NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Have your say on diabetes in Australia

The NACCHO Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health News is platform we use to showcase the important work being done in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health, focusing on the work of NACCHO, NACCHO members and NACCHO affiliates.

We also share a curated selection of news stories that are of likely interest to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health sector, broadly.

Have your say on diabetes in Australia

NACCHO is making a submission to the parliamentary committee inquiry into diabetes in Australia and wants to hear from member services. Across three webinars (Monday 7 August, Tuesday 8 August, and Friday 11 August) NACCHO members are invited to have their say on how they work with local community around diabetes diagnosis, support, and management; Including what works for their communities, and what resources are needed to better support Community.

The inquiry follows a referral on May 24 from the Minister for Health and Aged Care, Mark Butler and is investigating the cause of diabetes in Australia, risk factors, prevention, diagnosis, management, and the effectiveness of current Australian Government policies and programs surrounding the disease.

Written submissions closing on Thursday 31 August.

There are three opportunities to contribute. Registration links are below:

Pat Turner to speak on Closing the Gap at University of Canberra

NACCHO CEO, Pat Turner will speak at the University of Canberra (UC) Thursday August 10 on Closing the Gap, in a series of public lectures on the Voice to Parliament. It comes as UC launches a Virtual Freedom Ride paying tribute to 1965 student activism in the lead up to the 1967 referendum. Ahead of the 2023 referendum the university has created its own Freedom Ride in digital form. Pro Vice-Chancellor of Indigenous Leadership, Professor Maree Meredith said it’s a platform for students and staff to access important information about the Voice to Parliament.

The Virtual Freedom Ride honours the work that was done back in the ‘60s and it was those students that were really critical to build that awareness. This is why we are making sure that the students have a role,” said Professor Meredith.

Professor Meredith said the lectures and the Virtual Freedom Ride would help counter misinformation surrounding the Voice.

“As a civic institution, that’s our role. It’s to promote the debate but with facts and with evidence. That’s the role of universities,” she said.

Find the Virtual Freedom Ride here and the full Canberra Times article here.

The freedom ride bus outside Hotel Boggabilla in 1965. Image source: The Canberra Times.

Calls to ignore scare campaign over 60-day prescribing reforms

NACCHO, CHF, RACGP and the AMA have joined together to call on the Opposition and the Greens to support 60-day scripts to save patients money and time, and free up GPs for other patients. The 60 Day Dispensing reform is due to commence on 1 September, however, a “scare campaign” over the past several months to stop the changes has triggered concerns that the Opposition and The Greens will try to block the reform in the Senate with a disallowance motion.

RACGP President Dr Nicole Higgins said, “I’m calling on Opposition Leader Peter Dutton and The Greens to put Australians first and rule out a disallowance. 60-day dispensing is in patients’ best interests – it will save around 6 million people money and time, and free up GP consults for other patients.”

Health Minister, Mark Butler also urged the Coalition to reconsider its opposition to the introduction of 60-day scripts. The Minister said 30-day scripts makes “no sense for people who are on the same medicine, year in year out, decade in decade out, sometime for the rest of their lives.”

Read NACCHO’s June media release here and the RACGP media release here.

You can also read the Croakey Health Media article in full here.

Ngaanyatjarra Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara youth speak up for each other

Friday 4 August marks National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children’s Day. Ahead of the day to celebrate and stand up for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, a group of young people from Ngaanyatjarra Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (NPYLands met with the National Children’s Commissioner last week to discuss the needs of young people “to keep them out of trouble.”

NPY Women’s Council said the group spoke with the Commissioner about the underlying factors causing young people to “muck up”, which included social media fueling negative stereotypes, racism, negative relationships with law enforcement, and difficult home lives.

Making suggestions on what’s needed to better support the young Community, they discussed the importance of meaningful and purposeful engagement. One young person said, “getting to keep language and culture and learn at school – having both – makes people happy,”

Another talked about the importance of family and culture, “Family can help show us the right way… Nana’s, older cousins, Elders…family is comforting.”

The Children’s Commissioner will be travelling around Australia to talk to young people and will create a report to government.

Read more here.

Image source: NPY Women’s Council.

Making decisions about a child in care

WA’s Department of Communities has created a decision-making guide to support foster and family carers. Who can say OK in WA was developed in consultation with ACCHOs and community service organisations to support decision-making about children in care. It will be a resource for foster and family carers who are frequently presented with everyday decisions that all families make about children and young people. It is designed to make carers feel confident about which decisions they can make, so that childhood experiences for children in care are as normalised as possible.

It includes guidance on identity and culture, helping carers honour, respect, and maintain the child’s birth family’s culture. As well as advice on decisions for household rules and discipline, education, physical and mental health, sexuality and gender diversity.

Learn more here.

Who can say OK in WA resource

Deadly start to providing culturally safe care

A new school-based traineeship program is helping build Townsville University Hospital’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander workforce. The Deadly Start program provides year 11 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students with 12-months workplace experience within the hospital and a Certificate III in Health Service Assistance or Allied Health Assistance. Pimlico High School student Bevan Kepa said the course helped him find a path to a career in healthcare.

“It’s been really helpful because I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to do after school…”

“It’s important for me to go down this path so we can have more Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander representation in the health industry,” he said.

The program comes alongside the University Hospital’s Reconciliation Action Plan, to have greater Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander workplace representation, which reflects the region’s population. Workforce programs co-ordinator, Alisha Kyle said programs like Deadly Start help to improve cultural safety, “by having a workforce that represents our First Nations consumers, we are improving access to healthcare for our mob, and ultimately improving their health outcomes.”

Read more here.

Pimlico High School student Bevan Kepa. Image source: Townsville Bulletin.

Sector Jobs

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: $1.48 Million upgrade for Indigenous Health Training Facility

The image in the feature tile is NSW Premier Chris Minns at AH&MRC Training. Source: AH&MRC.

The NACCHO Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health News is platform we use to showcase the important work being done in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health, focusing on the work of NACCHO, NACCHO members and NACCHO affiliates.

We also share a curated selection of news stories that are of likely interest to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health sector, broadly.

$1.48m upgrade for Indigenous Health Training Facility

To bolster Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander healthcare and support the training of future First Nations health workers, the NSW Government has committed $1.48m to upgrade the training headquarters of the Aboriginal Health and Medical Research Council (AH&MRC) located in Little Bay.

The AH&MRC is the peak body for ACCHOs in NSW, and its training headquarters play a crucial role in equipping the next generation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander healthcare professionals while enhancing the skills of the existing workforce. The facility currently houses lecture rooms, clinical demonstration areas, and training laboratories designed to simulate real-life medical emergencies.

With completion slated for later this year, the planned upgrades will bring the building in line with modern standards and align it with the latest National Construction Code. This renovation will provide an enhanced learning environment for students and ensure that the facility remains a hub for excellence in Indigenous health training.

Chris Minns, the Premier of NSW, expressed his support for the project, stating, “There is really important work happening at this site, and we’re proud to ensure that it continues for years to come.” The government’s investment underscores its commitment to fostering Indigenous health and underscores the recognition of the vital role played by the AH&MRC in promoting culturally appropriate healthcare and training.

For the complete media release from the NSW Government, please click here.

Source: AH&MRC

Why culturally appropriate maternity care matters

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mothers and babies are vastly over-represented in areas of still birth, preterm, perinatal deaths, and infant mortality. Mothers are often faced with no choice but to travel alone to birthing centres scattered across Australia, far away from their Country. Aiming to provide culturally appropriate maternity care, the Birthing on Country Centre of Excellence at Waminda, an Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation in Nowra NSW, is set to be operational in 2025-26.

Dr Yvette Roe, a proud Njikena Jawuru woman and researcher said returning birthing centres to Aboriginal communities will give babies the best start in life. Dr Roe said, “We want to ensure that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander voices are at the forefront of what we do. Aboriginal women want healthy babies.”

To ensure deliveries are both culturally and clinically safe, Dr Roe is calling for contemporary Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander knowledge and practices to be combined with western medicine in Birthing on Country Services.

Leading a study titled Indigenous Birthing in an Urban Setting, Dr Roe and a team of researchers determined that mothers in urban settings faced similar challenges to those in remote communities. The study included a Birthing in Our Community service which followed a cultural safety framework and included an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander workforce. The team saw significant decreases in pre-term birth, epidural pain relief in labour, caesarean sections, third stage labour interventions, neonatal nursery admissions, and unborn notifications.

For the complete National Indigenous Times article click here.

Dr Yvette Roe

Dr Yvette Roe. Source: National Indigenous Times

Voice to Parliament debate taking a toll on mental health

Concerns are being raised by mental health practitioners and organisations focused on social and emotional wellbeing about the detrimental effects of the increasingly negative public debate surrounding the Voice to Parliament, particularly on young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Professor Helen Milroy, a Palyku woman and fellow of the Rural Australian NZ College of Psychiatrists (RANZCP), has highlighted the potential for even a slight increase in vitriol to disproportionately impact the emotional well-being of young individuals. She expressed her concerns, stating, “When there is a barrage of misinformation and people are making exaggerated claims or misrepresenting what the Voice is truly about, it becomes extremely challenging for young people to counter those narratives.”

The spread of hateful rhetoric can quickly erode the self-esteem and sense of empowerment of young Indigenous people. Karlie Stewart, a Yuin woman and social worker, emphasized the significant disconnect between the political discussions surrounding the Voice and the understanding of young Aboriginal individuals in the community. Stewart explained, “…There’s a big element of confusion. All this conversation is happening above and around, but they actually don’t even know what it is that’s going on,” Steward said.

“It’s up to us as older people, who have the knowledge and the capacity and the connections to engage in these conversations, to go back to our young fullas and say, ‘Here’s what it is, here’s what it means, here’s what it might mean for you.”

The impact of the ongoing public debate on the Voice to Parliament has raised serious concerns about the mental well-being of young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. It calls for urgent action to counter the spread of misinformation and provide accurate information to empower and support young individuals in understanding the significance of the Voice and its potential implications for their future.

For the complete WAToday article click here.

Helen Milroy

Fellow of the Rural Australian New Zealand College of Psychiatrists, Professor Helen Milroy. Source: WAToday

Cultural healing sites promote wellbeing and reconciliation in healthcare

During Reconciliation Week, the Berri Barmera Council unveiled a cultural healing site, named Healing Place, near Barmera Hospital. This community space aims to provide a culturally safe place for individuals awaiting medical appointments, undergoing treatment, and visitors who find themselves in anxious circumstances at the hospital.

The opening of Healing Place has sparked a nationwide call for the establishment of additional cultural healing sites across different states and territories. Tyson Lindsay, Cultural Safety Officer, expressed the need for an increase in such spaces, not only in South Australia but throughout the entire nation. The inclusion of cultural healing sites in healthcare facilities has the potential to enhance holistic wellbeing and promote cultural connection and understanding.

In Mount Gambier, healing circles have been constructed at the Pangula Mannamurna Aboriginal Corporation. These circles represent various stages of the healing process. The first circle encourages individuals to openly discuss their problems with respected elders. The second circle emphasizes utilizing the wisdom and knowledge of elders and the community to seek solutions. Finally, the “song and dance” circle enables people to pay homage to the knowledge and stories that have contributed to their healing. South East Elder, Uncle Doug Nicholls said, “It was important people go through the entire healing process”

“We’ve got to make sure once we’ve done the talking that we’re talking to the right people who know the business about what the medicines are, where to go to get the right treatment, and right stories for the value of the health treatment,” Uncle Doug said.

For the complete ABC article, please click here.

Source: ABC South East SA: Sam Bradbrook

Health and alcohol facilities key to decreasing incarceration rates

Amidst the ACT Government’s independent review into the over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Canberra’s criminal justice system, calls for dedicated mental health and drug and alcohol facilities have emerged. The Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health Service CEO, Julie Tongs, expressed scepticism about the review, emphasizing the need for action rather than further discussions.

The Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organization says that the information sought in the review has already been provided to the Territory Government. Tongs stressed the urgency of implementing a preventive model to address the glaring gap in incarceration rates, stating, “It’s very, very frustrating when we see shattered lives every day, lives that could have been prevented in the first place.”

Disturbing statistics reveal that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander individuals now account for 26% of the Canberra prison population, representing the highest incarceration gap in the country. ACT Attorney-General Shane Rattenbury acknowledged that addressing underlying social issues is crucial to reducing the disproportionate rates of Indigenous incarceration.

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community and their advocates stress the importance of moving beyond repetitive discussions and implementing concrete measures to provide support and prevent the cycle of incarceration. By investing in targeted healthcare facilities and addressing systemic issues, governments can take significant steps toward reducing the over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the criminal justice system.

The government said an interim report would be delivered by March 2024, with a final report to be completed late that same year.

For the complete ABC article, please click here.

Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health Service CEO Julie Tongs. Source: ABC News: Greg Nelson.

Sector Jobs

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Protecting mental health in referendum lead up

The image in the feature tile is of Wiradjuri man Stan Grant as he announced he was taking some time out from his high-profile media role. Photo: Getty Images. Image source: article True Reconciliation or just history repeating? published on the University of Melbourne Pursuit webpage on 27 May 2023.

The NACCHO Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health News is platform we use to showcase the important work being done in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health, focusing on the work of NACCHO, NACCHO members and NACCHO affiliates.

We also share a curated selection of news stories that are of likely interest to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health sector, broadly.

Protecting mental health in referendum lead up

Campaign messaging in the 2017 marriage equality plebiscite saw LGBTQIA+ communities experience frequest sex and gender discrimination. It’s beginning to feel like history is repeating itself, with hatred and racism toward Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people being shared publicly amongst Australian citizens amidst the referendum.

Discourse, particularly on social media, surrounding the Voice highlights the prevalence of racism in Australia. Proud Wiradjuri man, Stan Grant, who recently stepped down from his high-profile media role to prioritise his health, urged others to: “Please send that support and care to those of my people, and all people, who feel abandoned and alone, who are wondering whether they have a place in this country and do not have my privileges.”

There’s concern for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who are faced with the current racist abuse dominating conversations across the country, who do not have a support network. The Government has provided extra funding to support mental health during this time, but the mental health system is still in crisis mode following COVID-19. The educational campaign promoting empathy understanding and social inclusivity needs to be intensified and promoted.

To view the Pursuit article True reconciliation or just history repeating? in full click here. You can also read a related article We need to learn from our mistakes in the Marriage Equality Voice and Support First Nations Peoples during the Voice debates published in Lifehacker Australia here.

The same-sex marriage Yes vote provided the LGBTQIA+ community with a feeling of being accepted and supported, protecting against poor mental health. Photo: Wikimedia. Image source: The University of Melbourne Pursuit webpage.

NACCHO Sexual Health Update webinar

Please join the NACCHO Communicable Diseases Team for an update on sexual health during the NACCHO Sexual Health Update webinar.

This webinar will include:

  • Review of the Kirby Surveillance Report
  • Changes to ASHM testing guidelines
  • Training/workshop needs in ACCHOs
  • Discussion and question time

WHEN: Wednesday 31 May 2023, 11:00 AM – 12:00 PM (AEST)

We look forward to having you attend the event!

To join the on-line webinar click here.

tile re NACCHO Communicable Diseases Team update on sexual health webinar

Aboriginal peacemakers discuss conflict resolution

Fifty “peacemakers” from remote communities across the NT have met in Katherine to discuss ways to resolve disputes without using violence. The program, run by the North Australian Aboriginal Justice Agency (NAAJA), brought community leaders together last week from Yuendumu, Galiwin’ku, Wurrumiyanga, Lajamanu, Groote Eylandt and Yirrkala. Peacemaker Danny Garrawurra, from the remote community of Galiwin’ku, said he worked with service providers to resolve disputes while maintaining his Yolngu cultural obligations. “We are facing those problems within family to family, and it really is a struggle for us,” he said.

Data from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) showed the rates of hospitalisations of Indigenous Territorians due to assault were the highest in Australia, particularly in disadvantaged remote areas. Last week, a young man from Wadeye was sentenced to prison for his involvement in a violent riot that left a man dead.

NAAJA’s principal legal officer Nick Espie said local mediators required more support and resourcing to prevent family and domestic disputes from escalating. “There are a lot of people here that have worked very hard in this role that often takes a personal toll,” he said. “They’ve done this unnoticed, and often without funding and without being paid.”

To view the ABC News article Aboriginal peacemakers meet to discuss conflict resolution in remote NT communities in full click here.

Aboriginal peacemaker Danny Garrawurra from Galiwin'ku green shirt standing against tree

Peacemaker Danny Garrawurra from remote community of Galiwin’ku. Photo: Samantha Dick. Image source: ABC News.

ACCHO hosts family violence forum

Domestic and family violence is disturbingly common in the Orana region, with 2,860 incidents recorded by NSW Police between 2021 and 2022. The real number though is much higher as many victims will never report their experiences, and this is something that needs to change. To help foster this, the Wellington Aboriginal Corporation Health Services (WACHS) hosted a domestic violence forum called ‘Let’s Make Change’ last week on Thursday, 25 May 2023.

One of the guest speakers at the event was notorious bank robber turned Indigenous leader and lifestyle coach Jeff Morgan, who after experiencing homelessness and spending more than 18 years in maximum security prison turned his life around by embracing important lessons from his crimes and accepting accountability and changing his mindset. Experiencing abuse as a young man and growing up in Redfern, Sydney, Mr Morgan has seen the impact of domestic violence both personally and within communities.

He now travels the country delivering well-being and mindset programs, believing that if things are going to change with domestic violence there is a genuine need for role modelling and facilitating honest conversations. Mr Morgan said he wanted the Wellington domestic violence forum to be a place where residents could sit with a “taboo” topic and have “courageous” conversations so they could learn new skills, ideas, tips, or tools to change their outlook on domestic violence.

“You plant the seeds, and you nurture it and all of a sudden you’re creating more leaders and you’re building on resilience throughout the community,” he said. Mr Morgan said forums like this were important not only for the adults but to educate the next generation. “Everything is around your habits, and I know after 18 years in jail as a bank robber, my habits were about survival initially and that evolved into a life of crime,” he said. “Then that one courageous conversation helped me tap into a different version of myself and one I couldn’t see before. Mr Morgan urges people to go to events and forums like this one to listen and learn as much as you can.

The above has been taken from an article Wellington Aboriginal Corporation Health Services hosts domestic violence forum published in the Daily Liberal yesterday, 29 May 2023.

Lewis Bird, Leteisha Peckham, Ursula Honeysett, Jay Forrester, and Jeffrey Morgan standing in front of sign 'Domestic Violence Forum - End the Silence' Wellington Aboriginal Corporation Health Service logo

Lewis Bird, Leteisha Peckham, Ursula Honeysett, Jay Forrester, and Jeffrey Morgan. Photo: Belinda Soole. Image source: Daily Liberal.

New culturally appropriate PCOS resource

A prominent women’s health organisation says there is an “unmet need” for culturally appropriate information around Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) in remote Central Australian communities. PCOS is a condition caused by a hormone imbalance which results in painful or irregular periods, excessive facial or body hair, weight gain, challenges with fertility and in many cases insulin resistance.

Jean Hailes CEO Sarah White said while PCOS generally impacted one in 10 women, among Indigenous women that rate was as high as one in six. She said this was compounded by research showing Indigenous women were more likely to forego general health appointments or not engage with their GP around the issue. “There’s been a lot of research which says Aboriginal women feel like they face more barriers in terms of seeing a doctor or being heard by a health professional,” she said.

Working alongside Alukura Women’s Health Service on behalf of the Central Australian Aboriginal Congress, a team from Jean Hailes has been engaging with Arrernte communities around Alice Springs to produce culturally sensitive resources around PCOS. She said they found information around PCOS and periods in general were missing in ways communities could relate to or understand, or were culturally appropriate.

“For Aboriginal women it was very much understanding the language they used to describe symptoms, the resources are also badged very clearly as being women only because these are issues that are only acceptable to discuss in front of other women and not with men,” she said. Released in late 2022, the resources are now in their third print run in less than six months.

She said the organisation was receiving orders from “all over Australia” including Queensland and Victoria, with the resource opening up conversations nationally. “I think uptake from around Australia demonstrates there is very much an unmet need in terms of having resources that are culturally appropriate,” she said. “A lot of women think that periods should just be painful, we rarely talk about women’s health issues, one of things we can do with these resources now is bring these issues into the open.”

To above was extracted from an article New resource tackles ‘unmet need’ for culturally appropriate information on PCOS published in The Chronical on Saturday 27 May 2023.

cartoon drawing of ATSI woman with acne looking in the mirror

An illustration featured in the resources, which Ms White says is helping more women discuss PCOS and women’s health in general. Picture: Illustration by Coolamon Creative 2022. Image source: The Chronicle.

Sector Jobs

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

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

Key Date – Reconciliation Week 27 May – 3 June 2023

National Reconciliation Week (NRW) is a time for all Australians to learn about our shared histories, cultures, and achievements, and to explore how each of us can contribute to achieving reconciliation in Australia. The dates for NRW remain the same each year; 27 May to 3 June. These dates commemorate two significant milestones in the reconciliation journey— the successful 1967 referendum, and the High Court Mabo decision respectively.

The theme for National Reconciliation Week 2023, Be a Voice for Generations, encourages all Australians to be a voice for reconciliation in tangible ways in our everyday lives – where we live, work and socialise, and urges all Australians to use their power, their words and their actions to create a better, more just Australia for all of us.

For the work of generations past, and the benefit of generations future, let’s choose to create a more just, equitable and reconciled country for all. Reconciliation Australia’s research shows large community support for the next steps in Australia’s reconciliation journey, including the Voice to Parliament, treaty making and truth-telling.

You can learn more about the history of NRW here and read more about what Reconciliation Australia CEO Karen Mundine has to say about the NRW 2023 theme here.

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: ACCHOs to deliver Integrated Team Care Program

The image in the feature tile is from the Nhulundu Health Service (Gladstone, QLD) Integrated Team Care  webpage.

ACCHOs to deliver Integrated Team Care Program

Aboriginal Medical Services (AMSs) in Western NSW will reap new funding from a revised program which aims to improve health outcomes for Indigenous patients with chronic illnesses, while also increasing capabilities of the services themselves.

CEO of Western NSW Primary Health Network (WNSW PHN), Andrew Coe, has announced the Integrated Team Care Program will be delivered by AMSs in the region from January 1, 2023.

“We are very excited that the revised Integrated Team Care Program is giving us the opportunity to support the enhancement of capacity and capability in our region’s AMSs and deliver even better health outcomes for Indigenous people living with chronic disease in Western NSW,” Mr Coe said.

WNSW PHN’s decision and new funding from the Integrated Team Care Program was welcomed by CEO of Coonamble, Dubbo and Gilgandra AMSs, Phil Naden. “I’m looking forward to a strengthened approach in working with WNSW PHN and I’m keen to commence the project in our locations to service Aboriginal clients in the region,” Mr Naden said.

The revised program was a “powerful opportunity” for service providers and people in their care, according to chief executive officer of Orange AMS, Jamie Newman. “Our organisation is very excited by the ‘place based’ approach by WNSW PHN for the Integrated Team Care Program and the disbursement of funds to each AMS in the region,” Mr Newman said.

“We are ultimately responsible for the care and treatment of our clients in Orange and to have the authority to make a decision on additional support for our clients who meet the Integrated Team Care criteria is welcomed and supported by our team”.

Walgett AMS (WAMS) CEO Christine Corby and chief operations manager for WAMS and Brewarrina AMS (BAMS), Katrina Ward, said the revised program was “guaranteed” to help local people wanting care.

To view the Daily Liberal article Western NSW Primary Health Network announces Integrated Care program funding will boost Aboriginal Medical Services in full click here.

Moorditj Koort Aboriginal Corporation (MKAC) ITCP staff. Image source: MKAC website.

COVID isolation rule change ‘too early’

The NT’s peak Aboriginal health body has criticised national cabinet’s decision to scrap mandatory COVID isolation rules. From October 14, COVID-positive people will no longer be required  to isolate for five days at home.

John Paterson, CEO of the Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance NT (AMSANT), said it was “too early” to let COVID-positive people freely move about the community and potentially spread the virus. “We’ve had more Aboriginal deaths in the Northern Territory from COVID than non-Aboriginal people,” he told ABC Radio Darwin. “We have to ensure that we keep the most at-risk population safe and prevent this very serious virus from entering into our vulnerable communities.”

To view the ABC News article AMSANT boss John Paterson says COVID isolation rule change is ‘too early’ for ‘vulnerable’ Aboriginal communities in full click here.

A related LADbible article Expert warns it’s too early to ditch Covid-19 isolation rules due to vulnerable Indigenous communities can be read here.

AMSANT CEO John Paterson. Image source: ABC News.

AMA rejects NSW pharmacist trial

The Australian Medical Association (AMA) has urged the NSW State Government to abandon any consideration of a trial that would allow pharmacists to prescribe antibiotics for urinary tract infections (UTIs), saying it will lead to poorer outcomes for patients. AMA Federal President Professor Steve Robson said  “There are critical issues facing general practice with years of underfunding pushing significant numbers of GPs to retire earlier, while fewer doctors are choosing general practice as a speciality.”

“Governments need to come to the table with viable solutions to support general practice and build collaborative models of care — not changes that completely undervalue the quality of care that is provided through general practice and fragment patient care. This dangerous experiment signals a lack of respect for general practice and the years of training, experience, and knowledge required to properly diagnose and treat a medical condition. If implemented in NSW, it will have dire consequences for the future of the workforce.”

Professor Robson said the trial was bad for general practice and there was also little prospect that it would alleviate pressure on our public hospitals.

To view the AMA media release Pharmacist prescribing a dangerous proposition which won’t fix workforce issue in full click here.

Image source: Hospital and Healthcare website.

Improving maternity services for mob

More than 250 representatives from First Nations communities, health services, universities and research institutes, will join together in Mparntwe (Alice Springs) to explore the scope for system-wide reform to secure the ‘best start to life’ for First Nations babies and their families. The 2022 Best Start to Life Conference: a national gathering in Mparntwe is being co-hosted by Molly Wardagugu Research Centre, Charles Darwin University (CDU) and Central Australian Aboriginal Congress (CAAC) to improve maternity services for First Nations communities and, ultimately, reduce maternal health inequities in the Northern Territory.

To view the joint CAAC and CDU media release Maternity services redesigned for First Nations women in full click here.

Photo: Bobbi Lockyer. Image source: ABC News.

Involuntary treatment could cause harm

Clinicians in charge of admitting people to involuntary drug and alcohol treatment are concerned about potentially re-traumatising Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the process, according to Australian research. The team conducted in-depth interviews with 11 clinicians, 6 of whom had committed a First Nations person to one of two facilities in NSW.

The researchers say while nine of the 11 participants say ethnicity does not influence the decision to refer someone to involuntary care, 10 of 11 said they were worried the process could be culturally unsafe. Taking people off their country and removing them from their families were major concerns, the researchers say. Greater involvement of Aboriginal healthcare services and care that approaches physical health, mental health and addiction at the same time were proposed as potential ways to improve the system.

To view the SCIMEX article Clinicians worry admitting First Nations people to involuntary drug and alcohol treatment could cause harm in full click here.

Image source: Dreamstime website.

Access to vital blood tests in remote health

A newly funded Flinders University project is looking to improve access to full blood examination tests for rural and remote healthcare patients, improving patient outcomes and reducing health costs, while ensuring equitable health access for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. Despite being the most requested lab pathology test in Australia, full blood examination tests are not reliably accessible in rural and remote communities, leading to delayed diagnosis and treatment.

The study will trial a newly available point-of-care testing (POCT) device which provides full blood examination results in less than 10 minutes, a significant improvement from the current laboratory test turn-around times of around 3 to 7 days in remote communities. Project Chief Investigator Dr Brooke Spaeth, Research Fellow and Coordinator of Flinders University’s NT POCT Program, says the availability of the test is especially important for time-critical clinical conditions, such as sepsis, where early and accurate diagnosis can significantly improve patient outcomes and has the potential to save lives.

“The rapid results of the point-of-care full blood examination test is likely to improve the diagnosis detection of sepsis, which disproportionately effects Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, particularly in remote communities of the NT, therefore reducing sepsis related morbidity and mortality,” says Dr Spaeth.

To view the Flinders University media release Ensuring access to vital blood tests in remote health care in full click here.

Image source: Well in Truth website.

Youth offender laws to be reviewed

After years of crises in WA’s youth justice system the State Government announced on Tuesday it will undertake a review of youth offender laws. Corrective Services Minister Bill Johnston has directed the Department of Justice to examine the extent to which the Young Offenders Act 1994 is achieving its objectives.

Banksia Hill, WA’s only dedicated youth detention facility, has been the scene of multiple serious disturbances including riots in 2013 and 2017. Aboriginal children are radically over-represented in the youth justice system and particularly in youth detention. Recent data shows Indigenous young people are 21 times as likely as non-Indigenous youth to be incarcerated in WA.

This month the Aboriginal Legal Service of WA told the Royal Commission they had received hundreds of complaints about conditions in Banksia Hill, including allegations of excessive physical violence, strip searches, sexual assaults, use of solitary confinement, and racism.

Indigenous and international human rights law expert Hannah McGlade said the review was welcome but there was also a need for urgent reform. “A youth justice task force needs to be urgently established to address the crisis. There are serious concerns Aboriginal children and youth are at high risk of self-harm including suicide. We are calling on the government to support and ensure Aboriginal children (in the justice system) have culturally appropriate health care from Derbarl Yerrigan Health Service.”

To view the National Indigenous Times article WA Government to review crisis-plagued youth offender laws in full click here.

Photo: Danella Bevis. Image source: The West Australian.

Sector Jobs

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Mob left out of record low unemployment

Mob left out of record low unemployment

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

But NESA principal policy advisor Annette Gill said the real numbers were much higher. “They focus so narrowly on the official unemployment rate to talk about how well our labour market is doing,” she said. “And that’s a choice the politicians have, basically. It’s not something many Australians actually understand. (The employment) rate among Indigenous Australians is considerably lower than it is for the rest of the population.”

NESA senior policy advisor Alicia Weiderman said many First Nations people had historically been excluded from statistical analysis such as employment figures. “What we still know, though, at the high level on the data, as it is reported, is that historically Aboriginal Torres Strait Islander peoples unemployment rates have sat fairly consistently at three times that of their non Indigenous counterparts,” she said.

To view the National Indigenous Times article Industry peak body calls out Indigenous exclusion in latest unemployment rates in full click here.

Mawarnkarra CEO’s 30+ years of service

Mawarnkarra Health Service CEO and local Roebourne woman Joan Hicks is a familiar face and much respected community leader in our community. She started as a trainee health worker in 1990 when concern for the health of a family member took Joan to the old clinic on Crawford Way to talk to the registered nurse who encouraged her to apply for the role. Joan has been part of Mawarnkarra Health Service for 32 years. Joan worked as a health worker in the old Aboriginal Corporation from 1990–2000, before joining the MHS Board in 2000 and eventually becoming the chair of the board and, later, the CEO.

Joan has watched MHS grow from a small clinic with one registered nurse, a part time doctor from Wickham Hospital and admin staff to what it is today. Over time Joan says she developed a passion for Aboriginal health and could see the importance of Mawarnkarra and the great service and work that is done through the organisation.

Joan is a Ngarluma woman with family connections to Yindjibarndi and is very proud of the Mawarnkarra Health Service and what it stands for. “I enjoy being part of a fantastic team of 60-plus staff,” Joan said. “I also have a great board of directors, most of whom have been on this awesome journey with me,” Joan added.

You can access the story on the Mawarnkarra Health Service Facebook page here.

Mawarnkarra Health Service (MHS) CEO Joan Hicks, Image source: MHS Facebook page.

Lung health for children training

Lung Foundation Australia recently released two new accredited eLearning modules about chronic wet cough called Lung Health in First Nations Children. Chronic respiratory disease is highly prevalent amongst First Nations children. Disease progression can be halted and even reversed when diagnosed and treated early.

The free training provides a supportive tool for health professionals to improving lung health outcomes. Topics include:

  • Fundamentals of providing culturally secure care to First Nations families
  • Respiratory diseases prevalent in First Nations children and
  • Appropriate ways of diagnosing and managing lung conditions.

These modules, developed in collaboration with Telethon Kids Institute and the Western Australian Health Translation Network, have been designed to be culturally appropriate and provide the opportunity to learn ways of providing culturally secure care.

The online training is free and accredited with RACGP and ACRRM. Each module is worth 2 CPD points and will take approximately one hour to complete. You can find out more about the eLearning modules and enrol here.

Eliminating Hep C as public health concern

NSW Health has today released a comprehensive plan to eliminate hepatitis C as a public health concern by 2028 with the NSW Hepatitis C Strategy 2022 – 2025. Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant said the new strategy is centred on prevention, testing, treatment and addressing stigma and discrimination associated with the disease. “The strategy aims to reduce hepatitis C infections by 60% decrease the number of deaths linked to hepatitis C, remove the stigma linked to the virus and increase testing and treatment,” Dr Chant said.

The NSW Hepatitis C Strategy 2022-2025 highlights priority groups who are disproportionately affected by hepatitis C for improved health outcomes. Hepatitis C disproportionately affects Aboriginal people in NSW. In 2019, the notification rate for hepatitis C was 11 times higher in Aboriginal people compared with the rest of the population. Building on partnerships already in place with Aboriginal communities, the strategy aims to bolster education, improve access to harm reduction services and support increased access to testing and treatment in Aboriginal Health Services.

To view the NSW Health webpage Towards the elimination of hepatitis C as a public health concern in full click here and the NSW Hepatitis C Strategy 2022–2025 here.

Image source: NAM aidsmap.

‘Impending and significant’ health crisis

Australians think the healthcare system is getting worse, as they grapple with long emergency department wait times, and being able to afford and access essential services. The country’s healthcare rating dropped from 7.8 out of 10 in March last year, to 7.2 in June this year, the Australian Healthcare Index survey shows. The findings indicate an “impending and significant” health crisis, Healthengine chief executive Marcus Tan said.

“The overall trend is heading in the wrong direction suggesting that the Australian healthcare system is under stress, likely leading to worse experiences and outcomes,” Dr Tan said. Nearly one in four survey respondents said their mental health declined in the past six months and almost 60% of people still seeking treatment had been waiting more than three months. Separate research showed one in three psychologists were unable to see new clients post-pandemic, whereas the figure was one in 100 beforehand.

Nearly 40% of respondents to the healthcare index survey who had visited a public hospital emergency department in the past six months were dissatisfied with their experience and one in four survey respondents said prescription medication was unaffordable.

To read the SBS News article Australia experiencing an ‘impending and significant’ health crisis, survey finds in full click here.

Photo: David Mariuz, AAP. Image source: SBS News website.

ACCHO CEO calls out cherry-picked data

Winnunga CEO Julie Tongs has called out the ACT government for “rely[ing] on ABS data for internal purposes but point[ing] to a much narrower set of data for public purposes. Ms Tongs said that because of the yawning difference between the ACT Aboriginal recidivism rate published by the ACT government at the end of 2020 (over 90 %), which was recently confirmed by the ABS, and the 40% rate recently claimed by acting commissioner for corrections Ray Johnson on ABC radio, she wrote to ACT Corrective Services seeking clarification on the issue.

In response the Directorate advised that “The ACT had 38.5% of detainees (released in 2018-19) returning to prison (within two years from their release) against 45.2% nationally. The return rate for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander detainees was 44% compared to 56.8 per cent nationwide.”

Ms Tongs said that in this case the ACT government relies on data that relates only to detainees who were re-imprisoned within two years of release and completely ignores the rest. If the information is based on the latest ABS data on recidivism rates of all detainees and not just those re-imprisoned within two years of release it tells a very different story.

To read the CBR CityNews article Lies, damned lies and ACT government statistics in full click here.

Image source: The Canberra Tims.

Connection to Country on campus

A visionary long-term project will embed Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander design values on University of Queensland campuses, reshaping them over time to better recognise and celebrate Indigenous connections. UQ Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Indigenous Engagement, Professor Bronwyn Fredericks, , said the framework was a tremendous achievement, and an important step in UQ’s reconciliation journey. “The University of Queensland is proud to be part of what is a new and emerging space for the higher education sector, that is re-shaping its learning, teaching, research and engagement environments,” Professor Fredericks said.

“UQ is among only a handful of Australian universities engaging with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Design Principles for its physical and built environments. Our Design Principles Framework aims to ensure safe and welcoming spaces for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, along with offering all people a greater connection to what it means to visit, study or work within a great Australian university. This is important legacy work which adds to UQ’s master plan and contributes to shaping the way our campuses and premises will look and feel for generations to come.”

To read the University of Queensland UQ News article Creating connection to Country and Indigenous cultures on campus in full click here and to access the Campuses on Countries Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Design Framework at The University of Queensland click here.

Winnunga News – June 2022 edition

The Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health and Community Services’ Winnunga News June 2022 edition has just been released. In her update CEO Julie Tongs OAM refers to the enormous and continuous strain the COVID-19 pandemic and increasing cases of influenza, have placed on staff and the operations at Winnunga as well as the Aboriginal community and Winnunga clients.

Articles in the newsletter cover:

  • a visit to Winnunga by the Narrabundah Early Childhood School
  • a review of the ACT Government’s plan to reform out of home care and child protection in the ACT
  • the Uluru Statement From the Heart
  • the eviction of 340 long term ACT public housing tenants
  • the importance of not just moving on after Reconciliation Day
  • the need for government leadership in relation to traditional custodianship
  • what has gone wrong at the Alexander Maconochie Centre
  • a Canberra artist’s portrait of Aunty Matilda House
  • a COVID-19 and influenza update

You can access the Winnunga News June 2022 edition click here.

New process for job advertising

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Rural and regional health system is broken

Image in feature tile from Bulgarr Ngaru Medical Aboriginal Corporation, NSW website.

Rural and regional health system is broken

Dr Rob Phair, GP in Bairnsdale Victoria, and President of the Rural Doctor’s Association of Victoria. Dr Robin Williams, GP in Molong NSW, and Chair of the Western NSW Primary Health Network and Dr Gabreille O’Kane, CEO of the Rural Health Alliance were guests this morning on an episode of ABC Radio National Life Matters hosted by Michael Mackenzie discussing the question ‘Is the medical system in rural and regional Australia still fit for purpose?’

Rural doctors say the death, earlier this month, of a 72-year-old man in Bairnsdale, eastern Victoria, died in an emergency room bathroom after waiting more than three hours for treatment is the latest example of a broken medical system, which, they argue, needs a radical restructure to meet the changing needs of the times.

Dr O’Kane said the ACCHO model of care is appealing to the rural health sector and is proposing a community-led model of care employing a range of healthcare professionals, from GPs and psychologist to nurses and physiotherapists, similar to ACCHOs.

You can listen to the Life Matters interview in full here.

Photo: Ian Waldie, Getty Images. Image source: ABC News RN Life Matters webpage.

Health sector needs ‘whole-of-workforce’ strategy

The Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association (AHHA) is urging all political parties to recognise the importance of our workforce in establishing a health system that can deliver the care Australians deserve. ‘Matching and forecasting the needs, demands and supply of the health workforce is complex in any context,’ says AHHA Acting Chief Executive Kylie Woolcock. ‘However, ahead of the upcoming Federal Election, urgent action is needed to address workforce issues in Australia’s heath system if it is to continue to provide vital services to the community.’

To view the AHHA media release Whole-of-workforce strategy needed to deliver healthcare that Australians deserve in full click here.

RHD not purely due to remoteness

Lynette Bullio’s son Jalil was just seven years old when he found out he would need painful injections each month until at least his 21st birthday. The Cairns boy was limping around but he and his mother thought it was because he had tripped over at school. When, by the end of the week, Jalil couldn’t even manage a short walk from his mother’s car to the school gate, Ms Bullio knew it was something more serious. Jalil, now 11, was diagnosed with rheumatic heart disease(RHD).

He is one of thousands of mostly Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people across northern Australia with the condition that was largely eradicated in Australia’s urban non-Indigenous population about 60 years ago. “It still is traumatic, I think, when I talk about it and realise how huge this disease is,” Ms Bullio said. “I start getting a lump in my throat.”

Ben Reeves, a paediatric cardiologist at Cairns Hospital, said while the disease was often associated with isolated communities he still saw new cases of rheumatic fever in Cairns children every week. “This is not purely due to remoteness,” Dr Reeves said. “It’s a lack of access to appropriate facilities and it’s a lack of awareness among the community and some health staff and we’re trying very hard to turn this around.”

You can access the ABC Far North News article Rheumatic heart disease strategy launched in Queensland as more people get sick in large centres in full here.

Image source: newsGP.

Major Parties ‘Nowhere on Health’

The AMA is disappointed the federal election campaign is half-way through and ‘nowhere on health’, while calls for politicians to address health policy are getting louder in the community. State Premiers, Health Ministers and State Treasurers have written to Prime Minister Scott Morrison and the Federal Health Minister previously to ask for a 50-50 split on hospital funding, and to remove the annual cap on activity, in order to deal with the backlog of care in the community following COVID-19 lockdowns.

“State and Territory Ministers, and even Premiers, have stated their clear, unequivocal support for a 50-50 agreement that removes the cap on funding growth – this is not something an incoming government is going to be able to ignore. So instead, political parties should be outlining how they will fix our hospital system, should they win government,” AMA President Dr Omar Khorshid said.

To view the AMA’s media release Halfway to Nowhere on Health, AMA says future PM and Government can’t hide from urgent need for new hospital agreement in full click here.

Fears NT bill will open booze floodgates

Three Indigenous bodies are calling on the NT government to immediately shelve legislation which could allow take-away alcohol into more than 430 communities from mid-July this year. The Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance of the NT (AMSANT), the Northern Australia Aboriginal Justice Agency and Aboriginal Housing NT have proposed the bill be dismissed.

Under the 2007 Federal Intervention, these communities in NT became Alcohol Protected Areas, which continued under the Stronger Futures legislation. AMSANT CEO John Patterson said consultations for the proposed change have not begun. “There has been no proper consultation, and there simply cannot be any in the short time available,” he said. “Aboriginal health organisations and peak bodies did not know about the Bill. This Government has introduced many excellent alcohol reforms, and this sudden and puzzling change is a backward step that has not been explained properly to anyone. Why not move to an opt-out system instead which would ensure all communities make an active decision about what they want to do rather than simply have the current protections taken away.”

North Australian Aboriginal Justice Agency executive officer Priscilla Atkins said the mixture of dry and unrestricted communities would be impossible to monitor. “The biggest issue we’ve got is a lot of criminal matters that come before the court are alcohol related,” she said. “You’re going to have alcohol coming into the remote communities there’ll be more violence, more pressure on the courts, more pressure on the police…and it’s disappointing that we’re talking about this now and the legislation expires on the 30th of June.

You can view the National Indigenous Times article Fears NT Govt bill will open booze floodgates in dry communities in full here.

Photo Tim Wimborne, Reuters. Image source: The Guardian.

Agent Orange poisoned WA mob

Premiering from June onwards on both NITV and SBS online platforms, a documentary On Australian Shores, produced and directed by Ngikalikarra Media, will tell the harrowing story of a large number of Aboriginal men and their families, who were knowingly and unwittingly poisoned by government in order to enhance the profits of the agricultural industry. The story of the wanton neglect of the WA Agricultural Protection Board (APB) via a series of interviews with survivors, their family members that have outlived them, and current generations still affected by Agent Orange poisoning.

Sydney Criminal Lawyers has spoken to Ngikalikarra Media co-producer, director and editor Dr Magali McDuffie about how despite numerous inquiries and reports the overwhelming majority of victims remain uncompensated, while the WA government continues to deny any of it ever happened.

You can read the article WA Poisoned First Nations With Agent Orange: An Interview With Ngikalikarra’s Dr Magali McDuffie in full on the Sydney Criminal Lawyers website here.

One of the APB work crews employed to unknowingly spray Agent Orange around the Kimberley. Image source: Sydney Criminal Lawyers website.

NDIS access in the Kimberley region

An article Equity in Access: A Mixed Methods Exploration of the National Disability Insurance Scheme Access Program for the Kimberley Region, WA has been published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. The article describes a study exploring the process and early outcomes of work undertaken by a program to increase Aboriginal people’s awareness of, and access to, the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).

The Access Program was reported as successful by staff in its aim of connecting eligible people with the NDIS. Vital to this success was program implementation by the Aboriginal Community Controlled Sector. Staff in these organisations held community trust, provided culturally appropriate services, and utilised strengths-based approaches to overcome barriers that have historically hindered Aboriginal people’s engagement with disability services. The results of the study demonstrate the Access Program is a successful start in increasing awareness of, and access to, the NDIS for Aboriginal people in the Kimberley region, however much work remains to assist the large number of Aboriginal people in the Kimberley region believed to be eligible for NDIS support who are yet to achieve access.

To view the article in full click here.

New process for job advertising

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

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

Get ready for Heart Week

One Australian is having a heart attack or stroke every 4 minutes.

This Heart Week from Monday 2 -–Sunday 8 May 2022, presents an opportunity to raise awareness about the importance of heart health and for GPs, nurses and general practice staff to deliver Heart Health Checks for more at-risk Australians. It is an opportunity for health professionals and the Australian public to start a conversation about heart health and take steps to reduce their risk of heart disease. General practice teams and health professionals have a pivotal role in the prevention of cardiovascular disease (CVD) and have the power to change the one every 4 minute statistic by focusing on simple, routine practices that have a measurable lifesaving impact.

For more information about Heart Week 2022 click here.

Image source: Heart Foundation website.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Experts on closing the gap in health equity

feature tile text 'Expert panel discusses ways of CTG in health equity' & blurred image of health prof hand holding A boriginal hand

Image in feature tile from The George Institute for Global Health.

Experts on closing the gap in health equity

Universal healthcare is built on the principle that every Australian should have equal access to quality healthcare based on medical need, not the size of their wallets, their postcode or their ethnicity. However, it’s estimated that 80% of health outcomes are affected by social, economic, and environmental factors.

Professionals in the medical and healthcare sector have exclusively shared their views on the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on health equity in Australia. The panel interview covered issues of access, affordability, data, and the collaboration required to close the growing gap.

Although the issue of health equity has existed long before the emergence of COVID-19, the pandemic brought mainstream attention to the problem, amplifying the profound impact that social, economic and environmental factors can have on our health and wellbeing.

One of the panelists, Karl Briscoe, CEO of the National Association of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workers and Practitioners, says the pandemic has brought the systemic racism and inequality that exists within our country back into the spotlight.

“Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders have been raising the issue of health and equity, and the need for holistic joined-up approaches to address the social, cultural and environmental determinants of health and wellbeing for many, many decades.”

To view the Medical Director article in full click here and to access the panel interview and transcript click here.

diagram showing 3 vector images running around a race track; first image they all start from the same line - equality; second image they start from different start points - equity

Image source: CQU Australia website, Centre for Indigenous Health Equity Research page.

Two outback NT clinics in dire situation

The chief executives of two outback Central Australian clinics say they are in an “absolutely dire” situation as the neighbouring Indigenous communities battle COVID-19 outbreaks with dwindling supplies, skeleton staff, flooded roadways — and no phone service.

Utopia and Ampilatwatja, 350 kms north-east of Alice Springs, have been without road access and a reliable landline or mobile phone service for more than a week following heavy rain. Both communities are managing their first coronavirus outbreaks.

Ampilatwatja Health Centre CEO Riek Luak said the clinic’s job had become “extremely difficult” because of flooded roadways, poor telecommunications and an unusable, flooded air strip.

To read the ABC News article in full click here.

A Urapuntja clinic vehicle became bogged while trying to access patients

A Urapuntja clinic vehicle became bogged while trying to access patients. Image source: ABC News website.

Tackling COVID-19 misinformation

The Korin Gamadji Institute, Richmond Football Club’s centre for Indigenous youth, is receiving $80,000 from the Federal Government to help address vaccine hesitancy and ensure factual COVID-19 information reaches Victoria and Tasmania’s young people. Minister for Indigenous Australians, the Hon Ken Wyatt AM, MP, said the digital education campaign will engage reliable sources to share evidence-based information and will run until 30 June 2022.

“With the support of the Morrison Government, the Korin Gamadji Institute is stepping up and developing a range of creative messages across various social media platforms to engage and educate young people about the safety and effectiveness of available vaccines.”

To view Minister Wyatt’s media release in full click here.

word 'misinformation' in black font, vector covid-19 virus wrapped around first 3 letters: m, i, s

Image source: The Atlantic.

The Federal Government is also providing $55,000 to Indigenous radio station, 3KND “Kool N Deadly”, to support the development and broadcast of reliable COVID-19 information through to June 2022. Minister Wyatt said the funding will help dispel myths and encourage greater vaccination uptake. “3KND is a stalwart in the Victorian Indigenous community, and with their audience reach, we can combat vaccination hesitancy and misinformation in a culturally safe way,” Minister Wyatt said.

To view Minister Wyatt and Senator Hume’s joint media release in full click here.

Vic 3KND radio station GM Gerry Lyons in studio

Indigenous man from Aotearoa and 3KND General Manager Gerry “G-Man” Lyons . Image source: Community Matters Radio website.

Future-proofing our medical workforce

What number, skills and distribution of doctors are needed in Australia? How can health systems give doctors flexibility to have lives as well as work, and how can more Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander doctors be encouraged into medical careers?

An approach to answering these questions has been agreed to by Australian health ministers, and has now been launched as the National Medical Workforce Strategy. The Strategy sets out how organisations that impact on the medical workforce will work together to provide Australians with access to medical services.

Actions will incorporate three overarching themes, including: improving the health care of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians by growing the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander medical workforce, by working to provide more culturally safe environments for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander medical practitioners and patients.

To view the Insight+ article in full click here.

KAMS students in class learning child-health checks

KAMS students in class learning child-health checks. Photo: KAMS. Image source: NIT.

New CDU audiology course

A new Master of Clinical Audiology course is rolling out at Charles Darwin University (CDU) this year to train much-needed audiologists focused on improving Australian First Nations hearing health.

The two-year postgraduate degree at CDU will equip the learner with the essential knowledge and skills to become a qualified audiologist in Australia. The NT has the highest percentage of hearing loss and ear health issues in Australia.

To view the CDU media release in full click here.

rear view of audiologist checking Aboriginal child's ears, image on computer screen

Image source: Remote Area Health Corps.

East Kimberley celebrates PwD

In the same week the nation celebrated wheelchair tennis champion Dylan Alcott being named Australian of the Year, the East Kimberley held its own party to celebrate its community of people living with disability.

Dozens of people gathered at the Kununurra Leisure Centre on Friday for the region’s first International Day of People with Disability event, which aims to challenge the way people think about disability and help grow a more inclusive Australia.

Ord Valley Aboriginal Health Service (OVAS) support coordinator Tobi Macnamara said the event was building on the region’s growing efforts to provide a more inclusive community, with more consideration for the almost 200 people living with a disability.

While International Day of People with Disability is celebrated on 3 December each year, Kununurra service providers joined to put on their own event on Thursday 28 January after receiving a $1,000 grant to mark the occasion.

To view The West Australian article in full click here.

Ivy, 3, Robyn, & Tarna Waters, 3, at Kununurra’s International Day of People with Disability event

Ivy, 3, Robyn, and Tarna Waters, 3, at Kununurra’s International Day of People with Disability event. Photo: Stephanie Sinclair, The Kimberley Echo.

Dubbo’s first MD student intake

24 ATSI med students standing in a group outside

The first 24 students to begin a full four-year Doctor of Medicine at University of Sydney’s Dubbo campus, began their studies this week. Image source: Daily Liberal 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: Pfizer vaccine for adults under 60

feature tile text 'ATAGI recommends Pfizer covid-19 vaccine for adults 59 years and under' image of syringe drawing from vial overlaying Pfizer blue & white logo

Pfizer vaccine for adults under 60

The AMA acknowledges the latest advice from the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) recommending the COVID-19 vaccine by Pfizer (Comirnaty) is preferred in adults under the age of 60 years.

The AMA says the change to our COVID-19 vaccine roll out is based on the latest medical evidence and advice. “The Australian community can be reassured that the Commonwealth continues to take the advice of medical experts on how best to manage the risk of COVID-19 and target our vaccine roll out,” AMA President, Dr Omar Khorshid said. “ATAGI has decided the AstraZeneca vaccine should be used for those patients who are 60 years of age and over based on an assessment of the current risks of COVID-19 in the community.

“With very low rates of community transmission, ATAGI has decided that Pfizer should be the preferred vaccine for anyone under the age of 60. People who have had the AstraZeneca vaccine should not be alarmed by this decision,” Dr Khorshid said. “The risks of serious complications, including clotting, from the AstraZeneca vaccine are very low and Australia is now very good at detecting clots in patients who’ve had the AstraZeneca vaccine.

To view the AMA’s media release click here.

blue gloved hand holding whit swab to upper arm, presumably following vaccination

Image source: startsat60. website.

Shorter gap between jabs

On the 8 June 2021 the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) published an updated version of the administration of 2021 seasonal influenza vaccines advice. The new advice incorporates the latest ATAGI agreed recommendations on the relative timing of administering influenza vaccines and COVID-19 vaccines in 2021. The key changes in advice are as follows:

  • the preferred minimum interval between influenza vaccine and a dose of COVID-19 vaccine is 7 days (previously 14 days) a shorter interval between the two vaccines (including co-administration) is acceptable when there:
    • is increased risk of COVID-19 or another vaccine-preventable disease (e.g.) COVID-19, influenza outbreak, tetanus-prone wound)
    • are logistical issues, e.g. difficulty scheduling visits to maintain the 7 day interval
  • influenza vaccine can be given before or after any dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, with a minimum interval of 7 days
  • an influenza vaccine can be given in between their two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine
  • when scheduling influenza and COVID-19 vaccines, providers should prioritise COVID-19 vaccines for patients who are eligible to receive the vaccine now, then they can schedule the influenza vaccination

A news item providing these key changes in advice can be viewed here and the Health professional update – Updated ATAGI advice on administering seasonal influenza vaccines in 2021 can be viewed here.

Vaccination providers are also reminded that it is now mandatory to report all influenza vaccinations to the Australian Immunisation Register (AIR) (in effect since 1 March 2021).

2 images, first of syringe & 2 vials both with'COVID-19 Vaccine' text, one with red bar & '1st Dose' one with blue bar with '2nd Dose; 2nd image of vial with text 'Influenza Virus Vaccine Flu Vaccine'

Image sources: University of Oxford and Elite Medical Center website.

Canadian First Nations incredible vaccine update

To view the article in full click here.

norther Alberta Canada medical reception room, masked Kehewin Cree Nation elders pray at a ceremony marking the arrival of COVID-19 vaccine; two female elders are sitting with colourful traditional rugs across knees

Kehewin Cree Nation elders pray at a ceremony marking the arrival of COVID-19 vaccine in the northern Alberta community on 8 February 2021. Image source: Radio Canada International website.

Investment in Aboriginal education

Thrive by Five, the national campaign to reform early learning and childcare, has welcomed the NSW Government’s $23 million investment in Indigenous early learning announced in the State Budget. The Berejiklian Government investment will help increase opportunities for First Nations children to learn the language of their heritage, as well as increasing the enrolment of Indigenous children in early learning. “The science is very clear. Children’s brains grow to 90 per cent of the size of an adult brain during their first five years. This makes those years absolutely critical to ensuring children have the opportunity thrive,” Thrive by Five CEO Jay Weatherill said.

To view the Minderoo Foundation media release in full click here.

banner blue with 2 yellow triangle; 1 red square, yellow semi-circle, 2 mint semi-circles, 1 mint circle, blue background, text 'every child deserves the best start' in white text with yellow font for 'deserves' & the full stop; text 'join the campaign; log circle, top half orange with text ' Minderoo' & lower half 'Foundation' to the right of the logo text 'thrive by five'

Image source: Thrive by Five website.

New CTG PBS Co-payment resources

New resources are available for GPs about the changes to the Closing the Gap (CTG) PBS Co-payment program due to take effect on 1 July 2021.

The CTG PBS Co-payment program was established in July 2010 to improve access to affordable PBS medicines for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living with, or at risk of, chronic disease, and who in their doctor’s opinion would experience setbacks in the prevention or ongoing management of chronic disease if they did not take the prescribed medicine and would be unlikely to adhere to their medicines regimen without assistance through the program.

To view the article in full click here.

doctor's room with doctor standing talking to patient (also standing); GP wearing lavender shirt with BDAC logo & lanyard

Image source: Bendigo & District Aboriginal Co-operative website.

Suicide prevention manual

Professor Pat Dudgeon welcomed 250 plus attendees to the webinar for the launch today of the Manual of Resources in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention.

The Manual is a collection of practical resources and tools that people, both Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and non-Indigenous, can use to make a real difference in promoting positive mental health and social emotional wellbeing, and preventing suicide in our communities.

To view the manual click here.

Professor Pat Dugeon sitting a desk holding hand out to computer screen, surrounded by windows all looking out onto green trees

Professor Pat Dudgeon delivering her Acknowledgement of Country during webinar for launch of the Manual of Resources in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention.

Achieving healthy, safe digital ecosystems

New research led by Noongar researcher Dr Tristan Kennedy shows that social media offers many benefits to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, such as ways to establish and navigate identity and build and maintain strong connections to family and community. But it also found significant negative impact, with 97% of Indigenous people surveyed saying they experienced negative content on social media on a weekly basis, “grounded in ways of talking about Indigenous people and racist ideas that have pervaded Australian settler-colonial history”.

Concerned that the cultural subtleties of offensive content are not readily identified by non-Indigenous platform moderators, the research identified the need to employ more Indigenous peoples in the platforms, but also in government, policy making institutions and education more generally.

The findings underscored issues raised by Associate Professor Megan Williams, about how important platforms like Facebook can be for communities and for raising issues more broadly. But she was also concerned by the “vitriol and racism” Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people face online and how their voices are missing at the table of so many discussions, and from all types of media.

A Wiradjuri scholar, Assistant Director and Research Lead at the University of Sydney’s National Centre for Cultural Competence, and Co-Chair of Croakey Health Media, Williams has talked about the need to create “healthy, safe digital ecosystems”, informed by First Nations voices and knowledges, such as the resources created to support the Stolen Generations by the Healing Foundation.

To view the Croakey article in full click here.

image of earth in box made of chains with $ symbol, fire icon & gears; text 'Corporate Capture - virtual imprisonment, surveilled & harvested, disempowered, institutionalised' & earth with tree vector superimposed - text 'Healthy Digital Econsystems - Care for Country, Self determination, Public/community interest; Respect'; Relationships; Recipriocity'

Image source: Croakey.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: World Hearing Day events and resources support Indigenous ear health

World Hearing Day events and resources support Indigenous ear health

March 3, is World Hearing Day and Hearing Australia’s Hearing Assessment Program — Early Ears (HAPEE) program is holding a series of events throughout the week with its spokespeople, singer-songwriter Emma Donovan and Play School presenter and actor Luke Carroll.

The events aim to reach out to communities across the country to raise awareness of the importance of good hearing health for young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children starting school for the first time. To coincide with this HAPEE is also releasing a range of resources to support parents and carers and provide primary health and early childhood education workers with the tools for local engagement.

A highlight event will be a live webinar from 11am to 12pm on World Hearing Day for Koori maternity service workers, presented in conjunction with the Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (VACCHO), and featuring Emma Donovan. Topics to be presented include hearing and speech development in utero and beyond, why it’s important to look after ear/hearing health, the long-term impacts on learning, the main ear issues that impact ear and hearing health, and an overview of some tools that are available to help assess kid’s hearing.

“It’s never too early to get your bub’s hearing checked,” said Emma. “My daughter has had so much help and support for her hearing issues through the HAPEE program. I am proud to be a spokesperson and to help make a difference for other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander kids.”

View the full media release by Hearing Australia here.

HAPEE has developed a new community toolkit for organisations, primary health services and early child education workers to provide support, training, and resources to help share key messages and the benefits of the program to parents and carers in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community. Resources can be downloaded here.

New 2020 Otitis Media Guidelines available

To mark World Hearing Day (3 March 2021)the Centre for Research Excellence in Ear and Hearing Health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children have launched the new 2020 Otitis Media Guidelines for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children (“2020 OM Guidelines”). You can view the OM Guidelines via the website and mobile app, which is free to download via the Apple App Store or Google Play. These guidelines provide interactive, engaging and culturally appropriate best practice up-to-date information on the prevention, diagnosis and management of otitis media.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children experience some of the highest rates of otitis media (OM) in the world. If left without appropriate care, OM can cause conductive and/or permanent hearing loss and is associated with language delay, speech problems, high vulnerability on entering school, social isolation, poor school attendance, and low education and employment opportunities. Hearing loss and otitis media rates among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children are well above the level considered a ‘public health crisis’ by the World Health Organization (WHO).

The 2020 OM Guidelines mobile app and website have been designed to build on the Guidelines themselves and act as a multimedia tool for primary health care providers, with:

  • a step-by-step guide to assist with diagnosis
  • user-friendly algorithms to assist with clinical decision making based on diagnosis
  • audio recordings in top end Aboriginal languages to assist with communication
  • educational videos for health workers, families and children
  • otitis media otoscopy image gallery and quizz
  • condensed Otitis Media Guidelines with graded evidence and links to publications.

Support for Anti-Racism Framework

In a report published in February, the Senate inquiry on ‘issues facing diaspora communities’ recommended funding the development of a comprehensive national anti-racism framework and to consider resourcing the Race Discrimination Commissioner to reinvigorate the existing National Anti-Racism Strategy.

Race Discrimination Commissioner Chin Tan spoke to Nine newspapers about why funding both pieces of work is important.

To read the article in the Sydney Morning Herald click here.

back of man at football with flag in Aboriginal colours, yellow centre with map of Australia & text ' no room for racism'

Image source: The Guardian.

Improving COVID-19 vaccine rollout engagement with diverse communities

A UNSW Sydney-led research team has made recommendations about how to better engage with Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CaLD) communities for the COVID-19 vaccine rollout. The researchers, led by Associate Professor Holly Seale of UNSW Medicine & Health, examined the challenges faced in communicating and engaging with people from CaLD communities, as well as strategies that are needed to enhance the rollout of the vaccine program for these communities.

The team conducted stakeholder interviews with key representatives from government and non-government organisations and released a summary of their findings. The research findings are being presented to state and federal committees to help inform the COVID-19 vaccination program going forward.

Read more about their research, published in The Conversation. A two-page summary of the research can be downloaded here.

gloved hands administering vaccine

Image source: ABC News website.

Key takeaways from the aged care royal commission’s report

The Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety’s final report into aged care has laid out an extensive plan to overhaul Australia’s aged-care system. Among the 148 recommendations, the report calls for a new system underpinned by a rights-based Act, funding based on need, and much stronger regulation and transparency.

Over two years, through more than 10,500 submissions and 600 witnesses, the two commissioners heard extensive evidence of a system in crisis. The top four takeaways from the landmark report include:

1. Australia needs a rights-based aged-care system: In its recommendations, the final report highlights Australia needs a new Aged Care Act to underpin reform. The new Act should set out the rights of older people, including their entitlement to care and support based on their needs and preferences.

2. The system needs stronger governance: Ineffective governance and weak regulation of aged care must end. The final report calls for much stronger governance, regulation of the quality of care, prudential regulation, and an independent mechanism to set prices.

3. We need to improve workforce conditions and capability: The final report makes numerous important recommendations to enhance the capability and work conditions of formal carers. It calls for better wages and a new national registration scheme for all personal care workers, who would be required to have a minimum Certificate III training.

4. A better system will cost more: The final report makes a series of complex recommendations about fees and funding, with the commissioners diverging in view as to the specific arrangements. But essentially, the proposed new funding model would provide universal funding for care services, such as nursing.

Read the full story reported in The Conversation here.

Aboriginal care worker with her arms on the shoulders of an elderly Aboriginal man in a wheelchair.

Image source: UnitingCare Queensland.

Australian Indigenous HealthBulletin releases new publications

The Australian Indigenous HealthBulletin has released a number of new publications:

  • Walking the talk: Evaluating the alignment between Australian governments’ stated principles for working in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health contexts and health evaluation practice: Luke JN, Ferdinand AS, Paradies Y, Chamravi D, Kelaher M (2020). To view the abstract/article click here.
  • ‘Strong Men’: Aboriginal community development of a cardiovascular exercise and health education program: Biles B (2020). Unpublished Doctor of Philosophy thesis, Charles Sturt University: Bathurst, NSW View abstract: ‘Strong Men’: Aboriginal community development of a cardiovascular exercise and health education program. To view the thesis click here.
  • Aboriginal community controlled health organisations address health equity through action on the social determinants of health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in Australia: Pearson O, Schwartzkopff K, Dawson A, Hagger C, Karagi A, Davy C, Brown A, Braunack-Mayer A (2020). To view the abstract/article click here.
  • Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association (2020) Better healthcare in hospitals for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people [webinar] Canberra: This webinar focused on better healthcare in hospitals for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people during NAIDOC week. During this webinar, participants heard about the latest research from Australia and North America. To read the article click here.
  • Baseline liver function tests and full blood count indices and their association with progression of chronic kidney disease and renal outcomes in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people: the eGFR follow-up study. To view the study click here.
  • Costing the scale-up of a national primary school-based fluoride varnish program for Aboriginal children using dental assistants in Australia: Skinner J, Dimitropoulos Y, Rambaldini B, Calma T, Raymond K, Ummer-Christian R, Orr N, Gwynne K (2020). To view the abstract/article click here.

Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System – Final Report 

A range of organisations, including Beyond Blue, Mental Health Australia, Suicide Prevention Australia and The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists (RANZCP) have welcomed the release of The Royal Commission recognises the strength of people living with mental illness or psychological distress, families, carers and supporters, and members of the workforce who have contributed their personal stories and perspectives to this inquiry.

To view the RANZCP media release click here and to access the final report click here.

Inappropriate medical advertising exploits vulnerable people

Advertising that promotes unrealistic body images or depicts normal human conditions and experiences as pathological conditions requiring medical treatment can exploit vulnerable people and lead to mental ill-health, the AMA said today. Releasing the AMA Position Statement on Advertising and Public Endorsement, AMA President Dr Khorshid said doctors should ensure than any advertising they take part in, including via social media, assists informed patient choice and does not undermine it.

“Inappropriate advertising can lead people to use products or services indiscriminately or unnecessarily, potentially resulting in physical, psychological or financial harm,” Dr Khorshid said. “The AMA is troubled by medical advertising practices that promote unrealistic body images, particularly where these concerns relate to common features of the human lifecycle.”

Read the AMA media release here.

shopping trolley medical products, pills, needles, vials, thermometer etc.

Image source: BenefitsPRO.

COVID-19 vaccine recipients report positive experience

Healthy North Coast is working with residential aged care facilities (RACFs) and general practice clinics to help them plan for and deliver COVID-19 vaccines across the North and Mid North Coast region, as part of the Commonwealth’s national rollout. Almost 30,000 Australians have been vaccinated to date, according to Health Minister Greg Hunt, including 8,110 aged care and disability residents throughout 117 care facilities.

In a media release on Monday, Minister Hunt said that both the state and territory teams alongside the aged care in-reach teams are ramping up their operations, with more vaccines being distributed across the country in the next week. Last week, Healthcare Australia’s clinical workforce, who are contracted to deliver the RACF COVID-19 vaccine rollout, started delivering vaccinations in Northern NSW aged care.

To read the media release by Health North Coast and the Australian Government’s PHN Program click here.

two Aboriginal men in an aged-care facility art room, one in a wheelchair painting

Aboriginal painter Neville Niypula Mcarthur. Image source: ABC News website.

Hear! Hear! Look after your Ears!

As a senior audiologist with the Top End Health Service’s Hearing Services Outreach Program Salimon Joseph spends a lot of time visiting remote communities helping Aboriginal Territorians – and he loves it. “I get to see my patients in their comfort zone,” Mr Joseph said of his trips to communities, where he undertakes hearing assessments for all the children who has been referred to the program.

For Hearing Awareness Week (1-7 March 2021) and World Hearing Day (3 March 2021), Mr Joseph wants to pass on to Territorians everywhere to look after their ears and their hearing. Almost half (49%) of childhood hearing loss is preventable, as is over a third (37%) of adult hearing loss. During his remote trips, Mr Joseph and the outreach team share ear disease prevention tips with parents, including ensuring children get their ears checked regularly; wash their face and hands and blow their nose frequently; have a healthy diet with plenty of fruit and vegetables; keep vaccinations up to date; avoid smoking around kids and ask parents and carers to teach kids not to stick anything in their ears.

You can have a hearing loss if you often ask people to repeat themselves; turn up the volume of the radio or television; have difficulty following conversations in noisy places; have difficulty in understanding what is said over the phone; have a problem in hearing sounds like an alarm or a telephone ringing and are told by people that you speak loudly or experience tinnitus.

To read the media release by the Northern Territory Government click here.

Aboriginal flag illustration with yellow ear in the centre with a white hearing aid

Illustration: Eric Lobbecke. Image source: The Australian.

Specialised aged care needed for Stolen Generations survivors

The Healing Foundation has welcomed the recommendations of the Aged Care Royal Commission Final Report that recognise the specialised aged care needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, including urgent trauma-aware and healing-informed services and care.

The final report notes that ‘… trauma-informed approaches are particularly important to the care of [survivors] of the Stolen Generations. By 2023, all Stolen Generations survivors will be aged over 50 years and potentially eligible for aged care services. Their childhood experiences further compromise their ability to seek services and should dictate and inform how such services should be provided’. The recommendation for a new Aged Care Act acknowledges that ‘…Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are entitled to receive support and care that is culturally safe and recognises the importance of their personal connection to community and country’.

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

Miranda Campbell-Roberts holding a photo of herself when she was six years old

Miranda Campbell-Roberts holding a photo of herself when she was six years old. Picture: Michael Marschall. Image source: The Stolen Generation blog.

QLD/ACT/NT – Brisbane, Canberra or Darwin – Aboriginal Hostels Limited

General Manager x 2 FT – Brisbane, Canberra or Darwin

Aboriginal Hostels Limited (AHL) provides a cost effective national network of safe, comfortable, culturally appropriate and affordable accommodation for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who need to live away from home to access services and economic opportunity. AHL is seeking to fill the following two Senior Executive Service Band 1 positions:

  • General Manager, Business Development & Employment – to lead innovative business transformation and cultural change
  • General Manager, Operations – to lead the AHL hostel service delivery

Both General Managers will be key members of the AHL Executive team, working closely with and supporting the CEO and the Board of Directors.

To view the GM Business Development & Employment position description click here, and to view the GM Operations position description click here.

Applications for both positions close Tuesday 6 April 2021.Aboriginal Hostels Limited logo, house with black roof, yellow circle that takes up half of the black roof & a third of the red body of the building, red body of the building had a semi-circle cut out for the door

Close the Gap Campaign Report Launch Via Webinar

Webinar/report launch on National Close the Gap Day (18 March 2021).

The invite and registration link will follow soon. Please join in the launch and share across your socials.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: First Nations media services trusted sources of health information

microphone in radio broadcasting studio

First Nations media critical to health

The critical importance of First Nations media for the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and communities has been highlighted in submissions to a Senate inquiry into media diversity in Australia. However, the sector is under pressure on multiple fronts, according to a detailed submission by peak body First Nations Media Australia (FNMA), which says operational funding provided by the Federal Government has remained virtually unchanged since 1996 despite numerous reviews urging increased funding for the sector.

The FNMA submission highlights many ways in which First Nations media, including radio, TV, newspapers and online sites, affect the social determinants of health, and says the COVID-19 pandemic illustrates the sector’s capacity to deliver timely, relevant information and to address misinformation. “Communities turned to First Nations media services as trusted sources of information, particularly amid conflicting reports shared through social media and other networks,” the submission says.

To view the full Croakey article click here.First Nations Media Australia logo - word plus map of Australia filled with yellow orchre black aqua Aboriginal art circles

Tackling Indigenous Smoking booklet

The Bega Gambirringu Health Service, Kalgoorlie (WA) has created a 20 page booklet to support and educate Aboriginal people and communities about tobacco use. The booklet is filled with colourful infographics and photos and contains a wealth of information about: tobacco history; what’s in a cigarette; how smoking makes you sick; health effects of vaping/e-cigarettes; smoking during pregnancy; second-hand smoke; the financial cost of smoking; benefits of quitting smoking; understanding why you smoke and how to quit. You can access a copy of the booklet here.

cover of Tackling Indigenous Smoking Bega Garnbirringu booklet

Cover of Bega Garnbirringu Health Service’s Tackling Indigenous Smoking booklet.

Game changing heart monitor

With Indigenous Australians 20% more likely to experience heart or circulatory diseases than non-Indigenous people according to the Medical Journal of Australia. The risk is especially evident among younger people, with Indigenous Australians between 30 and 39-years-old over three times as likely to die from heart disease than non-Indigenous Australians.

New devices like the S-Patch Cardio can ease the strain on Aboriginal Medical Services and ACCHOs. S-Patch Cardio, a simple, lightweight, medically proven heart rate diagnostic device is set to be distributed and delivered through a 100% Indigenous-owned company, Supply Aus. Contracts with both Samsung (creators of the S-Patch Cardio) and Sigma Healthcare (a network of independent and franchised pharmacies throughout Australia) will see Supply Aus source and distribute the life-saving device across Australia. Through Sigma, Supply Aus will be able to use National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) members to provide a range of fairly priced health items to Indigenous communities.

To view the article in full click background of graph & white lines of a heart beat

Why birthing on country is important?

NITV Radio have produced a podcast called What is birthing on country and why is it crucial for Aboriginal women? about the role and training of doulas (childbirth companions) in the community as part of the Caring for Mum on Country project.

The podcast features Kerri-Lee Harding from the SBS National Indigenous Television (NITV) Radio program in conversation with Dr Sarah Ireland, midwife and researcher from the Molly Wardaguga Research Centre at the Charles Darwin University, in the NT and other experts on the Caring for Mum on Country project.

To listen to the podcast click here.

three Aboriginal mums holding their babies sitting on rocks

Smoking Ceremony, Welcoming Waminda Goodjaga’s on Yuin Country. L–R; Gemmah Floyd, Elizabeth Luland, Patricia De Vries and their babies. Image source: Waminda South Coast Women’s Health and Welfare Aboriginal Corporation.

Senior Australian of the Year

Dr Miriam-Rose Ungunmerr Baumann AM from the NT, has been named the Senior Australian of the year for 2021. Dr Ungunmerr Baumann was recognised for her contribution to children’s education, demonstrating an admirable commitment to making Australia a better place. Minister for Senior Australians and Aged Care Services, Richard Colbeck, said Dr Ungunmerr Baumann had gone above and beyond in her service to education in the Top End. “Miriam-Rose became the first fully qualified Aboriginal teacher in the NT in 1975, and later served as the principal of the Catholic school in her home community,” Minister Colbeck said. “She is a renowned artist and a strong advocate for visual art to be a part of every child’s education.”

To view the Minister Colbeck’s media release click here.

Dr Miriam-Rose Ungunmerr Baumann AM receiving the 2021 Senior Australian of the Year award

Dr Miriam-Rose Ungunmerr Baumann AM is the 2021 Senior Australian of the Year recipient. Image source: Salty Dingo.

Criminal justice approaches prioritising health

Dr Jill Guthrie has been given one of Australia’s highest honours for significant service to Indigenous health, including her work on reducing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander contact with the criminal justice system. Dr Guthrie, a descendant of the Wiradjuri people of Western NSW, was one of three academics from The Australian National University (ANU) who have been appointed a member of the Order of Australia (AM) in this year’s Australian honours.

Dr Guthrie’s work has led the way in crafting innovative evidence-based approaches to criminal justice that prioritise the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and their communities. The epidemiologist recently led a justice reinvestment project in her hometown of Cowra which redirects funds from prisons to holistic initiatives and services to address the causes of offending and keep those at risk of incarceration from coming into contact with the criminal justice system.

To view the full article click here.

image of Dr Jill Guthrie during a panel discussion

Dr Jill Guthrie. Image source: Institute of Public Administration Australia.

Collaboration across health practitioners

As part of delivering holistic healthcare, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Practitioners work with many other health professionals to protect the public, and especially their communities. In the podcast Collaboration across professions: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health practitioners Tash Miles from the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) talks to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Practitioners and their colleagues about what collaboration across professions looks like and what it means to them, the community, and the potential for the future.

Tash has an insightful discussion with Renee Owen, Program Manager, Aboriginal Health at Barwon Health; Mandy Miller, midwife, Koori Maternity Service, Wathaurong Aboriginal Co-operative; Dr Ed Poliness, GP, Wathaurong Aboriginal Co-operative and Damien Rigney, registered nurse and Aboriginal Health Practitioner, Aboriginal Health Council South Australia. Each guest brings a range of perspectives, centred around a strong connection and acknowledgment of the importance of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Practitioners in our healthcare system.

To listen to the podcast click here.

Aboriginal mum sitting holding standing young child getting a vaccine by health worker

The North West Hospital and Health Service. Image source: The North West Star.

Lived experience of suicide

The Seedling Group and The Lived Experience Centre, in collaboration with Black Dog Institute have produced a report ‘We are Strong. We are Resilient. But we are Tired’ – voices from the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Lived Experience Centre Yarning Circles. The report aims to present the findings and outcomes from several virtual yarning circles used to explore lived experience and build upon the existing work to better understand Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’s lived experience of suicide. Information was gathered to understand: what has helped; how interventions have helped divert a suicide crisis; who was available to help; and what healing has looked like.

To view the report click here.

Gundjeihmi Aboriginal rock art hand stencil and Aboriginal hand against the rockhand

Gundjeihmi hand stencil. Image source: Independent Australia website.

NT alcohol policies reduce ICU admissions

Alcohol misuse is a disproportionately large contributor to morbidity and mortality in the NT. A new study, The effect of alcohol policy on intensive care unit admission patterns in Central Australia: A before–after cross-sectional study, examines the effect of a raft of alcohol legislation reforms that came into effect in the NT in 2018, as part of the NT Government’s Alcohol Harm Minimisation Action Plan. The reforms were based on recommendations from the Riley Review for an integrated alcohol harm reduction framework and included a minimum unit price for alcohol, the introduction of Police Auxiliary Liquor Inspection Officers and a Banned Drinkers Register.

The introduction of alcohol harm limitation policies in Central Australia has had a marked effect on critical health figures, with a 38% relative reduction in Hospital Intensive Care Unit admissions associated with alcohol misuse, as well as a marked reduction in trauma admissions.

To view the media release about the study click here and to access the study click here.

mechanical ventilator for patient in hospital

Image source: Scimex website. 

It’s time to heal

As the state begins to emerge from COVID-19, mental health remains our greatest challenge. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in Victoria are three times more likely to experience high or very high levels of psychological distress. Victoria also has the second highest rate of “high to very high” levels of psychological distress in 39% of young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people (Australia Institute of Health and Welfare, 2018). We know there is a strong link between trauma and poor mental health.

Amongst the Stolen Generations, 40% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 50 plus have poor mental health because of the trauma of removal. This costs us on many levels. Mental health and related conditions have been estimated to be as much as 22% of the health gap (Global Burden of Disease Report 2003). The impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic make existing conditions even worse for vulnerable Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander communities.

To view the opinion piece in full click here.

painting of Union Jack & Aboriginal flag overlaid with Southern cross stars with cracks throughout painting

Image source: The Standard.

Unchecked misinformation risks vaccine response

A newly formed coalition of health and technology experts is calling on the Australian Parliament to force Big Tech companies to reveal the true extent of COVID-19 misinformation. In a letter sent to the Australian Parliament, the coalition warns unchecked misinformation risks Australia’s COVID-19 vaccination efforts. They have called on politicians to introduce a Big Tech ‘Live List’, which details the most popular coronavirus-related material being shared online. The coalition, led by Reset Australia , includes the Immunisation Coalition, the Immunisation Foundation of Australia, Coronavax and the Doherty Institute. “Rampant misinformation on social media is hampering Australia’s COVID-19 efforts and may deter widespread take up of the future vaccine,” said Chris Cooper, executive director of Reset Australia, the local affiliate of the global initiative working to counter digital threats to democracy and society.

To view the Reset Australia media release click here.

drawing of COVID-19 cells & face with cap on head & mask stretched away from the the face with long Pinocchio nose

Image source: Forbes website.

Health scholarships open to regional SA students

Students studying a range of health courses in country SA are being encouraged to apply for scholarships worth up to $20,000. The latest initiative forms part of the SA Health’ 2021 Rural Health Undergraduate Scholarship program. Largely, it seeks to have students working in rural and regional areas of SA and in turn prosper these settings in the long-term.

SA Health’s Rural Support Service executive director Debbie Martin said six undergraduate scholarships. will be available to students who demonstrate a strong commitment to continue their future professional practice in regional areas. “We encourage all year 12 students and new and continuing university students who reside in regional areas to apply for the scholarship,” Ms Martin said. “Scholarship recipients are awarded $5,000 per year for up to four years of their study to help support them while learning.” Successful recipients will be required to work in regional health service settings once graduated, equivalent to the number of years they received funding.

To view the The Times on the Coast article in full click here.

dry SA landscape with sun setting, windmill & sparse vegetation, red dirt

Image source: The Advertiser.

AMA Indigenous Medical Scholarships – last chance

Applications close soon for a scholarship that helps Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander medical students balance work, study and family life. The AMA Indigenous Medical Scholarship provides $10,000 a year to already enrolled Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander medical students for the remainder of their degree. Over the past 27 years, the Scholarship has supported 30 Indigenous medical students, including Australia’s first Aboriginal surgeon, Professor Kelvin Kong.

The 2020 recipient, Lloyd Diggins, was able to use his scholarship to cut down on his working hours, which were restricting his study time outside of classes and his ability to work on country. Mr Diggins, a Wongi man who grew up on Whadjuk and Wardandi Noongar countries in Western Australia, is a physiotherapist, but decided to retrain as a GP after seeing the needs of remote Aboriginal communities. “The scholarship has also allowed me to learn on country. The way I will think and work as a doctor has been changed by the Elders and local Aboriginal people I’ve been able to care for and learn from.”

To view the AMS media release click here.

Aboriginal medical student holding the strut of a light plane on tarmac in outback

Image source: AMA website.

ICE resource feedback sought

Researchers from the Matilda Centre are seeking feedback on a recently developed resource to support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and wellbeing. This research is being done to learn more about the new Cracks in the Ice online resource developed for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. This resource aims to provide trusted and evidence-based information and resources about crystal methamphetamine to support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and wellbeing.

If you, your mob or community has been impacted by ice, or if you are a health professional in this space, make your voice heard and help make sure this resource meets the needs of the community!

The survey is open to people who are: aged 18 years or more; currently living in NSW, SA or WA; identify as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander. The survey will take approximately 15 to 30 minutes, with participants also having the option to provide further detailed feedback in a telephone interview. All participants will go into the draw to win a grocery only voucher valued at $50.

For further information on how to provide your feedback click here.

hands lighting an ICE pipe

Image source: The Conversation.

Fully funded data analyst course

The Digital Skills Organisation (DSO) is an initiative led by the Department of Education Skills and Employment as part of the Delivering Skills for Today and Tomorrow package. Indigenous-owned business Goanna Education has been selected by the DSO to trial and test innovative solutions to train and drive employment for junior data analysts. Data Analytics is the science of being able to tell an accurate story from a set of data. It involves the use of powerful tech systems to organise, format, and model data in order to glean useful information.

Goanna Education is looking for Indigenous candidates over 18 years of age who are looking to pursue a career in tech. Applicants don’t need any previous experience. For further information about the 21 week course starting on 1 March 2021 click here.text Career Pathway Support, Goanna Education logo, Aboriginal woman & words Become a Data Analyst

VIC – Melbourne – Children’s Ground

Manager People & Culture x 1 PT (Initial Fixed Term) – Melbourne (possible occasional travel to NT)

Children’s Ground operates in Central Australia and across the Top End, with support provided by a Melbourne-based Shared Services team. With the organisation growing, following a review of the People & Culture function this position will be key to ensuring Children’s Ground recruits and retains staff who deliver on its vision and approach. Children’s Ground has a small People & Culture team working with the Director Children’s Ground Operations to implement the overall People & Culture (P&C) Function. The team includes the Recruitment/Human Resources Coordinator in Central Australia, Volunteer Coordinator (voluntary), P&C volunteers and this new position of Manager of People & Culture.

To view the position description click here. Applications close Monday 15 February 2021.children's ground banner - 7 Aboriginal children running towards camera on country