update 15 March 2022

COVID-19 Vaccine Ordering System (CVAS) Ordering Amounts

Update of COVID-19 Vaccine Ordering System

COVID-19 communication materials survey findings March 2022

If you have any questions or queries, please do not hesitate to contact NACCHO using this email or the Commonwealth Department of Health using this email.

Image source: AMA website.

First Nations people and stroke

Australia’s First Nations people are 1.3 times more likely to die from a stroke than non-Indigenous people and are hospitalised 1.6 times more. Whether it’s in the statistics or stories of people affected by stroke, the existing gap in stroke outcomes is unacceptable.

Charlotte, a proud Wiradjuri woman, has shared her story through the Stroke Foundation’s Young Stroke Project which helps to shine a light on this issue. Charlotte is a mother of four and was working a double shift on the day of her stroke in 2018. Charlotte had a pounding headache, extreme fatigue and then noticed that her arm felt heavy and she could not lift it. She went to her local health clinic who called for an ambulance immediately. After the 23 hour wait, it was good treatment. I had doctors tend to my current situation, which was pretty good because I didn’t want to leave hospital knowing that I live in a rural area. I have no doctor here.

You can access the Stroke Foundation EnableMe newsletter with Charlotte’s story here and watch Charlotte tell her story in the video below.

National strategy to eliminate cervical cancer

On 17 November 2021 the Australian Government announced the development of a collaborative National Cervical Cancer Elimination Strategy (the Strategy), led by the Australian Centre for the Prevention of Cervical Cancer (ACPCC). This project will inform the Australian Government Department of Health’s future activities to eliminate cervical cancer as a public health problem in Australia by 2035.

The Strategy will be informed by a series of consultations with experts, representatives of priority communities, and other interested parties, to inform the three pillars of cervical cancer elimination – vaccination, screening, and treatment – and ensure a strong equity lens is applied at every step of the project. The overarching vision is to achieve elimination for all women and people with a cervix across the diverse communities we have in Australia. 

If you would like to be part of the development of a strategy to eliminate cervical cancer in Australia by 2035, you can register to join the consultation here.

Aboriginal artist Madison Connors, a Yorta Yorta, Dja Dja Wurrung, Kamilaroi woman from North East Victoria has created art inspired about the importance of cervical screening. Image source: Cancer Council Victoria website.

Women must lead equity drive

Equity for Indigenous women and girls is at the forefront of this year’s Closing The Gap Day message, with first Nations people still facing lower quality of life and shorter life expectancies compared to the rest of Australia. Last week’s Closing The Gap Day on March 17 marked the ongoing progress of the campaign to expand health, education and other fundamental expectations for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians.

Aoriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner and Close the Gap Co-Chair, Bunuba woman June Oscar, said gender equity was central to supporting strong families and communities to lead healthy lives. She reinforced the message that it was through Indigenous leadership that prospects for Indigenous people would improve. “This year’s report highlights in no uncertain terms what we already know,” she said. “It’s our organisations that know our people, carry our culture and knowledges, and deliver the services that we need.”

To view the 9 News article in full click here.

young Aboriginal girl with Aboriginal flag on shoulders of Aboriginal woman with Aboriginal art covid-19 mask

Indigenous women and girls must be central to the ongoing #MeToo movement, the Close The Gap campaign has said. Photo: Cole Bennetts. Image source: 9 News website.

Jail rates related to unmet basic needs

Victorian Aboriginal Legal Service CEO and Yorta Yorta woman Nerita Waight says the justice system is incapable of benefitting First Nations people who are at a systemic disadvantage. Ms Waight said incarceration numbers reflected the position of Indigenous people within the political and social landscape as a whole. Homelessness, the education system, workforce discrimination, racism and over-policing were identified by VALS as contributors to disparity.

“Most people end up in the justice system because society has failed to provide them with basic needs, like a home or proper healthcare,” Ms Waight said. “Once our people are in the justice system they are subjected to systemic racism from police, the courts, and prison staff. Most people get trapped in the justice system for the rest of their lives.” VALS conceded the cost of inadequately addressing these issues would likely see devastating results.

To view the National Indigenous Times Aboriginal Legal Service calls out justice failures on Closing the Gap Day article click here.

A related article Shocking Numbers of Aboriginal Children are in Prison and it’s a threat to Closing the Gap cites Royal Australasian College of Physicians (RACP) spokesperson and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Committee Chair Professor Ngiare Brown spoke to the ongoing damage that early incarceration can have on an Indigenous young person. “As the RACP has emphasised, along with other medical and First Nations experts, there is substantial evidence showing the detrimental and long term effects youth incarceration has on physical and psychological health and wellbeing.”

Rather than jump to incarceration, the report is calling for Attorney Generals to consider alternative approaches including earlier care, support and treatment options which will preserve human rights and hopefully, more just outcomes for the First Nations Youth community. It is hoped that continued advocacy and increased awareness will push the issue into the spotlight, encouraging critical reform and address the significant disadvantages experience by Australia’s Indigenous community. To view this NIT article in full click here.

Aboriginal man waist up no clothes, hands gripped together through jail bars

Image source: The Conversation.

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.

Multiple Birth Awareness Week

Multiple Birth Awareness Week (MBAW) is a national campaign to raise awareness around, and draw attention to, the unique realities for multiple birth families in Australia – and how advocacy, positive education and engaged communities can contribute to enabling positive health outcomes for families with multiples. You can access more information about MBAW on the Australian Multiple Birth Association website here.

Indigenous Australian twins and their mothers face unique challenges, according to research supported by Twins Research Australia. All mothers of twins face challenges but the study found these may be more difficult to overcome for some Indigenous Australian mothers. The study investigated the birth data of over 64,000 indigenous twins in NSW and WA.

It was found that many Aboriginal twin pregnancies and births are physically and practically challenging and the majority of multiples are born early and small. Factors included that they are: more likely to live far from specialist medical care, are younger, more socio-economically disadvantaged, and more likely to have older children. Researchers recommended that specific guidelines for the care of indigenous mothers and twins may be need to improve outcomes. The study highlights the importance of policies that support health services to meet the practical, financial and psychosocial needs of mothers and families, in addition to meeting their health needs.

You can read the Twins Research Australia article in full here, the paper in full here and a simplified explainer here.

Aboriginal women with her hands & partner's hands on her pregnant belly

Image source: Pathology Awareness Australia website.

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

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

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

Close the Gap 2022 report launches tomorrow

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

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

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

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

ACCHO partners with Diabetes SA

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

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

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

Moorundi ACCHS staff. Image source: Moorundi ACCHS website.

AMA calls out dumping of PHC 10-year plan

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

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

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

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

Family violence surges after floods

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

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

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

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

To view The Conversation article in full click here.

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

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

Image source: Ahpra & National Boards website.

RANZCO launches vision for eye equity

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

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

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

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

Impacts of racism on health and wellbeing

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

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

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

You can access the ONRHC Position Statement in full here.

Image source: New Scientist.

Creating equitable access to hearing healthcare

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

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

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

To read a transcript of the interview click here.

Image source: Macquarie University website.

Hidden e-cigarette dangers awareness campaign

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

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

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

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

Image source: The Guardian.

New process for job advertising

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

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

Primary Care COVID-19 update

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

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

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: 10-year plan to increase workforce

feature tile text 'first ever ATSI workforce plan launched' & pink, blue Aboriginal dot painting from cover of the plan

The artwork in the feature tile is by Freelance Graphic Designer Tarni O’Shea was created for the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workforce Strategic Framework and Implementation Plan 2021-2031.

10-year plan to increase workforce

Indigenous Allied Health Australia (IAHA) welcomes the joint announcement from Minister Greg Hunt and Minister Ken Wyatt, launching the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workforce Strategic Framework and Implementation Plan 2021–2031 (National Workforce Plan), the first of its kind. It seeks to have Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people equally represented alongside non-Indigenous workers across the health sector by 2031 and improve health and wellbeing outcomes.

Endorsed by all governments, the National Workforce Plan will see a more coordinated approach to the growth and empowerment of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health workforce across a diverse range of roles, settings, and sectors, to provide more culturally safe and responsive care to benefit all Australians. It will mean an unprecedented increase in the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander doctors, nurses, midwives, allied health professionals, health workers and health practitioners working across the health system through the next decade, providing culturally safe and responsive health and medical care.

The plan aims to lift the rate of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people working in the sector from the current 1.8 per cent to 3.43 per cent by 2031, better reflecting overall population numbers.

According to Minster Hunt and Minister Wyatt’s joint media release, the plan has been designed in close partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, including health leaders from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peak bodies and the community-controlled health sector. It commits all governments to work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to grow and strengthen the workforce through a consistent, yet flexible, approach to increasing employment, training and leadership opportunities.

IAHA Chief Executive Officer and outgoing National Health Leadership Forum Chair, Donna Murray, said of the announcement:

“The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health workforce brings a unique, dual cultural and clinical lens to their work. Growing the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health workforce should be a priority for all governments, with investment in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander led and culturally responsive approaches across health, education, skills, training, and employment portfolios.”

You can view Minister Hunt and Minister Wyatt’s joint media release here; the IAHA media release here and the National Workforce Plan here.

NACCHO COVID-19 staff & NACCHO Chair Donnella Mills

NACCHO COVID-19 staff with NACCHO Chair Donnella Mills at the Inaugural Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health workers day. Image source: Facebook

Plans for dedicated Fitzroy Valley ACCHS

The New Fitzroy Valley Health and Wellbeing Project Working Group (Working Group) is overseeing a project to establish a dedicated Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Service (ACCHS) to deliver primary health care services in Fitzroy Crossing. At a community meeting held 18 August 2021, community members endorsed the project aim: That a new ACCHS be established to deliver primary health care services in Fitzroy
Crossing with an interim ACCHS to be operationalised by 2023 and a full ACCHS to be operationalised by 2026.

The Working Group is committed to establishing a strong, independent and effective ACCHS that will provide quality primary health care services. The new service will enable enhanced leadership and advocacy on Fitzroy Valley health issues, and expansion of a skilled and sustainable local Aboriginal health workforce. Ultimately this will lead to overcoming the health inequalities experienced by Aboriginal people of the Fitzroy Valley and achieve health outcomes equal to all Australians.

It is essential that Fitzroy Valley communities are involved and engaged in decision making and the Working Group are therefore responsible for guiding, directing, advising and making key decisions until a Board of Directors is elected at the inaugural Annual General Meeting (AGM).

To view the Fitzroy Valley Health and Wellbeing Project Working Group communicate in full click here.

highway road sign Fitzroy Crossing

Image source: National Indigenous Times.

ARF and patient knowledge exchange

Two Aboriginal and two non-Aboriginal authors have examined the continuing colonisation of current practice, research and funding with respect to the provision of secondary antibiotic prophylaxis that is recommended for anyone diagnosed with Acute Rheumatic Fever (ARF). As explained in the recent ABC 4 Corners episode, ARF is the precursor to Rheumatic Heart Disease (RHD) which kills Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples so early and unjustly.

Their article published in the first issue for 2022 of Rural and Remote Health journal asks if vital knowledge about treatments, prognosis and effective interventions is truly exchanged between clinicians and the people affected by ARF, including their families and communities.  Comprehensive community-controlled primary health care resourced to provide culturally safe, lifelong healthcare for anyone diagnosed with this life-changing disease must be a priority for governments genuinely committed to better health outcomes. This includes co-design of evidence-based decision aids to share knowledge.

To view the article in full click here or here.

Aboriginal interpreter with Aboriginal female Elder in hospital bed with health professional

Image source: scimex.

New clinical guideline for autism

Work is underway to develop a national practice guideline for supporting the development and participation of children on the autism spectrum and their families. You can read more about the guideline development here.

This project is funded by the Autism CRC and is co-led by Professor Andrew Whitehouse (CliniKids, Telethon Kids Institute) and Associate Professor David Trembath (Menzies Health Institute Queensland, Griffith University).

Community consultation is now taking place, and all Australians can contribute their voice to this process. Submissions from Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander peoples is particularly encouraged.

Please follow this link to understand more, and take part in this process.

Aboriginal mum kissing check of young son with school bag

Image source: Autism Association of WA.

Stolen Generation redress scheme holdouts

WA and Queensland are the final holdouts in Australia yet to set up a redress scheme for Stolen Generations survivors. The Victorian Government last week joined NSW, SA, Tasmania, the NT and ACT in implementing a redress scheme 25 years after it was recommended in the landmark Bringing Them Home report. Victorian survivors will be eligible for $100,000 compensation payments, while Jervis Bay, NT and ACT schemes last week opened up a $75,000 redress plus an extra sum for healing assistance.

Bringing Them Home WA co-chairman Tony Hansen said such a scheme was well overdue in WA. “It is 25 years since the tabling of the landmark Bringing Them Home Report and sadly many Survivors have passed away,” he said. “We need an acknowledgement from the WA Government of what the Victorian Premier described as ‘…those terrible, evil wrongs of our past’.”

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

Boys at the Churches of Christ Mission in Norseman WA.

Boys at the Churches of Christ Mission in Norseman WA. Image source: ABC News website.

New SA Aboriginal mental health centre

According to SA Premier Steven Marshall, people across state will have access to more mental health and suicide prevention support as a result of a landmark 5-year agreement signed with the Commonwealth. The deal will increase the mental health workforce, establish new mental health centres for adults and First Nations people and reduce pressure on hospital emergency departments.

Mr Marshall said the bilateral agreement, part of the National Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Agreement, would establish a network of Adult Mental Health Centres (Head to Health) in Northern Adelaide and Mount Barker, to be co-located with new State-funded services, including a Crisis Stabilisation Centre and two additional Head to Health satellite centres. In addition, a new Aboriginal Mental Health and Wellbeing Centre is to be established to address gaps in the mental health system to provide culturally appropriate and more integrated mental health and suicide prevention services to Aboriginal people. One new headspace centre will also be established, while existing headspace centres will be enhanced to increase access to multidisciplinary youth mental health services.

To view the PSNews.com.au article in full click here.

ACT prison mental health care ineffective

Prisoners in the ACT’s Alexander Maconochie Centre don’t receive adequate mental health treatment due to a shortage of psychologists, a damning ACT Auditor-General’s report has concluded. The report has found the prison has funding for 16 full-time equivalent staff including registered nurses and forensic psychologists but only 11.2 of these positions are currently filled.

“The most significant shortfall in staff occurs in the number of psychologists; only two of the four budgeted positions have been filled as of April 2021,” the report read. The report said that “While occurring informally, there is no established process to ensure that advice and support is sought from called for greater oversight of the services delivered by Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health and Community Services, or any other Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander health professional, for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander detainees at risk of suicide and self-harm,” the report said. The report said Winnunga or another service should be consulted to develop release plans for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander detainees and to provide advice regarding treatment plans for any Indigenous detainees deemed high risk.

To view the Riotact article in full click here.

light shaft on closed internal AMC prison doors

Alexander Maconochie Centre. Image source: The Canberra Times.

New process for job advertising

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

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

16th National Rural Health Conference

If you are interested in healthy, sustainable and resilient rural communities, this conference will be of interest to you.  Whether you are a consumer, a health professional, student, researcher, or manager you will be able to engage with people and topics of interest to you.

It is a rural health conference, but one that recognises the critical role played by education, rural industries, communications, transport and a wide range of other sectors and professions. The conference will have plenty for rural delegates and those working in rural education, regional development, housing, local government, community services, transport and infrastructure – as well as for health professionals from all disciplines. The National Rural Health Conference has a well-earned reputation as one of the best health conferences in the Country.

For more information about the conference, including a registration link click here.

tile text '16th National Rural Health Conference 2-4 August 2022, Brisbane, QLD - Bridging social distance Rural health innovating & collaboration ruralhealth.org.au/16nrhc New date and loccation! 2-4 August 2022, Brisbane, QLD, Registration Now Open!' purple green white text overlaying image of office building

NACCHO Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health News: Celebrating NACCHO’s women leadership

feature tile text 'celebrating NACCHO's inspiring & strong women's leadership this International Women's Day' & photo collage of 7 women: NACCHO CEO, Chair etc

Feature tile images clockwise from top left: Pat Turner AM, Donnella Mills, Dr Dawn Casey, Donna Ah Chee, Raylene Foster, Vicki O’Donnell and Polly Sumner-Dodd.

Celebrating NACCHO’s women leadership

The National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health organisation (NACCHO) is proud to be guided and led by an extraordinary group of women from the NACCHO Executive team to the Board of Directors.

From the top left in the image collage above:

  • Pat Turner AM – NACCHO CEO and Lead Convenor of the Coalition of Peaks. Pat is the daughter of an Arrernte man and a Gurdanji woman and was raised in Alice Springs. As CEO of NACCHO, she is at the forefront of community efforts in Closing the Gap in health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Pat has over 40 years of experience in senior leadership positions in government, business and academia, including being the only Aboriginal person and longest-serving CEO of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission (ATSIC).
  • Donnella Mills – NACCHO Chair and Chair of Wuchopperen Health Service, a member of James Cook University Council and was recently appointed to the Australian Government’s Advisory Council on Family, Domestic and Sexual Violence. Donnella Mills is a proud Torres Strait Islander woman with ancestral and family links to Masig and Nagir. From 2014 to 2021, she worked as a Cairns-based lawyer with LawRight, a community legal centre which coordinates the provision of pro-bono services for vulnerable people. She was also the managing lawyer for the innovative Wuchopperen Health Justice Partnership, in which lawyers and health professionals partnered to achieve improved health, wellbeing and justice outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
  • Dr Dawn Casey – NACCHO Deputy CEO and Co-chair of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Advisory Group on COVID-19. Dr Dawn Casey is a descendant of the Tagalaka clan from North Queensland. She was recently awarded the Public Health Association Australia’s 2021 Sidney Sax Public Health Medal Award. She has also been awarded three Honorary Doctorates (QLD Charles Sturt, QLD and Macquarie Universities), a Commonwealth Government’s Public Service Medal (PSM), an Australian Government’s Centenary Medal, three Australia Day Public Service Medals, the Australian Institute of Architects’ Clem Cummings Award and a Fellow of the Australian Academy of the Humanities (FAHA).
  • Donna Ah Chee – NACCHO Board Member and CEO of the Central Australian Aboriginal Congress Aboriginal Corporation (CAAC) in Alice Springs. She is a Bundgalung woman from the far north coast of NSW and has lived in Alice Springs for over 25 years. Donna has been actively involved in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander affairs for many years, especially in the area of adult education and health.
  • Raylene Foster – NACCHO Board Member and Chief Operating Officer Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre (TAC). Raylene represents Tasmania/Lutruwitadeep on the NACCHO Board. She has a historical understanding of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health sector, at national and local levels. For the past 25 years, Raylene has worked for the TAC in various leadership roles building the capacity of the organisation, staff, and community to provide health services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
  • Vicki O’Donnell OAM– NACCHO Board Member and CEO Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Services Ltd (KAMS). Vicki is a Nyikina Mangala woman from Derby who has worked as a strategic leader in Aboriginal community-controlled health for 15 years. Vicki was instrumental in the establishment of both the Derby Aboriginal Health Service dialysis unit and the Kimberley Renal Service. Vicki has been a board member of AHCWA for over 15 years (eight years as chair) and chairs the WA Aboriginal Health Ethics Committee. She is an advisor on numerous state and federal ministerial committees involved in Aboriginal health including the WA Aboriginal Advisory Committee and the national Closing the Gap Coalition of Peaks.
  • Polly Sumner-Dodd – NACCHO Board Member and Aboriginal Health Council of SA Ltd (AHCSA). Now retired, Polly was CEO of Nunkuwarrin Yunti of SA for over 30 years. Polly advocates strongly for Aboriginal community control, self-management and self-determination. She has participated on a wide and varied range of committees and boards, including NACCHO, Aboriginal Sobriety Group, Aboriginal Legal Rights Movement, Women’s Legal Service, Pharmacy Board SA and the Women’s Art Movement, to name a few. Polly’s involvement with NACCHO’s affiliate AHCSA has spanned more than 38 years, beginning with the Aboriginal Health Organisation that underwent major transformations, giving birth to ACHSA and, more importantly, moving to Aboriginal community control.

The theme for this year’s International Women’s Day is #BreakTheBias.

Imagine a gender-equal world. A world free of bias, stereotypes, and discrimination. A world that is diverse, equitable, and inclusive. A world where difference is valued and celebrated.

Together we can forge women’s equality. Collectively we can all #BreakTheBias. As women who are a guiding force and carers of our families and communities, we need to look after ourselves, our physical, spiritual, and mental health and wellbeing.

Individually, we’re all responsible for our own thoughts and actions – all day, every day. We can break the bias in our communities and families. We can break the bias in our workplaces. We can break the bias in our schools, colleges and universities.

You can read more about International Women’s Day and download resources here.BreakTheBias - International Women's Day - Selfie CardsExcerpt from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, June Oscar’s newsletter:

This year’s theme, Changing Climates: Equality today for a sustainable tomorrow, reminds us of the powerful leadership and legacy of First Nations women and girls on the frontline of climate justice movements. It is within our women’s knowledge systems, ways of living and caring for all members of our families and Country, that the solutions exist to form more sustainable social, economic, ecological and political structures.

This International Women’s Day, read the new Wiyi Yani U Thangani Implementation Framework—which will drive dialogue and decision making in the lead up to the first-ever First Nations women and girls’ national summit in 2023.

Artwork: Aboriginal Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice from the Australian Human Rights Commission website

 

Showcasing the women of Yarrabah

One of our ACCHOs, Gurriny Yealamucka Health Service Aboriginal Corporation (GYHSAC) has done their own campaign to celebrate International Women’s Day 2022, recognising the #WomenOfYarrabah.

They value the contribution made to their community by women: mothers, sisters, aunties, daughters and grandmothers. ‘Who we are today is a reflection of the work and sacrifice of the women in our community’.

You can read more about the Women of Yarrabah campaign here.

Gurriny Yealamucka - Break The Bias campaign

Adelaide Sands, Renee Grosso and Lucresia Willett (pictured left to right above) are three of the employees at GYHSAC who feature in the campaign.

All governments “buck-passing” on housing

Australia’s road map for reducing Indigenous disadvantage is at risk because all governments are “buck-passing” over housing and reluctant to cede control to Aboriginal organisations, according to Closing the Gap co-chair and NACCHO CEO Pat Turner.

Ms Turner, who has previously praised Scott Morrison for his commitment to recast the national agreement on Closing the Gap as a partnership with Indigenous organisations, says there is a concerning lack of political will from all governments who “think they know best”.

The new Closing the Gap obliges state, territory and even local governments to work with the commonwealth and Indigenous organisations to improve the lives of Indigenous Australians against key markers, including by reducing incarceration rates and increasing employment rates.

To view The Australian article in full click here.

Pat Turner

Closing the Gap co-chair and NACCHO CEO Pat Turner. Image source: The Australian.

ABC Four Corners aired episode on Heart Failure and Rheumatic Heart Disease

Last night ABC Four Corners aired Heart Failure: An investigation into the hidden killer in remote Australian communities. According to the ABC Four Corners website page the episode is ‘an investigation into the hidden and shameful failure in public health taking place in remote Australian communities, where incompetent and inexcusable medical care has resulted in multiple preventable deaths.’

The program starts off with reporter Louise Milligan’s description of Doomadgee in remote NW Queensland Gulf country: “The children have come out to play. They’re joining in a medicine dance. Almost 40% of the people who live here are aged under 14 years old. Despite the joy in the children’s faces, there’s a sadness that runs through the heart of this place. In Doomadgee, young people are dying from a disease that all but disappeared in the rest of Australia decades ago, without getting the healthcare they need.”

In referring to one of the teenagers who died from Rheumatic Heart Disease (RHD) NACCHO CEO Pat Turner says “If that was a white kid, in middle class Sydney, you know, there’d be an uproar, okay? But it’s not a white kid. You know? It’s an Aboriginal kid living in the bush. Does that child deserve any less, than a white kid living in middle class Sydney?”

Paediatric cardiologist, Dr BoReményi said “We had the solutions for this over 50 years ago, yet today we’re standing back and watching young people developing rheumatic fever and RHD and dying from this.”

You can view the Heart Failure episode and access a transcript of the episode here.

image of ABC Four Corners episode text 'HEART FAILURE' across image of graveyard with heart shaped headstones

Qld releases new RHD strategy

Queensland has announced a new strategy dedicated to reducing the impact of acute rheumatic fever and rheumatic heart disease in Queensland. Minister for Health and Ambulance Services Yvette D’Ath released the Ending Rheumatic Heart Disease: Queensland First Nations Strategy 2021-2024 on Friday 4 March 2022.

Minister D’Ath said Queensland was leading the way with a targeted action plan, and now a strategy, to address the prevalence of Acute Rheumatic Fever (ARF) and Rheumatic Heart Disease (RHD) among First Nations peoples. “Both RHD and ARF are preventable conditions. Unfortunately, Australia has some of the highest documented rates of RHD in the world, with a significant number of patients living in the north of the Queensland,” Minister D’Ath said.

To view Minister D’Ath’s media release in full click here. You can also view a short film about Queensland teenager Shikyna’s RHD story below.

Combatting syphilis epidemic webinar 

While Australia has made some notable progress in the management of sexually transmissible infections (STIs), Syphilis remains a significant public health challenge. About 2 million Australians see a GP each week, and most STI’s are diagnosed in general practice – GPs have a crucial role in reducing the prevalence of Syphilis in the community through early diagnosis, testing and re-testing at risk patients, and timely and appropriate antibiotic treatment for cure.

The Royal Australian College of General Practice (RACGP) is hosting a FREE webinar from 7:30 PM – 9:30 AEDT PM Wednesday 23 March 2022 to inform GPs of how they can help to strengthen Australia’s response to syphilis, and help people to access testing and treatment. You can register for the free webinar via this link.

blue rubber gloved hand holding Syphilis vial, positive box ticked

Image source: RACGP Events webpage.

Addressing AOD workers’ needs

The Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet’s Alcohol and Other Drugs Knowledge Centre, in partnership with the National Centre for Education and Training on Addiction (NCETA), invite you to attend a FREE webinar on Wednesday 16 March 2022 where key findings from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander alcohol and other drugs (AOD) workers who participated in a national AOD workforce survey will be presented, along with discussion on next steps for the sector.

There will be a Q&A session facilitated by Professor Neil Drew, Director of the Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet. Key findings from the report will be presented by Dr Alice McEntee, report co-author and Research Fellow at NCETA and further insights will be provided by Dr Jocelyn Jones on what these findings mean to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander workers in the AOD sector.

For further information about the webinar and to register click here. Registrations are due by Friday 11 March 2022.

Professor Neil Drew, Dr Alice McEntee & Dr Jocelyn Jones

Clockwise: Professor Neil Drew, Dr Alice McEntee and Dr Jocelyn Jones.

NRL club and ACCHO join forces

A Newcastle Knights initiative to ensure healthy, positive futures for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people has been labelled “momentous” by CEO Phil Gardner. The NRL club unveiled its formidable partnership with leading Hunter Valley medical provider Awabakal at its new $20 million Centre of Excellence yesterday, Monday 7 March 2022.

The program, Knight Strong, will promote better health outcomes for Indigenous residents throughout the region – and country NSW. “It’s an important day for us,” Gardner said. “It is the start of the Knights walking the walk. The likes of South Sydney and North Queensland Cowboys, for example, have done a great job with similar campaigns in their areas – I take my hat off to them. So, there’s nowhere better for us to begin our own Indigenous relationships than Knight Strong. Awabakal – who cares for people’s health and mental wellbeing, while providing many other fantastic services – is hugely vital to us.”

To view the Newcastle Weekly article in full click here.

Newcastle Knights CEO Phil Gardner at the launch of their new initiative, Knight Strong

Newcastle Knights CEO Phil Gardner at the launch of their new initiative, Knight Strong. Photo: Peter Stoop. Image source: Newcastle Weekly.

New process for job advertising

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: NACCHO Medical Advisor on WA COVID-19

feature tile text 'NACCHO Medical Advisor Dr Jason Agostino concerned for remote communities as WA drops hard border' & portrait photo of Jason against Aboriginal dot art

Image in feature tile: NACCHO Medical Advisor Dr Jason Agostino. Image source: ANU Medical School.

NACCHO Medical Advisor on WA COVID-19

As WA drops its hard border at midnight tonight, many are concerned about the toll the virus might take in remote communities. On ABC RN Breakfast this morning Gerard Coffey, CEO of Ngaanyatjarra Health Service Aboriginal Corporation, WA and Dr Jason Agostino, NACCHO Medical Advisor spoke to reporter Jade Clarke about their concerns, including overcrowded housing and insecure power supply in areas where temperatures are as high as 50 degrees.

You can listen to the RN Breakfast with Patricia Karvevlas segment in full here.

6 Aboriginal people sitting outside house in disrepair

Photo: Getty Images/AFP/G. Wood. Image source: DW Made for Minds. website.

Good News Story Winners

NACCHO is pleased to announce the winners of our inaugural Good News Story competition:

  • Peter McCullagh, Marketing & Communications Officer, Gurriny Yealamucka Health Services Aboriginal Corporation (GYHSAC), Yarrabah, Queensland who submitted two stories, the first about how the Yarrabah community reached the important 90% first vaccination level and the second about how GYHSAC CEO Suzanne Andrews spoke out to counter anti-vax misinformation.
  • Kim Moffitt from Albury Wodonga Aboriginal Health Service for her entry about her nine-week placement in Tennant Creek working as an Aboriginal Health Practitioner / Nurse Immuniser as part of the government’s “Vaccination Acceleration Campaign” targeting remote communities.

Both winners will receive $200 to put towards a meal to share with their colleagues.

Jilara Murgha, Dr Matt Durden and Heather Robertson from Gurriny Yealamucka HSAC and Kim Moffitt from Albury Wodonga AHS

Jilara Murgha, Dr Matt Durden and Heather Robertson from Gurriny Yealamucka HSAC and Kim Moffitt from Albury Wodonga AHS.

COVID-19 decimates women’s health

The CEOs of Victoria’s 12 women’s health services has issued an urgent plea for immediate government investment to curtail the unfolding crisis of women’s declining health in the state. It comes with the release of data that shows the impact of COVID-19 on the physical and mental health and wellbeing of women in Victoria, and how current funding levels are inadequate for improving outcomes.

The group is calling for women’s health services funding to be increased from $2.05 per women per year, to $5.75 per woman. At an online event branded with the hashtag #sickofsmallchange, Women’s Health Services Council Chair Tricia Currie pointed out that the funding being asked for to improve women’s health in the state equates to less than cost of two cups of coffee, per woman. The group is calling for investments to improve health outcomes for women with disabilities, Indigenous women, LGBTQI+ women, trans and gender diverse people, as well as migrant and refugee women, and those living in rural and regional areas in Victoria.

“Before the pandemic, women’s health was under significant strain,” Currie said at the event. “It is now much worse. Spare change funding is making women sicker.” Kit McMahon, CEO of Women’s Health in the South East, said the data clearly indicates that women are being let down by a lack of funding. “The data is clear and the evidence is there. From a local perspective, the pandemic has not only revealed inequity in health, it has exacerbated it and we’ve seen an increase in inequity,” McMahon said.

To view the Women’s Agenda article in full click here.

VAHS site director Susan Hedges uses a cultural shawl at a screening with BreastScreen Victoria radiographer Monique Warrillow

VAHS site director Susan Hedges uses a cultural shawl at a screening with BreastScreen Victoria radiographer Monique Warrillow. Image source: BreastScreen Victoria.

First COVID-19 antiviral on PBS

Thousands of vulnerable Australians, who are at risk of developing severe COVID-19, are now eligible to access an oral antiviral treatment through the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS). Listed as of  Tuesday 1 March, GPs can now prescribe molnupiravir (sold as Lagevrio).

Associate Professor Paul Griffin, an infectious disease physician and microbiologist at Mater Health in Brisbane, said the listing of the oral antiviral is ‘great news’, and likely to play an ‘important role’ in treating at-risk patients who contract the virus. ‘Access to an oral treatment through the PBS will allow many at-risk people to be treated at home, which is a win-win-win for these patients, the community and our hospital system,’ he said.

According to the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee (PBAC), molnupiravir is recommended for the treatment of patients with mild-to-moderate COVID-19 who are at risk of developing severe disease requiring hospitalisation, not requiring supplemental oxygen for their COVID-19 and where treatment is commenced within 5 days of the onset of symptoms and meet one of the following criteria:

  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 50 years or older with two additional high-risk factors for developing severe disease
  • People 65 years or older with two additional high-risk factors for developing severe disease,
  • People 75 years or older with one additional high-risk factor for developing severe disease,
  • Moderately to severely immunocompromised people irrespective of vaccination status

To view the newsGP article in full click here.

hand holding box of oral use Lagevrio COVID-19 antiviral tablets

Clinical trial data found participants treated with molnupiravir had a reduced risk of hospitalisation, down from 14.1% to 7.3%. Photo: AAP. Image source: newsGP website.

VIC Aboriginal health experts meet

Representatives from VACCHO met last week on Wadawurrung Country to share learnings and experiences of the past two years and lay the foundations for the health and wellbeing of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait community in Victoria for 2022. The Members’ Meeting meeting was also an opportunity to recognise the leadership, dedication, and hard work of VACCHO’s 32 member organisations throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

VACCHO CEO Jill Gallagher said “This important gathering provides us with an opportunity to connect and pay tribute to our members. This pandemic has had so many twists and turns. Every day it seems like something changes. But despite all the challenges – all the ups and downs – the ability of each of the members to quickly adjust and adapt to look after Community has been incredible.” She said the Members’ Meeting was an important chance to reflect on the past year’s achievements and challenges, and to think about where the organisation wanted to be in the next 25 years.

Victorian Aboriginal Health Service CEO Michael Graham said ACCHOs were unique “in that we are one big family. As a workforce, we should all be proud of our collective efforts in providing personalised, culturally-safe care for our communities across Victoria.”

To view the Geelong Times article in full click here.

Victorian Minister for Health Martin Foley speaks at the VACCHO meeting at RACV Torquay Resort

Victorian Minister for Health Martin Foley speaks at the VACCHO meeting at RACV Torquay Resort. Photo: Dr Cath Chamberlain, Twitter. Image source: Geelong Times.

Kinchela Boys Home to be truth-telling site

Kinchela Boys Home (KBH) site in Kempsey has been announced at the 2022 World Monuments Watch as one of 25 heritage sites of worldwide significance whose preservation is urgent and vital to the communities surrounding them. Among Australia’s most notorious Stolen Generations institutions, KBH saw an estimated 400 to 600 Aboriginal children exposed to routine acts of cultural genocide between 1924 to 1970.

Survivors from KBH are among thousands of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children forcibly taken from their families and communities as part of official government and church programs to assimilate First Nations children into non-Indigenous society. The announcement by the World Monuments Fund (WMF) acknowledges the pain and suffering of KBH survivors and their families, while highlighting the need for greater action to support heritage places and the people who care for them.

The children who passed through the gates of KBH were stripped of their names, given numbers, and subjected to ‘reprogramming’ and strict regimes of manual labor. Physical hardship, punishment, alienation, and abuse were part of everyday life until the campus was shut down in 1970.

To view the media release in full click here.

Aboriginal Elders with part of the gate from the Kinchela Boys Home

In 2012, Aboriginal Elders with part of the gate from the Kinchela Boys Home that was sent to the National Museum. Image source: The Macleay Argus.

Schools alone can’t break disadvantage cycle

Poverty and disadvantage put young Australians on the road to a less fulfilling life and schools could play a critical role in breaking the cycle, a new study led by Flinders University says. “The risk factors for social exclusion at school are worse for young adolescents who live in low income households or who experience poverty,” says Flinders University sociologist Professor Gerry Redmond.  “Adolescents who live with a disability, care for a family member, speak a language other than English at home, or identify as Indigenous are all more likely than other adolescents to be living in poverty.  “Feedback from marginalised young people in the study shows how the experience of disadvantage and exclusion affects their life satisfaction, which is a predictive indicator of wellbeing and mental health in adulthood,” he says.

With prospects for Australian children living in low income households relatively unchanged this century, the study aims to ignite the post-pandemic debate calling for sweeping reform and stronger economic, social, cultural and political policymaking to focus on a better future for all young people.

Children living in rural and remote communities, have difficulty with learning or live in out-of-home care also face similar prospects for marginalisation at school. Diana Harris, acting CEO of the Australian Research Alliance for Children and Youth (ARACY), says the study highlights the “systemic forces in play” which continue to lead to the marginalisation of low income, children managing disabilities or chronic disease, and those from an Aboriginal or culturally diverse background.

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

2 young girls being helped with puzzles by two female teachers

Image source: Indigenous Inequality blog.

Primary Care COVID-19 update time change

There is a change in the time for the latest in the series of COVID-19 vaccine updates for Primary Care, providing the latest information on the vaccine rollout. It will now be held from 12:30–1:00 PM (AEDT) Thursday 3 March 2022, an hour later than previously advised.

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

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

tile: Primary Care COVID-19 update' blue background, vector of virus cell

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.

Kidney Health Professional Webinar

Kidney Health Australia are hosting a health professional webinar on Wednesday 9 March 2022 to celebrate 2022 Kidney Health Week.

The webinar will include an engaging panel discussion with our Clinical Advisory Committee facilitated by Nephrologist, Professor Karen Dwyer

This is a RACGP accredited activity for 2 CPD points. Activity # 325983 (pending approval).

If you have a Zoom account you can register here. If you do not have a Zoom account you can sign up for one here and then register for the webinar via this link.

Upon successful registration you will receive a confirmation email.