NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Breaking down barriers to support mums-to-be

feature tile ATSI mum & baby at smoking ceremony; text 'Various initiatives implemented across Western Sydney to support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mums-to-be'

The image in the feature tile is of Aboriginal Elder Uncle Elvis and Kiralee Moss performing the smoking ceremony for Anne-Shirley Braun and baby Amelia at the first yarning circle at Westmead Hospital’s Cultural Gathering Place in June 2021. The image appeared in article Breaking down barriers to support western Sydney Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mums-to-be  published in The Pulse yesterday, Monday 5 June 2023.

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

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

Breaking down barriers to support mums-to-be

The Western Sydney Local Health District (WSLHD) Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Mums and Bubs Program Steering Committee is working hard to implement various initiatives to support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mums-to-be and their families across the district. With over 30 attendees, 40% of who identify as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, this committee is breaking down silos to improve health services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait families in a culturally appropriate way through establishing sustainable partnerships.

Committee member Jo Fuller is the Integrated and Community Health Priority Populations program lead at WSLHD, and since 2016 has managed the Aboriginal Health portfolio and was a founding member in starting this committee. Jo is passionate about service collaboration and strongly believes that reconciliation needs to be driven by non-Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island peoples. “Through the Mums and Bubs Program Steering Committee, we have been able to establish culturally sensitive and appropriate services and provide alternative pathways for the delivery of non-Aboriginal services to the local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities across western Sydney,” said Jo.

One example of this is the Westmead Hospital Midwifery Caseload Practice and Westmead Dragonfly Midwifery group that offers culturally safe midwifery continuity of care for women from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families with a service that runs 24/7 during pregnancies and up to six weeks following birth.

To view The Pulse article Breaking down barriers to support western Sydney Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mums-to-be in full click here.

Belinda Cashman (Acting Director Aboriginal Health Strategy), Koorine Trewlynn (Principal Project Officer Kimberwalli)

Belinda Cashman (Acting Director Aboriginal Health Strategy), Koorine Trewlynn (Principal Project Officer Kimberwalli). Image source: The Pulse.

Stolen as a child, now training others to heal

Aunty Lorraine Peeters’s last memory of her homeland was watching the mission gates fade into the distance from the back of a rattly truck. After being snatched from her parents at Brewarrina Mission in NW NSW in 1942, four-year-old Lorraine was taken 650 kms south with her five sisters to Cootamundra Domestic Training Home for Aboriginal Girls. The Wailwan Gamilaroi woman’s life was about to change forever.

Separated from her sisters, Aunty Lorraine described being ripped from her family and culture and “plonked into another” as a government-led assimilation strategy to get rid of her people. “Brainwashed, abused, and the whip — if you ever used your own culture,” she said while reflecting on the former home’s mantra of ‘act white, speak white, be white’. “I really think it was a genocide of our race.”

Lorraine Peeters has step up a program, Maumali, to help other members of the Stolen Generations, and the wide community, work through and understand trauma. Marumali is a Gamilaroi word for “put back together”.

To view the ABC News article Lorraine Peeters was stolen and trained to be a servant in NSW, now she trains others to heal in full click here.

Aunty Lorraine Peeters leaning on bridge wall

Aunty Lorraine Peeters. Photo: Carly Williams, ABC News.

Health advocate address UN delegates

To deliver a speech for your own nation among the nation states of the world in diplomatic Geneva is always deemed a privilege, but one personal address from the heart of the world’s oldest continuous living culture was worth the wait of the journey. There Pat Anderson from the podium was surveying the eyes of the room of delegates of United Nations members staring back, all the while carrying the weight of 65,000 years of history proudly on the resilient Alyawarre woman’s shoulders.

The internationally-recognised advocate for Indigenous health grew up from humble beginnings and that upbringing was not far from her mind in that moment. “All I was thinking is, ‘I am a long way from Darwin, let alone a long way from Parap camp’,” Pat says. Parap camp, which she called once home, was a collection of surplus army tents, pegged down and sheltered away from the rest of established Darwin for Aboriginal and “mixed” families to exist.

“That’s where my parents instilled in us a really strong sense of justice and what was right and wrong. They also encouraged us to be brave, to stand up and say what you needed to say. I’ve spent my life of trying to make change, trying to educate, trying to convince, trying to coax, trying to cajole what is a wider community to our cause,” Pat says. “We are a sovereign people, an ancient people, we have knowledge and we are of value.”

To view the National Indigenous Times article Pat Anderson’s long journey has important steps to come in full click here.

Pat Anderson arms crossed across chest standing under gum tree

Pat Anderson. Photo: Andrew Mathieson. Image source: National Indigenous Times.

JCU welcomes first Indigenous Chancellor

Last Thursday 1 June 2023, at James Cook University’s (JCU) Bebegu Yumba Campus in Townsville, on the lawns in front of the Eddie Koiki Mabo Library Professor Ngiare Brown was welcomed as JCU’s  sixth Chancellor. Professor Brown is the first female and first Indigenous to assume the university’s most senior governance and strategy role.

“I’m a Yuin nation woman from the South Coast of NSW. I’m a doctor by trade, a mother, a researcher, a clinician, and I get up to lots of mischief,” she said. “I find this quite an extraordinary opportunity. I would never have anticipated being approached for such a role. I am hoping that I can be a good role model for other women, girls, other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples but also people who have limited opportunities in their current context. There are institutions that want them to be part of their journey.”

Deputy chancellor Jayne Arlett said the appointment of the institution’s first female and first Indigenous chancellor was “significant. She is an exceptional person with very high standing at a national and international level,” she said.

You can read more about Professor Ngiare Brown in the ABC News article New James Cook University chancellor hopes to bridge education divide amid ‘growth period’ here.

16 seated people, 13 in academic robes, 3 women in civilian attire; Professor Ngaire Brown at investiture as Chancellor of JCU

Professor Ngaire Brown seated in the middle of the front row at her investiture as Chancellor of James Cook University on 1 June 2023.

Perception Alice Springs unsafe deters workers

Top NT doctor John Boffa says alcohol restrictions mean Alice Springs is “back to being a safe place” but and healthcare workers are being put off coming to the area by “a situation which has largely been addressed”.

Central Australian Aboriginal Congress (CAAC) chief medical officer Dr John Boffa said the “single most important factor” in attracting healthcare workers to the region was to “get the message out that Alice Springs is now safe. The crisis is over, we’re back to where we were in 2021 and we had no staff not coming in because they said it was unsafe,” he said.

“But unfortunately in the national picture there’s still this perception that this town is unsafe as it was leading up to Christmas last year — that’s not true.”

The above has been extracted from the NT News article Top Alice Springs doctor John Boffa says alcohol restrictions mean the town is now ‘safe’ published earlier today.

CAAC Chief Medical Officer John Boffa speaking to media outside building

CAAC Chief Medical Officer John Boffa said the “situation” in Alice Springs had largely been addressed by alcohol restrictions. Photo: Laura Hooper. Image source: NT News.

Culturally appropriate mental health support coming

People in the Alice Springs region will soon have access to free, and culturally appropriate mental health and wellbeing support in their own community. Together, the Australian Government and NT Government are investing $11.5m to establish and operate new adult and kids Head to Health services, which are expected to open in 2024.

The Head to Health services in Alice Springs will be safe and welcoming places for all people, with a strong focus on being culturally safe and responsive to meet the needs of First Nations people. Head to Health services provide compassionate, flexible and high-quality mental health and wellbeing support from multidisciplinary care teams. People can be seen  without an appointment, to get the services they need from a range of professionals, which may include First Nations health workers, psychologists, paediatricians, nurses, social workers and peer support workers.

The new Head to Health service for adults will provide short to medium-term care for people with moderate to severe levels of mental illness. This new service will take a holistic approach to supporting mental health and wellbeing, and provide immediate support and follow up for people who are in crisis or distress. The new Head to Health Kids service will deliver culturally appropriate specialist therapeutic services for children ages 0 to 12 years, strengthening outcomes for children’s mental health and wellbeing and their families throughout the Central Australia region.

Both of these Head to Health services will be co-designed in close partnership with the Central Australian Aboriginal Congress (CAAC) and First Nations representatives, health professionals and service providers, as well as local communities, including people with lived and living experience of mental ill-health and families experiencing childhood difficulties.

To view The Hon Emma McBride MP, Assistant Minister for Mental Health and Suicide Prevention and Assistant Minister Rural and Regional Health’s media release New free mental health services for Alice Springs in full click here.

Head to Health logo: Aboriginal boy Dujuan Hoosan sitting on hells near home in Hidden Valley in Alice Springs

Head to Health logo and Dugjuan Hoosan sitting in hills near his home Hidden Valley in Alice Springs. Photo: Maya Newell – Director of In my blood it runs. Image source: Alice Springs News.

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: Imagining Australia without racism

Wayne Nannup - CEO Aboriginal Legal Service of WA

The image in the feature tile is of Wayne Nannup, CEO of the Aboriginal Legal Service of WA as it appeared in a National Indigenous Times article Imagine what our country would be like without racism published on Wednesday 31 May 2023. Photo: Giovanni Torre.

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

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

Imagining Australia without racism

Wayne Nannup, CEO of the Aboriginal Legal Service of WA has written an opinion piece for the National Indigenous Times where he asks us to imagine a life without racism: “We could live at peace in a country that values its First Nations Peoples and recognises us within the Constitution. We could walk freely through shopping centres or ride on trains without the fear of being followed or harassed.”

Mr Nannup says “racism doesn’t discriminate between how little or well-known we are. The colour of our skin continues to be targeted by the ill-informed and bigoted members of society. Racism, or discrimination based on race or ethnicity shatters the world that so many of us live in. It generates depression, affects self-esteem and creates a sense of helplessness and loss and also contributes to increasing physical and mental health disparities amongst our people. The reality is that racism is more evident now than ever before.”

To view the National Indigenous Times article Imagine what our country would be like without racism in full click here.

In a related story the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) is currently working on a national anti-racism framework (NARF), which will be a national, central reference point for anti-racism action.

Following on from the release of the NARF Scoping Report 2022, the AHRC has launched a community guide to the scoping report findings to better support understanding of a NARF including how communities can be part of the ongoing process to develop it. The Community Guide (currently being translated into 7 languages alongside the development of an Easy Read Guide) summarises the initial findings outlined in the NARF Scoping Report 2022.

The AHRC have also prepared an amplification kit, available here, which includes a suite of digital and social media content for organisations to raise awareness of the newly published Community Guide available here.

cover of National Anti-Racism Framework Scoping Report 2022 Community Guide'

Health checks for mob fell during pandemic

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) has released a report about Indigenous-specific health checks during the COVID-19 pandemic.

This report explores the impacts of COVID‑19 and associated restrictions on the number of Indigenous-specific MBS health check services provided to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people between January 2020 and December 2021. The analysis examines the impacts of COVID‑19 by year and month at the national, state/territory and Greater Capital City Statistical Areas levels.

Following a decade of annual growth, 2020 and 2021 were the first years without an increase in Indigenous-specific health check numbers. The number of health checks delivered during the first 2 years of the pandemic were somewhat lower than during the peak year of 2019 – despite the continuing growth of the Indigenous population.

New telehealth options for Indigenous-specific health checks were introduced at the start of the pandemic. These were used most commonly shortly after being introduced, but then the numbers of health checks delivered this way declined gradually. The impact of the pandemic on the use of Indigenous health checks varied across Australia. Tasmania, which was relatively unaffected by cases and restrictions, stood out as the state that appeared to be the least affected during 2020 and 2021.

To read the AIHW report Indigenous-‍specific health checks during the COVID-19 pandemic in full click here.

Stolen Generations survivors need Healing Card 

The Healing Foundation is urging the Federal Government to implement its recommendations for a universal Healing Card for Stolen Generations survivors, modelled on the existing “Gold Card” scheme for veterans.

Under proposals submitted by the Healing Foundation for Federal Budget considerations over the past two years, eligible Gold Card holders would have access to all primary healthcare needs to support them to stay out of hospital, all clinically necessary treatment, and supports and services that assist them to live at home including respite services for survivors and their carers. The Gold Card would also enable them to access healing programs that involve family and community.

By implementing the proposal, Federal Aged Care Minister Anika Wells and Health and Aged Care Minister Mark Butler could make a real difference to the lives of Stolen Generations survivors and their families, Fiona Cornforth, CEO for the Healing Foundation said.

To view the Croakey Health Media article Timely call for health reform to support healing for the Stolen Generations in full click here.

Stolen Generations survivors Valerie Woods (L) & Brenda Greenfield-Woods

Stolen Generations survivors Valerie Woods (L) and Brenda Greenfield-Woods in Canberra, for the Healing Foundation’s 15th Anniversary of the National Apology Event. Photo: Luke Currie-Richardson. Image source: Croakey Health Media.

GPs encouraged to call out racism

While reconciliation touches on all aspects of Australian society, RACGP Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Chair Dr Karen Nicholls says its role in improving Indigenous health outcomes cannot be overstated.

In particular, she said it is important for GP allies to recognise and acknowledge that racism is present within Australia’s healthcare system and has a significant impact on the health and wellbeing patients, as well as their families and communities. “Clearly, we want a health system that is far more culturally safe than what it is,” Dr Nicholls said. “Part of that means that when you see racism, call it out. Definitely, definitely call it out.”

She also says more needs to be done to protect people who speak up about racism, while continued effort is required to dismantle the structural features that allow it to thrive in Australian healthcare.

To view the RACGP newsGP article GPs encouraged to call out racism in healthcare in full click here.

black & white hands clasped

National Reconciliation Week 2023 is promoting allyship by encouraging all Australians to ‘be a voice for generations’. Image source: RACGP newsGP.

Brewarrina’s water, land, future all connected

Water has always been the basis of life in the bush. Speak to any local and they will remember the spark of life that returned to the community when water breached the Brewarrina Weir after years and years of drought. To local Aboriginal communities, cultural water flows create the basis of life for plants, animals, bush medicine – and impact on the physical and mental health of Aboriginal communities right across the region.

Brewarrina Local Aboriginal Land Council is currently in the process of developing opportunities to bring water and life back to local lands and they have taken a group of experts to assess a block of land close to everyone’s heart, the lands associated with the local Aboriginal Mission. A big part of the discussions related to Cultural Flows, the understanding of local Indigenous needs, and how Aboriginal needs are included in future water usage.

According to the Echuca Declaration of 2010, “Cultural flows are water entitlements that are legally and beneficially owned by the Indigenous Nations of a sufficient and adequate quantity and quality to improve the spiritual, cultural, environmental, social, and economic conditions of those Nations. This is our inherent right.”

To view the Western Plains App article Leaders connecting land, water and Brewarrina’s future in full click here.

Brewarrina Fish Traps

Brewarrina Fish Traps. Photo: Urain Warraweena. Image source: Brewarrina Local Aboriginal Land Council Facebook site.

Sector Jobs

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

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

Key Date – Reconciliation Week 27 May – 3 June

In the lead up to National Reconciliation Week (27 May – 3 June 2023) Reconciliation Australia expressed their support for Stan Grant in the face of the racist attacks he has been subjected to, and urged Australians to engage in the national debate on these matters in an informed and respectful manner.

Reconciliation Australia said that while Stan’s experience demonstrated once again that Australia still has a long way to go towards building a reconciled and just society, it retained its hope and optimism in the good hearts of most Australians. 

Even while Stan Grant was being savaged online for speaking truthfully about the experiences of colonialism during the recent coronation, 84% of Australians believe it is important to know about the histories of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Australia.  

You can read Reconciliation Australia’s media release Stan Grant and Racism in full here.

tile with text 'National Reconciliation Week'

Image source: Only Melbourne website.

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: National Sorry Day 2023

Feature tile image of Katrina Fanning; text 'National Sorry Day is about having empathy - providing support to others should not be limited to people you have personally wronged'

The image in the feature tile is of recently named 2023 Canberra Citizen of the Year – Wiradjuri woman Katrina Fanning AO PSM. The image appeared in today’s ABC News article Today is National Sorry Day, but many Indigenous Australians say they’re still being asked: ‘Why should I apologise?‘.

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

We also share a curated selection of news stories that are of likely interest to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health sector, broadly. The content included in these news stories are not necessarily NACCHO endorsed.

National Sorry Day 2023

Australia marks National Sorry Day on 26 May each year, remembering and acknowledging the mistreatment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who were forcibly removed as children from their families and communities, otherwise known as the Stolen Generations. Children were taken because of official laws and government policies at the time, which aimed to assimilate the Indigenous population into the non-Indigenous community. The children were renamed, forced to stop speaking their native language, and were told their parents no longer wanted them. The policies were in effect right up until the 1970s, and many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are still searching for lost parents and siblings today.

The first National Sorry Day was held 25 years ago, commemorating one year after the Bringing Them Home report was tabled in federal parliament. The report found the forced removal of Indigenous children had caused lifelong impacts on Stolen Generations survivors and their families. Ten years later, in February 2008, then-prime minister Kevin Rudd made a formal apology to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people; saying sorry to the Stolen Generations.

Former rugby league star and proud Wiradjuri woman Katrina Fanning says National Sorry Day is about having empathy. “Where there’s parts of our history where there’s tragedy, where there’s struggle, I feel emotions for those people,” she said. Ms Fanning said providing support to others should not be limited to people you had personally wronged. “I haven’t caused a drought, I never fought in a war, but I have empathy for the situation that fellow Australians went through and the sacrifices they made to make this country a better place.”

Ms Fanning said she felt a sense of sadness for those who did not acknowledge the Stolen Generations or want to say sorry, as they weren’t able to understand the shared history of Australia. “They don’t understand that this whole community of people exemplify what it is to be Australian, with resilience and toughness and dignity and pride,” she said. “I feel like they’re missing out on the fabric of Australia, not the other way around.” Ms Fanning said her family had been subject to similar comments about not wanting to apologise, but they tended not to react. “They lived at a time where reacting would have them arrested, have them banned from town, have them banned from school,” she said. “I see a simmer in them. I see something that they’ve had to carry, and a burden that they’ve had to shoulder for a very long time.”

To view the ABC News article Today is National Sorry Day, but many Indigenous Australians say they’re still being asked: ‘Why should I apologise?‘ in full click here.

Trauma and poor mental health linked

The link between exposure to trauma and increased risk of poor mental health is well established. Where trauma is unacknowledged, it can result in the re-traumatisation of later generations. The colonisation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and the oppressive practices that followed has resulted in a legacy of unaddressed intergenerational trauma. This prolonged and continuing exposure to trauma and risk factors places Indigenous Australians at a heightened risk of mental ill-health.

A paper Intergenerational trauma and mental health recently released by the Australian Government Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) aims to define the link between intergenerational trauma and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ mental health and to identify current best-practice policies and programs to address this issue.

You can view the AIHW paper Intergenerational trauma and mental health in full here.cover of AIHW Intergenerational trauma & mental health paper 2023

Butt Out Boondah tackles youth smoking

Butt Out Boondah, the Tackling Indigenous Smoking team of Grand Pacific Health, is urging young mob in Cooma, Yass, Queanbeyan and Goulburn to take a stand against tobacco use and vaping ahead of World No Tobacco Day, which is being held on Wednesday 31 May 2023. Butt Out Bondah focuses on educating Indigenous communities in the aforementioned areas about the dangers of Tobacco smoking and e-cigarettes to help in bridging the health gap.

The program addresses the pressing concern of vaping among young people in these communities, which is mistakenly seen as a safer alternative to smoking tobacco. Butt Out Boondah’s Strategic Coordinator for Aboriginal Health, Iona Marsh said World No Tobacco Day provides an opportunity to emphasise the detrimental effects of smoking and vaping.

“The concerning reality is that Indigenous young people in regions like Cooma, Goulburn, Yass and Queanbeyan are often unaware of the hazardous substances they are inhaling, and it is our duty to equip them and their parents with the knowledge and tools necessary to make informed decisions about their health,” she said. To raise awareness, the program actively engages with local primary and high schools, educating school-aged children about the dangers associates with smoking and vaping.

To view the National Indigenous Times article Butt Out Boondah tackles Indigenous youth smoking and vaping ahead of World No Tobacco Day in full click here.

Butt Out Boondah promotion stand in school grounds under a tree

Butt Out Boondah is encouraging First Nations peoples to take a stand against tobacco use and vaping ahead of World No Tobacco Day Photo: Butt Out Boondah. Image source: National Indigenous Times.

Darwin, Broome, Port Hedland will be uninhabitable

Three major economic centres, Darwin, Broome and Port Hedland, are set to become uninhabitable by the end of the century, with global temperatures on track to warm by 2.7C. The destinations are just three of many in the northwestern section of Australia facing “niche displacement” in the next 70 years. New research by The University of Exeter, published in the science journal Nature Sustainability this week, calculates the human cost of climate inaction based on current insufficient policies and government inaction. Two billion people will be living with unprecedented mean average temperatures (MAT) above 29C, the report states.

MAT >29C is the point at which wellbeing scientifically declines, labour productivity and cognitive ability shrinks, negative pregnancy outcomes are produced, and mortality rates soar. 20% of Australia — about 374,977 Australians — will be impacted in this way by a 2.7C temperature increase, the report calculates. They would join a third of the world’s population, including in South-East Asia, India, Africa and South America. In Darwin, a 3C warmer world would mean that, for 265 days of the year, temperatures would soar higher than 35C. At 40C, humidity increases and temperatures become lethal, according to the Australian Academy of Science.

The University of Exeter report also explains the effects of a “wet-bulb temperature” — where temperature and humidity are combined. In temperatures above 28C (WBT) the body struggles to cool itself by sweating, and fails to do so in temperatures above 35C (WBT), which can be fatal. By limiting global warming to just 1.5C — which is the aim of the Paris Agreement — 80% of those globally at risk of rising temperatures would remain in their climate niche. But a 1.5C increase will still unleash severe and irreversible effects on people, wildlife and ecosystems, scientists warn.

To view the 7 News article Three Australian regions that will become unlivable within a lifetime due to climate change in full click here.

GYHSAC videos amplify public health message

Gurriny Yealamucka Health Services Aboriginal Corporation (GYHSAC) has just released a deadly public health promotion music video produced for GYHSAC by Saltwater People. The video’s message, in Language, encourages kids to keep their bodies and minds strong. The tune and accompanying music video are not only catchy but have an important health literacy message for all young mob out there.

The video was a project involving the GYHSAC Public Health team and several outside groups, including:

  • Singer / Songwriter / Producer Normey Jay
  • Patrick Mau – One Blood Hidden Image Entertainment Group (the first Torres Strait independent record label operating out of the Torres Strait Islands)
  • Yarrabah State School
  • David Mundraby – Local Language Translation

GYHSAC have thanked these groups and the incredible Yarrabah kids for their willingness to work with the GYHSAC Public Health team to help create a positive public health message, and assist GYHSAC to amplify the positive message to community and the wider social media world.

You can view the 3-minute Bina-N Wanggi music video below as well as the 1 minute Bina-N Wanggi Behind the Scenes video, which gives you a look behind the scenes of the filming and production of the music video.

Sector Jobs

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

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

Key Date – National Palliative Care Week 2023

As part of National Palliative Care Week 2023 (21–27 May) NACCHO has been sharing a range of information and resources specifically developed for for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and professional workers. The term palliative care refers to person and family-centred care provided for someone with an active, progressive, advanced disease, who has little to no prospect of cure and who is expected to pass on, and for whom the primary goal is to optimise the quality of life. Palliative care identifies and treats symptoms which may be physical, emotional, spiritual or social. Due to a person’s individual needs, the services offered can be diverse. The term end-of-life care refers to the last few weeks of life in which a patient with a life-limiting illness is rapidly approaching passing. Of note, sometimes these terms can be used interchangeably or have different definitions.

When providing person-centred care to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, it is important to ask the person who they would like involved in discussions about their health care as they may have decision makers or spokespersons who should be involved in all discussions and decisions regarding that person’s care. The time surrounding the end of someone’s life is precious and needs to be respected and approached in a safe, responsive and culturally appropriate manner. It is important that a person has the option to decide where they will pass, if possible. This may include a choice to be on Country, at home or in a hospital at the time of passing.

A collaboration between Palliative Care Australia and the Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet with funding from the Australian Government have developed the Palliative Care and End-of-Life Care portal. The portal is designed to assist the health workforce who provide care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, their families and communities. It seeks to support both clinicians and policy-makers in accessing resources, research and projects on palliative and end-of-life care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

The above information has been extracted from the Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet’s webpage Palliative Care and End-of-Life Care, available here. In the video below you can hear Aboriginal Community Support Worker, Chris Thorne talk about his personal experience with a family member and the value and importance of having an advance care plan in place.

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: CAAC to deliver Urgent Care Clinic in Alice Springs

feature tile image of young ATSI boy having an ear examination; text 'Central Australian Aboriginal Congress to deliver a new Urgent Care Clinic in Alice Springs'

The image in the feature tile is of a medical examination being undertaken at a Central Australian Aboriginal Congress (CAAC) health service. Image source: CAAC website.

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

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

CAAC to deliver Urgent Care Clinic in Alice Springs

The Commonwealth and NT Governments will establish two new Medicare Urgent Care Clinics (UCCs) in Palmerston and Alice Springs. The NT Government is in advanced stages of negotiations with the Palmerston GP Super Clinic to deliver the Urgent Care Clinic in Darwin and with Central Australian Aboriginal Congress (CAAC) to deliver the Urgent Care Clinic in Alice Springs.

These UCCs will provide bulk billed treatment for urgent but non-life-threatening emergencies. They will be open extended hours, seven days a week. The UCCs will reduce demand pressures on the Territory’s public hospitals and planning is underway in partnership with local primary health providers.

The UCCs will:

  • Improve access to urgent care in non-hospital settings, particularly for vulnerable groups including people with a disability, First Nations people and people from culturally and linguistically diverse communities.
  • Reduce the pressure on emergency department presentations in partner hospitals by providing patients with short term, episodic care for urgent conditions that are not immediately life-threatening.
  • Support integration with existing local health services and complement general practice.

These clinics will be up and running providing urgent care to the local communities by the middle of the year. Category 4 and 5 presentations, non-life-threatening emergencies, make up just over 40% of the total presentations to hospitals in the NT. Medicare UCCs will help make care closer to home possible.

To read the Prime Minister, Chief Minister of the NT and the Minister for Health and Aged Care’s joint media release Medicare urgent care clinics and new cancer treatment for the NT in full click here.

PM Albanese announcing Medicare UCCs in Darwin & Alice Springs

Mr Albanese in Darwin yesterday making the announcement about the new Medicare UCCs. Photo: Matt Garrick, ABC News.

Reform leads to increased PHC utilisation

Globally, Indigenous populations experience poorer health but use less primary healthcare than their non-Indigenous counterparts. In 2010, the Australian government introduced a targeted reform aimed at reducing these disparities. The reform reduced, or abolished prescription medicine co-payments and provided financial incentives for GPs to better manage chronic disease care for Indigenous peoples.

A study has been undertaken to investigate how the reform affected these health disparities in primary and specialist healthcare utilisation using longitudinal administrative data from 75,826 Australians, including 1,896 Indigenous peoples, with cardiovascular disease. The differences-in-differences estimates indicate that the reform increased primary healthcare use among Indigenous peoples, including 12.9% more prescription medicines, 6.6% more GP services, and 34% more chronic disease services, but also reduced specialist attendances by 11.8%.  Increases in primary care were larger for those who received the largest co-payment relief and lived in metropolitan regions, whereas the reduction in specialist attendances was concentrated among lower income Indigenous patients.

The study concluded that affirmative action can reduce disparities in healthcare utilisation however careful policy design, and ongoing evidence generation, is required to ensure that reform benefits are equitable, target populations of need, and do not lead to substitution away from valuable, or necessary, care.

To view the research article Does affirmative action reduce disparities in healthcare use by Indigenous peoples? Evidence from Australia’s Indigenous Practice Incentives Program in full click here.

ATSI man having a finger prick test in a health clinic

Image source: Choose Your Own Health Career website.

Human Experience Week about love, belonging and healing

Love, belonging and healing are the cornerstones of this year’s NSW Health Human Experience Week (1–7 May); a week co-designed by NSW Health staff and consumers that promises to immerse attendees in new ideas, innovation, with best practice reinforced and new information introduced. At Westmead Hospital yesterday Darug Nation Local Aboriginal woman, Erin Wilkins, opened the event with a Welcome to Country that reflected on the sensitivities and protocols required to cater to the needs of patients and staff from different cultural backgrounds to improve human experience and inclusion for all.

Western Sydney Local Health District (WSLHD) chief executive, Graeme Loy, conveyed his appreciation for the district to be hosting such a critical NSW Health event and the scope of partnerships that makes up human experience which includes consumers, clinicians, carers, their family members, and staff. Mr Loy said “This morning’s session is underpinned by the impact of healthcare on the Stolen Generation and multiculturalism, which is very important to us in western Sydney, as we have the largest First Nations population in the state.”

WSLHD Aboriginal Health Strategy acting district director, Belinda Cashman, said “At WSLHD, we’re currently hearing what Aboriginal people have to say in our communities; we’re looking at a new maternity model of care; creating advisory communities, holding staff network meetings and engaging in a variety of other programs that we offer to work together to close the gap.”

To view The Pulse article All of Us: The Power of Community – Human Experience Week 2023 kicks off at Westmead Hospital – PART 1 in full click here.

Effects of Mental Health First Aid training for mob

Non-suicidal self-injury (NSSI) is a complex issue affecting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in Australia. Researchers have evaluated the effects of an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Mental Health First Aid (AMHFA) training course on assisting an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander person engaging in NSSI, including the effects on stigmatising attitudes, confidence in ability to assist, and intended and actual assisting actions.

Improvements were observed in stigmatising attitudes, with significant changes observed. Participants’ confidence in ability to assist also increased significantly both postcourse and at follow-up. 82.7% of participants who identified as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander rated the course content as very culturally appropriate.

The results of the trial were encouraging, suggesting that over 5 hours of the Talking About Non-Suicidal Self-Injury course was able to improve participants’ attitudes, confidence and intended assisting behaviours, including among those with prior experience and training. Assisting actions recommended during the training were implemented by several participants in the 6 months since participating in the training course, demonstrating immediate benefits for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

To view the research article Effects of an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Mental Health First Aid training programme for non-suicidal self-injury on stigmatising attitudes, confidence in ability to assist, and intended and actual assisting actions: an uncontrolled trial with precourse and postcourse measurement and 6-month follow-up published in BMJ Open in full click here.

5 women from Yoorana Gunya Family Healing Centre undertaking ATSI Mental Health First Aid Training

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Mental Health First Aid Training at Yoorana Gunya Family Healing Centre (YGFHC). Image source: YGFHC website.

Health service delays driving families apart

Indigenous parents struggling with substance abuse are being permanently separated from their children due to delays in Victoria’s public health system, a truth-telling inquiry has heard. Under state law, parents battling problems such as addiction are given up to two years to get the help they need before their children can be permanently placed in out-of-home care.

But it often takes longer to access public mental health, drug and alcohol services, putting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander parents at risk of losing their children, the Yoorrook Justice Commission heard. “The current alcohol and other drug service system is under very significant strain at the moment,” Katherine Whetton, deputy secretary, mental health and wellbeing at the Department of Health told the commission yesterday. “I believe there are waiting lists for those services … I would say that there would be people that have trouble getting the care and treatment they need.”

To view the Health Times article Health service delays hit Indigenous parents in full click here.

Brett Moran, a counsellor at Marrin Weejali, sitting on set of his house with wife, Kristy, and 3 children, Shania-Rose, Maddison-Lee and Ivy-Grace

Brett Moran, a counsellor at Marrin Weejali (Sydney’s only Aboriginal-run drug and alcohol counselling centre), with his wife and three daughters. Moran now runs the same groups at the centre he once joined as a client. Photo: Carly Earl, The Guardian.

Health Minister to ban disposable vapes

Disposable vapes used by more than a million Australians will be banned under a major crackdown on vaping that aims to rid convenience store shelves of thousands of products, but the federal government will make it easier for people to vape with a doctor’s prescription. Health Minister Mark Butler laid out the government’s ambitious plans to eliminate a rampant vaping black market in a National Press Club speech today amid concerns that a new generation of young people have become addicted to nicotine.

Nicotine vapes are already illegal without a doctor’s prescription but legal loopholes and weak enforcement at the border and in shops have allowed sales to flourish under the counter as well as online. One in six teenagers between 14 and 17 have vaped and a quarter of 18 to 24–year-olds have vaped, according to a recent study published in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health, while Butler has previously said there were as many as 2 million vapers in Australia.

Australia will achieve a world first if it successfully winds back the black market – which sources most of its products from China – and limits vaping to people with a doctor’s prescription.

To view the WAtoday article ‘This must end’: Butler to ban disposable vapes as part of black market crackdown in full click here and Minister Butler’s media release Taking Action on Smoking and vaping in full here.

young woman, arms crossed, holding a vape, face obscured by smoke

Image: Getty Creative. Image source: Forbes Health.

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: 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 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:

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.