NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: U and Me Can Stop HIV video launch

The image in the feature tile is of the U and Me Can Stop HIV banner painted by VACCHO staff for the VACCHO reception area. Image supplied by VACCHO.

U and Me Can Stop HIV video launch

On World AIDS Day yesterday VACCHO launched a video U and Me Can Stop HIV video. This video was a result of a collaboration by VACCHO with Victorian Aboriginal Health Service and Thorn Habour Health. Over a period of two days VACCHO made 1,000 awareness red ribbons for World AIDS Day. VACCHO said the ribbon making was a great way to engage people and have a low key yarn about HIV.

Warra could change face of Indigenous leadership

Research tells us that the more diverse management and leadership teams are, the better organisations function. Diversity leads to richer ideas, a more inclusive work culture and better business decisions and outcomes. In fact, McKinsey & Company, a global management consulting firm, found in 2020 that the relationship between diversity on executive teams and the likelihood of financial outperformance had strengthened over time.

Despite this, many organisations continue to fall behind the eight ball on diversity, with the statistics especially dismal for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, who remain vastly underrepresented – or completely excluded – from leadership in the Australian workforce. According to the Minderoo Foundation’s Indigenous Employment Index, Indigenous employees are almost entirely absent from senior management and executive leadership positions. Among the 31 employers who reported the relevant data, Indigenous representation at senior leadership levels was just 0.7%.

It’s a reality that Kamilaroi woman, Carlyn Waters is all too familiar with. Over the past 20 years, Waters has held senior positions in various government roles, often finding herself as one of very few Indigenous people at the same level. Now, Waters is calling time by, spearheading a new sponsorship program called Warra, the first program delivered by Cultivate Indigenous – a majority First Nations owned and operated business. The program seeks to inspire and develop talent at all levels by embedding a culture of sponsorship, and delivering tailored development opportunities to grow, retain and advance Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders.

To read the Women’s Agenda article ‘That kind of support can be transformative’: A new, curated sponsorship program could change the face of Indigenous leadership in full click here.

Carlyn Waters. Image source: Women’s Agenda.

Questions must be answered on pharmacy trials

According to a media release from the Australian Medical Association (AMA) state governments have a responsibility to answer questions about why they are determined to move Australians to a second-class health system and put patient safety at risk through pharmacy prescribing trials. AMA President Professor Stephen Robson launched a video today posing six questions to state governments about pharmacy prescribing trials and the decisions that led to their implementation.

Professor Robson said these trials presented a clear risk to patient safety; ignored ethical concerns regarding separating prescribing and dispensing of medicines and could lead to an increase in anti-microbial resistance and the emergence of more superbugs. “Responding to GP shortages with second-class policy solutions that trample over the advice of independent bodies like the Pharmacy Board of Australia and the Therapeutic Goods Administration and bypass established national processes that exist to protect patient safety isn’t the answer.

“GPs train for 12–15 years to have the expertise to diagnose conditions that are being covered in some of these trials. You can’t replace that training and experience with a few hours of weekly online training without putting patients at risk. GPs are highly skilled and equipped to diagnose the difference between a UTI and other serious and potentially deadly health conditions. They are equipped to take a full medical history of their patients and understand the full range of contraceptive options available to women. A second-tier health system that moves the costs of health services from the government to the patient (except for Victoria which is proposing to cover some of the costs) isn’t the solution.”

To view the AMA media release Questions must be answered on pharmacy prescribing trials in full click here.

Image source: RACGP newsGP.

Exhibition showcases art’s healing power

The healing power of art is reflected in an exhibition of First Nations ceramic works originating from a new collaboration, which co-mingles visual art education and well-being activities for Purple House dialysis patients in Alice Springs. Charles Darwin University (CDU) Academy of Arts has partnered with Indigenous-owned and operated health service Purple House, to present the exhibition that blends and celebrates the cultural diversity of Aboriginal communities in central Australia.

The exhibition’s title, Pana, Tjulpirpa, Pilki combines the words for clay in three different desert languages spoken by the ceramic artists who hail from the region’s Pintupi-Luritja, Pitjantjatjara and Kukaja communities. It showcases the creative talent of First Nations women who are Purple House patients receiving dialysis treatment, while studying visual arts at CDU’s Alice Springs campus.

Purple House is a non-profit health organisation, based in Alice Springs, that aims to improve the lives of First Nations people with renal failure, support families and reduce the impacts of kidney disease in communities. Purple House CEO Sarah Brown said that art has always been integral to Purple House and the lives of its patients. “Art helps keep culture strong in communities, and it’s a powerful way to share knowledge and stories, and an important source of income,” Ms Brown said. “Our patients get so much out of their ceramics classes at CDU each week and this is a fabulous opportunity for them to exhibit their artwork.”

To view the Charles Darwin University Australia News article Exhibition showcases art’s healing power in Alice Springs in full click here.

An exhibition in Alice Springs showcases the ceramic artworks of First Nations women who are receiving dialysis treatment at Purple House, while studying Visual Arts at CDU. Image source: CDU website.

Improving transplantation access for mob

More than 30 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander kidney patients and their carers will travel from across Australia to attend a two-day meeting in Adelaide next week. The meeting aims to improve access to and outcomes from transplantation for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, according to a statement from The National Indigenous Kidney Transplantation Taskforce (NIKTT), a multidisciplinary national network of clinical, patient, and community advocates.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander kidney transplant recipients, dialysis patients, and their carers and family from the Kimberley, the Torres Strait, central Australia, far north Queensland, regional NSW and Victoria, and the Top End will travel to Adelaide to work together with clinicians, researchers, and policy makers to determine priorities and next steps for the NIKTT.

Organisers say the meeting has been designed by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander kidney patients, non-Indigenous advocates, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander researchers to be “a safe, shared, brave space that will allow us to co-design the future of transplantation equity together”.

To view the Croakey Health Media article As new report launches, historic meeting of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander kidney patients and carers to co-design transplantation equity in full click here.

Theatre staff prepare surgical equipment for a kidney transplant operation. Photo: Frances Roberts, Alamy. 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.

International Day of People with Disability

International Day of People with Disability (IDPwD) is held on 3 December each year. IDPwD is a United Nations observed day aimed at increasing public awareness, understanding and acceptance of people with disability. The Australian Government has been supporting IDPwD since 1996 and provides funds to promote and raise awareness of the day and support activities around Australia. This includes encouraging individuals, schools, community groups, businesses and organisations to get involved and hold events on, or around, 3 December.

The IDPwD program aligns with key action areas under Australia’s Disability Strategy 2021–31. This includes improving community awareness by recognising the positive contribution people with disability make to society, and building confidence in the community to work and engage with people with disability.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people experience disability at up to twice the rate of non-Indigenous Australians and while many receive support for their disability, historically Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have been up to four times less likely to receive a funded disability service. For more information about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with disability, including statistics from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare click here.

You can find more information about IDPwD here.

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Ancient practice helping Kimberley

The image in the feature tile is of a cultural healer treating a patient’s knee by rubbing in red ochre and singing healing songs. The image appeared in an article ‘The women’s song is so strong’: cultural healing in the Kimberley published in The Guardian yesterday, Monday 14 November 2022. Photo: Richard Wainwright, AAP.

Ancient practice helping the Kimberley

Deep in WA’s outback, in a region haunted by trauma and loss, a group of elderly women carry out an ancient healing practice. Red ochre is rubbed into a patient’s knee as they sing a powerful song, their arthritic hands working in a liquid motion. The healers have seen plenty of pain – both physical and spiritual – among those seeking their help.

“We see their eyes when they come to us. We see the eyes and the eyes tell us that person is sick,” a healer said. “They come to us ladies and we sing that healing song to them. We put the red ochre on them first to protect them, because the women’s song is so strong. And after that, they feel real good. They feel settled and calm and everything.”

Jalngangurru Healing is a trial program connecting patients in the Kimberley with male and female cultural healers. It targets clients in Fitzroy Crossing, Derby and surrounding communities, supported by the Kimberley Aboriginal Law and Culture Centre and Emama Nguda Aboriginal Corporation with federal funding. But the demand for its services is flooding in from across the nation.

“It went active on social media and it just went mad,” said Emama Nguda chief executive Ben Burton. “There were people from all over Australia sending messages trying to access help … people who are just desperate, in pain and suffering from mental health, loss after loss after loss and depression. All the feedback so far from people is it’s just life-changing.”

To view the Australian Associated Press article Ancient practice helping to heal Kimberley in full click here.

Tammy Solonec is helping people access traditional cultural healing in WA’s north. Photo: Richard Wainwright. Image source: AAP.

Repeated breaches of child rights at detention centre

Save the Children is appalled by the footage from WA’s Banksia Hill Juvenile Detention Centre aired by ABC’s Four Corners and condemns the conduct as a gross violation of children’s rights. The video shows a boy being handcuffed, forcibly held down and sat on by guards in a dangerous restraint technique known as ‘folding up’, with reports several other boys have been subjected to similar practices. The ABC footage is further evidence that children’s rights are continuing to be violated at Banksia Hill Juvenile Detention Centre, highlighting the urgent need for an overhaul of WA’s youth justice system before more irreparable harm is done.

To view the Save the Children media release Repeated breaches of child rights in WA youth detention must end now in full click here.

In a related article Union: ‘Chronic understaffing’ contributing to stress and aggression among Banksia Hill child detainees available here a union representing youth custodial officers say “chronic understaffing” at Banksia Hill Detention Centre is contributing to the heightened stress and aggression among child detainees.

The CPSU/CSA on Monday released a letter its leadership sent to the Department of Justice in May 2021 – 18 months ago – that sounded the alarm on safety concerns at the facility. The letter said dangerously low staffing levels was putting the workforce at risk, denying the children in custody proper rehabilitation and resulting in “rolling lockdowns”.

The 15-year-old boy spent more than 60% of his recent stint in custody, in unlawful solitary confinement. Image source: ABC News.

Flooding makes existing disadvantage worse

Australia is currently experiencing its third consecutive year of a La Niña weather cycle, with more rainfall than average expected over the spring and summer months and a heightened risk of floods, tropical cyclones, prolonged heatwaves and grass fires in southern Australia.  According to the Human Rights Council Report 75-80% of the world’s population will be negatively impacted by climate change. It also states climate change will exacerbate existing poverty and inequality and have the most severe impact on our poor.

Indigenous people in Australia make up just 3.8% of the population. Still, they account for nearly 30% of those living in poverty and up to 50% in remote communities. Many live in poor, overcrowded housing not prepared for natural disasters or the effects of climate change such as persistently hotter temperatures. In addition, there is limited nearby infrastructure or resources to prepare for and respond to emergencies.

All levels of government have been criticised for a lack of action in supporting Indigenous communities during times of crisis. This now needs to be addressed urgently, given the destructive weather is forecast to continue in the coming months. Earlier this year, when floods hit the town of Lismore in NSW, the local Indigenous community was left to fend for themselves, with many people losing their homes and possessions. First Nations communities were among those worst affected, with many people stranded without access to food or clean water.

To read the Mirage article Effects of climate change such as flooding makes existing disadvantages for Indigenous communities so much worse in full click here.

Chelsea Claydon (left) and Izzy Walton (right) have been running the Koori Kitchen in Lismore, which is still providing 100s of meals to flood-affected residents on the Northern Rivers. Photo: Matt Coble. Image source: ABC News.

Workplace racism leaves workers traumatised

Between 2018 and 2020, Ms Jacqueline Stewart worked within the NSW Health Education Centre Against Violence (ECAV) — a unit responsible for helping with the prevention and response to violence, abuse and neglect, including within Indigenous communities. She resigned in 2021 after, she said, her complaints to NSW Health management about racism and bullying were not properly addressed.

There were several incidents, but some of the main ones she made formal complaints about included that a contracted worker in her team painted her face black at a work function and then posted it on the ECAV’s Facebook page at the time. Ms Stewart describes her time at NSW Health as “emotional destruction” and says the impacts of racism and bullying are long lasting. “It’s impacted my family. It’s been a massive impact.”

Research conduct last year by consulting firm MindTribes and the University of Melbourne, found that 76% of respondents either witnessed discrimination, experienced discrimination, or had both witnessed and experienced it, and 69% of respondents felt “low or no confidence” in the reporting process.

The latest data follows a report from Diversity Council Australia (DCA) called Racism at Work, released earlier this year found 88%t of respondents agreed racism was an issue in Australian workplaces and 93% agreed organisations needed to take action to address it. While support for organisations to tackle workplace racism was high, only 27%t of survey respondents said their organisations were proactively preventing workplace racism.

To view the MSN article ‘Isolated and traumatised’ workers subject to racist slurs call for employers to do more to stamp out bullying and harassment in full click here.

Jacqueline Stewart, a former employee of NSW Health, was a victim of racism. Photo: Daniel Irvine, ABC News.

Calls for input on draft Australian Cancer Plan

Minister for Health and Aged Care, Mark Butler, said the Australian Government is calling for stakeholder input on the draft Australian Cancer Plan (ACP) which is designed to provide lasting change and improve outcomes for all people affected by cancer. Australia leads the world in cancer outcomes however, it is still the leading cause of death in this country. This year alone, 50,000 people will lose their lives to cancer.

The draft ACP presents the opportunity for all Australians to comment on a ground-breaking national strategy that sets out strategic objectives, ambitions, goals and priority actions for cancer control. To make a difference we need coordinated system-wide engagement.

To view Minister Butler’s media release Consultation opens on draft Australian Cancer Plan in full click here.

Indigenous Eye Health Unit to launch book

Indigenous Eye Health Unit invite you to the launch of “Minum Barreng: The story of the Indigenous Eye Health Unit” (IEHU). This book documents the work and achievements of the IEHU over the last 15 years.
The launch will be from 10:00 – 11:30AM on Friday 2 December 2022 in the Woodward Centre, Level 10, Melbourne Law School, 185 Pelham Street, Carlton.

Registrations for the launch close on Thursday 24 November 2022.

For more information you can access a flyer about the book launch event here.

Sector Jobs

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Time to treat sick kids, not punish them

The Fairfax Media image in the feature tile is from a WAtoday article One-stop-shop youth prison model a ‘failure’ as MP calls for to Banksia Hill to close published on 2 November 2018.

Time to treat sick kids, not punish them

The Policy Impact Program is a partnership between The Winston Churchill Trust and The University of Queensland (UQ). It aims to help Churchill Fellows draw upon the international knowledge they gain on their Fellowships to best inform policy reform in Australia. Policy Futures: A Reform Agenda is the Program’s flagship publication which combines some of the best of the Churchill Fellows’ insights with the policy and governance expertise of UQ’s Centre for Policy Futures.

Professor Thomas Edwin Calma, AO, co-Patron of The Winston Churchill Trust, said: “Policy Futures second issue includes four Churchill Fellow-developed reform agendas that have the potential to not only transform many Indigenous peoples’ lives for the better, but also support Australian Governments to achieve the 2020 National Agreement on Closing the Gap targets.”

One of the four Fellows, Clement Ng, found almost 95% of children in NT detention are Indigenous. Research suggests that effective strategies that improve the mental health of First Nations young people will reduce their criminalisation and in turn, their over-representation. The Royal Commission and Board of Inquiry into the Protection and Detention of Children in the NT found 56% of children who gave evidence about their experience in youth detention had a history of self-harm and/or suicidal ideation. Further, justice-involved children are more likely to receive more than one mental health diagnosis or suffer from a dual diagnosis of mental health and substance misuse. Unfortunately, the current funding the NT receives for mental health services per capita is the lowest in the country and none of the community mental health services at present have capacity to meet demand.

Policy recommendations from Mr Ng’s research include:

  • Pilot a youth mental health diversion list in the NT.
  • Involve ACCHOs to co-design and deliver holistic community mental health services.

To read The Mandarin article Policy futures: A reform agenda in full click here.

Image source: Orygen Youth Mental Health Policy Briefing 2018.

Leading cause of death for mob – cancer

Jacinta Elston was in her 20s and had just had her first child when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. The Queensland mother needed surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy, to fight the disease, and almost 20 years later is cancer-free. She was working as an assistant professor of Indigenous health at James Cook University, which meant she had a good knowledge of the medical system.

She said other members of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island community may not be as used to dealing with, or even talking about cancer. “I’ve seen family, friends, mob and community who haven’t had the same sort of outcomes I have, ” Elston said. “Cancer hasn’t really been in our vocabulary in the same way that heart disease and diabetes and renal dialysis has been,” she said. “It’s now our leading cause of death.” First Nations Australians are almost one and a half times more likely to die from cancer compared to non-Indigenous Australians.

The group are more likely to get the disease but less likely to use screening services, like those on offer for bowel or breast cancer, according to Cancer Australia figures from 2015–2019.

To view the 9 News article ‘Cancer hasn’t been in our vocabulary’: Plan to tackle ‘leading cause of death’ for Indigenous Australians in full click here.

Professor Jacinta Elston is working to improve cancer survival in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders. Image source: 9 NEWS.

Global challenge to find health fixes for Pilbara

The WA government has announced a global challenge in hopes to improve health incomes in remote parts of the Pilbara. Medical Research Minister Stephen Dawson announced the newly titled The Challenge last week. The WA government joined partners with corporate investors for a $5 million reward for applicants who are able to provide the best solution to enhance health care in the Pilbara.

Lead by the WA Department of Health, The Challenge seeks submissions from industry, the private sector, public sector agencies, universities, research institutes or collaborations from international organisations. Mr Dawson said the challenge wanted to find a technology solution to improve health outcomes for Pilbara residents.

“This is about improving the health of Western Australians living in rural and remote areas to reduce disease and injury for the community and particularly for remote Aboriginal communities,” he said. “We’re not calling for improvements, or incremental change. We need real change, we need world-leading innovation. We are looking for an outcome which harnesses new technology, deploys digital health to its full potential, and ensures all Western Australians can access the health services they need, and deserve.”

To read the National Indigenous Times article WA Govt sets mutli-million dollar global challenge to find health fixes for remote Pilbara communities in full click here.

WA’s Pilbara. Photo: Oliver Strewe – Getty Images. Image source: The Guardian.

Better care for people living with eating disorders

The Albanese Government is investing $13 million to help mental health professionals and researchers improve treatment outcomes for Australians living with eating disorders. The InsideOut Institute will receive $13 million to fund the Australian Eating Disorders Research and Translation Centre, which was officially launched by the Assistant Minister for Mental Health and Suicide Prevention, Emma McBride at the University of Sydney yesterday.

Eating disorders have some of the highest mortality rates of any mental illness and many Australians often go undiagnosed. The new centre will focus on research to prevent and treat eating disorders, translating these developments into frontline services and co-designing treatments with people with lived experience, their family, and carers.

To view the Minister McBride’s media release Better care for people living with eating disorders in full click here. The below Butterfly Foundation Every BODY is Deadly video was developed to bring greater awareness to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities about the signs and supports available for people impacted by eating disorders.

Social Work Perspectives on FASD webinar

The Australasian Professional Society on Alcohol and other Drugs is hosting a webinar Social Work Perspectives on FASD at 1:00PM (AEDT) Wednesday 16 November 2022.

In this webinar, social work perspectives on FASD will be explored drawing on evidence from research, practitioner and caregiver studies and experiences. Three presenters will focus on the current situation in NZ. Dr Joanna Chu will identify the knowledge and attitude gaps among social work professionals recently surveyed by researchers from the University of Auckland; Karleen Dove will consider the roles and responsibilities and other key issues for social workers when helping families where FASD is identified as a likely disability for a child; and Professor Anita Gibbs will draw on research and lived experience to discuss best practice from social workers that is neuro-informed, culturally safe, system-wide, attuned to what families want and need, and ensures healthy outcomes for all.

To register for the Social Work Perspectives on FASD webinar click here.

National Indigenous Legal & Health Justice Conference

The National Indigenous Legal & Health Justice Conference 2022 kicks off on Sunday 4 December 2022.

Major topics of the conference include: Treaty, Voice, and Truth-Telling; Native Title and Land Rights; Health justice and justice reinvestment; Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion; the over-representation of children and young people in State systems; the failure of Aboriginal heritage and environmental protection laws; intellectual property rights; and the challenges facing legal aid and access to justice.

Confirmed speakers include: Senator Pat Dobson – Chair of Joint Standing Committee on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs; Michael Mansell – activist, lawyer, and author of Treaty and Statehood; Donnella Mills – Chair of NACCHO and spokesperson for Health Justice; Pat O’Shane – former Magistrate and activist; Pat Turner AM – CEO of NACCHO and spokesperson for Coalition of Closing the Gap Peak Bodies; Corey Tutt OAM – founder and CEO of @Deadly Science; Leah Cameron – principal of Marrawah Law and Aboriginal expert on Australian Heritage Council; Patricia Adjei – Australia Council of the Arts; Jamie Lowe, CEO of National Native Title Council along with Native Title Senior Counsel, Aboriginal lawyers, serving and retired Magistrates; experts and law students; and legal aid practitioners.

Tickets for the National Indigenous Legal & Health Justice Conference are now on sale here.

Sector Jobs

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Arts can have positive impacts on health

The image in the feature tile is from day one of the Purrumpa First Nations Arts & Culture National Gathering 2022 at the Adelaide Convention Centre, Monday 31 October 2022. Image source: Australia Council for the Arts Facebook page.

Arts can have positive impacts on health

‘Aboriginal health’ means not just the physical wellbeing of an individual but refers to the social, emotional and cultural wellbeing of the whole community in which each individual is able to achieve their full potential as a human being, thereby bringing about the total wellbeing of their community. It is a whole-of-life view and includes the cyclical concept of life-death-life.

Engagement with the arts can have powerful impacts on health, wellbeing and the strengthening of communities. Access to the arts helps people connect socially and participate in their community’s cultural life. The role of the arts in exploring and communicating social concerns, giving voice to hidden issues and allowing self-expression is also a major contributor to health.

Today is the last day of Purrumpa, a 5-day national gathering and celebration of First Nations arts and culture in Adelaide. Australia Council Executive Director for First Nations Arts and Culture Franchesca Cubillo said “Purrumpa will include deep listening, as well as important conversations about First Nations peoples’ self-determination, development, and priorities for the national advocacy of First Nations arts and culture.”

You can find out more about the Purrumpa gathering here and you can find further information about the connection between the arts and health, including the role of arts in Aboriginal culture and health and how the arts improve health, in this Victorian Health Promotion Foundation’s publication Promoting Aboriginal health through the arts – Overview of supported projects available here.

Images from the Australian Council for the Arts Facebook page.

Julie Tongs leading the way in health care

Julie Tongs has been the CEO of Winnunga Nimmityjah, one of 144 ACCHOs nationally, for 25 years, and says her vision has always been for Winnunga to be a leader in the provision of primary health care. “Winnunga is a leader in providing comprehensive primary health care and is pivotal to the overall health system in the ACT and surrounding NSW region,” she says. “Winnunga clients come from 324 suburbs. “In the 2021–22 financial year Winnunga provided 92,000 occasions of care to 8,295 clients.”

Julie says this included COVID-19 vaccinations, testing clinics, telephone consults, walk-in services to GPs, as well as psychologists, psychiatrists, podiatrist, optometry, physiotherapy, dieticians, drug and alcohol help and mental health nurses. “In 2019, just before COVID-19 lockdown, Winnunga commenced a large-scale building project, which was quite challenging,” says Julie.

“However, we were able to deliver a brand new $20 million fit-for-purpose building, which was funded by the ACT government, Commonwealth government and Winnunga. “The building is outstanding.” Clients come from all walks of life, Tongs says. “They come to us because they feel safe here and not judged.”

To view the CBR City News article Celebrating the amazing women paving the way in full click here.

Julie Tongs… “I’m not your generic CEO. I’ve had a chequered life, and I’m a little bit left of field.” Photo: Holly Treadaway. Image source: CBR City News.

Funding for crime prevention projects

Queensland Minister for Children and Youth Justice and Minister for Multicultural Affairs The Honourable Leanne Linard has announced a new round of the Community Partnership Innovation Grants for community organisations that have projects that aim to tackle youth crime. Applications encouraged from not-for-profit groups, the social services and health sectors, Aboriginal and Torres Islander Elders and community-controlled organisations, businesses and social enterprises, and academics.

Minister Linard said individuals, families and communities all have a critical role to play when it comes to preventing and reducing youth offending, “These efforts can be critical in preventing youth offending – given local communities are often the first to see when a young person disconnects from family, stops attending school or shows anti-social behaviour.”

“Earlier this year, I introduced the grants scheme after hearing how strongly local communities wanted to be part of the solution. There is a strong desire amongst communities to help vulnerable young people achieve a better life. In many communities there are already innovative initiatives in place that just need some funding to get off the ground,” she said. “The experience and knowledge that local communities bring to the table can only strengthen our response to keep communities safe while supporting young people to make positive contributions.”

Up to $300,000 will be available for individual projects, as part of the $3 million allocated to the grants scheme in the 2022–23 State Budget. Applications for round two can be submitted until Monday 30 January 2023 through Smarty Grants online here. To view The National Tribune article Community projects focus on preventing crime in full click here.

The Yinda cultural mentoring program was designed by Indigenous elders to tackle youth crime in Townsville from the ground up. Photo: David Chen. ABC North Queensland.

Aboriginal health services best for prisons

According to the Victorian government, healthcare in prison is of the same standard as the community. Correct Care Australasia, the for-profit, US-owned company with more than $700 million in contracts to provide healthcare in prisons, has made the same commitment.

But it’s hard to imagine any community which would accept the poor, neglectful and punitive standard of “care” provided to people in Victoria’s prisons. Contrary to the views of many politicians, prosecutors and judges, prisons are not safe places for anyone. They are particularly unsafe for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, who were 3 times more likely to not receive all required medical care before they died in custody.

If Victoria is to follow its commitment to self-determination, it must also heed calls by VACCHO for Aboriginal health services, which are best placed to provide culturally safe care, to be engaged in prisons. To read the Brisbane Times opinion Piece Indigenous Victorians pay a high price when prisons prioritise profit in full click here.

Image source: The Canberra Times.

Stroke rates higher for mob

It takes a lot to shock someone like Phil McDonald. The Mollymook based Stroke Foundation ambassador said he was horrified to learn that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are 1.5 times more likely to experience a stroke than non-Indigenous Australians. “I want to be an example for other people. I want to inspire people to take control of their health and become fitter and healthier version of themselves,” he said.

He is preparing for the fight of his life as he prepares to step into the ring in Yagoona this weekend. The Mollymook resident will participate in this weekend’s Indigenous All Stars versus the World Boxing Tournament which aims to promote reconciliation. He hopes to raise awareness about the overrepresentation of stroke in Indigenous Australia.

Phil has been a champion for a stroke since losing his beloved dad James last year. In 2021 Phil broke a world record and raised thousands for the Stroke Foundation by taking on amateur and professional boxers to complete a series of 150 three-minute rounds. To read the Milton Ulladulla Times article  Stroke higher for Indigenous Australians say Stroke Foundation in full click here.

Phil McDonald in training. Image source: South Coast Register.

Making a difference for mums and bubs

Tackling a digital divide and improving health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mothers and babies is the aim of an Australian-first project involving First Nations community leaders and University of Queensland (UQ) researchers. The Digital Infrastructure For improving First Nations Maternal and Child Health (DIFFERENCE) project has been awarded $3 million under the Federal Government’s Medical Research Future Fund.

Chief Investigator UQ’s Associate Professor Clair Sullivan said the project would help link disparate records across different heath care services with an intent to improve maternal and perinatal health outcomes. “There is a data disconnect between primary and hospital care so it is hard for medical professionals to see all the information they need to make important decisions,” Dr Sullivan said.

“There are high maternal and infant morbidity and mortality rates amongst Aboriginal Torres Strait Islander women and babies compared to Australia’s relatively low national rates,” Dr Sullivan said. “First Nations mothers are three times more likely to die during childbirth compared to other women, and babies are more likely to be born either with fetal growth restriction, small for their gestation age, stillborn or preterm. These concerning statistics are why we are embarking on this project.” To read UQ News article Making a difference to First Nations mums and bubs in full click here.

Photo: Caro Telfer, Adobe. Image source: UQ News.

Sector Jobs

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Essential ingredients for Wellbeing Budget

The image in the feature tile is from ABC Radio National webpage Talkback: Australia’s first ‘wellbeing’ budget, Wednesday 26 October 2022. Image: marrio31, Getty Images.

Essential ingredients for Wellbeing Budget

As the world faces escalating climate disruption, environmental degradation and geopolitical instability as well as growing inequality and human rights abuses, the development of wellbeing indicators for the Federal Budget presents both opportunities and challenges.  Indigenous health, public health and environmental health experts and community groups will have an opportunity to contribute to the development of a landmark new set of wellbeing indicators that are being prepared for the 2023 Budget.

While Australian governments publish many indicators that support decision-making, including Closing the Gap and the State of the Environment Report, “no national framework or central set of indicators” to track overall progress on wellbeing currently exists. One of the central challenge of progress reporting is bringing attention to the broader factors that underpin community wellbeing and longer-term economic prosperity, in a focused way. Other countries that have frameworks to measure non-economic progress and quality of life include Scotland, Wales, Canada, Germany and Aotearoa/NZ.

The involvement of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and organisations, people with disabilities, and people with lived experience of mental illness will be important if future wellbeing budgets are to genuinely address inequities within our society. Speaking at the Indigenous Wellness Conference last week, Bardi woman Professor Pag Dugeon from the School of Indigenous Studies, University of WA, said “The things we bring to the table are for us in the first instance but they will also benefit non-Indigenous people. We can share the social and emotional wellbeing approach to wellness.”

To view the Croakey Health Media article To make a proper Wellbeing Budget, what are the essential ingredients? in full click here.

SWAMS funded for major facility upgrade

The South West Aboriginal Medical Service (SWAMS) has received a big boost in the federal budget, with funding allocated for a major facility upgrade. $18.3 million was set aside on Tuesday night’s budget announcement, honouring an election promise from the Labor government made in March. At the time, Federal Labor Senator Sue Lines said SWAMS first approached her office five years ago in the hopes of receiving support. “They’ve been spending $600,000 a year on rent, which is money that should be going into providing services, so this will allow them to do what they need to,” Ms Lines said.

The funding will go a long way towards building a brand new heath hub for SWAMS in Carey Park on land donated to the project by the City of Bunbury. SWAMS CEO Lesley Nelson said the hub would be a huge step forward for Noongar people.,”The Heath Hub will have an enormous positive impact on the heath and wellbeing of Aboriginal people in the south west.”

To view the Busselton-Dunsborough Mail article South West Aboriginal Medical Service gets federal funds for new heath hub in full click here.

SWAMS Chairman Ernie Hill, WA Labor candidate for Forrest Bronwen English, Senator Sue Lines, and SWAMS CEO Leslie Nelson with 3-month-old Gregory Abbott. Image source: Busselton-Dunsborough Mail.

Focus on better programs, services, self-determination

Senator the Hon Malarndirri McCarthy has issued a media release stating the Albanese Labor Government is delivering on its election commitments for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians by improving programs and services and investing in self-determination, with this week’s Budget including funding:

  •  to implement the Uluru Statement from the Heart, with funding to:
    • the Australian Electoral Commission to prepare for the referendum
    • commence work on establishing a Makarrata Commission to oversee processes for agreement-making
  • for Indigenous health and education, including funding to:
    • train 500 First Nations health workers and practitioners
    • build modern, high-quality health clinics in areas of large and growing First Nations populations
    • build a Birthing on Country Centre of Excellence
    • allow NACCHO to combat RHD in high-risk communities
    • provide 30 four-chair dialysis units
    • improve the ability of Redfern AMS and Tharawal AC AMS to care for patients with chronic diseases
    • provide dialysis treatment buses for remote NSW
    • employ First Nations educators in 60 primary schools to teach First Nations languages and provide greater cultural understanding
    • increase access to early childhood education and care for Indigenous families
    • help First Nations controlled and Community Sector Organisation maintain quality services in light of rising costs
  • for housing and essential services on NT homelands
  • for First Nations Justice, with funding:
    • for 30 community-led justice reinvestment initiatives
    • for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services
    • to build capacity of the peak body National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services (NATSILS)
    • to support the National Family Violence Prevention Legal Services Forum
    • to deliver crime prevention and community safety programs in Central Australia
    • to extend the Indigenous Protected Areas program
  • for microgrid technology across First Nations communities to increase access to cheaper, cleaner, more reliable energy
  • to establish an Ambassador for First Nations Peoples
  • for a trial program to replace the Community Development Program with real jobs, real wages and proper conditions

To read Senator the Hon Malarndirri McCarthy’s media release Delivering a better future for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander  Australians in full click here.

Senator Malarndirri McCathy. Photo: Matt Roberts, ABC News.

Speeding access to innovative medicines

Yesterday Minister for Health and Aged Care, Mark Butler officially announced the appointment of the new independent Chair of the Health Technology Assessment (NTA) Review Committee, as well as extending the review by six months until December 2023. Chair of Medicines Australia, Dr Anna Lavell, said the new Chair Adjunct Professor Picone AO will lead major reforms that will speed up access to innovative medicines for all Australians. Dr Lavell said “Reform of Australia’s HTA system is well overdue, “We must reduce the time it takes for Australian patients to access innovative medicines, treatments and health technologies. Our health system must be modernised with a clear focus on patient needs and listening to patient perspectives.”

NACCHO Deputy CEO, Dr Dawn Casey PSM is one of the seven members on the HTA Review Reference Committee. The Committee will undertake the first major review and reform of the HTA system in 30 years. “It is a pivotal opporunity to improve this crucial process in accessing innovative medicines” Dr Vavell said.

To view the Healthy Industry Hub article Health Minister formally announces HTA Review independent chair after earlier reveal in full click here.

Image source: Accestra Access Extra.

COVID-19 vax hesitancy study

A study aimed at addressing lower vaccination rates among First Nations expectant mothers and babies will work with Aboriginal medical services around WA following a funding boost. Curtin School of Allied Health senior research fellow, Noongar woman and project lead Anne-Marie Eade said although the current data for mums and bubs is limited a need for greater access to vaccination is needed to ensure their safety due to greater vulnerability. “What we do know is that Aboriginal people are less likely to have been vaccinated against COVID-19 compared to the general population, with the differences most bleak in WA,” Ms Eade said.

The research comes after an $800,000 boost from the Australian government’s Medical Research Future Fund tackling health disparities between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and non-Indigenous Australians. “Our study will evaluate the successes, barriers and opportunities of Australia’s COVID-19 vaccination program to reach Aboriginal women and their unborn children – and potentially target children under five in the event of an early childhood COVID-19 vaccine
rollout,” Ms Eade said.

Ms Eade attributes a mistrust of health systems, misinformation, and a lack of vaccine literacy as factors creating barriers for Indigenous mothers, expectant mothers and women of child-bearing age. The result comes with an increased risk of requiring intensive care, preterm birth and prenatal death. “A pressing concern for pregnant women is about the potential impact of vaccination on their babies. Many prefer to be vaccinated after birth,” Ms Eade said.

To view the National Indigenous Times article Study aimed at increasing COVID-vaccination for vulnerable young mums and bubs backed by government funding in full click here.

Photo: Unsplash. Image source: National Indigenous Times.

Calls for Netflix ads to prioritise health

More than 50 leading Australian and international health and community organisations have signed an open letter to Netflix, urging the streaming giant to exclude alcohol advertising from its new ad-supported subscription tier. As the world’s biggest streaming platform, Netflix has the chance to set the standard for establishing an ad model that prioritises people’s health and wellbeing, said Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education (FARE) CEO Caterina Giorgi.

“Netflix has made a really important decision to exclude gambling advertising and they should do the same with alcohol advertising,” Ms Giorgi, a signatory to the joint letter, said. “Alcoholic products cause harm to so many families and communities across the world, causing more than 200 diseases and injuries and more than 3 million deaths each year.” “We know that alcohol advertising contributes to risky drinking particularly among young people, this is why the World Health Organization recommends restricting marketing as a priority area. Netflix can help to prevent harm by excluding alcohol advertising from their platform.”

The joint letter calls attention to research which shows that when young people are exposed to alcohol marketing, they are more likely to start drinking alcohol at a younger age and to drink alcohol at riskier levels. Other signatories to the letter are: NOFASD Australia; Sydney University’s Centre for Research Excellence in Indigenous Health and Alcohol, Addiction Medicine; World Health Organization Less Alcohol Unit; and the World Cancer Research Fund.

To read The National Tribune article Community organisations call on Netflix to set standard with ad model that prioritises health and wellbeing in full click here.

Image source: Candorium.

‘Embassy’ upholds legacy of First Nations protest

Embassy, an installation from the artist Richard Bell, Embassy, has a powerful presence in the forecourt of the Art Gallery of SA (AGSA) last week. A painted sign on the front of the canvas tent read ‘Aboriginal Embassy’ – a nod to the legacy of the Aboriginal Tent Embassy, a protest camp set up on the lawns of Parliament House on unceded Ngunnawal Country (Canberra) 50 years ago.

Also part of the Adelaide Film Festival, the Embassy tent brought together artists and community organisers for public talks, and featured film screenings between the conversations. The Aboriginal Tent Embassy is recognised as “one of the most significant, if not the most significant moment in Aboriginal protest history. It put into action a lot of the philosophies around self-determination and created so much from it, including the Aboriginal community-controlled health sector.

To read the CityMag article ‘Embassy’ upholds legacy of First Nations sovereignty and protest in full click here.

L—R: Nici Cumpston, Richard Bell and Dominic Guerrera. Image source: CityMag.

Sector Jobs

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Autonomy key to health outcomes for mob

The image in the feature tile is from the ACCHO Leads Hepatitis C Elimination Effort webpage of the Bulgarr Ngaru Medical Aboriginal Corporation (NSW) website.

Autonomy key to health outcomes for mob

Community-controlled organisations and culturally tailored healthcare are key to better health outcomes for Indigenous Australians, community leaders say. Indigenous researchers, health professionals and national leaders have gathered for the seventh annual Ngar-wu Wanyarra Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Conference in Shepparton in northern Victoria.

Rumbalara Aboriginal Cooperative’s Shannon Drake led a successful response to COVID-19 in the region, a result she says depended on a state-wide, collaborative reaction and acceptance that a First Nations perspective was a crucial concept to transform public health. Aboriginal people were identified as having a greater risk of morbidity and mortality from COVID-19, which required an autonomous, inclusive and culturally appropriate response, she said. The Wamba Wamba/Jaara woman highlighted the importance of instilling self-determination and empowerment within Indigenous communities.

To view the Goulburn Post article Autonomy key to Indigenous health outcomes in full click here.

Healthcare responses for Indigenous people need to be culturally appropriate, the conference heard. Photo: Dan Himbrechts. Image source: Goulburn Post.

NT to raise age of criminal responsibility

Yesterday the Aboriginal Peak Organisations NT (APO NT) issued a media release APO NT welcomes ‘Smarter Justice for a Safer Territory’ saying recognises the significance of the justice amendments being introduced into NT Parliament today, and congratulates the work of the Attorney General, the Honourable Chansey Paech, and his team in prioritising these reforms. “We at APO NT recognise that the NT needs a new way of working in matters of law and justice, for the benefit of all Territorians”, said Priscilla Atkins, CEO, North Australia Aboriginal Justice Agency.

“We welcome the announcement to raise the age of criminal responsibility to 12 years of age”, said Dr John Paterson, CEO of AMSANT. “APO NT commits to working with the government on better, therapeutic options for young offenders, to support our youth, and see the age of criminal responsibility ultimately raised to 14 years of age,” said Dr John Paterson.

To view the APO NT media release in full click here.

In a separate media releases, available here and here, NTCOSS and the Central Land Council, congratulated the NT Government for keeping its promise to raise the age of criminal responsibility to 12 and abolishing some mandatory sentencing laws. In their media release, available here, Amnesty International Australia acknowledged the NT Government’s announcement that it will introduce legislation to raise the age of criminal responsibility in the NT from 10 to 12, but said it must go further to protect children by raising the age of criminal responsibility to at least 14.

Photo: Emilia Terzon, 105.7 ABC Darwin. Image source: ABC News.

Health and wellbeing of urban kids study

Australia’s largest long-term study of the health and wellbeing of urban Aboriginal Children – the Study of Environment on Aboriginal Resilience and Child Health (SEARCH) is a unique resource for understanding the causes of ill health in urban Aboriginal children, and for developing and implementing strategies to improve their health. SEARCH is owned and led by Aboriginal people. It functions as a long term, co-creative partnership between the Aboriginal Health & Medical Research Council (AH&MRC), Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services (ACCHSs) in NSW, the Sax Institute, and leading researchers from across Australia.

To view the Sax Institute’s Children and Young People webpage with details about the SEARCH click here.

Discovery Indigenous research grants announced

On Monday this week the Australian Research Council (ARC) has announced $7.5m for 10 new projects and Discovery Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Awards (DAATSIAs) under the ARC’s Discovery Indigenous scheme. The scheme reflects the Australian Government’s commitment to strengthening outcomes for Indigenous Australians through funding research projects across a range of disciplines led by an Indigenous Australian researcher, independently or in collaboration with other research colleagues.

Under the scheme, a DAATSIA may be awarded in combination with a Discovery Indigenous project. The award provides salary support for up to five years, for an eligible Indigenous Australian researcher. CEO, Ms Judi Zielke PSM, said that Discovery Indigenous ensures that outstanding researchers have the opportunity to contribute to Australia’s broader research and innovation goals. “Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander researchers will lead projects that investigate issues impacting their communities and that lead to outcomes that benefit all Australians,” Ms Zielke said.

Some of the research projects to be undertaken in 2023 include:

Heidi Norman: “Governing Aboriginal self-determination in NSW: 1980-2025”(UTS)

Debbie DuthieDonald WhartonKate MurrayLeah East,  Danielle GallegosDeanne Minniecon: “co-designing a Food Sovereignty Model with Indigenous Communities” (QUT)

Helen MilroyCatherine ChamberlainJeneva OhanAlix WoolardSven SilburnTalila MilroyPradeep RaoMarshall Watson, Debra SinghLaurel Sellers: “develop and implement a culturally safe, trauma-informed parenting programme that can interrupt the intergenerational transmission of trauma and help improve Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and wellbeing” (UWA)

Karen AdamsVicki-Lea SaundersRoianne WestLinda DeravinLynne Stuart: “co-create an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander nurse and midwife theory and principles for practice” (Monash U)

Bindi BennettJoanna ZubrzyckiSusan YoungAntonia HendrickSera HarrisDonna BainesShayne Walker: “utilising simulation to develop culturally responsive social workers” (Bond U)

To view the Australian Government Australian Research Council media release New Discovery Indigenous projects will enrich Australia’s research landscape in full click here.

Image source: Indigenous researchers webpage of University of Melbourne website.

Family Therapy: First Nations Grad Cert

A Graduate Certificate in Family Therapy: First Nations course being offered by the La Trobe University, Melbourne, will commence in March 2023. This post-graduate course is ideal for workers who would like to enhance their skills in working professionally and respectfully with First Nations families and communities. This National course is renowned for its cultural fit with First Nations wisdoms and knowledge. It offers a grounding in family therapy theory with emphasis on creating respectful relationships and culturally safe, trauma informed ways of working.

There have been 15 deliveries of this course from 2009—2021 with 175 graduates working in First Nations communities across the country.
This course provides the opportunity to participate in cross- cultural learning with respect to the diversity of different communities and workplace settings.

You can access a flyer here for more information about the Graduate Certificate in Family Therapy: First Nations. including details of an online information session on Tuesday 18 October 2022.

Calls for end to mental health stigmatising

With radical action we can end stigma and discrimination against people with mental health conditions and their families globally, says The Lancet Commission on Ending Stigma and Discrimination in Mental Health, which sets out key recommendations to achieve this goal. Recent estimates suggest one in eight people, nearly one billion people globally, are living with a mental health condition; this rises to one in seven 10- to 19-year-olds. These people experience a double threat: the impact of the condition itself and the damaging social consequences of stigma and discrimination.

The COVID-19 pandemic helped to shine a light on the urgent mental health situation globally and there was an estimated 25% rise in the prevalence of depression and anxiety in the first year of the pandemic. However, despite the high incidence of mental health conditions around the world, mental health-related stigma and discrimination is also widespread. This can lead to problems in accessing health care and increased likelihood of health complications leading to early death.

To view the Hospital and Healthcare article Experts call for action to end mental health stigmatising in full click here.

Image source: Stigma and Discrimination webpage of National Mental Health Consumers & Care Forum website.

Sector Jobs

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

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

Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day

One in four pregnancies end in miscarriage. Last year the Australian Parliament has officially recognised ‘Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day’, to acknowledge families who have lost a baby through stillbirth, infant death or miscarriage. This year the day will observed on  Saturday 15 October 2022 alongside the international community. The motion was moved by a group of senators including Senator Kristina Keneally, whose daughter Caroline was stillborn in 1999. Her own loss and love for her daughter have been a driving force in advocating for families who have lost a child.

In 2018, the Senator led a Select Committee on Stillbirth Research and Education which published a report making recommendations in three key areas – namely, prevention of stillbirths, investigation into their causes, and support for families. Important headway was made on the third area at the end of last year, following changes to the Fair Work Act, under which parents of stillborn babies are now guaranteed access to unpaid parental leave for up to twelve months.

The report also recommended a National Stillbirth Action Plan, which has also been implemented by the Government and aims to reduce the rate of stillbirths by 20% over five years. Acknowledging this important day and implementing the recommendations in the Senate’s stillbirth report are important steps in recognising the worth of every child no matter their stage of life, and the very real grief and suffering experienced by families who lose a child through stillbirth, infant death or miscarriage.

The above information was extracted from the Women’s Forum Australia website. Related to this topic is the information included in yesterday’s NACCHO Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health News about the newly launched Miscarriage Australia website.

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: How poor housing affects health

The image in the feature tile is of Shannon Urban is camping in a derelict building with no power and water connected while he waits for new houses to be built. Photo: Che Chorley. Image source: ABC News article Feeling again forgotten at a federal election, remote voters lament empty promises to close the gap, 5 May 2022.

How poor housing affects health

The housing crisis is currently a hot-button issue making headlines Australia-wide. But it’s been endemic in Central Australia for decades. A chronic shortage of available housing in remote Indigenous communities has significant consequences, with unintended household crowding ultimately contributing to the poor health of residents.

University of Queensland anthropologist and architect Professor Paul Memmott has been visiting the Barkly region in the centre of the NT for decades. He’s part of a multi-disciplinary team of five UQ researchers who collaborated with local medical service, Anyinginyi Health Aboriginal Corporation, to examine the link between housing and health for Indigenous people living on remote Country. The resulting study, Pilyii Papulu Purrakaj-ji (Good housing to prevent sickness), won a UQ Research Partnerships and Translation Award (RPAT) on Friday (16 September 2022) last week.

“We co-designed a research project to investigate the relationship between housing, crowding and infectious diseases,” Professor Memmott said. “But importantly, it also collated an evidence base to advocate for change.”

To view The University of Queensland Australia article How housing affects health on remote Country click here.

Tin houses on the outskirts of Tennant Creek, NT, that are used informally as spillover accommodation. Image source: The University of Queensland Australia UQ News webpage.

Far North research to treat tuberculosis

A breakthrough treatment for tuberculosis and ways to prevent dementia were unveiled last week at the Cairns Hospital annual research and innovation symposium. The annual event featured more than 40 presentations from the Far North Queensland medical and allied health research community. The symposium heard about research into harnessing the power of immune cells for treating tuberculosis (TB), one of the world’s deadliest diseases, causing more than 1.5 million deaths a year.

Doctor Saparna Pai, from the Australian Institute of Tropical Health and Medicine at James Cook University, said his team had discovered immune cells called Q+ cells, which could help fight TB. TB risk is low in Queensland, but it’s frequently reported in Papua New Guinea and health authorities are concerned about potential spread through Torres Strait to mainland Australia.

To view the Tropic Now article Far North research to treat tuberculosis and prevent dementia click here. Note, a more detailed article on preventing dementia was published in the in the NACCHO Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander News on 16 September 2022 , available here.

Cairns Hospital. Image source: Tropic Now.

Strong Women for Healthy Country meet

Over 200 Aboriginal women have convened on Eastern Arrernte Country to finalise a 4 year effort in designing an NT wide network aimed at supporting each other in the face of urgent issues impacting their communities. The Strong Women for Healthy Country (SWHC) Forum takes place this week at Ross River where women caring for Country across the NT will continue driving the network.

The forum has once again drawn hundreds of women to make the journey from over 30 remote towns and communities, to continue to build a strategy to realise their vision. “We are strong Indigenous women of the NT. We stand united as one strong voice. We commit to a network that gives equal power to the rights of all our women. Strong Women means Healthy Country.” (SWHC Vision Statement). The Strong Women for Healthy Country Network, with the support of Mimal Land Management, was initiated by women involved in ranger programs, who quickly invited Aboriginal healers, artists, and community workers to join the conversation.

To view the SWHC Network media release NT’s First Nations women take their futures into their own hands in full click here.

2021 Strong Women for Healthy Country Forum. Image source: Indigenous Carbon Industry Network website.

Group A Streptococcus molecular POC testing

A research article Roadmap to incorporating group A Streptococcus molecular point‐of‐care testing for remote Australia: a key activity to eliminate rheumatic heart disease (RHD) has been published today in the Medical Journal of Australia. Strep A Point Of Care Testing (POCT) is a critical element in preventing acute rheumatic fever (ARF) and will contribute to the elimination of RHD in Australia.

Group A β‐haemolytic Streptococcus pyogenes (Strep A) most commonly causes superficial infections of the throat (pharyngitis) and skin (impetigo). In Australia, one‐third of primary school aged children have an episode of pharyngitis each year, with Strep A identified in about 20% of children with symptomatic pharyngitis and 10% of asymptomatic children. Superficial Strep A infections are the sole precursor of ARF and RHD. The burden of ARF and RHD in remote Australian communities is high and disproportionately affects Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, with the reported mortality rates of RHD in Aboriginal populations are among the highest worldwide. This is despite ARF and RHD being preventable through the early treatment of Strep A. I

Given the increasing pipeline of POCT and momentum to expand decentralised testing across Australia, evaluations are urgently needed to determine the population benefits, health service impacts and costs associated with integrated multi‐pathogen POCT. These will ensure that adequate frameworks including workforce planning and funding models are in place to support further scale up. The infrastructure, rationale and need for Strep A molecular POCT in remote Australia, where prevention of ARF has the highest economic and societal benefit, is crucial.

To view the article in full click here.

Group A Streptococcus. Image source: Microbiologics Blog webpage.

Mental health, substance use, reincarceration

New research shows that people released from prison who sought help for their mental health or substance use problems were more likely to end up back in prison, prompting calls for an overhaul of the system to allow quicker and more consistent support. The study, published in the Journal PLOS ONE, examined the link between contact with mental health and substance use treatment services and reincarceration rates among 1,115 adults released from prisons in Queensland, Australia.

Lead researcher Professor Stuart Kinner, from the Curtin School of Population Health, said despite widespread belief that access to substance use treatment and community mental health services after release from prison can reduce reincarceration rates, this study actually found the opposite. “Globally, more than 11 million people are incarcerated on any given day, and many of these individuals experience significant mental health and substance use issues. In our study, we found that more than half of the people released from prison had been diagnosed with a mental illness or a substance use disorder, and 21% had been diagnosed with both,” Professor Kinner said.

“In Australia, more than 60,000 people are released from prison each year and the incarceration rate is increasing rapidly. Almost one in two people released from prison is back in custody within two years. “Although you might expect that treating substance use and mental health issues would result in better outcomes, our study found that people who accessed these services after release from prison were actually more likely to be reincarcerated.”

To view the Curtin University article Inadequate post-release support drives up reincarceration rates: study click here.

Photo: Jono Searle, AAP. Image source: The West Australian.

Aboriginal SEWB Scholarships Program

Over five years, $5.6 million will be invested to support the Aboriginal Social and Emotional Wellbeing Scholarships Program which provide training courses and professional development opportunities for Aboriginal people who wish to work in the mental health sector. The state government said the program provided more than a dozen scholarships for students attending RMIT and Deakin Universities in semester one this year. “A mental health and wellbeing system that provides culturally safe and inclusive care ensures the best possible support for every Victorian with mental illness,” mental health and treaty and first peoples minister Gabrielle Williams said.

“Our dedicated mental health workers are the backbone of our reformed mental health system – supporting them through study and work is the best way to support every Victorian that needs help.” The program also allows our mental health services to learn from trainees about Aboriginal culture and gain knowledge and perspective, so they can develop more holistic and well-informed supports and care programs for all Victorians.

To view the Star Weekly article Funding for Aboriginal Social and Emotional Wellbeing Scholarships Program in full click here.

Aboriginal Health Practitioner Stevie-Lee Ryan with a client. Photo: Justin McManus. Image source: The Age.

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.

Dementia Action Week 19–25 Sep 2022

Dementia impacts close to half a million Australians and almost 1.6 million Australians are involved in their care. The number of people living with dementia is set to double in the next 25 years. With so many people impacted now and into the future, it is vital we clear up some of the prevailing misconceptions about dementia. People living with dementia can live active and fulfilling lives many years after diagnosis. Despite this, they often experience discrimination. In a Dementia Australia survey, more than 70% of people believed discrimination towards people with dementia is common or very common.

The concept for Dementia Action Week was developed in consultation with Dementia Advocates, who have a lived experience of dementia. The ‘A little support makes a big difference‘ campaign demonstrates that many people living with dementia can continue to live well for many years after their diagnosis. In 2021, the focus was also on supporting and celebrating carers of people living with dementia.

Dementia Australia has a range of resources for: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, available here, Aboriginal workers, available here, and Aboriginal health workers, available here.

For more information about Dementia Action Week 2022 click here.

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: CATSINaM 25th Anniversary Conference highlights

The image in the feature tile is of the CATSINaM logo created by Lesley Salem, a descendent of the Gringai-Wonnarua Nation in NSW, a Nurse Practitioner and member of CATSINaM. Image source: CATSINaM website.

CATSINaM 25th Anniversary Conference highlights

Yesterday, as part of its 25th Anniversary National Conference the Congress of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Nurses and Midwives (CATSINaM):

• celebrated the opening of its In Our Own Right: Black Australian Nurses and Midwives Stories Exhibition. The exhibition pays tribute to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander nursing and midwifery trailblazers and role models, showcasing individual and collective stories of educational achievement and of facing and overcoming challenges, like racism, in order to effect change within health services for the benefit of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. You can view CATSINaM’s media release relating to exhibition here.

• launched the highly anticipated report: ‘gettin em n keepin em n growin em’: Strategies for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander nursing and midwifery education reform (GENKE II). A formative work in CATSINaM’s 25 Years of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander nursing and midwifery activism was the original 2002 ‘getting em n keepin em’: Report of the Indigenous Nursing and Education Working Group (GENKE I) that aimed to address the detrimentally low numbers of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander nurses and midwives in the health workforce. Honoring and reviewing this work, this year CATSINaM developed GENKE II 2022 presenting renewed strategies to address the persistent. CATSINaM’s media release, about the GENKE II report is available here.

Today, for the first time in Australian history, a national nursing and midwifery leadership group will deliver an apology to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, for the hurt and harm caused by non-Indigenous nurses and midwives. Professor Karen Strickland, Chair of the Council of Deans of Nursing and Midwifery (CDNM), will deliver an apology on behalf of the CDNM and its members, to over 300 delegates attending the 2022 CATSINaM National Conference. The majority of delegates will be Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander practising or retired, and student nurses and midwives. CATSINaM’s media release relating to the apology is available here.

Photos from the CATSINaM 2022 National Conference. CATSINaM Tweet Friday 19 August 2022.

NACCHO CEO delivers keynote address

Earlier this morning NACCHO CEO and Lead Convener of the Coalition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peaks organisations, Pat Turner AM delivered a keynote address at the CATSINaM National Conference. In her address Ms Turner said she received a letter last week from the PM confirming his government’s commitment to the National Agreement on Closing the Gap. Although Ms Turner believes “there is no single strategy, idea, or group that will deliver the equity and change [Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people] are entitled to, the National Agreement on Closing the Gap is fundamental to driving reform in how Australian governments interact with all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.”

The National Agreement on Closing the Gap, Ms Turner said “is the first intergovernmental agreement designed to improve the lives of our people that has been negotiated and agreed with representatives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people across Australia. The National Agreement commits this country to a new direction and is a pledge from all governments to fundamentally change the way they work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and organisations.”

You can read Pat Turner’s keynote address in full on the NACCHO website here.

Pat Turner, 2022 CATSINaM National Conference. Image source: Lowitja Institute Tweet.

Reducing cervical cancer impacts

Aboriginal organisations across NSW will benefit from six new Cervical Screening Community Grants which will provide culturally responsive and targeted health promotion initiatives within Aboriginal communities. The locally-led programs are aimed at boosting the number of Aboriginal women across the state who access cervical screening, reducing the impact of cervical cancer.

Minister for Women, Regional Health and Mental Health, Bronnie Taylor said the grants are part of $114,350 in funding awarded to Local Health Districts and non-profit organisations through the Cancer Institute NSW to promote the National Cervical Screening Program. “Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women are almost four-times more likely to die from cervical cancer than non-Aboriginal women and these grants work towards closing the gap,” Mrs Taylor said. “Cervical cancer is one of the most preventable cancers and we know having a Cervical Screening Test every five years is now the best way to prevent it. By funding these grants, we are working to provide opportunities to educate local communities on the ground about the importance of cervical screening.”

To view the NSW Government media release Grants awarded to reduce the impact of cervical cancer in Aboriginal communities in full click here.

Yorta Yorta, Dja Dja Wurrung and Gamiloroi artist Madison Connors was commissioned by Cancer Council Victoria to create 12 unique art pieces to raise awareness about cervical screening to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. Image source: Cancer Council VIC website.

Mental health support for flood victims

The Albanese Government is delivering $13.1 million in targeted mental health support for NSW communities impacted by the devastating recent floods. Disasters don’t just affect the economy – there are also severe environmental and social impacts, including impacts on the wellbeing and mental health of individuals and communities – manifesting in increased rates of anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder and domestic and family violence. The compounding effect of multiple floods in these communities will have a lasting impact, so improving the availability and accessibility of support is critical during this stage of recovery.

This funding will ensure those most impacted by the floods can receive the support they need to recover. First Nations communities most impacted by the floods will be supported by $3 million to NACCHO to distribute across impacted community controlled organisations to provide much needed trauma counselling, healing and support for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

To view the Minister for Health and Aged Care, the Hon Mark Butler MP’s media release Mental health support for NSW floods in full click here.

AIHW releases health check data

Through Medicare, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people can receive Indigenous‑‍specific health checks from their doctor, as well as referrals for Indigenous‑‍specific follow‑‍up services. According to an Australian Institute of Health and Welfare report released this week:

  • In 2020–‍21, 237,000 Indigenous Australians had one of these health checks (27% of the projected population).
  • The proportion of Indigenous health check patients who had an Indigenous‑‍specific follow‑‍up service within 12 months of their check increased from 12% to 47% between 2010–‍11 and 2019–‍20.

The report presents data on Indigenous‑‍specific health checks and follow‑‍up services for a time period up until the end of June 2021 (i.e. overlapping with the COVID‑19 period). It also includes data on telehealth MBS items that were introduced in 2020 as part of the response to COVID‑‍19.

To view the AIHW web report Indigenous health checks and follow-ups in full click here.

Image source: Galambia Aboriginal Health Services website.

Bowel screening webinar series

Cancer Council, in partnership with the Australian Government, recently launched a national campaign to encourage people to Get2it and participate in the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program (NBCSP). As a part of this, content and resources have been developed specifically for GPs and other primary care health professionals to continue to encourage their patients to take part in bowel cancer screening. This includes a free three-part webinar series titled ‘Getting to the bottom of bowel screening’ for GPs, nurses, and other health professionals. This educational series will be presented by an array of experts from across Australia talking to key topics in the bowel screening space, providing valuable insights to GPs and health professionals to help drive participation in screening.

You can register for each webinar via the below links, or sign up to receive the recording if you are unable to make the 8–9 PM (AEST) webinars on the night.

• Improving NBCSP participation – understanding our audience – Tuesday 23 August, register here

• Bowel cancer screening – from the GP perspectiveWednesday 31 August, register here

• Getting to the bottom of colonoscopy use in bowel screening Wednesday 31 August, register here

You can access a range of GP and health professional specific resources, videos (such as the one below), newsletter and social media content, key messages and calls to action by visiting the Cancer Council Campaign Hub here.

Video consults find niche in mental health

Mental health consults are the top reason for clinicians to use video-based telehealth services, according to the national virtual public health information service. It’s been just over a month since the Department of Health ditched a swathe of MBS phone items, a move which many GPs were concerned would ultimately harm vulnerable mental health patients the most.

While phone consults were wholeheartedly embraced from the beginning of the pandemic, video telehealth uptake has lagged. From the beginning of the pandemic through to April 2022, phone consults have accounted for 96% of all GP telehealth consults.

Despite this general avoidance, there is at least one area where video telehealth is being embraced: mental health. One in every five video consults made using the Healthdirect video call program – which is currently free for general practices and ACCHOs to integrate into their services – is a mental health consult.

To read the Wild Health article Video consults find niche in mental health by Holly Payne in full click here.

Some studies have found that video mental-health therapy can be as effective as in-person treatment. Photo: Getty Images. Image source: The Wall Street Journal.

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: 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.