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

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

Reclaiming the right to give birth on Country

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

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

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

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

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

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

Study tracks lives of preterm babies

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

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

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

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

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

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

Australia’s poor human rights results

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

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

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

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

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

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

Charity status changes – a public health hazard

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

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

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

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

Image source: First Peoples Disability Network website.

Indigenous health checks and follow-ups

Through Medicare, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people can receive Indigenous-specific health checks from their doctor, as well as referrals for Indigenous-specific follow-up services. In 2019–20, 239,000 Indigenous Australians had one of these health checks (28%). The proportion of Indigenous health check patients who had an Indigenous-specific follow-up service within 12 months of their check increased from 12% to 47% between 2010–11 and 2018–19.

A recent AIHW report presents data on Indigenous health checks for a time period up until the end of June 2020 (i.e. overlapping with the COVID-19 period). It also includes data on telehealth MBS items that were introduced in 2020 as part of the response to COVID-19.

To view the AIHW report click here.

Comedian Sean Choolburra receiving one part of his 715 health check

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

Access to Aged Care medicines programs expanded

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

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

blue multiple pill holder each compartment with 6 different coloured tablets

Image source: iStock.

New process for job advertising

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

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

NAIDOC Week 2021 – 4–11 July

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

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Racism linked to poorer health

feature tile text 'racism linked to poorer health in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people' overlaid silhouette images of heads of different shades of brown, yellow, cream overlaid with transparent white medical thickness symbol cross

Racism linked to poorer health

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults who have experienced discrimination have poorer health and wellbeing outcomes regardless of their age, where they live and their gender, according to a new national study. It’s the first national study outlining the experiences of racism and health outcomes among Indigenous Australians. Researchers from The Australian National University (ANU) analysed data from more than 8,000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults from the national Indigenous-led Mayi Kuwayu Study, collected between 2018–2020.

“These results highlight the breadth and extent of just how bad racism is for our mob’s wellbeing,” ANU Associate Professor Raymond Lovett said. “Across the board, we found consistent links between racism and poor mental health, physical health and cultural wellbeing. “Experiencing discrimination is linked to negative outcomes ranging from low happiness to heart disease.” Discrimination was linked to all negative outcomes examined in the study. These included, but are not limited to, pain, poor life satisfaction, psychological distress, anxiety, depression, heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes.

“We found these negative outcomes were increasingly common as the extent of discrimination increased,” lead author Dr Katherine Thurber, from ANU, said. “Discrimination experiences were pervasive, with almost six-in-10 participants in the study reporting having experienced discrimination in their everyday life.”

To view the ANU’s media release click here.

brick wall with mural of Aboriginal people, with 2 Aboriginal men walking past

Image source: The Young Witness.

Census data used to determine need

Last year, Orange Aboriginal Medical Service (OAMS), opened a purpose-built wellbeing and rehabilitation centre in Orange, NSW. The name of the centre – walu-win – comes from the Wiradjuri word for ‘healthy’. Jamie Newman, proud Wiradjuri man and OAMS’ CEO, said they use Census data to understand needs of the local community and help secure further investment from partners. walu-win’s services include health, housing and employment, which are vital for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to thrive.

OAMS combined Census data with other local data to build a profile of the region, helping it to better understand what was needed in the local community. The centre combines holistic and traditional medical practices to improve health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. “Improving access to health services through walu-win, and a more holistic and wellbeing focus is vital to closing the gap. We can’t close the gap without focusing on wellbeing for our people,” Jamie said.

Walu-win’s Manager, Zara Crawford, describes salu-win as a hub for a variety of health outcomes. “We often see clients more than a GP would, which could be about something that is stressing them out socially or emotionally, through to developing exercise and nutritional programs. That’s our day-to-day service and that’s what we mean about being holistic.” Jamie and Zara believe participation in the Census is an important conversation for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities ahead of this year’s count.

For further details about how Census data and local partnerships promote wellbeing at the new walu-win Centre in Orange click here.

image of the Walu-win Centre in Orange NSW

New walu-win Centre in Orange NSW.

Making CTG data more accessible

The Productivity Commission has today launched a new Closing the Gap Information Repository, making available the most comprehensive data set for measuring the 17 targets agreed to in the National Agreement on Closing the Gap. Minister for Indigenous Australians, the Hon Ken Wyatt AM, MP, said the new website is another step towards delivering on the Government’s commitment to share data and support more informed decision making by all parties to the National Agreement. This delivers on the Morrison Government’s 2020–21 Budget commitment of $10.1 million to provide independent oversight and accountability of progress under the National Agreement on Closing the Gap.

To view the media release click here.

piece of paper with graph 2016 - 2021

Image source: National Indigenous Times.

Advance redress payments now available

Survivors of institutional child sexual abuse who are older or terminally ill will be able to access advance payments of $10,000 under proposed changes to the National Redress Scheme. Minister for Families and Social Services and Minister for Women’s Safety Anne Ruston announced the plan as part of the Morrison Government’s initial response to the Final Report, Second Year Review of the National Redress Scheme (the Final Report) prepared by Independent Reviewer Ms Robyn Kruk AO. I would like to thank Ms Kruk for her work on the Final Report which outlines how the Scheme can be improved and deliver a better experience for survivors, Minister Ruston said.

To view Senator Ruston’s media release click here. In another media release the Healing Foundation welcomed the Australian Government’s advice that it supports making advance payments to elderly or terminally ill survivors.

Eunice Wright in wheel chair holding sign with 'stolen' written on it at rally in Melbourne

Stolen Generation survivor Eunice Wright. Image source: ABC News website.

Future of primary care – much to discuss

The Primary Health Reform Steering Group has circulated a discussion paper to stakeholders seeking feedback on its recommendations to inform the Australian Government’s Primary Health Care 10-Year Plan. Croakey columnist and contributing editor Associate Professor Lesley Russell has written an overview of the paper’s strengths and weaknesses, as well as identifying important omissions.

One such glaring gap is the absence of any discussion around the sector’s role in planning, preparing and responding to climate change and its health impacts. Yet, there is an extensive literature that could have informed such a discussion, dating back to a 2007 paper by the late Professor Tony McMichael and others arguing that “primary health care has an important role in preparing for and responding to these climate change related threats to human health.”

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

dark outback signpost against pink blue cream sky of dusk

Image source: Croakey Health Media website.

Victoria leading the way on CTG

Minister for Aboriginal Affairs Gabrielle Williams says Victoria is leading the way on Closing the Gap, using self-determined solutions to tackle Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander disadvantage. The Victorian Government is delivering an additional $5 million to support reaching the targets in the National Agreement on Closing the Gap, to improve the lives of Aboriginal people.

The new funding builds on the $3.3 million announced in 2020, when Victoria became the first state or territory to provide funding to the National Agreement on Closing the Gap. This funding has been vital to making some of the significant progress highlighted in the Victorian Government Aboriginal Affairs Report 2020 possible.

To view the Victoria State Government media release click here.

shadow of child cast over Aboriginal flag on the ground

Image source: The West Australian.

Martumili art for Newman Health Service

Health Minister Roger Cook said the Newman Health Service is set to become home to a series of artworks by local Martumili artists when the brand new hospital and health service is completed in 2023. The $61.4 million McGowan Government redevelopment project, which includes a $15 million contribution from BHP Iron Ore (BHP), will provide Newman and the surrounding communities with a modern, fit-for-purpose facility delivering care closer to home and on Country.

The incorporation of artwork by local Aboriginal artists is part of the State’s commitment to ensuring Aboriginal people can receive care in a culturally safe and welcoming facility that meets the needs of the community. Artwork for the main entry screen of the Newman Health has been awarded to Manyjilyjarra woman Mulyatingki Marney whose piece tells the story of Minyipuru, or the Seven Sisters, and embodies Aboriginal notions of interconnectedness between spirituality, land and self.

To view Minister Cook’s media release click here.

portrait of Mulyatingki Marney & photo of her from waist down sitting painting

Manyjilyjarra woman Mulyatingki Marney. Image source: Spinifix Hill Studio.

New kidney unit location ‘despicable’

The decision by the Queensland Government to establish a new Kidney Transplant Unit in Townsville ahead of Cairns has been labelled as “despicable and appalling” by Cairns Mayor Bob Manning. “We were originally told that Cairns had been slated to get this unit, but then we were told that people from the State Government got involved who were in favour of it being in Townsville – it became political,” Cr Manning said.

“We took up the matter in support of a number of Indigenous councils and communities who indicated they found it hard to take the matter forward. As part of that, we did an analysis with clinicians from within the hospital and we were given assurances that the right place for this facility was in Cairns.” Cr Manning said he was shocked to learn of the decision to establish the kidney unit in Townsville. “This is possibly the most despicable act I have seen. This decision is despite that clearly the greatest need is in this region – the facts support this.”

To view the Cairns Regional Council’s media release click here.

arm of Aboriginal man linked to dialysis with red black white tartan blanket over lap

Image source: newsGP.

New process for job advertising

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

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

Go Dry This July

Dry July Foundation is the registered charity behind the Dry July campaign. Dry July is a fundraiser that encourages you to go alcohol-free in July to raise funds to help improve the comfort, care and wellbeing of people affected by cancer, whether it’s a lift to a life-saving appointment, guidance from a specialist nurse, connection to an informative voice, access to therapy programs or a bed close to treatment.

Since the first Dry July in 2008, the Dry July campaign has raised over $60 million dollars for people affected by cancer. Funds raised through the Dry July campaign are distributed to cancer organisations across Australia. These organisations provide support services to cancer patients, their families and carers. Like the Dry July Foundation, these organisations depend on the generosity of the community through campaigns like Dry July.

Having a month off alcohol also has great health benefits, such as sleeping better, having more energy and of course, no hangovers! So you’re not only helping others, you’re helping yourself. It’s a win-win!

For more information click here.yellow bottle top with black text 'Dry July' against blue background, 'v' in word 'July' is an empty beer glass

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Make Healing Happen

Feature tile - Wed 2.6.21 - Make Healing Happen

Make Healing Happen

The Healing Foundation’s Make Healing Happen report, released today, signals the urgent need for policy responses from all Australian governments to assist the healing process for a growing number of Stolen Generations survivors and descendants.

The Make Healing Happen report – released in conjunction with the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) report, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Stolen Generations aged 50 and over: updated analyses for 2018-19, provides an in-depth insight into the experiences of Stolen Generations survivors and the extent and complexity of their contemporary needs today and as they grow older.

“The AIHW has estimated that the number of Stolen Generations survivors has more than doubled – from 17,150 in 2014-15 to 33,600 in 2018-19,” said The Healing Foundation CEO Fiona Cornforth.

“This dramatic increase points to an urgent need for policy responses from all Australian governments, especially in the areas of health, mental health, aged care, disability, welfare, and wellbeing.

“One of the more significant findings is that all Stolen Generations survivors will by next year be eligible for aged care.

Compared with the general non-Indigenous population aged 50 and over (on an age standardised basis), Stolen Generations survivors aged 50 and over are:

  • 3 times as likely to be living with a severe disability;
  • 7 times as likely to have poor mental health;
  • 6 times as likely to have kidney disease;
  • 1 times as likely to have diabetes; and
  • 7 times as likely to have heart, stroke, or vascular disease.

You can download the Make Healing Happen report here.

View The Healing Foundation’s media release Significant increase in Stolen Generations survivor numbers signals urgent need for government solutions in health, aged care, and other services here.

View the AIHW report Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Stolen Generations aged 50 and over: updated analyses for 2018–19 here.

View the AIHW media release Stolen Generations survivors face poorer health and wellbeing outcomes than other Indigenous Australians here.

Make Healing Happen - It's Time to Act: The Healing Foundation report

Make Healing Happen – It’s Time to Act: The Healing Foundation report.

ACCH model to lead Hepatitis response

Dr Dawn Casey, Deputy CEO NACCHO spoke at the 12th Australasian Viral Hepatitis Conference in Sydney yesterday, 1 June 2021 on Progress and future challenges for enhancing viral hepatitis care in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. “Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have a higher burden of disease in comparison to the wider Australian population and viral Hepatitis is no exception.” “Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples represent approximately 3% of the total Australian population, yet we account for an estimated 10% of those living with chronic Hepatitis B and 20% of all Hepatitis C diagnoses,” she said.

These numbers highlight that more needs to be done to reach the national and international target of elimination of viral Hepatitis by 2030.

“In order to respond to viral Hepatitis, and other STI and BBV, in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities we must draw on the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health (ACCH) model of integrated primary health care,” said Casey pointing to the following factors that need to be addressed:

  • Sustained funding
  • Continued co-design and collaboration with key stakeholders
  • Improved data and surveillance
  • Innovative recall systems
  • Multiskilled workforce and increased workforce capacity
  • Community engagement and education
  • Continuous Quality Improvement
  • Access and effective integration of PoCT program for rapid results, immediate treatment, and timely contact tracing

“We need to develop strong partnerships and open relationships with state and territory governments, peak organisations and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community controlled health sector, working together to respond to the high rates for viral hepatitis in our communities.”

Dr Dawn Casey, Deputy CEO NACCHO speaking at the 12th Australasian Viral Hepatitis Conference in Sydney 1 June 2021.

Dr Dawn Casey, Deputy CEO NACCHO speaking at the 12th Australasian Viral Hepatitis Conference in Sydney on 1 June 2021.

Telehealth and hepatitis C study seeks participants

The Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health and Society at La Trobe University is conducting a Commonwealth-funded, interview-based study of people’s experiences using telehealth for hepatitis C treatment and care during COVID-19. The outcomes of this study will be to make recommendations to optimise the use of telehealth in hepatitis C care and treatment.

Dawn Casey’s keynote at the recent 12th Australasian Viral Hepatitis Conference, Progress and future challenges for enhancing viral hepatitis care in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people highlighted that telehealth has provided ‘culturally safe healthcare’ across ACCHOs.

We are inviting GPs and other specialists providing hepatitis C treatment and care for an interview to identify experiences, advantages, and barriers of telehealth; as well as people who have received telehealth care (re-imbursed $50 for their time).

Participation involves an audio-recorded 40–60 minute interview with a trained university researcher. Interviews will be conducted over phone or Zoom.

Please contact Dr Frances Shaw to arrange an interview or receive recruitment flyers to advertise this study in your ACCHO.
Email: f.shaw@latrobe.edu.au – Mobile: 0431 483 918

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

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

Review of FASD among First Nations people

The Alcohol and Other Drugs Knowledge Centre has published a Review of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peopleThe review states that FASD is a preventable, lifelong disability. FASD disproportionately affects Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, however, there are limited prevalence statistics available in the mainstream Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population. Accompanying the review is a short video of key points from the review, a summary version of the review with infographics and a factsheet.

The review explores the role of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women in preventing FASD and proposes that programs that work best for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities are those that are done with, for and by the communities and their leaders. Authors Sharynne Hamilton, Michael Doyle and Carol Bower, recommend that, where possible, federal and state governments should choose to invest in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community organisations to develop their own evidence-based, fit-for-community FASD prevention, intervention, and management strategies. Men are largely absent in FASD interventions. Co-author Michael Doyle says, “There is a need to involve Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men in research to understand the role they can play in the prevention, treatment and management of FASD”.

HealthInfoNet Director, Professor Neil Drew says, “We were delighted to commission this important review and partner with the authors to provide a comprehensive and sensitive review of the evidence around FASD with clear recommendations for future action”.

You can view the media release by the Alcohol and Other Drugs Knowledge Centre here.

FASD among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people - video.

FASD among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people – video.

Grog in pregnancy videos

Katherine West Health Board (2021)
Grog in pregnancy videos – partners, women and men
Katherine, NT: Katherine West Health Board

In these videos, community members share information with one another about drinking alcohol and Fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD).

The videos promote health messages such as:

  • have a check up at the clinic if you are planning to get pregnant
  • if mum drinks while pregnant the baby can be born with FASD
  • men can support women who are pregnant by not drinking
  • if you are breastfeeding you should not drink alcohol.

Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet abstract

Grog in Pregnancy - Partners: video by Katherine West Health Board.

Grog in Pregnancy – Partners: video by Katherine West Health Board.

Outcomes of community-based FASD workshop

There is a lack of neurodevelopmental assessment services in rural and remote locations in Australia that consider fetal alcohol spectrum disorder as a possible outcome.

87 participants attended a workshop to support community-based professional development and co-design of a novel assessment approach. Qualitative data collection included video recording of the workshop, and small group discussions, for which a narrative analysis was utilised. Quantitative data collection included self-report questionnaires to understand current community practices and three key constructs: practitioner knowledge, attitudes, and intentions for future practice.

The study identified key learnings from workshop facilitators and participants. The findings call attention to the importance of a co-design approach, where collaboration is vital to support the appropriate adaption of evidence-based practice to suit the local context.

You can read the abstract here.

FASD graphic produced by the FASD Hub Australia, which distributes information about the disorder online.

This is a graphic produced by the FASD Hub Australia, which distributes information about the disorder online.

NDIS Ready grants now open!

Attention all Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations! NDIS Ready Indigenous Business Support Funding (IBSF) ACCO grant round applications are NOW OPEN!  

IBSF offers funding to eligible ACCOs to help address: 

  • basic establishment costs, and/or 
  • business and technical challenges in registered and delivering services under the NDIS  

Grants of $20,000 are available for up to 100 ACCHOs and ACCOs.  

For information on the grant and how to apply can be found on the IBSF website. Applications close on Friday 11 June 2021. Please contact the NDIS Ready team at ndisready@naccho.org.au if you have any questions. 

NDIS Ready - Funding Round Open

NDIS Ready Indigenous Business Support Funding ACCO grant round applications are NOW OPEN.

Call for abstracts – now open!

Abstract submissions open for the 6th Ngar-wu Wanyarra Annual Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Conference, The University of Melbourne, Department of Rural Health.
Abstract submissions should address the conference theme ‘Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health and Wellbeing’.
Abstract submissions close Wednesday 30 June 2021. If you are interested in presenting, please complete the registration here.
Abstract submissions for Ngar-wu Wanyarra Annual Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Conference are now open.

Abstract submissions for Ngar-wu Wanyarra Annual Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Conference are now open.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Compensation for Stolen Generations survivors

$200,000 compensation for Stolen Generations survivors

On the eve of National Sorry Day, the Australian Greens urged the Federal Government to adopt a national Stolen Generations compensation package. Victorian Greens Senator and Djabwurrung Gunnai Gunditjmara woman Lidia Thorpe, said the package would see $200,000 provided to each Stolen Generations Member nationally.

“It has been 24 years since the Bringing Them Home Report, which recommended a number of solutions for our Stolen Generation peoples across this country, however, no Federal Government has ever implemented such a scheme. “I have seen so many of our people pass away waiting for justice, waiting for peace. This is my community, this is our community, and our people continue to live in poverty. They continue to feel the effects of being taken away from their families and their communities,” she said.

You can read the full article by the National Indigenous Times here.

Image Credit: SavingMarriage2011.blogspot.com

Quick action helps stop rheumatic fever spread

Early this month, the WA Centre for Rural Health, Centacare Family Services and the Geraldton Regional Aboriginal Medical Service (GRAMS) put their heads together to get people in Mount Magnet thinking about rheumatic heart disease. About 80 children in the Mid West and Gascoyne suffer from the illness, which is preventable and occurs 60 times more often in Indigenous children than their non-Indigenous peers.

While on a 12-week placement in Mount Magnet, WA Centre for Rural Health social work students Emily Johnson and Brianna Nugent developed a plan, under the guidance of Mid West rheumatic heart disease clinical nurse and GRAMS Mount Magnet outreach nurse Ros Robinson, to get families talking about rheumatic heart disease. They collaborated with local childcare service Bidi Bidi, run by Centacare, to reach community members at risk of an RHD diagnosis, holding one workshop for adults and another for children.

“The main messages we are getting out are wash your hands, don’t share towels and bed, watch your respiratory hygiene and take your child to the doctor if you notice a sore throat, weak limbs or skin sores,” Ms Robinson said.

Read the full story in Pilbara News here.

WA Centre for Rural Health social work students Emily Johnson and Brianna Nugent with Geraldton Regional Aboriginal Medical Service Mount Magnet outreach Doctor Rohan Carter and nurse Ros Robinson.

Innovative diabetes trial launches in south west Sydney

Campbelltown’s Tharawal Aboriginal Medical Service (AMS) has seen ‘outstanding results’ in clients participating in a trial to show Type Two diabetes remission can be achieved through a weight management program. Eight Tharawal AMS clients aged 49 to 63 are participating in the DiRECT-Aus research trial in two phases, with clients in the first phase already experiencing weight loss of up to 15kg and improving their glycemic control without the use of diabetes medications.

The trial is a partnership between Diabetes NSW and ACT, five primary health networks, including the South Western Sydney Primary Health Network (SWSPHN), and the University of Sydney. Dietitian Renee Zahar is part of the specialist team – including a GP and registered nurse – overseeing the project at Tharawal AMS. She said the trial gave her clients access to a free diet replacement product which caused rapid weight loss, the support of the specialist team and other clients and education about healthy food choices. “The results have been outstanding,” Ms Zahar said.

“What I am most thrilled about is the positive impact it’s had mentally on the clients. Their relationship with food has changed, it’s incredible. They are more in control, have greater energy, and are fitter and stronger. “It has also had a profound impact on their families – family members have lost weight because of healthier food choices.”

You can read the full story in the Campbelltown MacArthur Advertiser here.

Tharawal Aboriginal Corporation AMS mosaic logo reveal.

New campaign puts focus on non-physical forms of  family violence

A new awareness campaign has been launched by the Queensland Government during Domestic and Family Violence Prevention Month to help identify all forms of domestic and family violence. “We know domestic and family violence isn’t just physical,” the Premier said. “Often it involves financial abuse, social abuse, isolation or even the use of technology to torment. All of these things can be just as dangerous as physical abuse.

“This new campaign aims to educate Queenslanders on how to recognise all forms of domestic and family violence and what support is out there.

You can read the full story in the National Tribune here.

Campaign resources are available here, and you can you the campaign video here.

Domestic and Family Violence can take many forms – Queensland Government campaign.

Why making coercive control a crime is being debated

As SBS airs ‘See What You Made Me Do’ – a landmark documentary series about domestic abuse – four women have their say about coercive control, the most common risk factor in the lead up to a domestic violence homicide. Coercive control is a deliberate pattern of abuse that can isolate a partner from their friends and family, restrict their movement, and see them being monitored. It can include emotional and psychological manipulation along with social, financial and technology-facilitated abuse.

But while those working to prevent domestic violence in Australia agree coercive control needs to be urgently addressed, there is no consensus regarding how best to tackle it. Some of those working to support survivors of domestic violence worry about the unintended consequences that criminalising behaviour may have for women – particularly those from marginalised communities.

You can read the SBS story here.

Domestic violence. Image credit: The Conversation.

NSW health services invited to participate in Ironbark study

The Ironbark Project is inviting NSW services that work with groups of older Aboriginal people (45 years and older) to participate in the Ironbark study. The study compares the health impacts of two programs: Standing Strong and Tall program and Healthy Community program.

The Ironbark Project will fund and train services to run one of these programs weekly for 12 months. Join our information session on 3 June to find out more. Email ironbark@unsw.edu.au for the zoom link, or for more information, visit the Ironbark Project website here.

The Ironbark Project

31 May is World No Tobacco Day

This yearly celebration informs the public on the dangers of using tobacco, the business practices of tobacco companies, what World Health Organization is doing to fight the tobacco epidemic, and what people around the world can do to claim their right to health and healthy living and to protect future generations.

If you need help to quit smoking, call Quitline on 13 78 48 and ask for an Aboriginal advisor. #WNTD2021

Check out this great ‘Commit to Quit’ video by the Aboriginal Health & Research Council of NSW.

World No Tobacco Day video created by the NSW Government and the Aboriginal Health & Research Council of NSW in partnership with Wagana Aboriginal Dancers.

AHCWA has also created a great campaign on Facebook:

World No Tobacco Day campaign

World No Tobacco Day campaign ‘Commit to Quit’ by the Aboriginal Health Council of Western Australia.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Coalition of Peaks – 2021 National Reconciliation Week Statement

Coalition of Peaks – National Reconciliation Week 2021 Statement

Reconciliation requires action from all Australians! This year’s Reconciliation Week urges the reconciliation movement towards braver and more impactful action.

A reconciled nation is where Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have full control over our own destinies; where we live freely and equally, unencumbered by trauma and poor life outcomes; and where there is true recognition of our rights as First Peoples of this land, and our cultures and languages are honoured, protected and flourish.

The historic Partnership and National Agreements on Closing the Gap provide a framework for all governments, policy makers, service delivery organisations and institutions, and all Australians, to take meaningful and impactful action towards reconciliation. They are centred on what Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have been saying for decades is needed to achieve equality in life outcomes between our peoples and other Australians, whilst strengthening our right to self-determination and identity as First Nations peoples.

The National Agreement is built around four Priority Reforms that will support lasting change for our peoples. They are: building new partnerships between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and organisations and governments to share in decisions that impact on our lives; strengthening the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled organisations to deliver services and programs to our peoples; transforming government agencies, institutions and organisations to address systemic racism and make them more accountable to our peoples; and improving the sharing of data and information with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations so we can make more informed decisions about our future.

The foundations have been set to improve the life outcomes of our peoples. Governments, policy makers, service delivery providers and organisations and all Australians need to transform the way they engage with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples centred on the Priority Reforms.

This year’s Reconciliation Week is a chance to take action and do your part to implement the National Agreement on Closing the Gap and the Priority Reforms and contribute to a more reconciled nation!

The Coalition of Peaks challenge every Australian on this Reconciliation journey to action

  • Become familiar and learn about both the Partnership and National Agreements
  • Support their implementation and promote them in your own organisation or business
  • Encourage your community to become involved
  • Talk to governments on how to apply the commitments under the Agreements to communities and organisations across the country
  • Make sure our precious Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled media sector is involved in all communications about the Agreements.

For more info on the Coalition of Peaks and the National Agreement click here.

Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Committee to hear from Gayaa Dhuwi Australia

Today, the first day of National Reconciliation Week, the House Select Committee on Mental Health and Suicide Prevention will hear from Mr Tom Brideson, CEO of Gayaa Dhuwi – Proud Spirit – Australia the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander social and emotional wellbeing, mental health and suicide prevention leadership body.

The theme for National Reconciliation Week 2021, #MoreThanAWord #ReconciliationTakesAction, is fitting as the Committee turns its focus to identifying impactful measures to support mental health reform, suicide prevention, and improved wellbeing.

Chair, Dr Fiona Martin MP, said ‘The Committee looks forward to hearing from Gayaa Dhuwi to develop a better understanding of issues around accessibility to culturally-appropriate mental health services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. The Committee is particularly interested in how the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mental health workforce can be strengthened to meet urban, rural and regional demand.’
Read the media release here.

New COVID-19 vaccine info videos in multiple languages to share

Please find below the list of videos about COVID vaccines made with, and for, NT Aboriginal communities.

Please share with friends and family, your networks and your patients.

NEW: COVID vaccine video info in Warlpiri https://vimeo.com/546459199

Tiwi: COVID vaccine video https://vimeo.com/539397497

Kunwinjku:

VIDEO 1: COVID-19 vaccine Q and A in Kunwinjku: is the vaccine safe? https://vimeo.com/530210584

VIDEO 2: COVID-19 vaccine Q and A in Kunwinjku: will the vaccine make us sick? https://vimeo.com/530555394

VIDEO 3: COVID-19 vaccine Q and A in Kunwinjku: what will happen when I get the vaccine?https://vimeo.com/530227011

Ngangi’kurunggurr: COVID-19 vaccine message https://vimeo.com/530227483

Burarra: Covid-19 vaccine message https://vimeo.com/529881168

Murrinh-patha: Covid-19 vaccine info https://vimeo.com/529069067

Yolngu Matha:

VIDEO 1: Covid-19 vaccine info for Yolŋu: why do we need a vaccine? https://vimeo.com/528170651

VIDEO 2: Covid-19 vaccine info for Yolŋu: What is the vaccine? Is the vaccine safe? https://vimeo.com/528179594

VIDEO 3: Covid-19 vaccine info for Yolŋu: What happens when I get the vaccine? How will I feel after I get the vaccine? https://vimeo.com/528204566

VIDEO 4: Covid-19 vaccine info for Yolŋu: How does the vaccine affect people with chronic conditions? Do pregnant women and children get the vaccine?  https://vimeo.com/528212696

VIDEO 5: If you have questions about the COVID-19 vaccine, ask your AHP, nurse or doctor. Or call the COVID hotline on 1800 020 080 https://vimeo.com/528217170

English:

Charlie King gets jabbed: https://vimeo.com/531059554

COVID-19 vaccine Q and A with Charlie King and Dr Jane Davies https://vimeo.com/528131800

COVID-19 vaccine info from Aunty Bilawara Lee https://vimeo.com/528579786

COVID-19 vaccine info for renal patients. A message by Ingrid Clarke. https://vimeo.com/547294892

Still to come: Arrernte

Updated info: Vaccine storage, dose allocations, transfer of vaccine stock and more

ATAGI/THANZ statement
For your information, ATAGI released a joint statement on Sunday, 23 May with the Thrombosis and Haemostasis Society of Australia and New Zealand (THANZ) on Thrombosis with Thrombocytopenia Syndrome (TTS) and the use of COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca.

The statement reaffirms that for people aged 50 years and over, the expert medical advice is that the benefit of receiving the vaccination outweighs the risk of this rare but serious side-effect.

This statement and a letter from the Chief Medical Officer (CMO) has been distributed to all primary care vaccination providers. We have also attached the talking points that practices have received to support their conversations with patients on the risks and benefits of the AstraZeneca vaccine.

Your assistance in ensuring all general practitioners know and understand the latest advice and in directing any concerns to the available resources is much appreciated.

The, Phase 1B peak comms and following documents provide updated information about vaccine storage period, dose allocations, transfer of vaccine stock, social media posts and tiles, checking patient medical history and updated resources.

These documents are intended to provide you with regular updates and information to assist you with talking points if any questions arise.

For additional talking points or information please contact covidvaccinecomms@health.gov.au

Applications open for Oxfam’s leadership program for First Nations women

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women from across Australia can now apply to participate in a weeklong summit in Canberra to build their political engagement skills to make positive changes in their communities. Part of Oxfam Australia’s Straight Talk program – which is now in its 12th year – the national summit will run from 17-22 October.

The immersive program aims to empower Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women to learn more about, and participate in, the political system. Over 10 years, the program has empowered more than 850 First Nations women, by connecting them with Australia’s political system while building their capacity as changemakers. Oxfam’s Straight Talk Coordinator, Worrin Williams, said the program allows women to become comfortable engaging with the federal political system by giving them practical tools, and building connections and confidence.

For more information click here.

RACGP leads in reconciliation ‘we can all work towards’

The theme for the 2021 National Reconciliation Week calls for a reconciliation movement towards a ‘braver and more impactful action’.

Recognised each year as a time for all Australians to learn about shared histories, cultures, and achievements, it is an opportunity to explore how reconciliation can be achieved through this collaboration.

Chair of RACGP Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Professor Peter O’Mara told newsGP the college has helped to spearhead the reconciliation movement through its Innovate Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) 2020–22.

‘The RACGP is a leader in the space of reconciliation, and with the direction of our RAP, it gives Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and non-Indigenous Australians a further voice to move forward in the right direction and know that it is the right thing,’ he said.

‘Reconciliation is more than a word – it is a powerful action that we can all work towards.’

To mark National Reconciliation Week, the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) is calling on all Australians, governments, and institutions to take continued action and commitment towards reconciliation, and to reflect and communicate about the ways reconciliation can be supported.

‘If we can work together as a nation to address the disparity across different areas, we can deliver on reconciliation outcomes and start closing the gap,’ NACCHO Chair Donnella Mills said.

‘Until Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are fully engaged and have control over their health and wellbeing, any “refresh” will be marginal at best and certainly won’t close the gap.’

Read the full story in newsGP here. 

The RACGP has committed to improving the knowledge, skills and abilities required to deliver culturally responsive, inclusive health services.

130,000 Additional Vaccines for Victoria

The Australian Government is releasing an additional 130,000 vaccines to support Victoria to accelerate vaccinations in the state, including in the Whittlesea Local Government Area.

This support will be provided through an immediate release of 40,000 doses this week and an additional 15,000 doses each week for six weeks.

Further, from Monday, the Altona North Commonwealth Vaccination Clinic will commence vaccination with the Pfizer vaccine, this is in addition to the AstraZeneca vaccine they are currently administering.

Read the full media release from the Hon Greg Hunt MP, Minister for Health and Aged care here.

medical tray of COVID-19 vaccine syringes

Image source: Surf Coast Times.

Pandemic communications what we have learnt? 

It’s timely to check out the Croakey – independent, in-depth social journalism for health archive on #HealthCommunications, at a time when there is such an urgent need to improve communications around COVID-19 vaccination.

Read the detailed report and documents by public health experts in Croakey Health Media here.

Overview of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health status 2020 now available

The most recent indicators of the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are documented in the Australian Indigenous Health InfoNet’s authoritative publication, the  Overview of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health status 2020.

As part of the Health InfoNet’s commitment to knowledge exchange, other resources have been produced to access this information including a plain language infographic Summary version of the Overview’s key topics and  PowerPoint slides based on the Summary.

Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet logo of goanna & Aboriginal dot painting

Caring for Spirit and the Sharing the Wisdom of Our Elders report launch Invite

The Aboriginal Health & Ageing Program at NeuRA would like to invite you to attend the launch of the Caring for Spirit online dementia education and training resources. Caring for Spirit has been co-designed with the Koori Growing Old Well Study, partners and wider networks, with funding support from the Department of Health Dementia and Aged Care Services Fund.

This launch will take place:
On: Wednesday, 16th June 2021
At: Campbelltown Catholic Club (in the Emily room)
20 – 22 Camden Rd,
Campbelltown NSW 2560
From: 10.00am – 2.00pm (Lunch provided)

Please find below the invite to the launch.

You can view the launch via this link.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Technology brings better health care to Tjuntjuntjara

Feature tile - Tues 25.5.21 - telehealth & remote communities

Technology brings better health care to Tjuntjuntjara

In one of the most remote communities in the world, the Aboriginal community of Tjuntjuntjara in WA, telehealth and the use of My Health Record have transformed health care delivery.

Tjuntjuntjara is 650km north east of Kalgoorlie in the Great Victoria Desert in WA. There are about 160 people living at Tjuntjuntjara – they speak a southern variety of the Pitjantjatjara language and identify as belonging to a group of people known as Pilanguṟu, meaning ‘from the spinifex plains’.

For the last 10 years, the Aboriginal community-controlled Spinifex Health Service in Tjuntjuntjara has had a fly-in/fly-out (FIFO) GP and other health professionals through the Adelaide-based Kakarrara Wilurrara Health Alliance (KWHA).

With the advent of COVID-19 and the closure of the WA border to the KWHA planes and health professionals from SA, there were no doctors or allied health outreach professionals able to go to Tjuntjuntjara for more than ten months from March 2020 to January 2021.

This is when digital health provided the answer. With telehealth the clinic was able to continue to have a high level of health care for chronic conditions, preventive activities and mental health issues.

“Our organisation is committed to working in deep partnership with the Aboriginal community-controlled health sector to foster and earn their trust and respect in our joint pursuit to improve health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities,” said Australian Digital Health Agency CEO Amanda Cattermole.

Over the last six months, the Agency has established eight delivery partnerships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health organisations to support the co-design and uptake of digital health, implemented a cultural competency training program for agency staff, implemented procurement protocols to support local Indigenous businesses, and commenced implementation of a My Health Record and digital health eLearning module with CPD accreditation for Aboriginal Health Practitioners.

Read the full media release here.

Tjuntjuntjara from the air

Tjuntjuntjara from the air. Image source: Australian Digital Health Agency website.

New partnership enhances health and wellbeing support

Three national Indigenous-led and controlled services have signed a foundational partnership agreement to collaborate in delivering high quality, culturally informed and responsive programs to Indigenous communities affected by suicide and other social and emotional wellbeing trauma across Australia.

Indigenous Consulting Group and Corporate Culcha, as partners in the National Wellbeing Alliance, have partnered with Thirrili Ltd, who deliver the National Indigenous Postvention Service, to expand and enhance the work of all three organisations in supporting Indigenous families and communities.

“This partnership will ensure our organisations collaborate on the critical work we each do with families and communities, to assist in restoring capacity for Indigenous Australians to improve their social, emotional and cultural wellbeing and to stem the high rates of suicide,” said Thirrili Chief Executive Officer, Jacqueline McGowan-Jones.

This partnership will see enhanced capability of the partners to collaborate in their work to support communities to co-design and deliver supports at the local and regional level.

Read full story by Medianet here.

National Indigenous Postvention Services

Image Credit: thirrili.com.au.

Improved record access for Stolen Generations survivors

The Healing Foundation, in collaboration with the Australian Society of Archivists, has developed an online education package to highlight the vital importance of records access for Stolen Generations survivors and their descendants who have been affected by forced removal policies.

The Better Access to Stolen Generations Records learning module has been designed to assist archivists, information and support workers, new and existing professionals, and students seeking to build specialised skills to support survivors and their families.

The resources will help the sector describe the historical background of the Stolen Generations, including information relating to government policies around child removal and highlight the ongoing impacts of these policies on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples today, including the recognition of intergenerational trauma.

The Healing Foundation CEO Fiona Cornforth said the training module provides a range of resources on key historical and social matters relating to the forced removal of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children from their communities.

To view the training package visit the Australian Society of Archivists website.

Read the full media release here.

Intergenerational Trauma video

Intergenerational Trauma video by Healing Foundation.

International grant for zero new HIV infections in Australia

The first Australian Grant recipient is a new project by the Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations (AFAO) in partnership with the Anwernekenhe National HIV Alliance (ANA) to develop, a new program of HIV health promotion for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and workforce capacity building materials for health workers engaged with Indigenous people.

Rates of HIV and STIs among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people remain disproportionately high when compared with non‑Indigenous people, with the rate of HIV diagnoses in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people now over two times the diagnosis rate in Australian born non-Indigenous people.

The AFAO and ANA program will provide Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and health workers with resources, knowledge, strategies and skills to help respond to these disproportionate rates of HIV and STIs experienced among this population.

“While Australia’s HIV treatment and prevention effort is world-leading, we have not made enough progress among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. The most powerful HIV responses are grounded in the values and practices of the communities they serve. These resources
will strengthen the HIV response for Australia’s First Peoples,” said Darryl O’Donnell, CEO at AFAO.

“Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities will benefit greatly from HIV programs crafted specifically for them and by them. This is an important initiative that we warmly welcome,” said Colin Ross, Chair of Anwernekenhe National HIV Alliance (ANA).

“We are committed to working in partnership with the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health sector and AFAO to fulfil this innovative work. This funding from Gilead will assist in strengthening our work and resolve in ‘Getting to Zero’ across our community for HIV and STIs,” concluded Mr Ross.

Read the full story here.HIV image

Opportunities available with this year’s Census

The Census counts every person and home in Australia. It helps plan for community needs and is used to make decisions about schools and early learning, health clinics, housing, aged care, jobs, roads, language centres and community programs. That’s why it’s important that we count all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

The Census is happening this August and the Australian Bureau of Statistics has a growing network of local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff and wishes to share some key information on job opportunities and resources available.

Key information about the Census

  • The Census is on Tuesday 10 August 2021.
  • The Census is a national count of every person and home in Australia. It asks questions about our communities, who we are, where we live and about people living and staying with us.
  • The Census helps to tell the story of communities over time. It can show community strengths and what’s needed to help them continue to grow.
  • The Census is used to make decisions about schools and early learning, health clinics, housing, aged care, jobs, roads, language centres and community programs.
  • Having the right numbers means the right services can be provided for communities. For example, knowing the number of babies in a region can help plan funding for preschools or mums and bubs’ health programs.
  • People living in cities and regional areas will either get a letter with instructions on how to complete online, or a paper form. You can start as soon as you get instructions if you know who’ll be home on Census night, Tuesday 10 August.
  • Census staff will be in remote communities and will do face to face interviews with people living and staying there in July and August 2021.
  • We are hiring. Visit here for more information about paid jobs. For many roles, we’re looking for people who have local knowledge and connections in their community.
  • Your personal information is protected by law and isn’t shared with anyone. This includes other government agencies.

Visit here for more information.

Going home to Dreamtime

A Queensland Program of Experience in the Palliative Approach has created a culturally appropriate flyer that aims to provide Aboriginal people in the South West region of WA with information about palliative care and the services available.

The plain language resource explains what palliative care is and provides examples of the support and services available for Aboriginal people and their families throughout the palliative journey, such as:

  • symptom management
  • access to home equipment
  • yarning groups
  • respite support
  • Aboriginal Health Workers.

The flyer also contains a map of palliative care service hub locations in WA’s South West.

  • View the Going Home to Dreamtime resource here.
  • View the Program of Experience in Palliative Approach here.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: RHDAustralia optimistic despite AIHW report

feature tile text 'RHDAustralia remains optimistic despite worrying new AIHW report', image of health professional with stethoscope to small Aboriginal child's chest

RHDAustralia optimistic despite AIHW report

To view the AIHW report Acute Rheumatic Fever and Rheumatic Heart Disease in Australia click here.

health professional with stethoscope to small Aboriginal child's chest

Image source: SBS NITV website.

Vaccinations more important than ever

Viruses like influenza (the flu), COVID-19 and pneumococcal pneumonia can be dangerous, but there are ways to protect yourself and your mob. After more than a year of social distancing and isolating, it’s more important than ever to take steps to protect yourself against vaccine preventable diseases this winter. Getting vaccinated, practicing good hygiene and staying home if you’re unwell will help keep you and your family strong and healthy this winter. Download The Lung Foundation Australia’s Vaccination Tracker and talk to your doctor or community healthcare worker about getting vaccinated to protect yourself and your mob. To view the Lung Foundation Australia’s Protect your mob website page click here.

Aboriginal man with black hoodie sitting at desk with Aboriginal dot paintings, logo superimposed text 'Lung Foundation Australia' with two green leaves with veins representing lungs

Image source: Lung Foundation Australia.

Child eye health messages for parents

In a partnership between the Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (VACCHO) and the Vision Initiative, we have co-developed a series of social media messages for parents, giving a number of tips to help care for children’s eyes. The messages that accompany the tiles were developed in consultation with members of the Aboriginal community in Victoria, facilitated by VACCHO.

The colourful social media tiles, featuring artwork by Tamara Murray, are accompanied by culturally appropriate messages, each with a unique focus, and a call to action: that if your child has any problems with their vision, speak to someone at the local Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisation. You are invited to download the tiles here and share them with your community.

collage of part of 3 social media tiles for parents re child eye health, text 'Be sure your eyes are looking good!', 'sleep well, see well!', 'Shades are deadly!' - all tiles have Aboriginal dot painting art of an eye, plus drawing of sunglasses on one, one 'Zzzz's' for sleep

Extracts from VISION 2020 Australia’s social media tiles developed in a partnership between VACCHO and the Vision Initiative.

Time for cultural determinants health approach

In an Croakey article titled On the Federal Budget, it’s time for a reframe Melissa Sweet examines ways in which budget measures as a whole could contribute to better health for all over time. Among the recommendations is to embed a cultural determinants of health approach into policy for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with flexible implementation to enable responses tailored to individual communities, and governments should resource Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and organisations to effectively develop and implement cultural determinants of health programs that meet the needs of their communities.

To view the article in full click here.

Illawarra Aboriginal health worker Dale Wright wearing shirt with Aboriginal art, against cement wall looking at camera with hands outstretched

Illawarra Aboriginal health worker Dale Wright. Image source: Illawarra Mercury.

Hopes for increased healing commitments

The Healing Foundation will be looking for strong evidence of the Government’s commitment to greater healing efforts for First Nations peoples, especially for Stolen Generations survivors and their descendants, in Tuesday’s Federal Budget announcements.

The Healing Foundation CEO Fiona Cornforth said the Government had engaged strongly with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and organisations throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and during special events like the Anniversary of the Apology and would like to see this goodwill and support continue into the long term with strong policies and partnerships and major reforms.

In its ‘Healing the Nation’ Pre-Budget Submission 2021–22, The Healing Foundation detailed the need for new funding for a range of initiatives to progress healing for Stolen Generations survivors – including reparations, tailored trauma-aware and healing-informed support for ageing and ailing Stolen Generations survivors, and better access to historical records for survivors; and a National Healing Strategy to address the impacts of intergenerational trauma.

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

4 Aboriginal hands holding another Aboriginal hand

Image source: ORIC website.

EOIs sought for Justice Policy Partnership

The Coalition of Peaks are looking for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with relevant experience and expertise who may be interested in joining the Justice Policy Partnership under the National Agreement on Closing the Gap.

If you have professional experience in the justice sector, on-the-ground knowledge of justice in the community, academic qualifications, lived experience of the justice system, or family experience of the justice system or deaths in custody, and want to be part of an historic opportunity to work in partnership with governments to improve outcomes for our people, please submit an EOI by 17 May 2021.

More details are available on to Coalition of Peaks website. Applications close Monday 18 May 2021.logo - dark orange circle like cog with text ' Expressions of Interest Justice Policy Partnership represenetatives Coalition of Peaks' & CoP logo

National Families Week

National Families Week is held every year between 15 and 21 May, coinciding with the United Nations International Day of Families on 15 May. This day is observed by the United Nations to mark the importance that the international community places on families as the most fundamental units of society, as well as to show concern about their situation in many parts of the world.

All Australians, including community organisations, schools, councils, companies and individuals are invited to participate in National Families Week each year. The enduring theme is ‘Stronger Families, Stronger Communities’.

This theme continues to highlight the important role families play as the central building block of our communities and deliver the message that community wellbeing is enhanced by family wellbeing. For more information click here.

tile text 'Stronger families Stronger communities national families week 15-21 may 2021 www.nfw.org.au' watercolour art houses, trees circle, arch, road

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Pandemic restrictions retrigger trauma for some Stolen Generations survivors

feature tile text 'pandemic health restrictions retrigger trauma for some Stolen Generations survivors' slide from The Healing Foundation video, black line drawing of Aboriginal person holding a pink cracked heart

Pandemic restrictions retrigger trauma

New research released by The Healing Foundation shows that the strong and necessary public health restrictions introduced to contain the COVID-19 pandemic in Australia since early 2020 retriggered trauma for some Stolen Generations survivors. The research data suggests an increased and heightened sense of vulnerability; significant disconnection from family, community, and country; and significant impacts on mental health and wellbeing among an already vulnerable cohort of people.

The Healing Foundation CEO Fiona Cornforth said the research results will assist governments and authorities in future pandemic planning to build on Australia’s world-leading public health efforts to ensure the most vulnerable in the community are protected. “The excellent work of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Advisory Group on COVID-19 – as part of national efforts guided by the National Cabinet – ensured that infection rates were very low in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander populations,” Ms Cornforth said.

To view The Healing Foundation’s media release click here,

black & white collage of 40 portrait shots of Stolen Generations survivors

Image source: Creative Spirits.

ACCHO program reduces recidivism

Tyrone Walter says the Ngudjoong Billa program has put him on a better path. He’s recently completed the 20-week program and said it has helped him get his white card and feel a greater connection to his Aboriginal culture. And now his eyes are set on joining the Army. During its demonstration phase, the program has helped 73 young Aboriginal people reintegrate and transition out of the juvenile justice system. All of those who completed the 20 week program did not re-offend during that time.

Started in 2017, and delivered in partnership between the South Coast Medical Service Aboriginal Corporation (SCMSAC) and the Department of Communities and Justice, the program provides a consistent support network for Aboriginal children exiting custody on the South Coast.

Jordan said Tyrone had gained a lot of confidence from the program which had helped him with his mental health. Jordan said Tyrone was lacking motivation at the start of the program because of his lifestyle choices with drugs and alcohol. But through a slow and intensive approach with a particular focus on strengthening Tyrone’s cultural identity and building his connections to family, community and country, Tyrone is now off drugs and has been for a while.

To view the full article click here.

Tyrone Walter standing between his caseworker Jordan Farrell, and the Minister for Families, Communities and Disability Services Gareth Ward

Tyrone Walter standing between his caseworker Jordan Farrell, and the Minister for Families, Communities and Disability Services Gareth Ward. Image source: South Coast Register.

Facts about COVID-19

In a short video Dr Mark Wenitong, a GP in Indigenous health for 25 years, reminds us to get information about COVID-19 vaccines from trusted sources. You can access the video including a transcript here.

slide from YouTube clip, Dr Mark Wenitong, text 'Dr Mark Wenitong - Find out the facts about COVID-19 vaccines, Hi, it's Dr Mark here. Dr Mark Wenitong Aboriginal GP and Public Health MO

Suicide prevention roadmap

Suicide is the most common cause of death in Australians aged 15–44 years – more common than deaths from motor vehicle accidents or skin cancer (Aleman & Denys 2014). Over 2,500 people die from suicide in Australia each year and more than 65,000 make an attempt.

The Final Advice of the National Suicide Prevention Adviser, announced today, paves the way for a clear roadmap for reform. In particular, the recommendation to establish a National Suicide Prevention Office has the potential to create a significant enhancement of suicide prevention and in turn, save lives. Suicide Prevention Australia, the national peak body for suicide prevention, is urging Governments across Australia to use the findings of the report to drive down suicide rates. Suicide Prevention Australia CEO, Nieves Murray, said, “the Final Report of the National Suicide Prevention Adviser has the potential to be a game changer for suicide prevention in Australia. Immediate uptake of the key recommendations is critical to enable real reform that will save lives.”

To view the Suicide Prevention Australia’s media release in full click here.

painting of grey puzzle pieces, missing piece in the centre shows blue sky & white clouds

Image source: Australian Psychological Society website.

Child protection & adolescent self-harm

A history of child maltreatment is known to elevate the risk of self-harm in adolescence. However, until a recent study this link had not been investigated for Aboriginal children who experience a greater burden of both. This study Patterns of child protection service involvement by Aboriginal children associated with a higher risk of self-harm in adolescence: A retrospective population cohort study using linked administrative data confirms a higher risk of self-harm in adolescence is associated with child maltreatment, especially in middle childhood and concludes that addressing the intergenerational trauma in Aboriginal families is crucial to preventing child maltreatment and informing reforms to child protection responses that can better identify and address the culturally-specific unmet needs of Aboriginal families.

To read the research paper click here.

back of child leaning against outside of railing arms outstretched on the railing over-looking a riven, image in black & grey

Image source: ABC News website.

Cultural training in health services survey ENDS SOON

The Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care (the Commission) has developed a short survey to gain an understanding of the type and level of cultural safety training currently being undertaken by health service organisations. The Commission is committed to ongoing and evolving culturally safe practices, which are developed in consultation with, and determined by, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

The NSQHS Standards define six actions that specifically meet the needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. One of the six actions states: “The health service organisation has strategies to improve the cultural awareness and cultural competency of the workforce to meet the needs of its Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients.” The Commission is calling on feedback to assist in the development of resources to strengthen cultural safety training and support services in implementing this action.

Click here to complete the survey for your organisation. The survey is open until Friday, 23 April 2021, and takes up to 10 minutes to complete.

You can read more about the survey here.

torso of healthcare professional with blue scrubs & stethoscope with hands over patient's hand

Image source: NursingCE.com website.

Stop it at the Start campaign

The Stop it at the Start campaign encourages adults to positively influence the attitudes and behaviours of young people aged 10–17 by role modelling positive behaviour, calling out disrespect and starting conversations about respect. It aims to unite the community around positive actions everyone can take to break the cycle of disrespect, and ultimately, violence against women.

Community influencers and campaign supporters Kristy Masella, Andy Saunders, Renee Thomson, and Sean Choolburra share a common message—even the simplest, smallest actions can make a big difference for young people, and for our community.

To access a range of Stop it at the Start resources released earlier this week click here. Please note, in this document the link for the Sean Choolburra & his daughter Tyra – Tips on how to speak up when you see disrespect video does not work, this link does.

To view the Australian government’s Unmute yourself – speaking up to end violence against women media release in full click here. and to access an editorial from Darumbal woman Kristy Masella, campaign supporter for the Stop it at the Start campaign click here.

Kristy Masella campaign supporter for the Stop it at the Start campaign, leaning against a brick wall smiling at the camera, blurred background of city street, text 'when it comes to talking to my daughters about respecct, I often draw on personal examples of things I've experienced or reflected on myself. I talk abou the disrespectful behaviours that I accepted at times in my life or thought were normal. Violence against women Let's Stop It at the start. For tools and resources visit respect.gov.au

Sexual wellbeing – what we do well

A recent research project, Fostering the sexual wellbeing of Aboriginal young people by building on social, cultural and personal strengths and resources has looked at how urban Aboriginal young people foster sexual health and wellbeing for themselves and others. The project purposely sought to adopt a strengths-based approach by identifying the resources and capacities of Aboriginal young people to minimise harm and promote health.

More specifically, the project aimed to explore the community resources that Aboriginal young people access to help them make positive sexual choices, inform their understandings of sexual health and relationships, manage their sexual wellbeing, and engage with health promotion and health care services. The research will provide health services and policymakers with insightful new knowledge to better support young urban Aboriginal people and their communities.

For further information on the project click here.

rear view of two Aboriginal youth walking down a road in Redfern, derelict terrace houses & entire wall painted with Aboriginal flag & graffiti

Image source: The Sydney Morning Herald.

Healing Foundation CEO – National Press Club

The Healing Foundation CEO Fiona Cornforth will be addressing the National Press Club in Canberra on Wednesday 2 June 2021. Fiona will be releasing The Healing Foundation’s “Make Healing Happen: It’s time to act” report. The report sets out a plan with recommendations to achieve real and lasting healing for Stolen Generations Survivors and to promote intergenerational healing. The address will be televised live on ABC TV.

The details of the event are here.

banner for National Press Club of Australia event Fiona Cornforth CEO of the Healing Foundation "Make Healing Happen: It's Time to Act"' & portrait shot of Fiona Cornforth

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Embedding cultural determinants of health in policy

feature tile text ' Lowitja Institute report offers blueprint for embedding cultural determinants of health in policy & practice

Embedding cultural determinants in health policy

A new report published by Lowitja Institute provides a blueprint for placing culture at the core of policies affecting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, showing how the cultural determinants of health can be implemented into policy and practice.

Lowitja institute CEO Dr Janine Mohamed said the report Culture is key: towards cultural determinants-driven health policy outlines how culture is a protective factor for health and wellbeing and needs to be integrated and valued within health policy frameworks and programs, and also in broader government policies. “For Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, the cultural determinants are an essential part of our identity and are protective factors of health and wellbeing, anchored in ways of knowing, doing and being that have continued for tens of thousands of years,” she said. “However, this holistic concept of health is often neglected in government approaches to our health and wellbeing because it does not align with dominant culture or western perspectives and is not understood or fully appreciated by policymakers,” she said.

Dr Mohamed said the new Closing the Gap National Agreement and the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan refresh offer a unique window of opportunity for the government to invest in cultural determinant-driven whole-of-government policy.

To view the Lowitja Institute’s media release in full click here.

Lowitja Institute is hosting a webinar on Thursday 29 April 2021 to support the release of the report. For more details or to register for the webinar, click here. For more information about the report or to arrange an interview with Dr Janine Mohamed, please contact Amy Hofman on 0405 114 930.

young Aboriginal girl Allorah Saunders with face paint, wearing t-shirt with Aboriginal flag, hanging from a bar, head half concealed by her arm

Allorah Saunders, whose health care is provided by the Tharawal Aboriginal Corporation Medical Service in western Sydney. Photo: Steven Siewert. Image source: Oxfam Australia.

Mental health & suicide prevention interim report

The House Select Committee on Mental Health and Suicide Prevention (the Select Committee) has released its interim report. The Committee’s interim report includes an update on the Committee’s activities to date, and emerging themes identified through recent reports into Australia’s mental health system and engagement with the Productivity Commission, National Mental Health Commission and Department of Health.

Chair of the Committee, Dr Fiona Martin MP, said ‘The interim report provides a snapshot of the breadth of work underway on mental health and suicide prevention. It also identifies some areas that the Committee feels need further examination as the inquiry progresses. These areas include the divide between public and private mental healthcare, coordination and funding of mental health services, affordability, the growth of telehealth and digital services in response to COVID-19, and the role of professional bodies in advocating for, regulating and supporting the workforce.’

To view the media release in full click here.

drawing of a bust sliced into 7 sections, inside of slices is red, outside of slices are white, reflected on black surface, dark grey background

Image source: The Medical Journal of Australia.

The Hon David Coleman MP, Assistant Minister to the Prime Minister for Mental Health & Suicide Prevention delivered a speech at the Suicide Prevention Australia Symposium 2021 earlier today in which he released the National Suicide Prevention Adviser’s final advice.

pile of 4 lots of paper with dog clips on desk, potted plant blurred in background

Image source: The Mandarin.

Change makers create future they want

“We can all be superheroes, we can save the world, we’ve just got to care enough to do it,” says JK-47, the 23-year-old rising star of Australian rap on what he is trying to communicate through his music. He is one of the passionate change makers who answered the call the ABC put out for young people to tell them how they are coping with a world that is increasingly scary.

It is hard not to feel disempowered in the face of stories about climate change, racism, new wars, and now global pandemics — particularly when you are young. However, the teenagers and 20-somethings featured in the article have discovered a way to create the future they want to grow into.

To view the full ABC News article click here.

black & white photo of rapper JK-47's face with white paint lines, fingers raised to face against trunk of a gum tree

JK-47’s debut album Made For This features lyrics about the daily injustices First Nation people face. Photo: Kiarney Mulyono. Image source: ABC News website.

Healthy sexual relationships campaign

WA’s new HealthySexual campaign is all about preventing, testing, treating and talking to minimise the personal and social impact of sexually transmitted infections (STIs). With outbreaks of infectious syphilis occurring in metropolitan, regional and remote parts of the state and notifications rising over the past five years, it’s a timely reminder to be aware of and talk about sexual health.

In 2020, notifications of infectious syphilis in WA were 26% higher than the previous year. The Department of Health’s Sexual Health and Blood-borne Virus Program Manager, Lisa Bastian said outbreaks of STIs over much of the state had placed populations at risk and prompted a more mainstream prevention campaign for the general community. She said an outbreak that started in the Kimberley region in June 2014 had spread to the Pilbara in February 2018 and the Goldfields in January 2019.

To view the Government of WA Department of Health’s media release click here.

banners from WA Healthy Sexual Campaign text 'anyone can be a Healthy Sexual, Talk, Test, Protect, When you look after yourself, you look after all of us' talk has a photo of a girl with glasses & very broad smile, test has a photo of a man with eyeshadow with hands holding rainbow coloured braces, protect has bald man with goaty beard & hawaiian shirt, last slide has a young smiling woman with long wavy golden hair

Image source: Government of WA Department of Health.

Deaths in custody, every family has a story

A detective visited the parents of a young Aboriginal man; a warrant had been issued for their son’s arrect. ‘We’re going to get your son; he’s going to be locked up,’ the detective told them. ‘But if you get him to come around now, I can guarantee you that the arrest will be a non-eventful process. He won’t be harmed; we’ll put him into custody, he’ll serve his time and then he can get on with his life.’

The request went against their instincts, but the parents agreed. When their son arrived, however, the promise fell through. ‘They grabbed him, ruffed him up and smashed him into the fence, causing a head injury,’ Professor Peter O’Mara, a Wiradjuri man and Chair of RACGP Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health, told newsGP. ‘That young man then went into the system. Approximately one week later, he died.’

To view the newsGP article in full click here.

Aboriginal flag billowing in the wind

On average, one Aboriginal life is lost in custody every three weeks. Image source: newsGP.

Stan Grant has written an in-depth analysis of the reasons for Aboriginal deaths in custody in his article Aboriginal deaths in custody reflect the poor health of Australia’s democracy. His article begins with some frightening statistics ‘3% of the population comprise nearly 30% of those behind bars. Look closely and it becomes even more alarming. In WA, 40% of prisoners are Indigenous. In the NT, it is more than 80%. Among youth it is even worse. Half of all children in detention nationally are Indigenous. In the NT, more than 90% of all juveniles detained are black.’

‘Despite the recommendations of the royal commission, we are going backwards. The number of Indigenous people imprisoned has increased 100% in the past three decades. Since 1991, more than 400 Indigenous people have died in custody. Thirty years after the royal commission, things are worse.’

To read Stan Grant’s article click here.

white banner with text in red '30th anniversary' text in black 'roayl commission into Aboriginal deaths in cutody' red text '1991:99 lives; 1991-2021: 500 lives' yeallow text on black separate placard ' Australia is a crime scene under the crown'

Banners at the black deaths in custody Photo: Mitch Abram. Image source: ABC News website.

Young people staying away from jail

Corrie Bell didn’t think he’d make it to his 28th birthday. He’d been taken away from his parents at the age of 15 and didn’t have a lot of hope. “All my life I’ve been living in prison… mentally and emotionally, you know feeling caged in and trapped,” he said. Corie’s a Ngunnawal Kamilaroi man from Campbelltown in south-west Sydney. He told Triple J Hack he had a really rough childhood. “Drugs, alcohol, crime, domestic violence… was very frequent within my family home,” Corie said.

Corie says what he really needed as a kid to keep him out of trouble was stability and guidance from positive role models. Instead he had cops following him, dealers for mates and a bunch of trauma he was trying to drown out. By 18, Corie was sent to jail for robbery and reckless wounding. He says he was so drunk he didn’t even realise where he was.

To view the Triple J HACK article What do young people need to stay away from jail? in full click here.

Uncle Glen from The Glen Centre with white face paint standing in front of 9 men, 8 with faces & chests painted with white paint & one with a black t-shirt & white paint on his forehead

Uncle Glenn (front) says ‘The Glen Centre’ adopts a holistic approach to rehabilitation, with a focus on integrating Indigenous culture and spirituality. Image source: ABC News website.

In a related story, Amnesty International Australia have expressed disappointment that the Committee charged with investigating the proposed youth justice amendments in Queensland has recommended the amendments pass, despite its own report being full of evidence that they will do nothing to address youth crime. The youth justice amendments seek to take a punitive approach to young children who often have complex needs the justice system is ill equipped to address, and which ultimately condemn these kids to life in the quagmire of the criminal justice system. Amnesty International Australia Indigenous Rights Campaigner Maggie Munn gave evidence at the committee hearings.

To view Amnesty International Australia’s media release click here.

two Aboriginal youths in Darwin Don Dale Juvenile Prison

Youth detained in a Darwin prison. Image source: ABC News website.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Acceleration of efforts to reduce overincarceration

feature tile text 'Joint Council agrees to accelerate collective efforts to reduce overincarceration of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people' & photo of an Aboriginal man's hands through prison bars

Acceleration of efforts to reduce overincarceration

The Joint Council on Closing the Gap met today and acknowledged the 30th anniversary of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody and agreed that joined up work between all governments in partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander representatives is critical to reducing the rate at which Indigenous people are incarcerated, and thereby reduce deaths in custody. Given the urgency and enduring nature of this issue Joint Council agreed to the high priority of accelerating the critical work to establish a Policy Partnership on Justice with the aim of reducing youth and adult incarceration.

Patricia Turner AM, Lead Convener of the Coalition of Peaks said “It’s vital that governments, in partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander representatives, are taking urgent and decisive steps to address the overincarceration of our peoples. For the first time, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander representatives will be at the table with Ministers, Attorneys’-General, government officials, corrections, policing, housing and health under a formal shared decision making arrangement.”

To view the Coalition of Peaks media release click here.

protest march with placard of Aboriginal flag overlaid with text 'most incarcerated people on earth'

Photo: Getty. Image source: BBC News website.

Aboriginal people still dying in custody

Aboriginal man David Dungay Jr died in a Sydney prison cell in 2015 after officers restrained him to stop him eating biscuits. During the struggle, he was pinned face-down by guards and jabbed with a sedative. Video later shown at his inquest captured his final moments: his laboured breathing and muffled screams under the pack of guards. “I can’t breathe,” he yelled repeatedly.

His case has parallels to that of African-American man George Floyd, whose death triggered global protests against racism and policing in the US. The Black Lives Matter movement also threw a spotlight on Australia’s own incarceration of indigenous people and their deaths in custody.

This week marks 30 years since a landmark inquiry into Aboriginal deaths in custody. The royal commission made hundreds of recommendations to address the crisis. But three decades on, the situation has worsened. Central to the problem is overrepresentation. Indigenous people are about 12 times more likely to be in custody than non-indigenous Australians.

That reality, a product of systemic problems and disadvantage faced by Aboriginal people, has prompted fresh anger over a lack of action. “The system is continuing to kill us and no one’s doing anything about it,” Paul Silva, the nephew of David Dungay Jr, said at a rally this week.

To view the BBC article in full click here.

2 young Aboriginal women BLM protestors, one with t-shirt Always Was Always Will Be holding up hands covered in red paint to indicate blood, other woman holding Aboriginal flag behind her with raised arms, t-shirt with text black' and Aboriginal flag broken into 4 horizontal rectangular segments

Photo: Getty: Image source: BBC News website.

Deaths in custody & intergenerational healing

The Healing Foundation CEO Fiona Cornforth spoke with Dan Bourchier, ABC Radio 666 Canberra ‘Afternoons’ yesterday about the 30-year anniversary of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody and intergenerational healing.

Fiona Cornforth said “it is an important time to do that reflecting. Though it’s something we carry every day, I think, as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Unfortunately, we’re at a point now where we’ve lost hope in recommendations being fully implemented, despite all our voices being in these reports over time and people being generous and courageous to put forward their stories, time and time again. Where the solutions are in community, the solutions are given up as important by those with lived experience. But the powers that be and the complex system, the incarceration system, and all the service providers, the big web just can’t seem to get these recommendations out of the too hard basket.”

You can view a transcript of the interview here.

Aboriginal adult hand with small Aboriginal child's hand holding one of the fingers

Image source: Parks Australia website.

NDIS independent assessments on hold

The Morrison government has decided to delay introducing mandatory independent assessments (IAs) for the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), in a move strongly welcomed by disability groups.

New NDIS Minister Linda Reynolds said earlier this week that she would not be making any decisions around in IAs legislation until an IA trial was finished and the government could examine the feedback. While people currently need to get reports from multiple health providers of their choosing to assess their NDIS eligibility, the new mandatory assessments will be conducted by NDIS-appointed healthcare professionals using standardised tools.

The decision to introduce IAs has been met with overwhelming opposition from disability advocates, who say the process does not adequately capture the complexity of a person’s support needs and will lead to unfair outcomes for people with disability. Reynolds acknowledged the “significant feedback” IAs have already received, and said she would be consulting across the country with as many stakeholders as she could. Disability groups – who feared people would disengage from the scheme entirely because of their unwillingness to engage with IAs – strongly welcomed the minister’s comments.

To view the Pro Bono Australia article in full click here.

rear view of seat and wheel of a wheelchai

Image source: Pro Bono Australia News website.

The more that have the vaccine, the safer we’ll be

NACCHO CEO and lead convenor of the Coalition of Peaks, Pat Turner and NACCHO Deputy CEO, Dr Dawn Casey received their first AstraZeneca vaccines at Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health and Community Services last week. “The more people have the vaccinations, the safer we will be,” said Pat. “We’ve managed to keep our community free of any deaths from COVID-19 to date and we want to continue that outstanding record.”

Contact your local Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation or GP to find out when you can receive your vaccine and to ask any questions you may have. To view the  Pat Turner’s video click here.

photo of Pat Turner receiving vaccine, text 'NACCHO CEO & Lead Convenor of the Coalition of Peaks PAT TURNER'

Review of kidney transplant wait-listing

Research has confirmed poor access to wait-listing for kidney transplantation for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians from the NT. The study found causes of delays to wait-listing included: failure to attend appointments due to competing priorities and communication barriers, access and navigating complex pathways to specialist services, transport, co-morbidities requiring multiple tests and multiple specialty services, and pressures on dialysis and hospital bed capacity.

The study concluded that barriers to wait-listing for kidney transplantation for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians are complex and can be addressed by redesigning healthcare provision, including increasing the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander workforce to provide education and patient navigation of the healthcare system and improve communication, streamlining investigations and coordinating specialist services.

To view the full research paper here.

health professional in green gown, green rubber gloves holding white box with red text ' HUMAN ORGAN FOR TRANSPLANT' against surgical theatre background

Image source: Renal and Urology News.

Lessons from subsidised spectacles scheme

A study has been undertaken to determine what lessons can be learned from the Victorian Aboriginal Spectacles Subsidy Scheme (VASSS). The VASSS, which started in July 2010 and has operated continually since, aims to improve access to visual aids and eye care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Victorians.

An estimated 10,853 VASSS cofunded visual aids were delivered over the first 6 years of the scheme. During that time the mean annual number of comprehensive eye examinations provided within services using VASSS grew 4.6-fold faster compared with the 4 years preceding the VASSS. VASSS achievements were attained through collaborations, flexibility, trust and communication between organisations, all facilitated by funding resulting from evidence-based advocacy.

Access to visual aids and eye examinations by Aboriginal Victorians has improved during the operation of the VASSS, with associated direct and indirect benefits to Aboriginal health, productivity and quality of life. The success of the VASSS may be replicable in other jurisdictions and provides lessons that may be applicable in other fields.

To view the full research paper click here.

Aboriginal man wearing eye test equipment spectacles

Image source: Optometry Australia website.