NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: U AND ME CAN STOP HIV

U AND ME CAN STOP HIV

For the second year in a row NACCHO have joined forces with The University of Queensland’s Poche Centre for Indigenous Health to co-host Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander HIV Awareness Week (ATSIHAW) trivia which coincides with World AIDS Day.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples continue to be disproportionately impacted by sexually transmitted diseases and blood borne viruses, including HIV. There is also an ongoing outbreak of infectious syphilis affecting young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. This higher prevalence of other STIs increases the risk of HIV transmission.

Professor James Ward from University of Queensland Poche Centre for Indigenous Health said “ATSIHAW in its eighth year brings together researchers, health workers, policymakers and the community and gets the conversation going in our community about HIV prevention and the importance of regular testing for HIV. ATSIHAW empowers our community to take a stand on HIV Prevention with the ‘U and me can stop HIV’ campaign with 44 community events hosted by Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services during the week of ATSIHAW 2021.”

The theme of World AIDS Day 2021 ‘End inequalities. End AIDS’ focuses on reaching people left behind and drawing attention to the growing inequalities in access to essential HIV services. This message also resonates with the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Sector.

NACCHO Chair Donnella Mills said, “The theme this year for World AIDS Day is very relevant to us considering the disproportionately high rates of sexually transmissible infections (STIs), blood borne viruses (BBVs) and other communicable diseases driven by a legacy of neglect, disjointed public policy, insufficient or poorly distributed resources that fail to reach Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people on the ground, and lack of genuine co-design or culturally appropriate holistic health services.”

“We have demonstrated that a commitment from the Australian Government Department of Health, in partnership with NACCHO, to provide direct funding for Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services (ACCHS) to address the syphilis outbreak has produced some positive outcomes.”

“Over the last five years, the Australian Government’s public health response has built on the strengths of the ACCHS sector. NACCHO, together with members and other partners, has delivered increased rates of testing and treatment for STIs and BBVs. Though this sector-led response has seen some success, more must be done.”

“We thank the Australian Government Department of Health who so far have committed over $30 million over the next 3 years (2021–2024) to support locally developed responses to STI/BBVs.”

“To achieve the goal of eliminating HIV transmission in Australia for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, we need further investment for the scale up of preventative measures, innovative approaches to increase access to culturally safe testing and treatment pathways and improved stigma reduction programs. More must be done to improve the HIV cascade of care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, ensuring access to treatment and supporting people to achieve viral suppression. “U AND ME CAN STOP HIV’, the conversation needs to start now,” said Ms Mills.

Michael Brown, Sexual Health Project Officer, working with the Cherbourg Regional Aboriginal and Islander Community Controlled Health Services (CRAICCHS), 170 km north-west of Brisbane, in Wakka Wakka tribal country first discovered he was HIV-positive, when he lived in Cairns in far north Queensland. He is a firm advocate for My Health Record and is encouraging other HIV-positive people to use their record and take control of their health, knowing their privacy is protected.

Mr Brown said, “It has been 40 years since the first HIV diagnosis, and we as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are still in need of a culturally appropriate support system in the HIV area. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people need to be a priority if we are going to eradicate HIV in Australia.

“We need funding for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander HIV peer support and case management programs post the diagnosis of HIV where there is a lived experience of HIV within Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.”

NACCHO will continue to advocate for ongoing funding and work with our partner organisations including our Affiliates, the Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations (AFAO),  National Association of People Living with HIV Australia (NAPWHA), Australasian Society of HIV, Viral Hepatitis and Sexual Health Medicine (ASHM) to address the disproportionate rates of sexually transmitted diseases and blood borne viruses. This is an important step towards Closing the Gap.

To view the NACCHO Media Statement in full click here.

blood testing for HIV

Image source: SBS NITV website.

Ernie on Country with vax message

The COVID-19 vaccine rollout in the Pilbara is proceeding slowly but a push to translate jab information into Martu and a visit from Ernie Dingo have medical services feeling positive. Among the general population, the Pilbara is the least vaccinated part of WA.

The Pilbara has three Aboriginal medical services, Puntukurnu, Wirrika Maya, and Mawarnkarra, which in March came together to establish the Pilbara Aboriginal Health Alliance (PAHA). The alliance is working together with the Royal Flying Doctor Service and the WA Country Health Service to get jabs into arms, but PAHA CEO Chris Pickett said it was not an easy task. “People need to remember the logistics of making this happen. We’re talking about people in communities hundreds of kilometres from the nearest hospital,” he said.

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

Min Ken Wyatt, 2 other Aboriginal men & Ernie Dingo holding cardboard Vaxx the Outback campaign, NIAA

Photo: Leslie Dingo, Bush TV. Image source: National Indigenous Times.

AMSANT responds to vax misinformation

Claims on social media that the Australian Army had forced Aboriginal people in the remote NT communities at Binjari and Rockhole to have COVID-19 injections have been strongly rejected by Aboriginal leaders and a peak NT health body. The unsubstantiated claims, which were reported globally caused further stress to the community members – according to AMSANT CEO John Patterson.

To listen to John Patterson speak on the topic click here.

black & white portrait of AMSANT CEO John Paterson

AMSANT CEO, John Paterson. Image source: CAAMA Radio Network Australia website.

AOD support missing piece of puzzle

When it comes to addressing the over-representation of Aboriginal people in criminal justice, out-of-home care, family and domestic violence and homelessness, the missing piece of the puzzle is alcohol and other drug support. AOD treatment is chronically underfunded, but for every dollar spent on treatment services, we see a $7 return to the community.

Many of the leading causes of death and harm for Aboriginal people stem from AOD misuse. Similarly, there is a strong association between suicide and harmful AOD use.

AOD use ultimately stems from the violence and trauma enacted on Aboriginal communities since colonisation. A 2013 report from the National Indigenous Drug and Alcohol Committee found services for Aboriginal people should be culturally secure, have strong community engagement, and support Aboriginal control of solutions. There should also be continued support for the capacity building of ACCHOs to provide AOD services at a local level.

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

Daniel Morrison, Wungening Aboriginal Corporation

Daniel Morrison, Wungening Aboriginal Corporation. Image source: National Indigenous Times.

Videos to keep mob strong and deadly

The WellMob website is an online library of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander specific mental health and social and emotional wellbeing resources. These resources include over 250 apps, videos, podcasts, websites and pdfs that provide low intensity mental health interventions and cultural wellbeing content for our diverse communities. The website fills the gap in the online space not serviced by mainstream mental health providers.

The WellMob website team have recently launched a series of short videos to improve awareness about how the WellMob website can keep our diverse mob feeling strong and deadly.

The WellMob: An introduction video describes the WellMob website, a digital library of wellbeing resources made by and for our mob including over 250 apps, podcasts, websites, videos, social media and printable wellbeing materials.

The WellMob: Website tour video shows you how to use the WellMob website. Starting on the landing page, it shows the six main topics and steps through how to find digital wellbeing resources.

The WellMob: Tips for workers video has tips for health workers on how to use digital wellbeing resources found on WellMob.

For further details about the video rollout click here.

Lived experience role in mental health 

The role of lived experience is being embedded within the mental health system and suicide prevention system, with the launch of Australia’s first national guidelines for a lived experience workforce.

The National Mental Health Commission has released the National Lived Experience (Peer) Workforce Development Guidelines, which contains the principles, values and roles of the lived experience workforce, together with detailed steps for employers to help them plan and embed lived experience into their core business. The guidelines are the result of an extensive consultation and co-design process with almost 800 stakeholders.

To view the media release in full click here.

grey silhouette of head, scrunched colourful paper coming out of head

Image source: Pro Bono News Australia website.

Missing, murdered women and kids inquiry

The Australian Senate has voted to hold an inquiry into missing and murdered Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and children. Yamatji Noongar woman and Green Senator for WA Dorinda Cox called for the inquiry in her first speech to the Senate in October this year.

In a statement, the office of Senator Cox said the inquiry will be the first of its kind in Australia and will investigate “the systemic causes of violence including underlying social, economic, cultural, institutional and historical causes contributing to the ongoing violence and particular vulnerabilities of First Nations women and children.”

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

Senator Cox clapping in park with crowd in background

Senator Cox. Image source: National Indigenous Times.

New process for job advertising

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: ADF, NT Chief slam dangerous vax lies

feature tile text 'NT Chief Minister and ADF slam dangerous vax lies' & image of vax vials & dice with letters f, a, c, t, k, e

Image in feature tile from The Conversation, Photo: Alexander Limbach, Shutterstock.

ADF, NT Chief slam dangerous vax lies

In a press conference yesterday, Thursday 25 November 2021, NT Chief Minister Michael Gunner blasted COVID conspiracy theorists, saying he wanted to address “the huge amount of misinformation being spread online over the past few days. There are ridiculous, untrue rumours about the ADF’s involvement. As we all know, they aren’t carrying weapons — they are carrying fresh food for people.” He urged people not to worry about the dangerous lies spreading online.

You can access the ABC News article in full here and view the Chief Minister’s press conference below – his comments mentioned above can be found from 3 min 46 sec to 7 min 13 sec.

The Australian Defence Force has also rejected as lies “wild” social media claims that it’s forcibly vaccinating Indigenous Northern Territorians against COVID-19. The misinformation has been shared and reposted to multiple platforms and there are fears it could threaten efforts to contain an outbreak.

“Defence is aware of social media posts claiming the Australian Defence Force is forcibly vaccinating or detaining members of the Australian community,” a spokesman said in a statement. “These claims are emphatically false.”

To read the Canberra Times article in full click here.

NACCHO CEO, Pat Turner has commended the ADF for calling out the outrageous claims by people who are making the wild accusations without being privy to the facts. She said people need to stop confusing our people with all the misinformation on social media and talk to the health staff instead and look at credible sites for good advice.

AMSANT and Amnesty International Australia have also released a joint media release regarding ADF involvement in Katherine, NT which can be viewed here.

CEO protecting mob one vial at a time

A Queensland CEO armed with a syringe, is fighting to have Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples protected against COVID-19, personally administering the vaccine, one vial at a time. Gidgee Healing CEO Renee Blackman, a proud Gubbi Gubbi woman and registered nurse, has remained hands-on in her quest to have all her people from Mt Isa, the North West and Lower Gulf regions of the State fully vaccinated.

Renee is part of an entire First Nation contingent of doctors, nurses and Aboriginal health practitioners injecting vaccines, imparting a greater understanding of the virus, while also allaying personal fears around getting the jab. That process will again be on show in Mt Isa TONIGHT as Gidgee Healing hosts it’s Deadly Night Out push for vaccinations among Australia’s First Nations populations.

When: from 4:00 PM Friday, 26 November 2021

Where: Buchanan Park: Cnr Sutton and George Street, Mount Isa

Who: Gidgee Healing CEO Renee Blackman, Current and former Broncos players Jordan Rikki, Ezra Mam, Xavier Willison, Ethan Quai-Ward and Lote Tuqiri; Deadly Choices Ambassadors Steve Renouf and Tallisha Harden

To view the media release about this event in full click here.

Gidgee Healing Mt Isa CEO Renee Blackman

Mob hit back at vax misinformation

They rejected claims made on social media that members of Binjari community were being forcibly removed by ADF personnel or otherwise mistreated by authorities. “We have been treated with a lot of respect and appreciate all the support being given by these support personnel people,” the statement reads. “We are in lockdown because we’re in the biggest fight of our lives. We’re trying to keep safe. We’re trying to do the right thing by the community and Katherine.”

To view the full story in the Katherine Times click here.

COVID-19 Binjari roadblock in Katherine, NT

The COVID-19 Binjari roadblock in Katherine, NT on 23 November 2021. Photo: AAP. Image source: SBS NITV website.

Closing culture gaps to help sick kids

A new Curtin University study has found that there is an urgent need to develop and implement strategies to empower Aboriginal families to identify deteriorating health in their child and alert clinicians. The research, published in Pediatric Nursing, explored the perspective of family members of Aboriginal children to see if they could recognise, and respond to, health deterioration in a hospital setting.

Lead researcher, Associate Professor Fenella Gill from Curtin’s School of Nursing, said it was hoped the study results would lead to the development of a culturally secure escalation system. “Previous research has indicated that there are higher rates of hospital mortality for Aboriginal children, including due to failures in escalation of care, therefore it is vital to address these barriers,” Associate Professor Gill said.

To view the article in full click here.

Aboriginal mum holding toddler

Image source: Curtin University.

Crucial tool to eliminate Chronic Hepatitis B

An educational app designed to improve health literacy around the hepatitis B virus (HBV) has been translated to provide more than 70% of the NT Aboriginal population access in their first language. The Hep B Story App, a crucial tool in the work to eliminate Chronic Hepatitis B (CHB), a disease endemic in Aboriginal communities in the NT, was launched yesterday, Thursday 25 November 2021.

The NT has an estimated CHB prevalence of three to 12%, meaning the NT has the highest CHB prevalence in Australia at 1.77%. Of those living with CHB, 25% will die from decompensated cirrhosis (liver failure) or hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC – liver cancer). Liver cancer is the fastest growing cause of cancer death in Australia and liver disease is the third most important contributor to the gap in life expectancy between First Nations and non-Indigenous Australians.

To view the media release regarding the launch in full click here.

The Hep B Story app is free to download from the Apple and Google Play stores and the Menzies website here.

Cultural competence resources

The University of Sydney’s National Centre for Cultural Competence has produced a selection of articles and book chapters that continue to inform and shape the discourse of cultural competence nationally and internationally. This curated group of resources will be updated as new ideas and publications are encountered.

To access the resources click here.

Image source: The University of Sydney.

National Nurse Practitioner Plan

A new 10-year strategic plan is being developed to help Australia’s highly skilled and respected nurse practitioners, by enhancing the way they work as they deliver essential health care for Australians .

Registered with the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia, Nurse Practitioners are focused on improving access to treatment, and dedicated to improving access to treatment, and improving health outcomes of all Australians, particularly at risk populations, including aged care residents, Indigenous Australians and those living in regional, rural and remote areas.

As part of the strategic plan, the Government is commencing consultations for the plan, which aims to address workforce issues and enhance the delivery of patient care. Minister for Health and Aged Care, Greg Hunt, said “This is the first opportunity for the community, health providers, clinicians, and experts to make a contribution to this new plan, which will be delivered by the middle of next year.”

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

Aboriginal health worker taken child's blood pressure

Image source: Department of Health website.

Suicide prevention grants double

Suicide prevention grants to organisations across the country are being increased to help reduce Australia’s suicide rate towards zero. Through the National Suicide Prevention Leadership and Support Program Grant Opportunity, $114 million will be available for national projects that will raise awareness of the impact of suicide and support Australians who are at risk.

Specific vulnerable groups – including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, veterans, men, regional communities, and culturally and linguistically diverse communities – have been identified as the primary focus of the Grant Opportunity as these groups have higher rates of suicide than the general population. Minister for Health and Aged Care, Greg Hunt, said suicide is a national tragedy, with 3,139 Australians taking their lives in 2020.

To view the full media release 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.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Save the date – HIV Awareness Week Trivia

HIV Awareness Week Virtual Trivia 2021 - Save the date.

Join us for ATSIHAW virtual trivia

Save the date: Inviting all Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services staff to join the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander HIV Awareness Week Virtual Trivia 2021 at 3pm (AEST), 1 December 2021.
 
Each year Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander HIV Awareness Week gets a conversation going in our community about HIV prevention and the importance of regular testing for HIV.
 
What team will take the title this year?
Will Condoman or Lubelicious make an appearance?
Special prizes for BEST and WORST dressed once again.
 
Stay tuned! More information coming soon.
ATSIHAW2021 VIRTUAL TRIVIA - Save the date.

#TriviaTime #hivawareness #hivawarenessandprevention

Struggle to vaccinate communities in QLD

Health officials in Queensland are struggling to vaccinate Indigenous communities across the state due to misinformation and hesitancy.

Health officials are taking vaccines directly to communities. Teams of nurses from Brisbane’s Mater Hospital began the clinic last week in partnership with Indigenous health workers.

“It enables people to have a private conversation and ask the questions that they’ve got about vaccine. We know that there is misinformation, we know that there is hesitancy and I think having that personal conversation with people makes a difference,” said Michelle Forrest from Darling Downs Health.

135 vaccines have been delivered in the week since the program started, but with a 2-dose vaccination rate of 27% Cherbourg still has a long way to go.

You can view the story on the ABC News website.

Health officials struggle to vaccinate Indigenous communities in Queensland

Health officials struggle to vaccinate Indigenous communities in Queensland.

COVID-19 vaccination highly effective

Fully vaccinated people have been significantly less likely to become seriously ill or die, and better protected from acquiring COVID-19, during the Delta outbreak.

Yesterday, Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant highlighted the findings in the latest NSW Health In Focus report which shows hospitalisations, ICU admissions and deaths were all far lower among the fully vaccinated population during the outbreak’s peak. Dr Chant said the report also makes it clear fully vaccinated people were significantly less likely to become infected with COVID-19.

“The COVID-19 Delta outbreak has been the biggest challenge the state has faced during the pandemic because of its transmissibility. However, this report shows vaccination has been key in protecting ourselves, our families, and the community from the harmful effects of the virus,” Dr Chant said.

You can read more on the NSW Government Department of Health website.
You can view the In Focus report here.

elder without shirt outdoor setting receiving covid-19 vaccine from KAMS worker

Photo: Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Services. Image source: The Guardian.

98% of COVID-19 cases in Moree are First Nations people

Large gatherings have led to an explosion of COVID-19 positive cases in and around Moree in the past week. Since the first positive cases were identified last Monday, the number of positive tests has jumped close to 100, and COVID-19 has also been found in the neighbouring shire of Inverell.

The surging outbreak is almost exclusively impacting Aboriginal people: 98 per cent of the 94 active cases on Sunday were Indigenous, according to NSW Health. And the vast majority with the virus, at present, are young: 90 per cent are under 40, and 43 per cent are under 20.

Ros Rose, nursing manager at Moree’s Pius X Aboriginal Corporation, said the organisation, which provides health care to 3,500 Indigenous residents, has been offering vaccines since March but has struggled to convince young people to get the jab. The outbreak has been a “wake-up call”, she said, and more people – about 30 a day – are now coming for their vaccinations.

After having COVID-19 for a week, 34-year-old Gomeroi woman Lisa Duncan now regrets that she was hesitant. She said she was anxious about side effects, and thought: “I’ll be right, I won’t get coronavirus.”

Now, she plans to get vaccinated as soon as she’s clear of the virus. She doesn’t want to get it again.

“I can’t be a voice for everybody but just coming from my point of view, get the vax, or you do suffer. The symptoms are bad, it’s horrible.”

You can read the article in the Brisbane Times here.

Lisa Duncan, 34, says she regrets not getting the vaccine due to anxiety. She tested positive to COVID-19 along with children Hayden, 4, Haylee, 8 and Nazariiah, 10. Image credit: Louise Kennerley.

Lisa Duncan, 34, says she regrets not getting the vaccine due to anxiety. She tested positive to COVID-19 along with children Hayden, 4, Haylee, 8 and Nazariiah, 10. Image credit: Louise Kennerley.

Raising awareness around perinatal mental health

In Australia, one in five mothers and one in 10 fathers will experience perinatal depression and anxiety. Many support services have seen a sharp rise in calls for help during the pandemic. Health experts say Indigenous, multicultural and LGBTIQ+ families are especially at risk.

“We know that so many parents are having a really hard time, even more than normal,” said clinical psychologist Chris Barnes from Gidget Foundation Australia.

It’s why more than 40 organisations across Australia have united to help raise awareness for Perinatal Mental Health Week, which runs from 7 to 13 November.

Their aim is to break down the stigmas, particularly affecting parents from Indigenous and migrant backgrounds, that prevent many families from reaching out for help.

“New and expectant parents are not alone. There are many services available,” said Ms Barnes.

You can read the article in SBS News here.

First Nations woman Jami Seale (centre) struggled with postnatal anxiety and depression during the pandemic. Image source SBS News.

First Nations woman Jami Seale (centre) struggled with postnatal anxiety and depression during the pandemic. Image source SBS News.

Strong community support for #RaisetheAge

The ACT Council of Community Service (ACTCOSS) has commended the ACT Government on its progress towards raising the age of criminal responsibility in the ACT. In its Listening Report, the ACT Government found that 90 per cent of submissions supported raising the minimum age of criminal responsibility from 10 years. It also showed that:

  • this change is required to protect the safety and wellbeing of the Territory’s children and young people
  • medical evidence clearly shows that children under the age of 14 are developmentally and neurologically unable to form criminal intent and should not be held criminally responsible for their actions; and
  • there is limited support for the creation of exceptions or ‘carve outs’ to the minimum age for serious or repetitive behaviour.

“All the evidence tells us that prison is no place for children. Not only is the brain of a child under 13 years of age not yet sufficiently developed to understand criminal responsibility, we know that imprisoning kids only makes them far more likely to become repeat adult offenders,” said ACTCOSS CEO Dr Emma Campbell.

You can view the media release by ACTCOSS here.
The Listening Report and submissions can be found on the ACT Government YourSay website.

two Aboriginal youths in Darwin Don Dale Juvenile Prison

Youth detained in Darwin prison. Image source: ABC News website.

Improving access to mental health services 

The Australian Rural Health Education Network (ARHEN) has welcomed the Final Report from the House Select Committee on Mental Health and Suicide Prevention and the recommendations to improve access to services for people in rural and remote Australia. The Committee recommended the Australian Government leverage the existing Australian Rural Health Education Network by providing funding for clinical placements in regional, rural and remote university clinics and using these clinics to trial multi-disciplinary, hybrid mental health hubs that integrate digital services and face to face services.

“For more than twenty years the University Departments of Rural Health have been training health students from a range of allied health disciplines such as nursing, occupational therapy, psychology and pharmacy to work in rural and remote locations. With appropriate additional resourcing our rurally-based university campuses would be well-placed to deliver on the Committee’s recommendation to trial mental health clinics and hubs which may offer a mix of digital and face to face services for people in rural and remote regions,” said Chair of ARHEN Christine Howard.

You can read the media release by ARHEN here.
You can view the Final Report here.

aerial view of APY Lands community Amata, red dust, approx 60 houses, dirt playing field, mountains in the distance

Aerial view of APY Lands community Amata. Photo: Carl Saville, ABC News. Image source: ABC News website.

Post-Lockdown support for Belconnen and Gungahlin mob

Lockdown has put a strain on households with the increase in electricty and heating usage and Yerrabi Yurwang are providing support of $100 towards utility bills for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families residing in Belconnen or Gungahlin areas.

Funds are limited and to be eligible for this support you must be:

  • Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander
  • be over 18 and
  • live in the Belconnen or Gungahlin area

For more information, please contact Selina Walker at: info@yerrabi.org.au

You can download a flyer for the initiative here.
Please visit the Yerrabi Yurwang website to apply.

Hands of different skin tones gently stacked.

Image source: Yerrabi Yurwang 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.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Minister vows to reduce suicide rate

feature tile text 'Minister vows to reduce suicide rate of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples' & image of Minister Wyatt in Parliament

Minister vows to reduce suicide rate

In pointing out that Indigenous people are dying by suicide at twice the rate of other Australians, Minister for Indigenous Australians, Key Wyatt,  vowed to use ‘every tool at our disposal to have a substantial impact’ on reducing the Indigenous suicide rate.

Minister Wyatt said “We know that there is a need to reach people in distress earlier to prevent the onset of suicidal behaviour. A focus on prevention and early intervention with a more integrated and compassionate mental health system is key.”

The minister added that the National Agreement on Closing the Gap signed by governments last year created, for the first time, shared accountability, greater transparency and embedding working in partnership across all levels of government and the Coalition of Aboriginal Peak Organisations. A commitment under target 14 of the agreement would lead to annual reporting from all jurisdictions on their progress to achieving eliminating the suicide rate among the Indigenous population all together, he said.

To view The Mandarin article in full click here.

$9m+ research funding for CAAC

The Australian Government is supporting nine Australian researchers with almost $62 million to improve the health and wellbeing of Australians by accelerating research knowledge and outcomes into health care and practice. Funded through the Government’s Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF), the 2020 Rapid Applied Research Translation (RART) Grant Opportunity is investing $216 million over 10 years and focuses on turning research findings into real health benefits that help Australian patients.

The University of NSW has been granted $9,967,326 for scaling up infection disease point-of-care testing for Indigenous people; The George Institute for Global Health has $2,410,958 for Implementing holistic burn care through a culturally safe integrated model; and the Central Australian Aboriginal Congress Aboriginal Corporation has received $9,760,245 for a research projected with the title Aboriginal prosperity through community driven translational research.

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

COVID-19’s disproportionate impact on mob

New data shows Aboriginal people in NSW and the ACT have been heavily and disproportionately affected by COVID-19, amid concerns that even after two months of “surge” efforts in 30 Indigenous communities, vaccination rates will not be high enough to withstand further outbreaks.

10% of all COVID-19 cases in NSW and the ACT are Aboriginal and Islander people, meaning they have been affected at twice the rate of other Australians. In the past three months, there have been 7,000 cases, 700 hospitalisations, 80 people in ICU and 14 deaths among Aboriginal people, according to data from NACCHO.

To view the The Guardian article in full  click here.

Door-to-door work by trusted local health workers to answer questions and counter vaccine hesitancy has been effective in raising rates. Photo: Dan Himbrechts, AAP. Image source: The Guardian.

Mary G asks KAMS CEO about COVID-19

Mary G has spoken with Vicki O’Donnell, Chair of the Aboriginal Health Council of Western Australia and CEO of Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Services (KAMS), asking the hard-hitting questions about COVID-19 and vaccination.

You can listen to the interview and read the interview transcript here.

Mary G

Mary G. Image source: Mary G Foundation website.

Rising syphilis rates in remote WA

As syphilis cases continue to surge in WA, contact tracers say they are overwhelmed, with remote areas with high Indigenous populations of particular concern. Increased notifications associated with the outbreak of the sexually transmitted infection (STI) were first reported in the Kimberley region in 2014 and have spread throughout WA.

Health experts say while attention remains on COVID-19, syphilis rates are climbing without enough public awareness, especially among Indigenous populations where social stigma discourages people from getting tested. In the Kimberley, contact tracers are struggling to reach long lists of people who may have caught the STI. The infection can cause serious life-long health complications.

To view the ABC article in full click here.

Anne Clarke & Rosie Jack, Kununurra

Anne Clarke and Rosie Jack have been spreading the word throughout Kununurra that there’s no shame in getting tested. Photo: Ted O’Connor, ABC News.

Close the Gap for Vision events

The University of Melbourne’s Indigenous Eye Health is hosting the following two events over the next few weeks:

2021 Annual Update on the Implementation of The Roadmap to Close the Gap for Vision report launch by Pat Anderson AO
with Professor Hugh Taylor AC – 11.00AM–11.45AM (AEDT) – Tuesday 16 November 2021. To register click here.

Sharing our Findings: Evaluating Regional Implementation of The Roadmap to Close the Gap for Vision by Indigenous Eye Health –  12:00PM–1:00PM (AEDT) – Wednesday 24 November 2021. To register click here.

Aboriginal man having an eye test

Image source: SBS News.

Benefits of community development

Leading economics firm, ACIL Allen, has undertaken a social and economic Impact Assessment of a national community development organisation delivering projects in First Nations’ communities. It found the model has potential to deliver positive health, social and economic impacts for First Nations’ people and significant cost savings for government.

ACIL Allen stated, “Community development activities have the potential to generate large amounts of cost savings for government, by reducing the reliance on government support, services and safeguards. This cost saving is significant, considering the cost of service provision for Indigenous Australians has historically been higher than non-Indigenous Australians.”

The complete ACIL Allen impact statement on Community First Development can be found here and you can view the related media release here.

Economic security boost for two ACCHOs

The Andrews Labor Government is supporting self-determination and increasing financial autonomy for Aboriginal organisations by releasing full ownership of five more properties back to the community.  Minister for Aboriginal Affairs Gabrielle Williams has announced that the latest group of properties owned by Aboriginal organisations have had their first mortgages removed as part of the First Mortgage and Community Infrastructure Program.

These properties include Wathaurong Aboriginal Co-operative’s main office, which includes their health service, in North Geelong; and Winda Mara Aboriginal Corporation’s office plus two other properties housing their services in Heywood. The removal of these mortgages gives Aboriginal communities rightful control of their assets and brings the total number of properties with mortgages lifted under the program to 30.

To view the media release in full click here.

Image source: City of Greater Geelong 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.

Perinatal Mental Health Week

This year between the Monday 7 and Saturday 13 November, Perinatal Anxiety & Depression Australia (PANDA) is celebrating Perinatal Mental Health week. Since 2005 PANDA has been leading the perinatal mental health sector in promoting the week to help our community better understand perinatal mental illness, including signs to look for and where to go to seek support.

The theme for this year is “breaking down barriers”. In the last 12 months, PANDA has seen:

  • 51% increase in callers to PANDA’s Helpline.
  • 57% of callers are citing stressful life events as their reason for reaching out for help.
  • More pregnant callers reaching out for help – 75% are either pregnant with their second or third child.
  • Significant increase in the number of callers with babies under 1 month of age (12% in 2019-20 to 26% in 2020-21).

Many may think the statistics are alarming, PANDA sees the increase in demand as positive progress, as it means more families in Australia are no longer trying to manage alone. These families are breaking down barriers created by the stigma that surrounds perinatal mental illness to get the support they need. PANDA is incredibly proud of all the people who have reached out to us.

For more information click here.

tile text 'perinatal mental health week - breaking DOWN barriers - panda.org.au - 7-13 November 2021' & cartoon of max & woman sitting, woman holding baby

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Housing won’t withstand climate change

Feature tile text ' climate change will make First Nations' housing unsuitable for future living' & image of house in remote area

Image in feature tile from: Central Land Council website.

Housing won’t withstand climate change

Regional and remote Aboriginal housing is not able to withstand climate change and will be unsuitable for future living, forcing people to consider migrating away from their traditional lands if nothing is done, research says. Even the best-kept housing will not be enough to protect people from the worst impacts of climate change, according to the Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute (AHURI).

Researchers warned that even if existing housing is improved to deal with the heat, widespread over-crowding in Aboriginal communities would cancel out the benefits. “Our message in a nutshell is: addressing climate change in Indigenous housing and health policy is imperative,” Professor Tess Lea from the University of Sydney said. “More housing is needed, and new design approaches are urgently required.”

To view the full article in The Guardian click here.

remote Aboriginal housing

Part of an Aboriginal town camp on the outskirts of Alice Springs. Photo: Helen Davidson. Image source: The Guardian.

Mental health animations for mob

Katherine West Health Board has produced a suite of mental health animations including depression, anxiety, psychosis, and staying strong.

These animated videos aim to provide information about various mental health problems for Aboriginal people in the Katherine region of the NT. The videos explain what anxiety, depression and psychosis are and what to do if people suspect they have one of these conditions. The Staying strong video offers tips on how to keep your spirit strong.

For more information about the KAMS mental health animations and to view the animations (in addition to the one below) click here.

Door-to-door jabs boost vax rates

Leaders in the Aboriginal community of Cherbourg are cautiously optimistic a door-to-door COVID-19 vaccination campaign will help it avoid another lockdown, as rates slowly climb. Health workers began door-knocking homes in the South Burnett town a week ago, offering free Pfizer vaccinations to people aged over 12.

The community has one of the lowest vaccination rates in Queensland, with just 26.9% of residents fully vaccinated and 37.7% partially vaccinated, as of Monday 1 November 2021. Cherbourg Mayor Elvie Sandow said “To be honest, I was worried a couple of weeks ago, but now that they’re going around door-knocking I’m actually feeling a bit positive,” she said. “The numbers are going up and we just want them to keep going up. Then everyone can be safe.”

Darling Downs Health is coordinating the program through the Cherbourg Community Health Service, alongside the Cherbourg Regional Aboriginal & Islander Community Controlled Health Service (CRAICCHS).

To view the full ABC News article click here.

Cherbourg resident Colin Morgan receiving vax

Cherbourg resident Colin Morgan received his COVID vaccine out the front of his home. Photo: Georgie Hewson, ABC Southern Queensland. Image source: ABC News.

Hunter New England pop-up vax clinics

There will be a number of pop-up COVID-19 vaccination clinics in the Hunter New England region (Windale, Dungog, Toronto, Woodberry, Wallsend, West Wallsend, Cessnock and Medowie) from Wednesday 3 to Thursday 18 November 2021. If you are over 18 are six months past your second dose you can go along and get your booster at any of these pop-up clinics.

To view a flyer with pop-up clinic locations and times click here and if you require transport to a clinic, please call 0498 693 907.

pop-up vax clinic regional NSW

Pop-up vaccination clinic in regional NSW. Photoe: Lani Oataway, ABC Western Plains. Image source: ABC News.

Booster program will add to GP load

Central Coast doctor, Elly Warren, has backed calls from the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) for more help for GPs ahead of the rollout of COVID-19 booster shots from Monday 8 November 2021, amid fears the region’s medical practices will be overwhelmed.

Warren, who works at Yerin Aboriginal Health Services at Wyong one day a week said she was concerned that the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population of the Coast was still 25% behind the rest of the population in getting doubly vaccinated. She urged Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island people who have yet to be vaccinated to contact Yerin as a matter of urgency so they can be directed to the best outlet for vaccination ahead of the booster rollout.

As far as the booster program itself is concerned, she said more financial assistance and clearer communication were vital to its success so GPs in the north of the region aren’t swamped.

To view the full article in the Coast Community News click here.

Dr Elly Warren

Central Coast GP Elly Warren. Image source: Your Family Doctors at Erina.

What will and won’t prevent suicide

Two major reports on mental health and suicide released this week suggest two very different solutions to preventing suicides. One, from the House of Representatives Select Committee on Mental Health and Suicide Prevention, recommends putting more resources into the mental health workforce. This includes recruiting and training more health professionals. This might sound commendable, but the evidence shows this is unlikely to work.

The other report, from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) provides the latest data on suicide and self-harm. It makes no recommendations about preventing suicide, however, it identifies child abuse and neglect as a major modifiable risk factor for suicide right across the lifespan. This approach to preventing suicide, involving removing the underlying causes, has more evidence to back it, yet was barely mentioned in the select committee report.

To view The Conversation in full click here.

To view AIHW’s media release New insights into suicide and self-harm in Australia, including modifiable risk factors click here.

black silhouette of head exploding with scrunched balls of paper

Image source: eMedicineHealth website.

Aboriginal advisers to guide justice matters

Nine men and women who reflect WA’s diverse Aboriginal community have been chosen from across the State to join the Aboriginal Justice Advisory Committee (AJAC). The Committee will help identify and suggest improvements to initiatives, policies and strategies to help the Department of Justice achieve better outcomes for Aboriginal people.

Department of Justice Director General, Dr Adam Tomison, will chair the Committee with the support of Gina Hill, Director of Aboriginal Justice Transformation. Dr Tomison said establishing the AJAC was a key deliverable of the Department’s Reconciliation Action Plan 2018-2021, and “It will also greatly assist us in achieving justice targets under the National Agreement on Closing the Gap.”

Ms Hill said: “The AJAC members are established and emerging leaders in their communities and bring a breadth of knowledge about the justice system. “The Committee will help keep the Department connected, informed and highly responsive to the Aboriginal community on justice matters,” she said.

To view the WA Department of Justice media release in full click here.

Gina Hill, Director Aboriginal Justice Transformation & Dr Adam Tomison, Chair of Committee standing in front of large Aboriginal dot painting

Gina Hill, Director of Aboriginal Justice Transformation and Department of Justice Director General, Dr Adam Tomison, Chair AJAC.

Diabetes NSW & ACT First Nations Unit

The Diabetes NSW & ACT First Nations Unit is a committed and strong voice advocating for the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples living with and or at risk of diabetes. The First Nations Unit lobby state and federal governments to provide services for community, aligning with community recommendations and the National Diabetes Strategy. 

They work with community, health sectors and government agencies to develop and deliver community-centred support and education for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples living with diabetes, community, Health Workers and Health Professionals. To view Diabetes NSW & ACT First Nations Unit website, including details of the range of resources they offer click here.

logo text 'diabetes nsw & act' & blue letters 'a' & 'd' overlapping

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.

Yarrabah new health service opening

Yarrabah’s Gurriny Yealamucka Health Services will celebrate the official opening of their brand new, award-nominated facility for primary health and community outreach services from 11:30 AM-12:30 next Thursday 11 November 2021 from at Workshop Street, Yarrabah.

Board chair Les Baird said it will be good for the community. “It’s Aboriginal-mob friendly,” he said. “They can relax outside or inside while they are waiting, and I have observed people; they look very comfortable when they are at the new building.”

The building was designed by People Oriented Design with Coburn Architecture and is already nominated for a Sustainable Building Award.

You can contact Christin Howes on 0419 656 277 for more information.

external view of new Yarrabah health service

Gurriny Yealamucka Health and Wellbeing Centre. Image source: POD People Oriented Design website.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: ACCHOs going above and beyond to get mob vaccinated

ACCHOs going above and beyond to get mob vaccinated.

ACCHOs going above and beyond to get mob vaccinated

On Tuesday night, NACCHO Director of Communicable Diseases, Emily Phillips spoke to John Paul Janke and Narelda Jacobs on SBS NITV The Point about COVID-19 vaccination rates, vaccine hesitancy and complacency, and the lifting of borders and other restrictions.

“We have seen services go above and beyond to get our mob vaccinated. We’ve had door-to-door vaccinations, we’ve had vax-a-thons, we’ve had barbeques. Whatever it takes, our services on the ground are going to do,” said Phillips.

“It’s really important that people go out and get vaccinated.”

You can watch episode 27 of season 2021 here.
Phillips joins the program at 15 minutes and 36 seconds.

NACCHO Director of Communicable Diseases, Emily Phillips on The Point, NITV.

 

WA rolls up sleeves during football festival

South West Aboriginal Medical Service (SWAMS) attended the GWABA Aboriginal Football Festival in Bunbury on Saturday 30 October 2021 where they had a COVID-19 Vaccination Clinic set up. They offered COVID-19 vaccines and provided general information about their services and programs to community. Thank you to everyone who Rolled Up for WA!

SWAMS at GWABA Aboriginal Football Festival 2021

SWAMS with COVID-19 vaccination clinic at GWABA Aboriginal Football Festival 2021.

Congratulations to ACT Senior Australian of the Year nominee

The ACT Council of Social Service (ACTCOSS) today congratulated Julie Tongs OAM, CEO of Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health and Community Services, on her the nomination for the Senior Australian of the Year award.

Julie Tongs is one of the ACT’s most prominent and respected community leaders. She has worked in the CEO position at Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health and Community Services for more than 20 years, advocating for health care services to be delivered in a culturally appropriate way to improve health outcomes for Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander peoples.

ACTCOSS CEO, Dr Emma Campbell said: “Julie Tongs is an an incredible leader, service provider and campaigner for Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander peoples in the ACT and beyond. She is a fearless advocate for people who face inequality and injustice not only in the health services sector but also on issues including child protection, justice, housing and the other social determinants of health and wellbeing.”

You can read more about Ms Tongs nomination in the ACTCOSS media release here.

Julie Tongs OAM, CEO of Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health and Community Services,

Julie Tongs OAM, CEO of Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health and Community Services.

Only half of mob fully vaccinated

According to SBS News, just 50.4 per cent of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 16 and older have received two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine, while 63 per cent have gotten their first jab as of Wednesday 27 October 2021. Across the country, about 76 per cent of all over-16s are double-dosed and nearly 88 per cent have received one dose.

Concerns were raised after more than 200 Indigenous workers at remote community stores, mostly in the Northern Territory, were left unvaccinated two weeks out from the jurisdiction’s jab mandate deadline.

More than 20 Aboriginal leaders and health professionals have sought a meeting with Prime Minister Scott Morrison, and his ministers for health and Indigenous Australians.

There is alarm about the lack of “realistic or actionable contingency plans” to deal with outbreaks agreed to by Aboriginal community-controlled organisations and Indigenous experts.

“It is evident that quarantine is currently near-impossible for those in overcrowded housing, as well as those without ready access to food, grocery and pharmaceutical delivery services,” the letter said.

You can read the article in SBS News here.

Half of Australia's Indigenous population are now fully vaccinated. Source: AAP.

Half of Australia’s Indigenous population are now fully vaccinated. Source: AAP.

The impact of climate change for mob

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities are on the frontlines of the climate emergency, with record temperatures, drought, and loss of biodiversity compounding social and health inequities caused by more than 200 years of colonisation.

It was reported this week that a group of five young Australians, including Wiradjuri teenager, Ethan Lyons, have lodged three human rights complaints with the United Nations over the Morrison Government’s inaction in climate change. And Torres Strait Islander communities, fearful that their islands will be wiped out by sea level incursion and storm damage, have also filed a class action arguing that the Australian Government must cut greenhouse gas emissions by 74 percent.

Affordable, secure energy supply is a critical issue in places like Tennant Creek, where residents are seeing an increasing number of days above 40 degrees Celsius, and the inside temperature of some homes can soar as high as 60 degrees Celsius.

Reliable energy supply takes on added importance for many in the community who require reliable power to undergo kidney dialysis, including Nor­man Jupurrurla Frank, a Waru­mungu Tra­di­tion­al Own­er who requires dialysis three times a week.

“The seasons don’t really match with our climate in our Country how it used to be,” he said.

You can read the article in Croakey Health Media here.

Nor­man Jupurrurla Frank by an important ancestral waterhole, Gurna. Photo courtesy of Mr Jupurrurla. Photo source: Croakey Health Media.

Nor­man Jupurrurla Frank by an important ancestral waterhole, Gurna. Photo courtesy of Mr Jupurrurla. Photo source: Croakey Health Media.

Tackling Aboriginal youth suicide in WA

An expert in the field of Indigenous suicide prevention is optimistic about progress being made to tackle the high rates of suicide in young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in WA following a report by the WA Ombudsman Chris Field. The report was tabled in WA Parliament evaluating the progress towards recommendations made in his previous report on the topic from last year. The Ombudsman’s investigation, Preventing suicide by children and young people 2020, made mention of the disproportionately high rate of suicide within the Indigenous population and included seven recommendations. Two of the recommendations were specific to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Bardi woman and Director of the UWA Centre of Best Practice in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention, Pat Dudgeon welcomed the follow-up report.

“What I liked about it was that they’ve followed through, that there is some kind of continuation rather than do a report and then let it gather dust and forget the issues,” she said.

You can read the article in National Indigenous Times here.

Tackling Aboriginal youth suicide in WA

Tackling Aboriginal youth suicide in WA. Image source: National Indigenous Times.

Costs of accreditation standards for ACCOs

Who benefits from the maze of accreditation standards affecting the work of Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations (ACCOs)?

This critical question is raised in an article by Croakey Health Media. Written by Jenifer Darr, a Yuwi Vanuatu woman and researcher, it invites ACCOs to participate in research investigating the impacts of accreditation standards on their work.

Australia has a national network of more than 154 Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations (ACCOs) providing holistic primary healthcare wrap around services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Accreditation Standards are premised on supporting quality improvement in the work of ACCOs. However, the application of multiple, different standards represents a significant business expense for ACCOs.

You can ready the article in Croakey Health Media here.

torso of doctor in white coat hand on stethoscope around neck

Image source: Armidale Express.

Yarrabah’s digital health journey

Episode 8 of Build ‘Em Up is a special podcast with guest host, Jen Beer, a Darlot woman who works with regional and remote communities for nbnTM. We chatted with the team at the Gurriny Yealamucka (Gurriny) Health Service Aboriginal Corporation at Yarrabah in Far North Queensland – Chief Executive Sue Andrews and Medical Director Dr Jason King.

Themes included expanding the medical perspective of primary care to encompass social, spiritual and cultural health, as well as the health service’s digital journey to prioritise high quality services, information and data.

Build ‘Em Up, which is supported by nbnTM, is available here.

'Build 'Em Up' podcast episode 8.

 

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 Health News: COVID-19 fears for APY Lands

feature tile text 'fears APY Lands will be left to fend for themselves if covid-19 outbreak in Adelaide' & image of 3 Aboriginal youth on mountain looking out on APY Lands

Photo in feature tile: APY Land Council. Image source: SBS NITV.

COVID-19 fears for APY Lands

The general manager of SA’s Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) Lands is concerned remote communities will be “left to fend for themselves” in the event of an outbreak in Adelaide. The SA government intends to lift border restrictions on Tuesday 23 November, when 80% of residents are expected to be fully vaccinated.

The APY Lands have been subject to strict lockdowns every time there has been an outbreak in SA to avoid COVID-19 spreading to its vulnerable, isolated Indigenous population. “Our lockdowns are fairly intense, in that we close fuel [stations] to stop people moving, and the police also install roadblocks because [we don’t want] people travelling from one community and taking it to the next,” APY general manager Richard King said.

“If we do get major outbreaks all at once in Adelaide and it overwhelms the health services, the services are really going to be focused on urban populations,” Mr King said.

To view the ABC News article in full click here.

aerial view APY Lands

Only 61% of APY residents under 50 have received two doses of the vaccine. Photo: Carl Saville. Image source: ABC News.

Living with COVID-19 requires caution

The Consumers Health Forum has welcomed the Federal Government’s additional support for community-based care for COVID cases but urges Australians to take care as Australia transitions to ‘living with COVID’ arrangements.

“The easing of lockdowns and opening of borders mean that even with an overall decline in pandemic risks, significant challenges for both hospitals and primary care doctors and nurses in the community will continue. Consumers need to play their part in avoiding infection by continuing with sensible anti-COVID precautions,” the CEO of the Consumers Health Forum, Leanne Wells, said.

To view the CHF media release click here.

globe with mask surrounded by covid virus cells in red

Image source: Newshub website.

Aged care for mob best practice study

There is a growing number of older Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and an unmet demand for accessible, culturally safe aged care services. The principles and features of aged care service delivery designed to meet the unique needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples must be understood to inform aged care policy and primary health care planning into the future. Yet to date, this is an area that has not been extensively explored.

A recently published paper Aboriginal community-controlled aged care: principles, practices and actions to integrate with primary health care examines this particular topic.

For more information about the study click here.

The Kapululangu Aboriginal Women’s Law and Culture Centre in Balgo, WA, offers employment and care for elderly members of the community. Image source: Aged Care 101 website.

Future of dispensing discussion paper

The AMA has released The future of dispensing, a discussion paper on Australians having affordable and accessible medicines into the future, and it explores alternative dispensing models for medications. AMA President Dr Omar Khorshid said the discussion paper aims to consider how, where and why medicines are dispensed in Australia and to promote discussion among health professionals, doctors and consumers.

“The AMA earlier this year launched its Vision for Australia’s Healthwhich outlines a blueprint for the future of the Australian healthcare system that is based on the core principles of access, sustainability and patient empowerment that is led by medical practitioners,” he said. “To that end, a good starting point is to consider three simple questions: how, where and why do we dispense medicines in Australia?

“Pharmacists have and will continue to have a critical role in the provision of health care in Australia, and we want to ensure we are making the best use of our highly-trained pharmacist workforce. We need to separate out issues around the business of owning pharmacies, as opposed to the role of pharmacists in general, and to restart the discussion about who can own pharmacies, and where they are located.”

To view the AMA’s media release in full click here.

3 staff at chemist prescription desk

Wizard Pharmacy Kalgoorlie Central. Image source: AJP.com.au.

More rural renal services for Queensland

Infrastructure upgrades at Ingham and Charters Towers Hospitals will deliver eight renal chairs to bring care closer to home for patients receiving haemodialysis for renal failure and kidney disease.

The new chairs are being funded through a $4 million injection of funds from the Queensland Government’s Rural and Regional Renal Program. Minister for Health and Ambulance Services Yvette D’Ath said ‘‘Patients in Charters Towers and Ingham currently travel up to an hour and a half for a four to five-hour treatment session at Townsville University Hospital. These brand-new, four-chair units will relieve the pressure of disruptive travel on patients living with renal failure and kidney disease and their families.”

Minister D’Ath said establishing these units in rural communities would further the Queensland Government’s commitment to Closing the Gap.

To view the Minister D’Ath’s media release in full click here.

3 Aboriginal women receiving dialysis

Patients in the dialysis unit at Gurriny Yealamucka Health Services Aboriginal Corporation, Yarrabah, Qld. Back-front: Shanelle Graham, Millicent Smith, Myrtle Barkley. Image source: Cairns Local News.

Nor Mor Smok program

Nor Mor Smok is a program run by Torres Health Indigenous Corporation with the aim of reducing smoking rates across the Torres Strait region. The program includes elements such as:

  • the Yumi Kazi program for pregnant mothers and growing families
  • a women’s program for girls and women of all ages
  • a men’s program for boys and men of all ages
  • a youth program for all children aged 11 to 18 years.

Nor Mor Smok is funded under the national Tackling Indigenous Smoking Tackling Indigenous Smoking program.

For more information about the Nor Mor Smok program click here.

Youth suicide attempt aftercare services

Children and young people living in Western Sydney and the Mid-North Coast engaging in serious self-harming behaviour or having ongoing thoughts of suicide can now access practical, non-clinical support in their communities to help their recovery.

Minister for Mental Health Bronnie Taylor said the newly opened Blacktown and Coffs Harbour-based services are part of an innovative trial of child and youth-specific Aftercare services by the NSW and Commonwealth Governments. “Coming out of acute care can be really overwhelming, so it is critical to connect these vulnerable young people with the right support outside of the hospital setting so they can reconnect and reengage with their family, friends and community,” Mrs Taylor said.

To view the media release in full click here.

hand being held in another's hands

Image source: Black Dog Institute.

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.

University entry courses info session

The University of Melbourne’s Department of Rural Health is holding an information session for those who would like to know more about its unique courses that can provide an entry to University for those with experience working in Aboriginal health and/or community development.

The information session will explain what the Specialist Certificate in Empowering Health in Aboriginal Communities will involve, pathways for further study, and support with studying.  During the information session you canmeet the teaching staff and some of the current students and ask questions you might have.

To register for the information session at 4:00 PM (AEDT) Tuesday 16 November 2021 click here.

Image source: University of Melbourne website.

Project ECHO info session

Children’s Health QLD HHS is excited to announce that our Project ECHO hub is supporting the launch and delivery of a new virtual and interactive learning network focused on the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander kids throughout Queensland.

Project ECHO is a model used to deliver interactive, online, collaborative case-based learning for free. Professionals from all streams, sectors and settings, caring for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander kids are most welcome to attend the information session.

You can register here to attend the information session to be held from12:00 PM-1:00 PM Tuesday 23 November.

For more information on Project ECHO, you can visit their website here and If you have any questions or concerns, you can email the ECHO team here.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Vax rollout to WA mob continues to suffer

feature tile text 'WA ACCHOs work to break through COVID-19 vaccine misinformation' & image of road sign with kms to Fitzroy Crossing etc

Vax rollout to WA mob continues to suffer

The vaccine rollout to WA mob continues to suffer as Aboriginal Medical Services work to break through misinformation about the vaccine. The Federal Health Department’s weekly breakdown of Indigenous COVID-19 vaccination data by geographical area shows that nine of the nation’s 16 least vaccinated regions are in WA.

The State’s highest vaccination rate for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people is in the inner suburbs of Perth, where 49.25% of those eligible have received their first jab and 36% have received a second.

However, it’s WA’s south-west, the Bunbury region, that’s the next most vaccinated area in the State. In the region, 37.28% of eligible Indigenous people have received one vaccine dose, and 24% are double jabbed. Those numbers lift the south-west above any of Perth’s outer suburbs, Mandurah, the Wheatbelt and the far Outback areas – regions which have the lowest rate of vaccination anywhere in the nation.

Lesley Nelson is the CEO of the South West Aboriginal Medical Service (SWAMS), which provides medical services to mob throughout the region. Despite the south-west leading most of Perth’s metro areas for vaccination rates, Ms Nelson is still deeply concerned that there aren’t enough vaccines in arms. “We’ve had good uptake in Bunbury, but we are still well behind the goal of 80%,” she said.

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

5 female SWAMS staff standing in line in front of large tree

SWAMS staff. Image source: National Indigenous Times.

QLD borders open without community consultation

The Queensland Aboriginal and Islander Health Council (QAIHC) Chair, Matthew Cooke expressed ‘profound disappointment’ that the state government had not consulted with the Indigenous community before setting a date to open the state’s borders.

The state’s borders are set to open to domestic travellers at 70% vaccination, expected on 19 November 2021. As of October 20, Indigenous vaccination rates in Queensland sits at 40% with a single dose of a vaccine and 30% double dosed, with the general population at 58% and 73% respectively.

Cooke called for an urgent meeting with the Premier to address the impact that reopening would have on Indigenous people, who are vaccinated at a rate 30% lower than the general population. “She didn’t even consult her own Chief Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Officer before releasing that new COVID vaccine plan for Queensland and setting the date on opening borders, and she has not reached out to the peak health body in Queensland for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health,” he said.

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

QAIHC Chair Matthew Cooke.

Top 3 vax questions answered

Dr Lucas De Toca, COVID-19 Primary Care Response First Assistant Secretary, Department of Health (DoH) has answered the Top Three questions received across DoH channels:

  1. What is Ronapreve and how can it help treat COVID-19?
  2. My child is feeling anxious after lockdown, how can I best support them as they return to school?
  3. If I need one, how long do I need to wait before I can receive a third COVID-19 vaccine dose and where can I get one?

You can listen to Dr Lucas De Toca answering these questions in the below video and access a transcript of the video here.

ACT resists compulsory vax for prison staff

The ACT government is resisting compulsory COVID-19 vaccinations for staff at Canberra’s prison despite calls for a jab mandate from an Indigenous health leader.

“We acknowledge in the ACT public service that the AMC is an example of a high risk setting, if we were going to consider such a measure,” ACT health minister Ms Stephen-Smith told the ABC. “But it is very different to disability support work or healthcare work or residential aged care in that correctional services officers are not providing close personal care to detainees.”

Julie Tongs, the CEO of Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health Service, threw her support behind the ACT’s jab mandate for all healthcare workers, earlier this month. But says the mandate doesn’t go far enough and is calling for all prison officers and detention staff be vaccinated.

“I have been advocating since the very beginning of the COVID pandemic for special measures to be adopted to ensure that people detained in the AMC and other places of detention in the ACT, namely Bimberi and Dhuwal, to be accorded the highest possible levels of protection against the virus,” Ms Tongs says.

To view the CanberraCity News article in full click here.

image of inside of Alexander Maconochie Centre

Alexander Maconochie Centre. Image source: ABC News.

Pharmacist reconciliation journey continues

A group of companies have had the first meeting of the Reconciliation Action Plan Health Industry Network. The new network has been formed out of the Pharma Australia Industry Group (PAIG) and currently includes over 20 companies from the pharmaceutical and medical technology sectors.

The goal is to create a regular forum for sharing lessons and learnings between organisations on their own reconciliation journey. Fiona Sheppard, the co-chair of PAIG and diversity, equity and inclusion Leader at J&J, helped establish the new RAP Health Industry Network after receiving positive feedback on the PAIG sessions focused
on reconciliation.

“Across the industry, we are all at different stages of our reconciliation journey. Through this collaborative network, we hope organisations across the pharmaceutical and medical device industries can have open discussions, share knowledge and reflect on learnings to help each other progress meaningful action around reconciliation with Indigenous communities,” she said.

To view the BioPharmaDispatch media release in full click here.

Image source: Retail Pharmacy.

A man for the mob

Dedicated to community and built for opportunity, Indigenous business Minbaringu Services is making a difference through what they do and who they are. Operating in the Pilbara, Minbaringu provides electrical services; heating, ventilation, air conditioning (HVAC); PV solar power; and environmental and waste management services.

Minbaringu is led by director Richard Walker, who leads by example with his strong values on Indigenous employment and community connection. A man with a passion for mob and Country, he has maternal and paternal links to Ngarluma and Ngamal communities.  “I didn’t want to bring kids in, chew them up and spit them out. Now, Minbaringu is Indigenous-owned, and we have Indigenous tradies working for us,” he said.

“One of the biggest things for me with the business is how we support the community, particularly with mental health and youth suicide,” he said. “We want that big brother relationship; it doesn’t have to be getting involved in their personal business but it’s making sure support is there. We know that if we do this internally, that flows our into their communities, and their families.”

“I lost a couple of close friends and a family relative to youth suicide. That really shook me and affected me when I was a young fella,” he said. “I’ve lost too many friends. I’ve lost too many people to this. I want to make a change.”

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

Minbaringu Director Richard Walker sitting on stump in grass field, town in background

Minibaringu Director Richard Walker. Image source: National Indigenous times.

New camp kitchen for healing camp program

Shields for Living, Tools for Life cultural healing camps are a genuine alternative to youth in NT detention. Thanks to donors who have contributed to a funding campaign for CAASE’s bush kitchen trailer, the target $50,000 has been raised.

We are enlisting the support of the youth in detention to create artwork to personalise the bush kitchen and take on their cultural healing camps on Country!! The bush kitchen will provide a mobile home – kitchen and camper and shade shelter – catering for bush food and cold foods.

The CASSE team is very excited to hit the road with this bush kitchen next year. We have up to a dozen country camps to deliver on Country in five remote communities and some day camps at Desert Knowledge Australia (DKA). The bush kitchen will be stationed like a mobile cafeteria!

To view the story in full click here.

old camp kitchen, new trailer kitchen

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.

Children’s Week 2021

Children’s Week is an annual event celebrated in Australia held around the fourth Wednesday in October. In 1996 it was decided to adopt a permanent theme: “A Caring World Shares” as a reflection of Children’s Week aims while at the same time acknowledging the designated year on national posters and other printed materials.

Children’s Week celebrates the right of children to enjoy childhood. It is also a time for children to demonstrate their talents, skills and abilities. Thousands of children and their families around the country are involved in activities and events during “The Week” through the participation of schools, playgroups, childcare, kindergartens, cultural groups, libraries, departments and community groups.

The Children’s Week National Theme for 2021 is: Children have the right to choose their own friends and safely connect with others.

Children’s Week 2021 will be held between Saturday 23 October – Sunday 31 October 2021.

For more information about Children’s week click here.

group of Aboriginal children & Children's Week logo vector world with 4 children

Indigenous kids at Nhulunbuy, NT. Image source: Huffpost.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Racism, a significant health determinant

feature tile text 'mental and physical health significantly impacted by racism' & black and white image of Aboriginal woman overlaid with text 'racism makes me sick'

Image in feature tile: IndigenousX Twitter.

Racism, a significant health determinant

The research paper Impact of racism and discrimination on physical and mental health among Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander peoples living in Australia: a systematic scoping review says racism is increasingly recognised as a significant health determinant that contributes to health inequalities.

In Australia efforts have been made to bridge the recognised health gap between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and other Australians. This systematic scoping review aimed to assess, synthesise, and analyse the evidence in Australia about the impacts of racism on the mental and physical health of Aboriginal and Torrens Strait Islander peoples.

Racism is associated with negative overall mental and negative general health outcomes among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Strategies to prevent all forms and sources of racism are necessary to move forward to bridging the health gap between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and non-Indigenous Australians. Further research is needed to understand in more detail the impact of racism from an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander definition of health and wellbeing.

To view the full article click here.

cut out of paper people different colours holding hands in a circle

Image source: AMA website.

Sepsis costs more than breast and lung cancer

A new report commissioned by The George Institute for Global Health estimates that the total annual cost of sepsis in Australia is $4.8bn with direct hospital costs accounting for $700m a year. This compares to direct hospital costs of $642m for breast and lung cancer combined.

The George Institute’s Professor Simon Finfer, past chair of the Council of the International Sepsis Forum, and Vice President of the Global Sepsis Alliance said “Despite the fact that more than 18,000 Australians are treated for sepsis in Intensive Care each year and as many as 5,000 of these will die, awareness of sepsis is low compared to other conditions that are less costly for hospitals to manage.”

“Given that four in five cases start outside hospital, being able to recognise the point where a seemingly simple infection is developing into life-threatening sepsis is crucial, as accessing the right medical care quickly is vital to minimising the significant long-term consequences.” With leading global experts recently recognising that patients critically ill with COVID-19 have viral sepsis, the picture is likely to look much worse as the global pandemic progresses.

To view the full article click here.

gloved hand holding petri dish of sepsis growth

Image source: The University of Chicago website.

The following article First population level study to assess the incidence and outcomes of sepsis in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australiansclick here.

gloved hand touching patient's hand, patient lying in hospital bed

Image source: ABC News.

Cultural Safety and Wellbeing Evidence Review

The NSW Department of Communities and Justice (DCJ) has commissioned an evidence review on cultural safety and wellbeing for Aboriginal children, young people, families and communities in early intervention services.

Gamarada Universal Indigenous Resources Pty Ltd (GUIR) is undertaking this work, in partnership with the Social Policy Research Centre, UNSW. The need for this evidence review was identified in a forum with Aboriginal Targeted Earlier Intervention service providers earlier this year when GUIR presented its findings from an evidence review on preventing child maltreatment. Providers highlighted that cultural wellbeing and safety is a critical part of service delivery and lack of cultural safety, racism and fear are main barriers to accessing essential services.

The findings from this evidence review will be embedded into the content on the (DCJ) Evidence Portal currently under development. The Evidence Portal will then assist service providers to find and implement culturally safe and inclusive activities and services for Aboriginal children, young people, families, and communities.

As part of the review, GUIR has sought contributions from Aboriginal service providers and organisations who work with Aboriginal families and communities to ensure the review reflects service providers’ experience designing and delivering culturally safe services.

You can visit the DCJ website for more information here.

painting of silhouette of child looking out of window to Aboriginal family in bush setting

Artwork by Charmaine Mumbulla, Mumbulla Creative. Image source: Family is Culture website.

Transparency of Aboriginal health research needed

Indigenous health researchers Dr Roxanne Bainbridge, Dr Veronica Matthews,  Dr Janine Mohamed and Associate Professor Megan Williams have written to the editor of The Medical Journal of Australia (MJA) arguing the need to enhance the ability to efficiently distinguish Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander scholarship in health research.

The letter to the MJA editors claims persistent health disparities between Indigenous and other Australians signal the ineffectiveness of allegedly well intentioned policy and research that have largely produced deficit‐focused research, describing the extent of the problem rather than being driven by the priorities and solutions of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. Institutions are now acknowledging that to close the gap in health disparities, “Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people must determine, drive and own the desired outcomes”.

Although Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander researchers are more often leading the way in key health system domains, such as research ethics, education and effective community‐based research, there is currently no systematic way of identifying their scholarship in the peer‐reviewed literature. The authors of the letter point out the need to develop strategies to rectify and improve transparency of Indigenous health research.

This would enhance the ability to efficiently distinguish Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander scholarship, increasing the visibility of Aboriginal and Torres Strait knowledges and perspectives in research and translation, thereby improving the transparency of academic literature to guide decisions about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and wellbeing.

To read the letter to the MJA editor in full click here.

ATSI health researchers

Image source: The University of Melbourne website.

$21m for NSW Aboriginal mental health workforce

The NSW Government is investing $21 million to expand the Aboriginal mental health and suicide prevention workforce as part of $131 million mental health recovery package. Minister for Mental Health Bronnie Taylor said the lockdown has exacerbated underlying mental health conditions and added to people’s distress levels, especially among groups known to be at greater risk of suicide.

“As we return to doing the things we love with the people we love, we want to make sure that no-one is left behind,” Mrs Taylor said. “We know that mental health issues and thoughts of suicide can emerge in the weeks, months and years after a trauma, so our focus over the next two years is connecting people with the most appropriate services and support as early as possible.”

To view the media release in full click here.

Image source: Curtin University.

Enhancing Aboriginal homelessness services

Aboriginal people experiencing homelessness or at risk of homelessness will receive better support under a $12 million NSW Government plan to boost the capacity of Aboriginal Controlled Community Organisations (ACCOs). Minister for Families, Communities and Disability Services Alister Henskens said the Aboriginal Homelessness Sector Growth project will lead to more ACCOs delivering quality services and support to vulnerable people.

“The NSW Government is investing close to $300 million in homelessness services and this project builds on that record funding to address issues in Aboriginal communities,” Mr Henskens said. “The initiative aims to prevent and respond to homelessness by enhancing services and support by Aboriginal people for Aboriginal people in Southern NSW, Western Sydney and the New England region.

To view the media release in full click here.

palms holding cardboard cutout of house with Aboriginal flag

Image source: NITV website.

New dashboards monitor medication safety

A collaboration with the University of Queensland, Queensland’s Metro North Health and Queensland Health, Enhanced data extraction and modelling from electronic medical records and phenotyping for clinical care and research, is an exciting project which has recently achieved a significant milestone.

This digital health research project is focused on developing a new, efficient capability for data extraction from electronic medical records, starting with Queensland’s integrated electronic Medical Record (ieMR). Two dashboards, developed to monitor opioid prescribing and insulin safety, have now been commissioned and in production for use at Australia’s newest digital hospital, Surgical Treatment and Rehabilitation Service (STARS).

Associate Professor Clair Sullivan, lead researcher from the Queensland Digital Health Research Network at the Centre for Health Services Research, The University of Queensland (UQ) is excited about the potential for this research to significantly reduce medication errors, “Medication errors are a leading cause of injury and harm across the Australian healthcare system and reducing these is a priority for all healthcare providers. Digital health is our most powerful tool in this important mission.”

Using live analytics is essential when it comes to prioritising patient care and shifting from the current ‘break-fix healthcare model to a more sustainable ‘predict-prevent’ model. This project will pioneer this more desirable and constructive approach to healthcare and aims to pave the way for Australian hospitals to increase their efficiency and improve patient care outcomes.

For more information click here.

hands using iPad

Image source: Digital Health CRC website.

New process for job advertising

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

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

World Stroke Day

World Stroke Day is an opportunity to raise awareness of the serious nature and high rates of stroke and talk about ways in which we can reduce the burden of stroke through better public awareness of the risk factors and signs of stroke. It is also an opportunity to advocate for action by decision makers at global, regional and national levels that are essential to improve stroke prevention, access to acute treatment and support for survivors and caregivers.

For 2021 and 2022 the World Stroke Day campaign will be focused on raising awareness of the signs of stroke and the need for timely access to quality stroke treatment.

For more information click here.

On World Stroke Day, Stroke Foundation Australia is reminding the community that despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, seeking urgent medial help is essential. It can save lives! Stroke attacks the brain and is always a time-critical medical emergency.

Stroke Foundation is inviting you to celebrate World Stroke Day by joining their Facebook Live chat with StrokeSafe Speaker and Associate Professor Caleb Ferguson to learn about the benefits of knowing the signs of stroke and acting FAST after a stroke.

12:00 PM EST – Friday 29th October – click here to RSVP to the event.banner text 'learn the signs of a stroke - precious minutes'

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Mob think they’re immune, they’re not

Mob think they’re immune, they’re not

The full lockdown of remote Aboriginal communities during the first wave of the pandemic was “too successful” and now many Indigenous people believe COVID-19 will never reach them, according to evidence to a select committee on Australia‘s response to the virus.

Pat Turner, who represents Aboriginal health clinics across Australia as head of NACCHO, has offered the most comprehensive explanation yet for why so few Indigenous Australians are vaccinated against COVID-19. Ms Turner told the select committee she was deeply concerned about the consequences for Indigenous Australians when the nation opened up because only 37% of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population over the age of 12 was fully vaccinated. Only 50% had received one dose. Aboriginal people had died at twice the rate of non-Aboriginal Australians during the Delta outbreak in NSW and Victoria, Ms Turner said. Up until 16 June only 153 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people had contracted COVID-19 and none of them had died.

However, since the outbreak of the Delta strain in NSW and Victoria, more than 4,500 Indigenous people had tested positive to COVID-19, more than 500 of them have required hospitalisation and 10 had died. Ms Turner said this was entirely predictable given that higher proportions of Indigenous people are susceptible to falling seriously ill and dying from Covid-19 because they have developed chronic disease early in life. Also, one in eight Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people live in overcrowded housing which helps the virus spread. Overcrowding is far worse in regional and remote areas, she told the select committee. Ms Turner said her organisation had told parliament in July last year that if COVID-19 got into the far western community of Wilcannia it would be impossible to contain, and that is what happened.

Ms Turner said, vaccine hesitancy and misinformation were causing big problems in Aboriginal communities in WA, the NT, SA  and Queensland. Health workers were now going door to door to answer Aboriginal people‘s questions about the vaccines. While there, they vaccinate those who are willing. “They think it‘s not going to get there, so we are increasing our advice to them about how rapidly it spread from greater Sydney to Wilcannia,” Ms Turner told the select committee. She said states and the NT must organise contingency plans for Aboriginal communities. She said locking down remote communities at the start of the pandemic was successful but it would not work once Australia opened its borders. “I think we were too successful (during the first lockdowns of remote Aboriginal communities),” Ms Turner said. “They think they‘re immune to COVID-19, but they’re not.”

To view the full article in The Australian click here.

Pat Turner AM. Image source: National Indigenous Times.

VACCHO launches medical cadet program

VACCHO has launched a new and innovative Aboriginal Medical Cadet Program. A first for VACCHO, the specialised program offers a life-changing opportunity through the two-year Medical Cadetship for a number of medical students from Victoria. It will see cadets develop their skills and knowledge by gaining hands-on experience in a real-life setting working as highly valued contributing member of an Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (ACCHO).

VACCHO CEO Jill Gallagher AO says the Aboriginal Medical Cadet Program presents an exciting and unique opportunity for members, the cadets, and most importantly community. “Over the last 18 months we have seen ACCHOs play a critical role in the protection of our community against COVID – and this cadet program will be instrumental in inspiring the next generation of medical practitioners in this sector.”

Ms Monica Barolits-McCabe, CEO, Australian Indigenous Doctors’ Association (AIDA) has also welcomed the program. “This program will encourage more Indigenous medical students to return to work in the ACCHO sector when they graduate as doctors. Aboriginal community controlled health services understand the comprehensive needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients and Indigenous doctors’ unique medico-cultural skills can complement those services very effectively.”

Applications for the Aboriginal Medical Cadet Program are now open and will close on Sunday 24 October 2021.

To view VACCHO’s media release, including details on how to submit an application for the Aboriginal Medical Cadet Program click here.

Gayaa Dhuwi suicide prevention strategy

Gayaa Dhuwi (Proud Spirit) Australia is inviting you to attend the virtual launch of the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Strategy 2021-2031 on Friday 22 October 2021 at 3:00pm AEDT.

In early 2020, the Commonwealth Government tasked Gayaa Dhuwi (Proud Spirit) Australia to renew the 2013 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Strategy. Extensive consultation with governments, stakeholders and community members over the past 12 months contributed to the renewed National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Strategy 2021-2031.

To attend the launch, please register here.

tile text 'National A&TSI suicide prevention strategy 2021-2031 virtual launch Frid 22 October 2021 3:00 PM AEDT' with Aboriginal dot art border in black, yellow, white, orange

It’s in our cultures to protect each other

Nayuka Gorrie, a Kurnai/Gunai, Gunditjmara, Wiradjuri and Yorta Yorta freelance writer. has written an article Why vaccination presents an ethical dilemma for us, but remains the best way to keep our families safe.

In writing about getting the COVID-19 vaccine Nayuka says “So much is uncertain but what I do know is: I am surrounded by people who would become very sick and possibly die if they got COVID-19 and I’m not sure how I would live carrying that guilt. I also trust our community health services who are trying their best to keep us alive and well in a hostile colony.”

“I wrote to a friend a few weeks ago who was watching Covid-19 sweep its way across her Gomeroi country. I wrote that the way our community cares for each other is our greatest strength right now. Where white culture leaves their most vulnerable behind, it is in our cultures to protect each other to ensure our survival. Right now, with the information we have, we are all we have to keep each other safe.”

To view the story in IndigenousX in full click here.

vector images of covid-19 vax & diagram of people in circles linked to other people

Image source: IndigenousX.

Role of AHWs in administering vax

The COVID-19 pandemic has devastated communities throughout the world and has required rapid paradigm changes in the manner in which health care is administered.

Previous health models and practices have been modified and changed at a rapid pace. The Rural and Remote Health section of James Cook University has published a paper detailing the experiences of a regional Victorian ACCHO in a COVID-19 vaccination program led and managed by Aboriginal Health Practitioners.

To view the paper in full click here.

Image source: The Medical Journal of Australia.

RHIF funding for VIC ACCHOs

The Regional Health Infrastructure Fund (RHIF) provides government funding to rural and regional health services and agencies across Victoria so these services can continue to provide safe and efficient care to local communities.

Established in 2016, the $490 million fund is the largest program of its type in Victoria and was created to improve:

  • safety and quality of services
  • enhance service capacity
  • efficient models of care
  • patient and staff amenity
  • service efficiency.

Seventy-nine health services will share $120 million in funding from the fifth round of the Regional Health Infrastructure Fund (RHIF), including ACCHOs Bendigo and District Aboriginal Co-operative Ltd and Gunditjmara Aboriginal Co-operative Limited. You can see the full recipient listing here.

Gunditjmara Aboriginal Co-operative will also receive over $35,000 through the Supporting Carers Locally Grants Program. This program provides opportunities for carers to be physically and mentally healthy and connect with family, friends, other carers and their local community – whether through accessible peer support, grassroots community support programs or tailored resources. To view an article about this grant click here.

Suicide and self-harm monitoring website

The latest AIHW release Suicide and Self-harm monitoring website (new ambulance attendance data and social factors and deaths by suicide modelling) is now This release includes new data relating to: ambulance attendances for suicide attempts, suicidal ideation, and self-injury, and a modelling study on the association between socioeconomic factors and deaths by suicide using the MADIP linked data asset.

The reporting of suicide and self-harm statistics and information on the AIHW website represents only one part of the National Suicide and Self-harm Monitoring Project. The web-based format for Suicide and self-harm monitoring includes interactive data visualisations and geospatial mapping to illustrate and explore the statistics as well as text to assist with their interpretation and clarification of the limitations of the data.

To view the media release in full click here.

Draft PHC 10 Year Plan opens for consultation

The Australian government is calling for stakeholder input following the opening of the consultation period for the draft Primary Health Care 10 Year Plan.

The focus of the 10 Year Plan is on Australia’s primary health care (PHC) services provided through general practices, Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations (ACCHOs), community pharmacies, allied health services, mental health services, community health and community nursing services and dental and oral health services. The Plan also focuses on the integration of PHC with hospitals and other parts of the health system, aged care, disability care and social care systems.

You can now provide feedback on the draft plan, and individuals and organisations with an interest in primary health care and what a future focused system can deliver for all Australians are encouraged to share their views.  Written submissions can be provided until 11:59 PM Tuesday 9 November 2021 here.

For more information on the consultation process click here.

AMA Vice President Dr Chris Moy spoke on Channel 10 talking about the PHC 10-Year Plan. To view a transcript of the Dr Moy’s interview click here.

Danila Dilba health worker checking child's ear

Image source: RTR FM92.1 website.

Outback Stores lead way on vax

As the Delta strain of COVID-19 continues to threaten remote communities, Outback Stores recognises that being vaccinated is one of the key contributing factors to saving lives and reducing the likelihood of spreading the virus to others.

The company’s CEO, Michael Borg, acknowledges the importance and understands the crucial role the company can play in safeguarding the health of customers and employees in the 44 retail sites for which Outback Stores manages on behalf of their owners. “In the anticipation of vaccinations becoming mandated, Outback Stores has been working for some time towards 100% vaccination of its front-line employees,” Mr Borg said. “We currently have 109 team members either based in or visiting remote communities regularly, and I can report that they are all double-vaccinated.”

To view the Outback Stores media release in full click here.

6 Ngukurr Outback Stores staff with certificates standing in front of wall refrigerators

Outback Stores Ngukurr store workers.

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.

Global Handwashing Day

Today, 15 October 2021 is Global Handwashing Day, a global advocacy day dedicated to increasing awareness and understanding about the importance of handwashing with soap as an effective and affordable way to prevent diseases and save lives. It is an opportunity to design, test and replicate creative ways to encourage people to wash their hands with soap at critical times.

This unprecedented time provides a unique impetus to institutionalise hand hygiene as a fundamental component of health and safety. The learnings from the past year have emphasised the need for collective action to address the historic neglect of hand hygiene investments, policies, and programs once and for all. This year’s theme, Our Future is at Hand – Let’s Move Forward Together calls for coordinated action as we actively work toward universal hand hygiene.

A example of a creative way in the ACCHO sector of encouraging handwashing is the No germs on me: A social marketing campaign to promote hand-washing with soap in remote Australian Aboriginal communities. This social marketing campaign promoting handwashing with soap was implemented to reduce the high burden of infection experienced by Australian Aboriginal children living in remote communities.

For more information about Global Handwashing Day click here and to view a paper on the No germs on me campaign click here.