NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: AMA wants consistency of mandatory COVID-19 jabs for healthcare staff

Feature tile - Thu 16.9.21 - AMA wants consistency of mandatory COVID jabs for healthcare staff

AMA wants consistency of mandatory COVID-19 jabs for healthcare staff

The Australian Medical Association (AMA) calls on National Cabinet to act urgently on nationally-consistent public health orders for mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations for all healthcare workers, including GPs.

AMA President Omar Khorshid said legal protection should also be given to healthcare employers who mandate vaccinations for all their staff.

“Most health care providers in Australia are small businesses that don’t have the time or resources needed to navigate complex work health and safety laws. We need to make it easier for them to be able to mandate vaccination, which is the best way to protect their staff and patients.”

Dr Khorshid said the Federal Government needed to co-ordinate States and Territories through the National Cabinet to ensure a nationally-consistent approach to mandatory vaccination that included everyone – GPs and practice staff, pharmacists, hospital staff, ambulance staff, cooks and cleaners – leaving no exemptions, except for legitimate medical reasons.

“Nationally-consistent public health orders would provide legal protection to any employer who could reasonably establish work safety would benefit from a workplace vaccine mandate. It’s important for GPs and other small businesses to have government backing and protection when it comes to mandating vaccines for all employees,” Dr Khorshid said.

You can read the media release the AMA here.

female staff member of Northern Navajo Medical Centre receiving COVID-19 vaccine, 3 other staff in background, one taking a photo

Medical staff at the Northern Navajo Medical Center in Shiprock, N.M., were among the first in the Navajo Nation to receive their Pfizer-BioNTech vaccinations, on Dec. 15. What’s followed has been a successful rollout to Navajo Nation residents. Image source: yahoo!life website.

Concerns regional hospitals won’t cope with major COVID outbreak

A COVID-19 outbreak in Western Australia is considered inevitable by many health experts, but doctors have warned if it happens before enough people are vaccinated it will be “horrendous” for regional areas where resources are limited and staff are hard to attract. WA has so far managed to keep out the Delta strain, despite it spreading through New South Wales and Victoria. However, with fewer than 40 per cent of people fully vaccinated in Western Australia, president of the Rural Doctors Association, Brittney Wicksteed, was worried.

“If COVID were to come before we’ve got adequate vaccination rates, it’s going to be horrendous in the regions,” she said.

Dr Wicksteed said many regional hospitals did not have the room, equipment or staff to cope with more than a couple of COVID cases at a time.

“The hospital has been extremely busy already this year,” she said.

“I [also] think it will be really hard to maintain adequate staffing in any of the hospitals in any of the regions in WA once there’s COVID there.”

“I don’t think any of our hospitals are fully prepared should we have a large outbreak … there are not enough ventilators at any hospital,” said Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Service (KAMS) chief executive Vicki O’Donnell.

You can read the article in the ABC News here.

Rural Doctors Association president Brittney Wicksteed says staffing, equipment and space at regional hospitals would be stretched in the case of a COVID-19 outbreak. (ABC Kimberley Jacqueline Lynch).

Rural Doctors Association president Brittney Wicksteed says staffing, equipment and space at regional hospitals would be stretched in the case of a COVID-19 outbreak. (ABC Kimberley Jacqueline Lynch).

Improvements across health and welfare for mob

The two-yearly Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) report on the welfare and wellbeing of Australians was launched today by the release of a video message (see below story) from Senator the Hon. Anne Ruston, Minister for Families and Social Services.

In recent years, there have been improvements across a range of measures of health and welfare for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

“The median equivalised household income for Indigenous Australians grew 29% between 2002 and 2018–19, twice the growth rate of non-Indigenous Australians (14%) over the same period after accounting for inflation,” said AIHW Deputy Chief Executive Officer Matthew James.

“Between 2014–15 and 2018–19, the proportion of working age Indigenous Australians relying on a government pension or allowance as their main income source fell from 47% to 45%.”

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and their communities are at high risk of COVID-19 outbreaks and severe outcomes due to a range of health and socioeconomic inequalities. As of 15 August 2021, there had been 293 confirmed COVID-19 cases among Indigenous Australians since the start of the pandemic. This includes 145 confirmed cases since the beginning of 2021 (1.3% of all cases in the period), and 148 in 2020 (0.5%).

For more information, visit the AIHW website.

Western NSW sets example with COVID jab rates

“We’ve now seen the biggest increase in Western NSW compared to the whole of the state, in vaccination rates, particularly people receiving their first dose and particularly across our Aboriginal community,” he said.

“Thank you to everyone who’s come forward in the last month, in particular who’s changed life outcomes for people, getting protected from COVID.”

“Importantly second dose rates for Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal in our community are now the same at 38 per cent right across our region.”

You can read the story in the Daily Liberal here.

A team from the University of Newcastle nursing staff travelled to Gomeroi Country to provide urgent vaccination and COVID-19 testing to the people of Walgett and greater Western NSW. Image credit: The University of Newcastle.

A team from the University of Newcastle nursing staff travelled to Gomeroi Country to provide urgent vaccination and COVID-19 testing to the people of Walgett and greater Western NSW. Image credit: The University of Newcastle.

Mental health and wellbeing support tailored to mob

As the serious Delta outbreak continues across the state, the Victorian Government is making sure more Victorians struggling during this difficult period have access to the mental health and wellbeing support they need.

On top of the $225 million the Government has already provided to support Victorians’ mental health throughout the pandemic, a further investment of $22 million will deliver fast-tracked, tailored care to those who need it, reducing the burden on emergency departments as the number of coronavirus patients grows.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who are less likely to engage early with mainstream mental health services, will receive $4 million in support for Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations to self-determine the best, most culturally appropriate response to the mental health and wellbeing needs of their local communities.

You can read more about this investment by the Victorian Government here.

Last week, the McGowan Labor Government also committed more than $374 million to ensure
positive outcomes for Aboriginal people and communities in Western Australia. The funding is split over three key policy areas: building strong communities, improving health and well-being, and delivering social and economic opportunities.

“This significant investment will help us Close the Gap in Western Australia and aligns with
our four Priority Reform Areas for changing how governments work with Aboriginal people,” said Aboriginal Affairs Minister Stephen Dawson.

You can read the media release by the McGowan Government here.

Aboriginal student resting on desk with two rocks one with the word 'lonely' & one with the word 'sad'

Headspace ‘take a step’ campaign photo.

Cultural safety important to patients and healthcare workers

Cultural safety is vitally important for the effective delivery of health services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, as well as in medical schools for our medical students and the health settings where our doctors work.

The Australian Indigenous Doctros’ Association (AIDA) supports the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) National Scheme 2020-2025 definition of cultural safety as:

“A sense of being as determined by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander individuals, families and communities” and furthermore, “culturally safe practise is the ongoing critical reflection of health practitioner knowledge, skills, attitudes, practising behaviours and power differentials in delivering safe, accessible and responsive healthcare free of racism”.

You can read mora about AIDA‘s Cultural Safety Program here.

Culturally Appropriate Mental Health Care Is Vital For Indigenous Youth Right Now.
Reframing mental health care through a decolonised lens driven for and by Indigenous voices is the path forward to ensure sensitivity is delivered from diagnosis through to treatment and care. Psychologist and Palawa woman Jodi Jones told Junkee that culturally appropriate access to basic services is one of the biggest challenges impacting Indigenous youth mental health right now.

“Indigenous psychologists have the lived experiences of the real issues and disparities that have existed, and continue within our communities,” Jones said.

“We are the best equipped to deal with Indigenous issues with Indigenous perspectives”.

You can read the article in Junkee here.

AIDA - Cultural Safety Training

Innovative research explores responses to COVID-19

A study being conducted by the University of Queensland, led by Professor Bronwyn Fredericks, and Professor James Ward, seeks to unpack the complexities of Indigenous health and social systems to better understand the effectiveness of responses to COVID-19 in Brisbane.

Although the pandemic and subsequent lockdowns have posed numerous health risks for Indigenous peoples, in the most part, it has merely exacerbated pre-existing issues relating to underlying health conditions, food insecurity, housing, and other social determinants of disparate health outcomes.

This study seeks to better understand the structural reforms needed to construct an effective health system, particularly during times of pandemics. It draws on the collective knowledge and experience of Indigenous and non-indigenous service-providers and healthcare professionals while recognising that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are the experts of their own needs and that sustainable change must be community orientated and driven.

You can read the article in Croakey Health Media here.

Deanne Minnicon and Maurice Woodley from the West Moreton Hospital and Health Service, and Professor Bronwyn Fredericks. Image source: Croakey Health Media.

Deanne Minnicon and Maurice Woodley from the West Moreton Hospital and Health Service, and Professor Bronwyn Fredericks. Image source: Croakey Health Media.

Rural health students protecting themselves and rural communities

The Australian Rural Health Education Network (ARHEN) has acknowledged the efforts of rural health students to protect themselves, their patients and rural communities from COVID-19 by getting vaccinated ahead of their clinical placements.

The Chair of ARHEN, Christine Howard, said health students play a vital role in the delivery of clinical services in many rural and remote communities and can help ease the burden on already stretched services.

“It is pleasing to see so many health students from a range of disciplines step up and get vaccinated and join the fight against COVID-19 in rural and remote communities. Around the country student nurses, pharmacists, paramedics, physiotherapists and occupational therapists have been recruited by state health services to support the vaccine roll-out.

You can read the ARHEN media release here.

health professional looking computer screen engaging in teleconference

Image source: National Rural Health Alliance website.

 

New process for job advertising

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

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


dice spelling JOBS resting on keyboard

 

Now Open: the Puggy Hunter Memorial Scholarship Scheme

The Australian College of Nursing (ACN) is delighted to announce that applications for the Puggy Hunter Memorial Scholarship Scheme (PHMSS) are now open!

Thanks to the Australian Government Department of Health, the PHMSS provides financial assistance to Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people who are studying or intending to study an entry-level health course in 2022, in one of the following disciplines:

  • Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander primary health care
  • Nursing (RN and EN)
  • Midwifery
  • Dentistry/oral health (excluding dental assistants)
  • Medicine
  • Allied health (all specialties except pharmacy)
  • Mental health studies NEW

Additional places for mental health related studies have been made available for this year’s intake! You can view the full list of eligible courses and course areas on our website.

This is an exciting opportunity for Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander students to receive support to pursue their passion in health care!

Applications close at 11:59pm AEDT on Monday 11 October 2021.

If you have any questions or need assistance with your application, feel free to get in touch with us at 1800 688 628 or scholarships@acn.edu.au.

Download the flyer here.
You can apply for a scholarship here.

Ngar-wu Wanyarra Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health Conference

Ngar-wu Wanyarra Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health Conference 2021 
Online event
Wednesday 13th October 2021
The University of Melbourne, Department of Rural Health

The aim for the conference is to facilitate the exchange of information on key issues in Aboriginal
and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ health and wellbeing through the delivery of high impact keynote addresses by national leaders from within the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community.

The conference also provides a forum for the presentation of cutting-edge program initiatives and research findings in Aboriginal health and wellbeing by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health practitioners and their colleagues. The title of the conference ‘Ngar-wu Wanyarra’ translates to ‘listen and act’ in the language of the Yorta Yorta.

You can now download the program and conference booklet.
For up to date information on the conference please visit the website.
If you have any enquiries contact aboriginal-health@unimelb.edu.au or call (03) 5823 4512.

2021 Ngar-wu Wanyarra Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Conference.

 

 

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Additional funding to help vaccinate mob

feature tile text 'NACCHO receives additional funding to help vaccinate mob' & image of young Aboriginal woman receiving covid-19 vaccination

Additional funding to help vaccinate mob

All Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who aren’t vaccinated are prioritised under new funding to cover all Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations (ACCHOs). An extra $7 million will be provided to NACCHO, with some of the funding to be used to hire more staff, who will liaise directly with communities to assist with the rollout of vaccinations.

Lieutenant General John Frewen who leads the national COVID-19 vaccine taskforce said:

“In some of the bigger communities, we’ll be doing things like super clinics, you know, a sort of blitz effort to get large numbers of people through. In other areas we’ll be doing very close community consultation, with an information campaign to get the community ready to accept vaccination and then we’ll provide the vaccinations there.”

There is also funding for First Nations Media Australia, which has been asked to produce new advertising material that can be shared among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples about the vaccine rollout, to address vaccine hesitancy.

Note: image in feature tile –  Aboriginal health service, Wellington, NSW. Photo: Louise Austin. Image source: ABC News.

Super clinics are being planned for Indigenous communities to speed up vaccination rates. Image source: Unsplash/ ABC News.

Super clinics are being planned for Indigenous communities to speed up vaccination rates. Image source: Unsplash/ ABC News.

 

Bathurst gets walk-in vax clinic

A good number of people received their COVID-19 shot at the Kelso Community Hub, Bathurst on its first day as a pop-up vaccination clinic. The Kelso Community Hub is a walk-in clinic, meaning no appointments are needed, and around 200 people per day will be able to be vaccinated.

The clinic is being led by the Orange Aboriginal Medical Service and CEO Jamie Newman said it is about making the vaccine more accessible to people in the community.

“We’ve got to be mindful that a lot of our people who live in low socioeconomic areas do not have transport, so to get into town would be difficult for them. We encountered the same thing in Orange. We need to be able to sometimes bring the mountain to Mohamed, so having it here right in the heart of Kelso allows for walking distance for community members here,” he said.

You can read the story in the Western Advocate here.

Orange Aboriginal Medical Service CEO Jamie Newman and staff at the Kelso Community Hub. Photos: Rachel Chamberlain.

Orange Aboriginal Medical Service CEO Jamie Newman and staff at the Kelso Community Hub. Photos: Rachel Chamberlain.

 

Communities rallying to get mob vaccinated

Vaccination rates must increase before reopening country

Seventeen of the 20 least vaccinated regions of Aboriginal people are in WA and QLD. Traditional Owners in the WA outback are the least vaccinated of any area in Australia, with just nine per cent of those living in the Southern Outback region having received both doses of the vaccineMichael Small is a Maths and Statistics Professor at the University of Western Australia; his modelling shows that if WA was to experience a NSW-style outbreak, the State would only have 30 days before the virus made its way to remote communities.

“The modelling showed that until the vaccination rate is at around 80 or 90 percent, then these communities are at great risk of local transmission within about a month [of the virus arriving in the State],” he said.

You can read the article in the National Indigenous Times here.

In a related article in Croakey Health Media, grave concerns have been raised about the implications for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ health of the “Roadmap to Freedom” released by the NSW Government.

Under the plan, stay-at-home orders for adults who have received both doses of the COVID-19 vaccine will be lifted from the Monday after NSW passes the 70 percent double vaccination target. NSW hits the 80 percent double dose target, the Government intends to ease further restrictions around international travel, community sport, major events and other areas.

Aboriginal health leaders in NSW, the Northern Territory and other jurisdictions are calling for public health orders to remain in place until at least 90 percent of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are vaccinated.

You can read the article in Croakey Health Media here.
Image source: National Indigenous Times.

Image source: National Indigenous Times.

 

Lock-down of remote communities with low jab rates

In an article in The Australian (that requires a subscription to read), Western Australia is working on plans to lock down remote Aboriginal communities with low vaccination rates when it lifts state and international borders, with health officials concerned American evangelists were scaring residents into refusing inoculations.

WA Health Minister Roger Cook confirmed he had spoken to his federal counterpart, Greg Hunt, to request support to lock down communities with low Covid-19 vaccination rates once border restrictions were relaxed.

Health authorities in the state are particularly concerned about hostility towards the vaccination program in the far northern communities of Noonkanbah, Looma and Ringer Soak, although Mr Cook said he was aware of at least one community further south where local leaders were also ­agitating against inoculations.

The most recent publicly available vaccination data for WA’s northern outback region, released last Monday, shows just 28 per cent of adults have had one dose compared with 53 per cent across the entire state on the same day. Only 17 per cent were fully ­vaccinated.

Mr Cook said a small number of communities were simply turning away healthcare workers ­because “religious opposition (was) just too overwhelming … Those communities are now saying, ‘Look, we’ve heard you. We’re not going to take the vaccine ­because it’s against god’s will, and so just don’t come back,’ ” he said.

“I think we have to concede that there are some communities that simply will not participate in the … program.” Mr Cook said it may be necessary to restrict movement in and out of remote communities that remain largely unvaccinated in 2022 when international and interstate travel ­resumed.

Mr Cook said some communities had been turned against the vaccine after streaming YouTube videos from US evangelists.

“But just because you’re of a strong religious belief doesn’t mean that you’re anti-vax, it’s simply an interpretation of some of the churches.”

Mr Cook said the debate about when to open-up must include a proviso about the vaccination rate of Aboriginal people. “If you’ve got 80 per cent of mainstream WA vaccinated but only 20 per cent of the Aboriginal community vaccinated, you still can’t open up,” he said.

Noonkanbah Sports Festival 2018. Image source: Garnduwa.

Noonkanbah Sports Festival 2018. Image source: Garnduwa.

 

Healthcare workers at increased risk of mental ill-health during pandemic

There is increasing concern about rising rates of mental ill-health and suicide among doctors.

A recent review led by the Black Dog Institute and UNSW Sydney that was published in The Lancet has revealed doctors are at increased risk of suicide and, in their early years of training, one-quarter to one-third reported significant mental ill-health. The researchers said while this was an increasing issue even before the COVID-19 pandemic, there is emerging evidence that the impact of the pandemic is creating even more mental health problems.

The review suggested female doctors appeared to be at particular risk, with a suicide rate that is significantly higher than women in the general population.

“The acute nature of the COVID-19 pandemic in many parts of Australia at the moment highlights the importance of this issue. The mental health of doctors, along with other healthcare staff, is something we are all depending on,” said the lead author of the study Professor Samuel Harvey, who runs the Workplace Mental Health Research Program at the Black Dog Institute and UNSW.

You can read the article in the UNSW Sydney Newsroom here.

Healthcare worker in PPE at door of clinic. Image source: ABC News.

Healthcare worker in PPE at door of clinic. Image source: ABC News.

 

Suicide intervention training saving lives

A training program to build Indigenous Australians’ skills in preventing suicides has brought national acclaim for a University of Queensland researcher. Associate Professor Maree Toombs said the I-ASIST program was developed in partnership with LivingWorks Australia over four years of consultation and collaboration.

Dr Toombs, a Euralie and Kooma woman, is the UQ Faculty of Medicine’s Associate Dean of Indigenous Engagement. On World Suicide Prevention Day (10 September 2021), she received the Suicide Prevention Australia’s LIFE Impact Award.

“I-ASIST trains friends, family and outreach services to identify people early who are at risk of suicide, and to use their skills to address the situation immediately,” she said.

“It provides employment for Indigenous trainers, either through organisations or as sole traders, to deliver suicide first-aid skills to their local communities. It develops capacity and sustainability for evidence-based training.

“Now we need people who are embedded and trusted in their communities to be trained deliver this program, especially in Indigenous communities,” she said.

Ken Wyatt, the Minister for Indigenous Australians, will officially launch I-ASIST in November.

You can read more about the program here.

SPA_LifeAwards_Associate Professor Maree Toombs

 

NACCHO Conference postponed

📢 IMPORTANT NOTICE: As the COVID-19 situation and impacts continue, a decision has been taken to postpone our Conference until next year. NACCHO will review the situation in December including when we can convene the conference.

For any queries please email: conference@naccho.org.au.

NACCHO Conference 2021 - Postponed.

 

New process for job advertising

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

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


dice spelling JOBS resting on keyboard

 

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: World Suicide Prevention Day: We will continue to create Hope through Action

feature tile text 'First Nations led work aligns with World Suicide Prevention Day theme fighting hope with action' & image of awareness ribbon two hands linked

World Suicide Prevention Day: We will continue to Create Hope through Action

NACCHO believes this year’s theme on World Suicide Prevention Day, ‘Creating hope through action’, aligns with the innovative work done by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander led organisations and by NACCHO’s members to address disproportionate suicide rates amongst Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, particularly amongst our young people.

NACCHO Chair Donnella Mills said, “Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults are 2.7 times more likely to experience high or very high levels of psychological distress than other Australians. Our people comprise 11% of all emergency department mental health presentations across the Country. Our children and grandchildren continue to experience the impacts of past practices and policies. The rate of suicide for our young people is four times the rate of other Australian young people.

“For Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, social determinants affecting mental health can include factors such as cultural identity, family, intergenerational trauma, participation in cultural activities and access to traditional lands, lack of access to affordable housing, exposure to violence.

“The suffering of the Stolen Generations continues to have significant impacts on their health and well-being with intergenerational impacts of this trauma.

“In addition, the COVID-19 pandemic has contributed to increased feelings of isolation, anxiety and depression.

“To address these factors, adequate and ongoing funding support for evidence-based, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander led, social and emotional well-being (SEWB), mental health, and suicide prevention programs is vital, and we will continue to advocate for funding to support the rollout of culturally competent services.”

To read the media release in full click here.

New e-cigarette laws webinar

From Friday 1 October 2021 legislative changes will mean the only way to legally purchase unregistered nicotine vaping products will be with a GP prescription. This has implications for our communities and workforce.

NACCHO has partnered with RACGP and ANU to deliver an interactive webinar on these legislative changes and what they might mean for our communities and ACCHOs.

The webinar will be held on: Wednesday 15 September 2021, 1:00 PM-2:00 PM (AEST)

Professor Emily Banks from the National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health ANU together with Ms Alice Nugent, ACCHO pharmacist and member of the NACCHO Medicines Advisory Team, will present the legislative changes and dive into some of the more emergent issues surrounding safety and toxicity risks, prescription of an unregistered product, harm minimisation including a case study and discussion points to support ACCHOs and health services to develop community-based vaping policies. The webinar will conclude with a 10 minute Q&A session.

This event attracts 2 CPD points.

To register for this FREE webinar click here.

hand holding a vapper, lots of smoke from mouth

Image source: The Guardian.

New approach to preventing suicide

Two leading organisations will work together on a new approach to preventing suicides among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, combining proven strategies, to create a powerful blueprint for saving lives.

The Centre of Best Practice in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention (CBPATSISP) at The University of WA will collaborate with Black Dog Institute to develop an integrated systems approach to suicide prevention in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

Taking the findings of the 2016 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Evaluation Project (ATSISPEP) as the starting point, the collaboration will work with Indigenous community organisations, clinicians, academics, and others to develop a combination of interventions with the potential to reduce Indigenous suicides. Tragically, suicide rates in this population are more than double that of other Australians.

Professor Pat Dudgeon, Director of the CBPATSISP said, “We demonstrated through ATSISPEP that the unacceptably high rate of suicide in our communities is a consequence of colonisation, intergenerational trauma and systemic racism, and we know that effective responses must be based on Indigenous leadership and empowerment.”

To view the media release in full click here.

Record demand for suicide prevention services

Record numbers of Australians are heeding the call to seek help from suicide prevention services in a “silver lining” that shows the sector is making a major contribution to keeping the community safe, according to a new report released this World Suicide Prevention Day.

Suicide Prevention Australia CEO Nieves Murray said young people were seeking help at twice the rate of their parent’s generations, following decades of awareness-raising, stigma reduction initiatives and advocacy. “Creating hope through action is an important part of World Suicide Prevention Day and every other day of the year,” Ms Murray said.

Suicide Prevention Australia will today release its second annual State of the Nation in Suicide Prevention report, which shows 84% of suicide prevention services and workers experienced an increase in demand in the past 12 months (August 2020 to August 2021).

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

National Suicide Prevention Office

Today, on World Suicide Prevention Day, the Morrison Government is recognising this year’s theme of ‘Creating Hope Through Action’ by establishing the Australian National Suicide Prevention Office to lead a national mission to reduce the prevalence and impact of suicide in Australia.

World Suicide Prevention Day is an opportunity to raise awareness of suicide and to promote action that will reduce the number of suicides and suicide attempts. ‘Creating Hope Through Action’ is a reminder that there are actions that we can take that may provide hope to those who are feeling overwhelmed.

The Government is leading this work through record investment in, and concerted structural reform of, the national approach to suicide prevention. In a first for Australia, the new National Suicide Prevention Office will have the capability to work across all governments and sectors to drive a nationally consistent and integrated approach to reducing suicide rates.

To view the media release in full click here.

Image source: Calaveras County website.

Call for 90-95% NT vaccination threshold

The Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance NT (AMSANT) has called on the NT Government to adopt a 90-95% Aboriginal vaccination rate threshold before opening the NT borders.

The call was made by AMSANT’s Board and endorsed by the AMSANT membership. “A target of a 90-95% vaccination rate for all Aboriginal Territorians 12 years and older is required if we are to prevent or minimise the deadly toll of COVID in our communities,” AMSANT CEO, John Paterson said.

“The national target of 80% vaccinations of eligible adults 16 years and older would be a disaster in our communities, which have a much younger age profile and would equate to only about 55% of the total Aboriginal population vaccinated. At that level the virus would rip through our community like wildfire.”

“With one of the world’s highest rates of chronic disease and very overcrowded housing, we cannot risk the devastation this would cause. We only have to look at western NSW where our countrymen are suffering. Our hearts go out to them.”

To view AMSANT’s media release in full click here.

AMSANT CEO John Paterson. Image source: ABC News.

Homeless Noongar women die on streets

At least eight Noongar women have died homeless in Perth this winter, including six on the streets, sparking renewed calls for action to address the homelessness crisis. In 2020, 56 homeless people died on the streets, 28% of them Indigenous.

There are more than 1,000 people sleeping rough on the streets of Perth each night, with 40% Indigenous. Across WA, out of 10,000 homeless people, 30% are Indigenous. In total, 14,000 households are on the public housing waitlist.

Protests have been held to urge action, including the establishment of “tent cities” near Parliament House. Since the early August vigil for Alana Garlett, who died after being found ill while trying to sleep in the city in June, another three young Aboriginal women have been found dead within 250m of where Ms Garlett was found.

Noongar Elder Vanessa Culbong said the crisis is “a product of a system that’s failed us and continues to fail us. We can’t see a light at the end of the tunnel when women and birth-givers are dying in front of us.”

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

Aunty Barbara Moore

Aunty Barbara Moore at a rally to urge action to prevent more homeless deaths in Perth. Photo: Kearyn Cox, NITV. Image source: SBS News.

Reducing violence against First Nations women

The Federal Government will develop a “specific and targeted” National Plan to Reduce Violence against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and their children after calls mounted at this week’s Women’s Safety Summit.

One of the leading voices advocating for an Indigenous-specific plan is the National Family Violence Prevention and Legal Services Forum (National FVPLS Forum). “It is essential that we are part of this important conversation,” said Antoinette Braybrook CEO of Djirra and National FVPLS Forum Co chair.

“Mainstream national plans create an invisibility for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and children. They often do not take in the diversity of our people and our communities. The principles of self-determination are not front and centre in mainstream plans,” said Braybrook. “We must see this national crisis of violence against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women end. The only way we can do that is by having our own dedicated national plan.”

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

photo taken from ground looking to sky Aboriginal woman's hand overlapping with child's hand, not touching

Image source: University of Melbourne – Pursuit.

New process for job advertising

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

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

Diabetes-related foot complications

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Diabetes-related Foot Complication Program aims to reduce diabetes related foot complications and amputations for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the Top End region of the NT, Central Australia, SA,
the Kimberley region and Far North Queensland.

The South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI) is partnering with experts in the 5 regions from the Aboriginal Community-Controlled Health Sector, government and non-government agencies, service providers, research institutions and national and regional peak bodies to implement a range of strategies to improve foot health. You are invited to hear about the implementation of this work from coordinators and staff in the regions from: 1:00 PM-4:00 PM ACST, Thursday 16 September 2021.

For further details, including a zoom link click here.

UNC Health Talk website.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Low awareness of FASD

Feature tile - Thu 9.9.21 - Low awareness of FASD.

Low awareness of FASD

This International Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) Awareness Day, the Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education (FARE) and NOFASD are calling on Australians to contribute to the prevention of FASD – a range of neurodevelopmental impairments caused by alcohol exposure during pregnancy.

FARE CEO, Caterina Giorgi, said that a new polling snapshot by FARE has identified that many Australians are not aware that alcohol is harmful to health during pregnancy.

“Almost one in three Australians aren’t aware that drinking alcohol during pregnancy can cause FASD and almost one in four aren’t aware that alcohol should be avoided altogether in pregnancy,” Ms Giorgi said.

You can also join the Red Shoes Rock campaign, which was started by RJ Formanek, an adult with FASD. He decided to wear RED SHOES to stand out, be noticed and have some fun starting FASD conversations with strangers. With strong supports and increased awareness FASD can be prevented. Wear red shoes proudly to raise awareness about FASD.
#RedShoesRock #FASDawareness

You can view the media release by FARE and NOFASD here.
You can also download a Polling Snapshot for Alcohol use, Pregnancy and Fetal Alcohol
Spectrum Disorder here.
For more information about International FASD Awareness Day click here.

Red Shoes Rock-banner, FASD.

 

‘Living with COVID’ – what front-line health workers are facing

With the Delta variant raging across New South Wales and Victoria, health services are stretched and strained. In the next few months, the health workforce will care for many more patients with COVID-19, with case numbers in NSW expected to peak over the next two weeks.

The nation is focused on plans to reopen borders and increase freedoms as soon as there are sufficiently high rates of vaccination. But what does ‘living with’ COVID-19 look like for health professionals?

In 2020, The Conversation surveyed front-line health-care workers across Australia and found the pandemic had taken a considerable toll on their mental health. Throughout the pandemic, health-care workers have also been disproportionately infected – often through exposure to the virus at work.

If we are to live with COVID-19, we need a health-care system that can cope with the ‘normal’ pressures of providing health care for 25 million people, intermittent crises, plus respond to both the short and long-term needs of people with COVID-19. Preparing the health-care system to respond to crises such as pandemics, must include supporting health-care workers and protecting them from burnout, overwork, and exhaustion. We risk losing our most valuable asset in the health-care system if we fail to urgently respond to these issues.

You can read the article in The Conversation here.

Kathryn Ivey, an ICU nurse in the USA tweeted these two photos with the text: "How it started. How it's going." in November 2020.

Kathryn Ivey, an ICU nurse in the USA tweeted these two photos with the text: “How it started. How it’s going.” in November 2020.

 

Wilcannia targeted by ivermectin spruiker

Last week, as case numbers in the COVID-ravaged regional New South Wales town of Wilcannia soared, a broadcaster at the local radio station, Brendon Adams, received an offer in an email. It said a prominent Sydney doctor wanted to help the town’s largely Aboriginal population by treating them with a drug that, the sender promised, would “get rid of COVID and prevent them from contracting it again”. The drug was ivermectin and the email Adams received came from a Queensland man named John Huntley.

In Wilcannia, where COVID cases reached 109 on Wednesday, or 14.5% of the population, the appearance of individuals pushing the use of ivermectin prompted an outburst of anger from Adams, who accused the sender of taking advantage of a community where people were already sick, confused and scared.

“This isn’t just happening in Wilcannia. We’re hearing this is happening in communities all over the far west. The information they’re pushing is not reliable, it’s not resourceful. We need them to stop and leave our communities alone. We’ve got enough to deal with at the moment,” he told the Guardian.

You can read the story in the Guardian here.

Brendon Adams, who has been helping with providing food to families in isolation, Wilcannia, NSW, Australia. Photograph: Jessica Hromas/The Guardian.

Brendon Adams, who has been helping with providing food to families in isolation, Wilcannia, NSW, Australia. Photograph: Jessica Hromas/The Guardian.

 

More vaccines, but when can we make them here?

Australia borrows Pfizer jabs, while it waits for purchases to arrive. But when might mRNA vaccines be made onshore? Also there’s anger among Aboriginal leaders about anti-vax propaganda targeted at vulnerable communities. And consumer shortages and delays as a cascade of problems hits global shipping.

Listen to:

  • Associate Professor Archa Fox, RNA biologist, University of Western Australia.
  • Dr Jason Agostino, Senior Medical Adviser to the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO), GP and epidemiologist.
  • Rachel Premack, senior investigative reporter, Business Insider

Produced by Madeleine Genner and Emily Bourke.

Tune in to listen to This Week, 4 September 2021 on ABC Radio here.

Dr Jason Agostino, Senior Medical Adviser to NACCHO, GP and epidemiologist.

Dr Jason Agostino, Senior Medical Adviser to NACCHO, GP and epidemiologist.

 

What challenges lies ahead in epidemiology?

The World Congress of Epidemiology opened on 4 September with a short silence to remember more than 4.5 million people who have died from COVID-19 to date, with particular mention of epidemiologists and public health workers. Hosted by the Australasian Epidemiological Association, the Congress this year is a virtual event, and began with a Welcome to Country from Wurundjeri Elder, Aunty Diane Kerr.

Also at the opening ceremony, President of the International Epidemiology Association, Professor Henrique Barros, reflected on how COVID-19 had provided a “critical moment” for epidemiology. He contrasted the epidemiological tools used to combat the spread of COVID with approaches taken century ago when the 1918 influenza pandemic posed a similar threat to global health.

Clear messages from other keynotes and presentations included the need to celebrate the positive contribution epidemiology has played in worldwide efforts to combat COVID, while also applying a critical lens and learning from past mistakes to meet the challenges of COVID and other public health threats in the future.

Another strong theme was the need for epidemiology to be more effective in addressing health inequities, especially for First Nations people.

You can read the article in Croakey Health Media here.

To date: 4,561,467 COVID deaths and 220,305,973 cases. Image taken from real-time online mapping of the outbreak, by John Hopkins University Center for Systems Science and Engineering. 5 Sept 2021.

To date: 4,561,467 COVID deaths and 220,305,973 cases. Image taken from real-time online mapping of the outbreak, by John Hopkins University Center for Systems Science and Engineering. 5 Sept 2021.

 

Access to COVID-19 digital certificate

Consumers can now get their COVID-19 digital certificate from My Health Record to show proof of their COVID-19 vaccinations. The digital certificate will become available once their vaccination provider has reported all required doses of an approved COVID-19 vaccine to the Australian Immunisation Register (AIR).

Consumers can already get an immunisation history statement from their record to show proof of all vaccinations recorded on the AIR, including COVID-19 vaccinations.

These documents are also available for non-Medicare eligible consumers who have a My Health Record.

Second dose alert date range
The COVID-19 vaccine second dose due date alert now displays a date range on the Record Home page. The dates are calculated based on the minimum and maximum recommended interval for the second dose of the vaccine brand. For example, if someone has one dose of the Pfizer vaccine, their second dose would be due between 21 and 42 days after the first dose.

For more information, see Getting proof of vaccination from My Health Record.
You can also find answers to common consumer questions here.

If consumers need assistance at any time, they can contact the Help line on 1800 723 471 and select option 1. Call charges may apply for mobile phones.

COVID-19 Digital Certificate. Image source: ABC News.

COVID-19 Digital Certificate. Image source: ABC News.

 

Are they really OK? Ask them today!

This year’s R U OK? Day theme is ‘Are they really OK? Ask them today’. R U OK?

The Morrison Government is encouraging Australians to reach out to the people we care about for an important conversation about mental health this R U OK? Day. This year it is more important than ever before as we all continue to face unprecedented challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic, and these challenges can have significant impacts on our mental health.

Research has shown that around 22% of Australians don’t reach out to check on the people around them because there hasn’t been an occasion where they felt someone needed their help. However, a regular check in, or just starting the conversation – even when someone is not visibly distressed or in crisis – can make a real difference.

Read the media release by The Morrison Government here.

In another media release by the Psychotherapy and Counselling Federation of Australia (PACFA), Dr Di Stow, President of the PACFA says you should be prepared for the answer to be ‘No’ when asking a friend, family member or colleague R U OK?

It’s being reported that in lockdown, pre-existing trauma is rising to the surface and cracks in families that were previously covered over with activity are being laid bare. People are seeking help for anxiety, depression and anger arising from the uncertainty and lack of control related to lockdown. Counsellors and psychotherapists are increasingly frustrated at the current situation where Australians struggling with their mental health will seek support on R U OK Day but be turned away by psychologists after referrals from GPs. GPs, particularly in locked-down states, report they cannot find help for their patients through the Better Access initiative because psychologists have waiting lists of 3-6 months, or have closed their books completely.

In the meantime, over 60% of PACFA members responding to a survey said they could take on a new client within a fortnight; 23% said they could take on a new client within 48 hours.

PACFA is advocating for the Federal Government to open up the Better Access initiative beyond psychologists, to counsellors and psychotherapists who are highly-trained, highly experienced mental health professionals.

You can read the media release here.

Click here for more information and resources around R U OK? Day.

 

New process for job advertising

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

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


dice spelling JOBS resting on keyboard

 

Nominations open: the Dennis McDermott Memorial Award For Excellence In Cultural Safety

This award is named in honour of the late Professor Dennis McDermott. From Gomereoi country (north-western New South Wales), with connections to Gadigal country (inner Sydney), he was a psychologist, academic and poet, and was La Trobe University’s inaugural Pro Vice-Chancellor (Indigenous). Dennis worked as an Indigenous health academic for many years. As a respected member of the LIME Network and Reference Group he contributed to the pedagogy of Indigenous cultural safety for future health professionals.

The award, a prize of $1000, will recognise outstanding work by a health practitioner, community organisation or educator in enhancing cultural safety in Australian health contexts, understood broadly. It is intended to recognise both existing good practice and innovations in the field.

Submission must be received by 5pm (AEST), 25 September 2021.

Click here for more information about nominations and applications.
Email submissions to Dr Shayne Bellingham: lime-network@unimelb.edu.au.

Professor Dennis McDermott. Image credit: Flinders University via InDaily.

Professor Dennis McDermott. Image credit: Flinders University via InDaily.

Chronic Kidney Disease, Diabetes & Cardiovascular Disease

This is a webinar for health professionals run by Kidney Health Australia. It will be presented by Associate Professor Shilpa Jesudason, Nephrologist.

7:30pm AEST, Wednesday 22 September 2021.
You can register your interest here.

Chronic Kidney Disease, Diabetes & Cardiovascular Disease webinar.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Community control vital in managing pandemic

feature tile text 'community control important in ATSI communities in managing pandemic' & photo of elder receiving vaccine at Tharwal (NSW)

Community control vital in managing pandemic

In Australia we have learned how important community control is for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities in managing the pandemic – and in places like Walgett in northerwestern NSW we are now seeing both how easily infection can come to these communities, and how imperative it is that they are provided with the resources to manage this.

A recent paper in Nature Medicine looks at Indigenous communities that, to date, have been missing from global perspectives on the pandemic – those who live in Artic regions. The lessons echo those learned here in Australia.

The Artic covers a vast area in the Northern Hemisphere encompassing parts of Canada, Denmark (Greenland and Faroe Islands), Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Russia and the United States (Alaska). These area are sparsely populated by a total of some seven million people.

These Artic populations generally have high rates of health conditions that make COVID-19 dangerous (particularly true for the Indigenous populations) and their remote settlements have limited access to healthcare and possess few healthcare resources with which to fight the disease.

Despite this, in most cases, Arctic regions have fared better in the COVID-19 pandemic than have temperate areas south of the Artic in the same countries.

The authors of the Nature Medicine paper collected Indigenous community testimonies that show strict preventive measures that combined public health and Indigenous knowledge approaches were able to curtail the spread of COVID-19 in these regions and provide physical, emotional, and mental support.

To view the Croakey Health Media article in full click here.

Image in feature tile: Tharawal elder Uncle Ivan Wellington receiving his first AstraZeneca vaccine from Tharawal Aboriginal Corporation (TAC) GP Heather MacKenzie. Photograph: TAC. Image source: The Guardian.

AMS health worker taking temperature of older woman

Aboriginal Medical Service in Redfern. Photo: Isabella Moore. Image source: The Guardian.

CAAC makes progress with town, bush jabs

More than a quarter of Aboriginal clients over 16 living in the areas of the Central Australian Aboriginal Congress (CAAC) have received COVID-19 vaccination coverage, either one or both doses.

CAAC operates in or near Alice Springs as well as in five remote communities: Amoonguna, Ntaria and Wallace Rockhole (where Territory Health vaccinates), Santa Teresa, Utju (Areyonga) and Mutitjulu.

“In our remote communities 25% of resident clients are fully vaccinated and a further 11% have had their first doses,” says spokesperson as concern is growing over Aboriginal attitudes towards jabs. “In Alice Springs 17% of resident clients are fully vaccinated and a further 9% have had their first dose.”

Other “really good news” is that in Aboriginal people over the age of 60 across all [five] clinics, more than 60% have had a least one dose with nearly 50% fully vaccinated.

To read the full article in the Alice Springs News click here. and listen to a CAAC video about the importance of the COVID-19 vaccine below.

New antenatal program launched

The Royal Women’s Hospital is launching a new group antenatal program designed specifically for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women, thanks to funding from Liptember – a national campaign dedicated to women’s mental health.

The Women’s psychiatrists, specialist midwives and Aboriginal Hospital Liaison team have collaborated to design a trauma-informed mental health program, online and in-person, that promotes and enhances the maternal bond. Boon Wurrung Elder, Aunty Fay Stewart-Muir, gave her permission to name the program: Yana-bul Ngargee-Dha. This means ‘you are dancing’ in the Boon Wurrung language of the Kulin Nations.

To view the Royal Women’s Hospital’s media release click here.

health care worker with arm around Aboriginal mum holding baby

Image source: Royal Women’s Hospital.

Thirrili suicide postvention service

Empowering choice and control, Aboriginal community-controlled suicide postvention service, Thirrili, is supporting Indigenous families and communities through grief and loss. Meaning power and strength in Bunuba language, Thirrili was established in 2017 by Adele Cox — a proud Bunuba and Gija woman.

In July 2020, Jacqueline McGowan-Jones stepped into the role of CEO. With cultural links to the Central Desert in the NT, Ms McGowan-Jones has an extensive career in government and has spent the last 25 years working with and for Indigenous people.

At 84% Indigenous employment, Thirrili places Indigenous health in Indigenous hands. The service operates from a strength-based approach and is the national provider of Indigenous specific postvention support and assistance.

“There are many Indigenous services funded to provide support for prevention,” Ms McGowan-Jones said. “But we are an Indigenous service, who provide services and support to families that have had a loss to suicide, or other fatal traumatic incidents.”

With staff across the country, Thirrili provides postvention services through a “fly-in, fly-out styled model. The thing that is really important for our service is that we must be asked or invited. We don’t just rock up and say ‘we’re here to help’,” Ms McGowan-Jones said.

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

Women urged to consider health

In a media release, the Minister for Health, Greg Hunt MP, has said that as we mark Women’s Health Week (6-10 September 2021), he continues to urge all Australian women to attend medical appointments and health checks, especially during lockdown.

While COVID-19 remains a massive public health concern, women of all ages continue to battle personal health and medical issues. While many Australian women are increasingly using services such as telehealth, some medical issues still require a visit to their GP or specialist.

Obtaining essential health care is one of the allowable reasons for leaving home during a lockdown. While some services have seen temporary interruptions during the COVID-19 pandemic, our health system remains in a strong position to support Australian women with health challenges.

Postponing screening, other diagnostic tests, or advice from a doctor, could allow a condition to worsen and make it more difficult to treat. The Australian healthcare system is there to support you through the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.

To read the media release in full click here.

Ending gendered violence in Australia

The National Summit on Women’s Safety has asked all Australians to confront the unacceptable scourge of family, domestic and sexual violence and provided meaningful and constructive actions for change. Minister for Foreign Affairs and Minister for Women Marise Payne and Minister for Women’s Safety Anne Ruston thanked all the panellists, speakers and delegates as well as all Australians who joined the national conversation.

NACCHO Chair Donnella Mills, Our Watch chief executive Patty Kinnersly and National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Women’s Alliance chief executive Sandra Creamer handed down a comprehensive Statement on behalf of all delegates which outlines key priorities to underpin the next National Plan to end violence against women and children.

To view the press release in full click here.

tile with text 'gender-based violence' various vector images of women & violence

Image source: WETECH website.

ACC services key to reducing OOHC

For National Child Protection Week, SNAICC calls on governments and organisations to recognise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled services and communities as key to reduce the number of our children in out-of-home care (OOHC). In 2020, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children made up 41% of children in OOHC in Australia despite being only 5.9% of Australia’s child population.

“The statistics are alarming – our children are 11 times more likely to be living away from their parents than non-Indigenous children,” Catherine Liddle said, CEO for the national peak body for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children. If this continues at the current trajectory, the number of our children in OOHC will double by 2030.”

To view SNAICC’s media release in full click here.

tile text 'keeping out children with family & culture' vector image of Aboriginal family

Image source: SNAICC website.

Adoption implications for First Nations kids

Currently, Aboriginal children are significantly over-represented in the out-of-home-care (OOHC) system. Drawing on Aboriginal trauma scholarship and decolonising methodologies, an recently published paper Trauma then and now: Implications of adoption reform for First Nations children situates the contemporary state removal of Aboriginal children against the backdrop of historical policies that actively sought to disrupt Aboriginal kinship and communities.

The paper draws on submissions to the 2018 Australian Senate Parliamentary Inquiry into Adoption Reform from Aboriginal community controlled organizations and highlights four common themes evident throughout these submissions: (i) the role of intergenerational trauma in high rates of Aboriginal child removal; (ii) the place of children within Aboriginal culture, kinship and identity; (iii) the centrality of the principles of self-determination and autonomy for Aboriginal communities and (iv) Aboriginal community controlled alternatives to child removal.

Acknowledging the failure of both federal and state reforms to address the issues raised in these submissions, the paper reflects on the marginalization of Aboriginal voices and solutions within contemporary efforts to address the multiple crises of the child protection system and the implications for the future of Aboriginal children.

To access the article click here.

Image source: Wandiyali website.

New process for job advertising

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: AHWs lead major vaccination blitz

feature tile text 'AHW led COVID-19 vaccination blitz sees unbelievable community update'

AHWs lead major vaccination blitz

In Wellington, a small community in western NSW, Aboriginal health workers are leading a major vaccination blitz. While Indigenous vaccination rates in this region are still the lowest in the state, Wellington Aboriginal Corporation Health Service (WACHS) is working hard to change that.

“Over the last two weeks we’ve been able to deliver about 1,500 individual doses,” Jay Forrester from the WACHS said. “I think the community uptake has been unbelievable.”

The health service in Wellington is in the midst of a six-week vaccine drive. Staff believe they have already vaccinated about 50 per cent of the targeted population, and they aim to reach 80 to 90% by the end.

To view the article in full click here.

Feature tile shows WACHS staff administering COVID-19 vaccine. Image source: ABC News.

WACHS vaccination clinic

WACHS vaccination clinic. Image source: ABC News.

Second COVID-19 death in Western NSW

The tiny community of Enngonia in Northwest NSW is in mourning following the death of an Elder yesterday (6 September 2021). The lady in her 70s, who was unfortunately unvaccinated, passed away in Dubbo Hospital after contracting COVID-19.

The news follows the death of an Aboriginal man  in his 50’s in Dubbo on August 30. “A really sad day for a little place like Enngonia to lose one of their much-loved Elders up there,” said Western NSW Police Commander Geoff McKechnie.

The small isolated community, which is an hour’s drive from the nearest hospital in Bourke, has less than 200 residents in the town with almost half the population Indigenous. There are 21 active cases of the virus in the town, while six new cases were announced in Bourke on Monday.

Western Health District CEO Scott McLachlan urged the community to continue to follow health advice to prevent further spread of the virus. “This is a very sombre reminder of the tragic outcomes that can happen when people get COVID,” he said.

To read the full SBS article click here.

entrance to Dubbo Hospital

Image source: The Guardian.

Free WellMob website webinar 

Our health and wellbeing workers are under extra pressure given the COVID-19 pandemic and additional physical and mental health risks to our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

A free webinar will explore the WellMob website, a project delivered by some of our University Centre for Rural Health staff who work under the national electronic Mental Health in Practice project. Wellmob is a digital library of Indigenous specific SEWB resources that makes it easy for you to find culturally relevant online tools to keep our mob strong in these challenging times.

The seminar will tell you about how best to navigate the website and discuss ways for you to use digital wellbeing tools in your work and with your Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander clients. The Q & A will allow you to share your insights and discuss your needs in using online resources to maintain the health and wellbeing of our diverse First Nations communities.

The webinar will take place on Thursday 16 September 2021 at 4:00pm AEST. The webinar is free to attend, however, registration is required.

WellMob Health Our Way banner/logo

Discrimination links to poor mental health

Globally, Indigenous populations have higher rates of suicidal behaviour and psychological distress compared to non-Indigenous populations. Indigenous populations also report high rates of exposure to discrimination, which could potentially contribute to poor mental health outcomes.

A research team have estimated the prevalence of discrimination among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander males in Australia and examined the role of discrimination in the association between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander status and suicidal thoughts and depressive symptoms.

The team’s analysis adds to evidence that discrimination is a contributor to mental health disparities between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and non-Indigenous populations in Australia. The research concludes that reducing discrimination ought to be considered as part of strategies to improve the social and emotional well-being of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

To access the article published in the Australian and NZ Journal of Psychiatry click here

silhouette of Aboriginal man's head with light shining on to eye

Image source: Australian Men’s Health Forum.

A Life Changing Life campaign

The Australian Government wants to see a growing skilled and sustainable care and support workforce. As part of their A Life Changing Life campaign, they have partnered with SEEK to help employers attract the right people to fill care and support roles

They are hosting an exclusive webinar exploring current employment trends and showcasing the tools available to support your resourcing strategies. In the webinar, employers will learn:

  • Employment market trends and insights
  • Employment trends in care and support sector
  • Tools and products available to optimise hiring activity.

The free webinar will be held from: 11:00 AM – 12:00 PM AEST Thursday 9 September 2021.

This is part of a new webinar series in partnership with SEEK, connecting employers with industry experts who will share insights and practical advice tailored to recruiting people into the care and support sector.

The webinar is designed for all employers in the care and support sector, and there is no cost. To register for the webinar click here.

A Life Changing Life tile - Aboriginal woman & man sitting on a bench outside

Support available if concerns about drinking

With the extension of COVID restrictions affecting many Australians, the Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education (FARE) is reminding people that there are supports available if they have concerns about their drinking or the drinking of someone they know.

FARE CEO, Caterina Giorgi, said that people might notice themselves drinking more frequently or drinking as a way to cope with anxiety or stress. “Many of us are experiencing disrupted routines and increased levels of stress as we deal with the affect that the ongoing pandemic has on our everyday lives,” Ms Giorgi said.

“These feelings are unsettling and can increase the likelihood of turning to alcohol to cope. But alcohol increases anxiety and leads to sleep disturbance and having less energy.” Ms Giorgi encouraged anyone concerned about their drinking to reach out to support services.

“There are a range of online, phone and face-to-face support that people can reach out to if they are concerned about their alcohol use or that of someone in their lives,” Ms Giorgi said.

Support is available by calling the National Alcohol and Other Drug hotline (1800 250 015) and online support sites Daybreak, Drinksmeter and Bushtribe.

More support services are available on the FARE website here.

To view the FARE media release here.

FARE logo, photo nuclear family

New process for job advertising

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

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

R U OK? Day

R U OK? is a harm prevention charity that encourages people to stay connected and have conversations that can help others through difficult times in their lives. Their work focuses on building the motivation, confidence and skills of the  help-giver – the person who can have a meaningful conversation with someone who is struggling with life.

R U OK? contributes to suicide prevention efforts by encouraging  people to invest more time in their  personal relationships and building the capacity of informal support networks – friends, family and colleagues – to be alert to those around them, have a conversation if they identify signs of distress or difficulty and connect someone to appropriate support, long before they’re in crisis.

This year’s R U OK? Day message is Are they really OK? Ask them today.

Do you know how the people in your world are really going?

Life’s ups and downs happen to all of us. So chances are someone you know might be struggling. Your genuine support can make a difference whatever they are facing, big or small.  So, don’t wait until someone’s visibly distressed or in crisis. Make a moment meaningful and ask them how they’re really going. Are they really OK? Ask them today. Your conversation could change a life.

You can visit the R U OK? website here.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Vaccine conspiracies target vulnerable communities

feature tile text 'vaccine misinformation targeted at vulnerable communities' & image of Elder man receiving covid-19 vaccine

Vaccine conspiracies target vulnerable communities

NACCHO CEO Pat Turner called an emergency meeting with Mr Wyatt and 14 Aboriginal church leaders and remote doctors on Friday (3 September 2021) to discuss alarming numbers of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who are hesitant about whether they should be vaccinated as a direct result of misinformation that has targeted Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders.

The group of respected pastors and remote medical professionals confirmed conspiracies and misinformation were circulating in vulnerable communities, spreading fear of COVID-19 vaccines. “The meeting was about getting the advice of religious leaders on how to talk in a way that is respectful of people’s beliefs while keeping people safe from serious illness and death,” Minister Wyatt said.

To view Minister Wyatt’s media release click here.

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

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

Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Services (KAMS) has also written to local churches asking them to counter dangerous misinformation promoting vaccine hesitancy among Aboriginal communities. Vicki O’Donnell, the CEO of KAMS, said that while some communities in the area had high rates of vaccinations, there was “resistance in some communities due to religious groups and the misinformation that they’re providing”.

“We’ve always had issues around religious groups, ever since I can remember,” O’Donnell said. “This is the first time I’ve come across religious groups being very active around anti-vaccination. And I’ve been in Aboriginal health for 25 years now.”

To view the full article in The Guardian click here.

side profile of face of Labor Senator Pat Dodson

Labor Senator Pat Dodson has called on religious leaders of all denominations to condemn groups spreading anti-vaccine propaganda. Photo: Mick Tsikas. Image source: The Guardian.

Mallee District Aboriginal Services chief executive Jacki Turfrey told Sunraysia Daily says vaccine conspiracy theories have spread like wildfire among Sunraysia’s Aboriginal community. “There’s a lot of myths being circulated about there being metal and metal traces in the vaccines, about there being implants being put into people who get the vaccine, about fertility … they’re actually making our job much, much harder,” she said.

“The myths are out there – they’re ramping up. As a result, you’ve got a lot of people are nervous and afraid to get the vaccine. There’s no counter media that actually goes through and dispels the myths. That would have an amazing impact.” Ms Turfrey rejected the suggestion vaccination providers weren’t doing enough to get Aboriginal community members to roll up their sleeves.

To view the full article in the Sunraysia Daily click here.

MDAS CEO Jacki Turfrey

MDAS CEO Jacki Turfrey says incentives offered to Indigenous people are having a positive impact on vaccination rates. Photo: Ben Grose. Image source: Sunraysia Daily.

Yawning divide in vaccination rates

Nationwide, 60.5% of the population over the age of 16 have had one dose, while 36.4%  are fully vaccinated. In comparison, just 37%t of First Nations people have had one jab, and 20.5% both.

New data released by the federal government also exposes a stark divide between Australia’s towns and cities and regional and remote areas. NACCHO’s chief medical advisor Dr Jason Agostino said some of the figures are ‘alarming’. “You just need to look at what’s happened far western NSW to understand what can happen when just a single case of COVID-19 gets in,” he said.

“Without the protection of the vaccine, what’s happening in western NSW and Far West NSW Wales can happen anywhere, so we need to do whatever we can to address vaccine hesitancy and get doses out and into people’s arms.”

To view the full article click here.

Aboriginal man receiving covid-19 vaccination

Despite the higher health risks, the national Indigenous vaccine rates are sitting well behind the general population. Photo: Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Services. Image source: NITV website.

Elder praises community lockdown response

Indigenous people across western NSW are working hard to do the right thing in a COVID crisis that restricts their highly social lives and puts pressure on their emotional wellbeing, says one of the region’s best-known elders. First Nations people continue to make up the overwhelming majority of COVID-19 infections in western NSW.

In Dubbo, which has most of the state’s regional cases, Wiradjuri elder Frank Doolan — better known as “Riverbank Frank” — heaped praise on locals abiding by lockdown laws. “I feel a certain amount of pride in my people, even though their circumstances in many instances may not be conducive to this new phenomenon of lockdown (and) it may not agree with Aboriginal people or the lives they lead,” he said. “I have been amazed at just how people are trying to comply with the health laws at the moment.”

To view the full ABC news article click here.

Wiradjuri Elder "Riverbank Frank" Doolan

“Riverbank Frank” Doolan says lockdown restrictions are especially taxing on the Aboriginal community. Photo: Gary-Jon Lysaght. Image source: ABC News.

COVID-19 exposes Australia’s health inequality

Australians, on the whole, are fortunate when it comes to their health. Generally, people enjoy a high standard of living and access to universal health care, and Australia consistently ranks well on measures such as life expectancy and mortality rates.

But beneath gross measures of health and high OECD rankings lies deeply-entrenched, longstanding inequalities. The gap in health outcomes between Australia’s rich and poor is substantial, and has been laid bare for all to see over the course of the pandemic.

Social scientist Julie Leask from the University of Sydney says the fact poorer, more diverse communities are being most impacted by COVID-19 is not by chance, and reflects “deep inequities in society”. “[The pandemic] is an opportunity for all of the public to see the mechanism by which poverty and social exclusion actually influence health,” she says.

In Australia, health inequalities are felt most acutely by Indigenous people and those living in socio-economically disadvantaged areas, including in rural and remote Australia.

To view the article in full click here.

CAAC vaccination outreach at Irrkerlantye

Central Australia Aboriginal Congress vaccination outreach at Irrkerlantye (White Gate) Damp. Photo: Kate Buckland, CAAC. Image source: Croakey Health Media.

WA releases Aboriginal Empowerment Strategy

The WA Government has released its first Closing the Gap Jurisdictional Implementation Plan together with its Aboriginal Empowerment Strategy – two important and strategic documents that will guide a future whole-of-government approach to Aboriginal affairs in WA.

This is the first Implementation Plan for WA under the new National Agreement on Closing the Gap and was developed through collaboration across government departments and agencies, with crucial input and endorsement from the Aboriginal Advisory Council of WA, as well as the Aboriginal Health Council of WA (AHCWA), the only WA-based member of the Coalition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peak Organisations (the Coalition of Peaks).

Vicki O’Donnell, member of the Aboriginal Advisory Council of WA and Chairperson of the AHCWA said: “The National Agreement on Closing the Gap is strongly supported by Aboriginal people in WA as it defines the reforms that are absolutely necessary for improving the life outcomes of our people, and our communities. The four Priority Reforms require governments to change the way they work with us at all levels, and ensure that Aboriginal self-determination, leadership, and culture are the foundations for shared decision-making, partnership and service delivery into the future.

To view the media statement in full click here.

Hearing health outreach services report

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) has released a report Hearing health outreach services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in the NT July 2012 to December 2020.

The report presents information on hearing health outreach services provided to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young people in the NT. It shows that in 2020 there were: 2,010 audiology services; 701 ear, nose and throat teleotology services; and 1,004 Clinical Nurse Specialist visits. Among children and young people who received at least two services between 2012 and 2020, 61% had improved hearing loss and 71% had improved hearing impairment.

To view the report  click here.

Aboriginal toddler having a hearing test

Photo: Lauren Roberts, NT News. Image source: Menzies School of Health Research.

NDIS Access Program in Kimberley

The Rural Clinical School of WA, The University of WA have released an article about their study of the NDIS ‘Access Program’ in the Kimberley region. Their mixed methods study explores the barriers and enablers of the Access Program in­­­­­­­ linking remote Aboriginal residents with the NDIS. The study also reports on what types of disability people engaging with the Access program had, their age, gender, and if they lived in a town or a community.

The study found the Access program has provided support and assistance for Aboriginal people in accessing the NDIS. Continuation of the Access Program until 2022 will allow more people to receive the support they need to navigate entry to the NDIS. Provision of services for those who have received an NDIS plan requires ongoing advocacy and evaluation.

The research team wants to continue the discussion around the NDIS Access Program to ensure the rights of remote Aboriginal Australians with a disability are met, in ways that are strength based and culturally secure.

To view the Equity in Access: A Mixed Methods Exploration of the NDIS Access Program for the Kimberley Region, WA article click here.

Seven-year-old Kelvina Benny in her wheelchair

Seven-year-old Kelvina Benny lives with her family in the Yungngora community on Noonkanbah Station, Kimberley region, WA. Image source: NDIS website.

New process for job advertising

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

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

World Suicide Prevention Day 

One in four Australians report knowing someone who died by suicide during the past 12 months of the pandemic – the equivalent of 5 million people – with social isolation, the economy and jobs driving concerns, particularly amongst women. It comes as two-thirds of Australians (66%) back the Federal Government introducing a standalone national suicide prevention act requiring all government decisions to consider and mitigate suicide risks two years in a row.

The findings are from Suicide Prevention Australia’s second State of the Nation report, which will be officially released this week on World Suicide Prevention Day 2021 – Friday, 10 September 2021. Suicide Prevention Australia CEO Nieves Murray said history showed major increases in suicide were linked to major social and economic events and there was none more concerning facing Australia than right now.

To view the Suicide Prevention Australia media release click here.

This year, Suicide Prevention Australia is hosting a free webinar form 10:30AM – 11:30AM AEST Friday 10 September 2021 to bring together key members of government, the suicide prevention sector and recipients of our LiFE Awards which recognise work with significant impacts on reducing suicide.

To register for the webinar click here.

banner text 'shining a light on suicide prevention Friday 10 Sep 2021, world suicide prevention day' vector image of one female male & two males with huge yellow spot light

banner text ‘shining a light on suicide prevention Friday 10 Sep 2021, world suicide prevention day’ vector image of one female male & two males with huge yellow spot light

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Health problems dire long before COVID-19

feature tile text 'ATSI health problems dire long before COVID-19 hit' & image of Aboriginal man on dialysis Purple House

Health problems dire long before COVID-19

According to Brewarrina GP Dr Sonia Henry the recent headlines about the northwest of NSW have been clear in their message. Here are two: “Australia’s failure to vaccinate Indigenous Australians” and “Funeral in Wilcannia leads to COVID-19 spread”. Anyone who has lived or worked in remote Australia with Indigenous populations knows the real headline should be: “Australia’s failure of its Indigenous people – full stop”.

The reason Indigenous populations are so “vulnerable”, as we say, is that we effectively have created a two-tiered health system where this is inevitable, long before COVID-19 and long after.

Dr Henry says Brewarrina shares many similarities to Wilcannia (about 500 kms away), where COVID-19 is spreading through the Indigenous population. We all know if COVID-19 were to explode here, not only would issues such as overcrowding and food be problematic (we have two tiny shops, both of which would be forced to close if there were a big outbreak), but also what is always an issue – how to get decent medical care.

To view the article in full click here.

mural on Moorundi Aboriginal Community Health Service building, Raukkan, SA

A mural on the Moorundi Aboriginal Community Health Service building, Raukkan, SA. Photo: Coorong Council. Image source: The Australian. Image in feature tile: NITV news website.

ACCHO trying to meet high vaccine demand

Awabakal Ltd, which runs an Aboriginal medical service in the Hunter, has been running regular vaccination clinics to try and meet the high demand. They have been inundated with requests for appointments and are doing what they can to progress their waiting lists as quickly as possible, although demand far outweighs current supply.

Awabakal is considering mobile vaccination services. “We are in the process of assessing suitable locations and will actively seek to provide outreach services in the coming weeks,” it said.

Worimi Local Aboriginal Land Council Chief Executive Andrew Smith said Aboriginal people often relied on organisations like Awabakal for health care, rather than GPs. “We don’t necessarily participate in the mainstream health sector like everyday Australians do. Generally we don’t get any help until it’s almost the 11th hour. Wilcannia and other communities are a clear example of where we are continuously being left behind and put in the too-hard basket.”

To view the article in full click here.

Worimi Local ALC Andrew Smith receiving first jab

Worimi Local Aboriginal Land Council Chief Executive Andrew Smith receiving first Pfizer vaccination. Image source: Newcastle Herald.

Community-led programs to reduce family violence

Nine service providers across Australia have received a share of $13.5 million for targeted community-led programs to reduce violence against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and their children. This funding is part of $35.3 million for Indigenous-specific measures under the Fourth Action Plan of the National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children 2010-2022.

Minister for Indigenous Australians, the Hon Ken Wyatt AM, MP, said each of these measures were driven by the experiences and expertise of local Indigenous communities. “Breaking the cycle of violence requires community-driven approaches that prioritise cultural healing and family restoration,” Minister Wyatt said. “Putting Indigenous experience at the heart of our efforts is absolutely crucial to reducing violence against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and children.”

To view the media release in full click here.

rear shot of three Aboriginal women in dim light, dusk

Image source: The Conversation.

Indigenous Eye Health Measures 2021

On Monday this week (1 September 2021) the Australian Institute for Health and Welfare (AIHW) launched its Indigenous eye health measures 2021 report which shows measurable progress towards improving the eye health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Despite the pandemic’s impact, the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people having an eye examination by an optometrist or ophthalmologist continued to grow, reaching 104,300 in 2019-20 (compared to 100,700 in 2018-19).

The report also highlights some of the continuing challenges Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people face in accessing the eye care they need, such a wait times substantially longer for cataract surgery (a median number of 124 days) than for other Australians (82 days).

Vision 2020 Australia says investing in public provision of priority treatments (such as cataract surgery and treatments for diabetic eye disease), supporting development of community led models and building local case management that can help Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people connect to, and remain engaged with, treatment are all critical.

Vision 2020 Australia continues to call for Australian Government investment in these and other priority areas so that we can achieve the goal of ending avoidable blindness in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities by 2025.

You can read Vision 2020 Australia’s media release in full here and access the AIHW Indigenous Eye Health Measures 2021 report here.cover of AIHW Indigenous eye health measures 2021 report

Old homelessness interventions don’t work

A government taskforce looking at Adelaide’s Aboriginal homelessness population has found COVID-19 lockdown shelters which permitted alcohol consumption and yarning circles led by Indigenous translators and leaders were more successful than traditional responses.

The taskforce’s report found that unless changes occur to understand and help the “constantly changing groups of people” who gather in the City of Adelaide and Adelaide Parklands, there will continue to be “severe” health and safety consequences of Aboriginal people. “Tragically, this includes a significant but unknown number of Aboriginal people dying prematurely in the heart of the City of Adelaide,” the report says.

Some of the 30 recommendations include decriminalising public drunkenness, funding more Aboriginal health workers, and pursuing tenancy reform to support more culturally appropriate housing.

To view the article in full click here.

homeless person lying on ground covered entirely with blanket, next to shopping trolley

Image source: CityMag website.

First Nations’ community development framework

Community First Development’s (CFD) latest publication A First Nations’ Approach to Community Development: our community development framework results from over 20 years of experience and practice working alongside First Nations’ communities.

Alyawarre woman, Ms Pat Anderson AO, known nationally and internationally as a powerful advocate for the health of Australia’s First Peoples, said, “It is my view that  Community First Development’s Community Development Framework is an essential guide in the field of community development, both in Australia and internationally. This practical and ethical guide is the culmination of conversations shared, relationships nurtured, and activities facilitated. I encourage you to read and reflect on this guide and consider how your initiatives can respect, promote, and fulfil the right to self-determination for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.”

To learn more, join a webinar with special guests Ms Pat Anderson AO, Stephanie Harvey, CEO regional staff and representatives from two communities from 11:00 AM – 12:00 PM Wednesday 8 September. To register click here.

cover of 'A first nations' Approach to Community Development', image of two Aboriginal boys sitting on back of a ute

Overdose deaths remain stubbornly high

International Overdose Awareness Day, marked on Tuesday this week (31 August 2021) is proclaimed as the world’s largest annual campaign to end overdose, remember without stigma those who have died and acknowledge the grief of the family and friends left behind.

It also comes with an urgent demand for action on a number of fronts according to Professor Dan Lubman and Associate Professor Suzanne Nielsen, from Turning Point and the Monash Addiction Research Centre who have written:

‘Unfortunately, the number of Australian deaths from unintentional overdose remains higher than the national road toll, and deaths involving heroin and climbing. We build safety barriers on our roads to reduce fatalities, but too often our response to drug use is just to park the ambulance at the bottom of the cliff. As heroin harms increase, we need to rapidly upscale a broader range of treatment options, and remove as many barriers to care as possible.’

‘Pilots and trials are welcome, but we’ve had evidence-based solutions to the problem of overdose for a long time. They should be implemented everywhere and without further delay. As we’ve seen with other public health responses, small, slow steps in the right direction are not enough in the race to save lives.’

To view the Croakey Health Media article in full click here.

purple ribbon, black background, text in chalk font 'Drug Overdose Awareness'

New process for job advertising

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

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

Women’s Health Week

In 2013, realising there was no event dedicated to women’s health in Australia, Jean Hailes for Women’s Health ran the very first national Women’s Health Week. Women’s Health Week held from Monday 6 to Friday 10 September 2021 is a nation-wide campaign of events and online activities – all centred on improving women’s health and helping women to make healthier choices. For more information click here.

During Women’s Health Week the House Select Committee on Mental Health and Suicide Prevention will hold its final public hearing with a focus on the mental health concerns and systems that impact women.

Chair, Dr Fiona Martin MP, said ‘The Committee commends the work of Jean Hailes in continuing Women’s Health Week. When we support women in accessing mental health care, as and when they need it, we improve women’s overall health, boost women’s participation in the workforce, and support Australian families.’ To view the Parliament of Australia’s media release in full click here.

Aboriginal mother & two young children, girl, boy

Image source: Jean Hailes for women’s health website.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: AIDA reinforces the message, get vaccinated

feature tile text 'AIDA reinforces message to ATSI communities, get vaccinated ASAP' & image of gloved hands injecting arm of woman wearing face mask

AIDA reinforces the message, get vaccinated

The Australian Indigenous Doctors’ Association (AIDA) is deeply saddened to hear about the death of a 50-year-old Aboriginal man in Dubbo who succumbed to COVID-19 this week. AIDA has offered heartfelt condolences to his family and the broader Aboriginal community in western NSW. It is believed that he is the first Aboriginal person to die of COVID in Australia.

“The Aboriginal community-controlled sector has been working extremely hard to avoid this outcome; it was the news we were hoping we would never have to hear,” said Dr Simone Raye, Vice President of AIDA. “There is a lesson from this sad outcome. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and communities must be prioritised for the vaccine rollout and other health services related to COVID-19.”

In the wake of this news, AIDA is reinforcing its message to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities to get vaccinated against COVID-19 as soon as possible.
“We have seen how infectious and dangerous the Delta strain of COVID-19 is,” Dr Raye said. “We need to make sure that our families and our communities are protected against COVID by getting vaccinated.”

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

banner text 'AIDA Australian Indigenous Doctors' Association' & aqua concentric circles Aboriginal dot painting

Image source in feature tile: NPS MedicineWise website.

ACCHO develops ‘I want to quit’ toolkit

A NACCHO member Carbal Medical Services in Toowoomba, Queensland, has developed a ‘I want to quit’ workplace quit smoking toolkit. The toolkit aims to help workplaces to support their staff in their journey towards quitting smoking.

Each toolkit includes a range of quitting aids, such as:

  • progress journals
  • tracking charts
  • useful information and resources designed to stimulate the process of enabling long-term positive change around smoking habits.

The video below outlines what is included in the Carbal Medical Services’ ‘I want to quit’ toolkit and how it can be used in the workplace.

Another resource that may be useful is the Beat Cigarette Cravings collection of 30 second videos that highlight common triggers to smoke and how people can overcome them, produced by the Cancer Institute of NSW. The videos aim to encourage Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in NSW to access the iCanQuit website and Aboriginal Quitline to help them in the their quitting journey. You can view one of the videos below.

CDU leads sector on staff vaccination

To prevent the spread of COVID-19 into Aboriginal communities, Charles Darwin University (CDU) has asked any staff travelling to and working on Aboriginal controlled land to be fully vaccinated.

From Friday 1 October 2021 all staff travelling to these areas to undertake research or fieldwork, attend meetings with stakeholders or attend events, will be required to be vaccinated. This is first for the Australian university sector and affirms CDU’s commitment to protecting vulnerable communities.

CDU Vice-Chancellor Scott Bowman said due to the University’s unique location in Northern Australia and its ongoing work and commitment to Aboriginal communities, CDU was taking a leadership role to safeguard public health. “CDU is a university that occupies a unique place in Australia, and we acknowledge this with a sense of pride and a sense of responsibility,” Professor Bowman said. “Aboriginal leaders are sending clear messages that they want people travelling to and working with communities to be vaccinated.

CDU logo & photo of masked woman holding up sleeve to show vaccination site

Image source; CDU website.

SA Rural Aboriginal Health Workforce Plan

The SA Department for Health and Wellbeing (DHW) has released a draft plan to strengthen and grow the Aboriginal health workforce as part of the Rural Health Workforce Strategy.

Commenting on the Consultation Draft South Australia’s Rural Aboriginal Health Workforce Plan 2021−26: Part of South Australia’s Rural Health Workforce Strategy, Minister for Health and Wellbeing, Stephen Wade said it explored strategies to ensure the State attracted, recruited and strengthened a regional Aboriginal health workforce.

“Our draft Rural Aboriginal Health Workforce Plan aims to increase the Aboriginal health workforce in regional areas and provide culturally appropriate and supportive health care for Aboriginal people, closer to home,” Mr Wade said. “Consultation with Aboriginal communities, regional Local Health Network leads, the Aboriginal health workforce and key stakeholders will occur across the State until October, and feedback will be brought together to ensure we can secure the workforce we need for the future.”

To view the article in full click here.

AHW SA, in office

Image source: Health Translation SA website.

Podcast: How to Change a Life 

In an episode of the How to Change a Life podcast, host Mary Bolling is in conversation with Sam Cooms, a Noonukul Quandamooka woman from the Minjerribah (North Stradbroke Island) community and PhD student at CQUniversity.

Sam explains how her Indigenous values inform both her carer role as a mum to children living with disabilities and her vision for a more inclusive society for people living with disability, in Minjerribah and nationally.

To listen to the podcast click here.

Sam Cooms portrait with trees in background

Sam Cooms. Image source: CQ University website.

Wiyi Yani U Thangani Design Committee EOIs sought

As part of the Wiyi Yani U Thangani project, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner June Oscar AO is establishing a Wiyi Yani U Thangani Design Committee for the establishment of a National First Nations Women and Girls Advisory Body (Design Committee).

Over the course of October 2021, the Design Committee will:

  1. Design a process for selecting National First Nations Women and Girls Advisory Body, design, and implementation (Selection Process Document).
  2. Provide a draft Terms of Reference for the National First Nations Women and Girls Advisory Body including draft governance protocols and a draft scope of work (Draft ToR Document).

The Australian Human Rights Commission (Commission) is seeking six First Nations women and girls with experience in governance, systems change, gender equality, culturally informed policy, research and evaluation, community development and legislative reform.

For more information about the EOI process and requirements click here.

Interested candidates are invited to submit an expression of interest here by:
5:00pm Sunday 12 September 2021.

Aboriginal artwork & portrait of June Oscar

Artwork by Elaine chambers and Riki Slam in collaboration, Australian Human Rights Commission website. June Oscar AO, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner. Image source: IndigenousX.

First Nations FASD review 

The Alcohol and Other Drugs Knowledge Centre has published a Review of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. The review states that FASD is a preventable, lifelong disability. FASD disproportionately affects Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, however, there are limited prevalence statistics available in the mainstream Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population.

The review explores the role of Aboriginal women in preventing FASD and proposes that programs that work best for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities are those that are done with, for and by the communities and their leaders. The authors of the review recommend that, where possible, federal and state governments should choose to invest in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community organisations to develop their own evidence-based, fit-for-community FASD prevention, intervention, and management strategies.

Men are largely absent in FASD interventions. Co-author Michael Doyle says, “There is a need to involve Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men in research to understand the role they can play in the prevention, treatment and management of FASD”.

You can access the review here.

Allied health follow-up services for Mob

Were you aware? Temporary MBS items are available to allied health practitioners to deliver vital health services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Australians residing in Residential Aged Care Facilities. To access these allied health services, the patient must have had a health assessment. The temporary COVID-19 MBS items are available until 30 June 2022.

To support allied health practitioners, the Australian Government Health Services has developed a customised infographic that conveniently lists the available allied health services, along with the relevant face-to-face MBS service items. To view this infographic click here and to read more about Indigenous health assessments and follow up services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients click here.

Looking for learning resources? The Health Professional Education Resources Gateway has a great range of educational resources that assist allied health practitioners to provide services under MBS programs and initiatives. To access these educational products click here.

If you have any feedback on Services Australia’s education resources, please let them know as it will help them to continually improve their education products. You can provide feedback here.

female worker with female Aboriginal elder

Image source: ISACNT website.

New process for job advertising

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

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

Indigenous Literacy Day

To celebrate Indigenous Literacy Day (ILD), the Indigenous Literacy Foundation is hosting a free virtual celebration for all Australians going live from 9am Wednesday 1 September. Through storytelling, ILD provides a window into the richness, diversity and multilingual world of First Nations peoples with a selection of short, inspiring video stories by First Nations storytellers (of all ages) from across the country.

Viewers can choose from a diverse range of over 50 stories from kids in remote Australia, to First Nations authors, musicians and artists such as Stella Raymond, Wayne Quilliam, Jessica Mauboy, Brenton McKenna, Maureen Jipyiliya Nampijinpa O’Keefe, Lahrissa Behrendt, Anita Heiss and more.

There is a special feature on the incredible journey of Stick Mob – a group of four young graphic novelists in Alice Springs, as well as heartwarming stories from remote schools and organisations such as Children’s Ground, Sharing stories Foundation, First Languages Australia, and SNAICC.

The short videos showcase the incredible range of stories, languages, cultures and voices of First Nations peoples, and the many ways literacy can be interpreted and understood.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: All 12-15 year olds now eligible for vaccine

feature tile text 'All 12-15 years olds now eligible for COVID-19 vaccine' & image of syringe injecting COVID-19 virus & vaccine vial

All 12-15 year olds now eligible for vaccine

All children aged between 12 and 15 years will be able to book a COVID-19 Pfizer vaccine from 13September following the Morrison Government’s decision to implement expert medical advice. This is in addition to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 12 and over, who are already able to access a COVID-19 vaccine.

Bookings will be available through GPs, Commonwealth Vaccination Clinics and ACCHOs. Each state and territory will advise when their state vaccination clinics will open to this group.

The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) reviewed detailed medical evidence and recommended Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccination in all children and adolescents 12 years of age and above. PM Scott Morrison said the Moderna vaccine would also be made available subject to approvals from the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) and ATAGI recommendations for 12-18 year olds.

To view the media release in full click here.

Image source for above photo and photo in the feature tile: The Conversation.

RACGP and RACP support 12+ vaccination

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) has welcomed news that all children aged 12 to 15 are eligible to receive the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, with bookings opening on 13 September. Earlier this month, the Therapeutic Goods Administration’s (TGA) gave provisional approval for the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine to be delivered to 12 to 15-year olds.

Shortly after, the RACGP spoke out in support of the ATAGI issuing a new recommendation that vulnerable children groups were eligible to receive the vaccine. Expanding eligibly to all 12 to 15-year-olds comes at an opportune time, with the Delta COVID-19 variant striking many young people in Victoria and NSW – including those aged 16 and under.

To view the RACGP media release in full click here.

Image source: The Smith Family website.

The Royal Australasian College of Physicians (RACP) has also recommended that all children aged 12-15 years receive the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccination when available, in line with recent ATAGI advice. This follows a recent recommendation to administer the Pfizer vaccine to children in this age bracket with pre-existing medical conditions, Indigenous children and children living in remote communities.

The Delta strain of COVID-19 causes infection in a higher number of children, making vaccination in this age group a priority. “Parents can be confident that the safety and effectiveness of the vaccines has been carefully evaluated through international clinical trials and analysis of real-world data,” RACP President Professor John Wilson says.

To view the RACP media release click here.

Image source: Australian Government Institute of Family Studies website.

Attitudes to vaccine improving

Ngukurr resident Michelle Farrell admits she felt a “bit scared” getting her COVID-19 vaccine. But she rolled up her sleeve as part of a new push to get thousands of remote residents in central and southern Arnhem land protected against the virus.

Ms Farrell is a board member on Aboriginal-controlled health service Sunrise Health, which is partnering with the Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS) to boost vaccine rates in communities like Ngukurr, Minyerri and Wugularr (Beswick). Ms Farrell said attitudes towards the vaccine were improving but there was still hesitancy to address.

To view the full article click here.

Ngukurr community leaders hosting BBQ at local football oval where people could also get COVID-19 vaccine

Ngukurr community leaders hosted a barbecue at the local football oval where people could also get COVID-19 vaccines. Photo: Royal Flying Doctor Service. Image source: ABC News.

COVID-19 communications approach for Mob

The National COVID Vaccine Taskforce has produced an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communication campaign slide deck. This campaign provides an overview of the communications approach for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander audiences, including creation of custom designs and relevant assets with Indigenous artwork.

One of the resources available, is the below video of Tatum Moore, Wiradjuri, Yorta Yorta and Barkindji woman and local Dubbo community leader, encouraging everyone to stay home, get tested, and get the COVID-19 vaccine.

Youth programs key to reduce family violence

Teaching young people how to identify healthy and respectful relationships helps mitigate experiences of family violence for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, according to a report led by The Australian National University (ANU).

In the FaCts study, which is a first of its kind, researchers analysed responses from 1,600 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to understand how to reduce family violence in their communities. The Indigenous-led study, commissioned by the Department of Social Services, found support services must be orientated around families and broader kinship systems.

“We found that culturally informed education programs work,” study director Dr Jill Guthrie, from the ANU Research School of Population Health, said. “It is important to have Aboriginal Torres Strait Islander communities lead the change. “Programs like Young Luv engage with Aboriginal teenagers at a stage when destructive patterns in relationships may have started to happen or become normalised.”

To view the ANU article in full click here.

ANU researcher Jill Guthrie standing in stairwell

Study Director Jill Guthrie : “It is important to have Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities lead the change.” Image source: ANU website.

ACCHO values important carer role

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander carers provide ongoing care, support and assistance to family members and friends with disability, a chronic illness (which includes mental illness), terminal illness or who is frail aged, without receiving a salary or wage for the care they provide. 12.4% of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population are carers, compared to 10.5% of the non-Indigenous Australian population.

Derbarl Yerrigan Health Serivce Aboriginal Corporation is one ACCHO that values and recognises the important role of carers as key partners in the delivery of high quality care, and is committed to supporting carers through inclusion and responsiveness as per the Carers Recognition Act 2004.

DYSAC supports the four principles of the WA Carers Charter, including:

  1. Carers must be treated with respect and dignity
  2. The role of carers must be recognised by including carers in the assessment, planning, delivery and review of services that impact on them and the role of carers.
  3. The views and needs of carers must be taken into account along with the views, needs and best interests of people receiving care when decisions are made that impact on carers and the role of carers.
  4. Complaints made by carers in relation to services that impact on them and the role of carers must be given due attention and consideration.

To view this information on the DYSAC website click here. You can also access information and resources for carers on the Carers Australian website here.

Culturally safe suicide bereavement support

The Australian government is providing $15 million over three years to Thirrili Ltd, to provide culturally-appropriate bereavement support and follow-up services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Thirrili was selected as the national provider following a competitive grants process.

Minister for Indigenous Australians, the Hon Ken Wyatt AM, MP, said mental health and suicide prevention is a national priority, including suicide postvention services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

Thirrili will help to reduce adverse health outcomes for families and communities who suffer a suicide and assist in addressing further suicidal behaviours, particularly through their 24-hour help line – 1800 805 801.

To view the media release in full click here.

Mena Condo crouching down against Aboriginal art mural

NPY Women’s Council domestic violence case worker Mena Condo found limited suicide bereavement services in Alice Springs following her son Jack’s death. Image source: ABC News.

New process for job advertising

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

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

Asthma Week 2021

2.7 million Australians are living with asthma (1 in 9).  With air pollution being a regular thing we breathe in, the risks and impacts for people with asthma are getting harder. But it’s not just people with asthma who are impacted. Air pollution, from traffic exhaust to your gas cook-top, can be damaging our lungs and your general health. When we breathe in certain air pollutants, the risk of developing conditions like asthma, heart or lung disease and cancer can increase. Didn’t know? That’s okay.

This Asthma Week – Wednesday 1 to Thursday 7 September 2021 – Asthma Australia has joined forces with key respiratory, health and climate organisations to encourage Australians to care as much about the air they breathe as the food they eat.

The Asthma Week Collaborative is launching – ‘Air Nutrition – you are what you breathe – to educate Australians to think differently about the air we’re breathing in and to take simple steps for a healthier life. For more information visit Asthma Australia’s website here.