Dr Dawn Casey, Deputy CEO NACCHO and Co-Chair Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Advisory Group on COVID-19 spoke on NITV-The Point on Tuesday 8 June about the latest rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine, its take up and hesitancy, and the Victorian lockdown.
“There are just over 65,000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who have been vaccinated with their first dose so far. There was hesitancy when the announcements around the issues that AstraZeneca was not suitable for under 50s, but the numbers have started to pick up.”
“There has been no blood clots for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people recorded.”
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are now eligible to receive the vaccines, including those aged 16 and over. Speak to your healthcare worker to find out more.
You can view the interview below or by clicking here.
or information on the vaccines, visit the Australian Government Department of Health website.
The AMA has today called for a tax on sugary drinks as a key plank of its plan to tackle chronic disease and make Australiathe healthiest country in the world.
In his address to the National Press Club in Canberra yesterday, AMA President Dr Omar Khorshid said that Australia lags behind comparable nations in health outcomes and disease prevention, and it was ‘time for action’ to reduce consumption of sugar-filled drinks.
“More than 2.4 billion litres of sugary drinks are consumed every year in Australia. That’s enough to fill 960 Olympic sized swimming pools,” Dr Khorshid said.
“Diabetes, obesity and poor vascular health are huge contributors to the burden on our health system. The tax could save lives, and save millions of dollars in healthcare costs,” he said.
The tax proposed in the AMA’s report released yesterday would raise the retail price of the average supermarket sugary drink by 20%. This would be an important first step towards tackling obesity and raise revenue to take further steps.
The AMA’s call for a tax on sugary drinks is part of its new blueprint for a robust, sustainable health system – beyond the pandemic – with high quality, patient-centred care at its heart. The Vision for Australia’s Health, also launched yesterday, calls for reform around five policy pillars – general practice, public hospitals, private health, equity and innovation.
View The Vision for Australia’s Health plane here.
View the A tax on sugar-sweetened beverages: Modelled impacts on sugar consumption and government revenue report here.
AMA – Vision for Australia’s Health report – 5 pillars.
Restoration to guide health reforms
The Aotearoa New Zealand Government has announced sweeping reforms for the nation’s health system.
They have been welcomed by the Royal Australasian College of Physicians (RACP) ‘as a health system structure seeking to live its commitments’ to the Treaty of Waitangi and refusing any longer to ‘tolerate the health inequities experienced by our Māori and Pasifika whanau’.
Dr Sandra Hotu, Chair of the RACP Māori Health Committee, and Dr George Laking, RACP Aotearoa New Zealand President, outline the changes and their implications for improving health and health systems, for both Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand.
Together with an ethic of restoration, Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand must look to a practice of partnership informed by the stories and experiences of our First Nations. Partnership must be tangible. It must be expressly lived as a solution space lead by Indigenous voices, rather than a problem space. Partnership is informing the refresh of Closing the Gap 2019–2029, as described in the partnership agreement between the Community Controlled Peak Organisations and the National Federation Reform Council.
As Alex Brown and Eddie Mulholland wrote on Croakey in 2020, the agreement for power-sharing represents a “critical moment for genuine engagement between Australian governments and Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations (ACCHOs)”.
The vision of the ACCHOs – ‘Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people enjoy quality of life through whole-of-community self-determination and individual spiritual, cultural, physical, social and emotional well-being’ resonates with the intent of the Māori Health Authority. This is because the rationale for each is so closely aligned: racism in healthcare as well as the need for culturally safe services to address health inequity.
You can read the article at Croakey Health Media here.
Aboriginal kids washing their hands. Image credit The Conversation.
Better health literacy for better equity
New survey findings show a significant number of consumers need to be supported to feel more in control of their health care. The report, commissioned from the Consumers Health Forum (CHF) by NPS MedicineWise, defines and measures health literacy in Australia. It also identifies gaps which are preventing people from accessing the best possible health care.
“Health literacy is core to us delivering more equitable health outcomes,” said Leanne Wells, CEO of CHF.
The survey of more than 1,500 respondents found that approximately one in five consumers:
Rarely or never felt comfortable asking their doctor, pharmacist or nurse when they needed more information.
Rarely or never felt comfortable asking the health professional to explain anything they didn’t understand.
Found the information a health professional gave them always or often confusing.
“We need to increase consumers’ capacity to manage and feel in control of their health care, including around medicines. It’s really important that we strive to improve medicines literacy because we know people at higher risk of medication-related harm are people with multiple conditions, people who are taking lots of medications and people with English as a second language,” said Ms Wells.
You can view the New survey results shine a light on health literacy in Australia media release here.
You can read the Consumer Health Literacy Segmentation and Activation Research Project report here.
Artwork competition: ear and hearing health
Calling all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists aged 13 years or older!
NACCHO invites you to design an artwork about how important ear and hearing health is within Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.
The winning artwork will receive a $500 voucher prizeand will be used across Australia for NACCHOs National Ear and Hearing health program.
The winning artwork will be used on merchandise, stationary and promotional materials to celebrate current Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander achievements, across Australia.
Click here to submit your artwork and for conditions of entry.
All entries must be submitted by: 21 July 2021.
NDIS Ready grant round closing soon
Attention all Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations!
NDIS Ready Indigenous Business Support Funding (IBSF) ACCO round grant applications are CLOSING SOON!
Grants are available to help up to 100 eligible ACCHOs and ACCOs address the basic establishment costs, and business and technical challenges in registered and delivering services under the NDIS and to equip themselves to operate more effectively long-term under the NDIS model.
Information on the grant and how to apply can be found on the IBSF website.
Do you sometimes mix up your medicines, or forget to take your doses? Or maybe you want to store all your medicines and health information in one place?
NPS MedicineWise has a free tool— the MedicineWise app — which can help you and your loved ones manage your medicines and your health.
The MedicineWise app can:
keep track of your medicines and remind you when your medicine doses and appointments are due
store your information such as your health conditions and allergies
allow you to share your health information with your health professionals and people who may be caring for you
provide you with trusted, relevant and up-to-date information relating to your medicines and your health conditions
The MedicineWise appcan also deliver information specific to the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community members. Download the MedicineWise app and opt in:
Tap on your profile.
Go to ‘Personal Details’ module.
Scroll down to switch the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander toggles on.
Talk to your health professional or Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (ACCHO) for specific health needs or advice.
MedicineWise App by NPS MedicineWise.
You can download the app via one of the buttons below.
Enhancing viral hepatitis care
Last week, NACCHO Deputy CEO Dr Dawn Casey gave a keynote address at the 12th Australasian Viral Hepatitis Conference in Sydney.
She spoke about Viral Hepatitis in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and pointed out some key statistics:
They account for 10% of those living with chronic Hepatitis B and 20% of all Hepatitis C diagnoses.
Hepatitis C diagnosis continues to increase among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
The diagnosis rates among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples aged less than 25 years are around 8 times higher than non-Indigenous people of the same age.
Vaccination coverage for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples at 24 months of age is higher than the non-Indigenous population (97.5% compared to 96.4% respectively).
The prevalence of Hepatitis B among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mothers has decreased by 80% since the introduction of vaccination.
“In order to enhance viral hepatitis care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people we need to improve health care access through innovation, expansion, and increased appropriateness of existing healthcare services, which can reduce the multiple barriers to accessing health care among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island peoples.”
“We must draw on the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health model of integrated primary health care,” said Dr Casey.
The principles incorporated in this model ensure the following factors are addressed:
Continued co-design and collaboration with key stakeholders
Improved data and surveillance
Innovative recall systems
Multiskilled workforce and increased workforce capacity
Community engagement and education
Continuous Quality Improvement
Access and effective integration of the PoCT program for rapid results, immediate treatment, and timely contact tracing
You can view Dr Casey’s full keynote address here.
NACCHO Deputy CEO Dr Dawn Casey gave a keynote address at the 12th Australasian Viral Hepatitis Conference in Sydney.
Hepatitis QLDhas created ‘Find the Liver Hero inside you‘ – a video about one of the hardest working organs in the body and how we can’t live without it. You can watch the video hereor by clicking on the video image below.
Us Mob and HIV 4th edition
We’re very excited to share with you that the Anwernekenhe National HIV Alliance (ANA) and the Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations’ (AFAO) new and fourth edition of the ever popular and highly utilised HIV booklet for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people Us Mob and HIV is here!
The third edition was last published in 2014, so the booklet was missing several developments in the response to HIV. This new fourth edition now includes this updated information, including PrEP, treatment as prevention and new testing technologies.
The booklets are currently being printed and are on their way to AFAO’s state/territory member organisations for them to plan their local distribution to ACCHOs, AMSs, services and partner organisations. The booklets should start arriving to these organisations shortly. We can’t wait to see the booklet reaching communities.
You can download a PDF of the booklet here and tor more information, please visit the AFAO website.
Us Mob and HIV – Cover art ‘Dialogue’ by Arone Raymond Meeks.
CTG script changes in July
From 1 July 2021, there will be enhancements to the Closing the Gap (CTG) Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) Co-payment Program.
Please find below resources targeted at the following stakeholder groups:
Please feel free to share and disseminate as needed.
Please notethat the Australian Government Department of Health’s CTG PBS Co-payment Program webpage will reflect current arrangements up to, and including, 30 June 2021. The new arrangements will be reflected on the Department’s webpage from 1 July 2021 onwards.
CTG PBS Changes – artwork.
Better support around Blue Card system
In a media statement earlier today Queensland Attorney-General and Minister for Justice, Shannon Fentiman released Safe children and strong communities: A strategy and action plan for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and organisations accessing the blue card system.
“The Queensland Family and Children Commission’s 2017 review of the blue card system recommended a more strategic approach to our work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples seeking to work or volunteer with children,” the Attorney-General said. “While the review found that Queensland’s system was one of the strongest working with children check systems in Australia, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples often experienced barriers.”
The Department of Justice and Attorney-General has developed this five-year action plan which takes an innovative approach to provide greater support to our First Nations people through each part of the blue card system. Minister Fentiman said the plan was part of the Queensland Government’s broader work to address the social and health challenges facing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and communities.
A copy of the plan is available here and you can read the full media statement by the Queensland Government here.
$8 million for heart and stroke research
A total of $8 million to accelerate heart and stroke research has been awarded to eight Australian researchers in a joint initiative by the Heart Foundation and the Federal Government.
A central focus will be the under-researched area of women and heart disease. Other research areas will include:
Heart damage caused by cancer treatments
Predicting heart disease
Heart disease rehabilitation and recovery
The research areas for the grants are based on the outcomes of an extensive two-year Heart Foundation survey of thousands of Australians, from people living with heart disease through to heart health professionals. Key outcomes highlighted gaps in the early diagnosis, prevention and treatment of heart disease, as well as the positive benefits of sustained rehabilitation.
The survey also found that patients are seeking more support and advice regarding recovery and prevention of further heart events, while clinicians are focused on new ways of identifying and preventing cardiovascular disease before it can take hold and cause damage.
Professor Gail Garvey, Menzies School of Health Research, NT, will research heart disease in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cancer survivors and identify the prevalence of heart disease in these patients.
You can read more in the Heart Foundation’s media release here.
The Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet (HealthInfoNet) is undertaking consultation discussions and focus groups with health professionals and researchers around Australia. A key element of the HealthInfoNet is to ensure its work is authentic and engaged knowledge development and exchange.
Consultation Focus Groups are being held seeking advice from health professionals and researchers on how they can ensure the HealthInfoNet sections of, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workers and Health Practitioners, Closing the Gap and Cultural Ways are designed to meet the health workforce needs.
There are four questions to keep in mind when reviewing these sections. 1. What information is missing that you would like to see added? 2. What information is not needed in these sections? 3. Does the information provided assist you to carry out your work tasks? 4. How could we improve these sections?
In addition, the HealthInfoNet are seeking advice on the establishment of an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Data Consultation Network/Committee to oversee Knowledge Exchange Products, for example, the Overview of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health status and specific health topic reviews. Advice will also be sought about what this Network/Committee would look like and how it would operate.
If you are interested in the HealthInfoNet consultation process, would like to provide your suggestions or host a Focus Group, please forward an email to: Michelle Elwell on firstname.lastname@example.org or Uncle Mick Adams on email@example.com
NSW – Sydney – Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care
The Commission is seeking an Ongoing Senior Project Officer to be responsible for leading the work on the assigned work plan deliverables and the development of resources. The Senior Project Officer will also be required to contribute to broader activities to support the National Standards Program. This will include undertaking research and analysis of information, project management, policy development, stakeholder management, facilitation of meetings, preparation of project documentation and collaborating with other relevant programs within the Commission.
The key duties of the position include:
Position duties and responsibilities include:
With the Director, lead the planning and conceptualisation of strategies and national guidance to support the National Standards Program
Undertake project management activities including project planning and documentation, implementation, monitoring and reporting on progress; providing recommendations about managing risk, and identifying and resolving problems
Provide secretariat support to the work of relevant committees and expert groups managed by the program
Consult with experts and stakeholders including development of consultation strategies and coordination of formal consultation processes to achieve the objectives of the Commission
Maintain knowledge of relevant legislative and reporting requirements, Australian and International standards, quality assurance procedures and best practice models
Undertake work activities with an awareness of their possible impact on strategic, political or operational outcomes for the agency/program
Provide public health and/or health informatics expertise across a broad range of activities as required.
The successful candidate will have:
Excellent project management, time management and organisational skills
Effective and well-developed interpersonal and communication skills including the ability to present, negotiate, influence and consult
Knowledge of the Australian healthcare system and an understanding of issues regarding safety and quality in health care
Experience facilitating the work of committees, and engaging and communicating with stakeholders
Masters level qualifications is desirable.
To view position descriptions and to apply click here. Applications closemidnight, Wednesday 23 June 2021.
The Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety made several recommendations aimed at improving access to culturally safe aged care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Radical change is needed to provide appropriate aged care which draws on Aboriginal culture, says the National Advisory Group for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Aged Care (NAGATSIAC). NAGATSIAC chair and CEO of the Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation Jill Gallagher AO has urged the Federal Government to swiftly adopt all recommendations from the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety Final Report.
“The Royal Commission’s recommendations call for radical change and acknowledge that Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people and organisations are best placed to serve Aboriginal Elders. Ms Gallagher said the aged care system had “profoundly failed Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and these long overdue changes would enable Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders to access aged care that meets their needs. Elders are the keepers of Culture and the heart of our Communities.”
A new health awareness video has been produced by registered Australian health charity Dragon Claw, with funding from the Federal Government, in response to research showing that our First Australians suffer disproportionately from musculoskeletal conditions. The video was developed in conjunction with the Dubbo and Coonamble Aboriginal Health Services and is focused on raising the awareness in the community of the support and treatment that is available for the debilitating impacts of musculoskeletal conditions in Aboriginal communities across Western NSW.
Unaware that seeking help for what, in many cases are treatable ailments, a significant number of our fellow Australians continue to accept their symptoms as the unavoidable ‘aches and pains’ of life – leading to needless suffering and physical impairment. The video features local Aboriginal people, in their own words, encouraging everyone, irrespective of age, to seek the help of their local healthcare providers and then to follow their treatment plan with the prescribed medications.
The Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety Report was tabled in Parliament this week. The final report, titled Care, Dignity and Respect, made 148 recommendations following a two-year investigation into the structural issues in governance and funding in the aged care sector. Commissioners Lynelle Briggs and Tony Pagone said the sector needs a significant boost in funding, a levy similar but separate to the Medicare levy and to bolster the role of an independent pricing authority for the sector. The commissioners recommended a new Aged Care Act be put in place by July 2023, recommending a system based on a “universal right to high quality, safe and timely support and care”.
Adrian Carson CEO of Institute for Urban Indigenous Health (IUIH) said it was clear that the commissioners listened to Indigenous Elders and Indigenous community-controlled providers of aged care services and their experiences. “Our Elders experience challenges attempting to navigate and access their entitlement to aged care,” he said. “The series of significant recommendations reflect what the sector has been saying for some time, the report called the system out on a few big things, including the complete silence around the new national Closing the Gap agreement, it didn’t pay attention to the needs of our Elders, it didn’t set targets or have health commitments for our Elders. It was a huge oversight and I commend the Royal Commission for calling that system out, we’re keen to ensure that not only the recommendations happen, but that the needs of our Elders are reflected in the broader conversation when talking about how we close the gap.”
Matthew Moore General Manager of Aged and Disability Services at the IUIH said the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are “underrepresented in a system where they should be overrepresented. Only 17% of Aboriginal eligible Elders that are over 50 access a part of the aged care system compared to the mainstream engagement that sits [at] over 27%.”
To view the full article in the National Indigenous Times click here.
Germanus Kent House resident Bertha Linty and care worker Victoria Gardener. Image source: Aged Care Guide website.
Vision 2020 Australia welcome Royal Commission recommendations
Vision 2020 Australia has welcomed the findings of the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety and is strongly supportive of recommendations that would address some of the major issues the sector has raised around current arrangements for older Australians living with blindness and vision loss.
A key recommendation contained in the final report was establishing tailored pathways for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who need aged care support, an important part of the broader work done to ensure that all Australians can access culturally safe care and support.
In its recent submission to the 2020–21 Federal Budget Vision 2020 Australia is calling for $37.38 million over 4 years for enhancements to the current aged care system to make it simpler, quicker and more affordable for older Australians who develop or live with permanent vision loss to get the technology and supports they need.
To view the Vision 2020 Australia media release click here and to access their recent submission to the 2020–21 Federal Budget click here.
Image source: Fred Hollows Foundation website.
Aboriginal healthy ageing – the Ironbark Project
Would your service like to be part of research that shows how important community programs are for older Aboriginal people?
The Ironbark Project compares the health impacts of two programs: Standing Strong and Tall program (a weekly exercise and yarning circle) and Healthy Community program (a weekly social program) among groups of Aboriginal people aged 45 years and older.
Services that work with groups of older Aboriginal people (45 years and older) are invited to participate in the study. Services will be funded and trained to run one of these programs weekly for 12 months
For more details about the Ironbark Project click here and to view a flyer for the project click here.
Interested NSW services can register for the 30 minute webinar being held from 2:00– 2.30 PM on Thursday 18 March 2021 by clickinghere.
Mental health report a template for the nation
The report of the Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System aligns in many ways with the recent report of the Productivity Commission, strengthening the impetus for more effective and equitable care and support Australia-wide, the Consumers Health Forum of Australia says. “The Victorian report shares with the Productivity Commission’s mental health report a blueprint for a fresh standard of support and access to care for mental health. The direction of both reports conquers the habitual barriers that have previously consigned mental health care to second class status compared to what’s routinely available for people with physical illness,” the CEO of CHF, Leanne Wells, said.
Image source: Dandenong and District Aborigines Co-operative Limited website.
Only 10% of remote NT kids have healthy ears
In remote communities across the NT, only one in 10 Aboriginal children younger than three years have healthy ears, a new report in the Medical Journal of Australia (MJA) has found. Five have otitis media (OM) with effusion (OME) or ‘glue ear’, and four have suppurative OM – acute OM (AOM) with or without perforation, or chronic suppurative OM (CSOM) ‘The level of ear disease in Aboriginal [and Torres Strait Islander] children is defined by the World Health Organization [WHO] as meeting a public health emergency,’ the study’s lead author Professor Amanda Leach told newsGP.
According to Professor Leach, leader of the Ear Health Research Program at the Child Health Division of Menzies School of Health Research, any rate of OM above 4% is considered a public health emergency. The rate of chronic suppurative OM in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in the NT currently sits between 12–15%. ‘We started off here with around 24%, so it’s definitely come down,’ she said. ‘But we’re a long way away from that target.’
NT Minister for Education, Lauren Moss, says the Territory Labor Government is investing $1.65 million in acoustic upgrades in Territory schools to support high-quality and inclusive education for students. “Improving the acoustic quality of the classrooms makes it easier for our children to learn and hear. 75 classrooms across the Territory are set to receive these works. This funding comes in addition to the $5.2 million Building for Inclusion funding announced in January 2020, where 21 urban classrooms were fitted with specialist amplification systems, designed to support students with hearing difficulties and those who need additional support to focus in class.
To view the full article in newsGPclick here and to view Minister Moss’ media release about the acoustic infrastructure upgrades for NT schools click here.
Image source: newsGP.
Yarning towards life after stroke
Two new studies, focused on speaking and listening from the heart, will seek to empower Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living with stroke to self-manage their stroke recovery. Dr Heidi Janssen and Dr Di Marsden from the Hunter New England Local Health District each received $50,000 grants to kick-start their projects as part of the 2021 Stroke Foundation Research Grants round..
Stroke Foundation Research Advisory Committee Chair Professor Amanda Thrift said Dr Janssen and Dr Marsden will partner with the community to gain knowledge and develop new supports to help survivors of stroke live well. “Sadly, too many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are being affected by stroke,” Professor Thrift said. “Due to recognised disadvantage, the average age of onset of first-ever stroke is 54, 17 years younger than the non-indigenous population and the burden of stroke is 2.3 times as high.
To view the Stroke Foundation article in full click here.
Coral Toomey cares for her husband Bill Toomey who suffered a stroke. Image source: The Northern Daily Leader.
CARE for Rural Australia comes to Queensland
OzHelp Foundation (OzHelp) with the support of Perpetual Trustees, has partnered with Dr Meg Perceval, Be Health, and the Australian Institute for Suicide Research and Prevention (AISRAP) through Griffith University to deliver CARE for Rural Australia. With the initial goal of reaching 300 people across Queensland’s rural and farming communities, a total of 18 CARE for Rural Australia workshops are available free of charge, through both face-to-face and online workshops during March.
Dugalunji Aboriginal Corporation employees harvest spinifex grass on the outskirts of Camooweal, Qld. Image source: The University of Queensland website.
COVID-19 vaccine for people affected by cancer
Following from the COVID-19 Vaccines and Cancer virtual roundtable in Mid-February, Cancer Australia has released a new webpage with dedicated information on the COVID-19 vaccines for people affected by cancer. This information will supplement the broader information provided to clinicians and the community as part of the Australian Government’s national COVID-19 vaccine rollout strategy.
The information is available to view here and the FAQs can be viewed here.
Over the coming weeks, Cancer Australia will release, in collaboration with our Indigenous colleagues, tailored information for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people affected by cancer. Cancer Australia will also be translating the FAQs into different languages to support culturally and linguistically diverse populations affected by cancer. In order to address the ongoing information needs of people affected by cancer, Cancer Australia will be regularly updating the FAQs as new information emerges about COVID-19 vaccines and cancer. Cancer Australia would also appreciate any further information or feedback you may have on the FAQs.
Image source: The Guardian.
Legal challenge launched over proposed Dan Murphy’s store
Danila Dilba Health Service has launched legal proceedings over the decision to approve a large Dan Murphy’s store in Darwin. In the legal action filed in the NT Supreme Court, the Darwin-based Aboriginal community organisation is asking for the liquor licence approval to be set aside. The court document names the Director of Liquor Licensing and Woolworths Group – which owns Dan Murphy’s – as the defendants to the action. Maurice Blackburn’s Social Justice Practice is running the case. Danila Dilba CEO Olga Havnen said the decision to approve the liquor licence failed to properly weigh up the risks and benefits of the new store.
Someone else who is opposed to the Dan Murphy’s store is psychologist Dr Damien Howard. Dr Howard has provided counselling services at Bagot Community in Darwin for over 10 years. He has seen the attempts of the dry community to keep thee damaging effects of alcohol out of the community. He has seen the havoc alcohol causes in family life and is dismayed that Woolworths wants to place a Dan Murphy’s alcohol megastore nearby the community, against the strong wishes of the Bagot community. The Dan Murphy grog megastore in Darwin is being pursued by Woolworths and is opposed by local dry Aboriginal communities as it will cause more:
Foetal Alcohol Syndrome
alcohol related violence, including family violence
Dr Howard says while espousing reconciliation Woolworth’s actions are carving a place for themselves in corporate infamy.
Hearing loss and dementia research
In December 2020, the Hearing Care Industry Association (HCIA) commissioned Mark Laureyns of the Thomas More University College in Antwerp, to write a paper examining the rapidly evolving research linking the treatment of midlife hearing loss and the prevention of dementia in later life. In doing this, Mark had the brief to only utilise research that had appeared in peer reviewed journals over the past 4 years.
Dementia, Hearing Loss and Hearing Care: Saving Australia’s Minds provides compelling, peer-reviewed evidence for early hearing care intervention to prevent dementia. A key finding of the latest research finds that hearing loss in mid-life is the largest modifiable risk factor for age-related dementia.
Dementia is the second leading cause of death amongst Australians and the leading cause of death amongst Australian women. The Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety, whose report was recently released, made 148 recommendations. Of those, 14 related to dementia. With an ageing population and increasing costs of providing aged care, now is the time to seize the opportunity for a preventative hearing health strategy that will address the link between age-related hearing loss and dementia.
Katungul Aboriginal Corporation is seeking a dynamic, forward-thinking CEO to lead the delivery of health and wellbeing services to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities in southern NSW.
Katungul Aboriginal Corporation Regional Health and Community Services works in partnership with local health services to ensure that their clients receive culturally appropriate medical, dental, social and emotional wellbeing services. Their vision is “for Aboriginal people to live healthy lives enriched by a strong living culture, dignity and justice and for Katungul’s work to be recognised as a driving force in achieving this.
The CEO is accountable to the Board and is responsible for the delivery of the objectives outlined in the strategic plan.
You will be responsible for strengthening partnerships with local health providers, expansion of the current operating areas and development of a community engagement strategy to ensure that services on offer remain relevant and in line with their client’s needs.
The CEO has the support of an Executive Officer and leads the four main organisational areas of Community Services, Health Services, Business Services and Governance, and Finance.
The role is based in Narooma, with additional offices and clinics in Bega and Batemans Bay. Katungul covers a wide operational base, and travel throughout the region is essential.
We are looking for a person who is decisive, proactive and results-oriented who likes to achieve excellence, is innovative and can communicate to customers and team members with flair and style. A natural leader who is enthusiastic and good at seeing the big picture whilst focusing on results.
This is an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander identified position. Applicants must be of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander descent (pursuant to Section 14 (d) of the Anti-discrimination Act and Confirmation of Aboriginality will be required.
For full details of the requirements of the role and the selection criteria, please refer to the position description attached below or contact Natalie on 0439 626 393 or firstname.lastname@example.org for a confidential discussion.
Post Doctoral Research Fellow x 1 FT (fixed term for 2 years) – Newcastle
The School of Medicine and Public Health College of Health, Medicine and Wellbeing, The University of Newcastle has a vacancy for a Post Doctoral Research Fellow. In the position you will collaborate with influential Professors and research leaders within Aboriginal health research to lead Aboriginal health ethics projects nationally.
Research Assistant x 1 FT (fixed term) – Sydney – The Children’s Hospital at Westmead
The University of Sydney’s Centre for Kidney Research is seeking a Research Assistant to work on a project alongside a team of researchers and educators. This project aims to undertake research and develop clinical practice guidelines on the management of chronic kidney disease in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the management of kidney stones.
During Hearing Awareness Week, it is important to remember that Aboriginal Australian children have one of the highest rates of chronic otitis media (middle ear infection) in the world. They are three times more likely than non-Aboriginal children to experience permanent hearing loss associated with ear disease.
Children living in regional and remote communities are particularly at risk of long-term hearing problems due to environmental determinants such as poor housing and infrastructure, overcrowding, and exposure to pollutants such as tobacco smoke.
In Australia, some Aboriginal communities report that up to 40% of their children suffer from chronic otitis media. Early diagnosis and management of otitis media, as well as measures aimed at improving environmental health conditions, are key elements in avoiding hearing loss, and the consequent effect on a child’s language, education and psychosocial development.
The Aboriginal Community-Controlled Health Organisation (ACCHO) model of holistic, comprehensive primary care is best suited to provide this early intervention and to address environmental determinants of poor ear health. ACCHOs are embedded within communities and can provide regular education, screening and treatment for children in a culturally secure, family-oriented environment.
To view the Aboriginal Health Council of WA’s We’re all Ears for Hearing Awareness Week media release click here.
2021 Close the Gap Campaign report launch
The Close the Gap Campaign aims to close the health and life expectancy gap between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and non-Indigenous Australians within a generation. The campaign is built on evidence that shows significant improvements in the health status of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples can be achieved by 2030.
The Australia Institute is delighted to invite you to the launch of the 2021 Close the Gap Campaign report “Leadership & Legacy Through Crises: Keeping Our Mob Safe”, written by the Lowitja Institute. Speakers include:
June Oscar AO
Co-Chair, Close the Gap Campaign
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, Australian Human Rights Commission
Co-Chair, Close the Gap Campaign
CEO of National Association of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workers and Practitioners
Dr Janine Mohamed
CEO, Lowitja Institute
and special guest
Sir Michael Marmot
Chair, WHO Commission on Social Determinants of Health
The report will be launched via webinar, on National Close the Gap Day – Thursday 18 March – hosted by the Australia Institute in support of the Close the Gap Campaign.
Noon AEDT (ACT, VIC, NSW, TAS)
11:30 AM ACDT (SA) / 11 AM AEST (QLD)
10:30 AM ACST (NT) / 9.00 AM AWST (WA)
The webinar is free, but registration is essential – to register click here.
Indigenous people living in remote NT communities want job opportunities and not welfare, Aboriginal advocates say. Participation in education is increasing but employment rates are falling due to a lack of available jobs, Aboriginal Peak Organisations NT says. Residents are living under immense economic stress – often paying three times the price for food and other essentials than in the city. Inadequate housing and poor health outcomes are also a challenge.
“The need for investment in jobs in remote communities remains large and unaddressed,” AMSANT CEO John Paterson told a federal parliamentary committee on Indigenous employment and business earlier this week. “We can’t afford to keep doing the same old, same old and achieve the same disastrous results year in, year out.” Unemployment has become systemic in many communities with an Aboriginal employment rate of 37% across the Territory.
Creating secure meaningful work leads to better outcomes than struggling to make ends meet on welfare payments, Mr Paterson said. “In the larger remote communities in the NT if every job was taken up by the jobseekers in that community, the employment rate would still be half the national average,” he said. APO NT called on the federal government to spend less on improving welfare programs – such as the cashless debit card – and invest in jobs.
Front of Amata store, Amata, NT. Image source: The Australian Prevention Partnership Centre website.
Cracks in the ice feedback sought
Researchers from the University of Sydney are seeking feedback on a recently developed Cracks in the Ice resource for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. They are looking for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to give their feedback on the resources and website. If you, your mob or community has been impacted by ice, or if you are a health professional in this space, make your voice heard and help make sure this resource meets the needs of the community.
The survey will take approximately 15 to 30 minutes, with participants also having an option of providing further detailed feedback in a telephone interview. All participants will go into the draw to win a voucher valued at $50. To access the survey, please click here.
Crystal methamphetamine pipe. Image source: The Sydney Morning Herald.
Alleged attack not just physical
A statement from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner June Oscar AO: “My heart goes out to the First Nations woman and her daughter who were allegedly attacked on Saturday by a man displaying white supremacist insignia in Perth. A racially-motivated attack is not only a physical assault, it is an attempt to terrorise people for who they are and an attempt to undermine the shared values that hold our democracy together. The trauma caused by attacks such as that which has been alleged can have acute and long-lasting impacts and I hope that this woman and her daughter are receiving all the support they need to heal and to help them feel safe in their community. It is imperative that urgent and serious attention is given to this issue. The Race Discrimination Commissioner Chin Tan has developed a proposed National Anti-Racism Framework and is in discussion with government about it.
To view the Australian Human Rights Commission media statement click here.
Image source: The Guardian.
Social distancing impacts those with hearing loss
Damien Howard, a consultant psychologist from Darwin, NT says social distancing can do unintentional harm. The many Aboriginal people with hearing loss often cope by using ‘social amplification’. Having family or friends help them understand what others say. It is especially important when talking to new people about unfamiliar topics. This means that social distancing can have a selective impact on them, if it prevents people using their usual communication support strategies. If communication is too stressful those with hearing loss often use avoidance as a way of coping. Increased avoidance of needed communication engagement will be the outcome if Aboriginal people with hearing loss are prevented from using ‘social amplification’ as a coping strategy.
Rural health experts on bush vaccine rollout
Rural and Indigenous health experts are meeting regularly to ensure rural communities continue to be central to the phased rollout of Australia’s COVID-19 vaccine. The Remote Vaccine Working Group will provide advice to the Federal Government and identify issues as the rollout continues towards Phase 1B and beyond. Federal Regional Health Minister, Mark Coulton said the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines to every corner of the country was complex and that was why the Federal Government had a plan and was listening to expert advice from rural health stakeholders. “COVID-19 case numbers in rural and remote areas have been low, but the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine into regional, rural and remote communities is a vital part of the Government’s vaccine strategy to ensure everyone in Australia is protected,” Minister Coulton said.
To view Minster Coulton’s media release click here.
Image source: ABC News website.
Katherine residents dying prematurely
Katherine residents are collectively losing thousands of years of life to premature death, with poor local Indigenous health outcomes being a major contributor to these lost years. New research from Torrens University shows Katherine lost 4,340 years of life to people dying before the age of 75 between 2014 and 2018. This is 2.25 times higher than the national average. The median age of death in Katherine was 65, far below the nationwide median age of 81 but higher than the broader regional Australian median age of death at 60. Torrens University’s John Glover conducted the research and said these lost years of life can be attributed to high proportions of Indigenous people, of which many suffer from chronic health conditions.
Professor Glover said the association between a lower median age at death, socioeconomic disadvantage and the proportion of the population who are Indigenous is very strong across the NT, “The gap is widening because whatever policies we’re taking aren’t getting through.” Katherine Indigenous advocate and Gurindji man Kamahi-Djordon King said his own lived experience aligns with Professor Glover’s research. Mr King said these poor health outcomes are an ongoing symptom of colonialism and the gap between First Nation’s people and the rest of the population, and this new research is another reason to push for truth-telling about Australia’s history and Closing the Gap targets to be met by governments.
Katherine Indigenous advocate & Gurindji man Kamahi-Djordon King, Photo by Tom Robinson. Image source: Katherine Times.
AHW helps QLD Close the Gap
Growing up, visiting the doctors made Dani Beezley uncomfortable. The Wulli Wulli and Wakka Wakka woman was raised in the rural town of Theodore in central Queensland. While the 32-year-old has fond memories of visiting her local GP, she remembers sharing uneasy feelings with family when they had to approach others. “I didn’t really feel that comfortable, and I know that my parents didn’t as well,” she said. “I think that might’ve been because there weren’t as many things put in place to make Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people feel safe and comfortable.”
Perhaps, that’s why Ms Beezley’s career path has led her back to helping her community access better health services. Ms Beezley is one of about 150 qualified Aboriginal Health Practitioners in Queensland. The nationally registered professionals usually work in hospitals or dedicated Aboriginal health services, but Ms Beezley works at a private practice. “[We] are there for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients and not a lot even like to go to the doctor at all, and it can be a challenge to get them in,” she said.
Aboriginal Health Worker Dani Beezley. Image source: ABC News website.
Parenting helpline & resources
The Government of South Australia Parenting SA has a helpline and a host of resources for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families with children 0 to 12. Via the Parenting SA website here you can get advice on baby and child health and parenting. There is a 10 Parent Easy Guides for Aboriginal Parents that cover topics such as: being a dad; raising strong children; children living with grandparents and now you are a parent.
Image source: Meerilinga Children and Family Centres website.
Homeless teen to PhD in medicine
To describe Lisa Jackson Pulver as an “inspiration” seems overly simplistic, a trite and lacklustre attempt at neatly containing her and her many triumphs to a neat box. Some people cannot be so easily contained – and it is difficult to find one word that truly encapsulates all that she is. So here are a few: Resilient domestic abuse survivor. Ambitious nurse. Social justice warrior. Progressive epidemiologist. Committed professor. Resolute activist.
A Jewish and Wiradjuri Koori woman. In fact, Lisa Jackson Pulver is the first known Aboriginal person to have received a PhD in medicine. And with a Member of the Order of Australia in tow, she holds the position of Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Indigenous Strategy and Services, at the University of Sydney.
Professor Lisa Jackson Pulver AM. Image source: The University of Sydney website.
World’s first stroke air ambulance
Australia is set to save lives and lead the way internationally with the latest innovation in stroke treatment and care – a stroke air ambulance. Stroke Foundation is thrilled to be a primary partner in The Stroke Golden Hour research project awarded $40 million under Stage Two of the Frontier Health and Medical Research Initiative. The Stroke Golden Hour project is developing lightweight brain scanners that are more portable, meaning they can be put into ambulances on the roads and in the air. This will allow rapid diagnosis and treatment to those who have a stroke, saving lives and reducing disability.
Stroke Foundation CEO Sharon McGowan said the project had the potential to revolutionise treatment of stroke nationally and internationally. “For too long Australians living in our regional and rural areas have been denied the high-quality stroke treatment provided to their metropolitan based counterparts.Our country’s broad geography will no longer be a barrier to time-critical stroke treatment.”
Currently regional and rural Australians are overrepresented in stroke statistics. More than 27,000 Australians will experience a stroke for the first time this year. Rural and regional Australians are 17% more likely to have a stroke and are more likely to have a poorer outcome due to limited access to stroke specialists, treatments, and care.
For more information and to view a short video about the stoke air ambulance click here.
Parents of four kids, Wiradjuri woman Charlotte Porter and her husband James have each experienced a stroke. Both are advocates for community education on the signs of stroke and the need for urgent care. Image source: Stroke Foundation website.
World Hearing Day – Wednesday 3 March 2021
Ear disease and associated hearing loss are highly prevalent among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children. Poor ear and hearing health is a serious problem, which can profoundly affect a child’s life.
World Hearing Day is held on 3 March each year to raise awareness on how to prevent deafness and hearing loss and promote ear and hearing care across the world. It marks the launch of the first-ever World Report on Hearing, presenting a global call for action to address hearing loss and ear diseases across the life course. The theme in 2021 is Hearing Care for ALL! Screen, Rehabilitate, Communicate
World Hearing Day coincides with Hearing Awareness Week in Australia (1 to 7 March).
Diabetes Australia is prompting people living with the disease to get back on top of their care with a new campaign, funded through the National Diabetes Services Scheme, an Australian Government initiative administered by Diabetes Australia. Titled ‘Back on Track’, the multi-platform campaign is urging those who may have fallen behind with their appointments throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, to get in touch with their local medical service. Indigenous people are almost four times as likely to live with diabetes compared with other Australians.
Ngunnawal Elder Violet Sheridan, who is a diabetic, admitted that her management of the disease had dropped off. She said her fear of COVID-19 was so great she was reluctant to go out into the community or to even engage with her health care providers, “I can be a bit naughty; I don’t listen sometimes which I should… I need to get my mind focused again after getting off track,‘ she told NITV News. “I went down to one of the supermarkets, I went in when COVID was raging real bad when it was first here in Canberra and the grocery store was just packed, I panicked, I panicked, panicked, I just left everything.”
Christopher Lee, the manager for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Engagement at Diabetes Australia said they’ve collected data that corresponds with stories like Ms Sheridan’s.
You can access an online copy of the NITV Back on Track news story featuring Ngunnawal Elder Aunty Violet Sheridan by clicking here and to you can view the Diabetes Australia media release regarding the Back on Track launch by clicking here.
Ngunnawal elder Violet Sheridan who lives with diabetes, was scared of contracting COVID-19. Image source: NITV News.
Get a heart check video
The Heart Foundation, Mawarnkarra Health Service, Glenys Collard and Dr Celeste Rodriguez Louro from the University of WA, the WA Centre for Rural Health and consumers have contributed to the production of a short, animated video designed to encourage Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to see their local health worker to get a free heart check.
The Healing Foundation is urging all Australian schools to include the story of the Stolen Generations in their curriculum to ensure students have a better understanding of the full history of Australia. As schools prepare for the 2021 year, they are encouraged to incorporate The Healing Foundation’s Stolen Generations Resource Kit for Teachers and Students into their curriculums. The kit provides schools with a free resource that communicates the full history of Australia and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in a safe and age-appropriate way.
The Healing Foundation CEO Fiona Petersen said Australia’s history dates back more than 60,000 years and is rich with stories of the oldest continuous culture on Earth. “The story of the Stolen Generations provides context and meaning for the struggles and inequities that First Nations peoples have faced since colonisation,” Ms Petersen said. “The traumatic impact of historical child removals continues to affect Stolen Generations survivors and their families today, but until now very little has been taught in schools. “The grief and trauma that resulted from historical child removals is deep, complex and ongoing, and it is compounded when unacknowledged or dismissed for a sanitised version of history.
To view the Healing Foundation’s media release in full click here.
Kahlin Compound and Half Caste Home, Darwin, NT, 1921. Image source: ABC News.
NSW Aboriginal Mental Health & Wellbeing Strategy
The NSW Aboriginal Mental Health and Wellbeing Strategy 2020-2025 is designed to support and assists NSW health services in delivering respectful and appropriate mental health services in partnership with Aboriginal services, people and communities. The strategy is the foundation for change that will support a future way of working under the national Agreement for Closing the Gap in Aboriginal Health outcomes.
Climate change impacts Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and communities – and all Australians. The Australian Indigenous Doctors’ Association (AIDA) has recently issued a policy statement titled, Climate change and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’s health. The paper outlines AIDA’s position in relation to climate change in Australia and the current research around its impact on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
AIDA has invited you to read the paper, share it with your members and colleagues and promote it among your networks.
To view AIDA’s policy statement in full click here.
Image source: Seed website.
Ever-present structural and systemic racism
As years go, 2020 was memorable to say the very least. For First Nations Australians and their allies the COVID-19 pandemic was not been the only stressor. The death of American black man George Floyd on 25 May at the hands of white Minneapolis police officers, and the subsequent resurgence of the #BlackLivesMatter movement highlighted again the ever-present structural and systemic racism across Australia, including in the health system.
Kristy Crooks, an Aboriginal woman of the Euahlayi nation, who has three degrees under her belt and a PhD in progress, works every day to improve the health of First Nations people through her role as Aboriginal Program Manager with Hunter New England Population Health. Ms Crooks said “COVID has further marginalised people who are already disadvantaged, and it’s highlighted the structural barriers, including institutional racism”.
To view the full article in the Medical Journal of Australia click here and to read the opinion piece (First Nations people leading the way in COVID-19 pandemic planning, response and management) by Ms Crooks and her colleagues which focuses on the new community-driven approach to the pandemic click here.
Image source: 3CR Community Radio website.
Health literacy needed to combat fake health news
The Consumers Health Forum (CHF) has welcomed the AMA’s position statement on health literacy as important recognition of the need for strong public support for people to have access to valid health information. “CHF has long argued for more focus on health literacy to ensure people understand their own health and care needs so they have the power to make the best decisions for their health,” the CEO of CHF, Leanne Wells, said. “In the internet era when so much good and bad information floods people’s screens, there is a need for a healthy information culture to overcome fake health news.
“We agree with the AMA that doctors, and health systems, have a vital role to play in improving health literacy by communicating effectively and sensitively with patients, encouraging discussion, and providing information that is understandable and relevant. We would support the AMA’s call for an Australian Government-funded campaign to counter this misinformation and promote healthy choices, including information about vaccine safety and the health risks associated with alcohol, junk food, tobacco, and other drugs “Health literacy is vital to consumers’ capacity to manage and feel in control of their health care. Right now, up to 60% of Australians appear to lack the capacity to access, understand, appraise and use crucial information to make health-related decisions.
To view the CHF’s media release in full click here.
Image source: IC-Health.
Stroke Foundation award nominations open
Nominations are now open for the 2021 Stroke Foundation Stroke Awards. The Awards celebrate survivors of stroke, carers, health professionals and volunteers who have shown an outstanding commitment to make life better for Australians impacted by stroke.
Do you know someone who deserves to be recognised? Nominate them for the 2021 Stroke Awards by Friday 12 February 2021 by clicking here.
2021 Nurses and midwives national awards
HESTA is calling on Australians to show their appreciation and support for the nation’s nurses and midwives by submitting a nomination to the 2021 HESTA Australian Nursing and Midwifery Awards. The Awards recognise nurses, midwives, nurse educators, researchers and personal care workers for their outstanding work to provide exceptional care, leading the way for improved health outcomes.
HESTA CEO Debby Blakey said the COVID-19 pandemic has further demonstrated the immense impact these professionals, who have gone above and beyond to deliver quality patient care during a very difficult time, have in keeping communities healthy and safe. “Our nurses and midwives are the backbone of our community; they deserve to be recognised,” Ms Blakey said.
“Nominating in these Awards is an opportunity to show support for and give thanks to all our nurses and midwives and acknowledge their hard work and achievements.”
To view the media release regarding the awards and details of how to submit a nomination click here. Nominations close on 7 February 2021.
Angelena Savage and baby Tyrell and Gumma Gundoo Indigenous Midwifery Group Practice midwife Kat Humphreys. Image source: The Queensland Times.
Housing and infectious diseases study
Housing and crowding are critical to health. Sufficient, well-maintained housing infrastructure can support healthy living practices for hygiene, nutrition and safety. However, when there is insufficient public housing for a growing community and a lack of functioning health hardware, the transmission risk of hygiene related infectious diseases increases. The outcome is that many Indigenous Australians currently living in remote areas experience considerably higher levels of preventable infections, such as boils, scabies, middle ear infections and lung infections, than their non-Indigenous and urban counterparts.
The Pilyii Papulu Purrukaj-ji (Good housing to prevent sickness): A study of housing, crowding and hygiene-related infectious diseases in the Barkly Region, Northern Territory report provides a case study of Tennant Creek and the surrounding Barkly Region in the NT, to highlight the relationship between remote housing, crowding and infectious disease. It was conducted in partnership between The University of Queensland (School of Public Health and Aboriginal Environments Research Centre) and Anyinginyi Health Aboriginal Corporation, an Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation that provides health services within the town and through a mobile clinic.
Palliative Care Victoria have produced a podcast which provides an example of the support Aboriginal Health Liaison Workers can offer Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with a life-limiting illness. Suzanne Nelson, a Yorta Yorta woman and Aboriginal Health Liaison Worker, discusses how she supports Aboriginal people who have a life-limiting condition and their families. To listen to the podcast click here.
Suzanne Nelson. Image source: LinkedIn.
High youth incarceration rates in ACT
The ACT Council of Social Service (ACTCOSS) and Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health and Community Services have expressed their deep concern over the high rates of incarceration of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young people in the ACT as detailed in a recently released report. Data from the Productivity Commission’s Report on Government Services (ROGS) 2021 revealed that the rate of Indigenous youth incarceration in the ACT in 2019–20 was at its highest since 2014–15. Dr Campbell, ACTCOSS CEO, said: “The ROGS data tells us that there is significant overrepresentation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young people in detention in the ACT.”
To read the joint ACTCOSS and Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health and Community Services media release in full click here.
ACT’s Youth Detention Centre, Bimberi. Image source: Aulich Lawyer & Law Firm blog.
Health magazine seeks contributions
The National Rural Health Alliance (NRHA), a peak body working to improve health and wellbeing in rural and remote Australia, is seeking contributions for the next issue of its online magazine, Partyline, to be published in March 2021. The March issue will focus on the long tail of COVID-19 in rural, regional and remote settings as we learn from the past 12 months. The extraordinary disruption of the pandemic has resulted in a swag of changes in the way we live, the way we perceive our own health, in our experiences and engagement with the health system, and in the way we understand the role of public health.
For the March edition NRHA welcomes stories about trends happening in rural health during the pandemic, and both positive and negative changes because of COVID-19. They recommend an article length of 600 words with accompanying photos that visually portray your message. As always, they are also happy to publish poetry or creative prose.
To view the current Partyline issue click here. Contributions to the next issue aredue byCOB Thursday 11 February 2021.
CSU lecturer in physiotherapy & placement supervisor Kay Skinner with CSU physiotherapy students Emily Barr and Kloe Mannering. Image source: Partyline.
SEWB programs review
Multiple culturally-oriented programs, services, and frameworks have emerged in recent decades to support the social and emotional wellbeing (SEWB) of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander (Aboriginal) people in Australia. Although there are some common elements, principles, and methods, few attempts have been made to integrate them into a set of guidelines for policy and practice settings.
A Charles Darwin University review, A scoping review about social and emotional wellbeing programs and services targeting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people in Australia: understanding the principles guiding promising practice aims to identify key practices adopted by programs and services that align with the principles of the National Strategic Framework for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples’ Mental Health and Social and Emotional Wellbeing 2017–2023.
The review argues the selective application of nationally agreed principles in SEWB programs and services, alongside a paucity of scholarship relating to promising practices in young people-oriented SEWB programs and services, are two areas that need the urgent attention of commissioners and service providers tasked with funding, planning, and implementing SEWB programs and services for Aboriginal people. Embedding robust participatory action research and evaluation approaches into the design of such services and programs will help to build the necessary evidence-base to achieve improved SEWB health outcomes among Aboriginal people, particularly young people with severe and complex mental health needs.
Image source: ‘Wellbeing’ by Professor Helen Milroy, 2017.
Recognising mental illness patterns
Kylie Henry, a 43-year-old Aboriginal woman from the Wakka Wakka tribe in Cherbourg, Queensland, where she was born and raised, has learned to live with mental illness.
“I’ve always known that I was different from others and couldn’t understand why I was going through so much turmoil in my life. To admit to having a disability was shameful for me and I didn’t want to acknowledge the fact that I had a mental illness, largely because of being discriminated against by my own people along with others. I didn’t want people, especially those from my own community, to tease me because of my disability. I hid it for so many years.”
Youth must be central to service design and delivery
Mission Australia CEO James Toomey says that “Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people must be central to the co-design and co-implementation of the services that they need and it is vital and logical that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have greater influence over the policies, programs and services that affect them.”
This call has been backed by Professor Tom Calma AO, who said the policy and service response for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people was more critical now than ever, “Policy leaders must be serious about reconciliation and enhancing the social and emotional wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people and come together with them and prioritise tackling these issues with practical solutions. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people should be actively involved in services design and delivery. After all, they hold the knowledge and wisdom about what it means to be an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander young person today.” Calma believes a co-design approach has been gaining momentum recently.
Guthoo Youth Summit, Kalgoorlie-Boulder. Image source; National Indigenous Australian Agency.
National Suicide and Self-harm Monitoring System website launch
Lifeline Australia Chief Executive Officer, Colin Seery, welcomed the launch of a National Suicide and Self-harm Monitoring System website by the Australian Mental Health Commission and Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIWH) as a significant step toward. The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) has released the public website which is funded by the Department of Health. Mr Seery said: “This suicide and self-harm monitoring system will greatly improve the way suicide prevention services can respond to suicide risk. It will provide us with greater insight into where both the immediate and heightened risk is occurring, enabling us to put in place preventative measures that will mitigate the risk of harm as soon as it is identified.”
To view the Lifeline Australia media statement click here.
Image source: The Wire website.
Diabetes and hypertension webinar
Kidney Health Education is hosting a health professional webinar called Diabetes and Hypertension – Case Study Discussions presented by Dr Angus Ritchie, Nephrologist at 7.00 pm AEST on Wednesday 14 October 2020.
The Stroke Foundation has been funded by the National Disability Insurance Agency to deliver information for younger stroke survivors aged 18 to 65 years old, their partners, families, friends and employers. The project has a focus on diverse communities, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders and the LGBTQI+ community. We have a proud Wiradjuri woman Charlotte on our lived experience working group and have commenced engagement with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders who have registered interest in our project.
You can read more about the Young Stroke Project here.
Stroke Foundation’s Lived Experience Working Group member and stroke survivor Charlotte Porter. Image source: The Condobolin Argus.
New app to help curb ice use
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who use the drug “ice” are being urged to trial a new web-app as part of a public health project designed to stop methamphetamine consumption. The We Can Do This app was developed by the University of Queensland (UQ) and SA medical researchers, with input from Aboriginal people who have previously used ice. UQ School of Public Health project leader Professor Jame Ward said the app included interactive modules on social, health and psychological elements linked to drug addiction.
For more information on the We Can Do This app click here and read the full article about the development of the new app click here.
Image source: UQ News website.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth face unique issues
Mission Australia’s Youth Survey in 2019 has found that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander teenagers are three times as likely to have experienced homelessness and are more concerned about domestic violence and suicide than non-Indigenous youth. Indigenous teens were also twice as likely to be concerned about drugs, alcohol and discrimination. Professor Tom Calma, University of Canberra chancellor and co-chair of the Voice to Government Senior Advisory Group, said the report showed more needed to be done to properly support young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in need and a target policy and service response is overdue.
This new plain language publication provides information for a wider (non-academic) audience and incorporates many visual elements.
The Summary is useful for health workers and those studying in the field as a quick source of general information. It provides key information regarding the health status of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people across the following topics:
The Summary is available online and in hardcopy format. Please contact HealthInfoNet by email if you wish to order a hardcopy of this Summary. Other reviews and plain language summaries are available here.
Here are the key facts
Please note in an earlier version sent out 7.00 am June 15 a computer error dropped off the last word in many sentences : these are new fixed
In 2019, the estimated Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population was 847,190.
In 2019, NSW had the highest number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people (the estimated population was 281,107 people, 33% of the total Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population).
In 2019, NT had the highest proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in its population, with 32% of the NT population identifying as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islanders
In 2016, around 37% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people lived in major cities
The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population is much younger than the non-Indigenous population.
Births and pregnancy outcomes
In 2018, there were 21,928 births registered in Australia with one or both parents identified as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander (7% of all births registered).
In 2018, the median age for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mothers was 26.0 years.
In 2018, total fertility rates were 2,371 births per 1,000 for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women.
In 2017, the average birthweight of babies born to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mothers was 3,202 grams
The proportion of low birthweight babies born to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mothers between 2007 and 2017 remained steady at around 13%.
For 2018, the age-standardised death rate for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in NSW, Qld, WA, SA and the NT was 1 per 1,000.
Between 1998 and 2015, there was a 15% reduction in the death rates for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in NSW, Qld, WA, SA and the NT.
For Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people born 2015-2017, life expectancy was estimated to be 6 years for males and 75.6 years for females, around 8-9 years less than the estimates for non-Indigenous males and females.
In 2018, the median age at death for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in NSW, Qld, WA, SA and the NT was 2 years; this was an increase from 55.8 years in 2008.
Between 1998 and 2015, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander infant mortality rate has more than halved (from 5 to 6.3 per 1,000).
In 2018, the leading causes of death among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in NSW, Qld, WA, SA and the NT were ischaemic heart disease (IHD), diabetes, chronic lower respiratory diseases and lung and related cancers.
For 2012-2017 the maternal mortality ratio for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women was 27 deaths per 100,000 women who gave birth.
For 1998-2015, in NSW, Qld, WA, SA and the NT there was a 32% decline in the death rate from avoidable causes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 0-74 years
In 2017-18, 9% of all hospital separations were for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
In 2017-18, the age-adjusted separation rate for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people was 2.6 times higher than for non-Indigenous people.
In 2017-18, the main cause of hospitalisation for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people was for ‘factors influencing health status and contact with health services’ (mostly for care involving dialysis), responsible for 49% of all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander seperations.
In 2017-18, the age-standardised rate of overall potentially preventable hospitalisations for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people was 80 per 1,000 (38 per 1,000 for chronic conditions and 13 per 1,000 for vaccine-preventable conditions).
Selected health conditions
In 2018-19, around 15% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people reported having cardiovascular disease (CVD).
In 2018-19, nearly one quarter (23%) of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults were found to have high blood pressure.
For 2013-2017, in Qld, WA, SA and the NT combined, there were 1,043 new rheumatic heart disease diagnoses among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, a crude rate of 50 per 100,000.
In 2017-18, there 14,945 hospital separations for CVD among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, representing 5.4% of all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander hospital separations (excluding dialysis).
In 2018, ischaemic heart disease (IHD) was the leading specific cause of death of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in NSW, Qld, WA, SA and the NT
In 2018-19, 1% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people reported having cancer (males 1.2%, females 1.1%).
For 2010-2014, the most common cancers diagnosed among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in NSW, Vic, Qld, WA and the NT were lung cancer and breast (females) cancer.
Survival rates indicate that of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in NSW, Vic, Qld, WA, and the NT who were diagnosed with cancer between 2007 and 2014, 50% had a chance of surviving five years after diagnosis
In 2016-17, there 8,447 hospital separations for neoplasms2 among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people
For 2013-2017, the age-standardised mortality rate due to cancer of any type was 238 per 100,000, an increase of 5% when compared with a rate of 227 per 100,000 in 2010-2014.
In 2018-19, 8% of Aboriginal people and 7.9% of Torres Strait Islander people reported having diabetes.
In 2015-16, there were around 2,300 hospitalisations with a principal diagnosis of type 2 diabetes among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people
In 2018, diabetes was the second leading cause of death for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
The death rate for diabetes decreased by 0% between 2009-2013 and 2014-2018.
Some data sources use term ‘neoplasm’ to describe conditions associated with abnormal growth of new tissue, commonly referred to as a Neoplasms can be benign (not cancerous) or malignant (cancerous) .
Social and emotional wellbeing
In 2018-19, 31% of Aboriginal and 23% of Torres Strait Islander respondents aged 18 years and over reported high or very high levels of psychological distress
In 2014-15, 68% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15 years and over and 67% of children aged 4-14 years experienced at least one significant stressor in the previous 12 months
In 2012-13, 91% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people reported on feelings of calmness and peacefulness, happiness, fullness of life and energy either some, most, or all of the time.
In 2014-15, more than half of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15 years and over reported an overall life satisfaction rating of at least 8 out of 10.
In 2018-19, 25% of Aboriginal and 17% of Torres Strait Islander people, aged two years and over, reported having a mental and/or behavioural conditions
In 2018-19, anxiety was the most common mental or behavioural condition reported (17%), followed by depression (13%).
In 2017-18, there were 21,940 hospital separations with a principal diagnosis of International Classification of Diseases (ICD) ‘mental and behavioural disorders’ identified as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander
In 2018, 169 (129 males and 40 females) Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in NSW, Qld, WA, SA, and the NT died from intentional self-harm (suicide).
Between 2009-2013 and 2014-2018, the NT was the only jurisdiction to record a decrease in intentional self-harm (suicide) death rates.
In 2018-19, 8% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people (Aboriginal people 1.9%; Torres Strait Islander people 0.4%) reported kidney disease as a long-term health condition.
For 2014-2018, after age-adjustment, the notification rate of end-stage renal disease was 3 times higher for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people than for non-Indigenous people.
In 2017-18, ‘care involving dialysis’ was the most common reason for hospitalisation among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
In 2018, 310 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people commenced dialysis and 49 were the recipients of new kidneys.
For 2013-2017, the age-adjusted death rate from kidney disease was 21 per 100,000 (NT: 47 per 100,000; WA: 38 per 100,000) for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in NSW, Qld, WA, SA and NT
In 2018, the most common causes of death among the 217 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who were receiving dialysis was CVD (64 deaths) and withdrawal from treatment (51 deaths).
Injury, including family violence
In 2012-13, 5% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people reported having a long-term condition caused by injury.
In 2018-19, 16% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15 years and over had experienced physical harm or threatened physical harm at least once in the last 12 months.
In 2016-17, the rate of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander hospitalised injury was higher for males (44 per 1,000) than females (39 per 1,000).
In 2017-18, 20% of injury-related hospitalisations among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people were for assault.
In 2018, intentional self-harm was the leading specific cause of injury deaths for NSW, Qld, SA, WA, and NT (5.3% of all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander deaths).
In 2018-19, 29% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people reported having a long-term respiratory condition .
In 2018-19, 16% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people reported having asthma.
In 2014-15, crude hospitalisation rates were highest for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people presenting with influenza and pneumonia (7.4 per 1,000), followed by COPD (5.3 per 1,000), acute upper respiratory infections (3.8 per 1,000) and asthma (2.9 per 1,000).
In 2018, chronic lower respiratory disease was the third highest cause of death overall for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in NSW, Qld, WA, SA and the NT
In 2018-19, eye and sight problems were reported by 38% of Aboriginal people and 40% of Torres Strait Islander people.
In 2018-19, eye and sight problems were reported by 32% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander males and by 43% of females.
In 2018-19, the most common eye conditions reported by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders were hyperopia (long sightedness: 22%), myopia (short sightedness: 16%), other diseases of the eye and adnexa (8.7%), cataract (1.4%), blindness (0.9%) and glaucoma (0.5%).
In 2014-15, 13% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, aged 4-14 years, were reported to have eye or sight problems.
In 2018, 144 cases of trachoma were detected among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children living in at-risk communities in Qld, WA, SA and the NT
For 2015-17, 62% of hospitalisations for diseases of the eye (8,274) among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people were for disorders of the lens (5,092) (mainly cataracts).
Ear health and hearing
In 2018-19, 14% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people reported having a long-term ear and/or hearing problem
In 2018-19, among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children aged 0-14 years, the prevalence of otitis media (OM) was 6% and of partial or complete deafness was 3.8%.
In 2017-18, the age-adjusted hospitalisation rate for ear conditions for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people was 1 per 1,000 population.
In 2014-15, the proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children aged 4-14 years with reported tooth or gum problems was 34%, a decrease from 39% in 2008.
In 2012-2014, 61% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children aged 5-10 years had experienced tooth decay in their baby teeth, and 36% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children aged 6-14 years had experienced tooth decay in their permanent teeth.
In 2016-17, there were 3,418 potentially preventable hospitalisations for dental conditions for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander The age-standardised rate of hospitalisation was 4.6 per 1,000.
In 2018-19, 27% of Aboriginal and 24% of Torres Strait Islander people reported having a disability or restrictive long-term health
In 2018-19, 2% of Aboriginal and 8.3% of Torres Strait Islander people reported a profound or severe core activity limitation.
In 2016, 7% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with a profound or severe disability reported a need for assistance.
In 2017-18, 9% of disability service users were Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, with most aged under 50 years (82%).
In 2017-18, the primary disability groups accessing services were Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with a psychiatric condition (24%), intellectual disability (23%) and physical disability (20%).
In 2017-18, 2,524 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander National Disability Agreement service users transitioned to the National Disability Insurance Scheme.
In 2017, there were 7,015 notifications for chlamydia for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, accounting for 7% of the notifications in Australia
During 2013-2017, there was a 9% and 9.8% decline in chlamydia notification rates among males and females (respectively).
In 2017, there were 4,119 gonorrhoea notifications for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, accounting for 15% of the notifications in Australia.
In 2017, there were 779 syphilis notifications for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people accounting for 18% of the notifications in Australia.
In 2017, Qld (45%) and the NT (35%) accounted for 80% of the syphilis notifications from all jurisdictions.
In 2018, there were 34 cases of newly diagnosed human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Australia .
In 2017, there were 1,201 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people diagnosed with hepatitis C (HCV) in Australia
In 2017, there were 151 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people diagnosed with hepatitis B (HBV) in Australia
For 2013-2017 there was a 37% decline in the HBV notification rates for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
For 2011-2015, 1,152 (14%) of the 8,316 cases of invasive pneumococcal disease (IPD) were identified as Aboriginal and Torres Strait people .
For 2011-2015, there were 26 deaths attributed to IPD with 11 of the 26 deaths (42%) in the 50 years and over age-group.
For 2011-2015, 101 (10%) of the 966 notified cases of meningococcal disease were identified as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people
For 2006-2015, the incidence rate of meningococcal serogroup B was 8 per 100,000, with the age- specific rate highest in infants less than 12 months of age (33 per 100,000).
In 2015, of the 1,255 notifications of TB in Australia, 27 (2.2%) were identified as Aboriginal and seven (0.6%) as Torres Strait Islander people
For 2011-2015, there were 16 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people diagnosed with invasive Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) in Australia
Between 2007-2010 and 2011-2015 notification rates for Hib decreased by around 67%.
In 2018-19, the proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people reporting a disease of the skin and subcutaneous tissue was 2% (males 2.4% and females 4.0%).
“ This is a great step in reducing the burden of cardiovascular disease in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.”
Our people have greater rates of heart disease and screening from a younger age will contribute to longer healthier lives. NACCHO encourages all Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations to implement these new guidelines in their practices.”
The Chair of the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation, Donnell Mills
The updated recommendations are for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander individuals to receive:
Combined early screening for diabetes, chronic kidney disease and other cardiovascular (CVD) risk factors from the age of 18 years at latest;
Assessment of absolute CVD risk using an Australian CVD risk calculator from the age of 30 years at the latest.
The recommendations were endorsed by the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation, Royal Australian College of General Practitioners, Central Australian Rural Practitioners Association and the Australian Chronic Disease Prevention Alliance, led by the Heart Foundation.
The approach to early screening was developed in partnership with the Australian National University’s Aboriginal Reference Group (Thiitu Tharrmay) and other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders in CVD prevention.
Take home messages
Most heart attacks and strokes can be prevented, and in the last 20 years, the rate of deaths from CVD in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders peoples has almost halved.
High risk of cardiovascular disease begins early among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and is mainly due to diabetes and renal disease. It is recommended that there should be:
Combined early screening for diabetes, chronic kidney disease and cardiovascular disease risk factors from the age of 18 years. This should include assessment of blood glucose level or glycated haemoglobin, estimated glomerular filtration rate, serum lipids, urine albumin to creatinine ratio, and other risk factors such as blood pressure, history of familial hypercholesterolaemia, and smoking status.
Assessment of absolute CVD risk using an Australian CVD risk calculator from the age of 30 years. Outside of Communicare, the best CVD risk calculator to use is auscvdrisk.com.au/risk-calculator/
What you can do: Assessment of CVD risk as part of a health check. The most important part of this check-up is working with your doctor to manage your risk factors to improve your heart health and help you live a healthier, longer life.
” Around 80% of heart attacks and strokes can be prevented with optimal care. Cardiovascular disease (CVD) remains a leading contributor to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mortality despite a 40% decrease in deaths in the past two decades and significant decreases in smoking prevalence.
High risk of CVD begins early among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, mainly in people with diabetes and/or renal disease.
Our program of work, funded by the Australian Government Department of Health, is focused on improving prevention of cardiovascular disease for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples through:
Revision and alignment of clinical practice guidelines ( see part 2 below )
Revision and enhanced Medicare Benefits Schedule items for prevention of chronic disease
To combat high risk of heart attack and strokes, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people should have had their heart checked by a GP by age 18 at the latest, according to new national recommendations.
As part of a regular health check with a GP, the recommendations launched today have moved the age Indigenous people should get screened for Cardiovascular Disease (CVD) down from 35 to 18.
Based on research from The Australian National University (ANU), a host of health professionals and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander CVD experts have agreed on the latest efforts to continue closing the gap on early heart attacks among Indigenous Australians.
“We have seen great improvements in CVD prevention and this was highlighted in this year’s Closing the Gap speech,” said ANU lead researcher, Dr Jason Agostino.
“However, it remains a leading cause of preventable death in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. We need to be doing all we can to prevent it.
“Just about every Aboriginal person I know has a family member or a community member who’s died young from a heart attack or stroke. We need to change that.
“We can improve things by picking up conditions like diabetes and kidney disease early and starting conversations about treatment.”
In the last 20 years, the rate of deaths from heart attacks and strokes among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders peoples have almost halved.
However, three out of four Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults under 35 have at least one CVD risk factor.
Rheumatic Heart Disease Australia’s Senior Cultural Advisor, Vicki Wade, is a 62-year-old cardiac nurse who has heart disease. She said it is important to remind community and health workers about the risks of CVD.
“Although rates have improved, the statistics are frightening. We have generations of Aboriginal people who are not seeing their grandchildren growing up because of heart attack and stroke,” Mrs Wade said.
“This is a chance for local solutions, community engagement and health workers to be educated.”
Fellow author, Heart Foundation Chief Medical Adviser, cardiologist Professor Garry Jennings, said: “Evidence shows that Indigenous Australians have CVD risk factors like diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol at a young age. We need to prevent, identify and treat these.”
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders should now undergo CVD risk factor screening from 18 years, at the latest, and use Australian CVD risk calculators from age 30.
“It’s easy to do. The assessment involves the normal parts of a health check with a blood and urine test. It is quick and can be done by your local GP,” said Dr Agostino.
“For the vast majority it will be bulk-billed and free.”
The move is backed by the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners, the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation, The Australian Chronic Disease Prevention Alliance, and the Editorial Committee for Remote Primary Health Care Manuals.
“This is about getting consistency everywhere. This is what Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders and the evidence is telling us we should do,” Dr Agostino said.
“Many GPs are already screening as early as 15 but some GPs and nurses don’t know about the need to test early.
“This is about doing what we can to pick up risk factors early and close the gap on early heart attacks and strokes.”
RACGP Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Chair, Associate Professor Peter O’Mara welcomed the new recommendations, saying they could make a real difference in improving health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
“We cannot hope to close the gap without making evidence-based changes – these new recommendations are a positive step to improving early detection and treatment of CVD.
“The RACGP has over 40,000 members, including 10,000 members in the faculty of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health. While many GPs know about early screening not all do. These new recommendations will help spread awareness among GPs, improving access to early screening and quality care.”
Under the new recommendations, young adults with type 2 diabetes and microalbuminuria, kidney disease, and very high blood pressure or high cholesterol will be identified as high- risk of CVD.
Want more information and resources?
A team at ANU is developing a toolkit on risk communication in CVD: Healing Heart Communities. Designed as a resource for all clinical staff in primary care, it aims to support conversations about CVD risk.
During development, the team has consulted the Australian National University’s Aboriginal Reference Group (Thiitu Tharrmay) and partnered with We are Saltwater People, an Indigenous-owned graphic design company based in QLD to create original artwork, design and layout.
” A study of intake of six remote Aboriginal communities, based on store turnover, found that intake of energy, fat and sugar was excessive, with fatty meats making the largest contribution to fat intake.
Compared with national data, intake of sweet and carbonated beverages and sugar was much higher in these communities, with the proportion of energy derived from refined sugars approximately four times the recommended intake.
Recent evidence from Mexico indicates that implementing health-related taxes on sugary drinks and on ‘junk’ food can decrease purchase of these foods and drinks.
A recent Australian study predicted that increasing the price of sugary drinks by 20% could reduce consumption by 12.6%.
Revenue raised by such a measure could be directed to an evaluation of effectiveness and in the longer term be used to subsidise and market healthy food choices as well as promotion of physical activity.
It is imperative that all of these interventions to promote healthy eating should have community-ownership and not undermine the cultural importance of family social events, the role of Elders, or traditional preferences for some food.
Food supply in Indigenous communities needs to ensure healthy, good quality foods are available at affordable prices.”
Extract from NACCHO Network Submission to theSelect Committee’s Obesity Epidemic in Australia Inquiry.
Several governments around the world have adopted taxes on sugary drinks in recent years. The evidence is clear: they work.
Last year, a summary of 17 studies found health taxes on sugary drinks implemented in Berkeley and other places in the United States, Mexico, Chile, France and Spain reduced both purchases and consumption of sugary drinks.
Reliable evidence from around the world tells us a 10% tax reduces sugary drink intakes by around 10%.
The United Kingdom soft drink tax has also been making headlines recently. Since its introduction, the amount of sugar in drinks has decreased by almost 30%, and six out of ten leading drink companies have dropped the sugar content of more than 50% of their drinks.
In Australia, modelling studies have shown a 20% health tax on sugary drinks is likely to save almost A$2 billion in healthcare costs over the lifetime of the population by preventing diet-related diseases like diabetes, heart disease and several cancers.
This is over and above the cost benefits of preventing dental health issues linked to consumption of sugary drinks.
Most of the health benefits (nearly 50%) would occur among those living in the lowest socioeconomic circumstances.
Myth 1: Sugary drink taxes unfairly disadvantage the poor
It’s true people on lower incomes would feel the pinch from higher prices on sugary drinks. A 20% tax on sugary drinks in Australia would cost people from low socioeconomic households about A$35 extra per year. But this is just A$4 higher than the cost to the wealthiest households.
Importantly, poorer households are likely to get the biggest health benefits and long-term health care savings.
What’s more, the money raised from the tax could be targeted towards reducing health inequalities.
In Australia, job losses from such a tax are likely to be minimal. The total demand for drinks by Australian manufacturers is unlikely to change substantially because consumers would likely switch from sugary drinks to other product lines, such as bottled water and artificially sweetened drinks.
Despite industry protestations, an Australian tax would have minimal impact on sugar farmers. This is because 80% of our locally grown sugar is exported. Only a small amount of Australian sugar goes to sugary drinks, and the expected 1% drop in demand would be traded elsewhere.
Myth 3: People don’t support health taxes on sugary drinks
There is widespread support for a tax on sugary drinks from major health and consumer groups in Australia.
In addition, a national survey conducted in 2017 showed 77% of Australians supported a tax on sugary drinks, if the proceeds were used to fund obesity prevention.
Myth 4: People will just swap to other unhealthy products, so a tax is useless
Taxes, or levies, can be designed to avoid substitution to unhealthy products by covering a broad range of sugary drink options, including soft drinks, energy drinks and sports drinks.
There is also evidence that shows people switch to water in response to sugary drinks taxes.
Myth 5: There’s no evidence sugary drink taxes reduce obesity or diabetes
Because of the multiple drivers of obesity, it’s difficult to isolate the impact of a single measure. Indeed, we need a comprehensive policy approach to address the problem. That’s why Dr Muecke is calling for a tax on sugary drinks alongside improved food labelling and marketing regulations.
Towards better food policies
The Morrison government has previously and repeatedly rejected pushes for a tax on sugary drinks.
But Australian governments are currently developing a National Obesity Strategy, making it the ideal time to revisit this issue.
We need to stop letting myths get in the way of evidence-backed health policies.
Let’s listen to Dr Muecke – he who knows all too well the devastating effects of products packed full of sugar.
4 November Applications close for the Puggy Hunter Memorial Scholarship Scheme
4 November NACCHO Youth Conference -Darwin NT
5 – 7 November NACCHO Conference and AGM -Darwin NT
8 November Survey Closes : Have your say about what is needed to make real change in the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people #HaveYourSay about #closingthegap
14 December Rural/Remote clinicians required for antenatal ultrasound-needs analysis survey
29 October World Stroke Day
“On World Stroke Day we are urging all the mob to take steps to reduce their stroke risk
Australian National University research, found around one-third to a half of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in their 40s, 50s and 60s were at high risk of future heart attack or stroke. It also found risk increased substantially with age and starts earlier than previously thought, with high levels of risk were occurring in people younger than 35.
The good news is more than 80 percent of strokes can be prevented.
As a first step, I encourage all the mob to visit to visit one of our 302 ACCHO clinics , their local GP or community health centre for a health check, or take advantage of a free digital health check at your local pharmacy to learn more about your stroke risk factors.”
Colin Cowell NACCHO Social Media editor and himself a stroke survivor 4 years ago today
“ The current guidelines recommend that a stroke risk screening be provided for Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people over 35 years of age. However there is an argument to introduce that screening at a younger age.
Education is required to assist all Australians to understand what a stroke is, how to reduce the risk of stroke and the importance be fast acting at the first sign of stroke.”
Dr Mark Wenitong, Public Health Medical Advisor at Apunipima Cape York Health Council (Apunipima), says that strokes can be prevented through a healthy lifestyle and Health screening,
The song, written by Cairns speech pathologist Rukmani Rusch and performed by leading Indigenous artist Naomi Wenitong, was created to boost low levels of stroke awareness in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.
Stroke Foundation Chief Executive Officer Sharon McGowan said the rap packed a punch, delivering an important message, in a fun and accessible way.
“The Stroke Rap has a powerful message we all need to hear,’’ Ms McGowan said.
“Too many Australians continue to lose their lives to stroke each year when most strokes can be prevented.
“Music is a powerful tool for change and we hope that people will listen to the song, remember and act on its stroke awareness and prevention message – it could save their life.”
Ms McGowan said the song’s message was particularly important for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities who were over represented in stroke statistics.
The Australian National Stroke Foundation promotes the FAST tool as a quick way for anyone to identify a possible stroke. FAST consists of the following simple steps:
Face – has their mouth has dropped on one side?
Arm – can they lift both arms?
Speech – Is their speech slurred? Do they understand you?
Time – is critical. Call an ambulance.
But the good news is more than 80 percent of strokes can be prevented.
4 November Applications close for the Puggy Hunter Memorial Scholarship Scheme !
This scholarship provides financial assistance to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who are intending to enrol or are currently enrolled in an eligible health-related course at an Australian educational institution.
Eligible health areas include:
• Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander health workers and practitioners
• Allied health (excluding pharmacy)
• Dentistry/oral health (excluding dental assistants)
• Direct entry midwifery
Examples of eligible study areas.
This scholarship is for entry level or graduate entry level courses only. Funding is not available for postgraduate study. Scholarships are valued up to $15,000 per year for the normal duration of the course. Further information, including eligibility and selection criteria can be found our website.
Applications close Monday 4 November 2019
4 November NACCHO Youth Conference -Darwin NT
Monday 4th November 2019 NACCHO Youth Conference
The central focus of the NACCHO Youth Conference Healthy youth, healthy future is on building resilience.
For thousands of years our Ancestors have shown great resolve thriving on this vast continent. Young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, who make up 54% of our population, now look to the example set by generations past and present to navigate ever-changing and complex social and health issues.
Healthy youth, healthy future provides us with opportunities to explore and discuss issues of importance to us, our families and communities, and to take further steps toward becoming tomorrow’s leaders. We hope to see you there!
Registrations are now closed for the 2019 NACCHO Youth Conference, which will be held November 4th in Darwin at the Darwin Convention Centre.
5 – 7 November NACCHO Conference and AGM -Darwin NT
Tuesday 5th & Wednesday 6th November 2019 Members Conference now closed
7th November 2019 NACCHO AGM
This year, NACCHO’s Members’ Conference focuses on the theme –
Because of them we must: improving health outcomes for our people aged 0-29 years.
We have chosen this focus because we know that investing in the health and wellbeing of our babies, children and young people can help prevent ill health, disease and disability. Strong investment in this age group will help them to thrive, help them build strong and healthy families and communities, and help to positively influence their future health outcomes and life expectancy measures.
Because of them we must provides an opportunity to place our future generations at the forefront of our discussions, to hear about the innovative work that is happening in our community controlled and other sectors, to exchange ideas and share our knowledge.
If you have any questions or would like further information contact Ros Daley and Jen Toohey on 02 6246 9309 or via email email@example.com
Conference Co-Coordinators Ros Daley and Jen Toohey 02 6246 9309
On Thursday 7 November, following the NACCHO National Members Conference, we will hold the 2019 AGM. In addition to the general business, there will be an election for the NACCHO Chair and a vote on a special resolution to adopt a new constitution for NACCHO.
Once again, I thank all those members who sent delegates to the recent national members’ workshop on a new constitution at Sydney in July. It was a great success thanks to your involvement and feedback.
8 November Survey Closes : Have your say about what is needed to make real change in the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people #HaveYourSay about #closingthegap
There is a discussion booklet that has background information on Closing the Gap and sets out what will be talked about in the survey.
The survey will take a little bit of time to complete. It would be great if you can answer all the questions, but you can also just focus on the issues that you care about most.
The Coalition of Peaks are leading face to face meetings with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, communities and organisations on Closing the Gap during the month of October.
The meetings provide an opportunity for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in each state and territory to tell the Coalition of Peaks and governments what changes are needed to improve their lives
October Engagement Meetings:
2 October – Adelaide Closed
15 October – Ceduna Closed
18 October – Port Augusta Cllosed
23 October – Mount Gambier
11 October – Launceston Closed
14 October – Broome Closed
17 October – Geraldton Closed
21 October – Kalgoorlie Closed
23 October – Port Headland Closed
28 October – Perth Closed
30 October – Narrogin Closed
Australian Capital Territory
17 October – Canberra Closed
28 October – Canberra
Victoria15 October – Melbourne Closed
16 October – Bendigo Closed
17 October – Morwell Closed
New South Wales
21 October – Sydney Closed
4 October – Katherine Closed
11 October – Yirrkala Closed
30 October – Darwin
23 and 24 October – Canberra Closed
There were three meetings held across Victoria, details are below.
The NSW Coalition of Aboriginal Peak Organisations (CAPO) of which NSW Aboriginal Land Council is a member, are leading the Closing the Gap engagements across the state.
28 consultations will be taking place during the month of October and early November. The consultations are an opportunity for communities to have their say on Closing the Gap.
The 2019 Closing the Gap consultation will see a new way of doing business, with a focus on community consultations. NSW is embarking on the largest number of membership consultations, more than any other state or territory, with an emphasis on hearing your views about what is needed to make the lives of Aboriginal people better.
Your voices will formulate the NSW submission to the new National Agreement. By talking to Aboriginal people, communities and organisations, CAPO can form a consensus on priority areas from NSW when finalising the new National Agreement on Closing the Gap with governments.
The discussion booklet: ‘A new way of doing business’ provides background information on Closing the Gap and sets out what will be discussed at the consultations.
The consultations are being supported by the NSW Government.
Come along and join in the conversation. The dates and locations are:
Broken Hill Tuesday 29th Oct
Wilcannia Wednesday 30th Oct
Menindee Thursday 31st Oct
Dareton Friday 1st Nov
Lismore Monday 28th Oct
Coffs Harbour Tuesday 29th Oct
Kempsey Wednesday 30th Oct
Redfern Monday 4th Nov
Mount Druitt Tuesday 5th Nov
Bathurst Thursday 7th Nov
Moree Tuesday 5th Nov
Walgett Wednesday 6th Nov
To register your attendance at Routes 1 and 2, please do so via Eventbrite:
14 December Rural/Remote clinicians required for antenatal ultrasound-needs analysis survey closes
The University of South Australia‘s (UniSA) Healthy Newborn Project is calling for Healthcareclinicians (GP’s/midwives/nurses/community workers) providing antenatal care (with or withoutultrasound) to participate in a survey investigating the use of antenatal ultrasound in rural/remote Australian communities.
A $1000 prize/scholarship random draw is offered.
Data collected will provide evidence to inform governments of potential solutions and future requirements needed to improve maternal and fetal wellbeing. Feedback from frontline healthcare professionals is vital to this process.