NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Protecting fontline workers against COVID

Feature tile - Fri 11.6.21 - Protect frontline workers against COVID

Protecting frontline workers against COVID

The Australian Medical Association (AMA) today welcomed the release of updated guidelines on the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) to protect health care workers against aerosol transmission of COVID-19.

The Infection Control Expert Group (ICEG) developed the guidelines in collaboration with the National COVID-19 Clinical Evidence Taskforce Infection Prevention and Control Panel and the Commonwealth Minister for Health in September last year after the AMA expressed its concerns over the lack of protection for health care workers from the risks of aerosol transmission of COVID-19.

AMA President Dr Omar Khorshid said the updated guidelines did much to address the concerns of the medical profession and they were much more explicit on the need for health care workers to be provided with N95/P2 masks when managing patients with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 to protect them against the risks of aerosol transmission.

“Too many health care workers in Australia have been placed at risk of COVID-19 because of the lack of adequate PPE and these new guidelines could not have come soon enough, particularly as Australia still remains at significant risk of outbreaks,” said Dr Khorshid

The updated ICEG guidelines follow the release by the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care of an update to its Preventing and Controlling .Infections Standard, which were reviewed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Red the media release by AMA here.

Personal Protective Equipment. Image credit: https://infectioncontrol.care/blog/what-is-ppe.

Personal Protective Equipment. Image credit: https://infectioncontrol.care/blog/what-is-ppe. Feature image – Dr Glenn Harrison in PPE. Image credit: The Royal Melbourne Hospital.

 

Praise for Moree COVID-19 testing rates

More than 900 people have been tested for COVID-19 in Moree within 12 hours, with Hunter New England Health (HNEH) thanking people for their response. The numbers through the expanded hospital and drive through clinics in Moree is a credit to both the community and the medical staff, HNE LHD Chief Executive Mr Michael DiRienzo said.

It comes after residents were told to hold-off on attending the pop-up COVID-19 testing site on Thursday, due to the high number of vehicles at the Moree Gateway. However Mr Di Lorenzo assured the community that Moree District Hospital and Laverty Moree “have swabbing supplies and are not turning people away”.

“I want to sincerely thank the Moree community for quickly getting behind our call to get tested,” he said.

High rates of testing are so important because this will help us to detect any cases in the community as early as possible. Please remain vigilant for COVID-19 symptoms and get tested for even the mildest of symptoms.”

You can read the full story in Tenterfield Star here.

Moree District Health Service. Image credit: Tenterfield Star.

Moree District Health Service. Image credit: Tenterfield Star.

Experiences and impacts of racism on GP training

Dr Talila Milroy jumped at the chance to undertake the Australian Indigenous Doctors’ Association (AIDA) Academic Post in 2020. The Western Australian GP was always interested in developing and furthering general practice research, and the post allowed a structured framework to delve into the data.

Now, having undertaken a year as the 2020 AIDA Academic Post holder, Dr Milroy is continuing her part-time research role and furthering her study into the experiences and impacts of racism on general practice training.

You develop so many skills, not only in research but in teaching as well,” she told newsGP.

‘It’s also the networking; you gain communication skills because you’re teaching medical students, and you get more of a grasp of how to design research and ask questions that are clinically relevant, useful and translatable.’

The AIDA post was first earmarked by the Department of Health as part of the Federal Government’s Closing the Gap strategy. The post is an identified training term open to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander GPs in training to undertake teaching and research that aims to improve the health and life outcomes of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Read more about Dr Milroy’s experience in newsGP here.

Applications are now open for the 2022 intake of the RACGP Australian General Practice Training Academic Post with entries closing on 5 July. Find out more here.

Dr Talila Milroy, 2020 AIDA Academic Post holder. Image credit: GP News, RACGP.

Dr Talila Milroy, 2020 AIDA Academic Post holder. Image credit: GP News, RACGP.

Improve the health and wellbeing of LGBTQA+ mob

Walkern Katatdjin is looking for people who are committed to improving the health and wellbeing of young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander LGBTQA+ mob to join the Walkern Katatdjin Governance Committee.

The Walkern Katatdjin (Rainbow Knowledge) project aims to improve the support available to our young mob through research. The Governance Committee will oversee the Walkern Katatdjin project design, procedures, data management, and translation of findings to ensure meaningful impacts from the project.

Find out more about the role of the Governance Committee and the Walkern Katatdjin project here.

Walkern Katatdjin - Rainbow Knowledge

 

Decision Making and Symptom Control in Kidney Failure

Health Professional Webinar
Kidney Health Australia

Presented by Prof Robyn Langham, Nephrologist

Tuesday 22 June, 7.30pm (AEST)
Register here (registration is essential)
For more information contact us via email.

Decision Making and Symptom Control in Kidney Failure - Kidney Health Australia webinar

Improved quality aged care

‘Improving outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in aged care’

This webinar will outline how the aged care reforms will improve access to and quality of aged care delivered to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples including in remote communities.

Presenters

  • The Hon Greg Hunt, Minister for Health and Aged Care
  • Senator the Hon Richard Colbeck, Minister for Senior Australians and Aged Care Services
  • Michael Lye, Deputy Secretary, Ageing and Aged Care Group
  • Helen Grinbergs, First Assistant Secretary, Service Delivery Division
  • Eliza Strapp, First Assistant Secretary, Market and Workforce Division

Webinar content

Aged care workers and providers who deliver services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are encouraged to participate in the webinar.

The webinar will outline how the aged care reforms will help to:

  • involve Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in designing their services and care
  • ensure services and care are available to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people no matter where they live
  • enhance the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander aged care workforce.

You will have the opportunity to say how we can best work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, families, carers and communities, health services, aged care providers and the workforce to make positive changes.

Date and time: 3.00pm to 4.30pm (AEST), Monday, July 19 2021.
Register here.
4 Aboriginal hands holding another Aboriginal hand

Image source: ORIC website.

Presenter Applications Open for Inaugural 2021 Indigenous Wellbeing Conference

Statistics show Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have significantly higher mental health needs than other Australians and experience psychological distress at around 3x the rate of the non-Indigenous population. We see similar numbers across the seas, with Māori and Pasifika populations carrying the highest burden of suicide with higher incidences.

It is time to speak up, be heard and celebrate projects, programs and research contributing to the mission of closing the gap for Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander and Māori peoples.

The Australian & New Zealand Mental Health Association has announced a final call for applicants wishing to share their insight on Indigenous mental health and wellbeing for the inaugural Indigenous Wellbeing Conference. This event is taking place from 7-8 October at Cairns Pullman International.

The conference theme ‘Honouring Indigenous Voices & Wisdom: Balancing the System to Close the Gap’ will be bringing attention to four core areas:

  • Promoting Wellbeing
  • Social, Political and Cultural Determinants
  • Community Care, Cultural Revitalisation & Healing
  • Culturally Responsive Care & Community Control

Together we will help to empower Indigenous communities to develop their own solutions to living long healthy lives; strengthen culture; and reconnect with spirit.

Applications close: Friday 18 June 2021.
Submit your presentation brief here.

Indigenous Wellbeing Conference

 

 

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Grants to support mental health of new parents

Feature tile - Mon 7.6.21 - Grants to support mental health of new parents

Grants to support mental health of new parents

The Morrison government is providing $16.6 million in grants to support the mental health and wellbeing of expectant and new parents through nine new projects.

It is estimated that up to 10% of women experience depression while pregnant, and one in seven women in the year after birth. Men can also experience perinatal mental illness, with approximately one in 10 expectant and new fathers experiencing depression, anxiety or other forms of emotional distress in the perinatal period.

Some of the grants under the mental health initiative include:

  • $2.59 million for the University of Newcastle to deliver the SMS4dads digital prevention and early intervention service for fathers, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander fathers, living in rural and remote regions.
  • $750,000 for Possums for Mothers and Babies to deliver training and professional peer support for health professionals and new parents in rural communities.
  • $250,000 for the Murdoch University Ngangk Yira Research Centre for Aboriginal Health and Social Equity to produce health practitioner training materials and develop a mobile phone-based app version of the Baby Coming You Ready assessment and screening program for Aboriginal women.

You can read the full story and find out more about the other grants here.

Man pushing pram through park. Image source AAP.

Image source: AAP.

Yolngu Elders kick off COVID-19 vaccinations across Arnhem Land

Miwatj Health are gearing up for a COVID-19 vaccination blitz across the remote northern region of Arnhem Land.

Terry Yumbulul, Miwatj Health Aboriginal Corporation’s Chief Culture Advisor and Head of Regionalisation, and CEO Eddie Mulholland, had their Pfizer vaccine in Gove last week.

They were joined by 10 Board Members of Miwatj Health Aboriginal Corporation and other local leaders who received their vaccine in an effort to encourage others in the community.

ABC Radio Darwin’s Jo Laverty spoke with Terry Yumbulul about his experience and whether other Yolngu people would follow suit.

You can listen to the ABC Radio Darwin On Breakfast broadcast with Jolene Laverty here.

Yolngu Elder receives vaccine at Miwatj Health Aboriginal Corporation.

Yolngu Elder receives vaccine at Miwatj Health Aboriginal Corporation. Image source: ABC News.

Healing the past project seeking participants

Becoming a parent is exciting but it can be hard. Particularly for parents who have experienced difficulties in their own childhood, which can have long lasting effects on physical, social and emotional wellbeing. This can make the transition to parenthood difficult, causing distress and challenges to creating a nurturing environment for a new baby. On the flip side, growing research shows that becoming a parent offers a unique life-time opportunity to heal from this childhood hurt.  

‘Healing the past by nurturing the future’ (video) is a community-based participatory research project which is working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander (Aboriginal) parents to develop awareness and support strategies that could be offered during the perinatal period to support Aboriginal parents experiencing complex trauma.  

The team are looking for participants for this important research project who are:  

  • Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander people  
  • living in the NT, SA or Victoria, and  
  • are pregnant, have a partner who is pregnant or have a child (under 5 years in SA; or any age in NT or Vic).  

To learn more about the project, please contact Cindy from the research team on 0492 850 298, or email hpnf@latrobe.edu.au, or visit the website here.

Healing the Past - Image 1

Healing the Past – Illustration.

Cultural connectedness can reduce suicide rates

An article published in the Medical Journal of Australia ‘Suicide rates for young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people: the influence of community level cultural connectedness’ examines associations between community cultural connectedness indicators and suicide mortality rates for young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

This retrospective mortality study looks at suicide deaths of people aged 10‒19 years recorded by the Queensland Suicide Register between 2001‒2015.

The age‐specific suicide rate was 21.1 deaths per 100,000 persons/year for First Nations young people and 5.0 deaths per 100,000 persons/year for non‐Indigenous young people. The rate for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people was higher in areas with low levels of cultural social capital (greater participation of community members in cultural events, ceremonies, organisations, and community activities) than in areas classified as having high levels, and also in communities with high levels of reported discrimination. Associations with proportions of Indigenous language speakers and area level socio‐economic resource levels were not statistically significant.

The study found that suicide mortality rates for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people in Queensland were influenced by community level culturally specific risk and protective factors. The findings suggest that strategies for increasing community cultural connectedness at the community level and reducing institutional and personal discrimination could reduce suicide rates.

You can read the full article here.

Aboriginal youth sitting, resting his head in his hand

Image source: ABC News.

NDIS personalised budgets

The National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIS) has released new papers on Personalised Budgets to give more information on the way they propose to build participant budgets in the future.

In 2020 they released a paper on proposed changes to the planning policy for Personalised Budgets and plan flexibility, and encouraged participants, families, carers and the wider sector to respond. The feedback was that people want fairer decisions. People also wanted the NDIS to be more transparent about how they worked out the funds in participants’ plans.

The Personalised Budgets papers give you more information on how the NDIS are developing the new budget model and how they propose budgets will be built.

There are three versions of the Personalised Budgets paper available for increased accessibility. They include:

  1. Personalised Budgets – technical information paper
  2. Personalised Budgets – information paper for participants, their families and carers
  3. Easy Read Guide – A new way to work out how much funding you receive in your NDIS plan

You can read more about the Personalised Budget paper on the NDIS website here.

NDIS - Personalised Budgets

Health Check 2020

‘Partnership Agreement on Closing the Gap – Health Check 2020’

In 2018, the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) committed to a genuine, formal partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander representatives to develop the Closing the Gap strategy for the next decade. Governments acknowledged the need for a respectful, collaborative approach with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations and communities to achieve productive and sustainable outcomes.

To give effect to that commitment, the Partnership Agreement on Closing the Gap 2019-2029 (Partnership Agreement) was negotiated and agreed to by the Coalition of Peaks and the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) in March 2019. The Partnership Agreement provides an historic opportunity for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspectives to be heard and incorporated into policy and program dimensions across all levels of government. The Partnership Parties committed to an annual Health Check of the Partnership Agreement and agreed to the development and subsequent annual review of a Partnership Risk Register. The objective of the Health Check is to review the state of the Partnership Agreement against success indicators agreed by the Parties. This report gives an account of the first Health Check and includes a draft Risk Register.

This Health Check has found that the Partnership Agreement has been successful in achieving the coming together of the Coalition of Peaks and Governments in partnership to support the Parties’ decision to negotiate a new National Agreement.

You can view the full report here.

Partnership Health Check to inform the Partnership Agreement on Closing the Gap.

Partnership Health Check to inform the Partnership Agreement on Closing the Gap.

Digital mental health resources

In honour of National Reconciliation Week, the eMHPrac E-Mental Health in Practice website has decided to explore the Digital Mental Health Resources developed with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians in mind. These resources include culturally relevant and evidence-based information, advice, stories, support, and counselling.

There are a range of digital mental health resources available to support individuals, families, friends, and communities including:

  • WellMob
  • Beyond Blue
  • MindSpot Clinic
  • Stay Strong
  • iBobbly
  • Deadly Tots App
  • headspace Yarn Safe
  • eheadspace
  • HitNet Community Hub
  • iTalk Studios
  • Kurdiji
  • Positive Choices
  • Proppa Deadly
  • Yarning SafeNStrong

For more information on these resources, you can:

  • download a digital brochure here;
  • order a hardcopy brochure here; or
  • visit the website here.

emhprac Brochure - Digital Mental Health Resources for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: NACCHO is Reconciliation in Action #NationalSorryDay2021#NRW2021 #MoreThanAWord #ReconciliationTakesAction

NACCHO is Reconciliation in Action 

National Reconciliation Week 2021: More than a word, Reconciliation Takes Action

NACCHO encourages all Australians to take time to reflect and talk to each other on the ways we can support Reconciliation in Australia.

NACCHO Chair Donnella Mills, says the extraordinary response by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and other Australians, during COVID to keep communities and Elders safe is Reconciliation in action.

“We have shown during these tough times that we can all do our part to protect our communities and the results speak for themselves. If we can work together as a nation to address the disparity across different areas, we can deliver on reconciliation outcomes and start Closing the Gap.

“We must put Aboriginal health in Aboriginal hands! Until Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are fully engaged and have control over their health and wellbeing, any ‘refresh’ will be marginal at best and certainly won’t close the gap.”

Ms Mills further added, “Better outcomes for the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders is Reconciliation in Action!  Our 143 Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations, working hand-in-hand with other health services, governments, organisations and communities, to care for people and improve health outcomes, is reconciliation in action.”

NACCHO CEO Pat Turner is joining a panel discussion with Professor Sue Green for the Australian Association of Social Workers National Reconciliation Week webinar on Friday, 26 May.

Pat Turner stated, “This year’s theme is particularly important and aligns with how we can build on the momentum from the new National Agreement on Closing the gap negotiated and agreed between all Australian governments and a Coalition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community-Controlled Peak Organisations to achieve reconciliation.

“The priority reforms in the National Agreement needs to be implemented and be part of the everyday workings of governments if they are to be effective – otherwise they will be just targets, something that governments continue to point to but don’t move the needle for our peoples.”

Ms Turner further added, “Whilst I remain hopeful for a reconciled nation and I acknowledge the journey to date, we still have a long way to go in Australia. Reconciliation requires action from each of us. Reconciliation is a practice, a daily practice.”

This year’s National Reconciliation Week theme, ‘More than a word, Reconciliation takes action’, encourages Australians, governments, and institutions to take continued action and commitment towards reconciliation.

National Sorry Day 2021 – Wednesday 26 May 2021

Observed annually on 26 May, National Sorry Day remembers and acknowledges the mistreatment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who were forcibly removed from their families and communities, which we now know as ‘The Stolen Generations’.

National Sorry Day is a day to acknowledge the strength of Stolen Generations Survivors and reflect on how we can all play a part in the healing process for our people and nation. While this date carries great significance for the Stolen Generations and other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, it is also commemorated by Australians right around the country.

The first National Sorry Day was held on 26 May 1998,  one year after the Bringing Them Home report was tabled in Parliament. The Bringing Them Home report is a result of a Government Inquiry into the past policies which caused children to be removed from their families and communities in the 20th century.

Following this, in 2000, there was one issue that was high on the agenda at the Sydney Harbour Bridge walk for reconciliation – an apology to the Stolen Generations.

Kirrily Jordan, Executive Officer of the Stolen Generations Council of NSW & ACT, said, “It is crucial for members of the Stolen Generations, that have endured so much pain, to be supported in their process of healing. The impact of these past government policies has started a vicious cycle of intergenerational trauma that requires extensive support and assistance.”

On supporting members of the Stolen Generations, AbSec CEO John Leha said, “As the peak organisation for Aboriginal children and families, it is the responsibility of AbSec to not only protect current generations of Aboriginal children from suffering but also supporting past members of the Stolen Generations and their families. The work of the Stolen Generations Council is invaluable to the community, and we will continue to support them in their healing work.”

Read the media release by AbSec the peak organisation for Aboriginal children and families in NSW here.

What’s your role in healing this National Sorry Day? Read the media release by the Healing Foundation here.

Read an article on National Sorry Day in The Conversation here.

Image source: AbSec is the peak organisation for Aboriginal children and families in NSW

COVID-19 vaccination only pathway to more normal life

Joint statement – AMA & Council of Presidents of Medical Colleges

The AMA and CPMC also reminded Australians the vaccination program had been extended to include all people aged 50 years and over. People in this age group are assessed as being at higher risk of severe COVID-19 and death.

AMA President Dr Omar Khorshid said Australia had an “outstanding record on vaccination, with some of the highest rates of vaccine take-up in the world”, protecting the community from a wide range of serious illness. He said Australians could approach vaccination for COVID-19 with the “same confidence”.

“To date, there have been over 160 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 world-wide and a death toll exceeding 3.3 million people. It is not sustainable for Australia to rely on international border closures, restrictions, and potential lockdowns to protect the community from COVID-19.

“The Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine is being used in 139 countries and the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine in 90 countries. The evidence from the hundreds of millions of doses delivered in these countries is that both are protecting people from serious illness and hospitalisation and helping to stop the spread of COVID-19,” Dr Khorshid said.

Read the full media statement here.

Binjari man Christopher Frith, 62 (red black white grey polo shirt, long grey beard & hair on balding head) get's covid-19 vaccine at Katherine's Wurli Wurlinjang Health Service, looks worriedly to the side as the vaccine is injected

Binjari man Christopher Frith, 62 gets the shot at Katherine’s Wurli Wurlinjang Health Service, Photo: Rhett Wyman. Image source: Brisbane Times.

Improving SEWB – Mental Health services for young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people

Social and emotional wellbeing service experiences of Aboriginal young people in New South Wales, Australia: listening to voices, respecting experiences, improving outcomes.

View the abstracts and thesis in the Australian Indigenous Health Bulletin.

young Aboriginal man sitting against wall with head down, arms folded, blue hoodie & jeans

Image source: myDr.com.au.

Indigenous deaths in custody reporting time to be reduced

The Australian Institute of Criminology, an independent government research centre, told senators on Tuesday evening it was working to reduce its reporting period from annually to less than six months in order to offer more up-to-date figures.

“We have had a number of Aboriginal people die in custody this year alone. It’s just not good enough that these deaths won’t be reported in official statistics for up to two years,” Senator Thorpe told The Canberra Times.

Read the full article here.

Greens senator Lidia Thorpe wants the government to do better when it comes to a national response to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander deaths in custody. Picture: Sitthixay Ditthavong

Pfizer vaccine to be rolled out in Kimberley remote areas starting in early June

Census in August – info on job opportunities and resources available

The Census is happening this August and I want to introduce you to our growing network of local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff and share some key information on job opportunities and resources available.

The Census counts every person and home in Australia. It helps plan for community needs and is used to make decisions about schools and early learning, health clinics, housing, aged care, jobs, roads, language centres and community programs. That’s why it’s important that we count all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Resources

As we get closer to the Census on 10 August, we’ll be sharing information and resources to support communities to get Census-ready that is copied below that you can share with your networks and communities:

Jobs available

The Australian Bureau of Statistics are hiring staff across Australia to help us conduct the Census. Having local, trusted people involved in Census engagement is important. Jobs are flexible and temporary.

Visit www.census.abs.gov.au/about/careers or reach out to your local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Census contacts copied here:

New South Wales and ACT
Merinda.Rose@abs.gov.au – NSW and ACT

Northern Territory
Sharon.Hewitt@abs.gov.au – Arnhem Land, Groote Eylandt, Top End and Tiwi Islands
Michael.Smith2@abs.gov.au – Central Australia

Queensland
Emma.Hart@abs.gov.au – Far North Queensland, Gulf and Torres Strait
Annmarie.Campbell@abs.gov.au – South Queensland

South Australia
Gregory.McCulloch@abs.gov.au
Mark.Elliot@abs.gov.au

Victoria and Tasmania
Melinda.Mansell@abs.gov.au

Western Australia 
Bron.Leon@abs.gov.au

RACGP welcomes $1.8b primary care funding in budget

The $1.8 billion outlay on primary healthcare contained in the Federal Budget includes funding to support the continued role of general practice in administering COVID-19 vaccinations, as well as the newly-announced provision of Pfizer vaccines through GP respiratory clinics.

However, while RACGP President Dr Karen Price welcomed many of the primary care budget measures, she said the need for greater investment to support broader general practice reform remains.

‘In December last year, Health Minister Greg Hunt promised that 2021 would be the year of the GP,’ she said.

‘If we want to make that a reality, we need to give general practice a much-needed shot in the arm. The $1.8 billion figure is welcome; however, it is unclear how much of this will flow through to frontline GP patient services.

‘However, some Medicare items for longer telephone consultations will be scrapped from 1 July this year, including for chronic disease management plans, health assessments for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients, and some mental health items.

‘I also strongly support the allocation of $22.6 million to redesign the Practice Incentives Program – Indigenous Health Incentive. We will not close the gap and improve Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health outcomes without measures such as this.

‘Many of the measures announced tonight amount to a solid beginning for the support of vulnerable patient groups in Australia. It is very welcome after such a tough 12 months for many general practices and patients nationwide.’

National Suicide Prevention Adviser’s Final Advice

In July 2019, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced the commitment of the Australian Government to working ‘towards zero suicides’ and the appointment of the First National Suicide Prevention Adviser. Over 18 months, the Adviser and the National Suicide Prevention Taskforce engaged with different levels of government and portfolios, organisations working in suicide prevention, researchers, leaders in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander suicide prevention, community members and, most importantly, many people who have lived experience of suicide.

This broad engagement focused on better understanding the needs of people who experience suicidal distress, and identifying how Australia’s services, systems and government structures at all levels could change to compassionately meet their needs and avoid a suicide trajectory. This Final Advice consists of three complementary reports building on the Initial Findings submitted in November 2019 and the Interim Advice submitted in August 2020.

The Assistant Minister to the Prime Minister for Mental Health and Suicide Prevention, David Coleman, released earlier this week the National Suicide Prevention Adviser’s final advice. The final advice was released this afternoon during a speech at the Suicide Prevention Australia symposium.

To read the full report click here.

National Suicide Prevention Adviser’s Final Advice

The Fred Hollows Foundation – Reflecting on Cultural Understanding and Responsiveness

The Fred Hollows Foundation would like to invite you to ‘Reflecting on Cultural Understanding and Responsiveness’, a panel discussion with The Foundation’s executive team.

Hosted by The Foundation’s Director for Social Justice and Regional Engagement, Jaki Adams, the panel will be an opportunity for our executive to discuss their cultural understanding and journey to date through Indigenous Allied Health Australia’s Cultural Responsiveness Training.

Details as follows:
Date: Thursday 3 June – 10:00am-10:45am
Meeting ID: 933 8182 7269
Join link: https://zoom.us/j/93381827269

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: First Nations’ health everyone’s business

First Nations’ health everyone’s business

Associate Professor Luke Burchill has written an article examining why of Australia’s 71,1000 medical specialists only 110 identify as Indigenous. He wrote “racism and lack of cultural safety are key deterrents to our mob entering specialist training. So that you can understand what this means on a personal level let me share my experience of training and working within what I call the “problem space” of Indigenous health.

This is not a space that Indigenous people have created. It is a space that has been created for us over 230 years. It is a space in which the people and community you love are reduced to stereotypes of deficit, disadvantage, and dysfunction. A problem space where Western science is valued over Indigenous knowledge.’

‘It is a problem space where standing against racism often means standing alone. Where in addition to your fulltime job, you are expected to be “all things Indigenous” – adviser, mentor, committee representative, community member, cultural safety support, etc. A problem space where trying to minimise risks to community increases the risks of harm to yourself. A problem space where lateral violence is accepted as the norm. But perhaps more than anything the problem space is a lonely one where, in ticking boxes for others, you are left with little time to tick boxes for yourself and the very things that define who you are – connection to country, culture and community.’

‘The problem space itself is a key barrier to delivering tangible solutions that benefit Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities in ways that are meaningful to them. This makes building a solution space for Indigenous health urgent work. It is time for a solution space that sees advancing health and equity for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as everyone’s business. Not just because we need to Close the Gap but because it’s the right thing to do. A solution space that understands the fundamental importance of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people being empowered to lead this work in culturally safe and responsive workplace environments.’

To view the full article click here.

Associate Professor Luke Burchill. Image source: Melbourne Medical School website. Feature tile image source: ANZSPO website.

Keeping community strong on Wiradjuri country

On Wiradjuri country in regional NSW, the community controlled Orange Aboriginal Medical Service (OAMS) has been providing medical and primary health care services to the local Orange community since 2005, and outreach dental services to Bathurst, Cowra, Parkes and Forbes since 2010.

One of many important services the OAMS provides is the opportunity for Indigenous people from the region to access their free annual 715 Health Check. The 715 Health Check is offered to and designed specifically for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, covering mental, physical, social and spiritual health.

“A 715 Health Check is significant not only for identifying issues of illness and disease in communities, but it’s a tool to connect with our people,” says OAMS CEO, Jamie Newman. “We use the 715 Health Check as an engagement tool to assist our people identifying their health care needs and helping them manage their health care into the future.”

To view the OAMS editorial in full click here and to view a video about the 715 Health Check click here.

Vaccine for remote Kimberley on way

A large logistical operation will see the Pfizer vaccine rolled out in remote Indigenous areas of the Kimberley for people under 50, giving them priority access ahead of the wider population. The original plan to use the AstraZeneca jab was thrown into disarray when the risk of blood clots prompted the federal government to only recommend the vaccine for people over 50.

In the month that followed, federal and state health authorities declined to say what the new vaccination plan would be for the under-50 cohort in the remote Kimberley.  But Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Services (KAMS), which represents seven health services in the region, has now revealed the Pfizer jab is on track to be available from the second week of June.

To view the full article click here.

Image source: KAMS website.

Partnership for Justice in Health

A new organisation linking healthcare and the justice system has been launched with a campaign to stamp out racism in both sectors. Kuku Yalanji man Karl Briscoe is the co-chair of the Partnership for Justice in Health (P4JH). He says the partnership has been years in the making.

“It really kicked off with the Miss Naomi Williams case,” he said. Wirdajuri woman Naomi Williams was 22 weeks pregnant when she died of septicaemia at Tumut Hospital in January 2016. A coronial inquest heard Williams made 20 visits to Tumut Hospital in the seven months before her death but had not received adequate care. “It was all of us coming together, and saying, ‘Look, we actually need to really, really do something here, we can’t just sit back and let these kinds of things happen to our mob,’” Briscoe said.

The Partnership links organisations including: AIDA, CATSINaM, IAHA, Institute for Collaborative Race Research, The Lowitja Institute, the National Association of Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health Workers & Practitioners, and the National Justice Project.

P4JH launched their website at P4JH.org.au, which they hope will become a hub for resources about racism within the health and justice systems. Briscoe said the partnership will shine a light on the interrelationship between the justice and health systems, and the poorer outcomes that Indigenous people have in both of these spaces. “Our combined vision of our network is for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to enjoy health and wellbeing that’s free from racism in the health and justice system.”

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

Image source: National Indigenous Times.

Supporting remote stores to sell healthy food

Health workers in remote First Nations communities are exploring new ways they can support local store operators to sell and promote healthy food and drink options, in an Australian first telementoring initiative by Health and Wellbeing Queensland. Over 30 health practitioners, public health dietitians and nutritionists from across Queensland, the NT and WA are dialling in weekly for eight weeks to Australia’s first Creating a Healthier Remote Stores Food Environment Project ECHO-series.

“Evidence tells us just how important remote stores are to their local communities and that isn’t lost on us. I have seen first-hand the critical nature of these facilities,” Chief Executive of Health and Wellbeing Queensland, Dr Robyn Littlewood said. Health and Wellbeing Queensland Principal Lead – First Nations Communities, Dr Simone Nalatu reported that in remote communities the store was often the primary source of food and played a vital role in the diet and health of residents.

To view the full article click here.

Image source: Outback Stores website.

New service for Alice Springs town camps

The Territory Labor Government has invested $2.7 million to establish and operate a new Child and Family Centre service across town camps in Alice Springs. The service is to be run over five years in partnership with Tangentyere Council Aboriginal Corporation. Using a ‘hub and spoke’ approach, TCAC will work with families across the Larapinta Learning Centre, Hidden Valley Community Centre, Truckies Community Centre, southern camps and northern camps to coordinate the delivery of support services to children, young people and families and assist them to navigate the local service system to ensure they get the help they need. Families will be able to access a range of support services including maternal and child health; early childhood development and learning; and parenting support.

To view the article in full click here.

Image source: Croakey Health Media.

Suicide Strategy input – only days left

Gayaa Dhuwi (Proud Spirit) Australia (DPSA) has been tasked by the Commonwealth Government to renew the 2013 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Strategy (NATSISPS) in consultation with stakeholders and community members.

There is now less than a week left for final public consultations for the draft National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Strategy 2021–2031. This consultation period will be open until Friday 28 May 2021.

To review the draft NATSISPS and provide your comments, please visit here.

Ironbark project seeks higher degree student

The Ironbark project is an Aboriginal healthy ageing research project, comparing the healthy impact of two different programs Ironbark: Standing Strong and Tall (weekly exercise and yarning circle) and Ironbark: healthy community (weekly social program).  Both programs run for a year, for groups of older (45 years and older) Aboriginal people.

The Ironbark project is seeking an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander higher degree student to work on the project.

For further information about the project click here and for details of how to submit an EOI click here.

banner text 'The Ironbark Project' drawing of a tree without leaves covered in Aboriginal dot painting

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: 2021–22 Federal Budget – Plenty of good news for Aboriginal health, but plenty of questions remain

NACCHO responds to the 2021-22 Federal Budget 

The National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) welcomes the Budget initiatives targeting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health. These include funding for the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, point-of-care testing, rheumatic fever strategy, bowel cancer screening, workplace training packages for health professionals in rural and remote areas, changes to the Midwife Professional Indemnity Scheme and changes to the Practice Incentives Program (Indigenous Health Incentive). These all seem to be very positive announcements. Also pleasing is the focus on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the substantial aged care and mental health packages.

While these announcements are most welcome, there needs to be more clarity concerning implementation. It is important that Aboriginal community-controlled organisations are closely involved in the new initiatives to ensure success.

In Cairns this morning, Donnella Mills, the NACCHO Chair, said ‘These Budget measures are very welcome, but we will need to work through the detail before we can be sure that what is proposed will work.’

‘It is pleasing to see that the NACCHO members are referred to in the Budget Papers in relation to a new role in the aged care sector and other areas. Certainly, the measures announced in the Budget won’t work unless Aboriginal people and organisations are fully involved in the design and delivery.’

The pandemic has proved the success of the model. The network of Aboriginal community-controlled health organisations in combatting COVID-19 shows what happens when local people are empowered to take local action.

Ms Mills said ‘We have shown the world what can be done to keep First Nations peoples safe during a global pandemic. In the USA, the Navajo had the highest death rate of any ethnic population. In Australia, not one Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander person has died.’

NACCHO welcomes the aged care package. The identification of $630m to improve aged care access largely for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders is a significant investment (about 3.6 per cent of the overall package). However, more will need to follow for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders to receive their fair share of aged care (estimated at 7 per cent on population and eligibility).

Ms Mills said ‘All Australians welcome the overdue investment in aged care. We all want our elders to be loved and cared for with dignity and respect. But Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders would like to see the specific details about how the measures will be tailored to our people and our communities and what role our services can play in all of this. We are keen to work with governments to ensure that the new funding is effectively invested. Governments need to start talking to us now, so that these good intentions deliver solid results on the ground for our elders.’

To read the full media release click here.

Coalition of Peaks responds to the 2021-22 Federal Budget

Positive start but First Nations must wait and see for promised Closing the Gap investment

Significant Budget measures announced by the Commonwealth Government provide a foundation for investing in the National Agreement on Closing the Gap. As expected, detailed funding relating to Closing the Gap was not announced in the Budget last night, so the full scope of funding commitments remains to be seen.

“I’m pleased to see the funding laid out in this Budget contains promising investments in crucial areas that affect our people,” said Patricia Turner AM, Lead Convener of the Coalition of Peaks.

“We are encouraged to see significant funding in areas of aged care, Indigenous skills and jobs, mental health and women’s safety; but this is very much a ‘wait and see’ budget as the majority of funding directed towards Closing the Gap won’t be announced until later in the year,” she said.

The federal government will announce more specific funding on Closing the Gap after Cabinet considers the Commonwealth’s Jurisdictional Implementation Plan mid-year.

“Our main concern with every Commonwealth Budget is how the funding will trickle down and benefit our people on the ground. Too often, our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled organisations, which are responsible for delivering many of the services in our communities, have been left with inadequate funding to service our people. My hope is that our community-controlled organisations are not just left with the crumbs from the Budget table.”

“Given the massive new investments seen in this Budget, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have a legitimate expectation that there will be a significant boost in funding in all areas of Closing the Gap — including implementation of the Priority Reforms in the National Agreement that we believe will accelerate the closing of gaps,” Ms Turner said.

“We look forward to an announcement of funding in the Closing the Gap measures to support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander participation in the Justice Policy Partnership in particular and all policy and place-based partnerships to be established under the National Agreement”.

“It is also vital that meaningful proportions of the new funding initiatives in the Budget for the broader population that are critical for closing the gaps, such as in childcare and preschool, are allocated to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations, particularly community-controlled organisations”.

“This is a commitment made by the Commonwealth in the National Agreement on Closing the Gap, but it is still uncertain and risky whether our community-controlled sector will receive the funding it needs to deliver much better services to our people,” Ms Turner said.

Finally, the Government’s new investment into our Family Violence Prevention Legal Services to address the severe problem of family violence is welcomed but more funding is needed to keep our women and children safe.

To read the full media release click here.

Family Matters National Week of Action Sun 9 – Sat 15 May 2021 #OurMobsMatter

Next week join the Family Matters National Week of Action, SNAICC’s campaign to create awareness of the over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in out-of-home care. Build your skills and knowledge and be part of our work to ensure all our children and young people grow up strong and safe in their families, cultures, and communities.

You can also register your own events, and access our resources page so you can download our Family Matters National Week of Action digital resources (including social media tiles, an email signature, and customisable posters for your own events) to help you promote the Family Matters campaign next week. Please share content including the Family Matters handle and using the hashtag #OurMobsMatter

The Family Matters leaders would like to remind non-Aboriginal organisations to support the campaign through your annual sponsorships – please check sponsorship information here and email familymatters@snaicc.org.au to arrange an invoice as soon as possible.

Wednesday 12 May (12-1.30pm AEST) – National commissioner call to action

Join SNAICC CEO Catherine Liddle and Family Matters Co-Chair Dr Paul Gray as they lead a discussion by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children’s commissioners and deputy commissioners around the continent as we continue to call for the creation of dedicated, independent Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children’s commissioners in each state and territory and at the national level.

Speakers include: April Lawrie, Commissioner for Aboriginal Children and Young People (South Australia); Justin Mohamed, Commissioner for Aboriginal Children and Young People (Victoria); Natalie Lewis, Commissioner for the Queensland Family and Child Commission; Richard Weston, Deputy Children’s Guardian for Aboriginal Children and Young People (New South Wales), and Nicole Hucks, Assistant Children’s Commissioner, Office of the Children’s Commissioner (Northern Territory).

Join this key call for accountability and in defence of the rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and their families.

Register here.

Thursday 13 May (12-2pm AEDT) – Ways to connect children back to their family, culture and community

This conversation will be led by Family Matters Co-Chair Sue-Anne Hunter.

Speakers include: Jo-Anne Kelly, Project Manager Community Initiatives with Kinchela Boys Home Aboriginal Corporation; Jacynta Krakouer, Family Matters National Leadership Group and University of Melbourne; and Jennifer Parsons, QATSCIPP Sector Development Officer.

Engage and learn from this fascinating discussion among four expert Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander practitioners in child and family services. Build your practice skills and learning through Aboriginal-led engagement, awareness, and ideas for skill development.

Register here.

Friday 14 May (12-2pm AEST) – Ensuring our babies get the safest start

Learn about how birth is a key point of removal from their families for too many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander babies, and what we can do to stop this entry point from happening. Hear about how we can work to keep babies with their parents and families. This conversation will be led by Family Matters Co-Chair Sue-Anne Hunter.

Speakers include: Professor Megan Davis, Emma Buxton-Namisnyk and Dr Althea Gibson (all UNSW); Associate Professor Catherine Chamberlain (La Trobe University, Healing the Past); Birri O’Dea (Molly Wardaguga Research Centre, Charles Darwin University); Alison Elliott, The Bouverie Centre; and Debra Bennet (Executive Lead Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Engagement and Cultural Advisor, Relationships Australia Queensland).

Register here.

The Family Matters Report 2020 was launched in November 2020. It reveals that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children continue to be removed from family and kin at disproportionate rates – disrupting their connection to community and culture. The report identified a concerning trend towards permanency and adoption that is driving separation of children from family, community, and culture.

Keep an eye out for the Family Matters National Leadership Group members on @IndigenousX on Twitter, from Thursday 6 May to Thursday 13 May.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Acting on social determinants of health part of CPHC

feature tile text 'CPHC must include acting on the social determinants of health', image of bright Aboriginal dot painting overlaid with text 'Preventive Health Conference'

Acting on social determinants of health part of CPHC

Earlier this week NACCHO Deputy CEO Dr Dawn Casey gave a presentation, Building on Success – Prevention Health for COVID-19 and Beyond at the Public Health Association of Australia Preventive Health Conference 2021. “Currently NACCHO is documenting a core services framework which articulates our model of comprehensive primary health care. One of the participants at a consultation session stated, ‘To call yourself a comprehensive primary health care service, you need more than a ‘sick care service’. You also need to be public health advocates to garner action on poverty and overcrowding. You must invest in communities, develop leaders and reclaim community empowerment, you must look to act on social determinants of health as well’. “These are the values that were brought to the table when dealing with the response to the pandemic. Each service is controlled by the community receiving the health service.”
You can read Dr Casey’s speaking notes for the conference here.
Dawn Casey receiving COVID-19 vaccine

NACCHO Chair responses to Federal Budget

As part of the 2021–22 Federal Budget Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples will receive dedicated funding to support and expand health initiatives across aged care, chronic illness treatment, mental health support and more, with a focus on engaging culturally sensitive approaches across the board.

During an interview on The Wire Independent Current Affairs Community & Indigenous Radio Chair of NACCHO, Donnella Mills said this investment is welcomed by NACCHO, who are advocating for the government to work in partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to define how programs are delivered to ensure the best outcomes.

To listen to the interview in full click here.

stethoscope on top of portion of Aboriginal flag & text 'The Wire' logo - orange text

Image source: The Wire.

SNAICC comments on 2021 budget

SNAICC – the national peak body for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, has welcomed investment to support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and families in the Australian Government’s recent Budget announcement, but looks forward to further commitments for children and families through the National Agreement on Closing the Gap.

“The Budget includes important new measures for children and families, including increased investment in early childhood education and care, keeping women and children safe, mental health and suicide prevention, and increased support for victims and survivors of child sexual abuse. However, more work is needed to achieve the ambitious targets for our children in the National Agreement on Closing the Gap,” said SNAICC CEO Catherine Liddle. “Our children thrive when they have the opportunities to be proud in their identities and cultures and grow up safe and supported within their families and communities.”

To view SNAICC’s media release in full click here. This follows a SNAICC media release last week on early child care.

Lowitja calls for health & justice investment

The Lowitja Institute has welcomed several important spending measures in the 2021–22 Federal Budget but has called for more work and commitment to support comprehensive Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-driven solutions across much-needed areas. Lowitja Institute CEO Dr Janine Mohamed said Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and organisations had wanted to see significant investment in the National Agreement on Closing the Gap, although it is hoped that spending will be announced in the Implementation Plans due to be released mid-year.

“The Budget could have been a significant and important opportunity to comprehensively invest in historical truth-telling as called for through the Uluru Statement from the Heart,” Dr Mohamed said. Lowitja Institute welcomed several important measures, particularly a focus on building the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander aged care workforce, supporting COVID-19 responses by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and organisations, and important funding for suicide prevention.

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

the Lowitja Institute logo

Groups await extra CtG funding

Indigenous organisations are hoping for federal government funding later in the year to help close the gap. The Closing the Gap agreement aims to end the divide between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians in social, economic and health areas, and now includes 16 targets after the original seven were overhauled because they were not on track to be met.

The Coalition of Peaks, which represents more than 50 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations, did not expect funding for Closing the Gap in the budget. The group’s lead convener Pat Turner is encouraged by significant spending in aged care, Indigenous skills and jobs, mental health and women’s safety. “But this is very much a wait and see budget as the majority of funding directed towards Closing the Gap won’t be announced until later in the year,” she said. “I’m pleased to see the funding laid out in this budget contains promising investments in crucial areas that affect our people. Our main concern with every commonwealth budget is how the funding will trickle down and benefit our people on the ground.”

To view The West Australian article click here.

Pat Turner in beige jacket, purple glasses, hand raised with two fingers for two points, set against blurred parliament setting with two Australia flags

Pat Turner. Photo: Gary Ramage. Image source: The Australian.

Budget fails to close the gap

First Nations advocates have condemned the 2021 budget as failing to live up to the government’s talk of “closing the gap”. While the budget included investments in a number of health initiatives, there was a lack of investment in First Nations-focused services including family violence prevention services; investment to address the crisis of Aboriginal deaths in custody; and investment to ensure Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and families have access to the support and services they need.

Australia’s only First Nations-led justice coalition, Change the Record, said the budget just entrenched more of the same. On the issue of justice, Change the Record co-chair Cheryl Axleby said it was “shameful” that after seven deaths in less than two months there has been no plan from the government to address the crisis of Black deaths in custody. “There is no funding in the budget to address the mass-incarceration of First Nations peoples by establishing a National Justice Reinvestment Body (despite this being a key recommendation) and no funding to support states and territories to Raise the Age to keep primary school aged children out of police and prison cells,” Axleby said.

To view the Pro Bono Australia article in full click here.

protester holding Aboriginal Lives Matter placard

Photo: Jack Fisher. Image source: ABC News website.

National suicide prevention trial extension

The Kimberley’s peak Indigenous health body has welcomed measures in the Federal Budget that will help remote communities cement strategies for suicide prevention. As part of a $2.3 billion spend on mental health, $12 million has been promised to extend the national suicide prevention trial by one year.

The initiative has been running in 12 locations around the country, including the Kimberley, and is focused on devising local programs to prevent suicides. The trial was due to wrap up in June this year but participants now have more time to secure their strategies. The funding has come in addition to $79 million for initiatives under the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Strategy.

To view the full article click here.

portrait of Rob McPhee in office, large Aboriginal painting in the background, Rob is wearing a blue collared shift with the BRAMS logo

KAMS Chief Operating Officer Rob McPhee. Image source: ABC News.

ACOSS Virtual Post Budget Event 2021

Hosted by MC Stela Todorovic (Political Reporter, Channel 10) The ACOSS Post Budget Event is the key annual event for civil society and the community services sector, providing a space for attendees to receive briefings on key budget measures and their likely impacts on people experiencing poverty and inequality.

The event will provide the opportunity for the Assistant Treasurer and Shadow Treasurer to address the community sector directly and for the community sector to engage in conversation following the release of the Federal Budget.

Speakers will include:

  • Assistant Treasurer and Minister for Housing, the Hon Michael Sukkar MP
  • Dr Jim Chalmers MP, Shadow Treasurer
  • Lindon Coombes, Industry Professor (Indigenous Policy), Jumbunna Institute for Indigenous Education and Research (UTS)
  • Merle Mitchell, Aged Care advocate
  • Feyi Akindoyeni, Partner & Office Head, Newgate Communications
  • Kristin O’Connell, The Australian Unemployed Workers’ Union (AUWU)
  • Verity Firth, Executive Director, Social Justice at the UTS Centre for Social Justice & Inclusion
  • Cassandra Goldie, CEO, ACOSS

You can register for free here.

banner ACOSS virtual post budget event 2021 Tues, 18 May 12PM - 2:30PM AEST Bendigo Bank HESTA, UTS, ACOSS Joint the Campaign Raise the Rate for Good, image of a podium with microphones

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: First Nations COVID-19 response success

First Nations successful COVID-19 control

Indigenous populations around the world are more likely to be infected by or die of COVID-19. In countries like Canada and Brazil and in the US, Indigenous people are dying at disparate rates to the general population. However there is one notable exception: Indigenous Australians (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders). Despite having a life expectancy around 8 years less than non-Indigenous populations and overall worse health outcomes, Indigenous Australians were six times less likely to contract COVID-19. Zero deaths and just 148 cases of coronavirus were reported for 800,000 Indigenous people across the country.

How did they achieve such a remarkable result? In contrast to previous Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders health policies and interventions, the Australian government worked collaboratively with Indigenous communities. They provided flexible grant funding in March 2020 to 110 remote communities, allowing local Indigenous controlled health agencies to run a culturally aware response. As the scale of the pandemic became apparent, the government funding increased with $6.9 million invested in the NACCHO and $123 million available over two financial years for targeted measures to support Indigenous businesses and communities to increase their responses to COVID-19.

To view the article in full click here.

7 health professionals with gloves, gowns & masks standing on road

Tharawal Aboriginal Corporation team. Image source: AH&MRC website. Feature image: Tyreece, 8, and Trevor, 7, on the outskirts of Wilcannia. Image source: newmatilda.com.

Why mental health education is important

Kym Marsden, a Kamilaroi woman and accredited mental health social worker with 19 years’ experience in mental health and community services believes Schools and other places of participation for our young people like sporting clubs, cadets and other social outlets need to portray mental health as equally important as physical health.

“Kofi Annan is a role model of mine who understood education is the key to realising positive change across our future generations, evidenced by his beliefs that now are eternalised as a quote: ‘Knowledge is power, information is liberating, education is the premise of progress in every society and in every family!'”

Mental health awareness is important in our communities. Awareness creates change, but it is a task that we all have to sign up for.

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

Aboriginal dot painting in roange yeallow white black tan by Roma Winmar 2015

Artist: Roma Winmar 2015. Image source: NATSILMH website.

National Indigenous Postvention Service

Thirrili Ltd delivers the National Indigenous Postvention Service across Australia and has taken a national leadership role in the provision of suicide postvention support and assistance to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander individuals, families and communities. Thirrili employs a dedicated team of professionals to provide support across all states and territories in Australia.

You can view Thirrili’s most recent newsletter here.

banner text 'Thirrili' aerial shot of multicoloured rock, Thirrili logo & strip of Aboriginal body painting art yellow purple black orange pink

GP maternity care involvement improves outcomes

Releasing the AMA Position Statement on General Practitioners in Maternity Care, AMA President Dr Omar Khorshid said all people thinking about starting a family or having another baby should consult with their GP, involving GPs in maternity care leads to better outcomes for mothers and babies.”

The AMA position statement outlines how to ensure GPs are involved in maternity care and are able to provide continuity of care to mothers and babies from pre-conception and through all the important milestones in the mother and baby’s lives. Dr Khorshid said having a usual GP or general practice leads to better health outcomes.

“We know that best-practice maternity care is provided by a multi-disciplinary team of health professionals led by an obstetrician or GP-obstetrician in partnership with a patient’s usual GP, and includes midwives, nurses, physicians, allied health professionals and Aboriginal health workers,” he said.

To view the AMA’s media release  click here and to view the AMA Position Statement on GPs in Maternity Care click here.

Aboriginal woman smiling at tiny baby in her arms in health clinic room with examination bed & 5 images of growing baby in womb on wall

Image source: Sydney Morning Herald.

Culturally responsive health care for older people

The final professional development webinar in a series of three focusing on older Australians, presented by Mental Health Professional Network in partnership with all 31 Primary Health Networks (PHNs) will be held from 7:15–8.30 PM (AEST) Wednesday 19 May 2021.

This webinar will discuss the relationship between culturally diverse social and emotional wellbeing beliefs and aging related issues, and examine how this interplay impacts treatment and support sought by older people. Through a facilitated discussion, panellists will provide practical tips and strategies to engage in recovery oriented, culturally responsive conversations with older people. They will provide a deeper understanding of the role different disciplines, faith based groups and community services play in providing care for older people and as a result improve referral pathways.

To register for the webinar click here.

Aboriginal Elder Mildred Numamurdirdi sitting in an armchair with pillow behind head, lap rug & Danila Dilba staffer standing by her side

Aboriginal Elder Mildred Numamurdirdi. Image source: Goulburn Post.

Preventing deaths in custody research

Research from the University of Sydney and current coronial inquests highlight the immediate attention needed into Aboriginal health services for those incarcerated, in order to prevent deaths in custody. Over 30 years ago, the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody (RCIADIC) made over 200 directives recommending that Aboriginal health services be funded to provide leadership and care for those in prison equivalent to what is available to the general community. However, the current coronial inquests into the preventable deaths in custody of Bailey Mackander and Wayne Fella Morrison and the seven deaths of Aboriginal people in custody in recent weeks highlight an overwhelmingly strained system.

To view The University of Sydney’s media release click here.

row of crosses along edge of path, painted with the Aboriginal flag & one with the words 'Black Deaths in Custody - Cross for Loss'

Image source: ABC News.

Free webinars for doctors in training

Northern Queensland Regional Training Hubs (NQRTH) will be running a series of free webinars for doctors in training across Australia supporting the Queensland RMO and Registrars campaign during May and June this year.

The webinars will discuss the 2022 Queensland RMO Campaign application process and specialty training options available for doctors in training in northern Queensland. Attendees will have the opportunity to hear the latest news and recruitment information provided by the Queensland Health RMO Recruitment team and learn about how the campaign works, who can apply, recruitment rounds and positions. There will be a panel of directors of training and doctors currently working in northern Queensland hospitals and health services, providing information about the region’s unmatched medical training opportunities.

Please see below the information about the 6-part webinar series:

exert from promotion tile with dates of webinars

The webinars are open to all doctors in training in Australia.

To view a flyer about the webinars click here and to register for the webinar series click here.

banner text 'Northern Queensland Regional Training Hubs' 3 images: monitoring equipment, operating theatre, tablets & stethoscope on page of medical text book

International Nurses Day

International Nurses Day (IND) is celebrated around the world every year on 12 May, the anniversary of Florence Nightingale’s birth.

The theme for the 2021 resource is Nurses: A Voice to Lead – A vision for future healthcare. In 2021, we seek to show how nursing will look into the future as well how the profession will transform the next stage of healthcare.

The International Council of Nurses commemorates this important day each year with the production and distribution of International Nurses’ Day (IND) resources and evidence. For more information about IND and to access a range of resources click here.

tile text '12 May 2021 International Nurses Day Theme: A OVOICE TO LEAD A Vision for Future Healthcare' - torso of health professional in white coat with purple gloved hands holding a globe

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Pandemic restrictions retrigger trauma for some Stolen Generations survivors

feature tile text 'pandemic health restrictions retrigger trauma for some Stolen Generations survivors' slide from The Healing Foundation video, black line drawing of Aboriginal person holding a pink cracked heart

Pandemic restrictions retrigger trauma

New research released by The Healing Foundation shows that the strong and necessary public health restrictions introduced to contain the COVID-19 pandemic in Australia since early 2020 retriggered trauma for some Stolen Generations survivors. The research data suggests an increased and heightened sense of vulnerability; significant disconnection from family, community, and country; and significant impacts on mental health and wellbeing among an already vulnerable cohort of people.

The Healing Foundation CEO Fiona Cornforth said the research results will assist governments and authorities in future pandemic planning to build on Australia’s world-leading public health efforts to ensure the most vulnerable in the community are protected. “The excellent work of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Advisory Group on COVID-19 – as part of national efforts guided by the National Cabinet – ensured that infection rates were very low in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander populations,” Ms Cornforth said.

To view The Healing Foundation’s media release click here,

black & white collage of 40 portrait shots of Stolen Generations survivors

Image source: Creative Spirits.

ACCHO program reduces recidivism

Tyrone Walter says the Ngudjoong Billa program has put him on a better path. He’s recently completed the 20-week program and said it has helped him get his white card and feel a greater connection to his Aboriginal culture. And now his eyes are set on joining the Army. During its demonstration phase, the program has helped 73 young Aboriginal people reintegrate and transition out of the juvenile justice system. All of those who completed the 20 week program did not re-offend during that time.

Started in 2017, and delivered in partnership between the South Coast Medical Service Aboriginal Corporation (SCMSAC) and the Department of Communities and Justice, the program provides a consistent support network for Aboriginal children exiting custody on the South Coast.

Jordan said Tyrone had gained a lot of confidence from the program which had helped him with his mental health. Jordan said Tyrone was lacking motivation at the start of the program because of his lifestyle choices with drugs and alcohol. But through a slow and intensive approach with a particular focus on strengthening Tyrone’s cultural identity and building his connections to family, community and country, Tyrone is now off drugs and has been for a while.

To view the full article click here.

Tyrone Walter standing between his caseworker Jordan Farrell, and the Minister for Families, Communities and Disability Services Gareth Ward

Tyrone Walter standing between his caseworker Jordan Farrell, and the Minister for Families, Communities and Disability Services Gareth Ward. Image source: South Coast Register.

Facts about COVID-19

In a short video Dr Mark Wenitong, a GP in Indigenous health for 25 years, reminds us to get information about COVID-19 vaccines from trusted sources. You can access the video including a transcript here.

slide from YouTube clip, Dr Mark Wenitong, text 'Dr Mark Wenitong - Find out the facts about COVID-19 vaccines, Hi, it's Dr Mark here. Dr Mark Wenitong Aboriginal GP and Public Health MO

Suicide prevention roadmap

Suicide is the most common cause of death in Australians aged 15–44 years – more common than deaths from motor vehicle accidents or skin cancer (Aleman & Denys 2014). Over 2,500 people die from suicide in Australia each year and more than 65,000 make an attempt.

The Final Advice of the National Suicide Prevention Adviser, announced today, paves the way for a clear roadmap for reform. In particular, the recommendation to establish a National Suicide Prevention Office has the potential to create a significant enhancement of suicide prevention and in turn, save lives. Suicide Prevention Australia, the national peak body for suicide prevention, is urging Governments across Australia to use the findings of the report to drive down suicide rates. Suicide Prevention Australia CEO, Nieves Murray, said, “the Final Report of the National Suicide Prevention Adviser has the potential to be a game changer for suicide prevention in Australia. Immediate uptake of the key recommendations is critical to enable real reform that will save lives.”

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

painting of grey puzzle pieces, missing piece in the centre shows blue sky & white clouds

Image source: Australian Psychological Society website.

Child protection & adolescent self-harm

A history of child maltreatment is known to elevate the risk of self-harm in adolescence. However, until a recent study this link had not been investigated for Aboriginal children who experience a greater burden of both. This study Patterns of child protection service involvement by Aboriginal children associated with a higher risk of self-harm in adolescence: A retrospective population cohort study using linked administrative data confirms a higher risk of self-harm in adolescence is associated with child maltreatment, especially in middle childhood and concludes that addressing the intergenerational trauma in Aboriginal families is crucial to preventing child maltreatment and informing reforms to child protection responses that can better identify and address the culturally-specific unmet needs of Aboriginal families.

To read the research paper click here.

back of child leaning against outside of railing arms outstretched on the railing over-looking a riven, image in black & grey

Image source: ABC News website.

Cultural training in health services survey ENDS SOON

The Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care (the Commission) has developed a short survey to gain an understanding of the type and level of cultural safety training currently being undertaken by health service organisations. The Commission is committed to ongoing and evolving culturally safe practices, which are developed in consultation with, and determined by, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

The NSQHS Standards define six actions that specifically meet the needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. One of the six actions states: “The health service organisation has strategies to improve the cultural awareness and cultural competency of the workforce to meet the needs of its Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients.” The Commission is calling on feedback to assist in the development of resources to strengthen cultural safety training and support services in implementing this action.

Click here to complete the survey for your organisation. The survey is open until Friday, 23 April 2021, and takes up to 10 minutes to complete.

You can read more about the survey here.

torso of healthcare professional with blue scrubs & stethoscope with hands over patient's hand

Image source: NursingCE.com website.

Stop it at the Start campaign

The Stop it at the Start campaign encourages adults to positively influence the attitudes and behaviours of young people aged 10–17 by role modelling positive behaviour, calling out disrespect and starting conversations about respect. It aims to unite the community around positive actions everyone can take to break the cycle of disrespect, and ultimately, violence against women.

Community influencers and campaign supporters Kristy Masella, Andy Saunders, Renee Thomson, and Sean Choolburra share a common message—even the simplest, smallest actions can make a big difference for young people, and for our community.

To access a range of Stop it at the Start resources released earlier this week click here. Please note, in this document the link for the Sean Choolburra & his daughter Tyra – Tips on how to speak up when you see disrespect video does not work, this link does.

To view the Australian government’s Unmute yourself – speaking up to end violence against women media release in full click here. and to access an editorial from Darumbal woman Kristy Masella, campaign supporter for the Stop it at the Start campaign click here.

Kristy Masella campaign supporter for the Stop it at the Start campaign, leaning against a brick wall smiling at the camera, blurred background of city street, text 'when it comes to talking to my daughters about respecct, I often draw on personal examples of things I've experienced or reflected on myself. I talk abou the disrespectful behaviours that I accepted at times in my life or thought were normal. Violence against women Let's Stop It at the start. For tools and resources visit respect.gov.au

Sexual wellbeing – what we do well

A recent research project, Fostering the sexual wellbeing of Aboriginal young people by building on social, cultural and personal strengths and resources has looked at how urban Aboriginal young people foster sexual health and wellbeing for themselves and others. The project purposely sought to adopt a strengths-based approach by identifying the resources and capacities of Aboriginal young people to minimise harm and promote health.

More specifically, the project aimed to explore the community resources that Aboriginal young people access to help them make positive sexual choices, inform their understandings of sexual health and relationships, manage their sexual wellbeing, and engage with health promotion and health care services. The research will provide health services and policymakers with insightful new knowledge to better support young urban Aboriginal people and their communities.

For further information on the project click here.

rear view of two Aboriginal youth walking down a road in Redfern, derelict terrace houses & entire wall painted with Aboriginal flag & graffiti

Image source: The Sydney Morning Herald.

Healing Foundation CEO – National Press Club

The Healing Foundation CEO Fiona Cornforth will be addressing the National Press Club in Canberra on Wednesday 2 June 2021. Fiona will be releasing The Healing Foundation’s “Make Healing Happen: It’s time to act” report. The report sets out a plan with recommendations to achieve real and lasting healing for Stolen Generations Survivors and to promote intergenerational healing. The address will be televised live on ABC TV.

The details of the event are here.

banner for National Press Club of Australia event Fiona Cornforth CEO of the Healing Foundation "Make Healing Happen: It's Time to Act"' & portrait shot of Fiona Cornforth

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Embedding cultural determinants of health in policy

feature tile text ' Lowitja Institute report offers blueprint for embedding cultural determinants of health in policy & practice

Embedding cultural determinants in health policy

A new report published by Lowitja Institute provides a blueprint for placing culture at the core of policies affecting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, showing how the cultural determinants of health can be implemented into policy and practice.

Lowitja institute CEO Dr Janine Mohamed said the report Culture is key: towards cultural determinants-driven health policy outlines how culture is a protective factor for health and wellbeing and needs to be integrated and valued within health policy frameworks and programs, and also in broader government policies. “For Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, the cultural determinants are an essential part of our identity and are protective factors of health and wellbeing, anchored in ways of knowing, doing and being that have continued for tens of thousands of years,” she said. “However, this holistic concept of health is often neglected in government approaches to our health and wellbeing because it does not align with dominant culture or western perspectives and is not understood or fully appreciated by policymakers,” she said.

Dr Mohamed said the new Closing the Gap National Agreement and the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan refresh offer a unique window of opportunity for the government to invest in cultural determinant-driven whole-of-government policy.

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

Lowitja Institute is hosting a webinar on Thursday 29 April 2021 to support the release of the report. For more details or to register for the webinar, click here. For more information about the report or to arrange an interview with Dr Janine Mohamed, please contact Amy Hofman on 0405 114 930.

young Aboriginal girl Allorah Saunders with face paint, wearing t-shirt with Aboriginal flag, hanging from a bar, head half concealed by her arm

Allorah Saunders, whose health care is provided by the Tharawal Aboriginal Corporation Medical Service in western Sydney. Photo: Steven Siewert. Image source: Oxfam Australia.

Mental health & suicide prevention interim report

The House Select Committee on Mental Health and Suicide Prevention (the Select Committee) has released its interim report. The Committee’s interim report includes an update on the Committee’s activities to date, and emerging themes identified through recent reports into Australia’s mental health system and engagement with the Productivity Commission, National Mental Health Commission and Department of Health.

Chair of the Committee, Dr Fiona Martin MP, said ‘The interim report provides a snapshot of the breadth of work underway on mental health and suicide prevention. It also identifies some areas that the Committee feels need further examination as the inquiry progresses. These areas include the divide between public and private mental healthcare, coordination and funding of mental health services, affordability, the growth of telehealth and digital services in response to COVID-19, and the role of professional bodies in advocating for, regulating and supporting the workforce.’

To view the media release in full click here.

drawing of a bust sliced into 7 sections, inside of slices is red, outside of slices are white, reflected on black surface, dark grey background

Image source: The Medical Journal of Australia.

The Hon David Coleman MP, Assistant Minister to the Prime Minister for Mental Health & Suicide Prevention delivered a speech at the Suicide Prevention Australia Symposium 2021 earlier today in which he released the National Suicide Prevention Adviser’s final advice.

pile of 4 lots of paper with dog clips on desk, potted plant blurred in background

Image source: The Mandarin.

Change makers create future they want

“We can all be superheroes, we can save the world, we’ve just got to care enough to do it,” says JK-47, the 23-year-old rising star of Australian rap on what he is trying to communicate through his music. He is one of the passionate change makers who answered the call the ABC put out for young people to tell them how they are coping with a world that is increasingly scary.

It is hard not to feel disempowered in the face of stories about climate change, racism, new wars, and now global pandemics — particularly when you are young. However, the teenagers and 20-somethings featured in the article have discovered a way to create the future they want to grow into.

To view the full ABC News article click here.

black & white photo of rapper JK-47's face with white paint lines, fingers raised to face against trunk of a gum tree

JK-47’s debut album Made For This features lyrics about the daily injustices First Nation people face. Photo: Kiarney Mulyono. Image source: ABC News website.

Healthy sexual relationships campaign

WA’s new HealthySexual campaign is all about preventing, testing, treating and talking to minimise the personal and social impact of sexually transmitted infections (STIs). With outbreaks of infectious syphilis occurring in metropolitan, regional and remote parts of the state and notifications rising over the past five years, it’s a timely reminder to be aware of and talk about sexual health.

In 2020, notifications of infectious syphilis in WA were 26% higher than the previous year. The Department of Health’s Sexual Health and Blood-borne Virus Program Manager, Lisa Bastian said outbreaks of STIs over much of the state had placed populations at risk and prompted a more mainstream prevention campaign for the general community. She said an outbreak that started in the Kimberley region in June 2014 had spread to the Pilbara in February 2018 and the Goldfields in January 2019.

To view the Government of WA Department of Health’s media release click here.

banners from WA Healthy Sexual Campaign text 'anyone can be a Healthy Sexual, Talk, Test, Protect, When you look after yourself, you look after all of us' talk has a photo of a girl with glasses & very broad smile, test has a photo of a man with eyeshadow with hands holding rainbow coloured braces, protect has bald man with goaty beard & hawaiian shirt, last slide has a young smiling woman with long wavy golden hair

Image source: Government of WA Department of Health.

Deaths in custody, every family has a story

A detective visited the parents of a young Aboriginal man; a warrant had been issued for their son’s arrect. ‘We’re going to get your son; he’s going to be locked up,’ the detective told them. ‘But if you get him to come around now, I can guarantee you that the arrest will be a non-eventful process. He won’t be harmed; we’ll put him into custody, he’ll serve his time and then he can get on with his life.’

The request went against their instincts, but the parents agreed. When their son arrived, however, the promise fell through. ‘They grabbed him, ruffed him up and smashed him into the fence, causing a head injury,’ Professor Peter O’Mara, a Wiradjuri man and Chair of RACGP Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health, told newsGP. ‘That young man then went into the system. Approximately one week later, he died.’

To view the newsGP article in full click here.

Aboriginal flag billowing in the wind

On average, one Aboriginal life is lost in custody every three weeks. Image source: newsGP.

Stan Grant has written an in-depth analysis of the reasons for Aboriginal deaths in custody in his article Aboriginal deaths in custody reflect the poor health of Australia’s democracy. His article begins with some frightening statistics ‘3% of the population comprise nearly 30% of those behind bars. Look closely and it becomes even more alarming. In WA, 40% of prisoners are Indigenous. In the NT, it is more than 80%. Among youth it is even worse. Half of all children in detention nationally are Indigenous. In the NT, more than 90% of all juveniles detained are black.’

‘Despite the recommendations of the royal commission, we are going backwards. The number of Indigenous people imprisoned has increased 100% in the past three decades. Since 1991, more than 400 Indigenous people have died in custody. Thirty years after the royal commission, things are worse.’

To read Stan Grant’s article click here.

white banner with text in red '30th anniversary' text in black 'roayl commission into Aboriginal deaths in cutody' red text '1991:99 lives; 1991-2021: 500 lives' yeallow text on black separate placard ' Australia is a crime scene under the crown'

Banners at the black deaths in custody Photo: Mitch Abram. Image source: ABC News website.

Young people staying away from jail

Corrie Bell didn’t think he’d make it to his 28th birthday. He’d been taken away from his parents at the age of 15 and didn’t have a lot of hope. “All my life I’ve been living in prison… mentally and emotionally, you know feeling caged in and trapped,” he said. Corie’s a Ngunnawal Kamilaroi man from Campbelltown in south-west Sydney. He told Triple J Hack he had a really rough childhood. “Drugs, alcohol, crime, domestic violence… was very frequent within my family home,” Corie said.

Corie says what he really needed as a kid to keep him out of trouble was stability and guidance from positive role models. Instead he had cops following him, dealers for mates and a bunch of trauma he was trying to drown out. By 18, Corie was sent to jail for robbery and reckless wounding. He says he was so drunk he didn’t even realise where he was.

To view the Triple J HACK article What do young people need to stay away from jail? in full click here.

Uncle Glen from The Glen Centre with white face paint standing in front of 9 men, 8 with faces & chests painted with white paint & one with a black t-shirt & white paint on his forehead

Uncle Glenn (front) says ‘The Glen Centre’ adopts a holistic approach to rehabilitation, with a focus on integrating Indigenous culture and spirituality. Image source: ABC News website.

In a related story, Amnesty International Australia have expressed disappointment that the Committee charged with investigating the proposed youth justice amendments in Queensland has recommended the amendments pass, despite its own report being full of evidence that they will do nothing to address youth crime. The youth justice amendments seek to take a punitive approach to young children who often have complex needs the justice system is ill equipped to address, and which ultimately condemn these kids to life in the quagmire of the criminal justice system. Amnesty International Australia Indigenous Rights Campaigner Maggie Munn gave evidence at the committee hearings.

To view Amnesty International Australia’s media release click here.

two Aboriginal youths in Darwin Don Dale Juvenile Prison

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

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Acceleration of efforts to reduce overincarceration

feature tile text 'Joint Council agrees to accelerate collective efforts to reduce overincarceration of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people' & photo of an Aboriginal man's hands through prison bars

Acceleration of efforts to reduce overincarceration

The Joint Council on Closing the Gap met today and acknowledged the 30th anniversary of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody and agreed that joined up work between all governments in partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander representatives is critical to reducing the rate at which Indigenous people are incarcerated, and thereby reduce deaths in custody. Given the urgency and enduring nature of this issue Joint Council agreed to the high priority of accelerating the critical work to establish a Policy Partnership on Justice with the aim of reducing youth and adult incarceration.

Patricia Turner AM, Lead Convener of the Coalition of Peaks said “It’s vital that governments, in partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander representatives, are taking urgent and decisive steps to address the overincarceration of our peoples. For the first time, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander representatives will be at the table with Ministers, Attorneys’-General, government officials, corrections, policing, housing and health under a formal shared decision making arrangement.”

To view the Coalition of Peaks media release click here.

protest march with placard of Aboriginal flag overlaid with text 'most incarcerated people on earth'

Photo: Getty. Image source: BBC News website.

Aboriginal people still dying in custody

Aboriginal man David Dungay Jr died in a Sydney prison cell in 2015 after officers restrained him to stop him eating biscuits. During the struggle, he was pinned face-down by guards and jabbed with a sedative. Video later shown at his inquest captured his final moments: his laboured breathing and muffled screams under the pack of guards. “I can’t breathe,” he yelled repeatedly.

His case has parallels to that of African-American man George Floyd, whose death triggered global protests against racism and policing in the US. The Black Lives Matter movement also threw a spotlight on Australia’s own incarceration of indigenous people and their deaths in custody.

This week marks 30 years since a landmark inquiry into Aboriginal deaths in custody. The royal commission made hundreds of recommendations to address the crisis. But three decades on, the situation has worsened. Central to the problem is overrepresentation. Indigenous people are about 12 times more likely to be in custody than non-indigenous Australians.

That reality, a product of systemic problems and disadvantage faced by Aboriginal people, has prompted fresh anger over a lack of action. “The system is continuing to kill us and no one’s doing anything about it,” Paul Silva, the nephew of David Dungay Jr, said at a rally this week.

To view the BBC article in full click here.

2 young Aboriginal women BLM protestors, one with t-shirt Always Was Always Will Be holding up hands covered in red paint to indicate blood, other woman holding Aboriginal flag behind her with raised arms, t-shirt with text black' and Aboriginal flag broken into 4 horizontal rectangular segments

Photo: Getty: Image source: BBC News website.

Deaths in custody & intergenerational healing

The Healing Foundation CEO Fiona Cornforth spoke with Dan Bourchier, ABC Radio 666 Canberra ‘Afternoons’ yesterday about the 30-year anniversary of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody and intergenerational healing.

Fiona Cornforth said “it is an important time to do that reflecting. Though it’s something we carry every day, I think, as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Unfortunately, we’re at a point now where we’ve lost hope in recommendations being fully implemented, despite all our voices being in these reports over time and people being generous and courageous to put forward their stories, time and time again. Where the solutions are in community, the solutions are given up as important by those with lived experience. But the powers that be and the complex system, the incarceration system, and all the service providers, the big web just can’t seem to get these recommendations out of the too hard basket.”

You can view a transcript of the interview here.

Aboriginal adult hand with small Aboriginal child's hand holding one of the fingers

Image source: Parks Australia website.

NDIS independent assessments on hold

The Morrison government has decided to delay introducing mandatory independent assessments (IAs) for the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), in a move strongly welcomed by disability groups.

New NDIS Minister Linda Reynolds said earlier this week that she would not be making any decisions around in IAs legislation until an IA trial was finished and the government could examine the feedback. While people currently need to get reports from multiple health providers of their choosing to assess their NDIS eligibility, the new mandatory assessments will be conducted by NDIS-appointed healthcare professionals using standardised tools.

The decision to introduce IAs has been met with overwhelming opposition from disability advocates, who say the process does not adequately capture the complexity of a person’s support needs and will lead to unfair outcomes for people with disability. Reynolds acknowledged the “significant feedback” IAs have already received, and said she would be consulting across the country with as many stakeholders as she could. Disability groups – who feared people would disengage from the scheme entirely because of their unwillingness to engage with IAs – strongly welcomed the minister’s comments.

To view the Pro Bono Australia article in full click here.

rear view of seat and wheel of a wheelchai

Image source: Pro Bono Australia News website.

The more that have the vaccine, the safer we’ll be

NACCHO CEO and lead convenor of the Coalition of Peaks, Pat Turner and NACCHO Deputy CEO, Dr Dawn Casey received their first AstraZeneca vaccines at Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health and Community Services last week. “The more people have the vaccinations, the safer we will be,” said Pat. “We’ve managed to keep our community free of any deaths from COVID-19 to date and we want to continue that outstanding record.”

Contact your local Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation or GP to find out when you can receive your vaccine and to ask any questions you may have. To view the  Pat Turner’s video click here.

photo of Pat Turner receiving vaccine, text 'NACCHO CEO & Lead Convenor of the Coalition of Peaks PAT TURNER'

Review of kidney transplant wait-listing

Research has confirmed poor access to wait-listing for kidney transplantation for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians from the NT. The study found causes of delays to wait-listing included: failure to attend appointments due to competing priorities and communication barriers, access and navigating complex pathways to specialist services, transport, co-morbidities requiring multiple tests and multiple specialty services, and pressures on dialysis and hospital bed capacity.

The study concluded that barriers to wait-listing for kidney transplantation for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians are complex and can be addressed by redesigning healthcare provision, including increasing the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander workforce to provide education and patient navigation of the healthcare system and improve communication, streamlining investigations and coordinating specialist services.

To view the full research paper here.

health professional in green gown, green rubber gloves holding white box with red text ' HUMAN ORGAN FOR TRANSPLANT' against surgical theatre background

Image source: Renal and Urology News.

Lessons from subsidised spectacles scheme

A study has been undertaken to determine what lessons can be learned from the Victorian Aboriginal Spectacles Subsidy Scheme (VASSS). The VASSS, which started in July 2010 and has operated continually since, aims to improve access to visual aids and eye care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Victorians.

An estimated 10,853 VASSS cofunded visual aids were delivered over the first 6 years of the scheme. During that time the mean annual number of comprehensive eye examinations provided within services using VASSS grew 4.6-fold faster compared with the 4 years preceding the VASSS. VASSS achievements were attained through collaborations, flexibility, trust and communication between organisations, all facilitated by funding resulting from evidence-based advocacy.

Access to visual aids and eye examinations by Aboriginal Victorians has improved during the operation of the VASSS, with associated direct and indirect benefits to Aboriginal health, productivity and quality of life. The success of the VASSS may be replicable in other jurisdictions and provides lessons that may be applicable in other fields.

To view the full research paper click here.

Aboriginal man wearing eye test equipment spectacles

Image source: Optometry Australia website.