NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: CtG targets alone will not close the chasm of need


AIHCTG logo painting of black hand with thumb interlinked with thumb of white hand against burnt orange cirle, surrounded by golden yellor circle, then white dots then black circle

CTG targets alone don’t drive change

The new National Agreement on Closing the Gap released in late July this year, was met with mixed reactions. Featuring 16 new socioeconomic targets and the commitment to shared decision-making between government and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander representatives, it reset the original 2008 targets after little year-to-year progress. The Coalition of Peaks, a representative body made up of approximately 50 Indigenous community-controlled organisations, believes progress on the targets over the last 12 years didn’t progress as far as was hoped, as governments didn’t follow through with their commitments.

Lead Convenor of the Coalition of Peaks and CEO of the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation, Pat Turner AM said targets alone do not drive change. “The National Agreement gives our people and the wider Australian public a birds eye view of every government’s level of commitment to actually close the giant chasm of need,” she said.

To read the National Indigenous Times article click here.

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.

SNAICC expresses out-of-home care concerns

The Secretariat for National Aboriginal and Islander Child Care (SNAICC) is deeply concerned about the increasing number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in out-of-home care being placed away from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families and carers, as revealed in a new report released by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) today. The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Child Placement Principle Indicators 2018–19 report measures progress towards implementing the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Child Placement Principle – a principle that aims to ensure the value of culture to the safety and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children is embedded in policy and practice.

To view SNAICC’s media release click here.

sad face of young Aboriginal girl

Image source: AbSec website.

COVID-19 homelessness short-term fix

Research for the Australian Homelessness Monitor 2020 reveals at least 33,000 rough sleepers and other homeless people have been booked into hotels and other temporary accommodation during the COVID-19 crisis. COVID-19 triggered multimillion-dollar commitments by state governments to tackle homelessness, with several states pledging funds and support to move beyond this short-term fix to ensure former rough sleepers find long-term housing. These are commendable actions in a long-neglected policy area, even if largely inspired by public health anxieties rather than concern for the welfare of people without a home. Such action should be part of comprehensive national housing strategy to design and phase-in the wide-ranging reforms of taxes and regulations needed to rebalance Australia’s housing system and tackle homelessness at its source.

To view the full article click here.

homeless camps (multiple tents) Macquarie Street Sydney

Homeless camp in the centre of Sydney. Image source: The Conversation website.

COVID-19 wellbeing survey seeks youth voice

The Menzies School of Health Research Aboriginal and Islander Mental health initiative (AIMhi) Stay Strong team is looking for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth between 16–25 years old to take part in to understand the impacts of the Coronavirus pandemic on mental health and wellbeing.

HAVE A YARN WITH THE TEAM – the team would love to hear about your experiences during the pandemic. Join them for a casual interview in-person (in Darwin) or on Zoom! Each interview participant will receive a $30 voucher! For more information about the research click here and here and to express your interest in participating click here.

UNABLE ATTEND AN INTERVIEW? – you can still take part by completing this 10 minute survey and go in the draw to win a $20 voucher!

Not you, but know someone who might be interested?

Please share this information to spread opportunities for young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to have a voice in Australian research.

backs of Aboriginal Trei and Karlie Stewart leaning against would post rail fence looking at football field

Trei and Karlie Stewart. Image source: ABC news.

Every Doctor, Every Setting National Framework

The Every Doctor, Every Setting: A National Framework was officially launched last week, as part of a national commitment to prioritise the mental health and wellbeing of Australian doctors and medical students. The framework was developed under the guidance of a national working group and in consultation with doctors, doctors in training and medical students in addition to a review of best practice evidence. It aims to guide coordinated action on the mental health of doctors and medical students through target areas including – improving training and work environments, recognising and responding to those needing support, improving the response to doctors and medical students impacted and improving the culture of the medical profession to enable wellbeing and coordinated action and accountability.

To view the DRS4DRS media release click here.Every Doctor, Every Setting banner - stethoscope sitting on keyboard

Reward for NATSIHWA membership referrals

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Worker Association (NATSIHWA) is holding a membership drive for the month of October 2020. NATSIHWA are inviting all student, associate and full members of NATSIHWA to refer new members. By referring a new member, you will assist others to discover the benefits of becoming a NATSIHWA member and get rewarded with a special gift pack for every successful referral. Also, there is a chance to win a Google Home Mini, for the most number of referrals!
 
The offer is valid for the month of October 2020 and applications must be made online.

Better healthcare in hospitals for our people webinar during NAIDOC Week 2020

The Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association will be holding a free webinar Better healthcare in hospitals for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in acknowledgement of NAIDOC Week 2020 at 10.30 am Thursday 12 November 2020.

AHHA would like to invite you and any other interested parties to register here, where you will also find more information on the webinar and presenters.

health professional leaning on rail of hospital bed talking to Aboriginal woman patient

Image source: the footprints network webpage.

Racism embedded in healthcare system

Why do vast gaps exist between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians when it comes to health outcomes? What would you say if someone told you that racism is embedded in Australia’s healthcare system, and that the system itself was perpetuating inequities? Professor Roianne West is taking on the immense task of unravelling racism in Australia’s complex health system through innovative training and education, and inspiring a generation of healthcare workers to understand the impact of racism on the health outcomes of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

To read the full Hospital and Healthcare article click here.

portrait photo of Professor Roianne West

Professor Roianne West, Griffith University. Image source: Hospital and Healthcare website.

Training to support Stolen Generations survivors

The Marumali Journey of Healing Model developed by Aunty Lorraine (Darcy) Peeters, a survivor of the removal policies herself. is unique, original and unparalleled. Since 2000 the Marumali Program, that is based on the nationally recognised best practice, good practice healing model, has been delivered to groups and individuals, with an aim of increasing the quality of support available to Stolen Generations, their families and their communities. Groups  include service providers in the Aboriginal community controlled sector and Government sector and survivors within community and the prison system.

Wingali Marumali Pty Ltd is running two courses in December:

Marumali Program for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Service Providers (4 days) – 1–4 December 2020, Brisbane.

Marumali Program Trauma-Informed Care For Stolen Generations Workshop for Non-Aboriginal Service Providers (2 days) – 7–8 December 2020, Brisbane.

For more information on the courses and to register click here.

close up photo of faces of Aunty Lorraine Peeters & her daughter Shaanf

Aunty Lorraine Peeters and her daughter Shaan. Image source: ABC All In The Mind webpage.

Mental health support network for our mob

Black Dog Institute is one step closer to developing a network to support mob struggling with mental ill-health. Led by the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Lived Experience Centre, the network is being developed through extensive consultation with communities across the nation.

Head of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Lived Experience Centre, Quandamooka woman, Leilani Darwin. said “We have had an opportunity to host some national online yarning circles with mob who have lived experience and I feel so privileged to hear their stories and their journeys. Even though we know how much our communities are impacted by suicide and mental ill-health, when you have families there that are losing 20 people in a year in the family group … the fact they can [attend and] talk about it is powerful.” 

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

Aboriginal man talking on his mobile phone

Image source: ABC News website.

Health worker support essential

The national peak body Mental Health Australia, has released results of a survey on the mental health and wellbeing of healthcare professionals across the country. The research looks at how the pandemic has affected healthcare professionals on a personal level, and what strategies they have used to maintain mental health and wellbeing over the past six months. Over 70% of healthcare professionals stated that COVID-19 restrictions have impacted their mental health and wellbeing in a negative way. 4 out of 5 say that working in healthcare during the pandemic has increased the amount of stress and pressure they experience in the workplace.

To view the Mental Health Australia’s media release click here.

3 Moorundi ACCHS Aboriginal Health Workers in office, one have blood pressure taken

Moorundi ACCHS Aboriginal Health Workers Alfie Gollan, Njirrah Rowe, Dorothy Kartinyeri. Image source: The Murray Valley Standard.

Social determinants of health link to kidney disease

The Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet has produced an updated Review of kidney health among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Kidney disease is a serious health concern for people living in Australia with one in three adult Australians at an increased risk of developing chronic kidney disease (CKD).  Australians diagnosed with CKD regularly suffer poor health outcomes and a compromised quality of life. CKD  can be associated with other chronic diseases like diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people experience an increased burden of kidney disease, particularly those living in remote communities. HealthInfoNet Director Neil Drew says, “The purpose of this review is to provide a comprehensive synthesis of key information on kidney health among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Australia and provide evidence to assist in the development and delivery of policies, strategies and programs”.

To view the Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet media release in full click here.

Aboriginal person's arm & hand with tubes for dialysis

Image source: RACGP website.

Australia-wide – Hearing Australia

Hearing Australia is looking to fill the two Hearing Assessment Program (HAP) positions listed below. The HAP is a major initiative to reduce hearing loss in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children aged 0-6 years living in regional and remote communities.

FT Aboriginal Manager Capability Strategy HAP (fixed term)

The Aboriginal Manager Capability Strategy HAP position is a national role responsible for the detailed design and implementation of the capability strategy with a key focus of building capability in Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services.  The capability strategy contains 3 key areas- ensuring services have the resources (human and physical) to do ear and hearing health checks on 0–3 year olds; that services have staff who are competent to undertake these checks and that services have a system in place to provide checks at regular intervals during a child’s first 3 years of life. To view the job description click and to apply click here.

FT Manager Clinical Operations HAP (fixed term)

The Manager Clinical Operations HAP position is a national role responsible for ensuring that HAP-EE has sufficient clinical staff to meet its national service targets. The Manager will work closely with other HAP-EE managers to ensure that clinical staff and clinical equipment are deployed effectively across all HAP-EE sites, hearing centres and tele-health services to complete assessments and to build capability in participating services. To view the job description click and to apply click here.

Applications for both positions close on Friday 20 October 2020.

Adelaide – CRANAplus

FT or PT Senior Psychologist: Mental Health & Wellbeing Service (permanent)

CRANAplus is the Peak Professional Body for Health Professionals working in remote and isolated areas across Australia. We exist to ensure the delivery of safe, high quality primary healthcare to remote and isolated areas of Australia. Responsible for the development and delivery of high-quality psychological interventions and supports to Health Professionals and their families, across Australia. We are seeking an experienced Practitioner who has a passion to: – Provide counselling care and interventions through CRANAplus’ Bush Support Line – Grow clinical resources, materials, and workshops available to remote and rural Health Professionals to support their wellbeing and professional knowledge growth. – Contribute to new innovations, designs, and position CRANAplus as a specialist service.

To view the position description click here.

Applications close 3.00 pm 9 November 2020.CRANAplus logo & image of 4-wheel drive in outback

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Whole-of-society mental health solutions needed

Whole-of-society mental health solutions needed

Australian Association of Social Workers (AASW) National President, Ms Christine Craik hopes World Mental Health Week (10–17 October) will highlight mental health solutions that go beyond short-term, crisis-oriented responses and encompass a whole of society approach to factors affecting mental health. “The COVID-19 crisis, along with the current recession, have underscored the importance and value of healthy communities which prevent ill-health and promote mental health and accessible early intervention services. We have an opportunity to re-build our mental health system by broadening our approach and addressing the social determinants of health. The pandemic has led to job losses, insecurity of income and housing and social restrictions. Many of us are trying to work from home at the same time as we care for children or family members whose formal care has been interrupted.”

To view the AASW media release click here.

New model to boost rural general practice

A new model, launched this week in Wagga Wagga, will give junior doctors, interested in working in rural general practice in the Murrumbidgee region, the experience, exposure and qualifications they need to become rural generalist doctors – GPs with additional skills such as obstetrics or emergency medicine. Federal Regional Health Minister, Martin Coultin said “This new locally-driven model is an important step in our commitment to delivering better healthcare for rural communities and ensuring rural practice is more appealing for doctors.”

The Murrumbidgee Model will see up to 20 new doctors trained over four years in the region, with sites including Cootamundra, Young, Deniliquin, Temora, Narrandera, Gundagai and an Aboriginal Medical Service in Wagga Wagga. The model will be evaluated, to assist the Government to roll out the National Rural Generalist Pathway and approaches that work to support Australians living in other rural, regional and remote areas.

To view the related media release click here.

country unsealed road

Image source: Australian Medical Association.

Critical kidney disease data to inform policy

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have thrived in the traditional lands known as Australia for millennia, however, in the last 50 years, kidney disease has increased dramatically, and today, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have a high need for health care for advanced chronic kidney disease. In parallel, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have had limited opportunity to guide priorities in the health care system to improve kidney health.

Torres Strait Islander woman, Associate Professor Jaqui Hughes from the Menzies School of Health Research is leading a cohort study which will describe the long-term changes in kidney function of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people over 10 years and provide critical data to inform regional and national policy on identification and care of people with kidney disease. 

To view the full article on the research click here.

Associate Professor Jaqui Hughes standing at a lecturn

Associate Professor Jaqui Hughes, Menzies School of Health Research. Image source: NHMRC website.

Feet health important for overall health

The NT has exceptionally high rates of diabetes and, subsequently, diabetes-related foot disease with Aboriginal people are 4–6 times more likely to be admitted to hospital for a diabetes-related foot wound or complication than non-Aboriginal people. During Foot Health Week (12–18 October) Top End Health Service’s High Risk Foot Service Senior Podiatrist Sally Lamond said feet were often the first place to show diabetes-related symptoms. “It’s important to pay attention to any changes in your feet because a major symptom of diabetes is damage to the nerves in your feet,” she said. “The damaged nerve function is called neuropathy, and about half of all people with diabetes have some form of nerve damage.”

To view the NT Government’s Foot Health Week media release click here.

allied health professional treating patient's feet

Image source: CheckUP Australia website.

Forgotten after leaving out-of-home care

There are currently about 18,000 Indigenous children across Australia who are living in statutory out-of-home care (OOHC), having been removed from their families. This is one-third of Australian children in care, or 11 times the rate of non-Indigenous children in care. The trauma of removal is carried by the child, their family and community for life, and is often passed on knowingly or unknowingly to the next generation. Trauma and separation affect the development of the child, their feelings of self-worth and belonging, their sense of identity, and lifelong connections with family, community, culture and Country.

The first national study to explore what happens to Indigenous children removed from care, once they turn 18, was conducted by Monash University, in partnership with SNAICC, the peak body for Indigenous children and families. If, as a country, we’re serious about “closing the gap” and supporting healthy Indigenous communities, we need to recognise the significant issue of ongoing intergenerational trauma that’s created through the removal of Indigenous children into predominantly white service systems that fail to respond and care for them appropriately.

For further information about the study click here.

6 Aboriginal children walking across a foot bridge in rural Australia

Image source: Monash University website.

Opportunity for pharmacists to do more

One in five Australians are affected by mental illness annually with many more impacted by the recent bushfire crisis and current COVID-19 pandemic. During World Mental Health Week (10–17 October) the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (PSA) is taking stock to recognise the important relationship between a person affected by mental illness, their pharmacist and health care team. Acting PSA President Michelle Lynch acknowledged the Government’s $5.7 billion investment into mental health during this week’s budget, which paves the way for pharmacists to play a greater role in the delivery of mental health care in Australia. “A majority of Australians visit their pharmacist around 14 times a year and as trusted and accessible health professionals pharmacists often come in contact with patients suffering mental ill-health,” she said.

To view the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia’s media release click here.

Pharmacist talking over counter to customer

Image source: AJP website.

NT health student award nominations open

Nominations are open for outstanding health students as part of the NT Aboriginal and Torres Strati Islander Health Worker and Practitioner Excellence Awards. The awards are an opportunity to recognise and acknowledge students who are currently studying qualifications from the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Primary Health Care training package and the significant contribution they make to their families, communities and the NT healthcare system.

To view details about the award categories and the nomination process click here.

5 Mala'la Health Service AC staff

Image source: HK Training and Consultancy website.

Poverty, housing and health links webinar

Secure and affordable housing is critical to overcoming many of the economic, social and chronic disease challenges facing rural and remote Australians, particularly chronic diseases closely related to housing such as rheumatic heart disease. People in rural and remote Australia have lower incomes, lower net household worth, higher instances of risk factors for poor health, higher levels of chronic disease, accidents and injury, and reduced life expectancy.

Two-thirds of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians live outside major cities. A critical factor in improving health outcomes for Indigenous Australians is the provision and maintenance of appropriate housing. As part of Anti-Poverty Week National Rural Health Alliance is hosting a webinar on 12.30–1.30 pm (AEDT) Thursday 15 October 2020. To register click here.anti-poverty week webinar banner

Free wellbeing webinars

The Black Dog Institute under the national eMHPrac program are preparing two webinars and an associated podcast on supporting Indigenous wellbeing through digital resources. The focus of the webinars will be to hear a range of panelists’ yarn about how healthcare workers can use digital wellbeing tools to help keep our mob strong in mind, body and culture. The webinars will showcase the WellMob website launched in July this year by the Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet.

WEBINAR 1: Supporting Indigenous wellbeing through digital resources: an introduction for clinicians

  • Who’s it for? GPs & allied health practitioners 
  • Times & Date: 1.00 pm and 8.00 pm Thursday 22 October
  • What’s it about: a webinar that shares tips on using digital wellbeing resources with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people
  • Register at: click here

WEBINAR 2: Supporting Indigenous wellbeing through digital resources: an introduction for frontline wellbeing workers

  • Who’s it for: frontline wellbeing & community workers
  • Time & Date: 1.00 pm Thursday 29 October
  • What’s it about: a webinar yarning about digital wellbeing resources for our mob and tips to use them with your clients and community
  • Register at: click here

QLD – Innisfail – Mamu Health Service Limited

Chief Financial Officer  Advertisement , Position Description, General Employment Information

Clinic ManagerAdvertisement,  Position Description, General Employment Information

Public Health NurseAdvertisement, Position Description, General Employment Information

Mamu Health Service Limited, an Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation owned and managed by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to provide culturally appropriate and comprehensive primary health care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and communities of Innisfail, Tully, Ravenshoe, Mt Garnet and Babinda, has vacancies for a Chief Financial Officer, a Clinic Manager and a Public Health Nurse.

To view the advertisement, position description and general employment information for each vacancy, click on the links above.

Applications for all positions close Friday 20 October 2020.

older Aboriginal man looking directly at camera with Aboriginal male youth in background - image from Diabetes Australia website

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: First Nations People should not pay price for Australia’s economic recovery

First Nations people should not pay price for economic recovery

The Edmund Rice Centre today expressed serious concern at the disregard for the needs of First Nations Peoples and Refugees in the 2020–21 Federal Budget. “It has been said that the Federal Budget is statement on the nation’s priorities. Clearly if that is the case, judging by this Budget, First Nations Peoples, refugees and people seeking asylum – some of the most vulnerable people to the pandemic – are very low priorities for this Government”, Phil Glendenning, Director of the Edmund Rice Centre and President of the Refugee Council of Australia said. Two months ago the Prime Minister signed a new Closing the Gap Agreement committing Federal and State Governments to a long-term program to finally reduce the huge disparities in life expectancy, health, incarceration, education and employment between First Nations peoples and other Australians. “Prime Minister Morrison’s signing of the new Closing the Gap Agreement just two months ago was a welcome step, but in last night’s Budget the Government provided no resources to make it happen”, Mr Glendenning said. 

To view the Edmund Rice Centre media release click here.

Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (VACCHO) CEO, Jill Gallagher agreed, saying a lack of Federal Government support towards Closing the Gap targets was a major omission in a Budget that would provide some hip pocket relief and new jobs for young people but delivered “nothing of substance” for Victorian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

Ms Gallagher said Treasurer Josh Frydenberg mentioned Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders just once in his speech. She described the lack of money for new Closing the Gap measures as “dispiriting”. “There are a number of targets which all levels of Government have committed too but where is the investment?”, she asked.

To view the article about the VACCHO comments click here.

Funding to improve health of First Nations families

A program that is already showing unprecedented success in improving the health and employment outcomes of First Nations families has been awarded $2.5 million in funding through the National Health and Medical Research Council. Led by the team at Charles Darwin University’s Molly Wardaguga Research Centre at the College of Nursing and Midwifery, the project is focused on providing the Best Start to Life for First Nations women, babies and families and has been awarded a Centres of Research Excellence (CRE) grant. Co-director of the Molly Wardaguga Research Centre Associate Professor Yvette Roe said the funding would allow the centre to expand and build on a current program that had resulted in a 50% reduction in preterm birth and 600% increase in First Nations employment.

To read the full article click here.

Women and researchers during the Caring for Mum on Country project, Galiwinku, Northern Territory. (L-R)-Yvette Roe, Dhurruurawuy, wurrpa Maypilama, Sarah Ireland, Wagarr and Sue Kildea

Women and researchers during the Caring for Mum on Country project, Galiwinku, Northern Territory. (L-R)-Yvette Roe, Dhurruurawuy, wurrpa Maypilama, Sarah Ireland, Wagarr and Sue Kildea. Image source: Katherine Times.

Palawa man heads mainstream health peak body

The Australian Physiotherapy Association (APA) has announced the appointment of Palawa man Scott Willis as its 22nd national president, the first Indigenous president of a mainstream health peak body in Australia. Scott, who commences his two year term on 1 January 2021, said “Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ health remains a priority area for our profession. We’re going to ensure not only that we are a culturally safe, engaged profession by listening to, learning from and working with First Nations peoples, but we’re going to make physio a known, viable and aspirational professional choice for young Aboriginals coming through the education system. I want them to know they can and should aspire to strong and respected leadership roles in the community.”

To view the APA media release click here.

portrait photo of APA President Scott Willis

APA president-elect Scott Willis. Image source: Australian Physiotherapy Association.

Cashless Debit Card expansion opposed

The Aboriginal Peak Organisation of the Northern Territory (APO NT) have called on all members of parliament to strongly oppose the legislation that would make the Cashless Debit Card (CDC) permanent in the current trial sites and expand it to the NT and Cape York, despite there being no proof that compulsory income management works. APO NT spokesperson John Paterson said, “Support for the bill would directly contradict the recent National Agreement on Closing the Gap that was supported by all levels of government including the Commonwealth. It is not in keeping with the spirit of the agreement and its emphasis on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander self-determination.” Mr Paterson added, ”We did not ask for the card, yet 22,000 of us will be affected if the card is imposed on NT income recipients.”

To view the APO NT’s media release click here.

Aboriginal man under tree holding Cashless Debit Card to camera

Image source: Gove Online.

Restricting high-sugar food promotion helps diet

Restricting the promotion and merchandising of unhealthy foods and beverages leads to a reduction in their sales, presenting an opportunity to improve people’s diets, according to a randomised controlled trial of 20 stores in remote regions of Australia. Julie Brimblecombe, of Monash University, Australia, co-joint first author of the study, said: “Price promotions and marketing tactics, such as where products are placed on shelves, are frequently used to stimulate sales. Our novel study is the first to show that limiting these activities can also have an effect on sales, in particular, of unhealthy food and drinks. This strategy has important health implications and is an opportunity to improve diets and reduce associated non-communicable diseases. It also offers a way for supermarkets to position themselves as responsible retailers, which could potentially strengthen customers loyalty without damaging business performance.” 

To read the full article published in The Lancet click here.

hands of Aboriginal person pushing trolley or health foods in outback store

Image source: Adult Learning Australia website.

New research supports self-care

Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt is set to launch a new policy blueprint that calls for policy reform to improve population health and reduce health service demand through effective self-care. Released by the Mitchell Institute, the document notes a range of environmental, economic and social factors drive self-care capability. It says governments can play a major role in creating environments that either inhibit or enable self-care. The importance of self-care to good health has also been highlighted by COVID-19, according to the Mitchell Institute’s Professor of Health Policy, Rosemary Calder. “Now is the time for a systematic approach, led by a national agenda to enable shared responsibility between government organisations and health care professionals to tackle health inequity and support self-care for all Australians,” she says.

To view the full article click here.

man's hand holding baby's hand both cradled in woman's hand against blurred grass background

Image source: Emerging Minds, Australia website.

Funding for healthy ageing research

Professor Dawn Bessarab from the University of WA’s Centre for Aboriginal Medical and Dental Health and her team will lead the Centre for Research Excellence on the Good Spirit Good Life: Better health and wellbeing for older Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians. The first Centre for Research Excellence in Australia to explore Indigenous ageing, Professor Bessarab and her team were awarded $2.5 million in NHMRC funding. They will develop their research with and from the perspective of Aboriginal people, to better understand healthy ageing in older Aboriginal people and inform culturally secure and effective service provision.

To view the full article click here.

elderly Aboriginal woman in hospital bed looking up to nurse

Indigenous elder Mildred Numamurdirdi. Image source: The Guardian.

Cost of hygienic products linked to high disease rates

A Senate committee investigating the over-pricing of items in remote Aboriginal communities has heard from Melbourne University Indigenous Eye Health Institute’s senior engagement officer Karl Hampton, who said the price-gouging of items like soap and towels is a key factor to Indigenous youth holding “the heavy burden” of serious trachoma infections.

To view the full Global Citizen article click here.

supermarket shelves showing high cost of soap

Image source: The Guardian Australian edition.

Keeping our sector strong discussion

Indigenous Business Australia (IBA) is hosting a virtual forum from 12.00–1.00 pm (AEDT) Monday 12 October 2020 with the Minister for Indigenous Australians, The Hon Ken Wyatt, AM, MP, to discuss the changes made by Indigenous businesses adapting to survive and thrive in the current climate.

To find out more and register your attendance click here.

Spaces are limited for this opportunity so be sure to register today!

Learning from each other webinar series

The Sydney Institute for Psychoanalysis invites you to join them as they bring together First Nations’ thinkers with psychoanalysts and psychotherapists in a series of six webinars in the spirit of Two Way – working together and learning from each other.

All profits will go to CASSE’s Shields for Living, Tools for Life, a dual cultural and therapeutic program, based in the Alice Springs region for ‘at-risk’ youth, providing an alternative to detention and reducing the likelihood of offending or reoffending.

The Two-Way: Learning from each other webinar series will stream 8.00–9.30 pm AEST each Tuesday from 13 October to 17 November 2020.

Click here for the webinar program and registration.

Queenie McKenzie Dreaming Place - Gija country 1995

Queenie McKenzie, Dreaming Place – Gija Country, 1995.
Image source: Australian Psychoanalytical Society,

Range of health scholarships available

The following scholarship programs, aimed at increasing Aboriginal and Torres Strait lslander participation in the health workforce and improving access to culturally appropriate health services, are seeking applications.

Indigenous Health Scholarships – Australian Rotary Health administer these scholarships on behalf of the Department of Health, providing a one off grant of $5,000 to assist students with their day to day expenses and provide mentoring support while they undertake a course in a wide range of health related professions. For further information click here.

Nursing Scholarships – the Australian College of Nursing are currently offering nursing scholarship opportunities for study in 2021 with undergraduate and postgraduate scholarships of up to $15,000 per year of full time study being available for eligible courses. Further information is available here. Applications close from 25 October 2020.

Puggy Hunter Memorial Scholarship Scheme – provides financial assistance to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander undergraduate students for entry level studies that lead or are a direct pathway to registration or practice as a health professional.  Further information is available here. Applications close on 8 November 2020 for studies in 2021.

portrait of Indigenous Health Scholarship 2020 recipient Marlee Paterson, UNSW, Doctor of Medicine.

Indigenous Health Scholarship 2020 recipient Marlee Paterson, UNSW, Doctor of Medicine. Image source: Australian Rotary Health website.

NSW – Taree – Biripi Aboriginal Corporation Medical Centre

Aboriginal Health Worker – Drug & Alcohol/Sexual Health – Identified x 2 (male and female)

Human Resources Officer x 1

Maintenance Officer x 1

Biripi Aboriginal Corporation Medical Centre (Biripi ACMC), a community controlled health service providing a wide range of culturally appropriate health and well-being services covering communities across the Mid-Northern NSW Region, is looking to fill a number of vacant positions.

To view the job descriptions for each position click on the name of the position above.

Applications for all positions close 5.00 pm Sunday 18 October 2020.Biripi Aboriginal Corporation Medical Centre logo silhouette of two black hand overlapping inside yellow circle inside border top half black, bottom half red with words Our Health In Our Hands

VIC – Shepparton – Rumbalara Aboriginal Co-operative Ltd.

PT Case Manager (Re-advertised)

FT Cradle to Kinder Worker

FT Family Preservation Worker 

Kinship Care Case Management

FT Practice Manager

Rumbalara Aboriginal Co-operative Ltd. has a number of vacancies within its Health & Wellbeing, Engagement & Family and Positive Ageing & Disability services areas.

Applications for the Case Manager position close 4.00 pm Tuesday 13 October 2020.

Applications for the Cradle to Kinder Worker, Family Preservation Worker and Kinship Care Case Manager positions close 4.00 pm Wednesday 14 October 2020.

Applications for the Practice Manager position close 4.00 pm Friday 23 October 2020.

NSW – Sydney – The George Institute for Global Health

FT Research Associate (project Manager)

The George Institute for Global Health has a very exciting opportunity for a Research Associate (project Manager) to join its ‘Safe Pathways’ team that will work in partnership with families to focus on developing a discharge planning and delivery model of care that will: address institutionalised racism; facilitate access to ongoing specialist burn care; and enhance communication, coordination and care integration between families, local primary health services and the burns service at Westmead. 

The George Institute’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Program cuts across content areas and is conducted within Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander ways of knowing, being and doing, with a focus on social determinants of health, health systems and healthcare delivery, and maintains an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander paradigm of health and healing (physical, emotional, social, cultural and spiritual) and a commitment to making impact through translation that influences policy.

For further details about the position click here. Applications close on 30 October 2020 or sooner if a suitable candidate is found.The George Institute for Global Health banner, words and purple tick with dot in shape of flame

World Evidence-Based Healthcare Day

World Evidence-Based Healthcare Day is a global initiative that raises awareness of the need for better evidence to inform healthcare policy, practice and decision making in order to improve health outcomes globally. It is an opportunity to participate in a debate about global trends and challenges, but also to celebrate the impact of individuals and organisations worldwide, recognising the work of dedicated researchers, policymakers and health professionals in improving health outcomes. World Evidence-Based Health Day is on Tuesday 20 October 2020 and has the 2020 theme is ‘Evidence to Impact’. For further information click here.logo with words World Evidinece-Based Healthcare Day 2020 ebhc 20 October 2020 light blue & navy

White Ribbon Day

Together, we really can end men’s violence against women in our communities and in our workplaces. But it starts with us turning awareness into sustained, collaborative action and it needs to start now. This year White Ribbon Day is on Friday 20 November. White Ribbon Australia are asking you to hold an event – online or as a group (following local COVID-safe guidelines) – to bring your community together as a catalyst for ongoing action. Download a Community Action Kit here to access ideas and resources to bring your community together on White Ribbon Day, get involved on social media, and to kick-start a Community Action Group that will continue to create impact long after the event is over.White Ribbon Australia banner - black bacground words White Ribbon Australia & white ribbon icon

Feature tile - Halls Creek 'Heart of Gold' town entry sign

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Halls Creek leaders recall day COVID-19 came to town

Feature tile - Halls Creek 'Heart of Gold' town entry sign

Halls Creek leaders recall day COVID-19 came to town

When coronavirus came to the small outback town of Halls Creek in WA it was “like a bomb went off”, according to Brenda Garstone, CEO of the Yura Yungi Aboriginal Medical Service. “We all had to run for cover,” she said. “We were scrambling. We didn’t know where to go, or what to do.” The WA Department of Health had warned that any community transmission in towns with remote communities would be devastating for the populations. When four healthcare workers at the local Halls Creek hospital returned positive tests, all at once, residents refused to attend the healthcare clinic for fear of picking up the virus, local shops emptied and Aboriginal men from the town’s night patrol went door to door, trying to communicate the seriousness of what was unfolding. While the outbreak was quickly contained, tensions in the small town have still not eased, with the community now fully aware of the threat COVID-19 poses.

To view the full article click here.

Halls Creek 'Heart of Gold' town entry sign

Image source: ABC News website.

Groundbreaking FASD diagnostic framework

Long wait times and centralised specialist doctors have left families in rural and remote areas waiting up to three years for a diagnosis of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD). But now a group of doctors, academics and Indigenous elders have come together in north-west Queensland to create a unique diagnostic tier system for the disorder. Local Indigenous leaders and Mount Isa rural doctor Marjad Page, a Kalkadoon, Waanyi and Ganggalidda man, wrote a dreamtime story to explain not only the disorder but the medical process to local Indigenous families. “The program is run from the Aboriginal medical service here in Mount Isa called Gidgee Healing, so it’s run out of a culturally appropriate medical service for the region,” Dr Page said.

To read the full article click here.

Gidgee Healing Dr Marjad Page portrait photo & Gidgee Healing logo

Dr Marjad Page. Image source: ABC News – ABC North West Queensland.

Six steps to stopping germs video launch

Australia is the only developed country still with high levels of trachoma and almost all cases occur in  remote Aboriginal communities. The Ending Trachoma project, which is run out of the Public Health Advocacy Institute of WA at Curtin University, aims to reduce the incidence of trachoma and skin infections in ‘trachoma at risk’ Aboriginal communities in remote WA through implementing environmental health strategies. They have developed a short video (see below) showing the importance of personal hygiene using ‘Milpa’s Six Steps to Stop Germs’ message. The video features women from the Nollamarra Football Team together with their children. It was developed by the Indigenous Eye Health at the University of Melbourne, with extensive input from Aboriginal community members and services in WA, SA and the NT. The message aims to encourage everyone, particularly kids, to stay healthy and strong and eliminate trachoma and other infectious diseases through following six steps.

For more information about the project click here.

COVID-19 offers unexpected opportunity to quit smoking

Smokers are worried. A respiratory disease is running rampant across the globe and people with unhealthy lifestyle habits appear to be especially vulnerable. Smokers hospitalised with COVID-19 are more likely to become severely unwell and die than non-smokers with the disease. At any point in time, most smokers want to quit. But COVID-19 provides the impetus to do it sooner rather than later. A recent study has found the proportion intending to quit within the next two weeks almost tripled from around 10% of smokers before COVID-19 to almost 30% in April. This heightened interest in quitting in the face of COVID-19 represents a unique opportunity for governments and health agencies to help smokers quit, and stay off smoking for good.

To view the full article in The Conversation click here.

two hands breaking cigarette in half

Image source: The Conversation.

Adolescent “never smoked” rate rises

Using data from the Australian Secondary School Students’ Alcohol and Drug Survey, a Prevention Centre PhD project led by Christina Heris found that the proportion Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adolescents who have never smoked rose from 49% in 2005 to 70% in 2017. Additionally, rates of low smoking intensity increased by 10% from 67% in 2005 to 77 % in 2017 meaning that, overall, the number of cigarettes smoked in a day has decreased amongst smokers in the 12–17 age group.

Prevention Centre investigator Professor Sandra Eades, a Noongar woman, who supervised Christina’s project said “It’s fantastic to see that tobacco control is working for all students, including driving down rates among Aboriginal young people. But we know that young Aboriginal people experience more of the risk factors for smoking such as stress, racism and disadvantage. There is a need for governments to address these broader determinants.”

To view the full article click here.

Aboriginal child holding & looking atan unlit cigarette

Image source: Deadly Vibe.

Original articles sought for inaugural HealthBulletin

The Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet is welcoming submissions from researchers, practitioners and health workers of original articles (not published elsewhere) for inclusion in their inaugural edition of the next generation of the Australian Indigenous HealthBulletin. They are seeking submissions that provide examples of research on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health, including policies, strategies and programs that have the potential to inform and support everyday practice.

For further information about how to submit papers click here.

Australian Indigenous HealthInforNet HealthBulletin Call for papers banner

Image source: Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet website.

National COVID-19 healthcare worker guidelines

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have a higher prevalence of respiratory conditions, many of which share symptoms with COVID-19. Healthcare workers examining a patient with respiratory symptoms are at risk of spreading infection between patients with the highest risk of transmission likely during throat and nose examination including when a swab is being collected.

Griffith University researchers have helped develop national guidelines to minimise healthcare workers’ risk of acquiring and spreading infection while examining Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients with respiratory symptoms. “These new guidelines aim to provide resources and support healthcare teams in prevention and management of COVID-19,’’ said Associate Professor Jing Sun from the School of Medicine who led the project.

For more information about the new national guidelines click here.

health professional in PPE removing swab from text tube

Image source: Flinders University website.

PPE innovation needed in remote health services

Clinicians, service providers and researchers have issued an urgent call for an Australian innovation in personal protective equipment (PPE) –  the ventilated hood – to be made available to remote health services, saying that without the hoods, the risk of coronavirus transmission within remote healthcare services and communities is grave.

To read the full article click here.

woman in hospitals bed under COVID-19 hood

Image source: Sydney Morning Herald.

JT Academy offers free employment advertising

Lendlease and JT Academy are encouraging all local employers to utilise the JT Academy FREE employment functions and resources. All you need to do is send the details of any job vacancies you have and let them help you find the best candidates – they will advertise your vacancy on their fully functioning job board for free!

This unique collaborative employment initiative, directed by Managing Director, Johnathan Thurston is fast becoming one the most ambitious employment initiatives Far North Queensland has ever seen. It harnesses the unique strengths of both Lendlease and JT Academy, who together are striving to provide direct job opportunities for local jobseekers.

For more information visit the JT Academy website here.

Jonathan Thurston in suit smiling, Job Board advertisement

Image source: Twitter #jtacademy.

Funding still required for rehab services

Weigelli Centre Aboriginal Corporation Inc Chairperson Ray Harris and CEO Daniel Jeffries have doubled down on the need for more funding to be made available for rehab services, saying revenue streams remained of concern with no additional recurrent funding available for rehab services. The Weigelli Centre and other services across the sector need additional funding to address the increasing need for drug and alcohol treatment services. The continuing challenges remain for services to provide support and assistance to Aboriginal individuals, families and their communities.

To read the full article in the Cowra Guardian click here.

Weigelli Centre Aboriginal Corporation metal sign

Image source: Aboriginal Health & Medical Research Council of NSW website.

CHF Big Ideas Competition

Do you have an idea which is going to change the way healthcare is delivered?

What about an idea which will transform how the health system works?

Consumers Health Forum (CHF) of Australia is invites you to send in videos of your ideas for innovation in health, to be part of the Big Ideas Forum at their Australian and NZ Shifting Gears Summit in March 2021. Your big idea could be something totally new, or it might be an example of something that has worked well in your community that could be expanded or tried in other places. You may like to base your idea on one or more of the key shifts highlighted in CHF’s 2018 White Paper Shifting Gears: Consumers Transforming Health. To view the White Paper click here.

For more information about the CHF Big Ideas Competition click here and for details about the CHF Summit 2021 click here.

4 people, each holding speech bubbles: Big Idea, Brain Storm, Think Different, Be Creative

Image source: Consumers Health Forum of Australia website.

NACCHO Aboriginal News: A free COVID-19 vaccine will be available throughout 2021, if promising trials prove successful

Prime Minister’s announcement on COVID-19 vaccines

Last week the Prime Minister announced Australia has secured onshore manufacturing agreements for two COVID-19 vaccines. This could mean a free vaccine for all Australians as early as January 2021 if proven safe and effective for use.

Advising the Australian Government on potential vaccines is the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation and the COVID-19 Vaccine and Treatments for Australia – Science and Industry Technical Advisory Group.

Remember to keep up to date with changing state, territory and border restrictions.

There are now 147 GP led respiratory clinics in operation across Australia, providing assessment of people with fever and respiratory symptoms and COVID-19 testing. You can find testing locations on the Health Direct website.

Cancer patients to be ‘wrapped in culture’ as they undergo treatment

Yorta Yorta woman Leah Lindrea-Morrison knows all too well the experience of undergoing cancer treatment, both as a patient and as someone watching a loved one go through it.

As a survivor of breast cancer, Ms Lindrea-Morrison counts herself lucky, and she has started a project to revive a local Aboriginal tradition to bring comfort to other patients.

  • The project will create a possum skin cloak to be used by Indigenous cancer patients
  • It will be made during a workshop bringing together local people touched by cancer
  • A film will also be made to show the value of adding a cultural healing element to the medical process.

Read the full story here.

Image source: ABC

Victoria continues to move towards a Treaty with First Nations people

The Victorian Government is helping Traditional Owners build stronger nations and to ensure every voice is heard on the path to Treaty. Minister for Aboriginal Affairs Gabrielle Williams today announced more than $4.3 million will be made available as part of the Traditional Owner Nation-Building Support Package to make communities stronger.

Funding will be used to support specific outcomes, such as improving governance arrangements, boosting youth engagement or building projects that will deliver economic and cultural benefits. Under the principles of the Nation-Building fund, it’s important Traditional Owners are engaged with their communities and are self-determining with strong identities, governance and knowledge, as well as economically sustainable and independent.

For further information click here.

Image source: Shutterstock

Government announces $13 million in funding for community nursing

Nurses are set to be recognised for their immense contributions in keeping Australians safe as a part of Nursing in the Community Week.

Starting on Monday, the week is about recognising the important role nurses have played during the pandemic and ensuring the most vulnerable are kept safe and healthy.

The federal government is planning to highlight the important role nurses have played for remote and regional communities, particularly in Indigenous and Defence Force health services.

Read the full story here.

Recent updates to Australian Immunisation Register

Improving the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples is a national priority. The National Immunisation Program (NIP) for all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people provides additional vaccines to help improve the health of Indigenous people, and close the gap between Indigenous and non- Indigenous people in health and life expectancy.

Until recently, the AIR used information from Medicare to record whether a person identified as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander.

Read the full article here.

Aboriginal child receiving an injection.vaccination

Image source: Deadly Vibe website.

Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health Service August Newsletter

Winnunga AHCS August Newsletter is out! To read the newsletter click here.

New COVID-19 mental health clinics in Victoria

Minster for Health, Greg Hunt, says from Monday 14 September 2020, Victorians will have access to additional mental health support with 15 new dedicated mental health clinics opening to the public.

“The clinics, announced on 17 August as part of a $31.9 million federal government mental health package to support Victorians during the COVID-19 pandemic, have been rapidly rolled out across the state at a cost of $26.9 million.

Image Source: Department of Health

“There will be nine HeadtoHelp clinics located in Greater Melbourne and six in regional Victoria. The locations are: Greater Melbourne: Berwick, Frankston, Officer, Hawthorn, Yarra Junction, West Heidelberg, Broadmeadows, Wyndham Vale, Brunswick East and Regional Victoria: Warragul, Sale, Bendigo, Wodonga, Sebastopol and Norlane.”

To read the full press release click here.

Image source: Department of Health

Adverse Childhood Experience Coordinator – Yerin, NSW Central Coast

Yerin is seeking an experienced Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander Case Coordinator to work with children, young people and their families on the NSW Central Coast, Darkinjung country wo are experiencing multiple vulnerabilities and whose children are at risk or have experienced an adverse childhood trauma. Through screening children and families, you will provide appropriate intervention care by arranging the required services to address the Adverse Childhood Trauma.

Read the full position description here.

To apply and know about other job vacancies at Yerin click here.

2021 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Eye Health Conference

Indigenous Eye Health has announced the dates for the 2021 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Eye Health Conference (previously the ‘Close the Gap for Vision by 2020 National Conference’). The conference will take place virtually from 20 April – 22 April 2021.

The full conference announcement can be read on the IEH website, here.

NACCHO Aboriginal News: Input Required to Renew Indigenous Suicide Prevention Strategy

 

Input required to renew Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Strategy

Marking World Suicide Prevention Day, Gayaa Dhuwi (Proud Spirit) Australia (GDPSA) announced the renewal of the 2013 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Strategy (NATSISPS) and called for stakeholders to make sure their voices are heard during the process.

GDPSA CEO Mr Tom Brideson explained, “The NATSISPS was released in May 2013. It was developed by Indigenous experts and leaders in mental health and suicide prevention and remains a sound evidence-based strategic response to Indigenous suicide. However, it also responded to a set of circumstances that have changed since 2013 and that require it to be renewed.

“GDPSA would like to hear from you to inform the NATSISPS renewal process. To that end, between now and the end of 2020, we will be hosting a number of targeted subject matter roundtables and Zoom consultations with particular groups, but there is also the opportunity to participate through our website and to make submissions against a Discussion Paper we have developed.”

Professor Pat Dudgeon, GDPSA director and National Director of the Centre of Best Practice in Indigenous Suicide Prevention (CBPATSISP) continued, Australian governments announced the renewal of the NATSISPS, alongside the development of a new mainstream national suicide prevention plan, in the 2017 Fifth National Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Plan. GDPDSA has been asked by the Australian Government to renew the NATSISPS and will work closely with CBPATSISP and the Prime Minister’s National Suicide Prevention Taskforce to that end. We also want to hear from a range of stakeholders and – on behalf of both GDPSA and CBPATSISP – I strongly encourage you to participate – including Indigenous and non-Indigenous stakeholders.”

GDPSA Chair Professor Helen Milroy said, “Preliminary advice we have provided to the Taskforce are that there are two priority areas for consideration in NATSISPS renewal. The first is establishing Indigenous governance of Indigenous suicide prevention including at the national, regional and community levels. The second is establishing what is important to include in integrated approaches to Indigenous suicide prevention in our communities. In particular, with reference to ATSISPEP’s Solutions That Work report, and the to-be-released learnings from the Indigenous-specific suicide prevention trial sites. This includes consideration of clinical and cultural support elements of mental health and suicide prevention service provision.

To find out more or to make a submission please visit: https://www.gayaadhuwi.org.au/sp-strategy-renewal/

NACCHO highlights ACCHO work on World Suicide Prevention Day

National Indigenous Times (NIT) feature:

Currently, suicide is the fifth leading cause of death for Indigenous people in Australia, with rates twice as high as that for non-Indigenous Australians. ACCHOs are delivering place-based, community-led strategies and solutions to decrease suicide rates.

“For NACCHO and our communities, reducing suicide rates and improving the mental health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people has always been a priority,” said NACCHO Chair, Donnella Mills.

“We know our Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations are best placed to deliver these essential services because they understand the issues our people go through.”

Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Services (KAMS) in WA are working tirelessly to ensure suicide prevention is a top priority in their region.

“Every loss of life due to suicide is tragic because it is preventable. What we are trying to do in the Kimberley is trying to better understand the reasons why the rates are so much higher, they are twice that of other Aboriginal people in Australia and three times the rate of non-Aboriginal Australians,” said Rob McPhee, KAMS Chief Operating Officer.

“It is really about getting to the root cause of that over representation and being able to work with communities to be able to address the issues associated with them.”

KAMS has been heavily involved with the Kimberley Aboriginal Suicide Prevention Trial which is currently in its fifth and final year.

To read the full article click here.

Empowered Young Leaders Forum 2019’ in Broome WA

Health and safety for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people

Three recent reports and a new book share some critical messages for addressing systemic failures that are harming Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, reports Associate Professor Megan Williams, a Wiradjuri scholar from the University of Sydney.

Her article is published on what would have been the 58th birthday of Tanya Day, whose death in custody in December 2017 is the subject of one of these reports. Across social media today, supporters shared photographs of themselves wearing pink to pay their respects, using the hashtag #PinkforTanya, in response to a request by her family.

Commission recommendations, Inquest findings and Ombudsman reports about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’s health and wellbeing are frequently quoted in attempts to improve systems and prevent further harms and deaths occurring. Their pages often include recommendations for mainstream, non-Indigenous workforce development, ranging from disciplinary actions to supervision and training.

To read the full story published in Croakey click here.

 

Stronger Together, There’s More to Say After #RUOK? 

Steven Satour, Stronger Together Campaign Manager, R U OK? says looking out for your mob is more important than ever in 2020, as it has been a challenging year for everyone and circumstances have made it even more important for us to stay connected.

“We know as a community we are Stronger Together. We know knowledge is culture and emotional wellness can be learned from our family members, so sharing resources, educating each other and providing guidance on what to say if someone answers they are not okay amongst our families is vital,” says Mr Satour.

Learn what to say next at www.ruok.org.au

Johnathan Thurston opens doors for Logan youth with ‘deadly’ new program

A new Deadly Choices jersey will be launched at Marsden State High School on September 11 by JT Academy Managing Director Johnathan Thurston – a key part of the JTConnect program that encourages the youth of Logan to believe in yourself and have the courage and confidence and pursue employment.

The JTConnect program is an initiative of the Johnathan Thurston Academy, sponsored by the Deadly Choices’ Indigenous health campaign, and is designed to empower young people to believe in themselves and be the difference. Students who complete the JTConnect program and are up to date with their 715 Health Check through their participating community controlled health service will receive a JTConnect Deadly Choices jersey.

“I’m excited about the new Deadly Choices jersey collaboration with the JT Academy and JTConnect – the program has already visited a number of high schools around Cairns and Logan,” Thurston said.  “We truly believe that by instilling a strong sense of self belief, confidence and courage will empower young people to pursue a career or a job for a better life.

“In everything we do, we aim to inspire our youth to feel proud and strong with their identity and who they are as individuals and this program will go a long way towards this goal.”

IAHA call for the long-term retention of temporary MBS telehealth items

Indigenous Allied Health Australia (IAHA), the peak organisation for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander allied health workforce, calls on the government to extend access to Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) telehealth items for allied health professionals.

Introduced in March 2020 in response to the impacts of COVID-19 on the ability of people to access in person care, 36 new telehealth allied health items were included on the MBS, replicating existing MBS allied health items traditionally provided face-to-face. Scheduled to expire at the end of September 2020, IAHA joins calls from other stakeholders for the longerterm retention of these telehealth items on the MBS.

Read the full IAHA press release here.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Daffodil Day – cancer awareness

Feature tile - Daffodil Day - Aboriginal flag with yellow daffodil as centre

Every day around five Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are diagnosed with cancer. Aboriginal and Torres Islander people have a slightly higher rate of cancer diagnosis, however are approximately 40 per cent more likely to die from cancer than other Australians (Reference: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare 2019 – Cancer series no.119. Cat. no. CAN 123).

The daffodil is recognised internationally as the symbol of hope for all people affected by cancer. Cancer Council chose it as its emblem as the bright yellow colouring heralds the return of spring, representing new life and growth. Daffodil Day is Cancer Council’s most iconic and much-loved fundraising campaign. Funds raised this Daffodil Day Appeal will help fund researchers dedicated to discovering the next cancer breakthroughs, including less harsh cancer treatments.

To visit the Cancer Council Daffodil Day Appeal website click here.

ACCHOs’ wealth of expertise much to offer

The Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (ACCHO) sector has a wealth of expertise in addressing the social and cultural determinants of health, responsive service development, and providing culturally safe care. The wider health sector needs to gain a deeper understanding of the contributions of the ACCHO sector.

Cover image from the report: Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations in practice: Sharing ways of working from the ACCHO sector

These are some of the findings in a report from the work of the Centre of Research Excellence in Aboriginal Chronic Disease Knowledge Translation and Exchange (CREATE), a collaborative enterprise between NACCHO, Wardliparingga Aboriginal Research Unit, at the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute, and the University of Adelaide’s School of Public Health.

To view the full article by Croakey click here.

More required so well placed to emerge from COVID-19

Yesterday the Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (VACCHO) and members of the Aboriginal Executive Council (AEC), a group made up of 11 Aboriginal CEOs from peak Aboriginal organisations across Victoria, provided evidence to the Public Accounts and Estimates Committee (PAEC) Inquiry into the Victorian Government’s Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic.

VACCHO CEO Jill Gallagher said the low incidence of COVID-19 cases in Victorian Aboriginal Communities was testament to Aboriginal community control and what can be achieved when working meaningfully together. In order for Aboriginal Communities to be well placed to emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic, however, more needs to be done now to ensure the sector is better placed to help Aboriginal communities affected by disproportionate rates of mental health and social emotional wellbeing issues, as well as justice and correctional issues.

To read the VACCHO media release click here.

Image sources: National Geographic for Kids and Belyuen youth NT, ABC News.

Additional Medicare subsidised psychological therapy sessions

The Australian Government will provide 10 additional Medicare subsidised psychological therapy sessions for people subjected to further restrictions in areas impacted by the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. In a media release Minister for Health Greg Hunt said the Government recognises the mental health impact the COVID-19 pandemic is having on individuals and communities, particularly those in areas such as Victoria where more stringent measures have been necessary to stop the spread to the virus.

To view the full media release click here.

oil paingint of Aboriginal man with head in hand sitting on rock in outback

Image source: Camilla Perkins for Mosaic.

QLD – Cairns

FT Member Support Regional Manager – Northern Region (Identified)

QAIHC is a non-partisan peak organisation representing all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community Controlled Health Organisations across Queensland at both state and national Level. QAIHC members deliver comprehensive and culturally appropriate, world class primary health care services to their communities.

QAIHC is seeking an experienced, passionate and high-level manager to support its members in the Aboriginal and Islander Community Controlled Health Sector.

To view the job description click here.

Broome – WA

Regional Sexual Health Facilitator – Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Service

KAMS now has an opportunity for Regional Sexual Health Facilitator to join their friendly, multidisciplinary team in Broome WA, on a full-time fixed term contract basis till 30 June 2021.

In this role, will be responsible for providing support for the coordination, development, implementation and review of practice in the area of Sexual Health in the Kimberley. In particular, this position provides advice and facilitation for an increase by clinicians in provision of opportunistic and targeted screening and appropriate management and follow up of people with sexually transmitted infections.

To view the job description click here.

Feature Image tile - Aboriginal Health News Coalition of Peaks Close the Gap Interview Save the Date NITV The Point

NACCHO Aboriginal News: Coalition of Peaks Housing Interview on NITV

Tune in this Sunday 16 August at 7pm for the FINAL exclusive installment of interviews with Coalition of Peaks members working to Close the Gap. This week Jamie Lowe, National Native Title Council and Josie Douglas, Central Land Council, join John Paul Janke from NITV’s The Point to discuss housing, a really important issue that impacts all areas of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’s lives.

Australian Medical Students’ Association declare climate health emergency

The Australian Medical Students’ Association has joined Australia’s peak medical groups, representing around 90,000 or 75% of the nation’s doctors, in calling on Prime Minister Scott Morrison to commit to a climate-focused health recovery from COVID-19. A joint letter has been coordinated by Doctors for the Environment Australia (DEA), an independent organisation of medical doctors protecting health through care of the environment.

For further information about DEA and to view the joint letter to PM Scott Morrison click here.

Australian peak medical bodies, 10 in total

CHF calls for mandatory supply of health worker face masks

The Consumers Health Forum of Australia (CHF) has warned an inadequate supply of face masks in some hospitals and widespread confusion about when and what masks are needed represents a serious public health hazard that endangers many Australians.

CHF CEO, Leanne Wells said “The ongoing problems with the supply of masks generally, and particularly of hospital-grade masks, highlight the need for mandatory measures to ensure all health settings are adequately supplied.”

To view CHF’s 11 August 2020 Media Release click here.

Two health workers with PPE

Image source: AAP: David Mariuz – ABC News.

Boots for All charity sports store

Located in Melbourne, Boots for All is the only charity sports store in Australia. BFA was created in 2006 to provide high-quality recycled and new sports equipment at low prices to enable as many Australians as possible — no matter where they live or their economic circumstances — to participate in sport and physical activity.

Relying on donations from individuals, sporting clubs and sports apparel companies, Boots for All provides a valuable service for families in the local community, as well as distributing sports equipment across Australia, including many Indigenous communities and organisations.

Funds generated by Boots for All are used to provide training and employment opportunities for young people in the Melbourne area.

Boots for All has a broad range of new and high-quality used sports equipment: the main items are football boots (and footballs), running shoes, basketball gear, tennis and cricket gear, and team uniforms. All at bargain prices!

The Boots for All sports store has been closed for the past several months due to COVID-19, but purchases can be made online or by calling the CEO (and founder) Joanne Rockwell on (0408) 102 918.

Boots for All is currently running an online promotion on the sale of football boots — good quality footy boots are available for as little as $10.

For more information or to purchase apparel please visit here.

Aboriginal kids legs with boots, Boots for All logo

Image source: Boots for All website.

Lack of Australia-wide preventative program investment

A successful remote cattle station youth-at-risk program, that has been operating for the past 30 years without any public funding, has received $4.5 million from the NT government to run intensive youth camps for the next five years.

Meagan Krakouer, Director at the National Suicide Prevention and Trauma Recovery Project, said the funding is a “step in the right direction” however “small steps, even if in the right direction, are not enough”- there is a lack of Australia-wide investment in preventative programs and funding to date has been insufficient to make a real difference in people’s lives.

To read the full National Indigenous Times article click here.

Photo of Seven Emu Stattion owner Frank Shadforth standing in front of bush vehicle in outback

Seven Emu Station owner Frank Shadforth works with at risk kids to develop life skills and cultural connection. Photo supplied by Office of the NT Chief Minister.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health Research Alert : @HealthInfoNet releases Summary of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health status 2019 social and cultural determinants, chronic conditions, health behaviours, environmental health , alcohol and other drugs

The Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet has released the Summary of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health status 2019

This new plain language publication provides information for a wider (non-academic) audience and incorporates many visual elements.

The Summary is useful for health workers and those studying in the field as a quick source of general information. It provides key information regarding the health status of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people across the following topics:

  • social and cultural determinants
  • chronic conditions
  • health behaviours
  • environmental health
  • alcohol and other drugs.

The Summary is based on HealthInfoNet‘s comprehensive publication Overview of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health status 2019. It presents statistical information from the Overview in a visual format that is quick and easy for users to digest.

The Summary is available online and in hardcopy format. Please contact HealthInfoNet by email if you wish to order a hardcopy of this Summary. Other reviews and plain language summaries are available here.

Here are the key facts

Please note in an earlier version sent out 7.00 am June 15 a computer error dropped off the last word in many sentences : these are new fixed 

Key facts

Population

  • In 2019, the estimated Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population was 847,190.
  • In 2019, NSW had the highest number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people (the estimated population was 281,107 people, 33% of the total Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population).
  • In 2019, NT had the highest proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in its population, with 32% of the NT population identifying as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islanders
  • In 2016, around 37% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people lived in major cities
  • The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population is much younger than the non-Indigenous population.

Births and pregnancy outcomes

  • In 2018, there were 21,928 births registered in Australia with one or both parents identified as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander (7% of all births registered).
  • In 2018, the median age for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mothers was 26.0 years.
  • In 2018, total fertility rates were 2,371 births per 1,000 for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women.
  • In 2017, the average birthweight of babies born to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mothers was 3,202 grams
  • The proportion of low birthweight babies born to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mothers between 2007 and 2017 remained steady at around 13%.

Mortality

  • For 2018, the age-standardised death rate for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in NSW, Qld, WA, SA and the NT was 1 per 1,000.
  • Between 1998 and 2015, there was a 15% reduction in the death rates for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in NSW, Qld, WA, SA and the NT.
  • For Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people born 2015-2017, life expectancy was estimated to be 6 years for males and 75.6 years for females, around 8-9 years less than the estimates for non-Indigenous males and females.
  • In 2018, the median age at death for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in NSW, Qld, WA, SA and the NT was 2 years; this was an increase from 55.8 years in 2008.
  • Between 1998 and 2015, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander infant mortality rate has more than halved (from 5 to 6.3 per 1,000).
  • In 2018, the leading causes of death among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in NSW, Qld, WA, SA and the NT were ischaemic heart disease (IHD), diabetes, chronic lower respiratory diseases and lung and related cancers.
  • For 2012-2017 the maternal mortality ratio for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women was 27 deaths per 100,000 women who gave birth.
  • For 1998-2015, in NSW, Qld, WA, SA and the NT there was a 32% decline in the death rate from avoidable causes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 0-74 years

Hospitalisation

  • In 2017-18, 9% of all hospital separations were for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
  • In 2017-18, the age-adjusted separation rate for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people was 2.6 times higher than for non-Indigenous people.
  • In 2017-18, the main cause of hospitalisation for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people was for ‘factors influencing health status and contact with health services’ (mostly for care involving dialysis), responsible for 49% of all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander seperations.
  • In 2017-18, the age-standardised rate of overall potentially preventable hospitalisations for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people was 80 per 1,000 (38 per 1,000 for chronic conditions and 13 per 1,000 for vaccine-preventable conditions).

Selected health conditions

Cardiovascular health

  • In 2018-19, around 15% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people reported having cardiovascular disease (CVD).
  • In 2018-19, nearly one quarter (23%) of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults were found to have high blood pressure.
  • For 2013-2017, in Qld, WA, SA and the NT combined, there were 1,043 new rheumatic heart disease diagnoses among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, a crude rate of 50 per 100,000.
  • In 2017-18, there 14,945 hospital separations for CVD among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, representing 5.4% of all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander hospital separations (excluding dialysis).
  • In 2018, ischaemic heart disease (IHD) was the leading specific cause of death of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in NSW, Qld, WA, SA and the NT

Cancer

  • In 2018-19, 1% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people reported having cancer (males 1.2%, females 1.1%).
  • For 2010-2014, the most common cancers diagnosed among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in NSW, Vic, Qld, WA and the NT were lung cancer and breast (females) cancer.
  • Survival rates indicate that of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in NSW, Vic, Qld, WA, and the NT who were diagnosed with cancer between 2007 and 2014, 50% had a chance of surviving five years after diagnosis
  • In 2016-17, there 8,447 hospital separations for neoplasms2 among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people
  • For 2013-2017, the age-standardised mortality rate due to cancer of any type was 238 per 100,000, an increase of 5% when compared with a rate of 227 per 100,000 in 2010-2014.

Diabetes

  • In 2018-19, 8% of Aboriginal people and 7.9% of Torres Strait Islander people reported having diabetes.
  • In 2015-16, there were around 2,300 hospitalisations with a principal diagnosis of type 2 diabetes among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people
  • In 2018, diabetes was the second leading cause of death for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
  • The death rate for diabetes decreased by 0% between 2009-2013 and 2014-2018.
  • Some data sources use term ‘neoplasm’ to describe conditions associated with abnormal growth of new tissue, commonly referred to as a Neoplasms can be benign (not cancerous) or malignant (cancerous) [1].

Social and emotional wellbeing

  • In 2018-19, 31% of Aboriginal and 23% of Torres Strait Islander respondents aged 18 years and over reported high or very high levels of psychological distress
  • In 2014-15, 68% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15 years and over and 67% of children aged 4-14 years experienced at least one significant stressor in the previous 12 months
  • In 2012-13, 91% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people reported on feelings of calmness and peacefulness, happiness, fullness of life and energy either some, most, or all of the time.
  • In 2014-15, more than half of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15 years and over reported an overall life satisfaction rating of at least 8 out of 10.
  • In 2018-19, 25% of Aboriginal and 17% of Torres Strait Islander people, aged two years and over, reported having a mental and/or behavioural conditions
  • In 2018-19, anxiety was the most common mental or behavioural condition reported (17%), followed by depression (13%).
  • In 2017-18, there were 21,940 hospital separations with a principal diagnosis of International Classification of Diseases (ICD) ‘mental and behavioural disorders’ identified as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander
  • In 2018, 169 (129 males and 40 females) Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in NSW, Qld, WA, SA, and the NT died from intentional self-harm (suicide).
  • Between 2009-2013 and 2014-2018, the NT was the only jurisdiction to record a decrease in intentional self-harm (suicide) death rates.

Kidney health

  • In 2018-19, 8% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people (Aboriginal people 1.9%; Torres Strait Islander people 0.4%) reported kidney disease as a long-term health condition.
  • For 2014-2018, after age-adjustment, the notification rate of end-stage renal disease was 3 times higher for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people than for non-Indigenous people.
  • In 2017-18, ‘care involving dialysis’ was the most common reason for hospitalisation among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
  • In 2018, 310 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people commenced dialysis and 49 were the recipients of new kidneys.
  • For 2013-2017, the age-adjusted death rate from kidney disease was 21 per 100,000 (NT: 47 per 100,000; WA: 38 per 100,000) for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in NSW, Qld, WA, SA and NT
  • In 2018, the most common causes of death among the 217 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who were receiving dialysis was CVD (64 deaths) and withdrawal from treatment (51 deaths).

Injury, including family violence

  • In 2012-13, 5% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people reported having a long-term condition caused by injury.
  • In 2018-19, 16% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15 years and over had experienced physical harm or threatened physical harm at least once in the last 12 months.
  • In 2016-17, the rate of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander hospitalised injury was higher for males (44 per 1,000) than females (39 per 1,000).
  • In 2017-18, 20% of injury-related hospitalisations among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people were for assault.
  • In 2018, intentional self-harm was the leading specific cause of injury deaths for NSW, Qld, SA, WA, and NT (5.3% of all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander deaths).

Respiratory health

  • In 2018-19, 29% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people reported having a long-term respiratory condition .
  • In 2018-19, 16% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people reported having asthma.
  • In 2014-15, crude hospitalisation rates were highest for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people presenting with influenza and pneumonia (7.4 per 1,000), followed by COPD (5.3 per 1,000), acute upper respiratory infections (3.8 per 1,000) and asthma (2.9 per 1,000).
  • In 2018, chronic lower respiratory disease was the third highest cause of death overall for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in NSW, Qld, WA, SA and the NT

Eye health

  • In 2018-19, eye and sight problems were reported by 38% of Aboriginal people and 40% of Torres Strait Islander people.
  • In 2018-19, eye and sight problems were reported by 32% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander males and by 43% of females.
  • In 2018-19, the most common eye conditions reported by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders were hyperopia (long sightedness: 22%), myopia (short sightedness: 16%), other diseases of the eye and adnexa (8.7%), cataract (1.4%), blindness (0.9%) and glaucoma (0.5%).
  • In 2014-15, 13% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, aged 4-14 years, were reported to have eye or sight problems.
  • In 2018, 144 cases of trachoma were detected among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children living in at-risk communities in Qld, WA, SA and the NT
  • For 2015-17, 62% of hospitalisations for diseases of the eye (8,274) among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people were for disorders of the lens (5,092) (mainly cataracts).

Ear health and hearing

  • In 2018-19, 14% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people reported having a long-term ear and/or hearing problem
  • In 2018-19, among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children aged 0-14 years, the prevalence of otitis media (OM) was 6% and of partial or complete deafness was 3.8%.
  • In 2017-18, the age-adjusted hospitalisation rate for ear conditions for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people was 1 per 1,000 population.

Oral health

  • In 2014-15, the proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children aged 4-14 years with reported tooth or gum problems was 34%, a decrease from 39% in 2008.
  • In 2012-2014, 61% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children aged 5-10 years had experienced tooth decay in their baby teeth, and 36% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children aged 6-14 years had experienced tooth decay in their permanent teeth.
  • In 2016-17, there were 3,418 potentially preventable hospitalisations for dental conditions for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander The age-standardised rate of hospitalisation was 4.6 per 1,000.

Disability

  • In 2018-19, 27% of Aboriginal and 24% of Torres Strait Islander people reported having a disability or restrictive long-term health
  • In 2018-19, 2% of Aboriginal and 8.3% of Torres Strait Islander people reported a profound or severe core activity limitation.
  • In 2016, 7% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with a profound or severe disability reported a need for assistance.
  • In 2017-18, 9% of disability service users were Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, with most aged under 50 years (82%).
  • In 2017-18, the primary disability groups accessing services were Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with a psychiatric condition (24%), intellectual disability (23%) and physical disability (20%).
  • In 2017-18, 2,524 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander National Disability Agreement service users transitioned to the National Disability Insurance Scheme.

Communicable diseases

  • In 2017, there were 7,015 notifications for chlamydia for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, accounting for 7% of the notifications in Australia
  • During 2013-2017, there was a 9% and 9.8% decline in chlamydia notification rates among males and females (respectively).
  • In 2017, there were 4,119 gonorrhoea notifications for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, accounting for 15% of the notifications in Australia.
  • In 2017, there were 779 syphilis notifications for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people accounting for 18% of the notifications in Australia.
  • In 2017, Qld (45%) and the NT (35%) accounted for 80% of the syphilis notifications from all jurisdictions.
  • In 2018, there were 34 cases of newly diagnosed human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Australia .
  • In 2017, there were 1,201 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people diagnosed with hepatitis C (HCV) in Australia
  • In 2017, there were 151 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people diagnosed with hepatitis B (HBV) in Australia
  • For 2013-2017 there was a 37% decline in the HBV notification rates for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
  • For 2011-2015, 1,152 (14%) of the 8,316 cases of invasive pneumococcal disease (IPD) were identified as Aboriginal and Torres Strait people .
  • For 2011-2015, there were 26 deaths attributed to IPD with 11 of the 26 deaths (42%) in the 50 years and over age-group.
  • For 2011-2015, 101 (10%) of the 966 notified cases of meningococcal disease were identified as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people
  • For 2006-2015, the incidence rate of meningococcal serogroup B was 8 per 100,000, with the age- specific rate highest in infants less than 12 months of age (33 per 100,000).
  • In 2015, of the 1,255 notifications of TB in Australia, 27 (2.2%) were identified as Aboriginal and seven (0.6%) as Torres Strait Islander people
  • For 2011-2015, there were 16 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people diagnosed with invasive Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) in Australia
  • Between 2007-2010 and 2011-2015 notification rates for Hib decreased by around 67%.
  • In 2018-19, the proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people reporting a disease of the skin and subcutaneous tissue was 2% (males 2.4% and females 4.0%).

NACCHO Aboriginal #CoronaVirus News Alert No 39 : April 16 #KeepOurMobSafe : #OurJobProtectOurMob : Anyinginyi ACCHO partners in new report “Fix housing and you’ll reduce risks of coronavirus and other disease in remote Indigenous communities “

” Remote Indigenous communities have taken swift and effective action to quarantine residents against the risks of COVID-19.

Under a plan developed by the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Advisory Group, entry to communities is restricted to essential visitors only.

This is important, because crowded and malfunctioning housing in remote Indigenous communities heightens the risk of COVID-19 transmission.

High rates of chronic disease mean COVID-19 outbreaks in Indigenous communities may cause high death rates. ” 

Originally published in the Conversation

 ” Rapid-testing machines that detect COVID-19 in 45 minutes are being sent to 83 indigenous communities where remote health clinics are currently waiting up to 10 days to find out whether an Aboriginal resident has coronavirus.

Health Minister Greg Hunt has announced the Australian government was investing $3.3m to establish the rapid coronavirus testing program for remote and rural ­Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

The commonwealth is choosing the sites in most need and most at risk with help from state and territory governments and health services, and aims to have 83 ­machines in place by mid-May.”

See full story Part 2 below :  Coronavirus: Rapid tests on way to remote Indigenous communities.

Read full release Here

The “old story” of housing, crowding and health continues to be overlooked. A partnership between the University of Queensland and Anyinginyi Health Aboriginal Corporation, in the Northern Territory’s (NT) Tennant Creek and Barkly region, re-opens this story. A new report from our work together is titled in Warumungu language as Piliyi Papulu Purrukaj-ji – “Good Housing to Prevent Sickness”. It reveals the simplicity of the solution: new housing and budgets for repairs and maintenance can improve human health.

Infection risks rise in crowded housing

Rates of crowded households are much higher in remote communities (34%) than in urban areas (8%). Our research in the Barkly region, 500km north of Alice Springs, found up to 22 residents in some three-bedroom houses. In one crowded house, a kidney dialysis patient and seven family members had slept in the yard for over a year in order to access clinical care.

Many Indigenous Australians lease social housing because of barriers to individual land ownership in remote Australia. Repairs and maintenance are more expensive in remote areas and our research found waiting periods are long. One resident told us:

Houses [are] inspected two times a year by Department of Housing, but no repairs or maintenance. They inspect and write down faults but don’t fix. They say people will return, but it doesn’t happen.

Better ‘health hardware’ can prevent infections

The growing populations in communities are not matched by increased housing. Crowding is the inevitable result.

Crowded households place extra pressure on “health hardware”, the infrastructure that enables washing of bodies and clothing and other hygiene practices.


Read more: Homelessness and overcrowding expose us all to coronavirus. Here’s what we can do to stop the spread


We interviewed residents who told us they lacked functioning bathrooms and washing machines and that toilets were blocked. One resident said:

Scabies has come up a lot this year because of lack of water. We’ve been running out of water in the tanks. There’s no electric pump … [so] we are bathing less …

[Also] sewerage is a problem at this house. It’s blocked … The toilet bubbles up and the water goes black and leaks out. We try to keep the kids away.

A lack of health hardware increases the transmission risk of preventable, hygiene-related infectious diseases like COVID-19. Anyinginyi clinicians report skin infections are more common than in urban areas, respiratory infections affect whole families in crowded houses, and they see daily cases of eye infections.

Data that we accessed from the clinic confirmed this situation. The highest infection diagnoses were skin infections (including boils, scabies and school sores), respiratory infections, and ear, nose and throat infections (especially middle ear infection).

These infections can have long-term consequences. Repeated skin sores and throat infections from Group A streptococcal bacteria can contribute to chronic life-threatening conditions such as kidney disease and rheumatic heart disease (RHD). Indigenous NT residents have among the highest rates of RHD in the world, and Indigenous children in Central Australia have the highest rates of post-infection kidney disease (APSGN).


Read more: The answer to Indigenous vulnerability to coronavirus: a more equitable public health agenda


Reviving a vision of healthy housing and people

Crowded and unrepaired housing persists, despite the National Indigenous Reform Agreement stating over ten years ago: “Children need to live in accommodation with adequate infrastructure conducive to good hygiene … and free of overcrowding.”

Indigenous housing programs, such as the National Partnership Agreement for Remote Indigenous Housing, have had varied success and sustainability in overcoming crowding and poor housing quality.

It is calculated about 5,500 new houses are required by 2028 to reduce the health impacts of crowding in remote communities. Earlier models still provide guidance for today’s efforts. For example, Whitlam-era efforts supported culturally appropriate housing design, while the ATSIC period of the 1990s introduced Indigenous-led housing management and culturally-specific adaptation of tenancy agreements.

Our report reasserts the call to action for both new housing and regular repairs and maintenance (with adequate budgets) of existing housing in remote communities. The lack of effective treatment or a vaccine for COVID-19 make hygiene and social distancing critical. Yet crowding and faulty home infrastructure make these measures difficult if not impossible.

Indigenous Australians living on remote country urgently need additional and functional housing. This may begin to provide the long-term gains described to us by an experienced Aboriginal health worker:

When … [decades ago] houses were built, I noticed immediately a drop in the scabies … You could see the mental change, could see the difference in families. Kids are healthier and happier. I’ve seen this repeated in other communities once housing was given – the change.


Trisha Narurla Frank contributed to the writing of this article, and other staff from Anyinginyi Health Aboriginal Corporation provided their input and consent for the sharing of these findings.

Part 2 :  Coronavirus: Rapid tests on way to remote Indigenous communities

Rapid-testing machines that detect COVID-19 in 45 minutes are being sent to 83 indigenous communities where remote health clinics are currently waiting up to 10 days to find out whether an Aboriginal resident has coronavirus.

There are no known cases of COVID-19 in indigenous communities but health authorities are on high alert for a breakout, particularly in Western Australia, where 11 health workers in the far north Kimberley region tested positive. After a doctor in the Kimberley town of Halls Creek saw Aboriginal patients while he was potentially infectious, those ­patients have been deemed not to be close contacts.

Health Minister Greg Hunt has announced the Australian government was investing $3.3m to establish the rapid coronavirus testing program for remote and rural ­Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

The commonwealth is choosing the sites in most need and most at risk with help from state and territory governments and health services, and aims to have 83 ­machines in place by mid-May.

The test, called the Xpert SARS-CoV-2 test, uses rapid ­technology to detect COVID-19 infections by using a nasal swab polymerase chain reaction test in the early phases of the illness.

“It’s vital we do all we can to protect our rural and remote ­Aboriginal and Torres Strait ­Islander communities,” Mr Hunt said.

“This world-first testing response means that we can continue to stay ahead of the curve when it comes to fighting this virus.

“If an outbreak is detected, local health services can move quickly to protect the community and activate established evacuation procedures.”

Indigenous Australians Minister Ken Wyatt said indigenous people were more vulnerable if they contracted coronavirus.

“There are higher rates of chronic conditions and other health issues in these communities and it can be hard to access healthcare,” Mr Wyatt said

“This means that an outbreak of COVID-19 in an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander community has the potential to be very serious.

“This testing program will help protect indigenous Australians against the virus.”

The program is an initiative of the Kirby Institute, in partnership with Flinders University.