NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Time to treat sick kids, not punish them

The Fairfax Media image in the feature tile is from a WAtoday article One-stop-shop youth prison model a ‘failure’ as MP calls for to Banksia Hill to close published on 2 November 2018.

Time to treat sick kids, not punish them

The Policy Impact Program is a partnership between The Winston Churchill Trust and The University of Queensland (UQ). It aims to help Churchill Fellows draw upon the international knowledge they gain on their Fellowships to best inform policy reform in Australia. Policy Futures: A Reform Agenda is the Program’s flagship publication which combines some of the best of the Churchill Fellows’ insights with the policy and governance expertise of UQ’s Centre for Policy Futures.

Professor Thomas Edwin Calma, AO, co-Patron of The Winston Churchill Trust, said: “Policy Futures second issue includes four Churchill Fellow-developed reform agendas that have the potential to not only transform many Indigenous peoples’ lives for the better, but also support Australian Governments to achieve the 2020 National Agreement on Closing the Gap targets.”

One of the four Fellows, Clement Ng, found almost 95% of children in NT detention are Indigenous. Research suggests that effective strategies that improve the mental health of First Nations young people will reduce their criminalisation and in turn, their over-representation. The Royal Commission and Board of Inquiry into the Protection and Detention of Children in the NT found 56% of children who gave evidence about their experience in youth detention had a history of self-harm and/or suicidal ideation. Further, justice-involved children are more likely to receive more than one mental health diagnosis or suffer from a dual diagnosis of mental health and substance misuse. Unfortunately, the current funding the NT receives for mental health services per capita is the lowest in the country and none of the community mental health services at present have capacity to meet demand.

Policy recommendations from Mr Ng’s research include:

  • Pilot a youth mental health diversion list in the NT.
  • Involve ACCHOs to co-design and deliver holistic community mental health services.

To read The Mandarin article Policy futures: A reform agenda in full click here.

Image source: Orygen Youth Mental Health Policy Briefing 2018.

Leading cause of death for mob – cancer

Jacinta Elston was in her 20s and had just had her first child when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. The Queensland mother needed surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy, to fight the disease, and almost 20 years later is cancer-free. She was working as an assistant professor of Indigenous health at James Cook University, which meant she had a good knowledge of the medical system.

She said other members of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island community may not be as used to dealing with, or even talking about cancer. “I’ve seen family, friends, mob and community who haven’t had the same sort of outcomes I have, ” Elston said. “Cancer hasn’t really been in our vocabulary in the same way that heart disease and diabetes and renal dialysis has been,” she said. “It’s now our leading cause of death.” First Nations Australians are almost one and a half times more likely to die from cancer compared to non-Indigenous Australians.

The group are more likely to get the disease but less likely to use screening services, like those on offer for bowel or breast cancer, according to Cancer Australia figures from 2015–2019.

To view the 9 News article ‘Cancer hasn’t been in our vocabulary’: Plan to tackle ‘leading cause of death’ for Indigenous Australians in full click here.

Professor Jacinta Elston is working to improve cancer survival in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders. Image source: 9 NEWS.

Global challenge to find health fixes for Pilbara

The WA government has announced a global challenge in hopes to improve health incomes in remote parts of the Pilbara. Medical Research Minister Stephen Dawson announced the newly titled The Challenge last week. The WA government joined partners with corporate investors for a $5 million reward for applicants who are able to provide the best solution to enhance health care in the Pilbara.

Lead by the WA Department of Health, The Challenge seeks submissions from industry, the private sector, public sector agencies, universities, research institutes or collaborations from international organisations. Mr Dawson said the challenge wanted to find a technology solution to improve health outcomes for Pilbara residents.

“This is about improving the health of Western Australians living in rural and remote areas to reduce disease and injury for the community and particularly for remote Aboriginal communities,” he said. “We’re not calling for improvements, or incremental change. We need real change, we need world-leading innovation. We are looking for an outcome which harnesses new technology, deploys digital health to its full potential, and ensures all Western Australians can access the health services they need, and deserve.”

To read the National Indigenous Times article WA Govt sets mutli-million dollar global challenge to find health fixes for remote Pilbara communities in full click here.

WA’s Pilbara. Photo: Oliver Strewe – Getty Images. Image source: The Guardian.

Better care for people living with eating disorders

The Albanese Government is investing $13 million to help mental health professionals and researchers improve treatment outcomes for Australians living with eating disorders. The InsideOut Institute will receive $13 million to fund the Australian Eating Disorders Research and Translation Centre, which was officially launched by the Assistant Minister for Mental Health and Suicide Prevention, Emma McBride at the University of Sydney yesterday.

Eating disorders have some of the highest mortality rates of any mental illness and many Australians often go undiagnosed. The new centre will focus on research to prevent and treat eating disorders, translating these developments into frontline services and co-designing treatments with people with lived experience, their family, and carers.

To view the Minister McBride’s media release Better care for people living with eating disorders in full click here. The below Butterfly Foundation Every BODY is Deadly video was developed to bring greater awareness to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities about the signs and supports available for people impacted by eating disorders.

Social Work Perspectives on FASD webinar

The Australasian Professional Society on Alcohol and other Drugs is hosting a webinar Social Work Perspectives on FASD at 1:00PM (AEDT) Wednesday 16 November 2022.

In this webinar, social work perspectives on FASD will be explored drawing on evidence from research, practitioner and caregiver studies and experiences. Three presenters will focus on the current situation in NZ. Dr Joanna Chu will identify the knowledge and attitude gaps among social work professionals recently surveyed by researchers from the University of Auckland; Karleen Dove will consider the roles and responsibilities and other key issues for social workers when helping families where FASD is identified as a likely disability for a child; and Professor Anita Gibbs will draw on research and lived experience to discuss best practice from social workers that is neuro-informed, culturally safe, system-wide, attuned to what families want and need, and ensures healthy outcomes for all.

To register for the Social Work Perspectives on FASD webinar click here.

National Indigenous Legal & Health Justice Conference

The National Indigenous Legal & Health Justice Conference 2022 kicks off on Sunday 4 December 2022.

Major topics of the conference include: Treaty, Voice, and Truth-Telling; Native Title and Land Rights; Health justice and justice reinvestment; Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion; the over-representation of children and young people in State systems; the failure of Aboriginal heritage and environmental protection laws; intellectual property rights; and the challenges facing legal aid and access to justice.

Confirmed speakers include: Senator Pat Dobson – Chair of Joint Standing Committee on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs; Michael Mansell – activist, lawyer, and author of Treaty and Statehood; Donnella Mills – Chair of NACCHO and spokesperson for Health Justice; Pat O’Shane – former Magistrate and activist; Pat Turner AM – CEO of NACCHO and spokesperson for Coalition of Closing the Gap Peak Bodies; Corey Tutt OAM – founder and CEO of @Deadly Science; Leah Cameron – principal of Marrawah Law and Aboriginal expert on Australian Heritage Council; Patricia Adjei – Australia Council of the Arts; Jamie Lowe, CEO of National Native Title Council along with Native Title Senior Counsel, Aboriginal lawyers, serving and retired Magistrates; experts and law students; and legal aid practitioners.

Tickets for the National Indigenous Legal & Health Justice Conference are now on sale here.

Sector Jobs

Sector Jobs – you can see sector job listings on the NACCHO website here.

Advertising Jobs – to advertise a job vacancy click here to go to the NACCHO website Current job listings webpage. Scroll down to the bottom of the page to find a Post A Job form. You can complete this form with your job vacancy details – it will then be approved for posting and go live on the NACCHO website.

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Indigenous perspectives of planetary health

The image in the feature tile is artwork by Yaegl artist Frances Belle Parker, who explained the symbolism of her artwork: the gum leaf shape, when upright, can also represent a flame. Inside the leaf is an aerial mapping of the Clarence River, the river is one that connects all people of the Clarence Valley. The dots represent people and the stripes represent the resilience embedded into us as people. The yellow dashes represent the bushfires which have caused havoc in the region, the green represents the replenishing and the new growth of nature. Image source: Monash University article Indigenous knowledge at the heart of planetary health published on the Monash Sustainable Development Institute webpage on 1 July 2022.

Indigenous perspectives of planetary health

The 2022 United Nations Climate Change Conference, more commonly referred to as Conference of the Parties of the UNFCCC, or COP27, is being held from 6–18 November 2022 as the 27th United Nations (UN) Climate Change conference. This year marks the 30th anniversary of the adoption of the UNs Framework Convention on Climate Change. In the thirty years since, the world has come a long way in the fight against climate change and its negative impacts on our planet; we are now able to better understand the science behind climate change, better assess its impacts, and better develop tools to address its causes and consequences.

Indigenous Peoples have resiliently weathered continued assaults on their sovereignty and rights throughout colonialism and its continuing effects. Indigenous Peoples’ sovereignty has been strained by the increasing effects of global environmental change within their territories, including climate change and pollution, and by threats and impositions against their land and water rights.

This continuing strain against sovereignty has prompted a call to action to conceptualise the determinants of planetary health from a perspective that embodies Indigenous-specific methods of knowledge gathering from around the globe. A group of Indigenous scholars, practitioners, land and water defenders, respected Elders, and knowledge-holders came together to define the determinants of planetary health from an Indigenous perspective. Three overarching levels of interconnected determinants, in addition to ten individual-level determinants, were identified as being integral to the health and sustainability of the planet, Mother Earth.

To view The Lancet article The determinants of planetary health: an Indigenous consensus perspective in full click here.

Photo: Nicolas Rakotopare. Image source: Threatened Species Recovery Hub website.

SWAMSmob digital health platform wins award

SWAMSmob app, a digital health platform designed specifically for the South West Aboriginal Medical Service (SWAMS) and their patients is the annual Curtinnovation Awards Faculty of Health Sciences winner. The app enables SWAMS patients to access telehealth and health promotion information 24-hours a day. It provides another way for SWAMS to engage and connect with the Aboriginal residents and promote wellbeing, by enabling GPs and Aboriginal healthcare workers to provide individual or group health consultations.

The app is novel in that it has been programmed for Aboriginal identity and cultural practices as well as health features. For example, the app accommodates ‘men only’ and ‘women only’ spaces. Importantly, the app will also help to increase digital literacy and technology education among Aboriginal users. Overall, the technology helps SWAMS to transform be more prepared for health challenges and to help Close the Gap.

To view the Curtin University article Alzheimer’s discovery crowned overall Curtinnovation winner in full click here.

Ieramaguadu woman uses FASD diagnosis to help mob

For 43-year-old Ieramagadu (Roebourne) woman Rachel Sampson, her diagnosis of foetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) opened the door to work and putting smiles on the faces of mob in the Pilbara. After accessing the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) via Mawarnkarra Health Service, Ms Sampson took on the role of an NDIS community connector.

FASD can cause a range of complications to those exposed to alcohol in the womb. For Ms Sampson, difficulties concentrating and being easily distracted have been a factor in life. Now difficulties once endured to find work have shifted to a new confidence in her knack for brightening others’ days, travelling around Ieramagadu, Wickham and Karratha to assist people living with disabilities with their everyday needs and tasks. “I feel very proud of it,” Ms Sampson said. “I really feel that I’ve found my purpose to help others. It was nerve-wracking when I first started, but with love and support, with these guys I found my confidence.

To view the National Indigenous Times article The Roebourne foetal alcohol disorder sufferer turning disability into opportunity for local mob in full click here.

Ieramagadu (Roebourne) woman Rachel Sampson. Image supplied by: Regen Strategic. Image source: National Indigenous Times.

Non-Indigenous world views still inform health research

While Indigenous health research is often following guidelines aimed at ensuring Indigenous participation and governance, much of the research is still largely based on non-Indigenous world views, according to Australian researchers. Researchers conducted a survey of about 250 people involved in Indigenous research,to find out how frequently the National Health and Medical Research Council’s (NHMRC) ethics guidelines for Indigenous health and medical research were being followed. They say while the non-compulsory guidelines were seeing widespread use, Indigenous health research is still largely informed by non-Indigenous world views, led by non-Indigenous people, and undertaken in non-Indigenous organisations.

According to the researchers the fundamental question raised by the survey was “how can Indigenous health research benefit Indigenous people without meaningful oversight and participation by Indigenous people?” The survey findings suggest that barriers to translating the NHMRC guidelines into research practice remain,” they wrote. “These include inadequate levels of education about applying the guidelines, the history of Indigenous health research in Australia, and Indigenous governance and data sovereignty. Most importantly, we found that Indigenous governance and participation was inadequate at each stage of research. Re-orientation and investment are needed to give control of the framing, design, and conduct of Indigenous health research to Indigenous people.”

To view the Medical Journal of Australia media release Indigenous Health Research: governance by Indigenous organisations vital in full click here.

Aboriginal doctor and researcher Professor Alex Brown is leading a five-year $5m project to advance the benefits from Genomic Medicine for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Image source: John Curtin School of Medical Research, ANU.

Kimberley urgently needs youth suicide action

A suicide in Fitzroy Crossing has sparked renewed calls for urgent action to address mental health needs among young people in the Kimberley. The recent death came two weeks after an attempted suicide by another young person. Local businessman Patrick Green said the blackout occurred after a young boy who had repeatedly sought medical attention attempted to take his own life.

WA Mental Health Commission’s operations acting deputy commissioner Ann Marie Cunniffe said Fitzroy Crossing Hospital provided 24/7 access to mental health support through drug and alcohol teams, psychiatrists and telehealth services. “Nurses and doctors at Fitzroy Crossing Hospital also work with Aboriginal liaison officers to provide cultural support and ensure care is culturally appropriate,” she said. Ms Cunniffe said the Kimberley Aboriginal Youth Wellbeing Steering Committee has been established to support Aboriginal community-led solutions to improve Aboriginal youth wellbeing.

The Committee facilitates implementation of the 86 recommendations identified in the State Coroner’s 2019 Inquest, among other measures. Ms Cunniffe said Aboriginal-led solutions and cultural understanding and respect were guiding principles of the approach. “The Commission funds regional Community Liaison Officers across the State, including the Kimberley,” she said. “These positions are employed by ACCHOs as they have the strongest understanding of their region, knowledge of appropriate cultural considerations and local issues.”

To view the National Indigenous Times article Youth suicide sparks renewed call for urgent action in the Kimberley in full click here.

Patrick Green, Photo: Giovanni Torre. Image source: National Indigenous Times.

Chlamydia prevention and management

14 years on from a call for innovative chlamydia screening programs to reduce the high rates of notifications in Australia at the time, chlamydia remains as the country’s most notified bacterial sexually transmissible infection (STI). Most new chlamydia infections are occurring among young people aged 15–29 years. An important exception is that notification rates appear to be falling in women under 25 years old, for whom chlamydia testing rates have plateaued and positivity among those tested is declining.

In addition to people with female reproductive organs and young people aged 15–29 years, chlamydia is also disproportionately high among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, people living in remote and very remote areas, those with greater socio‐economic disadvantage, and among gay and bisexual men. People who are pregnant are also a priority population, where chlamydia infection is associated with miscarriage, stillbirth, preterm birth, low birth weight, and postpartum infections in the mother and/or newborn. Once treated, an individual may become reinfected, contributing to further potential transmission and increasing the risk of morbidity in the form of pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), ectopic pregnancies, infertility, and chronic pelvic pain. Chlamydia remains a significant public health issue in Australia, with the search for novel prevention and management strategies ongoing.

To reduce the burden of disease from chlamydia in Australia, comprehensive follow‐up of cases and contacts to reduce the risk of complications is required. When chlamydia is detected, retesting at 3 months for reinfection and performing thorough partner tracing and management can help interrupt transmission and reduce the risk of reinfection and reproductive complications. Further studies investigating the timing of testing and treatment of chlamydia infections on the progression to reproductive complications will help guide public health strategies to further reduce the burden of chlamydia in Australia.

To view the Medical Journal of Australia article Chlamydia prevention and management in Australia: reducing the burden of disease in full click here.

Chlamydia bacteria. Image source: Medicine Plus website.

Sector Jobs

Sector Jobs – you can see sector job listings on the NACCHO website here.

Advertising Jobs – to advertise a job vacancy click here to go to the NACCHO website Current job listings webpage. Scroll down to the bottom of the page to find a Post A Job form. You can complete this form with your job vacancy details – it will then be approved for posting and go live on the NACCHO website.

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Arts can have positive impacts on health

The image in the feature tile is from day one of the Purrumpa First Nations Arts & Culture National Gathering 2022 at the Adelaide Convention Centre, Monday 31 October 2022. Image source: Australia Council for the Arts Facebook page.

Arts can have positive impacts on health

‘Aboriginal health’ means not just the physical wellbeing of an individual but refers to the social, emotional and cultural wellbeing of the whole community in which each individual is able to achieve their full potential as a human being, thereby bringing about the total wellbeing of their community. It is a whole-of-life view and includes the cyclical concept of life-death-life.

Engagement with the arts can have powerful impacts on health, wellbeing and the strengthening of communities. Access to the arts helps people connect socially and participate in their community’s cultural life. The role of the arts in exploring and communicating social concerns, giving voice to hidden issues and allowing self-expression is also a major contributor to health.

Today is the last day of Purrumpa, a 5-day national gathering and celebration of First Nations arts and culture in Adelaide. Australia Council Executive Director for First Nations Arts and Culture Franchesca Cubillo said “Purrumpa will include deep listening, as well as important conversations about First Nations peoples’ self-determination, development, and priorities for the national advocacy of First Nations arts and culture.”

You can find out more about the Purrumpa gathering here and you can find further information about the connection between the arts and health, including the role of arts in Aboriginal culture and health and how the arts improve health, in this Victorian Health Promotion Foundation’s publication Promoting Aboriginal health through the arts – Overview of supported projects available here.

Images from the Australian Council for the Arts Facebook page.

Julie Tongs leading the way in health care

Julie Tongs has been the CEO of Winnunga Nimmityjah, one of 144 ACCHOs nationally, for 25 years, and says her vision has always been for Winnunga to be a leader in the provision of primary health care. “Winnunga is a leader in providing comprehensive primary health care and is pivotal to the overall health system in the ACT and surrounding NSW region,” she says. “Winnunga clients come from 324 suburbs. “In the 2021–22 financial year Winnunga provided 92,000 occasions of care to 8,295 clients.”

Julie says this included COVID-19 vaccinations, testing clinics, telephone consults, walk-in services to GPs, as well as psychologists, psychiatrists, podiatrist, optometry, physiotherapy, dieticians, drug and alcohol help and mental health nurses. “In 2019, just before COVID-19 lockdown, Winnunga commenced a large-scale building project, which was quite challenging,” says Julie.

“However, we were able to deliver a brand new $20 million fit-for-purpose building, which was funded by the ACT government, Commonwealth government and Winnunga. “The building is outstanding.” Clients come from all walks of life, Tongs says. “They come to us because they feel safe here and not judged.”

To view the CBR City News article Celebrating the amazing women paving the way in full click here.

Julie Tongs… “I’m not your generic CEO. I’ve had a chequered life, and I’m a little bit left of field.” Photo: Holly Treadaway. Image source: CBR City News.

Funding for crime prevention projects

Queensland Minister for Children and Youth Justice and Minister for Multicultural Affairs The Honourable Leanne Linard has announced a new round of the Community Partnership Innovation Grants for community organisations that have projects that aim to tackle youth crime. Applications encouraged from not-for-profit groups, the social services and health sectors, Aboriginal and Torres Islander Elders and community-controlled organisations, businesses and social enterprises, and academics.

Minister Linard said individuals, families and communities all have a critical role to play when it comes to preventing and reducing youth offending, “These efforts can be critical in preventing youth offending – given local communities are often the first to see when a young person disconnects from family, stops attending school or shows anti-social behaviour.”

“Earlier this year, I introduced the grants scheme after hearing how strongly local communities wanted to be part of the solution. There is a strong desire amongst communities to help vulnerable young people achieve a better life. In many communities there are already innovative initiatives in place that just need some funding to get off the ground,” she said. “The experience and knowledge that local communities bring to the table can only strengthen our response to keep communities safe while supporting young people to make positive contributions.”

Up to $300,000 will be available for individual projects, as part of the $3 million allocated to the grants scheme in the 2022–23 State Budget. Applications for round two can be submitted until Monday 30 January 2023 through Smarty Grants online here. To view The National Tribune article Community projects focus on preventing crime in full click here.

The Yinda cultural mentoring program was designed by Indigenous elders to tackle youth crime in Townsville from the ground up. Photo: David Chen. ABC North Queensland.

Aboriginal health services best for prisons

According to the Victorian government, healthcare in prison is of the same standard as the community. Correct Care Australasia, the for-profit, US-owned company with more than $700 million in contracts to provide healthcare in prisons, has made the same commitment.

But it’s hard to imagine any community which would accept the poor, neglectful and punitive standard of “care” provided to people in Victoria’s prisons. Contrary to the views of many politicians, prosecutors and judges, prisons are not safe places for anyone. They are particularly unsafe for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, who were 3 times more likely to not receive all required medical care before they died in custody.

If Victoria is to follow its commitment to self-determination, it must also heed calls by VACCHO for Aboriginal health services, which are best placed to provide culturally safe care, to be engaged in prisons. To read the Brisbane Times opinion Piece Indigenous Victorians pay a high price when prisons prioritise profit in full click here.

Image source: The Canberra Times.

Stroke rates higher for mob

It takes a lot to shock someone like Phil McDonald. The Mollymook based Stroke Foundation ambassador said he was horrified to learn that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are 1.5 times more likely to experience a stroke than non-Indigenous Australians. “I want to be an example for other people. I want to inspire people to take control of their health and become fitter and healthier version of themselves,” he said.

He is preparing for the fight of his life as he prepares to step into the ring in Yagoona this weekend. The Mollymook resident will participate in this weekend’s Indigenous All Stars versus the World Boxing Tournament which aims to promote reconciliation. He hopes to raise awareness about the overrepresentation of stroke in Indigenous Australia.

Phil has been a champion for a stroke since losing his beloved dad James last year. In 2021 Phil broke a world record and raised thousands for the Stroke Foundation by taking on amateur and professional boxers to complete a series of 150 three-minute rounds. To read the Milton Ulladulla Times article  Stroke higher for Indigenous Australians say Stroke Foundation in full click here.

Phil McDonald in training. Image source: South Coast Register.

Making a difference for mums and bubs

Tackling a digital divide and improving health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mothers and babies is the aim of an Australian-first project involving First Nations community leaders and University of Queensland (UQ) researchers. The Digital Infrastructure For improving First Nations Maternal and Child Health (DIFFERENCE) project has been awarded $3 million under the Federal Government’s Medical Research Future Fund.

Chief Investigator UQ’s Associate Professor Clair Sullivan said the project would help link disparate records across different heath care services with an intent to improve maternal and perinatal health outcomes. “There is a data disconnect between primary and hospital care so it is hard for medical professionals to see all the information they need to make important decisions,” Dr Sullivan said.

“There are high maternal and infant morbidity and mortality rates amongst Aboriginal Torres Strait Islander women and babies compared to Australia’s relatively low national rates,” Dr Sullivan said. “First Nations mothers are three times more likely to die during childbirth compared to other women, and babies are more likely to be born either with fetal growth restriction, small for their gestation age, stillborn or preterm. These concerning statistics are why we are embarking on this project.” To read UQ News article Making a difference to First Nations mums and bubs in full click here.

Photo: Caro Telfer, Adobe. Image source: UQ News.

Sector Jobs

Sector Jobs – you can see sector job listings on the NACCHO website here.

Advertising Jobs – to advertise a job vacancy click here to go to the NACCHO website Current job listings webpage. Scroll down to the bottom of the page to find a Post A Job form. You can complete this form with your job vacancy details – it will then be approved for posting and go live on the NACCHO website.

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Suicide prevention video launched

The image in the feature tile is from The Guardian article Numbers tell devastating story in latest Aboriginal youth suicide inquest, published on 7 February 2019. Photo Grant Faint, Getty Images.

Suicide prevention video launched

A suicide prevention video has been launched at the Indigenous Being Wellbeing Conference. Over 500 delegates last week attended the Australian and NZ Mental Health Association (ANZMH) Indigenous Wellbeing Conference (IWC22) on Kaurna country (Adelaide).

A positive and much anticipated change is occurring in the political landscape of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander social and emotional wellbeing health space with Aboriginal controlled organisation Healing Works Australia (HWA)and Gayaa Dhuwi (Proud Spirit) being the major platinum sponsors of the conference. HWA was established in 2019 as an Indigenous led social enterprise delivering social and emotional wellbeing and suicide prevention training.

Kaela Bayliss a young Kamilaroi woman attending her first conference and supported by Dr Joe Tighe both from HWA gave the keynote address “Nothing About Us Without Us – Delivery of Culturally-Safe Social and Emotional Wellbeing and Evidence-Based Suicide Prevention Training“ and launched their new promotional video.

HWA aim to empower communities through sustainable outcomes. This is achieved by working with communities to determine their own unique needs so that they can more effectively respond competently to suicide. Suicide prevention starts with creating strong, competent communities working together to achieve resilience.

For more information about Healing Works Australia visit their website here.

APY Lands mental health model causes dismay

Vulnerable children living in some of Australia’s most remote communities are set to be left without a permanent, in-community mental health service, despite objections from elders, experts and one of the SA  government’s own departments. The ABC has seen a draft of the new model of care for the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) on the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) Lands, which provides psychiatric and wellbeing support to children aged 18 and under.

It proposes that staff from Adelaide fly in to two communities on a fortnightly basis, with another psychiatrist to make a minimum of two trips per year. Telehealth appointments are outlined as a way to provide ongoing support. Previously, two Western-trained staff lived and worked on the APY Lands for more than a decade but were removed without explanation more than a year ago. With no staff on the APY Lands, SA Health implemented what, it said, was a temporary telehealth and fly-in-fly-out (FIFO) service last year.

At the same time, SA’s chief psychiatrist, Dr John Brayley, reviewed the program. He found a FIFO model would see children “slipping through the cracks” and recommended several changes, including doubling the workforce and he insisted on-country staff remain part of the program. The new model of care document does not mention Dr Brayley’s report and does not follow several of his recommendations, including returning community-based staff to the APY Lands.

To view the ABC News article First Nations elders dismayed about FIFO mental health model planned for South Australia’s APY Lands in full click here.

Pukatja elder Jamie Nyaningu says he and his community have been left in the dark over changes to a key mental health service for children. Photo: Patrick Martin, ABC News.

Impact of obesity on life expectancy

A Queensland child born over the next 10 years could lose five years in life expectancy if the state’s current rate of obesity is not reduced, new modelling has found. A report, commissioned by state government agency Health and Wellbeing Queensland, shows the life expectancy of a child born in the decade from 2023 could decrease by between six months and 4.1 years in the general population.

For First Nations children born in Queensland, the shortened life expectancy could decrease by up to 5.1 years. Lead researcher Rhema Vaithianathan said the projections were based on a scenario where nothing was done to prevent the current rising obesity rates among children. “It is quite concerning, we might be facing the first generation of Queenslanders whose life expectancy is shorter than their parents,” she said. “That kind of life expectancy reverses almost two decades of progress of life expectancy.” She said the trajectory changed according to a range of factors including socio-economic status and geographical location.

To view the ABC News Health article Impact of obesity on life expectancy in Queensland children shown in new modelling click here.

Photo: shutterstock.com. Image source: The Conversation.

Funding to rebuild Mutitjulu Health Clinic

A new health clinic will be built in the remote community of Mutitjulu, on the lands of the Anangu people, as part of the Albanese Labor Government’s package of measures to improve First Nations health infrastructure.  The $8 million project will replace the Mutitjulu Health Service Clinic, which was built in the early 1990s. An entirely new facility will be built with modern healthcare and safety standards.

Proposed features include additional treatment rooms, an outdoor waiting area and a larger room to store critical medicines and pharmaceutical products, as well a garage for vehicles. The new clinic will be constructed on the site of the existing clinic and includes the cost of establishing a temporary facility during the construction phase.

The replacement of the Mutitjulu clinic is part of a wider investment of $164.3 million for vital health infrastructure projects that will provide modern, high-quality health clinics in areas of large and growing First Nations populations.

To view Senator McCarthy’s media release Funding to rebuild the Mutitjulu Health Clinic in full click here.

Mutitjulu Health Service. Image source: Central Australian Aboriginal Congress website.

Recommendations to address food security concerns

Local governments would be supported through law reform and specific funding to be more active in addressing growing concerns about food insecurity under recommendations from a NSW inquiry. The inquiry by the NSW Legislative Assembly Committee on Environment and Planning also makes many recommendations to improve food security for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, including calling for Aboriginal representation on Government’s emergency responses to food security crises.

The inquiry’s report, released this week, calls for the NSW Government to consult with Aboriginal peoples and Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations (ACCOs) to fund and support communities in food production and community traditional foods gardens. The Aboriginal Health & Medical Research Council of NSW (AHMRC) told the inquiry that community gardens have many benefits, and credited their success to community ownership and leadership, which promotes self-determination and food sovereignty.

The AHMRC highlighted that local food programs established by ACCOs are limited by short funding cycles and this is a consistent barrier for these programs. -The inquiry recommended the NSW Government consult with ACCOs and Indigenous Corporations to develop a strategy that sets out priorities and a framework to grow the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander-owned traditional foods industry.

To view the Croakey Health Media article Inquiry makes wide-ranging recommendations to address food security and related concerns in full click here.

Gina Lyons, Irrunytju WA. Photo: Suzanne Bryce, NPY Women’s Council. Image source: The Australian Prevention Partnership Centre website.

Sector Jobs

Sector Jobs – you can see sector job listings on the NACCHO website here.

Advertising Jobs – to advertise a job vacancy click here to go to the NACCHO website Current job listings webpage. Scroll down to the bottom of the page to find a Post A Job form. You can complete this form with your job vacancy details – it will then be approved for posting and go live on the NACCHO website.

NICU Awareness Month

November NICU Awareness Month is a time to highlight the importance of Neonatal Intensive Care Units and their amazing staff around Australia. Offering specialised care and making a difference to the more than 48,000 babies born premature or sick each year. 132 babies are born each day requiring specialised care.

Preterm birth remains the leading cause of death in children up to 5 years of age. The National average rate of preterm birth in Australia has remained relatively constant over the last 10 years (between 8.1 and 8.7%). Many of these babies lose their fight for life. For many Aboriginal babies, the news gets worse. In the NT, the preterm birth rate for our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander babies is almost double that of the non-Aboriginal population at over 14%.

The biggest discrepancy is in the extremely preterm gestational age. Aboriginal women in the NT are 4 times more likely to lose a baby between 20 and 23 weeks gestational age. That is before the baby even gets a chance to survive. This equates to too many mothers walking out of hospital without their babies in their arms.

For more information about November NICU Awareness Month visit the Miracle Babies Foundation website here and for further information about preterm birth in Aboriginal populations visit the Australian Preterm Birth Prevention Alliance website here.

Logo from Miracle Babies Foundation website and image from Australian Preterm Birth Prevention Alliance’s preterm birth in Aboriginal populations webpage.

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: ACCHO dreams come true with $15m for upgrade

The image in the feature tile is a render of Yadu Health’s new clinic as it appeared in the InDaily article ‘Dreams come true’: Dilapidated Aboriginal health clinic gets $15m upgrade on Tuesday 1 November 2022. Image: Das Studio + MDLR.

ACCHO dreams come true with $15m for upgrade

The Albanese Government handed Yadu Health Aboriginal Corporation $13.35m in its first budget handed down last week to cover the cost of replacing the dilapidated SA Health-owned building from which the service currently operates. That funding, which follows a Labor election commitment, adds to the $2.5m already committed by the Malinauskas Government in its June budget, bringing the total funding pool to $15.85 m.

About one third of Yadu Health’s 50-year-old building is deemed unsafe due to water damage, black mould and asbestos, with the service’s leaders claiming one staff member received an electric shock after water seeped into electrical wiring. Yadu Health, which supports about 3,000 people in Ceduna and surrounding communities such as Kooniba and Scotdesco in the state’s west, had repeatedly raised the clinic’s dilapidated condition with consecutive state and federal ministers.

Previous state governments claimed it was up to the federal government to fund the upgrade, while the Commonwealth rejected multiple grant applications, leaving the health service in limbo. SA Health last year granted Yadu Health a 99-year lease on the land, allowing it to construct a new building.

To read the InDaily article ‘Dreams come true’: Dilapidated Aboriginal health clinic gets $15m upgrade in full click here.

Yadu Health staff with SA Senator Marielle Smith, Aboriginal Affairs Minister Kyam Maher and Indigenous Australians Minister Linda Burney outside the Ceduna clinic. Image source: InDaily.

AIMhi-Y digital mental health tool launched

Menzies School of Health Research (Menzies) has launched a project which supports youth services in the NT and SA to use a newly developed early intervention digital mental health tool co-designed by young people, Aboriginal Elders and clinicians. The Aboriginal and Islander Mental Health Initiative for Youth (AIMhi-Y) program began in 2018. Its development has been supported by the NTPHN and the NT Government, including through work with government school students.

The next phase of the program is a 3-year project, supported by a grant from the Australian Government. The funding will enable youth services to include the newly developed AIMhi-Y smartphone app in treatment and support programs for young people.

To view the Menzies School of Health Research media release Menzies launches distribution of AIMhi-Y app in full click here.

AMSANT on Four Corners program ‘How many more?’

AMSANT has expressed deep concern about the crisis of murdered and missing Aboriginal women in Australia, documented in the recent ABC TV Four Corners program ‘How many more?’ AMSANT CEO Dr John Paterson, said: “I know that the level of concern and despair that we feel is shared by very many people across the nation. “Our hearts go out to the families and loved ones of those First Nations women who have suffered unimaginable deaths at the hands of perpetrators. We express to them our deepest condolences and respects.”

“The individual and collective trauma that accompanies the wholly unacceptable violence against Aboriginal women is made all the more painful by our knowledge of the institutional racism that helps to fuel this epidemic. The policing and justice systems must be accountable for their actions in failing to protect Aboriginal women by not taking their pleas for help seriously. Their systems must be reformed to recognise and respond to the danger signals and to provide culturally safe responses to Aboriginal women reporting domestic violence.”

“Importantly, we must elevate the voices of Aboriginal women in this space, including through strong mechanisms for Aboriginal governance. We already have great examples of inspiring leadership being shown, for example, from Aunty June Oscar through the Wiyi Yani U Thangani (Women’s Voices) project.”

To view the AMSANT media release AMSANT response to ABC TV Four Corners program on murdered and missing Aboriginal women in full click here.

June Oscar AO and cover of Wiyi Yani U Thangani – Securing Our Rights, Securing Our Future Report 2020. Image source: Indigenous X.

Videos to support first 2,000 days of life

Families in NSW are set to benefit from a series of new videos designed to support children and parents through the crucial first 2,000 days of life. The ‘Building Brains’ video series, developed as part of the NSW Government’s Brighter Beginnings initiative, is now available to all parents via the NSW Health website.

NSW Health Deputy Secretary Health System Strategy and Planning, Deb Willcox, said the ‘Building Brains’ resources will help parents better understand their child’s important developmental targets like how to play, learn, speak, act and move. “We are encouraging parents and carers to take their children for the health and developmental checks that are so crucial in the first 2,000 days of life. These videos are designed to help parents and carers understand why these checks are so important,” said Ms Willcox.

“We know early intervention is key to supporting children who may not be meeting their developmental milestones. These resources also help parents recognise the signs faster, allowing us to provide children and families with appropriate supports sooner.” The Brighter Beginnings initiative is a partnership between the Department of Education, NSW Health, the Department of Communities and Justice, the Department of Customer Service, the Department of Regional NSW, Multicultural NSW, Aboriginal Affairs, and the Department of Premier and Cabinet to drive transformational change in early childhood development.

To read the NSW Health media release Building brighter beginnings for NSW children in full click here.

Aiding the mental health of those most in need

It’s the mid-1990s, and Dr Anton Isaacs completed his medical degree in Bangalore, India before going out to a rural hospital, assisting the resident surgeon. “Towards the end of my two years there,” he says, “I woke up one morning with an insurmountable perception that surgery was not meant for me.” Many years on, Dr Isaacs is with Monash University’s School of Rural Health, based in Warragul. One of his current areas of research is the implementation of “social prescription”, where GPs and primary health workers assess and help the individual as a whole.

Dr Isaacs has just finished a mammoth two-decade body of work where he explored community-based systems to help the mental health of those least likely to be able to find it. He’s authored five papers addressing the Indian experience in a village called Mugalur, near Bangalore, and also the Indigenous Australian experience in the Latrobe Valley, near Melbourne, in communities of the Gunaikurnai people. The summary paper states that while the Indian service is still running, with more than 2000 registered “patients”, the Latrobe Valley model called the Koori Men’s Health Day, ran four times before running out of funding.

His two international case studies, the newest paper says, show “vastly different, albeit marginalised communities with an unmet need for mental health services”, with four “crucial elements” needed in delivering mental health care: mental health literacy, removing the stigma, cultural safety, and financial sustainability. The data that Aboriginal men are over-represented in more severe forms of mental illness, and also over-represented in patient care, and that they find it hard to seek help and tend to leave it until crisis point. Men tell him of “lack of trust in the health service, fear of hospitals, long waiting times, gender mismatches with caregivers, cultural differences and racism … the stigma of being labelled with a mental illness is particularly severe among those who experience economic disadvantage and face multiple stigmas [already].”

To view The National Tribune article From Bangalore to Warragul, aiding mental health of those most in need in full click here.

Koorie Men’s Health Day poster. Image source: The National Tribune.

Sector Jobs

Sector Jobs – you can see sector job listings on the NACCHO website here.

Advertising Jobs – to advertise a job vacancy click here to go to the NACCHO website Current job listings webpage. Scroll down to the bottom of the page to find a Post A Job form. You can complete this form with your job vacancy details – it will then be approved for posting and go live on the NACCHO website.

World AIDS Day 2022

World AIDS Day is held on 1 December each year. It raises awareness across the world and in the community about HIV and AIDS. It is a day for the community to show their support for people living with HIV and to commemorate people who have died of AIDS related conditions or other conditions associated with HIV.

The national World AIDS Day theme for Australia in 2022 is Boldly Positive World AIDS Day aims to encourage Australians to educate themselves and others about HIV; to take action to reduce the transmission of HIV by promoting prevention strategies; and to ensure that people living with HIV can participate fully in the life of the community, free from stigma and discrimination.

As a community and as individuals, there is a lot we can do in relation to HIV. Working in partnership with people with HIV, we can encourage others to understand how HIV is transmitted. We can support people to access testing, treatment and care, as we know that commencing treatment at the early stages of HIV results in better health outcomes and reduces the likelihood of onward transmission.

UNAIDS theme for World AIDS Day 2022 is “Equalize” is a call to action. It is a prompt for all of us to work for the proven practical actions needed to address inequalities and help end AIDS. Data from UNAIDS on the global HIV response reveals that during the last two years of COVID-19 and other global crises, progress against the HIV pandemic has faltered, resources have shrunk, and millions of lives are at risk as a result.  Four decades into the HIV response, inequalities still persist for the most basic services like testing, treatment, and condoms, and even more so for new technologies.

For more information about World AIDS Day 2022 click here.

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: $22.5m for Birthing on Country

The image in the feature tile is from the Birthing on Yuin Country Model of Care webpage of the Waminda website.

$22.5m for Birthing on Country

The Albanese government has cemented their commitment to supporting First Nations Women and their families with the announcement of $22.5m for the advancement of Waminda’s Birthing on Country Centre of Excellence, in Nowra.

Melanie Briggs, Waminda’s Minga Gudjaga & Birthing on Country Manager, says that this funding is a huge step forward for Aboriginal women on the South Coast and NSW. “…A First Nations led Birthing Centre of Excellence with wrap around supports, is at the forefront of decolonising maternity care systems for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women in this country. Aboriginal maternity models of care are the answer to improving the outcomes for First Nations mothers and babies.”

Waminda and the Minga Gudjaga program (Waminda’s Maternity & Childcare program) is already advancing in ready laid plans that will continue in to 2023. “…We are currently securing land, and we will be building a purpose-built facility, so that our mums can birth their babies in this place. We’re designing our birth centre. It’s designed by Waminda’s Cultural Committee and our women in community.”

To read Waminda’s media release $22.5 Million for Birthing on Country! in full click here.

Midwife Melanie Briggs holds newborn Talekai during a special cultural ceremony. Photo: Naomi Locke Photography. Image source: ABC News.

We must act NOW to save lives

Data released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) has revealed 3,144 Australians died by suicide in 2021, compared to 3,139 in 2020. Sadly, eight to nine people die by suicide every day. There were 2,358 male suicides (18.2 deaths per 100,000) and 786 female suicide deaths (6.1 per 100,000). Suicide was the 15th leading cause of death overall in 2021. Suicide was the most common cause of death for young people aged 15–24 years. In 2021, 219 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people died by suicide. The median age of death by suicide of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples was 30.2 years, more than a decade younger than the median age of death by suicide for the general population of 44.8 years. The gap is widening compared to last year (31.3 vs 43.5).

Suicide Prevention Australia CEO Nieves Murray said, “Suicide rates remained stubbornly high in 2021. One death by suicide is one too many and more needs to be done to turn the trend towards zero. “Data is incredibly important in suicide prevention. It helps inform how we approach suicide prevention and influences service and program delivery. Access to causes of death data is part of the picture, but we also need more timely data on suicide attempts to better understand and respond to distress in our communities.

To view the Hospital and Healthcare article We must act now to save lives, ABS data confirms in full click here.

Inclusive healthcare design fundamental

Inclusive design is not aspirational; it is fundamental. The places we create should reflect and include the voices of many different people, and this is particularly true for essential services such as healthcare.

Hassell’s research, ‘Equal access is not an optional extra,’ identifies that to create a truly inclusive environment, designers should go beyond regulatory accessibility compliance requirements and consider a more holistic and humanist approach to the concept of universal design. A wide range of principles addressing the issues of social integration, personalisation, and cultural appropriateness must be considered.

In Australia, the greater burden of disease for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders compared to the non-Indigenous population underscores the need for specific policies that improve the health of First Nations people through increasing cultural safety. If an environment doesn’t feel safe, it’s not.

To read the Architecture and Design article Hassell ramps up its research on healthcare design in full click here.

Puntukurnu Aboriginal Medical Service Healthcare Hub, WA. Image source: Australia Architecture News.

Empowering women to manage PCOS

New, culturally safe, easy-to-understand and beautifully designed resources for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women have been developed by Jean Hailes for Women’s Health and Central Australian Aboriginal Congress (CAAC).

“This project has been a great opportunity to inform Aboriginal women in our community about PCOS, and importantly help them understand that there are things that they can do to help manage the condition,” says Tahnia Edwards, Manager of CAAC’s Alukura Women’s Health Service.

Ms Edwards is referring to an exciting cooperation between Jean Hailes for Women’s Health and CACC funded by the Australian Government. The result of the cooperation? New, free, much needed and easy to understand health information for First Nations communities in the form of unique, engaging brochures, educational kits and animations to recognise and manage symptoms of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).

PCOS affecting 1 in 6 women with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander background

To read The Pharmacy Guild of Australia article Empowering First Nations women to learn about and manage polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) in full click here.

Decolonising mental health systems webinar

Indigenous peoples are custodians of knowledge systems vetted and refined by thousands of centuries of practice-based evidence. Prior to colonisation, these knowledge systems ensured the survival, health, and harmony of Indigenous peoples, communities, and ecosystems. Post-colonisation, the health and mental health gaps between non-Indigenous and Indigenous peoples has widened at alarming rates.

Transforming Indigenous Mental Health and Wellbeing (TIMHWB) is hosting a FREE WEBINARDecolonising Mental Health Systems: Global Experiences for Wellbeing from 10:00 AM – 12:00 PM on Friday 11 November 2022.

In this webinar, six Indigenous global leaders in mental health and wellbeing, from four colonised countries (Australian, NZ, Canada and the USA) will share their experiences of walking in two worlds and of navigating mental health systems to ensure the wellbeing, healing, and self-determination of Indigenous peoples. A holistic worldview is offered that moves away from the deficit- and individually- focused narrative of mental illness and considers the social, cultural, political, and historical context of health and the structural drivers of health inequality.

You can view a flyer with further details about the FREE webinar here and register here.

Limiting health impacts of climate change

Healthy Futures, an organisation of healthcare workers and community members working to limit the health impacts of climate change and pollution are currently inviting health organisations to support a letter to the NSW Government and Opposition, seeking a bipartisan commitment to 100% renewable stationary energy prior to the next election to reduce the health impacts of both fossil fuel combustion and climate change.  Pollution and climate change are likely to disproportionately affect Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Pollution and climate change are likely to disproportionately affect Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Healthy Futures are inviting as many healthcare workers and organisations as possible to endorse this letter by Wednesday 30 November 2022 to be able to deliver the letter well ahead of the March 2023 election.

You can access the letter to the NSW Government and Opposition here. The below video is part of Royal Society of Medicine’s Health Emergency of Climate Change 10-part series available on the Healthy Futures website here.

Sector Jobs

Sector Jobs – you can see sector job listings on the NACCHO website here.

Advertising Jobs – to advertise a job vacancy click here to go to the NACCHO website Current job listings webpage. Scroll down to the bottom of the page to find a Post A Job form. You can complete this form with your job vacancy details – it will then be approved for posting and go live on the NACCHO website.

Bandana Day 2022

Held on the last Friday in October, National Bandanna Day is the flagship fundraising and awareness campaign for Canteen. Since Bandanna Day began it has raised more than $35 million to support young people impacted by cancer.

For more information on Bandana Day tomorrow Friday 28 October 2022 click here.

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: NACCHO Annual Report 2021–2022

NACCHO Annual Report 2021–2022

The NACCHO Annual Report 2021–2022 s now available to view.

The cover illustration symbolises NACCHO as the peak body for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health working together with its members and affiliates towards the delivery of comprehensive and culturally competent primary health care.

It showcases the work and achievements of the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health sector and includes the audited financial statements for 2021–2022 and can be accessed here.

NACCHO and BHP partner to improve RHD outcomes

NACCHO and BHP have announced a partnership aimed at eliminating Rheumatic Heart Disease (RHD) and Acute Rheumatic Fever (ARF) among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. ARF and RHD are preventable diseases disproportionately affecting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples living in regional and remote areas. Between 2016 and 2020, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples accounted for 92% of all ARF diagnoses in Australia.

As part of the agreement, BHP will provide $9.7m over three years, helping to fund critical health care initiatives delivered by ACCHOs across Australia. The funding complements the $18m already committed by the Australian Government. An additional $13.5m is also anticipated following the Labour Party’s election commitment to combat RHD in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. This includes $1.5m that is prioritised for the investment in portable echo-cardiogram machines, training and support for primary health care workers, including Aboriginal Health Workers and Practitioners.

NACCHO CEO, Pat Turner, said: “NACCHO’s partnership with BHP and the Australian Government is the first-ever national Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Sector-led initiative to combat RHD in our communities. This partnership recognises that we are best placed to design and implement health services, including prevention, screening, early diagnosis, treatment and supportive care, for our own communities. This additional investment will expand the support provided by ACCHOs to deliver evidence-based ARF and RHD activities in their communities.”

BHP’s Chief Legal, Governance and External Affairs Officer Caroline Cox said: “BHP is proud to continue its support of NACCHO, building on partnerships established with the Aboriginal community-led health sector over many years. It is important that we back Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leadership and put Aboriginal health in Aboriginal hands, as NACCHO’s vision sets out. We are determined to play our part in the collective action required to address the underlying causes of these health issues, such as inequality, inadequate housing and long-standing health inequities.”

BHP’s investment follows $5.9m of donations to ACCHOs throughout the pandemic for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander-led COVID responses across the country.

You can view the joint NACCHO and BHP media release NACCHO and BHP partner to improve ARF and RHD outcomes in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities in full on the NACCHO website here.

Image source: BHP.

Killings, disappearances a crisis in plain sight

Last night ABC Four Corners aired a story “How Many More?” – a special investigation into Australia’s murdered and missing Indigenous women. In Australia Aboriginal women are among the most victimised groups in the world, murdered up to 12 times the national average. In some regions, their deaths make up some of the highest homicide rates in the world. The killings and disappearances of Indigenous women across Australia were described in the program a crisis hidden in plain sight.

The program shows a snapshot of what this tragedy looks like. Four Corners revealed that at least 315 First Nations women have either gone missing or been murdered or killed in suspicious circumstances since 2000. But this is an incomplete picture. We will likely never know the true scale of how many First Nations women have been lost over the decades. This is because there is no agency in Australia keeping count, and there is no standard way of collecting this important data in each state and territory.

Canada calls it a genocide. The United States considers it an epidemic. But here in Australia, we’re only just waking up to the scale of the crisis.

To read the ABC News article The killings and disappearances of Indigenous women across Australia is a crisis hidden in plain sight click here and view the Four Corners episode here.

Prevalence of hearing loss research

The Australian Government has announced close to $7.5m funding to support research that will help prevent hearing loss and improve the health and wellbeing of those who live with hearing impairment. Nine projects have been funded, including a number of projects focused on improving access to hearing health for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children.

Researchers at Flinders University will co-design culturally appropriate methods to overcome difficulties experienced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children accessing hearing healthcare. At Curtin University, researchers will provide the first estimates of the number of Aboriginal children who have ear infections and hearing loss from 0 to 5 years of age and will demonstrate the feasibility of screening for ear infections and hearing loss from 2 months of age.

The grants are funded for three years through the National Health and Medical Research Council’s (NHMRC) Targeted Call for Research into Hearing Health 2021: Evidence-based support services.

To read Minister Butler’s media release $7.5m for hearing health in full click here.

Image source: Central Australian Aboriginal Congress (CAAC) Ear and Hearing Health webpage or CAAC website.

Mental health stigma a barrier for veterans

An Indigenous Navy veteran says the Australian Defence Force (ADF) has failed to address stigma around mental health among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander veterans. Professor Brad Murphy OAM, who now runs a veteran-focused GP clinic after serving in the Navy as a leading senior medic, has given evidence before the Royal Commission into Defence and Veteran Suicide.

He told the commission the stigma attached to seeking help for mental health issues remained a “huge impediment” to caring for Indigenous veterans. “We’ve worked so terribly hard over the years to remove stigma associated with mental health,” Professor Murphy said. “No matter how much we’ve tried, we have failed in this regard. Having [Indigenous veterans] actually reach out, or having family or community that are strong enough and well resourced to actually reach out on their behalf is a significant challenge.”

Professor Murphy told the commission more support was needed for members transitioning out of service and back into civilian life. He said many members leaving the ADF were left disconnected from their sense of family and belonging. “Indigenous culture is very much about family and my own experience and certainly my understanding of military culture is of family,” Professor Murphy said.

To read the ABC News article Indigenous veteran Professor Brad Murphy tells Defence Suicide Royal Commission mental health stigma remains a barrier in full click here.

Photo: Siobhan Heanue, ABC News.

No progress in tackling obesity

Calls for a tax on sugary drinks and warning labels on junk food have increased after a new report showed Australia has made no progress in the fight to tackle obesity. Since 2017, the Food Policy Index has been tracking progress on federal and state government policies to reduce obesity rates in Australia. “Obesity is really a public health crisis in Australia,” said Gary Sacks, an Associate Professor at Victoria’s Deakin University, and a co-author of the latest update on the Food Policy Index. “We’ve got two thirds of adults are overweight or obese, and a quarter of kids are overweight or obese.

Inequities in socioeconomic status have meant certain populations are even more impacted by the prevalence of obesity. The groups include those at higher risk of chronic disease, such as Indigenous Australians and newly arrived migrants. “These communities are at extreme risk. In Central Australia, we’ve got 60% of the Aboriginal population living with Type 2 diabetes. Access to care, such as dialysis, is really complicated, you have to come off Country, water is a real issue,” Ms Martin said. “The supply of fresh food and sometimes flying food in when the wet comes is really, really challenging.”

The prevalence of being overweight or obese is higher in Indigenous Australians compared to the general population. Of First Nations people aged between 2 and 17, the prevalence is 38% versus 24% for non-Indigenous youths, according to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.

To read the SBS News article ‘A public health crisis’: This is how many Australians eat a healthy diet in full click here.

Image source: The Medical Journal of Australia.

Extending scope of practice concerns

Louise Stone, a GP with clinical, research, teaching and policy expertise in mental health and Associate Professor in the Social Foundations of Medicine group, Australian National University (ANU) Medical School has written an article for AMA InSight about the push to enable health care workers to work “top of scope”.

Professor Stone says that while the scope of practice is traditionally defined by professional standards, codes of ethics and codes of professional conduct, and includes skills that an individual practitioner is “educated, authorised, competent and confident to perform” it has often implied extending practice beyond the traditional limits of a particular role.

According to Professor Stone, there seems to be an assumption that this is a good thing for health care workers, will be cheaper for the health service, and any opposition to it is merely a “turf war” argument designed to protect existing siloes. Professor Stone however doesn’t think any of us have the right to extend our scope of practice without accepting the responsibility of submitting to appropriate oversight to keep the public safe.

To view the InSight+ article “Top of scope”: no rights without responsibilities in full click here.

Associate Professor Louise Stone. Image source: InSight+.

Australia’s Biggest Quiz to end hep C 

Australia’s Biggest Quiz is coming up TOMORROW Wednesday 26 October 2022.

Hepatitis Australia is asking everyone to register and participate in Australia’s Biggest Quiz which is the national community activation of the Ending Hepatitis C Campaign. Register here and join this history-making world record breaking trivia event to have some fun while raising awareness about hepatitis C and its cure!

In the five years since hepatitis C cures became available to everyone, the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living with hepatitis C has declined by 17%. But more work is needed to close the gap! Australia’s Biggest Quiz aims to raise awareness that hepatitis C has a simple cure. You can get tested at your local Aboriginal Medical Service or GP. Australia’s Biggest Quiz will take place at 16 venues in all states and territories, alongside a national virtual audience, to try break a Guinness World Record, while raising awareness of hepatitis C, and its cure.

You can help promote Australia’s Biggest Quiz using the Stakeholder General Communications Kit, available here. The kit contains: tiles for social media, guidance on how to use the digital communications material, Australia’s Biggest Quiz logo, posters, social media tiles and zoom backgrounds!

This campaign is brought to you by Hepatitis Australia who is working in partnership with 80+ community groups, supported by the Australian Department of Health and Aged Care.

Sector Jobs

Sector Jobs – you can see sector job listings on the NACCHO website here.

Advertising Jobs – to advertise a job vacancy click here to go to the NACCHO website Current job listings webpage. Scroll down to the bottom of the page to find a Post A Job form. You can complete this form with your job vacancy details – it will then be approved for posting and go live on the NACCHO website.

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: NACCHO’s Youth Conference – it’s started!

NACCHO’s Youth Conference – it’s started!

The National Youth Conference, being held today, Monday 17 October 2022 at the National Convention Centre, Canberra, has brought together almost 100 youth from around Australia to gain experience and exposure to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander sector on a national level. During the conference the youth will engage in discussion, share their experience and learn from other peers from across the country. The conference will allow the youth to learn about informing policy, influencing change and provide a pathway so their voices are heard and represented by NACCHO throughout the sector.

For further information about the NACCHO Youth Conference click here. Below is a short video of about the 2019 NACCHO Youth Conference.

Health Literacy Strategy Framework

The National Health Literacy Strategy Framework Paper is now open for public consultation, with feedback being sought on the framework’s content and design.

The document is now live on the Australian Governments Department of Health and Aged Care Consultation Hub here and will be available online for comment for a four-week period and will close at 11:59 pm on Wednesday 9 November 2022.

You can access the strategy and online survey below:

Consultation Paper – Development of the National Health Literacy Strategy

National Health Literacy Strategy Framework Consultation Survey Questions

National Health Literacy Strategy Consultation Online Survey, available here.

Image source: Australian Commission of Safety and Quality in Health Care.

First care standard on stillbirth

You are invited to join the online launch of the first national Stillbirth Clinical Care Standard, developed by the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care. The event will be streamed live from the Annual National Stillbirth Forum being held from 3–4 November 2022.

Stillbirth is a tragic and profound experience that affects more than 2,000 families in Australia every year. Despite being the most common form of perinatal death in Australia, the experience of stillbirth can be hidden due to stigma, taboo and a culture of silence.

At the launch of the Stillbirth Clinical Care Standard from12:30 PM – 1:30 PM AEDT Friday 4 November 2022 you can hear leading experts discuss best practice in preventing stillbirth, investigations after stillbirth and the importance of bereavement care after perinatal loss. This event is relevant to all healthcare professionals involved in providing care during pregnancy, and after stillbirth or other forms of perinatal loss.

Click here to register.

Supporting child health in remote Australia

An article Needs and strengths: supporting child health in remote Australia published in the InSight+ newsletter today begins with words from Ms June Oscar AO, a senior Bunuba woman from the Fitzroy Valley and Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner:

The failure to close the gaps in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health inequality, and other measures of social and economic disadvantage, cannot be justified by more rhetoric or data in another report. For us, the harrowing failure to close the gap is felt through sorry business, the countless funerals of family and friends, the hospital visits and the coronial inquiries that we continue to painfully endure. So many of our losses were and are preventable – that is the failure and pain we carry. A sensible way of doing business is long overdue as, apart from small gains, the attempts to close the gaps in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander life expectancy, health and education have failed.

The article outlines the poor health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, the reasons for such poor health and efforts to date to support child and family health. The authors review strategies to improve health care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and what is needed to successfully implement those strategies.

To view the article in full click here.

Photo: Getty Images. Image source: BBC.

Overcrowding reduced by only 3.2%

The NT government has spent $2.65bn over the past 15 years to improve the quality of housing in remote Indigenous communities, but overcrowding remains a problem and many houses need repairs. Under the national partnership for remote housing NT policy, the government was supposed to improve housing conditions and reduce overcrowding in 73 remote communities and 17 town camps around Alice Springs. But the most recent data on overcrowding in remote communities managed by the national partnership reveals it has only been reduced by 3.2% in five years.

None of this is new to Miriam Charlie. Since 2015, the Yanyuwa Garrwa artist has been capturing the state of housing across all four town camps at Borroloola, with her Polaroid camera. “All them houses, they’re too small, overcrowded,” she says. “So I went around and took photos of everybody’s houses. What part wasn’t fixed and what part was fixed.”

NACCHO CEO, Pat Turner, said in an interview with The Australian in March this year, the standard of housing in remote communities underpinned several targets in Closing the Gap and outlined that if the targets are not achieved, it would be because governments had not “invested the necessary resources in programs and services to support our people”.

To view The Guardian article ‘Waiting for too long’: Why Miriam Charlie photographs overcrowded Indigenous housing in full click here.

Miriam Charlie photographing her eldest daughter, Jade, and other family at Yanyuwa camp. Image source: The Guardian.

Videos to tackle men’s mental health

In the Central Australian desert, there’s a growing and often silent, crisis of male suicide in Aboriginal town camps. But a group of men is speaking out for change. You can watch a short video about the Tangentyere Men’s Family Safety Group, a group town camp leaders, who are focused on improving safety and wellbeing in their community. They have written, performed and directed a series of videos in English and in language hoping to shatter stigma around mental health and suicide. For these men it has been a deeply personal project.

You can view the short video in full here.

Free tool to measure LGBTQ inclusive care

Pride in Health + Wellbeing runs a national annual index (Health + Wellbeing Equality Index) that is FREE and open to every organisation to measure their LGBTQ inclusive across their service delivery and internal workforce.

This benchmarking index has been designed based on international best practice standards for LGBTQ inclusive care and can assist service providers to baseline their current LGBTQ inclusion work, benchmark across the sector and identify gaps and areas for improvement as well as year-on-year growth. Individualised reports are sent to participating services and participation can be anonymous, and you don’t have to be a member to take part.

The HWEI also has optional staff and service user surveys. These allow services to not only measure what they are doing organisationally but see how well supported staff feel within their workplace, as well as their understanding, tools and comfort levels in providing LGBTQ inclusive care. The service user survey can then also be used to match your inclusion work to experience, to see if the inclusion initiatives are improving the quality of care being received.

For more details visit the Pride in Health + Wellbeing website here. You can register your interest to take part in the HWEI 2023 here.

Image source: Edith Cowan University website.

Sector Jobs

Sector Jobs – you can see sector job listings on the NACCHO website here.

Advertising Jobs – to advertise a job vacancy click here to go to the NACCHO website Current job listings webpage. Scroll down to the bottom of the page to find a Post A Job form. You can complete this form with your job vacancy details – it will then be approved for posting and go live on the NACCHO website.

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: World Mental Health Day 2022

The image in the feature tile is of woman watching Kevin Rudd’s apology to Indigenous Australian on 13 February 2008. The image appears in an article Rudd’s apology, 10 years on: the elusive hope of a ‘breakthrough moment’ published in The Guardian on 12 February 2018. Photo: Lisa Maree Williams, Getty Images.

World Mental Health Day 2022

Minister for Health and Aged Care, Mark Butler, and Assistant Minister for Mental Health and Suicide Prevention, Emma McBride, says today is World Mental Health Day – a day for global mental health education, awareness, and advocacy. Right now, demand for mental health support has surged to record levels across the country, with the pandemic having a significant impact on all Australians. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ National Study of Mental Health and Wellbeing 2020–21, more than two in five Australians will experience a mental health issue at some point in their life. More than one in five people also experienced a mental health disorder in the previous year, with anxiety being the most common issue.

According to a landmark report titled Report to the Nation commissioned by Mental Health Australia, and released today, one in two Australians have needed mental health support in past three months. Nine in 10 Australians who accessed mental health support said it improved their mental health and nearly all respondents (98%) felt safe and respected in the support they received. The Report to the Nation, which is based on a new national survey that covers every age group from age 0 to 80+, also reveals:

• Australians 18-39 years old self-rate as the least mentally well in age comparisons – 6.2 out of 10, with 10 meaning living with excellent mental health;
• First Nations Peoples (5.2) and LBGTQIA+ (5.7) self-rate even lower;
• 66% of Australians have felt happy in the past three-months;
• of the top-five things important for mental health and wellbeing, 41% of Australians cite family/partner support, love and socialising with friends as being key; and
• when Australians have needed mental health support, 55% reached out to family, friends, colleagues, or teachers, 44% went to a GP, doctor or nurse, and 30% went to a psychologist, psychiatrist or counsellor.

You can also view a joint media release from Minister for Health and Aged Care, Mark Butler and Assistant Minister for Mental Health and Suicide Prevention, Emma McBride World Mental Health Day here. You can also view the Mental Health Australia media release Mental Health Australia reports to the nation on World Mental Health Day in full click here. The below is a video Aboriginal perspectives on wellbeing is from the Australian mental health and wellbeing initiative, Kids Matter.

Support for mob struggling with mental health

New data released today has revealed the mental health of First Nations people is lower than the general population. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people die of suicide at more than double the rate of the general population. According to 2020 data from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW), 5.5% of First Nations people die of suicide, compared to 1.9% of non-First Nations People.

One woman is trying to change that. Shannay Holmes was consumed by grief at age 11 when her big brother died. That sadness, prolonged and throbbing, triggered her to try and take her own life some years later. It was only when Ms Holmes found herself in an acute mental health ward that the tide shifted on how she would treat her crippling mental health. Leaning on the “great support system” of her mother, teacher and peers, she was able to overcome her battles. And Ms Holmes wants to see more of her community lifted up, with the right support, too.

In a bid to help Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, Shannay has launched the Heal Your Way project, funded by NSW Health’s Zero Suicide initiative. Ms Holmes said Heal Your Way provides resources for friends of First Nations people, both targeted Indigenous and non-Indigenous, to be better allies in the way they support those who are struggling with their mental health. “Let’s stop putting this in a category that we need to be ashamed of having these conversations, but also shining on the light of why people go through this,” she said. “You don’t have to be a psychologist, you don’t have to be a mental health professional. The important thing about this campaign is that it’s for everyone.”

To view the SBS News article Shannay tried to take her life as a teen. She never wants anyone else to suffer in silence in full click here.

Shannay Holmes created the Heal our Way campaign, aimed at assisting First Nations communities with suicide prevention and mental health awareness. Image source: SBS News.

SBS launches Mind Your Health portal

SBS has launched its Mind Your Health online content portal featuring articles, podcasts and videos in multiple languages, aimed at sharing the rich diversity of cultural knowledge and experiences across communities and showing pathways to support improving the mental and physical wellbeing of all Australians. This follows the success of SBS’s multilingual Coronavirus portal launched in March 2020, which has received 11 million unique Australian visits accessing trusted in language information throughout the pandemic, from updates on changing restrictions to the vaccine rollout.

Mind Your Health targets culturally diverse and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander audiences, with key focus on 10 languages, plus bespoke content for specific communities. The Mind Your Health site includes links to stories such as How former NRL star Owen Craigie turned hardship into happiness, available here. Speaking on NITV’s Feeding The Scrum, the former star opens up about his battles with mental health and addictions and how he’s running initiatives that help people who face similar issues.

To view the radioinfo article Mind Your Health, a new multilingual portal aimed at improving health and wellbeing for multicultural and First Nations Australians in full click here.

Image source: SBS About Mind Your Health webpage.

SMS4DeadlyDads comes to the Kimberley

SMS4DeadlyDads sends short texts with tips, info and support to soon-to-be and new First Nations dads.

SMS4DeadlyDads will be officially launched in the Kimberley this week with workshops for health workers and community in Broome tomorrow on Tuesday 11 October 2022 and Fitzroy Crossing on Thursday 13 October 2022. You can access an invitation to the workshops here.

SMS4DeadlyDads was first developed as a research project at the University of Newcastle (SMS4dads.com). The messages have been co-designed in consultation with an Advisory Group of senior First Nations men representing Aboriginal Controlled Health organisations. First Nations dads have also contributed to the messages to ensure they are culturally appropriate and hit the mark with dads.

HOW DOES IT WORK?

Dads can join up online at SMS4DeadlyDads.com – it’s easy and FREE!

Three text messages are sent to dads each week from 12 weeks into a pregnancy up until bub turns one.

The messages are brief and to the point and talk about:

  • Bonding and your baby’s development
  • Working as a team with your partner
  • Looking after yourself and getting help if things get stressful

SMS4DeadlyDads is a FREE service available to dads all around Australia.

Make sure dads know about it!  You can access the SMS4DeadlyDads website here.

Image source: SMS4DEADLYDADS website.

Return of Targeting Cancer Fun Run 

The Royal Australian and NZ College of Radiologists (RANZCR) is pleased to announce the return of the Targeting Cancer Fun Run to the 72nd Annual Scientific Meeting (ASM) in Adelaide on the morning of Saturday 29 October after two years’ absence. One in two cancer patients would benefit from radiation therapy, but fewer than one in three patients actually receive radiation therapy. The Fun Run 2022 aims to raise awareness of radiation therapy for cancer treatment with a focus on closing the care gap for Indigenous populations in Australia and NZ.

A breaking study on outcomes for Aboriginal people with cancer in NSW to be presented at RANZCR ASM 2022 is the largest and most comprehensive population-based study of Aboriginal cancer patients in Australia to date. It reports that Aboriginal patients have worse overall and cancer-specific survival rates than non-Aboriginal patients (10-year survival rate: 53% vs. 66%; 5-year survival rate: 60% vs. 64%). After adjusting for many factors (such as sex, age, degree of spread, socioeconomic status, accessibility to cancer service, receiving radiotherapy), the risk of dying from cancer was higher for Aboriginal patients than for non-Aboriginal patients. Aboriginal people have a higher utilisation rate of radiation therapy than non-Aboriginal patients (30% vs. 25.7%) likely due to adverse factors such as presenting with more advanced cancer and inability to afford surgery.

To view the RANZCR media release Targeting Cancer Fun Run Returns to Call for Closing the Care Gap in full click here.

Image source: RANZER, Faculty of Radiation Oncology, Radiation Oncology Targeting Cancer website.

New housing for Alice Springs town camps

Aboriginal construction workers and apprentices have been working on remote housing programs across Mparntwe (Alice Springs) town camps. Rolling out across 11 town camps, the developments will see the construction of 64 dwellings, increasing the combined number of bedrooms across the various communities by 242. Local decision making has been applied to the builds, with the Aboriginal community informing housing compositions which include three, four and five bedroom homes as well as duplex facilities.

Five territory construction companies including Aboriginal Business Enterprises Blueprint Construction and Tangentyere Constructions are carrying out the works, with a combined Indigenous employment rate of 46.4% across the entire project. The $40 million investment by the NT Government has seen 39 of the 64 homes currently in various stages of completion with some houses delivered to residents in September, nine weeks after on-site construction commenced. It is anticipated that at least 35 buildings will be completed by year’s end across town camps including Charles Creek, Hoppy’s, Hidden Valley, Ilpeye Ilpeye, Warlpiri, Karnte, Larapinta Valley, Little Sisters, Mount Nancy, Morris Soak, and Trucking Yards.

NT Housing and Homelands Minister Selena Uibo said the project improves the welfare of town camp residents. “The Territory Labor Government’s investment means residents of Alice Springs will have much-needed, better, safer homes,” she said.

To view the National Indigenous Times article First Nations apprentices contribute to housing developments across Alice Springs town camps in full click here.

Image source: National Indigenous Times.

Animation to combat deadly disease

In response to a call-out from the council’s environmental health team for Hendra virus educational resources, Charles Sturt University student Bernard Higgins created a high-tech animated video as part of his creative arts studies. The Indigenous creative says he’s determined to utilise his talents to help others. “As a Wiradjuri man, I wanted to explore how to use my skills and knowledge to help First Nations communities,” Mr Higgins said. “Designing animal health communication is one area where there’s a gap in our knowledge.”

He is hopeful that the animation, created through significant engagement with the community and health bodies, will help make an important health message more relatable. “The layperson can get bogged down with all the jargon. We saw that with COVID — we got bombarded with so much information,” Mr Higgins said. “At a community level, by putting together [a short] animation, which has all the pertinent information, it’s not as intimidating as a government-made brochure.” The animation also features imagery from the Yarrabah community.

To view the ABC News article Creative approach to combat potentially deadly disease in full click here.

Sector Jobs

Sector Jobs – you can see sector job listings on the NACCHO website here.

Advertising Jobs – to advertise a job vacancy click here to go to the NACCHO website Current job listings webpage. Scroll down to the bottom of the page to find a Post A Job form. You can complete this form with your job vacancy details – it will then be approved for posting and go live on the NACCHO website.

World Homeless Day 2022

World Homeless Day aims to draw attention to homeless people’s needs both locally across Australia and internationally. The concept of ‘World Homeless Day’ emerged from online discussions between people working to respond to homelessness from various parts of the world. The Inaugural World Homeless Day was marked on the 10 October 2010. Since its founding, World Homeless Day has been observed on every continent except Antarctica, in several dozen countries.

The 2016 Census found that Indigenous Australians accounted for one-fifth of the homeless population nationally (20% or 23,440 people); that is, among people whose dwelling is considered inadequate, they have no tenure or their initial tenure is short and not extendable, and they have no control of and access to space for social relations. The 2016 rate was down from 26% in 2011. The 2016 Census found that of the total Indigenous population (649,000) 3.6% or 23,440 were homeless, a rate of 361 per 10,000. This decreased from 4.9% (26,700) or 487 per 10,000 in 2011.

Of homeless Indigenous Australians in 2016, 70% (down from 75% in 2011) were living in severely crowded dwellings (needing four or more extra bedrooms under CNOS), 12% were living in supported accommodation for the homeless, and 9% were living in improvised tents or sleeping out. This compares with non-Indigenous homeless people, of whom in 2016, 42% were living in severely crowded dwellings, 15% were in supported accommodation, and 6% were in improvised dwellings, tents or sleeping out. Of Indigenous Australians aged 15 and over, in 2014–15, 4 in 10 (41%) had experienced not having a permanent place to live. Among these, the reasons included problems with family, friends or relationships (40%) and having just moved back into a town or city (22%).

For more information about World Homeless Day 2022 click here and for further information from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander housing and homelessness click here.

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: NTRAI extended for two years

The image in the feature tile is of the remote community of Yarralin, west of Katherine, has received 25 new homes since 2016. Photo: Hamish Harty. Image source: ABC News article NT pleads with Canberra to pay for new homes on Aboriginal homelands, plays catch-up on remote housing targets, published on 4 October 2021.

NTRAI extended for two years

The Australian and NT Governments have signed the two-year extension to the National Partnership on NT Remote Aboriginal Investment (NTRAI). The agreement provides an additional $173.2 million for health, education, community safety, Aboriginal interpreter services in remote NT communities and ensures continuity for 400 jobs.

Aboriginal Peak Organisations Northern Territory (APO NT) will contribute to overseeing the extension agreement, reflecting the knowledge, expertise and lived experience of Aboriginal people living in remote parts of the NT to inform future funding options.

During the extension period, the National Indigenous Australians Agency and the Department of Health and Aged Care will work in partnership with APO NT and the NT Government to design options for future investment in remote Aboriginal communities, giving life to the priority reforms identified in the National Agreement on Closing the Gap.

To read Senator the Hon Malarndirri McCarthy’s media release NTRAI extended for two years click here.

Bonnie Camphoo lives in a tent just outside of Tennant Creek. Photo: Jane Bardon, ABC News.

Recommendation to continue MUP on alcohol

Health and community organisations have welcomed  a new report released by the NT Government, which recommends that the minimum unit price (MUP) on alcohol be continued. An MUP on alcohol was implemented across the Territory in 2018, which resulted in a standard drink of alcohol not being sold for under $1.30.

In 2018 the NT Government introduced a comprehensive package of reforms to prevent and reduce alcohol harms. The report: Evaluation of Minimum Unit Price of Alcohol in the NT, released this week by the NT Government, shows that there have been significant reductions of alcohol harms since the introduction of these reforms. This includes:

  • Significant reductions of alcohol-related assaults
  • Declines in the number of alcohol-related emergency department presentations per capita
  • Decreases in alcohol-related road crashes across many parts of the Territory
  • Large declines in child protection substantiations
  • Strong decreases in the wholesale supply of cask wine.

“A comprehensive approach is needed to prevent and reduce the harms caused by alcohol. This report shows the need to stay the course on these reforms as a foundation to prioritising the health and wellbeing of Territorians,” said Dr John Paterson, CEO of The Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance NT (AMSANT).

To read the joint media release Health and community organisations welcome recommendation to continue minimum unit price in the NT in full click here.

Photo: Jane Gibson. Image source: ABC News.

Mental health tech a gamechanger

Games can power good: that’s the message from this year’s Melbourne International Games Week. Featuring games designed to promote social impact in areas like mental health and community services, the week is a reflection of how games can touch our lives. One of the projects on show was the Biik Bilik (meaning ‘my place’ in Wurundjeri language) an animated game designed to help start conversations on important social issues in Aboriginal communities.

Biik Bilik was born out of a partnership between Dandenong and District Aboriginal Cooperative and social enterprise the Institute of Games, which developed the Streets of My Town social impact game platform. Streets of My Town is designed for young people and educates them about the support services available in their local community. It functions as a platform that can be tailored to different organisations and communities depending on their location and need.

Founder and CEO Steven Dupon, a social worker, wanted to find a way to appeal to young people on sensitive and tricky topics. “We had this idea to give that information as part of the game so young people would have fun while they’re learning about some of those more challenging things that could happen in their life,” he explained.

To read the Pro Bono Australia article Gamechangers: mental health tech on show at games week in full click here.

Image source: Pro Bono Australia.

Orange Door helps families in crisis

After years of campaigning, a centre to help families in crisis has arrived in a regional city where family violence is ranked as the most reported crime. The Orange Door network connects people who need help with child protection, domestic violence, and child wellbeing with service providers in the community.

“We know that Horsham’s most reported crime is family violence and family violence is in the top five most reported crimes in other LGAs around our area such as Yarriambiack, Hindmarsh and Northern Grampians,” Kara Johnson, a team leader at Orange Door Wimmera said. “It just proves that there are people in this area that need that support.”

Ms Johnson said since its doors opened, the centre in Horsham has received one to two walk-in cases a day, compared to most other rural centres which receive one to two walk-ins a week. Most people had been referred to Orange Door from neighbouring hubs and partner agencies like Uniting Wimmera, Grampians Community Health and Goolum Goolum Aboriginal Co-operative.

To view the ABC News article Long-awaited Orange Door arrives to the Wimmera to help tackle family violence in full click here.

The new centre will reduce the need for Indigenous women fleeing family violence to leave their country. Photo: Alexander Darling, Wimmera ABC.

$6.9m for BBVSTI research

Three major projects, focusing on reducing stigma, community-led models and assessment of people living with chronic hepatitis B, have received funding. UNSW Sydney researchers from the Centre for Social Research in Health (CSRH) and The Kirby Institute have been awarded more than $6.9 million over four years, in grants through the federal government’s Blood Borne Viruses (BBV) and Sexually Transmissible Infections (STI) Research Program.

Director of the CSRH Scientia Professor Carla Treloar has received $3.6 million, Kirby Institute epidemiologist Dr Skye McGregor has been awarded $1.65 million, and UNSW Scientia Fellow and Program Head, Therapeutic Research and Vaccine Program at the Kirby Institute, Professor Gail Matthews has received $1.63 million.

Scientia Professor Vlado Perkovic, Dean of UNSW Medicine & Health congratulated the researchers, and said the grants would lead to better outcomes for patients and more personalised approaches to treatments. “These projects are an exciting development in STI and BBV health policy and practice research and offer hope for people affected by, living with or at risk of blood-borne viruses and STIs in Australia,” he said.

To read the University of NSW article UNSW researchers receive $6.9m for blood borne virus and STI research full click here.

Image source: University of Melbourne website.

Supporting recovery from addiction

For Daniel Wilson, support from his family, a sense of connection and community, and the strength of his ancestors were key to leading him out of heroin addiction two decades ago and into his work now at Melbourne’s Odyssey House treatment centre. A senior alcohol and other drugs (AOD) clinician and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural advisor, he told the recent Rethink Addiction national convention about his experience of addiction, of using heroin “nearly up to the point that it killed me”.

Wilson was speaking in a lived experience session of the conference that highlighted the need for better treatment and support for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with alcohol, other drugs and gambling addictions. Each of the speakers talked about the importance of family, of safe spaces, and the need to connect to culture and community. They also described the role of trauma in addiction, particularly for the Stolen Generations and their descendants, and new generations now being impacted by escalating rates and risks of child removal.

To read the Croakey Health Media article Culture and community: supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in recovery from addiction in full click here.

Image source: Croakey Health Media.

Building back after the floods

Building back smarter from floods is about more than infrastructure. As Australia is finding out, improvements to healthcare are key to the solution. In the aftermath of the devastating floods that hit eastern Australia in early 2022, affected residents were left with serious questions about the country’s resilience to intensifying extreme weather events and the institutions tasked with mopping up afterwards.  It is a matter of when, not if, the next destructive flood hits — and lives depend on strengthening the long-term resilience of health and social services across the country.

The 2022 floods across areas of NSW and SE Queensland brought death, housing and infrastructure damage, and disruptions to healthcare and other important services.  But the visible, immediate effects that make the headlines are only a fraction of the overall health burden of floods. People affected by floods can experience long-lasting mental health conditions, such as depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder. The problem is even more pronounced for vulnerable groups with existing health inequalities, such as people with disabilities, First Nations people, and socio-economically disadvantaged communities.

To read the article After the flood written by Veronica Matthews, who heads the Centre for Research Excellence, an Indigenous-led collaboration strengthening systems to improve primary health care and the social and cultural determinants of wellbeing, in full click here.

Sector Jobs

Sector Jobs – you can see sector job listings on the NACCHO website here.

Advertising Jobs – to advertise a job vacancy click here to go to the NACCHO website Current job listings webpage. Scroll down to the bottom of the page to find a Post A Job form. You can complete this form with your job vacancy details – it will then be approved for posting and go live on the NACCHO website.