NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: COVID-19 outbreak in Cherbourg defies odds

feature tile text 'Cherbourg's well-managed COVID-19 outbreak a model for other ATSI communities' & clinic reception desk Cherbourg

Note: image in feature tile by Jon Daley, ABC Southern Queensland.

COVID-19 outbreak in Cherbourg defies odds

The Aboriginal town of Cherbourg, 250 kilometres north-west of Brisbane, is seemingly defying the odds against the highly contagious Omicron variant. When the first case of the virus was detected on 29 December 2021, authorities feared a rapid spread and high numbers of hospitalisations due to the vulnerable population and comparatively low vaccination rates.

Almost a month later, just two people have been hospitalised and both have since recovered. The daily case numbers in the town are also already slowing. Cherbourg Aboriginal Community Council chief executive Chatur Zala said the town seems to have dodged a bullet. “We have managed the situation very well, which could have gone very badly,” he said.

To read the ABC News article in full click here

Cherbourg Mayor Elvie Sandow at meeting

Cherbourg mayor Elvie Sandow says the community has responded well to health advice. Photo: Jon Daly, ABC Southern Queensland. Image source: ABC News website.

Concerns overcrowding escalating outbreaks

Mayors representing Far North Queensland’s Indigenous communities have raised concerns that overcrowded housing has fuelled COVID outbreaks.

Australia’s biggest Indigenous community, Yarrabah, has amassed about 270 cases in less than a fortnight and 160 households are in quarantine. Some Yarrabah houses are home to as many as 20 people from up to three family groups.

Further north across Cape York and the Torres Strait there are 280 active cases and reports of families testing positive in homes shared with as many as a dozen adults.

North Peninsula Area Regional Council Mayor Patricia Yusia is pleading with visitors to test negative before arriving because of a shortage of quarantine space if they test positive while in the region.

To read the ABC News article in full click here.

Yarrabah Mayor Ross Andrews sitting at his desk

Yarrabah Mayor Ross Andrews says overcrowding is a “recipe” for the spread of COVID. Photo: Mark Rigby, ABC Far North. Image source: ABC News.

Helping mob to stop vaping webinar

NACCHO is again partnering with the TGA and RACGP to deliver a follow-up webinar on the legislative changes affecting access to nicotine vaping products and what the changes might mean for our communities and ACCHOs.

Professor Renee Bittoun from the University of Notre Dame and Avondale University, together with Ms Alice Nugent, ACCHO pharmacist and member of the NACCHO Medicines Advisory Team, will present:

  • An approach to vaping cessation and supporting clients who are dual users
  • Key issues related to vaping in young people including NRT options to consider
  • Validated tools and resources available for assessment and cessation support

The webinar will conclude with a 20-minute Q&A session.

This event attracts 2 CPD points.

The webinar will be held from 12:30–1:30PM (AEDT) on Thursday 27 January 2022. You can register your interest via this link.

If you have any specific questions about vaping you’d like addressed at this webinar please forward them to this email address.

hand of person with vape & smoke

Image source: The Guardian.

NPS MedicineWise seeks consumer rep

NPS MedicineWise is an independent and not-for-profit organisation. Our mission is to achieve better health outcomes for all Australians by promoting safe and wise use of medicines and medical tests.

NPS MedicineWise is looking for a consumer representative to join their Clinical Intervention Advisory Group (CIAG). The CIAG helps select, design, deliver and review NPS MedicineWise programs, resources and services for health professionals and consumers.

The  Group currently consists of 15 members, including consumer representatives, health professional representatives, researchers and representatives from stakeholder organisations.

For more information please see the Terms of Reference (which can be found in the application form).  You can also email Raelene Simpson here or Rawa Osman here. To apply, please complete the application form here. Applications close Tuesday 1 February 2022.

text NPS MEDICINEWISE' on purple background - logo

Indigenous art to promote oral health

As part of an overall commitment to improving the oral health of all Australians, the Australian Dental Association is expanding the range of oral health resources available to assist health professionals, which includes culturally appropriate oral health resources for First Nations peoples for which original Indigenous artwork has been commissioned.

The artwork (below), which is being used on the the new Indigenous Oral health web page, will assist in the development and promotion of First Nations oral health resources, which it is planned will expand in range over 2022 as the ADA works with dental and non-dental organisations to create material that can be used in dental and medical practices.

The artwork was created by professional illustrator and animator Ty Waigana, a proud Noongar and Saibaigal (Torres Strait) man, who was the NAIDOC poster artist for 2020 and is currently exhibiting at the Art Gallery of WA. The artist has also worked on projects for Australian National University, Australian Electoral Commission and the Queensland Child and Family Commission.

You can read the ADA article on a new Indigenous artwork designed to assist in the development and promotion of First Nations oral health resources here.

artwork by Ty Waigani, light blue, green, golden yellow, aqua teeth shapes in row

Artwork by Ty Waigaini. Image source: ADA website.

HOT NORTH Antimicrobial Academy course 

The HOT NORTH Antimicrobial Academy is a 9-month program for 12 Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander health care workers (pharmacists, doctors, nurses or Aboriginal Health Practitioners embedded in clinical care in the north) interested in upskilling in antibiotic use, audit, stewardship, surveillance, and resistance.

Candidate nominations to participate will come from interested health care organisations who support the candidate to develop skills and implement change in their organisation.

The training will include skills in how to:

  1. Perform antimicrobial stewardship audits;
  2. Use surveillance skills to collect, understand and utilise antimicrobial resistance data;
  3. Advocated for antibiotic resistance issues affecting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to policy makers and the National AMR Strategy.

You can obtain further details and the Application Form at the HOT NORTH website here. Submissions close Monday 31 January 2022. Please email here or call (07) 3646 1886 for further informationbanner text 'HOT NORTH Antimicrobial Academy 2022]; vector image of Aust top half layers of green, light orange shades

Art competition closing date extended

The caring@home Indigenous Art Competition closing date has been extended to Friday 25 February 2022. All other details of the competition remain the same as previously advertised.

The online entry form, terms and conditions and more information is available at the caring@home project website here. To view the flyer for the caring@home Indigenous Art Competition click here.

Aboriginal woman holding cuppa, green foliage in background; caring@home ATSI logo

New process for job advertising

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Torres and Cape COVID-19 response

feature tile text 'quick collaborative response to Torres and Cape COVID-19 outbreaks' & image of omicron virus cell

Torres and Cape COVID-19 response

COVD-19 has reached most Torres and Cape communities in far north Queensland. As of Thursday 20 January 2022 there were 279 active cases in the region. This has Torres Strait Regional Council Mayor Phillemon Mosby highly concerned.

Torres and Cape Hospital and Health Service Executive Director of Medical Services Dr Marlow Coates said while there is understandable concern as cases emerge, the community is banding together well to combat the spread.

“A lot of our planning is centred on partnering with local organisations, councils, elected leaders, non-government organisations in the region, Aboriginal medical services and outreach providers to ensure we’re providing as much broad support as possible,” he said.

“When coronavirus is (first) detected in communities… there are the understandable concerns that it’s finally arrived in that region. But it triggers a quick escalation and collaboration and togetherness from all of those agencies to support.”

To view the SBS NITV article in full click here.

view of Torres Strait Island from a plane

COVID-19 has reached the northernmost tip of Queensland, including the Torres Strait. Image source: SBS NITV website.

Fitzroy Valley needs dedicated rehab centre

An Indigenous alcohol and drug specialist says the Fitzroy Valley needs a dedicated rehabilitation centre and locally-based counsellors to put an end to problem drinking in communities.

Rene Dingo, Indigenous AOD Specialist/Collaborative Coordinator at Gurama Yani U, says that the alcohol bans that have been in place for up to 14 years “have taken away the how and the where but they have not addressed the why” behind drinking.

“Putting blanket restrictions across the whole of the Kimberley on its own – you have to do something to address people’s issues and their trauma and why they want to drink alcohol. You have to put support in place,” he said.

“Many people are talking about the need for a rehabilitation facility here. There is one in Broome and one in Wyndham,” Dingo said. “We need local counsellors for local people during and following their time in rehabilitation and there needs to be transitional housing, supported by alcohol and drug workers, to integrate people back into the community.”

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

Fitzroy Crossing wooden bridge, river

Fitzroy Crossing. Image source: National Indigenous Times.

IMeRSe public consultation underway

Consideration for the funding of the Integrating Improved Medication Management for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders Feasibility Study (IMeRSe Feasibility Study) goes before the Medical Services Advisory Committee (MSAC) in March 2022.

The public summary document for Indigenous Medication Review Service (IMeRSe) is available here and NACCHO would like to invite you to make a submission on behalf of your ACCHO in support of funding for a culturally responsive Indigenous Medication Review service, delivered by community pharmacists integrated with local Aboriginal Health Services as proposed in the IMeRSe study.

Submissions can be made on the provided ‘survey’ form on the above link or by direct email.

If you need help to interpret public documents or have other questions, please contact the NACCHO IMeRSe team using this email link.

multiple tablet & capsule blister packs, multiple colours

Image source: Healthline.

TGA vaping ban and Aboriginal health

Academic and Indigenous commentator Dr Anthony Dillon has encouraged Australian politicians and their ‘experts’ to do “more thinking and less talking.”

One thing that he believes certainly deserves “more thinking” is the recently introduced ban on nicotine-infused ‘vape juice’ for use in electronic cigarettes. That ban affects all Australians keen to shed their addictions to traditional cigarettes via the vaping substitute, and it hits Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander smokers, among the nation’s heaviest cigarette smokers, hardest of all.

To view the Quadrant article in full click here.

row of vapes

Image source: GPNews.

Victorian Aboriginal suicide rate jumps

Victoria’s Indigenous suicide rate jumped by more than half in the past year, a report from the Coroners Court has found, with young people and those in regional areas most at risk.

Deaths by suicide of Indigenous people living in Victoria have been steadily increasing since 2018, with around two thirds of deaths among men and one third women. In 2021, there were 35 Indigenous deaths by suicide in the state, up on 20 the year before. The jump represents a 75% increase in just one year. The report notes that even though the sample size is small, the increase is still statistically significant as a portion of the population.

“Suicide is complex and has many layers,” the manager of the Coroner’s Court Koori Engagement Unit Troy Williamson wrote in the report. “It is vital that barriers to seeking support are dismantled and culturally competent practices are put in place to save lives.” He said the increase in suicide deaths of Aboriginal Victorians was a “heartbreaking reminder of the systemic inequalities our communities face and this report needs to be used to drive change for our people.”

To view the ABC News article in full click here.

back of mourners at funeral, one with Aboriginal flag draped over shoulders

Image source: SBS NITV website.

Remote PHC Manuals January 2022 update

Review and updating of the Remote Primary Health Care Manuals (RPHCM) continues. The most recent RPHCM update advises: 30% of all protocols have finished the primary review and are now ready for secondary review; and 70% of protocols are in the updating stage with progress towards finalisation of protocols.

While secondary reviews are due to commence in March 2022 may need to be delayed dependent on the COVID situation, there is adequate time to allow for delay.

To view the RPHCM January 2022 update click here.

Safe, reliable water supply needed for NT

The Northern Land Council (NLC) is calling on the NT government to bring its water management system into the twenty-first century and in line with its commitments to Aboriginal Territorians.

NLC Chair Samuel Bush-Blanasi said the government’s directions paper for a Strategic Water Plan for the next 28 years – until 2050 – does not go far enough to protect precious water resources for future generations. “What we need is a new approach of integrated land and water management across the Territory with a series of local stakeholder committees.”

Mr Bush-Blanasi said “We repeat our call – that we’ve been making for years – for government to make sure safe and reliable drinking water is available to all Territorians, including those living in remote communities where the water supply often isn’t fit for purpose. Substandard water quality and water infrastructure is unacceptable in this day and age and we call on the government to make improved water infrastructure and quality for Aboriginal Territorians a priority, not an afterthought.”

To view the NLC media release in full click here.

Aboriginal hand held under running tap in NT outback

Photo: Isabella Higgins. Image source: ABC News.

New process for job advertising

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: 10-year plan to improve Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health

PLEASE NOTE: This is the last edition of the NACCHO Aboriginal Health News blog for 2021 and we will resume again in the new year from 18 January 2022.

Artwork in feature tile from the cover of the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan 2021–­2031. Artwork created by Tarni O’Shea and Gilimbaa.

10-year plan to improve Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health

In partnership with state and territory governments and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health leaders, the Morrison Government has today Wednesday 15 December 2021 launched the refreshed National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan 2021-2031 (Health Plan) – a national policy framework to improve health and wellbeing outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people over the next 10 years.

“The Health Plan is the first national health document to address and embed the health targets and Priority Reforms of the National Agreement on Closing the Gap,” Minister for Health and Aged Care, Greg Hunt said.

“In particular, the Health Plan prioritises the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled health sector and the imperative for mainstream health services to provide culturally safe and responsive care.”

CEO of NACCHO and the Lead Convener of the Coalition of Peaks, Pat Turner AM shared the following messages in a video about the release of the plan:

“The Plan embeds an integrated life course approach to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health care and prioritises our holistic model of care.”

“Critically, this Plan recognises the significant role that the Aboriginal community controlled health sector plays within Australia’s primary healthcare architecture. Our ACCHO sector is leading the way in the delivery of comprehensive, primary health care services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.”

“Implementation will enable ACCHOs to strengthen and grow so they can continue to deliver integrated care and primary health services over the next 10 years,” Ms Turner said.

You can read the Department of Health media release here.

View and download the 10-Year National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan 2021-2031 here.

Watch the joint video release from ministers and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health leaders about the release here. The video message features recordings from:

  • The Hon Greg Hunt MP, Minister for Health and Aged Care
  • Ms Donna Murray, CEO of Indigenous Allied Health Australia, Co-chair of the Health Plan Working Group
  • Professor Tom Calma AO, National Co-ordinator, Tackling Indigenous Smoking, Deputy Chair of the Health Plan Working Group
  • Ms Pat Turner, CEO of the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisation
  • The Hon Key Wyatt AM MP, Minister for Indigenous Australians
  • Senator the Hon Richard Colbeck, Minister for Senior Australians and Aged Care Services, and Minister for Sport
  • The Hon Dr David Gillespie, Minister for Regional Health
  • The Hon David Coleman MP, Assistant Minister to the Prime Minister for Mental Health and Suicide Prevention

Closing the Gap Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme scripts deadline 31 January 2022

As of 31 January 2022, Closing the Gap (CTG) PBS scripts will not be available for people who aren’t registered correctly with Services Australia.

There are recent changes to the CTG program which aim to make it easier for eligible Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to access medicines. Patients from any geographical location only need to be registered for the program once in their lifetime, to get free or reduced cost PBS medicines from any community pharmacy in Australia, without the need for each script to be marked ‘CTG’.

As of 1 July 2021, there is a new national registration system run by Services Australia for the CTG PBS Co-payment program. This system is called Health Professional Online Services (HPOS). Unfortunately, not all patients who previously received CTG scripts were transferred to the new database on HPOS, resulting in some people paying more for medicines. Potentially thousands of people who have previously had CTG scripts may be affected.

In response to this issue, the Australian Government allowed all people who had previously received CTG scripts but are not currently registered for CTG on HPOS, to continue to access CTG-subsidised medicines until 31 January 2022.

You can view the NACCHO media statement here.

PBS Co-Payment Gap

Laynha joins the NACCHO family

We wish to welcome Laynhapuy Homelands Aboriginal Corporation (LHAC or ‘Laynha’) as the latest member of the NACCHO family. Upon recommendation from the Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance Northern Territory (AMSANT), the NACCHO Board approved Laynha to become the 144th member of NACCHO on 8 December 2021.

Laynha was established in 1985 and has since been providing support to some 30 Indigenous Homelands across North East Arnhem Land in the Northern Territory with a population of approximately 1100 Yolngu residents across the region, and approximately 300 regular visitors.

Laynha supports homeland communities through:

  • Yirralka Rangers
  • Health Services
  • Community Services
  • Homeland Services
  • Ganybu Housing Aboriginal Corporation
  • Partnerships with organisations in the region with shared interests to support employment and training opportunities, culture and community, and economic development
  • Representing and promoting Laynha homelands

You can find about more about Laynha by visiting their website.

Laynhapuy Homelands Aboriginal Corporation - logo

Program needed to invest in culturally safe public health workforce

In one of the biggest demonstrations of support for significant new investment in Australia’s over-stretched public health workforce, well over 500 people registered for an online symposium on 7 December 2021. The symposium brought together many of Australia’s leading public health experts in the field.

Jointly presented by the Public Health Association of Australia (PHAA), the Australasian Faculty of Public Health Medicine (AFPHM) and NACCHO, the two-hour symposium discussed the new and existing public health workforce gaps, and the actions and support required to create increased efficiency and efficacy of public health services.

Medical Advisor for NACCHO Dr Megan Campbell spoke to Adam Evans from the National Indigenous Radio Service following the symposium.

“There is a need for a national program to train up people in public health and we need to have really broad based skills in that training program. We don’t just want doctors, we also need nurses and Aboriginal health workers who are interested in public health.”

Dr Campbell also stated that here is a real need for investment from all governments to fund positions.

“It’s really important that there are competencies as part of the curriculum around Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health so that we can build the workforce within the sector but also build cultural safety of the workforce in mainstream organisations,” Dr Campbell said.

You can listen to the interview here.

Image sources: Public Health Association Australia.

Attention turns to supporting mob through QLD outbreak

Indigenous COVID vaccination rates continue to trail behind other parts of the Queensland community, and health experts say the race is now on to prepare for outbreaks following the easing of border rules this week. Health services working with First Nations people are working to drive up those rates, as are state-mandated rules that will lock non-vaccinated Queenslanders and visitors out of cafes, bars, venues and even some health facilities from Friday.

Kaava Watson is the network director for the Institute of Urban Indigenous Health (UIH) in the state’s south east. The Birri Gubba and Kungalu man said it was now too late to worry about whether the state should risk new COVID cases by opening the border.

“Our attention is now geared towards the actual work that we’re going to have to do in terms of supporting our mob through this outbreak,” he said.

“Our concern has moved to a sense of urgency — really around the things we need to do to keep mob safe over the coming months, once we start to see community transmission of COVID.”

He said that included ensuring there was access to medication, food supplies, and support if people had to isolate.

You can read the article in the ABC News here.

Sue Andrews looks through a patient list during a door-to-door vaccination drive along the beaches in South Yarrabah. Image source: ABC News.

Sue Andrews looks through a patient list during a door-to-door vaccination drive along the beaches in South Yarrabah. Image source: ABC News.

Australia must move quickly to speed up COVID-19 booster program

The AMA has warned Australia’s COVID-19 booster program is already falling behind, risking more suffering from COVID-19 and a repeat of mistakes seen overseas where we are seeing the rapid spread of Omicron.

AMA President Dr Omar Khorshid said today the AMA was extremely concerned at the lack of support for the booster program, particularly through General Practice and pharmacies.

“Whilst we recognise that the state and territory vaccination hubs have taken nurses out of hospitals, aged care, and other health settings, it is critical that state and territory governments continue to run these clinics to ensure adequate access to vaccines for Australians needing their booster shot.

“By the end of this month close to four million people will be eligible for the booster, however, in the last week Australia has only been able to administer just over 210,000 booster doses.

“The latest strain of COVID-19, Omicron, poses a significant potential risk to the population and appears much more transmissible than previous strains, so we have to pick up the pace to protect the community.

“We need to urgently reach out to the public to encourage them to come forward for their booster, and GPs are best placed to do this for many in the population,” Dr Khorshid said.

You can read the AMA Media release here.

Senator Patrick Dodson getting his COVID-19 vaccine booster! Image source: Nindilingarri Cultural Health Services.

Senator Patrick Dodson getting his COVID-19 vaccine booster. Image source: Nindilingarri Cultural Health Services.

WA on high alert as COVID-19 spreads towards border

With proximity to the South Australian and Northern Territory borders, one of Australia’s most remote communities is facing a renewed urgency to boost COVID-19 vaccination rates. As of December 8, only 43 per cent of Indigenous people in the Ngaanyatjarra Lands were fully vaccinated.

With COVID-19 scares over the border in neighbouring states, community leaders are concerned an outbreak could be devastating.

On Monday, SA Health said the virus was detected in the wastewater in Pipalyatjara, just 30 kilometres from the West Australian border.

You can read the article in the ABC News here.

In a related article, the Northern Territory has detected four new COVID-19 cases in the community as an outbreak spreads towards the West Australian border. One of the infections is linked to a cluster in the town of Katherine, 320km south of Darwin. The other three cases are unconfirmed, but Health Minister Natasha Fyles said they are very likely to be genuine infections due to the close contacts. Two of those are in remote Timber Creek near the WA border, 225km east of Kununurra, and the other one is in Kalkarindji, 550km south of Darwin.

Meanwhile, the Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance Northern Territory has called for Katherine and its surrounding area to be locked down to slow the spread.

It said vaccination rates are not high enough to be fully protective and more health workers were urgently needed in the area.

You can read the article in the Mudgee Guardian here.

The NT has four new COVID-19 cases as an outbreak spreads towards the Western Australian border. Image source: The Mudgee Guardian.

The NT has four new COVID-19 cases as an outbreak spreads towards the Western Australian border. Image source: The Mudgee Guardian.

Significant progress to Close the Gap for Vision

The 10th annual update on the Implementation of the Roadmap to Close the Gap for Vision shows significant progress has been made to improve eye care outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people but service shortfalls and equity gaps remain.

Professor Hugh Taylor AC, Harold Mitchell Professor of Indigenous Eye Health at the University of Melbourne says there is now Roadmap activity across the whole country.

Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services, Aboriginal and/or Torres Islander people and other Indigenous-controlled organisations are also leading eye care activities at regional and state levels.

“With Australian Government support for the remaining recommendations, the gap for vision can be closed and we will be well on the way to end avoidable blindness in Indigenous communities by 2025, the goal set by Australia’s Long Term National Health Plan,” Professor Hugh Taylor said.

He also notes that the increase in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leadership of eye care work, on all levels, is a crucial step towards ensuring the best and most appropriate models of care are available.

You can find out more about the update on the SBS NITV Radio website.

Reanna Bathern having an eye test

Optometrist Kerryn Hart with patient Reanna Bathern, who needed updated glasses, and works at the public health section of the Anyinginyi Health Aboriginal Corporation. Image source: Optometry Australia.

Regional statistics about First Nations’ health and wellbeing

Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) has developed the Regional Insights for Indigenous Communities (RIFIC) website to be an accessible and user friendly website, intended for communities to access data about the regions in which they are located.

The website brings together a range of regional statistics about the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and their communities. The aim of the website is to provide access to data at a local level, to help communities set their priorities and participate in joint planning with government and service providers. The Indigenous communities and Other locations referenced, are derived from the Australian Government Indigenous Programs & Policy Locations and Australian Bureau of Statistics’ State Suburbs data sets.

You can view the RIFIC website here.

Woman gently touching child's face

Image source: AIHW RIFIC website.

Winnunga News December 2021

The Winnunga News December 2021 edition is now available. In this issue you can read about:

  • Aboriginal Hero and Great Australian – Dalaithngu
  • Indigenous Woman Sues ACT Over Forced Strip Search Her Legal Team Alleges Amounts To ‘Torture’
  • Canberra’s Don Dale Moment?
  • Labor-Greens Governing Agreement Status Report Raises Serious Questions
  • Anti-Vaxxer Staff in The AMC May Risk the Lives of Vulnerable Detainees
  • Fix The System First or It’s Just A Political Stunt
  • I Write While My Children Steal Cars and Rob Houses…
  • Experience Of An AMC Prisoner
  • COVID-19 Update
  • Winnunga Christmas Shut Down
  • Staff Profile

You can view the newsletter here.

 

New process for job advertising

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Permanent telehealth to strengthen health system

Feature tile - Tue 14.12.21 - Permanent telehealth

PLEASE NOTE: the last date for this publication this year is Wednesday 15 December 2021 – the publication will start again in the new year from 18 January 2022.

Photograph in feature tile from MiVision – Delivering telehealth in Western Australia.

Permanent telehealth to strengthen health system

In a media release published yesterday 13 December 2021 by the Australian Government, telehealth will become a permanent feature of primary health care, which has been transformational to health care delivery and underpinned much of the Government’s successful COVID-19 response.

The Morrison Government is providing $106 million over four years to support permanent telehealth services, ensuring greater flexibility to patients and doctors for the delivery of health care; allowing GPs, specialists, and allied health professionals to continue to consult with their regular patients by phone or online.

The AMA says the health of all Australians will benefit from the availability of telehealth.

AMA President Dr Omar Khorshid said telehealth also improved access to healthcare for people who found it difficult to take time off work; could not leave children or people they were caring for and who live out of town and away from their GP or non-GP specialist.

You can  read the AMA media release here and the Department of Health’s media release here.

Jigalong patient and carer being supported by Stephen Copeland, optometrists. Image credit: mivision.com.au

Jigalong patient and carer being supported by Stephen Copeland, optometrists via telehealth. Image credit: mivision.com.au

Urgency to contain Katherine and Big Rivers outbreak

In a media release published by The Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance Northern Territory (AMSANT) yesterday 13 December 2021, AMSANT expressed alarm and deep concern at the rapidly increasing numbers of cases stemming from the Katherine COVID-19 outbreak and its spread into communities in the surrounding regions.

“AMSANT is today calling on the NT Government to take immediate steps to strengthen their response to this continuing crisis”, AMSANT Chief Executive officer, John Paterson, said.

“We acknowledge the very good job that the NT Government has done in responding to the outbreaks in Robinson River, Binjari and Rockhole, however, subsequent measures to contain the Katherine outbreak have been unsuccessful.”

“News of a likely positive case in Timber Creek and multiple positive wastewater results appearing in numerous remote communities underscores the growing and urgent need for a stronger response,” Paterson said.

You can read the AMSANT media release here.

Possible positive COVID-19 case in Timber Creek

A possible positive COVID-19 case was recorded in Timber Creek yesterday and is being re-tested to confirm the result. Image source: CareFlight, ABC News.

Importance of timely COVID-19 booster vaccination

The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) states that the COVID-19 vaccines used in Australia are critical in protecting against COVID-19 due to all variants, including the newly emerged Omicron variant. Given the likelihood of ongoing transmission of both Omicron and Delta variants, ATAGI recommends COVID-19 booster vaccination for anyone aged 18 and older who completed their primary course of COVID-19 vaccination 5 or more months ago.

Timely receipt of a booster dose is particularly important for people with increased exposure risk (e.g. occupational risk or outbreak areas) or who have risk factors for severe disease. ATAGI reiterates that a third (primary) dose of COVID-19 vaccine is also recommended for anyone with immunocompromising conditions, a minimum of two months after their second dose.

Either Comirnaty (Pfizer) or Spikevax (Moderna) are recommended for use as a booster vaccine, and are considered equally acceptable. The Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, has been provisionally approved for use as a COVID-19 booster vaccine in people aged 18 years and older by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) as of 12 December 2021.

You can read the ATAGI statement on the Omicron variant and timing of COVID-19 booster vaccination here, and you can read the ATAGI recommendations on the use of Moderna as a COVID-19 booster vaccine here.

COVID-19 Dose One vial, Dose Two vial & Booster vial - ticks on first two doses

Image source: NIH Director’s Blog.

10-year preventive health strategy plan

Yesterday 13 December 2021, the Australian Government launched the National Preventive Health Strategy, a 10-year plan to improve the health and wellbeing of all Australians at all stages of life. The Strategy seeks to improve Australia’s health system, fundamentally focused on the treatment of illness and disease, by increasing the focus on prevention – from illness to wellness, and from healthcare to health.

Chronic conditions are the leading cause of ill health and death in Australia and account for 87% of deaths. The Strategy recognises that around 38% of the chronic disease burden could be prevented through a reduction in modifiable risk factors such as obesity, physical inactivity and the use of alcohol, tobacco and other drugs. This figure rises to be 49% for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

The Strategy identifies 7 key system enablers that will be integral to creating long-term, sustainable changes to the health system for all Australians, outlining seven focus areas that require critical action to reduce the risks of poor health and disease:

  • nutrition
  • physical activity
  • tobacco
  • immunisation
  • cancer screening
  • alcohol and other drug use;
  • and mental health.

You can read the Government Department of Health‘s media release here.
The National Preventive Health Strategy can be downloaded here.

National Preventive Health Strategy 2021-2030

Tracking progress in First Nations’ health

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) has published a data visualisation tool for tracking progress against the 20 Implementation Plan goals for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan 2013–2023. It presents data for each of the 20 goals, and assesses progress against the goals at the national level.

Of the 14 goals for which updates were available, 5 were on track, 6 were not on track and 3 were not assessed.

Some of the key findings:

  • In 2019, 64% of Indigenous mothers had antenatal care in the first trimester and 89% attended 5+ antenatal visits.
  • The proportion of Indigenous Australians aged 15–17 who had never smoked increased from 61% in 2002 to 85% in 2018–19.
  • In 2020, 97% of Indigenous children aged 5 were fully immunised, compared with 95% of other children.

You can read more about the AIHW tracking progress here and you can view the report here.
View the Implementation Plan for the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan 2012-2023 here.

Exciting opportunity for Aboriginal health students

Aboriginal health students across the Northern Territory can now apply for the 2022 NT Health Aboriginal Cadetship Program. The Program is a key ‘entry to practice’ initiative for NT Health to achieve greater representation of tertiary educated Aboriginal employees and increase Aboriginal health professionals in our workforce.

NT Health currently supports five cadets and will offer a sixth space in the 2022 intake.

The program assists eligible NT Aboriginal students undertaking their first undergraduate degree or postgraduate studies to gain professional health qualifications in skill shortage areas. Additionally, the program provides work placement and experience within NT Health.

The program is funded by NT Health and will provide successful cadets with:

  • Study allowance of up to $1200 per fortnight whilst engaged in full time studies
  • Book allowance of up to $1000 per year
  • An incentive payment of up to $4000 per year
  • 12 weeks paid on the job work placement during the university major academic breaks.

NT Health has a dedicated Aboriginal Workforce Development unit that administers the program. The unit’s staff will provide ongoing mentoring and support to the cadets for the term of their cadetship.

You can read the media release by NT Minister for Health Natasha Fyles here.
Further cadetship information can be found on the NT Health website.

NT Health Aboriginal Cadetship Program. Image Source: NT Health Facebook page.

NT Health Aboriginal Cadetship Program. Image Source: NT Health Facebook page.

Covid Song – Ali Curung

Check out this great Red Dust video with a straight-up message from the Ali Curung mob made with the help of Barkly Shire Council and Anyingini Health Aboriginal Corporation.

“I don’t want to see you get sick when the COVID comes in quick. We gotta get the jab before it’s too late. No time to hesitate. I got one, two, what about you! What ya gonna do? What ya gonna do when the COVID comes?”

“Yeah, we gotta do it for our families. To protect our communities. Go to the clinic and check the facts. We’re only safe when we all get vaxxed!”

Managing inappropriate comments online

The Department of Health has created a guide that can help your service with managing inappropriate comments and misinformation on your social media channels. There has recently been a significant spike in online activity and emotion. This high level guide provides information about steps your service can take to moderate inappropriate comments and content on your pages.

You can download the social media guide here.

Word cloud - misinformation

 

New process for job advertising

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Health workforce investment is urgent

4 Marr Mooditj Training AC students working on a dummy on hospital bed

PLEASE NOTE: the last date for this publication this year is Friday 15 December 2021 – the publication will start again in the new year from 18 January 2022.

Image in feature tile: Marr Mooditj Training Aboriginal Corporation students.

Health workforce investment is urgent

Around the world, news of the Omicron variant of concern has created questions about the implications for an already stretched and burdened health workforce. It is not only the clinical workforce that is feeling the pressure, there is an urgent need to invest in expanding and developing the public health workforce.

A virtual symposium, held this week, hosted by the Public Health Association of Australia (PHAA), Australasian Faculty of Public Health Medicine (AFPHM) and NACCHO, heard of public health worker burnout, the traumas of dealing with the pandemic, of the value and shortage of epidemiologists, and of a lack of adequate data on the workforce.

NACCHO Medical Director, Dr Megan Campbell, stressed the need for training and leadership opportunities for First Nations peoples and recognition of the role of ACCHOs in keeping communities safe. Campbell said the public health workforce had been “absolutely essential’ in supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities to stay safe during the pandemic and improving the cultural safety and quality of government and mainstream organisation responses as well.”

Campbell went on to say, “We absolutely need to increase the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander public health workforce and that’s going to require substantial commitments.” NACCHO wants to ensure the curriculum is appropriate, includes competencies around Indigenous public health practice – not just knowledge – and its development must be led by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

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

KAMS students in class learning child health checks

KAMS students in class learning child health checks. Photo supplied by KAMS. Image source: National Indigenous News.

AMSANT wants borders closed into new year

The CEO of Aboriginal Medical Medical Services Alliance NT (AMSANT) is calling on the NT government to keep the borders closed into the new year. The current plan is to drop the need for any quarantine requirements for double vaccinated travellers from interstate red zones on 20 December 2021.

AMSANT CEO John Paterson said he would prefer a mid-January date, “That would allow us time to increase the vaccination rates, particularly in those low vaccinated local government areas throughout the NT. Monday 17 [January 2022] looks like a good day to open up the borders as that would give the low vaccination regions time to boost their rates. We’d probably be getting very close to that 90 to 95% vaccination rate, if we continue the trend that we’re on.”

To view the full ABC News story click here.

outback highway with orange cones funnelling traffic & road sign 'state border visitor information bay'

The current plan is to let interstate visitors heading into the NT from 20 December 2021. Photo: Mitchell Abram, ABC News.

Homeless women with disability research

Homelessness is having a disastrous impact on women with disabilities, according to new research by the UNSEEN Project. UNSEEN is led by social documentarian Belinda Mason (BLUR Projects), in collaboration with the Women’s Electoral Lobby NSW, and has been designed with women to tell real stories of some of the State’s 15,000 homeless women. It provides a unique platform for women of all ages to share their true experiences.

Artist and Paralympian, Caitlin [pseudonym used for safety reasons], 44, became homeless in February 2020 when floodwater engulfed her home, badly damaging the property and taking with it much of her prized possessions. She said finding suitable temporary accommodation was near impossible. “My home was no longer habitable.”

To read the UNSEEN media release in full click here.

park bench with rolled sleeping bag, sign underneath

Image source: Women’s Agenda website.

Sobering OOHC over-representation data

Shadow Minister for Family and Community Services, Kate Washington said the Family Matters Report 2021 has revealed sobering data on the the over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children in out-of-home care. NSW was ranked as poor or very poor across all four building blocks within the report, with the rate of over representation increasing steadily since 2012-13.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in NSW are 9.9 times more likely to be removed from their families by child protection services than non-Indigenous children. The Report has slammed the lack of transparency and accountability within the NSW child protection system and has called for major investment from the NSW Government in community-led solutions.

To view the joint media release by NSW Shadow Ministers Kate Washington and David Harris in full click here.

rear view of small Aboriginal child looking towards run-down house

Image source: SBS NITV website.

New incentives for doctors to go bush

A new scheme aims to attract more health professionals to rural, regional and remote areas. From January 2022, the federal government will wipe the university debt of doctors or nurse practitioners, under a few conditions.

Regional Health Minister David Gillespie said the incentives were on top of current benefits, such as scholarship programs and additional Medicare benefits. “The more remote you go, the more significant the practice incentive payment or the workforce incentive payment is,” Dr Gillespie said. “It is targeted because there is an acute shortage of general practitioners in the outer, regional and remote areas — more so than anywhere else.”

To view the ABC News article in full click here.

outback road with yellow road sign 'clinic 100km'

Image source: RACGP website.

Culture in nursing and midwifery education

Increasing the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander nurses and midwives is critical to improving the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, yet efforts over more than 20 years are still to make significant inroads.

However, a small, award-winning Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander training provider in Perth, Marr Mooditj, is showing the way amid other hopes for change in nursing and midwifery courses and curriculum showcased at the recent Congress of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Nurses and Midwives (CATSINaM) Back To The Fire conference event in WA.

Marr Mooditj’ is one of just three organisations across Australia to provide dedicated healthcare training solely to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander  students. Their unique staff motto “Eat the frog” is about how staff make sure they are providing wrap-around support to students from across WA, in a way that goes beyond the time and focus given by most other training organisations. It means that any staff member who runs into a student who needs help is expected to step up.

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

Rural GP awarded for parasitic worm work

Dr Wong has received a RACGP Rural GP award, recognising he has directly contributed to healthcare improvement and positively impacted the local community. “Parasitic worms may not be a popular topic, but it is a serious health issue in the Kimberley region, and anyone can get it,” he said.

“I recognised part of the problem where I work was a lack of community awareness. There are simple steps people can take in terms of prevention and treatment, so I put together posters to help raise awareness across the region, as well as clear guidelines for managing parasites, which have been really useful for patients.”

To view the Kimberley Clinical Protocol Parasitic Worms that Dr Wong helped update click here and to view the RACGP media release about the Rural GP awards click here.

New process for job advertising

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: SNAICC welcomes early childhood strategy

feature tile text ' SNAICC welcomes launch of ATSI early childhood strategy' & image of Aboriginal child's hand in dirt from cover of the strategy

PLEASE NOTE: the last date for this publication this year is Friday 15 December 2021 – the publication will start again in the new year from 18 January 2022.

SNAICC welcomes early childhood strategy

The Secretariat of National Aboriginal and Islander Child Care (SNAICC), the national peak body representing the interests of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and families, is pleased to announce the release of the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Early Childhood Strategy in partnership with the Australian Government.

Launched today at the 9th SNAICC National Conference, the development of the Strategy was guided by conversations with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and families; and Aboriginal-led organisations and services in the early childhood, care and development sectors. “Our people know best, and this framework recognises and builds on Aboriginal-led solutions for us to continue to improve the early years experiences of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children,” SNAICC Chairperson Muriel Bamblett said.

Minister for Indigenous Australians, the Hon Ken Wyatt AM, MP, said the Strategy responds to calls for a more joined up approach between jurisdictions and service providers. “The new way of working under Closing the Gap offers a framework to have a whole-of-government and whole-of-community approach to a child’s development.”

To read SNAICC’s media release in full here and Minister Wyatt’s media release here.

cover of the National ATSI early childhood strategy

Cover of the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Early Childhood Strategy.

Miwatj Health’s vax rollout successes

In recent months, COVID vaccination rates have significantly increased in the Miwatj Health region in NE Arnhem Land, where the vaccination rollout began well before the recent NT outbreak. While uptake of the COVID vaccine was initially slow, with many community members feeling hesitant at first, further complicated by the spread of misinformation, more than 6,500 doses have been administered across the Miwatj Health service region.  

For Brando Yambalpal a Yolngu Community Worker, the key to helping people understand the importance of the vaccine was to deliver the COVID-19 story in-language, which, in his community of Galiwin’ku, is Yolngu Matha. “Yolngu people understand their language,” he said.  

Across the region, Miwatj vaccine teams have found the most successful way to boost vaccination uptake was via a house-to-house outreach strategy, visiting people at their homes to spend time telling the COVID story in their own language.  

Galiwin’ku Aboriginal Health Practitioner Wanamula Gondarra said the turnaround in attitude towards the vaccine, driven by the work of she and her colleagues, has been a total relief. “It’s amazing what’s been happening. Our people are really wanting to get the vaccine now, and it’s what we’ve been waiting for, working for months,” she said. “But she said there is still more work to be done, to make sure everyone comes back for their second dose and to convince those people who still haven’t decided.” 

The utilisation of role models including local Elders and members of the Miwatj Board, has also been instrumental in changing attitudes about the vaccine. Sharing consistent messages about COVID and the COVID vaccine in Yolngu Matha on community loudspeakers and on local radio to spread the education and importance of vaccination to their communities. 

Vaccination rates are now encouragingly high region — 83% of the population across the Miwatj region aged 12+ has now received at least one dose, outpacing the Indigenous vaccination rate nationally, which is at 74% first dose for those over 16.

collage of 3 photos top L-R Miwatj vax team Milingimbi, Miwatj public health outreach team, Galiwin'ku & outreach planning session Milingimbi

Clockwise: Miwatj vaccination team Milingimbi; Miwatj public health outreach team, Galiwin’ku; outreach planning session Milingimbi.

Climate change biggest threat to health

RANZCO has formed a united front with other Australasian medical colleges calling for the Federal Government to devise an urgent plan to protect Australians and the healthcare system from the impacts of climate change.

The call comes as the Royal Australasian College of Physicians released a report it commissioned, prepared by the Monash Sustainable Development Institute. Endorsed by RANZCO and nine other medical colleges, it paints a dire picture of the future of the Australian healthcare system under the unmitigated impacts of climate change.

Among the report’s recommendations is the embedding of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander knowledge and leadership in all climate change policy and action.

To view the Insight article in full click here.

Aboriginal woman walking ahead of controlled grass burn

Image source: Country Needs People website.

Aboriginal-led youth mentoring programs

The Andrews Labor Government is supporting Aboriginal young people to achieve their goals through personalised mentoring programs promoting wellbeing, connection to culture, education and employment. Minister for Youth Ros Spence has announced that five Aboriginal organisations will receive $180,000 each, sharing in $900,000 through the Marram Nganyin Aboriginal Youth Mentoring Program.

Programs will be delivered across metropolitan Melbourne and regional Victoria. The Aboriginal Wellness Foundation will provide mentoring and on-country cultural retreats for young Aboriginal men in the Wyndham area, while in the Glenelg and Southern Grampians regions Winda-Mara will support specialised cultural camps and programs with Aboriginal Elders.

To view the media release in full click here.

rear view of man and youth in bush setting

Image source: Strong Brother, Strong Sister website.

SA rural Aboriginal health workforce plan

A plan to strengthen and grow the Aboriginal health workforce in regional areas has been released, as part of the SA Government’s Rural Health Workforce Strategy. SA Minister for Health and Wellbeing Stephen Wade said the Rural Aboriginal Health Workforce Plan aims to help ensure we attract, recruit and strengthen the regional Aboriginal health workforce, while continuing to deliver world-class care in the regions.

“Growing the Aboriginal health workforce in rural SA is vital for delivering culturally responsive health services and improving the health and wellbeing of our Aboriginal communities,” said Minister Wade. “The development of the plan has involved extensive consultation with the Aboriginal workforce, consumers and communities and the non-Aboriginal workforce from all disciplines, with a focus on providing services that are culturally safe and respectful.”

Rural Health Workforce Strategy Aboriginal Health Working Group Chair, Sharon Perkins, said the plan aims to utilise the important skills and cultural expertise of Aboriginal people in providing health services to regional SA communities.

To view the media release in full click here.

Image source: RACGP GPNews.

Vision oration by Aboriginal ophthalmologist

The second annual Barry Jones Vision Oration will be delivered by Associate Professor Kristopher Rallah-Baker, Australia’s first Aboriginal ophthalmologist. Due to ongoing COVID-19 pandemic related restrictions, the oration will be released as a pre-recorded video on Wednesday 8 December 2021 on the Vision 2020 Australia website.

A proud Yuggera and Biri-Gubba man, Associate Professor Rallah-Baker is a highly respected ophthalmologist and is one of the founding members of the Australian Indigenous Doctors Association, a Board Director of the Royal Flying Doctors Service, technical advisor to the Fred Hollows Foundation and Chair of the Vision 2020 Australia Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Committee.

To view the Vision 2020 Australia media release in full click here.

Associate Professor Kristopher Rallah-Baker

Associate Professor Kristopher Rallah-Baker. Image source: ABC News.

Job Trainer free, low-cost courses

Gaining qualifications can help people find rewarding work in a wide range of jobs and industries. The Australian Government has extended the JobTrainer Fund to offer low and fee-free courses for eligible people from 16 years of age.

JobTrainer is a great way for eligible people to learn new skills, upgrade their skills and expand their job options. JobTrainer supports free and low-fee courses for jobs in demand in a range of industries like health, aged care and disability support, IT and trades. A range of course types are available, including accredited diplomas, certificates or short courses.

For additional information about JobTrainer click here.

Aust Govt tile text 'job trainer - what you need to know' Aboriginal male youth & woman

Indigenous aged care facility considerations

Indigenous people are highly under-represented in the Australian aged care system – a result of a lack of cultural understanding, appropriate spaces and safety. Yim Eng Ng’s study of four facilities in Queensland suggests several practical responses that would enhance aged care environments for this sector.

In Australia, the average life expectancy of Indigenous people is estimated to be eight years lower than that of non-Indigenous people. As a result of years of health disparity, Indigenous people access aged care at a much younger age than non-Indigenous people. This is acknowledged by federal government policy that enables Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders aged 50 years and over to access aged care services, 10 years earlier than their non- Indigenous counterparts. A submission to the 2018 Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety by NACCHO highlighted the under-representation of Indigenous people in residential aged care services and the lack of culturally appropriate facilities.

To view the ArchitectureAU article in full click here.

2 Aboriginal men painting in aged care facility

Kungkarrangkalpa (Seven Sisters) Aged Care facility, WA. Photo: Nathan Morris, ABC Goldfields Esperance.

New process for job advertising

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Invest in public health before next pandemic

Feature tile - Tue 7.12.21 - Invest in Public Health Workforce now

Invest in Public Health Workforce now, before the next pandemic hits

Chief Health Officers and public health leaders from across Australia will today, 7 December outline their ideas for the future of Australia’s Public Health Workforce in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Dr Kerry Chant PSM (NSW), Prof Brett Sutton (VIC) and Dr James Smith (QLD) among others will focus their attention on ensuring the development of the future public health experts, in a forum organised by the Public Health Association of Australia in partnership with NACCHO and the Australasian Faculty of Public Health Medicine (AFPHM).

With the pandemic far from over and the next one around the corner, now is the time to plan for and commit resources to developing the next generation of public health leaders, PHAA CEO, Adjunct Prof Terry Slevin said.

“In our efforts in ‘Closing the gap’, it is essential that we strengthen the cultural safety and Aboriginal health expertise of our public health workforce,” Dr Megan Campbell from NACCHO said.

“There must be training and leadership opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and recognition of the important role of ACCHOs in keeping communities safe and healthy.”

You can view the media release here.

Aboriginal dot painting of Australia with 4 stick figures' from cover of publication

Image from cover of: National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workforce Strategic Framework 2016–2023.

Closing the Gap National Agreement – a framework for our children’s futures

NACCHO CEO and Lead Convener of the Coalition of Peaks Pat Turner AM delivered the keynote address this morning at the SNAICC National Conference.

“We have been protecting and caring for our families and our children for more than 60,000 years.”

“Before I am the CEO of any organisation, I am foremost an Aboriginal woman, the daughter of an Arrente man and a Gurdanji woman. I am part of a kinship structure where I have many reciprocal obligations and caring responsibilities to my family.”

“I say this as it is important that when we are talking now about supporting our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and families to thrive and addressing the rates of out of home care of our children, that we always remember the strength that is in our peoples, our culture and our own ways. And that we remember that it is not our culture that is the problem, as our culture is our strength and the way forward.”

“Today, I want to talk to you about the voices of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are saying about the reasons why there are so many of our children in the child protection system and what is needed by governments and non-Indigenous organisations and those working to improve the situation.”

“As part of this, I will talk about how the new National Agreement on Closing the Gap provides a framework to design and implement national and local responses to support our children.”

You can read the keynote address here.

Danila Dilba Health Service celebrates 30 years

On Saturday 4 December 2021, Danila Dilba Health Service in Darwin celebrated their 30th anniversary.

Danila Dilba_30 years

Danila Dilba has a wide range of services in and around Darwin, including a special men’s clinic, tackling tobacco and healthy lifestyles, youth support, social and emotional wellbeing, care co-ordination, parenting support, alcohol and other drugs, and advocacy.

The service is an integral part of their local communities regularly organising BBQs, sports carnivals and beach events.

During the pandemic Danila Dilba has been organising meals for isolated elders. They also have a great record in getting services to transient people with about 800 people sleeping rough in the area.

Upon request by Danila Dilba, NACCHO CEO Pat Turner AM created the below video with a congratulatory message to be played during the anniversary ceremony.

“It is a truly wonderful thing to see the ‘community control’ model that was developed by Aboriginal people at the very first ACCHO in Redfern, fifty years ago, now taken up all over the country. And it’s organisations like Danila Dilba that have been leading the way,” said Ms Turner.

Health and medical experts call for the age of criminal responsibility to be raised to at least 14

Leading health and medical organisations in Australia say they will not stop pushing for the law to reflect medical science, and for governments to raise the age of criminal responsibility to at least 14.

In an open letter sent today, a coalition of 30 health and medical organisations has called on all state and territory Premiers, Health Ministers and Attorneys-General to urgently raise the age of criminal responsibility from 10 to at least 14 years of age.

The letter outlines evidence which shows children under 14 do not possess the capacity to have criminal intent:

  • Medical evidence is clear that children under 14 years of age are undergoing rapid brain development which makes them vulnerable to increased impulsivity, sensation-seeking behaviour and peer influence.
  • Child development and neuroscience demonstrates that maturity and the capacity for abstract reasoning are still evolving in children aged 10 to 13 years, due to the fact that their frontal cortex is still developing.

The experts say alternative models to incarceration exist, and there is already an evidence-based pathway to raising the age as set out through the independent review headed by Emeritus Professor Morag McArthur.

You can read the media release here.
Read the open letter here.
You can read Emeritus Professor Morag McArthur’s independent review here.

Raise The Age logo

$540 million to continue and expand Australia’s COVID-19 response

The Australian Government has invested a further $540 million in response to the COVID 19 pandemic including significant funding to keep Australians safe, and for COVID-19 testing.

COVID-19 has had an unprecedented impact on Australians’ way of life and the emergence of the Omicron variant of concern highlights that while we have come a long way, we require robust health measures to continue to underpin our COVID-19 Health Response.

Of this funding, $492 million will be invested into measures to continue support for all Australians, including:

  • The Aged Care Preparedness Support Measures Extension
  • The Victorian Aged Care Response Centre (VACRC)
  • Support for Aged Care Workers in COVID-19 Program (SACWIC)
  • COVID-19 Indigenous and Remote Response Measures
  • The National Incident Centre
  • MBS fee for COVID-19 pathology items
  • COVID-19 pathology testing in aged care
  • Aged Care: RAD Loan Scheme

In addition, $48 million will be invested into COVID-19 medical research to explore multiple aspects of COVID-19, including vaccination, treatment and modelling.

You can read the media release here.

COVID-19 testing

COVID-19-testing. Image source: Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Services.

First COVID death in the NT

This story contains names and details of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples who have passed on.

A 78-year-old woman from the remote community of Binjari has become the first person in the Northern Territory to die from COVID-19. Her infection was linked to the current viral cluster in the Katherine region. The elderly woman who was not vaccinated died in Royal Darwin Hospital last Thursday night from complications related to COVID-19.

Before now, the Northern Territory was the only jurisdiction in Australia without any deaths from coronavirus.

“It is an awful reminder of the severity of COVID. It is a critical reminder of why we take COVID so seriously,” NT Chief Minister Michael Gunner said.

You can read the article in the ABC News here.

Binjari woman in her 70s becomes first person in Northern Territory to die from COVID-19. Image source: ABC News.

Binjari woman in her 70s becomes first person in Northern Territory to die from COVID-19. Image source: ABC News.

Connecting primary care, research and policy

Dr Isabel Hanson, a recent recipient of a research scholarship and a RACGP 2021 Academic Post Registrar, wants to combine her skills to make a positive impact.

Dr Hanson’s 2022 scholarship will take her to the University of Oxford in the UK, where she will undertake further postgraduate study in the field of translational health sciences.

On return to Australia from the University of Oxford, Dr Hanson plans to link her translational health research and policy skills with her work with Aboriginal communities, to continue advocating for an equitable health system.

“I am committed to working in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health,” she said.

“I hope in the future to work closely with Aboriginal communities, to ask them what they need for better health, and to be part of the team who does the research and implementation to make that happen.”

You can read the story in RACGP newsGP here.

Dr Isabel Hanson is passionate about giving back to the community.

Dr Isabel Hanson is passionate about giving back to the community. Image source: RACGP

Diabetes strategy endorsed

The report found up to 80 per cent of people reported feeling a sense of blame or shame for having the condition, while more than 25 per cent said other people’s attitudes and stereotypes about diabetes negatively impacted their mental health.

52 per cent of people with type 2 diabetes said people assume they were overweight or had been in the past, while 37 per cent said people made a judgment on their food choices. 26 per cent of respondents with type 2 diabetes said they had been told they brought it on themselves.

The Australian National Diabetes Strategy 2021-2030, the federal government’s strategy to identify and manage diabetes also found Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities had one of the highest rates of type 2 diabetes in the country. The strategy found Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities had recorded increasing rates of diabetes in children, adolescents, young adults and pregnant women, leading to intergenerational patterns of premature disease.

You can read the article in the Examiner here.

Aboriginal person's hands, blood sugar level testing

Image source: The Medical Journal of Australia.

New process for job advertising

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Partnership Agreement on CtG state of play

feature tile text 'partnership agreement on Closing the Gap progress and challenges; & cartoon picture of NACCHO CEO, Ken Wyatt & two others & CoP logo

Partnership Agreement on CtG state of play

The Joint Council on Closing the Gap met today for the seventh time under the historic Partnership Agreement on Closing the Gap where governments are now working together with the Coalition of Peaks to improve outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Progress was welcomed on several high priority actions to advance the four Priority Reforms and socio-economic targets in the National Agreement on Closing the Gap. Areas where the partnership needs strengthening were also acknowledged.

Under Priority Reform Two, the Joint Council agreed in principle two of the Sector Strengthening Plans covering the early childhood care and development sector and the health sector, establishing high level priorities and joint ways of building these key community-controlled sectors nationally.

“I’m pleased to see the first two sector strengthening plans laid out. These plans are an important tool for change and accountability, and the onus is now on every party to turn their commitments into practice. Our community-controlled sector is invaluable to our people: we see real change when Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people deliver services to our communities.” said Patricia Turner AM, Lead Convener of the Coalition of Peaks.

“The Coalition of Peaks are working with governments to ensure they transform how they do business and rise to the challenges set out in the National Agreement. Shared decision making, accountability and transparency are central concerns for us. We also value the independent review of progress to be conducted by the Productivity Commission because there will be things we are doing well, but also areas where we must do better. There will be lessons to learn on how we can work better into the future and invest in those actions which will close gaps faster,” Ms Turner said.

A new target on Community Infrastructure was recommended to First Ministers and the Coalition of Peaks for sign-off and inclusion in the National Agreement on Closing the Gap. This target now includes measures that ensure essential services for remote and discrete Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities will meet or exceed jurisdictional standards. This will not only help with housing standards but deliver significant health outcomes to Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander people.

To view the media release in full click here.

group of Aboriginal people, hands in air & sign Close the Gap

Image source: Their World website.

ACCHO’s telehealth use boosts attendance

When the COVID pandemic struck, the Bendigo District and Aboriginal Co-operative (BDAC) started seeing 90% of its patients via telehealth. BDAC executive director and Dhrug man Dallas Widdicombe said the introduction of telehealth services was behind the rise in people showing up. “We realised we had more people attending their appointments then we’d ever had before,” Mr Widdicombe said.

Clinical practice manager and Arabana woman Jaydene Burzacott confirmed the clinic started seeing a significant number of new patients during the pandemic due to the provision of telehealth, “We were increasing by about six patients a week, including a lot of new people for the first time in a very long time.”

Ms Burzacott says while telehealth helps make a range of health services more accessible for a lot of people, BDAC has seen a surge in people accessing mental health services via telehealth. “Mental health appointments were a really big one,” she said. “I think it really helped people to be able to talk about their mental health over the phone.

To view the ABC News article in full click here.

BDAC CEO Dallas Widdicombe sitting at his desk

BDAC executive director and Dhrug man Dallas Widdicombe said the introduction of telehealth services was behind the rise in people showing up. Photo: Shannon Schubert, ABC Central Victoria. Image source: ABC News.

Sexual health trivia a super success

Last Friday, 3 December 2021, a highly successful virtual sexual health trivia event was held to mark Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander HIV Awareness Week (ATSIHAW).

Associate Professor and Director of Poche Centre for Indigenous Health, University of Queensland James Ward hosted the event together with NACCHO. NACCHO Chair Donnella Mills gave everyone a beautiful welcome while thanking all the health workers for their amazing efforts.

There was a great turn out with 22 teams competing for pride, bragging rights and some nice prizes. After three rounds of trivia questions on HIV, sexual health and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander popular culture, sports and geography, team AHCWALube (AHCWA) took home the first prize of $1,500 closely followed team Us Mob (Us Mob and HIV). Third place went to team GladiAIDors (Miwatj).

The costumes were all amazing and after much deliberation the Chancre Sisters (Congress) took home the prize for Best Dressed. A special shout out also goes to Rachial McCahon (Wirraka Maya) for spending an hour on her Christmas tree hair. Participants were thanked for the amazing work they do and encouraged to take part in next year’s trivia.collage of images from the sexual health virtual trivia afternoon

Government response to food insecurity

The Government has tabled its response to the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Indigenous Affairs’ report into food pricing and food security in remote Indigenous communities. Minister for Indigenous Australians, the Hon Ken Wyatt AM, MP, welcomed the report and thanked the Committee for their work.

“Improving food security and making affordable, fresh and nutritious foods more available in remote Indigenous communities is an important part of improving the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people,” Minister Wyatt said. “This report has affirmed that food security is a long-standing and complex issue in remote and rural communities. It will take a concerted and coordinated effort across jurisdictions and private industry to improve supply chains and storage.”

To view Minister Wyatt’s statement in full click here.

Gina Lyons, Irrunytju WA cooking in an electric frypan

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

New Lowitja Institute Board chair

Lowitja Institute today welcomed health, education and governance leader Mr Selwyn Button, a Gunggari man and former Registrar of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Corporations, as the new chairperson of its Board.

Mr Button succeeds Pat Anderson who retired last week after nearly 20 years in the role. “I am truly humbled to become the new chairperson of the Lowitja Institute,” Mr Button said. “Having served on the board with Pat over the last 8 years, I admire the contributions she has made and will continue to make to the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people across the country.” “She has been an inspiration and hers are significant shoes to fill. I hope to do her proud in continuing her legacy.”

To view the Lowitja Institute’s media release relating to Mr Button’s appointment click here.

new Lowitja Institute Board Chair, Selwyn Button in front of large circular grass wall sculpture

Selwyn Button. Image source: Australian Institute of Company Directors website.

HAPEE free hearing assessments available

Hearing Australia’s Hearing Assessment Program – Early Ears, dubbed, HAPEE, conducts diagnostic hearing assessments to reduce the long term effects of ear disease in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, who have significantly higher rates of hearing loss than non-Indigenous Australian children.

Telehealth appointments are now available to allow parents and carers to access Hearing Australia services and ongoing support from anywhere in Australia. A telehealth appointment is an over the phone conversation where parents and carers can ask questions and an audiologist provides advice and ongoing support.

Parents and carers can choose a telehealth or a face-to-face appointment, depending on which best suits their needs. All HAPEE hearing checks are free* for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander kids aged 0-6 years or not attending full time school. For more information and resources visit Hearing Australia or call 134 432 to book a telehealth appointment.

young Aboriginal boy having hearing test

Image source: Microsoft News Centre.

85,000 NSW adults waiting for dentists

Some 85,000 NSW adults are currently on the public dental waiting list in NSW and it could be two or three years before they see a dentist. Of those, about 30,000 are in rural, remote or regional areas.
Aboriginal man receiving dental treatment

A patient is treated at the Armajun Aboriginal Health Service at Inverell. Photo: Bridget Brennan, ABC News.

Complex PTSD explained

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can arise after exposure to a traumatic event, with symptoms falling into four clusters:

  1. upsetting and intrusive re-experiencing of the trauma (memories and nightmares)
  2. avoiding reminders of a trauma
  3. profound changes to mood and beliefs following the traumatic experience
  4. heightened reactivity to and vigilance for danger.

However, there are a multiple of ways PTSD symptoms can manifest. For some, the highly distressing re-experiencing of trauma memories is most prominent, whereas for others, a persistent hypervigilance for danger and threat may be the most difficult aspect.

Previous efforts to describe a more complex version of PTSD focused on the nature of the traumatic event(s), for instance, that people with CPTSD may have experienced their trauma in childhood. This may lead to a more pervasive set of difficulties in adulthood. Others argues repeated or prolonged exposure to trauma throughout one’s life was the key feature.

To view The Conversation article in full click here.

drawing of head made of barbed wire

Image source: Mood Disorders Clinic.

New process for job advertising

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: U AND ME CAN STOP HIV

U AND ME CAN STOP HIV

For the second year in a row NACCHO have joined forces with The University of Queensland’s Poche Centre for Indigenous Health to co-host Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander HIV Awareness Week (ATSIHAW) trivia which coincides with World AIDS Day.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples continue to be disproportionately impacted by sexually transmitted diseases and blood borne viruses, including HIV. There is also an ongoing outbreak of infectious syphilis affecting young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. This higher prevalence of other STIs increases the risk of HIV transmission.

Professor James Ward from University of Queensland Poche Centre for Indigenous Health said “ATSIHAW in its eighth year brings together researchers, health workers, policymakers and the community and gets the conversation going in our community about HIV prevention and the importance of regular testing for HIV. ATSIHAW empowers our community to take a stand on HIV Prevention with the ‘U and me can stop HIV’ campaign with 44 community events hosted by Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services during the week of ATSIHAW 2021.”

The theme of World AIDS Day 2021 ‘End inequalities. End AIDS’ focuses on reaching people left behind and drawing attention to the growing inequalities in access to essential HIV services. This message also resonates with the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Sector.

NACCHO Chair Donnella Mills said, “The theme this year for World AIDS Day is very relevant to us considering the disproportionately high rates of sexually transmissible infections (STIs), blood borne viruses (BBVs) and other communicable diseases driven by a legacy of neglect, disjointed public policy, insufficient or poorly distributed resources that fail to reach Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people on the ground, and lack of genuine co-design or culturally appropriate holistic health services.”

“We have demonstrated that a commitment from the Australian Government Department of Health, in partnership with NACCHO, to provide direct funding for Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services (ACCHS) to address the syphilis outbreak has produced some positive outcomes.”

“Over the last five years, the Australian Government’s public health response has built on the strengths of the ACCHS sector. NACCHO, together with members and other partners, has delivered increased rates of testing and treatment for STIs and BBVs. Though this sector-led response has seen some success, more must be done.”

“We thank the Australian Government Department of Health who so far have committed over $30 million over the next 3 years (2021–2024) to support locally developed responses to STI/BBVs.”

“To achieve the goal of eliminating HIV transmission in Australia for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, we need further investment for the scale up of preventative measures, innovative approaches to increase access to culturally safe testing and treatment pathways and improved stigma reduction programs. More must be done to improve the HIV cascade of care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, ensuring access to treatment and supporting people to achieve viral suppression. “U AND ME CAN STOP HIV’, the conversation needs to start now,” said Ms Mills.

Michael Brown, Sexual Health Project Officer, working with the Cherbourg Regional Aboriginal and Islander Community Controlled Health Services (CRAICCHS), 170 km north-west of Brisbane, in Wakka Wakka tribal country first discovered he was HIV-positive, when he lived in Cairns in far north Queensland. He is a firm advocate for My Health Record and is encouraging other HIV-positive people to use their record and take control of their health, knowing their privacy is protected.

Mr Brown said, “It has been 40 years since the first HIV diagnosis, and we as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are still in need of a culturally appropriate support system in the HIV area. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people need to be a priority if we are going to eradicate HIV in Australia.

“We need funding for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander HIV peer support and case management programs post the diagnosis of HIV where there is a lived experience of HIV within Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.”

NACCHO will continue to advocate for ongoing funding and work with our partner organisations including our Affiliates, the Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations (AFAO),  National Association of People Living with HIV Australia (NAPWHA), Australasian Society of HIV, Viral Hepatitis and Sexual Health Medicine (ASHM) to address the disproportionate rates of sexually transmitted diseases and blood borne viruses. This is an important step towards Closing the Gap.

To view the NACCHO Media Statement in full click here.

blood testing for HIV

Image source: SBS NITV website.

Ernie on Country with vax message

The COVID-19 vaccine rollout in the Pilbara is proceeding slowly but a push to translate jab information into Martu and a visit from Ernie Dingo have medical services feeling positive. Among the general population, the Pilbara is the least vaccinated part of WA.

The Pilbara has three Aboriginal medical services, Puntukurnu, Wirrika Maya, and Mawarnkarra, which in March came together to establish the Pilbara Aboriginal Health Alliance (PAHA). The alliance is working together with the Royal Flying Doctor Service and the WA Country Health Service to get jabs into arms, but PAHA CEO Chris Pickett said it was not an easy task. “People need to remember the logistics of making this happen. We’re talking about people in communities hundreds of kilometres from the nearest hospital,” he said.

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

Min Ken Wyatt, 2 other Aboriginal men & Ernie Dingo holding cardboard Vaxx the Outback campaign, NIAA

Photo: Leslie Dingo, Bush TV. Image source: National Indigenous Times.

AMSANT responds to vax misinformation

Claims on social media that the Australian Army had forced Aboriginal people in the remote NT communities at Binjari and Rockhole to have COVID-19 injections have been strongly rejected by Aboriginal leaders and a peak NT health body. The unsubstantiated claims, which were reported globally caused further stress to the community members – according to AMSANT CEO John Patterson.

To listen to John Patterson speak on the topic click here.

black & white portrait of AMSANT CEO John Paterson

AMSANT CEO, John Paterson. Image source: CAAMA Radio Network Australia website.

AOD support missing piece of puzzle

When it comes to addressing the over-representation of Aboriginal people in criminal justice, out-of-home care, family and domestic violence and homelessness, the missing piece of the puzzle is alcohol and other drug support. AOD treatment is chronically underfunded, but for every dollar spent on treatment services, we see a $7 return to the community.

Many of the leading causes of death and harm for Aboriginal people stem from AOD misuse. Similarly, there is a strong association between suicide and harmful AOD use.

AOD use ultimately stems from the violence and trauma enacted on Aboriginal communities since colonisation. A 2013 report from the National Indigenous Drug and Alcohol Committee found services for Aboriginal people should be culturally secure, have strong community engagement, and support Aboriginal control of solutions. There should also be continued support for the capacity building of ACCHOs to provide AOD services at a local level.

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

Daniel Morrison, Wungening Aboriginal Corporation

Daniel Morrison, Wungening Aboriginal Corporation. Image source: National Indigenous Times.

Videos to keep mob strong and deadly

The WellMob website is an online library of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander specific mental health and social and emotional wellbeing resources. These resources include over 250 apps, videos, podcasts, websites and pdfs that provide low intensity mental health interventions and cultural wellbeing content for our diverse communities. The website fills the gap in the online space not serviced by mainstream mental health providers.

The WellMob website team have recently launched a series of short videos to improve awareness about how the WellMob website can keep our diverse mob feeling strong and deadly.

The WellMob: An introduction video describes the WellMob website, a digital library of wellbeing resources made by and for our mob including over 250 apps, podcasts, websites, videos, social media and printable wellbeing materials.

The WellMob: Website tour video shows you how to use the WellMob website. Starting on the landing page, it shows the six main topics and steps through how to find digital wellbeing resources.

The WellMob: Tips for workers video has tips for health workers on how to use digital wellbeing resources found on WellMob.

For further details about the video rollout click here.

Lived experience role in mental health 

The role of lived experience is being embedded within the mental health system and suicide prevention system, with the launch of Australia’s first national guidelines for a lived experience workforce.

The National Mental Health Commission has released the National Lived Experience (Peer) Workforce Development Guidelines, which contains the principles, values and roles of the lived experience workforce, together with detailed steps for employers to help them plan and embed lived experience into their core business. The guidelines are the result of an extensive consultation and co-design process with almost 800 stakeholders.

To view the media release in full click here.

grey silhouette of head, scrunched colourful paper coming out of head

Image source: Pro Bono News Australia website.

Missing, murdered women and kids inquiry

The Australian Senate has voted to hold an inquiry into missing and murdered Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and children. Yamatji Noongar woman and Green Senator for WA Dorinda Cox called for the inquiry in her first speech to the Senate in October this year.

In a statement, the office of Senator Cox said the inquiry will be the first of its kind in Australia and will investigate “the systemic causes of violence including underlying social, economic, cultural, institutional and historical causes contributing to the ongoing violence and particular vulnerabilities of First Nations women and children.”

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

Senator Cox clapping in park with crowd in background

Senator Cox. Image source: National Indigenous Times.

New process for job advertising

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: New campaign raising awareness of FASD

New National Awareness Campaign on the risks of drinking alcohol during pregnancy launched

Almost one in three Australians aren’t aware that drinking alcohol during pregnancy can cause Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD). Nearly one in four aren’t aware alcohol should be avoided altogether during pregnancy.*

Every Moment Matters, a new national awareness campaign developed by the Foundation of Alcohol Research and Education (FARE), supports and empowers Australians to go alcoholfree through all the moments of pregnancy, right from the moment they start trying.

Endorsed and funded by the Australian Government Department of Health, this campaign provides clear and consistent messages about alcohol, pregnancy and breastfeeding.

“FASD is a whole of community issue. NACCHO is supporting ACCHOs across rural and remote Australia, to support mums, their families, their communities, their health practitioners and health services, to bring everyone together to help prevent and better understand the issues that contribute to FASD,” said NACCHO CEO Pat Turner.

“This project is about raising awareness and understanding of FASD and reducing stigma through: Providing culturally appropriate health information, training our Aboriginal healthcare workers and by bringing our communities together to create safe places for yarning about the impacts of alcohol on pregnancy.”

“Growing strong healthy mums and bubs leads to healthy communities. This project is about bringing our communities together to deal with FASD.”

“50% of pregnancies in Australia are unplanned. Being around alcohol during pregnancy can lead to lifelong problems. This campaign will spread awareness in our rural and remote communities that no amount of alcohol is safe to drink during pregnancy,” she said.

“FASD has lifelong impacts. Our communities need to understand the risks of drinking alcohol in pregnancy, and where to go for support, so they can make good choices and ask for help if they need it. Health professionals need to support families to have access to the correct information about the risks of drinking alcohol in pregnancy so they can make informed decisions and ask for help if they need it.”

“In Australia, it is still widely accepted that ‘a few’ drinks while pregnant is ok. However, the latest research demonstrates that there is no safe amount of alcohol to drink whilst pregnant. This campaign will help us safely and respectfully communicate to our communities, and their health professionals, what can happen, and where to get support if they need it,” said Turner.

View the FARE media release.
View the Australian Government Department of Health media release.
Download the Stakeholder Toolkit for the campaign to share the campaign materials in your communications
View and share the Women Want to Know resources here
View the Key Findings of the alcohol and pregnancy research conducted by Kantar Public on behalf of FARE.
You can learn more about the campaign on the Every Moment Matters website.

* Polling Snapshot by FARE on Alcohol use, pregnancy and Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder.

Here is one of the available assets for social media as part of the Stakeholder Toolkit for the campaign. 

Watch the below video, developed by FARE, to see how Every Moment Matters when it comes to pregnancy and alcohol.
Please share the video on Facebook or Twitter.

 

ACCHOs key to effective vaccine rollout

Larissa Behrendt spoke with NACCHO CEO and Lead Convener of the Coalition of Peaks Pat Turner AM on Sunday 28 November 2021 on ‘Speaking Out’ on ABC Radio.

Ms Behrendt asked Ms Turner what her thoughts are on the effectiveness of the vaccination rollout for First Nations communities.

“I think overall our community controlled sector has done pretty well. Supply is not an issue. Supply has been available on request, so if any ACCHOs advise us of any quantity and other supports around administering the vaccines, we have supported them to the fullest extent possible,” said Ms Turner.

She said she’s not as confident about the rollout in the areas that are run by state government clinics and that they haven’t done a swell and need to pick up their game.

“As you said, where the response to COVID has been most effective is when it is community controlled. What sort of difference is the community controlled sector making?” asked Ms Behrendt.

“What the Aboriginal community controlled health services are good at is establishing a good relationship with the client population and people who use our health services. Cultural respect and cultural safety are key elements of our service provision in the comprehensive primary healthcare model that we deliver in the main. I think that people have really understood that and accepted that, so there’s a lot more trust between us and the patients that we have, and that’s all going well for us to get through to our people on the importance of looking after themselves during COVID and getting the vaccination,” said Ms Turner.

You can listen to the interview on ABC Radio here.

elder without shirt outdoor setting receiving covid-19 vaccine from KAMS worker

Photo: Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Services. Image source: The Guardian.

Vigorous booster roll out and quarantine facilities needed

The emergence of the Omicron COVID-19 variant underlines the need for Australia to develop a network of dedicated quarantine facilities and to pursue the roll out of booster shots more vigorously, the AMA said today.

With public health measures easing around the country and hotel quarantine starting to be dismantled, the AMA warned Omicron and the resurgence of COVID-19 in many parts of globe is a timely reminder that the pandemic is not over.

“The emergence of Omicron in Africa should come as no surprise, given the very low levels of vaccination in many African nations, providing the ideal environment for COVID-19 to mutate and spread to other nations,” AMA President Dr Omar Khorshid said.

“Effective dedicated quarantine arrangements are a necessary tool in our efforts to combat the inevitable emergence of COVID-19 variants and to protect the community. While work on quarantine facilities has commenced in some states and territories, we are yet to see a nationally coordinated approach, which could provide Australia with a national asset of dedicated Commonwealth quarantine facilities.”

“National Cabinet also needs to approach the roll out of booster doses with far more vigour,” Dr Khorshid said.

You can read the AMA media release here.

Single coronavirus cell with DNA strands and white blood cells. Image source: wfla.com.

Single coronavirus cell with DNA strands and white blood cells. Image source: wfla.com.

Keeping people with dementia connected to Country

A decline in verbal skills is a source of grief for any person living with dementia. For First Nations peoples, the loss of speech brings the added pain of lost connection to Country, community, family and culture, which are so central to their health and well-being.

Dementia is a serious emerging health issue for Indigenous people, who experience the disease at a rate between three to five times that of the general population, with onset at an earlier age.

Dementia Support Australia, funded by the Australian government, has produced a set of picture cards designed to support First Nations older people and people with dementia. Co-designing the cards involved listening to and learning what First Nations people needed.

The inability for a person with dementia to communicate what they want or need can be frustrating for both them and care staff. For an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander person with dementia, the communication barrier with those providing care can be greater due to language and cultural differences.

You can read the article in The Conversation here.
Communication resources for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living with dementia can be downloaded here.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communication cards

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communication cards co-designed with First Nations representatives including artist Samantha Campbell.

Improving community health outcomes for Elders

An article published online in the Australian Health Review 23 November 2021 examines how Elders consider the Closing the Gap programs for improving community health outcomes.

A participatory action research project was undertaken in collaboration with eight Elders from a remote Aboriginal community in Tasmania. The findings emerged from thematic analysis of individual interviews and yarning circles.

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

The findings are reflective of tensions that arise when neoliberal policies are imposed on Aboriginal ways of knowing, being and doing. The Elders premised cultural well-being as the key determinant of Aboriginal community health.

You can read the article in the Australian Health Review here.

Elder walking with child.

Closing the Gap in Aboriginal health disparities: is there a place for Elders in the neoliberal agenda? Image source: NITV.

Employment and housing key to reduce re-imprisonment

New research has shown that employment and housing for those leaving prison are key to preventing recidivism and a subsequent return to detention. The research, which focused on former detainees in the ACT, highlighted the importance of reducing barriers to employment for people leaving prison, so that they are better equipped to begin life after detention and stay out of the justice system.

ACTCOSS CEO, Dr Emma Campbell said: “The ACT has one of the highest rates of re-imprisonment in the country. Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people in the ACT experience re-imprisonment at the rate of 94% – the highest rate of any jurisdiction.

The research notes that a lack of access to safe and affordable housing is one of the barriers to obtaining employment post-release.

“ACTCOSS has joined with Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health and Community Services and other Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander organisations in calling on the ACT Government to initiate a Royal Commission or similar commission of inquiry into the overrepresentation of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people in the ACT’s justice system,” said Dr Campbell.

You can read the article in The National Tribune here.

silhouette of person in jail, sitting with head in hands

Image source: The Conversation website.

Only four days until ATSIHAW Trivia

It’s not too late for Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services staff to join the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander HIV Awareness Week Virtual Trivia.

Friday December 3, 2021
4pm AEDT, 3.30pm ACDT, 3pm AEST, 2.30pm ACST, 1pm AWST

Amazing prizes up for grabs including a set of Bose Wireless Noise Cancelling Over-Ear Headphones 700, clothing, apparel and accessories from organisations that are 100% Indigenous owned, giant microbes and other sexual health resources for your clinic.

Register your team here.
Registrations close COB Thursday 2 December 2021.

Game on!

#atsihaw2021 #TriviaTime #hivawareness #hivawarenessandprevention

New process for job advertising

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

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