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

NACCHO CEO delivers Dr Mickey Dewar Oration

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

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

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

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

New Minister for Indigenous Australians

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

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

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

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

Collaboration key to reconciliation

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

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

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

To view the article in full click here.

Image source: Others magazine.

Courage to be uncomfortable needed

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

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

To read The Conversation article in full click here.

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

COVID-19 – a barrier to early cancer diagnosis

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

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

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

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

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

Mental health crisis in flood-affected NSW

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

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

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

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

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

Cultural responsiveness training encouraged

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

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

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

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

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

New process for job advertising

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

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

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

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

‘Sorry’ is not enough – we need action

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

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

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

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

Aunty Lindy Lawler on her path to healing

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

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

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

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

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

First Nations nurse under-supply urgent

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

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

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

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

Fighting inequitable healthcare access

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

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

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

New advice on winter boosters

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

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

Links are provided below for the key documents:

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

Image source: Disability Support Guide.

Low booster uptake concerns experts

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

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

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

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

Image source: Jimboomba Times.

Our Country Our Story mental health program

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

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

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

HIV is just a part of me – Michelle

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

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

New process for job advertising

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

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

World Tobacco Day

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

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

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

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

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

Uluru Statement from the Heart explained

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

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

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

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

Child protection overrepresentation continues

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

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

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

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

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

Culturally appropriate housing possible

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

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

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

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

Innovative approaches to health care

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

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

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

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

Image source: RACGP webiste.

Climate change – dramatic health threat

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

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

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

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

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

Book your flu shot without delay

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

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

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

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

Indigenous health research opportunity

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

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

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

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

New process for job advertising

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

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

iSISTAQUIT campaign launch

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

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

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

Image source: ISISTERQUIT website.

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

Simple free bowel cancer test saves lives

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

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

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

‘I was whitewashed’ says Uncle Jack Charles

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

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

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

Uncle Jack Charles outside the Victoria Aboriginal Health Service, Fitzroy

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

Protect your mob – immunisation campaign

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

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

Children need commitment in this election

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

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

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

Image source: SBS TV.

Jacci – no choice but to leave Katherine

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

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

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

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

Image source: Manning River Times.

Universal access to oral healthcare needed

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

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

Image source: Armajun Aboriginal Health Service website.

Fierce advocacy for mob will be remembered

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

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

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

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

Kathy Mills

Kathy Mills. Photo: Terry McDonald, ABC News.

New process for job advertising

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

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

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

Labor releases Indigenous health policy

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

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

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

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

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

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

Calls for healthcare language boost

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

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

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

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

Founding Yothu Yindi member Witiyana Marika

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

Why Western therapy is not the answer

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

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

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

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

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

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

Broncos support IUIH’s Deadly Choices

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

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

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

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

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

Selwyn Cobbo. Image source: Broncos website.

NT AHW Excellence Awards noms open

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

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

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

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

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

Swapping the screen for nature

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

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

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

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

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

Barriers to physical activity for mob

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

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

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

Photo: IUIH. Image source: Exercise Right website.

New process for job advertising

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

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

World Immunisation Week

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

10-year plan to increase workforce

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

NACCHO COVID-19 staff & NACCHO Chair Donnella Mills

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

Plans for dedicated Fitzroy Valley ACCHS

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

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

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

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

highway road sign Fitzroy Crossing

Image source: National Indigenous Times.

ARF and patient knowledge exchange

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

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

To view the article in full click here or here.

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

Image source: scimex.

New clinical guideline for autism

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

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

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

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

Aboriginal mum kissing check of young son with school bag

Image source: Autism Association of WA.

Stolen Generation redress scheme holdouts

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

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

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

Boys at the Churches of Christ Mission in Norseman WA.

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

New SA Aboriginal mental health centre

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

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

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

ACT prison mental health care ineffective

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

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

To view the Riotact article in full click here.

light shaft on closed internal AMC prison doors

Alexander Maconochie Centre. Image source: The Canberra Times.

New process for job advertising

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

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

16th National Rural Health Conference

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

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

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

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

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

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

Anti-viral treatments an important tool

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

First Nations children’s hearing health

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Connecting culture to cancer care

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

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

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

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

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

Victorian Stolen Generations redress scheme

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

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

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

Kutcha Edwards hugging tearful Eva Jo Edwards & Mick Edwards

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

Midland mental health centre opens

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

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

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

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

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

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

$10.7m for NT FV services

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

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

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

Image source: ABC News.

Solutions to accessing rural health care

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

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

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

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

highway road sign Fitzroy Crossing, Halls Creek, Wyndham

Image source: National Indigenous Times.

New process for job advertising

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

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

World Hearing Day

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

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

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: NACCHO Medical Advisor on WA COVID-19

feature tile text 'NACCHO Medical Advisor Dr Jason Agostino concerned for remote communities as WA drops hard border' & portrait photo of Jason against Aboriginal dot art

Image in feature tile: NACCHO Medical Advisor Dr Jason Agostino. Image source: ANU Medical School.

NACCHO Medical Advisor on WA COVID-19

As WA drops its hard border at midnight tonight, many are concerned about the toll the virus might take in remote communities. On ABC RN Breakfast this morning Gerard Coffey, CEO of Ngaanyatjarra Health Service Aboriginal Corporation, WA and Dr Jason Agostino, NACCHO Medical Advisor spoke to reporter Jade Clarke about their concerns, including overcrowded housing and insecure power supply in areas where temperatures are as high as 50 degrees.

You can listen to the RN Breakfast with Patricia Karvevlas segment in full here.

6 Aboriginal people sitting outside house in disrepair

Photo: Getty Images/AFP/G. Wood. Image source: DW Made for Minds. website.

Good News Story Winners

NACCHO is pleased to announce the winners of our inaugural Good News Story competition:

  • Peter McCullagh, Marketing & Communications Officer, Gurriny Yealamucka Health Services Aboriginal Corporation (GYHSAC), Yarrabah, Queensland who submitted two stories, the first about how the Yarrabah community reached the important 90% first vaccination level and the second about how GYHSAC CEO Suzanne Andrews spoke out to counter anti-vax misinformation.
  • Kim Moffitt from Albury Wodonga Aboriginal Health Service for her entry about her nine-week placement in Tennant Creek working as an Aboriginal Health Practitioner / Nurse Immuniser as part of the government’s “Vaccination Acceleration Campaign” targeting remote communities.

Both winners will receive $200 to put towards a meal to share with their colleagues.

Jilara Murgha, Dr Matt Durden and Heather Robertson from Gurriny Yealamucka HSAC and Kim Moffitt from Albury Wodonga AHS

Jilara Murgha, Dr Matt Durden and Heather Robertson from Gurriny Yealamucka HSAC and Kim Moffitt from Albury Wodonga AHS.

COVID-19 decimates women’s health

The CEOs of Victoria’s 12 women’s health services has issued an urgent plea for immediate government investment to curtail the unfolding crisis of women’s declining health in the state. It comes with the release of data that shows the impact of COVID-19 on the physical and mental health and wellbeing of women in Victoria, and how current funding levels are inadequate for improving outcomes.

The group is calling for women’s health services funding to be increased from $2.05 per women per year, to $5.75 per woman. At an online event branded with the hashtag #sickofsmallchange, Women’s Health Services Council Chair Tricia Currie pointed out that the funding being asked for to improve women’s health in the state equates to less than cost of two cups of coffee, per woman. The group is calling for investments to improve health outcomes for women with disabilities, Indigenous women, LGBTQI+ women, trans and gender diverse people, as well as migrant and refugee women, and those living in rural and regional areas in Victoria.

“Before the pandemic, women’s health was under significant strain,” Currie said at the event. “It is now much worse. Spare change funding is making women sicker.” Kit McMahon, CEO of Women’s Health in the South East, said the data clearly indicates that women are being let down by a lack of funding. “The data is clear and the evidence is there. From a local perspective, the pandemic has not only revealed inequity in health, it has exacerbated it and we’ve seen an increase in inequity,” McMahon said.

To view the Women’s Agenda article in full click here.

VAHS site director Susan Hedges uses a cultural shawl at a screening with BreastScreen Victoria radiographer Monique Warrillow

VAHS site director Susan Hedges uses a cultural shawl at a screening with BreastScreen Victoria radiographer Monique Warrillow. Image source: BreastScreen Victoria.

First COVID-19 antiviral on PBS

Thousands of vulnerable Australians, who are at risk of developing severe COVID-19, are now eligible to access an oral antiviral treatment through the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS). Listed as of  Tuesday 1 March, GPs can now prescribe molnupiravir (sold as Lagevrio).

Associate Professor Paul Griffin, an infectious disease physician and microbiologist at Mater Health in Brisbane, said the listing of the oral antiviral is ‘great news’, and likely to play an ‘important role’ in treating at-risk patients who contract the virus. ‘Access to an oral treatment through the PBS will allow many at-risk people to be treated at home, which is a win-win-win for these patients, the community and our hospital system,’ he said.

According to the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee (PBAC), molnupiravir is recommended for the treatment of patients with mild-to-moderate COVID-19 who are at risk of developing severe disease requiring hospitalisation, not requiring supplemental oxygen for their COVID-19 and where treatment is commenced within 5 days of the onset of symptoms and meet one of the following criteria:

  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 50 years or older with two additional high-risk factors for developing severe disease
  • People 65 years or older with two additional high-risk factors for developing severe disease,
  • People 75 years or older with one additional high-risk factor for developing severe disease,
  • Moderately to severely immunocompromised people irrespective of vaccination status

To view the newsGP article in full click here.

hand holding box of oral use Lagevrio COVID-19 antiviral tablets

Clinical trial data found participants treated with molnupiravir had a reduced risk of hospitalisation, down from 14.1% to 7.3%. Photo: AAP. Image source: newsGP website.

VIC Aboriginal health experts meet

Representatives from VACCHO met last week on Wadawurrung Country to share learnings and experiences of the past two years and lay the foundations for the health and wellbeing of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait community in Victoria for 2022. The Members’ Meeting meeting was also an opportunity to recognise the leadership, dedication, and hard work of VACCHO’s 32 member organisations throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

VACCHO CEO Jill Gallagher said “This important gathering provides us with an opportunity to connect and pay tribute to our members. This pandemic has had so many twists and turns. Every day it seems like something changes. But despite all the challenges – all the ups and downs – the ability of each of the members to quickly adjust and adapt to look after Community has been incredible.” She said the Members’ Meeting was an important chance to reflect on the past year’s achievements and challenges, and to think about where the organisation wanted to be in the next 25 years.

Victorian Aboriginal Health Service CEO Michael Graham said ACCHOs were unique “in that we are one big family. As a workforce, we should all be proud of our collective efforts in providing personalised, culturally-safe care for our communities across Victoria.”

To view the Geelong Times article in full click here.

Victorian Minister for Health Martin Foley speaks at the VACCHO meeting at RACV Torquay Resort

Victorian Minister for Health Martin Foley speaks at the VACCHO meeting at RACV Torquay Resort. Photo: Dr Cath Chamberlain, Twitter. Image source: Geelong Times.

Kinchela Boys Home to be truth-telling site

Kinchela Boys Home (KBH) site in Kempsey has been announced at the 2022 World Monuments Watch as one of 25 heritage sites of worldwide significance whose preservation is urgent and vital to the communities surrounding them. Among Australia’s most notorious Stolen Generations institutions, KBH saw an estimated 400 to 600 Aboriginal children exposed to routine acts of cultural genocide between 1924 to 1970.

Survivors from KBH are among thousands of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children forcibly taken from their families and communities as part of official government and church programs to assimilate First Nations children into non-Indigenous society. The announcement by the World Monuments Fund (WMF) acknowledges the pain and suffering of KBH survivors and their families, while highlighting the need for greater action to support heritage places and the people who care for them.

The children who passed through the gates of KBH were stripped of their names, given numbers, and subjected to ‘reprogramming’ and strict regimes of manual labor. Physical hardship, punishment, alienation, and abuse were part of everyday life until the campus was shut down in 1970.

To view the media release in full click here.

Aboriginal Elders with part of the gate from the Kinchela Boys Home

In 2012, Aboriginal Elders with part of the gate from the Kinchela Boys Home that was sent to the National Museum. Image source: The Macleay Argus.

Schools alone can’t break disadvantage cycle

Poverty and disadvantage put young Australians on the road to a less fulfilling life and schools could play a critical role in breaking the cycle, a new study led by Flinders University says. “The risk factors for social exclusion at school are worse for young adolescents who live in low income households or who experience poverty,” says Flinders University sociologist Professor Gerry Redmond.  “Adolescents who live with a disability, care for a family member, speak a language other than English at home, or identify as Indigenous are all more likely than other adolescents to be living in poverty.  “Feedback from marginalised young people in the study shows how the experience of disadvantage and exclusion affects their life satisfaction, which is a predictive indicator of wellbeing and mental health in adulthood,” he says.

With prospects for Australian children living in low income households relatively unchanged this century, the study aims to ignite the post-pandemic debate calling for sweeping reform and stronger economic, social, cultural and political policymaking to focus on a better future for all young people.

Children living in rural and remote communities, have difficulty with learning or live in out-of-home care also face similar prospects for marginalisation at school. Diana Harris, acting CEO of the Australian Research Alliance for Children and Youth (ARACY), says the study highlights the “systemic forces in play” which continue to lead to the marginalisation of low income, children managing disabilities or chronic disease, and those from an Aboriginal or culturally diverse background.

To view the Flinders University media release in full click here.

2 young girls being helped with puzzles by two female teachers

Image source: Indigenous Inequality blog.

Primary Care COVID-19 update time change

There is a change in the time for the latest in the series of COVID-19 vaccine updates for Primary Care, providing the latest information on the vaccine rollout. It will now be held from 12:30–1:00 PM (AEDT) Thursday 3 March 2022, an hour later than previously advised.

The panel this week will be Australian Government Department of health staff, Professor Michael Kidd AM (Chair), Deputy Chief Medical Officer and Dr Lucas de Toca, First Assistant Secretary, COVID-19 Primary Care Response, who will discuss updates on vaccines and the new COVID-19 oral anti-viral medications.

GPs and all health professionals are welcome to attend the webinar and can join using this link. If you’re unable to view this webinar live, you can view it on-demand using the same link, within a few hours of the live stream ending.

tile: Primary Care COVID-19 update' blue background, vector of virus cell

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.

Kidney Health Professional Webinar

Kidney Health Australia are hosting a health professional webinar on Wednesday 9 March 2022 to celebrate 2022 Kidney Health Week.

The webinar will include an engaging panel discussion with our Clinical Advisory Committee facilitated by Nephrologist, Professor Karen Dwyer

This is a RACGP accredited activity for 2 CPD points. Activity # 325983 (pending approval).

If you have a Zoom account you can register here. If you do not have a Zoom account you can sign up for one here and then register for the webinar via this link.

Upon successful registration you will receive a confirmation email.

 

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Calls for Child Health Taskforce

feature tile text 'AMA joins leading Australian health & welfare groups' call for Child Health Taskforce' *& image of Aboriginal girl and 3 boys on outdoor play equipment

Image in feature tile from SNAICC website. Photo credit: Terry Trewin, AAP.

Calls for Child Health Taskforce

The AMA has joined with leading Australian health and welfare groups to call for both the current government and the opposition to commit to forming a Child Health Taskforce if successful at this year’s federal election. AMA President Dr Omar Khorshid said the Child Health Taskforce would be asked to initially report to the new government within six-months on priority initiatives to improve the social determinants of child health, that is, non-medical factors which influence health outcomes. Dr Khorshid said these included: (1) Poverty, (2) Housing, (3) Nutrition, food security and sugary drinks, and (4) Climate change.

Dr Khorshid said additionally the AMA was seeking a commitment from the major parties to fund and implement the recommendations in the recently released National Children’s Mental Health and Wellbeing Strategy if elected. The AMA, along with the other organisations have released a joint statement noting the period during the COVID-19 pandemic when income support payments were raised, had been hugely beneficial to children and their families, reducing anxiety and suicides. Dr Khorshid said the pandemic had also highlighted how crowded and sub-standard housing had contributed to the spread of COVID-19. “We say access to good housing is a fundamental human right and essential for children to be able to grow up in a health and nurturing environment,” Dr Khorshid said.

Dr Khorshid said the statement noted the pandemic response had shown both the benefits of good policy and reinforced the damaging and lasting impacts on children of poverty, poor housing, and social isolation. “A commitment to equity must underpin fiscal, social and health policy. This particularly applies to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children,” Dr Khorshid said.

To view the AMA media release in full click here and to view a joint statement from the AMA, ACOSS, Academcy of Child and Adolescent Health, ARACY, Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, and the RACP click here. You can view a video on the National Children’s Mental Health and Wellbeing Strategy below.

Gilgandra Local AMS opens

Last Tuesday, 22 February 2022, marked the official opening of the Gilgandra Local Aboriginal Medical Service (GLAMS) building. GLAMS is a branch of the Coonamble Aboriginal Medical Service, and the opening of Gilgandra’s new centre has been a long time coming, according to CEO Phil Naden. “For me it’s been a long time waiting for us to establish this Aboriginal medical service in Gilgandra, and obviously that comes through a lot of consultation,” said Mr Naden.

“The outcome is having GLAMS here now, working in partnership not only with the current health providers in Gilgandra, but also the local health district to provide a culturally appropriate service where people feel that can come to. It’s a space where you can have those cultural yarns, and deal with people who are specifically trained around what it is they’re here for.”

Part of Station Street where GLAMS stands, was closed for a few hours in the morning while official proceedings took place. Beginning with a Welcome to Country by Uncle Ralph Naden; CEO of Bila Muuji Aboriginal Corporation Health Service, Carl Grant, spoke from a regional perspective on GLAMS importance. Mr Naden said that “as well as Carl, Brendan Cutmore who is the executive director of Aboriginal health with the NSW health district, got up and also talked about his perspective on partnerships with NSW health, the local health districts, and the Aboriginal community-controlled sector”.

Member for Parkes Mark Coulton, acknowledged the work that GLAMS has done over the past few months, and confirmed the grant that was announced. “With Mr Coulton officially opening the building for us, it was a really good day,” said Mr Naden.

“The opening is the talk of the town, with community members buzzing about the new prospects GLAMS offers. The feedback is so positive. “t is still continuing up until today and people are chomping at the bit to want to know the next steps of when the opening time is,” said Mr Naden. Mr Naden explained that not only locals and health service representatives attended the opening, but people all across the region.

To view The Gilgandra Weekly news item in full click here.

5 male Aboriginal dancers at opening of Gilgandra Local AMS 22.2.22

Opening of Gilgandra Local Aboriginal Medical Service on Tuesday 22 February 2022.

Stolen Generations Redress Scheme opens

Stolen Generations survivors who were removed as children from their families and communities in the NT, the ACT, and Jervis Bay can now apply for redress from the Australian Government. In addition, $6.55 million will be provided through Link-Up services and The Healing Foundation to support applicants, coupled with free financial and legal services announced on 14 February 2022.

Minister for Indigenous Australians, the Hon Ken Wyatt AM, MP, said the $378.6 million financial and wellbeing Redress Scheme will make payments in recognition of the harm caused. “The Stolen Generations lost their childhoods, their connections to family, country and culture, and while we cannot give back lost childhoods, we are contributing to healing through the Territories Stolen Generations Redress Scheme,” Minister Wyatt said.

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

Ngambri-Ngunnawal elder Matilda House in fur shawl against Aboriginal mural

Ngambri-Ngunnawal elder Matilda House has welcomed the new compensation scheme for Stolen Generation survivors. Photo: Karleen Minney. Image source: Canberra Times.

Closing the communication gap in healthcare

The Australian Physiotherapy Association has published an article about the importance of communication and the need for providing culturally secure and safe healthcare for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. The article includes comments the researchers behind ‘clinical yarning’, a conversational approach to communication between healthcare providers and their patients, and about a study investigating the benefits of implementing clinical yarning. Also, the article looks at physiotherapists at a unique practice in Far North Queensland that takes physiotherapy out on Country and talks about what makes the model so special.

Clinical yarning is a form of informal conversation that is increasingly being used by clinicians working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to facilitate better communication with patients and clients. Yarning is a form of ‘conversation with purpose’ in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures. Based on storytelling, it is an informal way to give and receive information that revolves around establishing a relationship between the participants and creating a culturally safe space. And it’s increasingly finding a place in clinics that work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients.

To view the full Australian Physiotherapy Association article click here.

2 images: physio Simon Morris treating Aboriginal man Aurukun & with a client on Country in Cairns


Physiotherapist Simon Morris treats one of his patients outside on Country in Aurukun and working with a client on Country in Cairns. Images source: Australian Physiotherapy Association website.

Indigenous Art Competition – cast your vote

The caring@home Indigenous Art Competitionaims to raise awareness about palliative care. All submitted artworks are being displayed on the caring@home website until 30 June 2023 and the winning artworks will be used to illustrate resources being developed by caring@home for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families. Entries to the competition have now closed and official judging is now underway.

The 54 entries illustrate powerful, moving, visually stunning stories about a ‘Journey to Dreaming at Home’. This theme highlights an important aspect of palliative care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people – a preference for care during the end-of-life journey to be provided at home or on Country.

The judging panel members are The Hon Ken Wyatt, AM MP – Minister for Indigenous Australians, Karl Briscoe – CEO, National Association of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workers and Practitioners (NAATSIHWP) and Fiona Cornforth – CEO, The Healing Foundation.

Members of the public may also take part by submitting an online vote for the People’s Choice Award. Voting closes at 11:59PM (AEST) on Sunday 13 March 2022. Winners will be announced on National Close the Gap Day, Wednesday 17 March 2022.

For more information about the Competition or to submit a People’s Choice Award vote click here.

Strength & Positivity artwork by Ashleigh Elle

Strength and Positivity by Ashleigh Elle. One of the 54 entries in the caring@home Indigenous Art Competition.

New Online Safety Laws

The Australian Government introduced the Online Safety Act 2021 on 23 January 2022. This means there are new laws in place to protect all Australians from serious online abuse. The new laws give eSafety stronger mechanisms to address serious online abuse, if the abuse meets the high threshold of being ‘seriously harmful’ to an individual.

To find out more detailed information on the new laws, what is covered and information on reporting, you can download this booklet: Online Safety Laws: What is means for you, your family and community and other information for First Nations Communities here.

Tile: Leila Gurruwiwi at table with laptop, text 'keep yourself, your family & community safe online & report serious online abuse' Aust Govt logo, eSafety Commissioner logo

VIC prisoner self-harm jumps 50%

Social worker and Wiradjuri and Noongar woman Lee-Anne Carter is seeing it more and more: Victorian Aboriginal people being arrested when suffering from serious mental distress. More ambulances called by police, more Aboriginal people spending longer in prison, and more self-harm. “We started noticing an increase in people coming into the cells self-harming, indicating they’re really unwell … we were noticing Ambulance Victoria attending police stations more,” Ms Carter said.

New Justice Department statistics have revealed that even though the population of incarcerated Aboriginal Victorians decreased, the number of incidents involving self-harm among Indigenous prisoners increased more than 50% in the past year. Ms Carter, the leader of Victorian Aboriginal Legal Service’s (VALS) justice programs, was not surprised by the data.

To view The Age article in full click here.

Social woker Lee-anne Carter with black t-shirt with fingerprint in Aboriginal flag colours & text 'It's in my DNA'

Lee-Anne Carter says more support is needed to help Indigenous prisoners. Photo: Chris Hopkins. Image source: The Age.

Allied health student training in Katherine

Flinders University NT will receive the funding for the program to provide around 260 weeks of new placement opportunities for 36 students each year, three additional allied health clinicians and employ an Aboriginal allied health assistant. Dr Gillespie said the program would help to improve the recruitment and retention of local allied health professionals. “There is growing evidence that students who have a positive and rewarding extended training experience in a rural or remote area are more likely to take up rural practice upon graduation, which is what this site will help to provide for students,” Dr Gillespie said.

“A focus of the new allied health placement program will be to increase placement numbers of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students undertaking their training in Katherine.” Dr Gillespie said the project had strong local support, partnering with Indigenous Allied Health Australia (IAHA) and two Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations (ACCHOs) – Wurli-Wurlinjang and the Katherine West Health Board (KWHB). Dr Gillespie said the partnership with Wurli-Wurlinjang would enable the employment of speech pathology and occupational therapy supervisors to support allied health students at its clinics.

To view the Katherine Times news article in full click here.

 Wurli-Wurlinjang outreach officers Nick Elliott & Eli Sherman & Katherine West public health manager David McGinness

Wurli-Wurlinjang outreach officers Nick Elliott and Eli Sherman. Photo: Michael Franch, ABC News and Katherine West public health manager David McGinness. 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.

Developing and communicating your employer brand

As part of the A Life Changing Life campaign, the Australian Government has partnered with SEEK to deliver a series of webinars providing insights and tools for care and support sector employers to better engage with and appeal to today’s candidates.

The first webinar in this series Developing and communicating your employer brand is being held from 11:00–12:00PM on Tuesday 8 March 2022. This webinar will assist organisation leaders in developing and communicating their employer value proposition, and you will hear from an employer in the care and support sector who has recently refreshed their approach.

You can register for the webinar here.

5 staff around table discussing resources, Aboriginal flag on wall

Image source: Your Community Health website.

Deadly Heart feature film launch

The Take Heart: Deadly Heart feature film will be released across Australian from National Close the Gap Day on Thursday 17 March 2022, in partnership with Close the Gap and ANTaR. You can view a trailer of the film below.

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: 14th anniversary of National Apology

14th anniversary of National Apology

Link-Up (Qld) will host a morning tea on Monday 14 February 2022 to commemorate the 14th anniversary of the National Apology to the Stolen Generations.  Dr (Aunty) Ruth Hegarty, who grew up in the dormitories at Cherbourg, and Aboriginal activist Patricia Turner AM, CEO NACCHO and Lead Convener of the Coalition of Peaks will deliver keynote speeches on the occasion.

After 14 years, the Apology still holds considerable meaning for Aunty Ruth. “The Apology in 2008 brought up emotions and memories of a lifetime of unresolved hurt and opportunities lost. For my mother and me it was too late,” she said. “The continuing acknowledgement of this day, whilst significantly political, hopefully will move the nation forward in achieving the recognition that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders seek in consolidating our status as the First Nations people,” Aunty Ruth said.

Through this annual event, Link-Up (Qld) acknowledges the resilience and strength of the Stolen Generations and their families, recognises the multiple ways that intergenerational trauma can manifest, and draws attention to pathways to justice for First Nations Australians. “You would be hard pressed to find one of our families that have not been impacted by the forceful removal of our children and the ongoing disruption to our family structures, our cultures and way of life. Not only will this take dedicated effort, healing and time to repair, we also need to address the current rates of our children’s removal from our families,” said Patricia Turner AM.

As Convenor of the Coalition of Peaks, Ms Turner is behind the historic Partnership Agreement on Closing the Gap in 2019. “The National Agreement on Closing the Gap provides a way forward through commitments by governments to shared decision making between our peoples and governments on matters that impact on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and support for our community-controlled organisations to provide our families and children with the services they need, delivered in a safe way,” she said.

For further information on the Link-Up (Qld)’s Anniversary of the National Apology 2022 morning tea click here.

Image source: State Library NSW website.

Supporting ACCHO access to digital health

The Australian Digital Health Agency is looking forward to hosting webinars to support ACCHOs through the NASH PKI Certificate transition and maintain access to Digital Health tools. Multiple sessions of both webinars listed below will be offered during February–March 2022:

A closer look at the roles of Responsible Officer (RO) and Organisation Maintenance Officer (OMO)

In order for healthcare organisations to maintain access to important digital health tools such as electronic prescribing and My Health Record, they need to ensure that a current NASH PKI certificate is installed. NASH PKI certificates may be expiring in March 2022 for many organisations. NASH PKI Certificates need to be renewed by an Responsible Officer (RO) or Organisation Maintenance Officer (OMO) in your organisation. This session will explain the responsibilities of these individuals and the process of delegating the roles to staff within an organisation. If your organisation has undergone a change of ownership or a change in responsible officer will provide you with guidance on how to complete the steps required to update these details and manage Organisation Maintenance Officers. This will allow your organisation to complete NASH PKI Certificate renewal and installation. You can register for this webinar here.

Renewing a NASH PKI Certificate for Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations (ACCHOs)

In order for ACCHOs to maintain access to important digital health tools such as electronic prescribing and My Health Record, they need to ensure that a current NASH PKI certificate is installed. NASH PKI certificates may be expiring in March 2022 for many organisations. This session is designed to step you through the process of requesting and renewing a NASH PKI certificate for your ACCHO to ensure you can continue to use these digital health tools. It is recommended staff members acting in the role of Organisation Maintenance Officer (OMO) in your organisation attend the session as they are responsible for renewing NASH PKI certificates. OMOs are also encouraged to check they can log into PRODA prior to attending, to ensure the demonstrated steps can be easily completed following the session. You can register for this webinar here.

For additional information and resources you can access the Australian Government Digital Health website here.

ACCHO healthcare worker at desk, digitalhealth.gov.au for healthcare providers logo

Ironbark healthy ageing study

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

We will fund and train services to run one of these programs weekly for 12 months.

Join an information session from 11 AM – 12 PM Monday 21 February 2022 to find out more.

You can access a flyer for the information session here and obtain the zoom link for the information session by emailing Sallie using this link. For more information about the Ironbark project here.

Chronic Kidney Disease professional webinar

Kidney Health Australia’s first health professional webinar for the year Case Study:  Early Detection & Management of Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) 2022 will take place on Tuesday 22 February 2022.

CKD remains an under-recognised condition in Australia, due to the asymptomatic nature of the disease and low awareness among Australians regarding the risk factors for CKD. Join Kidney Health Australia with Nephrologist, Professor Karen Dwyer, as she discusses the importance of early detection, how to detect CKD and current treatment options to delay the progression of this under-diagnosed disease.

This is a Royal Australian College of GPs accredited activity for 2 CPD points. Activity # 223614.

To register for this webinar, you will require a Zoom Account. If you do not have an existing Zoom account sign up here here. If you have a Zoom account register here for the webinar.

Mental health care for youth urgent

The following is an extract from the article The reality of mental health care for young people, and the urgent need for solutions article published late last year in The Medical Journal of Australia:

The transition to adulthood is the peak period for the onset of the mental and substance use disorders that have such serious impacts on the productive years of adult life. Mental ill health is by far the principal source of burden of disease for people aged 12–25 years, and at least 50% of young people will experience mental health problems. Further, the mental health of young people has been steadily undermined in recent decades by a cluster of socio‐economic forces. This syndemic trend has accelerated during the COVID‐19 pandemic, with surveys and health department data documenting the wave of distress, mental ill health, and suicidal behaviour flowing into emergency departments and bloating waiting lists.

We saw a 25% global increase in anxiety and depression during 2020. This surge or “shadow pandemic” was predicted by Orygen modelling in May 2020. The under‐resourced mental health system has been overwhelmed in Australia, with general practices and headspaces inundated, emergency departments flooded with demand, and the mental health workforce dwindling and exhausted. While telehealth keeps the channel partially open, care has become detached, dispersed, and diluted. Despite welcome policy and funding announcements, timely access to quality care for young people with mental ill health is more difficult than ever.

To access the article in full click here.

Photo: Greedy Hen. Image source: The Guardian.

Making a difference in Aboriginal health

In the heart of central Australia, Celeste Brand, a young Aboriginal woman and Curtin social work graduate, is improving the health outcomes of Aboriginal mothers and their children. Brand, 28, has Arabana (SA) roots grounded in Eastern Arrernte. She currently lives on Central Arrernt Country, which covers the land occupied by the township of Alice Springs (Mparntwe) and surrounding areas.

Brand is a social worker with the Australian Nursing Family Partnership Program, which provides primary healthcare to Aboriginal mothers and mothers to-be living in and around Mparntwe. As part of her role, Brand helps women to stay healthy during pregnancy and their baby’s formative years. She also helps them connect to services, set goals and foster nurturing family home environments. “We work with pregnant mums right through until the child’s second birthday. I work alongside nurses, midwives and Aboriginal community workers. Some of my work includes advocacy, assessment (safety, risk and psychosocial), referral and liaising with community services,” Brand explains.

With the gap for quality of life and life expectancy between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians as wide as ever, Brand says it’s crucial for Indigenous people to have autonomy over their own health practices. “It allows Aboriginal people to be involved in decision-making about us and for us. Control of and access to health care by Indigenous people allows us to make decisions about our health in line with our priorities and our ways of working.”

To view the full article about Celeste Brand on the Curtin University website click here.

Celeste Brand with her 9-month-old daughter, Miranda Stuart, at Alice Springs Hospital

Celeste Brand with her 9-month-old daughter, Miranda Stuart, at Alice Springs Hospital. Photo: Emma Murray. Image source: Curtin University website.

Up to $10,000 for professional development

The Health Workforce Scholarship Program (HWSP) provides scholarships and bursaries to help health professionals in rural and remote Australia retain and enhance their skills, capacity and scope of practice. The Program is an initiative of the Australian Government Department of Health, administered in NSW by NSW Rural Doctors Network (RDN).

The HWSP is available to medical, nursing, midwifery, allied health, dental and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health professionals providing primary health care in the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services (ACCHS) sector, non-government organisations and private practice.

For further information about the HWSP and to apply click here.

tile text 'Health Workforce Scholarship Program Recipient Debbie Hopper' - NSW Rural Doctors Network logo & portrait shot of Debbie Hopper

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.

National Condom Day

National Condom Day is on Monday 14 February 2022, a day to promote healthy sexual relationships and encourage the use of condoms and dams. Condoms and dams are the best forms of prevention of sexually transmissible infections (STIs) and condoms can also prevent unintended pregnancy.

With national rates of STIs rising it’s important that people understand the benefits of condoms. Condoms are 98% effective at protecting against most STIs like syphilis, HIV, chlamydia and gonorrhoea. However, condoms don’t protect you from all STIs such as syphilis, herpes and genital warts. Using condoms correctly will prevent them breaking, leaking or slipping off during sex. Use only water-based or silicone lubricants, not oil-based.

If you’re sexually active you need to get regular STI tests. If you have any symptoms or are worried about your sexual health, then arrange a test straight away with your doctor or sexual health clinic.

For more information about National Condom Day click here and to access the Young Deadly Syphilis Free Campaign website click here.

jeans pocket with 3 condoms sticking out: one in black, one in yellow, one in red foil