NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Eye treatment could reduce vision loss

Image in the feature tile is from the Brian Holden Vision Institute (BHVI) website.

Eye treatment could reduce vision loss

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people experience three times more vision loss than non-Indigenous people, creating a concerning gap for vision. Associate Professor Hessom Razavi from The University of WA explains that much of this is due to diabetic macular oedema (DMO).  Macular oedema blurs the central vision, diminishing the ability to recognise people’s faces, to drive and work, and perform other essential tasks. DMO affects around 23,000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Australia with most of them of working age.

The good news is DMO is treatable, with medications known as anti-VEGF agents. A world-first clinical trail has been undertaken to test longer-acting DMO treatment for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people patients find it impractical, for complex and varied reasons, to attend 10–12 appointments a year. There is, therefore, a need for an alternative. Longer-acting medications do exist. One example is a dexamethasone implant, a steroid injected into the eye which only needs to be dosed every three months.

You can view the Longer-acting eye treatment could reduce vision loss for Indigenous Australians article in full here and a short video from The Fred Hollows Foundation website explaining the prevalence of eye problems among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Help stop the flu in 2022

Annual vaccination is the most important measure to prevent influenza and its complications. Influenza is a highly contagious viral infection that can cause widespread illness and deaths every year. This year, it’s even more important to get the influenza vaccine as we are more vulnerable to influenza. This is due to lower recent exposure to the virus and lower uptake of influenza vaccines in 2021. With international borders reopening, it’s likely we will see more influenza in 2022.

Who should get an influenza vaccine – vaccination experts recommend influenza vaccination for all people aged 6 months and over. Under the National Immunisation Program, free influenza vaccines are provided to the following groups who are at higher risk of complications from influenza:

  • children aged 6 months to less than 5 years
  • all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 6 months and over
  • people aged 6 months and over with certain medical conditions that increase their chance of severe influenza and its complications
  • pregnant women (at any stage during pregnancy)
  • people aged 65 years and over.

Influenza vaccines are available NOW – FREE influenza vaccines under the National Immunisation Program became available this month and can be administered by GPs, community health clinics, and eligible pharmacies. To locate a service in your area you can search the National Health Services Directory. Book your appointment to get vaccinated to ensure you have the best protection at the peak of the season (usually June to September). However, it’s never too late to get  vaccinated as influenza can spread all year round.

For further information you can access the Department of Health’s Help stop the flu in 2022 website page here.

Telehealth’s role in modern health care

In recent years teleconsultations have played a growing role in the delivery of healthcare and support services across Australia. Far from a stop-gap measure, these services are set to become one of the standout legacies from the global pandemic. The government has announced it will invest AU$100 million towards making telehealth a permanent option in the healthcare system. This comes on the back of consistent research indicating confidence in the method and a lasting appetite for its convenience. A recent white paper by Deloitte, Curtin University and the Consumers Health Forum of Australia found that seven in 10 Australians are willing and ready to use virtual health services.

The research also found that geographical disparity is one of the biggest causes of inconsistent patient outcomes across the country. With the availability of videoconferencing services, people no longer need to leave their homes to receive care, and providers can ensure those in inaccessible areas aren’t left behind. We saw an example of this in the remote aboriginal community of Tjuntjuntjara in WA, which, during March 2020 and January 2021, faced a shortage of healthcare professionals due to a state border closure with SA. Following the introduction of telehealth services, the 160 residents had reliable access to virtual care for chronic conditions and mental health issues.

To view the Hospital and Healthcare article The role of telehealth in modern health care click here.

welcome to Tjuntjuntjara hand painted sign beside outback red sand road

Image source: ExporOZ.

New COVID-19 oral treatment on PBS

From Sunday 1 May 2022 the second, prescription-only, COVID-19 oral treatment will be available on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) for Australians at high risk of developing severe COVID-19.

Paxlovid® (nirmatrelvir + ritonavir) is an oral anti-viral medicine which can be used by patients with mild to moderate COVID-19 who are at high risk of developing severe disease. This medicine will help reduce the need for hospital admission.

Adults who have mild to moderate COVID-19 – which is confirmed by a PCR or a Rapid Antigen Test and verified by the prescribing doctor or nurse practitioner – and who can start treatment within five days of symptom onset, can be prescribed the oral anti-viral medicines if:

  • they are 65 years of age or older, with two other risk factors for severe disease (as increasing age is a risk factor, patients who are 75 years of age of older only need to have one other risk factor)
  • they are of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander origin, and are 50 years of age or older with two other risk factors for severe disease, or
  • they are moderately to severely immunocompromised.

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

Image source: ABC News.

AIHW releases mental health papers.

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) have released two important publications:

Employment and Indigenous mental health

  • this paper provides an overview of policies and programs that address Indigenous employment and mental health and evaluates the evidence that labour force outcomes can improve Indigenous mental health.

Indigenous self-governance for mental health and suicide prevention

  • this article provides a synthesis of the information about Indigenous self-governance in relation to mental health and suicide prevention. It explores the ways in which Indigenous organisations embody and enable processes, structures, institutions, and control associated with self-governance and how these contribute to Indigenous wellbeing and suicide prevention.

You can view the Employment and Indigenous mental health paper in full here and the Indigenous self-governance for mental health and suicide prevention article here.

Aged and dementia care scholarships 

Aged Care Nursing and Allied Health Dementia Care Scholarships.  Applications for studies in 2022 are open until 5 May 2022 to nurses, personal care workers and allied health professionals.

The  Department of Health’s Ageing and Aged Care Sector Newsletter article Aged Care Nursing and Allied Health Dementia Care Scholarships available here includes comments from Chief Nursing and Midwifery Officer Adjunct Professor Alison McMillian, Chief Allied Health Officer Dr Anne-marie Boxall, and previous scholarship recipients.

Additional information about the scholarships is available on the Australian College of Nursing website here.

Kurranulla’s Aboriginal aged care and disability worker Larissa McEwen with her client, Aunty Loyla Lotaniu. Photo: John Veage. Image source: St George & Sutherland Shire Leader.

$25m to fix ‘dehumanising’ Banksia Hill conditions

The Banskia Hill juvenile detention centre will receive a $25.1 million upgrade after it was slammed by a Perth Children’s Court judge as a “dehumanising” space. The money will go towards a $7.5 million crisis care unit, improvement to the centre’s intensive supervision unit, in-cell media streaming for education and therapeutic purposes, and a new Aboriginal services unit.

While sentencing a 15-year old boy for a range of offences, in February, Perth Children’s Court President Judge Hylton Quail said “if you wanted to make a monster, this is the way to do it”.

To view the ABC News article Banksia Hill juvenile detention centre gets $25 million to address ‘dehumanising’ conditions, cut incarceration rates in full click here.

parents of children inside Banksia Hill Juvenile Detention Centre protesting

Parents of children inside Banksia Hill have recently spoken out about conditions inside the centre and are considering a class action. Photo supplied by Megan Krakouer. Image source: ABC News.

In a related story Condobolin Health Worker Ellen Doolan says while people have got to feel safe in their own homes, sending more Indigenous kids into juvenile detention is not the solution. Elderly Aboriginal people in Condobolin are just as frightened as elderly whites, she says. Many of the kids ­involved have grown up in ­“extremely tough circumstances” and are being raised by elderly grandmothers. “We’ve already got the highest rate of incarceration of any people in this country and so a lot of the fathers are in jail and now a lot of the mothers are too,” ­Doolan says. To view Ellen Doolan speaking click here.

Condobolin AHW Ellen Doolan

Condobolin health worker Ellen Doolan. Image source: The Australian.

New process for job advertising

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

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

Primary Care COVID-19 update

The latest in a series of webinars to update primary care on the COVID-19 response and the vaccine rollout will be held from 3:30 PM–4:00 PM (AEDT) Thursday 21 April 2022.

Joining Professor Michael Kidd AM, Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Department of Health on the panel this week will be Australian Government Department of Health Dr Lucas de Toca, First Assistant Secretary, COVID-19 Primary Care Response, Department of Health.

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

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: First Nations self-governance aids mental health

feature tile text 'ATSI self-governance linked to improved mental health and suicide prevention outcomes'

The artwork The journey towards healing by Linda Huddleston (Nungingi) in the feature tile is from the cover of the AIHW paper Indigenous self-governance for mental health and suicide prevention.

First Nations self-governance aids mental health

The Australian Government Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) has published an 80 page paper Indigenous self-governance for mental health and suicide prevention. The paper provides a synthesis of the information about Indigenous self-governance in relation to mental health and suicide prevention and explores the ways in which Indigenous organisations embody and enable processes, structures, institutions, and control associated with self-governance and how these contribute to Indigenous wellbeing and suicide prevention.

To view the paper in full click here.

Artwork: Camilla Perkins for Mosaic.

NACCHO CEO to deliver keynote address

NACCHO CEO and Lead Convenor of the Coalition of Peaks, Pat Turner AM will be delivering a keynote address at leading law firm, King & Wood Mallesons’ refreshed strategy for Community Impact event this Friday 8 April at 12.30pm AEDT.

Standing Strong & Tall Together is King & Wood Mallesons’ new five-year strategy focused on transformational partnerships and systems change to create sustained generational change.

The event will be live-streamed via a free webinar that you can register for here.

NACCHO CEO and Lead Convenor of the Coalition of Peaks, Pat Turner AM.

First Indigenous sleep coaches in Australia

Two First Nations people from Mount Isa have completed their certification to become Australia’s first Indigenous sleep coaches. Karen Chong and Jamie Dunne are working as project officers for Lets Yarn About Sleep program to promote sleep health in First Nations communities. The Lets Yarn About Sleep program was rolled out in Mount Isa in 2020 led by Dr Yagoot Fatima (Senior Research Fellow, Institute for Social Science Research, The University of Queensland) and is funded by a Medical Research Future Fund-Indigenous Health Grant.

Dr Yaqoot said sleep and health are closely linked and problems with the quality, timing and amount of sleep affects physical and mental health. “There is strong evidence confirming the protective role of sleep in reducing the risk and severity of poor health outcomes,” Dr Yaqoot said. “Yet, for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adolescents, who experience a disproportionately high rate of health issues, the potential of sleep in improving health and wellbeing outcomes remains untapped”.

To view the Mount Isa has Australia’s first two Indigenous sleep coaches article in the North West Star in full click here.

Dr Dwayne Mann (Postdoctoral Research Fellow), Roslyn Von Senden (Cultural Mentor), Karen Chong (Sleep Coach) and Jamie Dunne (Sleep Coach)

Dr Dwayne Mann (Postdoctoral Research Fellow), Roslyn Von Senden (Cultural Mentor), Karen Chong (Sleep Coach) and Jamie Dunne (Sleep Coach). Image source: The North West Star.

First Nations students role models for mob

Birri Gubba woman Melissa Ann Fisher knew as a teenager she wanted to be a nurse, but it was not that simple. Her activist mother wanted Ms Fisher to attend university rather than learn a trade, which is what nursing was considered in those days, and refused to sign the application papers — a decision she later regretted. After a career doing other jobs and raising five kids, Ms Fisher decided it was her turn. “I just had this stock moment when I was actually quite pregnant with my last child, and said, ‘I’m gonna study nursing’,” she said. “I don’t care about my age … I’m doing it.” That was in 2015.

Some eight years later, Ms Fisher has just graduated from Charles Darwin University (CDU). Another seminal moment occurred when Ms Fisher, a diabetic, was sitting in a clinic as a patient. “I sat there in a couple of different appointments and thought, ‘I could do this so much better’,” she said. “I want to make a difference in Indigenous health in diabetes.” Ms Fisher is now studying for a masters and wants to become a nurse practitioner, which meant she expected to be studying for another six years.

CDU Deputy Vice-Chancellor of First Nations Leadership Professor Reuben Bolt said it was important to acknowledge and celebrate the hard work of students. “Our First Nations students are role models for their communities and other students wanting to enter higher education, and are an important part of the university’s identity,” he said.

To view the Melissa among First Nations graduates changing their own lives to make a difference for others article in full click here.

CDU nursing grad Melissa Ann Fisher sitting on tree trunk by stream in tropics

Charles Darwin University nursing graduate Melissa Ann Fisher. Photo: Conor Byrne, ABC Radio Darwin. Image source: ABC News website.

Continuing on the theme of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander tertiary students, an article in the Shepparton News looks at 12 First Nations students who graduated last week from rural health courses under the Department of Rural Health at the University of Melbourne. Taking in graduates from 2020 and 2021, the event saw seven students graduate from a specialist Certificate in Empowering Health in Aboriginal Communities, one of which also completed a Graduate Certificate in Aboriginal Health in Rural Communities, one graduate from a Master of Public Health and four from the PhD program.

Professor Marcia Langton associate provost is one of the driving forces behind the creation of the courses. “It’s a dream come true for them and it’s a dream come true for me too,” she said. “It’s primarily a credit to the students themselves, some of them have really forged a pathway to create an indigenous health workforce that’s highly qualified and as good as any health workforce in the country.”

University of Melbourne Department of Rural Health director Lisa Bourke said the aim of the courses was for students to be able to study, live work and study on Country without having to go to the city.

To view the Shepparton welcomes graduates of rural health course article in full click here.

Professor Julian Wright, Andreia Marques, Dr Shanawa Andrews, Gwenda Freeman, Helen Everist, Dr Karen Ferguson, professors Marcia Langton, Lisa Bourke, Doug Boyle and John Prins; (front) Dr Raylene Nixon, Chanoa Cooper, Leah Lindrea-Morrison, Tracey Hearn and Dr Sharon Atkinson-Briggs

From back left: Professor Julian Wright, Andreia Marques, Dr Shanawa Andrews, Gwenda Freeman, Helen Everist, Dr Karen Ferguson, professors Marcia Langton, Lisa Bourke, Doug Boyle and John Prins; (front) Dr Raylene Nixon, Chanoa Cooper, Leah Lindrea-Morrison, Tracey Hearn and Dr Sharon Atkinson-Briggs. Image source: Shepparton News.

Mental health experts to guide research

The federal government has appointed mental health experts to the Million Minds Mental Health Research Mission (MMMHRM), who will guide research into mental health, including looking at prevention, diagnosis and treatment. Almost one in four Australians experience some form of mental ill health in any given year, while almost one in two Australians will experience mental ill health in their lifetime. Mental illness significantly increases the risk of suicide, the leading cause of death of people aged 15–44.

Research is essential to improve our understanding of what causes and contributes to mental illness. It can also lead to better prevention, diagnosis and improved treatment options. The new expert panel will provide advice on priorities for future research investment through the Mission by reviewing the existing Roadmap and developing an Implementation Plan.

Minister for Health and Aged Care, Greg Hunt, said we need ongoing research into mental health so we can reduce the impact on individuals, families and communities. “This research will ultimately improve the mental health and wellbeing of Australians, particularly Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, children and young people; and broaden our understanding of eating disorders and suicide prevention,” Minister Hunt said.

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

Image source: DoH website.

Anger over age of criminal responsibility

An Aboriginal-led coalition of legal and health experts has accused the Queensland government and opposition of “kicking the can down the road” while children are locked behind bars, after both refused to back calls to raise the age of criminal responsibility. In Queensland, as in all other Australian states and territories, children as young as 10 can be held in watchhouses and hauled before courts to face criminal charges.

Earlier this week, the Raise the Age coalition published an open letter to premier Annastacia Palaszczuk expressing deep concern that their expertise “appears to have been ignored” by a parliamentary committee that rejected calls to raise the minimum age of criminal responsibility to 14 in the state. The letter was signed by more than 20 health, legal, youth and child developmental organisations whose experts made submissions to that inquiry.

“We unanimously advised the Committee to raise the age of criminal responsibility to at least 14 years old,” the letter read. “This is consistent with the overwhelming medical evidence, unanimous support from more than 300 written submissions to the inquiry, and the views of the majority of witnesses who provided evidence at the inquiry’s public hearing.”

To read The Guardian Aboriginal-led coalition angered over Queensland’s failure to raise age of criminal responsibility article in full click here.

dark skinned hands gripping green jail bars

Photo: luoman, Getty Images. Image source: The Guardian.

$5m to support First Nations maternal health

Charles Darwin University’s (CDU) Molly Wardaguga Research Centre has welcomed $5 million in this year’s budget for the Birthing On Country project to support First Nations mothers and their babies in remote communities for the next five years. Funding from the federal government allocated to the improving the Health and Wellbeing of Indigenous Mothers and Babies will raise the safety of birthing on country and integrating cultural sensitivities as women move into motherhood.

CDU Professor of Indigenous Health Yvette Roe, a proud Njikena Jawuru woman, and Professor of Midwifery Sue Kildea, Co-Directors of the Molly Wardaguga Research Centre said the project builds upon 25 years of health services research. “This gives us an opportunity to provide a strong research framework to enable First Nations communities to reclaim their birthing services to ensure the best start to life for mothers and babies,” Professor Kildea said. “We are very excited to be able to test the translation of research evidence that shows extraordinary benefits for First Nations mums, babies and communities into rural (Nowra, NSW), remote (Alice Springs, NT) and very remote (Galiwin’ku, NT) settings.”

To view the Molly Wardaguga Research Centre secures $5 million to support First Nations maternal health article in The National Tribune in full click here.

CDU Professors Yvette Roe & Sue Kildea

Charles Darwin University (CDU) Professors Yvette Roe (left) and Sue Kildea head the Birthing on Country program, which integrates culturally appropriate care with health outcomes to help First Nations women in birthing.

New process for job advertising

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

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

Primary Care COVID-19 update

The latest in a series of webinars to update primary care on the COVID-19 response and the vaccine rollout will be held from 11:30 AM–12:00PM (AEDT) Thursday 7 April 2022.

Joining Professor Michael Kidd AM, Deputy Chief Medical Office, Australian Government Department of Health (DoH) this week will be DoH Dr Lucas de Toca, First Assistant Secretary, COVID-19 Primary Care Response.

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

banner DoH Primary Care COVID-19 update Dep CMO - image of DCMO & COVID-19 virus cell

COVID-19 Treatments Forum

A special COVID-19 treatments forum co-hosted by the Australian Government Department of Health and the National Health and Medical Research Council is being held from 5–7:00PM (AEST) tomorrow, Thursday 7 April 2022. The forum will provide information and the opportunity to discuss approaches to COVID-19 treatment strategies by government officials, regulators, research scientists and clinicians.

The forum will feature:

  • scientific and clinical information about COVID-19 treatments;
  • details on the appropriate use of available COVID-19 treatments based on current evidence;
  • discussion on the continuing transition to community-based healthcare for people with COVID-19;
  • discussion on key COVID-19 treatment issues faced by primary care providers and their patients including access through the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS);
  • discussion on how the Commonwealth and States and Territories are facilitating equitable access to treatments through the PBS and the National Medical Stockpile (NMS) to eligible patients.

For further information about the forum, including the agenda click here. The forum can be watched live via the livestream or at a later time at your leisure. You can access the webinar link here.

green gloved hand holding lab tray, vial in background

Image source: The Pharmaceutical Journal.

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: First national crisis support line for mob

First national crisis support line for mob

13YARN is an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander crisis support line funded by the Australian Government with the support of Lifeline and developed in collaboration with Gayaa Dhuwi (Proud Spirit) Australia. It is run by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. 13YARN has been co-designed using Lifeline expertise with several Aboriginal mental health professionals including NACCHO, Black Dog Institute Aboriginal Lived Experience team and the Centre of Best Practice along with input from Torres Strait Islander, remote, regional, and urban peoples with lived experience.

This initiative works to explore options for ongoing support and community members will always be reassured they will be connected to another Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander person who will understand where they are coming from and value knowing HOW to listen, without judgement or shame.

If you, or someone you know, are feeling worried or no good, we encourage you to connect with 13YARN on 13 92 76 (24 hours/7 days) and talk with an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander Crisis Supporter. This is your story; your journey and we will take the time to listen. No shame, no judgement, safe place to yarn. We’re here for you.

For more information visit the 13YARN website here. You can also listen to 13YARN National Program Manager Aunty Marjorie Anderson talking about 13YARN on the ABC Radio program Sunday Extra with Julian Morrow here and read Minister Greg Hunt and Minister David Coleman’s joint media release about 13YARN here.

First image: Gayaa Dhuwi (Proud Spirit) Australia Twitter post 30 March 2022. Second image: 13YAR National Program Manager Aunty Marjorie Anderson, Nikita Ridgeway and Jia Natty. SBS NITV.

2022 Budget ‘an opportunity lost’

NACCHO is calling for a substantial review of funding for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health. The call comes following the handing down of the Federal Budget last week which the NACCHO has described as business as usual. NACCHO says they are tiring of singular announcements and that while there have been some welcome announcements, the core funding for First Nations health services remains the same. NACCHO Chair Donnella Mills says single announcements interrupts the quality of care.

CEO Pat Turner says this budget is an opportunity lost. She says as long as this $4.4 billion funding gap remains and as long as there are funding gaps elsewhere – in particular, in housing – we cannot expect the unconscionable health gap to close.

You can listen to NACCHO’ Chair Donnella Mills speaking on the National Indigenous Radio Service with journalist Adam Evans here.

 

Hope for community rocked by youth suicide

When Aunty Joyce Cooper leads a child through their first smoking ceremony, she knows something is changing. Her body painted in the red and brown ochre of Yorta Yorta country, she guides them through the smoke, letting it wash over them. In First Nations culture, it is believed smoke has healing properties, and can ward off bad spirits. It can also be a form of communication, a cry for help in crisis.

And while she may not hear it audibly, Aunty Joyce knows many of these young people are crying out. Hers is a community rocked by a deep grief, an overwhelming sense of loss – of culture, of community. And now, of its young people. “Sometimes I worry who’s going to be next,” she said. “It’s a ripple effect. Because no-one is listening to our young people. No-one is listening to their stories.”

When it comes to Indigenous youth suicide, Greater Shepparton is an area of high concern. In the past year alone, several young people have taken their own lives and there are concerns if nothing changes, a suicide cluster could form. In January this year, national Indigenous postvention group Thirrili was called in to provide urgent crisis support to the grieving community.

Talking to families, Thirrili CEO Annette Vickery said several devastating themes emerged – systemic racism and bullying, and a widespread loss of culture. “Bullying is a significant issue in Shepparton, including at school and on social media,” Ms Vickery said.

To read the ABC News article in full click here.

Aunty Joyce leads young women in a smoking ceremony. Photo: Rod Briggs. Image source: ABC News website.

Half of Australia’s youth detainees First Nations

Almost half of all young people in detention in Australia are Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, even though the overall number of children going to jail has fallen in the past five years, research shows. Young Indigenous people are only 5.8% of all young people aged 10–17 in Australia but make up 49% of all young people in detention, according to the latest data released by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).

Indigenous children were younger when they entered the criminal justice system than their non‑Indigenous counterparts, and more likely to be from remote and lower socio-economic areas. Young people from very remote areas were six times as likely to be in detention as those from major cities. Young people spent an average of six months in detention. The majority of all young people in detention were unsentenced or awaiting trial, the AIHW found. More than a third (37%) of Indigenous young people were first in contact with the criminal justice system when aged 10 to 13, compared with just 14% of non‑Indigenous youth.

Cheryl Axleby, the co-chair of Change the Record, an Indigenous-led coalition of welfare and legal groups, said she was appalled by the latest report. “This paints a really clear picture of exactly how our criminal legal system is working – it’s targeting poor kids and black kids,” Axleby said. “On top of that, First Nations kids are more likely to be targeted and dragged into the criminal legal system when they are extremely young. It is outrageous that Aboriginal children in primary school are being arrested by police.”

To view the Guardian’s article in full click here.

razor wire rolls at top of chain wire fence

Photo: Jonny Weeks, The Guardian.

Mornington Island deaths due to poor services

There are too many dead bodies on Mornington Island. At least 16 people have died within three months due to a “health pandemic” in the predominantly Indigenous Queensland Gulf community, leaders say. The spike in recent deaths has been attributed to poor healthcare; specifically, a lack of access to renal dialysis on the island, where many residents suffer from chronic kidney disease.

“Our morgue and emergency facilities are full. Sixteen deaths before April is ridiculous,” Mornington Shire Mayor Kyle Yanner said. In 2019, millions of dollars were allocated to install dialysis chairs in several vulnerable communities around NW Queensland, all of which were scheduled to be operating in mid-2021. 600kms south of Mornington Island, in Cloncurry, two chairs were installed, but are not yet working. Of the four chairs allocated to the remote Indigenous community of Doomadgee, two are working. Mornington Island was allocated six dialysis chairs. Only one chair is available.

Mornington Shire Councillor David Barnes said the situation was creating stress on patients and their families. “This means sick patients are having to travel to the mainland to receive treatment and, unfortunately, some are passing away off the island, leaving their grieving families to organise repatriation home for burial,” Mr Barnes said. He’s one of several community leaders calling on Queensland Health and the region’s North West Hospital Health Service (NWHHS) to make available the island’s five other renal chairs.

To view the ABC News story in full click here.

Kyle Yanner below has been calling for an audit of government health services. Photo: Leonie Mellor, ABC News. Image source: ABC News website.

Bigiwun Kid Project – prenatal alcohol exposure

The Lililwan Project was the first Australian population-based prevalence study of fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) using active case ascertainment. Conducted in 2010–2011, the study included 95% of all eligible children aged 7–9 years living in the very remote Aboriginal communities of the Fitzroy Valley, WA. Women from Marninwarntikura Women’s Resource Centre, a local Aboriginal-led organisation, are concerned that some participants from the study are struggling in adolescence so partnered with researchers from the University of Sydney to follow up the Lililwan cohort in 2020–2022 at age 17–19 years.

The overarching aim of the Bigiswun Kid Project is to identify adolescents’ needs and build knowledge to inform services to improve the health and well-being of adolescents in remote Aboriginal communities.

You can access further information about Bigiswun Kid Project in the BMJ Open BMJ Journals here. You can also listen to Emily Carter, CEO Marninwarntikura Women’s Resource Centre and Sue Thomas, Strategic Priority Lead Marninwarntikura Women’s Resource Centre speak with Patricia Karvelas on RN Drive about the project here.

Members of the Marulu team. Image source: Australian Government Office of the Registrar of Indigenous Corporations.

Mob have increased risk of concussion

The diagnosis and management of concussion, or mild traumatic brain injury (TBI), has seen increased attention in recent years as an area requiring greater identification and action. Despite typical lay associations as an injury sustained during contact sport, this activity only makes up about 20% of concussion diagnoses, with the majority of concussion cases resulting from falls, motor vehicle and bicycle crashes, assaults (including domestic violence), and other physical activities. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are 1.7 times more likely to sustain a TBI than the general population.

There is a lack of comprehensive epidemiological data relating to TBI in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Available data relating to concussion have historically been collected from hospitalisations. These data fail to capture Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples who fail to present to hospital after a potential concussion episode; those who present to ACCHOs, general practice, and nurse‐led primary health care centres; those who present to hospital but their symptoms and signs are overlooked, and those who present to hospital but fail to undergo assessment due to prolonged waiting times or as a result of a lack of cultural competence at first point of contact.

To read the Concussion in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples: what is the true epidemiology? article in The Medical Journal of Australia in full click here.

Image source: The Medical Journal of Australia.

New process for job advertising

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

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

International Conference on Human Retrovirology

The 2022 International Virtual Conference on Human Retrovirology: HTLV and Related Viruses will take place from Sunday 8 ­May – Wednesday 11 May 2022. The aim is to focus on Oceania and especially Australia for the first time in the history of this conference. In 2022 the aim is to emphasise the need to increase HTLV-1 public health and social science research output in the global response to HTLV-1. The HTLV 2022 conference is hosted virtually by Melbourne, Australia on behalf of IRVA, The International Retrovirology Association and will be in Australian Eastern Standard Time.

You can access further information about the conference , including registration details on the HTLV22 website here. The registration deadline for the conference is Sunday 24 April 2022.

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Indigenous data sovereignty tool released

Indigenous data sovereignty tool released

The Lowitja Institute today launched the Indigenous Data Sovereignty Readiness Assessment and Evaluation Toolkit for researchers, governments, and communities, to strengthen community control use and protection of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander data and information.

Lowitja Institute CEO, Adjunct Professor Janine Mohamed, said the toolkit will play a critical role in efforts to close the gap in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health outcomes.

Dr Kalinda Griffiths of the Centre for Big Data Research in Health at UNSW who led development of the toolkit said “Data is power. There has always been a push for non-Indigenous people to decide what is done with data relating to Indigenous communities and peoples, and in how data is measured. But this needs to change.”

“Data governance plays a huge role, as well as data capacity building within the community. Once there is improved Indigenous data governance and ownership, we will likely see more timely and accurate data, which can be vital in circumstances like what we now face with COVID-19. These are complex problems and there’s no easy fix. But the needle is beginning to move,” Dr Griffiths said.

“We have a fundamental right to control our data, develop our data, use our data, maintain our data and protect our data if we are to close the gap in health outcomes for our peoples.’

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

Image source: Research Professional News.

New national suicide prevention approach

$46.7 million has been allocated in the 2022-23 Budget to strengthen suicide prevention at the local level. For the first time, every region in Australia will have a local leader focused on suicide prevention, ensuring early intervention and suicide prevention activities are better coordinated and right for the local area. Suicide Prevention Response Leaders will work within their community to bring together service providers, local councils, emergency services, schools and community groups. They will also have funding to back local approaches and services to reduce suicide.

As part of the Plan, the Government is also investing more than $96 million into mental health and suicide prevention measures for Indigenous Australians whose suicide rate is more than double that of non-Indigenous Australians. This includes funding to establish regional suicide prevention networks in each jurisdiction, implement culturally sensitive, co-designed aftercare services with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations being the preferred service providers, and to create a culturally appropriate 24/7 crisis line that is governed and delivered by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

To view the media release in full click here.

Isolation not a privilege available to all

The Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Service (KAMS) says it is reaching its limit as it battles rising COVID-19 case numbers and overcrowded housing in remote communities across the region. The organisation has also accused the WA government of being “fixated” on vaccination rates while being unprepared to provide “basic primary health care needs” when people do become infected.

KAMS CEO Vicki O’Donnell says access to food, welfare, accommodation and mental health services have been raised as “constant concerns” over the past two years. Ms O’Donnell said KAMS had struggled “every day, every hour and every minute” to maintain services as case numbers grow. “The Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services have managed COVID-19, in our respective regions, and will continue to, but we are reaching our limit…and we are doing this at our own expense,” she said.

Ms O’Donnell said overcrowded accommodation was a “major concern and logistical issue” in providing safe and practical isolation accommodation in remote communities. “The ability to isolate is a privilege and for our people in this state, we need support to facilitate this,” she said.

To view the ABC News article in full click here.

Photo: Jacqui Lynch, ABC Kimberley. Image source: ABC News.

RACGP disappointment over 10 Year Plan 

The RACGP has issued a warning that measures announced in the Federal Budget do not address the realities of the COVID-19 pandemic and future challenges of a fatigued health system. Of chief concern to the college is a failure to implement major components of the Primary Health Care 10 Year Plan, much of which remains unfunded.

Responding to the Budget, RACGP President Dr Karen Price said “Reform without proper investment is not worth the paper it’s written on.” The lack of focus on funding and implementing the 10-year plan will result in continuing gaps in aged care, mental health, disability, and chronic and complex care.

“There is also a disappointing lack of new investment in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander healthcare,” Dr Price said. “If we are serious about Closing the Gap, then surely giving greater assistance to general practices, Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services and other health services to improve health outcomes must be a priority.”

To view the newsGP article in full click here.

Eating disorders funding welcomed

More than one million Australians are living with an eating disorder, which has one of the highest mortality rates of any mental illness. And yet less than a quarter of those receive treatment or support.

Anyone can experience an eating disorder, with research showing that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people experience eating disorders and body image issues at similar rates to other people in Australia. Discrimination or exposure to traumatic life situations can increase a person’s risk for this illness. Research is needed to understand any cultural or other differences in the types of eating disorders that might be experienced and to develop a culturally-specific diagnostic tool that will help recognise when an eating disorder or body image issue might be a factor for someone.

Butterfly CEO, Kevin Barrow, said the Budget announcement of $23.4 million for  would help to support those with an eating disorder or body image issues, providing better access to critical treatment services, and investing in preventing eating disorders from developing.

To view the Butterfly media release click here, access the Butterfly Foundation website here including their webpage Culturally safe support drastically needed for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people experiencing eating disorders with Garra’s Story below.

Remote mob’s vitamin D deficiency risk

A new Curtin University study has found 95% per cent of Australians have low vitamin D intakes. Lead researcher dietitian and PhD student Eleanor Dunlop, from the Curtin School of Population Health, said the study suggests that Australians need data-driven nutrition policy to safely increase their intakes of vitamin D.

“Vitamin D deficiency increases the risk of poor bone health. Since nearly one in four adults are vitamin D deficient in Australia, carefully considered food-based strategies may safely increase intakes of vitamin D and improve vitamin D status in the Australian population.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in remote areas are particularly at risk of vitamin D deficiency, as well as people born outside of Australia or the main English-speaking countries. People residing in southern states of Australia, and people who are obese or have low physical activity levels, are also at greater risk of vitamin D deficiency.

To view the Curtin University article in full click here.

Image source: Irish Cancer Society website.

Healthy Feet Project

Diabetes and diabetes related foot disease are disproportionately prevalent in the Aboriginal population. In NSW, Aboriginal people experience almost a four-fold amputation rate due to diabetes-related foot disease when compared to non-Aboriginal people. A 2016 literature review recommended an increase in the NSW Aboriginal workforce in foot care and podiatry to provide culturally safe and community focused care for Aboriginal people with diabetes related foot disease.

The NSW Ministry of Health, along with partners, developed the Healthy Deadly Feet (HDF) Project. In line with improving access to High Risk Foot Services in NSW this project aims to increase the Aboriginal workforce in foot care and podiatry and improve diabetes related foot disease outcomes for Aboriginal people in NSW.

The project team will work with podiatrists, Aboriginal Health Workers and Practitioners and Aboriginal/non-Aboriginal allied health assistants in participating local health districts and special health networks in NSW. By increasing the health workforce in NSW, the project aims to see improved access and awareness of culturally safe foot care services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people leading to an increase in screening and early interventions in NSW.

For further information about the HFP click here.

Cover of NSW Government HDF publication. Artist: Wiradjuri woman Trudy Sloane.

New process for job advertising

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: 2022–2023 budget short-changes health

2022-2023 budget short-changes health

NACCHO released a media statement earlier today in response to the 2022–2023 Federal Budget announced last night:

Another big-spending budget short-changes Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health

The National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) has already welcomed the previously announced four-year rolling funding agreement for the sector, but this is just a necessary adjustment to support the current arrangements. ‘Business as usual’ is not going to close the health gap.

NACCHO is tiring of singular announcements in Aboriginal health while the health gap fails to close. Structural reform is required and substantial funding investment. The last three big-spending budgets were the Government’s opportunity to address this. They have failed to act.

The CEO of NACCHO, Pat Turner said, “Although I am grateful to see the Puggy Hunter Memorial Scholarship Scheme and support for screening services, mental health policy partnerships and $2.4m for ACCHOs to help in responding to the East Coast floods, I am disappointed that the core funding for our services has remained much the same. I am also worried that the Budget has assumed that ACCHOs’ expenditure will contract significantly after COVID. This may be a significant flaw in their modelling.”

In Cairns, the Chair of NACCHO, Donnella Mills said, “What we need is a substantial review of funding for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health. In work we commissioned from Equity Economics it has been calculated – as conservatively as possible and using validated Government data – that the funding gap in Aboriginal health is $4.4 billion (= $5,042 per Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander person). The Commonwealth’s share of this shortfall is $2.6 billion. Yet dangerous myths prevail that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health is over-funded. How can we seriously expect as a nation to ever close the health gap if the funding gap is so large? We will continue to live lives 8-9 years shorter than other Australians.”

NACCHO serves well over 410,000 clients per year, delivering over 3.1 million episodes of care, of which 1 million are delivered in remote communities. Its clinics are favoured by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and are directly controlled by the communities they serve. They are more cost-effective than mainstream health services and represent an effective investment means for the Commonwealth. The model was developed in 1971 – which predates Medicare itself – and can no longer be considered an unproved model of care.

The government has had the opportunity to fix the funding gap in three big-spending budgets focused on stimulus measures. If it had done so, at the same time, it could have delivered financial stimulus to the 550 local economies in which our services are located.

CEO Pat Turner said, “As long as this $4.4 billion funding gap remains and as long as there are funding gaps elsewhere – in particular, in housing – we cannot expect the unconscionable health gap to close. This Budget is an opportunity lost. NACCHO calls upon the Government to close the funding gap for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.”

You can view NACCHO’s media statement in full here.

Budget misses key suicide prevention priorities

Suicide Prevention Australia has welcomed additional funding in the 2022 Federal Budget but urged further investment for those most at-risk and across key whole-of-government priorities. Suicide Prevention Australia CEO, Nieves Murray, said “Investment in local responses, suicide prevention research and young people at risk will help save lives. Unfortunately, this is a missed opportunity for other priority populations including men, LGBTIQ+ and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. We need to see extra support for those in distress, those who have attempted suicide and the loved ones of those touched by suicide. Greater investment is needed to ensure people with lived experience are integrated in all parts of suicide prevention and a comprehensive suicide prevention workforce strategy.”

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

First Nations voices needed in climate conversation

The urgency of tackling climate change is even greater for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and other First Nation peoples across the globe. First Nations people will be disproportionately affected and are already experiening existential threats from climate change. The unfolding disaster in the Northern Rivers regions of NSW is no exception, with Aboriginal communities completely inundated or cut off from essential supplies.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have protected Country for millennia and have survived dramatic climatic shifts. They are intimately connected to Country, and their knowledge and cultural practices hold solutions to the climate crisis. Despite this, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples continue to be excluded from leadership roles in climate solution discussions, such as the recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report.

To read The Conversation article in full click here.

Student climate protest in Melbourne. Image source: The Conversation.

Help improve how pharmacists provide services

Have your say – Help improve how pharmacists provide services

NACCHO is working to make the guidelines for pharmacists working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples better.

We want to understand from you how pharmacists and pharmacies can be culturally safe and give the best care to you and your community.

Click here to complete the online survey.

Please pass this information on to any other Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander people who would be interested in completing the survey.

WA COVID-19 resources for mob

The WA Department of Health has developed a factsheets to provide information about the COVID-19 vaccines and ensure WA Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities are informed about the vaccines and are aware of any misinformation.

Topics include:

  • vaccine mythbusters – click here
  • what the COVID-19 virus is – click here
  • available vaccines
  • why having the COVID-19 vaccine is important – click here
  • side effects of vaccines – click here
  • COVID-19 and pregnancy – click here.

For further information click here.

Connections improve hep C care for homeless

Aaron was shocked when his hepatitis C rapid test came back positive. When he was approached by a nurse and peer worker at the Hutt Street Centre to get tested, he had been pretty sure his results would be ok. If you’re homeless and have no symptoms, testing for hep C is probably low on the list of priorities. Aaron considered himself pretty clued in about blood-borne virus risk; he’d been injecting drugs for many years and was an expert in technique, always using clean equipment. He was keen to go on treatment straight away and was indeed referred immediately to get started. Viral Hepatitis Nurse, Lucy Ralton said Aaron later told her that he had seen his GP due to persistent fatigue but hadn’t been screened for an HCV infection at the time. “He was very glad he got talked into having a test that day and said he only did so because he was asked,” she said.

The testing clinic at the Hutt Street Centre was part of the PROMPt study where a nurse and a Hepatitis SA peer worker directly approach individuals to invite them to have a test. Anyone with a positive result is referred to the community Viral Hepatitis Nurses for treatment. What programs like this have shown is the importance of connections and support for community and health workers who provide services to clients who are homeless and at risk of hepatitis C.

One way to improve access to hepatitis C care for this vulnerable group, is to bring together different services to explore ways of working together to make the process as simple as possible for both service providers and clients.

New models of care that integrate peers and healthcare workers have demonstrated that community-based screening, point of care testing and on the spot prescribing by either a nurse practitioner or GP in a non-judgmental and friendly environment can improve screening and treatment uptake. PROMPt – the project which helped Aaron get cured of his hepatitis C – was one example of such a model.

C the Whole Story is an online forum hosted by ASHM to discuss this challenge. This forum will provide participants with the tools, contacts and confidence to be able to discuss HCV screening and treatment with their clients. As well, it will create an opportunity for people to connect and explore ways for services to work together. The forum is on Friday 1 April 2022 via Zoom. For more information and to register click here.

To read the HepSAY article Improve Hepatitis C Care for People who are Homeless article in full click here.

Image source: Hepatitis SA website.

We’ve Got Your Back toolkit for mob

The new online safety laws give greater protection from serious online abuse, and are available to all Australians. It’s important that everyone in the community knows about the new protections, including how to report serious online abuse.

A New Online Safety Laws: We’ve Got Your Back – Helping to protect Australians online – Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Stakeholder Toolkit and printed resources are available here to support the new online safety laws.

ATSI woman looking at laptop with sticker 'online safety laws we've got your back'

Image from cover of ‘New Online Safety Laws: We’ve Got Your Back – Helping to protect Australians online – Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Stakeholder Toolkit – Australian Government eSafety Commissioner.

New process for job advertising

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

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

Primary Care COVID-19 update

The latest in a series of webinars to update primary care on the COVID-19 response and the vaccine rollout will be held from 11:30 AM–12:00 PM (AEDT) Thursday 31 March 2022.

Joining Professor Michael Kidd AM, Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Department of Health this week will be Australian Government Department of Health Dr Lucas de Toca, First Assistant Secretary, COVID-19 Primary Care Response, and Professor Nigel Crawford, Chair, Vaccine Safety, Special Risk Groups, Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation.

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

banner DoH Primary Care COVID-19 update Dep CMO - image of DCMO & COVID-19 virus cell

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Fourth dose recommended for vulnerable

Fourth dose recommended for vulnerable

On Friday 15 March 2022, the Australian Government has accepted the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation’s (ATAGI) recommendation that an additional booster dose of a COVID-19 vaccine be provided to vulnerable population groups to increase their protection levels before winter. The winter dose will be provided to people who are at greatest risk of severe illness from COVID-19. These people will have received their primary vaccination and first booster dose prior to receiving the winter dose. The groups are:

  • Adults aged 65 years and older
  • Residents of aged care or disability care facilities
  • People aged 16 years and older with severe immunocompromise (as defined in the ATAGI statement on the use of a 3rd primary dose of a COVID-19 vaccine in individuals who are severely immunocompromised)
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 50 years and older.

ATAGI recommends that the rollout of the additional booster dose for these groups start from April 2022, coinciding with the rollout of the 2022 influenza vaccination program. You can view Minister Hunt’s media release here and access further information from the Australian Government Deputy Chief Medical Officer here.

blue background, vector image of vials & syringe

Image: Nebojsa Mitrovic, Getty Images. ABC News website.

What to do if you get COVID-19

The Australian Government Department of Health has released an opinion piece from the Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Professor Michael Kidd, about what to do to prepare for the possibility of testing positive for COVID-19 – and what to do if you do test positive. The document is available in English and a number of language translations:, including Kimberly Kriol; Pitjantjatjara; Torres Strait Creole – Yumplatok; Warlpiri; Western Arrarnta and Yolngu Matha.

You can download the fact sheet here.

blue glove hand holding positive RATS test for covid-19

Image source: Urgent Care La Jolla website.

Shelley Ware backs online safety campaign

The Online Safety Act 2021 came into effect earlier this year giving the safety commissioner more powers to remove serious online abuse from platforms. Shelley Ware, Australian Aboriginal TV personality, educator and corporate speaker is championing the online safety campaign for Mob . The eSafety ambassador explains that the new law provides a stronger protection to the community allowing victims to seek permanent removal of harmful content and providing avenues to press further charges. You can listen to the interview with Shelley Ware on NITV Radio here.

Shelley Ware, Aboriginal TV personality standing in front of Yalinguth Stories, Sounds, Knowledge sign

Shelley Ware, Australian Aboriginal TV personality, educator and corporate speaker champions online safety campaign for Mob. Photo: 33 Creative. Image source: NITV website.

Mental health, housing and homelessness

Good health and wellbeing rests, in part, on access to good-quality housing. Having adequate housing and a place to call home supports ‘connection to body’, one of the 7 domains for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander social and emotional wellbeing. Unreliable or poor quality housing and homelessness contribute to and perpetuate health inequities between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and non-Indigenous Australians.

The health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people can be further compromised by (dis)connection from Country, which is another of the 7 domains of social and emotional wellbeing. There is emerging evidence that providing housing and addressing homelessness is important for preventing mental ill-health and suicide among Indigenous Australians. The relationship between housing and mental health is bi-directional. This means that someone’s mental health could be negatively affected by the lack of safe, affordable and high quality housing, and the experience of mental illness could affect access to suitable housing.

The recently release Australian Government Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) Indigenous mental health, housing and homelessness paper

  • synthesises the evidence of what works and does not work for mental health and suicide prevention programs and policy initiatives that address housing and homelessness for Indigenous Australians
  • reports key information about research, evaluation, program and policy initiatives
  • identifies best-practice approaches and critical success factors for implementation
  • outlines limitations and gaps in the evidence.

You can access the AIHW Indigenous mental health, housing and homelessness report here.

Aboriginal art: The journey towards healing by artist Linda Huddleston

The journey towards healing by artist Linda Huddleston featured on the cover of the AIHW Indigenous mental health, housing and homelessness report.

A related article in the National Rural Health Alliance online Partyline magazine looks at how empowering rough sleepers via the charity, Wheels of Wellness (WoW) can save lives. WOW provides an innovative and dynamic model of primary health care to some of regional Australia’s most vulnerable people on the streets of Cairns in Far North Queensland.

WOW’s van is fitted out as a GP consulting room and goes out during the day and after hours with a doctor, Indigenous health worker and mental health social worker. They provide free holistic primary health care to people sleeping rough, staying in a night shelter, or living in transitional and temporary accommodation.

The focus of the WoW team is to build rapport and long-term relationships with the people they meet on the streets. They actively support those wanting to address their health issues, which may include chronic disease, acute care, pain management, mental health, post-trauma stress, domestic violence, drug and alcohol dependency – and the list goes on. The WoW team strongly believes that, along with stable accommodation, focusing on holistic primary health care is crucial to empowering the lives of our most vulnerable Australians.

You can view the Saving lives by empowering rough sleepers article here.

WOW outreach van. Image source: National Rural Health Alliance Partyline online magazine.

Action urged on health, justice and ‘Voice’

Leading Indigenous advocacy groups have called on the Coalition and Labor to promise major reforms to the justice, health and welfare systems ahead of the federal election, and for a Voice to Parliament to be enshrined in the constitution. Change the Record, an alliance of legal, health and family violence prevention organisations, has demanded the major parties agree to increase Centrelink payments, raise the age of criminal responsibility to 14 and urgently build more housing in remote communities to address overcrowding.

Cheryl Axleby, a Narungga woman and co-chair of Change the Record, said problems in areas such as housing were linked to other issues like social security. “We’ve been saying this for decades; if we have appropriate shelter and affordable housing that would solve a lot of issues for our families who are living under welfare or are struggling to make ends meet,” she said. She added that the COVID-19 pandemic had highlighted the need to urgently address overcrowded housing, which became a serious problem during an outbreak in western NSW last year. “Where family members are trying to self-isolate, well, how do they do that when they don’t actually have anywhere else where they can actually go?”

You can access the full article in The Sydney Morning Herald here.

Cheryl Axleby is the co-chair of Change the Record, which has made several key demands for the Coalition and Labor. Cheryl Axleby is the co-chair of Change the Record standing in front of yellow orange brown white Aboriginal art

Cheryl Axleby is the co-chair of Change the Record, which has made several key demands for the Coalition and Labor. Image source: The Sydney Morning Herald.

Growing positive food habits in remote schools

The Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Foundation believes every young person deserves to benefit from a fun, hands-on approach to food education – in every part of the country. This is especially important for kids growing up in remote cities and towns, which form the backbone of the nation’s food system.

In the Gibson Desert, 550 kms north of Kalgoorlie, Willuna Remote Community School is revitalising their kitchen garden and striving to create connections to country. “We want to use the garden to bring Aboriginal cultural learning into the school,” explains teacher, Scott Olsen. “We already grow a native bush banana, a silky pear, and are having conversations with local elders about food native to the area.”

Teaching students how to grow food is a practical way to gain access to fresh produce. “Because we are a remote place, fresh food and vegies can be expensive and hard to find,” says Scott. “One thing we grew last year was peas – the kids absolutely loved picking the peas and eating them fresh in the garden. If they had to go to the shops to buy that big bowl of peas, they might have cost $50. Or they might not even stock them.”

To view the National Rural Health Alliance article in its online magazine Partyline in full click here.

collage: young Aboriginal boys holding seedling, 2 girls carrying water jerry, boy with tray in garden, close up image of plants

Students from Wiluna Remote Community School in kitchen garden.

caring@home Indigenous art competition winners

The caring@home for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Families project recently announced the winners of its caring@home Indigenous Art Competition. What begam as am ‘off the cuff’ idea from Project Director, Professor Liz Reymond, grew into a powerful palliative and end-of-life care conversation starter in many communities around Austra.ia.

“The caring@home art competition has had an amazing impact here. Patients and families have really gotten into it and it has brought up amazing conversations about spirituality, culture and our multicultural community…the conversations it has started have been beyond anything I could have imagined.” Nurse, Remote Palliative Care Service

Thanks have gone out to:

  • the judging panel members: Karl Briscoe – CEO, National Association of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workers and Practitioners (NAATSIHWP); Fiona Cornforth – CEO, The Healing Foundation and The Hon Ken Wyatt, AM MP – Minister for Indigenous Australians,
  • the 757 people voted in the People’s Choice Awards, and
  • the artists, whose experiences, stories and artistic expression provided a deeper and profound understanding of palliative care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families.

You can view all the artworks on the caring@home website here until June 2023.

winner of caring@home Indigenous Art Competition - Life's Journey by Lee Hall

Overall winner of the caring@home Indigenous Art Competition – Life’s Journey by Lee Hall.

New process for job advertising

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

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

WA Aboriginal Family Safety Strategy

The WA Department of Communities is working with Aboriginal people and communities on a strategy to address family violence impacting Aboriginal families and communities. Aboriginal women and children experience family violence at disproportionately high rates with devastating impacts on their own health and wellbeing, and on the health and wellbeing of community.

The contributing factors to family violence in Aboriginal communities include colonisation, dispossession, intergenerational trauma and racism. We need to develop an approach that recognises these differences and considers the specific drivers of family violence in Aboriginal communities.

To guide deliberate work and coordinated effort from government and community over the next decade, we are developing a dedicated Aboriginal Family Safety Strategy. Comprehensive consultation with a range of Aboriginal stakeholders and Aboriginal community members has occurred to inform the content of the draft strategy.

Feedback on the draft Strategy is now open until 5:00 PM AWST Thursday 14 April 2022. To have your say complete the survey here. If you have questions or would like to speak to someone about the project, please send an email using this link.

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Improving the ED experience for kids

Improving ED experience for kids

Aboriginal children presenting to Emergency Departments (ED) are more likely to be critically unwell and need urgent care than non-Aboriginal children, new data has revealed. A study looking at presentations of Aboriginal children to the Sydney Children’s Hospital Network (SCHN) facilities between 2015–2020 has shown Aboriginal children are 2.2 times more likely to present to ED via ambulance compared to non-Aboriginal children and also have a higher chance of needing resuscitation and emergency response, accounting for 7.3 % of ED presentations, compared to just 5.2% in the non-Indigenous population.

The study highlights not just the inequalities that exist for Aboriginal children but also the need for consideration of the social determinants of Aboriginal health in order to Close the Gap. In the last year, SCHN has taken a number of positive steps towards improving health for Aboriginal children and their families, implementing several new programs and introducing new positions that focus on addressing Aboriginal health disparities and promoting safe, reliable and equitable healthcare for all.

Across SCHN, the Aboriginal workforce has grown by 20 staff in clinical and non-clinical roles, ranging from new graduate nurses, to cardiac concierge, through to the Aboriginal Health Outcomes and Equity Project Manager. The Aboriginal Health Outcomes and Equity Project Manager is the first role of its kind at SCHN and aims to ensure the constant delivery of high-quality, equitable services to Aboriginal children.

To view the Transforming health for a more equitable future article on The Sydney Children’s Hospitals Network website click here.

Image source: ABC News.

Advance Care Planning resources

The Australian Digital Health Agency have worked closely with Advance Care Planning Australia (ACPA) in the lead up to Advance Care Planning (ACP) Week 21–27 March 2022 to engage consumers and healthcare providers about ACP and My Health Record. During ACP week last year, we saw a 21% increase in ACP uploads to MHR and an overall 78% increase from February to May 2021.

Last month the Australian Digital Health Agency held a workshop with consumers and carers to co-develop an ACP My Health Record Elevator Pitch which highlights the benefits and the value of uploading ACP documents to My Health Record. The ‘hero’ Elevator Pitch is Make your wishes known when you cannot speak for yourself, upload your advance care planning documents to My Health Record. Consumers and carers said this sentence would resonate the most, and will be used on the Australian Digital Health Agency website and in social media messages. Another complementary pitch that was supported is Do you want choice and certainty over what happens to you? Upload your advance care planning documents to My Health Record. This statement will also be used to support communications about ACP.

You can access the list of ADHA ACP resource information sheet here and a video for health workers illustrating culturally safe advance care planning for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities here.

Image source: The Conversation.

Health researcher workforce review

The Melbourne Poche Centre for Indigenous Health – University of Melbourne is undertaking a review and analysis of progress in building the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health researcher workforce since 2000.

This research project is being undertaken in partnership with the Lowitja Institute and aims to identify changes in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health research workforce, since 2000. Investigations will chart current educational and career-pathway models and initiatives; outline how research training can be more responsive, enriching and affirming of and for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health researchers and communities; and explore new ways to increase numbers of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health researchers.

A strength of the proposed project is to significantly address research gaps by conducting a comprehensive review foregrounding ‘whole of system’ analysis of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health researcher workforce and learn first-hand from current and future Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health researchers via in-depth interviews and case studies.

For more information about the project click here.

Benefits of allied health outreach program

A student outreach program run by the WA Centre for Rural Health (WACRH) in Geraldton is providing valuable health services to primary school children in remote areas of WA while benefiting the learning needs of university students on rural placement. Now in its fifth year of operation, the long-standing partnership between WACRH and Yalgoo Primary School (YPS) sees speech pathology, OT and audiology students on rural placement with WACRH regularly visit the remote primary school.

The WACRH students set off early in the morning to drive to Yalgoo – two hours from Geraldton or one hour for university students based in Mount Magnet – for day visits to the primary school. YPS Principal Geoffrey Blyth says, “The regular visits and resulting reports form important information about our students. They test the students and I get a report usually within three days, so the information is current and useful. Every record they make we use for our teaching and learning, as well as our assessments. It gives our students something regular that is happening at our school, not just a one-off visit. So that means that the kids are completely comfortable.”

“Plus, our students get the opportunity to interact with people they would not normally interact with and that is almost as important as the tests themselves. The kids just love them because we get a group of very enthusiastic young people at our school who talk, play and interact with them. It adds a bit of vibrancy to our school.” OT student Sarah Oborne says, “It has been great to work one on one with the kids there, particularly as they do not have people come and visit the school on a regular basis. But we are there every week.”

For more information about the program click here and to read the National Rural Health Alliance Partyline article in full click here.

algoo Primary School student Angelica Simms with OT student Keely Fitzpatrick

Yalgoo Primary School student Angelica Simms with OT student Keely Fitzpatrick. Image source: NRHA Partyline.

Suicide Prevention Research Fund extended

The National Suicide Prevention Research Fund is being extended with an additional $4 million over two years to increase Australia’s world leading research into suicide prevention and treatment. In 2020, a total of 3,139 Australians died by suicide. While it represents a 5.4% reduction in the number of suicides compared to 2019 and the lowest national suicide rate since 2016, suicide remained the leading cause of death among those aged 15–44. In addition, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people continue to die by suicide at more than twice the rate of non-Indigenous people. Minister for Health and Aged Care, Greg Hunt, said suicide has a devastating impact on individuals, families and communities.

To view Minister Hunt and Minister Coleman’s joint media release in full click here.

silhouette of head with exploding scrunched paper balls

Image source: eMedicneHealth website.

Time to book a Heart Health Check?

If you’re 45 and over, or 30 and over if you’re of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander descent, you should book your Heart Health Check today.

Do you know what your risk of having a heart attack or stroke is? Having a regular Heart Health Check with your GP will help you better understand your risk of a heart attack or stroke. Most importantly, your GP and nurse can support you to lower this risk.  A Heart Health Check is a 20-minute check-up with your GP to assess your risk of having a heart attack or stroke.

To view the relevant page for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people on the Heart Foundation website click here.

Image source: Heart Foundation.

Remote PHC Manuals project March update

The Remote Primary Health Care Manuals (RPHCM) are currently being reviewed and updated, with monthly updates provided to health services and other organisations to keep them up-to-date during the review process. The most recent RPHCM update advises: sales of 2017 editions of the manuals will cease as of April 2022. The very last chance to order copies is Thursday 31 March 2022. To order download and complete the order form here. The new editions are expected to be released in October/November 2022.

Secondary reviews are schedules for April/May with the stakeholder consultations occurring concurrently.

To view the RPHCM March 2022 Project Update click here.

New process for job advertising

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

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

Purple Day

Purple Day is a global initiative dedicated to raising epilepsy awareness, dispelling myths, and increasing support to those affected. Founded in 2008 by nine-year-old Cassidy Megan of Nova Scotia, Canada, the Purple Day concept was born out of Cassidy’s own struggles with epilepsy, her motivation to get people talking about the condition, and her desire to let those impacted by seizures know that they are not alone. Cassidy named the day ‘Purple Day’ after the internationally recognised colour for epilepsy, lavender.

Since that time, Purple Day has grown into a much loved and supported national awareness day with thousands of people across Australia rallying their private, academic and corporate communities to raise much needed awareness and funds for those affected by epilepsy.

Epilepsy affects around 151,000 Australians and thousands are hospitalised by their condition each year, according to the first comprehensive report, Epilepsy in Australia, from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW). ‘Epilepsy is a chronic neurological disorder characterised by recurrent seizures caused by a temporary disruption of the brain’s electrical activity. Epilepsy does not refer to a singular condition, but rather represents a diverse range of disorders involving many seizure types,’ said AIHW spokesperson Dr. Fleur de Crespigny. ‘A diagnosis of epilepsy brings with it lifelong management, and many experience difficulties in their work, education and long-term health.’

To read the AIHW media release in full click here and to find out more about epilepsy and Purple Day visit the Epilepsy Action Australian website here.

Black Knot – White Knot seminar

The Sydney Institute is hosting a seminar, Black Knot -White Knot as part of its Tow Way Seminar Series. The Black Knot – White Knot seminar will take place online via Zoom from 9:00 AM–12:00 PM Saturday 2 April 2022.

The seminar will be delivered by the esteemed Dr Craig San Roque and Yuin man Jade Kennedy. Craig will present intercultural and transferential relationship patterns based on 30 years of experience in Black/White cross-cultural interactions in Central Australia. This has given him a unique understanding of the people he has lived and worked with. He illustrates these significant relationships through art works.

Craig will be joined by Jade Kennedy, a Yuin man from the Illawarra and South Coast of NSW and a lecturer in Indigenous Knowledges at the University of Wollongong. His generous sharing of his life story is a privilege rarely encountered. Jade’s comments enhances Craig’s rich presentation and their engagement is enthralling.

Click here for more information about the seminar and to book tickets click here. In case of financial hardship you are asked to offer a small donation. All profits will be donated to the CASSE (Creating A Safe Supportive Environment) Shields for Living Tools for Life project. The Shields for Living Tools for Life An intensive program for high-risk young people in central Australia Creating Safer Communities: Back on Track – Cutting Youth Crime Plan. When you register for this event you will receive reading material to help in your preparations for the seminar.

Dr Craig San Roque & Jade Kennedy

Dr Craig San Roque. Image source: CASSE Australia. Jade Kennedy. Image source: TEDx UWollongong 2018.

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Birthing on Country services empower women

Image in feature tile is of South Coast Women’s Health and Welfare Corporation Waminda midwife Melanie Briggs sourced from the South Coast Register.

Birthing on Country services empower women

Many Australian women rely on and trust maternity services to see them through pregnancy, labour and the early stages of new parenting. But for First Nations women, these same services can be confronting and can result in poor outcomes. Many women must travel far from family and community to birth. And if they do, they often feel misunderstood and judged by mainstream health services.

There is another way. Birthing on Country means First Nations women give birth on their ancestral country. It acknowledges First Nation peoples’ continued ownership of land and unique birthing practices. Birthing on Country services centre First Nations values, and are designed to meet First Nations people’s social, emotional, cultural and health needs. The services are embedded within larger health service networks.

The Molly Wardaguga Research Centre team works in partnership with First Nations communities to deliver Birthing on Country maternity services that address health inequities. In one urban setting there was a profound reduction in preterm birth and increased antenatal attendance and breastfeeding. This was achieved through integrating within a wraparound system of care, designed as a one-stop-shop in an Aboriginal community controlled setting.

It also involved redesigning the service using a successful blueprint that prioritises investing in the workforce, strengthening families’ capabilities, and embedding First Nations governance and control in all aspects of maternity service planning and delivery. However, Birthing on Country services are yet to be trialled in regional and remote Australia. So there is much work to do to ensure all First Nations women can access these services.

To view The Conversation article in full click here. You can also view a trailer of a documentary (mentioned in the article) filmed in remote Arnhem Land, following two women who hope to reclaim 60,000 years of birthing culture from the stronghold of Western medicine, by working with community to pilot the training of djäkamirr- the caretakers of pregnancy and birth, below.

Cultural safety and humility program

The values and beliefs of those who provide healthcare to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities is a central area of study in Congress of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Nurses and Midwives (CATSINaM) ground-breaking Murra Mullangari program. The first Indigenous-developed Cultural Safety program for nursing and midwifery to also include Cultural Humility has been a very long journey, according to CATSINaM CEO Professor Roianne West, who said Elders and ancestors had for five decades been calling for education that took into account colonial power structures.

“It’s the very first time a program like this has been done outside of the university sector and a program that really sets the standard for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and Cultural Safety education. It adds the additional dimension that’s unique to CATSINaM, and that the aspect of Cultural Humility,” Professor West said. Murra Mullangari means “the pathway to wellbeing” and is a term gifted to CATSINaM by Aunty Dr Matilda Williams-House, a Ngambri-Ngunnawal Elder and CATSINaM Matriarch.

Clinically safe practice in nursing and midwifery is not possible without cultural safe practice Professor West said during the webinar (see below) to launch Murra Mullangari: Introduction to Cultural Safety and Cultural Humility e-learning program. You can read the full Croakey Health Media article here.

iSISTAQUIT supports pregnant women

Indigenous people experience a disproportionate burden of disease due to high tobacco smoking rates, a legacy of colonisation and government sanctioned policies where rations of tobacco were widely distributed to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. In pregnancy, 44% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women smoke, compared to 12% of non-Indigenous mothers. Although Indigenous women are motivated to quit smoking to protect their unborn child, they typically receive inadequate health provider support to quit.

iSISTAQUIT provides wrap-around support for pregnant Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women who are wanting to quit smoking. It involves a model of care designed with culturally appropriate and national best practice training informed from previous studies. iSISTAQUIT provides free, online training for health providers in smoking cessation methods and educational resources for pregnant women. Having culturally thought out approaches with assisting women to quit smoking through a pathway of support, helps Indigenous women navigate health and wellbeing systems safely. Building on the research their team has been undertaking over the last seven years, the project is now leading a nationwide scale up of iSISTAQUIT. The ISISTAQUIT team is a multi-disciplinary team of doctors, researchers, communicators, community engagement specialists and students. Quitting smoking is a process that is hard to do alone. Getting support and help from different places can increase a person’s changes to become smoke-free.

To read the full Croakey Health Media article click here and access the iSISTAQUIT website here.

tile image of 2 Aboriginal mums & babies, text 'iSISTAQUIT'

Image source: iSISTAQUIT website.

First Nations Youth and Justice System

Transforming Indigenous Mental Health and Wellbeing (TIMHWB) have produced a Fact Sheet: First Nations Youth and the Justice System, an executive summary of the article ‘First Nations peoples and the law’ by Milroy and colleagues 2021. The headings in the fact sheet include: Historical and Contemporary Context; The Australian Context; and Ways Forward. The Fact Sheet highlights three quotes from the Milroy article:

  • “We suggest that young people ending up in the criminal justice system represents a failure of other systems to properly identify and provide support and effective interventions across development.”
  • “We are imprisoning traumatised, developmentally compromised, and disadvantaged young people, where imprisonment itself adds to the re-traumatisation and complexity of supporting rehabilitation and recovery.”
  • “Ideally, the way forward would include prevention, early intervention and comprehensive clinical and community intervention should a child or young person encounter the youth justice system.”

To download the Fact Sheet click here.

Non-GP Specialist Trainee Support Program

The Australian Indigenous Doctors’ Association (AIDA) has secured funding to implement a unique and comprehensive program. the Non-GP Specialist Trainee Support Program (AIDA STSP) to support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander non-GP specialist trainees.

“The STSP will be the first Indigenous-led initiative established to provide peer and collegiate support to non-GP doctors in training, with the goal to increasing numbers into training programs and supporting them through the program so that we see high success rates of graduation.” – Ms Monica Barolits-McCabe, CEO AIDA.

Interviews can be arranged upon request. Please contact the communications team via email on here or call Wendy Wakwella on 0426 169 109. To streamline the interview process, we ask that you please complete the interview request e-form available here, prior to contacting the communications team.

To read the AIDA’s media release in full click here.

Kiara Peacock is a trainee Aboriginal Health Worker in Darwin. Photo: Emilia Terzon, ABC News.

AMA wants tax on sugary soft drinks

The AMA says with polling consistently highlighting health is a top concern for voters, next week’s Federal Budget is the last chance for Government to demonstrate it is serious about addressing the health system’s significant strains and logjams. As part of Australia’s prevention agenda, the AMA is calling for tax on sugary soft drinks to help tackle obesity and other preventable chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and some cancers.

In comments made in 2018, on the priorities for inclusion in the 2018-2023 Implementation Plan for the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan AMSANT said a tax on sugar has been shown to be effective in reducing consumption and is projected to lead to the biggest health gains, particularly for people on the lowest incomes. Similarly NACCHO proposed in its 2021–22 Pre-Budget Submission that the Commonwealth introduce a 20% tax on sugar-sweetened beverages, with the revenue accrued redirected back into a subsidy on fresh fruit and vegetables back into communities where the impact is greatest.

You can view the AMA’s media release in full here.

Image source: The Guardian.

LGBTQA+ mental health and wellbeing project

Walkern Katatdjin is a national research project that aims to understand and promote the mental health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer/Questioning, Asexual + young people, and to work with services to develop appropriate interventions. There is very little locally-specific information and guidance available for services that work with young people on how best to support someone who is both Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander and identifies as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, or Asexual (LGBTQA+). This means that young people (14-25 years) who are Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and LGBTQA+ may not receive the same level of social support and health care as other members of the community.

Young people who are Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and LGBTQA+ may be at increased risk of poor social emotional wellbeing and increased mental health difficulties, but there is very little research currently. This is an opportunity for researchers to talk to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and LGBTQA+ young people to: understand their mental health needs and social emotional wellbeing, and work with local health services to develop interventions that Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander and LGBTQA+ young people say will support them.

You can take part in the National Survey of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander LGBTQA+ young people’s mental health and social emotional wellbeing if you are: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander; LGBTQA+ (you don’t have to be ‘out’); and 14 – 25 years old.

You can read the Participant Study Information Letter here and some of the important information here. You can access the Walkern Katatdjin Rainbow Knowledge website here which includes a link to the survey.

cartoon image of Aboriginal woman midriff top, trans Aboriginal man & Aboriginal woman holding hands of each other, Aboriginal man with gay pride flag, text 'Walkern Katatdjin Rainbow Knowledge' & chalk like lines red, yellow, white, green, dark blue/purple

Artwork by Shakyrrah Beck. Image source: Walkern Katatdjin Rainbow Knowledge website.

New process for job advertising

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

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

Australasian Viral Hepatitis Conference

The Australasian Viral Hepatitis face-to-face Conference from Sunday 29 ­– Tuesday 31 May 2022 will be a forum with the aim of supporting the health workforce, government and community to work towards the elimination of hepatitis B and hepatitis C and support the communities living with these conditions in Australia, NZ and the Asia and Pacific regions.

To access further information about the conference, to register and submit a late submission click here.

Late Breaker Abstract Submission Deadline: Monday 27 March 2022

Early Bird Registration Deadline: Monday 27 March 2022

Accommodation Deadline: 10 April 2022

Standard Registration Deadline: 1 May 2022

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: $43m for NT suicide prevention services

Balgo WA graves

Image in feature tile of Balgo cemetery, WA. Photo: Matt Bamford, ABC Kimberley. Image source: ABC News.

$43m for NT suicide prevention services

The Commonwealth and NT Governments have announced $43 million in funding for mental health and suicide prevention services in the NT that they say will cover the gaps on existing services, which the NT Lived Experience Network has welcomed, while calling for community engagement in the development of NT mental health service delivery plan. The fresh funding will cover the next five years of mental health services after the NT’s suicide prevention strategic framework launched in 2018 is set to end next year.

Minister for Health and Aged Care, Greg Hunt, said the agreement will ensure Territorians will have access to additional mental health support, including young Australians, who have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Assistant Minister to the PM for Mental Health and Suicide Prevention, David Coleman meanwhile said a key focus of the bilateral agreement would be reducing the heartbreaking suicide rate in Indigenous communities. “Indigenous Australians die of suicide at more than double the rate of the non-Indigenous population,” Mr Coleman said. “This is a national tragedy and through this agreement we will be working closing with ACCHOs and NGO service providers across the NT to ensure relevant services are culturally appropriate.”

To view the NT Independent article in full click here.

Photo: Joshua Spong. Image source: ABC News website.

Nhulundu CEO witness at Senate Committee

Late last week Bailai man Matthew Cooke, CEO of Gladstone Regional Aboriginal and Islander Community Controlled Health Service Ltd (trading as Nhulundu Health) and chairman of the Queensland Aboriginal and Islander Health Council (QAIHC) appeared as a witness at the Senate Community Affairs References Committee – General practitioner and related primary health services to outer metropolitan, rural and regional Australians. In giving evidence Mr Cooke said:

“One other thing I’d like to mention in my opening statement is that the Indigenous Australians Health Program (IAHP) is the Australian government program run by the Department of Health. It is the Commonwealth budget which provides funding to the Aboriginal community controlled health services across Australia more broadly and here in the state of Queensland. There are challenges not only with regard to how the implementation of the Modified Monash Model works across rural and regional and remote communities but also with regard to the implementation of the IAHP and the funding methodology used by the Australian government. It too creates issues for our community controlled health services.”

“One thing I’ve quite well pointed out over many years—I’ve been the previous chair of NACCHO and the previous chief executive of the state peak body, QAIHC, on which I now serve as chairman—is the fact that 141-plus of our ACCHOs across the country are seen as a larger service provider to our people for primary health care, yet we’re funded with less than half the budget of the IAHP to deliver care to our people and communities. And if all levels of government, including the Australian government, have signed up to Closing the Gap by 2031 and we are recognised for playing a key part in terms of access to and delivery of care, then, even with workforce challenges, surely there has to be a greater sum of those funds coming to the Aboriginal community controlled health sector to deliver that much-needed care.”

To read a complete transcript of Mr Cooke’s testimony click here.

Matthew Cooke

Matthew Cooke. Photo: Emilie Gramenz, ABC News.

Grant to boost HIV awareness

The Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations will use a ViiV Healthcare Australia grant to fund their Discover HIV in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Communities program. The program aims to increase HIV health literacy in Indigenous communities and ensure healthcare networks have the skills and knowledge to effectively address HIV in the community.

Discover HIV project officer Justin Salerno, whose mother’s family has roots in the Indigenous community in WA’s Mid West said there were disproportionately high rates of HIV and STIs in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community. “There is a need for more education and health promotion reaching these communities because unfortunately the message is not getting through as it has with other communities,” he said.

“We have formed a partnership with Anwernekenhe, a national HIV alliance for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, doing the work we do, which involves building the capacity of health care workers.” Mr Salerno said a new edition of the Us Mob booklet, with information on treatment and services not included in the first three editions, had been launched.

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

Image source: HIV Justice Network.

Lower life expectancy post cancer 

New research from Cancer Council Queensland has revealed that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have consistently lower remaining life expectancy after a cancer diagnosis than non-Indigenous Australians. In a new report titled Quantifying differences in remaining life expectancy after cancer diagnosis, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders and other Australians, 2005-2016, contributing researchers found on average, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cancer patients had 12 years of life remaining and non Indigenous Australians had 20 years, revealing an 8 year disparity in life expectancy across the two groups. The researchers concluded a cancer diagnosis exacerbates the disparities in remaining life expectancy among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders. Interventions to address these must consider both cancer related factors and those contributing to non-cancer mortality.

Cancer Council Queensland CEO Ms Chris McMillan said the study highlights the need to close the health and life expectancy gap between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and non-Indigenous Australians. “It’s disappointing to see such a prevalent gap in the remaining life expectancy among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people when compared with other Australians faced with cancer,” Ms McMillan said. “This new research shines a light on the need to address both factors related to cancer management, such as access to treatment and support, and those contributing to a higher non-cancer mortality to help improve outcomes.”

To view the Mirage article in full click here.

Aboriginal Yarning Circle support group participants. Image source: Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre Victoria Australia website.

Progress in eliminating skin disease

One Disease is a non-profit organisation with a mission to eliminate crusted scabies as a public health concern in Australia by the end of 2022. Crusted scabies develops from cases of untreated ordinary scabies in people who have compromised immune systems. Scabies is also known to underlie many skin infections in the NT, which can lead to serious conditions such as sepsis, acute rheumatic fever, RHD and chronic kidney disease. Crusted scabies is categorised into three grades – 1, 2 and 3 – in accordance with the scabies mite load present, with Grade 3 being the most severe and infectious.

One Disease’s approach to improving the health of people living in Northern Australia has been multifaceted and is built on partnerships with the NT Government and communities across Darwin (covering Darwin Urban, Top End West, Top End Central), East Arnhem Land, West Arnhem Land, Katherine and Central (including greater Alice Springs Region and Barkly).

To view the National Rural Health Alliance Partyline article in full click here. You can also access a range of One Disease resources here, including the Scratching the Surface Podcast and educational videos such Walking Together, Working Together one below.

New SA Government health pledges

The newest Premier of SA, Peter Malinauskas, has pledged to improve the lives of those living in the country, including $15.8m for a new home for Ceduna’s Yadu Health Aboriginal Corporation.

To view the Naracoorte Herald article in full click here.

entrance to Yadu Health AC, Ceduna

Yadu Health Aboriginal Corporation in Ceduna. Image source: In Daily Adelaide Independent News website.

The Pharmaceutical Society of Australia’s (PSA) South Australian Branch said it looks forward to a positive and productive relationship with the new SA Premier and Health Minister,“As we transition back to normality, it is crucial that the incoming government continue to implement measures which would improve the health and wellbeing of South Australians, like the recommendations PSA has recently provided.

“These recommendations include embedding pharmacists in residential aged care facilities, enabling pharmacists to administer medicines by injection with an expanded range of vaccines, providing funding to employ pharmacists in Aboriginal Health Clinics across the state, and employing transition of care pharmacists in all South Australian hospitals.”

To view The National Tribune article in full click here.

Pharmacists working in an ACCHO. Image source: Australian Pharmacist website.

WA pilot keeps mums and bubs together

The number of Indigenous newborns taken from their mothers has more than halved at Perth’s dedicated birthing hospital as a result of a pilot program that supports pregnant women and their families to plan a safe household. The contentious practice of removing babies from their mothers at King Edward Memorial Hospital – sometimes when the baby is just a few hours old – was increasingly common in WA for years.

The minister responsible for child protection in WA, Simone McGurk, told state parliament that women at risk had been taking part in pre-birth planning and as a result, the number of babies taken into care from the hospital had fallen 52% in the past two years overall. The number of Indigenous babies taken at birth at that hospital has fallen 54%.

entrance of King Edward Hospital, Subiaco, Perth, WA

King Edward Memorial Hospital has had enormous success with its pilot program to prevent Indigenous children being taken from their mothers. Photo: Marie Nirme. Image source: The Australian.

 

New process for job advertising

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

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

National Tobacco Strategy input

The Australian Government Department of Health is seeking feedback on the draft National Tobacco Strategy (NTS) 2022-2030. The draft NTS 2022-2030 sets out a national policy framework for all governments to work together and in collaboration with non-government organisations to improve the health of all Australians by reducing the prevalence of tobacco use and its associated health, social, environmental and economic costs, and the inequalities it causes.

The Department welcomes all feedback and interested parties are invited to share their views on some, or all of the consultation questions or upload a written submission or response by Thursday 24 March 2022. You can view the draft NTS and submit a response at the Department of Health’s consultation hub here.

tobacco leaves from cigarette spelling QUIT

Image source: Victoria State Government Education and Training website.-

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: NACCHO CEO on ABC’s The Drum

Feature tile - Fri 18.3.22 - CEO on The Drum

Image in feature tile: NACCHO CEO Pat Turner AM, Photo: Alex Ellinghausen, The Sydney Morning Herald.

Pat Turner on The Drum

When NACCHO CEO Pat Turner appeared on the ABC’s The Drum last night she said the Close the Gap report released earlier in the day “highlights in no uncertain terms what we already know – policy and programs led by our own people work better for our people. They work so much better because they provide a culturally safe environment for our people to engage with service providers and they also have an ability to reach out into the community. Most of our services are more trusted that government services. The recent Four Corners program on RHD shown that lack of trust was evident in the Doomadgee community.”

“But we also know that comprehensive structural reform is needed to ensure more equitable outcomes for our people, and quite frankly we’ve been telling governments this for decades and it’s about time they took note of the evidence that this report and many others demonstrate that Aboriginal-led initiatives and locally-led solutions work and that’s where the investments have to be made.”

“Key data shows that the gap in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’s health is profound, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are:

    • 5.0 times more likely to die from rheumatic heart disease;
    • 4.5 times more likely to smoke during pregnancy;
    • 3.7 times more likely to have kidney disease;
    • 3.2 times more likely to have diabetes;
    • 2.1 times more likely to suicide as young people;
    • 2.0 times more likely to die in infancy; and
    • 1.4 times more likely to die from cancer.”

“So it’s really hardly surprising that we live 8–9 years less than other Australians.” Pat Turner also said there is a continuing funding gap in health with a dangerous myth that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people receive ‘plenty of health funding’. A recent conservative calculation put the gap in health expenditure, compared to other Australians, at $5,042 per Aboriginal person per year. You can watch the full episode of the ABC’s The Drum here.

screenshot of ABC The Drum episode & panelists Narelda Jacobs, Pat Turner, Paul Karp & Kudzai Kanhutu

Awabakal opens new dental clinic

Hamilton is now home to a new Awabakal Dental Clinic following the official opening of the $400,000 facility this week. The state-of-the-art centre will operate in partnership with Hunter New England Local Health District (HNELHD) to provide bulk-billed dental services to the local Aboriginal community.

Previously, the clinic boasted two chairs working out of a small section of the Awabakal Hamilton Medical Clinic. The new-look facility, funded by NSW Ministry of Health – Oral Health Unit, via the Centre for Aboriginal Health, was custom-built to meet the demand of local oral health needs. “We’ve been trying to get this off the ground for some time,” Awabakal CEO Raylene Gordon said. “So, it’s an important day for us – and I believe it’s one of the best clinics around. This is a collaboration between Awabakal and Hunter New England Local Health District that’s about making dental care more affordable for Indigenous people. Good oral hygiene is directly linked to good overall health. Poor dental care can impact on lots of nutrition and lifestyle issues. If you have no teeth, you can’t eat.”

To view the Newcastle Weekly article in full click here.

wabakal Ltd CEO Raylene Gordon, HNELHD Oral Health Unit’s Dr Lanny Chor, City of Newcastle councillor Deahnna Richardson and Newcastle state MP Crakanthorp at the official opening of the Awabakal Dental Clinic at Hamilton

Awabakal Ltd CEO Raylene Gordon, HNELHD Oral Health Unit’s Dr Lanny Chor, City of Newcastle councillor Deahnna Richardson and Newcastle state MP Crakanthorp at the official opening of the Awabakal Dental Clinic at Hamilton. Photo: Peter Stoop. Image source: Newcastle Weekly.

COVID response praised in CTG report

The Close the Gap report released yesterday detailed how Aboriginal decision-making was critical in responding to the unprecedented health challenges from the COVID-19 pandemic. The report found there was a need for trust and accountability in partnerships to enable transformative change.

Lowitja Institute CEO Janine Mohamed said the report showcased how community-led organisations and services were working to provide equitable health care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. “The report is a beautiful and powerful call to action, showcasing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander-led brilliance at work, in all sorts of settings, paving the way ahead as we have done as peoples over millennia,” she said. “Now it’s time for governments and mainstream services to step up, and step back, if we are to truly close the gap in health outcomes for our people.”

Kimberly Aboriginal Medical Service CEO Vicki O’Donnell said Indigenous community-controlled services were crucial for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. “They achieve better results, employ more Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, are connected and embedded in the community, and are therefore often preferred over mainstream services,” she said.

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

vax being administered into arm

Image source: National Indigenous Times.

ACCHO model for LGBTQ+ health services

The NSW government has committed more than $4 million toward establishing a health centre, which will provide tailored medical services to Sydney’s LGBTQ+ community. The funding announcement is part of NSW Health’s five-year LGBTQ+ health strategy, which also saw the state dedicate $3.4 million annually for a specialist trans and gender diverse public health service. A further $2.65 million went toward NSW Health workforce education and training initiatives to support the strategy.

Operated by LGBTQ+ non-profit ACON, the health centre will also offer state-wide services through telehealth, service partnerships and shared care arrangements. ACON Deputy CEO Karen Price – who, it should be noted, is a fully separate person from RACGP President Dr Karen Price – said that the health centre is similar in concept to an Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Centre. “In other areas, we know that specific services really work well to meet the needs of specific populations,” Ms Price said.

To view The Medical Republic article in full click here.

Aboriginal and Pride flags flying

Photo: Julia Turner. Image source: Cosmos Magazine.

Community Dream Research Project

First Nations’ organisation, Community First Development, has launched a new research project that explores the benefits of tracking the narrative of the long-term dreams of First Nations’ communities.  The research project is set to spark some conversations and challenge some research and evaluation norms.

The organisation holds the belief that research can-and-does enable the creation of spaces that promote First Nations’ self-determination and strong Country. It is intended to make way for the valuable insights found in First Nations’ perspectives and to strengthen the leadership and governance of First Nations’ people in evaluation. Community First Development’s approach is to push the boundaries that limit people’s understanding of First Nations’ perspectives and culture. The organisation’s approach is inclusive to the hundreds of diverse First Nations’ communities it works with – over 800 over the course of the past 20 years.

Community dreams are multi-dimensional and consider a range of aspects: the economic, environmental, mob, spiritual, cultural customs, and Country. Dreams are holistic, shared and form the basis for strengthening First Nations’ future generations and ensuring that Country is sustainable. The dream narrative cannot be understated, not only for the success of individual community projects, but also for the revitalisation and resurgence strategies that communities are putting in place.

To view the Community First Development media release please click here.

Deadly New Dads video competition

The Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet and SMS4dads are proudly supporting a competition giving soon-to-be-dads or dads with a bub under 12 months old the chance to win $3,000 in a video competition.

First Nations dads are invited to submit a short video (under 2 minutes) showcasing what they love about being or becoming a new dad. The video should be about:

  • What’s deadly about becoming a new dad? (for soon-to-be dads); OR
  • What is something you love doing with your new bub? (for dads with a bub under 12 months)

GET YOUR ENTRY IN NOW!!  Don’t miss out – total prize pool of $10,000. To view a flyer with all the details click here.

banner for Deadly New Dads Video Comp - image of young Aboriginal dad & his baby

Medicines safety PhD opportunity

The Univeristy of Queensland in offering PhD opportunity focused in the area of medicine safety in primary care, as part of the MRFF funded trial “Activating pharmacists to reduce medication related problems: The ACTMed trial”. The focus of the PhD can take a number of directions related to this trial including: (i) co-design of the service with health practitioners and/or consumers; (ii) health service design and evaluation; (iii) medicine safety; or (iv) health economics, depending on the skills and interests of the candidate. The specific research questions can be tailored to the candidate.

The candidate will have the opportunity to work with the experienced team to improve medicine safety at ACCHOs and in mainstream health services and improve population health, including the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. First Nations candidates will have access to the UQ “Yarning for Success” program which will connect you with other Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander researchers throughout their PhD.

The candidate will be required to work closely with ACCHOs, peak bodies such as NACCHO, the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia and other government agencies.

For further information about this PhD opportunity and to apply click here.

Image source: Journal of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society website.

Scholarships to research racism

Two research scholarships funded by Australian Research Council (ARC) are available for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students.

The first is an ARC Indigenous Discovery Aboriginal Youth Racism Project, a 3-year research project funded by the ARC to the value of $30,000 p.a. tax free for 3.5 years full-time study (or part-time equivalent). The objective of this project is to test a new model for assessing covert racism experienced by Indigenous youth, which includes the roles and responsibilities of non-Indigenous agents. This model can be utilised to guide evidence-based interventions to address multiple forms of racism against Indigenous Australians. You can access further information about this scholarship, including application details here.

The second scholarship is for the Aboriginal Youth Racism Project, a 3-year research project funded by the Australian Research Council to the value of s for $27,609 p.a. over 3 years. This project involves researchers from across five universities, led by Murdoch University. The candidate will be enrolled at the University of Technology Sydney based on research at the Perth and Sydney sites and the primary supervisors’ university affiliation. The objective of this research project is to test a new model for assessing covert racism experienced by Indigenous youth, which includes the roles and responsibilities of non-Indigenous agents. This model can be utilised to guide evidence-based interventions to address multiple forms of racism against Indigenous Australians. For further information about this scholarship, including application details here.

hand writing 'RACISM' with chalk on blackboard

Image source: Monash University website.

New process for job advertising

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

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

Dietitians Week 2022

Dietitians Week, held from Monday 21 – Sunday 27 March 2022, is about supporting our nutrition champions and the work they do transforming our lives and communities. Accredited Practicing Dietitians (APDs) around the nation, supported by Dietitians Australia, will be sharing stories about how they improve lives through their experience as nutrition professionals.

Dietitians Week is the time to honour the dietitians in your community. Whether they are your colleagues, acquaintances, loved ones, educators, healthcare partners or carers, help share their extraordinary impact on the lives they touch.

You can find out more about Dietitians Week and download the Dietitians Week digital toolkit here.

The Good Tucker App is one example of the great work that dietitians do in the ACCHO sector. The App was developed by Uncle Jimmy Thubs Up, The University of SA and Menzies School of Health Research in partnership with The George Institute, to provide a simple way for people to identify the healthiest food and drink options available in stores. You can watch a video about the App below download the Good Tucker App here.