NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: International Day of Indigenous Peoples

The image in the feature tile shows bush tucker as part of the connectedness with the land and each other that nourishes body and soul in Indigenous communities. Photo: Paul Miller, AAP. Image source: The Conversation 24 June 2015.

International Day of Indigenous Peoples

The Role of Indigenous Women in the Preservation and Transmission of Traditional Knowledge

On 9 August, the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples (IDWIP) is celebrated globally. This year’s theme is: “The Role of Indigenous Women in the Preservation and Transmission of Traditional Knowledge”.

“Indigenous women are the backbone of Indigenous peoples’ communities and play a crucial role in the preservation and transmission of traditional ancestral knowledge. They have an integral collective and community role as carers of natural resources and keepers of scientific knowledge.” The United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs Indigenous Peoples IDWIP 2022

On IDWIP it is important to note that according to the Law Council of Australia (LCA) despite announcing support for the UN Declaration of Rights on Indigenous People (UNDRIP) in 2009, Australian governments and parliaments are yet to recognise and implement its standards in a formal and comprehensive way (see LCA media release Australian must formally adopt UNDRIP here).

In June this year NACCHO provided a submission to the Senate Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs into the application of the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous People (UNDRIP) in Australia. In their submission, NACCHO’s made nine recommendations, including:

  • the Australian Government introduce legislative measures to enact the UNDRIP into Commonwealth law, in line with the UNDRIP Article 38.
  • there be acknowledgement of the key role ACCHOs have played in paving the way for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander self-determination
  • the National Agreement on Closing the Gap be acknowledged as a critical precursor for full enactment of the UNDRIP.

You can read NACCHO’s submission in full here.

Image source: World Vision website.

National Stroke Week

This week marks National Stroke Week Monday 8 – Sunday 14 August 2022, an annual campaign run by Australia’s Stroke Foundation. The Stroke Foundation was set up 1983 to conduct research to improve the treatment of diseases impacting the brain and nervous system. When stroke emerged as one of Australia’s top health priorities, the focus of the changed to be exclusively on stroke and in 1996 the National Stroke Foundation was established.

The ambitions that informed early research efforts continue to inform the Foundation’s primary objectives, which are to champion innovative stroke research and treatments; to advocate for widespread access to these innovative treatments; to educate health professionals in delivering best-practice care for stroke sufferers; and, to raise public awareness about preventing and recognising stroke.

National Stroke Week helps the Foundation achieve its primary objectives by providing a platform with which to roll out stroke education and awareness to the general public about identifying and managing the signs of stroke. The focus of this year’s National Stroke Week is to spread the F.A.S.T signs of stroke message among family and friends, so that stroke casualties can receive medical attention early, and thereby continue to enjoy more of life’s precious moments.

For more information about National Stroke Week visit the Stroke Foundation website here.

Black nurses and midwives stories exhibition

A new exhibition charting the activist history of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander nurses and midwives will for the first time privilege and recognise CATSINaM’s trailblazing women and men, spanning seven decades from the 1950s to the present. CATSINaM CEO, Professor Roianne West, said the “In Our Own Right: Black Australian Nurses and Midwives Stories National Exhibition” was a “must see” for every Australian nurse and midwife.

“It’s an opportunity to see nursing and midwifery in Australia through the eyes of Australia’s First Nations nurses and midwives,” said Professor West, a descendant of the Kalkadoon and Djunke peoples. “Our nurses and midwives experienced so much adversity in their training and working lives, but they fought every step of the way for justice and equity for those who would follow them. Our Elders and our leaders want our young people to hear these stories.”

Auntie Dr Doseena Fergie OAM, a member of CATSINaM’s Elders Circle, said the exhibition highlighted CATSINaM’s goal since its inception to increase the recruitment and retention of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander nursing and midwifery workforce. “This exhibition pays tribute to the courage of these trailblazers then, and professional role models since, who actively challenged the health system that ostracised First Australians, and who now advocate for culturally safe health services for Mob. The intimate, private, and heart-wrenching stories told will penetrate the hearts and souls of even the most hardened hearer,” she said.

To view the Croakey Health Media article Previewing a “must see” exhibition: In Our Own Right: Black Australian Nurses and Midwives Stories in full click here.

Gudanji and Garrwa woman Jayvina Raggett recreates a nursing scene from the 1960s for “In Our Own Right: Black Australian Nurses and Midwives Stories” exhibition. Photo courtesy CATSINaM. Image source: Croakey Health Media.

Critical need for allied health workers

A new report has revealed alarming shortages and increasing staff turnover rates of allied health workers across the country, which could put people with disability at risk. The data, released by the peak body for disability, National Disability Services (NDS), is part of its latest Workforce Census Report and found difficulty accessing allied health services was a contributing factor to underutilisation of NDIS funds, particularly for remote areas.

The report also states the data may point to the long-term national neglect of allied health workforce needs, which it finds the NDIS National Workforce Plan is unlikely to effectively address. NDS CEO Laurie Leigh said the report shines a light on the continued disruption the sector has faced over the last financial year, with urgent need for collaboration between industry and government.

“It is clear from the findings in this annual census report that the disability workforce is still feeling the ongoing impact of COVID-19,” she said. “With the Federal Government Job and Skills Summit coming up in a few weeks, now is the time for the government and providers to come together to ensure we are moving forward with the right measures to ensure disability workforces are supported during this turbulent period for the sector. This report also highlights the ongoing issues faced by the disability sector in recruiting the allied health workforce needed, especially to provide services in remote and very remote areas.”

To view The National Tribune article New report shows critical need for allied health workers, as wait lists grow across country in full click here.

Gunyangara Clinic. Image source: Miwatj Health Aboriginal Corporation website.

Indigenous data governance

In 2016, Professor Tahu Kukutai and Emeritus Professor John Taylor from ANU’s Centre for Aboriginal Economic Policy Research asked, “what does data sovereignty mean for Indigenous peoples, and how is it being used in their pursuit of self-determination?”. These were just two of the questions addressed by 183 Indigenous data users, data scientists, researchers and government and community representatives at the Indigenous Data Governance and Sovereignty Roundtable by the Indigenous Data Network (IDN) in Narrm at the University of Melbourne.

The Roundtable, convened by Professor Marcia Langton, Dr Kristen Smith, Dr Vanessa Russ and Levi-Craig Murray, was an important step in the IDN’s project – Improving Indigenous Research Capabilities: An Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Research Data Commons. Its objective is to build national Indigenous research capabilities, framed by a set of agreed Indigenous governance principles that can leverage existing data assets and link them to new and existing data.

To view The National Tribune article Indigenous data governance for 21st century click here.

Many institutions won’t permit researchers to see these materials without “permission from communities”. Picture: Getty Images. Image source: University of Melbourne online magazine Pursuit.

Australia-first health and wellbeing campus

The McGowan Government is set to begin work on a unique, Australian-first health and wellbeing campus that will focus on culturally appropriate care for the Broome community. The Yinajalan Ngarrungunil (Care for People) Broome Health and Wellbeing Campus will take shape on Dora Street on land owned by Nyamba Buru Yawuru (NBY), the operational company of the Yawuru people – Traditional Owners of the land and waters in and around Rubibi (Broome). The McGowan Government has allocated $8 million to the project’s subdivision consultancy and civil works. Broome business Roadline Civil Contractors will undertake the project, helping to support local jobs. The campus will combine a holistic range of new facilities and services with a focus on enhancing the delivery of collaborative healthcare services in Broome.

To view the media release click here.

Nyamba Buru Yawuru CEO Nini Mills and WA Premier Mark McGowan, centre, with Yawuru staff and government members. Picture: Yawuru Image source: National Indigenous Times.

End of Cashless Debit Card welcome

The St Vincent de Paul Society in Australia welcomes the Albanese Government’s introduction into Parliament of legislation to abolish the Cashless Debit Card. ‘The Society has been a leading voice calling for the abolition of the Cashless Debit Card,’ said National President Ms Claire Victory. ‘We have held concerns that this approach has had significant unintended and expensive consequences across Government and the community, including social exclusion and stigmatisation, increased financial hardship, and the erosion of autonomy and dignity. ‘The Society believes the best form of assistance is the type that helps people to feel, and recover, their own dignity, as this empowers them and enables them to forge ahead and change their own destinies and those of their local communities.

To view the St Vincent de Paul Society in Australia’s media release Legislation to abolish cashless debit card welcome – St Vincent de Paul Society in Australia click here.

Image source: The Guardian.

Sector Jobs

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

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

Save the Date

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NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Eliminating trachoma by 2025 under threat

The image in the feature tile is a photo taken by Michael Amendolia (2014) featured on the Fred Hollows Foundation website.

Eliminating trachoma by 2025 under threat

The new federal minister responsible for Indigenous health has stopped short of backing the previous government’s target to eliminate trachoma by 2025 as the pandemic continues to impact health outcomes for Indigenous Australians. Australia is the most developed country in the world where trachoma — which causes blindness and is linked to poor face hygiene — is still prevalent. New Assistant Minister Malarndirri McCarthy has declared overcoming trachoma is one of her priorities in the job, but said would need to fully appreciate the situation before she could set a timeline. “This is going to be an absolute priority for me and I will be travelling the country to talk to those experts to see what we can do to eradicate this scourge.”

Asked directly whether she backed the 2025 target, Senator McCarthy replied: “I’m having ongoing discussions, I’ve only been in this role a matter of weeks.” In 2009, the Rudd Labor government pledged to eliminate the eye disease by 2020. Since then, Cambodia, Ghana, Mexico and more have achieved the feat. But in Australia, the disease persists. The target was pushed back to 2022, but it is now clear Australia will not meet the commitment. The previous Coalition government announced a new target of 2025 to eliminate all avoidable blindness in Indigenous Australians, including beating trachoma.

To view the ABC News article Goal of eliminating eye disease trachoma by 2025 under threat as pandemic bites in full click here.

The Indigenous Eye Health unit travels to remote communities and teaches face hygiene. Photo: Jack Snape. Image source: ABC News.

Funding for Winnunga’s jail model of care

ACT Government says it is prioritising funding for community sector organisations that provide essential services and programs to Canberrans in crisis. Some the programs and organisations that will receive funding through the 2022–23 ACT Budget include: meeting health needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander detainees at the Alexander Maconochie Centre (AMC). The ACT Government will provide $9.40 million dollars over four years to continue a holistic model of health service delivery for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander detainees. The funding will support the continuation of the Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health and Community Services’ model of care at the AMC.

To view the ACT Government website page More funding for the ACT community sector in full click here.

AMC cell converted into an Australian-first Indigenous health clinic in 2019. Photo: Jamila Toderas. Image source: The Canberra Times.

First Nations aged care voice boosted

The Federal Government has appointed Yugambeh woman Jody Currie to the National Aged Care Advisory Council. The appointment of Ms Currie, a member of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Ageing and Aged Care Council, is part of efforts to close the gap in design and delivery of aged care programs and services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Assistant Indigenous Health Minister Malarndirri McCarthy said First Nation voices were vital in the implementation of aged care reforms.

“For far too long older First Nations people have experienced barriers to accessing aged care services in their homes and communities,” she said. “To address service gaps and improve access to care, we must include Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander voices in the design, discussion and implementation of aged care reforms.” While 27% of non-Indigenous people participate in the aged care system’s key programs, only 17% of Aboriginal Elders participate.

In WA’s south-west, including Perth, the gap is the largest in the country, with only 8.6% of Elders participating in aged care programs. Aboriginal Community Elders Aged Care Partnership for Perth and South-West WA chairman Jim Morrison said there was discrimination in the ability for Aboriginal older people to access culturally appropriate aged care services. “All Stolen Generation people will be (at least) 50 next year, and we will qualify for aged care,” he said. “We want to consider our elder care and look after our older people…and it might be that our elder care centres be healing centres where our Elders can depend on their culture.”

To view the National Indigenous Times article Jody Currie gains Federal appointment to tackle ‘discrimination’ in aged care system in full click here.

Image source: Compass (an EAAA project) website.

Shocking treatment of mental health patients

First Nations Victorians are being restrained and secluded at a higher rate than the general population, a shocking new report by the state’s peak mental health advocacy body has revealed. The Victorian Mental Illness Awareness Council (VMIAC) third Seclusion Report found more than 5% of people admitted to Victorian mental health facilities subjected to seclusion were Indigenous, despite First Nations people making up just 3.5% of total people admitted. The rate of restraint among Indigenous patients was also higher at 4.6%. The findings come one year after the Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System found poor mental health and substance use disorders accounted for as much as 14% of the health gap between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people.

VMIAC CEO Craig Wallace said the new data made it clear why First Nations people might be apprehensive to seek help. “It’s these mental health services and the acute units where people are supposed to go to feel safe,” he said. “And then they’re being harmed by these practices, and traumatised by these practices. That makes people really concerned about seeking help in the future, knowing that these things have happened to them or could happen to them.” Djab Wurrung and Gunditjmara woman and Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (VACCHO) social and emotional wellbeing executive director Sheree Lowe said the figures revealed in the report the tip of the iceberg. “(The figures) indicate that people might have been secluded twice in their stay,” she said.

To view the National Indigenous Times article Restraint, seclusion of Indigenous mental health patients in Victoria laid bare in damning report in full click here.

Image source: Melbourne University Pursuit.

SEWB services consultation survey

NACCHO is conducting a consultation survey to better understand the social and emotional wellbeing (SEWB) services, support and coordination provided to communities by Affiliates and ACCHOs. The survey has been developed in partnership with Professor Pat Dudgeon from the Transforming Indigenous Mental Health and Wellbeing (TIMHWB) project, led by the University of Western Australia. Responses to this survey will help to build a national picture of what SEWB services and support are currently available, help to map SEWB services nationally, and identify service gaps. This evidence base will inform NACCHO’s advocacy to government for improved support to Affiliates and ACCHOs to deliver SEWB services and inform policy development.

The survey covers the following topics:

  • SEWB services and support
  • SEWB workforce and training
  • barriers to providing SEWB services or support
  • other SEWB activities that your organisation may be involved in.

NACCHO members should have received a link to the survey, and we are keen to hear from all of you! The survey will be open until Sunday 7 August 2022. If you have any questions about the survey, please reach out to Sasha Banjavcic-Booker, Senior Advisor Mental Health Policy and Programs via email or call 0409 919 398.

VACCHO Biannual Statewide Social and Emotional Wellbeing Gathering. Image source: VACCHO website.

headspace Grad Program applications open

Applications for the headspace Graduate Program 2023 have now opened for First Nations Allied Health Graduate roles.

These rewarding positions will be situated in a clinical team at a headspace centre and closely linked to the First Nations Wellbeing & Healing Division at headspace National. You’ll work alongside passionate people and make a real difference to young people, families, and communities. Where you’ll hit the ground running and continue developing your skills and career in youth mental health/social and emotional wellbeing. Find your place at headspace.

These graduate positions are designed to provide social work, occupational therapy and psychology graduates access to a two-year comprehensive youth mental health training and development program with support of cultural supervision.

Further information about this opportunity, including our First Nations information and yarning session, can be accessed at the headspace Graduation program website available here.

Applications close Monday 22 August 2022.

Data shows kids picking up healthy habits

Two-thirds of Indigenous children in Victoria are meeting encouraging levels of key wellbeing indicators, according to a report from a pair of leading health researchers. The results, courtesy of the Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (VACCHO) and Deakin University’s Institute for Health Transformation (IHT) found the vast majority of 9–12 year olds are getting enough sleep, practice a healthy diet with 84% meeting physical activity guidelines.

VACCHO and IHT also found relatively low levels of excess screen time, and a correlation between eating well and higher social and emotional wellbeing. Their Aboriginal Data and Action on Prevention Together report surveyed primary school students in 18 local government areas of the state’s Great South Coast, Goulburn Valley and Ovens Murray regions in 2019.

“Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children are the future of the world’s oldest population, and in my 25-plus years working in Aboriginal health there has always been limited data that can inform and assist us with decision making around improving health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in Victoria,” VACCHO CEO Jill Gallagher said. “Improving access to affordable healthy food is an important part of improving the holistic health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children – our future.”

To view the National Indigenous Times article Encouraging data reveals Indigenous Victorian children picking up healthy eating, excercise habits click here.

The Deadly Koolinga Chef Program involves cooking classes that teach skills in food and nutrition essential to improving Aboriginal health outcomes. Image source: Murdoch University Research Tweet 4 March 2021.

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.

National Homelessness Week

Homelessness Week is held annually across the nation to raise awareness of people experiencing homelessness. It’s also a time reflect on the collective action needed by community and all levels of government to help break the cycle of homelessness. In Australia there are over 116,000 people experiencing homelessness on any given night. Homelessness Week aims to raise awareness of the impact of homelessness on Australia via national and local community events, including providing information on the importance of housing as a solution and educating communities on how they can make a difference.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples made up 3% of the Australian population in 2016. However, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples accounted for 20% (23,437 persons) (down from 26% in 2011) of all persons who were homeless on Census night in 2016. For further information about Aboriginal homelessness in Australia click here.

The theme for Homelessness Week 2022 is To end homelessness we need a plan. A range of resources are available on the Homelessness Australia website here including social media tiles, web banners, email signatures, posters and messaging to support your advocacy. One on the website you can also register for the Homelessness Week 2022 launch from 12:00 PM–1:30 PM Monday 1 August 2022.

Image source: The MHS Learning Network.

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Remote mob with disability in desperate situations

Image in feature tile is of Emily Sherwood who has to share Tennant Creek’s main street with trucks because her scooter does not cope on non-sealed terrain. Photo: Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability. Image source: ABC News.

Remote mob with disability in desperate situations

A mother resorted to rummaging through a rubbish tip to find spare parts for her daughter’s wheelchair, the disability royal commission was told last week. The First Nations woman was among many in remote communities who spoke of trying to navigate a system with no “cultural competence”. The Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability was also told the “one size fits all” approach of the NDIS wasn’t working and showed “a complete lack of understanding” of the lives of First Nations people with disability.

The royal commission travelled to Alice Springs to hear firsthand from First Nations people with disability about the barriers they faced to get the appropriate supports from the NDIS. Approximately 66,000 First Nations people live with severe disability. About 38,500 are NDIS participants and 10% of those live in remote and very remote communities. 28 witnesses, including 13 with lived experience, gave evidence about their lives in West Arnhem Land, Thursday Island, Fitzroy Crossing, Tennant Creek and Alice Springs.

Pat Turner, the CEO of peak body the NACCHO, said the needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people were not taken into account when developing the NDIS. She said it had resulted in a system that had “created accessibility and gaps at best, and exploitation at worst.” Ms Turner said the NDIS assessment process was open to “unconscious bias” because of a lack of “cultural competency” in the organisation and scheme. “If you don’t have that cultural respect and understanding throughout the organisation you are not going to have the returns on the investment.” Ms Turner said improvements for the lives of First Nations people with disability were being made through the Remote Community Connectors Program (RCCP).

To view the ABC News article ‘Desperate situations’ of First Nations people with disability living in remote communities laid bare at royal commission in full click here.

‘Daisy’ said her wheelchair had been damaged for “a long time”. Photo: Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability. Image source: ABC News.

APPLY NOW for the Antimicrobial Academy

CPD Accredited

Amazing opportunity for any health worker or health professional working in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health sector to gain valuable skills to address antibiotics use and resistance in your community.

• 5-month program August – December 2022
• Fortnightly Zoom sessions
• Certificate upon completion

Candidate nominations to participate will come from interested health care organisations who support the candidate to develop skills and implement change in their organisation. Fostering colleagues with these skillsets will be critical for safe prescribing, improved stewardship and advocacy to ensure that remote living Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians are included in national efforts to address antimicrobial use and resistance.

For more information on how you can join this program click here.

Applications close midnight Sunday 24 July 2022.

Mob lived with more anxiety about COVID-19

At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the federal government’s pandemic response struggled to include the country’s most minoritised groups, including First Nations people. Daily press conferences were broadcast, but the messages were not delivered or received equally across the country. Trust in the people delivering the messages and ability to follow health advice varies according to personal, social and cultural experiences..

A study has found First Nations people in rural NSW experienced significantly more anxiety and fear about COVID-19 than non-First Nations Australians. At the beginning of the pandemic Australia’s strategy resulted in low numbers of infected people until the Delta variant emerged. Then First Nations rural and remote communities were essentially left to fend for themselves. Even though First Nations people were found to be at greater risk of death and illness during past influenza pandemics.

The Aboriginal community-controlled health sector’s strengths based communication strategy led to culturally appropriate responses including the creation of pandemic tool kits and infection control advice. In some places this included closing remote communities and developing localised social media campaigns for these sites.

To view The Conversation article First Nations people in rural NSW lived with more anxiety and fear about COVID-19 than non-First Nations people in full click here.

At the beginning of the vaccine rollout, First Nations people were identified as a high priority list. Despite this, access to the vaccine for First Nations communities was quite limited. Photo: Dan Himbrechts, AAP. Image source: The Conversation.

Addressing NT GP shortage critical

Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) leaders are visiting Alice Springs to meet with local GPs today (Monday 18 July 2022) and discuss how to address the Territory’s GP shortage and improve patient health outcomes. RACGP President Adj. Professor Karen Price said “The GP shortage is an issue right across Australia, and it’s particularly bad for many rural and remote communities in the Northern Territory. Lack of access to general practice care has a very negative impact on people’s lives. Those living in rural and remote communities often have poorer health outcomes compared to people living in cities, including higher rates of chronic disease and more complex health needs. For example, the latest Australian Institute of Health and Welfare data shows people living outside major cities have higher rates of diabetes, asthma and arthritis.”

Adj. Professor Price continued “More support for culturally safe healthcare for Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander people is also critical to close the gap and achieve health equality. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people experience a disease burden 2.3 times that of non-Indigenous people – this is shameful. And we know that culturally inappropriate services and the experience of racism is a key barrier to care for communities, which is why cultural competency training for health practitioners and services is so important. We are also urging the Government to invest in longer consultations for complex cases – which would make a real difference for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and communities, because we know they are more likely to need these consultations due to higher rates of chronic health issues, and multimorbidity which requires more time to care.”

To view The National Tribune article RACGP Leaders meeting GPs in Alice Springs to tackle workforce concerns in full click here.

Dr Melanie Matthews, Mala’la Aboriginal Corporation Health Service, Maningrida, Arnhem Land NT. Image source: ABC News.

Community-based smoking cessation research

A ground-breaking Newcastle-based study is set to help Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women quit smoking. The ‘Which Way?’ findings, published today (Monday 18 July 2022) in the Medical Journal of Australia (MJA), is the first Indigenous-led study developed for, and by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women to develop ways to quit smoking. The project found that resources and funding is urgently needed to improve culturally safe and effective support for pregnant Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women who are trying to quit smoking.

University of Newcastle research fellow Michelle Kennedy led the three-year study to find culturally effective quitting methods. “A lot of evidence that we use when we are developing or implementing services to quit smoking are drawn from the general population or even overseas and implemented in an Aboriginal community and what we find is that they are usually not successful,” said Dr Kennedy. “The project specifically looked at what is of interest to women of reproductive age to try and stop them from smoking before or during their first pregnancy, or ahead of subsequent pregnancies. Smoking and pregnancy is a key target for the ‘Closing the Gap’ campaign and it has been ever since it was established,” said Dr Kennedy. “We know that it impacts our low birth weight babies which is a real concern because that hasn’t changed much over the years of the campaign but we have never found that thing that is going to help empower Aboriginal women to quit smoking in pregnancy.”

To view the Newcastle Herald article Newcastle based study finds ways to help Aboriginal women quit smoking in full click here. You can also MJA article Doing “deadly” community‐based research during COVID‐19: the Which Way? study in full click here. Below is a short video of Dr Kennedy explaining the Which Way? study.

Trauma leaves a mark on our genes

Freud once famously said that the child is the father of the man. However, even the good doctor probably never imagined just how true this statement would prove. Indeed, science is increasingly demonstrating that the child of trauma often bears many sons and daughters. Traumatic experiences, the evidence suggests, don’t just change us for a time. Rather, they can leave seemingly indelible marks that endure across multiple generations. The stigmata of trauma are neither figurative nor behavioural, though. Instead, the alterations induced by trauma occur from the inside out, marking us on the genetic level even as they change us on the psychological and behavioural levels.

The article covers: 1) the Genetic Basis of PTSD and Other Mental Illnesses 2) Traumatic Childhood Experiences and Gene Expression, and 3) Generational Trauma and PSTD.

Traumatic experience of poverty, intergenerational racism has been linked to higher rates of physical and mental health conditions among Indigenous groups in Australia, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Once again, this can be connected not only to the deleterious effects of economic and healthcare inequities, but also to the generational impacts of chronic stress, fear, and anxiety in the face of racial trauma. Trauma can inflict pain that lasts not only for a lifetime but for generations. Indeed, traumatic experiences, especially those occurring in childhood, can produce heritable genetic alterations that may leave one’s descendants at elevated risk for mental illnesses, such as PTSD.

To view the Open Forum article Trauma leaves a mark on our genes in full click here. Below is a short video about intergenerational trauma produced by The Healing Foundation.

Excellence in Health Care Medal winner

The AMA Queensland Excellence in Health Care Medal has been awarded to Professor Cindy Shannon AM, a First Nations woman and Emeritus Professor who has led major reforms in Indigenous health. Prof Shannon is a descendant of the Ngugi people from Moreton Bay and is one of Australia’s foremost higher education Indigenous leaders. She is the first Pro Vice Chancellor (Indigenous) at Griffith University, where she works alongside colleagues to enable all aspects of the university’s First Nations engagement. Prof Shannon led the development and implementation of Australia’s first degree level program for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health workers.

She also played a key role in supporting the establishment of the Institute for Urban Indigenous Health, which improves the health of First Nations people across South-East Queensland. She was recognised as a Queensland Great in 2017 and was made a Member of the Order of Australia in 2020 for her contributions to Indigenous health and medical education. “Prof Shannon has made a massive contribution and lasting legacy to Indigenous health in Queensland and we are very proud to award her with the Excellence in Health Care medal,” Dr Boulton said.

To view the AMA Queensland article Top doctors win AMA Qld awards in full click here.

Professor Cindy Shannon. Photo: Glenn Hunt. Image source: Brisbane 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.

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Thurs 30.6.22

Image is feature tile is of health staff working long hours to test residents in Bidyadanga. Photo: KAMS. Image source: ABC News 28 February 2022.

KAMS’ quick response to COVID-19

At last week’s Communicable Diseases and Immunisation Conference, Dr Lorraine Anderson shared some valuable insights from the Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Service’s (KAMS) response to COVID-19.

Medical director at KAMS, Anderson showcased their quick response to the pandemic, urging all conference delegates to consider the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (ACCHO) model of care to “help bring all people on board in the health space”.

In her presentation, Anderson said that communication, leadership, governance and the prioritisation of Aboriginal cultural and spiritual ways, self-determination and empowerment were critical.

To view the Croakey Health Media article Aboriginal leadership key to successful management of COVID-19 in the Kimberley region in full, including Anderson’s full presentation, as delivered at the conference on 21 June 2022 click here.

Vaughan Matsumoto, Senior Aboriginal Practitioner at the Beagle Bay clinic receives a coronavirus vaccine. Photo: KAMS, AAP. Image source: The Conversation.

Leading the way to improve RHD outcomes

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, between 5 and 15 years of age are 55 times more likely to die from rheumatic heart disease (RHD) than other Australian children. The broader Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population are 15 times more likely to be diagnosed with RHD than other Australians. The prevalence of acute rheumatic fever (ARF) is also significant. This was released in a report by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) in April 2022.  

To address these alarming issues, NACCHO will develop a new service delivery model for the national Rheumatic Fever Strategy (RFS), for the prevention, treatment, and management of RHD and ARF. This model will be co-designed with the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health sector. 

A Joint Advisory Committee (JAC) will oversee the strategy and be co-chaired by NACCHO and the Australian Government Department of Health. The JAC has been established to create a nationally cohesive approach to ARF and RHD, with a focus on improving care pathways and RHD data and includes representatives from: 

  • State and Territory Government Health representatives – NT, QLD, SA, and WA 
  • NACCHO Affiliates – NT, QLD, SA, and WA 
  • Heart Foundation 
  • Australian Medical Association
  • Members of the NACCHO RHD Expert Working Group.

A NACCHO RHD Expert Working Group has also been established and comprises representatives from the ACCHO sector.   

The JAC will meet bi-monthly during the establishment phase of the program. A meeting communique will be publicly available and provided to relevant stakeholders.  

Click here to read the JAC February 2022 communique.  

If you would like to be kept informed about progress in this space, you can contact the NACCHO RHD team using this email link.

Dr Josh Francis, Shannon Brown and Trey Brown in Maningrida. Photo: Mike Hill, Take Heart Program. Image source: NRHA Partyline on-line magazine.

Decolonising healthcare – a call to action

In her final story from the 21st International Conference on Emergency Medicine, Dr Amy Coopes has written about the call to decolonise healthcare, and for health workers to challenge “inequity and injustice in their work”. Dr Coopes explains that structural inequities and injustices as a legacy of colonisation can only be dismantled by acknowledging that a script of subjugation continues to be played out in healthcare settings, perpetuating a cycle of prejudice and ill health for oppressed peoples.

Disrupting this narrative is urgent work for all healthcare professionals, and begins with reflexive action, interrogating the motivations, power imbalances and potential for oppression, violence and injustice in our practices and approaches in health. These were the central messages of a compelling call to action for emergency doctors at a recent global summit held in Melbourne centred on the themes of equity, sustainability and innovation.

To view the Croakey Health Media article Decolonising healthcare: a call for equity in action in full click here.

REFOCUS makes profound difference

This year’s NAIDOC Week theme is Get Up! Stand Up! Show Up! and it calls on the community to rally for systemic change and continue to support and secure institutional, structural, collaborative and co-operative reforms.

On a local level, one organisation working day in, day out to make a difference is REFOCUS. The charity is making a profound difference in the wellbeing of Indigenous youth and their families across the region. REFOCUS has been delivering wellbeing support services to the Sunshine Coast, Moreton Bay and Gympie regions since 2010.

The charity stands for ‘Redirecting and Empowering Families through Culturally Unique Services’ and provides a range of programs to support children to reach their full potential. REFOCUS CEO Darcy Cavanagh first began working in the youth and child protection sector in 1998 and knows firsthand the need for this type of support in the local community. “My interest in this line of work comes from my brief experience of being placed in the foster care system with my two brothers and the life that followed being returned home,” he says.

Launching REFOCUS with six staff, and now with a team more than 60, the charity supports thousands of individuals through a variety of programs across its catchment area, with a specific focus on children under 18. Programs include family wellbeing services, family participation programs, NDIS support services, foster and kinship care as well as Aboriginal medical service Gunyah of Wellness.

To view the My Weekly article It’s time to come together in full click here and to access the REFOCUS website click here.

Calls for VIC Treaty Authority

Last week, Co-chairs of the First People’s Assembly of Victoria called on Victorian parliamentarians to pass legislation enabling the establishment of the Treaty Authority in Victoria. In what Bangerang and Wiradjuri Elder Aunty Geraldine Atkinson described as an “umpire” independent from government, a Treaty Authority would “support Treaty-making in Victoria between the First Peoples of Victoria and the state government.”

Marcus Stewart, a proud Nira illim bulluk man of the Taungurung Nation, said “the Treaty Authority agreement is decolonisation in action”. Although an agreement has been signed between the First People’s Assembly and the Victorian Government, legislation is required to facilitate the operation of Authority. The Treaty Authority bill passed the Victorian Parliament’s lower house last week.

To view the Croakey Health Media article Lore, law and cultural authority at the heart of Victorian Treaty Authority in full click here.

Image source: Croakey Health Media.

Census lacks detail about people’s lives

The census counted 812,728 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people on census night, making up 3.2% of the total people counted. That’s up from 649,171 in the 2016 census, an increase of over 25%. Many have estimated the population prior to the arrival of the British was between 750,000 and 1 million. So the exciting news is in only 234 years we are nearing pre-colonial numbers.

Whenever there is an increase in the numbers of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, there is always speculation as to why. Of course the politics of identity is always at play. There will be the usual commentary that targets the way people look in those old arguments that refer to skin colour as the measure of who counts as Aboriginal and the idea that lighter skin signifies less Indigenous or no Indigenous identity at all.

These worn out tropes never take into consideration that colonial policies and practices such as those that led to the Stolen Generations directly targeted people with mixed heritage. These targeted people suffered unimaginable violence in the nation’s mission to breed the colour out of us.

But unfortunately, given the lack of information in the census about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ lives, we can’t be sure if overall health among Indigenous people is improving and why lifespans seem to be improving. And the census has failed to investigate other ways Indigenous people may choose to identify, and how we live as families.

To view the SBS NITV article OPINION: First Nations population has increased, but census lacks details about Indigenous lives in full click here.

Three generation Aboriginal family. Image source: CHF Journal Health Voices – June 2022 edition.

Preparation for work in communities

Charles Sturt University paramedicine students and First Nations mental health students recently participated in training scenarios as part of their preparation for work in communities throughout Australia.

Associate Head of School – Paramedicine Dr Sonja Maria in the Charles Sturt School of Nursing, Paramedicine and Healthcare Sciences in Bathurst said the scenarios were designed to give both groups of students insights into the possible needs of First Nations patients and how the paramedics in particular operate when on-call. Dr Maria said the interdisciplinary training day was created with the assistance of Dr Jola Stewart-Bugg, the Discipline Leader for First Nations at Charles Sturt.

To read the Charles Sturt University article ‘Together we are stronger’; health students strive for better First Nations patient outcomes in full click here.

Charles Sturt University (CSU) paramedicine students and First Nations mental health students in training. Image source: CSU 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.

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Time to end First Nations “economic apartheid”

Image in feature tile is of shack outside of Tennant Creek. Image source: ABC News.

Time to end First Nations “economic apartheid”

Experts from The Australian National University (ANU) have raised alarm bells about the “economic apartheid” facing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and are calling for an urgent, nation-wide strategic approach to ensure their economic self-determination. This is the key theme of a landmark series of events to be held this week and led by the ANU First Nations Portfolio.

A first for Australia, the forum and symposium will chart the path to First Nations Australians’ economic development, wealth creation and a self-determined economy. Professor Peter Yu AM, Vice-President First Nations at ANU, said Australia remains the only Commonwealth country to have never signed a treaty with its Indigenous people.

To view the ANU’s media release Time to end First Nations “economic apartheid” in full click here.

A town camp outside Alice Springs, NT. Photo: Children’s Ground. Image source: The Guardian.

Children protection system under fire

Every year, Australia’s child safety departments remove thousands of children from their parents on the grounds they are not safe at home and need urgent protection. In doing so, the government becomes their guardian, taking responsibility for their lives. Far from being safe, some of these children are then preyed upon by the very people the government has vetted to look after them.

Indigenous children are 10 times more likely to be removed from their families. Departmental policy dictates that they are then placed with Indigenous carers to maintain contact with their culture, but that doesn’t always happen. Instead, Aboriginal children can languish in care hours from their land while some workers dismiss signs of sexual abuse in First Nations children as “cultural” behaviour.

Lisa Wellington from Aboriginal women’s health and welfare organisation Waminda said the child protection system had been failing Indigenous families since it had been set up. “In order for change to happen, the department needs to engage with the Indigenous community and listen to the families and walk alongside them,” she said.

To view the ABC article Bad Parent in full click here.

Image source: Aboriginal Family Legal Services website.

Health reform issues for new government 

Is Australia on the verge of a long-awaited and sorely needed move towards cooperative federalism to drive health reform? Encouraging noises to this effect have emerged from the first National Cabinet meeting (Friday 16 June) since the Federal election.

The NSW Premier said there had been “a real focus of working with the States and Territories in relation to substantive health reform going forward” something that had “been in the too-hard basket for too long.” The Queensland Premier said it had been “a refreshing change to be able to discuss health. Previously, we have tried to get this on the agenda. We’ve got a PM who listens and understands that health is a big issue and it is a national issue that’s affecting everybody across our nation”.

The Victorian Premier said: “…on behalf of every nurse, every ambo, every doctor, every patient in Victorian public hospitals I want to thank the Prime Minister. Politics was put aside at this meeting and we’ve put patients first and that is the most important thing. Now, the test for all of us will be to work hard in the weeks and months to come, to come up with practical ways in which we can make the system work as a true system.”

Associate Professor Lesley Russell will monitor the efforts of the Albanese Government to deliver on their election commitments in health, healthcare, Indigenous health and climate change (and in fact any issue that improves the health status and reduces the health disparities of Australians).

To view the Croakey Health Media article The Health Wrap: as National Cabinet sets a course for health reform, here are some key issues to address in full click here.

Image source: Choose Your Own Health Career website.

Call for action against racism, racial violence 

A Brisbane author brought her defiant call to action against racism and racial violence to Cherbourg last week, welcoming South Burnett community members to the Ration Shed Museum for a workshop on her 2021 book ‘Another Day in the Colony’. ‘Another Day in the Colony’ has attracted praise from fellow academics as well as members of the public, who commend the author on her uncompromising truth-telling and exposure of Australia’s intolerance.

“While I work as an academic, the book was written just for anyone to read – I wanted to write for mob and wanted my kids to be able to read it, regardless of whether they got a degree or not,” Dr Watego explained. “The thing that’s really hit me is mob getting back to me and saying ‘you wrote what I feel! You gave a language to what I already knew but didn’t know how to express.’

“Mob have been really moved by it, and that’s what I wanted to do – I wanted to speak to the souls of blackfellas. That’s the beautiful part: not the reprints, but the imprint it’s had on the community.”

To view the Burnett Today South, Central & North article Cherbourg Celebrates book tour in full click here.

Dr Chelsea Watego and her book Another Day in the Colony.

Top 3 men’s health questions

In celebration of Men’s Health Week (13-19 June 2022), Dr Lucas de Toca from the Australian Government Department of health has spoken on how family history and lifestyle impact our health and provides tips to help maintain a healthy lifestyle. The three top questions answered by Dr de Toca are:

  • What is Men’s Health Week?
  • How can men build healthier outcomes and reduce the risk of chronic disease?
  • How can men better engage with Australia’s health services?

To view the Department of Health’s Top 3 Qs article click here.

Health conference abstracts FINAL CALL

A final call for abstracts for the upcoming Ngar-wu Wanyarra Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health Conference is being put out. The closing date is just one week away – COB Monday 27 June 2022.

For further event information click here and to register to present click here.

Adam Goodes (virtually attending) and Sue-Anne Hunter will be keynote speakers at The 7th Annual Ngar-wu Wanyarra Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health Conference.

Mob left out of low unemployment figures

The National Employment Services Association says First Nations people and other disadvantaged Australians are being left out of record low unemployment figures. Last week the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) data reported unemployment remained at a record low 3.9% in May.

The real numbers were much higher. The employment rate among Indigenous Australians is considerably lower than it is for the rest of the population. Many First Nations people have historically been excluded from statistical analysis such as employment figures. Historically Aboriginal Torres Strait Islander peoples unemployment rates have sat fairly consistently at three times that of their non Indigenous counterparts.

Discrimination is a factor in the employment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. That is ever so slowly changing so that disparity you know is trending in the right way, but not rapidly. To view the National Indigenous Times article Industry peak body calls out Indigenous exclusion in latest unemployment rates in full click here.

Image source: Monash University Lens 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.

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Save money on medicines, register for CTG scripts

Save money on medicines, register for CTG scripts

As of 1 July 2022, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people must be registered correctly with Services Australia Health Professional Online Services (HPOS) to continue to claim benefits for their medicine scripts, through the Closing the Gap (CTG) Pharmacy Benefits Scheme (PBS) program.

Unfortunately, not all patients who previously received CTG prescriptions were transferred to the new database, resulting in some people paying more for their medicines.

Check with your local doctor or health service today, to help register you as soon as possible to avoid paying full price for medicines from 1 July.

Dr Dawn Casey, Deputy CEO NACCHO said, “We welcome the reforms to the CTG PBS database but are concerned not all eligible patients have been correctly registered. Potentially thousands of patients may have to pay more for medicines on 1st of July, so please check your registration with your pharmacy and doctor now.”

For further information about the CTG PBS program click here.

The Department of Health reminder letter regarding the CTG PBS program can be found here.

Download this poster that you can put up at your services here and images for Facebook/Twitter here and Instagram here.

We urge you to please do share this across all your networks.

200+ years of injustice – is redress likely?

Opinion columnist David Fickling leads a recent article with ‘Talk is easy. Political change is hard. In Australia, it’s more than two centuries overdue.’ He goes on to write: ‘Claiming victory in last month’s election, new PM Anthony Albanese’s first words were a vow to redress the unfinished business from the colonial invasion of 1788. His promise to “commit to the Uluru Statement from the Heart” — a set of political demands from Indigenous groups, first outlined in 2017 — puts Australia on the path to the most substantive constitutional change it’s seen in more than half a century. If the resulting referendum succeeds, the country may wind up with a new First Nations elected chamber, an array of treaties with state and federal governments, and a truth and reconciliation commission.

Adopting the Uluru Statement would ensure Indigenous people are “given a seat at the decision-making table where it comes to laws and policies that affect us,” Dani Larkin, a legal lecturer at the University of New South Wales and Bundjalung and Kungarykany woman. Megan Davis, a Cobble Cobble woman and constitutional lawyer instrumental in the drafting of the Uluru Statement, wrote in a 2015 essay on the halting process of reform saying  “Public policy no longer requires the imprimatur of the Aboriginal people; Aboriginal participation in the decisions taken about their lives is negligible.”

To view the The Print article How Australia is likely to redress two centuries of injustice towards indigenous groups in full click here.

Photo: Luas Cosh, AAP. Image source: The Guardian.

Coonamble ACCHO needs a dentist

The Coonamble Dental Surgery remains without a resident dentist and the Coonamble Aboriginal Health Service (CAHS) says that the hole left by the departure of the last dentist is a problem for the whole community. “The previous dentist left in December for bigger and better things,” said CAHS CEO Phil Naden. “That left us in a challenging position to recruit a permanent dentist and we’ve been relying on locum dentists since before Christmas.”

According to Mr Naden, CAHS have been pulling out all stops to find a new permanent dentist and the package on offer is very competitive, “We’ve tried every avenue we can think off over the last 6 months to make it as attractive as possible in competition with other areas, but we are challenged with recruiting a full time dentist. While it is CAHS’ responsibility to recruit a dentist, ensuring that the service continues, oral health is closely linked to chronic disease and if we can’t have treatment locally the matter is a community issue and we need some longer term solutions.”

To view the Coonamble Times article Dentist vacancy starting to bite article in full click here.

CAHS Executive Assistant Beau Ewers with one of the chairs at Coonamble Dental Surgery in need of an on-site dentist. Image source: The Coonamble Times.

‘Go Rural’ program inspires medical students

The Rural Doctors Network (RDN) recently took 20 medical, nursing and allied health students on a number of immersive excursions to GP clinics, hospitals and multipurpose services. The trip’s western region leg spanned from Dubbo to Nyngan, Cobar, and Wilcannia. Research published in the Medical Journal of Australia showed rural exposure during medical training was key to getting medical students to consider leaving capital cities for the bush after graduation.

A massive part of that effort is educating, familiarising future healthcare workers with the unique healthcare needs Aboriginal people living regionally. RDN Future Workforce Manager Chris Russell said communicating the importance of Aboriginal Medical Services, and the role they played in the whole community, was best done in person. “It allows [students] to get some insight into Aboriginal culture and people and the specific healthcare needs they have,” he said.

To view the ABC News article Rural road trip gives health students a taste of life and work in western NSW amid staff shortage in full click here.

The students toured Dubbo Base Hospital as part of the Rural Doctors Network ‘Go Rural’ program.Photo supplied by the NSW Rural Doctors Network. Image source: ABC News.

Public drunkenness health-based response

The Andrews Labor Government is ensuring the right programs and systems are in place to help people who are drunk in public get the support they need to stay safe. Minister for Health Martin Foley today announced $50 million over two years to continue the trial site operations that will help develop a health-based response to public drunkenness ahead of the state-wide rollout of the reforms.

Four trial sites will begin operating in the City of Yarra, City of Greater Dandenong, City of Greater Shepparton and Castlemaine from mid-year onwards and be managed in partnership with local health services and Aboriginal organisations. These trials will inform how a new public health model will be rolled out across the state. The investment will provide outreach services in all four trial locations and sobering facilities in Yarra, Dandenong and Shepparton – ensuring intoxicated people are transported to a safe place where they can receive appropriate support.

To read the Victorian Health Minister’s media release Delivering a Health-Based Response to Public Drunkenness click here.

Family of Tanya Day – a mother, grandmother and proud Yorta Yorta woman – who died in a holding cell after being arrested for public drunkenness. Photo: Nicole Asher, ABC News.

Nominate a mental health hero

With the pressures of COVID-19 restrictions, followed by the current cost of living crisis, the work of mental health professionals has rarely been so important. Now is the time to put them in the spotlight and recognise the amazing work they do in communities across Australia. On Tuesday 14 June 2022, nominations will open for the Australian Mental Health Prize, which seeks to recognise the important and ground-breaking work that many Australians do in this area.

This year, the prize has expanded to accept nominations in four categories:

  • Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander: To recognise and celebrate outstanding Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander mental health leadership at a national or community level;
  • Lived experience: To recognise and celebrate outstanding mental health leadership by someone with lived experience of mental health, either personally or as a supporter, at a national level;
  • Professional: To recognise and celebrate outstanding mental health leadership in the clinical, academic or professional sectors at a national level; and
  • Community hero: To recognise and celebrate outstanding mental health leadership at a state or community level.

Henry Brodaty, Professor of Ageing and Mental Health at UNSW, said “While we will continue to recognise people who have dedicated their lives to improving the mental health of Australians, we specifically wanted to shine a light on the incredible work of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mental health leaders. People with lived experience have so much insight and wisdom to share. We also wanted to recognise our community heroes, as a great deal of innovative work begins at a grass-roots level in local communities.”

You can nominate a deserving Seymour and district-based mental health professional by visiting the UNSW Sydney Australian Mental Health Prize webpage here.

You can view the Kyabram Free Press article Honouring Seymour’s mental health heroes in full here.

Suicide prevention consultation in Balgo community, WA. Photo supplied by KAMS. Image source: NIT website.

Healing Circle facilitator training program

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit in 2020, causing shockwaves of isolation and trauma throughout Australia, Kultchafi Managing Director Ara ‘Julga’ Harathunian made a commitment to support the healing of individuals and communities right across the nation. Two years later, an innovative and ground-breaking Healing Circle Work Facilitator Training program has been officially launched. The training will be showcased again at the National Rural Health Alliance’s 16th National Rural Health Conference in August and at the 23rd International Mental Health Conference being held by the Australian and NZ Mental Health Association (ANZMA) in September.

“My wife, Aboriginal Elder Aunty Cheri ‘Yingaa’ Yavu-Kama-Harathunian, devoted her life to the development of Healing Circle Work right up until her passing in December 2019. We had always committed to share this work for the highest good of others,” says Ara. “Healing Circle Work is not a therapy, but therapeutic outcomes are experienced. It is a healing process based on an ancient Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander methodology. Participants learn to live life in the moment, recognising and understanding their own spirituality, and reaffirming themselves. It is suitable for any trauma, and for Indigenous and non-Indigenous men and women.”

To view the Partyline article Kultchafi healing training rolls out across Australia in full click here and the Kultchafi website page here.

New process for job advertising

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Maningrida flu outbreak worsens

Note: image in the feature tile is of Sharana Turner and her daughter Collette seeking treatment for influenza at Maningrida. Image source: ABC News.

Maningrida flu outbreak worsens

Maningrida. a remote NT Indigenous community is medically evacuating two residents a day as the Top End deals with a “tsunami” of flu cases during its worst outbreak in years. For the past week, one or two people have been flown out of Maningrida — 370 kms from Darwin on the north coast of Arnhem Land — each day due to a severe outbreak of influenza. “These are unprecedented numbers in volumes per day,” local health clinic manager Jessica Gatti said. “The flu season definitely has come a lot earlier and a lot harder than was anticipated, so we didn’t have the opportunity to do a mass vaccination,” she said.

She said management of the flu outbreak was much different to COVID-19. “With COVID-19, there had been so much pre-preparation going into it and we had so many policies and procedures and workflows around how we were going to internally manage an outbreak,” Ms Gatti said. “The flu outbreak is definitely worse in the sense that it’s a huge strain on the staffing and on the patients in that [we’re] trying to see them all in a timely manner.

AMSANT CEO John Paterson said Maningrida was not the only community struggling to contain outbreaks of influenza. He said the flu season normally peaked in August or September in the NT. “For some unknown reason, it’s arrived early and it’s caught our clinicians a little bit off guard,” Mr Paterson said.

To view the ABC News article Two patients a day evacuated from Maningrida as flu outbreak worsens in Northern Territory in full click here.

Maningrida on Arnhem Land’s north coast is experiencing a severe influenza outbreak. Photo: Hamish Harty, ABC News.

Galambila receives health and wellbeing funding

Galambila Aboriginal Health Service, which works in and around Coffs Harbour and Bellingen, is one organisation on the Mid North Coast receiving a share of $834,000 that has been granted to eleven regional charities and community groups by the Newcastle Permanent Charitable Foundation for projects improving health and social wellbeing for those most in need, and initiatives supporting disadvantaged and at-risk young people.

Tracy Singleton, CEO at Galambila Aboriginal Health Service said “It’s about improving health and closing the gap. We are looking at ten families every term, so 60 families over twelve months, which is a fair goal. Our footprint takes in Coffs Harbour and Bellingen shires across Gumbaynggirr country – though Gumbaynggirr country is much bigger than that. We have a population of over 5,000 Aboriginal people in our area and I think that if we can reach 60 families that’s a really good start.”

The program will be based around early childhood development. “We may start with something like hearing and bring in speakers and have playgroups where we bring Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families together, that live on Gumbaynggirr country, and they’ll be able to talk through issues that they actually deal with that may not be issues the broader community deal with, so they’re not going to be isolated in what they bring to the table.”

To read the News Of The Area article Galambila Aboriginal Health Service Granted Funding For Health And Wellbeing Program in full click here.

Image source: Galambila Aboriginal Health Service website.

Jail now rehab for First Nations women

A drug and rehabilitation facility to be established in remote Australia is finally offering women battling addiction the chance to seek treatment with their family and on country. Yetta Dhinnikkal Centre, a former prison, sits on more than 10,000 hectares in Brewarrina in north-west NSW and has been vacant since its closure in 2020. The property is now being handed back to the First Nations community for two vital purposes; to become a women’s rehab facility and to be used by the Ngemba Traditional Owners for cultural and agricultural purposes.

The Orana Haven Aboriginal Corporation has taken on the role of turning the former prison into a rehab exclusively for women and will allow them to remain with their children while receiving residential care. Acting CEO Tracy Gordon said there was a serious shortage of services for women struggling with addiction. “We’ve had numerous phone calls for a women’s rehab as well calls to see whether we take all of the family as well,” Ms Gordon said. “It’s just hard when you have to say no, we don’t have the services available. We have eight beds in this area for women to get help with drug or alcohol dependency,” Ms Gordon said. “We provide detox for females but from there, they have to go away.”

To view the ABC News article Jail turned rehab facility in remote NSW offers new hope for First Nations women battling addiction in full click here.

The former prison’s infrastructure will be repurposed into a rehabilitation facility. Image source: ABC News.

Tasmania to raise age of detention

The Tasmanian Minister for Education, Children and Youth, Roger Jaensch, has announced that Tasmania’s minimum age of detention will be raised from 10 to 14 years. This will be one key element in our plan to build a nation-leading, best practice approach to young people in conflict with the law. We know that detention does not support rehabilitation or reduce the likelihood of re-offending for younger children. Early exposure to a detention environment can also further traumatise young people, expose them to problem behaviours of older detainees and increase criminal networks.

You can view Minister Jaensch’s media release in full here.

Amnesty International Australia welcomed the announcement with their Indigenous Rights Advisor, Rodney Dillon, saying: “although we don’t have a lot of detail on the plans at this stage, Amnesty welcomes this significant step in a smarter approach to justice. Putting children in prisons causes irreparable harm, governments know this, but continue to allow children to be subject to this treatment. That the Tasmanian Government has recognised that children don’t belong in prison, and there are alternatives to dealing with crime, is a huge step forward.”

You can view Amnesty International Australia’s media release Tasmania’s commitment to raise the age of detention to 14 welcome, Time to raise the age of criminal responsibility here.

Ashley Youth Detention Centre, Tasmania. Image source: The Examiner.

NT on alert for Japanese encephalitis

NT residents and visitors are being reminded to protect themselves from mosquito bites following an increase in the number of feral pigs that have tested positive for Japanese encephalitis (JE) in the Top End region. Since March 2022, 44 feral pigs infected with JE have been detected in the Victoria Daly, Litchfield, Marrakai-Douglas Daly and Cox-Daly region, as well as the Tiwi Islands.

Nina Kurucz, Director of the Medical Entomology Unit, NT Health, said JE is a serious disease spread by mosquitoes that can infect humans and animals, such as pigs, horses and some birds. “The highest risk period for being bitten by an infected mosquito is after sundown within five kilometres of wetlands where feral pigs and water birds potentially infected with JE are present,” Ms Kurucz said.

To view the NT Government NT Health media release NT on alert for Japanese encephalitis click here and for further information about the Japanese encephalitis virus you can access the Australian Government Department of Health Japanese encephalitis virus (JEV) webpage here.

Launch of national standard of sepsis care

You are invited to the online launch of the first national Sepsis Clinical Care Standard, hosted by the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care.

Sepsis is a life-threatening condition that is difficult to recognise. Early action saves lives and reduces the risk of serious complications and death. The after-effects of sepsis extend beyond the acute crisis, posing challenges for coordinated follow-up in hospital and post-discharge.

Join the webcast from 12:00PM – 1:00PM AEST Thursday 20 June 2022 to hear the experts discuss timely recognition of sepsis, systems to support time-critical management, the ongoing effects of sepsis, and the importance of multidisciplinary, coordinated sepsis care.

This event, The event will be hosted by broadcaster and commentator Julie McCrossin AM, is relevant to all healthcare professionals who may need to recognise and respond to sepsis on the ward, in the emergency department or in pre-hospital and community settings.

To register for the webinar click here.

New Health Professional Education Resource

Health Professional Online Services (HPOS) HPOS is an internet based portal, providing a simple and secure way for health professionals and organisations to do business with government online. HPOS enables online self-service access to government programs, payments and services. You need a Provider Digital Access (PRODA) account to access HPOS. The Health Professional Education Resources Gateway contains an a vast and growing range of customised educational resources for health professionals.

A new education resource that examines HPOS in now available. This new simulation, HPOS Fundamentals, gives providers and their delegates,

  • An insight on setting up HPOS,
  • Overview of the key HPOS features, and
  • Closer analysis of some specific HPOS features.

To view and learn more about the new simulation click here and for further information about the new HPOS education resource 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.

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Stan Grant on knowing how to live well

Image in feature tile is of Stan Grant. Image source: The Monthly.

Stan Grant on knowing how to live well

Wiradjuri and Kamilaroi journalist Stan Grant delivered an impassioned and eloquent keynote address reflecting on the scars of colonisatio at the recent Royal Australian and NZ College of Psychiatrists Congress in Sydney. Grant said that after years of “dragging my history around with me”, which took “an enormous toll”, he decided to leave Australia – a “foreign country, for other people” where he never felt he belonged. “I felt a great sense of liberation, freed from the history of this country and what it does to us, written on our bodies,” he said.

Overseas, reporting on the legacies of “colonisation, empire, dictators and despots, kings appointed by foreign powers”, he recognised in oppressed people, “positioned on the other side of history”, a familiar grief where “only the afflicted know the truth. I saw the eyes of my own family, people for whom all certainty had been removed, who cou;ldn’t believe in the promise of Western liberalism and all it purported to deliver,” he said. Grant reflected on the cumulative trauma of growing up Aboriginal in Australia, culminating for him in a breakdown whilst posted overseas with an “irrepressible surging wave” to end his life. Grant seeing a psychiatrist was very important in his recovery, but absolutely nothing was as important as “standing on my land.”

To view Croakey Health Media article Yindyamarra winhanganha – the wisdom of respectfully knowing how to live well in a world worth living in click here.

You can also watch a video below of Stan Grant delivering a National Reconciliation Week 2022 Keynote Address.

NACCHO CEO welcomes end of cashless debit card

Labor will push ahead with plans to abolish the cashless debit card scheme with Social Services Minister Amanda Rishworth saying last week that she was in discussions to terminate the program, which was a Labor election commitment. She pledged to work with communities to find “better local solutions”. The decision followed an Australian National Audit Office ­report released on Thursday last week which highlighted a lack of evidence to demonstrate the effectiveness of the scheme. “The former Coalition government spent more than $170m on the privatised cashless debit card – money that could have been spent on services locals need,” Ms Rishworth said.

Implemented under the ­Abbott government in 2016, the scheme was designed to encourage socially responsible behaviour by quarantining 80% of a person’s welfare payments on a debit card to prevent it being spent on alcohol and gambling. It was initially introduced in Ceduna, SA, East Kimberley and the Goldfields in WA, and then ­expanded to Bundaberg and Hervey Bay in Queensland. The cost of the program reached $36m in 2020–21, with nearly 17,000 people participating as of February this year.

Pat Turner AM, NACCHO CEO, said the scheme had caused “unnecessary embarrassment” for Indigenous Australians. “I certainly welcome the scrapping of the cashless debit card,” she said. “The Auditor-General’s report confirms what we already knew and why we were so opposed to the scheme. It’s simply poor public policy to run trials as the former government did for five years.”

The above has been extracted from an article by Jess Malcolm’s Cashless welfare card to be folded article published in The Australian on Friday 3 June 2022.

Image source: Crikey, 3 June 2022.

Using culture to turn suicide tide

Rocked by a spate of suicides, Shepparton’s Aboriginal community is using culture to turn the tide It began in October 2021 when a group of Shepparton’s First Nations community members came together in a backyard to figure out how to change the situation on youth suicide rates in town. “We had a cuppa and said, ‘what are we going to do about this?’,” Yorta Yorta woman and founding member of Dunguludja Dana Jean Miller said. “Our kids have been exposed to way too much trauma here, and something needs to be done.” Shepparton is home to the largest Aboriginal community and one of the highest rates of suicide in regional Victoria. Jean Miller said last year the community experienced about seven suicides by youth in just two months. This is when Dunguludja Dana was formed with a purpose to change the numbers. “It’s a Yorta Yorta word for strong pathways or strengthening journeys, and that’s what we want to do, that’s our vision,” Jean Miller said. “It was just about trying to engage our youth and let them know that no matter what life path they’re currently on, there’s always someone that loves them and cares and wants to support them.“ It could be a friend, it could be a cousin, it could be someone they knew in their school, but the impact is a ripple effect.”

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

Each Wednesday, the group run three sessions where First Nations students partake in painting, drawing, charcoal, and burning art – as well as creating possum skin cloaks. Image source: National Indigenous Times.

Undrinkable water, casual racism the reality

Rebecca Davis, a Senior News & Features Writer for MamaMia, has written a lengthy article Undrinkable water and casual racism: The reality of Indigenous health in Australia. In the article Ms Davis includes several accounts from Indigenous women about:

  • undrinkable water contaminated with uranium in Laramba, NT
  • Betty Booth from Doomadgee who died after being given Panadol by the local hospital and told to go home
  • a Melbourne woman routinely soiling herself as her bathroom door is not wide enough for her walker

For her article Ms Davis spoke to Pat Turner, a revered figure; a Gudanji-Arrernte woman with a long history as an Indigenous and women’s rights activist. Aside from being CEO of NACCHO, she was the founding CEO of NITV, and is an advisor to the establishment of an Indigenous voice to government. NACCHO facilitates 144 ACCHOs across the country, bringing comprehensive primary health care to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. It’s not just for Indigenous people – it’s largely run by them too, with more than half of their 6,000-strong staff of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander background.

Speaking with Mamamia from Darwin, Pat reflected on the impact of institutionalised racism that still plagues many state-run hospitals. “Many Indigenous people also discharge themselves against medical advice, which I think is a sign of being unhappy with how they are treated, and not having access to their families,” she says. “There is still a lot of unconscious bias and racism across the board, particularly where you have large numbers of Aboriginal clients, so it’s about getting staff that are more culturally competent. Some of the worst offenders are the nurses. They really have to smarten up their attitudes. They think they know everything, and they can be very direct and rude. A lot of Aboriginal people feel very confronted by that.”

To read the article in full click here.

Feature Image: Children from the remote Indigenous community of Laramba in the Northern Territory, a region affected by undrinkable tap water. Credit: Marianna Massey, Corbis via Getty Images, Mamamia.

Moves to save Coonamble’s Marrabinya program

Petitions are circulating in each of the western NSW communities served by the Marrabinya program as Aboriginal people react to a decision by the Western NSW Primary Health Network (Western PHN) to cease funding the service from the end of 2022. Marrabinya is a Wiradjuri word meaning “hand outstretched” and since 2016, the Aboriginal-run program has acted as brokerage service to assist Aboriginal people with a diagnosed chronic illness to access medical support services, even in the most isolated communities. The priority chronic diseases are heart disease, diabetes, respiratory disease, kidney and liver disease and cancer.

The Western NSW PHN are yet to issue a statement regarding the end of funding for Marrabinya’s program however, Coonamble Aboriginal Health Service CEO Phil Naden told the Coonamble Times that the situation was not all doom and gloom. “A major review was conducted and feedback provided from right around the region,” he said. “Whilst Marrabinya might not continue in its current form the service will not be lost.”

To learn more about the Marrabinya program you can listen to a podcast “Marrabinya – Aboriginal Health in Aboriginal Hands” here. You can also read the May 2022 Marrabinya News, including details of the Save Marrabinya Campaign 2022 here.

To view the Coonamble Times article Moves afoot to save Marrabinya in full click here.

Alarming STD-caused throat cancer

The prevalence of throat cancer caused by a prominent sexually transmitted disease among Indigenous Australians has been laid bare by new global research. University of Adelaide (UOA) researchers human papilloma virus-led throat cancer was 15 times more prevalent in Indigenous Australians than young non-Indigenous Australians, and five times higher than rates found in the US, Brazil, Mexico and Finland.

UOA Indigenous oral health unit director and Yamatji woman Joanne Hedges said Indigenous communities had worked closely with the researchers on the project. “Participants wanted to be part of this HPV project because they wanted to be part of change,” she said. “The theme coming out was, ‘I had a family member pass away with this throat sickness, and I don’t want to happen to any other Nunga in my community or my family’. There was a real strength of participation.”

HPV is normally associated with cervical cancer, but can spread to the throat, head and neck via oral sexual activities, and is increasing at a rapid rate globally. UOA Australian Research Centre for Population Oral Health director Lisa Jamieson said extending the study would allow a deep dive of the knowledge they had already learnt.

To view the National Indigenous Times article Alarming STD-caused Indigenous throat cancer statistic laid bare in new report in full click here.

Lisa Jamieson and Joanne Hedges (inset). Photo: University of Adelaide. Image source: University of Adelaide.

Home Stretch WA supports kids leaving OOHC

The WA State Government has committed $37.2 million to support the Department of Communities state-wide roll out of its Home Stretch WA program over the next three years. Home Stretch WA will support young people who exit the State’s child protection system at 18 years of age, until they turn 21, helping them successfully transition to independence. Research shows young people leaving care are at greater risk of unemployment, homelessness, mental health issues and interacting with criminal justice systems.

The Home Stretch WA program will provide flexible one-to-one individualised support focused on coaching young people towards independence. This support can include to obtain stable accommodation, enrol in further education, progress to work opportunities, identify where to access assistance in the local community, access health services, build support networks and improve financial skills.

The WA Department of Communities is looking forward to working in partnership with Yorganop Association Incorporated (Yorganop) to deliver Home Stretch WA to young Aboriginal people preparing to leave the child protection system  in the metropolitan area. Yorganop’s readiness to deliver Home Stretch WA is built from direct involvement in development of the ‘Nitja Nop Yorga Ngulla Mia’ (our boys and girls are staying home) model that formed part of the Home Stretch WA Trial.

You can view the WA Government Department of Communities article Young people to benefit from the state-wide roll out of Home Stretch WA click here.

Image source: WA.gov.au.

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: Closing First Nations life expectancy gap

Image in feature if of Helicopter Joey Tjungurrayi Waruwiyi – Canning Stock Route Project website.

Closing First Nations life expectancy gap

Closing the gap in life expectancy for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples will be the focus of an Australian first health alliance. The Research Alliance for Urban Goori Health will unite a research organisation, health service and primary health care provider to improve health for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

The partnership between UQ’s Poche Centre for Indigenous Health, the Institute for Urban Indigenous Health (IUIH) and Metro North Health, has identified cancer care, rehabilitation programs and innovative models of care, such as hospital in the home, as priority areas.

Poche Centre Director Professor James Ward said the Alliance’s work would be transformational, helping to accelerate Australia’s progress towards closing the gap in life expectancy. “Some of the issues we’re looking to explore is where the health system works well for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients, and where it needs to be improved,” Professor Ward said. “As a Pitjantjatjara and Nukunu man, I know how important it is to ensure our peoples’ voices are at the center of service design and delivery, to ensure equal access across the healthcare system.”

To view the University of Queensland article Australian-first health alliance aims to close life expectancy gap for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people published on the New Medical Life Sciences website click here.

Image source: SNAICC website.

Pain Scales don’t work for mob

Presenting at the Australian Rheumatology Association Annual Scientific Meeting last week, Dr Manasi Murthy Mittinty said it was critical to address cultural differences into the diagnosis and management of pain. “Conventional pain scales have only been tested for Caucasian populations and do not capture the significant influence of spirituality and chronic harm,” said Dr Mittinty, clinician and pain scientist from the Royal North Shore Hospital, Sydney.

Dr Mittinty’s research on conceptualisation of pain by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples revealed that it is embedded in a psycho-socio-spiritual context that is core to perceptions of health and wellbeing in Indigenous Australian communities. The research revealed that some experiences of pain by Indigenous people are unique. These perceptions of pain incorporate factors such as spiritual connection with pain, grief and loss, history of trauma and injury, fear of addiction to pain medication and exposure to pain from early childhood.

To view the Oncology Republic article Why pain scales won’t work for Indigenous Australians in full click here.

Image source: Gidgee Healing website.

Food insecurity not only a remote issue

A new study has found Aboriginal families in urban and regional NSW regularly experience food insecurity and has identified five key contributing factors that need to be addressed. The research – led by Aboriginal Doctoral researcher Simone Sherriff and senior researcher Sumithra Muthayya from the Sax Institute – is based on collaborative work with two Aboriginal Medical Services (AMSs): Tharawal Aboriginal Corporation in Campbelltown in outer Sydney and Riverina Medical and Dental Aboriginal Corporation in Wagga Wagga in regional NSW. Extensive interviews were conducted with local Aboriginal people and AMS staff from the two communities, along with stakeholders from local food relief and government agencies, food suppliers and schools.

Aboriginal people felt strongly that food insecurity was a huge issue facing many Aboriginal families in the two communities, despite not being in remote areas. When data obtained from both sites were analysed, the authors identified five key drivers of food insecurity unique to Aboriginal communities in non-remote areas.

To read the Sax Institute media release Aboriginal families strongly impacted by food insecurity, study
finds in full click here. The research paper Murradambirra Dhangaang (make food secure): Aboriginal community and stakeholder perspectives on food insecurity in urban and regional Australia is available here.

Let’s Yarn About Sleep program

Young Indigenous people in Mt Isa will be taught about the mental health benefits of a good night’s sleep as part of a nation-leading program developed by The University of Queensland. Australia’s first ever Indigenous sleep coaches, Karen Chong and Jamie Dunne from Mt Isa, will work with 120 local youth on sleep education, sleep health coaching and narrative therapy as part of UQ’s Let’s Yarn About Sleep program (LYAS).

Launched last year by the Institute for Social Science Reseach, Senior Research Fellow Dr Yagoot Fatima said the program was an Australian first that promotes sleep health in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities by integrating traditional knowledge with Western sleep science. “The LYAS program provides holistic, inclusive and responsive solutions to improve Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adolescents’ understanding of sleep and empowers them to embrace sleep health,” Dr Fatima said.

To view The University of Queensland UQ News article Dreamtime: Australia’s first Indigenous youth sleep program forges ahead in full click here.

Community members have created an artwork, “Lets Yarn about Sleep”. The artwork is a powerful representation of how the research team, community Elders, youth workers, and service providers work together to connect young people with their culture and improve their sleep and SEWB. Image source: The University of Queensland website.

Good Medicine Better Health online modules

The Good Medicine Better Health IGMBH) team at NPS MedicineWise have developed a series of seven education courses for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workers and Practitioners. The free online learning modules are designed to improve quality use of medicines (QUM) in Aboriginal communities, with each module featuring a member of a family as they learn more about their medicines.

In the video below, proud Ankamuthi and Erub woman and Advanced Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Worker, Judith Parnham, talks about the importance of QUM education and introduces the modules which cover a range of medical conditions: asthma, chronic pain, hypertension, type 2 diabetes, respiratory tract infections, and anxiety and depression, with more to come in 2022. All modules are self-paced, free to enrol in and earn CPD points.

To find out more you can access the GMBH program webpage here.

Prevocational standards committee EOIs sought

The Australian Medical Council (AMC) is currently seeking expressions of interest for a member of its Prevocational Standards Accreditation Committee who is an international medical graduate (IMG) and who has been granted general registration following completion of an AMC-accredited workplace based assessment (WBA) program. As the AMC is planning to undertake a review of the WBA processes (along with other assessment pathways for IMGs) they are hoping to receive expressions of interest from IMGs with experience working in an Aboriginal Medical Service, to share their insights on this, as well as the other areas of responsibility of this Committee.

You can find information regarding the position and how to apply on the AMC website: here. Expressions of interest should be submitted to using this email link by Friday 24 June 2022.

For more information, please contact Brooke Pearson, Manager, Prevocational Standards and Accreditation, using the above email link or by phoning 02 6270 9732.

Act now on Ice Inquiry recommendations

The Law Society of NSW is calling on the NSW Government to act without further delay on the recommendations of the Ice Inquiry to implement a health focused approach to battling the scourge of drug abuse. President of the Law Society of NSW Joanne van der Plaat says that it has taken far too long for the Government to act on the recommendations of the Ice Inquiry, and now is the time to make a decision and start implementing programs that will tackle the drug problem in earnest.

“The Law Society agrees with the experts called to give evidence during the Special Commission of Inquiry into the Drug Ice that the current prohibitionist approach is not working. We agree with law enforcement authorities who have said we can’t arrest our way out of drug problems,” Ms van der Plaat said.

To view The Law Society of NSW media release No MERIT in further delay of bold drug law reform and rehab in full 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.

National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children’s Day

The National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children’s Day will be held on Thursday 4 August 2022 with this year’s theme “My Dreaming, My Future.”

Children’s Day is an opportunity to celebrate our children and their connection to culture, family and community. Each year the Secretariat of National Aboriginal and Islander Child Care (SNAICC) promotes the event to engage children and communities across the country.

People are encouraged get involved with the day by hosting their own event. You can register your event on the SNAICC website here.

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: NACCHO CEO delivers Dr Mickey Dewar Oration

NACCHO CEO delivers Dr Mickey Dewar Oration

Last night NACCHO CEO Patricia Turner AM was in Darwin to present the Dr Mickey Dewar Oration. The oration is presented in recognition of Dr Dewar’s significant contribution to the NT and as 3-term member of the National Archives’ Advisory Council. In her oration with the title ‘The Telling of Aboriginal Stories’ Ms Turner said: “Mickey Dewer was a storyteller. She understood that the stories of our nation needed to be told so that, as a country, we could understand where we have come from and who we are. Mickey knew that for us to move forward as a more reconciled and modern nation, the stories of our past needed to be told.”

“Mickey’s work led to the stories of many Aboriginal people being told and some of our history being recognised. This evening I want to talk to you about the importance of Aboriginal storytelling, and how it shapes the nation and our own cultures and identities. Aboriginal peoples are the original storytellers. Telling stories is both a cultural practice of who we are as peoples and is a way in which we sustain our identities and lands.”

You can read a full transcript of the oration click here.

Dr Michelle Sue “Mickey” Dewar (1 January 1956 – 23 April 2017), pictured during her time as NT Library Heritage Co-ordinator. Photo: Katrina Bridgeford. Image source: NT News.

New Minister for Indigenous Australians

Earlier today Linda Burney, a member of the Wiradjuri nations, and the first Aboriginal woman to be elected to the House of Representatives was sworn in as the Minister for Indigenous Australians. Yesterday as she delivered the 15th annual Lowitja O’Donoghue Oration, Ms Burney has extended an olive branch to Opposition Leader Peter Dutton and urged him to support an Indigenous Voice to parliament. The oration, run by the Don Dunstan Foundation in honour of influential Aboriginal leader Dr Lowitja O’Donoghue.

Burney outlined her vision for the future and urged the new Liberal leader to offer bipartisan support for an Indigenous Voice. “Peter Dutton has in recent days reflected on what it is like to be on the wrong side of history after walking out of the apology to the stolen generations,” she said. “But you know what? We all grow, and we all change, and there is no shame in that at all. “In fact, that is what the journey of reconciliation is all about, and it is a path I would be very pleased to walk with Peter Dutton – and the Liberal Party.” In his first press conference as opposition leader on Monday this week, Dutton admitted he was wrong to oppose former prime minister Kevin Rudd’s apology to stolen generations survivors.

To view The Sydney Morning Herald article Linda Burney urges Peter Dutton to support Indigenous Voice in full click here.

The incoming Indigenous affairs minister Linda Burney has urged the opposition to support the Uluru Statement from the Heart. Photo: Brook Mitchell. Image source: The Sydney Morning Herald.

Collaboration key to reconciliation

In an article Collaborate and ‘design a way forward’ towards reconciliation published in the RACGP newsGP yesterday Morgan Liotta describes how she spoke to allyship leaders about the steps GPs can take to promote national reconciliation. Reflect: identify what is the heart of the matter. Relate: put yourself in the other person’s shoes. Reconcile: design a way forward together. The ‘three Rs’ were developed to strengthen allyship and kinship by the co-directors of cultural awareness training organisation, Evolve Communities.

Aunty Munya Andrews, a Bardi Elder originally from the Kimberley region of Western Australia, is a lawyer and educator. Carla Rogers is a training facilitator and community engagement specialist. The two have worked closely together since 2011 to strengthen partnerships between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and non-Indigenous Australians. To mark National Reconciliation Week, Aunty Munya and Ms Rogers spoke with newsGP about how the three Rs align with this year’s theme – ‘Be Brave. Make Change’ – and highlight the important role of courage in reconciliation, which GPs can apply to their practice.

‘It is a really simple three-step approach that GPs could apply when they’re exploring something with one of their patients,’ Ms Rogers said. ‘Immerse yourself in that understanding, learn more about Aboriginal people’s identity – connection to country is all about healing. ‘The land is sick, people are sick. Healthy country, healthy people.’ Outside the GP community, all Australians can learn more about these values and collaborate to ‘design a way forward together’ towards reconciliation. For Aunty Munya, it’s about everybody playing their part.

To view the article in full click here.

Image source: Others magazine.

Courage to be uncomfortable needed

Dr Bini Bennett, Associate Professor First Nations Health, Bond University, has written an article The courage to feel uncomfortable: what Australians need to learn to achieve real reconciliation in which she writes: “Be Brave, Make Change” is the mantra for this year’s National Reconciliation Week. This is a call urging all non-Indigenous Australians to be allies and take up unfinished reconciliation actions for a fairer nation for all. But often reconciliation actions are observed as insincere and tokenistic. Instead, non-Indigenous people’s actions need to be real, effective and aimed at long-lasting change.

Historical acceptance is one of the five dimensions of reconciliation. Acceptance would mean all Australians acknowledge this nation’s history of injustice, colonisation, dispossession, displacement, exploitation and violence against First Nations people. However, this endeavour to learn is often hindered by hesitant white educators who don’t feel confident or capable to include Indigenous perspectives in their classrooms. The topic of Australia’s difficult history is also often rebutted as First Nations people’s failure to move on and simply “get over it”. If non-Indigenous people are to be honest about our nation’s efforts to achieve reconciliation, it’s time to stop trying to being “seen” to be engaged in First Nation issues, and instead take the time to educate themselves about what is often uncomfortable to learn.

To read The Conversation article in full click here.

Invasion Day protests, Melbourne. Photo: James Ross, EPA. Image source: Aljazeera.

COVID-19 – a barrier to early cancer diagnosis

It’s a worrying fact that data worldwide is demonstrating a delay in doctor visits, as well as missed or decreased cancer registrations due to the COVID-19 pandemic. If you find yourself putting off seeing your doctor about new symptoms, that’s not a good idea. Cancer does not stop or slow down for a global pandemic.

Visit your doctor if your symptom involves blood, such as coughing up blood or blood in your poo or blood in your pee, or if you have any of these symptoms for more than four weeks:

It’s important to see your doctor, clinic nurse or Aboriginal Health Worker now rather than putting it off! It doesn’t mean you’ve got cancer – often, it turns out to be something less serious, but telling your doctor straight away ensures any further investigation or treatment can begin as soon as possible. If it is cancer, the earlier it’s found, the better the treatment options and outcomes.

Cancer Council WA’s Find Cancer Early team have put together some FAQ’s which you can find on the Cancer Council WA website here.

Image source: Danila Dilba Health Service, Darwin NT website.

Mental health crisis in flood-affected NSW

Months after northern NSW’s worst floods on record, many of the thousands displaced are now struggling with depression, anxiety and trauma. An Indigenous-led counselling hub based on cultural traditions is supporting flood victims and working to prevent an even bigger disaster. Michele Laurie is among thousands of flood victims in northern NSW struggling to rebuild their lives after this year’s catastrophic floods. Although the high water has receded, the mental health impacts are far from over.

“I’ve certainly found myself really quite overwhelmed where I’ve had a panic attack just recently,” says Ms Laurie, 47, whose family was among those forced out of home for many weeks by flooding. We have had a housing crisis here on the Northern rivers before the flood, and this is just amplified the disadvantage of families throughout this whole community.” According to state government disaster recovery body Resilience NSW, the Laurie family home is among more than 8,359 damaged by flooding, of which 3,585 are uninhabitable. Yet many northern rivers residents consider themselves lucky to have survived at all. Some sheltered for hours on rooftops, others were trapped inside the roof cavity and were forced to cut themselves free.

The mental health impacts are now being felt across the region. Michele Laurie is also an Aboriginal trauma specialist of Gumbaynggirr and Yaegl heritage and is working to support others affected, like herself, at a healing hub in Lismore. The Aboriginal-led centre has so far offered wellbeing support in more than 1,400 sessions, for both Indigenous and non-Indigenous people.

You can read the SBS News article The Indigenous trauma specialists working to ease a growing mental health crisis in flood-affected NSW in full here and also watch an SBS News video about the weaving and yarning circles here.

A weaving circle at the Lismore healing hub. Photo: Kingsley Haxton, SBS. Image source: SBS News website.

Cultural responsiveness training encouraged

Optometry Australia is encouraging its members to undertake cultural education that supports critical self-reflection and the integration of culturally safe and responsive care into practise to improve the health outcomes of First Nations patients. Optometry Australia’s CEO Lyn Brodie said they have partnered with Indigenous Allied Health Australia (IAHA) to offer their Cultural Responsiveness Training to 100 members , In addition all Optometry Australia are completing the training so an understanding of First Nation’s cultures is embedded within our organisation.

Anya Dashko, who has completed the training, works as a regional optometrist at the Institute for Urban Indigenous Health (IUIH) in Windsor, Queensland, which she says has provided her with a great opportunity to learn from her patients. “Back at university, there was no focus on cultural awareness or cultural safety, or how you might adapt your practice when working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients,’ Anya said. ‘Although I’ve been fortunate enough to learn through working at the IUIH, I also wanted to take the opportunity to learn from IAHA as they’ve done a lot of important work in this space and provided guidance for allied health professionals across the board. ”

“The cultural training course not only included historical and diverse cultural background information of First Nations people, but also a lot of introspective work. I thought it was a great addition to ask us to consider our own culture and belief systems, how they inform our day-to-day actions and how they might differ for someone from a different cultural background. I think this training course provides optometrists with a solid foundation to build upon and hopefully make their own practice a trusted and safe environment for First Nations people.”.

To view the Optometry Australia article Cultural responsiveness training will help to improve health outcomes for First Nations peoples in full click here.

Optometrist Kerryn Hart does an eye examination on Andrew Toby who needed glasses. Andrew, a driver for the Anyinginyi Allied Health Clinic, Tennant Creek, collects patients to bring them to the clinic. Image source: Optometry Australia.

New process for job advertising

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

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