NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Impact of alcohol-free pregnancy campaign

The image in the feature tile is from the Menzies School of Health Research webpage PANDORA – pregnancy and neonatal diabetes outcomes in remote Australia.

Impact of alcohol-free pregnancy campaign

To mark International FASD Awareness Day, the Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education (FARE) has released data that demonstrates the impact of the Every Moment Matters campaign – Australia’s first, nation-wide public awareness campaign supporting alcohol-free pregnancies and safe breastfeeding practices.

Developed by FARE and endorsed and funded by the Australian Government, Every Moment Matters aims to increase Australians’ awareness of the risks of alcohol use during pregnancy, and increase the number of Australian women who intend not to drink alcohol during pregnancy.

With the tagline ‘The moment you start trying is the moment to stop drinking’, the campaign features nationally on television, radio, digital and out-of-home channels and runs until July 2024. The results of the ongoing evaluation led by the University of Adelaide demonstrates that Every Moment Matters is overcoming the mixed messages people often receive about alcohol and pregnancy.

As part of the broader program of work, NACCHO has designed a culturally appropriate awareness raising campaign with regional and remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. NACCHO CEO Pat Turner said, “FASD is a whole of community issue. We look forward to launching the Strong Born campaign with ACCHOs across rural and remote Australia next month. The campaign will support mums, their families, their communities, their health practitioners and health services, to bring everyone together to help prevent and better understand the issues that contribute to FASD.”

You can find the joint FARE, NOFASD Australia and NACCHO media release Celebrating 9 months of impact on 9 September: International FASD Awareness Day on the NACCHO website here.

Referendum Working Group announced

Minister for Indigenous Australians Linda Burney has announced members of the Referendum Working Group which will establish the path to a Voice to Parliament. Speaking at the Centre for Economic Development of Australia (CEDA) State of the Nation conference at the National Museum of Australia, Ms Burney outlined a “working group of First Nations leaders” with Senator Pat Dodson and herself as co-chairs.

The Referendum Working Group will collaborate with the government to consider and navigate “the big questions” in the next following months. The minister said getting the groups working is the first step, with building a “broad consensus of community support” and “harnessing the goodwill in the Australian community to take Australia forward” being the following.

“[There are] many more steps to be taken on the road to the referendum and let’s be clear government cannot lead this referendum,” she said. “This will come from the grassroots, from communities, because the Voice is a nation-building project.” Included among the  group of 22 are:

  • Co-chairs of Uluru Dialogue Professor Megan Davis and Pat Anderson AO
  • Co-chairs of the Indigenous Voice co-design group Professor Marcia Langton AO and Professor Tom Calma AO
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner June Oscar AO, NACCHO CEO Pat Turner AM and former Minister for Indigenous Australians Ken Wyatt.

To view the SBS article Linda Burney outlines next referendum steps including working group with Ken Wyatt in full click here.

Image source: National Indigenous Times website.

Dedicated to fighting for mental health

Australians of all ages and backgrounds are increasingly at risk of mental health issues like depression and anxiety. Paul Bird and Alex Speedy of the National Wellbeing Alliance, a First Nations-owned and -operated training provider dedicated to fighting for mental health, are right on the forefront of advocating for “acceptance” of the devastating, hidden conditions plaguing many in the region.

The two spoke to students from Murgon, Proston and Goomeri schools at last month’s careers expo at the Murgon Cherbourg Youth Hub, extending helping hands to those wishing to speak out and start the journey of recovery. “Mental health issues are bad – they’re definitely on the increase,” Mr Bird said. “People are getting younger with depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, self-harm – and it’s not just for Indigenous people, it’s through all societies and countries!”

The pair are based out of the Murgon area but hold workshops for ‘mental first-aid’ wherever they are needed most -equipping people to have those all important conversations and to be able to respond in a mental health emergency. “Alex is a community member, born and bred here, and my father was born here, but I was born in NSW,” Mr Bird explained. “Through a turn of events I’ve come back to my father’s country to facilitate and engage with community through workshops and mental health first-aid.”

To read The Burnett Today article Locals join in tackling mental health crisis click here.

National Wellbeing Alliance workers Paul Bird and Alex Speedy are passionate about helping others improve their mental wellbeing. Photo: Julian Lehnert. Image source: Burnett Today.

Number of WA ACCOs to increase

The WA Government has announced a new strategy to strengthen the delivery of services to Aboriginal children, families and communities by increasing opportunities for Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations (ACCO) to deliver culturally appropriate services. The ACCO strategy is directly aligned to Priority Reform Area Two of the 2020 National Agreement on Closing the Gap, “Building the community-controlled sector.”

The ten-year strategy was developed by representatives from 11 ACCOs across the State, Department of Communities and the Department of Finance. It aligns to several Priority Reform Areas and Socio-Economic targets identified within the National Agreement on Closing the Gap and aims to empower Aboriginal children, families and communities to choose their own futures from the foundations provided by ACCOs.

“Aboriginal people across WA have repeatedly told us that to truly change outcomes, Aboriginal communities must lead the way, and that is achieved through community-based and family-led solutions,” Community Services Minister Simone McGurk said. “ACCOs usually achieve better results, employ a majority of Aboriginal workforce and are the preferred providers by Aboriginal people over mainstream services,” she continued.

To view The Sector’s article WA Gov will boost the number of ACCOs to improve services for First Nations families in full click here.

Image source: The Sector.

Physiotherapist making a difference

As an elite hockey player, Candice Liddy knew her strength was positioning: putting herself in the right place to maximise the team’s opportunity of moving forward and getting a goal. “There were other players who could run all day, but I just knew I had to be in the right spot,” she says.

Candice lives in Darwin, where she was born and raised on Larrakia land. Her grandparents on her dad’s side were part of the Stolen Generations, taken from other parts of the NT as children to live at Garden Point Mission on Melville Island. Her father grew up in Darwin and nearby Howard Springs but was evacuated after cyclone Tracy in 1974 to Brisbane, where he met Candice’s mother, who was born in India, and moved to Australia with her family.

Sporting talent runs in the family and also led Candice to a career in physiotherapy. Playing for many years at State level for the NT, she noticed the team physiotherapists were good at working in the athletes’ best interests while keeping them game-ready, and they also got to travel with the teams. “I wanted those skills and that lifestyle, and I was going to work as hard as I could to get there.”

A later non-clinical role brought her experience in remote communities as a National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) planner, where she quickly realised that all the planning in the world would be useless if services weren’t available where they were needed. “And that’s when I thought, You know what, there’s a gap. A gap I’m trained to fill.”

To view the Indigenous Allied Health Australia (IAHA) article 2022 World Physiotherapy Day in full click here.

Candice Lidday. Image source: IAHA website.

Prostate cancer, know the symptoms

The Cancer Council of WA (CCWA) is urging men to visit their doctor and learn the common symptoms of prostate cancer this month. CCWA Great Southern regional education officer Bruce Beamish said prostate cancer awareness month was the perfect chance for men to learn more about how their bodies might be telling them something is wrong. He said unlike for breast, bowel and cervical cancer which have screening tests to confirm the presence of cancer prior to symptoms presenting, there is no such test for prostate cancer. Therefore, it is “vital” to visit a doctor, Aboriginal health care worker or clinic nurse when unusual symptoms present.

“Common symptoms of prostate cancer include waking a lot at night to pee, a sudden or urgent need to pee, problems starting or stopping peeing, needing to pee more often, a slow or weak flow when peeing, or dribbling at the end of peeing,” he said. “These symptoms can be found in other conditions but if you have had any of these for more than four weeks, or you’ve noticed blood in your pee or semen even just once, tell your doctor, clinic nurse or Aboriginal health worker as soon as possible. “It doesn’t mean you’ve got prostate cancer — often it turns out to be something far less serious and your doctor may be able to help reduce the annoying symptoms.”

To view the Broome Advertiser article Men urged to learn the symptoms during Prostate Cancer Awareness Month in full click here.

Image source: Vitalii Abakumou, Getty Images, iStockphotos.

Emergency relief centre for Gippsland mob

A groundbreaking emergency relief centre to support members of East Gippsland’s Aboriginal communities in times of crisis is getting underway thanks to a $2.4 million investment by the Andrews Labor Government. Minister for Emergency Services Jaclyn Symes joined Member for Eastern Victoria Tom McIntosh and representatives of the Lake Tyers Aboriginal community to announce the funding and hear about their vision for the new centre.

The Lake Tyers Emergency Relief Centre project will bring together Gunaikurnai Land and Waters Aboriginal Corporation (GLaWAC), Lake Tyers Aboriginal Trust and Lake Tyers community to co-design a supportive, safe and secure space for Aboriginal communities within Lake Tyers during and after a bushfire disaster. The centre will also bring community together for activities and meetings outside of emergencies.

The need for the dedicated relief centre was identified following the devastating 2019-20 Eastern Victorian bushfires, during which over 1,000 known registered Aboriginal heritage places were damaged and hundreds of Aboriginal Victorians were affected.

To read The National Tribune article First Relief Centre For Aboriginal Community In Gippsland in full click here.

Terylene Hood says residents need a place where they can be comfortable during an emergency. Photo: Bec Symons, ABC Gippsland.

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: Ask your mob, in your way, R U OK?

The image in the feature tile is of Steven Oliver, An R U OK? Ambassador, Aboriginal poet, comedian and performer whose life has been affected by suicide. Image source: R U OK? Day Facebook page, 29 June 2016.

Ask your mob, in your way, R U OK?

If someone you know – a family member, someone from your community, a friend, neighbour, team mate or workmate –  is doing it tough, they won’t always tell you. Sometimes it’s up to us to trust our gut instinct and ask someone who may be struggling with life “are you OK?”, in our own way. By taking the time to ask and listen, we can help those we care about feel more supported and connected, which can help stop little things becoming bigger things.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples share a special connection to this country and to each other, through our cultures, communities and shared experiences. Regardless of where we live, or who our mob is, we all go through tough times, times when we don’t feel great about our lives or ourselves. That’s why it’s important to always be looking out for each other. Because we’re Stronger Together.

Earlier this year 13YARN (13 92 76), a Lifeline supported service was launched. It is the first national crisis phone support line for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Designed, led and delivered by mob, 13YARN provides a confidential 24/7 one-on-one yarning opportunity with a Lifeline-trained Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Crisis Supporter.

You could also connect with a trusted health professional, like your doctor or your local Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander Medical Service.

For more information about R U OK? Day and to access resources specifically for Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander communities click here.

Working Group on Voice to Parliament

The government is primed to announce a working group on the referendum to enshrine an Indigenous Voice to Parliament. The group will be tasked with answering some of the big questions on the process in the lead-up to the referendum. The referendum’s timing, question and information on the Voice to Parliament will all fall under the remit of the group, made up of more than 20 Indigenous leaders from across the country.

Notable names include Pat Anderson, Marcia Langton, Tom Calma, Pat Turner, Ken Wyatt and June Oscar. It will be co-chaired by Indigenous Australians Minister Linda Burney and Special Envoy for Reconciliation and Implementation of the Uluru Statement Patrick Dodson. Ms Burney will officially announce the working group as part of her address today at the Committee for Economic Development of Australia’s State of the Nation forum. “These are the next steps, the plan on the road to the referendum,” Ms Burney said. “There is much to work to do, many more steps to be taken on the road to the referendum. Let’s be clear, government cannot lead this referendum. This will come from the grassroots.”

To view the ABC News story Working group to answer big questions leading up to Indigenous Voice to Parliament referendum in full click here.

The government’s Voice working group will help shape the looming referendum. Photo: Tim Leslie, ABC News.

JobKeeper rate a health hazard

Touted as a “much-needed boost” by the Minister for Social Services, Amanda Rishworth, the JobSeeker payment is set to rise $1.80 per day on 20 September. The daily rate will go from $46 to $47.80 – $17,378 per year – still well below the Melbourne Institute’s poverty line of approximately $28,000 per year. “It does not deliver a real increase – an increase above inflation – and that is what people on JobSeeker and other payments need to keep a roof over their head and put food on the table,” Australian Council of Social Service CEO Edwina MacDonald said in a statement.

Karl Briscoe, the CEO of the National Association for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workers and Health Practitioners (NAATSIHWP), said the low JobSeeker rates affect food security and housing among Indigenous communities. “Access to adequate nutrition, fresh fruit and veg, is probably one of the biggest issues that people are faced with,” he said.  ” When people cannot access vitamins and minerals due to poverty, they can be more susceptible to a range of diseases, including skin infections and diabetes, according to Briscoe.”

Overcrowding is another major issue, he said. In Aboriginal communities, it can contribute to the spread of scabies, a skin infection which is linked to chronic kidney disease. Too many people living in the same house can also increase the spread of Strep A infections, which can cause rheumatic fever and RHD, an autoimmune condition where the heart valve tissue becomes swollen and scarred.

While increasing the JobSeeker rate is a clear necessity, what is really needed to improve conditions in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities is capital investment, such as infrastructure projects that bring jobs, according to Briscoe. “Poverty is an outcome of colonisation for many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. We don’t have a long line of inheritance that’s been passed down generation to generation,” Briscoe said.

To view the Croakey Health Media article Stories from the frontlines: why the low JobSeeker rate is a health hazard in full click here.

Verdict on government’s first 100 days

The Albanese government has now passed its first 100 days in office and major announcements are coming in thick and fast. Key ministers and central figures within the for-purpose sector have reflected on the federal government’s progress so far and what should be the next steps from here.

The federal government came to power promising a referendum on an Indigenous Voice to Parliament. Minister for Indigenous Australians, Linda Burney said the government had “hit the ground running. A constitutionally enshrined Voice to Parliament is about improving the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people across the country.  It’s about making sure First Nations people have a say on the issues and policies that affect them,” she said. “It’s about drawing a line on the poor outcomes from the long legacy of failed programs and broken policies and about recognising the glaring omission of First Peoples in Australia’s birth certificate.”

CEO of SNAICC Catherine Liddle said many of the government’s broad commitments, including more affordable childcare, would benefit First Nations people. However, she said such mainstream reforms “must take into account the particular needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and families. SNAICC has already met with senior government ministers and we look forward to strengthening those relationships and working with the new government to progress much needed policy reform to ensure Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children have their needs and voices heard,” she said.

“Federal Labor has committed to the implementation of the National Agreement with the Coalition of Peaks. There’s no doubt that we lost some ground in the run up to and during the federal election. But I think that implementation of the National Agreement is being brought back to where it needs to be” Liddle said. “SNAICC looks forward to working with the government on reforms to early education, family services, and out of home care, with access to childcare identified as being particularly important as a lack of access can create barriers that prevent First Nations people from engaging in work and study.”

To view the Pro Bono Australia article Sector delivers verdict on government’s first 100 days in full click here.

Image source: ABC News website.

System rigged against people with additions

Amid concerns that Australian health systems are failing people with addictions to alcohol, other drugs and gambling, experts will call next week for a national roadmap to ensure better and more equitable treatment pathways. A two-day national conference in Canberra will put the spotlight on a lack of national policy leadership in addressing the fragmented, inadequate services available for people living with addictions, which one expert says means it’s a “complete lottery” as to what care people and families might find. The Rethink Addiction Convention titled ‘It’s time to change the conversation’, will bring together people with lived and living experience, clinicians, services providers, law and justice practitioners and policymakers and seek to address the stigma that affects access to treatment and care.

Jasmin Wilson, a Wellbeing Officer from from Aboriginal Drug & Alcohol Council SA will be speaking at the inaugural Rethink Addiction Convention. She says “Addiction doesn’t discriminate, so why do we? To Close the Gap we need to address addiction in First Nations Communities.”

Ending that harmful stigmatisation is the work at the heart of the Rethink Addiction campaign, headed by psychiatrist Professor Dan Lubman, who is Executive Clinical Director of the Turning Point and Professor of Addiction Studies and Services at Monash University  and Director of the Monash Addiction Research Centre. He cites the damning statistics: around one in four Australians will develop an alcohol, drug or gambling disorder during their lifetime, and around one in 20 will develop addiction, the most severe form of the disorder. One Australian dies almost every hour from alcohol, other drug or gambling harm.

To view the Croakey Health Media article How the system is rigged against people with addictions in full click here.

Jasmin Wilson, a former ice addict will speak at the convention. Image source: The Advertiser.

Calls for youth justice system reforms

Amnesty International Australia issued a statement yesterday calling on all State and Territory governments to raise the age of criminal responsibility and close detention centres. “State and Territory governments have it in their power now to do more than make empty statements about the importance of child safety,” Amnesty International Australia Indigenous Rights Campaigner Maggie Munn, said. “Until they take the most obvious and proven step to truly care for some of the most vulnerable children in our country, then these words ring very hollow indeed.”

Calls for reform of the youth justice system have been echoed by many including, Change the Record, Victorian Aboriginal Legal Service (VALS) and the Public Health Association of Australia. The deep-rooted culture of abuse of children in youth detention was again in the spotlight last week during an Inquiry into Government Responses into Child Sexual Abuse in Institutional Settings in Tasmania. The Inquiry and others before have highlighted the abuse of children in detention centres as a “black mark against this country as a whole”, according to barrister Greg Barns, the National Criminal Justice Spokesman for the Australian Lawyers Alliance.

Barns said “If there was ever a time for major reform and a cultural shift on the part of legislators and society generally when it comes to dealing with children and young people who come into contact with the police, then now is it. Doing nothing is not an option.”

To view the Croakey Health Media article Calls for reform, not platitudes, on youth justice system in full click here.

Image source: Amnesty International Australia.

QAS drives cultural safety in the community

The Queensland Ambulance Service has appointed a team of leaders to build on the organisation’s cultural capability and advance health equity for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. The organisation’s recently established Cultural Safety Unit has appointed three new Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Cultural Safety Support Officers (CSSOs) and two new Senior Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Cultural Safety Advisors.

Health and Ambulance Services Minister Yvette D’Ath said it was vital for the Queensland Ambulance Service to embrace diversity in its ranks. “The QAS is really leading the way when it comes to Indigenous relations within the service and community,” she said. “We’ve seen first-hand, with initiatives like the QAS Indigenous Paramedic Program, what a difference it makes to health outcomes when First Nations people are on the front line in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities”.

QAS Deputy Commissioner Operations North, Rural and Remote Kari Arbouin said three officers have been appointed to the inaugural CSSO positions and will be operating within their own areas, including North Queensland, Central Queensland and South Queensland. “Our CSSOs will also be out and about playing their part in improving health equity and foster better engagement across all Queensland communities.” “As QAS continues to develop a more culturally responsive and inclusive workplace, our new team will be working to support our workforce to become more culturally aware and safe.”

To view the Queensland Minister for Health and Ambulance Services, the Hon. Yvette D’Ath’s media release QAS drives greater cultural safety in the community in full click here.

Image source: Australian Paramedical College website.

Sector Jobs

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: The Voice explained

The image in the feature tile is of Torres Strait Islander man Thomas Mayer, a tireless campaigner for a constitutionally enshrined First Nations voice. Image source: Twitter, 26 August 2022.

The Voice explained

The Albanese government has put forward a preferred form of words to insert into the constitution to enshrine an Indigenous voice to parliament, starting with a simple question for us all to vote on. “We should consider asking our fellow Australians something as simple as: ‘Do you support an alteration to the constitution that establishes an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice?’” Anthony Albanese said in July during a landmark speech at the Garma Festival in Arnhem Land.

The government is now in “the consultation phase of this important nation-building project”, according to the minister for Indigenous Australians, Linda Burney. She has promised a public education campaign ahead of the referendum, to answer the most commonly asked questions. But the PM has said there is “already an extraordinary level of detail out there from the work that Marcia Langton and Tom Calma did”.

The Guardian article How would an Indigenous voice work and what are people saying about it? available in full here, goes on to answer the following questions:

  • What do we already know?
  • How would the national voice work?
  • How would it be structured?
  • How would local and regional voices feed in?
  • What would a voice not do?
  • How would disputes be resolved?
  • What action is being taken?
  • What are people saying about the plan?

NBA legend supports the Voice

The PM has enlisted the support of NBA legend Shaquille O’Neal in calling for constitutional recognition of Indigenous Australians and a Voice to Parliament. Anthony Albanese praised O’Neal after meeting with the basketball great in Sydney on Saturday morning, highlighting his work “in the United States about social justice and lifting people up who are marginalised”.

“He knows that we’re a warm and generous people,” Mr Albanese said. “And he wanted to inform himself about what this debate was about.” The PM argued the world was watching the debate in Australia about recognition of First Nations people. “I just believe that it will send a really positive message to the world about our maturity as a nation,” Mr Albanese said.

The PM, along with Minister for Indigenous Australians Linda Burney, presented O’Neal with a boomerang handmade by First Nations artist Josh Evans, and two jerseys from Mr Albanese’s beloved South Sydney Rabbitohs. “I’m here in your country, whatever you need from me, just let me know,” O’Neal said.

To view the ABC News article Shaquille O’Neal joins PM as Anthony Albanese says ‘world is watching’ Voice to Parliament debate in full click here.

Image source: ABC News website.

Healing Works suicide prevention workshops

Healing Works Australia is an Indigenous Company that provides an array of suicide prevention and cultural services is leading the rollout of I-ASIST training across Australia and in August / September the development of the safeYARN suicide alertness workshops to 12 Aboriginal community controlled health organisations in NSW involved in the “Building on Aboriginal Communities Resilience initiative “ with NSW Health.

They aim to empower organisations and communities through education and sustainable outcomes. Healing Works achieve this by working with organisations and communities, to determine their unique needs so that they can more effectively respond to suicide and broader emotional wellbeing. The two workshops on offer are I-ASIST Indigenous Applied Suicide Skills Training, and safeTALK/YARN, Suicide Alertness For Everyone. Their delivery model for suicide prevention training is stepped in care and built around a solid framework that directly relates to their community members.

To view the Healing Works Australia press release in full click here.

Australia’s HIV diagnoses lowest ever

There were 552 new HIV diagnoses in Australia in 2021, meaning the number of new diagnoses has halved over the past 10 years, according to a new national HIV report released today by UNSW’s Kirby Institute.

  • There were 552 new HIV diagnoses in Australia in 2021, the lowest number since the beginning of the HIV epidemic.
  • The majority of new diagnoses remain in gay and bisexual men (68%), but have reduced by more than 52% over the past 10 years. The decline is due to a range of successful HIV prevention strategies including the scale-up of biomedical prevention tool PrEP, particularly over the past five years.
  • HIV diagnoses among heterosexual people have reduced at a lower rate; 28% in the past 10 years.
  • In 2021, HIV diagnoses remained stable among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
  • Almost half (48%) of new diagnoses were ‘late diagnoses’, meaning that the person may have been living with HIV for four or more years without knowing. It is estimated that nearly one in 10 people living with HIV are unaware they have it.
  • Timely initiation of treatment is crucial, and by the end of 2021, an encouraging 98% of people on treatment had achieved viral suppression, which makes HIV untransmittable.
  • Further work is needed to optimise and tailor HIV programs to meet our global and national targets, and to achieve virtual elimination of transmission in Australia.

To read the scimex article Australia records lowest ever HIV numbers, but late diagnoses are concerning in full click here.

In a related Queensland University of Technology (QUT) article Zeroing-in on HIV transmission in Australia, available here, QUT health expert Dr Jo Durham says Australia had done well to reduce HIV transmissions, but insufficient focus on cultural and language differences had created inequities in healthcare access. We can’t reduce the number of people already living with HIV, but we want to stop further infections by reducing the transmission. A more targeted approach is needed to ensure access to HIV information and health care for populations experiencing HIV, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples” Dr Durham said.

Image source: Health Times website.

Sleep disorders common for NT’s Top End kids

Sleep disorders are more common and more severe in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children than non-Indigenous children, with Indigenous children often having higher screen use before bed, later bedtimes and reduced sleep, an analysis of NT data has found. The authors say targeted interventions and further resources are needed to address sleep quality issues, in order to improve the health of NT children.

“While sleep disorders, including obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA), are a common and significant health issue in children, there has been very little research investigating their prevalence in both Indigenous and non-Indigenous children in the Top End region of the NT,” says study senior author Associate Professor Subash Heraganahally, affiliated with Flinders University in the NT and a respiratory and sleep physician based at the Darwin Private Hospital and Royal Darwin Hospital.

“If left untreated, OSA and issues with overall sleep quality can lead to the development of chronic conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, anxiety and depression, in addition to the potential lasting effects of reduced academic engagement in childhood. Given what we know from previous research in other populations into the impact of sleep disturbances, the presence of OSA and other sleep disorders is likely to have a dramatic impact upon the Indigenous and non-Indigenous paediatric population”

To read the scimex article Sleep disorders common for children in NT’s Top End region in full click here.

Image source: Australian Institute of Family Studies website.

Trek tackles Australia’s rising RHD rates

A group of highly experienced doctors, health workers, and First Nations’ leaders from across the nation have begun a ‘Deadly Heart Trek’ in Queensland. The trek aims to help tackle the rising rates of rheumatic heart disease (RHD) amongst Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. While virtually eradicated amongst non-indigenous Australians, rates of RHD in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, particularly those living across northern and central Australia, are the highest in the world.

“If not diagnosed or treated, RHD can cause heart failure, disability, and even death,” says Paediatric Cardiologist and Deadly Heart Trek member Dr Bo Remenyi. “Without action, it is estimated that more than 9,000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, most under 25 years of age, will develop acute rheumatic fever or RHD by 2031. “We must prevent this, through education, the upskilling of local community members, and early detection and treatment – particularly in communities with restricted access to medical facilities.”

The trek started on Thursday Island and will see two teams travel from Cape York to Mount Isa, visiting communities by invitation, where there is a high burden of disease.

To read the Retail Pharmacy Assistants article Trek tackles rising RHD rates in Australia in full click here.

Image source: Take Heart Deadly Heart website.

RPHC Manuals August 2022 update

The Remote Primary Health Care Manuals (RPHCM) are currently being reviewed and updated with monthly updates being provided to health services and other organisations to keep them up-to-date during the review process.

The RPHCM team recently attended the National Rural Health Conference in Brisbane to promote the upcoming publication of the new manuals. The team will also attend the Council of Remote Area Nurses of Australia (CRANAplus), Rural Medicine Australia and NACCHO conferences. All manuals are now making their way to the publishers for final formatting and editing.

All sales of the Clinical Procedures Manual will cease tomorrow Wednesday 31 August 2022.

The RPHCM team will be meeting with health services and key organisations over the coming months to discuss the changes made to protocols and new content in the latest edition. You can access the RPHCM Project Update August 2022 flyer here, the Remote Primary Health Care Manuals website here and the RPHCM team by email here if you would like a change to the report or to meet the team.

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: Action needed to reduce health inequalities

Image in the feature tile in from the Emerging Minds website.

Action needed to reduce health inequalities

Last month the Australian Health Promotion Association hosted an event titled Putting equity and the social determinants of health at the heart of prevention which included discussions by world renowned epidemiologist Professor Sir Michael Marmot and a panel of Australian health promotion and public health practitioners. Professor Marmot urged Australian colleagues to advocate for healthy public policy, including tackling discrimination. He encouraged colleagues to engage with different avenues of influence like local governments, international audiences, and anyone else who will listen.

Epidemiologist Dr Kalinda Griffiths spoke about the value of data to identify critical areas in the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. “The way we measure things provides important information on who needs what and where”, she said. “For example, Aboriginal people in NSW are twice as likely to die from lung cancer than non-Aboriginal people. However, Aboriginal people in outer regional and remote areas are eight times more likely to die of lung cancer, but Aboriginal people in metropolitan areas have the same outcomes as non-Aboriginal people. Data like this provides valuable insight for policy making.”

Edwina Macdonald, Co-Deputy CEO of the Australian Council of Social Services (ACOSS), presented a report showing income, employment, and socioeconomic status as strong indicators of health. Some key findings include that 50% of people under 65 whose main source of income is government support reported mental health issues compared to 18% of the general population. In addition, 60% of people on higher incomes report good health compared to 32% of people with lower incomes.

To view the Croakey Health Media article Can we build back fairer? Health promotion panel calls for more action to reduce inequalities in full click here.

Young girls play in Titjikala, An Aboriginal community 120km south of Alice Springs. Photo: AAP. Image source: SBS News.

Health Care Homes evaluation findings

The findings of a recently published evaluation (available here) of the Health Care Homes (HCH) trial show there is much to learn about how to implement future health reform initiatives and will be useful reading for the Federal Government and its new Strengthening Medicare Taskforce., according to Associate Professor Lesley Russell. HCH are general practices or Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services (ACCHSs) that aim to provide better coordinated and more flexible care for Australians with chronic and complex illnesses.

The report says the initiative did not deliver on any of its promised outcomes due to its failure to faithfully implement the model for HCH as articulated by the Primary Health Care Advisory Group (PHCAG), to low levels of participation by general practitioners (GPs) and patients, and to an implementation timeframe that was too short.

An easy and economically viable implementation of the HCH model are exemplified in the primary care services that are specifically designed for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. 18 ACCHSs, all in the NT, entered the trial and 14 (with 1,025 patients) continued to the end. They saw bundled payments as a more viable, more appropriate payment approach that provided certainty of income and enabled staff to be paid for additional work.  The key enablers were the existing operational structure of the ACCHSs, and the existing relationships between communities, clinical staff and patients. The challenges for these primary care providers included: the transient nature of community populations, sub-optimal communications with other healthcare providers, the availability of staff to follow through on care plans, and that patients were largely unaware of Health Care Homes and the trial.

To view the Croakey Health Media article More than six years after a “revolutionary” health reform was announced, what have we learnt? in full click here. Below is a Health Care Homes introduction video from Jan 2018.

Health leaders call for transformational change

With new Australian PM Anthony Albanese putting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ rights at the top of his Government’s agenda, stating he would implement the Uluru Statement from the Heart’s agenda in full, health sector advocates have underscored self-determination, truth-telling, cultural safety, and the elimination of racism as a matter of life or death for First Nations peoples.

The National Health Leadership Forum (NHLF), a peak body representing the views of 12 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations working in health and wellbeing across domains including workforce, research, mental health and service delivery, has been advocating for the Uluru Statement and constitutional reform, arguing that this will support self-determination and transformational change across all aspects of government and public policy.

According to the NHLF, strengths-based, Indigenous-led and driven responses to intergenerational trauma must include a reckoning with history, and an acknowledgment that time’s up for a status quo built on racism and discrimination. “We won’t get transformational change across the health sector until we eliminate racism from the health sector,” explained former CEO of Australian Indigenous Doctors Association and NHLF chair Monica Barolits-McCabe, a Kungarakan woman from Darwin. “I think the real progress journey is just starting.”

To view the Croakey Health Media article As a new Government sets to work, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health leaders call for transformational change in full click here.

Image source: Jobs & Skills WA.

Vision for more equitable healthcare

Growing up in a rural hotel as the son of a nurse, a young Kamilaroi boy called Brad Murphy spent his Saturday nights patching up patrons after brawls and tending to weary travellers as they spun him a yarn. In those formative years, he discovered both an aptitude for providing care and a love of stories that would cement his future. “I am a storyteller,” said Murphy, who works as a GP in the regional Queensland city of Bundaberg and is making an historic tilt at the presidency of the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP). If elected, Murphy will be the first Indigenous person to hold the role and the first Indigenous president of an Australian medical college.

Gunnedah-born Murphy will be the first to admit he took the road less travelled into medicine, a circuitous journey subverted by racism and the tyranny of low expectations, and fuelled by a love for Country and community. He dreamed of being a doctor, but left school in Year 10 after a maths teacher told him he “wouldn’t amount to anything” and should pursue an apprenticeship. He joined the Navy when he was just 15, and after leaving the Navy became an intensive care paramedic. Years later he was one of five Aboriginal students in the first cohort of medical students at the James Cook University. Murphy was among the two that graduated, relishing the course’s focus on rural, remote, Indigenous and tropical health.

“I worked myself into the ground. I was getting by on sort of two to four hours sleep a day, and after three weeks you just couldn’t string a sentence together,” said Murphy of the “terribly unsafe” working conditions, which culminated in him running off the road and narrowly missing a tree. “Small country town medicine, it’s so hard when the system doesn’t support you.” As someone who has lived the challenges of a remote posting, Murphy is passionate about doctors in training who are sent to rural areas to fulfil their clinical obligations.

To read the Croakey Health Media article Profiling Dr Brad Murphy and a vision for more equitable healthcare in full click here.

Dr Brad Murphy. Image source: Bundaberg Now.

Colleges commit to cultural education

Earlier this month senior representatives from the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) and the Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine (ACRRM) met in Melbourne with the GP Training Cultural Educators and Cultural Mentors Network (CECM Network) Governance group. The meeting was a timely opportunity for both colleges to engage with leaders in the field of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health training and recognises their critical importance to the delivery of the Australian General Practice Training (AGPT) program and the colleges’ long-term commitment to improving health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

The ACRRM and the RACGP said the recognise that all community members, in particular our disadvantaged and vulnerable communities, are deserving of care that is culturally appropriate, safe and high quality. Nationally, Cultural Educators and Cultural Mentors shape the capability of our next generation of General Practitioners and Rural Generalists to meet those needs through the unique cultural knowledge, experience and skills they share through the AGPT program. To this end, the RACGP and ACRRM have committed to continuing the agreed current Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Training Strategic Plan strategies for 2023.

To view the medianet. article Joint college commitment to continue the critical role Cultural Educators and Cultural Mentors play in GP training in full click here.

Clinical Yarning eLearning program

The WA Centre of Rural Health of The University of WA has announced the launch of the Clinical Yarning eLearning program. Effective communication between clinicians and patients is the foundation to high quality health care however unfortunately, ineffective communication is common when there are cultural and language differences between clinicians and patients.

Clinical Yarning is a framework to assist clinicians improve the effectiveness of their communication in Aboriginal health care. The framework looks to improve the quality and cultural security of care for Aboriginal patients and their families. The Clinical Yarning eLearning program was developed as a resource to improve the effectiveness of communication of health care clinicians who work with Aboriginal patients, by using the Clinical Yarning model.

The online course is available to health science students and health care providers and is around two hours long, with the opportunity to stop and start progress throughout the course at your own pace. By completing the survey at the end of the course, it’s possible to download a Course Completion Certificate.

To view The University of WA article Clinical Yarning eLearning program to improve communication in Aboriginal health care in full click here and to access the Clinical Yarning website click here.

Racial discrimination and the right to health

Yesterday the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination held a day of general discussion on its proposed general recommendation on racial discrimination and the right to health. The day was comprised of three panel discussions focusing on racial discrimination in health as experienced by individuals and groups; legal obligations regarding the prohibition of racial discrimination and the right to health under international human rights law; and monitoring, accountability and redress for racial discrimination in the right to health.

It was noted that Indigenous peoples were victims of collective trauma and inequitable services since the time of colonialism. Indigenous peoples required greater healthcare services, had worse health, and had greater difficulty accessing quality health services, compared to non-indigenous people. It was vital for disaggregated data on indigenous and ethnic minorities to be collected, to ensure that equal access to healthcare services could be provided, and to eliminate all forms of discrimination. Indigenous peoples had proved to be one of the most marginalised groups during the pandemic. Lack of information in indigenous languages and lack of respect for the culture impacted indigenous peoples from being able to access health services. The vaccination of indigenous peoples was not guaranteed, and was often carried out without consulting the local populations, resulting in their reluctance to be vaccinated. In many countries across the world, business activities had directly impacted the right to health for indigenous peoples.

To read The National Tribune article Committee on Elimination of Racial Discrimination Holds Day of General Discussion on its Proposed General Recommendation on Racial Discrimination and the Right to Health in full click here.

Image source: RACGP.

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: Education as important as the Voice

Image in the feature tile is of Pat Turner, NACCHO CEO and the co-chair of the Joint Council on Closing the Gap. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen. Image source: The Sydney Morning Herald, 28 July 2022.

Education as important at the Voice

A worsening rate of Aboriginal children who are developmentally ready for school shows the federal government should devote the same “vigour and commitment” to challenges such as education as it does to legislating a Voice to parliament, according to Pat Turner. Turner, who is one of Australia’s most prominent Indigenous leaders, said education was failing Indigenous children “across the board” and needed a complete review in partnership with Aboriginal leaders.

“The government needs to pursue the National Agreement [on closing the Gap] with the same vigour and commitment that they gave to the Voice. The Voice is easier to talk about than Closing the Gap. We need to do both.”

To view The Sydney Morning Herald article Education as important as Voice to parliament, says Aboriginal leader in full click here.

Dujan Hoosan in Maya Newell’s documentary In My Blood It Runs. Image source: BBC News.

Lowitja O’Donoghue, powerful, unrelenting

The country’s only national First Nations health research centre, the Lowitja Institute, has honoured the enduring the legacy of their patron and namesake by launching the Lowitja O’Donoghue Foundation. Announced on the occasion of Dr O’Donoghue’s 90th birthday, the foundation will “acknowledge, recognise and preserve” the extraordinary legacy of the Pitjantjatjara woman’s work.

“Dr Lowitja O’Donoghue has dedicated a lifetime to upholding Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander rights to improve outcomes in health, education, political representation, land rights and reconciliation,” said Chair of Lowitja Institute, Selwyn Button. The Lowitja O’Donoghue Foundation Scholarships will be awarded to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people interested in study, internship, and a career in nursing and the public service sector.

To view the SBS NITV article ‘Powerful and unrelenting’ Lowitja O’Donoghue’s legacy honoured on 90th birthday in full click here.

Dr Lowitja O’Donoghue visiting Off the Walls aboriginal exhibition at the National Museum in Canberra, 27 October 2011. Photo: AAP. Image source: SBS NITV.

Closure of health hub devastating

A social enterprise hub providing health and wellbeing services for Indigenous people in Sydney has suddenly closed, one month after the site was divested from the Indigenous Land and Sea Corporation (ILSC) to the NSW Aboriginal Land Council. The decision to shut the National Centre for Indigenous Excellence (NCIE) came after the ILSC failed to reach an agreement with the land council on the Redfern hub’s future, the recently appointed CEO of the NCIE, Jasmine Ryan, said.

“Everyone is being made redundant,” Ryan said. “We have a very large number of First Nations staff here and many of the people grew up in this community, it’s devastating.” The NCIE opened in 2006 and offers sport, fitness, conferences and community classes including tutoring and educational support. It employs approximately 50, mostly Indigenous, people.

“We have so much community coming through the doors that use the centre, Indigenous and non-Indigenous people – everyone is welcome,” Ryan said. “It’s a place that people could come and feel safe in what has been just a rapidly changing community of Redfern.”

To read The Guardian article ‘It’s devastating’: Redfern’s National Centre of Indigenous Excellence to close after negotiations fail in full click here.

Image source: National Centre of Indigenous Excellence website.

Crisis in rural healthcare

A crisis in rural healthcare – driven by funding and training models that are no longer fit for purpose and driven to breaking point by a looming exodus of medical professionals amid the pressures of the COVID-19 pandemic – will take centre stage this week at the National Rural Health Conference in Brisbane. Some seven million Australians, roughly one-third of the populace, live in rural and remote areas, and they experience higher rates of hospitalisation, injury and early mortality compared to their urban counterparts, according to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.

Workforce issues, including what new Federal Health and Aged Care Minister Mark Butler recently described as a “crisis” in Australian primary care, will feature prominently, as will models of care, with the National Rural Health Alliance (NRHA) lobbying the new Albanese Labor government to fund a trial of its RACCHO initiative. Rural Area Community Controlled Health Organisations, or RACCHOs, are inspired by and based on the world-leading and renowned ACCHO model in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and comprise “place-based health and wellbeing networks” owned and controlled by local communities.

“We know that the NACCHO model with wraparound services is a good one, and we know that it is supported by this block funding that allows them to be sustainable over time, and to remain flexible to local need, because no two towns are the same,” explained O’Kane.

To view the Croakey Health Media article Innovation, collaboration and bridge-making: national conference to put a timely focus on rural health in full click here.

Tharawal Dental Clinic, Airds, NSW. Image source: Tharawal Aboriginal Corporation website.

Faye McMillan – Pharmacist of the Year

Dr Faye McMillan, Australia’s first registered Indigenous pharmacist, has been named 2022 Australian Pharmacist of the Year. Accepting the accolade, Dr McMillan said it was an “honour to be recognised by my peers as the pharmacist of the year for the work I do. I don’t do it for recognition, but it can offer moments to give you that extra push to keep going.” She also acknowledged those who have been by her side along the way.

Dr McMillan said she was proud to elevate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and the strength of the community’s culture and hopes the accolade will help “challenge perceptions of what Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the community have the potential to be.”

Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (PSA) national president Dr Fei Sim praised Dr McMillan’s “remarkable career as a pharmacist,” and her work within Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. “Faye has had a great impact on the health of Indigenous Australians as well as the pharmacy profession more broadly,” she said. “I cannot think of a pharmacist more deserving of this award.”

To view The Daily Advertiser article Coolamon chemist Faye McMillan named “Pharmacist of the Year” for her “remarkable career” in full click here.

Coolamon pharmacist Dr Faye McMillan has been named Australian Pharmacist of the Year. Photo: Les Smith. Image source: The Daily Advertiser.

Health Minister addresses AMA Conference

Minister for Health and Aged Care, the Hon Mark Butler MP recently spoke at the Australian Medical Association (AMA) National Conference. Minister Butler said “This week the Closing the Gap Report continued to remind us of the large gap in health outcomes and life expectancy between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians. I’m very proud to be a Minister of a Government that is committed to implement the Uluru Statement from the Heart in full.”

Minister Butler said the advocacy and advice of the AMA had helped shape Labor policy “which brought about $5.5 billion of new commitments in the health and the aged care portfolio.” Minister Butler went on to speak about the Omicron wave this year and how he wants to bring new energy to some of the elements of the pandemic response, including a really strong public information campaign to lift vaccination rates, expanding the eligibility criteria for antivirals and ensuring the availability of phone consultations for the elderly to obtain antiviral scripts.

To read Minister Butler’s Address to the Australian Medical Association National Conference – 30 July 2022 in full click here.

Image sources: AMA website and Department of Health.

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.

Dental Health Week

Dental Health Week (DHW) is the Australian Dental Association’s (ADA) major annual oral health campaign. It takes place each year in the first full week of August. In 2022, DHW runs from 1 to 7 August.

The campaign focuses on the importance of taking steps to care for your teeth and gums to help you to keep your teeth and smile for life, using four key messages which aim to reinforce the importance of good oral health:

A range of specific First Nations oral health resources (including the video below) and articles which feature Indigenous artwork commissioned by the ADA are available here. The resources were developed by Dental Health Services Victoria together with artist Madison Connors, a proud and strong Yorta Yorta (Wolithica),Dja Dja Wurrung and Kamilaroi woman and mother to two boorais.

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Must know shape The Voice will take

Image in feature tile from The Conversation.

Must know shape The Voice will take

Last night NACCHO CEO, Coalition of Peaks Lead Convenor and Co-Chair of the Joint Council on Closing the Gap Pat Turner AM spoke to Narelda Jacobs and John Paul Janke on NITV The Point. The presenters  introduced the interview saying that while the while Uluru Statement from the Heart with its enshrined Voice to Parliament was one a big agenda item for the new federal government and the PM had this week renewed his vow to push ahead with the Voice to Parliament without or without the Coalition’s support, questions remain on how to move forward.

Ms Turner, who has a long history of being involved in constitutional conventions, including being a Board member of the Constitutional Centenary Foundation, said she always imagined that when it cam time to amend the constitution there would be a clear understanding of what shape the amendment would take.

You can view Episode 20 The Point, Season 2022 including Pat Turner’s interview from 1:50-6:51 minutes  here.

APO NT welcome NT Treaty Commission report

Aboriginal Peak Organisations NT (APO NT) is proud to recognise the significant achievement of the NT’s Treaty Commission on the public release of its Final Report. “First Nations across the NT can boast a long and proud history of calling for recognition, truth, justice and self-determination for our people,” said AMSANT CEO, John Paterson.

“From Gwalwa Daraniki, to the Yirrkala Bark Petitions, to the Barunga Statement, to the Wave Hill walk off- all our calls for control of our own affairs are at the heart of our work here at APO NT. Treaty is the obvious next step. We call on Chief Minister Natasha Fyles, Minster for Treaty, Selena Uibo, and the whole NT Government to support the recommendations in the report.”

To view the APO NT media release APO NT celebrates the public release of the NT Treaty Commission’s Final Report, and support its calls for Truth and Treaty in full click here.

Hon Selena Uibo, NT Minister for Treaty and Local Decision-Making with the Treaty Commission Final Report. Image source: Katherine Times.

National report on ear and hearing health

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) has released an inaugural national report on the ear and hearing health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and adults. Indigenous Australians experience excessive rates of ear and hearing problems which can have profound impacts on overall health and quality of life. The AIHW report brings together information on the prevalence of ear and hearing problems among Indigenous Australians along with insights on key protective and risk factors.

To view the AIHW citation for the Ear and hearing health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people report released on 29 June 2022 in full click here.

Image source: NHMRC website.

Stan Grant on building Aboriginal workforce

Esteemed Journalist Stan Grant has supported discussions around how to bolster the representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders in the Western Sydney Local Health District (WSLHD). Amid a panel chat facilitated by Stan at Blacktown Hospital, the WSLHD launched its Aboriginal Workforce Plan on 27 June 2022.

Stan said discussions like these are critical because “if you don’t hear the voices, if you don’t know who you’re talking to, you can’t possibly devise a strategy to meet their needs. It’s about building an overall relationship with the communities and creating opportunities for people to enter into the workforce, stay in the organisations and to have those pathways to feel integrated.”

To view The Pulse article Stan Grant on strengthening Aboriginal workforces in western Sydney in full click here.

Stan Grant. Image source: Griffith News, Griffith University.

Near-miss Award for hepatitis C research

Implementation Science Group Co-Head, and Coordinator of EC Australia, Dr Alisa Pedrana is one of 11 recipients of an exciting new award, The Victorian Near-miss Award Pilot. The award aims to support the retention and development of outstanding emerging researchers and future leaders from groups facing systematic barriers to success, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. The Victorian Near-miss Award Pilot addresses disadvantage by supporting the best eligible but unfunded Victorian applicants from these groups at the 2021 NHMRC Emerging Leader level 2 scheme.

Each award is valued at $74,000 and is matched with a cash contribution of the same value from the recipient’s primary employer. Dr Pedrana said the award would support her work on two projects focused on the elimination of hepatitis C in Australia – a partnership with Bulgarr Ngaru Medical Aboriginal Coroporation (BNMAC) in northern NSW to develop campaigns for hepatitis C testing; and the evaluation of a same-day hepatitis C test-and-treat model in Cairns.

You can access the Burnet Institute article Near-miss boost for hepatitis research in full click here and a related article ACCHO Leads Hepatitis C Elimination Effort on the BNMAC website here.

BNMAC hep c testing. Image source BNMAC website. Dr Alisa Pedrana. Image source; Burnet Institute website.

Funding needed for bush health access

Dr Ross Maxwell, Chair of Health Workforce Queensland says the government needs to commit real funding to help remote and rural communities with access to doctors and health workforce when and where they need them, both now and into the future.

“There is currently too much stress on existing GP, allied health and Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services. Many services are considered to be unsustainable from financial and workforce perspectives. Solutions will involve additional workforce and innovative service delivery models fully supported by enhanced funding. It is a time for genuine partnership in remote and rural communities and it has never been more important to work collaboratively at the local, state and federal levels to address these health workforce and health service challenges”.

To view the Mirage article Funding Reform Required for GP & Allied Health Practices in full click here.

Image source: Medical Journal of Australia.

Noongar elders’ fight for recognition

In 2015, an Indigenous-led protest against state government plans to shut down a number of remote Aboriginal communities in WA spawned a tent embassy and “refugee camp” on an island in Perth’s Swan River. After weeks of tension, police and council rangers moved in to forcibly shut down the Heirisson Island (Matagarup) camp and remove the protesters  from the island.

But in the wake of the closure, the City of Perth Council realised it needed to apologise and embark on a process of reconciliation to make Noongar people feel safe and welcome in the city. So it hosted a series of meetings. The meetings have led to an unexpected legacy project documenting the stories of the Noongar people’s fight for recognition. A short film, podcast and book have been published that tells the journey of the Noongar through first-hand stories.

To view the ABC News article Noongar Aboriginal elders’ fight for recognition documented in podcast, short film and book in full 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: Save money on medicines, register for CTG scripts

Save money on medicines, register for CTG scripts

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.

Download this poster that you can put up at your services here and images for Facebook/Twitter here and Instagram here.

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

200+ years of injustice – is redress likely?

Opinion columnist David Fickling leads a recent article with ‘Talk is easy. Political change is hard. In Australia, it’s more than two centuries overdue.’ He goes on to write: ‘Claiming victory in last month’s election, new PM Anthony Albanese’s first words were a vow to redress the unfinished business from the colonial invasion of 1788. His promise to “commit to the Uluru Statement from the Heart” — a set of political demands from Indigenous groups, first outlined in 2017 — puts Australia on the path to the most substantive constitutional change it’s seen in more than half a century. If the resulting referendum succeeds, the country may wind up with a new First Nations elected chamber, an array of treaties with state and federal governments, and a truth and reconciliation commission.

Adopting the Uluru Statement would ensure Indigenous people are “given a seat at the decision-making table where it comes to laws and policies that affect us,” Dani Larkin, a legal lecturer at the University of New South Wales and Bundjalung and Kungarykany woman. Megan Davis, a Cobble Cobble woman and constitutional lawyer instrumental in the drafting of the Uluru Statement, wrote in a 2015 essay on the halting process of reform saying  “Public policy no longer requires the imprimatur of the Aboriginal people; Aboriginal participation in the decisions taken about their lives is negligible.”

To view the The Print article How Australia is likely to redress two centuries of injustice towards indigenous groups in full click here.

Photo: Luas Cosh, AAP. Image source: The Guardian.

Coonamble ACCHO needs a dentist

The Coonamble Dental Surgery remains without a resident dentist and the Coonamble Aboriginal Health Service (CAHS) says that the hole left by the departure of the last dentist is a problem for the whole community. “The previous dentist left in December for bigger and better things,” said CAHS CEO Phil Naden. “That left us in a challenging position to recruit a permanent dentist and we’ve been relying on locum dentists since before Christmas.”

According to Mr Naden, CAHS have been pulling out all stops to find a new permanent dentist and the package on offer is very competitive, “We’ve tried every avenue we can think off over the last 6 months to make it as attractive as possible in competition with other areas, but we are challenged with recruiting a full time dentist. While it is CAHS’ responsibility to recruit a dentist, ensuring that the service continues, oral health is closely linked to chronic disease and if we can’t have treatment locally the matter is a community issue and we need some longer term solutions.”

To view the Coonamble Times article Dentist vacancy starting to bite article in full click here.

CAHS Executive Assistant Beau Ewers with one of the chairs at Coonamble Dental Surgery in need of an on-site dentist. Image source: The Coonamble Times.

‘Go Rural’ program inspires medical students

The Rural Doctors Network (RDN) recently took 20 medical, nursing and allied health students on a number of immersive excursions to GP clinics, hospitals and multipurpose services. The trip’s western region leg spanned from Dubbo to Nyngan, Cobar, and Wilcannia. Research published in the Medical Journal of Australia showed rural exposure during medical training was key to getting medical students to consider leaving capital cities for the bush after graduation.

A massive part of that effort is educating, familiarising future healthcare workers with the unique healthcare needs Aboriginal people living regionally. RDN Future Workforce Manager Chris Russell said communicating the importance of Aboriginal Medical Services, and the role they played in the whole community, was best done in person. “It allows [students] to get some insight into Aboriginal culture and people and the specific healthcare needs they have,” he said.

To view the ABC News article Rural road trip gives health students a taste of life and work in western NSW amid staff shortage in full click here.

The students toured Dubbo Base Hospital as part of the Rural Doctors Network ‘Go Rural’ program.Photo supplied by the NSW Rural Doctors Network. Image source: ABC News.

Public drunkenness health-based response

The Andrews Labor Government is ensuring the right programs and systems are in place to help people who are drunk in public get the support they need to stay safe. Minister for Health Martin Foley today announced $50 million over two years to continue the trial site operations that will help develop a health-based response to public drunkenness ahead of the state-wide rollout of the reforms.

Four trial sites will begin operating in the City of Yarra, City of Greater Dandenong, City of Greater Shepparton and Castlemaine from mid-year onwards and be managed in partnership with local health services and Aboriginal organisations. These trials will inform how a new public health model will be rolled out across the state. The investment will provide outreach services in all four trial locations and sobering facilities in Yarra, Dandenong and Shepparton – ensuring intoxicated people are transported to a safe place where they can receive appropriate support.

To read the Victorian Health Minister’s media release Delivering a Health-Based Response to Public Drunkenness click here.

Family of Tanya Day – a mother, grandmother and proud Yorta Yorta woman – who died in a holding cell after being arrested for public drunkenness. Photo: Nicole Asher, ABC News.

Nominate a mental health hero

With the pressures of COVID-19 restrictions, followed by the current cost of living crisis, the work of mental health professionals has rarely been so important. Now is the time to put them in the spotlight and recognise the amazing work they do in communities across Australia. On Tuesday 14 June 2022, nominations will open for the Australian Mental Health Prize, which seeks to recognise the important and ground-breaking work that many Australians do in this area.

This year, the prize has expanded to accept nominations in four categories:

  • Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander: To recognise and celebrate outstanding Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander mental health leadership at a national or community level;
  • Lived experience: To recognise and celebrate outstanding mental health leadership by someone with lived experience of mental health, either personally or as a supporter, at a national level;
  • Professional: To recognise and celebrate outstanding mental health leadership in the clinical, academic or professional sectors at a national level; and
  • Community hero: To recognise and celebrate outstanding mental health leadership at a state or community level.

Henry Brodaty, Professor of Ageing and Mental Health at UNSW, said “While we will continue to recognise people who have dedicated their lives to improving the mental health of Australians, we specifically wanted to shine a light on the incredible work of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mental health leaders. People with lived experience have so much insight and wisdom to share. We also wanted to recognise our community heroes, as a great deal of innovative work begins at a grass-roots level in local communities.”

You can nominate a deserving Seymour and district-based mental health professional by visiting the UNSW Sydney Australian Mental Health Prize webpage here.

You can view the Kyabram Free Press article Honouring Seymour’s mental health heroes in full here.

Suicide prevention consultation in Balgo community, WA. Photo supplied by KAMS. Image source: NIT website.

Healing Circle facilitator training program

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit in 2020, causing shockwaves of isolation and trauma throughout Australia, Kultchafi Managing Director Ara ‘Julga’ Harathunian made a commitment to support the healing of individuals and communities right across the nation. Two years later, an innovative and ground-breaking Healing Circle Work Facilitator Training program has been officially launched. The training will be showcased again at the National Rural Health Alliance’s 16th National Rural Health Conference in August and at the 23rd International Mental Health Conference being held by the Australian and NZ Mental Health Association (ANZMA) in September.

“My wife, Aboriginal Elder Aunty Cheri ‘Yingaa’ Yavu-Kama-Harathunian, devoted her life to the development of Healing Circle Work right up until her passing in December 2019. We had always committed to share this work for the highest good of others,” says Ara. “Healing Circle Work is not a therapy, but therapeutic outcomes are experienced. It is a healing process based on an ancient Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander methodology. Participants learn to live life in the moment, recognising and understanding their own spirituality, and reaffirming themselves. It is suitable for any trauma, and for Indigenous and non-Indigenous men and women.”

To view the Partyline article Kultchafi healing training rolls out across Australia in full click here and the Kultchafi website page 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: Health Minister’s to-do list is packed

Note: the mage in the feature tile is of Winston, a traditional owner, land manager, artist and Aboriginal Health Worker from Blackstone (Papulankutja) community in the Ngaanyatjarra Lands of WA, who was first diagnosed at Kings Canyon during an outreach screening service for Aboriginal rangers. His dense cataract caused him to go blind in his left eye, which he kept shut to keep out the painful glare. Image source: The Fred Hollows Foundation website.

Health Minister’s to-do list is packed

Dr Tim Woodruff, a specialist working in private practice, has written an article for Croakey Health Media arguing that when it comes to delivering better healthcare and better health for Australians, the new Federal Government has a lot of work to do. Dr Woodruff  says the government’s intention to review the NDIS is desperately needed, and if improvements introduced are the right ones, this will also help public hospitals by limiting unnecessary admissions and time in hospitals. It will also make primary healthcare for those with disability much easier to access and co-ordinate.”

Dr Woodruff goes on to note that “Primary healthcare is in increasing disarray. The GP workforce is aging and unable to provide adequate timely access. Co-ordination of care is chaotic even when access to the spectrum of care is available. Primary Health Networks are improving but have quite limited capacity, and fee for service funding is inappropriate for chronic disease.”

Dr Woodruff points out that ACCHOs and 80 Community Health Centres in Victoria who have demonstrated the success of different models of primary healthcare provision need to be supported and expanded. Co-ordination and integration are key elements for these services, rather than optional add-ons as they often are in standard GP-led practices, and primary prevention is an integral part of such practices.

To view the Croakey Health Media article Memo to Minister Mark Butler and colleagues: your to-do list is packed in full click here.

Image source: Croaky Health Media.

Labor’s Indigenous affairs agenda

Alongside reforms in Indigenous health, housing, welfare and the justice system, Labor is committing to a referendum on the voice to parliament in their first term of government, all spearheaded by the first Aboriginal woman in cabinet – the new Minister for Indigenous Australians, Linda Burney.

Guardian Australia’s Indigenous affairs editor, Lorena Allam, spoke to Linda Burney about how Labor intends to keep these promises in a podcast available here.

Linda Burney. Phto: Blake Sharp-Wiggins, The Guardian.

Pat Dodson on the Uluru Statement

Yawuru man Patrick Dodson has been at the forefront of change for much of his life. Well-known for his role at the helm of the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation in the 1990s, the Broome-based Labor Senator has also played significant roles in the fields of Aboriginal deaths in custody, native title and research. In 2019 he was widely tipped to become Australia’s first Aboriginal Federal Indigenous affairs minister before a shock result delivered the election to the Liberals and Ken Wyatt was elevated to the job.

Now, finally part of a government in office, Mr Dodson has been appointed a new role as Special Envoy for Reconciliation and the Implementation of the Uluru Statement. From the Heart campaign director Dean Parkin said Mr Dodson’s appointment was well-deserved, “having his wisdom, experience and expertise involved in this in a very direct way is a great development and hugely encouraging for our prospects of success.” Mr Parkin, who is of the Quandamooka peoples of Minjerribah (North Stradbroke Island) in Queensland, said Indigenous-led decision making was vital to making progress. “A voice to parliament making sure people from those communities are sitting at the table advising the politics and the bureaucrats is the best way to make progress in Closing The Gap,” he said.

To view the National Indigenous Times article Father of reconciliation Pat Dodson turns eye to Uluru Statement in new role in full click here.

Senator Pat Dodson. Image source: National Indigenous Times.

Mob in city for medical care risk homelessness

Aboriginal people from regional WA visiting Perth for medical care are at risk of homelessness and relying on aged care facilities for accommodation in the city, a parliamentary inquiry has heard. During a recent inquiry into the financial administration of homelessness services in WA, Moorditj Koort Aboriginal Corporation told the panel chaired by Liberal MLC Peter Collier there was a “terrible increase” in individuals and families facing homelessness.

Moorditj Koort deputy chief executive Annie Young said at least one in every 10 clients was at risk of or already of homeless. “We have people with other issues including justice issues, they are involved with the Department of Child Protection, there are compounding issues as well,” she said. Ms Young said rental stress was acute for those accessing Centrelink and on low incomes. She encouraged the inquiry to also examine overcrowding and its impact on health of residents.

To read the National Indigenous Times article Aboriginal people visiting Perth for healthcare forced to rely on aged care system, inquiry told in full click here.

Raymond Ward (right) talks with Freddie in his shelter which he shares with up to six other people at the Tent City homeless camp in Perth. Image source: Daily Mail Australia.

Top 3 questions – flu vax and pregnancy

Chief Nursing and Midwifery Officer, Professor Alison McMillan has given a presentation on why it’s important for women to get the flu vaccine when they are pregnant. In the presentation Professor McMillan answers the following questions:

  • Is it safe for women to receive a flu vaccination at any stage of their pregnancy?
  • What potential adverse reactions should pregnant women be aware of following the flu vaccination?
  • Does getting the flu vaccination while pregnant protect unborn babies from flu?

For further information you can access the Australian Government Department of Health’s webpage Top 3 questions – Flu vaccination & pregnancy with Professor Alison McMillan here.

Clinical Yarning program about trust

Clinical Yarning — a Mid West-led approach to build more trusting relationships between patients and clinicians — is set to keep spreading the word after receiving a funding injection. The research program, a patient-centred healthcare framework that marries Aboriginal cultural communication preferences with biomedical understandings of health and disease, will receive a share of $2.3 million in funding after being awarded an Implementation Science Fellowship.

Dr Ivan Lin, senior lecturer at the Geraldton-based WA Centre for Rural Health (WACRH), which is part of the University of WA, was one of four recipients of the fellowship, which are conducted in partnership with the WA Country Health Service (WACHS). “(Clinical Yarning is) designed to address long identified issues reported by Aboriginal people when accessing health services, by improving health providers communication with these communities,” Dr Lin said.

To view the Sound Telegraph article Mid West-led Clinical Yarning program receives State Government funding boost thanks to fellowship in full click here. You can also view Professor Dawn Bessarab in the video below introducing the Clinical Yarning eLearning Program.

Jimmy Little’s early death to kidney disease

Dr James “Jimmy” Oswald Little AO was born on 1 March 1937. The eldest of seven children, he was raised on Cummeragunja Mission Station on the Murray River. The Yorta Yorta/Yuin man first picked up a guitar at 13, taking to it quickly he was playing local concerts in just a year. In 1955 he took the leap and moved to Sydney, pursuing a country music career. By 1956, he had signed to Regal Zonophone Records and recorded his first single Mysteries of Life/Hearbreak Waltz.

In 1963, Little hit the big time with his cover of gospel song Royal Telephone which hit #1 Sydney and #3 in Melbourne. Its success made history, being the first song by an Indigenous artist to hit the mainstream. Little was hitting his stride at a time when his people weren’t counted as citizens. In 1989, Little received the National Aboriginal Day of Observance Committee’s Aboriginal of the Year award, in 2002 he was named NSW Senior Australian of the Year, and in 2004 he was the recipient of the Australia Council Red Ochre Award. The same year he received an Order of Australia for his health and education advocacy and was recognised as a “living Australian treasure” via public vote.

In 1990, Little was diagnosed with kidney disease which led to kidney failure and Type II diabetes. In 2006 he established The Jimmy Little Foundation. “Unfortunately, I didn’t get check-ups often enough or soon enough to realise the possibility that my kidneys could fail,” he said. “I have seen too much fear and sadness caused by the early death and suffering from potentially preventable chronic illnesses by my Indigenous brothers and sisters. “I started The Jimmy Little Foundation to do something positive to curb the rate of chronic disease.” On April 2, 2012 Little died at Dubbo home, aged 75.

To view the NITV article Google pays homage to Indigenous music icon, Jimmy Little in full click here.

Dixon Patten’s Jimmy Little dedicated graphic for Google. Image source: SBS NITV 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: Uluru Statement from the Heart explained

The image in the feature tile is from the From the Heart website.

Uluru Statement from the Heart explained

The Uluru Statement from the Heart is an invitation to the Australian people from First Nations Australians. It asks Australians to walk together to build a better future. In Anthony Albanese’s victory speech as Australia’s 31st Prime Minister, he vowed that Labor will commit ‘in full’ to the Uluru Statement and that he will hold a referendum during his first term. But what does this commitment really mean? As a proud Wiradjuri and Wailwan woman, lawyer and the University of Sydney’s inaugural First Nations Lawyer-in-Residence, Teela Reid examines the hard questions that cut to the legitimacy of our democracy. Why are we a nation that has not yet recognised the First People, and what can we do to take action?

Ahead of National Reconciliation Week and on the eve of the fifth anniversary of the Uluru Statement from the Heart, Teela Reid will discuss truth and reckoning in conversation with University of Sydney alumna Billi FitzSimons, Editor of The Daily Aus this evening, Wednesday 25 May from 6:00PM–7:00PM (in-person and live streamed).

To view the University of Sydney Media Alert in full click here. and to attend the event register here.

Teela Reid, proud Wiradjuri and Wailwan woman, lawyer and the University of Sydney’s inaugural First Nation’s Practitioner-in-Residence.

Child protection overrepresentation continues

Preceding Reconciliation Week, National Sorry Day is held on 26 May and acknowledges the history of the stolen generation. For Dr Mishel McMahon, Yorta Yorta woman and LaTrobe University Aboriginal Rural Health coordinator in Bendigo, National Sorry Day is a very personal occasion.

“Sorry Day is a National Day of Remembrance for all Australians to commemorate the loss of children stolen from families through years of government policies creating the stolen generations,” Dr McMahon said. “My great-grandfather and his sister were removed (from our family) when he was a baby and my auntie was maybe four or five. Even in my grandmother’s and my mother’s generation, there was the whole thing of not being able to talk about being Aboriginal. I’m probably the first generation that doesn’t experience backlash if I stand proud as Aboriginal.”

“Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children are eight times more overrepresented in child protection than non-Aboriginal children,” she said. “I know and totally understand there has been a lot of progress, but to some extent, the same reason why my great-grandfather was removed is still informing why Aboriginal children are over represented. There is a lack of understanding of Aboriginal childrearing and First Nation worldviews, and how that informs our family structures and the key principles for how we raise our children. There are many, many issues like trauma, neglect, lack of access to structures like housing and employment. But, definitely an ongoing effect is within the policies and the systems that inform child protection.”

To view the Bendigo Advertiser article Indigenous children continue to be overrepresented in child protection as Bendigo marks National Sorry Day in full click here.

La Trobe University Bendigo staff and students mark National Sorry Day in 2016 with a candlelit Sunset Ceremony, which they will again hold in 2022. Photo: Chris Pedler. Image source: Bendigo Advertiser.

Culturally appropriate housing possible

Culturally appropriate housing need not be more expensive, but some basic steps in the design process go a long way to ensuring residents’ satisfaction and comfort, argues Hannah Robertson from ArchitectureAU. Government dictates how housing is built in Indigenous communities. With incomes in these communities remaining low and private home ownership tenure on Aboriginal land being rare, this process is unlikely to change in the near future. “Indigenous community housing” refers to government-provided housing in Indigenous communities located on township leases on Aboriginal land.

In the last 50 years, governments have taken many approaches to Indigenous community housing, with both successes and failures. Typically, however, standard one-size-fits-all houses are rolled out in short-term programs with the argument that they are cost-effective and ensure fast delivery to address the chronic overcrowding issues faced in many Indigenous communities. While some current initiatives, such as the NT Government’s Room to Breathe program, aim to retrofit existing housing to be more inclusive and better meet the needs of residents, the benefits of designing-in a level of inclusivity, flexibility and longevity at the outset of construction to ensure better, more sustainable outcomes for residents continue to be overlooked.

To view the ArchitectureAU article Indigenizing practice: Inclusive Indigenous community housing in full click here.

The open-plan living and kitchen area in the standard government-issue house provided no separation of spaces to observe avoidance relationships. Photo: Hannah Robertson. Image source: ArchitectureAU.

Innovative approaches to health care

Four new innovative approaches to health care for testing, diagnosis and treatment of patients with a range of health conditions have been announced by the WA Minister for Medical Research Stephen Dawson. Mr Dawson said the program with Translation Fellowships was funded from the Future Health Research and Innovation Fund which supported health and medical research as well as innovation and commercialisation.

Mr Dawson said the program supported translational research in two streams: Aboriginal health and country and regional WA health, “It’s exciting to see the vision of these researchers and their passion to improve health care for Western Australians living in regional and remote areas of our vast State. A key feature of these projects is relationship-building within various Aboriginal communities to support healthy lifestyles.”

He said the four initiatives funded to Translation Fellowships had the potential to result in new approaches to health promotion and health care. The Minister said the three-year projects were to work on Aboriginal children skin infections, Aboriginal people life expectancy, Infectious diseases in the country and regions, and Aboriginal women with prediabetes in pregnancy.

To view the psnews.com.au article Health care tests just what the doctor ordered in full click here.

Image source: RACGP webiste.

Climate change – dramatic health threat

Climate change is having a range of impacts on health today that will become more severe unless urgent action is taken. Vulnerable populations will see their health increasingly undermined by both direct impacts, such as from extreme heat, and indirect ones, e.g. from reduced food and nutrition security. To produce science-based analysis and recommendations on a global scale, outstanding scientists from around the world – brought together by the world’s science academies under the umbrella of the InterAcademy Partnership (IAP) – have teamed up to collect and evaluate relevant evidence. The three-year project involving well over 80 experts from all world regions also examined a number of climate mitigation and adaptation actions that could bring significant improvements to health and health equity.

The new report Health in the climate emergency – a global perspective, launched by the IAP examines how the climate crisis is affecting health worldwide and calls for urgent action: “Billions of people are at risk, therefore we call for action against climate change to benefit health and also advance health equity”, says Robin Fears, IAP project coordinator and co-author of the IAP report.

The IAP report stresses that climate change affects the health of all people, but the burden is not distributed evenly or fairly. “We emphasise that health-related adaptation efforts must prioritise Indigenous Peoples, ageing populations, children, women and girls, those living in challenging socioeconomic settings, and geographically vulnerable populations.” Globally, groups that are socially, politically and geographically excluded are at the highest risk of health impacts from climate change, yet they are not adequately represented in the evidence base.

To view IAP press release Climate change threatens people’s health dramatically but solutions are within reach, say the world’s academies in a new report click here.

Part of an Aboriginal town camp on the outskirts of Alice Springs. A study of regional and remote Aboriginal housing has found it is unable to withstand climate change and will be unsuitable for future living. Photo: Helen Davidson. Image source: The Guardian.

Book your flu shot without delay

NSW residents are being urged to book in for their flu vaccine without delay, with winter just a week away and hospitals already seeing a surge in influenza cases. Health Minister Brad Hazzard said NSW hospitals are facing a triple threat with high numbers of COVID-19 cases, a surge in flu cases and staff furloughing due to illness. “NSW Health has been warning us for months of the likelihood of a horror flu season, so please, help yourselves and our health staff and get a flu shot,” Mr Hazzard said. “After two years of COVID, our hospitals do not need the added challenge of avoidable influenza, when flu shots are readily available at GPs and pharmacies. With almost no exposure to flu these past two years, it is imperative we all get a flu jab to protect ourselves and the community.”

You can view the NSW Minister for Health Brad Hazzard’s media release Stay Safe this Winter, Get Your Flu Shot Now in full here

In a related article Doctors Urge Flu Vax Now Queensland’s South Burnett residents have been encouraged to protect themselves against influenza as the cooler months start to set in. After two years of lower-than-average flu infections during the COVID pandemic, flu immunity in the community is now very low. So far this year there have been 39 laboratory confirmed cases of influenza in the Darling Downs Health region. Cherbourg Aboriginal Shire Council reported a number of flu cases in the community and is urging residents to stay home if unwell and for the elderly or vulnerable to wear masks in crowded places.

After two years of reduced flu infections due to COVID lockdowns, flu immunity levels in the community are low and Australia is bracing for a worse-than-normal flu season in 2022. Photo: Darling Downs Health. Image source: south.burnett.com.au.

Indigenous health research opportunity

Centre for Health Equity (Indigenous Health Equity Unit): Research Fellow/Senior Research Fellow, Level B or C, F/T, 4 years fixed-term

Are you an experienced researcher (with a PhD) and a background and understanding of public health and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health, including evidence of translational activities. You will be able to utilise your exceptional communication and presentation skills to liaise with a wide range of stakeholders, including government, service providers, and communities.  The role will include responsibility for managing exciting and innovative programs of research, hence self-motivation, high-level organisation, and sound project management skills will be vital.

You can access further information about the position here and contact Professor Cath Chamberlain if you have any questions using this email link. Applications close:  Monday 30 May 2022.

Professor Catherine Chamberlain, Head of the Indigenous Health Equity Unit, 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.

iSISTAQUIT campaign launch

You are invited to iSISTAQUIT’s World No Tobacco Day launch of our compilation of iSISTAQUIT campaign films that will be available through their new iSISTAQUIT TV. The films showcase the importance of culturally appropriate care and how communication can make an important difference in supporting women to quit smoking.

iSISTAQUIT involves a model of care designed with culturally appropriate and national best practice training informed from previous studies. It provides vital training for health professionals and encouragement to communities and pregnant women to quit smoking. Having culturally thought out approaches with assisting women to quit smoking through a pathway of support, helps Indigenous women navigate health and wellbeing systems safely.

Tune in for the launch from 11:00AM – 12:00PM AEST on Tuesday 31 May 2022. To register for event here.

Image source: ISISTERQUIT website.

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: NACCHO congratulates ALP on election win

Image in the feature tile is of Australian opposition leader Anthony Albanese as he walks off the stage during a reception after winning the 2022 general election in Sydney. Image source: SBS NITV.

NACCHO congratulates ALP on election win

The National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) congratulates the Australian Labor Party for its win in the 2022 Federal election and looks forward to working with the incoming government in continuing to fight for improved outcomes in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health.

In particular, NACCHO welcomes the emphasis that Senator Penny Wong and Prime Minister elect, Anthony Albanese, gave to the Uluru Statement from the Heart in their victory speeches on election night. The Uluru Statement from the Heart sets out the way forward for all Australians in a process of genuine reconciliation. There must be no further delay in implementing a Voice to Parliament for First Nations peoples enshrined in the constitution.

The CEO of NACCHO, Pat Turner, speaking in Canberra, said, ‘NACCHO congratulates Linda Burney for her strong win in Barton. We are looking forward to seeing the first Aboriginal woman serve as Minister for Indigenous Australians and, presumably, in the new Albanese Cabinet.’

NACCHO also congratulates all the elected Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the new Parliament and thanks Ken Wyatt, the outgoing Minister for Indigenous Australians, for his contribution to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander affairs over the past three years.

NACCHO commits to working with the incoming government and the likely new Health Minister, Mark Butler, on the $111m package announced for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health.

The Chair of NACCHO, Donnella Mills, said at Cairns on Sunday, ‘The ALP’s package was a welcome pre-election announcement. It includes the 500 trainees for our ACCHOs and badly needed dialysis clinics. It also includes action in combatting rheumatic heart disease, a preventable disease that is killing so many of our children, needlessly. Our youths are 55 times more likely to die from rheumatic heart disease than other Australian youths. This must stop. The ALP’s funding commitment is a critical step.’

The ACCHO sector serves over 410,000 clients per year, delivering over 3.1 million episodes of care, of which 1 million are delivered in remote communities. Our clinics are favoured by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and are directly controlled by the communities they serve.

You can view the NACCHO congratulates the ALP media statement on NACCHO’s website here.

Image source: The Guardian.

It comes down to working together, differently

When the landmark National Agreement on Closing the Gap was signed in 2020, Pat Turner AM, lead convener of the Coalition of Peaks and CEO of NACCHO called for celebration – and hard work. “Today we celebrate this historic Agreement and those who fought hard to make it a reality,” said Turner, at the time. “But tomorrow, the true work begins when we start to implement its commitments within our communities.”

Tomorrow has well and truly arrived. And so, while we continue to applaud the intent of the agreement between federal, state/territory and local governments, and the Coalition of Peaks; it’s time to get down to work. There’s a shared understanding that working together should look different in 2022. Australian governments have committed to working in new ways with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people so they can achieve self-determination. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, meanwhile, have expressed a desire to work alongside governments to design and implement outcomes that are identified by – and with – Indigenous communities.

This new approach is not about changing Indigenous ways of knowing, being and doing. In fact, it’s about embracing them. This change is about governments and Indigenous communities finding ways to work in the ‘middle space’ together. It’s about collective decision-making and shared accountability. And it’s about common outcomes and positive change. The key, however, will be working differently.

To view the PwC’s Indigenous Consulting article Meeting in the middle: How governments and Indigenous communities can work together, differently published in The Mandarin in full click here.

Image source: The Mandarin.

What now for mob under Labor?

The National Indigenous Times editor, Tom Zaunmayr, has looked at what is in store for Indigenous Australians following Labor’s win in the 2022 Federal election. Zaunmayr says it is good news for First Nations people, as there will be a referendum on a Voice to Parliament enshrined in the constitution by 2025. By putting a nation-changing Indigenous policy front-and-centre of its campaign, Labor showed how serious it is about First Nations issues. The talk has been promising, now it is time for action. Suring up the Voice – how it will look, who will be involved and when the vote will happen is priority number one. Truth and treaty, the other two key elements of the Uluru Statement are as important to get to work on.

Bringing the Federal Government back to the table in funding remote housing is critical, and Labor now needs to follow through. Labor’s campaign policies on justice and deaths in custody were lacklustre and remain a point of concern. The money pledged for remote justice initiatives is chicken feed and is insufficient for one region, let alone the entire nation. The promise to bring a stronger Indigenous voice to deaths in custody cases lacks detail.

Climate action in the Torres Strait Islands remains a sticking point too. We heard plenty about long-term plans for a net-zero economy, but nothing about what will be done for communities being swallowed by the sea right now. Without short-term infrastructure fixes, the first climate refugees to mainland Australia may very well be our own Indigenous island nation inhabitants.

To view the National Indigenous Times article Labor has won the election and the Greens may have power. What now for Indigenous Australians? in full click here. You can view a related article ‘This will change Australia’: Linda Burney says Labor committed to Indigenous Voice published today in The Sydney Morning Herald here.

Incoming Indigenous Affairs Minister Linda Burney says Australia is ready for a referendum on a Voice to parliament. Photo: Brook Mitchell. Image source: The Sydney Morning Herald.

First Nations eating disorders research

Sydney’s first eating disorders research and translation centre offers nationwide grant opportunity to progress prevention, treatments and support in partnership with research, lived experience, clinical and community experts. The Australian Eating Disorders Research and Translation Centre, led by InsideOut Institute at the University of Sydney, focuses on risk and protective factors, very early intervention and individualised medicine as part of the top 10 research priorities identified in the National Eating Disorders Research and Translation Strategy 2021–31.

The Centre has launched the IgnitED Fund to unearth new ideas that have the potential to solve the problem of eating disorders. IgnitED offers grants of up to $25,000 to develop and test innovative ideas that have potential to improve outcomes for people with eating disorders and their loved ones. It is the Centre’s first funding initiative following the $13 million grant awarded in January to establish the new national centre.

According to the Centre’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Co-Lead, Leilani Darwin, First Nations Australians are believed to experience high rates of eating disorders, disordered eating and food insecurity issues. “The IgnitED Fund facilitates Indigenous innovation,” said Darwin. “For the first time, we are uniquely positioned to elevate the need to better understand the issue of eating disorders and to build the evidence and best practice for our communities.”

For further information and to apply for an IgnitED Fund grant ,visit The University of Sydney Faculty of Medicine and Health webpage National eating disorders centre ignites research fund for new solutions here.

WA bowel cancer screening campaign relaunch

Due to its great success, the Cancer Council WA recently relaunched its 2021 bowel cancer campaign on social media platforms to raise awareness of bowel cancer amongst the Aboriginal WA community. The campaign encourages eligible people to do the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program (NBCSP) home test. Bowel cancer is the third most common cancer affecting the Aboriginal Australian community but is one of the most treatable cancers if found early. Less than half of all eligible West Australians participate when they receive the home test kit which is designed to detect bowel cancer in its very early stages. When detected early, more than 90% of bowel cancers can be treated successfully.

The campaign shares social media tiles featuring local people who are keen to share the message about bowel screening with their communities and encourage more people to do the NBCSP test when they receive it in the mail. Cancer Council WA has teamed up with Mary G, an Aboriginal personality, educator, and radio presenter to raise awareness of bowel cancer amongst the Pilbara and Kimberley Aboriginal communities.  The campaign was developed in consultation with Aboriginal Health Council of Western Australia and Derbarl Yerrigan Health Service, with Aboriginal Medical Services, Elders, and Aboriginal staff from local clinics and organisations in the regions, including WA Country Health Service being consulted in the process.

You can access further information to the Cancer Council WA website here.

Irrkerlantye forgotton for 40 years

Nestled in the hills east of Alice Springs lies Irrkerlantye, a community in limbo. Irrkerlantye has none of the basic services the rest of Australia takes for granted: water is trucked in and a meagre power supply is provided by a few solar panels. There is no sewerage. The residents live in tin sheds and a few decaying demountables that offer little protection from Central Australia’s extreme desert temperatures.

Felicity Hayes has lived at Irrkerlantye most of her life. The stoic Elder is at her wit’s end, saying “We’ve been asking the government for housing and essential services this whole time, however nothing has been done to provide the most basic services that all people are entitled to. We just want people to come here and have a look and not sit in their offices all day and make decisions about us. They need to come here and talk to us because we’re the ones that are suffering.”

The only water supply to the community was cut in 2014 under a Country Liberal government and was never restored. At the time it was seen as an attempt to force the closure of Irrkerlantye. Felicity Hayes and her family could be facing another forty years forgotten on the fringes of one of the world’s most developed countries. “We’ve been fighting for forty years and we’ve got children, the next generation, and they’re still going to be living here” Ms Hayes said.

To view the SBS NITV article How governments have forgotten this NT community for 40 years click here.

Locals say Irrkerlantye has been ignored by all levels of government for decades. Image source: SBS NITV.

‘Through the rood’ food prices in remote NT

John Paterson regularly has people from remote communities text him grocery receipts to show how prices have spiked over the past few months. Travelling across the NT in his role as CEO of Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance Northern Territory (AMSANT) Paterson says he notices prices increase sharply the more remote the location. “It has almost become unaffordable now,” he says.

In the NT, food in supermarkets is 56% more expensive in remote communities than regional supermarkets due to long supply chains and poor quality roads, according to a 2021 report by AMSANT. Inflation – predicted to reach 6% by year’s end – has increased pressure. The Arnhem Land Progress Association (ALPA), supports 27 remote community stores by securing grocery items and covering the store’s freight budgets to reduce the cost of food. Normally, its annual freight budget is $250,000. But in the past 18 months, the fuel levy to deliver food to just five of its remote communities – that require delivery by sea – has risen from $37,000 to $279,000. Rob Totten, store manager of a supermarket in Maningrida, Arnhem Land, says the price of some food products has “gone through the roof”.

Paterson is advocating to extend the footprint of an Aboriginal controlled organisation like ALPA to increase the buying power of remote community stores. “People want fresher food, they want cheaper food, and the way to do that is bulk purchasing by community stores that are run and led by Aboriginal people,” he says. “If we want to close the gap, plus the life expectancy gap between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people, then food security is a major issue that needs serious attention.”

To view The Guardian article ‘Through the roof’ food prices in remote NT are forcing Aboriginal families to make impossible choices in full click here.

Docker River Community Store. Image source: B4BA. Docker River Community Store NT $9.20 receipt for 2L of milk. Image source: The Guardian.

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.

National Palliative Care Week

National Palliative Care Week  (NPCW), held from Sunday 22 to Saturday 28 May 2022, is Australia’s largest annual awareness-raising initiative held to increase understanding of the many benefits of palliative care. The theme for National Palliative Care Week 2022 is It’s your right. The theme seeks to raise awareness about the rights of all Australians to access high-quality palliative care when and where they need it. One of the great myths about palliative care is that it is only a synonym for end-of-life care. It is so much more than that.  Anyone with a life-limiting illness has the right to live as well as possible, for as long as possible.  

Virtual and face-to-face events will be held across the country during National Palliative Care Week 2022 to acknowledge and celebrate the commitment and dedication of all those working and volunteering in the palliative care sector across Australia.   Now in its 27th year, and traditionally held in the last full week of May, NPCW is organised by Palliative Care Australia (PCA) and supported by the Australian Government Department of Health.

To find out more about National Palliative Care Week 2022 you can access the PCA website here. You can also view a range of palliative care resources PCA have developed specifically for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples here.