NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: 500 new First Nations health care workers

The image in the feature tile is of Tyla West-Chong who works with Gidgee Healing in the north-west Queensland region. Photo: Kelly Butterworth. Image source: ABC North West Qld article Indigenous health workers deliver trusted medical care to outback communities, 13 April 2021.

500 new First Nations health care workers

The federal government has announced a plan to train 500 health workers across Australia. Speaking from the front steps of SA’s Parliament House ahead of the Joint Council on Closing the Gap meeting last Friday, Assistant Indigenous Health Minister Malarndirri McCarthy said the government would spend $52.9 million over five years to employ the Aboriginal trainees. “We need to lift the standard of living for First Nations people in this country,” she said. The trainees will get Certificate III or IV qualifications to allow them to work in health settings and deliver culturally appropriate care.

Federal Indigenous Australian Minister Linda Burney said the Closing the Gap targets were “absolutely fundamental” to changing the lives of Aboriginal people in Australia. She said the gap cannot be closed without adequate data and shared decision-making between governments and Aboriginal organisations. “It is patently obvious that Aboriginal organisations know their communities and know what the resolutions are to what seems like intractable problems,” she said.

NACCHO CEO and Lead Convener of the Coalition of Peaks, Pat Turner said government institutions — hospitals, police stations, youth detention centres — need to be reformed to be more “culturally safe and culturally respectful in their dealings with Aboriginal people”.

To view the ABC News article Government announces investment in training 500 Aboriginal healthcare workers as Closing the Gap council meets click here.

Federal and state Indigenous affairs ministers and Aboriginal leaders meet in Adelaide for a Closing the Gap meeting. Photo: Richard Davies. Image source: ABC News.

New PHC centre opens in Mapoon

Dignitaries from all over Queensland headed for the tiny Cape York community of Mapoon last week for the opening of Apunipima Cape York Health Council’s Thimithi Nhii Primary Health Care Centre. This is Apunipima’s fourth standalone Primary Health Care Centre built under the Federal Government’s Rural and Remote Health Infrastructure Project and the result is a win for the community of Mapoon and Cape York communities in general.

Mayor of Mapoon and Apunipima Chairperson, Aileen Addo thanked a long list of people before cutting the ribbon in front of the community and guests to officially open the new facility. “This is something very positive, it’s been a long time coming but it’s finally here. This community is growing and we have to build infrastructure to go with that growth,” Mrs Addo said.

According to Mrs Addo, the flow-on effects from the opening of the new centre will resonate for years to come. “This is about more than just health, this is another strategy we’ve put in place to close the gap. This is about getting everything in order and seeing better outcomes like more community-based jobs, better infrastructure and community development.”

To view the Apunipima Cape Yourth Health Council media release Thimithi Nhii Primary Health Care Centre opens in Mapoon in full click here.

Images from the opening of thThimithi Nhii Primary Health Care Centre in Mapoon. Images provided by Apunipima Cape York Health Council.

$1.6m for Healing Spirit Youth Hub

The Andrews Labor Government is ensuring Aboriginal organisations have the facilities they need to support their communities and deliver the best services to First People’s Victorians. Minister for Treaty and First Peoples Gabrielle Williams has announced 21 Aboriginal organisations will share in $11 million to build or upgrade community infrastructure as part of the sixth round of the Aboriginal Community Infrastructure Program.

This includes Wathaurong Aboriginal Cooperative in Geelong, which will receive $1.6 million to develop a Healing Spirit Youth Hub, creating a fit-for-purpose, culturally safe space for children and young people to access clinical and therapeutic, social and emotional wellbeing services and supports.

To view the media release Boosting Capacity of Aboriginal Community Services by the Hon Gabirelle Williams MP, Victorian Minister for Mental Health and Minister for Treaty and First Peoples click here.

Image source: City of Greater Geelong website.

Managing tenecteplase (Metalyse) shortage

The Australian Government Department of Health and Aged Care Therapeutic Good Administration (DoH TGA) have have published a statement, available here with clinical recommendations to assist healthcare professionals during this shortage.

A printable summary, How to manage tenecteplase (Metalyse) shortage, of the recommendations is available here for clinicians to print and display in relevant health settings.

Links to both of these statements can be found here on the DoH TGA main shortage of tenecteplase (Metalyses) webpage.

Image source: AJP e-mag.

Strep A POCT set to safe lives

Instant diagnosis and treatment of potentially life-threatening Strep A infections is now very close to reality across Australia’s remote and regional areas thanks to molecular point-of-care testing (POCT) that slashes result times from five days to just minutes. Published today in the Medical Journal of Australia, researchers from Telethon Kids Institute and their collaborators have shown that utilising POCT machines to fast-track diagnosis of group A streptococcal (Strep A) pharyngitis in kids has the potential to revolutionise prevention strategies for acute rheumatic fever (ARF) and rheumatic heart disease (RHD).

Strep A infections are often responsible for sore throats and painful skin infections, which can lead to irreversible and potentially deadly heart and kidney damage if left untreated. Affecting remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians at some of the highest rates in the world, the key challenge in the prevention of ARF and RHD has been timely diagnosis and treatment of Strep A to minimise the risk of serious complications and stop the spread of infection throughout communities.

To view the Telethon Kids Institute media release Point-of-care Strep A tests set to save lives in remote settings in full click here.

Image source: Telethon Kids Institute.

Call to restore child and family centre funding

The Albanese Federal Government has an opportunity to demonstrate its commitment to Closing the Gap for our children by reinstating funding in the October Budget for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander child and family centres. The Abbott Government cut funding in 2014 to 38 Aboriginal Child and Family Centres (ACFCs), undermining efforts to ensure Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children had the best start in life through accessing community-controlled early childhood education and services.

SNAICC CEO Catherine Liddle said the ACFCs represented a considerable investment from COAG and the sector was still feeling the impacts of the cuts. “While some State and Territory Governments took up parts of the funding challenge, many ACFCs struggled to keep operating as integrated community-controlled early years services.”

To view the SNAICC media release Restore funding to Close the Gap for our Children in full click here.

Bubup Wilam Aboriginal Child and Family Centre
Thomastown, Melbourne. Image source: Hayball website.

ADHA seeking applications

The Australian Digital Health Agency (the Agency) is seeking applications, through a Request for Tender process, for suitably qualified, experienced, and interested individuals to join our group of expert advisors who will support the Agency’s program of work.

Digital Health Expert Advisors are critical to this role and support the Agency by applying everyday health industry experience to the design, development and implementation of Agency products and services. This includes focusing on the clinical safety, quality and usability of all products and services developed by the Agency, and the systems within which the Agency operates.

  • Subject matter expertise: contributing clinical and/or digital health subject matter expertise into the Agency’s work program to ensure that our products, services and activities align with contemporary clinical practice and are high quality, clinically safe and usable;
  • Strategic advice: providing strategic advice within their area(s) of expertise, on approaches, processes, services and products, via participation in expert committees, advisory groups and other forums;
  • Advocacy and engagement: advocating and engaging with the broader clinical and consumer communities on the establishment and adoption of a national digital health infrastructure and representing the Agency in this regard; this may include conferences and media appearances;
  • Information and education: participating in the development and presentation of clinical messaging, education and adoption activities, and materials; and
  • Other activities: undertaking other activities as directed that aim to raise awareness and promote adoption and use of digital health products, services, and systems nationally.

The Request for Tender has now been released, via Austender, with applications closing Monday 19 September 2022.

To access the Australian Digital Health Agency website click here and to access the Digital Health Expert Advisor position details click here.

Sector Jobs

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: CATSINaM 25th Anniversary Conference highlights

The image in the feature tile is of the CATSINaM logo created by Lesley Salem, a descendent of the Gringai-Wonnarua Nation in NSW, a Nurse Practitioner and member of CATSINaM. Image source: CATSINaM website.

CATSINaM 25th Anniversary Conference highlights

Yesterday, as part of its 25th Anniversary National Conference the Congress of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Nurses and Midwives (CATSINaM):

• celebrated the opening of its In Our Own Right: Black Australian Nurses and Midwives Stories Exhibition. The exhibition pays tribute to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander nursing and midwifery trailblazers and role models, showcasing individual and collective stories of educational achievement and of facing and overcoming challenges, like racism, in order to effect change within health services for the benefit of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. You can view CATSINaM’s media release relating to exhibition here.

• launched the highly anticipated report: ‘gettin em n keepin em n growin em’: Strategies for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander nursing and midwifery education reform (GENKE II). A formative work in CATSINaM’s 25 Years of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander nursing and midwifery activism was the original 2002 ‘getting em n keepin em’: Report of the Indigenous Nursing and Education Working Group (GENKE I) that aimed to address the detrimentally low numbers of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander nurses and midwives in the health workforce. Honoring and reviewing this work, this year CATSINaM developed GENKE II 2022 presenting renewed strategies to address the persistent. CATSINaM’s media release, about the GENKE II report is available here.

Today, for the first time in Australian history, a national nursing and midwifery leadership group will deliver an apology to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, for the hurt and harm caused by non-Indigenous nurses and midwives. Professor Karen Strickland, Chair of the Council of Deans of Nursing and Midwifery (CDNM), will deliver an apology on behalf of the CDNM and its members, to over 300 delegates attending the 2022 CATSINaM National Conference. The majority of delegates will be Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander practising or retired, and student nurses and midwives. CATSINaM’s media release relating to the apology is available here.

Photos from the CATSINaM 2022 National Conference. CATSINaM Tweet Friday 19 August 2022.

NACCHO CEO delivers keynote address

Earlier this morning NACCHO CEO and Lead Convener of the Coalition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peaks organisations, Pat Turner AM delivered a keynote address at the CATSINaM National Conference. In her address Ms Turner said she received a letter last week from the PM confirming his government’s commitment to the National Agreement on Closing the Gap. Although Ms Turner believes “there is no single strategy, idea, or group that will deliver the equity and change [Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people] are entitled to, the National Agreement on Closing the Gap is fundamental to driving reform in how Australian governments interact with all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.”

The National Agreement on Closing the Gap, Ms Turner said “is the first intergovernmental agreement designed to improve the lives of our people that has been negotiated and agreed with representatives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people across Australia. The National Agreement commits this country to a new direction and is a pledge from all governments to fundamentally change the way they work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and organisations.”

You can read Pat Turner’s keynote address in full on the NACCHO website here.

Pat Turner, 2022 CATSINaM National Conference. Image source: Lowitja Institute Tweet.

Reducing cervical cancer impacts

Aboriginal organisations across NSW will benefit from six new Cervical Screening Community Grants which will provide culturally responsive and targeted health promotion initiatives within Aboriginal communities. The locally-led programs are aimed at boosting the number of Aboriginal women across the state who access cervical screening, reducing the impact of cervical cancer.

Minister for Women, Regional Health and Mental Health, Bronnie Taylor said the grants are part of $114,350 in funding awarded to Local Health Districts and non-profit organisations through the Cancer Institute NSW to promote the National Cervical Screening Program. “Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women are almost four-times more likely to die from cervical cancer than non-Aboriginal women and these grants work towards closing the gap,” Mrs Taylor said. “Cervical cancer is one of the most preventable cancers and we know having a Cervical Screening Test every five years is now the best way to prevent it. By funding these grants, we are working to provide opportunities to educate local communities on the ground about the importance of cervical screening.”

To view the NSW Government media release Grants awarded to reduce the impact of cervical cancer in Aboriginal communities in full click here.

Yorta Yorta, Dja Dja Wurrung and Gamiloroi artist Madison Connors was commissioned by Cancer Council Victoria to create 12 unique art pieces to raise awareness about cervical screening to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. Image source: Cancer Council VIC website.

Mental health support for flood victims

The Albanese Government is delivering $13.1 million in targeted mental health support for NSW communities impacted by the devastating recent floods. Disasters don’t just affect the economy – there are also severe environmental and social impacts, including impacts on the wellbeing and mental health of individuals and communities – manifesting in increased rates of anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder and domestic and family violence. The compounding effect of multiple floods in these communities will have a lasting impact, so improving the availability and accessibility of support is critical during this stage of recovery.

This funding will ensure those most impacted by the floods can receive the support they need to recover. First Nations communities most impacted by the floods will be supported by $3 million to NACCHO to distribute across impacted community controlled organisations to provide much needed trauma counselling, healing and support for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

To view the Minister for Health and Aged Care, the Hon Mark Butler MP’s media release Mental health support for NSW floods in full click here.

AIHW releases health check data

Through Medicare, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people can receive Indigenous‑‍specific health checks from their doctor, as well as referrals for Indigenous‑‍specific follow‑‍up services. According to an Australian Institute of Health and Welfare report released this week:

  • In 2020–‍21, 237,000 Indigenous Australians had one of these health checks (27% of the projected population).
  • The proportion of Indigenous health check patients who had an Indigenous‑‍specific follow‑‍up service within 12 months of their check increased from 12% to 47% between 2010–‍11 and 2019–‍20.

The report presents data on Indigenous‑‍specific health checks and follow‑‍up services for a time period up until the end of June 2021 (i.e. overlapping with the COVID‑19 period). It also includes data on telehealth MBS items that were introduced in 2020 as part of the response to COVID‑‍19.

To view the AIHW web report Indigenous health checks and follow-ups in full click here.

Image source: Galambia Aboriginal Health Services website.

Bowel screening webinar series

Cancer Council, in partnership with the Australian Government, recently launched a national campaign to encourage people to Get2it and participate in the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program (NBCSP). As a part of this, content and resources have been developed specifically for GPs and other primary care health professionals to continue to encourage their patients to take part in bowel cancer screening. This includes a free three-part webinar series titled ‘Getting to the bottom of bowel screening’ for GPs, nurses, and other health professionals. This educational series will be presented by an array of experts from across Australia talking to key topics in the bowel screening space, providing valuable insights to GPs and health professionals to help drive participation in screening.

You can register for each webinar via the below links, or sign up to receive the recording if you are unable to make the 8–9 PM (AEST) webinars on the night.

• Improving NBCSP participation – understanding our audience – Tuesday 23 August, register here

• Bowel cancer screening – from the GP perspectiveWednesday 31 August, register here

• Getting to the bottom of colonoscopy use in bowel screening Wednesday 31 August, register here

You can access a range of GP and health professional specific resources, videos (such as the one below), newsletter and social media content, key messages and calls to action by visiting the Cancer Council Campaign Hub here.

Video consults find niche in mental health

Mental health consults are the top reason for clinicians to use video-based telehealth services, according to the national virtual public health information service. It’s been just over a month since the Department of Health ditched a swathe of MBS phone items, a move which many GPs were concerned would ultimately harm vulnerable mental health patients the most.

While phone consults were wholeheartedly embraced from the beginning of the pandemic, video telehealth uptake has lagged. From the beginning of the pandemic through to April 2022, phone consults have accounted for 96% of all GP telehealth consults.

Despite this general avoidance, there is at least one area where video telehealth is being embraced: mental health. One in every five video consults made using the Healthdirect video call program – which is currently free for general practices and ACCHOs to integrate into their services – is a mental health consult.

To read the Wild Health article Video consults find niche in mental health by Holly Payne in full click here.

Some studies have found that video mental-health therapy can be as effective as in-person treatment. Photo: Getty Images. Image source: The Wall Street Journal.

New process for job advertising

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Including and sharing with mob essential

The image in the feature tile is of NACCHO CEO and Lead Convener Coalition of Peaks Pat Turner AM. Image source: Congress of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Nurses and Midwives (CATSINaM) Facebook page, 1 April 2021.

Including and sharing with mob essential

Earlier this week NACCHO CEO and Lead Convener Coalition of Peaks Pat Turner AM delivered a keynote address – Including and Sharing with Us: The only way forward – at the Voices for the Bush Conference 2022. Ms Turner shared some reflections on key policy opportunities and ideas about ways of working together for the advancement of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, saying “As specified in the National Agreement on Closing the Gap, responsible decisions at every level must be made in partnership. At this conference, I encourage you to glean best practice and commit to change. Expand your discussions with a positive acknowledgement of community control, and the rights we have as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to shape our own destiny, to partner with you as equals in innovation, technology and service delivery.”

“In the twenty-first century, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are not asking for anything more than what mainstream Australians already take for granted. We seek re-entry into knowledge from which we have been structurally excluded. We deserve to make decisions in partnership about policies and programs directly affecting us. We don’t need rescuing. We don’t need another thought bubble dreamt up by people who don’t know us and who don’t partner with us.”

“We WILL get better health by improving housing, water quality, water quantity and environmental health programs. BUT these improvements require a significant shift in how decisions are made, how policies are funded and how programs are designed. Australia’s Gross Domestic Product puts us in the top 10% of all the world’s countries. We have the economic and financial resources to do this. We can close this gap.”

You can read Pat Turner’s keynote address Including and Sharing with Us: The only way forward in full here.

Image source: Australian Communications Consumer Action Network website.

Systemic racism in prisoner healthcare

The death of a 19-year-old Aboriginal man in a West Kimberley prison has been labelled “preventable” by the West Australian Coroner. Miriuwung and Gajerrong man Mr Yeeda died from a heart attack at Derby Regional Prison on 3 May 3 2018. Mr Yeeda had rheumatic heart disease (RHD) and was overdue to see a cardiologist for assessment prior to his sentence beginning in 2017. However, the referral from the Prison Medical Officer didn’t progress to an appointment. If Mr Yeeda had seen a cardiologist, it’s believed he would have received urgent cardiac surgery to replace his aortic valve, a surgery the coroner found could have been lifesaving.

The Principal Solicitor and Director of the National Justice Project George Newhouse, who is representing the family of Mr Yeeda, said the coroner had failed to address the contribution of systemic racism in his death. “The coroner has failed to address the systemic racism in WA’s justice and healthcare systems which led to Mr Yeeda’s death,” he said. “Unless culturally-appropriate healthcare delivered by Aboriginal medical services is provided to prisoners, we will see more needless deaths like that of Mr Yeeda.”

To read the SBS NITV article WA Coroner finds Mr Yeeda’s death in custody ‘preventable’ in full click here.

Miriuwung and Gajerrong man, Mr Yeeda. (Photo approved and supplied by Mr Yeeda’s family.)
Image source: SBS NITV website.

Mob with disability face racial-ableism

In an article published in The Conversation earlier this week, John Gilroy, an ARC Research Fellow in Indigenous Health, Disability and Community Development at the University of Sydney said, “the Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability has not properly focused on the ideological foundations of the NDIS for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in remote communities. Instead, government has been heavily focused on actuarial studies of the “market” to ascertain where disability service gaps exist in these regions.”

“The NDIS [National Disability Insurance Scheme] is a model that attempts to blend the “for profit” values of the business sector with the “not for profit” values of the charity sector. Business profits are only achieved where there exists a “supply” and “demand”. Reports have repeatedly shown the NDIS has not yet fairly benefited Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in remote, rural, and regional communities because the absence of local services. This is because there is no “business market” compared to the metropolitan regions and can be seen in provider shrinkage in areas such as East Arnhem land. This is geographic discrimination and racial-ablism.”

“All of the money spent on the Royal Commission should have been spent on grounded community initiatives under the NDIS in regional, rural, and remote communities. These could have included advocacy programs, secondary and tertiary education programs, long-term government service funding agreements, training of NDIA and allied health staff, Aboriginal employment in the NDIA, and Aboriginal-owned and operated disability support programs. It is not time for another inquiry and another report. It’s time for action.”

To view The Conversation article Indigenous people with disabilities face racism and ableism. What’s needed is action not another report (which includes the video below) in full click here.

Palliative care kits for on Country care

Culturally-appropriate palliative care kits will be rolled out across Australia to help Indigenous families care for their dying loved ones on Country. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people from remote, rural and urban areas will be more able to die at home while maintaining a connection to their community. “First Nations people’s culture involves complex social structures with strong links to their homeland,” Professor Liz Reymond, director of Caring@home, said yesterday.

“Most Indigenous Australians tell us they would prefer to finish up on Country in their local culture with those they love. This kit will help them realise this outcome with more access to symptom control.” Reymond said it would also allow dying people to be with their mourning families during end-of-life care, instead of in a hospital, often 100s of kms away.  The Palliative Care Clinic Box contains information packs for medical professionals, and a training video to teach carers how to safely give pain relief medicines.

To read the Aged Care News article Indigenous palliative care kits to be distributed for on Country care in full click here.

Image source: Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet.

Increased stroke awareness needed

The Stroke Foundation is calling for increased stroke awareness in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities to bridge the divide in health outcomes between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians. As part of National Stroke Week (8–14 August 2022), Stroke Foundation is highlighting the inequities experienced by Indigenous peoples who are impacted by stroke. Stroke Foundation CEO Sharon McGowan said Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are twice as likely to be hospitalised from stroke and 1.3 times more likely to die.

“The statistics are quite shocking when it comes to stroke in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, and that’s why we need to share them in order to make a change,” Ms McGowan said. “Stroke is the sixth leading cause of death in Indigenous Australia, and the burden of disease for stroke is 2.3 times as high for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. One-third to a half of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in their 40s, 50s and 60s are at high risk of stroke, that’s despite 80% of strokes being preventable through managing your blood pressure and adopting a healthy lifestyle.”

To view The National Tribune article Shining spotlight on Indigenous Australians health outcomes during National Stroke Week click here. You can also access the Stroke Foundation’s Our Stroke Journey – Helping our mob after stroke booklet here.

Raise the Age petition – add your voice

Across Australia, children as young as 10 can be arrested by police, charged with an offence, brought before a court and locked away in a prison. Every day a child spends in prison can cause lifelong harm to that child’s health, growth and development. First Nations children are even more at risk.

Children belong in schools, playgrounds and with their families, not behind bars.

The Royal Australian College of Physicians (RACP) is a member of the Raise the Age alliance. Alongside 120 other member organisations, they support raising the minimum of age of criminal responsibility to at least 14 years.

It’s been two years since the launch of a national campaign to raise the age and calls on state and territory leaders to act continue. Make a difference and sign the Raise The Age petition here.

Enhancing digital health tools for NT mob

A new project led by NT Health and the ​Menzies School of Health Research aims to develop virtual care models that meet the specific needs of Indigenous communities in the NT. The three-year project under the Digital Health Cooperative Research Centre (DHCRC) will evaluate how existing and emerging technologies could be best deployed in remote Indigenous communities.

It will identify the preferences of consumers and healthcare providers regarding virtual care, as well as address the lack of knowledge in deploying digital tools. “Recommendations will be based on needs and preferences identified by both consumers and health professionals, with a particular focus on integrating multiple professional groups working in remote [primary healthcare service],” explained Menzies professor John Wakerman.

To read the Healthcare IT News article Northern Territory project to enhance digital health tools deployment in indigenous communities in full click here.

An example of a digital health tool is iBobbly, a social and emotional wellbeing self-help app for young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people 15 years and over. Image source: Black Dog Institute website.

New process for job advertising

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: More community control needed

Image in the feature tile is from the ACT Government 2022–23 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Budget Statement. The ‘Walk through Wiradjuri country’ painting was completed by two Wiradjuri men, Tony “TK” Levett and Trevor Ryan.

More community control needed

The ACT Council of Social Service’s Gulanga Program says the recent 2022–23 ACT Budget, which featured an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Budget Statement, responded to some of the calls from the ACT’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, but much more is needed to be done to improve outcomes for First Nations peoples in the ACT. Head of the Gulanga Program, Ms Rachelle Kelly-Church said: “While welcomed, these announcements follow a long period of inaction in implementing recommendations under the Our Booris Our Way and We Don’t Shoot Our Wounded Reports.

“We also need to see significant increases in investment to establish and expand Aboriginal community-controlled organisations (ACCOs). We need to ensure there is a better distribution of funds so that new initiatives targeting our communities are delivered through Aboriginal community-controlled organisations – not just through ACT Government services. Time after time, experience shows that Aboriginal community-controlled organisations are best placed to support our community and achieve the improved outcomes that we are all desperate for.

“We also need investment to ensure that the services provided to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are culturally safe and respectful. The announcement of $12m for the implementation of Corrections ACT’s Blueprint for Change must include the delivery of mandatory Aboriginal cultural competence training for staff involved in our justice system so that we can challenge ongoing systemic discrimination and racism.”

To read the ACTCOSS media release Gulanga Media Release: ACT Budget – more community control needed in full click here.

Mobile healthcare to remote NSW

A retrofitted motorhome will be used to bring medical care to remote NSW communities to help minimise the spread of COVID-19. Aboriginal Health and Medical Research Council (AH&MRC) revealed it had purchased the vehicle through a BHP donation to provide medical care outside of traditional clinical spaces. It will allow ACCHOs to hold mobile vaccination clinics in communities, negating the need for people to travel to get vaccines.

AHMRC chief executive Robert Skeen said the service’s response team had been integral to the vaccine rollout. “With the help of the valuable partnership of BHP we’re able to provide care to all our mob in every community across the state,” he said. The motorhome will initially be used in the Northern Rivers region where flooding has impacted community clinics.

To view the National Indigenous Times article Aboriginal medical group prepares new motorhome for flood-hit NSW healthcare roadtrip in full click here. You can also find more details about the motorhome on the AH&MRC website here.

Image source: AH&MRC website.

Clinic doubles usual 715 health checks

A clinic in WA more than doubled its usual number of health checks for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients after introducing free walk-in assessments during NAIDOC week. Lockridge Medical Centre in Perth offered free MBS 715 Indigenous Health Checks to any Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients who came along during the week. “The health assessments were a great opportunity to offer support for preventive healthcare,” Dr Kayla MacKinnon, a GP at the clinic said.

The clinic doctors were given additional spaces to meet demand and accommodate walk-ins and all nurses agreed to work additional shifts for the week.  All doctors were rostered for one session per week, thereby sharing the experience. Dr Shashi Ponraja, also a GP at the clinic, said it was ‘an excellent opportunity for outreach’ and ‘patients seemed to really appreciate the flexibility in the appointment setup’.

When reflecting on the success of their NAIDOC week experience and increased health assessments, Director Mrs Watts said that “success is measured in many ways, such as the centre’s agreement to undertake Aboriginal Health Workers through Marr Mooditj Training, with the hope of employing an Aboriginal Health Worker as a result and the networking, the collaboration and the improvement in preparing the practice to be a culturally safe healthcare home for the local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community.”

To view the RACGP newsGP article NAIDOC week leads to more health assessments in full click here.

Boxing champion fights for mental health

Newly-crowned Australian masters boxing champion Darcy Brown knows whatever faces him in the ring, the larger fight on his hands is breaking down stigmas mental health, ADHD and autism. The 51-year-old Wiradjuri man won the national 75.1-80kg class in the 50-55 age bracket in July. Fighting under the name Buddy Oldman, Brown took to the sport fewer than two years ago to get back into physical shape before realising the bigger battle was fought upstairs.

Sexually abused as a child and later suffering from PTSD and depression through adulthood, Mr Brown shied away from boxing earlier in life. It was labelled a mug’s game by his late late father, who himself had been an exhibition tent-fighter in his youth. Brown’s dramatic rise from novice to national champ is spurred on partly by his own struggles, but even more so by the opportunity he hopes it brings to the lives of others.

Now living in Albury, he and his wife have fostered Aboriginal kids for 20 years and are currently the guardian to a neurodivergent child. Working in special needs and with an autistic son and grandson, Brown said representation through sport could have wide-reaching advantages. He fights to raise awareness for these conditions and for those diagnosed to be treated equally in all area’s of life. His message has stretched to include the Aboriginal health in general, and at times the LGBTQ+ community. “I’ve just taken it upon myself to make it happen,” Brown said.

To view the National Indigenous Times article Boxing novice-turned national champion Buddy Oldman fights for mental health with every venture into the ring in full click here.

Newly-crowned Australian masters boxing champion Darcy Brown. Image source: National Indigenous Times.

Telehealth provides care closer to home

A boy who accidentally slashed his throat when he rode his motorbike into a fence, a burns victim, and an elderly Indigenous woman who wanted to die on country – all are among rural patients successfully treated by telehealth, a conference has heard. The trio were seen by specialists through the WA Country Health Service Command Centre, which provides telehealth via video conferencing to help frontline doctors treat patients at rural hospitals. The centre is part of the world’s biggest rural service in geographical terms, covering more than 2.5 million square kms from Kalumburu in the Kimberley to Albany in the south.

Speaking at the National Rural Health Conference in Brisbane, the command centre’s managing director, Justin Yeung, said it aims to provide “care closer to home” for people in rural and remote areas across the vast state. “We see the whole gamut,” Dr Yeung told the conference, which is focusing on collaboration and innovation in rural health. The centre runs emergency care, inpatient treatment to reduce the number of patients who need to be transferred to bigger hospitals, maternity care, psychiatry and palliative care. Dr Yeung said telehealth is not a replacement for face-to-face care, but supplements traditional treatment.

To read The West Australian article Burns and injuries treated via video in WA in full click here.

Image source: The Medical Journal of Australia.

Diabetes youth webinar series

Menzies Diabetes Across the Lifecourse Northern Australia Partnership aims to improve the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people by targeting the intergenerational cycle of type 2 diabetes and is hosting a 10-part webinar series to give a comprehensive overview of youth type 2 diabetes, screening, management, multidisciplinary care, models of care and preventative strategies. The discussions will be co-led by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health professionals and community members in partnership with clinicians and researchers. Delivered fortnightly starting on Thursday 4 August from 12:45–1:45 PM. Those who cannot attend the live sessions but would still like to view the sessions can sign up to be sent a recording of the presentation.

You can view a flyer about tomorrow’s webinar here. Please register for the first event by following this link. Registered participants will be sent a calendar invite and a zoom link for the live presentation and a link to the recorded presentations for later viewing. Subsequent events will be communicated thereafter.

HealthInfoNet user survey and prize draw

Australian Indigenous HealthINfoNet is conducting an online survey designed to gather feedback from users of the Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet (HealthInfoNet) as part of its continual improvement.

The survey will take about 5-10 minutes to complete.

Survey responses will remain anonymous. Choosing to answer the survey questions indicates your informed consent to participate. You can stop the survey at any time by closing the computer window in which the survey appears.

At the end of the survey, you have the option to submit an entry for a prize draw for a $350 Coles Group & Myer gift voucher. The winner’s name will be drawn at random and they will be contacted by phone or email after the survey closes. Your contact details will not be linked to your survey responses. Survey respondents who enter the prize draw within its first week will automatically be entered twice.

The survey is open now until 11.59pm (AWST) Sunday 21 August 2022.

You to complete the 2022 Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet User Survey by clicking here.

New process for job advertising

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: NT COVID-19 cases on the rise

Image in the feature tile is from the ABC News website.

NT COVID-19 cases on the rise

NT health experts say they are “alarmed” about a recent spike in COVID-19 cases, saying the territory’s infection rate is growing at a higher rate per capita than the national average. Their warning comes as coronavirus cases rise across the country, marking the start of what Australia’s Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly has described as the start of a new Omicron wave. Professor Kelly said the BA.4 and BA.5 sub-variants of the COVID-19 Omicron strain were highly infectious, and that cases were expected to surge in coming weeks.

Data shows that surge may have already started in the NT, which recorded 671 cases on Tuesday — the highest daily caseload since February and a dramatic jump from 469 cases on Monday. That’s higher percentage per capita than the national average, according to John Paterson, CEO of the Aboriginal Medical Services Alliances of the Northern Territory (AMSANT). “[The figures] make us 22 per cent above the national per capita average on a seven-day rolling average, which is alarming and concerning for our members,” he said. “So, we’ve got to seriously consider perhaps some mandatory public health measures, especially for our most at-risk population and our community members. This is alarming for us.”

To view the view the ABC News article COVID-19 cases are rising in the Northern Territory as Australia approaches a new Omicron wave in full click here.

Territorians are being encouraged to wear face masks to combat the virus’s spread. Photo: Che Chorley, ABC News.

Telehealth cuts leave remote patients behind

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) has once again urged the federal government to make Medicare rebates for longer telehealth phone consultations a permanent fixture of the nation’s telehealth scheme so that patients living outside of major cities can get the care they need when they need it. It comes following reports of a study, which found that 40% of people living in rural and remote areas had internet speeds that were less than 28 kilobits per second. This makes conducting telehealth video consultations challenging, if not impossible, given that the minimum recommended speed for video calls is 600 kilobits per second. In addition, other people are not confident using the technology or find the cost of purchasing a smartphone or laptop prohibitive.

RACGP Vice President Dr Bruce Willett  said “Removing Medicare rebates for longer consults is not only particularly detrimental for patients in the bush but also older patients across Australia, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and those with disability or limited mobility. This is troubling as these patient cohorts already have poorer health outcomes than the general population. We are effectively denying healthcare access to those who need it most.”

To view the view the RACGP media release Rural and remote patients left behind by telehealth cuts in full click here. The AMA has also raised concerns in a media release, available here, that the dropping of a number of telephone Medicare items by the Government on 1 July has left vulnerable people at risk.

Image source: Hospital + Healthcare.

Grants to improve cancer outcomes

Assistant Minister for Indigenous Health Senator Malarndirri McCarthy today announced that nine grants totalling over $1 million have been awarded to improve cancer outcomes, including three aimed at reducing the impacts of cancer on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Senator McCarthy said that Cancer Australia’s Supporting people with cancer grants will fund locally-based programs to make a much needed difference in regional and remote Indigenous Australian communities. “These grants are a step in the right direction to improve wellbeing, provide support and increase equitable cancer outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.”

To view Assistant Minister for Indigenous Health Senator Malarndirri McCarthy’s media release New opportunities to improve Indigenous cancer outcomes click here.

Cancer Council SA’s Yarning Circles provide a way to comfortably connect with the community and break down any barriers or fears that may exist with regards to cancer. Image source: Cancer Council SA website.

Remote areas lack quality drinking water

Australians in more than 400 remote or regional communities lack access to good-quality drinking water, while about 8% of Australia’s population is not included in reporting on access to clean water, according to researchers at The Australian National University (ANU). The researchers reviewed public reporting by 177 water utilities to measure gaps in drinking water quality in regional and remote Australia.

They assessed water quality performance against the Australian Drinking Water Guidelines (ADWG), which provide guidance to water regulators and suppliers on monitoring and managing drinking water quality. The researchers found at least 25,245 people across 99 locations with populations of fewer than 1,000 people had accessed water services that did not comply with the health-based guideline values at least once in 2018–19.

They also identified 408 regional and remote locations with a combined population of 627,736 people that failed to measure up to either health-based guidelines or the ADWG’s aesthetic determinants of good water quality across taste, colour and odour. Furthermore, 40% of all locations with reported health-based non-compliances were remote Indigenous communities. Lead author of a peer-reviewed paper published in Nature Partner Journal Clean Water, Dr Paul Wyrwoll said their research also shows Australia’s national reporting of drinking water quality is not fit-for-purpose.

To view the ANU media release Aussies living remotely lack access to quality drinking water in full click here. You can also access a related Nature article Measuring the gaps in drinking water quality and policy across regional and remote Australia here.

Beswick’s water is very high in calcium. Photo: Isaac Nowroozi, ABC News.

Cervical cancer self-screening resources

The Australian Government Department of Health and Aged Care have produced a range of National Cervical Screening Program (NCSP) resources, including videos (such as the one below), posters, brochures and fact sheets. The resources, available here include ones specifically tailored for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women:

  • a visual guide to help understand Cervical Screening Test results
  • an A3 poster to promote the National Cervical Screening Program
  • visual guide to help understand how to take a vaginal sample for a Cervical Screening Test
  • a video (below) explaining how to take a Cervical Screening Test sample if self-collection is chosen as a screening option for their Cervical Screening Test.

PrioritEYES survey participants thanked

This year in JulEye, NACCHO wants to give a shout out to all ACCHOs that completed the PrioritEYES Survey open from 8 April to 20 May 2022. The information gathered will help us tackle gaps in eye care for our ACCHOs and their communities.

80% of all ACCHOs provided a response to the PrioritEYES survey – a huge achievement and information that will help us progress ACCHO eye care needs.

We learnt, 81% ACCHOs that responded are interested in greater ACCHO ownership and leadership in eye care. We are excited to work towards this as ACCHOs are best placed to support eye and vision care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

ACCHOs will hear from us soon about the findings from the survey and what’s next.

JulEye is also a good reminder to get your eyes tested, wear eye protection, and eat well to maintain healthy eyesight.

Puggy Hunter Memorial Scholarship Scheme

The Puggy Hunter Memorial Scholarship Scheme (PHMSS) is designed to encourage and assist undergraduate students in health-related disciplines to complete their studies and join the health workforce. The scheme provides scholarships for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people studying an entry level health course.

The Australian Government established the Scheme as a tribute to the late Dr Arnold ‘Puggy’ Hunter’s outstanding contribution to First Nations Australians’ health and his role and Chair of the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO). A NACCHO News special tribute edition available here provides an insight to Puggy and his tireless efforts to improve Aboriginal health.

PHMSS will open for applications on Monday 29 August 2022 for studies undertaken in 2023, closing Monday 10 October 2022. Online applications will be available from this website once the scheme opens.

If you would like to be sent the link to the application once the scheme opens, please register for application updates, click here.

PHMSS Deadly Health Professions recipient Shaydeen Stocker (pictured above with her husband and three children) has started her RN Grad program at SJOG in Midland. Image source: Australian College of Nursing First Nations health scholarships webpage.

New process for job advertising

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Life tougher under NDIS

Image in feature tile is from Croakey Health Media article NDIS must promote and support community-based programs to meet Indigenous people’s needs,15 March 2017. Photo: John Gilroy.

Life tougher under NDIS

The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) has failed in remote Indigenous communities across northern Australia, the Disability Royal Commission has been told. The market-based model relies on funding for disabled people’s care driving the growth of service provision, NT Public Guardian Beth Walker told the disability inquiry earlier this week.

“The market has not responded and so people’s needs are not being fully met because of the lack of availability of services,” she said at the hearing in Alice Springs on Tuesday. “It is difficult for service providers given remote distances and there is market failure.” Ms Walker said the choice between providers that delivered basic services in remote and very remote communities was marginal or non-existent. Communicating with the scheme was also difficult. “The scheme is very transactional and very bureaucratic and can be very difficult to navigate,” she said.

To view the Roberon Review article NDIS failed in remote areas, inquiry told in full click here.

You can also watch a short ABC video Disability Royal Commission investigating issues face by First Nations people here.

Image source: ABC News.

NACCHO conference early bird rates close tomorrow!

REGISTER NOW for the NACCHO Members’ Conference

Early bird rates closing tomorrow!

Register for the NACCHO Members’ Conference before midnight tomorrow and receive our early bird rate saving you $100 when selecting the 2-day package.

Join us at the Convention Centre in Canberra for:

  • NACCHO Youth Conference: 17 October 2022
  • NACCHO Annual General Meeting: 18 October 2022
  • NACCHO Members’ Conference: 19-20 October 2022

Early bird rates close midnight Friday 15 July 2022. To REGISTER click here.

Aboriginal interpreters a valuable tool

In 2010 the Equal Opportunity Commission released its Indigenous Interpreting Services Is there a need? report which included accounts from health workers who stated the need for Aboriginal interpreters was ‘overwhelming’ with Aboriginal post-surgery patients not aware of the nature of the surgical procedure they had undergone.

The Commission made recommendations in the report based on the NT’s Aboriginal Interpreting Service model and funding and in 2017 what was once the Kimberley Interpreting Service expanded to become Aboriginal Interpreting WA (AIWA). Today it has registered and trained interpreters across the state in over 40 WA Aboriginal languages who work in health, justice, governance, native title, social work, community affairs, business, mining, education and tourism.

But are they being used? CEO of AIWA Deanne Lightfoot said there had been a steady increase around the use of Aboriginal language interpreters as part of the State Government’s obligations under its language services policy. “There has been a steady increase in engagement with our services and certainly Covid spiked awareness of the need accurate interpretation,” she said.

From the Commissioner – The importance of interpreters must not be underestimated in full click here.

Shekiera Mununggur says learning medical terms in Yolngu Matha has been the hardest aspect of her interpreter job. Photo: NT Government. Image source: ABC News.

Telehealth cuts leave regional areas behind

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) has once again urged the federal Government to make Medicare rebates for longer telehealth phone consultations a permanent fixture of the nation’s telehealth scheme so that patients living outside of major cities can get the care they need when they need it.

It comes following reports of a study released by technology company Phillips, which found that 40% of people living in rural and remote areas had internet speeds that were less than 28 kilobits per second. This makes conducting telehealth video consultations challenging, if not impossible, given that the minimum recommended speed for video calls is 600 kilobits per second. In addition, other people are not confident using the technology or find the cost of purchasing a smart phone or laptop prohibitive.

To view the RACGP media release Rural and remote patients left behind by telehealth cuts full click here.

Image source: St John of God Midland Public Hospital telehealth webpage.

Innovative culturally safe patient care project

Princess Alexandra Hospital (PAH) graduate nurse, Tammy Quinn has developed an innovation project titled ‘Providing culturally safe care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients’ which not only stole the show at the 2021 graduate nurse ceremony, but is being introduced into wards across PAH as a tool for patient safety.

Tammy said her inspiration for developing the project was prompted by a desire to make sure her family, and therefore her people, were looked after appropriately and safely. “Research in my own ward of 4E indicated that 50% of staff either weren’t confident or comfortable providing care that they could confirm was culturally safe,” Tammy said.

Tammy’s in-service for the team about the cultural nuances of communicating with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients soon led to the development of a video education package which is hosted online and used as an orientation program for nurses on a growing number of wards across the hospital. “Health literacy within many multicultural groups, and particularly Indigenous people, is low so making sure they understand what they have been told is an essential step.”

To read the Queensland Government Metro South Health article Providing culturally safe care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients in full click here.

Image source: Central Adelaide Local Health Network website.

Rush to suppress WA syphilis outbreak

Health authorities say they have ramped up their work to control a syphilis outbreak that started in northern Australia after reports the infection is creeping towards metropolitan Perth. A bacterial infection spread by sexual contact, syphilis cases were first reported in the Kimberley region in 2014. While case numbers steadily rose around northern Australia in the years following, health services say the focus on COVID-19 messaging and health promotion has overtaken concerns around the infection.

But figures revealing a serious upward trend between 2020 and 2021 and a jump in cases recorded year-to-date have prompted services to renew their health messaging around the infection. As syphilis cases continue to surge in Western Australia contact tracers say they are overwhelmed especially in remote areas with high Indigenous populations.

The Kimberley has already recorded 54 cases so far this year, followed by the Pilbara with 46, and rising numbers have also been recorded in the Goldfields and in the Mid West. Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Service (KAMS) medical director Lorraine Anderson said it was time to renew their focus. “It’s getting worse because we have spent all of our time and energy on COVID-19,” Dr Anderson said.

To read the ABC News article Health authorities push to suppress WA syphilis outbreak as disease heads south in full click here.

A related InSight article Syphilis on the rise: dial up screening and “test it away” available here says between COVID-19, influenza and respiratory syncytial virus, GPs now have to keep a weather eye on their at-risk patients as syphilis numbers continue to rise in vulnerable communities, leading to calls for increased screening in those groups.

According to the National Communicable Disease Surveillance Report for 30 May to 12 June 2022, there is an “ongoing outbreak” occurring in men who have sex with men (MSM), predominantly 20–39 years of age, in urban areas, in women aged 20–39 years (both Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and non-Indigenous) in urban areas, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in northern and central Australia. “This is a very significant rise. Syphilis is a serious infection and we need to take it very seriously,” said Professor Christopher Fairley, Director of the Melbourne Sexual Health Centre and Professor of Public Health at Monash University.

You can also access the Australian Government Department of Health and Aged Care webpage National strategies for bloodborne viruses and sexually transmissible infections here.

Dr Lorraine Anderson says they are getting back on track in terms of testing and treating syphilis. Photo: Erin Parke, ABC Kimberley.

New national anti-racism campaign

A new national anti-racism campaign is calling on Australians who do not have lived experience of racism to reflect on its causes and impacts and do more to address it. The multiplatform ad campaign will build awareness of how racism operates at both a structural and interpersonal level and give people tools to recognise and address it.

It will feature well known ambassadors who appear in a community service announcement where a group of Australians talk about their own experiences of racism and inequality. Race Discrimination Commissioner Chin Tan said the campaign, which modernises the Racism. It Stops With Me initiative that launched in 2012, responds to recent events and will address major challenges to realising racial equity in Australia.

To view the Australian Human Rights Commission media release National Campaign Urges Australians to Reflect and Act on Racism click here.

New process for job advertising

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Reflecting on moments mob stood up

The image is the feature tile is of an Invasion Day rally in Sydney on 26 January 2018. Image source: Illawarra Mercury.

Reflecting on moments mob stood up

Alexis Moran has written an article for NITV reflecting on this year’s NAIDOC theme — Get Up, Stand Up, Show Up — reflection on some significant moments where Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have shifted history by fighting for their community. Ms Moran says “Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people always stand up. It’s nothing new to our communities. Since colonisation, Indigenous people have fought against oppression. And that continues every day — whether it be on January 26, to march against deaths in custody and other wrongdoing, or just to speak up for what we believe in and what’s right. It’s because of this activism — getting up, standing up and showing up — that history can and has been changed.”

Ms Moran goes on to discuss specifically the frontier wars; land rights: Mabo and Wik vs. Queensland; deaths in custody; sports; establishing essential First Nations services; the Aboriginal Tent Embassy and the Koori Mail during the NSW floods.

To read the SBS NITV article 7 historical moments where mob Got up, Stood up and Showed up click here. You can also watch LaVerne Bellear, CEO AMSC Redfern in the video below as she explains the story behind the Aboriginal Medical Service (AMS) established in 1971, Australia’s first ACCHO.

Register for CTG scripts BEFORE 1 July

As of 1 July 2022, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people must be registered correctly with Services Australia Health Professional Online Services (HPOS) to continue to claim benefits for their medicine scripts, through the Closing the Gap (CTG) Pharmacy Benefits Scheme (PBS) program.

Unfortunately, not all patients who previously received CTG prescriptions were transferred to the new database, resulting in some people paying more for their medicines.

Check with your local doctor or health service today, to help register you as soon as possible to avoid paying full price for medicines from 1 July.

Dr Dawn Casey, Deputy CEO NACCHO said, “We welcome the reforms to the CTG PBS database but are concerned not all eligible patients have been correctly registered. Potentially thousands of patients may have to pay more for medicines on 1st of July, so please check your registration with your pharmacy and doctor now.”

For further information about the CTG PBS program click here.

The Department of Health reminder letter regarding the CTG PBS program can be found here.

You can download a poster here to put up at your service as well as images for Facebook/Twitter here and Instagram here.

We urge you to please do share this across all your networks.

NACCHO Medicines Team

Intergenerational toll of nuclear tests

Three generations of First Nations survivors of historic nuclear tests have told the United Nations (UN) that Australia must do more to address the devastating impact the tests have had on their families. The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) invited survivors to address a conference in Vienna, more than 60 years after nuclear bombs were detonated in the SA outback.

Yankunytjatjara woman Karina Lester, Kokatha elder Sue Coleman-Haseldine and her granddaughter, Mia Haseldine, shared their experiences via video link from Port Augusta. The women told the conference how the tests conducted by the British government at Maralinga and Emu Field in the 1950s had affected the health of successive generations of Aboriginal families from the region. They called on the Australian government to sign the UNTreaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, which came into force in January last year.

To read the ABC News article Nuclear test survivors’ plea for Australia to sign treaty, as they speak at UN meeting in full click here.

Submissions to the UN from Port Augusta were part of the first meeting of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. Photo: Bethanie Alderson, ABC North & West SA.

AMA calls for telehealth extension

The AMA today called on the federal government to extend patient access to Medicare funded COVID-19 telehealth services beyond June 30 2022 Under a decision taken by the former Government, from 1 July access to both GP and non-GP specialist telehealth services will be cut back, particularly telephone consultations.

AMA President Dr Omar Khorshid said patients cannot afford to lose access to COVID-19 telehealth as it will make access to medical care more difficult, particularly for vulnerable populations and those who might not have the access or skills to use other IT platforms. “Broad access to Medicare funded telehealth services has been a key part of our pandemic response by reducing patients’ exposure to the virus and helping people in self-isolation to access critical medical care,” Dr Khorshid said. Dr Khorshid said governments needed to be responsive to the ongoing situation and adapt as circumstances change.

To view the AMA’s media release AMA calls for telehealth funding extension as COVID-19 pandemic continues in full click here. You can watch an Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine (ACRRM) video of a telehealth consultation below.

Minds need decluttering too

Accredited mental health social worker Kym Marsden’s article Decluttering isn’t just a house job, our minds need it too was recently published in the National Indigenous Times. Ms Marsden asks readers to “Picture a cluttered area in your home, now think about how all that clutter makes you feel as it grows, you start tripping over things and are unable to locate things you need. She admits to initially trying to ignore it, which is a short term solution, but as the clutter remains, or continues to grow so does the ability to ignore it.

Ms Marsden says the same applies when our minds are overloaded resulting in persistent overwhelming thoughts, regrets, worries or concerns. While we will all respond differently when our cluttered minds have reached capacity, for Ms Marsden it is disturbed sleep, feeling anxious and being unable to concentrate as she is fixated on certain thoughts and worries that are like a whirlwind in head head that won’t shut off, particularly at night.

To read the article in full, including strategies to help declutter your mind, click here.

Image source: iStock by Getty Images.

Preventing falls at any age

Falls are common. Each year 2 in 3 people aged over 65 will fall. Around 1 in 10 falls lead to serious injury. The most common serious injuries are fractures and brain injuries. Falls can also result in a loss of confidence, which can lead to restriction of activity and a lower quality of life. Many older people never regain their pre-fall level of function and might even struggle to keep living by themselves.

The consequences of falls cost Australia a staggering $4.3 billion every year. The good news is 20–30% of fall among older Australians can be prevented.

To view The Conversation article I’m getting older, how can I prevent falls? in full click here.

According to recently published Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) data falls are one of the leading causes of hospitalisations for older Aboriginal people In 2019–20, among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people there were 7,000 hospitalisations and 45 deaths due to unintentional fall with rates of fall hospitalisations being highest among people aged 65 and over. During that period Indigenous Australians were 1.4 times as likely as non-Indigenous Australians to be hospitalised due to a fall injury. For the majority of causes, the most remote areas had the highest rates and the least remote areas had the lowest rates.

It has been proven that once someone has suffered a fall, they are at a higher risk of another injury. A free, culturally safe, falls prevention program, IRONBARK, run by South West Aboriginal Medical Service (SWAMS) and Curtin University has seen great success. Y ou can read more about the IRONBARK program here.

Image source: Health Times.

Noongar version of Baby Ways book

An award winning early years literacy program has been expanded to include the Noongar language, with the launch of the first dual language Baby Ways book. Maawit Mart/Baby Ways will be given to Aboriginal families living on Noongar land and aims to help narrow the gap between literacy rates for Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal children.

The Baby Ways book is an engaging and fun-to-read book that features WA babies sitting, bathing, reading and playing. It is included in the Better Beginnings pack that is presented to all new families in WA at birth as part of a wider program that encourages parents to read to their children.

To view The National Tribune article Noongar version of Better Beginnings Baby Ways book launched in full click here.

Image source: Better Beginnings Indigenous Program State Library of WA webpage.

New process for job advertising

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

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

World Continence Week

World Continence Week (WCW) is a health campaign run by the World Federation For Incontinence and Pelvic Problems (WFIPP) to raise awareness of incontinence related issues. This year it takes place from the Monday 20 to Sunday 26 June and during the week the WFIPP highlights the impact urinary incontinence can have on our life and encourages those living with it to seek help so they no longer have to suffer in silence.

For more information about WCW click here.

You can also access a range of resources developed specifically for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, by the Continence Foundation of Australia, here.

 

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Mob may miss crucial COVID-19 treatment

Mob may miss crucial COVID-19 treatment 

A health expert warns Indigenous people infected with COVID-19 may be missing out on crucial treatment, as reporting systems struggle to keep up with soaring case numbers.

Jason Agostino, medical adviser to NACCHO, said First Nations people had been more likely to be infected, and more likely to develop a severe illness, throughout the pandemic.

“If we look at infections in NSW and the ACT, almost one in 10 people who were infected through Delta were Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. When we look at severity in each age group, Aboriginal people were more likely to be hospitalised or end up in ICU.”

But Dr Agostino said since Omicron has taken hold, health authorities no longer had a clear picture of how Indigenous people were being impacted.

To view the ABC News article in full click here.

Floralita Billy-Whap gets vaccinated on the island of Poruma in the Torres Strait

Floralita Billy-Whap gets vaccinated on the island of Poruma in the Torres Strait. Photo supplied by: Torres and Cape Hospital and Health Service. Image source: ABC News.

$24m for temporary Telehealth changes

Following a meeting with senior representatives of the five peak general practice organisations, including NACCHO, the Australian Government has committed an additional $24 million to make temporary changes to Telehealth to give GPs and specialists additional flexibility to support their patients safely, including the continued supply of PPE and online support.

Telehealth has been a vital support during the pandemic providing greater flexibility in healthcare delivery at the most critical time and it continues to be a fundamental part of the pandemic response.

The Government will introduce temporary specialist inpatient telehealth MBS items (video and phone) and initial and complex specialist telephone consultation items, and longer telephone consultations for GP’s (level C) until 30 June 2022.

These services will be made available nationally rather than targeted to Commonwealth-declared hotspots as they were previously, recognising the high infection rate and need to provide healthcare support across the community.

Enabling specialist medical practitioners to provide telehealth consultations to hospital in-patients as a temporary measure will support continuity of care for patients when their doctor cannot attend the hospital due to COVID-19 restrictions.

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

Image source: mivision.

When COVID-19 hits low vax town

The Indigenous community of Cherbourg in Queensland kept COVID-19 at bay for nearly two years. But in just two weeks, one in 10 people contracted the virus. SBS News travelled to the town to see how the outbreak is being managed in a vulnerable community.

On the outskirts of Cherbourg cemetery sits an unmarked mass grave. It is said to be the resting place of around 90 Indigenous residents who died during the Spanish flu outbreak just over a century ago.

The small regional town – formerly known as Barambah – was hit disproportionately hard in 1919 when the virus made its way into the community. Within three weeks, one-sixth of the population would die.

100 years on and the existence of the mass burial site acts as a stark warning for the approximately 1,500 residents as the town battles an eerily similar threat: COVID-19.

“We don’t want history to repeat itself and that’s why we’re working very hard to make sure that doesn’t happen,” mayor Elvie Sandow says.

To view the SBS News article in full click here.

Cherbourg is dealing with a COVID-19 outbreak. Image source: SBS News.

Calls for patient-centred care investment

The RACGP has called on the federal investment to improve patient-centred care The college has put forward a series of reforms to ensure general practice can continue to meet patients’ needs and offer quality care, while saving the healthcare system at least $1 billion each year.

As COVID-19 infection rates continue to rise in Australia, health systems across the country are buckling under the pressure, with thousands of people being admitted to hospital and hundreds of thousands more being managed in the community.

RACGP President Dr Karen Price said the pandemic has both exacerbated and highlighted the cracks in Australia’s health system, and that GPs should be adequately remunerated for managing a growing number of complex presentations.

‘General practice is at the forefront of prevention and chronic disease management, [but] more Commonwealth investment is needed to deliver on this vital role,’ Dr Price said. ‘We want time to care for our patients [and] we want longer consults rewarded at the same value as shorter consults.

To read the GPNews article in full click here.

Image source: NT PHN.

‘Looking Deadly’ Eye Health Training

An eye health training program for primary health care personnel, especially Aboriginal health practitioners, has been launched by the Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (VACCHO) and the Vision Initiative (Victoria’s eye health promotion program).

‘Looking Deadly’ is a self-paced, online module that covers some elements of the VET accredited unit HLTAHW030 – Provide information and strategies in eye health (Release 2). The content has been specially designed with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients in mind.

For further information on the training click here.

Artwork Wiradjuri / Yorta Yorta artist, Lyn Briggs - features Aboriginal hands & eye

Artwork by respected Wiradjuri / Yorta Yorta artist, Lyn Briggs, originally commissioned for VACCHO’s first eye health program, 1998. Image source: University of Melbourne.

Sickly Sweet soft drink campaign launched

A new social media campaign to educate Australians about the health risks of drinking sugar-laden drinks has been launched.

AMA President Dr Omar Khorshid said the #SicklySweet campaign is a creative, highly visual campaign which turns the tables on sophisticated soft drink ads, directed at young people each summer. “The campaign asks us to think about how much sugar we consume,” he said.

“It may come as a surprise to many Australians that there are eight to 12 teaspoons of sugar in an average 375ml can of soft drink. It is, however, no surprise these drinks are contributing to obesity and preventable diseases like type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and some cancers.”

Dr Khorshid said Australian’s drink at least 2.4 billion litres of sugary drinks every year, with young males the biggest consumers. It’s a staggering figure, and we think Aussies need to know what they are consuming and the impact it can have on their long-term health,” he said.

“Sugary drinks used to be a special treat, but they’re now an every-day product, bringing addiction, and major health problems.” Dr Khorshid said with the COVID-19 pandemic continuing it was important not to overlook other major health issues facing the nation.

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

banner text 'Sickly Sweet - sugary drinks are making us sick. It's time that we do something about it' & soft drink bottle, black liquid, red label with white font words Sickly Sweet' yellow background

Rural and remote student dentistry grants

Two critical issues in Australian dentistry include the prevalence of oral disease among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, and the challenge of delivering viable dental care outside of major population centres. Coupled with the recent challenges of COVID-19 and its associated financial hardships, many dental students particularly in rural and remote areas are struggling.

The Australian Dental Association recognises this and has two grants to assist students who are studying to become registered dentists.

For more information about the grants and to apply click here.

Bachelor of Oral Health student Caitlin Wilkie checks a young boy’s teeth. Image source: University of Melbourne.

New process for job advertising

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Concerns over growing COVID-19 cases

feature tile text 'concerns over growing covid case numbers in ATSI communities' & photo of Dr Jason Agostino standing in front of NACCHO banner

Concerns over growing COVID-19 cases

Distance and isolation are no longer providing a barrier to the spread of the virus in remote Indigenous communities, including in Yarrabah and on Palm Island in Queensland, which has now set up a temporary morgue.

Meanwhile, two towns in East Arnhem Land in the NT have been sent into lockdown in a bid to try and slow the spread amongst vulnerable populations there.

Dr Jason Agostino, GP and epidemiologist with the ANU and NACCHO Medical Advisor spoke with spoke with Cathy Van Extel on ABC RN Breakfast earlier today about the growing number of COVID-19 case numbers in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

You can listen to the radio interview by clicking on this link.

Dr Jason Agostino ABC radio interview tile

Dr Jason Agostino, Medical Advisor, NACCHO.

In a related news item on the ABC 7.30 Report (at 00:49:11) Dr Jason Agostino talks about how as state and territory borders reopen remote Indigenous communities face a situation they’ve long been dreading. Omicron is putting vaccination rates and health systems to the test as the virus infiltrates the far reaches of Queensland and the NT.

You can watch the news item in full here.

Indigenous COVID-19 response failure

Poor planning by state and federal governments is to blame for the significant lag in Indigenous COVID-19 vaccination rates nationwide, say researchers.

The University of NSW team said the substandard preparation, combined with mixed messaging on vaccines, have led to a shortage of trained workers to put jabs in arms and vaccine hesitancy in vulnerable communities.

“This substantial policy oversight reflects a failure of moral human rights responsibility for Australian First Nations people,” say the authors of the paper published in Jama Health Forum.

Planning, strategy and prevention work undertaken by NACCHO and ACCHOs around the country had also been undermined by the failed response.

To view the NITV article in full click here.

young ATSI woman get covid-19 vax in outdoor clinic, 3 children looking on

Image source: NITV.

Breaching the Indigenous vax gap

Wiradjuri man and RACGP Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Faculty Chair Professor O’Mara says tailored messaging and outreach programs are vital for closing the gap in vaccination rates between mainstream and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander COVID-19 vaccination rates.

‘One of the things that we’ve seen in central Australia is that when we get community elders to have a good understanding of the importance of the vaccination, then the vaccination rates in those communities go up significantly,’ he said.

‘Where I work at Tobwabba Aboriginal Corporation Medical Service, our rates are really high … it’s about connection to the community and spreading that message. Once we got the vaccines in, it was just about going and having a one-on-one with community members about how important it is, and then they would then share that message with other community members to get the rates right up.’

Such an approach can be just as effective in metropolitan settings, Professor O’Mara says, provided the programs and the messaging are tailored to the leaders and people who live there.

‘I think the networks are thicker in those communities,’ he said. ‘The information flows and we talk about the “Koori Grapevine” as a way of getting messages around. In those cities it’s probably every bit as easy as it is in rural places, because even though the numbers are higher, the message spreads wider.’

To view the GPNews article in full here.

Palm Island resident Taishima-Rae Fraser-Baira receiving covid-19 vax

Palm Island resident Taishima-Rae Fraser-Baira is among more than 700 locals who have been vaccinated against COVID-19. Image source: ABC News.

RACGP welcomes telehealth restoration

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) has cautiously welcomed the federal Government’s move to temporarily restore telehealth to peak COVID-19 pandemic settings.

Health Minister Greg Hunt and Regional Health Minister David Gillespie have announced an additional $24 million for a range of measures to give GPs and other specialists more flexibility to support patients.

It comes after RACGP President Dr Karen Price met with Minister Hunt and Minister David Gillespie this week, along with other peak general practice and medical organisations, to discuss the challenges facing general practice and support needed to ensure GPs can stay open and deliver the essential care to Australians at this time.

RACGP President Dr Karen Price said that the announcement was a step in the right direction. “The stark reality is that many of the patients who benefit the most from telehealth are also the most disadvantaged when it comes to internet connectivity and reliability. Discouraging longer phone consultations is particularly disadvantageous for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people seeking to undertake a health assessment, patients in rural and remote areas, older people, and those with multiple chronic conditions. So, we called on the Government to reinstate Medicare rebates for longer phone consultations as part of the permanent telehealth model.

“A six-month restoration of these rebates is welcome; however, we must not stop there – this must be a permanent fixture of telehealth for years to come and the RACGP will continue fighting to make that happen.”

To read the article in full click here and to access Minister Greg Hunt’s media release in full here.

health professional at desk giving telehealth consult

Image source: The Medical Journal of Australia.

Funding to improve cancer screening

More than $10 million is being invested in medical research to identify new and innovative approaches to help increase participation in Australia’s breast, bowel and cervical cancer screening programs.

Australia is a world leader in cancer screening through BreastScreen Australia, the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program and the National Cervical Screening Program but there is always more that can be done to increase the number of Australians participating.

Minister for Health and Aged Care, Greg Hunt, said regular screenings and early detection can lead to better outcomes for cancer treatments. “Australia’s cancer screening programs are world-leading and it’s simple: we know cancer screening saves lives,” Minister Hunt said.

The Australian National University will receive $1.7 million to understand why participation in the Bowel Cancer Screening Program are lower amongst Aboriginal than non-Indigenous Australians and how participation rates can be increased.

To help improve breast screening participation, the University of WA will receive funding to examine ways to engage Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women, women from diverse cultural and language backgrounds and women with different levels of educational attainment and income.

To view the media release in full click here.

doctor in whitecoat holding slate with chalk words 'CANCER SCREENING'

Image source: Boarding1Now.

AIDA launches 25th anniversary celebrations

The Australian Indigenous Doctors’ Association (AIDA) has launched its 25th anniversary celebrations.

Interviews can be arranged upon request by contacting the AIDA communications team via email here. To streamline the interview process, we ask that you please complete the interview request e-form available here, prior to contacting the communications team.

To view the AIDA media release click here.AIDA logo text 'Australian Indigenous Doctors' Association - celebrating the past challenging the future' red, black, aqua

RVTS late application round

The Remote Vocational Training Scheme (RVTS) is conducting a late application round for training to commence early in 2022.

Enquire now and be ready to apply when applications open on Friday 21 January to 3 February 2022.

In addition to vacancies in the AMS stream for doctors already working in AMS MMM2-7 locations, RVTS is also promoting opportunities to work in the following AMS Targeted Recruitment Locations – Tennant Creek (NT), Mutitjulu (NT), Halls Creek/Broome (WA), Kununurra (WA), and South Hedland (WA).

Through its Targeted Recruitment Strategy, RVTS partners with Aboriginal Health Services and Rural and Remote communities of high medical workforce need to offer RVTS training as part of a package to recruit doctors to these communities.

Click here to find more details (and contact officers) for each of these positions. Additional Salary Support funding from the Federal Department of Health may also be available to support the recruitment and retention of doctors to some Targeted Recruitment locations.

Check details on the RVTS website here.

Call the RVTS Recruitment Team on 1800 497 196 or 02 6057 3400 for further information.

RVTS tile, outback, vehicle, text 'training & retaining rural, remote & First Nations communities'

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.

Unique pharmacy graduate program

Kimberley Pharmacy Services are offering a unique experience for recently graduated Pharmacists to join their our supportive and experienced team as part of our structured 2 Year Residency Program on a full-time basis. You can choose to start between January – March or later in 2022. You will be working with passionate individuals dedicated to making a tangible impact on the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and their communities.

You will be based in Broom for the first six months of the program. You will then be part of a rotational graduate experience at several pharmacies (community, clinical and outreach Aboriginal Health Services) throughout the region. 

To view the position description and to apply click here.Kimberley Pharmacy Services logo - leap, two halves of capsule one with Aboriginal dot art

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Permanent telehealth to strengthen health system

Feature tile - Tue 14.12.21 - Permanent telehealth

PLEASE NOTE: the last date for this publication this year is Wednesday 15 December 2021 – the publication will start again in the new year from 18 January 2022.

Photograph in feature tile from MiVision – Delivering telehealth in Western Australia.

Permanent telehealth to strengthen health system

In a media release published yesterday 13 December 2021 by the Australian Government, telehealth will become a permanent feature of primary health care, which has been transformational to health care delivery and underpinned much of the Government’s successful COVID-19 response.

The Morrison Government is providing $106 million over four years to support permanent telehealth services, ensuring greater flexibility to patients and doctors for the delivery of health care; allowing GPs, specialists, and allied health professionals to continue to consult with their regular patients by phone or online.

The AMA says the health of all Australians will benefit from the availability of telehealth.

AMA President Dr Omar Khorshid said telehealth also improved access to healthcare for people who found it difficult to take time off work; could not leave children or people they were caring for and who live out of town and away from their GP or non-GP specialist.

You can  read the AMA media release here and the Department of Health’s media release here.

Jigalong patient and carer being supported by Stephen Copeland, optometrists. Image credit: mivision.com.au

Jigalong patient and carer being supported by Stephen Copeland, optometrists via telehealth. Image credit: mivision.com.au

Urgency to contain Katherine and Big Rivers outbreak

In a media release published by The Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance Northern Territory (AMSANT) yesterday 13 December 2021, AMSANT expressed alarm and deep concern at the rapidly increasing numbers of cases stemming from the Katherine COVID-19 outbreak and its spread into communities in the surrounding regions.

“AMSANT is today calling on the NT Government to take immediate steps to strengthen their response to this continuing crisis”, AMSANT Chief Executive officer, John Paterson, said.

“We acknowledge the very good job that the NT Government has done in responding to the outbreaks in Robinson River, Binjari and Rockhole, however, subsequent measures to contain the Katherine outbreak have been unsuccessful.”

“News of a likely positive case in Timber Creek and multiple positive wastewater results appearing in numerous remote communities underscores the growing and urgent need for a stronger response,” Paterson said.

You can read the AMSANT media release here.

Possible positive COVID-19 case in Timber Creek

A possible positive COVID-19 case was recorded in Timber Creek yesterday and is being re-tested to confirm the result. Image source: CareFlight, ABC News.

Importance of timely COVID-19 booster vaccination

The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) states that the COVID-19 vaccines used in Australia are critical in protecting against COVID-19 due to all variants, including the newly emerged Omicron variant. Given the likelihood of ongoing transmission of both Omicron and Delta variants, ATAGI recommends COVID-19 booster vaccination for anyone aged 18 and older who completed their primary course of COVID-19 vaccination 5 or more months ago.

Timely receipt of a booster dose is particularly important for people with increased exposure risk (e.g. occupational risk or outbreak areas) or who have risk factors for severe disease. ATAGI reiterates that a third (primary) dose of COVID-19 vaccine is also recommended for anyone with immunocompromising conditions, a minimum of two months after their second dose.

Either Comirnaty (Pfizer) or Spikevax (Moderna) are recommended for use as a booster vaccine, and are considered equally acceptable. The Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, has been provisionally approved for use as a COVID-19 booster vaccine in people aged 18 years and older by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) as of 12 December 2021.

You can read the ATAGI statement on the Omicron variant and timing of COVID-19 booster vaccination here, and you can read the ATAGI recommendations on the use of Moderna as a COVID-19 booster vaccine here.

COVID-19 Dose One vial, Dose Two vial & Booster vial - ticks on first two doses

Image source: NIH Director’s Blog.

10-year preventive health strategy plan

Yesterday 13 December 2021, the Australian Government launched the National Preventive Health Strategy, a 10-year plan to improve the health and wellbeing of all Australians at all stages of life. The Strategy seeks to improve Australia’s health system, fundamentally focused on the treatment of illness and disease, by increasing the focus on prevention – from illness to wellness, and from healthcare to health.

Chronic conditions are the leading cause of ill health and death in Australia and account for 87% of deaths. The Strategy recognises that around 38% of the chronic disease burden could be prevented through a reduction in modifiable risk factors such as obesity, physical inactivity and the use of alcohol, tobacco and other drugs. This figure rises to be 49% for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

The Strategy identifies 7 key system enablers that will be integral to creating long-term, sustainable changes to the health system for all Australians, outlining seven focus areas that require critical action to reduce the risks of poor health and disease:

  • nutrition
  • physical activity
  • tobacco
  • immunisation
  • cancer screening
  • alcohol and other drug use;
  • and mental health.

You can read the Government Department of Health‘s media release here.
The National Preventive Health Strategy can be downloaded here.

National Preventive Health Strategy 2021-2030

Tracking progress in First Nations’ health

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) has published a data visualisation tool for tracking progress against the 20 Implementation Plan goals for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan 2013–2023. It presents data for each of the 20 goals, and assesses progress against the goals at the national level.

Of the 14 goals for which updates were available, 5 were on track, 6 were not on track and 3 were not assessed.

Some of the key findings:

  • In 2019, 64% of Indigenous mothers had antenatal care in the first trimester and 89% attended 5+ antenatal visits.
  • The proportion of Indigenous Australians aged 15–17 who had never smoked increased from 61% in 2002 to 85% in 2018–19.
  • In 2020, 97% of Indigenous children aged 5 were fully immunised, compared with 95% of other children.

You can read more about the AIHW tracking progress here and you can view the report here.
View the Implementation Plan for the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan 2012-2023 here.

Exciting opportunity for Aboriginal health students

Aboriginal health students across the Northern Territory can now apply for the 2022 NT Health Aboriginal Cadetship Program. The Program is a key ‘entry to practice’ initiative for NT Health to achieve greater representation of tertiary educated Aboriginal employees and increase Aboriginal health professionals in our workforce.

NT Health currently supports five cadets and will offer a sixth space in the 2022 intake.

The program assists eligible NT Aboriginal students undertaking their first undergraduate degree or postgraduate studies to gain professional health qualifications in skill shortage areas. Additionally, the program provides work placement and experience within NT Health.

The program is funded by NT Health and will provide successful cadets with:

  • Study allowance of up to $1200 per fortnight whilst engaged in full time studies
  • Book allowance of up to $1000 per year
  • An incentive payment of up to $4000 per year
  • 12 weeks paid on the job work placement during the university major academic breaks.

NT Health has a dedicated Aboriginal Workforce Development unit that administers the program. The unit’s staff will provide ongoing mentoring and support to the cadets for the term of their cadetship.

You can read the media release by NT Minister for Health Natasha Fyles here.
Further cadetship information can be found on the NT Health website.

NT Health Aboriginal Cadetship Program. Image Source: NT Health Facebook page.

NT Health Aboriginal Cadetship Program. Image Source: NT Health Facebook page.

Covid Song – Ali Curung

Check out this great Red Dust video with a straight-up message from the Ali Curung mob made with the help of Barkly Shire Council and Anyingini Health Aboriginal Corporation.

“I don’t want to see you get sick when the COVID comes in quick. We gotta get the jab before it’s too late. No time to hesitate. I got one, two, what about you! What ya gonna do? What ya gonna do when the COVID comes?”

“Yeah, we gotta do it for our families. To protect our communities. Go to the clinic and check the facts. We’re only safe when we all get vaxxed!”

Managing inappropriate comments online

The Department of Health has created a guide that can help your service with managing inappropriate comments and misinformation on your social media channels. There has recently been a significant spike in online activity and emotion. This high level guide provides information about steps your service can take to moderate inappropriate comments and content on your pages.

You can download the social media guide here.

Word cloud - misinformation

 

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.