NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: World Sepsis Day 2022

The image in the feature tile is from the Hartmann Science Center website International Campaign Days webpage.

World Sepsis Day 2022

Sepsis is the body’s overwhelming and life-threatening response to an infection that can lead to tissue damage, organ failure and death. Every 2.8 seconds someone in the world dies from sepsis. Every year at least 18,000 Australian’s are diagnosed with sepsis, with around 5,000 losing their lives.

Sepsis has been coined the “silent killer” – it can rapidly cause death – sometimes within hours, but the signs of sepsis can be difficult to diagnose as early symptoms can be dismissed or confused with simple cold and flu symptoms or other similar conditions. Sepsis happens when the body is fighting an infection but it starts to attack itself. It can damage many parts of the body and cause death.

The best chance of getting better from sepsis is to treat it quickly. The public are being urged to educate themselves and get to know the signs of sepsis. If you suspect sepsis, seek urgent medical attention and never be afraid to ask – It it sepsis?

The below animation is from the T 4 Thomas Is It Sepsis? website here. You can also find more about World Sepsis Day 2022 on the Australian Sepsis Network (ASN) webpage here.

Farewell Uncle Jack Charles

The beloved star of stage and screen Uncle Jack Charles has passed away peacefully surrounded by loved ones. The legendary actor, musician and activist celebrated his 79th birthday last week, and is being remembered as a towering figure of Indigenous culture. In a statement, his family stated that Uncle Jack Charles had suffered a stroke, before passing away at the Royal Melbourne Hospital Tuesday morning. “We are so proud of everything he has achieved in his remarkable life,” reads the statement. “May he be greeted by his Ancestors on his return home.”

The Boon Wurrung Dja Dja Wurrung Woiwurrung Yorta Yorta Elder is well known to generations of Australians as the actor with the treacle vocal cords, his rich baritone the soundtrack to innumerable plays, television programs and movies. His activism for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander progress, especially regarding the Stolen Generations and education, was also an unfailing part of his efforts. Before he passed away, his family were able to send him off on Country during a smoking ceremony at the Royal Melbourne hospital.

To view the SBS NITV article Beloved Elder Uncle Jack Charles passes away in full click here. You can also view Minister for Indigenous Australians, Linda Burney’s media release Passing of Uncle Jack Charles here.

Uncles Jack Charles. Image source: NITV News.

Sowing seeds for a healthy future

A grassroots, community-based approach aims to address poor nutrition in remote Indigenous communities. EON Foundation, which works in partnership with 39 Aboriginal communities and schools to build edible gardens and develop and deliver nutrition programs, is setting up a program in Kalkarindji in the NT. Funding has been provided by the Katherine Region Communities for Children Facilitating Partner program, facilitated by the Smith Family and funded through the Australian Government.

In remote areas like this, accessing  fresh produce can be difficult, with fruit and vegetables  costing up to 50% more than they would in urban areas. As a result, the Victoria Daly Regional Council (VDRC) says 94% of Aboriginal children have an inadequate daily intake of fruit and vegetables. Poor nutrition then leads to health problems like heart and kidney disease and type two diabetes. Phase one of the Kalkarindji project will see a section of the Kalkarindji School grounds transformed into an edible bush tucker and sensory garden. Donna Donzow, the EON Foundation’s NT operations manager, said working closely with the school was a great way to teach kids about healthy eating habits.

To view the Pro Bono Australia article Sowing seeds for a healthy future in Kalkarindji in full click here.

Donna Donzow in front of the garden site. Image source: Pro Bono Australia.

We need to talk about family violence

Doctpr Gracelyn Smallwood does not have time to retire. “Some people my age would be sitting by the beach, drinking pina coladas,” she said with a laugh. “Not me, there’s too much work to do.” The 71-year-old Indigenous health and human rights advocate spoke at the Red Rose Domestic Violence fundraiser luncheon at Victoria Park Golf complex last Friday. “I had to cram about 200 years of knowledge into a 15-minute speech,” Dr Smallwood joked.

Founded in 2016 by chief executive Betty Taylor, the Red Rose Foundation works to address the impact of domestic and family violence in Australian communities. The national charity provides holistic medical, legal and trauma counselling support to victims of “high-harm and high-risk” domestic violence such as strangulation.

Mrs Taylor said Red Rose was honoured to host Dr Smallwood as their keynote speaker. “Gracelyn is an absolute champion of diversity and inclusivity,” Mrs Taylor said. Regarded as one of the most prominent First Nations health and justice experts, Dr Smallwood was a published author, a former consultant to the World Health Organisation, and the recipient of the 2022 Queensland Greats Awards.

To view The Catholic Leader article ‘Changing the ending’ – Why the Red Rose Foundation wants Australia to talk about domestic violence in full click here.

Red Rose founder Betty Taylor and Dr Gracelyn Smallwood. Phot: Martin Pouwelse. Image source: The Catholic Leader.

Quantifying myocardial inflammation

Dr Jessica O’Brien is a cardiologist and PhD student at Monash University and Alfred Health. Dr O’Brien received an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Award from the Heart Foundation for her project Quantifying myocardial inflammation in acute rheumatic fever (ARF) and rheumatic heart disease (RHD). This grant is focused on capacity building and increasing Indigenous representation at all levels of research. Dr O’Brien will use cardiac magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to identify myocardial inflammation (inflammation of the heart muscle) in ARF. The aim is to improve diagnostic accuracy and the ability to predict who is most likely to progress to RHD.

By being able to diagnose acute rheumatic fever early, this will help to improve access to effective medications (antibiotics) to prevent infection. The overall goal is to help reduce the impact of rheumatic heart disease in Australia. Dr O’Brien says, “Because of my background, I have always been interested in Indigenous health, but it wasn’t until I started medical specialist training that I saw the extent of the gap in health outcomes between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians. One of the many contributors to this issue is that there are not enough Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health professionals and researchers, which is important to ensure Indigenous people can receive culturally appropriate, best practice care.”

To view the Heart Foundation article Q&A with Dr Jessica O’Brien in full click here.

Dr Jessica O’Brien. Image source: The Heart Foundation website.

Jalngangurru Health Trial

Cultural (traditional) healing can be used to address physical ailments, social and emotional wellbeing, mental health issues, drug dependence and culture bound syndromes (e.g. being sung). There are varied forms of healing practices from the Kimberley including mabarn, bush medicinal products, the smoking of various woods and leaves, the use of ochre and ceremonial songs, palliative care and child and maternal health.

The Jalngangurru Healing model is being trialled in Derby and Fitzroy Crossing with 19 healers currently registered. The model will enable the healers to be compensated for their work, with cultural safety and security embedded in the model, and will enable the safe keeping of knowledge for future generations. The trial is open until mid December 2022.

Jalngangurru Healing, formerly known as the Traditional Healing Practices Pilot (THPP) is a project managed by the Yiriman Project in partnership with Emama Nguda Aboriginal Corporation, auspiced by the Kimberley Law and Culture Centre (KALACC), funded by the WA Primary Health Alliance (WAPHA), supported by the Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Service (KAMS) and it is being evaluated by Notre Dame University’s Nulungu Research Centre.

You can access Jalngangurru Healing Trial Explainer here and a Jalngangurru Healing Trial Poster here.

Photos: John Reed. Image source: 2022 Jalngangurru Healing.

Winnunuga News August 2022 edition

The August 2022 edition of Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health and Community Services newsletter Winnunga News is now available here. This edition includes a CEO Update and a range of articles including:

  • ACT Budget Leaves Health Behind
  • Poverty in the ACT?
  • AMC Under The Spotlight
  • August Anniversary Events
  • Julie’s Tough Turning Point: Sober Up or Kill Yourself
  • Report Into Death of Detainee at AMC Identifies Serious Shortcomings
  • Keira Brown v. Director General of the Justice and Community Safety Directorate
  • Maconochie’s Experiment
  • COVID-19 and Influenza Update

Sector Jobs

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

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

 

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Improved environmental action needed to CTG

The image in the feature tile is of artwork that appears on the cover of the Australia State of the Environment Report 2021. The painting We All Share Water 2001 is by Gertie Huddleston, Wandarang/Mara peoples.

Improved environmental action needed

Earlier today the Coalition of Peaks (CoPs) issued a media release saying: as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, we have been saying for a long time that we need to have a much greater say in how programs and services are delivered to our people, in our own places, and on our own country. The Australia State of the Environment Report 2021, released last week, reiterates the importance of this.

“The State of the Environment Report’s findings are shocking, but they’re not surprising”, says CoPs Lead Convener Patricia Turner AM. “Our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled organisations see the impacts of colonisation on our Country every day. Our people aren’t involved enough in decision-making on key environmental and heritage issues, to the detriment of the environment. The National Agreement on Closing the Gap outlines formal partnership and shared decision-making, and clearly this mindset needs to be extended to environmental and heritage issues as well”, Ms Turner said. “The report found that Australia’s environment is poorer because of lack of Indigenous leadership, knowledge, and management. We’ve been caring for Country for 65,000+ years – it’s time to listen to what we have to say”, said Ms Turner.

The report also found that ongoing and intergenerational impact and trauma of colonisation continues to adversely affect Indigenous people’s connection to Country and manifests in unacceptable rates of imprisonment, suicide, and unemployment. “This report shows unequivocally that our connection to Country is vital to our wellbeing. We will never close the gap and reach the socio-economic targets in the National Agreement without governments acknowledging our deep, cultural connections to Country”, Ms Turner said.

To view the CoPs media release State of Environment Report highlights need for improved action under the National Agreement on Closing the Gap in full click here.

The devastating 2020 bushfires killed or displaced an estimated 3 billion animals. Photo: James D Morgan. Getty Images. Image source: The Guardian.

Elder reveals mental health demons

A stolen generation survivor has revealed his own mental health demons as he pleads for his community to rally around those with suicidal thoughts. Uncle George Ellis is a “third-generation dispossessed person”, his grandmother brought to Sydney from Tennant creek as a child, his mother growing up at Cootamundra Girls Home and father at Kinchela Boy’s Home. Uncle Ellis was taken to Marella Mission in Kellyville as a boy.

Speaking at the Cox Inall Ridgeway Connect, Reach Out, Heal our Way suicide prevention campaign launch on Wiradjuri land Tuesday, Uncle Ellis spoke of his plight and decision to make a change. “I never thought I’d say this out to people, I’m actually seeing a psychologist,” Uncle Ellis said. “And that’s made a big difference in addressing issues that I’ve had.” Uncle Ellis shared his lived experience and its impact on life, parenting and his own father’s “big decline” later in life from similar tolls from dispossession.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are overrepresented in suicide statistics, accounting for 5.5% of all deaths compared to 1.9 % of non-Indigenous Australians according to the Governments Institute of Health and Welfare’s most recent reporting period.

To view the National Indigenous Times article Stolen Generations Elder bravely reveals mental health demons in rallying cry for community support in full click here.

Uncle George Ellis – Dubbo Suicide Prevention campaign launch. Photo: Brycen Horne. Image source: National Indigenous Times.

Australia urged to join NZ tobacco ‘endgame’

Leading tobacco-control experts have urged the federal government to join NZ in pursuing “endgame” reforms that could eliminate smoking and dramatically close the gap in life expectancy between Indigenous and white Australians. As the Ardern government introduced legislation designed to make tobacco products non-addictive and prohibit the sale of cigarettes to future generations, anti-tobacco campaigners said the Australian government needed to shake a decade of complacency and resume its global leadership role.

While adult smoking rates in Australia are among the lowest in the world, rates among Indigenous Australians remain lethally high. Tobacco-related disease kills more than one-third of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. “We are talking about a significant opportunity for change,” said ANU researcher Raglan Maddox. “If we are talking about closing the gap, eliminating or reducing as far as possible tobacco use is a massive step in the right direction.”

Tom Calma, an Aboriginal social justice campaigner whose work led to the Closing the Gap movement, praised NZ’s ambition and lamented our own. “The New Zealand parliament has embraced this target of a smoke-free Aotearoa. The Australian government hasn’t been so interested.”

To view the WAtoday article Australia urged to join New Zealand in tobacco ‘endgame’ in full click here.

Photo: Dave Hunt, AAP. Image source: The Conversation.

VIRAL: Are You The Cure? film launched

Ilbijerri Theatre Company’s VIRAL: Are You The Cure? is a  deadly short film about smashing hepatitis C. Originally staged as a play which toured in 2018 and 2019, VIRAL is a short film made by Australia’s longest running First Nations theatre company, Ilbijerri, about navigating hepatitis C. The film is one of a suite of works tackling health and social issues, commissioned by Ilbijerri’s long term partners of 15 years, the Victorian Government’s Department of Health. These works are specifically designed for First Nations audiences and are performed and distributed in community spaces, prisons, and health centres across Victoria. Now, in film format, VIRAL is set to reach broader audiences, available via Ilbijerri’s website, and will be further disseminated by myriad partners across the health and justice sector, and many First Nations community groups.

This project has been commissioned by the Victorian State Government via the Department of Health. With special thanks to Liver WELL incorporating Hepatitis Victoria, Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (VACCHO), Victorian Aboriginal Health Service (VAHS), Justice Health via Department of Justice and Community Safety, Thorne Harbour Health, the Burnet Institute, and the Centre for Excellence in Rural Sexual Health (CERSH).

You can view the Ilbijerri Theatre Company’s media release VIRAL: Are You The Cure? A deadly short film about smashing hepatitis C here and the film here. The film below is one of the true stories you can access on the Ibijerri Theatre Company Are You The Cure? webpage.

ACT overincarceration funding ‘not enough’

Faced with disproportionate numbers of First Nations people in prison, the ACT Government has announced it will spend more than $20 million to reduce overincarceration and to improve health services for inmates. But Julie Tongs, head of Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health and Community Services (WNAHCS), which runs a clinic in the Alexander Maconochie Centre (AMC), Canberra’s prison, thinks more must be done.

For perhaps the most progressive jurisdiction in Australia, the ACT’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander prison figures are concerning – as the government recognises. Indigenous people make up less than 2% of the ACT’s population, but nearly a quarter (24.4%) of AMC detainees, January’s Report on Government Services stated. The ACT has the lowest adult imprisonment rates in Australia – but Indigenous people in the ACT are incarcerated at 19 times the rate of the general population (well above the national average of 16 times). And 91% of Indigenous detainees have been imprisoned before.

To view the Canberra Weekly article ACT’s $20M response to Aboriginal overincarceration ‘not enough’ in full click here.

Julie Tongs, CEO of Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health and Community Services. Photo: Kerrie Brewer. Image source: Canberra Weekly.

Preserving language a matter of life and death

With a history stretching back more than 60,000 years, Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, have one of the world’s oldest continuous cultures. But that long history — centuries and generations linked by the common thread of shared languages — is at risk. For thousands of years, Indigenous languages relied on storytelling to pass down historical accounts, and with them a sense of nationhood. In 1788, there were approximately 250 languages and 800 dialects spoken. Today, estimates suggest that just  120 languages are in use.

That number is likely to decrease as more Indigenous communities across the globe lose their languages due to the consequences of colonisation: changes to way of life, land dispossession, assimilation policies and migration, as well as the death of native speakers resulting in the loss of intergenerational transmission of Indigenous language.

As language declines, so too does its associated culture and all the knowledge it has acquired over countless generations. It is yet possible, however, to preserve these ancient languages and cultures — and in doing so, improve medical outcomes for Indigenous communities who have too often missed out on the extraordinary medical advances of recent years and decades.

To view the World Economic Forum article For Australia’s Indigenous communities, preserving their languages is a matter of life and death in full click here.

The Sea of Hands exhibit was part of Australia’s National Reconciliation Week for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders. Image source: World Economic Forum website.

Calls to pause post-intervention alcohol laws

Alcohol bans, first introduced by the Commonwealth during the NT intervention in 2007, lifted in some remote communities after federal legislation expired earlier this month. The end to the bans has coincided with reports from frontline services of a spike in alcohol-related incidents and health presentations, as well as a rise in liquor sales. Independent MLA Robyn Lambley said the end to alcohol restrictions in some remote communities was fuelling domestic incidents in Alice Springs. “What we’re seeing in Alice Springs is the rolling out of an absolute disaster,” she said.

Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance Northern Territory (AMSANT) CEO John Paterson has previously said the organisation had concerns about the “hasty” transition process following the end to the legislation and that more consultation was needed. “We’re predicting that there will be an increase in emergency department admissions, alcohol-related injuries, domestic violence, child safety,” he said in April. Earlier this year, Mr Paterson said he had written to the federal and NT ministers requesting a delay to allow Aboriginal organisations to prepare. He said he could see a future where the alcohol bans were lifted, but that “we’ve got to have good regulations”.

To view the ABC News article Northern Territory government facing calls to pause new post-intervention alcohol laws in full click here.

Chief Minister Natasha Fyles has defended the lifting of alchohol restricitons in dozens of remote communities. Photo: Hamish Harty, ABC News.

New process for job advertising

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: National Diabetes Week 10-16 July

The image in the feature tile is of Professor Louise Maple-Brown (with a patient) who was a Chief Investigator leading a qualitative study, supported by Central Australia Academic Health Science Network (CAASHN) with a Medical Research Future Fund grant to better understand the experiences of Aboriginal youth in Central Australia living with type 2 diabetes. Image source: Australian Health Research Alliance, 16 December 2021.

National Diabetes Week 10-16 July

National Diabetes Week 2022 is on from Sunday 10 July to Saturday 16 July. This year’s awareness week will focus on the emotional health and wellbeing of people living with diabetes.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are almost four times more likely than non-Indigenous Australians to have diabetes or pre-diabetes. Improving the lives of people affected by all types of diabetes and those at risk among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities is a priority for Diabetes Australia. You can view the Diabetes Australia webpage specifically for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people here.

You can also access online e-Learning diabetes modules for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health workers and practitioners on the National Diabetes Services Scheme (NDSS) website here.

SWAMS to extend programs and services

The City of Busselton has announced the South West Aboriginal Medical Service (SWAMS), an ACCHO that provides holistic wrap around services to the Indigenous community in the South West, as the new lease holder for a campsite at Locke Estate in Siesta Park. SWAMS have demonstrated experience in setting up new clinical services, drive, passion and professionalism, across the South West region and across their 35,000sq km footprint.

SWAMS has exciting plans for the campsite and proposes to develop a community hub with family units, dorm buildings, common areas, a caretaker’s residence and a fire pit. SWAMS CEO Lesley Nelson said it proposed to use the campsite as a culturally safe place to deliver social, emotional and physical health programs. “We’re excited for what’s to come, intending to offer a diverse range of services, including youth camps, Elders groups, men’s and women’s groups, cultural immersion and health related programs,” she said.

You can read the Busselton-Dunsborough Mail article City of Busselton partner with South West Aboriginal Medical Service with a lease on Locke Estate in full here.

Representatives from SWAMS Board, CEO Lesley Nelson, SWAMS team and community; along with Busselton City Councillor Anne Ryan, Acting CEO Tony Nottle and City Officers. Image source: Busselton-Dunsborough Mail.

Hearing on NDIS in remote communities

A Disability Royal Commission five-day public hearing on the operation of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) in remote communities began yesterday at the Mparntwe (Alice Springs) Convention Centre. The hearing will explore barriers to accessing the NDIS and disability services faced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with disability in remote and very remote communities.

The recent National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey determined that more than one in ten of the 66,000 First Nations people with profound or severe disability live in remote or very remote locations. The hearing will examine to what extent inaccessibility to services cause or contribute to violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation of Indigenous people with disability. During a previous public hearing, Dr Scott Avery gave evidence that disability in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities was twice as prevalent, more complex and “compressed within a shorter life expectancy” compared to other Australians.

Pat Turner, CEO NACCHO and Lead Convener Coalition of Peaks will be speaking at the public hearing this Thursday alongside representatives from the First Peoples Disability Network (FPDN) and other community-controlled organisations on specific barriers they’ve seen getting in people’s way over and over again when they try to get NDIS disability support.

To view the National Indigenous Times article Disability Royal Commission turns spotlight on Indigenous people in remote communities in full click here.

Disability Royal Commission five-day public hearing on the operation of the NDIS in remote communities. Image source: National Indigenous Times.

Minister Burney on First Nations suicide

The Minister for Indigenous Australians, the Hon Linda Burney MP, has described the Labor Government’s suicide prevention approach, saying it would focus on, “self-determination, respect for First Nations knowledge systems, restoration of culture and First Nations leadership of programs and services.”

In her first major speech about suicide as Minister, Ms Burney told a national webinar audience of mental health leaders, convened by the Centre for Best Practice in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention (CBPATSISP), that the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander suicide rate, “hurts me every time I see it. It hurts all of us. These statistics hurt because they represent people in pain, people we know, families who need to put the pieces of their lives back together.” Indigenous adults die by suicide at twice the rate of other Australians, while for children and teenagers the rate is four times as high.

Ms Burney, a Wiradjuri woman who represents the electorate of Barton in southern Sydney, described her own 2017 loss of her son to suicide, saying he was, “in his 30s and a beautiful young man who found this earth a very difficult and cruel place.” She said suicides were connected to the context of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’s lives. “Too many experience poverty, trauma, marginalisation and discrimination,” she said. “We know we must make progress on all these fronts if we want to see the future First Nations people deserve.”

To view Minister Burney’s media release Minister Burney speaks out about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander suicide in full click here.

How dietitians can make a stronger impact

Diet, nutrition, exercise advice and community programs are as important in rural and metropolitan settings as regional and remote areas, and peer support for health professionals can help deliver better results particularly if resources are limited. A new study from Monash University and Flinders University academics has identified what Australian dietitians and nutritionists need to do to make a stronger impact on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health in the communities they serve.

The study of Australian health workers, published in the Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics (Association of UK Dietitians), looks at how a peer mentoring process, or ‘community of practice’, can support dietitians to work more effectively with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. The majority of dietitians in Australia are non-Aboriginal people, with only 32 individuals of more than 7,500 full members and students self-identifying as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander in 2020, according to Dietitians Australia’s annual report.

To view the Flinders University media release Building peer support for dietitians published yesterday in SCIMEX in full click here.

Nicole Turner, one of only five qualified Aboriginal community nutritionists speaking at the Food Governance Conference 2019, University of Sydney. Image source: Twitter.

UQ academic on incarceration of youth

Lorelle Holland describes herself as a disruptor. The proud Mandandanji woman and University of Queensland (UQ) PhD candidate is relatively new to academia but is already making her mark. Last month, prestigious medical journal The Lancet Child and Adolescent Health published a commentary piece written by Mrs Holland and her PhD supervisory team from the UQ school of Public Health on the incarceration rates of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children.

It is a topic Mrs Holland cannot discuss without getting emotional. “It’s a national crisis,” Mrs Holland said. “These vulnerable, marginalised children are in youth detention at a rate 17 times higher than all other ethnicities combined – during a critical period of child development. How people cannot be outraged by this escapes me.”

Her paper called for a community-led response to the issue and for Australian policy to conform to UN guidelines to raise the age of criminal responsibility from 10 years to 14 years.

You can read the University of Queensland UQ News article From nurse to UQ academic: A journey to create change for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in full here.

Lorelle Holland, above right, in the NT with colleague Antonella Martin. Image source: UQ News.

Deadly Vision Centre CTG on eye health

Shaun Tatipata, the founding Director of Australia’s first Aboriginal-owned optical and eye care provider, Deadly Vision Centre, has a strong vision for the future of Indigenous eye health. The goal of the business is to contribute to closing the gap in eye health for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians by providing access to culturally safe and socially responsive eye care.

Mr Tatipata, who is of Wuthathi and Ngarrindjeri descent, has gained extensive experience in delivering primary health care and designing and implementing outreach programs in Indigenous communities. He is passionate about ensuring that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are able to access eye care services that are delivered to them by their community.

You can read the mivison (The Ophthalmic Journal) article Celebrating Founder of Deadly Vision Centre in full here and listen to an Shaun Tatipata in conversation with Karl Briscoe about Indigenous eye health below.

First Nations member sought for AMC

The Australian Medical Council Ltd (AMC) is currently seeking applications for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, who has experience in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health issues, position on Council.

You can view the EOI notice, providing additional information on the selection process here. Further information and the nomination form are available through the AMC website here.

The application deadline is Friday 19 August 2022.

New process for job advertising

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: NACCHO CEO delivers Dr Mickey Dewar Oration

NACCHO CEO delivers Dr Mickey Dewar Oration

Last night NACCHO CEO Patricia Turner AM was in Darwin to present the Dr Mickey Dewar Oration. The oration is presented in recognition of Dr Dewar’s significant contribution to the NT and as 3-term member of the National Archives’ Advisory Council. In her oration with the title ‘The Telling of Aboriginal Stories’ Ms Turner said: “Mickey Dewer was a storyteller. She understood that the stories of our nation needed to be told so that, as a country, we could understand where we have come from and who we are. Mickey knew that for us to move forward as a more reconciled and modern nation, the stories of our past needed to be told.”

“Mickey’s work led to the stories of many Aboriginal people being told and some of our history being recognised. This evening I want to talk to you about the importance of Aboriginal storytelling, and how it shapes the nation and our own cultures and identities. Aboriginal peoples are the original storytellers. Telling stories is both a cultural practice of who we are as peoples and is a way in which we sustain our identities and lands.”

You can read a full transcript of the oration click here.

Dr Michelle Sue “Mickey” Dewar (1 January 1956 – 23 April 2017), pictured during her time as NT Library Heritage Co-ordinator. Photo: Katrina Bridgeford. Image source: NT News.

New Minister for Indigenous Australians

Earlier today Linda Burney, a member of the Wiradjuri nations, and the first Aboriginal woman to be elected to the House of Representatives was sworn in as the Minister for Indigenous Australians. Yesterday as she delivered the 15th annual Lowitja O’Donoghue Oration, Ms Burney has extended an olive branch to Opposition Leader Peter Dutton and urged him to support an Indigenous Voice to parliament. The oration, run by the Don Dunstan Foundation in honour of influential Aboriginal leader Dr Lowitja O’Donoghue.

Burney outlined her vision for the future and urged the new Liberal leader to offer bipartisan support for an Indigenous Voice. “Peter Dutton has in recent days reflected on what it is like to be on the wrong side of history after walking out of the apology to the stolen generations,” she said. “But you know what? We all grow, and we all change, and there is no shame in that at all. “In fact, that is what the journey of reconciliation is all about, and it is a path I would be very pleased to walk with Peter Dutton – and the Liberal Party.” In his first press conference as opposition leader on Monday this week, Dutton admitted he was wrong to oppose former prime minister Kevin Rudd’s apology to stolen generations survivors.

To view The Sydney Morning Herald article Linda Burney urges Peter Dutton to support Indigenous Voice in full click here.

The incoming Indigenous affairs minister Linda Burney has urged the opposition to support the Uluru Statement from the Heart. Photo: Brook Mitchell. Image source: The Sydney Morning Herald.

Collaboration key to reconciliation

In an article Collaborate and ‘design a way forward’ towards reconciliation published in the RACGP newsGP yesterday Morgan Liotta describes how she spoke to allyship leaders about the steps GPs can take to promote national reconciliation. Reflect: identify what is the heart of the matter. Relate: put yourself in the other person’s shoes. Reconcile: design a way forward together. The ‘three Rs’ were developed to strengthen allyship and kinship by the co-directors of cultural awareness training organisation, Evolve Communities.

Aunty Munya Andrews, a Bardi Elder originally from the Kimberley region of Western Australia, is a lawyer and educator. Carla Rogers is a training facilitator and community engagement specialist. The two have worked closely together since 2011 to strengthen partnerships between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and non-Indigenous Australians. To mark National Reconciliation Week, Aunty Munya and Ms Rogers spoke with newsGP about how the three Rs align with this year’s theme – ‘Be Brave. Make Change’ – and highlight the important role of courage in reconciliation, which GPs can apply to their practice.

‘It is a really simple three-step approach that GPs could apply when they’re exploring something with one of their patients,’ Ms Rogers said. ‘Immerse yourself in that understanding, learn more about Aboriginal people’s identity – connection to country is all about healing. ‘The land is sick, people are sick. Healthy country, healthy people.’ Outside the GP community, all Australians can learn more about these values and collaborate to ‘design a way forward together’ towards reconciliation. For Aunty Munya, it’s about everybody playing their part.

To view the article in full click here.

Image source: Others magazine.

Courage to be uncomfortable needed

Dr Bini Bennett, Associate Professor First Nations Health, Bond University, has written an article The courage to feel uncomfortable: what Australians need to learn to achieve real reconciliation in which she writes: “Be Brave, Make Change” is the mantra for this year’s National Reconciliation Week. This is a call urging all non-Indigenous Australians to be allies and take up unfinished reconciliation actions for a fairer nation for all. But often reconciliation actions are observed as insincere and tokenistic. Instead, non-Indigenous people’s actions need to be real, effective and aimed at long-lasting change.

Historical acceptance is one of the five dimensions of reconciliation. Acceptance would mean all Australians acknowledge this nation’s history of injustice, colonisation, dispossession, displacement, exploitation and violence against First Nations people. However, this endeavour to learn is often hindered by hesitant white educators who don’t feel confident or capable to include Indigenous perspectives in their classrooms. The topic of Australia’s difficult history is also often rebutted as First Nations people’s failure to move on and simply “get over it”. If non-Indigenous people are to be honest about our nation’s efforts to achieve reconciliation, it’s time to stop trying to being “seen” to be engaged in First Nation issues, and instead take the time to educate themselves about what is often uncomfortable to learn.

To read The Conversation article in full click here.

Invasion Day protests, Melbourne. Photo: James Ross, EPA. Image source: Aljazeera.

COVID-19 – a barrier to early cancer diagnosis

It’s a worrying fact that data worldwide is demonstrating a delay in doctor visits, as well as missed or decreased cancer registrations due to the COVID-19 pandemic. If you find yourself putting off seeing your doctor about new symptoms, that’s not a good idea. Cancer does not stop or slow down for a global pandemic.

Visit your doctor if your symptom involves blood, such as coughing up blood or blood in your poo or blood in your pee, or if you have any of these symptoms for more than four weeks:

It’s important to see your doctor, clinic nurse or Aboriginal Health Worker now rather than putting it off! It doesn’t mean you’ve got cancer – often, it turns out to be something less serious, but telling your doctor straight away ensures any further investigation or treatment can begin as soon as possible. If it is cancer, the earlier it’s found, the better the treatment options and outcomes.

Cancer Council WA’s Find Cancer Early team have put together some FAQ’s which you can find on the Cancer Council WA website here.

Image source: Danila Dilba Health Service, Darwin NT website.

Mental health crisis in flood-affected NSW

Months after northern NSW’s worst floods on record, many of the thousands displaced are now struggling with depression, anxiety and trauma. An Indigenous-led counselling hub based on cultural traditions is supporting flood victims and working to prevent an even bigger disaster. Michele Laurie is among thousands of flood victims in northern NSW struggling to rebuild their lives after this year’s catastrophic floods. Although the high water has receded, the mental health impacts are far from over.

“I’ve certainly found myself really quite overwhelmed where I’ve had a panic attack just recently,” says Ms Laurie, 47, whose family was among those forced out of home for many weeks by flooding. We have had a housing crisis here on the Northern rivers before the flood, and this is just amplified the disadvantage of families throughout this whole community.” According to state government disaster recovery body Resilience NSW, the Laurie family home is among more than 8,359 damaged by flooding, of which 3,585 are uninhabitable. Yet many northern rivers residents consider themselves lucky to have survived at all. Some sheltered for hours on rooftops, others were trapped inside the roof cavity and were forced to cut themselves free.

The mental health impacts are now being felt across the region. Michele Laurie is also an Aboriginal trauma specialist of Gumbaynggirr and Yaegl heritage and is working to support others affected, like herself, at a healing hub in Lismore. The Aboriginal-led centre has so far offered wellbeing support in more than 1,400 sessions, for both Indigenous and non-Indigenous people.

You can read the SBS News article The Indigenous trauma specialists working to ease a growing mental health crisis in flood-affected NSW in full here and also watch an SBS News video about the weaving and yarning circles here.

A weaving circle at the Lismore healing hub. Photo: Kingsley Haxton, SBS. Image source: SBS News website.

Cultural responsiveness training encouraged

Optometry Australia is encouraging its members to undertake cultural education that supports critical self-reflection and the integration of culturally safe and responsive care into practise to improve the health outcomes of First Nations patients. Optometry Australia’s CEO Lyn Brodie said they have partnered with Indigenous Allied Health Australia (IAHA) to offer their Cultural Responsiveness Training to 100 members , In addition all Optometry Australia are completing the training so an understanding of First Nation’s cultures is embedded within our organisation.

Anya Dashko, who has completed the training, works as a regional optometrist at the Institute for Urban Indigenous Health (IUIH) in Windsor, Queensland, which she says has provided her with a great opportunity to learn from her patients. “Back at university, there was no focus on cultural awareness or cultural safety, or how you might adapt your practice when working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients,’ Anya said. ‘Although I’ve been fortunate enough to learn through working at the IUIH, I also wanted to take the opportunity to learn from IAHA as they’ve done a lot of important work in this space and provided guidance for allied health professionals across the board. ”

“The cultural training course not only included historical and diverse cultural background information of First Nations people, but also a lot of introspective work. I thought it was a great addition to ask us to consider our own culture and belief systems, how they inform our day-to-day actions and how they might differ for someone from a different cultural background. I think this training course provides optometrists with a solid foundation to build upon and hopefully make their own practice a trusted and safe environment for First Nations people.”.

To view the Optometry Australia article Cultural responsiveness training will help to improve health outcomes for First Nations peoples in full click here.

Optometrist Kerryn Hart does an eye examination on Andrew Toby who needed glasses. Andrew, a driver for the Anyinginyi Allied Health Clinic, Tennant Creek, collects patients to bring them to the clinic. Image source: Optometry Australia.

New process for job advertising

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: ‘Sorry’ is not enough – we need action

Flag image in feature tile is from AbSec NSW Tweet 26 May 2021 published in The Conversation article National Sorry Day is a day to commemorate those taken. But ‘sorry’ is not enough – we need action published today 26 May 2022.

‘Sorry’ is not enough – we need action

On the 25th anniversary of the Bringing Them Home report, chair of The Healing Foundation Board Professor Steve Larkin calls for aged care that is trauma-informed and enables healing for the Stolen Generations survivors. The Bringing Them Home report was result of a national inquiry that investigated the forced removal of First Nations children from their families and the first publicly documented account of the experiences of Stolen Generations survivors and the devastating effects of forced removals. In doing so, the report marked a pivotal moment in the healing journey of Stolen Generations survivors and their families.

25 years on, the report continues to guide the work of countless survivors, families, advocates, and organisations. However, implementation of many of the report’s numerous recommendations remain outstanding. Bringing Them Home was followed by other pivotal inquires calling for action in key areas for Stolen Generations survivors, including The Healing Foundation’s own Bringing Them Home: 20 years on and Make Healing Happen reports. Commemorative events, like National Sorry Day, are important reminders not only of what has been achieved to date, but also of what remains to be down. Without meaningful action, the commemoration of National Sorry Day falls short of its potential to be a catalyst for change.

To read the Croakey Health Media article Without action, Sorry Day falls short of its potential as a catalyst for change in full click here. You can access further information about National Sorry Day on the National Today website here and also read a SNAICC’s media release Hope for Our Children this National Sorry Day here.

Image source: Knox City Council, Wantirna, Melbourne (VIC) website.

Aunty Lindy Lawler on her path to healing

Some of Aunty Lindy Lawler’s earliest memories are scarred with fear and pain, including having her little four-year-old hand held over a gas flame as a regular punishment from her government-appointed carer. The 63-year-old Aboriginal elder, Yuin woman and survivor of the Stolen Generations suffered horrendous abuse for years after being removed from her family.

Aunty Lindy and her identical twin sister were born in David Berry Memorial Hospital at Berry on the NSW South Coast in December 1958. In May 1959, their parents were told to take the twins back to the hospital for a check-up and when they returned the girls were gone. “We had no idea we were removed from that place — we were five months old when this happened,” Aunty Lindy said. Over the next few years, the twins were taken to the Royal Alexandra Hospital for Children in Sydney, the Ashfield Infants’ Home, and a convalescent home before being sent to a home in Narrabeen on Sydney’s northern beaches in 1963.

Aunty Lindy attended the apology to the Stolen Generations, delivered by former PM Kevin Rudd, on 13 February 2008. She said it meant a great deal, but her twin had died the year before and never had the chance to hear the words. “But I will never forget it, and how many people went to it, and believed us and that was a really big healing,” she said. It has taken her years to speak about her pain and she said she received help on the journey from the Illawarra Aboriginal Medical Service. She’s now driven to help people understand what happened to those who were stolen.

To view the ABC News article Stolen Generations survivor Aunty Lindy Lawler speaks on her path to healing for National Sorry Day in full click here.

Aunty Lindy Lawler says official records held by the government of her removal fail to include any documentation of the abuse. Photo: Sarah Moss, ABC Illawarra.

First Nations nurse under-supply urgent

From a modest shopfront in Redfern half a century ago, there are now 144 ACCHOs in Australia and the sector is the third largest employer of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Aunty Pat Turner, A Gudanji-Arrente woman and NACCHO CEO said Indigenous peoples overwhelmingly preferred to access ACCHOs over mainstream health services because “their cultural safety is guaranteed”. “Our ACCHOs are more than just another health service. They put Aboriginal health in Aboriginal hands,” she told the Congress of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Nurses and Midwives (CATSINaM) Back to the Fire conference last year. “As the health system becomes more complex, the role of our services becomes even more critical. The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population is increasing rapidly and funding levels have not kept pace with demand.”

These funding shortfalls are widespread across the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander nursing and midwifery workforce, according to CATSINaM CEO Professor Roianne West. A report for CATSINaM by Dr Katrina Alford in 2015 predicted a national shortage of 100,000 nurses by 2020 and estimated that an additional 2,172 Indigenous nurses and midwives were required each year to reach population parity. “The Task is huge and required urgent action. The under-supply of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander nursing and midwifery workforce has been a persistent and long-term problem in Australia,” Professor West said.

To view the Croakey Health Media article Celebrating the many achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander nurses and midwives in Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations click here.

CATSINaM member Kamilaroi-Wiradjuri nurse and artist Kisani Upward painted this portrait of CATSINaM founder Dr Sally Goold – the first Aboriginal nurse at the first ACCHO in Redfern – for the 2022 Archibald Prize. Photo: Kisani Upward. Image source: Croakey Health Media.

Fighting inequitable healthcare access

In her address at the 2022 David Cooper Lecture, former PM Julia Gillard spoke of the need for the global community to enact policy that helps our most vulnerable, to ensure we emerge from the pandemic as a healthier and fairer society. The event, a conversation between Ms Gillard and ABC Science and Health reporter Tegan Taylor, was broadcast to an online audience and was co-presented by the UNSW Centre for Ideas, Kirby Institute and UNSW Medicine & Health.

“It was a privilege having Julia Gillard as the guest speaker for this year’s David Cooper Lecture. She is a truly motivational speaker and her conversation on how infectious diseases disproportionately affect the most disadvantaged in society and what that means for how we respond was fascinating. Her observations on how COVID-19 has helped reduce the stigma attached to mental health were particularly pertinent,” Professor Anthony Kelleher, Director of the Kirby Institute at UNSW Sydney, said.

You can watch a video of Julia Gillard presenting the David Cooper Lecture below and access the UNSW Sydney Newsroom article The importance of fighting inequality: Julia Gillard on lessons learnt from the pandemic in full here.

New advice on winter boosters

Australia’s Deputy Chief Medical Officer Professor Michael Kidd has issued an important Bulletin including information about:

  • the expanded ATAGI recommendations on winter COVID-19 booster doses
  • maintaining cold chain requirements when transferring vaccines off site
  • vaccine ordering

Links are provided below for the key documents:

  • Primary Care Vaccine Roll-out Provider Bulletin 25 May 2022 here 
  • ATAGI Advice for Additional groups recommended for a winter booster dose as of 24 May 2022 here
  • Question and Answer regarding ATAGI revised winter dose advice here

Image source: Disability Support Guide.

Low booster uptake concerns experts

Pathologists are sounding the alarm over the low uptake of coronavirus vaccine boosters as the national immunisation group suggests a fourth dose for some Australians. The Royal College of Pathologists of Australasia says third doses are particularly low in Queensland and NSW even as COVID-19 cases rise. “With winter commencing, it is important for everyone that they are fully up to date with all relevant vaccinations,” RCPA fellow Professor William Rawlinson said.

“The RCPA recently highlighted that it is very likely that we will experience far more influenza cases in Australia this winter. This, combined with the current, rising trend of COVID-19 cases is likely to put an extraordinary strain on the healthcare system.” WA has the highest uptake of third doses at about 80%, while Queensland is the lowest at 58%. Nationally, about two-thirds of eligible Australians have received a booster.

Yesterday, the Australian Technical Advisory Group (ATAGI) on Immunisation expanded eligibility for a second booster to people with health conditions or a disability. Previously, the fourth dose has only been available to people 65 and over, those in aged or disability care, the severely immunocompromised or Indigenous people aged over 50. Acting Health Minister Katy Gallagher urged eligible Australians to get their fourth shot.

To view the Jimboomba Times article Experts concerned over low booster uptake click here.

Image source: Jimboomba Times.

Our Country Our Story mental health program

Most youth mental health service staff are “dedicated people with a strong sense of social justice. They want to meet the needs of young Aboriginal people,” says Professor Michael Wright, Curtin School of Allied Health. “But they also know they don’t know how to do this. For historical reasons, Aboriginal youth distrust mainstream organisations. For this reason, they often don’t seek help early for mental health issues.”

“Our Journey Our Story aims to build the capacity of mental health service staff. We want them to be flexible, confident, and competent in responding to the cultural needs of Aboriginal young people.’ A Nyoongar man, Michael worked with Aboriginal Elders to develop the Debakarn Koorliny Wangkiny (Steady Walking and Talking) co-design framework (DKW). DKW disrupts by questioning service providers’ ‘typical ways of working,’ Michael says. Participants are asked to commit to being motivated, present and teachable, respecting status, staying connected, and continually weaving. Aboriginal Elders and youth and mental health staff usually have a deep self-realisation that change is possible!” Michael said. “Our experience is that the changes they experience are profound.”

To view The National Tribune article Our Journey Our Story in full click here. You can view Professor Wright talking about the Our Journey, Our Story Project in the video below.

HIV is just a part of me – Michelle

As part of their HIV is: Just a part of me campaign Gilead Sciences and the National Association of People with HIV Australia (NAPWHA) have created a series of videos showcasing the lived experience, resilience, joy and hope of six exceptional people living with HIV. In the third video Michelle Tobin, an Aboriginal woman of the Yorta Yorta Nation who is also a descendant of the Stolen Generation, shares her story. At present, Michelle is one of two women across Australia who advocate for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living with HIV. She also represents the positive voice of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, especially for women, on a number of advisory committees.

To read more about ‘HIV Is Just A Part Of Me’ campaign and view all six videos you can access the NAPWHA website here.

New process for job advertising

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

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

World Tobacco Day

Monday 31 May is the World Health Organization’s 35th World No Tobacco Day. This day raises awareness about the dangers of tobacco use and exposure. It highlights national and global efforts to fight the tobacco epidemic and protect future generations from its harmful effects.

World No Tobacco Day is an annual reminder of the dangers of tobacco use and its impact on the health of individuals and communities. It also sheds light on the tactics used by tobacco and related companies to attract younger generations of smokers, despite public health and regulatory efforts to lessen their influence. Growing evidence that smokers are more likely to develop severe COVID-19 disease if they become infected, has triggered millions of smokers world-wide to want to quit tobacco.

The theme of World No Tobacco Day 2022 is Protect the environment, highlighting that, throughout its lifecycle, tobacco pollutes the planet and damages the health of all people. Commit to Quit measures aim to create healthier environments that: For more information on World Tobacco Day 2022 you can access the WHO website here and the Australian Government Department of Health website here.

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Uluru Statement from the Heart explained

The image in the feature tile is from the From the Heart website.

Uluru Statement from the Heart explained

The Uluru Statement from the Heart is an invitation to the Australian people from First Nations Australians. It asks Australians to walk together to build a better future. In Anthony Albanese’s victory speech as Australia’s 31st Prime Minister, he vowed that Labor will commit ‘in full’ to the Uluru Statement and that he will hold a referendum during his first term. But what does this commitment really mean? As a proud Wiradjuri and Wailwan woman, lawyer and the University of Sydney’s inaugural First Nations Lawyer-in-Residence, Teela Reid examines the hard questions that cut to the legitimacy of our democracy. Why are we a nation that has not yet recognised the First People, and what can we do to take action?

Ahead of National Reconciliation Week and on the eve of the fifth anniversary of the Uluru Statement from the Heart, Teela Reid will discuss truth and reckoning in conversation with University of Sydney alumna Billi FitzSimons, Editor of The Daily Aus this evening, Wednesday 25 May from 6:00PM–7:00PM (in-person and live streamed).

To view the University of Sydney Media Alert in full click here. and to attend the event register here.

Teela Reid, proud Wiradjuri and Wailwan woman, lawyer and the University of Sydney’s inaugural First Nation’s Practitioner-in-Residence.

Child protection overrepresentation continues

Preceding Reconciliation Week, National Sorry Day is held on 26 May and acknowledges the history of the stolen generation. For Dr Mishel McMahon, Yorta Yorta woman and LaTrobe University Aboriginal Rural Health coordinator in Bendigo, National Sorry Day is a very personal occasion.

“Sorry Day is a National Day of Remembrance for all Australians to commemorate the loss of children stolen from families through years of government policies creating the stolen generations,” Dr McMahon said. “My great-grandfather and his sister were removed (from our family) when he was a baby and my auntie was maybe four or five. Even in my grandmother’s and my mother’s generation, there was the whole thing of not being able to talk about being Aboriginal. I’m probably the first generation that doesn’t experience backlash if I stand proud as Aboriginal.”

“Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children are eight times more overrepresented in child protection than non-Aboriginal children,” she said. “I know and totally understand there has been a lot of progress, but to some extent, the same reason why my great-grandfather was removed is still informing why Aboriginal children are over represented. There is a lack of understanding of Aboriginal childrearing and First Nation worldviews, and how that informs our family structures and the key principles for how we raise our children. There are many, many issues like trauma, neglect, lack of access to structures like housing and employment. But, definitely an ongoing effect is within the policies and the systems that inform child protection.”

To view the Bendigo Advertiser article Indigenous children continue to be overrepresented in child protection as Bendigo marks National Sorry Day in full click here.

La Trobe University Bendigo staff and students mark National Sorry Day in 2016 with a candlelit Sunset Ceremony, which they will again hold in 2022. Photo: Chris Pedler. Image source: Bendigo Advertiser.

Culturally appropriate housing possible

Culturally appropriate housing need not be more expensive, but some basic steps in the design process go a long way to ensuring residents’ satisfaction and comfort, argues Hannah Robertson from ArchitectureAU. Government dictates how housing is built in Indigenous communities. With incomes in these communities remaining low and private home ownership tenure on Aboriginal land being rare, this process is unlikely to change in the near future. “Indigenous community housing” refers to government-provided housing in Indigenous communities located on township leases on Aboriginal land.

In the last 50 years, governments have taken many approaches to Indigenous community housing, with both successes and failures. Typically, however, standard one-size-fits-all houses are rolled out in short-term programs with the argument that they are cost-effective and ensure fast delivery to address the chronic overcrowding issues faced in many Indigenous communities. While some current initiatives, such as the NT Government’s Room to Breathe program, aim to retrofit existing housing to be more inclusive and better meet the needs of residents, the benefits of designing-in a level of inclusivity, flexibility and longevity at the outset of construction to ensure better, more sustainable outcomes for residents continue to be overlooked.

To view the ArchitectureAU article Indigenizing practice: Inclusive Indigenous community housing in full click here.

The open-plan living and kitchen area in the standard government-issue house provided no separation of spaces to observe avoidance relationships. Photo: Hannah Robertson. Image source: ArchitectureAU.

Innovative approaches to health care

Four new innovative approaches to health care for testing, diagnosis and treatment of patients with a range of health conditions have been announced by the WA Minister for Medical Research Stephen Dawson. Mr Dawson said the program with Translation Fellowships was funded from the Future Health Research and Innovation Fund which supported health and medical research as well as innovation and commercialisation.

Mr Dawson said the program supported translational research in two streams: Aboriginal health and country and regional WA health, “It’s exciting to see the vision of these researchers and their passion to improve health care for Western Australians living in regional and remote areas of our vast State. A key feature of these projects is relationship-building within various Aboriginal communities to support healthy lifestyles.”

He said the four initiatives funded to Translation Fellowships had the potential to result in new approaches to health promotion and health care. The Minister said the three-year projects were to work on Aboriginal children skin infections, Aboriginal people life expectancy, Infectious diseases in the country and regions, and Aboriginal women with prediabetes in pregnancy.

To view the psnews.com.au article Health care tests just what the doctor ordered in full click here.

Image source: RACGP webiste.

Climate change – dramatic health threat

Climate change is having a range of impacts on health today that will become more severe unless urgent action is taken. Vulnerable populations will see their health increasingly undermined by both direct impacts, such as from extreme heat, and indirect ones, e.g. from reduced food and nutrition security. To produce science-based analysis and recommendations on a global scale, outstanding scientists from around the world – brought together by the world’s science academies under the umbrella of the InterAcademy Partnership (IAP) – have teamed up to collect and evaluate relevant evidence. The three-year project involving well over 80 experts from all world regions also examined a number of climate mitigation and adaptation actions that could bring significant improvements to health and health equity.

The new report Health in the climate emergency – a global perspective, launched by the IAP examines how the climate crisis is affecting health worldwide and calls for urgent action: “Billions of people are at risk, therefore we call for action against climate change to benefit health and also advance health equity”, says Robin Fears, IAP project coordinator and co-author of the IAP report.

The IAP report stresses that climate change affects the health of all people, but the burden is not distributed evenly or fairly. “We emphasise that health-related adaptation efforts must prioritise Indigenous Peoples, ageing populations, children, women and girls, those living in challenging socioeconomic settings, and geographically vulnerable populations.” Globally, groups that are socially, politically and geographically excluded are at the highest risk of health impacts from climate change, yet they are not adequately represented in the evidence base.

To view IAP press release Climate change threatens people’s health dramatically but solutions are within reach, say the world’s academies in a new report click here.

Part of an Aboriginal town camp on the outskirts of Alice Springs. A study of regional and remote Aboriginal housing has found it is unable to withstand climate change and will be unsuitable for future living. Photo: Helen Davidson. Image source: The Guardian.

Book your flu shot without delay

NSW residents are being urged to book in for their flu vaccine without delay, with winter just a week away and hospitals already seeing a surge in influenza cases. Health Minister Brad Hazzard said NSW hospitals are facing a triple threat with high numbers of COVID-19 cases, a surge in flu cases and staff furloughing due to illness. “NSW Health has been warning us for months of the likelihood of a horror flu season, so please, help yourselves and our health staff and get a flu shot,” Mr Hazzard said. “After two years of COVID, our hospitals do not need the added challenge of avoidable influenza, when flu shots are readily available at GPs and pharmacies. With almost no exposure to flu these past two years, it is imperative we all get a flu jab to protect ourselves and the community.”

You can view the NSW Minister for Health Brad Hazzard’s media release Stay Safe this Winter, Get Your Flu Shot Now in full here

In a related article Doctors Urge Flu Vax Now Queensland’s South Burnett residents have been encouraged to protect themselves against influenza as the cooler months start to set in. After two years of lower-than-average flu infections during the COVID pandemic, flu immunity in the community is now very low. So far this year there have been 39 laboratory confirmed cases of influenza in the Darling Downs Health region. Cherbourg Aboriginal Shire Council reported a number of flu cases in the community and is urging residents to stay home if unwell and for the elderly or vulnerable to wear masks in crowded places.

After two years of reduced flu infections due to COVID lockdowns, flu immunity levels in the community are low and Australia is bracing for a worse-than-normal flu season in 2022. Photo: Darling Downs Health. Image source: south.burnett.com.au.

Indigenous health research opportunity

Centre for Health Equity (Indigenous Health Equity Unit): Research Fellow/Senior Research Fellow, Level B or C, F/T, 4 years fixed-term

Are you an experienced researcher (with a PhD) and a background and understanding of public health and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health, including evidence of translational activities. You will be able to utilise your exceptional communication and presentation skills to liaise with a wide range of stakeholders, including government, service providers, and communities.  The role will include responsibility for managing exciting and innovative programs of research, hence self-motivation, high-level organisation, and sound project management skills will be vital.

You can access further information about the position here and contact Professor Cath Chamberlain if you have any questions using this email link. Applications close:  Monday 30 May 2022.

Professor Catherine Chamberlain, Head of the Indigenous Health Equity Unit, University of Melbourne.

New process for job advertising

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

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

iSISTAQUIT campaign launch

You are invited to iSISTAQUIT’s World No Tobacco Day launch of our compilation of iSISTAQUIT campaign films that will be available through their new iSISTAQUIT TV. The films showcase the importance of culturally appropriate care and how communication can make an important difference in supporting women to quit smoking.

iSISTAQUIT involves a model of care designed with culturally appropriate and national best practice training informed from previous studies. It provides vital training for health professionals and encouragement to communities and pregnant women to quit smoking. Having culturally thought out approaches with assisting women to quit smoking through a pathway of support, helps Indigenous women navigate health and wellbeing systems safely.

Tune in for the launch from 11:00AM – 12:00PM AEST on Tuesday 31 May 2022. To register for event here.

Image source: ISISTERQUIT website.

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Simple free bowel cancer test saves lives

Simple free bowel cancer test saves lives

Most bowel cancers (sometimes called colorectal, colon or rectal cancers) start as benign, non-cancerous growths called ‘polyps’ that form on the inner lining or the wall of the bowel. These polyps may become cancerous if they are not removed. Bowel cancer is the third most common cancer among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Although these cancers are experienced at lower rates than non-Indigenous Australians, the survival rates are lower and mortality rates are higher. This may be due to the lower participation in bowel screening programs, which is a particular risk for those in remote areas, where access to health services can be limited.

Initiatives such as the National Indigenous Bowel Screening Pilot Project have helped to address low rates of participation among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, which is important as when found early, bowel cancer is one of the most treatable cancers. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people can currently receive free screening for bowel cancer via the Australian Government’s National Bowel Cancer Screening Program (NBCSP).

The Australian Government Department of Health has developed a collection of resources, specifically tailored for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people about the NBCSP and the importance of bowel cancer screening, available here.

‘I was whitewashed’ says Uncle Jack Charles

Yesterday the actor and Indigenous rights activist, Uncle Jack Charles, told the nation’s first truth and justice commission to hear the impacts of colonisation and racist government policy on First Nations people of his removal from his family as a baby. Charles said he was placed in the Box Hill Boys’ Home, where he experienced “cruel and callous punishments” in the 1950s, and spoke of the cycles of incarceration, homelessness, familial dislocation and drug addiction he experienced for decades as a result of that treatment. “I wasn’t even told I was Aboriginal. I had to discover that for myself. I knew nothing, was told nothing, and had to assimilate … I was whitewashed by the system,” Charles told the Yoorrook Justice Commission on its first day of public hearings.

Elders were invited to make submissions at the commission’s hearings, or wurrek tyerrang, that opened at the former site of the Victorian Aboriginal Health Service building on Gertrude Street in Fitzroy, a symbolic landmark of self-determination to First Peoples in the state since the community organisation was founded in the early 1970s. Submissions to the commission, also referred to as nuther-mooyoop (a Boon Wurrung word for truth), were designed to provide an opportunity for First Nations elders in the state to share their experiences of the impacts of colonisation, including their experiences of resilience and survival of languages and little-known histories and traditions.

To view The Age article ‘I was whitewashed’: Uncle Jack Charles first elder to share his story at Yoorrook in full click here.

Uncle Jack Charles outside the Victoria Aboriginal Health Service, Fitzroy

Uncle Jack Charles outside the Victoria Aboriginal Health Service at Fitzroy. Photo: Darrian Traynor. Image source: The Age.

Protect your mob – immunisation campaign

Vaccination rates Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children have decreased over recent periods, particularly at 1 and 2 years of age. It is important to establish positive immunisation behaviours early in your children’s lives. Skipping or delaying vaccinations puts children and those around them at risk of catching serious diseases. It’s important that children receive their routine vaccines in line with the Childhood Immunisation schedule on time, every time, for the best protection.

A recently launched ’Get the facts about immunisation’ campaign uses a range of materials to engage with parents and carers, childcare workers and health care professionals about the importance of childhood vaccination. Materials specifically developed for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people include online videos, an infographic and brochures. You can find out more about the ‘Get the facts about immunisation’ campaign here and access resources from the Australian Government Department of Health Routine childhood immunisation for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children webpage here.

Children need commitment in this election

National Voice for our Children is calling on all major parties in the upcoming Federal election to commit to actions that create a better start in life for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children. SNAICC’s election priorities have been sent to parties with the responses to inform a snapshot of where they stand on key policies impacting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and families.

SNAICC CEO Catherine Liddle said substantial policy change was crucial if a future Federal Government was to make headway on new Closing the Gap targets. “Under the National Partnership all Governments have agreed to work with the Coalition of Peaks to reduce over-representation in out of home care by 45% by 2031,” Ms Liddle said. “There is also agreement to increase the proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children developmentally on track against all 5 domains of the Australian Early Development Census by 55%.”

To view the SNAICC media release Children need commitment in this election contest in full click here.

Image source: SBS TV.

Jacci – no choice but to leave Katherine

Jacci Ingham had been living in the small NT town of Katherine, around 300km south of Darwin, for two decades. And she couldn’t imagine living anywhere else. It was where her friends were, where her favourite memories were made and where her passion for landscape photography really flourished. But when her NDIS request to move into a local supported accommodation facility was knocked back, she was deemed legally homeless. The writing was on the wall – she had no choice but to leave.

Although she does not have a disability that is visible to the outside world, Jacci – who is in her 40s – has always relied on around-the-clock support to be able to live her life. “I used to see various counsellors and paediatricians and what not and they’d try these different things to see if that would improve me,” Jacci said. “To be honest, I was a bit out of it for a while like my speech was different, I had thought differently, I was prone to very delusional ways of thinking.”

Remote and Population Health Manager for Katherine West Health Board, Megan Green, was brought into the ACCHO as the Mental Health Coordinator in 2016, and tasked with the role of servicing the mental health needs of residents across the 160,000 sq km from the WA border to the edge of the Tanami desert. “So people have got…a number of options (in Darwin). For the mob out bush and even in Katherine itself, I think they’re quite limited,” she said. She said the only option for patients who are in the midst of a mental health crisis, because Katherine does not have the services required, is to have them flown to Darwin at a cost of “thousands of dollars.” It’s always a last resort to send someone out of community, it’s only if we can’t support them or their family, or support the family to support them,” Megan said.

The above was extracted from the Manning River Times article ‘If Katherine were to improve its mental health services, I would move back in a heartbeat’ published on 26 April 2022.

Image source: Manning River Times.

Universal access to oral healthcare needed

There’s a strong economic argument for providing free – or at least affordable – dental healthcare as poor dental health is linked to chronic conditions such as stroke, heart and lung diseases, which place a significant cost on the public health system. Vulnerable Australians are particularly at risk from oral disease and there are growing calls in the lead-up to the federal election to start the journey towards universal access to oral healthcare.

The Consumers Health Forum CEO Leanne Wells says dental care should be funded under Medicare because otherwise it is simply unaffordable for many Australians who risk long-term illness and preventable hospitalisation. Tan Nguyen and Associate Professor Amit Arora, co-convenors of the Public Health Association of Australia Oral Health Special Interest Group, have outlined how national leadership is required to address this neglected area of public health in a Croakey Health Media article Universal access to oral healthcare needs national leadership  here.

Image source: Armajun Aboriginal Health Service website.

Fierce advocacy for mob will be remembered

Prominent Kungarakan and Gurindji elder and community leader Kathy Mills died on Sunday aged 86. Ms Mills was known for her advocacy work for Aboriginal people in the NT, as well as a distinguished career as a songwriter and poet. Daughter June Mills said her mother had a powerful memory of local bloodlines and culture. “She’d take you on a journey, a beautiful journey, and I’ve witnessed that so many times … I’m going to miss that,” Ms Mills said.

Ms Mills held various leadership roles in the NT community, including helping to start Darwin’ oldest alcohol rehabilitation service, co-founding the Danila Dilba Health Service and, in the 1980s, being the first woman elected to the Northern Land Council. Critical of what she said was disappointingly slow work towards reconciliation, Ms Mills used her national profile to push for stronger action than token gestures for Aboriginal people.

“She had steely determination,” June Mills said. “Whether it was Stolen Generation or health or alcoholism, there was lots of things she championed throughout her life. “And once she set her teeth into something, she persevered until she got what she wanted to happen.” Ms Mills was named the NAIDOC person of the year in 1986, was inducted into what were then the NT Indigenous Music Awards (now National Indigenous Music Awards) Hall of Fame in 2005 and became a member of the Order of Australia in 2019. Earlier this year, Ms Mills was also awarded an honorary doctorate from the NT’s Batchelor Institute in recognition of her work.

To view the ABC News article Aboriginal elder Kathy Mills remembered as formidable leader and brilliant storyteller in full click here.

Kathy Mills

Kathy Mills. Photo: Terry McDonald, ABC News.

New process for job advertising

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Labor releases Indigenous health policy

Labor releases Indigenous health policy

Labor have issued a media release outlining the focus of their Indigenous health policy. An Albanese Labor Government will train 500 additional First Nations Health Workers and invest in life-saving dialysis and rheumatic heart disease treatments to help close the gap in First Nations health outcomes.

Aboriginal community-controlled health services worked tirelessly to keep First Nations communities safe during the pandemic. Their workforce has been stretched to its limits and vital programs such as chronic disease prevention and First Nations health checks have had to be scaled back.

Labor will work in partnership with community-controlled and other health services to strengthen the sector and improve health outcomes for First Nations people by:

  • Training 500 First Nations Health Workers – building the First Nations health workforce, creating jobs and revitalising community-controlled health services after the pandemic.
  • Delivering up to 30 new dialysis units – so people living in the city and the bush can access lifesaving treatment for chronic kidney disease.
  • Doubling federal funding to combat Rheumatic Heart Disease – so that fewer people miss out on lifesaving screening, treatment and prevention programs in high-risk communities.

To view the Labor media release Labor will Strengthen First Nations Health in full click here.

Bibbulmun woman Corina Abraham-Howard from Perth receives dialysis at the Purple House in Alice Springs. Photograph: Photo: Mike Bowers. Image source: The Guardian.

Calls for healthcare language boost

A NT collective responsible for aiding Yothu Yindi member Witiyana Marika manage a serious illness say appropriate health messaging could halve medical conditions in Aboriginal communities. Mr Marika recently underwent a second operation to treat his rheumatic heart disease thanks to education provided by Why Warriors co-founder Richard Trudgen.

For years Mr Marika lived with his condition without properly understanding it as language used by doctors was difficult to comprehend. Mr Trudgen said this has been a failure of the system for some time. Why Warriors aim to provide First Nations people with radio and on-demand content presented in language for this purpose.

In cases like Mr Marika’s, messaging form Western and Aboriginal medical services are not adjusted for patients who use English as a second language, if at all. Mr Trudgen said simplifying the information does little more than restrict people from the important details. “They want evidential information that shows the cause and effect right down to a biomedical level.” Why Warriors hope to secure funding to stretch their processes to First Nations communities around the country.

To view the ABC News article Yothu Yindi legend undergoes operation amid calls for healthcare language boost in full click here.

Founding Yothu Yindi member Witiyana Marika

Founding Yothu Yindi member Witiyana Marika. . Image source: NT News.

Why Western therapy is not the answer

Portia Walker-Fernando was 16 when she first saw a counsellor, overwhelmed by anger and distress that her brother was being bullied at school because he was Indigenous. “The racism was fairly frequent,” says Walker-Fernando, a Bundjalung woman, from the Northern Rivers of NSW, who, at 24, still carries anxiety and depression.

“As a 16-year-old who was trying to understand why, it really, really hurt. Being Indigenous and being black is something you can’t change.”

Walker-Fernando says intergenerational trauma and racism have contributed to her mental health issues, with her anxiety spiking every year about January 26. “Looking at our history and our story, there’s so much trauma embedded in that. I have a panic attack pretty much every Survival Day – or Australia Day – because of that really strong impact that it has on me,” she says. “No one’s been given the life tools to be able to heal from these traumas, so we’re still carrying them today.”

Half the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who experience racial discrimination report feelings of psychological distress, according to a Victorian study by the Lowitja Institute, meaning they are vulnerable to developing anxiety and depression.

To view The Age article ‘I have a panic attack every Survival Day’: Why Western therapy wasn’t the answer for Portia in full click here.

Portia Walker-Fernando from Casino pictured with her children. Photo: Natalie Grono. Image source: The Age.

Broncos support IUIH’s Deadly Choices

The Brisbane Broncos will continue to encourage Queensland’s Indigenous youth to get active and healthy, as part of its ongoing support of the Institute for Urban Indigenous Health’s (IUIH) Deadly Choices preventative health program.

By prioritising healthy eating, exercise, the avoidance of tobacco and alcohol use, and ensuring individuals continue to complete an annual health check, the Club hopes to unearth and foster future talent of the calibre of current players, Selwyn Cobbo and Kotoni Staggs.

Cobbo, a proud Wakka Wakka man from Cherbourg was today joined by the Burnett’s original Broncos flyer, current and fellow Deadly Choices Ambassador, Steve Renouf to unveil a new suite of health check shirts, used as incentives to encourage local communities to visit the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community Health Service (ATSICHS) Brisbane for an annual check-up.

Broncos CEO Dave Donaghy said: “Deadly Choices is an outstanding program making a real difference and we are proud of our partnership with the IUIH that now extends beyond a decade.

To view the Broncos promote ‘Deadly’ Communities media release in full click here.

Selwyn Cobbo. Image source: Broncos website.

NT AHW Excellence Awards noms open

The NT’s best and brightest Health Workers and Practitioner’s have the chance for their efforts and work to be recognised, with nominations opening for the 2022 Northern Territory Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Worker and Practitioner Excellence Awards.

The awards are held annually to recognise and acknowledge the significant contribution Aboriginal health workers and practitioners make to their families, communities and the healthcare system across the Northern Territory. These awards acknowledge the outstanding contribution made by our highly valued Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workers and Practitioners workforces within the previous 12 months.

Nominations are open from Tuesday 26 April 2022 to Sunday 19 June 2022. To submit a nomination, visit the awards webpage Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Worker and Practitioner Excellence Awards – Department of Health here, or contact Aboriginal Workforce Development
using this email link or ring (08) 89227 278.

To view the NT Government Health Minister Natasha Fyles’ media release in full click here.

Aboriginal health workers, Sherryl King and Keinan Keighran, from Wurli-Wurlinjang Aboriginal Health Service were recognised for their work at the 2021 NT Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Worker and Practitioner Excellence Awards. Photo: Charlie Bliss. Image source: Katherine Times.

Swapping the screen for nature

Model and actor Magnolia Maymuru is careful about how she spends her time. When not in the make-up chair, she retreats into nature – a habit she wishes the rest of the world would adopt, too.

Modern science may have only recently uncovered the link between exposure to nature and increased wellbeing, but Indigenous Australians such as Magnolia Maymuru have been aware of it for thousands of years. “Up here, we have connections to everything around us, from the ground to the sky,” the model and actor said.

Born in Darwin, Maymuru belongs to the Yolngu people – a group of Aboriginal clans from north-east Arnhem Land – who believe that they don’t only come from the land, they are the land, too. “We’re born into our connection [with the outdoors],” she explains. “Every time I come back from the city and hear the waves crash, it just does something to me.”

To view the Body + Soul article Magnolia Maymuru on swapping screen time for real connections with nature in full click here.

Magnolia Maymuru. Photo: Body+Soul. Image source: BodyAndSoul.

Barriers to physical activity for mob

Physical activity has cultural significance and population health benefits. However, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults may experience challenges in participating in physical activity. A review that aims to synthetize existing evidence on facilitators and barriers for physical activity participation experienced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults in Australia has been undertaken.

The review identified 63 barriers: 21 individual, 17 interpersonal, 15 community/environmental and 10 policy/program barriers. Prominent facilitators included support from family, friends, and program staff, and opportunities to connect with community or culture. Prominent barriers included a lack of transport, financial constraints, lack of time, and competing work, family or cultural commitments. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults experience multiple facilitators and barriers to physical activity participation. Strategies to increase participation should seek to enhance facilitators and address barriers, collaboratively with communities, with consideration to the local context.

To view the Facilitators and Barriers to Physical Activity and Sport Participation Experienced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Adults: A Mixed Method Review in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health in full click here.

Photo: IUIH. Image source: Exercise Right website.

New process for job advertising

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

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

World Immunisation Week

World Immunisation Week, celebrated in the last week of April, aims to highlight the collective action needed and to promote the use of vaccines to protect people of all ages against disease.

The World Health Organisation works with countries across the globe to raise awareness of the value of vaccines and immunisation and ensures that governments obtain the necessary guidance and technical support to implement high quality immunisation programmes.

The ultimate goal of World Immunization Week is for more people – and their communities – to be protected from vaccine-preventable diseases.

In a related article parents and carers are being reminded of the importance of getting their children vaccinated against COVID-19 in a new information video from the Department of Health.

The video features GP and Senior Doctor at Wirraka Maya Health Service Aboriginal Corporation (HSAC), Dr Aleeta Fejo who answers important questions about children and the COVID-19 vaccines.

Dr Fejo, a Larrakia and Warumungu traditional owner and Elder, said fake stories and misinformation about COVID-19 vaccines were unfortunately very common, especially on social media.

She said it was natural for parents to have questions about giving their kids the jab. “COVID-19 is a serious illness that can affect everyone—including children,” Dr Fejo said. “Vaccines can help stop your child becoming very sick, or even dying, if they catch the virus,” she said.

You can view a three-minute video featuring Dr Fejo below.

Also related is a advice from AMA NSW: with shorter days and cooler temperatures, NSW residents are urged to talk to their GP about getting their flu jab. “Flu season usually occurs from June to September in Australia, and we urge patients to time their vaccination to achieve the highest level of protection during the peak of the season,” said AMA (NSW) President, Dr Danielle McMullen.

“Your GP can provide you with advice on when to get your flu shot. Patients should also know that influenza vaccination is recommended for everyone aged six months and over and is free for patients most at risk. “This includes adults over 65 years and over, children under five, pregnant women, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and people with certain medical conditions.”

To view the AMA NSW media release Flu season around the corner – time to plan click here.

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: 10-year plan to increase workforce

feature tile text 'first ever ATSI workforce plan launched' & pink, blue Aboriginal dot painting from cover of the plan

The artwork in the feature tile is by Freelance Graphic Designer Tarni O’Shea was created for the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workforce Strategic Framework and Implementation Plan 2021-2031.

10-year plan to increase workforce

Indigenous Allied Health Australia (IAHA) welcomes the joint announcement from Minister Greg Hunt and Minister Ken Wyatt, launching the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workforce Strategic Framework and Implementation Plan 2021–2031 (National Workforce Plan), the first of its kind. It seeks to have Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people equally represented alongside non-Indigenous workers across the health sector by 2031 and improve health and wellbeing outcomes.

Endorsed by all governments, the National Workforce Plan will see a more coordinated approach to the growth and empowerment of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health workforce across a diverse range of roles, settings, and sectors, to provide more culturally safe and responsive care to benefit all Australians. It will mean an unprecedented increase in the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander doctors, nurses, midwives, allied health professionals, health workers and health practitioners working across the health system through the next decade, providing culturally safe and responsive health and medical care.

The plan aims to lift the rate of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people working in the sector from the current 1.8 per cent to 3.43 per cent by 2031, better reflecting overall population numbers.

According to Minster Hunt and Minister Wyatt’s joint media release, the plan has been designed in close partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, including health leaders from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peak bodies and the community-controlled health sector. It commits all governments to work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to grow and strengthen the workforce through a consistent, yet flexible, approach to increasing employment, training and leadership opportunities.

IAHA Chief Executive Officer and outgoing National Health Leadership Forum Chair, Donna Murray, said of the announcement:

“The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health workforce brings a unique, dual cultural and clinical lens to their work. Growing the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health workforce should be a priority for all governments, with investment in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander led and culturally responsive approaches across health, education, skills, training, and employment portfolios.”

You can view Minister Hunt and Minister Wyatt’s joint media release here; the IAHA media release here and the National Workforce Plan here.

NACCHO COVID-19 staff & NACCHO Chair Donnella Mills

NACCHO COVID-19 staff with NACCHO Chair Donnella Mills at the Inaugural Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health workers day. Image source: Facebook

Plans for dedicated Fitzroy Valley ACCHS

The New Fitzroy Valley Health and Wellbeing Project Working Group (Working Group) is overseeing a project to establish a dedicated Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Service (ACCHS) to deliver primary health care services in Fitzroy Crossing. At a community meeting held 18 August 2021, community members endorsed the project aim: That a new ACCHS be established to deliver primary health care services in Fitzroy
Crossing with an interim ACCHS to be operationalised by 2023 and a full ACCHS to be operationalised by 2026.

The Working Group is committed to establishing a strong, independent and effective ACCHS that will provide quality primary health care services. The new service will enable enhanced leadership and advocacy on Fitzroy Valley health issues, and expansion of a skilled and sustainable local Aboriginal health workforce. Ultimately this will lead to overcoming the health inequalities experienced by Aboriginal people of the Fitzroy Valley and achieve health outcomes equal to all Australians.

It is essential that Fitzroy Valley communities are involved and engaged in decision making and the Working Group are therefore responsible for guiding, directing, advising and making key decisions until a Board of Directors is elected at the inaugural Annual General Meeting (AGM).

To view the Fitzroy Valley Health and Wellbeing Project Working Group communicate in full click here.

highway road sign Fitzroy Crossing

Image source: National Indigenous Times.

ARF and patient knowledge exchange

Two Aboriginal and two non-Aboriginal authors have examined the continuing colonisation of current practice, research and funding with respect to the provision of secondary antibiotic prophylaxis that is recommended for anyone diagnosed with Acute Rheumatic Fever (ARF). As explained in the recent ABC 4 Corners episode, ARF is the precursor to Rheumatic Heart Disease (RHD) which kills Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples so early and unjustly.

Their article published in the first issue for 2022 of Rural and Remote Health journal asks if vital knowledge about treatments, prognosis and effective interventions is truly exchanged between clinicians and the people affected by ARF, including their families and communities.  Comprehensive community-controlled primary health care resourced to provide culturally safe, lifelong healthcare for anyone diagnosed with this life-changing disease must be a priority for governments genuinely committed to better health outcomes. This includes co-design of evidence-based decision aids to share knowledge.

To view the article in full click here or here.

Aboriginal interpreter with Aboriginal female Elder in hospital bed with health professional

Image source: scimex.

New clinical guideline for autism

Work is underway to develop a national practice guideline for supporting the development and participation of children on the autism spectrum and their families. You can read more about the guideline development here.

This project is funded by the Autism CRC and is co-led by Professor Andrew Whitehouse (CliniKids, Telethon Kids Institute) and Associate Professor David Trembath (Menzies Health Institute Queensland, Griffith University).

Community consultation is now taking place, and all Australians can contribute their voice to this process. Submissions from Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander peoples is particularly encouraged.

Please follow this link to understand more, and take part in this process.

Aboriginal mum kissing check of young son with school bag

Image source: Autism Association of WA.

Stolen Generation redress scheme holdouts

WA and Queensland are the final holdouts in Australia yet to set up a redress scheme for Stolen Generations survivors. The Victorian Government last week joined NSW, SA, Tasmania, the NT and ACT in implementing a redress scheme 25 years after it was recommended in the landmark Bringing Them Home report. Victorian survivors will be eligible for $100,000 compensation payments, while Jervis Bay, NT and ACT schemes last week opened up a $75,000 redress plus an extra sum for healing assistance.

Bringing Them Home WA co-chairman Tony Hansen said such a scheme was well overdue in WA. “It is 25 years since the tabling of the landmark Bringing Them Home Report and sadly many Survivors have passed away,” he said. “We need an acknowledgement from the WA Government of what the Victorian Premier described as ‘…those terrible, evil wrongs of our past’.”

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

Boys at the Churches of Christ Mission in Norseman WA.

Boys at the Churches of Christ Mission in Norseman WA. Image source: ABC News website.

New SA Aboriginal mental health centre

According to SA Premier Steven Marshall, people across state will have access to more mental health and suicide prevention support as a result of a landmark 5-year agreement signed with the Commonwealth. The deal will increase the mental health workforce, establish new mental health centres for adults and First Nations people and reduce pressure on hospital emergency departments.

Mr Marshall said the bilateral agreement, part of the National Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Agreement, would establish a network of Adult Mental Health Centres (Head to Health) in Northern Adelaide and Mount Barker, to be co-located with new State-funded services, including a Crisis Stabilisation Centre and two additional Head to Health satellite centres. In addition, a new Aboriginal Mental Health and Wellbeing Centre is to be established to address gaps in the mental health system to provide culturally appropriate and more integrated mental health and suicide prevention services to Aboriginal people. One new headspace centre will also be established, while existing headspace centres will be enhanced to increase access to multidisciplinary youth mental health services.

To view the PSNews.com.au article in full click here.

ACT prison mental health care ineffective

Prisoners in the ACT’s Alexander Maconochie Centre don’t receive adequate mental health treatment due to a shortage of psychologists, a damning ACT Auditor-General’s report has concluded. The report has found the prison has funding for 16 full-time equivalent staff including registered nurses and forensic psychologists but only 11.2 of these positions are currently filled.

“The most significant shortfall in staff occurs in the number of psychologists; only two of the four budgeted positions have been filled as of April 2021,” the report read. The report said that “While occurring informally, there is no established process to ensure that advice and support is sought from called for greater oversight of the services delivered by Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health and Community Services, or any other Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander health professional, for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander detainees at risk of suicide and self-harm,” the report said. The report said Winnunga or another service should be consulted to develop release plans for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander detainees and to provide advice regarding treatment plans for any Indigenous detainees deemed high risk.

To view the Riotact article in full click here.

light shaft on closed internal AMC prison doors

Alexander Maconochie Centre. Image source: The Canberra Times.

New process for job advertising

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

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

16th National Rural Health Conference

If you are interested in healthy, sustainable and resilient rural communities, this conference will be of interest to you.  Whether you are a consumer, a health professional, student, researcher, or manager you will be able to engage with people and topics of interest to you.

It is a rural health conference, but one that recognises the critical role played by education, rural industries, communications, transport and a wide range of other sectors and professions. The conference will have plenty for rural delegates and those working in rural education, regional development, housing, local government, community services, transport and infrastructure – as well as for health professionals from all disciplines. The National Rural Health Conference has a well-earned reputation as one of the best health conferences in the Country.

For more information about the conference, including a registration link click here.

tile text '16th National Rural Health Conference 2-4 August 2022, Brisbane, QLD - Bridging social distance Rural health innovating & collaboration ruralhealth.org.au/16nrhc New date and loccation! 2-4 August 2022, Brisbane, QLD, Registration Now Open!' purple green white text overlaying image of office building

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Anti-viral treatments an important tool

feature tile text 'NACCHO MA says new oral covid-19 treatments important for immunocompromised' & photo of white red capsule

Anti-viral treatments an important tool

North Queensland will be first in line to receive two new oral COVID-19 treatments made available in Australian this week. The drugs, Lagevrio® (molnupiravir) and Paxlovid® (nirmatrelvir + ritonavir) are an additional treatment for vulnerable Australians who contract COVID-19. NACCHO Medical Advisor, Dr Jason Agostino spoke on ABC North Queensland Local News this morning, saying the drugs will be an important tool for immunocompromised patients in addition to already approved intravenous medicine. “Many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have risk factors that mean they are more likely to get severe COVID-19, things like kidney disease, heart disease and lung disease,” Dr Agostino said. You can listen to the ABC North Queensland Local News segment here.

First Nations children’s hearing health

Hearing Australia’s Hearing Assessment Program – Early Ears (HAPEE) is collaborating with First Nations communities across Australia to raise awareness of the importance of ear and hearing health in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, with the launch of a new storybook and series of events centred around the ‘Spirit of Sound’.

The new children’s book the ‘Spirit of Sound’, is a collaboration with artist Davinder Hart, of the Noongar nation and will be made free to organisations who work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children across the country in an effort to raise awareness about the importance of regular hearing checks early in life.

“I’m very proud to work with Hearing Australia to highlight the importance of sound to myself and to Indigenous people,” said Davinder. “When we hear sound it travels through our ears into our bodies and wakes up our feelings. In this book you can see the spirits of sound and how it moves around like a message being sent. When we start to listen, we can start to learn.”

To coincide with World Hearing Day today, the Spirit of Sound will be released as an eBook on the Hearing Australia website, along with a suite of new resources and a Q&A for parents and community with Worimi man and ear, nose and throat surgeon Professor Kelvin Kong.

Professor Kong is joined by First Nations HAPEE spokespeople from across the country, Wiradjuri man and father Luke Carroll, Gumbaynggirr, Dhungatti, Torres Strait Islander mother Elsie Seriat, and Noongar mother and grandmother Daniella Borg. Professor Kelvin Kong says the issue is close to his heart. “Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander kids and our mob are more likely to get affected by hearing issues and their effects,” said Kelvin. “The problem with that is that it means our language, our development, our speech, and our progression through life can be hampered. I encourage all our community to take that first step, book in and get your kids, your nieces, nephews or grandkids a hearing check so they can be ready to listen and learn.”

For further information about the HAPEE Ears For Early Years Hearing Assessment Program click here.

Aboriginal artist & storybook illustrator Davinder Hart holding up two copies of The Spirit of Sound storybook

Aboriginal artist and storybook illustrator Davinder Hart. Image source: Hearing Australia.

Connecting culture to cancer care

Family, culture, strength and support are at the heart of a new artwork welcoming Aboriginal people to the Nepean Cancer and Wellness Centre. Titled ‘Battle Against Cancer’, the art is the creation of 19-year-old local artist, Aiesha Pettit-Young, a proud Wiradjuri and Wongaibon descendant. The artwork is a particularly personal creation for Ms Pettit-Young, who says, “Cancer has affected my family these past three years. This artwork is for my family and others who are experiencing this too.”

“I hope my art encourages Aboriginal patients to keep fighting and stay strong. To know they’ve got a thousand ancestors walking behind them and they can come in here and feel comfortable culturally,” Ms Pettit-Young says. Ms Pettit-Young created her artwork in response to an invitation from the Nepean Cancer & Wellness Centre, who sought submissions from local Aboriginal artists to help create a more positive, welcoming and culturally appropriate environment for patients, carers and visitors.

As the winning artwork, elements of Ms Pettit-Young’s piece have also been incorporated into the facility’s wayfinding features that help guide patients to their appointments. Inclusive initiatives such as this can help make a difference to the experience of Aboriginal people accessing health services, the young artist says.

You can view the full story and watch a video featuring Aiesha Pettit-Young talking about her artwork click here.

Nepean Cancer & Wellness Centre staff (3 women) with Aboriginal artist Aiesha Pettit-Young holding artwork

Victorian Stolen Generations redress scheme

The Andrews Labor Government has today unveiled its landmark Stolen Generations Reparations Package, recognising the lasting suffering caused by the forced removal of Aboriginal children from their families. Members of the Stolen Generations will be able to access financial reparations, an apology from the state and healing support, with applications opening on Thursday 31 March 2022.

The package has been designed by and for Aboriginal people, backed by an investment of $155 million from the Labor Government. The Stolen Generations Reparations Steering Committee engaged with more than 400 members of Victoria’s Stolen Generations and their families during the consultation process in 2021. Those who are eligible can apply to receive financial reparations of $100,000, as well as a personal apology from the Government, access to healing and reconnection to Country programs, and an opportunity to share their story.

To view Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews’ media release in full click here.

Kutcha Edwards hugging tearful Eva Jo Edwards & Mick Edwards

A tearful Kutcha Edwards, Eva Jo Edwards and Mick Edwards said the redress scheme was about righting past wrongs. Photo: Simon Schulter. Image source: The Age.

Midland mental health centre opens

A new Midland Head to Health adult mental health centre has opened its doors for the first time this week to people seeking support for mild to moderate mental health concerns, including stress and anxiety, in Perth’s eastern suburbs. It provides a new approach in the mental health system and removes some of the traditional barriers for people seeking support for mental health concerns by offering a free, community-based walk-in service available from 10:00 AM – 8:00 PM every day of the year.

Midland Head to Health is part of an Australian Government initiative to trial a number of adult mental health centres nationally, to improve access to mental health services for people experiencing distress and who condition may be too complex for many existing primary care services, but don’t meet the criteria for acute services.

With input from members of the community with lived experience, it has been co-designed to feel welcoming and safe for everyone who visits, including LGBTIQ+ people, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and people from diverse cultural backgrounds.

To view the PHN Perth North Midland Head to Health media release in full click here.

Minister Ken Wyatt &* Senior Whadjuk man Vaughn McGuire in front of mental bin with smoking gum leaves

Hon Ken Wyatt AM MP and Senior Whadjuk man Vaughn McGuire at opening of Midland Head to Health.

$10.7m for NT FV services

Funding under the National Partnership on Family, Domestic and Sexual Violence responses will be tripled to boost frontline services in the NT in response to the chronic rates of violence and to work towards our Closing the Gap commitments. Minister for Women’s Safety Anne Ruston has announced an additional $10.7 million on top of the funding being provided under the $260 million National Partnership on Family, Domestic and Sexual Violence Responses. “The rates of violence against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and children in the NT are devastating and must be urgently addressed,” Minister Ruston said.

To view Senator Ruston’s media release in full click here.

card with cartoon drawing of Aboriginal man punching woman, kids crying

Image source: ABC News.

Solutions to accessing rural health care

A specialised roundtable discussion with rural health consumers has resulted in recommendations to help address gaps in accessing health services in rural, regional and remote Australia. The recommendations contained in a report published this week were made by participants of the Rural, Regional and Remote Roundtable on Health Service Access. The roundtable was facilitated by Consumers Health Forum (CHF) and the National Rural Health Alliance (NRHA) in December 2021.

The roundtable brought together rural consumers and experts across a range of medical and allied health disciplines to discuss issues that impact the most significant health challenge facing rural and remote communities – the equity of access to affordable, quality treatment and services. CHF and NRHA are leading advocates for improving rural health services and consumer health outcomes and say it is unacceptable that between city and rural there is a great divide in health service availability, choice, access and affordability.

Ten recommendations came out of the roundtable discussions, including changing Medicare to allow rebates for more than one health consultation or medical procedure per day and increasing the rebate for mental health care; funding local community groups to improve digital health literacy; developing a vocational (VET) training course for a health care coordinator role focusing entirely on patient navigation of the healthcare system; and advocating for the Rural Area Community Controlled Health Organisations  (RACCHO) model of primary health care services.

To view the NRHA and CHF media release in full click here.

highway road sign Fitzroy Crossing, Halls Creek, Wyndham

Image source: National Indigenous Times.

New process for job advertising

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

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

World Hearing Day

World Hearing Day in Australia is held on 3 March each year to raise awareness of how to prevent deafness and hearing loss, and to promote better ear protection and health across the world. The global theme of this year’s World Hearing Day is ‘To hear for life, listen with care’.

Hearing loss costs the Australian economy more than $15 billion a year. Then there’s the personal cost that we can’t put a dollar figure on. Hearing is vital for people’s communication abilities, quality of life, social participation, and health.

For more information on World Hearing Day 2022 visit the WHO website here.

tile text 'world hearing day 3 March' & outline of ear, sound waves & globe with Australia visible at top of the ear