NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: 2021 Census – make sure you’re counted

feature tile text 'make sure your community is counted in the 2021 census' & vector image of Australia with orange yellow black brown people all over the map

2021 Census – make sure you’re counted

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) has started sending instructions on how to complete the Census to more than 10 million Australian households ahead of the Census on Tuesday 10 August 2021. For people in remote communities, there will be Census teams available to help households complete their form. Where possible, they’ll be people from within the community.

Chenile Chandler, a young Wurundjeri woman of the Kulin Nations and Census Community Engagement Officer is helping more Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians to understand the benefits of completing the Census. Chenile said the ABS has been working closely with communities to make sure people can take part and be counted, “Our ABS Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander engagement staff, and our Census teams, are there to support community, including the local people who choose work on the Census. Having the right numbers means the right services can be provided in communities. For example, knowing the number of babies in a region can help plan funding for preschools or mums and bubs health programs. There’s plenty of help for our mob to complete the Census, so that everyone participates.”

“You can start as soon as you get your instructions if you know where you’ll be on Census night. You can complete the Census online, on a mobile device or on paper. This will make it easier for people to complete their Census at a time that suits them. Remember, the Census can help plan for community needs. That’s why it’s important to include everyone who is staying in your home on Census night, such as Elders, babies and visitors. Now more than ever, as we live through the COVID-19 pandemic, we need to know the demographics of our communities to help plan programs and services.”

“Your participation in the Census means having the right services for our mob. Make sure you and your family are counted.”

To view the ABS Census media release in full click here and for more information and resources, visit the ABS website here.

banner text 'ABS logo Census on orange strip with Aboriginal art in background

‘Our Story. Our Future.’ was created by proud Wiradjuri, Wotjobaluk, Yuin and Gumbaynggirr artist Luke Penrith and Maluililgal people, Badu Island artist Naseli Tamwoy.

Kimberley communities without drinking water

Throughout WA’s Kimberley region, potentially hundreds of Indigenous residents drink water each day without knowing whether it is harming their health. Those residents live in or regularly visit the 44 remote communities classed as ‘very small’, which are included in the WA Government’s Remote Essential and Municipal Services Program, known as REMS.

In 2019, these communities started receiving annual drinking water testing for only chemical contaminants — four years after a scathing WA Auditor General’s report. Since then, a handful of those very small remote communities have been put on the Department of Communities’ regular water testing schedule. But the vast majority, all of which are in the Kimberley, still do not receive testing for dangerous microbes such as the potentially lethal E. coli bacteria.

That lack of testing was highlighted in this year’s follow-up Auditor General’s report, which found E. coli and uranium contamination still remained an issue in some communities.  Residents in those communities say they, like almost all Australians, deserve to know their drinking water is safe, while experts point to technologies such as mobile testing kits as a potential solution.

To view the full article click here.

two water tanks on a platform, overgrown in bush setting

Successive WA Auditor General reports have highlighted drinking water in remote Indigenous communities as an area of concern. Photo: Erin Parke, ABC Kimberley. Image source: ABC News.

Calls to prioritise support to reduce OOHC

One year after all Australian governments and the Coalition of Peaks signed the National Agreement on Closing the Gap, the Productivity Commission has released the first Annual Data Compilation Report. “As a national member of the Peaks, we welcome the report. It will monitor the progress on key outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children,” SNAICC CEO Catherine Liddle said.

“Our families need urgent support – and the report highlights that systemic transformation is what is required. It calls for governments to change the way they do business with our people to close the gap. This includes continuing to work with our sectors to ensure they are prioritised as the experts in delivering culturally and locally appropriate services to our families. Importantly, this first report also sets baselines to track progress of the Closing the Gap targets and provides building blocks for accountability to the actions that governments make,” Ms Liddle said.

To view the SNAICC media release in full click here.

black & white image of girl holding teddy in one hand and pulling back a curtain with the other hand

Image source: The Guardian.

Oral hygiene promoted

The importance or oral health will be highlighted during Dental Health Week, with children, families and staff at early year services within the Lower Hume (Mitchell and Murrindindi Shires) are getting excited about this year’s theme: Keep your smile for life. Dental Health Services Victoria (DHSV) supports the Australian Dental Association’s campaign, which runs from August 2 to 8. This year’s theme aims to raise awareness across all ages of the importance of maintaining good oral health to keep a smile for life.

DHSV have also launched Aboriginal dental health ambassador’s and resources to help promote oral health to Aboriginal communities this year. These include Wala the Platypus, Dirran the Kangaroo and Dhuna (pronounced thuna) the Koala who promote the Smiles 4 Miles key messages of drink well, clean well and eat well. These characters were created by artist Madison Connors, a proud Yorta Yorta (Wolithica), Dja Dja Wurrung and Kamilaroi woman and mother to two. Wala is the Yorta Yorta word for water, Dirran is the Yorta Yorta word for teeth and Dhuna is the Yorta Yorta word for eat.

The Smiles 4 Miles program is an initiative of DHSV, implemented locally by Lower Hume Primary Care Partnership (PCP) which aims to improve the oral health of preschool aged children and their families by encouraging healthy eating, healthy drinking, good oral hygiene and regular dental visits.

To view the full article in the Riverine Herald click here and for more information on the Smiles 4 Miles program in Lower Hume and resources click here.

Dirran the Kangaroo drawing for Dental Health Week

Aboriginal dental health ambassador’s and resources to help promote oral health to Aboriginal communities have been launched as part of Dental Health Week, including Dirran the Kangaroo.

Gwandalan National Palliative Care Project

BRAMS Newsletter

Broome Regional Aboriginal Medical Service (BRAMS) have published the July edition of their newsletter. In this edition topics covered include SOLID Fit, NDIS service delivery, Health Check Month, COVID-19 vaccine staff stories, capacity building funding and a patient profile.

Click here to view the newsletter.

banner text 'BRAMS NEWSLETTER July 2021' blue red grey black white Aboriginal dot painting

Indigenous aged care preferred

The majority of older Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people prefer to access aged care provided by Aboriginal services, a Neuroscience Research Australia study has found. The study, published in the Australasian Journal on Ageing, investigated Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’s preferences for health and aged care services.

It involved 336 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 60 years or older from both regional and urban areas. Most participants reported a preference for care from an Aboriginal community-controlled service (59%) but 10% prefer a mainstream service and almost a third indicate they are comfortable receiving either (31%).

NeuRA Aboriginal Health and Ageing Group lead Dr Kylie Radford said the research highlighted a lack of cultural safety for older Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in mainstream aged care, “There is a strong preference for accessing services and receiving services through Aboriginal community-controlled health organisations and a lot of people say that they would only receive services through that means. One of the upshots of that is where those services aren’t available or accessible, people may not be receiving any services because mainstream services are not seen as appropriate or culturally safe.”

The study identified racism as the main reason Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people preferred to receive care from Aboriginal services.

To view the full article click here.

elderly Aboriginal man and woman against blurred green foliage

Image source: Australian Ageing Agenda.

New process for job advertising

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

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


dice spelling JOBS resting on keyboard

World Breastfeeding Week

Set every August for the first seven days of the month, World Breastfeeding Week aims to raise awareness of the health and wellbeing outcomes of breastfeeding and the importance of supporting mothers to breastfeed for as long as they wish.

The event is organised every year by the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA), a global network that aims to protect, promote and support breastfeeding around the world. Along the way, it works with the World Health Organization and UNICEF to get its aid to the right people in the right communities.

Traditionally breastfeeding was common practice for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women. The traditional way was to breastfeed for up to four years, sometimes longer, gradually introducing nutritious bush foods. Today the good news is that most Aboriginal women (83%) begin breastfeeding. You can access the booklet Yarning about breastfeeding: Celebrating our stories booklet produced by VACCHO here.

For more information about World Breastfeeding Week 1–7 August 2021 click here.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: NACCHO demands action to eliminate hepatitis

NACCHO demands action to eliminate Hepatitis

This year’s World Hepatitis Day has NACCHO and Eliminate Hepatitis C Australia Partnership (EC Australia) have joined forces to raise awareness of viral hepatitis and unite to demand action from decision-makers to eliminate Viral Hepatitis impacting communities. COVID-19 has significantly impacted access to healthcare services across the country and Australians suffering from chronic diseases, such as Hepatitis B and C, have been greatly impacted. An estimated 200,000 fewer people received Hepatitis screening than the expected number in 2020 – a 20% decrease. Globally, 325 million people are living with a hepatitis infection and every 30 seconds someone dies from a hepatitis related illness.

NACCHO media release on World Hepatitis Day 2021: “Hep Can’t Wait” Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities need to step forward for diagnosis and treatment to help prevent Hepatitis B and C.

More must be done to prevent new infections and ensure all that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who have hepatitis C are treated. Addressing these inequities can’t wait. For each person who remains undiagnosed, their risk of liver damage and complications increases over time. Hepatitis C is curable and easy to treat.

NACCHO Chair Donnella Mills states, “Our communities have worked hard to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in regional areas, proving that when we work together, we can drive positive results for our people. However, the pandemic should not put the treatment of serious diseases at a standstill. The prevalence of viral hepatitis rates within Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities is concerning.”

“I encourage our people to reach out to their local Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations to get tested and seek treatment and help us share relevant information on how to control these diseases.”

In 2021 EC Australia will be convening a national reference group to support the development of a National health promotion campaign targeting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. The campaign will raise awareness about and uptake of the new hepatitis C treatments and address ongoing stigma relating to hepatitis C and injecting drug use. The campaign will require further funding to ensure the message gets out to all Aboriginal communities.

AMS Redfern celebrates 50 years of service

Congratulations AMS Redfern Aboriginal Medical Service Cooperative Ltd on celebrating 50 years since the establishment of the very first Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Service in Australia in 1971!

The Sydney AMS has evolved from a small shop front medical clinic into a multidisciplinary Primary Health Care service and has now been treating generations of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander clients for over half a century.

The documentary created by NACCHO in 2016 celebrates the history of AMS Redfern.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people should be aware that this video may contain images, voices and names of people who have passed away.

ACCHOs need adequate vaccine supply

Dr Jason Agostino is calling for adequate supplies of COVID-19 vaccines for Indigenous health services and other places where Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are accessing healthcare. Dr Agostino says ‘we’ve seen that vaccination rates up to now have been lower than that of non-Indigenous Australians and that’s mainly been due to the supply, as we’ve been getting more Pfizer into Aboriginal health services we’ve seen coverage rates picked up and we need to support those efforts wherever it is happening.’

You can view Dr Agostino talking on ABC here.

screenshot of ABC interview with Dr Agostino re COVID-19 vaccine supply

AHWs increase patient outcomes

A new report has highlighted the importance of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health workers and health practitioners in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patient outcomes. Released by the NSW Bureau of Health Information, the report is the culmination of 8,000 Aboriginal people’s experiences in NSW public hospitals and health services between 2014 and 2019. It found that the support provided by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health workers overwhelmingly contributed to higher levels of patient care and satisfaction.

Proud Kuku Yalanji man and CEO of the National Association of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workers and Practitioners (NAATSIHWP) Karl Briscoe said the “report reinforces what we have always known”. The report found that 64% of patients supported by an Indigenous healthcare worker said they ‘always’ had the opportunity to talk to a doctor compared to 47% who were not supported by an Indigenous health worker. And 79% said that Indigenous health professionals ‘always’ explained things in a way they could understand compared to 68% who were not supported by an Indigenous health worker.

The report also brought together data from Indigenous women who gave birth in hospitals in the care of Indigenous health care workers.

To view the article in full click here.

Aboriginal female patient sitting up in hospital bed, medical professional sitting on bed & Aboriginal Interpreter Service employee sitting beside bed

Image source: SCIMEX website.

Delivering safe water to communities

Aboriginal communities have come together with water planners, tech companies, infrastructure engineers and academics to develop smart solutions. The drinking water is contaminated in nearly a quarter of remote Aboriginal communities in Western Australia. These are communities where Aboriginal people live on their homelands by choice. Traces of arsenic, nitrates, E coli and even uranium are revealed in a damning Auditor-General’s report.

Despite access to safe, acceptable and affordable water being a basic human right, according to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, many Australians are compromising their health when they drink water from the tap.

It’s a risk that Annette Stokes, Chief Investigator for the Western Desert Kidney Health Project, knows too well, “Every Friday we’re having funerals. Our people are dying.”  Stokes’ project set out to reduce diabetes and kidney disease in ten homelands communities. Through her research she identified unsafe nitrate levels in drinking water as a key disease risk in those communities.

To view the full article click here.

Aboriginal hand under running tap water, outback red dusty landscape in background

Image source: ABC News.

Aboriginal English in health communications

Indigenous Australians experience poorer health outcomes than non-Indigenous Australians. They are sick more often, die younger and are at higher risk of serious health complications, including heart disease. One way to improve health outcomes is through targeted health communication in local languages. The COVID-19 pandemic has seen increased attention given to the use of Indigenous languages in health settings around the world, including Australia.

Many COVID-19 resources have been developed in partnership with local communities, including in widely-spoken Australian Aboriginal languages such as Kriol. Other initiatives have inspired new Indigenous health professionals to effectively communicate complex medical terminology and concepts to communities. A frequent assumption among non-Indigenous people in Australia is that mainstream English media should work well for the almost 80% of Indigenous people in Australia for whom Aboriginal English is their first language.

You can view the article in full here and an animated Heart Foundation video encouraging Aboriginal people to get a heart check below.

Updated cancer portal

Cancer is a term used for a variety of diseases that cause damage to the body’s cells. Normally cells grow and multiply in a controlled way but cancer causes cells to grow and multiply in an uncontrolled way. If these damaged cells spread into surrounding areas or to different parts of the body, they are known as malignant. Some cancers can be treated, but the effectiveness of treatment and survival rates vary between different types of cancer and patients.

Cancer is a problem in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community. Some cancers, particularly lung and other smoking-related cancers, are the cause of many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander deaths. This is partly because high proportions of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people engage in smoking tobacco and other risk factors like risky drinking and poor nutrition. Other factors that increase the likelihood of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people dying from cancers are:

  • the types of cancers they develop (such as cancers of the lung and liver) are more likely to be fatal
  • their cancer may be more advanced by the time it is found (which is partly because Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people may visit their doctor later and/or may not participate in screening programs)
  • they often have higher rates of other conditions that affect the cancer or cancer treatment
  • they are less likely to receive optimal treatment

The Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet has an updated Cancer portal providing information on bowel, breast, cervical, lung and prostate cancer as well as risks and protective factors, prevention and management and cultural perspectives.

You can access the cancer portal here. and the Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet Summary of cancer among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people here.cover of Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet summary of cancer among ATSI people publication, including artwork 'Karnta' by Corinne Nampijinpa Ryan

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Conference

The Department of Rural Health invites you to attend the 2021 Ngar-wu Wanyarra Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health Conference.  This year the conference will be held online, commencing at 9:30 AM on Wednesday 13 October 2021.  The conference will begin with a keynote address from Mr Stan Grant.

The conference program is currently being finalised and updates can be viewed on the Department of Rural Health website here.

You can register for the conference here – registrations close Thursday 23 September 2021.

If you have any further enquiries please do not hesitate to contact Ms Di Doyle (Events Coordinator) on 02 5823 4512 or by email here.

banner Aboriginal dot art & portrait shot of Stan Grant

New process for job advertising

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Delta outbreak would devastate remote communities

Delta outbreak would devastate remote communities

In an article in the ABC News, outback doctors warn that the COVID-19 Delta variant makes a regional outbreak even more dangerous. They said they do not have enough staff, let alone ventilators, to cope with a Delta outbreak.

NACCHO medical adviser, Dr Jason Agostino, said to ABC News that talk of abandoning any attempt to control COVID-19 would be dangerous.

“In remote Australia and across all of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australia, we only have around 22 per cent of people [who] have received a first dose of any vaccine, and that’s much lower than in the non-Indigenous population.

“We know that COVID-19 causes more serious disease in people with chronic conditions, [such as] diabetes and heart disease and [that] it spreads easily among crowded houses.

“Unfortunately, many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have these chronic diseases from younger ages and also live in crowded houses.

Dr Agostino agreed it was important for Australia to find vaccines that were safe for Indigenous children and said that, until a much higher rate of vaccination had been achieved, “lockdowns are going to be a way of life”.

You can view the article in ABC News here.

Kids playing in remote community. Image credit: Brisbane Times.

Kids playing in remote community. Image credit: Brisbane Times. Feature tile image credit of University of Queensland website.

 

Successful place-based pandemic approach

Pandemics such as COVID-19 are a serious public health risk for Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, yet primary healthcare systems are not well resourced to respond to such urgent events. At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, a federal government advisory group recommended a rapid, tailored Indigenous response to prevent predicted high morbidity and mortality rates. This paper examines the efforts of Gurriny Yealamucka Health Service (Gurriny), which in the absence of dedicated funding, pivoted its operations in response to COVID-19.

Gurriny is the only primary healthcare service in the discrete Indigenous community of Yarrabah, Far North Queensland. They responded to COVID-19 by leading with local solutions to keep Yarrabah safe. Four key strategies were implemented: managing the health service operations, realigning services, educating and supporting community, and working across agencies.

The success of the locally led, holistic, comprehensive and culturally safe response of Gurriny suggests that such tailored place-based approaches to pandemics (and other health issues) are appropriate, but require dedicated resourcing.

You can read the paper in the DocWire News here.

Gurriny Yealamucka Health Service

Gurriny Yealamucka Health Service.

 

Eye health inequity

A recent study published on Science Direct provides a critical realist analysis of eye health inequity among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians.

The prevalence of diabetes among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians is three times greater than non-Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, contributing to a greater risk of blindness from treatable and preventable ocular conditions, most prominently cataract and diabetic retinopathy. In rural and remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, blindness prevalence is higher, and ocular treatment coverage and uptake are lower. In collaboration with Aboriginal Community Based Researchers, this study explored complex contingent factors that shape access to eye health services among rural and remote Aboriginal Australians living with diabetes.

The paper highlighted that:

  • Sociocultural contingencies shape eye health outcomes among Aboriginal Australians.
  • Linguistic, economic, and cultural marginalisation underpin eye health inequity.
  • Differences between Western biomedical and Aboriginal cultural norms form tensions.
  • Supporting linguistic and cultural sovereignty in clinical spaces is needed.
  • Cultural responsivity training and an expanded Aboriginal health workforce are key.

Read the full study in Science Direct here.

close up image of face of elderly Aboriginal stockman with felt hat, blind in one eye

Image source: The Fred Hollows Foundation website.

 

Bridging the Gap in homeownership

Owning your own home has long been part of the Aussie dream, however for some indigenous Australians this pursuit is difficult to achieve for a number of economic, social and cultural reasons.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics 2016 Census, 38 per cent of indigenous people owned their own home compared to two-thirds of non-indigenous Australians.

According to AIHW, “not having affordable, secure and appropriate housing can have negative consequences, including homelessness, poor health, and lower rates of employment and education participation – all of which can lead to social exclusion and disadvantage”.

Acknowledging this fact, Nicheliving has established a new division called Kambarang, created to bridge the gap for indigenous people and their communities, providing access to affordable housing opportunities to make their homeownership dreams a reality.

“The unit’s main goal is to support homeownership through providing open discussions, cultural support, credit assistance, communication and process support, affordable housing options, loan support and an end-to-end experience, including settlement,” said Nicheliving Managing Director Ronnie Michel-Elhaj.

You can read the story in The West Australian here.

Nicheliving - Willetton

Nicheliving – Willetton. Image credit: Julius Pang via The West Australian.

 

NSW Implementation Plan for Closing the Gap

The NSW 2021-2022 Implementation Plan for Closing the Gap is focusing on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander self-determination. The starting point in 2021-22 is to focus on the five Priority Reform areas as they know that transforming the way governments work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities is key to creating positive change. They have also identified a few focus areas under each Priority Reform.

They are working in partnership to bring together expertise from across Aboriginal communities, Aboriginal organisations and government agencies to develop further detailed and ambitious actions. To do this, they need your voice. Get involved and tell them what will make the biggest difference to you and your communities here.

You can view the 2021-22 NSW Implementation Plan for Closing the Gap here.
Visit the NSW Government Aboriginal Affairs website for more information here.

School students from St Francis Xavier School in Daly River, Southwest of Darwin in the Northern Territory. Image credit: The Herald Sun.

School students from St Francis Xavier School in Daly River, Southwest of Darwin in the Northern Territory. Image credit: The Herald Sun.

Winnunga Newsletter

The Winnunga Newsletter June – July 2021 edition is now available here.

Winnunga News June-July 2021 banner

Red socks for kidney support

Kidney Health Australia’s Red Socks Appeal is back and better than ever. Grab your friends, family, your work buddies, even your beloved pooch and either join Kidney Health Australia on one of their Red Socks Walks, set yourself a challenge or buy yourself a pair of red socks to show people living with kidney disease you care.

Wondering what Red Socks have to do with kidney disease? People on dialysis are strapped to a machine for 60 hours a month on average while it cleans their blood. While having dialysis treatment they often get cold, especially their feet. This is why Kidney Health Australia is asking you to go bold this October and wear Red Socks to show people living with kidney disease that you care.

Read more about the appeal and how you can show your support here.

Kidney Health Australia Red Sock Appeal

 

New process for job advertising

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

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


dice spelling JOBS resting on keyboard

Save the Date

Connecting to Country grants program now open

The Connecting to Country grants program is now open, providing support to culture and arts projects and initiatives that renew links between community, Country and culture.

Aboriginal people and organisations can apply for up to $25,000 for activities on-Country that encourage sharing of cultural knowledge and skills between generations, preservation of culture and strengthening of communities.

Applications close: 26 August 2021.
For more information visit the Government of Western Australia Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries website here.

Connecting to Country program image.

Connecting to Country program image.

 

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Census to inform quality health care

Feature tile - Thu.22.7.21 - Census to inform quality health care for mob

Census to inform quality health care

First Nations surgeon and Worimi man, Professor Kelvin Kong, said Census information helps health professionals and policy makers locate areas of need, and target efforts to improve community health across Australia.

“Census data helps me understand areas where Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people live, their ages and other basic demographic information.”

“We can combine this with other data to see which areas have better access to hospital treatment, for example, and also see the differences between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians in treatment rates.

“This helps us target our efforts to improve health services by facilitating better access to quality care where and when it is needed.”

“I encourage all our mob to make sure they are included in this year’s Census. It’s the best way to let policy makers know what services are needed, and where, to help us grow and be healthy.” Professor Kong said.

View the case study by the Australian Bureau of Statistics here.

The 2021 Census will be held on Tuesday 10 August.
People living in remote communities will complete the Census during July and August with help from Census staff. Information and resources to support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities is available here or by phone on 1800 512 441.

Census image tile featuring Professor Kelvin Kong.

 

$50,000 raised for Birthing on Country program

The program requires $800,000 to be raised in order to be facilitated, which will help Indigenous women experience their pregnancy in a culturally safe environment. Aboriginal midwife at Waminda, Melanie Briggs said:

“It’s about providing clinical maternity care and embedding culture as part of that.”

“It will also provide social and emotional support and ensure Indigenous women have access to services that they need to.

“The program also invests in Indigenous women for workforce including increasing the number of Aboriginal midwives in the country.”

To donate to the Birthing on Country fundraiser, visit the GoFundMe page here.
Read the full story in the South Coast Register here.

Birthing on Country. Image credit: www.southcoastregister.com.au.

Birthing on Country. Image credit: http://www.southcoastregister.com.au.

 

Grant to give babies best start in life

The Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) is supporting research to improve the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mothers and babies.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women currently have limited access to maternity and midwifery care that meets their cultural, spiritual, social, emotional and physical needs.

Research has highlighted the importance of culturally safe models of care for birthing mothers, which help give babies the best possible start in life.

The MRFF 2021 Improving the Health and Wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Mothers and Babies grant opportunity is supporting research that will improve access to culturally safe care during pregnancy, birthing and the post-natal period.

Up to $15 million is available over four years from 2021-22 to 2024-25. You can read more about the MRFF’s Emerging Priorities and Consumer-Driven Research initiative here.

Visit GrantConnect for more information about this grant opportunity.
Applications open on 12 August 2021, and close on 25 November 2021.

Research to improve health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mothers and babies.

Research to improve health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mothers and babies. Image credit: health.gov.au website.

 

Alcohol sold to children online

The Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education (FARE) and Berry Street are calling on governments to keep families and children safe from the harms from online sales and delivery of alcohol.

A new report by FARE has found children are being put at risk as alcohol retailers in Australia are not required to verify proof of age identification when selling alcoholic products online.

FARE CEO, Ms Caterina Giorgi said that there has been a rapid growth in online alcohol sales in Australia and it’s important we close the loopholes to help keep families and communities healthy and well.

Michael Perusco, CEO of Victoria’s largest child and family services provider, Berry Street, agrees more needs to be done to ensure young people aren’t so easily able to access alcohol.

“For too many, alcohol appears to be an easy escape. But it only adds to the complexities and challenges they face as they seek to recover from their trauma.

View the media release by FARE and Berry Street here.
Read the Online and delivered alcohol during COVID-19 report by FARE here.

Examples of age verification online.

Examples of age verification online.

 

Elders protected from social isolation

A new report by the University of Sydney’s Research Centre for Children and Families has brought to light stories of hardship and the incredible resilience afforded to Aboriginal people in caring roles by informal social networks during COVID-19 lockdowns.

“We realised from our research that this was going to be a particularly challenging time for families [caring for children in out-of-home care] because many of them were already dealing with sick children with significant additional needs, and many of them were our older carers,” said lead researcher Dr Susan Colling.

“What we heard was that children in Aboriginal families stepped up. It was very obvious how mutually beneficial the caring was because the children were in the houses with older family members.”

The report shows that for many older Aboriginal carers, having children in the household was deeply protective against the negative impacts of social isolation.

Another surprising finding was how quickly families found ways to keep Elders who weren’t normally carers from becoming socially isolated.

You can read more about this story in the National Indigenous Times here.
Read The University of Sydney Research Centre for Children & Families NSW Carer Support Needs: Coping in the context of COVID-19 report here.

'Three Rivers' - artwork by Aunty Lorraine Brown and Aunty Narelle Thomas, Coomaditchie United Aboriginal Corporation.

‘Three Rivers’ by Aunty Lorraine Brown and Aunty Narelle Thomas, Coomaditchie United Aboriginal Corporation featured as cover image on The University of Sydney Research Centre for Children & Families – NSW Carer Support Needs: Coping in the context of COVID-19 report.

 

Psychiatric morbidity higher in mob

Limited information exists about the prevalence of psychiatric illness for Indigenous Australians. A study examining the prevalence of diagnosed psychiatric disorders found that there is significant inequality in psychiatric morbidity between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians across most forms of psychiatric illness that is evident from an early age and becomes more pronounced with age. Substance use disorders are particularly prevalent, highlighting the importance of appropriate interventions to prevent and address these problems. Inequalities in mental health may be driven by socioeconomic disadvantage experienced by Indigenous individuals.

You can read the Prevalence of psychiatric disorders for Indigenous Australians: a population-based birth cohort study from the Epidemiology and Psychiatric Sciences journal here.

Photo depicting mental illness by Rene Muller, Unsplash.

Photo depicting mental illness by Rene Muller, Unsplash.

App to reduce ice use

The number of people using ice in Australia has increased in recent years in many communities.

We Can Do This is a confidential web-app designed to assist Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who use methamphetamine (ice) to reduce or stop using. They are seeking people to test the We Can Do This web-app.

It was developed with input from many people, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who have used ice.

We Can Do This is free, confidential and easy to use. But they need help to make sure it works.

To do this, they are making We Can Do This available to people to use either by themselves, or with extra support from participating health services.

Anyone who is 16 years old or older; is Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander and has used methamphetamine (ice) about weekly or more often for the past three months is invited to take part in the We Can Do This trial.

The project is sponsored by South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute with Principal Investigator Associate Professor James Ward.

Visit the We Can Do This website to find out more.

We Can Do This video.

Image from ‘We Can Do This’ project video.

 

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.


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NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Reform to butt out smoking rates

Feature tile - Tue.20.7.21 - Reform to butt out high Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander smoking rates

Reform to butt out smoking rates

A recent report from a health committee formed to advise the government on tobacco control shows Territorians are more likely to smoke than people anywhere else in Australia, and that half of Aboriginal adults in the NT are daily smokers. Research shows the smoking rate for people in remote and regional areas has not changed, although nationally fewer Aboriginal people are smoking.

“There needs to be more investment if we are serious and fair dinkum about reducing the number of Indigenous Australians who are smoking”
Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance NT Chief Executive John Paterson

The Australian Medical Association (AMA) NT Branch President Robert Parker urged the Chief Minister and his colleagues to introduce new laws which would help people in the NT quit smoking. While his letter did not flag any specific legislative reforms, Dr Parker told the ABC he wanted stronger surveillance on the sale and supply of tobacco, especially in remote areas.

You can read the full story by ABC News here.

Half of Aboriginal adults in the Northern Territory. are daily smokers. Photograph: Dave Hunt/AAP.

Half of Aboriginal adults in the NT are daily smokers. Photograph: Dave Hunt/AAP. Feature tile image credit: Raul Lieberwirth (Flickr).

 

Delivering 50,000 remote COVID jabs

The Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS) has vaccinated more than 5,000 people against COVID-19 in remote communities across Australia.

“We’re expecting on the back of the plans we’ve worked up to be delivering some 50,000 vaccines to some 500 vaccine clinics between now and the end of the year,” said RFDS Federation Executive Director Frank Quinlan.

The RFDS has been brought in to help federal, state, and territory health services and ACCHOs rollout the vaccine.

“The remoteness of some communities has been both their protection but also their risk because we know that those communities are often protected by distance but at the same time they experience poorer health by distance, and we know if COVID was to get into communities the impact would be devastating,” Mr Quinlan said.

In some areas, the RFDS are just delivering vaccine doses to medical centres. In others, they’re also deploying support staff to help local health workers. Elsewhere, they’re supplying the vaccines and all the health care staff required to administer the jabs.

Read the full story in The Sydney Morning Herald here.

A Royal Flying Doctor Service of Australia plane on the job in 2019. Image credit: Royal Flying Doctor Service of Australia.

A Royal Flying Doctor Service of Australia plane on the job in 2019. Image credit: Royal Flying Doctor Service of Australia.

 

More patients eligible for PBS

The Closing the Gap (CTG) Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) Co-payment program has expanded. From 1 July 2021, there is a new national registration database and more patients are eligible. To support providers register patients they have included three new exciting education resources on the Health Professional Education Resources Gateway:

eLearning module – the customised e-Learning module provides a clear overview of the CTG PBS Co-payment program, including patient access and prescriber eligibility. It also explains CTG PBS prescription requirements and the PBS Safety Net.

How to register a patient for CTG – the simulation demonstrates how to register a patient for CTG PBS Co-payment. It is easy to register patients using the new national registration database. You can access it through Health Professional Online Services (HPOS). To use HPOS, you need a Provider Digital Access (PRODA) account.

How to create a PRODA account – if you do not have a PRODA account, you can check out the new simulation on how to create a PRODA account.

You can read more about CTG PBS Co-payment program on the Australian Government Services Australia website.

Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme medicines

Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme medicines. Image credit:. healthstaffrecruitment.com.au.

 

National Anti-Racism Framework

The Australian Human Rights Commission has launched a plan to develop a National Anti-Racism Framework. The Commission is working with all levels of Government, peak bodies, human rights agencies and community organisations to progress the Framework. A Commission Concept Paper available on their website provides an initial overview of the Framework’s key principles, outcomes and strategies.

The Commission is in the early stages of scoping this proposal and is undertaking a series of targeted consultations and roundtables to identify stakeholders’ priorities and build a strong foundation for the Framework.

For more information and if your organisation is interested in participating in this process, please visit the Australian Human Rights Commission website.

Anti-racism image

Anti-racism. Image Credit: http://www.australiansagainstracism.org.

 

Meningococcal B Vaccination Program continues

The Marshall Liberal Government’s world-leading Meningococcal B Immunisation Program will continue indefinitely after proving it’s been incredibly effective at preventing the illness in high-risk age groups.

“This landmark vaccination program is saving lives and protecting lives.”

The landmark immunisation program was initially a three-year commitment, but the recent State Budget committed $3 million in 2021–22 and $5.3 million ongoing from 2022–23 to embed the program indefinitely for SA babies and young people. That’s on top of the $30.7 million allocated in the first three years of the program.

It comes as a joint Women’s and Children’s Hospital and University of Adelaide study found the program has been key in a 60% reduction in cases among infants and a 73% drop in cases for adolescents.

Minister for Health and Wellbeing Stephen Wade said given the program’s success, it will now be ongoing.

Read the media release by Steven Marshall Premier of SA here.

Meningococcal B Vaccination campaign image. Credit: healht.gov.au.

Meningococcal B Vaccination campaign image. Credit: healht.gov.au.

 

New dashboard on Closing the Gap

The Australian Government Productivity Commission have been populating a new dashboard on Closing the Gap. From this Dashboard, you can access available data on the targets agreed as part of the National Agreement on Closing the Gap.

Baseline data are available for the targets under the 17 socioeconomic outcome areas and more recent data are available for seven of these targets. Data are not yet available for the targets under the four Priority Reforms.

You can read more about how to access and interpret the data on the Australian Government Productivity Commission’s website.

view from waist up of two Aboriginal children one with arm around the shoulders of the other facing away from the canera

Image source: National Indigenous Times website.

 

Know Your Country campaign

We love our country but how well do we really know it? Closing the knowledge gap about First Nations people and cultures start at school.

The Know Your Country campaign asks principals, teachers, organisations and individuals to sign the petition to employ First Nations Cultural Educators in every primary school.

  • Give every kid a better education about local First Nations people and culture.
  • Ally with local First Nations communities and their right to share the wisdom of their own culture in school.
  • Back all parliaments to commit proper funding before their next elections.

Know Your Country is an open source, coalition advocacy campaign calling for locally approved First Nations Cultural Educators in every primary school across the continent.

The campaign policy was written and convened after 12 months of extensive consultation by Wiradjuri Man and World Vision Senior Policy Advisor Dr Scott Winch but it is being led by a First Nations Advisory Panel which includes Professor Tom Calma. The campaign is supported by a growing list of ally organisations.

Visit their website to sign the petition and download a range of great educational resources.

Know Your Country campaign logo.

 

New process for job advertising

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

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


dice spelling JOBS resting on keyboard

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Link between sexual health and chronic conditions

feature tile text 'poor awareness of links between sexual health and chronic conditions in ATSI males' Aboriginal dot painting from cover of summary report blue, brown, aqua, navy, white, black, taupe

Male sexual health chronic disease link

The latest publication from the Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet, a Review of sexual health issues linked with cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes mellitus in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander males, which can be accessed here confirms that although the links between male sexual health and chronic conditions are well established, there is poor knowledge and awareness about these links among both health professionals and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander males.

This review outlines the mounting evidence that erectile dysfunction (ED) can be a sign of future cardiovascular disease or type 2 diabetes. This has the potential to motivate males of all ages to seek help if they experience ED, and for health professionals to become skilled in discussing sexual health with patients. This  requires further consideration of cultural factors for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander males and the social and historical context in which their health and wellbeing exists.

You can access the Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet media release about the review here, an infographic Summary of the key information contained in the review here, a factsheet here and a short video below.

Feature tile artwork When the freshwater meets the saltwater by Bec Morgan taken from the Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet Summary of sexual health links with chronic disease in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander males.

 

The HIV/AIDS story – Forty years on

Forty years ago this month (on July 3, 1981) a story in The New York Times made the paper’s first mention of a disease baffling doctors.

Rare cancer seen in 41 homosexuals,” said the headline, atop a story buried on page 20. “The cause of the outbreak is unknown, and there is as yet no evidence of contagion.”

The story followed the publication on June 5, 1981 by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) of an MMRW report of Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia in five previously healthy young men in Los Angeles, California, of whom two had already died. This report later was acknowledged as the first published scientific account of what would become known as human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS).

In Australia, research from the Kirby Institute shows that the broad availability of the HIV-prevention drug tenofovir with emtricitabine (known as PrEP) reduced HIV transmissions in New South Wales by 40 percent, to an all-time low, in the period 2016 to 2019. However, the researchers warned that the elimination of HIV in Australia will require better adherence to PrEP among young people.

The Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations has produced a report that says Australia can end HIV transmission in the country by 2025. You can read the “Agenda 2025” report here.

The full story by Associate Professor Lesley Russell can be viewed in Croakey Health Media here.

Scanning electromicrograph of an HIV-infected T cell. Credit: NIAID

Scanning electromicrograph of an HIV-infected T cell. Credit: NIAID

 

Bardi Jawi woman’s diabetes story

This short video aims to raise awareness of diabetes among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

The video features Cecelia Tigan, a Bardi Jawi woman from Djarindjin in the Kimberley region of WA. Cecelia explains how she was first diagnosed with gestational diabetes during pregnancy and how she now lives with type 2 diabetes. Cecelia says her diabetes remained after giving birth to her fourth child. Cecelia explains that she is worried about the young children in her community with the availability of junk foods and how the consumption of sweets and junk food is putting them at risk of diabetes.

 

Ways to strengthen mental health workforce

New research by Charles Darwin University (CDU) scholars suggests a strengthened Indigenous mental health workforce could effectively improve mental health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait
Islander people.

The report, written by Prof Dominic Upton, Assoc Prof Linda Ford, Prof Ruth Wallace, Sarah Jackson, Jenna Richard from CDU and Dr Penney Upton from the University of Canberra, finds that an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander led mental health workforce would promote self-determination and increase the reach of mental health services by providing culturally competent services.

Mental health services delivered by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander professionals are considered more culturally safe and trustworthy.

Read the article by Charles Darwin University here.

Illustration of chat between psychologist and patient. Image credit: flourishaustralia.org.au

Illustration of chat between psychologist and patient. Image credit: flourishaustralia.org.au

 

Spurring next generation of Indigenous dentists

A new partnership between the Australian Dental Association New South Wales (ADA NSW) and the Indigenous Dentists’ Association of Australia (IDAA) will explore how to improve oral health outcomes for—and inspire—the next generation of Indigenous dental practitioners.

Only 0.4 per cent of employed dental professionals in Australia are Indigenous, according to the latest Australian Institute of Health and Welfare Oral Health and Dental Care in Australia report,” ADA NSW president Dr Kathleen Matthews said.

“More than 60 per cent of Indigenous patients aged 35-54 have signs of gum disease and almost one-third of Indigenous adults rate their oral health as poor or fair.

“We believe this partnership with ADA NSW is, given our shared values and purpose, another important step towards improving overall health and wellbeing outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.”

Read the full story in Bite Magazine here.

A Boggabillia Central School student shows how to brush your teeth. Credit ABC News.

A Boggabillia Central School student shows how to brush your teeth. Credit ABC News.

 

Climate change and food shortages

Surging consumer food prices are a growing global problem, making food staples in many countries unaffordable. An Oxfam report just out says that world hunger rose steeply in 2020, with six times more people living in “famine-like conditions” than in 2019. Oxfam calculates that 11 ­people a minute are likely to be dying from acute hunger, compared to seven people a minute from COVID-19.

A new FAO report on global food security has just been released, estimating that between 720 and 811 million people in the world faced hunger in 2020 – as many as 161 million more than in 2019. “The high cost of healthy diets and persistently high levels of poverty and income inequality continue to keep healthy diets out of reach for around three billion people in every region of the world,” it says.

A 2019 UN report outlined how extreme weather as a result of climate change, combined with loss of agricultural land and the mismanagement of water resources, will shrink the global food supply. The potential risk of “multi-breadbasket failure” was seen as a particular threat.

There’s a raft of reports that highlight what climate change means for food production, availability and prices in Australia. In addition, as noted in a 2015 report from the Climate Council, Australia’s food supply chains are vulnerable to extreme weather events.

This week, public health researchers have underscored the urgency of addressing food security issues for children, warning food insecurity should be understood as a form of trauma.

One issue highlighted is that food security is not measured regularly or consistently at a population level. Estimates suggest that between 4 percent and 13 percent of the general population and 22 percent to 32 percent of the Indigenous population are food insecure.

The full story by Associate Professor Lesley Russell can be viewed in Croakey Health Media here.

Red, black and yellow food arranged like the Aboriginal flag. Image credit: preventioncentre.org.au.

Red, black and yellow food arranged like the Aboriginal flag. Image credit: preventioncentre.org.au.

 

New process for job advertising

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

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


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NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: We need to work together across the community on vaccine rollout: ACOSS

We need to work together across the community on vaccine rollout: ACOSS

ACOSS welcomes the support of business groups on the vaccine roll out and is looking forward to engaging with the vaccine taskforce on the community sector’s crucial role, along with other key stakeholders, such as the union movement.

Australian Council of Social Service CEO Dr Cassandra Goldie said: “Government needs to go beyond working with the business community on the vaccine roll out and there is support from the community sector, unions and business leaders to all work together. Community services are on the ground helping people to understand how they can access vaccines. We need to see community sector leaders also empowered and resourced to communicate clear messages to the people their services support, especially people facing poverty and disadvantage.

“Communities across the country need to be hearing about the vaccination roll-out from local leaders who they trust, for example, from First Nations leaders and culturally diverse leaders,” Dr Goldie said.

CEO of the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation, Pat Turner, said: “When First Nations leaders get vaccinated it really helps to encourage the rest of the community and I’ve seen great examples of that. First Nations leaders are absolutely vital to the success of our vaccine roll out, with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people more susceptible to the virus. First Nations health leaders have done an exceptional job keeping our people safe from the virus, particularly in remote areas, and their experience and relationships are also crucial on the vaccine front.”

To read the full media release by ACOSS click here.

AIHA partners with Northern Rivers ACCHOs

A new Indigenous Allied Health Australia Ltd (IAHA) National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Academy in Lismore is aiming to support education and increase career opportunities in the health and social assistance sectors, thanks to a new partnership between IAHA, the Northern NSW Local Health District (NNSWLHD) and local Aboriginal Medical Services.

IAHA National Academy will give Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students in Year 11 and 12 in the Northern Rivers region the opportunity to complete a school based traineeship undertaking a nationally recognised Certificate III in Allied Health Assistance (HLT33015) qualification through TAFE NSW.

The partnership will build on existing relationships and also strengthen local health workforce development strategies, including paid employment for school-based trainees, mentoring, leadership development and career planning. Pathway options for students range from gaining employment in the health field, to continuing study with partner organisations, including Bulgarr Ngaru Medical Aboriginal Corporation, Rekindling the Spirit Aboriginal Medical Service, Bullinah Aboriginal Medical Service, Northern NSW Local Health District, TAFE NSW and Southern Cross University.

Donna Murray, IAHA Chief Executive Officer, said: “The IAHA national academy program has been developed with community and is Aboriginal-led, providing a culturally safe and responsive holistic approach to education, training and employment at the local level. To date, many of the graduates are first in family to complete year 12, and graduates have transitioned successfully into further education, and employment across the health and related sectors.”

Kirsty Glanville, NNSWLHD Associate Director Aboriginal Health said the Academy in Northern Rivers is unique to others around the country, being the first to have direct engagement with the Aboriginal Community Controlled sector. “This partnership highlights the very important role Aboriginal Medical Services provide in our communities in improving the health outcomes for Aboriginal communities and empowering people to take an active role in their health journey,” Ms Glanville said.

To view the full AIHA article click here.Indigenous Allied Health Australian IAHA logo

A related news article describes the near doubly of the proportion of Western Sydney Local Health District (WSLHD) staff who identify as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander in the past two years as the district takes steps to remove historical barriers and create new opportunities. WSLHD is currently working on a partnership with IAHA in providing Year 11 and Year 12 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students the opportunity to complete a nationally recognised Certificate III in Allied Health Assistance qualification through TAFE NSW.

To view the full article in The Pulse click here.

Cleaners Codie Fuller, porter Darrin Smith and cleaner Jade Hookey - general services team at Westmead Hospital i

Cleaners Codie Fuller, porter Darrin Smith and cleaner Jade Hookey were among 15 new Aboriginal staff to join the general services team at Westmead Hospital in March this year. Image source: The PULSE.

Mainstream health model ignores connection to Country

Associate Professor Luke Burchill from the University of Melbourne has written an article called Healing Country in which he says the theme for NAIDOC 2021: Health Country! comes at an important time when Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are calling for greater protection of their lands, waters and sacred sites, “In the past year alone, we have observed repeated failures to protect sites that are sacred to our communities; the destruction of 46,000-year-old caves at Juukan Gorge in WA, the removal of the Kuyan ancient eel rock formation at Lake Bolac and the felling of sacred Djab Wurrung trees in Western Victoria.”

“This devastation is not only physical. For Aboriginal people, the impact is emotional, cultural and spiritual – directly affecting mental health, family and community wellbeing. Country is the place from which we come and to which we will return. Country sustains us culturally, physically, linguistically, spiritually and emotionally. As custodians of the land, it is our duty to protect Country. With climate change our Country is hurting and so are we.”

Having worked in Australia’s mainstream health care system, Professor Burchill said he can say that connection to Country is not included when assessing someone’s health and wellbeing. The mainstream model is one of risk factors, lifestyle choices and genetic factors that underpin a condition or health outcome. The problem here is that when drawn entirely from a Western perspective this point of view fails to capture Indigenous dimensions of wellbeing including the importance of connectedness to family, community and Country for social, emotional and spiritual wellbeing. For these connections to be strong, we need to live our lives free of racism.

To read Professor Burchill’s article in full click here.

The Juukan Gorge rock shelters in WA. Picture: AAP/Supplied by PKKP and PKKP Aboriginal Corporation.

Yarning Up After Stroke wins funding

A program designed to empower Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living with stroke to take control of their stroke recovery has won Federal Government funding of almost $500,000. This program arises from the Yarning Up After Stroke collaborative project co-led by Tamworth Aboriginal communities, Professor Chris Levi and Dr Heidi Janssen of Hunter New England Local Health District (NSW) and University of Newcastle. Dr Janssen was initially given a funding kick start by the Stroke Foundation, and this proof-of-concept work has now secured a significant grant through the Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF).

The funding commitment to Yarning Up After Stroke is timely as NAIDOC Week gets underway. This year’s NAIDOC Week theme is Heal Country! and aims to raise awareness and promote greater understanding of the need to protect the traditional lands, waters, sacred sites and cultural heritage of First Nations communities.

The Yarning up After Stroke team’s approach uses ‘yarning’, which is a culturally respectful, conversational way to learn, listen, share and receive information. In Aboriginal culture Yarning Circles are safe spaces in which everyone can have a say. Stroke Foundation Chief Executive Sharon McGowan said she is immensely pleased to see Yarning Up After Stroke secure the additional funding grant, “Introducing stroke recovery support services which use tools already embraced by Indigenous cultures, offers a more relatable way forward and are therefore likely to be more successful.”

To view the Stroke Foundation’s media release click here.

stroke survivor Bill Toomey in wheelchair with Carol Toomey crouching down behind him with her left arm across his chest

Coral and Bill Toomey, a stroke survivor. Photo: Gareth Gardner. Image source: The Northern Daily Leader.

AMA welcomes COVID-19 national roadmap

The Australian Medical Association (AMA) welcomes the leadership shown by National Cabinet in the release of the national roadmap allowing Australia to open up in a safe and sustainable way. AMA President, Dr Omar Khorshid said it was important that any plan be based on science, and this plan is to be based on modelling of a Delta outbreak on a vaccinated community.

“The AMA has repeatedly called for consistency in responses across the nation – including in our May Communique Prepare Australia before opening up to the world and National Cabinet’s plan will move us towards that goal,” he said. “We need a clear vision, as a community, on how to live in a world where COVID will continue to exist. This plan, with four stages, recognises the important fact that our road out of this crisis is vaccination. Of that there is no doubt.”

To view the AMA’s media release click here.

PM Scott Morrison at lecturn with Roadmap to COVIDSafe Australia on screen in background

Image source: Daily Mail Australia website.

MedicineWise app

NAIDOC Week celebrates the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. NAIDOC is celebrated not only in Indigenous communities, but by Australians from all walks of life. This year’s NAIDOC Week theme is Heal Country! – calling for stronger measures to recognise, protect, and maintain all aspects of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture and heritage.

This week is a great opportunity to participate in a range of activities and to support your local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community.

Did you know? You can receive information specific to the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community members by following these steps in your MedicineWise app:

  1. Tap on your profile.
  2. Go to ‘Personal Details’ module.
  3. Scroll down to switch on the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander toggle(s) most appropriate to you

For further information visit the NPS MedicineWise website here.

Australia’s Chernobyl – Maralinga

For tens of thousands of years, the Aṉangu people lived on the warm, red earth of their country. The land provided them with food, water and shelter as they travelled around an area we now know as outback Far North SA.

But after colonisation, they were moved off their land: forcibly removed, sent into missions across the region and displaced by train lines linking Australia’s east and west that impacted their water supply. In 1984, the SA government handed much of the land back to its traditional owners. But by this point, parts of it were uninhabitable because of British nuclear testing.

The theme of NAIDOC Week 2021 is Heal Country! but much of the Aṉangu lands in and around Maralinga are beyond healing. Glen Wingfield, whose mother Eileen Wani Wingfield co-founded the Coober Pedy Women’s Council to campaign against a government proposal in the 1990s for a nuclear waste dump on their lands, said “A lot of the Aboriginal communities that live in and around that area, they just will not and do not go back near that country. I think that’s a word, healing, that we can’t use in the same sentence with that area.” There are parts of the area that will be uninhabitable for a quarter of a million years.

To view the full article click here.

photo of sign in desert landscape with text 'Former Maralinga Nuclear Test Stie. This land is part of the Maralinga Tjarutja Lands' etc.

Image source: Mamamia website.

BRAMS June newsletter

Broom Regional Aboriginal Medical Service have released the June 2021 edition of their newsletter. This edition includes articles on World No Tobacco Month, the Yawardani Jan-Ga program and the Social and Emotional Wellbeing Men’s and Women’s Groups.

To access the BRAMS Newsletter click here.banner BRAMS NEWSLETTER June 2021

Road accident survivor CTP experience study

A new partnership between Griffith University and the Motor Accident Insurance Commission (MAIC) will examine the experiences of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders injured in road accidents and their interactions with the Compulsory Third Party (CTP) scheme.

The Hopkins Centre’s Dr Leda Barnett, assisted by Griffith University PhD candidate Andrew Gall, will lead the three year study, funded by a $460,000 MAIC grant and supported by partnerships with Griffith’s Indigenous Research Unit (IRU), Synapse and the Institute for Urban Indigenous Health (IUIH).

“Indigenous Australians living in Queensland are up to six times more likely to be involved in a motor vehicle accident than a non-Indigenous citizen, but also 1.4 times more likely to be seriously injured, and 2.9 times more likely to die in an accident,” Dr Barnett said. The research will examine the factors that influence Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to engage with the CTP scheme following a motor vehicle accident, the nature of their experience and ways in which the scheme could better align with their requirements.”

To view the full Griffith News article click here.

4 Aboriginal young adults around outside table, blurred greenery in the background

Griffith researchers will consult with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Queensland to better understand their experiences with the Compulsory Third Party scheme. Image source: Griffith News.

 

New process for job advertising

NACCHO have introduced a new system for the advertising of job adverts via NACCHO’s communication platforms.

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 to the NACCHO website and once approved it will go live.dice spelling JOBS resting on keyboard

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: National housing response needed

feature tile text 'national response needed in supporting Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander housing & communities' & image of makeshift tent with blue tarp in Minyerri NT in dry scrub

National housing response needed

June Oscar AO, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner has written and opinion piece for The Australian for NAIDOC Week. Commissioner Oscar spoke about this year’s theme, ‘Heal Country!’, and the need for a national response to supporting First Nations Communities to live on country. Below is an excerpt from the opinion piece:

“For decades governments have chronically underinvested in remote housing, roads, sewerage, education, health and much more. At the beginning of the pandemic, in the rush to get our peoples home, already dangerously overcrowded communities struggled to accommodate the influx. Tents sprang up. Our peoples returning to community were largely experiencing homelessness and poverty – their lives on the margins a direct result of the fact there has never been enough housing, not in cities, towns, communities or anywhere.

The reason we continue to live in vulnerable and unacceptable conditions is because there is no national plan to enable our people to live on or easily access our lands. In 2014, with commonwealth funding cuts, the WA government announced it would close more than half the remote communities in the state. The state government said it couldn’t shoulder the costs and has maintained this position. This is not unique to WA. In 2018 the commonwealth’s remote housing agreement with the states came to an end, with only an exit payment, and nothing else arranged for WA, SA and Queensland. It shows the disregard of governments at all levels to invest effectively in places where we live.

The real cost of the commonwealth walking away from these agreements, and all governments failing to respond to our needs, is entrenched human suffering, abuse and a deep scarring of this land. Enough is enough. The urgency of these issues demands immediate action by the commonwealth in partnership with all Australian governments and most importantly with First Nations peoples.”

To read the opinion piece in full click here.

makeshift housing on edge of Tennant Creek, NT

Tennant Creek traditional owner Diane Stokes lives on her block as an alternative to staying in an overcrowded family house. Photo: Jane Bardon. Image source: ABC News. Feature tile: Aboriginal community of Minyerri, NT. Image source: Welcome to Country website.

Trial could change type 2 diabetes treatment

NT GP Sam Heard sees the harm type 2 diabetes causes in Indigenous communities; in some places, up to 40% of the population is affected by the illness. “Dire might be a good word. The outcome for people getting diabetes when you are 40 is not good, and when you are very young it is terrible,” Dr Heard said. “If you tell an Aboriginal person that they have got diabetes, they are pretty devastated, and there is stigma involved. It is a really major disease that has implications for everybody — their family and their children.”

But Dr Heard is seeing some promising results in his patients who are trialling a low-calorie weight management program. “All of those have managed to stay on [the program] are very, very positive about it,” said Dr Heard,  who is the medical director at the Central Australian Aboriginal Congress (CAAC). “One 40-year-old fella describing it to a large group of Aboriginal people at a meeting got a standing ovation, and they could see the difference in his whole demeanour and how much weight he had lost.”

To view the article in full click here.

Aboriginal person's hands doing blood sugar test

Image source: The Medical Journal of Australia website.

COVID-19 assets for mob

The Australian Government Department of Health have developed a pack of COVID-19 resources tailored to an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander audience. The pack includes suggested social tiles and captions, two posters and a community announcement radio script, reminding everyone on the importance of keeping two big steps away from others, washing hands regularly, getting tested if you’re unwell, and following state and territory guidelines and restrictions.

You are welcome to use these assets as you see fit and adapt to your local requirements.

To view the range of resources click here.

tile with Jade North image & quote "If you're feeling sick, please stay away from others." Australian Governet #keepourmobsafe Australia.gov.au Coronavirus (COVID-19), image of Jade North playing soccer, border Aboriginal dot painting

One of the #keepourmobsafe COVID-19 resources.

Community sector climate justice webinar

On 12 July 2021 ACOSS is launching its Climate Campaign to build the capacity of the community sector to act on climate justice. ACOSS is calling on the Federal Government to commit to an ambitious net zero emissions reduction target, which is the first step to tackling the injustice being done to vulnerable people as a result of climate inaction.

You can join community sector leaders including NACCHO CEO Pat Turner, NACCHO CEO, and climate experts at the Climate Campaign Webinar to discuss what your organisation can do to address climate change. You will hear from experts on the science and human impacts of climate change and learn from community climate leaders whose organisations have taken action on the issue.

ACOSS CEO Cassandra Goldie will share how community organisations can take part in the community sector push for climate justice in the leadup to the November UN Climate Summit.

The webinar will take place on Zoom from 1–3pm on Monday 12 July 2021.

Registrations close 5pm Friday 9 July 2021 – to register click here.

banner text 'ACOSS Climate Campaign Webinar - empowering the community sector to take action on clime justice' image of man in checked shirt with face mask, background thick bushfire smoke

Lowering heart disease risk resources

Are you at risk of heart disease? Preventing heart disease starts with knowing your risk factors and making changes to live a healthier life. The Heart Foundation has a range of support and resources to help Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples stay healthy and reduce the risk of heart disease. You can access the Heart Foundation’s information and resources here.

Aboriginal woman in outdoor setting using weight resistant exercise equipment

Image source: The Heart Foundation.

Infectious disease ‘surveillance network’

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people will benefit from the expansion of a University of Queensland-led health project aimed at improving clinical care within primary health care services nationally. The Improving surveillance infrastructure for Indigenous primary health care project will expand an existing online surveillance network (named ATLAS) focussed on sexually transmissible infections (STIs) and blood-borne viruses (BBVs), thanks to federal funding.

STIs and BBVs are endemic in many remote and regional communities in Australia, with STIs identified as the leading incident morbidity for Aboriginal people aged 15–24 years. UQ Poche Centre for Indigenous Health director Professor James Ward said he welcomed the funding to deliver the largest connected Indigenous primary care surveillance network in Australia.

“As a Pitjantjatjara and Nukunu man and an infectious diseases epidemiologist, this is an exciting opportunity to significantly develop our work in this sector,” Professor Ward said. “Our aim is to grow the size of the ATLAS network by including more primary health care services within the network especially Aboriginal Community-Controlled Health Organisations (ACCHOs). In addition, the new funding will enable the ATLAS surveillance system to extend to include other infectious diseases such as vaccine preventable diseases within the scope of the ATLAS network.”

To view the full article click here.

light blue background with 3 clay brightly coloured sculptures of STI cells

Image source: 1800 my options website.

First Nations to inform national plan

The federal government has established a 13-member Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Advisory Council to inform the development of the next National Plan to end family, domestic and sexual violence in Australia and support the implementation of the Closing the Gap Target 13.

Indigenous rights campaigner Professor Sandra Creamer will be the interim chair of the multidisciplinary Advisory Council and be joined by advisors from across the health, community services, legal services, children and family services, and university sectors. Minister for Women’s Safety Anne Ruston said the Advisory Council would help ensure the issues and challenges facing First Nations peoples were elevated and given specific focus in the next National Plan.

To view the media release click here.

young boy holding ripped piece of paper with the work HELP in front of face

Image source: Monash University LENS website.

New process for job advertising

NACCHO have introduced a new system for the advertising of job adverts via NACCHO’s communication platforms.

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 to the NACCHO website and once approved it will go live.

dice spelling JOBS resting on keyboard

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Reclaiming the right to give birth on Country

feature tile text 'Yolgnu women are reclaiming their right to give birth on the lands of their ancestors' & image of a newborn Aboriginal baby in a coolamon with mother's hands resting on the baby's chest

Reclaiming the right to give birth on Country

One in five babies born in East Arnhem Land are born premature. The ABC Radio National episode of Science Friction Medicine, listen up! Birthing on country makes the land shake looks at how a Yolngu community has a plan to change that statistic.

For many millennia, Aboriginal women in remote East Arnhem land gave birth on their traditional lands. But for the Elcho island community of Galiwin’ku, that all changed when women were made to travel to the big smoke to give birth, far away from home. Medical professionals said it would be safer for mothers and babies, but now Yolgnu women want to reclaim their birthing rights.

To listen to this episode of ABC Radio National’s Science Friction click here.

Female Elder with white wavy hair & white ceremonial paint on face

Elaine Guyman, Galiwin’ku community, Elcho Island, East Arnhem Land. Photo: Emma Vincent. Image source: ABC News. Feature tile photo taken by Bobbi Lockyer. Image source: ABC News.

You can also listen to another interview about the benefits of Birthing on Country here. In this ABC Radio Conversations with Richard Fidler episode midwife Christian Wright, talks about his work with the Indigenous women of Arnhem Land. screenshot of Conversations with Richard Fidler, ABC Radio, episode The male midwife, Christian Wright standing in bush with Akubra & open short sleeved shirt

Study tracks lives of preterm babies

Long before Cian McCue had any say in it, his mother Camille Damaso enrolled the healthy newborn in Australia’s own 7-Up program. Aidan Hill, 34, was also enrolled. He was born four weeks early. Lennair Hill, 34 and now Aidan’s wife, is also in the program. She was born eight weeks premature, at a very low birth weight, with a heart condition. Ms Hill’s mother Donna Sinclair said the birth was “as traumatic as you can get. I thought I was giving birth to a dead baby”.

The Life Course study was started in 1987 by the late paediatrician Dr Susan Sayers from the Menzies School of Health Research in DarwinShe described it as “Australia’s own 7-Up“. It started with an Aboriginal birth cohort of 686 babies including Aidan and Cian, and later added 196 non-Indigenous participants, including Lennair. Dr Sayers wrote that it would follow “the progress of tiny babies into adults, into sickness and health, for the rest of their lives.” The study is loosely modelled on the 7-up documentary series in England that followed the lives of 14 children from 1964, checking in with them every seven years.

Mr McCue, 33, a father and a video maker, said the project was about more than health checks. “It is about trying to close the gap, and raise that life expectancy of Aboriginal people,” he said. The study is looking for clues to who will get chronic diseases such as diabetes and heart disease, the No.1 killer of Indigenous people.

To view The Sydney Morning Herald article in full click here.

Cian McCue & his mother Camille Damasco standing under a tree with beach in the background

Cian McCue and mum Camille Damaso. Photo: Rhett Wyman. Image source: The Sydney Morning Herald.

Australia’s poor human rights results

The Human Rights Measurement Initiative (HRMI) tracker has again revealed Australia’s poor results when it comes to Indigenous human rights and treatment. Surveying experts and collating data analysis on civil, political, economic and social rights, the HRMI measures a nation’s performance on all human rights covered by international law. It found the majority of experts agreed Indigenous Australians had most of their human rights at risk.

Across the four key rights to education, food, health, and work, Australia averaged a ‘bad’ score of 78.85%. 57% of experts surveyed identified a risk to education, 71% identified a risk to health, and 61% noted the right to housing was also at risk. It was also identified that 71% of experts believe Indigenous people are at risk of having their freedom from arbitrary arrest violated. This lack of safety was particularly present in the freedom from torture for Indigenous people, which three-quarters of experts found to be in danger of not being recognised.

Whilst the poor results were not limited to Indigenous Australians, they were at a significantly higher risk of not having their human rights upheld. “It’s certainly true that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, people with disabilities, people with low socioeconomic status, and refugees and asylum seekers are identified as being at risk of violations of nearly every right that we measure,” HRMI strategy lead Thalia Kehoe Rowden told SBS News.

You can view this National Indigenous Times article in full here and a related article in Croakey Health Media here.

older Aboriginal woman sitting cross-legged with face in hands, makeshift bedding, surrounded by rubbish, black dog looking at camera

One Mile Dam, an Aboriginal community camp close to Darwin, where Indigenous people live in extreme poverty. Photograph: Jonny Weeks. Image source: The Guardian.

Charity status changes – a public health hazard

Leading public and Indigenous health groups have joined environmental, social sector and legal organisations in warning the Federal Government against proceeding with changes to the regulation of charities. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander justice advocates warn the move could silence their advocacy for people in custody, as well as undermining the work of organisations such as the First Peoples Disability Network Australia.

In an open letter to PM Scott Morrison, more than 70 organisations warn that the regulations would impede the work of charities in responding to communities’ needs in times of crisis and disaster. Signatories include the Public Health Association of Australia (PHAA), the Fred Hollows Foundation, Doctors for the Environment Australia, People with Disability Australia, the Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education, the Alliance for Gambling Reform and the Climate Council.

To view the full article in Croakey Health Media click here.

top of the white caps with FPDN logo on two children bending down, image of blurred green grass in the background

Image source: First Peoples Disability Network website.

Indigenous health checks and follow-ups

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. In 2019–20, 239,000 Indigenous Australians had one of these health checks (28%). 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 2018–19.

A recent AIHW report presents data on Indigenous health checks for a time period up until the end of June 2020 (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 report click here.

Comedian Sean Choolburra receiving one part of his 715 health check

Comedian Sean Choolburra receiving one part of his 715 health check. Image source: NIAA website.

Access to Aged Care medicines programs expanded

Access to Aged Care medicines programs have been expanded for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in remote areas. From 1 July 2021, Aged Care Facilities funded under the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Flexible Aged Care program (NATSIFAC) are able to receive Quality Use of Medicines (QUM) support from a pharmacist. Access to the Residential Medication Management Review (RMMR) program was extended to these Aged Care Facilities on 1 April 2021.

You can get more information about these program here or contact the pharmacy coordinating supply of medicines to your ACF.

blue multiple pill holder each compartment with 6 different coloured tablets

Image source: iStock.

New process for job advertising

NACCHO have introduced a new system for the advertising of job adverts via NACCHO’s communication platforms.

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 to the NACCHO website and once approved it will go live.dice spelling JOBS resting on keyboard

NAIDOC Week 2021 – 4–11 July

NAIDOC Week 2021 will be held from Sunday 4 July to Sunday 11 July.

This year’s theme – Heal Country! – calls for stronger measures to recognise, protect, and maintain all aspects of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture and heritage. Events will be held around Australia during the week to celebrate the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

You can download this year’s poster here and resources here and find out more about NAIDOC Week here.   banner - Aboriginal dot painting art circles, gum leaves blue green brown orange pink white & text 'Health Country! 4–11 JULY 2021 & Celebrating NAIDOC Week logo

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Protect our people who give us knowledge to Heal Country, heal our nation!

feature tile 2.7.21 text 'protect our people who give us the knowledge to Heal Country, heal our nation.' image of NACCHO Chair Donnella Mills in light pink top & gold chair with hand against shoulder where she has had the covid-19 vaccine

Protect our people who give us knowledge to Heal Country, heal our nation!

NACCHO Chair Donnella Mills says NAIDOC Week 2021 calls upon all of us to continue to seek greater protection for our lands, our Elders, our people, and safeguard our culture.

“The health of Country, and the health of First Nation’s people, is firmly bound together. Country is family, kin, law, lore, ceremony, traditions, and language. After 250 years of dispossession and dislocation, traditional connection to Country and knowledge of Country is precarious. So much rests in the hands and minds of our Elders, our living national treasures. Right now, we have to protect the people who give us the knowledge to heal Country.”

“We have shown the world what can be done to keep First Nations peoples safe during a global pandemic. In the USA, the Navajo had the highest death rate of any ethnic population. In Australia, not one Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander person has died from COVID-19. That is because the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health sector and Governments are working together to protect our most vulnerable families and communities. Our sector should be proud. Indeed, the pandemic is not yet defeated, but at least recent gains have positioned us well and we can afford a little time to reflect on what we have achieved.”

“We have a new challenge and that is to urgently vaccinate our people!”

To view the media statement from NACCHO Chair Donnella Mills click here.

You can also watch Donnella talk about the COVID-19 vaccination in the short video below.

Remote NT community almost fully vaccinated

Tarna Andrews was scared of getting the needle. So scared that last month she visited her local clinic, sat down in the waiting room, and left before she could be seen. “I walked out because I had been speaking to some of my family, they were scared,” she said.  “Now I’ve had the needle, I’m safe and happy now.”

Ms Andrews, a Pitjantjatjara teacher in Utju, 200 kms from Alice Springs, is one of many in her community who have had their first dose of the jab despite months of vaccine scepticism. Central Australian Aboriginal Congress (CAAC), who runs the clinic there, said that almost everyone who was eligible in the remote community had been vaccinated, bucking a trend of vaccine scepticism among remote residents in the NT.

Fellow resident and a community worker for Congress, Frank Dixon, said word of mouth had helped reverse the tides of concern he was fielding in his community. “People started talking, gathering families and friends together to talk about it — people felt safe,” he said.

The vaccination rate in Utju is the envy of Congress’s four other remote clinics, especially as Alice Springs heads into lockdown. CAAC CEO Ms Ah Chee said the organisation hoped more people, especially in remote communities where there is a high burden of disease, would want to get the jab as a result of the recent cluster, “This is a timely reminder, we’ve been lucky for the last 18 months and it’s here. It’s not going away,”

To view the full article click here.

Aboriginal woman Tarna Andrews from Utju, sitting outside, red dust, couple of camp dogs, yellow black beanie, black t-shirt, pink t-shirt, red grey hoodie, orange glasses on top of head

Tarna Andres is encouraging family members in other remote communities to get vaccinated. Photo: Samantha Jonscher, ABC Alice Springs. Image source: ABC News website.

COVID-19 and remote communities

NACCHO CEO Pat Turner was on the panel of the ABC television program The Drum last night. Pat Turner spoke on a range of issues saying “Aboriginal communities will continue to suffer and be among the most vulnerable with every new pandemic unless we fix up the living environments and the housing of Aboriginal people. We will not close the gap without addressing these issues.” You can watch this edition of The Drum here.

screenshot of frame from ABC The Drum Pat Turner CEO NACCHO talking

Pat Turner, CEO NACCHO, The Drum 1 July 2021.

Rough sleepers ‘completely neglected’

Aboriginal organisations have expressed frustration at the NT government’s “flawed” pandemic response, demanding it do more to accommodate hundreds of Aboriginal people sleeping rough around town centres they say are at risk of COVID-19. Both Darwin and Alice Springs were in lockdown amid concerns about the significant risk posed to Aboriginal communities.

The CEO of the Danila Dilba Aboriginal Health Service, Olga Havnen said the lack of support for homeless people created a “ridiculous situation”. “The pandemic response plan doesn’t include any provision for housing people who may be homeless or visitors to town,” Havnen said. “Here we are on day four of a lockdown, and they’re only just sorting out the arrangements that might be made available for Aboriginal people, particularly visitors and rough sleepers who might need a COVID-19 test, and who will need to self-isolate.” “Who else in the community gets so studiously ignored under these sorts of circumstances? It’s either gross incompetence, maladministration or straight out racism. Or probably, a combination of all three,” Havnen said.

Danila Dilba, Yilli Aboriginal housing, AMSANT (the Aboriginal medical services of the NT) and NAAJA (the Aboriginal legal service) jointly called on the NT government to “get people off the streets today”. “Rough sleepers are among the most vulnerable people in our community, many of them have not been vaccinated, and the NT government’s pandemic response plan has completely neglected them,” the CEO of AMSANT, John Paterson, said.

To view the full article in The Guardian click here.

4 Aboriginal men with masks walking along Smith Street, Darwin

People wearing masks in Smith Street, Darwin. Image source: The Guardian.

Calls for increased FIFO COVID-19 testing

Mining sites that operate near “vulnerable” remote Aboriginal communities and rely on FIFO workers need to regularly test staff for COVID-19, insist peak health groups.

NACCO CEO Pat Turner said people should be immediately isolated and given a rapid COVID-19 test when they arrived on site and workers should only be allowed to mingle after returning a negative result. “Every mining site that is in reasonable proximity to remote Aboriginal communities or in regional towns where there are lots of Aboriginal people should have mandatory COVID-19 testing for all workers returning to the site,” Ms Turner said. “This should be standard practice.” Ms Turner said workers should be re-tested in a week or two in case they were incubating the virus or became infected by a co-worker while on site.

Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance NT CEO John Paterson agreed. “Mining companies should have permanently employed physicians on-site that check [workers] in when they get in and check them out on the way out,” he said. “It’s critical that we do as much testing as possible especially when it comes to a lot of people doing a lot of travel. To view the full article click here.

Annual health check resources

The Australian Government Department of Health have a collection of resources, including videos, podcasts and print resources about the free annual health check for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. To access the resource collection click here.

cover of brochure text 'patient information your health is in your hands - have you had your 715 health check?' photo of Aboriginal woman holding toddler & health worker in outdoor setting, purple, aqua, black colours, Aboriginal & Torres Strait flags

DoH Your health is in your hands brochure.

Importance of cultural strengths in suicide prevention

Suicide deaths among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people continue to increase and are an unrelenting tragedy for families and communities. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander (Indigenous) people take their own lives at twice the rate of other Australians. Suicide is the second leading cause of death among Indigenous males (vs 10th non-Indigenous) and the seventh leading cause of death for Indigenous females (vs 23rd non-Indigenous).

Suicide rates peak disproportionately young for Indigenous people; the median age for the suicide death of an Indigenous person is 29, while suicide accounts for one-third of all deaths of Indigenous children aged 5 to 17 years, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), and is the largest cause of Indigenous child deaths. Overall, the same ABS figures show the Indigenous suicide rate increased from 21.3 to 24.6 per 100,000 people between the first and second halves of the decade from 2010-2019; by 2019 it had risen to 27.1 per 100,000.

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Evaluation Project (ATSISPEP) has established a connection between suicide and experiences of colonisation, structural racism and continuing social and economic disadvantage.

To view the full article in Croakey Health Media click here.

metal wall with large painting of Aboriginal man's face in black, yellow & red colours in pop art style

Image source: Australian Human Rights Commission website.

APY Lands key mental health service faces cuts

Some of Australia’s most vulnerable Aboriginal communities are worried they could be left without permanent on-country mental health staff for young people, despite nearly 1,000 reports of child abuse being made in the region in the past two years. Documents obtained by the ABC under Freedom of Information laws show that 947 allegations of child abuse were recorded by SA’s Department for Child Protection for the area covering the remote Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) Lands between 2018 and 2020.

A report tabled in the SA Parliament covering part of that same period said that “80% of children in the APY Lands have exposure to or continue to experience problem sexual behaviour”. Despite these numbers, elders and SA’s opposition are concerned that a review of the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) APY will reduce services to communities in need.

To view the full article click here.

aerial view of APY Lands community Amata, red dust, approx 60 houses, dirt playing field, mountains in the distance

At the last census in 2016, there were 742 children aged under 19 living on the APY Lands communities like Amata. Photo: Carl Saville, ABC News. Image source: ABC News website.

New process for job advertising

NACCHO have introduced a new system for the advertising of job adverts via NACCHO’s communication platforms.

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 to the NACCHO website and once approved it will go live.dice spelling JOBS resting on keyboard

NAIDOC Week 4–11 July 2021

The NAIDOC 2021 theme – Heal Country! – calls for all of us to continue to seek greater protections for our lands, our waters, our sacred sites and our cultural heritage from exploitation, desecration, and destruction. Country that is more than a place and inherent to our identity. Country that we speak about like a person, sustaining our lives in every aspect – spiritually, physically, emotionally, socially, and culturally.

NAIDOC 2021 invites the nation to embrace First Nations’ cultural knowledge and understanding of Country as part of Australia’s national heritage and equally respect the culture and values of Aboriginal peoples and Torres Strait Islanders as they do the cultures and values of all Australians. For generations we have been calling for stronger measures to recognise, protect, and maintain all aspects of our culture and heritage. We are still waiting for those robust protections.

This year’s theme also seeks substantive institutional, structural, and collaborative reform – something generations of our Elders and communities have been advocating, marching and fighting for. Healing Country means finally resolving many of the outstanding injustices which impact on the lives of our people. It is about hearing and actioning the aspirations of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples which are the culmination of generations of consultation and discussions among our nations on a range of issues and grievances.

After 250 years, our children and our future generations deserve better. We cannot afford to let pass the very real opportunity that now presents itself for reform based on a fundamental change in the relationship Australia has with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

NAIDOC Week 2021 will be held from Sunday 4 July to Sunday 11 July 2021. For more information click here.

banner text 'Heal Country! 4–11 JULY 2021' & NAIDOC logo black circle with red yellow green blue Aboriginal dot painting overlaid with white circle & 2 boomerang shapes, one for the arms & one for the legs, text around inner rim of circle 'Celebrating NAIDOC Week'